Persevere: Faithful Ministry Will Bear Fruit

Faithful ministry is successful ministry even when it leads to hardship and suffering.

For 9 1/2 years (2000-2009) this young man labored to bring about biblical faithfulness. He was wounded and weary from battle. But the Holy Spirit gave him power and he fought for Jesus. The congregation continued to decline in numbers. But the seeds of righteousness and repentance were sown. I think he left feeling a... Continue Reading

Race, the Gospel, and the Moment

Some thoughts on how to respond to the events in Charlottesville, Va.

Racism should not be only brought up at moments such as we witnessed in Charlottesville this past weekend. The evil of racism is a biblical theme—a sin the gospel reveals and heals—so we should be teaching about it routinely in the course of regular preaching.   How should Christians, and especially those with an Anglo-white... Continue Reading

It’s Not Just About The Sex

Our culture has concluded that relationships are defined by sex.

The good news is that friendship, and especially commitment, are more stable than sex and eroticism. To the extent that couples begin their relationships on the basis of sexual attraction, the stability of their marriage is a long shot. To the extent that they begin their relationship with commitment and friendship, they are exponentially more... Continue Reading

Humanity’s Oldest Ache

Words not only describe how we feel, they distinctly shape how we understand our feelings.

The biblical narrative begins and ends at home. From the Garden of Eden to the New Jerusalem, we are hardwired for place and for permanence, for rest and refuge, for presence and protection. We long for home because welcome was our first gift of grace and it will be our last. The setting of our... Continue Reading

PCA Study Committee Report on the Role of Women in the Ministry of the Church: Recommendation #7

Assessing Recommendation 7 of the PCA Role of Women in the Church Report presented to the 45th General Assembly.

There is no question that all God’s people are set apart to serve and minister within the church (Ps. 4:3, 2 Tim. 2:21). However, the practice of setting apart for specific tasks within the church seems to be an exceptional circumstance where men already in office, whether as Levite, priest, apostle or teacher in the... Continue Reading

Eye On The Sky

A total solar eclipse is a sign of heavenly design.

Earth’s unique location and vantage point for eclipses and other astronomical phenomena is evidence of intelligent design, Gonzalez and Richards wrote: “Simply stated, the conditions allowing for intelligent life on Earth also make our planet strangely well suited for viewing and analyzing the universe.”   A much-anticipated solar eclipse will sweep across the United States... Continue Reading

When Your Pastor Becomes A Social Justice Action Hero

It has become common in our day for pastors to frame their sermons to deal with the social justice issues of the day.

The one thing the church offers is an answer to the wrath of God because of sin. As the world remains under judgment, the Christian gospel offers a way of transference out of a kingdom of darkness and into a kingdom of light, out of Babylon and into the heavenly Jerusalem. We do this by... Continue Reading

ECO Theological Task Force Introduces Book of Confessions

Now that ECO is well established we have the responsibility to assess our collection of documents and to clarify and consider their meaning for us going forward.

Now that ECO is well established we have the responsibility to assess our collection of documents and to clarify and consider their meaning for us going forward. We also have the responsibility to determine which creeds, catechisms, confessions, and statements we would like to see included in our future confessional standards. We trust that our... Continue Reading

Charlottesville and the Mission of the Church

The church is at her best when she offers the one thing the world cannot: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The answer to racial bigotry is not an amalgamation of left-wing critical theory and the gospel. The two cannot be harmonized. Nor is it appropriate to respond to white nationalism with black nationalism. The answer is a message. It is the same message Paul brought to the Corinthians; a message which seemed then and will... Continue Reading

A Historic Framework for Social Responsibility

How shall the church think about social issues of race, justice and power?

On the one hand this is freeing. The single mother working two low-wage earning jobs does share the same kind of moral responsibility as the wealthy CEO for her neighbors, but she does not share the same degree of moral responsibility as the wealthy CEO. On the other hand, it is morally challenging. True righteousness is measured by deeds... Continue Reading

Are Christians Intolerant Haters? Lessons from the Church of the Second Century

In other words, can we learn anything from the Christians of the second century that may help us in our current cultural moment? Absolutely.

