Sam

Spiritual but Not Religious

Spiritual but Not Religious

Fifteen years ago, I was dining alone in New York City when I overheard a Christian woman ask a friend for dating advice. She had met two men on eHarmony. One said he goes to church and the other said he was “spiritual but not religious.” I thought his line was clever.   Clever turns of phrase thrill me. I collect them the way my sister-in-law collects stamps: It’s not the size of the...

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Mission Idolatry

Mission Idolatry

Last summer I met with a pastor who serves a church near a large campus. As the university grew in prestige, it attracted thousands of international students, many of whom had little exposure to Christianity. So the church began to reach out to them with language classes, tutoring, and members who “adopt” students into their homes.   The church also changed their Sunday morning worship...

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We Buried the Hatchet

We Buried the Hatchet

Twenty-five years ago, my wife and I moved into a lovely farmhouse in the country. But in our hunt for that house, we made huge blunders in understanding (or misunderstanding) each other, and those communication errors stressed our marriage.   Within a few years, those growing tensions contributed to significant marriage difficulties. We saw a Christian counselor, and after an extended time...

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Old-fashioned Pharisees with a Modern-day Makeover

Old-fashioned Pharisees with a Modern-day Makeover

You and I are just normal folk: we struggle to make lasting friendships. But we also know people who casually stroll into a room of strangers, and leave with a dozen new friends, three lunch dates, and a personal introduction to someone’s dear old grandmother. We wish we were more like them: delightful and enchanting.   Last summer I read a BBC article entitled, Tricks to Make Yourself...

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Measuring Fruit

Measuring Fruit

My father pastored five different churches between 1949 and 1994. His first four churches averaged 200 members, and his last church grew from 250 to 750 during his ten years of care. A few years before dad retired from that last, rapidly growing church, I came home for Christmas. We went out for coffee, and he shared with me some reflections on church growth. When he pastored his first four...

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An Unearthly Delight

An Unearthly Delight

Sometimes I hear God best in surprises. Seemingly unrelated circumstances suddenly unite, and their merger stirs something in my heart. Like a succession of waves on a beach, one last surge dissolves my sandcastles.   This last month I talked with: A despairing man whose ministry seems stagnant, and all his work seem fruitless; Another man who keeps a tally in the front of his Bible of all...

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