Today is Reformation Day and I’m loving it. I’m also aware that most people think I’m a total dork for knowing what Reformation Day is even about. Because most Christians today don’t care about Church History.
Why should normal Christians who love Jesus care about Church History? Well, I’m glad you asked…
1. You aren’t the first Christian
I know this sounds ridiculous. And it is. But how often do we live like that? We think things like, “But that was so long ago, I can’t learn anything from them!” or “I hate history. I’m more interested in what’s happening today.” But when we look down on history and believe that newer is always better, then we’re acting like we’re the first Christians who matter.
The truth is, we share a common faith and a common mission. Sure, the world is more technologically advanced, but there have always been controversies, wars, divisions, and other cultural issues that Christians have wrestled against. Keep in mind that since our medicine is better, many families knew greater suffering and loss of family members than we experience today. We can all learn from brothers and sisters of faith who desired to live for the glory of Christ, even if they lived a long time ago. Continue reading
The Christian who doesn’t read will always struggle to hear God speak. Because God has chosen to give us his Word in written form through the Holy Bible. And as Mark Twain is supposedly said, “He who does not read has no advantage over he who cannot read.”
While it’s helpful to remember that God speaks through his Word, I have a feeling that many Christians open their Bible, read the passage, and then think, “Ok… now what?” So then they re-read a few verses, pray, and then close their Bible after wondering if they just failed at reading their Bible.
Fellow pastors, we need to stop telling people what to do without equipping them how to do it!
As a youth pastor, for many years I was far more guilty of this very thing than I’d like to admit. Over the last few years I’ve started prioritizing teaching students how to read the Bible, not just convincing them that they should read it. So whether you’re a teenager or retired, I trust the following could help you grow in your ability to read and understand the Bible in your personal life. Continue reading
There are some who say humans are simply another creature among animals. They say we’ve evolved and risen to the top of the evolutionary pyramid. We aren’t the strongest, fastest, or the most powerful. What is it about humanity that makes us stand out as unique and different from the rest of creation?
According to the Scriptures, we were created “in God’s image,” and that sets us apart. Many Christians “know” that. It’s something that Christians all affirm: humans are the crown of creation, the only ones in creation with the honor of being created in God’s image. But what’s it mean? How would you describe it to a child who asks?
What I’ve written below is presented as an overview of the general topic to point you in the right direction, not clarify every issue in play. Still, I’m convinced it will be useful enough that you’ll be able to explain what it means to be created in the image of God. Continue reading
Fairness has become one of the gold-standards of American culture. Everyone is equal. For anyone to receive preference is akin to discrimination and will surely bring a lawsuit. In many ways, this is good and entirely appropriate for any free society.
Fairness doesn’t mean everyone gets the same thing. It means you get what you deserve. This is our default theology. For those of us who are more melancholy, we live with guilt and gloom we cannot escape, because we have a more negative view of ourselves and the world. Others have a go-get-’em mentality and always see the positive side of things, and they live with the expectation that since they’ve never been arrested they’re all-good in God’s eyes.
But there are some ways in which fairness is unhealthy. Because love isn’t fair: it prefers the beloved over and above all others. I think my kids are cuter than your kids are. I’m sorry, but I just do. And I assume you think your kids are cuter than mine. Because that’s what love does. It’s not fair, but it’s good.
God is love. And God is not fair. But he is good, and he is just.
I hate the word “old.” It makes it automatically seem like the thing that’s old isn’t any good anymore. If something’s old, maybe it’s still around for a reason – it’s worth keeping around!
Look at your Bible and you’ll notice one binding. One book… all Scripture. 1 Timothy 3:16-17 famously declares, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” While this may be familiar, it’s important to remember the “Scripture” being referred to is what we call “the Old Testament.”
As Christians, we need to remember that the Old Testament is just as authoritative Scripture as the New. The problem is, we don’t always know how to interpret the Old in light of the New. Here are some reminders that will serve you well.
Finding Jesus in the Old Testament
There is much to say about this particular topic and there’s no way to do more than scratch the surface in such a short summary. If there are questions about this in the comments then perhaps I can address this further in a future post. The following big-picture review of the Bible should help you discern how each verse of Scripture points to or flows from the gospel.
Self Righteousness… does anyone like it? You know the type… those who walk around like they’re holier than thou, judging everyone else for not being as godly as they are.
And yet, if we’re honest with ourselves, we all love self-righteousness. We believe that we are better than others. If I think ABC is right, and you think ABC is wrong, then I’m probably not changing my mind anytime soon. Why is that? Because our default setting is self-righteousness. We are the kings and queens of our kingdoms, and what we desire is almost always viewed as good and right and beautiful. Those who oppose us are grabbing for power, judgmental, or they’re just plain wrong.
But here’s the thing… you can’t be a Christian and be self-righteous. Christianity looks to the righteousness of another. The gospel calls us to confess our unrighteousness and to trust fully in the righteousness of Christ. The Christian is fully dependent on Christ’s righteousness.
What if God was fickle? Imagine if God’s love had limits, and came to an end. Would there be good news to proclaim; or would we be given the law, and only those who kept it perfectly (no one!) would be free from judgment.
We would be under judgment, not grace.
חֶסֶד (hesed) is translated as “steadfast love” in most English translations of the Old Testament and is one of the most beautiful words in the entire Bible. It is his steadfast love which motivated the Son to become a man: the atoning sacrifice for the sin of his rebellious image-bearers, so they could be reconciled and free from guilt and shame. But how often do we read about his steadfast love without pausing to truly reflect on what it means?
We’ve all been hurt. We’ve all been forgiven. We’ve all needed to be forgiven. But some hurts are simply too difficult to truly forget.
“Forgive and forget” sounds good advice until you’re the one hearing it. Then, when it’s personal and when the hurt is deep, it seems like you’re expected to do something impossible. And for the Christian, it begs the question: Is “forgive and forget” biblical?
The Bible has some really strange stories in it. There are some that you read and think, “Wait a minute. What?!” Yesterday at church I told a friend I had just written a post about this story and he said, “I have that story highlighted in my Bible. I have no idea what it means though!” Let’s explore one of the weirdest stories in the Bible.
He (Elisha) went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.
2 Kings 2:23-25, ESV
I remember reading this as a teenager and thinking, “What in the world is going on here! God had a bear eat 42 kids because they called someone bald?!” As always, reading this story in light of what came before and what comes after is the key to understanding what happened. We also need to know something about Bethel’s relationships with the prophets of God. Continue reading