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Trending Topics | August

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Last Sunday, I had the privilege to preach on the Doctrine of Ecclesiology- the study of the church. Below are a few great blog post I have read in the last couple of weeks as I have been studying this topic. I hope they continue to grow your love for Christ’s church.  

Churchless Christians? 

It is important for Christians to be members of a local church because the New Testament apostles can't conceive of anything called a Christian that's not connected to Christ's body. Sometimes people spiritualize that reality and only talk about the universal church, but everywhere the idea of the universal church appears in the New Testament, there's a connection to a visible, local church. Keep reading...


Doesn’t teaching doctrine kill a church?

A new study just unearthed a remarkable finding: conservative doctrine grows churches.

This isn’t necessarily what we’ve heard in recent years. Whether it’s the music, the attractive facility, or the feeling of community, we need something to keep the church growing—something besides biblical teaching. How surprising, then, that David Millard Haskell, Kevin N. Flatt, and Stephanie Burgoyne have found that doctrine grows churches. In their peer-reviewed scholarly article for the Review of Religious Research, a prestigious journal, the trio present findings among mainstream Canadian churches showing that—contra the stereotypes—doctrinally conservative churches that reach out aggressively often grow. Churches that soften biblical teachings and de-emphasize evangelism often shrink.

What might these findings mean for the future of evangelicalism? Here are four quick takeaways. Keep reading...


Every Christian needs the church

When you become a disciple of Jesus, you are not the only disciple in this world. There are others whom Jesus has also called, and we all belong to one another. Christianity is not a religion for those who would like to walk alone. We may need to make an individual decision to believe the gospel, but once we do, it is no longer “I who live but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 3:20). Christ has a visible body, and he calls it his “church.”

Christians were never meant to live apart from other Christians—we were made to be part of the same community. Here are several reasons why every Christian needs the local church. Keep reading...

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Trending Topics | July

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Don’t Waste Your Life.

Seven Minutes That Moved a Generation

I was 18 years old, had just finished high school and vaguely knew the name John Piper, but somehow this sermon found its way to me. Still to this day, this is one of the most powerful sermons I have ever heard. Pastor John Piper is just a man, but for some reason God has chosen to use him to speak to my generation about the authority of scripture, the sovereignty of God and the beauty there is in living your life for God and for no other reason. I am so grateful for great preachers and the internet which allows us to be encouraged and challenged by men far away.

20 Ideas for Dating Your Wife

I think its safe to say that 100% of marriages are hard work. If you disagree with that statement, please take me out for coffee and teach me your tips and tricks. I know better than to think that difficult marriages is a new trend, but it sure feels like things are rough right now in the Christian marriage world. Men, we must fight for our marriages instead of just venting about our marriages. This blog post was very encouraging to me.

4 Books That Made a Priest Leave the Church

This blog post title is definitely click bait-y, and I definitely took the bait, but I'm so glad I did. I love Martin Luther. I love reading about his life, reading what he wrote and studying the impact he made. So, when I clicked on this link I was expecting amazing books written by his contemporaries, instead what was in the blog was even better than that!

Trending Topics | April

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How Can Anyone Know About Life After Death?

How Much of You Does God Get?

5 Ways Not To Return From a Mission Trip

Mission trips can be exhilarating. If it weren’t the case, so many wouldn’t be signing up and going out. More Christians than ever seem to be serving abroad in some capacity, whether constructing buildings, or prayer walking, providing a VBS, or doing disaster relief.

While voices have begun to question the necessity, viability, and even benefit of embarking on these trips in the first place, I’d like to address the manner in which we return. We make mistakes not only in the way we go on mission trips, but also in the way we come back from them. Here are five such ways.

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Trending Reads | January

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How to Respond to the Refugee Crisis

The scope of today’s refugee crisis is truly unprecedented, affecting nearly 60 million people. Never before have so many been displaced, put in danger, and forced from their homes. In Syria alone, more than half of 22 million people have either been displaced or killed. More than 4 million have fled to neighboring countries. I share these numbers to remind us of the sheer enormity of this crisis...

