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
Here are some of my random thoughts on preaching from my 34 years as a senior pastor.
1. Boring preaching is criminal. The most important and amazing message in history and you are going to make it sound boring? Jail time.
2. It is hard for preaching to be boring if the preacher is excited about the text.
3. The preacher’s devotional life affects his preaching. Maybe you can get away with it for a while, but neglect time alone with God and preaching will suffer in the long run.
4. You can’t separate who you are from the task of preaching.
5. Preachers who read a lot Continue reading
Posted in communication, faith, ministry, pastor, preaching, Uncategorized
Tagged Christianity, communication, faith, ministry, pastor, preaching
I love Vacation Bible School! I love the opportunity and joy and energy that comes with it. We have a large VBS at FBC O’Fallon, IL. (This was our second year in a row to exceed 1,400 children and workers enrolled.) It takes a lot of work and effort and commitment on our part. It is taxing on our building and our volunteers and our staff. But we believe it is worth it. Here are just a few of the benefits of VBS.
1. Children hear the gospel. I love that we can tell boys and girls the message of the gospel. Many come who have never heard a clear presentation of the truth that Jesus is the Son of God who lived a sinless life, died the death we deserve and rose from the grave to conquer sin, death and hell. 34 children professed faith in Jesus Christ in VBS this year. My wife led a little girl to the Lord who was as sincere and serious as any adult we have ever seen.
2. Children learn the bible. What a joy to teach, sing and memorize the bible! Children who know little of the bible can learn so much in a week of VBS. I loved hearing my own grandchildren quoting and singing bible verses. This will benefit them for the rest of their lives. And a shout out to Lifeway for some super work in providing curriculum that emphasizes the teaching of God’s word. Learning more about the bible is an integral part of the VBS experience. I love that Bible is the middle name of VBS. Continue reading
I’ve been thinking this week about the story of the ten lepers who were healed by Jesus. (Luke 17) You may remember that story. Although ten men were healed, only one returned to give thanks. Just one!
It is sort of shocking that only one man gave thanks. Why not the others? What happened to them? Did they forget? Did they feel Jesus owed them something? Were they distracted by other things?
While the bible doesn’t tell us why those ten didn’t return to give thanks, it certainly reminds us of the importance of a thankful spirit. Note verses like these: “Give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thes. 5:18) “…giving thanks always for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20)
Maybe the math of this story is also instructive. Only one in ten gave thanks. Is that the way it is today? Only about 10%? If so, are you in the majority or the minority on the subject of thankfulness? Are you part of the crowd who forgets to be thankful? Or, will you be the thankful one?
Let me list three ways for you to buck the odds and be the thankful one. Continue reading
Robert Fulghum famously titled a book, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” It is a great title, but a lousy philosophy of life. There is much to be learned after kindergarten- algebra, geology and how to cook a good steak, to name a few.
The best leaders are life long learners. They don’t stop learning after school ends. They don’t believe they possess they sum of all knowledge or that what they currently know is sufficient. They ask questions, seek information and try new things.
Christian leaders especially need to continue to learn. Our calling cries out for continuing education- formal and informal. We would do well to keep studying, thinking and searching. There is much for us yet to learn about God’s word, his plans and the ministry he calls us to.
Perhaps, like me, you finished kindergarten long ago. But here are five reasons ministry leaders need to continue to learn as long as God gives us life and breath. Continue reading
The title summarizes much of what passes for discourse and discussion today. We are more likely, it seems, to attack than converse. We tend to disagree so disagreeably. We appear to have lost the ability to have helpful conversations about areas where we may differ. This negatively affects us in our jobs, our families and our friendships.
Perhaps it is partially the result of media and social media. News shows have purveyors of opposing views talk over each other as though the best volume provides the best logic. Social media rewards demeaning attacks with attention and followers as though exclamation points make the point. Is there a better way?
James 1:19 provides some valuable insight for us. “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger.” Here, God’s word gives us three ways to improve our 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
Christianity is a team sport.
While those playing individual sports still need a support system (coaches, trainers, moms and dads), those involved in team sports can readily see how much they need other people. No pass can get completed without a receiver and none of it works at all without the anonymous big guys on the offensive line.
Some see Christianity as just something they do alone. No church, no small groups and no accountability. Better to see faith as something individuals practice in connection with lots of other believers.
Here are a few reasons why Christians need each other.
1. Other believers have different gifts and talents and roles. No Christian has it all. Well, we do have all of Jesus and all of his love and all of his forgiveness. But we don’t have 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