When Have Been the Most Sorrowful Times of Your Life?

This probing question was asked me by a young man with whom I was spending regular mentoring times a few years ago. Now, I cannot answer the question for you today with specifics (though I tried to for my younger friend). But there is one insight about suffering that came out of that discussion that … Continue reading When Have Been the Most Sorrowful Times of Your Life?

Quarrelsome, Argumentative, and Angry Church Leaders

“Which qualifications for leadership have you observed are the least-emphasized when church leaders are appointed to their offices?” This is a question I sometimes ask my students when I teach a class called Life & Letters of Paul. As my students read through the qualifications for overseers/elders in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, they … Continue reading Quarrelsome, Argumentative, and Angry Church Leaders

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

Church Bells, Biblical Bells, and Redemption

In the Christian world, at least before the advent of modern telecommunications, church bells were the most common way of reminding Christians that a worship service was about to begin. But there is another kind of bell—a “bell that goes off in your head”—that is really useful when you read the Bible. For years I’ve … Continue reading Church Bells, Biblical Bells, and Redemption

Why You Shouldn’t Tell Your Children that Santa Claus is Real

A few evenings ago, we hosted a delightful group of ten Biola students at our house for dinner. During dessert, we launched into a lively discussion about how we should celebrate Christmas as Christians. We discussed various sub-topics under this broader question, but we spent the largest portion of our time talking about how Christians should—and … Continue reading Why You Shouldn’t Tell Your Children that Santa Claus is Real

One Thing You Can Do to Improve the Way You Pray for Other Christians

Do you ever struggle to know how to pray for other Christians? One possible (and common) approach is simply to pray for whatever people ask you to pray. That’s fine, as far as it goes, and we do see the Apostle Paul sometimes asking people to pray for him (Col 4:3; 1 Thess 5:25). Another … Continue reading One Thing You Can Do to Improve the Way You Pray for Other Christians

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

Advocating for Biblical Literacy

I just returned from a weekend in Philadelphia where I spent two days with individuals and organizations laboring to counter a dangerous pandemic. No, not that pandemic…. I’m talking about the pandemic of biblical illiteracy. I enjoyed numerous conversations with some really dedicated Christians who are on a mission to address a pandemic that ultimately … Continue reading Advocating for Biblical Literacy

Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you…” Do these verses apply to us…or not?

It has become increasingly popular in recent years for teachers of the Bible (myself included) to disparage people who apply Jeremiah 29:11-13 to their lives. “You’re not paying attention to the context!” they loudly protest (…as I have). This post will explore whether such disparagement is appropriate, and conclude that often it is not. I … Continue reading Jeremiah 29:11-13: “For I know the plans I have for you…” Do these verses apply to us…or not?

How Wide is the Sphere of Ministry God has Given You?

After an extended time of prayer in the mountains last year, I left with one perspective that has proven extremely helpful to me. Here is that perspective: God has apportioned to each of us who are part of his kingdom not only specific ministries to build up the church and extend God’s kingdom work in … Continue reading How Wide is the Sphere of Ministry God has Given You?