0 Lord’s Day Meditation

How happy are tried Christians, afterwards. No calm more deep than that which succeeds a storm. Who has not rejoiced in clear shinings after rain? Victorious banquets are for well-exercised soldiers. After killing the lion we eat the honey; after climbing the Hill Difficulty, we sit down in the arbour to rest; after traversing the Valley of Humiliation, after fighting with Apollyon, the shining one appears, with the healing branch from the tree of life. Read more

Lord's Day Meditations
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I hear the sound, the rustling, and the chatter of many babes, toddlers, and young children. That is a sweet sound. They are welcome here. That noise is not an interruption to our gathering; it is a contribution to it. Moms, don’t feel the need to run out. They are welcome to be a part. Perhaps some of them, even as babes, are astounded to see their father or mother actually graduating. We would hate to deprive them of the memory today holds.

This morning, I want to bring you a somewhat brief, but direct sermon,from Acts Chapter 4, verses 1-22. If you have a Bible in proximity to you or on your phone, I encourage you to follow along. The title of the sermon, taken from this passage, is simply “We Cannot Stop Speaking.” I bring it as a charge to our graduates today, a sermonic charge that I pray will be instructive for a lifetime of faithful ministry to our Lord Jesus Christ. As I was reading this passage, I was thinking about today and reflecting upon what it means to stop speaking or to not stop speaking. Read more

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Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Only Be Thou Strong and Very Courageous” by C. H. Spurgeon

Our God’s tender love for his servants makes him concerned for the state of their inward feelings. He desires them to be of good courage. Some esteem it a small thing for a believer to be vexed with doubts and fears, but God thinks not so. From this text it is plain that our Master would not have us entangled with fears. He would have us without carefulness, without doubt, without cowardice. Read more

Blog Post

The Promise and Peril of Online Theological Education

No single factor has changed higher education more over the past two decades than the advent of the Internet. The online revolution has affected most every form of higher learning, including theological education.

Some educational purists lament the disruption that online education has brought, as well as the transition of theological education from solely residential to online and modular formats. Nevertheless, the genie is out of the bottle, and online education brings both promise and potential peril to 21st century seminarians. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Shall a Man Make Gods Unto Himself?” by C. H. Spurgeon

One great besetting sin of ancient Israel was idolatry, and the spiritual Israel are vexed with a tendency to the same folly. Remphan’s star shines no longer, and the women weep no more for Tammuz, but Mammon still intrudes his golden calf, and the shrines of pride are not forsaken. Self in various forms struggles to subdue the chosen ones under its dominion, and the flesh sets up its altars wherever it can find space for them. Favourite children are often the cause of much sin in believers; the Lord is grieved when he sees us doting upon them above measure; they will live to be as great a curse to us as Absalom was to David, or they will be taken from us to leave our homes desolate. Read more

On Books, Old and New

The Prodigal Church

When, in late 2014, I received an endorsement request for Jared Wilson’s The Prodigal Church, my initial reaction was to wince. But after I got to know the manuscript—and the author—my visceral concern was displaced by appreciation for the author and his message.

At first, the title led me to think this book was just another screed against the 21st century church. I winced,not because the 21st century church doesn’t have much worth criticizing; I winced because the church has too many professional critics. Any cynic can criticize the church, and too many cynics do. Read more

Blog Post

On Sprinkling Infants, Baptizing Children, and Recovering Regenerate Church Membership

Associated Baptist Press recently reported that Rodney Kennedy, pastor of First Baptist Church in Dayton, Ohio, sprinkled an infant. The event was newsworthy because, by definition, a Baptist church does not baptize infants. To practice the latter is to forfeit being the former. Or at least it used to.

While I have been blessed by the writings of many who practice pedobaptism, as one who is wholeheartedly Baptist, sprinkling infants—especially in erstwhile Baptist congregations—concerns me. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Thou Art My Hope in the Day of Evil” by C. H. Spurgeon

The path of the Christian is not always bright with sunshine; he has his seasons of darkness and of storm. True, it is written in God’s Word, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace;” and it is a great truth, that religion is calculated to give a man happiness below as well as bliss above; but experience tells us that if the course of the just be “As the shining light that shineth more and more unto the perfect day,” yet sometimes that light is eclipsed. Read more

Blog Post

Life Together

Seventy years ago this month, on April 9th, 1945, Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced the gallows. As an anti-Nazi dissident, the Gestapo had arrested him the prior year for his outspoken criticism of Hitler, and penultimately for his complicity in a plot to assassinate the Fuhrer. Bonhoeffer died a martyr, one put to death for his Christian testimony.

