Posts in Category: Church

Accordance Leads to Productivity – Accordance Bible Software Review

Pastors Must Have a Bible Study Software: 

I happened to be in the right place at the right time and had the opportunity to check out Accordance Bible Software 12. I have been using a Bible Study software of some kind since the early 2000s. As an evangelist, pastor, and writer I do not see how one could live without it. I am constantly on the go, but with a Bible software like Accordance I always have my study library with me. It allows for study when the opportunity presents itself. It also allows for the right tools for research when the need arises. If you are a pastor or Christian leader and you do not have a Bible study software then you are missing out. You are limiting yourself. Not only is it easily accessible, but the quality of the tools is amazing. I feel confident that I am able to use the best tools available and use them quickly.

Accordance’s Greatest Feature Might Not Be What You Think: 

Throughout my pastorate i have used the big 3 Bible Study softwares – Logos, Bible Works, and now Accordance. In my selecting of a software in the past I choose based on the number of resources and the claim of which tool had the most to offer. Really at this point the big 3 are all increasing in those areas. Yet in my use of Accordance a feature jumped out at me. One that I had never considered, but that has been a huge benefit – is that the Accordance workspace is very easy to use and allows me to get to a focused productive study faster than i have with other softwares. This may sound trivial, but it may become one of my biggest concerns. i struggle to focus in my study. I have limited time, but that doesn’t keep me from becoming distracted and chasing rabbits. Busy interfaces and workspaces definitely cause me to become distracted. I might piddle around with unnecessary features and resources rather than jumping into my study. With Accordance I found myself immediately proceeding into a very focused study. This same benefit proved helpful when i would leave my computer and come back to study. I immediately was able to jump into where i left off.

For someone with lots of projects going – this was very valuable.

It is like working on a clean desk, with well organized tools.

So i encourage the busy pastor, teacher, or writer who is struggling to balance time and still have productive study preparation to give Accordance a try.

See if the clean workspace helps you be more focused and productive. It has for me.

  • Jake McCandless – pastor, executive director of Prophecy Simplified, and author of Spiritual Prepper. 

The Monotonous Missionary

I want to do something spectacular for the Lord. I want to be used in a mighty way like the biblical heroes before me. I want to preach and have a Day of Pentecost movement follow with thousands trusting the Lord as their Savior. I want to write a book that transforms lives across the country. I want to write a song that touches millions like Chris Tomlin. I want to lead the church I pastor to become a force in our local community and in the world. I want to lead my marriage to be that romance and spiritual force that others would want to pattern their marriages after. I want to raise my children to change the world.

But instead last night at home I played Hungry Hippos, took out the trash, and plunged a stopped-up toilet; and, that afternoon at church I typed up a bulletin and checked to make sure the heat wasn’t left too high.

Called by God. Challenged from Scripture. On fire and wanting to change the world, but doing the monotonous and mundane.

I thought I was alone, but I heard a testimony Sunday that makes me believe many other Christians feel the same way as I do. They want to fight the good fight, but instead are fighting the ho-hum. On Sundays, sermon after sermon and song after song tell us to die to ourselves and give our all to God, but we have to then go home and cook lunch. Then clean-up the dishes. Then mow the yard or do the laundry.

The testimony was from two college students who have their heart set on being vocational missionaries for the International Missionary Board. The couple had spent six months on an international mission trip, and they were reporting back to our church. They shared how they headed to Southeast Asia on fire to share the Gospel and to be used of God to peel back the darkness of that nation. They had trained and prepared. They had prayed and prayed. They had many people supporting them financially. They had far more praying for them.

But they spent their days doing the mundane. Since there was not processed food the meals that normally took fifteen minutes to prepare here in the States turned into two hours or more. They dealt with sickness and spent time bouncing to doctors and translators. There was plumbing issues in their apartment that took them three days to correct. The city they were in at times would lose power for week or more at a time which limited what they could do.

The cultural and language barriers were so difficult to cross that in that six month time period they were only able to share with a few individuals.

