Of Kryptonite, Kool-Aid and Windex: Concluding a Series on the Practical Pursuit of Holiness

As much as our hearts crave the completion of God’s sanctifying work within us, the prospect of stepping forward in newness of life can be daunting. We might fear that we will be stepping away from sacred pieces of identity, attitudes and affections which distinguish us from others and which keep us objective in our outlook on life. The reality is, however, that progress in sanctification is the progressive revealing of our truest selves; it is the unleashing, not the strangulation, of our hearts.  We considered this at length in a prior entry:   The New You.  We’ll begin this final entry in a series on sanctification –  one, two and  three – by exposing this fear as a strong impediment to that progress, especially as we hide it beneath the guise of a realism regarding our potential progress in holiness.

Sometimes, the limits we place on the possibilities of realized holiness in this life only reveal the limits of our willingness to pursue them.  Sanctification is hard work, though it is indeed the work of God in and through us which accomplishes it (Philippians 2:12-13).  It is far easier to be content to enjoy freedom from the law’s condemnation, than to […]


Some Curious Admissions From Sam Harris

While hanging out with the guys over at Very Bad Wizards, an atheistic podcast that discusses morality, philosophy and culture, Sam Harris made some fascinating comments…shall I say concessions?

As one of the leading atheists of our day, Sam Harris isn’t shy about sharing his feelings about God. Not surprisingly, he spends a fair bit of time attacking the judgments of God, calling God a moral monster and the like. One need only listen to his debate with William Lane Craig on morality. Just go the 54 minute mark to get a taste.

Now what is fascinating to me is how, on the one hand, Sam Harris can decry the judgments of God with resolute certainty, but then turn around and express caveats and nuances that directly undermine those same condemnations.

What do I mean?

Let me provide a number of quotes from episode 63 of Very Bad Wizards to illustrate the matter. Each will serve as a kind of tent peg grounding an overall point.(1)

Tent Peg #1, It all Comes Down to Consequences

• 1:21:00ish, Tamler: “This is what makes me so suspicious. There is always some reason why the thing that is your intuition ends up working for the best consequences. […]


Real-Life Narnia

“The stories of Narnia seem childish to some. But to others, they are utterly transformative. For the latter group, these evocative stories affirm that it is possible for the weak and foolish to have a noble calling in a dark world; that our deepest intuition will point us to the true meaning of things; that there is indeed something beautiful and wonderful at the heart of the universe, and that this must be found, embraced, and adored….(Lewis) borrowed and scripted (a story) that he already knew well, and had found to be true and trustworthy – the Christian narrative of Creation, Fall, redemption, and final consummation… the Narnia stories allow us to step inside and experience the Christian story” (Alister McGrath 2013)

Have you ever wished you could be transported to Narnia? Or at least be transformed by it as you step inside and experience the Christian story – and then see that worked out in real life? Well, it is happening in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Greg Enas and Don Palmer are calling Christian brothers at a common stage in life to do the same through an invigorating group named Narnia Indiana. Narnia gathers men from around the city who are mostly in […]


Sharing in the Sufferings of Christ

Of all the doctrines expounded on the Lord’s Day, our sharing in the sufferings of Christ is perhaps one of the most neglected topics. This isn’t to say that the subject of suffering isn’t discussed or preached. Quite the contrary. Suffering, generally considered, is given ample attention. Where there is sickness, there one will hear the subject of suffering discussed at great length. But how often does someone ask: What are the sufferings of Christ, and how do I share in them? Or when was the last time the following was overheard, “I’m sharing in the sufferings of Christ”? Someone might describe themselves as a child of Abraham, or a true Jew, or an ambassador of Christ, or talk about being Spirit filled, or even crucified with Christ, but how often does the biblical concept of “sharing in the sufferings of Christ” directly flavor the everyday speech of saints? It is rarely heard.

But for the apostle Paul, our union with Christ, and by extension, our sharing in His sufferings, greatly informed his outlook and expectations. He could scarcely write a letter without touching upon the subject of suffering, and at several key junctures, he spoke freely and pointedly about sharing […]


A Garden Afar

Over vales and fields,

lies a garden afar.

The beauty of its three flowers

call to me.

So I travel winding road 

for a day to gaze upon,

to joy in,

and to learn from them.

~~~~~

The first, a bright crocus, 

puts springtime delight 

in a heart shivering over 

her wintry surroundings.

As I bow to smell 

her playful fragrance,

and feel chubby, little petals against my cheek,

I wonder how one so small

- and too far away -

can put such great love

in a grandfather’s heart?

