Hobby Lobby And The Fatal Flaws Of Progressivism

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Everyone wants the government off of their door step.

Unless, of course, the government comes calling with big bags of cash in hand.

That’s when the welcome mat gets rolled out.

Today’s Hobby Lobby decision is no exception. Progressives talk a lot about their boss and their government minding their own business and keeping their respective noses out of their bedroom. “My body, my choice,” the progressives tell us.

But as they fight to keep their bedrooms private, they’re also fighting to make sure that what goes on in that bedroom and what consequences may come from those goings on are paid for by, wait for it, their boss! Or, the government! Which is another way of saying, “Get out of my bedroom but leave the cash on the dresser.”

Progressives still haven’t learned that you can’t have it both ways. You can’t have “private” and “fully funded” at the same time. When someone is paying for something, they want to know how things are going. They want to get in there and snoop around. They want to see a return on their investment. They want the right to not fund what they don’t like.

It was true when your parents stopped paying your way through college when you came home one summer break with a 0.42 GPA.

And it’s true of employers with conscience and a backbone.

Remember the days when if you weren’t happy with the insurance package offered by your employer you simply looked for another insurance plan? Or another employer. Now, we’ve come to the point where we run to the president and ask him to fix it. That’s another fatal flaw of the progressives. They forget that when the government tries to fix something not involving bridges and/or bombs, that something usually ends up worse off. (See: War on Drugs. See also: War on Terror. See also: Immigration Reform.)

So now some progressives are threatening to burn down Hobby Lobby stores. Many have taken to social media to lash out in four-letter fashion against the chain of craft stores. All because the owners of the store allowed their conscience to dictate what they did with their own money.

Which points us to another great flaw of progressivism. We’re allowed to say, “My body,”
“My choice,” and “My bedroom.” But in the progressive arena, we’re not allowed to say, “My beliefs,” “My money” or “My business.” Thankfully, the Supreme Court has more authority than the progressive arena. For now, at least.

I don’t want the government at my doorstep. And I don’t want their money. I’d rather them be about the business of protecting my freedom to worship as I choose.

Today, thanks be to God, that happened.

The Week That Was: No American Kings And No Cup For Coulter

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The Middle East

What is there to say, really? It’s all a mess. Gangsters and con-men are running the show. Average citizens are suffering. Even Christians are being singled out to pay extra taxes. Collapse seems certain.

But enough about our country.

Things are even worse in the Middle East where whatever was accomplished while American troops were there seems to be quickly unraveling. And at the core of all of this unraveling is a group of terrorists that just six months ago were called a junior varsity basketball team by President Obama.

To the president’s credit, there are some junior varsity basketball teams in North Carolina that could beat the Atlanta Hawks. I’m sure that’s the angle he was going for.

You’re No King

President Obama got elected by convincing people that he would be a uniter, not a divider. He proved good on that promise Thursday when the Supreme Court unified themselves to unanimously remind the president that he is, well, a president and not a king. They said that the president violated the Constitution in 2012 when he went around the Senate to appoint officials to the National Labor Relations Board.

It is no small task to get nine people to agree on something, especially when those nine people are powerful men and women who come from a wide range of political schools of thought.

Here’s to hoping that the president continues to unite us around the Constitution.

No Cup For Coulter

There’s something else that’s unifying Americans. Soccer. The sport has never really caught on here in the states, at least not to the level of baseball and football. But it is attracting quite a few viewers, thanks to the U.S. Men’s National Team’s good showing in the World Cup. For once, there’s something to cheer about in our country.

Unless your name happens to be Ann Coulter.

She said that the popularity of the sport that is (gasp!) sometimes enjoyed by liberals and that sometimes ends in a tie is evidence of our nation’s “moral decay.”

I beg to differ. There are a lot of places to look for evidence of our moral decay. Soccer isn’t one of them. But we could easily begin our search for said moral decay by taking a look at the people who like to get on TV and yell at other people with whom they disagree.

Critics of soccer say that it’s a silly game where people kick a ball around until the game ends in a tie, leaving nothing settled.

But the same could be said every time we see Ann Coulter on television. When’s the last time you heard someone say, “You know, I was all for raising the debt ceiling until Ann Coulter started screaming at me.”

