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No One Can Do It Alone
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

In the lobby of Good News Church in Moscow, there is a large plaque expressing gratitude to the partners who helped make that wonderful facility a reality. Each time we entered and exited the building on my recent visit, Rick Renner stopped and placed his hands on that plaque. He prayed a brief prayer thanking God for their partners, asking him to bless them. I was impressed with and moved by his action; it reminded me never to take the kindness of others for granted. The reality is that all of us, whether we are pastors or not, have been profoundly impacted by the efforts of others. We are beneficiaries of the farmers who have grown the food that we eat, the construction workers who built our homes and the roads on which we drive, and the teachers who have shared knowledge with us. ... read more

Why I Welcome Funeral Opportunities for the Unchurched by David Osborne
Posted in Funeral Resources

Some time ago, I was getting out my car to walk into the funeral home for a person I had never met. In that moment I thought, “Am I really going to make a difference today?” I was tired and overwhelmed with many other ministry tasks yet to perform that week. In the middle of the groan that came from my soul came the familiar voice of our Savior by His Spirit saying, “Your ‘showing up’ changes everything for them.” I knew in an instant that regardless of how well I conducted the service, which is a pressure I always feel, I had already provided the family with something they desperately needed: someone to minister to their pain. ... read more

Is It Courageous to Address Sexual Sin? by Virgil Stokes
Posted in Articles by Others

"Thank you for being courageous, Pastor.” I was taken a bit off guard when one of my parishioners, a long-time Christian and a very bright man, made this comment after my sermon. The topic of the day was the power, the purpose, and the pitfalls of sex. I knew that some of the material might be challenging to a few members of our congregation, but it never occurred to me that it was “courageous” to broach the subject of sexual sin. I plead guilty to being naïve, maybe even foolhardy, but courageous? The fact that it would be thought so seemed more depressing than the subject itself. That decrying sin and encouraging holiness would be considered somehow outside the pastoral norm is, to me, a chilling indictment of the condition of our culture and the Church ... read more

The Good Seeing by Lisa Cooke
Posted in Articles by Lisa Cooke

Tony had taken an astronomy class in college, and he explained to me one night while we were dating that the ability to view the stars and planets well required “good seeing.” This means conditions atmospherically are conducive to a clear view of what you are looking at in the night sky. “The seeing is the term used in astronomy to quantify the steadiness or the turbulence of the atmosphere.” Even though we were looking at the stars and planets through our eyes alone and not with a telescope, we soon developed a judgment whether or not the night was a good seeing night or a bad seeing night. Read this article by Lisa Cooke

Recognizing the Call
Posted in Pastors' Forum

Two questions about ministry and the calling: (1) How did you as a pastor realize that you were called to ministry and to the pastoral office in particular? (2) Knowing that many are called to serve who are not called to preach, per se, how do you help other people recognize and discern their calling? Read the responses

How Jesus Dealt with Tragedy
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

Americans are reeling yet again following another senseless tragedy. As always, good-hearted people are responding with compassion, and in this benevolence, many find strength and hope. Many others, though, are increasingly confused and bewildered by the endless stream of natural disasters and human violence that incessantly assault us. Instead of succumbing to fear and fatalism, these situations present us with an opportunity to gain perspective, find answers, and discover comfort in God’s word. We will never comprehend these events unless we understand the bondage that this world and all of humanity came under due to original sin. Scripture is not mythology or a fairy tale. Paul writes, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned” (Rom 5:12, NLT). ... read more

Minding the Webs by Lisa Cooke
Posted in Articles by Lisa Cooke

There are spiders that occasionally spin their webs across the front walkway to our house. It is unnerving to feel that sticky substance attach itself to my skin as I unknowingly walk through one of their webs on the way to my car. Immediately I do the “spider dance” trying to get that web and any possible spiders off of me as quickly as possible. I don’t like being caught in their snare, even though in my rational mind I know I’m bigger than they are and that their web is no real threat to me. Our adversary is much like a spider that weaves a nearly invisible web to catch its prey. He hopes to “catch” us in his carefully woven web of lies and deceit. Some traps and snares are very obvious and can be easily seen and avoided. Read this article by Lisa Cooke

One Piece Does Not a Puzzle Make
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

Can you imagine someone opening up a box containing a jigsaw puzzle, and simply picking up one or two pieces of the puzzle? Imagine them holding up that piece or two and feeling like they’ve made a great discovery! At the same time, they blatantly disregard the hundreds of other necessary pieces that are designed to give a complete picture. We might think that is an absurd illustration, but people do the same thing with Scripture frequently. It takes all of the pieces of a puzzle to make a complete picture, and it takes the whole counsel—the comprehensive teaching—of God to give us an accurate picture of God and his will for our lives. In teaching the Bible, I have often stressed balance. It is important to understand that balance is not 50% faith and 50% unbelief; neither is balance 50% grace and 50% legalism. ... read more

