Jesus Is Better

For the current occupant of your heart’s throne to be unseated, a new thing of more significant value must unseat it.

Chalmers suggests that we have only to look at Christian conversion as God’s revealing to us the immeasurable value and beauty of Jesus Christ. Jesus unseats any would-be pretenders to the throne of our hearts. And because Jesus is the most valuable possession a person can possess, He cannot be unseated. But that doesn’t mean... Continue Reading

Noticing Literary Cues in Jonah

What is at stake should the reader focus first on matters of provenance, is that he would likely miss, or not fully apprehend, the embedded literary cues resident in the narrative.

I do not intend to propose a strict bifurcation between the literary nature of Jonah and the provenance of Jonah. I only wish to encourage the reader to see Jonah first as literature, and only then, after a strong understanding of its literary cues, should the reader turn to matters of provenance. Furthermore, I contend... Continue Reading

Gay Rights, Hate Speech, and Hospitality

Longings of a Former Lesbian

Twenty-two years ago, it was not considered hate speech for Ken to tell me that he accepted me as a lesbian, but did not approve. I rejected Ken’s worldview, and he rejected mine. We were on even ground. We saw clearly our worldview differences, but those divisions, back then, did not come with the accusatory... Continue Reading

The Joys (and the Limitations) of Male-Female Friendships

Does the brother-sister relationship provide a valid model of what I should expect to experience with sisters in Christ?

Brothers and sisters in Christ are meant to model their love, commitment, and purity on the familial relationship. Besides the hundreds of verses that exhort us to live as brothers and sisters, we have some very specific teaching on relationships: Treat “older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity,” says Paul to... Continue Reading

Should Christians Fast or Feast?

The verses about fasting are not so much about pride or hypocrisy or Christian liberty but about the movement from the old to the new—from the old covenant to the new covenant.

Jesus indicated that fasting was very appropriate under the old covenant, given the nature of the experience of the people of God under the law of Moses. But now that Christ has come, the reasons for fasting have largely faded away. Christians are people characterized by joy.   People fast for a variety of reasons.... Continue Reading

As One with Authority: The Four Pillars of Authoritative Preaching

According to Craddock, the modern preacher cannot—and perhaps should not—preach with authority.

In the words of Craddock, the preacher exists as one without authority. In a sense, Craddock’s diagnosis was right. The modern mind may well be adverse to authority and disinclined to trust the “sage on the stage.” Nonetheless, his prescription was dead wrong. Where there is no authority, there is no true preaching.   When published in... Continue Reading

Prudentius of Spain – A Classical Christian Poet

Prudentius reminds us of Augustine, who cried, “Too late have I loved thee, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new!”

Both this and the rest of Prudentius’s account reminds us of Augustine’s Confessions. Like Augustine, Prudentius pursued a legal career, ruled by an exuberant spirit and an obstinate desire to win. Like Augustine, he rose to prestigious positions (he was governor of two provinces) and served in the imperial court in Milan. But what good did this do... Continue Reading

Still Protesting, a Pastor’s Perspective

As a pastor, it is important to discern the things that matter and have eternal weight and emphasize those.

We must challenge the church and ask the continual question, “What are the marks of a true church?” and “is my church holding to those marks?” There is an old saying the applies here: “choose your battles.” Sometimes in “protesting” we want to fight every fight, we want to draw every line in the sand.... Continue Reading

Prayer That Matters

Of course we should pray—and yet in difficult situations we often still find ourselves asking ourselves the same question again: “What should I do?”

Peter and John faced such a situation in Acts 4. They were arrested, threatened, and charged “not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus” (v. 18). There were many ways for these two Apostles to respond: they could flee, hide, speak, or remain silent. What should they have done? Their response as... Continue Reading

Paul’s Understanding of Sexuality

A “gay Christian” is a contradiction in terms. One may identify as “gay,” one may identify as “Christian,” but one may not identify as both at the same time.

