Is God Far Away When He Feels Far Away?

A battle in the human heart arises where when something is very hard and God seems far away

So, the experience of God feeling far away is a common one. What is so remarkable in how the Bible approaches people in suffering—fully cognizant that they feel God is far away—is that over and over again it says “he’s near, he’s in it, and he’s going through this with you.”   So Crushed in... Continue Reading

How Christian Faith Led a Single Woman to Defy Chairman Mao

Lin Zhao’s faith led her to embrace communism — then pay the price for opposing it

“Lin Zhao’s story is not easy to read. It has few glimpses of hope and far more despair than triumph. Doubtless, Lian bears secondary trauma from living with it for so many years. Yet knowing Lin Zhao’s story feels essential for anyone who wants to understand the true cost—to mind, body, and family—of steadfast opposition... Continue Reading

Are You A Hoarding Church Or A Healthy Church?

The temptation is to hoard. To focus on our needs. But we are called to a bigger focus.

“The temptation as a church and as a church leader is to hoard people, especially good people, especially if you are situated in an area without a regular influx of newcomers. It is immensely costly to give away your people to other ministries and other churches. It feels painful and costly and can make something... Continue Reading

Residents Banned From Holding Bible Study, Praying in Condo’s Common Area

A sign was placed in the community room saying "ANY AND ALL CHRISTIAN MUSIC IS BANNED!"

“The complaint explains that Donna Dunbar, a Seventh-day Adventist lay minister who runs a nationally recognized soup kitchen with her husband, held a small women’s Bible study in the social room of the Cambridge House complex for two hours on Monday mornings for nearly a year.”   A Florida woman filed a federal complaint after... Continue Reading

Bart Ehrman on How Christianity Defeated Paganism

The combination of Christianity’s missionary heart and exclusive worship led to its eventual triumph

Ehrman argues that the emergence of Christianity as the victor over pagan religions in the ancient world was “the single greatest cultural transformation our world has ever seen.” And, consequently, there are few historical questions more important (and interesting) than how and why that happened.   In recent years there’s been a resurgence of interest... Continue Reading

14 Women of the Reformation That You Probably Never Knew About

These women were dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ, some to the point of martyrdom

“Many of these women were well-educated, especially by the standard of their time. They read theology books, especially the Bible, and anything they could get their hands on from the reformers. Their inner circles of friends were part of long and frequent Bible studies.”   All too often, the textbooks focus solely on the men... Continue Reading

The Power of Biblical Thinking

There is something supremely biblical about thinking right thoughts

However, when you look at yourself through the biblical lens of God’s Law, you discover that, “you are a worse sinner than you ever dared imagine;” then, when you look at yourself through the lens of Christ, you realize that “you’re more loved than you ever dared hope.”   Somewhat surprisingly, there has been a... Continue Reading

5 Ways Spurgeon’s Metropolitan Tabernacle Cultivated Meaningful Membership

Spurgeon and the Metropolitan Tabernacle remain a model for pastors and churches today

For all of his evangelistic preaching, Spurgeon refused to separate the call to the gospel with the call to be accountable to a local church. Spurgeon once stated, “I would rather give up my pastorate than admit any man to the Church who was not obedient to his Lord’s command; and such a course would... Continue Reading

The Moment of Truth: Its Rejection

In this very generation in which we live, we hear this malignant mantra: “What is truth?”

Pilate, standing before the Lord Jesus Christ, who is truth incarnate, voices an age-old question. But it is not an honest question from one searching to know the truth. Rather, it is a defiant denunciation of the truth. It is spoken with a tone of derision. It is dismissive. It is spoken with contempt. This response... Continue Reading

Turkey Wants to Keep American Pastor Behind Bars for Life

American officials and supporters say Andrew Brunson has been “unjustly imprisoned” under false charges.

“Let it be clear. I am in prison not for anything I have done wrong, but because of who I am—a Christian pastor,” he wrote. “I desperately miss my wife and children. Yet I believe this to be true: it is an honor to suffer for Jesus Christ, as many have before me. My deepest... Continue Reading

12 Reasons I Love my “Smaller” Church

46% of American churchgoers attend a church of 100 or fewer members.

