Power in the Path of Weakness

I want to quickly jot down a couple thoughts and the blog seemed as good a place as any. The power of God in the weakness of man is not just the theme of 2 Corinthians (see 2 Cor 12:9) – the book which I’m currently expounding in our church – but one that courses through the whole of the Bible. I think of Psalm 20:7-8:

Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God. They collapse and fall, but we rise and stand upright.

Yet, I was surprised to find it again in Jeremiah 38, this morning. In this chapter, Jeremiah presents the rebellious regent, Zedekiah, with his options before the encircling Babylonians in vv. 17-18:

Then Jeremiah said to Zedekiah, “Thus says the LORD, the God of hosts, the God of Israel: If you will surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then your life shall be spared, and this city shall not be burned with fire, and you and your house shall live. But if you do not surrender to the officials of the king of Babylon, then this city shall be given into the hand of the Chaldeans, and they shall burn it with fire, and you shall not escape from their hand”

Now that’s counter-intuitive! Surrender and survive? That would’ve seemed highly unlikely for Zedekiah. With his leadership in the rebellion against Babylon, his execution would have been a given should Jerusalem fall and he be captured. And Zedekiah expresses that very fear next in vv. 19-20:

King Zedekiah said to Jeremiah, “I am afraid of the Judeans who have deserted to the Chaldeans, lest I be handed over to them and they deal cruelly with me.” Jeremiah said, “You shall not be given to them. Obey now the voice of the Lord in what I say to you, and it shall be well with you, and your life shall be spared.”

And there it is again in Jeremiah’s assurance, obey the Lord’s voice and it shall be well with you. Trust nothing you really want to trust, Zedekiah – your military, your power, your walls, or your national alliances – and enter the path of (human) weakness to know that the Lord’s power will be enough. Your life will be spared. This was a path that Jeremiah himself walked in this chapter, as he spoke God’s truth to wicked power and was preserved from the evil men who attempted to take his life (Jer 38:2-6, 13). Even to the end amid the siege, Jeremiah was spared (Jer 38:28).

Jeremiah’s call to Zedekiah at that unique point in history is the call that the Lord extends to all His people at all times – enter the counter-intuitive path of weakness and obey His voice. Obey His voice, irrespective of how weak of a position it puts you in and how uncertain or insecure the path of obedience appears. Do not rely on your money, your reputation, your career and its network(s), or your bodily strength. Rely on the Lord and know that He is able to spare your life even in the path that would otherwise seem to be certain death.

Stephen Magee has penned an appropriate prayer for Jeremiah 38 in A Book of Prayers:

Merciful God, the servants of Your Word are in great need.  Some are being threatened by those around them.  Others are already in prison or have had their property confiscated from them.  Appoint someone to help them today, that they might have food to eat, healing for their illnesses, aid for their financial distress, friendship for their loneliness, and especially Your strong presence in their lives.  Make them to be men of great courage.  Though the wicked seek their lives, You are able to preserve Your servants again this day.  Through all this distress, help those who are true messengers of Your Son to continue with the fullness of Your holy counsel.  Though their homes and even their families be destroyed, preserve Your servants through every trial.

God is able to preserve His servants, for His power is made perfect in their weakness (2 Cor 12:9).

Upholding Polity out of Christian Love

On the Lord’s Day when our congregation celebrates the Lord’s Supper, we read the following statement:

The sacrament of the Lord’s Supper or “communion” is a blessed privilege given by Christ to the people of His Church, for those who have a saving interest in His body and blood. It is not intended for those outside the faith. We believe the sharing of the bread and cup is intended for believers who are walking in obedience to Christ. That is, those who have testified of their faith, been baptized and joined themselves to and are in good standing in a Bible-believing church. To eat of the bread and drink the cup inappropriately incurs God’s judgment (1Cor. 11:29.) If you are unsure as to whether you should partake it would be best to abstain.

In past eras of church history, Christians understood this to be a wise and necessary practice. It was called “fencing the table,” purposefully excluding from the Lord’s Supper those who made a profession of Christian faith that lacked credibility. In other words, people who professed faith in Christ but who’d not yet followed the authoritative pattern of repentance and faith that Christ Himself has given His disciples in the New Testament.

