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Think Christianly

Think Christianly: July 2009

Friday, July 31, 2009

Helping Children Think Christianly - Resources for Christian Parents Part 4

Kids have questions about life and you have answers? The good news is that there are answers out there and you don't have to have PH.D behind your name to have access to them. Here is a resource that gives short, solid answers(1 page or less...isn't that good news??) to the toughest questions out there.

It would be good to just have this around the house (bedside table and bathroom are two good spots). Who Made God? And answers to Over 100 Other Tough Questions of Faith by Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler

Product Description
A single-volume accessible summary of answers to the most commonly raised apologetic questions by some of the foremost evangelical apologists to equip lay persons as well as Christian leaders with biblical and practical answers to tough questions about the Christian faith, as well as its relationship to other faiths in an era where many listen with their eyes and think with their emotions. Companion book to Is Your Church Ready?: Motivating Leaders to Live an Apologetic Life.

From the Back Cover
In the quest for the truth, you need to know what you believe and why you believe it. Who Made God? offers accessible answers to over 100 commonly asked apologetic questions. Bringing together the best in evangelical apologists, this guide is standard equipment for Christians who want to understand and talk about their faith intelligently.

Part one answers tough questions about the Christian faith such as: • Who made God? • How can there be three persons in one God? • What is God’s ultimate purpose in allowing evil? • Where did the universe come from? • How long are the days of creation in Genesis? • Did Jesus rise from the dead? • Are the records of Jesus’ life reliable? • Does the Bible have errors in it?

Part two answers tough questions about other faiths, including Islam, Mormonism, Hinduism, Transcendental Meditation, Yoga, Reincarnation, Buddhism, and Black Islam. Relevant stories, questions for reflection and discussion, and a comprehensive list of suggested resources help you dig deeper so you can be prepared to give careful answers that explain the reasons for your faith.

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Helping Children Think Christianly - Resources for Christian Parents Part 3

Today we are going to talk about the older kids a little (6-14). Earlier this year, Theologian Bruce Ware came out with Big Truths for Young Hearts: Teaching and Learning the Greatness of God by Bruce Ware that teaches the basics of theology in 2-3 pages snippets with a key verse of scripture to read and questions. This book project came out of his nightly bed time routine with his own kids -- a captive audience and they don't want to go to bed just yet ;).

Parents will learn a ton from this book! It is well written, but very accessible. You could buy it, and stay a day ahead of your child. Ware does a good job on teaching what Christians believe. This is a wonderful resource!


"A theologically rich resource to aid parents in training their children. Anyone who wants to help children grow in their love for Jesus and understanding of the Bible needs this book." - Mark Driscoll, Pastor of Mars Hill Church, Seattle; President of Acts 29 and The Resurgence

"This is a great book for children and their parents on the classic doctrines of the faith. I heartily recommend it to every parent!" - Dennis Rainey, President, FamilyLife

"My conversion and discipleship as a young girl were significantly influenced by my parents reading to our family a book that taught biblical doctrine to children in a systematic way. The church today must be intentional in passing on to the next generation the core and precious beliefs on which our Christian faith rests. To neglect that responsibility is to leave those who come behind us vulnerable to every wind of (false) doctrine and to risk their rejecting our faith altogether. Big Truths for Young Hearts is a rich resource for parents, teachers, and others who care about helping the next generation know and love God and his ways. In addition to being a theology course for children and young people, it is also a great refresher course for adults." - Nancy Leigh DeMoss, author; host of Revive Our Hearts radio broadcast

"Imagine a respected theologian devoting himself to training a new generation of pastors and scholars in the seminary classroom. Now imagine him driving home at night to teach that profound theology in simple terms to his children at their bedsides. Now imagine this father compiling those bedside conversations into a book available to all pastors, parents, and children alike. Imagine no more. My friend Dr. Bruce Ware has done it." - C. J. Mahaney, Sovereign Grace Ministries

Product Description
Equips parents to guide their young children through all major doctrines in an understandable, chapter-a-day format.

Sure, it's easy to teach your children the essentials of Christian theology when you're a theology professor. But what about the rest of us?

