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Veronica Neffinger

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I remember when my family first started attending an evangelical church. I could barely pronounce the name and had even less an idea of what it meant. Now, 14 years after first being introduced to the evangelical world, the word rolls easily off my tongue and is very familiar.
The word “evangelical” will likely be a familiar word to most Christians. It has even become a familiar word among political pundits and commentators this election season. Most of us have likely heard about or read articles that talk about the importance of the evangelical vote or why evangelicals are supporting a certain candidate.
Lately, the word has seemed to be most associated with politics, which Relevant writer Aaron Cline Hanbury says is a serious departure from what it truly means to be an evangelical.
In his article “It’s Officially Time to Redefine ‘Evangelical,’ Hanbury discusses what it truly means to be an evangelical and how Christians can reclaim the word from all the modern baggage that has come to be associated with it.
At its root, the word “evangelical” comes from the Greek word for “good news,” or “gospel,” says Hanbury. It involves a focus on Christ and spreading the word about His salvation (evangelizing). 
Martin Luther used the word “evangelical” to describe the Protestant churches that separated from the Roman Catholic church and looked to the Gospel as their foundation.
Today, however, the word evangelical is often boiled down to nothing more than a political demographic. Hanbury says this trend began in the 1980’s with the Moral Majority--a coalition of Christians who shared similar political and ethical beliefs and wanted to have an impact on politics.
While there are many good arguments for Christians to be involved in politics, evangelicalism has unfortunately often come to be subordinated by politics, rather than the the other way around in the Christian life. This, in turn, has obscured the Gospel, the message at the very heart of evangelicalism.
Evangelical voters generally are pro-life, pro-marriage, pro-family, and pro-religious freedom--all good things which have substantial biblical backing; however, these things often seem to overshadow the core beliefs on which they were founded--namely, the Gospel itself and Jesus’ example of loving and caring for people.
“Evangelical Christianity is defined not by politics or presidents, but by its humble, relentless pursuit of Christ. It’s meant to show the best in us as believers, and inspire us to have compassion and be courageous,” says Ryan Duncan in the article “What Happened to the Word ‘Evangelical’?”.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in defending our rights--even our particular evangelical or Christian rights--that we lose sight of what it means to be an evangelical in the first place, which is to have the perspective that this world is not our true home, but is a  place in which to share Christ with others and to extend His love.
“True evangelicalism is not about maintaining a particular earthly kingdom, but about calling people into the kingdom of God,” says Hanbury.
Let’s keep looking toward that heavenly kingdom even as we seek to live out Christ’s command to love our neighbor where we are right now.
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Publication date: May 4, 2016
Veronica Neffinger is the editor of

Perhaps this makes me a bad Christian, but I’ve never really cared for “End-Times” dogma. As a child of the 90’s, I experienced the Left Behind craze firsthand, and nearly all my summers at Bible camp ended with a morose counselor telling us we were, “Living in the last days”. Over time though, I grew more practical. If the Bible tells us no man can add a single hour to their life by worrying about the future (Luke 12:25), then the most important time was the here and now. Why should I sweat over a couple of vague prophesies in Revelation when Jesus was just going to win in the end?

Despite this lax attitude however, there’s no denying Christ’s return plays a pivotal role in the Christian faith. Chris Brauns, of The Gospel Coalition, believes it’s important for Christians to approach End-Times scholarship with clear heads and discerning hearts. As such, he’s compiled a list of errors Christians should avoid while researching Revelation, to which I’ve added a few of my own.

Looking for Secret Codes as a Way to Unlock Scripture’s Meaning

“My ‘favorite’ code-breaking scheme was assigning the number 100 to the letter ‘a’ and incrementing this number by one for each letter of the alphabet. You can do the math for yourself, but the name ‘Hitler’ adds up to 666. During any presidential election, one wonders how many candidates can compete for the role of Antichrist. But it’s an error to project a winner. And it’s a hermeneutical nightmare when we start trying to determine which apocalyptic image in Revelation is a helicopter.”

Creating Horrible End-Times Movies

When I was roughly twelve years old, a couple youth leaders thought it was a good idea to screen A Thief in the Night for the kids in their group. The movie was terrible even by 90’s standards, and only served to traumatize an entire generation of Christians. Since then, well-meaning filmmakers have attempted to remake these movies for modern audiences, only for them to crash and burn spectacularly at the box office. Its high time Christians retired this genre and focused on new, more original stories.

Setting Dates Either Narrowly or Broadly

“Jesus couldn’t have been clearer: ‘But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only’ (Matt. 24:36, cf. Matt. 24:44, 50; 25:13; Acts 1:1–8). Paul repeated the point (1 Thess. 5:1–3). Nevertheless, some continue to predict.’ Date-setting reached a fever pitch following the improbable triumph of Israel in the Six Days War of 1967. A theory based on Matthew 24:13–14 posited Jesus would return no later than 1988. There have been numerous theories since involving everything from the moon to Y2K. Each distracts us from the true purpose of biblical prophecy.”

