In Paradise

One of my favorite memories as my time as a newspaper reporter was covering the Billy Graham Crusade in Cincinnati. It was one of Graham's last crusades (He did one more in Texas after that) and right up until the event, it was questionable if he could physically preach the services. But he did and it was a powerful experience.

I went all four nights of that crusade. I went two nights as a reporter, covering the event, taking pictures, interviewing folks, and attending press conferences. I went two nights as a volunteer, having attended the evangelism training courses to help lead people to a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was an amazing experience.

As I heard to the news of Graham's passing this week, I've been thinking about that week and the events that led up to it. It was a unique experience and I was privileged to be part of it. I was a part-time youth minister at the time. I worked full time for the paper. It was one of the few times in my career when my two ch…

Forgiving the Unforgiveable

Can you forgive the unforgivable?

That's not a rhetorical question. It's not even theoretical. It plays out, in real life and in real situations.

A few weeks ago, Larry Nassar, a former doctor who worked at Michigan State University and worked with the USA Gymnastics program, was found guilty of multiple counts of sexual abuse. He will spend the rest of his life in jail.

Nassar was convicted of repeatedly sexually assault young girl in the gymnastics program. He hurt and abused them in despicable ways. Sadly, he got away with it for years and years. That was until Rachael Denhollender, a Louisville attorney and former US gymnast, brought allegations against him to the Indianapolis Star newspaper. That set in motion an investigation that eventually brought Nassar to justice.

At Nassar's sentencing hearing, many women, including Denhollender, was given the opportunity to speak. She chose to address not only the court but Nassar himself. He words, found here, are powerful an…

Don't Ignore the Spirit

My son loves to watch the old Looney Tunes cartoons. His favorite is Wiley E. Coyote and the Road Runner. We subscribe to the Boomerang streaming network and Coyote and Road Runner are on constant replay. He loves watching that coyote fail miserably at catching that road runner.

In one episode, right at the beginning, Coyote reads a warning from the Surgeon General that hunting road runners can be hazardous to your health. Sure enough, he ignores the warning only to end up failing, crashing through a cliff rock, and reading a second sign that says not to ignore Surgeon General's warnings.

It's a funny moment, but it's also one that rings true to often for believers. We are warned by Paul in Galatians 5 to live by the Holy Spirit and to walk in the Holy Spirit. He warns believers, that as human beings, we are constantly fighting our sin nature. We want to do things according to our own desires instead of the Lord's desires.

Instead, we are to walk by the Spirit and let…

Our Advantage

A few years ago, in my personal study time, I was praying and God spoke to me. Now it wasn't an audible voice from the heavens (though that would be really cool.) Instead, while I was praying, in my mind, I got the distinct message: "Wayne, you're going to be a pastor."

At the time I was (happily) doing youth ministry. I had been doing youth ministry for over a decade. I had no desire to do anything but youth ministry. I had always been called to youth ministry. This was the first time that God changed his calling on my life.

So I prayed about it. I had my wife pray about it. I had my best friend pray about it. For six weeks, we prayed. At the end of that time, I asked each of them what God had revealed. Both said God revealed that I was going to be a pastor. He had confirmed the same thing to me.

One year later, I accepted my first pastorate.

The Holy Spirit was involved in that process. He guides us and directs us. In fact, in John 16, Jesus tells his disciples th…

Getting to know the Holy Spirit

There are days I wish I could clone myself. I have so much to do and so many places to be that it would be nice to have someone else to do those things in my place. Someone to run my errands or pick the kids up from school or attend the meeting I really don't want to go to.

I kid about that (I think), but the reality is there is only one of me. I can't be in two places at once. I can only do what I can do.

Jesus had this problem while he was on Earth. While he walked the Earth in a physical body, he could only be in one place at one time. As God He is completely omnipresent (that means he can be everywhere). However, as he walked on the Earth in the form of a man, he could only be in one physical place at one time.

That's why Jesus tells the disciples in John 14 that after his death another helper will come in his place. The Greek language in this passage means that someone just like Jesus will come and take his place. This someone is the Holy Spirit.

The Holy Spirit is a…

God Is with Us

How cool of a story is Jesus's birth?

A virgin gave birth. Angels filled in the sky. A star appeared that alerted the magi astrologers of the birth of a king. Shepherds came telling wild stories and worshiping.

It really is a great story. It's a story most people would tell the rest of their lives. I mean, how can you top a story like that. It would be pretty hard.

Jesus, though, did. The story of Jesus's birth is a tremendous story. For an encore, he gave us the story of his death. Tried illegally. Beaten within an inch of his life. Stripped naked. Nailed to a cross. Forgiving people as they mocked him and cursed him. Dying without a single broken bone.

And three days later, he arose. The grave could not hold him. Death could claim no victory. Jesus is alive.

As miraculous as the birth narrative of Jesus is, it is dwarfed by the truth of his resurrection. Jesus rose up from the grave. Only God can do that. He appeared to people after his death. Only God can do that. He o…

Celebrate Like Never Before

As a kid, Christmas was always an exciting time. I remember, as child, being excited on Christmas Eve night that I could barely go to sleep. And when I did finally crash, I didn't stay down long. By 3 or 4 a.m. I laid in bed, wide awake, giddy with anticipation of seeing the tree filled with presents for me.

As soon as any sliver of daylight cracked through the window, I was up, trying to rouse my parents so we could go to the tree and unwrap all the great gifts under there for me.

Once I grew older, Christmas started to lose that excitement. Soon the presents under the tree were more practical things than toys. Then there were less of them. As I had kids, I began to realize how much work Christmas was. You worked a lot to afford presents for your kids. You also worked hard and wrapping them and placing them under the tree.

Between office parties, gift exchanges, credit card bills, and the hassle of seeing all your family, Christmas lost a little bit of its luster. It just wasn&#…