Archives For January 2014

Esta es una presentacion acerca del desafio de la 2da Generacion. Puedes bajar el document aqui:

Sex and Ministry —  January 29, 2014

Someone once said that if you want to silence a room, talk about sex or death. We will leave death for another time. In this occasion, sex is on the menu. Ministers have sex too. They enjoy it, have issues with it and are tempted by it at the same rate as the people in the pews. Pretending this topic does not exist or is best saved for private conversations is helping no one.  Since the misuse of the gift has caused more than one great servant of God to fall and lose his/her authority and ministry, I want to share some thoughts about sex and the minister.

These are 3 principles that I have found personally helpful:

1. Sex is the one thing.

Think about this for a moment. If you are married, sex is probably one of the only things a person of the opposite sex can do for/with you and it not be a sin. Someone can wash your clothes, clean your house, have dinner, cook your meal, have a conversation…the list goes on. Since sex is that one thing, do it well. Take a trip to see Vicky (for those over 50, Vicky is short for Victoria Secret.  It’s where you buy clothing that is newer than that gown from 1973 with 3 holes, that smells like Bengay and looks like it needs to function as kindle)

Go on a date that ends well. Get a babysitter. Enlist church members or grandma to watch the kids. Goo all out.

Do it well. Like everything, your sex life can get in a rut. What kills marriages more than anything else is: ROUTINE.

Do it well.

2. Be specially mindful after mountain-top experiences.

Usually the devil leaves you alone while you are in the mountain. Retreats, days of fasting and prayer, high Sabbaths, baptisms after a crusade are all examples of mountain top adventures. It’s the next day when the real battle starts. The combination of emotional exhaustion and a neglect of the spiritual disciplines (after all, there should be some spiritual carryover from yesterday!) can be deadly. In North America, the day more people watch porn is Sunday. High spiritual days can be followed by intense spiritual attacks.

Watch and pray.

3. Take stock of your own family history.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. When we make a call for baptisms, we don’t believe that people can come forward that have some type of physical challenge such as a broken leg, and after they receive Jesus in their heart go back to their seats with assurance in their hearts, but no limp. Why is it so hard to understand that the challenges of our family of origin remain with us at a level we seldom acknowledge and persist in pretending does not exist? Usually what we repress we encourage. Sometimes the hurts have been so profound and the wounds so deep, we will preach with a limp the rest of our lives. Being mindful of your past and aware of your weakness will help you, not hurt you.

Hopefully this blog will help you in the journey to enjoy the wonderful, godly gift of sex. We need pastors/leaders to grow in this area and stay close to Jesus.

Earlier in this year I had the opportunity to travel to Cuba to preach a 10 night evangelistic series. Here are some lessons I learned in the process.

1. Be prepared for anything

Normally, when preparing for an evangelistic series, the host pastor is in communication with the guest evangelist through emails or phone calls. In Cuba, I found that this would provide some unique challenges as access to the internet is very difficult for most people. The only thing I knew going in is that I was to speak ten times evangelistically.

So how did I prepare?

I brought my laptop loaded with resources on a variety of subjects.

I also brought my iPad with all my Kindle books so I could study while there, but also so that I could write sermons on the fly and sync them to my iPad. I found this to be extremely. In the US, if you’re preparing for a message, you can access the internet and do research and print out whatever you need. While preparing my messages in Cuba, I didn’t have any access to the internet. I had whatever resources I had brought with me. I wrote my messages, synced them to my iPad, and then brought my iPad up to the pulpit.

Continue Reading…

Letter to my (one year trial) atheist friend Ryan

Unless you have been living under a rock, cable-less, wifi-less, phone-less and media-less, you probably know by now the decision by Ryan Bell to try on atheism for a year. For the three of you who were not aware, here is the link:  (Please read that first, this blog will make more sense.)

I have been debating whether to write on this topic, primarily because of all the significant and existing volume of articles, blogs, reporting, and internet chatter. Yet, even at the risk of being redundantly redundant, here are my thoughts who are primarily directed to Ryan as well as ministers/pastors/leaders that may read this at some time. My reflections are not about why you decided, but rather what you decided.

I am…

1. Sad.

First of all, Ryan, I am sad about what has happened in you. For those who do not know Ryan, it would take you one minute in conversation with him to see how talented, smart, articulate and passionate he is. Well read. Well intentioned. Big heart. Yet this decision goes specifically contrary to scripture. This decision does not further the cause of Christ and helps no one get close to a God that passionately seeks to enter into an eternal relationship with his creation, us. I am sad that Ryan chose to distance himself from his Creator. I don’t wish evil on him. I wish he would reconsider his decision and reconnect with God.

2. Sorry.

Secondly, Ryan, I am sorry about what has happened to you. Ryan mentions the fact that he has experienced trauma in the past year. That may very well be a contributing factor in this decision. Behind every departure there is distress. Some of the reaction from our own faith community has been less than gracious, to say the least. Some don’t know how to disagree without resorting to personal attacks, name calling and insults.

At the same time, there are countless people that have experienced similar or more severe trauma and their faith has been strengthened not discarded. Conflict, trauma, pain all lead us to a building with two doors. One says: Faith. The other says: Doubt. We decide in which one to walk through. Inside Doubt, we are handed an onion. Peel all the layers, and at the end we are left with nothing except smelly hands and tear-filled eyes.  Walk through the Faith door and we are handed a pair of dumbbells. Painful at the beginning to our muscles, but strengthened in the end. I second Kessia Bennet’s assessment of how to deal with doubts: You approach them from the perspective of faith.

My wish for Ryan is that the pain in his life, private, personal or public might drive him to God, not away from Him. I don’t believe it’s too late.

3. Sobered.

Thirdly, Ryan, I am sobered through your experience. From your article, one specific admission has stayed on my mind. Since you stopped being employed as a pastor, the bible reading, praying, studying also ceased. I thought to myself: Would I study the bible so intensely, pray so continually, and study so diligently IF I wasn’t in the ministry. In other words, do I do what I do because of what I do? This is a struggle many pastors have, where the spiritual disciplines become the tools of the trade and not the source of growth, relationship building and faith. Your experience has helped me to re-examine my own spiritual journey and make sure I am building my personal relationship with God not just my resume.

4. Sure.

Finally, Ryan, I am sure that God still has unchanging, eternal love for you. God’s love is not determined by our wrong or right choices. While I disagree theologically and experientially with your premise and biblical perspective you must never confuse disagreement with disdain. God has stated what he feels about you. Now I want to share mine:

I don’t know you very well. But I love you. And I want you to know that I have been praying for you and will continue to do so. When I saw you on CNN I prayed. When you post something on Facebook I will take that as a chance to pray. I just prayed right before I wrote this letter.

I call on all of us to do the same. That is what God expects, of us.