False Fathers

One of the unique roles of a father in your life is to provide definition, and to guard you from the wolves that want to define you.   When you separate from your father, or if he fails to perform this role, you can become susceptible to false fathers.  A false father is someone who gains power over you and takes advantage of you, and then, through this abuse defines who you are.   False fathers operate when your real father is not there to guard and define you. This danger can be especially Read more [...]

Christian Codependency

A codependent relationship is one where the love flow is when the bond is based on one person providing assistance and the other person receiving assistance.  In the world, this term is often used to refer to a relationship that involves an addict or an abuser, but what I want to talk about here is a “benevolent” or Christian form of codependency, where both people are relatively normal and trying to be positive. Christian codependency may result when someone grabs hold of the unconditional Read more [...]

Why Prophetic People Can Miss It

Some influential Christians have said prophetic people need to 100% accurate or they should be stoned.  Yet some of these same ministers have permitted false interpretations of the End Times to circulate, without calling those prophets wrong.  Last year, godly people whom I respect got very worked up about the Blood Moons and the Shemitah.  But no-one is claiming now that those they listened to are false prophets who should be stoned, even though they clearly issued a false prophecy. It's a funny Read more [...]

How You Can Be Deceived

The instruments of the Academy have been designed to promote discovery of a factual and authoritative view of the world, and we should recognize that many of its members are working hard to do just that, recognizing the limitations of human knowledge. Unfortunately the traditional ideas of academic discourse and freedom have come under some attack of late, while a growing minority who believe that their cause warrants them breaking the rules, will actually intentionally mislead you. Most are simply Read more [...]

Why Kingdom Change?

If you watch the news a lot, you might want to hide in a bunker. I remember when, as a young Christian, I first became aware that our society was headed in a bad direction. A good friend and I concluded that this was part of our lot as Christians approaching the end. Although we as Christians could expect good things from God, for society itself, things would get worse and worse. This led me to focus on being a good Christian, and a good witness in the midst of a decaying generation. I have have Read more [...]

How to Study the Bible: Where to Begin?

There are a mountain of resources available today to help you learn how to study the Bible, the only problem is that most of them are built on incorrect assumptions. In fact, I would go so far as to say, a lot of the training that is out there, it would be better if you had no training at all.   Where to Start The first and most important faulty assumption is that Bible study begins with the Bible. Bible study, begins with you. The Bible is not an artifact. If you study it like an artifact, Read more [...]

Why You Don’t Love God

A lot of people blame religion for their problems. I've had a pretty good share of negative experiences in church, but I can't say that it ever occurred to me to blame "the church" for them or religion in general. I pretty much had to learn about God on my own with some very general help from my Dad who was also finding God at the same time, other random people around me, and reading the Bible. Eventually, however, even after trying in all honesty to follow it, I hit the train wreck. Or multiple Read more [...]

Enablement and Boundaries

One of the most common issues that you will encounter in Christian counseling is people that have boundary issues -- as in that let themselves get walked on. In the world, the entire basis of your counseling is different -- it's based on selfishness: "How do I meet my needs?" but in Christianity, counseling is based on the idea that you should be pleasing God and loving others. Now this definitely does not mean that everyone you counsel will be selfless or oriented toward love, but that there is Read more [...]

Foundation of the Cross

In order to have any kind of stable and successful walk in Christ, every person must first experience God's unconditional love. I was driving home this week and God was showing me how when Jesus tore the veil, that was exciting for God... We think it's about us having access to the Father, and it is, but even more than that, it's about the Father having access to us. He can come to your sinful self and not have to condemn you because of your sin, but he can come in his intense unconditional love. Until Read more [...]

Stories and Analogies

Anyone who has read the New Testament knows that Jesus used a lot of stories and analogies. In fact, it was so bad that the disciples complained that he was not being plainspoken enough. It makes you imagine a kind of eastern scene where some guy trying to get wisdom from the master and the master says something about a lotus blossom. There is a method to this madness. It has to do with the fact that people are deaf. Sin causes us to be unable to hear. I mean we can physically hear the words, but Read more [...]

Giving Correction

Giving correction, especially in our contemporary "live and let live" American culture may seem extremely difficult -- especially if you have the "I really love you" pastor's heart that I talked about earlier. In the first church I was in, they definitely gave correction, and the stories seemed astonishing to me. I thought to myself "How do you know when to correct someone? And how do you do it in love?" The church culture I was in, however was high on correction, and low on love. The pastors would Read more [...]

When to Invest?

If you are any good at pastoring, you will quickly have more people to help than you have time to help them with. So the question becomes who do you help, and when? The simple Biblical answer is that you help each according to his faith. But what does that mean? In translation to the pastoral context, you help those who are hungry. I do not help those who will not help themselves. The reason is because helping these people is actually counter-productive. One of the core concepts you need as a pastor Read more [...]

