Life

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Rick Warren: Quiet Time Should Follow a Simple Plan

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-24 NIV)

Someone has said, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit it!” To have a meaningful quiet time, you will need a plan or some kind of general outline to follow.

The main rule is this: Keep your plan simple.

You will need the following three items for your planned quiet times:

  • A Bible — a contemporary translation (not a paraphrase) with good print, preferably without notes.
  • A notebook for writing down what the Lord shows you and for making a prayer list.
  • A hymnbook — sometimes you may want to sing in your praise time (see Colossians 3:16). read more
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Rick Warren: Pick a Specific Time for Quiet Time

To have an effective quiet time, you must pick a specific time to meet with the Lord each day and decide how long it should be. The general rule is this: The best time is when you are at your best!

Give God the best part of your day, when you are the freshest and most alert. Don’t try to serve God with your leftover time. Remember, too, that your best time may be different from someone else’s.

For most of us, however, early in the morning seems to be the best time. It was Jesus’ own practice to rise early to pray and meet with the Father: “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35, NIV). read more

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Sue Ten Eyck: For Zion’s Sake

As leaders with a passion to be a part of God’s kingdom coming here on earth as it is in heaven, it is vital that we see the kingdom of God that is within us (Luke 17:21) coming as well. This happens as we come into His presence.

It’s one of the things I love about the tabernacle of David; that place where we come into His presence in worship and intercession; the flowing of harp and bowl (Rev. 5:8). 

We must become a house of prayer if we desire to see the house of prayer raised up in our generation—His kingdom coming on the earth and His kingdom coming in us.

Daily, we can and must come into that place of His presence. In worship, we are able to see Him more and more as He really is. We turn our hearts to hear His Word. 

We bow down and receive mercy, grace, power and instruction. We can’t help but then pray and call out those things that He has just shown us, those things that are filled with His purpose and pleasure. 

We are overflowing with faith and His greater truths for all that we are praying. We can’t help but then worship as we, too, are filled with His purpose and pleasure. Oh to know Him more. But as His church there is a corporate element for us in the tabernacle of David as well, especially as leaders and especially in the day in which we are living.  read more

Give Your Children’s Ministry a Real Purpose

Why a strategic plan, not just random activity, is needed to disciple kids 

In a world of video games, sports, social networking and self-centeredness, it might be easy to overlook this simple reality: Even kids want to know, “What on earth am I here for?” It doesn’t surface as a deep theological discussion, and you rarely have a child come up to you and articulate that question. But kids want to know that their life means something. They want to know that they matter.

I have given my life to helping kids make this connection, to helping them understand they are God’s masterpiece and that God has a specific plan and purpose just for them.

Think about it—what if all our kids embraced this truth at a young age? At Saddleback Kids, we have a simple ministry objective that gives kids the opportunity to know what on earth they are here for. That objective is reflected in our vision statement: “Connecting kids to God and others.” read more

Youth Pastors: Are Your Teens Driven by God's Purpose?

Discovering God’s purpose for their lives should be your No. 1 youth-ministry task

What on earth am I here for?” That’s the question every teenager on the planet asks at one time or another. And while your youth ministry plays a variety of roles, helping students wrestle through this question is, in my experience, its most important task. (Helping your youth successfully toilet-paper the senior pastor’s house is a close second!)

At Saddleback Church, we’ve landed on the following simple phrase to help our teenagers recognize God’s purpose for their lives:

“I am here to express Christ, His kingdom, and the purposes of His church to the world around me.” read more

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Samuel Rodriguez: Our Prophetic Purpose

Why the ethnic church needs to change its focus from prosperity to biblical priorities.

For many in the ethnic church, the kingdom of God is the means and spiritual impetus to abandon poverty while embracing prosperity and unprecedented favor. But the church does not exist to primarily articulate a message of financial and societal empowerment. Although these elements may be an extension and a fringe benefit to faithfulness and godly living, the kingdom of God is not about the square footage of our homes or the size of our church buildings.

The primary purpose of the ethnic church in America is not to lift up our people but to lift up our Lord. We must lead a call for the entire body to embrace the true definition of the kingdom of God, which, according to St. Paul, is "Righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Rom.14:17, NKJV). read more

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Robert Ricciardelli: The Lord Says ‘Let My Daughters Go!’

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of articles from Robert Ricciardelli about Women’s Liberation in Christ. Click here for Part 1.

Twisted Scriptures, Twisted Doctrine

When we look for sound doctrine, we must look to the full counsel of God, the full Word of God interpreted through Scriptures that transcend circumstance, culture, and generations. Here are just a few examples of what many have been taught, as well as what the Lord actually says about His daughters.

