NCC Blog


The Pope, ‘60 Minutes,’ and Looking for Hope in All the Wrong Places

By Stan Guthrie
May 23, 2024

Earlier this week on “60 Minutes,” journalist Norah O'Donnell interviewed Pope Francis on everything from surrogate parenting, to gay blessings, to the international migrant crisis. And, as usual, the spiritual head of the world’s 1.4-billion Roman Catholics sai...

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Our Basic Need

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
May 16, 2024

In her first novel, Wise Blood, Flannery O’Connor says of her character Hazel Motes that “there was a deep, black, wordless conviction in him that the way to avoid Jesus was to avoid sin.”   Maybe you’ve thought this way before. It’s ...

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Getting Going on Family Devotions

By Daniel Owens, PhD
May 10, 2024

Deuteronomy 6:4–9 4“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them dilige...

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Models of the Church

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
May 02, 2024

Editor's note: Earlier this week during the Apostles' Creed Sunday School Class, we learned about the phrase "the holy, catholic church." This article will shed even more light on this vital topic. When I was in seminary, Professor Rick Lints made a memorable statement. After le...

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I Believe in Heaven

By Stan Guthrie
April 25, 2024

I’ve noticed that lots of Christians these days seem to downplay the hope of heaven, as if the afterlife is an unworthy motive or somehow beneath us. Not me!  I agree that Jesus Christ is not only in the business of saving souls but also of renewing a fallen creation....

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The Tears of a Meteorologist

By Stan Guthrie
April 18, 2024

On a brilliantly cloudless April 8th, 2024, I spent some quality time with Pastor Chris viewing the eclipse from the safety and comfort of my backyard. While we did not experience totality here outside of Chicago, still, the sun became a crescent, then a sliver, as the moon slowl...

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When Leaders Lead, and When They Don’t

By Stan Guthrie
April 11, 2024

Despite the danger of running into the occasional internet troll, I like to post Christian stuff—quotes, verses, and thoughts—regularly on social media sites such as Facebook and X. I figure the more that the Word of God gets into the public square, and the more open ...

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Discipleship in the Psalms: The Darkness of Lament

By Daniel Owens, PhD
April 04, 2024

Sixth in a series. Psalm 13 To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.  1How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  2How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my ene...

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Hope in the Shadowlands

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
March 29, 2024

Having begun his professional life believing in the promise of communism, British journalist Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990) abandoned his utopian dream in the 1930s. Coming to Christ in 1969, he emerged as a cultural critic who saw groundless vanity in suggestions that human achi...

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What Kind of Triumph?

By Jeffrey Arthurs, PhD
March 21, 2024

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 (ESV) By the final week of Jesus’ life, he wa...

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Why We Need Lent

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
March 14, 2024

To fully experience the glory of Easter, we must first walk through the desert of Lent. That is why NCC has made Lent a special emphasis this month in the weeks leading up to Resurrection Sunday. In a recent Sunday school class, the church preempted our regularly scheduled teachi...

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Atheism, Miracles, and Richard Dawkins

By Stan Guthrie
March 07, 2024

Famed evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins has spent much of his public career attacking, mocking, and refuting the Christian faith. A leader in the small but influential group of “New Atheists" who gained notoriety after the 9/11 attacks, Dawkins is proud of his atheism....

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Discipleship in the Psalms: The Wonder of Creation

By Daniel Owens, PhD
March 01, 2024

Fifth in a series. Psalm 104 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, you are very great! You are clothed with splendor and majesty, 2covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent. 3He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters...

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A Protestant Reading of Fiducia Supplicans

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
February 22, 2024

Pope Francis’s declaration, “Fiducia Supplicans: On the Pastoral Meaning of Blessings,” a document that endorses the blessing of same-sex couples, represents the latest controversy to roil the Roman church. Like most controversies, it has generated a host of int...

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Discovering the Freedom of Lent

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
February 15, 2024

This coming Sunday is the first Sunday of Lent. For many, Lent may seem like an empty ritual. But Aaron Damiani, author of The Good of Giving Up: Discovering the Freedom of Lent, begs to differ. I have known Aaron since our college days, when we were classmates studying th...

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Discipleship in the Psalms: Among Evil People

By Daniel Owens, PhD
February 08, 2024

Fourth in a series. As a kid, I loved baseball and basketball. But by the end of my eighth-grade year, my interest in ball sports waned, and I suspect that my sanctification may be stunted because of it. I was tired of the scene—coaches who smoked, players who talked trash...

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The Crux of Gospel Preaching

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
February 01, 2024

The acclaimed Italian operatic tenor Luciano Pavarotti was a nervous wreck before every performance. Perhaps this would be the day that he would finally fail? Backstage, before mounting the platform, Pavarotti would routinely breathe the words, “I go to die.”  T...

