Check Out

Weekend Reading

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit: Relationships, Roles, and Relevance by Bruce A. Ware ($1.99)

The Mystery Of The Lord’s Supper by Thomas Watson ($0.99)

A Reasonable Response: Answers to Tough Questions on God, Christianity, and the Bible by William Lane Craig and Joseph E. Gorra ($3.99)

Reasons for Belief: Easy-to-Understand Answers to 10 Essential Questions by Norman L. Geisler and Patty Tunnicliffe ($1.99)

Resolving Everyday Conflict by Ken Sande ($1.99)

The NKJV Study Bible: Second Edition ($4.99)

The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph by Ryan Holiday ($3.99)

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln by Doris Kearns Goodwin ($4.99)

The Guns of August: The Outbreak of World War I; Barbara W. Tuchman’s Great War Series by Barbara W. Tuchman ($4.99)

Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs: The Skills Gap and What Companies Can Do About It by Peter Cappelli ($1.99)

48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller ($1.99)

Work Smarter: 350+ Online Resources Today’s Top Entrepreneurs Use To Increase Productivity and Achieve Their Goals by Nick Loper ($2.99)

Check Out

25 Things Successful Teachers Do Differently

Should You Wait to Have Kids Until You Can Afford Them? | True Woman

R.C. Sproul’s Crucial Questions eBooks Now Free Forever by Nathan W. Bingham | Ligonier Ministries Blog

Ask RC Jr: What are 7 things our generation has forgotten? – R.C. Sproul Jr.

Bring Back the Holy Kiss | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

Why 9-to-5 Offices Will Soon Be a Thing of the Past | eaHELP – Executive Virtual Assistants

3 Degrees of God’s Pleasure In His Children | Miscellanies.

12 Strategies for Singles and Hospitality | True Woman

Why Singles Belong in Churc h Leadership | Her.meneutics | Christianitytoday.com

Journal As a Pathway to Joy | Desiring God

A Good Word from My Wife — JOETHORN.net

Coming (Back) to America: Accents | TGC

Preaching Job – Reformation21 Blog

Credo Magazine » Reading Job with Christopher Ash (Matthew Claridge)

Dear Grieving Parents | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

5 words on extemporaneous preaching

Anxiety and Depression, My Strange Friends | TGC | The Gospel Coalition

Ryan Anderson on Marriage at Stanford University | Denny Burk

Counsels for old age – Reformation21 Blog

Confessions of a Black Seminarian | RAANetwork

Videos

LAB Preview

Three German Students Surprise a Homeless Guy

How Cooking Can Change Your Life

Ben Jackson, Never Finished
If you only watch one, watch this one. This is the boy they said would never walk!

First Taste of Chocolate in Ivory Coast

Icheon Master Hand: Lee Hyuang Gu


PRTS Conference: Early Bird Discount Ends Today

 The Puritan Reformed Conference centers on biblically rich, Reformed, experiential, expositional preaching. It is an opportunity to experience two and a half days of sweet Christian fellowship and a time for personal and family edification as well as growth in the Word of God.

This year’s conference on The Beauty and Glory of Christ’s Bride will be from August 21-23 and will look at topics such as the church’s mission, the church’s discipline, the church’s diversity, the church’s persecution, and the church’s future.

Mbewe

We’re especially delighted that our overseas speaker this year will be Rev. Conrad Mbewe, often called the “Spurgeon of Africa.”

The wonderful new addition to the Seminary will also be officially opened and dedicated on the first evening of the conference with an opportunity to tour the new building.

Additionally, Reformation Heritage Books will be on hand to offer exceptionally low priced Christian literature to those attending the conference.

The Conference runs from August 21-23. For more information or to register, visit PRTS online at puritanseminary.org. The early bird pricing of just $65 per person ends today, July 31.


Top 10 Modern Books on The Doctrine Of Sin

As I’m often asked for book recommendations on various subjects, I decided to put together an online list of my top ten books in various categories. Basically, if I was only allowed 10 books in my library on that subject, these are the ten I would choose. Previous posts include:

Last week I listed the Top 10 Puritan Books on Sin. This week, here are my Top 10 Modern Books on Sin.