Thoughts on the End of the World
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

I’m writing this on September 24, one day after the most recent in a long-string of ill-advised predictions about the rapture, the end of the world, or whatever cataclysmic event was supposed to have happened on September 23. Every time one of these so-called researchers predicts a date, I groan silently and roll my eyes. Some people simply refuse to learn from history, and some persist in thinking they have discovered the hidden, secret, cryptic formula for calculating the end of time. What equally troubles me is how gullible others are to jump on the bandwagon and believe these types of things. While the whole world did not end dramatically on September 23, the world did end for thousands of people, as it does every day. A quick look at a few websites reveals that approximately 151,600 people die each day around the world. This is most sobering, especially in light of Hebrews 9:27 that states, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” ... read more

Leadership is an Inside-Out Job! by Haley Schurz
Posted in Articles by Others

Many aspire to leadership, but do not understand the privilege, responsibility, and stakes of it. Romans 12:8 tells those who have been given the gift of leadership to “lead with diligence.” Before leading others with diligence, a leader must successfully lead themselves. Paul told Timothy, a leader, to “take heed to yourself.” As a leader, I have a deep sense of responsibility and conviction for what God has entrusted to me. With this profound call to leadership, we must prioritize the leadership of ourselves over the leadership of others. Leaders must engage in the process of self-leadership, self-development, and self-discovery because not doing so has serious implications for those around them. ... read more

The Bone Scatterer by Lisa Cooke
Posted in Articles by Lisa Cooke

Psalm 53:5 tells us that “God scatters the bones” of those who oppose his people. Knowing and believing God’s attitude toward the enemies of His people is a potent advantage we can have as we wage war against any of our adversaries and especially toward any doubts that may wander into our thought life. Remember that “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places (Eph 6:12). God has made our enemies His enemies and no one and nothing can conquer Him or His will. This may sound foreign to us when we are so used to thinking about the love and mercy of God, and of course, we pray that everyone will humble himself or herself before God and receive His mercy. The Apostle Paul himself was a great enemy of the church, and he received mercy. Read this article by Lisa Cooke

Twisting Scripture Needs to Stop!
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

As a minister of the Gospel, it is imperative that I not only study the word of God diligently, but that I also maintain an awareness of my own heart and motives. I will answer to God for what I teach others, and I must ensure that my motives are truly for the benefit of others and not for self-gain. I recently was sent a preacher’s message, and I regret to say that he twisted and misused Scripture considerably. It is probably not surprising to you that the issue pertained to money and prosperity. Listening to this message reminded me of what A. T. Robertson said, “One proof of the inspiration of the Bible is that it has withstood so much poor preaching.” There is an enormous need today for ministers to be excellent students of Scripture and faithful proclaimers of truth. ... read more

About Faith and Storms
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

September 5, 2017 - Lisa and I just returned from an attempt to go to Florida. When we reached Dallas, we were advised not to go further. In addition to the cancellation of those meetings, we will also not be going to Savannah, GA this weekend either. What is a minor inconvenience for us is potentially catastrophic for thousands, if not millions, of others. With many still reeling from Hurricane Harvey’s effects and with Irma’s overall effects yet unknown, thought it good to share a couple of thoughts about storms from a biblical perspective ... read more

Why I Welcome Funeral Opportunities for the Unchurched by David Osborne
Posted in Articles by Others

Some time ago, I was getting out my car to walk into the funeral home for a person I had never met. In that moment I thought, “Am I really going to make a difference today?” I was tired and overwhelmed with many other ministry tasks yet to perform that week. In the middle of the groan that came from my soul came the familiar voice of our Savior by His Spirit saying, “Your ‘showing up’ changes everything for them.” I knew in an instant that regardless of how well I conducted the service, which is a pressure I always feel, I had already provided the family with something they desperately needed: someone to minister to their pain. ... read more

Contributory Links
Posted in Articles by Lisa Cooke

The Weymouth New Testament version of Ephesians 4:16 says “Dependent on Him, the whole body—it’s various parts closely fitting and firmly adhering to one another—grows by the aid of every contributory link, with power proportioned to the need of each individual part, so as to build itself up in a spirit of love.” The phrase—grows by the aid of every contributory link—reminds me how valuable every single person in the Body of Christ is to the grand plan that God has orchestrated concerning our time spent here on earth. The word “contributory” is defined as “playing a part to bring something about.” How are we as members of the Body of Christ to play a part and to aid in bringing something about? Read this article by Lisa Cooke

