The Bible instructs us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem (see Ps. 122:6). For tens of millions of Christians in America, this admonition means standing for the modern state of Israel and its right to exist in accordance with God’s will and plan.
Yet on a practical level, some Christians find themselves unprepared when confronted by those who cite Israel as an occupying oppressor of the Palestinians or an obstacle to peace due to its failure to return to pre-1967 borders. I often hear believers respond by saying that God gave the land to Abraham’s descendants, not to the Palestinians, and leave it at that.
While this response is certainly accurate, it’s also incomplete. It fails to refute the frequently heard charge that Israel cares more about land than peace, making war inevitable. As Christian leaders, we have the biblical responsibility to respond in full, and the best way to do that is to intentionally educate ourselves on the story of the modern state of Israel. Below, I’ve provided a broad timeline to help us better understand that story.
As public policy continues to change on the issue, a LifeWay Research poll shows 58 percent of American adults agree it is a civil rights issue and 64 percent believe it is inevitable same-sex marriage will become legal throughout the United States.
LifeWay Research conducted a wide-ranging survey of American adults on questions surrounding same-sex marriage; specifically examining whether clergy, wedding photographers, rental halls, landlords and employers have the right to refuse access and services to same-sex couples, even if same-sex marriage is made legal in their state.
What do you do when your church no longer looks like the community that surrounds it?
Focus on what your church does well. Don’t try to be something you’re not. If your church is primarily made up of elderly folks, decide to become the most effective ministry to senior citizens in your community that you can possibly be.
Don’t try to be a church for young families. Strengthen what you’re already doing and don’t worry about what you can’t do. Keep doing what you’ve been doing—just do it better. Chances are that there’s an unchurched pocket of people in your community that only your church can reach. Find those people—and reach them.
When considering who should be on the senior leadership team, many times we try to answer the wrong questions. Sometimes we ask, “What positions should be represented on the team?” In the church world, we may think the “Pastor” or “Director” title, or people with certain positions automatically qualify. That’s not always the case.
Sometimes we ask, “Who has been around for the longest?” Tenure does not necessarily equate with the profile of the person you want serving on this team. In fact, I’d argue that if you’re stuck and fresh perspective is one of your needs, you might want to consider including the newest person on the team.
I try to stay focused on what’s happening in the world as it relates to Bible prophecy—part of my assignment from God. And what’s occurring in the world today all points to the approaching return of Jesus Christ. However, another important part of my assignment is to deal with what God is saying as a warning to His church. Before we talk about a warning to the sinner or to America or to the nations of the world, I believe God wants us to deal with and respond to a sobering warning to the church.
I, and other prophetic preachers, often run into people who scoff at us, calling us “doom and gloomers” and “negative preachers.” When I hear those accusations, my first question is always, “Since when is preaching the return of the Son of God somehow doom and gloom and bad news to the people who are supposed to be looking for Him?”
In 2 Timothy, Paul talks to believers, and especially “last days” believers, who turn away from the truth: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come [a direct reference to the final times] when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:1-4, bracketed notation mine).