The Ashley Madison Scandal One Year Later

Expressed repentance and the hatred of the consequences of sin look exactly alike, for a time—and then the paths separate.

I have been deeply troubled over the past year as I have heard story after story of pastoral repentance. Many well-meaning articles have been written by respected leaders declaring fallen leaders repentant – only weeks after the initial exposure of sin. My concern is grounded in the fact that all too often, identifying an act... Continue Reading

How My Parents Taught Me to Love the Church

Whether you realize it or not, you’re teaching your kids a theology of the church with your time.

When you’ve had a busy weekend and you make it to church, your kids notice. When you rearrange athletic obligations to get to church, your kids notice. When you get in late from a trip Saturday night and make it to church, your kids notice. When you are willing to slog through traffic after work... Continue Reading

Does The Westminster Confession Contradict Calvin On Assurance And Faith?

Calvin recognized that we do not always experience the benefits of the assurance that belongs to faith.

Calvin repeatedly recognized similar problems that the divines were facing, that faith as we experience seems to fluctuate. He recognized, e.g., that all believers have implicit faith in something or someone. “We certainly admit that so long as we dwell as strangers in the world there is such a thing as implicit faith; not only... Continue Reading

A Culture of Encouragement

To anyone struggling with discouragement, at least take the simple step first: “As you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.” (Lk. 6:31)

Beyond getting some counsel and making it a regular matter of prayer, I wasn’t quite sure how to deal with what I felt was a lack of encouragement from the congregation. I honestly didn’t know whether people appreciated my ministry or not, so I often assumed the worst. I never struggled to the point of... Continue Reading

Growing Up Christian in Secular America

Have we unknowingly aided our youth in their secularizing flight from God? If so, what can we do?

Growing up in such a world, we are left desensitized and yet also yearning for something more. In a real way, our youth have grown tired of the cliché theologizing, the cheap grace, and the lack of love. This tension has created a people searching for transcendence—people looking for love and life. And that is... Continue Reading

When Darkness Hides His Face

Following Jesus doesn’t mean life will be painless and easy!

Dear Christian, if you’re suffering, facing affliction, or if your cross has recently been very hard to bear, don’t take it as a sign that God is angry with you, has stopped loving you, or has forgotten about you.  By God’s grace, our suffering is productive (Rom 5:3-4).  Our feelings are not a reliable guide... Continue Reading

Does Trusting God Remove Anxiety?

Because I trust God completely, I bring him my angst again and again.

This pattern of truth, honest admission of pain, reminder of truth is a far better picture of the reality of life hidden in Christ than the false stoic (or Zen) image of being unperturbed by the chaos in and around us. God does not remove us from the storm. Instead, we express our trust (as... Continue Reading

What Happens When Normal Women Try to Become Superwomen

Becoming superwomen often comes at the price of our mental, spiritual, and emotional health

We often think of humility as a heightened awareness of our faults, but humility is actually an awareness of our limitations. When Jesus invites us to learn from his humility, he’s calling us to embrace the same human limits that he embraced when he came to earth. The need for food, sleep, exercise, relaxation —... Continue Reading

The “Authenticity” Paradox

There’s something about the word “authenticity” that makes me cringe

I’m concerned that in all this talk about authenticity today we give ourselves (and others) permission to give voice to thoughts and action that we need to bring under submission to the Word of God. You cannot live for Christ while constantly saying “yes” to yourself. We all know Christians who boast, “I’m a Christian... Continue Reading

Reformation Romance: Love and Marriage Luther and Katie’s Way (Part 1),

Luther received a letter, a passionate appeal for his counsel from more than a dozen nuns who desperately wanted to flee the nunnery; and then he played matchmaker.

Setting to work with his typical zeal, Luther soon had matches or suitable circumstances arranged for all but one of the runaway nuns, spunky twenty-six-year-old Katharina von Bora. After several failed attempts—picky Katharina turned down several offers of marriage—she laughed off an aged candidate with the quip that she would rather marry Luther than Dr.... Continue Reading

The Missing Elements of Modern Worship

Where have they gone? Or, perhaps more importantly, why have they gone?

