Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Changing Churches Part 2

My book, Changing Churches tackles the issue of tremendous change in churches in recent decades. Changing Churches Part 1 gave an overview of the extensive changes in our culture in the last twenty to fifty years. Today in Part 2 I focus on changes in churches in the last few decades.

Part 2: Change: Good, Bad or Significant?                                                          

Back in the 1990s someone advised a new pastor, "Don't change anything until you know how long it's been there, and who it belongs to--even if it's a dead dog under the front pew." In other words, Don't rock the boat. Keeping things the same was the prevailing wisdom in churches two or three decades ago. Many churches were stuck in sameness.

This is not true today. Changes in church are now the norm; the changes are massive, even exponential. In my book I explore in detail many changes in church and how our changing culture has impacted and even infected the church. Some of the changes have made the church better. Some have hurt the church. Some have simply made it different.

A change for the better has been the updating of hymns with new music for old lyrics and the creation of many new God-exalting hymns. A change that has hurt the church is separating congregations into traditional and contemporary worship. This essentially divides the congregation by age. Another questionable change is marketing the church. This is often pragmatic, divisive and unbiblical. David Wells in The Courage to be Protestant tells of a church that advertised itself as "not your grandmother's church." This suggests anyone over fifty-five is excluded!

Christians need to ask, have the changes adapted the church to the culture? Have the changes diluted the message of the gospel to make it acceptable to seekers? Have the changes deepened the faith of believers? Have the changes won more people to Christ?

Change That's Needed
The mission of the church is to change lives through knowing Jesus Christ. The mission of the church is to teach and lead us in life-changing directions. The church needs radical change empowered by God. The church needs the kind of change David Platt suggests in his book Radical. Here's a quote from him about the church:

What is strangely lacking in the picture of performances, personalities, programs, and professionals is desperation for the power of God. God's power is at best an add-on to our strategies. I am frightened by the reality that the church I lead can carry on most of our activities smoothly, efficiently, even successfully, never realizing that the Holy Spirit of God is virtually absent from the picture. We can easily deceive ourselves, mistaking the presence of physical bodies in a crowd for the existence of spiritual life in a community.
A. W. Tozer puts it this way, "Look into the churches and you will find groups of half-saved, half-sanctified, carnal people who know more about the social niceties than they do about the New Testament."

Read Radical if you dare! Read and study the Word of God and seek Him with all your heart - if you dare. We need change that is significant!

Another book by David Platt, Radical Together, takes the ideas from his book Radical and applies them to the church. Platt asks what happens when a church unites in exalting God above all else? “What happens when our primary aim is not to make the crowds feel comfortable but to exalt God in his glory?” This book can change our churches if enough Christian churches read it, study it and put it into action. Radical Together includes a group discussion guide.

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Matt 6:33 Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things (your needs) will be given to you as well.
Matt. 6:33 Make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. NLT
Luke 12:31 Seek his kingdom and these things (your needs) will be given you as well.
Luke 12:31 Make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. NLT

Dear Father,
Your Word says we are to “Seek first your Kingdom.” What is your Kingdom and how do we put it first?

Hayford’s Bible Dictionary says that “where the King is personally, the Kingdom is presently.”

The Illustrated Bible Dictionary says the Kingdom is “God’s rule of grace in the world.”

Jesus made clear that the Kingdom was already present though hidden, a mystery – with consummation later. Your Kingdom now lives in the hearts of those who trust Jesus as their Lord and Savior and seek to follow his commands, his righteous way of love. How exciting! Thank you, Lord.

“Seek first your Kingdom.” So how do we seek your kingdom first? 
  • We read your Word. Help us read it more.
  • We obey your commands. Do we? No one does this perfectly. Help us notice when we fail to keep your commands. Help us do better as we grow in you.
  • We focus on putting you first in every area of our life, surrendering all. This is not easy. This means giving our time, our money, our hearts and souls to you daily.

Lord, we want to seek your Kingdom and your righteousness first, but we often fail to do this. We need your Spirit to enable us. Let Christ rule in our hearts and in our churches. We welcome your Kingdom. What a thought! Show us when and where we fail at this. Help us remain in you and in your Kingdom.

