Love & Irritability

This side of heaven, we are either about to be provoked, being provoked, just having been provoked, or some combination of the three.

Whether small annoyance or large, to be easily provoked is that response of irritation which is fueled by a worship of oneself and lack of worship of God. The individual lives with self at life’s epicenter. That high view of self and low view of God consequently fuels spoken and unspoken demands that life’s circumstances operate according to one’s own way, while simultaneously demanding that God exist in submission to the individual’s demands and orchestrate circumstances accordingly. Those inner demands are often not verbalized, but, the existence of irritation speaks clear enough.

Presbyterian Partiality?

There are strong reasons why ‘The Reformed’ (for want of a better term), of all people, should be less vulnerable or prone to partiality

I don’t mean that we’re often so crass as to visibly fall foul of this particular obsequious practice – although such thoughts may never be too far away. It’s just that the sin of prejudice can express itself in a plethora of run-of-the-mill prejudicial acts, thoughts & expressions: ageism, sexism, racism, class-wars; shunning or shaming others because they are too young or old, a nobody or somebody, weak or powerful, scorned or famed, educated or uneducated, cool or square, trendy or unfashionable, popular or unpopular, home-schooled or state-schooled, the in-crowd or the out-crowd, and of course, your dress, status or bank-balance! Have churches not been tyrannised by nepotistic favours done for friends & family? If this is just the tip of the iceberg we need to snorkel beneath the water!

3 Solid Rock Reasons to Trust God

How do we trust in God? By meditating on the truth of God’s word, which tells us that our God is sovereign, wise, and loving.

So how about you? What are you facing right now that you must trust God for? Health challenges? A family member or one of your children? Financial challenges? I can guarantee that ALL of us will face something this year we need to trust God for. Keep your eyes on Jesus. On the one who is sovereign, wise and loving. Ask him to help you, guide you, and strengthen you. And trust in him.

Even As Our Father Is Merciful

Every day is a fresh opportunity to experience new mercies from his never-ending, never-run-dry supply.

And every day is a fresh opportunity for God’s children to “be merciful, even as [our] Father is merciful (Luke 6:36).” Indeed, one of the reasons God chose to be merciful to us is so we will be merciful to others. He “comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (2 Corinthians 1:4). In his mercy, God saw our need and rescued us, and now he invites us to imitate him by helping those who need our help.

9 Myths about Abortion Rights and Roe v. Wade

The moral and spiritual dimensions notwithstanding, there are a plenty of reasons to see Roe as a logical, legal, and political debacle.

Myth #8: The country is divided on the issue of abortion. Truth: While a large (but decreasing) number of Americans support Roe, this figure drops precipitously when people are asked, not generically about Roe, but about what Roe actually allows. According to a 2009 poll, only 7 percent of Americans think abortion should be allowed at any time of pregnancy for any reason, precisely what Roe mandated in all 50 states (295).

Upon the Death of a Grandson

When we cease to rage against death, we have given up on life.

Yet, how can it be ‘natural causes’ when he is only sixteen? How can we call cancer, ‘natural’? How is a tumour in the heart, in any way, shape or form, ‘natural’? Call it obscene, call it horrible, call it ghastly, call it whatever nasty word you like - but it’s not normal, it’s not natural, it’s not good. It’s a sign that the world is not right. It’s something against which we must rage. It’s not simply the dissolution of one temporary organism. It’s the death of person who loved and was loved.

How Does a Pastor Know When to Make Changes in His Church?

3 questions to ask yourself as you move to bring the change that is needed and how to do so with discernment and wisdom

Just because a biblical argument can be made for the change, does not mean it is the right time to make the change. So many young pastors walk into an existing church, make quick, needed changes because, “It’s in the Bible” and think nothing of shepherding a congregation through those changes. Then they wonder why eighteen months into their pastorate, half the church remains and there is a general lack of trust and suspicion towards the pastor. That’s because the new pastor was too busy figuring out what “had to change” instead of first loving and shepherding that congregation so they would later be receptive to the change.

Women’s March Sets Out to Exclude 40 Percent of American Women

What pro-life feminists actually have in common with their pro-choice counterparts.

“If the voice of pro-life women is excluded from the [Women’s March on Washington], then it is not really a ‘Women's March’ at all,” said Brandi Swindell, founder of the pregnancy crisis center partnering with the march. “Rather, it is an anti-Trump march, a pro-choice march, or a Planned Parenthood march. To truly be called a ‘Women's March,’ all our sister's voices, thoughts, viewpoints, and stories need to be heard.”

A Failure to Lead is a Failure to Follow

The Chief Shepherd calls men to selflessly lead and serve those under their care.

We need to follow Jesus, sit at his feet, hear him present the Law, and confess our transgressions. Admit it! In many ways we have been arrogantly abusive in our leadership. In other ways we have been arrogantly apathetic. Men, let us not excuse these sins any longer. Let us contemplate and confess our failure to follow Jesus and lead properly.

