Sharing God’s Heart at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat


Earlier this month, Leadership Resources Founder Bill Mills had the opportunity to return to share God’s Word at the Joni and Friends Family Retreat.

The theme of the retreat was Hope Overflowing, based on Romans 15:13:

JoniAndFriendsRetreats“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Bill Mills had these words to share about his experience:

“I always enjoy sharing the Word with Joni and Friends and bringing the heart of God to some of His most beautiful children. Being with Joni and Friends is always an extremely special time and greatly encouraging to see the reality of God’s upside-down Kingdom.

Some of the things we learned in our time was how we all have disabilities–some are just more visible than others. The beautiful thing for Christians is that our weaknesses can turn to strengths with God’s help, and that no matter who we are, we can be strong and successful in the eyes of the Lord. I can’t think of a better example of this than Joni.”


Leadership Resources exists to strengthen the worldwide church by training to teach God’s Word with God’s heart. We thank Joni and Friends for the opportunity to share and fellowship around God’s Word.


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Why is the Bible so Hard to Understand?


The Bible is a book full of spiritual riches that can make us wise unto salvation, train us to live godly lives, and equip us for ministry (2 Timothy 3:14-17). It is also the world’s all-time bestseller–and the best selling book in every year that sales have been recorded.

Even so, the task of reading the Bible can feel like putting together a massive jigsaw puzzle. As you read Scripture, you inevitably run across something you don’t understand and ask a variety of questions.

Who are the Amalekites? Why does God command us to wash so much in Leviticus? Who are the Pharisees and how do they affect me? What do the seals and trumpets mean in Revelation?

Many questions like these show that the Bible can be confusing. Why is the Bible so hard to understand?


9 Factors that Make Reading the Bible Difficult

1. Time

The Bible was written between about two and three thousand years ago. Times have changed since Moses parted the Red Sea and David ruled as king over Israel. Understanding the historical setting of the Bible and specific book you are reading can greatly help you bridge the gap between then and now.

2. Culture

The biblical authors wrote to distinctive groups of people in distinctive places throughout the ancient world. The Bible often assumes readers know specific cultural details and use the details to teach a lesson. For example, the woman at the well in John 4 might not jump off the page to a 21st century American reader. A Jew around the time of Christ would have seen how Jesus crossed cultural taboos by talking to a Samaritan woman who was rejected even by her own people, and revealed Himself as the Messiah promised to her forefathers.

3. Language

The 66 books of the Bible were originally written in Hebrew (most of the Old Testament with a little Aramaic) and ancient Greek (the New Testament). The nature of languages makes direct translation sometimes difficult. The original language might have words to express something crucial to the story that a receiving language may not have. Today we have many dedicated scholars who faithfully translate God’s Word into modern languages. Your Bible might even have small footnotes describing different ways a passage could be worded in Hebrew or Greek. While language is not normally a major obstacle for reading a modern translation, it can be an issue when studying the original language at a deeper level.

4. Scripture communicates spiritual truths

1 Corinthians 2:14 says that, “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” Our natural minds often struggle with what we cannot see and what is not easy to understand. This is one reason why God illustrates many spiritual truths with everyday things we do understand like God as our Father and our need to be “born again.” We can take heart that even the apostle Peter had a tough time understanding some of what Paul wrote (see 2 Peter 3:16)!

5. Sin

Our sin separates us from God and blinds us to spiritual reality–making reading and understanding the Bible more difficult. When we come to Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit who helps us in our fight against sin and also reveals the truth of Scripture to us (John 14:26). As we grow in holiness and are taught God’s Word through faithful study and the Spirit’s help, we will grow in our comprehension and delight in His Word.

6. Not knowing how the Bible storyline fits together

If a new Christian reads the book of Genesis, they may ask themselves, “Why should I care about a promise God made to Abraham thousands of years ago?” The reason is because God’s promise applies to us today in Jesus Christ. Understanding the Bible’s storyline and its great themes (often called the discipline of biblical theology) allow you to trace the development of themes across the timeline of Bible history and understand how each part of the Bible ultimately has its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

7. Weak reading comprehension skills.

Much of today’s communication is done through sound bites, tweets, and other forms of multimedia communication. People don’t read carefully anymore because they don’t have to, which makes reading the Bible (and other forms of literature) difficult. Learning simple techniques like looking for repeated words, asking good questions of the text, and keeping a close eye on context will empower readers to make helpful observations that will bring the meaning of Scripture to life.

