3 Ways to Overcome Financial Temptation

Sex and Money

I’ve been an off-and-on shopaholic over the years, so resisting a tempting purchase often feels like a feat in itself. A big sale at my favorite store? I’d better stock up on anything my size. Coworkers visiting the tasty food truck for lunch? That packed lunch can wait until tomorrow. Picking up a new hobby? Obviously, I need the best supplies and equipment available. And don’t get me started on reward programs—“Just spend 25 more dollars” . . . so I can cash in on a $10 prize? Can’t miss that opportunity!

A couple months ago, I reviewed last year’s expenditures and realized how much money I could have saved had I redirected some of my financial savviness (when I do shop, it normally is a big sale) and developed some discipline in what I buy. These three tips have been crucial in improving my spending and saving habits:

1. Predetermine how each paycheck is allotted

Before each payday, write out where the money will go. Fixed expenses come first, savings second, then consider upcoming expenses for which you need to start saving. For example, a friend is coming to visit me soon, so knowing that I’ll be spending more money than usual on gas and restaurants, I started setting aside a small amount of each paycheck the past two months. The same idea works for things like haircuts, birthday and wedding presents, and plane tickets for the holidays. It’s much easier on your budget to save small amounts over time than be hit with a big expense at once.

Plus, this step has helped me realize how often I spend money at the spur of the moment—it already seems strange (and a wave of irresponsibility hits me) if I make an unforeseen purchase.

2. Use cash to do in-person purchases

Take out cash with each paycheck to pay for anything that doesn’t require a credit card. Groceries, movie tickets, eating out, miscellaneous household items—all should be paid in cash. And when it’s gone, it’s gone. This step gives you freedom in what you choose to do for fun with your money, but also forces you to be disciplined and prioritize what you value most in your purchases. It’s much more difficult to spend $20 cash than charge $20 on a credit card.

3. Open a goal savings account

No matter what stage of life you’re in, there’s always something “big” to plan for: tuition, a car, a home, retirement—it can quickly become overwhelming! That’s why having a goal savings account is key in making those expenses not quite as daunting. Keeping your savings separate from your regular checking account is a simple way to start growing funds for large purchases since the temptation to use the money for other items is removed. Plus, it’s rewarding to see how quickly your fund can grow when it’s left untouched!

The world throws a lot of temptations at Christians—whether they’re financial temptations or something else, the common thread is desiring excess. Financial success, sex, leisure—they can all be good things when following God’s commands, but can spiral out of control when pursued with the wrong intentions. Learn more about overcoming temptations with these helpful books:

 

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Just Announced: Get up to 70% Off with Vyrso’s Money Makeover Bundles!

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Now’s the time to get your finances in order, create a budget that works, and start planning for the future. We’ve set aside the next three weeks to help you revamp your finances. Through March 21, we’re offering 24-hour book bundles packed with powerful and biblically sound money advice from some of today’s top financial experts. We’ll be featuring hand-picked bundles for dads, missions workers, financially savvy women, and more!

We’ll also be featuring exclusive interviews and guest posts from some of your favorite financial experts, like Mary Hunt and Dani Johnson. Stay tuned to Vyrso Voice to get the financial advice you need—and the deals that will help you start saving today.

Day 1: Get 64% off the Master Your Finances Bundle

Regularly $55.96—get it for $19.99

We’re kick-starting our Money Makeover with a bang: today only, get 64% off four books with our Master Your Finances Bundle!

Learn to save and balance your budget so you’re prepared for anything—even times of economic uncertainty and crisis. Apply the seven money rules of life from bestselling author, Mary Hunt, discover the five attitudes that can keep you from debt and financial stress, and more!

You’ll get:

7 Money Rules for Life: How to Take Control of Your Financial Future by Mary Hunt

This encouraging, no-nonsense book gives you the keys you need to get your money under control and become financially prepared for the rest of your life. With her warm and engaging style, Hunt takes everything she’s learned over the past 20 years and boils it all down. Presented in a conversational style, this book offers applications for each of the seven rules, as well as practical advice for how to recover from past financial mistakes.

