Latest Posts

How Podcasts Shape Our Preaching

Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend may seem like odd preparation for preaching. But I’ve found the podcast to be a helpful elixir as I get out of the world of sermons, commentaries, books, and conferences to think about engaging with people on Sunday. In his conversations with other comedians, Conan gets into the pathos behind entertainers’ acts and the hard work it takes to produce a simple laugh. I was struck, for instance, by Ray Romano’s admission that his father’s refusal to give him approval is what drove Ray to try so hard to get laughs, and by Howard Stern’s description…

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What I’ve Learned About Work from Working At Home

For most of my career, I’ve gone to the office. There is something to the ritual of getting dressed up, leaving the house, and reporting to work. My father didn’t do white-collar work, so I never saw him grab a briefcase, but I did hear him stir in the early morning hours before hearing the garage open and his work van pull out of the driveway. I’m glad my kids were accustomed to seeing me leave to go and do what we are created to do: work, create, and innovate. But this pandemic has forced us into new rhythms, hasn’t…

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Disinformation and Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy theories have always existed in American life and have especially risen during election seasons. But in these times, during a global pandemic, racial tension and an unusual presidential contest, it seems belief in outlandish and disproven narratives is reaching new heights. Easy communication via digital platforms, access to seemingly unlimited content online and deep distrust of key institutions in public life have created a toxic brew that many of our fellow citizens are willing to imbibe in times of fear and uncertainty. So how can we combat misinformation? Many are pressuring the social media platforms to be aggressive about moderating content, a job that is…

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Grace for Leaders in a Time of Covid

I’ve had conversations with pastors across the United States over the last few months. And while my friends do ministry in vastly different contexts, there is one thing they share in common: pastoring (and pastoral care) in 2020 is the most exhausting, frustrating, difficult season of their lives. The cross-pressures right now on leaders is immense. Some don’t understand why their churches can’t resume the full range of ministries they conducted before the pandemic. Others don’t think there should be ministry at all until there is a vaccine. And then the racial tension in the country has provided a whole…

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6 Social Media Habits Pastors Should Avoid

“… And he’s a pastor!” I hear this phrase almost every week about a pastor’s online activity—namely, their treatment toward another human being through harsh speech. It’s almost as if we get behind a keyboard or touchscreen and forget our calling as heralds of God’s Word, shepherds of God’s people. Today there are many ways for pastors to disqualify—or at least embarrass—themselves, but few are as easy and fatal as social media. One friend of mine remarked recently that before looking for a church, Christians should check a pastor’s social media feed. That’s good advice. Pastors—particularly when we have that…

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Jesus in the Bio But Nasty in the Timeline?

A follower of Jesus myself, I normally like to see those words on someone’s Twitter profile. Lately, however, I’m reluctant to scroll down for fear that this same follower has cussed out a politician on the social media platform or tweeted nasty things at a person they disagree with. How can people who claim Jesus as Lord act so mean? First, we often think that because we are fighting for the right things – justice, truth, righteousness — that it doesn’t matter how we say what we say. The Apostle Peter, no stranger to impulsive talk, has a tip for…

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Politics and the Pandemic

USA Today published my latest oped on politics and the pandemic. Here is an excerpt:  We are learning more and more about the virus every day and our responses are getting smarter and more targeted. And our best and brightest minds are working feverishly to develop vaccines and treatments to hold back this deadly contagion that threatens our most vulnerable. But we cannot succeed if we are divided. We need less finger-pointing and more cooperation. We need our institutions to display greater transparency. We need leaders with credibility in a time of cynicism. It erodes public trust when public officials…

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Why Words Matter to God

It’s a bit ironic that the human race’s descent into darkness began with the serpent’s own twisted misrepresentation of God’s words of instruction to His image-bearers. Words, after humanity’s fall into sin, can now be used either to injure or inspire. This is why King David prayed that the words of his mouth be “acceptable” in the sight of God. In a fallen world, we often don’t even understand the weight of what we say or, in this age, what we type. David’s son, Solomon, understood well the power of words. The wisest man in all the world often reflected…

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Three Reasons White Pastors Need To Start Preaching On Race

We have all watched, horrified, at the viral video of the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed black man arrested in Minneapolis. It is video evidence of a reality that most of our black and brown brothers and sisters in Christ have been trying to tell us for years. And a few weeks ago, an unarmed black man, Ahmaud Arbery, was killed by two white vigilantes after innocently walking through a construction site. It is clear we have a race problem in America. Thankfully, this has spurred many evangelical leaders toward a renewed emphasis on racial reconciliation. But how do individual, local churches begin to embody this…

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Forgiveness in a Cancel Culture

Today, we can get the news quickly and react just as quickly. We can thumb a few sentences and press send, immediately expressing our thoughts to thousands or perhaps millions of people around the world. This kind of power isn’t just available to celebrities and politicians. Anyone can post anything on a seemingly unlimited number of platforms. In many ways, this is a welcome new reality. When a natural disaster strikes, relief and aid can be mobilized sooner. When there is a tragic death, online fundraisers can be created and money can be raised in mere hours. Missing persons can…

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Some Personal News: A New Opportunity at NRB

