Voting is like marrying and crying and laughing and buying. We should do it, but only as if we were not doing it. That’s because “the present form of this world is passing away” and, in God’s eyes, “the time has grown very short.” Here’s the way Paul puts it:
The appointed time has grown very short. From now on, let those who have wives live as though they had none, and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no goods, and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away. (1 Corinthia…
A word to preachers. Truth and falsehood is a good pair of categories to use when deciding what to preach. Speak truth not falsehood.
But there is another crucial pair of categories. God tells Jeremiah that he must use this pair if he would be faithful:
Therefore thus says the Lord: “...If you utter what is precious, and not what is worthless, you shall be as my mouth. (Jeremiah 15:19)
In deciding what to preach make these two judgments: Is it true and is it precious? Preach what is both. If it is true, preach it with authority. If it is precious, preach it with passion.
One great reason why some preaching leaves people unmoved is that preachers seem unmoved.…
Witnessing about light is a strange task if your aim is for people to see the light and believe in the light. Light illumines by itself. When you want someone to see a light, you don’t witness about the light, but you hold up the light. If you have a torch in your hand, and you want someone to see the torch, you don’t say, “This is a torch.” You hold up the torch.
But John 1:7 says that John the Baptist “came as a witness, to bear witness about the light.” So as strange as this task is, that was John’s mission. And it is ours too.
So what do we learn about our task when it is described as witnessing to the light?...
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Ruth Wasn’t Even a Jew
The book of Ruth is amazing. Not simply because it’s a great story about love, loyalty, faith, romance and redemption. But its very presence in the Bible is amazing. Stuck right there in the Old Testament is a book named after a non-Jewish woman.
Ruth was a Moabite. Her ancestry had its origin in the incest committed between Lot and his oldest daughter. And though Moabites were related to the Israelites, so to speak, they were enemies because Moab had opposed Israel’s advance toward Canaan. And Moabites were not known to worship Yahweh. They were polytheistic pagans, occasionally offering human sacrifices to idol-gods like Chemosh.
As a result, God prohibi…
Why doesn’t God totally remove Satan and all demons now, since he will someday without their approval (Revelation 20:10)?
Here is the answer I propose in the first paragraph of chapter nine of Seeing and Savoring Jesus Christ. The rest of the chapter gives the biblical basis and implications.
The glory of Christ is seen in his absolute right and power to annihilate or incapacitate Satan and all demons. But the reason he refrains from destroying and disabling them altogether is to manifest more clearly his superior beauty and worth. If Christ obliterated all devils and demons now (which he could do), his sheer power would be seen as glorious, but his superior beauty and wor…
One of my long-standing dissatisfactions with the focus of biblical theology is the habit of tracing God’s faithfulness only as far back as his covenant-keeping. Righteousness (tsedeqa) is portrayed as covenant-keeping. Love (hesed) is portrayed as covenant-keeping. Faithfulness (emet) is portrayed as covenant-keeping.
This has an ill-effect. It skews biblical revelation by making God’s relation with man seem more ultimate than God himself. There is always something more ultimate than God’s faithfulness to his covenant, namely, God’s faithfulness to God.
If we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself. (2Timothy 2:13)
Here is how Jeremiah plea…
I can smell it. It’s like toast or steak or brownies. It doesn’t just draw our desire, it creates desire. Deep drops in the stock market make many people salivate. They know it will rebound. They are sitting on cash. By year’s end their pile could ride the recovery to riches.
For such people I have a word from God. The word is: Don’t desire to be rich. It will kill you. And in a world like ours many will probably perish with you. Paul’s language is more graphic than mine:
There is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.…
If you care about people and risk talking to the depressed, the doubting, the skeptical, the confused, and the angry, you will soon run into a person who says to your counsel: I’ve tried that. Whatever you say, they will minimize it and say it doesn’t work. Do not be surprised at this response. This is what it means to be depressed, doubting, skeptical, confused, angry. It means that whatever they hear sounds useless.
So I want to offer some suggestions for what you say in a conversation that is about to be cut off like that...
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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 …