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SolaWednesdayFinal

Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1.

What is thy only comfort in life and death?

Answer.

That I, with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ, who, with His precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me, that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation; and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready henceforth to live unto Him.

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Revisiting the Screwtape Letters

Instead, in The Screwtape LettersLewis is giving us a warning, and doing it in such a way that we can’t easily ignore. He is showing us how prone we are to abandon our Lord—not with big decisions, but through tiny, seemingly insignificant ones. Apostasy isn’t a sudden leap, but “the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts” (Kindle location 515). This is a reminder, a warning, we need again and again. Let’s pay attention, shall we?

10 Reasons to be a Seminary Professor

8. You will multiply your spiritual influence. A pastor can do a lot of good in his congregation. But if you train pastors, you can do a lot of good in a lot of congregations. From time to time you do hear of your teaching being passed on to bless different congregations.

Prosperity Preaching: Deceitful and Deadly

Luring people to Christ to get rich is both deceitful and deadly. It’s deceitful because when Jesus himself called us, he said things like: “Any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33). And it’s deadly because the desire to be rich plunges “people into ruin and destruction” (1 Tim. 6:9). So here is my plea to preachers of the gospel.

30 Suggestions for Theological Students and Young Theologians

In response to the question “what advice would you offer to theological students and young theologians as they face a lifetime of theological work?”, John Frame gives the following 30 (!) point answer.

An Extended Debate about the Meaning and the Truth of Calvinism

Although Calvinism is certainly not the dominant theological tradition like it was in the early days of this country, it continues to be a potent strain of religious devotion. Read through the most popular blogs and you’ll see the debate has not died down. When it comes to assessing Geneva, one person’s city on a hill is another person’s pit of hell.

The Distinct, Positive Impact of a Good Dad

The story told by this data, then, suggests that there is a case to make against the fathers who fail to have good-enough relationships with their children. At least on these outcomes, single mothers do about as well for their children, compared to dads who have poor-quality relationships with their children. By contrast, great, and even good-enough dads, appear to make a real difference in their children’s lives.

To Be Tired of Luther…

… is to be tired of life.

Brothers, We are Not Amateurs

Ministers will be judged for their faithfulness, not their academic accomplishments, but it is impossible to be faithful without being rightly equipped. Brother, you are not to be an amateur minister.

SolaWednesdayFinal

1. The Ninety-Five Theses Against Dispensationalism

Therefore, because we believe that dispensationalism has at least crippled the Church in her duty of proclaiming the gospel and discipling the nations, and out of love for the truth and the desire to bring it to light, the following propositions will be discussed in a series of videos written and produced by NiceneCouncil.com under the title The Late Great Planet Church. And as iron sharpens iron we request that every Christian, congregation, and denomination discuss and debate these issues. By the grace of our great Sovereign let us engage in this debate with an open mind and an open Bible. Like the Bereans nearly two thousand years ago, let us “search the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things are so.”

Teaching awkward subjects is just that. Awkward. It’s hard to teach our kids about God’s wrath, about how only people who love and worship Jesus will be in heaven, and an eternity in Hell awaits all who refuse to recognize him for who he is. We want to shave off these hard edges. But if we’re going to be faithful Sunday school teachers, or faithful parents for that matter, we can’t avoid the awkward for our own comfort. Someone stepped out and warned us to flee from the wrath to come. Perhaps our kids need us to do the same.

There is a persistent, parasitic myth buzzing around that academic theological books are wet blankets for your devotional life, or your relationship with Jesus, or something. The source of these myths is typically those who out of principle do not lift books that require cerebral weight training. You won’t hear the same anti-theology myth coming from someone who has popped out on the other side of a dense library.

A “win” for me is not that my attractions shift from same-sex attractions to opposite-sex attractions. For although such a change would be from unnatural desires to natural ones, the struggle with temptation would remain. The theater of battle would have moved, but the fighting would remain as fierce.

