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What were they before they were “Christians”?

Did you know that Christians have not always been called “Christians”?  The earliest apprentices of Jesus only became know by this title later in the first century A.D. in the large, ethnically diverse, Syrian capital of Antioch (Acts 11:26).  It’s even likely that the term “Christian” was used by Antioch’s general population as a derogatory name for these followers of Jesus.  The title of “Christians” was given because this group of Jews and Gentiles were followers of Jesus, whom they believed to be the Christos, meaning “the anointed one,” or the Messiah.   Throughout the pages of the New Testament these earliest of believers seemed to select other names for themselves like “saints,” “brothers,” and “disciples.”  However, in referring to what and who they were following, the earliest self-description we know of is followers of “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 11:26).  And this description has no little significance.  In describing what we call “Christianity” today as “The Way,” these first followers of Jesus made a radical claim about the person and work of Jesus.  (more…)

April 24, 2011 in blog by

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Does Satan know our thoughts?

This question was submitted by someone whose concern primarily had to do with prayer.  That is, if demons can read our minds, should we worry about conscious thoughts which identify our areas of weakness (allowing the evil one to use that information against us)?  On the other hand, if demons cannot read our minds, ought we weigh careful what weaknesses we admit to aloud in our prayers (also for fear that we would be arming the enemy with critical information of our struggles only to be used against us in temptation)?    (more…)

November 14, 2010 in blog by

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Why women are evidence for Jesus’ Resurrection

women-testimony

One remarkable component in the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ physical Resurrection is the role of women as the first discoverers of the empty tomb.  The absurdity of the situation doesn’t register with our modern egalitarian ears as it would have to a first century Palestinian Jew.  Most of us today have been brought up to believe in the equality of all people in political, economic, and social life.  However, this is not the case for the Jewish audience which first heard the claims of a vacant burial site where Jesus’ corpse had been interred.  Given the low status of women in the social-cultural contexts of the first century Jewish world, it is extremely significant that the Gospel authors actually own up to the fact that women were the initial witnesses of Jesus’ empty tomb.  While there existed positive roles for women in ancient Jewish and Greco-Roman society, the general view of women was that they were second-class citizens. (more…)

March 28, 2010 in blog by

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Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Easter

lent-ash-wednesday-easter

With the approach of Easter comes great opportunity for followers of Jesus to communicate the message of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection to their culture.  And while all Christians celebrate Easter (the resurrection), the various stripes of Christian churches have celebrated the period of time leading up to Easter in various ways.  Each year, as this most important of days on the Christian calendar rolls around, we hear words like “Lent,” “Ash Wednesday,” “Maundy Thursday.”  If you grew up in a more liturgical church setting you’re likely very familiar with their meanings.  However, many are not.  So, I thought I’d post a very helpful article written by Gretchen Passantino which will bring familiarity to these Christian celebrations.  For more on Gretchen’s fantastic ministry, Answers In Action, check out to her website. (more…)

March 11, 2010 in blog by

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Could Colorado’s new texting & driving law be evidence for God?

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Beginning today, December 1st, 2009, it becomes a traffic offense for any driver in Colorado to text while behind the wheel.  Why?  Well, it was one year ago when Erica Forney, a little nine-year-old girl from our church, was tragically killed riding her bike home by a driver distracted while using a cell phone.  Little Erica died on Thanksgiving Day 2008, just two days after the accident.  Remarkably, within only one short year the Forney family, dedicated to a cause which could save many lives, worked to pass the new Colorado law, making it illegal for any driver to text or enter data in a phone while driving.  So, what does this have to do with a reason to believe in God? (more…)

December 1, 2009 in blog by

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Can different faiths live a happily married life together?

unequally yoked

I was recently asked by a young man (who professed to be an agnostic) if I would meet with him and his Christian girlfriend.  They’d been dating for some time, talked about marriage, but now this young Christian woman was having serious reservations about marrying a non-Christian.  Her primary concern was how they would raise their children.  And it was made more complicated in her mind by the fact that he had no problem with her raising their children as Christians, but that he simply had no personal interest in following Jesus.  She was in turmoil.  He was confounded by why she was in turmoil.  I affirmed her turmoil. (more…)

October 22, 2009 in blog by

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Does God really ‘forget’ when He forgives?

forget_forgive

I remember once hearing someone say, “Did you know that I can do something that God can’t do?  I can remember my sins, while God cannot!”  Now I fully understand what the person was attempting to communicate.  He was extolling the graciousness of a God who didn’t go digging up past sins which had previously been confessed and forgiven.  However, does the Bible teach that God actually forgets (is unable to recall) what those sins were or that we in fact committed them?  (more…)

June 14, 2009 in blog by

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Should Christians seek psychic help?

