The Bone-Lazy Pastor

One of my relatives, a great uncle, was a pastor—a clergyman for the Church of England who served in Canada’s province of Quebec. Family lore is that he was not a particularly good pastor. My mother was recently sorting through some old family papers and came across a letter that would seem to say that the lore is based on fact. This letter was sent to him in 1942 by the Right Reverend Philip Carrington, Bishop of Quebec. I don’t …

To the Young Man Who Has Been Asked To Preach for the First Time

I’m really excited and really encouraged to hear that you’ve been given the opportunity to preach this Sunday. And, frankly, I’m not surprised—I’ve seen how seriously you’ve been taking your faith, how faithfully you’ve been committing yourself to the Word, and how you’ve grown in your ability to communicate. Pastors should notice young men who are doing these things. You asked for some quick pointers in preparing your first sermon. Here are a few that come to mind. Be encouraged. …

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On Being an Inflatable Tank

It’s one of my favorite tales from a war that was packed full of stranger-than-fiction moments. During the Second World War, the Allied forces created a dummy army. Eager to deceive the Germans into thinking they were stronger than they actually were, the Allies hired a team of artists and designers to create a fake army—one that would look just real enough to deceive spies snooping around nearby or surveillance flights flying far overhead. So they built planes that were …

The Servers and the Servicers in Every Church

Every church is made up of different kinds of people. There are extroverts and introverts, for example—people who are on the outgoing and sociable side and people who are on the shy and pensive side. There are leaders and there are followers—people who love to lead ministries within the church, and people who are content to be led. There are evangelists and disciplers—people whose passion is sharing the gospel with unbelievers and people whose passion is equipping existing believers. In …

What If God Doesn’t Care a Whole Lot About How You Educate Your Children?

My family is coming down to our final decisions about education. Our oldest is already safely squared away at Boyce College and the Southern Baptist Theological seminary, where he seems to be doing really well. My middlest, who is currently in twelfth grade, has already decided that she will also head to Boyce next year. And that leaves just the youngest, who is in eighth grade. We’ve got two major decisions left to make with her—what she will do for …

Two Habits of Successful Parents

Chap Bettis recently wrote about a phenomenon he has observed in today’s young parents—one Aileen and I have often discussed as well. “Many parents are reluctant and even resistant to asking advice about their parenting. While others can see blind spots, the parents themselves remain… blind to them.” That is one side of the equation—young parents aren’t asking seasoned parents for input or assistance. The other side of the equation is that seasoned parents are reluctant to address concerns or …

When Jesus Says “Stay”

We all know that God calls many people to go. He calls them to leave behind all that is comfortable and familiar so they can minister in his name. But it’s clear that God also calls many to stay. He calls them to remain in comfortable and familiar surroundings so they can minister in his name. And one favorite example of this is in the tale of the man we call The Gerasene Demonaic. This man had been oppressed by …

It’s All About the Conscience

I’ve made it no secret that Harold Senkbeil’s The Care of Souls is a book that has made a deep and immediate impact on me. I hope you’ll indulge me in another brief excerpt from it that I found particularly meaningful. Here he discusses the role of conscience in the Christian life and, therefore, in pastoral care. ***** The simple fact is that all pastoral work, be it for those outside or inside the community of faith, has to do …

Maintaining Confidence in the Process

We are people in a hurry. We live fast-paced lives in a fast-paced culture. We can never go quick enough to keep up, never do enough to complete every task, never accomplish enough to satisfy ourselves or others. But still we try, still we hurry on. Yet the Christian life has a way of challenging us, of cutting against our haste. It challenges us that the ordinary state of affairs when it comes to spiritual growth is slower than we’d …

On Being a Kwitter

During the summer, I left home for a two-week vacation with my family. I knew that in order for this to be a true vacation, I would need to vacate not only my home and my job, but also my social media. Especially Twitter. I returned home two weeks later, but have still not returned to Twitter. Actually, that’s not quite true—I still post links there when I write a new article, but I do that through a third-party app; …