Your Favorite Faith Articles of 2006
- 2006 29 Dec
It's always interesting to me what will inspire people. I'm never not surprised. One of the reasons I love my job is that I not only get to play a part in bringing Bible-based encouragement to millions of users, I also get to peek at the numbers that tell me which ones got to you guys such that you forwarded them to friends and linked to them from your own sites.
If there's a theme in which Faith pieces made their way around the cyberworld the most this year, I'd have to say it was Timeliness - something which the Lord can only have His hand in. When we first ran articles like "God Still Answers Prayers" and "How to Witness to a Jehovah's Witness" I knew they were good, but I didn't expect to see such huge pageview totals. I can only conclude that each of these pieces struck a chord at just the right time in the lives of so many Christians. Here's hoping they'll do that again upon second glance.
These are the 10 articles you clicked on most in 2006.
Author: Whitney Hopler
Date: April 25
Abstract: Whitney Hopler is a contributing writer to Crosswalk who specializes in practical adaptations gleaned from recent Christian books. These how-to-like "Live It!" articles are always very popular. In fact, two of them made this list. This article was adapted from Ernest L. Easley's Through the Valleys.
Key Quote: We walk through many low places in life - the Valleys of Sickness, Correction, Confusion, Discouragement, Storms, Suffering, and Fear to name a few. "Life is tough in the valleys. Still, there are valuable lessons we can learn in the valleys that we could never learn if we stayed on the mountaintops. If you find yourself walking through a valley right now, let God teach you as He walks alongside you. Here’s how you can find victory in the valleys."
9) What's Up with Halloween?
Author: Jim Liebelt, HomeWord
Date: October 18
Abstract: Even if it's under the clever name of "Harvest Festival," churches throughout our country nonetheless use Halloween as a means for outreach to the community. So what's the deal?
Key Quote: "There is no doubt that Halloween's origins can be traced to pagan beliefs and rituals. Satanic groups have also attached meaning to Halloween, celebrating it as a special holiday. These origins and meanings can be researched pretty easily on the Internet. Christians of good conscience differ on their views of whether or not believers should have any participation in Halloween celebrations. Certainly, Christians should not participate in the "dark side" of Halloween – to in any way approve of the satanic, or the focus on paganism, evil, death, etc. Yet, the reality of Halloween participation for many - believers and unbelievers alike - is that of exercising a bit of fantasy, dressing up in costumes and having fun trick-or-treating around the neighborhood. To many, this is what Halloween is about, without any connection to occult or pagan practices. I have a hard time saying that there is anything wrong with this. Let me give an illustration: We know the source and heritage of Christmas. We also know that for many people, Christmas is a very non-religious holiday. People give Christmas their own meaning, regardless of its origins. We would never say that everyone who celebrates Christmas is a follower of Christ or honors God. Halloween, I believe, is similar. People give Halloween their own meaning, regardless of its origins. Consequently, just because people participate in Halloween does not necessarily mean they are promoting or encouraging occult or pagan practices and beliefs."
8) God Still Answers Prayers
Author: Betsy St. Amant
Date: September 29
Abstract: Nothing jumpstarts your faith like an answered prayer.
Key Quote: "I can share firsthand that God is still in the business of performing miracles. Just last weekend, I received an answered prayer in a way that only God could accomplish. He heard my plea, but not only did He see fit to answer with me a resounding 'Yes!,' He went above and beyond what my meager faith could scrape up and really showed off in a burst of glory, leaving me in awe with my mouth hanging wide open and tears pouring from my eyes as I marveled in the wonder and love of my Heavenly Father. God still answers prayers."
7) Is 'Seeker-Sense' Just Nonsense?
Author: Shawn McEvoy, Crosswalk Faith Editor
Date: February 10
Abstract: Will growing a church’s numbers by tickling a few ears, singing catchy tunes, and avoiding Bible passages the World doesn’t like yield us, through sheer numbers, enough of a crop of committed disciples to get the Lord’s work done? Or will a church grow if the Christians in it are fed Biblical meat, trained to evangelize, and leave sermons feeling challenged?
Key Quote: "The mandate seems clear; preaching the Word of God without compromise is the primary duty of any believing body that gathers together. Perhaps that’s oversimplifying if not done with all-out-surrender. But if that ideal is geared so to equip Christians to evangelize and minister out in the world, we must honestly ask ourselves why we’re missing so many who are lost and yet seeking a spiritual path."
6) When Pastors Fail to Practice what they Preach
Author: Ray Pritchard, Keep Believing Ministries
Date: November 7
Abstract: Prior to the revelations concerning Teg Haggard, Ray Pritchard received an email from a woman distraught about repeated pastoral problems in her local church. Her words speak for multitudes who have been disappointed with their spiritual leaders.
