The Real Meaning of Christmas
One of the most remarkable stories of Christmas comes from one of the darkest moments of modern history
Events like the Christmas Truce are worth celebrating. But they lack something. They lack permanence. Such impermanent peace is what we often find in our quest for the real meaning of Christmas. If we are looking for permanent and ultimate goodwill, love, and peace, we must look beyond our gift-giving, get-togethers, and office parties. We... Continue Reading
An Open Letter to Clarence the Angel (From the Film ‘It’s A Wonderful Life’)
What’s the occasion of this, my very first “Angel” letter? I realize it’s a tad tardy, but it’s regarding the movie that made you famous
Does following Jesus mean one will have a wonderful life? Instead, Jesus promises a joyful life, even amidst significant suffering. In theological language, to expect a wonderful life now is to have an over-realized eschatology. We’re living between two worlds, the now and the not yet. In other words, Clarence, the reason this isn’t a wonderful life... Continue Reading
Nelson Mandela, 1918-2013
The man who reconciled a divided South Africa dies at age 95
Spinney noted that Mandela, post-prison, was a peacemaker: “Whatever his youthful allegiances, post-1990 he prevented blacks from going violent. He was not vindictive; he sought and obtained reconciliation with whites. The people who really benefited from Nelson Mandela’s leadership were white South Africans. Rather than being driven out of South Africa by justifiably angry blacks,... Continue Reading
PCUSA’s Covenant Network Marriage ‘Adaptation’ Tilts the Table
Covenant Network within the Presbyterian Church USA pushing the 2014 PCUSA General Assembly to take the next step in sexual revisionism: the redefinition of Christian marriage
Same-sex advocates can assert that Jesus never said anything directly about homosexuality — it was not a topic of debate among Jews of His time — however, they cannot claim that Jesus never addressed marriage. Nor can they deny that the theme of marriage as the two created sexes “becoming one flesh,” imaging the union... Continue Reading
Plagiarism, Personality-Driven Leadership, and the Problem With Evangelicalism
The recent dust-up within evangelical circles over accusations of plagiarism highlights one of the problems with the personality-based leadership that encompasses most of American evangelicalism
Because of the personality-driven leadership inherent in contemporary evangelicalism, the tribalism it nurtures, and the reality that most of American evangelicalism subsists in some variation of the free church tradition, the final outcome of this story is clear. There is no authority that can adjudicate this matter other than the authority upon which both Driscoll and Mefferd... Continue Reading
A Hidden Assumption in the Paedo-Communion Position
Paedo-communion is contrary to the system of doctrine taught in the Westminster Confession and strikes at the vitals of religion
What effect will that have on the young child who cannot yet participate? Well, he will have the gospel preached to him such that conversion might happen. Further than that, he will learn about the Lord’s Supper. Both of these things should help create a longing for that communion. This creation of a longing for... Continue Reading
Things Christians Struggle With – Part 3: Finances
There is no evidence that the debt of professing Christians is little different from the general populace
How Christians handle their finances is not the only way they bring glory to God before a watching world, and demonstrate their sanctification. But it is an important aspect of both. Therefore, the body of Christ needs to be diligent in pursuing excellence in this area. As Christ told His followers, “For where your treasure... Continue Reading
A Miracle or Coincidence
Every now and then, unforeseen and special things happen and fill us with wonderment
WOW! I’m looking for one person in the world, not sure how to get in touch with him, and a friend writes and says out of the blue, Oh, by the way, I just had lunch with this man. What are the odds of that? And to make the story even sweeter, it turns out... Continue Reading
Race, Homosexuality and Historical Confusion
The comparison between homosexuality and slavery falls short.
This supposed parallel between Christians in the past using the Bible to justify slavery and the contemporary Church using Scripture to condemn homosexuality is both misleading and confused in its account of church history. Historically, there is no connection between Christian attitudes towards slavery and homosexuality. One approach of gay-affirming scholarship has been to... Continue Reading
A Testimony to the Impact of Christian Rap
The Lord used Christian Hip Hop to drive me to reformed theology!
