Why We Sing

Of all the things we do in worship, singing is the most mysterious to me. That’s probably not a great statement about my theology, but it’s accurate. I understand the why of our singing less than the other elements of worship. Why do we sing? Why not just recite Scripture out loud? Or why do we sing together? Why not just let one person sing (this tempts me sometimes…)? 



Evangelistic Preaching

In conversations I have had recently with both seasoned ministers and young men preparing for pastoral ministry, the subject of what constitutes evangelistic preaching has been discussed. As we wonder why we do not see more conversions in Reformed churches, generally speaking, certainly one simple reason is that we do not preach for them. Are there not times where a preacher should preach not only an edifying gospel-centered sermon, delivered faithfully in his weekly Lord’s Day preaching, but an evangelizing one, whether in the church for special seasons and services or outside the church along the highways and the hedges (Luke 14:23)? If so, what would such a sermon look and sound like?

Below are thirteen characteristics, briefly explained, which help distinguish an evangelistic sermon from what we might call an edification sermon. These qualities should not be understood as mutually exclusive, but rather as weighted tendencies or features.

An evangelistic sermon is aimed primarily at unbelievers; an edification sermon is aimed primarily at Christians. An obvious quality perhaps, yet this question is worth asking. When is the last time you preached or heard such a sermon? We may rightly scoff at the excesses of the widespread Arminian, revivalistic preaching of our day. Certainly I […]


Jesus’ Tears – No. 1

There is something deeply moving about tears. We see someone weeping and it can have quite an effect on us. The stronger the person who weeps the more powerful the effect is upon us. We are more affected by seeing a man weeping than a child. When the man is a strong emotionally stable man, with tears running down his face, it speaks volumes to us.

On three occasions we are told of Christ weeping. This is not just at a great man weeping, that would be touching enough, but this is the Son of God weeping.

Tears are a window on the soul; they allow us to see what really matters to a person. And it is no different with Jesus.

In John 11:35 we come to the first instance of Jesus’ tears. His close friend Lazarus has just died and Jesus has gone to see Lazarus’ sisters.

‘When Jesus saw Mary weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.
“Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
Jesus wept.
Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”’
(John 11:33-36)

The question we need answered is: “Why is Jesus […]


Of Burner Phones and Busy Lives: Making the Best Use of Time

A couple of weeks ago I walked into a cell phone store and said,  “I would like to trade in my iPhone 6 for a dumb phone.” Puzzled, the clerk asked why I would do such a thing. I told him I longed for the simplicity of the 2000s. The look of puzzlement continued as I described why I only wanted talk and text: I am tired of the media access on my phone. It’s a time vacuum.

He consulted with another employee and then informed me that they no longer sold dumb phones and said I would have to buy a “burner phone” to avoid media. I could try CVS or Target. All phone plans now carry a media charge; it cannot be avoided.

I went home disappointed, but as a small victory in the media-fatigue battle I deleted my Facebook app. I love you all, but you don’t need to join me on coffee dates with my wife and you don’t need to accompany me to the park with my children. I don’t need to see your vacation pics while I’m waiting for the light to change. There are better ways for me to use my time.

The Apostle Paul, writing to the church in Ephesus, gives a […]


Browse Worthy: Help for Living in this Digital Age

From the “Twitter Wars” between presidential candidates down to trying to talk with a family member looking at a screen, we all need help in processing the content, protecting our families, and being productive in this digital age. Here are a few links and resources to that end.

Can I Ask a Dumb Question?

Tim Challies offers wise counsel about not joining the latest Twitter mob when people are merely being dumb rather than malicious on social media. “Social media shaming is a new force for justice, a means of shaming an offender into silence or repentance…The problem is that the response we bring against the worst malevolence can also be the response we bring against those who say or do things that are merely dumb. We can mete out the same punishment as a response to two very different offenses.”

WTAE Fires Wendy Bell

As if to make Tim’s point above, an award-winning local journalist here in Pittsburgh created a firestorm over comments she made about African Americans following the horrific shootings that left six people dead. Though certainly dumb and insensitive at points, Bell did seem to be awkwardly trying to address a real problem and did apologize for her comments. However, it […]


A Brief Reflection on Apologetics and Epistemology

(This is a follow-up to my post which can be found here)

When confronted with evidence supporting the notion of intelligent design, as demonstrated through the finely-tuned nature of the universe, atheist, Peter Millican, appealed chiefly to two different lines of thinking in order to escape the force of the argument: The possibility of a multiverse and the discovery of a new theory or law of nature that would resolve the tension through a more naturalistic explanation.

Allow me to bullet some thoughts:


Sowing Gospel Seeds

Why do many Christians struggle to share their faith with others?

I believe one answer to that is that they feel unqualified. They believe that they have to have a perfect presentation or be well-trained before they are able to do so. I especially believe that we who are in the Reformed camp have made sharing Christ more complicated than it need be.

Think for a moment of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4. She clearly was not well-versed in Scripture. Her education would have been minimal. Her lifestyle up to this time was grossly an immoral one. Yet she was used to lead a whole village out to Christ (John 4:30) and many believed in him (John 4:39, 41).

Her “method”? She gave a simple testimony of Jesus’ prophetic insights and wondered aloud if he was the Christ.

Similarly, I would like to encourage you to think of sharing the gospel as simply sowing seeds. Of course, Jesus spoke of the kingdom of heaven in this way, as of a sower going out and sowing seeds in many places (Matthew 13:1-9). We are told the seed represents the word of the kingdom (Mt. 13:18-19). As a seed is a small object, we need to remember that […]


How Do I Know What God’s Will Is?

I’ve heard it and you’ve heard it, I’ve used it, and you’ve used it: “I think it’s the will of God that I do such and such.” Who should I marry? What should I study? When should I do this? Where should I work? Why has this happened? But the question behind those questions is: how do I go about discerning God’s will? And, I might add, that’s the question that must be answered before we go any further. If we don’t know how God reveals his will to us it will do little good to ask those particular questions.

A bit anecdotally, I remember beginning my college career at a small Christian liberal arts university in Minnesota. Of course, the whole environment of the university was aimed at trying to get young men and women to find their future spouse during their college years. The conspiracy theory was that this would give a good return to the school because regardless of what the academic experience was–or how much it cost–tales of lore would be told that this was the place where two people fell in love. And it wasn’t uncommon, for instance, for a young man to approach a potential […]


Answering Jihad

Every time another Islamic terrorist blows up something or someone, political and media leaders speculate as to the root causes of jihad. What possesses people to sacrifice themselves for the sake of killing others? Former Muslim, Nabeel Qureshi, whose 2014 autobiography Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus: A Devout Muslim Encounters Christianity describes his journey from committed apologist for Islam to born again Christian, has written helpfully this week in USA Today about the root causes of the radicalization of young Muslims.