I have been a fan of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) for many years. I love the art of language and the skill it takes to document the ever changing and living tongue of the anglophonic people.
This week all nerdly eyes were on Oxford as they announced the word of the year. This is an annual event at which a new and influential word is chosen based on how it has come into the language. Sure, it’s not the Superbowl, but some of us get pretty excited about these things.
Did you hear what this year’s word is? Selfie.
What is a selfie you might ask? The OED defines selfie as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.”
Why is this so interesting? The selfie is not just a way of putting yourself out there for the tweeters of the world to see. The selfie is a reflection of the corporate fallen heart of mankind. Read more
The smell of turkey roasting is wafting through the church building even as I write. Preparations are being made in the kitchen so students learning English as a second language can experience a traditional Thanksgiving meal in place of regular classes this evening. Many of us will gather with families next week to give thanks to God for the bounty of another harvest season.
How do we grow in gratitude? Last week, we considered Eight Themes in Thanksgiving in the Psalms. This week, we consider Seven Themes in Thanksgiving in the New Testament: Read more
On Friday and Saturday I spent a wonderful time in Indianapolis with over 300 other believers being fed by Tim Challies and David Murray as they addressed the topic of growing as believers in the midst of the unique challenges of the modern world. The Second Reformed Presbyterian Church hosted the time well by providing a warm welcome to all, making available room for the huge layout of books by Reformation Heritage Books with tasty refreshments nearby, and offering special times of question and answer sessions with David and Tim, be it for youth around pizza or pastors around a tasty lunch. Certainly the time was a taste of the eternal fellowship we will fully enjoy one day.
As I believe it would be well worth the investment of time to listen to their messages, here are four paragraphs highlighting each one. To listen to the particular talk, just click the title’s hyperlink. Read more
As our nation reflects more on the nature of gratitude at this November, here are eight themes in thankfulness from the Psalms that guide us to a more God-glorifying gratitude:
- We give thanks for who the Lord is. We give thanks “due to his righteousness” (7:17), “to his holy name” (30:4), “for your name is near” (75:1), “for he is good” (118:1), and “to the God of gods” (136:2). Do we know God’s name and his attributes? Grateful hearts do. Read more
The Reformation was a time of rediscovery. The church, in a sense, rediscovered justification by faith alone. The reformation also rediscovered biblical worship, and this was seen as the second pillar of the protestant reformation. As the church was freed from the bondage of a fear based religion, other blessings were brought forth.
Other aspects of the reformation affected the life of the church and had profound implications on a developing Christian society. One such blessing in the rediscovery of biblical religion was the Christian home and the Christian marriage, which brings us to Psalm 128.
As a number of men have recently blogged on the plague of pornography, and offered help for protecting your family and redeeming your life from it (see Tim Challies, “The Porn-Free Family“; Eric Simmons, “I Hate Porn“; John Piper, “Pornography: The New Narcotic“), I thought I would join with these other brothers and offer another piece of arsenal in the fight. Below is a re-posting, slightly edited, of a piece I wrote a while back that employs the strategy of prophets like Isaiah who used satire to try to help people see their sin. Only as men see pornography for the false worship it is and turn to the living God will they find freedom and life.
Modern man thinks he does not worship idols, which only proves that he does. How so?
Consider for a moment the current epidemic of pornography. The pornography industry was put into check somewhat by the morality movement during the 1980′s that led a few national chains to quit carrying obscene material. Yet, with the advent of the Internet and personalized computers, pornography has returned with a vengeance. Some of the facts: Read more
Christian young people in North America who sense a long-term call to the mission field in developing countries are often ready and willing to give up most of their material possessions. They are willing to go with the clothes on their back and eat beans and rice to tell about Jesus. The problem is that the citizens of those developing nations might be eating only beans or rice. Thus, the native people often perceive that the most materially advantageous job to have is one connected with Christian ministry. Read more
Does God ever seem cruel to you as He’s portrayed on the pages of Scripture? You come across something God says, does, or commands His people to do and you cringe, thinking: “Is God really like that? Is this as bad as it seems? Is He as bad as this seems?” Certain depictions of God seem to violate the very instincts of love and justice wrought in believers by the Holy Spirit. What sense are we to make of this struggle of sentiments within us, each of which claims to represent the true and living God? Read more
Between 1859 and 1880 four presidents served the United States, but as they came and went, one emperor reigned in the United States . Lincoln, Jackson, Grant, and Hayes were all president of the United States during that time, but Emperor Norton I was Emperor of the whole United States and Protector of Mexico.
