Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Virtues Make the Best Valentines

Valentine’s Day is near and the scramble is on for flowers, gifts, cards, and of course, chocolates. Charles Shultz once said, “All you need is love, but a little chocolate now and then never hurts.” Can I get an Amen?

When it comes to love, courtship and romance, everyone searches for the right assortment of ways to express value and affection. Yet I would propose that the best assortment is not found in a box of chocolates (Forest Gump: “You never know what you’re gonna get”), but in an array of “fruit” that adds value and beauty to all who share. 

The fruit to which I am referring is a fresh and familiar assortment of virtues produced by the Holy Spirit in our lives as believers: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.

These virtues offer enduring beauty in a world where vices have marred trust, and fueled injury and fear in relationships. 

In recent days, social networks and mainstream news have featured scandalous accusations and sensational revelations concerning a growing list of popular, powerful and prosperous men who are now identified by their vices and abuses toward women. Many of these men have suddenly and catastrophically lost their livelihoods, their families, and will forever bear a brand they had not previously displayed or owned. 

With this in mind, I have been reflecting on my own attitudes and praying for ways to challenge the men in my church to raise a new standard of virtue in their hearts and homes with regard to all women, but especially their wives. The word I put before them and want to share with you is a word, a virtue, now lost in a culture consumed with rights and void of responsibility. It is the word, respect. I believe most of out mates would affirm and agree respect is better than roses.

Respect is choosing to take responsibility for the attitudes and actions toward others. Respect is foundational in our relationship with God—“The fear of the LORD” (Proverbs 1:7)—and our relationships with others. Respect is at the core of what makes society, community, and family work.

How do we choose respect and express respect in our homes? May I offer an assortment of applications for you to read and share?

Live with her according to knowledge. In 1 Peter, husbands are instructed to show great honor and care for their wives based on what they know about them, not what they know about themselves. I am amazed how many men know more about cars, guns, games and teams than they do about their wives. When you value something (respect someone), you know what to do to promote and protect them.

Look at her. Eye contact is a means of showing honor and respect. You know this with your kids, but what about showing this to your wife? She needs to be reminded you only have eyes for her!

Listen to her. If you are like me, I am prone to jump to conclusions in finishing her sentences, to offer an opinion before I have heard her line of thought or offer a solution. What your wife really needs is an open heart and a listening ear.

Lift her up in prayer and before others. Thank God for your wife and pray for her needs. Thank your wife in front of others and let them hear you echo her value to you and your home. Public cynicism and criticism are detrimental to any relationship. What you appreciate, appreciates.

Learn to love what she loves. Guys, we fake it when we are dating and prove it when we are married, don’t we? Don’t bait and switch. Find ways to do what she likes and learn to love what she loves. This will radiate respect.

Limit your schedule to include her. Nothing says, “I value and respect you,” more than making appointments to spend time together. Time is love and love takes time. 

Lean on her counsel. This is often difficult for men, yet it is the primary way to express respect through trust. If you are a pastor like me, you feel respected when people heed your counsel, and feel disrespected when they ignore you. The same is true at home.

Lend a hand to help her. When you help your wife with tasks, chores and responsibilities, you are saying, “Who you are and what you do matters to me!” 

Respect. Aretha Franklin sang about it (R-E-S-P-E-C-T) and we need a new generation of men to hear it, honor it and heed it.

Respect is better than roses, but don’t forget the roses.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Post-Season Play in a Post-Modern Era

At the risk of adding to the paralysis of analysis (ad infinitum, ad nauseam) following big games, I have found myself captured by a powerful parable I need to examine and express before time passes and the imagery of the Alabama victory fades. 

Monday night’s CFP National Championship game between Alabama and Georgia displayed all the expected traits of the strong, calculated and daring leadership that Nick Saban brought and continues to bring to college football in this era.

Saban is now creating his own new era—having tied Paul “Bear” Bryant’s legendary six championships—and by all evidence, is not ready to throw in the towel. In the heat of post-season play, Saban was willing to do what may be the most unconventional thing—risk the future of his career and the game on a young man who was talented and eager, but had little game time or experience with the team. Rather than following the protocol of loyalty by staying with quarterback Jalen Hurt, Saban chose to throw the second half into the hands of freshman Tau Tagovailoa. 

Saban didn’t take the risk because he was retiring; he took the risk because he cared passionately about winning. He was not resigning to a better game plan demonstrated by Georgia in the first half; he was leading. And in the risk to lead, Saban proved he had overwhelming and amazing potential to win. 

The result is now in the record books. Alabama’s Crimson Tide overcame Georgia Bulldogs in the CFP National Championship, 23-20. Saban led Alabama to a 17th national championship (their fifth title in nine seasons) and tied Bryant’s record with six national championships, the most in history.

