No Utopias Here

Interview withCarl Trueman on marriage, ministry, emotionalism, and Christians in politics.

Utopias have generally ended up as hells on earth, so even secular history suggests that utopianism is not a good political philosophy. Christians going into politics need to know it’s a question of achieving the best you can, not achieving perfection. Christians supporting Christian politicians need to be patient, bear with them, and pray they... Continue Reading

The Ruling Elder: A Generational Vision

The Bible teaches that a good Elder should be a good father, and a good father looks after his family.

As there were in the Church under the law, elders of the people for the government thereof, so in the Gospel Church, Christ has furnished others besides ministers of the Word with gifts and commission to govern when called thereunto, who are called ruling elders…Ruling elders possess the same authority and eligibility to office in... Continue Reading

How Does A Pastor Demonstrate Courage?

Show up as broken, weak, and needy before the church you pastor.

Let them know you are hurting. Remind them you are not perfect and are not in control. The most courageous pastors are the ones who don’t perform, but rest in their identity in Christ and live in the freedom of being themselves before their people.   Courage in pastors can take on many forms.  However,... Continue Reading

Every Dark Shadow

No one has ever really seen every dark shadow inside of us.

When we do take a head-spinning moment to recognize how deep and pitch black the pit of sin really is, not in other people, but in ourselves, we don’t have to despair. We don’t have to live in fear of being abandoned by our all-knowing God. He sees every dark shadow inside of us. Every... Continue Reading

Portrait of a Deviant Woman

Vulnerable members of the church are frequently portrayed as abnormal and even deserving of suffering

Rather than asking, what could have possibly happened to Jessica to lead to her actions, people instead asked, what kind of perverse person would do this? See the difference there? The portrait of a vulnerable person as deviant allows us to avoid examining our actions towards them. It means we can point the finger. That... Continue Reading

Is Your Faith Working For You?

True faith is about how you live your life out of the overflow of your heart, much more so than it is about what you believe with your brain.

I love theology, doctrine, and academic study of the Bible. But the purpose of the Christian faith is transformation, not information. When you embrace a lifestyle of faith, God will transform you from who you are into someone entirely different (see Isaiah 55). Your faith should transform you from a thorn bush into a cypress... Continue Reading

Betsy DeVos’ Pursuit Of Justice

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced last week plans to scrap Obama-era rules for colleges and universities dealing with sexual assault claims on campus.

“Before the Obama administration instructed colleges and universities that they had to take sexual-assault allegations seriously—or risk losing federal funds—the system was way too disposed to discourage complaints,” wrote Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus. “But the Obama administration’s move also prompted an overcorrection at some institutions that failed to do enough to protect the rights... Continue Reading

Teen Reversing His Gender Transition

Doctors say the 14-year-old’s case shows the problem with ‘gender-affirming care.’

“It’s the most incomprehensible thing I’ve come across in all my time of medicine,” said Western Sydney University professor John Whitehall, according to the Daily Telegraph. “Prepubertal children have no idea about sexuality and choices of procreation afterwards. We’re messing with their limbic system and expecting them to make this great evaluation.”   (WNS)–An Australian... Continue Reading

How the Reformation Spread

From Wittenberg to Geneva to England, the seeds of the Reformation that were planted in Germany sprouted into full bloom as they made their way into the English empire

“The rapid expanse of the Reformation was hinted at from the very beginning when the Ninety-five Theses were posted on the church door (intended for theological discussion among the faculty). Without Luther’s knowledge and permission, his theses were translated from Latin into German and duplicated on the printing press and spread to every village in... Continue Reading

Are Protestants Closer to Catholics than Martin Luther? A Response to the Recent Pew Study (Part 2)

A recent Pew study claimed that modern Protestants sound more like Catholics when it comes to issues like sola scriptura and sola fide

“On a fundamental level, the survey options do not allow for a very important distinction the Reformers made, namely the distinction between the instrument of justification (faith) and the results of justification (good works). Reformed folks would certainly affirm that faith alone is the instrument by which God justifies a sinner.  But, this does not... Continue Reading