Pastor as Interpreter

Emotions are not naturally and easily understood. In fact, you have to learn to understand them. Your parents and friends give you the vocabulary for them as you experience them. When you are a little baby and you cry you mom might say to you "oh, are you sad?" or when you laugh she might say "oh, you're so happy!" When she does this, she is helping you develop an emotional vocabulary. Really understanding what is going on in your heart and what to do about it is a skill learned over a lifetime -- Read more [...]

Pastor as Emotional Surrogate

When you read the title of this post, if you know anything about counseling, your red flags are probably going off because you're thinking "codependency" but I want to explain more specifically what I mean. The theory of pastoral care that I am operating under is the pastor is like the "friend who sticks closer than a brother" Proverbs 18:24. He is a person who walks along side you and tries to model the love of Christ. A friend who provides wisdom, who helps you see what is going on in your heart Read more [...]


Jesus explains in Matthew 12:34 that it is "out of the abundance of a man's heart he speaks" When someone begins to talk, they reveal much more than what they say, they reveal the condition of their heart, something about who they are, and how they relate to God. When I was younger, I used to think that I could change people by talking to them, but the more that I have worked with people, the more I have learned that the exact opposite is mostly true: what the person hears is what matters. Information Read more [...]

The Pastor’s Heart

What do you think of when you think of a "pastor"? The leader of a church? A preacher? Someone with a friendly personality? A pastor may be all of those things, but fundamentally, Biblically speaking, the essence of a pastor is something else: a shepherd. This shepherd keeps watch, over a flock, and if you are part of that flock, the shepherd keeps watch over your soul. Being a pastor, therefore is not about the ability to teach or build big things, or draw a crowd, it's about the ability to care Read more [...]

Can God Really Meet Your Emotional Needs?

If anything has become clear to me of late it is that all problems are emotional problems. Whatever your moral, spiritual, relational or even sexual problem is, it’s an emotional problem. What you feel or don’t’ feel makes decisions for you. This is a new angle for me to look at things through, and I think this angle is so appealing to me because I’m so emotional myself. I’m sometimes refer to myself as “emo”  because of it. I’m sensitive, dramatic, and emotionally aware, and it Read more [...]

Receiving a Prophecy

In a prior post, I wrote about how to approach prophecy, but in this post, I want to take it to a different level:  the psychological processes that receiving a prophecy releases in those who take prophecy seriously. I received a word recently, and have finally come to a place in my walk where I can reflect on it a bit more objectively. I remember when I was younger, when I would receive words, I could get really messed up. I remember one time the prophet told Jaime (when we were engaged) that Read more [...]

Starting A Church From Scratch

We are in discussion about helping some friends start their church, and so I am writing this post as a way of getting my thoughts together as a set of basic instructions. In my other posts, I covered a lot of perspectives and pitfalls which I would be of interest to those who are in the middle of it, but in this post, I am going to cover things you would want to know from the “ground up.” This is different from a church plant that you start with a group from another church. This is a church that Read more [...]

Ministry of the Incarnation – Part II

Today I was driving in the car, and started thinking more about what it means to live as the incarnation. About two months ago I had this thought: "What if you were who God sent to save the world?" What if you thought of the entirety of God's mission as depending on you? How would it change your mindset? What if you thought of yourself like Jesus thought of himself: as a man on a mission. A man sent by God, to bring God's presence to the earth. Not just as a contributor to something larger, but as Read more [...]

Ministry of the Incarnation

God has been speaking to our team more and more about the incarnation. Jesus was God, in created form. He was incarnated. He was God on earth, and his mission was to bring God on earth. "Your Kingdom come, as it is in heaven." Jesus was bringing the kingdom by being here, first by being the Kingdom, and second by creating it in others. Now there is really a lot to this if you think about it. The direction of movement is from heaven to earth. God is bringing something to be real here on the earth. Read more [...]

The Prevailing Heart

Anyone who has spent time with God knows there is so much more in store for us than we currently experience. We all want to move forward in our relationship capacity for God and others, and yet there seems to be times that we feel like we are at a dead end. One reason we feel this way is we don't see the possibilities because we have already crossed out options in the subconscious. I'm trying to use nice words and give a deeper understanding to what we call excuses. "I can't do this because of ‘x’." Read more [...]

The Inner Court

Recently, I was reflecting on the impact of our ministry compared to the impact of other ministries. Like everyone else in a ministry context, I want to have a bigger impact than I am having. However, I don't want to have it by compromising, and yet as I pursue truth, I keep getting farther away from the mainstream positions that allow you to have a large following. And as I was sort of putting this thought before God and reflecting on those who were on the margins in terms of their beliefs and yet Read more [...]

Romance with God

The idea of romance with God has been mainstream for probably 15 years now and I have heard the term many times, however it never really made any sense to me. This is not because I didn't believe in the idea of a romance with God, but it just wasn't a very real concept to me. Of course, this could be because some concepts in the Christian life really don't make much sense at all until you are mature enough in your walk and life experience to understand their full significance. Think of explaining Read more [...]

