Babel and More Speaking in Tongues

There are hopeful implications embedded in this Old Testament story. The Old Testament story of the Tower of Babel is one that many of us often overlook in terms of its implications on the life of the church. Honestly, for those of us reading the Bible in our modern context today, the storyline itself can sound quite confusing. A group of men and women conspire together in the same language to form a great civilization. As the writer of Genesis conveys in chapter 11, the people said,... Read More

Celibate Gay Christians: Neither Shockingly Conservative nor Worryingly Liberal

A new book uses stories and statistics to dispel stereotypes and suspicion. Being a celibate gay Christian means being an object of suspicion. The wider LGBTQ community sees you as shockingly conservative (“You think gay sex is wrong?”), while the wider evangelical community sees you as worryingly liberal (“You call yourself gay?”). One day, someone will be expressing disgust toward your “fundamentalist” beliefs. On the next, someone else is targeting your... Read More

How Devotional Poetry Unlocks the Bible’s Surprises

A new anthology helps us see the “saints and stumblers” of Scripture with fresh eyes. During Sunday worship at my Anglican church, a lector reads aloud from the Old Testament, the Psalms, and the Epistles. The climactic moment occurs when a priest carries the Bible above his head from the altar to the nave, where he reads the Gospel. This liturgical gesture communicates two things: first, that the enfleshed Word of God came into the world and dwelt among us (John 1:14); second, that the... Read More

Why Muslims Love Mary

Followers of Islam admire the mother of Jesus. But can she be a bridge to Christianity? Mohammed, a pious PhD student from Egypt, sat guardedly in the “Community of Reconciliation.” Invited by David Vidmar, director of coaching for Peace Catalysts International, the middle-aged Muslim seemed soured on the idea of interfaith exchange at his northern California university. Vidmar suspected Mohammed came to the jointly led Muslim-Christian dinners because he felt obligated to do... Read More

Church Planting R&D: Part 3 – Small Groups, Missional Communities & Micro-Churches

Some churches are small as a deliberate decision toward the commission of disciple-making. Small churches seem to come in two basic forms: deliberate and symptomatic. Some church’s diminutive size is actually a symptom of internal and/or external factors hampering its obedience to disciple-making. Like a bonsai tree , many unnatural ecclesial forces are often inflicted on a local body in order to stunt its missionary effectiveness and perpetuate its reproductive sterility and... Read More

Redeeming Rural

Regardless of how few people live in an area, every person is in search for and in need of redemption. A couple weeks ago the Laxton house couldn’t agree on a movie for family movie night, so my wife clicked on Hoosiers. Now, a movie as old as Hoosiers certainly raised my children’s eyebrows—and even complaints—since they weren’t born in the century that churned the movie. If you’ve seen the movie, you know the storyline of the 50-year old Coach Norman... Read More

Preaching Against Racism Is Not a Distraction from the Gospel

The pulpit gives a record of our witness. On November 4, 2008, some seven months after I became a father, I saw something unfold on television that I never expected to witness in my lifetime. The United States of America had elected an African American president. My son was asleep by the time the final results came in. Nonetheless, I lifted him from his crib, carried him to the television, and whispered into his still forming imagination: We have a black president; all things are possible. I... Read More

The Great Century of Missions Ended Over a Century Ago: Will Our Age Be the Great Century of Omission?

The People of God must boldly proclaim the gospel message both here and abroad. People seem to be responding to the topic of missions or missionary work in one of a few ways today. More recently, our culture has begun to see missions as a controversial reality. We saw this with John Chau and the aftermath of his journey to reach unreached people groups living in territory under the possession of India. Chau’s story (including news of his death) was broadcasted all over the world. It... Read More

Assemblies of God Elects First Woman to Top Leadership Team

A historic vote for Donna Barrett as general secretary “has been meaningful for many women who feel God’s calling on their lives.” For the first time in its 105-year history, the Assemblies of God (AG) General Council has elected a woman to its executive leadership. Ohio minister Donna Barrett was voted in as AG general secretary during its biennial gathering last Friday. Barrett had been appointed to the post last year—the third-highest position in the denomination—after... Read More

Assemblies of God Elects First Woman to Top Leadership

A historic vote for Donna Barrett as general secretary “has been meaningful for many women who feel God’s calling on their lives.” For the first time in its 105-year history, the Assemblies of God (AG) General Council has elected a woman to its executive leadership. Ohio minister Donna Barrett was voted in as AG general secretary during its biennial gathering last Friday. Barrett had been appointed to the post last year—the third-highest position in the denomination—after... Read More