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October 24, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include a selection from Crossway related to the Reformation: ​The Reformation by Stephen Nichols; Experiencing the Truth by Anthony Carter; Luther on the Christian Life by Carl Trueman; Calvin on the Christian Life by Michael Horton. Then you’ll also find several from Matthias Media and a bunch of others (True Sexual Morality by Daniel Heimbach, and They Say We Are Infidels by Mindy Belz, etc). Check them out here.

Also, Ligonier Ministries has daily Reformation Week offers this week that will get you some pretty good deals.

10 Resolutions for Mental Health

John Piper offers ten resolutions for mental health.

6 Factors in Overcoming Roe v. Wade

WORLD: “The U.S. Constitution establishes that the Supreme Court is made up of justices who are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate, who are elected. Changing Roe v. Wade or other destructive Supreme Court decisions, therefore, rests unavoidably on political victories that can change the justices.”

The Masculine Case

Barton Swaim says, “A writer’s choice of pronouns tells us a lot about him.” Or about her. Or about them. And so on. This is an article about writing with clarity.

The Weird Economics Of Ikea

Ikea fascinates me. This article tells about some of its weird economics, like prices that go up then down. Mostly down. “Ikea is a behemoth. The home furnishing company uses 1 percent of the planet’s lumber, it says, and the 530 million cubic feet of wood used to make Ikea furniture each year pulls with its own kind of twisted gravity.”

This Day in 1648. 368 years ago today the Peace of Westphalia ended central Europe’s Thirty Year’s War providing equal political rights to Catholics and Protestants. *

20 Years With Jesus

Erik Raymond reflects on 20 years with Jesus.

Is Your Gospel an Urban Legend?

Jared Wilson wants you to consider the possibility. “If you talk a big game about ‘the gospel,’ but don’t live like it’s true, the people you do life with will begin to suspect you don’t actually believe it. Worse yet, they may begin to disbelieve it themselves.”

Valley of the Last Dinosaurs

Tyler Lyson has been hunting dinosaurs in the Badlands of North Dakota his whole life. This video displays some of his passion.

Three Things You Will Learn from Our New Book about Marijuana

The latest book from Cruciform Press, Can I Smoke Pot?, demonstrates how we can draw clear answers from Scripture about an important moral question, even where the Bible seems to be silent.

Flashback: 18 Things I Will Not Regret Doing With My Kids

When that wave rises up, when I feel like I could drown beneath all that regret, I sometimes consider those things I will never regret.

Your money flows most effortlessly toward your heart’s greatest love. —Tim Keller

October 23, 2016

This was a banner week for letters to the editor and I had a lot of them to read through and select from. In the end, I’ve chosen ones that speak about sleepovers, the ESV, problems with modern worship, and Roman sexual morality. I hope you find them helpful!

Letters on Why My Family Doesn’t Do Sleepovers

Tim: Far more people have read my article on sleepovers than any other article I’ve written. Not surprisingly, then, I receive far more letters to the editor for this one than any other. I’d estimate that about half of those who write agree with the article and the other half do not. Many of the ones who do agree with me explain in the most painful terms why they have made that decision.

I raised my children in the early/mid 90’s. It was the decade of the sleepover. Against my better judgement I let them have sleep over at their friends homes. I wish I hadn’t. My son was exposed to pornography and molested by the other boys. My daughter was exposed to horror films and other things and began cutting herself.
—Tomi B, Missouri City, TX


I know the world is bad and scary too. But, as parents we need to teach our children to trust people, trust humanity. It is not right to teach the kids to always look at everybody with a suspicious eye. Having said that, we also have to teach our kids to be safe, and if they feel unsafe, what is the appropriate thing to do. I beg to disagree that sleepovers are bad. No. It actually is a way of saying to our kids that, “We trust you will take care of ourselves in all situations possible.” Sleepovers are fun for the kids and it is not right to take away that happiness from a kid.
—Anita A, Issaquah,WA


Although I agree with your article, being a mom now myself I know I can’t protect my son if I’m not there. However, I’m a victim of pedophilia. I appreciated so much to get away from my home to sleep without worry of my mom’s boyfriend coming into my room at night. I would spend entire summers away at my friends’ houses. I never had to worry, I didn’t have to sleep with a knife under my bed. I’m forever thankful that my friends parents allowed me to basically live with them through elementary school. Nobody knew. I couldn’t tell anyone, but when I was away, I was free.
—Amber G, Vancouver, BC