First Water, Then Wine

In Scripture it’s unequivocally assumed that one’s union with Christ and His Church will be demonstrated in baptism (see Rom 6:3-4; Col 2:12; Eph 4:5), followed by membership in a local church and consequent communion with that church in the Lord’s Supper. Baptism and the Lord’s Supper serve respectively as the initiating and continuing acts of Christian faith.

Mark Dever and Paul Alexandar explain this as follows in The Deliberate Church (p. 108):

Baptism is our initial symbolic act of obedience that identifies us as disciples, protecting the regeneracy of church membership as we enter the front door of the church. Participation in the Lord’s Supper is a continuing symbolic act of unity and fellowship in Christ that identifies us as those who are continuing members of the church in good standing.

In his Systematic Theology (p. 968), Wayne Grudem has also recognized this basic point in Scripture:

The Lord Jesus instituted two ordinances (or sacraments) to be observed by the church.… baptism, an ordinance that is only observed once by each person, as a sign of the beginning of his or her Christian life.… the Lord’s Supper, an ordinance that is to be observed repeatedly throughout our Christian lives, as a sign of continuing in fellowship with Christ.

In the Bible, it really is as straightforward as Pop-Tart directions: 1. Repent of unbelief and trust in the Lord Jesus. 2. Publicly declare repentance and faith by immersion in water administered by a local church. 3. Continue discipleship with the church, including receiving the bread and cup at the Lord’s Supper. That’s it! Enjoy the crispy outside, with a warm and tasty filling.

And what this means at the end of the day is that without having been baptized and formally associated with a local church, the credibility of any claim to trust and obey Christ as Lord is rightly called into question. Therefore, to participate in the Lord’s Supper would lack any coherence to the Christian life authoritatively declared to us in the Bible and the wisdom of Christ’s mind revealed therein. Pardon the crass illustration, but it’d really be not too dissimilar to moving-in together before you’ve actually entered the marriage covenant at a wedding ceremony.

Losing Our Religious Polity

Owing to a neglect of the most basic and historic applications of the Bible in today’s evangelical churches, our practice of fencing the table likely gets the most inquisition from visitors (followed closely after why we pray and read the Bible so much, strange questions indeed from those who apparently want to be Christians!). Their line of questioning usually follows some version of how this practice could be consistent with Christ’s love. If pressed for time, I usually reply that it must be since the same Christ whose loved us has given us this practice in His Word.

But I really do understand why professing Christians ask these questions. For over a century, the vast majority of American Christians have been taught through both example and clear exhortation that Christian witness in our world means removing fences, not erecting them. Accordingly, most American Christians assume that a church’s polity – how a local church is governed and practices her faith in Christ – involves matters that are totally indifferent at best and at worst are just plain mean.

So I’m repeatedly given the opportunity to explain that to quite the contrary, we believe serious and counter-cultural application of the Bible’s teaching on a church’s polity is how we are to be faithful to the Lord and wise in this world. Owing to our God’s character, the faithful application of His Word is always love defined (see Exod 34:6-7; 1 John 4:7-12), so fencing the Lord’s Table is really an expression of our love for others. We will continue our practice for this timeless reason, but also for one more reason – one that’s a bit pressing.

The current cultural pressures on American Christians will ultimately vindicate that our convictions about applying biblical polity are right. But more on that in our next post.

The Gospel Coalition and the Cliff Ahead

He just wasn’t paying attention. There can be not doubt that this husband had zero intention of forever shattering his life and marriage. Nonetheless that’s what sadly happened on March 28th when he drove his car off a partially demolished bridge in Chicago while traveling to a family event with his wife. After plummeting 37 feet, their car exploded into flames and his wife was tragically killed, unable to escape the wreckage.

The bridge had been demolished for nearly 6 years and many signs preceded its end into a sheer cliff. There were orange cones and large barrels, concrete barricades, and even massive signs which read, “ROAD CLOSED.” But he sped past them all. How can you miss such obvious signs? Only if you’re not looking for them. That is, if you’re being distracted by something that seems more urgent and eye-catching. In this case, it was his car’s GPS. So intent on following the arrows and commands through an unfamiliar part of town, this poor man stared at a computerized navigational system right off a bridge. GPS technology was more captivating than the obvious signs warning of a cliff ahead.

