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Love Brothers, Love Strangers

Let brotherly love continue.
Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers…
Hebrews 12:1-2

“You know what the key to evangelism in the 21st-century will be, don’t you?”

Recently I read an older article at Desiring God, where David Mathis told of being in a class on intensive evangelism and being asked this question by Steve Childers, director of Global Church Advancement.  Childers waited, then gave the one word answer.  “Hospitality.”  If you want a further development of Childer’s answer, read Mathis’ article entitled “Hospitality and the Great Commission.”

Childers is correct.  Repeatedly the Bible shows God using hospitality to advance the kingdom of God.  From Jesus eating with tax gatherers and sinners to Cornelius inviting people into his house to hear Peter, the Lord used homes to spread the gospel. Mathis’ post shows how thoroughly Biblical and how often commanded showing hospitality is, especially in our witness to Christ.

Next month our congregation will begin a series of evangelistic services called Stories of Hope.  Rather than only trying to encourage members to invite friends to those services, we have been urging them to pray for and then befriend more deeply those around them.  We do no want their friends only coming to hear the testimonies and gospel story preaching at the services; we want their […]

Brothers, Love Your Sisters

With so much talk of brotherly love in the Scriptures, it is sad that there are too few expressions of it witnessed in familial life. Especially in brothers loving their sisters.  Often it seems that brothers are too busy for sisters and bothered with their interests. With so many young ladies looking for attention in all the wrong places these days, you wonder how different things would be if brothers simply loved their sisters.

Yet that raises the question.  Brother, how do you love your sister?  Here are five simple encouragements.

Listen to her. As my own family of three boys and three girls grew, with the genders alternating boy-girl-boy-girl-boy-girl, each brother had a younger sister looking up to him.  I noticed every day that the younger sister wanted to talk and tell the older brother what was going on in the home, in her thoughts, in our lives.  Brother, you can learn to love your sister by putting down the ball or turning away from the screen for a few minutes, looking your sister in the eyes, and listening to what she is wanting to tell you.  Let her know that when she needs to talk to someone, you will be one person that will […]

The Christian Use of the Imprecatory Psalms

Last week an interesting article appeared on one of my favorite blogs, Reformation 21, entitled “ISIS and the Imprecatory Psalms.” Excited to see how the Psalm portions that involve praying the covenantal curses against the enemies of God would be treated, I eagerly read it.  Author Carleton Wynne, using the fullness of the revelation given to us in the New Testament, makes many good points about the historical rootedness of these prayers, wrongful applications of them, the ultimate fulfillment they will have in the final judgment, and the Christian spirit in which they should now be prayed.  The article is well worth a read.

Providentially, I just completed a teaching course on preaching, where one assignment the students had was to develop a sermon from the imprecatory Psalms.  As we discussed this article, we felt that one thought that runs through the article was a bit unsatisfying.  Though he makes some concession to praying for justice in this life, Wynne seems uncomfortable with prayers for imminent justice when he asks and answers the following question at the end.

So may we pray the imprecatory Psalms today? No, in the sense that Christians today may not pray the imprecatory Psalms with outstretched finger, identifying enemies who do them […]

GenRef Podcast: The Happy Christian by David Murray

Recently we interviewed Dr. David Murray, Professor of Old Tes­ta­ment and Prac­ti­cal The­ol­ogy at Puri­tan Reformed The­o­lo­gical Sem­i­nary, about his latest book, The Happy Christian.  Austin and I enjoyed a lively discussion with David as we talked about such topics from the book as the new “happy psychology” research, the impact of news on our emotional state, and the joy we can have in appreciating the differences of others.  I hope you will give it a listen below.

If you do listen, be sure to pay attention on how to enter our book giveaway.  One listener will receive a free copy of The Happy Christian.  Even if you do not win, you can order a book by clicking the image.

If you desire a happiness that is much truer than the latest platitude from Joel Osteen, reaches much deeper than the positive psychology offered by Gretchen Rubin, and lasts longer than a Pharrell Williams’ song, then you should read – and apply – The Happy Christian. Here is my endorsement.

While interacting with secular researchers, popular authors, and theologians both ancient and modern, in his newest book David Murray opens up the Scriptures and offers immensely practical means for cultivating the abundant life Jesus promises to his people.  […]

The Plastic Man

Growing up in the 1970’s in the Midwest, I loved watching sports on television.  NFL Football and the Chicago Cubs on WGN with announcer Jack Brickhouse were my favorites.  But I relished watching the Olympics when they came on.  During the two weeks they took place, my family would gather around the television each evening to watch.  Like many Americans, my nationalistic pride would soar as Team USA racked up the medals.

During the 1976 Summer Games, I still remember as a young teenager watching Bruce Jenner compete and win the Decathlon, the premier event of the Olympics.  The underdog against the favored Soviet Union athlete and previous Olympic champion, Nikolai Avilov, Jenner excited the nation as we rooted for this chiseled, flowing haired competitor clad in his red tank top and blue shorts.  Not only did he pull off the upset with his running, jumping, hurdling and hurtling, but he set a world record in the process.

