Monthly Archives: December 2011


The Greatest Commandment

The Greatest Commandment

    34 Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35 One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

   37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

For the religious leaders of Jesus' time religion was a very complicated business, much as it became over time in the Christian church. It was full of rules and regulations, often so many no one could even keep up with the list. It had become so complex that a great many people could not hope to fulfill the demands of the Law or experience peace in practicing their faith. It is not surprising then to find a devout man asking Jesus about

By |December 31st, 2011|Categories: Love|

Killing Lincoln: A "Flawed" Book Well Worth Reading

You have to admit it, television talk-show host Bill O'Reilly is extremely popular. His nightly Fox News Channel program is the highest-rated cable news show in America. Love him, despise him, or simply ignore him, millions of people know Bill O'Reilly and most have an opinion about him, one way or the other. His often bombastic style irritates and delights, driving his ratings through the roof. While he defends conservative political points consistently he is willing to go where similar hosts will not go in criticising certain conservatives by using his famous tag of "pinhead." Yet he continues to get most political leaders and pop-culture icons to appear on his show, something rarely done in this venue. He may well be the most talked about political commentator of our day. But can he write a successful historical book that goes beyond his modern political opinion? (O'Reilly was a history teacher at one point in the past.)

147434500I confess that when

By |December 30th, 2011|Categories: America and Americanism, Books|

The Complete Failure of Prohibition

I spent a few days before Christmas watching the recently released Ken Burn's documentary series Prohibition. It is, as most Ken Burns' productions, a great success. This three-part series, lasting over five-plus hours, relates the story of American idealism, folly and unintended consequences.

126942950In 1920, after literally a century of crusades and agitation, we passed the 18th Amendment which outlawed the manufacturing and sale of alcohol. For thirteen years we then battled to apply a law that had no chance of doing what its proponents had hoped for, namely saving families and ending vice. And who do we have to thank for this foolish amendment? Mostly well-intentioned moralists who were crusading and zealous Christians! These Christians may have had good motives but their actions were rooted in a terrible misuse of Scripture and a total misunderstanding of the role of government in terms of personal freedoms. 

This series tells the amazing stories of small-time whiskey-jobbers,

By |December 28th, 2011|Categories: America and Americanism, Culture, Politics|

War Horse: A Fine Film

UnknownThe much-hyped Stephen Spielberg movie, War Horse, opened on Christmas Day. Since all the festivities at my house were over by early afternoon I decided to see the film in a packed theater at a matinee showing. (The prices are always much less at this first showing.) War Horse has to be one of the three best modern "horse" movies I've seen. 

If you know little about World War I you will gain some perspective. You will even feel the theater rumble and shake from the sounds created by the bombs hitting the trenches of British soldiers. The insanity and cruelty of this war was particularly barbaric. So many died in the field with so little hope of survival. The war became a battle of attrition. Most of us alive today have almost no sense of either the reasons this war was fought or the true carnage that was involved for much of Europe. And the end of

By |December 27th, 2011|Categories: Film|

My Bride Still Delights Me

P02a - anita armstrongForty-one years ago this evening I married a beautiful young woman of 22 years of age. I, a senior on Christmas break at Wheaton College, could not believe this gorgeous lady would marry me. As I stood at the front of the Wheaton Bible Church watching her come down that long aisle I was simply staggered by God's blessing in my life. 

Today we remember all the blessings that were given to us in the years since that wonderful evening of December 26, a cold Saturday night in 1970. We had only truly met (we talked for a few seconds about five months before but we really did not notice each other at all) in May of 1970. We fell in love very fast. I do not recommend it but it was sheeer joy. Our parents were totally supportive and thus we got married rather quickly. If truth be told we hardly knew each other,

By |December 26th, 2011|Categories: Marriage & Family, Personal|

ACT 3 & the New Year Ahead: I Need Your Help

I want to thank all of you who read my various posts, whether here, on Facebook and Twitter or by subscribing to our ACT 3 Weekly articles that are sent each Monday to thousands of readers. Your interest and love over the past year is a blessing. I also want to thank many of you who faithfully and generously supported us. This ministry simply could not exist, at least in its present and fast-growing form, without you!