Seventy years later, Bonhoeffer’s most lasting work is The Cost of Discipleship. But his lesser known, Life Together, remains a classic on Christian community. Whether it is a family, church, seminary, or other Christian entity, Life Together instructs us how to fashion and live together as Christians in community. Read more

Blog Post

Preacher: Ask Yourself These 7 Questions Before Preaching Your Next Sermon

Checklists can be helpful for most every area of life. For example, before traveling I always review a mental list to make sure I’ve appropriately packed and have my logistical bases covered.

Over the years, I’ve also developed a mental checklist that I typically ask of every sermon before I preach it. Like traveling, this checklist is important because in the rush of getting out the door, I can overlook an essential element to the preaching process if I don’t intentionally pause and reflect upon the task at hand. These seven questions help me do just that.
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Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “That Through Death He Might Destroy Him That Had the Power of Death”
 by C. H. Spurgeon

O child of God, death hath lost its sting, because the devil’s power over it is destroyed. Then cease to fear dying. Ask grace from God the Holy Ghost, that by an intimate knowledge and a firm belief of thy Redeemer’s death, thou mayst be strengthened for that dread hour. Living near the cross of Calvary thou mayst think of death with pleasure, and welcome it when it comes with intense delight. Read more

Blog Post

When I First Confronted Religious Pluralism

There I was, seated on a stool in a dark, mildew-encrusted locker room receiving theological instruction from another stool-seated gentleman many, many years my senior. This elderly gentleman was a recruiter for the college’s basketball team. He supposed I might be reluctant to sign with his college since I was a Southern Baptist, especially since the college was theologically far to the left. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Thy Gentleness Hath Made Me Great” by C. H. Spurgeon

The words are capable of being translated, “thy goodness hath made me great.” David gratefully ascribed all his greatness not to his own goodness, but the goodness of God. “Thy providence,” is another reading; and providence is nothing more than goodness in action. Goodness is the bud of which providence is the flower, or goodness is the seed of which providence is the harvest. Read more

Blog Post

Why I’m Committed to Expository Preaching (III)

Preaching is an art and a science. One’s personality, gifting, training, ministry context, and countless other variables comprise the art of homiletics. The science of preaching is far more objective, theological, and certain. While the art of preaching can vary widely, the science of preaching is far more fixed, and should be far more settled. And, as I have argued, it should be settled in a commitment to preach the Word, a commitment to expository preaching. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “The Place Which is Called Calvary” by C. H. Spurgeon

The hill of comfort is the hill of Calvary; the house of consolation is built with the wood of the cross; the temple of heavenly blessing is founded upon the riven rock–riven by the spear which pierced his side. No scene in sacred history ever gladdens the soul like Calvary’s tragedy. Light springs from the midday-midnight of Golgotha, and every herb of the field blooms sweetly beneath the shadow of the once accursed tree. In that place of thirst, grace hath dug a fountain which ever gusheth with waters pure as crystal, each drop capable of alleviating the woes of mankind. Read more

Video

Preach the Word: Four Marks of Faithful Preaching

This morning I am going to read II Timothy chapter three, verses one through five. Paul writes, beginning in verse one:

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

“Preach The Word.” This exhortation is situated front and center in these five verses and front and center in this book. It comes with added momentum since we’ve looked at chapter three. There is a contrast of the difficult times which will come and which are upon us; times of the culture and the world, but most especially these difficult times will trickle into the church as well. Read more

Blog Post

Why I’m Committed to Expository Preaching (II)

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the longtime pastor of the Westminster Chapel in London, England, described preaching as “The highest, the greatest, and the most glorious calling to which anyone can ever be called.”[1] While Lloyd-Jones’ assessment resonates broadly with evangelical preachers, precisely how one is to preach lacks such consensus. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “The Power of His Resurrection” by C. H. Spurgeon

The doctrine of a risen Saviour is exceedingly precious. The resurrection is the corner-stone of the entire building of Christianity. It is the key-stone of the arch of our salvation. It would take a volume to set forth all the streams of living water which flow from this one sacred source, the resurrection of our dear Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; but to know that he has risen, and to have fellowship with him as such–communing with the risen Saviour by possessing a risen life–seeing him leave the tomb by leaving the tomb of worldliness ourselves, this is even still more precious. Read more

Video

Panel Discussion: God, the Gospel, and Getting Things Done

Last Friday we were pleased to host a preview day for our prospective college and seminary students here at Midwestern Seminary. That evening I was a part of a panel discussion entitled God, the Gospel, and Getting Things Done with Charles Smith, Midwestern Seminary’s Vice President for Institutional Relations, and Matt Perman, author of Whats Best Next: How the Gospel Transforms the Way You Get Things Done. I want to invite you to watch our discussion about how Christians can be more productive for the Kingdom of God. Read more

Blog Post

Why I’m Committed to Expository Preaching (I)

Evangelical Christians are in general agreement that preaching is God’s divinely appointed means to proclaim the gospel and to convey his truth to his people. Yet, within evangelical Christianity, precisely how one is to preach the Bible remains a contested topic—and with huge ramifications.

