The Church

The House Rules: Five Essentials for Your Mission Trip

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It’s that time of year again. Yesterday our church commissioned the youth summer mission trip team. Nine teenagers, three adult leaders, headed to Atlanta for a few days of work. Good kids, good sponsors, and a really good project practicing dirty faith among the kind of people Jesus loved. They will join thousands of other churches on the ubiquitous Mission Trip that is standard summer fare for church youth groups throughout North America. If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, read Dirty Faith, or heard any of my radio interviews, you know I’m kind of on the fence about short-term …

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Grace – and cost – in unexpected places

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God’s tough to put in a box. And his grace, by definition, is free. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t costly. I preached at our home church a couple of weeks ago and commented that spiritual awakening rarely finds its genesis where we expect it. I had no idea how soon I would discover the verity of those words. So, to begin, a story . . . A few years ago my friend Cassidy introduced me to a couple of Amish families in northern Indiana. Over the years we became friends; I‘ve spent time in their homes, have enjoyed talking theology, …

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Christian Alliance for Orphans Summit 2015

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According to Christianity Today, the Christian Alliance for Orphans (CAFO) Summit has become the national hub for “the burgeoning Christian orphan care movement.” Last year’s conference drew 2,600 foster and adoptive parents, orphan advocates, pastors and leaders from 35 countries. On several occasions it has been my good fortune to attend, to lead topic-specific workshops, and to participate in panel discussions. And I’m looking forward to this year! CAFO Summit 2015 will take place in Nashville, Tennessee on April 30-May 1. While I realize the date is almost upon us, it’s not too late to make your plans to attend! And …

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We are the Pharisees

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Didn’t expect to meet God there . . . Over the past decade, I have had the chance to experience grace in some very unexpected places. In a remote village in Mexico, while holding the baby of a teenage prostitute in Brazil, on death row at Angola prison in Louisiana. These are places of darkness, but as I read the New Testament, it becomes more and more apparent that these are the places where Jesus walked. These are the people he loved. This is where we encounter grace. We are lovers of structure, of hierarchy, of people who understand their …

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The Hand on Our Shoulder: Investing in eternity

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Day 29:  30 Days of Prayer for Hope If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. (Isaiah 58:9-10) It’s tough work, this caring for kids the world has abandoned, exploited, and abused, but it is what we are called to do. And from the very birth of this ministry, hundreds of you have stood alongside us — investing in …

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Ripples

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Day 28:  30 Days of Prayer for Hope But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses. (Acts 1:8) Several years ago, a group of young Hope graduates formed their own church. A couple of years ago, we watched as a group of former street children—young women who had been trafficked as little girls and young men who had escaped cycles of drug abuse and poverty—were introduced as the church leadership team—the ministers of the fellowship. The really impressive thing is that this is a serving community, missional in the truest …

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On Mission

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Day 13:  30 Days of Prayer for Hope Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6:9) Every year, hundreds of visitors grace our campuses with their presence. They come from the local churches and communities, from the U.S. and Europe, and from all over the world. They come for one reason: to be on mission — sharing the love of Christ with the children of Hope. They leave changed, just as the children are changed. One of the realities of New Testament …

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Can you barter with a pinecone?

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My wife, Susan, writes a blog, too. She beat me to the punch on a post I was contemplating, so I asked for permission to share her thoughts on the topic here with you. She graciously agreed.  As written by Susan Nowell at My Place to Yours …   Well, can you? Barter with a pinecone?  I honestly don’t know. I’ve never tried. Have you? I’ve filled baskets with pinecones, used them in tablescapes, hung them from Christmas trees… I’ve even shown you how to clean them! I haven‘t ever tried to bleach them, but some of you have. In …

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Orphans, the Border Crisis, and the Echo of God’s Love: Part 3 of 3

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If you missed previous posts in this series:  Part 1 / Part 2   Ignoring a problem the world has dropped on our doorstep is not a Christian response. We can—and must—do better for these kids who are part of the “border crisis”, because that is what followers do. We become the hands, heart, and mind of Christ to these children. The immediate cost of caring for the children crossing our border is staggering. We spend $259 per day for each child in an immigration detention center. If we move them to foster care, that cost is $2,500 per month. …

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Church planting, orphans, and Kingdom investment

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We need to have a conversation. No final answers here, but at least a few questions that might make us pause before endorsing the prevailing orthodoxy. Let’s talk about church planting. Before we go too far, a bit of context that certainly shades my view. I live in a small, southern Appalachian town, population around 8,000. We have about 45 churches. That’s one church for every 177.7 citizens. If, on average, the churches have three staff members, we have one minister for every 60 or so folks in town. And, at the very least, $20 million is invested in our …

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