Let’s say you are thinking of becoming a Christian

You know some things about Jesus and you find yourself drawn to Him.

You wonder what to do now, where to start.

Here are some suggestions…

One. Go to the primary source, not a secondary one.    A primary source is one that is close to the subject, that is the basis for what we know and believe. A secondary source is one written about the primary source.

Two.  In other words, read the Bible and not just books about the Bible.Start by reading the Four Gospels–Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.  These are the opening “books” of the New Testament, and give us all we know about His earthly life and ministry.  I’d suggest you read them again and again.  — You will find a lot of similarities.  It’s pretty well agreed that Mark’s was first, and was written, according to some of the earliest believers, at the dictation of the Apostle Peter.  But each gospel is different in interesting ways.  Read them several times.

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What search committees say but mean something else

You should never volunteer for the pastor search committee unless one of two things is true: Everyone agrees that your former youth minister, who is serving a church in Podunk and was so beloved, is going to be the next pastor, making this the easiest job ever; or, you have a death wish.

It can be the hardest, most thankless assignment you’ll ever have.

It can also make a world of difference for good in a church that needs just the right combination of visionary pastor, anointed preacher, competent administrator, and down-to-earth friend.

If your church is selecting such a committee, pray big time for the Lord to lead in filling the slots. Never volunteer for it.  Accept it if the Lord leads you and those making the decision.  If you are a member of such a group, then this little piece is for you.  Think of what follows as a cautionary note, exaggerated in places, attempting a little humor at times, but with much truth.

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What every pastor needs and cannot live without

My friend was telling me about the woes of a church in the next town.

“They got a new pastor.  He moved in and took over.  When he got wind of something going on in the church weekday school he didn’t like, he called the principal and teachers in and fired them.  He sent the students home and told them the church didn’t have a school any more.”

I said, “He closed the school?”

“Just like that.  Did it on his own authority.”

“Was the school in trouble or anything?”

“Not to my knowledge.  We know people who sent their children there. It seemed to be a fine school.”

“So what happened?”

“Everyone is upset.  Some of the members left and went to other churches, and attendance is down in that church.”

“Nothing more?”

“Not to my knowledge.”

I find this incredulous.

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Last one standing

In September 1939, Winston Churchill became First Lord of the Admiralty for the second time.  A quarter of a century earlier, during the First World War, he held the same position.  To assume the leadership of the greatest navy of the world twice was an amazing thing.  To do so 25 years apart was even more remarkable.

Churchill thought of all the great officers he had worked with the first time.  They were all gone now. He alone was still living and serving. In one of his books on the Second World War, Churchill quotes this little piece from the Irish poet Thomas Moore….

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10 reasons not to pray for Donald Trump–and one “huge” one for

All right. It’s Wednesday, the day after.

If you stayed up for the election returns last night, you’re experiencing something like a hangover today.

Donald Trump has been named President-elect of this country.

Like it or not, he won.  And half the country does not like it, let us admit.

Which statement we could just as easily make if Hillary Clinton had been elected instead.  Half the country either way.  The very definition of divided.

I want to say a word to my friends who are trying to get their minds around this development which all the polls and most of the media said would not happen. 

Next January, Donald Trump and his wife Melania will move into the White House and he into the Oval Office.  Everything inside you weeps at the thought.

When friends (like me) urge you to pray for Mr. Trump as we are commanded, something inside you rebels at the thought.

Here are some reasons that may explain why some among us do not wish to pray for the man…

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Thoughts about remarriage: Nothing changes; everything changes

In an article on this website, I told how Bertha Fagan and I met last February 15 and quickly came to see, in the words of Psalm 118:23 that “this is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our sight.”

Making plans for marriage–at some point; we’re still undecided as to when–is certainly exciting and more than a little scary.  A relative said, “I admire your courage.”  I thought to myself, “Courage is the right word. It takes courage to uproot your lives, sell your homes, downsize your possessions, and merge your existence with another person for the last years of your life.”

It takes faith.

There are so many issues, questions to be settled, matters to be determined before we take that step.

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The preacher disagreed with me. How dare he!

“…they received the Word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).

When I asked where he went to church, the man working on my house said, “I used to go to church across the river.  But the preacher said something I disagreed with.”

It was all I could do not to laugh out loud.

But he was serious.

After giving him a moment to elaborate, which he did not do, I said, “Man, I would hope so.”

He seemed interested.

I said, “Wouldn’t it be terrible to have a preacher who said only the things that I know and taught only what I believe? What would be the point of going to hear him if I already knew what he was going to say? There’s so much more to God than what little I already know!”

Lord, make us teachable.

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Truths the devil uses to stop us from praying

The forces of hell will do anything to keep us from praying.

Satan tells lies to keep us from praying.  He uses pleasures and misinformation and our laziness to keep us from praying.  He uses false teachers and busy schedules and great television to keep us from praying.

He also has been known to use truth.

As odd as it seems, the dark prince does not hesitate to speak the truth if it will make us think we shouldn’t pray.

Here are eight true statements Satan uses to put a stop to the most powerful force in the world, the prayers of God’s people…

1–God already knows what you need. No point in asking.

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How the pastor can go public on controversial issues–and survive.

Tony Campolo once wrote a book he called “20 Hot Potatoes Christians are afraid to touch.” He had his own list, as I expect each of us could come up with ours.

Controversial issues, particularly those involving political campaigns, certainly qualify.  A pastor may be risking his ministry in that church, if not his entire career, by taking a public stand on something dividing his community.

It’s not enough for him to say he tried to reason with them or that the Lord was leading him.  People can be blindly passionate about subjects dear to their heart, and are willing to run over anyone getting in their way.

Tread softly, pastor.  You might want to get your Hazmat suit out of storage.

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“Honor the king.” And other impossible commands.

“Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” (I Peter 2:17)

The Lord seems to delight in calling His disciples to do impossible things, actions which the flesh rebels against, the world scoffs at, and we sometimes question.

I expect He’s trying to shock us out of our comfort zone and into the freedom of the Spirit where obedience to Him is as natural as breathing and where we do our best work.

His is a big job.  To our detriment, we find ourselves questioning most of our Lord’s commands and dragging our feet about obeying some in particular.

For most, the four brief commands of I Peter 2:17 rank among the least doable and most unpleasant.  Nor are we allowed to dismiss them as “not from Jesus but from Peter.” We either believe in the inspiration of Holy Scripture or we do not.

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