And Now for the News

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission.

What is your view of the news media? If you are like most people, your answer does not exude confidence.

According to Gallup:

Four in 10 Americans say they have “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of trust and confidence in the mass media to report the news fully, accurately and fairly. This ties the historical lows on this measure set in 2014 and 2012. Prior to 2004, slight majorities of Americans said they trusted the mass media, such as newspapers, TV and radio. (Rebecca Riffkin, “Americans’ Trust in Media Remains at Historical Low”)

I spent 14 years working for a major news organization in the state of Wisconsin as a newspaper reporter and editor. I appreciate so many things that I gained from that experience, apart from which I would be lacking in a number of valuable areas. I do not claim to have seen it all—or really to have any secrets to share that you have not already figured out if you, like me, are a connoisseur of media (or, to put it in the vernacular, a news junkie). I do, however, have a few observations about the current state of the news media—and, especially, how we as Bible-believing Christians should consume media—that I think are worth sharing. Here they are, in no particular order: Read more about And Now for the News

The Textually-Based Locus of Meaning

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission. Read the series so far.

Dispensationalism & the Literal Interpretation of the Bible, Part 6

To review very briefly, there are four essential principles we must keep in mind if we are going to have a proper understanding of literal interpretation. The first three are the univocal nature of language, the jurisdiction of authorial intent, and the unitary authorship of Scripture. The final element for literal interpretation is the textually-based locus of meaning. We began studying that topic in the previous installment of this series, and pick up with it here. Read more about The Textually-Based Locus of Meaning

Finding a Balanced Approach to Choosing Literature for Children

As Christians who endeavor to apply biblical principles to every facet of life, I think we sometimes err greatly when it comes to choosing literature on page and screen for our children:

  1. We view every instance of sinful behavior as an objectionable element and dismiss the entire story on that basis.
  2. We Christianize the characters, themes, and plot lines to “redeem” the story, regardless of authorial intent.
  3. We assume “classic literature” means “wholesome literature.”
  4. We leave teaching literature to the “experts.”

None of these approaches are accurate or useful. They represent faulty methods of literary criticism—permissivism, exclusivism, pragmatism, naïveté, and the postmodernist tendency to declare everything relative. Worst of all, they represent a lost opportunity to parent. Read more about Finding a Balanced Approach to Choosing Literature for Children

When Followers Don’t Follow: The Art of Persuasion

Though many of us don’t think of ourselves as leaders, we all find ourselves in situations where we’re responsible to some extent for “getting other people to do things” (or stop doing things). In that sense, we’re all leaders occasionally.

Previously, I introduced three primary tools leaders have at their disposal (coercion, persuasion, and influence), overviewed how the three differ, and explored some ways we tend to use one of them—coercion—badly (with self-defeating consequences).

Paul’s letter to Philemon draws our attention to the second tool—persuasion—and even a brief look reveals a great deal about what persuasion is, how it works, and why we should try to get better at it. Read more about When Followers Don’t Follow: The Art of Persuasion

Finding the Will of God

It is a commonly held belief among Christians that one of the most perplexing problems we experience is knowing what the will of God is for our lives. The reason for this is not hard to find. For one thing, we are most sensitive to this question in times of stress, when the stakes are high and our emotions are perturbed. We want a clear path to appear in front of us—we want to know what our heavenly Father would have us do. In these situations we turn to God and pray for guidance. But frequently we discover that the help does not come to us when and how we think it should, and we begin to wonder if there is some secret key to the will of God which we need to discover.

1. The Problem with Fleeces

Everyone is familiar with what Gideon did when he wanted absolute assurance that he was not deluded, but that the Lord truly had told him to take on the Midianites—he laid a fleece out, not once but twice (Judg. 6:36-40). Read more about Finding the Will of God

Beware Objective Standards Where Only Subjective Ones Are Provided

Paul’s instructions to Timothy regarding the qualifications for leadership in the church (specifically for elders in 3:1-7) are vitally important. They are also not as simple as we might sometimes prefer. We generally prefer things to be neat and clean—objective and quantifiable. So it is not unusual to see the standards of 1 Timothy 3:1-7 received as a checklist which can be mindlessly applied as if black and white, requiring no judgment or wisdom.

However, Paul’s words are not intended to be received or applied in that manner. Instead, of the sixteen specific qualifications mentioned by Paul, all of them are decidedly subjective rather than objective. There is certainly one assumed qualification, that the elder be a he (tis, “anyone” in the masculine). That is the only objective characteristic described in the entire passage.

But as for the sixteen qualifications Paul lists, they are not so simple as is the gender issue.

Sixteen Qualifications

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From the Archives: Joy - Worth Hanging On To

The Book of Philippians is one of the most positive books in Scripture. Its theme is joy. One of the best books on Philippians at a popular level is the one penned by Dr. Warren Wiersbe titled, Be Joyful.

Wiersbe presents Philippians as a book about joy and suggests that Paul identifies four thieves of joy: circumstances, people, material things, and worry. Weirsbe then suggests that Paul offers a solution to neutralize each thief of joy: the single mind (Philippians 1), the submissive mind (Philippians 2), the spiritual mind (Philippians 3), and the secure mind (Philippians 4).

Real joy comes from rich meaning; as Christians, we possess tremendous meaning if we live to glorify God. But this meaning needs to surface and affect the way we think. We can either aim to win by the world’s standards, or aim to win by God’s standards. If we try to do both, we will fail on both counts. Obviously, I advocate the second choice! Read more about From the Archives: Joy - Worth Hanging On To

A Report on the Ark Encounter (Part 2)

From Dispensational Publishing House; used by permission. Read Part 1.

Answers in Genesis is billing the Ark Encounter as being, “Bigger Than Imagination.”

At 510 feet long, 85 feet wide and 51 feet high, this slogan is no exaggeration. Of course, most people who visit the Ark will hope to see more than just a sizable structure. What will they find if they come?

Over the course of Tuesday and Wednesday, I spent a total of about five hours inside the Ark. Here are some general observations regarding the things that I saw as I toured this gigantic structure.

The Ark Is Immense

The dimensions of the Ark were arrived at by using the Hebrew long cubit of 20.4 inches.1 The result is that the Ark is “the largest timber frame structure in the world.”2

According to the Ark Encounter website: “The Ark had the same storage capacity as about 500 standard semi-trailers. A standard livestock trailer holds about 250 sheep, so the Ark had the capacity to hold at least 120,000 sheep.”3 Read more about A Report on the Ark Encounter (Part 2)