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Confessional Boundary Stones

Do not move the ancient boundary which your fathers have set.” -Proverbs 22:28

Around western Pennsylvania where I live, it is common to see yards and farmlands with stone walls taken from the the abundant flagstone found in this region. As you walk or drive by one of these walls, they convey a sense of boundary, antiquity, and definition. The walls almost seem to give off an aura of peace and permanence.

In recent weeks the Lord has given me a number of experiences where I have had that same feeling when it comes to the historic confessions and creeds of the church.

At the beginning of the academic year our seminary faculty treated the subject of providence from the Westminster Confession of Faith, and there was a sense of security in standing with these men reviewing and rediscovering the beautiful and comforting truths of this doctrine.

In a class on preaching I teach, we are discussing each week a portion of the statement on preaching found in the Westminster Directory of Publick Worship.

During the recent internet firestorm regarding the errant teaching on the eternal submission of the Son, it has been comforting to […]

Mortification and Vivification

As we have considered mortifying sin, or putting it to death, as taught by John Owen, we first looked at how the law awakens sin so we can address it in Christ and then clarified what is meant by killing sin by warning against mortification’s false forms. In this final post on this subject, I want to bring out another important aspect Owen treats regarding overcoming sin. Mortification is a hopeless business without the presence of the Holy Spirit.

Indeed, the pattern of gospel living Jesus and the apostles set before us is that we are not only to put sin to death but also live unto righteousness. Just as Christ died and then was raised, so we are daily to die to sin and live in obedience to Christ. As Paul told the Ephesians:

But you did not learn Christ in this way, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught in Him, just as truth is in Jesus, that, in reference to your former manner of life, you lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which […]

Clarification on Mortification

Last week I treated a short section of John Owen’s work The Mortification of Sin. Without seeking to go through the entire work, I wanted to follow it up with another post or two on other portions that I have especially found helpful.

I, as others, have found Owen’s treatment deeply insightful and purifying with respect to my own heart motivations. Here are two recommendations from influential authors.

John Owen’s treatises on Indwelling Sin in Believers and The Mortification of Sin are, in my opinion, the most helpful writings on personal holiness ever written.” —Jerry Bridges, author of The Pursuit of Holiness

I owe more to John Owen than to any other theologian, ancient or modern; and I owe more to [The Mortification of Sin] than to anything else he wrote.” —J.I. Packer

In speaking of this subject, it is important to review the meaning of mortification.  Mortify means to put to death.  Our calling as believers is to put to death our sin.  In Romans 6:13, Paul  commands, “Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts.”  So we must be crucifying the flesh or be engaged in the work of mortification as Christians. Yet, as Owen points out, […]

Tutored by a Nasty Flu

Forgive the lateness and silliness of this post. I’m still trying to recover.

In the midst of a week of starting a new school year, attending meetings, and speaking at a conference, I got hit by a head flu. Trying to teach with your nose, head, and ears stuffed with twenty pounds of cotton is a surreal experience. Speaking of cotton, trying to collect my thoughts was like grabbing for wisps of it floating in the wind. Often I wondered if what I was saying was making any sense to my students at all. I felt like I just was staring at them like a goldfish would through his bowl – mouth hanging open, eyes bulging, bubbles occasionally popping. That’s about all I remember from last week. That and just wanting to sleep.

By the weekend the bug decided to have children and send them south to my stomach. For the first time in our married life, we think, both my wife, who also fell ill, and I stayed home together from church. The girls came home afterwards and cared for their invalid parents, bringing us a lunch that we were not hungry for. Misery loves company, they say, but not too close, as we […]

Awakening Sin to Kill It

In his work The Mortification of Sin, John Owen gives page after page of help in how to “kill sin before it kills you.” In one section, he speaks of “awakening sin to kill it.” At first glance, this could sound as if he is saying that in order to get sin out of your system you should rouse it with lust or practice it or something along those lines. Yet clearly that is not what is meant.

Rather, by awakening sin Owen means we are to become aware of it by exposing it for what it really is. As Paul states in Romans 7:9, “I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.” When we come to a point where we see sin for the awful thing it is, it makes us die or, in other words, repulses us to the point we want to be rid of the sin.  So how do we bring sin to life so we can put it to death in Christ?  What tool do we use?  As Paul tells us here, we use the law.  The fullness of the law in its precepts, testimonies, and judgments helps us to awaken sin to kill […]

Follow Up from “With Love, Your Single Daughter”

The following post is another article written by Rachel Dinkledine, who wrote a popular post a few weeks ago called With Love, Your Single Daughter. Rachel works as a registered nurse in the Indianapolis area.