In conclusion, you don’t have to like soccer. You don’t even have to watch it. Just don’t get upset when a lot of other people are. Even the president watched the U.S. play against Germany on Thursday.

I just wish we knew which team he was cheering for.

Have a great weekend!

In Defense Of The Mission Trip

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If there’s one thing that the Internet is good at, it is the ability to remind us all of how terrible we are.

Take food for example. You want to eat healthy so you make the switch to skim milk and homemade wheat bread. The Internet is there to remind you that you’re pretty much a suicidal moron for coming within two feet of dairy and bread.

What about exercise? You decide to drop a few pounds so you start doing CrossFit. How dare you?! Don’t you know that some guy once pulled his lower tablium muscle while doing CrossFit?

No matter how hard you try, it’s never enough. No alternative is adequate. You are a terrible person.

The latest thing that we’re all doing wrong is the short-term mission trip. If you’ve grown up in church, you know how these things work. A church group goes to a far away location in order to meet some sort of need in hopes of telling others about Jesus. The trips usually last for a week or two.

In the opinion of some, needs are rarely ever met on such trips. Well, except for our need for self-glory, that is. So says, Lauren Kascak and Sayantani Dasgupta in a piece entitled #InstagrammingAfrica: The Narcissism of Global Volunteerism.

“Volunteerism is ultimately about the fulfillment of the volunteers themselves, not necessarily what they bring to the communities they visit.”

To be fair, this is often the case. There are people who go on mission trips just to mark something off of their bucket list or to get a picture taken of them holding an African baby so that they can add some color to their Facebook profile.

But does this justify setting fire to the entire concept of short-term missions? Just because a white volunteer has a picture taken with a black baby at some orphanage?

If so, shouldn’t we also stop preaching sermons, loving our neighbor and moving toward the hurting in our own communities? After all, those are things that can be done from self-centered motives. Am I the only one who has ever hoped that someone was watching while I was doing something spiritual?

The classic theological doctrine of total depravity is not the belief that every human being is a blood thirsty, vile, pervert who is just a moment away from becoming a serial killer. Instead, it teaches us that all that we do, even good things like short-term missions trips, carries the stain of sin. That doesn’t mean that we should stop doing those good things. It just means that we must fight hard against sin and our draw toward self-glory as we do them.

The short-term mission trip is not the problem. The problem is how we look at the short-term mission trip. It’s easy to think that in ten days, we’re going to bring what has never happened in the place that we are visiting – revival, clean water and a new school building. This is rarely the case. When we visit another culture for a week or two in hopes of drastically and fundamentally changing that culture, we are doing it wrong.

Instead, we should be praying for that week in another country to change us as we try to meet whatever needs there may be.

Here’s what I mean.

I’ve led several short-term missions trips. Some have been in this country and a few have been overseas. At some point, during each trip, I’ve heard the following.

“Why aren’t we doing something like this back where we live?”

“I want to go back. For longer. Maybe for good.”

Bingo!

Those kind of phrases are like crack cocaine for pastors. We can never get enough of them. That’s why short-term mission trips are important. They leave the volunteers, those evil imperialists who only care about themselves, with a greater sense of the needs around the world. At the very least, these trips help us to know how to pray and spend our money through the lens of the Great Commission. But in some cases, as I have seen, they leave the volunteer with a thirst for more. He comes back home with a desire to spend the rest of his life in another part of the world and helping others by sharing and demonstrating the gospel.

I am a narcissist. So are you.

But that shouldn’t keep us from whatever task God has put before us.

Some of the greatest acts of generosity I have ever seen happened in my church parking lot. For several years in a row, after our church’s Christmas Eve service, I would walk back to the family car with my mom and sister to find presents waiting for us. One time, someone gave us a car in that church parking lot.

I don’t know the motives behind those acts of grace. Who knows? Maybe there was some narcissism involved on the part of the giver. But I’m sure glad that they didn’t let that stop them from the good that they did.

