Category Archives: bible

Growing Spiritually

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

Northern Southern Baptists

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

Why I Trust the Bible

   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

Why I’m Not More Evangelistic

Recently, I was standing outside of a restaurant waiting for my bride. (Sometimes we husbands must do that.) I was alone except for an employee of the establishment. He said “Hi” and I responded with the same. Then it dawned on me. Perhaps the Lord would have me talk with this man about His love.

I spoke to the man and he responded in a way that suggested he was eager to talk. I told him I was a Baptist pastor and he seemed surprised. The older, fatter and balder I get, the less surprised he will be. ¬†ūüôā

Then I asked him a question. “Do you know what Baptists believe?” ¬†“No,” he said. ¬†“What do they believe?” ¬†I used that opportunity to tell him Continue reading

The Segregation of the Church

There are so many ways to divide the church. Our past has often included division by race. I am glad to see that changing. I love that my church has people of different backgrounds and races. Heaven will certainly include people of every tribe and tongue.
Segregation by race has been accepted and justified by the homogenous growth principle. That is the principle that people tend to come to Christ through churches that are much like they are. But isn’t the ideal something better than churches that are segregated by race?
Today’s churches have a new way to divide.¬† They¬†are often segregated by age. Continue reading

What a Good Sermon Does

There is some bad preaching out there. ¬†There are sermons that are theological swamp lands and others too boring for the strongest caffeinated drinks. ¬†Some sermons chase rabbits like a hound; others skirt the text like a ballerina. ¬†Preacher, please don’t mislead me or confuse me or, heaven forbid, bore me with this great message.

I’ve been preaching most of my life- 25 years off, 28 years on. At the risk of opening myself to clever comments from amateur comedians who hear my sermons, let me tell you what a good sermon ought to do.

1. A good sermon informs. A good sermon tells us the truth. It teach us God’s word. ¬†That should go unsaid, but because it too often goes undone, it needs saying. ¬†Preacher, tell us what God says, not just what you think. ¬†Tell us what we need, not just what we like or want. ¬†Teach us the bible. ¬†Tell us what God wants us to know. ¬†This is an irreplaceable part of good preaching, but it isn’t enough.

2.  A good sermon inspires.  A good sermon tells us the truth in a way that moves our emotion as well as informs our logic.  It touches our spirit as well as our mind.  Preacher, use a story once in a while.  The bible is full of them.  Use some illustrations.  They grab our attention and they help us to see the truth in a different way.  Preach with some passion and stir us to greater things.

3. ¬†A good sermon implements. ¬†A good sermon applies the text to our lives. ¬†It doesn’t leave us in theory, but connects God’s word to our practical world. ¬†Preacher, answer the question “So what?” ¬†Tell us why we need to know God is the creator. ¬†Tell us why it matters that we understand what grace is. ¬†Move us to action. ¬†Move us to change. ¬†We need to see that God’s word is relevant to our lives.

4. ¬†A good sermon invites. ¬†A good sermon invites us to trust Christ as Savior and to follow Him as Lord. ¬†It invites us on this great journey of faith. ¬†It calls us to decision as it confronts us with the truth. ¬†There is an invitation to something greater and deeper and more real. ¬†Preacher, don’t be satisfied for us to know the truth. ¬†Call us with everything you have to follow the Truth with everything we have.

Excuse me now. ¬†I’ve got to work on my sermon for this weekend. ¬†This needs to be a good one. ¬†Hey, even a pig can grub up a diamond every once in a while!