Why am I repeating and rehearsing Monday night’s game? I believe there are parallels from which we can learn and apply to a winning ministry.


Post-season play requires risks and actions
that don’t fit the regular season plan.
Whenever big wins occur, big risks are often the key.

In football, I’ve often heard, “Do what we’ve done all year. Stay with the plan and those who got us here.” In baseball, “Don’t change the line-up or take out the pitcher.” When the predictable happens, we often lose. Post-season play requires risks and actions that don’t fit the regular season plan.
Whenever big wins occur, big risks are often the key. 
I believe the easiest way to lose in ministry is to quit leading your ministry: rest on your laurels, do what you’ve always done, hope for the best.

For us as pastors and leaders, it’s time to take a risk on a generation who have little game time, but who are willing and able to be “all in”. This means taking a risk on players whose backgrounds are diverse, whose names you can’t pronounce (Tounge-oho-vie-loa), but players who can get a job done that benefits the team, not just the record book. 

As a pastor, I’m certainly not saying this because I’m ready to retire or throw in the towel (though I’m beyond the second half and clearly in the fourth quarter of my game). I’m saying this because I believe the post-Christian era is going to require impact through some talented—though inexperienced—game changers who need someone to say, “Take the ball. Go make the play.” 

I recently read an article in Christian Post and found myself concerned about the trend of churches toward an aging ministry in an emerging generation. I’m not saying that maturity doesn’t matter. It does. But like Paul and Timothy, the intentionality of engagement and development may be our most strategic path forward in order to see our churches strengthened and increased in numbers daily (Acts 16:5).

On Monday night, the instruction to take-the-ball-and-go-make-the-play was not limited to the Saban playbook, but the Smart playbook as well. 

Jake Fromm, quarterback for Georgia, is an incredible young athlete with a bright future (just needs his pastor to get behind him!)—see article from Baptist Press. Fromm, like Tau Tagovailoa, is a believer. He is a Christ-follower and both of these young men have been willing to stand on the biggest platform of college sports to give glory and honor to the name of Jesus Christ.

In an arena where the name of Christ is disrespected and disregarded (universities, sports’ franchises, public displays), these men are bold and courageous to declare and affirm their allegiance and service to the name of Jesus. When I witness this, I understand and believe this post-Christian era needs seasoned leaders who are willing to take great risks on an emerging generation.

If you are young and eager, get ready! What happened on Monday night wasn’t a fluke of fate; it was the result of young men’s spiritual and physical preparation for a big game.

Tua—not knowing he would take a snap, experience a sack or save the game—was reliable, responsible and ready. Like young Timothy, he let no one “despise [his] youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).

In the end, the aim of our effort is that the name of Jesus be glorified, His kingdom be extended, and His will be accomplished on earth as it is in heaven. For me, it is not about records; it is about wins for the kingdom. I want to keep leading, risking and winning until the clock runs out.

David H. McKinley, Pastor-Teacher
Warren Baptist Church, Augusta, GA

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Time Management

Much of the emphasis I read about on time management has to do with "hacks" (doing more faster) or "attacks" (how to do big things best). But have you read or thought about "relax" and how to embrace the value of lingering longer? Read more from Dagan Sharpe

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Why Shortcuts Often Meet Dead Ends: Lies, Shame and Forgiveness

The 3-point blog I want to share with you today is by Garrett Kell, lead pastor of Del Ray Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA. Read more.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Essential Discipleship

I read a lot of information and focus enormous amounts of energy and attention on what may be called "essentials" in ministry.

Of course, what we call "essential" must always be rooted in biblical instruction. For pastors, churches and all Christ-followers, there is no sole, single text with broader application or greater call to action than Matthew 28:18-20--the Great Commission. 

The Great Commission is the foundation of all ministry focus and formation. Here we meet the "disciple-making" mandate.

Yet, I often read and observe what seems to me to be a myoptic view of discipleship that focuses exclusively on the developmental efforts of current believers to lead or bring embryonic believers into greater maturity in Christ. That is, discipleship is synonymous with spiritual development.   

No doubt the end result of effective discipling investments is a follower whose life bears “observational obedience” (Matthew 28:20) to the commands of Christ. 

I believe a truly biblical model of discipleship requires three essential and integral dimensions:

1. Conversion. We must first observe that the starting point for any discipling model begins with the Great Commission. It is a sending mandate in and under the authority of the name of Jesus Christ to go with the gospel and sow gospel seeds in people groups around the world. Whatever this "make disciples" mandate means, it requires active and cooperative obedience on the part of existing believers to GO. Where? Everywhere. Who? All peoples. What? Bear witness to the name and fame of Christ.

We go bearing the seed of the gospel of which the fruit is evidenced in "baptismal" identification under the authority of the "name that is above every name" (Philippians 2:9). This is not a matter of church tradition or denomination, but rather the observable pattern of those who confessed conversion throughout the New Testament.

