The story of the Bethlehem hostel means Christ keeps company with pilgrims, not emperors. In nativity pageants all over the world, several roles fit well for those terrified of public speaking: cows, sheep, and the innkeeper. The innkeeper, in most dramatic renditions, has no speaking lines. Instead, the person must merely look sad, hold out their hand, and shake their head to say no. Luke’s gospel tells us that Mary and Joseph laid Jesus in a manger “because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:7, KJV). Some people are surprised when they find out there is…

Daily devotional readings from Christianity Today. “I bring you good news …” (Luke 2:10). With these words, the angel began a stunning gospel proclamation: The Savior, the promised Messiah, the Lord, had been born! When we think of the gospel—of the Good News—we rightly think of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We think of our sin, of Jesus’ sacrifice, of the salvation and eternal life Christ offer. In this sense, it’s only natural to think of Easter as the “gospel” holiday—it marks the central events that make our redemption possible. But in this online devotional resource, we invite you to consider…

The Christian call to hard friendship in a national emergency. 100,000 Americans died from April 2020 to April 2021 due to opioids, according to numbers released this week from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The majority of the deaths have come via fentanyl, which accounted for more than 75 percent of all fatalities. Most of the time fentanyl has been used in combination with drugs like methamphetamine or cocaine. Who were those who lost their lives? According to The New York Times: The vast majority of these deaths, about 70 percent, were among men between the ages of…

As Erbil Christians finally get to govern themselves, Chaldean Catholic archbishop Bashar Warda explains to CT how ISIS freed Christians from the centuries-old understanding that they are second-class citizens. This week, the Christian enclave of Ankawa in Erbil, the capital city of Iraqi Kurdistan, was designated by the autonomous region’s prime minister as an official district with administrative autonomy. Starting next week, Christians will directly elect their own mayor and be in charge of security, among other matters. Prime Minister Masrour Barzani called Ankawa a home for “religious and social coexistence, and a place for peace.” Archbishop Bashar Warda, the…

An already/not yet psalm of unity. When Sandra McCracken and I sat down to write this song at The Porter’s Gate gathering in January 2019, I had no idea what it would mean to me in 2021. That gathering was a glorious pre-COVID-19 event, the kind I look back on now and wonder if we’ll ever do again. I sat at small tables with artists, songwriters, and theologians from all over the world. We had rich conversation and ate delicious food. The group was diverse—culturally, theologically, and generationally—but there was a beautiful spirit throughout, as if everyone was eager to…

Poor leaders proclaim Christ in word but deny him with their lives. Here’s what we can learn from their failures. For the past several years, we’ve watched over and over as famous pastor-teachers go through very public falls from enormous heights. Bill Hybels, founding pastor of Willow Creek, resigned in April 2018 after allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of power. James MacDonald, founding pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel, was fired in February 2019 for creating a culture of fear and intimidation and for enabling financial mismanagement. Carl Lentz, pastor of Hillsong East Coast, was let go in November 2020…

The Civil War pitted principles against community. A Christian vision ties them together again. This week, Robert E. Lee at long last retreated from Richmond. The statue of the Confederate general on Monument Avenue in Richmond was removed from its pedestal, as citizens of the city cheered from the streets. Watching the granite gray warhorse suspended in the air prompted me to think of a conversation I once had about whether a picture of Lee in a seminary dorm room should stay or go. A student had written to me to ask about a painting he had of Lee—I believe…

Though we use it sparingly, bereavement is a word most of us have heard—perhaps at least in the context of the bereavement leave that many workplaces grant. The word comes from the verb to reave, which means to forcibly deprive, to take captive, to plunder. And that is what happens in the experience of bereavement. In being bereaved, we are broken up, we are ravished. What we once had is lost, and we are invaded with grief. Jay Adams says that grief is “a life-shaking sorrow over loss. Grief tears life to shreds; it shakes one from top to bottom….

