managingministry-650x220Pastors and ministry leaders are often thrown into the deep end of the pool without a whole lot of coaching when it comes to managing the avalanche of demands, opportunities, and interruptions that make up life in the ministry. And unfortunately for most of us who trained for ministry, our seminary training was woefully lacking in that area.

And that’s why we invited Knute Larson to join us in this webinar. Knute not only has 48 years of pastoral experience, but management and church administration was one of his fortes. He has served as an associate pastor, a senior pastor of a church of 200, and as a senior pastor of a megachurch of 8,000. He currently coaches over 300 pastors regarding effective administrative issues.

Knute joined me and co-host Joe Tower, director of the Church Ministries division of RBC Ministries, to share some of the insights he’s honed throughout his years of ministry. And in keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the live webinar event, click the link: Managing the Ministry Webinar Audio.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: Managing the Ministry PPT.

To get a free PDF download of Knute’s booklet of pastoral insights, click the title link: Managing the Ministry: Unraveling the Knots of Church Administration. You can also visit Knute’s website for more helpful information on his speaking and coaching ministry at: Knute Larson.

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you weather the challenges of ministry, click the link: Administration.

Listen

Dennis Moles —  May 13, 2014 — 1 Comment

 

Porch Swing-Flickr: Creative Commons/Danie Becknell

Porch Swing-Flickr: Creative Commons/Danie Becknell

In my culture (I was born and raised in Appalachian coal country), storytelling is both an art and a way of life. I’m not sure of the degree to which illiteracy and economic depression nurtured this gift in my ancestors, but the ability to teach, entertain, and communicate via stories is highly prized where I come from.

I’ve been many places and met loads of intelligent and gifted people over the years, but some of the best storytellers I’ve ever known are from back home—not the lest of which is my dad.

The storytellers

The storytellers

Dad was and is quite the storyteller. He has a gift for the art of it. Dad uses words the way a painter might use oil or acrylic—the imagination of his listeners is his canvas. Dad has the flare, imagination, and creativity to spin a tale, but he’s still not the storyteller my grandfather was.

Why? Poppaw has better stories. Dementia has robbed my children of the joy of hearing their great-grandfather tell his stories, but it has not and cannot keep them from the wisdom he has passed on through them.

Poppaw wasn’t the artist dad is. His stories didn’t run on wit. They ran on wisdom—maybe that’s why they were so powerful. Some storytellers have to be the hero in their stories, but that wasn’t the case with Poppaw. Sometimes he was the one who needed saving. In his stories, he wasn’t a war hero but a terrified 21-year-old from Confidence, West Virginia, who jumped out of a C-47 on June 6, 1944. He wasn’t a “Screaming Eagle” bravely running through the French night but a farm boy who didn’t know whether he’d live to see another sunrise. In his stories, the German soldiers weren’t monsters. They were boys who stood on the far side of a river that was small enough for the Germans and the Americans to throw packets of cigarettes to each other from one side to the other.

His stories didn’t always cast him or our family in PoppawArmya favorable light, but they almost always taught me an important life-lesson. They were gifts that I could not fully appreciate at the time but have grown to treasure over the years.

The writer of the Proverbs says: “Listen, my son, to your father’s instruction and do not forsake your mother’s teaching. They are a garland to grace your head and a chain to adorn your neck” (1:8-9).

The older I get, the more I realize that wisdom permeated Poppaw’s stories. He wasn’t telling me stories just to entertain or inform me. He was telling me his story with the hope that I would find wisdom in the retelling.

So tell me, who in your life is (was) worthy of listening to?

 

 

 

findinggod-650x220Life is difficult. Flat tires, flooded basements, cranky kids, wounding words, the loss of a job, a broken body, a painful marriage—“trouble” comes in all shapes and sizes. And it often shows up when we least expect it and are unprepared.

Learning to live for God through all the daily troubles and difficulties of life isn’t something we can take or leave. Our worship, walk, and witness depend upon how we handle the daily chaos of trouble and hardships. However, while the depth of our self-centeredness makes loving others more confusing and harder to learn than anything else in life, there is nothing more important. And that’s where we all need help.

