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Preacher on the Run…

Faith, Family, Ministry, and Everything in between

Feature Friday (03/08/19)

Made in China. It seems that most things are made in China these days. Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against China. But it does appear that most of the things I have bought that say “made in China” seem to be made, well, rather cheaply. They bend, rip, tear, or break easily. They just don’t seem to measure up to other robust products. But I guess that is what you get when something is cheap…a cheap reality.

The same can be said for things in the church world. If all you want is a one-hour a week experience to check a box or “feel closer to God”, then you can find it. Unfortunately, you can find it far too easily in the American church. What is the cause of this “cheap” reality? While the contributing factors are many there is at least one that I believe adds to the cheapness. A cheap understanding of membership.

Stephen Kneale writes a powerful article where he states, “since we made membership a more stringent affair, we have found it has done nothing but increase the desire of people to join.” His point, people will see membership as whatever you make it out to be as a leader. Stephen’s challenge is this, “Make Your Membership Count for Something“.

Don’t settle for the cheap “as seen on TV” stuff this weekend. Spend the time, energy, and effort to be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Photo by Aidan Bartos on Unsplash

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Feature Friday (03/01/19)

“I’m done!”

I still remember speaking those words as our coach headed out of the room. The tension and turmoil had been brewing since the middle of July, it was now early September. Our football team was not performing and having the success expected. Guys on the team were getting frustrated. The coaches were frustrated. And a serious divide was about to take place.

One day during school I heard from 3 seniors that they and a number of underclassmen were going to “protest” coach and the antics going on, by skipping practice and meeting up at one guy’s house. I met them in the parking lot after school, we carpooled to the house and began playing pool and talking about all our frustrations. A few minutes later we got a huge surprise.

Our head coach had driven over to the house, came in the basement where we were and told us all that if we wanted to play on the team this year to get back to practice immediately. Two guys walked out immediately, the rest of us stayed and the coach told us to turn in our uniforms and gear tomorrow. And as he walked out I murmured…”I’m done”. I walked out on football that year. I never thought I’d return to play the game.

 

I was bitter, angry, and just plain disgusted with the idea after a horrible experience. 

 

Recalling that ordeal helps me understand the heart and have sympathy for those who have decided to be done with the church as well. However, there is a great difference between leaving a football team and leaving the church, which is why I recommend Carey’s Nieuwhof’s article “A Response to Christians Who Are Done with Church“.

If you are someone who has given up on the church. Someone who was harmed, hurt, or just frustrated by the church in the past. An individual who has totally said, “I’m done” to the church. I encourage you and plead you to take a moment and read the article. If you are someone who knows a few people like this, do yourself a favor and engage the article to love a friend well.

I would love to hear your response and interact with you, so feel free to leave a comment below. And I do hope that you would consider rejoining the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day this weekend.

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Feature Friday (02/22/19)

Losing! No one likes to do it. No one plans to do it. And I have yet to meet someone who enjoys it. However, it was a large portion of my formative years. For 4 years of my sports career losing was normative. Over 4 years of high school football my school accumulated records of 2-8, 0-10, 0-10, 5-5. My cumulative record for high school football was 7-33. Not impressive. But glad that I am not alone.

Losing is horrible, but when you have others with you it’s at least bearable, most of the time. The one time that losing is unbearable even on a team is when you are the one to blame for a loss. While I am not a proponent of saying one play or one player wins or loses a game, the reality is some plays or players role has a much more visible factor in winning and losing. Such is often the case for kickers in football. Such was the case for Cory Parkey of the Chicago Bears in the 2018-2019 NFL playoffs.

Cory’s situation is a rough one and yet I think much can be learned and gleaned from the scenario. Most vital life lessons and character qualities are forged in the midst of loss, not realized through victory. These qualities are the ones I want to teach my children, which is why I loved and highly recommend Dan Andros’ article “Why I’m Telling My Sons to Be Like Bears Kicker Cory Parkey“.