My church has around 120 members currently, which technically puts it in the midsize category. It still feels like a small church to me, though, as I have attended much larger churches in the past. Here are twelve reasons I love my “smaller” church.   While it may seem as if large churches with lots... Continue Reading

Where Our Anger Comes From (And How to Fight)

I’m talking about that anger that erupts when our plans are frustrated or our teenager dents the car.

When we believe in Jesus, God gives us his Holy Spirit and causes us to be born again to a new life. We are no longer under the dominion of our fallen nature, but it still seeks to exert itself. And the “works” of our fallen nature include anger: “enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger,... Continue Reading

A Tale of Two Williams

One goes to a country that is regarded as the graveyard of missionaries because of the lack of fruit, the other had a ministry mindset of gathering big crowds and encouraging decisions for Christ on the spot.

With our mindset of big crowds = success, and many converts = the Holy Spirit doing work, it is easy to look at these two Bill’s as one being a failure and the other being successful. Most of the Evangelical Church wrongly believes that you are not being blessed in ministry unless you have a... Continue Reading

How Do You Evaluate a Pastor?

I just want to boil it down to two categories: godliness and giftedness.

Before going into what the Bible says about these categories, I want to acknowledge that there are a number of “common grace” preferences that we may come to appreciate about various pastors. Some men may have an extra dose of a particular category. Certainly, you can think of one who exudes more warmth. Perhaps you... Continue Reading

Braving Hard Passages: Baptism for the Dead

First, we should consider the context of a passage unclear to us.

Two principles that are worth remembering when you come to hard texts are (1) we must always let Scripture interpret Scripture; and (2) do not form an entire doctrine from one obscure and difficult text. This second principle really flows from the first. No major doctrine in Scripture entirely hangs on one text. The beauty... Continue Reading

InterVarsity Back on Campus After Suing Wayne State

Michigan university had kicked out student ministry over requiring leaders to hold Christian beliefs.

Last year, InterVarsity lost its recognition as a student group at Wayne State, the third-largest school in Michigan, over requirements that its leaders affirm the organization’s Christian beliefs. The school viewed the belief requirement as a violation of its nondiscrimination policy.   Just two days after InterVarsity Christian Fellowship filed a lawsuit against Wayne State... Continue Reading

Why Controversy Is Sometimes Necessary

Is it ever right for Christians and churches to engage in controversy?

The church has had to face controversies over doctrines as central and essential as the full deity and humanity of Christ, the nature of the Trinity, justification by faith alone, and the truthfulness of Scripture. Had those controversies been avoided, the gospel and the authority of Scripture would have been forfeited. These controversies were over... Continue Reading

The God Who Gives Life to the Dead: A Redemptive-Historical Reading of Romans 4:1-25

It is not the adherents of the Law who are the heirs, but those who share in the faith of Abraham, a faith that believes in the God “who gives life to the dead.”

Paul now sees another earlier typological fulfillment of the promise in Abraham when the Lord brings life from his body, “which was as good as dead,” and “the deadness of Sarah’s womb” (4:19). It was not Abraham’s doing that would bring forth life—such would be impossible for him as one residing under death’s influence—but believing in God alone who could do it.... Continue Reading

3 Reasons Every Christian Needs To Use The Creeds

How the creeds of the Church through the ages provide guidance for us today.

In the creeds, we find a way to worship God with the saints of all ages, hearing the echoes of worship through the centuries. We find a people from all nations, tribes, and tongues worshipping the triune God for the redemption he has purchased in Jesus. We have a foretaste of the new creation he... Continue Reading

Expositional Imposters (Expanded)

Expositional preaching is “preaching that takes for the point of a sermon the point of a particular passage of Scripture;” however, not all preaching is truly expositional.

The “exegetical sermon” totally misses the congregation. Some preaching that claims to be expositional is rejected as boring and irrelevant . . . and rightly so! One could just as well be reading from an exegetical commentary. Everything that is said is true to the passage, but it’s not really preaching; it is merely a... Continue Reading

A Letter From Your “Rich” Church Member

Generosity is a craft developed over time, an acquired skill involving some self discovery and the Spirit’s direction.

