Raising up strong children requires transparency and authenticity
A time-worn Christian cliche’ says that family decline is the root cause of much of the devastation in the nation today. From broken families, broken children emerge to create broken communities, broken churches and even broken nations. If we are going to turn America around, we must heal our families. Our families and homes are the first school house and the first church.
When my husband talks about a spiritual reformation within our nation, I often think about the practical aspects of training the next generation. I know several strong Christian leaders whose children have wound up doing prison time or they are stuck in nonproductive jobs, or even worse: They hate the idea of being engaged in ministry. This is often because the leaders did not pass the baton on to the next generation.
Years ago I looked at my life. I saw how wounded and dysfunctional I really was personally. Born an illegitimate child, the descendant of three generations of broken homes. Sexually abused before the age of 5 and brought up in a ghetto that led to me getting involved with drugs, alcohol and premarital sex. I even had two abortions.
As the chairman of the board of governors for 40 Days to Save America, I am humbled to lead in a season of prayer.
In what could be the most momentous election of our lifetime, everyone wants to know, “Who will lead America for the next four years?” The answer should be obvious: He who has led us for the past 236 years of our national existence—the Lord God Almighty!
The vast majority of people in America realize and acknowledge that no one but God can save her. That’s why many have concluded that nothing short of a national awakening will do—hence, a call for prayer, fasting and action.
Choosing a president, members of Congress and governors is a sobering responsibility, especially given the multiple crises with which our nation is confronted. These men and women wield enormous power over the citizenry. The can confront the forces of evil that stalk us domestically and internationally, or ignore them. Our moral free-fall can continue, or they can call America back to its founding principles.
As a pastor, you set the tone for true corporate worship.
Every pastor wants to raise up a group of people who God considers true worshipers. Jesus defined these people in John 4:23 as those who "worship the Father in spirit and truth." He even added that these are the ones after whom the Father seeks.
We have the chance to cultivate these kinds of worshipers every Sunday in our services by how we lead. Whether you are a senior pastor or a worship leader, you serve as a model for true worship. You play a key role in creating an environment that is conducive to the moving of God's Spirit. To excel at both of these requires some understanding of what I believe are fundamental principles of congregational worship.
• "Worship time" is not a setup for the sermon. If we're not careful we can develop a dangerous mind-set that believes the praise and worship part of a service functions merely to prepare the congregation for the preaching. Though preparing people for the message can certainly be one benefit of a good "worship time" (and I use that term begrudgingly), it must not be its primary purpose.
I was watching my friend Parker the other night. He is an incredible student leader and a talented young man.
He was working lights at our Saturday night service during our "You Own the Weekend" series. He was killing it, super passionate, incredibly creative—even his parents came to see his work!
I looked around the room and was so happy—adults were around talking to students and generally keeping order—but in most cases, students were serving in a ton of areas.
Got me thinking—when did this happen? I can think of a time not too long ago when we didn’t have students serving in any significant way. When did students really start serving at our services like this? When did Parker move from attendee to ingenious lighting guy extraordinaire?
It was a frank conversation about money with other leaders at our church. We tackled what most of middle-class America considers a taboo subject and faced some hard truths. As a result, I was awakened to my habits and how they influenced the financial situation of our closest friends.
For example, in our community of friends, eating out had become our cultural gathering point—church and then lunch. It had become our Sunday ritual. We love to eat together. Unfortunately, this ritual was causing friends to increase their personal indebtedness to credit card companies.
How did we get to this point in our habits?