BEING SALT AND LIGHT:
- How One Ex-Gang Leader Is Reaching Chicago’s Most Dangerous Neighborhoods. Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writes “But in the middle of the chaos, black pastors are making a difference. Reaching out to neighborhoods, feeding the hungry, and running programs for kids, the black church is salting the city. One of those pastors is David Washington, who prays with people and hands out school supplies on streets he knows well. He grew up in the violent South Side neighborhood of Roseland; in fact, he used to run a gang and sell drugs there.”
- A Two-Minute Clip on Homosexuality Every Christian Should Watch. Watch this short video from Sam Allberry—editor for The Gospel Coalition, speaker for RZIM, founding editor of Living Out, and author of Is God Anti-Gay?—addressing the Church of England General Synod in London recently.
- Love is Not a Secondary Matter. Steven Lawson writes “It is virtually impossible to exaggerate the importance of love. Nothing is more basic to true spirituality than this singular virtue. Nothing is more central to Christian living. At the very heart of authentic discipleship is love. Without love, we are nothing.”
A CHRISTIAN RESPONSE TO CURRENT CULTURE:
- Scandalized by the Substitute: A Response to Young and Gungor. Owen Strachan responds to musician Michael Gungor who called the atonement “evil” and “horrific” on Twitter and Paul Young, author of The Shack, who calls God a “cosmic abuser”.
- A Teenage Girl’s Response to Teen Vogue’s “Post-Abortion Gift Guide”. Randy Alcorn writes “I encourage you to watch this powerful video response from 16-year-old Autumn Lindsey. She is part of the target demographic for Teen Vogue.”
- As a Christian, I Favor National Security AND Refugee Care. Scott Sauls writes “Mr. President, we commend and support you for prioritizing our safety and protection in such volatile times. We can only imagine the burden that this must be, and you carry it in ways that nobody else does. And yet we similarly plead with you, sir—on behalf of the millions of souls who are most at risk—that we not turn away the vetted and vulnerable refugee. While charity may start at home, it must never end there, especially in this country of ours that we call the land of the free and the home of the brave. Let’s champion freedom, sir. And, for the love of God, let’s be brave.”
- Flipping Sides on Roe v Wade: Norma McCorvey’s Repentance. Clint Archer writes “The dramatic 180 degree turn of attitudes and behavior provides an apt illustration of the nature of repentance. Biblical repentance is a change of mind and the necessary difference in behavior that accompanies it.”
- Same-Sex Attraction. The White Horse Inn writes “What should we think about the issue of same-sex attraction? Is it essentially the same as being gay? How does the issue of sexual preference relate to our identity as Christians, and how are we to talk about our differences with others in a world that is increasingly accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage? Michael Horton discusses these issues and more with Sam Allberry, author of Is God Anti-Gay? on this episode of the White Horse Inn.”
- What the Transgender Debate Means for the Church. Russell Moore writes “We Christians believe that all of us are sinners, and that none of us are freaks. We conclude that all of us are called to repentance, and part of what repentance means is to receive the gender with which God created us, even when that’s difficult. We must affirm that God loves all persons, and that the gospel is good news for repentant prodigal sons and daughters, including for those who have trouble figuring out which is which.”
- Why the Transgender Debate Is About Redefining Reality. Joe Carter writes “If you want to change a society, you merely need to get the public to shift an idea from the category of “unthinkable” to “policy.” You’ll know you’ve been successful when the formerly unthinkable has become public school policy.”
- The Two Things We Must Say About the Transgender Debate. Kevin DeYoung writes “The Christian response to the transgender debate depends on whether we are talking about the debate or about a transgender person. I understand the two cannot be completely divorced, but they are not the same thing either.”
- David Platt’s Guide to Navigating Unprecedented Social Change. Collin Hansen writes “With the re-release of Counter Culture, and in our context of tremendous racial and political turmoil, Davd Platt joins him on The Gospel Coalition Podcast to discuss our era’s rapid pace of social change, churches that care as much about slavery as marriage, and the implications of our behavior for international missions.