Thank you for your insight on ‘sleepovers.’ After a recent discussion with a fellow mom/friend, I too have decided to not allow sleepovers, nor play dates at homes of parents I do not personally know. All children are welcome at our house instead. My friend’s son was invited to a birthday sleepover. It was presumed they were all boys but she later found out that a girl was there because she identified as a boy. These kids are 11 years old. Some parents think that is harmless but I do not. Kids are curious and a lot could happen that ones family does not agree with. In today’s genderless society, sleepovers are a whole new game, one in which I am not willing to participate in.
—Jocelyn L, Bellingham, MA


I agree with the article and have the same rules in my home. My children are allowed to attend the party until it is bed time and then I will come get them. I had a cousin who was molested the whole time she was growing up at her best friend’s house and didn’t say anything about it until she was 18 and had a breakdown. I vowed at that point that my children would never be put in that situation. I allow sleepovers at my home if their friends parents allow, I know myself and wouldn’t allow anything to happen to their children. In fact, boys downstairs girls upstairs if there are other children in my home. I just don’t trust other people with my children enough to take that risk.
—Tanya L, Montpelier, ID


I’m a mother of two now fully grown men. When they were children I too was faced with the question of sleeping over at friends or even relatives. My response was no because like you, even back then, 26 years ago, the reality of the “bad things” that could happen to your child, especially boys, was a frightening thought. The horror stories I were privy to as a teacher made my desire to protect my sons even more fiercely. I therefore never succumbed to the peer pressure and thankfully they’re grown and free. Truthfully, if I had to do it all over again, I would make the same choice.
—Gina, Trinidad

Letters on You, Me, and the ESV

Like you, I appreciate the ESV and I would also agree that Crossway made the right decision to reverse their decision about a permanent text. My concern is with the level of ‘elitism’ that is common among its proponents…exactly like how you described it in the last section of your article.

One cannot argue that a certain level of elitism have popped up among ESV proponents. Just think of the ‘Why we use the ESV’ articles from celebrity reformed pastors. It’s a bit odd and seems unique to the ESV phenomenon. I think it’s unfortunate. Good thing we have guys like D.A. Carson and Douglas Moo to keep things from moving to another KJV-only movement. My hope is built on nothing less than the ESV and Crossway Press!
—Alan D, Halifax, NS

Letters on 3 Awful Features of Roman Sexual Morality

Reading this article, I found myself reflecting on a key difference between the lives of early Christians within a pagan Roman culture and ours within a pagan “post Christian” culture. Our spiritual forebears weren’t trying to change the tide of the culture, rather they were choosing to allow their own lives to be transformed by the Spirit and vigorously inviting others to join in this experience. The culture of their day was dramatically altered as a result.

We today are often more about seeking enforcement of our Christian cultural heritage, hoping to retrench the tectonic changes which have already occurred, than in living out that rich heritage. In fact, statistics tell us that our own behavior (that of American Christians) is more aligned with the current culture than with Christ. Are we unconsciously trying to help ourselves by means of the law? That didn’t work so well for the Israelites; why would we expect different results ourselves?

Instead, we (that is, I) should be loving Jesus and allowing Him to love others through me, following His heart and commands with grateful delight, remaining so excited about what He’s done for me that I just can’t help telling everyone else. Does that mean Christians should withdraw from the political realm as many pagans fervently wish? I don’t think so, but that should neither be our primary focus nor our hope for the future. Trusting in any man who is not The Man, or in mankind, or any political/legal solution to our problems is essentially a form of idolatry.
—John K, Hoschton, GA

Letters on Missing Elements of Modern Worship

Thanks for your article. We follow the regulative principle of worship at our church. Many of our new members joined us simply because they “wanted to feel that they had truly worshiped God.” They left their old churches because they were tired of being entertained. If you readers are interested, there is a great article by Derek Thomas on Ligonier’s site with the Scriptural proof text for how God has laid out how He is to be worshiped.

More to your point; it grieves my heart over how it appears we have replaced what God requires of us in worship, with what man thinks will bring in and help keep those within the church. You made the point of how you walked away from the churches you visited with a sense of what was missing in their worship and like you, I don’t think we can any longer call those gatherings churches under the care of our Lord Jesus Christ. Too much has been replace by a man-centered focus.

