Good neighbors are one of life's great blessings

Good Neighbors Are One of Life’s Great Blessings

A friend up the street passed away early yesterday morning. When a family member called and asked if Pam and I would make a visit, we went straight there. Not so much because we’re in the ministry but because we’re neighbors. Good neighbors are one of life’s great blessings. The challenges to being a good neighbor Almost everyone wants to know their neighbors but in today’s world it’s easier said than done. People are busy. Life is hectic. There’s little time for the kind of leisurely conversations where you really get to know one another–even though most of us have front porches we rarely use them. Our connection with the […]

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Baptism at the River Is a Holy Moment

Baptism at the river is a holy moment in people’s lives. That’s why each year our church hosts a church-wide picnic and outdoor baptism. And it’s why a huge crowd always turns out. This year’s event was more special than usual because we couldn’t do it last year during COVID. Our men grill hamburgers and hotdogs on site. Food trucks bring desert (this year’s hit was raw cookie dough). Kids run around looking for minnows and frogs, screaming when they find a particularly slimy one. And adults bring their folding chairs and gather in small groups. Everyone just spends a couple of hours hanging out, talking, eating, playing in the […]

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Be Still and Know that I Am God

          “Be still and know that I am God.” That familiar phrase from Psalm 46:10 has been my guide through all the craziness of the last year. Even now, with the worst of the virus over and life starting to return to normal, I still need to hear it every day. I don’t think I’m the only one. Our deepest yearnings for peace in anxious times           The verse is printed on everything from peaceful scenes in nature to sleeping babies and captures our deepest yearnings for peace. Especially in times of high anxiety like we’re in now. A wooden shingle containing […]

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Little things matter in life

The Small Things in Life Matter More Than We Realize

The small things in life matter more than we realize. That’s what I was reminded of this week when Pam and I took a homemade pound cake to a neighbor. She and her husband live up the street from us and we’d wave when we passed on the road but didn’t know much about them. When we recently learned that the woman was critically ill, though, Pam thought we should get to know them better. The sacred places of life are where we see each other as we really are So Pam made her pound cake—it’s amazing—and we walked up to our neighbor’s house. The husband welcomed us at the […]

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Pastor don't give up

Pastor, Now Isn’t the Time to Quit

COVID-19 is becoming an increasing threat to America’s churches. Participation is falling. Finances are dropping. Ministries are coming to a halt. And, according to some studies, the growing pressures are leading many church leaders either to leave their positions or start planning to. But for most pastors, now isn’t the time to quit. In his latest blog Southern Baptist leader Thom Rainer says the situation is critical: The vast majority of pastors with whom our team communicates are saying they are considering quitting their churches. It’s a trend I have not seen in my lifetime. Some are just weeks away from making an announcement. They are looking for work in […]

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Quiet time with the Lord leads to a deeper relationship with him

Why Have a Daily Quiet Time?

“Preacher, I need you to tell me how to have a quiet time.” The senior adult man sitting in my office had almost died a few weeks before in a terrifying accident and was now more serious than ever about spending time with the Lord. He dumped on my table the armload of material he’d brought with him. A well-worn Bible. Several monthly devotional guides. A Bible encyclopedia. A couple of spiritual books. “Show me how to use this stuff,” he said. A relationship with Jesus takes time– like other relationships Sometimes it takes a crisis to convince us of what should be obvious. Why would we think a relationship […]

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Andy Stanley Just Closed His Church until 2021—What Does that Mean for the Rest of Us?

Last week Andy Stanley—pastor of North Point Church in Atlanta, GA—announced that in light of the recent spike in COVID-19 infections his church would remain closed until January, 2021. His statement sent shock waves through American church life and affected every pastor I know. As a respected leader and bestselling author, Stanley exercises enormous influence and whenever he sets a course, others soon follow. A case in point is yesterday’s announcement by JD Greear, pastor of Summit Church in Raleigh, NC and President of the Southern Baptist Convention, that his church also plans to delay reopening until 2021. Stanley’s real impact, though, may result less from his decision itself than […]

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Pastors on Edge: The Challenge of Church Leadership During COVID-19

COVID-19 has disrupted America at every level, with no institution, organization or business safe from its impact. But the virus is hitting the nation’s religious landscape especially hard—and some pastors are starting to wonder if they’re up to the challenge. It’s not that pastors have it worse than other leaders right now. I can’t imagine the stresses faced by, say, the Superintendent of a local School Board, the CEO of a hospital, a small business owner, the governor of a state, or young parents dealing all at once with job, finances and educating their kids at home because school is closed. The difference is that pastors and other church leaders […]

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Is the Right Time to Reopen our Churches When We’ve Learned the Lessons of Being Closed?

When can we reopen our churches? After three months of shutdown, that’s the question on every believer’s lips. As a pastor, I get it. The lack of live worship and the absence of fellowship with other believers weigh on me personally and on my church. Facebook Live and Zoom have been a blessing but they can only take you so far. Reopening churches should apply spiritual lessons before restoring material comforts But I’m beginning to wonder if our discussions of all the medical, logistical and organizational considerations of reopening should include a deeper question, one focused more on the spiritual principles at stake than the material comforts we’re so anxious […]

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The Small Things in Life Bring Peace in a Time of Chaos

The world feels out of control right now—but finding peace may be as simple as focusing on the smaller things of life.   That’s why I built the raised garden bed in the picture at top.   The bed is eight feet long, four feet wide, three feet deep and filled with garden soil from a local nursery. Twine tied to the top rails divides the box into five sections. A few tentative carrots live in the first one. Next is green beans—they’re the unruly bushes spilling over the edges of the box.   The third section hosts two squash plants assertive enough to challenge the green beans for pride […]

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