Yet life goes on.  Though I remember afterwards seeing Jenner’s winning pose with outstretched arms on Wheaties boxes and his smiling, fresh face on the occasional sports commentary, to be honest like most of my childhood sports idols he simply disappeared from my radar screen.  Since I […]

Jesus Our Sin-Bearer

Over at The Cripplegate, in an article entitled “In what way was Jesus made sin on the cross?“, Nathan Busenitz tackled the meaning of the phrase “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf” from II Corinthians 5:21.    In what way was Jesus “made sin”?

To answer that question, he asked another, more thorough one.  “Did Jesus become the literal embodiment of sin, or take on a sin nature, or become a sinner when He died at Calvary?”

That question Busenitz answered with a resounding “No!” by developing the doctrine of imputation.  As B.B. Warfield states, there are three great acts of imputation in the history of mankind.

In the developed theology thus brought into the possession of the Church, three several acts of imputation were established and expounded. These are the imputation of Adam’s sin to his posterity; the imputation of the sins of His people to the Redeemer; the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to His people.” (Studies in Theology, “Imputation”)

It is this second act of imputation that Busenitz treated.  He laid out the case that Jesus did not in any way become a sinner on the cross or literally become sin itself, but rather we are […]

Browse Worthy: Living as a Believer

We can always use help living as faithful saints in the kingdom of God.  Here are five well-written posts to encourage you.

Live Close to the Embers – From the life of Job, Pastor Reymond gently urges us never to stray far from the altar God has provided.

Church Splits – They happen too frequently, so listen to some sound and sobering advice on responding to them by Tom Ascol over at TableTalk.

The Simple Beauty of “By God’s Grace” – A sweet little article by Tim Challies on this oft-used phrase that might just put a new perspective on your day.

How to Profit from False Prophets – In his ongoing series on Joel Osteen’s heretical work Your Best Life Now, David Murray reminds us of how God uses false teachers in ways that actually benefit the church.

The “Plus One” Approach to Church – If you are feeling disconnected from others in your congregation, let Kevin DeYoung coach you on the next step to take.

On Calling and Young People

I am at that stage of life where, one-by-one, my children have been seeking God’s will for their lives vocationally.  Also, I am now part of a congregation that is on the edge of a Christian college campus.  So I often converse with young people about their futures as they are seeking to answer the question, “What am I going to do with my life?”   I see and hear the anxiety caused by trying to answer that question.

Recently in studying and taking a course on leadership by Terry Walling, I learned helpful principles about calling. Below are five that I want to pass on to you.  If a young person sought to live these principles out faithfully, anxiety about the future could be transformed into excitement about the adventure of walking with the Lord who delights in showing you why he has placed you here on his earth.

Calling is the exciting discovery of watching for the predestined plan of the Lord to unfold.  When we speak of predestination, often we narrow it down to only the idea that God chose us for salvation in Christ Jesus.  Though we are to marvel over this precious truth, Ephesians 1 reminds us that our predestination is […]

Browse Worthy: The Best of the Best

I like to call them the “BBB” – Big, Bad Bloggers.  You know, the ones who publish regularly, frequently, and with great quality. Spending time at their sites never feels like a waste of time.  These are the ones the “bbb” – bitty, baby bloggers like us – look up to.  Here at Gentle Reformation we try to highlight the best of the best around the web a time or two each month.

Anyway, here’s some of their recent and most helpful material.

How to Offend a Room Full of Calvinists – Tim Challies picks up the old question of “How you can believe in predestination and still be committed to evangelism?” and applies it in a personal and very convicting way.

Triviality of Trivialities – Surely you have had someone you know unexpectedly start gushing about how much they like Joel Osteen, leaving you feeling like any quick response you might offer would be akin to stomping on their teddy bear? David Murray is working his way through Osteen’s Your Best Life Now, offering thoughtful responses to its teaching. With links at the bottom to this series, this is a good resource for helping others to stop drinking the Osteen Kool-Aid.

Theological Primer: Eternal Sonship – In his engaging, concise writing […]

Sin Offerings

Have you ever noticed all the commandments in the Old Testament about God not wanting sacrifices?  Consider a few examples.

 Isaiah 1:11, “What to me is the multitude of your sacrifices?” says the Lord; “I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of well-fed beasts; I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs, or of goats.”

Micah 6:6-8, “With what shall I come before the Lord, and bow myself before God on high? Shall I come before him with burnt offerings, with calves a year old?  Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, with ten thousands of rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?  He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.”

Psalm 40:6, “In sacrifice and offering you have not delighted, but you have given me an open ear.  Burnt offering and sin offering you have not required.”

Psalm 50:8-9, “Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you; your burnt offerings are continually before me.  I will not accept a bull from your house or goats from your folds.”

Psalm 51:16, […]