Christian and Culture Through The Bible

Through the Bible: Strangers

There are so many things to think about in this section of the Bible, that I hesitate to write about anyone of them for fear of doing a disservice to the remaining items.

This section of Bible includes a story often referenced when discussing the tithe, the story of Abraham and Melchizedek. I have already written my thoughts on this elsewhere so if you are interested feel free to read them.

Christian and Culture Family Life

Why do I watch?

I took the chance to watch ‘Shrek the Halls’ last week and while it was terribly entertaining I can’t help but be upset every time I watch a TV Christmas special and they insist that the “real reason for Christmas” is anything but Christ.

Shrek even went as far to say that “Twas the night before Christmas” is the best Christmas story.  I watch the story of the British teacher being put in jail for allowing the children in her class to name a teddy bear ‘Muhammad’ I think they are extreme but at least they take their God and their religion seriously.  I suppose it just bothers me and there is very little I can do about it but make sure my family honor Jesus above all but I hate to watch Jesus be systematically removed from CHRISTmas and replaced by the spirit of commercialism.

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Looking ahead to the New Year


Almost three years ago I made a new year’s resolution to read the Bible cover to cover I assumed it would take me an entire year, because that is what all the plans I found online say, but it only took me nine months. The following year I asked Dale to Join me and we created the Bible forum, which is now defunct, and we read through the Bible with several of our friends it was great because I got to hear several different views on things that I may not have thought about personally.

This year I plan to read through the Bible again and I ask you to join me. I am still deciding on the details but it will be a one year plan, perhaps cover to cover, perhaps chronologically, perhaps a mix of old and new testament. But if you are a Christian I implore you to read God’s word and make it a focus of your life in the coming year. Here is a past post from Dale Sackrider on reading the Bible that may help you understand where I am coming from.

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Blowing my Mind — Willowcreek “We were wrong”

I am not trying take this time to bash Willowcreek but I am tipping my hat to them for admitting their errors and continuing to seek God regarding how they are supposed to do things. It is easy when you are one of the most ‘successful’ churches in the country to just put it into cruise and maintain but they are not doing that, so kudos to them. And secondly for admitting their mistake to a global audience and doing their best to correct what their influence may have caused.

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Interesting Conversation

I was just pulled into an interesting conversation that began with Senator Craig and ended up talking about mega churches and the TBN crowd. I got to listen to one agnostic, former Catholic, and a occasional church goer give their unabridged opinions on several church issues, while I prayed my hardest to say the right thing.

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The Gospel

Some Time ago a quote from DA Carson and it has really had a profound affect on the way I think about the gospel and ministry. Here is the quote in full context and a link to the text of the message.

Perhaps more common yet is the tendency to assume the gospel, whatever that is, while devoting creative energy and passion to other issues—marriage, happiness, prosperity, evangelism, the poor, wrestling with Islam, wrestling with the pressures of secularization, bioethics, dangers on the left, dangers on the right—the list is endless. This overlooks the fact that our hearers inevitably are drawn toward that about which we are most passionate. Every teacher knows that. My students are unlikely to learn all that I teach them; they are most likely to learn that about which I am most excited. If the gospel is merely assumed, while relatively peripheral issues ignite our passion, we will train a new generation to downplay the gospel and focus zeal on the periphery. It is easy to sound prophetic from the margins; what is urgently needed is to be prophetic from the center. What is to be feared, in the famous words of W. B. Yeats in “The Second Coming,” is that “the centre does not hold.” Moreover, if in fact we focus on the gospel, we shall soon see that this gospel, rightly understood, directs us how to think about, and what to do about, a substantial array of other issues. These issues, if they are analyzed on their own, as important as they are, remain relatively peripheral; ironically, if the gospel itself is deeply pondered and remains at the center of our thinking and living, it powerfully addresses and wrestles with all these other issues.

The Gopel

The audio can also be found here.

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Smokin’ Weed with Jesus?