With Big Truths for Young Hearts, Bruce Ware, (you guessed it!) a theology professor, encourages and enables parents of children 6-14 years of age to teach through the whole of systematic theology at a level their children can understand. Parents can teach their children the great truths of the faith and shape their worldviews early, based on these truths.

The book covers ten topics of systematic theology, devoting several brief chapters to each subject, making it possible for parents to read one chapter per day with their children. With this non-intimidating format, parents will be emboldened to be their children's primary faith trainers-and perhaps learn a few things themselves along the way.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

See the Show, Be the Show (how the media we consume shapes us)

I know we are in the middle of a series about helping kids think Christianly. But I came across a story that fits right in with that (HT / Summit). It is an article called "see the show, be the show." And it is thought provoking to be sure. Now my intention here is not to censor everything or become the media place saying what "good christians" do and don't watch. But I think we are being naive if we think that what we watch does not affect us. And the younger we are the more of an effect it has (cf. our children). The evidence for this is not antecdotal, but empirical and well researched. Plenty of Government studies have shown the causal link between advertising and certian behavior (e.g., Cigarette smoking). The equation on that one is really quite simple. More advertising causes more smokers...but TV is neutral right?

Take a few minutes and read and reflect on this article by asking what you consume and how often you do? And then there is what we allow our young children to watch...if we are wanting them to form virtuous hearts and character, then what are we putting in their little hearts? Remember, lessons are always being taught and children are always listening. Whenever the TV is on; school is in session.

(excerpt) "If it seems that not much good comes from much of the media kids consume, well, that's exactly what researchers at the National Institutes of Health (working with Common Sense Media) concluded after examining 173 studies involving entertainment and behavior. Government researchers found that 80 percent of those studies linked media (defined as TV, movies, video games, music, the Internet and magazines) to adverse outcomes among children, including obesity, sex, smoking, drug and alcohol use, attention problems and poor grades. One of the five study reviewers, Ezekiel J. Emanuel, summarized, "The research is clear that exposure to media has a variety of negative health impacts on children and teens. ... We found very few studies that had any positive association [for children's health]." (more)

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Helping Children Think Christianly - Resources for Christian Parents Part 2

Ok, so here is part two of our adventure in helping our children think christianly. There are a lot of children's devotional books out there--and a lot of good ones--but Five Minute Devotions for Children: Celebrating God's World As a Family stuck out to me in the way that it helps parent and child interact about God and what he is saying. There are wonderful questions and very practical applications from God's Word (for 4-8 year olds). It is well illustrated and creativley incoprorates what God has made into what God has revealed in his Word.

Product Description
This delightful devotional is perfect for bedtime, dinnertime, or anytime. Each short devotion includes a story about an animal illustrating its dominant trait as created by God. That trait is then related to a child. Questions at the end are fun for the young child to answer, such as picking out something in the picture, asking what the animal is doing, and asking what God wants us to do. Each devotional concludes with a short bible verse.

About the Author
Pamela Kennedy has written gentle animal stories that children of all ages will love. Humorous and colourful illustrations by Amy Wummer complete this book and children and their parents will learn about God's love for all his creatures.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Helping Children Think Christianly - Resources for Christian Parents Part 1

This week I am going to do a series of blog posts on resources for helping kids begin thinking christianly about all of life. Parents play a fundamental and irreplaceable role in the worldview and character formation of their children. We are called to impart our faith to them so that the next generation will know and walk with Jesus Christ for a lifetime.

The first resource is for ages 4-8 and was written and illustrated by my friend Joey Allen. These works cover 4 basic areas: Gospel, Scripture, Trinity, and Mission and have been endorsed by people like Al Mohler. These are wonderful little books and I highly recommend them!

Product Description
The Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers series introduces children ages four to eight to the fundamental teachings about God based on the Bible. The most foundational teachings of the Christian faith are presented in this four-book set at a level preschool and elementary children can understand. Colorful illustrations compliment every page of orthodox Christian doctrine, creating an enjoyable learning experience for the child. In contrast to self-centered theology and watered-down Bible storybooks, the Big Thoughts for Little Thinkers series promotes God-centered theology with simple and precise teaching while offering stability and a strong, lasting connection with the faith.