Lately, I’ve been wondering whether the same is true for The Gospel Coalition. Being so captivated by its nuanced arguments and influence that it’s ignoring the signs to the obvious as it barrels along.

The Route TGC Seems to Be Taking

Let me be clear and unequivocal, I appreciate so much of what TGC has done and continues to do. There are few other collections of living Christian leaders and authors who’ve been more influential in my life and pastoral ministry. I am one of the Young, Restless, and Reformed of which Mr. Hansen wrote. And, yes, if you’ve not yet noticed the header of my blog, Jonathan Edwards is my homeboy.

But notwithstanding all the good efforts of TGC to rally Christians to the centrality of the Gospel in our generation, I cannot remain silent to the signs that’d be obvious if one only looks through the windshield. TGC has turned onto a bridge that ends in mid-air.

Past Warning Signs for TGC

There’s been no lack of previous warnings, like the initial row of orange cones. Take, for example, those of the Mortification of Spin team – see Todd Pruitt, Standing Up to Your Friends:

The Gospel Coalition has done some very helpful things during their relatively brief history…. Not least of my concerns is the fact that they seem to be functioning in some ways as a denomination. They have a statement of faith, a catechism, and a network of affiliated churches. But to whom are they accountable? TGC is having great influence in many churches. But to whom do they answer? There also seems to be a stubborn refusal to answer valid questions about certain controversies within the ranks of their leadership.

And Carl Trueman’s When It’s Time for Some RICO Indictments:

Evangelical racketeering, whereby people with little or no church accountability wield huge church power, is a positive menace. The passion that drives the early formation of a parachurch group soon requires organization. Organization, of course, demands the development of a staff and a payroll. That then brings temptations: the bigger an organization, the more influence it can wield and the more money it can command…. In Reformed circles evangelical racketeering is more common than many of the evangelical public realize.  Huge money is being made behind the scenes, which helps to explain the manner in which even friendly critics are often treated by such organizations.  It also explains the comparative silence about these things in the public sphere: the men of stature who could and should speak out are often invested in the racket themselves and thus co-opted for the cause.

You may also want to listen to MOS’s current podcast on a TGC initiative, Reinventing the Worship Wheel.

We’d be remiss however note to observe that pride of place belongs to Team Pyro, where Phil Johnson noted with prescience in 2011, Not for the Stout of Heart, Either, Apparently:

The collective leadership of TGC are going to have to decide which is more important: the Gospel, or the Coalition. (emphasis in original)

The Waving Red Flag for TGC

However, this week I struck by what seemed to be a large ROAD CLOSED sign with Bethany Jenkins’ article, Why Are Non-Christians TGC15 Panelists? She argues that Christians can partner with and apparently learn from unbelievers as “co-belligerents” against our “common enemy” of racial injustice. By citing trustworthy leaders of the past, like Abraham Kuyper and Francis Schaeffer, and present, like Al Mohler, as well as referencing the incendiary police-shootings in Sanford, FL and Ferguson, MO, Jenkins offers a nuanced and compelling argument.

And one that’s as bright and orange as a highway workers’ vest.

What initially struck me as an exercise in missing the obvious is Jenkins’ reliance upon the “co-belligerent” concept, which she says was “important to Schaeffer and his work.” However… she astonishingly fails to add that Schaeffer’s theory died a public and painful death for American evangelicals during the downfall of the Moral Majority in the late 80’s and 90’s! Of course, that was concurrent with the swift demise of the neo-evangelical movement, which is perhaps best encapsulated by Fuller Seminary’s implosion in recent decades from its original orthodoxy. For a compelling account of the failed experiment to marry Reformed orthodoxy with influence in American intellectual and popular culture, see George Marsden’s Reforming Fundamentalism.

Suffice to say, I was taken aback by the sighting of Schaeffer’s theory of co-belligerence when we’ve watched its fruit rot in our lifetimes.

