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Let The Nations Be Glad

“Missions is not the ultimate goal of the church.  Worship is.  Missions exists because worship doesn’t.  Worship is ultimate, not missions, because God is ultimate, not man.  When this age is over, and the countless millions of the redeemed fall on their faces before the throne of God, missions will be no more.  It is a temporary necessity.  But worship abides forever.

Worship, therefore, is the fuel and goal of missions.  It’s the goal of missions because in missions we simply aim to bring the nations into the white-hot enjoyment of God’s glory.  The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God.  ‘The LORD reigns; let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!’ (Psalm 97:1). ‘Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!  Let the nations be glad and sing for joy!’ (Psalm 67:3-4).

But worship is also the fuel of missions.  Passion for God in worship precedes the offer of God in preaching.  You can’t commend what you don’t cherish.  Missionaries will never call out, ‘Let the nations be glad!, who cannot say from the heart, ‘I rejoice in the Lord… I will be glad and exult in […]

How Might the Faith Chapter Read if it Were Written Today?

What if the faith chapter (Hebrews 11) was written today? How might it read?

This thought struck me the other day. Whether Moses or Abraham or Rahab, these saints trusted in God, looking beyond their present circumstances to the One in control of their circumstances. By faith they looked to God, knowing His word and promises. As the opening verse of the faith chapter says,

“Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for.”

So how might we be sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see? What might that faith look like? Here are a few that come to mind.


By faith missionary saints did not consider Muslim lands to be impenetrable, but believed in Him who is able to penetrate the hardest and most hostile of hearts. They said with Paul that they were willing to endure all things for the sake of the elect. And so believing, they went.

By faith the stay-at-home saint looked beyond the midnight feedings and messy diapers to the future, trusting that the Lord would use her to raise godly offspring. She […]

The Guilt (or Innocence?) of Adnan Syed – Serial Podcast

The murder of Hae Min Lee, a popular senior at a Baltimore high-school in 1999, has captured the attention of many Americans. This is due in large part to a well-produced and masterfully presented piece of journalism channeled through the medium of podcasting.  The podcast is called Serial. Over the course of 12 episodes, Sarah Koenig, the host of the show, slowly unpacks the story of Hae Min Lee and her ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, the man charged and sentenced with her murder.

Millions have already downloaded the podcast, and thousands continue to discuss the details with fevered interest in online forums, asking whether or not Adnan Syed is truly guilty.

After first hearing about the podcast through Hello Internet, another excellent podcast, I quickly downloaded the series. I was instantly hooked. I listened to all 12 episodes over the course of a day and a half, hitting the play button whenever I could.

I don’t want to spoil any of the details for those who might want to dive into the teenage world of Adnan Syed, but I will say that his conviction isn’t straightforward. It’s a mess, a confusing tangle of conflicting stories, questionable evidence (at times), and heartbreak.

That’s partly why the […]

Desiring God

I want to call your attention to one of the most paradigm changing and delightfully powerful books I’ve ever read. It is a work written by John Piper, and it is called Desiring God.

Many of you are no doubt familiar with the book. It is already something of a classic. Nevertheless, there might be a few who have never considered its contents. If you are one such person, I want to strongly encourage you to take the time to read it. As a result of wrestling with the ideas articulated by John Piper, my thinking hasn’t been the same. Glorious truths have sprung to life. I see things differently.

What is the central point of the book? It is, of course, always dangerous to try to reduce a concept down to a catch phrase, but Dr. Piper has successfully summarized it as follows:

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.

To state the matter a bit differently, it is overwhelmingly awesome to know that God’s glory and our happiness is not at all at odds. They are essentially one; the magnification of God’s fame results in our increased happiness.

If this strikes you in the least […]

The Christian Traveller

I spent all of Wednesday of this past week travelling from Northern Ireland to Philadelphia, and the hours of sitting in airports and being herded in queues on and off of various modes of transportation reminded me of an excellent article written by my good friend Jeremy Walker and which I am shamelessly reproducing below, with his permission.

I re-read the article while sitting at the departure gate of Boston airport on the final leg of my journey. As I reviewed the previous 14 hours of travel and assessed it in light of Jeremy’s advice I felt that I probably hadn’t done anyone any positive harm (although I suspect anyone sitting within a few seats’ radius of me when I dropped off to sleep may have disagreed! I’m reminded of a comment by Bill Bryson about his sleeping habits while travelling: ‘Most people who go to sleep on a plane look like they just need a blanket; I look like I need medical attention.’) On the other hand I did feel a dissatisfaction that I hadn’t done something more positive to help a fellow traveller – I hadn’t noticed anyone needing help with their bags or looking lost. I’m not sure […]

A Trampling Church – A Brief Reflection on Romans 16:20

It’s an easy verse to miss. Tucked away in the final chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, sandwiched between his personal greetings and doxological conclusion, the following words of promise emerge, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20a). It is an interesting statement, and not a little curious. The allusion is plain enough though. Paul is picking up the language of Genesis 3:15. But instead of referencing Christ, which one would expect, he instead says that Satan is going to be crushed under the feet of the Roman saints. Their heels will suntribo the Serpent, which is to say, trample him or break him into pieces. How can Paul say this? Didn’t Christ crush the head of the Serpent?

Here an awesome truth emerges that sheds light on the mission of the church; a mission that corresponds with God’s strategy of displaying His glory to the principalities and powers in the heavenly realms; a mission that includes our stomping on the enemy. In order to get at this, the doctrinal mountain known as union with Christ needs to be ascended. Only there will the vantage point prove lofty enough to provide a proper perspective.

In […]

Crass Plagiarism? The Problem of the Relationship of the OT to Ancient Near Eastern Literature – John Currid

After listening to these three lectures, I felt like a carnivore at a steakhouse. Everything was tasty and meaty.

Ever since the discovery of ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian texts, the question of the relationship between these ancient texts and that of the OT has been a matter of considerable dispute. On the one side, there are those who see Moses as little more than a borrower of ideas, a kind of plagiarist who unilaterally adopts the literature of his day. Liberals, of course, tend this direction. One such scholar stated the matter like this,

“We have seen that the biblical chronologies are not grounded on historical memory, but are rather based on a very late theological schema that presupposes a very unhistorical worldview. Those efforts to use the biblical narratives for a reconstruction of the history of the Near East, in a manner comparable to the use of the archives at Mari and similar finds, can justly be dismissed as fundamentalist.”(1)

On the other side reside conservative scholars. While there are a number of different approaches and responses, Dr. Currid argues that Moses did in fact utilize the imagery/language, of say, his Egyptian context, but for polemical purposes. Yes, Moses did […]

In that cold and draughty stable…?

With all of our four children in school, my wife and I have sat through quite a few school nativity plays over the last couple of weeks and so been reminded of some of the many misconceptions that have grown up around the account of the birth of Jesus. Having recently read Kenneth Bailey’s very insightful and thought-provoking book ‘Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes’, I thought this might be the place and time to pass on a brief digest of his treatment of the Bethlehem stable.

He begins by reminding us that it is very improbable that Joseph could have turned up with a heavily pregnant Mary and found nowhere in Bethlehem to stay. As a ‘royal’ in Bethlehem from the line of David, Joseph would have been welcome in any home. It would have been an unthinkable breach of hospitality to turn him away from the door, never mind a pregnant woman.

To our Western minds, the word manger makes us think of stables or barns, but this was not the case in traditional Middle Eastern villages. Simple village homes often had just two rooms. One was kept for guests, attached to the end of the house or on the roof (1 […]