A follow-up to my previous post, "Counting the Cost of Ministry." ______ Here I am, calling people to do hard things when I find myself struggling under the weight of very same hard things that God has called me to do. This week has been particularly difficult – having one of those days where you want to quit everything, but there’s really no way to escape. I find it difficult to bear the weight of being the spiritual leader of a body of believers, extending the call of God to live sacrificially for his kingdom, while at the same time struggling to make it through each day of my own … [Read more...] about Second Thoughts on the Cost of Ministry
Counting the Cost of Ministry
I used to think that ministry was just a matter of just showing up, sharing my faith, and seeing lives change. The stories I heard from the pulpit growing up, the testimonies of revival preachers and missionaries and others all spoke of the tremendous power of the gospel to change lives. Story after story was told of persons coming to Christ and seeing their lives radically transformed, all as a result of ministry. Well, those stories were true and were worth telling, but often they left an important aspect of ministry out – that ministry is HARD, that it’s costly, that it requires sacrifice … [Read more...] about Counting the Cost of Ministry
Outward Signs of an Inward Change
For the next few months, I am preaching through James. The book of James sets an agenda for the church for how we might live as the people of God. James focuses his letter on the outward signs of faith that reflect the inward change that has taken place in the life of a believer. For James, faith is a “lived out” faith, demonstrated by what we say, what we do, and how we live. As I reflect on the teaching of James, I am asking questions about how this 3-fold focus applies to fulfilling the mission God has given us and our churches. Let us consider, then, how we might renew our faithfulness to … [Read more...] about Outward Signs of an Inward Change
Not Just a Black Holiday
Every year in January, government offices, the USPS, and many schools close in observance of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Federal Holiday. In my area, several schools with a majority white population are remaining open today. The rationale? “It’s not OUR holiday, so why should we celebrate it?” In my conversations with white friends, and my experience in majority white communities, I see a reluctance by many to observe the day on the grounds that MLK day is a “black” holiday. As a white Christian, I could not disagree more. Martin Luther King day is MY day, it’s OUR day. Dr. King’s vision of … [Read more...] about Not Just a Black Holiday
Six Principles for Partnerships Between Large and Small Churches
This post first appeared at the RPM Ministries blog as part of their series on large churches. ________ Having been a part of both large and small churches, I have seen the tremendous potential of large and small churches working together. There can be great benefit when churches join forces and the combined effort can result in a greater impact for the cause of Christ. Not all joint efforts, however, are healthy partnerships. For a partnership between large and small churches to be successful, there must be active participation, contribution and benefit for all churches involved. Too … [Read more...] about Six Principles for Partnerships Between Large and Small Churches
Social Networking: A Few Tips for the New Year
The new year is a good time to reflect on our past and choose to make life changes. Social networking has become a huge part of people’s lives and perhaps now is a good time to think about our online presence and suggest a few changes. Read this as helpful pastoral advice or as my personal pet peeves. Feel free to change them into your New Year’s Resolutions. That news story, internet tip, food contamination scare, new gang initiation, IS NOT TRUE!!! (Yes, I meant to shout; see point 6 below). Make snopes.com your new friend and research before you post. Do you know what “satire” is? … [Read more...] about Social Networking: A Few Tips for the New Year
The Virgin Birth – There’s Nothing Marvelous about a Myth
Every Christmas, Christians and non-Christians alike seem to revisit the doctrine of the virgin birth. Conservative Christians rightly affirm that belief in the virgin birth of Christ is a test of orthodoxy and of one’s view of the Scripture. However, we must go beyond the doctrinal affirmations that arise from the narratives of Matthew and Luke, and marvel at the wonderful thing that was accomplished in the Incarnation. The Christmas story is not marvelous because it is miraculous. Our faith must not become merely about affirming biblical propositions our doctrinal checklist. Of course, … [Read more...] about The Virgin Birth – There’s Nothing Marvelous about a Myth
Orphan Care: Trendy Cause or Sustained Movement of God’s People?
American Christianity in many ways mimics the culture at large by always going after the latest thing, following the latest celebrity, reading the latest book, and, yes, latching on to the cause of the moment. In recent years, there has been a renewed interest in adoption and global orphan care. I’ll leave it to the statisticians to track the trend lines, but it seems clear that more and more Christians are talking about orphan care, increased numbers of Christians are becoming foster and adoptive parents, and the world is taking notice. Time will tell whether this renewed focus on orphan … [Read more...] about Orphan Care: Trendy Cause or Sustained Movement of God’s People?
Are you pursuing God?
I have a question. Are you pursuing God? I mean really striving after him? That is a question for you whatever your season in life. God’s desire is that we pursue Him and that as a result of that pursuit, we find our joy in Him and Him alone. I’ve been thinking about the different places in life in which several people I know are. Some are facing a time of uncertainty, wondering how the present circumstance they are in will turn out. Some are in a time of suffering, going through a difficult situation because of physical or relational crisis. Some are in a time of transition, seeking God’s … [Read more...] about Are you pursuing God?
“Calvinism” — Breakdowns in Communication
In our ongoing discussions of important issues, one perennial problem is breakdown in communication. An issue where this problem seems to occur often is in our discussions about Calvinism. Just what do we mean when we use the term “Calvinist”? Because the term is used in a variety of ways we often fail to communicate and misunderstanding occurs. Unfortunately, such misunderstanding too often leads to unnecessary division and offense. For positive dialogue on this or any issue, both the speaker and the hearer have a responsibility to strive for understanding. The speaker must communicate … [Read more...] about “Calvinism” — Breakdowns in Communication