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COVID-19 Best Practices (Updated)

On Wednesday, March 11th 2020 the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus or COVID-19 to be a pandemic. This is uncharted territory for all of us. It is important that we respond wisely, courageously, compassionately and with faith. Toward that end here are a few recommended “Best Practices” for churches, pastors and members.

Why Does Jesus Commend the Dishonest Manager?

The Parable Of The Dishonest Manager seems to show Jesus approving of dishonest and unethical business practices. But how can that possibly be?

Where Is God When It Hurts?

You have to know God the way Job did in order to trust him like that. When you can’t find God in your pain – you better know him enough to know that he sees you, he’s got you and he will never let you go.

Did God Harden Pharaoh’s Heart?

Reading through the Bible is a dangerous exercise. I remember doing it for the first time as a teenager and being quite struck and disoriented when I came to Exodus 4:21: And the LORD said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do before Pharaoh all the miracles that I have put in your power. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go. (Exodus 4:21 ESV) What does it mean that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart? How is that fair? Why would he do that? What does…

The Strangest Circumcision Story Ever

If you were to make a short list of the strangest paragraphs in the Bible, Exodus 4:24–26 would almost certainly be on it. Moses has just met God at the burning bush and been given an exalted commission: go and speak to Pharaoh, and serve as God’s agent for the redemption of his people. He’s been called and equipped with miraculous powers, and now he begins to move out in fulfillment of his mission. We’re not prepared for what comes next: At a lodging place on the way the LORD met him and…

Yet I Will Trust Him

Ilya Repin [Public domain] This is one of the most impressive statements preserved in Holy Scripture, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him” (Job 13:15 KJV). John Calvin wrote a whole sermon on this section of Job’s speech. In it he compares God to a wise and benevolent surgeon. The surgeon knows when and where to attack the disease – and when to wait and stay his hands. Calvin says: “Let us not think it strange if He does not heal them at…

How Is Christ the End of The Law?

This is one of those verses that should come with a warning label: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Romans 10:4 ESV).  Does that mean that the law is bad? No, it can’t mean that. The Apostle Paul says, “the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good” (Romans 7:12 ESV). Does that mean that Christians can ignore the law and live however they please? No, it can’t mean that either. Romans 3:31 says, “On the contrary, we uphold…

Help! I’ve Fallen Behind On My Bible Readings!

It is surprisingly difficult to turn a good intention into a life-long discipline. That isn’t to say it can’t be done. But it will be hard, there will be setbacks, and it will take both backbone and resilience. Now is probably a good time to remind you of that. If you are like many Christian people, you made a commitment this year to read through your Bible. Good for you! That commitment is worth celebrating! Wanting to do a good thing is a good thing! But wanting to do it doesn’t necessarily…

Grace, Gratitude And Affliction

Overwhelming grace doesn’t always lead to overwhelming gratitude: “So they ate and were filled and became fat and delighted themselves in your great goodness. “Nevertheless, they were disobedient and rebelled against you and cast your law behind their back and killed your prophets, who had warned them in order to turn them back to you, and they committed great blasphemies.” (Nehemiah 9:25–26 ESV) It’s difficult to bless a sinful people. We see this again and again in the Old Testament – and…

What Is Faith?

Faith is a remarkably hard concept to define. It is the sort of thing that is easier to illustrate than to explain and therefore most of the classic verses on faith are given at the end of an extended narrative or story. Looking at them as a whole we might choose to define faith in the following way: Faith is believing God enough to go Abraham is often referred to as “the father of faith”. His story is the illustration of faith par excellence in the Bible. As the Apostle Paul says: “Abraham…

Will I Fall Away?

The Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13 appears to have been given to order to answer a very perplexing question: why do people respond to the Gospel in such radically different ways? Why do some people persevere and bear fruit, 30, 60 and 100 fold while others whither, fade and fall away? When persecution comes, according to Jesus, some people will break and other people will blossom. How can I make sure that I come out on the right side of that prediction? It mustn’t be wrong to ask a…

How to Begin (And Maintain) A Bible Reading Habit in 2020

Resolutions come and go but habits define who we are and how we live our lives. A habit is something we build our routine around. A habit is a set block in our daily schedule. Like brushing your teeth, or walking to work, or reading the news on the subway – a habit is something you can’t not do. It’s not just part of your day, it’s part of our identity. Therefore Christians choose their habits wisely – and one of the wisest habits you can choose is the habit of daily Bible reading. I’ve been…