The Hospital is Full of Sick People!

I’m shocked! I mean absolutely shocked! Now, I don’t normally write in order to rant. I’m a firm believer that people have better things to do than read my rants–or anyone’s for that matter. But if I don’t say something I know I’m going to bottle it up and I’ll probably have a hard time sleeping–maybe even a hard time functioning as a normal human being. And if I don’t warn you, you might also experience what I did and I can’t even bear the thought. The craziest thing happened to me today. Can I tell you about it?

Here’s what happened. I decided to go and visit a hospital. I didn’t go because I felt sick. In fact, I felt just fine. I went simply to scope the place out. Now, I don’t do that on a regular basis and what I’m about to tell you will probably be so disturbing that you will never want to step foot in a hospital again. And, truth be told, I can’t blame you. Yes, you can thank me latter. Anyway, I got into the hospital and was waiting in the lobby and quickly found out that I was surrounded by coughing, sneezing, […]

Are We Being Exposed To Too Much Of The Bible?

Can I hear you say, did I read that right?  How could anyone be exposed to too much of the Bible?  I am aware that most of you reading this blog will be serious, godly people, but the title is ‘Gentle Reformation’ and surely our desire is that there would be a gentle reformation in the lives of those around us who profess faith in Christ but are struggling to live it.
I think one of the issues facing the church today is the fact that too few Christians are actually living as Christians because too few Christians are actually reading their Bible. Why is this the case?  Is it because too many Christians think that they are probably getting enough of the Bible already, from their multiple contacts with it through the church?  If that is the case, therein lies a grave danger.  For it indicates that many Christians are confusing exposure to the Bible with engagement with God through His Word?  (Even if that exposure is of a really good quality.)
Think about it.  What does the normal church/personal life look like with reference to God’s Word.  On a Sunday you have Sunday school or Bible classes with doctrinal or thematic teaching, one, hopefully […]

Baptism and the Burden of Proof

Who bears the burden of proof in the argument over infant baptism? The New Testament (NT) neither explicitly commands the baptizing of infant children of believers nor forbids it. Sometimes what is NOT said speaks loudly to us. In this case, the absence of a direct command regarding infants and baptism strongly supports one position on this issue over the other.

Given that the people of God in the Old Testament (OT) had been putting the sign of the covenant (circumcision) on their infant children for nearly 2,000 years when Jesus arrived on the scene, it is logical to infer that NT believers, who were overwhelmingly Jewish, would have assumed that the NT sign of the covenant (baptism) would be applied to their children as well. The absence of any prohibitions on baptizing the children of believers or even any discussion of this as an issue in the churches to which Paul wrote suggests that this was NOT an issue in the early church. The only way it could be a non-issue is if there was no fundamental change in the way the sign was applied to the children of believers.

While there is […]

How do I know what is morally wrong?

In two different Bible studies in different settings that I have led in the last month, the question has been asked, “How do I know what is wrong?” – as in morally wrong. In one case, the inquirer was an atheist, and in the other case, the question came from a life-long church attendee of various churches that never encouraged substantial study of the Bible. It is a wonderful question – especially since it flowed from genuine, personal interest as we studied God’s word.

The succinct answer of Westminster Shorter Catechism question and answer 14 helps greatly in such discussions. It asks and answers, “What is sin?” “Sin is any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God.”  The context of our Bible study called for the language to be modernized, and it was – sin is not doing what God commands or doing what he forbids (James 4:17 & Leviticus 5:17).

“But how would I know what those things are?” came one reply. Where in the Bible do we find guidance so that we will know what we ought to do – or when we need to ask forgiveness? Sin is of course more than simply doing the wrong […]

The Death of a Neighbor

I’m told that he ended his life by sitting in a running car in a closed garage.

My mind can’t help but picture the scene. I see him sitting there with a blank stare, a cigarette in hand, smoking one more time. The radio isn’t on. The space is dark.

A man who had been my neighbor for nearly six years recently committed suicide. A co-worker informed me of his death. At first, I didn’t know who he was talking about. He just described cop cars speeding to a particular house. But as he continued to describe various details surrounding the man’s life, I suddenly asked, “Was his name Joel?” “Yes. It was Joel,” came the reply. I sighed deeply and then said, “He used to be my neighbor.”

