Literally. This morning I was jogging on the beach and came across four people: (1) a minister, (2) photographer, (3) a young man in a tux, and (4) a young lady in a wedding dress. I think the ceremony had just ended, because they were signing the marriage license as I ran by. What was sad was that there was not another person in sight.
“Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18 NASB). Why is sexual sin singled out as uniquely damaging to the body in a way that other physical actions are not? Substance abuse, gluttony, cutting—these are all harmful acts to the body, but they do not do what sexual misconduct does, according to Paul. Typical responses from students to explain this exception are that sex involves the whole person, or maybe because it involves someone else. The same could be said for illegal drug use, so there must be something more.
In response to the ongoing revelations of widespread cheating in professional sports, my earlier blog explored the idea of cheating as compared to New Testament ethics. So much for why athletes should not cheat, and what they should pursue instead. The doping problems in sport raise another question: what is someone responsible to do when she becomes aware of others' cheating? This question extends beyond sport to daily life evils that are preventable if someone in our lives would just speak up once in a while.
Slowly, more top professional cyclists that were rivals of Lance Armstrong are mumbling confessions of the same carefully-worded sort that Lance released last January. Some have been coerced by teams or government inquiries (as with the handful of Americans who testified to their own doping as part of implicating Lance Armstrong). The latest is Jan Ullrich, the German cyclist who placed second to Lance three times in the Tour de France. Like many others, Ullrich used the same worn out excuse that “everybody was doing it,” and that his joining the “medical program” was just a way to play on a level field. What are we to think of these things?
Looking over a resume in order to hire a person for ministry can be trickier than one realizes at first. This is especially true because they typically want to give the benefit of the doubt to one’s accomplishments and experiences as listed on a resume. However, it has been the experience of this writer that what is often listed on a resume may not actually be the truth. There are those who like to “stretch” the information or possibly “embellish” the facts to point in favor of the applicant. Then there are those who just flat out lie about who they really are and what they’ve done. This blog will highlight some clues or signs of “red flags” that may show up in ministry resumes.
Jesus prayed for His church to form a kind of angled mirror, bonded together with the kind of love that directs the world’s gaze upward to behold the Triune God of love (Jn. 17:11-24). Are we reflecting the Triune God clearly, or do our churches often form more of a cracked mirror, fragmented shards with animosities and apathies caked like mud, refracting little light from above? Dr. Williams explores one reason we may often fail to reflect the Trinity, namely, the lack of a robust doctrine of "the anti-Trinity."
One of the top pop songs of 2012 was Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe.” Its catchy tune worked its way into millions of ears and stayed there; it was a classic “ear worm.” Even those of us who don’t listen to pop music were vexed by how difficult it was to get this song out of our thoughts.
I just returned from the Evangelical Theological Society annual meetings in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I picked up a copy of D. A. Carson’s new little book, Jesus the Son of God: A Christological Title Often Overlooked, Sometimes Misunderstood, and Currently Disputed (Crossway). On the taxi ride from the airport to the conference, I briefly tried to share the Lord with a taxi driver named Hassan. We were about a minute into the conversation when Hassan commented rather ardently, “We Muslims believe that Jesus is a prophet, and not the son of God.” I explained to him that Christians don’t believe that God had physical relations with Mary that led to her pregnancy, as many Muslims assume and consider blasphemous. The problem for dialogue with Muslims like Hassan is that many Muslims think that is precisely what we Christians mean when we use the expression “Son of God” in reference to Jesus—which, of course, we don’t. So what if you were a Bible translator in a Muslim country and knew that many of your readers would make the same assumption that Hassan did about the expression “Son of God”? Perhaps you should change the words “Son of God” to something else that is proximate in meaning but less offensive. Or maybe you shouldn’t…
I wince when I look at the photo. Don and I are standing in the sun with our firstborn son, flanked by Don’s elderly grandparents. Grandpa has just lifted up our son toward heaven to give thanks. All of us are beaming with joy. And I am wearing a very short dress.
My previous post garnered some lively response, to say the least. Murray Vasser offered the most thoughtful and pointed critique. Since my response would not fit in a comment slot, I’ve posted it separately to contribute to the ongoing dialogue.
I am receiving an increasing number of e-mails from persons in my church championing this or that conservative political cause. I recently responded in some detail to a dear brother who sent me a note encouraging his church leaders to become aware of a particular political agenda.
As part of a 16-week overview of the Story of Scripture, I am preaching on the Ten Commandments this Sunday at church. The Second Commandment, in particular, has generated a variety of explanations: “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” (Exodus 20:4). Why no images? Explanations vary, and they are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Here are just a few:
I have always had mixed feelings about the whole idea of sermons broadcast over the airwaves. And now with the internet we can listen to preachers from thousands of churches around the world without having to interact with a single human being. There are, of course, great benefits to the dissemination of all these sermons. But there are distinct liabilities, as well.
One Sunday not too long ago I preached on Daniel 4, where Nebuchadnezzar discovers the hard way that “the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (v. 17). I serve a wonderful, God-loving congregation of mostly conservative Republicans. A couple weeks earlier, I had delighted my people by informing them that I would not make a very good Democrat, because I don’t trust big government. Their delight was short-lived, however, because I immediately said that I also wouldn’t make a very good Republican, because I don’t trust big business. Then, I really got ‘em thinking when I added that I probably don’t make a very good pastor—at least not according to current American evangelical criteria for pastoral success—because I don’t trust big institutional churches.
Speaking about moral codes and laws, Oliver O’Donovan (Resurrection and Moral Order, 2nd ed.) says something helpful about how we use the Bible to make moral decisions. Speaking generally of the relationship between individual moral commands and the overall moral law, he writes first: The items in a [moral] code stand to the moral law as bricks to a building. Wisdom must involve some comprehension of how the bricks are meant to be put together.
What are the sure signs that you are a authentic Christian? Bible reading, praying, church attendance, right answers to theological questons, concern for social justice, and acts of service, are all necessary to grow in Christ. But none of these is definite evidence that you are truly a child of God.
After many years of foolishly putting it off, I am finally reading Oliver O’Donovan’s classic primer on Christian ethics, Resurrection and Moral Order (2nd ed.). One of the book’s major claims is that the resurrection of Jesus is the ultimate reaffirmation of the created order.
My 83-year-old mother has dementia. To help me work through the pain of this living death, I recently gave her a gift she was not able to receive: a letter commemorating her 10th anniversary in the nursing home.
‘Missional ethics’ speaks of the missionary dimensions of the life of the people of God and the ethical features of mission. The connection between mission and ethics is fundamental for how we perceive our common life in the Spirit.
Evil is present in the world. It was seen in the face of Usama bin Laden. It is also seen in things like murder, child abuse, terrorism, and natural disasters. Many Christians and non-Christians don't understand why evil is present in the world. Here's why.