Browse Worthy: Eternity Etched on My Eyes

With Browse Worthy, I usually take thematically related links and put them together every week or two. However, today’s link deserves a space all its own.

Katie is a dear friend to most of us on Gentle Reformation. She recounts on Warhorn blog, in a post entitled “Etenity Etched on My Eyes”, her testimony of the long valley of pain the Lord took her through due to surgeries seeking to correct a misshapen spine. In so doing, she also honors her parents, Dave and Jenny Long, who moved heaven and earth to help their daughter, and ends by reflecting on how her suffering prepared her family for what happened to her father.

Below is the first part to get you started. Be sure to click the link to read the rest of the story.

Before the surgery, my spine was curved in the shape of a C. It was twisted and it was deforming my rib cage.

After the surgery, two rods, sixteen screws, and several hooks now held my spine perfectly straight.

They said the next year would be a painful recovery as I waited for my spine to fuse in the eight places where they removed the discs.

“I’m so weak. I’m so weak. I’m so […]

Our children need to see the power of God

If our children do not see the power of God, they will not believe him. So we pray daily that they will see the power of our Lord.

Moses prayed in Psalm 90, “Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.”

How will we and they see his power?

By seeing God’s mighty acts of redemption accomplished in history. The generation following those who had walked through the Red Sea had not seen the Exodus. Yet, Moses told that generation to tell their children in the first person plural, “We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt. And the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. And the LORD showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes” (Deuteronomy 6:21-22). In 2016, we have not seen God’s historical saving acts with our own physical eyes. We did not see the Red Sea part. We did not see the crucifixion. We did not see Jesus come forth from the grave. But we have seen God’s redemption accomplished before our eyes through the testimony of his witnesses. Our children will see the glorious power of God as […]

Helping Rural America in Crisis

In a recent article Anthony Bradley, professor of religious studies at The King’s College in New York, drew attention to the “deadly crisis in rural America.” Citing analysis from The Washington Post and studies from the National Center for Health Statistics, Bradley noted the unusually high rate of suicides in rural areas. Such statistics, he believes, evidence the hopelessness, despair, and depression found in the same. Without giving any answers, he asks the provocative and necessary question: “Do conservative Protestants care? Have we traded off reaching hurt people with redemptive healing and hope for influence and power in places where Christians can have an ‘impact’ and ‘influence’ the culture? […] Why are evangelicals more excited about planting churches and missions in ‘alpha cities’ among artists, creatives, and professionals rather than the rural areas where people are suffering?”

As a pastor in rural America these questions resonate deeply with me. It is well documented that small town America rarely looks like Mayberry, and a lot like “Methland.” The crisis we witness in these areas is a crisis for the church. After all, hopelessness, despair, and depression can only be interpreted, mitigated, and worked through by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Yet, it […]

The Backside Blessings of Blogging

Like the businessman whose only measure of success is the bottom line or the pastor who only looks at how many people are in his church’s pews, bloggers can also be one-dimensional in gauging the importance of their work. They can see how many hits or Facebook likes a post receives, and then weigh their success or failure. Also, in the speed of light nature of the internet, bloggers can feel that yesterday’s blog post is already long forgotten and grow discouraged. That is why it is helpful to see some of the hidden blessings of blogging that often are overlooked.

In pointing out a few of these, perhaps this post is written just to encourage other bloggers including my fellow GenRef Gents. Or maybe those thinking about starting a blog, but hesitant to do so, will find some needed stimulation here. Or though I had actually begun working on this post before I read Tim Challies’ article “A Call for Plodding Bloggers” last week, one could consider this article as a further Amen to his call to keep on keeping on. Regardless, after blogging over a number of years, I have enjoyed at least these five blessings in so doing.

Thoughts are clarified. As the old saying goes, “Over the […]

The Mild-Mannered Messiah

The Meekness of the Master

They say that confession is good for the soul – so I thought I better blog and get this off my chest….

…..I was preaching last Lord’s Day on my 1st ‘I wills’ of Christ. I took for my text Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” When I reached my 3rd point, on the meekness of Christ in v29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart”, I really didn’t ‘nail it’. I had intended to say that this relief is obtained when we take up Christ’s yoke of discipleship, and learn to serve and imitate a meek, mild-mannered master. So let me try to explain a little of what it means to be meek like the Master.

Defining the Meekness of Jesus

The lexicon defines this attractive characteristic trait in the following way: meek means to possess a “mild and friendly disposition” or be “gentle, kind, considerate.” It is relational word which involves the manner in which we care for, treat, handle and manage others. If Messiah is meek who would not want Him as Master and to be like Jesus […]

The Flow of the Psalms

Here’s a question for all my fellow Pastors. If you’re preparing to preach on Peter’s confession of Jesus as Christ in Mark 8.29 and his subsequent misunderstanding of the nature of the Christ’s mission, is it necessary to think about the two-stage healing of the blind man in verses 22-26? Do you need to spend any time wondering about the central, pivotal place Peter’s confession has in the Gospel of Mark as a whole, or its relationship to the opening verse: ‘The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ’? Hopefully your answer to these questions is something along the lines of ‘Duh! Of course.’

OK, very good. No prizes for getting that right! But how about this one: if you’re preparing to preach on Psalm 107, do you need to think about Psalm 106? Or Psalm 150? Do you think about the relationship of this psalm to the other psalms in book 5 of the Psalter? Did you remember that the Psalter is divided into 5 books? Do you spend any time thinking about how Psalm 107 fits into the structure of the rest of the Psalter? Or do you just take Psalm 107 out of its vacuum-sealed container and go […]

Browse Worthy: Bathroom Battles

I never thought I’d have a blog post with this title.

With three children sharing a bathroom at home, we do sometimes have minor skirmishes in this area. Yet they are nothing like the battles going on in our culture. These conflicts cause us now to pause every time we are outside a public restroom door about what to do when we need to go.

Here are some perspectives to help.

Will You Use Target’s Transgender Bathroom?

John Piper packs some good theology into this article about not following the agenda of this world, but then does give his direct answer:

So, in answer to the last part of the question, Would you, John Piper, use a gender open restroom even if it says men on the door? My answer is, If I were there and if I had to, I would — just like I would stop on the highway if I had to. But I wouldn’t if I didn’t have to. And the reason I wouldn’t is because I want there to be a small act of protest and life consistency that may have no impact at all on the powers that make such decisions, but that keep my conscience clear and acknowledge God in […]

A Few Words For Our Cultural Moment

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but […]

Answering This Generation’s Question of Essential Identity

Each news cycle brings with it one more saga about sexual and gender identity. North Carolina establishing bathroom laws against transgender usage. The mayor of New York City restricting travel to the state of North Carolina to boycott this action. The Obama administration issuing a directive late last week mandating public schools and other institutions receiving certain federal grants to give transgender students access to bathrooms or face the risk of the loss of funds or even lawsuits. The lieutenant governor of Texas declaring they will forfeit the funds rather than comply. As Trevin Wax, Russell Moore, and other are pointing out, the ramifications of these actions on society and the church are great.

At the heart of this issue and related ones is the fundamental question of identity. Repeatedly, when proponents of gay, lesbian, and transgender rights speak, they use the terminology of self-identification. This generation is trying to discover itself and, in the spirit of this postmodern age, looks within to find the answer.

The most well-known example of this inward-turning search for identity is seen in Bruce Jenner. Not long ago he self-identified as a woman, began dressing then went through procedures to become such, and now calls himself Caitlyn. He appeared as […]