We are preaching our way through 1 Peter at Hope Church, where I serve as one of the pastors. This is a very relevant book for modern Americans, as the original recipients of Peter’s letter were dealing with widespread social disfavor and increasing marginalization. The more that our culture becomes like ancient, pagan Rome, the more we will find that we have in common with the first Gentile Christians.


A Christianity that dominates and subjugates women is not a faithful version of itself.
A couple of weeks ago I preached 1 Peter 3:1-7, which contains the apostle’s admonitions for wives and husbands. This text includes the [unpopular] command, “wives…submit to your own husbands.” This is a difficult verse, in no small part because of all the cultural and personal baggage that comes with it. This passage has been misused and abused within the church. Preachers and teachers have taken this text to say that women are second-class citizens of God’s kingdom. We have used it to spiritually manipulate wives into submitting to husbands who are physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive. And that is wrong. That is sin.

A Christianity that dominates and subjugates women is not a faithful version of itself, because it was mostly women who were first drawn to the message of the gospel and the grace of God in Jesus Christ. Women were flocking to Christianity in the early days because they found in the gospel something they couldn’t find anywhere else. They heard a message that proclaimed, “You are valued by your Creator. You have tremendous worth. You have an inheritance.” God doesn’t sell his daughters for a bride price; he gives them the full inheritance of the kingdom.

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Defining the Humanity of Others at thesometimespreacher.com

In September, 2015, an effort was made through social media to challenge the stigma of abortion through the use of the hashtag #shoutyourabortion. Women who had had an abortion were encouraged to speak out, be proud, and reject the stigma of guilt and shame placed on them by society. I confess that the brazenness of many of these abortion supporters makes me angry. But I believe in the slow play of the kingdom of God. I believe that one day, at the resurrection, these women will meet the person they chose to terminate. I sincerely hope and pray that on that day they can embrace, be reconciled together through Christ, enjoy fellowship with one another in the eternal, healing new creation of God. For it is only then and there that all manner of things shall be well.


Humans have a long, sad history of deciding who is and isn’t fully human.
But in the meantime, a debate rages in our culture over abortion, a debate that seems to be full of rhetoric and vitriol, but too often void of coherent argument. Just read the tweets. (However, this article by Frederica Mathewes-Green is excellent.) We are entrenched in our positions, and there is little hope that any of us might give ground willingly.

During this year’s Super Bowl, Doritos aired an ad of an unborn child with an unusually advanced appetite for their delicious chips. This ad was criticized in a tweet by NARAL, an organization committed to advocating for abortion rights, as “humanizing fetuses.” (Their exact words.) Defining the humanity of the fetus really is the heart of the abortion debate, though it is still shocking to see it put so bluntly, as though “humanizing fetuses” were either objectionable, immoral, or unnatural.

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The church where I now pastor made an important decision not long ago that resulted in significant organizational change. Sensing God leading them in a new and radical direction, they voted to join forces with a church plant in the area, and together these two bodies formed one new church, which is now Hope Church in Westerville, Ohio. As we walked through this process together, it became clear to me that there is a wide variety of emotional responses to significant changes in life. I called this The Emotional Spectrum of Change.


Knowing where we are in the process of change will help us to understand how to respond to those powerful emotions.
Whenever we make a major decision in our lives that results in substantial change, we go through an emotional process before, during, and especially after the choice has been made. These emotions are often magnified when the change in question is deeply personal, like making a major adjustment in your church organization.

For most Christians, the local church to which we belong has a rich and vital role in our lives. Not only is our soul nourished there through worship each Sunday, but many of our closest friends are there. Church is more than something to which we belong; church is something we are. The community with whom we gather to worship and follow Jesus is one of the most important things in our lives. So when we experience change in this area, we often feel the effects of that change on a deeply personal and emotional level.

I believe that it is immensely helpful to be able to identify where we are, emotionally, with whatever change we may be experiencing. Knowing where we are in the emotional process of change, as individuals or families, will help us to understand how to respond to these feelings. God expects us to live wisely, to respond well, and to understand ourselves relative to both our circumstances and our emotional conditions. With that, I would like to introduce you to The Emotional Spectrum of Change.

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Have you ever read through the Old Testament laws in places like Leviticus and Deuteronomy and thought, “Do I really have to do all this? What happens if I break one of these commands? Or, more likely, what happens when I break nearly all of them?” There are over 600 Old Testament laws, many of which seem outdated, even silly, to modern people. For example, Leviticus 19:19 says plainly, “Do not wear clothing woven of two different kinds of material.” Does this mean that it’s a sin to wear a cotton/poly blend tee? Or, perhaps more disturbing to people like me who love shrimp, Leviticus 11:12 says, “Anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales is to be regarded as unclean by you.” What role do these Old Testament laws play in our Christian faith today?

One common way of answering this question is to divide the Old Testament laws into categories. There are moral laws, ritual laws, or civil laws. When we break it up this way, it’s easy to deduce that only the moral laws are still binding. But what would Moses think of this categorization? Is it faithful to the original text to place these commands into distinct categories? I don’t believe that it is.


When God has set a law in place, only God can revise or revoke it.
The better way to answer the question of the relevance of Old Testament laws is by applying this principle: Revisions to the binding nature of Old Testament laws must be made through revelation. Revelation guides revision. When God has set a law in place, only God can revise or revoke it. Just as the original law was issued through an act of divine revelation, so the repeal of that law must be a similar act of divine revelation. In other words, it’s not up to us to decide what does and does not still apply; it’s up to God.

So, then, what has God said about Old Testament laws? Quite a lot, actually.

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A professor at Wheaton has recently caused a stir by remarking that Christians and Muslims worship the same God. Although this professor is not in the Theology department, her statement has landed her on administrative leave. Many have chimed in with their thoughts on what Wheaton, an evangelical Christian university, should or should not do in this case. Thankfully, I am not an administrator at Wheaton (or any college…or in any capacity, for that matter) so I do not know what is appropriate in this matter. However, I would like to write a few words on the question at hand: Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?


Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?
Miroslav Volf, a theologian whom I respect and admire, has written a book called Allah: A Christian Response. I have not read his book, so I will not comment on its content. Scot McKnight, however, has read the book and interacted with it over several posts on his website, one of which can be found here. McKnight summarizes Volf’s assertions this way:

Christians and Muslims agree on six significant theological statements:

1. There is only one God.
2. God is creator.
3. God is radically different.
4. God is good.
5. God commands we love God.
6. God commands we love others.

When Christians and Muslims agree on the above six claims about God, then in their worship of God they refer to the same object” (110-111)

To be sure, these are significant similarities. But are they enough to qualify as being “the same”? (Volf does not take the word same to mean “identical,” but rather to mean “sufficiently similar.”) Does agreement upon these six theological points create sufficiently similar worship between Christians and Muslims?

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