Like it or not, there are those who don't feel welcome or comfortable within the Church, or among Christians, in spite of their own preferences; they'd like to participate in church-life, and associate with Christ-followers, but they can't because of choices that we've made. They're excluded. The truth is that we've made "outsiders" of many people over the years...
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“Regrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention.” Anybody remember that song? Too few regrets? Not me! I’ve got lots! Just thinking back across 2012 – missed opportunities, people I let down, thoughts harbored that should have been rejected, failed projects. There have been enough of these for me. How about you?
The sun had set hours ago as Joseph and Mary slowly continued to make their way towards Bethlehem. When they left Nazareth days ago they had tried to stay with those they knew from the villages around, but it was no use. As Joseph led the donkey at a snail’s pace along the darkened road, some less than noble thoughts raced through his troubled mind...
Yesterday I picked up an old book by a "futurist." As I re-read and pondered Leonard Sweet's book Soul Tsunami, I was impressed with his vision for the future. Writing in 1999 at the turn of the millennium, I think he nailed some important concepts for ministry that have marked the last 10 years.
Births in the ancient world normally took place at home, and one might have expected Mary to remain in Nazareth. But let’s remember also that the ancient world was an honor-shame society, and for an unmarried woman to be pregnant could lead to dire personal consequences...
In the November issue of Christianity Today, there is a book review of Fred Sanders' newest book, The Creedal Imperative. In that book he states that our modern culture's greatest goal is “to be authentic and speak spontaneously,” whether or not anything of value is said. Therefore, we need creeds written down and followed as never before...
I recently had a conversation with someone in our church who felt somewhat frustrated with where the church seemed to be heading. This particular member thought it a waste of time and money to send myself and another church member to Zambia on a scouting trip to assess ministry needs in an area where we support a local pastor. They saw no value ...
Have you ever been in a group where most of the people spoke fluently in a language you barely understood? You could sort of follow the conversation until someone says something and everyone but you bursts out laughing. Why? Because someone told a joke that involved some wordplay or the double meaning of a particular phrase—and you didn’t get it.
Because the majority’s spoken opinion is that almost anything goes and is acceptable, almost everyone is afraid to call anyone’s hand on anything. But we as Christian believers “are our brothers’ keepers,” which means among other things that we are the truth tellers and moral compasses to the unbelieving world...
In Classis this past week, a fellow pastor stood up and shared his experiences in the CRC and our outreach efforts. He shared that since the mid-1980s, we have twice the amount of the churches we once did with the result of less on our membership roles. He shared that we have raced after different outreach models- the Crystal Cathedral, Willow Creek, Saddleback- and still nothing changed.
I have found 1 John to be one of the most difficult to figure out thematically. It is certainly not linear like Romans, or problem-oriented like 1 Corinthians, or rhetorically focused like Galatians. I have come to the conclusion that it is best to view the letter as a sphere, and John is taking snapshots of this ball.
I just finished reading Kent Carlson and Mike Lueken’s book, Renovation of the Church (IVP Books, 2011). What an interesting and thoughtful read! I saw myself and my church in their story many times. The last chapter was especially intriguing, where they sought to cast a vision for the future. Borrowing a metaphor from Dallas Willard, they encourage the church to establish “beachheads.”
“Peter Berger captures the style of witness that is dead to most people today: ‘A peculiar mixture of arrogance (‘I know the truth’) and benevolence (‘I want to save you’) has always been the chief psychological hallmark of missionary activity.’ People can smell this combination of arrogance and benevolence a mile away...
Dr. Darrell L. Bock in The NIV Application Commentary, Luke rather in passing made the connection between the widow's persistence and the “wearing down” of the unrighteous judge, and the praying of Peter and the church in Acts 4:23-31. He wrote: “Do we as the church community 'wear God down' with such a request for vindication?”
The prism of Christian denominations excites me. I find great spiritual benefit in relationships with many kinds of Christians. The pure light of God split when it hit the prism of our depravity and one result is our great variety of worship. True worshippers, however, are always pushing to get back through the prism.
One of the most profitable things a preacher can do in studying God’s Word is to engage in word studies of key words in a passage of Scripture. And I am talking about word studies not based on English words but on the Hebrew and Greek words. We can often gain surprising insights from such studies.
Like most people, I want what I want, and I want it five minutes ago. But I know better. I know that “patience” is an important Christian virtue–no less than a “Fruit of the Spirit.” And I know that a little patience can do a lot to make life more pleasant. So I’m doing what I can to cultivate a little more patience in my life.
At the risk of not keeping your attention I won’t make this entry too long. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the state or lack-there-of of critical thinking abilities among people, especially as a pastor. People today tend to process many ideas and information without seriously thinking about anything in particular except
What do you do when your life doesn’t turn out as you expected? In the Army, as I suspect in the other branches, the unexpected is oftentimes the norm. In fact, as a play on the Marine Corps motto, “Semper Fi” (Always Faithful), we often say, “Semper Gumby” (Always Flexible).
I understand that seminaries cannot fully teach all of God’s truth in all of the scientific spheres to their students. But by choosing to focus solely/primarily on just one or two of God’s revelatory spheres – the Bible and church tradition – are they not risking a ‘closed shuttered’ isolationism that could lead to idolatry?
It has been so many decades ago that I don't even recall whether we won more games than we lost, but what we were learning was going to last a lifetime, even for me who knew then that I was entering ministry.
Those who have spent hours learning biblical languages all too often let them fall by the wayside in the midst of busy church activities. But paying attention to some of the smallest words in the orginal language can reap rich exegetical insights.
Evangelism, outreach, church planting, and mission can become a normal part of our congregation’s life. But, we must make a major shift in our thinking and begin to think like evangelists. We need to start thinking, living, and strategizing like missionaries to our local contexts.