Second-century Christians were regarded as “haters.”  One might think the small size of the early Christian movement would allow it to be overlooked or ignored.  But this is not what happened.  On the contrary, the Roman government noticed Christians and didn’t like what they saw. Christians were seen as offensive, rude, peculiar, and a threat... Continue Reading

New Manual Guides Church Leaders in Sexual Abuse policies and prevention

The book helps church leaders identify different types of abuse (sexual, physical, emotional, spiritual), learn about state laws and institute safeguards, such as background checks for employees.

In 2015, the last year for which numbers are available, there were 683,000 incidents of child abuse and neglect reported to child protective services in the United States. “Protestants understand this isn’t just a Catholic issue,” said Tchividjian, referring to the massive clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. “This issue is sadly incredibly... Continue Reading

14 Ways to Fight For God’s Peace in Times of Stress

God gives us many promises we can cling to in hard times, and gives us a number of things we can do to experience his peace.

God desires his children to experience his peace. This doesn’t mean we won’t ever have serious concerns or be tempted to be anxious. It doesn’t mean we will always feel peace. But as we fight the good fight of faith, we will increasingly experience the deep peace of God.   Life in this world is... Continue Reading

Are Millennials Killing America’s Religious Freedom?

There is a growing misconception among many Millennials on the concept of religious liberty and why it is so crucial to protect.

According to data collected from the Pew Research Center, 40 percent of Millennials believe that the government should be able to prevent people from saying statements that are offensive to minority groups. This percentage is increasingly alarming when compared to earlier generations, such as Gen X, Baby Boomers, and the Silent Generation, of which 27 percent, 24 percent, and... Continue Reading

Death For Success

What mattered to Paul was not who was “winning” or “losing” but whether Christ is preached.

As has been described in this space before, this is great (even if unspoken) pressure on all pastors to “grow the church.” Pastors are not the only ones who measure the success or health of the church by bodies, buildings, and budgets. When we ask a pastor, “How is the church?” what we typically mean... Continue Reading

What Depression Taught Me About Biblical Womanhood

Whatever season you find yourself in — at home, at work, in school, single, married, childless, drowning in diapers — the void can find you.

The darkness just wouldn’t lift. Until one day, it did. The dark moments in our lives (where our false notions of womanhood are put to the test) are the moments when God is yanking us out of the idolatry of what it means to be the perfect [single, girlfriend, wife, fill in the blank]. It’s impossible.... Continue Reading

500 Years On: Let’s End the Sale of Self Indulgences

When I read these words in the kickstarter campaign: "Harris has felt pressure from all sides to do or say something," I kinda want to say, “Joshua don’t. Don’t say anything.”

A defining feature of modern cultural Christianity, and those who have either gotten it spectacularly wrong or have fallen badly, is that the gap between the fall and the next tweet, blog or online interview has shrunk dramatically. Silence is a base metal these days, no longer golden.   The Protestant Church could do worse... Continue Reading

Is Hell for Real?

My hope is this accessible book will serve those who are asking these types of questions and looking for what the Bible says.

I’m excited about this book because I was able to set forth how the gospel shines so brightly, revealing the glory of Christ in the salvation of his people. The study of hell, while admittedly weighty, does drive you to see the powerful grace of God in the gospel.   Questions about hell continue to... Continue Reading

Confessions of a Former ‘It’ Church Pastor

We were the hottest church in our area. Then everything imploded.

Our church hit its stride numerically and spiritually a few years after I became its senior pastor. I was constantly hounded by the temptation to believe I was the secret sauce behind it, but instead I decided to believe I was merely its pastor during a God-blessed season. I had no idea at the time... Continue Reading

A Child of God Still Has Lessons to Teach

How Charlie Gard is helping us come to terms with one of the biggest issues of our time.