Blessings, Dottie

Friday, January 18, 2013

Bruised by the Word

Have you ever been bruised by the Word? Have you ever been offended, crushed, or in pain from hearing Scripture? We talk about how comforted we are by Scripture - and many scriptures are intended to comfort us. But do we ever admit we’re sometimes crushed or bruised by the Word?

I dropped a very large hard cover bible on my foot and look what happened. As I pondered this incident I realized that when we really take in the Word and hear its message we will be wounded. We will be bruised.

We’re supposed to “die to self?” Ouch!

We’re supposed to “Love others as we love ourselves?” Ouch again.

We’re supposed to Forgive? Turn the other cheek?

We ignore these teachings and numb ourselves to the pain or difficulty of hearing the Word and doing what it says.

I’m a sinner with no merit of my own. The things I want to do I don’t do. Woe is me for I am undone. He was bruised for our iniquities so his righteousness covers our sins. We are saved through faith by grace alone. The bruising is essential to our surrendering to Him. The bruising helps us grow in Christ.

Blessings, Dottie  

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Over Reactions in Marriage – Part 2

Q. Recently my husband really let me down. We had made plans to do something on a certain date. He forgot all about it and made plans to do something else. He was very busy at the time and hadn't written down the date. I know he doesn't pay attention to details like I do. The problem is I over react to this sort of thing. I take it very personally.  First I was absolutely furious. Then I got really pitiful and felt totally unloved and unlovable. I cried buckets and it was days before I recovered. Why do I over react to this sort of thing and how can I learn not to?
A. Many of us over react but we’re not usually aware of it or honest about it as you are. It’s important to pay attention to over reactions as they may signal that something else is going on other than the present day issue. The current experience touches pain deep inside us. We feel like a hurt, needy child. 
Over Reactions are Normal in Children
Babies and young children feel things intensely and have little control over their emotions. When frustrated they’re consumed with anger. When hurt, they cry intensely. As we get older we become more civilized and learn to delay or moderate our feelings. We learn to remain in touch with our feelings without being overwhelmed by them.

A child who experiences a trauma such as abuse, neglect or abandonment, will often learn to disassociate his feelings in order to not to be overwhelmed and to survive. He learns not to feel. However, the feelings are locked up inside. Even without a major trauma, we may have had experiences which were too overwhelming to deal with as children. We carry these feelings and issues with us into our adult life.
Conquering Over Reactions
Though we may not remember the "trauma" itself, something in our present circumstance triggers long buried emotions. To overcome this, notice the times when you do over react. Write down what happened and how you reacted. After you have several examples of over reacting, figure out what these examples have in common. The scene in each example may be similar and may be reminiscent of how you felt as a child. Write about these childhood scenes. How does your present life compare? Realize you are no longer as vulnerable as you were back then.
Learn to love the hurt and needy child inside you. Remind yourself that the needy child is irrational and emotional for some very good reasons. Tell her God loves her and will take care of her. Tell her you also love her and will take care of her. Read John Bradshaw's books Healing the Shame That Binds You or Homecoming for additional ideas on healing the inner child.
Counseling can also help you work through deep inner hurts. 
See Over Reactions in Marriage - Part 1.

You will know the truth and the truth will set you free. “ John 8:32 NLT

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Change: Good, Bad or Significant?

The topic of change is huge. My book, Changing Churches tackles the issue of tremendous change in churches in recent decades. Today I’ll give illustrations of the tremendous changes in our culture in the last sixty years. Later I’ll comment on changes in churches.

Change Overload
For thousands of years “change was slow, controlled, accessible; now it convulses at warp speed” says Richard A. Swenson in his 1992 book Margins. Swenson says we pay a price for each change we face. You may recall his Life Change Index which assigned health risk to the changes experienced, detailing the various ways change overload affects us. Many of us have activity overload, choice overload, commitment overload, debt overload, decision overload, information overload, noise overload, possession overload, technology overload, and work overload. And he names even more. 

Population Changes
If change overload was a problem in 1992, imagine what it is more than twenty years later. Does anyone not have an overload problem now? Our world has changed at a rate never before experienced. The world population has grown from two billion people in 1800 to three billion in 1964, to six billion in 1999, to seven billion this year. Think of the ramifications of this. These figures boggle my mind. How have these change affected us, the world, our culture, and the church?

