Why Preaching and Speaking Templates are a Good Idea.

I’ve mulled over the idea of preaching templates for a while. Is it a good idea for a pastor to have the same outline for every sermon he’s going to preach? Is it okay for him to have a mold in which to fit the text of every passage? Isn’t that resisting the variety of scripture? […]

4 Tips for Focus in Prayer

You just cringed. It’s not that you don’t like prayer. It’s just…too mystical, too profound, too hard. There’s no time for prayer. You can’t focus. But Jesus talks as though it’s the ultimate thing; Paul and the great Christians throughout the ages seem to have it down. Martin Luther prayed for 4 hours a day, […]

7 Ways to Choose the Write Word.

You know you’re a writer if you love the process of word-choice. Finding “just the right word” is a beautiful thing. But sometimes trying to sound intellectual or artistic blockades good writing. For beginning writers, this is perhaps the key stumbling block to improving their writing: trying to sound like a writer. Not only does […]

A Glimpse of Truth: Atlas Shrugged

Ayn Rand on personal justice and absolute truth in her tome of a novel, “Atlas Shrugged:”      “The man who refuses to judge, who neither agrees nor disagrees, who declares that there are no absolutes and believes that he escapes responsibility, is the man responsible for all the blood that is now spilled in the […]

St. Augustine’s 6 Principles for Analyzing Culture Today.

Certainly Augustine’s penetrating analyses of his culture has many principles to teach us in modern times. I’ll extract six. First, Augustine calls us to abandon extreme views of Christ and culture, and be rather more discerning in our approach. Augustine rejects philosophy as a whole, but also praises the work of Cicero, who genuinely led him on […]

St. Augustine on Philosophy, Fashion, Medicine, Education, Science and History.

At the beginning of this series, we looked at Augustine’s foundation for analyzing culture: doctrine. Yesterday we looked at 6 case studies, and today we’ll examine 6 more: Philosophy, Fashion, Medicine, Education, Science and History.      Philosophy: Augustine also spends much of his time contending with the philosophers of his day. While Augustine affirms that […]

St. Augustine on Music, Psychology, Poetry, Theater, Visual Art and Government.

     Yesterday we looked at Augustine’s 3 doctrinal essentials for analyzing culture. Today, we’ll look at how these played out in his analysis of different cultural spheres: Music, Psychology, Poetry, Theater, Visual Art, and Government.      Music: For Augustine, music was a good creation of God to which he was personally drawn. However, he was concerned that […]

St. Augustine’s 3 Key Doctrines for Analyzing His Culture

Hey folks – I’ve had a couple of interesting conversations regarding the St. Augustine/Culture post last week. This week is solely dedicated to that topic (pardon the academic tone, lots of this comes from my recent research paper). Today we’ll answer: “Why is Augustine important?” and “What doctrines helped formulate Augustine’s cultural perspective?” Enjoy! Why […]

A Glimpse of Truth: Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park, in book format, is much more a social statement than a 90’s thriller. It’s both, of course, but here’s a great example of Crichton’s penetrating analysis of culture you just don’t get from Spielberg’s version, from the words of the fictional scientist Ian Malcolm: “But now,” he continued, “science is the belief system […]

How to Open a Speech.

I’ve noticed a lot of pastors have one trade-mark way to open their sermons. If it works for them, cool. But most of us need a variety of ways to open up a speech, talk, or broadcast. Here are a few good ones: Ask a question. Why should we ask questions? Because you’re reading this […]