May 31, 2024

For hundreds of years, the church worldwide has celebrated the Visitation—the meeting of Jesus’s mother, Mary, with her cousin Elizabeth, disciples putting their faith on display. The biblical text of Luke 1:39–56 tells the story: In those days Mary set out and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judah where she entered Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped inside her, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she... Read more

May 18, 2024

My guest today is Hannah Beasley, a recent grad of Dallas Seminary who shows us how good books don’t have to be new releases. Imagine a pastor who walks on stage, preaches a sermon, and ignores half his congregation. Alice Mathews* argues that a similar scenario occurs on most Sunday mornings. On average, women comprise over fifty percent of our congregations, yet so often pastors and teachers fail to consider how gender differences impact the reception of their messages. Alice... Read more

April 13, 2024

In grade school, we learned complicated facts using mnemonic devices—memory aids to help us remember grammar, math, and other academic information. Have you ever sung the ABCs? Does “Roy G Biv” float through your mind when a rainbow appears? Did you survive math by muttering “Please excuse my dear aunt Sally”? (PEMDAS, for the order of operations, if you’ve forgotten.) Memory helps just make sense. What mnemonic devices, or memory helps in general, assist you in remembering God’s faithfulness? Because,... Read more

April 9, 2024

Looking for a good book? The 2024 book award finalists in Christian nonfiction were announced on April 8 by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association (ECPA). The ECPA is a non-profit organization whose mission is to “equip members so they can more effectively make the Christian message more widely known” (from their website). Elevating the best offerings from Christian publishing, both fiction and non-fiction, is one of their primary methods of encouraging effective gospel communication. This year’s entire list of 65... Read more

March 31, 2024

Melito, bishop of Sardis in the second century, preached this Easter sermon, excerpted below, in AD 170. It was first discovered in a fourth-century papyrus codex and has been translated by Campbell Bonner. Photos here were taken during my academic course in Italy, January 2023. (Being) Lord, having put on human nature, and having suffered for him who was suffering, and having been bound for him who was bound, and having been condemned for him who was condemned, and having... Read more

March 19, 2024

We are less than two weeks from Easter, deep in the Lenten season but looking toward the cross on Good Friday. As part of my Lenten discipline, I’ve been reading Brian Zahnd’s newest book, The Wood Between the Worlds: a Poetic Theology of the Cross. Zahnd offers thoughtful, sometimes controversial but always reverent reflections on the complex meanings found in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The back cover copy summarizes the book well: “Just as gazing through the eyepiece of... Read more

February 11, 2024

I’ve been a practicing Protestant in the Baptist tradition all my adult life, but when the big liturgical seasons like Lent and Advent come around each year, my Catholic upbringing preens a little. I had a front-row seat to the liturgical traditions practiced by Orthodox, Catholic, Anglican, Episcopalian, and several other mainline denominations within the worldwide Christian church. Evangelicals are generally not included in that group, though in recent years some “low-church” denominations have begun introducing annual traditions to their... Read more

January 17, 2024

One year ago today, Sue Edwards and I celebrated the release of 40 Questions about Women in Ministry, a Kregel Academic addition to their 40 Questions series. In our book, we address the controversy surrounding the Bible’s teaching about women—their worth, their relationship to God, their gifts, and their place in church, home, and society. If you attend church regularly, you’ve likely run across some facet of the conversation. In the American South, where Sue and I live among evangelical... Read more

January 10, 2024

The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism by Tim Alberta My Goodreads rating: 5 of 5 stars Tim Alberta, best-selling author, journalist with The Atlantic, and pastor’s son, chronicles a painful—and still developing—season in the American evangelical movement with heartbreaking detail and incisive analysis. Half of the book follows key figures any evangelical on Twitter would recognize, showing how deep and broad the author’s access was to the power players, along with a... Read more

January 6, 2024

Epiphany has arrived—finally, the Magi can meet the child Jesus! Our composite Nativity scenes most often include both shepherds and wise men observing the holy family, but the biblical story teaches us that the visiting groups arrived at vastly different times. It’s become a family tradition in many homes to move the three kings and all their entourage closer to the creche each day after Christmas, until finally they reach the scene on January 6. Why January 6? Centuries of... Read more

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