What Baby Birds Teach Us

Sometimes God comes at us from unexpected directions and shows up in the smallest of ways–even through baby birds.   House finches are a feature of life here in the midlands. Small, energetic birds with a reddish tint, their distinctive chirping can be heard everywhere this time of year.   They’re also determined nest-builders. Decorative ferns, corners of porch roofs, door wreaths—no part of a house is safe from their drive to build nests and raise babies. A worker once left his trailer doors open while he fixed something in our home. When he came out a couple of hours later, finches had almost finished a nest inside the trailer. He might have been greeted by […]

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What Happens to Troubled Teens

I always wondered what happened to troubled teens when they can no longer live at home. Monday I found out.   One of our church’s many local missions helps with a homeless ministry in downtown Columbia. Several local congregations go in together to provide meals once a week for the many women and men who live on the streets. Last Monday night was our congregation’s turn so my wife and I went to see things firsthand.   Homelessness doesn’t discriminate   Church of the Apostles is in a prime location for this ministry. The bus station is a few blocks away and several shelters are nearby. A group from our church had brought baked […]

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What Military Families Can Teach the Rest of Us

All families today are under stress but none as much as military families. They live with the constant pressure of deployments around the world, not knowing from one month to the next if their husband or wife will be sent off to some dangerous part of the world for weeks or even months. It’s not a normal way to live.   Many military families prosper But somehow—against all odds—many military families find a way not just to get through the pressure but also to prosper in the middle of it. None of them would say they’re perfect or that they always handle their situation as well as they should. What […]

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There Will Never Be another Billy Graham

Of all the tributes following the news of Billy Graham’s death last week, one stands out to me more than all the others. The great evangelist, says Rick Warren, never lost sight of Jesus.   Let me tell you about Jesus I remember when Graham received the Congressional Gold Medal in the rotunda of the US Capitol in 1996. There were about 400 chairs, packed with VIPs. President Clinton and leaders of the House and Senate addressed the crowd, honoring Graham’s life and achievements. What do you think Graham did when it came time for him to get up to speak? He spent maybe three minutes acknowledging the honor and how little he deserved […]

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When Grandpa Comes to Visit

When her doctor told our daughter Katie late Sunday night that Brynn, her unborn baby, was under stress and she needed an immediate C-section, the first thing she did was to call Pam and me from the hospital in California. “Can you come?” We could hear the anxiety in her voice and responded without hesitation. “We’ll be there as quick as we can.”   What did our children need and how could we help?   I blogged about Brynn’s miraculous healing in utero a couple of months ago. When we learned there might be a problem with her birth we felt even more urgency about Katie’s situation. We dropped everything and […]

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Ten Books to Read in 2018 that Will Feed Your Soul

Recommending Christian books is always a challenge because tastes vary so widely. The writing that changes one person’s life might bore someone else to death. Another problem is the shallowness of so many books that carry the “Christian” label. A prime example is Joel Osteen’s bestseller a few years ago, “Your Best Life Now,” which managed to combine America’s obsession with personal success with the gospel promises of the Bible at a 4th-grade reading level. That’s no small accomplishment.   But there are authentic, thoughtful and challenging books out there for Christians who want to dive into the deep waters of the faith. So, here are ten books that have impacted my thinking and, […]

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How to Celebrate Christmas without Feeling Guilty

It’s almost Christmas, and at my house we’ve unpacked the boxes in the attic full of special decorations we only use this time of year.   My wife and I have loads of stuff. The Christmas tree decorations are my particular favorites—everything from the first bauble we bought as a newly married couple over thirty years ago to the set of loopy ceramic penguins that presides over our home from the most visible position on the tree.   Then there are the manger scenes (maybe a half dozen), lights, seasonal candles, table runners, china and so many knick-knacks I lose count. At Christmas we pull out all the stops and make our home as […]

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Thankfulness Is What Keeps Life on Track

In a recent blog, Father Stephen Freeman raises the bar of thanksgiving from a simple holiday to the higher place it should hold in our hearts: The act of giving thanks is among the most fundamental acts of love. It lies at the very heart of worship – in which, in the words of Archimandrite Zacharias of Essex, there is an exchange. In giving thanks we make an offering which itself is always inferior to what we have received – but which is itself an enlargement of the human heart. To live rightly in the presence and communion of God is to live in a state of constant thanksgiving. For […]

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Lexington, SC—What a Praying Community Looks Like

Prayer is as close to a unifying core value as you can find here in Lexington, SC—and that helps explain why living here is so attractive.   To be sure, different parts of our community have core value statements that try to capture each one’s essential purpose. For Lexington Town Hall it’s “Building Partnerships.” Lexington One School District sets its direction with “Where Children and Learning Are One.” The Chamber of Commerce looks to “Promote Business Prosperity.” Lexington County opts for the well known, “In God We Trust.”   Lexington believes in the power of prayer   When you survey our community’s landscape as a whole, though, one value stands […]

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The Sutherland Springs Church Shootings Put All Churches on Notice

The murder of twenty-six innocent people at First Baptist Church Sutherland Springs, Texas last Sunday put all churches on notice. I was as horrified as everyone else—for the victims and their families, of course, but as a pastor I also grieved for congregations everywhere. Not even churches are safe from the mindless violence sweeping the nation, and security is now a crucial part of ministry.   When 26-year-old Devin Patrick Kelley put on black tactical gear and walked into the middle of the worship service with a semi-automatic weapon, he encountered no barriers or obstacles. The church was wide open to him.   We’re confronted with the reality of evil […]

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