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, […]


What If I Don’t Think My Spouse is a Christian?

The Bible is clear that a Christian should only marry a Christian. We gather that from where the Lord warned the people of Israel not to “make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst” (Exodus 34:12). Also, Paul instructs us not to be “unequally yoked with unbelievers” (2 Corinthians 6:14), and he reminds the widow that she is “free to be married to whom she wishes, only in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 7:39). Certainly this wasn’t intended to squash our love life, but it’s intended by God for our good. I can remember someone once telling me about their non-Christian spouse, how exceedingly sorrowful it was to wake up every morning next to a spiritual corpse. Indeed, I can think of few things more burdensome in this life than to be unequally yoked–to marry someone who doesn’t share convictions on truth, life, and eternity.

But I’ve also encountered people who thought they were marrying a Christian only to wonder, sometime later, if they’d been mistaken. From my limited experience this isn’t as uncommon as we might think. As we slip into the day-to-day routine of life, share in […]


Threats Real and Perceived

Humans have an incredible capacity to fear. A certain type of fear is actually a gift to us in a fallen world because it enables us to sense and avoid danger. The problem with fear, however, is that the parts of the brain that control our fear response are not the same ones that control our ability to reason. In other words, to be effective, our capacity to fear has to operate very quickly, and the cost of a rapid fear response is a sometimes irrational fear response. People, who want to control your behavior, are quite adept at appealing to your fear response in order to get you to take some action that benefits them. Tune in to this news outlet and follow their “breaking coverage” of some tragic event. Support this or that environmental cause before the planet is destroyed. Buy gold before the next stock market crash. Buy survival supplies before the coming societal meltdown. Enroll your kid in a special program before it’s too late and she falls behind the other kids. The list is virtually endless.

Sadly, Christians are often motivated by irrational fears just like everyone else. A particularly troubling example of this is the […]


What We Can Learn From College Students

One of the incredible benefits of being a pastor is the opportunity to be around and learn from so many different types of people. It seems each person and every type of person can be not only a valuable member of a church family, but an important teacher in our lives. In this and future posts, I’d like to consider what we ought to be learning from the people around us. 

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This past weekend was our annual CORPS winter conference (CORPS stands for collegiate organization of reformed presbyterian students…acronym makes it easier, doesn’t it?). As it is every year, it was very blessed by God. GR’s own Rutledge Etheridge came all the way from Geneva College to teach on the subject of doubt. His lectures and sermons were wide-ranging and powerful. But, as often is the case, I left learning as much from the college students around me as from anything else. Here are some of the things they continue to teach me on a regular basis: 


Desiring God

I want to call your attention to one of the most paradigm changing and delightfully powerful books I’ve ever read. It is a work written by John Piper, and it is called Desiring God.

Many of you are no doubt familiar with the book. It is already something of a classic. Nevertheless, there might be a few who have never considered its contents. If you are one such person, I want to strongly encourage you to take the time to read it. As a result of wrestling with the ideas articulated by John Piper, my thinking hasn’t been the same. Glorious truths have sprung to life. I see things differently.

What is the central point of the book? It is, of course, always dangerous to try to reduce a concept down to a catch phrase, but Dr. Piper has successfully summarized it as follows:

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

To state the matter a bit differently, it is overwhelmingly awesome to know that God’s glory and our happiness is not at all at odds. They are essentially one; the magnification of God’s fame results in our increased happiness.

If this strikes you in the least […]


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 […]


The Christian Traveller

I spent all of Wednesday of this past week travelling from Northern Ireland to Philadelphia, and the hours of sitting in airports and being herded in queues on and off of various modes of transportation reminded me of an excellent article written by my good friend Jeremy Walker and which I am shamelessly reproducing below, with his permission.

I re-read the article while sitting at the departure gate of Boston airport on the final leg of my journey. As I reviewed the previous 14 hours of travel and assessed it in light of Jeremy’s advice I felt that I probably hadn’t done anyone any positive harm (although I suspect anyone sitting within a few seats’ radius of me when I dropped off to sleep may have disagreed! I’m reminded of a comment by Bill Bryson about his sleeping habits while travelling: ‘Most people who go to sleep on a plane look like they just need a blanket; I look like I need medical attention.’) On the other hand I did feel a dissatisfaction that I hadn’t done something more positive to help a fellow traveller – I hadn’t noticed anyone needing help with their bags or looking lost. I’m not sure […]


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 […]


Praying for Your Leaders?

It is easy to become frustrated with politics and government. It is easy for us to throw up our hands as Christians and say, “Well, politics is not the essence of Christ’s kingdom, so I’m just not going to invest much (if any) energy there.” Some find it discouraging because it seems that we are often “losing” political battles. But friends, we are only really losing when we are unfaithful to Jesus. Even the martyrs know that they won even though they lost in the face of persecution from earthly authorities as they stood for truth (Revelation 6:9-10). If we are being faithful in Christ, then we are always winning. So, it might be a good time to ask if you are being faithful to God’s call on your life with respect to your leaders, especially as lawmakers take up their work afresh across our land in the month of January.

There will always be considerable debate about what God requires of us as we relate to government. But we are all to pray for our leaders; that is one indisputable truth. Paul urges in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that “supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and […]


A Trampling Church – A Brief Reflection on Romans 16:20

It’s an easy verse to miss. Tucked away in the final chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, sandwiched between his personal greetings and doxological conclusion, the following words of promise emerge, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20a). It is an interesting statement, and not a little curious. The allusion is plain enough though. Paul is picking up the language of Genesis 3:15. But instead of referencing Christ, which one would expect, he instead says that Satan is going to be crushed under the feet of the Roman saints. Their heels will suntribo the Serpent, which is to say, trample him or break him into pieces. How can Paul say this? Didn’t Christ crush the head of the Serpent?

Here an awesome truth emerges that sheds light on the mission of the church; a mission that corresponds with God’s strategy of displaying His glory to the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms; a mission that includes our stomping on the enemy. In order to get at this, the doctrinal mountain known as union with Christ needs to be ascended. Only there will the vantage point prove lofty enough to provide a proper perspective.

In […]