I moved several times as a boy and, I’ve got to say, it wasn’t much fun. Each time I had to overcome old fears, break down unseen barriers and make new friends. I never liked that feeling of being an outsider. I haven’t forgotten how that felt to my tender young soul. But it taught me some lessons that have been valuable to me in helping to connect with guests at church.
Visiting a church can be awkward for a first time guest. They don’t know the people, the customs or the expectations. They can feel nervous, intimidated or ignored. They might not even yet know the message of the gospel. But having people at church who purposely connect with them can make a real and lasting difference.
Here are some tips to help church members learn to connect with guests who visit your church.
1. Talk to people you don’t know. Church member, this is the Continue reading →
I was a young, energetic high school freshman football player. All enthusiasm, no experience. We were punting and I was running downfield to cover the punt, foolishly looking up to see where the ball was. Wham! I was knocked flat by an opposing player rudely taking advantage of my vulnerable state.
Know what I did next? Well, first I rolled around on the ground trying to get my bearings and calling out for my mother. But, eventually, I did what every football player must do at times. I got back up.
Football players aren’t the only ones who get Continue reading →
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’m on my way to becoming an old man. I don’t think I’ve gotten to the “Old Man Stage” yet, but I’ve probably lived a full one-third of my life. (I’m 57. You do the math and see what you think!) Regardless of how long I live, I’m certainly on my way. And it has me thinking about the kind of old man I want to be.
Having known my share of grumpy, contrary and ornery old rascals, I can say with some assurance that their path doesn’t look appealing. In their wake lies a slew of hurt feelings, broken relationships and angry interactions. They don’t like other people. They don’t even like themselves. Their countenance screams, “Get off my lawn!” Unappealing indeed.
On the other hand, I’ve seen some of the sweetest, kindest and most pleasant older men imaginable. I like the looks of their path. They seem to be having a great time despite the difficulties that come with old age. They laugh a lot, have plenty of friends and inspire others. Their countenance beckons, “What can I do for you?”
Continue reading →
Posted in attitude, encouragement, faith, men, Uncategorized
Tagged aging, Christianity, faith, forgiveness, kindness, life, love, men
“Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5
So much of behavior begins with attitude. If you have a wrong attitude it will likely result in wrong behavior. And, conversely, if your attitude is right you are likely to get to the right actions.
I’ve tried to teach this lesson to my children and now to my grandchildren. I am working to help my church see this. And, I’m especially trying to get myself to see this truth. Attitude matters.
Here are two important lessons I want to teach myself and others about attitudes. Both come from this beautiful verse found in Philippians 2:5, “Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus.”
1.Your attitude is a decision. Attitudes, like actions, come out of your own choices. The bible tells us to “adopt” the attitude that Jesus has. I love the word “adoption”. Our family is in the process of adopting even now. Adopting a child means that a child who was once not part of your family now is part of your family. You choose to adopt a child and the status changes. Continue reading →
Posted in attitude, Christianity, encouragement, faith, humility, Uncategorized
Tagged attitude, Christianity, faith, family, life, ministry
“Demas has deserted me.” 2 Timothy 4:10.
I am curious about this biblical character, Demas. His name is only mentioned three times in the New Testament. But there is intrigue and mystery and disappointment surrounding him. What happened? Where did it go wrong?
Demas is mentioned in Philemon 24. Paul mentions him along with other, more prominent names like Mark and Luke. He is one of those Paul calls a “coworker.” It suggests Demas traveled with Paul, shared the gospel with Paul and planted churches with Paul. It leads us to believe that he started well in ministry and made a valuable contribution to the kingdom of God.
Colossians 4:14 says, “Luke, the dearly loved physician, and Demas send you greetings.” It seems just a bit odd Continue reading →
Posted in bible, Christianity, encouragement, faith, minister, minister burnout, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, Christianity, faith, ministry, service
I’m finishing preaching a series of messages through the book of Colossians. What a great book of the bible! The last chapter tells the names of many who are obscure to all but the most ardent of bible scholars. There are mentions of people like Tychicus and Aristarchus and even the only mention of a man named Jesus who is called Justus. (Talk about a tough name to live up to!)
These verses, and other places with similar lists, remind us that the bible is filled with the names of people who are not so well-known. You may know about Paul and David and Moses, but perhaps not about Benaiah or Epaphras or Ehud the left-handed Benjaminite. Those names Continue reading →
Posted in bible, encouragement, preaching, servant leadership, Christian leadership, teaching, Uncategorized
Tagged Christianity, church, faith, God, ministry, service
Pastors struggle to have deep and meaningful friendships. Note the words “deep and meaningful”. Most pastors would say they have lots of friends but often they are more shallow than deep and more superficial than meaningful. There are reasons for that. Deeper friendships can be betrayed. Deeper friendships take effort. Deeper friendships can cause jealousy. Lots of reasons.
I recently finished a Continue reading →
Posted in books, encouragement, friendship, pastor, Uncategorized
Tagged book, Christian, Christianity, encouragement, friendship, God, ministers, ministry, pastor, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality
A series of seven blogs on the Southern Baptist Convention? I’m not sure many will read one and I’m doing seven? Well, hope springs eternal in the blogger’s heart. These are seven areas or people that I think need some special attention and encouragement in the years ahead- seven areas that I want to encourage especially.
#1. I want to encourage Cooperative Mission and support for the Cooperative Program.
I love missions of all sort. I’m not against societal missions in any way. But I do think our denomination’s method of cooperative missions with the International Mission Board has a special brilliance. Missionary Continue reading →
Posted in baptist, cooperative program, encouragement, International Mission Board, southern baptist convention, Uncategorized
Tagged Baptist, Christianity, IMB, International Mission Board, missions, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, southern baptist convention
Encouragement is one of the most beautiful gifts we can receive. A kind word, a helping hand, a warm smile, an appreciative hug– these things are the currency of encouragement. And this currency is never devalued.
I officiated the funeral of a great encourager recently. In more than twenty years of being his pastor he encouraged me countless times without a single hint of discouragement. Amazing.
I cannot tell you how grateful I am for that wonderful gift. In a day when snark Continue reading →
Posted in blessings, encouragement, faith, joy, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, encouragement, faith, God, Jesus, local church, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality