Hope is a powerful thing.
Without it, we sink into a chasm of despair and depression. But with it, we can overcome the most difficult and challenging circumstances of life.
And Christians have hope. Not wishful thinking hope. Not blind optimism hope. Not ignoring reality hope. Christians have genuine, God-given, obstacle-overcoming hope that comes from the throne room of heaven itself.
To the believers in Rome facing threats and problems, Paul spoke of hope. Though he himself dealt with persecution, trials and poverty, Paul was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write words of hope.
“Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13
There is hope in this fallen world. There is hope for your life and future. There is hope for our churches in these uncertain times.
Here are three reasons Continue reading
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
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
“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
“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
Posted in bible, bible study, prayer, small groups, Sunday School, teaching, theology, Uncategorized
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
Posted in bible, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, bible study, Christian, Christianity, deeper faith, devotional, faith, God, Jesus, scripture, spiritual growth
I’ve read a couple of books recently that taught me more about the life of J.P. Morgan, the famous banker. I didn’t know much about his life and work but he was among the most powerful men in the world for a time. He had great wealth, incredible influence and a massive art collection.
There was one thing that really surprised me about the man. He was Continue reading
Posted in bible, Christianity, Church, theology, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, book, Christian, Christianity, church, denomination, faith, God, Jesus, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality, theology
A friend of mine advises pessimism so that life is full of pleasant surprises. (Doesn’t that sort of defeat the point?) But I can’t help myself. I am hopelessly hopeful. (And I like a good oxymoron on occasion.)
When it comes to the Southern Baptist Convention we can certainly point to difficult challenges- and I have. But, there are many reasons to be “hopelessly hopeful” about our convention and I want to name a few just to put our future into perspective.
1. The emphasis on Continue reading
I’m neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet. That’s a bad start for confidence in my predictive powers. But let me speculate on the future of the Southern Baptist Convention with whom I have been associated my entire life.
In many ways I am describing what is more than what will be. Perhaps this is more of where we are than where we are headed. While it seems likely we will have more of what we currently have, God can change things dramatically. Perhaps we will have a great revival. Perhaps we will have ruin. But here is where it seems we are and where we are headed. (Keep in mind the “neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet” part.)
1. We will be less Continue reading
Posted in baptist, evangelism, southern baptist convention
Tagged Baptist, bible, Christian, Christianity, Evangelism, God, preaching, Religion and Spirituality, SBC, seminary, southern baptist convention
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
Posted in books, Christianity, Church, faith, Uncategorized
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