I need God’s Word to challenge all aspects of my life, including my generosity and my relationship with money. You think preaching on money will drive me away. It’s not true. I understand the difference between manipulation and Christ-centered preaching on stewardship. Don’t preach on money because you need more money in the offering plate.... Continue Reading

Sex Change: Physically Impossible, Psychosocially Unhelpful, and Philosophically Misguided

Modern medicine can’t reassign sex physically, and attempting to do so doesn’t produce good outcomes psychosocially. Here is the evidence.

Cosmetic surgery and cross-sex hormones can’t change us into the opposite sex. They can affect appearances. They can stunt or damage some outward expressions of our reproductive organization. But they can’t transform it. They can’t turn us from one sex into the other. “Scientifically speaking, transgender men are not biological men and transgender women are... Continue Reading

11 Classics Every Christian Should Read

Some suggestions on great literature that will encourage you in the Christian life.

Knowing God by J.I. Packer: This longstanding, top-rated book walks Christians into the beauty, glory, and joy of knowing God—both intellectually and intimately. We need to know things about God in order to know God, just like how we know things about our spouse in order to continue to sustain a meaningful and healthy relationship. Packer... Continue Reading

We Don’t Need To Go Back To The Early Church

Let’s not pretend that the early church didn’t have their problems.

People often over-celebrate the early church in a veiled attack on the present church. “The church today is lame, too organized, not free-wheeling enough.” They look back on the early church and crave those early days. But Solomon tells us not to do such a thing. “Don’t say, ‘Why were the former days better than... Continue Reading

Practice Makes Perfect

The Hebrew word 'blameless' does not denote 'sinless' but rather it points to a mature Christian character, in which all graces were blended and balanced.

I rarely hear believers talking deeply about holiness today. Sin and worldliness seem to be missing words in Christian chit-chat. In our zeal to win the lost there appears to be more focus on being trendy – on conforming to expectations of the world so as to be as similar as possible. As I come to... Continue Reading

Braving Hard Passages and Godliness

When it comes to understanding Scripture, ignorance is not so much an aspect of intelligence, but rather an aspect of the heart.

Is this not what we see when Satan blinded all of humanity to God’s word? His temptation to Adam and Eve was to have them stand over and against God’s word, tempting them to know good and evil according to their own judgments, rather than submitting to God’s word. And in that fateful posture, what... Continue Reading

Preaching: What Is the Gospel?

Justification is at the heart of the gospel, but it is most certainly not the whole of the gospel.

The gospel is about how God objectively saves us through the coming, continuing, and consummation of His kingdom AND the gospel is about how God subjectively justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies His people. Each one of these is a part of the good news, and all are presented and taught in the Scriptures. In fact –... Continue Reading

Facts Don’t Care About Your Feelings, But Christians Should

Here’s four things to remember when we discuss the tone of the believer in evangelism.

The fact of the matter is that facts might not care about your feelings, but Christians should. This will not alter our message in any way, but it should alter our delivery. The fruit of the Spirit, the list found in Galatians 5:22-23, literally affects our speech. Every single one of them will be reflected in... Continue Reading

Civility Isn’t Surrender

Fight on, but remember — even in polarized times, grace remains a virtue.

When you combine humility, conviction, and a sense of proportion, civility is the typical result. And that form of civility is anything but surrender. In fact, I’d argue that in the long run, it’s the path to ideological expansion, not retreat. It’s the path to becoming a reliable, trustworthy communicator. It’s the best way to... Continue Reading

Rome’s ‘Tyrannical Distortion’ (Murray)

When we refuse ecumenical ties with Rome, we do so on firm biblical grounds.

The Roman Catholic Church neither believes nor teaches that Scripture is the highest authority and only source of inspired and infallible truth for God’s people. In other words, they do not teach or believe “sola Scriptura.”  In fact, at the Second Vatican Council, Rome said that “…it is not from sacred Scripture alone that the... Continue Reading