Two months ago I was preaching a series on the gospel, and in one sermon I preached Romans 3:21-26, which includes this gold nugget, talking about Jesus: “…whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” (Romans 3:25) Then just the other Sunday, I preached 1 John 2:1-6 as part of our verse-by-verse study through the book of 1 John, which includes this jewel, also talking about Jesus: “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2)
I think in two languages. Sometimes I even forget what language I’m speaking. The truth is, I feel most comfortable when I can switch between the two. Many children of immigrants face this “neither here nor there” sensation—we don’t fit in fully with American culture, but we are also different from our parents with their international roots.
In Christian circles today, church planting remains a popular ministry option. It’s not hard to find a multitude of church planting resources. Books, seminars, podcasts, websites, even entire mission agencies, exist to help church planters succeed. A large majority of these resources imply, if not explicitly declare, that the end game for a church planter is to plant a church as God has directed him. But such a goal falls far short of God’s desire.
It was the middle of the afternoon, not late at night when my mind was tired or early in the morning before I had reminded myself of the Lord’s faithfulness and new mercies. I was alone, but not in a dangerous place. I was in my apartment.
But maybe that seemingly safe setup added to the shock when I saw the disturbing news on my screen as I scrolled down my Facebook newsfeed.
The early years of ministry are difficult for everyone. Oftentimes during those first days, a lack of experience coupled with a youthful zeal leads to a myriad of mistakes. However innocent blunders are not the only faulty moves that young leaders make. Too often, young men and women fail due to character struggles with pride. Consequently, the pains of formation and the uncertainty of what is new causes many young leaders to quit.
Whether you have read the Bible or not, you have probably heard the saying “We have this hope as an anchor for our souls…” (Hebrews 6:19). This is a staple verse, if you will. It’s often written on beautiful decor for your home, fresh-brewed mugs of coffee, even jewelry. Unfortunately, when we see a phrase on a regular basis, it can lose the magnitude of meaning it was intended to have.
Pastors and wives, don't forget that there is one time the Bible commands you to get drunk: "...Be intoxicated always in her love." (Proverbs 5:19) God wants you to be drunk with love for your spouse. This is best for you, best for your spouse, best for your kids, best for your church, and it glorifies God. Pastors and wives face unique pressures and challenges due to our roles in the body of Christ. Here are three ways a pastor and wife can stay madly in love through all of the ups and downs of pastoral ministry.
The name “Youth Encountering Christ” fits the weekend so well as many kids from all across New England, some who may have never have heard about the Gospel, got to encounter our Savior. Since 1981 the BCNE has put on this amazing weekend which has saved many and showed many youth the Gospel truth. This year, 50 congregations from five New England states, a total of more than 750 people, gathered at the Sturbridge Host Hotel in Sturbridge, MA. Throughout this weekend-long retreat many lives were changed for the better.
“I threw on my sweats and got here as fast as I could. This is my favorite event at church, and I wasn’t going to miss it!”
That’s what Jane blurted out breathlessly one Saturday morning at a gathering we call Mug & Muffin. She had gotten up early with her three little boys but in the distractions of their morning routine had completely forgotten about this semi-annual women’s event. When she finally remembered, she dropped everything, explained things to her husband, said she’d be back in a couple of hours and dashed out of the house.
It is that time of year again here in New England – time to celebrate another winning Patriots season. But it’s not only their athletic skills that I admire.
A few years ago, they made the phrase “Do Your Job” popular, and my wife bought a Patriots beanie with that slogan. When they won Super Bowl 49 (I’m not so good at Roman numerals), there was a documentary called “Do Your Job” that followed the Patriots season. The filmmakers showed the interior of the Patriots offices, and etched on a glass door were the staff rules —
I’m 36 years old, and I’m from Dallas, Texas.
So what does that have to do with anything? Well, it means that I hit my most formative “fan years” at a very speciﬁc time period and in a very speciﬁc place. In the early nineties, like every other 10-year-old boy I knew, I began to become acutely aware of professional sports, and I was certain that I was going to be a multi-sport athlete when I grew up.
Ministry in the urban context comes with its own set of challenges. Among them are the objections to Christianity that run deep within inner-city communities of color. As I pastor in a neighborhood made up largely of ethnic minorities, it is not uncommon for me to hear someone dismiss the Christian faith purely because it is perceived to be “the white man’s religion, meant to oppress ethnic minorities.” It is important to note that this characterization of Christianity is not completely unfounded.
Go-getter. Independent. Fearless. Capable. In the American economy, these are titles worth striving for, and strive we do. We strive until our peace is shot-through with bullet holes, our families have learned to function without us, and our souls are withered and whimpering. "Arm yourselves!" is the new battle cry of the republic, and much of the church rushes to answer.
Over the years as I’ve helped churches make connections with mission teams and partners, I’ve worked with many churches that had difficulty finding partners. They’re not impossible to partner with, as nothing is impossible for God (Luke 18:27), but they do have extra challenges. I would encourage pastors and churches seeking to go on mission, to work through these challenges with sensitivity and the power of Christ. Sometimes these churches are the ones who are most in need of partners!
I have only been the lead pastor of two churches: a church plant in a rural-to-suburban community in Washington state and a replant/revitalization pastor of a church in the Charlestown neighborhood of Boston. On the surface there seems to be very little common ground, but something that I have learned in both roles is the importance of community engagement.
2018 was a year of firsts for me. I graduated college, traveled to places I had never been, started a new job and began working on my next degree. It was all so exciting and new. But one thing I did that wasn’t in my plans was say “yes” to leading children’s ministry at my church. Out of all my new experiences, this was, and continues to be, the scariest one.