Contextualization: An Evangelism Lesson from Saint Patrick

I’m a wee bit Irish so I get excited about cabbage and Shamrock shakes in the month of March. But, if you think today is only about the green fun, then read on!

Saint Patrick stood out in his time for his “contextualization” of the gospel. By that I mean he preached the gospel in a way that made sense to the people of Ireland.

The gospel itself doesn’t change; but we can and should be changing how we present the gospel. Read more

Christmas Movie Lessons: Home Alone

The comedy Home Alone stars 8-year-old Keven McAlister (Macaulay Culkin), who accidentally gets left at home when his family goes to Paris for Christmas. Sounds a little improbable, right? But if you’ve watched the movie, you know that it only gets more improbable from there.

Kevin fights off Harry and Marv—two dimwitted burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern)—with death defying booby traps. We all winced when Marv stepped on a nail barefoot and probably begin to wonder if they were really human after Harry’s head got burned by a blowtorch. But in the midst of all its farcical humor, some spiritual elements creep in. Read more

Christmas Movie Lessons: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

“Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,

At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more,

When he bares his teeth, winter meets its death,

And when he shakes his mane, we shall have spring again.”

― C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Over the years, I’ve come to see Christmas in a new light. Magical to me as a child. Mixed feelings during parts of my adulthood. Now, a time of hope and waiting.

The people of God have long been familiar with the concept of waiting. After the prophet Malachi concluded his message from the Lord, it was 400 years before the advent of Jesus the Messiah. Read more

What Christ’s Incarnation Means for Today

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While rereading the Christmas story, I’ve considered current events. The first Christmas wasn’t a pretty time either.

When the King of Heaven poured Himself into the womb of a virgin, He didn’t choose the richest mother. He chose a young girl whom Scripture suggests was among the poorest of the poor in Israel. A girl from Nazareth, the town where it was said “Nothing good comes out.” Read more

Birthday Reflections on Time

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“So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12) 

Time’s a funny thing. We who keep close track of our age, and even the number of months of a baby’s life, may lose track of the time we spend perusing Pinterest or checking our newsfeed.

It’s not hard to track how many days have passed. But ideally our tracking should serve a purpose–gaining a heart of wisdom. Spurgeon puts it this way:

“Numeration is a child’s exercise in arithmetic, but in order to number their days aright the best of men need the Lord’s teaching.”

Why gain wisdom? To know best how to spend the gift of time. To God be the glory!

Palm Sunday and Easter Musings

I recently wrote a devotion for a Holy Week guide put together by my church White Rock Fellowship. You can read the whole guide here: Holy Week Readings and Devotions.

But here is my portion pertaining to Palm Sunday:

Readings: Psalm 118; Zechariah 9:9–12; Matthew 21:1–11

Religious throngs trek upward to Jerusalem chanting psalms of ascent (Ps 120-134) on an annual pilgrimage. Longing for a Messiah to free them from Rome’s harsh rule, they sing words of hope.

They think about Jesus of Nazareth. Some say he’s a prophet, others claim he is the Messiah. But on this special day, Jesus reveals his own message for the crowd—he is the holy fulfillment of Zechariah 9—the humble Messiah riding a colt.

The crowds call out words indicating they recognize his claim of Messiahship: “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt 21:9).

They want a revolutionary Messiah and wave their branches with expectation. Branches like the ones waved in victory after the Maccabean revolt. Branches like the ones the Romans themselves gave to the winners in their games.

Yet, this Messiah doesn’t come gallivanting into Jerusalem on a noble stallion or brandishing chariots and weapons of war. Quite the contrary—he comes into town with a nursing donkey and her colt.

But they fail to understand. They recognize a key part of Jesus’ identity as Messiah, but they miss his main purpose in coming. Their definition of a savior doesn’t match up with his.

Many people of God still praise him with their lips, but true disciples recognize the deeper picture—before the victory, our Savior walked a dark path of agony.

Before the triumph must always come the cross.

Valentine’s Day Thoughts

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I love holidays and often feel a little blue in January after all the excitement of the Christmas season wears off. But then comes February with another exciting holiday to perk our spirits!

But I gotta say, our culture’s idea of love is far from ideal. And, the fact that a movie that glamorizes sexual violence comes out just in time for the Valentine Holiday ought to make all Christians pause.

In a world that has so many mistaken notions about love, how do we show true love?

I encourage you to check out this article I helped write for EvanTell on “13 Characteristics of Divine Love.”

Or, consider donating $50 toward a women’s shelter as part of the #50dollarsnot50shades campaign. You can read more about it here.