Growing up, I said the Our Father prayer a lot.
A lot. Multiple times a day.
It was part of my religious tradition. Most of the time, I mumbled it as quickly as I could.
For what it’s worth, my Dad tried to help me understand that mumbling the prayer without understanding what it really meant wasn’t the goal. He wanted me to understand it. He wanted me to mean it.
I remember sitting with him in the car one afternoon while we went through every phrase. He did his best to explain to me what the terms meant. Why we would say these things. Why it mattered.
It didn’t take. Continue reading
Some jobs are more dangerous than others. Certain risks are associated with various professions. By most standards, pastors have a pretty cushy job.
At least we do in the United States.
But even in this modern American context there is a real danger for pastors. For all Christians, really. Few are talking about it. Most don’t even know it’s a danger.
But it’s there. Always lurking. It’s a hazard that many fall into. It seems that many don’t even realize they’ve fallen into the trap.
This occupational hazard is related to pride. It’s a symptom of our modern church systems. It can only be fixed by returning to a robust theology of the church and focusing our attention back where it belongs.
So, what is the danger? Continue reading
When I was a kid I gave my mom a lot of grief. I was angry, argumentative, and full of energy. Every parent’s dream.
I remember one particularly difficult day. I was acting out. My mom was exasperated. But it was all about to change. Peace was right around the corner.
My mom grabbed the phone off the wall. (Back then it was attached to the wall with a long, curly cord.) She shook the receiver at me and angrily asked me point-blank: “Do you want me to call Santa Claus and tell him how you’re acting?”
Let’s all settle down for a minute. Let’s not do anything rash. Let’s not do anything we’ll regret or that can’t be undone.
No. Clearly I do not want you to call Santa Claus.
I’ll be good. I swear. Put. The. Phone. Down.
I believed she had the ability to fulfill her threat in that moment. I didn’t even think to call her bluff. I never asked if she really had his number. It seemed to me at the time like the kind of thing adults could do. I believed. And I changed. At least, temporarily.
Our family is memorizing the book of James together.
As a parent, I’m delighted to hear my children recite the words of Scripture each week. The older kids are doing a great job. It is easier for some than for others. All of them are putting in the time required to learn.
The younger kids are also participating by hearing us recite what we’ve learned. They, too, can recite big chunks of Scripture that they’ve memorized simply by hearing their siblings and parents practice. It’s not required for them but it is adorable.
As a Christian, the practice of memorizing Scripture is always fruitful. Hiding God’s Word in your heart and meditating on it day and night has wonderful implications for your character and formation into Christ’s likeness. I’ll never stop being amazed at how often the passages we’ve memorized become immediately relevant to daily life and interactions.
Part of our memory section this week is James 1:21-22.
Following Jesus can be hard.
That’s the truth.
The Scripture tells us how to find the strength to carry on. We need to consider Jesus so we won’t grow weary and lose heart.
Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3, Bold added)
As I consider Jesus and the hostility He endured it gives me strength to do the same. Three events stand out the most to me. I pray they will encourage your heart as you consider Jesus and run your race today. Continue reading
(This post originally appeared on Fourth Year Ministries blog)
I’ve been exposed to a lot of church growth books and materials over the years. I’ve seen programs, systems, agendas, theories, and campaigns.
A question we must wrestle with is how do we measure success?
Perhaps you’re expecting me to diminish a focus on numbers and reaching the multitudes and emphasize spiritual factors that are harder to quantify. Things like spiritual maturity and growth in Christ’s likeness.
Actually, I’m not suggesting that we focus on or emphasize either to the neglect of the other.
If the Bible recorded your life story how would it describe you?
David is described as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14). Joseph, Mary’s husband, is simply described as a righteous man (Matthew 1:19).
Nabal lived up to his name which simply means “fool” (1 Samuel 25:25).
So how would the Bible describe you if your life was recorded in its pages? Continue reading
Another Easter Sunday come and gone. Next Sunday almost everything will be back to normal. Attendance will shrink back. Extra services will be stored away until Mother’s Day and/or Christmas.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Maybe it won’t always be.
We can’t change our culture in an instant. We also can’t make other people’s choices for them. That’s a fool’s errand.
What we can do is examine our own choices, attitudes, and actions. We can – by the grace of God – be changed. With that in mind I want to invite you to celebrate Resurrection Monday.
No, it’s not a new holiday I invented. I won’t try to sell you candy, gifts, cards, decorations for your home, or any other such thing. Continue reading
One of my priorities as a Dad is to help my children learn to walk. I take this seriously. Our sixth child walked the earliest so far. She was walking one day before she was 9 months old.
We’ll see if I can have our seventh walking before that.
My wife doesn’t always share my enthusiasm. With so many young children in the house it can be nice to have a few that are limited in their mobility.
However, I figure they’ll never move out if they can’t walk on their own. Might as well get started as soon as we can. (I’m mostly kidding.)
I want my children to grow to maturity. I enjoy helping them take their first steps. I also enjoy watching the momentum build as they grow more and more into who God designed them to be.
This is true in my household. Also in the household of faith.
I always enjoy seeing how different movies characterize John the Baptist. In the portrayals I’ve seen he usually looks like a wild-eyed lunatic.
I get it. He lived in the desert. He ate bugs and honey. He wore a belt.
None of this means he lived like a crazy person.
No doubt John was a bit eccentric. Jesus had pretty high praise for John, though.
I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. (Matthew 11:11a NET)
There are many noteworthy characteristics in John’s life and ministry. However, one always stands out to me. And it wasn’t that he ate honey or that he wore a belt. Continue reading