Cheaper, Better, Faster: Over 2,000 Tips and Tricks to Save You Time and Money Every Day by Mary Hunt

This book is packed with advice about how to do things cheaper, better, and faster. Learn how to remove hairspray baked onto a curling iron, how to make white shoes look new, how to make gourmet coffee without the gourmet price, and hundreds of other practical tips.

Pocket Your Dollars by Carrie Rocha

In this book, popular finance blogger Carrie Rocha argues that the key to financial stability and success isn’t about money—it’s about attitudes. Rocha uses the lessons she learned overcoming personal debt to teach readers how to triumph over the lies we tell ourselves, like “I deserve a treat,” “Fake it ’til you make it,” and “I can’t afford it.” Each chapter uses real-life examples to explain faulty thinking about money, followed by step-by-step instructions for overcoming these pitfalls.

Couponing for the Rest of Us: The Not-So-Extreme Guide to Saving More by Kasey Knight Trenum

This book is a gold mine for learning to save money and time. Discover where to find coupons for what your family eats, how to make the Internet do the work for you, how to reinvent your shopping strategy, and much more.

Get all four books for just $19.99! But don’t wait—this deal disappears tomorrow, March 4, at 10:59 a.m. (EST). Get the Master Your Finances Bundle today!

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Check back tomorrow for the next Money Makeover deal!

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40 Days to the Cross: Celebrating Lent with the Great Church Thinkers

40 Days to the Cross

Today’s guest post is by Jessi Strong, coeditor of the new book 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers, which for a limited time, you can get for 25% off! Strong is also the senior writer for Bible Study Magazine, and has also developed content for the Faithlife Study Bible and Lexham Bible Dictionary.

I grew up in a large, loving, nondenominational church that didn’t  celebrate Lent or the liturgical calendar. I knew that Lent involved giving up something: my family’s cranky next-door neighbor became even crankier those weeks before Easter when his wife enforced his cigarette fast. But it wasn’t until I started attending chapel my freshman year at an Evangelical Free university that I experienced congregational readings, Advent Sundays, and Lent. My parents’ generation considered these traditions “tired,” but they breathed new life into my understanding of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

While we’re called to meditate on Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, the 40 days of Lent prompt us to a season of confession, repentance, and renewal. This 40-day period echoes the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and praying in the wilderness at the beginning of his ministry. It allows us to focus our attention on Christ and his suffering, and prepares us for the celebration of his resurrection—the very center of our faith.

Many nontraditional churches now adapt Lent traditions for their own congregations. Mine does a 40-day group fast, asking church members to sign up to fast for a single day over the period of Lent. Some go on social-media fasts in an effort to break away from the distractions of modern technology. Others restrict their diet in some way. The idea isn’t that God will be pleased with our fasting, but that we’ll recognize that our lives are full—so full that we may not notice the void that only Christ can fill.

Reflections from great thinkers

Lent is a season of confession, repentance, and renewal. For me, an important part of Lent is reading through one of the Gospels—reflecting on Jesus’ journey toward the cross, his revelations of divinity, and my need for a savior. In 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers we’ve paired readings from the Gospel of Mark with reflections from some of the most important thinkers in church history. During the 40 days of Lent, you’ll reflect on Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection with confessions from the Psalms, readings from the Gospel of Mark, and reflections from great thinkers. Response questions will help you focus your devotional time. We hope this book helps guide your study as you reflect on Christ’s work during the season of Lent.

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Through March 5, get 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers for just $8.99—that’s 25% off! Get your copy today! 

