The Alternate Universe: True Christian Spirituality

true Christian spiritualityToday’s guest post is by Dr. Daniel Bush, author of Live in Liberty: The Spiritual Message of Galatians and Embracing God as Father: Christian Identity in the Family of God. Dan holds a B.Sci. from Michigan Technological University, the M.Div. and Th.M. degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and a Ph.D. in systematic theology from the University of Aberdeen (Scotland).

I don’t recall how the conversation turned to the topic of hair. My sister-in-law noticed I still had a full head of hair, which is nothing spectacular, except when compared to my brother, who is growing bald patches where he ought to be growing luscious locks. So, I strutted and made a joke about Rogaine, then got honest: My brother is losing hair, but what he has is dark while mine is beginning to look like winter preemptively struck—morning frost everywhere.

Gray hair means I’m getting old and tired, and one of the things I’m tired of is comparisons, which are a gentle way of judging. We compare everything: our green lawns, our athletic and academic children, our fulfilled lives, our sin, and then we use social media to prove to ourselves and others that we actually have a life, a bunch of friends, a brilliant smile, and can strike a pose with the best of them. Beneath it all, however, we’re unconsciously leveling all of these things, attempting to compare goodness. It’s mostly innocent; nevertheless, the impulse to compare goodness is as powerful as the impulse to get a cup of coffee on a frosty winter morning.

There’s one more thing making my hair grey: Bumping into the notion that following Jesus is really all about “getting better”—that is to say, Christian spirituality is about putting an end to all of our sinning.

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How the Church Can Respond to Troubling Statistics about Millennials

millenials

Dan Lovaglia, director of leadership development at Awana, says there’s a disconnect between the church’s objectives and our results—particularly in children’s ministries. Across denominations, ministries and churches share many of the same goals for discipling kids—and we experience many of the same problems reaching those goals.

The issue isn’t how we are addressing the individual problems with children’s ministries. Dan says the issue is discipleship.

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Evaluating C.S. Lewis’ “Liar, Lunatic, or Lord” Trilemma

who is jesus

In George Marsden’s brand new “biography” of C.S. Lewis’ book Mere Christianity (part of Princeton University Press’s “Lives of Great Religious Books” series), Marsden offers a thorough round-up of opinion on Lewis’ famous “trilemma.” Lewis said to the British nation through the BBC broadcast talks which became his influential book,

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about [Christ]: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (52)

Liar, lunatic, or Lord. That’s the trilemma.
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7 Problems Facing Children’s Ministry

problems with children's church

Providing separate ministries for children, teens, and young adults is how churches lean into knowledge of childhood development and adolescence. It’s how the body of Christ walks beside parents to teach kids to embrace and live out the gospel. It’s about meeting kids on their level, and sharing the gospel in a way that makes sense to them.

But children’s ministry doesn’t always live up to our ideals.

In Relational Children’s Ministry: Turning Kid-Influencers Into Disciple Makers, Awana’s Dan Lovaglia highlights some of the key issues with children’s ministry today.

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Cadence International Hospitality House: Serving Those Who Serve

US Air Force

Michael Payne, a missionary with Cadence International, has recently started trying out Proclaim as he serves the men and women of the U.S. Air Force in South Korea. We’ve had the privilege of learning a little more about how God is using Michael and other missionaries through the ministry of Cadence International.

The brave men and women who serve in the armed forces experience conditions on a regular basis that no person should ever have to face. Whether they serve for a couple of years or a couple of decades, people who serve in the military are among those most likely to experience psychological trauma like survivor’s guilt and PTSD.

“You’re going to see things,” Michael says. “You’re going to be exposed to things, that in the normal course of life you shouldn’t be exposed to.” That’s why Cadence International exists. By being the hands and feet of Jesus, Michael gets to tell soldiers, “You don’t have to go it alone.”

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Get Ministry Tips from Ed Stetzer, Sean McDowell, and More!

Vantage Conference

On April 22, you have the opportunity to hear from an incredible lineup of speakers. Vantage Conference by Awana Ministries is bringing together Ed Stetzer, Sean McDowell, Kris Smoll, Dan Lovaglia, and Josh Griffin to talk about reaching the next generation of kids.

You can stream the conference live or on demand with Faithlife.

This massive gathering of ministry professionals and volunteers is designed to fuel your passion for kids and help you reach your potential as a leader. The focus this year is on relational ministry and discipleship, or as Awana calls it, “The Great Connection.” If you want to develop meaningful relationships that illuminate the gospel, this is your conference.

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Calling All Youth Leaders, Mentors, and Disciple-Makers

youth leadersAwana’s Vantage Conference is a major growth opportunity for anyone involved with youth or children’s ministry. If you can’t make it to Awana’s headquarters in Illinois on April 22, you can still watch it live or on demand with us.

Follow Vantage Conference on Faithlife for a free leadership development experience—read half of Relational Children’s Ministry: Turning Kid-Influencers Into Lifelong Disciple-Makers by Dan Lovaglia—Awana’s director of leadership development.

This brand-new book gives you practical, time-tested tools and tips for discipleship, and it’s specifically catered to those in youth ministry.

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How a Trip to Israel Changed the Way I Read the Bible

touring Israel

Today’s guest post is by Pastor Dan McEvoy from North Bay Christ the King Community Church, in Blaine, Washington.

My first images of Jesus and the land he lived in were a cheap print of Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” at my grandparents’ house and cartoon images on flannel graphs at Vacation Bible School. When I got older, what I pictured as the Holy Land came from poorly-produced movies starring characters with British accents and the evening news showing the Israeli and Palestinian conflict. When I became a Christian and began reading the Bible and hearing sermons, my mind began to form images of what I thought the Holy Land might be like—images that I adapted and described to others when I became a pastor.

It wasn’t until I personally toured Israel that I realized the picture in my mind was two dimensional and black and white.

From the moment I stepped off the plane, I sensed I was about to experience something very special and holy. With the help of a highly knowledgeable and articulate tour guide who brought us to places we knew well from Scripture, the Bible came alive in an instant. It’s hard to describe in words how my pilgrimage profoundly transformed me, but I’d like to share some highlights from my 10-day journey.

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3 Sermon Illustrations on Sin

Easter sermon illustrations

In a culture that doesn’t sacrifice animals on altars when we make mistakes, it’s sometimes tough to explain how and why Jesus’ death on the cross atones for our sins. Without a system for understanding sin, sacrifice, and repentance, something doesn’t quite add up.

Sometimes when sharing the gospel we want to cut to the chase—Jesus rose from the dead and offers us eternal life. But to understand the significance of that world-changing event, people have to understand how sin hijacks our relationship with God, and how Jesus’ death restores that relationship.

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