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Archive | Christian Living

Looking Like Jesus

It’s very encouraging for young Christians to see older saints who look like Jesus in thought, word, and deed.  Their example motivates us to honor the Father and be “conformed to the image of his Son” (Romans 8:29). How do we grow into such a resemblance over time?

For many years, researchers have questioned why married couples look like one another more and more over the years. Studies like this one conducted three decades ago at the University of Michigan consistently show that couples do grow to look more like one another as they age. Researchers believe that couples begin to mimic each other’s facial expressions and in time develop muscle memories that are similar. Over the years, these habits cause their facial features to be conformed more closely to one another in a permanent way. It is also believed that the shared emotions that accompany these facial expressions may also increase visible similarities over time.

The Christian’s experience with Christ is similar. In his treatise on the Holy Spirit, John Owen wrote: “[Love] begets a likeness between the mind loving and the object beloved…A mind filled with the love of Christ as crucified…will be changed into his image and likeness, by the […]

Prayer that Cheers

Introduction
Do you feel down in the dumps? Do you struggle with yourself? Does life ever overwhelm you? Has your faith become a drudgery? Are the storms of life upsetting? Is your service for Christ costly? If you take advice from James you’ll certainly get help.

Context
The theme that runs through James is ‘You need a faith that works!’ He’s given some spiritual litmus to see how faith is firing: like how you handle treasures, endure trials and control tongues. His closing comments focus on the need for fervent prayer. To have a faith that works you’ll be often on your knees.

Text
Chapter 5.13 is where I want to take your heart. “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise.” Don’t think prayer a chore! God gives it for your cheer. Prayer brings some cheer in your tears. Prayer adds more cheer by your songs.

Subjects of Cheering Prayer
James gives no exemptions. Anyone is all-inclusive. All believers are beneficiaries in the bending of their knees. Husbands, wives, elders, deacons, men, women, parents, children, young, old, princes, citizens may receive this cheering help. Did my list exclude you? Cheer up Christ includes you!

Examples of Cheering Prayer
The apostle stops […]

The Gospel Reformation Network

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Presbyterian Church in America‘s General Assembly in Greensboro, NC. Held in the spacious accommodations of the Khoury Convention Center, the week had a feel of a reunion to it. PCA ministers and elders greeted one another warmly and enjoyed extended fellowship with one another. Many of the men brought their families with them, and the wives and children would mill about as they waited on their dad to rejoin them after a meeting. As a guest, I was made to feel welcome throughout the week.

The deliberations and events surrounding the gathering of this nation’s largest conservative Presbyterian denomination were quite remarkable. Observing meetings and debates held in an assembly that is three times the size of the House of Representatives was quite an experience. Walking down hallways and regularly seeing leading Christian teachers and authors such as Tim Keller, Bryan Chapell, or Kevin DeYoung made me realize again just how “resource rich” the PCA truly is. Over a hundred exhibitors of Christian ministries filled a ballroom and spilled over into other hallways with booths offering literature, products for sale, or little freebies (the RUF tin can mints was the best give-away item […]

Mercies in Mission

This is just a brief ‘diary entry’ after day 2 of my current pastoral visit to two missionary families in Nantes, West France.

After waking up late and bleary-eyed on Friday morning (having tried unsuccessfully to stay awake for the UK General Election results the night before), I grabbed a bite of breakfast, a mug of coffee, and headed off to our Team Meeting.

I began our time by reading Romans 1.1-17. I briefly stressed Paul’s note of thanksgiving and desire for mutual encouragement expressed in v7-12, in their saving Gospel faith v16-17, which is located in the promised, incarnate, risen, glorified Christ v1-6:

“To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. For I long […]

Don’t Become a Hobbit! (Unless God calls you to)

In times of significant cultural upheaval, it’s common and eminently understandable to seek whatever stability and calm we can find within our lives and to do some good soul searching about the way we’ve chosen to structure them.  Are we contributing or perhaps even capitulating to the nervous, noisy way of life we see all around us?  In a cultural moment tyrannized by all things digital and overloaded with a constant bombardment of information, so much of it shallow-minded if not salacious, have we neglected a simpler, more richly satisfying and God-honoring way of life?  Have we unknowingly – or perhaps knowingly! – imbibed the fuss and fury of a fallen world put on fast forward? These are important questions to consider, and I’m afraid certain trends among Christians are offering overly simplistic answers in their worthy quest for a simple life filled with spiritual substance. 

