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Dr. Rick Shrader is the editor of Aletheia a monthly publication which helps meet the need for a balanced conservative voice among Baptists.
Commonly known as the "Alpha Center".
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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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This past week, Urban Meyer, legendary football coach of The Ohio State University, announced his retirement. Meyer had won more than 90 percent of his games as the Buckeyes' head coach, including all seven of his games against rival Michigan. He had won three Big Ten championships and the 2014 national championship. In addition to his success at Ohio State, Meyer had won two other national championships while coaching at Florida, and his 186-game win total over 17 years is higher than any other FBS coach over the same period of time.So, why resign now? There were several reasons—the most dominant being that of Coach Meyer's health. Meyer revealed in October that in 2014 he had surgery on a cyst in his brain that causes stress-related headaches. The symptoms of those headaches were visible this past fall during some of Ohio State's games when Meyer frequently wore pained expressions on his face and at one point collapsed on the sideline.Though Meyer did not draw a straight line between his stress-related headaches and his suspension that occurred earlier this year, he did say that the suspension also contributed to his decision to retire. Ohio State put Meyer on leave in early August while investigating reports that he had mishandled allegations of domestic violence and other inappropriate behavior made against former assistant Zach Smith in past years. The school suspended Urban Meyer for the first three games of the season after finding he failed to live up to the standards of the university and did not tell the truth when asked about those allegations at a Big Ten media event in July. Meyer said that he believes the suspension will have some lasting impact on his legacy.Urban Meyer leaves the Ohio State program strong, and the future of football at OSU is bright, though Meyer himself leaves, at least to some degree, bruised and blemished. Several points are worthy of consideration for those of us who are involved in ministry.Remember the SabbathWhen Meyer left Florida to take a year off before going to Ohio State, he said that it was a time of reflection when he had to ascertain his priorities. He determined to make family more important than football, something he had not previously done.There is no denying that the constituents we serve never fully understand the pressures that leaders are under—the pressure to succeed, the pressure to always be there, the pressure to always be professional when reviled by inside and outside sources.And to deal with these pressures, leaders have to take time away and off. Whatever is most therapeutic for you—whether it is yard work, sitting in a cabin with a book, hunting, fishing, preaching out—do it! You will be criticized for it. You will be called lazy for doing it. And you will always feel like there is no convenient time for it. But go see a ball game with your son, get away with your wife, take your daughter shopping. Do it!I have heard preachers say, “The devil never takes a vacation.” True, but you are not trying to be like the devil. You are trying to be like the Lord. And He took a Sabbath.Remember the SourceI have a pastor friend who is an avid fan of Michigan, and understandably, he hates Ohio State. If Urban Meyer would have duplicated the feeding of the five thousand, my friend would tweet, “Urban Meyer takes little boy's lunch.” There is no denying that we have enemies, and these enemies will never be able to be pleased by anything that we do.Urban Meyer was strongly criticized for the way he handled Zach Smith, but my hope is that no leader would be handed such an unwinnable situation. Are there things that Coach Meyer could have done better? Of course, there are! But I hope that we never become proficient at handling disciplinary situations, for that would necessitate we have an abundant amount of them. Of course their hopeful rarity is not an excuse to mishandle them—there may be times when we need to seek counsel on how to handle them.All too often stress is caused in our lives by the armchair quarterbacks who have never taken the field, but are absolutely certain they know the best way for us to lead the team. This is not to say that we cannot learn a germ of truth in even the most destructive criticism. It is to say that we cannot allow the destructive critic to get into our minds and eat us alive. Always consider the source of the criticism.Remember the ScriptureThe Bible tells us that, “David encouraged himself in the Lord.” God's Word is filled with multiple promises for every emotional struggle of life. God gives peace! And we must allow ourselves to be filled with God's peace even when the media critics are field dressing our leadership style. At times, all of us need to go back to the Bible and encourage ourselves again in the Lord.In the ultimate analysis, the Lord is the final judge of our ministries. Other coaches, irate fans, and wealthy boosters are not primarily where our ear is bent. It is bent to the One whose, “Well done,” means the most—the Lord Himself. The fear of man brings a snare, but the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.As an Ohio State fan, I am very appreciative of Urban Meyer's contributions. I trust that his retirement will give him the sabbatical time, the stress release, and the spiritual reflection that he needs. And may I, in turn, learn from the strengths and weaknesses of our legendary coach.
