Blog Posts by Jonathan Parnell
Top 10 Books of the Year — Chosen by You
It’s that time of year. The lineups are out.
The last few weeks of December present a nice opportunity to do a little inventory on the past twelve months, including the best books you’ve read. If you’ve visited some of our favorite sites over the last week, you’ve probably noticed some impressive lists. If you haven’t, go check them out.
For our list this year, rather than create our own,…Continue Reading
God Will Fulfill His Purpose for You
“I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfills his purpose for me.”
This is the straightforward truth that David clings to in Psalm 57:2.
Here he states two basic facts: God has a purpose for him and God will fulfill that purpose. Both these truths combine to become that deep and wondrous theological concept we call “providence.” The word was much more common centuries ago than…Continue Reading
What Will You Say to Jesus?
One day we will stand before Jesus.
If we could see through the clutter of our lives now, if we could envision that day when everything is said and done, it’s clear that the enduring mission in and under and beyond every detail of our lives should be about pleasing him. What does he think?
What will he say?
We don’t know the exact words Jesus will speak to us…Continue Reading
Until the Son of God Appeared
Finally, the son was born. Generation after generation had anticipated his birth and the world desperately needed him. Desperately.
Each day was a gloomy cloud of night. The darkness of death’s shadow filled the earth. Strife and quarrels multiplied without hindrance. The hearts of all mankind only conceived evil. In fact, “every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). It actually was so bad…Continue Reading
How to Clear the Clutter in Your Life
Sometimes our dining room table gets cluttered.
For one, it’s a big table. Every time I have to squeeze around the end chair, sliding my back against the wall, I remind myself that it’s not for the table we live in our house. It actually takes up so much space in our dining room that it’s become the easiest place to set stuff. Toys. Mail. Homework. Cups. More cups. The…Continue Reading
Learning from Lincoln’s Compelling Precision
On November 19, 1863 — 150 years ago today — a tall, stressed out man from Illinois stood up to deliver 269 words that changed a country. It took him only two minutes.
Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, gave his Gettysburg Address, one of the most legendary speeches in American history, undoubtedly spoken into the most tumultuous period of a then “new nation conceived in Liberty.”
When the Sex Should Stop
Sometimes sex should stop in marriage.
The sometimes is really important. Not all the time. It’s not what is normative or typical. It’s sometimes. And, at the same time, be sure that sometimes really means sometimes. Real times. These are actual moments, or seasons, that never present themselves as the anomaly they should prove to be in the long run. We’re talking about a tangible pause from sex,…Continue Reading
The Kind of Father He Is
The castle was mangled. With just a glance, you could tell it was bad.
The main gate was completely exposed. The chains that once lowered the intimidating drawbridge were now severed. The drum tower, which had weathered the most obvious destruction, had its battlements crushed — so crushed that you could almost recreate in your head the sound it must have made the moment the blow came.
This thing must…Continue Reading
Good News, Everyone’s Invited
Not everyone will believe the gospel, but everyone should be invited.
We know from Scripture, and experience, that not everyone will trust in Jesus and be saved. In fact, many will not. Many today sitting in churches across this country are cold to Christ, harboring impenitent hearts, deceived into thinking their works will get them to heaven. And even more not in churches. They will refuse Jesus, so why should…Continue Reading
The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost. (Luke 19:10)
Christianity is summed up in these words: Jesus came to seek and save the lost. If we were asked to describe in a sentence the heart of the gospel, there it is.
There is no other news like this. Every other religion says it backwards. Every other religion tells us to seek. We are advised…Continue Reading
God’s Glory Wins
Not everyone will believe the gospel. Why?
“God desires all people to be saved,” 1 Timothy 2:4 tells us. “God does not take pleasure in the death of anyone,” Ezekiel 18:32 says. Then why are there some who refuse to trust in Jesus and therefore die lost in their sins?
There are two different answers to this question.
But we should understand that these two answers go beyond making sense…Continue Reading
Three Prayers for Facing Monday (Or Any Tomorrow)
This is one of those really deep, common truths — one which Jonathan Edwards expounds with the intellectual horsepower of a genius, and to which our most common experience testifies:
Essential to our present joy is the anticipation of greater joy to come.
This is why, for example, the best part of going on vacation is often the day before we start it. The glad anticipation of what will be…Continue Reading
Jesus Doesn’t Love You Like That
Either Jesus died to save his church or he didn’t. There isn’t a third option.
Either he gave himself up for his bride, as Ephesians 5:25 tells us, or he died to create the possibility of her salvation that depends upon the skills of human decision-making.