TGC and the Opposite of the Gospel

There’s more to say (and post), but for now I’d like to linger on just this significant point. TGC does not only seem to be repeating a past from which they should be learning – it’s not even a distant past. In fact, it’s a past with which many of the TGC members were personally involved.

We do well to heed the words of the Doctor, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who’s concerns for British evangelicals in his day were vindicated as entirely accurate. In What Is An Evangelical?, Lloyd-Jones remarked with characteristic insight (pp. 10-11):

This is a principle which we have got to recognize. It is no use assuming that because a thing has started correctly it is going to continue to be correct. There is a process at work, because of sin and evil, which tends to produce not only change but even degeneration.

Nor is this all. There is something further to point out as we look at the history of the church throughout the centuries. It is that this process of change is never a sudden one. It is always a subtle and slow process. You remember our Lord’s own comparison about moth and rust [Matt 6:19]. Rusting is a very slow process and if you do not watch out it will have developed in such an insidious manner that the first you know about it is that a girder on a bridge, or something like that, is broken.

How you begin does not guarantee how you’ll end. This is the irony of Jenkins’ reassurance in her introduction: “TGC Council Members come together to accomplish the same fundamental goal—to keep the gospel central in preaching, teaching, and living.” Stating your (good) mission statement is not a magic wand that cleanses all of your actions. Mission statements and organizational titles, however prominently placed and frequently reasserted, do not secure proper outcomes. Ray Ortlund, Jr. has picked-up Lloyd-Jones’ point in his excellent primer The Gospel (p. 17): “A church with the truth of the gospel in its theology can produce the opposite of the gospel in its practice.”

Or we might say, just because “Gospel” is your middle name does not mean the gospel is being consistently practiced by your “Coalition.”

Again, I sincerely appreciate TGC and do pray that the brothers with influence in it are pointing out to whoever’s driving that the bridge they’re on is showing signs rust and decay in its girders. There’s plenty of orange cones and barricades, but they’ll first have to lift their heads up from the GPS.

In a subsequent post, I will interact with Jenkins’ breath-taking (mis)use of the Gospel preached by both the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul.

Paul Washer on How to See an Hour of Your Life

During an interview at The Master’s Seminary in 2013, Paul Washer offered an insightful perspective as to how missionaries should view their lives – it’s applicable to every Christian [at 1:20:39]:

Here’s what I want you to see. Every person is like a bunch of links of chain, alright. And they could be a really long and powerful chain, but they’re broken-up here and here and here and here. If I spend, like I did with two guys from – one guy from Australia and one guy from New Zealand, today. I just had an hour with them. But in that one hour, I maybe put one link that put two segments together.

That’s the way I want you to see your life…. Because it’s amazing, if you’re willing to pour your life out with the truth that’s been poured in you, God will use you. He’ll use you mightily. Do that. Do that.

Washer’s metaphor of people as broken chain-link is not without biblical precedent. When Paul says that God has given ministers to “equip the saints” (Eph 4:12), the Greek word for “equip” (καταρτισμός) has the idea of “repair” – the related verb is used of Jesus’ disciples “mending their nets” (see Matt 4:21). In other words, God has given us truth-speaking for men-mending (Eph 4:11-15).

But what he hits on is the main issue in discipleship for the Church, today. I do not believe the main issue in the spread of the Gospel and the growth of the Church, whether spiritually or numerically, is that Christians should just “do more.” Rather the great hindrance to the growth of our ministry is we think far too little of what we can do.

If every encounter in the course of our daily lives was prayerfully entered as an opportunity to join a couple links of chain together – or mending a hole in the net – how much stronger, vibrant, powerful, and bigger would the Church be?

Seriously, if you see your life this way, God will use you and the Gospel will continue to bear fruit and grow in the world (Col 1:5-6). Do not spend as much time worrying about what you’re not doing, as much as doing what you can.

NB, If you’re unsure as to how to view your daily schedule through this lens of discipleship, be sure to check-out Jonathan Leeman’s A Discipler’s Daily Itinerary for some practical tips.

