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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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Are you slow to tweet?

“Be careful” was the cryptic text I received from a respected Christian leader and a close friend after a series of politically charged tweets I posted online in 2016. “I think most people agree with you, but you need to watch the way you tweet things. You could offend some people.” He was right. So I took it down. I hope I’ve learned a few things since then. My moments of incivility online (there have been more than one) underscore how easy it is to let our thumbs engage before our minds have caught up, to allow the passions of…

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For the Dignity of All

Not long ago I was speaking in Washington, D.C., at an event on human dignity and brought my daughter, who’d just turned 13. When the event was over, we had a few days to take in the nation’s capital. I wanted Grace to see as much as we could fit in, so I kept us on a pretty tight schedule. Then one day, as we were walking to the Washington Monument, we passed a veteran—homeless and holding a crude sign asking for money. We rushed by, but a few steps later my daughter stopped and said, “Dad, we should help…

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Halfway There

Just get ready,” a colleague whispered to me during a birthday party at work. “40 is great. 41 is … Well, you’ll see.” I brushed it off with a laugh. Turning 40 struck me as an accomplishment. Four decades appeared to be the perfect age—old enough not to be foolish and young enough to still have energy and ideas and a career that seems upwardly mobile. Whenever I read the profiles of young leaders, they seem to be in their 40s. Right? I’d always dismissed the idea of a midlife crisis—guys snapping and buying a Mustang, leaving their families, and…

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Three Things You Should Cut From Your Writing

If you want to improve your writing craft, cutting precious words might be the most important discipline you learn. You want to write in such a way that the experience for the reader is enjoyable. You don’t want to make them work so hard they give up after the first paragraph. So after you’ve written, give yourself some time and space and then come back and use your scalpel to cut.

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A New Newsletter: One Little Word

I started a weekly newsletter. This will be a bit different every week. Sometimes some humor. Sometimes an excerpt of something I’m reading. Sometimes a fresh idea or some tips on writing. You can sign up here.  

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Don’t Swing for the Fences

For a lifelong Cubs fan, there was hardly a more thrilling player than Sammy Sosa. Let’s set aside, for a moment, the fact that he played during the scandal-plagued steroid era. At the time, I was a giddy baseball fan, tuning into WGN to hear every thrilling at bat in 1998, when Sosa and Mark McGuire competed for the home run title. Sammy’s home runs were the stuff of legend and made tuning into a baseball game on a Saturday afternoon a community event. I still hear the dulcet tones of Pat Hughes in my head, “There’s a drive, deep…

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