Pride Comes Before A Fall – Lessons from Perth’s Shame

The church that marries the spirit of this age will be a widow in the next.

The door to the church is always open.  Jesus described himself as ‘the door’.  We always invite people to come to him – in repentance and faith.  But I suspect you mean the door to the church changing its beliefs in order to fit in with some beliefs that our society holds (or at least... Continue Reading

Instead of Worrying

There are lots of things to worry about: money, health, family, career—you can fill in the rest.

The good news is that the Scriptures give us clear direction when the burdens of life press in upon us. Paul was a man who had a lot to worry about. There were all those struggling new churches, his concern for those who had not yet heard the gospel, not to mention his own health... Continue Reading

I Want Christlike, Bible Reflexes

The gasps, sneers, and eye-rolls may tempt us to soft-pedal the Bible’s teaching, but they can also strengthen our resolve.

When the swirling cultural debates are kicking up dust around us, we don’t answer the question from the standpoint of what the experts (even the religious experts) are saying. We are not thinking about sexuality, gender, marriage, and issues of life based upon what the editorial pages or headlines news says. Instead, we follow Jesus’s... Continue Reading

Why the Left Is So Afraid of Jordan Peterson

The Canadian psychology professor’s stardom is evidence that leftism is on the decline—and deeply vulnerable.

Whatever was happening, it was happening on a scale and with a rapidity that was beyond the ability of the traditional culture keepers to grasp. When the left finally realized what was happening, all it could do was try to bail out the Pacific Ocean with a spoon.   Two years ago, I walked downstairs... Continue Reading

So, What Comes After Church Growth?

Characteristics of the Church Growth Movement itself present challenges to church multiplication.

Driven by a zeal for Jesus and propelled by a deep evangelistic fervor, men and women sought to leverage their cultural ingenuity to create churches that appealed to the masses and made it possible for many to hear the good news of Jesus Christ. As with any culture-driven ecclesiology, the upcoming implications of these ideas... Continue Reading

Discipleship Isn’t What You Think it Is

Christian faith and experience take on a form in the world, Christian discipleship, which is the next chapter, the next act, the next destination in the ongoing experience of belonging to the living Christ.

While we know Jesus was a disciple-maker, our contemporary versions of Christianity often struggle with or omit entirely any meaningful process of discipleship that can’t be labeled as teaching/preaching or supporting a church program. As a result, the continuing emphasis on Christian doctrine takes place in the midst of a movement that is clearly shaped... Continue Reading

How Not to Worship Your Worship

It’s good to be amazed that I love the Lord, but the more wondrous, more foundational reality is that he loves me.

When our songs and prayers are dominated by what we think and feel about God and focus less on who he is and what he thinks and feels about us, we run the risk of fueling our emotions with more emotion. We can end up worshiping our worship. What thoughts can bring balance when we’re... Continue Reading

Church Growth, The Theology Of The Cross, And The Theology Of Glory

I had become obsessed about “church growth” and I had, to my shame, to some degree, neglected my first duty as a minister, to care for the flock with which I had been entrusted.

In a couple of my pastoral theology courses, in seminary, taught by adjunct professors, we heard and read quite a bit about techniques for time management and church growth. Another of my professors warned me repeatedly about the dangers of “empire building” (about which he was quite right) but nevertheless, later, as a young pastor... Continue Reading

God Never Forgets His Promises

In the words of the Westminster Confession, God in His providence “upholds, directs, disposes and governs all creatures, actions and things” to bring about a sovereignly pre-determined plan (5.1).

Providence has wider issues in mind than merely our personal comfort or gain. In answer to the oft-cited question in times of difficulty, “Why me?” the forthcoming answer is always, “Them!” He allows us to suffer so that others may be blessed. Joseph suffered in order that his undeserving brothers might receive blessing.   The... Continue Reading

Christians Should Say “No” to Revoice’s “Vocation of Yes”

The Revoice conference would clearly not have proceeded as it did if all the speakers shared a firm understanding that same-sex orientation is, in fact, disordered.

