Planning for the Future while Trusting God’s Provision

We live constantly in the experiential tension between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility, between the call to trust and the call to act.

I set my alarm to get out of bed this morning. You probably don’t judge that as an act of rank mistrust of God’s providence. I made plans. I didn’t assume that God would rouse me supernaturally at 5:30 a.m. That was not an act of unbelief but a wise embrace of secondary means. On... Continue Reading

3 Things to Remember When You’re Anxious

There's actually something comforting in the truth that we have good reason to be anxious. It normalizes the experience.

It’s striking that the most frequent command in the entire Bible is to not be afraid. Don’t fear. Don’t be anxious. And it’s a very unusual command because it doesn’t say, “Repent,” or “Try harder.” It’s a command, but then the next thing said is a promise: “I will be with you. Don’t be afraid.”... Continue Reading

The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 4, God’s Law

The same God who gave us the gospel has also given us his law.

This point can be easily overlooked by Christians who are concerned to be centered on the gospel. That concern is appropriate and those believers who have lived through seasons where the gospel was neglected or at best assumed are understandably sensitive to anything that would compete with its pride of place in the life of... Continue Reading

Does Calvinism Lead To Domestic Violence?

The inference drawn by the Relevant article and by Sandage is that Calvin’s doctrine of predestination makes God a tyrant, which licenses his (male) followers to become tyrants too.

Domestic violence is a serious problem, which I have tried to address here. Abusers need to be disciplined ecclesiastically and punished by civil authorities. Invoking centuries old caricatures of evident theological opponents (Boston University was founded as a Methodist school) hardly contributes seriously to addressing the problem.    Few bogeyman frighten Moderns as much as Calvin... Continue Reading

Cultivating the Bonds of Peace in the PCA

Why don’t we assume the best of our brothers in Christ, and not the worst?

When it comes to disagreeing with brothers over denominational issues, many of us can relate to Paul’s expression: “I do not do what I want, but often the very thing that I hate” (Rom. 7:15). We know deep down that we should engage in humble and open dialogue with the “other side”, and yet we... Continue Reading

Watch Your Life and Doctrine

Pastoral Reflections on 1 Timothy 4:16

One would think that Christians in general, and pastors in particular, would be exceedingly concerned with Paul’s admonition in 1 Timothy 4:16, “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (NIV). However, in recent discussions of fallen pastors, this verse is curiously... Continue Reading

“Nothing More Than Feelings”?: A Biblical-Theology Primer on the Emotions

Even in the church, doctrine and the mind can seem to be on one side, while emotions and experience are on the other.

Emotional health is the goal for many people, and it is frequently seen as crucial for attaining success. From our culture’s perspective, we love emotions, even when they seem to be tossing us around like a Ping-Pong ball in a windstorm. We also blame emotions as those villainous feelings that cause us pain.   “Feelings,... Continue Reading

The Benefits of Having a Timothy

Your Timothy is your second-in-command, your adviser and your protégé—just as Timothy was to Paul.

I have experienced many issues since taking the reigns of a youth ministry, a church team that ministers to 11-14-year-olds. And in that time I have experienced the immense value of having a “Timothy” to advise me, to share the struggles and triumphs, and to provide greater certainty for the future of the ministry.  ... Continue Reading

Two Planks of Sola Scriptura

The Word of God shall establish articles of faith and no one else, not even an angel.

Luther was not the first to argue for Scripture’s unique authority even over the pope. After Trent, though, the door was slammed shut on sola Scriptura within the Roman Catholic faith. Luther’s problem with the papal church was its corruptions of scriptural faith by the addition of myriad doctrines, practices, rituals, sacraments, and ceremonies. Medieval popes increasingly... Continue Reading

Counselor, Comforter, Keeper?

Vos gave the Greek word 'Paraklete' two individual meanings, based on its respective exegetical contexts.

