Advent Meets Exodus- a Devotion (2/4)

Born thy people to deliver…born to set thy people free.”  These words sung of Jesus in Charles Wesley’s well-known Christmas hymn could as easily be sung of another baby, the one whose birth brightens the otherwise dismal opening to the book of Exodus. There we find the chosen people of God suffering as slaves at the hands of a Pharaoh who knew not their forefather Joseph, nor their Father God.

Brokenness Awaiting Advent- a Devotion (1/4)

I stand at the open door staring at the number of single socks accumulating on top of the dryer. The other darks — underwear and jeans — were gathering clean, folded, soon to return to their assigned spots in my dresser. As the items piled up, I wonder how many socks must be removed before two can be paired and moved to the folded piles. For me the general rule of thumb — one of every pair.

Preaching the Gospel to Myself – A Recovering Pharisee

My evangelism professor in seminary was Jack Miller.  He not only believed the gospel, he loved the gospel.  He was gospel-centered and from that center he overflowed with joy and love.  He was also a risk-taker.  He believed the words of Paul in Romans 8 that if God has given us his Son then we can face death all day long.  We can take risks for Jesus’ sake and Jack did.  I am not sure how anecdotal this account is but I was told that he would often go up to a complete stranger and introduce himself by saying, “Hello, I am Jack and I am a recovering Pharisee.”  

Mary and Joseph and Roy Moore: a quest for moral clarity

We live in a politically charged climate these days. As a pastor, it is a climate I usually try to avoid entering whenever possible. However, when politics crosses wires with the Church (typically evangelicalism) and issues of moral concern, I am compelled to share my own voice when other voices are effectively speaking for me. The case of Roy Moore is such an instance of the wires crossing.

A Q&A Review of Biblical Authority After Babel: Retrieving the Solas In the Spirit Of Mere Protestant Christianity – with a personal response from Dr. Vanhoozer.

So, all the book reviews I read are either summary and analysis types which can get too involved or interview the author types which can meander too much, but it occurred to me that it would be nice to have a Q&A review that gets to the meat and potatoes of an author’s premise and gives a taste of their core assertions.  Then again, it is me writing this so it may be both too involved and too meandering!  Note:  Dr. Vanhoozer’s personal responses are in the last two questions if you are interested (basically the ones I could not confidently figure out on my own). 

The Gospel: Dealing with the Pharisee’s Carcass

Keeping the Gospel in front of you daily is even more important than making sure you eat three square meals a day.   Continually reminding yourself of your standing before God in Christ is essential if you are going to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ in such a way as to render loving obedience to Him.   All our striving to live according to the Law of God apart from a functional faith in the Gospel is both frustrating and fruitless.  

Gun Violence and Our Futile Answers

There is no need for me to give a lengthy account of the rampant gun violence and other massive acts of violence in America. You know about Las Vegas, Manhattan, and now Sutherland Springs. You know about the countless events that have preceded these more recent ones. It is horrific and is increasingly so as we grow ever more numb to it and it grows ever more normal to us. How tragic that our children have never known a world without all of this. Can they ever know such a world?

A Reformation Meditation on Solus Christus: Inadvertent Attacks by the Church? (4/4)

But our God is no mere object to be worshipped, He is a subject, a someone, The Someone, the Hero, the protagonist of the greatest story ever told.  He is active, not passive, close not far away.  He moves and we are moved.  He pours out His grace, and we receive and return it back with praise. Theologian Marva Dawn captures the picture well, “The gifts of worship flow from God the subject and return to God as the object of our reverence.”[2] 

A Reformation Meditation Series on Solus Christus: Attack On The Sufficiency Of Christ (2/4)

 Within the context of the Reformation each sola affirms something and denies something else.  The final authority of the church is sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone) rather than tradition.[1]  Salvation comes sola fide (by faith alone) rather than by a combination of faith and good works,[2] as well as sola gratia (by grace alone) which excludes any and all human effort or cooperation, in solus Christus (Christ alone) as the only mediator of that grace rather than penance, sacraments, the Priests, the heavenly Saints, or Mary, all to and for soli Deo Gloria (Glory to God alone) rather than man.

A Reformation Meditation Series on Solus Christus: Martin Luther & Solus Christus (1/4)

The first time Martin Luther thought he was going to die he cried out, “O, Mary help!”[i]  The second time, only a few years later, during a mighty thunderstorm he fell off his horse and screamed, “Save me, St. Anne, and I’ll become a monk!”[ii]  Years later after washing in the cleansing waters of Gospel grace and drinking the living water of Gospel life thus truly becoming born-again he would launch the Protestant Reformation.  In one sermon he would reflect back soberly saying, “St. Ann was my idol.”  He told the congregation the despicable truth of the human heart is that “it is easier for us humans to believe and trust in everything else than in the name of Christ, who alone is all in all…”

The Mission of God and a Missional Church

Recently in Advent Christian Voices, there was a call for a conversation discussing what it means to be a missional church. The idea of a missional church is not new. Two decades ago the term 'missional church' was coined.  The term suggested that "the church is to be understood not as an organization with a mission; rather the church's very identity is mission” (Ott, Strauss and Tennent 2010, 197 in Raven, 2017, 164). 

Coming and Going: Living the Advent Christian Life

The world is supposed to end on Saturday. That’s at least according to some crackpot astronomers/Biblical scholars. I do not want to give them the time of day in this space, but you can find fitting responses here and elsewhere. As Advent Christians, we are no strangers to foolhardy Biblical calculations and date-setting. After the excesses of William Miller and the subsequent “Great Disappointment”, Advent Christians know better than anyone else the futility of trying to pin down the time of Christ’s return, of which he himself said, "But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” [Mark 13:32 ESV]

My Parents' Loudest Lesson

It was another morning like any other. By some titanic feat I managed to get myself out of bed to plod my way downstairs for breakfast. Breaking past the stairwell wall and coming to the railed banister, I could see my mom reading her Bible in the recliner as she always did, her little dog cuddled up beside her. It was just another day, same as any other.

Being On Mission

Some people treat church like a Hollywood gala we see on the news. The mission of those in attendance is to impress and get attention. Some treat church like a concert. Their mission is to attend, enjoy it and go home. Is that all the church is meant to be? I think church should be like my dog treats me or other guests who come into our home. I am the most important thing to my dog, and he has no greater joy than to be with me; to have my attention, and for me to love his attention…