If We Confess Our Sins, Our Souls Will Grow

One component that will be conspicuously absent from most church gatherings tomorrow will be the confession of sin – in public worship and in the private interactions amongst church members. Yet, how much does this aid the spread of sin within our churches!

Dever and Alexander in The Deliberate Church (pp. 68-69) give an excellent description and metaphor of how confession works for our good:

Confessing our sins to one another makes us bring our sins out into the light, where they can be dealt with in the context of mutually sanctifying friendships in which people are strengthening each other through prayer, encouragement, and application of the Word.

Sin needs darkness to grow – it needs isolation disguised as “privacy,” and prideful self-sufficiency disguised as “strength.” Once these conditions prevail, sin is watered with the acid of shame, which then makes darkness appear more attractive to the sinner than light. But when we walk in the light by confessing our sins, we realize that we are not alone in our struggles, and we open ourselves to the protective rebukes and loving corrections that function as pesticides to curb the destructive and enslaving potential of habitual sin.

A well said application of 1 John 1:5-10! (Really, this book is full of such gems – put The Deliberate Church on your short list of “must read”).

Our sin thrives in the darkness (see Eph 5:6-14), but we have the light of God in the Son, through His Word, and amongst one another as a church. When Christians realize that darkness is destructive to their souls by allowing the spread of sin, we can again embrace rebukes as protective.

Confess your sin and find that the publicity is designed by God to work like a great fertilizer – it gives growth to your soul, while killing the weeds of sin.

You’ll Need Two Heaps for Life

A lot has happened since my last blog on May 2nd, both in life and ministry. I look forward to inching back into the surreal world of blogging soon to discuss some of how the Lord has led and instructed me in the midst of it.

For now, I wanted to share the pastoral wisdom of 18th century colonial leader, Cotton Mather, which I recently stumbled upon. My own experiences have proven it’s truth. Like it or not, you’re going to need two “heaps”:

It may not be amiss for you to have two heaps; a heap of unintelligibles and a heap of incurables.

You will meet with some unaccountable and some incomprehensible things, particularly in the conduct of many people. Throw them into your heap of unintelligibles; leave them there. Trouble your mind no further; hope the best or think no more about them.

You will meet with some unpersuadable people; no council, no reason, will do any thing upon the obstinate, especially as to the making of due submissions upon offences. Throw them into the heap of incurables; leave them there. And so do you go on, to do as you can, what you have to do.

Let not the crooked things that cannot be made straight, encumber you.

Now that’s wisdom with some shoe-leather from Mather’s Student and Preacher!

Personally, I prefer a clean lawn, free of leaves and any piles left behind. Pristine and green. But life on this side of Romans 8:21 is not like that. Until we “obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God,” there will remain unintelligble and incurable situations and, even (especially?)… people. Do what you can, pray as you must, but then “leave them there” and do not let what cannot be solved deter you from what can.

That’s priceless for a pastor – and I imagine for all of us who “desire a better country” (Heb 11:16). The grass won’t be truly green till we get there. Until then, you’ll need two heaps.

Book Note: Great Kings of the Bible

Who is the greatest King over the people of God? If you, or any of your children, do not say, “Jesus,” then you would be helped by Deepak Reju’s children’s book, Great Kings of the Bible: How Jesus is Greater than Saul, David and Solomon. Too often, the narrative of the kings of Israel in the Old Testament is applied solely by way of example. This is especially true for children’s literature and curricula, where the punchline is often “Do not be like Saul” or “Do be like David.”

But not only are the Old Testament narratives not that simple – Saul did do some faithful things and David did do some really horrendous things! – that is not their point! What we are to cultivate in the lives of the great kings of Israel is not merely moral exemplars, but the expectation and longing for the greatest king to come.

Reju’s work accomplishes this in a straightforward for children. He summarizes the lives of Saul, David, and Solomon in a clear fashion that is age-appropriate for children, while avoiding any glib generalities – Saul’s death is explained, along with David’s murderous infidelity. At the end of each king’s story, the life of the sinful and imperfect king is contrasted with that of the king to come. This refrain punctuates the book: “… but Jesus rose again and became the greatest of all kings.”

