Do all Single Moms Deserve Sympathetic Assistance? An Honest Look at a National Problem

I recently listened to a popular, Christian radio program in which the topic being discussed was family life according to the Bible. The guest was a prominent pastor who has written and spoken on a variety of family-related topics many times before. During this segment, the pastor mentioned one of the practices of the male leadership of his church as being to rally around single moms seeking to provide mentoring to their sons. The justification for this practice was based on the assumption that single moms did not have a godly male figure in their home and thus could benefit from the influence of one of the church’s leaders. On another occasion, a single mom was a guest interviewee in a nearby church. Commenting on her appreciation for her church family, she mentioned how following her divorce, one of the elders requested to take her son out to lunch. During these two interviews, nothing was said regarding an initial inquiry into the status of the child’s father. Moreover, there was no mention of having a preliminary discussion about the circumstances which led to the mom’s singleness. On the surface, the efforts to reach out to these young men sound noble and courageous on the part of these leaders. However, upon further consideration, there are several concerns associated with a ‘coming to the rescue’ approach regarding the national single mom dilemma.

It is common knowledge that the Mother’s Day holiday receives far more attention than Father’s Day. No doubt, mothers are viewed with the utmost value as it relates to modern family life. It is also evident that many children are being reared in fatherless homes with the mother bearing most if not all of the responsibility for raising the child. In addition, many single moms work full-time jobs, making the demands of parenting that much more daunting. Yet, despite these realities, there are reasons to believe that many single mothers may be receiving far too much sympathetic assistance from others.

The first reason for this consideration is that many single moms are in the predicament they are in because of their own decisions. In fact, one author concluded that women once initiated 91% of U.S. divorces. One recent study highlighted by the American Sociological Association concluded that women initiate 69% of the divorces in America. Why did they do it? The author of the study, sociology professor Michael Rosenfeld, stated that many women viewed their marriages as lacking “quality” and were thus “uncomfortable” with the monogamous commitment. For these women, the answer to the low-quality discomfort they were feeling was to abandon the marriage altogether. Rather than work on the “quality” of the marriage with maturity, these women decided to give up on honoring their vows made before God and others. Most assuredly, for single moms in this category, this is not a basis for sympathy.

A second reason that sympathetic assistance may not be best is that many single moms are the contributing factor to why their child’s father is not actively involved in the child’s life. The truth is, some single moms become bitter towards the father of their child such that they make it extremely difficult for the two to stay connected. In fact, I know several men who have expressed to me the hardships and trials they faced in simply seeking to maintain a good, healthy relationship with their child following a separation from the child’s mother. In many cases, the mother’s anger, animosity and immaturity leads her to use missed time with the children as a revenge mechanism towards the father. Indeed, the reason that many children do not have a relationship with their father is perhaps because the embittered mother has essentially pushed him out of their lives. Not only is this a reality among secularists, this is sadly the case even among church-going women. While pastors may be oblivious to these things, they are happening among some of the single moms in his congregation. Again, single mothers in this category do not deserve sympathy, but to be challenged to do that which is best for the child (i.e. balance of time with both parents) and is pleasing to the Lord (James 4:17).

Lastly, some single moms (whether they ever married or not) have found themselves in the situation they are in due to deliberate rebellion against both God and others. For example, the Scriptures make it clear that the people of God are not to involve themselves in a sacred union with unbelievers (Ezra 10:1-5; 2 Cor. 6:14-18). Yet, this prohibition has not prevented some ‘Christian’ women from dabbling in spiritually compromised relationships. Whether the involvement leads to marriage or not, once a child is born, the mother and father are united for life. Often times, single motherhood results from a sexual encounter with an unbelieving man who was never interested in marriage to begin with. Despite knowing/perceiving this, the church-going woman proceeds with the relationship only to possibly find herself dependent on others due to an untimely pregnancy.

Similar to this, some single mothers chose to involve themselves with a man they were warned about in advance. While not every ‘warning’ is valid, the insights of trusted friends and family should be taken seriously since they will likely be the ones whose shoulder she will cry on if the relationship goes south. In addition, other expressions of dependency and support will be needed from the very people she may ignore regarding her relationship decision. Once again, single, impenitent moms in these situations should not be indiscriminately considered as candidates for assistance. Instead, they need to both acknowledge and confess their sins, and seek God’s forgiveness, as well as the forgiveness of those whose concerns were disregarded. Until this happens, sympathy is not necessarily fitting.

