My Imperfect Thanks

“Thank God we don’t have perfect lives every day. It would not feel special; we would feel personal entitlement. We wouldn’t be calling out our thanksgiving to the very heavens as we are today.”

It seems that I need the four seasons and the long and cloudy low-pressure systems to help me appreciate the sunshine in my life. If I lived in a sunny climate, I would just complain about the lack of shade. In fact, I live in a highly developed society, and I take those benefits for... Continue Reading

Not Yet

With the legal affirmation of same-sex marriage in some states, should churches, synagogues, and mosques stop performing civil marriages? No, not yet.

When a congregation certifies a biblically married couple to be also civilly married, the congregation is not affirming the state’s definition of marriage. Instead, the Church is witnessing to the state’s role in recognizing marriage as something that stands before and is foundational to society. We are bearing witness to the fact that these unions... Continue Reading

Famous Marriages ‘Breathe Life’ For Couples

The good, the bad, and the ugly marriages of well known ministers of the past

Charles and Susannah Spurgeon represent another strong marriage from church history, though she had a “very poor first impression” of the great Baptist preacher, Haykin said. The Spurgeons met when he preached for the first time at the London church that came to be known as the Metropolitan Tabernacle. “He was sweating profusely … and... Continue Reading

Eight Very Difficult Ministry Situations For Pastors

What are some of the most difficult situations you have had in pastoral ministry? These eight were the most mentioned answers.

Confronting a church member. “She was bitter and gossiped all the time. No one else had the courage to confront her, so I had to do the dirty work. It was not a pretty situation, and I’m still suffering from the confrontation today.” In a recent post, I shared the results of an informal Twitter... Continue Reading

The One And The Many

We worry that we may be out of the center of God’s will

Too many of us are so concerned about our problems right now in this life that we’ve not thought about where we will be someday later after death. We’ve got things exactly backwards. We think there is only one path for me to follow on earth, but many paths I can take to get to... Continue Reading

A Sunny Place for Shady People: Employing the Grace Pledge

God’s Grace Pledge: “Wherever you are in your story I will give you grace so you can give me glory.”

“Every once in a while in the Samson story up pops a reminder of the fact that Samson is God’s man, set apart for God’s work, and it is God who is overruling the course of Samson’s actions and experience.  It is this part of the Samson story that gives us hope.  We too live... Continue Reading

It’s Time to Abandon the First Amendment

It is quite obvious that we are living in a dramatic cultural shift in America

As I search the Bible I find no first amendment.  What I do find is the responsibility of the civil magistrate to enforce justice and equity as defined by God’s law (Rom. 13).  What I do find is the responsibility of God’s ministers to use the Bible to confront those in power about their lawlessness.... Continue Reading

“Long Hair Freaky People Need Not Apply”*

Communicating through Twitter is all signs and no scenery

And then there are the Bible verses that go up. Since your audience usually follows you due to a shared belief system, they aren’t so much meant to be evangelistic as exhorting. Some can be an encouragement, but only the skinny ones can survive. It makes you wonder if it cheapens God’s Word to suspend... Continue Reading

Private Schools Win Textbook Funding Battle in New Mexico

The New Mexico Court of Appeals upheld a law requiring the state’s Department of Education to supply free textbooks to all students in the state, in public or private schools.

A state-level, 3-judge panel ruled IML does not violate any laws, concluding the funds benefit the students and parents at private schools, not the schools themselves. In addition, the ruling noted the state has an interest “to educate children, regardless of where they attend school” and thus children attending private schools shouldn’t be barred from... Continue Reading

The Transforming Power of Thanksgiving and Forgiveness

When I give thanks, I am reminded of how utterly dependent I am on God and of how incredibly good He is to me.

Forgiveness is harder than thanksgiving, and for that reason it is even more powerful. To forgive someone is to release them from the debt they owe us. It is to surrender our claim to vengeance. Forgiveness is hard, but it is easier when I realize how much I have been forgiven. Forgiveness is powerful in... Continue Reading

No Holy Spirit, No Scripture

There is an abiding perception in the Christian world that Reformed folks do not talk much about the Holy Spirit. Is it true?

