Are we asking?

“Then he said to them, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, “Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.” Then he will reply from inside, “Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.” I tell you, even though the man inside will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of the first man’s sheer persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs” (Luke 11:5-8 NET).

How many of us have friends like the one Jesus talked about? Or, maybe more personally, how many of us are like the man who was already in bed when his friend came to knock on his door? He really didn’t want to have to get back up to find some bread to give to his friend. But he seems to have realized that his friend wouldn’t go away unless he did get up and give him what he needed to meet his needs. Continue reading “Are we asking?”

What members wished that preachers knew about members

In the interest of fairness, I follow last week‘s article on what preachers wished their members knew about them with the inverse, what members would like preachers to know about them.

In this list, I will not include demands that are either selfish or unspiritual. Demanding that a church be all about serving “me” is not a legitimate demand to make on the preacher. Demands to do unbiblical things are neither legitimate nor fair. And yet there are some things that preachers should know about their members. Continue reading “What members wished that preachers knew about members”

A faith that amazed Jesus

“When he had concluded saying all this to the people who were listening, he entered Capernaum. A centurion’s servant, who was highly valued by him, was sick and about to die. When the centurion heard about Jesus, he sent some Jewish elders to him, requesting him to come and save the life of his servant. When they reached Jesus, they pleaded with him earnestly, saying, ‘He is worthy for you to grant this, because he loves our nation and has built us a synagogue’” (Luke 7:1-5 CSB).

This centurion seems to have been an exceptional Roman. Stationed in Galilee, he became involved in the local life, even to the point of building a synagogue for the Jews of that town. Perhaps he was attracted to the God they worshipped and their way of life. If you visit Capernaum today you will see extensive excavations of the first century town and an impressive synagogue that would have dominated the town even in Jesus’ day. The current synagogue dates from the 4th century but it is built on the foundation of the first century synagogue, so you get an idea of the size of the one built by this Roman centurion. Continue reading “A faith that amazed Jesus”

The God who calls

Who is this God who invites us to profoundly reorder our lives to their very core? After all, the call to discipleship is the invitation to radically align our allegiances, beliefs, values and behaviors according to God’s character and word.

By revisiting the stories of Moses and the Israelites, we can learn something about this God who desires to transform us.  Continue reading “The God who calls”

What preachers wish congregations knew about preachers

He stands in the pulpit every Sunday. He must be deeply spiritual. Never has any doubts, never feels discouraged, because he is a spiritual leader, right?

Well, you might be surprised to find that your preacher is human. Have you ever wondered what he wished you knew, but was afraid to tell you? Continue reading “What preachers wish congregations knew about preachers”

Unfinished business

A gardener’s work is never done, much like a mother’s work — only less urgent and important. When we finally have a flower bed or vegetable plot just the way we want it, things happen to change it. Often, however, the change is for the better!

We are all familiar with the sentiment, “Please be patient with me. God isn’t finished with me yet.”

We understand that when it comes to our own failings and shortfalls, but do we really put that idea into practice as we deal with others? Continue reading “Unfinished business”

Face to face

“So Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: ‘For I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved’ ” (Genesis 32:30 NKJV).

I am preparing for another trip to South Asia, which will be my first time there for almost a year. With today’s modern technology I have been able to maintain contact with Christians on the other side of the world, but there are limitations to what can be accomplished at that distance. There are some things that are just better handled “face to face.” Continue reading “Face to face”

The highly favored one

What would it have been like to have been Mary, the one who would become the mother of Jesus? We are first introduced to her just before she became pregnant.

“In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, ‘Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.’ Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be” (Luke 1:26-29 NIV). Continue reading “The highly favored one”

The doubt behind the complaining

When our lives become embroiled in turmoil and crisis, quite naturally our thoughts can turn toward complaining. “Lord, I did not pursue a godless lifestyle. I have obediently exalted you in my life. Yet, I am suffering!”

What comes next might be conscious or subconscious. Regardless, God confronted it in Jeremiah’s life. Like him, our thoughts might turn inward accompanied by a lingering doubt. God also desires to confront this within our lives. In grace, God provided him and us with a guiding path forward. Continue reading “The doubt behind the complaining”