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Practical steps to having a welcoming church
Nov04

Practical steps to having a welcoming church

Have you ever considered how much preparation and planning goes into getting ready for a typical Sunday when we gather for worship and Bible study? We do it every week—plan and rehearse music, sermon preparation, Bible studies planned, volunteers contacted and more! We love to get together as the “family” of God, but we are ever aware that it is our joy and privilege to welcome guests who are new to the community or might even be...

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Bible Q&A: Is there a sin that cannot be forgiven? (Mark 3:28-29)
Oct28

Bible Q&A: Is there a sin that cannot be forgiven? (Mark 3:28-29)

One of the most difficult statements that Jesus utters is found in Mark 3:28-29 and involves Jesus warning against blasphemy against the Holy Spirit (see also the parallel in Matt. 12:31-32). Mark narrates a series of conflict stories between Jesus and the Pharisees. The conflict began when Jesus pronounced the paralytic’s sins forgiven. The Pharisees thought to themselves, “Why does He (Jesus) speak like this? He’s blaspheming! Who...

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Rolling back the film
Oct21

Rolling back the film

I love seeing old pictures or films that give a glimpse of how life was lived and what culture looked like in bygone days, exposing me to history I never could have lived or reminding me of the now-changed landscape of my past. I like to be able, somehow, to grasp what came before or recapture my own life lived. Abandoned places intrigue me, too. They hold a bit of mystery. The why’s, how’s and what’s. What circumstances led to its...

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Text talk: What is good preaching?
Oct14

Text talk: What is good preaching?

Frequently at the end of a worship service, as church members greet their pastor on their way out the door, you hear these words, “Good sermon, preacher!” Sometimes when pastors get together and the conversation turns to church life, a particular pastor is mentioned, and someone says, “Man, he’s a good preacher!” But what is good preaching? Some may see it as being entertaining. Perhaps the speaker is a good storyteller or maybe can...

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Shine: Diminishing the significance of baptism
Oct07

Shine: Diminishing the significance of baptism

Recently I had two experiences that caused me to wonder if we have lost the significance of baptism in some of our churches. The first experience was a baptismal service in which anyone and everyone who wanted to be baptized was invited to come and be baptized. People came forward for the celebration of baptism and made statements like: “The rest of my family was being baptized, so I decided to get baptized again;” “I have never been...

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Pure and undefiled religion
Sep30

Pure and undefiled religion

“Pure and undefiled religion before God the Father is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself unstained from the world” (James 1:27). Growing up in northern Oklahoma, my father served as a deacon in our church. He often took me along to make hospital visits, welcome new members to our church and serve the widows in his care. I have great memories of serving alongside my dad to care for our widows....

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