Where is God when Bad Things Happen? 

by Winfield Bevins.

With the rise of persecution against Christians in the Middle East, we are reminded that we live in a world full of pain and suffering. In the midst of a bad economy, natural disasters, and the growing risk of international terrorism people are seeking real answers to tough questions. Many people feel alone and unable to handle the many problems that can come their way on a daily basis.

As a pastor, I am often asked questions like, “Where is God when bad things happen?” or “Why do bad things happen to good people?” These are real and legitimate questions to ask. Another question is, “Does the Bible have real answers to real problems?” The answer is yes, although they are not always easy. Therefore it is important that we have a Biblical understanding of suffering and pain to comfort people who are hurting.  Continue reading


The Lord’s Prayer

By Winfield BevinsA continuing series on prayer. Click here to view the rest of these reflections. 

“While we ordinarily first bring our own needs to God in prayer, and then think of what belongs to God and his interests, the Master reverses the order. First Thy name, Thy kingdom, Thy will; then give us, forgive us, lead us, deliver us… In true worship the Father must be first, must be all.” -Andrew Murray

When the apostles said to Jesus, “Lord teach how to pray” It was because they knew that he was a man of profound devotion and prayer. They walked with him and talked with him, but perhaps more importantly for our study they saw that he was a true man of prayer. The gospels tell us that Jesus prayed at every major event in His life: His baptism (Luke 3:21); the choice of apostles (6:12-12); his transfiguration (9:29); before the cross at Gethsemane (22:39-40); and on the cross (23:46). The Bible tells us that He continues in prayer for us. Hebrews 7:27 says, “He always lives to make intercessions for them.” He sets the example for us to follow. Meditate on the following scriptures that talk about His personal prayer life. Continue reading

'Motion' by Miguel Correia; Creative Commons 2.0 via Flickr

What’s the Hurry?

by Jack King

Image courtesy of Aliax Rex via Flickr; Creative Commons 2.0

Image courtesy of Aliax Rex via Flickr; Creative Commons 2.0

Last week I turned 36, so I’m fully entrenched in my mid-30s, tilting toward my late-30s. With my fortieth birthday not far way, I’m looking at patterns, some I wish to establish and some I want to lose. Without question, the pattern I most want to break is the pervasive pattern of hurry in my life. For over a year now, these words from Dallas Willard have been my meditation: ‘Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.’

These now infamous words that Willard spoke to his lifelong friend, John Ortberg, have been quoted often in the past several years. And for good reason. We know there’s a serious problem with the pace of our lives. We like the idea of eliminating hurry from our lives because of the chronic tiredness and exhaustion we feel. But few people have translated this good idea into action. Continue reading


Keys to Personal Prayer

By Winfield BevinsA continuing series on prayer. Click here to view the rest of these reflections. 


Every believer can have a dynamic personal prayer life. The Bible gives us the keys that we need to develop a powerful prayer life. The Scriptures are full of examples of men and women who walked with God and used prayer to impact their world and you can do the same thing through prayer. The following are Scriptural ways that you can develop a deeper more fulfilling personal prayer life. Continue reading


Four Things Before You Pray…

By Winfield BevinsA continuing series on prayer. Click here to view the rest of these reflections. 

Before praying, there are four things that we should take into consideration.

  1. First, schedule a regular prayer time. Find a time everyday to spend in prayer. The important thing is that we should be consistent. The psalmist said that he prayed seven times a day.
  2. Second, choose a private place to pray. A prayer closet could be anywhere as long as it is private. You can use your garage, pantry, front porch, or any other creative place where you can get alone with God. Some people pray while driving in their car and others pray while working-out or running.
  3. Third, try to limit distractions. Don’t pray in the same room that you may watch television or be tempted by other activities.
  4. Lastly, have a prayer list to guide your prayers that includes family, friends, church, etc.  This will ensure that you don’t forget important things to pray for.

winfield_bevinsDr. Winfield Bevins is founding rector of Church of the Outer Banks and Canon for Church Planting for the Diocese of the Carolinas. He is the author of several books, including Our Common Prayer and Creed. 


The Ice-Bucket Challenged Pastor

by David Roseberry.

I just took the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. A young student in our church called me, and a few others on staff, out on Facebook. We endured the wet, icy, baptism today.

ice-bucket-challenge-fb-user-profile-2The Ice Bucket Challenge is a funny, creative, summer-minded attempt to raise money and awareness for the terrible Lou Gehrig’s disease, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). If you know of anyone who has suffered this, you know the horror it can be. There is significant research being done in many areas. Our drenched team (there were three of us who were challenged) is donating money to John Paul II Medical Research Institute, the Home of Give Cures.  And by any measure of counting, the effort to get money for research and raise public awareness of this dreaded disease has exceeded everyone’s expectations.

Walking away from the soaking, I began to think about this in a wider frame of reference. I thought about the summer horrors in the Ukraine, the Middle East, in Ferguson, and the evil spread by ISIS in its barbarous inhumanity. I thought about the very few people I have known or known of who have suffered ALS. And for a few minutes, I wondered if I had trivialized the seriousness of what people face in their lives. I didn’t mean to discount their pain, but I wondered if I had. Continue reading


What is Prayer?

By Winfield BevinsA continuing series on prayer. Click here to view the rest of these reflections. 

Prayer has always been God’s way of communicating with His people. In every age men and women have talked with God in prayer. It is the primary way that we build a relationship with God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is the greatest of all the spiritual disciplines because is brings us into direct communion with the Lord.

The second question is similar, “What does prayer do?” Prayer doesn’t change God; prayer changes us. C.S. Lewis said “I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.” Through prayer we are changed and transformed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ. To pray means that we must be open and willing to change. We are changed as we gain a greater awareness of Christ and learn what His will is for our lives. Continue reading


The Pastor’s Personal Life: Ordained Ministry Q&A

by Thomas McKenzie with Tish Harrison Warren.

This series is an ongoing Q&A between about ordained ministry.  The introduction is here.  Here is a link to all of the series as it rolls out.

Tish Warren: Should a pastor talk about his/her financial life or sex life or marital struggles publicly ever?

familywalkThomas McKenzie: I think you can talk about struggles, but you should be fairly general. I think it’s OK to tweet “my transmission went out, and the $ is stressing me out!” That is fair, that is human. It isn’t fair to get up on Sunday and say “hey church, I could really use help with my car, anyone want to send in a love offering?”  Sex? Even more so. “I love my wife and we have a great relationship” or “my husband and I sometimes struggle to make sure our needs are met” are good, human, general statements. Specific sex statements? No way. That’s just inappropriate for anyone to do in public.

Pastoral leadership requires weakness. Real weakness, including the confession of real sin. However, pastoral leadership does not ask the congregation or the public to care for your deepest emotional hurts. The congregation is not your friend or your therapist. It can be a weird line to walk, and you’ll probably screw it up. That’s OK.

Tish Warren: I’ve heard from some clergy say that you can’t or shouldn’t be close friends with parishioners. Do you agree with this? Why or why not?

Thomas McKenzie: My three best friends go to our church. However, they became my friends first, we were friends for years, and then they started coming to our church. So far, it has worked out very well. On the other hand, my wife and I lost a friendship with a couple that was very close to us. This couple was part of our church, and I think that church issues fed the breakdown. Continue reading