When it comes to the Internet, you just can’t win. Your clean eating isn’t clean enough. Your new workout plan is too dangerous. Your move to the rough part of town is gentrification, not love. That picture you posted on Facebook of you with a Kenyan pastor standing in front of the school you both helped to build was arrogant and probably contributed to global warming. And on and on and on.

Thankfully, we don’t answer to the Internet. But we do answer to a God who has proven his excellence at taking our sin tainted good works and somehow still using them for his glory and the good of others.

He does it through me regularly as I try to walk the line between narcissism and apathy.

And he has repeatedly done it for me as he delivers his good and perfect gifts to me by the hands of others who are trying to walk that same line.

The Cross, The Couch And That Old Georgia Pine

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Meet in the middle.

Beneath that old Georgia pine.

Those two lines made the country music band Diamond Rio a lot of money in the 90s. The song was about a man and a woman both pulling their share of the weight in their relationship. The part about the Georgia pine was added because there’s a federal law stating that all country music songs must say something about Georgia.

Meeting in the middle might make for a pretty good song but it’s a terrible approach to marriage.

People get bent all out of shape when the Bible says things about men being the leaders in the home (Ephesians 5:22-27; Colossians 3:18). They conjure up images of lazy, even violent men laying on the couch and guzzling beer while their wives quietly bring them another plate of fish sticks and tater tots.

Nothing could be further from the Bible’s picture of a husband’s leadership. A husband who loves and leads like Jesus will be more interested in serving than being served. He won’t be content with doing his half and waiting in the middle while his wife pulls her fair share.

He’ll be a lot like another man who I used to see sitting on the couch a lot.

He wasn’t sitting there alone. His wife was next to him. He was alert and engaged. She usually seemed disinterested. He was well-dressed. Her clothes were sloppy and stained. And at the end of each day’s visit, the man would get up from that couch and go back to his home. Alone. The woman would stay at the nursing home.

That man waved goodbye to meeting in the middle a long time ago.

And the man who loves his wife enough to lead her will follow that example.

He’ll get out of bed to check on the screaming baby, even though it’s not his turn.

He’ll pray for God’s wisdom to guide him through each day’s tough decisions, especially the ones that he wishes he didn’t have to make.

He’ll embrace those decisions with confidence, rather than leaving all of the heavy lifting to his wife.

And he’ll accept responsibility when his plan turned out to not be the right one.

In the same passage that tells wives to submit to their husbands, men are told to love their wives, “as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Christ did not demonstrate his love for the church by doing his part and waiting on us to do ours. Instead, “while we were still sinners” (Romans 5:8) he went all of the way. Way beyond meeting in the middle. He gave himself. Even to the point of death. Death on a cross.

And the man who loves his wife enough to lead her will follow that example.

Husbands, maybe our marriages would start to look a little better if we stopped impatiently waiting in the middle, beneath that old Georgia pine, for our wives to finally do their half. What if we started to actually follow the example of Jesus?

We would do well to follow the example of a man who hung on a cross in the place of his bride to take on the full wrath of God.

And the example of a man sitting on a couch in a nursing home.

World Cup Soccer Dad

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Growing up, I always assumed that soccer was for rich kids who rode around on golf carts with sweaters tied around their necks.

I started to second guess that assumption several years ago when I played a game of soccer in another country with a bunch of barefoot kids who used intricately wrapped banana leaves for a ball. I completely abandoned my assumption when my own sons started to play soccer.

There’s this book at the grocery store. It’s a sticker book. It has a couple of pages devoted to each team in the World Cup with places for you to put stickers over each player’s name. I bought one for my son. It turned out to be, up until now, the crowning achievement of my reign as father of two sons. They love that book.

We’ve watched some or all of almost every game played in the World Cup. My sons and I are learning the game together. It’s completely different from the football and basketball that I grew up underachieving at as a player but excelling at as a viewer. Their questions were numerous. My answers, not so much.

When my sons asked what offsides was, I had no clue what to tell them. I think I said something about rich kids on golf carts.

But we kept on watching. Every game, we had someone to cheer for. Our reasons never made sense but they were our reasons. We cheered for Ecuador because of Jim Elliot. We cheered against Russia because of Drago. They were our reasons.

