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Words of Hope for Seasons of Distress + Free Registration for Sermon Seminar

Posted by Dr. Stan Reid on February 21, 2017 at 9:30 AM

 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, for the sake of the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus, To Timothy, my beloved child: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord (2 Timothy 1:1-2).

The sun broke bright and clear over Washington, D.C. on the morning of January 20, 1961. The ground was covered with eight inches of snow that had fallen the night before. It was bitterly cold, but the day was bathed in a bright aura. The sunlight reflected off the snow and the marble buildings of the nation’s capital. At noon John F. Kennedy took the oath of office and became the 35th president of the United States.

Many questioned Kennedy’s ability to lead the country at such a critical time. The Cold War was heating to a boiling point with the massive buildup of nuclear arsenals. The fact that Kennedy was the youngest president ever elected and the first Catholic to hold the office also contributed to the questions. Knowing that he had been elected by the slimmest of margins in the popular vote meant that his presidency was beginning with the country divided.

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Topics: About Austin Grad, Teaching Moment, Scripture Passage, Politics

Black Friday and Blue Laws: What’s Lost in Post-Constantinianism

Posted by Dr. Todd Hall on January 26, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon argue in Resident Aliens that the opening of the movie theater in their hometown on Sundays represented the end of Christendom, and the beginning of an opportunity for “real” Christianity to emerge from the shadow of Constantinianism. This insight is important, and there can be no doubt that the end of “blue laws” at least embodies the shift in epoch experienced as these United States transitioned from a society structured around the edifice of the religion called “Christianity” to a secular, market-driven social structure. Is this a good thing, though?

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Topics: On-Topic Today, Church History, Politics

Being Children of Light

Posted by Dr. Daniel Napier on January 24, 2017 at 9:30 AM

There’s an old trade secret among preachers. The word is that there are three topics any of which will ensure an audience. If you want to draw a crowd, you can preach on sex, on the end times, and on will there be sex in the end times?

The religious mania over imagining and predicting the future is well known today. We even have TV series that turn on popular conceptions. Evidently, some in Paul’s churches would have understood the attraction – they might have even tuned in. But this impulse isn’t unique either to religious groups or to one particular age. It’s a human thing.

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Topics: On-Topic Today, Politics, New Testament

Christmas, a Sign of Hope (and a free book from us!)

Posted by Dr. Stan Reid on December 13, 2016 at 9:30 AM

Road trips during the Christmas season have become notorious for crowded highways and frustrated travelers. One website warned, “Wherever you’re heading, if you’re traveling during the holiday season, you need to realize that everyone else in the world is, too.”

In terms of holiday travel, Mary and Joseph covered a few miles during what is commonly thought of as the first Christmas. Luke, in his gospel, reports that the couple traveled from their home in Nazareth to the ancestral home in Bethlehem, then on to Jerusalem for several days, and finally back home to Nazareth. To make it more exciting, the return trip was with the newborn Jesus strapped in. And Luke does not even mention the family’s side trip down to Egypt included in Matthew’s narrative.

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Topics: On-Topic Today, Scripture Passage, Politics

Is “Retribution” an Ugly Word?

Posted by Dr. Mark Shipp on December 6, 2016 at 9:30 AM


There are few examples of theological teachings in the Old Testament more difficult for us as Christians to understand and to preach to our churches than retribution. This is not a minor issue in Old Testament studies: Deuteronomy-2 Kings is largely a document depicting the adage “you reap what you sow,” and its theological introduction, the book of Deuteronomy, goes to great lengths to specify what will happen if people forsake the Lord and his commandments, and what will happen if they obey. In addition, several other Old Testament books demonstrate a heavily retributive theology: Proverbs and Haggai come to mind immediately, as does the book of Chronicles.

It is often observed that the book of Chronicles is replete with “retribution” passages. Retribution is simply recompense for behavior: good recompense for good behavior and bad for evil behavior. Retribution theology teaches “you reap what you sow.” The Chronicler believes in immediate retribution, however; that is, that there is usually an immediate connection between bad behavior and recompense.

The retribution passages in Chronicles are not so friendly to our contemporary way of thinking. Most moderns do not like to think in terms of consequences for behavior. There are any number of teens and young adults that have not learned this lesson.

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Topics: Teaching Moment, Scripture Passage, Old Testament, Politics

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