Posts by Joe Holland


He makes an axe head float. He creates ex nihilo. He causes the sun to stand still. He can defeat an entire army on his own and cause his enemies to fall dead when he pleases. He brings the dead son of a widow back to life and commanded Lazarus to walk out of a tomb. The sick were healed, the blind received their sight. Our God is a mighty, miracle-working God. But he doesn’t always work that way.


That concept of welcome and invitation is so woven into the implicit expectations of a church that we often lose sight of the theological basis for being a welcoming people toward our siblings in Christ and the non-Christians that visit our churches.


They sit there next to you and their feet don’t even hit the floor. You’re thinking, “What, if anything, of this sermon is sinking into my kid’s head?” And with that little thought you’ve already decided not to engage with your child about the sermon. But it doesn’t have to be that way.


Whenever I’m leading the first few meetings of a small group or discussion group. I like to say, “You all can talk or I can talk. I prefer that you talk but I have no problem filling space with words, after all, I’m a pastor.” We all laugh and after a few people take me up on my challenge, the discussion typically is off and running with little input from this loquacious pastor.


There is this sneaking habit among Evangelicals to dabble with what I call “magic spell” Christianity. In practice, some Christians believe that if they say or write the correct word--like those in our book title engine--then things will actually happen. It is the temptation to avoid the hard work of growth in grace by just saying someone is “gospel-driven.” It is the temptation to avoid working through conflict with a spouse and just claim that the marriage is “christ-centered."