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The Glory of Christ at Christmas

Some years ago now when the “Christmas” debate first began, I preached a sermon series around the holidays called “Making the holidays holy-days.” The point I was making, which seemed intrinsically ironic to me, was that those who passionately advocated for renaming the season “holidays” were not really accomplishing what they hoped they were accomplishing. The word “holiday” has a particular historical etymology. It is rooted in the Medieval European habit of naming certain days as “high days and holy days.” They were days marked by particular saints, and on those days there were special religious ceremonies, and feasting as appropriate and particular to the occasion as it demanded. In other words, “holidays” is a distinctly Christian, religious term. When you say “happy holidays,” you are really saying “happy Christian religious season of feasting and merriment based upon these holy days that we are in right now.” I understand that when people...

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Shedding Light on Gay Marriage

The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for November 2014. At time of writing the U.S. Supreme Court has just decided to not decide on gay marriage. As anticlimactic as a non-decision decision is, this was nonetheless of great significance. Effectively, the Supreme Court has legitimated the decisions of States to allow gay marriage by refusing to intervene (one way or another). Commentators have wondered whether this was motivated so as not to be tarnished with a Roe v. Wade like stigma which the Court has carried ever since its decision on abortion, at least in the eyes of the conservatives in the country. But whatever the motivations of the Court may or may not be, the result is the same. Gradual, increased, gay marriage. In this case what then should Christians do? The answer is far from obvious. On the one hand, some urge belligerent...

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Holy Internet Debate

The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for July 2014. The text, ‘be holy as I am holy’, is perhaps one of the most old-fashioned sounding in the Bible. But it is newly alive with interpretative complexities. How are we to be holy? Can Christians be called to be holy? What is the most effective means by which Christians are urged towards holiness? Is it legalism to urge the use of the law in Christian discipleship? Are Christians supposed to put effort into their holiness? Particularly amusing has been a minor debate taking place in the nether world of the internet as to whether Christians are actually sinners. Given that most would recognise that Christians are also regenerate and justified, it seems unlikely that any can deny seriously that Christians are nonetheless still liable to sin. If any do doubt it, they only need to observe the manner of...

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Telling the Truth about ISIS

The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for October 2014. Observing the conversation regarding the abhorrent evil that is ISIS, I have come to two conclusions. One, worldview matters. Two, some, even when their worldview is patently failing, will continue to stick their head in the sand. ISIS is such an obvious evil that is hard to find sufficient adjectives to describe its horror. None of rational turn of mind will deny that evil. The challenge is to interpret it within a framework that makes sense. Whence this evil? Who are these people? Why do they act this way? Out of the answers to such questions will be formed a practical policy to defeat the evil itself. It appears that the secular worldview with relation to ISIS is that these are not the true representatives of Islam, and that the motivations for their actions are largely political. The solution, therefore,...

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The Gospel of God #20, Romans 2:6-8, “Paul’s Screwtape Letter”

When I was looking at this passage earlier this week, the thought came to my mind that this was probably the most countercultural passage in the Bible! How could we look at this passage and understand it today? Why would we invite a friend to come to church to hear this passage explained? And then it dawned on me: here in this passage is the antidote to probably the greatest test we face now. I’ve formulated it as "Paul’s Screwtape Letter"—playing off the famous book by C.S. Lewis. Paul here is providing ammunition to counter one of the standard temptations that we face at the moment. I would love to have your input and observations as we look at Romans 2:6-8 on Sunday at College Church. Here is a video introducing the theme of the sermon. And here is one recent analysis* of the prevalent narcissism of our culture which this passage answers. What Paul is showing is why...

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The Gospel of God #17 and a Pastoral Note

I hope you will join us this Sunday, February 16, at 8:00, 9:30, or 11:00 a.m. as we continue in our study of Paul’s letter to the Romans in our series, “The Gospel of God.” I’ll be preaching a message entitled “Homosexual Practice and Contemporary Society” from Romans 1:26-27: 26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. You may watch a video preview about this week’s sermon here. In preparing for this message, and the one last week, I sent the following pastoral note to our congregation. (Note, if you missed last Sunday’s sermon, you can listen online here.) This coming weekend, February 8-9, and the following Sunday, February 16, we are...

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