The Ministry of Presence

Sunday’s coming! Many of the people reading these words already know they’ll be going to church on Sunday—it’s their habit, it’s their pattern, it’s their joy, and nothing short of illness or natural disaster will hold them back. A few of the people reading these words already know they won’t be going to church this Sunday. There are some very valid reasons not to attend church on a given week, and we understand that God’s love for us does not …

What Not To Say at the Beginning of a Worship Service

A few weeks ago Jared Wilson wrote an article titled “3 Things to Be Careful About Saying at the Start of Your Service.” In his article he offered some common service-starting cliches that are “worth weighing in terms of their helpfulness to the congregation’s worship.” They were, “How’s everybody doing this morning?”; “I can’t hear you. I said, How’s everybody doing?”; and “Where is everybody?” I’ve heard all three of these many times and expect you have as well. And …

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The Glory of Children Is Their Fathers

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a father who is evil, who is notorious for his terrible deeds? You, as the child, would feel the humiliation of it. There would be a residual shame where you, as that man’s child, would be embarrassed to be related to him. You’d be tainted by his legacy. You might even consider changing your name so people would stop asking, “You’re not related to that guy, are you?” On …

What’s the Point? (Alternative Ways to Frame Your Sermon)

As a Baptist, I’m plenty accustomed to hearing three-point sermons. As a Baptist preacher, I’m plenty accustomed to preparing and delivering them. But as time goes on and I (hopefully) grow in my ability as a preacher, I find myself trying to avoid the use of the word “point” and to replace it with alternatives that may be more interesting and more effective. I believe it’s important for a sermon to have structure. I believe a three-part structure is often …

A Pastoral Prayer

From time to time, probably every month or so, I like to share an example of a pastoral prayer that was prayed at Grace Fellowship Church. The pastoral prayer is a time for one of the pastors or elders to pray on behalf of the congregation and to intercede on their behalf. It’s a precious element of a service. This particular prayer was prayed by Dwight, one of our pastors. *** O, great God, your word is true when it …

Parent Love and Grandparent Love

It’s probably a reflection of my age and stage of life that I find myself thinking more and more about grandparents and grandparenting. In as much as I can read the future, I’m not particularly close to being one myself, but I’m the kind of person who likes to be prepared—to think about future realities so I can be ready if and when they come. I’m especially interested in knowing how to be a distinctly Christian grandparent. And so, as …

The Truth of The Scriptures: The Most Practical Thing You Can Give Your People

This week’s blog post is sponsored by Southern Seminary, an institution that equips people for pastoral ministry, missions, and counseling in the truth that endures. J.T. English hears it all the time: “We live in a post-truth world.” That’s true, English says, but we have to resist the temptation to assume the church is a post-truth church. Such a thing is impossible. The church is set apart and committed to the truth — particularly the truth of God’s Word — …

Grandchildren Are the Crown of the Aged

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged.” This is one of those proverbs I’ve been meaning to explore for a long time. But finally, over the summer, I had time and opportunity to spend a couple of weeks pondering it and trying to figure it out. And as I did so, I found a few ways to be both challenged and encouraged by it. “The aged” obviously refers to elderly people. But because these words are found in the book …

Faithful: The Story of Dr. Charles Woodrow & Grace Missions Ministries

For nearly thirty years, Charles Woodrow has been serving as a missionary-doctor in Nampula, Mozambique. (All the while he has also served as a conference founder, church planter, theology teacher, bookstore owner, and much more.) For a good part of that time, my church has been supporting him. Recently, on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the annual pastors’ conference he founded, I traveled to Mozambique to bring him a letter of encouragement and to finally see his work …

Gray Hair and a Righteous Life

It has always been one of my favorite proverbs: “Gray hair is a crown of glory; it is gained in a righteous life.” It’s one that clashes hard with Western culture and its glorification of youth. But it’s one that is fully consistent with a biblical worldview and its emphasis on wisdom. The book of Proverbs is meant to demonstrate two very different ways to live. It contrasts the way of wisdom with the way of folly. In this generalized …