March 2010

No Surprise to God

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Have you ever been caught off guard in life? The first words out of your mouth in such times may have been, "Where in the world did that come from?"

Most of us have been in such places. As I observe the experiences of good people going through challenging times, these thoughts arise in my mind:

In Spite of the Pirates

"Hon, is this really our story we're telling?" I asked Rick recently, during a string of speaking engagements. It all seems unreal sometimes.

In the summer of 2007 Rick had pastored the same church for 16 years. Responsibilities in community and denomination afforded him few spare hours. Writing, speaking, and tiny grandchildren kept me active.

A mosquito bite changed all that. West Nile neurological disease assaulted Rick so violently, I dubbed it the "attack of the pirates."

Not Always the Straight and Narrow

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God has interwoven my career pathway like the laces in a pair of shoes, crisscrossing them back and forth. I've gone from local church ministry to overseas service, back to local church ministry in cross-cultural settings in the U.S., then back overseas, and now back to local church ministry. After more than four decades of this, I see something of what He had in mind in leading me along a zigzagging vocational trail.

"Come Here"

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Holy Week was filled with holy moments as, for four days, I visited "those who were sick and in prison." My 90-year-old mother lives in an Alzheimer's unit. The staff must lock the doors to keep the patients from wandering. To enter, you must press a big red button on the outside wall. To leave, you have to know the keypad combination.

A Life, a Lesson, and a Miracle

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The life of our seven-year-old daughter Beth hung in delicate balance on that early March morning. My wife, Kathy, and I with our children, Beth and David, had been on a trip from our home in Overland Park, Kansas, to Oklahoma when a car slid across the ice and snow into the path of our '73 Volkswagen bus. As the vehicles collided, Beth's head slammed hard against the frame of the front seat. All of us were hurt, with Beth sustaining the most serious injuries.

Married to a Pastor: Mixing Marriage and Ministry

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Editor's note: Holiness Today recognizes and affirms the fact that women and men serve as clergy. However, this article is directed toward the wives of male ministers because it is based on feedback received at a conference for women married to pastors.

'Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres' (I Corinthians 13:7).

A few years ago, after sharing with pastor's wives a seminar based on my book, She Can't Even Play the Piano! I invited the audience to respond. Frankly, I was amazed at the candor of one pastor's wife.

Co-pastoring: Shaping a Creative Ministry and Marriage

Co-pastoring is not as unusual as it used to be. That isn't to say that I don't get questions when I mention the way Dustin and I work together in the church. I do. The main question, from district superintendents to strangers we meet at Starbucks, is 'How does that work exactly?' It works amazingly well for us and for many other couples who share the role of pastoring a church.

Showing God's Goodness

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Connecting with your community through volunteer work can create numerous stages for showing God's goodness.

When I was a child, I remember hearing quartets sing, "I want my life to tell for Jesus; that everywhere I go, men may His goodness know . . ."

Where do I go that His goodness will show?

4 Ways Not to Goof Up a Sermon

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I really goofed up a sermon once. (Maybe more than once, but this particular incident stands out in my memory.)

In a seminary class, I preached a prepared sermon that came straight from my heart for the assigned text, Mark 10:13-16, on Jesus blessing the little children.

I spoke at length about how we can teach children the opposite of what Jesus intended by the way we treat them. I used several encounters with my father as examples of poor theological teaching.

Shared Essentials

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Receiving new members into the Church of the Nazarene was one of the highlights of my 38 years in pastoral ministry. The joy of expanding the Body of Christ takes on names and faces as new believers become family in the local church. The rite of membership embodies great meaning through sacred words, pledges of faith, and unity of essential beliefs.