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A New You for the New Year

By Stan Guthrie
January 26, 2024

After the Second World War, Corrie ten Boom was speaking to a church audience about the need to forgive after her experience of being imprisoned for her efforts in protecting Jewish people from the Nazis. After her remarks, as the church was emptying, Corrie was stunned when a ma...

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Why Read Peter Martyr Vermigli?

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
January 18, 2024

Confronted by the persecution, force, and cruelty of this world, Peter Martyr Vermigli (1499–1562, pronounced Vayr-MEEL-yee) urged Christians to recognize two realities: their identity in Christ and the sure hope of one day seeing God face to face. This, he contends, is &ld...

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Ten Biblical Thoughts on Our New Year’s Resolutions

By Stan Guthrie
January 11, 2024

Of the making of many New Year’s resolutions seemingly there is no end, but with 2024 now upon us, I’d like to offer some scriptural encouragement if you want to plunge in anyway. A resolution, at minimum, points to a desire to improve an area of one’s life or a...

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Discipleship in the Psalms: Facing Enemies

By Daniel Owens, PhD
January 04, 2024

Third in a series.   Psalm 3 (ESV) A Psalm of David, when he fled from Absalom his son.    1 O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;  2 many are saying of my soul, “There is no salvation for him in God.” Selah ...

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Simeon and Anna

By Stan Guthrie
December 28, 2023

Third in a series. Forty days after Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary have long since left Bethlehem’s manger and are trekking to Jerusalem to dedicate their first-born son to the Lord, as the Law requires (Lev. 12:3-4). The angels’ messages to Zechariah, Mary, Jos...

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Born in Bethlehem

By Stan Guthrie
December 21, 2023

Second in a series. During the prophetic ministry of Micah, around 700 B.C., tiny Judah was being threatened by the snarling and resurgent Assyrian empire. Israel, the Northern Kingdom, was already on Assyria’s chopping block. Was Judah next for King Sennacherib? The natio...

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The Virgin Birth of God

By Stan Guthrie
December 14, 2023

Joseph, a carpenter living in a forgotten backwater called Nazareth, is looking forward to spending his life with Mary and raising a family with her. Until the wedding day, she is betrothed to him. The days pass quickly and joyfully as the wedding approaches. Then one day Mary ...

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Hope in the Darkness

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
December 07, 2023

As a teenager working in the mall during Christmas, I was the guy who ran products from the warehouse to the store clerks. This cavernous stockroom was 6,000 square feet and filled wall-to-wall with boxes. On one occasion, I found myself in the back of the windowless warehouse o...

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Suffering: When ‘What If?’ Becomes ‘Why Me?’

By Stan Guthrie
November 30, 2023

Like lots of people, I’ve had no shortage of challenges and heartaches in my life, including disability, the sudden loss of my father, various family disappointments, and some severe career setbacks. Once, when grieving a broken relationship, I turned to a trusted older rel...

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Discipleship in the Psalms: Submitting to the Human King

By Daniel Owens, PhD
November 22, 2023

Second in a series. If we had only Psalm 1, we might be forgiven for saying that discipleship is about individuals learning God’s word and obeying it. However, Psalm 2 destroys any small, intimate picture of discipleship that an individualistic Westerner may have. Instead ...

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Discipleship on the Way: Insights from the Psalms

By Daniel Owens, PhD
November 17, 2023

First in a Series. When we think of being a disciple, our thoughts may first drift to Peter, John, Mary, and Martha. And certainly we should draw from the teaching of Jesus in the Gospels. While the early disciples’ and Jesus’ own words are indispensable sources, t...

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Celebrate and Beware of ‘Church Tradition’: A Lesson from 16th-Century Italy

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
November 08, 2023

I once visited a friend’s Plymouth Brethren assembly. On the marquee outside it said, “No creed but the Bible.” Upon entering, however, I was handed a monthly newsletter featuring a quotation from their founder, John Nelson Darby. It publicized Sunday school a...

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The Rhythms of the World

By Stan Guthrie
November 02, 2023

I have a love-hate relationship with autumn—at least as we experience it here in the Midwest.  On the one hand, I love the early fall colors: the reds, oranges, pinks, yellows, and greens. I love apple-picking, pumpkin patches, cooler temperatures, low humidity, open ...

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Clowns for Christ: The Joy of Realizing You’re Not a Lion Tamer

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
October 26, 2023

When I was about three, I saw a time-accelerated film sequence on television featuring a clown applying his makeup. The clip started with a normal man who in seconds was transformed into a creepy monster with a malevolent smile and a red nose. It sent me running into the kitchen ...

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Three Threats to Our Earthly Treasures

By Stan Guthrie
October 19, 2023

We all have a supreme treasure. It’s something that means more to us than anything else. And if we choose the wrong kind of treasure, we will lose it all. In fact, it’s guaranteed. In last Sunday’s sermon, “Getting a Generous Focus on the Master&rsq...