The principal work of the Holy Spirit as Paraclete is to bring comfort, but the translation of the word itself as ‘Comforter,’ however common, appears to be incorrect and cannot be justified. Παρακαλεῖν does mean ‘encourage,’ ‘comfort,’ but παράκλητος is a passive, not an active, form. The explanation that most presently give it and that is... Continue Reading

The Essential Truth

The Lord is good to all, and his mercies are over all his works (Ps 145:9)

When we are feeling sorry for ourselves, we want validation, and sometimes, we secretly enjoy feeling that we deserve to complain. There is definitely a time for allowing someone to express her frustration, but ultimately, we cannot stay there. Complaining infects our thinking, taking our attention away from God to ourselves. We stop seeing God as good,... Continue Reading

Six Ordinary Lessons for Mental-Health Issues

We are thankful that there are physicians who have expertise in medication. But we do know that there are spiritual realities at the heart of all misery. Suffering is an occasion to reconsider the love of God, the sufferings of Jesus, the presence of the Spirit, and so many other attractive truths that bring comfort... Continue Reading

Natural Revelation: The Consequences of Suppression

Man’s abandonment of God, gives man Hell.

The fallout of the fall was vast, thorough, and ongoing, distorting and perverting everything. What was once natural was now rejected for unnatural passions and lusts, and with all sense of appropriate order went any sense of shame for what they were doing. People don’t just do these things; they develop a support base to help... Continue Reading

Miscarriage – You Are Not Alone!

God provided comfort in that time by reminding me that I wasn’t alone in my pain.

You may be struggling today with the fear and pain and questions that fertility issues can bring. My prayer for you is that my words will bring comfort. You are not less of a woman because you have lost a baby or have had difficulty conceiving. And you are not alone. You are surrounded by women... Continue Reading

Burnout Is Coming. Here’s How to Prevent It.

Christ-shaped compassion will include an inner receptivity to the compassion of the Father and an outward ministry of compassion toward those who need it most.

To be fully human is to embrace our need to receive his compassion, and to show compassion to others in return. So why do we experience “compassion burnout”? Because we are finite and fallen. Our compassion is a diminishing resource. But when we turn to the Scriptures, we discover that God’s is a never-ending supply.    The... Continue Reading

The Goodness of Christian Hope

Let’s not pass over just how good eternal life will be.

In heaven we will have new, perfect, physical bodies that can be tangibly nourished by the perfect feast that God has in store. For my non-Christian friend, hearing this seemed like a missing puzzle piece in making sense of eternal life. Never before had she conceived of eternal life as a tangible, physical reality and it seemed... Continue Reading

Ordering the Home without Being Controlling

Successful parenting and marriage is about rightful, God-ordained loss of control.

The goal of parenting is not to retain tightfisted control over our children in an attempt to guarantee their safety and our sanity. Only God is able to exercise that kind of control. Instead, the goal is to be used of Him to instill in our children an ever-maturing self-control through the principles of the... Continue Reading

We Persevere in the Faith Because of God’s Preserving Grace

In my prayers, I rarely fail to be grateful for God’s saving grace in Christ, but I realized that I seldom thank him for the daily grace that keeps me saved.

What happened? Where are the kids? What destroyed their marriage? What shipwrecked their faith — assuming they’ve left it behind? It wasn’t supposed to turn out this way. Then it hit me: This could have been me. It could have been my family.    I clicked on her Facebook page with eager anticipation of seeing... Continue Reading

Tim Keller, Christians & Politics

Keller's New York Times editorial Sunday, “How Do Christians Fit Into the Two-Party System? They Don’t,” is very thoughtful.

These themes from Keller are sound. Space permitting, no doubt he would have elaborated how Christian political witness is pursued and by whom. (Perhaps he does in his book, which I’ve not yet read.) It seems important, for example, to distinguish among the institutional church, i.e. a denomination or congregation and its employees, versus the... Continue Reading

Jesus Saves The Prince Of The Publicans

Zacchaeus was particularly dirty and, by implication, Jesus was to be regarded as tainted too.

For Jesus to associate with a “tax farmer” was politically incorrect. It was an affront the nationalist sensibilities. Zacchaeus, a Jew, was a traitor to his people. Still, he had a certain social (or at least economic) position. He was management not labor. This background makes Luke’s narrative all the more interesting   One of... Continue Reading

The Problem of Prayerlessness

Prayer is oxygen for the Christian. It sustains us.