Pastors: you have the opportunity to model faithful Bible reading and interpretation in your ministry and from the pulpit. Don’t force your flock to depend only on hearing the Word in a sermon but rather equip them to study the Word from the pulpit and by training them in the Word. Our Fellowship of the Word program equips pastors to read and preach God’s Word and train others.

8. Not knowing how to read the genres of the Bible.

You don’t read the editorial section of the newspaper the same way you read the comics or advertisements. You adapt your thinking to the type of content you are reading. The same is true with the Bible: historical narratives should be treated differently than poetry and the apocalyptic literature of the Bible should be treated differently than New Testament letters.

9. Not working hard at understanding the Bible.

God knows that understanding the Bible takes work and prayer, but so often we want quick benefits from the Bible without putting in the necessary labor. A famous preacher once said that any true devotional reading of Scripture has to care about understanding what the text is actually saying to truly be devotional. It would be like a husband trying to show love to his wife but not trying to understand what she was saying.

In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul writes to Timothy to tell him that he is to work hard in his study, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” Paul knows that a failure to work diligently at studying the Word can make people mishandle the Word and miss out on God’s approval.

How can we break down these barriers?

To break down these barriers, you don’t an advanced PhD degree in the Bible or a time machine to go back to Bible times (although, it wouldn’t hurt). There is much in the Bible we can understand today if we would just pick it up and read!

God didn’t make His Word too difficult for us to understand or write it solely for the original recipients. God’s Word is for our instruction and our encouragement as well. Romans 15:4 says,

“For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (emphasis added).

If reading the Bible is difficult for you, approach study prayerfully with a willing and humble heart. God will help you and reward your effort.

In your Bible reading, seek to encounter the Living Christ and find life in Him (John 5:39-40). God promises that His Word won’t return to Him void (Isaiah 55:11). Dedicate yourself to become a person of the Word by studying it, obeying it, and treasuring it more than you treasure gold and silver (Psalm 119:72). God will reveal Himself to you in a powerful way.

May God richly bless your study of the Scriptures!

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10 Types of Pastors Who Fail to Reach their Ministry Potential


You probably can name a few talented athletes that showed potential early in their career but flamed out prematurely. “So-and-so had everything going for them, how could they not succeed?” A lack of discipline, focus, or humility might have caused them to miss a great opportunity.

Likewise, pastors are susceptible to not live up to their potential. Natural giftedness or previous ministry blessings are not enough to get you to the finish line in ministry.

You must be wise in both pursuing Christ and avoiding the snares of the devil that seek to trip pastors up (1 Timothy 3:6-7).

10 Types of Pastors Who Fail to Reach their Potential in Ministry

1. The Future-Focused Pastor.

Are you always thinking about your next ministry position or dreaming about other roles? Don’t let your future desires rob from the opportunity God has you in presently. The Lord has you where he has you for a reason. The grass is always greenest when it is watered.

“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much.” Luke 16:10

2. The Anger-Prone Pastor.

Pastors often deal with stressful situations and difficult people and are prone to burnout in ministry. The right combination of people and stressors may prove dangerous for the pastor who is easily angered. Unruly youth and unreasonable congregants never give a pastor an excuse to lose their temper–even for a moment. Letting anger control you could lead to physically harming others and being found unfit for ministry.

“Therefore an overseer must be …sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable…” 1 Timothy 3:2

3. The Do-Everything-Yourself Pastor.

You may be tempted to see the ministry of the church as something you own and are responsible for. Pastors shouldn’t seek to control every aspect of ministry but rather should train others for biblical ministry (2 Timothy 2:2). Leadership Resources equips pastors to read and preach God’s Word with God’s heart and to train others to do so as well. Our Fellowship of the Word program will sharpen your abilities at proclaiming God’s Word and will give you the confidence to equip others for a ministry of the Word.

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” Ephesians 4:11-12

4. The Insubordinate Pastor.

The insubordinate pastor might prefer his vision for ministry over his boss’s vision and refuse to submit to his authority. This attitude might cause division in the church or for others to discount the vision of the governing pastors. Pastor: God calls you to model Christ-like submission to your authority in front of your flock.

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.” Hebrews 13:17

5. The Money-Loving Pastor.

Money is one of the three big sins Satan most often uses to cause pastors to fall (along with sex and power). Financial temptations abound and range from dipping into church funds for personal use to gambling. Guard your heart against the love of money and pray that God would help you model godliness with contentment (1 Timothy 6:6).

