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Growing In Jesus on Thanksgiving Day

The Lord, through the Apostle Paul, teaches us that that thanksgiving is the mark of a mature Christian: “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7).

So then, how should our cultural Thanksgiving holiday develop maturity in us and the corresponding gratitude of heart? We know that making a mere statement of thanksgiving – whether as a Tweet, Facebook post, or at the Thanksgiving Day table – does not equate to maturity. Rather, biblical thanksgiving flows as we grow and develop by recognizing the many sorrows and joys, gains and losses, defeats and victories of life and still praise the Lord through them.

It’s a great thing to simply rejoice in the obvious expressions of God’s love for us. But it’s been a really hard year for many people. So, on this Thanksgiving Day, perhaps it is also good to begin by thinking about the various low points in our lives over the last year or even at present, to meditate deeply on ways in which the Lord has shown himself faithful, and then to see his […]

What is a Nation? Why does it Matter?

Those interested in the Syrian refugee immigration situation, the role of civil government, and the Protestant concept of nations will be fascinated by this presentation by Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi of India. When Christian thinkers in the East labor to articulate what their nations should be and become, they force Westerners to look more objectively at their own views of God and the world than they otherwise would.

Dr. Mangalwadi was introduced to me by an Indian brother in ministry who loves to find original thinkers in his native culture. Mangalwadi is one such original thinker. Christianity Today has dubbed him “India’s foremost Christian Intellectual.” He has profoundly influenced Indian Christian thought over the last four decades as a Christian philosopher as a teacher and author of more than a dozen books. This disciple of Francis Schaeffer boldly asserts many unpopular truths in the public square. Some have said it is remarkable that he is still alive given his boldness to speak against Hinduism in South Asia.

In this video, Mangalwadi spoke last year to an audience assembled by the Asia Biblical Theological Seminary and Delhi Bible Fellowship in New Delhi, India.  In the first half of the lecture, he postulates that the […]

But You Belong to Me

My grandmother grew up on a farm during the Great Depression. From a young age she was taught to work. By seven years old, her father tasked her with running water to him and the farm hands. He required cold water, so she had to pump at the well until the water came out cold as she filled the earthen crocks – which had first to be emptied of any warm, stale water – and then deliver them to the workers.

Amid all the work, she and her three siblings longed for a bicycle. Her father promised them that when the price of hogs reached twenty-five cents a pound, they could have a bicycle. When market prices rose, they had their bicycle from the Sears Roebuck & Co. catalogue. By propping the bike against the fence to start, she taught herself to ride alongside the fence by the lane. Within no time, and at the cost of a few skinned shins, she was off to the races.

But, there was still water to be pumped, and the bicycle riding would have to wait until the chores were complete. Her father even tried to make the work fun – every task was a competition […]

Activism, Apathy, or Affliction?

Activism or apathy. Those are the two predominant political responses of Indiana Christians to the coming campaign for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) anti-discrimination laws. If the typical pattern of the culture war holds true, we can predict an oversimplified version of the next legislative session: a bill will be put forward, a political gun will be pointed to the head of legislators, and the SOGI lobby will ask the question, “Are you a bigot, or not?” What are the options for Christians in Indiana or in other places facing similar circumstances?

Christian activists want to rally the crowd to the statehouse, pound the pitchforks, and take back our state for the Lord. Admittedly, that statement oversimplifies the strategy, but it captures the essence of it. Strategically, it will not work. Proponents of the law are amassing millions of dollars for the campaign. They will gather far more protesters than Christians will. They are rallying business leaders to support the cause, and threaten dire economic consequences for the state if the law does not pass.

Christian apathetics, on the other hand, shrug and presume that the law is probably inevitable in light of the cultural-change locomotive that is moving full speed. They […]

What Do You Need to Know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam?

What do you need to know about Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam? Maybe more than you think. The swelling numbers of visiting students and immigrants from India, China, and the Middle East are compelling Westerners to learn more about these ancient religions. Understanding these worldviews enables Christians to more meaningfully engage and minister to people migrating amongst us in North America. If you have not interacted substantially with adherents to these religions, you probably soon will. If you are a Christian, Jesus calls you to be ready.

To get a reasonably brief overview of these three religions, listen to Dr. Timothy Tennent’s lectures – Essentials of Hinduism, Essentials of Buddhism, and Essentials of Islam – at Dr. Tennent is president of Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky and has served as a Methodist missionary in India for many decades.

Each series is comprised of four to seven lectures. They are summaries of full-length seminary classes. Eastern religions present learning challenges to Westerners who must become acclimated to a whole new vocabulary, history, and culture. While there is a sense in which it would be best to study under tutors from the East, I find it helpful to have an instructor who understands the […]

Climate Change: Which Kind Are We Fighting For?

