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Archive | Christian Living

A Minister of Mercy

An Offer Too Good To Refuse

What a wonderful surprise! That’s was my reaction to the very kind and generous offer made by one of the older members of my congregation. He is a retired missionary who possesses a deep theological knowledge. I couldn’t believe my ears: ‘Take any books you like – you can have first pick from my library!” So on the appointed day, and at a pre-arranged time, I went round to my friend, with some sturdy cardboard boxes, and filled my car boot [trunk] with dozens of weighty tomes.

The Secret Workings of Providence

This all happened around the time when we recently moved house, so half of my library is still in boxes. This explains why I haven’t had much time to survey the contents properly or the leisure to digest their accumulated wisdom. Yet, as providence would have it, I recently read a quotation from Thomas Goodwin in a Banner of Truth magazine (it was either imbedded in a magazine article or just the bare quote and nothing else). The quotation was something along the lines of (my heavy paraphrase) “Salvation will not be withheld from any penitent sinner who comes to God truly believing that the Lord is full of mercy.”

Isn’t is […]

Things May Get Messy

Next week on March 29 and 30 Rosaria Butterfield is coming to speak to the Christian community in Bloomington, IN (more information here).  Rosaria is a gracious and engaging believer who has written two very helpful books on the power of the gospel to transform our lives.  In Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, she tells the story of her own, dramatic conversion to Christ.  In Openness Unhindered, she explores the need for every person to find his or her true identity in Christ.  In the process of telling some of her own story, she makes it clear that the gospel has the power to seriously disrupt our lives in ways that are not always neat and tidy.  Calling her own conversion story a “train wreck” she has a lot to teach the church about what it means to work with people whose lives are being made new by Christ.  When she walked away from her former life as a tenured English professor at Syracuse University, all she had left was her dog and what she could fit in her car.  God quite literally blew up her previous relationships and support systems in the process of making her His own.

In […]

The Expectation of Fasting

When Jesus was asked a question on the subject of fasting as recorded in Matthew 9, he answered in a way that God’s people should well understand.  He used a wedding metaphor.

Then the disciples of John came to him, saying, ‘Why do we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?’ And Jesus said to them, ‘Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.’” (Matt. 9:14-15)

The basic lesson of this metaphor is that fasting is like waiting for a wedding. Better yet, fasting is like the bride longing for the wedding and bringing it more quickly by that longing. It is asking the lover of your soul to come and make a holy visitation.

With this metaphor, Jesus explained that his disciples were not fasting at the time because he was with them. But when he would leave to go to heaven where he is now, note what he says will happen. Look at the last three words of verse 15: “they will fast.” Jesus expects Christians to fast.

Our Lord made that clear earlier in the gospel of Matthew. […]

The Screensaver of your Mind

What’s your computer’s screensaver? You know – the picture that comes up after a few minutes of inactivity. In the olden times there were only a handful of stock pictures to choose from, but nowadays the choices are infinite. Some hi-res close-up photograph of a butterfly wing or a satellite shot of the Sahara desert from space. Perhaps a random assortment of your family photographs. If you’re unimaginative or just haven’t worked out how to change the default screensaver setting then perhaps you’re greeted by a blank screen when the computer goes into power save mode. Whatever it is, it’s what comes up when you’re not actively using the computer for anything else.

Your computer screensaver (or lack of one) may or may not reveal something profound about your personality and thoughts, but did you ever think about the screensavers of your own brain? What are they? They’re the things your mind reverts to thinking about when it’s left to its own devices. When you’re not focused on a particular task in hand – you’re not trying to solve that calculus equation or write that essay or cook that meal or repair that broken door handle or watch that TV show or […]

Looking for Mentors

“What advice would you give to someone who is looking for older godly mentors but has none at home and few at college, if any?”

[This excellent question is another from our college retreat’s Stump the Pastors session.]

This question simultaneously excites and discourages me. Anytime a young Christian desires a spiritual mentor, something good is happening. That desire signals a humble willingness to learn, a realization of the need for growth in Christ, and an acceptance of God’s provision of such growth in the form of mentors. However, the question should also alert us that someone is having a hard time finding such a mentor–that despite the clear instructions in God’s Word, many in the church aren’t making themselves available for those younger in the faith. 

The Eternal Glory of the Daily Grind

The following is a guest post by J.K. Wall who is a writer in Indianapolis. His modernized abridgment of William Symington’s work, Messiah the Prince Revisited, was published in 2014 by Crown & Covenant Publications. You can e-mail him at jk.wall@gmail.com.

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Work can be hell.

We do the same tasks over and over. And after we struggle and stress, even our greatest accomplishments fade quickly away.

We’re like Sysiphus, who the ancient Greek gods condemned to roll a stone up a mountain each day, only to watch it roll back to the bottom again. The gods thought, according to the French philosopher Albert Camus, that “there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.”

Moms especially—who do laundry, cooking, cleaning and picking up, day after day—can relate to Sysiphus.

With work so futile and its achievements so fleeting, would anyone be so bold as to say that your 9-5 job is eternally valuable?

I would.

When done well, earthly work delights and glorifies God. And since God is eternal, then His delight and glory have eternal value.

Right from the very beginning, the Bible tells us that our work exists to delight God.

God created Adam and immediately gave him a job to do: to […]

To the Nines! Nine Reflections on Pastoral Ministry

This past month I entered my ninth year as an ordained minister of the gospel. The time has gone by quickly and I am thankful for all that the Lord has done through his appointed means of grace. One of the joys of pastoral ministry has been to frequently speak to young men who are considering or preparing for pastoral ministry. “What should I read?” “Where should I go?” “How should I prepare?” Often I will give three pieces of advice for men as they seek preparation for ministry: 1. Don’t be a free agent, be under care of elders at a presbytery level. 2. Be a humanist, read literature widely, don’t get “just” a Bible degree in college; study the original languages. 3. Be a churchman and attend a seminary that is accountable to the church. There are many fine seminary institutions which are accountable to boards, but we need a generation of churchmen—men who love the church and support her institutions.

I am sure that some of the students that God has brought through my congregation can hear me say it now! But for those who are currently in seminary or in their first couple of years of ministry, […]

Browse Worthy: Digital Detox with David Murray

Our friend David Murray at HeadHeartHand has written a number of helpful articles as well as collected others on practicing what he calls “Digital Detox.” If you pick up your smartphone like an addict does a needle, you know what he means. We need the helpful ways he offers to navigate our online time more successfully, protect ourselves from its intoxicating and harmful influences, and be more Spirit-filled in the process.

Rather than listing here all of the resources, David has already done this for us on his blog. He has created a page that he will keep updating through the 2017 year. Simply go to the link below, and may the Lord help us live in freedom rather than cyber slavery.

Digital Detox Resources | David Murray

3GT Episode 27: A Strong Dose of Vitamin R

Kyle talks about his passion for church revitalization. Barry reminds him that church planters are the modern rock stars in the kingdom. But the Borgmeister trumps this suggestion by pulling out the apostolic card of revitalization, and then just has to mention the rural church. The guys tighten down on the Biblical call to being revived and keeping core things central. The connection between reviving pastors and reviving churches is explored. Pragmatism is warned against, while the place of pastor-coaches and prayer are discussed. Open wide and take your Vitamin R!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/3gt-episode27-12817-3-06-pm.mp3