• For children ages 4-8
• Teaches fundamental doctrines of the Bible
• Promotes basic theological ideas
• Builds a lasting faith at an early age
• Includes colorful illustrations on every page
• Four-book series

The Trinity promotes the doctrine that there is one God who exists in three persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This teaching is foundational for a child’s understanding of God; a fact about the Trinity is presented on each page, leading the child to a stronger faith.

The Scripture teaches children that the Word of God is true, inspirational, reliable, and dependable in all circumstances at all times.

The Mission presents the Great Commission in a manner that is easily understood by children. The world is full of people who need a Savior, and it’s up to us to share the gospel with them.

The Gospel relates a gospel message of salvation to children, at their level of understanding, planting seeds that will hopefully blossom into a Christian life of dedication to our Savior and Lord.

About the Author
Joey Allen is a missionary and artist who desires to see people all over the world worship God for who He truly is, and has traveled the globe to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Georgia and was awarded the Cliff Chandler Graphic Design Scholarship. He is currently working on a Master of Theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary. Joey and his wife Christy currently reside in Dallas, Texas.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Always be prepared

Preparation is a big part of life. When it comes to sharing the good news of the Kingdom of God and why it is true; are you prepared?

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander."--1 Peter 3:15-16

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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Activists Claim Christian Woman Has Been Executed in North Korea

As hard as it is for many of us in America to believe, persecution is very real. we need to pray...

(from story) Seoul, South Korea (AP) - North Korea publicly executed a Christian woman last month for distributing the Bible, which is banned in the communist nation, South Korean activists said Friday.

Ri Hyon Ok, 33, was also accused of spying for South Korea and the United States and organizing dissidents. She was executed in the northwestern city of Ryongchon near the border with China on June 16, according to a report from an alliance of several dozen anti-North Korea groups.

Ri's parents, husband and three children were sent to a political prison camp in the northeastern city of Hoeryong the following day, the report said, citing unidentified documents it says were obtained from North Korea. It showed a copy of Ri's North Korean.....more

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Friday, July 24, 2009

C.S. Lewis on the light of Christianity

Do I think there are good reasons to be a Christian? Absolutely!

But one of the more surprising things about Christianity is that it also explains so many other things as well. In other words, there is light (i.e., evidence) that leads you down the path toward the Christian faith and once you arrive you are delighted to discover that it becomes the light that explains everything else. Or as C.S. Lewis so vividly captured it, “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.”

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Rest for the weary

Jesus' way of life or "yoke" leads to rest....if we will ask for it and place ourselves under His teaching.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." - Matthew 11:28-30

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

In God We Trust? Five biblical lessons for believers during an economic recession

I came across an article written in my alma mater's magazine (Biola University). It is well written and timely. I am challenged, convicted, and given a vision for a different kind of life when I read Paul's Word's to Timothy:
“Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy. Instruct them to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is life indeed.” - 1 Timothy 6:14-17

I don't know about you; but I want to find "life indeed"...not a pot of fool's gold at the end of a marketing rainbow.

In God We Trust: Five Biblical Lessons for Believers During Economic Recession by Brett McCracken

On a Tuesday last fall, sophomore visual journalism major Maylin Rowe thought for sure she was not going to be able to continue at Biola. That Friday, $2,900 was due for the spring semester’s tuition. But because an expected federal loan did not go through and her family’s finances were tight, Rowe found herself without the money and with only three days to come up with it. She thought it was time to start packing. But just as her hopes were fading for another semester at Biola, something interesting happened. Rowe’s community recognized her need. Friends went door to door in the Alpha Chi dorm, collecting loose change on her behalf. Soon there were students in other dorms giving checks - sometimes for hundreds of dollars - to keep Rowe at Biola. By Friday, Rowe was lugging 30-pound boxes of change to the bank, hopeful that it would add up to the amount she needed. It was just enough.

“There was no possibility from a human standpoint,” she said. “It was miraculous.” Rowe was in disbelief, but knew God was sending her a message: Just trust me.

