Month: August 2013

Sincerity Is Better than Cool

Sincerity – speaking and acting honestly and truthfully; someone who is free from pretense and is genuine.

We pastors are a troublesome tribe at times.  None of us will admit to being copycats of the cool, but let one young pastor start a fast growing church and suddenly many of us will begin wearing the same bow tie and preaching the same sermon series, hoping for the same quick results. For those of us tired of this charade, I have good news! The age of slick and smooth is over and the era of sincerity is back.

It is true. The best you can do is be you. Sincerity is better than cool. What people want, better yet, what our congregations really need is for pastors to really be real. If we are a middle age man with thinning hair and a graying beard, it is ok. In fact, to earn the trust of our younger congregation members, we must put aside all the pretense and speak honestly about our core beliefs with conviction. They know when we are pretending, anyway.

They want to know what we really believe. They have grown up inundated with tricky marketing slogans. They are not moved by highly produced worship services and sermons that have all the humanity rehearsed away. They are eager to know what is sustainable, what will endure through the trials of adversity and the temptations of prosperity. They do not want to be tricked. They want to be taught by teachers who have learned themselves. Vulnerability reaches them much quicker than polished presentations.

If you are naturally quick witted and funny, then be funny when you speak. If you are more serious and studious, practicing a punchline to be funnier will only fall flat to those trying to connect with you. We want truth and we need it from genuine people, the real McCoy’s. Bona fide believers are discipled best by veritable pastors who have stopped trying to mimic the latest crazes and have embraced the right now move of the Holy Spirit.

So let’s get on with authentic teaching and embrace the sacred call of pastor. Let us stop the comparisons and embrace the reality that God has called us, just as we are. That is enough, now and forever.



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The Calm and Quiet Soul

The world promises peace to us, but only God really can provide it. Whatever nanosecond of restfulness or relief the world offers is fragile, elusive, and circumstantial. It is also self-maintained: we must constantly find it, produce it, and keep it going, which causes us to work against that which we seek. But perhaps the worst truth about the world’s version of peace is that it is futile; it is no more than a mirage.

It’s hardly this way with God. Jesus said of divine peace, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).The rest God gives is abiding. It’s eternal. It sits far below our circumstances and heals us from the inside out. What’s more, it is Spirit maintained: he produces it, he provides it, he perpetuates it in our lives.

Here’s the goal I ought to be working toward: a calm and quiet soul. This is what it says in Psalm 131: “My heart is not proud, LORD, my eyes are not haughty; I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me. But I have calmed and quieted myself, I am like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child I am content” (vv. 1-2).

When work stress mounts, we can have a calm and quiet soul.

When a spouse admits an affair, we can have a calm and quiet soul.

When a teenager rebels, we can have a calm and quiet soul.

When any of these (and a thousand other) things happen, we can calm and quiet our souls. Not inebriate and numb ourselves. Not distract and busy ourselves. Not ignore the needs of our heart and cast aside the state of our soul. No, we can actually calm and quiet ourselves, even when circumstances go south really fast. We can be as content as a baby at his momma’s breast. We do this by slowing down and looking up. We do this by simply being with God.

This is a short excerpt from the raw manuscript of my fourth book. I am still working on a title. The book releases Summer 2014.


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