This year, the United States Supreme Court vindicated the free exercise rights of Jack Phillips, a cake baker from Colorado, who had suffered government discrimination after he declined to bake a cake for a same-sex commitment ceremony based on his conviction that a marriage is only between a man and a woman. Yet Jack’s ordeal wasn’t done; he was subsequently sued and has an ongoing case because he didn’t want to be forced to create a cake with a message about the transgender lifestyle he believed to be false.Melissa and Aaron Klein, bakers from Oregon and formerly of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, are now asking the Supreme Court to review their case, which arose under similar circumstances. The Supreme Court could decide any day whether to review their case. If the Court does, they may get relief. If it doesn’t, the Kleins are stuck with an oppressive and unconstitutional state court ruling against them.Their cases are not unique; attacks against traditional beliefs in marriage have been on the rise. Why is that?Several years ago, the United States Supreme Court observed that “[m]any who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here.” That quotation came from Justice Anthony Kennedy’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the Supreme Court decision that ushered in a new era in the law surrounding religious liberty.It is important that the Supreme Court recognized the sincerity of the orthodox belief that marriage is a sacred institution only available between one man and one woman. But by making marriage between two people of the same sex a constitutional right, Obergefell made it easier for courts and legislatures around the nation to conclude that same-sex couples have rights that somehow trump those of all who disagree—and thus violate their consciences.We have seen this primarily in the wedding vendor industry, the subject of our newly updated publication released today, Religious Liberty and the “Wedding Vendor” Cases. Business owners across the country have had to face the unacceptable choice of violating their religious beliefs or losing their livelihoods—all because they will not use their skills to affirm or facilitate the celebration of a same-sex wedding.Today, we bring to your attention fifteen cases where business owners have had to collectively endure thousands of hours of litigation and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines for sticking to their beliefs in natural marriage. This is an unacceptable affront to every American’s constitutional right to the free exercise of their religion, and we must stand to ensure that this latest campaign against the freedom of conscience comes to an end.For more information, read our newly updated publication.
Netanyahu Defends Ceasefire, Cites Secret Information Ahead of Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman's resignation due to his opposition to the ceasefire deal with Hamas, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended the truce ... Read MoreThe post November 16, 2018 appeared first on The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry.
Pew survey finds that a minority of Americans, even within the church, put faith first. Around Thanksgiving tables this week, Americans will offer thanks for what’s most important to them. For the bulk of US adults, family will top the list.In a Pew Research Center survey released Tuesday, twice as many Americans said that family was the most meaningful aspect of their lives (40%), compared to the second most popular choice, faith (20%).Among Christians, many obviously rely on their religious beliefs and community for a sense of meaning. More than half say their faith provides a “great deal” of meaning, and 29 percent identified religion as their most important source of meaning.Christians were also slightly more likely than Americans overall to list family in the top spot (42%).The research puts numbers around a recurring tension within the American church: how to champion biblical teachings on marriage, children, adoption, and family unity without letting family become a source of meaning and identity above Christ. In short, how can Christians keep from making family an idol?This notion of idolizing family recently came up when pastor and Reformed Theological Seminary professor Kevin DeYoung tweeted last week, “One of the acceptable idolatries among evangelical Christians is the idolatry of the family.”More than 1,600 people liked the tweet, and hundreds more responded. Many were frustrated with the suggestion that the church could care too much about family and spoke out in defense of Christian family values. But some agreed, echoing growing concerns that familial expectations in certain church settings isolate singles, widows, and childless couples.Focus on the Family shared DeYoung’s tweet, saying, “[God] can’t be second. So, if family is first in our hearts, ...Continue reading...
Do you ever begin a new week with a pile on your desk? Scraps of notations from Sunday. Left over to dos from last week. Started projects. Unanswered emails. And on top of all of that, the needs and responsibilities of the coming week.Sometimes it's challenging to know where to begin.Sometimes all you can see is a mess.I'm always captured by the clarity and purpose of Jesus' statement, “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). Any committed Christian wants his or her life to be invested in doing the will of God. But on any given day, we struggle to know exactly what “the works of Him that sent me” are for that day.Ultimately, we gain this clarity the same way Jesus did—by spending time with the Father.But from there, how do we handle all the loose ends and demanding items calling for our attention? How do we deal with what just feels like an undefined mess in front of us? I've found that the best way through is to start with a plan. Here is the plan that helps me:1. CaptureGather all the pieces—handwritten lists, assignments, text messages, Post It notes, emails, etc.—into one place. It's hard to tackle unidentified outcomes. Gathering them together can feel overwhelming, but it is also freeing once you get your mind around what you actually have.2. ClarifyYou may not be able to do everything you captured. But you need a way to decide what is important and what is just noise. The best way I know to clarify is to divide by my roles. I list out the following roles and filter my captured list through them.HusbandFather/GrandfatherPastor/TeacherCollege PresidentCounselorFriendThis is also where you determine what is merely urgent and what is actually important. Sometimes the most important projects aren't urgent in the sense that others aren't pressing us to finish them, but they are important in that they are part of our core God-given responsibilities.3. PrioritizeWhat needs to be done first? Prioritizing tasks by A, B, and C gives perspective for progress. Sometimes C-level tasks are easier or can be completed more quickly, but if we spend our day doing them, we often don't have greater progress toward fulfilling our real responsibilities at the end of the day than we did at the beginning.4. EngageWe can make lists and plan all day long, but if we don't put action somewhere, we won't make progress. One of the deceptions of feeling overwhelmed is that it seems everything must either be done at once or not at all. Taking a step of action toward a real priority, can help break that sense of helplessness. Make it your goal to do something each day toward each level A priority.5. ReflectSet aside time each week (or for more pressing seasons, each day) to evaluate. Look at what has been done, what should be deleted from your list, and what you should delegate to someone else. I try to re-write my to-do list at least weekly as part of this process. It helps me keep from developing a snowballing list that is increasingly out of my control and forces me to make clarifying decisions by my roles.Of course, this is an ongoing process. It requires tenacity and diligence to stay focused on your God-given roles and to do the priority item in each. But taking the time to capture and clarify helps make this a process of progress rather than simply a cycle of defeating actions.
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