This month makes ten years that I’ve been working with Herald of Truth. (We’re now using the name Hope For Life, a Herald of Truth ministry) During that time, I’ve gotten to do some amazing things as part of my work here. Here are a few:
I’ve been blessed to work with lots of amazing people, from fellow ministers to office staff to board members.
I’ve gotten to see firsthand the work of local churches around the U.S. and around the world.
I’ve co-authored four books and been the sole author of another. I write regularly for Heartlight and less frequently on other sites.
I’ve spoken on lectureships at Lipscomb University, Harding University, Pepperdine University, Faulkner University, and Abilene Christian University. I’ve also spoken at the Tulsa Workshop and the Orlando Spiritual Growth Workshop.
I’ve done men’s retreats, family retreats, areawide church gatherings, gospel meetings, and church seminars around the U.S.
I’ve been blessed to preach in campaigns in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Spain.
None of that’s to my credit; it’s all been what God has done through the ministry of Herald of Truth. I hope there’s at least another ten years of ministry ahead for me here. Thanks to all of you who give generously to keep this ministry functioning! In a way, you too have done all of the things I’ve listed above through your support.
But our actions aren’t to pimp a mass shooting to get our political or cultural agenda across. Our actions are to demonstrate care and compassion to hurting people, to hear the stories of those suffering and then—when we finally do speak—to speak humbly, as James says, about the Word that saved us.
So you pray, you share Jesus stories, you live your faith, you invite others to worship and into the life of Jesus… and God gives the increase. It happened in Guatemala and it is happening all over the world.
If the church’s mission centers around Jesus as incarnated in the local congregation, then liturgy becomes extremely important in terms of spiritual formation. That is, if God wants the church formed in the image of Jesus, then how we conduct the assembly becomes a question of mission.
Finally, for Christians and for all people, adoption is a reflection of a supernatural reality. It’s a witness to the fact that we live in a fallen world, and an imperfect reflection of the perfecting kingdom work of restoration that is underway today, in the here and now.
Essentially, organic food is rich people spending their extra cash to feel good. While that is just as valid as spending it on holidays, we should resist any implied moral superiority. Organics are not healthier or better for animals. To expand to any great scale would cost tens of billions of pounds while killing thousands. Indeed, a widespread organics revolution will increase environmental damage, and cut global forests.
A family member — speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing — said the priest had gestured for the slapping to cease, then punched the brother in the chest and face when the warning went unheeded.
I’ve been invited to speak at the Equip Conference in Orlando, Florida, this year. It’s been 8 years since I’ve been to this conference (formally known as Spiritual Growth Workshop), so I’m really looking forward to being back. Hope For Life, a Herald of Truth ministry, is paying my way, for which I’m very grateful.
The theme of the conference is “Harvest.” I’ll be doing two classes in English and one in Spanish, all covering material from Church Inside Out. The English classes are labeled as being in the missions track; hoping no one will be disappointed, because I won’t be addressing missions in the traditional sense. I’ll be discussing churches engaging their communities, as the book focuses on. In Spanish I’ve been given the theme “Cultivating Relationships,” which will have an evangelistic overtone based on the overall theme of the conference.
If you’re going to be at the conference, I hope you’ll let me know in the comments section so I can be looking for you. I’d love to have you come to one, two, or even all three of my classes.
The conference is June 30-July 3. It will be held at the Rosen Centre, in Orlando. All of the information you need can be found on the conference website or by contacting the Orange Avenue Church of Christ in Orlando:
Equip Conference c/o Orange Avenue Church of Christ 1511 East Orange Avenue Eustis, Florida 32726 Phone: 352-357-6616 Fax: 352-357-5335 Email: Office@myoacoc.org
It seems now, though, that there’s rarely a time of grieving together. The time of lament morphs almost immediately into arguments over what the President should have said or whether this validates or annihilates someone’s views on guns or immigration or whatever. Some of that, of course, is just the speed of social media. People are able to discuss, rather publicly, issues much quicker than they could before. But there seems to be more than that.
The coming days will undoubtedly be filled with much pain and confusion. My prayer is that we’d be the Church. And that those who look in will know that we are His disciples because of our love for one another (John 13:35). This election season will divide our culture. The Church can reveal something different – the unifying power of the Gospel. This will take the power of God and His Spirit. God can show us, if needed, where we have been tempted to self-righteousness and abandonment. He can and will give us the wisdom and strength to be faithful to one another.
