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Archive | Answers

A Sermon P.S.

This past Lord’s Day I preached from Psalm 51 on the subject of confession. The message was based on Psalm 51:16, “The sacrifices of God are a broken heart, a broken and contrite spirit, O God, you will not despise.”  My emphasis was how the Lord wants us to offer our broken hearts and sin to him as we worship, not as a precondition to worship.

Toward the end of the message, I was calling the congregation to look afresh at Christ’s work on the cross.  I urged them to see his love and mercy for them, and seek the deep heart washing David yearns for in the psalm.  At that moment I mentioned doing this with “besetting sins.”

Afterward, in the customary handshaking after the service, a wise, older gentleman greeted me.  He then expressed respectfully to me a desire.  He said he wished that I would have gone on to address the question as to what those with ongoing struggles with besetting sins should do.  My message could have been interpreted that there is an easy fix to a deeply-rooted problem.

I have been meditating on that wish further, as it was a good question.  How would I encourage the believer with a besetting sin?  Since I […]

Of Angels and Men

The question of Satan’s fall into sin has been an issue of considerable intrigue throughout the centuries. Theologians have burnt oil long into the night pondering the subject, trying to thread together the various strands of biblical data.

Here recently, I self-published a book on the subject. A fresh theory is presented and defended in detail. The book is entitled, Satan’s Awful Idea: A Biblical Theology of Satan’s Fall and Its Implications on the Unfolding Human Drama. If you’re willing to download the book as a PDF file, you can get it for free here: Satan’s Awful Idea PDF Version. Otherwise, it is available at Amazon.

As with any work of theology, questions and challenges will naturally arise. Mine is no different. One such question that has surfaced inquires into the relationship between the thinking of angels and men. In a recent interview with Barry York and Jared Olivetti (Podcast link) this came up. Another fine gentleman pursued the same issue in another context.

Since the theory I develop in the book hinges on angels, as rational creatures, closely resembling humans in their thinking, it could be asked why or upon what basis should this be the case? Why think that angels think […]

Podcast: Satan’s Awful Idea

Recently our fellow blogger, Austin Brown, self-published a book entitled Satan’s Awful Idea with the subtitle A Biblical Theology of Satan’s Fall and Its Implication on the Unfolding Human Drama.  Combining his knowledge gleaned from years of listening to reformed podcasts on his mail route, his love of reading theological tomes, and his vivid imagination, in this work Austin addresses the question of how it is that Satan, originally an archangel in heaven, could convince himself and legions of other angels that rebelling against God would be a good idea. Clearly the record shows it was not!

Knowing for a few years that Austin was working on this project, and aware that the Biblical record is scant on this particular subject, I was intrigued with how he could develop this topic.  He did so using a speculative theology approach, which takes subjects clouded in mystery (other examples would be the decrees of God or the theodicy question) and addresses them philosophically using inferences from Scripture and insights from other theologians. Though I have told Austin I’d like to see a shorter version (it’s nearly 300 pages long!), some more editing, and I lean a bit more toward an Edwardian approach than he does (you’ll have to listen […]

Forgiving Others

When you’re hurt by someone- really wounded- you’re forced to think through the matter of forgiveness afresh. This has been the case in my own life. How ought one to forgive? What if the person is unrepentant? Can you forgive someone if they don’t ask for it? Should forgiveness erase all of the consequences?

These are the kinds of questions that naturally arise.

I found great help in the following message by John Piper. Not only did it bring new clarity to the issue, but it proved to be something of a healing salve to my soul.

Perhaps you could use a good reminder as well? Maybe you’re struggling with the logistics of forgiveness?

Carve out 30 minutes and give it a listen.

You can find it here.



“I Think I May Be Gay”

If you are reading this post and the title describes you, let me begin by saying that you are not the first person who has wondered about this issue.  You probably are being a bit discreet, reading this privately to see what it says.  Many people in this generation are asking the same question about whether they are gay or not.  Though you are most likely reading this alone, you are not alone in the thoughts you are having.

Since you are thinking about this matter, and I imagine you have been considering it for some time now, please let me ask you to consider three further questions this issue should raise in your mind.

How is your sexual self-identity determined?

Wondering about or even calling yourself gay is not just a  matter of sexual activity, but of identity.  Those who refer to themselves as gay see it as a lifestyle.   Many gay people describe their experience as a journey of self-discovery, as they come to a point in their lives where they realize they are attracted to the same sex.  Perhaps you believe that you have arrived at this  very juncture  in your own life.

