Top 10 Topics Christians Are Not Learning About

As infected saints, we would do well to not avoid topics because they are convicting. If we desire to be like Jesus, we should want to know and experience the deeper things of the faith. Here are the topics I believe are being neglected by most Christians today.

1. Fasting– Fasting is found throughout Scripture as a way of mourning and refocusing. Even Jesus fasted before He started His ministry. Fasting is a spiritual act of creating space by abstaining for a period of time from something good in order to draw nearer to God. I can say from my own experience with fasting that it is a megaphone to God’s voice in my life. I gain clarity of purpose and perspective from the Lord. It is a neglected discipline that would be powerful in our lives if we practiced it.

2. Repentance– Who wants to talk about turning away from the pleasures of sin? Repentance is out of style with churches that have gone easier on sin. Yet, repentance is a way of life for a Christian trying to be like Jesus. Confessing and turning away from sin must be part of the Christian life.

3. Holiness– We are called to be holy as God is holy. We don’t talk often enough about being “set apart” as a holy people. Holiness is what makes us different than the world. If we look like the world, then our message loses its relevance and power to a lost world. How we live matters.

4. Accountability– In our rebellion towards God, we resist accountability. We don’t want to be told we are wrong, especially when we like doing what we are doing. We find all kinds of ways to excuse accountability and rationalize our sin. Many Christians neglect this practice in their lives and are hindered spiritually because of it.

5. Singleness– The church often lacks a strong message about being single. Most messages and programs are centered around the married. Singleness is not addressed as it should be. The Bible celebrates singleness as an opportunity to be more devoted, without distraction, to the Lord (1 Cor 7).

6. The Holy Spirit– We often celebrate two members of the triune Godhead. We magnify the Father in worship and prayer. We highlight the Son as our hope of salvation. So often, the Holy Spirit is, at best, insinuated in our churches. There is the assumption the Spirit is real and moving. We non-charismatics just don’t speak about Him often enough. He was so vital to the church that Jesus told His disciples to be glad He was leaving because He was sending the Spirit!

7. Sex– This is often a taboo topic in church, though it is a major topic in the minds of young people and adults. Its distortion is plastered on billboards, magazines, Internet, and television. Yet, God created it as good. The church needs to speak boldly and clearly on the topic.

8. Old Testament– It is easy to focus on the New Testament as a Christian; it is the story of Jesus and His church.  On the other hand, the Old Testament offers strange stories, the constant failure of Israel, several gruesome battles, and prophets preaching naked in the streets and talking about dry bones. It feels more appropriate for a Jerry Springer show than our reading list. Yet, the Old Testament is raw because life is hard and cruel—it gets real about sin and consequence. It tells the story of man’s restoration to God and the promise of the coming Savior.  Therefore, it is vital to our understanding of the Gospel.

9. Heaven/Hell– We refer to Heaven and Hell a lot, but do we talk about them as a future reality in our lives? We need to talk about Hell because it creates urgency within us to share the Gospel with those who are without Jesus. We need to talk more about Heaven because it spurs us on to endure and finish well.

10. Parents as Spiritual Leaders– Parenthood is the toughest thing I do! It is difficult to parent well. Our kids need to see their parents are not Christian in name only. Kids should not get all of their spiritual knowledge and training just from the church. Parents need to be challenged to be spiritual leaders at home. This is an epidemic in churches today. The church is given the task of raising students spiritually. That robs children of the guidance they need from their parents spiritually. It robs parents of playing a role in the most important area of their child’s life!

I pray we give more and more attention to these topics. They are vital to our spiritual life.  ~Dax

Why the Church Still Needs Youth and Children’s Ministries

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Should students (K-12) be separated from their parents at church? This is a question of much debate among some. Those who argue that separation is negative for the family believe children need to see their parents worship. They learn by imitation, and, the way our culture is heading, students and parents already spend a majority of time apart from each other doing their own thing. Besides, there is something special about parents worshiping alongside their children. I see value in that.

Yet, my experience with this says children are mostly bored with “adult” talk and don’t engage in this setting. I think having times where togetherness happens should be a part of every local church’s planning, but more than ever, our churches need strong children and youth ministries that are intentional about engaging students in ways that train them as Christian warriors. It is beneficial for students to be with their peers learning about Jesus and what that means for their lives. Adults need that alone time with their peers as well.