Maylin’s story reminds us that, in times of financial uncertainty and stress, important lessons can be learned. Wisdom can be gained. Faith can be strengthened. The assertion that “all things work together for good for those who love God” isn’t just a platitude to help us get through hard times; it’s a galvanizing announcement that God has a purpose for this recession and is working things out to that end. We just have to pay attention to see what we can learn about the “good” for which it is all working.

The following are five ideas of what that good might be - five lessons, reminders and biblical thoughts that represent an upside to this economic downturn.

1. God, not money, is our security

“We were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.” (2 Corinthians 1:8-9)

When things are easy and prosperous, we tend to rely on ourselves. But when crises happen and our 401(k)s evaporate, our self-reliance and “security” are thrown into doubt. In hard times, we realize that there is very little in life that we actually have control over. Perhaps this is the first lesson we should learn from this recession: Our God, not our resources, provides security.

The financial industry speaks of security often in terms of retirement accounts, social safety nets and the stock market. We even use the word “securities” to refer to a type of investment, something financial planner and Biola alumnus Peter Falk (’97) finds troubling.

“It’s tempting for Christians to view the stock market or investments as security,” said Falk. “But you have to remind yourself that while these things can be beneficial, you can’t take them with you.”

We should also remember that up until about 100 years ago, retirement accounts and government provided social safety nets were not commonplace. For most of history, people were dependent on God and family, notes Steve Rundle, an economics professor in Biola’s Crowell School of Business.

Rundle thinks we’ve gotten away from that now, and instead we turn to the government or ourselves for security. It’s a mentality found in churches too, said Rundle, where there are often financial seminars that emphasize how to manage a nest egg and learn to be financially self-sufficient.

“There’s an underlying emphasis in many of these seminars on becoming totally independent and not needing anybody - including God,” said Rundle. “And I think this crisis is showing us the folly of all that.”

Certainly, a crisis like this is a wakeup call to Christians who fall into the trap of self-sufficiency.

In a recent sermon about the financial crisis, pastor and author John Piper put it this way: “At the bottom of every Christian heart - no matter how advanced in faith and godliness - there is the sediment of self reliance. Then God shakes our lives, sometimes to the foundations, to show us our self-reliance and clean it out with a new, deeper reliance on him.”

2. We are stewards, not owners

“The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” (Psalm 24:1)

Another important lesson of a recession is the reminder that everything we have or think we “own” is not really ours at all. It’s God’s. When we look at our money in this way, we can’t help but be more conscious of how we use it.

Whether we’re talking about the environment or a paycheck, Christians must recognize that we must be wise stewards, said Mike Wilkins, distinguished professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology.

“If we view ourselves simply and solely as stewards of God’s grace, then we never hold on to anything too tightly,” said Wilkins. “I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for us to see ourselves as instruments of God.”

But what does stewardship actually mean for Christians in their everyday lives?

According to Falk, it means that we fundamentally approach money differently, as a tool that we are entrusted with to use for God. It means living within our means and viewing our money as God’s, and giving faithfully back to him.

This is an area where Christians could do better. Giving averages for evangelicals in the United States hover between 2 percent and 3 percent of gross income, even while most recognize 10 percent as the biblical ideal. And with the financial crisis bearing down on most wallets, some Christians are giving even less than normal.

But when money is tight, it doesn’t mean believers should stop giving. It means we should focus on our best investments and think about “what is going to be the most eternal bang for the buck,” said Falk.

This is good stewardship evaluating where our money goes and being sure to get the biggest “Kingdom R.O.I.” possible, said Rick Bee, senior director of alumni relations, who teaches a popular “Faith and Money” class every year at Biola.

As part of the class, which focuses on a biblical approach to finances, Bee gives each student $30 and instructs them to use it however they want - as long as it reflects the stewardship values they’ve learned in the class. Students also spend a class period playing Monopoly “as Christians,” where the goal is not to amass money or houses, but to acquire eternal rewards. The class, said Bee, “is meant to get students thinking with more of an eternal perspective.”

Having that eternal perspective - seeing that our role in the bigger picture of God’s plan is one of stewardship and not ownership - frees us from the bondage of money that enslaves so many. And it also invariably grows our faith.

3. Faith grows in tough times

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.” (Matthew 6:25-26)

Most everyone was affected when the markets took their tumble last October, and Biola was not immune. Freshman Carissa Bixler was hit especially hard. She’s a missionary kid from Indonesia, and her parents are fully funded by the support of churches. As the recession worsened last fall, support began to wane. With two other brothers and a sister studying at other colleges, the financial burden for the family was immense. Bixler wasn’t sure she could come up with enough money for another semester at Biola.

Meanwhile, Biola responded to the financial crisis by commissioning a cross-departmental task force to address the immediate financial needs of students. Out of this came the Student Emergency Relief Fund (SERF), which raised nearly $150,000 to provide special scholarships to students who had been directly affected by the economic crisis and needed emergency funding in order to stay at Biola. Carissa was one of about 150 students who qualified and received scholarships. Her need was met because her community was generous. Biola alumni, staff, faculty, donors ... they all contributed to the fund.

It was a powerful dose of God’s providence.

“It’s not only how great God is and the great big things he can do, but also the great little things he can do,” said Bixler. “Money is a little thing, and God is still taking care of it.”

For Bixler - and indeed, for those who generously gave money to the fund that supported her - the experience was an exercise in trusting in God’s faithfulness. In times like this, when it’s hard to see how even God could make the math work, faith becomes all the more important.

“This is a season we can look back on as one of the great learning times of our faith,” said Biola’s president, Barry H. Corey. “We can walk forward with assurance that these are the times God shows up in faithful and even staggering ways.”

One of the ways Christians can build faith is to remain generous in giving, even if we don’t think we can afford to, said Rick Bee.

“Now’s the time for us to really step out in faith and support those organizations or individuals that are really having trouble,” said Bee. “It’s a great test for us. Do we trust that God will provide for our needs?”

While the rest of the world loses faith in their governments, banks and even themselves, what a testimony it would be if Christians grew in faith - if, while the rest of the world divested, Christians invested in God’s work. When everything in the world says we should worry more, what if Christians worried less?

It would be quite the message.

4. We must generously and lovingly meet the needs of others

“There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (Acts 4:33-35)

What was going on with the early church of Acts 4? Was it some nascent form of Christian socialism? Some naive utopian vision of communal living?

No, says Mike Wilkins. It was the radical in-breaking of the kingdom of God.

“It was a realignment of values,” said Wilkins. Everything the early Christians thought they knew about individual self-interest was undermined in the call to seek first the kingdom of God. Because Jesus rose from the dead, everything changed. The early church responded to the resurrection by becoming givers rather than takers, stewards rather than owners, other-centered rather than self-centered. They became generous in new, radical ways, because of Christ’s generous act. And as a result, there was “not a needy person among them.”

But ever since the first century, the church has had a hard time living like the Christians of Acts 4.

“I think every generation has to relearn the kingdom mentality of the early church,” said Wilkins, who suggests that whenever we think about money as Christians, we should start not with our own needs but with those of others.

And when better to illustrate these kingdom values than in a recession, when so many in our families, churches and communities are in need of support?

But compassion goes beyond supporting our own communities; it also means that we reach out and help needy people wherever we find them. It means that we give away whatever we can, whenever we can, to ease the burden of others.

American Christians are a rich group. By some estimates, churchgoing American Christians collectively earn more than $2.5 trillion dollars every year. If they were a country, they’d be invited to G7 summits. But what are Christians doing with all this money? One thing they’re not doing - at least not to the extent they could - is giving.

If all American Christians gave 10 percent of their after-tax income back to the church, it would pump some $46 billion into Christian ministry on an annual basis, according to statistics on Christian giving in the book Passing the Plate. And if every Christian in the whole world did it, imagine the global humanitarian needs that could be met!

We have been greatly blessed. There are many who are in great need. It’s just a question of how much we are willing to give up.

5. We can learn to live with less

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will hold to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24)

It’s part of the reason we got into this financial crisis, and it’s one of the things that must be addressed if we want to get out: our obsession with always wanting more.

On an individual and national level, Americans spend more money than they make, borrowing money they can’t repay and buying things they can’t afford. It’s something that can’t be sustained, says Rundle, who thinks the recession is a wakeup call for people to “get a grip on their finances and live more simply.”

