So happy to announce that the three books Jim Johnson and I co-wrote on “God’s Great Story” are finally available! They were supposed to be released at the same time in 2020, but then came COVID. So the publisher released one in 2021, one in 2022, and the final one in 2023. Here’s the lineup. If you know someone who needs one, please order and send. Thank you!
Here’s what it’s about and why I wrote it.
The church in America is badly divided. Christians are fighting over politics, morals, theology-you name it, we’re angry about it. But it doesn’t have to be that way. We can fight less and love more. How?
We must stop using CAPITAL letters when we talk about hot topics. CAPS imply anger, shouting, a closed mind. It’s time to SCRAP THE CAPS. Instead, we must use little letters. They require patience and nuance and aim at building a broader tent.
What big topics need little letters? Let’s start with conservative, liberal, LGBTQ+, abortion, calvinist, arminian, heaven, and hell. We can stop arguing, fighting, and canceling each other, if we will learn to use little letters. Here’s your guide to 101 words that you can talk about in love.
This is the link to the e-book onAmazon. The paperback version will come out soon.
We are excited to announce that our newest book, Finding Your Place in God’s Great Story for Little Ones, will be released on August 30. We think you’ll find it to be a fun and engaging story for the little ones in your life.
My daughter, Kari, co-wrote this book with Jim Johnson and myself, and her experience as a mom of four boys (as well as being a teacher) means this was written with you in mind.
The book is available on August 31, and you can pre-order your copy on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, or Christianbook.com. (BTW, Christianbook.com is offering a 35% discount right now. Woohoo!)
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You have lots of habits. Have you ever asked yourself why?
- Why do you eat? Brush your teeth? Shower? Use deodorant? Shave?
- Why do you talk to family and friends? Play games and laugh with them? Shop with them? Share meals with them?
- Why do you go to work? Pay bills? Save money? Invest money? Give away money?
The answer is simple: you prefer order over chaos. If you stopped any of those habits for very long, your life would become one huge mess. Chaos would reign.
Now since we all value order over chaos, we practice these habits regularly. They are necessary for the orderly functioning of our bodies, social lives, and finances. But did you know that certain habits are also necessary if you want to maintain a dynamic relationship with God?
I believe that the single most important spiritual habit you can ever develop and practice is daily worship. It is your lifeline to God. It is the way you abide in Christ. It is how you stay perpetually filled with the Spirit.
For daily worship to be meaningful, you will need to know who God is, what worship is, and why we worship God. You will want to understand how you can worship every day of your life – with others on Sunday, in private on Monday-Saturday, and in your daily life, 24/7.
That was my topic this past Sunday. If you missed my message, I urge you to watch or listen to it right here. If you accept the challenge I give at the end of the message, you will likely establish a lively habit of daily worship.
Let me know if you accept the challenge. I want to pray for you.
As Covid marches on, two sectors of our society continue to show sacrificial courage: first responders and healthcare professionals.
Those in the healthcare field have given their all to people with the coronavirus, whatever the strain. They’ve given care in offices, ERs, urgent care clinics, hospitals, nursing homes, and rehab centers. At the same time they have been caring for people without Covid, offering the highest level of care to each one. They have literally risked their own welfare on behalf of all of us.
First responders have done the same. Firefighters, EMTs, and paramedics go into homes to render life-saving emergency aid, knowing they could be infected with the virus as they serve. Law enforcement officers have kept order in the most hostile political and social climate I’ve seen since 1968, when assassinations, protests, and riots were daily news. Were 2020-21 as bad as 1968? I don’t know, but being a police officer either time would be a tough task. They risked their own welfare on behalf of all of us.
When someone risks their life for you, what is the appropriate response? Thanks!
It seem so obvious. But sometimes we forget.
Luke records a fascinating story in chapter 17 that will help us remember. Here it is.
One day in the spring of AD 30, Jesus was walking toward Jerusalem with his disciples. When they came to the border between Galilee and Samaria they were about to enter a village. Ten men with leprosy suddenly appeared and cried out, “Jesus, heal us!” Jesus said, “It shall be so! Go to the priests, & let them pronounce you clean.” As they walked away, their leprosy disappeared!
Now what do you think they did? I know what I would do. I would celebrate! I would find my family and friends and give them a great big bearhug. I would go to the market, where I had been spat upon, and I’d show everyone my normal skin. I would go to the synagogue and let them know I would be front row center on the next Sabbath. I would go everywhere that I had been forbidden to go. I’m guessing that’s what those men did. At least, that’s what nine of them did. But one of them, a Samaritan, did something different. As soon as he saw that he was healed, he ran straight back to the Healer. He fell on his face at Jesus’ feet and thanked him over and over and over. Jesus, who was a whiz at math, asked his disciples, “Didn’t I heal ten? Where are the other nine?”
That’s the question for you today: are you one of the nine who forgot to say Thank You to healthcare professionals and first responders? Or are you the one who stopped to say I’m grateful for you.
Do you owe some overdue Thank You’s? It’s not to late to be the one.
