frenchman_mountain_trail_4

upload.wikimedia.org

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith” (2 Tim. 4:7).

Though he was facing a brutal death before the ink could dry, I imagine that the apostle Paul had great joy at the time he wrote those words. Nothing could’ve been more thrilling to him than to be able to finish well. Nothing could’ve put him at greater peace prior to execution than having faithfully run the race in biblical ministry.

I recall sitting before our elders and professors just prior to launching into pastoral ministry: “You are going to have to keep a long obedience in the same direction.” With only eight years of pastoral ministry in the church I serve, I often think about the need to endure, especially as I see men in my generation disqualifying. And even more especially as the Lord shows me my own weaknesses.

For help in ministry longevity, it makes sense to look to those men who, by God’s grace, have weathered decades of the normal ministry storms without sinking. In our day, one of those is Dr. John MacArthur. This February, Dr. MacArthur will have been faithfully shepherding Grace Community Church for 48 years. That’s about 576 months or 2496 Sundays.

Whatever an individual with that track record has to say about ministry longevity is going to be valuable. In a sermon that I have found particularly helpful, Dr. MacArthur draws from the apostle Paul’s life, giving nine characteristics of an enduring ministry (each point will be summarized):

Continue Reading…

holding-handsI still remember the hike I was on when I was confronted. A couple from our church noticed that my relationship with my girlfriend was unhealthy. We were not sinning sexually, but they thought that we were being unwise. We were spending far too much time together. I arrived at the Masters College with a desire to serve the Lord for the rest of my life, I had never dated before and was not prepared to enter into a relationship. Little did I know that on the first day of school I would meet the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. We began hanging out, and very soon we were studying together, having meals together, and pretty much spending hours a day together. And despite the fact that we were being pure, we were risking a great amount.

Looking around today it is quite difficult to find a couple who is dating wisely. Many people sleep together (even some within the church), and those who don’t, seem to get to the point where they are acting married soon after they begin their relationship. Some spend far more time together than most married couples do. They text each other dozens of times a day, they have most meals together and they spend full days together. They may call each other names of endearment, and talk about the kind of furniture they want to buy for their home together. Maybe they refer to each other as “my guy” or “my girl” before there is any real commitment. And even if they are staying sexually pure there can still be areas that need to be re-evaluated within their relationship. Of course, there must be time spent together in order for them to get to know each other to determine whether they ought to marry. I don’t know your heart or situation, nor am I the Holy Spirit, all people in a relationship must look to their own heart in order to determine whether they’re acting married in any way. Following are five dangers to consider when in a dating relationship that looks like a marriage.

Continue Reading…

 

keep-calmIn 1988 Bobby McFerrin dropped his enormously popular hit that would become the first a capella song to summit the Billboard Top 100 chart to reach the #1 spot.

“Don’t Worry, Be Happy” resonated with a generation of those who identify as overstressed, overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.

The lyrics, sung in an affected accent amid the bobbing and weaving of McFerrin’s own vocal gymnastics, became an anthem for the economically oppressed urbanites and a mantra for the angst-ridden collegiate coeds. Many know more stanzas of this song than of the national anthem.

In every life we have some trouble
But when you worry, you make it double

Ain’t got no place to lay your head
Somebody came and took your bed
Don’t worry, be happy
The landlord say your rent is late
He may have to litigate
Don’t worry, (ha-ha ha-ha ha-ha) be happy (look at me, I’m happy)

Ooo-oo-hoo-hoo-oo hoo-hoo-oo-oo-oo-oo-ooo Don’t worry
Woo-oo-woo-oo-woo-oo-ooo Be happy […etc. …]

The problem with this cheerful chant is that it is misleading; it posits that the opposite of worry is happiness. Let’s delve into a verse of Scripture that brings rich theological protein to this otherwise unsubstantial cotton-candy advice.

Philippians 4:5-6 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything,

Continue Reading…

I recently had the privilege of sitting down with David Wheaton on The Christian Worldview radio program to talk about my book, Sanctification: The Christian’s Pursuit of God-Given Holiness. It was a pleasure to be David’s guest and to meditate again on the Bible’s foundational truths concerning the believer’s pursuit of sanctification. I hope our conversation will be edifying to you as well.

 

1:44 – Tell us about your background, how you became a follower of Christ, and what you do now.

4:51 – Can you give us a definition of sanctification?

5:55 – Sanctification is often thought of as follows: “I’m sanctified if I’m doing good things, and not doing sinful things.” Is that accurate?

8:35 – Explain the two pitfalls of Quietism and moralism in the pursuit of sanctification.

15:40 – Why is sanctification so little preached and discussed in the evangelical church? Or is it?

17:57 – What’s the relationship between sanctification and participation in secular culture?

20:33 – Talk briefly about how sanctification is both internal and external.

24:15 – What is the Holy Spirit’s role in sanctification?

25:35-26:40, 30:28-30:47 – How is this command to fix our eyes on Christ the key to pursuing sanctification?

34:19 – One often hears about a “Gospel-centered” approach to sanctification. What does that mean? Is that the same as fixing your eyes on Jesus?

38:08-39:32, 42:29 – Talk about the idea of overcoming sin and temptation by turning our affections toward loving what God loves.

Image result for The Pastor and Counseling

The Pastor and Counseling, by Jeremy Pierre (Dean of Students at Southern Seminary) and Deepak Reju (Counseling Pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church), is an excellent little book written for pastors who find themselves with a desire to counsel, but don’t quite know where to begin. It serves as a how-to manual, walking pastors through the biblical mandate for counseling as well as the practical process for creating a culture of counseling in the church. It covers everything from how to start a counseling session through the last meeting.

