The Bithynian Option
Peter's letter to the Bithynians and the history of the Christian church in that particular region suggest several principles and insights for how to engage a fluid and foreign culture as resident outsiders
Ambassadors as a rule do not join municipal steering committees. They are not citizens. Neither do they move into caves and preach prophetic denunciations from a safe distance. They live in the culture as representatives of a foreign power. That is the essence and substance of the Bithynian Option. It understands the Christian mission as... Continue Reading
I Hate the Fall
The only thing that comforts me in the midst of this dark and fallen world is the fact that God hates sin and evil even more than I
Dear friend, we all should hate sin and evil. We should hate the Fall. But even as we hate it, we have hope. God has answered the problem of evil by crushing his own Son. And one day, the Son will return to restore this world and make all things new. On that day, the... Continue Reading
Parachutes, Survivors, and a Challenge
In order to deal with the discomfort, sometimes the existence of abuse is doubted, and as a result, the existence of its survivors is doubted too.
If this is not “your” issue, I respect that. Then please don’t make pronouncements about what is or is not domestic violence out of ignorance. This is a life and death matter, and you don’t know who is listening and taking your words to heart. Do the research and weigh the evidence. Your attitude and... Continue Reading
Ministering to Pedophiles
Addressing the pedophile’s deception and showing what true repentance and ministry to them should look like
A pedophile who refuses to do these things is not repentant and should be put out of the church immediately. The pastor must also make it clear that any ministry the pedophile receives shall not come at the expense of his victims. Just as salvation comes first to the Jew, then to the gentile (Romans... Continue Reading
Handling Contentions in the Church
Here are eight things for pastors to keep in mind while seeking to navigate the trials and controversies that local congregations often face
Never simply give in to contentious or complaining congregants for the sake of peace. One of the biggest mistakes that pastors make is to give in to the demands of discontent or contentious congregants simply to keep them happy. By doing so, they inadvertently empower sinful congregants. If pastors give in on one thing for which... Continue Reading
When the Devil Points a Gun at You
As the gunman shouted to the Christians to make themselves known! What would you do?
These are important moments. People rarely focus on their death. And though the temptation is often to fear, fear that the next person I talk to could hate Christianity, we cannot stay silent. We must keep pressing and shining the light of the Gospel on this lost world. God is in the business of bringing... Continue Reading
Caught in the Spotlight: Christian Leaders Who Mishandle Sexual Abuse Disclosures
Instead of focusing time and energy in doing the right thing when a spotlight is turned on, many leaders will focus time and energy trying to get them turned off, or at the very least pointed elsewhere
Victims are marginalized when leaders demand that they not share their stories in the manner in which they have decided, publicly or privately. This tactic is deceptively clever because it attempts to paint a bold survivor as an insensitive perpetrator in a disgusting attempt to shame the survivor into turning off the spotlight and putting... Continue Reading
Don’t Try to Impress God
One of the easiest traps into which believers fall is the trap of trying to impress God.
Another way we try to impress God is through busyness. I am more and more convinced that there are lots of people out there, even in the church (and maybe especially in the church!) who think that they will either get into heaven by busyness, or will get a substantially greater reward of another kind... Continue Reading
The Fourth Person of the Trinity?
“Don’t try to stand in the place of God and do what only God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit can do in someone’s life.”
While we want to be faithful as pastors and spiritually fruitful congregants to help those entrusted to our care–as well as members of the same body, we must ever guard against allowing ourselves to slide into a role that God hasn’t given to us–a role that only He possesses. When I was an intern... Continue Reading
Calculated Killing of Christians in Roseburg?
When religion draws fire, look to God and the heroic example of Charleston's forgiveness
If Christians are labeled as “haters” simply because they hold views derived from their Scriptures, the elevated rhetoric can, and indeed does lead to violent actions. It is inevitable. I am not saying we don’t criticize, but we must not demonize. When we demonize others — Christians, Muslims, gays, African-Americans or whomever — we... Continue Reading
6 Reasons Why Anxiety, Worry, & Fear are Particular Problems for Christians
About 20% of the US population has an anxiety disorder. That’s about one in five people, or 40 million adults.
