Post the Strongest Soldiers at the Weakest Gate

The bridge was drawn, the gates were barred, the watchmen were posted to the walls. From their vantage point they observed the enemy armies draw close, they watched as the officers divided their force into ranks and regiments. They heard the great shout and looked on in trepidation as the enemy units surged forward. And now that the great battle was at hand, the order was shouted from on high and passed from man to man: “Post the strongest soldiers …

It’s Far Too Easy To Buy A Tiger

A comedian jokes, rightly I’m sure, that it’s far too easy to buy a tiger. Buying a tiger “is not an all day thing,” he says, “it’s like an hour—I’ll be right back with our tiger.” We do hear about people who welcome big cats into their homes and we all have a pretty good idea of how such stories are likely to end. While we would be surprised to hear of a man being killed by his pet hamster …

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Why Should We Remember what God Forgets?

We serve a forgetful God. This forgetfulness reflects no fault in him, no weakness of his mind or memory. Rather, it reflects the strength of his mercy and grace, for he forgets only what would separate us from him, only what would alienate sinful humans from a holy God. It is our sinfulness that he puts out of his mind, our wickedness that he remembers no more. Though he has seen all the evil we have done and all the …

Our Lust Is Furious and Our Greed Limitless

If you have ever wanted a taste of Calvin’s Institutes but without committing to the whole thing, you may want to try reading A Little Book on the Christian Life. It is an excerpt of the larger work, and one focused largely on Christian living. Here’s an extract from a new edition translated by Aaron Denlinger and Burk Parsons. In striving for either convenience or tranquility in this present life, Scripture calls us to resign our wills and everything that …

Respectable Sins of the Reformed World

Jerry Bridges gave many gifts to the church, not the least of which was his 2007 book Respectable Sins. In it he coined a term that describes a whole category of sins that might otherwise escape our attention. “Respectable sins” are behaviors Christians (sometimes individually and sometimes corporately) regard as acceptable even though the Bible describes them as sinful. They are subtle or refined in such a way that we may even dress them up to become a kind of …

The Prayer of a Convicted Sinner

A recent book titled Piercing Heaven shares favorite prayers from the Puritans. Many of them are amazing. As an example, here is Philip Doddridge with the prayer of a convicted sinner. Injured King and almighty Judge, what can I say to the charges against me? Should I pretend to be offended, and defend myself? I do not dare. You know my foolishness. None of my sins is hidden from you. My conscience tells me that denying my crimes would only increase …

On Being an Inflatable Tank

It’s one of my favorite tales from a war that was packed full of stranger-than-fiction moments. During the Second World War, the Allied forces created a dummy army. Eager to deceive the Germans into thinking they were stronger than they actually were, the Allies hired a team of artists and designers to create a fake army—one that would look just real enough to deceive spies snooping around nearby or surveillance flights flying far overhead. So they built planes that were …

What Gave Him Such Confidence?

When we sin against other people, our natural response is to distance ourselves from them. The naughty child who has defied her parents will look at the mess she has made, then slink away to her room. The church member who has spread gossip about another person will keep his distance the next Sunday. In this way, we imitate our first parents when they committed their first sin. In their shame and uncertainty, they ran and hid in a vain …

Always Count the Cost

Just a couple of blocks from my home is the concrete shell of an unfinished mosque. Several years ago they broke ground and quickly after poured the concrete for the foundation and the four great minarets. And then the project went dormant. For almost three years it has sat ugly and unfinished, a grey concrete husk on the edge of the city. A GoFundMe page shows they have completed phase one of the project, but have collected less than one …

If I’m Forgiven, Why Can’t I Keep Sinning?

I was recently privileged to speak at a conference in Quezon City, Philippines. The question and answer session yielded some interesting questions like this one: “If forgiveness is guaranteed and there is no longer any condemnation for me, why not sin?” This was my answer in the context of the sermon I had just preached. Transcript If forgiveness is guaranteed and there is no longer any condemnation for me, why not sin? I think Paul anticipated this in the book of …