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Get Caught Up on Church History

Followers of Christ should know their church history, not so you can win trivia games at the church potluck, but to get a sense of the sweep of God’s work in building His church in the last 2,000 years. Furthermore, a sense of church history keeps us grounded in good ways, from seeing our moment in time as ultimate. Lastly, church history helps keep us anchored to the “old paths” of truth, the orthodoxy that has been passed and preserved from generation to generation. Dr. Matt Hall, vice-president at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, has a good short video here explaining…

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The Church of the Future

Most of the time, expert musings about what the worldwide church will look like involve demographic surveys, technological advancements, and philosophical reflections. Bestselling authors and popular conferences focus on future trends. It’s important for churches to be part of this discussion so they can freshly apply the gospel to the moment and help their people think through inevitable ethical challenges. Yet, when future-casting, leaders can often be ironically shortsighted. Our strategizing thinks in terms of 15, 20, and 30 years down the road. We worry about the church we will leave our children and grandchildren. We talk about investing in…

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Is Speaking Your Mind a Christian Virtue? Ten Thoughts from Scripture

We live in an age where “speaking your mind” is considered a virtue and a hailed as a sign of good leadership. But is this trait something the Bible commends? Should Christians be known for “speaking their mind?” There are several truths about our speech we should consider from Scripture: The Bible commends honest speech. Proverbs 6:17 names a “lying tongue” as one of the things God hates. The prophet Zechariah instructed God’s people: “These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another. Paul commands the new covenant people of Ephesus, “Let everyone of you…

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The Surprising Power of a Public Apology

“I’m sorry.” These two simple words from Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House, came rumbling down the Capitol steps, scrolling across social media timelines, and into the news cycle last week. In a campaign year besotted with the crass and profane, in a culture that seems to rewards pride and hubris, Ryan’s words were a breath of fresh air. There is little incentive these days for leaders to publicly admit their mistakes. Supporters see this as cowardice and opponents see this as an opportunity to capitalize on weakness. What Ryan offered, in the midst of a speech on civility, was refreshing. While speaking out against…

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Human Dignity, Spiritual Leadership, and Madame Secretary: Some Recent Articles

Here are some recent articles I’ve published: Stop Pitting Pro-Life Causes Against Each Other For Relevant on the unfortunate tension between those who advocate for pro-life justice and those who advocate for racial justice: Back in January, those of us in the U.S. celebrated both Martin Luther King Jr’s birthday and Sanctity of Life Sunday. What would it look like for the church to lament both the abortion industrial complex and systematic racial injustice, to confess the sins of abortion and racism, and to offer, for recovering racists and post-abortive women the freedom offered only in the cross of Christ? Read more…

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Troubled Hearts in Tumultuous Times

What is going on? This is the sentiment I’ve heard from many friends and family, especially as they survey this increasingly crazy election season. I have to admit that I’ve been more than a bit distressed myself lately. How is it, for instance, that a vulgar, reality-show icon who has built his empire by exploiting the poor, who openly mocks the disabled, who defends the abortion industrial complex, who threatens his opponents, who brags of his adultery, who says that he has “no need of forgiveness”–how is this guy winning among evangelicals in places like South Carolina? How is it…

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Some thoughts on productivity and leadership from a creative

Productivity is a growing field among evangelicals and I’m so grateful for this. Gifted men like Matt Perman and Michael Hyatt have helped us think through the best way to do be most efficient in our respective callings. At ERLC we are blessed to have our very own productivity guru, Daniel Patterson, who has taught me much about efficient ways to communicate within an organization and how to establish good work rhythms. We live in an increasingly fragmented world. As a busy leader, I need all the help I can get to manage my many responsibilities as a husband, father, pastor,…

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Good Men Are Hard to Find: Lessons from the Life of George H.W. Bush

I just finished reading Jon Meacham’s magnificent biography of the 41st President of the United States, George HW Bush, a book I thoroughly enjoyed, from cover to cover. Bush’s election to the presidency in 1988 was the first presidential election I paid attention to. I was ten years old, already a budding politics and history nerd. We huddled around the radio in our family room that November night (our family did not own a TV) and waited to hear the returns. George HW Bush was in the arena during much of the pivotal history of the 20th century. His father, Prescott Bush, was…

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How to be a prolific writer

One of the questions I often get from emerging writers is this one: How do you create a lot of good content at a regular pace. Over the years, I’ve been blessed with opportunities to write for a variety of outlets on topics I enjoy. I write regularly for ERLC and am a regular contributor to several other publications. Every writer has their own rhythms, but perhaps there are some things you can learn from what has helped me. Here are six things I do in my life to be a productive and consistent writer: 1) I don’t wait for inspiration, for a…

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When you stop saying “Thank You”

Many years ago, a writing mentor counseled me with words I’ll never forget: “Dan, no matter how far you get in your career, always say ‘Thank you’ every time someone offers you an opportunity to write.” I’ve never forgotten that advice. Maybe its because my mother taught me–no she actually insisted (you know how mothers can insist with some power)–that I always say thank you. It became a habit of mine, whether through notes or verbal expression or, now, through texts or emails. It’s a simple thing, really, to say “Thank you.” I’ve noticed, however, that ingratitude is often the first…

