Note to Aspiring Preachers: Here are Seven Key Pitfalls to Avoid
Preaching is hard work.
To those sitting in the pews, preaching can look relatively effortless–especially when it is done well. But do not be fooled. Preaching exhausts the body and the soul in ways that are incommensurate with its duration. I could work in the yard all day in 90 degrees of heat and (somehow) feel less exhausted than... Continue Reading
Hughes Oliphant Old Called Home to Glory
Dr. Old is the author of a seven volume history of preaching, “The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church.”
Dr. Old’s interests extended from Christian education, particularly with teenagers and special needs children, to art, architecture, and above all, worship. It is the importance of worship which sparked his desire to study further the history of worship. With this in mind he went to Europe, where for seven years he learned the principles applied... Continue Reading
Don’t Back Away from Religious Freedom
We must reject antidiscrimination rhetoric used against religious freedom; conscience should be protected, not judged.
We must be sure that the general public understands clearly what they are rejecting when they reject religious freedom. They are requiring believers to take action which believers understand to be immoral and sinful. No one should have to pay for other people’s choices in contraceptives, abortifacients, or other goods and services that they believe... Continue Reading
States Sue Obama Administration Over Transgender Bathroom Policy
Texas said it was among 11 states filing suit against the Obama administration’s mandate to allow transgender students to use whatever bathroom they identify with
“He says he’s going to withhold funding if schools do not follow the policy,” Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick of Texas said this month. “Well in Texas, he can keep his 30 pieces of silver. We will not yield to blackmail from the president of the United States.” On Wednesday, officials in other states used language... Continue Reading
A De-Sexed Society is a De-Humanized Society
President Obama’s transgender directive isn’t about civil rights or bathroom use. It’s about state control over personal relationships.
Gender ideology is an effective statist tool. Cultural Marxists use it to corrupt language and sow confusion, especially among children. It paves the way for the removal of the institutional protections for freedom of association and family privacy that stand in the way of “regulating interactions among all members of society.” As usual, tyranny... Continue Reading
Helping Rural America in Crisis
It is well documented that small town America rarely looks like Mayberry, and a lot like “Methland.”
The crisis we witness in these areas is a crisis for the church. After all, hopelessness, despair, and depression can only be interpreted, mitigated, and worked through by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, it is these areas that are becoming a veritable wasteland as Protestant churches are closing their doors in great number–not to... Continue Reading
Feelings of Guilt: Satan’s Conniving or the Spirit’s Conviction?
In one section of Thomas Goodwin’s book called “A Child of Light Walking in Darkness,” he explains how Satan tricks and deceives a true Christian so that he doubts his salvation.
A question comes up: How do we know if the guilt we feel is due to Satan’s conniving or due to the conviction of the Holy Spirit (John 16:8)? Goodwin says that the difference is this: when the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sins He deals “sweetly” with us without putting any “sting” in... Continue Reading
The Language of Love
Well-meaning Christians who rightly want to love and care for their neighbor can quickly become the unwitting dupes of those with much greater social and political ambitions than live-and-let-live.
In this context, it behooves all Christians to think clearly about the issues and to make that separation between pastoral response to, and care for, the person struggling with issues of sexuality and the larger social ambitions of a movement that has a vested interest in denying any distinction between the personal and the political.... Continue Reading
Back to the Future – the 2009 Church of Scotland General Assembly
The 2009 Church of Scotland Assembly set a trajectory that is now bearing fruit of the declension of the church and its abandonment of biblical truth.
The seriousness of what occurred on Monday is underlined by the reason the Aberdeen Presbytery gave for supporting an active homosexual ministry. The Presbytery stated in their reasons –“The ‘Word of God’ is not synonymous with the Scriptures, but it can, in part, be discerned from the Scriptures through prayer and through the inspiration of... Continue Reading
The Flow of the Psalms
An overview of O. Palmer Robertson’s latest book, “The Flow of the Psalms’”
Robertson’s thesis is that we shouldn’t treat the Psalms like Hershey’s Kisses – beautifully, individually wrapped treats that have no relationship to one another. He argues that there is a flow to the Psalter, a very deliberate, sophisticated arrangement and a logical progression over the course of the 150 ancient songs that were collected together... Continue Reading
Confession and Apologetics: Modeling Scripture’s Method to its Message
The Bible’s own verification of its being God-breathed should be our primary default
Gordon Clark writes, “The first reason for believing the Bible is inspired is that the Bible claims to be inspired.” And so we see “Christ’s view of the Bible can very quickly be indicated. Christ said: It is written!” A Biblical apologist thus grounds the warrant for his witnessing style in the same manner as... Continue Reading
A Danger of Lectio Divina
Lectio Divina often leads us away from the right meaning and right application of a text instead of toward it.
