Spiritual Disciplines

  • Regular Pastors Have Regular Devotions

    Regular Pastors Have Regular Devotions

    Believe it or not, even pastors have regular devotions. We struggle. We get frustrated. We get discouraged. We fall short.

  • 6 Ways to Pray after Sutherland Springs

    6 Ways to Pray after Sutherland Springs

    When you turn to God after a tragedy so crushing, what do you say? Here are six suggestions of things to pray after Sutherland Springs (or after the next mass shooting).

  • The “A.C.T.S.” Prayer Is Missing a Letter

    The “A.C.T.S.” Prayer Is Missing a Letter

    I don’t remember the first time I learned it. I’m not sure how many dozens of times I’ve heard it taught. I don’t know how many times I’ve practiced it, or even how many times I’ve taught it to others. I do know the “A.C.T.S.” formula for prayer has been ingrained in my mind for…

  • Killing Sin

    Killing Sin

    I think many Christians live in a spiritual malaise, rut, funk … you pick the word, the Christian life just isn’t all they thought it would be. They prayed a prayer. They were baptized. They attend church. They read their Bible. They pray. But somehow it seems like they haven’t connected all the spiritual dots.…

  • Odd Tweets about Prayer

    Odd Tweets about Prayer

    This week I took five minutes to search Twitter for one word … “prayer.” The results were depressing and shocking. Part of me that wants to believe the best in people. I want to give folks the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe people don’t really mean what they tweet. However, the skeptic…

  • My Favorite 8 Books

    My Favorite 8 Books

    This is a simple post, just a list of my 8 favorite (Christian, non-fiction) books of all time.       The Holiness of God, by RC Sproul … An accessible treatment of God’s defining attribute. The Bondage of the Will, by Martin Luther … The classic Protestant work on “free will,” or lack-there-of. The Master Plan…

  • Giving Thanks

    Giving Thanks

    At Immanuel we recently wrapped up a three week sermon series about giving thanks. As you get ready for family and turkey and football, here are a few thoughts to keep in mind.   Instead of thanking God for the people who are in our lives, we should thank God for how his grace has…

  • Biblical Thanksgiving (Luke 17)

    Biblical Thanksgiving (Luke 17)

    Recently I opined about some of the oddities of thanksgiving in America (not just the holiday, but including that, too). My basic conclusion was that Americans are not particularly thankful people. When we do try to muster up gratitude we often give thanks for the wrong things. My suggestion is that we turn to the…

  • Biblical Thanksgiving (Psalm 100)

    Biblical Thanksgiving (Psalm 100)

    One final post about thanksgiving and gratitude this week … This one centered on Psalm 100 (aka, “Old 100th”). Of the 150 psalms in the book of Psalms, only this one bears the designation, “A psalm for giving thanks.” William Kethe and Isaac Watts both wrote hymns based on Psalm 100. Charles Spurgeon reportedly said,…

  • Confession III, People

    Confession III, People

    Recently I’ve been writing “confessions.” I wrote a confession about my quiet time, and I wrote a confession about family devotions. Here’s my third confession: I’m not a people person. To those who know me best, this comes as no surprise. I’m not particularly patient, I’m easily irritated, and I’m not very talkative. Spending too…

  • Confession II, Family Devotions

    Confession II, Family Devotions

    Last week I wrote the first post in a series of “confessions.”  That post was a confession about my “quiet time.” This week I’m posting a confession about family devotions, which will actually be a series of confessions.     We don’t have family devotions every night. Some days are too busy, and some nights are…

  • Confession I, Quiet Time

    Confession I, Quiet Time

    Over the next few weeks I’m going to write a series of “confessions.” The first confession is about my “quiet time.” However, before I get to the actual confession there’s one small thing I need to confess: I hate the phrase “quiet time.” Really, I don’t like the term at all. When I hear the…

  • The Last Sermon You Heard

    The Last Sermon You Heard

    Think back to the last sermon you heard. Do you remember it? What was the passage? What was the topic? What was the main idea? What were the supporting points? Odds are you don’t remember many of these things. You might remember a funny story or two. Maybe you remember the topic or the passage.…

  • 3 Wrong Ways to Read Your Bible

    3 Wrong Ways to Read Your Bible

    Recently I posted a few ideas about how to study your Bible. I hope the post was encouraging as you think about how you will study God’s Word. This week my goal is not encouragement, but warning. I want to warn you about three wrong ways to read your Bible. Use a devotion book in place of…

  • The #1 Question I’ve Been Asked as a Pastor

    The #1 Question I’ve Been Asked as a Pastor

    What is the #1 question I’ve been asked as a pastor? It’s not a philosophical question about the problem of evil (why bad things happen to good people). It’s not a tricky Bible question about hotly debated issues. Here it is: “Pastor, can you recommend a good devotional book.” Honestly, I’m amazed how many times I’ve been…

  • 3 Thoughts about Daily Bible Reading

    3 Thoughts about Daily Bible Reading

    “The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul.” (Psalm 19:7) “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105) “Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.” (John 17:17) “All Scripture is breathed out by God.” (2 Timothy 3:16) “For the word of God is…