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6 Attributes of Churches That Make Disciples

IMB exists to partner with churches to empower limitless missionary teams that are evangelizing, discipling, planting, and multiplying healthy churches, and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God. But we know that discipleship does not happen by chance...

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False Teachers and Deadly Doctrines

For the past few years, lists of Christian bestsellers have been topped by a book claiming fresh revelation from Jesus Christ. Before that, they were overrun by books describing people’s purported visits to heaven. And before the heaven tourism fad, there was the best-selling novel that reframed the doctrine of the Trinity. Meanwhile, the largest church in America is led by a man whose platitudes are indistinguishable from fortune cookies. But it’s not just authors and church leaders who are swerving away from the truth. Theologians and laypersons alike are abandoning traditional understandings of manhood and womanhood, of marriage and sexuality. Never has it been more important for Christians to commit themselves to rejecting false doctrine and pursuing sound doctrine, to ensure they are following teachers of truth, not peddlers of error...

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Trending Reads | August

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In light of the summer series our church did on the 7 churches in revelation, this blog really was super interesting to me: 

Why Liturgy is awesome and not boring

Sometimes the idea of “formal worship” scares people. I hope to make that less scary. The Protestant traditions include Anglicanism, Lutheranism, the Reformed, and Presbyterianism. Although these traditions have important differences, they reflect important similarities in the way they worship. I could feel more or less at home in any of these traditions, so long as they are true to their Reformation heritage. A liturgy is an order of worship in which God gives grace in the gospel and we respond in faith, hope, and love.

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Being a millennial myself, this article was super helpful:

Why Church shouldn’t be cool

The generation we call “millennials” (individuals born between 1980 and 2000) has been the subject of countless Christian articles and books in the recent years. How do we reach them? What are they looking for in church? Why do so many, even those raised in Christian homes, seem disillusioned and frustrated with the local church? 

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What happened to prayer meeting?

Some of my earliest memories are of my dad, a fly fisherman, carefully selecting tiny bits of feather and horsehair for his fly box. He knew the importance of carrying a colorful and varied selection of flies: Once on the river, he would identify the newly hatched insects on the stream’s surface and notice which were attracting the fish. He could then “match the hatch” from his box, tying onto his line a fly that resembled the real ones on the water.

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How to use the gifts God has given you for His glory outside of being a preacher or worship leader

Of all the people you’ve ever seen preach in a Speedo, David Boudia must be the most eloquent. A world-class diver who, after Rio, now has 4 Olympic medals to his name, he often stands with reporters after competitions and does all he can to deflect attention away from himself and toward Jesus. He usually does this by telling how his identity is not wrapped up in being an Olympian or a medalist but in being in Christ Jesus. Just before the 2016 Olympics he released his biography Greater Than Gold. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and wanted to share the 5 big life lessons he communicates.

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What I want every high schooler to hear and know about dating

When should young people begin to date?

Your answer probably hangs on why you think you (or anyone else) should date in the first place. Anyone can see that the costs are often high — crushing breakups, sexual sin, shocking betrayal, sudden rejection, devastating heartbreak — the pain of love that never walked the aisle. 

So why do so many of us still dive so quickly into dating?

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Selfish Regrets and Irrational Wishes

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As humans, we are prone to worrying and stressing about life in the present and future leading to holistic negative effects, yet I have found myself also dwelling on memories of decisions and situations I wish would have turned out differently in order to yield results I think would have been better for my life or others’ lives. Everyone has had times of dwelling on the ‘what ifs’ and ‘should haves’ of life when we think, 

“I should have taken the other job.” 
“Life would be better if that would have happened sooner/later.” 
“If we had moved there, then we would be happier.” 

To be clear, I am not referring to tragic events which can continue to produce grieving, sorrow, and righteous anger throughout our time on Earth, nor am I addressing regrets of sin. Sin is a different topic that deals with conviction leading to repentance and freedom of guilt and regret due to Christ's atoning sacrifice and continual intersession on our behalf before the Father. If you struggle with the unnecessary regret of past sin for which Christ has already forgiven you, remember the power of Christ’s sacrifice and the freedom he gives. 

