How a Playground Led to Churches Qualifying for Federal Disaster Relief

Three churches in Texas and two Jewish synagogues in Florida filed lawsuits challenging the exclusion for FEMA funding.

Non-profits have typically been ineligible from receiving FEMA funds if the damaged facilities were established or used primarily for religious services, religious education, or religious activities, such as “worship, proselytizing, religious instruction, or fundraising activities that benefit a religious institution and not the community at large.”   The Story: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently... Continue Reading

The Rise of Reformed Charismatics

A 21st-century global movement sets the Word on fire with gospel preaching and powerful spiritual gifts.

The Reformed tradition has tended to be cessationist, either denying or avoiding the continued practice of charismatic gifts like healing, tongues, and prophecy, believing they were only for the foundational era of the church. Charismatics, on the other hand, are continuationists, believing these gifts are still available and valuable.   The rollicking worship pulsed for... Continue Reading

Jesus Doesn’t Give a Standing Ovation to Sexual Assault

If the church is going to function as God intended, we need to take stand against sin in our midst.

This is grievous to God. Sexual assault utterly appalls him. A confession of sexual assault is not something to be applauded. Yes, we can be grateful that the event has come to light, but we shouldn’t be applauding a man for a half-hearted confession that should have happened twenty years ago. There is nothing admirable... Continue Reading

The Peculiarity of Early Christian Worship

Or How Early Christians Managed to Offend Just about Everybody

So, Christian worship managed to irritate just about everyone.  The Romans were agitated.  The Jews were upset.  Christianity was seen as a subversive threat. But, here’s the key. Christians did not, for these reasons, decided to abandon, change, or modify their worship.  Despite the opposition, they stayed true to their practices and true to their... Continue Reading

3 Lessons I Learned From Burnout

Pastors aren’t supposed to have breakdowns. So I thought.

The writer of Hebrews reminds us: “But when Christ, had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God… For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” (Heb. 10:12,14) This means the performance can stop. We can stop trying to do, and simply be in... Continue Reading

Evangelical Chaplain’s Suspension Intensifies Denomination’s Gay Marriage Debate

Other ECC pastors also face disciplinary action for taking part in the nuptials of gay couples or affirming them in other ways.

The Rev. Judy Peterson, ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church and pastor at its flagship North Park University in Chicago, presided at the wedding of two men in April. That act resulted in her suspension and then a petition drive calling on ECC leaders to place a moratorium on their guidelines forbidding clergy to officiate at... Continue Reading

“Don’t do it!!” Why You Shouldn’t Practice Church Discipline

What’s the pastor to do? My advice would be, “Don’t get yourself into this situation in the first place. Once you’ve discovered that corrective church discipline is biblical, hold off on practicing it for a while.”

What finally sends these otherwise nice, normal, well-adjusted, previously popular pastors over the edge is their discovery that some churches do, in fact, practice church discipline. Not strange, maladjusted churches, but happy, growing, large, grace-oriented churches like Grace Community in Sun Valley, California, or Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia, or First Baptist in Durham, North Carolina,... Continue Reading

Why Repentant Pastors Should Be Forgiven But Not Restored to the Pulpit

“Above reproach” doesn’t mean a pastor is sinless. It means that if everything about his life is brought into the light, people would still trust him and follow him in the way of godliness.

It’s important to forgive repentant pastors, but not to restore them to pastoral office for years or perhaps ever (depending on the nature of the sin) because Paul’s qualifications pertain to the character. A pastor is an extraordinary ordinary Christian. A pastor is a teacher and a pattern setter. An example. Therefore, he must be... Continue Reading

‘In Essentials, Unity’ Includes Sexual Morality

“In non-essentials, liberty.” Yes, there are non-essentials. Sexual morality isn’t one of them.

They [Jerusalem Council] imposed the first rule to keep Christianity distinct and holy unto the Lord — clearly not optional! The prohibition against eating “what has been strangled” enforced the rule against eating the blood of animals, a command that was never meant only for Jews…And so is sexual morality. From the beginning and throughout... Continue Reading

Leaving Christianity

How an Old Man helped save my faith

“As we studied the Bible together, I realized that sometimes followers of God get notoriety and riches, but a lot of times they get dragged outside of the city and are stoned to death. As we studied God’s Word together, I started to really believe that things seem so hard in this world because none of... Continue Reading