Topic | Theology & Biblical Studies

Posts Categorized: Theology & Biblical Studies

Does God Keep His Promises?

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The Tension of the Story Any author will tell you that a good story needs certain elements to work, to bring in and keep a reader engaged. One of the most critical elements is a sense of tension, something that is not quite right that must be resolved at some point. Even the writers of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew mystery books knew this. Besides the main plot, there was always some sense of tension at the end of each chapter that kept you reading—just one more chapter. This principle doesn’t only apply to fiction. The greatest story of. . .
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Giving Thanks for More Than Just STUFF

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Giving Thanks for What We’ve Got We often think of giving thanks as being happy about the stuff we have: the warm house, hot lattes, and our new iPhone. While that is a part of thanksgiving, it may be the smaller part. A spirit of thanksgiving does more than smile contentedly as the platters of turkey and candy-coated sweet potatoes come around. It is good and right to openly express our gratitude for the stuff which makes our lives more pleasant and the people who have loved us through the ups and downs of the last year. These are very. . .
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Parenting Teens & Reliance On Grace

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The Process of Parenting Teens With one child just out of their teens and five still in the throes of their teen years, I’ve understandably been thinking a lot lately about the process of young people transitioning into adulthood. This train of thought has also been triggered by the experiences of many of my peers who are also navigating these waters, and the idealism that many of us in the homeschooling movement bought into about how smooth the sailing would be. Turns out that sin and circumstance are still big factors churning the waters for both our children and ourselves.. . .
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Is God a Stick-in-the-Mud?

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The next time you hear anyone describing God by that longstanding caricature of someone who, upon finding people having fun, tells them to stop, remind them that mankind started with a naked man and a naked woman with an entire world to romp and play in and that that was God’s idea. And when you do have that opportunity for such a rebuttal, I hope that it is on a crowded airplane or a long checkout line at the grocery store. We are Ungrateful Now, you may have to concede right then and there that such a critique can be. . .
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How to Be a Judgmental Christian

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Must We “Judge Not”? If there were one declaration that the world thinks ends any moral argument with a Christian, it would have to be judge not. They think they’ve really got us with that one since it comes right out of the Bible. This is easily the most often heard epithet hurled at us from moving vehicles as my friends and I stand for life at the local abortion clinic. Well, that and the well-reasoned argument of, “Get a job!” This exceedingly compelling employment advise aside, the world doesn’t like it when we speak unpopular truth, and there are. . .
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Jesus Messed Up My Life

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The Neat & Tidy Life I think it was soon after reading Discipline, the Glad Surrender and Ordering Your Private World that I developed the mistaken assumption that Jesus came to make my life neat and tidy. If I was a really good Christian I would follow a schedule, have a daily quiet time, keep up on all household chores, be perfectly consistent in disciplining the children, and always balance work, rest, and play. Perhaps I was the only one living under these assumptions, but I think that some of these ideas are a reflection of our Western and American. . .
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Independence Day

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Living in Shackles The grill is heating up, the drinks are cooling down, and temperatures are on the rise. It must be the fourth of July−Independence Day. A day when we Americans celebrate unshackling ourselves from the heavy yoke of Mother England. In hindsight we yoked ourselves much worse than she ever was of a mind to. We are burdened with regulations and taxes and thousands of laws and we have done it to ourselves. Because we failed to throw off all the shackles that imprisoned us. The motivation for any man under the thumb of his oppressor is freedom.. . .
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God is Scary Beautiful

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God is Scary Beautiful

When God’s Beauty Seems Ugly The problem with God’s beauty is that it often seems so ugly. Not the nice Bible verses, of course. The beauty of holiness—that has an attractive ring to it. We’d like God’s beauty to establish the works of our hands. “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord” (Psalm 27:4). Yes, yes, let’s cross-stitch this (plus lambs and flowers) and frame it. Wait. There’s more. Mountains and men. . .
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My Dad Could Do Magic!

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My Dad Could Do Magic Really. He could. At least through the eyes of a little boy, he could. I’m not talking about divination, which is an abomination. I’m talking about magic. When I was nine or ten, my dad bought a 1956 Cadillac Fleetwood. It was dark green, and was absolutely beautiful. It was as big as a small apartment, and had every option and gadget that was available at the time—but no seat belts. One day, I was sitting in the front seat next to my dad, along with one of my friends. Dad casually said, “Wanna see. . .
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Our “Tomorrowland”

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Tomorrowland Optimism I really enjoyed Brad Bird’s latest cinematic offering about a lost, but still possible, yet fantastically fun, utopian future. His vision was definitely “old school” Disney and by that I mean Walt Disney and his original plan for the “world” that he hoped to create. Like Brad, I remember the optimism of the Space Age when science and technology held all the promises of a brighter day—just down the road—in my lifetime. And Walt was there, envisioning everything and trying to help us realize (before CNN or G-20 or the Internet) that it is indeed a small world. . .
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God is Not Zoltar

