Audio Picks

This week’s episode of This American Life features an interesting look into the backroom, candidate vetting process of the Republican party.  Its about wealthy donors and the game of money.
I’ve never heard of Black Hebrew Israelites before.  They’re frighteningly heretical.  James White recently stumbled upon them and has been devoting a bit of attention to the movement.  If you want to see the face of full-throttled eisegesis, listen to this debate on The Dividing Line.  It is scary how blind one can be in their handling of the Scriptures.
In his message God’s Peculiar Glory, John Piper begins by saying, “For the last two years, I have focused in a greater way than ever before in my life on the question of how we know that the Christian Scriptures are completely true, and then, in view of that, how we should read them.”  The rest of the message is his answer to the issue.  That should hook you.

 

 


The Immaturity of Addiction

A person who has practiced addictive behaviors for a good portion of his life once told me an insight he had been given. Though it came from a secular source, this observation rings true. He was told that one of the side effects of addiction to drugs and alcohol is immaturity. In fact, the counselor told the class my friend was attending that at the age you began to use intoxicating substances to get drunk or high in an ongoing way is the basic maturity level you currently have. For instance, if someone began to use drugs heavily at age sixteen and was now twenty-four, such areas as his mental, relational, and work maturity levels would roughly still be that of a teenager. You simply stop maturing very much when you do drugs.

This rule of thumb makes sense under closer observation. When someone begins to abuse substances repeatedly, they are often exchanging responsibility for pleasure. Many addicts enter this lifestyle to escape hard circumstances, trials, or truths about themselves they do not want to face. Consequently, the lessons they would have learned in meeting these situations, dealing with them constructively, and growing in maturity through them are lost opportunities. If you ever wonder […]


Don’t waste your suffering #1

“If you live long enough you will suffer. The only alternative to not suffering is not living long enough”—with those cheering words Don Carson starts an address on suffering. He’s right; suffering is an inevitable part of life, and yet we can be taken aback when it happens, ambushed and left reeling almost as much by the surprise as by the pain.

As a famous rugby player once said, “Get your retaliation in first”!—I want to take a few articles to equip us for when suffering comes. I don’t intend to deal with the questions of why suffering exists and how could God allow it. Suffering does exist, God does allow it, we have to face it.

The real question is “Will it destroy, damage or deepen our faith?” I want to look at how we can inadvertently exacerbate our suffering, how we can be prepared for it, how we can cope better with it and even grow as God intends in it.

In some ways these articles are addressed to people who aren’t suffering yet in order to prepare you to suffer. You need to lay the foundations now for when suffering arrives. You need to take truths and ingrain them into your personality, […]


O Little Nuthatch

O little nuthatch,
From whence comes your name?
Did you look a little crazed
When from the shell you came?

O little nuthatch,
Can you explain this to me?
How does your gray disappear
On the trunk of my oak tree?

O little nuthatch,
Why eat upside down?
Would not swallowing be easier
If you simply turned around?

O little nuthatch,
What is with your song?
Are your really laughing
With those scratchy notes all wrong?

O little nuthatch,
Why do you despise a duet?
Can you really be so fierce
To chase a jay from the suet?

O little nuthatch,
Have you guessed by now?
You bring a smile to me
As to your Maker I bow.


Screaming Life

I’m very happy to highly recommend the “for such a time as this” work and artistry of this sister in Christ.   Pastors and other Christian counselors take note:  If you want an experienced, empathetic, incisive, eye-opening and heart-enriching understanding of the broken, aimless hearts abounding in our culture, read Lacey Sturm’s The Reason   It’s quietly iconoclastic in tearing down the shallow cultural assessments and pseudo-spiritual advice offered up by pop-Christianity’s baptized agnosticism, which glorifies brokenness and uncertainty (so long as they’re experienced in community) as the marks of authentic, honest faith.  And its heartfelt substance fleshes out answers so often left as stillborn theological theory by writing efforts which rightly promote truth and our ability to know it with certainty, but which present it dry and cold to the reader, giving the unintended impression that God has nothing full of life to say to generations reared on the belief that he’s dead.      


Expectant Prayer for the Nations

Do our prayers really matter in missions and the spread of the gospel around the globe? Is it worth leading our children to pray for specific nations of the world?

