Renewing Purpose

Why are we here? What’s the point? How do I determine the purpose of my… work, family, challenges, faith, money, limits, hobbies, friends… my life?

While these questions often start with ourselves, it is crucial to understand that they find resolution when we realize that life is not about you. We are made for something bigger than ourselves. We are made to love and serve others. And, importantly, our lives have the potential to be powerful reasons for God. As Jesus taught,

In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven (Matthew 5:16, ESV).

To find our purpose in life, I am convinced we must know God in an intimate, personal way, and learn to serve our neighbors.

“That’ll Teach ‘Em!” Thoughts on Revenge and Forgiveness

When we are hurt by someone, one of the most fundamental temptations is to react with anger and a determination to strike back.  Whether they have been insensitive, mean, violent, or disrespectful, we want to teach them a lesson.  One that make our message quite clear: what you did was wrong, and BAM!, that’s what it felt like, so…

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60+ Innovative Church Growth Strategies

Who doesn't want to be part of an exciting, growing, and large church? The greater the desire for a bigger and better church, the more important church growth strategies are. The motivation from this post came as I read through 2 Corinthians, looking for how Paul pastored this church. His methodology is so different from my own. It is…

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60+ Ways To Love Your Friends on Facebook

How do we love our friends on Facebook? It is a new tool, so I'm not sure we have the answers we need to this important question. But with over a billion users, when Christians participate on Facebook, they should do so in a way that honors God and serves their friends. Why? Because we are called to be salt and light wherever we are (see…

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A Collision with God – A Sermon on Mark 10:35-45

"A Collision with God" is a sermon on Mark 10:35-45, given on June 24th, 2012, at a regional worship gathering for Church of the Cross in Boston, MA. You are welcome to give this sermon in other contexts (for instance, at a church service), but please do not reproduce the written text elsewhere. Passage: Mark 10:35-45 (read at Bible…

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A Tribal Identity?

From the start of humanity, we have found ways to separate ourselves from God and one another. From Adam and Eve rejecting God, to Cain murdering his brother Abel, we have had a rocky start to sticking together in spite of our differences. The honest reporting of the murky and often hostile human condition is…

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A True Comparison

In the age of social media, it seems that comparing ourselves to one another is inevitable. How can you not compare yourself to others when, every day, you are seeing the glamorous photos, funny stories, and insightful comments from a few hundred people who are just like you, except better? Or perhaps the bait comes…

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All for Jesus

There's a very simple message at the heart of the Christian message: by faith in Christ, be transformed by the love of God into a new creation. Then, by the renewing love of the Holy Spirit, we love God and love others (see, for instance, 2 Corinthians 5:11-21). We are told that being saved by Jesus is like a dead man coming back to…

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Are You Tired of Defining Yourself?

Are you tired of trying to define yourself? There is enormous pressure to define yourself well. What is your personal brand on social media? Or are you simply invisible and irrelevant to the global, hyper-connected world? How do you define yourself based upon your job? Your net worth? Your neighborhood? Your family? Your health? Your…

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Christmas and the Birth of Hope

In the midst of the cheerful season of Christmas, The New York Times recently surprised again, this time with some powerfully nihilistic writing. The article, by Roy Scranton, is gloomily titled, "We’re Doomed. Now What?" The piece is worth a sustained engagement, because it clearly articulates a significant strain of the…

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Distracted by Excellence

We live in a culture that habitually, even casually, assumes that excellence is a noble and worthy value. The famous CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs, told us, "We don’t get a chance to do that many things, and every one should be really excellent. Because this is our life." The great football coach Vince Lombardi advised, "Perfection is not…

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Do You Love Your Skeptical Neighbors?