Are we dead in our sins, as Ephesians 2:1–3 says, or are we slightly impaired? Are we “far from the peaceful shore” or are…Continue Reading
The Best Way to Start Your Everyday
Psalm 143:8 may capture it best:
Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love,
for in you I trust.
Make me know the way I should go,
for to you I lift up my soul.
Two things make up everyone’s everyday: receptivity and productivity. We are creatures who constantly take in and put out. We absorb and we exude.
The question is what will it be?
The psalmist…Continue Reading
Does Success Start on Sunday?
In the outskirts of the city, on a road that’s walked as much as driven, a typical car brakes at a red light.
It is the kind of car so typical that the actual model stays blurry in memory. It is the kind of braking so natural that the driver must know this block. Everything in the scene fits: the worn road, the red light, the common car, but not…Continue Reading
It’s Time to Celebrate
“He heard music and dancing.”
This line introduces the first main action of the “older brother” in Jesus’s parable of the Prodigal Son. The rest of the story culminates with what he doesn’t do.
Once There Was a Party
On his way home from the field, the older brother heard the commotion. “Music and dancing,” we’re told. And we’d expect, if there’s music and dancing, there’s laughter and cheers. This…Continue Reading
Pizza! Pizza! Waking Up in Little Caesar’s
This is a story of discovery. C.S. Lewis was my guide. It all happened because of one late afternoon in the Spring of Minnesota when I heard these words:
Now this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down. And I’d like to take a minute, just sit right there, I’ll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel-Air.
The Unusual… Continue Reading
Don’t Go to Church to Give
Today, millions of Christians will gather to worship Jesus. Each gathering, as its own mosaic of souls, will meet at its own place and time. I hope you will be at one, somewhere, and I hope you go there to get, not give.
That is right. Go to church to get. Don’t go to give. Banish the slightest idea in your head that you are going to a corporate…Continue Reading
Is Anyone Sad for Ariel Castro?
On August 1 Ariel Castro was sentenced to life in prison plus 1,000 years for kidnapping three girls he locked in his home for a decade, which included torture and rape, and the murder of an unborn child. Yesterday, a little over a month after this sentence, Castro was found dead in his jail cell. He had hanged himself.
And I wonder, is anyone sad for Ariel Castro?
Reports have…Continue Reading
Three Reasons to Pray for President Obama
Knowing what is right and doing what is right are the basics to following Jesus in this world. But it’s not always simple.
The freedoms for Christian discipleship in the United States seem to be shriveling, albeit slowly. American Christians may be entering a day when the civil authorities tell us we must not do what we know is right. And at the same time, could it be that…Continue Reading
Fight Your Sin: A Storyline for the Battle Lines
Fight your sin with a storyline. I mean right now. Life is war, everyday. Submerged temptations lie waiting for you just out of sight. Insidious sirens are faintly wooing your way, beckoning you to cruise their waters. You will hear their calls soon enough. This is a plea to steer clear of them from the helm of a story — your story.
I say “your story,” but I mean God’s…Continue Reading
A Song to Help Us Long for Jesus
Music has a unique ability to affect the human soul. The synergy of words and tunes helps us express reality, and feel reality, especially when it resonates with our deepest desires.
“Lord, I want to yearn for you” is a simple line. But for the heart whose passionate pursuit is to know Jesus, this line is an earnest prayer. It is a soundtrack for the life that longs to treasure…Continue Reading
God Will Never Regret Saving You
It was almost 7 AM — opening time for a tiny concession stand dubbed the Eureka Café. I was there first, leaning on the counter and staring happily at the trademark: “We Proudly Brew Starbucks Coffee.”
I had expected this summer retreat center to be nestled miles away from a good cup o’ Joe. But according to the words on this sign, and the rustic fragrance that filled the air,…Continue Reading
Do You Want Your Faith to Grow?
If you want your faith to grow, read the Bible.
Earlier this Spring, in a discussion on sanctification, John Piper explains, “The only way faith grows is by God speaking to you. ‘Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God’ [Romans 10:17] — and not just when you got saved, but everyday of your life.”
God speaks to us when we read his word.…Continue Reading
Untamable Truth Changes Lives
This book is not a memoir.
The truths here, as John Piper describes them, are “wildly untamable, explosively uncontainable, and electrically future-creating.” They represent the proclaimed statement of faith from one pastor of one local church over the course of 33 years.
Last fall John Piper preached a series of ten sermons devoted to the main theological…Continue Reading