They had died to themselves and given their all to God. Their all still couldn’t transcend the daily grind and their all was not much in the wake of the vast lostness they faced. Yet God was pleased and glorified with their obedience and efforts. Although they didn’t get to do the spectacular, ministry was done through their faithfulness in the monotonous.

This revelation shook me to the core — God doesn’t need me. He doesn’t need me accomplishing the remarkable, but He invites me to participate in His work. He is going to do and accomplish His Will, but through His grace He invites us along for the ride. All we have to do is be faithful. All we have to do is the daily grind. All we have to do is the mundane.

Therefore I will be content to be a monotonous missionary.

Will you?

I See Fire and that is How We Should See the Christian Life

It was not merely for entertainment that Bunyan expressed a walk with Christ as a pilgrim’s journey, nor was it for Tolkien who illustrated the Christian life with a quest through Middle Earth, neither was that the case for Lewis who captured it with fighting battles alongside a mighty Lion in the land of Narnia. Bunyan, Tolkien, Lewis, and others chose tales of daring adventures because such an adventure is the reality of the Christian life.

I am afraid that only a few would agree with that reality. What about you?

Have you been taught that the Christian walk is an adventure? I hope so.

Have you experienced it for yourself? If not you are missing the fullness of a life in Christ.

As a kid and young teenager I thought Christianity was so booooooorrrring! To me a life following Christ — was enduring a sermon, singing old songs, not having fun, and following rules. It was saying no to fun and avoiding any excitement. I thought following Christ made someone weak, and that it kept someone from experiencing life. Then I got out of the pew and experienced a personal walk with Christ myself. I also began to learn about Christians who have come before us — those who laid down their life and gave everything for the cause of Christ.

Through that I began to find that following Christ was like falling into a rabbit hole, transporting through the back of a wardrobe, and leaving the shire.

Even though I have experienced a bit of the adventure and do believe that a walk with Christ is definitely such a journey I find myself forgetting. I’m afraid that Bunyan’s picture in Pilgrim’s Progress is not the image western Christians have in their mind when they think of Christianity. Even if they do view an adventure to be had it is reserved for someone else.

I am a huge music fan with quite the eclectic taste. The other day my careful “thumbs up” and “thumbs down” on Pandora led me to Ed Sheeran’s “I See Fire”. The song is from the soundtrack to one of the Hobbit movies. “I See Fire” tells of the band of dwarfs and the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, journeying to reclaim the dwarf homeland. It tells of the dangerous perils and exciting twists. Immediately, I fell in love with the song with lyrics like: “If this is to end in fire then we should all burn together watch the flames climb high into the night,” and “And if we should die tonight then we should all die together raise a glass of wine for the last time.” Check out the song for yourself: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mllXxyHTzfg

The song conjured up images of a band of brothers giving their lives to what they believed in. It drew pictures of danger and excitement.

I instantly thought what if we sang this at church? Minus the parts about the “eye of the mountain” and “Durin’s sons” wouldn’t it be amazing if the collective voice of the church rallied to face the fire together.

Now I doubt our worship leader is going to go for it and my congregation may not be that keen on singing Ed Sheeran, but I wish that we could regularly view our walk with Christ as an adventure. I wish we would see our mission of the Gospel like the quest of the dwarfs and Hobbit to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon. I wish that as followers of Christ we would see the reality of the exciting life in Him. I wish we would see fire for that is how the Christian life is meant to be lived — an adventure, quest, or journey.

 

 

Steps to Discover Your Spiritual Gifts

It is important to discover your spiritual gift. Discovering that gift is not an exact science but would be best described as a journey or a process. Here are some ideas to help you find your gift:

 For the Christian Who has Served in Ministry:

Pray: Put your heart in neutral, and pray for God to reveal this to you.

