Out of the Heart Comes Law-Breaking

Typically the Ten Commandments are divided into ones dealing with our relationship to God (Commandments 1-4) and our relationship to others (Commandments 5-10). In Matthew 15, Jesus engages Pharisees who fail to see their law-breaking hearts. Over the course of the chapter, Jesus references the second category of the Ten Commandments, and in order. 15:5-6, “But you […]

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So You’re a Baptist; But Are You Also a Methodist?

The Church of England in the 18th century had lost much of the spiritual vitality it had possessed in the 16th & 17th centuries. The Puritans had been expelled from the Church in 1662 due to the Act of Uniformity issued by Charles II, and many of the spiritually devote High Churchmen had been forced out in 1688 for refusing to swear allegiance to William and Mary. The resultant state of the church was anything worthy of spiritual commendation. Rationalism, deism, heresy, and skepticism characterized many of the clergyman who remained in the National Church. Certainly those who doubted the […]

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Prophecy and Patterns: How Isaiah Prophesied about Jesus’ Religious Opponents

Biblical prophecy doesn’t necessarily function as a direct prediction that meets a single exhaustive fulfillment. The Bible’s authors also considered patterns to be prophetic. Such patterns could have multiple fulfillments as time marched on. Consider Matthew 15:7-9. Jesus told the Pharisees, “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: ‘This people honors me with their […]

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Elijah, Elisha, Jesus, and Raising the Dead

In the Old Testament, there were three occasions when people died and were brought back to life. In 1 Kings 17:17-24, Elijah raised a widow’s son. In 2 Kings 4:18-37, Elisha raised the Shunammite’s son. And in 2 Kings 13:21, a dead man revived when his body was thrown into a grave with Elisha’s bones. In […]

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Did Jesus Do Miracles as a Child?

A second-century document known as the Infancy Gospel of Thomas claims Jesus did miracles as a child. In it, Jesus makes clay birds and brings them to life, he causes a child’s body to wither, he strikes some neighbors with blindness, he resurrects a friend who died, and he heals his brother from a snake bite. But […]

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7 Ways Genesis 1 Stands Out from Ancient Near Eastern Creation Accounts

It is no secret that there are connections in Genesis to ancient Near Eastern creation accounts. Debate exists as to how that relationship should be explained, though that’s not the purpose of this post. I want to highlight seven elements in Genesis 1 that, when compared with other creation accounts from the Near East, shine […]

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A Letter of Comfort to a Widower: An Example of Pastoral Care from John Berridge (1716-1793)

One of the most difficult tasks given to pastors is the care of those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one. Pastors are expected simultaneously to provide comfort to the grieving and reminders of Christian truth, all with a spirit of compassion. In the course of my dissertation reading on eighteenth and nineteenth century evangelicalism,  I have read a number of letters written by evangelical ministers to people who had lost loved ones. Some of these letters come across to my modern ears as harsh and unsympathetic (perhaps they were not taken this way at that time), […]

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10 Parallels Between John the Baptist and Jesus

John the Baptist and Jesus have some fascinating parallels. Here are 10: Both men were prophesied by the prophet Malachi Both men had births which an angel foretold Both men preached about repentance and the kingdom Both men criticized the religious leaders of the day Both men were opposed Both men were accused of operating by […]

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My 2014 Highlights

2014 was full of some great highlights for me and our family. Here are some ramblings on some samplings: January: Jensen started team sports this year, beginning with joining a basketball league for his age group–he’s tall and fast, so he had a blast and wants to play again next time. Due to polar vortex […]

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The Parables in Matthew 13

There are eight parables in Matthew 13, four before Jesus goes into a house with his disciples, and four after Jesus goes into a house with his disciples (see 13:36). The Parable of the Sower and Four Soils (13:1-9) The Parable of Weeds Sown by an Enemy (13:24-30) The Parable of the Mustard Seed (13:31-32) […]

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