Has anyone ever evaluated you by how you look without stopping to know who you are?

It has happened to me. Years ago, in the Nashville area, I stopped by a little Baptist church for mid-week worship, and they kicked me out. One look at my my tats, my earrings, and my haircut, and the minister said, “We don’t want your type here.”

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The church I attended as a kid hosted the most wonderful treat you can imagine: pie socials! Every woman in the church brought her best creation for a sweet feast of fruit, sugar, meringue, and whipped cream, all inside homemade flaky crusts. I can still remember some of my favorite delicacies.

This year the leaders of the church where I preach have decided we should sponsor a pie feast, too. But our plan will offer something better than desserts. Our approach is no fat and calorie free, and the sweet tastes it promises will last for eternity.

We’ve chosen the acronym PIE to summarize our strategy for achieving our church’s mission, “Redeeming us back to God”:

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Today I’m thinking about last week’s sermon and I’m remembering so many in our church who have lived out its truth. The theme was “You Are an Overcomer.” The texts told the remarkable account of the apostle Peter’s threefold denial of Christ (Luke ) and threefold offer of forgiveness and mission from Christ (John ).

Like so many stories in the Bible, this one has lost its meaning for some of us who have heard it repeated through the years. But for the person encountering Jesus for the first time, the fact of Peter’s redemption offers a fresh breeze of hope. And since even experienced Christians also face obstacles, burdens, and failures, Peter’s story is one for all of us to hold on to. That’s what I was saying when I made the following points this week.

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Why THE Church Must Be Bigger Than YOUR Church

Sitting this week at the first board meeting of the Shine Like Sable Foundation, I was struck by a fact I don’t remember often enough.

The church must be bigger than my church.

That is, God’s work through his people is larger than God’s work through my congregation. All of us would admit this as we thought about church plants on the other side of town or missions established the other side of the globe. But I’m thinking about something sometimes more difficult to embrace: The work of the church in my community must be bigger than the work of my congregation here.

Shine Like Sable is the foundation started by Scott and Holly Gibson after the tragic death of their 10-year-old daughter, Sable, this February. Her spirit of seeking to help others will be continued and multiplied as the foundation finds ways to help other children in need.

As I thought about the work of the foundation, I jotted down several conclusions.

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In a few short weeks I start my annual study break. Last year I wrote about it, and I thought it would be good to refresh us all on why it is imperative to take breaks.

It was my first Sunday on the platform after being away for a month last year. “We could totally tell you were fresh and ready to get back,” somebody said to me that morning. And they were right.

Soon after I started here, our elders instituted this annual break. “If you’re going to be in this ministry for the long haul, you can’t do 50 weeks a year, even 40,” they told me. “You need time to be alone, to rest, to be with your family.”

I’m so thankful for their wisdom.

While taking time for rest is important for anyone in any job, a break like mine is especially vital for lead pastors. Here’s why.

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