In reference to the statistic on over 2/3 of all divorces being initiated by women, how does a Christian woman justify divorcing a husband who wants to stay and work on the marriage in light of the prohibition against leaving (1 Cor. 7:13)? How can she be at peace with such a destructive decision knowing that the God she claims to follow hates divorce (Mal. 2:16)? Again, how is sympathy appropriate for the woman who claims to follow Christ but chooses to disregard her vows to her husband whom she is bound to for life (1 Cor. 7:39)? Could many of these divorces be among women who masquerade as Christians but in fact do not follow the Lord (Luke 6:46)? If so, it is not mere sympathy that they need; these women need repentance over their sins and a genuine embracing of the gospel of Christ.

It is worth noting that the Bible refers to the wife as a “weaker vessel” (1 Pet. 3:7). According to, weaker can be defined as: “not strong; liable to…collapse under pressure, fragile.” The biblical verse, along with the definitions listed, suggest that wives are more vulnerable to negativity and neuroticism when facing marital challenges, and thus more prone to respond to them in unproductive ways. If this is true, that may contribute to our understanding of why wives initiate most divorces in this country. In many marriages, wives have a harder time handling the pressures of holy matrimony, leading many of them to end otherwise salvageable marriages. Not only is this conclusion based on Scripture, but also on qualitative research.

I am not downplaying the seriousness of marital issues that can surface after a couple exchanges their vows. Surely, any couple that has been married for any length of time knows that marriage is difficult. Nevertheless, mere hardship is not an excuse to give up; to the contrary, it is the basis for endurance (2 Tim. 2:3). It is true that adversity introduces a woman to herself, and this is most evident in the context of marriage.

I once heard a pastor explain the first time he had exercised church discipline on one of the members of his congregation; it involved a woman who pursued an unbiblical divorce from her husband. Although she was discouraged from doing so, she proceeded with the separation. Following the divorce, the pastor asked her if she was repentant over her decision. She answered in the negative, asserting that she would do it all over again if needed. At that point, the pastor humbly decided, on the basis of biblical teaching, that she was no longer welcome to fellowship with his congregation (Matt. 18:15-18; 1 Cor. 5). While some Christians might frown upon this pastor’s response, he displayed biblical courage that is to be commended. Indeed, following the Word of God can be tough, but it is better to please God rather than people (Gal. 1:10).

Regarding the radio program discussion, should church leaders position themselves to ‘help’ single moms with their sons? Maybe, but only after a thorough assessment of her parenting circumstances has been conducted. This includes a request to contact the child’s father to ascertain the accuracy of the mother’s story. Why would this be needed? Perhaps the child’s father is already doing what the potential church mentor would seek to do. Without knowing the level of involvement from the father, the church leader runs the risk of positioning himself for a role that is essentially unneeded. Also, every single mom represents a broken family to some extent. The mere fact that the father is not present at home with the mother and children presents an obvious problem. Yet, due to God’s high priority for fathers to spiritually influence their children (Eph. 6:4), this role should always be investigated first. While this may seem like too much work simply to help a young man grow into Christlike adulthood, some single mothers are not always honest about their situation. As such, investigating the backgrounds of broken families is one way to ensure that church leaders are not participating in something that is both improper and even ungodly (1 Tim. 5:22).

While the tone of this article may seem ungracious, the purpose here is to look at the problem of single motherhood with balance and honesty. Many adults (including myself) have been raised by a single mom and learned very valuable life lessons through that experience. However, that does not excuse the realities discussed here. This is especially the case for single moms who profess to be followers of Jesus.

In conclusion, it is fair to say that some single mothers deserve sympathy, depending on their unique circumstances. Yet, in many cases, single moms should be lovingly confronted about the circumstances that led to their single parenting status. Undoubtedly, celebrating single mothers on Mother’s Day is certainly valid, insofar as the aforementioned issues have been correctly addressed by those who love them. Indeed, single motherhood is a national problem that can be lessened, but only with the help of those who love women enough to stand up for the truth.

