Monthly Archives: February 2010

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More on the Launch of the New Book

Cover to Your Church_ As I mentioned yesterday the new book, Your Church Is Too Small, will be delivered next Friday. If you have ordered a copy it should arrive within two or three weeks as it takes some time for the publisher to ship to the supplier and then for the supplier to get the book out to those who have pre-ordered it.

If you live in Chicago I invite your to attend the book luncheon on Wednesday, March 17, at 11:45 a.m. at the Holiday Inn in Carol Stream. It is best that you register for this event at www.act3online.com but if you simply show up you should be able to join us for lunch. The cost is $20, almost all of which is for the lunch itself. I will make a brief presentation about how and why I wrote the book and

A Personal Update on Your Church Is Too Small

Cover to Your Church_ Readers of this blog are aware that my new book, Your Church Is Too Small, will soon be released. The formal date is the First of April, but copies will actually be delivered to Zondervan on Friday, March 5. I will get my copies the following week. I can’t begin to express how thrilled I am to finally see this book in print.

I have written or edited twelve books but never have I been filled with such hope and excitement about a book and what it represents as this one. Simply put, “The vision God gave me for the last stretch of my life is in this book.” I hope it is not my last book, since there are many things related to this book I would like to explore in greater depth. Two follow-up books are in my mind at this moment. One book, on the relational Trinity, seems to press on

Sharing Your Opinions Is Risky Business

Sharing your opinions with others is risky business. I have learned this truism far too often for my own good. I like to think that I am not a very opinionated individual but this is a myth I still too often tell myself.

An opinion, says Webster’s New World College Dictionary (1997) is “any belief not based on absolute certainty or positive knowledge but on what seems true, valid or probable to one’s own mind.” Face it, most of us have opinions, some of us have a lot of them. If we are alive we have opinions. These opinions influence almost everything we see and do in life. What seems true to us actually informs us and these opinions guide us. What we fail to do is to put all our opinions to the real test. Are they truly valid? On what basis did we form them? Do we have all the facts at out disposal to really support them?

Assuming our opinions actually do line up with what is true, at least

By |February 26th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|

The Erosion of Religious Freedom Is Real

George Weigel is one of the very best contemporary Christian non-fiction writers in our time, especially on issues related to faith and culture. Weigel is not only insightful, and a careful scholar as well, but a wonderful writer whose style easily engages you in his prose. His biography of John Paul II, Witness to Hope, is my favorite biography of the late pontiff. It is a long book but worth the time and effort to read it. Weigel explains Karol Wojtyla, before and after his election to the georgeweigelpapacy, as well as any volume I have read. Weigel has authored a number of other very useful books including:

By |February 25th, 2010|Categories: Uncategorized|

Why No Comprehensive National Health Care?

I have a number of friends from both Canada and Europe who express considerable amazement at how we in the U. S continue to debate the subject of single-payer, comprehensive health care. For them it seems like a slam-dunk argument in favor of such a system. I read and hear that we are just being a selfish nation that doesn't care enough for the poor among us. We have been ruined, some argue, by our crass love of free markets and capitalism. And, I have heard American Christians from the political left argue that Christians who do not support national health care are even more culpable since we should be the very ones who are deeply concerned for our weaker, poorer fellow Americans. Indeed, the Christian left touts this entire issue as one of Christian compassion and love for the weak and marginalized. Who could argue with this point if this is the real case? The problem is that I strongly disagree with both the analysis and the reasons behind it. But it is admittedly not as easy to explain why in simple and

By |February 24th, 2010|Categories: America and Americanism, Ethics, Politics|

The Gift of Dan Jones as an ACT 3 Associate

One of the greatest joys that I experience is teaching students, especially my Wheaton College Graduate students. I have met so many wonderful men and women in the M.A. in Evangelism and Christian Leadership program over the last few years. I have been able to enter into mentoring friendships with at least 10-12 former students over the past five years. One such student is Dan Jones. Dan was in my apologetics class in January, 2009. After a week long intensive class we began to build a friendship by enjoying meals together. We shared many hours talking, praying and just enjoying the love of Christ as friends. Just before Christmas, Dan (with the full support of his lovely bride Judy) offered to work with me as my associate at ACT 3. When I told him that there was no money for the job he was not deterred. He said that he actually believed that he could work for one year. We could then see how the Lord provided for him and how we were able to

By |February 23rd, 2010|Categories: ACT 3|

Gnosticism: The Heresy That Keeps on Troubling the Church

We can not be absolutely certain about the origins of the ancient heresy of Gnosticism but it may have been birthed as a pseudo-Christian heresy in the first century by the man named Simon Magus, a Samaritan sorcerer (magus actually means magician) who is named in the Book of Acts. Some church fathers, in a type of prophetic way, referred to him as the progenitor of all heresies. He had a consort named Helen and had about thirty disciples who traveled with him. He attracted significant crowds with special revelations, esoteric insights and various kinds of "signs and wonders." So impressive was his reputation as a miracle worker that the Romans made a statue in his honor which said: "To Simon, the Holy God." Arland Hultgren, in his scholarly book The Earliest Christian Heretics (Fortress Press, 1996) says that many of his fellow countrymen in Samaria regarded him as their deity. Simon even prophesied that he would rise on the third day thus prompting church fathers to see him as the "false messiah" warned about in Matthew's Gospel.

By |February 22nd, 2010|Categories: American Evangelicalism, Spirituality|

The Internet and Kingdom Prayer

Dr. Archie Parrish has long been associated with innovative and insightful evangelism. He is also a student of revival and an intercessor who seeks to mobilize prayer movements. Archie is the president of SERVE International, which is committed to what he calls "kingdom prayer." The goal of kingdom prayer is: "To build a supercritical mass of kingdom-focused prayer composed of 120 kingdom intercessors in 120 churches in 120 cities or regions throughout the world." I have known about Archie Parrish for many years. I have personally known some of his best friends but I have never had the opportunity to meet Archie in person.

I tell this story because it underscores one of the values of social media networks like Facebook. I have been a "friend" of Archie Parrish, on Facebook, for some months now. I have thus come to know him better and he has come to know a bit about me as well. Archie recently sent the following message (via Facebook) and with

By |February 21st, 2010|Categories: Prayer|

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

What should American Christians do for religious liberty in the world? 70% of the world’s population does not enjoy the freedom to worship according to conscience as we know religious freedom in this land. I think, in most cases, this fact alone calls for Christians and non-Christians to work together to impact the world in such a way that people will be truly free to worship as they believe, or to not worship at all. What an army we would be, Christian and atheist, if we worked for this common purpose.

Put very simply we ought to strongly encourage the countries of the world to uphold the principles already set forth in Article XVIII of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (adopted by the United Nations in 1948)) as the aspirational goal for all of humankind:

Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or

By |February 20th, 2010|Categories: Separation of Church & State|

Religious Liberty & the Free Exercise Clause

The second major debate about religious liberty in America has surrounded what is called the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. The First Amendment says, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . . " In 1878 the Supreme Court was first called upon to interpret the extent of the Free Exercise Clause in a case called Reynolds v. United States. This case related to the prosecution of polygamy under federal law. The Supreme Court upheld Mr. Reynolds' conviction for bigamy, deciding that to rule otherwise would provide constitutional protection for a gamut of religious beliefs, including those as (potentially) extreme as human sacrifice. The Court said: "Congress cannot pass a law for the government of the Territory which shall prohibit the free exercise of religion. The first amendment to the Constitution expressly forbids such legislation." Of federal territorial laws, the Court said: "Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious beliefs and opinions, they

By |February 19th, 2010|Categories: Separation of Church & State|
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