One of the most famous Christians in history—and, truly, one of my historical heroes—was an early Christian named Polycarp. Polycarp ministered to the church of ancient Smyrna (modern Izmir, on the western coast of modern Turkey—a city I resided in for two years). Polycarp lived into the middle of the 2nd century A.D., and because … Continue reading Polycarp’s Final Days and Martyrdom
Dramatic Drop in Bible Reading: Why?
In 2011, the percentage of Americans who “used the Bible at least 3-4 times on their own, outside of a church setting” was around 50%. Again in 2012—around 50%. Then again in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, and 2021. Always around 50%. But according to the American Bible Society, in 2022, that … Continue reading Dramatic Drop in Bible Reading: Why?
What was Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7)?
Paul’s thorn in the flesh was some sort of unusual, long-term, intermittent, stabbing, face pain that was viewed by others as shameful and the result of black magic attacks, but by Paul as attacks of a demon permitted by God. This is the conclusion of my newly-released book focused on answering one of the most … Continue reading What was Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7)?
What is Christian Revival? Three Resources to Help You Understand Revival
A Christian revival is a moment in history when 1) the hearts of many of God’s people are awakened to greater love and commitment to Christ, 2) many who consider themselves Christians (but are not) get converted, and 3) many people who have never known Christ are drawn to faith in Christ through what God … Continue reading What is Christian Revival? Three Resources to Help You Understand Revival
Should We Translate τέλος (telos) as “End Goal” in Romans 10:4?
Recently, I was teaching a class session (Life & Letters of Paul) when a student asked me to define the word τέλος (telos) in Romans 10:4 (τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς / telos gar nomou Christos, “For Christ is the τέλος of the law”). I replied that the usage-range of the word τέλος sometimes hovers more … Continue reading Should We Translate τέλος (telos) as “End Goal” in Romans 10:4?
“What are the joy-stealers? Why do so many of us struggle with joy?” I often ask my students this question when we open the book of Philippians. “Time pressures.” “Financial pressures.” “Unfulfilled expectations.” “Hurts from the past.” These are common responses from my students. But Paul would point us toward two other foundational reasons for … Continue reading Joy
Last semester a young college friend challenged me (dared me?) to try to use the contemporary slang word “based” during one of my college class lectures. Honestly, it was a bit tricky, since I first had to figure out what my twenty-something-year-old students meant when they used this word. But once I got a basic … Continue reading “Based”
Does an Elder Have to be “Able to Teach?” (1 Timothy 3:2)
Yes. An elder has to be “able to teach.” It is one of the qualifications for becoming an elder. However, “able to teach” in 1 Timothy 3:2 may not mean what you think it means. My guess is that when most people see the words “able to teach” as a qualification for an overseer (or … Continue reading Does an Elder Have to be “Able to Teach?” (1 Timothy 3:2)
Seven Favorite Christian Books of 2022
I read a lot of helpful Christian books this past year, but here are my seven favorites. Surprisingly, I read the first five before the end of January! Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament, by Mark Vroegop. The author first teaches how to lament, and then moves on to explain what we … Continue reading Seven Favorite Christian Books of 2022
Should You Pray to the Holy Spirit?
The short answer, I believe, is that there is nothing wrong with offering a prayer to the Holy Spirit since God the Spirit is, of course, fully God, just as is God the Father and God the Son. However, most prayers in the New Testament and in the church of the second and third centuries … Continue reading Should You Pray to the Holy Spirit?