Seven or eight years ago I stumbled into a circle of friends that God has used to change my life. At a pastor’s conference we heard Bob Russell speak. He was at that time the Sr. Minister at Southeast Christian Church in Louisville (Dave Stone is now), a church that so many look up to not only because it is the largest Christian Church in the country, but because of Bob’s character, humility, and long-term faithfulness. He talked about how he and Wayne Smith (another highly regarded minister, now-retired from Lexington) had a long standing friendship that really helped them through the years in ministry.
God planted the idea of finding a few other pastor guys to grow old with, to do life with, to be friends with – guys who could experience together what Bob and Wayne had experienced. Well, God planted that idea in the minds of four of us guys at the same time. We decided to get together to talk about ministry, write some sermons together, pray, and get to know each other better. In short, it clicked, and we’ve been in each other’s lives on a regular basis ever since.
We call ourselves the Stinklings. We heard how famous Christian authors C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein used to sit around in pubs talking about their books and other deep thoughts back in the day – and we recognized our crew needed a more humble name. We gather regularly and stay in touch frequently. This week, for example, we’ve probably traded a dozen group emails, sharing information and bouncing ideas, helping each other solve problems. Primarily, we encourage each other, offering godly counsel and accountability. We know the inner heart of one another, the joys and sorrows. Our spouses are friends, we love each other’s children. We play golf, tennis, ski, ride bikes, laugh, cry, and pray together. It’s been a lifeline for each of us.
At one of our recent gatherings we had a great discussion about the moral decline in our country – and how Christians should respond to it. One of my Stinkling buddies is Tim Harlow, Sr. Pastor at the fast growing Parkview Christian Church in Chicagoland. Tim did a good job of reflecting in writing some great thoughts that I think are important – about how we look at those who do not hold Christian values.
Here is the heart of the question: Do we basically look at them as being WRONG? Or do we primarily see them as being LOST?
Our answer will shape the kind of response we have to a host of crucial issues facing us today in the years to come.
Click HERE to read Tim’s blog.