The Christian Studies Blog


A Modern Parable: The Heron and the Osprey

Posted by Dr. Mark Shipp on March 28, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Once there was a young osprey. This osprey, also known as a fish eagle, was a handsome gray, white, and brown bird with speckled feathers. He went fishing one day at a pond where he knew there were succulent fish. As luck would have it, he spotted a large fish from the sky and diving down with feet outstretched, grabbed the fish in his talons. 

The fish was a catfish, 1 1/2 lbs., and it was too big for the young osprey. He struggled, dragging it through the water as he flew, and alighting, managed to drag it into the shallows and partially up onto the bank of the pond. Then the osprey began to dine on the fish.


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Topics: Teaching Moment

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

Gentleness: How Jesus Overwhelms Evil with Good

Posted by Dr. Daniel Napier on January 31, 2017 at 9:30 AM

Will you reflect with me upon the need for gentleness in our moral judgments?

In our world, the words ‘gentleness’ and ‘moral judgment’ don’t often converge. Morality primarily functions as a stick to beat outsiders – a way to condemn and thus imply our own superiority. We can get real clear and precise about what’s wrong with other people. That’s an everyday skill. Gentleness, on the other hand, shows up mostly in those intimate encounters reserved for family and close friends. Here we tend to avoid clarity, especially if wrongdoing has occurred. Moral clarity is too painful, so we avoid straight-talk in order to be ‘kind’ or ‘considerate.’ Jesus, however, brings gentleness into the heart of morality.

As such, Jesus proves to the be the master of moral transformation. I’ve found no one else who so naturally combines moral clarity and gentleness. This moral fusion of gentleness and clarity is what I want to explore with you.

We’ll allow John’s Gospel to conduct us to our theme of moral gentleness. He does this by observing the way Jesus counters a mob execution or lynching. The story is complex, so prepare to use your mind. We’ll follow several themes as they intertwine in this story.

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Topics: Teaching Moment, Scripture Passage

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

Jesus' Way Beyond Pride: Growing in Humility

Posted by Dr. Daniel Napier on November 22, 2016 at 9:30 AM

My last post examined Jesus’ teaching concerning the nature of pride from Luke 18:9-14. We’ve all heard sermons against pride and know it is something we should avoid. However, too seldom do we receive accompanying teaching for growth in humility. We know we ought to be humble. However, we might not know how to grow in humility or adequately understand what has prevented us from doing so. In this post I’ll focus on the positive or growing side of the equation.

Let’s begin with some troubleshooting at the level of thought. Two prevalent assumptions – unspoken ideas in our culture – often block us from growing in humility. Perhaps it would help to state them clearly so we can examine them. The common notion is that to be truly humble one would have to be weak and stupid. Let’s consider each of these ideas:

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Topics: How To, Teaching Moment, Scripture Passage

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