Have you ever felt like you were alone in your church? Maybe you look around and think, “There are not a lot of people like me.” In some sense that may be true. There may not be many people who were raised in your hometown, like the same type of food, enjoy the same hobbies, and prefer the same music. So, yes, in this sense you may not be able to chop it up with them about your favorite team or curry or novel.

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Nobody likes to be criticized. Everybody appreciates a compliment. These are the two most non-controversial statements ever written on this blog. But they are true.

Pastors get their fair share of both.

One thing that I am learning as a pastor is that the good friends actually bring both.

There will always be people to criticize you when you preach the Bible, deal with sin and frankly, are a sinner yourself. They will make mistakes and get mad at you. You will make mistakes and they will get mad at you. This is life in a fallen world.

At the same time there are a lot of people who are just kind. They give compliments, affirmation and always say nice things. You rarely hear them speak critically.

At first glance (and with all honesty) we might prefer that our churches be filled with the later and devoid of the former. It seems like this would be a much nicer and more tolerable climate.

But would this be a good gospel climate? Continue Reading…

Along with several thousand other pastors and church leaders, I am here in Louisville for the Together for the Gospel conference. This event and the corresponding movement seems to keep growing without any indication of plateauing. Therefore, it is a real joy to come and take it in, rejoicing in this season of abundant blessing.

There are some personal items that I am excited about. Let me highlight a few.

1) Concentrated Exposure to Preaching. Some health and fitness people go on radical cleanses or others do extreme training spells. These have the effect of a radical impact on the body. Preaching, this much preaching, can be very impactful for me and countless others. I am prayerfully excited about what God will do with his knife that is all blade (Heb. 4:16).

2) Singing. I love to sing even though I am horrible at it. To have several thousand passionately singing together, with the weight of ministry and burden for people anchoring the ballasts of our souls–this is powerful stuff. It is truly a portal into heaven where Christ is supremely treasured opinion the praise of his people.

3) Being Surprised. A friend reminded me last night that we serve the living God. Therefore, he is active and working in our lives. He often surprises us with his word with a familiar passage. He comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable. He knows what I need and when I need it. God surprises me like this and I am looking forward to more.

4) Meeting New and Talking with Old Friends. This event welcomes a unique fraternity together. We are able to instantly connect and understand one another. To hear the stories of gospel triumph in faraway lands or pastoral faithfulness in a surprising place—these things bless my soul. We are not alone. In fact, there is a great multitude who have not bowed their knees to Baal.

5) Being Here with my Son. This year I am blessed to be here with my 18 year old son. It is a rich privilege and gift of grace to be able to experience this with him. I look forward to seeing its impact on him as well as I fervently pray for generational faithfulness in my family.

If you are at T4G consider coming over to the 20schemes event with Tim Challies on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I would love to meet you and be encouraged by your ministry.

Moments Matter

Erik Raymond —  April 7, 2014 — Leave a comment

It has been well said that our life is made up of a series of moments. We may be tempted to think little of these moments because we appear to have a lot of them. 

But what if these little moments were actually very important? 

The little moments of our lives make up our lives. They color, shape and accent our lives. It would follow then that these moments are very important. 

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Let me break this down for you: Blog-Father (Challies) + British Gospel Roughneck (Mez) + Wicked Smart Guys (9Marks) = Late Night Win.

If you are going to the Together for the Gospel Conference (T4G) next week in Louisville then you will want to consider trotting over to The Galt House after the evening sessions on Tuesday and Wednesday for an event entitled, “Late Night with Tim Challies.” The event is hosted by 20schemes, a ministry in Scotland dedicated to planting and revitalizing churches among the poor.

On his blog Tim faithfully raises issues and thinks through them biblically. In this context he will be leading a discussion on church planting and mercy ministry among the poor. This is an important subject that requires clear thinking. Along with Tim, I am excited to join other guests Mez McConnell, Mike McKinley, Jonathan Leeman, and Matthew Spandler-Davison in this discussion.

Come and join us!

Who are the most influential Evangelicals in the US?

Thom Rainer, the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources, conducted an informal survey of people that, according to Rainer, “are very knowledgeable about the evangelical scene in the United States.”

Ok, sounds promising. If there are any lingering doubts Rainer adds, “The respondents represent a cross section of denominational and non-denominational churches and entities. From my perspective, those I surveyed are clearly evangelicals themselves.”

Well, we need to trust his judgment.

On with the list.

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If you are connected in any way to mainline (particularly American) evangelicalism then you have probably said or heard the following said countless times in the last two years:

“I need to get back in the Word.”

“My prayer life has been kinda dry lately.”

Often times these “confessions” come in the midst of small groups or in response to some eager, well-meaning brother or sister. How do we respond?

Most often it is with the super-spiritual, muppet-faced grimacing sigh: “Hmm. Hmm. I will pray for you that God would help you get back in the Word.”

Is this helpful?

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