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Archive | Christian Living

A Helpful Marital Thought

In Christian marriage two saints, who still have plenty of sin’s remnant clinging to them, form a lifelong union. This means then, with the baring of the soul’s wiring that marriage exposes, sparks are going to fly.  Marital conflict is inevitable.

So when the sea of anger begins rising, the emotional waves start rolling, and the marital boat is rocking, what is one immediate way to batten down the hatches to prevent the ship from capsizing?  Bring to mind that this conflict is for your benefit, to help you become more like Christ.  Remember that Jesus did not only speak peace and calm the sea for his scared disciples out in the boat in the storm.  Before this, while watching from a mountain above as He prayed, He sent the storm to them so they could grow in their holiness by experiencing Him in new ways.

Brooks, Baseball, and Battles Among Believers

The Puritans are derided as legalistic killjoys whose meticulous writings tend to parse the life out of true piety.  Even a quick overview of their work will reveal their ability to write exhaustively on a topic and to exhaust the reader in the process!  However, the careful, charitable reader of Puritan works will spy in them a faith of studied simplicity, one from which we could benefit in the midst of current battles among believers.

Preaching Tolerance

Understandably, we in the church are pretty wary when it comes to tolerance. As so many college freshmen, we’ve had the idea (really, the doctrine) of tolerance preached at us from most corners of our society. And we rightly push back, rejecting postmodern tolerance as the license to sin that it often is. But are we throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Does the Bible have something to say about the practice of tolerance in the church of Jesus? As it turns out…

Browse Worthy: Rosaria Butterfield

Gentle Reformation had every intention of featuring our friend Rosaria Butterfield and promoting the wonderful story of her spiritual journey to Christ in the book The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert.  We even began arranging an interview with her and Pastor Ken Smith, who was the earthen vessel the Lord used to make Christ known to her.  However, we are still working on our technology here and were unable to conduct the audio interview we wanted.  We think some friends will be doing that interview soon, and we will make that known when it becomes available.

Rosaria’s story is an amazing one.  The simple one-sentence summary is that a tenured English professor at a large university who was lecturing and writing on Queer Theory is now a Reformed Presbyterian preacher’s wife.  Only by the grace of our Lord Jesus!  Her book tells this amazing journey, with her abilities to write with clarity, humor, gut-wrenching honesty – all the while avoiding sensationalism – on full display.  I especially believe the church needs to stand before the mirror of this book in self-evaluation by hearing her penetrating insights on ministering to the lost of our day.

My Rocky Mountain High

Over the holiday break my wife and I spent a delightful extended weekend in Colorado.  While journeying through the streets of Colorado Springs, one of our hosts pointed out the new marijuana shops that have opened up since the legalization took effect.  All I can say is that some may get their “Colorado Rocky Mountain High” from cannabis, but ours came from the creation and especially the church!

What majesty is not only seen but felt as you drive or stand along the towering Rockies!  The quietness and the power overwhelm, humbling you beneath their splendor.  We spent a few days with our dear friends John & Angi Hindman and their family in Longmont.  One day we drove up into the mountains to Brainerd Lake, with plans to hike around it a bit.  But by the time we arrived the temperature had plummeted to single digits and the winds blew strong.  So we remained in the van, enjoying the view as we partook of a hot soup and snack picnic.  On the way back down, we happened upon the scene of a bull moose lumbering across a snow-covered field.  As I had driven all over a park in Canada a few […]

Hallowed Memories: Happy New Year!

One my greatest New Year’s Eve/Day highlights is singing the 77th Psalm to the tune Auld Lang Syne. For me, this tradition began in Grand Rapids, MI, in the manse of Rev. and Mrs. Lanning. Bringing in the new year with God’s Word sung is a marvelous tradition that I have brought into my home and promoted among my congregation in Los Angeles.

The 77th Psalm begins with the psalmist crying out to God and refusing to be comforted. He then begins to recall the days of old and in his heart’s meditation he confronts himself with a series of self-examining questions.

