Now you will think I’ve popped some important screws in the brain. All pastors, including me, want people to love church life and attend worship and enjoy the fellowship and get involved in ministry and service.
But there’s a dark side, and you need to be aware of it. People, including Christians, are still flawed and sinful, and the organizations they build are flawed and sinful too. You would expect to be hurt in situations where there is no Jesus.... Read More
When New York mobsters decided to retaliate against rival gang members in all-out war, they would “go to the mattresses,” i.e., they left home and lived in secret locations to launch their attacks, hoping to avoid detection by their enemies. In Old Testament times, angry civilians who were ready to become warriors would “go to the tents.”
The nation of Israel had north/south tensions as bad or worse than America in the 19th century. Even during the reign of such... Read More
I was crushed. As I was greeting people after worship one Sunday, one of the members came by and said, “Gosh, Pastor, if I had known that this was going to be Stewardship Sunday, I would not have brought a friend.” Ouch! Was I that bad? Had I made Jesus look bad that day? Had I turned one of a Christian’s most joyful privileges into a joyless duty?
Giving is worship. Giving to God acknowledges him as Maker of all... Read More
I am convinced that one of people’s greatest frustrations and hindrances to their faith and confidence in God is the dilemma of “unanswered prayer.” When you have asked and pleaded for help during a season of stress and nothing seems to have happened, all you can conclude is that God is unable, or if able does not know what to do, or if he does know and doesn’t act he must not love you anymore. If any one of those... Read More
Lord, how did you know? Do you have any idea what a lift children bring to sad and weary adults? Of course you know—you invented children.
I love to play with children. They’re too young to be cynical, evasive, and aloof. They let their feelings out immediately and blurt out whatever is on their minds. I love to teach them things (and, truth be told, love to let them teach me things). I love kissing their soft cheeks, giving them... Read More
My brother knows more about cars than I ever will. But even he sometimes met his match. He bought a 1950 Ford once that was in pretty rough shape. After working on it for many months, he just felt overwhelmed and gave up on it. The car sat in the driveway for a long time, its dull brown primer making it look like a candidate for the junkyard.
Do you ever feel as though your once-bright hopes will never come... Read More
It is a great temptation to keep your Christianity parked in church, where expressing your faith is safe and expected. It is a step up to live the Christ-life of joyful service in your home. It’s a whole new level to live it at work.
Even if overt Christian talk and testimony is discouraged where you work, the way you treat your coworkers and customers says a lot about how real your faith is. Especially the way you treat your... Read More
One of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s most difficult tasks in training Luke Skywalker to be a true Jedi knight was to help him access all his resources. “Use the Force, Luke!” Obi-Wan would exhort him. We all know that this talk of “the Force” is just space mythology cooked up by George Lucas, right? You don’t have a Force within you.
Or do you? George Lucas was perhaps closer than he realized to a powerful truth of authentic Christianity: the third person... Read More
What is it that transforms normal basic human prudence (good) into worry (bad)? I think it is this: the gut-level urge to assume the worst in every possible outcome. Is Daddy late coming home from work? He must be dead in a ditch. Did I get a bad grade in that class? I’m going to fail the semester. Are we invited to your parents’ house? I will probably say or do something stupid and then they’ll all think I’m a... Read More
Where I live people love to advertise their life philosophies. Their three favorite “personal billboards” are their T-shirts, their tattoos, and the rear bumpers of their cars. You can read unbelievably frank expressions of their views on politics, religion, and gender.
Sometimes you can tell you’re following a Christian driver because of a simple line drawing on a bumper sticker—a fish. In the original Greek of the New Testament, the first letters of “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior” spell... Read More