Today my mother turns 90. She has spent the last 34 years with Jesus in heaven. That’s not a euphemism for “dead.” It’s a solid-steel statement of God in scripture: “...away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
I do not know why God took her so early. She was six years younger than I am now when she died. I have often felt a deep need for her counsel in my marriage and parenting. The all-wise God has his reasons. I trust him.
My gratitude for her still grows. She embodied the strength and meekness of womanhood in a way that shaped my readiness to see the Biblical pattern as beautiful. Here is the tribute I wrote at the beginning of the little book, What…
Today is Jonathan Edwards’ 305th birthday. Lyman Beecher wrote to his son in 1836,
Next after the Bible, read and study Edwards, whom to understand in theology...will be as high praise in theological science as to understand Newton’s works...of natural philosophy. (Iain Murray, Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography, 459)
I suppose, after the Bible, no theologian has a greater ongoing effect on me as Jonathan Edwards. There are few in the world who combine the sharpness of mind, the scope of thought, the allegiance to Scripture, the depth of insight, the intensity of affections, the height of imagination, and the power of expression that he brings to all his work. I thank …
We are marking Pastor Kenny and Kathy Stokes’s 10 years of ministry at Bethlehem.
Kenny and Kathy met at Bethel College and were married in December 1979. He graduated with a double major in Psychology and Biblical Studies in 1981. During his seminary days at Bethel, Kenny was part of Bethlehem.
Those of us who were here in those days remember him as an unusually wise and sensitive lover of people. People would turn to Kenny readily for a trusted, caring, listening ear. His internship focused on pastoral care, pastoral counseling, pre-marital counseling, and marriage and family ministries. He graduated from Bethel Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree in 1988...
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Learn your doctrine from texts. It stands up better that way, and feeds the soul. For example, learn irresistible grace from texts. In this way you will see it does not mean grace cannot be resisted; it means that when God chooses he can and will overcome that resistance.
In Isaiah 57:17-19, for instance. God chastises his rebellious people by striking them and hiding his face: “Because of the iniquity of his unjust gain I was angry, I struck him; I hid my face and was angry” (v. 17).
But they did not respond with repentance. Rather, they kept backsliding. They resisted: “But he went on backsliding in the way of his own heart” (v. 17). So grace can be resisted. In fact, Stephen said…
106 years ago today Clyde Kilby was born near Johnson City, Tennessee. He was one of the most formative teachers of my college days at Wheaton. He taught English literature. What made the difference was his extraordinarily awake, God-oriented palate for wonder in poetry and nature.
Dr. Kilby stood in front of us and exulted in beauty and wonder. He did not say: This poem is amazing. He was amazed. He didn’t just say the last chapters of the book of Job are mind-boggling glimpses of God’s power and wisdom. His mind was boggled. It was irresistibly contagious—at least for me.
We sat there and for the first time we saw things. We felt. We were drawn into the bright day of wakefulness …
Five times in Isaiah 53 we are told that God is the one who brings about the suffering and death of Christ.
We esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted ... (v. 4)
But he was wounded for our transgressions ... (v.5)
The Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all ... (v. 6)
It was the will of the Lord to crush him ... (v. 10)
He has put him to grief ... (v. 10)
In Romans 8:3, Paul says God does what the law can’t do:
By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh.
God’s condemnation on sin fell on Jesus’ flesh, not ours, though …
Human language is precious. It sets us off from the animals. It makes our most sophisticated scientific discoveries and our deepest emotions sharable. Above all, God chose to reveal himself to us through human language in the Bible. At the fullness of time, he spoke to us by a Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). But that Son spoke human language, and he sent his Spirit to lead his apostles into all truth so that they could tell the story of the Son in human language. Without this story in human language, we would not know the Son. Therefore, human language is immeasurably precious.
But it is also imperfect for capturing the fullness of God...
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I just got word that Dick Turnwall went to be with Jesus yesterday. I want to give public thanks for a life-directing influence he had on me.
Dick was the Executive Minister of the Minnesota Baptist Conference in 1979 when, on October 14, in the wee hours of the morning, God rocked my world. Soon after midnight, there was no turning back. There arose in my soul a deeply settled conviction that God was calling me to leave academia (teaching at Bethel College) and pursue pastoral ministry.
Within a few days, I found myself sitting with Dick in his office on County Road E2, telling him that I was going to resign at Bethel and asking if he would help me find a church. I said, I am green as…
A pair of Brits have a provocative book appearing in the States this month. Tim Chester and Steve Timmis published Total Church in the UK last year, and enough readers here have found it helpful to prompt Crossway Books and Mark Driscoll’s Resurgence ministry to pick up the title in the Re:Lit series. You can watch Tim Chester introduce the book at Crossway's blog.
Chester’s and Timmis’s refrain for what they are advocating in the book is “ordinary life with gospel intentionality.” They make a case for the church’s need to exercise “dual fidelity” to the content of the spoken gospel and the context of a relational community.
Tim Chester kindly agreed to answer a few questions below…
Recently I wrote that we seldom know the micro reasons for our sufferings, but the Bible does give us faith-sustaining macro reasons. It is good to have a way to remember some of these so that when we are suddenly afflicted, or have a chance to help others in their affliction, we can recall some of the truths God has given us to help us not lose hope.
Here is one way to remember. Five R’s (or if it helps, just pick three and try to remember them). The macro purposes of God in our sufferings include:
Suffering is a call for us and others to turn from treasuring anything on earth above God.
Luke 13:4-5 - Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell …