August 2018

The Best Love Letter

The year after the Iron Curtain fell I visited Moscow, Russia, to teach a classroom filled with eager ministerial students. I appreciated the opportunity to invest in their young lives but really missed my wife. The Internet and email systems had not invaded the world of communications yet, so we corresponded through faxes. The phone system was not stable in those days, so it took many attempts in both directions for us to communicate.

In Quest of the Deeper Life

In my travels across the church, I have discovered that we have many committed, generous, and gifted people. Thank God for them. I have also become poignantly aware that we desperately need people of great spiritual depth! Such people are not cast in molds and produced instantly. They are chiseled out, like statues, over time. They are unsettling to status quo Christianity, but they blaze new trails.

The Beautiful and Messy Call of a Missionary

Within the treasure chest of missionary inspirations, David Livingstone’s question is found: “Cannot the love of Christ carry the missionary where the slave trade carries the trader?” His ministry in the 1800s focused on slavery in the heart of Africa. Livingstone’s true north was that the love of Christ for His world is a radically invasive, all-consuming, inclusive, and courageous plan of rescue and redemption carried out through the vessel of the missionary.

A Ministry for Everyone

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The Christian church has been attempting to apply Paul’s instruction to Ephesian believers for 2000 years when he said,

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:11-13).

Finding Wesley

The Background

In the corner of the living room at my childhood home, a built-in, oak bookcase prominently displayed my grandfather’s complete 13-volume, clothbound set of The Works of John Wesley. I am a third-generation Nazarene, so I was raised with a distinct appreciation for Wesley’s vital contributions to our Holiness doctrine. 

The Discovery

Sampling the Flavors

My younger son loves to experiment with a variety of flavors. Even as a small child, he liked to be in the kitchen when his mom or I were cooking, urging us to try various flavor combinations and sauces to get the most out of what we were making. His bold choices and combinations really did add to our meals, and the experience of mixing flavors and trying new things are both apt analogies for the boldness and excitement with which we as Christians are called to live our lives.

The Journey of Pastoral Vocation

Though all God’s followers have been tasked with preaching the gospel and sharing the love of Christ with the world, a pastor has been given the unique privilege and duty to live out that task vocationally. In an age when secularism is often pursued over spiritual formation, pastors must answer the call of God upon their lives to shepherd other Christians towards more Christlike living. The clerical gifts of proclamation, evangelism, administration and the like are profoundly essential to the church’s witness.