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Preaching like Tozer: 3 Ways He Broke the Mold

My Daily Devotions

Today’s guest post is by Dr. James L. Snyder, author and curator of My Daily Pursuit—a new collection of previously unpublished Tozer content that offers inspirational devotions for every day. Dr. Snyder is an award-winning author who has written or edited 27 books and whose work has appeared in more than 80 periodicals. Dr. Snyder’s first book about the life of Tozer won the 1992 Reader’s Choice Award by Christianity Today. Get My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day on Vyrso for just $10.19!

Whenever someone asked my uncle what pie he liked best, he always responded with whatever pie he was eating at the time. I feel the same about Tozer’s work. When anybody asks me which Tozer book I like best, I always respond with the one I’m  working on at the time. Unlike works by any other writer I know, there’s something about a Tozer sermon or book that speaks straight to the heart.

People who know A. W. Tozer know him as a conference speaker, writer, and editor. At his heart, however, he was a true pastor. His best preaching was in his church, either Chicago or Toronto, and he truly had a pastor’s heart.

Here are three aspects of Tozer’s preaching that made him one of the greats:

1. He thought through everything

Even as a young man, Tozer was well read. Although he never finished high school, let alone college, he was well acquainted with theological books. It would be safe to say that he far exceeded the number of books the average college and seminary graduate ever read.

His boys, who were going to college at the time, always tried to spring a new book on their father. Some new book or author that he was not acquainted with, but they never were able to do it; he seemed to know every writer and every book that had any kind of significance.

Not only was Dr. Tozer well read, he also  thoroughly considered what he was going to say or write about. He was never superficial in his preaching or writing, making him completely unique from his contemporaries. He bypassed the passing trends and fancies touted in Christian circles of his day and focused on the everlasting truth that never changes from one generation to the next.

As you listen to him preach or read some of his essays, you come away with the idea that he was very concentrated in his thinking. He  thought through what he wanted to say to the point of absolute truth. He did not just spout off to spout off; he was a thinker who poured through doctrine and theology.

2. He always put Christ first

He often said that if you read the Bible, but haven’t truly encountered Jesus Christ, you haven’t  really read the Bible. I think the same is true for Tozer’s preaching and writing. If you listen to him or read from his books and you don’t really encounter Christ, you’re  not really reading or listening. The whole focus of his preaching and writing was Christ.

His preaching was not technical in any sense of the word. He wanted to convey not mere information, but the presence of God. Before he would step on to the pulpit, he would pray this prayer: “O God, when I preach, make Thyself so present that the people will know You are present.” Only those attending his services would understand how God marvelously answered that prayer.

You couldn’t  help but feel the presence of God as Dr. Tozer  preached. One listener said, “Tozer out-Davided David.” It was his way of saying that there was an anointing on Dr. Tozer’s preaching that hungry souls could feel.

3. He was passionate

Some people might think that Dr. Tozer was a traditionalist, but he vehemently denied that. A traditionalist, according to him, was somebody who did something because they did it before—they had no thoughts or appreciation of what they were doing, they just went  through the motions. Tozer was anything but that.

Tozer always had something good to say to the heart hungry for God. Those looking for something to puff themselves up with never found anything in Dr. Tozer’s ministry. His preaching went to the heart of the person who was “panting after God.”

Everybody knows that preaching is quite different from writing. My challenge in this Tozer collection was to bridge the gap between his preaching and his writing. This is not always easy to do, so I set myself up on a special discipline to be true to Tozer’s voice.

Every day I would listen to an audio sermon of Dr. Tozer, then read a chapter from one of his books, the three primary ones being: The Pursuit of God, The Divine Conquest, and The Knowledge of the Holy. This really helped me wrap my head around the voice of Tozer.

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Draw closer to the Holy Spirit as you’re guided by one of the twentieth century’s most prolific and inspiring theologians: get A. W. Tozer’s devotional, My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day, on Vyrso!

