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Blogs

The Do’s and Don’ts of Presenting
Good reminder of the basics for all teachers and preachers.

Preaching and Personality
Intriguing discussion about the importance of personality in preaching. I think he’s on to something.

Ligonier National Conference Video Now Available
I heard great things about Sinclair Ferguson’s address.

Language Humor
Perceptive and amusing.

Can Christians Marry Non-Christians: A Biblical Theology
“I want to make the point that it is a matter of obedience to God not to pursue a relationship with a non-believer. I’m going to try and make it as clear as I can that however it feels, those feelings are temptations to call right that which God calls wrong; those feelings are not accompanied by any affirmation from God.”

Why I Left my Liberal London Tribe
As a divided Britain prepares for Brexit, David Goodhart reveals why he broke up with the metropolitan elite

Scandalized by the Substitute
Owen Strachan takes on William Young’s (author of The Shack) heretical view of the atonement:

Modern voices like Gungor, Young, and Girard tell us, effectively, “Your blood-sacrifice theology is horrific. I could never believe in a God who would accomplish salvation through a cross.”

But we will stand with John Stott, who said it so simply and beautifully in The Cross of Christ:

I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross.

Kindle Books

The Great Orators of the Reformation Era $0.99.

Experiencing the Trinity: The Grace of God for the People of God by Joe Thorn $3.99.

How Should We Then Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture by Francis Schaeffer $3.99.

Video

From Darkness to Light: A History of Compassion International in India


Reflections on Becoming an American Citizen

Welcome

My family and I became American citizens yesterday. The day was a jumble of emotions and thoughts. I’ve tried to disentangle them as much as I can. So here they are in no particular order.

We cannot plan our lives. I had many, many plans growing up. Not one of them involved moving to the USA. Not until Joel Beeke asked me to come to PRTS just over ten years ago did it even cross my mind.

God plans our lives. Although I had never once thought of living in the USA, when the call came from PRTS, there were many factors that indicated this was God’s plan. Initially I said “No” and fought against it for another seven months, but eventually I could not resist God’s call. Indeed, as soon as I set foot on American soil, even in Newark airport, I had a deep conviction that I would never again return to Scotland to live.

God blesses obedience. One of the factors that initially dissuaded me from coming to the USA was that my wife Shona had been suffering with depression since just before the birth of our fourth child. How could I introduce the upheaval of immigration to her already fragile life? After struggling with this for a long time, I came to believe that if this call was the Lord’s will, then God would look after her. And he has done so abundantly, with Shona’s mental and emotional health improving dramatically since the first few months of arrival. So much so, that she’s now written a book about it.

God multiplies our loaves and fishes. I was terrified about teaching in the Seminary. Although I believed God had called me to do it, I really did look at my gifts and knowledge, as the disciples looked at the loaves and fishes, and asked “What are these among so many?” But as the Apostle Paul learned when he asked “Who is sufficient for these things” I learned daily, and still do ten years later, that “My sufficiency is of God.”

I still have Scottish blood and a Scottish heart. I do not call myself a Scottish-American. I am an American now, and I own that citizenship completely. But I still can’t help crying when I hear the bagpipes. If I see the pictures of Scottish lochs, mountains, and moors, I can smell the scenes and feel the wind on my face. As the Judge said at yesterday’s ceremony, “We do not ask you to deny the emotional attachment to your home nation. We simply ask that you keep it in second place and your commitment to America first.”

I miss my parents. I have four siblings, including a twin brother, and I miss seeing them. But the greatest miss is my aging parents, now in their mid-to-late seventies (Shona’s are in their late eighties). I wish my kids could be with their grandparents like ordinary grandkids, but we can only afford to get over to Scotland every 2-3 years for a week or two. That’s why we’re selling our home and downsizing so that we can get back once a year before the Lord takes our beloved parents into eternity and we have no more opportunity to see them here below.

I’ve changed my family tree. If the Lord spares this world for a few more decades, and if my children are blessed with children, their whole future is so different compared to what it would have been in Scotland. My decision to come here has impacted many future generations of Murrays in ways that I cannot know and may never know on this earth. Who knows if another President may arise from another mother who came from the Isle of Lewis!