Douglas Wilson: Federal Vision No More?

Wilson’s statement seeking to distance himself from the Federal Vision.

It is also my contention that paedocommunion is a completely different understanding of how the Lord’s Supper works than the Westminster Standards (see this post for the 17 places that PC contradicts the Westminster Standards). These things, in my opinion, are obstacles to Wilson’s claim that he is simply a “Westminster Puritan within an irenic river of historic Reformed orthodoxy.”

Honor Code Crash and Burn

Fifty-four years after the fact this is still a hard story to tell.

The cadet honor code, the bedrock of Academy life, states, “We will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does.” My violation of the honor code weighed heavily on my conscience, keeping me awake at night. Finally I was driven by my tormented soul to turn myself in for a violation... Continue Reading

Long Read: What Liberal Intellectuals Get Wrong About Transgenderism

Most people instinctively feel threatened by the postmodern redefinition of gender. Their instincts are correct.

What comes after transgender? Surely no gender at all, but only the lone self, wandering trapped in a labyrinth of endlessly binary forking paths, by which it is more controlled than it can ever be controlling. With gender vanishes sex, save for self-pleasuring, and with both sex and gender vanishes the most fundamental mode of eros and... Continue Reading

Striving to Escape the Fall

We expend a lot of emotional energy trying to control our lives in order to escape the misery that is the effect of the fall.

Sin and misery are the all-encompassing and inescapable realities of this life in this fallen world. Christ came into the world to redeem us from our sin and the misery of this fallen world, and to give us eternal holiness and happiness. While Jesus bore the curse in our place, took the guilt and power... Continue Reading

Meet Generation Z

Drop everything and start paying attention to Generation Z, who now constitutes 25.9% of the U.S. population.

So who is Generation Z? They grew up in a post 9/11 world during a recession. They’ve experienced radical changes in technology and understandings of family, sexuality and gender. They live in multi-generational households, and the fastest growing demographic within their age group is multi-racial. But there are five defining characteristics that everyone should know.... Continue Reading

Are Christians Redefining Sin in the Name of Love?

When feeling good is not always good: Loving fellow believers enough to help them define their sin as sin so they can deal with them.

Are you a Christian who knows a fellow believer who is caught up in an ongoing sin that he or she is justifying for some reason? This person needs your love, prayers, support, and biblical truth regarding his or her behavior (Gal. 6:1). Don’t expect a Christian who is struggling with such a sin to easily... Continue Reading

The Allure Of Unwritten Tradition

I have been looking at Thomas Aquinas’ appeal to an unwritten tradition to justify practices that he freely admits are not biblical

“There is no evidence that Luke produced a portrait of Christ. There were no images of Christ in the 2nd century. Eusebius refused a request to create one in the 4th century. When images began to appear in the late patristic and early medieval periods, they were hotly controversial. They did not become widespread until... Continue Reading

Why Congregational Singing Matters Today More than Ever

Singing is a real and tangible expression of loving the Lord with our whole hearts and our whole selves, and loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Congregational singing is far from dead, mainly because it’s connected to a source of life higher than cultural trends or modern comparisons. Even so, it receives less attention and adulation than it should—and there are several reasons. First, people tend to be attracted to larger churches where the “performance” of music approximates the professional; in principle, there’s nothing wrong with that. Second, the music in most churches tends to be so loud that the congregation simply cannot hear itself sing. Third, smaller churches with less ability to produce professional-sounding music tend to minimize singing altogether, so as to minimize embarrassment or perceived weakness.

How to Take Responsibility after a Major Mistake

4 Steps to Get Your Life Back on Track

Show remorse for the problem. It doesn’t end with ownership. If we want to turn things around, we have to add remorse to responsibility. Our failings cause difficulty to others. Our mistakes cost time, money, and sometimes heartache. We should express sorrow and regret for the hurt our behavior caused.

When Christians Act Like Mormons

Mormon training teaches them to smile big, to not argue, and to focus on the positives of their religion.

I’ve noticed over the years that some people in the church do the same, even some preachers are tempted to do this from their pulpits. We put on our best face. We ignore the difficult topics the Bible talks about and just focus on the love of Jesus. We focus on family as well, and on more happiness in this life and hope for the next. And as I think about the Mormon religion, I see three areas in particular where Christians are tempted to behave similarly.

Book Review: “No God But One” by Nabeel Qureshi

Qureshi deftly weaves together personal narrative and powerful real-life stories with apologetics and historical evidence to examine the case for Islam versus Christianity.

With years of study and experience at his disposal, Qureshi argues that while Islam and Christianity share some major similarities as Abrahamic monotheistic faiths, their differences set them fundamentally at odds. He acknowledges the two faiths closely relate “on the broader religious spectrum,” both even agreeing that Jesus should be venerated. But Qureshi appeals to an analogy from biology to illustrate the importance of the religions’ doctrinal differences: “Humans and chimpanzees share 95 percent of their DNA, but the remaining 5 percent is incredibly important!”

