11 Dec 2017

Waiting for Resurrection

A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, Their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, When the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; But the word of our God will stand forever (Isaiah 40:6-8). On Sunday and Wednesday evenings, we attempt to have family devotions during dinner.

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27 Nov 2017

Protestant State of the Union (Part II)

This is the second article in a two-part series on Protestantism. The first article can be found here. When the Augustinian monk Martin Luther penned his Ninety-Five Theses in 1517, it can be argued that Luther never intended to start a movement that resulted in splitting the unity of the Western Church. Given that Luther was excommunicated by the Church, I have met Lutherans who do not personally identify as “Protestant.” Luther never left the

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13 Nov 2017

Protestant State of the Union (Part I)

On October 31, 2017, Protestants around the world celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. The occasion created an opportunity to reflect on the many notable contributions of the Protestant Reformation to world history. The many benefits of the Reformation are undeniable–literacy, religious freedom, individual rights, the value of the human conscience, vernacular worship, the five solas, and many others.1 This year, as Protestants celebrate their heritage, I propose that we also stop for

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30 Oct 2017

Having the Goodwill of All the People

Praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved (Acts 2:47 NRSV). This is the final article in a series of reflections on the early church as portrayed in Acts 2:41-47. The previous articles in this series are available in the author’s archives. Acts 2:41-47 paints a compelling and attractive portrait of the early Christian church. Founded on the

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16 Oct 2017

Eating Food with Glad and Generous Hearts

They broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts (Acts 2:46b NRSV). This article is part of a continuing series on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. Previous articles in this series can be found in the author’s archives. The first Christians in Jerusalem formed a community of faith wherein they met in private homes for corporate worship while also continuing to participate in the life of

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02 Oct 2017

Spending Time Together in the Temple

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple… (Acts 2:46a NRSV). This article is a continuation of a series of articles on Acts 2:41-47. The previous articles in this series can be found in the author’s archives. I teach classes on the Bible, world religions, and humanities at several community colleges in my area. Each semester I notice that students seem genuinely surprised when they learn about the Jewish roots of

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18 Sep 2017

Assembling Day by Day

Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts (Acts 2:46 NRSV). This article continues a series of articles on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. Previous articles in the series are available in the author’s archives. As discussed in the previous article in this series, the early Christian church was marked by a spirit

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04 Sep 2017

Holding All Things in Common

“All who believed were together and had all things in common (Acts 2:44 NRSV).” This article is a part of a continuing series on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. Past articles in the series can be found in the author’s archive. In the previous article in this series, we examined how signs and wonders in the early church were the result of the Spirit’s presence and the in-breaking of the kingdom

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21 Aug 2017

Signs and Wonders

“Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles (Acts 2:43 NRSV).” Having analyzed Acts 2:42 in a four–part series of articles, this week we turn our gaze toward the subsequent verses that elaborate on the daily and weekly rhythms of the early Christian church. Acts 2:43-47 offers a briefly sublime account of the church after the day of Pentecost. The first believers shared all things in common and

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07 Aug 2017

Devoted to Prayer

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42 NRSV).” This article is the fourth article in a series on the early Christian church as depicted in Acts 2:41-47. The first three articles were on the apostles’ teaching, fellowship, and the breaking of bread. Both the Renaissance humanists and the Protestant reformers were guided by a similar ethos–a return to the original sources (ad fontes).

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24 Jul 2017

Devoted to the Breaking of Bread

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42 NRSV). This is the third article in a series on Acts 2:41-47. The first article can be found here, and the second article can be found here. Acts 2:41-47 offers an elegantly simple portrayal of the first Christian church. After Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, Luke tells us that the new believers were baptized

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10 Jul 2017

Devoted to Fellowship

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42 NRSV).” (This is the second article in a series on Acts 2:41-47. The first article can be found here.) The verses immediately following Peter’s Pentecost sermon in Acts 2 offer an important look into the practices and structures of the first Christian church. Many of these early practices continue to be the bedrock of Christian worship

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26 Jun 2017

Devoted to the Apostles’ Teaching

“They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (Acts 2:42; NRSV).” Acts 2:41-47 provides us with an important window into the Jerusalem mother church, the source of all holy, catholic, and apostolic churches in the world today. Given that nearly 2,000 years have passed since the day of Pentecost, modern Christians do well whenever they re-investigate the roots of their own faith and practices. When we

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12 Jun 2017

Choosing the Best

The peanut butter aisle of a major grocery store presents the average shopper with a great moral dilemma. From the wide variety of options available, how does one select which jar of peanut butter to purchase? The discerning shopper has to be able to select between multiple brands and different price points. Furthermore, the all-important crunchy or creamy decision needs to be made. As the shopper makes his or her final choice, other factors must

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29 May 2017

Augustine on Biblical Interpretation

“So anyone who thinks he has understood the divine scriptures or any part of them, but cannot by his understanding build up this double love of God and neighbour, has not yet succeeded in understanding them.”1 Those familiar with the biography of Augustine will know that after being ordained a presbyter in the African town of Hippo, reportedly against his own wishes and desires, he requested time off to study the scriptures intensely.2 However a

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15 May 2017

Webber on the Purpose of Worship

“My longing for a more satisfying worship grew as each route I took in worship led me to a dead end street. But after giving up the evangelistic approach to worship and after the unfulfilling experience of educational worship, I didn’t know what to do next. I was running out of reasons for being at church (Webber, Evangelicals on the Canterbury Trail).”1 In the opening quote above, Robert Webber’s personal experiences raise a legitimate question,

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01 May 2017

Nouwen On Christian Leadership

For Christian leaders, each year offers a whole slate of conferences to attend for the purpose of honing and developing the skills needed to lead the church in the next millennium. A few notable examples of popular conferences, especially with younger evangelical leaders, are Willow Creek Leadership Summit, Catalyst, and Q. These conferences host keynote speakers from both within the church and from the wider culture. Attendees listen to talks from pastors, military leaders, business

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17 Apr 2017

The Beauty of Bi-Vocational Ministry

A few years back I had lunch with a pastor of one of the larger churches in my town. During the course of our conversation, I described to him my weekly schedule. As the pastor of a small house church, I preach every other Sunday, teach an evening Bible study on a regular rotation, and meet individually with people during the week for discipleship. This leaves me with a lot of “free time” to be

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03 Apr 2017

After Baptism

In January I began teaching a series of evening Bible studies on the early Christian church as depicted in the book of Acts. Each week we began by re-reading Acts 2:41-47 as the focal point of our ongoing study. Over the course of our time, we dissected the practices, rituals, structures, and leadership patterns of the early church. Most of our study was free from debate and controversy. However, when we finally came to the

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20 Mar 2017

Coffee Shop Ministry

“I look upon all the world as my parish; thus far I mean, that, in whatever part of it I am, I judge it meet, right, and my bounden duty to declare unto all that are willing to hear, the glad tidings of salvation.”–John Wesley, Journal As an adjunct lecturer at several local colleges and the pastor of a small house church, I have been given the gift of a flexible schedule. My pastoral duties

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