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Dear Reader,

Many of you have liked and shared the article I wrote a few weeks ago.  Some of you have thanked me for being vulnerable enough to share an open letter to my parents.  Others have questioned the wisdom of a mid-20-something grieving the loss of her ability to give her parents grandchildren.  I appreciate your thoughts, but the letter wasn’t really about my parents or me.

This fictional letter was based on the experiences of older single women who have shared their stories with me.  In a way, the letter is about the woman who sits in front of you at church.  However, it’s really about you.  Could someone thank you for helping them live out God-honoring singleness?

The letter’s subliminal message is this: Regardless of your age or marital status, you need a biblical theology of singleness.

So I ask–how is your theology of singleness doing?  What would you say if someone asked you: What is the meaning of Christian singleness?  If marriage tells the […]

Can Capitalist Pigs be Pious Christians?

This is a guest post by J.K. Wall who is a writer and former business reporter in Indianapolis. His modernized abridgment of William Symington’s work, Messiah the Prince Revisited, was published in 2014 by Crown & Covenant Publications. You can e-mail him at jk.wall@gmail.com.

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The world of business has a bad name because most people—including those running businesses—don’t know why they exist.

In a 2011 survey by Rasmussen Reports, 64 percent of Americans thought the primary objective of businesses should be to create jobs while 26 percent thought that business’ primary objective should be to create profits for shareholders.

Both those answers are wrong.

“There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer,” wrote Peter Drucker, the famous business professor and consultant, in his 1973 book Management. “It is the customer who determines what a business is,” he added. “The customer is the foundation of a business and keeps it in existence.”

How does a business create customers? By providing for their needs. If they are hungry, businesses feed them. If they need clothes, businesses clothe them. If they need shelter, businesses provide them a house or a hotel room. If they are sick, businesses provide medicines to heal […]

Male Models

No, not the kind that appear on the cover of GQ. 

In this day of gender confusion, political correctness, and spineless faith, we need male models. Men who exemplify true masculinity. Here I speak not of the overblown sort of a powerful sports figure or movie icon, but the strong, steady walk of a man who fears God, loves his family, and serves Christ’s church. We need to be able to point to them and tell the young men around us, “That’s what being a man is all about.”

Men like Herb, who for nearly three decades has been faithfully teaching junior high students, as he enjoys working with the young people under his charge. When he’s not teaching, during the summers this father of two daughters and five sons has had them up on ladders re-roofing and painting homes so his children could learn the value of work and obtaining useful skills. He also has employed other young people during their times of need, including two of my sons during a summer when one was supporting a new wife and the other needed the companionship his sons provided after a recent move. He and his wife Patty have had college students live with them for […]

Browse Worthy: Being Dad

After a full summer schedule, we are enjoying family vacation before we head back into the busyness of fall. As I work this week on reconnecting with my children, these videos recently viewed provide good reminders of the importance of being Dad.

Though my children were perhaps not quite so persistent, it’s good to remember sweet scenes like this one when they were younger when you are with family.

Often Dad has to be there to save the day, as this compilation shows. Of course, many times what dads are saving their kids from is their own father’s antics, as this compilation also shows!

With all of the Olympic moments of glory witnessed these past few weeks, this emotional scene provided by Derek Redmond and his father from the 1992 games remind dads of the importance of being there during painful times.

The son below has a father suffering from Alzheimer’s, yet when the father sings it is like he is back for a few minutes. Watching the son’s joy as his dad croons gives me hope. Perhaps one day my children, who are pretty regularly asking me NOT to sing around the house, will change their ways (though my kids would quickly add that at […]

With Love, Your Single Daughter

The following post is a guest article written by Rachel Dinkledine, a young woman I have had the pleasure of watching grow up since the day I took her brothers to see her at the hospital the day she was born. Rachel works as a registered nurse in the Indianapolis area.

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There are more than enough “Why Singles are Marginalized in the Church” articles floating around cyberspace.  My aim is not to add to their number.  By God’s grace, there are also many pastoral and theologically-sound resources on singleness.  My aim is not to improve upon these (I don’t think I can!).  So what is this article all about?  

Whether you are single or married, your theology of singleness will profoundly influence the life of the church. Instead of writing a five-point essay defending this statement, I submit to you a letter, a letter inspired from the experiences of many godly single women, from 20-somethings to 70-somethings.*  While the letter is written to parents, most aspects can be profitably read as addressed to a congregation from a single sister.  May the Lord use this to propel you to develop and live out a biblical theology of singleness.  

Dear […]