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Gospel Thoughts on a Dark Anniversary

Below is a bulletin insert that I wrote for Lord’s Day, January 21, 2018, in remembrance of the 45th anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision which legalized human abortion in all 50 of the United States. Monday, January 22nd is that anniversary: 

Thoughts on A Dark Anniversary

On Monday, January 22, 2018, Americans in the US will wake up and go to work and about the day as usual. Looming as the backdrop of that day sits an anniversary that some celebrate as a victory of women’s reproductive rights and others lament as one of the darkest stains on our national conscience.

On this day, in 1973, 45 years ago, under the so-called right of privacy, the Supreme Court declared abortion legal in all 50 States. As the national median age is 37; more than half of Americans, including myself, have always lived with this so-called right to privacy—human abortion.

The psalmist reminds us that there is no privacy before God when it comes to human life; for he is the one who forms and weaves. Psalm 139:15-16 says:

“My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,  intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw […]

God has a plan for you

The beginning of a new year brings all kinds of emotions with it. Maybe it’s just the excitement of a new start, or the anticipation of some new venture in the year to come—a wedding, an expected birth, a special holiday. Or perhaps it’s the optimism that comes from making a set of new year resolutions. But a new year can bring with it very different feelings: anxiety, uncertainty, even fear. What lies in store for me this year? Heartache and suffering? What if some tragedy strikes? Will I be able to cope?

Christians are subject to the ups and downs of life in a fallen world as much as anyone else, but we have comfort and hope in the midst of uncertainty that no unbeliever has. We know that our Father in heaven is in control of everything that happens and is working out his purposes for us.

One of the most helpful verses to hold on to whenever we are fearful about the future is Jer 29.11: ‘For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.’ These are words you may know […]

Now That You Are Behind in Your Bible Reading Program…

Sorry for the pessimistic title! But knowing that a large number of New Year’s resolutions typically get dropped by mid-January, I wouldn’t be surprised if many reading this post do not find themselves in this predicament. I want to offer you some encouragement and perhaps a plan that may refresh instead of burden you.

As I explain in the article I am reposting below, many Bible reading programs do not account for human nature. Such things as the unforgiving character of a checklist, the legalistic tendencies of our hearts, and the common disruptions in our calendars can make following a typical Bible reading program frustrating rather than freeing.

As I explain below, I have journeyed through many types of reading plans. That experience, combined with my own desire for Bible reading to be worshipful, meditative, and joyful, led me to put together what I call the STAR Bible Reading Program. If you are already behind and discouraged in your Bible reading, or even if you just want to try a different approach, perhaps this method might revitalize your time in God’s Word.

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Over the years I have used a number of Bible reading programs.  From choosing different books of interest to McCheyne’s classic […]

Defiant Prayer and the Image of God

Several people from my congregation spent the part of the day cooking and preparing a meal for fifty people experiencing homelessness here in Los Angeles. This is the second year that we have participated in this winter shelter which prepares meals and provides overnight housing in our area of the city. It’s a much needed resource for a small number of people compared to the 60,000 people who are living on my city’s streets and in cars and in tents.

As the food was all set out and the perfectly chiffonaded basil was placed as garnish, the new director called the people to line up. One of our members said, “We are going to pray now” and the director told us that we were not allowed to pray.

Not allowed to pray? What should we do?

One said to her, “We always pray before we eat.” She responded, “You are not allowed to pray since we receive government funding.”

I interjected, “We are allowed to pray, we are just not allowed to force people to pray.” I then added, “Even congress opens with prayer.”

We are going to give thanks.

I said to the people, “I am going to pray before our meal.” I went on to […]

The Gospel is Not Paralysed

The following article is a guest post by Sarmishta “Shammi” Venkatesh. This article is a follow-up to yesterday’s post “Two Broken Hearts, One Love.”

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Adoption is risky. As someone who evaded this possibility for several years, I know how it feels. After losing our two children in the womb, I became somewhat withdrawn from children in general. Sure, I taught middle school children Sabbath school. Sure, I baby-sat for several of my friends. But that was all on the Lord’s insistence to heal me. Not once was I able to attach myself to any of these children whom I taught of shared life with. That would mean tearing open my womb again. Seeing the blood spill. The grief would be too much to handle. Adoption was a scary thing for me. How would I be able to bond emotionally with someone whom I have not birthed? How can I love when my womb is still bleeding?

