Archives For Culture

It’s happened again. Unbelievable atrocities as terrorists erupt violence on hundreds of innocent bystanders.

The images filling our screens and feeds send a shudder up our spine and fill our minds with questions.  Questions like:

  • Why did this happen?
  • How is this possible?
  • What should be our response?
  • When will the madness end?

The Bible, unlike any other book in history, gives us the:


1. The answer to WHY is sin, not evil.

Evil is not a presence, principle or person. Evil is an outcome. It is the result of people who have made the conscious choice to act on their sinful nature. Sin is the cause and evil is the effect. The greater a person embraces the sin in their heart, the more heinous are the actions of their hands. (see Genesis 4:7)

And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil.” (John 3:19, NLT)

2. The answer to HOW is confusion.

We have convinced ourselves that diplomacy, policy and democracy have the power to cure or possibly control sin. No amount of teaching, technology, tolerance, treaties or…

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How do we engage the culture with convictional kindness? How do we remain compassionate and loving, even in the face of intense opposition and hostility? If we’re going to be obedient in this, we must have confidence.

As I wrote this, I was simultaneously watching a number of discouraging fissures within churches and ministries. Some of them involved leaders falling. Some involved petty disputes between Christians that resemble Hollywood actors in grudge-matches over whose dressing room is bigger. I told a friend that this made me all the more in awe of the ministry of Paul. After all, we have two thousand years of history behind us. He was battling external threats of arrest, and internal wrestling in the churches with heresy and immorality. And all he had to go on was a career wrecked by a light and a voice.

Paul said that the false teachers were the equivalent of Jannes and Jambres, the Egyptian magicians who mimicked Moses’ and Aaron’s signs from God with their own occultist power (Exod. 7:11-12). God’s servants authenticated their sending from God by transforming a staff into a writhing, living serpent. But Pharaoh’s court magicians turned back their…

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By Lisa Cannon Green

Pope Francis is boosting the reputation of the Catholic Church among Protestant pastors in America.

Nearly 4 in 10 say the pope, known for his humility and concern for the poor, has had a positive impact on their opinions of the Catholic Church, LifeWay Research finds. Almost two-thirds view Pope Francis as a genuine Christian and “brother in Christ.”

However, half of Protestant pastors say they do not value Pope Francis’ opinion on matters of theology.

Changing views

LifeWay Research asked 1,000 Protestant pastors in America about their views in a phone survey from Sept. 8-21, 2015, shortly before the pontiff’s visit to the United States this week.

Pope Francis, who in March 2013 became the first non-European and first Jesuit priest to be named pope, has been outspoken on such issues as welcoming immigrants, shunning materialism, and protecting the environment.

For 43 percent of Protestant pastors, Pope Francis has not changed their views of the Catholic Church. However, half say the current pope has affected their opinions—and almost three times as many cite a positive impact (37 percent) as a negative one (14 percent).

“Our sample itself—Protestant pastors—is named after the Protestant…

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There are two key mistakes American Christians tend to make when thinking about the intersection of religion and culture. The first is to have an attitude of a “majority” culture, a mindset that incorrectly conflates a civic morality with Christianity and seeks to build coalitions to “turn America back” to Christ. But there is another mistake too, and that is to have a fearful, hand-wringing siege mentality. While it’s true that religious liberty is genuinely imperiled, perhaps more than at any time since the revolutionary era, we will not be able to articulate our commitments in this arena if we don’t know how to differentiate between state persecution and cultural marginalization, between public oppression and personal offense.

Several years ago, I was flipping through magazines on an airplane when I came across a couple of pages that spiked my blood pressure. A beer advertisement was tagged with the headline, “Silent Nights Are Overrated.” A few minutes later, in a second publication, there was an advertisement for an outdoor grill which read: “Who Says It’s Better to Give Than to Receive?” My first reaction was a personal, if not tribal, offense. “Would they advertise in…

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Our culture is changing. Things that were common only 20 years ago are becoming impossible. Things that were rare 20 years ago are becoming common place. Disaster seems to strike nearly every day somewhere in America or in the world.

Our world is changing and it’s not becoming more like Christ.

I do, though, believe that there’s hope.

There’s always hope with Jesus.

A big part of that hope is the Church. The Church is still God’s plan to reach humanity. However, as the Church, we stand at a crossroads of opportunity. One way takes us down the same path some of the church has been down for quite some time. That path says, “Look at us and see us. We’ll impress you into believing like us.” That path worked in the past and still works to some degree. However, there’s another path of opportunity. It’s the path that seems to give the Church and those outside of the Church real hope. It’s the path that sheds new light on what really makes Christianity special. There are some real advantages to the Gospel message and those trying to get it out.

Here are 4 advantages the Church has…

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Editor’s Note: The following article by Pastor Rick Warren originally ran just after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on American soil. The Ministry Toolbox launched six months prior. These words were on Pastor Rick’s heart as he addressed Saddleback Church and the world’s pastors that fateful week…


The horrific mass murder of innocent Americans leaves all rational people shocked, angry, grief-stricken and numb. Our tears flow freely and our hearts carry a deep ache. How could this happen in our nation?

As mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, friends, neighbors and coworkers begin to share their stories of the horror, this tragedy will become even more personal. As it becomes more personal, it will become more painful, and as our pain deepens, so will the questions. Why does God allow evil to happen? If God is so great and so good, why does he allow human beings to hurt each other?