Yet have you given serious thought to how […]

Browse Worthy: Gender Identification

It is amazing how quickly the gay rights battle is morphing into a transsexual one.  As men and women harden their hearts more and more against the Creator whose image they bear, they rebel against everything, even their own gender. When Times magazine features on its cover a picture of a man in a dress with the caption “The Transgender Tipping Point,” and Rush Limbaugh is speaking favorably with transsexuals, you realize you cannot avoid discussing an issue that in your parents’ day would have never been mentioned publicly.  As a pastor, I had to speak to those involved in gender confusion in my counseling office.

In these confusing times, here are some helpful articles from past and recent days that will help set our thinking straight (no pun intended).

The Briefing by Al Mohler.  Penetrating analysis of the transgender movement in light of the Times cover.

This Strange New World by Tim Challies.  A prediction eight years ago that gender issues would be confronting us wherever we turn.

Conservative Christianity and the Transgender Question by Russell Moore.  Words for dealing pastorally with this issue.

This Poor Child is Confused, not ‘Transgendered’ by Matt Walsh.  Perceptive insight into the family raising their young girl to be a boy.

Laverne Cox is not a Woman by Kevin […]

GenRef Podcast: Jewish Holy War

“When Israel had finished killing all the inhabitants of Ai in the open wilderness where they pursued them, and all of them to the very last had fallen by the edge of the sword, all Israel returned to Ai and struck it down with the edge of the sword. And all who fell that day, both men and women, were 12,000, all the people of Ai. But Joshua did not draw back his hand with which he stretched out the javelin until he had devoted all the inhabitants of Ai to destruction. Only the livestock and the spoil of that city Israel took as their plunder, according to the word of the LORD that he commanded Joshua. So Joshua burned Ai and made it forever a heap of ruins, as it is to this day. And he hanged the king of Ai on a tree until evening. And at sunset Joshua commanded, and they took his body down from the tree and threw it at the entrance of the gate of the city and raised over it a great heap of stones, which stands there to this day.” (Joshua 8:24-29)

It was our distinct pleasure to speak with Dr. […]

Is God Thankful?

I was out walking the mail, just beginning to set off on another relay, when I received a text.  It was from my wife.  It read:

“Give me your answer tonight: Is God thankful?  Something to ponder.”

I was immediately intrigued.  The question had never entered my mind, and I was already mentally “Googling” the Scriptures in search of a clue.

I texted back: “Hmm.  Interesting!  Will be fun to think about 🙂  What made you think of that?”

The familiar whistling sound soon came back: “I was talking to Ticy [our 3 year old daughter] about being thankful, and I realized that it’s one of the few attributes that we are to have that I’m not sure God has.  Who would He be thankful to?  Within the Trinity?”


So is God thankful? 

An Open Letter to Susan Jacoby

Dear Ms. Jacoby,

I read with interest your article “The Blessings of Atheism” in the New York Times this week.  Following the tragedy of the Newtown shootings, you express quite eloquently and personally why you are thankful to be an atheist.

For as you say, “It is a positive blessing, not a negation of belief, to be free of what is known as the theodicy problem.”  Rather than being loaded down in the midst of tragedy with the problem of why an “all-powerful, all-good God allows such things to happen,” as an atheist you simply sidestep that concern.  Then in a compelling and thoughtful way, in a manner reminiscent (though certainly softer – to me anyway) of the recently departed Christopher Hitchens, you explained how atheists need not shy away from issues of expressing concern during times such as these but instead offer consolation to those in grief.

May I ask you to consider briefly a few concerns I have with the thesis of your article?  I admittedly am writing to you as a Christian pastor.  You may think then my design in addressing you is to score points or ridicule you.  Though you do not know me, please be assured that is not my desire. […]

The Hobbit, Magic, and the Christian Worldview

A good question was recently asked by Scott Doherty.  He wrote,

“I have a suggestion for you fellows, seeing that once again the Tolkein books are being made into movies. A perennial question among Christians is the tension between truth to be found within good literature and the sometimes otherwise forbidden form of that truth. For example, no magic white or otherwise is permitted by God, but the good guys in the literature use magic. How should Christians reason through this?”

For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved fantasy.  Countless hours have been spent scribbling images of strange creatures and arcane weapons in worn notebooks (usually to the consternation of my teachers).  Even as an adult, I still very much enjoy the genre of fantasy, not only in its written form, but especially as it exists in games.  Crawling through a dungeon with a torch in hand is still a blast, not to mention hurling a fireball at a mob of orcs.  Here one need only check out the wildly fun and popular game Orcs Must Die! or the vast and expansive world of Skyrim to get a sense of what I’m talking about.