December, 2014

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Monthly Archives: December 2014

Freedom from Self-Perfection

At this time of year, it seems totally normal to reflect on the year gone by and make plans for the one to come. Invariably, those plans include at least a few efforts at self-improvement. Whether it’s losing weight, shaving points off your golf average or mending a deeply-fractured relationship, the run-up to New Year’s

Can You Legislate Morality? MLK Jr. Responds.

The assertion that “You can’t legislate morality” is often used as a reason that Christians (or anyone else for that matter) shouldn’t seek to create laws that are based on moral values. But is that true? If you think about it for just a moment, you realize that it’s a ridiculous statement. We legislate morality all the time. For example why do we have laws agains stealing? Because taking another person’s property is immoral.

When people say, “You can’t legislate morality,” sometimes they mean that laws can’t change people’s hearts. I think that’s what President Eisenhower meant when he used the phrase in 1957 regarding race relations. With an uptick in violence including the bombing of houses of black leaders, Martin Luther King Jr. asked Eisenhower to come to the South to make a speech urging law and order. Eisenhower refused and in response King and his associates sent the White House a telegram that said in part…

A Modest Defense of Gift Giving

You’ll get no argument from me about the fact that Christmas has become increasingly commercialized here in the Unites States. There’s certainly a danger for all of us to spend more money than we should to populate the space around our Christmas trees. And in the face of this reality, Christians rightly warn against the focus shifting away from the miraculous incarnation of Jesus to discount deals and consumer spending statistics.

Even so, I personally hope that appropriate warnings don’t give rise to a full-throated “bah humbugs” or the notion that Christmas presents somehow cut against the grain of the holiday itself. And so I offer a brief and modest defense of gift-giving.

The Main Thing: ‘Prepare Him Room’

Stuart McAllister is a big, burly Scotsman with a thick accent who previously made his living beating people up. If you know anything about me at all, you will correctly surmise that I took to him immediately. I was first introduced to McAllister through the radio ministry of, where I heard him preach and teach. I

Point of Focus: Christmas and the Big Story

How does Christmas fit into the larger story of God’s redemptive work? This month’s Point of Focus takes a look:

Obedience, Finitude and Rest

Hebrews 4:11-12 (emphasis mine): Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience. For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the

Top Books I Read In 2014

I love to read other people’s book recommendations so I think that it’s only fair that I share some of the best books that I read this year. The reason that I am sharing this now versus at the end of the year is because if you’re like me, you are looking for ideas for Christmas gifts.

My criteria for “best books” are relatively simple: Was it well written? Did I learn something? Have I recommended it to others?

My Top Books For 2014…

What’s Going On When We Give Thanks

By now, most of us have shaken off the Thanksgiving food stupor (if the not the extra pound or two) that can come easily over the holiday—perhaps even to the point where we can briefly think a bit more deeply about what’s going on when we give thanks.

Most of us have been in some way conditioned to thank other people when they do something that benefits us. At the very least, it’s an acknowledgement that what they’ve done has blessed us in some way. We may even speak in terms of owing someone “a debt of gratitude.” That would seem to makes sense when we can easily trace a benefit to the actions of another human party.

But what about the larger picture? In a recent article, Emma Green frames it this way: “You can thank your grandma for making delicious pie, but who do you thank for the general circumstances of your life?”

A Biblical Pursuit of Relational Peace

For several months now – it only seems like longer – my wife and I have been doing our level-best to lean into the Apostle Paul’s abundantly-clear exhortation in Romans 12:18: “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Sounds simple enough. And on one level – that being the