The answer lies in both our greatest blessing and our worst curse: our capacity to make choices. God has given us a free will. Made in God’s image, he has given us the freedom to decide how we will act and the ability to make moral…

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Human Dignity

On a Sunday this January, probably of whatever year it is when you read this (at least as long as I’m living), I will probably be preaching somewhere in a church on “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.” Here’s a confession: I hate it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to preach the Bible. And I love to talk about the image of God and the protection of all human life. I hate this Sunday not because of what we have to say, but that we have to say it at all. The idea of aborting an unborn child or abusing a born child or starving an elderly person or torturing an enemy combatant or screaming at an immigrant family, these ought all to be so self-evidently wrong that a “Sanctity of Human Life Sunday” ought to be as unnecessary as a “Reality of Gravity Sunday.” We shouldn’t have to say that parents shouldn’t abort their children, or their fathers shouldn’t abandon the mothers of their babies, or that no human life is worthless regardless of age, skin color, disability, or economic status.

Part of my thinking here is, I hope, a sign…

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Many of us were horrified and repulsed as we saw Planned Parenthood Federation leaders in undercover videos negotiating the sale of body parts from aborted children. The cavalier conversations, over lunch, about such things ought to shock every conscience. For Christians, this atrocity ought to drive us to reflect on the literal crux of our faith, the cross of Jesus Christ.

The most ghoulish aspect of these videos is, after all, not simply that children are losing their lives. We knew that already. Beyond that is the way these children’s bodies are being used, divided up for parts, in order to enable clinics to “do a little better than break even.” And, of course, there is the callousness of the consciences involved. How could one talk about where to “crush” a baby or how “crunchy” the tearing mechanism ought to be in such breezy casual terms?

Every human person naturally ought to recoil from such language. But for a Christian, especially, such language ought to trigger in us thoughts of Jesus of Nazareth, who identified himself with human nature, taking on flesh and dwelling among us (Jn. 1:14). Jesus is human—not “was,” mind you, “is”—meaning…

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Bible Study

When was the last time you read a book? For almost 1 in 4 of us, it was more than a year ago, according to Pew Research. That’s three times the number who didn’t read a book in 1978. In America, we have a literacy problem. But more concerning to me, we have a biblical literacy problem. Americans, including churchgoers, aren’t reading much of any book, including the Good Book.

The Sad Statistics

Christians claim to believe the Bible is God’s Word. We claim it’s God’s divinely inspired, inerrant message to us. Yet despite this, we aren’t reading it. A recent LifeWay Research study found only 45 percent of those who regularly attend church read the Bible more than once a week. Over 40 percent of the people attending read their Bible occasionally, maybe once or twice a month. Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible—essentially the same number who read it every day.

Small groups are key to combating and changing the epidemic of biblical illiteracy.

Because we don’t read God’s Word, it follows that we don’t know it. To understand the effects, we can look to statistics of…

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This past weekend I met a couple who were married on the Fourth of July and baptized on the fifth. They had been cohabiting for many years and had several children together. They had never known anyone who was part of a church. But when their lives didn’t turn out the way that they hoped, they were willing to try anything, including a local church. There they ran into an old gospel, and new life. As I watched them plunged into the waters of baptism—and as I heard their three year-old son yell from his pew “Wow!”—I thought about how their story may well be the story of the coming generations.

The Sexual Revolution certainly seems triumphant. After a generation of no-fault divorce, cohabitation, ubiquitous pornography, and the cultural unhinging of sex from marriage and marriage from childbearing, we now see the courts and the culture decoupling marriage from even its most basic reality: gender. And there are hints on the horizon that the next step is to culturally, and perhaps legally, decouple marriage from, well, couples. If sexuality is about personal expression and individual autonomy, after all, then by what right can society…

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The “Dones.” It’s a term sociologists and researchers use to describe those who are done with church. The Dones were once part of a church, but have become disillusioned for a variety of reasons and have decided to be spiritual without the help of a local congregation. And the Dones are growing in number.

I’m a Pastor, and I’ve seen the church from every angle. I’ve been a church kid, a kid whose family left the church, and a young adult who found my way back to the church. I’ve been the Pastor of smaller, more traditional churches, on staff at a megachurch, and a planter of a new church unlike any other I’ve ever been part of. And there have been, in my twenty years of ministry, quite a few Sunday nights when I’ve felt the desire to be Done again.

But I’m here. And I’m committed. And I’ll share why, but first, I want to address some of the most common reasons you might think you’re Done with the church.

“The Church Is So Judgmental”

Guilty. The church in America has had a history of perpetuating an us-versus-them mentality toward people who…

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Bible Museum

Our world is shaped by innovation—the newest iPhone, the latest Netflix show or the most current social media app. It’s hard to imagine a world without these devices, but iPhones have only been around since 2007, unlimited streaming on Netflix came the year after and Facebook is a young company at just eleven years old.

The world before this unlimited access to information now seems archaic, but staring at “devices” all day can prevent us from seeing the bigger picture. The bright light of the screen can be more than a little blinding.

Fortunately, there are remedies for this. Increasingly, many American families have employed restraints like digital curfews, no more screen time after, say, 9 PM. Others make a more substantial effort to reconnect with the larger community by joining clubs or leagues.

Museums, however, offer us the best opportunity to shed our often streamlined worldview to better connect with history and understand current events in a way that can impact and shape our lives. While technology has made amazing advances that have changed the way we learn about the world, nothing can come close to the total immersion we can experience at a museum.

In Washington, D. C., considered by some to be the museum capital of…

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