The game was relaxing to watch. Maybe it’s because I’m a new fan. Maybe it’s because I still don’t really understand what’s happening. Most likely it’s because if the team I’m cheering for loses, I don’t have to worry about what some Auburn fan is going to say to me the next morning.

More than anything, we cheered for the U.S. team. We all knew going in that the U.S. didn’t really have a chance. Kids who grow up driving golf carts will always lose to kids who grow up playing soccer with banana leaves. Always. Even I knew that much. And I made sure to make that fact known to my sons so as to soften the blow when the inevitable U.S. elimination finally happened.

And then the U.S. won their first game. Sorry, match. They won their first match. It was one that they weren’t supposed to win. It was against a team that has a history of making life miserable for the U.S. Man, it was so much fun to see my kids get quiet during the national anthem, raise their hands in the air on a goal and scream when the U.S. won. There hasn’t been a lot to cheer about in our country lately. We’ll take what we can get.

Before the next U.S. match, a very tough Germany team would tie Ghana, the same team that we had beaten. Maybe things were coming together. Maybe I was the missing piece in the U.S. Men’s Soccer machine. All of this time, all they needed was me as a fan. Maybe this, unlike every other sport that I follow with my sons, would be the one that would finally let us know what it feels like to win it all.

Then came the second game for the U.S. Sorry. Match. It was against Portugal and it went down to the final seconds. Apparently, this doesn’t happen in soccer. Matches aren’t usually decided in the final seconds.

That was before I jumped on the bandwagon.

When I was my son’s age, Dan Marino beat the Georgia Bulldogs with a late touchdown pass in the Sugar Bowl. I don’t remember a lot about the game but I do remember running to bedroom to cry.

Two years ago, the Bulldogs came two yards short of making it to the BCS title game. When the game was over, my son cried. I thought about crying.

Last year, Auburn beat Georgia on a last second desperation pass that was thrown by a former Georgia player who was kicked off of the team for being a ne’er-do-well. None of us cried. We just gazed off into space. I think I said something about Auburn players and golf carts.

And on Sunday night, in a sport that I was still learning but desperately hoping would be different from all of the other sports that I’ve watched, the U.S. fell just short of a victory that would have guaranteed them a spot in the next round.

I went to bed that night with an emptiness in my soul. I know that it shouldn’t be that way but it was. I woke up the next morning hoping that it was all a dream or that somebody on the other team cheated and officials decided to give the game to the U.S. It was just like I was a kid again. And just like when I was a kid, there was no dream. No reversal.

I thought about that game all morning long. It was really starting to get to me. If I was taking it this hard, my sons must be devastated. I decided that a joke would make things better. I told my son to rip the Portugal page out of his sticker book and burn it. Well, it was sort of a joke. He laughed.

I asked him if he thought that the U.S. could win Thursday’s game against Germany and advance to the next round.

He seemed pretty positive but I was still worried about how he was taking the loss.

I asked if he was upset about the game.

He laughed again.

“A little, I guess. But not near as bad as you.”

It’s funny how the bandwagons you jump on for your kid’s sake so easily become your own.

Sports has a way of breaking our hearts. But it also has a way of making us stronger. It builds bonds that might not otherwise exist. I’m not sure who’s going to win the World Cup. I’m still hoping for the U.S. The odds aren’t in our favor. But that’s okay. Years from now, we’ll all have to think for a few minutes to try to remember who won the 2014 World Cup.

But the sticker book will not be forgotten.

And we won’t forget the nights we all spent in the living room eating ice cream, yelling at players whose names we couldn’t pronounce and trying not to cry when things didn’t go our way.

At our best, win or lose, that’s what we can take away from any sport.

Memories.

The losses are painful. The wins are joyous.

But, when we’re all together, the memories are always good.

The Week That Was: Obama, Mascot Changes And Vacation Bible School

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No Shred Of Evidence In The IRS Scandal

Here’s what we know. The IRS targeted specific groups who were considered unfriendly to the Obama administration. Here’s what we don’t know. What did Lois Lerner and other IRS officials write to one another in e-mails? And we likely never will. That’s because the hard drives of all the computers used in this conspiracy were “recycled.”

