God is our Abba Father

What’s the Best Way to Address God?

What’s the best way to address God? That’s not an easy question, even for a preacher. But a three-year-old girl gave me an answer so simple and practical that I laughed out loud when I grasped the truth of what she said. The Bible Gives Many Names for God Of course, the little girl didn’t know that the Bible is so full of names for God that theologians never tire of writing books to explain them. In the Old Testament there’s his personal name, Yahweh. The more generic name of Elohim is also frequently used. Then there are names like the Lord, Lord God, Lord of Hosts. Other, more descriptive […]

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Bearing fruit as we grow older

Staying Fruitful as We Grow Older

Who would want to be compared to a lemon tree? Other trees have more admirable qualities. The strength of an oak. The height of a pine. The beauty of a beech. The stateliness of a magnolia. A lemon tree has none of those things. But it does have one trait that I value more and more as I grow older. A lemon tree bears fruit as long as it lives. At least, such is the case with the Meyer lemon tree in a pot on my patio. That’s it in the picture above. It’s been with my wife and I for a while. I think it came as a gift—from […]

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Reading great Christian books nourishes your soul

Ten Christian Books to Nourish Your Soul in 2022

Are you looking for some good books to read this year? The kind that will comfort your heart and nourish your spirit in the next twelve months? Here’s a list of ten great books that you may want to check out. They’re not the fluff pieces that often fill today’s Christian bookstore shelves. Instead, they offer biblical, rich and practical resources to nourish your soul in 2022.  I linked each title to Amazon for easy order. The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I recommend this book every chance I get because it speaks to people at every stage of faith. The fictional account of a senior demon instructing a junior […]

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Welcome Jesus into your home

Welcome Jesus into Your Home This Christmas

Baby Shark didn’t belong in the manger scene; but there he was, sitting near Joseph. A couple of days before, my daughter had carefully arranged a beautiful manger scene on top of her piano then sent me a picture of her handiwork. Baby Jesus was surrounded by adoring shepherds, worshipful wise men, cows, sheep and, of course, Mary and Joseph. But as I looked at the picture more closely, I realized there was an additional figure hiding in plain view, one so unexpected that I laughed out loud when I realized out who it was.  It was Baby Shark, the cartoon character loved by almost every preschooler, slipped into the […]

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Make the most of your time by enjoying life's blessings, loving others, doing good work and receiving God's mercy.

Make the Most of Your Time

Make the most of your time. That’s what the Bible means when it says, “So teach us to number our days, that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)   People keep track of time in different ways; but for me, nothing beats an old-fashioned pendulum clock. The kind that you wind up with a key every month or so. That tik tok the passing seconds like a metronome. That chime the passing hours with such regularity that it brings order to whatever is happening around it. If you ever wondered how one works, here’s a great explanation.   The picture above is of the pendulum clock that […]

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Why We Need Thanksgiving

Every year Thanksgiving slips up on me.   Maybe because it gets lost on the calendar between the make-believe fun of Halloween and the shopping frenzy of Christmas. Or because it’s considered a second-tier holiday like Memorial Day or Labor Day—important celebrations to be sure but directed more toward niche audiences than universal ones.   Whatever the reason, the situation is unfortunate because Thanksgiving communicates vital truths that we tend to forget. It reminds us that faith is more enduring than cynicism, humility is a better way to live than arrogance, abundance is possible even in hard times and God can solve problems that we can’t.   I can’t imagine […]

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Praying on a Country Road

With apologies to James Taylor, a country road isn’t just for walking and thinking. It’s also the perfect place to pray. That’s why when my wife and I travel to Mississippi to see our daughter and her family I take my walking boots and as soon as I have a chance to get away from the manic energy of five-year-old Lydia and three-year-old Brynn, I head for the road. An easy place to pray I make my way north on a state highway near their home before turning east on a county road. It intersects with a smaller avenue that takes me to an adjoining small community. From there, I […]

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Why Churches Need Healthy Small Group Ministries

What keeps us faithful to Jesus when life falls apart? Pastors are supposed to know the answer, but the more people I talk with—especially through this crazy time we’re living through right now—the more I realize that my usual answers don’t work as well as they once did. COVID has changed everything, including how we view faith. Don’t get me wrong. Stirring music, moving sermons, missions activities, children’s activities and Bible studies all play a role in how we keep our feet on the straight and narrow. In good times as well as bad. Without them, we don’t have a way to flesh out our faith in stable and meaningful […]

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Church worship

COVID’s Leadership Lessons for Churches

How has COVID changed your life? That’s an easy question to answer. Schools. Jobs. Shopping. Travel. Entertainment. For many, the answer includes fear, loss, anger and pain. But the virus hasn’t just affected us as individuals, it’s also had a profound impact on our institutions. And nowhere is that as evident as in America’s churches. I realized just how much this week as I read the tenth chapter of the book of Hebrews and understood how its instructions to the church of that ancient day may have even more importance for churches in the time of COVID. Three keys to leading churches through COVID Three times in the chapter the […]

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how we can have spiritual victory in the time of COVID

Finding Spiritual Victory During COVID

Spiritual victory–we long for it, but these days many are struggling to find it. A few days ago, I met with a couple weighed down with anxiety—not just over one thing but the combined weight of fear about COVID, politics, Afghanistan, the economy and the downward spiral that seems to be affecting almost everything in life right now. They came to me for counsel, encouragement and prayer. Ministry today in large part takes place against this backdrop of ambient anxiety. Spiritual health helps us weather any storm Afterwards, I thought back through our conversation as well as the many other conversations like it I’ve had these last eighteen months. I […]

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