Seven Stanzas at Easter | John Updike


Christendom possesses an embarrassment of riches when it comes to poetry about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. One of my favorite modern poems is John Updike’s “Seven Stanzas at Easter,” which revels in the realism of Christ’s rising, opposing a merely spiritual or metaphorical depiction of that great event. Enjoy! ***** Make no mistake: if He rose at all it was as His body; if the cells’ dissolution did not reverse, the molecules reknit, the amino acids rekindle, the Church will fall.  It was not as the flowers, each soft Spring recurrent; it was not as His Spirit in the … Continue reading Seven Stanzas at Easter | John Updike

How to Read the Former Prophets for Preaching | Influence Podcast


“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” writes the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 3:16. While all Christians agree that Scripture is useful, we don’t often understand how to use it. Today, I’m starting a series of occasional podcasts designed to help pastors improve how they read Scripture so that they can preach Scripture better. I’m George P. Wood, executive editor of Influence magazine and your host. My guest today is Rick Wadholm Jr., associate professor of biblical and theological studies at Trinity Bible College and Graduate School in Ellendale, North Dakota. Rick received his PhD from … Continue reading How to Read the Former Prophets for Preaching | Influence Podcast

40 Days of Christmas | Book Review


Christmas doesn’t begin at my house until Thanksgiving is over. But once the turkey is digested, the tree goes up, Mariah Carey’s Christmas album gets played on endless loop (it’s that good!), and the countdown to December 25th begins. Literally. The kids have a chalkboard that says, “Santa comes to our house in _____ days.” (As of today, it’s 28 days, in case you’re wondering.) For my family, Christmas is a season, not just a day. Joseph Castleberry’s family and mine are evidently of like mind about the Christmas season. In his new book, 40 Days of Christmas, he provides … Continue reading 40 Days of Christmas | Book Review

‘Four Faces of a Leader’ by Bob Rhoden and Dean Merrill


The fall 2013 issue of Enrichment, the quarterly journal I edit, has an excerpt from Bob Rhoden and Dean Merrill’s new book, Four Faces of  Leader. Here are the opening paragraphs: How do you know if you are an effective Christian leader? If you are like most in ministry, you first check attendance. “How many are coming on Sunday morning?” “What’s my percentage of increase compared to last year?” Next, you look at your church’s financial record. “Are all the bills paid? Have we stayed on budget? Will the fiscal year end in the black?” What if I measured myself by standards … Continue reading ‘Four Faces of a Leader’ by Bob Rhoden and Dean Merrill

Jimmy Carter Calls Christians to Return to Jesus’ Moral Agenda on Prisoners


In general, I’m not a fan of Jimmy Carter. He was a mediocre president and a meddlesome ex-president. However, over the last two weeks, I spent time in Ph.D. classes with a correctional chaplain from South Carolina. She informed the class of the dehumanizing effects of incarceration and encouraged us with examples of how Christian ministry can rehumanize inmates. What she said helped me cut Jimmy Carter a little slack and pay attention to his remarks. Jesus’ moral agenda is summarized in Luke 4:18-19. Unfortunately, U.S. Christians in general and Baptists in particular have neglected it, especially the part about … Continue reading Jimmy Carter Calls Christians to Return to Jesus’ Moral Agenda on Prisoners

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 15, 2011


This summer, the General Council of the Assemblies of God will vote on a proposal to consolidate the three nationally owned schools in Springfield, Missouri: AG Theological Seminary, Central Bible College, and Evangel University. Dr. George O. Wood, who serves as AG general superintendent (and is my dad) outlines the proposal in the video below: Consolidation Proposal for Springfield Resident…, posted with vodpod More information on the proposed consolidation is available here. _____ In “Anthony Weiner and the National Adultery Ritual,” Kay Hymowitz writes: “Far from a vestige of American prudery, then, the National Adultery Ritual is best understood as … Continue reading The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 8, 2011


  “Are You Smarter Than Anthony Weiner?” I certainly hope so. But Russell D. Moore provides a timely reminder about temptation and self-deception: Almost every adultery situation I’ve ever seen includes a cheating spouse who honestly believes that he or she is not going to get caught. The cheater often doesn’t want the marriage to end in divorce. Instead, like the characters in today’s headlines, he or she instead wants to keep everything the same: spouse, kids, and lover too. That’s irrational and completely contrary to the way the world works. Anyone can see that. But you can convince yourself…or … Continue reading The World Wide (Religious) Web for Wednesday, June 8, 2011