• Culture,  Life

    An Election Reflection

    CNN’s John King and Wolf Blitzer are doing the electoral college map as votes roll in while I write this. I’m not paying attention really. It’s just noise in the background. My wife is dozing off on the reclining sofa beside me. I realize my whiskey is empty and I need a refill. It’s already past my normal bedtime. I get up at 4 a.m. after all. It’s 9:28 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3, 2020. Election night in America. Probably the most important election of my lifetime. And maybe yours. Four years ago on Election night, our living room was crammed with students from the honors program where my wife…

  • Bible,  Culture,  Life,  Theology

    Why We Need Each Other Now More Than Ever: Christian Ethics in the Age of Coronavirus

    The world’s changed dramatically, perhaps indefinitely. Similarly to how things were different after 9/11 or after the Great Recession of 2008, I suspect that life after the Coronavirus will always be a little different. I don’t mean that in an end-of-the-world apocalyptic sort of way. I don’t think the world’s ending. And I think — I hope and pray anyway — that most of us will come through this global pandemic. Tragically, there’s already been and will continue to be loss of life. I grieve for those families. But the scientists and health experts working on this seem to be assuring us that while some people are at significantly greater…

  • Faith,  Life,  Spirituality,  Theology

    Jesus Pooped (And Other Implications of the Incarnation)

    I admit the title’s clickbaity. That was intentional. Is it irreverent? Maybe. Although I don’t think there’s anything irreverent about natural bodily functions. And if you’re offended, I’m sorry. But try to hear me out. Because the fact of the matter is, if the Incarnation is true — if Jesus really was fully and truly a human being — then he did poop. And pee. And burp and fart. And hunger. And thirst. And laugh and love. And cry. And everything else we humans do and experience. I think we struggle to entirely appreciate this, let alone accept it. I know I do, anyway. My guess is that many of…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Spirituality

    Some Niche Study Bibles Worth Considering

    For the past few weeks, I’ve been writing about study Bibles and offering some recommendations. A good study Bible is a helpful, even essential, resource for anyone desiring to dive deeper into Scripture and grow in their knowledge and understanding. However, since the Bible publishing industry has about a bazillion choices it can be overwhelming trying to decide which study Bible is the best for you and why some study Bibles may be more helpful and informative than others. That’s where this series of articles comes in. As a dedicated student and teacher of Scripture over many years, I currently have 19 different study Bibles and have had others. That…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Spirituality

    Some Great Study Bibles to Consider

    In a previous post, I explained how a good study Bible can be a valuable tool for anyone that wants to dive deeper into Scripture. I also suggested three key questions for helping make an informed decision on which study Bible to choose. Specifically, I suggested you first consider your purpose and intention for your study Bible. Are you looking for something that’s devotional and geared more towards practical application? Or are you looking for something that’s more academic and informed by rigorous scholarship? Perhaps you’re looking for more of a niche study Bible whose notes and study aids specialize in a certain topic like archeology, spiritual formation, or addiction…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Spirituality

    How To Choose A Study Bible

    A quick perusal of my library before I started writing this piece revealed that I have 19 different study Bibles. Yes, you read that correctly. I have 19 different actual physical study Bibles on my bookshelves. I suppose that’s a lot. Probably more than I need. It’s definitely more than I regularly and consistently use nowadays. I’ve had more study Bibles over the years and have given several away or donated them to Better World Books or Goodwill. Why so many you ask? Ten years of being a full-time pastor that wrote and delivered a weekly sermon and taught the Bible regularly in various other contexts, as well as being…

  • Culture,  Faith,  Life,  Spirituality

    The True King Revealed: Why Epiphany Is So Politically Subversive

    In case you haven’t noticed, we’re living in an age of recurring political turmoil. Trump’s presidency — whether you love it or despise it — and the impeachment debacle are just the tips of the iceberg. There’s Brexit and the anti-Brexiters. There’s a concerning trend of growing nationalism and xenophobia not only here in the USA, but also across European nations like Germany and France. In the United States, anti-semitism is very openly resurging, along with other white supremacist demonstrations. Even if we’re charitable and assume that Trump himself is not anti-semitic or a racist, the fact that many people who are openly racist typically seem to believe that Trump…

  • Faith,  Life,  Spirituality,  Theology

    Why Christmas Is Just Getting Started

    There’s a radio station in our area that starts playing Christmas songs 24-7 on Thanksgiving Day or the day after. The station’s been doing this for several years, providing a soundtrack for the busy holiday season. While I haven’t typically tuned in, this year I did. I remember I was driving southbound on Michigan Street in our city, heading to work. I was at a stoplight, flipping through the radio stations, impatient that most were on commercial. And then I landed on the 24-7 Christmas songs station. They were in the midst of White Christmas, which happens to be not only one of my favorite Christmas songs but also one…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Theology

    The Scandal of the Savior’s Birth

    We’ve all probably seen a children’s nativity play. But even if you haven’t, you can perhaps imagine the gist. They’re usually a creative conflation of the two different stories we have about Jesus’s birth from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew. There’s the setting in a manger at night, of course, with shepherds and angelic choirs, from Luke’s version. There are the Magi — the three wise men from the East — from Matthew’s version, though Matthew reports that the wise men showed up sometime after Jesus was born, not the night of his birth. And there is, of course, Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus, the central characters of…

  • Bible,  Faith,  Life,  Theology

    When God’s Vengeance and Recompense Are Good News

    I heard a lot about God’s wrath and judgment as a kid growing up in the church. God hated sin and I was a sinner deserving God’s wrath and judgment. That’s why Jesus came — to take the punishment I deserved. The implicit theology I learned was that Jesus, who was loving and merciful, saved me from God, who was mean and angry. This was something to be thankful for. Because of Jesus, I’d get to go to heaven instead of hell when I died. But there was also the end of the world to be concerned about. In the church and all the TV preacher programs that provided a…