If you know of other good modern books on this topic in general or dealing with specific sins, please leave your suggestion in the comments and I’ll add them under “Reader Suggestions.”

1. Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate by Jerry Bridges

Jerry Bridges exposes some of the more subtle and culturally acceptable sins like pride and anger.

2. Addictions: A Banquet in the Grave by Ed Welch

Welch argues that addictions are fundamentally a disorder of worship and therefore can only be adequately dealt with by theology.

3. Counterfeit Gods: The Empty Promises of Money, Sex, and Power, and the Only Hope that Matters by Tim Keller

A timely book that highlights the counterfeit promises of happiness from pursuing sex, money, and success and points to the true God where true happiness can be found.

4. Idols of the Heart: Learning to Long for God Alone by Elyse Fitzpatrick

Elyse Fitzpatrick addresses besetting sins, habitual sins, and traces them to their root – idolatry.  Some good weedkiller too.

5. Fallen: A Theology of Sin Edited by Christopher Morgan and Robert Peterson

A collection of leading evangelicals like Don Carson and Douglas Moo survey the Bible’s teaching on sin but always with the aim of helping us to live more holy and happy lives.

6. Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace by Heath Lambert

Pornography is slaying its tens of thousands, even in the church. Heath Lambert tears off its mask but also points to the power of grace to conquer this destroyer of lives and marriages.

7. Motives: Why Do I Do the Things I Do by Ed Welch

A careful look at the deep and complex motives in the human heart which helps us to understand our desires, fears, regrets, etc.

8. A Fight to the Death: Taking Aim at Sin Within by Wayne Mack

A call to spiritual warfare against sin with many tools and weapons to kill it before it kills us.

9. The Doctrine Of Sin by Iain D. Campbell

The most scholarly book on the list, Iain Campbell compares the Reformers’ and Puritans’ biblical doctrine of sin with the psycholigised approach of of Barth, Brunner, and Bultmann.

10. Temptations Men Face: Straightforward Talk on Power, Money, Affairs, Perfectionism, Insensitivity by Tom Eisenman

An immensely practical and candid look at the most common difficulties men face in their Christian lives. Also includes advice for women on how they can help their husband resist temptation.

And just to balance things out, Lies Women Believe: And the Truth that Sets Them Free by Nancy Leigh DeMoss

Nancy Leigh DeMoss argues that “the lies Christian women believe are at the root of most of their struggles.” She exposes these lies and provides replacement truths from God’s Word.

Reader Suggestions

What books would you add to the list? Books that deal with sin in general and those which deal with specific sins.

Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be: A Breviary of Sin by Cornelius Plantinga.

Original Sin: Illuminating the Riddle (New Studies in Biblical Theology) by Henri Blocher.


10 Steps To Help Seekers Find the Lord

Having considered 14 different kinds of seeker and then offered some reminders and questions when dealing with seekers, today I’d like to offer some guidelines for helping seekers find the Lord.

1. Teach the Gospel of God (objective)
Make sure the seeker understands the core of the Gospel

  • Who God is in His three persons.
  • An outline of the history of redemption
  • The person and work of Christ
  • The way of salvation

You need to make sure that they are seeking the right thing/person and not something they have invented. You can’t find what doesn’t exist.

2. Explain the ways of God (subjective)
Having established the objective facts of the Gospel, we must move on to the personal subjective reception and application of the Gospel.

  • How is a person saved.
  • The order of salvation.
  • What is going on in the person’s life.
  • Relationship of law and Gospel.
  • Especially emphasize the simplicity of faith. 

3. Impress the call of God
God calls everyone to seek him. See Matthew 22 for the following points about the Gospel call as a royal wedding invitation: it’s a divine call, a personal call, a generous call, a gracious call, a wide call, a sincere call, a simple call, a solemn call, and a successful call.

4. Assure of the promise of God
God promises that seekers shall find him (Matt. 7:7).  Spurgeon gives a helpful crescendo:

  • You are invited to come (Isaiah 55:1).
  • You are entreated to come (Ezekiel 33:1).
  • You are commanded to come (Mark 16:16)!
  • “Him that comes to me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37.