So baseline, you’ll find more anxious people in a church than waiting in line to bungee jump. I don’t have hard statistics on this, but I think the incidence of anxiety disorders in a church congregation is higher than the 20% you find in the general US population. Plus anxious people tend to also be... Continue Reading
Have Church Your Way: The High Cost of the Worship Wars
Larger churches came up with a solution: two services, each with its own “worship style.” But it cost us in the end.
We’re building Burger Kings when we should be planting gardens and digging wells. We’re further indulging the carb-addicted, malnourished population with the same cheap fluff, instead of offering them a balanced meal of Word and Sacrament. Be hospitable, yes, but don’t dumb it down. Don’t make it easy. Trading the body and blood for donuts... Continue Reading
Homeschooled Children Do Not Grow Up To Be More Religious
Family climate, especially faithful religious devotion by both parents, delivered in a context of loving nurture, is more important than where a child goes to school.
So what does it all mean? Anecdotes and biased studies aside, it seems from this emerging body of work that homeschooling itself will not automatically produce adults who share the conservative political, religious and moral beliefs of their parents. The data also suggest that family climate, especially faithful religious devotion by both parents, delivered in a... Continue Reading
High School Rejects ACLU Bid to Block Prayer Boxes
A Louisiana school board rebuffed the ACLU at a meeting Oct. 1 when it passed a resolution calling the organization’s recent threats unwarranted.
“The board wishes to publicly reaffirm its intent to operate a successful school district in which equal access is recognized and the legal rights of all students are respected, including those of its students who wish to engage in student-lead, student-initiated religious expression,” the statement said. (WNS)–A Louisiana school board rebuffed the ACLU at a meeting... Continue Reading
Refugees and the Moral Crisis of Our National Debt
Because of our $18 trillion in debt, the U.S. is compromised in its ability to help with the refugee and other crises.
Area Middle East churches have invested themselves in working in these refugee camps, seeking to alleviate the physical, psychological, and spiritual needs. International groups such as Samaritan’s Purse and Doctors Without Borders have been working tirelessly. And yet, the overall American response to this unprecedented crisis of displacement has been underwhelming. But, what can you... Continue Reading
10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About the New Charismatics
A grassroots Christian movement is renewing charismatic faith for the twenty-first century.
For New Charismatics, gone are the days of an eschatological worldview where a bloodthirsty God requires militant pro-Israel support and violent American nationalism. Even as the 2016 GOP primary race heats up, we are more determined than ever to leave this behind for a God who looks like Jesus, that preacher of peace who taught... Continue Reading
The Prosperity Gospel Has Gone Viral
Here are a few ways that you can tell that you are nibbling at the hook of the prosperity gospel, without, perhaps, even knowing it
Regrettably, the prosperity gospel has gone viral. Being more nuanced and subtle than you may think, it is very active in the church. Like a computer virus it is draining vitality and productivity in the covenant community. And you know what the worst part is? You may not even know that you are impacted by it. What... Continue Reading
6 Great New Books for Kids
Here, representing 6 different publishers, are some excellent new books for children.
In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth. With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling... Continue Reading
Did the Apostle Paul Use Profanity?
Is σκύβαλα a swear word, or maybe a rude word? Or is it unobjectionable?
With that in mind, I did a search of two exhaustive databases of ancient Greek literature (Perseus and Thesaurus Lingua Graecae) to see if σκύβαλα functions as a swear word in Greek. I discovered that nowhere in all of ancient Greek literature is there a clear example of σκύβαλα functioning as a swear word or... Continue Reading
Pretending No More
Playing dress up and pretending to be someone else is fun. But eventually children grow out of doing so. Or do they?
When someone asks how we are doing and we smile and say, “Fine,” but inside our heart is aching, we are in fact pretending to be someone else. When we act like our life is great while our world is crumbling down around us, we are pretending. When we fear to open up to others... Continue Reading
The Question Is Not Whether But Why?
