The Testimony of an Unlikely Convert

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There are some stories that just need to be told—some testimonies of the Lord’s grace that are so unusual and so encouraging that they will bless everyone who hears them. This is exactly the case with Rosaria Butterfield who recently authored The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert. Tim and I recently interviewed Butterfield for an episode of the Connected Kingdom Podcast. At the very least, make sure you listen to the first ten minutes or so where she shares the way the Lord saved her. After hearing how she came to know the Lord, we also talk about issues related to the church and homosexuality.

If you would like to give us feedback or join in the discussion, go ahead and look up our Facebook Group or leave a comment right here. You will always be able to find the most recent episode here on the blog. If you would like to subscribe via iTunes, you can do that here or if you want to subscribe with another audio player, you can try this RSS link.

A New Reformation Begins…On Our Own Doorstep

I’ve been closely following the Reformed African American Network (RAAN) since it was launched a year ago today. RAAN exists “to fuel modern reformation in the African American community and our multi-ethnic nation beyond.” Its enthusiastic founders, Jemar Tisby and Phillip Holmes, have chosen Reformation Day to release a video thanking God for all the progress that’s been made over the past year and to ask for support heading into the future.

I have huge admiration for Phillip, Jemar and others who work with them in this worthy cause and pray that you too will catch their passion and support this modern Reformation on our own doorstep. Apart from the salvation of my own family, there’s nothing I long for more than to see multi-ethnic Reformed churches established throughout the world. We’ve got a long, long way to go to achieve this, but I believe RAAN could be a tremendous catalyst to inspire and motivate churches and Christians to work and pray towards the realization of this brave and beautiful vision. Watch the video and catch the fire!

You can follow RAAN at their blog, on Twitter or on Facebook.

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6 Changes in 6 Years of Blogging
Trevin Wax reviews 6 years of blogging.

How to bottle pastoral encouragement
What do you think of Erik’s third suggestion? “In order to help myself to be cognizant of God’s continued work of grace in his church I have created a label in my Gmail account entitled ‘Pastoral Encouragement’. This label functions like a folder in many other in box systems. It is a drawer, if you will, where I can keep these snapshots of gracious encouragement.”

I’m not much of a reader”
Hope I’ll have the courage to say something like this, the next time I hear this phrase.

Bono’s Humbling Realizations about Aid, Capitalism, and Nerds
“He said it had been ‘a humbling thing for me’ to realize the importance of capitalism and entrepreneurialism in philanthropy, particularly as someone who ‘got into this as a righteous anger activist with all the cliches.’”

Should I stay or should I go?
John Van Eyk uses Matthew Henry to help pastors decide whether to accept a call to a new congregation.

Embracing the thorn that bleeds you dry
Stephen Altrogge writes a beautifully and brutally transparent post about his struggle with anxiety (which is NOT worry!)

Is this the most sexist verse in the Bible?

I’ve preached quite a few sermons from Ecclesiastes 7. But I’ve always felt a little awkward when reading verse 28 in the pulpit:

One man among a thousand I have found,
But a woman among all these I have not found.

In the context it looks as if Solomon’s search for wisdom turned up a wise man now and again, but never a wise woman! It’s not exactly New-York-Times-speak, is it! Is Solomon a closet Republican conducting a “war on women?”

I’ve never found a commentary that either deals with the difficulty or solves it to my satisfaction. Until last Saturday, when I was preparing a sermon on Ecclesiastes 7:29, and I came across this in the ESV study Bible:

The term “found” here means “figured out, comprehended by study.” The Preacher is admitting that he is unable to “figure out” the vast majority of people he encounters, whether male or female; even his successes in understanding his own sex are extremely unimpressive (only “one man among a thousand”).

This explanation fits the Hebrew, the grammar, the immediate context, and the wider context of the whole Bible which honors women and elevates them above the cultural and societal norms of biblical times.

So, no, it’s not the most sexist verse in the Bible. If anything, you’d expect a man to have a much higher “figure out” rate among his own gender. But his stats are hardly impressive, are they.

The Bible reveals God’s saving love for women; it’s sin that’s sexist and wars against all women…and all men.

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36 Purposes of God in our suffering
Paul Tautges summarizes an appendix from one of Joni’s books.

Seminary Graduates: Blessing or Curse?
Tim Gombis on how to move from seminary to ministry. (HT: BibleX)

How God uses disability
If you are in the Hamilton, Ontario area, you have the opportunity to support a wonderful ministry and hear Kara Dedert speak. If she can speak half as well as she can write, you’ll be in for a treat.

How to break through your creative blocks
Marc Cortez helps us to pick between two seemingly contradictory solutions.

The parenting opportunity of election day
“Our reaction to the election returns will speak volumes to our children about our understanding of submission and sovereignty. Have you thought about what your words and actions will teach your child when the votes have been counted?”

How the church fails businesspeople

What would I do if I was falsely accused of sexual immorality?

I had an eerie sense of déjà vu as I watched the Dinesh D’Souza scandal unfold last week.  I’ve seen a number of men be accused of sexual immorality – politicians, businessmen, pastors – and almost always their first reaction is not only to deny the accusations, but to attack the accusers as jealous, small-minded, and part of a wider conspiracy or vendetta against them (e.g. Bill Clinton, Dominique Strauss, etc).

Obviously we have to resist the temptation to assume the worst of people, especially of powerful men. False accusers do exist. However, it does raise the question if this is the way those who really are victims of false accusation would or should react?

Or to make it more personal, what if I was wrongly accused of sexual immorality? What would I do? How would I hope I’d react?

First of all, I go to fairly extreme lengths to ensure that I am never in a situation where such an allegation could arise, or if it did it could easily be disproved due to the presence of other witnesses, etc.

Second, I would humble myself before God, as I would view such an accusation as divine chastening. I would prayerfully look for why God saw fit to allow such painful allegations to arise in my life. Even if not guilty, there is a humiliating shame involved. I would pray for much grace for my wife and family as such accusations would impact them as much as me.

Third, I hope I’d try to reach out to the accuser(s) in love and mercy seeking to understand why she/he is making such an allegation. I hope I would not denigrate her/him or seek to destroy her/his character. She/he is a precious soul with a great need for salvation, and so are those who may be supporting her/him.

Fourth, I’d ask my pastor/elders/employer to initiate a full and open investigation of the accusations. I’d want them to treat it seriously rather than dismiss it with “We know you’d never do that.” I would not want to be treated with any special favor or shortcuts.

Fifth, I’d seriously consider stepping aside from public Gospel duties while the investigation is completed. I imagine it would feel very strange and inappropriate to be proclaiming God’s truth while under such a dark cloud.

Sixth, I’d seek solace in the sufferings of Christ, trying to enter into the fellowship of his sufferings, who was falsely accused throughout his life.

Seventh, I’d pray for vindication, asking God to clear my name through due process. I hope I would not resort to threats, manipulation, or other political machinations to secure my reputation or innocence.

Eighth, I hope I’d be willing to submit to God’s providence even if it was not possible to clear my name, even if it meant the end of my ministry. That’s easy to say when it’s not happening, but I hope I would be thankful for the years God did grant me to proclaim His Word, and accept that now it’s over and God will advance His work and His kingdom without me.

Lastly, even if false accusations ended my ministry, Joseph’s and King David’s stories encourage me to hope that in time God would yet vindicate me and return me to even greater future usefulness in His Kingdom.

It reminds us all to pray more earnestly than ever before, “Lead us not into temptation, and deliver us from evil.”