Thanks for the article and we’ll continue to pray and ask God to restore to His people what is the height, depth, length, breath of His greatness and glory, so that we once again will have eyes to see anew and follow what God Himself has called us to. I think then our culture will change as common and saving grace covers the land once again.
—Daryl B, Katy, TX


I wanted to weep when I read this piece because it captured all the losses I have observed in he last 20 years as Christian when my pastors gradually prioritized that the Sunday service be seeker-friendly. I struggle with resentment when the mandate to fulfill the Great Commandment and the Great Commission is put forth as the justification for these changes. I am viewed by elders as raising impediments to building the Kingdom of God by asking for corporate prayer, doctrinally rich music and true expositional preaching. God has helped me accept the things I cannot control, but I grieve what we have lost and the fact that newcomers will probably never know what they are missing.
—Louise P, New York, NY


Thanks for that helpful article. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer helps to address most of those issues. There is always a confession, numerous well-thought prayers, normally three Bible readings, and an expositional sermon based on one of the readings. The lectionary needs to be adapted if you want to preach through books of the Bible consecutively, but otherwise the BCP will help address many of these issues.
—Nick J, Drung, Ireland


I have often appreciated your writing, but I took issue with this post.

First, what is the modern mega church service on a Sunday morning? Truthfully, one church looks very different from another, so we’ll have to speak in generalities but there is a valid point of view that says that the mega-church is the true successor to Billy Graham and the Crusade/Revivals of the past. If that is the point of the Sunday service at those churches is a.) gospel preaching b.) vision casting and Bible teaching/discipleship, prayer, etc happens at other points in the week then its no wonder that it’s missing elements that TC thinks they should have.

Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for example, which has arguably been an epicenter for verse by verse biblical exposition for the past 40 years didn’t teach expositionally on Sunday mornings, rather verse by verse Bible Studies happened on Sunday evenings and at other points of the week. Could the same thing be happening at other mega-churches or perhaps in classes during the service so you attend one service and then go to a class in a way reminiscent of the old Baptist Sunday Schools?

Second, most of what you argue for seems to be a return to the traditions of the past. While not right or wrong, traditions of previous generations aren’t what we should base our liturgy on. Even where I agree with you, for example, wanting to see more prayer in service (my church has active prayer happening during song worship on Sunday mornings), you seem to lament that there isn’t a sort of prayer list: “please be with Mrs. Baker’s hip” etc, which would have all kind of issues in a mega-church setting. What a smaller church looked like in days gone by shouldn’t determine what a church (large or small) looks like today should it?

Third, congregational singing struck me as personal preference. As someone who leads song worship and spends a good deal of time thinking, writing and even speaking about worship leading, the problem of congregational engagement is a problem in churches both small and large, and more often I’ve heard concerns on this subject coming from smaller churches rather than larger ones.

This is a title that will Google search well and it will be well received by people who have a problem with this or that in the mega-church world. But is it really true? and if so, how is this helpful to the conversation? You are a pretty well known guy; and I’m sure that you could have gotten someone who was widely respected from the mega-church world and asked questions. it seems to me that two-way conversations are better.
—Adam D, Napa, CA


I would agree whole-heartedly with the article about what is missing in modern worship. Fortunately, I do not attend such a church—ours is quite traditional, really, centred on bible readings, prayer and a good range of hymns. Sadly the scenario you painted is more likely what you’ll meet in many churches here, too. As to why this is the case, a trend away from the lectionaries and liturgies of the church and a completely misguided attempt to make the church more attractive and acceptable to the youth has only served to dilute modern worship to a formula which provides little or no spiritual sustenance or fulfillment. In my view the church needs rebuilding and restoring to its former glory. I think it needs to take the lectionary seriously again and emphasize Eucharistic liturgies fully. Better to challenge the new Christian with a depth of worship which will sustain him or her for life, maybe even involvement in something extra like altar service, choral singing, campanology or lay-reading. This might stand a chance of attracting people in, but more seriously, prevent the exodus of faithful worshippers to whom the church is no longer the kind of Christian community they joined in the first place.
—Douglas J, Sheffield, UK

3 Kinds of Churches
October 22, 2016

As we prepare to worship God tomorrow, it may do us good to pause for just a few moments to consider the local church. What is the church? Why has God called us into these little communities? Does the local church really matter? It does! The local church is foundational to God’s plan for his people. In their book Church in Hard Places, Mez McConnell and Mike McKinley offer 6 reasons that the local church matters.

