Kingdom Notes

Evil Employees & Saintly Corporations

Evil Employees & Saintly Corporations

Economics of Buying & Selling It is a common but dangerous business, our propensity to make ourselves the heroes of our own stories, and to see all who stand in our way as wearing the black hats. As a person with an interest in all things economic I see it in the realm of our buying and trading all the time. We all want to sell high and buy low. And we are all sellers and buyers. We all sell our labor in the marketplace. And we buy what we buy. The ones in the black hats, we think, are. . . Read more »

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Buck Up

Buck Up

My beloved wife was a valiant woman and a fierce brawler and so I never had to encourage my wife to keep fighting. There were moments, however, when we both found ourselves weeping for what we were losing. As those moments came it was my habit to remind the both of us not only of what we had had, not only what we still had, but what we would always have. I reminded us that our treasure was safely in heaven, that we had been given the pearl of great price, and everything that could be taken from us was. . . Read more »

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We Have Not Because We Ask Not

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Praying Blessing for Your Family God has not only blessed me with a wonderful family but has blessed me with the opportunity to teach about the family and the Bible on radio programs, in audio and DVD teaching series, in books, and through dozens of occasions to speak at churches around the country. As I speak about a vision for what the family can be, I tell attendees that the single most important thing they should do for their families is to pray. Yes, my great moment of insight is to tell them to pray for their wives, their children,. . . Read more »

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Digging Deep—Sin & the Gospel

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It’s eye-catching when reality catches up with folks. See a man caught up in his road rage, waving one angry finger at the slow poke in the passing lane. When his truck flops and flails into the median we all think, “What was he thinking?” I mean, what driver thinks, “It is perfectly safe for me to drive with one hand while looking at a ninety degree angle to my left”? Or take World Vision. I was not at any of the high level meetings that must have taken place before they announced their decision to warmly embrace “married” couples. . . Read more »

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They Labor In Vain, Or a Funny Thing Happened While I Preached My Daughter’s Wedding

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Psalm 127 Just a few days ago I was privileged to be able to preach at a rather significant occasion, the wedding ceremony of my first-born. Darby was, like her mother, not just a beautiful and radiant bride, but a diligent, faithful laborer in bringing the event together. When I told her I would like to preach from Psalm 127 I could tell she was a smidge reluctant to give her approval. Perhaps she feared that I would chasten her and her new husband to remember that children are a blessing from the Lord, and I wanted grandbabies, and soon.. . . Read more »

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Phelps, Driscoll, & Gothard

Phelps, Driscoll, & Gothard

Though I hope you will stick around and see this piece through to the bitter end, I must confess to a bit of bait and switch. You will find precious little in what follows about the death of Fred Phelps, the apology of Mark Driscoll, nor the resignation of Bill Gothard. What you will find is an explanation for why they are in my title but not in my piece. Looking for Approval Like most people I long for approval. Like most people I look for it not only in the wrong places, but with the wrong measuring sticks. The. . . Read more »

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Who’s Your Daddy?

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Darkness of the World This past weekend Ligonier Ministries hosted its annual conference, the theme being “Overcoming the World.” I was blessed to hear some amazing preaching, as with every year. Voddie Baucham reminded us of our three great enemies, the world, the flesh and the devil. Robert Godfrey spoke on our call to stand, as our father Athanasius did before us, contra mundum, against the world. We talked about the evils of abortion, the stunning rout of the homosexual lobby is shifting public opinion. I am not leaving the conference, however, squinting to find a silver lining around the. . . Read more »

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Apologetics, Arguments & Walking Toward the Light

Apologetics, Arguments, and Walking Toward the Light

Arguing Among Ourselves It is one of my favorite ways to poke at my own tribe. I know exposing the folly of persnickety, precise, and proud, Reformed folk is like shooting Icthus’s in a baptismal barrel, but it needs to be done. In a still smaller circle, that “epistemologically self-conscious,” sub-section of the Reformed that uses such terms as epistemologically self-conscious, we elevate our persnickety-ness, our precision and our pride to Olympian heights. We sit in our armchairs, stroking our beards, tamping our pipes, expositing our syllogisms, while our spiritual flies are down. What I do is run through an. . . Read more »

