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Church Life Articles

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    It’s time we stopped reading, buying, and recommending The Message. We who hold to a high view of Scripture—that the Bible is the very word of God, inspired by God, inerrant in all it affirms—need to carefully reconsider our use of The Message. There actually wouldn’t be a problem at all if The Message were sold and treated as an interpretation of the Bible, or an expansive reading of the Bible. But as long as The Message continues to be marketed and used by preachers and teachers as a Bible translation, it is imperative that we ask the question of whether it is an accurate translation or not. I believe that the answer to this question is: The Message is not an accurate translation of what the original authors wrote.

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    “Todos somos Marcos” se convirtió en una popular frase en México y en muchos lugares del mundo. El primero de enero de 1994 el denominado Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional inició una lucha armada en el estado de Chiapas en el sur de México. El subcomandante Marcos era el líder de este movimiento que buscaba justicia, trabajo justo y equitativo entre otras demandas básicas. El subcomandante Marcos se convirtió en un personaje carismático y enigmático porque tenía un pasamontañas que cubría su identidad. Para protegerlo y para identificarse con las demandas de este movimiento muchas personas empezaron a decir “todos somos Marcos” y de esta manera borrar las diferencias entre esta persona y ellos mismos ...

  • Karin Stetina — 

    In Scripture God bids us to “love our neighbor” no fewer than eleven times. Yet centuries later the church still struggles with its calling to do so. From the pulpit to the pew, Christians interpret this command in a variety of ways. In his book Word vs. Deed, Dr. Duane Litfin, president emeritus of Wheaton College, addresses this struggle writing, “The gospel is inherently a verbal thing, and preaching the gospel is inherently a verbal behavior. If the gospel is to be preached at all, it must be put into words” (20). Though this is not a new topic in theology, the Evangelical church in the West is seeing the urgent necessity to find the balance between word and deed in the dynamic culture of the 21st century. The church is more aware than ever of the pressing needs of the world. Technology has given us unprecedented access to seeing the physical, emotional, and spiritual needs that exist worldwide. On our smart phones and computers we can watch natural disasters destroy cities and wars and violence destroy lives. While knowledge of the needs of the world is growing, there is a great necessity to understand how the church is to respond. What is the biblical view of how the church is to care for others, particularly in light of the growing awareness of the pressing needs both near and far? ...

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    ... Todos los seres humanos somos creados a la imagen y semejanza de Dios (Gen. 1:27). La imagen de Dios es la base fundamental de nuestro valor y dignidad. Por la gracia divina podemos representarlo y todos los hombres y mujeres somos la corona de la creación (Salmo 8). Nuestro color de piel es insignificante para determinar nuestro valor o esencia. Desgraciadamente lo que debería ser una muestra de la belleza de la diversidad de la creación divina para muchos se ha convertido en una forma de señalar y discriminar a otros que son diferentes a ellos ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I was serving as a worship pastor in a church in one of New York City’s suburbs when the attacks of September 11, 2001 were launched. Soon after the attacks, a small contingent of vocal church members began to demand that we start to sing American patriotic songs during our worship services. That suggestion didn’t sit well with me so I began trying to work through some of the relevant theological and practical questions one by one. I wrote these questions and answers on September 29, 2001, only 18 days after the attack on the World Trade Towers in New York City. The following is by no means the final word on the question, but it might provide categories you can use to think through this subject for yourself ...

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Images of extreme poverty motivate those with financial resources to donate their money to help alleviate poverty; or that is what the producers of the images hope occurs. However, reducing the terrible and often deadly ramifications of poverty is not as simple as signing the ONE petition or buying RED products (both of which I have done). The problem is also not as straightforward as the global 1% of wealth (the “haves”) giving of their means as handouts to the “have-nots.” The position of wealth in the Global West often leads to a mentality that says we know what is best for the Global Rest – we assume that if they just do what we did then they will get the same results. However, this classification of foreign aid ignores the resources of the Global Poor and their local churches, and instead creates an unhealthy dependency on handouts undermining the dignity of the materially poor, while “their poverty is actually deepened by the very churches and organizations that are trying to help them” (Fikkert & Mask, From Dependence to Dignity, 2015, p. 20) ...

