12 July 2023
The Newsletter of IBTM

Good afternoon from sunny Edinburgh! What a lovely time of the year—leafy verdure and gorgeous flowers, temperatures in the 60s, low utility bills, and abundant daylight. We hope your summer is going well. We also hope, whether you’re home or traveling, that you’re walking with the Lord in the light of his word (Psalm 119:105; Prov 8:32-36). With that in mind, today’s offerings are:

  • A Q&A on the Virgin Birth
  • Our latest “conversation,” on Pastors & Pastures
  • An invitation to “Zoomunion”—solid Bible lessons for those who need more on a Sunday, segueing into the Lord’s Supper

I've also included a message on Col 4:7-18—my sermon for the Edinburgh Church of Christ three days ago. The previous Sunday I spoke in friend’s house church (in Fife, the area just north of the Firth of Forth—Scotland has cool names, eh?). It was great meeting outdoors, spending time with brothers and sisters and their guests, and barbecuing. Anyway, this past Sunday’s message, indoors in downtown Edinburgh, was ”Camaraderie, Collegiality, Collaboration.”

Q&A 1638—The Virgin Birth?

Q: As a Christian do I really have to accept that Jesus was born of a virgin? Couldn't this just be an ancient way of highlighting his importance?

A: That's a fair question, and one I myself have wondered about through the years. Tomorrow is the birthday of Julius Caesar (101 BC), an incredibly influential Roman. The Roman Senate decreed him a god after his assassination on the Ides of March, 44 BC—a clear political fiction. However, Caesar’s impact pales into insignificance compared to that of Christ. He was hardly God incarnate.

Jesus’s birth deserves to be examined. Much of the Christian message hangs on this event. Yet many scholars reject Christ's Virgin Birth. Why? KEEP READING

Next week we’ll tackle another topic—the enneagram.


We hear from many of you the complaint that Sunday sermons and midweek lessons are “Bible light”—little meat, no exposition, nothing new. Several years ago (while still in Atlanta) on Sunday evening we began to offer short Bible lessons, followed by the Lord’s Supper, initially for those serving as ushers or in children’s ministry. Here in Scotland we have continued this tradition, and with over 100 talks now ready to watch.

Since these weekly lessons are taught on Zoom, and all the sermons culminate in communion (the “sermunion”), these could be called “zoomunions.” (Not that we expect that word to ever be added to the Oxford English Dictionary!)

The latest message is from John 14:1-14 (password = h@0!zk5#). Click here for the entire series (actually, several series, from March 2021 to July 2023). And if you’d ever like to join us for our Sunday evening chats (with 7pm UK time, 2pm NY time, sessions usually 30-45 minutes), here’s the link.

Conversation 6: Pastors & Pastures
Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10), and church leaders too are called to shepherd in the same spirit (1 Peter 5; 1 Timothy 3; see also Ezekiel 34). But what can we do when the shepherd isn’t good—when the sheep aren’t being fed, or protected? Are there other pastures in which the sheep may safely graze?

In conversation 6, Vicki and I reconsider passages like Hebrews 13:17 and 1 Thessalonians 5:12. We also discuss options for the frustrated. Click HERE to listen. (This link will take you to all the conversations, plus bonus material.)

Until next week…

The next newsletter will be sent from the ancient Christian site of Lindisfarne, where I’ll be spending a couple of days with UK teacher Malcolm Cox.

You may also expect several enhancements to the website, hopefully next week. In response to your feedback, we’ve streamlined the homepage and tried to make the website more user-friendly.

Thanks for your prayers, moral support, and donations.

Yours in Him,