To teach or preach a Bible text well is to discover at least one great principle in the text and to help people apply it. This is my mode of teaching and preaching—and how I teach others to teach and preach. Before a good sermon is over, all the people in the congregation should have some principled action in mind that can help guide them to honor and please the Lord more by their lives, by God's grace.
The Bible is an awesome adventure, introducing precious eternal teachings within specific historical contexts. Through its pages readers find universal principles dramatically revealed in extraordinary human persons. God's eternal principles always matter, and so do specific timely moments of Divine action within people's lives.
Wise parents, grandparents and educators nurture "higher-order thinking skills" (HOTS) in children, youth and one another for many good reasons. Most importantly, HOTS vividly celebrates that we humans are not merely creatures of nature; we are not now limited to the sensory world, or the world of time and space. Because of the HOTS potential that the Lord already built into our first ancestors, we can rise above our temptations, reflect on our behavior, navigate dilemmas, develop character, and even become Godly people by grace.
The history of the splendid human activity of reading especially centers around the Bible. Besides its divine inspiration, there are several reasons that make it the Best Book ever: millions of people have learned to read in order to read the Bible; the Bible text is supported by the greatest documentation; the Bible sets the records for manuscript copies and books written about it; movable type was invented to help propagate the Bible. Even in the very secular New York City, my town, the largest library – the New York Public Library on Fifth Avenue with the iconic giant sculptures of lions in the front – features the Bible in three of its four murals in the lobby near the main reading room.
While the wonderful surface linguistic details of the Biblical stories and teachings help carry their power, post-modern Biblical hermeneutical study helps uncover deeper linguistic reserves of linguistic power that the Holy Spirit then magnifies. One of these reserves involves the amazing and subtle linguistic patterns utilized by the skilled, Spirit-led, Biblical authors.
The increasing failures of our schools are not primarily the fault of the education establishment or the teachers. The problem is that we dismantled the prize-winning, God-ordained architecture of education that made our country great. It is time to restore the successful education architecture, at least wherever you and I have influence.
Can we rediscover the joy of deep reading and engagement with Bible texts? Can the "A.D. The Bible Continues" epic series draw our attention back to the best Book for another look? Can we experience again the richness of the grace of Divine revelation?
The annual Purim date is fixed at about one month before Passover, Good Friday, and Resurrection Sunday. It is seen by some as a strictly Jewish holiday, but since we Christians are fully "grafted into" God's special relationships, it makes sense for us to celebrate Purim as well.
On February 12, 2015 – exactly 150 years after Abraham Lincoln's final birthday – Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James B. Comey gave one of the most wise and relevant perspectives on the racial issues of 2015 in a 23 minute speech at the Jesuit Georgetown University. Even through the media sound-bites, the timeliness and truth of Director's comments were cogent, clear, and widely praised. I
One of the greatest beauties of Biblical living is that it does not depend on the weather! Weather and climate issues have often worked to awaken people to their Godly responsibilities, but many of those human responsibilities have been defined from the beginning.
"Tutor 2-hours a week and benefit 2-people forever," I just heard someone wisely advise. So very true. That quote captures one of the most important expressions of faith, hope and love in any community – the volunteer spirit. Every act of devoted action to give faithful, informed, regular service to address needs within our communities or on mission trips can embody the very spirit of Christ. That joyful ministry service can be a measurable benefit both to the people who are helped and to the volunteer helpers.
This is deeply encouraging, because Gospel-teaching churches must take bold Biblical leadership on the present American racial scene for there to be real progress. The very institutions that remain so embarrassingly segregated on Sunday mornings can become the brightest, exemplary beacons of light for racial justice and reconciliation going forward. This is also a personal passion; racial social justice has been a constant and costly major theme of my life and ministry.
Many of the 2014 protests have missed their mark. At the risk of oversimplification, we believe that there are two profound traits that distinguish many of the 2014 protests. If we deal with these two profound traits, we can achieve the needed social changes more effectively in 2015 and beyond.
This Thanksgiving, let us all joyfully thank the Lord God for his sovereign grace, shaping Gospel Progressive leadership at so many points throughout history. Also, let us thank the Lord God for his amazing grace empowering you and me to continue this precious progressive Gospel witness and work now.
Of the hundreds of thousands of published Christian writers over the centuries since the Scripture books were complete, none have had a level of influence to compare to Augustine. Even now in 2014, he remains a #1 favorite for huge numbers of both Evangelical leaders and Roman Catholic leaders. He was a scholar and an evangelist; he was a faithful senior leader of the church universal and a charismatic healer who made house calls. Now he is 1660 years old. Happy Birthday, Augustine!
The Reformation was a precious but complex step in Church history, where the beloved Biblical teachings of the amazing grace of God were renewed. We are all beneficiaries – Protestant, Roman Catholic, and everyone else. What can we learn from Martin Luther, Ignatius Loyola and others from that era – and especially from the Living Lord now – so that we can approach this 500th anniversary with a renewed awareness of the Lord and his purposes for his whole Church?
In 2014, the agenda for right action when it comes to the creation, our environment, is still best described by the Scriptures. Creation-care guidance includes four vital Biblical teachings, all four of them introduced early in the Bible and then repeated significantly throughout its pages.
From Rockefeller Center I took the subway to St. Paul's Chapel, directly across the street from where the World Trade Center Twin Towers had stood, on the east side of WTC. Thirteen years ago those towers became a huge pile of massive steel, toxic ash, broken concrete, human remains, and burning fuel from the airplanes and massive tanks full of heating oil for the Towers.
Thirteen years have passed since the tragic terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center Twin Towers. We remember that day as if it were yesterday. Two years ago I wrote on our reflections on 9/11. Much has changed, yet what matters remains the same.
Who I am today is the result of a huge "clerical error" – where nobody lost, but many gained.
We live in a time of great persecution against followers of our Lord Jesus in very many places in the world. More people are paying a great price for their commitment to Christ now than any other time in the life of his Church. We must act, starting with effectual, fervent prayer.
Such grace-based spiritual freedom is the best antidote to Jihadist exploitation and oppression. Existential freedom fully supports all people's right to choose their religion and values – and also to choose to change their religion and values. This is why the Gospel is transmitted by witness, not by warfare.
The Supreme Court was right to allow corporations to be exempt from the mandate to pay for abortion pills or contraception when their leaders have established religious reasons against them. Moral issues can stand as questions for the liberty of conscience – whether individual conscience or corporate conscience.
Yesterday we examined the wholeness of the Gospel that fully integrates the saving Gospel and the social Gospel. The Gospel is one, a unified whole like a precious two-sided coin.
What's truly tragic in an ironic way is that many of our divisions make no sense at all! For example, are you an American passionate about the health and safety of all babies being nurtured in the womb? If so, you are most likely against abortion-on-demand, and you are drawn to supporting the Republicans. However, are you passionate about the healthy environment of all people once they are born? If so, you are now likely drawn to supporting the Democrats and their programs for protecting and improving the environment.