The Badness of Our Good

A year after the posting of his Ninety-five Theses, Martin Luther was called before the German congregation of his Augustinian order to give an accounting of his teachings.  In what became known as his Heidelberg Disputation, Luther laid out with precision a series of twenty-eight statements he referred to as “theological paradoxes” to contrast the growing Protestant understanding of the gospel with the reigning Catholic theology of the day.  The importance of this presentation is seen in that a number of the early reformers, men such as Martin Bucer, were in attendance and were greatly influenced by Luther’s teaching.

Without seeing Luther’s deeply Biblical underpinnings set against the theological context of the times, these paradoxes can read more like unsatisfying contradictions at points.  Nowhere is this more evident than when he treats the subject of good works.  For instance, Thesis 6 states this:

The works of God (we speak of those that he does through man) are thus not merits, as though they were sinless.

On the surface, this statement can appear to be saying that the perfect, holy God can take actions which have no merit in them and even have sin in them somehow. Yet this is to miss Luther’s point and the brilliancy that is actually shining through […]

Presence & Absence

A couple weeks ago I wrote about a vital ministry skill, knowing how to take a punch, being able to minister to someone despite the hurt they may inflict on you in the process.

What’s on my mind this week is another ministry skill that’s sometimes hard to come by: a commitment to presence and an understanding of absence. Or, more broadly, knowing and practicing the power of presence with the hurting as well as knowing and practicing the helpfulness of absence.

An Idea for Family Worship

Lately, I’ve been taking different podcast episodes and chopping them up into bite-sized portions for family worship. We listen for 10-15 minutes and discuss the subject matter, scrutinizing the worldview through a Christian lens. While it isn’t a bible study, per se, I think there is value in introducing teenagers to the various streams of secular thought influencing culture.

Here are a few that might be of interest to you:

• Point of Inquiry: Peter Singer: Maximizing Morality with Reason

• Unbelievable? Does Scripture Forbid Same-Sex Relationships? Robert Gagnon vs Jayne Ozanne

• Evan May, pastor at Lakeview Christian Center in New Orleans, has given us an excellent presentation on the problem of evil. It will provide a good framework for further discussion. This is more advanced, and so it should only be used with older children.

If I Were to Sin

John said the Bible was written so that “you may not sin.”

But what if I were to sin?

If I were to sin, I would not want to have a god other than the Trinity or worship idols.
For I would become like the false god or the idol I worshipped.
I don’t want to be angry like Allah or blind like a Buddha.
(Psalm 115:1-8)

If I were to sin, I would not want to use the Lord’s name wrongly.
He takes it personally and how could I hurt the One whose very name gives me salvation?
(Exodus 20:7; Acts 4:12)

If I were to sin, I would not want to forget the Sabbath Day.
I would miss too many blessings and ultimately forget the Lord Himself.
(Isaiah 58:13-14)

If I were to sin, I would not dishonor my parents or even roll my eyes at them.
For that is to invite the birds of the valley to peck out those eyes.
(Proverbs 30:17)

If I were to sin, I would not want to mess around with another man’s wife.
For that would be like lighting a fire on my […]

You Must Read

Do you ever find yourself squinting at a photograph of someone standing in front of a bookcase, trying to work out the titles of the books they own? Or, when you visit someone’s house, looking through the books on the shelves and trying to gain some profound insight into their personality based on what they read? Or is it just me?

Wouldn’t you love the chance to go into the studies of men and women who have been greatly used by God and see the kinds of books they enjoy and have been influenced by? To be able to ask Sinclair Ferguson or R.C. Sproul or John McArthur or Jerry Bridges what books have especially shaped them as Christians?

If you’re with me in answering those questions with a resounding ‘Absolutely!’ then let me recommend a new book that allows you to sit down with 32 proven servants of Christ and find out about the books that have shaped their lives and ministries.

‘You Must Read’ is a fascinating book that you must read if you have any interest in finding out what are some of the greatest treasures of Christian literature and why they are treasures. It was published by the Banner […]