Are You a Confirmation Bias Christian?

If something sounds true -- meaning, it seems to fit what we already believe -- we believe it to be true without corroborating.

But there's a spiritual component at play here too. The reason we fall into confirmation bias politically is not essentially a political problem. It is a human problem, which is to say, it is a sin problem -- which is to say, it is a problem of self-interest and self-worship. The truth is, you and I are prone to conducting our entire lives along the narratives constructed from confirmation bias.

Pies, Docs, Kuyps, And Confessionalists

The Reformed confession is holistic: it is a theology (doctrine), a piety (a way of relating to God), and practice (a way of living out the Christian faith in the visible church and in daily life).

The Confessionalist wants to engage the world but recognizes that what binds Reformed Christians together is not an agreed cultural agenda or even an eschatology (a vision of the future) but the Word of God as confessed by the churches. Thus, sometimes the interests of the Confessionalist with intersect with those of the Kuyperian (e.g., Machen’s defense of private Christian schools) and sometimes it may diverge (e.g., Machen’s libertarianism). He recognizes that the church’s confession of the Word has clear implications for the way the faith is lived both on the Christian Sabbath (Sumday) but also Monday through Saturday.

Reducing the Risk of Child Abuse in the Church (1)

This is the first post of several which will offer a list of actions and attitudes that will go a long way in protecting a church from child predators.

It does not matter how well you think you know someone in the church. It matters not how long so-and-so has been serving (Remember what we have already said about successful predators). You must insist that everyone working with children and youth in your church comply at all points with the policy. That includes submitting to a background check. If Aunt Millie who everyone has known for 40 years refuses to comply then she should not be allowed to work with children. Simply put, anyone worthy of working with other people’s children will understand the current climate and willingly submit to the stipulations of a wise policy.

10 Things You Should Know About Sanctification

There is no holiness or Christian life that does not have repentance at its core.

When talking of sanctification we need to avoid the two most obvious extremes. There is, on the one hand, the legalistic hypocrisy of pharisaism in which one conforms externally to a standard of rules while largely devoid of inward sincerity. There is, on the other hand, the antinomian freedom of those who would turn God’s grace into an excuse for immorality.

Prayer In Light of God’s Will

You read the Bible and find what God loves, but then you look in the world and you see things happening that God does not love. What is going on? How do I pray?

“How should we pray when we hear of persistent immorality like abortion, murder, sexual assault, or terrorism? How do we process through faithfully the plight of our unbelieving friends’ hardness of heart toward the gospel? What about the physical suffering of a friend who, by all accounts, does not seem to deserve such affliction? What... Continue Reading

Why Our Teens Don’t Know They Need Jesus

A generation of kids are being raised in a Christianity devoid of Christ

“Youth ministries too often exert more energy trying to be trendy and fun than faithfully teaching Christ. And the teaching that does take place is usually topically-driven and moralistic in content.”   For seven years, I have led a small group Bible study for teens. For seven years before that, I ministered alongside my husband... Continue Reading

Trust in God More Than Medical Technology

God remains an active agent in the world and is able to incorporate even the things that we assume are bad into a greater plan that can be good

“We can only be grateful for the powerful technology we have. Yet because the United States has more of it than any other country, we who have access to it are challenged to restrain our tendency to use it. But it’ll always be difficult to use wisely as long as the world is as bad... Continue Reading

The Truth About Church Officers

We are all targeted. We are all sinful. We all have fallen. We all are falling. We all will fall again.

Most who hold such offices, positions, titles, or platforms for service know the truth about themselves. They may be called “Sons of God.” They may be filled with the Spirit of God. They may be called “Men of God.” They may be extraordinarily gifted by God. But they know they are not that special.   Servant-leaders are not... Continue Reading

When the Darkness Closes In: A Christian’s Journey Through Depression

Silent cries of depression seep deeply into the hearts of adults and children, alike

“From my experience, depression is rarely discussed in the Church – not for lack of empathy, but rather a lack of knowledge on how to address the epidemic.  Yes, I said epidemic. This widespread illness is more common amongst Christians than expected.”   Two years ago, I lost two students to suicide within weeks of... Continue Reading

Memorial Service Held For Slain Abington, PA Teen, Grace Packer

Mourners filled the seats at New Life Presbyterian Church (PCA) in Glenside Monday to celebrate the life and mourn the unspeakable death of Grace Packer.

New Life Presbyterian Pastor Mark Moser thanked attendees for coming “to bear witness to her life, so Grace Anastasia Packer may not disappear.” “Today we celebrate Grace, to remember her and honor her and cherish who she was,” Associate Pastor Marc Davis said. “We need to look for words together … words that are true... Continue Reading