Don’t you love how the government uses nice, friendly words to describe their corruption? We didn’t destroy e-mails. We recycled them! There’s no corruption here! Just us going green. Hooray for recycling!

Next year, I’m trying this one out.

“Mr. Sanders, it appears that you failed to turn your taxes in by the proper time.”

“It’s not that I failed to turn them in. It’s just that I recycled them. They’re in tiny pieces over there in the blue bin with the progressive looking triangle on the side of it.”

If there’s one thing that we’ve learned from our government it’s that you can’t argue with environmental friendliness. I’m going to save thousands next year!

The Truth About The Obama Presidency

The middle east is a bigger disaster than it ever has been. Our own border is no longer a border. There’s a new scandal from the White House every week. Just one of those scandals would have been enough to sink any other president. Obama has ten of them and somehow manages to survive.

The events in and involving our nation should lead any unbiased observer to conclude that our president is guilty of either gross incompetence or high crimes and misdemeanors. Here’s the scary part. Obama is far too intelligent to be guilty of this level of gross incompetence.

Federal Government Steals The Redskins 

It looks like the Washington Redskins are going to have to change their name. If I were Daniel Snyder, the team’s owner, I’d voluntarily change the team mascot to something more in line with the city that the team represents. Maybe the Washington Purposeful Losers of Self-Indicting E-mails. Or how about the Washington Patriot Haters? The Washington Scandalz? We could even put a picture of Harry Reid wearing an eye patch on the side of their newly improved, concussion proof, environmentally friendly helmets. Look out, Raiders!

Sadly, we’ll never see the team switch to names like that. Most likely the president will issue an executive order mandating that we all start calling the Redskins something like the One Worlders, The Globalists, The Banksters or The Unity.

It’s not hard to imagine the Washington Redskins becoming the Washington Unity.

But all this will do is make us get the Washington professional football team mixed up with the Washington professional women’s basketball team. Actually, that probably already happens more than the Redskins care to admit.

I do like the idea of teams having names that match their identity. I can’t remember the last time I saw a Royal in Kansas City. Or a Red in Cincinnati. What am I even supposed to be looking for? It’s all so confusing. My new team names won’t be any less offensive but they will help to keep things in order for the frustrated sports fan.

Here are a few examples.

Major League Baseball

The Atlanta We Will Build A New Stadium And You Will Like It And Pay For It, People of Marietta

The New York Yankees Are My Favorite Team Even Though I’ve Never Been Within a 200 Mile Radius of New York City

The Cleveland Mathematically Eliminated From Playoff Contention An Hour Or So After Opening Day

NBA

The Miami I Bet You Won’t Be Wearing Our Jersey After We Let Lebron Go

NFL

The Dallas If It Wasn’t For Us ESPN Wouldn’t Have Anything To Talk About

The Atlanta Our City Has More Apartment Fires, Standardized Test Cheating Scandals And Night Club Shootings Than Your City (With The Exception Of Memphis)

College Football

The Florida State We Weren’t Aware That Grand Theft And Assault Were Illegal In This State

The Auburn We’re Glad That Grand Theft And Assault Are Illegal At The University of Georgia. Where Else Would We Get Our Quarterbacks From?

That one rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?

If you happen to be the proud owner of a Washington Redskins shirt or jacket, hang on to it. It’s going to be worth something in another year or so. Just don’t get caught with it or you might get shipped off to a reeducation center in Cuba where you’ll be forced to cheer for the Guantanamo Bay Terrorist Traders.

On second thought, maybe you should just recycle all of your Redskins gear.

Vacation Bible School

On Thursday night I taught three children’s Bible classes at Vacation Bible School. By the time I was done I felt like I had fought in a 15-round fight and directed traffic on 285 in Atlanta. At the same time.

I won’t go so far as to call it impossible but it was tough.

Which gives me an idea.

We should find a way to make Lois Lerner teach Vacation Bible School non-stop until she turns over her incriminating e-mails. My guess is that we’d have all the answers we needed within a week.

But that kind of punishment would be cruel and unusual.

To the children at Vacation Bible School.

Questions My Grandfather Never Had To Answer

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The guy on TV looked like a man.

But he talked like a woman.