Do you love your skeptical neighbors? Its a question I don't hear very often, but one that Christians need to regularly ask one another. According to some studies, up to 20% of Americans are not religious. The level of skepticism varies around the world, but if you live in a cultural context where many people have doubts about God, you…

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Evangelism Is A Conversation

As a Christian, I have been the recipient of some really bad attempts at evangelism. One of the most puzzling was a fairly long airplane ride. I don't recall talking to the person next to me at all - perhaps we each read a book, did Sudoku puzzles, or flipped through the SkyMall brochure to make fun of the amusing products for sale…

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Five Books for Skeptics and Seekers

Do you ever feel like you have to have all the answers for your skeptical friends? Here's the problem: it is way, way easier to ask a hard question than to give a good answer. In the space of five minutes someone can ask twenty incredibly difficult questions: how can we know anything at all? Maybe the Bible was altered by a group of…

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Five Challenges For Your Secular Friends

Do you feel like you’re always on the defensive about Christianity? There’s the Crusades, Westboro is probably inappropriately protesting something, and a prominent Christian leader has likely said something your friends think is wrong. And even once you get past the stereotypes, it takes a lot of hard work to intelligently share the…

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Five Ways To Answer A Question

Christians seem to have a poor reputation for answering questions. Would you like to know why people don't listen to our answers? And do you want some ideas for changing this situation? Then this post is for you! Let's start by understanding the problem a little better. There are at least three reasons why people are not always…

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How Can I Be Prepared To Defend My Faith?

Do you ever feel overwhelmed about defending the truth of Christianity? It seems like there's a lot of information to remember! Philosophy is complicated. Sometimes apologetics feels like math (with apologies to my readers who find math easy and enjoyable). In my cultural context, the default, assumed position is that atheism is true…

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How can we tell if you really believe in God?

For the ten years after I graduated from college I invested in discipleship and evangelism with university students. For the first seven of these years I was affiliated with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. This was a remarkable community of Christlike servants who, for the most part, showed me what it looks like to follow…

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How do things get better?

I am a hopeful person. I believe the future will be better than the past. I know, I know, historically speaking, sometimes things get worse before they got better.  Even in recent memory — many would say that 2020 was worse than 2019. But I believe things will get better.  So how do things get…

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How Should the Church Respond to Doubt?

Whatever their worldview, everyone has doubts. Christians are no different. Given this pervasive experience, every local church needs to acknowledge the reality of doubt. In preparing to respond to doubt, the church has a responsibility to anchor its approach in solidly Biblical principles. As we'll see, however, this requires us to…

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How To Answer Your Friends’ Questions

In this post I am going to teach you a process that will let you answer your friends' questions. Seriously. You can do this. Before we begin, though, we need to recognize a more general point. Whenever we decide to learn something new, there's a three-step process: Decide that the new skill is worth learning. Overcome our initial…

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Lessons from the Alex Rosenberg – William Lane Craig Debate

On February 1, Purdue University, in partnership with Biola University, hosted a debate between Dr. Alex Rosenberg and Dr. William Lane Craig, on the topic "Is Faith in God Reasonable?" You can already find audio of the debate and a summary of the debate online. The video can be watched at the bottom of this post. I think there are a…

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Nine Books For A New Apologist

I want to recommend nine books for starting an apologetics library. These books are accessible to a motivated high school student (and middle schooler), but also respect the intelligence of adult readers of all ages. They are serious books for a serious subject. In general, my thinking behind these nine books is that they each give a…

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Start with Your Friend

Have you been studying apologetics for a while? Perhaps you’ve read Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig and dug into a few books by C.S. Lewis. Armed with this new and exciting knowledge, you’re fired up about Jesus, the evidence and reasons for God, and looking for someone who is willing to listen! This is a recurring…

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Tabernacle, Temple, and Church

For many Christians, the idea of spiritual disciplines or spiritual formation has become an abstraction, something vague, or a set of pietistic rituals. Whether it is prayer or Bible reading or fasting, there is an undercurrent of the ethereal and the remote. Accordingly, the question becomes, 'What difference does it make?' I believe…