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The Blessing of Competence in Marriage Counseling

Recently, the former First Lady Michelle Obama sat down with Oprah Winfrey to talk about her life as an empty nester. With both of her daughters off to college, she and her husband, former President Barack Obama, are enjoying their lives and rediscovering what led them to fall in love with each other.

Yet, with their public persona of a having great marriage and life together, things have not always been that way. Indeed, during the interview, the former First Lady opened up about the difficulties she and her husband faced after becoming parents. In fact, those “tough times” were so taxing on their marriage that they eventually participated in marital therapy. Thankfully, the therapist helped Mrs. Obama discover a very profound truth about marriage: no one can make her happy but herself.

“Marriage is hard and raising a family together is a hard thing,” said Obama. She did not need a therapist to help her comprehend the difficulties she was facing, but to help her better understand how to approach them. Apparently, the therapist was competent enough to assist her with what she needed. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

Sometimes those who counsel others do not possess the skills needed to effectively assist clients experiencing marital distress. Surely, many people who position themselves as counselors may have experience working with people facing troubling times. Yet, learning how to counsel an individual, let alone a couple, requires proper education, professional experience, and even supervision from a licensed (i.e. competent) therapist (American Counseling Association, Code of Ethics, C.2.a.). It is presumptuous to provide counseling to couples without competently understanding the nuances of marital conflict and how to address them. Indeed, more is needed to develop the competence necessary for effective marital counseling practice. When that which is needed is neglected, the counselor can end up doing more harm than good.

There are at least three elements to demonstrate competence in counseling: 1) the therapeutic approach is evidence-based, 2) methods are based on the counselor’s positive experiences with previous clients, and 3) the methods are tailored to each specific client. Inherent in these elements is the expectation that the counselor is, as Mrs. Obama stated, “objective.” That is, one way incompetence can be recognized in marriage counseling is when the counselor either directly or indirectly favors one client over another. To avoid this tendency, professional counselors are forbidden from counseling family members or close friends if they cannot be objective (American Counseling Association, Code of Ethics, A.5.b.).

Being objective is not being callous or indifferent. Rather, objectivity leads the counselor to view the couple’s troubles independently from any bias. In other words, it allows the counselor to be neutral, not taking sides with either party, while focusing on a common goal for both parties. When a counselor demonstrates his/her competence via an objective approach, it facilitates the kind of therapy that can strengthen a marriage the way the Obama’s was.

Have you experienced competent marital counseling? If so, your marriage is probably in a healthier place as a result. If not, rest assured that there are counselors available who possess the competence needed to help your marriage thrive if you and your spouse are committed to that pursuit.

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Life in the Valley

It has been said that God will never put more on someone than he/she can bear. Advocates of this view may appeal to the biblical story of Job, which is one of the most astounding accounts of divine sovereignty in the entire Bible. Job, regarded as a righteous man of God, encountered more pain and suffering in one day than most people will be subjected to in their entire lifetime. Nevertheless, he was determined to remain faithful to God no matter what, even as he acknowledged that his seemingly gratuitous suffering was ultimately from the hands of God (Job 13:15).

No doubt, suffering has a way of making us think, reflect, and reexamine our lives and our priorities. Pain, whether emotional or physical, gets our attention like nothing else. Yet, when it comes, our default response is typically one of avoidance at all costs. This is somewhat understandable; after all, even Jesus Christ Himself, speaking from His human nature, desired to avoid the pain of the cross (Matt. 26:39). If the Son of Almighty God had an aversion to suffering, how much more will those whom He has created?

In my first book entitled Challenging Reflections on the Christian Life, one of the topics I addressed was the prevalence of Christian discouragement. I noted that God will often times bring His people to the absolute end of themselves for some divine purpose. In fact, consider the biblical figures Job and Jeremiah, known as the weeping prophet. There are at least two things these men had in common. First, both of them faced such depression that they considered death. This was unambiguously expressed in their regrets over being born (Job 3:11; Jer. 20:14). Also, despite their depression, both were in the center of God’s will. Incidentally, I wish I could say that I could not relate to their sentiments, but I can.

