What Grace Isn’t

We think that grace means that we become allergic to imperatives, that discipline is legalistic, that there should be no consequences for the forgiven. But biblically speaking, none of that is true.

Finding loopholes around church discipline–whether by leaving one church or another or by some other way–demonstrates a heart that fails to grasp that God disciplines sons and daughters. In other words, grace and steadfast love grounds discipline; hatred avoids discipline.   I consider myself a “grace boy.” That is, all the debates that have been... Continue Reading

AF Colonel to Get Double Promotion to 2-Star General For Top Chaplain Post

Col. Dondi E. Costin is not your usual military chaplain

“The 1986 Air Force Academy graduate said he came from a devout Baptist home in North Carolina and felt a call to the ministry in high school but was afraid of public speaking and became an industrial engineer in the service instead. He finally switched to the chaplaincy in 1996 and said he has loved... Continue Reading

Most Of Our Children Are Average

We are all tempted to want our kids to soar above the masses

Why do parents long to have above average children? And why are children willing to go along with their Herculean efforts to achieve such status? According to Time, and a similar story from aeon.com, “You Can Do it Baby!”, it has everything to do with our drive for success.   I’ll never forget the way... Continue Reading

John Oliver’s Target Isn’t Crooked Televangelists — It’s Conservative Churches

He promoted the idea that the IRS should determine what is and is not a legitimate church

“Earlier this month, Oliver did a segment on televangelists. He can be forgiven for being late to the topic since he was still a teenager in England when America got bored of talking about predatory preachers on television. The “prosperity gospel” frauds are still a problem, of course, and should be called out for it.... Continue Reading

Can the Church In Scotland Rise Again?

Almost half of adults in Scotland do not identify with any religion, according to official figures

“We are also seeing the first signs of a renewed and reinvigorated Presbyterianism in Scotland in my own denomination, the Free Church. New churches are being planted, people are being converted and membership is increasing. The Free Church College has been relaunched as Edinburgh Theological Seminary, and there is a new leadership rising.”   The... Continue Reading

The Narnia Church

The Narnia option is, like Lewis’s books, ecumenical in scope: wounded people from wounded churches desiring wholeness in the Church that we cannot yet see.

“Lewis is Mr. Mere Christianity. He does not talk about the Church a lot, although he does so more than many seem to remember. The Screwtape Letters is a great place to look for it. But fair enough. When Lewis set out to champion the Christian faith in his highest profile setting, he explicitly (almost)... Continue Reading

Good Works And The Christian Life

Good works are the perfect complement to the gospel

“While good works aren’t meritorious of salvation, they are a necessary component of Christian faith. As James states, “faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26). Paul makes this same point when he contends that we are not saved by good works but that we are saved for good works.”   Good works aren’t bad. They... Continue Reading

Why Same-Sex Marriage Will Never Measure Up To The Real Thing

Here are four reasons same-sex marriage will never measure up to the real thing

“Marriage produces longer life spans, especially for men. In 2011, a survey of 90 studies found that single men die eight to 17 years earlier than married males. Life spans for single women decrease by seven to 15 years compared with their married counterparts.”   According to American icon and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Thomas... Continue Reading

The Next Front in the War on Religious Freedom

All the country's best fascists are on your local city council

“Citizens and elected officials have every right to work to cut off taxpayer funding to businesses and institutions they find morally distasteful. But if the city council of Anytown, USA, were to concoct reasons to deny permits to gay business owners who support same-sex marriage, many Americans would find that rightfully appalling.”   Stop bellyaching... Continue Reading

We Don’t Get to Choose our Martyrs

We all knew the moment was coming when Christians, including those in public office, would begin to suffer for their convictions about marriage.

Like the Apostles, who could also have simply moved on, Mrs. Davis has refused to do the authorities’ dirty work for them. By refusing to resign, she is putting the moral responsibility for that action upon her accusers and judges. Many Christian men and women have done this through the years as they’ve stood before... Continue Reading

Predictable, All Too Predictable

Does the PCA really want ministerial development in the hands of a defrocked minister?