Self-examination at the end of year and at the beginning of a new year is worthy of our consideration as Christians. Here are some of the psalmist’s questions that you may also examine yourself as you begin 2013:

Will the Lord cast off forever?  Will he be favorable no more?  Has his mercy ceased forever?  Has his favor failed forevermore? Has God forgotten to be gracious? Has he shut up mercy in anger? What does the psalmist conclude following examining the character of God in relationship to his merciless perception? 

You see, in these questions we find the obvious! Jesus is […]

How Romantic Comedies Are Destroying the World …

C.S. Lewis opens his brilliant, prophetic series of lectures entitled The Abolition of Man with these words:  “I doubt whether we are sufficiently attentive to the importance of elementary text books.”  Lewis alerts his audience to particular lessons children in his day were learning about values, ethics and knowledge – lessons which, if uncritically absorbed into our souls, gut our very humanity.  How this dehumanizing happens, I’ll not spoil for you – please read the book if you’ve not already!  Suffice it to say, Lewis was right.

Browse Worthy: More Meditative Thoughts on Tragedy

Jared’s post on Saturday helped me a great deal to think in a Biblical way about the tragedy in Connecticut.  We need this clear rather than emotive thinking at times such as these.  Instead of running to the Drudge Report, mainstream media news, or Facebook for more informational overload (which leads to emotional overload), why not meditate in a more helpful manner?  How so?

First, follow the advice of David Murray and stop the “Peeping Tom” syndrome news agencies encourage when situations like this occur. Next, let an overseas missionary lovingly remind you of how prevalent and unusual tragedy really is in this sin-cursed world.  Then, let  Al Mohler give you further theological instruction on how to process, pray, and discuss the awful brokenness sin has brought with the compassion and victory of Christ.

I cannot believe one reporter actually interviewed, with the permission of her parents, a little surviving girl near the scene of the tragedy who had just left the school.  It was made worse when, seeing she was not able to say much, he displayed his mindlessness further by dismissing her with these words: “Go and enjoy the day with your family.”

May we not, in the virtual world of the internet, do the […]

Browse Worthy: Good Works’ Relationship to God

Though clearly our aim is not to focus on controversial issues on Gentle Reformation, there are times to make known debates when doing so will help sharpen the mind of the church on vital topics. This is especially important when influential pastors and authors are involved.  I do so again today.

Recently I drew your attention to a series of posts written about the doctrine of total depravity and the Christian.  The gifted pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Tullian Tchividjian, created a stir because of the way his article wed too strongly the believer with an ongoing depravity.

Tchividjian has sought to overcome the concerns expressed by others with a new post entitled “God Doesn’t Need Your Good Works…But Your Neighbor Does.”  Sadly, despite much truth in his article, it will only raise further concerns.  If “wedding” was the problem in his first post, “divorcing” is the problem here as he separates too strongly sanctification from God Himself.  The statement from his article that summarizes its theme would be this: “The aim and direction of good works are horizontal, not vertical.”  According to numerous passages, including Matthew 25:31-46 where Jesus taught that believers will be rewarded on Judgment Day according to good works that ultimately […]

Books That Have Shaped Our Lives

While imprisoned in a dank cell, the Apostle Paul made a request.  He asked Timothy to bring him three things.  “When you come,” he said, “bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.” (2 Tim 4:13)

It certainly stirs the imagination to think what those books and parchments must have been.  As for the latter, they were almost certainly the Scriptures.  Would not this faithful servant desire above all else the Word of God?  One can easily picture him reading the scroll of Isaiah in the dim light.  So they were most likely Holy Writ.

But what of the books?  What might they have been?

Here we can only guess.  Whatever they were, Paul desired to have them.  He wanted to pore over them again in the remaining time allotted to him.

Books are undoubtedly important.  By inscribing various shaped symbols onto a clean sheet of paper, the very ideas and imaginations of men are communicated.  We can be lifted out of our world into another, where we encounter all manner of strange creatures and places.  We can be shown more clearly man’s true nature through the art of story.  And we can actually […]