In my 20+ years as a follower of Christ, I have experienced more heartache, grief and sleepless nights in the last year than all others combined. As you can imagine, I have pondered the familiar ‘why’ question, only to be met at times with divine silence. Even as I write this, the suffering is not over; in some ways, it may simply be in the process of transitioning into the next phase.

Albeit I know the Lord is with me, sometimes life in the valley makes it hard to connect what is known in the mind with what is felt in the heart. While I anticipate the day that peace and relief will be my reality, I must admit that this journey has truly consisted of eye-opening experiences on several levels.

What about you? Are you currently living in the valley, not knowing what the outcome of a threatening situation will be? Has your passion for God subsequently waned, only to find yourself pleading to the Lord to restore the joy of your salvation (Psa. 51:12)? If so, you are certainly not alone. It is not uncommon for God’s servant to reach such a low point that he/she becomes tempted to throw in the towel.

Perhaps there are things for us to learn in the valley that cannot be learned elsewhere. Maybe God is after all more concerned with our holiness than our happiness; hence the suffering. It could be that the problems we face are in some ways designed to realign our focus on eternity, where there will be “no more pain” (Rev. 21:4). Whatever the reason for our suffering, our response to it should reflect the maturity expected of us and demonstrated by those who came before us (i.e. Job, Jeremiah, Jesus, etc.). If it does, we can rest assured that while we may be temporarily living in the valley, the Lord is right there beside us, comforting us along the way (Psa. 23:4).

What must we do in times like these?

1) Focus on Jesus. This is not a trite cliché, but rather, an appeal to the greatest solution in existence. If you have trusted the Lord for salvation, you can trust Him for your life’s direction. Surely, sometimes our deepest hurts channel the deepest awareness of God’s love and grace.

2) Connect with others. We are not meant to live in isolation. In fact, the numerous “one another” clauses in the New Testament establish the necessity of personal relationships. If you have not already done so, let someone into your life who has godly wisdom, sensitivity and a commitment to uphold and apply biblical teaching to your situation. We are called to “bear one another’s burdens” so allow some friends the blessing of honoring Christ in this way (Gal. 6:2).

3) Endure. Paul encouraged his young protégé Timothy to “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 2:3), and we must do the same. Certainly, this is easier said than done, but this is our only option. After all, quitting is not in the blood of the true believer. For instance, Joseph did not turn away from God when he was sold into slavery by his brothers, slandered by Potiphar’s wife, and spent several years in prison for a crime he did not commit (Gen 37, 39). To the contrary, we are told repeatedly that the Lord was with Joseph during his times of extreme, unmerited suffering (Gen. 39:2, 21, 23). Remember, our ultimate example is Jesus, who “endured the cross” as well as “endured…hostility from sinners” (Heb. 12:2-3). Just as our Leader endured intense suffering and pain, so too must we withstand the trials we face, for His spirit dwells within us (Rom. 8:9-11).

Thankfully, life in the valley does not last forever. Yes, the day is coming when suffering will be no more. Until then, let us consider two possible benefits of enduring our time of suffering: maybe it will produce more growth and maturity in our devotion to Christ; perhaps we will become better equipped to help others through their struggles. As I reflect on my own experience, these possible benefits are my desires. If they are indeed fulfilled, then my time living in the valley will not have been in vain.

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The Mark of a Biblical Pastor

I was recently listening to an audiobook discussing current trends in American churches. One of the topics addressed by the author was how men of God from previous generations have approached the task of leading God’s flock. In particular, the author spent much time commenting on the preaching of one of the most well-respected pastors of the 19th century: Charles Spurgeon.

Spurgeon is perhaps the most admired, quoted, and studied preacher in recent history. Why? He is regarded simply as a ‘great’ preacher of the word of God. Many of his sermons are available either online or in print. Moreover, he pastored the same church for several decades, preaching to thousands of people on a weekly basis.

Much more could be said about Charles Spurgeon, but is this the way to judge the efficacy of pastoral ministry (i.e. admirable sermons, widespread influence, etc.)? I want to argue that it is not; in fact, a biblical pastor’s effectiveness is not seen in what he produces, but what those under his influence accomplish.