He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6).

5. Tell the stories of God
From Scripture and church history demonstrate how God uses so many different means, methods, and ways to save sinners. Some biblical examples include:

  • The Rich Young Ruler (Mark 10:17-27)
  • The Thief on the Cross (Luke 23:39-43)
  • The Canaanite Woman (Matthew 15:21-28)
  • Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10)
  • The distressed Father (Mark 9:14-29)
  • The Leper (Matthew 8:1-4)
  • Nicodemus (John 3:1-31)
  • Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:23-40)

6. Warn of the judgment of God
“Yes, it’s good to be a seeker but it’s imperative that you be a finder, that you press on with urgency to secure the Savior for your own soul. Seek FIRST the kingdom of God (Mat. 6:33).”

7. Encourage with the sovereignty of God
The sovereignty of God is both a spur and pillow. It’s a spur in that it makes us realize that none of us can save ourselves. It’s a pillow because God’s sovereign power is big enough and willing enough to save us.

None of us are naturally seekers of God. We only become so by the sovereign intervention of God’s Holy Spirit in our lives. Help the person detect God’s work of grace in their lives by explaining what fruits should be there.

He is seeking too! The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost (Luke 9:23; 19:10).

8. Leave space for God
Don’t try to do what God alone can do – bring a person to faith and repentance. Trust the Lord to do that without your pressure or manipulation. Leave it to God to give the person assurance. Form prayers may be helpful but better to let the Holy Spirit produce prayer in the life.

9. Direct to the means of God
No one who is truly seeking will deliberately avoid church – the place where God allows Himself to be found. Stress also the importance of daily Bible reading and personal prayer as a way of finding and of being found.

10. Teach the demands of God
Help them to count the cost, to realize what’s involved in following Christ, a life of self-denial and cross-carrying (Luke 14:28).

Obviously, these steps are not necessarily chronological. Each person has different needs and we must pray for wise sensitivity when pointing people to the Savior.


Reminders and Questions For Dealing With Seekers

In a previous post I listed a number of different seekers I’d come across in pastoral ministry. Today I’ve got some tips for dealing with seekers. First some reminders then some questions.

Reminders

Remember the person’s background: If no church background, he may speak very differently about what he’s experiencing compared to a churched person.

Remember the person’s age: Don’t expect mature spiritual vocabulary. If a child, you may need to involve/inform parents.

Remember the person’s education: Use words and sentences appropriate to their mental abilities.

Remember the person’s theology: May have picked up bits and pieces of theology here and there. May be using same words as you but with different meaning attached to them.

Remember the person’s vulnerability: It is very difficult for most people to speak about their inner spiritual struggles and desires.

Remember the person’s uniqueness: Christ dealt so differently with so many kinds of sinners – Peter, woman at the well, Syrophoenician woman, etc.

Remember the person’s prejudices: If you are a pastor the seeker may think you are perfect, that you are nothing like him. Maybe tell parts of your own story to show that you are like them in many ways.

Remember the person’s need: Point them to Christ early and often. Don’t dwell all the time on their inner feelings and thoughts. They may have lesser needs you can help them with in the meantime.

Remember the person’s fears: Give them early hope through texts like John 3:16-17 and 1 Timothy 1:15.

Remember the person’s eternity: Their eternal future is at stake. Be serious, thorough, careful. Don’t be dismissive or casual.

Remember the person’s suspicions: May be skeptical of you or of pastors/counsellors in general. Base all counsel on the word of God.

Questions

There are three groups of questions to ask seekers

1. Do they know the Gospel?

What do you think of the Bible? Inspired? Inerrant?

Do you understand their sinfulness, depravity, inability? What do you think about that? What does God think about that?

Are you a good person or partly good?

What do you know about God, especially God as Three-in-one.

Do you know the facts of the history of redemption? Do you accept them as true?

2. Do they understand the Gospel?

Do you understand grace? Substitutionary atonement? Regeneration?

Why did Jesus have to die?

Do you understand what faith and repentance are?

How is a person saved? How does a person get to heaven?