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Giving Thanks

R.C. Sproul Jr., 1979

Unusual Blessing I am a blessed man. I have wonderful children that love me and each other. I have parents who love me and each other. I have friends nearby, and across the country. I even have friends on every continent. Well, to be scrupulous, I don’t have any penguin friends. But I was reminded the other day to be thankful for a blessing I’ve been given that many have not. The national headquarters for the American Automobile Association is less than five miles from my home. I was driving by their mammoth facility, thinking about how very crowded it. . . Read more »

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Fearful Fatherhood

Fearful Fatherhood

Fatherhood is Difficult We all, I believe, operate under a wide range of unspoken equations. We like our lives marked by ease and peace. We dispatch, without thinking, anything that challenges our ease and peace. At least I do. One of my equations that lurks just beneath the surface is this: if a job is difficult, it’s not my job. Even more accurately, if it’s frightening, it must not be required of me. I have seven children. Each is dependent on me for their provision. I must not provoke them to wrath but must raise them in the nurture and. . . Read more »

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Turning the Other Cheek

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Homosexual Agenda Craig James, former football star at SMU, and briefly an sportscaster with Fox Sports, is in court. After his convictions on the nature of marriage, the sin of sexual perversion became known to the network he was fired. And now he has filed a complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission, with help from the Liberty Institute. I share Mr. James’ convictions, without shame or apology. They are nothing more nor less than what the Bible affirms on the issues at hand. I am in turn frustrated and angry at the legal brutality of the homosexual lobby against people. . . Read more »

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Faux Pearls

Faux Pearls

Maslow was wrong. Well, he was right before he was wrong. It is true enough that we all have a hierarchy of needs. Some things are more important than others. Trouble is, he didn’t know what the most important things were. Foundational in his system are those things necessary for survival, things like food and water. King David had a different, a better perspective. He said that the Lord was His Shepherd, and he shall not want (Psalm 23:1). David, at this point, has no green grass, and no still water. To be sure God does provide these things, but. . . Read more »

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Thieves in the Temple

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Rhetoric is a dangerous thing. Not only can we use over the top language to inflame the heart and blur the mind, but perhaps even more often we use soft language to dull the heart and ease the mind. My friends at Babies Are Murdered Here have found their simple message a powerful one not because it is incendiary language, but because it is plain and straightforward language. That it jars on the ear is proof of our own spiritual drowsiness. Thieves in the Government When in the past I have argued that the government is a den of thieves. . . Read more »

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Soul of the Solas

The Soul of the Solas

Five Solas—Alone Together? It puzzles me deeply that so few are puzzled deeply by the paradox. We are so used to the befuddling language that we miss its befuddling nature. It ought to stop us in our tracks and arrest our attention, like those signs I see for Fifth Third Bank. Fifth Bank I could understand. Third Bank I could understand. I could understand them merging to become Fourth Bank. But Fifth Third Bank? What does that even mean? In like manner, how is it that when our spiritual ancestors, our theological heroes, set out to tell us one thing, they. . . Read more »

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A Hero in a Minivan

A Hero in a Minivan

Like Father, Like Son My eight-year-old son has a heart bigger than his brain. About six months ago I went into his bedroom to turn off his reading light. (The children are given time for reading after bedtime.) There he sat propped up on the top bunk, holding volume one of the Basic Writings of Saint Augustine. “What’re you reading, my son?” I asked him. “The City of God,” he replied nonchalantly. He was far cooler than his bug-eyed father. I had to do some quick thinking. I didn’t want to discourage him, nor to encourage him too much. I. . . Read more »

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The Judge of All the Earth

The Judge of All the Earth

TV Judgment I have to confess. I’m not saying it was the healthiest thing in the world to do, but boy did we love doing it. It would be evening, the children in bed or playing quietly. I would look across the room at my dear wife. She’d cock an eyebrow, I’d give a sly grin. “You want to?” “Yeah, let’s. Let’s go watch a murder show.” We loved these programs. You know the ones I mean. Keith Morrison would stand before a beautiful log cabin and say, “They had it all. He, a booming business, she children and friends. . . Read more »

