Category: <span>Religion</span>

For the Christian, failure to keep a vow or promise or covenant or contract is not merely a moral or ethical issue but a Gospel issue. This notion is on the mind of the apostle Paul when he pivots upon Galatians 3:15 to demonstrate that believers can rest their full weight on the Gospel because it stands upon the promises God made to Abraham — promises that can never be set aside or amended.

To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. (Galatians 3:15 ESV)

We live in a culture that rests upon many Biblical values, so even non-Christians expect people to keep their agreements.… Read the rest

Church • Ecclesiology Gospel-Centered Religion

Daffodils Keep Coming Back

It’s a thing. It’s a perennial. It’s a recurring fascination. Like Daffodils springing up along our local highways in February, some Evangelical somewhere escapes the bonds of fundamentalism, gains new insights and clarity concerning what Jesus and the New Testament actually taught about this or that long-held, cherished doctrine or confession. Then, rather than move along down the road to enlightenment and into their newfound freedom from a dark, dank doctrinal prison, these initiates feel compelled to set the rest of us straight and usher Christ’s church into the hidden knowledge that will set the captives free from dogmatism (such a shame, too, because as Dorothy Sayers once observed The dogma is the drama).… Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Church • Ecclesiology Gospel-Centered Leadership Religion

This is the first discipline I wanted to examine as part of my series in the Spiritual Disciplines: devotion to the Apostles’ teaching. In the last installment, we looked at the purpose of the disciplines and now that we’ve laid a foundation we can look at each one individually beginning with the corporate disciplines — those things Christians do together.  These will be brief descriptions with links to more in-depth treatments or discussions. In choosing a place to focus on corporate disciplines, I landed on Acts 2:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

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Christianity • Religion Religion

I received an invitation to speak at a men’s retreat on the topic of the spiritual disciplines, though it has been a while since I read Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline and don’t consider myself an authority on the subject by any stretch. It was also decided that I would present Richard Baxter as a case study from my book, Good Mr. Baxter.  History remembers Baxter first as a devotional author on the spiritual disciplines, as well as one of the most fruitful and devoted pastors of all time.

The next few posts will feature some of my notes on the various disciplines, along with links to other helpful resources and what I hope to be some helpful insights and tips.… Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Gospel-Centered Leadership Planting Religion

haykinBack in June of this year, Nancy Guthrie messaged to tell me that she was reading a review copy of a forthcoming book and I was quoted in it! Well, that was exciting news. I wrote Good Mr. Baxter about 25 years ago and it has remained in obscurity for the most part. I was just happy to see that someone read it and found something of value. You can find my semi-immortal words on page 49 of Dr. Michael Haykin‘s Eight Women of Faith!

This is my mini-review of his biographical sketches of eight historically significant Evangelical women, in one volume.… Read the rest

Art • Design • Culture Books • Literature Christianity • Religion Church • Ecclesiology Religion Richard Baxter

WBNPermanI suppose it’s fitting I write a review of Matt Perman’s book What’s Best Next (WBN) toward the end of a day that I’ve spent piddling,  getting very little done, on the way to working myself up to settle down to watch a movie.

My cousin Nancy pointed me to What’s Best Next, while discussing our recent retirements. For Type A personalities or those of us who obsess over how much time we’re wasting, our first impulse is to prioritize and jump right into finding more time.  That’s universal and, if you don’t believe me, just scroll through the thousands of productivity products and strategies on the web.… Read the rest

Books • Literature Gospel-Centered Leadership Religion

While I appreciate the emphasis on humility, I think Karina Kreminski’s take is predictably defensive and thin. Here’s the post: The Church Is In Post-Christian Exile – But Should We Really Respond Like It’s a War?

The short answer to the question she poses in the title of her essay is, Yes. If we take Jesus and the apostles at their word, standing on the shoulders of the prophets and patriarchs, we are in a war. The Bible uses colorful language, simile, metaphor, and other figures of speech to describe or illustrate the Christian life. Jesus followers are both in exile and at war. Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Eschatology Religion Revelation

Let’s talk about Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More? Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior. Dr. Prior is a Professor of English at Liberty University in Lynchburg, VA. She is also the author of Booked: Literature in the Soul of Me (T. S. Poetry Press 2012) and a contributing writer for Christianity TodayThe AtlanticIn Touch, Her.meneutics and Think Christian.  Ms. Prior is a member of the Faith Advisory Council of the Humane Society of the United States, living out a fierce commitment to her family of dogs, horses, and chickens in rural Virginia, along with her husband, Roy.… Read the rest

Books • Literature Christianity • Religion Religion

I know it may sound cynical and even presumptuous to impute motives, but I have to come clean. Any time I see a move towards classical liberal theology, from a more conservative view, I have the same thoughts as Michael Bird does. But, he is able to articulate it in a clearer and more memorable fashion:

I think Langford fails to recognize that what drives much of liberal theology is not so much rationality, but culture, the attempt to make Christianity palatable to the reigning cultural zeitgeist. That is why I’ve often thought of liberal theology as theological form of “Stockholm syndrome,” where liberal theologians identify with the values of their cultural captors in order to survive under adversity or strive to impress their contemporaries.

