No More Scarlet Letters

Jon Bloom
No More Scarlet Letters

W. Somerset Maugham once said, “There is hardly anyone whose sexual life, if it were broadcast, would not fill the world at large with surprise and horror.”

With networks and newspapers broadcasting another New York Congressman’s sordid sexual secrets, and the public in a swirl of surprise and horror (and prurient fascination), it’s good for us to ponder again the profound grace that Jesus Christ extends to sinners like us, guilty of shameful things.

History has tended to give Mary... Continue Reading

Should I Want to Be "Such a Worm?"

John Piper
Should I Want to Be "Such a Worm?"

I tweeted this morning that I would like to be "such a worm". I said: "William Carey died today 1834. Epitaph: 'A wretched poor and helpless worm, on thy kind arms I fall.' O to be such a worm!"

Not everyone thinks it is biblically sound to call a new creature in Christ a worm, let alone to aspire to be one. It's a good question.

First of all, my meaning: I want to be "such a worm"—a William-Carey-type worm. That is, an indomitable servant of Jesus, who, in spite of... Continue Reading

Joy in God Is the Heart of Mission

Jonathan Parnell

The glory of God — and our joy in him — is the heart of mission.

John Piper writes,

The goal of missions is the gladness of the peoples in the greatness of God. "The LORD reigns, let the earth rejoice; let the many coastlands be glad!" (Psalm 97:1). "Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy! (Psalm 67:3-4). . . Missions begins and ends in worship.

(Let the Nations Be Glad, 3rd ed. [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010],... Continue Reading

Lowering Standards for Leadership Roles in the Church

Michael Johnson
Lowering Standards for Leadership Roles in the Church

Piper on lowering standards to fill church leadership roles:

The acceptability of a church lowering its standards in order to fill leadership roles is this: "low" is partly relative, isn't it?

If you have a church that's made up mainly of long-term, seasoned, wise, mature, Bible-knowing Christians, your standards of who should lead in that group are going to be high, because in order to lead you have to be ahead of somebody.

In a church made up of newer... Continue Reading

Biblical Theology and Church Picnics

Michael Johnson
Biblical Theology and Church Picnics

Early on in Piper’s pastorate, he articulated some theological reasons for having church picnics:

If picnics don’t have to do with God we may as well close up shop. Eitherallwe do has to do with God or he is not God. “Whether you eat or drink, orwhateveryou do (like picnics), doallto the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).

Here are his main points:

Meeting as a church out-of-doors is an affirmation and celebration of God as creator of the world;

Informal togetherness,... Continue Reading

Four Ways We Forget the Lord

Josh Etter
Four Ways We Forget the Lord

David Powlison has written that "the only way we ever sin is by suppressing God, by forgetting, by tuning out his voice, switching channels, and listening to other voices. When you actually remember, you actually change. In fact, remembering is the first change."

Here are four examples from the Bible of how we actively forget God:

  1. By forgetting God's past works of salvation: "then take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of... Continue Reading

Hearing with Faith on Sunday

Jonathan Parnell
Hearing with Faith on Sunday

Charles Spurgeon writes,

. . . the real reason why God's people do not feed under a gospel ministry, is, because they have not faith. If you believed, if you did but hear one promise, that would be enough; if you only heard one good thing from the pulpit here would be food for your soul, for it is not the quantity we hear, but the quantity we believe, that does us good—it is that which we receive into our hearts with true and lively faith, that is our profit (excerpted from "The... Continue Reading

12 Ways to Glorify God at Work

Josh Etter
12 Ways to Glorify God at Work

Mark Twain once said, "Work is a necessary evil to be avoided."Although there may be days when we feel like he got it right, we know God has ordained work as a stewardship of his created world (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). He has designed work for his glory and our good. But how might we glorify God at work? This list is not exhaustive, but here's at least 12 ways —

1. Believe that all legitimate work is holy or unholy before God based on our faith, not the nature of the work itself.

... Continue Reading

What Tone Should Preachers Aim At?

John Piper
What Tone Should Preachers Aim At?

Phillips Brooks who died in 1893—and who along with Jesus, Paul, John Stott, Dick Lucas, and other preachers never married—most famously said that preaching is “truth through personality.”

This personality factor raises the question of preaching tone. What should a preacher aim at in the tone of his preaching?

By “tone” I mean the feel that it has. The spirit it emits. The emotional quality. The affectional tenor. The mood.

Personalities Are Like Faces

Every personality has a... Continue Reading