Blog Posts

Grace Grows Best In Winter

Unless you have been walking about with eyes and ears closed all of your life, you are familiar with suffering. Of the 30 top stories on a major U.S. television network, the majority are stories of people facing war, disease, famine, displacement or natural disaster. This is the “stuff of life” in our broken world….

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The Everlasting God Does Not Change

I have written in other places [here] about the challenges of writing theology in simple English. Here is an example that will appear soon on the A Simple Word website (www.asimpleword.org). Take a look. The article uses limited grammatical structures and vocabulary options are limited to a word list of only 1600 words.   Q.10…

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6 Ways to Abuse the Sufficiency of Scripture

Twice in the last few months, I’ve encountered the doctrine of the sufficiency of scripture touted as a remedy against using illustrations, humor or contextualization in sermons. I’ve also encountered using this doctrine as a support for the word-for-word ESV Bible, in Jon Nielson’s “How to Study the Bible” (which I heartily recommend otherwise). Now,…

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Why Must Paul Preach (Write) With Clarity?

“At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.” Colossians 4:4 How can Paul say he “ought” to speak…

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Buy the book

If you have not read the book Knowing God, by J. I. Packer, you have missed one of the most influential books of the past 40 years. I have read it more often and given it away more frequently than any other book. Here is a quote to whet your appetite. Take 30 seconds to…

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Fragile. Resilient. Broken. Indestructible. Helpless. Indomitable.

In 2013, I was living in Vietnam and wrote a piece that I never published. Although now a bit dated, the subject matter speaks to some universal questions. Now, it is January 2017 and I am in Ho Chi Minh City once again. I remembered the article and decided that now was a good time to post it….

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Why a Second Edition? (PART 2)

What follows is part 2 of the answer. This post was written some time ago, so the language may reflect that perspective. As we approach the tenth anniversary (2016) of the publication of Simple Truths, we believe it is time to integrate these lessons into the text and create a second edition. This piece will…

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Why a second edition? (PART 1)

Over the past two years, we have worked hard to complete a second edition of our small evangelical catechism Simple Truths. This new version has now been translated into multiple languages (20+) and is in print in a number of countries. As I have travelled and talked about the “little book” over the past months, I…

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PART 3 How to get started

The third installment of the “What the big deal about the “little book” posts. The featured image for this blog is a page from the Chinese translation of Simple Truths. How to get started? The first reading If you have never read a book like this before, the best place to begin may be to…

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PART 2 Why was it written?

Here is the second installment of the Introduction to Simple Truths. The featured image is the cover of the Poqomchi translation being used in Guatemala.  Why was it written? Books like this have been around for many, many years. This one was first put together to help new Christians in Asia learn about what the…

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What’s the big deal about this “little book”? PART 1

One of the most significant bits of ministry that we do at Clear and Simple Media is the translation and distribution of our small evangelical catechism, Simple Truths. The “little book” is now in 30 languages and over 200,000 have been distributed and are in use in Africa, Asia, North America, South America, Europe, and…

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“Eight things cancer is teaching me”

Dave Hall is a friend of mine. He is now a pastor at Emmanuel Faith Community Church in Escondido, California, where he oversees the church’s efforts in global ministry. When we first met, we were students together more than forty years ago. Dave and his wife, Joni, have been married 40 years. They have three adult children and…

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Learn Smarter

Not long ago, I joined a new(ish) communication platform called Ideapod. It is a quirky sort of virtual gathering place for people with ideas ~ ideas of all sorts. One of the unique features of the site is that the articles that share these ideas may only be 1000 characters in length. It is a…

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God’s Glory Requires Skill

Today, Nicholas McDonald is our guest blogger. I first came across Nick’s writing a few years back. Through our occasional correspondence, I have come to appreciate Nick’s work – so much so, that I have become a Patreon. Tom ********************** God’s Glory Requires Skill “The power of the pulpit is not in the skill of…

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Theology for Persecuted Christians

Matthew 5:10-12 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way…

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Simple English Toolbox

One of our goals at Clear and Simple Media is to recruit and develop writers who can write with clarity on a biblical or theological topic while using simple English to do so. This is a skill that takes discipline and practice. Here are a few places to find help to develop the art and…

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In everything give thanks?

I spent part of the month of April in Haiti. I was there as a part of a StoryRunners “advance team” to make preparations for an International School of Storying to take place there several weeks following. Our final day in Haiti had us getting up early so that we could pack our bags to…

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Happy Birthday J. I. Packer (a fan letter)

Today, July 22, 2016, is J. I. Packer’s 90th birthday. Next to my grandfather, I can think of no other person to whom I am more deeply indebted for what I have come to believe theologically than James Innell Packer. My first exposure to his writing came in my first year at Bible college. In…

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Missions is Messy

Helping people is hard. This is true, not only for the obvious reasons, but for a few unexpected ones as well. When I help someone, I have certain expectations that come with my investment. For example, I expect people to appreciate my efforts. I also count on the people I have helped to use the…

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Evangelistic Suffering

Paul Borthwick is a “missions guy.” We first met when he spoke at the church I was leading during a missions day. He is not only passionate about missions, he is a nice man. He has written several books on world missions – all worth your time. Each time I have read his books or…

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Spurgeon on Writing

My first exposure to Spurgeon was during my first days in college. I had never heard of “The Prince of Preachers” before I picked up the first volume of the Park Street Pulpit. I have been fascinated by him ever since. Pastor, public speaker, and prolific writer – he was all of the above. Thank you…

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A Story for Christmas

This is not a Christmas story. It is a story I wrote a few years ago as a Christmas gift. After the story was finished, I printed several copies, and then, using old fashioned cut-and-paste, I made a little book of it. Several books in fact. Then, I bought Christmas bags and in each I…

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The Book in My Hand

Although I’ve told this story on a number of occasions, it suits the heart of what I want us to remember as we launch this new blog category. I had just completed my first year in university. Lee and I had known each other since our first classes together, but we had only been dating…

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Finding Our Way

When we built this website, we decided that a blog might be a nice “value-added” touch. Because our goal is to put material into the hands of grass-roots church planters that is linguistically simple, theologically clear, and biblically faithful, we decided that including a few “samples” on the blog might be a good idea. Because…

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Is the Great Commission an achievable task?

I get the occasional email these days about “missions”. Of late, some have included some very insightful questions. Many come from people who are considering the idea of missions themselves. Some come from folks who are wondering why I did. My usual answers have to do with my own understanding of the scripture, of the gospel,…

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