John Pierce’s Blog

What does it mean to believe in God?

What does it mean to believe in God?

By John D. Pierce “It’s good that you believe that God is one. Ha! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble with fear.” Rather than using the more-commonly translated — “Good!” or “Good for you!” — the Common English Bible (CEB) renders as the middle line in...

read more
Time to dream again?

Time to dream again?

By John D. Pierce Congregational leaders of my generation considered Bob Dale’s earlier best-selling book, To Dream Again, to be a lifeline. It was their go-to book for re-envisioning a church’s mission in changing times. Since that time, changes have continued to...

read more
Waking up (at) Yellowstone

Waking up (at) Yellowstone

By John D. Pierce Yellowstone is waking up from its long winter nap. The snow is beginning to melt and the animals are starting to move about. The park’s summer splendor is early in the making. What if you (yes, YOU) woke up on a cool summer morning to the...

read more
Now we know

Now we know

By John D. Pierce We no longer have to speculate. And what many of us have suspected is true. We’ve wondered why Jesus — who offered expansive grace, a counter-cultural life and incisive teachings as part of revealing God and modeling how his followers are to live —...

read more
Doubting the ‘double cure’

Doubting the ‘double cure’

By John D. Pierce Every funeral I attended as a child — and I attended way too many — included some warbling rendition of “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.” I hate that song. I associate it with the sight of waxy, dead, unknown distant relatives and the smell of flower...

read more
The great fundamentalist lie

The great fundamentalist lie

By John D. Pierce Remember when the Religious Right (a.k.a., Moral Majority, Christian fundamentalists) jumped into politics a few decades ago to tout their commitment to “family values?” Well, that was a big, fat lie. It turns out, as many of us knew at the time,...

read more
Think summer — out West!

Think summer — out West!

By John D. Pierce Nurturing Faith Experiences (NFEs) strike a unique balance between traveling with a large tour group where you’re herded like buffalo — or striking out on your own without insider knowledge and access. NFEs are small-group (limited to 18 persons)...

read more
Coming soon!

Coming soon!

By John D. Pierce Soon the next issue of Nurturing Faith Journal will roll of the presses — and there is time for you to subscribe right here. Some highlights of the March-April issue — along with the superb weekly Nurturing Faith Bible Studies by Tony Cartledge —...

read more
Lessons from being out of place

Lessons from being out of place

By John D. Pierce “Have you ever felt like the whole world is a tuxedo and you’re a pair of brown shoes?” That deadpan line comedian George Gobel once delivered on The Tonight Show to crack up host Johnny Carson came to mind last week. I knew that out-of-place feeling...

read more
Ringing the bell for freedom

Ringing the bell for freedom

By John D. Pierce The shiny bell in my home study is beautiful in appearance and sound. But is more than that: It is gift that that reminds me to be bold in “ringing the bell for freedom” — as I was charged by the generous man who gave it to me. David M. Smith of...

read more
Modern Christian purity rituals

Modern Christian purity rituals

By John D. Pierce Unlike Jesus, many modern American evangelicals — who at times feign affection for this particular first-century messiah — fear getting soiled by contact with those considered to be social, racial and economic outcasts. So they work hard at keeping...

read more
The “Be nice” problem

The “Be nice” problem

By John D. Pierce Generally, most of us want to be nice — and are deemed nice. We care about people, respect their differences, and we seek to around nice people ourselves. Persons who don’t behave nicely in our society create enough ugliness — with no need for us to...

read more
Pearl stories

Pearl stories

By John D. Pierce The world is less gracious today after the death of Pearl DuVall in Cordele, Ga., yesterday. Everyone needs more mature, mentoring people in their lives who lead by words and deeds. Pearl was one of those for me in my early years as a campus...

read more
Holy interruption

Holy interruption

By John D. Pierce The coming of Christ was a holy interruption. It occurred in a very specific place and time — prompting the questions: Why here? Why now? Most of us grew up with idealized versions of the story from a sanitary stable to a cry-less baby to an...

