Nothing In, Nothing Out

When I was in the UK last week, my family and I took an open-top bus tour of London. One of our guides was obsessed with telling us the value of properties. The week before, a parking space in London had sold for almost $350,000. A parking space!

He told us that many wealthy people bought multi-million dollar properties in Park Lane and Belgravia but never lived in them. They just wanted the prestigious address for the top of their notepaper. Then there were the luxury hotels with rows of Ferraris, Porsches, and Lamborghinis parked outside.

Finally we viewed the awesome landmark office buildings like the Gherkin, the Shard, and the Walkie-Talkie. My younger brother works in the Gherkin, so we were privileged to get a trip to the viewing gallery. We were quite the embarassing contrast to the power-dressing executives and supermodel secretaries. But we got a fantastic view of the modern financial district as well as the more ancient landmarks like the Tower of London.

I couldn’t help thinking of all that power and wealth when I was preparing a sermon on 1 Timothy 6 late last week. There, in verse 7, we come across a label that God puts on every car, every house, every office, every dollar, ever title, every position, everything: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

Nothing in, Nothing out

This is a label for all things, for all people, and for all times of life.

When you are having a baby: What does that baby come in with? Nothing. What shall it leave with? Nothing. As Job said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there” (Job 1:21). We all enter and exit the same way. Nothing in, nothing out.

When you are deciding on a career: Don’t make money, salary, and benefits the only consideration. Put this label at the top of every job offer.

When you want something too much: When covetousness and greed get a grip of your heart, loosen its deadly hands by putting this label on the object of your desire. “Nothing in, Nothing out.”

When you get something you’ve always wanted: Don’t make an idol of it. Don’t get too attached to it. It is certain we shall carry nothing out.

When you lose something valuable: It may be a well-paying job, an inheritance, a house, or many of your possessions are destroyed in a fire or taken in a robbery. It just got taken from us a few years earlier than expected. Nothing in, nothing out.

When you are tempted to do wrong to get more money: Is it worth it? For something you are going to have to leave in a few short years anyway?

When you are deciding what to give to the Lord’s cause: Why not give more of it to the Lord before it’s taken by the Lord?

When you are complaining about how little you have: We all leave with the same amount. Nothing.

When you are planning your latter years: When thinking about retirement, pensions, trust funds, inheritances, etc. think on this verse. Yes, it’s appropriate to plan, but if you stick “Nothing in, nothing out” on everything, it will make your decisions much easier and much better.

When you are thinking of the judgment:  We check everything at the grave. When the multi-billionaire John D. Rockefeller died, his assistant was asked, “How much did he leave?” “Everything,” he replied.

Why not print this verse and stick it on everything you have or want: “We brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.”

And while you’re at it, maybe put another label beside it: “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Check out


Raising Real Kids Not Fakers | Nicholas Macdonald
I’m looking forward to reading Nicholas’s new book, Faker.

No Platform High Enough | Tim Challies
“When it is platform you crave, when it is the size or the popularity of your following that you use as the measure of your success, you will inevitably and eventually find that there is no platform high enough.”

When do you stop counseling?
Six factors to consider.

The Key to the Christian’s Joy
Well, I think for the first time I disagree with R C Sproul on a minor point admittedly! I don’t accept that because the culture has hijacked the word “happy” that we should give it up. Rather I think we should reclaim this biblical word and refill it with biblical content. Having said that, this is a fine article with many good points in it. And while we’re talking about it here’s the first in a new series of videos on Christian joy by John Piper.

We Will Not Bow
John Macarthur recently preached a sermon in which he said that “the two biggest acts of terror our country have faced are both from our Supreme Court: the legalization of abortion, and now the legalization of SSM. How are those two connected? Well, the first attacks mothers, and second attacks families. The first means moms without kids, and the second means kids without moms.” Also see The Bible and Same-Sex Marriage: 6 Common but Mistaken Claims.

Should we Pray for God to Punish our Enemies?
This is an excellent article discussing when it is appropriate to use the imprecatory psalms in our culture.

Interview with John Fesko on The Westminster Standards
John Fesko discusses his recent book on the Westminster Standards. An on the subject of interviews, here’s one with me on The Happy Christian.

Kindle Books

Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels by J. Garner Wallace $1.99.

Pleasing God: Discovering the Meaning and Importance of Sanctification by R C Sproul $0.99.

No Ordinary Marriage: Together for God’s Glory by Tim Savage $3.99. See also When Sinners Say “I Do” for $1.99.

A Place of Healing: Wrestling with the Mysteries of Suffering, Pain, and God’s Sovereignty by Joni Eareckson Tada.

Recommended Book

Faker: How to live for real when you’re tempted to fake it by Nicholas Macdonald


A Hymn of the Tabernacle

Scott Cameron emailed me last week to say he had been inspired by my book on the Tabernacle, God’s Mobile Home, to write the following hymn, sung to the tune Nearer my God to Thee.

8 Reasons Why Loving Money is so Dangerous

Having dealt with the roles and relationships of men and women, elders and deacons, employers and employees, in 1 Timothy 6v9-10 the Apostle Paul addresses with the Christian’s relationship with money and issues eight warnings about why we should not turn it into an idol.

“(9) But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. (10) For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

1. It tempts (v. 9): Loving money makes us do wrong things in order to get more of it.

2. It traps (v. 9): The love of money gets a grip on us, it won’t let go, and becomes obsessional.

3. It stimulates lust (v. 9): It produces multiple other sinful desires and provides opportunity for their fulfillment.

4. It harms (v. 9): The lusts themselves injure the luster, and what they result in does even more harm.

5. It destroys (v. 9): It sucks the oxygen out of life, slowly killing us as it sinks us to the depths of perdition.

6. It diverts (v. 10): Some wrong turns are not too dangerous, but the love of money produces a fatal diversion that leads away from the faith.