Psychic

Though obviously an overgeneralization, it does seem that spirituality is among the “in” things.  It has become both cool and lucrative.  The television is scattered with spiritualists like John Edwards, James Van Praagh, Sylvia Browne, and Char Margolis who claim psychic power to speak to departed human beings.  But as alarming as this movement may be in our broader culture, it’s most troubling that even many Christians are being duped into thinking that the practice of psychics can be squared with a biblical worldview.  The Bible’s prohibitions against necromancy (communing with the dead) aren’t given to keep us from gaining helpful information from the spirit world.  Rather, such prohibitions come to us to protect us from lies and deception. (more…)

February 26, 2009 in blog by

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Why did God command a child sacrifice from Abraham?

abraham_sacrifice_Isaac_wood

I had just come upstairs from putting Brielle, my four year old daughter, to bed, an hour past her bedtime—as usual.  Earlier, as I sat down on her bed to tuck her in I noticed she was reading from her Children’s Illustrated Bible.  She immediately fired a question, “Dad, why is this guy holding a knife?”  Not the sort of thing you normally hope to be your child’s last thoughts before drifting off to sleep.  Caught off guard, I looked and saw that she was “reading” (or examining the picture of) the story of Abraham’s near sacrifice of his son, Isaac, in obedience to God (Gen 22).  While I knew this could not be a quick answer, I immediately found myself struggling to say much of anything.  I could just imagine her furrowed little brow communicating that I had left her with far more troubling questions than she had begun with.  So, I rapidly regrouped and told her that I would love to explain it but that we’d need more time.  “Remind me tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it.”  This all happened last night.  And tonight, right at bedtime, she reminded me.  This time I skipped the several false starts of explanation and went right to the bit about needing more time.  But to be totally honest, it really isn’t a “bit.”  I did need more time to explain the whole story.  Jumping right in with a 30 second answer, neglecting the bigger context of the story, would have left her with understandable concern and even worry.  And I think that for most of us adults, the situation is not all that different.  (more…)

September 11, 2008 in blog by

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“God Is Not Dead Yet”

Christianity Today July 08

The past 40 or so years have seen a recovery of natural theology—and thereby, the classical arguments for the existence of God—within the field of academic philosophy.  Some of the most influential philosophers of our day are not only theists, but outspoken Christian believers.  We’ve even seen one of the most influential atheists of this past century, Anthony Flew, become a theist due in large part to the advances of today’s design arguments.  And in conjunction with this philosophical movement is a renewed appreciation among young people for apologetics—that is, giving winsome and cogent arguments for the Christian faith.  (more…)

August 5, 2008 in blog by

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Jesus didn’t address homosexuality…right?

silence

A friend of mine recently stated that we ought to give pause before tackling the morality of homosexual practice from a biblical perspective.  After all, he reasoned, Jesus never even addressed it in the Gospel accounts.  Therefore, as professed “followers of Jesus,” how can we be so confident on the issue?  And while I think this assumption about Jesus’ supposed silence on the issue is quite common, I don’t believe it’s an informed assumption.  Instead, I think that a careful examination of this assumption will both demonstrate its inadequacy, as well as give us greater confidence in understanding how Jesus views homosexual practice. 

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July 23, 2008 in blog by

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Why God’s “promises” don’t work

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One of the most tragic and frustrating conversations that I have from time to time is the one that starts something like this: “I don’t understand!  I’ve been living for God—praying, reading the Bible, trying to honor God with my relationships, finances, possessions, etc.  But God isn’t following through on His promises.  Doesn’t He promise blessing for righteousness (e.g., biblical promises to prosper the nation of Israel if they obey and trust Him).”  They wonder why their experience of following God doesn’t comport with the theology that’s been peddled to them.  And they are left reeling with understandable confusion and frustration.  Tragically, for many, there is no one there to offer what they need most at that moment—a healthy dose of biblical truth.  And as a result, some walk away from God, thinking that He simply doesn’t keep His promises.  (more…)

July 15, 2008 in blog by

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