In terms of biblical counseling, this is not a particularly deep book. It doesn’t have a developed argument against psychology in counseling—although they do say that one of a pastor’s primary roles is to “depsychologize” people’s understanding of their problems. Pierre and Reju don’t give a verse-by-verse description of the content of your counseling session. This is not a “what verses help people with anger?” kind of book.   Continue Reading…

summer-2011-145With each passing year it seems like life gets busier, making it harder to prioritize priorities. Even church can get crowded out of our schedule. While there are legitimate reasons why we cannot always gather for things like Sunday worship and home groups, we ought to be cautious here. Often times, we forsake gatherings for not-the-best reasons.

In no particular order, here are a few reasons why we often miss church gatherings but probably do not need to.

Continue Reading…

brave-dadRecently as I was reading John MacArthur’s book Brave Dad, I found a section in which He gives “Ten Crucial Lessons Every Father Should Teach”. Obviously, MacArthur is known for his expository, verse by verse teaching. But sitting under his preaching for almost ten years I always loved his “lists” many he came up with while sitting at a restaurant writing on napkins. Obviously, it wasn’t the bread and butter of his ministry, neither should it have been, but when you’ve preached through the whole New Testament and know the entire Bible so well, you are bound to see patterns in Scripture and are able to come up with lists like these.

MacArthur takes these lessons out of Proverbs 1-10 and though he directs it from fathers to sons, it is obvious that mothers and daughters can benefit from this list as well. He also adds a warning at the end of this section showing how our failure to teach each of these areas gives the devil the opportunity to teach the exact opposite.

  1. Teach Your Children to Fear God

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge (Prov. 1:7).

Macarthur talks about the fact that we must teach our kids the attributes of God. When we do so properly they will come to fear him. Not only will they fear Him in a reverential way but also they will fear sinning against Him, this will help your children to recognize that God is worthy of honor and invokes in them a desire to live righteously. In order to teach this properly the parents must fear God as well and in turn, sin will be hated in the family. If we don’t teach our children to fear God, the devil will teach them to reject and hate God.

Continue Reading…

Here are some practical tips I found on the net on how to be happy:

  1. Get regular exercise, be healthy. Go for a brisk walk, get health issues you are in control of sorted out and stay hydrated by drinking copious amounts of filtered water.
  2. Socialize with happy people. Studies have shown that spending time with good friends who have a positive outlook on life dramatically increases subjective reports of wellbeing and happiness.
  3. Learn a new skill. When people focus on learning a new language, craft, or sport they exhibit higher levels of happiness.
  4. Engage frequently in simple activities that bring you pleasure. The concept of “flow” is that sense of satisfaction and fulfillment and happiness one experiences when doing something enjoyable and doing it well. One simple example is eating a favorite food as a treat— in moderation of course.

And here are some tips I found for caring for my dog’s wellbeing:dog-out-a-window

  1. Regularly take your dog for a brisk walk for exercise, give him lots of fresh water, and get health issues sorted out quickly.
  2. Socialize your dog by making an effort to get him out to parks where there are other dogs.
  3. Train your dog and teach him skills.
  4. Let your dog engage in activities that bring him pleasure like hanging his head out the window, and give your dog an enjoyable treat to eat—in moderation.

Of mutts and men

I’m not sure what insight is to be found in how similar and environmentally sensitive canine and human happiness is. But there is another aspect in which dogs and humans correlate. One site on K-9 police dogs said that the animal’s wellbeing is inextricable from his relationship with his handler.

If he has a kind master who provides for physical needs, expresses love and affection through touch and tone of voice, and spends time with the dog, he will be almost oblivious to any other circumstance besides what the master requires of the dog. And this total obedience is born out of the canine’s trust in his handler.

I wish the psychology websites included this in their advice on how humans can be happy.

Thankfully, Christians already know that joy stems from being in a right relationship with a loving, generous, and trustworthy Master through obedience.

One compact and clear verse that teaches this is Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.

Continue Reading…

new-year-2017As we enter the beginning of the New Year, many people are reflecting on the previous year and how they’ve lived their lives, and are making resolutions and determinations to live better in the coming year, whatever that may mean. The process seems to involve a kind of refocusing on things that are important to us so that when we will have come to the end of this next year we will look even more favorably on it than the previous one.

As we anticipate the challenges and opportunities of 2017, I want to repost an open letter that focuses on the most important realities in the world. And the addressee of my open letter is you. No matter who you are—whether young in the faith, a seasoned saint, or not a believer in Jesus at all; whether we’re good friends, have only spoken a few times, or if I don’t know you from Adam—I can think of nothing more profitable that I’d like to say directly to you. And perhaps the most interesting distinctive about this open letter for 2017 is that it’s nothing new. It’s the same old message for a brand new year, because it’s the only message that is sufficient to transcend all times and cultures. It is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I hope you’ll read carefully.

Continue Reading…

December 28, 2016

Top 10 posts of 2016

by C-Gate Links

This is our blogs’ sixth year, and we are grateful for all of our readers. We hope our posts continue to be helpful and edifying, and are thankful that so many people subscribe and make a habit of reading. It is always humbling to hear from people who use our blog as a regular part of their spiritual-life.

With that in mind, here are our most read Cripplegate posts of 2016. Four of them were not even originally posted this year, but apparently they have remained helpful to people months (and years) after they were written. This list was tabulated by unique IP addresses to view a post in this past calendar year, and done by averaging the stats from WordPress and Google:   Continue Reading…