Two Indispensable Requirements For Pastoral Ministry

We must like studying the Bible, and we must like our people.

The people who do their jobs best usually like their jobs most. And we like following people who like what they do. I’ve often wondered if the missing ingredient in many churches is simply an awareness by the congregation that the pastor is really happy to be their pastor—happy to be in the Word each... Continue Reading

Four Implications of Martin Luther’s Theology

What do the sovereignty of God, salvation by grace, justification by faith, and new life in union with Christ mean for the living of the Christian life?

For Luther, the Christian life is a gospel-grounded, gospel-built, gospel-magnifying life that exhibits the free and sovereign grace of God and is lived out in gratitude to the Savior who died for us, yoked to Him in cross-bearing until death is swallowed up in victory and faith becomes sight.   What do the sovereignty of God,... Continue Reading

Should Pastors Today Still Care about the Reformation?

Why should busy pastors set aside valuable hours to read up on the Reformation, usually thought to have kicked off about five hundred years ago?

The Reformation is of central importance for understanding modern Western history. Three large-scale movements set the stage for the contemporary Western world: the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment. Each of the three is complex, and scholars continue to debate many facets of each. Nevertheless, the raw claim for the pivotal role of these three... Continue Reading

A Review: “Killing England”

A review of Bill O’Reilly’s “Killing England.”

In a post-Christian America there is a movement to rid our nation of all vestiges of its Christian past.  Highlighting the sins of former Christian heroes enables them to do this.  Since early America was greatly influenced by the Christian Faith, many modern historians in our educational system (and entertainment industry) are beginning to target... Continue Reading

Sola Scriptura: A Scripture-Alone Life

The issue of authority is the foundational issue of the Reformation.

God’s Word over us is the final authority. God’s Word under us is the foundation of promises. For either of these to be effective, we must have God’s Word in us. The Reformation exploded out of a desert of biblical truth. The people were starving for the gospel and God’s Word. That’s why translating the... Continue Reading

Westminster & Preaching: Preparation & Hearing

The Puritan movement was known firstly as a resurgence of biblical of preaching.

For the Puritans, and the Westminster Assembly especially, preaching was only right preaching when the text was central; for the responsible preacher, the Scripture passage was to guide the sermon, not allowing his sermon to mold the Scripture or to go beyond what the text was saying.   The Puritan movement was known firstly as... Continue Reading

Has Interest In Homeschooling Waned?

Researchers dispute government data showing no growth in the homeschool community.

Before the government released its survey results, Ray issued his own estimates of homeschool growth. In early 2016, he put the number of homeschool students at about 2.3 million—4.5 percent of the overall school-age population—with an estimated annual growth rate of 2-8 percent.   (WNS)–A government survey released last week showed interest in homeschooling appears... Continue Reading

There Is No Spiritualizing This One

No spiritualizing seemed to fit into that humble parking spot.

I began to slip from irritation to worry. Maybe he’d had a heart-attack, or fell and hurt his head. I was somewhere between fret and panic, playing out the scenes, fearing the worst, waiting to hear an ambulance siren, when I like a bolt of lightening, I remembered…..   And it came to pass in... Continue Reading

The Christian’s Duty to Hold Firm

It is the Christian’s duty to hold firm to the uniqueness of God and of His Christ

“In our day, where pluralism reigns in the culture, there is as much satirical hostility to the idea of one God as there was in Nietzsche’s satire. But today, that repugnance to monotheism is not a laughing matter. In the culture of pluralism, the chief virtue is toleration, which is the notion that all religious... Continue Reading

Red Flags

Before someone is in a position of leadership at a church, they need to be committed to that church

“Add to your team slowly, intentionally, and wisely. Look for red flags and don’t just hope they’ll disappear. They hardly ever do – and they’re a whole lot harder to handle once you’ve already taken the plunge.”   Adding members to a worship team, a choir, or really any volunteer team is one of the... Continue Reading

When You Fault Evangelicals for Being Unreasonable, Make Sure to Use Reason

Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist at the Washington Post, claims that evangelicals are proving their harshest critics right. Why?