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Belonging in Action

By Daniel Owens, PhD
October 12, 2023

If Sundays are for worship and rest, Mondays and the rest of the week are for action. On Sunday morning Pastor Chris preached on the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew 6 and called us to press into our vision for this year, which is expressed in the theme of Belonging.  As you ...

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Friendship, Loneliness, and Belonging

By Stan Guthrie
October 05, 2023

In J.R.R. Tolkien’s magnificent book, The Fellowship of the Ring, readers encounter all sorts of marvels: Ringwraiths, elves, hobbits, dwarves, a wizard, and the One Ring, which, when heated in the fire, displays the chilling inscription: One Ring to rule them all, One ...

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When Down Is Up: The Counterintuitive Direction of God’s Blessing

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
September 28, 2023

The days before I knew Christ as Savior were memorable, to say the least. A near miss with death got me on the road, but the twists and turns were sometimes perplexing. Not comforted by the Catholic religiosity with which I grew up, I tried Transcendental Meditation under the Mah...

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Belonging: A Critical Need in Challenging Times

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
September 21, 2023

As we discussed during Sunday evening’s Community Chat & Chili, and in light of the prevalent issues of loneliness, alienation, and despair in society, NCC’s leaders have discerned a pressing need to reemphasize God’s gift of “Belonging.” In a wo...

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Stepping Forward and Saying “Yes”

By Stan Guthrie
September 14, 2023

Ernest Gordon was a Scottish POW in the Second World War who was forced by his Japanese captors to help construct the Burma-Siam Railway. An estimated 393 prisoners died for every mile of track that was laid. It wasn’t just the harsh jungle conditions and disease that to...

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The Incomparable Impact of Jesus

By Stan Guthrie
September 07, 2023

Lists of history’s most influential people are as common as dirt and vary widely. For some, Muhammad has had the most impact. For others, it’s Martin Luther King Jr. or Aristotle. But no such list can be considered credible if it does not have Jesus at or near the t...

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The Upside Down Kingdom: Why We Need This Book

By Stan Guthrie
August 31, 2023

On July 18, Crossway published Pastor Chris’s latest book, The Upside Down Kingdom: Wisdom for Life from the Beatitudes. He first preached on the subject two years ago and used it in the discipleship of men at NCC. Then, with a lot of blood, sweat, prayers, and tears, he t...

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Plants, Farmers, and Discipleship

By Daniel Owens, PhD
August 24, 2023

Have you ever noticed how many people names come from plant names? Rose, Daisy, Violet, and … Heather, to name just a few. We often name baby girls after flowers because of their beauty. But plant names are not only for girls and not only from flowers. Think of Oliver T...

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The First Thing You Notice

By Daniel Owens, PhD
August 17, 2023

In 2002 Heather and I visited Indonesia. As I was walking around with one of our missionary friends, I snapped a quick picture of the neighborhood rooster. Laughing, the missionary said, “This is obviously your first trip to Indonesia!” It’s true. When we arr...

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Dogs, Babies, and Other Thoughts

By Stan Guthrie
August 10, 2023

I love to sip my morning coffee and watch the pedestrian traffic outside my kitchen window. More often than not I see my neighbors walking their dogs or pushing a baby stroller. I enjoy their youthful energy and will sometimes offer up a prayer for them as they go on their way. ...

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Introducing Sound of Majesty … Again

By Greg Wheatley
August 03, 2023

Sing to the LORD a new song; Sing to the LORD, all the earth. Psalm 96:1 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Col...

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Stars Brightly Shining

By Stan Guthrie
July 27, 2023

“Operas seem to like stars,” Pastor Chris mentioned in his sermon on Sunday—and he wasn’t talking about Luciano Pavarotti or Maria Callas. He was, instead, pointing to operatic works such as Puccini’s Turandot and Tosca. In the latter, the aria &ld...

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Seeking Beauty, Finding Christ

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
July 19, 2023

Dissatisfaction with Protestant Christian faith is common in the uneasy America of 2023. The numbers of religious “nones”—those among our neighbors who identify with no faith in particular—have skyrocketed from basically zero in the middle of the 20th cent...

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Tears of Grief and Joy

By Stan Guthrie
July 13, 2023

William Hade Swindal, my grandfather on my mother’s side, died of a stroke after a relatively short life of arduous work. He was 68. We kids were called into our parents’ bedroom and quietly told about Granddaddy. My older sister, Gina, and younger brother, Mike, soon...

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Introducing Our New Preaching Series: The Upside Down Kingdom

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
July 06, 2023

This Sunday we begin a new preaching series titled “The Upside Down Kingdom,” an examination of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Our uniquely penetrating text digs beneath the surface, exposing what Christ says we really need to value and practice. The ...

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Bringing the House Down: Contarini and Regensburg (Part 2 of 2)

June 29, 2023
Part 2 of 2 Last week’s blog post told of the evangelical experience of Roman Catholic Cardinal Gasparo Contarini (1483-1542), who became a champion of evangelical renewal in Italy during the Reformation. Contarini played a key role in a theological conference at Regensbur...

