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God’s Theatre

The post below is from a journal entry of sorts which I wrote during our first months living in Vietnam in 2013/2014. The context has changed for us, but the truths the piece touches on have not. Are you are sorting through some things you find confusing? Perhaps this will help. “God has a larger…

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Death by Squiggle

Today, I killed 6 metaphors, 3 allusions, 9 five-syllable words, 15 adjectives or adverbs, 3 gerunds, and 2 verbal nouns. They now lay smudged in scarlet ink on the pale page. I recall imagining that being a writer would be a mysterious and almost magical occupation. Making up stories. Playing with words. Putting pen to…

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Get Out of Your Bubble

When I taught at Gordon College, the students would complain at times about “the Gordon bubble.” When I first heard the term, I asked what they meant. They explained that living 30 miles north of Boston in a beautiful but sometimes isolated setting, with people who were all supposedly Christian, left them feeling like they…

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When Simple Is Complicated

Write in simple English. Sounds easy enough. But doing it well is harder than it sounds. Here’s an example. What is the most complex word in the English language? By complex, I mean, what one English word has more varied meanings than any other? And if your guess has more than three letters, guess again….

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The Impact of One Little Book

On May 18, 2016, I was staying at a mission guest house in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. As in many such places, there was a library. This one was like many others in such guesthouses. It showed signs of a collection that simply “happened” over the years. Missionaries on their way home or on their way to somewhere…

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Pain is Part of the Plan

Dave Ripper and I are very excited about the upcoming Inter Varsity Press release of Fellowship of the Suffering: How Hardship Shapes Us for Ministry and Mission.   To give you an idea of the kind of things we discuss in the book, this blog features the powerful and challenging testimony of Dr. Evans Burns, missionary…

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21 (of 50) Preachers to Revive Your Soul

Although I have seminary training, I still find it immensely helpful to hear someone exposit God’s word to me each morning. In addition to my wonderful pastor’s sermons on Sunday, I take time each morning to listen to one of my favorite preachers before I delve into God’s word on my own. With the current…

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More helpful hints for writing in Simple English

While I have written before on the artsy science of writing in Simple English, I did not give a specific set of guidelines that a writer would find helpful. Here is my attempt to correct that oversight. Thirteen Helpful Hints (read GUIDELINES) for Writing with Simplicity and Clarity Write sentences that are brief and concise….

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10 Ways for Avoiding “Shriveled Soul Syndrome”

10 Ways for Avoiding “Shriveled Soul Syndrome” When a younger man, I heard someone say that life is the accumulation of one’s choices.  Now I believe it.  I see in myself good things and bad that is the result of repeated choices over the days, weeks, months, and years of my life.  I am indeed…

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How to Live as a Global Citizen Without Leaving the Country

As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that we’re supposed to be interested in the world beyond ourselves.  But the world is vast (well over 7 billion souls), and the needs are immense.  How can we stay current with the world we live in and God’s work in it? How about a global prayer plan? …

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Six Steps for Preaching to the Next Generation

I have had the privilege of preaching to high-school and college-aged students for a decade. I find it both challenging and rewarding, and perhaps, to some, overly mystical. Young people need to hear the Bible. I’ve found myself gradually leaning on the Bible more – not less – as I’ve breached the college campus. One…

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Why use a catechism?

For the past 10 years, our most widely used publication has been the little catechism, Simple Truths. As of this writing, the book has been translated into 37 languages and more than 400,000 are in print distribution in over 30 countries. Few evangelicals use a catechism today. But some Christian leaders are hoping to fuel a…

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What are your best daily practices?

This week I’m answering something of a practical nature: “What are your best daily practices?” I’m not sure if this question refers to spiritual disciplines, but I’m going to take it broadly. Here are 7 things I’ve picked up over the years. I find them almost universally in people I admire, Christian and non: 1….

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Make Me A Footnote

More than a half dozen years ago, a friend called me with some exciting news.  He wanted me to know that I was cited in a book listed on the New York Times best-seller list!  I pretended to act suave and unaffected, but after his call, I immediately went looking for the book at the…

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Seven Myths about Bible Translation

Bible translation can be a tricky business. Because we believe that the text of scripture is the very Word of God, we want to be especially carefull as we work to translate it from one language to another. Clear and Simple Media has now been involved in the translation of our “little book”, Simple Truths,…

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Missions and Social Media: A Personal Journey

I must admit that I am not an avid social media guy. Some years ago, when moving to Vietnam, I was encouraged to start a blog – which I did. The title, The Reluctant Blogger, wasn’t just selected to be cute. It expressed a sentiment. Through the years, I have overcome that attitude to a…

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Thomas Edison and “the failure phase”

One of the goals (and challenges) of the work we are doing is to produce writing that is accurate to the teaching of Scripture, and simple to read at the same time – targeting an audience of new English readers with little previous exposure to the Bible. That, it turns out, is much harder than…

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Adding a tool to the global English toolbox

For a number of years, I have been trying to find ways to write for a global English audience. My target has been people who are new English speakers/readers and people who have little or no previous exposure to the Bible. As I have stumbled along in the writing and rewriting process, I have come…

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Sometimes you just have to stop

Every year in Winnipeg, several dozen authors descend on the city for The International Writer’s Festival. For two weekends and the week between, they do workshops, public readings, and sessions in schools, bookstores, coffee shops, and performance venues all about town. (This year, the festival, for years now called Thin Air, is Sept 22 –…

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Blind, Deaf, Dead: Taking the Metaphor Too Far?

Here are two recent direct quotes I’ve read from otherwise wonderful, gospel-centered, reformed resources:  “It doesn’t make any sense to get mad at somebody who is lost. It doesn’t make any sense to make it a matter of personal offense against you. It doesn’t make any sense to condemn a lost person with words or…

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What does it mean to say that the Bible is God’s word?

This article is an excerpt from the CSM book, “A Travel Guide to the Bible”. The book is in pre-press proofs and should be in distribution by July 1, 2017. The full text of the book can be found at www.asimpleword.org. THE BIBLE IS THE WORD OF GOD The Bible is like other books in…

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What is the Bible?

This article is an excerpt from the CSM book, “A Travel Guide to the Bible”. The book is in pre-press proofs and should be in distribution by July 1, 2017. The full text of the book can be found at www.asimpleword.org. WHAT IS THE BIBLE? What is the Bible?  The Bible is a book. In…

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Prepositions Revisited

In the last post, I shared a few thoughts on prepositions as words to hang a prayer life on. Turns out, asking three questions is working well for me in keeping my prayer life on track (albeit, still not all I wish it were). “What do I want God to do THROUGH me?” What do I…

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7 Ways to do a Bad Word Study

This week has been a fascinating walk through the world of “Word-Studies”. My guess is, you’ve encountered some sort of word story in the last couple of months: a Bible study, a sermon, a commentary, a quip about agape love or a defense of a biblical viewpoint you’re not sure of. But sometimes it’s hard…

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Prepositions of Prayer

It’s been a long time, but somewhere in those first few years of my education, I came across – prepositions. Prepositions, I was told, are the “hardware” of a language. Like fasteners and hinges and door knobs, sentences wouldn’t hang together without them. Good literature just doesn’t happen without prepositions. As a student, they were…

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