Families and Relationships

In the Garden of Eden, God created one man and one woman and told them to have offspring. In other words, the very first form of human relationship was the family. Out of the union of the one man and one woman, everything else would come, so that Eve would become the "mother of all life." Since the fall, a number of different "family" structures have come into being. Some of the major alternatives are: Polygamy -- One man and several women. This also includes the Harem -- a king and many women The Read more [...]

The Power of Emotions

When we think about emotions what we normally think of it in terms of a single person. How am I feeling? How are you feeling? But actually emotions are highly relational in nature. First of all, most emotions that you experience in your life come from a relationship. Secondly, regardless of the source, when you experience an emotion, it has an impact on other people around you. What I am highlighting here is that emotions are communicative. They do not exist in a vacuum. They impact everyone around Read more [...]

Emotional Reciprocation

Continuing my series on the emotional life, this is a post on the importance of emotional reciprocation. This is actually one the most fundamental human skills but most people have trouble doing it in at least one situation or role. The principle here is that expression is the fundamental building block of relationship. If you do not express it, it is as if it never happened. If you are happy and you don't express it, then people will think you were not. If you are thankful and you don't express Read more [...]

Vulnerability: Are you Mad or Sad?

I'm continuing working out my thoughts for a teaching on the healthy emotional life. Regular readers, please be patient as church topics will return when this series is complete. Everyone of us goes through hurt and pain in our lives. Some more than others, but it is impossible to live this life without it. What amazes me is how differently similar circumstances affect different people. There are many ways this is true, but today I want to discuss just one:  the vulnerability spectrum. When someone Read more [...]

Relationship Balancing

I’m going to be continuing my thoughts on emotional life and health as we are doing preparatory work for a course on emotional and pastoral life. This stuff is all very rough-cut, as I am trying to put together some concepts from a lot of experiences. So your feedback and refinement appreciated. Relationship balancing is a strange phenomenon. I’m sure that psychologists have a name for it, but I don’t know it. I welcome your input for a better term as well. Relationship balancing is primarily Read more [...]

Extraverts and Introverts

The past 4 years of ministry and marriage have drawn a lot of attention to the idea of introversion and extraversion. These are concepts invented by psychologists to help identify different kinds of people, how they process and relate to the world. And they are good because they start a very helpful discussion about the fact that different people process things differently. It  helps to be aware of this dynamic and to relate to other people using this awareness But, since the world does not believe Read more [...]

Being Religious

We like to throw the term "religious" around a lot. It's super popular in American Christianity right now to accuse everyone of being religious. I am here to tell you that if you like to call people religious, you are religious. We think that religion is whether or not you relate to God through a set of rules, and it's true that this is one manifestation of religion, but you can religiously relate to God by no rules at all. Religion is not a system, although it is often enforced by a system. Religion Read more [...]

Becoming Influential

As I explained in an earlier post, Mordecai understood the proper posture for his time. He intentionally raised his niece to be a woman of influence, and he himself trained to be a person of influence as well. Every Christian in America should be doing both of these things – aspiring to be as influential as possible, and training children to be influential for Christ as well. I mean that literally: aspiring to be as influential as possible. Becoming influential takes years and years of work where Read more [...]

Rip the Band-aid Off

Christians love platitudes. We love to tell each other things like “God doesn’t reward success, he rewards faithfulness.” We say this so we can feel better when we are not succeeding, or when we don’t feel important. The problem with these kinds of sayings is that they keep you from re-examining what you are doing so you can actually be successful. And by success I don’t mean praised, by the world, I mean successful in doing God’s mission. Take a look at the Great Commission. This is Read more [...]

Embracing the Daniel Posture

From the time of Exodus down to the exile, the Jews had their own land and their own government, but beginning in the exile, they existed among the nations as a people set apart. God’s people among the wicked. In other words, they lived just like us. During the time of Israel’s independence, the stories are primarily about their leaders – the Priests, Kings, and Judges. But both before and after their independence, we have completely different stories: stories about Jewish influence among Read more [...]

Growing Up Clean

When I was a young man, my father took me aside and told me that masturbation was not something to feel guilty about. This was not because he was an overly permissive man or was encouraging it, it was because he clearly didn't want me to go through a long adolescence of guilt. The funny thing about this talk was that something about it actually convinced me that masturbation was wrong. Which, I'd be sorry for my dad to know led to, well, a long adolescence of guilt. I kept making the leap between Read more [...]

The Institutional Church

It is very popular in some circles to criticize the institutional church. What's funny is which circles it's most popular with: radical Christians, some pastors, unhealthy Christians, and unbelievers. Three circles that would seem to have little in common. First, let's take pastors. Not all pastors are critics of the "church" -- many are on the opposite end, but I must say that I have been in more than one service in more than one place where the pastor starts rolling out the Barna statistics explaining Read more [...]