Changes Grandpa Remembers
Some of you may have seen or heard the forwarded email, (condensed here) “How old is Grandpa?” A grandchild asks his grandpa’s age. Grandpa replies:
"I was born before television, penicillin, polio shots, frozen foods, Xerox, contact lenses, Frisbees and the pill. There were no credit cards, laser beams, or ballpoint pens. Man had not invented panty hose, air conditioners, dishwashers or clothes dryers and the clothes were hung out to dry in the fresh air and man had not yet walked on the moon. We got married first, and then lived together. Every family had a mother and a father……"
 "Grass was mowed. Coke was a cold drink. Pot was something your mother cooked in. Rock music was you grandmother's lullaby. Aides were helpers in the principal's office. Hardware was found in a hardware store. Chip meant a  piece of wood. Software was not even a word. We were the last generation to believe that a lady needed a husband to have a baby. How old is Grandpa? He is fifty-nine. Or he may be sixty-one by now."

On this Rock
In view of the change overload we all face in life, and in view of the change and corruption of our culture, the church must be a rock, a stable place. We, the church, must maintain the core doctrines and traditions of the faith. We must teach the Word in its entirety. We must hold fast to our unchanging God in Christ Jesus. “O Thou who changes not, abide with me.” Abiding in Him anchors us and also transforms us. We are new creations in Christ. This is significant change.

“On this rock I will build my church.” Matthew 16:18

Blessings, Dottie

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Matt. 6:25-34  Do not worry about your life, food or drink, clothing or tomorrow.
Luke12:22-28 Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear.
Luke 12:29 Do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink, do not worry about it.
John 6:27 Do not work for food that spoils, but food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you.
John 7:37 If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.

You have blessed us with resources so we know we have food, drink and clothing. Many in war ravaged or diseased infested lands do not have it so well. And many right now in New York and New Jersey are struggling without power, food, water or gas and with their homes destroyed as a result of hurricane Sandy. It is much more difficult in these situations to trust You for our care. Or is it? Sometimes we feel closest to you when we need you the most.

Even with abundance we worry about what to wear (though we have plenty of clothes). We worry about the economy with the debt looming over our country. And we worry about minor physical problems, about the length of our life and the duration of good health. I know I do. I often worry about tomorrow! 

Forgive me, Lord. Worry is a common human response to most anything. I think Jesus is saying our worry separates us from You. And much of what we worry about is in the future. To stay close to You we need to remain in the present rather than borrowing trouble by worrying about tomorrow. Help me remain in You and trust You completely.

Blessings, Dottie

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Prophetic Book for Americans

I just finished reading Implosion by Joel Rosenburg. So here's my book review as an extra blog this week. 

Implosion is a very timely book and well worth reading. It asks the question, can America recover from its economic and spiritual challenges in time? Rosenberg writes in the context of Christian prophecy and beliefs. Some of his books have been prophetic – coming out just before major events related to his topic. He has done it again with this book - dealing with the financial and moral crisis currently facing us.

Rosenberg describes the pessimists view, the optimists view and the biblical view of our current national plight. I was sobered by this part which gives many facts and figures about how deeply in debt and how deeply decadent our culture has become. He also vividly describes his biblical understanding of the Rapture.

Then Rosenberg gives a detailed, informative history about the First and Second Great Awakening. I learned that even in the 1700’s Christians were plagued with apathy! Rosenberg’s rich descriptions of Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield and John and Charles Wesley demonstrate how their influence sparked revival. Similarly, in the chapter on the Second Great Awakening we read about Francis Asbury, Timothy Dwight and Charles Finney and their impact in igniting revival.

Rosenberg then asks the question: “Will God in his grace and mercy decide to allow the American people to experience a Third Great Awakening?” He believes our country will implode unless this happens. He challenges all Christians to get serious about their faith, offering specifics about how to pray for revival, share the Gospel with others, and disciple new believers. He says we need a national U-turn from our current path as a nation.

This is an excellent book to guide us in what we can and must do as Christians. Only God can bring another Great Awakening. Our prayers, repentance and efforts to obey God may not be successful, but without this our country will face “utter disaster.” Pray for revival!

New Year Blessings, Dottie