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The Kingdom is Now

The Kingdom is Now

The Bible is One Book I am deeply grateful to my Old Testament professor. Though I was young and foolish while in seminary, I have, by God’s grace, been growing less young and less foolish over time. I used to argue with him about as often as I now look back with thanks in my heart. He not only taught me how to understand the Old Testament, but at the same time how to understand the Bible. He taught me that the Bible is one book. There are two key elements I learned from him that touch directly on the issue. . . Read more »

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Homeschooling & the Problem of Adam & Eve

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Eve’s Problem Husbands, we have a problem, and it has existed from the fall. In the Garden of Eden, right after Adam and Eve sinned, God pronounced judgment. To Eve He said, among other things, “Your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16, NASB). This curse isn’t that the woman will want to be with her husband, but that she will want to be her husband, to rule her husband. It is a two-edged curse. Because the woman was made to be a help to the man and to follow and submit to. . . Read more »

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Strange Bedfellows

Strange Bedfellows

Preaching the Gospel at the Gates of Hell All is not actually fair in love and war. And the enemy of my enemy is likely not to be my ally. Two days ago I had the occasion to speak to a group of pro-lifers on ministering outside abortion mills. My desire was to explore how the gospel is what is needed at the gates of hell. I wanted folks to understand we are not there to protest, to affirm, “We oppose what you are doing. We are offended, and we insist you stop.” Neither, however, are we there merely to. . . Read more »

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Knowledge Without Zeal

Knowledge Without Zeal

Diversity in the Body of Christ When Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, describes the church as the body of Christ, he speaks more wisely than we fools tend to hear. As is the habit of the modern evangelical church, we take the full, rich, and, indeed, beautiful instructions on how we are to live our lives together for the kingdom and reduce them down to something true but banal, safe, and reasonable. Paul tells us we are the body of Christ, and we hear, “Be nice to each other.” It is a slight improvement if this message reminds. . . Read more »

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The In Between

The In Between

Between Remembering & Forgetting There lies not a thin line but a great open plain between remembering and forgetting. This open space is perhaps best called haunting. Yesterday I was driving my thirteen year old back from an orthodontist appointment. What could be more ordinary, more suburban? We waited in our average sedan for the light to turn green when I asked her a question I never would have anticipated when she had been born: When we are sitting here at this light, does it cross your mind that your mother and your sister are buried right over there? This. . . Read more »

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Treasure In, Treasure Out

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Written January 2012 Beautiful Home My beautiful wife loved nothing more than to beautify.  She devoted herself to creating a beautiful home. She planted flowers, bushes and trees outside. Inside she hung, placed, painted and etched. Even when she was not well, this was where her heart was. Over the course of the last nine months of her life, most of it spent in sundry hospitals, she watched, I suspect, more Home and Garden Television than all of HGTV’s executives combined. Her pursuit of beauty, however, did not have its end in a pretty house, but in a godly home.. . . Read more »

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What the Heavens Declare

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Ample Arguement It never ceases to surprise me what gets people’s dander up. Sometimes it’s the significant, sometimes the petty. But most of the time it’s getting their toes stepped on. I recently walked into a room full of unhappy moms, all aflutter over men with long hair, tattoos, and other trendy trinkets that tar the terminally hip. Battle lines were drawn between the defenders of decency and the defenders of liberty. They were nice to each other, as moms are wont to be, but neither side was taking any prisoners. Finally one wise woman spoke these words, “Does not. . . Read more »

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Here

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40 Years of Abortion Debate Rhetoric is a slippery device. Sometimes we use it to obfuscate, sometimes to clarify. Sometimes, however, our attempts to clarify betray us, and we end up obfuscating. For over forty years now Christians have entered into debate on the abortion issue. We brought the wisdom of God’s Word. We brought the latest information from genetics. We brought profound moral philosophers. We wrote learned journal articles, engaged in nuanced debates. We thought we were fighting for life, but is it just possible that the devil was successfully turning our labors into policy conundrums, political fodder, even. . . Read more »

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The Son Rising in the East—Cultural Transformation

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The early church faced at least two distinct and competing enemies. While Jesus walked the earth and after, the great challenge to the kingdom of God was found both in the Roman Empire and in Judaism. An armed force that was, though given to emperor worship, essentially secular and a false religion put their differences aside to eradicate a faith built around a King who had been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Coexistence of Peace & Brutality I was reminded of this odd juxtaposition several years ago when I had the opportunity to travel to Burma to. . . Read more »