When Venky and I applied to the central adoption agency in India, I had to trust my husband’s lead. Trust my Lord’s sovereignty in closing all other doors. Lean on His Fatherly provisions. If I had to mother a child, I had to receive […]

Two Broken Hearts, One Love

The following article is a guest post by Sarmishta “Shammi” Venkatesh, the wife of a church planter in India. I had the privilege of knowing Venky and Shammi when they were students at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. They were sent out along with another family from the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church of Indianapolis where Gentle Reformation blogger James Faris is the pastor.  

Recently Venky and Shammi went through the process of adopting a young boy named Abhi.  In a beautiful fashion Shammi has chronicled the difficult yet ultimately joyful journey the Lord took them on in this adoption. With their permission, I am sharing today and tomorrow two of her articles in the hope they bring encouragement to a wider audience.

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Today is Children’s Day (Note: This article was originally posted privately on November 14, 2017). Jawaharlal Nehru, one of the founding fathers of our nation and our first Prime Minister loved children, and his birthday is commemorated every year as Children’s day. I think today is a good day to pen down an important milestone for one little child. Abhi is coming home in 21 days! It’s also a worthwhile day to think about children unwanted by the world, whom God urges […]

A Regrettable Future

Imagine a terrible situation.  Imagine yourself off at some point in the future, and that you have ruined your family or friendships; you’ve brought great pain and misery to those who trusted you.  Imagine yourself in a moment where it hits you:  how much you’ve done, how much you’ve lost, how deeply you’ve hurt people – imagine how hard you’d cry; imagine the heart-ripping regret you’d feel, how you’d do anything and give anything to go back to this time in your life, this very day, this very moment, before any of that horror happens so that you can keep far from the path which led to that destruction.  Such joyful thoughts!  In a way, they are.  Here’s how.

Speaking Faithful and True Words

What does it mean to speak truth? What does it mean to be a faithful friend? Is there any tension between the two?

Because Jesus himself is called “Faithful and True” (Revelation 19:11) we know that to be faithful and to be true are not contradictory in the least. Actually, they are virtually synonymous. Yet, too often, we separate them in our lives.

In the West, we historically value truth, especially in terms of accuracy. We tend to be blunt, and when relationships suffer because we have spoken accurately (even if insensitively) we say, “Sometimes the truth hurts!” In these cases, we fail to be true friends.

Those in other cultures historically place a higher value on faithfulness in relationships. Speakers are indirect and may even lie because they do not want to be seen as unfaithful friend by speaking hurtfully.

Nik Ripken helpfully details the mindset of those from such cultures:

In sub-Saharan Africa, relationship is such a highly regarded value that for many tribal Africans that value often takes precedence over truth—which most westerners usually consider the higher of the two values. That difference in perspective can create serious misunderstandings, unnecessary conflict and sometimes even tragic consequences. An African might choose to […]

3GT Episode 67: On Eternity’s Brink

The prof heard the pastor preach judgment at a funeral recently. So it got the guys talking along the lines of Ecclesiastes: “It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.” Nothing like a funeral to make us stand on eternity’s brink and meditate a bit.

So laying our mortality to heart, the guys discuss eternity. C.S. Lewis and Jonathan Edwards are quoted a few times. The denial by many in the church that Christians will go through a final judgment is addressed with Biblical appeals. The relationship between justification by faith and the final judgment is explained, as is the place of eternal rewards. The difference between living carpe diem versus coram Deo is highlighted. The longing for Christ’s return is encouraged.

Hopefully, it’s an edifying, eye-raising episode of 3GT!

https://threeguystheologizing.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/3gt-episode-67.mp3

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Ecclesiology and Womanhood by Rebecca VanDoodewaard

The following article is a guest post by Rebecca VanDoodewaard, author of Uprooted: A Guide for Homesick Christians, Your Future ‘Other Half’: It Matters Whom You Marry, and Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity’s Rebirth. 

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I love your Kingdom, Lord! The house of your abode; the Church our blest Redeemer saved with his own precious blood! For her my tears shall fall; for her my prayers ascend; for her my cares and toils be given ‘till toils and cares shall end.

Our culture tells women that we are to pursue our dreams, our goals, our careers. In the church, that’s more sanctified: we pursue our ministries, our spiritual vision, our goals.

But Scripture tells us something else. Individualism is antithetical to Christian living. And in the many discussions about biblical womanhood, I think that one essential principle is missing: Christian women are to be devoted to the Body of Christ. Because Jesus loved the Church and was willing to die for her, Christlikeness means a similar, sacrificial commitment to the church visible, particularly the local expression of which we are a part. Jesus was incarnated, lived a perfect life, paid the full penalty of sin, and died in service to the church. […]