The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry

If hurry is an epidemic–and I think it is–then most people I know are infected. Meetings, appointments, calls, texts, emails, chores–life today can get so filled up with stuff that without really meaning to, you can find yourself trapped in a perpetual state of hurry. “Honey, we’re gonna be late.” “What’s taking the kids so long? The game starts in 10 minutes.” “Why’s that driver going so slow?” “The boss needs to see you right now.” “If you don’t act today, you’ll lose the special price.” “Your paper is due by 4:00 today.” “You have eight meetings scheduled this afternoon.” A Hamster on a Wheel It goes on and on, […]

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How Young Men Come to Jesus

Few things say “Baptist” more than a baptism service, especially when it’s held at a river and and a big crowd shows up to celebrate. What makes it even more memorable is when most of those being baptized aren’t who you expect.   That’s what happened earlier this week at our church’s annual “Baptism at the River.” It’s our largest evangelistic outreach each year and during the decade we’ve hosted it, hundreds have professed faith in Jesus. But this year I saw something new.  Among the twenty-five people who were baptized, half were young adult men.   In modern America, young adult men are among the hardest demographics to reach […]

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Ciudad de Dios, the City of God

9:00AM. CIUDAD DE DIOS. The name Ciudad de Dios or City of God, could be a civic leader’s lame idea of morale-boosting or maybe the misplaced hope of the first people who settled here because it’s so hard to find anything divine in this little town. Pushed to the fringes of Chepen proper, it lies down a dirt road a few hundred feet off the main highway. What you see as you drive in are decaying houses, fallen fences and a few dogs nosing through piles of garbage.   We were greeted by a cool breeze when we arrived after a 30-minute trip from our hotel. It won’t last. In […]

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Healing Body and Soul

8:00AM Chepen. Our medical mission is in a building as different from an American clinic as is a new Lexus from one of the many Volkswagen Beetles we see rattling along Peruvian highways. But the team has figured out a way to make it work, and in a space barely large enough for a family of four, we served 180 people yesterday. We’re looking for more today.   Patients are greeted under an awning set up outside the front door and extending into a street busy with taxis, motorcycles, cars and an occasional truck. The sidewalks are packed with people walking to work, students dressed in black and white uniforms […]

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The Hard Work and High Purpose of Mission Trips

9:00. Chepen, Peru. I’m watching as a line is already forming for the free medical clinic our church sent us here to for, and over the next few days we expect to provide care for about 400 men, women and children. The team from our church is prayed up, trained up and ready to go. But it’s not just about the medical care. We’re in partnership with a group of Peruvian Baptist churches about 100 miles south of here, in the major city of Trujillo, and many of them are here, too. They’ll translate as we share the gospel with the patients. In the afternoons we’ll lead Vacation Bible Schools […]

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Would You Like Cheese with Your Guinea Pig?

Every mission trip includes eating local food–an experience that sounds good in theory but takes on a different meaning when, say, your Morrocan host puts a goat stew in front of you with eyeballs swimming in the gravy. You pretty much have to do it. The people we go to serve in far away places often show their appreciation by preparing dishes unique to their culture. To refuse would be offensive so one of the informal rules of dining etiquette when on mission is to eat what’s put in front of you. If you’re in Kenya and monkey is on the menu, dig in. India? Get ready for curry so fiery […]

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God Draws Straight with Crooked Lines

God draws straight with crooked lines. That’s the only way I can explain the story of Ronald and Marcia, a young married Peruvian couple I talked with earlier today. That’s them in the picture.   Ronald spent much of his childhood living on the streets of Trujillo, a major city in the northern region of the country. Somehow in the middle of the violence, drugs and hopelessness, an uncle took the time to share the gospel with him and against all odds, Ronald turned to Jesus in order to begin a new life.   While Ronald was going through his spiritual formation, God also was working in Marcia through a Christian […]

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Mission to Peru–Why Churches Must Keep the Big Picture in View

The core dilemma facing many pastors today isn’t what style of music we use in worship, dealing with challenging people or responding to the shifting moral standards of our nation. It’s something more basic–how to keep our congregations focused on the big picture.   Almost every pastor I know wrestles with the same tension between institutional maintenance and missional investment. Institutional maintenance is a cumbersome phrase but simply means the time, energy and resources necessary to keep the institution going. And it takes a lot. Committee meetings. Conflict resolution. And the various “developments”–staff, budget and organization–that while never fully completed can’t be neglected.   Missional investment on the other hand […]

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Grandparents and FaceTime Are a Match Made in Heaven

Grandparents and Social Media go together like oil and water–except when it comes to FaceTime. That’s where we grandparents are more than willing to blend modern technology with our resistance to change.   I say “we” because of personal experience. Against our natural instincts, my wife and I have taught ourselves the ins and outs of FaceTime over the last three years as four granddaughters have made their appearance in quick succession. They all live on the west coast and we go see them as often as we can but occasional visits aren’t the same as living within driving distance. We grieve often over how much of their lives we’re missing.   FaceTime is the […]

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St Patrick’s Day–A Legacy of Parades, Parties or Faith?

St. Patrick’s Day is the granddaddy of all celebrations for people of Irish descent—and those who claim it for the day—but the historical figure behind the holiday has a greater legacy than parades, green beer and leprechauns. The real Patrick shows how one person of conviction sometimes can change a nation’s character.   No one expected Patrick’s life to turn out the way it did. Born in England during the fifth century, he was kidnapped at sixteen by a band of pirates and taken to Ireland as a slave. Sold to a farmer who put him to work as a shepherd, Patrick was marked for the rest of his life by the […]

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