The Story of the Church

I'd like to present the story of what God is doing in history with a slightly different angle than you may have heard before.   Phase 1 - The Return. Jesus did not simply go to heaven when he died. He could have just been up there just sitting with God the Father  but he did more  -- He returned to earth in a resurrected body. It was in this resurrected body that he gave the disciples the great commission, saying that "all authority" had been given to him and they were "disciple all the Read more [...]

Most Influential Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches in America

As far as I can tell from a brief search online there is no list of the most influential Charismatic churches in America. Therefore, I'm going to give it a shot. There is a whole lot that I don't know about, so I look forward to input from people out there. Also, size and influence are different. Think about things like: How much they are a leader in defining a certain aspect or vision of Christianity?  How many many followers or copycats you have? Is the pastor on the circuit of conference Read more [...]

Seven Idols of the Church

One of the things that has become increasingly clear to me is that idolatry is the basic condition of mankind.  We love darkness (John 3:19). I was discussing this recently with my ministry partner because we’ve both had the experience repeatedly where you give someone a good book, that might  have something that’s just a little bit off in it. Instead of getting the really good meat out of it, they latch on to the one thing that is really off in the book. I was telling my wife about this and Read more [...]

The Incarnation of the Kingdom

In the book of Daniel, Nebuchadnezzar is given a dream of a giant statue. It has a head of gold, a chest of silver, a core of bronze, and feet of iron mixed with clay. Daniel interprets this dream as four great empires which were coming to rule over the earth.   Gold -- The Babylonians Silver -- The Persians            Bronze -- Alexander and the Greeks            Iron and Clay -- The Romans   All of this happened exactly as Daniel prophesied. The last event, however Read more [...]

Does God Test People?

I'll give you a hint. This is a trick question. Just like the word "love" the word "test" has multiple dimensions of meaning. Many ministries want to answer this question "yes" or "no" but because of these multiple dimensions of meaning, you can't just give a simple answer. You have to separate out the meanings to get a true Biblical teaching out. First, right out of the gate we know that God does not test anyone in the sense of "tempting" them with evil. The Bible is explicit in saying this in Read more [...]

Beware the False Dichotomies

One strategy of the enemy in academic argumentation is the false dichotomy: two choices exist, at either end of the spectrum, and you are forced to choose one. But what if neither one is right? Or what if both are right? Consider these examples: 1. Philosophy - empiricist or rationalist? 2. Economics - capitalist or socialist? 3. Psychology - nature or nurture? "I'd like Both, Please."   Most academic disciplines have false dichotomies throughout the discipline. Certain topics have existed Read more [...]

Debunking Modern Philosophy

The canon of Western Philosophy is interesting because it forms a pretty clear story. The early Western philosophers, the ancient Greeks, were rationalistic and deductive. The medieval/renaissance philosophers were basically Catholic theologians. The modern philosophers were empirical, skeptical, and secular. The late modern philosophers were atheist and starting to toy with relativism. The most recent philosophers are postmodern, which means they are hard to categorize but are generally relativist, Read more [...]

The Nature of Academic Discourse

College students are often frustrated by professors and textbooks that seem to be speaking in a foreign language. This "foreign language" has both positive and negative aspects. First, it is important to recognize that it is necessary. Each academic discipline has its own vocabulary because it is trying to discuss a different part of the intellectual world. Terms are developed as ways of encapsulating ideas. In this way, such terms are useful because once understood, they simplify the debate because Read more [...]


In psychological circles, "humanism" refers to man's innate goodness. In contrast to Christian theology, which posits man as a naturally depraved, sinful creature, secular psychology prefers to assume that man is essentially good. Data interpretation, then, is carefully gerrymandered to protect this claim. Why secular psychology has taken this route is interesting, since historically psychologists did not generally believe this way. From the foundation of Freud, psychologists believed man was inherently Read more [...]

Methodological Naturalism

Psychology, as a science, is built upon methodological naturalism. Challenge the naturalism, and you can't be a psychologist. At least, not in the Academy. Methodological naturalism means that only empirical data is admissible to support a scientific hypothesis, and that only naturalistic (sensory, visible, testable) conclusions are viable science. No supernatural allowed. And no untestable hypotheses, unfalsifiable ideas. In practice, this sounds good. Nobody wants the study of human beings, individuals, Read more [...]

Cultural Anthropology

Cultural Anthropology is getting more popular these days, especially as globalism prompts the Western world to open up more to the Non-West. We are getting to be smarter world citizens, and seeing that very important histories parallel our own. And not only are there good stories, but there are tragic ones too… stories of people who have been exploited, enslaved, or just forgotten by the industrialized world. Cultural Anthropology aims to insert some justice into this situation, and bring world Read more [...]

Infant or Believers Baptism and High or Low Church

It has become more clear to me recently how tightly the the mode of baptism ties to your view of Christian cultural engagement, and how both of these are correlated to where you live on the high or low church spectrum. Here is the simplified version. For most of Christian history baptism was practiced on infants. Now, from a Reformed viewpoint, this is a debate about covenant theology -- are the children members of the covenant or not. From a Catholic viewpoint, its about something similar, but Read more [...]

