April 28, 2017

Why Should You Read the Puritans?

It's been over two hundred years since the Puritans passed into eternity (as we looked at here), but they left a rich legacy of sermons and writings that speak to the whole of our being. Their works address the mind, confront the conscience, and engage the heart. Those who make the effort to mine their works carefully reap rich rewards!  Their teachings offer fresh perspective of sin, society, and holiness; frank discussions of biblical truth; and transparent exposition of Scripture. But their works are not dusty tomes best left to academia; they are vital and relevant messages for us today! Our world has changed drastically in the last few hundred years (good grief, it's [...Read More]


Who Were the Puritans, Anyway?

From the sixteenth to eighteenth century lived a group of men and women who plunged diligently into the depths of Scripture, passionately upholding it as the ultimate standard for both belief and practice, and leaving a rich legacy of writings on the practical application of biblical doctrine. They were known as the Puritans. You might recognize some of their names: John Bunyan, Stephen Charnock, Richard Baxter, Matthew Henry, Thomas Brooks, Richard Sibbes, John Flavel, John Owen, Isaac Watts, Jonathan Edwards . . . the list goes on to include over 2,000 great men of God. They were intelligent men, though not necessarily well-known outside their circle of fellow believers. Many [...Read More]


You Don’t Need to Learn How to ‘Love Yourself’

Last week was Valentine's Day, and I couldn't believe how many times I saw the phrase love yourself. The world of greeting cards, inspirational books, and social media posts is filled to overflowing with this idea that we must love ourselves better (or more) before we can love others. But I'm pretty sure that's not what my Bible says . . . What did Christ call the two greatest commandments? Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Love your neighbor as yourself. Notice He didn't say to love yourself first so that you can love others or God. He said to love others as you already love yourself. Nobody needs to be told to love themselves! We spend so many [...Read More]


The Problem with Fig Leaves

In the beginning, God created the world and its inhabitants, and all was spectacularly perfect. And God created two special beings in His own image and placed them in a beautiful garden, filled with trees that were pleasant to the sight and good for food. Along with the trees that provided regular sustenance, there was also a tree of life and a tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And God gave man a very simple, clear command: "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat." One day a shining serpent appeared and began to prey on the woman's inner desire for that one forbidden thing, subtly twisting God's words and [...Read More]


Ten Important Things You Should Do in 2017

What are you hoping to accomplish in 2017? Whether you set New Year's resolutions, pick a word for the year, or simply choose a handful of goals to pursue over the next 12 months, the beginning of a new year is a perfect time to step back, reassess your priorities, and set markers to steer you in the direction you want to go. There's a reason we tend to do all that in January. My theory? All the new toys and gadgets we get for Christmas inspire us to carve out time to try new things, push us to re-organize our possessions to find room for everything, and motivate us to improve a skill or expand our understanding in some area. Plus there's the whole "new calendar" vibe that encourages us [...Read More]


The Unexpectedness of the First Christmas

The virgin birth of Christ in Bethlehem had been prophesied hundreds of years before it actually happened. But it happened in a way that was completely unexpected. Mary was just an ordinary girl. Joseph, just a simple carpenter. The manger in Bethlehem was surrounded by itchy hay and the sounds and smells of working animals. Not to mention the shepherds, who were the outcasts of society, were the last people who would be invited to worship a king. Think back to that time... It had been four long centuries since anyone had heard God's voice. Four hundred long years of pure unbroken silence. No divine messengers. No prophets. No visions or dreams. Just four hundred long years of [...Read More]


You Only Live Once

You only live once. It's become a trite catchphrase over the past few years, annoying to some and overused by others, but that doesn't make it any less true. You only live once. You don't get a do-over after you die. You don't reincarnate as another person or being of some other kind. You live once, and then you die, and that's it for life on this earth. You only live once. You only have one short lifetime to make a difference, to say kind words to those who are hurting, to love the unlovely, to share the gospel, to be an example, to help the less fortunate, to make a direct impact with your words and actions. You only live once. After you die, though your soul will [...Read More]


Thoughts on Giving Thanks

There’s something special about this time of year, when so many people start meditating on everything they have to be thankful for. As Christians, we have an even greater reason to be people characterized by the habitual giving of thanks — not just for abundant physical blessings, but so many spiritual blessings too! The blogosphere is teeming right now with various thoughts about practicing gratitude -- from historical perspectives, to its uniqueness among Christians, and even some of its challenges. I hope you'll take the time over the next few days to work through some of these links! Why We Should Be Thankful for the Gift of Gratitude -- Why is it so critical for Christians to [...Read More]


A Plea for Christian Americans

Christian Americans, the world is watching us. Our countrymen --  our neighbors -- are watching to see how we will respond to the unprecedented election of such a controversial figure and the fear and hatred that is running rampant throughout our nation right now. Whether you voted for Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, or someone else -- now is the time to prove our Christian values to those around us. Now is the time when we must show our obedience to God's command to love our neighbors and do good to all. Now is the time for us to reach out with respect and humility, with kindness and grace, toward all men and women -- no matter what our political beliefs or backgrounds. I am a [...Read More]


What Truly Matters about This Year’s Election

My heart is heavy as I consider tomorrow's election. Whatever the result, our nation will suffer. We are being torn apart year by year as we fight our way to subduing the opposing parties. I can't think of a single friend who is truly happy about how things have progressed in this election. Even those who stand firmly behind a particular candidate have expressed frustration at some of that candidate's actions and attitudes... never mind the interchange between staunch supporters of the two main candidates and the problems inherent in the parties themselves. Those who dislike the winning candidate will point fingers at whoever voted for him/her, and blame those who chose not to vote for [...Read More]