  • 3 Ways to Prepare for Easter Sunday

    3 Ways to Prepare for Easter Sunday

    Easter Sunday is coming, and families all across the United States are busy making preparations. Many will purchase new church clothes, spend time with family, eat a big meal after church, take family pictures, and hunt Easter eggs. All of these activities require preparation. You’ve got to shop for new clothes, coordinate calendars, plan the big meal,…

  • 7 Questions about Stewardship

    7 Questions about Stewardship

    Here are seven diagnostic questions that will help you evaluate your faithfulness in the areas of stewardship, money, and giving:       Do I think of my money as my money or God’s money? Get this question right, and the rest will fall into place. When you give you must think of it as God…

  • 7 Questions to Evaluate Stewardship

    7 Questions to Evaluate Stewardship

    Recently I shared several lessons about stewardship from 2 Corinthians 8-9. This week I want to offer seven diagnostic questions that can help you evaluate how you are stewarding the money Jesus has entrusted to you.     Do I think of my money as my money or God’s money? When you give, do you give as if…

  • 7 Ways to Pray for the Sick

    7 Ways to Pray for the Sick

    Attend a typical prayer meeting in the United States … Read a typical prayer list for an American church … Odds are those meetings and lists will be dominated by people with health problems. People with cancer. People with sick kids. People who have been injured. People on hospice care. Of course there will be…

  • 7 Ways to Pray When a Church Member Dies

    7 Ways to Pray When a Church Member Dies

    When someone dies we often tell their loved ones, “I’ll be praying for you.” But I wonder, do we really pray for them? And if so what do we actually ask God to do? How should you pray when one of your church members dies?

  • God Wants Your Money! Or Is It His Money?

    God Wants Your Money! Or Is It His Money?

    It’s true. God wants your money. Before you label me as a health and wealth heretic, let me offer three qualifications. First, God doesn’t need your money. Psalm 50:10-11 is clear, God owns all things. Thus, he needs nothing. And to be abundantly clear, even if God did need something he would not as you…

  • Quiet Time VS Church Time

    Quiet Time VS Church Time

    What’s more important? The time you spend alone with God, or the time you spend with other believers at church? Most of you are smart enough to say the answer is both … Personal spiritual disciplines are important (Bible reading and prayer) … But community and church with other believers are also important (sermons, singing, serving). If your…

  • Bible Reading, Duty or Delight?

    Bible Reading, Duty or Delight?

    As a pastor, I desperately want the people in my church to read the Bible. Not just when they come to big church or Bible study, but during the week on their own. I want my people to read the Bible regularly and consistently. I want my people to study the Word, memorize the Word,…

  • Resolutions: Social Media

    Resolutions: Social Media

    2017 is almost here. That means it’s time to think about resolutions for a new year. I know you’ve made a thousand resolutions in the past, and I know you’ve broken many of them. Still, I think personal reflection and new resolve to do better are good habits to cultivate. To that end, I want…

  • Resolutions: Spiritual Disciplines

    Resolutions: Spiritual Disciplines

    As 2017 approaches, many of us are thinking about personal resolutions for the new year. One resolution that is always on my radar (and I think should always be on your radar) is the practice of spiritual disciplines. I bet you’re a lot like me. You’ve made and broken many resolutions about Bible reading, prayer,…

  • Resolutions: Time Management

    Resolutions: Time Management

    The last two weeks I’ve posted reflections about resolutions for the new year (Controlling Social Media, and Spiritual Disciplines). This week I want to offer one final reflection about something I need to work on in 2017: Time Management. The thoughts in this post are not intended to be a universal list for all people. Please don’t read…

  • Living with Hurt

    Living with Hurt

    From my perspective as a pastor, it seems like churches go through seasons of crises. One year it’s marital problems, and it seems like every marriage is falling apart. The next year it’s illness and death, and it seems like every family is suffering loss. Other times it’s just people who are struggling with emotional,…

  • Praying for ISIS

    Praying for ISIS

    Last week there were plenty of posts about Paris and ISIS, which led to more posts about the United States and refugees. Many of these posts talked about what needed to happen, what should happen, or what wasn’t happening. Many of these posts talked about how Christians should feel or respond to terrorism, refugees, and…

  • Don’t Waste Your Summer

    Don’t Waste Your Summer

    May has almost arrived! That means summer is right around the corner. In a few weeks school will dismiss and the craziness of summer will be upon us. There will be weekend getaways, family vacations, sports tournaments, summer camps, and plenty of afternoons at the pool. In the midst of all that craziness, it can…

  • 5 Reasons You Should Be Wary of Christian Podcasts

    5 Reasons You Should Be Wary of Christian Podcasts

    Recently I wrote about 5 reasons you should listen to Christian podcasts. Today I’m playing devil’s advocate and giving you 5 reasons you should be wary of Christian podcasts.     “Christian” podcasts often contain heretical teaching. Just because you find someone on the religious section of iTunes, and just because they claim to be Christian, doesn’t…

  • 5 Reasons You Should Listen to Christian Podcasts

    5 Reasons You Should Listen to Christian Podcasts

    If you’re not listening to Christian podcasts, I think you’re missing out. Here are 5 reasons you should be listening to Christian podcasts (tomorrow I’ll post 5 reasons you should be wary of “Christian” podcasts).   Podcasts can give you more exposure to the Word of God. Pastors often lament the fact that in a week of…