Discipling The Nations

I was part of a church once that had a post-millennial flavor to their teaching. In a nutshell, the people who say Jesus is not returning until we take over everything. And that there really won't be any tribulation, basically in the long view, things will get better and better and better until we win. I couldn't swallow this down because it seemed to need to dispatch with too much of the Bible. For example that Revelation was written before 70 A.D. and was mostly all about that. In other words, Read more [...]


The universe is an astounding thing. The more insight we get into it, the more we all marvel. Physics is responsible for our glimpse into the universe, and for our knowledge about natural laws and forces. It is considered the ground of "hard sciences" because the laws and forces uncovered influence systems involved in chemistry, biochemistry, biology, and ecology. The intrigue of physics, then, is its connectedness to data and mathematics.... highly provable and certain discoveries. The sad part, Read more [...]

Reasonable Christian Belief

When you go to college, you are separated not only from your parents, but also from your community and your church. You essentially enter a free form existence defined by peers in your same situation and professors. During this time you will make the decisions which ultimately set the course for the rest of your life. What part of society will you align yourself with? In the midst of making these decisions, you will be confronted with a great deal of information and ideas that you have never heard Read more [...]


Sociology is study of society or human grouping. In the social sciences, it is at the "top" of the spectrum with economics because it examines the largest scale trends of human behavior... the results of 4 billion people interacting together. At the "bottom" of the social sciences is psychology, which studies the individual actor. Cultural anthropology is in the "middle" because it looks at tribes or cultures -- small groups identified by geography, history or race. Sociology, being at the top of Read more [...]

A Model for Christian Academic Engagement

One path to winning respect from the Academy is to research, promote and parrot the ideas which dominate the scholarship of the moment. This method, along with hard work, of course, is the quick way to become respected and important in the academy. As Christians, however, we are not seeking respect and importance as an ends, our goal is to be a prophetic and transformational voice. At minimum, we should seek to be "salt and light" which slows the slide of the world toward nihilistic and Godless thought. If Read more [...]


Psychology is a diverse field where the main subject is the human being, the individual. Biological psychology studies the biological basis of behavior (including neuroscience), cognitive psychology examines the role of thinking/believing, social psychology studies the customs and principles of human interaction, and developmental psychology examines the growth of the individual (child, teen, and adult) over time. There are other tangential or specialized fields in psychology such as historical, Read more [...]

Political Science

The field of Political Science is comprised of several sub-disciplines. The two main branches, however, are government and international relations. That is the branch that studies the internal operations of a nation states, and the branch that studies their interactions across boundaries. They are related because they both study power, it's use and attainment. In government you study the structures that facilitate or limit people's behavior, and how people actually behave within those structures. Read more [...]


Economics is perhaps one of the most important and most debated subjects. It is a subject that everyone has a viewpoint on whether or not it is well-developed or explicitly stated. The discipline of economics used to be more about philosophy than math, but around World War II, Paul Samuelson reinvented the discipline by adding lots of mathematical modeling. This has caused the average person to see economics and economic debates as primarily about numbers and formulas, when in reality, underneath Read more [...]

Church Planting Principles II

Here are a few more points about church planting, as a sequel to my last note. Most of the principles on this list are closely interrelated.   1.  More people will leave you than will stay with you. I know this sounds mathematically impossible, but it's actually the case. Most people that come will only be with you for a season, they will not be long term co-planters.  There are different groups of these: A.  Visitors.  They come for a week or a few weeks and just don't really connect. B.  Read more [...]

What You Need To Know About Church Planting

I've been involved in church planting for 8 years, but I realized that I've never done any formal study on the subject.  After all they don't teach this kind of stuff in seminary (usually, apart from a special course). Too often, seminary is about parsing Greek verbs and understanding the filioque, not about the things that make you a good ministry leader. That means that the real training ends up happening on the job. There is all kinds of "folk knowledge" possessed by experienced pastors and ministry Read more [...]

Transformations Vidoes

The Transformations series by George Otis, Jr is perhaps one of the most encouraging documentary series made by Christians in recent memory. The two DVDs combine to show what God can do when God's people take action. They are written with a strong emphasis on the power of prayer, but really it's not just prayer alone ... it's about the power of God moving through His people. Trailer above is for Transformations II... The first one is even better. You can get Transformations I and II from The Sentinel Read more [...]

The Enemy God

Another fabulous mission documentary. This is one is not directly about mission work, as much as it the story of a people who are reached by missionaries, and the cultural transformation from revenge to mercy. The power of the real God over the spirits of the dark world. The Yanomamo people are some of the most studied people in the world. Often cultural anthropologists have romanticized their way of life, but now one of the Yanomamo people gets to speak for himself. Another winner. You can get Read more [...]

Mission Documentaries

Voice of the Martyrs has released a couple of very motivating DVDs about missions. Underground Reality Vietnam and Underground Reality Colombia.  On both of these, we watch a small group of young people go into very hostile areas. Perhaps most powerful part of this is the "Reality" these young people encounter. It's been very motivating for our team. We need to have a more radical vision for what kids should be doing. You can get a copy at http://www.vombooks.com Read more [...]