Americans are incredibly welcoming people. We’ve been overwhelmed by love since the day we arrived here, not just from the Dutch Reformed community in Grand Rapids (which has been amazing), but wherever we’ve gone. Since we started the citizenship process, we’ve felt even more warmly embraced. Yes, people get upset about illegal immigration, but America is still a country that warmly welcomes legal immigrants. At our ceremony there were maybe 3-4 other white Europeans and the remaining 73 new citizens were a dazzling array of diverse colors and cultures. The Judge encouraged a celebratory atmosphere and it was a beautiful sight and sound to behold!

I love America. I know America has big problems, many of them seemingly insoluble. But it’s still a wonderful place to live and to raise children. I wish my (now) fellow citizens could see that more. Yes, the days of a dominant Christian culture are over, but Christians are still a sizable and influential minority. There are many strong churches with many engaged and zealous young people. There are excellent Christian schools and energetic homeschooling communities. There are multiple opportunities to start businesses and an optimistic culture that encourages entrepreneurship. The military is awesome. The salmon fishing is fantastic. And I’ve even come to love football (the one that they play with their hands), especially college football.

I pray for Scotland. I can assure my Scottish friends that I will never forget you. Every Sunday I pray specifically for my previous congregations and for my old friends in the ministry. How much prayer they need. Ministry is relatively easy here in the USA compared to most congregations in Scotland. Scotland is in desperate need of revival. Please join me in prayer for that.

What I’d change in my new country? Only one thing. The mainstream media. Oh, yes, and more Cadbury’s chocolate.

Thanks for having me!


Special Needs and the Church: Inclusion or Isolation?

On Monday 20 March, at 7pm ET, I’m taking part in an live webcast with Kara Dedert and her Live Better Members Club for parents of kids with special needs.

The subject we’re discussing is “Belonging” and the question we’re exploring is “What makes you feel included in church life and what makes you feel excluded?” We’re hoping to put together a list of tips to help churches minister to special needs families better.

I’d love to go to the webcast with some ideas already to discuss. So if you’ve got anything to offer on this subject, please leave a comment and together we’ll try to produce a resource that will bless the wider the church as well.


Check Out

Blogs

Your Secret Weapon Against Pornography | Paul Tautges, Counseling One Another
“In the battle against porn addiction, Tim Challies persuasively argues that there is one secret weapon many men never take advantage of; that is, a mentoring relationship that will provide accountability and encouragement to continue fighting the fight.”

Looking for Mentors | Jared Olivetti, Gentle Reformation
Next step from previous article.

[GIVEAWAY] 5 Public Speaking Tips from Charles Spurgeon | Eric Geiger
“So, what was Spurgeon’s secret? How did the “Prince of Preachers” master the art of public speaking? Here are five tips from Spurgeon’s lecture “On the Voice.”

Why Pastors Should Work Hard to Write Well | Kevin DeYoung, TGC
“Pastors should work hard to become clear, competent writers. That’s the thesis. Here’s the outline: two caveats, three reasons, four suggestions.”

So I quit drinking. | Sarah Bessey
Sarah Bessey’s dawning realization that drink had got a hold of her:

…We begin to sense that this Thing that used to be okay is no longer okay. The Thing that used to mean freedom has become bondage. The Thing that used to signal joy has become a possibility of sorrow. The Thing that used to mean nothing has become something, perhaps everything. Or at least that’s what happened to me. It was fine, everything was fine. And then I knew it wasn’t going to be fine for much longer.

A Priority to Rest? | Michael Chung, Jesus Creed
Fascinating:

In studying Jesus’s final ten days, chronicled in The Last King of Israel, one of many things that stands out was how Jesus rested during those final ten days. Despite knowing his mission was about to end (John 13:1-3), he made time for rest.