In summary, Paul identifies in 1 Cor 6:9 male same-sex behavior as sinful. He places none of the qualifications or limitations upon that behavior for which some in recent times have pled. There is, in other words, no category of acceptable or virtuous same-sex behavior in Paul’s thinking. Paul furthermore recognizes that what may attend... Continue Reading

The Unattainable Perfectionism of Millennials

Those who know nothing of grace, God’s love, or Christ’s redemption are thrown back upon themselves and their own resources to attain enough “merit” to perfect themselves.

“Broadly speaking, perfectionism is an irrational desire for flawlessness, combined with harsh self-criticism. But on a deeper level, what sets a perfectionist apart from someone who is simply diligent or hard-working is a single-minded need to correct their own imperfections. Perfectionists need to be told that they have achieved the best possible outcomes, whether that’s... Continue Reading

Confessions of a Reluctant Complementarian

Jesus had elevated women to an equal status with men. Paul, it seemed to me, had pushed them back down.

I believed this verse was harmful to my gospel witness. I was offering my unbelieving friends a radical narrative of power inversion, in which the Creator God laid down his life, in which the poor out-class the rich, in which outcasts become family. The gospel is a consuming fire of love-across-difference with the power to... Continue Reading

Who Is Representing You—Adam or Jesus?

The Bible explains the connection that all people have to one of two figures, either Adam or Christ.

Adam’s one sin was a representative action—God imputed, or credited, his one sinful deed to all humanity. Conversely, God imputes Christ’s representative obedience to all those who believe in him: “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men” (Rom. 5:18).... Continue Reading

Rejoice: Return to the Source of Your Joy

The true source of our joy is Christ and that will never go away.

“This is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Those words made my friend angry. They were supposed to be comforting, but in that moment, they enraged her. “Rejoice? Seriously?!” she thought. That didn’t make sense. She couldn’t even think of rejoicing right then, especially with all the uncertainty.... Continue Reading

We Need to Change How We Pray

It is easy to pray the trial away, but it isn’t always the best thing.

Of course, we should pray for healing, but we must think eternally as we pray for people facing trials. That’s why James 1:5 talks about lacking wisdom. The context of that verse is trials. The wisdom, then, is needed in order to face the trial in a God-honoring, joyful way in order to grow in steadfastness. Sure,... Continue Reading

The Church Must Not Rely on Shifting Political Winds to Face Our Cultural Storm

American churches are sometimes good at being spiritual hospitals, but often poor at training people to be good soldiers for Christ.

Churches and Christian organizations need to do the best they can to protect themselves from possible legal challenges at the local, state, and (eventually) national levels that sooner or later are likely to come. Free help rarely suffices: paying for efficient expertise is important. But even more importantly, Christians need to prepare spiritually for what’s... Continue Reading

Cultural Relativism, Even in the Face of Human Sacrifice

Relativism dominates the thinking of people; what’s wrong for one person, so it insists, may be right for another.

We know there’s absolute and universal right and wrong. The Bible says it’s written on our hearts. It is the basis of all just laws, and the reason why we rightly condemn everything from the ritual burning of Indian widows on their husband’s funeral pyres, to the Holocaust. Evil is evil, no matter which culture... Continue Reading

Consumer Church

A greedy consumerist attitude when it comes to church is the godly one to have, provided that the product is God Himself.

We won’t find a much stronger directive to become a chameleon – to adapt and to accommodate to whatever culture and audience we encounter. The last sentence in the quote above weighs down the anchor of truth which controls these shifts. Our eager efforts as Christians to remove obstacles to the gospel come, as obvious... Continue Reading

Requiem for the Pro-Life Movement

Is the pro-life movement on Capitol Hill dead?

The pro-life movement on Capitol Hill will languish as long as its leaders on and off the hill continue to defer to a leadership far more interested in saying “we passed spending bills” than they are about what’s in them. It will remain dormant as long as we continue to fall for and accept insincere... Continue Reading

The Good Fight of Faith

Dr. J. Gresham Machen’s last sermon preached before the students at the Princeton Theological Seminary on March 10, 1929.