Morally, however, the situation is this: a man deemed unfit to hold teaching office just three weeks ago is now occupying a position of teaching influence in the same denomination.  Maybe not illegal, but certainly irresponsible towards both him and those he will influence.  At the very minimum it is also most discourteous towards the... Continue Reading

The Holy Catholic Church Or A Holy Catholic Church?

It seems as if the best English translation of the Creed should be, “the holy catholic church….”

Theologically it seems sounder to say that we believe the holy catholic church. The church is not a potential. It is a reality that is manifested in the world. This is what we say in Belgic Confession art. 27. “We believe and confess one only catholic or universal church (une seule Église catholique ou universelle). The... Continue Reading

15 Essentials to Finish Life Well

Live to hear God say at the end of your life, “Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your Master.”

It doesn’t matter how we start the Christian race. Many explode out of the gate like racehorses, only to stumble along the way. We regularly hear of the failures of Christian leaders. Believers get ensnared by pride, drugs, and sexual sin. 20-year believers sometimes wind up agnostics or atheists. I hope, by God’s grace, I... Continue Reading

When Should We Read Commentaries?

Ask five different pastors this question, and you will get five completely different answers.

The saddest thing of all in my mind is when a pastor thinks he is so much smarter than church history that he doesn’t need to read what anyone else thought on a passage of Scripture. Really? So you’re smarter than Calvin, are you? Smarter than Augustine? You have the Holy Spirit and they did... Continue Reading

Sisters, Beware the Cloning Wars

We must be careful not to conform women into any image but Christ’s.

I want my daughters to see the beauty of God-given roles for men and women made manifest as we express God-given individuality within the boundaries of gospel freedom. Our goal should be to live and teach the whole counsel of God, while leveraging the gifts God has given individuals (1 Cor. 12:4–7; Rom. 12:3–8) for his glory and for... Continue Reading

NCFIC: A New Family Integrated Church Denomination?

Is the National Center for Family Integrated Churches (NCFIC) morphing into a quasi-denomination?

Functionally, the NCFIC is in a unique position to be a denomination-that-is-not-a-denomination, working across existing denominational boundaries.  Will regional Presbyteries have to contend with a presbytery-within-a-presbytery if some of their churches join the NCFIC? The question remains: is the National Center for Family Integrated Churches morphing into a quasi-denomination? Only time will tell.   Is... Continue Reading

The Moment Every Pastor’s Wife Is Waiting For

With all my heart, I long for the day when all God's people--all the members of Christ's church--shall be changed

And I have prayed. I’ve prayed for the sick, the suffering, the imprisoned, the persecuted, the poor, the spiritually dead. I have prayed for the rebellious, the hypocrites, the ignorant ensnared by falsehood. I’ve prayed for the babies and for the baby Christians. I haven’t always seen all the answers. But I wait eagerly for... Continue Reading

Why I Do Not Recommend The Movie, “War Room” (Plus Other Reviews)

Marriages are being saved. Fathers are returning to biblical duty. It's all good. Isn't it?

Worse, as ordained ministers formerly operating under the oversight of their home church, (but no longer) listen to how the brothers decide to move forward with the themes for each of their movies. It isn’t from the Bible. God tells them: We go through the better part of a year, saying, ‘Lord what do you want... Continue Reading

A Grievous Ruin

It is dangerous both for the church and for the fallen pastor’s own soul to remain in a position of spiritual oversight when he is unfit for such a responsibility.

I wonder if the church that has just hired Tchividjian understands the peril in which they have placed him. I wonder also if they understand what hiring as a minister a newly confessed adulterer broadcasts to their church and community. Do they understand what this action communicates about the gravity of adultery and divorce? Do... Continue Reading

Why Should We Study Systematic Theology?

It’s not unusual to find even pastors and professors dismissing dogmatics as an inferior version of the real stuff you get from exegetical or redemptive-historical theology.