Do Reformed Christians ignore the Epistle of James?
The question in the 16th century was never whether James is in the Bible but why it is there. As they worked out their doctrine of justification, sanctification, and salvation sola gratia, sola fide they concluded that James 2 is teaching the moral and logical necessity of love and good works not as part of the legal basis (ground) of our... Continue Reading
Brothers and Sisters
I'm afraid that in an effort to avoid inappropriate relationships between men and women, we have forgotten to foster appropriate ones
We don’t need more fences. We don’t need a stronger negative push against sinful sexual relationships. We need to foster a different mindset altogether. The church needs to plow a counter culture. It needs a new axis on gender, orthogonal to the sexual one, that equips us to live affirmatively in male/female relationships in the... Continue Reading
4 Questions to Ask a Child
Here are four questions to try on that freckled kid--that image-bearing human being--in the next pew
Sometimes they freeze at any adult attention, twisting themselves into Mommy’s skirt faster than you can say “hello there!” Sometimes they begin eagerly to speak to you, but a friend or a spider redirects their energies and, with a whirl, they disappear. Sometimes, they’ve just woken on the wrong side of the pack n’ play... Continue Reading
The Privilege of Being a Christian
Can you imagine anything greater than this—that you have been loved from eternity; that “in Christ” you are loved right now?
Opinion varies, but many scholars estimate that Romans was written in AD 57-58. Within a decade, many of the Roman Christians to whom the letter was addressed were brutally slaughtered in the Roman amphitheaters. The original readers of Romans faced a terrible dilemma: they could deny Jesus or profess Him knowing that, if they did,... Continue Reading
Why We Let Our Baby’s Death Come Naturally
State Rep. Jeanne Ives, R-Wheaton, about the decision she and her husband made after they learned at the 20-week ultrasound that their son had a diaphragmatic hernia.
But I never blamed God, and I never asked why Mark or why me. I understood more acutely than ever before the inescapable truth that suffering is part of this life, and it does not discriminate. What matters most in those dark and often lonely moments of fear and grief is how we respond to... Continue Reading
The Bible knows nothing of romantic “soul mates.”
The “soul mate” concept is unworkable and completely unfair to the real other person in your life. It puts enormous pressure on him or her to perform, to meet our impossible expectations. As Jerry Root and Stan Guthrie point out in “The Sacrament of Evangelism,” putting others in God’s place—expecting them to give us what only He can—is... Continue Reading
Washington State High Court Strikes Down Charter School Law
The Washington Supreme Court struck down the state’s charter school law as unconstitutional in early September.
The 6-3 ruling overturned a 2012 voter referendum legalizing charter schools. The majority opinion said charter schools are not “common” schools because they are controlled by boards, not local voters, and therefore cannot receive public funding. The court’s ruling takes effect in 20 days. One charter school opened its doors last fall, and an additional... Continue Reading
A Modern Day Psalm – The Lord Will Not Abandon You
After reading the Psalms for so long I felt like making one of my own
Following the wording and style of Psalms, focusing on God as the subject and answer to everyday life, no need for rhymes, but giving attention to flow and patterns. Now it has become one of my recurring devotional exercises, as a way of praying to and praising the Lord. Give it a try sometime! Here... Continue Reading
The Pope Francis Effect: Enthusiasm, But To What End?
The Francis Effect has yet to create a shift in the dynamics of church attendance and participation
It’s wonderful that some people say that Francis makes them feel the church is more welcoming to them. But if it’s just making people feel more comfortable in their politics, instead of making them feel the comfort of absolution, communion and strengthening of faith, that’s not much to get excited about. Right after the... Continue Reading
Lesbian Parents Try to Force a Christian School to Educate Their Child
The child’s parents are looking to file suit, hoping to force their child’s readmission to the school.
If this controversy goes to court it will present an interesting lesson for those who believe that Christians can leave the culture wars behind and safely retreat to their own enclaves. The radical left will find you. When the goal is destroying a belief system, there is no safe way to freely exercise your faith.... Continue Reading