Fill Your Wandering Heart with Thankfulness

The more thankfulness is present in us, the less vulnerable we are to sin.

Gratitude is what we experience when we perceive that what we have received is an undeserved gift of God’s grace. It is a fruit of humility; it’s inherently unselfish. We don’t feel true gratitude toward ourselves, but only towards someone else who treats us better than we deserve.    Do you know what’s stronger than... Continue Reading

5 Things You Can’t Rush in Church

We cannot rush His purposes, but here are five parts of church life we are frequently tempted to speed up.

When we see new people come to Christ, grow in their faith, form committed relationships with others, and develop into new leaders for the church, change and institutional growth will happen. In the meantime, however, progress and change can seem to be moving so slow. But it’s worth the wait.   What do you want... Continue Reading

Are Love and Authority Mutually Exclusive?

In the Bible, love and authority actually work together. They’re not necessarily at odds with one another.

In creation and redemption, there’s got to be a right way to do it, a right way to exercise authority. Right authority authors—gives life, gives growth like the mother mothering, the coach coaching, or the piano teacher teaching. Good authority authors; it gives life.   Can Love Make Commands? When I was in high school in... Continue Reading

Approaching the Throne of Grace

We can approach the throne of grace with boldness because we have the righteousness of Christ imputed to us.

If Christ’s intercession is not sufficient for us, what can be added to it? If Christ has not granted to us access to the throne of grace, who can? Without Christ’s righteousness and merit, we dare not approach Him, but thanks be to God that Christ, our High Priest, continually makes intercession for us in... Continue Reading

Elisabeth of Brandenburg – Staunch Reformer, Heartbroken Mother

Elisabeth, aided by Philipp von Hessen (one of the main leaders of the Schmalkaldic League), introduced the Reformation in her lands.

A prolific writer, she also wrote several hymns for the church and a long letter to the nobility, explaining that their rank matters little if not accompanied by piety. She then proceeded to give an example of piety by emphasizing pure worship and the preaching of the Word, by ministering to the needy, and by... Continue Reading

Why You Should Remember You Preach to The Burdened

Pastor, as you prepare and as you preach, remember the people who are hurting. They’re there and are listening to you.

Don’t waste your preaching time trying to impress your old college and seminary professors who aren’t even there. Don’t use your sermon as a vehicle for picking fights with those who oppose you. Preach it to sinners who need salvation. And preach it to the saints who need reminding of who they are in Christ.  ... Continue Reading

Apostasy and How It Happens

Perhaps a personal health check is in order. And today would be the wisest time to do it.

The solemn fact is that none of us can tell the difference between the beginning of backsliding and the beginning of apostasy. Both look the same. So what are the tell-tale signs of this sickness unto death? Are there early symptoms that might alert us to our spiritual danger?   I can still recall the conversation... Continue Reading

What Is Hypostatic Union?

It means that Jesus is both fully God and fully man.

If we don’t understand this doctrine or how we got it, we’re left with flimsy answers to important questions–questions which become barriers to faith for some people. We may find ourselves having to shrug at crucial Christian beliefs, or worse, provide answers that drive people further away from Christ.   Hypostatic union is how Christians... Continue Reading

Is This Life All There Is?

That eternity is in our hearts is one reason why people who are devoted to pursuing temporal pleasure ordinarily find life so empty.

This awareness of eternity belongs to what John Calvin calls the sensus divinitatis, and it inescapably orients even the unregenerate to our unending future. This is evident in humanity’s fascination with the afterlife and the way we speak of the “departed.” It is also apparent in how religious humans have been in all ages, including our own.... Continue Reading

Lectio Continua for the Pulpit and Pew

The long cherished lectio continua approach to preaching has been a healthy method for many years throughout church history.

Preaching has fallen on hard times—even among those who claim to be Reformed expositors. There seems to be a wide and shallow definition of exposition within even the most healthy pockets of evangelicalism. The typical pulpit method today is fad-driven and man-centered. This pragmatic approach to the pulpit ministry results in informal and often immature talks that are shallow,... Continue Reading

C.S. Lewis and Aristotle on Civic Friendship

Aristotle described three types of friendship. In a season of increased polarization and even calls for incivility from national political leaders, perhaps we need a fourth.