No, the “win” for me, and for everyone who struggles with same-sex desires, is a greater love for Christ, and to have a deeper knowledge of the all-sufficiency of his grace. There is a prize greater than heterosexuality — a greater Bread — in the holy One who is what we are not or cannot be, in whom is found our ultimate and eternal satisfaction.

5. The Biggest Contradiction in the Bible

The biggest contradiction is not Romans v James. The biggest contradiction, says James, is a Christian without good works.

6. ‘Yes We Eat Grass and We’re Proud of It,’ Say Congregants Who Were Convinced by ‘Miracle’ Working Preacher

“Yes, we eat grass and we’re proud of it because it demonstrates that, with God’s power, we can do anything,” said 21-year-old law student Rosemary Phetha and member of Pastor Lesego Daniel’s Rabboni Centre Ministries in South Africa in a Times Live report.

Phetha said for more than a year she struggled with a sore throat that only healed after Daniel “turned me into a sheep and instructed me to eat grass.”

Are you. stinkin. kidding. me?

7. Tradition?

You know, if the tradition diverts us from Christ, diverts us from the gospel, diverts us from the words of Scripture, and points us to experiences or points us to some great achievement of some great person, well I think that’s tradition run amuck. But, a tradition that points us to Christ, that points us to the gospel, that very clearly and compellingly says, “You need to listen to the Word of God,” well that’s a tradition that’s worth listening to. That’s a tradition worth holding on to.

8. How Mark Dever Passes Out Authority

Over the years Mark Dever, senior pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., has seen plenty of opportunities to accrue authority, some of which he keeps, many of which he passes out. And the way he passes out authority has shaped the culture of our church in countless ways.

Here are 20 ways he distributes authority, followed by 10 ways this shapes our church culture. Some apply just to lead pastors; many apply to all of us.

SolaWednesdayFinal

1) 7 Ways Social Media Makes Pastors Jobs More Difficult

Facebook can be very helpful to pastors. It helps us to know how to pray. It is a great avenue for communicating your message, making announcements, establishing connections, helping people to laugh, and a host of other things.

2) 9 Lies the Media Likes to Tell About Evangelical Christians

So while there are certainly exceptions, I’ve identified nine common lies perpetuated by people in the media. Granted, there are enough vocal evangelicals to bolster each of these stereotypes, so the media isn’t completely responsible. But nuance is necessary here. Thus this post.

3) The Dark Side of Christian Celebrity

What is amazing is how quickly we can make the switch, how quickly we can turn honor into dishonor and love into hate. From the heights to the depths may be only a matter of weeks or months. Then the book deals are gone, the platforms are removed, the Twitter feed vacant. The higher the climb, the farther the fall. The farther the fall, the longer we have to sit back and watch it all unfold. When it comes to our celebrities, we can be every bit as petty and every bit as cutthroat as the culture around us.

4) One of the Biggest Mistakes Pastors Make

Pastors, I want to talk frankly and, hopefully, with a spirit of love, about one of the biggest mistakes I see many of you make. Most pastors have little emphasis, or sometimes, even knowledge about the content that is taught in groups in their churches.

5) Why Does He Look at Pornography?

Something I have found personally helpful in counseling with both men and women through this issue is helping the counselee identify what motivates him or her to seek out pornography. In some ways we might say the actual viewing of pornography is symptomatic of a deeper worship disorder that is happening in the heart. What motivates and precedes the viewing of pornography? Once that can be identified then more specific biblical counsel can often be offered.

6) The Real Problem With Mark Driscolls ‘Citation Errors’

The real danger here is not plagiarism—it is idolatry.

All idolatry debases the image bearers who become caught up in its train. Idols promise superhuman results, and for a time they can seem to work. But in fact they destroy the true humanity of both those they temporarily elevate and those they anonymously exploit. Nothing good can come from the superhuman figure presented to the world as “Pastor Mark Driscoll”—not for the real human being named Mark Driscoll himself, and not for the image-bearers who may be neglected in his shadow.

