Archive for December, 2009


Most of us have experienced some stress and tension during the Christmas season dealing with family, or sometimes even thinking about. How do you talk about things you know you disagree about? Should you simply avoid any subject that might be controversial in the slightest?

Russell Moore has written an excellent article on how to handle family tensions that arise during the holidays. You can read it here. He stresses peace, honor, humility, maturity, and perspective. It’s worth reading and thinking about.

Read Full Post »

Jesus Christ is the point at which God and man intersect.

Not only did Jesus make amazing claims about Himself, but so did the apostle Paul. in Colossians 2:9, he wrote, “For in Him (referring to Christ) all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.”

What an incredible statement! Listen to it again and let its meaning sink in – “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” The truth of the incarnation is summarized in the twelve words that make up that verse. The biblical doctrine of the incarnation states that Jesus Christ is undiminished deity and perfect humanity united in one person forever.

Jesus is undiminished deity because “all the fullness of Deity” dwells in Him. His “bodily form” is that of a perfect and sinless human nature that is untainted and unpolluted by sin. Somehow, by the will and power of God, both the divine and human nature of Jesus are brought together to dwell in Him forever.

The Scriptures, as well as two thousand years of Christian theology, are consistent in their belief and teaching that Jesus was not a deified man  or “watered down” god, but on the contrary, he is fully God and fully man. There is no mixture or mingling of His two distinct natures – divine and human. Jesus is one person with two natures.

But how can “the fullness of Deity dwell in bodily form”? How can the eternal and transcendent God be limited by time and space? How could the God who is omnipresent be in only one place at one time? How could the Creator become a creature Himself? How is it that the One who sustains, controls, and guides the universe be subject to pain, hunger, thirst, and the elements? How do Christ’s two natures relate to each other?

The incarnation is a doctrine that is full of wonder and awe, but we can’t forget that it is a mystery (in the biblical sense of the word). We can’t fully comprehend how “the fullness of Deity” can “dwell in bodily form,” but thankfully that’s something we were never asked to do. We are asked, however, to believe it – and believe it we must! May our belief in the incarnation be generously mixed with equal amounts of amazement, awe, and wonder.

Something to think about this Christmas season.

Read Full Post »


John Piper published an outstanding article called “Don’t Waste Your Cancer” after he was diagnosed with a form of  it several years ago. David Powlinson, a Christian counselor, has added his own comments which make the article even more outstanding. It’s a must-read.

The word “cancer” has been heard recently by a number of people I’m familiar with (some more, some less). Good theology and thinking on this subject is absolutely critical. Please read this article.

Read Full Post »

Here are five good books about the Puritans, not books written by them (that may come later, Lord willing). Any of these five would serve as an introduction to their theology and practice. Many people have a decidedly negative view of the Puritans, but in my opinion, that is unwarranted. A little bit of truth about them wouldn’t hurt and these books will full that need.

  1. Worldy Saints: The Puritans As They Really Were, by Leland Ryken.
  2. Meet the Puritans, by Joel Beeke and Randall Peterson.
  3. A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life, by J.I. Packer.
  4. The Puritan Hope: Revival and the Interpretation of Prophecy, by Iain Murray.
  5. The Puritans: Their Origins and Successors, by D. Martin Lloyd-Jones.


Read Full Post »

Why I Like the Puritans

I tend to read and quote Puritans quite a bit. Why?

I like the Puritans for a number of reasons, but one of them is that they take the Bible seriously. They were convinced that God’s Word speaks to every area of life and, consequently, they attempted to apply it to every area of life. I may disagree with some of their conclusions, but I respect the fact that they tried hard to figure it out. We should do the same thing.

For those who may not be aware, here are the names of a few Puritans: John Owen, Richard Baxter, Thomas Watson, Richard Sibbes, John Bunyan, and Jeremiah Burroughs.

Try them, I think you’ll like them.

Read Full Post »

In an interview with Mark Dever, Kevin DeYoung made an insightful comment about preaching. He said that preaching every week, week-in and week-out is both a grind and a glory. I think he’s absolutely right.

Preaching, as well as the preparation and the amount of energy expended, is at one and the same time difficult and wonderful. This is especially true for those of us who are in the pulpit every Sunday.

Preaching is a grind. That may sound hard to believe for some. “You’re proclaiming God’s inspired and infallible Word. How can that be difficult?” It’s a grind because it’s so regular. Sunday comes the same time every week without fail – it’s a deadline that does not move and cannot be changed. It’s a grind because, in most cases, the preacher never thinks he has prepared as thoroughly as possible. Preaching can be a grind because, to be perfectly honest, some passages are not as “exciting” or “preachable” as others. When you preach consecutively through books of the Bible as I do, you realize that not every passage is the same (even though it’s God’s Word). some parts of the Scripture are harder or easier to preach than others. Finally, preaching week-in week-out can be a grind because it (the privilege of preaching God’s Word) if it becomes routine. When the amazement and wonder fade, the grind sets in.

Preaching is also a glory. It is a privilege to be used by God to stand in front of the same congregation every Sunday and expound His truth. That’s something I don’t ever want to lose sight of – the fact that the Lord has chosen to use someone like me to preach His Word. Preaching is a glory because I know He will use His Word to accomplish His purposes. Isaiah wrote, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (55:10-11). God will save and sanctify people as His Word is preached. It’s glorious and encouraging to see the change God brings when His Word is preached. I’m privileged to play some part in that process.

As I preach week-in and week-out before the congregation I serve and before the face of God, it is both a grind and a glory, and that’s just the way it ought to be.

Read Full Post »


In Mark 14:3-9 the contrast between Mary and Judas Iscariot could not be clearer.

Mary (whose identity is determined by the parallel passage – John 12:1-8) showed her love, gratitude, and devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ by making an extravagant and beautiful offering to Him at a dinner party given in Jesus’ honor. “And while he (Jesus) was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and poured it over his head” (Mark 14:3).

Judas (as we also learn in John’s account) spoke first and led the rest of the disciples in deriding and scolding Mary. John 12:5 says, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii (a year’s wages for a common laborer) and given to the poor.”  Judas’ motives were exposed by John, too – “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put in it (John 12:6).

As a preached a sermon last Sunday on Mark 14:1-11, I didn’t have time to include this quote from J.C. Ryle:

A cold heart makes a slow hand. If a man once understands the sinfulness of sin, and the mercy of Christ in dying for him, he will never think anything too good or too costly to give to Christ. He will rather feel, “what shall I render to the Lord for all His benefits to me” (Psalm 116:12). He will fear wasting time, talents, money, affections on the things of this world. He will not be afraid of lavishing them on his Savior. He will fear going into extremes about business, money, politics, or pleasure; but he will not be afraid of doing too much for Christ.”

Read Full Post »