When You Feel Lost, Do This.

Lost in the WoodsMike Vilhauer just wanted to catch some fish, but on August 6, 2014, the 58-year-old from Sacramento wandered off the trail into the mountain wilderness to look for grasshoppers he could use as live bait. It took a while, but his journey paid off.Until it didn’t.After collecting a tube-full of little critters, he looked […]

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Taking the Low Ground

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought during the first week of July in 1863. If you are familiar with Michael Shaara’s historical novel, The Killer Angels, or have seen the 1993 film Gettysburg, you know that the struggle for Little Round Top was the turning point at Gettysburg, which many historians consider the most pivotal […]

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What is Wrong with the World?

The Bubonic PlagueIn the mid-14th century, a bacterium called yersinia pestis was carried by fleas from Asia to Europe, being transported on rats that commonly infested merchant ships. As these ships arrived in ports such as Constantinople, Marseilles, and Barcelona, the rats would disembark, carrying the infected fleas through Europe. And the Bubonic Plague was born.Estimates put […]

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My Need for a Good Samaritan

Skid RowMy eldest recently moved from the quiet and safety of Lookout Mountain, Tennessee to downtown Chattanooga. After a recent visit to see her new digs, Kristy and I took a back road as a short cut to a restaurant where we were going to meet my daughter and a friend for dinner.It was an […]

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Five Essential Boundaries for Marriage in an Age of Distraction and Temptation

Playground FencesWhen I was in elementary school, our playground sat next to a major city thoroughfare, with the swing-set located only ten yards from cars driving 50+ MPH.Why were 8-year-olds allowed to play on a swing-set so close to the road? Because the playground was surrounded by a tall fence, which acted as a boundary […]

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Should You Really Trust an Ancient Religious Document to Guide Your Life in the Modern World?

There are times in our lives when it will feel like we are in the dark as the fog descends and we can’t see the horizon. We will experience a spiritual form of spatial disorientation, where, because of the emotions associated with fear, guilt or peer pressure, we will be tempted to steer the plane […]

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Turning the Tables on Pass/Fail Religion

In Luke 7:36–50, Jesus turns over the tables on “pass/fail” religion.In pass/fail religion, the world is divided between those who are passing and those who are failing. In other words, good people pass and bad people fail. In this system, good people deserve to be rewarded with a good life while bad people deserve to receive coal and ashes.This is how the […]

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How to Clear the Drain When Marriage Gets Clogged

Marriage Will Not Fix the ProblemIn my pastoral experience, I have found that many engaged couples expect marriage to fix the problems that exist in their dating relationship.Conflict will evaporate in the atmosphere of marital bliss, right? Wrong.Big-time wrong.Marriage is not going to fix your problems. It will only make them worse.Sorry to burst your bubble.Now […]

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What if There is Incontrovertible Evidence for the Existence of God?

The Great Continental Divide extends from the Bering Strait in northern Alaska, through Canada, from Montana to New Mexico and all the way through Central and South America to the Strait of Magellan, in southern Chile.The divide is not named because it slices the continents into two halves. It is a hydrological divide that separates […]

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The Most Important Question a Human Can Ask

Quick Navigation But what does it mean to be saved? Saved from what?Cosmic TreasonThe Gospel of Luke 7:1–10Three Essential Factors1. Making a Confession of Total Inability2. Taking a Posture of Genuine Humility3. Believing the Declaration of Jesus I’m not sure when the tradition began, but years ago I brought a small white book to the dinner […]

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Eight Challenges Every Ministry Marriage Will Face

Quick Navigation 1. A Rivalry Between Ministry and Marriage.First, be realistic.Second, functionally prioritize the marriage relationship.Third, the wife can be a cheerleader for her husband’s ministry.Fourth, the pastor needs to find his righteousness in Jesus and not in his ministry record.2. Activities that are optional for church members feel like requirements for the ministry couple.3. […]

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3 Dangers of Religious Traditionalism (and How to Avoid Them)

Quick Navigation The Word of the Year1) The Danger of Doing2) The Danger of Hypocrisy3) The Danger of DeceptionThree Ways Out of Religious Traditionalism(1) Allow Isaiah 29:13 to x-ray my soul.(2) Identify the traditions I treat as the basis for God’s approval.(3) Believe that Jesus was defiled for me. The Word of the YearSince 2003, […]

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The Danger of Assuming Coverage

Quick Navigation Reviewing CoverageA CRY FOR HELPA Canaanite WomanTheological TermsAN UNEXPECTED SILENCELostOur NeedAN UNUSUAL EVANGELISM STRATEGYPerseveranceA TestEntitlement?A MODEL OF SAVING FAITHShe AgreesJesus’s PostureHow Can a Worm Refuse Reviewing CoverageIf your insurance agent contacts you about reviewing your homeowner’s policy, you may want to take him up on that. Most of us assume that our coverage […]

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Am I Sick Enough to Need Jesus?

I never suffered with allergies until I moved to Georgia. Along with the beauty of the mountains, there is something in the air, some strain of pollen or grass that triggers a river to begin flowing within my sinuses. My throat gets sore. My eyes itch. My head aches. Eventually, when I just couldn’t take it […]

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3 Ways Elders are Pacesetters

Quick Navigation Pace CarsElders Show Us How to CareElders Show Us How to ServeElders Show us How to Lead”Will You Give Your Blood?” Pace CarsThe first use of a pace car in automobile racing took place in 1911 at the inaugural Indy 500.A pace car is designed to do just what it says—it sets the […]

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Pastors, Let’s Stop Preaching Good Sermons

Quick Navigation A Challenging SeriesMy Shallow Understanding of GraceStop Preaching Good SermonsThe Scandal of the Gospel​The Continental Divide A Challenging SeriesI am preaching a sermon series on Sundays that is inspired by one of my living heros, Jerram Barrs. His book, Learning Evangelism from Jesus, is such a helpful portrait of how Jesus engaged sin-ravaged men […]

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pastors guilt

The Cause of and Cure for Pastor’s Guilt

THE DISEASEIf you are a pastor, you’ve suffered from a debilitating disease. You may not even know that you’ve been infected. But this illness has crippled your soul and is adversely affecting every aspect of your life, especially your personal spiritual health.In this post, I want to help diagnose this problem and help you start […]

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Homesick: My Longing for Things to Be as They Should

My first case of homesickness struck in the Missouri foothills. I was a ten-year-old at Camp Soaring Hawk and one of the few campers staying for both multi-week summer sessions. Although I had never been away from home before, things were okay while camp activities were taking place all day with new friends.Then they left.And […]

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What is a Distinctively Gospel-Centered Sermon?

Quick Navigation 1. A sermon is not gospel-centered just because it is a based on a passage in the Bible. 2. A sermon is not gospel-centered just because it mentions Jesus. 3. A sermon is not gospel-centered just because it provides a moral lesson or helpful life application. 4. A sermon is not gospel-centered just because it […]

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8 Ways to Help Young Children Enjoy “Big Church” on Sundays

If you have younger children who are used to a “little church” ministry that takes place during the sermon such as Creekstone’s GraceKids, here are some suggestions for how to coach them for the transition to “big church” on Sundays.1. Talk to your kids about what they will experience. They will get to sing. They […]

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