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

Think the “Emergent Church” was Ineffective? Think again.

Even where the word “emergent” is not used, ideas from emergence leaders are being considered and adopted, leading to new experimentation and openness.

Already, the emergent church has taken shape in historically faithful Evangelical communities as youth ministry lay leaders and lay leaders, pastors, and high-profile seminary and Christian college professors and Millennials in the Church are caught in the crosshairs. Just consider for one moment the shifting worldview of today’s young Evangelicals.   Brian McLaren is right.... Continue Reading

The Bechdel Test and The Byrd Test

How often do you see the token woman thrown in to discuss, wait for it….women’s issues?

Whether it’s about purity, mothering, homeschooling, submission, or anti-feminism in general, women seem to be invited to speak about the second chapter in Titus or the 31st chapter of Proverbs more than anything else. Hannah Anderson likes to refer to this realm as the pink verses of Scripture. But the women that encounter Jesus do... Continue Reading

5 Ways to Kill Anger

Here are a few things that will leads us down the path of meekness and away from anger.

But where do we begin and how do we fight? After repenting we need to figure out what the opposite of anger is. It is NOT patience. The opposite of anger is actually meekness. Meekness is not a word we use very often. Many believe that meekness means weakness. It doesn’t. It also does not... Continue Reading

Support For Those Weak In Faith

The strength of our faith does not save us; the strength of our Savior does!

In one section of his book, The Unsearchable Riches of Christ, Thomas Brooks gives some biblical examples of what it means to be weak in faith: those weak in faith have a fair amount of worldliness in their hearts, they fret and worry excessively about troubles and trials, they often think more of their sin... Continue Reading

The Most Creepiest Time of the Year

Thoughts on two kids lip-syncing to "Baby It's Cold Outside"

Hollywood doesn’t just push some boundaries; it pushes them all. Remember that these are the same people who can’t understand why Roman Polanski’s rape of a thirteen-year-old girl was all that big a deal. But Hollywood is far cleverer than any government bureaucracy. After all, this video is beautifully done! That’s why we are outraged... Continue Reading

10 Ways the Enemy Gets the Upper Hand in a Church

The devil strategically attacks us and we need to know his ways to fight against these attacks

He wants us to give up on prayer. He points out unanswered prayer, reminding us that God has at times not heard us in the past. Why would we then seek God’s presence and power today? He wants us to get puffed up with ego. In fact, this strategy is the root of the rest... Continue Reading

Evangelicals and the LGBT Community: What Does the Future Hold?

Evangelicals are learning to model both grace and truth when discussing homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

As a millennial, an evangelical, and a Southern Baptist, I’m passionate about a vibrant civic pluralism. Our differences should not be ignored for the sake of false unity. But the fractured values divide in America can’t persist healthily at the rate we’re going. Now more than ever, we need courage, civility, and a commitment for... Continue Reading

Ed Stetzer on Statistics and the Church

The president of LifeWay Research talks about what will make Christians more serious about their faith

“Missional” [has] become an ecclesiological junk drawer. If somebody wants more social justice in his or her church, that’s missional. If someone wants to be contextually relevant, that’s missional. A lot of times missional is the desired change if someone wants to be something else. Missional is, at its simplest, us joining Jesus on his... Continue Reading

Knock, Knock

Knock, knock jokes are always answered with, “Who’s there?” Our knock, knock prayers are answered with, “Jesus”

  Jesus wants us to pursue Him, to ask of Him. Even though He knows our needs, even though the thoughts and intentions of our hearts are not hidden to Him, we must ask, seek, knock. We do not have because we do not ask, James tells us. Jesus desires that we come before Him... Continue Reading