The local church is the way God intends to accomplish his mission in the world. “It is primarily though the local church that God wants to make himself known.” Of all the evangelism strategies in the world, of all the ministries in the world, none is more central than the local church. It’s interesting to note that Paul considered his ministry in an area fulfilled not when every person was reached, but when churches had been planted (see Romans 15:19-20). “Paul knew that the churches there were how the gospel would spread into all of the individual neighborhoods. Local churches do local evangelism.” The church is God’s plan, it is God’s mission.

The local church should matter to us because it matters to God. The church is Jesus’ body on earth (see Ephesians 1:22-23) and it is made up of all kinds of people from all walks of life. “Together we represent Christ here on earth through our local body of believers. Therefore, the church is central to the purposes of God and is of benefit to the world around us—even today in our increasingly hostile culture.” The church exists for God’s glory and showcases it in a unique way. “The church is built for Jesus, by Jesus, and on Jesus. It is simply unthinkable then to separate Jesus from the local church. If the gospel is the diamond in the great salvific plan of God, then the church is the clasp that supports it, holds it up, and shows it in its greatest light for the world to see.” If it matters so much to God, it needs to matter to us just as much.

The local church is where the believer grows. It is primarily in the local church that Christians learn doctrine, receive reproof, and train in righteousness (see Ephesians 4:11-13). The local church provides opportunities for growth that are available nowhere else. McConnell says, “In a scheme [a neighborhood] like Niddrie, people need the concerted time and effort that only a local church can provide. Very often people will turn up on our doorstep having heard the gospel through some parachurch ministry. Yet they almost always have large gaps in their biblical knowledge and Christian behavior. Without a local church committed to patiently teaching and training them, these people will flounder indefinitely.” We all need a local church if we are to become like Christ.

The local church is the place where believers must submit themselves to spiritual authority. Many people from many walks of life struggle with issues of authority, though this problem is especially prevalent in the schemes of Scotland. Mez says, “they will not accept criticism or input from anybody they regard as an authority figure.” This attitude needs to be dealt with immediately. God calls Christians to submit to spiritual authority within the local church (see Hebrews 13:17). All believers are called by God to put themselves under the care and oversight of elders. “A culture that despises any kind of authority needs to see healthy models of leadership and submission. And the place for people to see this modeled is in the local church.”

The local church is the best place for spiritual accountability. We have probably all encountered people who believed they were called to ministry or who even carried out some kind of ministry even though their lives were a mess. This happens where people do not have proper spiritual accountability. “All Christians need the spiritual accountability and discipline that being a member of the local church brings. It stops us from drifting. It offers a context for encouragement and rebuke. It provides a community to stir one another on to love and good deeds.”

The local church is the place from which discipline is biblically administered. The task of disciplining disobedient or unruly Christians belongs to the local church. This is a difficult task but one given specifically to the church as a means to show the deepest love and concern for the spiritual care of believers (Matthew 18:15-17). Discipline belongs to the church as one of its important functions.

As you prepare to worship God tomorrow, consider his mercy and his grace in giving us the local church.

October 22, 2016

It’s the weekend! This one kind of snuck up on me and yet somehow it’s one of those ridiculously packed-full ones. Mostly I’m looking forward to being at New City Baptist Church tomorrow to lead Sunday school and preach there. Other than that, it’s a weekend for family and friends. But before I get to it, here is some recommended reading:

Why Christians Love Books

Looking first at the incredible output of John Piper’s pen, Tony Reinke says, “Piper’s output may be abnormal, but the bookish nature of Christianity is not. We can trace our evangelical bibliophilia all the way back to the beginning of the Christian church…”


“It is exactly 50 years since tragedy swooped down on Aberfan killing 116 children and 28 adults.” BBC tells the sad story of a tragedy in Wales.

A Pastor Leaving the Ministry

Scott Hollingshead tells of a painful situation and, based on it, offers 3 warnings from a pastor who is leaving the ministry.

Raising Teens in a Hyper-Sexualized World

This little booklet from Eliza Huie may interest you. It’s a free download at Amazon..

Deathstyle: The New Lifestyle

Stephen laments society’s new deathstyle which has taken the place of a lifestyle.

