Christian preaching is not parroting.
As desirable as it is to copy a skilled communicator, and as unavoidable as it is to imitate those who have shaped us most, there is good reason for a preacher to find his own voice. Not vanity, but being true to what Christian preaching is.
Before it is heralding a message, preaching means first and foremost stewarding a message. Before we “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2), we should be devoted and unashamed students, “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). Before telling others what God has to say, we must hear his voice ourselves and deeply know his speaking.
What’s New About Christian Preaching
This relationship between studying an…
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (Colossians 3:16)
This verse from Colossians is so full of nourishment that there is no way to put the whole thing in our mouths at one time. It’s going to take a few blog bites to chew on it.
Today, all I want to do is chew on the first word: “let.” Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly.
Another way to say it is, don’t stop the word of Christ from filling you to satisfaction. Or stop stopping it.
Here’s the thing: we are frequently impoverished spiritually by our own not letting ourselves be rich. On o…
Jefferson Bethke has recently published Jesus > Religion: Why He Is So Much Better Than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough. The book’s title and content are inspired by his spoken-word video, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” which has been viewed 26 million times. Yes, 26 million.
Filled with Jefferson’s own story, the book is raw and authentic. It will engage many, especially young people, who have been hurt by or given up on the church. His conviction and passion are contagious and inspire hope for the next generation of Jesus-lovers and leaders. In the end, Jesus > Religion is about grace — unconditional, scandalous, glorious grace. And we all — every one of us …
What is the relationship between loving God and neighbor, and how can both Jesus and Paul say that loving our neighbor fulfills the law (Matthew 7:12; Romans 13:8; Galatians 5:14)? Isn’t love for God an even higher priority?
Moses helps us answer these questions in Deuteronomy 10:16–19, where he portrays a radical love of neighbor as the key test to measure whether we are loving God with all.
With an echo of the call to love God with all, Moses opens Deuteronomy 10 by calling Israel to maintain radical God-centeredness (Deuteronomy 10:12–13). Yahweh is always to be the blazing center in his people’s solar system. He then notes that such wholehearted, life-encompassing allegiance to God was…
Is it a sin for me to drink alcohol?
It could be, says Pastor John in today’s episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast.
“I’m a default teetotaler,” he says. “And what that means is if I have my choice, I don’t drink alcohol, but I might, to be a good guest. . . . But I don’t think anybody can make a case from Scripture that teetotalism is required.”
So what’s his case? Pastor John explains in today’s podcast (episode #200):
Also, this week we introduced Ask Pastor John podcast videos to YouTube — yes, videos. But if you’re expecting video footage of Pastor John answering questions, you’ll be sorely disappointed. We have taken the audio recording, set it to a photo, and m…
How is the gospel real to you? This was a question that I was asked in college.
As part of a campus ministry, I heard the word “gospel” thrown around a lot, but as for how it was real to me, that wasn’t as easy to explain. The short answer was that the gospel is real to me because it’s how God saved me. The truth of the gospel is alive to me because by it God made me alive. But as I looked closer at God’s work in my life, I began to notice a “tangible remnant” of Jesus’s love for me. It’s embedded deep in my story as a Hmong-American. Let me explain.
Meet the Hmong
If you’re familiar with the Twin Cities of Minnesota, you’ve heard about a people group called the Hmong (the H is silent). W…
Sometimes a whole world — a whole theology — hangs on a word.
Consider the word “this” in Ephesians 2:8. Does it refer to “faith” or “grace” or both? Is faith a gift of God?
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not from you; it is the gift of God.
What does “this” refer to? “And this is not from you; it is the gift of God.” What is its antecedent? The question is not settled by the fact that in Greek “this” is singular and neuter, while “grace” and “faith” are both feminine. “This” is just as ambiguous in Greek as it is in English.
Faith As a Gift
But consider these four pointers to seeing faith as a gift in Ephesians 2:8.
1. When Paul says “this is not from you,…
I dropped my son off at his school and yelled my usual through the rolled down window, “I love you. Make good choices. Obey your teacher.” As I began to roll up the window and drive away, my little first grader took his small hand to his mouth and blew me a kiss.
It was like everything stopped at that moment.
I realized how quickly this season would last. Would he blow me a kiss when he’s 16 years old? I don’t know. I blew him a kiss back and he waved to me, mouthing the words “Bye, Mom.” I was overwhelmed. I wished I could freeze that point in time.
I like to call my children sweet ragamuffins. Motherhood is challenging. My kids don’t obey me every time I ask them to …
The cows started writing on billboards in the Twin Cities metro earlier this year. End of Burgerz — Koming Soon.
These bovines can’t spell, but we got the message — especially those of us Minnesotans who are transplants from the South. Here comes Chick-fil-A, at long last. Time to Eat Mor Chikin.
Christian Roots and Controversy
It’s no secret the chain was founded by an unapologetic Christian from the Atlanta-area. Now in his nineties, Truett Cathy has operated his restaurants on overtly Christian principles since the 1940s. His son, Dan, the franchise president, is known for his support of Christian causes and his opposition to so-called same-sex marriage, which drew national attention l…
Either Jesus died to save his church or he didn’t. There isn’t a third option.
Either he gave himself up for his bride, as Ephesians 5:25 tells us, or he died to create the possibility of her salvation that depends upon the skills of human decision-making.
Are we dead in our sins, as Ephesians 2:1–3 says, or are we slightly impaired? Are we “far from the peaceful shore” or are we gone, sunken to the bottom of the ocean with no chance of resuscitation? Does God toss us a floatation device, or does he raise us from the dead?
Was the cross of Christ a triumph over sin and evil, as Colossians 2:14–15 says, or was it just a nice first-move? Is Jesus victorious for the sake of his church, or di…