Recently, God impressed upon me the amazing era in which we live. The good news of Jesus Christ is rapidly spreading around the world.

Today, even I get to see with my own eyes the work of God in people from India, Arabia, China, and Africa – even if it is just a token of what is happening globally. My great-grandparents could only have dreamed of so many people from these lands joining us for worship as a church and sitting around our dining room table. I confess that as a child I did not expect this as I should have.

What has led to such progress? Jesus has also ordained that social, economic, and technological forces would align to propel the advance of the gospel in our day. Faithful gospel preachers have gone out over the years sowing with tears. And people have prayed for generations, and God has graciously answered.

In my growing up experience, our parents taught us to pray for the world. We prayed for specific countries from our little farm in Indiana. […]


C.S. Lewis on the Crux of the Problem

“How did the Dark Power [Satan] go wrong? Here, no doubt, we ask a question to which human beings cannot give an answer with any certainty. A reasonable (and traditional) guess, based on our own experiences of going wrong, can, however, be offered. The moment you have a self at all, there is a possibility of putting Yourself first—wanting to be the centre—wanting to be God, in fact. That was the sin of Satan: and that was the sin he taught the human race. Some people think the fall of man had something to do with sex, but that is a mistake. (The story in the Book of Genesis rather suggests that some corruption in our sexual nature followed the fall and was its result, not its cause.)


Helping a Covenant Child Prepare a Testimony

When preparing young people who have grown up in the church to make a public profession of faith, the usual formulaic approach of writing down a testimony usually does not work. Asking them to think of what their life was like before Christ, how they were then converted, and what has happened since then does not fit their experience.

For many teen-aged believers who grew up in a Christian home and attended church regularly do not remember a time when they did not believe in Christ. Though they have known experiences with sin and trusting in Christ through their life, they are hesitant about naming a time of conversion. Forcing them to come up with such a time can be a way of unknowingly sowing harmful seeds into their souls, as they start looking for an experience that creates doubt rather than looking to Christ with simple yet real faith.

Thus, the pastor preparing them to testify of their faith in Christ, so that they can be given the privileges of communicant membership by the elders and come to the Lord’s Supper, needs to approach them a little differently than someone who was converted out of the world as an adult. To that […]


Let Justice Roll Down

It has been a tumultuous week. Of course, in a very unfortunate way that almost seems normal. Turmoil, discord, confusion, and anarchy appear to be the new normal. That’s the society we live in. Recent headlines only confirm it. We have learned this week that the politically elite are not subject to the same laws as the governed, and dishonesty is an excusable offense so long as one is seeking to protect a reputation. We have again been troubled by the graphic and complicated images of those gunned down by police. We hear of the ways in which truth is being suppressed and efforts are being made to mute and silence religious convictions. We have watched again as those who have sworn to maintain peace have been, in a very calculated manner, executed on the street. Turmoil. Discord. Confusion. Anarchy. It leaves the world crying for justice because, in a very real sense, people see that things are not as they should be.

It’s difficult to know what to say in response. Even as I sit here and let my fingers do my thinking my own mind has tossed and turned and my reflections have taken a new direction. To desire […]


A Wedding in the Woods

Only the Lord could take one day of heart-breaking tragedy, combine it with another day of anticipated joy, and transform it into a time of overflowing grace and beauty.

The day of tragic sorrow occurred less than three months ago when we too abruptly lost Jon, the husband of my wife’s sister. The day of expected joy was Saturday, when his daughter, Kimby, was married.

As Kimby and her groom Andre had desired, and Jon and Jennifer had agreed, the wedding took place in the wooded setting of their home. The day was a gorgeous one, with low humidity and the late afternoon sun shining yet shaded by the tall pines overhead, a breeze gently rustling through them. Large tables with round built-on seats, ones that Jon had secured months in advance for this occasion, were set on the various levels of the deck and yard.  Each one was simply yet elegantly decorated with wood slab chargers (Jon’s idea) holding brightly colored cloth napkins; rich bouquets of a variety of orange and peach colored roses and ranunculuses filled the centers of the tables. The sand volleyball court, the scene of innumerable outdoor games, now served as the sanctuary, with tons of fine sand hauled in by Jon’s friends offering a […]