You Just Can’t Have It All

Charles Spurgeon said it. Billy Graham said it. And even though it’s not really all that funny anymore, most of us have probably said it as well. It goes something like this: “Don’t bother looking for the perfect church since, the moment you join it, it won’t be perfect anymore.” Zing! There’s truth behind the quote, of course. It would be impractical and, frankly, ridiculous to expect that a bunch of sinful people could join together to create a sinless …

Thank You, God, That I Am Not Like Other Men

Comparison comes as naturally to us as eating, breathing, laughing, weeping. From our youngest days we begin to compare ourselves to others and quickly find the old adage to be true: Comparison is the enemy of joy. Though we so readily compare ourselves with others, we discover that this fosters a deep unhappiness. What promises joy actually delivers misery. The reason is that comparison is intrinsically competitive, so that we don’t really want to be merely pretty, but prettier than …

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Success Beyond What We Can Handle

I know many who long to make a mark in their field. I know writers who long to get that first contract and publish that first great novel. I know musicians who yearn to get noticed and get signed and get recorded. I know speakers who are convinced they could make their mark if only they could be invited to that first conference, deliver that first keynote, inspire that first audience. I know and admire many such people and often …

Have You Tasted Heaven?

A touching story from long ago tells of a young boy who lived in the distant reaches of the vast Canadian prairies. His family was impoverished, and parents and children alike had to labor day and night to prove their homestead claim. There was little time for anything beyond work, little money for anything beyond the barest essentials. They lived a harsh, rugged, hand-to-mouth existence. A day came when that boy’s father dispatched him to town to fetch supplies, so …

Scepters, Crowns, Thrones

My travels have led me through many castles in many kingdoms, my journey through many palaces in many places. I have seen the grandest edifices ever designed by the mind of men to display the value, the worth, the grandeur of their inhabitants. I have seen throne rooms devised to dazzle the eyes and overwhelm the senses. I have seen scepters and crowns carefully composed to symbolize the power, the authority, and the majesty of pontiffs and potentates alike. In …

Accomplishments as High as Heaven, Character as Low as Hell

In recent months the evangelical world has been rocked by a number of scandals, by news of yet more leaders who used their churches or ministries to indulge themselves to the harm of others. These are yet more cases of men who will no doubt stand before God some day and plead all their accomplishments—“Didn’t I preach the gospel for you? Didn’t I encourage many people in their faith? Didn’t I lead many people to the Lord?” Yet despite such …

Drowning in an Ocean of Encouragement

There are not many in this world who are at risk of drowning in an ocean of encouragement, of being swept away by a tsunami of cheer, of being pulled under by great waves of comfort. There are not many who receive so much encouragement that they never have reason to feel doubts, never have reason to grow weary, never have reason to be tempted toward despondency. There are certainly none at all who are at the least risk of …

The Inadvertent Trailblazer

My favorite cities to explore are the ones that have come together organically rather than according to a plan. Where some city centers were built on a grid with each building aligned closely with the road beside it and each street meeting the others at a perfect 90-degree angle, I prefer the cities that arose without such careful design. These are the cities where the streets wind and turn, where roads meet and cross one another at quirky angles, where …

The Beauty of a Gentle Heart

If there is any quality that is conspicuous by its absence today, perhaps it is gentleness. Though this is a precious and beautiful trait, it is sadly rare. I recently read (and highly recommend!) J.R. Miller’s short work A Gentle Heart, and in that book I came across this convicting passage which reminds us of the source and model of our gentleness. *** There was gentleness in the world before Jesus came. There was mother love. There was friendship, deep, …

How to Pray Like a Pastor

Of all that is unique about the Christian faith, this aspect stands apart: Its leaders are not called to their positions because of rare skill, raw talent, or overwhelming desire. They are not qualified by the charismatic personality, the ability to draw a crowd, or skilled rhetoric. Rather, Christian leaders are called and qualified by godly character. In passages like 1 Timothy 3:2-7, Titus 1:6-9, and 1 Peter 5:1-3 we read what a man must be if he is to …