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Catholic or Protestant? The Story of Contarini and the Reformation (Part 1 of 2)

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
June 21, 2023

Part 1 of 2 What is the fundamental difference between Roman Catholic and evangelical Protestant faith? The story of Cardinal Gasparo Contarini at Regensburg illustrates the answer. Trained in philosophy at the University of Padua, Contarini (1483-1542) became a champion of e...

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Signs of the Times: Recommended Reading (and Listening)

By Stan Guthrie
June 15, 2023

“We must hold the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” This statement, reputed to come from the 20th century theologian Karl Barth, points to an obvious but oft-overlooked truth: We must apply our understanding of God and His Word to a world in desperate...

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A Simple Way to Share the Good News

By Stan Guthrie
June 09, 2023

Lots of Christians want to share the gospel but don’t know how to get started. If that describes you, below is a basic gospel outline. The explanations of the points are not to read aloud to the person with whom you are sharing but to sharpen your thinking. The key is not t...

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Figuring Out God’s Story

By Stan Guthrie
June 01, 2023

Last year, Dr. Jerry Root preached a great sermon from the NCC pulpit entitled “All Scripture Is Inspired by God.” In it, Jerry challenged us to read the Bible daily if we weren’t already doing so, pointing out that this discipline is very doable, and very rewar...

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Nine Christian Books on Suffering

By Stan Guthrie
May 25, 2023

Last Sunday’s message by Dr. Harry Shields, A Second Look at Those Terrible Trials, touched on a perennial and deeply personal issue: suffering. To help you think more deeply about it—especially if you are in the middle of a trial right now—I have compiled a lis...

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How Italy’s Forgotten Reformation Speaks to Us

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
May 19, 2023

In last week’s blog, we saw that small groups played a significant role in gospel renewal during the Reformation in southern Europe. This week let’s take a closer look at the Reformation in Italy, the seat of Roman Catholicism, and how its lessons apply to us. Italy ...

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The Italian Reformation’s Legacy of Small Groups

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
May 11, 2023

Did you know that we American evangelicals did not invent the small group Bible study? Small groups played a significant role in gospel renewal during the Reformation in southern Europe. At least until the Inquisition in 1542, the movement was stimulated by numerous factors, inc...

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Divine Beauty: An Unnecessary Gift

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
May 04, 2023

Now that the warmth, colorful flowers, and blue sky of springtime have (after much delay) started to return to Chicagoland, I find myself reflecting on the beauty of God’s creation, and on the question: Are God and the beauty that we encounter in this life related? Grandso...

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Nine Books for When You Doubt

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
April 26, 2023

During Dr. Michael Rydelnik’s outstanding sermon, Dealing with Doubt, he said that one way we can respond when doubts arise is to go back to the evidence. He said that his own studies into the messianic prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures have steadied his faith. I wholehe...

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Staring at Death, Trusting in Grace

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
April 19, 2023

When I visited baby Iris, I was greeted by her daddy, a young man whose wedding I had officiated. He escorted me to the incubator and asked, “Would you like to see our beautiful daughter?” I must confess that seeing this stillborn child was almost too much to bear. A...

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Manifesting Christ in and Through the Church

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
April 13, 2023

Nearly six years ago, Barnabas Piper, son of famous pastor and author John Piper, was searching for a new church. But Barnabas, a few months after a painful divorce was, in his own words, “spiritually exhausted and emotionally discouraged, uncertain of my future and uncomfo...

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Experiencing the Resurrection

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
April 06, 2023

“Christ the Lord is risen!” Christians down through the ages have affirmed during Easter. “He has risen indeed.” But we are called not simply to believe this greatest of great truths. We are called to live by it. As men, women, and young people’s wh...

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What Is Palm Sunday for?

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
March 30, 2023

We Christians certainly know what Easter is all about—the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. And by now we probably have a good idea of the purpose of Lent—to prepare our hearts for Resurrection Sunday by reminding us of our sin and need for a Savior. But wh...

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Persevering with the Presence of Christ

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
March 23, 2023

Have you ever felt that the Christian life is just too difficult? Have the “results” from your hard work, prayer, and obedience been meager to nonexistent? Have friends and loved ones resisted your every effort to share the hope of the gospel? Do your grinding circums...

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Lent and the King of Terrors

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
March 16, 2023

Lent, the forty-day period before Easter and the Resurrection of our Lord, is a necessary reminder of our mortality. The cross-shaped ashes that adherents of some Christian traditions apply to their foreheads tell us the inescapable biblical truth that we are dust, and to dust we...

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Discovering the Freedom of Lent

By Chris Castaldo, PhD
March 09, 2023

Interview by Chris Castaldo For many, Lent may seem like an empty ritual. But Aaron Damiani, author of The Good of Giving Up: Discovering the Freedom of Lent, begs to differ. I have known Aaron since our college days, when we were classmates studying theology. Back then, h...