Though I sometimes wrestle with what text to preach, I never wrestle with how to preach it. I determined long ago for every sermon to be an expository one. For me, this started experiential and practical, but it quickly, and ultimately, became biblical and theological. Let me explain why.
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Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “The Stones Would Cry Out” by C. H. Spurgeon

But could the stones cry out? Assuredly they could if he who opens the mouth of the dumb should bid them lift up their voice. Certainly if they were to speak, they would have much to testify in praise of him who created them by the word of his power; they could extol the wisdom and power of their Maker who called them into being. Shall not we speak well of him who made us anew, and out of stones raised up children unto Abraham? Read more

Blog Post

The SBC & the 21st Century: Reflection, Renewal, and Recommitment

In recent days Midwestern Seminary announced the forthcoming symposium The SBC & the 21st Century: Reflection, Renewal & Recommitment. This event, slated for September 28 & 29, is the first installment of a triennial symposium series hosted by Midwestern Seminary. Each triennial symposium will engage issues vital to Southern Baptist identity, heritage, and future. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Blessed are the Peacemakers” by C. H. Spurgeon

This is the seventh of the beatitudes: and seven was the number of perfection among the Hebrews. It may be that the Saviour placed the peacemaker the seventh upon the list because he most nearly approaches the perfect man in Christ Jesus. He who would have perfect blessedness, so far as it can be enjoyed on earth, must attain to this seventh benediction, and become a peacemaker. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Why are Ye Troubled?” by C. H. Spurgeon

Let the fact that, while he is the Saviour of all men, he is specially the Saviour of them that believe, cheer and comfort you. You are his peculiar care; his regal treasure which he guards as the apple of his eye; his vineyard over which he watches day and night. “The very hairs of your head are all numbered.” Let the thought of his special love to you be a spiritual pain-killer, a dear quietus to your woe: “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”God says that as much to you as to any saint of old. Read more

On Books, Old and New

America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Shaping of a Nation

This week Midwestern Seminary was privileged to host Dr. Grant Wacker, the Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Christian History at Duke University Divinity School. Dr. Wacker lectured on Billy Graham and the life of the mind: a thematic excerpt from his newly released biography on the famed evangelist, America’s Pastor: Billy Graham and the Making of a Nation. Read more

Blog Post

As One with Authority: On Fred Craddock & Authoritative Preaching

This past week Fred Craddock, one of the world’s most influential homileticians of the past half-century, died at the age of 86. Craddock burst onto the scene in 1971 with his As One Without Authority, and his seminal book landed like “a bombshell on the playground of preachers.” In it, Craddock called for a new homiletic, for preaching to start with the hearer, not the text, and for preaching to be inductive, not deductive. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Behold, What Manner of Love” by C. H. Spurgeon

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us.” Consider who we were, and what we feel ourselves to be even now when corruption is powerful in us, and you will wonder at our adoption. Yet we are called “the sons of God.” What a high relationship is that of a son, and what privileges it brings! What care and tenderness the son expects from his father, and what love the father feels towards the son! Read more

Blog Post

Three Ingredients for Faithful Preaching

Faithful preaching has three primary ingredients. Creativity and homiletical polish are helpful, but the key ingredients of faithful preaching are preset and established by God. The three ingredients touch on who is qualified to preach, why one should preach, and what one should preach. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “For as the Sufferings of Christ” by C. H. Spurgeon

There is no cry so good as that which comes from the bottom of the mountains; no prayer half so hearty as that which comes up from the depths of the soul, through deep trials and afflictions. Hence they bring us to God, and we are happier; for nearness to God is happiness. Come, troubled believer, fret not over your heavy troubles, for they are the heralds of weighty mercies. Read more

Essay

Are We Enjoying the SBC’s Golden Era of Theological Education? (II)

Designations of golden eras tend to occur long in hindsight, aided by nostalgia and abetted by old souls viewing history through rose-colored glasses. This is to say, in actual terms golden eras rarely—if ever—exist. But in relative terms, the early 21st century may well be the SBC’s Golden Era of theological education. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Then Was Jesus Led up of the Spirit” by C. H. Spurgeon

