New Horizon

There comes a time to walk away. Like, perhaps . . . now. When I was in graduate school, one of my fellow students was (as are most graduate students), let’s just say a bit full of himself. In one of our seminars, he leaned back in his seat, looked at the professor, and said, “Dr. Christian, how does one become a well-established author?” Dr. C started just a bit and then grinned. Well, first you need to have something to say. I think I took Dr. C’s words to heart many years ago and have tried not to write …

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PRAYER FOR HOPE: 30 Days, 30 Faces

THE POWER OF PRAYER IS NOT IN THOSE WHO PRAY, BUT IN THE GOD WHO ANSWERS THEIR DEEPEST CRIES. At Hope Unlimited for Children we have seen God display His power in response to earnest prayer over and over again. Doors that would have remained closed have been opened. Hearts hardened beyond belief have changed. Children’s lives have transformed—and today their own children experience the benefit of our long-ago prayers. Next month we will begin 30 Days of Prayer for Hope. On each of the 30 days leading up to Orphan Sunday (November 8), Hope supporters will receive an email …

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A relevant church does not . . .

This post originally published here on June 2, 2014. When I see followers of Christ disengage from the church, I start to worry. About them, yes, but more about the church. That is especially true when I hear them say they find the church largely irrelevant to what God is doing in their lives and in the world. Irrelevant. A really, really important word. I have to confess that I have not worked out all it means to be relevant, but I think I know it when I see it. I also know what it is not, and it seems …

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Lessons from an absent father

Indulge me a bit here if you don’t mind, and perhaps we will stumble across an insight along the way. Dad would have turned 100 on September 2nd—tomorrow. I wish he were here to mark his centennial with his family, but instead he’s been an absent father — gone almost a quarter of a century, a victim of a physical heart not nearly as strong as his true heart. But perhaps in his absence, there has been some room made for growth of those he left behind. Dad was a typical small-town Baptist pastor, passionate about his faith, but not …

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Beyond the walls

Watched an old Tony Randall movie over the weekend. Paul Douglas, playing farmer Pop Larkin, responded to his wife’s caution about a neighbor, Oh, he’s all right of a fellow.  He just hasn’t has learned that ‘Do unto others’ part yet. Probably true of a lot of us—and of a lot of our churches. We do a good job of looking like church and followers on Sunday morning, but how do we make sure it spills over into our week? How does worship become a lifestyle of following Christ? That can be a problem. Can we truly seek God for …

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The church (small “c” intentional) and “The Dones” (Part 2)

Last week I introduced you to The Dones.  Good committed followers of Christ who have decided that the institutional church is largely irrelevant to what God is doing in the world and in their lives. So they walk away, not from engagement, but from their local church. They direct their lives, giving, and service elsewhere. I have been there, and I get it. I am not one who believes all ministry has to be done through a local community of faith. We are the Church, and the local manifestation of the community of followers does not have a particular hold …

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Why are “The Dones” done? (Part 1)

About once a week or so, someone sends me an article about folks who are dropping out of church. I usually read them because this is a topic of real interest to me. I have a number of close friends who have, for the most part, walked away from church. Done with it. These friends are scattered across the U.S., know each other only as my friends, but the common traits are pretty remarkable. They have all become empty-nesters in the last few years; they are all successful; they all lead very busy lives. Any one of them would tell …

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Fits and Starts

A lesson here, if we will hear it . . . The answers are not always easy, but these are children our Savior loves. And so will we. Enrique is a 17-year-old with a lifetime of bad choices behind him. He was first brought to Hope Mountain when he was 13 and terribly addicted to drugs. He was gone within two hours. Another few months on the streets, and then he was brought to Hope Mountain again. And again, he was gone within two hours. That cycle was repeated over and over again—at least ten times in the next few …

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A Busload of Hope

I like the way this story ends. The buses at our City of Youth are absolutely indispensable. They ferry our staff from their homes to the campus, they pick up children from nearby favelas, and they carry our kids to the many off-campus activities—outings to museums and ballgames,  Saturday evening services at our graduate church, and monthly birthday celebrations at the mall. Without them, all of the extras that make our programs work are gone. A few months ago…  a devastating loss. We had sold both of our older buses, and with the help of a great donation from Princeton …

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What Does A Relevant Church Look Like?

While leading a discussion of Dirty Faith at a local adult VBS this week, the topic of the Church and its relevance came up. It’s been a year since I wrote the below post, but Christians are still having the same discussion. Still asking the same questions. Perhaps it’s a good time to revisit these thoughts for those of you who are new here— and for those of us who need to re-evaluate.   (Originally published June 2, 2014) Three Things That Don’t Happen at a Relevant Church (Stained Glass and Relevance, Part 2) When I see followers of Christ …

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