God's Adoption Plan is Jesus

I was not yet a mom when I spent a week at a state run orphanage in Moldova.

Christians Need Apologetics

“Just some ordinary conversation over dinner.”  At least, that’s how my host described this event.  In January, I was invited to have dinner with a couple of dads and their sons to facilitate a discussion on the problem of evil.  It was a spur-of-the-moment request and details were a bit fuzzy, so I met my host Jon 30 minutes prior to talk specifics.  He informed me that not only would Christian dads and sons participate, but his 60-year old parents, both skeptics of Christianity, would join us as well.  That night’s conversation turned out to be exceptional.  Why?  Because of apologetics.  

For too long, apologetics has been given a bad rap.  Too many Christian voices point to a few poor apologetic examples, extrapolate them to every apologist and apologetic encounter, and then dismiss the entire enterprise.  But in doing so, Christians abandon one of our greatest tools to engage the world for Christ.  My recent conversation demonstrates why.

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5 Questions for Tullian Tchividjian

William Graham Tullian Tchividjian is the Senior Pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. A Florida native, he is a visiting professor of theology at Reformed Theological Seminary and a grandson of Billy Graham. Tullian was the founding pastor of the former New City Church, which merged with Coral Ridge in April of 2009. Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Crossway 2011) is his first book since his devastating year of losing his father and being called for a congregational vote of confidence at Coral Ridge.

Sometimes you have to go through hard times to discover what, or who, you are anchored to. Sounds like this is what this book came out of.

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Book Review: The King Jesus Gospel

At times, I fear the evangelical world acts like the U.S. Congress where party lines are drawn up and there’s much preaching to already-convinced choirs. And rarely do people seem to be able to cross the proverbial aisle with any credibility or at least enough to be heard on their own merit. Are you in the restless/reformed camp or the emergent one? Are you traditional or postmodern or some of both? Are you for or against denominations? If we can take a break with the labels a moment, there are some people whose works are getting a hearing (or should) across denominational lines. Tim Keller’s A Reason for God, N.T. Wright’s Simply Christian, and Dallas Willard’s Divine Conspiracy come to mind in the past decade, as books that have been able to gain some appreciation inside and outside their ‘normal’ audiences.
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Cape Town 2010: A Short Documentary

I enjoyed getting a glimpse into what all took place at the 2010 Lausanne Congress gathering and I hope you do too. 

Much Ado About Nothing

It seems to me that atheists are becoming exceedingly shrill. Perhaps the swing towards a materialistic, deity-free culture has empowered them to come out of the shadows and boldly proclaim their belief in nothing and no one besides their own wisdom.

To be honest, atheists have never bothered me too much. I reserve my ammo for the “functional atheists”, those who give lip service to God but act in their everyday lives as if He is not the prime factor.

But apparently I, and those of my ilk, really bother them. We constantly annoy them by bringing up the “G” word and they fire back with odd fervor for a group who are so insistent on this entity being imaginary. They seem to lurk in the comment section of the Internet, mocking, insulting and foisting their half-baked intellectualism and Darwinian intellectual superiority upon those of us hayseeds who are so naïve as to even contemplate a Creator. They cause a ruckus in their attempt to sanitize any cultural, social, educational or political realm of the hint of this deity.

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A Sense of Perspective

Let's begin our look at the Calvinism vs. Armenian debate (through the lens of pragmatism and mission) with a link and a few things of note.

The link is the interview of Rick Warren by John Piper: click here.I do NOT start here as an example of Calvinism v. Armenianism. Please DO NOT misconstrue this context. I'm not starting here to state Piper is Calvinist and Warren is Armenian. That's simply not true. Both are Calvinist to differing degrees. I merely want to point out the following:

1. Rick Warren views his ministry and his church plant through the lens of mission. He saw (and sees) himself as a missionary first. This is critical. It is also why I admire Rick and his ministry. Whatever else you think of the methodology, the bottom line is that both Rick Warren individually and Saddleback as a church has an actual heart for lost people. They put their feet where their faith is. Rick is a pragmatist because of that. The question isn't "what is supposed to work", but "what is actually working"? The root cause of good mission stems because a follower doesn't just want to talk missionally, but wants to actually follow Jesus into the unknown. Jesus stepped into a timeframe when there was a lot of theological talk and tomes written on the Old Testament. What made Jesus radical was that He actually reached people.

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What Epiphany Shows Us About Evangelism

The Feast of the Epiphany celebrates the manifestation of Our Lord to all people. He came that we might know him – that all might know him, everywhere. Epiphany calls us to a renewed understanding that mission and evangelism are not incidental add-ons to the Gospel, but rather the unfolding of Jesus’ work from the very beginning.

Epiphany reminds us that we do not “own” Jesus. He is not church property, to protect from contact with a messy world.

But even more than that, Epiphany reminds us that Jesus is not just an idea to tell people about, but a Person to encounter.

We can’t make people know Christ by dumping information on them, or by rhetorically maneuvering them into a corner, or by “winning” an argument about who Christ is, or by promising lots of fun and self-help and personal fulfillment.

Knowledge, Wisdom AND Character

“An atheist from Berkeley is here.”  The youth pastor’s statement caught me off guard.  I was sitting in a church lobby, reviewing notes for a talk I was about to give.  My first thought was, “What atheist in their right mind would drive from Berkeley to attend a youth apologetics conference in the Inland Empire?”  

Seeing my puzzled look the youth pastor offered more.  “His name is Tim.  He’s right over there.”  I glanced in the direction he pointed and recognized Tim immediately.  I had met Tim, a recent graduate from U.C. Berkeley, two years ago on one of our mission trips.  He had participated in a couple of our joint events with Berkeley’s atheist student club, S.A.N.E. (Students for A Non-religious Ethos), over the last few years.  I hadn’t seen Tim for more than a year and now here he was, attending an apologetics conference where I was speaking.  

At the break, Tim made his way to my resource table.  “Tim!” I exclaimed.  Tim smiled and appeared genuinely happy to see me.  Indeed, as he approached I grabbed his hand for a firm shake but additionally, he leaned in for a hug.  I was glad to embrace him, realizing this hug was no small gesture.  Often, when we imagine interactions between atheists and Christians we envision warfare, not friendship.  But despite our opposing views about Christianity, Tim is made in God’s image.  Tim is an intrinsically valuable human being deserving dignity and respect, not an enemy to be vanquished.

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Community Thru A Gospel Lens

I've been thinking about the gospel a lot lately.  And, in fact, I've been doing a series on the gospel in our church.  We're talking about what's at it's core and what it requires of us.  We understand that Christ died for the forgiveness of sins (1 Peter 3:18), but we also understand that he died so that we would no longer live for ourselves (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).  In other words, the gospel is not just about what we are saved from.  It's just as much, if not more, about what we are saved to.

This is important to understand.

We are saved to a life that's lived beyond ourselves.  Jesus says that whoever wants to gain his life, will have to first lose it.  He says that in order to follow him we must first deny ourselves.  This is at the core of the gospel.  Yes, we are thankful for our personal benefits from Christ's death, but we also understand we are called to something greater: a life that's lived for Jesus.

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