“…not a lover of money…” 1 Timothy 3:3

6. The Unhappy Pastor.

This type of pastor sees life and ministry as a glass half-empty. A pastor should be able to manage his spiritual life and spiritual affections well. Lacking Christian joy robs a pastor of one of his greatest weapons (see Nehemiah 8:10) and makes it tough to stir a passion for God in those under your care. Unhappiness may be due to lacking a robust view of the power of God.

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.” Philippians 4:4

7. The Hobby Horse Pastor.

Special interest in certain Christian topics or doctrines can become a problem when that special interest dominates everything a pastor says and does. Pastor–resist the urge to saddle up your hobby horse to the neglect of your flock. Faithfully minister the Word to your people.

“For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

“Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” 2 Timothy 4:2

8. The Loose-with-Physical-Boundaries Pastor.

Pastors walk a fine line with physical touch more than ever before. Without properly defined boundaries and safeguards, a pastor may find himself offending a congregant, losing his job, or doing time in prison. Don’t let yourself fall into even a hint of sexual misconduct or allow gestures and physical touch to be misunderstood.

“But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints.” Ephesians 5:3

9. The Mismanaged Pastor.

With a variety of roles and responsibilities, pastors need to be able to manage themselves, his schedule, and his family. Pastors who can’t manage themselves don’t finish what they start or meet deadlines and cannot reach their potential in ministry. When Paul explained to Timothy qualifications for leaders in the church, he mentioned management three times (specifically in regards to his household). Why is that?

“…for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?” (1 Timothy 3:5).

10. The Lazy Pastor.

Many pastors (especially those in small churches) enjoy flexible schedules with limited oversight. This combination can turn into laziness if not kept in check and lead to a variety of sins. Being careless about shepherding the flock, loose in stewarding money, or lazy in studying Scripture will hurt you and your people over the long run. Don’t be careless with your God ordained shepherding role–lead with zeal (Romans 12:8).

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly…” 1 Peter 5:2

Pastor, do whatever you can to avoid falling into any of these temptations. Stay committed to God in prayer and by feeding on His Word. Surround yourself with people who encourage you in the faith that you can be open and honest with and pursue the Lord together. Thank God for your salvation, your family, and your ministry.

If we abide in Christ, we will be guaranteed to bear fruit for Him (John 15:4-5). Not only will we bear fruit, but He can amplify our efforts to “do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think…” (Ephesians 3:20).

If this post was a wakeup call for you, get on your knees and ask for God’s help and guidance to more fully surrender your life and ministry to the Lord. This could be a moment God will use to transform you and your ministry forever.

Leadership Resources International equips pastors in the United States and around the world to preach God’s Word with God’s heart. Learn how the Fellowship of the Word program can help you reach your full potential by sharpen your skills in the Word, fellowshipping with other pastors, and training the next generation to follow Paul’s command in 2 Timothy 4:2 to “Preach the Word!”

Related Resources:
Audio Set: How to Flourish Now and Finish Well
Book: Finishing Well in Life and Ministry
Christian Ministry Burnout: Prevention, Signs, Statistics, and Recovery

**This post was adapted from a presentation given by Bill Bradish at The Orchard Network and has been used with permission.**

How to Pray for Your Pastor: Praying for A Pastor’s Personal Life, Family Life, Ministry


The pastor’s role is not easy, and it isn’t one that comes without opposition. As a pastor seeks to feed his flock God’s Word, comfort them when afflicted, protect them from danger, and minister the gospel to their souls, he has a target on his back. The enemy knows that “striking the shepherd will scatter the sheep” (Mark 14:27). Pastors need to be on their guards against the world, the flesh, and the devil which can subtly–or not so subtly–lure them away from serving the God they love.

To stand firm in the ministry and fulfill God’s calling, pastors need to be men of prayer and need the prayers of believers in their congregation. The Apostle Paul asked for prayer several times in his letters, for rescue from unbelievers (Romans 15:30-33), for a bold gospel proclamation (Ephesians 6:19-20), and that the word of the Lord would speed ahead and be honored (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2). If Paul needed prayer, your pastor does too!

Praying for your pastor is joining him in ministry. Paul says in his letters, “…strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf…” (Romans 15:30) and “You also must help us by prayer, so that many will give thanks on our behalf for the blessing granted us through the prayers of many” (2 Corinthians 1:11).