What is the heart of the problem here? It is that the method leads to subjective, rather than objective, conclusions. When we stop the hard work of understanding the words that the Spirit has given us and work exclusively in the “mind of the Spirit,” we become the final authority on meaning. We begin to... Continue Reading
Same-Sex Marriage Advocates Work To Oust Small-Town Judge
The Wyoming Supreme Court is being asked to dismiss a municipal court judge because of her biblical views about marriage; is it a religious litmus test for holding a judicial post?
In 2014, a judge overturned Wyoming’s marriage statute, allowing same-sex couples to get marriage licenses. A reporter asked Neely, the Pinedale municipal court judge and a part-time circuit court magistrate, if she was excited about performing gay weddings. In the opinion of the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics, Neely gave the wrong answer:... Continue Reading
A Presbytery PJC Ruling On A Same-Sex Marriage Policy In The PC(USA)
It is worth reiterating at this point that this decision is from a presbytery PJC and has limited application. If appealed and upheld it would gain authoritative status.
“This decision is reminiscent of the remedial cases regarding ordination standards and the various GAPJC rulings that there could be no categorical standards or explicit lists of essential tenants but each candidate must be considered on an individual basis. From a polity point of view this decision falls right in line with that.” I... Continue Reading
Court ‘Win’ for Nonprofits Has A Lot Of What-Ifs
The Supreme Court’s strange Little Sisters ruling gives religious nonprofits a significant reprieve, but the fight is long from over
The court’s ruling vacated and remanded to lower courts all the religious nonprofits’ cases challenging the Obamacare requirement that employers provide health coverage for contraceptives and abortifacients. It was a qualified victory and the best outcome the nonprofits could hope for if the court was divided 4-4 on the merits of the case—as seems likely.... Continue Reading
PCUSA Leaders Try To Make Sense Of Dwindling Membership
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has seen 463 congregations nationwide depart for other denominations between 2012 and 2015.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) lost 6 percent of its membership in 2015, and that came after three consecutive years of 5 percent declines. Current membership is just under 1.6 million. The Pittsburgh Presbytery, still one of the nation’s largest, saw a 7 percent decline to 28,518 last year. Yes, the Rev. Sheldon Sorge has... Continue Reading
How to Honor Your Parents as an Adult
Scripture is very clear that the way we treat our parents has significant ramifications, not only for our physical life, but our spiritual one as well.
As we saw earlier Paul says that we are worse than an unbeliever when we do not take care of our parents. As I have listened to financial stewardship podcasts over the years, one thing that really struck me was how many people who really want to help their parents are dealing with corrupt family... Continue Reading
He Who Sought Was Found
If you want a rich God-centered and Christ-centered collection of older sermons for devotional purposes, I highly recommend Vos’ Grace and Glory.
Most of us know the story of Zacchaeus climbing the tree to see Jesus (Lk 19). Have you ever noticed the “seeking” aspect of it? The story starts out by mentioning the fact that Zacchaeus is seeking (ζητέω) to see Jesus (v3) . A the end of the story we learn that Jesus’ mission as... Continue Reading
Read Wodehouse and Read the Bible
Wodehouse, the product of a more biblically-versed era and, admittedly, a brilliant writer, was constantly making biblical allusions.
One reason to read Wodehouse is to admire his use of the Bible. I don’t think he had much of a faith commitment, but his biblical literacy is astounding. For example, take this from the opening pages of The Code of the Woosters, where Bertie is complaining about his rough sleep the night before: “I... Continue Reading
Sunday School, The Role Of Women, Authority, And Culture
All non-ecclesiastical or extra-ecclesiastical instruction is just that. It is has the status of opinion.