 

 

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Get 11 Josh McDowell Books under $1 Each

Empowered

Author and apologist Josh McDowell is a trailblazer for truth and relationships. He has five decades of ministry fastened tightly under his belt, yet he’s still engaging people of every culture and demographic. McDowell is passionate about sharing the essentials of the Christian faith—in fact, since the beginning of his ministry, he’s reached over 25,000,000 people and authored or coauthored 140 books, selling 40 million copies. For a limited time, get huge savings on 11 of McDowell’s Unshakeable Truth titles.

Deals like this are rare and don’t last long, so don’t wait—get these titles today!

11 must-have Josh McDowell titles for 99¢

Get 11 books from the powerful series The Unshakeable Truth Journey. These courses offer an orthodox, hard-hitting, and relevant guide that’s uniquely positioned to highlight how Christian beliefs affect relationships. These courses are perfect for both churches and small groups. Each guide is founded on core truths of the Christian faith. See what it looks like to live out your faith with the central truths presented in these 11 books.

Community—Experience Jesus Alive in His People

Unravel the mystery about Christ’s body—the church—and the Christian’s mission in life by considering the truths that form the foundation of genuine community. This book will help you create long-term change and transformation in your life.

Empowered—Experience Living in the Power of the Spirit

McDowell analyzes how the relationships between the persons of the Trinity should reflect our personal relationships. See the truth of relationships in the way God defines them, then apply this truth to your life.

Perspective—Experience the World through God’s Eyes

Discover how God’s kingdom reveals a new perspective—a biblical worldview. McDowell explains how you can witness the kingdom here and now. Grasp this new perspective and its effect on your worldview in this revealing book.

Restored—Experience the Joy of Your Eternal Destiny

This book provides a foundational understanding of what you believe, why you believe it, and how it’s relevant today. Explore the return of Christ to better understand your destiny in life, and gain an eternal perspective on life and death.

Check out the rest of Josh McDowell’s books on sale for 99¢:

Take advantage of this limited-time offer today: get each of these books for just 99¢!

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An Intimate Look at the Life of A. W. Tozer: Passionate Worship

My Daily Devotions

Today’s guest post is by Dr. James L. Snyder, author and curator of My Daily Pursuit—a new collection of previously unpublished A. W. Tozer content that offers inspirational devotions for every day. Dr. Snyder is an award-winning author who has written or edited 27 books, and whose work has appeared in more than 80 periodicals. Dr. Snyder’s first book about the life of Tozer won the 1992 Reader’s Choice Award by Christianity Today. Get My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day for just $10.19!

A. W. Tozer’s number-one passion was God. It was never a matter of convenience with him, but a disciplined life of joyful sacrifice. He would rather spend time alone with God than anyone else. Of course many, including his friends, misunderstood this.

Tozer’s time alone with God was not merely intellectual or some religious exercise to finish so he could move on with his day—it was a personal encounter with God in adoration and worship. Often he would lie prostrate on the floor in silent worship giving God the opportunity to speak. And he was never disappointed.

His daily worship was not routine. In fact, it was anything but routine. He regarded worship as an eagerly anticipated encounter with God. God never disappointed him on this level. His was a daily pursuit that yielded much fruit throughout his life.

 A love of the mystics

Tozer’s main desire was to know God as fully as God desired him. The more he knew God, the more he wanted to know God. It was the passion of his life right up until his death in 1963.

Tozer’s passion for God was fueled by the books he read. He was a voracious reader and included a wide variety of subjects in his reading. In his younger days, he read much on psychology. As he grew older and his hunger for God increased, the books that drew him were the classical devotional writers, referred to as mystics. Tozer was reading these mystics and their works before the average evangelical Christian ever heard the term.

He often said, “These people know God and I want to know what they know about God.” He took off in his pursuit of God with these mentors by his side. He did not agree with everything they wrote—in fact, he never agreed with everything anybody said or wrote. Instead, his focus was on an authentic knowledge of and experience with God. These mystics seemed to understand that aspect of Christianity and helped Tozer come to grips with it in his own life.