Biographies Towards Community

We live in a time when many in the church struggle to connect with other members of the body. Many consider connectedness something that happens online rather than through living in community. If you don’t believe me, ask the closest millennial–his or her deepest relationships may be with people they know via pixels and screens. We are “alone together” as sociologist Sherry Turkle has put it. The struggle for community is a problem in the world and increasingly it is also a problem in the church.

Besides this lack of connection—or communion—the 21st century North American church is also largely ahistorical. Being ahistorical, having a disregard for the history of the church, has led to old errors being revived, to a disconnection with ancient Christianity (hence the number of evangelicals that go to Rome or the Eastern Church in search of historical connection), and to an inability of individual Christians to gauge their experience against the experience of others.

Lack of connection and community, as well as an ahistorical approach to Christianity, has caused a deficiency in the lives of believers. What can be done to help encourage connection, community, and history? There are several vital remedies for regaining vibrant and experiential […]

A Banner Day or Two

From Tuesday afternoon until later today I am at the Banner of Truth’s 2017 US Minister’s Conference. This conference is a refreshing time for pastors, elders, and ministerial students in so many ways. Here are a few highlights to share with you.

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The Banner offered scholarships to seminary students, so I had the joy of traveling out with three men training with us at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Having extended time like that with the guys outside the classroom is a blessing. On the way, we stopped for lunch at a rest area. The other American and I quickly ordered our burgers and sat down, only to find our two Asian friends had brought their own zongzi for lunch. They shared with us the zongzi, a leaf-wrapped meal containing a special, sweetish rice with peanuts, beans, and a date, and told us it was in honor of “Dragon Boat Day” in Asia, an annual holiday with a fascinating story behind it. The learning started before I even arrived at the conference.

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Over 300 are in attendance at the Banner conference this year, held on the beautiful, accommodating campus of Elizabethtown College. The theme is “The […]

Neither Jew nor Gentile: The Musings of a Modern Covenanter on Racial Reconciliation

This past Friday I had the privilege of conversing with Ligon Duncan, Chancellor and CEO of Reformed Theological Seminary. In that short exchange, Dr. Duncan expressed similar sentiments to ones he later posted the next day on Facebook, which read in part: “Just as a little historical tip for those interested, no Presbyterian and/or Reformed denomination in America has a better record for taking a biblical stand on slavery and racism than the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. The Covenanters were right on this long before the rest of us caught on.” You can see the rest of his comments here. 

His remarks sparked me to share the following article by Michael LeFebvre, Pastor of Christ Church in Brownsburg, Indiana, and Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary Board President. As you can see, Dr. LeFebvre recounts this history, not for the sake of any prideful boasting, but to encourage greater modern applications of the history where racial divides still exist. This article originally appeared in Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal, Spring 2017 (Vol. 3, Issue 2). Used by permission.

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Introduction

Several months ago, I was at a large Christian university. I was there for a conference, and a campus tour was offered during an afternoon break. On […]

The Age of Accountability?

Is there an “age of accountability” for children? No, I do not believe so.

The term “age of accountability” has become a theological term in many circles.  According to Theopedia, it is defined to be “that time in the development of a person when he or she can and invariably does sin against God and thus stands in the need of personal redemption through Jesus Christ.” Often contained in this teaching is that there is a certain age, often deemed to be 12 years old though some might make it younger, before which a child either does not sin or at least is not held accountable for his sins before God.

So typically, the doctrine of the age of accountability includes the teaching that the child will not be judged guilty before God. In other words, if the child dies prior to this age, he receives the gift of eternal life (i.e., he goes to heaven). John MacArthur, who states that this doctrine is not clearly identified in Scripture, still concludes without qualification that for any child dying at a young age “that up until that point of real saving faith, God in His mercy, would save that child.”

So what should we think about children, […]

Moms Have Feelings Too

My human tornado of a daughter, Emory, is back home from Europe. Between telling us of her trip and preparing to leave at the end of the month to live with our oldest daughter for the summer, she had time to write this guest post, which is a nice follow-up both to Mother’s Day and this recent article.

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Moms have feelings too. But I’m convinced that we all, especially young people, don’t act like they do quite often enough.

Of course, I blame moms everywhere for this failing.

It starts with pregnancy and birth. Nine months of watching your body stretch, your feet swell, your veins bulge, your muscles ache, and a host of other difficulties that I, having never been a mother, can only imagine. As if that wasn’t enough, pregnancy is followed by hours if not days of labor. Since my only experience with labor is watching all six seasons of Call the Midwife, I cannot speak directly to this process. But I do know that it is pretty hard. And it hurts.

So we are born and immediately fall down and thank our moms for the tremendous sacrifices they made to bring us into this world. Nope. Not even close. We […]