Commentary: The gift of forgiveness

As we enter into the holiday season, I’d like to share with you a story. I can hardly believe it myself, but every bit of it is true, “so help me God.” Admittedly, I’m no Charles Dickens and the prisoner next to me is not exactly Tiny Tim but I’ll try my best to tell it. His name is Milton and he walks with a permanent limp now because of an exchange of bullets he had with someone in the streets.

In reflecting on the life of Rosalynn Carter, Americans should note her civility, a character trait that seems to be in short supply in today’s political world. She was a genuinely good woman, a wonderful example of a Christian lady, and a tireless humanitarian. Mrs. Carter didn’t tear others down. Instead, she built them up.

When one reads the fifth chapter of Matthew, he finds out that the blessings of God are so numerous and expansive that they can’t be calculated.  Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, gives us just a few of the blessings that God has for us.  It is easy for a person to live life without ever thinking of the many ways that God blesses our lives each day.  We seem to think that a blessing is something that is physical or material; something that we need but that is a wrong conception. 

Once again, we are planning for our annual Christmas prayer tours at the Georgia State Capitol! This is a great opportunity for people to get a closeup look at the Christmas decorations at the State Capitol and participate in a series of prayer tours which are scheduled to start on December 6th.

We have often heard it said, and I believe, that witnessing is absolutely essential to the survival of Christianity.  It is so essential that we are told in Matthew to reach all nations for the Lord.  In Acts 1:8, we are also told that we are given the ability to witness when the Holy Spirit comes upon us.  I think that there are a number of things we should note about this thing called witnessing.

Some people try to forgive but they never forget.  The people of Israel will never forget the October 7th massacre by Hamas which barbarically took the lives of over 1400 people. The goal of Israel now is to eliminate Hamas by whatever means it takes. 

The great evangelist D. L. Moody loved to study his Bible, and he realized one day that he had never tackled the topic of grace. He took a day and did a Bible study on God’s grace. A second day was required, and then a third. By the afternoon of the third day, Moody was so filled with the idea of God’s grace that he had to go out on the street and talk to someone about it.

Have you ever had a sinking feeling that there’s a bigger problem lurking around the corner?  Maybe you have noticed drops of oil on your garage floor or a water stain forming on your ceiling. These types of scenarios are examples of small symptoms that reveal much deeper problems beneath the surface. Whether they are the result of unintentional oversights or reveal some level of negligence on our part, left unaddressed you can be certain that the cost and collateral damage will be far greater than if you confront the issue head on. 

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Earlier this month, my wife Martha Jean and I visited the Billy Graham Library in North Carolina’s Queen City. I was filled with joyful anticipation at the prospect of digesting and absorbing the detailed and diagrammatic biography of one of the world’s most beloved and respected leaders; and I was not disappointed.

Georgia Baptists are so thankful for the ruling of the Georgia Supreme Court that was in favor of Georgia’s heartbeat law! This is a big victory for life in Georgia! Judge Robert McBurney presided over the original case in the Fulton County Superior Court, which challenged the constitutionality of the LIFE Act. SisterSong, et al, asked Judge McBurney to essentially repeal the LIFE Act and argued that the law was unconstitutional at the time it was passed in 2019, before the overturning of Roe v. Wade, a legal principle known as “void ab initio.”

Shocking surprises that strike our hearts and minds also arouse such questions as the one above. May I attempt to answer this question concisely and clearly with an ever so brief review of the history between Arabs and Israelites? We begin with a man called Abraham who had two sons: Isaac born to his wife Sarah from whom Israelites/Jews are descended through his grandson Isaac who was renamed Israel; the other son Ishmael born to his wife’s maid/slave Hagar from whom Arabs trace their ancestry.

Commentary: 7 truths about waiting on God

Several months ago, I arrived at my doctor’s office and checked in. Sometimes things run behind, but this time, I waited and waited. People arriving after me were called back as I sat. Closing time drew nearer. I approached the receptionist and she said, “Oh, no, they haven’t called you back? We must have forgotten you.” When we find ourselves in God’s waiting room, thankfully, we’re not forgotten. God is working.