read more
Silence is deadly when it allows Christianity to be redefined into a narrow political agenda that promotes discrimination, ignores Jesus and excuses abuse

Silence is deadly when it allows Christianity to be redefined into a narrow political agenda that promotes discrimination, ignores Jesus and excuses abuse

By John D. Pierce Resistance to alarmism often keeps thoughtful people from sounding needed alarms. More likely they will roll their eyes and hope “this too shall pass.” In doing so, however, such silence allows religiously-fueled alarmists — who fear nothing more...

read more
Caution: Handle with care

Caution: Handle with care

By John D. Pierce My mother was not a neat freak — which with four sons would have been an effort in futility anyway. But one thing was always in its proper place in our house. Nothing was ever stacked on top of the Bible. Reverence for the only book with “Holy”...

read more
Books blog part 2: Making more

Books blog part 2: Making more

By John D. Pierce This follows yesterday's blog about giving away most of my personal library recently. Sometimes when asked what I do for a living my first response is, “I make up stuff.” Most writers don’t use such a line that might imply not telling the truth. For...

read more
Books blog part 1: Making room

Books blog part 1: Making room

By John D. Pierce Assembling an impressive personal library was a sign of taking knowledge (or at least the perception of knowledge) seriously for my generation of seminarians and up-start minister types. Filling shelves, especially with hefty theological volumes,...

read more
Just pick one!

Just pick one!

By John D. Pierce My friend Steve Bean and I grew up in church-going families. As teenagers we found our first “real jobs” (defined by a paycheck with tax withholdings) at the restaurant in a newly opened Days Inn along I-75 at the Georgia-Tennessee border. Our...

read more
It’s Sunday in Athens

It’s Sunday in Athens

By John D. Pierce This Sunday, Nov. 5, as part of its All Saints’ Day observance, the First Baptist Church of Athens, Ga., will remember its longtime former pastor Jon Appleton who died last November. During that service I will present the congregation and the...

read more
Wasted days and wasted nights

Wasted days and wasted nights

By John D. Pierce Jesus’ life and teachings didn’t matter very much. At least that’s the idea one gets from those American Christians who see his only earthly purpose in coming to die as a penalty for human sinfulness — and then rocketing off to heaven to fix up some...

read more
One more than the rest of us

One more than the rest of us

By John D. Pierce One Sunday several years ago I was pulpit pinch-hitting at First Baptist Church of Ringgold, Ga., the small northwest Georgia town where I graduated from high school. The deacons, as is the custom in many Baptist churches, gathered for prayer before...

read more
Hawaii experience — just one guy shy

Hawaii experience — just one guy shy

We have filled all spaces for the Nurturing Faith Experience: Big Island, Big Sky set for March 10-16 2018, on the Big Island of Hawaii — with one exception. We have room to add one guy willing to share a room with someone already registered. If you are interested in...

read more
Got a bell? Give a bell?

Got a bell? Give a bell?

By John D. Pierce The Christian community at Koinonia Farm in southwest Georgia could use a bell at their chapel. The chapel has been renovated and a bell tower was donated — but no bell. The demonstration plot for peace, people and pecans was founded by Clarence...

read more
Humor and hope: Life with the Kings

Humor and hope: Life with the Kings

By John D. Pierce ATLANTA— “It was the church that made us who we were,” said Albert Paul Brinson, standing in the historic sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, that he attended as a youth and later served as associate minister to co-pastors Martin Luther King Sr....

read more
Awakened but confused?

Awakened but confused?

By John D. Pierce One Saturday afternoon a few years ago I dropped into Rembrandt’s Coffee House in the lovely Bluff View Arts District of Chattanooga. Few others were there at the time. But just moments later the soft music and slow pace were interrupted by the...

read more
The changing face of sin

The changing face of sin

By John D. Pierce During my formative years, sin was pretty easy to identify if not avoid. Sin was playing poker, drinking beer, missing a church service (without going to another on vacation and bringing a bulletin for proof), holding baseball practice on Wednesday...

read more
Reflecting on the ‘Words of Jesus’

Reflecting on the ‘Words of Jesus’

By John D. Pierce Had Jesus lived on earth at a much later time his poetic and revealing Beatitudes (in Matthew 5) might have been released under the title “Greatest Hits.” He opened what is called the Sermon on the Mount with these blessings that provide a better...

read more
Halfway to Hawaii

Halfway to Hawaii

By John D. Pierce A very unique opportunity is available March 10-16, 2018 on the Big Island of Hawaii. It will be an adventurous week of exploring creation with a gifted astrophysicist. Paul Wallace, who writes the “Questions Christians ask scientists” column in...

read more
‘It’s a birth order thing’

‘It’s a birth order thing’

By John D. Pierce Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of personality traits and behaviors explained in terms of birth order — though such interpretations have been around for a long time. While some patterns are obvious, there tend to be quite a few exceptions as well....

read more
Fire and that which follows

Fire and that which follows

By John D. Pierce Warnings are everywhere out West — from flashing roadside signs to Smokey the Bear working overtime. Fire danger is high according to every indicator — and smoke from existing wildfires in forested lands travels hundreds of miles according to the...

read more
Peaks and valleys

Peaks and valleys

By John D. Pierce Yesterday’s drive across Glacier National Park from east to west on the Going-to-the-Sun Road offered breath-taking views. The abundant wildflowers and wildlife along Logan Pass soothed the soul. We shared Psalm 95:3-4, which affirms:  For the Lord...

read more
Experiences await us

Experiences await us

By John D. Pierce Tomorrow begins back-to-back Nurturing Faith Experiences to the beautiful Rocky Mountains in northern Montana, led by Bruce Gourley, our local Montanan and guide extraordinaire. We look forward to exploring the handiwork of the Creator and enjoying...

read more
Read all about it!

Read all about it!

By John D. Pierce The September/October issue of Nurturing Faith Journal is hot off the press. It features my conversation with the insightful and inspiring Guy Sayles of Asheville, N.C. Astrophysicist Paul Wallace considers Galileo’s role in the unnecessary war...

read more
Down in the valley

Down in the valley

By John D. Pierce Grief is a deep valley that calls for more than shallow responses. Easy answers, bad theology and one-size-fits-all prescriptions for dealing with grief compound rather than relieve the pain. Rooted in long and effective pastoral experience and...

read more
Books that make us better

Books that make us better

By John D. Pierce Nurturing Faith keeps rolling out books that are inspiring and informative — that make us better as we seek to grow, learn and live in purposeful ways. The latest two to roll off these presses are well worth reading. Tony Cartledge is a gifted Bible...

read more
Strang happenings

Strang happenings

By John D. Pierce To what degree are some American evangelical leaders willing to sell their spiritual souls for political porridge? The answer arrived in a press release this week announcing the upcoming book, God and Donald Trump, by Charisma Media CEO and Charisma...

read more
Thanks, Tony, for 10 great years!

Thanks, Tony, for 10 great years!

By John D. Pierce Though both Georgia boys who attended seminary at the same time and place, Tony Cartledge and I didn’t get acquainted until we both backed into second or third careers. (Tony taught school briefly before becoming a pastor.) Though latecomers to the...

read more
Confession is hard, rare and needed

Confession is hard, rare and needed

By John D. Pierce The trauma on Capitol Hill is fresh and real. One can appreciate how rattled lawmakers have rallied around the oft-foreign notion that those of the opposing party are patriotic Americans with just different, though passionate, political views....

read more
Clarifying religious persecution

Clarifying religious persecution

By John D. Pierce For many Americans there is a constant need for  clarification of religious persecution and liberty. Here is such an opportunity. More than 20 persons attending a Baptist worship service May 28 in Taraz, Kazakhstan, were taken to a police station...

read more
‘What do you do?’

‘What do you do?’

By John D. Pierce A common introductory question is, “What to you do?” The response is usually tied to one’s profession or educational pursuits. Follow-up questions and responses often lead to connections — or at least the sharing of more information. Those in sales...

read more
What if?

