Category Archives: Uncategorized

On Pause….

To the small number of folks who follow this blog, you may have noticed a lull in output this year. This is a temporary, albeit lengthy, situation. I will soon be able to devote more time to this site and I look forward to that.  There is much to discuss in culture, the church, and theology.  I will try to post some more photos from Israel and Jordan, and perhaps some photos from Europe as I have had the good fortune of being able to visit Wittenberg this year. 

So, until my next post, may God bless you and keep you. 

Some Christmas Links

I thought I would toss out a couple of links today for your perusal.  The first is a link to an article that was published in the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society about a year ago or so.  It deals with the date of December 25 in relation to Jesus’ birth.  It is an interesting read that goes into great depth about the issue.  So, for that article, please click here.

The second link is to my favorite podcast, Unbelievabe?  The most recent show is a debate about the Star of Bethlehem.  The show airs on Saturday in England, but if you subscribe to the podcast, they will typically show up on your feed a day early.  To check out what they are doing at Unbelievable? and to listen to the Christmas show on Christmas Eve, then click here.

Enjoy, and have a very merry Christmas!

Shameless plug…

I know it has been a while since I posted something, but life has been somewhat hectic in recent months and the blog has had to take a backseat.  I will try to post more frequently, but my schedule is still pretty well packed for the next few months.  Nevertheless, I felt the need to say something about the books I have written, and just say with a grin that if you are still looking for that last minute gift… you could always purchase one of my books from Amazon.com

There’s:   rulestolivebykindle

Rules to  Live By: Sermons on the Ten Commandments

The contents of this first book are pretty self explanatory.

 

 

Starting Over: From Ruins to Rebirth   starting-over-kindle-cover

This second book I wrote for my teenage son while I was out of the country for an extended period of time.  The book deals with a range of topics from a Christian perspective.  The story follows two siblings traveling alone across what used to be the United States.  The world as we know it today had been ravished by war and only small pockets of people remained.  As this brother and sister pair travel along they run into various situations and have numerous conversations that lead to discussions of the Christian faith.  There is some violence in the book, but there is no foul language, and there is plenty of content to encourage further discussion about the intersection of Christianity and the world around us.

 

Traveler: One Girl’s Amazing Journey of Spiritual Discovery  Traveler Front

This final book was also written while I was out of the country.  It was written for my daughter and is aimed at the 10-12 year old age range.  The main character of the book travels to various places around the globe thanks to a very special playhouse in her room.   Along the way, she is exposed to Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism.  In her conversations with people from other countries, her Sunday School teacher, and her parents, she learns something about culture, other world religions, and how Christianity stands apart.  The book is a great tool for conversation around the dinner table.  If you would like to read a review of the book, click here.

 

Until my next post, have a Merry Christmas!

Grape Juice at the Communion Table

From time to time I will have someone comment on the use of grape juice instead of wine as part of the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper.  Often times, the comments are said in a mocking way to try and paint those of us who use grape juice as some sort of prude.  Still, there are others who are genuinely curious.  So, for those, here goes.

To begin, there is nothing wrong with using wine for the sacrament.  In fact, where I commonly worship nowadays, wine and grape juice are both available.  Now back to the point.

Wine is a stumbling block for recovering alcoholics.  A brother or sister in Christ who has left a life of alcoholism faces a horrid dilemma when coming to receive the sacrament if the only thing available is wine.  In a nutshell, they can choose to risk falling back into the grips of alcoholism after drinking wine, or suffer from a self-imposed excommunication.

Now, the vast majority of us are not alcoholics and will never be faced with such a dilemma.  However, it is a terrible thing to bar someone from sharing at the Lord’s Table because they refuse to return to a life of sin that Paul describes using  some rather harsh language – something about drunkards not inheriting the kingdom of God (1 Cor. 6:9).

So, before making snide comments about those who choose to use grape juice for the Lord’s Supper, remember that there is a quite charitable reason for the choice.

The Lonely Text

A tragedy in much of the modern church is the lack of Bible-centered preaching. Perhaps you have sat in on a worship service where the biblical text sits alone by the wall while the one who brought it to the dance goes off and dances with something else. The scenario is familiar to many of us: a Scripture is read and the sermon hardly, if ever, acknowledges the text again.

Whenever I sit in such a service, I look around at all the people filling the sanctuary and think to myself, These people are starving for the Word of God. They come in and out of here each week looking for what the Scriptures have to say, and leave empty handed. It is my sincere hope that folks in such churches have the wherewithal to know that they are being spiritually undernourished and seek to be fed elsewhere.

With so many preachers delivering up “puff pieces” to congregations each week, it should come as no surprise that people are ill-equipped to deal with the challenges we face in the world. Consider this, according to research by the Barna Group, the top 6 reasons young people leave church are:

  1. Churches seem overprotective.
  2. Teens’ and twenty somethings’ experience of Christianity is shallow.
  3. Churches come across as antagonistic to science.
  4. Young Christians’ church experiences related to sexuality are often simplistic, judgmental.
  5. They wrestle with the exclusive nature of Christianity.
  6. The church feels unfriendly to those who doubt.

Popular “puff pieces” will never overcome these six items. The results of Barna’s research indicate that shallow and simplistic sermons simply will not do. A well-read, thoughtful, pastor who has a heart for Biblical preaching, however, can serve as the antidote to the poison that is destroying the spiritual life of so many young people.

So, getting back to the lonely text. There is simply no way that a person can leave church feeling that the Bible is relevant for today if the preacher ignores while instead choosing to tell fluff stories. If you are a pastor: feed the people! Don’t leave the text for that day’s message leaning up against a wall looking for someone else to come along. Be about the work that you have been called to and preach the Word of God.

New Book!

Looking for an apologetics book for late-elementary or middle-school kids? If so, then this is the book for you. Informative and entertaining, Traveler: One Girl’s Amazing Journey of Spiritual Discovery, tells the story of one young girl who travels to various parts of the globe and learns how Christianity stands apart in a world of different religions.

Topics covered in this book include:

  • The resurrection
  • The deity of Christ
  • The reliability of the New Testament
  • The Trinity
  • Salvation
  • Persecution

World Religions that Anastasia encounters include:

  • Judaism
  • Islam
  • Buddhism
  • Hinduism

If interested, click here to order the book at Amazon.com.

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Free Audio Book

Great news folks!  Christianaudio.com offers a free download each month to registered users.  This month, the audiobook is I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist.  This is a spectacular deal.  Frank Turek and Norman Geisler do a superb job in this book of laying out a case for the Christian faith.  I had the pleasure of reading this book, along with J. Warner Wallace’s Cold Case Christianity (Amazon.com or Christianbook.com)this past summer, and I must say that I enjoyed both books tremendously.

Christianaudio.com is a wonderful source for all sorts of Christian audio books.  If you like, you can sign up for a membership and receive a certain number of credits each month to put toward audio books.  However, if you just want to purchase an audio book, and do not care for a membership that comes with a monthly payment, then you can always make single purchases.

I am in no way connected with the website, but I do feel it is important to let people know of such businesses.  The one beef that I have with Christianaudio.com is that they do not have an Android app.  This was a huge turn off before I got an iPhone, which they do have an app for.

Anyhow, I hope that you take a moment to check out the site and consider downloading the book.