Keep Christ in Christmas is the slogan of choice for many Christians during this time of year. We see the phrase used all over the place – from Facebook posts, Twitter feeds and Instagram pictures, to Pinterest links and blog posts. However, while Keep Christ in Christmas is a good way for Jesus-followers to remember the season, the slogan should never be used as a means to force others to do so.
Is worry always a sin? Perhaps that seems like an obvious question. “Do not be anxious about anything” (Phil 4:6). Next question? But wait. Is that all the Bible teaches on worry: just stop it? That’s a simple answer, but it doesn’t map well onto the complexities of life.
"There is no true, basic difference between laymen and priests, princes and bishops, between religious and secular, except for the sake of office and work, but not for the sake of status. They are all of the spiritual estate, all are truly priests, bishops, and popes, but they do not all have the same work to do." (Martin Luther)
This fall best-selling author Philip Yancey released Vanishing Grace, in which he argues that the American church has often failed at communicating grace and shows how we can get back on track. Relevant Magazine talked to Yancey about his new book Christians in politics and what it looks like to live in grace in a “post-Christian” society.
Over the past couple months, I sought to evaluate disciple-making in my own life and church community. In particular, I wanted to focus on the biblically prescribed means of grace as the foundational disciplines for laying a framework of discipleship that cuts across every sphere of our lives. During that time, I sought to incorporate these basic principles in the formative process:
As a pastor (but not your pastor), my answer to the question is this: “I’m going to tell you the truth. And because I’m not your pastor, you can know for sure that it’s the truth. No. It is not okay, not now, not ever, for you to be a church hopper.”
I’m Spiritual *and* Religious. I realize that saying this may be swimming against a current, but for me, they each inform and complement the other. Here’s an analogy. I enjoy playing my trumpet by myself and practice it as I have time. This is like my spirituality. It’s a personal way for me to express myself and to commune with God. And yet I also enjoy playing my trumpet with others in bands and orchestras. This is like religion (which comes from the Latin “religare” – “to bind together.”)
What is the dumbest thing you have ever said? You probably don’t want to repeat it. Since, I think it is edifying, I’ll reset my moment. I was a new Christian and was talking to my wife one Sunday afternoon when I dropped this gem on her: “Christianity is so easy. I don’t see what the big deal is.” But, I wasn’t finished– “I read my Bible, pray and talk to people about Jesus. Then, we go to church on Sunday and hear someone preach. What is so hard about it?” God would show me what was so hard about it within 18 months.
Mary, a lowly Jewish girl from an undistinguished town, modeled the proper way to respond to God’s Word—with faith. Although she knew it was extraordinary, she trusted God to make possible the impossible conception of a child in her womb. She was graced by God to be favored for all time.