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Parents: Should You Mandate Bible Reading for your Children?

Oct 16, 2014 | Erik Raymond

This is probably one of the most common questions I hear from parents wanting to establish Christian disciplines in their kids.

Every Christian parent deals with this at some point. They struggle with what they should mandate vs just encourage their kids to do. And with this, how much? At what point will we defeat our purpose and discourage them?

OUR PRACTICE

This is what we do in our home. I am not saying it is for everyone, but we are supportive of it as a practice by conviction and experience. Our children range from 20 months to almost 16. There is quite a variety.

I’ll hit this from two angles, family and personal devotions.

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Book Review- Is God anti-gay?

Oct 15, 2014 | Erik Raymond

I remember talking to someone recently and they said, “Why is it that all you Christians talk about is homosexuality?” I told them, “Everyone is talking about homosexuality, not just Christians.”

The topic is in the paper, in Hollywood, at the water-cooler, and increasingly, at the dinner table. Invariably, the question comes to the Christian, “Is God anti-gay?”

We have to be thoughtful in how we answer questions about God and the Bible. We are always required to be faithful, and part of this requires that we graciously adorn the gospel.

Sam Allberry has written a book to help us think through this question as well as other questions about the Bible and same-sex attraction. What makes this book uncommon is its author. Allberry discloses early on that he has lived with same-sex attraction since his early teen years. This fact enables Allberry a unique voice to speak biblically to an increasingly contentious subject.

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There is Glory in the Details.

Oct 13, 2014 | Erik Raymond

We like the details when we like the topic.

Consider a newly engaged couple, do you have much trouble getting them to tell you the story about how they met and fell in love? Not likely. Or, how about new parents? Many will gladly recount the details of their birth story for you. How about a little kid who just saw something surprising? I think of my little 5-year-old daughter who recently told me the whole story of how she got a princess dress at Goodwill and how it really is an Elsa dress because of these 5 things… We love details when we love the topic we are describing.

God is no different. He loves details, especially when describing who he loves. He is very thorough, precise and passionate to communicate the intricate beauty and diverse glories of his Son.

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Book Review- Can I Really Trust the Bible?

Oct 09, 2014 | Erik Raymond

If you are active in evangelism then you regularly get questions about whether or not you can trust the Bible. The questions are valid–if we are to put all of our hope and trust in what the Bible says then we should be able to trust it.

This new little book (80 pages) from Barry Cooper is a gem. In it Cooper answers many of the most common questions about the Bible. He does so in a warm, faithful, and understandable way.

Take a look at the chapter titles:

1. Does the Bible claim to be God’s word? The world, the word, and what Jesus thought of the Bible.

2. Does the Bible seem the be God’s word? Consistency, conspiracies, and corruptions.

3. Does the Bible prove to be God’s word? Tasting, seeing, and the sweetness of Scripture. 

In such a small book Cooper does a commendable job putting a lot of very helpful material in a very accessible format. He interacts with some apologetics, textual criticism, historical theology, and systematic theology. There are many books that provide the same stuff, but none (that I can think of) that do it so accessibly. It is an ideal book to give to someone who is asking questions about the Bible as well as a newer Christian who requires further study on the topic. It can be used in evangelism and/or discipleship. Further, Cooper writes in a way that is very clear. Since he deals with topics that I regularly deal with, I plan to keep my copy nearby.

The only thing I am not keen on with this book is the cover (it is very bright). BUT, as they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. What’s more, it was published in England so it must be cool.

Pick it up at Amazon on Kindle or hard-copy for under $7 (as of today).

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20schemes Giveaway

Oct 07, 2014 | Erik Raymond

Enter below to win a t-shirt and a book from the ministry of 20schemes (more info on 20schemes)

First, who doesn’t want a free book? But this book is also a very good book. It is about the grace of Christ to Mez McConnell. I guarantee it will encourage you.

Second, it is a t-shirt. Who doesn’t want a free t-shirt. Also, you should note that the shirt will help you speak with a Scottish accent and give you some street cred (if you happen to need any).

Enter below!

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Don’t Get this Twisted…or Else!

Oct 07, 2014 | Erik Raymond

“I will become a Christian once I get my life together.”

I have heard this phrase too many times to count while talking to people about Jesus. People believe that they need to clean up to become a Christian.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the thing that qualified someone to become a Christian is their filth. Jesus did not say, “I came to affirm the moral.” Or “I came to congratulate the righteous.” Never! Give Jesus the mic and hear him clearly:

“And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”” (Mark 2:17, ESV)

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God Works Change Inside Out

Oct 06, 2014 | Erik Raymond

How do we bring about change?

There is no real debate about the presence of problems in society. One must simply open the newspaper to see the chronicles of brokenness. Each day we read of domestic violence, drug abuse, abortion, corporate greed, gang violence, and terrorism. There is no shortage of problems.

But how do we fix this? The common approach is to work on the symptoms. To do this people spend money, try to change the environment, work on education, and even provide technological advantages. In other words, the common approach to fixing problems is to work on the external. Presumably, we believe that if we can fix the environment around a person then people will thrive.

How does God fix the problems? As the Creator and omniscient One, he has a unique even a privileged perspective. We should hear it. (more…)

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Chew, Don’t Eschew the Ordinary.

Oct 02, 2014 | Erik Raymond

In his design of the Christian experience, God has created very simple ways for experiencing his grace. Particularly in the gathered church, we have prayer, Bible reading, preaching, singing, the Lord’s table, baptism, and fellowship. These ordinary activities don’t lend themselves to off-the-chart experiences but rather they are, steady, compounding and shaping. Over time one can look back with some surprise and say, “God has been so gracious, he has changed my life.”

As a result of both the ordinariness and God’s faithfulness, we may slouch into a posture of passivity and presumption. Neither are helpful. Let me explain.

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Conferences in Nebraska this October

Oct 01, 2014 | Erik Raymond

There are a number of good conferences in my area this month. If you are nearby you may want to consider attending.

1. Carl Trueman Reformation Today: Three sessions on the Reformation with a leading historian and theologian. I am planning on attending this and taking a bunch of people from Emmaus. This event is hosted by Omaha Bible Church (info).

2. Paul David Tripp, The Heart of Parenting: Tripp is probably one of the most helpful voices in this conversation. I wish I were able to be there. This event is hosted by Evangelical Free Church in Grand Island (info).

3. Jim Eckman, Worldview Conference: Eckman is a former University President who continues to think through how to think biblically about current events. This is hosted by Cornerstone Baptist Church (info).

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Are We Really That Bad?

Oct 01, 2014 | Erik Raymond

Last night after dinner I was attempting to explain question 8 of the Heidelberg Catechism to the kids:

Q. But are we so corrupt
that we are totally unable to do any good
and inclined toward all evil?

A. Yes, unless we are born again
by the Spirit of God.

As you can imagine the difficulty of grasping the concept of people being unable to do any good at all. Kids see non-Christians in our neighborhood helping others, they hear of kindness through various non-religious charities, and let’s face it: there are some nice people that you bump into.

How can you explain this tension?

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