In the Name of Grace
Today grace is being enlisted not as an enablement to obedience but as a conspirator to concupiscence.
But the grace promoted today is a grace without backbone, an invertebrate, jellyfish-like grace. It is all warm and squishy, and sounds so Christian. It is touted as loving, embracing, affirming, tolerating. Such grace is accepting without being expecting. It makes no demands. It holds no expectations. It stamps sins “forgiven” and gives the green... Continue Reading
Worship According to the Word
Concern for the proper worship of God was central to the Reformation, even as it is central to our most important theological debates today
While all Christians affirm the necessity and reality of the experiential dimension of faith, the experience must be grounded in and accountable to the Word of God. This is of central importance to the question of worship, for, left to our own devices, we will be inclined to seek worship that meets our desire for... Continue Reading
Looking for a Good Fight
Some conflicts are well worth having, and some you cannot avoid.
As a pastor you are an under-shepherd of Jesus Christ, but you must actively shepherd. We have to fear God more than sheep; if you live in fear of sheep, you don’t know your mission or calling. Some sheep have more “fleece” than others, as in wealthy tithers and donors. Some people have influence and they know it, and God help... Continue Reading
We Ask You To Abstain
Historic Reformed and Presbyterian churches have always “fenced” the table of the Lord.
Again, we might discuss and debate how “high” the fence is around the table, but it is biblical (see citations above) and wise to clearly tell unbelievers and unrepentant persons that they are not to take the Lord’s Supper. It might not sound politically correct or “nice,” but it is a biblical help in keeping... Continue Reading
You Are Dust, Not Divine
We dusty, sinful human beings face a ridiculous temptation: self-reliance.
One of my favorite passages in the whole Bible is Psalm 103. I pray it often, and focus on these words: “For he knows our frame; he remembers that we are dust.” These words tell us that even while we pray to the all-knowing and all-powerful God, we do so as created beings who were... Continue Reading
The Effect of Singing
Paul instructs us that worship is vital to encouraging one another and building each other up
This can be of particular encouragement when a Christian comes to church after a particularly hard or discouraging week. We might feel so low and downcast that we have nothing to lift up before God and no ability to turn our attention to God with thanksgiving. Yet the singing of others and our own singing... Continue Reading
First Overtures of the First American Presbytery
First overtures from the first presbytery in the American colonies
These first overtures of this small but soon to be active Presbytery stated clearly that the message of biblical Christianity was to propagated throughout the new world in obedience to the Word of God. At subsequent meetings of the Philadelphia Presbytery, it was noted that these first three overtures were being accomplished. At the... Continue Reading
7 Things I’ve Learned In 30+ Years Of Pastoral Ministry
I don’t consider myself an expert, but thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned over the years
“Even if someone’s criticism is completely off, there’s almost always something we can learn. James tells us to be quick to listen and slow to speak. Often when someone brings us negative criticism, our first reaction can be to defend ourselves or write them off. Someone’s critique may not be 100% correct, but I’ve found... Continue Reading
What Pastoral Lessons Did I Learn Caring For a 106 Year Old Widow?
