Five Ways to Deepen Your Preaching

I’ve been blessed lately with the opportunity to preach a bit more. I really enjoy preaching, and the homiletics training I received at Covenant Seminary during my M.Div. was excellent. But the more I learn about preaching, the more I feel like I’m just beginning to learn what it even means to preach. Preaching to me is like a vast mountain, the top of which is hidden by clouds and cannot be seen, and the higher I climb, the more it stretches up still higher and higher above me. I’m not looking for encouragement when I say that, or trying…

Four Appeals to Christians Embracing Gay Marriage

I was not particularly surprised by the Supreme Court’s decision last Friday. Nor do I feel alarmist about it. Some Christians are responding to it in doomsday tones, but to my mind that attitude is at odds with the basic tenor of the gospel. Panic and pessimism are out of order for a worldview anchored in belief in an omnipotent God, irresistible grace, and an eternal heaven.

Mid-year Update

2015 has been a great year for Esther and me. We are blessed. In February our daughter Naomi was born. She is healthy and doing great. Later that month I passed my comprehensive finals in my PhD, advancing me to candidacy. That feels great to have that behind me. Isaiah turned two in March, and he is so much fun—just exploding outwards in his personality, his vocabulary, his sense of humor. It is always so joyful and relaxing to come home and play with him after a long day. I’ve taken on more of the preaching at our church, and…

10 Quotes From Samuel Rutherford’s Letters

“When we are dead and gone, let the world know that Spurgeon held Rutherford’s letters to be the nearest thing to inspiration which can be found in all the writings of mere man.” So wrote Charles Haddon Spurgeon concerning the letters of Samuel Rutherford, the 17th century Scottish pastor and commissioner to the Westminster Assembly. Nor was Spurgeon alone in this high praise. Richard Baxter said of Rutherford’s letters, “hold off the Bible; such a book the world never saw;” and H.C.G. Moule called them “a small casket stored with many jewels.” Rutherford’s letters have been through something like 100…

Tips on Writing

“Hey Dad, I can’t see too good, is that Bill Shakespeare over there?” How might we encourage the aspiring writers among us, if we want to do better than Chris Farley in the famous “van down by the river” SNL skit? Writing is a gift, a stewardship—a tool to be leveraged for the kingdom. Slipshod, grainy, bland writing generally accomplishes less for the kingdom than writing that is colorful, sonorous, and compact. And its less fun. So here are the five biggest tips I would give to those wanting to improve the quality of their writing. See also my earlier…

Fall Update

Esther and I are headed to Nashville this week for some much needed vacation time. Its been a very full and rewarding summer in the youth ministry. We’ve done several trips and lots of other events, and ‘m grateful to catch my breath before heading into our fall kickoff. This month I’ve also started working at The Gospel Coalition as an editor. That means basically I am responsible for recruiting/writing 3 articles a week in the realm of Bible/theology or ministry. Its been a lot of fun so far. I love thinking about posts and series ideas that will edify the…

Reflections on God’s Not Dead

2014 has certainly been an interesting year for Christians going to the movies. We’ve already had the controversy about Noah, we’re currently seeing Christians respond very differently to Heaven is For Real, and we still have Exodus: Gods and Kings to go this December (a movie about the exodus starring Christian Bale as Moses). Another movie that has had a big splash within Christian culture, despite being panned by the critics, is God’s Not Dead, which tells the story of college student Josh responding to his atheist professor’s challenge that “God is dead” (along with several interconnected subplots). I saw…

Revival isn’t Weird

I really enjoying watching these 2005 interviews of my Grandparents. Thanks to my friend Mark Ellis for doing them. Its meaningful to hear their voices and see their personalities after they’ve gone to be with the Lord, and its inspiring to hear them share the story of this mini-revival on Wheaton’s campus back in the 1970’s. One of the comments that that I particularly appreciate here is my Grandad’s assertion at about 5:07 that “there was nothing weird about it—it was honesty.” Later he says, “it was happy—relief and release.” I think one of the reasons many well-meaning Christians don’t…

Christmas Books for 2014

I got several good books for Christmas. Unfortunately, I don’t have time to read them! The next best thing is to skim the first chapter, or enough to get a sense of what they are about, and then file them away until a day I have more time—hopefully later in 2014. Here are the four books I got, and what interests me about each of them. 1) Four Views on the Historical Adam This is the other Zondervan Counterpoints book that came out last month along with Five Views on Biblical Inerrancy. The contributors are: No Historical Adam: Evolutionary Creation…

Thoughts on Scholarship

This fall quarter I took a PhD seminar called Historiography. Its basically a research methods class for work in historical studies, and specifically church history. I’ve been plowing through a lot German and French stuff, learning new methods for locating obscure old articles and monographs, and writing a rough draft of the first chapter of my dissertation. Its been a lot of fun, and caused me to reflect on the nature of scholarship. Some miscellaneous thoughts: 1) Scholarship can be used for great good. Its like the army, or the press, or technological advance. It can serve the greater good…