I hope you know that your support is helping me to challenge and teach thousands of Christian leaders across the country, even around the world. The Lord is using ACT 3 to mentor pastors, missionaries, educators, professionals, businessmen and women and homemakers. We impact Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox Christians in an ever growing way. We uniquely combine a passion for mission with a vision for unity, some all too uncommon in our time. We are in partnership with a major Christian think tank, with a mission that reaches around the globe, with several growing churches and many other related

By |December 25th, 2011|Categories: ACT 3|

A Canadian Leader Who Models Christian Grace in Leadership

Wall5A Canadian Christian friend recently introduced me to the head of state in his province by sharing an email link. I thus learned about a remarkable politician named Brad Wall. Wall was elected Premier of Saskatchewan in the November 2007 provincial election. 

Since that election, the Wall's leadership of the government can point to a remarkable list of achievements, including;  

– Three balanced budgets; 
– The largest tax cuts in the history of Saskatchewan; 
– Cutting the province's debt by almost 40 per cent; 
– Record infrastructure spending to improve roads, schools and senior's facilities all across Saskatchewan and providing more affordable housing for those with lower incomes.

Prior to his career in politics, Premier Wall was active in his local business community and was involved in service work spanning local events, economic development and health care

The Growing Reality of Interfaith Activity

A recent Hartford Institute study indicates an increase in connections across all faith traditions, especially among more civic-oriented communities. Since the 9/11 attacks, congregations have gotten more involved in interfaith work and are cooperating more for the social good of their communities. In the past decade, American congregations' involvement in interfaith worship doubled and their involvement in interfaith community service nearly tripled. Although interfaith work has increased in both evangelical and oldline churches, the most liberal congregations have the highest level of this activity. 

Older evangelicals have a very difficult time thinking about interfaith dialog and practice. Their categories are totally black and white. You are for Christ or for the devil. This is spiritual war and we must choose sides. We cannot serve God and Satan so we cannot have discussions with non-Christians unless they are evangelistic conversations. We must remind people, as soon as possible, that they are going to hell unless they convert to our faith in Jesus.  

I have clearly overstated the case here for a reason. Even

By |December 23rd, 2011|Categories: Religion|

Sexual Influences Upon the Church

Young Adults are clearly surrounded by sexual influences like never before. I cannot imagine how I would cope in this context if I were 21 again. I am sure I would need exceptional grace to remain chaste and pure if I were single.

A new Barna Group study reveals that a growing number of young people are leaving the church because their church experiences related to sexuality are too simplistic. This particular study found that young adults question how to live in purity while immersed in a culture that values hyper-sexuality over wholeness. Turning to the church for answers too often results in a list of forbidden activities with very little explanation about how to keep from doing them. Students and youth pastors say if the church is going to reach young adults, it must focus on the internal instead of the external. 17% of young Christians who responded to the Barna study said they made mistakes involving sex and felt judged within the church as a result. My personal experience says that this number is likely

By |December 22nd, 2011|Categories: Sexuality, The Church|

Thinking About the Virgin and Her Child

Virgin MaryI have been reflecting again, during this Advent season, about the person and mission of the Virgin Mother. I have quietly been doing this for the past twenty years or so. Perhaps no doctrinal thinking more quickly divides Protestants from Catholics and Orthodox Christians. Don't misunderstand me. I do not believe all the Marian dogmas affirmed by the Catholic Church, especially the two affirmed in the 19th and 20th centuries. (I do understand the rationale for these doctrinal deductions/conclusions but I am not convinced that they are either essential or faithful to Scripture or the historic creeds!)

At the same time I believe that most evangelical Protestants are quite deficient in their understanding of Mary. This means that their theology of the incarnation is also deficient because the two are clearly related in historic Christian thought. The two were plainly related in the practice of the early church. This is why the church concluded, in council, that Mary

By |December 21st, 2011|Categories: Uncategorized|

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: