“Great news! That’s the best we can hope for.” So began a recent email from a friend responding to the results of a bone marrow biopsy I had last week. Back on August 25, 2016, I began a clinical trial to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), a disease I have been battling for the last four years (see more here). Having been treated once already, I became a relapsed patient last summer. By God’s grace, the treatment options have improved tremendously since I was treated the first time with chemotherapy. The trial protocol called for a bone marrow biopsy last week. This procedure is a more definitive test for the presence of leukemia cells in the place in the body where they begin life. We already knew that the treatment seemed to be working from very sensitive blood tests. The bone marrow biopsy came back negative – no detectable cancer cells in my blood or bone marrow. Thus, my friend’s response.
In the church, as in life, it’s often hard to give up things that have become old friends. Sometimes, it’s hard to know when they have outlived their usefulness, and we must exercise wisdom in removing archaic fixtures.
You might have seen that Basking Ridge Presbyterian’s 600-year old white oak tree has died. Under that tree in Bernards, New Jersey, George Whitefield preached to over 3,000 people in 1740. Legend has it that George Washington picnicked beneath its outstretched limbs. My own ancestors worshiped at that church; indirectly, the shade of that tree has helped shape my own soul. That which served so well has died and must be removed.
Remove archaic fixtures we must, because devotion to the archaic reveals in us an insufficient eschatology. Loving what met needs in the past over what meets the need of the moment fails to anticipate the glory that is to be revealed. It trades a vision for the glory of Christ for earthly forms that are passing away. With the Apostle Paul, we must always seek fidelity to Christ as we count everything as loss for the sake of Christ that we may ultimately attain the resurrection from the dead. With Paul, we forget […]
To start things off, the boys open the mailbag and get excited. They discover there are such creatures as English Presbyterians, and one has even listened to every 3GT episode. Another listener responds to our Lord’s Day episode with an encouraging testimony in the workplace.
Then Aaron rewinds to Episode 22 and brings us back to the issue of abortion and the pro-life movement. Should Christians be content with small steps of progress? Or should our simple aim be to outlaw this awful practice? And does the Bible speak to our approach? With little lives on the line, we must keep this issue ever before the church without losing the gospel in the process.
Thank you to the Westminster Conference for sponsoring this episode! Being held September 8-9, 2017, at RPTS, this year’s theme is “Post Tenebras Lux: Celebrating 500 Years of Martin Luther’s Influence.” Be sure to register early as space is limited! Also, listen for how you can win a digital anthology of all the past Westminster Conferences.
You can also subscribe to 3GT on iTunes!
My heart overflows with joy this morning. So I’ve decided just to practice the original idea of blogging and do “web logging” today of what I experienced this weekend. The Lord is so good to his people.
Friday night my daughter’s Christian school put on a talent show. Run by the students, it was a fun night of watching young people put their considerable gifts on display, from piano playing to high school boys spoofing ‘N Sync. In the process, they raised nearly $1500 to encourage one of the school’s families who is involved in developing orphanages in Haiti. The enthusiasm of the youth was contagious, and made me grateful for the community the school provides for our family.
With a cool but pleasant spring Saturday, I delighted in getting out in the yard and working on projects with my family. Mowing, trimming, and blowing got the lawn back into shape. I attacked the winter’s algae in our little fishpond with new filters and a UV light. The back porch was swept and washed down to ready for visits there. These and other projects left my middle-aged body at the end of the day with those happy muscular aches that promise a […]
The Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary where I teach is blessed to have local African Americans from the Pittsburgh area studying here. Serving in a denomination that is historically a predominantly Anglo-Saxon one, the presence of these students has been a rich blessing to our community as the Lord helps us see the greatness of his kingdom in its diversity and power. We rejoice that the dividing walls are broken down in Christ where “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female,” for we are all one in Christ (Gal 3:28). Yet we can also discuss, appreciate, and laugh good-naturedly over our different backgrounds, traditions, and races as we learn from one another.
I love having these men in my preaching classes. Many of them have been preaching a long time before they arrive here, and they often do more teaching with their own preaching than I can hope to impart to them. More than once a brother a few shades darker than me has asked after witnessing a typical Presbyterian-style sermon, “Do I have to preach like that?” I usually like to respond, “Please don’t!”
