The Word-less “Church”

At the heart of the mess is a simple phenomenon: the churches seem to have lost a love for and confidence in the Word of God.

These churches still carry Bibles and declare the authority of the Scriptures. They still have sermons based on Bible verses and still have Bible study classes. But not much of the Bible is actually read in their services. Their sermons and studies usually do not examine the Bible to see what it thinks is important... Continue Reading

A Fictional Pastor Teaches Us to Love Big in Small Places

There’s an important place for continuing the tradition of compelling fictional accounts of rural life and ministry.

If Herbert’s vision is to live on and capture the hearts of some in a new generation, it will likely be, in part, through the work of gifted writers. Brad Roth’s recent God’s Country(2017) provides a biblically informed, culturally aware, and deeply compelling understanding of rural ministry. There are also biographical stories that capture the beauty... Continue Reading

Carl and Harold and Billy

Behind the scenes, Billy Graham helped efforts to strengthen the evangelical mind.

Billy Graham worked behind the scenes to help his two older friends pursue this unusual vision for Christ’s kingship over the world of colleges and universities. The academic world has its own subculture and customs, and Ockenga and Henry thought this world needed Jesus Christ just as much as the homeless men at a rescue... Continue Reading

Martin Bucer on the Importance of Ruling Elders

Bucer revealed remarkable discernment regarding the nature and essence of the church.

“Because so much is involved in the pastoral office, with teaching, exhortation, warning and discipline, comfort and pardon..and since the Lord has also bestowed and distributed the gifts necessary for this office not to one or two, but in different ways to many, it was his will that his churches, if they were able to... Continue Reading

10 Things You Should Know about Sex

Sadly, today sex—a beautiful creation of God—functions in the surrounding culture like a spiritual solvent eating away at the very fabric of the human community.

Whether we know it or not, every human being lives in search of a savior. We are all propelled by a quest for identity, inner peace, and some kind of meaning and purpose. And we all look for it somewhere. Here’s the bottom line: looking to creation to get what only the Creator can give... Continue Reading

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

No amount of hypocrisy in the life of a Christian can drive someone further away from salvation.

The Bible tells us that it is up to God to cause people to come to their senses. Think about this for a second. They are blind. They are captured by the devil. They are incapable of escaping on their own. Why are you mad at them? Of course they deserve hell. Of course they... Continue Reading

5 Ways Your Church Could End Up In Court

These true stories reveal the need for awareness and prevention.

For years, sexual abuse of a minor was the number one reason churches went to court. That changed in 2016, when property disputes took the top spot. Disagreements over church property can often lead to legal trouble, as in the following case.    It’s something we all do: we see the headlines, read the news,... Continue Reading

4 Purposes for Which God Created You

God had a purpose when he created you and me and took good pleasure in his creation.

God offers a life of meaning and purpose to you. Christ lived, died, rose from the grave, and ascended to the right hand of the Father for the sins of the world to reconcile a broken relationship, to inaugurate his kingdom of peace, and to establish a good rule in the beginning of a new... Continue Reading

Resisting the Spirit of the Age

We resist the spirit of the age by refusing to worship the idols of the age.

We resist the spirit of the age by refusing to worship the idols of the age. And we do this by trusting, obeying, and worshiping the one true God of this and every age, who has called us to know Him forever through His Son and by His Spirit.   We live in an age... Continue Reading

Baptists and Federal Visionists Together?

Both Baptists and Federal Visionists collapse the divine decree into the outward administration of the covenant of grace, though for different reasons.

Baptists do not confess nor do they ordinarily teach that baptism necessarily confers what it signifies. They baptize professing believers because, it is believed, that person professing faith already has what baptism signifies. Nevertheless, the Federal Visionists and the Baptists agree that the visible church is composed of those who have what baptism signifies. Both... Continue Reading

10 Things You Should Know about Jonathan Edwards

He pastored his first church when he was 18 years old.

