Beware (and Embrace) the Power of Story

There’s a new gospel in town, and it has recruited cadres of evangelists. This new gospel heralds peace with God and man, it proclaims enlightenment through acceptance. Yet it’s not acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but acceptance of a new morality, the embrace and endorsement of what Christians have long understood to be forbidden. It’s a popular and powerful gospel and someone is going to proclaim it to you very soon. They will proclaim it and call …

A Practical Guide to Culture

Christians have an interesting relationship with culture. Culture is a word we love to use, but one we rarely pause to define. We speak of culture’s dangerous encroachment on the church, of our need to avoid it, engage it, or redeem it. But what is this culture thing anyway? It happens to be the subject of an excellent new book by John Stonestreet and Brett Kunkle. A Practical Guide to Culture is meant to help those who are helping the …

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This Is Our Time

It’s certainly an interesting time to be alive, isn’t it? And it’s a particularly interesting time to be a Christian. Right before our eyes we see everything changing, everything we once assumed being purposefully undermined. A new normal has been thrust upon us and I don’t think I’m the only one who is looking for help in interpreting the times. These changing times, this full-out moral revolution, is the subject of Trevin Wax’s new book This Is Our Time. His …

Stop Calling Everything Hate

Over time, a word can change its meaning, sometimes picking up an entirely new definition and sometimes expanding or contracting an existing one. It is not unusual to see a familiar word explode into contemporary parlance with a far more expansive definition than it has had in the past. Think about “tolerance.” For many years the word quietly meant something like, “accepting the rights of others to have a belief different from your own.” Then, suddenly, the word was everywhere …

Reveling in Wrath

It was one of the darkest chapters in Jewish history. Zedekiah had chosen to rebel against his Babylonian overlords, and King Nebuchadnezzar’s retribution was swift and sure. He besieged Jerusalem and captured it. He burned the temple, he burned the king’s palace, he burned all the mighty houses. He broke down the walls and left the city bereft and defenseless. He didn’t stop there. He also drove off 10,000 of the city’s most prominent citizens, leaving behind only the lowest, …

Shame, Fear, Guilt

I’ve heard it said that there are three kinds of culture in the world, each defined by its predominant worldview. There are cultures of shame, cultures of fear, and cultures of guilt, and each of them has their own way of pressuring people to behave or to conform to society. In a shame culture your standing before other people depends on your level of shame or honor. It’s like there is an imaginary scale that has shame on one side …

Christian Celebrity and the Conference Culture

Like so many others, I will be heading to Louisville, Kentucky next week, to take in the Together for the Gospel conference. What catnip is to your cat, T4G is for a New Calvinist, and, like so many others, I am looking forward not only to the conference, but to meeting people, spending time with friends, and taking in the wider conference atmosphere. I’ll be honest: My favorite part of the conference is spending time with people. For me, this …

A Short History of Communication

Over the past few days I have been preparing to preach on Genesis 3, one of those amazing biblical texts that just opens wide as you begin to study it. One clear application from the first seven verses is that we need to know, believe and stand upon the Word of God. Adam and Eve did not do this–they doubted God’s Word. That doubt, that lack of trust, led to sin, led to the Fall, led to this world. One …

Idolatry New and Old

A little while ago my friend Ian loaned me the PBS DVD series The Story of India This six-part series, which runs about six hours, simply tells the story of India from ancient times until roughly the time of Indian Independence. It is a good documentary, even if the host’s excessive exuberance toward all things Indian is a little bit hard to take after a while. “Oh, isn’t that wonderful! Fantastic! Remarkable! Unbelievable! Stupendous!” As one would have to expect …

Ashamed of Shame Itself

Last night as Aileen and I taught some of the teens at church (as we do every Wednesday evening) we encountered the concepts of guilt and shame. It is a tricky concept this, as it may be positive or negative depending on the context. The Bible makes it clear that, in their innocence, before they invited sin into the world, Adam and Eve were “naked and unashamed.” Written after the fact and written at a time when people could hardly …