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Easter After Exile

Easter 2020 was like no Easter in living memory. The global pandemic due to COVID19 caused most churches in North America and around the world to pause large gatherings to allow some breathing space for health officials to understand and hopefully contain this rapidly spreading virus. Like many other congregations, we were disappointed, but not dismayed. We would miss the opportunity to wear our bright coloured clothes, to sing our loudest and most triumphant songs and to revisit together the…

Did Jesus Lie to His Brothers in John 7?

The story told in The Gospel of John about Jesus going or not going to the Feast of Booths has always made me a little nervous. At first glance it appears to present Jesus as lying to his brothers about his intention to go up to Jerusalem so as to participate in the festival. The passage reads as follows: After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him,…

Why Pastors Aren’t Perfect

There have been a number of pastoral failures over the last several years, from both sides of the evangelical spectrum, each one a painful reminder that pastors are far from perfect. Moral weakness, shocking insensitivity and gross negligence have been prominently displayed. As Christians we should be angry, we should demand better, we should ask questions, but we should not be shocked, for at least the following four reasons. Because Pastors Are Sinners A man is not called to the pastorate…

4 Signs You Might Be A Petty Tribalist

According to the Apostle Paul, petty tribalism keeps us from growing in our faith and achieving our full potential as followers of Jesus Christ: “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human…

Towards Unity Of Mind And Judgment

Disunity in the church has always been a problem: “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10 ESV) Unity is hard because people are sinful. Unity is hard because our understanding is partial. Unity is hard because the devil strives against it. Unity is hard because some people desire prominence. Unity is hard because the…

How Do Christians Change The World?

The desire to change the world is characteristic of the born again, Spirit filled Christian. Jesus said: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 ESV) That verse alone would seem to indicate that a Christian ought to be distressed by the present condition of the world and he or she ought to be encouraged by the prospect for true and lasting change. Things are bad now, but Jesus promises that one day things will be better. But when will that happen? And how…

12 Simple Rules (For Following and Serving Jesus in Difficult Times)

Christians all over the western world are waking up to the reality that we no longer occupy a privileged position within the majority culture. Increasingly, we find ourselves being pushed to the outer margins. The passage of Bill C-4 in Canada and the ongoing legal battle in Finland have made us all acutely aware of our vulnerability. Thankfully the Bible is replete with useful counsel directed specifically at believers enduring similar circumstances. Hebrews 13 is one such passage. The Epistle…

Make Disciples FROM All Nations Or OF All Nations?

Are we to make disciples of people FROM all nations or are we to make disciples OF all nations? I suppose you could make an argument that, at least in English, both options are grammatically possible. The text reads as follows: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with…

Render Unto Caesar

Until Jesus returns to reign and rule over all things to the glory of the Father, Christians will find themselves living under two different forms and expressions of authority. Jesus addressed this head on saying: “Therefore render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Matthew 22:21 ESV) Notice that he didn’t say: “Render unto me the things previously rendered unto Caesar.” He did not say that because it was not yet time for him to begin ruling on the…

The Path Between Legalism And Antinomianism

As long as the church has existed it appears that there have been some people making too much of the law and some people making too little. The Apostle Paul spent a great deal of his time pushing back against those who were making too much of the law. To the Galatians he said things like: “we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law,…

Theological Discourse: Necessary, but Dangerous

Theological discourse is necessary but dangerous. Necessary because, as John Stuart Mill reminded us many years ago, truth is strengthened through dialectic. A good discussion, wherein points are made, challenged, refined and restated is a God-glorifying part of how we grow as followers of Jesus Christ. Dangerous though, because it creates a context and a temptation in which we may experience and express contempt for our theological or ideological opponents. There is a world of difference…

A Few Principles on Civil Disobedience

Civil disobedience isn’t always right and it isn’t always wrong. One of the most helpful passages in the Bible with respect to this issue is found in today’s RMM reading from Acts 5[1]. In Acts 5:20 the Apostles are given a direct charge from God via an Angel of the Lord: “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” (Acts 5:20 ESV) This contradicted a direct command from their civil authorities, as recorded in Acts 5:27-28: “And the high priest questioned…