This Day in 1922. 94 years ago today James William Charles Pennington, an escaped slave turned Presbyterian pastor and abolitionist, died. He was the first black man to attend Yale. *

Oscar Wilde’s Half Sisters

Here’s the unusual story of the deaths of Oscar Wilde’s half sisters. “We may never have the small details right, but by bringing the story to light, people seem to think, we honor the sisters in their death. Perhaps this is why years later an epitaph was erected at the graveyard of St. Molua’s church in Drumsnat in their honor.”

The Pains Of Humanity Have Been Draining Me

Lecrae explains why he and other African Americans are not “simply whining about the past.” “We are trying to expose how the past has affected the present and threatens the future.”

How My Parents Taught Me to Love the Church

Ricky Alcantar says, “Whether you realize it or not, you’re teaching your kids a theology of the church with your time.” 

Flashback: The Art and Science of the Humblebrag

Have you managed to get thousands of people to follow you on Twitter or friend you on Facebook? Do you need to keep reminding them why you are worthy of their attention? Let me offer you some ways you can grow in the art and science of the humblebrag.

Here’s How Christian Book Summaries Help You Learn More…In Less Time

Thanks to this week’s sponsor, Books at a Glance, for sponsoring the blog this week.

That demon of pride was born with us, and it will not die one hour before us.C.H. Spurgeon

Set An Example
October 21, 2016

Today I want to scare you a little. At the very least I want to intimidate you. Actually, I want the Bible to scare and intimidate you, to set a challenge so difficult that you’ll know you can’t possibly meet it on your own. This is a challenge for any Christian, but I’m directing it particularly at younger Christians, at people in their teens or twenties.

I’ve been working on a series of articles that takes a look at some words Paul wrote to Timothy—the older mentor writing a letter to his younger protégé: “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). We’ve already seen that Paul wants Timothy to make his life a work of art that other people will be able to see and imitate. Even as a young man, Timothy is to be exemplary, to be worthy of imitation. Last week we saw what it means for Timothy to set an example in his speech and today we want to see what it means for him to set an example in his conduct.

Set An Example In Your Conduct

I’m sure you know that as a Christian you are meant to live as an example in the way you behave. Older siblings are warned to be a good example to their younger brothers and sisters. Christian young people are told of the importance of living as Christians before a watching world of unbelievers. When you’re at school and work, when you’re interacting with neighbors and customers, even when you’re at a family reunion, you are to behave in distinctly Christian ways. You won’t do what unbelievers do, you won’t watch what unbelievers watch, you won’t laugh the things unbelievers laugh at. You are to live as salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16), standing out from the world around you. You know that. You’ve been told.

But did you know that you are also to stand as an example of Christian character and maturity before other Christians, even when those Christians are older, wiser, and godlier than you? That is a scary thought, an intimidating challenge. Yet this was exactly Paul’s challenge to Timothy. Timothy was a young man, young enough that older Christians might look down on him, convinced that they couldn’t possibly learn anything from such a young man. And still Paul told him that it was his responsibility to set them an example in his conduct.

“Conduct” is a very general word. It’s a broad word that refers to all of life. In all he does, in all his behavior, Timothy is to set an example. In every realm of life he is to be exemplary. There is no area of life that isn’t covered by “set the believers an example in conduct.” This was true for Timothy and it is true of you. You aren’t exempted from serving as an example of Christian conduct simply because you are young. You are to be an example “at home, at church, at the grocery store, on the freeway, on the playground, at the barber shop” (according to Philip Ryken). Kent Hughes says, “In the day-in, day-out humdrum of existence—at the gas station, in the grocery line, at the soccer game, washing the car—[you] must be an example to all who believe.” All the time, in every way, in all of life, God challenges you to be an example of godliness to other Christians.

Are you that example of godliness? Do other believers look to you as someone who models what it means to conduct yourself as a Christian? I will leave it to you to consider the entirety of your life because I want to focus on just one—the way you behave when you’re with your local church. When you gather with other Christians, do they see you modeling Christian conduct? Do other Christians, and even older Christians, see you as a model of godliness? This is your God-given task!