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Christian Rhetoric During a National Crisis

Last week another horrific mass shooting—this one a terrorist event—happened in California. This followed a shooting at Planned Parenthood in Colorado, which followed a horrific, ISIS-led mass attack in Paris. We’re living in a dangerous world. Terror and all kinds of evil seem to happen every day in communities that seem impervious to this. We are inundated with details because we are all wired to social media, television and other mediums. Every event is now a national, even global, event. And every person with a smartphone is now a reporter, a commentator or a policy analyst. This is the reality…

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Joining Green Hill Church

One of the reasons I love my job here at ERLC is that our mission to equip the church to think through moral and ethical issues. I love the church, having grown up hearing the gospel preached, learning the hymns, and worshiping Christ every Sunday. I loved pastoring. I believe, with all my heart, that the most important meetings in the world happen on Sunday mornings when God’s people gather to say to themselves and to the world, “There is another King and another Kingdom.” I also love public policy and I love cultural engagement. I always have. I began…

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Good Reading on Syrian Refugees

The plight of Syrian refugees, particularly their possible resettlement in the United States, has come under increased scrutiny in the days since the Paris terrorists attacks. The conversation online (much of it ugly) has centered around the tension of two American ideals: maintaining national security and welcoming those who are fleeing terror. I’ve done quite a bit of reading in the last few days on this issue, so I thought I’d pass along some of the best, most informed pieces on the settlement of Syrian refugees. ERLC Explainer: What You Should Know About the Syrian Refugees A short explainer on the…

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ICYM: Some recent articles

In case you missed it, here are some recent articles I’ve written: No Quick Fixes – In Touch Magazine A. W. Tozer famously said, “It is doubtful whether God can bless a man greatly until He has hurt him deeply.” Maybe this is what Paul was referring to when he told the believers at Corinth that God uses the comfort we receive in times of trial to comfort others (2 Cor 1:4). Comfort, I learned, is not a five-step process and it doesn’t come quickly … or easily. Read the Psalms and hear the lament of men like David who longed…

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The Great Commission Versus the Church Calendar

From my latest piece for In Touch:  “It’s not simply the pastor’s job to make disciples, it’s the job of the whole church,” I had said for the umpteenth time in a message on discipleship. When my sermon was finished, I headed to the back of the auditorium, as I’ve always done, to shake hands with people as they left. I’ll never forget the look of one faithful church member. It was that of ministry fatigue. We had just finished a series of weeklong ministry projects—a monumental undertaking at our church—and this lady was reflecting the exhaustion that our people…

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ICYMI: Trust, Engagement, Mission

In case you missed it: some of my latest articles: Three Important Ways to Build Trust – Lifeway Pastors What is the most important character trait for a pastor? A preaching gift? Theological education? Leadership skills? Vision? Communication saavy? A shepherd’s heart? All of these things are important and essential for the ministry, but none of them will be used effectively if the pastor doesn’t possess the one thing that will determine the rise or fall of his ministry: trust. Trust matters. When people first walk through the doors of a church, they enter with a bit of fear. Most…

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Are you preaching the right Jesus on Sunday?

From my recent article at Lifeway Pastors:  A few years ago I began a preaching series through the book of James. To be honest, I decided to preach through James because I felt it addressed some issues I wanted to address, from Scripture in our congregation. James is a book that doesn’t mess around. It addresses weak and shallow faith, joy in suffering, and pride and elitism in the body of Christ. What surprised me, however, was how much James spoke to me, as a pastor. I was especially convicted by the way James 3 challenges the way pastors approach…

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Anything is Possible if You Work Hard . . . Until it Isn’t

“Anything is possible if you work hard . . . ” this is a message that we hear, over and over again, a credo embedded in the ethos of many Americans. I say “many” because the realities of those of us who have grown up in safe, relatively affluent suburbs is vastly different from my brothers and sisters who’ve grown up in more hope-starved, crime-ridden, opportunity-free precincts of American life. But is the above credo true? Is it biblical? And is it something we should whisper to our kids as we tuck them in at night? I get the sentiment…

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This World is Not Our Home . . . Or Is It?

“This World is Not My Home” was one of my favorite songs growing up. I sang it as part of a quartet that won first at the state convention in Illinois. (Relax, it was a Christian school competition, not exactly American Idol). But was popular song theologically right? In some ways, yes. The world system, run by the “prince and power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2), is alien to the kingdom of God. You can’t love the world, John writes, and have the love of the Father in you (1 John 2:15-17). Yet, in other ways, this song is somewhat wrong.…

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Pastors, Don’t Be Passive on Planned Parenthood

This is my latest piece for Leadership Journal: how pastors can lead their churches to fight for life in this cultural moment:  Pro-life activism has been a part of Christian witness throughout church history, but has received particularly focused attention by evangelicals and Catholics since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. Now, though, we find ourselves in a unique cultural moment. The third in a series of undercover sting videos was just released this week, bringing to light the hideous reality of Planned Parenthood’s macabre abortion enterprise. To hear medical professionals casually discuss the deliberate termination, dismembering, and sale of…

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