“It’s not that every one of these elements has to be prominent every week (and it’s not like these are the only elements that have gone missing). There is a time and place for topical sermons. A confession of sin and assurance of pardon may not be necessary every week. There can be a time... Continue Reading

Gay Man Starts Social Media Campaign Over Church Dismissal For Unrepentant Homosexuality

Jesus, Thomas wrote, was angry with people who told others they were not worthy to be His followers

“Your desire to actively participate in a same-sex relationship with another man, and your unwillingness to heed biblical counsel from your church to turn from that relationship, has made it exceedingly difficult to shepherd you during this time,” the letter said.   A gay man disciplined by a Dallas church for giving in to his... Continue Reading

Are Moms Responsible For The Way Their Daughters Dress?

A five-year-old post about modesty and girls went viral, generating more than 1 million reads

The original blog by Shelly Wildman was posted in March 2011 and titled “How Your Daughter Dresses Matters,” and referenced a Wall Street Journal column from around the same time that also dealt with the issue. “[I]t’s been an interesting week,” Wildman wrote Thursday.   A Chicago-area author and blogger learned the power of social... Continue Reading

Sexual Identity: Community and Church Issues, Sexual Identity & Fear

Jesus confronts doubts even while giving (believers) a counter-cultural commission

“In my own conversations with Christians, there is perhaps even greater alarm over the agenda of sexual liberation and gender identity movements.  The questions I am asked most often about Christian higher education are ones related to threats posed by government bathroom policies or anti-discrimination regulations overriding our traditional commitments to Christian views of gender... Continue Reading

Why Didn’t the Reformers Unite?

Wouldn’t it have made sense for these three centers of reform — Wittenberg, Zurich, and Strasbourg — to come together to present a united reformational front?

Martin Bucer first heard Martin Luther in Heidelberg in 1518 when both were still monks. Luther and Huldrych Zwingli knew of one another. Publicly, Zwingli praised Luther, calling him a “Hercules” and a “faithful David” who fought the Lord’s battles.   It was 1529. Various reform movements were at work, purifying the church in Wittenberg,... Continue Reading

1966 And All That: Reflections On Evangelical Unity Fifty Years After The Public Disagreement Between Martyn Lloyd-Jones And John Stott

Tuesday 18th October 2016 marks the 50th Anniversary of Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ address at the Second National Assembly of Evangelicals organised by the Evangelical Alliance

“For a long periods after the Assembly the text of Lloyd-Jones’ address was unavailable . It was finally printed in full in Knowing the Times, published by the Banner of Truth in 1989. A couple of days ago I read the address again, and even on paper (especially if you imagine the voice of Lloyd-Jones)... Continue Reading

Serious Trouble Brewing in the PCA Over “Gay Christians”

It appears to me that the PCA should be preparing for some serious trouble over the legitimacy of what is being termed “gay Christian.”

Rather than adopting some new theological position at a local church or Presbytery level, let us appeal to the broader church to study the issue and report back to the church.  Is sexual desire for other men or women of the same gender acceptable, as long as it does not become lust, or is it... Continue Reading

Open Letter to SBL Concerning Their Ban of IVP from the Annual Convention

The objection of SBL is that IVCF’s employee policy requires subscription to a document called “Theological Summary of Human Sexuality,” which in SBL’s mind severely restricts free inquiry.

Fifth, and somewhat baffling, is what you wrote to IVP. You said that SBL was committed to: “a variety of critical perspectives …  diversity of participation and unhindered critical discourse …  free inquiry and expression.” John, mate, I don’t want to be confrontational, but can you explain to me how does banning a publisher from the annual... Continue Reading

The PC Police Outlaw Make-Believe

In our surreal age of identity politics, pretending is politically incorrect.

Ms. Shriver delivered her speech while wearing a sombrero—a literal representation of her deeper point, which is that the job of fiction writers is to embody characters unlike themselves. If identity politics reaches its absurd conclusion, Ms. Shriver said, “all I could write about would be smart-alecky 59-year-old 5-foot-2-inch white women from North Carolina.”  ... Continue Reading

Human Sexuality: Defined by the Mystery of the Trinity

The Bible discloses that there only two options for human existence: We either worship the creation or we worship the Creator.