No it isn’t just a catchy title to grab your attention although I think it will do that as well. I was watching Ralphie May’s “Girth of a Nation” comedy special and from the info page of my DVR it said one of the topics was doing drugs with Jesus, I was nervous but why not. I actually think he had some profound things to say especially in looking at how the Gospel would be written to a certain group of people.

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We read the Bible

A friend and I have started a new blog strictly for the purpose of reading through the Bible.  It is found at We read the   We used to do a forum but we didn’t really have the interest to make it happen but we think this will work out better.  People can read along with us as we go through the New Testament from now until the end of the year and leave comments if you would like, or simply read along with us.  Come and check it out…

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What does it mean to read the Bible?

When you were in school, your English teacher would give you a text book and there would be assigned reading, practice questions, review sections, and assignments. Segments of great writings would be included in the text book, but never the entire story. Just the parts you needed to study the method of writing, the verbiage, the rhythm and pace of the story, would be included. We are taught to answer questions like, what did the author mean when he put this in the story, and why did the author choose to say it this way instead of that way, etc. Everything is sanitized and isolated.

How many classics have you only read those passages that were required reading in high school or college? There is value in this method of study, but what a shame that we have neglected so many great books, because we see them as ‘required reading’. We forget that they are great books! Sadly, the Bible is often lost in this same method of reading.

The Bible is a wonderful collection of writing that should be read in its entirety! Did you read the Left Behind series by Tim LaHaye? Or maybe the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis? Imagine if we read those books like we read the Bible. You could certainly study them, pulling out passages to be dissected, gaining better understanding of what the author was saying. But would you then say you had read them? You wouldn’t think of starting in chapter 8 of Book 3 of the Left Behind series. And so we ask, what does it mean to read the Bible?

That’s a simple question right? Well, maybe not. Most Christians read the Bible like a text book. We are told often that the Bible is a Life Manual, a guide to Righteous living. Life’s How-To Guide. The problem with looking at the Bible this way is that we start to read it that way. Nothing kills the story of a great book like studying it.

Bible study and Bible reading are different both in purpose and process. When I read for the study of a work, I pick it apart. I contemplate things like why did the author say “dread poured into me from my head to my toes” instead of “I found I was gripped with fear, unable to move”. I look for symbolism and parody. I don’t read the whole story again, and I’m not concerned to start from the beginning. I can jump from chapter 8 to chapter 3 without stumbling over the story itself.

When I read for the sake of the story however, I look to understand the whole story. I want to meet the characters, the antagonist and the protagonist. I want to understand the conflict, get lost in the struggle, hope for the hero, and despise the villain! My purpose is to experience the story being told. When I read for this purpose, I read from the beginning. I try not to stumble over the mode and method of the work. They are details that don’t add to the story and so, I don’t focus on them. My purpose determines my process.

The Bible is one of the greatest stories ever told! Everything you could hope to find in the latest novel is found in this Book! Have you ever read it? Maybe you have studied it, and covered the ‘required reading’ but never enjoyed the story itself. If you have never read this Book in its entirety, allow me to recommend it to you. It truly is the Greatest Story ever told.

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Orphans and Christians

I read a recent article that says there are an estimated 115,000 children in America that are orphans and 65 million evangelical Christians.  That is one child for each 565 evangelical Christians in America.  Why is this?  If “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world” (James 1:27)  Then why are we not practicing this more?

I know several families that foster and adopt children as a ministry and do a great job of it.  My own spiritual father (Don Nonnenman) had more children through their house then I can remember, but it seems like we should be able to eliminate the need for orphanages if we were truly to live missionally.

             Heather and I have talked about our desire to have a lot of kids in our home although not all biologically ours.  We have decided to wait until we are done having our own to bring others into the house, but I can’t wait for that day.  I don’t try to be cynical but I can’t help but notice that a lot of the churches and Christians that I know are more interested in receiving the blessing of God in the form of a new car than helping a widow or an orphan.  If the missional church is going to be more than just the newest catch phrase for churches to use in their marketing it is going to take all of us as Christians stepping up and making sacrifices in our own lives that help those around us.