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God is not a Zoltar fortune teller. (photo credit: Mark Kaletka @flickr)

Getting Your Fortune Told Back in the days when pinball was popular, video games were in their infancy, and you had to go to arcades to play either one, there was one machine that stood out as unique. It had a major role in the Tom Hanks film Big. It was Zoltar, the fortune teller machine. You can actually buy one of the machines today for around ten thousand bucks. You stick in a coin, Zoltar’s eyes light up, and the machine spits out a card with your fortune. God Isn’t Zoltar It’s sadly common that we approach the task. . .
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Forever Secure with My Father in Heaven

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My Angry Father It brings tears to my eyes when I think of my father. J.L. Barnes—Joseph Lavelle, if you are curious. Born dirt poor as the only child to a mentally ill mother, he surely loved his father, but his father died at age forty-two, when my dad was only thirteen. At that time in Mississippi, the only thing you could do was to drop out of school and work. And so he did, in the dusty fields, picking cotton, hauling wood; anything to support his mother. A child doesn’t know how to care for himself, and a young. . .
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Talking God With Your Kids

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We were driving along, the family and I, when the discussion somehow transitioned into a question from my son, Ethan: “Dad, is there a word for all of the ‘omnis’ associated with God?” Now please be aware that, though that is an important and an amazing question, our family really isn’t that intellectual. In fact, I am pretty sure that the previous chatter included movie storylines, a question about lunch, and a smidgen of gossip. How did we get to theology? Your guess is as good as mine. Anyway, there it was, a very big question. If your family is. . .
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Redemption for the Ruined

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The Scars of the Redeemed Harsh and difficult providences can leave very real scars, both physical and emotional. While none of us are completely free from these marks, some scars are deep. For some, it could be the result of a difficult or abusive childhood, or some sort of trauma related to the sins of their parents. Others might have had a period of rebellion, and still carry baggage from those times. Some might be carrying the pain of rejection from a former spouse who has abandoned their marriage vows. Possibly, you are carrying guilt and remorse because you were. . .
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I Am a Miracle

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Man looking at the sky. (I am a miracle)

The Miracle of Change Not so much like a sea parting or an ax head floating but the same force that acted upon that water and that iron also changed my natural dynamics and the course of my life, and now I am acting differently than I or anyone else ever expected. My previous nature was to sin and to enjoy sin. I also languished as a young occultist and later as an atheist. My parents constantly fought (loudly) in our home and often threatened to divorce each other. Going to school was a type of hell in itself on. . .
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Plant the Gospel in the Lives of Your Children

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Children planting a tree. (Child rearing)

A Child Rearing Garden Child rearing has often been described using the metaphor of tending or growing a garden. However, it seems that we don’t always think fully about all the applications of gardening principles to the child raising enterprise. In fact, it’s entirely possible that if you implemented your actual child discipleship practice to your gardens, you would probably starve. In my own family, I know that most of the energy and effort (particularly in the early years) was heavily tilted in the direction of building fences. We were very concerned with implementing borders and protective measures from external. . .
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Basement Tape #153: Two Cheers for Dispensationalism

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Audio: Two Cheers for Dispensationalism (Basement Tapes #153)

In this conversation we consider both the strengths and weaknesses of dispensationalism. We praise that which is praiseworthy and honestly look at the weaknesses of the movement. We consider both the novelty of dispensationalism, and its courage in light of liberalism. We also look at the fallout that flows from its weaknesses. How has this movement evolved, where did it come from, and why has it so swiftly become the dominant view among professing believers?

Hold Fast to the Traditions

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Hold Fast to the Traditions

A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? But here, in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. It isn’t easy. You may ask ‘Why do we stay up there if it’s so dangerous?’ Well, we stay because Anatevka is our home. And how do we keep our balance? That I can tell you in one word: Tradition! Traditions, traditions. Without our traditions our lives would be as shaky as, as… as a fiddler on the roof!. . .
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The Age of Accountability & the Faith of Your Children

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Age of Accountability

Real Life Brings Questions of the Age of Accountability Serving as a pastor for five years I had to counsel grieving parents at the loss of a child while yet in the womb. I have Christian friends who have had young children die and a precious friend with a child who (it appears to our finite minds) is unable to understand much of what is said to her. I am a father of eleven covenant blessings in our home, but two of our children never made it to our home. One died after about sixteen weeks in the womb, the. . .
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If the Constitution is a Living Document It’s Really a Dead Document

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If the Constitution is a Living Document It's Really a Dead Document

A Living Document Might Say Anything A lot of us have complained about the blatant disregard shown by the courts for the Constitution. We read daily of the latest abuses. Protection for abortion was somehow found in the text along with support for welfarism, world-wide militarism, and for a never-ending drug war. Those who have read the founding documents are astonished at each breach of hermeneutical etiquette as the court’s decisions grow ever distant from the original intent of the authors. It seems to me however, that the abuses of language, text, and intent by the courts are all presaged,. . .
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