The unity of the church demands it. True ecumenicity is not possible apart from robust theological fidelity. Church unity requires doctrinal agreement: “There is one body and one Spirit-just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is... Continue Reading

Virgin Nation: Sexual Purity and American Adolescence

While chastity is a Christian virtue that we should both model and teach, some evangelical parachurch movements have taken it out of its context

As a confessional Christian, I have to wonder where the church fits in to all this movement-based sexual purity. Moslener demonstrates how purity becomes the answer offered to the problem that needs to be cured. While Jesus is presented as necessary to this “personal transformation,” the language used sounds more like a psychological issue for... Continue Reading

Understanding and Interpreting the Commandments

Edward Fisher's rules in Marrow of Modern Divinity for interpreting and applying the Ten Commandments are helpful

The law of God must not just be the rule of our obedience, but also the reason of it.  We must not simply obey the law, but obey it because the Lord requires it; we must do what it says out of love for God; the love of God must be the fountain, the impulsive,... Continue Reading

Seeking a Foundation in the Midst of Pastoral Failures

If you are one of those deeply discouraged by the sins, failures, and failings of Christian leaders, remember who is at the center of truth and of your life.

John says that the message that Jesus brought was not, at its core, a message about you and me. It’s a message that starts with God. This means that the anchor of your life, of reality, of your existence isn’t your pastor. Yes, he is important, he is used by God in incredible ways to... Continue Reading

Killing Sin by the Spirit, Post 3 (Get Grace!)

Here's the truth: We cannot kill sin. We are powerless on our own.

Lots of people will give you lot of ideas about how to be more filled with the Holy Spirit and how to get more grace. They might point you to to the latest best-selling Christian book. Years ago, it would have been The Prayer of Jabez or A Purpose-Driven Life. Today, it might be some book... Continue Reading

False Narratives of Christian Leaders Caught in Abuse

Though false narratives vary with each offending leader and each situation, three types seem to be common amongst offending leaders

The most significant catastrophe in all of this is that false narratives declare to victims that the horrors of their abuse are not nearly as significant as preserving the all important reputation and career of another Christian leader. These individuals find themselves once again exploited and abused by offenders needing to satisfy distorted self-obsessions and... Continue Reading

Europe’s Sinister Expansion of Euthanasia

The trends in Europe should give us pause about where the movement might lead in this country

What’s noteworthy about euthanasia in Europe, though, has been its tendency to expand, once the taboo against physician-aided death was breached in favor of more malleable concepts such as “patient autonomy.” “What is presented at first as a right is going to become a kind of obligation,” Belgian law professor Étienne Montero has warned.  ... Continue Reading

Tullian Tchividjian Hired as Director of Ministry Development at Willow Creek PCA in Winter Springs, Florida

Willow Creek Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) has hired Tchividjian in a ministry staff position.

Tullian Tchividjian Director of Ministry Development We’re so delighted to welcome Tullian Tchividjian to the staff of Willow Creek Church. A graduate of Columbia International University (philosophy) and Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando (M.Div.), Tullian is a best-selling author, having written seven books on the gospel of Jesus Christ and its liberating implications. Most recently,... Continue Reading

The Importance of What We Do in Secret

According to Jesus, it is what we do in secret that matters most.

Nevertheless, hypocrisy lurks everywhere, not least in Christian ministry, and we ignore it at our peril. Godliness must be found in the heart if it is to be genuine. The one who prays more in public than in private, or only gives at special events when likely to be thanked for it, or practices spiritual disciplines... Continue Reading

A Prayer for the Day; A Prayer for a Friend

Praying for spiritual refreshment of those in ministry.

Paul longs to see his brothers and sisters in Rome again. He desires to encourage them and be encouraged by them. He knows that God grants sustaining grace and peace through the Word, prayer, and the fellowship of the saints. So while they are praying for them, he is praying for them as well.   Paul,... Continue Reading

Down the Decadent “Ashley Madison” Avenue

Thirty nine million adulterers, signed onto “the world’s leading married dating service for discreet encounters.”

What the world needs now is genuine expressions of moral purity. Our task is clear: “I urge you, says the Apostle Peter, as sojourners and exiles [in the pagan world] to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against... Continue Reading

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