Near the end of David’s story, Reju explains:

Unlike David, Jesus never killed anyone. He used his power to raise the dead to life. Jesus was never selfish, unjust, arrogant or proud. He served the sick, the poor, and the needy. He loved those who were despised and welcomed the outcasts. he showed mercy to even the ‘worst’ of sinners and many whom no one else would love. He humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross! Because of Jesus’ death on the cross, God made Jesus the greatest of all kings.

With Great Kings of the Bible, Reju offers help to the parent, Sunday School teacher, or reading-age child. Not only is it an understandable and accurate summary of a vital part of Israel’s history from Saul through Solomon, it is a biblicaly faithful guide to our promised and eternal King, the Lord Jesus. With engaging illustrations, easy prose, and well-divided sections, this will be a welcome resource for family worship, preparation for Sunday School teachers, and… even those adults who’re still trying to understand what 1 Samuel – 2 Kings has to do with them.

I received a free copy of Great Kings of the Bible from Christian Focus for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review, these opinions are my own.

Raising a Generation to Send

John Paton risked life and limb in the 19th century to preach the Gospel to cannibals on the South Pacific islands of the New Hebrides. Despite the deaths of his wife and four children, not to mention more than one attempt on his own life, Paton persevered. In the end, he created a written language for the native peoples, translating the New Testament into it, and saw many conversions, founding a church and training other evangelists and leaders to extend the work.

Much of his zeal for the work of the Gospel Paton attributed to a simple source – the influence of his father during his years growing up in Scotland. In his Autobiography, Paton gives us a snapshot of what that meant:

How much my father’s prayers at this time impressed me I can never explain, nor could any stranger understand. When, on his knees and all of us kneeling around him in Family Worship, he poured out his whole soul with tears for the conversion of the Heathen world to the service of Jesus, and for every personal and domestic need, we all felt as if in the presence of the living Savior, and learned to know and love him as our Divine friend.

On the Lord’s Day, I was enabled to preach from Romans 15:18-24, Will We Finish the Gospel? And from that text, we observe that the Gospel is fulfilled (Rom 15:19) by our efforts in establishing and strengthening local churches around the world. Thisis the Great Commission we’ve been given, making disciples who publicly identify with Christ in baptism and submit to everything He’s taught in His Word (Matt 28:19-20).

Certainly, John Piper’s admonition is apt: “There are three possibilities with the Great Commission. You can go. You can send. Or you can be disobedient. Ignoring the cause is not a Christian option” (fromBrothers, We Are Not Professionals, p. 187). But we may add a fourth possibility. We can go, we can send… and we can raise a generation to send!

How do we give the next generation in our homes a biblical mindset for missions? Here are six simple suggestions that any Christian family could incorporate.

1. Give them a global mindset.

When you’re under four feet tall and live your life in a 20 mile radius, thinking globally takes some assistance. A great way to begin is by having an actual globe – Google Earth will not help much here. Give your children some perception of the depth and widths of the world by talking over the globe. Be sure to discuss how the entire thing is actually in God’s hands and how people from all of it must belong to Christ (Rev 5:9; 7:9). In the same vein, you can redeem family TV time by watching travel shows or documentaries to discuss together all the regions and peoples of the world who are yet without hope or our God (Eph 2:12).

2. Visit the world next door.

We’re an immigrant nation, so the world has conveniently located itself nearby – with restaurants to boot! On family outings, incorporate the experience of different cultures and regions of the world through restaurants, museums, and purposeful visits with neighbors and friends. Plan different crafts and games with your kids, using resources like Fun Around the World. By experiencing new things, learning basic words and phrases in different languages, and even tasting “funny food,” we help raise their awareness of the world around us and those “who have never heard” (Rom 15:21).

3. Pray together for the nations.

Incorporate simple discussions and prayer for various people groups around the world during family worship. You can keep a copy of Operation World next to your Bibles or use websites like joshuaproject.net (which has a helpfully updated site). Or just follow along with the Prayer Focus in your church’s weekly newsletter and Prayer Bulletin.