In the Face of Evil

Unfortunately the YouTube clip featured here was removed, but click through to the site for In The Face of Evil and you can see the trailer there. The movie provides an excellent overview of 20th century history, which I recommend to younger people who may not remember the cold war. This provides context for our current situation in the world. One of the interesting things about the setup for the movie is that although this is a secular film they use the concept of a "beast" in a way that harmonizes Read more [...]

Church History

There is a mountain of books out there on Church History. Each comes from a different perspective, however, which makes it hard to figure out which one to read. For people just getting started, I recommend the exciting and truly motivating Series by Roberts Liardon. They give you a flavor of several of the most important moments: Pentecostal History, Reformers and Revivalists. Read more [...]

Salt and Light for ‘Just Moms’?

In keeping with Will's theme about Salt and Light paradigm below, I wanted to post some thoughts here. As this paradigm relates to the home life, I mean. For many years, I struggled with finding meaning in staying at home... as many stay-at-home Mom's or mom's-to-be probably do. It wasn't that I didn't want to stay at home with my kids as much as it was not knowing how to do that AND be effective for God's kingdom. After being brought up in a cutting-edge church, I didn't know how to let the dream Read more [...]

The Ministries of Freedom

I was fortunate enough to be in Chicago at the same time as a meeting of the Acton Institute and so despite the super cold weather, I went over to check it out. It was a great meeting because it really stimulated my thinking at a different level than I normally get and it actually confirmed a number of things we've been thinking about but from a different angle. What is the mission of the church? In the last post, I started to deal with the "Kingdoms of this World" and what we have to do with them. Read more [...]

The Kingdoms Of This World

Jesus explicitly says that His Kingdom is "not of this world" (John 18:36) yet some of us still persist, like the crowds, to make him an Earthly king by force (John 6:15). This is not what Jesus wants from us. What he wants is for us to "make disciples" of the nations. Unlike the devil, He wants to rule over a kingdom of voluntary subjects, not of people who are enslaved to Him and hate Him. What is this "making disciples" all about though? Some explain "make disciples of all nations" to mean "take Read more [...]

Debt and Finances

One of the results of addiction is that your view of money and ability to handle it is often ruined. In addition, people who are in poverty situations often have very different views of money than those in the middle class. This is a huge challenge to unravel, but one that must be done if the person hopes to climb out. There are a lot of principles that responsible  people operate by that are non-obvious to others. For example, the principle Read more [...]

Kris Vallotton and Bethel

I recently attended a conference with the rest of the team where Kris Vallotton was the main speaker. We were going mostly as a fellowship, not for the message, as I had only heard Kris Valloton briefly on a single web cast before. I just knew that the Bethel related guys were doing cool things and the host of the conference was very excited about having him in. We didn't go because we were big followers of his, but because we were looking for an opportunity for the guys to have an encounter with Read more [...]

Eating your Spiritual Vegetables

So I have become aware that I am an excitement addict. I need things to be exciting. In fact, I come from a generation of excitement addicts. We basically have continuous entertainment opportunities all the time. We are raised from the beginning on this excitement diet. Whether it be video games, sex, food, or even things in the church the bottom line is that we want it to be exciting. This is because we were raised to chase a high. This concept has recently been ported over into the Christian world Read more [...]

What The Devil Says

We continue to wade deeper into the waters of demonic deliverance. And I certainly don't have "the answers" as it comes to this topic, but I learn more and more all the time. Talking to other people about how their bondage works has definitely been eye opening about how to get more freedom myself, and even others who are “healthy.” Jesus says that “my sheep hear my voice.” This is a great promise, but the problem is that we also hear the devil’s voice, and we have to learn to totally reject Read more [...]

Faith and The Word of Faith

A recent commenter was trying to understand why Charismatics seem to be particularly open to the Word of Faith movement and assume that if you are anti-Word of Faith you are anti-Charismatic. When I was in high school, before I became Charismatic, I remember staying up late with my brother and watching one of the TV ministries with my brother. It was completely ridiculous. I had a hard time even recognizing it as Christian. Yet these guys are raising enough money to stay on the air. It was several Read more [...]

A Christian Counseling Model

The basic task of pastoring people is helping them to grow. A major component of this then is counseling. And both counseling and pastoring are tied closely to our view of sanctification, and our view of the human person. There are several major schools of thought today that provide us an approach to helping people to grow:   “Christian Counseling.” The Christian Counseling movement is very integrationist in its philosophy. The basic idea is to build on secular counseling insights and Read more [...]

New Perspective on Paul

It was asked in a comment what is the significance of the New Perspective on Paul. First of all, I am not going to pretend to be an expert. It's a bit of a tricky subject that people will want to argue about.  If you want a more expert debriefing, check out one of the audios here. Or you may want to look at John Piper's book "The Future of Justification." The simple version is as follows: Back in the 70s, a scholar named E.P. Sanders wrote a book called "Paul and Palestinian Judaism." It claimed Read more [...]

