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What Is Sin?

What Is Sin? In the little Children’s Catechism that we use at our church the question is answered this way: “Sin is any lack of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God.” ‘Conformity’ is defined this way: “Not being or doing what God requires.” ‘Transgression’ is defined this way: “Doing what God forbids”. That’s a pretty good start. Sin is acting or behaving in a way that does not conform with God’s character or commands. It is about crossing lines that have been laid down for…

Two Ways to Read the Bible in 2020

One of the most transformative things I ever did was read through the entire Book of Genesis – slowly – with the help of several commentaries back in 2003. I’d never done that before. I had read commentaries before for school and I had read through the whole Bible, but I had never intentionally chosen a book of the Bible for intense study and meditation over the course of an entire year – and it turned out to be one of the most spiritually affecting experiences that I’ve ever had. I made use of…

In Or Out? (Or Who Is a Real Christian And Who Is Not?)

It matters whether you are in or out. It matters for you and it matters for the rest of us. No one wants to be one of those people who presumed themselves in when in fact they were out. Those people – despite their sincere protestations – will hear from Jesus the scariest words in all the Bible: ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:23 ESV) The Bible takes this matter very seriously. The entire book of 1 John in the New Testament was written to address the…

5 Habits of Spiritually Healthy (And Happy) People

There are many factors to consider in any discussion of mental health but one of those factors has to do with the development of healthy habits. People can fall into patterns that may contribute to a decline in their physical or mental health. They can also cultivate patterns and habits that contribute to physical and mental well-being. Among the most important of those habits would be these: 1. Community One of the first things the Bible says about human beings is this: “It is not good that…

5 Surprising Things That the Bible Says about Marriage

The Bible is not a book about marriage – at least not mainly or directly. The Bible is a book about God and about people and how God saves people through the life and death of Jesus Christ. Even still, the Bible does have a lot to say about marriage and a great deal of what it has to say runs contrary to our assumptions and values as modern people. Amongst the most surprising revelations would be the following: 1. It is about friendship first and foremost That’s the immediate need that…

Thankful for Philemon

It makes me very happy to know that the Book of Philemon is in the Bible. I’m glad that there is an entire book devoted to pursuing the freedom of a first century Roman slave. I’m glad that Paul tells the former slave owner to regard this man: “no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother.” (Philemon 1:16 ESV) I’m glad that an Apostle of Jesus Christ offered to take personal responsibility for any financial loss that might be involved to the owner: “If he has…

What I Used to Believe about Parenting

20 years ago I was absolutely convinced that if I truly loved the Lord, truly loved my wife, spent quality and quantity time with my kids and consistently led family devotions around the dinner table all 5 of my children would eventually grow up to embrace Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. I would have put the odds at 99% or better. Afterall, the studies I had read said that the young people who were falling away frequently cited the unreality of their parents’ faith as a major…

Do Some Evangelicals Worship the Bible?

You’ve heard the line: “Evangelicals worship God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Bible”.  The joke means to imply that some Christians are in danger of having too high a view of Holy Scripture; they are in danger of reading the Bible not as a means to something (or someone) better, but as an end and idol unto itself. Fair point. It is possible to read the Bible frequently, carefully and reverently and yet to miss the point entirely.  Jesus rebuked the Pharisees in his day saying: Yo…

Saving Acts

Hear this carefully: An act done in faith can be saving. Consider the example of Naaman in the Old Testament. He was told to DO something that he thought was ridiculous: “Go and wash in the Jordan seven times, and your flesh shall be restored, and you shall be clean.” (2 Kings 5:10 ESV) At first he was angry and refused to comply, not seeing how such a simple act in such an insignificant river could accomplish anything of lasting value. But then his servants intervened and convinced him to…

The Pros And Cons of Practicing Baby Dedication

A few years ago I engaged in a good natured internet debate with my friend and colleague Paul Martin about the pros and cons of infant dedication. I was for it and he was against it. Amazingly, we remain friends. This is a low intensity disagreement within the wider evangelical world, but that is not to say that it is unimportant. When a new mom comes to you and asks you to dedicate her beautiful new baby you better know why you will or will not accommodate her request. To help you think…

Why Evangelists Probably Shouldn’t Pastor Local Churches

To be clear, I am incredibly thankful for the gifted evangelists that God has given to his church. My parents came to Christ as part of the Canadian Revival, led in large part by the twin evangelists, Ralph and Lou Sutera. So I am maximally thankful for evangelists. I just don’t think that they should pastor local churches. Here are a few reasons why: 1. A pastor is primarily a teacher When Jesus restored Peter to the ministry he told him: “Feed my lambs.” (John 21:15 ESV) “Tend my…

God Keeps His Promises (And Then Some!)

Sometimes there are two fulfillments for one promise. 1 Kings 8:17-20 provides a perfect example of this principle: “Now it was in the heart of David my father to build a house for the name of the LORD, the God of Israel. 18 But the LORD said to David my father, ‘Whereas it was in your heart to build a house for my name, you did well that it was in your heart. 19 Nevertheless, you shall not build the house, but your son who shall be born to you shall build the house for my name.’ 20 Now the…