  • David Talley — 

    A few years ago, I was playing basketball with a friend, but it was very different from the way most people play basketball. We called it “Basketball Heaven Style.” We had certain unusual rules ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I’ll bet you’re curious to know what this post is about! Actually, I love curious people, and find those who lack curiosity to be a bit boring. Still, there are some things that are good to be curious about, and others that vie for our attention that are not edifying. Here are two things worthy of your curiosity, and three that are not ...

  • Kevin E. Lawson — 

    Who has God brought into your life to teach you the Bible and help you grow in your faithfulness in following after Christ? Is it your pastor? Are there also others who have taught you the Scriptures, or who are teaching your friends or family members? In most churches, the Bible is being taught in a variety of places to different groups of different ages and stages of life. From children’s classes to youth group settings, to small group ministries, throughout the week God’s Word is opened and studied in churches around the world. This is one of the most powerful agents for change in our lives ...

  • William Craig — 

    Hello, Dr. Craig. ... I've been researching Church history, denominational formations and doctrine and their founding leaders, in conjunction with reading the New Testament to see if I can determine what is the most Scripturally sound. Of course, "picking" a denomination is only the first step, I think; then, one has to wisely choose a local church body to commit to. In short, what lies beneath my central question to you, as is probably clear, is wanting to know how you decided -- and how you would recommend others educate themselves to decide -- on a denomination (if that's even a proper way of thinking of the decision) and, more specifically, a church, or local body, to commit yourself to. One would want to be properly yoked in this relationship, just as in a marriage, it seems ...

  • Mick Boersma — 

    ... I’ve also concluded that, metaphorically speaking, 40 miles per hour is my best speed for living life. Of course, there are those times when I have to go fast to finish a project or keep up with a host of activities particular to a certain time of year (like the little league/soccer schedules of my grand children). We all have fast times, for sure. But the life speed that will enable me to go the long haul, continue to be effective, enjoyable to live with, and strong enough to handle the load, is a cruising speed of 40. Perhaps I first started becoming comfortable with this pace as a boy on our family farm. Life came and went in seasons. Spring and Summer were frenetic at times, but Fall and Winter balanced everything out as the ice and snow forced me to slow down, look both ways, and proceed with caution ...

  • Tom Finley — 

    At a recent luncheon, the Talbot faculty were reminded about the culture of academia, a culture that permeates Christian universities as well. The typical academic conducts research by herself or himself alone. Any paper or book that results may be reviewed by colleagues, but still the research is the product of one mind alone. Sometimes there are books that contain contributions by various researchers, but each article typically has also a single author. There are exceptions to the rule—books or articles that are co-authored. They are still exceptions, though, and not the rule ...

  • David Talley — 

    I have been studying discipleship lately so that I can become more intentional in “finishing my course,” to use the words of Paul. There is much written about it, but I am offering my own definition so that it might help you in your own journey of being faithful. First, I want to begin by simply showing you the different aspects of my definition, presented in an organized flow ...

  • Karin Stetina — 

    As the Gospels proclaim, the poor will always be with us (Mt. 26:11) and we are called to help those in need (Mt. 25:31-46). The problem is—how do we do that without causing more harm than good? Anyone who has served in charities in a long-term capacity can recognize a common pattern that author Bob Lupton points out in Toxic Charity ...

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    En los Estados Unidos la frase “el jardín del vecino siempre está más verde” es muy común porque ejemplifica correctamente la percepción que la mayoría de la gente tiene de la realidad. No importa lo que uno haga siempre habrá otro que lo haga mejor; no importa lo que uno compre, siempre habrá otro que tenga algo mejor; no importa lo mucho que uno se esfuerce, siempre habrá alguien mejor en alguna área. Esta situación produce algo tan común como destructivo en nosotros, la envidia ...

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    The summer of 2014 gave us the Supreme Court’s 5-4 ruling in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby on the side of religious liberty. The summer of 2015 witnessed another culturally controversial 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which carries potentially ominous implications for religious liberty (particularly according to the dissents of Justices Roberts and Alito). Meanwhile, some legal scholars are forecasting a massive public policy paradigm shift in coming years over another hotly contested issue—the right to life. Fordham University’s Charles Camosy, as a case-in-point, sees such a dramatic shift as not only possible but indeed inevitable ...

  • Mark Saucy — 

    What images do the word “work” bring to mind? If students and others I’ve had the chance to ask are any measure, the first thoughts aren’t all that positive. For myself I can recall flip comments I have made (half-) jokingly about hating when my work gets in the way of my hobby (cycling, mountain biking—the sport of kings!). From what I get from others, I’m fairly typical ...