The basis for this claim is found in Ephesians 4:11-12, where the apostle Paul states that pastors are given to the church to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. The ‘work’ of the Church is stated elsewhere as the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20), also referred to as the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-20). Based on these passages, it seems that pastors are here to equip the people of God to preach the gospel and make disciples. Is that what Charles Spurgeon is known for? Better yet, is that what your pastor is known for? If you are a pastor, is that what you are doing?

Consider the following analogy: suppose you spent thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours of your time attending college. When graduation time came, your parents wanted to know what degree you earned and what your career plans were. You informed them that you were not properly trained for any career but you enjoyed your college experience. What would they think? They would probably wonder, “How could you spend so much time (and money) pursuing higher education but never learn enough to get a decent job?” Also, what kind of university employs professors who fail to ‘equip’ their students with the knowledge and skills needed to fulfill their purpose? In the same way, why is it that church members can spend so many years receiving biblical ‘education’ but never learn how to make disciples? Maybe it is because the mandate issued in Ephesians 4:11-12 is not taken very seriously by the leadership.

The mark of a biblical pastor is that his people are being equipped to evangelize unbelievers and make disciples. In other words, the primary biblical fruit of pastoral ministry is best seen in what the people, not the pastor, are doing. If the vast majority of a congregation is not ever trained on how to both share and defend the gospel of Jesus Christ, something is terribly wrong with the leader’s priorities.

It is common knowledge that many pastors have a plethora of responsibilities. As such, they deserve support and encouragement. However, it is also important that the primary task of equipping their people for disciple-making is not neglected. After all, this is precisely what the apostle Paul encouraged young Timothy to do (2 Tim. 2:2).

To assess your church’s faithfulness to this mandate, consider the following diagnostic questions: are you better prepared to share the gospel with Muslims as a result of the preaching/leadership of your pastor? What about atheists, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, indifferent teenagers, etc? Are you able to teach someone the meaning of the scriptures because your pastor has taught you (directly or indirectly) how to? Are you ready to baptize a new believer if you were so petitioned, or would you have to rely on the pastor to do it because you are ill-equipped for the task? Speaking of Jehovah’s Witnesses, there is a reason why they are widely known for their outreach attempts. Their leaders impress upon them the urgency of the preaching work, and the leaders lead by example. Perhaps many pastors today can learn something from those who lead this cultic group.

Indeed, if we are going to recognize Spurgeon for his contributions to the cause of Christ, it should be because of the people who were equipped to make disciples through his ministry, not for his wonderful sermons. Again, pastors were not given to merely preach good messages (as important as that is) but to equip their people to pursue the Great Commission. Was that the focus of Spurgeon’s ministry? More importantly, can that be said about your pastor?

My purpose here is not to belittle the efforts of those in pastoral ministry. Rather, the goal is to challenge us to reevaluate the purpose of our church experiences. A biblical pastor is not one who merely does meaningful things for his congregants. Instead, a biblical pastor equips his people to carry out the mission Christ left for His Church. A church should not simply be known for all the pastor is doing; it should be recognized for what the congregation does. Is this happening in your church? If not, let’s pray that it will become a reality sooner rather than later.

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Does the Great Commission Include Outreach to Jehovah’s Witnesses?

For many Christians, the implied answer to this question is no. In fact, when it comes to JW outreach, there are at least two patterns that I have recognized in the Church. First, many believers in Christ have not concerned themselves with evangelizing JW’s. Surely enough, I have had several Christians tell me that they have become accustomed to circumventing potential discussions with JW’s by either not answering the door when they come to their home, or by brushing them off after they do open the door.

Second, many of our churches have never offered any training on how to effectively evangelize JW’s using the Bible. This was confirmed to me when I conducted a training session on this very topic at my local Youth for Christ office several months ago. Before I began the presentation, I asked the following question: “How many of you have had this topic covered in your church?” Out of the dozen or so attendees, only one hand went up in response. As you read this, ask yourself, “Has my church ever offered some form of training on biblical evangelism among JW’s?” I would not be surprised if the answer is no.

The fact is, JW’s are by-and-large sincere Bible students who have simply been misled. As proponents of the biblical gospel, it is our responsibility to bring light wherever there is darkness. As you may know, JW’s are in the dark with regards to biblical teaching, and we must love them enough to give of ourselves to see them turned from darkness to light. (see Acts 26:18)

Don’t avoid the Witnesses in your life. Rather, give of yourself to bring the same message to them that the apostles of the first-century took to those in their midst. In so doing, you can faithfully participate in the Great Commission.