I was born into a religious Jewish home. I remember the day the Yom Kippur War broke out in October of 1973. I was 13. As our synagogue got the news of the attack, I vividly remember running out to my parents 1968 Buick Skylark to turn on the radio with my 10-year-old brother to listen to the reports of the attack.

Leaves changing. Temperature dropping. And your local Walmart has had Christmas trees out for months. In other words, it’s October, which means it’s Pastor Appreciation Month. I’ve told pastors how to make it awkward and written on ways to bless your pastor. Articles like that flood Christian blogs in October, and they’re needed.

Many Americans believe they can know and love God without attending church. And many Christians believe they can know and love God without joining one. According to the 2022 Lifeway Research State of Theology report, only 68% of evangelicals agree every Christian has an obligation to join a local church. And 41% say worshiping alone or with one’s family is a valid replacement for regularly attending church.

Commentary: Waiting on God is hard work

I made a hospital visit recently and had to circle the parking deck to find an open spot. Finally, I saw backup lights, so I paused. Someone came up behind me, and immediately honked, attempting to move me along. Surely this driver knows if I’m sitting here, I’m waiting for someone to back out, I thought. I hit my turn signal and sat there until the space cleared and pulled in. The driver behind me then sped on his merry way.

To put myself through seminary, like many a financially struggling student, my wife and I had to find odd jobs. The Lord opened the door for me to work at a local jewelry store in the Crabtree Valley Mall for about 30 hours per week. It was there that I really learned to appreciate diamonds.

As ministers of the gospel, none of us desires to fake sincerity in our pulpits. However, even with the best of intentions, we can be susceptible to it at times. One definition of sincerity from Merriam-Webster is “honesty of mind; freedom from hypocrisy.” As we consider the definition of sincerity, we can better understand how we can fall into faking it.

Blessing or curse? Joy or pain? Good memories or bad? Spiritual soldier or spiritual casualty? If we were to ask 100 adults about their childhoods as ministry kids we’d likely get 100 different answers.

Commentary: Why the 'B' in BCM is so important

When you look around your church you may notice that a lot of young people are missing. It is a common complaint as I speak in local churches that congregations are aging and young people are leaving or just not attending anymore. There are more factors than can be addressed in one column, but I want to take a moment and tell you ways that you can help stand in the gap for your church.

Commentary: Baptisms are the best

The cure for whatever ails a Baptist church is more baptisms. Since we only practice believer’s baptism (meaning an individual must personally profess faith in Jesus prior to their baptism), baptisms are a sign that conversions are happening in the context of a church’s outreach ministry. Since baptisms symbolize the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, they are a church’s opportunity to dramatize the gospel on a regular basis. Baptism is an excellent way to celebrate and commemorate new life in Jesus.

It’s been nearly 38 years. God has taken my husband Jimmy and me on a journey through three pastorates and several aspects of denominational work. Like many, we have had our share of highs and lows. One thing I know, it’s worth it. Over the years, I have gained perspectives of ministry from several angles, and it is apparent – the need for ministers to be affirmed, encouraged, and appreciated is great.

Commentary: 7 reasons I stay in the pastorate

Presbyterian Pastor Alexander Lang caused quite a stir recently when he published his blog, “Departure: Why I Left the Church.” Lang never imagined how many hits he’d get when, with full transparency, he laid out the pressures and unrealistic expectations of the pastorate. One commenter wrote, “Whiner.” He hasn’t walked in Alexander’s shoes. I have, maybe not in his specific circumstances, but I can certainly relate.

As we approach the 2024 election cycle, I have some thoughts and concerns. We are clearly in a spiritual battle, not flesh and blood as we seek to restore our American constitutional republic. As American Christians we need to remember that building, raising up foundations, repairing breaches and restoring paths for America’s constitutional republic is a noble and worthy cause.

Let’s confess. We worry. We fret. We sometimes sweat the small stuff. Concern is appropriate when it produces action. If the warning light comes on in my car, I’m prompted to get the mechanic to check it out before I have major issues. A concerned person acts to address a problem. Worrying, on the other hand, is unproductive.

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