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AG's George O. Wood Calls Persecuted Pastor's Letter a Modern-Day Epistle

A letter received by American-Iranian Pastor Saeed Abedini, carried out from Iran's notorious Evin Prison, tells of beatings and interrogations, around-the-clock bright lights and ongoing lies designed to create hope—in order to crush it. The remarkable letter also reveals a depth of faith and compassion that could only be granted by God.

Abedini, a U.S. minister, has been imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran for his faith since Iranian authorities removed him from a bus in September while he was visiting his homeland.

Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, recently received the letter from her husband through family members who were able to visit him in prison. Naghmeh passed the letter on to Assemblies of God General Superintendent George O. Wood, with the encouragement to share the letter with everyone. read more

Leadership Lessons from Jamie Buckingham

What my grandfather taught me about the essentials of ministry

 

Publisher’s Note from Steve Strang: Jamie Buckingham had a huge impact on my life and on our organization. He encouraged me to start Ministry Today and wrote in it many times. He served as editor for several years before his untimely death in February 1992. We recognize his ongoing legacy with this article. You can read more about Jamie Buckingham, and enjoy some of his best articles in a special online tribute at ministrytodaymag.com/jamie

It has now been 20 years since my grandfather, Jamie Buckingham, passed away. I cherish the 11 short years I had with him. He inspired me to pursue a life in ministry, for which I am very thankful.

Jamie was a unique man, and consequently a unique pastor. He often spoke and wrote about the various traits and the type of character required of those who have been called into ministry. They remain relevant for leaders today, and I am pleased to be able to share some of them with you to honor his memory.

Be real. Jamie often preached and wrote about his many flaws, citing specific examples of ways he had fallen short. He discovered how God could work in those imperfections to give encouragement to others. Living and preaching like this takes a lot of courage (and, according to my grandmother, requires permission from your spouse), but it allows you to experience an intimacy with others you might not otherwise find. read more

Geoff-Surratt

How Long Could You Stay in Ministry Without God?

I wonder how long I could be successful in ministry without God? I’ve been in vocational ministry for 31 years, and I seldom encounter a situation I haven’t seen before. I have a stockpile of sermons to pull from and many other places where I can grab a complete sermon with a moment's notice.

I do strategy, staffing and structure in my sleep. My experience, connections and the Internet give me all the tools I need to do ministry and do it at a very high level. God is good but often not all that necessary. read more

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Radicals, Racism or Righteousness: The Choice Is Yours

Society is being turned on its ear, and we are being given a front-row seat.

I could sit here for days and decry the many ways in which our culture is losing its soul. I could catalogue the multiple symptoms that are evidence of the demise of towns and cities all over America.

I mean, think about this ...

To steal an eagle’s egg in the U.S. carries a $10,000 fine, yet killing an unborn human is perfectly legal. Since the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, if the same fine was imposed for the nearly 55 million abortions that have taken place since then, the cumulative monetary fine would be more than $545,596,150,000. read more

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10 Hard Truths About Christ’s Church

It’s His church and not mine.

It’s His church and not yours either.

Settle that or nothing else will matter. Get it wrong and everything else you do will be off-kilter.

The moment you think it’s your church (you’re in charge) or my church (someone else makes the decisions; you have nothing to do with what happens), we’re all in trouble.

It is indeed the Lord’s church, and He is its sole owner. read more

Ignite-Crowd

6 Simple Secrets to Success in Ministry

What a week it was! Deborah and I attended Ignite 2013 along with over 9000 Filipino students plus hundreds of students and Every Nation campus missionaries from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Mongolia, Taiwan, Timor-Leste, Vietnam and others. Rather than writing a long wordy blog about the conference, here are some photos that are worth a thousand words each. Click and enjoy.

Every time we have international guests visit us in Manila, someone will eventually ask me about the “secret” or the “keys” or the “secret keys” to our success and growth.  Here’s my current answer. read more

Ron Phillips: ‘I’m Thankful to Be Alive’

As I sit in my office contemplating the last year, I am overwhelmed by a profound sense of thanksgiving. At this time a year ago, I was lying in a hospital bed, recovering from open-heart surgery.

