Maybe you’ve seen it. The guy is passionate about his football team. When he talks about them, he gushes with praise or bleeds with pain. He is all in! But when it comes to the things of God? Well, a yawn seems to be the leading response.
Reading the book of Acts does not give one the impression that the early church considered Christianity boring. Quite the opposite! Those believers had a passion for the gospel that drove them to purposeful engagement, meaningful worship and great sacrifice. They witnessed everywhere they went. They urged lost people to come to the Lord. They willingly gave their time, energy and even their lives. They were all in!
Here are some thoughts on how Christians today can become more passionate about the right things.
1. Remember who Jesus is and what he has done for you. Nothing affects your passion for the Lord more than Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, faith, passion, Uncategorized
Tagged bible study, Christian, Christianity, devotions, faith, passion, passionate faith, Prayer
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
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Tagged bible, bible reading, bible study, Christianity, devotional life, faith, Prayer
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
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Tagged bible study, Christianity, devotionals, discipleship, faith, life, Prayer, truth
Perhaps the greatest danger for many Christians, churches and ministries is something other than gross immorality or theological liberalism or direct rebellion against the plans of God. Dangerous as these things are, the greatest danger for many followers of Christ is something more insidious. This danger is subtle. It is not so easily recognized. But it just as deadly. This terrible danger is apathy.
Apathy (and her cohort, procrastination) is the Continue reading
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Tagged bible study, Christian, Christianity, Evangelism, faith, godliness, Jesus, passionate faith, Prayer, spiritual disciplines
“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
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Tagged bible, bible study, Christian, Christianity, church, faith, ministry, obedience, teaching
I began reading through the bible at least once every year for more than 25 years now and it has been a great blessing to my life and ministry. Let me suggest 5 reasons why all pastors and bible teachers would benefit from this spiritual discipline.
1. It helps us see the whole story. How does the OT and NT fit together? After 7 or 8 times through the bible you will begin to see that better. I visited my grandmother while in seminary. She was a Sunday School teacher and so she peppered me with questions wanting to better teach her class. I knew some things she didn’t know- Greek and Hebrew and such. But I quickly realized that she knew the bible in a way I didn’t yet because she read it so much. I determined to know the bible like that.
2. It gives us a sense of context. Taking the bible Continue reading
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Tagged bible, bible study, Christian, Christianity, deeper faith, devotional, faith, God, Jesus, scripture, spiritual growth
I’ve given birth to a new book. (Well, it was a different kind of labor than you mothers have.) It is called “30 Days to Acts: A Devotional Commentary”. You can get this devotional book at Amazon. (Just click on the picture.) Merry Christmas!
Posted in books, Christianity, Uncategorized
Tagged bible study, book, Christian, Christianity, devotional, devotional book, faith, God, Jesus, new book, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality
The church where I was saved many years ago just bought 500 copies of my devotional book “Immersed: 40 Days to a Deeper Faith”. They are going to use it for a church wide series beginning the week after Easter. Many churches have used the book that way now, but there is a special connection you have with the church where you gave your life to Christ.
I trusted Christ as my Savior and Lord in the old worship center at Continue reading
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Tagged Baptist, bible, bible study, book, Christian, christian book, Christianity, church, devotional, devotional book, discipleship, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, local church, Religion and Spirituality, southern baptist convention, spiritual growth
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
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Tagged bible, bible study, Christian, Christianity, church, deeper faith, discipleship, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, small groups, spiritual growth, worship, worship attendance
My wife recently posted her 10 most influential books. (She put my books on her list. Danger of nepotism?) So, here is my stab at my most influential. (Not counting my own. Danger of ridicule?) And, I’ve doubled and trebled up to get in some more. And, I’m leaving out some books that ought to get me banned from libraries and sitting rooms as penance.
1. The Bible. I read through the bible every year at least once and have for many years. It is more thrilling to me every year and is the foundation for my faith and my life. It is really 66 books, of course, but I’ll count it as one for this. If you haven’t read it yet, try starting with John and then Acts. Finish the New Testament a couple of times and then read the entire book.
2. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. This is a 7 book set. It is lots of fun to get lost in them. Very easy reading. I love the spiritual connection and the fun. I read them to my children and look forward to reading them to my grandchildren. And, add to this Mere Christianity (Lewis’s best non-fiction, I think) and The Screwtape Letters (tremendous insights into our spiritual battles) by Lewis. A serious Christian thinker not reading Mere Christianity is sort of like a serious student of English novels never reading A Tale of Two Cities–these things ought not to be done.
3. Trilogy of the Civil War by Shelby Foote. These three Continue reading
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Tagged bible, bible study, book, Christian, Christianity, deeper faith, devotional book, discipleship, God, Immersed, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, revival, spiritual awakening, spiritual growth