Sad will it be for those to whom we minister if we let our changing moods be determinative of the message that at any moment we proclaim, or if we let our changing moods determine the question whether we shall or shall not stand against the rampant forces of unbelief in the church. We ought... Continue Reading

Don’t Settle for Roe

Rather than asking if Roe v. Wade is, somehow, “settled,” we should ask if it is good law.

To understand the problem with Roe we have to consider it from a different perspective than the usual one. The question is not “should abortion be legal,” or even, perhaps “under what conditions should it be legal.” The question is who should decide such questions. If we believe that we are “created equal,” then abortion... Continue Reading

We Never Suffer Alone

Serving and helping one another in the body of Christ is part of what it means to be united to one another.

Praying for one another is one of the ways we practically live out our union with one another. When we pray, we beseech our mutual Father to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters. The Reformer Martin Luther suffered from chronic physical ailments as well as emotional torment and despair. He relied upon other... Continue Reading

Book Review: How to Defend the Faith

A helpful bare-bones summary of the ideas behind Reformed (or presuppositional) apologetics.

This is a handy little book, especially for those who have already had some basic exposure to Reformed apologetics and are convinced of its elemental premises.  It gives the reader a good idea of how to biblically defend the faith and then also point our unbelieving conversation partners to the gospel.  It’s not just an... Continue Reading

From Complainers to Rejoicers

How can I become not only a noncomplainer but rather a wholehearted rejoicer?

Responding differently—becoming a rejoicer rather than a complainer—means first recognizing the truth of Philippians 2:13: “For it is God who works in you.” “Philippians,” Paul says in essence, “God is at work. God is in charge. God is willing and empowering you to live and serve in a way that pleases Him.”   When God’s... Continue Reading

Job-Shaming vs. Vocation

Job-shaming is especially despicable in light of the Christian doctrine of vocation

Our work is part of our calling from God–along with our families, our church life, and our citizenship–where He places us to love and serve our neighbors, as He works through us in our everyday lives. As such, all vocations are equally valuable in the eyes of God.   Geoffrey Owens is a Shakespearean actor, but... Continue Reading

I Dwell Among My Own People

Take it from the lips of the Shunammite woman. Make it your own creed of contentment.

“We understand God’s commitment to dwell among his people, and we should commit ourselves to emulate him and contentedly dwell among our own. Does this condemn travel, promote ethnocentrism, or stand against missions? No.”   One of the most beautiful statements of contentment came from the mouth of the Shunammite woman. You remember the story... Continue Reading

The Spirit Gives Life (Boston)

I really like the way Thomas Boston explained how the Holy Spirit gives life

“The effect of this promise (in John 6:37) is actual believing, produced by the quickening Spirit in the soul, immediately out of the spiritual life given to it by the communication of Himself thereto.”   I really like the way Thomas Boston explained how the Holy Spirit gives life (cf. John 6:63; 2 Cor. 3:6).... Continue Reading

Charles Spurgeon and the Importance of Consistency with Scripture in Theology

Spurgeon demonstrated consistency with Scripture over consistency with one’s preferred leanings

Spurgeon maintained that no man-made theological system is authoritative. He said, “My love of consistency with my own doctrinal views is not great enough to allow me knowingly to alter a single text of Scripture. I have great respect for orthodoxy, but my reverence for inspiration is far greater. I would sooner a hundred times... Continue Reading

A Man of Constant Sorrow

Jesus would carry this burden without the support or relief of His fellow men

“Those who experience sorrow and grief inevitably do one of two things when it wells up within their souls: either they refuse to open up to others about it or they seek the sympathy of others to help them press through it. We see both of these things played out in the experience of the... Continue Reading

The Glorious Inefficiency of Prayer

How inefficient to linger in prayer -- unless God is on His throne. Unless He hears.

“Inauspiciously, a prayer meeting in Antioch in Acts 13:1–3 became one of the most important moments in the history of the world. With their prayers and fasting, the church leaders said, God, we want your provision, not our small plans.”   Has there ever been greater pressure not to pray? Not just in private but... Continue Reading