October 2013
Church Press Newsletter
Less "Fluff" Please

Many daily devotionals now days seem to have a great deal of "fluff" but lack digging more deeply into Scripture. When you sit down with your family for daily devotions, it's important that you feed on the "Bread," the Word.

Faith Alone has 365 daily devotions taken from Luther's writings and sermons. It's meaty. It feeds you. # 352, hard cover, 390 pages, only $14.99. Use the website or email us.

P.S. Your "professional study" of the Bible needs to be augmented by personal and daily study of the Bible.


Avoid Ministry Burnout

Outreach September/October 2013
, p. 100

Cultivate dependence on God for strength and power. Remember, your ministry is not yours - it's God's. Stop trying to control what you can't control and manage what you have no business managing. This includes others' opinions of and reactions to you.

Seek intimate fellowship with pastors and others with whom you can share your burdens. Feeling isolated or alone? Many pastors in your city or community likely have similar struggles. Seek them out and cultivate deep relationships with them. You'll give God an opportunity to create friendships and ministry opportunities that may surprise you.

Funny Questions Lawyers Ask

Q. What happened then?
A. He said, "I have to kill you because you can identify me." Q. Did he kill you?
Q. Do you have any children or anything of that kind?
Q. Do you know how far pregnant you are now?
A. I'll be three months on November 8.
Q. Apparently, then, the date of conception was August 8?
A. Yes.
Q. What were you doing at that time?
Q. Have you lived in this town all of your life?
A. Not yet.
Q. Was that the same nose you broke as a child?
Q. So you were gone until you returned?
A. Yes.
Q. How many were boys?
A. None.
Q. Were there girls?

Idea for Elders

At the monthly meeting of your Board of Elders, ask them to share interesting visits or chats they had with people assigned to them.

Be sure that confidences are not shared. Let this also be a time to encourage your Elders to encourage brothers and sisters in the Lord. We are about the King's business here.

"Ask and You Will Receive"

Children's Talk
by Pastor Don Ginkel

Jesus said, "Ask and you will receive," John 16:24. Say it with me: "Ask and you will receive." I have in my hands three things: A penny, a quarter, and a dollar. Now I want the youngest child to come to me (a small girl comes forward).

Now which of these three do you want? The penny? Okay. Now the next smallest child can come to me. Katie, (second little child). You can take the quarter or the dollar. But I do like to tease. Sometimes I tease my friends, so I may be teasing you. Which do you want - the quarter or the dollar? (she takes the quarter). [read more]

For Pastor's Eyes  Only

Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Donald S. Whitney. Covers disciplines in prayer, worship, serving, stewardship, learning, and more. Hard cover. 245 pages. New. Retails for $19.99. Free (including shipping) to the first pastor who emails us.

For Church Secretary's
Eyes Only

Living the Extraordinary Life, nine principles to discover it, by Charles E. Stanley. Hard cover. 203 pages. New. Retails for $19.99. Free (including shipping) to the first secretary (or office administrator) who emails us.

Studies on Islam

We carry three excellent studies on Islam for personal and group study. Pastors who lead a study on Islam often purchase all three items listed below.

The Facts on Islam
An excellent summary review. 80 pages, #367, $5.99

Muslims - Reasoning from the Scriptures with Muslims
Growth, Dialoguing, Mohammed, The Qur'an, Allah, View of the Afterlife, Jihad, How to share God's Word with Muslims. Very comprehensive. 342 pages, #311, $14.99.

Islam: Qur'an vs. Holy Scripture
The Beginning, Five Pillars & Hadith, Sects, God and Allah, Bible & the Qur'an, Daily Life & Issues. A reproducible Bible study CD by R. R. Kremer (WELS), #261, $39.99. Reproduce the study as many times as you wish.

Click website or email us.
Very Good Church Website

We like the attractive and very informative website for Bethlehem Lutheran Church (LCMS), Sun Prairie, WI, Rev. Charles Brandt, lead pastor. Excellent job of identifying all the programs and activities of the Church. Click Bethlehem Lutheran Church for ideas. Well done.

What Goes Around
A few days ago a friend of Church Press shared how she and her siblings had just gathered around their mother's sick bed at her home in Kansas. The mother was 92 years old and semi-conscious. Her grown children, all Christians, sang hymns of praise to the Lord. Two days later she died. When the children were young, the mother made it a habit to have the children gather around the piano as she led them in singing to the Lord. How true the saying: "What does around comes around."

It Makes a Big Difference

Are there other beings on earth beside human beings? Unfortunately a Christian can go to church and attend Bible class his entire life and never hear a sermon or study a lesson that deals with the subject of angels - both good and bad. This is inexcusable.

The Bible is not silent on the subject of angels. It speaks at great length and very clearly in both the Old and New Testaments.

The Story of Angels is an in-depth, ten-lesson Bible study by Pastor Ginkel. God has a plan for angels for you and for Himself. It makes a big difference that you know what it is. Order a copy today at our website or email us. It's #150, $6.95.