7. It depresses (v. 10): Money love produces soul pain and soul sadness.

8. It ends (v. 7): We brought nothing in and it is certain we can carry nothing out.

Check out


Professors and the New Public Sphere | Thomas Kidd
Anyone interested in teaching should read this.

And Now You Know the Rest of the Story | Ligonier: Eric Bancroft
Five steps to guide group Bible studies.

Crushed | TGC: Nancy Guthrie
Nancy Guthrie writes a letter to Christian women who have abortions in their past.

God Doesn’t Need my Kid to Defeat the Odds | En Route: Kara Dedert
“It is morning and Calvin is coughing–his lungs are full after a night of sleep. Deliverance hasn’t come from our circumstances. But God doesn’t need Calvin to beat the odds in order to prove his goodness, faithfulness, power and salvation. Our weakness is precisely what he is using to show his power and presence.”

Talking to Children About God’s Plan for Sexuality | Ligonier: Nate Shurden
“Let’s face it. It’s difficult speaking with our children about matters of sexuality. For starters, we’re nervous when bringing up the subject due to the sensitive nature of the material. When the subject surfaces, our minds often go blank and we fumble for words. Once the words come out, we usually say the wrong thing, or say it in the wrong way. It feels like we can’t win for losing.”

Who Do You Call After Domestic Violence | Justin Holcomb
Justin makes a good case for calling the police then the pastor. And some of the stats in this article are horrifying. And here’s another on How Pastors Can Best Help Victims of Domestic Abuse.

Ten Proposed Commandments for Christian Parenting | TGC: Jason Helopoulos
And here’s Mark Jones on Rewarding our Children for Obedience.

Welcome to the Grand Age of Apologetics | Christianity Today
Interview with Os Guinness.

Kindle Books

Suburbianity by Byron Yawn $2.99

And a couple of highly regarded historical biographies.

John Quincy Adams: American Visionary by Fred Kaplan $1.99.

Franklin by Thomas Fleming $2.99.

Book Recommendations

My wife can’t stop reading (and talking about) the new series of Bitesize Biographies published by EP. Here are the ones she’s read so far.

Francis Schaeffer by Mostyn Roberts $4.99.
John Knox by John Murray.
Matthew Henry by Philip Eveson
Zachary Macaulay by Faith Cook

And here are many others for your consideration.


A Joy Bigger Than the Issue of our Day

Check out


Forward From Conversion: How We Can Focus on Spiritual Growth and Transformation | Ed Stetzer
The more I’ve been involved in churches, the more I’ve seen this as the number one priority for the health of the Church and its members. We cannot assume that people will grow in Christian knowledge, experience, and practice without significant input and accountability.

A Quick 9-Point Illustration Checklist | Biblical Preaching
Hopefully the result will not be less illustrations but better ones.

Spies and Lies | Mike Wittmer
Mike offers a defense of the tactics that produced the Planned Parenthood horror films. Here Joe Carter gives you 10 Numbers You Should Know About Planned Parenthood and Aaron Armstrong writes about Changing Opinions on Abortion When Legislation Isn’t an Adoption.

Theological Heroes and Villains | Tim Challies
The principle in this article would save a lot of relationships, especially of those inclined to perfectionism in their expectations of others.

The Happy Man
You might be interested to know that the first church I pastored was in Lachlan Mackenzie’s parish of Lochcarron. I used to preach from his pulpit in a small meeting house in Kishorn. On the same subject here’s Why Happy Employees Are More Productive at Work.

A Quick Guide to Common Writing Errors

Kindle Books

Homeschooling the Challenging Child: A Practical Guide $2.99.

And here are a few other Homeschooling books at good prices:

Don’t Waste Your Time Homeschooling: 72 Things I Wish I’d Known $2.99.

Homeschooling Boys – Gaining Maximum Success from Minimum Cooperation $0.99.

Simplify Your Homeschool Day: Shorten Your Day, Sweeten Your Time $3.99.

Called Home: Finding Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool $0.99.

50 People Every Christian Should Know: Learning from Spiritual Giants of the Faith by Warren Wiersbe $1.99.

131 Christians Everyone Should Know by Mark Galli $2.99.

New Book

Called for Life: How Loving Our Neighbor Led Us into the Heart of the Ebola Epidemic $9.99.


The Power of Morning & Evening Routines (HT: Tim Challies)

Check out


Christian Bakery Closed for Refusing to Bake Lesbian Wedding Cake Breaks Crowdfunding Record with $352,000.

Were Early Churches Ruled by Elders or a Local Bishop? | Michael Kruger

Textiquette For Teenagers | Barry York

Dick Lucas on the Need of the Moment | Proclamation Trust

How We Became Too Busy For Friends | Her.meneutics

Review of Spiritual Friendship: Finding Love in the Church as a Gay Christian | Sam Alberry

On Valorizing Gay Marriage | Stand Firm

Kindle Books

There are some tremendous history books on sale at Amazon right now. Here’s a sample, and you can check out others here:

The Class of 1846: From West Point to Appomattox: Stonewall Jackson, George McClellan, and Their Brothers $1.99.

D DAY – Through German Eyes – The Hidden Story of June 6th 1944 $2.99.

Henry Clay: The Essential American $1.99.

The Nuremberg Trial $1.99.


Pray the Bible: 5-Day Course With Don Whitney

Sign up here. Buy the book here.