It has been ten days since a police officer shot and killed an African-American man in St. Louis, and there have been increasing calls for pastors to speak up about it. In fact yesterday morning I saw one of the Ferguson protest leaders on CNN lamenting the relative silence from pastors on what happened.

The question though: what should pastors say? For whom should they speak up? Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile (who pastors a church about 15 miles away from me) pleads with pastors to break their silence and speak out against the injustice of using lethal force against an unarmed teenager. Meanwhile Pastor Joshua Waulk wrote a compelling post urging pastors to “stop using language that is unduly sympathetic to the pro-Brown narrative, without regard for the potential innocence of PO Wilson, such as repeatedly calling Brown an unarmed teenager.”   Continue Reading…

When other people treat us badly, or backstab us, or wrongly speak ill of us, how are we to respond?

Jeremiah Burroughs, in The Rare Jewel of Contentment, answers that question by reminding us that, even when others mistreat us, it is no excuse for growing anxious, angry, or discontent.

He says this:

* * * * *

“I think I could be content with God’s hand,” says one, “So far as I see the hand of God in a thing I can be content. But when men deal so unreasonably and unjustly with me, I do not know how to bear it. I can bear that I should be in God’s hands, but not in the hands of men. When my friends or acquaintances deal so unrighteously with me, oh, this goes very hard with me, so that I do not know how to bear it from men.”

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This is information is about forty-five years the wrong side of news; but it’s news to me. On July 20, 1969, moments after the lunar module, The Eagle, alighted upon the Sea of Tranquility, a solitary Presbyterian church elder celebrated the Lord’s Supper in reverent silence—on the Moon.Moon

Commander Buzz Aldrin had stashed a piece of bread, a capsule of wine, and a tiny silver chalice onboard the Columbia, and smuggled it into space with him. Before his historic walkabout, Aldrin requested a brief radio silence. He described the following moment in the 1970 issue of Guideposts magazine:

I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.

His actions were at first kept secret because NASA was embroiled in a lawsuit with an atheist who was suing them for broadcasting a public reading of the Bible by the crew of Apollo 8 (evidence that missing the point is not limited to the religious).

When I read of Aldrin’s Eucharistic exploits, I found myself thinking, that’s pretty neat, except for one thing—that’s not communion.

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August 15, 2014

Law and Grace

by Wyatt Graham

Schütte_&_Pöppe_Fabrik_hauswirtschaftlicher_Maschinen_Hannover-Linden_Rechnung_1909-01-16_Rückseite_Detail_IIIIIIIIIIBalancing God’s grace with his commands can overload even the most sincere Christian. And it’s not only lay believers who struggle with this balance. Recently, Christian leaders vigorously debated how to balance law and grace in the Christian’s life. Some argued that Christians should live their life solely by grace, while others advocated that both grace and law should guide a person’s life.

You’ve probably experienced the practical side to the debate in your life. Recall sinful behavior that you struggle with, and which you want to overcome. Perhaps you struggle with pornography, recurring anger, or even slothfulness. Whatever your struggle is, you’ve probably tried many different ways to overcome it. Do you rely on grace and turn to God’s commands in the Bible or create a system of rules that guide your eyes away from your ailing sin? Or, do you turn solely to God’s grace to overcome this sin? Put another way, do try to find some command in the Bible to tell you what to do, or do you rely on God’s grace even if you accidentally do something against God’s will?

I have seen both tactics take place in lives of people around me. I have observed people struggling with bitterness run to Scripture and locate all of the verses that directly apply to that area and hang them around the house, and start to memorize them. These verses often are commands to put off, followed by a command towards the opposite godly trait. After creating these “rules”, grief and remorse can often roll down upon them and refuse to leave—taunting them that they the uttermost sinner who will only ever wallow in this sin and never conquer it.  Continue Reading…

A while ago, I reading Acts 4 when I noticed something I hadn’t seen before and I thought I would share with the fantastic Cripplegate readers. Acts 5:14-21 is a great little text that gives a wonderful example of the noetic effects of sin; how sin affects the mind and the rational process.  The unbelieving mind is anything but neutral regarding facts and their relationship to God, and Acts 4:14-21 displays that in rather stark language.