NOW THAT’S A GOOD QUESTION!
- Should You Consider Cancelling Your Short-Term Missions Trip? Robert Lupton writes “Contrary to popular belief, most missions trips and service projects do not: empower those being served, engender healthy cross-cultural relationships, improve quality of live, relieve poverty, change the lives of participants [or] increase support for long-term missions work.”
- How Can Our Church Reach Out to the Gay Community? Kevin DeYoung writes “There is no secret to reaching out to any community–gay, straight, or otherwise. Don’t be scared and don’t be stupid. Talk to people as real people. Get the gospel right and get the gospel out. Be friendly and make friends. Love people because you love them. And then tell them about the God who loves us in Christ more than we can imagine.”
- Do We Really Have to Politicize Everything? Trevin Wax writes “These days, the political realm has begun to infringe upon every other aspect of our common life together: sports, religion, retail, and art. We should resist this development, because this infringement flattens our ability to love our neighbors.”
- Should Christians Really Pray for Revival? Some churches cry out to God for revival. Others schedule “revivals” on the calendar. Still others insist revival is God’s concern, not ours. Three pastors and The Gospel Coalition Council members sat down to discuss whether Christians should seek revival and, if so, how we should go about it. Kevin DeYoung is pastor of University Reformed Church in East Lansing, Michigan; Richard Phillips is pastor of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, South Carolina; and Bryan Chapell is pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, Illinois. All three agree that we need to make a distinction between praying for revival and trying to manufacture it.
- What Are Worldviews? Why Do Worldviews Matter? How Does One Change Worldviews? Justin Taylor writes “This 20-minute youth seminar at the 2016 Ligonier National Conference may be the best little introduction to “worldview” that you’ll find.”
- Do Christians “Go to Heaven” When They Die? Sam Storms writes “So, do Christians “go to heaven” when they die? Yes, but only temporarily, as they await the return of Christ, the resurrection of the body, and eternal life in the New Heavens and New Earth.”
- Suicide: What is a Christian to Think? Suicide is a troubling topic to examine – delicate and disturbing, one must speak carefully about it, especially with those left in its confusing wake. Listen to this Mortification of Spin podcast discussion with Carl Trueman, Aimee Byrd and Todd Pruitt.
- Am I Really Ready for Heaven? In this episode of the Ask Pastor John podcast, John Piper addresses this question from a listener. Listen or read his response.
- How Does the Old Testament Point to Jesus? In this four-minute video, Bryan Chapell tackles this crucial question for preaching and teaching, as well as everyday Bible reading, explaining that it’s essential to look for not how every text references Jesus, but how “every text reveals the grace of God that culminates in Jesus.”
- How Can I Know I’m a Child of God? Watch this three-minute video clip from John Piper on assurance his message “No Global Mission Without God’s Mighty Spirit”, which he preached at the 2016 Cross Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana.
- Why Did Jesus Heal? John MacArthur writes “The healing ministry of Jesus was illustrative of the gospel message, a true expression of divine compassion, and a definitive verification of His messianic credentials.”
- What Is the Relationship Between Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility? In this excerpt from his new book None Other, John MacArthur writes “The relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility is not instantly obvious, and at first glance it seems paradoxical. But Scripture offers us considerable insight into how these twin truths harmonize within the plan of redemption.”
- Where is God When Things Keep Getting Worse? Vaneetha Rendall Risner writes “Where is God when things keep getting worse? He is with us. And he is always for us. And one day we will see how he has used our pain and losses to accomplish far more than we could ask or imagine.”
- Repenting of Impatience and Being in a Hurry. Scotty Smith has often posted prayers that hit me right where I am. When this was posted we were impatiently waiting in traffic on Anna Maria Island in Florida. Amen and Amen.
