American participation in and interest in religion is in steady decline (especially “organized” religion), but “spirituality” is big. The annual observance of Halloween has never been bigger. A friend of mine who operates an online costume rental/purchase service does 80% of his business in the month of October.
The dark side of spirituality also has never been bigger. TV shows and books about vampires and other creatures are always popular. Voodoo never went away, and ever since 1968’s movie Night... Read More
It seems like a romantic thing to craft your own wedding vows and then say them while looking into your fiancée’s eyes. I attended a wedding once where the young man got off to a great start with his customized vows, but then under the severe pressure, sweating profusely, it became obvious to all of us that he was freelancing halfway through. “And I pledge, uh, you my faithfulness, for, uh . . . as long as we shall be... Read More
Some people are offended and embarrassed when Christians send missionaries to other countries. In their view it shows disrespect to local religious beliefs when “Westerners” arrive and expect indigenous people to abandon their ancestral beliefs and accept theirs.
If the missionaries’ vision was merely to change people’s political system or diet preferences, that would indeed be cultural imperialism. But the dilemma of human sin and condemnation is global, and so is the rescue that Jesus Christ brought about.
The Bible... Read More
Back when Jay Leno was on the Tonight Show, one of his most reliable gags was called “Jaywalking.” He hiked around the streets of Los Angeles with a microphone, asking passersby basic questions about America, things middle-school students ought to know. The horrible ignorance of American history and government that he found was hysterically funny at first, but sad and depressing later.
You don’t want to know how bad the average American Christian’s basic Bible knowledge is. Surveys show that... Read More
From what the women in my life tell me, flipping through a magazine makes them feel beaten down and ugly. The models are always skinny, and their hair and makeup are always perfect. Reading these magazines is as likely to be torture as pleasure.
I’ll tell you what—when you flip through God’s Book, you will find reminders that he is not interested in your outsides but in your insides: “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who... Read More
If you live outside the U.S. and Canada, it probably sounds prideful for us to call the grand finale of the Major League Baseball season the World Series. After all, only North American teams are allowed to play. It’s not like soccer’s World Cup, which truly draws teams from all over the globe.
Jesus was an Asian male living in Israel in the first century a.d. But his victory over sin, death, hell, and Satan was not just for first-century... Read More
May I confess that I dislike the term minority? It’s from the Latin word minor, which means “lesser” or “smaller.” Just because you live or work or study in a place where you are outnumbered doesn’t make you of lesser value.
Some brave people, like students studying abroad or entrepreneurial business agents, are completely surrounded by people not like them. That must be how Abraham felt. “I am an alien and a stranger among you” (Genesis 23:4), he said to... Read More
Does the Bible’s brevity sometimes drive you batty? Are you as curious as I am for the “rest of the story”? Do you wish that God had been more generous with the content of his Word so that you would know the complete biography of Jesus, for instance, with a stenographic record of all of his teachings?
St. John, biographer #4, knows you do. Here’s how his account ends: “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of... Read More
Some people hate shopping and venture out only to purchase what is absolutely necessary. Other people are almost addicted to the rush they get when they spend money. You know the drill: “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” What is it about spending money on ourselves that is so compulsive?
Well, we’re all materialistic to some degree. If getting stuff makes me happy, then getting a lot more stuff will make me a lot happier, right? If... Read More
Communicating, listening, showing compassion, and emotional bonding are all things men in general need to work on. Holding grudges is one for the ladies. It can be wonderful to have a memory like an elephant when it comes to remembering anniversaries and distant relatives’ names. It can be an anger prison when your thoughts are dominated by old hurts.
Some person long ago invented the cliché forgive and forget. That’s impossible. You can’t expunge pain memories from your mind as... Read More