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April 11, 2024
Last week, I celebrated my 40th birthday. One look at me and you might think I am someone who repeatedly celebrates 39th birthdays. No, I was celebrating the day 40 years ago when I was, in Jesus’ words, born again.
April 4, 2024
A few weeks ago, as I was preparing worship services and sermons this past Holy Week, my mind went back four years ago to when the coronavirus came to visit, the year the unthinkable happened.
March 28, 2024
There is an unwritten rule in Christianity requiring men’s prayer meetings to be scheduled for O-dark-thirty. No problem, I am one of those annoying “morning people” who wake up before their alarm goes off, bright and cheery, ready to meet the day. So, in my present role as lead pastor at COMPASS Church, I scheduled our weekly leadership prayer meetings for 6:30 am.
March 21, 2024
The note addressed to my wife was curt and accusatory, castigating her for an oversight that was unimaginable in its ramifications – it appeared that we had run out of peanut butter. The judge was my oldest brother; he and his wife were visiting us from Venezuela. “No Bannon household should ever be without peanut butter,” he chided. It was a Sunday morning; my wife and I had left early for a morning full of ministry responsibilities at church. My brother and his wife were having a late breakfast and had promised to join us for the last worship service of the morning. His breakfast plan? Toast with peanut butter, but after searching every shelf in the pantry and every cupboard in the kitchen, there was no peanut butter in sight. It was in the refrigerator.
March 14, 2024
I come from a very large family – nine kids – and the mealtime rule in our house was you ate what was put before you. If you refused to eat it, well, you didn’t eat. If one of us asked for something else to eat, my mother’s stock answer was, “What do you think this is, kid, a restaurant?”
March 7, 2024
It is Wednesday evening and I realize that I have not written a column for the coming week. It seems I have a poor memory. Admittedly, I am getting older, and some forgetfulness is to be expected, but the forgetfulness that is troublesome to me has less to do with my age and more to do with my faith. I forget what God has done in the past, what he assures for the future, and his faithfulness in the present, and so I worry.
February 29, 2024
“What you win them with,” a seasoned pastor once advised, “is what you win them to. If it is hotdogs, clowns and balloons, you will have to keep the grill going and the clowns on retainer, because the moment you stop, people will leave.” By God’s grace, the church I was serving at the time was growing rapidly, and we who were on the pastoral staff had a healthy sense of inadequacy, so we sought the counsel of pastors of larger churches. That seasoned pastor was not at all suggesting that we hire clowns and start grilling hotdogs, his was a word of caution. Years later, I learned that his advice was not original, but a piece of wisdom shared by discerning pastors.
February 22, 2024
I just finished reading in Genesis about Joseph and his grace toward his brothers, who had sold him into slavery. God sovereignly raised him from slave to second in authority in Egypt to ready it for a famine; Joseph invited his family to join him. His father, Jacob, near death, made him promise not to bury him in Egypt. He directed Joseph to do something strange: Joseph was to place his hand under Jacob’s thigh, then give his promise.
February 16, 2024
I am forever losing things – keys, wallets, shoes – you name it, I can lose it. So prone am I to losing things that one year for Christmas, my wife bought me a chip that attached to my key fob that would show the location of my keys on a map on my smartphone. Great idea, but I lose things at home and the mapping feature was not that precise.
February 8, 2024
There is an old news story that has been imprinted on my mind since I was a 4-year-old child. In July of 1960, a 7-year-old boy named Roger Woodward was swept over the edge of Niagara Falls and dropped nearly 200 feet into the roiling waters below. He survived.
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