Perhaps the greatest danger for many Christians, churches and ministries is something other than gross immorality or theological liberalism or direct rebellion against the plans of God. Dangerous as these things are, the greatest danger for many followers of Christ is something more insidious. This danger is subtle. It is not so easily recognized. But it just as deadly. This terrible danger is apathy.
Apathy (and her cohort, procrastination) is the Continue reading
Posted in bible study, Christianity, Church, evangelism, passion, prayer, Uncategorized
Tagged bible study, Christian, Christianity, Evangelism, faith, godliness, Jesus, passionate faith, Prayer, spiritual disciplines
“Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra 7:10
This verse first jumped out at me while in college. I underlined it in my devotional reading (A habit I still employ) and used it to teach children’s church (I still apply my sermons to children- and to immature adults). It has been meaningful to me and perhaps you will find it to be that for you.
Note that Ezra “determined in his heart” to do three things. That is, these are the commitments that Ezra made and actions he vowed to take. Perhaps you might make the same determination in your heart.
First, Ezra determined Continue reading
Posted in bible, bible study, prayer, small groups, Sunday School, teaching, theology, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, bible study, Christian, Christianity, church, faith, ministry, obedience, teaching
I began reading through the bible at least once every year for more than 25 years now and it has been a great blessing to my life and ministry. Let me suggest 5 reasons why all pastors and bible teachers would benefit from this spiritual discipline.
1. It helps us see the whole story. How does the OT and NT fit together? After 7 or 8 times through the bible you will begin to see that better. I visited my grandmother while in seminary. She was a Sunday School teacher and so she peppered me with questions wanting to better teach her class. I knew some things she didn’t know- Greek and Hebrew and such. But I quickly realized that she knew the bible in a way I didn’t yet because she read it so much. I determined to know the bible like that.
2. It gives us a sense of context. Taking the bible Continue reading
Posted in bible, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, bible study, Christian, Christianity, deeper faith, devotional, faith, God, Jesus, scripture, spiritual growth
I’ve read a couple of books recently that taught me more about the life of J.P. Morgan, the famous banker. I didn’t know much about his life and work but he was among the most powerful men in the world for a time. He had great wealth, incredible influence and a massive art collection.
There was one thing that really surprised me about the man. He was Continue reading
Posted in bible, Christianity, Church, theology, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, book, Christian, Christianity, church, denomination, faith, God, Jesus, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality, theology
If you want to grow deeper in your Christian faith I recommend the following.
1. Read big chunks of the bible. Read the entire bible for yourself several times. It will take several times through to really begin to put it all together and see the big picture well- but it will be worth it.
2. Memorize some scripture verses. Be strict about it (best said with a German accent- roll the “r” on “strict”). Get it exactly right, word for word. This will force you to really know the verse.
3. Pray all the time. That is, pray every time you think about it. Have an attitude of prayer.
4. Pray systematically. Pray for specific Continue reading
Posted in bible, Christianity, discipleship, prayer, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, bible study, Christian, Christianity, church, deeper faith, discipleship, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, small groups, spiritual growth, worship, worship attendance
I am a Northern Southern Baptist (NSB). That makes me sound “directionally challenged” I know. But I was born this way.
I grew up here in Illinois as a Southern Baptist. My grandfather and father were saved (they recognized they were sinners, repented and placed their faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection and were forgiven by Him) back in the 1930’s in a Southern Baptist church here in Illinois. So, they became NSBs. Did you know there were NSBs that long ago? I was raised in Illinois where my father was a bi-vocational pastor. Hence, I was an NSB.
After 14 years in the beautiful land of Texas where I attended seminary and was a pastor, I came back to Illinois to pastor 19 years ago. I am an NSB.
There are three things I want you- especially the larger Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) world- to know about NSBs.
1. There are more of us than you might know. My state convention is called the Illinois Baptist State Association and we have about 1,000 churches. Many of them are small, and that is a lot less than southern states with much smaller populations, but there are more of us than you might have known. Many NSB churches started as “southern clubs” as southerners moved to the north for jobs. However, they were usually very serious about the gospel and found themselves reaching folks who weren’t from the south. Some transitioned into NSB churches with the strong theology of the SBC, but culturally connected with their neighbors in the north. If they remained southern in mindset they tended to decline as the inflow of southern transplants slowed. If they became NSBs, they often did very well.
There are some strong NSB churches. The church Continue reading
Posted in baptist, bible, Christianity, Church, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Baptist Associations, bible, Christian, Christianity, church, faith, Fred Luter, God, Illinois Baptist State Association, International Mission Board, Jesus, North American Mission Board, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, southern baptist convention
I trust the bible. I believe it to be true and correct and right. I don’t strain out the concepts of inerrancy and infallibility. Here are a few reasons why.
1. I know the Author. The bible makes a bold claim to be authored by God. We can say the bible is authored by men under the supernatural guidance of God. I believe that. God used men, but He is the ultimate author. And the closer I am to Him, the more I recognize His word. I hear His voice as I read His word. When my wife calls me I know it is her. I know her voice. (And, I have caller ID.) The closer I am to God, the better I recognize His voice.
2. It stands the test of scholarship. Continue reading