7) Do Tummy Aches Disprove God?

My tummy hurts. Ergo, there is no god.

This argument may be absurd, but it’s not intended as a reductio ad absurdum. Although in simplistic form, this enthymeme encapsulates one of the primary atheological arguments—the argument from evil.

8) The Women Who Sold Their Daughters Into Sex Slavery

Everything about this is heartbreaking.

SolaWednesdayFinal

1) The Calvinist

 I am in love with this new poem by John Piper and read by some of my favorite pastors/theologians today.

2) A Holiday Poem by Dr. Lee

 One of my professors, Dr. Lee, gets a little lyrical. I am thankful for him and the rest of the RTS DC staff!

3) Thinking About Thinking About Rap: Unexpected Thoughts Over Thanksgiving

Rap music is not my music. I do not come from a culture in which rap music is the medium of communication and I do not have the ear for it that I have for other forms of music. But I do admire its virtuosity and the hold that is has on so many, for whom it is a first and dominant musical language. I want that language taken for the cause of the Gospel and I pray to see a generation of young Gospel-driven rappers take dominion of that music for the glory of God. I see that happening now, and I rejoice in it. I want to see them grow even more in influence, reaching people I cannot reach with music that will reach millions who desperately need the Gospel. The same way that folks who first heard Bach desperately needed to hear the Gospel.

4) ‘Genderqueer’ rising: Colleges welcome kids who identify as neither male nor female

It’s an exercise that might seem superfluous given that Mills, a small and leafy liberal arts school historically referred to as the Vassar of the West, only admits women as undergraduates. Yet increasingly, the “shes” and “hers” that dominate the introductions are keeping third-person company with “they,” ”ze” and other neutral alternatives meant to convey a more generous notion of gender.

“Because I go to an all-women’s college, a lot of people are like, ‘If you don’t identify as a woman, how did you get in?’” said sophomore Skylar Crownover, 19, who is president of Mouthing Off! and prefers to be mentioned as a singular they, but also answers to he. “I just tell them the application asks you to mark your sex and I did. It didn’t ask me for my gender.”

5) Seven Thoughts on Pastors Writing Books

And one last thought for my fellow authors: let’s err on the side of under-promotion. I get it. I know we want our message to get out there. I know a certain amount of promotion is unavoidable (hey, I made two videos for my last book). But don’t pressure your friends to do you favors. Don’t make your book sound like the greatest thing since the five solas. Don’t pass along all the kudos about your stuff. “Let another praise you, and when they do, go ahead and retweet your awesomeness”—I don’t think that’s what Proverbs had in mind. Better to sell fewer books than to look like a bozo getting to the top of the best sellers list. Writing is a privilege, and that should make us humble not hucksters.

6) Federal Judge Declares Clergy Housing Exemption to be Unconstitutional 

The Story: A federal judge has ruled that an Internal Revenue Service exemption that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances is unconstitutional. According to Religion News Service, the exemption applies to an estimated 44,000 ministers, priests, rabbis, imams and others. If the ruling stands, some clergy members could experience an estimated 5 to 10 percent cut in take-home pay.

7) The C.S. Lewis You Never Knew 

The Christian icon whose image we see in bookstores may first seem distant. He spoke and dressed like a prim Englishman from another time. But his life was messy, contradictory and tarnished by thwarted dreams.

Perhaps Lewis still speaks to us because we when we look closer at his life, he’s really not that unusual.

We see ourselves.

8) How Can Jesus be the Only Way?

I greatly appreciate Michael Horton’s short and succinct answer to this question.

9) Stopping an Affair Before it Begins

Affairs do not begin with sex. Falling into bed with a man who is not your husband or a woman who is not your wife is simply one step in a long chain of events, one decision in a long series of poor decisions.