“That makes me wonder what Rubin does with evangelicals who chastise the President for his egotism, lack of decorum, and many vices and sins. Aren’t they guilty of demanding that Trump conform to Christian morality? And isn’t that a form of imposing Christianity on the country?”   Jennifer Rubin, a conservative columnist at the Washington... Continue Reading

In Post-Christian America, Should Christians Retreat from Mission?

Christians should embrace the call to be public witnesses for Christ, whether in cultural power or weakness

The outward thrust of Christian life can be seen, first of all, in an imperative that is often called the cultural mandate, but I call it the First Great Commission. In the first two chapters of Genesis, God instructed Adam and Eve to “be fruitful and multiply” (1:22), “till the soil” (2:5) and “have dominion”... Continue Reading

Before Calvin

What if critics of 2k had to think about the relationship between the church and magistrates before emperors got religion

“So long as a Protestant city council supports our guy, John Calvin, we forget about the problems of a religious magistrate? It’s our civil government. And so long as that Cadillac CTS that only gets 13.8 mpg is a comfortable ride to church, we forget about the price of gas or limits on fossil fuels?... Continue Reading

Ahead of Halloween, Universities Nationwide Tell Students What Not to Wear

Universities are warning their students against Halloween costumes some consider offensive

At UC Santa Barbara, a social justice workshop set for Tuesday will delve into how Halloween costumes abuse “indigenous wear” and teach students how to “spot appropriation with the help of bell hooks’ essay ‘Eating the Other.’”   Throughout October, universities across the nation are warning their students against Halloween costumes some consider offensive. Gone... Continue Reading

Biblical Counsel for Pastoral Burnout, Part 3

If our service is not rooted in God and God’s resources, then we have lost sight of the main thing and it won’t be long before the secondary things lose their luster

“My brother pastor, have you lost sight of what prayer is? Prayer is spending time with the Master drawing down on his resources so that when you minister to others it flows from your ongoing relationship with the Father. That is prayer. It forms a wonderful connection between our identity and our ministry. Do you... Continue Reading

Keep Going Out and Keep Sowing; Tears and All

Keep getting up in the morning and going to a job you wish was more enjoyable and for which you wish you received more pay, because your family really does depend on you

“Keep telling that lost one about the love and forgiveness found in the gospel. Keep serving your community even when they don’t serve you. It’s those things that matter most in life that challenge us in the deepest ways and tempt us to quit. The every day stuff of life that brings us to tears... Continue Reading

Why the Reformation Still Matters

None of the goodness or relevance of the Reformation’s insights have faded over the last five hundred years.

At the beginning of the sixteenth century, Europe had been without a Bible the people could read for something like a thousand years. Thomas Bilney had thus never encountered the words “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Tim. 1:15). Instead of the Word of God, they were left to the understanding... Continue Reading

Philosophy Rebuts Key Barrier Between Science and Religion

It is not that observation and experience were irrelevant to Descartes; rather, his idea was that truths about the natural world should hold with the same degree of certainty as those of mathematics.

How did Descartes hit upon this conservation law? Not simply by observing nature. “In fact,” he points out, “it often happens that experience may appear to conflict with the rules I have just explained.” Descartes believed that the methodology of physics resembles mathematics more than the “scientific method” we learn in school — beginning not... Continue Reading

From Luther to Merkel

Germany’s long-abandoned Reformational past could offer hope for its future.

 “I believe in God, and religion is also my constant companion, and has been for the whole of my life. We as Christians should above all not be afraid of standing up for our beliefs.” Merkel, now 63, was a preacher’s kid: Her father was a Lutheran pastor. She does not attend church regularly but... Continue Reading

The Boy Scouts and the Disappearance of Paths

The Boy Scouts offered a pathway toward manhood, a vision of the good life that brought together nature and nurture, and lifted up a moral vision to be pursued and cherished.

But the disappearance of paths leads to the disappearance of meaning. In the past, those who transgressed well-worn paths found the experience exhilarating precisely because there were paths to transgress. Today, with pathways quickly disappearing, even the most brazen acts are met with a yawn. Some LGBT writers mourn the normalcy brought by gay marriage, because... Continue Reading

Willow Creek Chooses Co-Ed Pastors to Succeed Bill Hybels

Megachurch becomes biggest in America to appoint a female lead pastor.

