Active listening

Active listening. Do you see the apparent contradiction in terms? Yet it is true: Good listeners are active listeners.

I imagine it is because of the low premium most of us place on the art of good listening.

  • Pray that the Lord will help you to be a good hearer of the word: Far be it from us to actually encourage the preacher by showing him that we care about what is taking place!.

Continue reading “Active listening”

Get off the grass

I don’t want to be the old guy who yells at the kids to “get off the grass.” I don’t want to grow into old age speaking in negative terms of the church, succeeding generations, and how everything was just peachy in my day.

To begin with, things weren’t just fine when I was younger. As is true of any generation, the people of God had their struggles against false teaching, arrogance, and apathy. Furthermore, there are many great young people being trained to serve the cause of Christ today. Many are already doing so with distinction. Urging young people to go back to the Bible and follow it completely is not the theological equivalent of yelling at them to “get off the grass,” however. It is sound, urgent advice. It is the theological equivalent of begging people to refrain from polluting the water supply. Continue reading “Get off the grass”

The sect everywhere spoken against

An awful lot of articles about spiritual matters on social media amount to setting up straw men. They find the person with the most extreme ideas and pretend that this represents Christians everywhere. They set up a straw man, whack him hard, and, watch him fall down. You can generally detect them in the “click bait” titles they use: “Why the Church Is Wrong About Forgiveness,” “Christians Are Wrong about the Nature of the Trinity, And Here’s Why.”

Cheap shots are being taken at something I love deeply: The church of the Lord Jesus Christ. It makes me think of the Jewish leaders in Rome: “But we desire to hear from you what your views are, for with regard to this sect we know that everywhere it is spoken against” (Acts 28:22).

Here are some of the somewhat less than accurate declarations made about the church: Continue reading “The sect everywhere spoken against”

Homesick for Heaven

What do these beautiful songs have in common?

“An Empty Mansion” (1937), “Beyond the Sunset” (1936), “Heaven Holds All to Me” (1932), “Never Grow Old” (1930), “I’ll Live in Glory” (1936), “In Heaven They’re Singing” (1937), “No Tears in Heaven” (1935). “Paradise Valley” (1935), “This World Is Not My Home” (1937), “Won’t It Be Wonderful There?” (1930).

First, it is easy to see, they are songs about heaven. They express the deepest longing, anticipation, and hope of the Christian heart. Second – did you see it? – these songs were all written at about the same time period, about 1929-1939. Are you following this still? Continue reading “Homesick for Heaven”

Her name is Norma

Her name is Norma McCorvey. Just a few years ago she was baptized into Christ. It became a national story, with interviews by ABC News and other media outlets.

Normally the faith response of a single mother in Dallas, Texas does not warrant national attention. She came to Christ bruised and beaten by life’s cruelties. Today the Lord Jesus is binding the bruises, and pouring salve on to the wounds, for that is what he does. Continue reading “Her name is Norma”

He can’t deliver

What did Satan promise Eve?

He promised her that if she ate the fruit she would become like a goddess. “God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). Talk about promising a woman the moon and the stars!

But what did he actually give her? Genesis notes that when they ate the fruit they “knew that they were naked” (Genesis 3:7). Well, they had information for sure, but short of the knowledge God possesses. Continue reading “He can’t deliver”

The gift of suffering

A young woman sat in my office, hurt and scared. Her husband had abandoned her. She had two small children, no job, and an education that had been interrupted for that marriage and those kids. What would she do?

I said the things preachers say, read a Scripture and prayed, but felt I had been inadequate.

Afterward, however, I began to think. I knew another woman in the congregation, an older woman, who had suffered something similar. I phoned the other woman and asked: “Can you do me a favor?” Continue reading “The gift of suffering”

Do I have to forgive the unrepentant?

At some level we understand that the Christian is obliged to forgive. “If you do not forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly father will not forgive your trespasses,” Jesus warns us (Matthew 6:15). So not to forgive means not to be forgiven.

But what about the unrepentant? Do I have to forgive my enemy when he does not admit his guilt, when he does not seek my forgiveness? Continue reading “Do I have to forgive the unrepentant?”