Better Faithful Than Free

Human beings have the ability to speak because we have been made in the image of the speaking God. The great majority of us live in societies in which we enjoy the immense privilege of free speech, but this privilege is not universal. Neither does God guarantee we will all enjoy the right. This quote from Luke Davis’s True Hope: A Concise Journey Through Christian Ethics shows that, for all the good that comes with free speech, there is a …

What Is the Attractional Church?

No one has more consistently described, considered, and countered the attractional model of church than Jared Wilson. In his book The Gospel-Driven Church, one I’d recommend to every pastor, he answers this question: What is the attractional church, anyway? I (and many others) use the term attractional to refer to a way of doing church ministry who’s primary purpose is to make Christianity appealing. The reasoning behind the attractional church approach goes something like this: One reason seekers aren’t attracted …

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Stuck in the Mire of Our Love for this World

Earlier this week a friend asked where he should start in reading Calvin’s Institutes. I suggested, as I often do, beginning with Calvin’s A Little Book on the Christian Life which is an excerpt of the larger work, and one focused largely on Christian living. Here’s a wonderful and timely extract from the new edition translated by Aaron Denlinger and Burk Parsons. In whatever trouble comes to us, we should always set our eyes on God’s purpose to train us …

Four Distinguishing Characteristics of Christian Assurance

Assurance of salvation is one of the most precious Christian doctrines, but in some ways also one of the most difficult. Why? As Sinclair Ferguson so aptly explains, because some outstanding Christians experience it only through the greatest struggles while others never fail to experience it. In this brief excerpt from his book Maturity, Ferguson explains four distinguishing characteristics of truly Christian assurance. Some come to experience assurance only after a long struggle. That has been true of many outstanding …

What a Morning That Will Be!

This morning dawned bright and clear and beautiful. But no matter how wonderful the day, we know that the greatest glories of this world pale in comparison to the least glories in the next. In that vein, please read and enjoy this wonderful prayer by Robert Hawker (as found in Piercing Heaven: Prayers of the Puritans). You who are King of nations and King of saints, are also my God and King. For you have a universal empire, being one …

Working Up a Spiritual Sweat

I was recently reading through the new, updated version of Kent Hughes’ Disciplines of a Godly Man and was struck anew by the Bible’s call that we strive and labor for godliness. While his intended audience is primarily men, the message is equally applicable to women. ***** The statement from Paul to Timothy regarding spiritual discipline in 1 Timothy 4:7—“train yourself for godliness”—takes on not only transcending importance, but personal urgency. There are other passages that teach discipline, but this is …

How To Discover and Deploy Your Gifts

The area of spiritual gifts is one that seems to come and go, to ebb and flow, in the life of the church. Sometimes we are inundated with talk of discovering and deploying our gifts, and sometimes it seems they get forgotten altogether. Either way, I was blessed to read some of Sinclair Ferguson’s thoughts on the matter (from his book Maturity). Here is what he has to say about the matter. *** The place to start is this: do …

A Shepherd and His Dog

I’ve mentioned before that Harold Senkbeil’s The Care of Souls has been a particularly meaningful and challenging book for me, and one I’d commend to every pastor or elder. Today I’d like to share a brief excerpt in which he so aptly describes the relationship between a pastor and his church. ***** In the old days when I was young, dairy herds were comparatively small. On diversified farms like ours, cows would be let out to graze in pasture between …

The Greatest Wonder of All

Though you could travel a hundred times the speed of light, past countless yellow-orange stars, to the edge of the galaxy and swoop down to the fiery glow located a few hundred light-years below the plane of the Milky Way,  Though you could slow to examine the host of hot young stars luminous among the gas and dust,  Though you could observe, close-up, the protostars poised to burst forth from their dusty cocoons,  Though you could witness a star’s birth,  …

Oft in Sorrow, Oft in Woe

A little while ago I encountered the poetry of Henry Kirke White. Though he lived only a short life, he created some remarkably mature work like “Sonnet To My Mother.” Another tremendous work of his is “Oft in Sorrow, Oft in Woe.” Though it has been recorded as a hymn, I prefer it as a poem. Read it and be encouraged by it! Oft in sorrow, oft in woe, Onward, Christian, onward go: Fight the fight, maintain the strife Strengthened …