As many of you may (or may not) know, a year ago things were very different in my life. After more than a week of exhibiting some very serious symptoms, my family, staff and friends began voicing their concerns. My son, Ronnie Jr., had been out of the country preaching, and while he was away, he had a heavy burden for me. He and his host pastor prayed and interceded for my life, and upon returning home, he tried to convince me to go see my doctor. read more

WEB-Reuters-Oklahoma-Photog-Rick-Wilking

How You Can Pray For and Respond to Oklahoma

Yet another tragedy. There are no words to describe the scenes we are seeing from the recent tornadoes in Oklahoma. No words.

So don’t say anything. Just pray.

Please, don’t try to provide answers when people ask why. Don’t pretend you know why. Don’t find some “righteous” sounding reason for the devastation. It’s not helpful.

So don’t say anything. Just pray.

Years ago, when I served as vice mayor of my community, we were hit with a devastating tornado that destroyed much of our downtown. I learned that what we needed most was prayer and resources. read more

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Relevant Messages Require Transparency

Recently, I’ve been “reinventing” myself and re-evaluating my methods after 22 years of pastoring the same church. I come from a deep heritage of Pentecostal preachers, where fiery, Holy Ghost, sweat-filled sermons are the cure-all. Don’t get me wrong, the Bible makes it clear in Romans 10:14, “How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher?” (NASB). But is the gospel really communicated only through me? And does effective communication rely only on my preparation and my delivery?

Not long ago, I was challenged on this by a very successful pastor who attended one of our services. He told me, “You muscle everything! Everything that has to be communicated, you communicate by yourself, in the pulpit, with no support.” He said that at his church, the messages are communicated by everyone from staff to parking lot attendants and by multiple vehicles such as T-shirts (on the parking attendants), video screens and banners. His insights really opened my eyes, and I immediately began reallocating funds to staff these areas of support.

Since then, I’ve discovered some key principles for effective communication, which center less on me and more on the people I’m teaching. Here’s what I’ve learned about driving home a relevant message: 

Communicating a relevant message requires me knowing and caring about my audience.I think back to Ezekiel and his charge from God to communicate His Word to the exiles at Tel Aviv. Scripture says he went to them “in the heat of my spirit” (Ezek. 3:14, NKJV). In other words, Ezekielthought he had all the answers. But once he arrived there, he “sat among them for seven days—deeply distressed” (v. 15, NIV). He began to get a heart for those to whom God had sent Him. Have you studied your audience? Are you acquainted with their needs, hurts and passions? To be relevant to people, we must care about them. This is the key to relevancy. 

Communicating a relevant message requires me thinking about everyone who’s listening.I had the honor of speaking at Ed Young Jr.’s C3 Conference this year, where Ed talked about the “three chairs” we as pastors must keep in mind. The first chair, he said, is occupied by the visitor who has no knowledge of the gospel. The second chair is occupied by the new believer. The third chair seats the seasoned Christian. We must prepare our messages in such a way that we keep all three chairs in the front of our minds. 

Communicating a relevant message requires transparency.Recently, I stood in the pulpit with tears running down my face and spoke honestly of our family’s struggle with our oldest son’s drug addiction. Afterward, thousands of teenagers responded to the altar call and accepted Jesus as their Savior. And we heard from many parents who, feeling like failures because of their children’s lifestyle decisions, were freed of guilt. It was one of the most transparent days of my life. I gave my congregation insight into my real pain. “Getting real” allows us to become touchable and makes our faith more authentic. 

No one living in our culture today would argue that this is a different day. People are bombarded with information. But when it comes down to it, communicating a relevant message reflects our heart for God and for people. May we always have a heart that thinks first about those we’re teaching and allow that to shape how we communicate an eternity-altering story.


Ron Carpenter is senior pastor at Redemption World Outreach Center in Greenville, S.C. Connect at RonCarpenter.com. read more

How to Recover From Life’s Worst Disasters

It would be impossible, in just one message, to go into all the reasons for suffering and for why God allows tragedy. Instead I want to focus on five ways that we should respond to tragedy.

I Need to Release My Grief

When you go through a tragedy, which is inevitably going to happen, the first thing you need to do is release your grief. Why? Because tragedy always creates strong emotions.

Did you feel any emotions this week?  We don’t always know what to do with our feelings.  If you don’t deal with them, but instead stuff them deep, your recovery from a crisis always takes far longer than it should. See some people are stuffers. read more

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