In the haunts of men we expect to be tempted, but even seclusion will not guard us from the same trial. Jesus Christ was led away from human society into the wilderness, and was tempted of the devil. Solitude has its charms and its benefits, and may be useful in checking the lust of the eye and the pride of life; but the devil will follow us into the most lovely retreats. Read more

Video

Panel Discussion: The State of Evangelicalism

Last week I was pleased to welcome Dr. David Dockery, president of Trinity International University, to the campus of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Dockery spoke in chapel on Tuesday, delivering the State of Evangelicalism address. After chapel, I was honored to host a panel discussion with Dr. Dockery, Dr. Jason Duesing, and Dr. John Mark Yeats. I want to invite you to watch our conversation of many issues pertaining to evangelicalism. Read more

Video

MBTS Spring 2015 Convocation: Four Keys to Persevering in Ministry

This letter to Timothy is about faithfulness; faithfulness in ministry and faithfulness within the local church. It is a message that is timeless for us. If ever the church of the Lord Jesus Christ has needed pastors and ministers that would press on in faithfulness until they received their reward from the Lord Jesus Christ, it is now. Read more

Video

Video: 2014 Fall Commencement

It is imperative that we consider one last time together what faithfulness in ministry looks like. The truth of the matter is, many churches do not quite know what to look for or what to expect in a minister. Read more

Blog Post

How Shall They Hear? Recovering the Exclusivity of the Gospel (II)

But, if the gospel does not exclusively save, William Carey and Samuel Pearce were on fools’ errands. Adoniram Judson and Lottie Moon should be pitied, not revered. And Jim Elliot and Nate Saint died in vain. On the contrary, these great saints believed and ministered in light of what we must recover—an unreserved conviction of the exclusivity of the gospel. Read more

Video

The Holiness of God

Isaiah 6 is one of these great passages in all of the Scriptures. My desire over the next 45 minutes is not to dump a doctrine on you. Rather, it is to investigate this chapter with you, introduce and confront you with the holiness of God and see how it is to affect and shape our lives. In fact, I am a man on a mission tonight. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “He Shall Take of Mine, and Shall Show It unto You” by C. H. Spurgeon

There are times when all the promises and doctrines of the Bible are of no avail, unless a gracious hand shall apply them to us. We are thirsty, but too faint to crawl to the water-brook. When a soldier is wounded in battle it is of little use for him to know that there are those at the hospital who can bind up his wounds, and medicines there to ease all the pains which he now suffers: what he needs is to be carried thither, and to have the remedies applied. Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Thanksgiving Meditation: “Sing Forth the Honour of His Name, Make His Praise Glorious” by C. H. Spurgeon

Think not ye who are always mourning, that ye are guiltless in this respect, or imagine that ye can discharge your duty to your God without songs of praise. You are bound by the bonds of his love to bless his name so long as you live, and his praise should continually be in your mouth, for you are blessed, in order that you may bless him. Read more

On Books, Old and New

On H. B. Charles, Jr.’s On Preaching

For preachers, trusting authors of books on preaching is like is trusting authors of hunting magazines. The writer adds credibility if he has some nice mounts on the wall. Similarly, H. B. Charles, Jr. is a reliable guide on good preaching because he exemplifies it. Read more

On Books, Old and New

On The Guns of August

World War I reminds Christians of the fallenness of man, the necessity of confronting evil, and our collective desire for the day when, “He will judge between nations, And will render decisions for many peoples; And they will hammer their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they learn war.” Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “Behold, to Obey is Better than Sacrifice” by C. H. Spurgeon

If you are failing to keep the least of Christ’s commands to his disciples, I pray you be disobedient no longer. All the pretensions you make of attachment to your Master, and all the devout actions which you may perform, are no recompense for disobedience. “To obey,” even in the slightest and smallest thing, “is better than sacrifice,” however pompous. Read more

Video

Video: Panel Discussion with Al Mohler on Expository Preaching

You spoke with great conviction today about expositional preaching, and, of course, we have talked about this countless times over the years. I think our group would find it encouraging and informative to hear your personal story how you came to appreciate and to be so convicted about what preaching is to be. Read more

Essay

On Preaching and the Public Invitation System

Each service, I preached the gospel, and called sinners to repentance and faith in Christ. My week of evangelistic preaching reminded me of a question a student recently asked me, “Should the sermon conclude with an invitation?” I responded, “Yes, a sermon certainly can conclude with an invitation, but, more importantly, the sermon must be an invitation.” Read more