Forgetting to Live in the Present

As I stated earlier, the most important time for Christians is the here and now. Our study of the End- Times shouldn’t distract us from the opportunities of today. God has commanded us to love our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:31), to seek justice for the weak (Psalm 82:3), and share His gospel with the world (Matthew 5:14-16). Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. God will take care of the future, we still have work to do.

Not Being Christ-centered

“…We must not turn our study of his return, then, into a catalogue of events in which we’re more concerned about determining the relationship between the universal bar code and mark of the beast than worshiping the Lamb slain. Rather, we should be thankful that a study of eschatology gives us a fuller picture of the One who came first as a suffering servant but will return in majesty and power.”

No man knows the day of Christ’s return (Matt. 24:36). It could be tomorrow, it could be a hundred years from now. Still, if I may borrow a phrase from The Lord of the Rings, “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” Let us live in such a way that when Christ does arrive, our time will have been well-spent, and we can return home as good and faithful servants.

*Published 5/3/2016

**Ryan Duncan is the Entertainment Editor for

Do you ever find yourself going all out for your kids’ birthday parties? Each party has to be bigger and better, and the details must be perfect? This type of party brings on a lot of stress for the planner, but is the stress worth it? Do kids really care if a party is Pinterest-perfect? Usually this type of all-out planning is more for other moms and attendees than it is for the birthday child. Melissa Edgington, blogger and pastor’s wife, has written a blog post titled When Mothers Try to Impress the Wrong People.

Edgington describes how she intricately planned her daughter’s first, second, and third birthday parties. She went all out with a gem (her daughter's name is Emerald), kitty cat, and Cinderella theme—complete with homemade decorations, satin backdrops, and special cupcakes. She writes, “It was an adorable party. But, who were all of those minute details really for? Other moms, of course!”

But on her daughter’s fourth birthday, she did something different. This time, she bought cupcakes from Sam’s Club, Kool-aid from WalMart, and Barbie balloons from Amazon. The party took place at a city park, where the kids played on a playground. Edgington asks,

Do you know what I was doing up until a few minutes before that party started? I was hanging out at my house. I had played a game of Candyland with Emerald. I had cleaned my kitchen and done a few loads of laundry. Time that I normally would’ve spent creating a bunch of stuff to try to impress other moms was spent doing the things that really needed doing, and just spending time with the birthday girl.

Do you know what I was doing AT the party? Instead of running a bunch of games and running around like crazy, I was doing this: Sitting at a table at the park with a bunch of my friends, chatting while all the kids entertained themselves.”

Sometimes kids just want simple … simple pleasures like playing a game of Chutes and Ladders, having a relaxed birthday party, and getting some much needed one-on-one time with mom or dad. Themed birthday parties are fun, but when the decorations and need to impress take precedence over the actual birthday celebration it may be time to take a step back to simple. Edgington reveals,

I doubt Emerald will even remember her fourth birthday party, but I will. I’ll remember that in the days leading up to it, I saw her, really saw her. I wasn’t buried under a pile of tulle or preoccupied with elaborate planning. I wasn’t set out to impress a bunch of other moms. I just wanted to make Emerald feel loved. And, maybe in the end what is really worth remembering isn’t the kind of thing you can display on Pinterest.”

Sometimes we can get caught up in who we think people want us to be; we want to be impressive and we want to impress successfully. But in reality our children don’t want to be impressed … they just want us—our attention, love, time, and energy. Edgington expresses,

“Just listen. Hug a lot. Play. Tell them how much you love them. And, don’t let frenzied people-impressing get in the way of showing your children every day just how wonderful you think they are. I’d much rather be the mama that they want to be with forever than the one who throws a killer preschool party. Wouldn’t you?”

To read Edgington’s full blog post please visit

Crosswalk Contributor Cindi McMenamin relays,

Many of our insecurities about parenting surface because we find ourselves in a situation that is new or different, or that we haven't yet walked through. But Scripture tells us in Ecclesiastes 1:9 that there is nothing new under the sun.

There will be times you are getting it right and times you will feel you are failing miserably. The important thing to understand is that throughout the changing seasons of your child's life and the times when you don't know what to do, you have an Unchanging God who will be your steady, immovable rock to cling to when things start swirling around you.” 

Related article:
What to Do When You Feel Like a Horrible Mother

Related video: How can I raise my children to love and follow Christ? - Kevin DeYoung from christianitydotcom2 on GodTube.

Publication date: May 2, 2016