It’s common, even for non or non-practicing Christians, to “give something up for Lent.” Fasting during this somber season is an ancient Christian practice. What is fasting? Why should (or shouldn't you) give something up for Lent?
I had a realization a few weeks ago: Jesus didn’t write anything. Unlike many historical figures or religious leaders, he himself left no writings. Yes, we believe the Bible is inspired by God, but Jesus didn’t actually pen it. Why is this important?
My congregation just launched a capital campaign. And we typically do a stewardship emphasis in November. Money and the church. It’s a sensitive topic. So why should a Christian give to their local church? How does a congregation talk about money?
The giving of a tithe or offering is revelatory. It says something about you. For the Christian, sacrificial giving is:
Serving Christ can be agonizing. Jesus said it himself, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake . . ." (Matt. 5:10).
Especially for those working in called ministry positions, there is a weight. A burden. A cloud of pressure derived from spiritual forces under responsibility which has eternal consequences.
You've asked, "How much difference am I making? Should I go on? Should I give up? "
Here is some help from 19th century English preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon. The following is from his Lectures to My Students.
What do you say in the face of death? What do you say to grieving family, friends, or neighbors? What has been said to you when you lost a loved one?
There’s the awkward moment in the greeting line at the funeral home. There is a hesitation the first time you see a friend after his mom died. There is the debate over whether you should call, stop by, or send a card. Or what do you say a month later, or on the one year anniversary?
Knowing there are a variety of circumstances and contexts, here are a few things to say at death.
This is a message for fake Christians. Which, by the way, includes you . . . and me.
We put on a face. Pretend to be someone who is not truly us. Conceal what's real in order to appear attractive.
As a Christian, do you ever feel pressure to be someone you're not?
Tomorrow I get on a bus with 55 teenagers and ten adults from my church. Twelve hours later, we'll join 25,000 teens in New Orleans for an event that occurs every three years in my church body: the National Youth Gathering.
Miles of walking ("Oops, that's Bourbon Street.")
Crowds of sweaty high school students.
Speakers, bands, and mass gatherings in the Superdome.
Why do this?
If Christianity is only about "going to church," the church is in trouble.
If the church only exists for one hour a week, there are 167 hours that are void of the presence of God's people.
Eleven years ago I was sitting in a chapel packed with 1,000 people. My name was called and I walked forward. I was about to discover where I would be a pastor.
I thought I was going to Denver. Or possibly back to my native Minnesota or nearby Wisconsin. Instead, I was headed just a few miles south of the seminary campus. I forced a smile in front of a thousand people as I returned to my seat in disappointment.
Today is Call Day at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO. There will be many sweaty palms as candidates find out where they will relocate their life and ministry. Many will probably say what I said. "That's not where I wanted to go."
Here are three things I learned from Call Day. True for pastors, or anyone called to a place they'd rather not go.
My 10-year-old daughter surprised me with a simple question. We were driving to church when she asked why we celebrate Easter year after year. It wasn't a rebellious question, rather a curious one. "It's the same story every year. If we know it already, why do we do it again and again?"
It seems a simple and practical inquiry. Why keep doing something if we seem to "get it already?" In our school systems, after you master one lesson, you move on to the next. This could be applied to Christmas as well. Or for that matter, weekly worship.
Why do we keep gathering around the same old story again and again? I've heard: