John Pierce’s Blog

It’s a calling, not a formula

It’s a calling, not a formula

By John D. Pierce A big question is how did so much of American Christianity today get so far from Jesus? The answer can be traced to what pastor/author Ken Wytsma calls the “Salvation Industrial Complex.” And his personal experience mirrors mine. “I grew up with the...

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Sorry! But it needs to be said

Sorry! But it needs to be said

By John D. Pierce There are not many things President Trump is honest about. He is a record-setting liar. His false claims are so numerous and outrageous that even his best defenders call them “alternate facts” and dismiss proven accurate information as “fake news.”...

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Know better

Know better

By John D. Pierce Reading Nurturing Faith Journal has many benefits — with the overarching advantage of gaining understanding around the many issues impacting thoughtful and faithful daily living. The latest issue explores the role of “hard prayers,” the good reasons...

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Rightfully wrong

Rightfully wrong

By John D. Pierce Shortly after the formation of the more open and historically principled Cooperative Baptist Fellowship nearly three decades ago, some naysayers were quick to predict its demise. It was popular during the developing years to hear someone pontificate:...

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‘Call Stories’

‘Call Stories’

For those attending the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Birmingham next week, please join us for the release of a new Healthy Church Resources book: Call Stories: Hearing and Responding to God’s Call Barry Howard, Editor Wednesday, June 19, at 9 PM...

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Missing arms and other alarms

Missing arms and other alarms

By John D. Pierce Any “air conditioning” in my family’s old Pontiac station wagon required cranking down four windows to create a breeze. Dad, however, was the only one permitted to rest his arm on the car door with this elbow protruding. “Keep your arms in the car”...

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Imposing our agenda on Jesus

Imposing our agenda on Jesus

By John D. Pierce The harsh reality is that many who profess to be Christian hold a higher allegiance than to Christ. It is to a social ideology based on a highly selective manipulation of the Bible that downplays or ignores the life and teachings of Jesus. This...

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Remembering a most remarkable woman

Remembering a most remarkable woman

By John D. Pierce Last Sunday morning, Dr. Virginia Boyd Connally of Abilene, Texas, died at age 106. Her legacy is both long and lasting. Writing of her a few years ago I referred to Virginia as a remarkable woman. I would add: a most remarkable woman. This kind and...

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Good stuff a-comin’

Good stuff a-comin’

By John D. Pierce “Original” has a much nicer sound to it than the uppity word “exclusive.” Therefore, I refer to the many unique stories and columns that fill each issue of Nurturing Faith Journal as original content. That is, there is no other place in print or...

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The overabundance of unchanged minds

The overabundance of unchanged minds

By John D. Pierce Few things are as rare as a changed mind. Everyone seems to buy into a particular ideology and defend it regardless of faults or facts. Often professing Christians are the most rigid and defensive by attributing divine endorsements to weak but...

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Misappropriated funs

Misappropriated funs

By John D. Pierce Productivity often defines my day as being “good.” There is a sense of satisfaction that comes from work well done. And the more that gets checked off the to-do list, the better. There are also those “good” days that begin with abandoning the laptop...

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Elitism and Lent

Elitism and Lent

By John D. Pierce At hotel check-in time I am profusely thanked for being “elite” as well as loyal. A new rewards program has designated my status as “titanium” now, not merely “platinum.” Even the plastic key and paper holder that let me find and enter my...

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Where have I heard that before?

Where have I heard that before?

By John D. Pierce “I’m a believer that the church has to transform the culture, not the culture transforming the church,” said Pastor Jeff Kersey of Mt. Horeb United Methodist Church in Lexington, S.C., speaking in opposition to equality for LGBTQ persons. Where have...

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Jesus just ain’t mean enough

Jesus just ain’t mean enough

By John D. Pierce For some professing Christians Jesus just ain’t mean enough. They claim him as their savior but consider him a wimp when it comes to “real life” experiences. They impose a strictly literally interpretation on the Bible, in principle, but literally...

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Finding Will in the Hall

Finding Will in the Hall

By John D. Pierce Recently my two daughters, two nieces and I visited the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, where we saw Webb Pierce’s 1962 Pontiac Bonneville convertible adorned with steer horns, six-shooter door handles, a saddle console and more than l50...

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What’s next? Good reading!

What’s next? Good reading!

By John D. Pierce Original content that stirs the mind and heart is the defining mark of Nurturing Faith Journal & Bible Studies. So don’t miss out on the upcoming March/April issue that hits mailboxes soon. The cover story features Austin’s Trinity Street...

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In search of better exports

In search of better exports

By John D. Pierce My mother never traveled overseas but her one global connection was a Dutch pen pal relationship formed when the two were schoolgirls. They never met (or talked by phone to my knowledge) but enjoyed this exclusively mail-based friendship well into...

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My favorite Jack Harwell story

My favorite Jack Harwell story

By John D. Pierce A tiny black-and-white image of Jack Harwell — in his younger, bespectacled days — was a weekly visitor to my family’s home in northwest Georgia. It was set within his allotted words on the editorial page of The Christian Index. Even many years...

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Reflections and Hope

Reflections and Hope

By John D. Pierce Most of my time is spent looking ahead to an approaching deadline or planning the next event that is part of the expanding ministry of Nurturing Faith. However, I have taken some moments to reflect on what has happened in and through these efforts in...

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Label me a reductionist

Label me a reductionist

By John D. Pierce Labels serve a descriptive purpose but are rarely fully accurate or adequate. Often they are misapplied, redefined or refused. Some people label themselves with ease as liberal, conservative or another tag — while many of us are less comfortable...

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Does community mean crowd?

Does community mean crowd?

By John D. Pierce How many people does it take to celebrate Christmas? Counting the figurines comprising our nativity scene — including the late-arriving wise men — apparently not very many. Yet the success of modern revelry is often measured by its crowd size. “We...

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On growing up

On growing up

By John D. Pierce Recently, over dinner with friends since childhood, one of them asked reflectively: “When we were growing up could you have imagined your life turning out as it did?” “No,” I said. That seems to be one of many amazing things about life. We don’t...

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Thoughtful, relevant and original

Thoughtful, relevant and original

By John D. Pierce Those who read Nurturing Faith Journal get thoughtful and relevant information found nowhere else. The timely content is not compiled from other digital or print sources — but written exclusively for this autonomous, national publication. The...

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Let it snow!

Let it snow!

By John D. Pierce For the last couple of years I’ve stayed firmly on the same message: that many who claim the name Christian pay little or no attention to what Jesus actually said and did. Especially what he called the greatest commandment on which all else hangs....

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GIVING VOICE

GIVING VOICE

By John D. Pierce Never have I claimed to speak for anyone other than myself. But I’m always honored when told that my words have conveyed the thoughts and concerns of others as well. Shaping and sharing perspectives on faithful living in challenging times is a...

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Goodness is a good way to express thanks

Goodness is a good way to express thanks

By John D. Pierce Thanksgiving reminds us that many of life’s daily gifts go unrecognized. It is more than a phrase to say, “We pause to give thanks...” This annual pause in our routines and rat races gives us the chance to reflect upon all that blesses our lives....

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Where lessons get learned

Where lessons get learned

By John D. Pierce When parents and church leaders tell children to be honest in word and deed; to not bully or otherwise mistreat others; to trust God and be like Jesus, to love all the children of the world — but then fearfully and heartily support political leaders...

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Plan fast; four spaces remain

Plan fast; four spaces remain

By John D. Pierce Nurturing Faith Experience: Pacific Northwest, set for July 20-27, 2019, is filling quickly. So if you've "been thinking about it," it might be time to act. This experience will featuring Washington’s Olympic National Park and Oregon’s Cannon Beach —...

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Remembering Roy Smith

Remembering Roy Smith

By John D. Pierce WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Family and friends gathered at the First Baptist Church on Fifth Street here Saturday (Oct. 27) to celebrate the long and love-filled life of Roy J. Smith, known for his exceptional leadership skills, pastoral passion and (as...

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Good doubt

Good doubt

By John D. Pierce Through his 1965 book, The Christian Agnostic, Leslie Weatherhead taught me to distinguish between rejecting faith and constructively rethinking what I’d been taught about faith. I discovered that often faith and doubt are not opposites but two sides...

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What goes around…

What goes around…

By John D. Pierce “What goes around comes around,” says a familiar adage that keeps coming around and around. Old sayings aren’t the only things to depart only to return again and again. There are boomerangs, the McRib sandwich and Brett Favre — to name a few. But, as...

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Tell it all, brother and sister?

Tell it all, brother and sister?

By John D. Pierce My friend Paul Wallace, who writes the insightful “Questions Christians Ask Scientists” column in Nurturing Faith Journal, made an good observation and raised a worthy question on Twitter recently. “I’m unnerved by the quality and quantity of...

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Thoughtful and original

Thoughtful and original

By John D. Pierce “Where do your stories come from?” From paying attention, I say. That’s one way to describe the editorial approach we take at Nurturing Faith Journal. We pay attention to what is in the news and what conversations are taking place in churches and...

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How we got here

How we got here

By John D. pierce American evangelicals (as they are deemed now) got politically excited a few decades ago. I get it. Abortion is an emotionally compelling cause that calls for thoughtful, constructive and compassionate responses. But the complex issue got...

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Seeking better views

Seeking better views

By John D. Pierce It is my deep conviction that much of American evangelicalism needs a better view. So-called “biblical worldview” and “Christian worldview” often denote a political ideology that largely or completely ignores the life and teachings of Jesus. Taking a...

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Florence and friends

Florence and friends

By John D. Pierce Many Nurturing Faith readers and friends are located in the areas being impacted so heavily by forces of Florence. Be assured of our prayers for your safety and for those who rally to provide emergency and other services. Such devastation is...

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Getting off the suckers list

Getting off the suckers list

By John D. Pierce Recently CNN reported a sad story of how some seniors and others have been scammed multiple times and are considered ripe for the picking. So their names and contact information are sold on what is deemed a “suckers list." Something as innocent as...

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Read this book to read the Bible better

Read this book to read the Bible better

By John D. Pierce Some people find the Bible to be confusing. Others compound the confusion by treating the Bible as if a catalogue, rule book, science or history text, or other lesser volume than its intended purpose. Still others attribute claims to the Bible — for...

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Dust (to dust) and home on the range

Dust (to dust) and home on the range

By John D. Pierce Spending time in the American West takes me back to my childhood love of all things cowboy. While riding through expansive Hayden and Lamar valleys in Yellowstone National Park recently, I found myself working up my best TV announcer voice to...

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Good gathering

Good gathering

By John D. Pierce Thanks to everyone who stopped by the Nurturing Faith exhibit at last week's Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly in Dallas, where we offered copies of Nurturing Faith Journal and Bible Studies, CBF Resources and more than 75 Nurturing...

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What is taking so long?

What is taking so long?

By John D. Pierce As a denominational body that has capitulated to fundamentalist power, the Southern Baptist Convention is at times a curiosity to me, but not a matter of real interest. I moved on long ago. Primarily, it revels in irrelevancy — passionately debating...

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Dallas doings

Dallas doings

By John D. Pierce Nurturing Faith will have an active presence at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly this week (June 13-15) at the Hyatt Regency Dallas. Our exhibit will feature sample copies of Nurturing Faith Journal & Bible Studies, and the...

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Dangers and delights of risky dining

Dangers and delights of risky dining

By John D. Pierce Anthony Bourdain’s tragic death has drawn attention to how he not only enjoyed the exotic food he encountered while filming his CNN show but how comfortably and deeply he engaged those with whom he shared a table. Such observations reminded me of an...

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Wise rebellion

Wise rebellion

By John D. Pierce Authoritarianism rules. And, boy (gender intended), do we live in a time of emboldened authoritarianism from the White House to the church house. Calvinist Baptist John Piper, who pushes male-dominance “complementarian” doctrine, can always be...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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 —...

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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...

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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,...

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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)...

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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 —...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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