Doubt and Obedience

On this side of glory, there isn't a one-to-one correlation between obedience and blessing

“We don’t merit righteousness before our Father by our obedience, and the Lord’s grace is so vast that He regularly blesses us in spite of our disobedience. Still, perhaps we would see more blessing and experience less doubt if we were to serve Him more faithfully.”   One comment that Christian pastors sometimes hear from people... Continue Reading

The Most Ignored Commandment

It's one of the Bible's most well-known commandments. So why aren't we following it?

“In today’s 24/7 world, Sabbath-keeping is countercultural; it doesn’t just happen by default. If you long to lay down your heavy burdens, you’ll need to be more intentional about your time the other six days of the week.”   A recent poll of 2,000 pastors in North Carolina revealed that less than 10 percent are... Continue Reading

When Africa Bleeds

Boko Haram wants to “cleanse” Nigeria of Christians

“As the attacks have accelerated in recent weeks, leaders from various Christian denominations in Nigeria have called on their Christian brothers and sisters in the West, along with all people of goodwill, to speak out against the mounting violence in their country.”   Seldom in recent memory has the Western world seemed more united than... Continue Reading

10 Biblical Formulas To Change Your Life

We have to work at these formulas to get the benefit of the biblical truths in them into our lives

“Every formula is in “greater than” format. For example, the formula Good News > Bad News, based on Phil. 4:8, is saying make an effort to increase your intake of good news and reduce your intake of bad news in order to produce more of God’s peace in your lives.”   A few years ago, I was... Continue Reading

Can We Arrive At a Young Earth and 24-Hour Period Days in Genesis One From Scripture Alone?

There is stylistic beauty to Genesis 1, but that does not mean it is not "historical narrative"

“It is profitable to discuss the Bible with Christian brothers. I read and admire the writings of great Bible scholars of the past and the present, some of whom held or hold views on the days of creation that I cannot agree with. The issue of the earth’s age is a significant one, and serious... Continue Reading

Fat And Happy: Not So Important To The Christian

Over time, the skinny and sorrowful friend of Christ is better off than the fat and happy enemy

“According to the Teacher, those who live for themselves and focus on today, they are characterized by justice, fairness, equity, revenge, payback, self-protection, and self-promotion. They cannot wait for happiness tomorrow, so they must do everything within their means to grab personal happiness today.”   In Luke 6:20-23, Jesus comments on those who live not... Continue Reading

American Crusades and Existential Threats

There is an existential threat posed by Islamic fanaticism

The Obama administration’s refusal to recognize the existential nature of the threat posed by Islamic fanaticism does not make that threat less real. Given their apocalyptic vision, if al Qaeda’s rapidly metastasizing franchises obtain weapons of mass destruction they will use them. ISIS computer specialists demonstrated remarkable information age capabilities in their 22-minute Internet presentation... Continue Reading

On Dying Where You’re Planted: The Rooted Pastor

I am grudgingly accepting that you don’t choose the place, the place chooses you

“There is a risk to staying put. We should acknowledge it. That seems odd—what could be more conservative than putting down roots? But it is wildly speculative. The risk goes by the name: “opportunity cost.”  By staying put you limit yourself to what the land can yield, to what this particular place can yield. And... Continue Reading

Atlanta’s Former Fire Chief Sues The City, Says He Was Fired Because of Religious Beliefs

The standoff between the former Atlanta fire chief and the city that employed him has escalated

“Cochran, who is an evangelical Christian, was terminated in January after a city investigation pertaining to his self-published book, “Who Told You That You Were Naked,” a Bible study-style text that covers a range of his personal religious beliefs.”   The standoff between former Atlanta fire chief Kelvin Cochran and the city that used to employ him escalated on Thursday, when... Continue Reading

Openly Gay Athlete Speaks Out After School Calls Homosexuality A Sin

Erskine College with at least two openly gay athletes has issued a statement condemning homosexuality; expects students to follow the Bible's teachings about sexuality

“The release of this statement makes me disappointed because I have never received anything but kind treatment from everyone at this school, and my sexual orientation is no secret. So it took me by surprise,” Varona told Outsports … Erskine is affiliated with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, a small Christian denomination based in the... Continue Reading