  • Walt Russell — 

    When was the last time you heard the Bible taught and it penetrated to the core of your being? What about having this experience after thinking, “I could care less about this topic!”? Then, much to your surprise, the Spirit used the Bible rightly-interpreted and rightly-applied to cut through your lack of interest and the absence of a felt need. You stumbled out of the room enthralled with the God who speaks so clearly and powerfully through His Word. You left passionately asking the Lord of the Bible how you could align your life with this amazing truth that you cared nothing about the hour before ...

  • Clinton E. Arnold — 

    Without any hesitation we can say that yes, God wants you to be happy. The Bible (as well as experience) tells us that the Christian is given happiness in an incredible number of ways. But Christ has actually sweetened the deal and offered us something even better. While happiness is used to describe a basic feeling of gladness and contentment, what Christ offers is joy, which includes happiness, but runs much deeper, lasts much longer, and is felt much more strongly than happiness. The word joy shows up roughly four hundred times in the Bible, and it is no coincidence. Christ wants you to experience the joy that comes from him ...

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Let me begin by saying I am passionate about exposing teenagers to the work of God around the world, as well as to using their talents to help continue that work both where they live as well as other locations both near and far. However, I am concerned about how most short-term mission trips are planned, administered and experienced in ways that demean and undermine the people and ministries we seek to serve, while impressing upon our teenagers “missions” is something you do (i.e. an event) rather than an attitude or lifestyle. I am concerned because for many years as a youth pastor, I was the problem ...

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    Todos los viernes en la tarde un grupo de estudiantes y maestros de la universidad cristiana en donde trabajo se reúnen a jugar basquetbol. Hace unas semanas fui a jugar con ellos y lo que parecía un día normal se convirtió en una experiencia que me ha impactado y que también ha tenido el mismo efecto en muchísimas personas. Después de jugar por más de una hora uno de mis alumnos del doctorado se disponía a irse a su casa cuando le pedí que me esperara unos minutos porque necesitaba hablar con él. Primero se sentó y después se recostó en el césped a un lado de la cancha en lo que terminaba de jugar mi partido. En cuanto el juego terminó fui a hablar con él y en ese momento me di cuanta que estaba inmóvil, sin respirar y con una apariencia pálida y descolorida. Inmediatamente pedí ayuda y mientras algunos lo trataban de resucitar yo llamé a los servicios de emergencias. Gracias a Dios lograron que respirara otra vez y se lo llevaron a la sala de emergencias de un hospital cercano ...

  • Karin Stetina — 

    This past fall a friend shared an article from the New York Times entitled The Microcomplaint: Nothing Too Small to Complain About. It was amusing to read about all the silly complaints that celebrities tweeted to the world. Everything from the misery of only decaf coffee being available to what the writer deemed a “complaintbrag” of not being able to buy a Persian rug with cherub imagery. This habit, however, does not appear to be limited to celebrities. Cruise ship directors have received equally amusing complaints. For example, one passenger reported that the sea was “too loud” while another passenger grumbled about there being no celebrities on the Celebrity Cruise ship. In the past complaining was something often reserved for private ears. Today, however, it is not only acceptable to publically complain about the littlest inconvenience, it is often encouraged. It has even been identified as a communication style, particularly of Americans, who frequently see themselves as victims. Are Christians exempt from “microcomplaining” or are we part of the “culture of complaint”? What does Scripture have to say about complaining? ...

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    Michelle Lee-Barnewall (Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Talbot School of Theology) recently wrote and published Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective to the Gender Debate. We wanted to learn more about this book, so we had Michelle respond to some questions ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    ... When I was younger, I would try to get rid of doubts by closing my eyes (really really tightly) and concentrate (really really hard) on pushing out the doubtful thoughts. And when I (inevitably) started thinking about my doubts again, I’d simply try again (really try this time!) to expel those doubts. But you can’t push doubts out of your mind any easier than you can push other thoughts out of your mind by valiantly trying ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    A spiritually-minded friend of my wife and me recently made this comment: “I struggle with the idea of praying according to the will of God. Since I know that some things are clearly according to God’s will, why can’t I just pray directly about those things and know for certain that they’re going to happen? But that’s not the way it works with my prayers. For example, I know that God doesn’t want Christians to get divorced. But I’ve sometimes prayed that God would preserve a struggling marriage that still ended up in divorce ...