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Category: Church Life

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Where does inspiration come from? Where does the motivation to use one’s gifts and passions to make a difference begin? Jane Goodall said, “What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” Are we the source of action or does that spark come from something else? I would like to propose God is the beginning of movements that bring change; history is the record of mankind’s response to the divine prompting ...

  • Karin Stetina — 

    What is my purpose in life? This is a question that plagues each and every one of us. The Westminster confession puts the question this way: "What is the chief and highest end of man?" Countless books and blogs have addressed this question. But are we really asking the right question? ...

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    Kenneth Berding (Professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology) recently wrote and published The Apostolic Fathers: A Narrative Introduction. We wanted to learn more about this book, so we had Ken respond to some questions ...

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    Is the church here to help me to grow in Christ as an individual? Or has God put me here to help the church grow both qualitatively and quantitatively? The easy answer is “Both!” And that’s not completely wrong. But the early Christians clearly prioritized the health and growth of God’s community over the goals and desires of individual believers. This group-first mentality is not only characterized the early church, it characterized family life throughout the ancient Mediterranean world. This is why families arranged marriages. The goal of marriage in the ancient world was the not relational satisfaction of the individuals involved. It was the honor and ongoing viability of the two families who brokered the marriage. The group — in this case the family — came first ...

  • Mark Saucy — 

    The recent welcome of Evangelical radio apologist, “The Bible Answer Man” —Hank Hanegraaff, into the Greek Orthodox Church has understandably raised more than eyebrows. Questions about the differences between Protestants and Orthodox have been coming my way in the aftermath, so I want to offer to Good Book Blog readers an essay I wrote for Talbot’s Sundoulos magazine back in 2008. In it you’ll find some general characteristics of the Orthodox denomination as well as key points of difference with Protestants—some of which converts such as Hank Hanegraaff would typically need to renounce as they formally enter Orthodoxy ...

  • John McKinley — 

    Romans 6:5-6 has puzzled me by the statement that the believer has in effect already been crucified with Christ. “For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin.” (nasb) My problem may have been that I viewed the crucifixion of my “old self” as having been accomplished entirely in the past, at my conversion. We are to “consider [ourselves] to be dead to sin” (6:11) so that we respond by denying the impulses and attractions to sin that (unfortunately) continue throughout this life. In practice, I have liked the idea of knowing that I am no longer a slave to sin, that I am not obligated to give in to temptations, and that I have a new capability from the Holy Spirit to live as God calls me to do. Is there importance of crucifixion for understanding my present condition? ...

  • John McKinley — 

    As the second part in this post on four protections to create a safe relational space for small groups, here I focus on the fourth condition. This fourth condition has four pieces to it for limiting communication that tends to shut people down. The goal is to be able to accept others as they are, with their true sharing of their real mess in daily life as a Christian. Often we can get in our own way and so fail to love them in this way because we are so busy with the speck of sawdust in their eye. In a sentence, this four-part fourth condition is the log in our eyes that prevents meeting with others.

  • John McKinley — 

    Small talk. Bible study talk. Prayer requests. Sports, kids, and work talk. When and how do we get to meaningful fellowship of sharing with other Christians what God is doing in our lives? Are there conditions in small groups that help people to share their lives with others? Are there conditions that cause people to clam up and stick to the safe details of a public persona? ...

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    When we say “He is risen. He is risen indeed!” we are not merely stating a remarkable historical fact, not merely expressing our shared doctrine, not merely standing in line with a long tradition of hope. We are doing all of that. But we are doing more. We are joining the great protest chant against all the dehumanization, death, and decay of the present age and heralding, here and now, the subversive breaking in of the glorious age to come in the resurrected Jesus.

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    What happened on Good Friday is so scandalous and profound that the Bible does not limit itself to a single explanation. Dutch theologian, Herman Bavinck, explains, “[T]he work of Christ is so multifaceted that it cannot be captured in a single word nor summarized in a single formula." “Multifaceted” is exactly the right word for the cross. It brings to mind the image of a giant deep-cut diamond, a unity with a multiple facets, each refracting rays off and through the other. Let’s take one lap around this flawless wonder and look at six things to celebrate this Friday and every day...

  • James Petitfils — 

    Don’t you just hate it/love it when a book takes a long-standing ministry practice or cultural disposition you’ve unwittingly nurtured and totally applies the ol’ command-option-esc (or control-alt-delete to be P.C.) to completely reset things? A text I’ve been reading for the Kern Reading group at Talbot School of Theology--namely, Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert’s, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor...and Yourself (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012)--just pulled this on me. Let me explain ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Have you ever experienced pain from someone you deeply love? I have. Few things in life are harder. The hurt penetrates even deeper when the person who has spurned you also turns his back on the Lord. Following is a list I drew up in my journal some time ago during a period when I was facing rejection from someone I deeply loved. This list helped me remember that there are examples in the Bible of others before me who experienced relational pain from close family members, friends, or mentees, but who continued to look to the Lord in the midst of their sorrow ...

