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Is Bible Interpretation Really Necessary? by Marvin Yoder
Posted in Articles by Others

Today’s world is filled with many anti-Christian attitudes. Some of it is provoked by Satan who challenges the truth of God’s Word wherever he can. In other instances, it is brought on by the way the Church has dealt with some things. One item that comes under constant criticism is how the Church has used the Bible. Skeptics point to the myriad of doctrines within the Church and the fact that many denominations do not agree with each other. Many non-church people have expressed doubts as to the validity of the Bible ... read more

Estamos Fazendo a Pergunta Certa?
Posted in Articles in Portuguese

Correndo o risco de soar excessivamente crítico, gostaria de abordar a respeito de algo que tenho observado. Com que frequência ouvimos pessoas argumentarem a respeito de seus propósitos e pedirem a Deus para realizar seus desejos? Elas perguntam: “Qual é o meu propósito?” Sem dúvidas, tais questionamentos podem vir de corações sinceros e puros. ... read more

Salvation is a Free Gift that Will Cost You Everything! by Jerry Moyer
Posted in Articles by Others

I have noticed that when Christians describe their relationship with Jesus, they usually say “Jesus is my Lord and Savior.” Many times, it’s said so fast that it’s all slurred together like “Lordandsavior.” Like it’s all one word. Over the last several decades the church has focused a lot on the savior part and with much teaching on grace as of late most people understand that salvation is a free gift that is paid for with the blood of Jesus that washes away our sin, so we can be born again. ... read more

The Worship Leader Within by Lisa Cooke
Posted in Articles by Lisa Cooke

Worship leading is a vital position in most churches today. A lot of emphasis is put on the best sound, the current look, the most engaging personalities, all for the purpose of leading the congregation successfully into the portion of the service we call worship. There are lots of opinions out there as to whether this is a good thing or a bad thing and I’m sure sometimes it is good and sometimes it is bad. ... read more

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

It was Yogi Berra who famously said, “It ain’t over till it’s over.” As a baseball player and manager, he no doubt saw many great comebacks in his career. He saw teams who were ahead but eased up too early and allowed another team to overtake them. He also witnessed teams that were behind, but refused to give up and fought their way back to an unlikely victory. A verse that recently spoke to my heart involves Moses’ successor. Joshua 13:1 states, “Now Joshua was old, advanced in years. And the LORD said to him: ‘You are old, advanced in years, and there remains very much land yet to be possessed.’” ... read more

Guidelines for Youth Workers
Posted in Pastors' Forum

We are bringing a new youth minister on staff, and I wonder what types of guidelines we should set for him relative to how he interacts with the young people. We have heard horror stories of people who work with youth who put themselves in compromising situations and faced terrible accusations. Read the responses

Degrees of Syn: Partnerships that Matter
Posted in Articles by Tony Cooke

It is important in life and in ministry to know who is with you, and to what level or degree they are with you. Have you ever had someone that you thought was a committed friend, but later found out they really weren’t? What about a person you thought was a loyal church member or staff member, but they quickly proved otherwise? People can step away from a church or a staff for positive reasons and in a positive manner, but it is still important for teams to be cohesive and working toward a common purpose. ... read more

An Excerpt from Snapshots of Faith by Gerald Brooks
Posted in Articles by Others

If you will let faith work in you, it must be more than a problem solving method. It must change you as a person, and it must change your perspective. Have a faith bigger than if you get a new car. Have a faith bigger than if your plans are all fulfilled. Make your faith more about heaven, and more about what is yet to come. Make faith more about heaven than it is about earth. I see three types of faith taught in the New Testament. ... read more

A Practical, Functional Salvation: Not Just Two Events by Rodney Lloyd
Posted in Articles by Others

More than anything else Christianity is about the Father and His family – God and His people, the church, and the richness of the life He has given us – love, joy, peace, patience, forgiveness, etc. It is about the omnipotent God and His unfailing, unflagging love, who worked for millennia to win back the height of His creation – humans. It is about Him through the sacrifice of Jesus bringing us into a purposeful life of destiny. It is about being raised up as sons and daughters, equipped to do God’s work (Ephesians 4:12 NLT). ... read more

The Way in Our Manger by Lisa Cooke
Posted in Articles by Lisa Cooke

My mother passed away last month, and as Christmas approaches, I’m filled with memories of her, of how she lived her life, and of how much she loved her children. One of my favorite memories is from my early childhood. My mother and father attended a Methodist church at the time, and at Christmas they always put a manger scene beneath our Christmas tree. My father made the wooden stall himself as he was an artist and loved working with wood. My mother would drive an hour to Indianapolis every Christmas season and buy one or two figurines to fill the manger scene with. ... read more

Comparison?
Posted in Pastors' Forum

Have you ever fallen into the trap of comparing yourself with other pastors? If so, what resulted? How did you learn to quit comparing yourself with other ministers and focus on being yourself and doing what God asks of you? Read the responses

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