Month: December 2018

Merry Christmas!

Jesus is born. That’s a pretty important thing. Here’s a video that’s more eloquent than I am!

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Gifts for Me

Christmas Card

She is alone much of the time. As I visit her, she tells me, “I haven’t left my room in over a month.” I know this woman fairly well. She may be in a nursing home, but she’s hardly sedate. She’s active with the other residents, playing games, solving puzzles, and sharing Jesus.

Normally.

Just about every time I visit, she’ll say, “Pastor, my neighbor doesn’t believe in God. How can that be? How can I tell him about Jesus?”

Her heart yearns for her Savior and yearns to share him, too.

But now she’s sick. It’s a new medication that’s simply not cooperating well. Hopefully it’ll be solved soon. In the meantime, she hasn’t left her room.

She hasn’t been to church in years. Her family stuck her in a nursing home far away. It was cheaper. But it’s so far away she physically can’t handle the drive to church anymore. It’s so far away pretty much no one visits her. It’s about an hour away by interstate.

And she longs to be with the congregation again. She misses the family of believers. (more…)

Review: Reclaiming Glory

Reclaiming Glory: Revitalizing Dying churches
by Mark Clifton

Every year hundreds of churches close their doors for good. Right now there are thousands of churches in the States that are irrelevant; if they closed for good, maybe two dozen people would be affected, and the neighborhood wouldn’t even notice. Does it give glory to God to close a church? Does it give glory to God to merely survive? In Reclaiming Glory, Mark Clifton outlines a process to help replant churches, showing that the goal must be to give glory to God, or else it’s just an exercise in idolatry.

In general, I really wish I’d had this book a number of years ago. I’ve already learned a number of these lessons the hard way. His characteristics of a dying church are spot-on: “Dying churches love to discuss, debate, define, and describe” (22). “They value their own preferences over the needs of the unreached” (23). “They see the community as the resources from which they can grow, when in fact they need to understand that the truth is just the opposite. The community is not there for the church; the church is there for the community” (27).

Clifton’s “Six Replanting Imperatives” are also exactly what’s needed: Pray without ceasing. Love the church’s remaining members. Exegete the community. Simplify your strategy. Focus on reaching young men. Make disciples who make disciples. (more…)

Why Christmas Matters

macro shot photography of christmas stockings ornament on a christmas tree

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

He is risen!” I greeted the congregation.

They blinked at each other. They glanced nervously at the Christmas tree. They observed the chairs nicely lined up for the kids to sit in for the Christmas program. The Advent candles were lit. “…He is risen indeed?” they asked back. There was a nervous chuckle.

Some of you are a little confused!” I smile.

Cause you’re not supposed to say that now!” one of the members in the front row answers. More laughter now. (more…)

Sin’s Curse Has Lost

grayscale photography of patient and relative holding hands

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

It’s never good when the phone rings at four in the morning.

It’s John. They took him to the hospital.”

I’m awake. Wide awake. John’s on in-home hospice. If they took him to the hospital, it’s bad. And his wife can’t drive.

Do you need a ride?”

Yes, please, pastor,” she sobs.

The interstate is mercifully empty this time of day. I pray. I think about what Bible verses to read to John and Marie, his wife. What comfort can I give that I haven’t already spoken?

This man is a giant in our congregation. He’s possibly the most spiritually mature man I’ve ever met. I’ve never met anyone so blatantly motivated by the Gospel. He’s not the pushy Christian interjecting Jesus into every conversation as a wonderfully spiritual non sequitur, but a man who knows Jesus deeply, wants you to know him, and shows Jesus’s love through amazing generosity.

And it might be time for him to go home. (more…)

Review: The Wounded Spirit

The Wounded Spirit
by Frank Peretti

This one isn’t fiction. Peretti is known for his Christian horror books such as The Oath and The Visitation. This time, though, he tells his own story of disfigurement and being bullied, and the bitterness that swallowed him up. He also tells how he was rescued from a life of anger, though he still bears scars on his soul to this day. He gives a rallying cry for the Christian church to preach against bullying and to call it the sin it is. In the end, he offers multiple resources for those who want help and for those who want to help.

This book made me weep. It recalled the many wounds I received when I was in grade school. I was not beaten as Peretti was, but the raw way in which he speaks about his past is something I identify with in great measure. Peretti underlines that his story is not unique; everyone has been wounded. Everyone has been broken. Everyone is a mess. (more…)

Some scars run deep.

man and woman sitting in front of table with books and cup of coffee facing each other

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

So he started by telling me that Goliath was the descendant of aliens that sought to enslave mankind. He showed me all this, um, proof that there were giants that were from other worlds. He went on to tell me that Jesus was not God, and that he got all his ideas from Buddha.”

I look around at the council. All of it is true. He had wanted to talk to me, and we’d arranged to meet at Waffle House. (Look, if you want to see Jesus quicker, eat at a Waffle House. You’ll be dead soon enough.)

I continued, “When I shared the Gospel with him, he insisted that we couldn’t trust the Bible anyway. I lined up all the textual and manuscript evidence we have. He accepted that Jesus was seen after the crucifixion, but only because Judas purposely betrayed the wrong man, and the rest of the apostles had paid off some guy to die in Jesus’s place. After Easter, Jesus went to France and had a bunch of babies with his wife.”

I raised an eyebrow. “Also, this man claims to be Roman Catholic.” (more…)

Review: The Monday Morning Church

The Monday Morning Church: Out of the Sanctuary and Into the Streets
by Jerry Cook

The church’s power isn’t in what happens Sunday, but in living Christian lives and loving on Monday. But how can the church be empowered to be the church on Monday? In this book, Jerry Cook takes us through the book of Ephesians, showing how God has transformed who we are. Being the church on Monday is simply knowing who you are in Christ.

Let me sum up my thoughts on this book: kljalkjaslkjjash;kjblvlkj

Approximately. (more…)