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7 Ways to Fight Distraction During Prayer

I’ve been trying to pray more this year. But prayer does not always come easily to me. I often find (can you relate?) that I sit down to pray with the best of intentions, only to suddenly catch myself, a few moments later, daydreaming about yesterday’s conversation, tomorrow’s meeting, or next week’s vacation. Most of us have experienced this, and the rest of us are liars! Distraction can be a huge hindrance in our prayer life, but I am also discovering that it provides an opportunity for growth. Here are seven strategies for fighting distraction, and harnessing it to deepen…

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Three Ways Movies are Searching for the Gospel

I love movies. I always have, but for some reason I’ve grown more and more fascinated with movies in the last three or four years—the massive industry that stands behind them, the intricacies and subtleties that make for good acting and good narration, and most of all, the power of stories to communicate at such a deep, complex, emotional level. I can’t wait for Star Wars next week. Maybe part of it is living in Southern California. The other week Will Ferrell and Amy Poehler were filming part of their new movie The House right here in Sierra Madre, and as I walked…

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Five Strategies for Daily Bible Reading

I’ve always been amazed by Jesus’ response to Satan’s first temptation: “if you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread” (Matthew 4:3). I picture Jesus there, looking at the stones. His ribs are poking out, and his body is worn away after 40 days of fasting. But even in extreme hunger, Jesus prioritizes spiritual food above our physical food: “man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4). In other words, Jesus’ response is not simply a rejection of Satan’s offer, but a…

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Five Ways to Deepen Your Preaching

I’ve been blessed lately with the opportunity to preach a bit more. I really enjoy preaching, and the homiletics training I received at Covenant Seminary during my M.Div. was excellent. But the more I learn about preaching, the more I feel like I’m just beginning to learn what it even means to preach. Preaching to me is like a vast mountain, the top of which is hidden by clouds and cannot be seen, and the higher I climb, the more it stretches up still higher and higher above me. I’m not looking for encouragement when I say that, or trying…

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Is Animal Suffering and Death Before the Fall Bad?

Perhaps the most momentous issue involved in the debate between young-earth creationists and various varieties of old-earth creationists is animal death/suffering before the human fall. In his book A Biblical Case for an Old Earth, David Snoke writes, “in my experience, this is [i.e., whether animals died before Adam and Eve sinned] is the fundamental issue of Bible interpretation caught up in the debate.” My experience has been the same as Snoke’s. It is here, in the realm of animal death/suffering, that we push through the hermeneutical issues of how to read Genesis 1 into the deeper consequences of different…

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A Tribute to Jurassic Park on the Occasion of its 25th Anniversary

This summer I re-read Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. I read it for the first time along with The Lost World back in 8th grade, and so reading it again was fun and brought back old memories. People typically enjoy the Jurassic Park franchise for its thrills and special effects. The idea of dinosaurs brought back to life makes for a great story. But Crichton’s novels also have a deeper philosophical point that the movies largely eviscerate (especially the sequels). The original Jurassic Park book is a cautionary tale, akin to Frankenstein. The dinosaurs are there not just because dinosaurs are…

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Four Appeals to Christians Embracing Gay Marriage

I was not particularly surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision last Friday. Nor do I feel alarmist about it. Some Christians are responding to it in doomsday tones, but to my mind that attitude is at odds with the basic tenor of the gospel. Panic and pessimism are out of order for a worldview anchored in belief in an omnipotent God, irresistible grace, and an eternal heaven.