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The Glory of Lent

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
March 02, 2023

February, which is usually gloomy and gray in the Midwest, can afflict the human soul. And just when life feels most painfully frozen and dark, we enter Lent, a church season full of somber, remorseful, even morbid introspection. How terribly depressing. It’s a shame that ...

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Five Marks of Gospel Renewal

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
February 23, 2023

In light of what’s happening at Asbury University, let’s continue to pray for gospel renewal in our hearts, in the nation, and around the world. J.I. Packer, writing in God in our Midst: Seeking and Receiving Ongoing Revival (Authentic Publishing, 1987, 24-3...

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Building Your Family by Example: J.C. Ryle on Christian Parenting

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
February 16, 2023

Evangelical in his doctrine and steadfast in his convictions, J. C. Ryle (1816-1900) was a prolific writer and faithful pastor. In 1880 he became the first Bishop of Liverpool at the age of 64. Regarded as the leader of the Evangelical group in the Church of England, he was noted...

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Favorite Christian Books on Parenting and the Family

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
February 09, 2023

Last Sunday, I was privileged (and challenged) to preach a message from Ephesians 6:1-4. My sermon’s title, “Disciplines of a Godly Family,” echoed a great book on Christian parenting by a former pastor/mentor and his wife. As I thought about what I should post ...

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Holy Ground: An Interview with Chris Castaldo

By Stan Guthrie
February 02, 2023

A conversation about Catholics and evangelicals—agreeing to disagree, agreeably. Interview by Stan Guthrie Relations between evangelicals and Catholics have become richer and more nuanced in recent years. Groups such as Evangelicals and Catholics Together emphasize comm...

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The Silver Mission Field

By Stan Guthrie
January 27, 2023

It was impossible to tell how old this woman was—she had barely said a word since being moved into the senior rehabilitation center a few days before—but when her dentures were out, she looked a lot older. She died on Saturday, despite the best efforts of her caregive...

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Fifty Years after Roe, the Job Isn’t Done

By Stan Guthrie
January 20, 2023

Ever since C. Everett Koop and Francis Schaeffer pricked our consciences, abortion has been on the front burner for socially minded evangelicals. Fifty years since Roe v. Wade, it’s time to ask whether it should remain there. Claiming to represent the new center, an increa...

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Thor Faces Mortality

By Stan Guthrie
January 12, 2023

Early in his film career, Chris Hemsworth showed himself to be an up and coming star, with notable roles in the Star Trek reboot, the Red Dawn remake, and Snow White and the Huntsman, a retelling of the classic fairy tale. But the Australian’s notoriety hit Hollywood Valhal...

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We Need Renewal

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
January 05, 2023

There is one thing on which most Christians today agree–we need genuine renewal. Faced with rising violence, economic recession, and a growing sense of despair, we recognize that our fundamental challenge is not political or social; it is spiritual. And because such challen...

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The New Year Journey

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
December 30, 2022

How shall we proceed into the New Year? Timothy Jones, the author of A Place for God, provides helpful insight. In the following excerpt, he describes the radical commitment of early Celtic saints who embarked on a life of missionary service without worldly as...

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Looking For Christmas

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
December 22, 2022

In American culture, the weeks of Advent are teeming with parties, shopping, family gatherings, and the like. Men and women often work overtime to earn a little extra money to afford gifts. And when we finally drop into a chair to enjoy a moment of relaxation, the telev...

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The Unexpected Joy of Advent

By Chris Castaldo
December 15, 2022

Joy emerges often when it’s least expected: when a soldier returns from active duty, surprising his children in the first light of morning; when an unexpected fragrance greets our senses, an aroma of happier years; or when we read Scripture and find a divine promise that le...

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The Texture of Advent

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
December 08, 2022

It was among the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. Following an exposition of Matthew 2 in which I explained the typological significance of Jesus’ flight to Egypt against the background of salvation history, an older member of the congregation put his arm aro...

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Drew Barrymore and the Unlikely Pursuit of Sexual Purity

By Stan Guthrie
December 01, 2022

Many of us probably became aware of actress Drew Barrymore when she played Gertie, the little girl in Stephen Spielberg’s 1982 blockbuster, E.T. the Extraterrestrial. In many ways, Drew’s life has been an otherworldly jaunt into Hollywood fame, fortune, and folly. And...

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Looking for God in All the Wrong Places

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
November 26, 2022

Our Advent series for the season centers on “Longing.” All people have longings—even Christians. This is especially true during Advent when we consider the One in whom “the hopes and fears of all the years” have converged. Such personal longings take...

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Why Thanksgiving Matters

By Stan Guthrie
November 24, 2022

One day Jesus encountered thanklessness while traversing what Puritan commentator Matthew Henry calls "the frontier-country, the marches that lay between Samaria and Galilee." The story is found in Luke 17. For more of this lesson on hope and thanksgiving read the full stor...