“Back East” there were significant events that were shaping the growing nation, such as the Pony Express sending mail from coast to coast. The Homestead Act opened the fly-over states resulting in a population surge (including many Covenanters) along the prairies and fields of grain. The Emancipation Proclamation freed Southern slaves and eventually the United States would work on healing herself following a war of ideologies. And who could forget the fact that the National League was founded as a cradle for Dodger’s baseball (go Blue!).
Many things were changing in the United States between 1859 and 1880, but one thing remained a constant. Emperor Norton was the self-proclaimed rightful heir of the United States and Mexico. Read more
My friend Bill VanDoodewaard at The Christian Pundit has written an excellent post entitled Art, Nakedness, and Redemption. In this article, he demonstrates quite clearly, using his extensive knowledge of history (in a manner somewhat reminiscent of Francis Schaeffer), how nudity in art has more to do with promoting the cultural ethos from which it emerges than we might think. For instance (and here I am sorry to ruin your next museum trip), have you ever thought that those exquisitely carved Greek statues of naked men may have more to do with that society’s homoerotic promotion than, say, with the beauty of the human body (which will be what your guide will tell you)?
This post helps connect the dots between the immorality we see in art and the immorality that we see in the culture and especially the church. The bad fruit of rampant pornography, fornication, and divorce in the modern church has much of its roots in the arts. Before you read anymore of this post, you should first read his.
Bill then concludes his post by bringing Scriptural light to bear on how Christians should not fall for the line that “mature adults” can view certain pieces of pornographic art. Instead, we should acquire the maturity of wisdom that longs for modesty in the art we enjoy.
Reading this stirred up within me concerns I have long had in a related area. Not only is the evangelical church facing cultural pressures from without in the area of immorality, but also from within. I believe some of the church’s more well-known leaders are fostering such by their disproportionate teaching on sex and their own lack of discretion. Read more
The prophets repeatedly used the metaphor of drunkenness in describing godless leaders of nations abusing power. Examples abound. Here are just a few.
In Isaiah 19:13-14, the prophet said of Pharaoh and his counselors:
The princes of Zoan have become fools, and the princes of Memphis are deluded; those who are the cornerstones of her tribes have made Egypt stagger. The Lord has mingled within her a spirit of confusion, and they will make Egypt stagger in all its deeds, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit.
Jeremiah had this to say to the political and religious leaders of Jerusalem:
Then you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord: Behold, I will fill with drunkenness all the inhabitants of this land: the kings who sit on David’s throne, the priests, the prophets, and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem’ (Jeremiah 13:13).
This prophetical language was not limited to the Old Testament. The apostle John said of the kings throughout the Roman Empire:
The kings of the earth have committed sexual immorality, and with the wine of whose sexual immorality the dwellers on earth have become drunk (Revelation 17:2). Read more
It is not uncommon to hear Christians say something like “Maybe persecution would be good for the church in our culture.” Certainly, the church of Jesus Christ in the West has too-often strayed from Biblical truth in recent decades and centuries, in spite of enjoying great peace and freedom. Now, we see the judgment of God in our culture in various ways as a result. Some people are bracing for intense persecution of the church as a presumed certainty. Would it be good for the church today? God alone knows, and he will accomplish all his holy purpose.
