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
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?”
Posted in attitude, encouragement, faith, men, Uncategorized
Tagged aging, Christianity, faith, forgiveness, kindness, life, love, men
Years ago, I was the guest preacher at a small church in another state. Wanting to set a good example, I decided to attend the only adult small group bible study class they had on that Sunday morning. (It was called Sunday School then, but you might call yours a Life group or some other name.) What an eye-opening experience it was for me!
The class was just beginning as I popped in. No one greeted me in any meaningful way. (They didn’t yet know I was the guest preacher!) The teacher did ask my name, though she didn’t bother to find out anything else about me. Class started with the teacher complaining about how similar the lesson was to the lessons from previous weeks. She seemed bored by the subject and disinterested in her class members. With as little enthusiasm as a teenage boy forced to clean his room on a Saturday morning, she taught our class that day.
Class was boring, lifeless and ineffective. It was all I could do to stay awake myself! Class Continue reading
Posted in faith, servant leadership, Christian leadership, small groups, Sunday School, teaching, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, faith, teaching, truth
Though I have shared the gospel message many times, I can still be afraid to share my faith with others. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that fear. I’ve heard many others express that same anxiety. Here are some reasons we might be afraid to share our faith and what to do Continue reading
Harvard University does not single out many Baptist preachers for honorary degrees. But in 1852, they did such for a Baptist preacher and missionary named John Mason Peck. Let me tell you a little of the story of this fascinating man in the hopes that his life will inspire you to leave a similar legacy and impact.
John Mason Peck (1789-1858) lived in Connecticut and New York state in his early years. He heard the message of the gospel and was saved while young. Personal study of the bible led him to leave the Congregationalist church over the issue of infant baptism and become a Baptist– despite the arguments of his pastor, Lyman Beecher.
Peck grew deeply in his faith and felt a call to preach. Time spent with Luther Rice led him to a deep interest in missionary work “out west”. So Peck loaded Continue reading
Posted in baptism, baptist, bible, Christianity, Church, faith, John Mason Peck, history, racial unity, Uncategorized
Tagged baptist history, Christianity, Church planting, faith, history, John Mason Peck, misions, pastors
A disappointing conversation reminded me that some problems never fully go away.
I recently spoke to an older pastor. Now I love older pastors. They have some experience and wisdom from which I can benefit. And, they can make me feel young– a sensation that doesn’t happen as often as it once did!
But this conversation was not so edifying. It served more as a warning. In the course of our conversation he said that not all of the bible is God’s word. Some of it is, but some of it isn’t. Some of it, he felt, was just some cultural baggage Continue reading