What if?

By John D. Pierce What if you could spend a day with an active participant and Christian leader in the Civil Rights Movement who was mentored in life and ministry by Drs. Martin Luther King Sr. and Jr.? Such opportunities come along very rarely — and will not be...

read more
‘Lean into beauty’

‘Lean into beauty’

By John D. Pierce William L. (Bill) Hendricks was a gifted theologian who died in 2002. Long before meeting him personally, I read his books and heard him speak to large gatherings of college students. Though less flamboyant, he reminded me in some ways of Charles...

read more
Big Island, big sky — big opportunity!

Big Island, big sky — big opportunity!

By John D. Pierce Exploring the marvels of creation is time well spent. It expands the mind, warms the heart and puts our lives in right perspectives. That’s why I’m excited to announce a new Nurturing Faith Experience, March 10-16, 2018, on the Big Island of Hawaii —...

read more
5 reasons to go to Glacier

5 reasons to go to Glacier

By John D. Pierce There is still a little time and space for you to participate in a grand adventure we're calling Nurturing Faith Experience: Glacier East-to-West. Here are five of many good reasons to join us August 5-11. ONE: Sharing great meals with great people....

read more
Join us at Johns Creek!

Join us at Johns Creek!

Nurturing Faith's annual Judson-Rice Award Dinner on Thursday, April 27, in Alpharetta, Georgia, will be a wonderful event and we want you to join us! Executive Chef Chris Harwell and staff will serve a fabulous buffet meal — and a delicious reception before. Jazz...

read more
It’s no time to be liturgical snobs

It’s no time to be liturgical snobs

By John D. Pierce Like many Baptists, the church and denomination that nurtured me practiced worship in ways that no one would confuse with Catholicism. Even lighting candles raised fear that the Protestant Reformation would unravel. Like many Baptists today, however,...

read more
Escape to the high country this August

Escape to the high country this August

By John D. Pierce What if you could go to one of the most stunningly beautiful places on earth... ...and have all the planning, transportation and other details handled for you... ...in a fun, personal and relaxed way... ...from the time you land until you leave? You...

read more

Is Bible study worth it?

By John D. Pierce Let’s be honest. A lot of purported group Bible study is little more than reading a few verses and asking, “What do you think?” Often the resulting conversation moves quickly from the biblical revelation to the reinforcement of whatever opinions were...

read more
Luck and a legend

Luck and a legend

By John D. Pierce In recent years I’ve spent a good bit of time visiting daughters (or dawghters, as I call them) at the University of Georgia. [I’ll split the proceeds with any lawyer friend who wants to trademark that term.] Their tenures at UGA were separated by...

read more
A nice evening in Alpharetta

A nice evening in Alpharetta

Nurturing Faith Publishing warmly invites you to attend the 17th annual Judson-Rice Award Dinner on Thursday, April 27, honoring educator, author and visionary leader Dr. Kirby Godsey. It will be an evening filled with lively music, great food and excellent...

read more
Up or down?

Up or down?

By John D. Pierce Among the numerous emails that land in my box each day are occasional ones from an older man in Virginia continually touting the evils of homosexuality and dispensing misinformation. He needs another hobby. Like many older persons, and a good number...

read more
Shelter of love

Shelter of love

By John D. Pierce Bill Davies and I have been friends since my student days in Rome, Ga., when he was a youthful Christian education minister at the First Baptist Church there. So last Thursday evening we had plenty to talk and laugh about over Mexican food — which I...

read more

Stuff to know and ponder

By John D. Pierce The March-April issue of Nurturing Faith Journal is rolling off the presses soon — filled with original content addressing important and inspiring matters for thoughtful and compassionate Christian living. Here’s a sampling: Discover how a Rome,...

read more

Shoot better

By John D. Pierce Not all great photographers can teach their skills well, but Bruce Gourley certainly can. I’m indebted to him for helpful hints along many trails, shores and mountaintops. So Nurturing Faith is pleased to sponsor an informal and informative workshop...

read more

Pin It on Pinterest