Hope is a powerful thing.
Without it, we sink into a chasm of despair and depression. But with it, we can overcome the most difficult and challenging circumstances of life.
And Christians have hope. Not wishful thinking hope. Not blind optimism hope. Not ignoring reality hope. Christians have genuine, God-given, obstacle-overcoming hope that comes from the throne room of heaven itself.
To the believers in Rome facing threats and problems, Paul spoke of hope. Though he himself dealt with persecution, trials and poverty, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write words of hope.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
There is hope in this fallen world. There is hope for your life and future. There is hope for our churches in these uncertain times.
Here are three reasons Continue reading
Here are some of my general thoughts on politics and the Christian. Maybe they will help you think clearly about this important, but divisive, subject.
1. Politics is a privilege. What a privilege it is for us to be able to speak, participate and vote. Freedom is a great gift and ought not be taken for granted. Many parts of our world have little freedom and those living in the United States (and other countries who enjoy these freedoms) should be grateful for this treasure. Christians should be at the forefront of participating in our political process and doing all we can to help our nation go in the right direction. And, remember on occasion to Continue reading
One of the most important jobs of Christian leaders is to ask people to do the hard things they don’t want to do. We ask people to take the narrow, uphill road when it is easier to go down. We ask them to die to self when it is easier to live for self. We ask them to give, serve and sacrifice though none of those things come easily.
Following Jesus is not about taking the easy road. It is about doing the right thing even though that is often the more difficult thing. If we are asking people to follow Jesus, we are asking them to take the harder path.
There is a reason we ask people to do the hard things. Not only do we ask them to do it because it is right. But we also know it is in their best interest to do so. Continue reading
Maybe you’ve seen it. The guy is passionate about his football team. When he talks about them, he gushes with praise or bleeds with pain. He is all in! But when it comes to the things of God? Well, a yawn seems to be the leading response.
Reading the book of Acts does not give one the impression that the early church considered Christianity boring. Quite the opposite! Those believers had a passion for the gospel that drove them to purposeful engagement, meaningful worship and great sacrifice. They witnessed everywhere they went. They urged lost people to come to the Lord. They willingly gave their time, energy and even their lives. They were all in!
Here are some thoughts on how Christians today can become more passionate about the right things.
1. Remember who Jesus is and what he has done for you. Nothing affects your passion for the Lord more than Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, faith, passion, Uncategorized
Tagged bible study, Christian, Christianity, devotions, faith, passion, passionate faith, Prayer
Let’s face it. If discipleship was simply finding and following a program, the discipleship dilemma would have been solved long ago. Programs we have. Effective disciplemaking? Not so much.
I appreciate the role of programs in discipleship. They provide needed resources and helpful direction. They can point us down the right path and keep us from theological ditches. But discipleship takes more than a program. Authentic, life changing discipleship needs relationships.
Jesus spent time with people. In particular, he spent time with the 12 disciples. He taught them. He modeled proper behavior for them. He challenged them. Jesus even rebuked them where necessary. His discipleship course was the course of his life lived together with these men.
Perhaps we should see discipleship more like this. It is best done through relationships with other followers of our Lord. Stronger Christ followers helping other Christ followers live the life of Christ could become our model. We could begin to see discipleship as being done best through relationships rather than programs. Programs can be a tool, but relationships are the means.
Here are three reasons to see relationships as more important than programs in discipleship.
1. We need examples. Information Continue reading
Perhaps you have noticed that your local church isn’t perfect. If you haven’t, many people will be happy to point that out to you. The lost world, disgruntled former members and even much of contemporary Christian culture delights in pointing out the many flaws and warts of the church. And, let’s face it, the church has earned portions of her criticism.
Some local churches have accepted or condoned aberrant theology, ungodly behavior and unbiblical practices. I would never ask you to connect with churches that willingly disobey God and his word. But what about the church that is trying but failing? What about that local church that wants to follow God fully but never fully succeeds?
Why in the world should Christians join local churches that are messed up and lacking? Why give, serve and worship in places that are so obviously flawed? Here are some reasons for you to connect with imperfect local churches. Continue reading
Few practices have blessed my life and ministry as greatly as my long time practice of reading the entire bible at least once each year. Of course, as a vocational pastor, I have some obvious advantages in doing so. If I am reading the bible at church, people say, “Don’t bother Pastor Doug!” If you are in bivocational ministry (God bless you and may your tribe increase!) or your ministry is not part of your vocation (How thankful I am for your willingness to serve faithfully as a volunteer!), you probably won’t have that advantage.
One other caveat. If you haven’t read through the New Testament (NT) fully, start there. Read it all the way through several times before going to the more daunting assignment of reading the entire Old Testament. I have sometimes used a reading plan to read the NT in one month (You can find 30 day plans online). After several times through the NT you are ready to read the entire 66 books of the bible.
Here are some reasons I read through the entire bible each year. Continue reading
Posted in bible, bible study, Christianity, devotional life, faith, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, bible reading, bible study, Christianity, devotional life, faith, Prayer
The essence of discipleship is found in Jesus’ words, “Follow me.” Can’t you just picture him calling out to Peter and Andrew and James and John, “Follow me!” He didn’t tell them where they would go or what they would see. He just called them to stay close to him, to walk with him and to be with him.
Discipleship is, of course, more than attending church services. It is more than keeping the rules. At its heart, discipleship is following the Lord. It is staying close to Jesus.
Following Jesus means we live like Continue reading
We need heroes. Of course, the true hero of our story should always be the Lord Jesus. No earthly hero can do what he did or give what he gave. But there is something to be said for the example of a fellow sinner who has followed the Lord in a way we can emulate.
Paul said, “Imitate me, as I also imitate Christ.” I Cor. 11:1 He served the church of Corinth as an example of a sinner following the Savior. He was a model, an example- a hero if you will- for other Christians to follow. He reminded them to follow him only as he followed Jesus. But he showed them how it was done in the real world by a real sinner who was following a real Savior.
Career missionaries serve as models for Christians back home. They might not like the tag “hero” but Continue reading
The president of the International Mission Board (IMB) is, I believe, the most important post in the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). With news that David Platt is stepping down, the SBC will be looking for the next person to fill that critical role. More than anything we need to pray for wisdom and to find God’s man for this time. With that said, here are my thoughts on the kind of person we need to lead us.
We need a unifier. Perhaps no agency has the potential to unite the SBC as does the IMB. The mission of reaching the world for Christ requires and ignites unity. We can unite around this mission whether young or old, traditionalist or Calvinist, Alabama or Illinois fan. (There are only 10 of us Illinois fans in the SBC but I just like to put our name in there with Bama!)
The mission is not all that unites us. We are also united by Continue reading
Posted in baptist, Christianity, International Mission Board, missionaries, missions, sbc, southern baptist convention, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, Evangelism, International Mission Board, missions, southern baptist convention