Lord’s Day Meditation

Lord’s Day Meditation: “It Is a Faithful Saying” by C. H. Spugeon

Treasure up these faithful sayings. Let them be the guides of our life, our comfort, and our instruction. The apostle of the Gentiles proved them to be faithful, they are faithful still, not one word shall fall to the ground; they are worthy of all acceptation, let us accept them now, and prove their faithfulness. Let these four faithful sayings be written on the four corners of my house. Read more

Blog Post

Dispatches from the ERLC’S National Conference on the Gospel, Homosexuality & the Future of Marriage

Issues of gender, marriage, and sexuality are not going way. The church must be prepared to engage these issues, cognizant of the full complexities they bring us. Yet, we must not let our engagement overlook our first imperative to be gospel people, pointing persons again and again to the message of a crucified and risen Savior. Not as a cure all, or an immediate moral disinfectant—but as our only hope, gay or straight, religious or irreligious. Read more

Blog Post

Reconsidering Charles Spurgeon

Why so much buzz about Spurgeon, and why is Midwestern Seminary happy to be ground zero for it? Because, as Carl F. H. Henry observed, C. H. Spurgeon is “one of evangelical Christianity’s immortals,” and we look to him as a ministry model as we perpetuate his legacy. Read more

Blog Post

We Cannot Stop Speaking: A Response to Houston Mayor Annise Parker

The irony in all of this is, Mayor Parker may have set her city back by stymieing religious liberty, while, unwittingly, moving the church forward, and positioning us more firmly in the apostolic tradition we own. We must now prove ourselves worthy of that tradition. And, whatever we do, like the besieged apostles, we must not stop speaking. Read more

Blog Post

Why I’m Encouraged about the Future of the SBC

In spite of statistics that show decreases in certain key denominational metrics—including baptisms—I am actually encouraged about the SBC. My encouragement is not rooted in some political calculation, nor in the assurance of a near-term reversal in trend lines. My encouragement is rooted in what God appears to be doing in at least five key areas of our convention. Read more

Essay

Ready to Preach (For the Church Conference)

There is so much a minister is to do, so much he is to undertake, and so much he is to do well. But the irreducible task of the minister of the gospel is to preach the Word. It is unsurprising that preaching the Word is coupled here with the call to readiness. Read more

Blog Post

Duke McCall at 100 & Why He Still Matters

According to McCall, the seminary’s constituency unequivocally would be Southern Baptist churches. Faculty with ears to hear had been fully apprised at McCall’s inauguration of where he intended to take the seminary. Read more

Blog Post

Radical: Reflections on David Platt & the IMB

Like every other corner of the SBC, in recent days all eyes in Kansas City have been on David Platt and the International Mission Board. When I announced in chapel Dr. Platt’s election as president of the IMB, the room filled with applause from our students, faculty, and staff.

Since the IMB’s announcement, I’ve been asked countless times how I think Platt’s leading the IMB will play out. With pun intended, I’ve said, “It will be radical—in one of two directions.” Let me explain.
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Essay

For the Church: Theological Education, the SBC & the Future of Midwestern Seminary (III)

Since Southern Baptists founded their first seminary in 1859, the denomination has experienced an uneasy relationship between her seminaries and the churches that own them. Though the year 2013 finds the seminaries very much in line with the denomination’s confessional statement—the Baptist Faith & Message 2000—such has not always been the case. Moreover, a survey of the history of theological education indicates the need for churches to keep an ever-vigilant eye on the seminaries they own. Read more

Blog Post

Heaven is for Real: Why I’m Skeptical of the Afterlife Industry

In the years past, I simply shrugged my shoulders at such books, seeing them as nonsensical and unhelpful. Yet, afterlife books and resources have congealed into something of an industry — an industry of books, paraphernalia, and movies — with a consequential and costly underbelly. And this new industry is generating massive revenues for those with a compelling afterlife story. Read more

Audio

A Conversation with Russell Moore about Religious Liberty*

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Religious liberty is simply an application of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesar’s, and render unto God that which is God’s,” which is saying there are some things that belong to God that do not belong to the government; they do not belong to Caesar. Read more

Audio

A Conversation with Frank Page about Bi-Vocational Ministry*

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Statistically, probably a majority of Southern Baptist churches are pastored by a bi-vocational pastor. In the state of Missouri, it is more than 50 percent. In most states, it is more than 50 percent. Out west and up north, high percentages of our pastors are bi-vocational. I will tell you, they are my heroes. Read more

Audio

A Conversation with Danny Akin about Family, Faith, and Football

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I still remember phrases I heard you say in seminary. Things like, “Gentlemen, I’d rather you get a C in my class and an A at home.” And things like, “You can have a great marriage without having a great ministry, but you cannot have a great ministry without having a great marriage.” Things like that just ring true. Read more

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