Most of the mystics he was drawn to avoided the technical aspects of religion and majored on the essential or the inner aspects of the Christian life. Tozer appreciated that. They were more interested in knowing God personally and not just knowing about God.

Heavily sprinkled throughout his preaching and writing were these mystic friends. One of his favorite mystic writers was Lady Julian, who he often referred to as his girlfriend. He said, “I do not think I can get into trouble calling her my girlfriend since she has been dead for over 500 years.” He loved her spirit and her interpretation of life in God. Her book The Revelations of Divine Love was regularly quoted throughout his ministry.

Rejoicing in the hymns

Another one of Tozer’s passions in his worship was hymns. His hymnbook was second only to his Bible. Once in a sermon, he commented, “If you would spend a year reading the hymns of Wesley, Watts, and Newton, you would learn more theology than if you would spend three years in seminary.” Those men set Bible doctrine and theology to music the church has been singing for hundreds of years.

It would be difficult to find any sermon of Tozer’s where he did not quote from some hymn. He seemed to have these hymns on the tip of his tongue. He quoted them in such a way that you knew he loved them. It was not just poetry to him—it was the music of worship and adoration. I think it’s  safe to say Tozer received his theological training from his Dutch Reformed hymnal that was always by his side.

According to Tozer’s thinking, hymnology represented the true essence of theology. With him, theology began and ended with God. It is putting the infinite attributes of God in the heart of the believer where they belong. Theology that does not inspire worship was not biblical theology in his mind. For the technical theologian, Tozer had little patience and less to say. It was the heart aflame for God that Tozer was interested in.

Make worship a daily pursuit

In putting together My Daily Pursuit, I wanted to combine all these elements in tribute to Tozer and his passion for worship. The style I strove for was conversational Tozer—just as though Tozer was sitting across the table drinking coffee and sharing his heart. These are not excerpts from his published works. Rather, these are pieces collected from his audio sermons. I wanted the feel in reading this devotional to be a personal, intimate chat with Tozer.

Each devotional starts with Scripture. It’s  important, from Tozer’s point of view, that the Bible be preeminent in all we do. We are not to begin with the Bible and then push it aside and go on with our day. Everything starts with the Bible and everything ends with a prayer unto the God who inspired the Bible.

My Daily Pursuit will introduce people to Dr. Tozer. More than that, it will introduce people to a passion of worship that they’ve probably never experienced before. These devotionals are not to be read through quickly, but rather to be meditated on and prayed through to allow the Holy Spirit to really minister to the heart.

I trust this book will lead many sincere Christians into the very heart of God.

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Discover the power of daily worship and the authenticity of Tozer’s words: get My Daily Pursuit: Devotions for Every Day on Vyrso.

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Movers and Shakers: February’s Top 5 New Books

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1. The Truest Thing about You: Identity, Desire, and Why It All Matters by David Lomas

After coming to Christ after years of drinking and drug dealing, David Lomas, named one of Vyrso’s top authors to watch in 2014, is now a lead pastor in one of the most unchurched cities in America: San Francisco. His congregation is also located near the Castro District, considered the largest homosexual neighborhood in America. With a forward by Francis Chan, Lomas’ first book is all about finding identity in Christ.

Here’s a short excerpt from the first chapter:

“There are many true things about you. You may be a student. You may be a mom. You may love someone of the opposite sex or the same sex. You may make music or lattes. Life may be incredibly difficult, or you may feel like you’re living the dream.

These things may be true—but are they the truest?”

Lomas argues that we’re operating under labels or experiences like pain, failure, or body image instead of our true identities given by Jesus.

Download Lomas’ first book for just $9.74!