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Legalistic Relativism

Legalistic Relativist

The appeal of ethical relativism is rather plain to see. If there is no right and wrong then I can’t be convicted of any wrong. Ethical relativism allows me to write my own law, to edit on the fly, to finish “I may do this…” with an unassailable “…because I want to.” Desire becomes its own justification. My will becomes my law. Relative Morality? This appeal, however, soon enough begins to dissipate if we have any interest at all in being coherent, consistent in our thinking. We quickly turn, “I may do this, because I want to” into “You may. . . Read more »

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Losing Privileges

Losing Privileges

Is this a Christian country? There are likely as many ways to answer the question as there are stripes on our flag. Yes, the country was populated at its beginning with Christians looking for a place to worship freely. But that was before we became a country. Yes, many of our founding fathers were sincere professing Christians. But many of them were not. Yes, we are Christian in the same sense as all of Europe is Christian — it is the faith tradition of the majority in our country. But no, we have rejected the faith of our fathers. Yes,. . . Read more »

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Losing the Fruit for the Trees

Losing the Fruit for the Trees

I’ve been thinking through, and nailing down my strategy for the coming year, and for the years after that. It has four parts. Pursue growth in grace and wisdom.  It is wisdom to remember that progress in this life is nothing more nor less than becoming more like Jesus. When I wake up each morning this ought to be my holy passion, when I lie down my most fervent prayer. The fruit of the Spirit, happily, is self-perpetuating. That is, the more I live for love, joy, peace, patience, the more satisfied I am with love, joy, peace, patience, and. . . Read more »

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Someone is Wrong on the Internet

Someone is Wrong on the Internet

It takes two to tango, and that doesn’t even include the band. Our choices, our behaviors, are rarely as discreet as we think they are. Not only do our decisions bleed into our other decisions, they touch on other people’s lives, more often than not. No man is an island; neither is any man a peninsula. Cyber Gossip First, consider gossip. If gossip is spoken in the woods and no one hears, does it still make a mess? Guarding our tongues is important. But we need to guard our ears as well. Without an audience, gossip dies on the vine. It. . . Read more »

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Pleasures Forevermore

Pleasures Forevermore by Dr. R.C. Sproul Jr.

“Two things I ask of you; deny them not to me before I die: Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” So the wisdom of Agur, found in Proverbs 30, reminds us. Though sin knows no tax brackets — the poor can be greedy and the rich envious — peculiar circumstances tend to produce peculiar temptations. Agur fears. . . Read more »

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Enlightened Self-Interest

Enlightened Self-Interest

The last Saturday in October is perhaps my favorite day of the year. The Southwest Virginia church I served for more than a dozen years has a grand celebration every year on that day. The people celebrate the grace of God in bringing us the Reformation, which began October 31, 1517, when Martin Luther nailed his Ninety-Five Theses on the church door in Wittenberg. The celebration includes a telling of the story of Martin Luther to the children around a bonfire with s’mores. (I told the story when we lived there.) It includes contests in cooking chili and in cooking. . . Read more »

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The Wife of Your Youth

Wedding Day—Denise & R.C.

It was a heartbreaking comment from my heartbroken son. Two years after her passing Campbell posted this—Realized today that I have no more remaining memories of my mother before she was sick. Even the older memories, sick her has been superimposed over the version of her who was really there. From the time Campbell was seven to the time he was 16 he watched his mom go through three different battles with cancer the last of which ended with her home-going. As painful as his honest assessment of his own experience is, it is not my experience. While I maintain. . . Read more »

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Beautiful in Its Time

Beautiful in Its Time

Hi, I’m RC, and I’m a nostalgia addict. I’ve been attending meetings for at least twenty years. Why, I remember back in the day, at those first meetings… I don’t remember everything I read. I don’t remember the great names and dates of history. I do, however, remember the layout of the basement of a family’s house we visited once, when I was nine. I remember the taste of the overdone cake my girlfriend made for me for the Sadie Hawkins dance in 1980, and the FM radio headphones she won as a prize for the cake. I don’t remember. . . Read more »