The problem of over-the-top consumption is always going to be a problem in capitalism, because capitalism is imperfect and people are fallen, said Scott Rae, a business ethicist and Talbot professor of philosophy of religion and ethics. But that doesn’t mean that we should throw the baby out with the bathwater.

It’s not unethical to spend money, said Rae, “but we must remember that there’s more to life than accumulating stuff.”

Katrina Greene, an anthropology professor in Biola’s Cook School of Intercultural Studies, puts consumerism under the microscope every fall in her “Economy, Society & Values” class, which uses as a textbook Arthur Simon’s How Much is Enough: Hungering for God in an Affluent Culture.

In the class, students are encouraged to ask questions about what consumerism means in their lives. Do we identify ourselves through the things we buy, like clothing, cars and music? How much is enough? Is our thirst for “more” ever satisfied?

Greene, an economic anthropologist, emphasizes the contrast between American economic values like individualism with other cultures where there might be more of an emphasis on the welfare of the group.

“When you see other cultures, you can see how priorities are different,” she said. “We might learn from cultures where it’s not all about us and what we want, but where our identity is bound up in others, moving through life as a group, helping each other.”


At the end of the day, as we lament the bad economy and all that it means for our shrinking wallets, the truth is we have it pretty good. For billions around the world, our “recession” looks like an economic boom. The developing world is constantly living in a recession that is deeper and more desperate than America’s current situation.

And while we shouldn’t minimize the pain that many are going through in our own communities, hopefully these times will provide the affluent West with more empathy for the poor and marginalized in the rest of the world.

“Many people in the West are dealing with issues of unemployment and extreme financial hardship for the first time in their lives,” said Greene. “But many people in the rest of the world deal with issues of poverty and financial struggle every day.”

So perhaps above all, the recession offers us a bit of perspective: Money is important, but it isn’t everything. It isn’t ours, but it is ours to use for God.

It’s a wakeup call to get our priorities in order. It’s a reminder to seek first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and to move forward with confidence that God will bless our faithfulness.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We Can’t Legislate Morality, Can We?

A common myth is that people shouldn’t legislate their morality—especially Christians. But this is false as well. For as Michael Bauman explains, “All laws, whether prescriptive or prohibitive, legislate morality. All laws, regardless of their content or their intent, arise from a system of values, from a belief that some things are right and others wrong, that some things are good and others bad, that some things are better and worse. In the formulation and enforcement of law, the question is never whether or not morality will be legislated but which one.”

The law is undergirded by moral and value judgments. This is inescapable. Now, this does not mean that as Christians we should seek legislation outlawing sins like lust or gossip; but rather we should seek the passage of laws supporting human dignity, sanctity of life, and justice, while outlawing the atrocities of incest (consensual or not), child pornography, rape, and the sex slave trade. This is fully appropriate under a Christian worldview.

For more, see the chapter "Legislating Morality" in To Everyone An Answer.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Understanding the Bible...where do you begin?

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NLT)

Christianity teaches that God has spoken in the Bible. And yet, it remains a very intimidating book and this intimidation keeps people from reading it...and therefore being transformed by it (Romans 12:2).

Over at the main think Christianly website (this blog is just one of the things we do to try to encourage you in your daily adventure with God), you will find resource pages in our (always growing) Card Catalog to help you on your faith journey. To learn how to start understanding the Bible for yourself, click here.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

International Justice Day - Mocha Club

Hello everyone, today is International Justice Day. I was unaware of that fact as well until I received an email from from my friends at The Mocha Club--who are doing something about injustice. They--along with many others--are embodying the good news of the kingdom of God. My wife and I support them because they have a vision for becoming good news to people who desperately need it. Take a minute and watch this video...

"...let justice roll down like waters And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."--Amos 5:24

Another ministry, International Justice Mission.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

A Recipe for Joy

Earlier this year our church was preaching through some of the Psalms and I preached on Psalm 16. Preparing for it taught me a lot about biblical joy and how to enter in to joy as a way of life. I hope you find this passage as encouraging as I did. The text of Psalm 16 is below; you can click here to listen to a "Recipe for Joy."

