Why We Need the Whole Bible

One time I talked to a believer frustrated with his Christian radio station. Now, if I said nothing else, you might assume he wanted the station to play more music, or that he disagreed with some doctrinal point covered in a sermon. But if you thought either of those things, you’d be wrong.

He simply didn’t like that some of the radio pastors preached from the Old Testament, because (from his perspective) only sermons from the New Testament are truly edifying.

A few weeks later someone in my small group spoke up with concerns over our pastor’s current sermon series. Only this time it wasn’t just the Old Testament that was the problem, it was the Pauline epistles as well. According to him, pastors should primarily preach from the Gospel accounts of Christ because that is what would help us evangelize better.

I wondered how and when the church had gotten so off tract that its members fail to see the value of each divinely inspired book, both in the Old and New Testaments.

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God’s Glory Found in Nature & Poetry

leaf_cropWhen the Old Testament speaks of God’s glory, it usually refers to a visible manifestation of God. For example, the stories of the tabernacle in Exodus or of Ezekiel’s vision of the temple, both expressing God’s intent to dwell among men.

But it’s also related to God’s self-disclosure to humanity. For example, the psalmist wrote, “The Heavens declare the glory of God” (19:1). Read more

Is the God of the Old Testament Merciless?

canaanite genocideI had the privilege of serving as an editor for the recently released Evangelism Study Bible done by EvanTell and Kregel. I thought the following article taken from the ESB ties in well with this week’s theme.

In his review of the law in Deuteronomy 20, Moses set out specific instructions regarding the conduct of war by Israel. The goal of conquest was not to kill a city’s inhabitants, but to obtain its peaceful surrender and subsequent service as a vassal (20:10–11). Only if a city resisted and fought back were the Israelites to destroy its army and take the city captive (20:13–15). Read more

The Old Testament and Apologetics

canaanite genocide

The next few weeks I’m changing themes from misunderstood biblical characters to Old Testament apologetics, specifically looking at some concepts or passages in the OT that often trouble people.

This week I’ll begin by looking at the issue of “the Canaanite Genocide.” In the book of Joshua, God commanded the Israelites to destroy the Canaanite cities and slaughter the inhabitants—including men, women, and children. Stories like this tend to offend our moral sensibilities and may turn away non-Christians from our faith. So, how should Christians respond?

I believe we need to approach topics like this with great care. This includes careful reflection and deliberation as we engage with our culture.

5 Tips for Church Greeters

I’ve written a number of blog posts over the past few years, but by far my most popular post was one for blogs.bible.org called “Making Visitors Feel Welcome (Part 1): The Greeters.”

The response astounded me—68,000+ views, multiple tweets & Facebook shares, and many comments from people sharing their own awkward stories and experiences. Who knew this was such a popular topic? It made me realize even more so the importance of good church greeters. 

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A Starbucks Parable and Church Visitors

Sometimes we get so wrapped up in our own church bubbles, that we miss how uncomfortable we sometimes make it for visitors.

I recently viewed a short clip called “What If Starbucks Marketed Like a Church? A Parable.

Part of the genius of this video is its setting. When elements of church life are put into a satirical coffee shop story, it suddenly becomes easier to recognize those awkward moments in our own churches. Read more

Teaching Our Children the Importance of Attending Church

Author Shane Claiborne has said: “The church is like Noah’s ark. It stinks, but if you get out of it, you’ll drown.”

Simply put, church can get messy. And, that’s probably part of the reason why I’ve heard many of my fellow millennials make excuses for avoiding church—“I’m too busy,” “I’ve been hurt by other Christians,” “churches are full of judgmental people,” “people are hypocrites or insincere,” etc. Read more

An Introduction to This Week’s Series on “Church Attendance”

One time as I ate my McDonald’s fries, my dad ran into an old friend. Somehow the conversation progressed to the topic of why this friend no longer went to church.

“I still read my Bible, “ he said. “I just don’t think I really need church anymore.”

Before getting in our car, my dad left him with a passage he wanted him to think about: “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24–25).

I don’t know whatever happened regarding the church attendance of my dad’s friend, but that day I stopped and considered the importance of church.

Does it really matter? Can’t we still love Christ without loving the church?

Many in my generation say that church isn’t important. You don’t have to look far to see that millennials and churches don’t always see eye to eye. Barna wrote an informative article on this topic called “Six Reasons Young People Leave the Church.”

But it is not just millennnials who struggle with church attendance. Many older people, like my dad’s friend, do as well.

This week I am taking a brief look on my blog at the importance of attending a church as well as a few ways that churches can be more welcoming of visitors.