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Good morning! It is another beautiful day in our Advent journey, and I am hearing some wonderful reports of churches across the district celebrating through music, pageants, and sermons.

I love the Advent season, though I know there is a bit of challenge in the season. While we can hardly wait until Christmas, the celebration of the First Advent of Jesus, the season also calls us to prepare our minds and hearts for the Second Advent, the promised return of the Messiah, our Savior.

Some churches prefer to sing songs and read passages of scripture that are filled with anticipation; "Come Thou Long Expected Jesus," or "O Come, O Come Emmanuel." Those churches postpone the singing of carols of celebration for Christmas and through the season of Epiphany. The "twelve days of Christmas" become services of celebration and praise.

I confess that I can hardly wait to sing the carols! But I also find myself identifying with the anguish of waiting, of looking forward to some things not yet fulfilled, remembering that the…

Read more: eNews December 11, 2017

“And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, ’Come back to God!’”(2 Cor. 5:18-20)

As Nazarenes, we have a message for the world that is full of hope and optimism. We do not believe that this world is just a sinking ship and our job is get people to make a decision for Jesus so they can get off this sinking ship before she goes down for the last time. We believe that God is at work to redeem the world. We believe that God’s grace is poured out upon the whole world and that all persons are being drawn to the love of God in Christ. Our job is simply to announce with our words and with our lives the gospel, the good news of God’s reconciling love in Christ…

Read more: This We Believe

Nothing can sap my strength and confidence faster than criticism. I think the years have taught me how to deal with it more effectively, but sometimes a sharp, critical word can still get under my skin. For most of my pastoral ministry I thought that I was probably more sensitive to this than other pastors. Everyone else seemed to handle it better than me. The past ten years, however, have demonstrated to me that we pastors generally have a tough time dealing with criticism.

I see this clearly when it’s time for the regular church/pastoral review. I read the review comments in advance and to my way of seeing things it is a great review. The pastor, however, seizes upon the one negative comment or the one negative person on the board that is clearly grinding an axe. I have noticed this in pastors of long tenure as well as rookies, and I have seen it in pastors of large churches and small churches alike. I am not being critical of the pastor in this, I understand it. But how does one handle this propensity to be…

Read more: Criticism

    I’m guessing that Nehemiah didn’t wake up one day saying, “I think I’ll be a leader.”  It almost never works that way, perhaps especially for those of us who are pastors.  We suddenly find ourselves having been plucked out of a normal life by God’s call.  Now we are faced with the daunting prospect of leading His often stiff-necked people and realizing we have no clue how to do it.  So we set out to read the books and attend the seminars, trying desperately to figure it out.

Have you noticed, though, that some people who read all the books and attend all the seminars are still crummy leaders?  And others who never read the books or went to the seminars are great leaders?  What is that?  I know that in this results-oriented, product-based, consumer-driven culture of ours, I often get tricked into thinking that my leadership has everything to do with what I do.  Actually I think it has a lot more to do with who I am.  Thinking about that again recently drew my attention back to Nehemiah.  I like periodically…

Read more: Leadership