16:1 A Miktam of David. Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge. 2 I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you.” 3 As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones, in whom is all my delight. 4 The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply; their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out or take their names on my lips. 5 The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. 6 The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance. 7 I bless the Lord who gives me counsel; in the night also my heart instructs me. 8 I have set the Lord always before me; because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken. 9 Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; my flesh also dwells secure. 10 For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. 11 You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

King David's Palace Discovered

I came across this post at STR:

[T]he debunkers of Jewish biblical history got some bad news recently, when a spunky, dedicated archaeologist began her latest dig. Dr. Eilat Mazar, world authority on Jerusalem's past, has taken King David out of the pages of the Bible and put him back into living history. Mazar's latest excavation in the City of David, in the southern shadow of the Temple Mount, has shaken up the archaeological world. For lying undisturbed for over 3,000 years is a massive building which Mazar believes is King David's palace. For Mazar, 48, one of the world's leading authorities on the archaeology of ancient Jerusalem and head archaeologist of the Shalem Center Institute of Archaeology, the discovery was the culmination of years of effort and solid speculation."

Interested in biblical archaeology? Then you would love Zondervan's Archaeological Study Bible.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Is There Hope for the American Marriage?

Is There Hope for the American Marriage? A provocative question to be sure. But it did not come from a sermon or came from Time Magazine in the wake of recent scandals and affairs. Flanagan makes some candid observations, here is one:

"And so two more American families discover a truth as old as marriage: a lasting covenant between a man and a woman can be a vehicle for the nurture and protection of each other, the one reliable shelter in an uncaring world — or it can be a matchless tool for the infliction of suffering on the people you supposedly love above all others, most of all on your children."

So is there hope? Yes, but it will take a change in thinking and it will take people investing time and getting input (along with healthy servings of grace). One such voice seeking to help families and offer hope is Family Life Today with Dennis Rainey. If you do not know about this wonderful organization, you owe it to yourself, spouse, and kids to check out their website and get some encouragement and training.

Check out Family Life

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A Fresh Start...A New Day

“But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”—Lamentations 3:22-26

What a wonderful promise to begin each day with. God's loving kindness never ceases and no matter what happened yesterday; new mercies and grace await us today.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - Gary Habermas

Here is an interaction between historian Gary Habermas and skeptic magazine.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Latest think Christianly Podcast now available!

Hello everyone, great to see so many people checking out the think Christianly blog from all over the country! Welcome to the adventure of thinking Christianly! The latest Podcast is now available (Is Knowledge of God Possible Today?). There are other podcasts and audio at the Think Christianly Website. Subscribe today and please word. The thinkChristianly podcast is also available on iTunes. Enjoy and have a great weekend!

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Stephen Meyer on the Michael Medved Show

Dr. Stephen Meyer is making a splash (for good reason) with his new book, Signature in the Cell. You can listen to him discuss the origin of information, DNA, and intelligent design here. With the celebration of the publication of Darwin's Origin of the Species approaching, you owe it to your self to check out discoveries that reveal the digital code in living cells....An information revolution is here. and information always comes from an intelligent source - a mind. Not a random process.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Want to see some really old manuscripts of the Bible?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


What are you building your life on? "No one sets out to build on sand....Life is this way. No one sits down and plans on having a mediocre existence. No couple pledges their troth aiming at getting a divorce someday. Nobody nurses a grudge in hopes of becoming a bitter resentful person. People don't give birth to children intending to be so busy that their kids won't know them. No one sits down and plans on his life going to hell" (Ortberg). It just happens one choice at a time.

Jesus told a story once and asked a very profound question: sand or rock? What's it gonna be?

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Monday, July 6, 2009

How to Overcome Discouragement

Who doesn't get discouraged sometimes? My wonderful wife passed this along to me...and I needed to hear it. Perhaps you do to? (click here for article)

Discouragement is curable. Whenever I get discouraged, I head straight to Nehemiah. This great leader of ancient Israel understood there were four reasons for discouragement.