- What Grieving People Wish You Knew: A Conversation with Nancy Guthrie. Megan Fowler writes “Drawing on her own experience of the loss of two children as well as responses from people who participated in her survey about grief, Guthrie pulls back the curtain and helps readers think about how they can show love and support to someone who is mourning.”
- Stop Calling Everything a Bible Study. Jen Wilkin writes “Churches must distinguish clearly between what is Bible study and what is something else because the average churchgoer may not be able to on her own. Knowing they should study the Bible, earnest Christians sign up for what we have labeled a Bible study, assuming that it is.”
- Please Stop Saying — “God Told Me”. Josh Buice writes “Don’t immediately classify a friend as a lunatic or a heretic if they use the “God told me” language in their communication. However, when you hear people talking in this manner, it should serve as a big red flag. Exercise wisdom and gentleness when confronting this error among friends or church members, but in the case of calling out false teachers, mark them so that others will not be led astray.”
- Satan Wants to Blackmail You. Tony Reinke writes “We have a way of escape from this demonic, self-destroying slavery of concealed sin. And Satan knows it. He knows our freedom is in repentance. He knows our freedom is not found in isolation, but at the foot of the cross of Calvary.”
- 5 Ways Porn Lies to You. Tim Challies writes “We know now that nearly every boy and a great many girls will be exposed to it, struggle with it, and even become addicted to it.”
- Pursue God, Not Pornography. Denny Burk writes “Pornography is such a pervasive evil. It is eviscerating our civilization and even our churches. I continue to be burdened that this ubiquitous evil in our culture has become such a ubiquitous evil in our pews.” Watch this message he recently gave at chapel at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.
- The Cure for a Lack of Fruit in Our Christian Lives. Derek Thomas writes “There is only one cure for a lack of fruit in our Christian lives. It is to go back to Christ and enjoy (yes, enjoy) our union with Him.”
IN THE NEWS:
- Tim Keller Stepping Down as Redeemer Senior Pastor. Kate Shellnutt writes “Later this year, Redeemer Presbyterian will no longer be a multisite megachurch in Manhattan, and Tim Keller will no longer be its senior pastor.”
- Tim Keller Speaks at Google on Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. Justin Taylor writes “In October 2016 Tim Keller gave a talk at Google, based upon his book Making Sense of God: An Invitation to the Skeptical. He lays out his case in the first 35 minutes, followed by 20 minutes or so of Q&A.”
- How the Washington Supreme Court Gave Thorns to the Florist. Jenna Ellis writes “Washington State dealt another significant blow to liberty, with its highest state court ruling that a florist can be compelled to provide her services for a same-sex wedding against her religious beliefs or be fined.”
- The Data Suggests Unisex Bathrooms Are A Bonanza To Male Perverts. Paul Dirks writes “The sober reality is that the crime of voyeurism, almost always by males, may be virtually impossible to stop. Voyeurism is an enormous monster that lives in the shadows of our culture, hidden to many, but continually nourished by advancing technology, pervasive pornography, and increasing opportunity.”
- The Design and Scope of the Atonement. R.C. Sproul writes “The real issue was the design, or purpose, of God’s plan in laying upon His Son the burden of the Cross. Was it God’s purpose simply to make salvation possible for all but certain for none? Did God have to wait to see if any would respond to Christ to make His atonement efficient? Was it theoretically possible that Jesus would die “for all” yet never see the fruit of His travail and be satisfied?”
- The Story Behind John Piper’s Most Famous Attack on the Prosperity Gospel. Sarah Eekhoff Zylstra writes “John Piper’s most-viewed sermon clipof all time was an afterthought. In fact, it was an off-the-cuff tangent to an afterthought, unusual for a man whose sermons are well-prepared and meticulously researched. “I don’t know what you feel about the prosperity gospel—the health, wealth and prosperity gospel—but I’ll tell you what I feel about it,” Piper told a gathering of more than 1,000 college students in November 2005. “Hatred.”