Last week, Hill wrote a report on the conference for First Things entitled “Revoice And a Vocation of Yes.” Before Hill wrote this piece, he and other Revoice organizers had already engaged in extended written back-and-forth with conservative thinkers like Al Mohler, Denny Burk, and Robert Gagnon. I would like to offer three more thoughts of my... Continue Reading

Satanists Unveil 8-foot ‘Baphomet’ Statue at Arkansas State Capitol

The Satanic Temple unveiled a statue of the occult idol Baphomet outside the Arkansas State Capitol building on August 16 to protest the Ten Commandments monument already on capitol grounds.

It was a spectacle designed to highlight First Amendment values, event organizers said. “If you’re going to have one religious monument up then it should be open to others, and if you don’t agree with that then let’s just not have any at all,” said Satanic Arkansas co-founder Ivy Forrester, who helped organize the rally.... Continue Reading

Unashamed of the Bible

Ten Aspirations for Christian Communicators

The Bible teaches us that something deeper than the Bible makes it possible for the human heart to submit to the Bible. Therefore, how will we ever articulate and justify the goal to pursue something in the heart deeper than the Bible without using the Bible? This means that among our aspirations for Christian writing... Continue Reading

The Lost Art of Hospitality

Perhaps you never thought about it, but hospitality is the key to so many areas of the Christian life.

As I think about the practice of hospitality, I see it as being one of the greatest tools that God can use in our personal sanctification. I’ve also seen how it can be an incredible tool God uses in the lives of our children and their walks with Christ. There are four areas that I’d... Continue Reading

Social Injustice and the Gospel

As believers, “we know . . . that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1 John 5:19), so worldly power structures are—and always have been—systemically unjust to one degree or another.

The evangelicals who are saying the most and talking the loudest these days about what’s referred to as “social justice” seem to have a very different perspective. Their rhetoric certainly points a different direction, demanding repentance and reparations from one ethnic group for the sins of its ancestors against another. It’s the language of law,... Continue Reading

Three Good Books — and the Return of Another Old Friend

Books like this are important because they actually help us to think about the Church rather than simply capitulate to the trendies or merely shout Bible verses louder at them.

While Weinandy’s Roman Catholicism is evident in his treatment of the Lord’s Supper, this is a book that Protestants will otherwise find most helpful. I for one will never be able to preach the gospel narrative in quite the same way again.     The first is Thomas Weinandy’s Jesus Becoming Jesus.  Weinandy is a Franciscantheologian who is well-known in orthodox Protestant circles for his... Continue Reading

Living Under Authority

How does my obedience to my professors, my boss, or the government in any way benefit Christ?

We’re bondservants to God. We’re slaves of Jesus Christ. So, even if the rest of the world is running on the track of anti-authority and anti-submissiveness, we aren’t allowed to join in. We’re called to be scrupulous to maintain order. There is such a thing as law and order that God Himself has ordained in... Continue Reading

Have You Become What You Worship?

Some think of idolatry as a thing of the past, something primitive cultures struggled with but we no longer are tempted by in our modern day. Is this true?

Idolatry ultimately is about our conception of who God is. If people have a significantly wrong conception of who God is, then they commit themselves to a false and distorted conception of God and thus a false God. This becomes tantamount to idolatry. This is why God’s people must know his word. Only by knowing... Continue Reading

Why It’s Destructive to Deny God’s Sovereignty in Suffering

If God is limited in the bad things, that means God is limited in his ability to heal and redeem you.

For me, one of the most comforting things in surviving and recovering from the death of my child was knowing that God was completely and fully in control in his death. Before he created the world, my God had marked the number of days that my son would live.   Getting God Off the Hook?... Continue Reading

Predestination Is Biblical, Beautiful, and Practical

Disputed and disdained though it may be, predestination and its sibling, election, are plainly taught in Scripture, and every exegete must make peace with it.

Many evangelicals—including pastors—see the doctrine as best left alone, forbidden theological fruit, fraught with speculation. It’s just not practical, they argue. It’s a debate for seminary classes with no real bearing on the full-court press of everyday life.   In some churches, it is a word that conjures up images of an angry and capricious... Continue Reading

One Week Ago in Belfast

A question we may ask is “are evangelicals Presbyterian?