A better question for us to ask is “What kind of attitude should we have towards persecution and the future of the church in the West?” Some Christians almost seem to have a “bring it on!” attitude because of the purification that has come in past ages through such suffering. The motive is not all wrong; people want to see Jesus glorified, and they are willing to die for it. There is also a desire for purity and holiness. However, those desires must be shaped by the pure and holy word of God. So, what kind of attitude should we have toward persecution and the future of the church in the West? Here are five truths that will help shape our attitude: Read more
When it comes to sin, one ploy that our non-glorified consciences use is to minimize it. Even if we are not Roman Catholic and standardize the practice by referring to venial and mortal sins in our theology, in our daily living we can have a practical theology that utilizes categories such as these. Certain acts we like to excuse by downplaying them.
Jerry Bridges addressed this tendency in his book Respectable Sins, where he shows how certain sins such as anger, worldliness, or lack of self-control are tolerated because, for one, they are not seen as that serious. They can be viewed as “little s” sins.
We do not downplay these sins when we see them in others. Oh, no. We are great splinter finders but horrible log identifiers. One has said that we look at others’ sins through a telescope to magnify them, and look at our own sins through the telescope backwards to minimize them.
One means of engaging in wholehearted sanctification is to understand that so-called little sins can be the deadliest of all. A little lie, a little theft, a little glance – just a little selfishness can result in ruined lives. The Bible teaches us this in the grave simplicity (pun intended) of Adam’s fall. One bite brought death’s blight on us all.
If you need some real life examples of this truth, watch the following video called “From One Second to the Next” (HT: David Murray). These heart-wrenching stories about people who were texting while driving should not only cause us to give up even the thought of so doing. Seeing this pain should also sensitize us to how deadly any sin is, and remind us to daily seek the cleansing mercies of Christ to present every member of our body to Him for righteousness.
The Supreme Court & DOMA – In light of the recent Supreme Court ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act, Rosaria Butterfield gives her unique albeit Biblical perspective on how we should view this decision and those in opposition. How often the gospel calls us back to examine our own hearts rather than rushing to judge others.
Protesting at Abortion Centers – R.C. Sproul Jr. offers both encouragements toward and cautions about protesting outside the slaughterhouses where the unborn are put to death (HT: David Murray).
Zealot Review – In this book attacking Christ, Pastor John Dickerson reveals what few in the media fawning over this work tell, which is that the author is a Muslim and he is employing the traditional apologetic used by Islam against Christianity. Though I do not agree with him when he says, “In many ways, this conflict is larger than Christianity and Islam. It is a conflict of Western and Middle Eastern foundations,” his other insights are helpful. Marvin Olasky adds further thoughts about the media’s treatment as well.
Tortured in Sinai – This article contains interviews with Christians who have been abducted in Eritrea and trafficked as slaves in Sinai by Islamists. Reading or watching the interviews is not for the faint of heart, but it alerts you to the awful reality of human trafficking and persecution of those who profess Christ. It even moved me to do something I rarely do – sign a petition.
Christians in the Military - WORLD magazine highlights some of the courageous believers in the US military who are waging gospel battles as more of their religious freedoms are being threatened.
I stumbled upon a gem of a lecture. It’s by Dr. Megan Best. The title: New Directions in Assisted Reproduction: How Did We End Up Here?
In the span of an hour, Dr. Best surveys the current landscape of assisted reproduction (think IVF and the like) in a highly informative and crystal clear way. As an expert in the field, she is able to unpack the procedures and ethics involved with wisdom and insight.
Pastors should certainly acquaint themselves with the material, as it is becoming more commonplace for infertile Christian couples to consider the various medical options available to them. There is much to be aware of in the field, not to mention, leery.
She has written a book on the subject, one which D.A. Carson has said “is now the ‘must read’ book in the field.” That’s an impressive statement. It has certainly piqued my interest. The work is entitled “Fearfully and Wonderfully Made.” I plan on grabbing a copy.