Pastor's Blog

I first wrote this column in May. I believe it’s important enough to rerun frequently. I hope you agree.

“Pastoral work, in large part, deals with the difficulty everyone has in staying alert to the magnificence of salvation.” So says Eugene Peterson (Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work). I believe he’s right.

Do you really know what it means to be “saved”? Read...

It’s an intriguing and enchanting story, that aspect of the nativity where the wise men visit the holy family in Bethlehem. Noble magi. Long journey. Mysterious star. Valuable gifts. From our perspective, it’s an enchanting story.

But from the perspective of the Jerusalem locals, it’s sadly ironic. Foreigners greet the King of the Jews, while His own people overlook Him. Pagans travel...

Getting together with family this Christmas? Here’s a tip:

Don’t be a Satanist.

I’m not joking, and I’m not exaggerating. I guarantee things will go better for everyone if you don’t follow Satan this Christmas. Let me explain…

Satan’s sin was, of course, pride. He was too jealous of God to enjoy heaven, and too full of himself to remain a citizen there. Satan’s theme song isn...

Was Jesus born on December 25? Probably not. The Bible doesn’t specify a date or even a month, but what little evidence we have points to a time for Jesus’ birth sometime in the fall, not the winter.

Nonetheless, Christians have commemorated Jesus’ birth on December 25 for well over 1,000 years. The first recorded “Feast of the Nativity” on December 25 was held in Rome in AD 336. Church...

The word “advent” simply means “coming.” When used in a Christian setting like ours, it refers to the arrival of Jesus Christ in the world.

For the people of God, however, Advent usually has much more to do with waiting than arriving. The four outer candles on the candelabra represent the four centuries of waiting between the end of the Old Testament and the Messiah’s birth. In our own...

C. S. Lewis called pain “God’s megaphone.” As he put it in The Problem of Pain: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” Among the many sources and types of pain, it’s physical pain in our bodies that shouts more loudly than perhaps anything else. I’ve been reminded of that more this week than usual—not so much in my own case, but in...

What shall I render to the LORD for all his benefits to me? I will lift up the cup of salvation and call on the name of the LORD, I will pay my vows to the LORD in the presence of all his people. (Ps 116:12-14)

I love the pairing of this answer with this question. The psalmist asks: “What can I give God in return for the favor He has shown to me?” Potential answers tumble into...

In the 25+ years I’ve been following Jesus, I’ve come to realize the Christian experience is a sustained tension between daily duties and deeper desires. I long for a deeper experience of God, more love, more power—what our Christian forefathers called “revival.” But my day-to-day Christian walk is usually rather uneventful and drab, composed of simple duties to be done and deliberate choices...

“And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day.” So ends the Bible’s opening chapter. All is well. In God’s own eyes, the new creation is “very good”—i.e., perfectly suited to human flourishing in every way.

The primeval paradise didn’t last long before sin ruined it. But thankfully, God has been working...

Every fall, we open the nomination process for new deacons and prepare to lose a few to sabbatical who have served out their full three-year term. Because deacons are defined and employed in such vastly different ways from one church to another, it seems helpful to reiterate our own understanding of their ministry.

Acts 6:1-7 gives the fullest introduction to the ministry of deacons. In...

This is the eighth (and final!) column in a series I’m writing to describe our goals and values for corporate worship. So far, I’ve said that we want our worship gatherings to be God-centered, cross-centered, and Scripture-saturated. We also value congregational engagement, cultural sensitivity, creative excellence, personal expressiveness, and musical variety. Our final value is ...

This is the seventh column in a series I’m writing to describe our goals and values for corporate worship. If you’ve not noticed by now, let me point out how these explanations are structured. Each value discussion begins with a series of “we believe” statements, followed by several practical implications. Beliefs first, behaviors second. Makes sense, right? What we believe always gives rise...

This is the sixth in a series of columns I’m writing to describe our goals and values for corporate worship. So far, I’ve said that we want our worship gatherings to be God-centered, cross-centered, and Scripture-saturated. We also value congregational engagement and cultural sensitivity. Two more this week: creative excellence and expressiveness.

Regarding creative excellence...

I’m writing an extended series of columns describing our goals and values for corporate worship. So far, I’ve said that we want our worship gatherings to be God-centered, cross-centered, and Scripture-saturated. Last week, I wrote about congregational engagement. Some churches want their predominant sound to be a gritty, cutting-edge musical style. Other churches like a resounding pipe organ....

What are the values that unite us in our corporate worship? For what are we aiming when we gather together on Sunday morning?

For the last several weeks, I’ve been answering these questions, one value at a time. So far, I’ve explained that we want our worship gatherings to be God-centered, cross-centered, and Scripture saturated.

Our fourth value for corporate worship is...

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