Editor’s Note: Daily during January and February, MinistryTodaymag.com will feature an article from pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren in conjunction with his new book, What on Earth Am I Here For? Warren is the guest editor for Charisma’s Ministry Today magazine for its January/February issue.
“So we continue to preach Christ to each person, using all wisdom to warn and to teach everyone, in order to bring each one into God's presence as a mature person in Christ.” (Colossians 1:28 NCV)
The most practical and powerful way to get believers headed in the direction of spiritual maturity is to help them establish habits that promote spiritual growth.
You cannot talk about character without talking about habits. Character is the way you habitually act. For example, if you are honest only part of the time, or if you are honest only when you consciously choose to be honest, you cannot claim to have the character quality of integrity.
This prayer from Billy Graham, written for "The Saturday Evening Post" in 2008, is just as relevant this year. Get in agreement with the beloved evangelist.
Our Father and our God, as we stand at the beginning of this new year we confess our need of Your presence and Your guidance as we face the future.
We each have our hopes and expectations for the year that is ahead of us—but You alone know what it holds for us, and only You can give us the strength and the wisdom we will need to meet its challenges. So help us to humbly put our hands into Your hand, and to trust You and to seek Your will for our lives during this coming year.
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.
While in prayer over the vision God gave Steve Hill about the “spiritual avalanche that could kill millions,” an alarming question nagged my soul: Could the great falling away already be underway? Could we be witnessing the first fruits of the great falling away even now? Are we at least seeing a shadow of the Great Apostasy?
There is much talk about Christ’s soon Second Coming. But we know that Jesus will not return for a church without spot or wrinkle unless the falling away comes first … (1 Thess. 2:3). Although it’s nothing entirely new, we are indeed witnessing a fast-progressing departure from sound doctrine and a holy life.
Even a quick comparison between what Scripture tells us about the last days and the manifest sin that has penetrated our generation should serve as a wake up call to every believer: Don’t ignore the signs of the times. In His discussions on the end of the age, Jesus warned us not to let anyone deceive us (Matt. 24). If it weren’t possible to get caught up in the Great Falling Away, Jesus wouldn’t have issued such a strong warning to His followers and left a record of it for you and me.
Do we really believe all things are possible with God?
A few years ago Rick Warren and I were talking about faith, and he told me that faith in ministry includes setting goals so incredibly bold that you’re bound to fail unless God moves in a miraculous way. That conversation has radically transformed my faith—and my dependence—on God.
The truth is, Jesus continually pushes us to a place where we have to choose for or against Him. When we step forward in faith, will we choose to remain independent of Jesus or will we choose to be totally dependent on Him?
For instance, Jesus tells the rich young man to give away everything he has so he can follow Jesus as a disciple. The young man’s choice is not about the wealth. Rather, he must decide if Jesus is who He says He is and if Jesus will come through on His promises.