New Blog Design

Hope you like the new blog design and that it improves your reading experience especially on cell phones and tablets. Feedback has been positive so far. Having been born without even one design atom in my body, needless to say I had nothing whatsoever to do with it.

Full credit goes to Cameron Morgan the designer, and Ray Wong the front end developer. These are fantastic guys to work with and I recommend them 100%.

Our main aim was to modernize and simplify the desktop browser version of the blog, and to make the mobile version responsive to different mobile devices. We’ve still got a few tweaks to work on, but I’m really delighted with what they’ve produced.

You can contact Cameron via Linked In or Twitter.

You can contact Ray via Linked In or Twitter.

Let me know if there’s anything else you can think of that would enhance the blog.

If I were the Antichrist…

When did you last hear a sermon about the Antichrist?

Probably never for most of us.

Yet, there are numerous references to him in the Bible; in some cases whole chapters are devoted to describing him.

Why then crickets in the pulpit?

I think the main reason is fear of embarrassment. As we look back at history we see that many preachers and writers tried to pin the tail on the donkey and missed by miles. Anyone for Napoleon…Hitler…Saddam Hussein!? Ouch! None of us want to be the next Harold Camping.

But while we might wisely hold back from specifically identifying the Antichrist as Barack Obama, or George Bush, or whatever, we must not hold back from at least highlighting and explaining the characteristics of the Antichrist as described in the Bible.

We’ll do that tomorrow, but in the meantime let me give you four general principles to bear in mind when surveying the biblical data.

First, the Antichrist is progressively revealed. Daniel is arguably the first biblical author to focus our attention on the Antichrist, although the principle of Antichrist can be seen in previous figures such as Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar. The Antichrist’s features are then increasingly revealed by Jesus, by Paul, and by John. The portrait starts out shadowy but gets more and more detailed and colorful as the Bible progresses. We must therefore be careful to take account of all the biblical data, especially the latter parts.

Second, there are many antichrists and there is one Antichrist. This seems contradictory but the Bible speaks both of multiple antichrists and of THE Antichrist, a succession of antichrists and a singular antichrist (1 John 2:18; 2 John 7).

Third, antichrist is both now and in the future. This helps us to understand the previous point. While the spirit of antichrist is at work in all ages, and many individuals embody that spirit throughout history, there will be one climactic Antichrist figure who will appear at the very end of time.

Fourth, the antichrist is prophesied in apocalyptic books. The books that speak most about the Antichrist are Daniel and Revelation, in sections that are not only prophetic but apocalyptic in genre. The section of Matthew in which Jesus predicts antichrist is also called “the mini-apocalypse.” This much more pictorial language cautions us against a too-literal interpretation; instead we must try understand the literal principles behind the multiple symbols and metaphors.

This is tricky, isn’t it, and maybe partly explains the widespread quiet. However, this silence is also deeply worrying because it lulls us into a false sense of security, a state of unreadiness and unpreparedness.

If I were the Antichrist, I’d be thinking, “Hey the time is just about right. No one is looking, no one is expecting, hardly anyone knows about me, and even fewer would know me if they met me.”

So let me introduce him to you tomorrow.

Check out

Re-Introducing Psalm Singing
The Biblical and Theological grounds for Psalm-singing together with practical helps to start it.

If You Want to Be More Productive, Get More Sleep
This infographic compares the sleeping patterns of top athletes. Roger Federer sleeps 11-12 hours a day whereas Tiger Woods only 4-5 hours. Might partly explain why Tiger looks so miserable these days.

Reflections On My Trip To England
I found this quite amusing, especially the end section about the anti-celebrity pastor culture in England. But you ain’t seen nothing yet, until you go to Scotland. We’ll kneecap the best of them.

Test Predicts Teen Depression Risk
Still a lot of work to do but “a tool for predicting the risk of clinical depression in teenage boys has been developed by researchers. Looking for high levels of the stress hormone cortisol and reports of feeling miserable, lonely or unloved could find those at greatest risk.”

Judges, Hubris, and Same-Sex Marriage
This is a devastating article listing the number of times that individual judges have overturned the democratic will of the people.

From Janitor to Principal
Joseph “Gabe” Sonnier was a janitor at Port Barre Elementary for over 30 years. Encouraged to be something more, he studied during the day and worked at night to become a teacher in 2008. Now, he is the principal at the same school he used to clean.

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World Must Act on North Korea
I rarely use this blog to ask people to pray for something as I figure that people have enough to pray about without me adding  unnecessary personal burdens. However, I’m making an exception for North Korea. Please read this report and pray that God would intervene to remove and replace the current leadership. I’ve often said that before I die I hope I see a real revival and North Korea set free. And if I had to chose one, it would be a free North Korea. “Let my people go!”

Former Planned Parenthood Worker Story
“It was a money-grubbing, evil, very sad, sad place to work.”

