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...]

In the Face of Death: The Meaning of “Faith” in Christian life

My grandmother, Juanita Saxon, went to sleep in the Lord in May of this year. She passed after a long, strenuous battle with congestive heart failure (and other ailments). My grandmother was (as was my grandfather, “Pop”), to me, the very picture of Christian faithfulness. By her last breath she had fully formed her life into the image of her Lord, sharing in his passion in her own (as must we all), and finding herself finally to be alive and ready to be at rest in him. I was with her during the time of her passion, with my family. Seeing her suffer and then pass into her rest has been the cause for much reflection for me. Perhaps most … [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...]

Politics, the Professor (or Preacher, or Pastor), and the Person in the Pew

This paper was presented at the Christian Scholars’ Conference on the campus of Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, in a session on 8 June 2017 on the topic “Bridging the Divide: Addressing the Gap between the Church and the Academy,” convened by Brandon Pierce of the Church of Christ in Stamford, Connecticut, and Paul Watson of the Cole Mill Road Church of Christ in Durham, North Carolina.  I am grateful for the invitation to present the paper and for the encouraging response of conference attendees, including those of differing political persuasions. My reflections today mainly concern one narrow aspect of the gap between … [Read more...]

3 Challenges of the Church after “Gay Marriage” Law

In order to  set out the challenge of kingdom living  at this time consider the following: The kingdom of God has come in Jesus Christ the Lord right in on top of the kingdoms of this world. We live in the tension of the “now and the not yet” of the kingdom of God. This means the  U. S. Constitution  is not our  Bible; the pledge of allegiance does not replace or even rival the confession “Jesus is Lord;” the U.S.  is not  the  light-filled church community sitting on the hill; the Declaration of Independence is not our call to discipleship; we do not live to pursue happiness, but to pursue the kingdom. … [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...]

Three Seminary Students + a Professor Get Personal

When friends of Austin Grad gather in April and again in October of each year, it is always encouraging and inspirational.  It is difficult to ascertain which part of the program is the highlight for those in attendance.  From the opening devotional period, to the presentation by Austin Grad students, to the faculty academic presentation, friends of Austin Grad participate enthusiastically and listen attentively as the testimonies and presentations enrich the thoughts of each.  On Saturday, April 22, 2017, the Spring Friends' Day occurred at Austin Grad.  It began with a welcome by President Stan Reid and transitioned … [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...]

“Don’t Judge” and other Ironies

Perhaps the greatest irony of our present age is the absolute moralism of a culture which rails against institutionalized morality. “Don’t force your morality on me” is often uttered in complete sincerity and without a hint of irony. Increasingly in our contemporary world, this commitment to the morality of moral relativism is becoming manifest in the church. And as has always been the case, there’s “no Catholic like a convert.” One can often see in the language of these converts to the new morality of the West all the righteousness of the raging prophets, dealing out the fiery judgment of God against those who would dare to “judge others.” … [Read more...]

Man to Man about Lust and Love

I suspect no text in Holy Scripture has given me more problems or produced more guilt than this one: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman to lust after her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better for you that one of your members be lost than your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better for you that one of your members be lost than for your whole body to go into hell” (Matthew … [Read more...]