Posts by Steven McCarthy

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A rift has formed in your relationship. Perhaps the chasm has been widening for years. Perhaps the plates shifted, as far as you could tell, like a sudden earth quake. How in that instance do you fulfill the requirement to, “if possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all”? (Rom...
The writings of French reformer, theologian, and pastor John Calvin are often remembered by the Latin phrase “brevitas et claritas”. Calvin wrote to be understood, and avoided using more words than would be helpful. To get to the point then, in English, the phrase means “brevity and clarity”...
December 25 is indelibly linked in most minds with celebrations of Jesus’ birth. What about March 25 (exactly nine months earlier)? That day has traditionally been associated with “the Annunciation”, the angel Gabriel’s announcement to a young Jewish woman that she would be the mother of her Lord...
Have you ever wanted a fresh start? Perhaps you fumbled in some area – a marriage, a parent-child relationship, a job – and you longed to reset. Or something happened to you that made you wish for a complete change of identity. The witness protection program no longer sounded inconvenient, but full...
People love lists, from the Billboard Top 20, to 9-things-you-should-know-about-this, to 16-reasons-you-should-never-do-that. Perhaps this is why churches sometimes seem to obsess over lists of “spiritual gifts” (abilities the Spirit works in people), even to the apparent neglect at the Giver, the...
We have all had moments in conversation when we did not understand someone, and anyone who reads the Bible comes across texts they do not initially comprehend. Sometimes a person or passage uses words that are simple enough, but we wonder, “what do you mean”? The best thing to do, it would seem, is...
Contemporary efforts to enrich public worship inevitably emphasize increased “congregational participation”. This may mean employing special music, or returning to set prayers in which congregation has a unison voice, but the desire is to move beyond a feeling of clerical monologue. Others blame...
John Calvin arrived in Geneva in June 1536. He intended to stay one night. Fleeing from persecution in his homeland of France, he planned to take up a scholar’s life in Strasbourg, but war forced him to take an unusual route that included the French-speaking city of Geneva. Calvin had no interest...
Baptism and the Lord’s Supper are signs of union (Rom 6:3-5) and communion (1Cor. 10:16) with Christ. As a result, they signify union (1Cor. 12:13) and communion among believers as members of Christ’s spiritual body (1Cor. 10:17). Yet these symbols of unity have often become points of deep division...
The name “Martin Luther” tends to conjure up solitary images. Whether he was pinning his 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg, making speeches before an Imperial court at Worms, or hiding out in Wartburg Castle translating the Bible, we often picture Luther alone. But then there are the...
I had been a professing believer for several years when I entered college, but I needed to learn holiness. As Christians, we always need to keep learning holiness, but it was a crying need for me at that point in my development. I needed to learn not just about it, of course, but how to live it –...
If you’ve been attending church, you have probably been encouraged to read your Bible devotionally, that is, privately, on a regular, daily basis. In your experience of the Bible, you’ve encountered statements like, “Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day,” and, “Blessed is the man...
So the pastor of the church you attend says the church is “confessional”. He explains that this means the church requires its ministers, and perhaps even members, to subscribe to a common doctrinal standard underneath the authority of Scripture. You might wonder, what does that matter? As long as...
Ministering in a small, rural town with over ten churches, all with relatively low attendance, I have often heard the question, “What makes your church different?” I have found this question difficult to answer, not because I couldn’t rattle off positions and practices that other churches in town...
During my first year of seminary, I took a required course titled “Spiritual Development”. Some question the inclusion of such a course in a program of formal theological study. After all, an academic course can not make someone spiritual by itself. What’s more, seminary is best suited to impart...
This week on Place for Truth the topic is Eschatology, or the study of Last Things (i.e., final, or ultimate, not least important things). For some, the mention of Eschatology conjures up memories of end times dramatizations, or elaborate charts for the sequence of future events, or heated debates...
This week on Place for Truth the topic is Eschatology, or the study of Last Things (i.e., final, or ultimate, not least important things). For some, the mention of Eschatology conjures up memories of end times dramatizations, or elaborate charts for the sequence of future events, or heated debates...
If you want to do something well, from running a company, to training for a marathon, to passing classes, keeping a house, raising kids, or cooking meals, it helps to have a system. Yet some of us have been told this our whole lives, and still resist doing things, "systematically". We prefer to "go...
If a worldview can be likened to a set of corrective lenses through which one sees life and the world around them, it's not hard to imagine why a proper worldview is important. If your perception of the world is inaccurate, you struggle to find your way, get dizzy, and bump into things. Holding a "...