I posted this article last winter but wanted to re-post it for this season. Hope you have a great 4th of July holiday!
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
Posted in Christianity, Church, military, Uncategorized, worship
Tagged Christian, Christianity, church, God, patriotic service, Religion and Spirituality, worship
I love the opportunities that come with Easter Sunday. Hundreds of guests will come to our church on Easter Sunday- some who have never been to church and some who haven’t been in a long time. I won’t bash them for not being there every week. Believe me, as a pastor I would love for them to come to our church every Sunday. But I won’t bash them. Here are some reasons why.
– It is uncharitable. I love these people and care about them. I’ll love them enough to tell them the whole truth of the gospel and God’s word. I will tell them the whole truth. But I will do that out of my love for them.
-It is ineffective. Bashing people on the one Sunday they are Continue reading
Posted in Easter, Easter Sunday, evangelism, Uncategorized, worship
Tagged Christian, Christianity, church, Easter, Easter Sunday, Evangelism, local church, Religion and Spirituality, worship
Like so many, my family will watch some Christmas movies this year. It’s a fun tradition.
-We’ll watch “A Christmas Story” and say “adios, Bart” with a hard “a” on the adios while giving warnings about the danger of shorting one’s eye out.
-We will watch “Elf” and note that Francesco is indeed a fun name to say.
-We will probably watch “Christmas Vacation” and remember that the jelly of the month club is the gift that keeps on giving.
-“Home Alone” might slip in there as we ask Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, Christmas, Uncategorized
Tagged Christianity, Christmas, Christmas movie, church, God, Jesus, local church, relationship with god, worship
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
Posted in bible, Christianity, discipleship, prayer, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, bible study, Christian, Christianity, church, deeper faith, discipleship, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, Religion and Spirituality, small groups, spiritual growth, worship, worship attendance
I would like to be more God centered this year. Instead of having God on the periphery, wouldn’t it be better if God was at the center of our lives? Here is a bit of what that might look like.
1. A God centered life loves obedience. God is really big on the whole holiness thing. No compromise on this one. It matters deeply to him and should to those of us who follow him. If I am not obeying God, he isn’t at the center of my life. I’ve put him over in a corner and maybe taken him out on Sunday mornings, but he isn’t at the center of my life unless I am obeying what he tells me to do. This year I want to obey what God tells me to do through the Bible and through the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
2. A God centered life seeks God’s will. The core question isn’t really what you want to do. The most important issue is what God wants you to do. Wise is the Christian who wants God’s will more than his or her own. After all, God is smarter than us (some make that easier on God than others), knows the Continue reading
Different people view the church very differently. Our views are affected by our history, our problems, our preferences, our inclinations and- at our best- by our theology.
The church, of course, is not the building. I really appreciate the building God allows my church to use. It is helpful and it has come at great sacrifice. We use it well at FBC O’Fallon where I am pastor. There are large numbers of people using our church building in some way almost every day. I love that.
But I’m not talking about the church building here. I’m talking about the church. You know, that messy conglomeration of believers that gather together to glorify the Lord through our worship and discipleship, our ministry and our fellowship and through our missions and evangelism. I’m talking about the local church of gathered believers and the more general sense of the church- believers all over the world who gather in their own local expressions of the church.
There are at least 5 different views of the church I see.
1. Some hate the church. I don’t believe a Christ-follower can hate the church. After all, Christ is the one who formed it and is the foundation of the church. But many in our world hate the things of God and, therefore, hate the institution God founded.
2. Some dislike the church. They were Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, Church, faith, Uncategorized
Tagged bible, Christian, Christianity, discipleship, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, local church, missions, Religion and Spirituality, worship, worship attendance
I was asked to write a couple of short things on revival recently. (One for the Illinois Baptist coming out in a few weeks and another for an update on “The Revival in Brownwood, TX and beyond” from 1995.) It has caused me to consider what happens when genuine revival comes to a person, church or region. By the way, I am speaking of a revival- a return to God among believers, not just a revival meeting or an evangelistic campaign- though I love them too.
I care about revival from two vantage points. First, I studied revival during my Ph.D. work. I wrote my dissertation on J. Edwin Orr, the greatest historian of revival and my mentor was Dr. Roy Fish, who taught and loved revival. Second, I have experienced a touch of genuine revival at several moments in my life- the time in 1995 being especially noteworthy. I’m not an expert, but I have some background.
Here are 7 things that change for us when revival come to our lives.
1. We Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, Church, evangelism, faith, revival, spiritual awakening, Uncategorized
Tagged Christian, Christianity, discipleship, Evangelism, faith, God, Jesus, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality, revival, spiritual awakening, worship
I love the patriotic worship service we have at FBC O’Fallon, IL each 4th of July weekend. It is exciting, moving and fun.
Once in a while, I read others who complain about churches having a patriotic service. They remind us of the dangers of patriotism replacing worship and zeal for the nation replacing zeal for the Lord. Duly noted.
But I do believe we can keep a proper perspective of the role of God and country. The first point of my sermon on Sunday was “We have earthly responsibilities but a greater allegiance.” (I preached from the story of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego from Daniel 3 and the greater allegiance referred to the Lord, not D.C. My wife says it was the greatest sermon preached in the history of Christendom- but Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, military, Uncategorized, worship
Tagged Baptist, Christianity, church, faith, God, Jesus, local church, military, patriotic service, patriotism, preaching, relationship with god, Religion and Spirituality, sermons, worship
I love that the church where I am pastor (FBC O’Fallon, IL) is near Scott Air Force base. We have hundreds of military folks in our church and it is a great blessing. It will be 19 years this summer since I came and I’ve learned some things about the military folks. (I am a slow learner.) Here are some things I’ve learned about ministry with the military community.
1. Military types move. A lot. To lots of places. It isn’t unusual for me to meet a new family moving in from Guam while saying goodbye to another moving to Germany. Some move in saying “I’m only here for three years so I’m jumping into the church with both feet.” They look immediately for opportunities to serve and connect. I love that! Others say, “I’m only here for three years so I’m not going to get involved.” The smart aleck in me responds with, “How long will you be here if you do get involved?”
Military families learn how to deal with new circumstances and environments. The children of military parents learn to make friends and adjust to new things. Their moves make them interesting to us civilians. They have seen places we haven’t and enjoyed experiences foreign to us. We are impressed with the variety of their experiences.
They are so interesting. But, they leave us. And, if we aren’t careful, we guard our hearts against the pain of their departures. I remind our church often that we must be willing to love each other- military and civilian- even though our hearts are broken when we part. Love is worth the pain.
2. Military types deploy. Continue reading
“About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them.” Acts 16:25
On the night my father died, our family gathered in his room. After weeks of battling physical ailments, death was near. While we did not grieve as those who had no hope, we still grieved. And we sang.
As we circled the room where our family patriarch was dying, we sang hymns and choruses of faith. It felt like midnight in our souls, which made it a good time to worship. It is good to worship the Lord in the pleasant Continue reading
Posted in Christianity, prayer, Uncategorized, worship
Tagged Christian, Christianity, death, devotional book, discipleship, faith, God, praise, Religion and Spirituality, worship