Read Scriptures of Spiritual Gifts:

  • What makes your heart leap?
  • Which one do you think describes you?
  • Write this down

 

Examine Your Service:

  • Ask yourself out of all the areas you have ministered and served which did you enjoy the most?
    • not where you were out of fear
    • not where it was easy
    • but what gave you the greatest peace and satisfaction
  • In which ministry or area of service did you excel?
  • In which ministry or area of service did you see fruit in your own growth and to others?
  • In which ministry or area of service did you improve?
  • Is there an area of ministry that you have been drawn to but have been afraid or not had the opportunity?
    • If so take the plunge go for that, try it for a while and then review it compared to the other places.

 

Ask Trusted Christians:

  • Ask someone(s) who has worked with you in ministry what your strengths, weaknesses, and where your gift maybe.
  • Ask someone(s) who supervised you in ministry – pastor, staff member, team leader, ministry director.
  • Ask a Christian friend
  • Ask a family member (they will be able to tell you what you talk the most about, your passion)
  • Ask your spouse (they will be able to tell you what you talk the most about, your passion)

 

Complete Inventories…

  • Complete spiritual gift Inventory/Test. Like this one [here]. The score sheet is [here].
  • For placement and fine tuning…
    • Complete interest inventory
    • Complete talent inventory
    • Complete experience/training inventory

 For the New Christian or a Christian Who Has Not Served:

  • Pray for direction and a starting point
  • Read Scriptures of gifts see where you are drawn.
  • Complete a Spiritual Gift Inventory/test. Like this one [here]. The score sheet is [here].
  • Complete interest inventory or simply list your ministry interests.
  • Complete talent inventory or simply list your talents and skills.
  • Complete experience/training inventory or simply list what God has already allowed you to learn.
  • Start where those results direct, but try numerous ministries.
  • Once you have tried different areas of service follow the steps for Christians who have served.

Rumor Has It That It’s Going Down in September

The Warnings…

In September the US stock market will crash and a cataclysmic event might accompany it is what Jonathan Cahn wrote in his book The Mystery of The Shemitah. This was a follow-up from him writing in The Harbinger that America has been warned and a nation ending judgment is coming. The US stock market is definitely due a correction (crash) says Dan Celia host of the Christian radio show Financial Issues. John Hagee and Mark Blitz have written that the four lunar eclipses or Blood Moons on Jewish feast days this year and last are signs that God is going to do something big probably beginning in September or October of 2015 when the “signs” conclude. Jim Baker is selling buckets of food and preaching that we are going to need it in September when it all comes crashing down. You can even purchase the seven year tribulation package of food.

Perry Stone is preaching that September 2015 is the final trimester of the Scriptural “labor pains”. Jesse Ventura says that the FEMA death camps are ready for those with a blue sticker hidden on their mailbox. A random video on YouTube says that America is the mysterious Babylon in Revelation 18. The video queued after it says the Illuminati are ready to ascend to the throne.

I had you at Jim Baker, right?

From Jim Baker down my list was more tongue and cheek, but there is a lot of preaching chatter about September 2015, and some of it is coming from godly, respectable men like Jonathan Cahn and Dan Celia.

 

An Uncertain Watchman…

A few weeks back I preached on the subject of Cahn’s The Mystery of the Shemitah. I felt lead to do so, but I really struggled because I have no clue if it’s true — unfortunately the Lord hasn’t whispered in my ear and said in September its going down nor can I find any biblical basis for the claim that Cahn makes. Yet I preceded because I believe part of my job as a pastor is to be a watchman on the wall and those inside the walls needed to hear what the watchman had heard. I was glad I did because when I asked how many had heard of Cahn’s book only a handful of hands went up. It is because of that I make this post. In my sermon I concluded that I have no idea what is going to go down, but as we read and test these messages the Holy Spirit in us will help guide us. This post is a path for you to prayer walk down and let God begin to guide you one way or the other.

 

The Mystery of the Shemitah…

The Shemitah that Cahn refers to is the Sabbatical year of Israel where they were commanded to let the land lay and not plant or harvest, as well as, forgive debts. Cahn writes that “all” the major stock market crashes in US history have happened in conjunction with the Shemitah year especially on one day the Jewish 29th of Elul. The stock market crashes of 2001 and 2008 both occurred according to this. 9/11 happened on this date. This year is the Shemitah year and Elul 29th is Sept. 13th. He warns that something will happen this year.

