A few years ago while in Israel, I climbed Masada on the snake path. To go from the lowest point of the earth, the Dead Sea, to the top of a mountain fortress is, to say the least, a challenge. My guide told me of a pastor who runs that snake path. He can get to the top in less than thirty minutes. For a good hike, at a good pace, it takes about an hour. You have to adjust to changing altitudes and the path is very narrow and there are no rails. If you start to fall, you’re going to roll a long way down the side before you hit the bottom.
It is a fascinating hike. The scenery will take your breath away as your mind races with thoughts about how a massive fortress was built on top of Masada so many years ago. When we got to the top and I joined our group, Terri thought I was about to have a heart attack. My face was blood-red and I was sweating like crazy…but it was worth it to be able to say, in my 60s, that I had climbed Masada. Continue reading
Every week, pastors and ministers deal with life and death situations. We have to constantly remind ourselves we are in the land of the dying on our way to the land of the living. This world is not our home. Through the years, I’ve had to remind people of that as they face crisis situations that threaten to shatter their faith or cause them to question the love of God. We have to remember that everything is not always as it seems. There is an unseen world and often the unseen hand of God in all that we encounter. Continue reading
My life is built around words. I write. I speak. I carry on conversations. I have opinions and convictions. These are all expressed in words. Words can help. Words can heal. Words can lift people up or cause people to stumble.
The psalmist penned valuable wisdom when he wrote, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my rock and my Redeemer” (19:14). That’s a good prayer to pray in a world of words. Doesn’t the Bible say we will be judged by our words? OUCH! Sometimes I wish God hadn’t brought that up. Continue reading
My home church closed its doors recently. After decades of limping along, they finally pronounced the last rites and admitted they could no longer maintain the facilities. Though once a significant witness in my small hometown and centrally located on the main drag, the church was unable to sustain itself. Where once rooms were filled with preschoolers, children, and young people, hallways had become silent, rooms were locked off, and twenty-five elderly saints huddled up and held on as long as they could.
It didn’t have to happen, and it should never have been this way. I grew up in the church’s heyday. I know what it was like then, and I know what it could have been. Unfortunately, some person or group along the way decided that the Great Commission didn’t apply to them, and they quit reaching the community. Continue reading
In a recent study, some truths about our denomination were revealed. Even with all the smoke and mirrors we could muster up, the reality is undeniable. Of the 46,000 Southern Baptist churches in North America, 41,600 are plateaued, dying, or near death. If this is true among evangelicals who believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, how much more is this true among the mainline denominations?
We have a choice. We can abandon ship, point fingers, or hide our heads in the sand. However, the church that is walking with God will get busy praying, serving, and giving to ensure this doesn’t happen on our watch. Continue reading