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Many Happy Returns

Many Happy Returns

Isn’t it revealing that the two biggest shopping days of the year are the day after Thanksgiving, and the day after Christmas? Having stuffed ourselves with turkey and trimmings, having purportedly given thanks, we wake up before dawn the next day to go and get more stuff. Maybe, just maybe, if we get up early enough, and if we show enough stamina, maybe this time we’ll end up satisfied. Christmas morning we wake up, open all those presents, and begin plotting our strategy for the next day, when we will return and exchange all the things that didn’t satisfy us.. . . Read more »

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Smart is Not a Fruit

RC FACE FOR FACEBOOK

Leave it to Reformed people to miss the point. When Paul describes the body of Christ as a body, part of which includes hands, ears, and so forth, we are quick to mark our territory — we are the brain of the church. We are the ones who are so rightly careful about our theology. The great minds of the church have been Reformed, and one could certainly argue that the greatest mind, theological or otherwise, ever to grace our North American shores was one Jonathan Edwards. There is no question the man had a towering intellect. We would be wise. . . Read more »

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I Love You All the Way to China

      It’s a big world, and I am a small man. It’s a long day, and it’s only just begun. One of the blessings that comes with my calling is travel. As I type I await boarding my flight from Wenzhou, where I have spent the past week teaching at a Reformed seminary, to Shanghai. There I will have an eight hour layover, before a fourteen hour flight to Detroit. I will there be whisked off to Toledo where I will preach “tomorrow” morning, before finally heading home to my family. Given the time changes, my day today. . . Read more »

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Defending the Defenseless

Perhaps I’m a smidge sensitive to the issue, but it seems the evangelical wing of the world wide web has, of late, spent a great deal of cyber ink cataloging who did what.  John MacArthur, we are told, is a no good so and so for putting on a conference teaching his view of the sign gifts. Mark Driscoll may have played fast and loose in his citations of Peter Jones, and Janet Mefferd may or may not have been a less than gracious radio host. I happen, in the providence of God, to know all of the above, though. . . Read more »

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Eyes to See

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It was my habit — my sophomoric habit — to proudly argue from my ignorance that we ought always to consider last things last. That is, recognizing the great difficulty in grasping the meaning of the end times and the final book of God’s Word, I thought discretion the better part of valor, and I suggested formerly that we can wait to figure out what the end means until after we have mastered all the other important stuff, like the stuff I was interested in and with which I felt reasonably competent. I was awakened from my eschatological slumbers, however, not. . . Read more »

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Well Enough to Complain

Well Enough to Complain

Originally published December 2011 Desperate times call for desperate measures. When we are in fear for our lives, there is precious little we aren’t willing to go through to make it out alive. We will endure long hardship. We will put up with humiliating procedures. We will grit our teeth through pain. We will bite bullets, all hoping to get to that place where the worry will subside, and we can move forward knowing we’re going to be okay. At which point we go back to normal; we begin again to grumble against the smallest irritants, buck against the simplest. . . Read more »

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The End of the End

The End of the End

When Alice found herself at a crossroads in Wonderland, she looked about for help. There in a tree nearby was a smile. Just a smile. Soon though, the full body of the Cheshire Cat appeared. Alice asked the cat which way she should go. The cat asked her where she was headed. Alice explained to him that she had no particular destination, and then the cat spoke words of wisdom—“Then it doesn’t matter.” If we are going nowhere we cannot go wrong. You can only get lost if you have a destination. Which is why eschatology matters. Rightly understood, eschatology, the. . . Read more »

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My Favorite Passage

In the space of just 39 months I went from being a family of one to being a family of four. In just another 33 months I was part of a family of six. The g-force wrought by the acceleration of the size of my family blew the hair right off the top of my head. We went from six to ten at a more genteel pace, adding the final four over the course of nine years. It’s been a great ride. Now, however, things are moving in the opposite direction. The fruitful vine and olive plants around my table. . . Read more »

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Simply, Separately, Deliberately: An Interview with R.C. Sproul Jr.

Simply, Separately, Deliberately: An Interview with R.C. Sproul Jr.