Ephesians 5:21-22
“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.” read more

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Learn to Recognize the Enemies of Love

Love is the source of power for our successful Christian life. Galatians 5:6 even tells us that our faith works through love.

Satan is continuously sending situations our way to tempt us to yield to the opposite of love, which is selfishness.

As we study God's Word, we learn what authentic love is and what it is not. First Corinthians 13 reveals its attributes: "Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails" (vv. 4-8, NKJV). read more

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Robert Ricciardelli: Women’s Liberation in Christ

In God’s Kingdom, women are free to move in His authority to bring about His will upon the earth.

Editor’s Note: This is the first of a two-part series.

I love the gift the Lord has given to the world in His creation called woman. I am so excited about what the Lord is doing in releasing women to fulfill all He has called them to be.

I am passionate to do my part in encouraging both men and women to reexamine all that we have been taught about women, and to align ourselves with what the Father says about His precious daughters.

It was a privilege for me to be able to serve the women of South Africa. It started in East London as I was the Keynote Speaker for the Women’s Aglow National Convention before going on to Johannesburg. It was so wonderful to hear of all the various ministries that the women of Aglow have brought into their communities. They serve in senior centers and orphanages, as well as serving those who are on their deathbeds of aids and other diseases. They support feeding programs and shelters for those in need. Wherever they go, they bring the love of Jesus in a relevant way to the glory of God. read more

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Jentezen Franklin: 10 Tips to Fight Fear

1. Preach to Yourself
When God has asked me to do something that seems impossible for me, I have to preach to myself to defeat the fear and uncertainty that try to control me.

2. Don't Quit
In a relationship? In business? In reaching your personal goals? Will you give in to fear of failure and quit trying? The important thing to remember when you fail is not to quit. History shows that failure can actually become a catalyst to propel you to success.

3. Take Courage
You have to have courage against all odds. You have to be willing to face down frightening voices and take a risk to move forward into your destiny. You cannot give into the spirit of timidity and draw back when times get tough. read more

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Are You In God’s Holy Remnant?

God is rising a remnant of valiant prayer warriors on the earth.

I had an open vision in which I saw a gambling casino covering the earth. In the casino were global players who were gambling for the world's resources (gold, silver, oil, water and so on). They had no problem committing genocide against entire nations to obtain these valuable commodities.

They were playing with cards and gambling for high stakes. Their faces became like dogs. They had on thick collars, some with spikes, and they were smoking expensive cigars and laughing crudely. Some were drunk and bragging about their evil exploits.

But then I saw the kingdom players of the Lord, who also came and sat at the various tables to play for world resources. They were undetected. They were the Lord's secret agents. read more

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Rick Warren: Live a Joy-filled, Generous Life

“These instructions are not empty words — they are your life! By obeying them you will enjoy a long life …” (Deuteronomy 32:47 NLT)

Many people think the Bible is only filled with commands labeled “Thou shalt not …” They assume the Bible is all about restrictions and making you lead a boring life.

But God wants you to live a joy-filled, healthy life. The last two factors for good health that I want to share with you should put a smile on your face.

Giving generously is good for your health. Every time you are generous, every time you are giving, it improves your health. You know, there are more promises in the Bible about giving than anything else, because God wants you to be like him. God is a giver. read more

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Small Groups Deliver Fellowship, Love

Editor’s Note: Daily during January and February, MinistryTodaymag.com will feature an article from pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren and his staff 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.

Why we believe the group setting creates the best environment for producing healthy followers of Jesus Christ

In early 2000, our leadership team began asking the question: What does a healthy follower of Christ look like? If we are to be successful in fulfilling Christ’s commission to make disciples, we need to define the term disciple. Through a series of meetings, we determined that such a follower of Christ is someone who is balancing the five biblical purposes in his or her heart and life. A healthy follower of Christ, therefore, is: 

  • Surrendering his or her heart and life to Christ on an ongoing basis.
  • Experiencing fellowship with other Christians.
  • Growing in Christ through “being” and “action.”
  • Discovering and using his or her God-given gifts and abilities.
  • Reaching out and sharing the love of Christ with nonbelievers.

We understood that unless you know what the target is you cannot hit it, so we ade our target health through balance. As believers, when we reflect Christ and become more like Him, the focus of our lives shifts away from self-centeredness toward serving Him through every area of life. That is health and balance. read more

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John Piper Retires After 30 Years in Pulpit

Best-selling author and pastor John Piper will focus on his writing after preaching his last sermon as senior pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, where he has served for more than 30 years.