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Christianity • Religion Religion

Here’s an “oldie but goodie” from March 4, 2008, at The University of California, Berkeley

Timothy Keller begins by stating the concern that belief  in religion and Christianity, in particular, is  “too divisive in a free democratic society” People with strong religious convictions, “feel impelled… to impose those beliefs and… to really oppress and marginalize people.” He concedes, “I do think that religion is part of the problem with the world,” but goes on to state that robust, crunchy religion is on the ascendancy, so we must find a way to deal with exclusive truth claims. Get a drink and snack, settle in and give him a listen.… Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Religion

Blogging is a dangerous business for the Christian to engage in: particularly when commenting on culture, politics, religion, art, humor, sexuality or other volatile subject matter.

One can come off sounding self-righteous and condescending, as I often do — being boorish. Then, there’s also guilt by association: “That’s fine coming from the religion that gave us the Inquisition, the Crusades and the Salem Witch Hunts.” From the other direction, you open yourself up to insults by, so-called Christians, who want to hunt down witches, launch a crusade against the infidels or turn you over to the inquisitors! Indeed:

Sufferings must be the Churches most ordinary lot, and Christians indeed must be self-denying Cross-bearers, even where there are none but formal nominal Christians to be the Cross-makers… Richard Baxter

I was studying Paul’s letter to the Romans and reached for Karl Barth’s classic commentary.… Read the rest

Blogging Christianity • Religion Religion

512YfhhKXNL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Alexander Strauch’s Biblical Eldership (BE) packs the most thorough exposition of relevant passages concerning elders in the Bible into one volume, while offering a spirited and compelling apologetic for the practice of non-clerical, plural leadership in the local church. But, it’s not just for church leaders – all readers will find a clear and well-reasoned appeal to all Christians to practice a humble, relational style of Christianity modeled after Jesus Christ. And, even if you do not find Alex Strauch’s model or paradigm ultimately convincing and advocate a monarchical episcopacy or congregational form of church government, I guarantee you will be challenged, inspired and equipped to take your ministry, whatever it may be, more seriously and you will serve with greater passion and effectiveness.… Read the rest

Books • Literature Christianity • Religion Gospel-Centered Leadership Planting Religion


redesign2It took nearly twenty years, but my short biography of Richard Baxter is in publication and you can get your hands on a copy of it on at Lewis and Roth, using PayPal, VISA© or MasterCard. It’s only $9.95 and a nominal charge for shipping and handling, so how can you go wrong? Most of my sales have been by money order or personal check and you can find that order form right here.

“Who’s Richard Baxter?” you ask.

The well-known Christian author and authority on the Puritans, J.I. Packer, called him “incomparable” in his zeal and abilities, as well as “…the most outstanding pastor, evangelist and writer on practical and devotional themes that Puritanism produced.”… Read the rest

Books • Literature Christianity • Religion Leadership Planting Religion

Sadie commented on Orrin Porter Rockwell’s piercing eyes — said he “creeped her out.” I thought we would close out LDS week with a gallery of OPR photos, spanning the life of the legendary frontiersman and gunslinger. If you would like to learn a bit more about ol’ Port and his exploits, check out these links:

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Cal Thomas penned a sober and pragmatic assessment of the typical conservative, Evangelical Christian, pro-family voter (if there is such a specimen): The Maturing of the Right.

After a factual and fair rundown of the candidates for President on the Republican side, Thomas concludes with this analysis:

That substantial numbers of conservative evangelical voters are even considering these candidates as presidential prospects is a sign of their political maturation and of their more pragmatic view of what can be expected from politics and politicians. It is also evidence that many of them are awakening to at least two other realities — (1) they are not electing a church deacon; and (2) government has limited power to rebuild a crumbling social construct.
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Christianity • Religion Politics Religion

Orrin Porter Rockwell; Man of God, Son of Thunder by Harold Schindler. From the University of Utah Press:

Was Orrin Porter Rockwell a cold-blooded killer or a saint? In this balanced account, Schindler paints the thrilling portrait of a genuinely colorful individual, a unique man of the frontier west. This electrifying, stunningly illustrated biography of the most mysterious and controversial figure in Mormon history won the American Association for State and Local History’s prestigious Award of Merit.

In his fast-paced and lucid style the author pursues the man behind the legend. Was the devoted bodyguard of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young a stalwart pioneer or a vicious murderer of scores of innocent victims?
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Books • Literature Religion

A Mormon In The White House?I called into the Laura Ingraham show to talk to Hugh Hewitt about his book, A Mormon in the Whitehouse? and the problems Mitt Romney will have attracting Evangelical Christians to his campaign.