If you have these kinds of elderly folks in your church, you are a blessed pastor
“If there is someone in our church that has been walking with the Lord long before we were born, they will probably have a thing or two to teach us about life. It may not be about the atonement, the active and passive obedience of Christ, or a complex breakdown of eschatology. There is, however, much they can teach... Continue Reading
Concerning The True Care Of Souls
Bucer’s understanding of pastoral ministry was historically important and personally challenging
“I’m struck by the fact that his definition of pastoral ministry is all about the people to whom we minister. The focus is not on administration (though I’m sure he did some of that), nor on programs (though I’m not against them), nor on meetings (though we all have them), but on the people that... Continue Reading
7 Celebrities Who Are Destined for Hell When They Die
I know, it sounds harsh. But these are the implications of these celebrities’ lack of belief
“I realize that God could work in their lives at some point, bringing them to faith in Jesus Christ and repentance for the wickedness of sin in their lives, but as it stands now, all seven are not bound for the promised land.” I wrote a post earlier this week about seven celebrities who... Continue Reading
Let’s Stop Expecting Islam to be Christian
One of the hot new trends in religious opinion today is to advocate for an “Islamic reformation”
“There are indeed temperate, moderate followers of Islam. And we should hope their number increases in proportion to the number who are neither temperate nor moderate. But to claim that moderates alone are “real Muslims” is an act of historical and religious revisionism that is fooling no one—except, perhaps, us Westerners.” One of the... Continue Reading
7 Ways to Combat Competition in Motherhood
When we race against one another, we are left worn and weary in our pursuits
“How can we change our playground interactions from times of discouragement to encouragement? What are some ways we can build up the other mothers in our lives instead of seeking to get ahead in the race? Here are seven ways to combat competition in motherhood.” Inevitably, as soon as children come into our lives,... Continue Reading
Marriage: The Modern Day Litmus Test For Inerrancy
Inerrancy means that the Bible, in its original manuscripts, is 'without error in all that it affirms'
“In other words, by the time a Church legitimizes “same sex marriage”, it has already ceased to be a Church. The shift on a biblical idea of God and his Word has already happened and the result is a people who have created God in their own image, and whom he has given over to... Continue Reading
New Obamacare Tax Law May Affect Churches
New tax rule in conjunction with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may affect churches
“The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) points out a viable option for churches affected by the rule, which is to increase employees’ overall taxable compensation without requiring that the additional income be used to purchase health coverage.” A new tax rule in conjunction with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act may affect... Continue Reading
Is the Church Failing Gay Christians?
Thoughts on a discussion among Steve Chalke, Ed Shaw, Rosaria Butterfield, and Jayne Ozanne
Even though the conversation was polite and civil, it was rather awkward on this point. Their discussion reveals that there can be no underlying evangelical unity when people differ over this issue. It’s impossible to construct a “pastoral” response that includes deeply unfaithful, harmful, unbiblical, and unchristian perspectives. Biblical truth is the foundation of any... Continue Reading
Sing Your Heart Out
The Gospel enables and encourages us to take up theologically rich Psalms and hymns and to sing our hearts out to God
Much of the scriptural teaching about the beauty of loud congregational singing has been lost by the injuries that have been sustained by both sides in the worship wars. In many performance-driven congregations worship teams overpower congregational singing and the singing that happens is akin to the drowned out admiration singing at a concert. In... Continue Reading
“Righteous” Reputations of Churches That Don’t Care
Why do so many churches fail to do the right thing when they learn that one of their own has been accused of sexual abuse?
What is the right thing to do when a church learns that one of its own has been accused of victimizing a child? First and foremost, it must immediately turn its focus and care away from institutional reputation and towards the victimized and the vulnerable. Though there are multitudes of ways this can be... Continue Reading
In College and Hiding From Scary Ideas
What will they do when they hear opinions they’ve learned to shrink from?
The confusion is telling, though. It shows that while keeping college-level discussions “safe” may feel good to the hypersensitive, it’s bad for them and for everyone else. People ought to go to college to sharpen their wits and broaden their field of vision. Shield them from unfamiliar ideas, and they’ll never learn the discipline of... Continue Reading
Being Soul Sad for My Church
I felt the deep loss of being soul sad this past week when the belief and dedication to the Bible died in the Presbyterian Church (USA)
Last week it became our Presbytery’s time to vote, not that our vote would matter, the manipulators and schemers had, during the General Assembly Meeting last July, already put into effect the Authoritative Interpretation that negated any real power to divert or correct the plunge of the Presbyterian Church USA into apostasy. However, it was... Continue Reading
5 Reasons to Rejoice in Persecution
In your suffering you really can rejoice.
