Blog Posts by Jonathan Parnell
What Is a Disciple?
What does it actually mean to be a “disciple” of Jesus? If we are going to make disciples, we need to know what that is.Continue Reading
Worship in the Dark
Sometimes the weight of our trials are so severe that we feel as if we can’t keep our heads above the water. The pain is so vicious, the malaise so thick, that we can’t imagine our situation ever changing. We can’t see healing. We can’t articulate hope. And when we try, it just hurts more.Continue Reading
Keep Praying That Prayer
My six-year-old daughter prays for her teddy bear to talk, and I haven’t told her to stop.
Do I think God will answer her prayer? No, I do not — I mean, I don’t think the bear will talk. But always getting exactly what we ask is not the point of prayer, and we should never stop praying because we lose hope that God will answer us.
Jesus taught us…Continue Reading
You Can’t Buy Happiness
Restlessness isn’t the real problem.
Cultures that crack the whip for more bricks, like the ancient Egypt who held Israel captive, are in it for more than the work. The ceaseless labor — the lack of rest — is only the picture of something deeper, something that has characterized every civilization from then until now: the quest for pleasure.
Pleasure is the goal behind the toiling. All those hours and…Continue Reading
That Angry Gentleman at the Restaurant
She sat there docile, quiet, unmoved by the heat that emanated from this gentlemen’s red forehead. “What is the story here?,” I wondered. Others might have wondered the same. More patrons were watching by then. Quite the scene was forming, though it was nothing yet compared to what it would be.Continue Reading
Rest Because You Can
At night when we go to bed, on a whole day when we pause our projects, in a season of vacation or Sabbatical, our stopping work is our saying “Enough!” to the merry-go-round. We don’t have to ride this thing. There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God (Hebrews 4:9–10).Continue Reading
When the Abortion Industry Self-Destructs
What if, counter-conventional as it might seem, the greatest felt gains for unborn humans will come by the abortion industry’s self-destruction?Continue Reading
Be the Opposite of a Hypocrite
Knowledge doesn’t terminate on the knower. We don’t learn in order to conceal, just like a lamp isn’t lit to be put under a basket (Matthew 5:15). We learn in order to express — to lead others in seeing and savoring what we have seen and savored. And that means we don’t merely say it, but that we say it effectively.
To encourage this kind of communication, John Piper…Continue Reading
Putting Your City in Its Place
A few years ago, before starting a routine read through the Book of Acts, I picked up a green colored pencil to highlight every mention of cities and regions I might come across. Each occurrence of a geographical name was to be softly shaded. Beginning with “Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria” (Acts 1:8) to “Cyprus and Cyrene” (Acts 11:20) to Seleucia, Perga, Lystra, Attalia, Neapolis, and so forth,…Continue Reading
When the Prospect of Pain Threatens Our Pleasure
The problem might go something like this.
My family and I were sitting around the dinner table, and one of the kids said something funny. I can’t remember exactly what was said, but we were all laughing, all six of us, in the euphoria of spontaneous jollification. We were all glad together, in one of those moments when, as a young parent, you sort of come out of yourself to…Continue Reading
The Deep Joy of Self-Denial
Jesus gives us commands — “demands,” we might call them. They are words issued to us from his comprehensive authority in all of heaven and earth, all linked together in some way, forming a beautiful tapestry of what it means to live under his lordship.
But the question remains for us in how they are connected. How do we understand them in relation to one another? Take, for example, the…Continue Reading
Would You Tackle the Gunman?
On Thursday, June 5, shortly after 3:30 in the afternoon, inside a building on the campus of Seattle Pacific University, a student named Jon Meis pepper-sprayed a stranger and tackled him to the floor.
An unknown gunman had opened fire in the building, and in a moment of complete chaos, as the gunman reloaded a shotgun that had already killed one person and wounded two others, Jon Meis stepped up…Continue Reading
Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood (New eBook)
Christian complementarity is the conviction that God created men and women as his image-bearers — equal in dignity and distinct in role.
Contrary to popular opinion, the Scripture’s distinctive roles for men and women are not the cultural fads of a bygone era, but integral aspects of God’s good design for humanity, and therefore integral aspects toward humanity’s end — to glorify God by enjoying him forever.