There is not a biblical basis to make the jump from the Old Testament law to how God judges the US. I believe if we trust Cahn’s message it has to be taken as a prophetic word which includes progressive revelation. Now God definitely works in order. It is reasonable and somewhat biblical to expect Him to work in the “order” or “system” He created.

Here are some links to Cahn’s message of the Shemitah: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8TsYBuw6rko

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8B14NSIWc8

Here is a link to a critique of Cahn’s message: http://www.biblicalintegrity.org/2014/09/19/mystery-of-the-shemitah/

Here are links to Cahn’s message from The Harbinger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wZwZyaKbuFw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=stPCMvM3R_M

 

Get Cash and Go Conservative…

Dan Celia has been warning of a stock market reset in September or October of 2015. He has encouraged people to have cash at home and to move retirement and other investments into more conservative funds like a money market account. His conclusion comes from a market analysis and I would argue godly wisdom. He is not the only financial guru who feels this way. Major investors have been taking cash positions for some time.

Here are links to Celia’s message: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ss7Au5K-32U

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX29uB8Jf2G4cPrtqlQRXzQ

 

You Need a Reasonably Sized Barn…

So…as I ended my sermon that day and I end this post  — I have no idea. So would you do what I have done and sought to discern from the Lord what I should do. Take some measures to prep. I think everyone should think in terms of “if I was living on a farm in the early 1800s what measures would I go to to have a self-sustaining my family.” We live in the advent of ATMs, debit cards, Amazon, Sam’s, grocery stores, and microwaves so we just worry about sustaining ourselves for dinner that evening — we have been able to change our mindset from the way it has been throughout history for humanity.   In that time in the past they wouldn’t be prepared to take on an army, survive a nuclear holocaust, or have food for seven years, but they would be able to sustain themselves for a bad winter or at least no how to do so. Consider that.

 

Look at Other Train Wrecks…

Financially look to Greece and other nations that have hit with a financial crisis. Look back at the Great Depression. When banks closed even if  only temporarily having some cash on hand would be handy. Knowing that a certain degree of chaos can follow is not that horrible either. Having a few basics on hand might make things easier. Think on the effects of the stock market in 2008. Would you be better served to have your investments in a conservative position at least during the downturn? Read on how the Kennedy’s got their wealth by having cash sheltered in the crash and then readily available when the market recovered.

 

The Most Important Preparations…

But more importantly prep spiritually, make sure you are right with God if in case some of the YouTube prophets are right and the Yellowstone super volcano blows or Jade Helm is more than meets the eye.

And I think more applicable in light of an economic downturn is —  don’t lose your faith. Do not shrink back in your walk with the Lord. Matthew 24:10 says that many will turn away from Jesus in times of difficulty.

 

Why Not This September…

Again I don’t know what is going to go down in September. I hope nothing, but the Arkansas Razorbacks going 4-0. But sarcasm aside something is going to happen sometime. We have to get real. We have to take the scales off our eyes. The US economic system cannot sustain unless something radical happens and far more radical than any of Donald Trump’s plan. Excluding a miracle, I think nothing short of conquering foreign assets or pimping half the nation out to China will work. Our economy is a house of cards sitting built on the top of a car that is speeding on interstate. Also the US does not make the end of the age nation roster in Scripture, at least not as a super power or with its own sovereign rule, so some time things will change. So I guess it could go down this September.

Here are links to masterfully written articles on The Four Blood Moons: http://graytotebox.com/the-four-blood-moons-considered/

http://graytotebox.com/the-blood-moons-are-you-seeing-what-i-see/

Here’s a link to the full September 2015 rumor meal: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/51107-10-things-that-are-going-to-happen-within-15-days-of-the-end-of-the-shemitah

To end with sarcasm here’s a link to Jim Baker’s food resources:http://jimbakkershow.com/lovegifts/food/bundles.html