If asking Presbyterians to be evangelical commits Presbyterian adherents to religious practices at odds with or different from the Reformed faith’s churchly piety, then being an evangelical may actually be a curse rather than a blessing. The reason is that Presbyterians intent on being evangelical may end up abandoning the very practices that have been... Continue Reading

Haters Gon’ Hate

Do you expect to be liked by everyone?

Paul taught that everyone who desires to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). He did not say, “Just the awkward, hyper-spiritual, loud-mouthed-and-lacking-love believer.” He said all. And to help us, God gave us a book full of godly, yet hated men and women pursuing righteousness.   A liberating truth... Continue Reading

10 Things You Should Know about Dementia

The image of God imparts a dignity to all people and demands our respect.

In many cases giving care to those with dementia is harder than experiencing dementia itself. The early stages of dementia can be very frustrating for a patient increasingly conscious of their cognitive decline. As the disease progresses many are quite content living in the present tense. They are not bothered by mistakes of the past... Continue Reading

Why I Don’t Prefer the Phrase “Criteria of Canonicity”

Typically things like apostolicity, orthodoxy, usage, age, etc. are the criteria by which books are evaluated to determine their Biblical canonicity.

The term “criteria” gives the impression that someone is standing over canonical books, judging them by some external standard not found in the canonical books themselves. It can imply that there is some neutral investigative starting place where we can use scientific criteria to evaluate books.   If a person asks how we know which books belong... Continue Reading

The Holy Spirit’s Ministry

The Reformers placed tremendous stress on the gifts of the Spirit to the whole body of Christ

Perhaps the most important common thread is the Spirit’s ministry in illumination—He enlightens our minds to enable us to know, see, grasp, and apply the will and purposes of God. There was an immediacy to illumination in the temporary gifts. The Spirit taught the apostles “all things” (John 14:26) and led them into “all truth”... Continue Reading

The Redemptive-Historical End Zone Verse

Legion have been the proposed explanations of John 3:16 – what some call, “the end-zone verse”

“Many, in reaction to those who espouse an Arminian reading of John 3:16, have suggested that John only has the elect in view. The logic runs thus: If Jesus only died for the elect, then it is only the elect God loves. Therefore, since John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave... Continue Reading

How The Ancients Heard Resurrection: A Reply to David Bentley Hart

Ancient Christian readers and interpreters of Paul did not share David Bentley Hart’s understanding

Hart leaves us to wonder how he himself is able to “listen with antique ears” and to divine what the interpretive minds of Paul’s contemporaries “would have” understood. He provides no evidence for it. Missing is any exploration of “the implications, physical and metaphysical, that such words had in the age of the early church.”... Continue Reading

What Christians Should Think About the Refugee Crisis and Terrorism

According to Paul, the reason God orchestrates people movement is so that they may find Him

“Syrians, Afghans, and Iranians are on our doorstep and many of them come with great openness to the message of salvation in Jesus. This is our new reality. We can either stand on the shore of disbelief and incredulity or we can hop on the tidal wave God has created.”   Much fear surrounds the... Continue Reading

Is Your Church a Safe Place for Kids (Or Adults For That Matter)?

There are safety checks we could make based upon the biblical criteria for Christian community

We must be careful not to treat people, especially young people, as unintelligent (much less as apostates!) for simply having questions, or for having thoughtfully investigated a viewpoint different from the church’s position. Sometimes church leaders do this without realizing it.   As a society, we’re scrutinizing much more closely the adults and young adults... Continue Reading

Passing It On

There is no shortage of places we can go to in the Bible that remind us of the importance of passing on the faith to the next generation

“God is concerned not only for our faith but also for the faith of our children. And surely that should be our concern too. If our children’s salvation is not our highest priority for them then we either don’t truly believe the gospel or we don’t truly love our children.”   Earlier this year I... Continue Reading

The Encouragement Of Congregational Singing

One of the great gifts that God has given His church is the gift of congregational singing

“I hear these people singing and I am reminded of the victory and power of the gospel. There is no weakness, no stain of sin, no power of temptation, no spiritual darkness that can ever conquer the power of God working in the lives of His people. Their voices remind me of the freedom and... Continue Reading