It should be noted the word “disciple” appears almost exclusively in the Gospels and Acts, but appears absent in the New Testament epistles focusing on spiritual growth and maturity. Why? Because the first essential component of disciple-making is the regenerative work of the Holy Spirit through the faithful proclamation of the gospel. 

The disciple-making process is not what happens after salvation; it is the very essence and evidence of faithful gospel witness. In other words, evangelism and discipleship are inseparable and are not competitive forces in the church or any model of ministry. All biblical evangelism is aimed at life-change evidenced in a "disciple" and all discipleship is dependent upon faithful gospel proclamation that leads to conversion. 

Disciple-making is not something we do with others for God after their conversion; it begins with God’s gracious work of intervention called salvation. God makes disciples when we go in faith and faithfulness to His command.

The result of gospel-bearing witness is life-changing followship of Jesus Christ.        

2. Formation. This is the most common point of identification within many contemporary discussions of discipleship. It is both personal and intentional in the life of individual Christ-followers and the church. 

No doubt it is "essential" that we give great attention and effort to spiritual formation in the lives of both new and continuing believers as we face and address life in all dimensions with the implications of gospel. 

Formation involves instruction, discipline, relationship, adversity, and more. Yet, this formation is dependent upon the initializing reality of an indwelling enabler, the Holy Spirit, who works to bring a Christ-bearing image in us. 

We encourage, support and surround one another for the purpose of deepening our understanding of gospel truth in life, and we instruct and challenge one another toward greater obedience as is the clear intent of biblical community within the church (Hebrews 10:23-25).

Biblically, spiritual formation is not a random process or an automatic outcome of believing faith. It is challenged through instruction, called out through mortification of the flesh, tested in affliction and commanded in the Great Commission itself: “…teaching them to observe all I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). Who? Those who have been marked in baptism as disciples “in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
3. Mission. In the end, discipleship is not an end in and of itself. It is a SEND! It is a journey of conversion and formation in faith that leads to faithful mission and participation in the disciple-making process.

An "essential" part of biblical discipleship is disciple-making with others. We are evangelists, mentors and missionaries. These are the essentials of any disciple-making strategy. 

Any view or ministry effort that seeks to isolate one component or pit these against one another as competitors within local church ministry misses the mark of “essential discipleship.”

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Shark or Dolphin?

With all the talk in recent days about sharks and the great American tradition of Shark Week, I want to take a little time to think about dolphins. I love the joyful, playful and personable attitudes of these amazing creatures. 

I guess like many of my generation, Flipper splashed his way into my living room and ultimately into my heart through this TV series. 

As an adult, I was blessed for a season of life to serve as a pastor on an inland island in Central Florida. Dolphin sightings became regular occurrences not only offshore, but also in the rivers and estuaries. Dolphins were “friends” I spotted and observed as I went about my daily routines of morning exercise, midday travel and evening sunsets. 

Here are three things I learned and want to pass along to you regarding dolphins and their behavior. 

1. Dolphins are good communicators. From their signature whistle to a variety of clicking and vibration sounds, they are able to interact with each other and even “show off” around humans. 

For you, communication is also an important part of daily life. But how do you communicate and what are you saying to those around you? Are you adding value, offering encouragement and building hope, or are you negative, critical and demeaning? 

The authors of Proverbs as well as the Apostle Paul and James have much to say about words, communication and interaction with others. I especially love this verse:Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear” (Ephesians 4:29 ESV). 

Listening. Thinking. Processing. Expressing. Each of these steps helps you be a better communicator. And I might add, remember to apply this to the actions of your fingertips as much as your tongue. 

2. Dolphins swim in schools. In other words, they live and thrive in community. They care for one another and for others, even humans. Dolphins can actually develop and exude a culture of caring. 

I think this is the striking difference between sharks and dolphins. Sharks are all about their consuming impulses, but dolphins have another quality. "Dolphins are altruistic animals. They are known to stay and help injured individuals, even helping them to the surface to breath. Their compassion also extends across the species-barrier. There are many accounts of dolphins helping humans and even whales." (source

As I read this description, I thought of all the “one another” insights and instructions found throughout the New Testament. Take a quick look, but do more than give this information a casual glance. Take time to look up the Scripture passages and make a list you can carry with you. Consider how you can help to build a culture of care and healthy community with others around you. 

3. Dolphins are curious and playful. They even look like they are smiling.  Sometimes the journey of life can mark you with wrinkles rather than smiles, but  listen. The ocean is big. Storms come. There are many predators. But in and through it all, there is hope found in knowing, loving and serving Jesus Christ. 

Jesus walked across threatening waves and today He speaks, “Peace be still,” amid your storms. 

Don’t let the circumstances of life steal your joy. “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs 17:22 ESV).

I’m curious today. Shark or dolphin? 

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.