One of the most painful realities of this seemingly interminable political season has been witnessing, and feeling, the rise of rancor and frustration toward our family, friends, and neighbors who think so differently than we do about this or that political issue, or this or that political candidate. This is not unique, nor is it... Continue Reading

Is Porn Addiction Just a Medical Problem?

the church needs to be aware that the fundamental anthropology of a disease model for a porn addiction falls far short of the way God describes humanity’s experience as his fallen image bearers.

The Bible always locates sin in one place: the human heart. This doesn’t mean that environmental and physiological factors don’t play a role in addictions, but the Bible sees every external factor as the context for the desires, responses, and engagements of the heart. In other words, Scripture says the entire person—the body, mind, and... Continue Reading

The Blessedness Of The Margins

The visible church used to be among the institutions that helped to form culture but that day has been past for some time.

The mainline churches gave up their adherence to the Scriptures as God’s infallible Word. They gave up the historic creeds and confessions as part of their “broadening” (L. Loescher). They gave up everything and anything that they thought might prevent them from remaining “relevant” or culturally significant or influential. It did not work. Today, the... Continue Reading

The Statement on SJ&G Explained: Article 11, Complementarianism

Some have claimed the SJ&G statement was fundamentally about race. However, nothing could be further from the truth.

The statement was written to address a variety of issues (e.g. race, homosexuality, complementarianism) that are being defined and discussed not solely by the clear and simple teaching of Scripture, but by the inclusion of worldly concepts of social justice. The same social justice language and concepts are driving the conversation about the role of... Continue Reading

If you Accept Transgender, then why not Trans-Aged?

Emile Ratelband, a 69-year-old who feels like he’s in his 40s… is asking a court in his hometown of Arnhem, the Netherlands, to change his birth certificate.

Folks are already dismissing Ratebland’s request as different from and offensive to transgender people. But the obvious question is why? In what way is this different from transgenderism? A closer look reveals that there isn’t very much of a difference at all.   The Washington Post reports that a man wishes to self-identify as twenty years... Continue Reading

How Do You Know if a Sermon is Expository?

Much preaching gets crammed under the heading “expository preaching,” though it bears little resemblance to classical exposition.

The question is a bit more angular than one might initially perceive. It is a question that has struck me in recent months, as I have heard multiple preachers describe their preaching style as expository. Never mind that they give little attention to interpreting the text, applying the text, or actually preaching the text.  ... Continue Reading

Turning the CRC Into an LGBTQ+ Ally

‘All One Body’ is an organization of CRC members and pastors with the goal to transform the CRC into a denomination that fully accepts and celebrates the values of the LGBTQ+ movement.

To this end, one of the board members of A1B gave the audience a piece of advice: Do not use Scripture to convince your fellow CRC members of the beauty of full inclusion. Instead, rely on personal stories. “Everyone has a story,” she said. “We can argue back and forth all day about Scripture, but... Continue Reading

The Danger of Thinking You’re Morally Good

“Although evangelicals believe that Jesus died on the cross for their salvation…many do not fully understand the gravity of sin.”

While much of modern secular sensibility seems attracted to the idea that human beings, at their core, are basically good, this belief isn’t peculiar to non-Christians. It has found its way into the Church, as well. But this confidence in the inherent moral goodness of humankind has its root in original sin.   Perhaps second... Continue Reading

Berkeley Student Senator Disavowed over Christian Beliefs Responds to Calls to RESIGN

After choosing to abstain from voting on a resolution to oppose the recent Title IX changes proposed by President Donald Trump, Chow's own party disavowed her.

Chow, who says she “campaigned very clearly as the candidate who would represent the Christian community” chose not to vote for the bill, stating that she could not do so “without compromising [her] values and [her] responsibility to the community that elected [her] to represent them.” During an interview with Campus Reform, Chow said that she... Continue Reading

Three Old Testament Pictures of Baptism You Should Know

Here are three Old Testament pictures that help us understand, according to the Bible,what baptism is a sign of.

