Baptists Doing Lent?

The Book of Common Prayer, in its service for Ash Wednesday, includes the following proclamation:

Dear People of God: The first Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord’s passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church to prepare for them by a season of penitence and fasting.  The season of Lent is that time of preparation.  

Lent is still a fairly new concept for some Baptists.  True enough, we Baptists haven’t always been quick to embrace the ancient traditions and practices of the early church.  But an increasing number of us are realizing the profound spiritual benefits of observing Lent alongside our more liturgical Christian brothers and sisters.  And for good cause!  The basic components of Lent (prayer, fasting, and self-denial) are sound spiritual disciplines outlined multiple times in scripture.  These practices are designed to help us realize the virtue of humility, bringing us closer to God.  This is the ultimate purpose of Lent: To bring us spiritually closer to God so that we may more fully celebrate the Passion and Resurrection of Christ.     Continue reading Baptists Doing Lent?

More Than Parts

Every once in awhile someone will ask me, “Pastor, what is your favorite Bible verse?”  My answer almost always disappoints: Asking me to identify a favorite Bible verse is like asking me to identify my favorite car part; the parts, alone, don’t fulfill their designed purpose.

Taken out of their greater context, individual bible verses are often misapplied, misunderstood, and not nearly as inspirational as one might otherwise think.   Continue reading More Than Parts

Out in the Cold

I don’t like cold weather.  Drops in the mercury cause my joints to ache and my skin to get dry and itchy.  Most of my favorite hobbies are outdoor ventures, so cold winter days leave me feeling restless.  For these and so many other reasons, I simply don’t like the cold.

The cold, for most of us, is really not much more than an inconvenience.  We enjoy the shelter of heated homes.  We have relatively easy access to coats, scarves, gloves, and hats.  We generally take for granted our level of luxury; if we really don’t want to get out in the cold, we often don’t have to.  But this is not the case for a growing number of our neighbors.   Continue reading Out in the Cold

Pokemon Go to Church

Surely by now you’ve heard about Pokemon Go – this summer’s biggest new video game and one of the most popular video games of recent times.  Admittedly, I’m not much of a video game person.  My brother and I shared a Nintendo – the original – when we were young children, but I never played much beyond the original Super Mario Brothers.  So I’ve had to do some research to catch up on this Pokemon Go craze.  

The premise of Pokemon Go is rather simple: Players, using a smartphone (iPhone or Android), create an online/virtual “character” that moves through the real world to “catch” 151 different Pokemon creatures.  Players must physically move through the real world to move their “character” through the game’s map.  Along the way are “Pokestops” – real-life buildings and landmarks – where players can earn “bonus points,” increase the strength/endurance of their “character,” and interact with other players.  As a matter of technology, this is rather intriguing: the virtual gaming world and the real world are coming together as they never have before!  

The great news for us is that from the launching of this game in mid-July, our church has served as a Pokestop.  This means Pokemon Go players have to physically spend time at our church as part of the game!  If all of this seems too complicated for comprehension, don’t worry… here’s the simple real-world reality: Young people (mostly under the age of 30) are spending a LOT of time at our church because of this online game.  And while some churches are viewing this as a nuisance, I see an opportunity for ministry! Continue reading Pokemon Go to Church