“For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

Satan will use our life regrets and wishes as an opportunity to turn us away from focusing on God’s will for our lives and our future prize, Jesus. Hebrews 12:1–2, “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus…” 

To fight these regrets and wishes, we must review our Christian worldview. God always gives me peace when I go back to the not-so-basic basics of who God is and how He sovereignly carries out His will globally and for us individually. His way is always better despite our personal feelings and opinions. Romans 8:28 says “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Wishing things had turned out differently misinterprets God’s providence because the root of our wish is saying that our plan would have been better than God’s plan. 

If we settle in this state of frustration that our way did not turn out the way we intended, our heart and thoughts will spiral into the cycle of self centeredness, self-pity, comparison, and discontentment with where God has us in the present. These steal our satisfaction in our Maker and turn our focus to ourselves rather than others’ needs and the works God has planned for us (Ephesians 2:10). We are attempting to be satisfied by worldly wisdom instead of relying on the wisdom from above as James speaks of in chapter 3:13–18. The comparison and covetousness then put us at risk for quarreling and adultery as he explains next in James 4:1–5. 

“But he gives more grace” James 4:6 tells us, so in lieu of falling into the thoughts of what “should” have been, ask God to help you remember: 

  • The faithfulness he has rendered to you and will continue to provide in the future. 
  • All aspects of your life are being used by God for your sanctification and discipline. 
  • His good mercy has protected you from temptation, sin, disaster, and additional suffering because your way didn’t play out. 

“God will either give us what we ask or give us what we would have asked if we knew everything he knows.” –Tim Keller

 
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Trending Reads | July

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Welcome to Trending Reads, a monthly post from Pastor Travis Walker that includes current articles on all things Christianity, as well as blog posts that will help you grow in your Christian walk. Without further adieu:

How to read the Bible with Gospel eyes

One of the best practices for those who want to make sure that they are gospel-centered everyday—that they are looking into the grace of God in Christ—is to look for Christ in the Scriptures

Most Christians understand that they ought to be spending time in God’s Word everyday but a lot of times that can just look like a checklist of religious duty. No matter what biblical text you’re in, it is important to look for the gospel and Jesus within it. This can be a little harder in the Old Testament and even in some New Testament texts. However, the aim is rather simple: look first and foremost for what God has done, notwhat you are to do...

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Why Teenagers need theology

The world can be really confusing for teenagers. We’re coming of age in a shifting moral landscape, where the most pressing challenges and culture’s loudest critics are ever changing and perpetually conflicting. We see scandals and soundbytes, terrorism and Trump, new sexual ethics and harsh racial tensions, and we wonder, How am I supposed to think about all this?

Secular society throws its own answers our way, but they’re never compatible with a Christian worldview.

I see a better tool to meet the questions of Christ-following teenagers like me: theology...

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Why are we so busy?

Boredom used to be a regular feature in my life.

As a kid, I was bored all the time. This perpetual boredom led me to all sorts of shenanigans, like setting the soles of my shoes on fire or digging a 4-foot deep hole in my backyard, simply because I could (kind of like George Mallory summiting Everest simply because it was there). My discovery that grapevines could be smoked like cigarettes was a direct product of the high volume of boredom in my life.

Even as I got older, I still had long stints of unoccupation. Walking to classes in college. Waiting for a computer program to compile [adjusts glasses and fiddles with pocket protector]. Long drives, doctors offices, waiting 10 freaking minutes for the America Online portal to load (I think I still have several hundred free hours to redeem).

Now I’m literally never bored...

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Why we need to read the Bible like we read other books

As I set aside my Bible reading plan this year in favor of soaking in shorter passages, I realized that I didn’t need to choose between the two—nor did I want to! The benefits and joy of journeying the entire way through God’s salvation story are too good to miss, so I decided to do both.

Last year was the first time I had used a pre-made reading schedule (pdf courtesy of Ligonier Ministries), and it was helpful in numerous ways. I’d encourage you to go through the entire Bible for these 17 reasons:..