Breast Cancer Marred My Picture-Perfect Marriage | Kim Harms, Christianity Today
“I would never have believed it possible to simultaneously be so in love and so angry—to be so close and yet so alienated from each other. I lived my life clinging to my husband to get through each day and yet there was also a divide between us that felt impossible to cross. At one point after a painful argument, I thought, This is it. We’ve had 17 great years, and now, for the rest of our lives, we will endure this brokenness. We’ll love each other, but that love will be tainted by this damage we’ll never be able to fix.

Kindle Deals

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


Praying the Bible by Donald S. Whitney ($3.99)


God Speaks: Finding Hope in the Midst of Hopelessness by Ray Comfort ($0.99)


Living with the Living God by John Owen and George Smeaton ($2.99)

Video

The Leadership Crisis (Animated) | Barry-Wehmiller


“Welcome to America”

Welcome to America 1

Well, within six hours I will have lost my Scottish accent and I’ll be speaking Americanese. My sermons will lose half their power and never again will I blush to hear, “Oh, I looooooooove your accent!”

I’m still not quite sure how the mechanics of this work. Someone said it’s an injection you receive during the pledge of allegiance. Another said, “You have to swallow a pill.” I’m going to try and avoid both because a colleague of mine warned me long ago, “David, no one would ever listen to you if you didn’t speak with a Scottish accent.” He was half-joking.

Yes, today, at 1pm in the Gerald R. Ford Museum, my family and I become American citizens. Multiple thoughts and feelings fill my mind and heart, which I’ll try to sort through and articulate tomorrow. In the meantime, I wanted to share a photo of a lovely gift we received last week from the first grade students at East Grand Rapids Lakeside Elementary.

One of our friends in our congregation, Julie Laroque, works there and helped each of the children prepare a card to welcome us to America. We were deeply touched by all the effort they put into it; especially how each one wrote in their card what they loved about America. Thank you, Lakeside, you made us feel so welcome!

Julie and her family also provided us all with American socks for the ceremony (Viewer discretion advised, especially for the Brits). Still trying to persuade Joni and Amy to wear them today with their dresses. On top of the American flag another family kindly gifted us, we’re just about fully kitted out.

And now I’m just going to have a wee cry:


Check Out

Blogs

Reclaiming Your Eyes from Pornography | Kole Farney, For The Church
“The antidote for images you used to look at is the new and better image—the glory of Christ. ”

Living under Authority | R.C. Sproul, Ligonier
“The world has gone crazy in lawlessness, but we’re to be different. Wherever we find ourselves under authority—and we all find ourselves submitting to various authorities—we’re to submit to that authority.”

The Day of Trouble | Right With God
“Few christians go through the whole of their christian lives without experiencing a time of trouble. Some, like our beloved brethren in foreign countries where it is forbidden to practice christianity, have never known a time of peace and freedom from danger. Some who have enjoyed years of blessing under the hand of God are suddenly hit by a time of trouble.”

Four Ways Not to Work | Dr. Stephen R. Graves
“So ask yourself: Are you settled in your work, or is your soul full of turmoil and chaos from your work? Here are four ways not to work, or four ways work can increase your chaos (what I call ‘inner noise’)…”

5 Ways To Maximize Your Down Time | Clark Campbell, Lifeway Leadership
“While many of us have begun to do something about our lack of margin, we often “lose sight of what matters the most.” Maybe we’ve built-in adequate margin in our schedules but what are we actually filling up that valuable time with?”

The Role of Christian Journalism—and Its Place at TGC | Joe Carter, TGC
“Crouch says the role of the journalist is to ‘make complicated things clear, quickly, for people who could be doing something else, in the service of truth.’”

Open Arms to the Muslim World | Desiring God
The wonderful story of Samuel Zwemer.

New Book

For your non-Kindle book buying needs please consider using Reformation Heritage Books in the USA and Reformed Book Services in Canada. Good value prices and shipping.


Learning to Love the Psalms by W. Robert Godfrey

Kindle Deals


Fierce Convictions – The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More: Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior ($1.99)


Ordinary: Sustainable Faith in a Radical, Restless World by Michael Horton ($2.99)


Preaching the Old Testament edited by Scott M. Gibson ($2.99)

Video

How did John MacArthur first become interested in doctrine?