Every pastor to students (children and youth pastors) worth his salt longs to do family ministry. Pastors don’t want to be “all things spiritual” to students. They are burdened for parents to step up and be the spiritual leaders. They long to walk alongside them in training their child spiritually. They don’t want to replace the parent, but they are experts in understanding how students tick. They know their needs are different than adults, and they know how to engage minds and hearts in a way students understand. Instead of hoarding this knowledge, they desire to help parents better engage their children spiritually.

Yet, most parents see student ministry as a replacement rather than a supplement. “Teach my child spiritually because I am not doing it at home” is how many parents in the church are approaching their child’s spiritual life. This is not healthy!  Student pastors are aware of this and long to see parents wake up to the reality that they need to be the loudest voice spiritually in their child’s life.

Our children are under attack. Everywhere they turn, their inexperienced eyes are bombarded with temptation, immorality, cruelty, and wickedness of every kind. There is no debating this is only getting worse. It doesn’t matter if you send your kids to public school or homeschool; unless you lock them in a room and keep them away from all technology and outside influence, they will face these things to some degree. Even if you manage to shelter them from most of it, eventually they will step into the world as young adults. No matter what, they will face the realities of this wicked world.

Good student ministers intersect the Word with life on a level students get. These ministers speak honestly and boldly about temptations that will be faced and help students be prepared to stand against them. They are skilled and passionate and, therefore, effective at not only training students but also working alongside parents to train their children to be in the world but not of the world.  The best student ministers do not oppose family ministry but embrace it by seeking to influence parents to better engage their children with spiritual truth.

I see four ways that motivate student ministers in these tasks:

  1. Teach the Word to students in an engaging and practical way that students can apply to their lives.
  2. Teach students to serve the Kingdom now and not wait until adulthood (which usually means they probably won’t serve then either).
  3. Engage parents on what is happening in their ministry so parents can utilize the information in spiritual training of their children.
  4. Equip parents to be the spiritual leaders to their student at home.

Thriving student ministries have no desire to isolate students form their parents. Instead, they provide a valuable service of walking alongside intentional parents who long to see their children know God and make Him known. Rather than dismissing student ministries and bringing families together for the whole time at church, Christian parents need to catch a vision for their role as spiritual leaders to their children and embrace student ministries as a helpful reinforcement to their own efforts with their children. Our children need godly parents and godly student ministries. This will lead to children becoming mighty warriors for God.

 

Why So Angry? Support For Christians Struggling With Anger

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19 Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; 20 for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God. James 1:19-20

Is it wrong to be this angry? That really is the question is it not? Anger is not necessarily a negative emotion. It really depends on the “why” and the “how” behind your anger. I would suggest your goal not to be to eliminate anger but to better understand the dynamics behind it so that you can better manage your anger.

So first of all, WHY do we get angry? What leads us to get so upset that our blood boils? See if one or more of these do not relate to your struggle.

  • To hurt yourself– you mess up and you cannot stand it. The perfectionist in you raves about the fact that you can’t always get it right. So you direct anger at yourself. You self loathe. You hate feeling like a failure as a spouse, parent, worker, or in general. So you have this self hatred that exists and brews in you.
  • To achieve control of the situation– quite often we get upset that a situation or relationship is not going the way we want. We feel like it is out of our control. That can cause us to feel panicky. Some, in moments of panic, run and hide. Others feel cornered and lash out. Anger is our attempt to gain control back in the situation. To manipulate the situation more to our liking. I find this to be a major cause of many people’s anger issues.
  • To feel powerful- no one likes to feel small. For some, feeling small brings the demon out in us. We lash out with sarcastic venom or passive aggressive subterfuge or barrages of curse words. We tear them down so they feel much smaller than we just felt. You may not realize in the moment this is what you are doing but if you take time to evaluate your outburst of anger honestly, then you might find that this is the culprit.
  • To fight injustice- we might call this righteous indignation. Jesus showed anger towards injustice. When the money changers were using God’s house as a way to make a fortune, Jesus got very angry. So angry he turned their tables over! (See Matthew 21:12). This anger comes from a deep conviction of what is right and wrong. It is our moral center. It is our desire to stand up for what God values. It is outrage towards injustice. This anger is a proper reaction to injustice as long as it is under control, less we act unwisely.

So there are four reasons we get angry. If you are like me you can relate to all four of them. Question now is how do we better manage our anger in a way that honors God and is healthy for us.