Your prayers for your pastor and your church will strengthen the work being done and be a service to him.

If you’re wondering how to pray for your pastor, below are several suggestions from Scripture for the pastor’s personal life, family life, and ministry life. The corresponding Bible verses listed provide a command or additional support on how to pray for pastors.

Pray for Your Pastor’s Personal Life

  • For him to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33)
  • To have a deep delight in the Word of God (Psalm 1:1-3)
  • For deep satisfaction in Christ (Psalm 63:5-7)
  • For a deep and vibrant prayer life (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  • To model the character God mandates for leaders (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9)
  • That he wouldn’t be greedy, but content and managing money well (Titus 1:7; 1 Timothy 6:6-10)
  • That he would watch his life and doctrine closely (1 Timothy 4:16)
  • To be growing in holiness and in hatred for sin and evil (1 Thessalonians 4:3; Proverbs 8:13)
  • To constantly walk by the Spirit and display fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:16, 22-23)
  • For him to find his identity first in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  • For a transformed and a continually renewed mind (Romans 12:2)
  • To display a spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel might, knowledge, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2-3)
  • For him to abide in Christ and receive spiritual vitality from Christ (John 15:5)
  • That his life would constantly be increasing in faith, virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love (2 Peter 1:5-9)
  • To be constantly growing in faith and the obedience of faith (Romans 1:4)
  • To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God (Micah 6:8)
  • Model a life of faith and true religion that is unpolluted by the world (James 1:27)
  • To enjoy adequate and nourishing rest (Matthew 11:28-30)
  • Deep relationships with other believers who can hold him accountable (Proverbs 27:17)
  • Protection against Satan and his schemes (Ephesians 6:11)
  • That he would walk in a manner worthy of the calling he received (Philippians 1:27)

Pray for Your Pastor’s Family Life

Pray for Your Pastor’s Ministry Life

What else should we pray for? Share your prayer ideas in the comment section below.



TNT Update: God at Work in Myanmar


The Apostle Paul endured much hardship in his ministry:

Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea…” (2 Corinthians 11:25).

While we don’t have any stories that can top the Apostle Paul, we can share the story of a couple of remarkable men we have trained from Myanmar who are going through thick and thin to take their training in expository preaching to others.

Our Training National Trainers program equipped them to preach the Word and transformed them by the Word. Now they want to bring that same blessing to others. We know that when God’s Word is faithfully proclaimed and Christ is exalted, lives are changed through the life-giving power of the Scriptures.

Below is a video documenting a typical journey Rawang Pong takes as he goes to train one of seven second generation groups he has started as a result of our training. Rawang Pong and James are living testimonies of God’s faithfulness in our goal of launching pastoral training movements worldwide!

How does Rawang Pong get to training? Travel Conditions in Myanmar

Below is an interview with Rawang Pong and James

Here are some highlights of Rawang Pong and James’ ministry:

  • Rawang Pong and James are launching eight different groups (seven already started as of 05/14)
  • They are now equipped to fight false doctrines
  • They strengthen churches by teaching others how to preach expository sermons
  • They target young leaders to train up the next generation
  • They take the training to four other ethnic groups
  • They have included the TNT curriculum in a three month Bible School program

Get Involved!

Adopt a Training Group or Donate to Leadership Resources.

25 Quotes about the Book of Psalms


This post is a continuation of a series of posts on the Psalms. You can see the first: The Most Popular Psalms in the BibleFor more biblically-saturated resources, Christ-exalting encouragement, and stories of God’s work around the world, follow us on FacebookTwitterGoogle Plus, and YouTube. 

The book of Psalms provide believers with Spirit-inspired prayers that cover the whole range of Christian life. Here are several inspirational quotes about the book of Psalms from men of past and present who have been greatly shaped and encouraged by the powerful book:

“The book of Psalms can revolutionize our devotional life, our family patterns, and the fellowship and witness of the church of Jesus Christ.”
― Willem VanGemeren

[Introducing his exposition of the Psalms:]”We have now before us one of the choicest parts of the Old Testament, wherein there is so much of Christ and his gospel, as well as of God and his law, that it has been called the summary of both Testaments. ”
― Matthew Henry

“No single book of Scripture, not even of the New Testament, has, perhaps, ever taken such hold on the heart of Christendom.”
― J.J. Stewart Perowne

“The psalms teach us about God and our relationship with Him; that is the heart of theology. The Psalter may be thought of as a portrait gallery of God, presenting us with multiple images of who God is.”
― Tremper Longman

