Vocabulary Lesson: The Keys of the Kingdom (Heidelberg Catechism, Q83)

First Aid Kit and Key, Felix E. Guerrero, cc license

Read your King James Bible and several times you'll run across the word "sackbut." Say that today and somebody will feel insulted. Back in 1611 people knew it was a musical instrument. Language changes as centuries pass. That can happen with theological vocabulary too. Take the word "keys." Listen hard to sermons, to your Christian friends, or to Christian media. Is … [Read more...]

Guest Post on ChristianMomThoughts.com: “Training Wheels for Your Child’s Prayer Life”

RayPhotosPerth on Pixabay, public domain under cc license

I am thrilled that Natasha Crain invited me to write a post on her great Christian parenting blog, "Christian Mom Thoughts." Natasha writes on apologetics for parents, equipping them to help their kids grow in a strong and well-informed faith, and she now has a book under contract with Harvest House. Check out her work -- but read my post first! It is up and … [Read more...]

That Body and Blood Thing (Heidelberg Catechism Q76)

bread and wine #1, khrawlings, cc license

One Sunday long ago that rarest of things happened: A woman who had never before set foot in a church came and joined us for worship. Her son had asked why they didn’t go to church. Ours was in the neighborhood. They showed up. I mean they had never, ever been in a church before. Most newcomers to any church used to be regulars at some other one. As several of us … [Read more...]

A Prayer for Timothy Matthew Slemmons

Tim Slemmons

Last night at UDTS we installed my friend and colleague, the Rev. Dr. Timothy Matthew Slemmons, as Associate Professor of Homiletics and Worship. I was honored to be asked to offer a prayer in the service. I thought I would share it with you, especially since many of you who know him could not be there in person. Gracious Triune God we thank you for the Word-- the Word … [Read more...]

St. Jerome, the Complicated Christian

St Jerome, by Leonello Spada; public domain via wikimedia commons

Today the Western Church commemorates St. Jerome (c. 347-420). What a complicated fellow. First passionate about secular literature, he gave it up to be a scholar of the Bible and a leader in the ascetic life. Absolutely counter-cultural -- but maybe this Doctor of the Church still has things to teach us. He was controversial Like so many in his era he had a powerful ascetic … [Read more...]

Okay, Why “Trespasses,” “Debts” and “Sins”? (Heidelberg Catechism Q119)

Early printed parchment leaf, probably from a missal, by POP, cc license

One peril of visiting a new church comes when it is time to pray. At least if the congregation of a traditional flavor they will wrap up with something like “Now let join our voices in the prayer Christ himself has taught us, saying…” It all goes fine for a while: …Father… ...Name... …kingdom… …will… …daily bread… But then that awkward moment: what will we ask … [Read more...]

How to Organize Your Faith (Heidelberg Catechism Q24)

Hooks, by Kurtis Garbutt, cc license

Shhh! A whole lot of Christians are quietly afraid that someday, someone will ask them about their faith. We need some outline points, like the pegs on a coat rack. No hooks and you just have a pile of stuff on the floor. Add a row of pegs and you can hang up a whole lot of stuff in an understandable orderly way. The Heidelberg Catechism (the 450 year old … [Read more...]

How Do You Know That? (Heidelberg Catechism Q. 19)

The Chemistry Of Inversion, Raymond Bryson, CC license

You and I were born in an age shaped by scientific thinking. We find it hard to accept that there might be ways of knowing other than through science — the proof of hypotheses through experimentation. It is a sort of cultural mythos, this devotion to science. It is a religion without a temple. We spread it like Spackle over ways of knowing that are really not about science at … [Read more...]