5 Reasons I Believe In Short-Term International Mission Trips

Haiti Mission TripsChampioning short-term international mission trips has unquestionably been one of the best things I have ever done in my life, both as a father and as a pastor.

Short-term international mission trips have sparked more spiritual growth in the hearts of people at the church I serve than everything we have ever tried to do combined.

When people ask why I think CCV has grown so rapidly and impacted our community so deeply, I always tell them I think it’s because God has blessed two things:

  1. We’ve committed ourselves to do whatever it takes to reach people far from God.
  2. We’ve thrown ourselves into international missions.

HaitiThere are missionaries who have deftly pointed out the pitfalls and perils of sending Americans abroad to do short-term mission work. Yet, even when you consider these valid critiques, I still believe the positives far outweigh the negatives. [Read more...]

Make A Commitment To Finish Things

finish what you start“Discipline brings freedom,” said Richard Foster.

I’ve spent a lot of time lately meditating on those three words.

To me there’s a difference between being organized and being disciplined.

Most people who know me would say I’m pretty organized. I handle paperwork quickly and efficiently. I’m timely in completing tasks, returning emails and phone calls. I stay focused on reducing clutter and keeping my laptop files in order. In fact, one friend told me recently that she thinks I’m one of the most organized people she knows.

Truth be told, however, I may be organized, but I am sorely lacking in discipline.

Discipline, to me, is about forcing yourself to make the most important priorities routine. It’s about doing them consistently, so that over time your life begins to bear the fruit God wants it to bear.

Organization cares little about what’s truly important; it only focuses on becoming more efficient at whatever your hand finds itself to do. [Read more...]

Can Christians Eliminate Same Sex Attraction Feelings?

reparative therapyI’ve lost count of the number of conversations I’ve had in the last year with Christians that have told me they’re attracted to the same sex.

Sometimes I think people feel comfortable sharing their struggles with me because I’ve set the bar pretty low. Know me very long and I’ll give you an inside glimpse into my own sins, struggles, habits and hang-ups. I’ve always thought that’s what good pastors should do – be role models – but in reverse. But mainly I think people open up to me because they know I get paid to keep secrets for a living.

The conversations I’ve had all went something like this:

“Can I share something with you? I know what the Bible teaches and all, but I’m gay.”

Slight pause.

“Okay.”

“Well, I’m wondering whether or not you think God can take these feelings away if I ask him?” [Read more...]

5 Reasons We Don’t Send Our Kids To Christian Schools (but you might, and should)

christian schoolRecently a friend asked why we’ve never sent our children to Christian schools. She and her husband are weighing whether or not to send their daughter to a Christian elementary school, and since I’m asked this question a lot I thought I would share my response.

Hi ________,

Thank you for asking my advice on this extremely important question.

Before we sent our oldest to Kindergarten my wife and I made the decision that we would send our daughters to K-12 public schools, and then upon high school graduation send them to private Christian colleges.

I’ll share why we made that decision, but I first want to say that when we talk with parents at CCV (we get asked this a lot since I’m a pastor and my wife is the Principal of a public elementary school in our area), we always say that we encourage parents to do what is best for their child. Each child is unique, just as the schools in which a family lives are unique, and there is no “one size fits all” approach to making this decision. We are for whatever works best for your daughter – whether it’s a Christian school or a public school.

That said, if all options seem equal, we have always been strong advocates for Christians to send their children to their local public school.

Here are five reasons why:

1. Quality of Teachers

A school, when it is boiled down, is a teacher teaching a student. And it’s not a well-kept secret that many Christian schools hire teachers who couldn’t get jobs in public schools. [Read more...]

The Church Is A Whore, But She’s Our Mother

ProstituteHow many times in the last month have you criticized your local church? It’s programs, pastor, mission efforts or lack thereof.

I’m sure it’s always been this way, but it seems that as of late, every time the local church comes up in conversation, it’s spoken of critically.

I’m sick of it.

Pastors, stop deconstructing the church.

Christians, stop bad mouthing your local fellowship the way you talk about that restaurant of yours that’s gone downhill.

The great Catholic social activist Dorothy Day once wrote:

As to the Church, where else shall we go, except to the Bride of Christ, one flesh with Christ? Though she is a harlot at times, she is our Mother.

In other words, our local church has its problems, but it’s all we’ve got. And we shouldn’t want it any other way. [Read more...]

M.A. Programs – The Key To Maintaining Evangelistic Edge

Deep SpaceEvery Christian needs to ask, “How can God use me evangelistically throughout my entire life, not just in a short two- or three-year spurt after my conversion?”

How many Christians do you know who used to evangelize? They can proudly point to a time in their lives when person after person came to Christ through their efforts, then for some reason they just stopped.

God wants us to lead people to faith in Christ until we take our last breaths. He wants us to be more effective today than yesterday, more effective this year than last, more effective in our sixties and seventies than we were in our twenties and thirties.

At the very end of our lives we want to be able to say with the apostle Paul that we are “…being poured out like a drink offering, and the time for [our] departure is near” (2 Tim. 4:6). We left no evangelistic opportunity wasted. No excuses. No regrets.

I think one of the keys to making that happen is staying intellectually hungry. [Read more...]

10 Ways To Stop Feeling Guilty Your Friend Is Going To Hell

roadkill striped over1. Here’s the easiest one: Stop being a part of a church that “irritatingly” teaches the Bible, especially the parts that make you feel bad for the low number of times you have personally shared your faith. After all, the purpose of going to church is just to make you feel good. Right?

2. Find a church that makes you feel like you’re doing evangelism, but never actually encourages you to do it. Usually this falls under the heading of “getting involved in giving back to the community.” Because that’s why Jesus died on the cross. So we could “give back to the community.”

3. Never, under any circumstances, pray for your non-Christian friends to accept Christ. At least not more than once. That would be creepy and fanatical.

4. Stop reading the gospels in your daily time with God. Jesus constantly talked about the afterlife, especially hell. Let’s be honest: it’s pretty tiring to have to keep shielding your eyes from those verses while hunting for the gems that talk about how you can be happy and successful.

5. Lie to yourself when you feel a twinge of guilt for not sharing your faith by repeating the phrase: “Evangelism is God’s (and my pastor’s) job. My job is to be a good example.”

6. Justify your lack of evangelism by telling yourself that you’re trying to not be like the creepy fundamentalists who come on too strong. Like the nuts on Facebook or that crazy church who sent people to your door recently. Because in every other area of your life, of course you stop doing important things because other people take things a little too far. [Read more...]

What Will Your Final Six Months On Earth Look Like?

end-of-roadI’m not afraid I’ll run out of money when I retire.

I’m afraid I’ll run out of hope.

So many people shut down, creatively speaking, in their later years, that it really worries me.

I don’t want to be like that, then.

Or now.

I want my greatest contribution to the kingdom, the church, and especially to my family to come in my final six months.

I want that for you too.

Scandal-less Jesus

JesusIf I’m being perfectly honest, I think Jesus is quite boring.

If you doubt this, think of the hype that is necessary to manufacture a big Easter, followed by the subsequent attendance and energy lull.

The other day someone mentioned that there’s no need to talk about controversial topics because “Jesus is scandalous enough.”

I beg to differ.

Nothing is less scandalous today than Jesus.

Skeptics

To most of my skeptic friends, Jesus is offensive simply because he’s talked about so much. They’re exhausted with the Jesus blathering. He’s become an irritation with a little “i.” [Read more...]