Six and a half years ago I got an email that changed my life. It was from Phillip Bethancourt on behalf of Dr. Russell Moore, someone I greatly admired. I had read Dr. Moore’s books and articles and had had the opportunity to interview him for Christianity Today and was overjoyed that he would be the new president of ERLC. After a series of conversations over the ensuing weeks, I was offered a job as Vice-President of Communications. We packed up our family, offered an awful, tearful goodbye to our church in Chicago, and moved to Nashville, a city that has…

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Easter and COVID-19: 3 Reasons the Message Fits the Moment

When the calendar rolled around and your leadership team gathered to plan out 2020, undoubtedly you had big plans for Easter. You’d urge your people to canvass the neighborhood, inviting friends and relatives to join them on what is still, in many places, the one time of year to go to church. Easter is when you go all out, with activities for children, vivid recreations of passion week for the adults, and a time to lean in on the central truths around which Christianity is formed. But alas an unseen enemy came roaring in, making its way around the world.…

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How Good Friday Helps Us Cope with the Pandemic

This year, thanks to the coronavirus, I will not be able to experience one of my favorite moments in the church calendar: Good Friday. I love Easter, with its bright colors and signs of spring, the celebration of a concept on which rests the entire Christian faith: resurrection. And yet sometimes we Christians rush too quickly past Good Friday, especially when the gospel writers devoted enormous space in the sacred texts to the ugly scene of Jesus dying an unjust and shameful death on a Roman cross. This moment we are in, in a week when fatalities from COVID-19 are…

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The Way Home: James Merritt on why character matters in leadership

Dr. James Merritt joins me to talk about character, leadership, pastoring, and the Southern Baptist Convention. Dr. Merritt is pastor of Cross Pointe Church in Duluth, Ga. He is the host of broadcast ministry, Touching Lives. This episode of The Way Home is sponsored by our friends at The Good Book Company, publisher of Where is God in a Coronavirus World? by John Lennox. Show Notes Book: Character Still Counts: It Is Time to Restore Our Lasting Values Website: crosspointechurch.com and touchinglives.org Twitter: @drjamesmerritt and @touchinglivestv

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The Way Home: Justin Lonas and Jerilyn Sanders on COVID-19 and the economy

Justin Lonas and Jerilyn Sanders join me for a bonus episode of The Way Home. On Tuesdays we will be releasing episodes focused on the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week was with with Jared Wilson on pastoring and encouragement during COVID-19.  Justin and Jerilyn help us think through COVID-19 and the economy. Jerilyn serves as the Director of U.S. Programs for The Chalmers Center. She has a B.A. in Psychology from Biola University and an Ed.M. from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her position at Chalmers synthesizes several things: love for people, passion for training that empowers disenfranchised people, and a desire…

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Remembering the working poor in the time of Coronavirus

They have been the invisible people as I’ve moved around in my career: The people who have assembled and shipped my laptops, the factory workers who print, box, and ship my books, the Uber drivers who take me to meetings and speaking engagements, the flight attendants and baggage carriers who get me to my destinations, the waiters and waitresses, hotel workers who make my travel comfortable and seamless, the baristas who fill my cup every time I text someone and say: “Want to grab coffee?” For all of my career — over 20 years — I’ve had a job in…

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How to Find Peace in a Pandemic

I am, by nature, optimistic. Ask the people who know me best, and they’d all agree I tend to find the sunniest take on nearly everything, almost to the point of annoyance. But in this strange, uncertain season we are experiencing as the coronavirus ravages our communities and countries, I have been gripped, at various times, by palpable terror. One night in particular, I read a dire, worst-case scenario projection right before I went to bed and found I couldn’t sleep. I tossed and turned and prayed all night, unable to find peace. Academically, I know all the reassurances I’ve…

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Honor Thy Father and Mother: Why Elderly Populations Have Value

All life is created in the image of God and worth our greatest efforts to preserve and protect, and He alone is the one who should order the length of our days. — Joni Erickson Tada When I pastored my first church, I was not yet thirty. The church was full of people much older than me. Scripture, of course, is chock full of instruction for young pastors and their respect for their more senior brothers and sisters in Christ, but I experienced this fully during my six years at that church. I sat at bedsides, reading Scripture and praying…

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How to Fight “Christian”

My pastor has a saying he repeats often. “This isn’t a 10,” he says, meaning that the issue we are discussing might be important but not ultimate. It’s a practice he’s taught me to use in my relationships—with my wife, my children, and my coworkers—in order to reduce friction. I don’t know that this is specifically what Paul had in mind when he was writing his epistles to Timothy and Titus. But in what many scholars believe are his final written words to the church, the apostle urges a healthy tension between courageous steadfastness on doctrine and a gentleness of…

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5 Misconceptions About Sin

Sin is not a word many people today use out loud. It’s rather uncool to call a particular attitude or choice a “sin.” For many it brings up scary images of angry preachers pointing bony fingers at people. But the Bible talks a lot about sin. So Christians who care about following Jesus and obeying His Word should understand what sin is. The good news for sinners—all of us—is that the gospel doesn’t just point out what is wrong with us and call it sin; it also points us to the One who came to bear the punishment for our…

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