Thinking

Acts 4 follows Acts 3, where Peter and John heal a lame man who’s more than 40 years old (Acts 4:22).  He’s lame, asks for money, they command him to rise up and walk, and he does (Acts 3:1-9) in full view of many people in the Temple and thousands had heard about it almost immediately (Acts 4:4).  Everyone knows the guy because he’s been lying on his mat for a long time(Acts 3:10) and then Peter preaches the good news of the resurrection of Christ in the temple (Acts 3:11-26).  Then, in Acts 4 Peter and John are called before the Sanhedrin the next day and the Sanhedrin read them the riot act (Acts 4:4-13)  Then, comes this passage: Continue Reading…

August 13, 2014

RIP?

by Jordan Standridge

What did you think about when you heard of Robin Williams suicide? What was your first thought? For a friend of mine it was the following words:

Everyday they pass me by,

I can see it in their eyes.

Empty people filled with care,

Headed who knows where?

On they go through private pain,

Living fear to fear.

Laughter hides their silent cries,

Only Jesus hears.

Love or hate Steve Green–but there’s a whole lot of truth to this song.   Continue Reading…

August 12, 2014

Please, Tell Me So

by Eric Davis

We’ll keep this brief. Not much more needs to be said about the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill situation. Just three quick items for consideration as we’ve had a few days to consider some of the responses.

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ebola virus If you haven’t read Al Mohler’s brilliant response to Ann Coulter, you need to. Or, if you prefer a version with zombies in it, read on.

Last week an American doctor, Kent Brantly, and a nurse who contracted the Ebola virus on a medical outreach trip to Africa were flown home to be treated. Ann Coulter, a (loud) mouthpiece for political conservatives opined that the misguided Christian do-gooders ought rather to have stayed Stateside and focused their philanthropy on, say, Hollywood tycoons, so the world could be reached by the inevitable trickle down effect of Christianized American culture.

No, I’m not putting words in the horse’s mouth:

If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia.”

–Ann Coulter.

Ms Coulter went on to describe missionaries as cowards who slink off to Africa rather than boldly evangelising fellow capitalists. Mohler’s reply gave a voice to us Christians who were choking on our Chick-Fil-A in dumbfounded astonishment at her suggestion. He reminded us that Jesus deployed his disciples to go into the nations with the gospel, not just stay put and commandeer the entertainment industry.

That’s why we call them missionaries, and not stationaries.

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***Update from August 11 – In the light of the meltdown that this post has caused, and in response to a friend who gave me a little “what for” with regards to this post, I’ve gone through and attempted to edit it and soften my responses as much as possible.  This is a touchy subject matter and I didn’t treat either John Piper or Justin Taylor with the respect that they deserve.  We’re all works in progress…some with more room for progress than others…sigh***

A few days ago, I had an article passed on to me called Nine Reasons We Can Be Confident Christians Won’t Be Raptured Before The Tribulation from Justin Taylor’s blog, in which he was summarizing/re-blogging an article by John Piper.  A bunch of folks got worked up (on the internet?  What?), but my superiors asked me to respond and so I agreed to write a response.  Now I’m no stranger to disagreement and my various theological positions that have essentially made me the sweaty asthmatic nerd on the playground of Evangelicalism (nobody likes an outspoken cessationist who is Calvinistic and dispensational), so I’ve basically got nothing to lose!

Nerd

Justin Taylor linked to this article by John Piper and delivers nine reasons why he finds the concept of the pre-tribulational rapture problematic.  Let’s take a look at each one in full, and I’ll post my responses in green: Continue Reading…

As more courts overturn laws that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, I have encountered many Christians who are genuinely confused about the issue. Because our culture has almost entirely capitulated to the notion of same-sex weddings, it is becoming common for believers to defend these unions as “marriage” because, after all, the government shouldn’t legislate morality (or “separation of church and state,” or some other line like that).

But in order to articulate the case against the judicial redefinition of marriage (which I will do next week–this isn’t that post), a person first must have a firm grasp on the answer to this foundational question: What is the role of government?

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