The beauty of baptism is that it actually points us away from ourselves, what we do, and onto the Creator-Judge who delivers us out of the sea of death and iniquity. How does he do this? Well, Jesus Christ went down into the sea of our sins and conquered them when he rose from the dead. When... Continue Reading

Bruised Reeds and Smoldering Wicks are Not Useless to Jesus

Since when did God love us based on what we can offer him?

Jesus never turned away a person who came to him broken, hurting, and deemed “useless” by society and religious people. In fact, it seems that he often gathered these people around him. Think about how staggering this is. Lepers. Prostitutes. The blind. The physically disabled. The demon possessed. Jesus did not crush them, but rather... Continue Reading

The Christian’s Call to Purity

“For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin.”

In 1 Cor. 12:27, Paul declares to the faithful in Corinth, “Now you are Christ’s body, and individuallymembers of it.” Paul’s words are just as applicable to every believer today as they were when they were initially uttered more than 2,000 years ago. I say that in the context that the church, to which Paul refers metaphorically... Continue Reading

“Give Us This Day”: Exalting God by Humbling Ourselves

God is our starting point in every theological and spiritual endeavor.

Up to this point, the Lord’s Prayer has revealed a great deal about the character of God. We have seen that for those who are in Christ, God is a caring Father. Jesus emphasized God’s transcendence and omnipotence by observing that he is “in heaven.” He established the worth of God and the value of... Continue Reading

Why It’s OK that God Loves Himself Most

Where God’s love is fundamentally different than a fallen human being’s love is that it is holy.

The Father beholds the Son and he loves the Son because he wants the Son’s glory in all things. His love for the Son is premised on the Son’s perfection, beauty, and righteousness. He says, “This is my beloved Son.”   God’s Love Is Different As fallen human beings, we tend to think that God’s... Continue Reading

Overcoming Pride in Ministry

Some of the most difficult issues many churches encounter revolve around men who feel entitled to the office of deacon, elder, or pastor.

Yes, we are weak; and yes, we are unworthy. Titles mean nothing; faithfulness means everything. By God’s grace, let us cease seeking after our own glory, and let us rather seek to display Jesus, the Lord of the church who is the perfect deacon, elder, and pastor.   Few things are more dangerous in the... Continue Reading

To Prefer Disputing Rather Than Living? (Van Mastricht)

In his major work on systematic theology, Van Mastricht was very clear that theology and practice go hand in hand.

In the first volume of this work, Van Mastricht discussed whether theology was theoretical or practical.  He said it is not just theoretical, a matter of the intellect, but also practical, a matter of living.   A Christian theologian should not just be noted for his learning and academic skills, but also for his piety... Continue Reading

Prayer and Comfort in Sachsenhausen

This is the story of my paternal grandfather’s last year on earth. He was a man of unwavering faith despite suffering arrest, incarceration, indignity, illness, and death.

You ask why there were so many Reformed people active in the resistance movement? This came about because of the outstanding education they had received in catechism classes and youth societies. Church, also as a body working in society, ranked first. The school was an extension of the family. You could rely on that community.... Continue Reading

I Want To Be Famous

I have a firm theological conviction that our mission is to make Jesus famous, not ourselves.

Would it not be wonderful if we all could fill little spaces and be satisfied, if we were being faithful to Jesus in that place?  It will take much spiritual work in our hearts before that restlessness is settled, so may the Lord convince you that he loves you, and may he convince you that in... Continue Reading

The Self-Forgetfulness of Real Love

God’s love produces not a black hole but a universe exploding outward, growing ever larger and larger.

Truly loving another person means forgetting yourself long enough to pay attention to his or her section of the universe. Look at that planet! Look at that solar system! There’s always self-sacrifice at the beginning of love: you have to stop thinking about your own planetary system long enough to take notice of the other... Continue Reading

When Marriage Looks Different Than You Imagined

Wives, we make a grave mistake if we think, ‘If only my husband had different employment then I could be more cheerful and thankful’.

My greatest comfort must be found in Christ. Christ, who came to earth, away from the Father, to do the work set before Him. Christ, who reigns in heaven now, while His Bride, the Church, is here on earth. Christ is acutely familiar with the loneliness of separation. And He is greater than my loneliness and sufficient... Continue Reading