“I think, therefore I am.” René Descartes penned this popular line in his 1637 treatise, Discourse on the Method, and it’s a good summary of the book itself. Heralding the importance of scientific discoveries and the necessity of doubting one’s own view of the world, Descartes’ work is often considered the first domino to fall in what is now called the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment, with its explosion of scientific discoveries and philosophical arguments, had one task: to replace authority and tradition with reason and self-sufficiency.
For centuries, the existence of a divine being beyond our realm was largely assumed. When people talked of events in their lives such as miracles, disast…
Unclean spirits stir. Demonic thrones and dominions gather. Cosmic powers over this present darkness come to attention. And the devil himself, ready to devour and destroy, ignites his fiery darts and stretches his legs for the lion’s prowl.
As All Hallows’ Eve draws nigh, the spiritual forces of evil align, and Satan prepares his hordes for the party of the year — the grand harvest festival, celebration of darkness and death, when they pretend to be their strongest.
Halloween is almost here. But so is their final defeat. Jesus haunts their Halloween.
One Little Word
As the demonic rulers and authorities make ready, the one who sits in the heavens laughs (Psalm 2:4). To him, the devil is …
This is one of those really deep, common truths — one which Jonathan Edwards expounds with the intellectual horsepower of a genius, and to which our most common experience testifies:
Essential to our present joy is the anticipation of greater joy to come.
This is why, for example, the best part of going on vacation is often the day before we start it. The glad anticipation of what will be compounds in the present and gives us a good feeling. But the closer we get to the last day of vacation, the more the joy diminishes. Sound familiar?
In American culture, the weekend can be a miniature version of this experience. After five days of work, many of us look forward to two days off on Saturda…
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,…