Jewish Evangelism In Light Of “The Gifts & Calling” Document

I am not Catholic, but am grateful for my Catholic siblings in faith. I've been strengthened by many Catholic writers over the years, particularly those from the contemplative tradition. I've been encouraged by Catholic pro-life activism and challenged by the Church's commitment to social justice and care for the least of these. I love studying the Bible with Catholic friends.So much kingdom goodness in these things. These affirmations of goodness also carry deep sorrow with them, an … [Read more...]

Reader’s Theater: Where Love Is, God Is

One of my favorite Leo Tolstoy short stories is "Where Love Is, God Is". It is profound in its simplicity at any time of year, but certainly suits this season. A few years ago, I turned the story into a reader's theater for seven voices. It takes about 12-14 minutes to perform. A couple of churches of which we've been a part have used it during Advent or Lent.Avdeich rested his head upon both his arms, and did not notice how he fell asleep. “Martin!” suddenly seemed to sound in his ear … [Read more...]

Unintended Consequences Of The Jesus Movement: The Christmas Edition

There is probably some significance that the last animated Christmas TV special for popular audiences to mention the (to borrow a phrase) reason for the season premiered in 1965. You know the one to which I'm referring:America was a-changing, only in 1965, most Americans didn't know it yet. The Christian-y sensibilities that once informed the way all Americans related to both culture and one another, were veneer, not solid wood. The second half of the 1960's would begin to peel away that … [Read more...]

The Blessing Of Missing Christmas

When I was a kid, I knew Christmas as the otherDecember celebration. I spent most of my secular Jewish childhood in a heavily Jewish Chicago suburb. Of course, there were still the Christmas commercials, Christmas specials, and Christmas songs at school, but our family celebrated Hanukkah. Our eight-night “Jewish Christmas” had its own miraculousbackstory. My Gentile classmates had only one day of presents to anticipate during December. I felt pretty lucky to have eight nights of gifts (even if, … [Read more...]

At The Intersection Of Time & Eternity: Chanukah

Chanukah (or is it Hanukkah, Hannukah, Chanuka, Chanukkah, Hanuka, Channukah, or maybe Chanukka? Click here to get the story behind all those spellings!) begins this year at sundown on Sunday, December 6th. It is not the Jewish Christmas. However, it is important to remember that the events surrounding Jesus' birth couldn't have happened had the events commemorated by Chanukah occurred a century and a half before Joseph and Mary made the trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem. The Jewish festal cycle a … [Read more...]

Review: Strange Fire, Holy Fire

I wish I could give a copy of Michael J. Klassen's Strange Fire, Holy Fire: Exploring the Highs and Lows of Your Charismatic Experience (Bethany House Publishers, 2009) to every person I've ever met in the various Pentecostal, Charismatic, and Third Wave/Vineyard congregations of which we've been a part. Whether they're still a part of one of these congregations, have jumped to a different stream within the Church, or have chosen to hang out the "Done" sign on any formal church involvement, … [Read more...]

Giving Thanks From The Valley Of The Shadow

If you have suffered a loss or have a fractured family, holidays like Thanksgiving can be more endurance test than blessing. Memories of happier times in the past and the nagging sense that most everyone you know and all those people you don't know but with whom you're connected on social media are experiencing #blissed #blessed #family #togetherness on the holiday. A few years ago in this piece for the Christianity Today Her.meneutics blog, I talked about the effect social media was having on t … [Read more...]