The good, the bad, and the ugly of my denomination’s birth
Posted By :Date :Larry | 05-24-2017
Out of interest and in preparation for a course I am to teach at Knox Theological Seminary in the fall, I read Sean Lucas' For a Continuing Church: The Roots of the Presbyterian Church in America.  Although, as a Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) minister, I knew the basic contours of our history, I learned many details about it from Lucas' book.  I came into the Christian faith and the PCA at the same time in 1979, six years after it was formed.  At that time, it seemed to me that it had…
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Manalive!
Posted By :Date :Larry | 03-25-2017
Poor Innocent Smith.  He was charged with murder, burglary, desertion, and polygamy.  My favorite is the murder charge.  You see, Smith was so troubled by Dr. Eames' university lecture about the meaninglessness of life and the preferential option of death that he went to visit the professor at night to see if what he said was really true.  After hours of depressing discussion, the conversation reached this climax: "A puppy with hydrophobia would probably struggle for life while we killed it; but if we are kind we would kill it. …
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Singing Together
Posted By :Date :Larry | 03-22-2017
It is always hard to know when to launch a first public worship service, and we went ahead without having some important pieces in place beforehand, such as a settled group of musicians to lead our congregational singing. We also have people of different backgrounds who know different church music, and some who know very little. For the first few weeks, we bumped along, happy to be together but struggling to sing together. That is, until last Sunday. God provided three musicians who come from different musical backgrounds, who came…
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Putting It All Together
Posted By :Date :Larry | 03-09-2017
At least since the time of Ezra the scribe about 2450 years ago, a standard way to preach has been to read a section of the Bible, explain it, read the next section, explain it, and so on. Nehemiah 8:8 reports, "They read from the book, from the Law of God, clearly, and they gave the sense, so that the people understood the reading." This is how they did it in the synagogues, in the early church, and in the churches of the Reformation. This way of preaching has different…
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You want a great pastor?
Posted By :Date :Larry | 02-23-2017
In last Sunday's sermon text, I Thessalonians 2:1-12, Paul and his companions gave us five marks of a faithful minister of the gospel: The faithful minister preaches the gospel boldly even if he has to suffer for doing so (verses 1-2). The faithful minister preaches with the goal of pleasing God (verses 3-6). The faithful minister preaches the gospel with tenderness (verses 7-9). The faithful minister preaches the gospel with hard work (verse 10). The faithful minister preached the gospel with personal integrity (verses 11-12). You want a great pastor? …
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Get Real
Posted By :Date :Larry | 02-15-2017
As we have moved back to the US, I have tried to apply the same cross-cultural skills I developed in Mexico in order to understanding my new culture and preach the gospel effectively here.  John Leonard's 2013 book, Get Real, published by New Growth Press, is full of helpful insights and tips about, as the subtitle says, "sharing your everyday faith every day." For example, On Western Evangelicalism: "Western individualism has turned the church into an event that I may or may not participate in, depending on what I get…
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Mere Christianity Reprise
Posted By :Date :Larry | 01-12-2017
Recently a young person asked me to recommend a book to give to a friend who has no church background but is concerned about mortality. Of course, the Bible is the best recommendation, especially one of the gospels like Mark or John. Having been working mostly in Spanish for the last three decades, I asked some friends for nominations in English, one of which was C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. As a fairly new Christian, I read this book in college and decided to read it again and offer a brief…
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Posted By :Date :Larry | 12-30-2016
Recently I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with a dear friend from seminary days, who reminded me of a conversation that remained clearer in his mind than it had in mine.  Occasionally some of us seminarians would visit the home of Dr. Cornelius Van Til, the great theologian and apologist, then retired, in his upper 80s, and not entirely lucid.  He delighted to give us copies of his many books, which he  signed with his own shaky hand.  We would provoke him to tell stories from the…
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Posted By :Date :Larry | 12-24-2016
Hebrews 2:16 reads: "For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants" (NIV) OR "For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham" (KJV) OR "For assuredly He does not take hold of angels, but He takes hold of the seed of Abraham" (NASB footnote). The different translations result from different possible meanings to the main verb.  Its basic meaning is to take hold of, but the context determines in what sense this taking hold of.  It…
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Posted By :Date :Larry | 11-12-2016
Surprisingly few have asked me this question, although it is one I have asked myself repeatedly, mostly in order to make sure I know the answer and that it is a good one. In fact, the answer is very simple and also very sound. New churches tend to reach new people. It is not that older churches cannot or do not reach new people, but new churches have been shown to be the best way to reach new people in many contexts around the world. Of course, not all new…
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