Both traditions are losing out to the unaffiliated. If there’s one overarching conclusion that comes from studying survey data of American religion over the last several decades, it is that fewer people identify with an established religious tradition every year. The ranks of religiously unaffiliated, also called the nones, have grown from just about 5 percent in the early 1970s to at least 30 percent in 2020. Religious demography is a zero-sum game. If one group grows larger that means that other groups must be shrinking in size. So that rise in the nones is bad news for churches, pretty…

The court sidestepped some of the major issues, but this is still a good day for religious liberty. This week the United States Supreme Court (SCOTUS) delivered an overwhelming ruling in favor of a Catholic foster care agency that may carry significant implications for the church, children, and families. In a surprising unanimous decision (9-0), the Court determined that the city of Philadelphia had erred in breaking a longstanding contract with Catholics Social Services (CSS) over their refusal to certify same-sex couples. The majority opinion was offered by Justice Roberts with three separate concurring opinions offered by Justices Barrett, Alito,…

As the US census charts a decade of dramatic changes, two congregations have lived it. Matt Friend is a proud native of Charleston, West Virginia. But the lead pastor of Bible Center Church will admit that the city has changed. “There’s definitely a lot less traffic now,” he said. His home city has the dubious distinction of being the fastest-shrinking city in the United States, according to the US Census. In 1960, Charleston had a population of 85,796. The city has gotten smaller every decade since and now has fewer than 50,000 people. Preliminary census data released in April suggests…

Quantifying the most vulnerable among us and choosing to not walk by. Over the past month, I have been burdened by what I’m hearing coming out of some Evangelical circles regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. While I can understand some reasons for vaccination hesitation, I am disturbed by others—some as extreme as the vaccination being the Mark of the Beast, but also just widespread disinformation posted online by evangelicals. Spreading false information is not just unhelpful, but, as far as I’m concerned, harmful. So, to be clear. I am an advocate for COVID-19 vaccinations. That’s why I’m grateful for voices like Dr….

By Jennifer Dukes Lee If I could lose my salvation, it would have happened the day a rogue pig showed up in our yard. My hands were wrist-deep in dishwater when I saw it out of the corner of my eye—a blur, a moving blob at first. And then I made out the figure as it scooted behind the shed, its pink rump shimmying in all its corpulent glory. This immediately caused alarm for three reasons. First, the pig was not ours, and it had clearly ventured far from home. Second, while I myself am a pig farmer’s wife, I…

“Life is hard, God is good.” — Alistair Begg What is my screen resolution? Click Below to Download your Image: Apple Devices: iPhones and iPod Touch iPads iPhone 11 Android Phones: Galaxy S Series, Edge, Nexus 5X, 6P, Google Pixel, Pixel XL, LG G5, Windows Phones Tablets: Amazon Fire Microsoft Surface Social Media: Facebook Header (Top Banner) Facebook and Blog Posts Twitter Instagram Computer Monitors: 1024 x 768 1280 x 800 1280 x 1024 1366 x 768 1440 x 900 1600 x 900 1920 x 1080 *List based on the top devices used on our website via our analytics.

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I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11 ESV) What is my screen resolution? Click Below to Download your Image: Apple Devices: iPhones and iPod Touch iPads iPhone 11 Android Phones: Galaxy S Series, Edge, Nexus 5X, 6P, Google Pixel, Pixel XL, LG G5, Windows Phones Tablets: Amazon Fire Microsoft Surface Social Media: Facebook Header (Top Banner) Facebook and Blog Posts Twitter Instagram Computer Monitors: 1024 x 768 1280 x 800 1280 x 1024 1366 x 768 1440 x 900 1600 x 900 1920 x 1080 *List based on the top…

This is the one-hundred-thirty-eighth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here. Most people who suffer something significant wonder whether there is any purpose in it. Our first responsibility to those who suffer is to show compassion and empathy, but there are answers to the question of redemption in suffering. 1. Suffering can lead to a renewal of faith (2 Cor. 1:9;…

from Alistair, Susan, and their grandchildren, Annabelle, Romy, Matilda, Leona, Ellerie, Maggie, and Niall And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ…

Beyond its exhilarating chess scenes, popular drama “The Queen’s Gambit” asks an important question: How much sacrifice is success worth?

Donald Trump is not without his international supporters. What is it about the U.S. president that earns the respect and approval of non-Americans?

Some see UFC mixed martial arts as a blueprint for other sports seeking to resume play. But others say it’s not following public health guidelines.