Gary and Lisa Heim joined us on May 7, 2014, for a heart-to-heart discussion about what they’ve learned about pursuing God when we’re discouraged or frustrated. Gary is a pastor of small groups and discipleship at a church in Rockford, MI. Lisa works with the women’s ministry. Both are licensed counselors and have written about what they’ve personally learned and have passed along to others over the past 25 years of ministry. Their book, True North: Choosing God in the Frustrations of Life is the theme of this webinar.

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the live webinar event, click the link: Finding God In The Frustrations of Life.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: Finding God In The Frustrations of Life PPT.

To get a free sample download from Gary and Lisa Heim’s book, click the book title link: True North: Choosing God in the Frustrations of Life.You can also visit their website for more helpful information on their teaching and speaking ministry at: True North Ministries.

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you understand better what faithful living looks like when we struggle, click the link: Life-Struggles.

flickr/Creative Commons/Spring by Paula Bailey

flickr/Creative Commons/Spring by Paula Bailey

I like winter primarily because it leads to spring. Even though I live in Michigan where the harsh and blustery winters are reminiscent of C. S. Lewis’ make-believe world of Narnia where it was “always winter but never Christmas,” spring (even in Michigan) never fails to show up. And when spring finally arrives, I appreciate it the more for the long wait. The warm, sunny days ushered in by chirping birds and hardy crocuses and daffodils that burst through the ground, even when the last vestiges of snow still linger, prove that winter always gives way to spring.

We all face trials and difficult periods or situations in this life that, like a long winter, seem to never end. I’ve experienced a few, including a period of 2 or 3 years when I thought our son would never learn to read, no matter how much tutoring or special help he received; several years when two of our teenagers (simultaneously but for different reasons) created such stress and heartache in our family that for a while it consumed much of our time and most of our energy; and decades when it seemed a loved one would never experience a victorious Christian life. But God enabled me to endure and to grow in godly character (and surprisingly in joy) through these difficulties—and He continues to do so.

Even in the most trying circumstances we can have hope that God will enable us to endure and will carry us through—and will transform us in the process. Jesus said in His Word: “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). We can cast all our cares on Him (1 Peter 5:7). He promises to help us and be with us in our struggles.

Unlike winter which always leads to spring, not all difficult trials will end in this life, but they will end with this life. And in the next life, which will last for eternity, we will be with our Savior and will “receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12). That gives me hope.

 

Becoming

Dennis Moles —  April 29, 2014 — Leave a comment

becoming

This past week my kids traveled down to Ohio to spend time with their grandparents. During the trip they received a gift from my dad—a digital recording of me playing basketball as a high school senior. I have to be honest, it’s more than a bit embarrassing—and I’m not just talking about the too-short shorts.

A lot has changed since those days—mostly me. These days I wear longer shorts, have grayer hair, and sport a much huskier physique. But it’s not just my clothing and body that have changed—so has my mind. It’s been a long road between there and here.

As I watched that video of my teammates and me running up and down the basketball court, I started to daydream about what I’d like to say to seventeen-year-old Dennis if I had the chance. I came up with four things.

  • Life is not a competition—your worth is not tied to winning.
  • Don’t be so judgmental.
  • Go fishing with Poppaw and ask him to tell you every story he can remember.
  • Spend time with Paul.

Those of you who know me, especially those who knew the seventeen-year-old me, will likely understand this list. For the rest of you, here are some insights that might help.

Seventeen-year-old Dennis didn’t understand that trying and failing is often better than winning or succeeding. He didn’t know that mercy triumphs over judgment. He didn’t realize that when his grandfather was telling him stories, he was actually passing along wisdom that could make his life much easier. And he certainly didn’t think he’d be sitting at Paul’s funeral 4 short years after graduation.

Take time to be with those you love. Listen to wisdom that comes from age. Extend mercy rather than judgment – it’s the way of Christ. Excellence is not a prerequisite for love or acceptance.

These have been hard-learned lessons—mostly because I have to keep learning them over and over.

The video my dad sent back with the kids reminds me that as human beings we are always becoming—always moving. Sixty-year-old Dennis won’t be the same at forty-year-old Dennis. I just hope he continues to move in the right direction.

Why Forgive?

Alyson Kieda —  April 16, 2014 — 2 Comments

453458265_61cf90be28_z (1) Forgiveness isn’t easy, especially when it seems you are continually forgiving the same person over and over again. If you’re like me, you may forgive, sometimes grudgingly, but you wonder, When will that person ever change? Shouldn’t there be a limit to my forgiveness?