From the perspective of an older Christian, one who is just weeks away from hitting 40, I can attest that few things are more encouraging to me than being around young people who exemplify Christian character. I love to be challenged by seeing young people lead godly lives. So I want to challenge you to make a point of setting the believers an example in your conduct right there in your church family. Here are a few ways young Christians can do this:

  • Be there. Attend every service. Make church attendance a high priority that will only be interrupted in the most unusual circumstances. If a sport is going to keep you from church week after week, you need to think long and hard about whether that’s a fair trade. Don’t let every cough and sniffle keep you home on a Sunday morning. Get your homework done by Saturday so you can commit Sunday to the Lord. You can only be an example to other people if you are around other people!
  • Be all-in. Once you get to church, be all-in. One of the best ways to do this is to be friendly, to meet people and engage them in conversation. Your temptation will be to gravitate to people who are very similar to you. So challenge yourself to meet people who are different from you—much older or younger, a different ethnicity, people with disabilities. Look for people who are otherwise overlooked and get to know them.
  • Be a servant. Look for ways to serve in the church, and especially in those ministries that are low-visibility. Lots of people feel specially called and equipped to sing or play an instrument at the front of the room, but most of us are far better equipped to take out the trash or set up the chairs. Volunteer for the lowest jobs, the ones no one else wants to do. And then do those jobs with joy and without demanding gratitude.
  • Be visible. As you worship, set the believers an example in your joyful singing. As you listen to sermons, set the believers an example in your attentive listening. As you put what you’ve learned into practice, set the believers an example in your humility and diligence. As you fellowship, set the believers an example in your willingness to go outside your comfort zone.

This is only a start, just a few suggestions. In these ways and many more you can set an example to the believers in your conduct. This is God’s high and holy calling for you, the young Christian. Will you heed that call?

Questions to Consider

  1. Does it intimidate you to know that you’re called by God to serve as an example in your conduct, even (and especially!) before other Christians?
  2. In what ways do you think you are serving as a good example in your conduct. Pray and thank God for them. In what ways do you think you are setting a poor example in your conduct? Pray and ask God to forgive you and to give you the grace to change.
  3. What are some of the ways you serve in your local church? What are some of the ways you think you ought to serve in your local church?
  4. Do you find it difficult or unnatural to fellowship with people who are different from you? What will you do about it?

October 21, 2016

I’ve got just one new Kindle deal today: Jim Cromarty’s biography of Hudson Taylor, It Is Not Death to Die. You may want to run back through this week’s other deals as there were some good ones.

Scientists Admit Limit to Human Life Span

WORLD: “Scientists are just beginning to believe what the Bible tells us in Genesis 6:3. ‘Then the Lord said, ‘My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.’’ With that, God declared there would be no more Methuselahs, and new research published in the journal Nature is bearing that out.”

When There is Unexplained Distance in a Friendship

This is true: “Christians, especially in friendship, avoiding the hard conversations is far more wounding than having them!”

5 Things the Seeker Movement Got Right

Jared Wilson gives credit where it’s due. “Actually, these are more like five ‘right ideas’ or five ‘right tracks’ the ‘seeker sensitive’ church growth movement started down before it veered hard into a fuller blown consumerism and became the attractional church.” 

Millennial International

This is a pretty clever video. “Millennial International is a sponsor based program designed to help Millennials live the lives they portray on Instagram.”

A Loving God and the Existence of Hell

Randy Alcorn: “I personally have studied the doctrine of Hell in the hopes of being able to come either to a position of universalism, or at very least the doctrine of annihilation. Unfortunately, I have not been able to do so and stay true to the Scripture I see.”

Are You Listening?

Are you listening to God as he speaks through his Word? I enjoyed this reflection… 

Marks of a Healthy Church. Mark Dever and Jonathan Leeman of 9Marks have partnered with Ligonier to create a teaching series surveying the marks of a healthy church. You can watch the first message for free here.

Do You Get Nervous Before You Preach?

A surprising number of preachers—even veterans—get nervous before they preach.

10 Leadership Questions

Here are 10 solid leadership questions (though they may be a bit oversold as the greatest leadership questions ever asked!).

Squadron of Hope

There is some stunning underwater footage in this video from Indonesia.

Flashback: Lessons Learned at Strange Fire

These were final reflections on the Strange Fire conference.

God delights to exalt the humble and to humble the exalted.D.A. Carson

Gospel Weariness
October 20, 2016

Gospel weariness. It’s a little phrase I picked up from a friend when he preached at our church not too long ago. His text was James 1, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds…” As he began to preach he told of some of the difficulties his church had encountered in recent days. Most recently and most painfully, dear friends who had only one opportunity to have a child had experienced stillbirth at eight and a half months, just two weeks from delivery. What tragedy. What sorrow.

