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InDepth
How Are Christians to View Government?: Lessons from Church History, Part 1


Antonio_Rodrguez_-_Saint_Augustine_-_Google_Art_ProjectChristians in America today do not have any clear understanding of how to think about government. Some look at politics as territory Christians should avoid, whether because they are so committed to the idea that we are citizens of heaven that they believe we should not be involved with any earthly state, or, more often, because they think that we should not bring religion into politics, “legislate morality,” or impose our values on a non-Christian society. Others believe it is our duty to bring our values into culture and the law, and are thoroughly bewildered about what to do when that route is closed to us.

As people who believe in sola scriptura, we turn to the Bible for help, but there doesn’t seem to be a lot of clear guidance there. Leaving aside the question of the relationship between the Old and New Testament, the Bible has nothing to say about how to live in a modern democratic republic where we can have a say in public policy. It tells us to be subject to the governing authorities and to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but it also tells us to give to God what is God’s and that our responsibility is to obey God rather than man.

This is where turning to church history can help us.

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Discovery Bible Study and 'Lectio Divina': Combining Old and New Approaches to Scripture (Part 2)


ID-100247673And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Matt. 13:52

In my previous article, we looked at Discovery Bible Studies (DBS), a relatively new approach to small group Bible study that has been used for evangelism and discipleship in many places in the global south and increasingly in the United States. While often suitable for personal study, DBS’s focus on obedience to the text can sometimes make using it in devotions a challenge, since not all passages have immediate applications in a particular individual’s life. (Besides, for most people I know identifying applications in Scripture is the hardest and most frustrating part of Bible study.)

Fortunately, there is an ancient approach to Scripture known as lectio divina (divine reading) that complements DBS and can address the difficulties raised by the method, particularly for personal devotions.

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Our Daily Bread: The Model Prayer, Part 6


ID-1002575In our examination of the Model Prayer as given to us by Jesus in Matthew 6:10-13, we have studied the first three petitions of this prayer, which have focused upon hallowing the Father and the needs of the kingdom. We now shift to three petitions that focus on our collective needs as God’s people.

It is difficult for us to serve the Triune God if we are hungry. Jesus is thus giving us permission to ask for sustenance.
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Your Will Be Done: The Model Prayer, Part 5


ID-100269748As we continue our study of Jesus’ Model Prayer, commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer, with the goal of learning how we should structure and present our prayers before our Father, we now turn our attention to verse 6:10b-c, which reads,

“Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.”

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Discovery Bible Study and 'Lectio Divina': Combining Old and New Approaches to Scripture (Part 1)


ThinkstockPhotos-531229203And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” Matt. 13:52

Although it may come as a surprise to Christians in the United States and Western Europe, Christianity is growing faster than it has at any point in its history. The rapid, even explosive, growth of the church is largely invisible to us because it is happening primarily in the global south: Africa, the Middle East, south and east Asia, and South America.

While there are many reasons for this growth, which Jerry Trousdale and I outline in our forthcoming book, “The Kingdom Unleashed,” here I would like to focus on one tool that is being used in many of the regions that are seeing the greatest growth: Discovery Bible Studies (DBS).

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Psalm 103, 'Bless the Lord, O My Soul'


ID-100159550It might seem peculiar to have a Lenten devotional be a psalm of praise. Lent is a solemn season of prayer, penance, repentance and self-denial. But on reflection, Psalm 103 is an entirely appropriate psalm for this time of year in the church calendar. The purpose of repentance is to remind us of the great acts of our God and Savior on our behalf, and to turn our attention from our self-centered needs to the One who selflessly fulfills our needs, especially our need for mercy. Mercy turns misery into joy; it turns our attention away from ourselves and places it where it belongs, on God. Praising God is thus a form of self-denial, self-denial being one of the primary disciplines of Lent.
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