How Not to Help a Sufferer

Think of these as four ways we, like Job’s friends, can pour burning coals on the heads of those already sitting in ashes.

Minimize the wrongdoing that caused the suffering. I’m not sure why we tend to do this, but we do. It’s that karma instinct. We say things like “I’m sure they meant well,” or “It can’t be that bad,” or “Well, in every conflict the blame is on both sides.” But the truth is we don’t know that someone meant well. Maybe they didn’t. We don’t know that it wasn’t that bad. Maybe it was. And blame is not always 50/50. Sometimes it’s 80/20. Sometimes it’s even 100/0. That seems to be God’s verdict on Job and his friends (Job 42:7). When you’re sitting with a sufferer, don’t minimize the sin that has contributed to their suffering.

3 Things We Must Believe about God’s Word

In Psalm 119 we see at least three essential, irreducible characteristics we should believe about God’s word.

And yet, we should go one step further and learn to see the goodness and rightness in all that God commands. We should love what God loves and delight in whatever he says. God does not lay down arbitrary rules. He does not give orders so that we might be restricted and miserable. He never... Continue Reading

Reading the Bible as a Coherent Story, but Not Too Much

Most heresies arise from someone “reading the Bible alone in his closet.”

It is important to read the Bible as a coherent story–but not too much. We must allow its continuities and its discontinuities to press themselves into those parts of our understanding where we are immature, where we are easily deceived, and where we have cultural and sinful blind spots.   Growing up as a new... Continue Reading

Seven Costs of Disciple-Making

We could list dozens of costs, no doubt, but here let’s limit it to seven

“Perhaps what might help us over our hurdles is not to hide how costly disciple-making is, but to be utterly honest and explicit about the costs, and hold them out in the light for us to see, and then find whether something in us might just rise to the peculiar glory of it all.”  ... Continue Reading

Is Christ Enough?

By daily communion with Christ through the means of grace, we find full satisfaction for all our needs

The central argument of Paul in the letter is that in Jesus Christ, Christians already have everything that the sect falsely offered: wholeness, fullness, perfection, and satisfaction in God. In other words, Paul responds to false teachers by presenting the sufficiency of Christ.   In the letter he wrote to the Colossians, Paul had to deal... Continue Reading

Like Scales and Jazz: How to Preach Christ from Psalms

How should contemporary Christ followers and Christian pastors continue walking the Emmaus Road, seeing and preaching Christ throughout the Psalms?

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Jesus came as heir not only of David’s throne but also of David’s prayers—from his distress to his deliverance, from his laments to his praises. Since God’s people in every generation will walk the same path—cross before crown—Christian pastors are wise to preach the Psalms in all... Continue Reading

A Modest Proposal: Don’t Dump Religion

Why not rail against man made religion instead of all religion? Why not find another word besides religion to be our anti-gospel boogeyman?

You know what I mean. Maybe you’ve spoken this way before. Maybe I have too. Religion is bad. Religion is about rules. Religion is about earning God’s favor. Religion is about trying; Christianity is about trusting. Religion is about reaching up to God; the gospel is about God reaching down to us. I understand the contrast. I agree with all that we want to affirm with such statements. But is throwing “religion” under the bus the best way to make the point?

Martin Luther on Prayer

Every day we have praise to offer, sins to confess, thanksgivings to bring and supplications to ask.

Luther calls prayer ‘A labour above all labours, since he who prays must wage a mighty warfare against the doubt and murmuring excited by the faintheartedness and unworthiness we feel within us.’ Haven’t you found that to be true? Yet isn’t it puzzling on one level that prayer should be so challenging. After all, it doesn’t require any special equipment; you don’t have to go to a special place at a certain time of the day to do it; you don’t need another person to do it; you don’t need special training; you don’t need to speak out loud or get into a particular position to do it. You can pray sitting in an armchair in your living room or even lying in your bed (though I’m not suggesting that’s the best position in which to pray!). So why should it be so difficult? It can only be because of the spiritual battle going on behind the physical scenes.

WCF 20: Christian Liberty and Liberty of Conscience

At the core of many of our moral questions concerning authority are two interrelated subjects: liberty and conscience.

As those united to Christ by faith, it is right and proper for us to rejoice and bask in those liberties and freedoms which Christ has purchased for us. We have been freed from the curse of the Law and have received eternal life in Him. Yet, at the same time, we must remember not to turn our liberties into license to sin. God alone is Lord of the conscience. And, He has provided the gifts of earthly civil and church authorities for our good; therefore, we must seek to submit and obey them.

Rules Without Reasons

Has God given us enough in Scripture to hold a position—even if uncomfortably—but not enough for us to really know exactly why he set it up that way?

Perhaps He is still asking His children to trust that He knows best. I’m convinced we are called to take God’s Word as it is. We aren’t called to decide whether or not we like this particular rule or that particular path of obedience. We are called to just obey. Some day it’ll make sense—but that isn’t for now. Now is time for trusting our Father and walking in obedience.

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