Pentecostal or Reformed?

With the rise of contemporary Reformed thought, a number of Charismatic groups have also arisen which embrace Calvinism. Perhaps the most important of these is "New Frontiers" a major church planting network from England. A major concept for Charismatics in the 20th century was a dream of unifying the "Word and the Spirit." Ern Baxter, one of the major leaders of the Shepherding Movement, was one who held to this concept. So was R.T. Kendall, who wrote a book by the same title with Paul Cain. Smith Read more [...]

The Theology Of The Possible

After years of study, I feel that I am finally starting to get a hold of an idea that has eluded me. I did a long paper in Seminary so that I could clearly understand eschatology. Separately, I've been trying to understand how Charismatic preaching and Bible interpretation works. This leads ultimately to an examination of our Charismatic practice to find the "way forward." There are a lot of groups offering us a false "way forward" in the church right now. The whole "Emergent" movement is capturing Read more [...]

The Feast of Tabernacles

I just finished reading The Feast of Tabernacles by George H. Warnock. It is definitely one of the seminal books of the Charismatic movement, although very few contemporary Charismatics have heard of it. George H. Warnock was a key figure in the “Latter Rain” revival of 1948, and wrote the Feast of Tabernacles in 1951 in response to a prophecy. He had this to say about the relationship between the Latter Rain and the Charismatic movement “It wasn’t long until the move of God began to infiltrate Read more [...]

Covenant Theology

After demolishing dispensationalism, I heard a great Bible teacher say that covenant theology was the answer to the problem. This guy was such a great Bible teacher that I was intrigued. I recently spent a good amount of time looking into Covenant theology and I have a few things to say about it. First, covenant theology is NOT just a listing of the covenants in the Bible. Covenant theology is a theory about a relationship of all of the covenants into a overarching structure of covenants. Normally Read more [...]

Deliverance Versus Repentance

Since coming to Cincinnati we have been working with guys who are in recovery from various serious serious issues including substance abuse. Our initial approach centered on having a deliverance "encounter" with each person when they arrive. This would last for at least 4 hours. These sessions have been very effective in breaking the "first wave" of issues that people bring. This includes deep wounds from the past, unconfessed sins, anger with God, etc.  Exposing these things has enabled people Read more [...]

The Canonical Exegesis Movement

The "Canonical Exegesis Movement" is not a term in use by anyone, but it is a description of something real that is going on in our time. For most of the 20th century, dispensationalism reigned supreme among evangelicals. This led to a lot of problems with our hermeneutics -- because it was "hyper-literal" and because it wrote off the Old Testament as being "under Law" and therefore not applicable. The more academic types mixed this with higher critical assumptions about the books of the Bible being Read more [...]

I’m back

After 6 months of good ministry here in Cincinnati, we've hit a little bit of a breather, and I have felt the call to begin thinking again.   More specifically, I am getting a sense of a definite call to use my life to develop certain "reformational messages" in the church.   This is because I believe I have discovered a basic principle of the world's epistemology:  the truth is almost never what the mainstream believes, and it is almost never what those who are reacting against the mainstream Read more [...]


There are a number of foundations books out there. The good news is that when you are a new believer the main "foundations" book you really need is the New Testament. Especially Matthew, John, and Romans. If you can get the message of those 3 books, you have a lot of the really important stuff. As our team has been working with newer believers that we cannot personally disciple we have looked for resources that we can hand to them to do Read more [...]

Bible Commentaries

The first thing an entry level student of the Bible needs to own is a "Handbook." Henrietta Mears and Henry Halley did a great job by creating "Bible Handbooks"  which are kind of condensed commentaries. They just give you a "road map" of what is in the Scripture. Henrietta Mears' work is to be recommended for it's devotional and practical qualities. People are rediscovering the value of these two books and they have both been republished Read more [...]

A Vision Of The Lost

By William Booth (1829-1912) On one of my recent journeys, as I gazed from the coach window, I was led into a train of thought concerning the condition of the multitudes around me. They were living carelessly in the most open and shameless rebellion against God, without a thought for their eternal welfare. As I looked out of the window, I seemed to see them all . . . millions of people all around me given up to their drink and their pleasure, their dancing and their music, their business and their Read more [...]

Books On Spiritual Abuse

Yes, there is such a thing as 'spiritual' abuse. Spiritual abuse happens when a system is set up in the name of God that hurts people. The Pharisees were the original spiritual abusers. A lot of people think that Jesus was upset with their legalism, and there is no doubt that he was, but really that was just a part of a larger problem. They were taking advantage of people in the name of God. Not everything bad that could ever happen to you in a church setting is really spiritual abuse. Even in a Read more [...]