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The Gospel according to La Bohème

By Chris Castaldo
November 17, 2022

You’ll probably not be surprised to hear that I have a particular passion for Italian art and artists, even though I make no claim to being an expert in such things. But as my pinky ring is my witness, I know what I like! One of my very favorite Italian works is La Boh&egra...

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How to Conquer an Empire without Even Trying

By Chris Castaldo
November 11, 2022

Caesarea, a major city of the Roman Empire, had recently been afflicted by famine and war. When the plague hit in the early fourth century, the already-weakened people living there were devastated. Men and women began fleeing for safety in the countryside.1 However, at least...

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Clustering, Extremism, and the Church of God

By Stan Guthrie
November 03, 2022

A few weeks ago, Christine and I drove up to Wheaton College to hear a speech by David French, a well-known author and columnist. French is an evangelical from Tennessee who made a name for himself in past years by litigating against speech codes that threatened free speech and r...

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Do We Still Need the Reformation?

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
October 27, 2022

With Reformation Day again upon us this Sunday, now is a good time to ask the oft-repeated question: Do we still need the Reformation? Central to the Reformation was the fact that God places us before His unbroken gaze. We who were once separated from Christ—strangers to t...

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Living in the Battlefield

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
October 20, 2022

“God has called us not to a playground, but to a battlefield.” My friend Scott Mackenzie of Edinburgh stated this while we were in Bible college. Even though we were young and untested in spiritual combat, his words rang true then, and they resonate even more today. ...

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The Kingdom Has a Speed

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
October 17, 2022

The kingdom has a speed. Some have called it a “spiritual speed.” It’s a different speed from the frantic pace we generally maintain in our technological world. It is, if you will, three miles per hour—the speed we walk, the speed at which Jesus walked, an...

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A Man on a Mission:

By Stan Guthrie
October 08, 2022

Review of Doug Yeo’s book, Homer Rodeheaver and the Rise of the Gospel Music Industry Chances are you’ve never heard of Homer Rodeheaver (I hadn’t), but if you care about the development of gospel music over the last century, you’ll want a copy of Ho...

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What Everyone Wants

By Pastor Chris Castaldo
September 29, 2022

After twenty years of pastoral ministry, I’m beginning to see a common thread in all human desires. It’s not so much the accumulation of wealth, the pursuit of pleasure, or the accolades of achievement. It goes far deeper, into the impulses of the heart. We all want h...

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An Email to Dennis Prager

By Stan Guthrie
September 23, 2022

I sent the following email five years ago to Dennis Prager, the insightful Jewish radio talk show host. Though I never heard back, I’m praying that one day the biblical truths in this letter will sink in. Dennis, I was able to listen with interest to part of today’s...

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Life, the Multiverse, and Everything

By Stan Guthrie
September 16, 2022

Alan Lightman, host of the upcoming PBS miniseries, Searching: Our Quest for Meaning in the Age of Science, is on the horns of a dilemma. On the one hand, the MIT professor, like most people, wants to live a life of purpose and significance. On the other, like many (but by no mea...

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Sam Harris and the End of Atheism

By Stan Guthrie
August 26, 2022

Sam Harris has been described as one of the “Four Horsemen of Atheism”—along with Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Daniel Dennett. Harris, author of the influential book The End of Faith, has gone toe-to-toe with prominent Christian heavyweights such a...

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Terrifying Beauty

By Stan Guthrie
August 13, 2022

When you go on vacation, you expect to experience a lot of things—fun, rest, exhaustion, togetherness, delight, surprises, and so on. You don’t expect to feel afraid—or at least I didn’t. Then I went to Colorado. I don’t mean the kind of fear I felt...

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Bible Reading: Profitable and Doable

By Stan Guthrie
July 20, 2022

On Sunday morning, I knew I was in trouble when Dr. Jerry Root, our guest preacher, mentioned in his sermon that one of his mentors had read through the Bible at least two hundred times and was still getting fresh spiritual insights. I won’t tell you how many time...

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David, Goliath, and Us

By Stan Guthrie
June 28, 2022

Everyone thinks they know the story of David and Goliath. I know I did. I was wrong. For those of you who slept through children’s Sunday school, let me briefly recap the particulars of this iconic story from 1 Samuel 17. Saul was king in Israel. The pagan Philistines were...

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Signs of God’s Grace: A Father's Day Meditation

By Stan Guthrie
June 19, 2022

It is often true that people form their views of God by looking at their fathers. If our earthly father is thoughtful and kind, we tend to see our Heavenly Father that way. If our dad is angry or uncaring, however, our picture of God can easily become marred with black streaks th...

