A Pastoral Prayer for Unity

Every now and again I like to share an example of a pastoral prayer from Grace Fellowship Church. I do this because there are few examples of pastoral prayers online and I thought these may serve to inspire themes, passages, or ideas as other pastors and elders prepare to lead their churches in prayer. Here is one I prayed before our church not too long ago. *** Father, in your Word you’ve got a lot to say about unity—a lot …

At the End of a Long Journey

This flight from Kansas City to Toronto is uniquely significant to me. Though on one level it’s just another uncomfortable short-haul flight on another rickety regional jet, it marks the end of a journey that has taken me to the ends of the earth. Almost eighteen months ago I boarded a plane to Israel to mark the beginning of this journey into the history of the Christian faith—a journey I codenamed “EPIC.” It took me to 24 countries across six …

Become a Patron

Always Count the Cost

Just a couple of blocks from my home is the concrete shell of an unfinished mosque. Several years ago they broke ground and quickly after poured the concrete for the foundation and the four great minarets. And then the project went dormant. For almost three years it has sat ugly and unfinished, a grey concrete husk on the edge of the city. A GoFundMe page shows they have completed phase one of the project, but have collected less than one …

How We Worshipped

Every few weeks I like to share an example of one of our worship services from Grace Fellowship Church. I do this simply to provide an example of how one church structures our time of worship, hoping it will prove a helpful resource to others. This service’s cast of characters included Paul as the preacher, Brian as the lead worshipper, and myself as the service leader. Our band consisted of two guitars, bass, and piano accompanying a male and female …

My Favorite “Minor” Museums

Over the past eighteen months, I have been traveling the world searching for objects related to the history of Christianity. Over the course of my journey I have visited some of the world’s great museums. And as much as I have enjoyed these world-class institutions, I have also found special benefit in visiting much smaller ones. While the great museums try to tell the stories of entire ages and civilizations, their smaller siblings usually have much more modest goals—to tell …

Are You Writing Headlines for You or Articles for Them?

I have been at this blogging thing for a long time now, and would like to think there are a few lessons I’ve picked up along the way. There is a challenge I’ve been reflecting on recently, and it’s one I want to share with other writers: There is no necessary correlation between how many times people click on an article and how useful it actually is to them. It is no great feat to create the kind of headline …

Look! Look To Your Baptism!

We Christians like to tell people where and how to look. To those crushed under the weight of sin or guilt we say, “Look to the cross! Look to the cross and see God’s justice for your sin being satisfied in his Son.” To those wearied by sorrow and suffering we say, “Look forward! God has promised that this light and momentary affliction will soon give way to an eternal weight of glory.” To those who are being persecuted we …

A Corporate Confession of Sin & Assurance of Pardon

One of my favorite elements of a worship service is a confession of sin and the subsequent assurance of pardon. At Grace Fellowship Church we include this in almost every service and, from time to time, I like to share an example. Here is how we confessed our sins together using Psalm 32 as our guide. *** We just sang together, “All the redeemed washed in his blood / Come and rejoice in his great love!” One of the ways …

Should Christians “Self Care?”

Words and phrases come and go. Both within the church and without, they often rise for a while, then quietly slip into decline and disuse. It is an annual tradition for dictionaries to announce the new words they are adding as well as the antiquated ones they are removing. In recent days, I’ve repeatedly heard the phrase “self-care,” or one of its many synonyms. I’ve heard it used in church contexts and in secular ones. I’ve seen Christians and non-Christians …

What’s the Purpose (and the Benefit) of Family Devotions?

What’s the purpose of family devotions? Probably no habit or discipline is so lauded, recommended, or even commanded among Christian families than this. But what’s the point of it? What is it meant to accomplish? Over many years of leading family devotions, I have been surprised to learn that it’s both more and less than I had expected. As Aileen and I began building the habit of family devotions, first as something that followed dinner and later as something that …