God’s Good News

There’s a lot of bad news in our world. Poverty, disease, violence, injustice, cruelty, war, famine, fire, flood—each day the news seems to be filled with these things. It’s easy to be discouraged by all this, even to despair for our future. It can also be easy to blame God for it all—after all, God’s …

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The Difference between Gods and God

From December 2017 through February 2018, I wrote a series of short articles for MennoMedia's Adult Bible Study Online. Over the next three weeks I will reproduce those here in my blog. Here is the article for December 17, 2017, based on Acts 14. The Bible has a complicated relationship with the “gods” of this …

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God is Not a Woman—but Neither is She a Man

Just to clarify: God is not a woman. But neither is she a man. I've used this statement (or one like it) in my teaching over the years. It manages to be thoroughly orthodox yet still provocative, which makes it a great discussion starter. It forces us to examine what we believe about God, and …

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Adult Bible Study Online Supplements

I've not been blogging much here lately, but I have been writing short weekly pieces for MennoMedia's online supplements to their adult Bible study curriculum. That began the first week of December and will go through February 2018. UPDATE: These are now posted on my website. Links are updated to reflect this. December 3, 2017, …

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Michael Pahl’s Handy-Dandy Handbook of Christian Words and Phrases

Have you ever had two people understand something you’ve said in two very different ways? It happens to all of us sometime. I’ve had it happen to me when I preach, more than once. This happens even when I use common Christian words or phrases derived from the Bible—maybe especially when I do so. It can …

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I’m an Atheist

Okay, it’s confession time: I’m an atheist. It’s true. But probably not in the way you’re thinking. Early Christians were sometimes called “atheists,” did you know that? Not because they didn’t believe in God, but because they didn’t believe in the Romans’ gods. In a world in which there were many “gods” and “lords,” for …

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Trust in God, Love One Another

One of my parishioners in a former church used to say that preachers really only have two or maybe three different sermons. “Every sermon they preach—doesn’t matter the text or the title—is really just a variation of one of those two or three sermons,” he’d say. I’m not quite that cynical about the average pastor’s …

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Why Worship? Why Worship Together?

It’s Sunday morning, and we gather together as Christians to worship God. The specific experiences are as varied as the number of churches, but most worship services have a few things in common. We sing together—sometimes off-key, sometimes hymns too slowly, sometimes choruses too repetitively, too repetitively, too repetitively. We pray together—sometimes faltering, sometimes mumbling, …

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