“The Psalter is the prayer book of Jesus Christ in the truest sense of the word. He prayed the Psalter and now it has become his prayer for all time…we understand how the Psalter can be prayer to God and yet God’s own Word, precisely because here we encounter the praying Christ…because those who pray the psalms are joining in with the prayer of Jesus Christ, their prayer reaches the ears of God. Christ has become their intercessor…”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Whenever the Psalter is abandoned, an incomparable treasure is lost to the Christian church. With its recovery will come unexpected power.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“If you need a guide for your ongoing relationship with God, read Psalms.”
― Jim George

“The delightful study of the Psalms has yielded me boundless profit and ever-growing pleasure; common gratitude constrains me to communicate to others a portion of the benefit, with the prayer that it may induce them to search further for themselves.”
― Charles Spurgeon, in his preface to The Treasury of David

“It is not that every sentiment expressed by a psalmist is admirable, but that in praying the Psalms, we confront ourselves as we really are. The Psalms are a reality check to keep prayer from becoming sentimental, superficial, or detached from the real world.”
― Richard H. Schmidt

“There is no other book in which there is to be found more express and magnificent commendations, both of the unparalleled liberality of God towards his Church, and of all his works; there is no other book in which there is recorded so many deliverances, nor one in which the evidences and experiences of the fatherly providence and solicitude which God exercises towards us, are celebrated with such splendour of diction, and yet with the strictest adherence to truth; in short, there is no other book in which we are more perfectly taught the right manner of praising God, or in which we are more powerfully stirred up to the performance of this religious exercise.”
― John Calvin

“[The Psalms are] a Little Bible, wherein everything contained in the entire Bible is beautifully and briefly comprehended.”
—Martin Luther

“Romans gave Luther his theology, but it was the Psalms that gave him his thunder.”
— Steven Lawson

“There is no better way to enter the spirit of Israelite history and the faith of this people of antiquity than through this book.”
— C. Hassell Bullock

“When we read the Psalms, we are meant to learn things about God and about human nature and about how life is to be lived. Some poetry makes no claim to instruct the mind. The Psalms do. They are meant to be instructive about God and man and life.”
― John Piper

CS-Lewis-Quotes-about-the-Psalms-in-the-Bible“The most valuable thing the Psalms do for me is to express the same delight in God which made David dance.”
― C.S. Lewis

“The Psalmists in telling everyone to praise God are doing what all men do when they speak of what they care about.”
― C.S. Lewis in Reflections on the Psalms

“The psalms, like no other literature, lift us to a position where we can commune with God, capturing a sense of the greatness of his kingdom and a sense of what living with him for eternity will be like.”
― Gordon Fee

“[P]salms are basically prayers and hymns, by their very nature they are addressed to God or express truth about God in song.”
― Gordon Fee

“The psalms do not simply express emotions: when sung in faith, they actually shape the emotions of the godly.”
― C. John Collins

“All Christians would profit from a more deliberate effort to use the Psalms in their worship.”
― C. John Collins

“The Psalms are honest: there is no easy triumphalism and no attempt to disguise the trials that beset believers.”
― G.W. Grogan

“The Psalms are much more than poetry. Many of them bear the title, Maskil, or teaching psalm. They are thus intended to instruct the mind as well as to encourage the heart. They are designed not only to reflect a mood, but to show us also how to handle that mood; how to escape from depression or how to balance exaltation with wisdom.”
― Ray C. Stedman

“In the psalms, we have a collection of 150 prayers that were inspired originally by the Holy Ghost. If you want to know how God is pleased and honored in prayer, why not immerse yourself in the prayers that he himself has inspired?”
―R.C. Sproul

“It has been said by church historians that in those periods of Christian history where renewal, revival, and awakening took place and the church was at its strongest, that coincidental with those periods in church history, there was a strong focus on the psalms in the life of God’s people–particularly in the worship of God’s people.”
― R.C. Sproul

“Whenever I read the psalms, I feel like I am eavesdropping on a saint having a personal conversation with God.”
― R.C. Sproul

Leadership Resources International seeks to train pastors and church leaders in the US and worldwide to study the Word of God in depth using a variety of hermeneutical principles. Our training instructs preachers on eight books of the Bible, including the book of Psalms.

Learn more about our Training National Trainers Program or how you can help the worldwide spread of God’s Word!

Author: Kevin Halloran

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