*Taken from the book Conversations Worth Having: Insights from a Year’s Worth of Discussions with a Jehovah’s Witness (April 2014). See home page for more information.

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The Lost Priority

I was recently invited to give a presentation on an evangelistic topic at my local Youth for Christ office, and I was sure of what I wanted to teach. I had been preparing a series of classes I would soon be teaching on the subject of dialoguing with Jehovah’s Witnesses, so I decided to share my discussion points with this group albeit their focus is on reaching the youth. When I arrived at the office, I began the discussion with a thought-provoking question.

“How many of you have had this topic covered in your local church?” Almost no one raised their hand or responded with any affirmation. I was not surprised by this, since the priority of equipping the saints for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-12) has been tragically lost from many of our most respected congregations.

If you were to ask the average Christian what is the primary responsibility of the pastor, chances are they would say caring for the sheep, teaching the Bible, or meeting the needs of the congregation. Yet, when we look at Ephesians 4:11-12, we find a different answer. According to the apostle Paul, God has given pastors to the Church to equip them to further the cause of Christ. How does one further the cause of Christ? Evangelism. The ‘cause’ of Christ consists of what the Lord Jesus told His followers to do prior to His ascension to heaven. The Lord was essentially telling His disciples, “I am leaving you with the task of taking the gospel message to the ends of the earth. Don’t get sidetracked; give yourselves unreservedly to this great work until I return.” (Acts 1:8; 2 Tim. 2:4)

Jesus told His Church to take the gospel to the world, and Paul states that pastors are here to help train Christians to do it. The question is, “How seriously does the typical American pastor take this huge responsibility?” To answer this question, let’s revisit the question I asked at the Youth for Christ office. Has your church ever offered a class, seminar, conference, or series of sermons addressing how to effectively evangelize Jehovah’s Witnesses through the sharing of biblical truth? What about Muslims, atheists, Mormons, or Hindus? These people are everywhere, and if the Church is to reach them with the gospel, we must be prepared in advance. This is where your church comes in.

I am convinced that many well-meaning pastors have neglected their responsibility to equip their parishioners to share the gospel with the people they encounter. The groups listed above comprise a large segment of the American public, but if we are not able to dialogue with them in a biblical and gracious manner, it is most likely because the pastor has lost the priority to prepare the people of God to do the work of God. This is very unfortunate.

Even if your church has offered a one-time lesson on reaching different people groups, is one time enough? Judging from the context of Paul’s statements in Ephesians chapter 4, it seems as though our churches should be characterized by evangelism training as opposed to it being merely one among many of the pastor’s goals for the church.

This article was not intended to needlessly criticize our leaders. I respect any man who assumes the role of leading a flock of God, for this is one of the highest callings in the Church. Nevertheless, the need for the saints of God to be equipped is great, and according to the apostle Paul, pastors play a crucial role in preparing God’s people to do God’s work.

If you are a pastor, I encourage you to take this seriously if you have lost the priority of equipping your people for evangelistic service. If you are a church member, I pray that you will pursue greater evangelism training not just for yourself, but especially for those within your circle of influence who need the gospel of Christ.

Blessings to you as we serve our Lord together.

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Taking the Great Commission Seriously

In April 2013, Americans were shocked to learn of the horrific terrorist attack during the Boston Marathon. Several people lost their lives and over 100 people were injured. It appeared to be another senseless act of violence that had many in the Boston area seeking answers to serious questions.

When I learned of this great disaster, one of the first questions I asked myself was, “How many Christians in Boston shared the gospel with those young men?”

The implication is clear: if virtually no genuine, Christian witness ever reached them (which is a real possibility), it is fairly accurate to say that the evangelistic neglect indirectly contributed to this attack. How can I say that? The more personal evangelism was directed at the perpetrators, the more they would have been exposed to the gospel. The more they knew of the gospel, the greater the chances that they may have become followers of Christ. If they would have become followers of Christ, the marathon bombing would have been nonexistent.