First, you get fatigued.
You simply get tired as the laborers did in Nehemiah 4:10. We’re human beings, and we wear out. You cannot burn the candle at both ends. So if you're discouraged, it may be you don’t have to change anything. You just need a vacation! Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.

Second, you get frustrated.
Nehemiah says there was rubble all around. So much that it was getting in the way of rebuilding the wall. Do you have rubble in your life? Have you noticed that anytime you start doing something new, the trash starts piling up?

If you don’t clean it out periodically, it’s going to stop your progress. You can’t avoid it, so you need to learn to recognize it and dispose of it quickly so you don’t lose focus on your original intention.

What is the rubble in your life? I think rubble is the trivial things that waste your time and energy and prevent you from accomplishing what God’s called you to do.

Third, you think you’ve failed.
Nehemiah’s people were unable to finish their task as quickly as originally planned, and as a result, their confidence collapsed. They were thinking, "We were stupid to think we could ever rebuild this wall."

But you know what..

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Church: Love It, Don't Leave It

I came across an article (Newsweek / Washington Post) on the church that was witty, well-written, and perceptive. Here is a taste... (HT Between two Worlds)

Here's what Bono, Oprah, and the guru speakers on PBS won't tell you: Jesus believed in organized religion and he founded an institution. Of course, Jesus had no patience for religious hacks and self-righteous wannabes, but he was still Jewish. And as Jew, he read the Holy Book, worshiped in the synagogue, and kept Torah. He did not start a movement of latte-drinking disciples who excelled in spiritual conversations. He founded the church (Matt. 16:18) and commissioned the apostles to proclaim the good news that Israel's Messiah had come and the sins of the world could be forgiven through his death on the cross (Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 2:14-36).

For almost two millennia, it was axiomatic that Christians, like, actually went to church (or at least told other Christians they did). From Cyprian to Calvin it was believed that for those to whom God "is Father the church may also be Mother." But increasingly Christians are trying to get more spiritual by getting less church.

Take a spin through the religion section at your local bookstore. What you'll find there is revealing - there are "revolutionary" books for stay at home moms, teenagers, and Christian businessmen. There are lots of manifestos. And most of the books about church are about people leaving the church to "find God." There are lots of Kerouacian "journey" stories, and at least one book about the gospel according to Starbucks. It used to be you had to overthrow a country to be considered a revolutionary, and now, it seems, you just have to quit church and go pray in the woods.

We've been in the church our whole lives and are not blind to its failings. Churches can be boring, hypocritical, hurtful, and inept. The church is full of sinners. Which is kind of the point. Christians are worse than you think. Our Savior is better than you imagine.

But the church is not all about oppression and drudgery. Almost every church we know of visits old people, brings meals to new moms, supports disaster relief, and does something for the poor. We love the local church, in spite of its problems, because it's where we go to meet God. It's not a glorified social/country club....(more)

Church: Love It, Don't Leave It By Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Has the Church lost her mind?

“Has the Church lost her mind?” That is a question that many within the evangelical world are rightly asking. After much study of this question, historian Mark Noll concluded that “The scandal of the evangelical mind is that there is not much of an evangelical mind.”[2] Os Guinness laments “Anti-intellectualism is a disposition to discount the importance of truth and the life of the mind. Living in a sensuous culture and an increasingly emotional democracy, American evangelicals in the last generation have simultaneously toned up their bodies and dumbed down their minds.”[3] Guinness even begins his book by including a humorous cartoon illustrating this sad state of affairs with one character saying to the other “Buns of Steel—Brains of Silly Putty!”[4] Evangelical Philosopher and Theologian William Lane Craig observes that “Our churches are filled with people who are spiritually born again, but who still think like non-Christians.”[5] Is this an accurate portrait?

Unfortunately, in many circles it is. But it shouldn't be; it doesn't have to be....

That is why Think Christianly exists. (Luke 10:27)


[2] Mark A. Noll, The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1994), 3.

[3] Os Guinness, Fit Bodies, Fat Minds: Why Evangelicals Don't Think and What to Do About It (Grand Rapids: Hourglass Books, 1994), 9-10.

[4] Ibid., 8.

[5] William Lane Craig, Hard Questions, Real Answers (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2003), 13.

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