Truth and Idolatry: Call Theological Error What It Is

We must call theological error what it is—unbelief and rebellion

Theological innovation is the fruit of theological rebellion, not biblical Christianity. Or to put it more precisely, theological innovation grows directly from the theologically rebellious. False teaching does not float in abstraction. It always has a face; it always has a mouth. It flows out a defiant heart.   Golden statues, empty rituals, and corrupting bondage.... Continue Reading

The Just-World Phenomena and Victim Blaming

When abuse of any sort raises its ugly head in the church, the victim is blamed in part if not for the whole like Job

But in our attempts to cope, are we turning the tables on the victim and blaming him or her to ease our own discomfort? What scriptures do we have to ignore to do this? Are we in denial? Are we minimizing, excusing, and over-spiritualizing the suffering? Does the victim matter as a person made in... Continue Reading

Worry & Happiness

What happens when you don’t know what to do and just want to do what is right, and how do you overcome much worry, anxiety, and depression due to this?

From this point of view, the struggles and uncertainty of this present age fizzle out. They don’t go away. But they seem as if one thing to do among many. No longer will they cause the worry monster to rear its head. They become less worrisome. “Can any of you add a single cubit to... Continue Reading

Three Hopeful Truths in the Midst of Suffering

Knowing that God is able and good, He actively works all things for my benefit and protection, and one day soon I will be safely home in heaven secures me in the midst of life’s painful trials.

As I sat in the chair with various instruments in my mouth and unappealing sounds ringing in my ears, I closed my eyes and pictured being at home. I considered that soon this temporary discomfort would be over and I would be back at home, going about my day. In a similar way, afflictions teach... Continue Reading

If Everyone Consents, Why Not “50 Shades” or Incest?

Is it really true that anything consenting adults agree to is acceptable?

As one professor of psychiatry recently wrote, consent is “a very thin and insufficient defense against sexual coercion and sexual abuse.” Why? Because people sometimes consent to things that they are not really comfortable with. Sometimes they even agree to do things that are harmful to them. Sometimes their consent isn’t always informed. There are... Continue Reading

Correctly Understanding Jesus’ Condemnation of the Pharisees

We should not be misled, unnerved, or defensive when adversaries of Biblical faith condemn traditional Christians as Pharisaical.

A common idea that people have is that a morally pure person who condemns the impure is self-righteous. To the contrary, such a person would have been made pure by God. If one is in fact impure, but condemns impurity in others, then that of course is hypocrisy, and indeed was what Jesus was condemning... Continue Reading

6 Rules of Cultural Engagement

I am a fan of that three-fold approach to engaging culture: reject what is evil, receive what is good, and redeem what is broken/lost.

Engaging the culture in this way demands great personal conviction. Like Jesus and the apostles, preaching the gospel in word and deed will both lead to you being favored as a helper, and hated as a meddler. It just depends on the issue. Everyone who labors in such work will encounter fear. Comfort and courage... Continue Reading

Recovering Joy In Seminary

I want to ask “Why are you so sad?” Then I want to ask, “Why is this important?”

A young man goes to Seminary bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. Having sensed God’s call to the ministry, he’s not only excited about preparing for future service but also about growing in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. He expects that the next 3-4 years are going to be some of the best... Continue Reading

A Pattern Among Fallen Pastors – Lessons for Us All

4 common characteristics of the lives of ministers who had fallen into a morally disqualifying sin

Who knows you? I mean who really knows you? Who not only has permission, but is currently acting upon the permission to ask you penetrating questions? Are you answering those questions honestly or are you hiding details and painting up your sin to guard your image? Do not hide from God’s gracious aid of loving... Continue Reading

How Political Correctness Improved My Life

The Left’s weapon of choice may be dividing the country, but it’s not winning converts.

Political correctness demystified the Left. I saw amongst the radical students a herd mentality more rigid and unthinking than I’d ever seen in an entire life growing up in a fundamentalist church (yes, fundamentalist — our little sect believed only its members merited eternal life). The herd conventional wisdom hardened virtually overnight, debate was minimal... Continue Reading

7 Things To Expect Post-Supremes’ Marriage Ruling

If the homosexual “personhood” mythology is embraced as U.S. high-court truth, this will be the justification for same-sex “marriage;” what will happen as a result?