Reformed folks highlight the work of the Spirit in many areas such as regeneration, sanctification, preaching, the sacraments, and more.  But, during the time of the Reformation itself, one area took center stage, name how the Spirit relates to the Scriptures.  The two are so connected, argued the Reformers, that if there was no Holy... Continue Reading

Ferguson and the Path to Peace

In the church, a black Christian and a white Christian are brothers and sisters. We care what happens to the other.

In order to get there, we will need churches that are not divided up along carnal patterns of division—by skin color or ethnicity or economic status. We will need churches that reflect the manifold wisdom of God (Eph. 3:10) in the joining together of those who may have nothing else in common but the image... Continue Reading

Confessions and The Relevant

Do we need a new confession, or at least some additional paragraphs or chapters, to deal with contemporary issues?

In short, as a general principle we should always try to address pressing contemporary questions, whether theological or ethical, using the resources our confessional standards provide for us.   Only when that provision is thoroughly inadequate and when the issue is one of such obvious permanent concern should we consider revising our confessional foundations.   One... Continue Reading

Helping the Hurting

How should we help a friend or loved one who is suffering in a way that is encouraging and helps rather than hurts them?

Many Christians think that God only desires for us to be happy. They think he wants us to have the good life here on this earth. So when trials and suffering come, they struggle to fit it into their theology. Sometimes, even if a statement comes from Scripture, such as “God will use this for... Continue Reading

An Immigration Fix Almost Nobody Loves

Republicans, Democrats, and activist groups can all find something to dislike in the president’s executive order

The announcement follows months of  Obama’s promises to act on immigration after he spent years saying he didn’t have the power to do so without Congress. In the protracted process, Obama managed to upset just about everyone: Republicans because he is doing it at all, Democrats for talking about it during campaign season, and Hispanics and activist groups for... Continue Reading

6 Steps To An Awe-Full Church

What we want are churches that are places of the extraordinary, supernatural, different, abnormal, unusual presence and power of a holy God.

Many church growth experts tell us that we’ve got to make church more casual, less threatening, more like “normal life.” That will certainly get people in the door. But it won’t keep them there for long. Why should anyone go to church for ordinary normality? They can get that in the mall or at the... Continue Reading

When Was the Last Time You Just Enjoyed Your Money?

It is good to exercise self-control with your money, and good to put it to good work. But it is good to enjoy it too.

Along the way we can develop a very formal and professional relationship with money, where money becomes little more than a tool. Every dollar has a job—paying the bills and paying down the mortgage, and saving for retirement, and supporting the missionaries. Every dollar has a job, but not many of those jobs are fun.... Continue Reading

Do You Hear The People Sing?

What do you hear when your church worships God in song?

“The Maker has wired music into the fabric of every soul, even those of us who are not especially musical by nature. It’s not just another way people artistically experience and express their gratitude and awe to God — like painting or journaling or fishing or serving. Throughout the Bible, God’s people — saved by... Continue Reading

How To Distinguish The Holy Spirit From The Serpent

How do we distinguish the promptings of the Spirit of grace in His guiding and governing of our lives from the delusions of the spirit of the world and of our own sinful heart?

“How, then, does the Spirit act on the believer? The Spirit comes to us as an earnest, a pledge, a down payment on final redemption. He is here and now the foretaste of future glory. But His presence is also an indication of the incompleteness of our present spiritual experience.”   How do we distinguish the... Continue Reading

A Letter To Global South Anglicans

National Cathedral Sanctuary offered for Friday Islamic prayers

“You are well aware of the actions of the Episcopal Church that have led to “tearing the fabric of the Anglican Communion.” In that respect, it will not come as a complete surprise that the National Cathedral has conducted both same-sex blessings of relationships, and, more recently in 2013 began conducting same-sex marriage ceremonies. I... Continue Reading

“Give Attention to the Reading”

A pastor needs to read enough, and enough of the right stuff, to be growing intellectually and to meet the demands of ministry in the world in which he lives

“Reading continues to be one of the most important duties of a pastor. Pastors are responsible to do the work of the mind, and their minds must have something with which to work. Reading is the door, and texts are the workmen through which the furniture of ideas enters the mind and organizes a pastor’s... Continue Reading

