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.


Blind Expectations

Last month, NPR’s This American Life published an episode entitled “Batman.” In this case Batman was not the caped crusader of Gotham, but Daniel Kish, a blind man who learned very early in life how to find his way through the world using echolocation (like a bat…get it?), even to the point of being able to ride a bicycle. Through the hour-long show, the interviewers and participants give extraordinary insight into what it’s like to be blind in America – especially how low expectations (often based in fear) may hinder young blind people from experiencing the world more fully. The priority is usually to protect blind people from physical harm; whereas if they were set loose and pushed they may very well be able to develop skills like the Batman’s. So much so that some neuroscientists believe blind people who learn to echolocate (by repeatedly making clicking noises with their mouth and listening to how the sound changes) develop something that is very close to actual sight. They cannot see colors or read, but their brain’s visual cortex is operating at a level similar to the rest of ours when we use our peripheral vision.

The first thing that amazed me is simply […]


How Might the Faith Chapter Read if it Were Written Today?

What if the faith chapter (Hebrews 11) was written today? How might it read?

This thought struck me the other day. Whether Moses or Abraham or Rahab, these saints trusted in God, looking beyond their present circumstances to the One in control of their circumstances. By faith they looked to God, knowing His word and promises. As the opening verse of the faith chapter says,

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

So how might we be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see? What might that faith look like? Here are a few that come to mind.

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By faith missionary saints did not consider Muslim lands to be impenetrable, but believed in Him who is able to penetrate the hardest and most hostile of hearts. They said with Paul that they were willing to endure all things for the sake of the elect. And so believing, they went.

By faith the stay-at-home saint looked beyond the midnight feedings and messy diapers to the future, trusting that the Lord would use her to raise godly offspring. She […]


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 […]


Christ Gives Peace

From Jonathan Edwards in a sermon on John 14:27 – preached August 1750:

Christ gives peace to the most sinful and miserable that come to him. He heals the broken in heart and bindeth up their wounds. But it is impossible that they should have peace, while they continue in their sins, Isaiah 57:19-21. There is no peace between God and them. For as they have the guilt of sin remaining in their souls, and are under its dominion, so God’s indignation continually burns against them, and therefore there is reason why they should travail in pain all their days.…

I invite you now to a better portion. There are better things provided for the sinful miserable children of men. There is a surer comfort and more durable peace: comfort that you may enjoy in a state of safety, and on a sure foundation: a peace and rest that you may enjoy with reason, and with your eyes open. You may have all your sins forgiven, your greatest and most aggravated transgressions blotted out as a cloud, and buried as in the depths of the sea, that they may never be found more. And being not only forgiven, but accepted to favor, […]


What Has Love Got to Do With It?

When John writes, ‘Beloved, let us love one another’, what does he mean, and does it matter?  Is it not a bit liberal to be writing about love on a Reformation blog post.  Surely we are about ‘Doctrine, Truth, Discipline, Stewardship etc.’   Well, yes we are, but God says, if we don’t get what love is and do it, we are sunk, regardless of how outwardly correct we may appear to be.

What does John mean when he says, ‘Let us love one another?’   Well we need to begin with a definition of love?  We can’t take the Humpty Dumpty route who, when having a discussion with Alice about the meaning of words says, “when I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean, nothing more or nothing less.”  Love can’t be a word that we use and abuse dependent on what we want it to mean, or who we want it to influence or effect.

So what does ‘love’ mean?  Well there is a very simple and clear definition of ‘love’.  It is found in the root source of ‘love’.  Trace ‘love’ to its source, and there you will find God, for God is love.  ‘Love’ is neither an attribute […]


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 […]


The Battle of the Psalter

Have you ever heard of the The Battle of the Psalter? Perhaps our generation has been so busy waging the so-called “worship wars” that we have often forgotten our history. Take a moment to enjoy the story of Columba and The Battle of the Psalter:

Columba (c. 521-597 A.D.), known as the “apostle of Scotland,” was born of royalty in Ireland in the generations following Patrick (c. 390-461 A.D.). Most of what is known of Columba has been passed down in Adamnan’s Life of Saint Columba and Bede’s Ecclesiastical History. These histories are full of legend – a mix of truth and error. Some modern historians question whether Columba’s missionary significance has been overrated simply because he had biographers while many of his contemporaries did not. In spite of our uncertainty of the truth of all the details, the story of Columba and the Battle of the Psalter is worth retelling.

He was raised in Ireland until he went to Scotland in 563. Legend has it that when Columba was a child, Cruithnechan, the man who had baptized him, was called on to recite Psalm 101 at a public festival. The boy Columba barely knew his alphabet, but when the old man’s voice faltered, […]


The Guilt (or Innocence?) of Adnan Syed – Serial Podcast

The murder of Hae Min Lee, a popular senior at a Baltimore high-school in 1999, has captured the attention of many Americans. This is due in large part to a well-produced and masterfully presented piece of journalism channeled through the medium of podcasting.  The podcast is called Serial. Over the course of 12 episodes, Sarah Koenig, the host of the show, slowly unpacks the story of Hae Min Lee and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, the man charged and sentenced with her murder.

Millions have already downloaded the podcast, and thousands continue to discuss the details with fevered interest in online forums, asking whether or not Adnan Syed is truly guilty.

After first hearing about the podcast through Hello Internet, another excellent podcast, I quickly downloaded the series. I was instantly hooked. I listened to all 12 episodes over the course of a day and a half, hitting the play button whenever I could.

I don’t want to spoil any of the details for those who might want to dive into the teenage world of Adnan Syed, but I will say that his conviction isn’t straightforward. It’s a mess, a confusing tangle of conflicting stories, questionable evidence (at times), and heartbreak.

That’s partly why the […]


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, […]