No, All Christian Content Shouldn’t Be Free

A few years ago, when I was a pastor, I had a hard time explaining to a rather cranky member why we, as a church, had to pay for a license to use Christian music in our worship services. "They should give it away freely. Why do I have to pay for it? I thought this was ministry. Why they are out to make money?" What made this man's beef all the more interesting is that I had just concluded, a day earlier, a long conversation with him about what he considered unfair pay at his work. The irony was lost on him, but not me. But alas, this complaint about Christian content costing money is one I've heard in a variety of forms most of my adult life. It goes something like this: Christian publishers should not be so eager to make money. Why not give their books away free? Christian musicians...

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Fearless Predictions for 2014:

A fair warning: I’m likely the worst prognosticator in the world. Just ask President Pawlenty. And yet here I am making predictions for 2014, well, just because this is what writers do. So without further fanfare, my picks for 2014:  1)   After a year (2013) of religious liberty setbacks, this will be the year religious liberty wins in the courts. This is not just a left-right issue, but also a constitutional issue. I think the Supreme Court will strike down the HHS mandate in a win for religious organizations and businesses. 2)   Peyton Manning will win his second Super Bowl, leading the Denver Broncos to a narrow win over the Seattle Seahawks. This year will further bolster Manning’s case as one of the greatest QB’s to play in the NFL 3)   There will be two or three major controversies that will continue to divide the Christian blogosphere. Some will fan the flames for...

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The One Thing Your Team Needs . . . That Only You Can Give

"Nobody has ever told me that before," she said to me. Her tired voice and tired posture betrayed years of faithful ministry work that had gone unnoticed and unappreciated. It was my first week on the job as a Senior Pastor and I had much to learn about shepherding God's people. But one thing I carried with me from childhood, something my mother taught me repeatedly, is the value of a simple "thank you" to those who work with and for you. So I said thank you to this church lady for volunteering every week for one of our key ministry programs. Leaders of all types have one thing to give to their people that nobody else can give: encouragement. By this I don't mean flattery that withholds useful criticism and coaching. I mean a simple affirmation of their gifts and their contributions. Even if you're managing people who make a...

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Grace Makes the Medicine Go Down

One of the things that confounds me, as a parent, is the refusal of my kids to take their medicine, even as they are crying out in pain. It's particularly annoying in the middle of the night (you know, those few nights when it's actually me getting up instead of my long-suffering and faithful wife, Angela). It's quite illogical, really, for kids to refuse medicine that not only has the power to relieve their pain, but also can heal them of the sickness or injury that is making their little lives miserable. And yet, there a kid squirms, mouth closed, head shaking in refusal. As good parents, we practically have to hold them down and force the medicine down. Then we have to tell them that this medicine--the medicine we just forced down their mouths--is for their good. Trust me, we tell them. But just when I begin to shake my head in disbelief...

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