Confronting Entitlement as a Young Minister

Deny the impulse to seek recognition. Refuse to pander to your own selfish ambition.

When we live with an entitlement for recognition, we give our effort exalting ourselves over others so we will appear great. Jesus’ medicine for this tendency is brotherhood. He told his disciples, “You all are brothers,” undercutting their hierarchy, games and socio-political competitions. If we are all brothers and sisters, I don’t need to focus my... Continue Reading

Is Reformed Worship Eurocentric?

To be Reformed is to be profoundly catholic.

Americans at this particular point in our history are obsessed with ethnicity and race. Nearly everything—religion, employment, politics, music, language—is reduced to race. Yet as Christians, our concern ultimately is not with race, but with truth. Although its immediate roots are in Europe, what are the distant roots of Reformed worship? Does it have foundational roots... Continue Reading

Crossing the River

The contrast between Bunyan’s mastery of devotional English writing and his earlier unregenerate use of the language is truly staggering.

The Bible was the antidote for Bunyan’s early, unpromising years, which held out little hope for his writing the most popular Protestant devotional work of the ages. This is not, to say the least, the usual expectation for a tinker (his father’s trade as well) with very little formal education. John Owen, Oxford’s Puritan theologian... Continue Reading

The Word Became Fresh: How to Preach From Old Testament Narrative Texts

We need not be surprised at our sterility and poverty if we refuse to be beggars for the Spirit’s help.

All biblical texts are fair game for preaching. But you’d never know it. It almost seems like some ogre once promulgated an unwritten decree that certain texts are off limits for preaching. Naturally, most of them are Old Testament texts. Some apparently think that although God allowed these accounts in his written word, he must... Continue Reading

Begging: The Place to Start

We are guilty of arrogance, not merely neglect, when we fail to beg for the Spirit’s help in the study of Scripture.

Deep into our study time, the thought occurs to us that we have not looked – nor did we think of looking – to the God who breathed out this Scripture to give us an understanding of the Scripture. He will likely give that understanding through the tools we use, but when we use tools... Continue Reading

He Stayed at Home to Save the World

Andrew Fuller (1754–1815)

It is often this way in the ministry: the greatest gain and the greatest loss within two months. “Whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). He... Continue Reading

The Ichabod Church and Basil

By all accounts it was the delicate, retiring, and sensitive Basil of Caesarea (329-379) who ultimately stood foursquare against the surging sea of heresy and prevailed.

The age was not without men of merit.  John Chrysostom (345-407) was a golden-tongued preacher of extraordinary courage and tenacity.  Gregory of Nazianzus (329-390) was a brilliant theologian, a gifted poet and hymn writer, and a careful expositor.  But as dynamic as both of these men were, they were unable to turn the tide.  In the end they were... Continue Reading

Every Pastor’s Greatest Desire

He does not serve for a salary but “eagerly” for an eternal reward (1 Pet 5:2, 4).

The verb “aspires” (oregō) is used elsewhere to speak negatively of a false teacher’s “craving” for money (1 Tim 6:10) and positively of the faithful’s “desire” for a heavenly city (Heb 11:16). In both instances, there is an aspiration for something that drives the whole of one’s life, for better or worse. To aspire to... Continue Reading

Worth a Thousand Years of Waiting

The Staggering Rise of the Church in Iran.

The rise of persecution against Christians in Iran has served both as a sign of the rapid growth of Christianity within the country and as fuel for further growth. In the 1990s, several key leaders of the church in Iran were killed. One of the most famous martyrs, Mehdi Dibaj, gave a defense before the... Continue Reading

“All Used Up”

When you are emptied of everything, nothing matters.

Sometimes what is obvious in a person’s life is sin, but the real problem is suffering, and sometimes what is obvious is suffering but the real problem is sin. This requires you to proceed carefully, with humility and patience, as you come to know people. When in any doubt, lead with God’s compassion for those... Continue Reading