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A Time for Lament

By Chris Castaldo
May 26, 2022

By now we have heard the horrifying details. Yesterday afternoon, an 18-year-old gunman barricaded himself inside a fourth-grade classroom in Uvalde, Texas, and opened fire, killing 19 children and two adults, before being killed by law enforcement. This is just the latest mass s...

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God’s Bucket List for You

By Stan Guthrie
May 02, 2022

The concept of “kicking the bucket” has been around for a while, though its provenance is uncertain. Some believe it refers to the act of putting a noose around one’s neck, standing on a bucket, and then kicking the bucket away, causing death by hanging. Others ...

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This is the Day

By Stan Guthrie
March 14, 2022

This Is the Day Stan Guthrie  Far too many of God’s people wake up with frowns. Their glasses half-empty, they can always find, like grim meteorologists, the dark cloud overshadowing every silver lining. “Sad hearts have peculiar skill in discovering the mos...

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The Glory of Lent

By Chris Castaldo
March 02, 2022

The Glory of Lent by: Pastor Chris Castaldo The gloomy and grey spell of February afflicts the human soul. And just then, when life feels most painfully frozen and dark, we enter the period of Lent, a church season full of somber, remorseful, even morbid introspection. How terr...

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Calvin on Lent and Ministry among Catholics

By Chris Castaldo
February 23, 2022

The life and ministry of John Calvin provides insight into a range of ministry related issues—from biblical exegesis to training pastors to the effect of preaching upon civil government. But what, if anything, does Calvin teach us about ministry among Roman Catholics? It tu...

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Do the Super Bowl and the Olympics Really Matter?

By Stan Guthrie
February 07, 2022

Do the Super Bowl and the Olympics Really Matter?    Stan Guthrie  Chicago sports fans have tasted the thrill of victory, especially recently. The Cubs (2016), White Sox (2005), Blackhawks (2010, 2013, 2015), Bulls (1991-1993, 1996-1998), and Bears (1985) have...

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The Hope of Heaven

By Stan Guthrie
January 21, 2022

The Hope of Heaven By Stan Guthrie  I’ve noticed that lots of Christians these days seem to downplay the hope of heaven, focusing on the earthly benefits and responsibilities of the faith, as if the afterlife is an unworthy motive or somehow beneath us. Not me! ...

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Why Idolatry Remains a Serious Issue

By Chris Castaldo
July 28, 2021

Some of us would never consider our need for a spiritual awakening, for gospel renewal, for an experience of revival. But often, as we’re going along in our merry, mundane way, the Lord mercifully shocks us out of our lukewarm existence: “Then he said, “Do&...

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The Great Commission on Display

By Geneva Wright
June 21, 2021

How vast and beautiful are the plans of God! Across ages and continents, He has always been at work: redeeming His people, healing divisions, and drawing His diverse church together in the unity of worship. This truth was unexpectedly illustrated to me the summer before my ju...

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From Sickness to Resurrection Hope

By Geneva Wright
April 27, 2021

Sickness has always been a harsh but effective illustration of spiritual truth for me. It’s a reminder of how we human beings are frail creatures, easily knocked down by circumstances outside our control. When I am sick, I cannot simply will myself well. I can try and co...

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Practicing What We Pray

By Stan Guthrie
April 08, 2021

When it comes to sharing the gospel, many of us pray—a lot. We know that if God doesn’t open the sinful human heart to the gospel, then it will remain closed as tightly as a clam. As J.I. Packer has said, “The prayer of a Christian is not an attempt to force ...

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Remembering Our Dragon Skin

By Geneva Wright
March 12, 2021

It was around mid-January of 2020, back before my kitchen table became my full-time workspace. I was working at a real desk in my office, where the nonprofit organization that I work for coordinates a big annual conference in Poland. My co-worker stopped by to chat and mentio...

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The Night I Saw Billy Graham

By Stan Guthrie
February 16, 2021

I used to work at Wheaton College’s famous Billy Graham Center. In my three years there, I never had the opportunity to see the renowned preacher in the flesh—except once. Rev. Graham and his team had scheduled a June crusade at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis, and I ...

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Persuasive Christian Parenting: A Q&A with Mike D’Virgilio

By Chris Castaldo
February 05, 2021

Mike and Sarah D’Virgilio used to attend NCC before they moved to Florida nearly three and a half years ago. Mike has written a terrific book on how to equip our children for cultural apologetics—how to think and engage ideas of the day from a Christian perspe...

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Finding Rest

By Angela Walters
February 02, 2021

The heart of Jesus to seek, to embrace, and to forgive never ceases to astonish me. I work as a digital marketer, which means being on social media is part of my job. It’s by far the hardest part. I spend my days launching, monitoring, and measuring campaigns. In ...

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Deeper Dimensions of Relational Intimacy: An Interview with Kelly Flanagan

By Chris Castaldo
January 21, 2021

As a pastor, I commonly encounter individuals and couples who desire deeper relationships, particularly with those who are closest to them. There are, of course, many challenges that stand in the way of such closeness, not least of which are our own selfish tendencies. Identifyin...

