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In the Name

“When we pray, we usually end our prayers with “in the name of Jesus” (John 16:23). It is our custom. A habit. I heard a song recently that repeats—and repeats—a line about love for the name of Jesus. But if we repeat anything often enough, does it devolve into nonsense syllables? Psalm 23 uses the phrase, “for his name’s sake.” Does it slow you down or do you skip over it? A phrase like “in the name of Jesus” is…

Ten Reasons Why You Need to Belong to a Church

“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25) Read more…

Learning Family

“As I sat there taking in the sermon that November morning, my hyper-vigilant self was pleasantly surprised. Delighted, even. Somehow, in a talk about family, I—a single, celibate gay man—felt not only seen, but included, edified, and even valued for my role in the family. I’m not going to give a recap of the talk because that’s not the point of my story, but let me just say that I was deeply encouraged by the way my pastor spoke about…

Growing My Faith in the Face of Death

“A significant number of believers in God find their faith shaken or destroyed when they learn that they will die at a time and in a way that seems unfair to them. Before my diagnosis, I had seen this in people of many faiths. One woman with cancer told me years ago, “I’m not a believer anymore—that doesn’t work for me. I can’t believe in a personal God who would do something like this to me.” Cancer killed her God.…

An Elephant in the Room-Sized Post on Gluttony

“Gluttony is the big fat elephant in the room of the evangelical church. I don’t remember ever hearing a sermon or lesson on gluttony when I was growing up, despite the fact it was rampant all around us. I remember plenty of talk on the dangers of sex and alcohol and even rock and roll music, but nary a word on over-indulging in food. A few years ago as I studied for a sermon on the sin of gluttony it…

Be With Them

“Have you ever thought a little critically and maybe uncharitably about someone else’s prayers? It’s hard to admit, but there have been times when I’ve scoffed a little when someone prays, “Lord, please be with them.” My theological mind immediately sends out an alert. “Um, don’t you know about the omnipresence of God?” And then the critical and uncharitable part of my flesh secretly scoffs, “What a generalized prayer. What these people needed was more specific and targeted prayers that…

Hope for the Depressed

“Never has so much been crammed into one word. Depression feels terrifying—your world is dark, heavy, painful. Some days you think that physical pain might be easier to endure; at least the pain would be localized. Instead, depression goes to your very soul, corrupting everything in its path. Dead but walking is one way to describe it. You feel numb, but you still remember when you actually felt something. Somehow that makes it harder to bear. So many things about your life…

Why You Need a Heavenly Perspective

“Sometimes life gets tough—Really tough. We face disappointments, sickness, conflict, anxiety, loss, and even death.  If you are human like me, you know it hurts. And sometimes, it’s unbearable. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to throw in the towel at times. But in those dark moments, I always remember that this is not our final destination—This is not Heaven! Please let that sink in for a moment. Look around you. Think about your life and situation. And…

Misunderstanding the Church

“Whether we have tolerated our new restrictions with heavy hearted patience, or now feel a resistance to them in their concept and execution, what has clearly emerged is that government and society don’t merely undervalue the work of the local church, but that they fundamentally don’t understand it. Local evangelical church fellowships find themselves categorised with anything from a cathedral, to a mosque, to a temple. The categories for church activity outlined in regulation and guidance seem hopelessly out of…

Why Your Church Should Sing New Songs (Not Only Old Songs)

“Some churches sing only old songs—they rely on the great hymns of the faith and add newer selections on only the rarest of occasions. Some churches only sing new songs—they rely on their own songwriters or the Christian top-40 and sing older selections on only the rarest of occasions. I am convinced there is value in deliberately singing both the oldest and the most recent songs (though gladly extend an exception to those brothers and sisters with the conviction that…