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

Mother Mary Depicted through Art

I’ve seen several artistic renderings of Mary in museums depicting her with a sweet yet somber look. And of course, the golden halo and white shining skin. Probably not so realistic, right?

But I still love to look at this artwork because even when the skin color is wrong or the clothes are obviously from the wrong century, great artists know how to capture emotion. And it’s this emotion that often draws me into a picture, captivating me for a few splendid moments.

How marvelous though when an artist captures emotion in a realistic way—sometimes these images stay with you the rest of your life.

The artwork for Moody Bible Institute’s 2014 Candle Light Carols falls into such a category. It was done by the talented artist Bryan Butler. Take a look at his design for Moody here.

Book Review: Bread and Wine

bread and wineSitting around the table for dinner remains one of my favorite childhood memories. Something about eating together creates an atmosphere of relaxation and comfortability with one another. It was a time for talking and just being together.

Author Shauna Niequist writes about her love for food, cooking, and fellowship in “Bread & Wine: A Love Letter to Life Around the Table with Recipes.”

She reminds us of the importance of coming together to partake, “What’s becoming clearer and clearer to me is that the most sacred moments, the ones in which I feel God’s presence most profoundly, when I feel the goodness of the world most arrestingly, take place at the table. The particular alchemy of celebration and food, of connecting people and serving what I’ve made with my own hands, comes together as more than the sum of their parts.” Read more

Thoughts on “Autopsy of a Deceased Church”

I recently finished an interesting resource called “Autopsy of a Deceased Church,” where author Thom S. Rainer utilizes his many years of experience in church ministry as a pastor and consultant to write about common trends in declining churches.

Rainer divides his book into two parts: (1) The Autopsy and (2) Is There Hope for the Dying Church?

The first part begins with an introduction and then devotes the following chapters to 10 symptoms of a declining church: (1) slow erosion, (2) the past is the hero, (3) the church refused to look like the community, (4) the budget moved inwardly, (5) the great commission becomes the great omission, (6) the preference driven church, (7) pastoral tenure decreases, (8) the church rarely prayed together, (9) the church had no clear purpose, and (10) the church obsessed over facilities.

The second part focuses on what to do if your church shows symptoms of decline.

Larry Moyer, Founder and CEO of EvanTell and a regular reader of books on spiritual topics, sat down to share some of his reflections with me on Rainer’s recent book.

Who could benefit the most from reading “Autopsy of a Deceased Church?”
New pastors who want to know the pitfalls that often face the local church as well as seasoned pastors who sense something is wrong but not sure what. Read more

Responding to Those who Struggle with Injustice

I worked with EvanTell the past 4 years to help produce The Evangelism Study Bible (released this fall) and with EvanTell’s permission I am sharing a training article taken from Habakkuk.

How to Respond to Those Who Say, “Why Does God Allow so much Injustice?”
Habakkuk 1:1–4

We are not the first, and we won’t be the last. Habakkuk struggled with what everyone does at times, Christians and non-Christians alike. His struggle was basically twofold: “Why don’t you hear and why don’t you do something?” He wanted to know how long sin and injustice would abound while God seemed indifferent.

How do we respond when non-Christians ask a similar question: “Why is there so much injustice in the world?” They want to know why God doesn’t do something if He’s all-powerful and all-good. Read more

A Review of the “Sacrament of Evangelism”


sacrament of evangelism

The Sacrament of Evangelism by Jerry Root and Stan Guthrie presents “a way of looking at life and the world that is open to God’s presence everywhere.”[1] Their book avoids being another “how-to” book and instead focuses more on the motivating factor in evangelism—jumping on board with what God is already doing in the lives of people.

According to the authors, the word sacrament itself has the idea of “presence of God” but more specifically it often refers to the mutual effort of God’s grace and our response to divine grace. Read more