What I've Learned As a Pastor (Part 1)

(From Voice magazine, Nov/Dec 2015. Used by permission.)

Shortly after I became a Christian at the age of 18, I sensed God’s leading into full-time ministry and I enrolled in a Bible institute to begin my preparation. During two of those summers I served as an intern in a small church plant in Utah, the second summer serving as “the pastor” when Ron (my mentor) left for a month of missionary deputation.

Before he left, Ron told me I would have to do everything in the church while he was gone “even a funeral if anyone died.” Needless to say, at 21 years of age I prayed like crazy for the good health of everyone in the church! Much to my relief, God answered those prayers and there were no funerals that month. The second month that followed felt like a breeze compared to the first month when I was all on my own.

It was during those summers in Utah forty years ago that I tasted what it meant to be the pastor of a local church. After graduation from the Bible institute, I continued my education in a Christian liberal arts college and at seminary knowing God was calling me into the ministry as a missionary church planting pastor. All along the twists and turns of the various ministry assignments God has given to us, we’ve loved every one of the last forty years. Read more about What I've Learned As a Pastor (Part 1)

The God Who is There - Romans 9:1-10:4 (Part 4)

(Read the series so far.)

Considering the justice of God in Romans 9, Paul corrected the presupposition error that people deserve a relationship with God. He addressed the approach error of placing God across from men in an equal relationship. In Romans 9:22-29, he also corrected the limitation of error of seeing God’s agenda as limited to a single people.

But the apostle didn’t think the issue of watching his people slip into darkness was fully explored. He asked and answered two questions:

Paul asked: “Are we saying that the Jewish people, whom I deeply love, have fallen out of a vibrant relationship with the God of Abraham while those who were reached by missionaries (but weren’t looking for God to meet them) are now the recipients of a great and intimate walk with that same God?” Then Paul followed up with another question: “Why is that the case?” Read more about The God Who is There - Romans 9:1-10:4 (Part 4)

Apologetics & Your Kids: Part 8 - Another Slogan

(Read the series so far.)

In the last installment of this series we were looking at a motto which is often misused by the Christian community, and which could mislead young people if not carefully explained. That motto was “All truth is God’s truth.” This time round I want to take a look at another slogan; a slogan which should not be adopted by Bible believers, even though some prominent and respected authorities use it.

The phrase I have in mind is this: “The Bible tells us how to go to heaven; science tells us how the heavens go.”

On the face of it, this legend might seem non-objectionable. We are all aware of the fact that the Bible is not, nor does it ever claim to be, a textbook on Science. It doesn’t inform us about botany or biology or chemistry or physics. Science does—so what’s the problem? Read more about Apologetics & Your Kids: Part 8 - Another Slogan

How to Teach Your Home School Bible Class Without Curriculum

Studying Scripture is essential for every Christian family, but the Christian homeschooling family often asks, “How do I teach Bible class in my homeschool?”

Like most homeschool families, we immediately started searching for a Bible curriculum. An organized program is like a security blanket. It makes us feel as though all bases will be covered, and there will be no knowledge gaps. Teaching involves little to no elbow grease, as lesson plans are already laid out. We have confidence someone with expertise has chosen this material for a specific reason, and approved it for publishing. After all, how many of us homeschooling parents are theologians or curriculum publishers?

As we searched for Bible curriculum, we found discrepancies between what we believe to be Scriptural and what the curriculum was teaching. Many were shallow, or had an obvious gimmick. The emphasis was sometimes inconsistent with our values and priorities. The format and illustrations were often too cartoonish or too trite, and some felt disrespectful. Read more about How to Teach Your Home School Bible Class Without Curriculum

Have You Considered Turning the Page?

We met, as we had often done. But this time it was different. He brought his Bible. I asked him what had changed. He explained.

I realized something as we’ve been meeting over the past months. You would share a passage of Scripture, turn to it, we’d read it, and discuss it. I found myself wanting to share some idea that I thought was found in Scripture. But rather than recalling the passage, I found myself pulling out my laptop, opening up my Bible app, and searching for something I vaguely recalled. And I realized I hadn’t been reading Scripture.

I know—that’s just anecdotal. No serious qualitative analysis; just an exchange between two brothers. But what my friend shared has come up in other conversations. Christians are “reading” the Bible in ways other than in a printed book, and it seems that it might be changing how we read. Read more about Have You Considered Turning the Page?

Dispensational Distinctives

(© 2015 Dispensational Publishing House, Inc. Used by permission.)

Dispensational theology rests upon a premise that is widely acknowledged, even by non-dispensationalists—namely, that God deals with people in different ways at different times in history.

There are many instances in Scripture that could be used to illustrate this point. Perhaps one of the clearest is found in Matthew 16. Here the Apostle Peter, having just been blessed by Christ for his magnificent testimony of faith in which he proclaimed Jesus to be the Messiah and the Son of God (Matt. 16:13-20), immediately receives Christ’s admonishment for his disastrous efforts to reprove the Lord Jesus after His first major proclamation of His coming death and resurrection.

“Get behind Me, Satan!” (Matt. 16:23) was Christ’s startling rejoinder to Peter at that moment. Read more about Dispensational Distinctives

Review - A History of Western Philosophy and Theology

Image of A History of Western Philosophy and Theology
by John M. Frame
P & R Publishing 2015
Hardcover 928

I have read some but not all of the philosophers John Frame canvasses in this book. That almost certainly describes you, too. So you’re probably in precisely the same boat I’m in when it comes to Western philosophy—that creaky boat full of hopefuls traveling from the land of ignorance to the land of knowledge. But (and please bear with this analogy, ahem) we hopefuls need guides to get us across the water. (Keep bearing.) We want the kind of guide who will say, “That’s a rocky coastline; you don’t want to land there” or “That’s a good harbor.”

It simply isn’t advisable—or even possible—for most hopefuls to navigate the massive waves and hidden sandbars of philosophy without a guide. That’s true even though firsthand knowledge of that sea is the ultimate goal some of us, at least, ought to be shooting for. We ought to aim to become capable skippers ourselves, guiding others across the perplexity.

One of the themes of John Frame’s own theological work is the moral obligation we have to pick the right guides, to get knowledge righteously. And one of the primary ways we accomplish this feat is by trusting the right authorities. Ultimately, of course, divine authority is the only one that validates knowledge. But that very authority has gifted His church with teachers like Frame (Eph. 4:10). Read more about Review - A History of Western Philosophy and Theology

An Aside: Conscience and Heart Issues (Part 8)

(Read the series so far.)

When we apply Scripture, we arrive at convictions and we obey God by living according to them. But then why the differences? Why would different believers apply Scripture differently? Why would some believers be unable, or “weak” to do things, while others, apparently, don’t apply those Scriptures, at least in that way?

If each Scripture passage has one meaning that doesn’t change based on the reader, should all readers apply it in the same way?

To answer these questions, it helps to know that all these convictions of conscience can also be thought of in terms of heart-issues. I’ll give a personal example. A few years ago, in one of our deacon meetings at church, one of our group didn’t take his hat off when we prayed together. Read more about An Aside: Conscience and Heart Issues (Part 8)