- You Are My Joy: The Deep Joy in Discipling Others. David Mathis writes “What makes discipling worth the cost is that those in whom we invest become, in a real and God-glorifying sense, our glory and our joy. And such sweet-tasting fruit from our investment is not in competition with our joy in Jesus, but is itself a kind of completion of it. Those whom we disciple are not the enemies of our joy in Christ, but an expression of our joy in him.”
- Martyn Lloyd-Jones Home Movies. Enjoy this six-minute video of home movie clips featuring Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones provided by his family. Narration is by Jonathan Catherwood, one of Dr. Lloyd-Jones’s six grandchildren.
- Soli Deo Gloria: To God Alone Be the Glory. R.C. Sproul writes “In fact, salvation is of the Lord from beginning to end. Yes, I must believe. Yes, I must respond. Yes, I must receive Christ. But for me to say “yes” to any of those things, my heart must first be changed by the sovereign, effectual power of God the Holy Spirit.”
- Jews Come Home to Jesus. John Piper writes “Let’s not give up on praying for a great ingathering of ethnic Jews for Jesus in our day.”
- Creation Debate. Watch this debate between Albert Mohler and Jack Collins held at Trinity International University which addressed the question “Does Scripture Speak Definitively to the Age of the Universe?”
- If You’re a Christian, You are in Christ. Watch this two-minute excerpt from R.C. Sproul’s teaching series Justified by Faith Alone, in which he explains that if you’re Christian, you are in Christ.
- Watch an Entirely Free, Seminary-Level Course with Carl Trueman on the Reformation. I enjoyed a great week studying B.B. Warfield with Carl Trueman at Covenant Seminary a few years ago. Justin Taylor posts the heart of the course syllabus, along with all of the lectures, filmed at The Master’s Seminary in January 2017.
- Surprising Advice from Two Older Saints. Darryl Dash writes “I’m fascinated by the advice that older saints give near the end of their lives, particularly when the advice isn’t what you’d expect.”
TO MAKE YOU SMILE:
- Calvinist Hymnal Released. The Babylon Bee reports “We took any hymn that talked about a ‘decision’ or ‘choice’ being made on the part of man and axed those God-forsaken lines right out of there,” a spokesperson for the Reformed alliance of churches told reporters.”
- Women’s Group Successfully Casts Out Demon Using Barrage Of Essential Oils. The Babylon Bee reports “According to witnesses, as the apparent victim of the demonic possession suddenly began to writhe on the ground and foam at the mouth, several of the group’s leaders sprang into action, producing a large case packed with hundreds of small bottles of various organic oils and extracts.”
- Things You Should Know About The Transgender Bathroom Debate. The Babylon Bee reports “Everybody’s talking about it. Here’s what you need to know.”
- Rob Bell Runs Out of Doctrines to Deny. The Babylon Bee reports “According to sources close to author and speaker Rob Bell, the ex-pastor has finally denied the last remaining doctrine of the Christian faith he had not already mounted an all-out assault against.”
- Nothing more than the gospel, just more of it; no one else but Jesus, just him more fully; no other glory, just God’s more joyfully. Scotty Smith
- Preaching aims: Not 20 minutes, twice that. Not immediately practical, eternally helpful. Not relaxed or relaxing, passionate and provoking. John Piper
- Sin is not simply making bad choices or mistakes. Sin is having the desire in our hearts to do the will of the enemy of God. C. Sproul
- It’s not our job to hold God to whatever standards our meager minds might suggest. John MacArthur
- When we stand up for religious liberty for everyone, we do so because we believe the gospel. Russell Moore
- Culture is never so bad that it can’t be redeemed, nor so good that it can’t be critiqued. Tim Keller
- A minister may fill his pews & communion roll but what he is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more. John Owen
- Christ lived the purpose-driven life so we would inherit his righteousness thru faith & be promise-driven people in a purpose-driven world. Michael Horton
- I’m optimistic about this week. Just kidding. I’m sure it will be horrible. Jim Gaffigan