HOW to deal with your anger:

  • Don’t ignore it or try to suppress it– this never works! Our anger just builds up until it becomes a major explosion. Think about a tea kettle being heated on the stove.The water begins to boil and steam is produced. Steam creates pressure and pressure needs to be released. The kettle releases the pressure through a top spout. The kettle can literally whistle in relief as the pressure is released. When our anger builds, we feel the growing tension of it in our soul. It stays there growing until eventually we let it out to purge ourselves of the tension. The more we let it build the greater the impact of release. It feels good to relieve the pressure, so in our moment of anger it fees right and good to us. Afterwards we see the destruction it left behind. We have to deal with our anger. We have to get behind it to deal with its source: fear.
  • Recognize that Fear is the real issue- some of us are terrified of being hurt. We fear being devalued or taken lightly. We fear our voice not being heard. We fear losing control. Fear is the source of much of our anger. In order to properly deal with our anger, we need to tackle our fear. God’s word tells us He did not give us a spirit of fear (2 Timothy 1:7). Rather we are to have self control. We are to control our fear and not wait and try and control our anger. When it gets to anger it is too late. We need to deal with the fact that our fear is us being minimized. Instead of defending our worth in hopes they buy it, we need to better understand where our true value comes from. This means dealing with our insecurity.
  • Don’t let insecurity put you on the attack- Anger is a defense mechanism. We deeply feel our own failings and insecurities and it can overwhelm us, so we lash out defensively so the feelings will stop. Insecurity is like a raw wound in us. You would react violently to anyone trying to jab their finger in your wound. Anger is our attempt to get  that person to stop exposing our insecurity. Where does our insecurity come from? There might be many reasons you experience insecurity: past rejection, demanding relationship with your parents, divorce, broken relationships,  or your personality tendencies. Regardless of where the insecurity stems from it is in understanding your value in Christ that you realize you don’t need to get so  angry in order to defend yourself and your honor.

Anger is not always the wrong response to life but often it indicates a greater issue that exists. Be honest with yourself about why you get angry. Is there one of the above reasons  that resonates with you the most? Consider how to deal with the source of that anger. Have courage to face your insecurities and fear head on. Knowledge is power and your being aware is a great step. You can do this with the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit behind you.

Dax

 

CHILDREN TEACH ADULTS

Learn from children. They have something to show you about how you should live.

Let me first say that children are precious. God sees children as invaluable. He promises divine retribution to those who hurt children. Civilized society rages against anyone who harms a child. Children must be protected at all costs. That is a timeless principle.

Now what can we learn from these precious children. Children don’t worry. They don’t worry about tomorrow, or health, or social status, or anything else that plagues adults with stress and worry. Kids just trust. Sure this trust can be misplaced. That’s why we have to protect them. But they trust those who love them. You teach them early about God and they will remind you of how awesome God is.

My six year old constantly let’s me know that no one measures up to God. God is stronger, taller, the best vegetable eater, greatest basketball player, colorer, bed-maker, and the cleanest entity in all the universe. God is His hero. He trusts Him with complete abandon. No questions asked. And my son expects me to do the same.

Jesus said: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”

That is telling! Children trust and we should trust too: feet first, all in, no holding back. Children don’t worry because they believe that someone capable will take care of their needs. Adults, it’s time for us to quit stressing and trust the Heavenly Father, who is more than capable, to take care of us.

I dedicate this post to Children’s Pastors and Directors, to Children and Nursery workers, to churches that help children in need, to programs like Jumpstart that shows the love of Christ in concrete action to kids. To all those who sacrifice so that children can learn more about their God.

Top Ten Christian Books Of All Time

“The discerning person acquires knowledge, and the wise person seeks knowledge” (Proverbs 18:15).

Here is a list of what I think are the top ten Christian books for me. These books are all faithful to the Word of God and have challenged the faith of millions. If you have not read one of these I strongly recommend you check them out. If you think I left one out reply and let me know. I would love to here what Christian books have moved you.

1) Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis

2) The Imitation of Christ Thomas A Kempis

3) Desiring God  John Piper

4) Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan

5) The Cost of Discipleship Dietrich Bonhoeffer

6) Celebration of Discipline Richard Foster

7) Knowing God J.I. Packer

8) Basic Christianity John Stott

9) Soul Talk Larry Crabb

10) The Gospel According To Jesus John MacArthur