I know the aforementioned solution sounds simplistic, but it is thoroughly biblical. Yes, Scripture makes it abundantly clear that not everyone who hears the gospel will respond positively to its demands (see Acts 13:46; 17:32). Nevertheless, we do not know who will and who will not receive Christ as Lord and Savior upon hearing the message of the cross.

Just because some will not embrace it does not mean that evangelism should be minimized. We cannot afford to underestimate the urgency of spreading the gospel when we know that countless people have been touched by its power. Who knows; maybe if the Christians in Boston were serious about evangelism (and I do not know if they are or not), the marathon tragedy may have been utterly prevented. Unfortunately, we will never know.

Most Christians are familiar with the Great Commission: Jesus’s statements in Matthew 28:19-20 wherein He commanded His followers to go and make disciples. But do we actually take this ‘command’ seriously? Are we as fervent as we should be in sharing the gospel with the people we encounter? We would agree that it is not enough to merely affirm our commitment to the Great Commission while simultaneously showing no evidence of evangelistic zeal. Regrettably, this has become the norm for many Christians.

We must examine our evangelistic tendencies and pray that God will help us to “…do the work of an evangelist…” (2 Tim. 4:5)

Adapted from the book Gospel Urgency! The Power and Necessity of Our Evangelism.

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Are Some Christians Too Consumed with the Presidential Election?

One Sunday, a pastor made the following point during his sermon: there are approximately 50% Democrats and 50% Republicans in his church. Why did he mention this? He wanted to prevent his congregation from degenerating into politically-divisive church members.

Sadly, many Christians across the nation do not take the same approach. For some, if a Christian is not a Republican, he/she is living in contradiction to the Bible. For others, to be a Republican is to favor the wealthy and undermine the help and support needed for lower-income citizens. Needless to say, Christians who take their political views too seriously can easily lead them to distance themselves from believers who disagree with them.

Is this what Christ envisioned for His Church? Should we define ourselves as either Democrat or Republican, and then avoid our brothers and sisters who align themselves with the other party? I believe the answer to these questions is an emphatic NO for the following reasons.

First, neither the Democratic nor the Republican Party is concerned about furthering the cause of Christ. They may be passionate about America, but they are not passionate about the gospel of Christ. Even if a candidate professes to adhere to Christian values, they are still hindered from promoting the gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the Great Commission for every Christian.

Second, just because a candidate is against abortion and same-sex marriage does not mean he/she would be the better choice to lead the nation with regards to the economy, our military, foreign policy, and other presidential responsibilities. For many Christians, they see it as their duty to vote for the pro-life candidate who also advocates traditional marriage. While these values are important, there is much more to being a qualified president than these two issues. Also, a candidate who focuses on helping the poor does not automatically qualify to serve as president. Both Parties subscribe to principles that in some ways are contrary to the Word of God. This is why neither Party should be defended by the conscientious Christian.

Lastly, and most important, Christians are to be more focused on the Great Commission than anything else. Let me illustrate: the best way to prevent abortions is not through having the right president, but through the proclamation of the gospel. After all, we had a pro-life president from 2001 to 2009 (and several others), yet abortion remains legal and rampant. Also, now that same-sex marriage is legal, is publicly opposing it going to lead more unbelieving homosexuals to Christ? Probably not. Why? The way from a homosexual to heterosexual lifestyle is through the gospel, not conservative legislation.

Simply put, our focus must be on evangelism, not politics. Remember the words of Paul, “The gospel is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom. 1:16). The power of God is manifested through sinful men and women responding to the gospel. As well-intentioned as many believers are, picketing abortion clinics, protesting gay marriage, or devoting ourselves to supporting pro-life candidates is not the answer.

My dear brother or sister, do not entangle yourself in political battles that cause division throughout the Church of Christ. We have something more important to focus on: the proclamation of the gospel. That message is not outdated, and the Great Commission has not changed. If Jesus Christ was walking the earth today, do you think He would be endorsing political candidates, picketing abortion clinics, or lobbying in Washington D.C. in defense of traditional marriage? Of course not. He would be doing what He did when He walked the earth some 2,000 years ago: preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God. Today, Christ is alive and well, and He is walking the earth in the Person of the Holy Spirit Who resides within us. Consequently, we should concern ourselves with what He told us to do. Yes, we want to see lives changed for the better, and both Jesus and Paul have revealed to us the greatest source of life-changing power: the gospel.

