What is “Contextualization”? What is “Syncretism”? Guidance from the Apostle Paul

Contextualization is putting the gospel into cultural forms that are easier for recipients to understand and receive without changing the gospel. Syncretism is mixing the gospel with false philosophical or religious ideas, resulting in the gospel message getting changed or substantially diluted. Contextualization is good and necessary. Syncretism is dangerous and should be avoided. Although … Continue reading What is “Contextualization”? What is “Syncretism”? Guidance from the Apostle Paul

What is a “Stronghold”? (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

“We pray against this stronghold…” Have you ever heard someone utter this line in prayer—or have you uttered it yourself? If you have ever used this expression, what did you mean when you used it? What is a “stronghold”? The answer to this question depends upon 1) whether you are trying to define the word … Continue reading What is a “Stronghold”? (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

Would You Believe If God Gave You a Miracle?

“If only God showed me an extraordinary miracle, I would believe.” Really? Are you sure that you would actually start believing in the existence of God and in what he has said about his Son Jesus Christ if you experienced a dramatic miracle? I think such an assumption is highly questionable. My skepticism is not … Continue reading Would You Believe If God Gave You a Miracle?

Stay or Leave? How Should a Christian Missionary Respond to Death Threats?

I recently received an email from a former student living in a challenging country in the Middle East. He asked me a question that I would assume most of you have never had to answer. His question was: What do we do if we receive death threats? He asked this question because he remembered that … Continue reading Stay or Leave? How Should a Christian Missionary Respond to Death Threats?

Christian Hospitality

My wife is remarkably hospitable—far more than I. For ten straight years at her instigation, we invited all of my enrolled college students over every week during the academic year for dinner and spiritual conversation. (Fortunately, it never happened that they all showed up on the same evening. Whew!) We have scaled back a bit … Continue reading Christian Hospitality

Seven Favorite Christian Books of 2021

I read quite a few good Christian books in 2021. Here are seven of my favorites, plus a bonus book. Insider Church: Ekklesia and the Insider Paradigm, by S. T. Antonio. What should a church composed of Muslim-background believers in Jesus look like? How contextualized can/should such a church be? Solid and readable Christian ecclesiology … Continue reading Seven Favorite Christian Books of 2021

Modern Miracles: A Short Book Review

There is no better time than Christmastime to read a book about miracles, is there? I have just finished reading Craig Keener’s new book: Miracles Today: The supernatural work of God in the modern world. But this book is not about miracles that took place in the first century (see his outstanding two-volume tome Miracles … Continue reading Modern Miracles: A Short Book Review

A Truly Beautiful Devotional Book

I recently read through Stephen Payne’s new devotional book, I Lift my Eyes to the Hills: God’s Help in Times of Trouble. Steve is a former college housemate and long-time friend. He sent me an advanced copy. What makes this book different from other devotional books you may have read in the past is that … Continue reading A Truly Beautiful Devotional Book

What is an “Open Door”?

Not every door that appears to be is an open door. And not every door that appears to be closed is a closed door. Just because a ministry setting looks like it’s going to be hard doesn’t mean that it is a closed door. For the Apostle Paul, an open door was a God-given opportunity … Continue reading What is an “Open Door”?

Tattoos and Biblical Greek

A few years ago, a delightful young college student came up to me and asked, “Would you like to see my tattoo?” “Um…OK,” I mumbled, somewhat unsure of where on her body the tattoo might be located. She lifted her long hair so I could see what was engraved on the nape of her neck. … Continue reading Tattoos and Biblical Greek