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Trending Reads | June

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Welcome to Trending Reads, a monthly post from Pastor Travis Walker that includes current articles on all things Christianity, as well as blog posts that will help you grow in your Christian walk. Without further adieu:


10 Ways to Grow Your Marriage While Having Young Kids

My wife, Esther, and I live in a small parsonage next to our church. So does Isaiah. So does Naomi.

With biblical names like these, you’d think Isaiah and Naomi would be the ideal roommates. But we’ve noticed that Isaiah (who just turned 3) can be pretty moody, and Naomi (who just turned 1) has a powerful set of vocal chords.  

I love being a parent, and we have awesome kids. They give me so much joy. But it’s not always easy. Having kids permanently changes marriage. You try to have a conversation, and you’re constantly interrupted; you plan time to connect and you’re completely exhausted; you try to plan a date night and then realize how expensive a babysitter is. You get the idea.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about something my mom once said: being a parent, for all the strains it can put on your marriage, also allows your marriage to grow deeper and richer. It’s like going into battle with someone, coming home, and then realizing what good friends you’ve become because you were in the trenches together. So I’m learning to see this challenging season as an opportunity for our marriage, not merely a phase to endure.

After my walk with Christ, nothing should take a higher priority in my life than cultivating intimacy and friendship with my wife—not even being a dad. In fact, I know I can’t be the dad God calls me to be unless my marriage is strong. Here are some strategies we’ve reflected on that might be helpful to other young parents in a similar season of life.

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Four Ways for Fathers to Engage at Home

The impact that engaged fathers have on significantly reducing at-risk-behavior in their children has been well documented. Additionally, fathers who are physically and emotionally engaged lead to increased cognitive development, emotional health, and positive peer-relationships in their children’s lives. This pattern points to God’s design for families to function with men as active participants, not passive observers.

As men who desire to follow Jesus, honor God, and lead our families, we are not simply called to be present but engaged fathers — and engaged husbands as well. Before we can begin to lead our children well, we must first pursue an actively growing marriage with our wives. Men are meant to be participant-leaders in the home.

Admittedly, it is often difficult to remain engaged at home. After a long day, it is easy to detach from our family and enter the worlds of media, technology, and sports. Our minds are occupied with the work we left behind or looking forward to the sleep that is to come, but God calls us to more as husbands and fathers. 

Here are four ways, among many, that men can be more engaged at home.

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The Gospel Was Given for a Time Like This

There are days when it is hard to read the news. I open my browser and see another set of headlines, I open my blog reader and see another collection of stories, and I despair. If it is not wars and rumors of war, it is other indicators that this world is sick and dying and in its death throes. I enjoy Al Mohler’s daily podcast and often listen to it while preparing and eating my breakfast, but a scan of recent headlines reminds me why I sometimes just want to climb straight back in bed: “Dolls for boys? Christians must recognize that even the toy aisle reflects a worldview.” “For celebrities, saving the elephants is the latest fad. Unborn babies? Not so much.” “When it comes to sexuality, what happens when a society’s only moral factor is consent?”  

I am not convinced that things are a whole lot worse now than they were tens or hundreds or thousands of years ago. Rather, we have learned to move information faster and farther while at the same time making the world grow smaller. This has left us trapped in what Neil Postman told us is as an endless cycle of cynicism and impotence where we learn all kinds of news and information but have no ability to do anything about it. We hear it all, we feel it all, but we can take no action. All that’s left to do is despair.

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Don't Waste Your Summer

It’s almost here. The weather is finally getting warmer (at least here in Michigan). Spirits are up. The days are long. The end of school is nigh. The unofficial beginning of season–Memorial Day weekend–is right around the corner.

Which means in a little over three months we’ll all be moaning, “Where did the summer go? I can’t believe it’s over.” So what can we do over the next hundred days or so to help alleviate that feeling of loss? Or to put it positively, what can we do to make the most of June, July, and August? Here are twenty suggestions.

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