In the episode mentioned, Carl articulated a general rule, with some exceptions (e.g., a licensed seminary student who exhorts in public worship), that a female may do in the church what an unordained male may do. If we observe the distinction between authoritative and non-authoritative teaching, this rule seems sound. When Aimee writes books, she... Continue Reading
A Few Thoughts on Goodbyes
The pangs of sadness, the difficulty of change, the disconnection from others, will all be a thing of the past when we live and worship together as one united Bride in the life to come.
Saying goodbye also reminds us that life is fleeting. In the busyness of our daily life, we forget that time is passing on. Goodbyes are a poignant reminder that life has an end date. And because of that, goodbyes often bring regret. Regret that we didn’t spend more time with our loved ones. Regret that... Continue Reading
Luther, God’s Law and Uncle Rico Syndrome
One function of God's law is to (kindly) disabuse us of our confidence in our ability to throw moral footballs over metaphorical mountains
Luther’s response in his 1525 Bondage of the Will takes cognizance of how high Scripture actually sets the bar for man’s moral conduct (“You must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” Matt. 5.48) as well as rather clear biblical statements that reflect man’s spiritual depravity and (hence) inability to clear that bar (“Everyone... Continue Reading
The Backside Blessings of Blogging
After blogging over a number of years, I have enjoyed at least these five blessings
Thoughts are clarified. As the old saying goes, “Over the lips and fingertips come clear thoughts.” As we discuss ideas and then put them down on paper (or pixels in this case), tangled thoughts become unknotted and disjointed ones strung together. In writing on theological and cultural issues on the blog, I find that I am better... Continue Reading
The Gospel is NOT for Sharing
Why Not Share the Gospel?
Consequently, we find ourselves and the people in our churches only willing to speak the gospel if we perceive openness on the part of another, only if someone wants to hear what we have to say. But the gospel has never been and will never be innately desirable or en vogue. It’s a message of... Continue Reading
The Federal Vision and Regeneration
The errors of the Federal Vision cannot be properly understood without recognizing that regeneration has been denied or made of little consequence in the redemption of sinners.
All of this is relevant with respect to the Federal Vision because there are some of their advocates who assert that regeneration is not a change of the essence of the soul. Hodge saw that position as a denial of both regeneration and original sin. Some modern opponents of the Federal Vision have overlooked their... Continue Reading
First Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Ala., Our Repentance and Restoration on Racism
First Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Montgomery repents of its past practice of and sin of racism.
We acknowledge the sin of our fathers. In particular, we acknowledge that the sin of racism was present in First Presbyterian Church of Montgomery. Let it be known that this is no longer the heart of the church and that all peoples are welcome. “First Presbyterian? Who, Where? … Oh yeah, that’s the church... Continue Reading
Losing Our Christian Minds
Of all the things we’ve lost as Christians, I think we miss our Christian minds the most
“The Christian mind is the mind that processes everything through the grid of its intimate relationship with Jesus. The Christian mind, therefore, is not simply a mind that thinks on Christ or the mind that attempts to think in Christian categories. The Christian mind is a mind that refuses to think at all unless it... Continue Reading
Innocence Lost … and Regained
Their hearts grieve, but with hope. They will see her again, and never be parted.
“In their minds are pictures of a nursery with soft blankets and toys on the floor. Then it’s time, the wait’s almost over. The tech starts to measure and scan. But what’s this? She seems worried and tense. Why won’t she answer?” The young couple, with stars in their eyes, Walks hand in hand... Continue Reading
Ten Things You Should Know about Generation Z
The demographics are breathtaking. And the signs are, to a large extent, hopeful.
“They will be the largest generation in history. Each of their birth years is already a large cohort. By the time 2020 concludes, this generation will include about 82 million people. They will supplant the Millennials who supplanted the Boomers as the largest generation.” I doubt the generational name will stick, but for now... Continue Reading
Ten Things I Learned at Church on Sunday
Each week the service is like a fresh painting of grace upon my soul
“As I was reflecting on this past Lord’s Day I was struck by a number of things particularly encouraging to me. God met us as a church in the ordinary and showed us his extraordinary faithfulness, grace, beauty, and power. I compiled 10 quick observations about what affected me this weekend alone.” Sundays are pretty... Continue Reading