In the midst of the Covid pandemic, some people made life easier and better for all of us. When the virus was at its worst, they were at their best. Despite being unnoticed and often taken for granted, they kept showing up and working. It’s time to say a collective Thank You.
Who am i talking about? Essential workers.
During the boring, numbing days of COVID quarantine, they were the ones who stocked the grocery shelves and filled our pick-up orders. They picked up our trash. They watched our little ones. They served us in fast-food lines. They deposited our checks. They waited on us at garden shops and office stores. They cut and styled our hair. They changed the oil in our cars. They delivered our mail. They delivered our dinner. Your life worked because they were working.
I spoke to bank teller a few months ago and thanked her for being an essential worker over the previous year. She said, “Well, I had to come to work … but I wanted to help people!”
I hope you will pause to thank essential workers for all the ways they have served and continue to serve you.
If you want to find our how serving others is a posture God calls all of us to take toward others, and how we thanked essential workers, check out my message from last week.
And if you want a glimpse into what it’s like to be an essential worker at a local fast food franchise, don’t miss the serious/silly video starting at 29:12.
Let’s say Thank You … Let’s serve …
Am I the only one, or do you also hate talking about death? We can talk about college football, fabulous Tex-Mex, or fun places to take kids. But death? Ugh.
Knowing how we tend to avoid the topic, but still need to address it at times, I posted a survey on Facebook last week. I asked: What do you think will happen to you when you die? Here are the options you could choose from:
• I will cease to exist (We call this Naturalism – only nature exists, and when it’s gone, it’s gone.)
• I will become a ghost or an angel (This is known as Spiritualism – spirit is more real than matter.)
• I will come back in another life form (This is Hinduism’s reincarnation.)
• I will be with God, who one day will give me a new body for eternity (Christians call this resurrection.)
• I’m not sure – I try not to think about death (In any language, this is Denial.)
How would you answer that question?
No matter what option you choose, you are facing two hard realities: first, you will die; second, you will then find out if you only live once … or if you will live forever.
You only live once – YOLO for short – Is the worldview of postmodern Western culture. But is that what Jesus believed? Is that what the Apostle Paul taught? Is that what Christians stand for?
If you are a Christian, then you profess to believe the essential teachings of the New Testament, which are summarized in the Apostles’ Creed. That creed includes these words: “I believe in the resurrection of the body and in life everlasting.”
So what do you think? Do you only live once? Or will you live forever?
Last Sunday I spoke on YOLO. The message came from 1 Corinthians 15. Many people told me how much it meant to them. If you missed it, check it out here.
We live in a World of Wow! There are certain people whose talents and gifts are so rare that when we see what they can do, we stand in awe. Only superlatives can describe them: Awesome! Fabulous! Wow!
It’s how you feel when you watch Olympic athletes, American Idol winners, or National Spelling Bee champions. Wow! How can they do such amazing things?!
But when you look at yourself, the comparisons aren’t favorable. I’m not like that … I’ll never be like that … What does that say about me?
We can’t get away from the World of Wow. But as Christ-followers, we must learn to think differently. After all, what if we’re reading the wrong playbook? What if we’re taking cues from the wrong guide? What if the World of Wow is upside down from the Kingdom of God, and God’s Kingdom is right-side up?
What if every believer in Jesus is gifted and talented, including you?
What if God has designed you to use your gifts and talents to serve him and his children?
What if God is calling you to embrace and use the gifts he’s given you, for his glory … for the benefit of others … and even for your own joy and fulfillment?
Last Sunday I took a deep dive into 1 Corinthians 12 and unveiled six life-changing truths about how God has made you. Interested in more? Here’s a link to my message. Let me know if it helped you.
After graduating from seminary, Robin and I moved to Troy, TX where I became the pastor of the First Baptist Church. We moved into the small parsonage next door to the church which was located on the access road to I35. Not exactly a quaint place to raise a young family. While moving in I discovered that the utility nook was four inches too small to accommodate both the washing machine and the dryer. As a result, we had to put the dryer out in the garage. This was particularly annoying to me because I was “the laundry guy.” Whenever I took a load out of the washer, there would always be a recalcitrant sock or pair of underwear that would drop on the way to dryer. Then, I’d have to stoop down to pick them up and inevitably drop another pair or two in the process. Frustrating!
One Wednesday evening after the church supper and Bible study, several of us were sitting around the tables and enjoying a little Baptist fellowship. Somehow the parsonage came up in the conversation and I took the opportunity to ask the question I had been dying to ask, “Why did ya’ll build the utility nook in the parsonage too small to house both the washer and dryer?” And without missing a beat, three women spoke up in chorus, “Because there were no women on the building committee.” This response caused me to answer the question listed above in the pull quote, “What else is the church missing because the intellect, and the experience, and the gifts of women are not allowed to be lived out or appreciated in the highest levels of leadership.”
If you’ve ever wondered the same thing, or what the Bible really says about the place of women in the church, check out this message where I take an in depth look at God’s original intent for the role of women in creation and the new creation in Christ.
Til next time!
Jim “The Laundry Guy”