For one of the lessons we do learn […]
Often when we look at Biblical characters we only see them one-dimensionally. Because of this tendency, we fail to see the complexities that any human being will have. So Thomas is simply the doubter, though all the other disciples doubted Christ’s resurrection and needed the same proof as well (Luke 24:36-43), and church history tells us Thomas was one of the bravest of men. David is the giant-killer, and certainly he was, but he clearly feared a great deal as both his story and his recorded prayers in the Psalms tell us.
Such is the case of Martha. She is forever compared to her sister, Mary, and dubbed “the Worrier” because of this story contained in Luke 10:38-42.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled […]
In my undergrad days, I along with a team of other students made weekly visits to a juvenile detention center in order to talk about the Lord with the incarcerated young men and women. It was there that I met a young man who had openly and eagerly aligned himself with the malevolent being whom Scripture refers to as Satan. Like most people, this young man was a lot bigger than I was (and am). We were sitting across from each other, and he kindly leaned his hulking torso toward me so we could look eye to eye. He was politely disinterested in what I and the other Christian college students had to say about Jesus and the Bible, but I was utterly fascinated with his story.
Reformed Christians are often accused, perhaps rightly so, of not emphasizing the person and work of the Holy Spirit sufficiently enough. As the Father has sent Jesus as our God-man mediator, from worship to evangelism our focus is to call people to come to the Father through the Son. We speak of being Christ-centered in our worship and preaching, as we should. Yet often we can slip into “binitarian” tendencies instead of practicing a robust Trinitarian faith by not recognizing fully enough our dependency on the Spirit of God. Simply put, we fail to speak of the Spirit like we ought.
J.I. Packer has done a great deal to help us in the Reformed faith honor the Spirit’s role, most notably from his book on the third person of the Trinity entitled Keeping in Step with the Spirit: Finding Fullness in Our Walk with God. However, note how his familiar “hidden floodlight” illustration could be easily misunderstood if taken out of context.
I remember walking to a church one winter evening to preach on the words ‘he shall glorify me,’ seeing the building floodlit as I turned the corner, and realizing that this was exactly the illustration my ministry needed. When flood-lighting is […]
I’ve just finished reading through 1 & 2 Kings, in Hebrew, last Friday. For the sins of King Manasseh, the nation of Judah was finally thrust out into the judgment of Exile to Babylon.
Some weeks ago I did a blog entitled ‘Humbling Hezekiahs’. I had been reminded at that time about the danger of pride in leaders, particularly after times of successes. Re-reading the life and times of Hezekiah has given me a fresh more positive take on his reign – I’ve recently declared in church ‘Hezekiah is my new hero!’
The bit of the text by which I was struck like a thunderbolt was 2 Kings 18.3:
“And he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, according to all that David, his father, had done. He removed the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherah. And he broke in pieces the bronze serpent that Moses had made, for until those days the people of Israel had made offerings to it (it was called Nehushtan).”
There is far more to Hezekiah than initially meets the gaze. His reign concluded in a downfall caused by pride, when self-interest finally trumped and eclipsed a career […]
Surely you have heard by now the firestorm that broke out in the media this past week regarding Mike Pence following the “Billy Graham Rule.” Simply stated, Pence refuses to eat meals alone with another woman even when conducting business as a pledge of allegiance to his wife and their marriage. Rather than being admired for his marital fidelity, Pence has been ridiculed mercilessly.
In a day when many prominent Christian leaders and pastors are failing and falling in the area of fidelity, this situation provides a teaching moment. Here are some links to help tutor us.
Karen Pence is the vice president’s ‘prayer warrior,’ gut check and shield | Ashley Parker
This article is the original, favorable piece done on Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, that describes how inseparable they are and mentioned Pence’s marital rule. Of special note is that this article did not go viral until the author tweeted out Pence’s rule.
Mike Pence’s Marriage Rule Holds Women Back | Glennon Doyle Melton
For a sample of the outrage, try this Time hit piece.
Don’t Mock Mike Pence For Protecting His Marriage, Commend Him | Mollie Hemingway
This post does just that.
Mike Pence, “Truth’s Table” and Fencing the Law | Richard Phillips
Phillips interacts with a female-hosted Reformed podcast that also took […]