When there are simple, straightforward jobs to be done, and you are full of sadness, and tears are flowing easily, go ahead and do the jobs with tears. Be realistic. Say to your tears, “Tears, I feel you. You make me want to quit life. But there is a field to be sown (dishes to be washed, car to be fixed, sermon to be written).”
The best kind of life that you could ever have is not in the hoarding of money and in rising to the highest position in your company or in getting prestige for a job well done. They are all good but they are not the greatest. The greatest, according to the Bible, is knowing Christ and living according to his will. So build your life on Christ. This is the only kind of life that has the capacity for real greatness.
—Baccalaureate Address for UE Caloocan
Evangelicals are not heretics, at least not consciously. If we ask whether the Bible is the authoritative and inerrant Word of God, most will answer affirmatively, at least if the question is asked in traditional ways. Is the Bible God’s Word? Of course! All evangelicals know that. Is it authoritative? Yes, that too. Inerrant? Most evangelicals will affirm inerrancy. But many evangelicals have abandoned the Bible all the same simply because they do not think it is adequate for the challenges we face today. They do not think it is sufficient for winning people to Christ in this age, so they turn to felt-need sermons or entertainment or “signs and wonders” instead. They do not think the Bible is sufficient for achieving Christian growth, so they turn to therapy groups or Christian counseling. They do not think it is sufficient for making God’s will known, so they look for external signs or revelations. They do not think it is adequate for changing our society, so they establish evangelical political groups and work to elect “Christian” congressmen, senators, presidents, and other officials. They seek change by power politics and money.
—James Montgomery Boice
I may never understand the hidden purposes of God in suffering but I don’t think that I need to. I can only understand that perfumes are made by crushing the choicest of flowers. The only way to separate gold from impurities is by making it pass through extreme heat. In the same way, Christians come out pure by passing through the fires of suffering.
Your smartphone pushes you to evade the limits of embodiment.
We try to break through the boundaries of time and space, and we end up ignoring the flesh and blood around us. In reality, we are finite. We assume that we can drive cars and read and write on our phones all at the same time, but we are weaker than our assumptions.
Continue reading Evading the Limits of Embodiment
“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read wholly, and with diligence and attention.”
We must never think that godliness will insulate us against pain. Love does not make us numb; it makes us feel losses all the more. We are wrong to think that submission means no tears, no breaking of the heart, no inward struggles, and no troubling questions. Job did not tear his clothes and shave his head merely out of custom. He tore his robe because his heart was torn to pieces. He cut his hair because all his hopes for his children were cut off. Can you imagine what it would be like to bury all your children in one day?
—Terry Slachter, Joel Beeke: Encouragement for Today’s Pastors
In the book “Encouragement for Today’s Pastors: Help from the Puritans,“ Terry Slachter and Joel Beeke’s words are like balm for the pastor’s soul. It is amazing how we sometimes feel like we are the only ones facing ministry problems. The Puritans have been there and they offer wise words for us who do ministry in the 21st century.
Continue reading Like Balm for the Soul
Before the Apostle John wrote about the miraculous healing of the nobleman’s son in John 4:46-54, he made a quick reference to the first miracle of Jesus when he turned the water into wine at a wedding in Cana. Why did he do that? The Bible is known for its economy of words —only what is absolutely necessary must be included. Why the reference? James Montgomery Boice gave us a very good answer: because these two miracles are meant to be read together.
Continue reading The Gospel for Weddings and Funerals
For some reason God always chooses to display his power against the backdrop of human weakness. His remarkable works in the Bible and in history are performed using weak human vessels. I believe he does this on purpose so that we would know that the work of the Lord, the ministries and jobs he gave us, are meant to be accomplished using his power, not ours. J.I. Packer is right. Weakness is the way.
Continue reading Weakness is the Way
Faithful ministers may expect from the Lord Jesus Christ all those supplies of both skill and strength that they need in order to fulfill their ministry…. He will teach their fingers to fight, and the arms of their hands shall be made strong by the mighty God of Jacob. He will anoint them with fresh oil, and renew their bow in their hand. He will give them a new heart and a new spirit, give power to them when they are faint, and when they have no might he will give an increase of strength. They who wait upon the Lord, who wait on their ministry, shall renew their strength as the eagles and mount up with wings [Isa. 40:31]…. Ministers are his ambassadors, and as long as they act by His authority and keep to their credentials, He will bear them up and bear them out.
— Thomas Foxcroft
Few sentences in the Bible generated as much controversy in our day as Ephesians 5:22’s text on marriage. In it, Paul commanded Christian wives to submit to their husbands. Some writers say this verse was so controversial that it helped launch the women’s liberation movement of the 60’s. Never mind that the verse has more words attached to it. And never mind that there is a wider context to Paul’s words. Or that Paul actually had more to say to husbands. The word “submit” was just too much for many people. In their minds, the word is synonymous to oppression, subjugation, or dominance.
Continue reading Wives, Submit. Husbands, Die!