And that’s why…Continue Reading
Strengthen Your Faith Through Physical Exercise
Both bodies and souls are important to the Christian.
We know that God created humans with these two interconnected parts, and that the health (or sickness) of one can influence the health (or sickness) of the other. God made us and redeems us as whole persons, and it’s a Christian distinctive to care about it all — not just the soul, but the soul and body.
But valuable as both…Continue Reading
Finding Heaven Through the Haze
There are many wonderful things that happen by means of prayer.
The greatest effect, of course, is that God is glorified. Jesus instructed us to pray, “Father in heaven, hallowed be your name” (Matthew 6:9). That is the deepest goal from which every other prayer is extrapolated. God has ordained the prayers of his people to be the way through which he accomplishes “the victory of Jesus over this world”…Continue Reading
Every Christian does the work of ministry. Whether great or small, experienced or new, vocational or not — every Christian has some kind of ministry given them from God.
We all have a calling on our lives, in varying capacities, to bear witness to Jesus’s grace and follow his example in the service of others (John 13:15). Some are unsure about the specifics; others know it without doubt. Some are…Continue Reading
God Will Give You Everything You Need
Jesus wants us to live an anxiety-free life.
He says in Matthew 6:33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“All these things” include what we eat and drink and wear — all the practical needs of this present world (Matthew 6:25). Jesus tells us that we don’t have to worry about them because we have a sovereign Father…Continue Reading
What Our Anger Is Telling Us
Anger is not good for you, at least not in its typical form.
New studies argue that regular feelings of anger increase the likelihood for heart disease, and that within two hours of an outburst, the chances of a heart attack or stroke skyrocket. Which means all you angry folks better watch out; it’s a dangerous foible.
But wait. Anger is more than a problem for “you angry people.” It…Continue Reading
A Dialogue on Our Design
Oprah asked Rob Bell about God.
In a video interview, as part of a new daytime series on her own network, she posed the question, What is your definition of God? — to which he naturally replied,
Like a song you hear in another room, and you think: Wow, that sounds beautiful, but I can only hear a little bit. So you start opening doors and rearranging furniture ‘cause you…
Getting Clear on Evangelism
We might have evangelism mixed up.
When evangelism is often discussed, it tends to focus on how churches mobilize their people to get out and connect with unbelievers. But when we think in these terms, the definition of evangelism can be mistaken as a maneuver, rather than proclamation.
To evangelize, explains pastor Jeff Vanderstelt, simply means to herald the good news of Jesus. The evangelist, or messenger, is the one…Continue Reading
The Long Arc of Real Love
Packed away in the laundry room of my basement, off the beaten paths of normal household traffic, smashed together with the dried-up ladybugs and an occasional spider, are twenty garbage bags filled with toys.
They belong to our kids.
A few weeks ago, after more than one prophetic notice, my wife and I packed up every single toy in our house. Our gentle, shepherding efforts, so often used to break…Continue Reading
You Won’t Waste Your Life
Could you give your life to making Jesus known in an obscure, rural area?
This is a good question to ask ourselves. While the statistics say that an increasing percentage of the world’s population lives in cities, that doesn’t mean everyone lives in cities. Many people still live in less densely populated areas — the country, the sticks, “the highways and hedges,” we might say. Millions, even in the States,…Continue Reading
When Mission Gets Real
We make an inevitable understatement.
Jesus tells his disciples in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” The right to rule everything belongs to him. All existence comes under his reign. Jesus is the one true King.
This is unspeakably important. The highest significance we could attribute to these words still seems to fall short. The crucified and risen Christ has cosmic authority.…Continue Reading
What’s Most Important This Week
True and sound wisdom consists of two parts: the knowledge of God and of ourselves.
John Calvin unlocked the door to wisdom with these words that launched the Institutes of the Christian Religion.
Wisdom means knowing what to do, and it’s required to make it in this world. Its source is most basically reduced to what we think about God and ourselves. This is true for the whole…Continue Reading
That Sunday After Easter
Few of us remember those Sundays that come the week after Easter. By then the pastel finery is packed away in our closets. The lunch is not as great. The anticipation for corporate worship has dropped down from the seasonal high we felt just a week before. There is less excitement, less panache, less décor — and more resemblance to that original Easter so many Sundays ago.
It’s easy…Continue Reading