It is still remarkably easy to be a Christian here in North America. We have never faced systemic persecution. We have laws that protect our freedom to worship and our freedom to believe what we believe. That’s not to say, though, that we never suffer. We still do face scorn and mockery, and especially so... Continue Reading
Our Fundamentalist Founders?
Reading Locke reminded me that Christian influences on the founding of the Republic were significant
Locke’s influence on the American founders can hardly be denied. When he writes of life, liberty, and the pursuit of private property—he repeatedly used the expression “life, liberty, and estate” or variants—it sounds almost as if the Founders retroactively wrote some Lockean passages. It’s a good reminder of our national cultural, political roots. The interweb... Continue Reading
How Many Millennials are Evangelical in Name Only?
Liberal ideology under the cloak of Evangelicalism is a growing trend.
Liberal Evangelical authors tell young Evangelicals that if they accept abortion and same-sex marriage, then the media, academia and Hollywood will finally accept Christians. Out of fear of being falsely dubbed intolerant or without compassionate, many young Christians are buying into theological falsehoods. Millennials are forgoing the authority of Scripture and embracing a cafeteria-style Christianity... Continue Reading
A Message from the Redeemer Seminary Board of Trustees Executive Committee
In decisions involving personnel and employment, not all matters can be addressed in public forums.
Redeemer’s statement of Core Values on Unity in the Church includes the following, “we are called to ‘bear with one another in love with all patience and humility’ and ‘make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.’ ” The Seminary invites all concerned “to pray, lifting up holy... Continue Reading
LifeWay Pulls All ‘Heaven Tourism’ Titles in Doubts Over Authenticity and Theology
The decision follows a 2014 Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) resolution on "the sufficiency of Scripture regarding the afterlife"
The SBC resolution warned Christians against allowing “the numerous books and movies purporting to explain or describe the afterlife experience” to “become their source and basis for an understanding of the afterlife” and affirmed “the sufficiency of biblical revelation over subjective experiential explanations to guide one’s understanding of the truth about heaven and hell”. ... Continue Reading
When It’s Time For Some RICO Indictments
In Reformed circles evangelical racketeering is more common than many of the evangelical public realize.
Huge money is being made behind the scenes, which helps to explain the manner in which even friendly critics are often treated by such organizations. It also explains the comparative silence about these things in the public sphere: the men of stature who could and should speak out are often invested in the racket themselves... Continue Reading
Young People’s Greatest Problem Is…
Matthew Henry says, “I have seen more young people ruined by pride than perhaps by any one lust whatsoever.”
If Matthew Henry had designed Facebook instead of Mark Zuckerberg, we would be posting status updates on our failings, our faults, and our bad-hair days. And we’d be posting photos of others’ victories, achievements, and successes. ….Pride. At least, according to Matthew Henry. In his little book, Sober-Mindedness Pressed Upon Young People, Henry says,... Continue Reading
Why So Many Young Christians Are Leaving Their Churches — And Coming Back Again
A millennial's thoughts on faith and church membership
Many of my friends have started returning to their childhood church communities, if for no other reason than it feels more faithful to recommit to what they already know than commit to uncertainty. As for me, I’ve decided to recommit to going to church with my husband rather than continuing the search alone. I am... Continue Reading
The Christian and Common Grace
Temporal sufferings, like temporal blessings, are an opportunity to bring glory to God.
As much as I may, at times, be quick to think that people are basically good, I confess that there is another side of common grace that confounds me. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust (Matthew 5:45). I... Continue Reading
Despite Assurances, Should PCUSA Pastors Worry about Their Future and Same-Sex Marriage?
PCUSA officials have been quick to offer assurances that no pastor would be forced to conduct a same-sex wedding and no church would be forced to host one.
So, for now the authority to marry same-sex people in Presbyterian churches is permissive and not compulsory. “But,” LaBerge commented, “If this is a genuine justice issue, which supporters of marriage redefinition claim, then how long do you think they’re really going to be willing for the denomination to limp along between two opinions? How... Continue Reading