And the act of forgiving can be even more difficult when you learn the extent to which someone you know harmed your loved one and masqueraded the harm done under supposed Christian loving care and concern.

Recently, a wound inflicted on my loved one resurfaced. As I learned of the additional harm that that person had caused, my blood boiled. I felt so angry and helpless and full of regrets for what I could have done, if only I had known. But mostly, I wanted to cause that person harm—maybe not physically (although, if I’m honest, the thought did cross my mind) but definitely emotionally. I wanted that person to suffer for what he/she had done. I spouted and cried and finally prayed about it.

I’m working on forgiving that person once again, but it would be so easy to hold on and nurse the anger and hurt—and to retaliate. But I know that God calls me to forgive. And saying “no” to revenge is the first step. (I’m so glad that God keeps me from acting on such thoughts!)

I think of Peter’s inquiry of Jesus: “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” (Matthew 18:21 ESV). How did Jesus respond? “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven” (v.22). Jesus did not make that statement lightly or casually. He knew what was soon to come.

What lay before Jesus was betrayal and desertion by His closest friends, humiliation, a brutal beating, mock trials, excruciating pain, and a horrible death. He had much inflicted upon His person that He needed to forgive. Yet He did so willingly! And He not only forgave those sins, but He suffered and died to pay the price for all the sins in the past, present, and future of all who believed in Him, so that they “should not perish but have eternal life.” Why? “Because God so loved the world” (John 3:16).

God loves us that much! In turn, He calls us to forgive others the way He has forgiven us. No, it’s not easy. It’s impossible! But it’s the renovation of our hearts by the indwelling Holy Spirit that enables us to begin growing a heart of forgiveness. When I think of the many sins that I’ve committed—and how much God has personally forgiven me—forgiving others gets a little easier.

destructivemarriage-650x220bPastors, counselors, and ministry leaders at all levels are often the first responders couples turn to when struggling in their marriages. Unfortunately, ministers are often overwhelmed and not well trained to discern when the issues they are drawn into are normal marital conflict or emotional abuse.

Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles joined us on April 2, 2014, for a heart-to-heart discussion about how the church and people of faith can begin to address the growing problem of emotionally destructive marriages. Leslie brought her 30 years of experience as a counselor and relationship coach to help people helpers better understand that they can help couples ensnared in emotionally destructive marriages.

Chris, himself a senior pastor, also serves as a Batterer Intervention Specialist who has ministered to over 200 men who have been convicted of some form of domestic violence. Chris shared his passion, experience, and wisdom shepherding his local flock as well as a group of abusers that most of society has written off.

Together Leslie and Chris offered a uniquely Christian perspective on how to see, understand, and confront the emotionally destructive patterns in those who are abused and those who abuse.

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the webinar, click the link: Shepherding the Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: Shepherding the Emotionally Destructive Marriage PPT.

To get a free sample download from Leslie Vernick’s book, click the book title link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope. If you are interested in requesting a review copy of Leslie’s book, WaterBrook/Multnomah Press has graciously agreed to a free limited time offer of a review copy by clicking the following link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

As a special gift to you as a pastor, counselor, or ministry leader, Leslie would also like to offer a special gift, thanking you for attending this webinar. Leslie is making available an ebooklet of previously unpublished material focused on the church’s response to emotionally destructive marriages. Click on this link, The Church’s Response To Emotionally Destructive Marriages, to receive that free material. Leslie is also offering 2 free training DVD’s to help you in your work with couples in emotionally destructive marriages. You can receive these additional resources by clicking on: Training DVD’s.

For a free download of an RBC booklet by counselors Jeff Olson & Tim Jackson (one of our hosts) click the title link: When Violence Comes Home. Another booklet on verbal abuse by Jeff Olson is also available at: When Words Hurt. Herb Vander Lugt, one of RBC Ministries’ past research editors, wrote a booklet about God’s heart for women living in abusive relationships. Click here for his booklet: God’s Protection for Women.

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you understand more about abuse and what can be done to stop it, click the link: Abuse.

destructivemarriage-650x220 (1)All marriages struggle. A certain level of conflict is normal. But some conflict goes way beyond normal. It becomes harmful to the body and soul of those who are victims of this emotionally destructive form of abuse. So when does it step over a line and become destructive and dangerous?