We invite you to hear the music and read the words to Amazing Grace in a stark presentation of this moving hymn. Take a moment to reflect on God's unending love and His amazing grace for you. Go full screen and click
Amazing Grace - Best Version By Far! 
 A new presentation of Amazing Grace 
"Summer Has Ended, and We Are Not Saved"
By Pastor Don Ginkel

Jeremiah says, "The harvest is past, the summer has ended, and we are not saved" (8:20). That is verbalizing a desperate hopelessness. Verse 21: "Since my people are crushed, I am crushed; I mourn, and horror grips me." How does it come to a point where he says to his people that they are not saved both physically and spiritually and they are doomed? The asparagus was saved, the olives were brought in, the potatoes were saved, but the people were lost!

They involved themselves in worshiping false gods. They set up idols as they saw fit to suit there own fancies. They worshiped their summer homes while their neighbors and they remained "unsaved" with God. Why aren't people saved? Then and today people want to avoid only the consequences of sin, but they don't want to avoid the sin. Summer can be very deceiving.

Being saved speaks not only of being delivered from the consequences of sin, but deliverance from sin - a willingness to repent and get rid of it as God takes it away. One man who scoffed at that said, "I'll take my chances." He will never say that when he sees the gates of hell, but he is saying it now.

Do you desire to have the one, true God live inside you? Do you detest your sins and do you want to be free from them? Then believe that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, all of them, and that His very name, Jesus, means Savior from sin (Matthew 1:22).

In the end only one thing matters - that even though "summer has ended," you are saved - saved now, saved in the hour of your death, and saved forever with God. (And think about all this as it applies to your unbelieving friends and neighbors. For them summer has ended and they are not saved. Think about what is going to happen to them. Be encouraged to share your personal testimony.)

How to Become Better Friends as Husband & Wife
By Dr. Leslie Parrott with Dr. Les Parrott
Focus On the Family, August 30, 2013

Two days after our wedding in Chicago, Les and I were nestled into a cottage on the Oregon Coast. We had nothing on our itinerary for the next five days except plans to enjoy the beach and each other, rain or shine.

Our first unexpected adventure occurred the day after we arrived. I was commenting on how the sun was trying to poke its way out of some clouds, when Les realized the keys were locked inside the rental car.

So, we walked two or three miles to find a pay phone and made arrangements for the locksmith to pick us up. Sitting on a curb, we waited. Saying Nothing. Les was fiddling with a stick he'd picked up on our walk. Several minutes had passed, and neither of us said a word. It was an easy stillness. We were comfortable and content.

It was there and then that the thought hit me: I had married my best friend! This man loved me deeply, just as I loved him. I'm not talking about mere romance or passion, but an abiding love that embraces deep affection and friendship. Our love was grounded in companionship. We were allies. Comrades. Partners. [read more]

Always Preach for a Specific Response
By Pastor Rick Warren

The Bible is clear that Christians must be "doers of the Word and not hearers only," (James 1:22) so it's clear that our responsibility as Pastors and preachers of the Word is to challenge people to do something in response to what we've said. In other words, the goal of preaching is life change.

How can you add more application into your message to make God's Word more doable? Always aim for a specific response.

The greatest weakness of most preaching is that the sermon has fuzzy focus. So many sermons are vague and abstract because the pastor isn't really clear about why he is teaching this particular message, nor does he give the audience a specific direction to go in response. [read more]

Stack of Stuff

"See the lilies of the field..." is an encouragement/get well card pointing to Jesus and the promise He makes to every believer to comfort and to heal. It's Card No. 405. Email us and ask for a free sample.

This is the coolest thing you
will ever see a marching band do. Turn your speakers on and watch full screen. Click coolest.

"For broken dreams, the cure is 'Dream again.'" - C. S. Lewis

An elderly woman
was filling out an application for residency in a retirement village. She was a bit nervous answering all the questions about her health, fearing she might be refused admission. But, she finally finished the form and then signed her name and filled in the place where it asked for her current address. After "Zip" she printed: "Normal for my age."

81 Christians were recently killed
by suicide bombers in Pakistan.

"Beware lest you forget God's purpose for your life."
- Oswald Chambers

A bulletin paragraph before your new membership class:
How would you like to be instrumental in changing for the better the welfare of another human being for the rest of life on earth and forever? You have the opportunity. Next Sunday, ____________,  at _________ in the _________________ Room we begin a ten-week Bible study entitled, I Have Good News For You, a course that truly changes lives. Some of the people you know may not have many more opportunities to come to saving faith in the Lord. Please invite and bring someone. Thanks!

Don't be afraid to talk to people about your faith in Jesus Christ. Tell in your own words the difference the Savior has made in your life.

At home and at church don't sweat the "small stuff" even though sometimes it's good to take care of the small stuff.

Pick your battles carefully - some are simply not worth fighting. They are not that important.

It's Not What You Say, It's What People Hear
By Dr. Frank Luntz
Words That Work, pp. 13-14

"You can have the best message in the world, but the person on the receiving end will always understand it through the prism of his or her own emotions, preconceptions, prejudices, and preexisting beliefs. It's not enough to be correct or reasonable or even brilliant. The key to successful communication is to take the imaginative leap of stuffing yourself right into your listener's shoes to know what they are thinking and feeling in the deepest recesses of their mind and heart. How that person perceives what you say is even more real, at least in a practical sense, than how you perceive yourself.

