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Kill the Comments!

  How is it that otherwise ordinary, well-adjusted people seem to lose their minds, not to mention their dignity, on social media? Soren Kierkegaard (1813-1855), the Danish philosopher, once wrote a little confession entitled, "Kill the Commentators!”  It was a bit of satire, essentially stating that commentators and commentaries often look for ways to soften the sharp edges of Scripture and allow us loopholes in the ways that we interpret the Bible so that we don't have to deal with the plain meaning of the text and the high calling of obedience.  In his own words: The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging...

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Eternal Souls Living in a Temporary World

  If you have ever explored the founding of the United States in any depth, you catch a glimpse into what exactly these brave, early American souls had long been seeking.  More or less, the John Adams and Thomas Jeffersons amongst them thought to themselves, “The world has become a place torn apart by power-hungry rulers, rigid prescriptions, and indifference towards the realities of human depravity. But now, here in this new land, we have a good shot at actually getting things right.” One would be terribly remiss to skip a key part of this nation’s founding—that it has Christian principles in its foundation.  I have found myself inspired and encouraged as I have read and learned of this facet of America’s heritage. However, I’ve also seen how an understanding of the virtue in our nation’s founding can deteriorate into wishful idealism or a misguided and naïve obsession with a non-existent utopia. All...

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Your Kingdom Come

I’ll never forget the first time I stood in the Rotunda of the Capitol building in Washington D.C., and realized the extent of similarities between the pagan Roman Empire and the United States of America.  Laws were being argued and passed in the House and Senate below me and above me was Constantino Brumidi’s gorgeous fresco The Apotheosis of Washington, finished in 1865, after the Civil War ended. The fresco depicts President George Washington raised to the heavens and declared a god by the goddesses Victory and Liberty.  Surrounding him are scenes with six other Roman gods: Bellona (war), Minerva (science), Neptune (marine), Mercury (commerce), Vulcan (mechanics), and Ceres (agriculture).  I remember coming to the conclusion that here are the altars to the gods of America’s true religion.  After all, how can a nation modelled after the Roman Empire ever be truly Christ-like? The abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison thought the U.S....

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Speak Up

In our present culture and political season, one of my biggest challenges as a Christian is knowing how and when to use my voice, if at all. Speak Up? Psalm 39:2: “I was mute and silent, I refrained even from good, and my sorrow grew worse.” We’ve probably all heard that there are some things we just shouldn’t talk about in polite company, including religion and politics. We’ve all been around (or maybe have even been) people who are rash, argumentative, and offensive with their viewpoints. So keeping to this rule of etiquette keeps conversations polite and respectful of varying thoughts and opinions. Particularly now in our world of social media, it’s very easy for people to “tweet” their minds; everyone can have a voice. We witness people disagreeing in sometimes ugly, even slanderous ways. It makes me wonder if in our society we are losing the ability to thoughtfully and logically discuss ideas, hear...

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Our Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

It’s election season. This used to be only a few months long, but this election has been dragging on for nearly a year. I’m usually a political junky who loves to keep up with all the twists and turns of the campaign, but even I am sick of it. It’s no news that most of the country is without a candidate they can get behind. This seems true even in my college town which is a very political place. Our bumper sticker to bumper ratio is way above the national average, but for the first time since I’ve lived here (going on 18 years) I rarely see a sticker for either candidate. This vacancy is times a hundred among those of you who make up the millennial generation. This year my son Cooper (age 19) will be voting for the first time.  It’s a big moment, or at least it should be. I remember when I voted in...

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Election Year Exiles

When we read the New Testament in present day America, it is always with a degree of imaginative removal, like watching a period piece on PBS. We cock our head: you don’t say! There always seem to be sandals and dusty robes, grapes and flatbread, lots of sheep…bleating.  Peter and Paul and all those Marys — they look dirty, but somehow pristine; wisdom makes them seem to glow. They look like Morgan Freeman, or Gandalf, and when they say curious things, it’s hard to separate what’s cultural from what’s timeless. It’s easy to relegate Biblical themes to a Roman Empire movie set — for example, assuming that idolatry was an ancient problem, or that modesty is now outdated. Likewise, the idea that we are all aliens and strangers is hard to grasp in our patriotic “Christian country.”  After all, the early Christians (and for that matter, the Jews) lived in enemy-occupied territory;...

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Welcome to October!

Why should we care about politics? What good could possibly come from an election cycle such as this? Don't politicians just create more problems for us than anything else? If you are honest with yourself, perhaps as you sit down to read this article you have a very similar reaction to politics as Charlie Brown in the cartoon below: Why would a ministry such as God Centered Life devote an entire month to the topic pre-election politics? Actually, the reason is in order to not discuss politics at all! Instead, we all need to be reminded that as followers of Jesus, politics and the election cycle must be understood in light of who God is and the kingdom of heaven. We cannot rightly live in our world as Christians without understanding that the rulers of this world are ultimately ruled by the great Ruler and King of the entire universe. Sometimes it appears...

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Thought Crimes and the Silencing of Dissent: Part 2

This article is the second in a two-part series. Find Part 1 here. Many of these issues are also explored in the author's book entitled A Wilderness of Mirrors: Trusting again in a cynical world (Zondervan 2015).   The Tyranny of Political Correctness Some people have to step up to the plate. No complex society can function without organizing principles and leadership. Even if one is (rightly) sickened by historical abuses of power, the only way of preventing their repetition is for the principled and virtuous to do their best with responsibility. There is always a risk. For as Abraham Lincoln noted, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” So who should exert it? The last millennium of European history could be seen as a parade of different factions getting their moment in the limelight. In crude generalization it went from: • Chieftains and warlords in...

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The Priority of Life

Have you ever found yourself overbooked with just too many things to do? There have been such times in my life when I really felt “stretched.” It was during one of those times when there were many moving parts in the business I was leading that I sought advice from my friend Peter Drucker. In giving his advice, Peter reminded me in a very forceful way that the issues before me in the business were not about determining priorities but instead about determining the priority and doing it. He then gave me a history lesson on the use of the word "priority." It came into the English language in the fourteenth century, but it wasn’t until the twentieth century that it was pluralized. Later that evening as I was reading in the book of Matthew, I came to the words in chapter 6:33, “… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and...

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“The Authority of the Bible” Panel, September 25, 6:00 p.m.

Is Scripture authoritative? Can we trust Scripture as the very words of God Almighty? These are questions that God’s people have wrestled with from the beginning, and are questions that are extremely relevant in today’s skeptical Western culture. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 declares, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” Scripture itself makes the declaration that it is authored ultimately by God himself and that as a result, it is useful for all areas of life in order that the follower of Christ might be completely prepared to serve God. However, there are many skeptics both in the church and outside the church today that would argue that certain parts of Scripture should not be in the canon, that there are authorial integrity issues in certain books...

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