What stories illumine our imaginations and shape our lives during Christmastide, the New Year, and beyond? Is it the story of the Sun God? Is it the biblical story of creation and the Son of God? Is it the story of Evolution? Is it the story of the Market? Something else, something more? Why the Sun God, you might ask? It was at this time of year that many ancient peoples celebrated the god Saturn as well as the Sun…. Read more

The Advent Season is all about preparing for Jesus’ coming. A great deal of anticipation and hope mark the season. Is the build-up worth it? Do all the great expectations find fulfillment on Christmas Day? The answer depends on the expectations wrapped up in the question. Ironically perhaps to many, the New Testament does not wrap up all expectations for the Messiah in Jesus’ birth. In fact, only two of the four canonical gospels about Jesus’ life feature birth narratives… Read more

There was not much peace at the time of Jesus’ birth. After all, the “Pax Romana” or Peace of Rome blanketed the known world in war and bloodshed. How else could Rome impose its rule on various lands whose people longed for independence and freedom?  Here’s a telling account of the Roman “Peace” in the form of a summary of Adrian Goldsworthy’s recent book by Yale University Press titled Pax Romana. The Pax Romana was: the famous peace and prosperity brought… Read more

  We hear a lot these days about tax relief. Talk of taxes is often a real downer, especially at Christmas time. And yet, the very first Christmas was embroiled in the subject of taxation. Caesar Augustus set out to take a census of the world over which he reigned, no doubt in large part to get a more accurate assessment for the purposes of imposing taxes. The Roman Empire and its census for taxation loomed large at Jesus’ birth… Read more

An Interview with Nancy Haught, Author of Sacred Strangers: What the Bible’s Outsiders Can Teach Christians. One of my favorite writers is Nancy Haught, an award-winning journalist who penned enriching articles on spirituality and religion for The Oregonian until her retirement. Her writing is always fair, decent, and humane. These are rare qualities and virtues in our society today. Never one for partisan polemics that dismisses those of different perspectives, Ms. Haught writes about her subjects respectfully and charitably. There… Read more

If I had been one of these shepherds, I might have been paralyzed by awe. But somehow or other, the shepherds had enough composure and wits about them to act upon the angel’s announcement. Read more

It is not always easy for Jesus’ followers to discern during trying spiritual times if they are being persecuted for the Christian faith or simply being subjected to a loss of Christian privilege? How do we trust and hope in God’s providential care rather than fall prey to paranoia? The famed martyred missionary to the Auca Indians, Jim Elliot–a native of Portland, Oregon, where I teach–was certainly killed because of his faith. It was Elliot’s and his companions’ faith that… Read more

An Interview with Award-Winning Author Tom Krattenmaker. How often do you find people asking others from across the ideological spectrum for help on how to be open-minded? How often do you find people on the other side responding graciously to the invitation and providing help? I have asked my friend and award-winning author Tom Krattenmaker, a self-professed “secular Jesus follower,” for help on the subject of cultivating open-mindedness without renouncing strong convictions. Mr. Krattenmaker is well-suited to address this subject…. Read more

No doubt, people who casually engaged the Scriptures would have expected the Messiah to come from Jerusalem. After all, Jerusalem was the capitol city. Read more

Should we abandon ship, or abandon the idols of power, wealth, comfort and privilege that serve as stumbling blocks to right relationship with God and others? Read more

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