The production was top quality, the rhymes were absolutely “off the hook” (a good thing by the way), but it was more than the beats and lyrics. From the moment the first song blasted through the headphones, I recognized that these brothers truly had something to say about Christ and His Gospel! Something deeper than... Continue Reading
Cultivating a Christian Memory
Celebrating Advent reminds us that our Christianity transcends national borders and our place in history.
As Christians, when we participate in the various seasons of the church calendar, we are reminded that we are presently connected to Christians all over the world and with brothers and sisters in Christ over the past 2000 years. This rhythm and memory is bigger than any national holiday. It transcends nationalism. When you... Continue Reading
United States Faces Demographic Bomb, Coming Underpopulation Problems
A low birth rate in the U.S. will lead to more economic stagnation just as it has in Europe.
There is no baby-boom – there is a birth-dearth. And, yes, there is economic stagnation and looming long-term economic decline, but this is exacerbated (or perhaps caused by) the decline in birth rates. We have witnessed this in the disastrous economic situation throughout Europe, which is due in part to extremely low birth rates. Europe’s fate appears increasingly... Continue Reading
The Boomer Bust
Here we are in the baby boom cosmos. What have we wrought?
Self is like fish, proverbially speaking. Give a man a fish and you’ve fed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and, if he turns into a dry-fly catch-and-release angling fanatic up to his liver in icy water wearing ridiculous waders and an absurd hat, pestering trout with 3-pound test line on a... Continue Reading
The Pope and the Right
The Pope urges a move to the left economically on pastoral grounds.
But the church’s social teaching is no less an official teaching for allowing room for disagreement on its policy implications. And for Catholics who pride themselves on fidelity to Rome, the burden is on them — on us — to explain why a worldview that inspires left-leaning papal rhetoric also allows for right-of-center conclusions. ... Continue Reading
Why “Where Are All the Good Men?” Rants Need to Stop
The complementarian model needs to be re-examined, not the men who are trying to live up to that model.
Similarly, instead of recognizing that there are problems with the popular complementarian model, especially among men, complementarians are buckling down and becoming more demanding on the men that are sticking around. Eventually the men will jettison it altogether (and I can’t imagine women living in this state of bitterness too long before they tire of... Continue Reading
Why Celebrate Advent?
Advent reminds us that the greater redemption we have in Christ is worth waiting for.
Even on this side of Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday, there is brokenness in our world that no cart full of Black Friday bargains can fix; there is hunger in our souls that no plateful of pumpkin custard can fill; there is twistedness in our hearts that no terrestrial hand can touch. “The whole creation,”... Continue Reading
PCA Standing Judicial Commission Member Files Protest for SJC’s Failure to Assume Jurisdiction Over Peter Leithart
Protest presented to the PCA’s Standing Judicial Commission for answering Overtures 2013-20, 21, and 22 in the negative
The SJC’s answer to Overtures 20, 21 and 22 establishes the principle that in such cases a presbytery has completely fulfilled this requirement to act if it has conducted a trial that fulfills all the technical details required by the BCO. With this understanding of BCO 34-1, should a presbytery become unwilling to convict one... Continue Reading
Casualties of War
Perhaps the pastorate isn’t dangerous, but I think it ranks up there for the level of stress that pastors suffer.
So, why on earth would anyone want to pursue the pastorate given these casualties of war? Simply stated, there’s a fire in your belly and a sense that you just have to pursue the call. A wise colleague of mine once said to a prospective seminary student who was thinking about pursuing ordained ministry, “If... Continue Reading
Here are some practical ways to maintain faithfulness to your spouse.
What do you do when someone other than your spouse shows interest in you beyond the interest of platonic, Christian friendship? If someone is not treating you as a younger sister or a brother (1 Tim. 5:2), how can you think and act in a way that protects your marriage, the church, and the name... Continue Reading
Homosexuality in Culture
Our culture’s majority position on homosexuality reminds us that we do not live in Christian America
Where can we be salt and light? So given that homosexual marriage is here to stay—now what? How do we talk about these things in a way so as not to become a stumbling block? What are the critical political issues? How do we engage with both those who hold strongly to a homosexual political position and... Continue Reading
Is the Movie Version of Noah Biblically Accurate?
