Archive by Author

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, […]

The Inevitable End of Abortion as We Know It

Though it is difficult even to report or give a link to it, last week a mother in New Jersey set her newborn child on fire and left her in the middle of a road.  A neighbor who witnessed it rightly called it a “nightmare.”  Those who are reporting on it are calling it “disturbing” and “shaking the community.”  Residents have begun to assemble a makeshift memorial to the baby girl.

Sadly, so few see that this very scene is happening 4000 times a day in communities all across our land.  Mothers, with either the support of or acting out of the neglect from the fathers, are burning or cutting their little boys and girls to death.  Yet because it happens in the womb instead of a few minutes after birth, far too many people in our land do not recognize the nightmare all around us.

So it is vital as we enter this week of the forty-second anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision that we continue to erect a memorial to this tragedy so that this disturbing practice will be brought to an end.  I believe that one day it inevitably will be.

A number of years ago, I heard Dr. Rich […]

Browse Worthy: Clear Thinking on Recent Islamic Activities

From the Charlie Hebdo attack to Duke University now sounding forth the azan, an Islamic call to prayer, on Fridays, we are being confronted more and more with the need to think clearly about the Muslim world.  Here are some helps.

Theological Extremism in a Secular Age – In this post, Al Mohler shows through the American press’ coverage and editorials on the attack in Paris how unprepared the Western world is to deal with the worldview promoted by Islam. Though I have a point of disagreement about his teaching on a Christian view of blasphemy of the Triune God, this article helps clear the fogginess.

No, We Are Not Charlie Hebdo – Rod Dreher at The American Conservative explains why we should stop and think before we start chanting with the mob.

Who are Nigeria’s Boko Haram Islamists? – The BBC has this in-depth report about this cultic group that is destroying and murdering Christians in Nigeria.  Here also is satellite imagery of the most recent devastation.  One could ask why the American media does not cover this greater atrocity with the same fervor it has the Charlie Hebdo attack, but to raise it is to answer it.

End the Muslim Prayer Call at Duke University – One has to admire Franklin […]

The Trinity Hymnbook (Part 3)

In the first post in this three part series, we looked at how the Psalms, authored by our Triune God, contain many references and allusions to the Trinity. In the Psalms, often we are reading and singing of the Father, Son, and Spirit without perhaps the awareness we should have.

With the second installment, we saw how these songs were prepared especially for Jesus Christ by the Father to guide and comfort him in his atoning ministry as our Mediator.  Then, as we live in union with Christ, the Psalms lead us, as David Murray says in his work Jesus on Every Page, to sing of, in, and with Jesus.

In this final segment, we’ll consider seven of the ways the seven-fold Spirit of God is found in the Psalter.

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The Spirit’s authorship is apparent.

We know that all of Scripture is “inspired by God” (II Timothy 3:16) or, as is closer to the original meaning, “God-breathed.” The Bible contains the breathed-out words of God through his Spirit.  In all of Scripture men were moved by the Holy Spirit to give us the very thoughts of God (II Peter 1:20-21).

As one of the thirty-nine Old Testament books, clearly the Psalms […]

A Gentle Reminder

Often in conversations, when someone hears that our blog is named Gentle Reformation, I get a funny look and/or a “Huh, that’s interesting.” Follow-up comments then usually go down two well-worn paths.

Many express that they do not think of the words “gentle” and “reformed” going together, as their experience of Calvinists – or at least their impressions of them – are of the hard-nosed, nostril-flaring, looking-down-the-nose types. Especially on the internet, they have run across anything but gentleness when it comes to discussions of reformed theology.

Others – always guys and often the type the first group have run across – basically think the name is wimpy, even girly.  A good number of the young, restless, and reformed types often combine their Calvinism with strong doses of machismo.  The image they want is that of a husky, bearded man wearing a “I’m a John Knox Homeboy” T-shirt with a beer in one hand, a cigar in the other, and a pistol strapped to his side.  Gentle to them is just plain embarrassing.

So perhaps it would be helpful to give a reminder of why we chose this name and, along with it, a few updates.

Gentleness is to be a quality of Christians and their leaders.  In […]

365 Gifts

No, that’s not the total number of gifts in the “Twelve Days of Christmas” song (actual answer is 364).  Rather, that of course is the number of days in this new year.

Having a reminder of this simple fact is not a trite matter.  You are commanded to number your days in order to appreciate them and walk wisely in them (Psalm 90:12).  Indeed, this entire psalm reminds us of how fleeting life is, which makes this task all the more important.

Recently I read that the Information Age has not created more time with all of its speed, but has resulted instead in the “compression of time.”  Rather than having more time because of all our time-saving devices, we have less time to respond between events.  Whereas before this age you might take a day or two to call someone back or a week or more to respond to a letter you received, all the incredible ways to communicate today create a constant pressure on you to respond.

Imagine for a moment each method of communication having a leash – a text leash, a FaceBook leash, an email leash, etc.  No wonder you feel like you are being tugged on all the time!

The pastoral […]

Calling

For a variety of reasons, most notably of which is a class that I am taking on leadership, I have been reflecting on calling.  God calls his people to special areas of service, and he has impressed five lessons on me lately about calling.

Every believer has a calling.  Clearly Luther made this point in the Reformation teaching of the priesthood of all believers, but it is one that often gets lost in the church.  The temptation is to believe that only “special” people, be it a wildly successful entrepreneur,  a highly talented entertainer, or a self-sacrificing missionary, are called.  Yet clearly every person whom God has created, redeemed, and gifted to one degree or another has a calling.  The church is to be a place where the members of the body of Christ help identify, encourage, and celebrate the unique calling of each of its members, however insignificant any person may appear to the world.

We are called along the lines of our giftedness.  One wonderful book on this subject is The Call.  Written by the prolific author Os Guiness, he offers vital insight for discovering one’s God-ordained purpose for being placed upon the earth.  One chief way Guiness directs his readers, punctuating […]

Alle Meine Quellen Sind in Dir

This woodcarving hangs above the hallway in our home.  Quite often, guests inquire about what it means.  Rather than directly translate, I tell them the painful but sweet short story behind it.

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My wife’s maternal great-grandparents, the Hellings, lived in Germany.  Opa Helling was a baker there.  After having new mechanized equipment installed in the bakery, presumably an automated dough mixing machine, he called for his wife to come in to watch the new process.

As the machinery began, his wife bent over to get a closer look.  As she did, her long hair fell down into the gears. Before anything could be done, horribly the machine pulled a large section of her scalp away. One can only imagine the horror of the joy and pride of that moment turning so quickly to pain and suffering.

Making matters worse, Oma Helling was a diabetic. Her wound never healed. For the rest of her life, she had a metal plate that covered the wound.  In a family picture we have of her, she reminds us so much of Miriam’s grandmother and mom. She is looking down as she busily works with her […]

Browse Worthy: Engaging the Culture

I commend these posts with their resources that help us think Biblically and proactively about the cultural events roiling around us.

A Time to Speak – In an effort to promote “God’s multiethnic vision for the church,” The Gospel Coalition sponsored a streamed discussion the other day on the racial tensions in our land.  This post shows you the helpful resources and ongoing dialogue they are offering.

George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, You, and Me – As the Sony hackers put online not only movies but private records and correspondences,  Tim Challies offers these sobering thoughts for you to consider.

Moses without the Supernatural – Ridley Scott’s “Exodus:Gods and Kings” – With his typical insightful analysis, Al Mohler reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly about the new Exodus movie.