Category Archives: discipleship

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

The Immersed Connection

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

Recommendations for the Next President of the International Mission Board

   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

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!

What Education Can’t Do

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

The Heart of the Matter

I have treasured Your Word in my heart so that I may not sin against You.   Psalm 119:11

Your heart is critical…

…A friend of mine told me about preaching on the back of a flatbed truck next to Red Square in Moscow some years ago.  The communist government had just fallen and many people there were searching for meaning and purpose.  My friend was put on the back of the truck, given a microphone, and told to preach to the walking masses through a translator. Continue reading

High Dives and Discipleship

   I still remember my first time jumping off the high dive.

   In the summertime I spent a lot of afternoons at the community pool in my small town.  Most of my time was spent in the shallow end, splashing and playing with my brothers and friends.  I watched other kids jumping off the diving boards at the deep end of the pool.  It seemed fun and exciting, but too scary for me.

   As the summer progressed, I thought more and more about what it would be like to overcome my fears and worries and plunge into the deep, blue water of the deep end.  I even walked by that area of the pool a few times to calculate the possibilities.  The deep water was so inviting, yet I was so frightened to plunge in.

   Finally, I could take it no longer. Continue reading