John Piper Says Bullying Pastors Abuse Authority And Should Be Rebuked

The retired Bethlehem Baptist Church pastor said bullying pastors should be admonished and gave listeners of his Ask Pastor John program a scriptural litmus test to identifying such a leader

“One of the reasons you have to rebuke one person in the church is because they are hurting the sheep. They’re hurting other people and out of love and the up-building of the other people, you may have to get tough with a sheep-hurter or destroyer or a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”   Answering a... Continue Reading

Porn And The Singleness Panic

In a society that largely champions sexual expression, including pornography, it is heartening to hear someone acknowledge its detriments

“At this point I have to ask: What happened to all those voices I heard in the church when I was growing up, the leaders telling us women to keep our standards high, and to choose only a truly godly man to be the spiritual leader in our home and the loving father of our... Continue Reading

Martin Bucer: Carer of Souls (Part 2)

Whatever the situation, we need, as Bucer says, to apply the right medicine to bring about healing

“Bucer speaks of “counsel and help,” “proper binding up and healing.”  Similar to the third task, we see the need arising from the spreading effect of sin in a sheep. Sin weakens. Sin dulls our affections. We know this, not first by observing our sheep, but by observing ourselves! We stumble. We find ourselves sin-wounded. We need a... Continue Reading

The Transformation Of The Homosexual: What Change Looks Like

Biblically, change is no less an expectation for the homosexual than it is for the porn addict, the liar, the murderer or anyone else who has been under the power of sin

“Change for those struggling with same-sex attraction occurs on the level of: 1. behavior, 2. belief, 3. identity, and 4. desire. It may also involve deliverance from demonic strongholds and family-line curses, the unmasking of hidden roots of idolatry, fear, unbelief, unforgiveness, the renouncing of ungodly judgments and vows, the healing of emotional wounds, as... Continue Reading

When Do You Leave a Church?

There are certainly legitimate reasons to leave a church and sadly, it sometimes become necessary or even a duty to find a more biblically faithful body

“It seems in our self-intoxicated, consumer-driven evangelical culture, what is often referred to as “church hopping” seems to have reached a virtual epidemic. There are a number of reasons for this reality with biblical illiteracy, a loss of a robust ecclesiology, a distaste for authority, the disappearance of church discipline and the decay of meaningful... Continue Reading

University Reformed Church Takes Second Vote to Leave RCA, to Affiliate with PCA

The second vote of the congregation was 366 to 18 to withdraw from the RCA and join the PCA

At a meeting on Sunday evening, November 23, The Great Lakes City Classis conducted a congregational meeting of the University Reformed Church (URC), East Lansing, Mich., The purpose of the meeting was for Classis to oversee a discussion and vote on URC’s desire to withdraw from the Reformed Church in America (RCA), and affiliate with... Continue Reading

Interpretive Dance

The BioLogos Foundation is making a major, well-funded push to change the way Christians read Genesis and think about Adam and Eve

BioLogos is now spending $3.6 million (primary funder: Templeton) on 37 projects in the United States and around the world, with grants ranging from $23,000 to $300,000. According to the BioLogos website, funds go to “projects that explore consonance between evolution and Christian faith.” Projects must not “reject the conclusions of mainstream science (e.g. old... Continue Reading

Compassion without Compromise

An introduction to a new book, Compassion without Compromise: How the Gospel Frees Us to Love Our Gay Friends Without Losing the Truth

There are dozens of questions like this in the book, each one answered with biblical insights and with good sense. I can’t imagine any Christian not being helped by this book. Adam and Ron are clear about the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual activity. They are informed on the latest scholarship. They are discerning when it... Continue Reading

The Case for Idolatry: Why Evangelical Christians Can Worship Idols

I really hope it's obvious that this is a parody, but if not: it is.

In other words, when Paul talks about idolatry, he is not talking about the worship of idols as we know it today. As a Christ-follower, he would be just as horrified as Jesus if he saw the way his words have been twisted to exclude modern idolaters like me, and like many friends of mine.... Continue Reading