If you are trying to grow children with character rather than just winners, check out the article. And as always be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day!

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Feature Friday (02/15/19)

“That was a bad decision.” I have said those words far too often in my life. As a boy, I said it after thinking I could be the one to dive closest to the wall of the pool, only to find out the wall was closer than I thought. A bloody head and a few stitches later…” that was a bad decision”. As a teenager, I said it after thinking I could take a corner on a backroad in winter faster than the speed limit. After sending a mailbox 50 yards down the road and coming to a stop…” that was a bad decision”. But making a bad decision has not only been relegated to my younger years.

As an adult, I have had plenty of days when I have had to admit to myself and others, “that was a bad decision”. I have had to do it in marriage, fatherhood, and leadership. It is never a fun realization or conversation, but I have tried to say it less and less because I am trying to make fewer and fewer bad decisions. I think anyone readily admits this and every leader desires it.

That is why I loved Aaron Buer’s article “4 Tools for Better Ministry Decisions“. While Aaron writes primarily to a church leader audience, the tools he lists are useful for anyone and everyone. These tools will help you make better decisions as a spouse, parent, co-worker, employee, manager, and leader.

I hope you enjoy the article, put one of these tools into practice and as always enjoy the Lord’s day with the Lord’s people.

Photo by Francisco Gonzalez on Unsplash

Feature Friday (02/08/19)

Chocolate or Vanilla? Left-handed or right-handed? Get up early or stay out late? So many situations in life seem like either-or. There are constant battles of values and priorities at play. Yet too often I believe we pit things against each other that may never be meant to be at odds.

As a young athlete in high school, the tension was always which sport are you going to excel at? Which game will you prepare for more? As one who truly enjoyed every sport I played, those types of questions always seemed like a conundrum to me. Why must I choose training for football over running track? I enjoyed both and thus trained, practice, and performed at both. And in my experience, pursuing one made me better at the other. It was not an either-or situation, but a both-and one. The same can be said for many situations in church.

One situation that is often portrayed as an either-or situation is evangelism or discipleship. Often it comes across in preaching: do we preach to the unchurched to reach more people for Jesus or do we preach with the believer in mind to equip the saints? Instead of setting up an either-or situation, I believe it is a both-and situation.

Dave Jensen writes a great article challenging pastors, church leaders, and churches in general to do both-and. His article “Keep Christians in the room: Church attendance at evangelistic courses” is a great argument for a both-and approach rather than an either-or approach.

As always I hope the article encourages and challenges you. Don’t neglect to be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day this weekend.

Photo by Greg Jeanneau on Unsplash

Feature Friday (02/01/19)

Obstacles. Things to overcome. Difficult subjects to deal with. Questions that seem to have no solution. All of these are realities of life. In school, there is always the bully or drama or unsolicited ridicule. In marriage, there is always another argument that could be brewing or disagreement on how to fold the laundry. In parenting, there are the sleepless nights, emotional heartaches, and worry sessions.

Life is full of difficult situations and obstacles. This is also true of any worldview or belief system one may hold to. As a Christian, two of the most common obstacles I interact with people concerning the Christian faith are 1) suffering and evil and 2) the doctrine of hell. While there has been plenty written on both, I want to point to an article on the second.

The obstacle typically sounds something like this, “I know some fine people who are Muslim, Jewish or agnostic. I cannot believe they are going to hell just because they don’t believe in Jesus. In fact, I cannot reconcile the very idea of hell with a loving God” How does one reconcile two seemingly opposing ideas: a loving God and an eternal punishment called hell?

Tim Keller steps in to help us work through this obstacle to understanding and hopefully believing the Christian faith, most importantly the Savior Jesus Christ. Dr. Keller addresses this issue in his article “Preaching Hell in a Tolerant Age“. Two points he makes in the article are worth noting, “hell is less exclusive than so-called tolerance and there is no love without wrath”.

Enjoy the article, be with the Lord’s people on the Lord’s day and I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Photo by Pau Casals on Unsplash

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