2. The Storm Inside: Trade the Chaos of How You Feel for the Truth of Who You Are by Sheila Walsh

Whether you’ve just survived a traumatic life event, are in the belly of the storm right now, or want to prepare yourself for when crisis hits, Sheila Walsh—an active blogger, speaker, and bestselling author, with more than four million books sold—has written her latest book to help you navigate the storms of life and come out stronger in the end. Filled with biblical insights along with personal anecdotes, The Storm Inside, although just released a few weeks ago, is already receiving a lot of hype. It could be all the publicity being done for it—like a Women of Faith web series with pastor Judah Smith—or it could just be that this book offers a unique and sobering look at finding joy amongst life’s disappointments. You decide: get The Storm Inside on Vyrso today.

3. Loveology: God. Love. Marriage. Sex. And the Never-Ending Story of Male and Female by John Mark Comer

In this new book, John Mark Comer, pastor of Portland’s Bridgetown—A Jesus Church, maps out a theology of love, or “loveology.” Breaking down each topic into its own chapter—including marriage, love, sex, romance, dating, and gender roles, each topic also includes straightforward Q&As, like how to ask a girl on a date, or how to think about homosexuality.

Here’s what Bob Goff, bestselling author of Love Does, said about Comer’s latest book: “John Mark Comer is a friend of mine who doesn’t just talk about love; he’s been living it. This is the kind of book you’ll want to pick up to read, but then you’ll want to put it down and go do things. Big things. Things that point you and others toward a big God who has in mind big love for the world.”

4. Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim’s Journey to Christ by Nabeel Qureshi

Nabeel Qureshi has an impressive résumé: he’s a medical doctor with two master’s degrees in religious studies, and he’s the newest member of the apologetics team at the highly regarded Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. On top of that, his first book documents his emotional journey from Islam to Christianity.

Qureshi provides a powerful argument for Christianity over Islam, emphasizing love and relationships. He aims to break down the barriers between Christian and Muslim communication and offers insights into the Muslim worldview. This book offers both a personal account and scholarly research—it serves as both a compelling story and an apologetic resource. Get Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus for just $10.99.

5. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life by Crystal Paine

OK, so technically this book hit shelves at the end of last month, but since we couldn’t slip it into January’s list, we’re adding it now. Why is it so important we mention this title? Because new author Crystal Paine addresses an issue that her massive online audience craves answers to: how can busy moms and wives start enjoying life instead of just surviving it?

Paine is the founder of the widely popular blog MoneySavingMom.com, which gets about 1.5 million visitors each month. Her latest book offers practical tips for stressing less, getting energized, setting goals, and finding the confidence to pursue your passion. Get Paine’s hit book on Vyrso today!

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Stay tuned to all the latest titles, free books, and up-and-coming Christian authors: subscribe to Vyrso Voice today!

 

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Frank Viola on Today’s “Shallow Faith” and the Real Meaning of Church

Frank Viola

Today’s interview is with Frank Viola, an author, speaker, and avid blogger at FrankViola.org, which has about 80,000 monthly readers. Viola has helped thousands of people around the world deepen their relationship with Jesus Christ and enter into a more vibrant and authentic experience of church. He has written many books on these themes, including Jesus Manifesto, Pagan Christianity, and Jesus: A Theography.

1. You’ve said one of your goals is to help set Christians free from “the overall shallowness of the Christian faith today,”—that’s a pretty gutsy statement. What led you to this position?

When I was in my early 20s, I had been part of 13 different denominations, several different Christian movements, and many different parachurch organizations. They all helped me for a time, but I quickly moved on because I knew deep down inside that there had to be more—more to the Christian faith, to Jesus Christ, and to the church than what I was seeing and experiencing.

That led me on an odyssey to really know Jesus and to experience what the church was and meant to the early Christians.

I can tell you today—some 20 years later—that Jesus Christ is beyond what most of us have ever imagined. He’s more exciting, more amazing, and more electrifying than what most preachers have told us.

And so is his bride, the ekklesia, when she functions the way God made her to function.