3. Have they accepted/received/appropriated the Gospel?

If not, what’s holding you back? Obstacles, hindrances, attitude? Proud, humble teachable, evasive?

What have you done to seek and find salvation? What has helped or not helped?

What other questions would you ask?


President Vows to End Taxophobia

This morning, in a much-anticipated move, President Obama and Vice-President Biden officially announced that they have changed their minds on whether Republicans should be allowed to believe in lower taxation.

At a televised press conference in the Rose Garden they unveiled plans for legislation that will force Republicans to abandon their opposition to higher taxes. It’s a move that’s been widely trailed as the President recently spoke of his evolving position on the matter and the Vice-President “accidentally” let their plans slip in a TV interview.

The President was at pains to speak of his respect for the Republican party and all that they had contributed to American life through the years. He also emphasized that he was not out to stop all that the Republicans believed in – just this one policy.

“They can still be Republicans, of course they can. This is a democracy after all. We’re simply saying that they must stop their bigoted support of lower taxation. We cannot tolerate this kind of intolerance in our modern world.”

An End To Taxophobia
Vice-President Biden pointed to recent opinion polls that showed support for higher taxes had reached 51%. “This clearly shows that the public wants an end to low taxes, and we intend to end it once and for all.” Biden went on, “Taxophobia has to stop and we will be using every possible means to end it in our time.”

The only question from the carefully assembled banks of nodding and supportive journalists, came from Megyn Hannity of Wolf News who challenged the President and Vice-President on statements they made in last year’s campaign interviews and debates where they promised that they had no plans to change the law or outlaw opposition to higher taxes.”

A red-faced Biden blurted out, “Woman, I’ve had enough of your pompous hate and blustering bile over the years. Let me warn you that it’s not just Republicans we’re after, but we’ll take you down too if you or your pathetic excuse of a TV channel dares to oppose this.”

Undaunted, the brave Megyn Hannity stood up and asked the Vice-President if he was aware that only 1.7% of the population would benefit from higher taxes and even most of them didn’t want the government to go so far as actually banning belief in lower taxes?

Biden spluttered, “You stupid conservative. This isn’t about helping the 1.7%. We don’t care about them. This is about ostracizing Republicans and stirring up hatred against them.”

Nothing To Fear
At that point a somewhat alarmed President Obama stepped in with some smooth and soothing re-assurances. “Joe’s just being Joe,” he smiled, “Let me be clear. No one has anything to fear as long as they agree with us and go along with the law.”

“Let me be clear. Supporters of low taxation are on the wrong side of history. The argument is over and public opinion is on our side. Some might say, Isn’t it enough to simply pass laws for higher taxes and leave those who believe in lower taxes alone? The simple answer to that is No. This is a civil rights issue. The day has passed when high-taxers should have to put up with anyone criticizing their choices and highlighting the downsides and damage of their policies.

“Let me be clear. We must send a message to every high-taxer that they will never hear anyone oppose them or argue against them again. We stand with them to say that we’ve had enough of such hate, abuse, prejudice, and bias. Low-taxism belongs in the dumpster of history together with racism, sexism, fascism, and fat-ism.

“Let me be clear about the impact of this legislation:

  • From now on, if anyone wants to do business with the federal government they will have to complete the “high-tax support pledge.”
  • Any businessman who has donated to low tax campaigns in the past will be forced to “resign.”
  • Any employee discovered to have low-tax inclinations will be given diversity training to ensure that there is no diverging from this view.
  • We will make sure that no one can ever run for office again who supports lower taxes.
  • Charitable status will be denied to any organization that extends charity to taxophobes.
  • In light of recent hate-filled incidents we’ve added the requirement that no one can refuse to bake a cake, make a bouquet, or take photographs for high-tax promotional events.
  • We are also adding a high-tax mandate to Obamacare that no one will be allowed an exemption from (apart from Democrats and donors to my campaign).

It’s the right thing to do. Is that clear? I said, Is that clear?

“Yes, Mr. President,” echoed the White House press corps as they stood to applaud the bravery and courage of the president before joining him for lunch in the West Wing.