Tabletalk: How did you become a Christian, and how did you receive the call to ministry? R.C. Sproul Jr.: I was raised by my parents in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. For that I am eternally grateful. Though I had a number of conversion experiences, my last while a student in high school, I never remember a time that I did not believe the Bible was God’s Word, that Jesus was God incarnate, that He died for our sins and rose again. Having turned to Christ’s work, and committed my life to His rule, I still did not perceive myself to being. . . Read more »

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Wet Fish

Wet Fish

You would have thought that I had just belched my way through a “Hail Mary” the way the woman looked at me. I was a guest at the pastor’s house, having just recently preached in that far off shore. It was, I was told, the most Reformed, most conservative church on the whole of the island. We were conversing about something I thought perfectly innocuous. And in the course of the conversation I made some point with this illustration- “Well, when I, already owning a 9 millimeter semi-automatic rifle, wanted to buy an AR-15, my wife asked me what the. . . Read more »

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Secure Investments

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The Sermon on the Mount is tough to swallow all at once. Though what we have recorded for us in Matthew 5–7 is significantly shorter than the sermons most of us are used to, it is on the other hand rather more rich than what we are used to. It is chock full of what could be discreet, independent units worthy of a lifetime of study—the Beatitudes, the Lord’s Prayer, the exposition of the law of God, our calling to be salt and light. While I have not yet reached a full lifetime of considering this sermon, I have now. . . Read more »

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A Broken and Contrite Spirit

A Broken and Contrite Spirit

Obedience, of course, is a good thing. Our Father delights to see His children embracing His wisdom, heeding His warnings, walking in the joy that is His law. When we dance in His presence we presage the beauty and glory of heaven. But this is not how we get there. “In the beginning God” tells us that once there was God, and nothing else. There are no givens that He must contend with, and so everything that came after is utterly under His absolute control. He could have constructed a world in which there was no temptation. He could have. . . Read more »

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When Pigs Fly

When Pigs Fly

We Protestants tend to have something of a love/hate relationship with Thomas Aquinas. On the one hand, as Protestants, at least we who are Reformed, we value theological brilliance. We admire deeply the mind of Thomas, perhaps even dreaming that had he lived in our day, he surely would have been one of us. On the other hand, as Protestants we, well, protest. That is to say, that brilliant mind was likewise noticed and put to use by Rome. Thomas was a brilliant theologian for the Church of Rome. Brilliant we love—Church of Rome, not so much. We could spend some. . . Read more »

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Trust and Obey

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The KISS principle—Keep It Simple, Stupid—is itself a rather simple principle. It argues that when we find ourselves entangled in complex and complicated arguments, chances are we have already left the proper playing field. While, for instance, the gospel is a glory that can be studied and expounded upon for a lifetime of lifetimes, we nevertheless confess that something has gone wrong if we cannot rejoice in our salvation simply by confessing, “Lord be merciful to me, a sinner.” Jesus said that the man who prayed that way went home justified (Luke 18:14). The same is true after our souls. . . Read more »

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Five Questions We Should Ask Ourselves Before Posting on Social Media

5 Questions We Should Ask Ourselves Before Posting to Social Media

Cyberspace is not only infinite, but eternal. No matter how silly, foolish, embarrassing our thoughts might be, they will be allowed to merge onto the information superhighway. But, all the off-ramps are closed. Believing the best defense is a, well, great defense, here are five things we ought to ask ourselves before posting anything on social media. 1. Ask yourself—if my mother, pastor, spouse, children were to read this, would they be ashamed of me? The point is not that our calling in life is to be certain no one is ever embarrassed by us. Indeed your mother, pastor, spouse,. . . Read more »

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Skin in the Game

Skin in the Game

It is, of course, no game, but is instead as intense, as ugly, and as earnest as sin. The devil, however, eager to protect games, ugliness and sin, wants us to forget what is at stake. He wants us to think we’re engaged in issues of mere strategy. He wants us to weigh and calculate, which, of course, is to give up the war. But babies are at stake. I was, just days ago, driving down to the Orlando Women’s Center. I knew that when I’d arrive my friend and hero John Barros would be there. He’s always there. With. . . Read more »

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Breaking Good

Breaking Good

With its final episode airing recently we heard an awful lot lately about Breaking Bad, a program that told the fictional story of a high school teacher and family man who becomes a vicious killer and cooker of meth. Like watching a car wreck we all have a morbid interest, to mix a metaphor, in moral crash landings. We click on the links that tell us of the atrocities committed by Muslims against their own Christian neighbors. Our ears perk up when the news reports about the Ohio daycare worker who committed unspeakable acts on her charge. We want to. . . Read more »

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