A Minister’s Sin: Treading the Path toward Redemption

  In the life of the church we become well-acquainted with sin (How is that for an encouraging way to start this post?). This is especially true for church leaders and ministers. For the sinner, we encourage confession and repentance, and for the church, a path toward redemption and reconciliation by way of forgiveness – all of which we see enacted through the practice of baptism. Oftentimes, for the “outsider sinner,” the non-Christian who comes to begin this journey, the church is quick to joyfully accept their confession and welcome them into the body (Daniel Napier and Todd Hall both note the “rush to the water” in their … [Read more...]

Christian Encounters with other Cultures & Faiths

What does it mean for Christians to encounter adherents of other religious traditions? Living in an ambulatory, pluralistic world such intersections are inevitable. While these encounters were less frequent in the past due to more limited mobility, this is no longer true. We can circumnavigate the globe quickly and with relative ease via commercial air carriers. In addition, social media has created the possibility of communicating with the vast majority of people on the planet. Given this reality, it is vital for Christians who serve or intend to serve in ministry—along with any others who have the slightest evangelistic bent—to prepare … [Read more...]

How To Become A Person With Soul In The Game

In his provocative book, Antifragile, Things That Gain From Disorder, Nassim Taleb describes three types of people in society (p. 376-377).  There are those who are described as having “no skin in the game.” According to Taleb, these are those who seek to benefit from others, regardless of the harm that might be caused.  A second type of person is described as having “skin in the game.”  Those with skin in the game assume their own risks and neither benefit from nor harm others.  A third type of person in society is described as having “soul in the game.”  These people are willing to take risks on behalf of … [Read more...]

Helping Veterans on the Road to Healing

At the risk of oversimplifying, Christians have at their disposal at least three ethical views concerning the use of force, namely, pacifism, Christian realism, and the just war tradition.  To be sure each of these views has various shades.  There are pacifists with just war sympathies, just warriors with realist tendencies, etc.  The issues surrounding the ethical use of force, or if the use of force is even ethical at all, are both highly nuanced and very important.  The debates between the various proponents of these views in academia have become rather complex and, at times, nasty.  One simply needs to do a search … [Read more...]

Got Milk? Finding Words to Nourish a Seeker

Where does one begin in sharing the faith with a seeker? We’ve all asked the question. Perhaps it flashed through your mind as you sat across a coffee table from a friend. He unexpectedly expressed curiosity about our devotion. “Where do I start? What should I say?” It’s an important question. Fortunately, we don’t have to make up our own answer. There is biblical guidance. Early Jesus-followers employed a particularly telling metaphor complex to name the first instruction offered to seekers. Multiple authors of the New Testament (Paul, Hebrews, Peter) use the teaching as milk metaphor. In this post I unpack it in search of wisdom for … [Read more...]

Ministry in the Next Generation

I am not sure what started this but a few days ago I began to recall my first sermon. I do not remember its exact date; but almost 60 years have passed since that time. It was a Sunday evening and I preached the sermon to a congregation of about twenty-five or thirty at my home church in Australia. Although mainly inauspicious and uneventful I do have one lasting recollection. When I came to the end of my notes and what I had prepared to say it seemed like I was only speaking for about five minutes. Anxiously I looked up at the clock on the wall. Somewhat relieved I observed that over twenty minutes had gone by since I began to … [Read more...]

Dare to know God

Jesus redefines reality for us. God is still at work in our world, Jesus says, and he invites us to walk with God. (‘The kingdom of God is near you’ and all are invited to ‘enter into the kingdom’.) Since we’re not accustomed to seeing God all around us, it’s natural to feel a little skeptical. So I want to ask the obvious, but crucial question. How can I know God?  … [Read more...]

Jesus’ Way Beyond Pride: Growing in Humility

My last post examined Jesus’ teaching concerning the nature of pride from Luke 18:9-14. We’ve all heard sermons against pride and know it is something we should avoid. However, too seldom do we receive accompanying teaching for growth in humility. We know we ought to be humble. However, we might not know how to grow in humility or adequately understand what has prevented us from doing so. In this post I’ll focus on the positive or growing side of the equation. Let’s begin with some troubleshooting at the level of thought. Two prevalent assumptions – unspoken ideas in our culture – often block us from growing in humility. Perhaps it would … [Read more...]

How to See God’s Help (Luke 16)

How do we know a blessing when we see one? What does it look like when God comes to one’s aid? These are the questions I would like to explore in this post. Typically, we assume that a blessing is easy to spot. It’s a no-brainer. Just look at what feels good! Blessings are what happen when your boss gives you a raise, or a big return comes back on an investment. God is blessing a person when her stocks are high and his cholesterol’s low, when their childrens’ teeth come out straight, and they grow into adulthood with two well-defined eyebrows. Blessing equals comfort, ease, and social esteem. Period. Or, does it? … [Read more...]

Learn about Ancient Roman Bath Houses

An important and interesting event during the March 9-20, 2016 Israel archaeological study tour was restoration work on the third century A. D. Roman bath house at Tamar. Tamar is an ancient site, 40 km. southwest of the Dead Sea, on the edge of the Arabah Valley in the Negev Desert of Israel. A large fortress was located there in Roman times, part of the Roman limes, border fortresses on the edge of Arabia and the limit of Roman control in the eastern part of the empire. An interesting, and ubiquitous, aspect of Roman culture was the construction of bath houses wherever in the empire Romans lived and congregated. The one at Tamar is … [Read more...]