“Environmentalists say ‘Don’t use it.’ Conservationists say ‘Use it wisely.’” This maxim from my youth stuck; it was a favorite of the leader of my county’s soil and water conservation district. This week, when the pope visits Washington, D.C., you will no doubt hear many pleas to battle man-made global warming by limiting the use of fossil fuels. Christians who know their Bibles should be leery when leaders like President Obama and the pope endorse forced restrictions on the use of the earth’s resources – especially when more people will go hungry and perish as a result. God has not called us to embrace a “Don’t use it” or even a simply “Use it less” mindset.

God called Adam and Eve to the wise use of creation for the good of mankind and the glory of God when he said,

‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’ And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with […]

The Scriptural Reverse-Trajectory of the Sexual Revolution

A fascinating trajectory of the sexual revolution has become obvious this summer in these United States. The trajectory moves backward through Scripture. The pages of God’s design for humanity have been peeled back, as it were, to the first chapter of Genesis.

In a host of ways and over many years, we as a culture have defied God’s design for sexual desire and activity as outlined in his law and summarized in the seventh commandment.
Next, we reached back to Genesis chapter two and redefined marriage through the Obergefell vs. Hodges decision by the Supreme Court of the United States.
Now, we are reaching back to Genesis 1:26-28 to redefine the nature of humanity by erasing God-ordained distinctions between male and female through the “gender identity” movement. Bruce Jenner brought the movement to the front page. The University of Tennessee’s now-withdrawn suggested use of newly-created gender-neutral pronouns is one example of the effort to institutionalize the erasure such distinctions. The accelerating push for new SOGI (Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity) laws captures the move to codify and enforce the rejection of the God-ordained male and female distinction.

Having reached the hand of defiance against the Creator back through the pages of Scripture to redefine right […]

Will I Be Forgiven For Abortion?

If you are asking “Will I be forgiven for abortion I had?” then you already feel the guilt of your sin. Perhaps you feel your guilt afresh as a result of the videos exposing the work of Planned Parenthood. What do you do with your guilt?

One young man I met on the street a few years ago knew this guilt. He had grown up in an evangelical Christian home. About twenty years old, he had rejected the God of the Bible and argued vehemently with me against the Lord’s very existence. Our discussion somehow moved to the moral argument for God. Why is murder wrong? What about abortion? At that point, most unexpectedly, the hardened young man burst into tears. He buried his head in his hands and blurted out, “I don’t need any God to know abortion is wrong!” He rapidly recounted impregnating his girlfriend, taking her to the abortion clinic, paying for the abortion, and the guilt he had carried ever since – all while repeating. “I knew it was wrong!”

After a few moments, he gathered himself and looked up. He was as surprised at what he had confessed as I was; we both knew he had said […]

Ashes to Ashes

Does a little sin in my life matter? What harm can it really do, especially if it is invisible to others? God sometimes places powerful illustrations before us that we cannot miss to help teach us about the enormous impact of little forces.

Presently, dead ash trees loom over tree lines of the Midwestern United States. The hulking brown carcasses speak of death against the backdrop of the lush green life of the other well-watered trees and vegetation. Every time I look out the window from my desk, I see the tree pictured above reminding me of destruction. The impact can be measured in millions and probably billions of dollars, and it can be measured in the sorrow of individual owners. One neighbor had twenty-six ash trees on her lot – and no other trees. All were lost. Understandably, she broke down in tears as each trunk faced the bite of the roaring chainsaw.

Why are they all dead? The cause of death is now well known; it is the emerald ash borer. The larvae of this invasive green beetle from Asia bore through the outer bark of even the stateliest ash trees and then invisibly feed on the phloem and cambium […]

Where Does the Journey End?

In April, when Indiana Governor Mike Pence and legislators called for a “fix” to the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to exempt discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, Scott McCorkle, a LGBT activist said, “Today is a positive first step, but it is a first step in a larger discussion [to] acknowledge the importance of equal rights for all, and I am excited about what will come in the next step of our journey.”

Indiana seems poised to consider the next step in providing protection from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Both democrats and republicans claim to be hard at work crafting legislation for the next legislative session which begins in January. The discussion of an anti-discrimination law is heating up at a federal level. But the Hoosier State may well be first in the spotlight this coming winter, and the media which profited greatly from the RFRA debate will eagerly cover the ensuing discussion. In other words, Hoosiers can expect the issue to dominate headlines again with everyone talking about it.

If this is the next step in the journey, then all Hoosiers ought to be asking where the journey leads and […]