A One-Question Survey for Christian 20-Somethings

This post is a supplement to yesterday’s Rethinking How We Present the Gospel.

I believe the responses to today’s post will help us all in regard to yesterday’s subject.

As I converse about the things of God with various believers and non believers in different age groups, I notice dramatic differences in the way each group sees the world.

This isn’t my observation alone. George Barna has done a lot of work underscoring the varying features of differing age groups.

Those of you who are in your 20s are the next generation. Thus I think it would benefit all Christians to better get their thumb on the pulse of your age group.

That said, if you’re a Christian in your 20s, please answer this question:[Continue Reading...]

Rethinking How We Present the Gospel

The gospel of Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

In Rethinking the Gospel, I shared briefly on the content of the gospel . . . as envisioned in the New Testament.

However, I believe the way that the gospel is presented should differ depending on the people with whom we share it.

This requires sensitivity to the Spirit and attention to the person’s heart. Jesus Christ didn’t present Himself the same way to everyone.

To some, He warned. To others, He rebuked. To some, He showed compassion and mercy. To some, He asked questions or told parables, etc.

Just examine the way He interacted with various people, and you’ll see monumental differences. In a much overlooked text, Jude describes it like this:[Continue Reading...]

Rethinking Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh

“There was given me a thorn in the flesh . . . ”

~ 2 Corinthians 12:7

For generations, Bible commentators have offered countless theories as to what Paul’s thorn in the flesh was. The most popular range from various and sundry illnesses (malaria, epilepsy, ophthalmia, etc.) to haunting guilt for persecuting the church to a sexual addiction that Paul never got victory over.

I’ve never found any of these common theories to be persuasive or satisfactory.

To my mind, if we take the text just as it is written and compare it with other texts that use similar language . . . and then step back to take a fresh look at the New Testament narrative in its chronological sequence . . . an entirely different picture emerges. One that I personally find compelling.

Let’s look first at the text carefully: [Continue Reading...]

Don’t Waste Your Time Being a Christian

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, I wasted my time being a high school student.

I skipped classes, did the least amount of work required to skirt by, quit baseball my junior year, earned a Ph.D in passing notes during lectures, and was never able to muster the courage to befriend the girl that I had a two-year crush on.

(Incidentally, I was a pitcher for my high school baseball team. And like many other young dudes, my dream was to play in the Majors. So when I saw this guy on TV for the first time, my first reaction was to pinch myself.)

Anyways, when the day came when many of my classmates were being rewarded with full-ride scholarships, I was crestfallen.

I had wasted my time as a high school student.

Well, dear Christian, you can do the same with your walk with the Lord.

You can waste your time as a Christian.[Continue Reading...]

Let Us Contemplate the Grape Vine

Let us contemplate the grape vine,
From its life now let us learn,
How its growth is fraught with suff’ring,
Midst environment so stern;
How unlike the untamed flowers
Growing in the wilderness
In a maze of wild confusion,
Making patterns numberless.

But the blossoms of the grape vine
Without glory are and small;
Though they do have some expression,
They are hardly seen withal.
But a day since they have flowered
Into fruit the blooms have grown;
Never may they wave corollas
With luxuriant beauty shown.[Continue Reading...]

My Top 5 Most Influential Books

Recently someone asked me what my top five books were – those that have influenced my life and ministry the most.

Juicing down all the books that have had an impact on me to just five is no small challenge. Especially in view of my Best 100 Christian Books Ever Written List.

After giving it some thought, however, I came up with these. Keep in mind that each one has a tie-breaker to match it!

1. The Normal Christian Life

2. The School of Christ

3. Ultimate Intention

4. The Stewardship of the Mystery

5. The Normal Christian Church Life

You may be wondering why my top 5 includes two books by two of the same authors. Well, if you read this post you’ll quickly discover why.[Continue Reading...]

20 Reasons Why the Christian Right & the Christian Left Won’t Adopt Me

Why the Christian Right Won’t Adopt Me

  1. Like F.F. Bruce, I believe words like “plenary” and “inerrant” are unnecessary when speaking about the truthfulness of Scripture.
  2. I don’t believe the Bible clearly addresses the question of the eternal destiny of those who have never heard or understood the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  3. I don’t believe Scripture answers every question posed to it. And there are many questions, including theological ones, which are shrouded in mystery.
  4. I believe that racism and sexism are serious problems in the USA and shouldn’t be viewed as “lesser” than other moral evils.
  5. I believe that slander, hatred, greed, and fits of rage are just as sinful as fornication and stealing (so did Paul – 1 Corinthians 6:10-11; Galatians 5:19-21).
  6. I don’t know whether to whistle or wind my watch, to laugh or cry at The American Patriot’s Bible.
  7. I believe that God loves the poor and taking care of them should be just as high a priority as other social issues, if not more.[Continue Reading...]

Rethinking Women in Ministry

I’m often asked the question, “What is your position on 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 where Paul seems to argue that a woman cannot speak or teach in a church meeting?”

Some years ago, I wrote a 20-page essay answering this question. It was originally slated to be a chapter in my book Reimagining Church, but the publisher said it couldn’t fit the page count. So a footnote was added in the book directing people to read the chapter online.

Over the last two decades, several good books have been published which have tackled the subject. But many Christians struggle with finding time to read. In such cases, a short essay consolidating the issues is easier fodder.

In my essay, Reimagining a Woman’s Role in the Church, I list a series of recommended books at the end which weigh deeper into the subject. Nevertheless, the essay covers the waterfront on the matter in a very small space.[Continue Reading...]

On Losing a Loved One

Three years ago I lost a close friend to Leukemia. I credit her for being the woman who taught me how to die.

I am aware of three Christian scholars who have written books on the subject of grief after losing a loved one.

C.S. Lewis wrote A Grief Observed after losing his beloved wife (Kindle Edition).

Nicholas Wolterstorff wrote Lament for a Son after losing his boy (Kindle Edition).

And very recently, my friend Ben Witherington and his wife Ann wrote When a Daughter Dies after losing their daughter.

ben witherington

In our day, grief is mostly privatized. But the ancients were different. They grieved in public.

All of the above embody human grief in written form. As such, they stand in the spirit of the ancients with a view to helping others handle their own grief and loss.[Continue Reading...]

Captivated by the Sight of Peerless Worth: Part III

Not the crushing of those idols

With its bitter void and smart

But the beaming of His beauty

The unveiling of His heart

~ Miss Ora Rowan

Jamal Jivanjee interviewed me about the message I delivered at the Momentum 2011 Conference. I’m publishing the interview here in three parts. This is Part III. The title of the post is fitting as you will see.

Jamal: One of the most stunning & breathtaking parts of this message was what you shared about how time and space relate to the person of Jesus Christ. I have never heard anything quite like this before. Here is a quote from the message that I would like for you to elaborate on a bit more: 

“He is the Alpha & Omega already.”[Continue Reading...]