It follows that prayer must be a source of life for any community of Christians. It is to the church what it is to individuals—breathing. Yet many of our gatherings could be likened to people coming together merely to hold their collective breath. This would explain why people seem to have so little energy for... Continue Reading

A Fiery Gospel: The Battle Hymn of the Republic

The OPC/URC psalter-hymnal takes an appropriately cautious approach to the nation’s place in public worship.

Caution has not always characterized Presbyterians in the United States. A century ago, songs about America and America’s wars provoked controversy among Presbyterians, in part due to the nation’s intervention in World War I and the desire evident among many pastors and congregations to mobilize themselves for earthly warfare.   The new Trinity Psalter Hymnal includes only... Continue Reading

Our View of Human Beings Matters

Worldviews shape and direct real people’s lives, creating real-world consequences.

“Tiamat has endured discrimination, abuse, and sexual violence—a lifetime of injustice committed against her at the hands of men. So, over time, she stopped identifying with our species…. Tiamat doesn’t seem like a human. She seems like a dragon, a mythical entity that has, through a series of ritualistic procedures, managed to escape the confines... Continue Reading

The Church at Election Time

As Christians, we should take seriously our responsibility to be salt and light in a world that is often rotten and dark.

I believe pastors must be careful how they lead their churches in our politically polarized culture. I know there are good brothers and sisters who may disagree with these principles and their practical implications. But at the very least, pastors must disciple their leaders and their congregations in thinking through these matters wisely and theologically.... Continue Reading

Andrew Brunson: Turkey Releases US Pastor After Two Years In Prison

Turkish court ordered release of Andrew Brunson, who had been held on terrorism charges related to the failed 2016 military coup.

Brunson was convicted of terrorism charges and sentenced to three years and one and a half months, but the court took time served into account and the remainder of his sentence was suspended. The interim panel of judges also lifted judicial control provisions, leaving Brunson free to travel outside Turkey.   The American pastor at... Continue Reading

God’s Control and Our Responsibility

R.C. Sproul's ministry was largely built on the central idea that if God is not sovereign, then He cannot be God.

we read in 1 Timothy 6:15–16 that God is called the “only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, [and] who dwells in unapproachable light.” In Psalm 95:3, we are told that nothing is more powerful or more authoritative than God. He is “a great King above all gods.” No one can... Continue Reading

[Book Review] The Riddle of Life

Man is no more able to create meaning and purpose than he is able to give life to the dead or call into existence the things that do not exist.

Man and his world remain an unsolved riddle, an impenetrable mystery. Yet, we are not to despair. There is, in fact, a clear way forward as J. H. Bavinck demonstrates in his book The Riddle of Life. In a simple, understandable, and persuasive manner, he presses in to answer the big questions that have riddled life: What... Continue Reading

America’s Hidden Mission Field: Why We Need Rural Churches

Many of the least churched regions were in rural America—where about 14 percent of the U.S. population lives, according to Pew Research.

Other Bible Belt counties join Loving as being among the least churched places in the U.S.—like Mississippi’s Issaquena County, Virginia’s Dickerson County, and several counties in Kentucky. Grant Hasty, pastor of Crossroads Community Baptist Church in Stearns—located in McCreary County, Kentucky—helped plant the church a decade ago. The core congregation is only about 60 people,... Continue Reading

To Know Ourselves…

Living makes sense and gives joy only when we live out that relationship before God.

The question “What is man?” must be answered by a sentence that has a reference to God in it. When, in the pursuit of the project of the self, we a priori exclude the person of God we not only cut ourselves off from knowing him, but from knowing ourselves. The project ends in frustration.  Fulfilled life... Continue Reading

The FAQS: Christians and the Moral Threat of Sex Robots

Throughout most of the 20th century, the average American Christian remained largely unaware of trends in deviant sexual behaviors until they reached either mainstream acceptance or had become large-scale social maladies.

The expansion and ubiquity of technology has caused such problems to rapidly shift from niche concerns to epidemics in almost every community in America. Whereas problems such as pornography and prostitution were once on the margin, the internet has pushed them into nearly every home. Similarly, sex robots may seem to be a futuristic concern.... Continue Reading