Key Quote: "We should not be totally surprised when our leaders fail us. We all fail to one degree or another, and some of us fail miserably and repeatedly. We all have feet of clay. That said, we must continue to hold our leaders to the high standards set in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1. Paul summed it up when he said that a spiritual leader must be 'above reproach.' The Greek word describes a garment without any folds. When applied to personal character, it means that leader must be free from any secret or hidden pockets of sin. Said another way, it means that a godly leader has nothing hidden because there is nothing to hide. The Living Bible uses the phrase, 'a good man whose life cannot be spoken against.' Knox says, 'one with whom no fault can be found.' It means that no charge could be brought against such a person that would withstand impartial examination. Leaders are often attacked, their motives questioned, their actions criticized. While such things do happen, a leader who is truly above reproach will weather the storm because there is nothing about him which a person could say, 'Aha! I gotcha.' This means no questionable conduct, no secret sins, no deliberately unresolved conflicts."
5) Don't Waste Your Cancer
Author: John Piper, Desiring God Ministries
Date: March 15
Abstract: Writing on the eve of prostate surgery, Piper, who believes in God’s power to heal—by miracle and by medicine, and believes it is right and good to pray for both kinds of healing. lists 10 ways that those afflicted with cancer often cause their ailment to become pointless.
Key Quote: Among other things, "You will waste your cancer if you do not believe it is designed for you by God; You will waste your cancer if you believe it is a curse and not a gift; You will waste your cancer if you seek comfort from your odds rather than from God."
4) The Secret to Knowing God
Author: Bayless Conley
Date: June 8
Abstract: Every Christian wants to experience a personal and intimate relationship with God, but often our prayer time is spent asking Him for things.
Key Quote: "But there is often a problem in how we approach God. We often go to Him looking for rewards… or we’re constantly asking Him for things. Now, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t go to God with our cares and burdens. In fact, He tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 to tell Him about our concerns because He cares so much for us. But if you want to know God... I mean, really know Him... there is another prayer He wants to hear from you. It’s a prayer like the one we hear Moses pray in Exodus 33:13. In my mind, this is one of the greatest prayers in all of Scripture: 'Now therefore, I pray, if I have found grace in Your sight, show me now Your way, that I may know You and that I may find grace in Your sight.'"
3) How to Respond to Horrifying Sayings of Jesus
Author: John Piper, Desiring God Ministries
Date: April 6
Abstract: No one else has the right, the wisdom, or the love to tell us how to live. Only Jesus has that authority.
Key Quote: "When you read through the Gospels you find some horrifying things. If you don’t feel them as horrifying, you are not awake. I think they are calculated to wake us up from our domestication of Christ and his book. This one grabbed me because it relates directly to the issue of Jesus’ authority. At the beginning of the parable of the ten minas (or ten pounds) in Luke 19:14, Jesus describes the citizens’ relationship to the nobleman like this: 'His citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, "We do not want this man to reign over us."' Then at the end of the parable Jesus says in Luke 19:27, 'As for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me.' This is horrifying. Jesus says that people who do not want his absolute authority over them will be slaughtered before his eyes. What should our hearts and minds do with this kind of talk in the mouth and heart of our Lord?"
2) Avoid the Dumb Mistakes Christians Make
Author: Whitney Hopler
Date: July 18
Abstract: In this "Live It!" article adapted from Mark Atteberry's The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do comes this partial list of some of our not-so-smart habits: Allowing wolves to live among the sheep; Settling for mediocrity; Hopping from church to church; Speaking above our level of knowledge; Living below the level of your beliefs; and Chronically complaining. Learn how you can avoid making them yourself.
Key Quote: "Remember that the reason why you’re trying to reach people with your faith isn’t simply so they can join your church – it’s so they can have a relationship with Christ. Focus on Him, whether or not the people you’re reaching end up worshipping in your particular church or not. When you discuss your church, make sure you’re not giving people unrealistic expectations about what to expect there. Recognize that just joining a church won’t magically make people’s problems disappear."
1) How to Witness to a Jehovah's Witness
Author: Ray Comfort, The Way of the Master
Date: July 21
Abstract: Evangelist Comfort tells the tale of the time two Jehovah's Witnesses rang his doorbell. There were no disagreements about the deity of Christ because "I made sure the conversation didn't go in that direction... And I avoided doing what the Bible says not to do -- to argue."
Key Quote: "It's important to remember that Jehovah Witnesses see Christians as misguided 'Trinitarians,' while they see themselves as protectors of Jehovah's glory. So they are going to be incredibly stubborn about the issue of Jehovah sharing His glory with another... All I did was hold up the truth against error and left the results in the hands of God. Charles Spurgeon said, 'I have heard it said that if there is a crooked stick, and you want to show how crooked it is, you need not waste words in description. Place a straight one by the side of it, and the thing is done directly.'"
Amen to that. Have a spirit-filled 2006.