“When we saw this shaping up, we had to ask ourselves, ‘Can our congregation have a lead pastor that’s a woman?,’” said Hybels, speaking from Willow Creek’s central campus in South Barrington, Illinois, one of seven locations in the Chicago region that draw a collective total of 25,000 worshippers each weekend. “And because this is... Continue Reading

Idolatry at the Office: Confessions of a Workaholic

However noble our efforts may appear to the world, we labor in vain when we strive apart from God.

To someone scrambling for worth in the dark, the accolades were intoxicating. I soon guarded my professional identity as if it were a crust of bread during famine. I embraced a twisted asceticism that denied worldly comforts in favor of “doing the right thing.”   During my second year of surgical residency, I totaled my... Continue Reading

Tota Scriptura

The issue that we face in our day is not merely the question of sola Scriptura but also the question of tota Scriptura, embracing the whole counsel of God

In this case, the Bible is reduced to the status where the whole is less than the sum of its parts. This is an issue that the church has to face in every generation, and it has reappeared today in some of the most surprising places. We’re finding, in seminaries that call themselves Reformed, professors... Continue Reading

The Piper Debate and the Federal Vision Controversy

One more time: The Federal Vision comes round again.

Never denying the Reformed doctrines of election, regeneration, and perseverance in the arena of God’s decrees, they chose to “move, live, and have their being” in the realm of the objective covenant.  In the realm of the objective covenant, all those baptized are regenerated and justified, the elect can fall away, and the Last Judgment... Continue Reading

There’s Never Been a Better Time to Be a Christian

In the fight for morality, we have truth and Jesus on our side.

Original editor’s note: Campbell Markham is a Presbyterian minister in Australia. He delivered this address on September 7, 2017, at the Tasmanian launch of the Coalition for Marriage. Currently, Pastor Markham is defending himself against an anti-discrimination prosecution brought against him for his writings on marriage.   What a mess our poor nation is in. There... Continue Reading

Sorry, Pastor – Numbers Are NOT People

Church metrics can be helpful. But only if we use them wisely. And hold them lightly.

This is a reminder to put people ahead of stats. Whether our church is growing, shrinking or static, we need to celebrate stories of changed lives more than our attendance numbers. Don’t pursue a bigger crowd at the cost of a healthier church. We need congregations where people truly do come before numbers. Keep ministering.... Continue Reading

The Five Choices Of Declining Churches

Leaders of declining churches have five choices.

Leadership recognizes the simple choice is, “change or die.” The church decides to make significant leadership, methodological, organizational, structural, and philosophical changes. Advantages: The church may reverse the decline and become a gospel influence in the community again. For those who are on board, there can be a sense of radical obedience to the gospel.... Continue Reading

Can We Trust Government To Correct Our Cognitive Biases?

Can we trust government to be less prone to cognitive error than the private-sector consumers whose mistakes we want to correct?

Critics have found evidence that some of the cognitive biases identified by behavioral economists are not as severe asis often claimed, or may even be artifacts of flawed experiment methods.  Nonetheless, as Thaler and others have effectively shown, cognitive bias is often a genuine problem. Few if any people are as systematically rational as homo... Continue Reading

Air Force Punishes Colonel Over Marriage Views

U.S. Air Force suspends an officer and revoked his recommendation for promotion to brigadier general because he would not sign an unofficial document affirming a retiring subordinate’s same-sex marriage.

Col. Leland B.H. Bohannon, Air Force Inspection Agency commander at Kirtland Air Force Base in Albuquerque, N.M., signed all the requisite documents for a senior noncommissioned service member’s May retirement ceremony except for one: a letter of “spousal appreciation” for the gay serviceman’s partner.   (WNS)–U.S. Air Force officials have suspended a decorated officer and... Continue Reading

Westminster & Preaching: Prayer and the Pulpit

Preaching cannot live without prayer.

Because men are sinners, prayer must always be employed in preaching. Prayer before and after preaching must not only plead that God graciously overcome the ruinous effects of our sin, but that God would also turn his anger away from our obstinacy and unbelief.   In his first sermon on our Lord’s prayer in John... Continue Reading