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The Challenge of Revelation

As an apologist and a philosopher, my default approach to the complexity of religious (and a-religious) ideas is to listen, to think, to reason, and then, as best I can, to draw logical conclusions. But, as I continue to realize in greater measure the older I get, this reflexive habit has its limitations. As the saying goes, our…

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The Context of Apologetics

Context matters. For instance, if you're lying in a dark place and a strong man flashes a knife above your chest before plunging it down into your body, it makes a difference whether you are in a hospital or an alleyway. Motivation matters. For instance, if someone gives you a new car, it makes a difference whether they are trying to…

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The Jabberwocky Response

Have you ever heard of experiential learning? From ropes courses to trust falls, or hearing a 'what is the meaning of life?' talk while standing in a cemetery, the point of experiential learning exercises is to give participants a richer, multi-dimensional encounter that leads to new and lasting insight. But did you know that there's a…

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The Making of a Leader by Robert Clinton – A Book Review

This is a book about spiritual dynamics. Effective spiritual ministry flows out of being, and God is concerned with our being. He is forming it. The patterns and processes He uses to shape us are worthwhile subjects for leadership study. Those who study patterns and processes, and use insights from them in life and ministry, will be…

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The Power of A Life

What is the power of your life? How far does your influence go? As it turns out, the impact of our lives is far more than you might imagine. Give yourself a baseline: take the next five seconds and write down the number of people you think your life could possibly impact. Dream big. Ok, got your number written down? Let's turn for a…

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Three (More) Common Evangelism Mistakes

In my last post, Two Common Evangelism Mistakes, I talked about two ways Christians often get evangelism wrong. You can... Present the wrong message. Live like you don’t believe a word you are saying. In this post, we'll look at three more ways we often get it wrong. The goal is to grow to maturity, both in how we live with…

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Two Common Evangelism Mistakes

Don't you sometimes wish that life came with a giant eraser that you could use to get rid of really big mistakes? This would be nice even when you order dessert and then realize about an hour later, oops, I probably shouldn't have eaten 'The Deluxe Chocolate Tower of Doom' by myself. But I also wish I had a giant eraser for the time…

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What can we learn from a lost toenail?

A lost toenail One night during college I looked down at my feet and realized that I had lost a toenail. Not just part of the toenail, but the entire toenail. My toenails are not that impressive – I haven’t done any foot modeling – but it felt like a pretty big loss to me. Frightening questions ran through my…

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What the Apostle Paul Can Teach Us About Evangelism

The Apostle Paul led an amazing life. It seems that everything he did somehow advanced the gospel. Even when he persecuted the church, dragging men and women into prison, and oversaw the martyrdom of Stephen, we learn that "those who were scattered went about preaching the word" (Acts 8:4)! Today, however, I want to look at how the…

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When do we need to answer questions?

If someone has a doubt, you might not want to give them an answer. And there are a lot of people with doubts about Christianity. Gallup reports that “U.S. Church Membership Falls Below Majority for First Time.” The New Republic reports: Denison University political scientist Paul A. Djupe, who has…

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Why do I need to find myself?

A common phrase in my childhood was, “When you grow up, you can be anything you want to be.” I sometimes responded with sarcastic comments like, “Oh, sure, then I guess I’ll be an invisible time traveler.” But what has been hardly noticed - yet is astonishing - is that social media has made this dream a reality for nearly…

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Why do you read the Bible?

Let’s say your main goal in life was to be fit and healthy. And so you turn to the Bible for some wisdom. After perusing its contents, you buy some Ezekiel Bread (Ezekiel 4:9), you drink a little wine for the sake of your stomach (1 Timothy 5:23), and you decide to become a vegetarian (Daniel 1:12). Or let’s say that you want to…

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Why is Christianity so disappointing?

What’s not to like about Christianity? Eternal life. Forgiveness of sins. Love poured into your heart by the Holy Spirit. A free gift received by faith. Jesus willingly gave his life to save us from our sin. Union with a Triune God of love. Friends at church. Christianity announces good news.  So why do so many of our family…

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Original image by Danica Tanjutco on Unsplash