The life of Charlie Gard was conceived by God before the foundations of the earth. God created Charlie, God knows Charlie, and God has an eternity planned for him. I believe God is also using the child’s brief life here on this earth to change conversations and hearts — and maybe even international relationships related... Continue Reading

Self-Esteem

The right balance here is to esteem highly the image of God in us, and to loathe the distortion that sin brings.

in order to see the truth about self-esteem, we need to nuance the discussion. It is not a matter of whether we should have high or low self-esteem. Instead, it is a question of which way(or concerning what) we should have self-esteem, and which way we should not.   The problem of self-esteem seems to be evergreen. There... Continue Reading

The Mark of the Most Successful Worship Leaders

The most successful worship leaders are the ones who want to hear their congregations sing—to really sing.

I’m convinced what’s happening in so many congregations is that the worship leader chooses songs that are either poorly-suited to congregational singing or beyond the skill of his church. He hears a new song, falls in love with it, and for the best of motives wants to sing it with the people he loves and... Continue Reading

On Knowing When to Resign

this is a serious question from someone who has borne the heat of the day, and who, for various reasons, wonders if it is not only permitted but right to ask if it is time to move on.

This pastor is wondering when it is time to lay down the burden of local church ministry, and consider something else—itinerant ministry, perhaps, or teaching overseas for a while, or working with a mission agency, or half-time pastoral work, perhaps as someone else’s associate. Are there any biblical and theological principles that should shape our... Continue Reading

Civil war at a Christian college

Chronicling three sad years of conflict on the Bryan College campus.

If this story were only about Bryan, it would merely be a local item—but the conflict is a cautionary tale for Christian schools generally. How had relations become so uncollegial at a college where the unbelieving world should know us by our love? Relations between administrators and faculty members at many institutions are jagged—and tensions... Continue Reading

I Love Your Church, O God

Don’t look for the programs, the money, the entertainment, or where all the popular kids go. Look for the marks of the church, and join with them.

When you visit a church, look for these things. Does the church seek to be faithful to the marks of Christ? Or do they cover up sin and deny affliction and oppression? Are they too busy throwing arrows at far away places that they cannot cleanse the filth in their own nest? Are their pastors... Continue Reading

Game of Dethroning Sexual Sin

If we cannot watch something to the glory of God (and you honestly have to answer the question in your conscience as to whether you are doing so), then we shouldn't be watching it.

Self-deception is a real and present danger for believers. Many convince themselves that watching “soft porn” (because that is precisely the secular classification that many of the scenes in television shows today would have received 20 years ago) in the opening episodes on a television show isn’t that bad because “while there is intense violence... Continue Reading

Brothers, We Are Not Amateurs

A plea for ministry preparation

Why would one knowingly receive soul care and biblical instruction from an amateur, and why would a minister be content as one? Souls hang in the balance. There is a heaven to gain and hell to shun. There is fixed truth to defend and proclaim. Satan is serious about his calling; ministers must be serious... Continue Reading

Moms, We Need Each Other

When we criticize and critique each other for our parenting choices, we are not living as those who have been redeemed by Christ.

The criticism we have for each other separates us. Rather than being a help and support to one another in our parenting, moms become competitors. We treat each other like we are on different teams, as though there is some prize out there and only one of us can get it. Instead of encouraging and building... Continue Reading

Christ, the Purpose of the Law

Why did Christ the King in His everlasting love and kindness give that which was found to be death to many, especially when there were so many abundant promises given to the Jews in the Old Testament?

It might seem reasonable at first to simply assume that Paul is saying that the Law was added in response to sin, to curb sin, and to increase holiness through law keeping. But, nearly to the contrary, it is more likely that Paul means that it was added to (1) expose sin—to make it known,... Continue Reading

Calling, Burdens, and Being Crushed by Facebook

Why specifically does social media leave me so dried up? Because of callings, burdens, and borders.

There are some things I really love about social media. I’m not suggesting it’s evil or that it shouldn’t be used. But it has this weird way of granting me semi God-like omniscience without God-like omnipotence. In other words, it makes me aware of much more without enabling me to do anything with my knowledge. The result... Continue Reading