4. Pray for missionaries.

During family prayers, adopt a simple method to focus on a particular missionary and/or missionary family. In our home, it has helped to put cards and pictures of missionary families on a ring next to our family worship books. That way we remember to pray for a different missionary family, regularly. Before praying, talk with your kids about where they live (point it out on that globe!) and what life is like for them there. Encourage your children to personally pray for any missionary children.

5. Give to missions.

Incorporate giving to Gospel work as you instruct your children in stewardship. Teach them about setting aside monies to contribute to partnerships or special projects. Why not even save up for a gift for the missionary’s children for whom you’re praying?

6. Discuss missions as a great ambition.

I saved this for last, because it is the hardest. Are you willing to surrender your most precious gifts for the Gospel and God’s glory among the nations – you definitely can’t fake it. Being a missionary is not glamorous nor is it easy, stable, or safe, but itisa great ambition (Rom 15:20)! Do you believe that – even for yourchildren?

When you talk with them about their future, do they hear an emphasis on security, financial stability, and something that you’d be proud to tell your friends? Or do they get a note of service, sacrifice, and self-denial for the glory of Christ? Truth be told, among the greatest hindrances to young people who desire a life on the mission field are the expectations of the very people who first taught them the Gospel – their Christian parents. Do your children know that you’d be grateful if they spent their lives in Gospel work – even if that meant your grandchildren were raised 5,000 miles away? Can you deny your own expectations for your own children for the sake of Christ and the gospel’s (Mark 8:35)? We all want our children to have a better life than we have. And they can, they could be missionaries!


One pastor has wisely remarked: “What you do for God beyond your home will not typically be greater than what you practice with God within your home.” This is true even for the great cause of the Gospel around our world. And it ought to be a great encouragement to every parent.

We may not be the next Jon Paton or William Carey or Andrew Fuller… but we could be raising them. May the Lord grant us such a privilege and give us the grace to establish His name among the nations through the little ones in our home.

Even the Iniquity of Our Holy Things

Christ gave Himself “for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works (Titus 2:14). As we who are in Christ are zealous for good, even the good of preparing to worship Him tomorrow, we rejoice that the goodness of our worship is owed to the purification Christ accomplished for us.

Our friend, John Owen, explains in Communion with God:

… the Lord Jesus having brought us into a condition of acceptance with God, wherein our obedience is well-pleasing to him, and we being to honour him as we honour the Father, that we have a respect and a peculiar regard to him in all our obedience. So Titus 2:14, he hath purchased us unto himself. And thus believers do in their obedience; they eye Jesus Christ,

… As him in, for, and by whom we have acceptance with God in our obedience. They know all their duties are weak, imperfect, not able to abide the presence of God; and therefore they look to Christ as him who bears the iniquity of their holy things, who adds incense to their prayers, gathers out all the weeds of their duties, and makes them acceptable to God.

All our holy things are tainted by our iniquities – but even this sin, the Lord has borne for us and purified by His obedience and redeeming sacrifice!

Irrespective of our feelings (or the tempo of the music!), our worship tomorrow will be good and holy, if we worship in Jesus Christ.

Are You the Complaint Department?

Today, The Cripplegate is posting my article, Don’t Be the Church’s Complaint Department.

Referencing some wise suggestions from Dan Phillips, I argue for how we ought to deal with the complaints and grumblings we’ll inevitably hear in the fellowship of the Church:

Christians will not always obey Matthew 18:15. They will grumble and complain to the wrong parties thats been the cost of doing business for quite some time. But should we expect Christians to obey Matthew 18:15 anyway? Yes, and we should label their misfiled complaints as what they are, gossip.

It is unlikely that people will ever stop trying to complain to us about others, but we can refuse to receive it. If its not about me, then youve got the wrong department!

… In every church of which Ive ever been a member, Ive never observed an issue or complaint that couldnt be resolved only people who wouldnt resolve them. Too often, their refusal to deal with their complaints as obedient Christians was aided and abetted by other Christians who served as a de facto complaint department. However unwittingly, these willing ears only served to exacerbate, extend, and deepen the problems. Ultimately, these Christians were outwitted by the designs of the evil one, rather than walking after the Holy Spirit (Eph 4:3, 28; cf. 2 Cor 2:11).

You can read the entire article and interact in the comments here.