I said something to the effect that “I’m an Evangelical Christian, a former Mormon — I’ve been through the Temple and sworn the blood oaths. I could vote for Mitt Romney for President. But, there are valid concerns that Evangelicals have and I think Mitt could answer them to their satisfaction.” I expected to be asked what those “concerns” are, but they moved right along with Hugh basically agreeing with me.… Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Politics Religion

How do you take your Christianity? Anthropo or Theo – centric? It really does make a difference and it comes through in our conversation. God is my starting point… He is transcendent… yet, I often find myself falling back into my old way of thinking, evaluating what He says and does; what He wants me to say and do, by my own subjective notions of right and wrong, good or bad, practical or unhelpful. I’m happy for people like John Piper, who bring me back to the ultimate center of my life — the Person Who alone is the beginning of all wisdom and understanding.… Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Religion

Man Emerging From StoneOnce in a while you may happen upon something you wish you’d written, but in my case that happens, oh, about fifty times a day! I found this poem by journalist Steve Turner at and was impressed by his perceptive wit. Often, we deny verities and creeds so vehemently that our persistent dissention becomes dogma which, ironically, congeals into a creed of our own — a positive confession of our contrarian attitude, systematizing the tenets of our rebellion against any form of alien correction or restraint that might hinder us in our pursuit of pleasure and self-interest. In the end, we may become the bigoted haters that so excited our righteous passions in the first place.… Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Religion

Unholy Devotion: Why Cults Lure Christians by Harold BussellEveryone has a film, a book, a piece of art that has a revolutionary effect on the way they look at everything. And, if one is fortunate (I would say “blessed”), that may happen many times along this journey we call life.

I first read Unholy Devotion as a young Christian, involved in ministry to people caught up in cults. The book received rave reviews within the apologetics community, so it was required reading for any aspiring counter-cult evangelist !

I had no idea what I was in for. Rather than focus on cultic strategies to deceive the naive or unwitting Christian into joining the Baha’i Faith or Watchtower Society, Harold Bussell identifies cultish tendencies among mainline and evangelical groups that set up otherwise solid believers to cash in their pearl of great price for a worthless counterfeit faith, presenting itself as the genuine article.… Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Religion Uncategorized

Pastor Steve has been busy here in Nevada County. We’ve been to prayer meetings, a youth meeting and even a Reformation Bible Conference, where Pastor Steve met Dr. Henry Krabbendam. Pastor Steve attended a pastors prayer meeting and spoke at a sports awards banquet for William Jessup University. He’s taught us some African praise songs. And, he’s working on a mission for Bo to come to Uganda. The indications so far point to May 2007, if the Lord wills.… Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Family • Friends Religion Uncategorized

Child molestation cases involving Catholic priests have been all over the news since the 1990s, pointing to serious sexual abuse among the clergy of all faiths and denominations. What makes this such a powerful story is the fact that priests had built a solid reputation as trustworthy advocates for children over the years. When someone my age thinks of children and priests, we are immediately reminded of Father Flanagan and Boy’s Town. But, that has all been undone now. A relative few clergy betrayed that trust and robbed so many children of their sexual innocence, plunging the Roman Catholic church into one of the most costly and devastating crises in its entire history.Read the rest

Christianity • Religion Education Media Religion Wacky • Weird

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a letter to the editor of The Union, our local newspaper. Here’s the text:

With the elimination of al-Zarqawi, pundits point out that there are hundreds al-Qaida to take his place. This would be the safe bet. However, history demonstrates that Islamic terrorists can change. The Baha’i faith is a good example.

Baha’is trace their lineage to the Bab, a 19th century Muslim terrorist who called on world leaders to repent and join him under the flag of the Mahdi. His followers carried his message through armed conflict, beheadings and murder until they were brutally suppressed by the Persian government.Read the rest


Today I called into the Rush Limbaugh radio program and made my talk radio debut to approximately 15 million listeners. The really cool part is that my remark about the film Mars Attacks became the inspiration for Rush’s parody, Mahmoud Attacks in his regular feature, See, I Told You So… (“You can stream the audio of the call segment here)

I am the caller identified as “Arthur from Nevada City.” I used my middle name, in case I totally embarrassed and humiliated myself. I pointed out that, while the press is receiving the letter from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to President Bush as some sort of diplomatic overture of peace, the text of the message actually sounds like a religious authority claim by Ahmadinejad, calling Bush to repentance and the recognition that the Qaim, the messianic figure in Twelver Shi’ism, is at the door.… Read the rest

Eschatology Religion Uncategorized

Poll: Fewer People Link Islam, Violence

Associated Press Writer

July 26, 2005, 4:14 PM EDT

WASHINGTON — The percentage of Americans who believe Islam is more likely than other religions to inspire violence has declined in the past two years, according to a poll taken after the London bombings. Just over a third, 36 percent, now say the Islamic religion is more likely to inspire violence, while 44 percent said that in July 2003, according to the poll conducted by the Pew Research Center and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life.

Pollsters are still mystified by an unexplainable plunge in the collective IQ of many Americans over the past two years.… Read the rest

Humor Religion Uncategorized