His final words were written to his daughter, Lucy: Dear Lucy, it seems to me to be the will of God that I must shortly leave you; therefore give my kindest love to my dear wife, and tell her, that the uncommon union, which has so long subsisted between us, has been of such a... Continue Reading

Why Won’t They Understand? Here Are 10 Reasons.

Why can’t they just listen to me? After nearly twenty years of asking those questions and seeking out the answers, here are a few of the possible reasons.

Over the past several years, my family and I have encountered several parents of adopted children with significantly negative behaviors.  Acting out, extreme defiance, abusing animals or other children, caught up in uncontrollable rage, or captured by wide mood swings are a few of the things these parents face.  Many are confused by these beyond-normal... Continue Reading

Two Churches Struggling with (Gender) Identity

The Free Church of Scotland and the Church of Scotland have both responded to the Scottish government’s proposals to allow people to self-identify as whatever gender they wish.

What about the Free Church (and other churches).  We can moan from the sidelines – refuse to get involved – shout in anger or shrink in despair. Or we can be a biblical Christ loving church which does what we can to welcome and help transpeople who are seeking Christ.  They need to know him and... Continue Reading

The Life and Death of Jesus: A Theophany

Christ’s life brings to fulfillment the entire spectrum of theophanies and appearances of God in the Old Testament.

Entering the cloud in Luke 9:34 is similar to Moses entering the cloud in Exodus 24:18. But, unlike at Mount Sinai, the heavenly voice at the transfiguration does not continue to speak, and does not deliver an extended message, parallel to the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. Instead, the voice directs the disciples’ attention to... Continue Reading

Exit Theology – Leaving the PCA?

When is the proper time for a church to withdraw from a Presbytery or a denomination?

The PCA was created in the context of ecclesiastical powers inherent in the hierarchical structure of the old Presbyterian Church in the United States (the “Southern Presbyterian Church”).  Ownership of property became a major issue.  Some churches lost their property.  Thus, the PCA created the provision that any church could leave the denomination at any... Continue Reading

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker: A Scandal of the Self

Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker: A Scandal of the Self

To appreciate fully the Bakkers’ significance requires locating them in a spiritual lineage that extends back to early American history. A post-Reformation phenomenon in religious culture—referred to as “religious enthusiasm” in the combative literature of the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe—came to have an enormous influence on American Christianity. For religious enthusiasts, the doctrines... Continue Reading

Loss and Grief

Some days, I am in the valley of the shadow of death, and I forget to remember that God is with me. But he doesn’t forget.

Grief. Sometimes loss is just a bit overwhelming. Sometimes I wish I could just experience what they call the “ugly cry” but I don’t think I’m able to. Too unseemly. I have too much of my father in me I guess. But I still grieve. I am grieving for lost youth. I wasn’t ready for... Continue Reading

“Biblical Womanhood”: What Is a Woman?

We must stop teaching stereotypes as if they are based in scripture.

Jacob cooked stew. Jesus cooked fish. The male deacons—not the women’s ministry—served food to the Greek widows. Paul let himself be beat up in Philippi, and Jesus allowed himself to be stripped and spit on—great insults to manhood. Mary of Bethany sat in the traditional pose of a male seminary student as she studied Torah... Continue Reading

Cultivating Praise in Marriage

Prayer with thanksgiving (Phil. 4:6) is the most powerful path to growth in valuing, enjoying, and encouraging your spouse.

As you grow in this, it will do more than strengthen your marriage. When we praise one another, we are, in a sense, practicing for glory. Paul writes, “you can boast of us just as we will boast of you in the day of the Lord Jesus” (2 Cor 1:14b). Praise and affirmation are surely... Continue Reading

Transgenderism and the Threat to Parental Rights

The appearance of transgenderism, or self-defined sexuality, on the cultural scene in the Western world adds a dramatic new dimension to the struggle between the family and the state for control of children.

This was recently underscored when an Ohio family lost custody of their 17-year-old daughter, who claims to be a transgender individual (i.e., really a boy) and wanted to begin sex transitioning, which her parents blocked. A description of sex transitioning, the current emphasis of legal efforts to require transitioning of children, and its threat to parental rights,... Continue Reading

Why You Need an Untouchable Day (or Two) Every Week

This is not just to maximize productivity but also to maximize relational, emotional, and mental health.