21 Things That Should Not Be Said to Sexual Abuse Victims
Mary DeMuth: “My intention in writing these is not to shame those who want to help, or make them walk on eggshells. Instead it’s to help friends and family members of victims best love and understand the sexual abuse recovery journey.”

7 Elements of Biblical Compassion
Jesus teaches at least seven elements of biblical compassion in the Good Samaritan.

Reframing Boundaries in Dating
Here’s some good discussion material for parents and teens, for youth groups, and for courting/dating couples.

These Stools Are Not Handmade (but Footmade)
Think I just stopped complaining.

One In A Thousand

One In A Thousand: The Calling and Work of the Pastor by Erroll Hulse

One In A ThousandDo we really need another book on the calling and work of a pastor? That’s my usual reaction when the latest books on the subject land regularly on my desk. And most of the time, my answer is “No.” However, knowing the wide and long pastoral experience of Erroll Hulse induced me to give his book a second look, and a third, and soon I was saying, “Yes, we need this book, it makes a valuable contribution, and it will help a lot of pastors and those who train them.”

It takes a unique approach in that it approaches the subject via the biographies of pastors from many different eras and denominations. And in each case, after a brief biography, the author focuses in on one particular quality in that pastor’s life and ministry. He looks in turn at:

  • Martin Luther’s example as a reformer
  • William Perkins’ example in stressing application in preaching
  • Richard Baxter’s example in evangelism
  • Jonathan Edwards’ example as a student of theology
  • Martyn Lloyd-Jones example in preaching
  • Martin Holdt’s example in maintaining a strong prayer life.

And all this is preceded by a few introductory chapters that start with our Lord Jesus Christ as an example of compassion and care, especially as seen in Isaiah’s four servant songs, and then at lessons from the Apostle Paul’s ministry, in particular:

  • His insistence on the centrality of the cross
  • His insistence on justification by faith alone
  • His amazing prayer life
  • His practical example as a team worker
  • His ability to endure suffering

There were a number of features I liked about this book:

First, was its conversational tone. At times I felt like I was sitting at the feet of a wise older man, being patiently and lovingly mentored by the fireside on a cold winter’s day. There were lots of fascinating “asides,” illustrations, and anecdotes garnered from many years in various ministries and missions.

Second, I appreciated the call to serious study both in preparation for the ministry and in the ongoing life of the pastor. Whatever training method chosen, seminary, or local church, Erroll emphasizes the need for prolonged time and intense study to acquire the necessary knowledge and skill to teach and preach weekly. He leans towards a seminary model as long as the teachers have pastoral experience and the students are embedded in local churches as they are taught.

Third, it majors on the majors: study, preaching, prayer, evangelism, compassion, and suffering. You may think you’ve heard it all before on these subjects, but I really believe you’ll find many fresh theological and practical gems in this book that will develop your skill and grace in these vital areas.

Fourth, you’ll learn a lot of stirring and inspirational church history. Erroll’s brief biographies of each of his main characters are a delightful model of how to introduce historical figures to a modern audience. Apart from the basics of each man’s life, there are also lots of great quotes, stories, and illustrations. I’ve read biographies about most of these men, but I found myself learning lots of new and fascinating facts about them.

Fifth, I enjoyed the way Erroll moved from historical narratives to personal application. He marshals all the facts together in a powerfully persuasive argument to move us to think, feel, will, speak, and do differently. It really is that rare bird – a practical book on practical theology.

Last, I welcomed the unspoken challenge throughout to aspire to excellence in the basics of pastoral ministry. I didn’t find Erroll’s use of these mighty men of God as our models in any way discouraging; rather I found it uplifting and motivating. It’s a high calling and therefore any who follow it must aspire to the highest of standards.  This is not for the half-hearted, the faint-hearted, or the cold-hearted; it’s for full-hearts, strong-hearts, and burning hearts.

“One in a Thousand” is the title and is taken from Job 33:22-24 where God’s messenger of salvation is so valuable and so uncommon that he is described as “one in a thousand.” Yes, that’s how rare such pastors were then and remain so today. Rare in number. Rare in that kind of quality. But this book has the potential to swell their ranks so that, by God’s grace, maybe the book can soon be re-titled, “Two in a Thousand” or even “Ten in a Thousand!”

One In A Thousand: The Calling and Work of the Pastor by Erroll Hulse

Check out

Beating Burnout
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15 Ideas to Help You Evaluate Your Church Bulletin
Results from an analysis of over 100 church bulletins.

The Psalmists Rich View of Depression
Bob Kellemen surveys the Psalms and mines some welcome comfort for the suffering.

Do You Lock The Door At Night?
A classic clip from Ravi Zacharias.

Hot Bods, The Bible, and The Brain
This is an extremely important and superbly written article by Covenant Eyes’ Luke Gilkerson on the damaging impact of porn on the brain and how to reverse it.

Cruise Ship Cut in Half The Stretched 99 Feet
What a phenomenal piece of engineering.