"This is the last message in the series of 30-year theological trademarks, and I am calling it 'sorrowful, yet always rejoicing,' " Piper said from the pulpit Dec. 30. "I believe for these decades this theme and tone has marked us deeply. We are a happy people. But we are not what you might call 'chipper.' There is a plaintive strain in the symphony of our lives. I think Jesus was the happiest man whoever lived. And oh how sorrowful! A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief."

Piper, 66, has stepped down from running the church with close to 5,000 weekly attendees, but he still has the passion to write books, preach and tour the country with his Desiring God ministry, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported. read more

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Leaders Need to Create Worship Culture in Churches

Editor’s Note: Daily during January and February, MinistryTodaymag.com will feature an article from pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren and his staff 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.

A worshiping church won’t just happen. It starts with a leader who places a high value on personal worship.

I remember only two things about my college biology class: the broken clock that hung on the wall behind my professor’s desk and this definition of culture: “A colony of microorganisms or cells grown in a specially prepared nourishing environment.” Sounds like the church, doesn’t it? Each congregation is a colony—an outpost of the kingdom (to mix metaphors)—that is grown in a specially prepared, nourishing environment. 

Here’s another definition of culture; this one from my sociology class (which, by the way, also had a broken clock hanging behind the professor’s desk): “The values, beliefs, ideas, customs, skills, arts and traditions of a people that are passed along to succeeding generations.” 

That sounds like the church, too. read more

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End Times Worship Movement Exploding Around the World

The end-time role of the praying and worshipping church

Right now, all across the earth, the Holy Spirit is raising up a worship-based prayer movement that will culminate in the second coming of our King, Jesus. This isn’t a new idea, but one rooted in history and, more importantly, in the Bible. This prayer and worship movement that we see exploding across the planet was prophesied many years ago, as recorded in the Scriptures. I believe that what we’re witnessing today, with the rapidly growing worldwide prayer and worship movement, is the beginning of the fulfillment of biblical prophecies about the end times.

This conviction that God is raising up a worldwide prayer movement that will precede Jesus’ return has strengthened my resolve to build a 24/7 worship community. We started on May 7, 1999, and for the last 12 years the International House of Prayer Missions Base of Kansas City (IHOP-KC), consisting of full-time missionaries who serve as worship leaders, singers, musicians and intercessors, has continued nonstop in worship and prayer. Our hearts are set on gathering corporately to worship Jesus 24 hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year. Partnering with Him in intercession, we contend for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for the release of justice, both in our own city and in the cities of the earth. What started with 20 full-time missionaries has grown to more than 1,000 full-time staff and 1,000 students and interns in our Bible school. read more

How to Wake Up Your Sleeping Giant

A strategy for turning men into a driving force behind your church’s mission

Most pastors dream of having a strong and vibrant men’s community that drives the mission and vision of their local churches. But this dream rarely becomes a reality because most churches have no compelling vision for men that is articulated, visible and connected to a meaningful process in the church context.

So it’s no surprise that men remain affiliated versus activated in the local church. This sad reality is on the church, not on the men. Men like clear targets they can hit—but the church hasn’t painted the target!

On the flip side, it is possible to have strong vision, a defined process that helps men see the vision, and solid outcomes that make men stakeholders in the ongoing success of the church’s mission. Men long for that kind of significance! read more

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What is Your Sunday Service Like?

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. read more

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Joel Hunter: 5 Prayers God Always Answers

How is a guy supposed to pray? These five prayers are simple, and they always get results!

Prayer is tough for men. We like to have the answers before we talk, even to God. We are not much for "processing out loud" like our female counterparts. And we don't like to get turned down, discovering that what we were asking for was not in the will of God. It's not that we get mad at God, but we think, How could we not have known that?

On the other (folded) hand, we don't want a wimpy prayer life that is so general we can't tell whether it was God who answered, or it was just a good bet on our parts. Safe prayers are like bikes with training wheels: We think we are being grown-up in our faith, when we are really immature.

Immature faith doesn't want to risk a fall so it only prays prayers that (in the flesh) have a good chance of success without God's intervention. Success may even rest on some human device. read more

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Break Free of Satan's False Accusations

There has been much that has occurred in this season that could cause our hearts to faint, and fear seems to be on the horizon each day of our lives. However, we must continue to persevere in faith, knowing that God is in complete control at all times. Though lawlessness appears to prevail at times, we are given grace to persist and develop our faith in God. Our Lord is the God of Light and He will light our pathway which continually leads to life. Let us recall a few Scriptures that give us hope in this season.

James 1:16-18 reminds us that the Father of heavenly lights gives only good and perfect gifts and that He is the God of truth:

"Don't be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. He chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all He created" (NIV, with emphasis). read more

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