Can You Help Me Listen to God?

By Allen Close      After thirty four years in ministry, I can still get asked questions that catch me off guard.  Recently, I was getting ready for a workout at CrossFit Staunton in Virginia when a woman asked me if I would baptize her four-year-old.  I’m pretty sure my face betrayed my concern since all […]

Responding to the Loving Voice of God

“If I disobey, God will burn me for it.”   That was more or less what my grandfather — a self-described “West Texas Gospel Preacher” in the Churches of Christ — said to me in the doorway of my parents’ home in my mid-twenties.  He had visited my parents’ house over the holidays to admonish us […]

Follow My Example

Josh’s StoryHe grew up in a suburban church – equipped in all the ways many other young Christians are equipped.  He learned the books of the Bible, the names of the apostles, the major stories and characters of the Bible.  Josh went to a Christian college where he majored in Bible.  He learned Greek.  He […]

Discerning the Presence and Calling of God

In my work and ministry with college students, their biggest questions are: Why am I here? How am I gifted? Where do I go next? What should I do with my life? Who am I? Most of us have the same questions — regardless of age or stage of life — and they are all […]

Cleaning Out the Clutter

I hadn’t ever thought about until recently, but, is it possible that living an uncluttered life is a spiritual discipline?  My maternal grandfather, “Father Bear,” was a hoarder. And when I say hoarder, yes he was just like the unimaginable type they film for cable TV — his house was beyond disgusting. Coming up through […]

Saved by faithfulness

I believe that we are saved by faith. I think the Bible makes that abundantly clear. What isn’t always clear to us modern readers is what the Bible means by the “faith.” What it doesn’t mean is intellectual assent. Static, lifeless belief. James makes that clear when he writes, “You believe that there is one […]

Poetry Column March 2021

This month the column commemorates the passion of our Lord Jesus. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split, and the tombs broke open…  ~ Matthew 27:51-52a Did the angelsThose sinew-armed strongmen of the agesSweat great drops of celestial self-control Did tears […]

Disciple Making is Neither a Clerical nor Gender Prerogative

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. Matthew 28:19-20a The imperative to “make disciples” is part of Jesus’s last words to his disciples in the Gospel […]

Taking Jesus Seriously

“Contrary to popular thinking that young people want it easy, many told us they love their church because their church inspires them to act.” —Powell, Mulder & Griffin, Growing Young, p. 143. After a decade of full-time ministry, one of the most consistent themes I’ve heard from parents (and grandparents) is their deep longing to […]

Purchasing the Gift of Grace

Purchasing the Gift of GraceDoes Man’s Obedience bring aboutthe Glorious Gift of God’s Grace?By Al Maxey I recently heard a young man make the following declaration in an online Bible discussion group when asked by one of the participants to state his belief as to how one obtains divine grace: “What brings grace? Obedience brings grace, […]

Is Salvation Earned by Obedience?

At the very outset of this study let me hasten to assure the reader that I am in no way suggesting that obedience is unimportant or that it has no place in our relationship with our God. One would have to be utterly ignorant of the contents of Scripture to affirm such a doctrine. A number of […]

The Place of Obedience

The Bible is full to calls for obedience. Jesus said in the Great commission that disciples are those who are baptized and taught to obey him (Matt 28:19). The sermon on the mount ends with an admonition to be obedient to Jesus’ teaching, “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into […]