The next time you passionately discuss your political views, ask yourself if you are equally as passionate about discussing the gospel with those who need to hear it. Afterwards, think about which topic (i.e. politics or the gospel) occupies most of your discussion time. That will reveal where your focus truly is.

I leave you with the encouraging words of the apostle Paul:

“If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God” (Col. 3:1-3).

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What the Church Needs Now is Love

In 1965, Jackie DeShannon released a song entitled What the World Needs Now Is Love. In the midst of the social turmoil that erupted during the 1950’s and 1960’s, one can easily understand the basis for such a song during that era.

Deshannon emphasized the need for greater love in the world at-large, but her message also applies specifically to the Church of Christ. In a day when one’s doctrine and/or political views can either cause isolation or assimilation into a particular Christian culture, love appears to be lost in many evangelical settings.

In my latest book The Hardest Thing For Christians To Do, I strive to communicate the reality that believers should focus on treating one another the way Jesus told His disciples to (see John 13:34-35). According to Christ, it is not our conservative views or bashing of homosexuals that identify us as believers; it is our love for one another that marks the true Christian.

Below is an excerpt from the book:

“Why don’t we ever get excited to see our brothers and sisters when we all are constantly at war against the world, the flesh, and the devil? Shouldn’t we be more enthusiastic about fellowshipping with those who are on the same team as us, fighting for the same cause? We need to remind ourselves that we are all we have. The world does not care about us. In fact, most unbelievers repudiate the Church. This should not surprise us considering the warning Jesus gave to His disciples:

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” (John 15:18-19)

We are on the same team, following the same Lord, promoting the same gospel message. In light of this truth, there should be a clear and distinct difference between how Christians behave towards one another. Sadly, that distinction is many times either blurred or non-existent. This I know to be true.”

As you contemplate this passage, ask yourself how you measure up to the command of Christ to love your brothers and sisters in the Lord as Christ loves us.

God Bless You.

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I Have a Dream for the Black Church

The Black Church in America is perhaps the most victorious institution in the African American community. Yet, when it is compared with sacred scripture, we find that the Black Church is falling short in very significant areas. This book not only highlights where members of the Church have strayed from the truths of scripture, but also offers a message of hope for those who are willing to embrace the need for biblical reformation.

The material below is adapted from the book Standing True to Our God? A Young, Evangelical’s Perspective on Reformation in the Black Church.

“There are those who are asking the devotees of biblical reformation, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as preachers within the Black Church are disseminators of the unspeakable doctrines of the prosperity gospel. We can never be satisfied as long as our minds, heavy with the skeptic’s criticisms of the Bible, are not being taught how to defend what we believe. We cannot be satisfied as long as black churches emphasize the importance of tithes and offerings more than evangelism and apologetics. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are merely taught Bible stories and given shallow answers to their serious questions. We cannot be satisfied as long as black church members in Mississippi cannot explain the gospel and black church members in New York have not even heard the true gospel. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until the Black Church undergoes a radical, nationwide, biblical reformation of the highest order.”

“I have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the New Testament dream.

I have a dream that one day the Black Church will rise up and live out the true meaning of its anthem: “Shadowed beneath thy hand may we forever stand, true to our God…”

I have a dream that one day on the pews of A.M.E. churches, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will sit down together in the church as brothers.

I have a dream that one day even the A.M.E. denomination, a denomination sweltering with the heat of its heritage, sweltering with the heat of tradition, will drop its racially identifiable name because of its love for the brethren.

I have a dream that my niece and nephews will one day visit a black church where they will not be taught about their African heritage but will be taught the transforming truths of sacred scripture.

I have a dream today!

I have a dream that one day, over in New York, with its liberal seminary, with its professors having their lips dripping with the words of ‘the social gospel’ and ‘Black Theology’ — one day right there in New York liberal black pastors and theologians will embrace true biblical teaching and join hands with evangelical pastors and theologians as followers of Christ.

I have a dream today!”

For more information, and to see the video presentation of ‘I Have a Dream for the Black Church’ visit the home page of

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