Last week, the legendary blues guitarist B. B. King died at the age of 89, and I truly hope he is in God's presence now, either as someone who knew the Lord during his lifetime or as someone who found grace in the closing moments of his life.
But my purpose in writing this article is not to judge Mr. King. Instead, it is to raise the question of what our society means when it says "Christian."
A few days ago, after hearing the news of King's passing, I went to Wikipedia to read more about his final days. more >>
Czech church reformer Jan Hus was burned at the stake 600 years ago this summer. Thursday evening I attended a commemoration at the Czech Embassy in Washington, DC, which included a thoughtful lecture followed by a delicious buffet meal. The room was packed. Apparently there's a Jan Hus subculture with few opportunities for self-expression!
The young Czech cultural attaché energetically introduced the evening by explaining that even though the Czech Republic is one of the most secular countries on the world, Hus is honored as a martyr for conscience. A Protestant theologian from Charles University in Prague, where Hus also taught, gave the lecture.
Hus was an heir to the English church proto-reformer John Wycliffe, whose themes of personal holiness and direct reading of Scripture in native language he reiterated. Wycliffe died a natural death, but a quarter century later he was condemned at the Council of Constance, where a still very much alive Hus was tried for heresy, defrocked and sentenced to death. Hus had earlier sardonically noted that his goose was ready to be cooked, and it literally was. Wycliffe's body was also disinterred and burned. Thorough! more >>
If there's one thing I've learned in my first five years of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ, it's that everything within the natural, fleshly part of myself violently resists his good rule over my life. The sin that dwells in me, while being stripped of its domineering power, is still very present, active and hostile to God. I am a new creation in Christ Jesus, yes. The old has been washed away and the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
But while the new has indeed come, it has not yet fully arrived. I am totally forgiven and have been irreversibly justified through the guilt-obliterating work of God's Son, but the fullness of what he's purchased for me has not yet been applied. I've been called and justified, but I will not be glorified and free from sin until the death of this mortal body is victoriously swallowed up by immortality (1 Cor. 15:54).
Every Christian reading this column finds themselves in the same "already, but not yet" stage of redemptive history that I find myself in. Jesus has come into the world and offered himself up as a fragrant offering to God on our behalf. When we trusted in him for the forgiveness of our sins, the Spirit of God sealed us and his transformative work in us has caused our affections to shift profoundly away from the sins we once loved and toward the God we once opposed. Yet . . . we still find something in ourselves that desires to oppose the God we now love and enjoy the sins we now hate. It's a very schizophrenic-ish experience, this whole Holy Spirit indwelling our fallen flesh thing. more >>
The big story this week from Pew Research Center's report, "America's Changing Religious Landscape," was the sharp decline in the number of Christians and large growth in those who are unaffiliated with any religion. Digging deeper, the report contains interesting news about Evangelicals.
Here are 10 interesting facts about Evangelicals from the report:
1. The number of Evangelicals likely increased. more >>
"When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for one people…" with these words our Declaration of Independence begins.
The signers continued by affirming "Nature's God," "self-evident truths" and our "Creator." Then our brave forefathers, putting their very lives on the line, ended their statement of convictions by declaring, "with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor."
At another historic moment, a courageous leader named Nehemiah led the people of God in a similar pledge that is recorded in the Bible (Neh.10:28-39). They promised to uphold marriage as God intended (v30) and "obey carefully all the commands, regulations and decrees of the Lord our God" (v29). more >>
The Rev. Franklin Graham said in a recent interview that when it comes to the American political system, he has no faith in the Democratic Party, Republican Party or the Tea Party. Instead, he called on Christians to go out and vote and run for office in the upcoming 2016 elections.
"I have no faith in the Democratic Party, I have no faith in the Republican Party, I have no faith in the Tea Party, whoever they are," Graham told WIAT 42 News in an interview posted on Thurday.
He added that he's not endorsing anyone in the 2016 elections, but urges Christians to run for office. more >>