Why?

I’m pretty sure that my grandfather never got that question from one of his sons.

I did.

Our culture is currently falling all over itself to convince us that it is perfectly normal for a man to act like a woman, a man to marry another man, two women to raise a child together, so on and so forth. A lot of the dirty work in the battle to normalize gender confusion is done through the entertainment industry. That’s why ESPN makes a big deal about a late round pick in the NFL Draft. It’s why many shows feature gay characters. And it’s why the man in one of the commercials that comes on during your kid’s favorite television show likes to act like a woman.

If you grow up seeing something every day while being told that it’s normal you’ll eventually believe that it is. That seems to be the strategy these days at least. And it seems to be working. Sometimes it can even be intimidating when a parent considers the world kids are growing up in and being influenced by. Can we really expect Romans 1 to compete with the media and the government?

Yes.

But it can’t just be a passage that we reference in a political conversation. It, along with the rest of Scripture, has to be something that parents live out before their children. It’s not enough for our kids to hear us talk about what manhood is not. We have to show them what it is.

When a man works hard to provide for and serve his wife and kids, the ridiculous examples of manhood we see demonstrated in television and film will seem foolish.

A church where men boldly serve, pray and sing in public will be the training center in which our children learn to discern what true manhood really is.

Something just won’t seem right about gay marriage in our kid’s eyes when they’ve grown up with a mom and a dad who take the gospel seriously and apply it to their own marriage.

And when a dad is actively engaged first in the pursuit of his God, then in the pursuit of his wife and finally in the training up of his kids, his words will carry much more weight in the household that he leads. If all we ever do is simply point out what is wrong in our culture, our voice will be just one among many that our kids hear. But if we actually make the effort to live out what we preach, showing consistent examples of true manhood and womanhood, our message just might stick.

I still remember the first time that I saw two men holding hands. One of them had a ribbon in his hair. I had no idea what to think. My mom could see my confusion but she didn’t say much. Just don’t stare. Keep moving.

Those days are gone.

We can no longer get away with avoiding tough topics like this one with our kids. It’s been said that nature abhors a vacuum. The hearts and minds of our children are no exception. If we aren’t busy speaking truth to them, we can be sure that someone else with plenty of lies to sell will quickly take our place.

At some point, every parent will have to answer a question similar to the one that my kid asked me. We must be ready, at all times, to give them the answers they are looking for.

But our words can only go so far. Simply hearing what we are against is never enough.

Our kids need to actually see our pursuit of Truth.

And as they grow older, we pray that the pursuit of truth will just seem normal to them.

Even in a world where normal is no longer tolerated.

Big News For Small Time Pastors

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You are not the head coach of the Cleveland Browns. God is not mad at you. You are not stuck in ministry purgatory, waiting for God to move you to the big city where real ministry is done. You are the pastor of a small church in a small town and you are right where God wants you to be.

You may not know it yet but you are being used by God. He is doing great things through you. But that can be hard to see when you preach to 60 people every Sunday morning. Questions about your effectiveness can linger a little longer when your last three sermon series haven’t yet been turned into books.

But hang in there. God’s glory isn’t dependent upon how many TV cameras are in your church, how many satellite campuses you have to be driven to on Sunday mornings or how many Twitter followers you have. God’s glory isn’t dependent upon you at all. But still, it would be nice to be a part of making that glory known. Don’t worry. You are. Just stay faithful. As you do, here are a few things to remember.

1. Watch your Bible Belt assumptions.

I live in a small southern town. More than once I’ve heard it referred to as “the buckle of the Bible belt.” There are churches on every corner. Ask someone if they’re saved and you will usually get the same answer.

“Yes.”

Your town is probably a lot like mine. But don’t let that fool you. A while back a lady in my church was telling another woman about Jesus. The lady’s response to the name of Jesus was unforgettable.

“Who?”

I talked to another woman who leads Bible studies for young single mothers. She said that one mother told her that this was the first time she had ever held a Bible.

Call it the buckle of the Bible Belt all you want. Just remember that as times change, that buckle is getting smaller and smaller.

That’s part of why God has placed you where he has. People in your town, even the ones who grew up hearing about Jesus, need the gospel.