Don't be taken in by the Noah movie trailer
There were many other bizarre, unbiblical aspects in the preview cut. Though it’s possible that some of these elements may not make the final cut (though we suspect most will), compare the above list to the trailer that has just been released! The comparison should be very revealing for you. You wouldn’t get much of a hint of... Continue Reading
Christian Rap and Public Apologies
Joel Beeke and Sam Waldron on comments made during the recent NCFIC discussion
Since I wrote the above email both Scott Brown and Joel Beeke have issued apologies for aspects of their comments. I think their apologies show wisdom and humility. Both emphasize the distinction I am insisting on in this blog. Let me only add that my ministry at the NCFIC conference emphasized the crucial distinction I was making at the... Continue Reading
5 Things to Do Before Leaving Your Church: The Pastor Edition
Thoughts churches and pastors might find helpful in the sometimes painful process of losing a shepherd
It’s hard on everyone when a pastor leaves–usually. Sometimes congregations are happy to see a man go and seem to do everything they can to ensure it happens. The story is told of the irate pastor who stood before the unhappy congregation and announced in no uncertain terms that he was leaving. Today would be... Continue Reading
Why Worship Teams Should Seek To Play With Excellence
Music is a gift of God’s grace to the world and especially his church.
I recently encouraged and thanked our worship team for pursuing musical excellence as they lead us in singing to the Lord together. Though they are not seeking to perform or show off their talents, when they play with excellence, it helps us worship. Not that we need instruments to worship, but the music stirs us. Many... Continue Reading
Supreme Court rejects Liberty’s Obamacare challenge
The case challenged both the employer and individual mandates on grounds of religious freedom, but it also disputed Congress’ power to compel employers to provide insurance.
Representing Liberty University is Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, who challenged the law the day President Barack Obama signed it in 2010. On Tuesday’s The World and Everything in It, Staver said the issue of the employer mandate isn’t over. “If certainly there is a Court of Appeals that will strike down the employer mandate, that’s... Continue Reading
Seven Ways Pastoring Has Changed in Thirty Years
Thirty years ago, the church expected the pastor to be a capable preacher and caregiver. Today much more is expected.
Outreach was accomplished by getting people to come to church services thirty years ago. That is not so today. I remember some of the classic outreach ministries I led thirty years ago. They were all designed to get people to visit church services as a first step. Today, many barriers must be addressed in order for... Continue Reading
Christian, Where is your Hope?
I made a list of where my hope isn't to remind myself
Christ is our only sure hope. Our salvation is secure in Him. God has saved us, God is saving us, God will save us. Past, present, and future. All are certain in Him. May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy... Continue Reading
Family Worship and Its Benefits
Family worship is not meant to be some kind of guilt inducing torture established by divine decree. Rather, it is a means of grace.
As we think about family worship, we should note up front that there is no verse of the Bible commanding Christian families to gather together each evening to worship. However, there are plenty of commands making it clear that Christian parents are to teach their children the faith, read the Word, and pray. In essence,... Continue Reading
Is a Father a Priest to His Family?
The teaching that a husband/father is priest to his family is unbiblical and promotes abuse
As with most errors, this unbiblical doctrine that the man is the priest of his home consists of truth mixed with error. A father is to train up his children in the instruction of the Lord. A husband is to love his wife and promote her sanctification. He surely must pray for his family. These... Continue Reading
Seven Thoughts on Pastors Writing Books
Writing is a privilege, and that should make us humble
Whether in sermons or in print, it’s not okay for pastors to take credit for something that is not theirs. Granted, the lines can be blurry. But that doesn’t mean the line doesn’t exist. And just because it feels like the sin of sloth more than the sin of theft doesn’t make it less of... Continue Reading