Bible Quoters or Bible Readers?

I took the click bait when an article by Russell Moore found its way into my inbox. The article that got my attention was entitled, “Have Bible Quoters Replaced Bible Readers?” In the article, he refers to David Nienhuis’s book, A Concise Guide to Reading the New Testament. Speaking of the students in his college New Testament classes, Nienhuis writes that they struggle with the biblical material “because they have been trained to be Bible quoters, not Bible readers.” Nienhuis continues,

They have the capacity to recall a relevant biblical text in support of a particular doctrinal point, or in opposition to a hot spot in the cultural wars, or in hope of emotional support when times get tough. They approach the Bible as a sort of reference book, a collection of useful God-quotes that can be looked up as … Read More »


Welcome to New Life Presbyterian Church! We are glad you have joined with us to worship our Triune God. Please join us after the service in our fellowship hall and get to know others in our community who call New Life home. If you have any questions about our church—what we believe or why we do the thing we do—please feel free to contact the church.

When you arrive for worship, please take opportunity to prepare yourself for worship and to enter into God’s Divine Service. Silence your cell phone, listen to the prelude, read the Scripture reading for the morning, and join others in prayer and meditation.

Our Worship

Our service is intentionally structured to reflect our belief that worship is God’s service to us, his people. By design, there are three parts to our worship: the Service of Entrance, the Service … Read More »

Overcoming Absence

Last Sunday I found myself back in the state of Michigan to preach at the ordination service of a former intern. I had been there previously in January and it was then that I learned firsthand why people leave that state. However, coming back this time in early June, I came to realize why people stay. When the snow melts it is a remarkably beautiful place.

The text I preached on was Ephesians 4:1-16 – a text which emphasizes the ascension of Jesus into heaven – and I chose it because of the ordination’s close proximity to Ascension Day, just three days prior. I pointed out how Jesus’ ascension into heaven manifests his cosmic authority — that’s what “seated at the right hand of God” means — and how Paul highlights this by quoting Psalm 68, a psalm about God’s utter … Read More »


As with many Christmas celebrations, Easter is here today and gone tomorrow. But this is not the way the vast majority of Christians have and will celebrate Easter. Historically and traditionally Easter–similar to Christmas–is an extensive celebration lasting fifty days and has come to be known as the time of Eastertide. Sunday was actually the first Sunday of Easter and there will be seven more after it. For the next seven weeks we will sing pointed songs about the resurrection and begin the service with the Easter refrain: Christ is risen! He is risen indeed!

While Lent was the 40-day period of fasting, Easter is the 50-day period of feasting. One writer from another generation noted, “Easter Sunday and Christmas Day; the two best days for the stomach (O’ Sullivan, 6 Apr. 1828). Likewise, dating back to the fourth century, the … Read More »

Preparing for Worship

Last Saturday I participated in the ordination service for Scott McDermand and then on Sunday I attended the church he pastors and was able to participate in the first worship service led by Pastor McDermand. The pew I was sitting in was almost completely full and I was right in the middle. To my right was Scott’s sister and then his dad and then his wife. To my left was a family I had dinner with on Friday. To my immediate left was the daughter, in her twenties, and next to her was her boyfriend. She and her boyfriend trickled in late, just after the first hymn. But it was her posture during worship that got my attention. Every time we were seated she was hunched over on her boyfriend, head on his shoulder. She was obviously tired. I don’t … Read More »

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! This is the first Sunday in Advent, which is regarded by Western Christianity as the beginning of the liturgical year. Sometimes Christians mistakenly think of Advent as being synonymous with the birth of Christ or with Christmas. But it really isn’t. In fact, Advent’s primary focus is on what we usually call the second coming of Christ. It’s for this reason that you will find the lectionary readings of the church focusing on this topic, this year.

I like what Laurence Stookey says about this, “What may seem to be an anomaly is a very important theological point: The beginning of the liturgical year takes our thinking to the very end of things.” (Christ’s Time for the Church, 121)

This is important because beginning at the end equips us to make sense of the rest of Jesus’ life and … Read More »

The Eucharist

Even for Paul there was mystery in the Christian faith, especially when it came to the work of Christ on behalf of his church. Speaking in the context of marriage he would say, this mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32). The preface to his summary of the rudimentary facts of Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension reads like this: Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness (1 Tim. 3:16). Christianity is not in opposition to a healthy and vigorous life of the mind; nor is it in opposition to mystery. It is opposed to stupidity and ignorance on the one hand and to rationalism on the other. When we come to the topic of the Eucharist we come to a topic of great mystery. Perhaps this is … Read More »

The Reformation Service

This week we raise and hopefully answer the question: Why do we pause to remember the Protestant Reformation each year?  Let me suggest three reasons why.  First, we do so to emphasize our catholicity.  To answer the question like that is somewhat ironic because historically the Reformation was the watershed event that severed the Protestants from the Roman Catholics.  By catholicity I don’t mean “Roman Catholic.”  Rather, I mean, in the most rudimentary definition of the word, unity.  That is what “catholic” means.  When I became the pastor of New Life in October 2005, the Reformation service was one of the first things that I organized.  Each year we host an evening worship service in which like-minded churches join together to celebrate their unity centered around the truths of the Reformation as codified in the reformed confessions and around the … Read More »

What’s Your Name?

It’s a very old practice for the minister to ask parents or sponsors bringing an infant to be baptized what the child’s name is. Specifically, “What is the Christian name of this child?” To us modern westerners it sounds strange. Is the minister that disconnected that he doesn’t even know the child’s name? We tend to ascribe a name at birth. I have a hunch they did the same thing in the early centuries of the church and in Israel as well. But the formal naming of the child was tied to circumcision in the Old Testament (Luke 1:59) and to baptism when it replaced circumcision in the New Testament. Evidence suggests that adult converts often changed their names at baptism. What this suggests, then, is that for Christians baptism is the beginning. It all starts here, in the water. … Read More »

Confession of Faith or Pledge of Allegiance?

The recent NFL controversy—which is spreading to other venues too—concerning the appropriate posture during the national anthem got my mind running in so many different directions.

First, there is the liturgical path I went down. We are liturgical beings and therefore we need structure and order and routine. It’s just what we do. It’s who we are. It’s all around us if we will look around and see. We need it. We crave it. As such the national anthem serves as the liturgical call to worship of all American sporting events. Very interesting, to me at least.

Rather than merely parroting some words passed down through the generations,our confession of faith is a pledge of allegiance to king Jesus.

Second, I got thinking about the nature of this national anthem itself—this cultural call to worship—and what protests to it signified. Far more than … Read More »