Posts filed under ‘Religion’
I have a new article at For The Church exploring thoughts on pastoral counseling. Here is an excerpt.
“Pastoral counseling is both a privilege and burden. Paul Tripp has aptly reminded us that “We must not let ourselves become comfortable with the casual, where ministry is limited to offering general principles that would fit anyone’s story. The genius of personal ministry is that it is [deeply] personal…This means that effective, God-honoring, heart-changing personal ministry is dependent on a rich base of personal information. You cannot minister well to someone you do not know” (Instruments In The Redeemers Hands, 165). The nature of pastoral ministry, true biblical shepherding, means that we will know more about those in our congregations than others will. Sometimes that knowledge deeply affects us as pastors. In heavy pastoral counseling situations, we must understand that grief will often accompany us as we journey with the counselee towards healing. We need to have an intentional plan for our own health, and the counselees good. Having a plan can help forge a path to walk with a hurting church member towards hope. More importantly, we must intentionally walk them towards our only hope, the great physician, Jesus Christ. So when we weep, we weep with perspective. When we weep, we do not weep as those who have no hope. As pastors, it is important that we cast all of our pastoral burdens on God, because he cares for us, just like he cares for those under our spiritual care (1 Pet. 5:7).”
Read the whole thing at For The Church.
Curiosity is such a childish word, right? Not so fast. Just because we grow up doesn’t mean we should lose our wonder at the world, or the people around us. When we do, we lose so much because curious is how God made us to be.
My friend Barnabas Piper is on to something here. Without curiosity a Christian’s life is incomplete. “Without curiosity he can never discover deep things, deep connections God tucked below the banal surface of life.”
In his new book, Piper explores what curiosity is, and how it affects relationships. Here are a few good quotes!
- Curiosity is more than a mere trait. It is a discipline, a skill, a habit – one that will expand your life in magnificent, if subtle, ways.
- Imagination guides and shapes our use of information.
- God is echoed in rhythms of music, meter of poems, strokes of brush, taps of a hammer, numbers on a pivot table, laughs with a friend, fantastical fiction, icicles, acorns, sweet tea, oak trees, walleye, alloy metals, espresso, and cirrus clouds.
- You and I were created to create and discover, created for the vocation of reflecting God’s image.
- Curiosity combined with courage presses in and digs deeper in relationship.
- If curiosity is not increasing our joy and capacity for enjoyment then something is amiss.
- Curiosity is a hunger to know more truth so that we can show people more truth so that our world will see more of God.
- Curious people create more, find better solutions to problems, overcome challenges, meet needs that arise, make connections, and prepare better for the future.
- Open-mindedness, at its best, is humility and grace blended with curiosity – but not without conviction.
- The Christian faith should be curious, not blind. It should be full of questions, not fear questions.
- True curiosity is the pursuit of truth, the exploration of God’s creation and will for the world.
- Questions are the currency of curiosity. But unlike other currency there is no withdrawal limit and they multiply themselves. Spend liberally.
Be curious. By all means, invest the time to read this book.
Well, perhaps you have heard about them. If you haven’t, they are worth your consideration.
When a parent leaves, undoubtedly the children struggle to make sense of it. While I have never experienced this personally, I have friends and family members who have. One thing is clear, nothing hurts like the abandonment of a parent.
In his book Left, Jonathan Edwards (not the puritan) writes with honesty and transparency as he reflects on his life as an abandoned child. Edwards also writes in a way that provides hope for anyone struggling with the absence of a parent. As a pastor and a Christian friend this book was important to read because it provided a window into the lives of others that have experienced the pain of parental abandonment. I am thankful for Jonathan’s contribution to the church, and his reminder that while “…abandonment always leaves scars, Jesus heals. And He will never leave you.”
My friends Derek Radney and Trevor Lawrence are unremittingly clear-headed thinkers and know what they believe and why they believe it. When I received their book on Discipleship, I know it was going to be thorough and articulate.
In Discipleship, Derek and Trevor attempt to outline a comprehensive introduction to the Christian faith in a way that is faithful to the task of passing on the truth once for all delivered to the saints. It is comprehensive not because it explains everything exhaustively but because it covers the basics of the whole expanse of what Christianity concerns, teaching the doctrine (the truth), the morality (the way), and the fellowship (the life) of the Christian faith. You will notice that the book is organized around the ancient discipleship structure “the way, the truth, and the life”. This book is a good tool to read with others and explore what it means to be a Christian and to help others learn how to do the same.
I recently wrote a series of devotionals through Isaiah for LifeWay.
Advent is a special and important time to reflect on the birth of Jesus and everything Jesus came to do. The goal for using the devotionals,
- Draw your family closer around the birth of Christ
- Help you develop fresh appreciation for why Christ came
- Adopt a purpose- and mission-filled approach to the busy Christmas season.
I encourage you to not only use it for your family but to share it with other families in your study groups.
Today our church celebrated her 26th anniversary! During our time of worship, my sermon focused on our mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ”. This story captures the relational nature of that mission.
By the power of God, equipped with the word of God, the people of God can accomplish the mission of God.
There is something special about pastoring a local church.
Being called to shepherd a local congregation and being a part of a particular church family is a blessing.
In the American church we often hold the megachurch pastors in high esteem becuase of the breadth of their influence. This is something we can be thankful for, if they steward their influence well.
However, let us not forget that the depth of ministry in a local community – through a local congregation – is a powerful witness to the kingdom of God.
While local church ministry happens in obscurity, it has profound implications on eternity.
In the past few years I have come to appreciate the ministry of Eugene Peterson. His writings have profoundly shaped my pastoral imagination.
Take a few minutes and watch this video from Nav Press and you will see why. Also, if you have not read any of Peterson’s books – I encourage you to do so. Here is a link to his Amazon Author’s Page.
As stated in my last post, I recently contributed to a free 10-week Bible study for the North Carolina Baptist State Convention called Patterned. This curriculum explores what it means to be a disciple-maker.
This free curriculum includes a downloadable workbook and videos for each session. Here is a list of the topics covered in the curriculum. I wrote the sessions for week 6 on community.
Week 1: Praying for the Lost
Week 2: Defining Evangelism and Discipleship
Week 3: Studying the Bible
Week 4: Telling your Story
Week 5: Gospel Conversations
Week 6: Community
Week 7: Unreached People Groups
Week 8: Ministry Opportunities/Storying
Week 9: Living Intentionally
Week 10: Transformation, not Information; Sending
Visit the website to find out more: Patterned