"Once the words leave your lips, they no longer belong to you. The act of speaking is not a conquest, but a surrender. When we open our mouths, we are sharing with the world - and the world inevitably interprets, indeed sometimes shifts and distorts, our originally meaning. After all, who hasn't uttered the words, "But that's not what I actually meant'"?

Tweeting My Life Away
 By Glen Packiam

What if you took a break from blogging and tweeting? I scanned the room, looking into the faces of friends I'd known over a decade . . . One friend said, "Glen, you want to be a pastor. But right now you're so worried about your digital influence that you forget to be present personally and locally." That was tough to hear, but he was right.

"What can I do to turn this around?" That's when they suggested it: a six-month fast from blogs and Twitter . . . When I got home, I told my wife what my friends had suggested. "I think I'm going to do this," I said. "I think I'm going to take six months away from social media." Her eyes welled with tears. I had been more distracted by the world of social media than I realized." [read more]

Fighting the Stigma of Mental Illness
By Troy Anderson
Outreach September/October, 2013

As someone who watched his life implode following a painful manic episode, Community of Grace Lutheran Church Pastor Brad Hoefs understands just how serious America's mental health crisis really is. Today one in three Americans is dealing with some type of mental disorder - depression, anxiety, etc. - and suicide rates are at unprecedented levels. 86 people commit suicide each day.

People are hurting, but they often feel judged and marginalized by the church, says Hoefs, who resigned from his job as pastor of one of the nation's fastest-growing megachurches in 1995 following an incident triggered by undiagnosed bipolar disorder.

"We have the ultimate hope that can get anybody through anything," Hoefs says. "There is a huge crises in our culture, a mental health crisis, and people are screaming for help, but the church hasn't been doing anything as a whole."

With input from his doctor, Hoefs developed six biblical tenents for those with mental health issues - principles he found instrumental in his own recovery. Recently, he published the wellness workbook Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, which churches and individuals can use to start their own Fresh Hope groups.

You can order a copy of Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis at FreshHopeBook.com or Amazon.com. To start a Fresh Hope group in your community, email info@FreshHope.us.

A Long Hospitalization

How can you minister to those who are going through a long hospitalization? State your concern: "I'm sorry" or "I've been thinking about you and praying for you." Speak from your heart. What follows are things you might avoid and followed by things you might consider doing.
  • Avoid, if you have not gone through a similar event, saying, "I understand."
  • Avoid pretending to know more than the doctors about the diagnosis or the outcome.
  • Avoid playing theologian as to why this event occurred but encourage the person with God's Word.
  • Avoid a visit more than ten minutes unless you are invited to stay by the patient.
  • Avoid mentioning anyone who was in a similar situation and who died.
  • Avoid talking about a sleeping or unconscious person in their presence - they often can hear.
  • Avoid sending cut flowers. Instead, send plants as plants continue to live, but cut flowers fade and die.  
Signs of Burnout
- Mayo Clinic, Outreach September/October 2013, p. 73
  • Being overly cynical or critical
  • Having a hard time getting started on an assignment
  • Behaving irritably with co-workers
  • Lacking enough energy to be productive consistently
  • Appearing disillusioned or expressing disillusionment
  • Using food, drugs or alcohol to feel better or simply to not feel
  • Changed sleeping or eating habits
  • Suffering from unexplained headaches, backaches or other physical complaints.  
What Recovery Looks Like
- Thom Rainer, based on interviews with pastors
Outreach September/October 2013, p. 73

  • Spent more time in prayer and the Word
  • Began to dream again
  • Stopped comparing
  • Developed relationships with non-Christians
  • Moved my focus from the negative to the positive
  • Learned to have fun
  • Ended draining relationships
  • Expressed gratitude regularly
  • Spent more time doing things that energized me
  • Got in better physical shape
  • Made a commitment to have a greater servant spirit 
 The Ministry of There
By Tim Challies
Christianity Today, Summer 2013

I heard recently of a pastor who keeps a jar of marbles by his pulpit, each marble representing one week in the life of the pastor with an average lifespan. The marbles represent what remains of his ministry, what remains of his opportunity to be there with the people he serves. Each week, immediately before he enters the pulpit, he removes one of those marbles.

He does this to remind himself that he will only be with them so many more times, and that while he is with them he needs to take advantage of the opportunity, to preach God's Word, to bring comfort, to show love to the people assigned to his care.

Not long ago I met with a church that has no pastor. There is no one in the pulpit on Sunday to preach the Word, no one to go to the hospital to visit the sick, no one to visit their homes to reassure them of God's grace in their lives.

The ministry of there is one of the pastor's highest callings and greatest privileges. Be all means, use new technologies to minister to God's people and to reach those beyond the walls of your church. But don't allow these great technologies to keep you away from where you are needed most. Ultimately, there's no substitute for being there.

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