We do not define God nor do we self-define. In the creation of human sexuality God, as Creator and Redeemer, reveals something of himself as both different from us, yet intimately related to us. In revealing himself, he defines us. Thus our great cosmic human task is faithfully to carry that image throughout our lives... Continue Reading

The Socio-economic Contribution of Religion to American Society

This article summarizes the first documented quantitative national estimates of the economic value of religion to U.S. society.

The data on local congregations show that they provide a significant level of community and social services beyond those provided through religious organizations set up to specifically provide health care, education and charity. … congregations spent an estimated $9.2 billion on social programs in 2012, the bulk of which came from donations of individual congregants.... Continue Reading

The Need for a Ministerial Break Down

Ministers must aim being faithful to break down God's word so that it will be understood and appreciated by the younger and older believers.

Those ministers who fail to break down God’s word for His people usually do so from behind an ecclesiastical smokescreen. They treat each member of the congregation as if he or she should be at the same spiritual place in understanding by virtue of the fact that they are members of the church. This is... Continue Reading

Religious Freedom — For Everyone

What are the limits and parameters of religious liberty?

Machen: Tolerance, moreover, means not merely tolerance for that with which we are agreed but also tolerance for that to which we are most thoroughly opposed. A few years ago there was passed in New York the abominable Lusk Law requiring private teachers in any subjects whatever to obtain a state license….But certainly such opposition... Continue Reading

5 Significant Signs You’ve Stopped Growing as a Leader

Spending all your time in your sweet spot can turn your sweet spot into a dead spot.

You can grow in your sweet spot, getting better and better at what you do best, which is great. But being in your sweet spot every day doesn’t always stretch you. In fact, it can start to feel comfortable…too comfortable. Take that to its logical conclusion and you might discover this: spending all your time... Continue Reading

No Lord!

When someone says, “No Lord!” they have to be insincere in one of those two words.

When some say “No Lord,” they are proclaiming insincere praise. With their mouths they are giving title and tribute to God, but there is a wide gulf between their words and their affections. They are insincere in calling Jesus, “Lord.” They are very sincere in saying, “No.”   Have you ever said, “No Lord!” I must admit, I... Continue Reading

How My Books are Being Banned at the Society of Biblical Literature

SBL’s ire of book banning is directed to the simple belief that the Bible teaches marriage is between a man and a woman.

But, apparently book banning is back in vogue.  Dr. John Kutsko, executive director of the Society of Biblical Literature, has just proposed that InterVarsity Press–one of the largest evangelical presses in the country– be suspended from having a book stall at the annual SBL meeting (starting in 2017). The reason for this ban is the... Continue Reading

50 Years Ago: The Split Between John Stott And Martyn Lloyd-Jones

An event 50 years ago between two respected church leaders that shook British evangelicalism—on the nature of the church and the basis of gospel unity and purity

Lloyd-Jones argued that evangelicals were guilty of “the sin of schism” for remaining visibly separated from each other, while being visibly united in their denominations to people who denied the gospel essentials …. Stott and his Anglican evangelical colleagues, like J. I. Packer, protested vigorously against heresy in the Church of England, especially against liberal... Continue Reading

How Vocation Transformed Society

A dramatic example of how a theological teaching had a revolutionary social impact is the Reformation doctrine of vocation.

Another name for the doctrine of vocation is the priesthood of all believers. God does call some Christians to be pastors, but He calls other Christians to exercise their royal priesthood by plowing fields, forging steel, and starting businesses. But all priests—including peasants and serving girls—need access to God’s Word. So during the Reformation, schools... Continue Reading

Worship At Home

Because our worship is about the glory of God rather than our emotional experiences, worship is central to all of life.

The reading of the Word at home and the preaching of the Word at church are not innovations given to us by man. They are instructions given by God to his people. To lead our families in worship, we must always be grounded not in our own profundity, but on the omniscient and good instructions... Continue Reading

Fake Christian Emotions And Real Christian Affections

Many Christians believe that what Scripture means by “pure” and by “lovely” is the pleasant, the naive, the Hallmark Channel, not the reality of a world in need of redemption.

Prosperity gospel preachers would tell us that the point of the Christian life is to escape pain, suffering, and grief. And we should not deny that God has plans to “wipe every tear” from the eyes of believers. But in this life, realistic grief and sorrow are as much a part of the godly affections... Continue Reading