Lessons from a Humiliating Failure

Have you had this nightmare? Your child is on stage in a school play; she is in the middle of a solo which she has performed flawlessly in every rehearsal and on previous nights, when suddenly her voice wobbles and then chokes. You can’t believe it’s happening, but there she is, humiliated and devastated, her hands covering her face trying to block out the hundreds of eyes watching her while the rest of the cast try to improvise around her failure.

Except that for my wife and me it wasn’t a bad dream. It happened to one of our children (who shall remain nameless, at a time that will remain unspecified!).

After first of all pouring out love, comfort and sympathy, my wife and I then began to talk with our daughter about some of the lessons God might be teaching her even through something as difficult as this.

Our starting point and overarching principle was that Romans 8.28 really means what it says. All things really do work together for the good of those who love God. God is good and wise and in control of everything that happens. He can use even huge catastrophes to bring about good things—if he could […]


Play The Longest Game

This coming Sunday will be my last sermon in a long series through the book of Revelation. As I’ve been considering some of the bigger lessons God has taught me through the series, I keep coming back to the importance of having an eternal perspective on this life’s ups and downs. It’s said that chess masters are often successful because they are playing beyond the current move. Instead of just wondering what the best next move is, they’re thinking about the next two or three (or seven or eight) moves and how their current move can be used in the long game of success. 


Qualifying our Ever-So-Merciful Consciences

The church is called to be a merciful people. Jesus has called us to extend mercy as we preach the gospel through the nations.  Sometimes, it seems, at least here in the U.S.A.,  as though we go out of our way to footnote, qualify, and  give restrictions on how that mercy is to be distributed. We often err on the side of doing nothing rather than on the side of doing too much. If I am ever in a position where I need mercy extended to me…  I hope that the church errs on the side of grace. Maybe loving our neighbor would cause us to do likewise.

Or maybe not…. we should check the footnotes to be sure. 


GenRef Podcast: Christian Apologetics with James Anderson

It was our pleasure to speak with Dr. James Anderson, Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy at Reformed Theological Seminary. Specializing in religious epistemology and philosophical theology, Dr. Anderson brings to the table a wide array of insights into the subject of Christian apologetics.  Join us as we speak with him about defending the faith.


A Great Pro-Life Idea

On a cold, wintry day in the early 1980’s, while a student at the University of Michigan, I participated in a pro-life march on campus.  As a brand new Christian, I wanted to witness publicly regarding my freshly experienced faith.  So as the snow fell, 10-15 of us walked silently and sheepishly across the campus, holding up amateurishly hand-painted signs made out of cardboard. One sign had a picture of an aborted baby stapled to it.  The rest had the typical slogans of the day.

“Abortion Kills a Child.”

“Abortion Hurts Women.”

“Adoption the Better Option.”

The next day in the student newspaper, a front page picture appeared of our group.  My presence was seen front and center, with a somewhat mocking article underneath.  Since the paper was printed on the very day of my January birth date, I kept a copy and took it home to show my parents, thinking they would find it amusing.  I remember being a bit shocked at their response.  My dad was not happy, and seriously warned me that my photo could be placed in government and employer files, making it difficult for me to find a job someday.  I was told that it was okay to have a private belief about this subject, but […]


A Letter to the Anxious Christian

Dear Mr. Anxious,

Hello friend! I wanted to thank you for your letter. I must admit, however, that I was sorry to hear of your many burdensome anxieties. They are a load you were not meant to bear. You’re not alone. The world is full of anxious people. I don’t mean people who are anxious about the things of God–sin and temptation or the condition of their souls. If only we had more of that and less of worldly worry! No, we worry about all kinds of things—money and health, marriage and children, school and work, reputations and appearances, today and tomorrow; we worry about what we will eat and drink and wear—and on and on the list could go. In my own case, I must admit, every now and then anxiety hangs over my head like a dark shadow that seems all but impossible to escape.

Yet, Mr. Anxiety, I feel strongly that a Christian has as much a right to worry as he does to steal, lie, or kill. That is, he doesn’t have a right–it’s illegal! Worry is unbelief, it’s being mastered by circumstances, it’s a distrust of God’s promises. We worry, and worry is sin. The command is […]


Being Open to Closed Doors

Have you ever been so sure that the Lord wanted something or someone for you, some particular way of serving Him, only to find in the end that you and the Lord were apparently not on the same page?  How are we to handle these disappointments, especially as they raise unsettling questions like these:  How could I have been so wrong about God’s will for me?  Did I unknowingly do something to disqualify myself from the blessing I so deeply desired, and if so, how will I ever know?  Or perhaps most painfully: “Now that He’s taken from me what I was certain He was giving to me – what do I do now?”     


Why Joy Increases Through Evangelism

We all struggle with discouragement as Christians. We wonder, “Why I am I not more joyful?” One of the ways joy grows in our lives is through the practice of evangelism. Many people I know say that if they are discouraged, one helpful diagnostic question they ask themselves is “when was the last time I spoke to a person who does not yet believe in Christ about the kingdom of God?” The Lord delights to multiply our joy by calling us into the harvest fields with him. He just does.

The seventy-two that Jesus sent out in Luke 10 experienced this increase in joy first-hand. Their circumstances and calling were not identical to ours, but our gladness will grow similarly as we serve as Jesus’ witnesses in our own settings. Why does joy grow when we proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to those yet apart from Christ?

Joy increases through evangelism because we see the power of God at work. Luke 10:17 records “The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’” Jesus said of what he had seen while they were on their mission “I saw Satan falling like lightning […]


Russell Moore Interview of Rosaria Butterfield

The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Church held their national conference at the end of October on the topic of “The Gospel, Homosexuality, and the Future of Marriage.”  Russell Moore interviewed Rosaria Butterfield, author of The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.  You can watch this fascinating interview below.


Left Behind Theology – A Critical Look

A young lady recently asked one of the authors here about the “Left Behind” phenomenon, and specifically the theology undergirding the perspective. She wanted some help understanding the viewpoint. Since we haven’t posted anything on the topic, it seemed good to go ahead and say a few things.

Now to be perfectly transparent, I haven’t read the Left Behind series, nor have I watched the movie. If the reviews over at IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes are any indication, no one in their right mind would consider doling out money to watch the show. One reviewer bemoaned it this way, “I am now relatively certain there is a Hell and it is a darkened theater with no doors showing Left Behind on a loop for eternity.”

Ouch!

But never mind the movie. What about the theology behind it?

While there are many variations and nuanced differences within this particular school of thought, the theological perspective motivating the ideas found in Left Behind originate with a viewpoint known as dispensationalism.

Much could be said about this. In fact, to really get a firm grasp on the position, as well as some of the more recent developments (known as Progressive Dispensationalism), it would require reading book length works. […]