The Chance of Salvation: An Interview with Lincoln Mullen

Religious identity in the United States is profoundly a matter of individual choice

“Many of the converts I describe in the book initially had their religious identities destabilized by encountering other faiths. One New Yorker, for instance, was a disciple of Christian Science at the same time that he attended Congregationalist or Methodist preaching on Sundays and joined Catholic classes for potential converts. People who encountered other faiths... Continue Reading

Jury Duty and Judgment Day

One of the greatest days of my life was when I was summoned for jury duty

“The judge’s job was to ensure that the people were able to remain unbiased. Her questions were simple. Questions like: are you willing to consider giving someone a financial award based on pain and suffering? Is there any reason why you wouldn’t be able to be fair in your judgment in this case?”   One... Continue Reading

5 Tasks Every Pastor Needs To Do Today (And Every Day)

Several principles rise to a high level of importance when considering the subject of pastoral ministry

True pastoring always begins with personal holiness. In 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul tells Timothy “Keep a close watch on yourself.” The word “watch” means “to be vigilant” or “to pay close attention.” A pastor needs to give careful attention to his own soul because he is called to be a holy man.   Whole books... Continue Reading

Book Review: Pastor Unique

Pastor Unique is about turnaround pastors in the sense of long-term (not transitional or interim) pastors, who seek to lead their stagnant congregations to great commission effectiveness

“Brown, Penfold and Westra maintain that we can identify the best practices of turnaround pastors, and with the help of the Spirit of God, accurate assessment, immersion training, mentoring and cluster groups of like-minded individuals, we—non-turnaround-pastor types can become turnaround pastors. “   This is not just another book. We didn’t need another indictment of the... Continue Reading

Protestants: The Most ‘Catholic’ of Christians

New confession by high-profile theologians gives post-Reformation unity a URL

“The new statement of faith, crafted by a team of Protestant theologians and church leaders, aims to show that Protestants are actually more catholic (meaning ‘universal’) than Roman Catholics, who demand allegiance to the Roman pontiff, or than Orthodox Christians, who reject the claims of Rome but still rely heavily on apostolic succession to guarantee... Continue Reading

John Calvin: Method of Preaching

In Calvin we have a man who gave his all for Christ

“By examining historical data about his manner of life and written material from his method of preaching, I have deliberately aimed to prove that he is a worthy example for ministers of the Word of God.”   While Calvin’s life certainly did leave ministers a worthy example, we will consider now the second matter of... Continue Reading

Calvin’s Theology: Nearly All the Wisdom We Possess

"Nearly all the wisdom we possess, that is to say, true and sound wisdom, consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves."

True wisdom comes from above and that involves our knowing God and understanding ourselves in light of this God who has revealed himself to us in nature and Scripture. We were never meant to understand ourselves and our world without reference to God. This is especially true now that we are in rebellion against the... Continue Reading

Understanding Spiritual Gifts: 4 Lessons from J.I. Packer

“All Christians have gifts and tasks of their own within the church’s total ministry.”

Perhaps it feels audacious to claim discernment as our gift and no less prideful to claim wisdom or mercy. For others, defining their gift puts pressure on them and they’d rather leave ministry to the “professionals.” Still others simply have no idea how to begin to discover what our gifts actually are.   Ask your... Continue Reading

Teaching Young Children About The Reformation: It’s Complicated

I will readily acknowledge that there may not be a perfect answer to how to present this material to the 5-10 age group.

So what are the options? On one end of the spectrum is the “all in” option and you can use the curriculum as published and figure the editorial changes are appropriate and helpful for the audience. On the other end is the option to not use the lesson, or use the lesson but drop the... Continue Reading

In all things, charity: A progressive Christian believes in these core values

I do have some things to say to conservatives as they go, offered in the spirit of “in all things, charity.”