The fact is, we seem to have lost our passion for evangelism. Baptists love evangelism as long as somebody else is doing it. Baptists love baptisms so much that we named our denomination after them. Yet, there are fewer and fewer. Evangelism, and the baptisms that flow from Gospel proclamation, must be our focus again or we need a new name that does not involve the waters of biblical baptism.
And when you think of God like a math problem you end up with issues like those we observe in how Neo-Reformed theology tries to tackle the problem of suffering. Specifically, for Neo-Reformed theory to be logically consistent you have to reach the conclusion that God ordains suffering. The internal consistency of the system demands it. Again note well: the Bible doesn’t demand it, the system demands it. And when you privilege a theory over the Bible, like the Neo-Reformed often do, you pride yourself on defending the logic of your system to the bitter end, leading you to logically consistent but monstrous results.
Once he was declared autistic, it didn’t feel like our relationships were narrowing; it felt like they were expanding—making room for a God-knit little boy who isn’t typically developing. I felt relieved. My heart swelled with joy for who my son is. We felt peace.
It’s not particularly challenging to pray for those you love or with whom you share sympathetic ideas. The next level involves praying for those who make you really angry – the ones you have little connection with, the ones that if they were to disappear from your feed, you wouldn’t even care. Before you block or unfriend, pray. It requires a level of wondering about what drives them, pondering where they are in life and how they got there. It is about praying beyond the labels we stick onto people (liberal, conservative, bigot, naive) and seeing them as a beloved child of God. Just like you.
Being willing, able, and available to the wrecks around you can be frustrating. It means that you will have lots of situations that you aren’t sure what the answers are. Learning to love, care and point to God might seem too small to you, but it is great in the lives of the fallen.
Sometimes our Christian funerals are too happy. Yes, we believe our loved one is with Jesus. Yes, we believe that he or she will rise again. We do not grieve as those without hope. But we still grieve. If Jesus weeps for Lazarus, who he knows will not stay dead for long, it is appropriate that we weep for those who have died. They are with Jesus, but we will not see them again in this life. We will not speak with them or embrace them again here. It is right to grieve — with hope, yes — but still grieve.
It’s June, and the two presidential candidates from the major U.S. political parties have been chosen. Donald Trump. Hilary Clinton.
I want you to prayerfully consider a response to these choices based on the following passage of Scripture:
“Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? What harmony is there between Christ and Belial? What does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.” “Therefore come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”” (2 Corinthians 6:14–18)
Some people speak of “hold your nose and vote.” I say don’t do it. Don’t give your support to either of these candidates.
But if I don’t ___ will win, and we can’t have that. There is no “vote against” option in the presidential election. You are casting your vote for someone. When the final votes are tallied, your vote will count as an endorsement for the person you voted for, not a condemnation of the person you voted against. Your vote will provide an argument for their policies, a base for their mandate, an encouragement to continue doing what they are doing. I personally vote in no national elections. The reasons are too complex for a sub-point in this post, but I explain some in the post “Voting.” Many of you haven’t made that choice and are fearful that if you don’t vote in the presidential election, the voices of “the good” won’t be heard, only those of the ungodly. If that fear weighs on you, vote in the congressional election and all others. Influence those races through voting, and influence the presidential race by not voting.
But ___ is so much better than ___. No they’re not. Neither is basing their campaign on Christian values. Neither is exhibiting Christian values in their life. Neither is promoting policies that will strengthen the Kingdom… except in that the Kingdom is strengthened when it stands out in stark contrast with the surrounding culture.
If Christians don’t vote, we won’t have a voice in the process. You think not? What if every Christian in this country abstained from this election? You don’t think the major parties would begin to see what they could change to reconnect with the Christian vote?
It’s our Christian duty to vote. No it’s not. We are called on to be good aliens in this foreign land where we live. We are to obey the laws. We are to pay taxes. If voting were obligatory, you might could make a case from a sense of Christian duty. But even where it’s obligatory, most countries allow a “blank vote” to be cast.
I’m not one of those who says you can’t be a Christian and vote for Donald or vote for Hilary. You can make a lot of bad choices in life and still be a Christian. I’d just like you to prayerfully consider an action that goes against the American way but seems very much in line with the Kingdom way.