The Book that Has Most Influenced My Writing

When I talk to writers or talk about writing, I’m inevitably asked questions like these: What books have most influenced your writing? What books do you recommend to become a better writer? My answers have varied through the years, though William Zinnser’s On Writing Well is generally near the top of the list, and I’m always sure to hold up Malcolm Gladwell as the kind of writer I’d someday like to become. Yet I’ve always known I haven’t read enough …

Is It Sinful to Observe (or Not To Observe) Lent?

This is the time of year when I receive a lot of questions about Lent. Is it sinful to observe Lent? Is it sinful not to? Is there spiritual benefit in observing it? Or could there even be an element of spiritual danger? I am going to offer a few comments of my own, then direct you to some contemporary writers who have been helpful to me. This much is beyond dispute: Nowhere in the Bible are we commanded to …

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The Beauty of a Gentle Heart

If there is any quality that is conspicuous by its absence today, perhaps it is gentleness. Though this is a precious and beautiful trait, it is sadly rare. I recently read (and highly recommend!) J.R. Miller’s short work A Gentle Heart, and in that book I came across this convicting passage which reminds us of the source and model of our gentleness. *** There was gentleness in the world before Jesus came. There was mother love. There was friendship, deep, …

The Eternal Significance of a Single Little Word

Jesus tells us—in fact, he solemnly warns us—that our words matter. Every single word we speak has significance. “I tell you,” he says, “on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak” (Matthew 12:36). Not most of those careless words. Not some of those careless words. All of them. This is a terrifying thought for those of us who are prone to speak often, speak hastily, or speak harshly. It calls us to repent, …

When Grumbling Meets Gossip

It’s for good reason that the Apostle Paul is considered one of the greatest leaders among the first generation of Christians. He was the early church’s foremost theologian, pastor, missionary, and church planter. He was also the Christian faith’s chief exemplar. Through the descriptions of his life in the book of Acts and the biographical details contained in the various epistles, we see him setting an example of how a Christian is to live. In fact, he lived such a …

Confession of Sin & Assurance of Pardon

One of the key elements in our worship services at Grace Fellowship Church is a confession of sin and assurance of pardon. We try to vary the way we do these and I found last week’s particular effective and moving. Here’s how it went. We began this portion of the service by reading Psalm 119:65–72, then singing verses 81-88 (set to Belmont). Then Steve, our associate pastor, said this: God’s Word is good, delightful, true, and reliable. It always points …

A Pastoral Prayer

Every now and again I like to share an example of a pastoral prayer from Grace Fellowship Church. I do this because there are few examples of pastoral prayers online and I thought these may serve to inspire themes, passages, or ideas as other pastors and elders prepare to lead their churches in prayer. Here is one Dwight Miller, one of our elders, prayed before our church not too long ago. *** O Great God, who is like you? We could …

Has the Bible Been Preserved For Us Today?

I recently announced that my new book, A Visual Theology Guide to the Bible, is just about ready to launch and that we are now taking pre-orders. It is due to be released at the end of March. In the meantime, I wanted to give you a brief taste of what you’ll read and what you’ll see when it’s in your hands. Keep reading for a section that tells (and shows) how the Bible has been preserved for us. Buy …

Biographies for People Who Have Never Read a Biography

In recent weeks I’ve encountered a number of people who have never read a biography. While there’s no law commanding the reading of biographies, there are certainly many good reasons to make them a regular part of a reading diet. Today I want to offer just a few suggestions and recommendations for people who are approaching biography for the first time, or for the first time in a long while. Three Tips I’ll begin with a few suggestions for getting …

Meet My Friend Selina

As I’ve traveled the world over the past year, I’ve made many new friends. Some of these friends are living, but many more of them have long since gone to glory, and I’ve had to meet them through their biographies and through the objects they’ve left behind. One of my new friends is Selina Hastings, Countess of Huntingdon. In what follows, I want to briefly introduce you to her. She was born into prominence. She was born on August 24, …