~~~~~

My next flower is a bold tulip -

how colorful, grace-filled, and statuesque she stands!

The snows melt away

before her charming aroma,

her radiant joy,

and the musical glory of springtime

she sends forth heavenward.

The father longs for the times

his tulip was in garden near;

yet gives thanks that Another

cares for her so well.

~~~~~

The last flower, a fading red rose,

has drooping head

and slowly dropping petals.

The cruel winter

has been so […]


G.K. Chesterton Weekend Edition

“But the new rebel is a skeptic, and will not entirely trust anything. He has no loyalty; therefore he can never be really a revolutionist. And the fact that he doubts everything really gets in his way when he wants to denounce anything. For all denunciation implies a moral doctrine of some kind; and the modern revolutionist doubts not only the institution he denounces, but the doctrine by which he denounces it. Thus he writes one book complaining that imperial oppression insults the purity of women, and then he writes another book (about the sex problem) in which he insults it himself. He curses the Sultan because Christian girls lose their virginity, and then curses Mrs. Grundy because they keep it. As a politician, he will cry out that war is a waste of life, and then, as a philosopher, that all life is a waste of time. A Russian pessimist will denounce a policeman for killing a peasant, and then prove by the higher philosophical principles that the peasant ought to have killed himself. A man denounces marriage as a lie, and then denounces aristocratic profligates for treating it as a lie. He calls a flag a bauble, and […]


Look! Look! Look!

I live in a diverse place. My neighborhood is made up of a number of Asian and Latino people groups, along with, like my family, those of European descent. A couple of blocks from my home is the largest concentration of Armenians outside of Armenia. There are so many Armenians living around me that one time my seven year-old son asked me if Armenian was the second most widely used language in the world.

We enjoy the diversity of culture that we get to experience from day to day. A number of months ago we were in a neighborhood not far ours where a sign read, “Korean Culture Days: Brought to you with help by the Armenian and Latino communities.” 


The Quest for the Historical Adam

Our friend, Dr. William VanDoodewaard of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and The Christian Pundit, has just published a work entitled The Quest for the Historical Adam.  In this day of increasing attacks on the Bible’s authority, Adam is now portrayed as a mythological figure even by those calling themselves evangelicals. Bill has done meticulous historical and theological research that validates the orthodox teaching regarding Adam and explains why anyone believing in the gospel of Jesus Christ must also believe in the reality of Adam.

Listen to Bill’s further explanation for the book in the video below, and then read Al Mohler’s forward that follows.  To pre-order the book at a discounted rate, go here.

Al Mohler’s Forward

Each generation of Christians faces its own set of theological challenges. For this generation of evangelicals, the question of beginnings is taking on a new urgency. In fact, this question is now a matter of gospel urgency. How are we to understand the Bible’s story if we can have no confidence that we know how it even begins?

In terms of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the most urgent question related to beginnings has to do with the existence of Adam and Eve as the first parents to all humanity and […]


Parent Worship Day

Does your God have the power to rise up himself, or do you have to put him in a high place?

Ten days ago, several of us from our local church zig-zagged through the local international marketplace here in Indianapolis to hang posters and distribute flyers for our English as a Second Language program. Within a few hours we had interacted with people from some fifteen different countries as we made our way to a few dozen restaurants, markets, tire shops, and hair-braiding salons.

On the community board in the Indian plaza, a poster (pictured above) caught my eye with the title “Parent’s Worship Day.” A Hindu activist group has begun promoting Parent Worship Day as an alternative to Valentine’s Day. Next to the poster was a sheet with an eleven-step guide to worshiping your parents. Step number one was: “Make parents sit on a clean and high seat.”

Unsurprisingly, the remaining steps involved forehead markings, garlands of flowers, lamps, incense, circling the parents, bowing to them, recognizing their divinity as the givers of life, and vowing to serve them. Of course, nothing was said of sin, or guilt, or death. No solution was proposed for them. No hope was given that parents […]


Killing Sin, Simply Put

Be killing sin or it will be killing you. -John Owen

For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. -Romans 8:13

I was rebuked yesterday, reminded that the repetition of Christian-sounding phrases doesn’t always communicate exactly what I think they do. In meeting with someone for counseling, I encouraged them to “kill your sin!” only to be met with questions and misunderstanding. You see, it turns out that just saying “kill your sin” doesn’t actually tell anyone what that means. It’s not as if sin is a physical thing that can be taken outside and shoved off a cliff. So what does it mean to kill sin?

Simply put…