Are “Should” and “Ought” Condemning Words?
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

Jesus is no harsh taskmaster, but He does communicate standards and expectations to those He has freely redeemed, accepted, and forgiven. He said, “my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matt 11:30). He didn’t tell His apostles to merely teach people that they are loved and forgiven; Jesus directed, “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you” (Matt 28:20). The Beloved Apostle writes, “Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). I have no interest in laboring under a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts and should’s and must’s. Neither do I want to be a part of what Leonard Ravenhill described years ago: “Today’s Church wants to be raptured from responsibility.” That is not a right approach either. I want to live out of a vibrant relationship with God in which he empowers me to do those things that he has clearly instructed and commanded in His Word. That is not legalism; that is liberating! ... read more

Church Security
Posted in Pastors' Forum

Our church has not given extensive thought to security issues. What are some of the things, naturally speaking, that other churches are doing to address security concerns in today’s societies? Do other churches have armed security during services? What kind of training do you require for someone who is armed, and what kind of guidelines do you give ushers and others who may not be “security” in a technical sense but who do look out for the safety and well-being of the people at church? Read the responses

Effective by Dave Mickelson
Posted in Articles by Others

Several years ago, I and another pastor were doing a conference on bearing fruit. In John 15 Jesus spoke of fruit: bearing fruit, bearing much fruit, bearing lasting fruit. I concluded that His intention for His body was to be effective. While doing that conference I was very supernaturally given an emphasis—or application—from each of the nine letters in the word EFFECTIVE. When I got this revelation, I spent nine weeks teaching and ministering it to our church. ... read more

Live Devotedly with Great Delight! by Lisa Cooke
Posted in Articles by Lisa Cooke

Philippians 3:14 is the rallying cry for those whose choice it is to follow God’s ways. We make the “upward call of God in Christ Jesus” our goal and with each new day pursue afresh this high calling. But let us do this with delight because we see this goal as a treasure God has made possible for us to seek. The enemy of our souls persistently tries to steal our joy, particularly in doing the will of God. ... read more

Key Thoughts from LIFT: Experiencing the Elevated Life
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

What does “lift” look like when it is operating in our lives? When we have yielded to the power that flows from the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we may be surprised at how pervasive and practical God’s influence in our lives can be. Resurrection power can drastically affect our overall attitude toward life and our attitude toward others. We can see hope where others see none. We envision possibilities when others have given up. Encouragement rises inside us even in the midst of discouraging circumstances. We reject pessimism, cynicism, and fatalism. We are empowered by a confidence that does not come from this world. ... read more

Setting the Right Moral Tone
Posted in Pastors' Forum

I have been amazed, as I’m sure many other pastors are, to witness the moral decline in our society over the last decades. As a pastor, I want to set the right tone in what is ministered in our congregation. For example, I know that we have many visitors and even attenders who are living together without being married, and some think absolutely nothing about it. It seems to be a social norm. I don’t want to be known for what we’re against, but what we’re for. At the same time, I want to help people move toward godly, biblical values and standards. I understand that people coming out of the world are going to have worldly perspectives, but what especially troubles me is long-standing Christians who seem just fine with ungodly standards. Two questions: (1) How do pastors minister the love of God to people, and yet still promote godliness? (2) How do pastors help mature Christians and leaders not buy-in to compromised, worldly standards? Read the responses

The Crown by Rhonda Lee Rogers
Posted in Articles by Others

Queen Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, was dying and was worried that his son in law would not support his daughter in her new role as monarch, so George took Phillip hunting to explain what his new role would be within the kingdom. The dying king told his son in law that his daughter would become queen upon his death and that SHE was the new job. ... read more

When Less Is Actually More by Ryan Lamberson
Posted in Articles by Others

Too often we continue to do more and more because we rarely stop and evaluate what ministries are still working and which aren’t. A good indicator that a ministry needs to be reevaluated is if the leadership feels like they have to increasingly work harder to motivate people to attend it or it has stopped growing for some time. ... read more

How Big Is Your Brave? by Lisa Cooke
Posted in Articles by Lisa Cooke

How big IS your brave? It’s OK if you feel this is an area you need and want to grow in. There is no condemnation in this question, it’s only meant to cause us to take a moment and examine ourselves to see where we are on the spectrum. Is your brave level lower than you want? How big do you want your brave to be? ... read more