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Four New Year’s Resolutions for the Church in 2021

By Geneva Wright
January 05, 2021

During 2020, a year that, for many of us, was the most stressful and painful we’ve yet experienced, our nation has been shaken by disease, political tension, and social upheaval. If we wish 2021 to be different, with God’s help, we must work to make it better. With th...

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Surprised by Joy in the New Year

By Chris Castaldo
December 29, 2020

A few years ago. my phone bonged while I was driving to the office. Evidently, when there is an important national news story, my phone departs from the normal vibrate mode and lets out a big bong. In this case, it was a new study showing that many Americans were entering the new...

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A Frank Sinatra Christmas

By Stan Guthrie
December 22, 2020

At the dinner table during Advent about ten years ago, we were discussing the secularization of Christmas. My “indescribably beautiful” (and intelligent) wife suggested we should have two celebrations: a “winter holiday” for the masses who are more into Sa...

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This Is How Hope Wins

By Angela Walters
December 15, 2020

I had a birthday recently. Not a milestone or anything, just another passing year. Yet this birthday was significant in that not only did it bring with it the usual end-of-year introspection, it represented the close of the year when Covid-19 changed everything. I’m one of...

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Living in the “Now and Not Yet” of Advent 2020

By Geneva Wright
December 08, 2020

Why exactly do we celebrate Advent? For many people, the season exists mainly to mark off the days until Christmas. In 21st century America, this lead-up period is almost as much fun as the holiday itself: buying presents, decorating a tree, eating Christmas cookies, and gat...

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Hoping Against Hope

By Chris Castaldo
December 01, 2020

The great English journalist and satirist Malcolm Muggeridge, reflecting on forms of despair in the 20th century—particularly among proponents of Stalin in Russia and Western nihilists devoted to materialism and abortion—said modern man has a “suicidal impulse,&...

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Gratitude for Everyday Miracles

By Stan Guthrie
November 24, 2020

Miracles happen every single day in our universe, and you don’t have to be a Christian to believe in them—and to be thankful. Ponder the planet on which you live and move and have your being. It is situated at a “just right” distance from a slow-burn...

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When Your World Crumbles

By Abby Robert
November 20, 2020

I lost a lot of confidence this year. I lost confidence when my plans for the year were canceled. I lost confidence when a family member passed away due to COVID-19. I lost confidence in our country’s unity. I lost confidence in my college decisions. Others have lost substa...

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The Comfort of God's Sovereign Rule

By Geneva Wright
November 03, 2020

This week, America comes to the end of a grueling election campaign. The process has never felt longer, nor the stakes higher. Victory for one side of the political aisle could stoke hatred and anger on the other, and after a year filled with one conflict and disaster after anoth...

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This Political Moment

By Chris Castaldo
October 29, 2020

Last month I was in Grand Rapids performing the funeral of a young father. It was a heart-wrenching service that led me to ponder how the fears and angst of this moment relate to the presence of Christ’s kingdom. In God’s gracious providence, Ryan—a friend and t...

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My Encounter with Christopher Hitchens

By Stan Guthrie
October 20, 2020

Hundreds of Christians and atheists were pouring into the ballroom in Dallas, all eager to hear well-known “anti-theist” pundit Christopher Hitchens debate four prominent Christian apologists on the theme, “Does the God of Christianity Exist, and What Difference...

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When Evangelism Seems Impossible

By Abby Robert
October 13, 2020

In 2020, introducing yourself as a “Christian” may put you at a disadvantage in sharing the gospel. Why? Christians do not have the best reputation. My peers (I am a senior in high school ) view Christians as the crusaders who were sent to kill in the Middle Eas...

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Singleness and Identity in Christ

By Geneva Wright
September 29, 2020

When I was a child, I only wanted one thing for my future: to be married. This was the late 1990s and early 2000s, and I was being raised in a traditional church during the height of the “purity culture” movement. Like many of my counterparts, I eagerly consumed Disn...

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Give Them Jesus

By Chris Castaldo
September 22, 2020

EDITOR’S NOTE: As we settle into the new school year with some of us educating our children at home for the first time, we are republishing Pastor Chris’ excellent interview with author, Dillon Thornton entitled, “Give Them Jesus.” We believe the insights ...

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Relationship and Meaning

By Stan Guthrie
September 15, 2020

My birth on August 1, 1961, two months early, did not go well. Only three pounds and 11 ounces, I beat the odds and survived. But for the rest of my life I would carry the burden of cerebral palsy. Through the years I have often asked “Why?” and it was hard not to fe...

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Who Are You?

By Chris Castaldo
September 09, 2020

“Who are you?” This question seems simple enough, but the answer is hopelessly entangled with our life experiences. If we happen to be singing on a mountaintop, for example, our self-understanding is backlit by a joyful radiance. But if we’re languishing in a v...

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