Reading The Bible

Learning to derive meaning out of the Bible can be very difficult, especially if you come from a religious background. I personally spent quite a while trying to get deep meaning out of the Scriptures. Those from a more fundamentalist or dispensationalist heritage will value the actual words of the Scriptures and memorize them. Those from an evangelical background will work with them at a rational level. Charismatics may welcome exciting, but "hyper-spiritual" interpretations. How do we find a method Read more [...]

“I’m Not Sure About Tongues.”

Maybe you are open to the gifts of the Holy Spirit but you are not sure about tongues. Either you believe they are over emphasized or they are not for you. If that is you, then you I recommend you read "They Speak with Other Tongues" by John Sherrill. He  was a secular and skeptical journalist who was sent to investigate the "tongues" phenomenon. The results of his investigation were not only shocking to him, but his book has ministered Read more [...]

Knowing God

Knowing God is a lifelong task. There is no one silver bullet that will suddenly cause you to know Him deeply. Ultimately the biggest part of knowing God has nothing to do with knowledge and everything to do with character and our response to Him. The more we humble ourselves the more we will experience his closeness. The more we pursue encounters with Him, the more we will experience Him on a tangible level. The spiritual disciplines Read more [...]

Pride and Humility

Pride is one of the most difficult issues for us to deal with, because it is very deceptive. In fact, someone with a major pride problem is less likely to realize they have it than someone who has a small problem. It can even go under cover masking itself as humility. Contrary to popular belief, not all pride manifests itself as arrogance. Pride is our need to look good for others. The more concerned you are about what others think about Read more [...]

Contemporary Biases of History

Every culture must have a history to support it, or it is unsustainable. This is the great American, and even pan-Western problem of the moment. We no longer believe in a history which supports who we are. Is this because we are bad, or is it because we are starting with the wrong end point and writing out the truth? This means we are destined to become something else. We are unsustainable. Contemporary American historians are obsessed with our sins. Across the West historians are obsessed with Read more [...]

Reaching Out

Many churches believe in going out to share the gospel or otherwise reach out to people on the street, but my experience is that rarely do you find people who are motivated to go out connected with the people who are motivated help take these people all the way along the path to a strong life in Christ. We believe in this powerful combination. Going out on the street is not an end unto itself. It has a purpose -- change lives. If you are going out and talking to a lot of people and praying for a Read more [...]

What About The End Times?

Many Christians today have a great deal of anxiety over the end times. Throughout history, as we have entered fearful times, the Christians have turned to the expectation of Christ's return as the ultimate hope. In Matthew 24, Jesus tells us that we will hear of "wars and rumors of wars" but that the "end is not yet." He goes on to list a number of other things that do not in themselves signify the end -- famines, false prophets, martyrdom, and lawlessness. These things are endemic to history, and Read more [...]

I’m Not Sure About Spiritual Gifts

If you are not from a charismatic or pentecostal background, the idea of spiritual gifts -- things like tongues, prophecy and divine healing may be difficult to wrestle with. On the one hand, you may be attracted to the more relaxed atmosphere at a "Spirit Filled" church but is someone about to bring some snakes out? Or possibly you may have been taught that the miraculous gifts of 1 Corinthians 12 ceased with the apostles and the completion Read more [...]

Works, Legalism and Sanctification

Every Christian must eventually grapple with the issue of sanctification, that is how to become more like God, and sin less. When someone is radically converted, this is often a non issue for a while. It seems like God just removes so many things from their old life so quickly that sanctification is an automatic process. However, as Christians grow, they often hit a point where it is not as easy as it once was and they start to wonder what happened. There are many different ways that Christians Read more [...]

Pastoral Care: Boundaries

"You Teach Others How To Treat You" overrule areas in their lives where they shouldn't -- thus the concept of "boundaries." Henry Cloud and John Townsend argue that if proper personal boundaries are reset -- if a person can draw appropriate lines where they cannot be controlled or manipulated -- then most dysfunctional relationships can get better. They also argue that a person with too tight or too loose boundaries probably doesn't Read more [...]

Coming Out Of The World

In the Garden of Eden, it was not only Adam and Eve's rebellion at work, they were deceived by the devil who appeared in the form of a serpent. Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" (Genesis 3:1) He was the one who tempted them to disobey God, and because they obeyed his voice instead of God's they came under his authority. When you are born Read more [...]

Dynamics of Attraction

As mentioned in the previous post, there are several major things working against people getting married, those are trends that the church has to fight. What about at an individual level? I'd like to look at the dynamics of relationships and what the pitfalls are. There are many different kinds of men and women out there, so it's impossible to cover every scenario, but let's look at a few basic dynamics. The most important issue is that of attraction. What causes one person to become attracted to Read more [...]


The Problem Christianity is unique among all of the world's religions because its portrait of the nature of man is so dim, and its remedy so dramatic. In Christianity, getting right with God is not a matter of self-improvement or even self denial. It is not a matter of offering some kind of sacrifice to God to appease Him. Christians recognize that every human problem ultimately goes back to one thing: sin. Most people are quick to say "Nobody's perfect," but looking around us, and inwardly, we Read more [...]