  • Dave Keehn — 

    With the globalization of everything in today’s society, the concept that the whole world is my “neighbor” to love (i.e. help) is a valid mindset. I can see images of impoverished children on my phone; I can visit communities with economic challenges on the other side of the globe through international travel. Organizations such as ONE (whose celebrity advocate Bono rallies millions of his fans to sign its petitions and give money at U2 concerts) and Compassion International (which enlists millions of church-goers to sponsor a child in need by allowing a donor to see pictures of the children and pick the child based on looks and/or the desired country the person is drawn to) have rallied countless Christians and non-Christians alike to eliminate poverty in our lifetime. All of these streams of conscious-searing “voices” call me to get involved to help the less fortunate, which I can do, they say, “with minimal effort” on my part: simply give a few dollars a month, about the same amount I spend on coffee each week. So how can I resist this simple call to help? ...

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    Israel cried out, “Give us a king!” (1 Samuel 8:6). Against his will, God gave his people what they wanted. A real superstar. Saul was the handsomest and tallest man around (9:2). That didn’t work out very well, did it? It never does ...

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    Los cristianos son seguidores de Jesucristo. La palabra que se usaba en los tiempos de Jesús para designar a sus seguidores es discípulos. Por lo tanto, ser un cristiano es ser un discípulo de Cristo (Hechos 11:26). En Lucas 14:25-35, y en otros pasajes más, Jesús establece los requisitos para los que quieran ser sus discípulos. Grandes multitudes le seguían asombradas de su mensaje y autoridad. Sin embargo, Jesús no estaba complacido solamente con que mucha gente le siguiera sino que él deseaba que aquellos que tomaran la decisión de hacerlo, lo hicieran de acuerdo a unas normas específicas. Así que, Jesús se detuvo y delineó en esta ocasión cuatro características indispensables para sus seguidores. Para ser un buen cristiano o discípulo de Cristo es necesario cumplir con las condiciones que Jesucristo indica.

  • David Talley — 

    Recently, I learned of a book, and for some reason I felt like I knew the author. So I did some searching and found the website for the church where the author now serves. His bio confirmed the connection. He had graduated from Biola University with a B.A. in Music in 2002 . Since the town I call home (Birmingham, Alabama) is where his church is located, I decided to pick up the book, flip through it, and then get together with him so I could congratulate him on his book. For no particular reason, I was not really expecting to benefit from reading the book. My goal was simply to be an encouragement to one of our graduates. But I did not just flip through the book. I found myself reading each chapter closely because this book was thoughtful, well-written, informative, and full of wise and reflective teaching ...

  • Daniel Kim — 

    Undoubtedly, Christians in America should be commended for the growth of missions in the last two to three decades, and specifically the growth in short-term mission trips (STMs). In 1989, there were 120,000 American “short-term missionaries.” This number has exploded to 2.2 million at a cost of $1.6 billion in 2006.[1] This statistic comes from authors Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert in their somewhat controversial book, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor … and Yourself. The natural question that the authors consider—and one that we all should as well—is whether we are being good stewards of God’s money and resources with each STM.

  • Freddy Cardoza — 

    The grind of the 9 to 5 work life has perplexed many a believer who sometimes stops to wonder, “Is this all there is?” No doubt, since the Fall of Humanity (Genesis 3), work has indeed become something altogether different than God intended prior to our expulsion from Eden. Even so, many believers may come to wrongly conclude that work is, well, just “work.” But nothing could be further from the truth. Work matters ...

  • John McKinley — 

    The story that follows is a parable of human experience as essentially relational. People are individuals and vitally connected to others. Everyone lives according to relationships. The overemphasis on our individuality is misleading so that we ignore the ways that other people affect us in beneficial and disabling ways. This parable is an illustration of one sort of benefits and damages through being generated in families ...

  • Gary McIntosh — 

    A number of years ago, professor Robert Munger of Fuller Theological Seminary conducted a survey to determine the satisfaction of board members. One of the questions he asked was, “Since serving on a church board, do you feel your spiritual life has improved or declined?” The answer? Eighty percent of board members said their spiritual life had declined while serving on a church board. How would you answer that question? Unfortunately, for many board members, the answer is not positive ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Actually, there are lots of ways to kill a prayer meeting. Display bitterness or hostility to someone just before you start praying; that’s sure to do the job. Or thoughtlessly rush into a prayer meeting, without any spiritual preparation, cracking jokes up until the moment you bow your head. That, too, has a good chance of killing a prayer meeting ...

  • John McKinley — 

    Does God speak to Christians in dreams or in our hearts? If we have never had this experience, then are we missing something and should expect it? Is there a danger of relying on a personal word from God instead of looking to the definite word of God given as the Bible? ...

  • Karin Stetina — 

    What is the purpose of life? How does work fit into the purpose? As a college student I spent many hours contemplating these important questions and many others, such as: Do we have free will or are we predestined? What is the best form of worship- hymns or praise songs? How many angels can dance on the head of a pin? Maybe you have asked some of these same burning questions? ...

  • Mark Saucy — 

    ... The topic is work. Something important for all of us, and it’s one that has interested me in particular teaching already five years now a theology of work course for Biola’s Crowell School of Business MBA program. Work is also a topic that naturally engages the desire for kingdom impact in the culture, because, as Karl Barth says, “human culture is produced in work. So the Faith and Work movement is right on target for engaging a ready audience in a worthy endeavor. This of course isn’t the only good of theology of work ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I started the New Year by worshiping, fellowshipping, and preaching at Taft Avenue Community Church in Orange, California. At one point in the service, Pastor Bob Burris read aloud a short explanation of why Christians sing during times of worship. I appreciated what he read and want to share it with you today. The reading was adapted from a blog post by Kevin DeYoung, cut down to a length that could be used in a worship service. Why do we sing when we worship together?