A Determined Heart

“Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra 7:10

This verse first jumped out at me while in college. I underlined it in my devotional reading (A habit I still employ) and used it to teach children’s church (I still apply my  sermons to children- and to immature adults). It has been meaningful to me and perhaps you will find it to be that for you.

Note that Ezra “determined in his heart” to do three things. That is, these are the commitments that Ezra made and actions he vowed to take. Perhaps you might make the same determination in  your heart.

First, Ezra determined Continue reading

Less Whining, More Praying

It is a simple goal boiled down to a sound bite. Simple, but profound. “Less whining, more praying.”

I want my future to have less and more. I want less whining, less complaining and less caterwauling. I want less grumpiness, irritability and fussiness. But, I want my future to have more and more of one thing: prayer.

Here are three reasons to join me in this goal.

Praying is more Christlike than whining. We are not very Christlike when we whine. Complaining is not a spiritual gift. (I just checked again. It isn’t in the list of spiritual gifts. Really, I checked this quite thoroughly!) Continue reading

Old Pastors and Those Who Will Be

I saw an old pastor friend recently. I don’t know exactly when you should start calling a pastor “old” but he was well past his 80th birthday, so I guess he qualifies. He retired from the full-time pastorate some years ago due to health but remains busy as an interim pastor and preaches frequently in those in between times. And he is doing great work for the kingdom.

I want to suggest that our old pastors have great value for our generation. And, I suggest that our younger pastors would do well to get to know, love and appreciate some older pastors–before they get there themselves!

Here are some reasons young ministers- and the church as a whole- should value our older ministers and Continue reading

Learning from the Past

Our church just recognized our sesquicentennial. That is a dandy of a word that means we were formed 150 years ago. By the standards of Europe it isn’t so much, but Illinois isn’t Europe. So, a sesquicentennial (that really is a dandy of a word!) is not as common here.

150 years ago, First Baptist Church of O’Fallon, IL was formed at what was then just a small railroad stop. Over the years we have had some ups and downs. The church nearly closed in 1973. But for the last 40 plus years the church has grown steadily and has become a rather large congregation.

We aren’t perfect as we are made up of people. We have had imperfect leaders as they, too, have been people. But God has had his hand on this congregation and has blessed the church in ways that are difficult to explain apart from God.

Since I’ve been more immersed in our history than usual, I want to reflect on some lessons we have learned Continue reading

Why I Have a Patriotic Worship Service

I love the patriotic worship service our church has each 4th of July Sunday. I would not have thought that to be a controversial statement a few years ago but some theologs suggest this to be a bad thing. I hear them out, but disagree. In fact, some seem to have a wrong idea about what goes on at these events. So, right in the dead of winter, when picnics seem distant, let me suggest some food for thought (that picnic thing got me food focused).

What we don’t do.

We don’t worship our country. We have only Continue reading

Servant Leadership

Dictators make poor role models for Christian leadership. Oh, they get things done. Their orders get followed– or else. But they are not the example for what God wants for pastors, teachers, parents or any others who aspire to lead like Jesus.

The cautionary story of Rehoboam in I Kings 12 serves as a reminder that dictatorship is a poor replacement for true servant leadership. Remember the advice given him by his wisest, most experienced counselors? “If you will Continue reading

The Best And Worst of Christmas

My favorite opening line to a novel is “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” (Followed closely by, “It was a dark and stormy night.”) Christmas can be the best and worst of times.

We see the greatest examples of generosity at Christmas and terrible, soul-stifling stinginess.

We see acts of forgiveness and deeply rooted bitterness at slights of years gone by.

Christmastime leads to great joy and happiness and fits of road rage and public meltdowns.

Many people celebrate Continue reading