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
I’ve practiced daily devotions for many years now. I spend some time each day (mornings usually work best for me) reading my bible and praying. I read a certain number of chapters of the bible underlining as I go. I spend time praying by praising and thanking God, confessing sin, asking for my needs and praying for the needs of others.
I will tell you that sometimes I don’t feel much like doing that. But feelings are terribly fickle. I rarely feel like exercising or eating healthy or all kinds of things that need to be done. I like the phrase “spiritual disciplines”. I am to discipline myself in my devotional life.
But I will also tell you that feelings often follow discipline. I am glad I exercise and eat right when I do. And I feel especially glad that I regularly spend time in the word and in prayer. The longer I’ve practiced daily devotionals the more I’ve recognized their benefits.
Here are some reasons to value the practice of a devotional life. Continue reading
Posted in bible, bible study, Christianity, discipleship, prayer, Uncategorized
Tagged bible study, Christianity, devotionals, discipleship, faith, life, Prayer, truth
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
Books can have a deep connection with us. I love my connection with books and authors that have been meaningful in my life.
I recently preached in Atlanta in a church that had used my book “Immersed: 40 Days to a Deeper Faith” church-wide. Most of them had read each chapter of the book for 40 straight days, discussed it in their small groups and there was even a sermon series connected to it.
Because of that, we had a special connection- an ‘Immersed connection’. Men and women, teenagers, even some kids Continue reading
Posted in books, Christianity, discipleship, faith, Uncategorized
Tagged bible study, book, Christian, christian book, Christianity, devotional, devotional book, discipleship, faith, God, Jesus, new book, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality
Perhaps the most important decision that will be made in the Southern Baptist Convention for years to come is the choice of the next president of the IMB. I say that, not because he will be so critical to the success of the IMB (generally speaking, we need less of man and more of God in our workings anyway), but because a poor choice would be disastrous for the convention.
So, here is my advice- offered freely, and worth about what you are paying- to the next IMB president.
I would like you to focus on 3 things and start one massive new project.
1. Focus on making the IMB effective. You should be a big picture guy. Help the organization reach the unreached and unengaged groups while mobilizing areas where the harvest is ripe. Keep our focus on disciple-making. Help us focus on starting churches that can be led by nationals. Draw our attention to evangelism that moves towards discipleship. You don’t have to be chase fads- we’d rather you not. But do consider innovations that Continue reading
Posted in baptist, Christianity, Church, discipleship, evangelism, International Mission Board, missions, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christian, Christianity, discipleship, Evangelism, faith, God, IMB, International Mission Board, Jesus, missions, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, southern baptist convention
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!
Posted in baptist, bible, Christianity, Church, discipleship, evangelism, preaching, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, bible, bible study, Christ, Christian, Christianity, church, evangelical, Jesus, preaching, Religion and Spirituality, sermons, worship
I spent a lot of time getting educated. Perhaps I needed more of it than most? I am so thankful for my educational opportunities and commend education to you. But let me note some inherent limitations.
1. Education doesn’t make you wise. My favorite definition of wisdom is “seeing things as God sees them.” Education can make you smart, but that isn’t the same as making you wise. Want some tuition-free advice? Seek wisdom. (See the book of Proverbs for additional tuition-free advice on the importance of wisdom.)
2. Education doesn’t make you godly. Godliness–seeking to be Continue reading
Posted in baptist, Christianity, Church, discipleship, education, faith, Uncategorized
Tagged Christianity, discipleship, education, faith, pastor, seminary