When I say things like that, some people don’t know what I’m talking about. So I encourage them to listen to a talk I gave at a conference a few years ago called “Epic Jesus: The Christ You Never Knew.” I receive emails from Christians in their 20s regularly telling me that this talk brought them to their knees (and to tears). It’s been a game-changer for many.

I am humbled by such comments because what I say in that message is what changed my own life as a young man:

1. “Jesus Christ is ALL, everything else is commentary.”

2. “Everything wears out except for Jesus Christ.”

If you’ve been captured by the sight of Peerless Worth, you’ll understand and resonate with those two statements.

2. What does “church” mean to you?

I prefer to use “church” the way that the New Testament authors understood it, rather than how it’s been molded and shaped in our day.

For the New Testament authors, “church,” which is a poor translation of the Greek word “ekklesia,” was simply a local group of people who gathered together regularly. That local group shared their lives together, laid their lives down for one another, and loved each other in uncommon ways.

Specifically, “church” is a community of Jesus followers who are learning to live by the life of Christ (which indwelt them) together and who were expressing that life visibly to others.

It is for this reason that the “church” in the first century was one of the most exciting things on the planet. And it shook the Roman Empire to its foundations.

The beautiful thing is that what I’m describing here isn’t armchair philosophy or bloodless theory. For the last 25 years, I’ve had the privilege of living in and planting these kinds of New Testament–styled communities, and it’s been beyond amazing for me and for the people who were and are involved.

3. How does the modern conception of “church” compare to biblical principles?

I believe it compares poorly, and that’s one reason why one million Christians leave the institutional form of church every year in America and why 1,500 to 2,000 pastors leave the clergy system each month.

In our book Pagan Christianity, George Barna and I explained how the free-wheeling, Christ-saturated, life-giving, face-to-face, community-driven, every-member-functioning, barn-burning, caring-for-one-another, first-century church devolved into a predictable “show” led by a pastor and a worship team for two hours every Sunday morning where God’s people are mostly passive spectators and hardly anyone in the congregations knows one another.

This isn’t the case for some institutional churches, but it’s commonplace for many—if not most—of them.

That’s not to say that attending a Sunday-morning church service is wrong or bad. It’s just not what the New Testament means by “church.”

I often tell people, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been in a New Testament–styled, open-participatory church meeting that’s led by Jesus Christ through his every-member functioning body.” When I experienced such a meeting for the first time at age 23, it blew my circuitry and wrecked me for life.

4. What do you believe today’s evangelical culture needs to work on most?

There are two things:

1. Many Christians who are in their 20s and 30s agonize over figuring out God’s will for their lives. I’ve experienced this agony myself when I was in my teens and 20s, and it was because of wrong teaching. I was taught, like many people today, that finding God’s will for my life is like a train track. But I discovered that idea is wrong. It’s more like a parking lot.

I’ve written a free ebook about it called Rethinking the Will of God. I’m thankful that this ebook has set many Christians free.

2. Christians loving one another, not in pious rhetoric, but in reality. To love someone, according to Jesus, has nothing to do with feelings. It’s treating other people the same way we want to be treated in every circumstance (compare Matt. 22:39–40 with Matt. 7:12).

Consequently, if I love you, I won’t gossip about you, I won’t ascribe evil motives to your heart, I won’t cast aspersions upon you, I will think the best of you, and I won’t entertain slander against you. And if I have an issue with you or a concern about you, I will go directly to you . . . because that’s how I’d want to be treated by you.

We live in a day where Christians are slashing one another’s throats online and in person even, and it kills the testimony of Jesus.

5. If we’ve been subjected to a “shallow faith” through today’s church, how can we ever be sure we’re following and worshiping Christ appropriately?

I believe it will have these marks to it:

1. It will be in harmony with the Scriptures. It won’t follow tradition or what’s “popular,” but it will stay true to the radical nature of the New Testament.

2. It will not contradict the historic statements about Jesus in the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.