Churches will have to make some hard choices. Tax-exempt status may be removed unless a church pledges not to preach “hate” – and expect to be monitored for compliance as well as see issues upon which the church cannot preach expand to abortion, creation, the exclusivity of Christ as Savior, and so on. After all,... Continue Reading

Doubt and Obedience

In moments of disbelief do we ask God, “What have you done for me lately?”

Though God has not promised to act in the same miraculous manner today as He did in the days of old, we can expect Him to move in our behalf. We don’t merit righteousness before our Father by our obedience, and the Lord’s grace is so vast that He regularly blesses us in spite of... Continue Reading

Making it Easy for the Minister to Take it Easy on You

Why do you make it so tough on us — your pastors and elders?

Scripture tells us that a true friend wounds out of love. And on top of all this, if we must choose, we are more interested in pleasing our Heavenly Father than keeping the peace with you. Therefore beloved brothers and sisters, we will come with the rod of God’s Word if necessary, but we would rather... Continue Reading

Reformed Congregational Fellowship Hosting Annual Pastors’ Conference

The annual Reformed Congregational Fellowship Pastors’ Conference will be April 14-16, 2015

The theme of the conference is “Free Indeed!” Freedom? Liberty? From what has the Christian been freed? How far does our freedom in Christ extend? What of the law? Is liberty the same as license? Does this liberty protect the conscience of the Christian? Is civil disobedience godly? The annual Reformed Congregational Fellowship Pastors’ Conference will... Continue Reading

Delta Dividends

In a community where race still divides, leaders look for ways to unite and cultivate

How important is Greenwood’s racial history? Depends who’s writing and displaying the history. Greenwood’s Museum of the Mississippi Delta last year displayed seven pretty but romanticized paintings of blacks working in the fields or driving cotton-filled wagons. It also had on a wall a small photo from 1963 of African-Americans walking in front of the... Continue Reading

Utah Highest, Vermont Lowest On Newest Church Attendance Poll

More Utahns go to church every week — 51 percent — than any other state, according to a new Gallup poll.

At the bottom of the list is Vermont, Gallup reports, “where 17 percent of residents say they attend religious services every week,” Newport writes. Just ahead of the Green Mountain State are New Hampshire (20 percent), Maine (20 percent), Massachusetts (22 percent), Washington (24 percent) and Oregon (24 percent). Half the bottom 10 are in... Continue Reading

Southern Baptists To Vote On NAMB Ministry Amendment

Chaplain-led ministry near overseas military bases someday may become part of the North American Mission Board's church planting outreach

The SBC Executive Committee approved a recommendation to be presented to messengers in Columbus, Ohio, to enable NAMB to “provide specialized, defined and agreed upon assistance to the International Mission Board in assisting churches to plant churches for specific groups outside the United States and Canada.”   NASHVILLE (BP) — Chaplain-led ministry near overseas military... Continue Reading

Book Briefs: Samuel Rutherford (Bitesize Biographies) by Richard Hannula

Samuel Rutherford is perhaps the best known Scottish Puritan. But his life and history seem not to be as widely remembered as other Puritan ministers.

Rutherford was influential as a member of the Scottish delegation to the Westminster Assembly in London, which gave to the church the most enduring English confession, the Westminster Confession of Faith. He played a part in its shape, defending a Presbyterian form of church government. He also helped work on the catechisms.   Samuel Rutherford... Continue Reading

The Table of the Nations, the Tower of Babel, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb: Part 1

A prominent question many worldviews and metanarratives are now wrestling with is the question of human diversity.

Our common ancestry in Adam (and Noah) points to our common need for a Savior and, for believers in Christ, a common new humanity. But there is more to the story — there is the glory of God in our differences as well as in our more fundamental commonality. That glory, visible even now, points... Continue Reading

The Ten Commandments as God’s Moral Law

One question that comes into play is whether or not the Ten Commandments should be thought of as a uniquely and eternally binding statement of God's moral law.

In addressing this concern, I would like to offer four arguments for why the Ten Commandments should be seen as separate and distinct from the other rules and regulations of the Mosaic economy, and why the Ten Commandments do set forth the universally binding moral law of God that is intended to serve as a... Continue Reading