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Assemble With Prayer and Songs of Praise

I find historical Thanksgiving Proclamations to be interesting with the insights they provide into the times in which they were issued, and that is why I have shared a couple of them with you in the past. I believe we have reprinted the one issued by George Washington in 1789—the first National Thanksgiving Proclamation—as well as that of Abraham Lincoln in 1863, which ultimately led to Thanksgiving being established as a national holiday. This morning, I have for your consideration…

On Christian Nationalism

We have heard a lot over the last few years about “Christian nationalism.” But it is probably not always clear what is meant by that. For one thing, it is usually used as a pejorative rather than a self-description. For another, it is not so much a cohesive ideology as it is a mood. But a good working definition comes from Baylor historian Thomas Kidd (quoting another historian, Matthew McCullough): Christian nationalism is “an understanding of American identity and significance…

How to Know if Your Love of Sports Has Become Idolatry

This article, by Jack Wilkie, is from the most recent edition of “Think” magazine. In the midst of football season and the World Series (at print time, anyway), it seemed a timely discussion of a subject many of us probably struggle with. It has been slightly reformatted for this space. -BP For most of my life it’s been rare to meet someone who is a bigger sports fan than me. As a kid, I played what must have been thousands…

The Last Beatitude

All of us are familiar with the “Beatitudes” with which Christ began the Sermon on the Mount. Eight times Jesus pronounced blessings on those who possess certain characteristics: Blessed are the poor in spirit … Blessed are those who mourn … Blessed are the meek … Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness … Blessed are the merciful … Blessed are the pure in heart … Blessed are the peacemakers … Blessed are those who are persecuted for…

You Can Go Home Again

Our sermon this morning will be from Psalm 51, David’s great confession of sin and plea for forgiveness after God’s man, Nathan, confronted him regarding his actions toward Bathsheba. It’s a powerful reminder of both the flaws that still exist even in the most exemplary of saints, and the grace and mercy of God that he continues to abundantly give us. Thinking about that reminded me of another, near-contemporary example of the same phenomenon. I have told this story in…

Small Things

We wrote last week about wanting to dream big dreams. But today, we want to emphasize something else: while dreaming big dreams we must remember that there is a great value in small things. Many of us have probably heard the ancient Chinese proverb, originally attributed to the philosopher Laozi: “a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”. Every man and woman was once a baby. The vast oceans are made up of drops of water. The shore…

Big Plans

A speaker one time made the statement to an audience, “When planning to live, make no small plans.” When I first encountered that statement, it struck me just how much we need that advice in our work for the Lord. The reason many churches have not advanced beyond what they were many years ago, the reason many churches fail to reach their potential, and yes, the reason many churches close their doors is because they have not made plans to…

Take Dead Aim

Matt Emmons, world class target shooter, had already won gold in the 50m prone event at the 2004 Athens Olympics. Now, going into the final shot of the final round for the overall gold in the 50m 3 rifle positions—kneeling, prone, and standing—he had built an almost insurmountable lead. He did not even need a bullseye to win; if he were merely on target, achieving a score of 8.0 or better, he would take home the gold. Trying to remain…

Supper Time

Thomas Campbell was a Presbyterian minister, born in Ireland and educated in Scotland at the University of Glasgow. When our story begins, he was serving a church in Ireland. But over time, he became dissatisfied with the divisiveness of his denomination: he was an Old Light, Anti-Burgher, Seceder Presbyterian. Each one of those terms reflected a doctrinal split. A reform movement of Independent churches emerging first in Scotland was now sweeping into Ireland. These influenced Thomas to the point he…

Facing Each Day

Because we are unsure of the events of tomorrow, worrying about them will do us little good. Many Christians struggle with worry. Individuals worry about things that happened yesterday, things that may happen tomorrow. In each instance, their anxiety is fruitless. Rather than worrying about past actions or words, we might seek to make right our wrongs and trust God for forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Instead of worrying about the things happening around us currently, we should resolve to control…

Redeemed, How I Love to Proclaim It!

In Acts 3, Peter and John are on their way to the Temple at the hour of prayer when they encounter a lame man, begging alms. Peter famously responds to him, I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk! (Acts 3:6) The man immediately jumps up and begins to walk, heading into the Temple and praising God. A crowd gathers as…

Taste Test

Like most languages, English has a number of idioms we easily understand as native speakers, but sometimes make little sense if you break them down. “The proof is in the pudding” is a good example: can the eater of the pudding in question (whatever that is, anyway) find some sort of evidence related to the character of something else within that pudding? We all know what the expression means, but where in the world did it come from? It helps…