Fisher of Men

Opportunities Busy Pastors Miss

Busyness in ministry is an epidemic. As our world moves faster and faster, pastors are being sucked into a vortex of tasks, projects, emails, and goals. The problem is that when you get overwhelmed, you get tunnel vision. Your perspective of your church becomes as narrow as your to-do list. What inevitably happens is that the important, but not urgent aspects of ministry get pushed to the bottom of the list. Yet, if we are honest, it is in those important, but not urgent areas where we make the biggest impact. It is where the best opportunities lie. But we sacrifice that for an empty email inbox. What opportunities are you missing out on because you are overwhelmed in ministry? Below I list three opportunities busy pastors might miss when they get too task focused. I’ll warn you, these are...

What’s the Christian Life All About?

Over the past several years the church seems to have experienced some degree of gospel renewal. We now have conferences like The Gospel Coalition and Together for the Gospel, a fresh emphasis on preaching the gospel from all of Scripture, and lots and lots of books with the word “gospel” somewhere in the title. I think this is a good thing and consider myself largely in step with this movement. But there is a danger of turning “gospel” into a buzzword. A few years ago, member in our church expressed confusion about how often our church’s teaching used the word “gospel.” In her thinking, the gospel was the plan of salvation and she found it confusing when we talked about the gospel being the solution to this or that problem. But she also said that when we started talking about the person an...

Today’s Speed Bumps to Evangelism

“Now that we no longer have a Judeo-Christian basis for our country,” explained evangelical theologian Norman Geisler in a recent interview, “we are realizing that we are losing all our freedoms along with it.” According to the Christian Post, Geisler went on to say, “Our job is to speak to the culture and help re-establish our Judeo-Christian basis or our freedom is going to be swept away.” There is no question that Geisler is correct about our freedom. As I wrote several weeks ago, our liberty is being compromised beginning with our religious freedom — the freedom on which all other freedoms depend. And there’s no question that Geisler is correct that our freedoms are founded on a Judeo-Christian worldview. History makes it clear that once you take that worldview away, fr...

Duck Dynasty’s Miss Kay

The beloved matriarch of Duck Dynasty, Kay Robertson, talks about her new book, “Miss Kay’s Duck Commander Kitchen.” Faith in God and enjoying great times around the dinner table have brought their family together for generations and the same can be true of yours. Originally published October 29, 2013.

Reformation Day

Try reading the book of Acts in the Bible and not getting excited about the growth of the early church. The disciples heard and obeyed the risen Christ when he commanded, “go into all the world and preach the gospel.” (Matthew 28:19)   Through that phenomenal growth, the Roman Catholic Church developed. It was the only official body of believers for hundreds of years until the great schism in 1054. At times there was discord among Roman Catholic leaders. But when one 16th-century priest publically disagreed with some practices, it was a turning point in church history.   In autumn,1517, the sound of a hammer was heard throughout the world and it did not come from a construction site. It originated in the heart and soul of a Roman Catholic priest who had...

Five Keys to Intentional Discipleship

When I was a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill, my campus staff worker for Intervarsity Christian Fellowship approached me, asking if I would like to meet on a weekly basis over the course of the semester.  Over the next three years, Deanne mentored me on a variety of topics from relationships to ministry to Bible study. Her example of being an intentional discipler has been invaluable to me. As I reflect back on our times together, five important principles emerge. As you grasp the importance of being intentional about the way you pursue Christ and help others to do the same, consider these principles before you begin a structured type of mentoring relationship. These should help to set expectations and provide a shared vision for your time together. Principle #1:  Set a scheduled mee...

God Knows What You’re Going Through

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes. – Jack Handey My friend Adam is a wise guy. Not in a, “A rabbi, a priest, and a vegan walk into a bar” sort of way, but in a Proverbs, real life street wisdom sort of way. He is a residence director at our local university, which means he works with college students every day. He deals with students in trouble, students in the dumps, students on academic probation, students on drugs, students who have been assaulted, and students who are on the verge of dropping out of college. In other words, he deals with kids who are pretty vulnerable. Kids who have really been slapped around by life. When interacting with vulnerable kids Adam cou...

Halloween & Reformation Day

There’s a curious connection between Halloween and Reformation Day, and it’s more than just proximity on the calendar. Why did Martin Luther nail his famous 95 Theses to the Wittenberg church door on October 31, 1517? He was confronting two religious observances that promoted false saintliness and exploited people’s fear of judgment and purgatory.  Reformation Day Reformation Day (October 31) commemorates Luther’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany on October 31, 1517. This act triggered the Reformation, as they were immediately translated and distributed across Germany in a matter of weeks. The Protestant Reformation was the rediscovery of the doctrine of justification—that is, salvation by grace alone (Gal. 2:21) through f...

The Unapproachable God?

Modern believers have two primary concepts of public worship. One concept is that we are to be extremely quiet and still before God, for this gives the appearance of being reverent before his holiness. At the other extreme is the concept that we are to be a noisy and active as possible before God, for this gives the appearance of celebrating his mercy and grace toward us. Both approaches have not thought enough about the character of God. Once we know more about the God we worship, as Paul celebrated in the doxologies in 1 Tim. 1:17 and 6:15-16, then we can better understand how to worship him in a way that truly honors and pleases him. First, the God we worship is invincible (15b-c). Paul describes God as the “blessed and only sovereign.”  “Blessed” could be translated as “happy,” if...

The Death of Religious Liberty

Anyone who still doubts that the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage will represent a seismic shift in the culture at large needs only to look to New Mexico to see that nothing less than religious liberty is now under threat — and in a big way. Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin are the owners of Elane Photography, a firm that operates as a commercial photographic studio. Elaine is the lead photographer and the Huguenins together run the business. In 2006, the couple refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony and were sued. Last week the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the Huguenins had violated the human rights of the same-sex couple and that the First Amendment does not allow Elane Photography to refuse to photograph same-sex unions. ...

3 Surprising Ways We Grieve the Spirit

The Holy Spirit is often described as light. He shines into the dark places of the heart and convicts us of sin (John 16:7-11). He is a lamp to illumine God’s word, teaching what is true and showing the truth to be precious (1 Cor. 2:6-16). And the Spirit throws a spotlight on Christ so that we can see his glory and be changed (John 16:14). That’s why 2 Corinthians 3:18 speaks of becoming more like Christ by beholding the glory of Christ. Just as Moses had his face transfigured when he saw the Lord’s glory on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:29; 2 Cor. 3:7), so will we be transformed when, by the Spirit, we behold God’s glory in the face of Christ. The Spirit, then, is a light to us in three ways: by exposing our guilt, by illuminating the word of God, and by showing us Christ. Or to put...

Do You Pray?

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  –Luke 11:9, NIV Do you pray?   J.C. Ryle, a prominent Anglican clergyman in 19th-century Britain, said that there is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer. I’m sure that many of us would agree; of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is often the hardest habit to form and one that is most quickly broken. However, we should strive to pray regularly, because prayer is incredibly important. Here are 5 of Ryle’s reasons for why prayer is such a crucial habit for you to establish: 1.     A habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.  The greatest heroes and heroines of the Bible o...