One of the most important experiences of my life was when my wife and I attended a dedication ceremony for a Wanca Quechua translation of the New Testament in Peru. People at the ceremony were weeping because they were able to read a Bible in their own language for the first time. ...Keep Reading
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Criticizing the church can come easily, especially in an age like ours. Though many of us are aware of the dangers of consumer Christianity, few of us escape its influence entirely. I know I can find myself slipping into an attitude of detached critique, rating sermons, music, and small groups as if I were reviewing a blender on Amazon. Alongside our consumerism, we live in a time when criticizing the church is fashionable. A subtle contempt, even in some Christian circles, garners respect. We are the jaded and disillusioned, those who inwardly roll our eyes at Christian clichés and anything that smacks of churchy strictness. When unbelievers share their grievances with “organized religion,” sometimes we offer little more than a sympathetic nod. Whether it arises from consumerism or cynicism, however, such a critical spirit toward the church of God appears nowhere in the New Testament....
Spending an hour with 10 two-year-olds every Sunday may not stretch your preaching skills, but it might just be what the Lord uses to make you a more compassionate and faithful church member in the present and church leader in the future. Nursery service is a great way to grow to love the children in your church...
Christians have a long tradition of referring to elders and deacons as church “officers.” The nomenclature rightly recognizes the role and responsibilities that Scripture gives to our leaders. It also points to the honor due to pastors (1 Tim. 5:17). People show respect to officers, right? I don’t want to downplay any of this. But . . . church membership is an office, too. It’s a job that comes with authority and responsibility. We can call a lieutenant an “officer” without diminishing the honor due to a general. What’s at stake here is not just academic, but pastoral and biblical....
Listening to sermons online is generally a good thing but when it takes the place of gathering with God's people to hear God's word in person much of what God intended for our growth as followers of Jesus gets lost....Keep Reading
"Scripture is full of exhortations to God’s people to sing and make music to the Lord. Our God has been gracious to give us this means to worship Him. But it is important to understand that music in our worship is for two specific purposes: to honor God and to edify our fellow believers. Unfortunately, many Christians tend to grant music a sacramental power which Scriptu...Keep Reading
The words of Scripture are trustworthy words. To hear scripture is to hear God. And His words are spirit and life (John 6:63). To walk away or neglect the regular meditation of the Word and the fellowship of the Word-speaking community is to cut yourself off from your very life-source and identity in Christ. It is a faithless abandonment of what a Christian is called to do...Keep Reading
Most people don't enjoy conflict. We tend to avoid it if we can. I suppose there is something healthy about this fact. We certainly don't want to enjoy conflict. However, there is something that is lost, particularly for Christians, when we avoid biblically handling necessary conflict. We could rightly say that in this case there is an unhealthy avoidance of conflict....Keep Reading
If you are single today, the portion assigned to you for today is singleness. It is God's gift. Singleness ought not to be viewed as a problem, nor marriage as a right. God in his wisdom and love grants either as a gift....Keep Reading
The Christian that knows only to bemoan the state of society is the Christian that will succumb to silence. Love for God and love for others must conquer our fear. We must not assume that our unchurched friends and neighbors are hostile to our faith. When we believe the myth that everyone hates us, we tend to retreat to our closets where we hide our lamp under a bowl. W...Keep Reading
Kindness, rightly understood, is a Christian virtue, a manner of being that is shaped by love. We are kind when we treat one another the way we want to be treated. We are kind when we lend a sympathetic ear, when we bear with others despite their faults, when we respond to conflict with empathy and gentleness. But kindness and love are not the same thing, and whenever w...Keep Reading
The Old Testament can be disorienting. God reveals himself in clouds of fire, in a whirlwind, even in person. He brings people to mountaintops and speaks to them. He wrestles with Jacob. Isaiah sees him high and lifted up on the throne. It was so in the beginning when Adam and Eve walked with their Maker in the garden. God appeared to Abram (Gen. 17:1), Jacob saw him fa...Keep Reading
The passion narrative is a familiar story with familiar elements: chief priests, Golgotha, two thieves, Pilate, the crowd, the cross, the tomb, and of course, Jesus. But there is a central piece we tend to overlook. According to Matthew, the temple is an essential part of that fateful week. Matthew mentions the temple 16 times over the final eight chapters. It's no a...Keep Reading