He and his friends are Christians so they know that suffering is not empty, it is not purposeless, it is not meaningless. But that doesn’t make it any less painful.

Why? Why do we experience such suffering? Why does God allow it? Just from these early verses in James we see something unexpected—trials do us good. Trials do us good by developing spiritual maturity, by developing the most precious character traits. “Trials don’t come about because of what you’ve done but because of who God wants you to be.” Trials generate humility, leveling the field as small and great alike experience pain, miscarriage, death. Trials develop compassion and dependence, teaching us to sympathize with others and be dependent upon God. Trials give us courage in forcing us to handle what we were sure we could never deal with. The couple that lost their child displayed all of this when they said, “We have nowhere to go. All we have is God and his character to lean on.” At the funeral they declared, “Though the fog will not lift and the pain will not go, we hold on.” That’s faith.

Trials do us good in at least one more way: Trials develop a gospel weariness, a weariness with this world. Reflecting on all he had seen and experienced my friend said, “I hate this world right now. All it has done is break my heart.” It had broken his heart and the hearts of the people he loves. “None of us want to stay here. We want to rise in the resurrection and be done with the pain. All this world does is fool you and fail you. It over-promises and under-delivers.”

All of this pain, all of this suffering, all of these trials had made him, had made them, weary. They were tired of suffering, tired of groaning under the weight of this world. “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed…” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9). Rising up within them was an increased desire for a time, for a place, when all trials will be over.

This is a gospel weariness, a weariness I’ve heard described by others, a weariness I’ve begun to feel within. Gospel weariness elevates our perspective from our feet to the horizon, from the trials of this world to the hope of the world to come. It stirs within us a holy longing to be done with this life and to enter into the life to come. It fixates on God’s promises, promises of deliverance, of restitution, of eternal peace. It is a weariness that rests on the promises of the gospel, that finds its hope in the God of the gospel. It does not wallow in despair but gazes with confidence to the future. It is a weariness that cries with the saints of all the ages, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

October 20, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include: The Seven Saying of the Savior on the Cross by A.W. Pink, The Dating Manifesto by Lisa Anderson, Romans by Charles Hodge, and And He Dwelt Among Us by A.W. Tozer.

Sinclair Ferguson has a new book out that looks excellent. Westminster Books has it discounted as their deal of the week.

You Get What You Pay For

“It seems to me that we live in an era of American culture that is awash in the cheap and unsatisfying.” This is true of entertainment, to be sure. But true of more as well.

When Pragmatism Overtakes Scripture

Stephen Kneale interacts with the article I wrote yesterday about the missing elements of modern worship and focuses on pragmatism.

The Pictures Never Go Away

This is heartbreaking: “If I could only make one argument to the seventeen-year-old me, and it’s the point I want to make to every young woman who comes here looking for advice in regards to sexting, it is this: Those pictures never go away. Ever.”

Loneliness Follows Sudden Wealth

This story from the BBC should not be surprising: “While most people wouldn’t give up longing for financial wealth, those who’ve experienced living the dream say it can be isolating and that their lives often look rosier from the outside.”

Laboring For Maturity

“Spiritual maturity, you see, does not just happen.  My children will physically grow whether I tell them to or not.  I don’t have to set time aside for their physical growth each day, and it’s certainly not a labor for me.  But to grow spiritually takes work, takes labor, takes striving everyday to be closer to God.”

This Day in 1949. 66 years ago today was the last of the Inkling’s Thursday meetings. This group of Christians associated with Oxford included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. *

Don’t Waste Your Ambition

Here’s a guest article I was asked to write with teens in mind.

Seabirds’ Death-Defying Dives

How is it that seabirds don’t break their necks in their high-speed dives? This article explains though, unfortunately, it relies on evolution to explain it all. (I wonder how many generations of seabirds died evolving to their current state…) 

The Culture of Death in Colorado

“Well that was fast. Not even a minute into the evaluation and the doctor suggested we go ahead and let my dad go. The injuries that landed him in the ER on Sunday night did not appear to be life-threatening. He’s 75…” 

Flashback: Why You May Be Tempted To Neglect Your Church

God has made Christians to thrive and survive only in community. Lone Christians are dead Christians.

Pride is a form of cosmic plagiarism-claiming to be the author of something that is actually a gift. —Tim Keller