3. People will detect the scent of Christ on your life. There will be life, his life, displayed in some measure. Namely, you will find yourself treating others the same way you want to be treated in every situation.

6. When it comes to studying your Bible, what books or resources do you find yourself using most?

Some of my favorites are:

7. Do you have any new books or projects we should look out for?

Yes, my discipleship course “Learning to Live by the Indwelling of Christ” opens March 1 for two weeks. You can check it out and join the waiting list here.

I also have two books coming out. One is about five people in the Gospels who will tell the story of how they met Jesus. It’s going to be a moving book. I also have another one that comes out next year which discusses what Jesus is doing now . . . between his ascension and his second coming. You can keep up with my library here.

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Learn more from provocative blogger Frank Viola—download his books on Vyrso today:

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Clayton Kershaw Exclusive: How to Follow Your Dreams and Embrace Your Faith

Clayton Kershaw

Today’s guest post is by Clayton Kershaw, considered one of the best pitchers in Major League Baseball today. Kershaw made his major-league debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2008 at just 20 years old, making him the youngest baseball player in the major leagues. In 2011, he won the National League Pitching Triple Crown, the Warren Spahn Award for best left-handed pitcher, and the Player’s Choice Award for Most Outstanding National League Pitcher, and he has won the National League CY Young Award twice. On top of his baseball career, Kershaw won the Roberto Clemente Award in 2012 for his humanitarian work, particularly for his and his wife’s commitment to Arise Africa.

Kershaw and his wife, Ellen, coauthored Arise: Live Out Your Faith and Dreams on Whatever Field You Find Yourself to share what they’ve learned about making a difference in the world while living out your God-given dreams.

Some dreams come and go as we age and mature. And then there are the dreams we’re born with. These dreams are buried so deep within us that we can spend a lifetime chasing them. They’re part of the fabric of our hearts—and they can’t be ignored. They must be pursued.

The gift of childhood is that we’re young enough to believe anything is possible. Our dreams are big, yet our confidence that they’re attainable is unshakeable. When I was just a young student in a leadership class, my teacher asked the class about their dreams and aspirations. Without hesitation, I said my dream was to be a professional baseball player. Interrupting a class of snickering and laughs, the teacher responded that such an ambition was lofty and would only happen if I was “one in a million.” So, starting that moment, I decided to be exactly that: one in a million.

Sitting in a nearby chair, a young girl named Ellen quietly toiled with the early dream of going to Africa. Little did she know how her life would change because of that one slowly brewing dream. It would take years to develop and required a strong sense of the Lord’s leadership and submission to his will, but that dream would eventually lead her hundreds of miles away from home to Africa . . . to a girl named Hope.

Years later—after graduations and a Major League Baseball draft—I married Ellen, my high-school sweetheart, and we found  ourselves in the middle of a story that began with two childhood dreams. Arise: Live Out Your Faith and Dreams on Whatever Field You Find Yourself traces the story of two individuals who dared to believe that their dreams were opportunities to embrace their faith and take a leap. It presents a tapestry of stories from the hallways of middle school to the pitching mound in the Major Leagues to the dirt streets of Africa. Though our story is unique, mine and Ellen’s path is an invitation for readers to believe that their dreams are worth listening to and pursuing.

Sometimes the most extraordinary things in our lives begin as ordinary dreams. Arise plays out the story of two people who let their dreams become the catalyst for a faith-centered adventure.

No two lives play out the same way. We have each been created for a specific purpose. Listen to those dreams. Dare to believe they’re worth it. And then chase them—knowing that there’s joy in the journey and delight in finding yourself exactly where you’re meant to be.

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Learn to pursue your passion, while living out God’s will for your life: download Arise: Live Out Your Faith and Dreams on Whatever Field You Find Yourself by Clayton and Ellen Kershaw for just $10.79! 

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Become a Faithful Woman of God: Get 12 Books under $2!

One minute prayers for women

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