2. Rethink missional.

For some, missional means sitting at the popular table in our culture’s lunch room. It means sipping coffee inside of a trendy bistro while examining the finer points of theology with a couple of the writers of Lost. And that’s great. If you live in New York or L.A. But not if you live in Booger Bottom, Georgia. Yes, that’s a real town.

Missional in places like Booger Bottom means turkey hunting, getting to know the lady in charge of the housing authority and drinking your coffee at the Huddle House. Or Dairy Queen. Or Dari King. Yes, that’s real too.

A lot of our talk about moving toward people in need is just cover for our real intentions of moving to places where we would just really like to live to be with people who we really wish we were more like. That’s not always the case. But sometimes it is.

The teenager in the trailer park who is forced to play dad for his three younger brothers needs Jesus. Your coolness factor can’t save him. Neither can your ability to be relevant. But, if you’re obedient, you just might be one of the instruments God uses to bring salvation to this kid and his family.

If God wanted your favorite celebrity pastor to reach the people in your town, he would move him there. But he hasn’t. So stop trying to be him. Start trying to be a little more like the people who actually live around you.

3. Cut the grass.

Ministry is not like building a house. After two or three months of hard work, you don’t always get to see the fruits of your labor. Sometimes you never do. And that can be discouraging. So get a nice lawn mower and enjoy the instant gratification that comes with cutting the grass.

The grass was tall. Now it’s not. You did that. Congratulations!

4. Sit a spell.

One of the great things about the south is our unusual sayings. When I was a kid and supper was almost ready my mom would always say, “I’m fixin’ to take it up.” I have no idea what that means.

“Sit a spell” is another classic southern phrase but it actually has a discernible meaning. It means to sit down and stay a while. Don’t be in a hurry to leave.

That’s good advice for pastors.

Most people drive through your small town on their way to some place better. They’re just passing through. May the same not be said of you. God may move you somewhere else tomorrow. But for now, try to keep the mindset that this is the place where you’re going to spend the rest of your life.

Don’t be in a hurry to leave.

Sit a spell.

5. Just say no.

That advice turned out to not be very helpful in regards to our nation’s drug problem. But it can help you, your family and your church.

Although your town is small, your opportunities will be big. You can be the chaplain for the police and the high school football team. You can be the guy waiting at the emergency room for that sick church member to arrive. You can leave your vacations early to put out a fire back home.

And a lot of your people will love you for it.

Just don’t count your wife and kids as part of that adoring group.

If you really care about them, and raising up leaders from your congregation, learn how to say no.

A professional wrestler once told me, “Jesus died for the church. You don’t have to.”

But you will unless you learn to say no.

6. Point your church to their real pastor.

It is very easy for a pastor, especially one in a small southern town who manages to stick around for a while, to build his own kingdom. After a certain amount of funerals, weddings and last minute crisis counseling sessions there will be a lot of people who believe that you must be one of the twelve disciples. Some will even be tempted to think that you are the one who led the twelve disciples. And you’ll be tempted to fuel those beliefs.

Make sure that your church knows the truth. Remind them that you are their associate pastor and that Jesus is the one who is in charge (Colossians 1:18). Share your flaws with them. Tell them when you struggle. Ask them to pray for you in areas where you are weak.

Your church needs an example of a flawed man who experiences victory through greater reliance upon the Holy Spirit. You can be that example.

Your church already has a Savior who leads them. They don’t need two. Is all of your hard work being done to build Jesus’ kingdom or yours?

Rest assured, the people that you pastor will find out that you are not Jesus and that your kingdom isn’t so great. They can either find out through your constant, loving confessions or they can find out in the paper.

The degree to which you do battle with your pride will determine how they find out.

Pastor, there is real pain in your small town. People are lost. They are confused. They are hurting. No amount of semi-functional church buildings on every corner or memories of religious traditions can do anything about that. Only the gospel can. And God has ordained that you would be the one to proclaim it to the people in your town.

You may never enjoy all of the success that comes with being a big time pastor.

And that’s okay.

It’s much better to be faithful in Booger Bottom than successful anywhere else.

Hang in there.