It seems to me, right now, that fearful conservative Christians are taking a different tack, by allying with the Republican Party, trying to use political power to maintain Christian cultural privilege. What these Christians are doing is crucifying Jesus again by aligning with the Wall Street rich, the climate deniers, the fascist marchers in Charlottesville and... Continue Reading

60 Percent of Pastors’ Spouses Say Church Salary Not Enough to Meet Needs: LifeWay

"The factors that seem to matter the most for our analyses is the very slow growth rates of male clergy income and, relatedly, the general devaluing of the clergy occupation."

“About a third (36 percent) say they worry every month about making ends meet. Forty-six percent say they worry about not being able to save for the future. Sixty percent say the compensation paid by the church isn’t enough to support their family,” noted LifeWay.   Nearly two-thirds of pastors’ spouses have said that the salary... Continue Reading

Three Tests God Ordains for His People

Knowing that tests are purposeful, we can rest, understanding that the Master is fully in control of both the test and the outcome.

As a teacher, I don’t ask test questions because I need to know the answers. I ask questions because my students need to know the answers. Likewise, God ordains tests for us, not for his sake, but for ours. He ordains tests today just as he did in the Old Testament with the testing of his people,... Continue Reading

Nothing Out of the Ordinary

"You cannot tell me that something is not going on here, with all of these disasters. Something is happening.”

This is what we should expect in a world whose beginnings were moral insurrection. The earth groans. Earth’s machinations have been rewired to be against us, instead of for us. The ground pushes back. And the sky, the sea, the animals, each other, and even our own bodies.   A few days ago I was... Continue Reading

Free to Love

love is joyfully and willfully sacrificing yourself to serve others by doing them good.

This is what we see in the gospel, and this is what Christians endeavor to do as we respond to the gospel. The gospel is the most heart-melting and liberating truth. It models and motivates true love.   What is love? And how do we love others? There is unlikely a word that is more familiar... Continue Reading

We Are Not Germs: The Case for Human Dignity

Christianity teaches that human dignity is rooted in the holiness of God; it reflects God’s dignity.

If you call me to sacrificial, altruistic action in behalf of human beings, you better have a reason. And it should be greater than simply, we should be for people because we’re people. Because unless we can establish that it means something to be people, it’s pure emotion. And rights granted on the basis of... Continue Reading

Fine Dining or Dumpster Diving: A Paradigm for Activist Theology

The knowledge derived from secular ideology will always look foolish when compared to the wisdom derived from Scripture.

The ideologies and theories of today are not radical enough to carry the freight of contemporary issues, but the Bible is more than adequate for the task.  After all, it is “God-breathed,” therefore it “is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness (II Timothy 3:16).  The knowledge derived from secular ideology will always look foolish... Continue Reading

Marlon “Big Dog” Brown: A Story of Redemption and Hope

We can make a significant difference in the lives of those in need by serving them.

For the last 13 years, Brown has worked full time for Service Over Self (SOS) to arrange and direct crews of college and high school students to renovate and repair the houses of low-income Memphis residents during the students’ summer and spring breaks. In addition, he has spent countless hours befriending and aiding the city’s... Continue Reading

Beyond Symbolic Gestures: The PCA and Underprivileged Women

Collateral damage: Abused women whose churches fail to minister to and care for them.

On the one hand, Jessica was encouraged. This was the first acknowledgement from a church court that her church leaders had wronged her. The RPR Committee had officially (for the second time in two years) cited her presbytery. Perhaps members of her church might begin to question the ways Jessica had been characterized and treated... Continue Reading

Winning One Another

Nothing less than one’s eternal destiny is at stake when someone wanders.

God the Holy Spirit turns wanderers back to Himself, but He ordinarily uses people to do so, just as He uses means to bring people to saving faith in the first place. Just as God will use our faithful prayers and proclamation of the gospel for the saving of His elect, He will use our... Continue Reading

Forgive Me Not

Should we forgive someone who does not ask for our forgiveness or does not show repentance in the asking?

When we stand praying and forgive someone who has wronged us, we take it upon ourselves to undertake the heart work of forgiveness. When the wrongs we have forgiven others resurface uninvited in our minds, we must cry out to our God: “I do forgive; help me in my unforgiveness.”   There is a debate... Continue Reading

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