Leslie Vernick and Chris Moles joined us on March 5, 2014, for a heart-to-heart conversation about how we can begin to address the growing problem of emotionally destructive marriages. Leslie brought her 30 years of experience as a counselor and relationship coach to help us better understand that there is hope and help for those entrapped in emotionally destructive marriages.

Chris is a senior pastor and a Batterer Intervention Specialist who brought his experience and wisdom from years of teaching the Scriptures to his local flock and ministering to over 200 men who have been convicted of some form of domestic violence.

Together they combined forces to enable us to offer a uniquely Christian perspective on how to see, understand, and confront the emotionally destructive patterns in marriages at risk.

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the webinar as well as the bonus feature 30 minute Q&A after the webinar, click the link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage.

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage PPT.

To get a free sample download from Leslie Vernick’s book, click the book title link: The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope. For additional resources from Leslie, check out her website at: www.leslievernick.com.

For a free download of an RBC booklet by counselors Jeff Olson & Tim Jackson (one of our hosts) click the title link: When Violence Comes Home. Another booklet on verbal abuse by Jeff Olson is also available at: When Words Hurt.

For further resources from RBC Ministries to help you understand more about abuse and what can be done to stop it, click the link: Abuse.

Jesus Loves You!

Alyson Kieda —  February 12, 2014 — 4 Comments

God’s Amazing Love/flickr/Creative Commons/Paul Dallgas-Frey

Some of the finest and dearest people I know struggle with believing that God loves them. They believe that they are far too sinful, too unlovable, or too unworthy to be loved by God. They have received Jesus as their Savior but still doubt that His love extends to them. They have no trouble believing that He loves everyone else, but they just can’t fathom the idea that God could possibly love someone like them—someone so undeserving.

Once upon a time, I was one of them. I struggled with my sinfulness, with the ugly words I spoke and with the ugliness inside me. How could God love me, I reasoned, when I failed to live up the standards of what a Christian should be?! I was such a lowly worm.

Thankfully, I now have complete assurance that God loves me—even me! Why? Is it because I’m sinning less and growing more like Him? Nope. Is it because I’m serving in my church? No, not even that. Have I done something to deserve His love? No and no again.

Even though I’m a Christian, I continue to sin. I am totally undeserving of God’s love. Yet I know that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (Romans 5:8). That’s the key. God loves us because He chose to love us—not because of how lovable we are but because He is the God of love. He loved us so much that He sent His Son to die for us, to pay the debt for our sins (past, present, and future) that we could never pay. Because of what He did, I am considered righteous in His eyes.

It’s a simple yet profound truth that so many fail to grasp—or believe. But I know it’s true. The Bible tells me so, and the Spirit inside me confirms that truth: Jesus loves me. And if you have received Him as your Savior, He loves you too!

despitedoubtw_650x220-recorded-onDoubts are a common struggle for many who have embraced the Christian faith as well as for those who are still considering faith. Doubts are those nagging questions that plague us when life’s struggles push us to wrestle with the hard questions about what’s true and good and really matters.

On Wednesday, February 5, 2014, RBC Ministries Webinars hosted Dr. Michael Wittmer in a live webinar event: “Doubt: A Friend or Foe of Faith?” Dr. Wittmer shared his insights in a lively conversation with our hosts Tim Jackson and Dennis Moles. Many who attended the live event learned practical information on how to struggle well with the doubts that plague us during times of struggle and heartache. Things like:

  • Understanding the difference between “objective” and “subjective” doubt
  • Understanding the difference between “sincere” and “insincere” doubt
  • How doubt can hinder our growth in the faith
  • How doubt can enhance our trust and dependence upon the God of the Bible

In keeping with our ministry commitment to make the life-changing wisdom of the Bible understandable and accessible to all, we are making the content of this webinar available without cost or obligation to you and anyone you’d like to share it with.

To listen to the audio recording from the webinar, click the link: Doubt: A Friend or Foe of Faith?

To download the PowerPoint from the webinar, click the link: Doubt: A Friend or Foe of Faith PPT.

To get a free sample download from Dr. Wittmer’s book, click the book title link: Despite Doubt: Embracing a Confident Faith.

For a free download of a RBC booklet by Dennis Moles, one of our hosts, click the title link: Beyond Reasonable Doubt: The Truth About The Bible.

For further resources on understanding more about why we doubt and how we can handle it from RBC Ministries, click the link: Doubt.