Now, your work or study circumstances may not allow you to schedule a full day or two a week. However, don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress. Everyone can schedule some untouchable time a day (see Kevin DeYoung’s What I learned on my Week-long Digital Fast for some ideas on how to start). If we’re honest,... Continue Reading

God Is Holding On to You

Even if we might try to break free of his grip and let go of him, he is holding on to us tightly and keeping us safe.

Our Father is perfectly wise and good and he knows how to uphold his children so that we persevere. That illness, that disappointment, that conflict, that setback, that failure—in God’s hands don’t we see these things bringing us to a new sense of our helplessness apart from the Lord, a new lease of life in... Continue Reading

The Persuasion of the Gospel

"God speaks to us not primarily to inform us, but to encounter us in judgment and grace"

And yet the Christian longs for relief, for a remedy, for rescue, for the comfort of the gospel. To effectively reach and help the hearer the preacher must teach not only truth but use godly persuasion to convince of that truth those weak in faith, those struggling with the guilt of sin, and those harboring doubts of... Continue Reading

The Internet Is Making Us Angry, Thoughtless, and Less Truthful

Shock and anger and snark get attention and Likes and shares, but not reasonableness and thoughtfulness.

In order to survive, websites need to constantly publish content that will provoke heavy emotion. Be controversial or outraged or hilarious or sexual. But whatever you do … don’t be boring. Truth isn’t as important as emotion. Reality isn’t as important as how many page views will be generated. Every part of what’s published, from... Continue Reading

3 Things to Know About Union with Christ

Through the Holy Spirit who gives us faith, we are united to Christ like branches to a vine.

Dead branches are now being grafted in to a new, living vine. Being united to the first Adam who fell, we were dead in trespasses and sin. But now, we have been granted new life because of the work of Jesus, who is called the second Adam (Rom. 5). Knowing the following three aspects of... Continue Reading

The Power of Sisterhood: Women Spurring Women to Do Hard and Good Things

I am convinced the best way women can serve one another—and even the entire world—is to meet together and to encourage one another to love and good works.

It has been women in my life who have shown me over and over and over what it looks like to love God and love my neighbor. As I have walked life with them, they have spurred me on to good works. Truly, I would not have pursued Christ without their godly influence.    Remember Donna? My workout... Continue Reading

Are You a Contender?

Like brave mothers who snatch their children from a cougar’s jaws, our fight to defend is compelled by love.

We fight, first, because we love the truth, and second, because we love people and want to save them from certain death. We fight to “save others by snatching them out of the fire” of God’s judgment against unbelief and apostasy. We defend the truth as an act of mercy toward “those who doubt” (Jude 22-23).  ... Continue Reading

A Better Country For Mom

One day mom won’t laugh with me here. But she won’t weep there, in that better country.

Canada is a better country than Ghana, but mom couldn’t imagine she would suffer so much in a better country. But there is a country better than Canada. There is a country better than every country in this world. There, mom won’t suffer anymore. I don’t want to think about mom not being here. But... Continue Reading

How to Understand the Jordan Peterson Phenomenon

Peterson has stolen the song about order and meaning we Christians use to sing so well. It’s time we steal it back.

So many evangelicals are fascinated and concerned about Peterson because he  exemplifies the kind of popular thought leader our movement has not produced since Schaeffer. Personality alone, though, cannot fully explain the popularity of Peterson. His appeal is due largely to his ability to deliver an inspiring, albeit pseudo-Christian, counter-cultural message for an anxious age.... Continue Reading

Keeping the Sabbath Saved My Marriage, My Ministry, and Probably My Life

I used to think resting from work was selfish, until I considered the example of Jesus.

I had been working tirelessly only to let one more person down. I could not go on like I had been. By the sovereign grace of God, I had been reading a book by pastor and theologian Eugene Peterson. Through reading the book, I discovered something I had completely ignored in 10 years of Bible... Continue Reading