So You Want to Be in “The Ministry”

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When I was in college, a lot of my friends were preparing to go into “The Ministry.” Some were full of holy zeal for mission work, some had plans for pastoral ministry, and some were simply caught up in the whirlwind of surrender. The “Preacher Boys” dated and married the girls called to be “Pastors’ Wives” and we all dreamed of future service.

Somehow when the dust had settled, I found myself married to one of those “Preacher Boys” despite no pressing need to be a “Pastor’s Wife” or to be in vocational ministry. Our first years together were spent finishing up school, going through the process of ordination, and eventually launching out into “The Ministry.” But nearly a decade and a half later, I’ve learned a few things. And most of them bear no resemblance to what I thought I knew.

I was reminded of this today when I read this piece from Jared Wilson about watching one of his parishioners waste away in hospice. Wilson is a popular blogger and author, but he spends most of his time in the trenches as a pastor, and this piece particularly captures the realities of ministry. The pain, the heartbreak, the inexplicable hope of the gospel. The joy of watching people triumph over death through the power of Christ.

We didn’t talk about these things in college. Read more about So You Want to Be in “The Ministry”

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Jesus and Paul as Separatists

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(Please, consider reading all of the preceding articles before delving into this one. While I’ve tried to make them each stand alone, they are linked together.)

Aphorism 3: Applications of the commands of separation must take into account Jesus and Paul’s application of these same commands as recorded in the Gospels, Acts, and the epistles.

The argument I am pursuing is that Jesus and Paul were separatist. (I’ve attempted to cover this in greater detail in the previous article.) Jesus and Paul must be separatists because they are obeying many of the same commands that we are. Further, Jesus and Paul give us a model to both follow and to understand God’s intent in giving these commands. Paul and Jesus’ model is the rule for Christians, because Paul commands us, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Read more about Jesus and Paul as Separatists

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Languages and Your English Bible

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Many Christians are wrongly intimidated by the fact that they do not understand the original languages of the Bible. Those supposedly “in the know” make assertions that imply their superior status in understanding of Scripture because of their linguistic skills.

In reality, proper interpretation is more often about maintaining an open mind and avoiding logical fallacies. A believer who knows how to read and think, but doesn’t know the original languages, will be a superior interpreter to one who knows the ancient language but cannot think logically. Some highly educated folks cannot distinguish between correlation and cause, description and prescription, or the difference between partial truths and the whole truth.

The languages can make a difference, but not to the degree that some would imply. Muslims, for example, claim the only way to understand the Koran is to read it in Arabic. Christians, on the other hand, have traditionally not made such a claim. Snobs, by definition, would not make such an admission. Fortunately, most evangelical scholars are not arrogant; they will freely admit that understanding the original languages is helpful (otherwise why learn them?), but not absolutely crucial for every Christian. Read more about Languages and Your English Bible

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From the Archives: Ronald Reagan's 1986 Memorial Day Speech

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President Reagan delivered the speech at Arlington National Cemetery after placing a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Source: Heritage Foundation and The American Presidencey Project.

Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.

I was thinking this morning that across the country children and their parents will be going to the town parade and the young ones will sit on the sidewalks and wave their flags as the band goes by. Later, maybe, they’ll have a cookout or a day at the beach. And that’s good, because today is a day to be with the family and to remember.

Arlington, this place of so many memories, is a fitting place for some remembering. So many wonderful men and women rest here, men and women who led colorful, vivid, and passionate lives. There are the greats of the military: Bull Halsey and the Admirals Leahy, father and son; Black Jack Pershing; and the GI’s general, Omar Bradley. Great men all, military men. But there are others here known for other things. Read more about From the Archives: Ronald Reagan's 1986 Memorial Day Speech

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Sin and Judgment to Come

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(About this series)

CHAPTER III: SIN AND JUDGMENT TO COME

BY SIR ROBERT ANDERSON, K. C. B., LL. D., LONDON, ENGLAND

The Book of Judges records that in evil days when civil war was raging in Israel, the tribe of Benjamin boasted of having 700 men who “could sling stones at a hair breadth and not miss.” Nearly two hundred times the Hebrew word chatha, here translated “miss,” is rendered “sin” in our English Bible; and this striking fact may teach us that while “all unrighteousness is sin,” the root-thought of sin is far deeper. Man is a sinner because, like a clock that does not tell the time, he fails to fulfill the purpose of his being. And that purpose is (as the Westminster divines admirably state it), “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Our Maker intended that “we should be to the praise of His glory.” But we utterly fail of this; we “come short of the glory of God.” Man is a sinner not merely because of what he does, but by reason of what he is. Read more about Sin and Judgment to Come

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Postmodernism 11 - Preaching to Postmoderns

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From Sunesis. Posted with permission. Read the series so far.

The postmodern church began as a reaction to the megachurch movement and the impersonality of the big churches. The emerging churches all started small and promoted the superiority of their smallness. That is not heard so much anymore, now that some emerging churches have become the next megachurches. Some of the postmodern church members and leaders may not be believers; this is obvious as you look at some of their beliefs. There are, however, some believing postmoderns; there should and could be many more. Most postmoderns are outside any type of church. We have a great opportunity to evangelize them.

Postmoderns like groups, and there is much to be said for the use of small groups in reaching the postmodernist. Those who are truly postmodern still value the group and the group mentality. Small group Sunday Schools (perhaps too formal for some postmoderns) and home-based small groups (more inviting for the postmodern) can be used effectively to reach this group (and moderns, as well). Read more about Postmodernism 11 - Preaching to Postmoderns

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Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 3

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(The series so far.)

Four Pillars

Some years ago I published a paper, entitled “Presuppositional Dispensationalism,”1 in which I attempted to summarize the biblical epistemological model with the illustration of four pillars.

Pillar #1 is the existence of the biblical God. As the first principal, the God of the Bible exists, and not merely as one god among many, but as the One who has disclosed Himself in such a way that His exclusivity is unavoidable. Further, He is characterized above all else by holiness (Isa. 6:3, Rev 4:8), and all that He does is to be understood through that lens. The recognition of this first principle does not advocate faith as the sole or final source of understanding truth;2 rather it is an invitation to step into the biblical perspective, to “taste and see that the Lord is good” (Psa. 34:8).

Pillar #2 is the principle that God has divinely and authoritatively disclosed Himself for the purpose of His own glorification, through general revelation (creation, Rom. 1:18-20), special revelation (the Bible, 2 Tim 3:16-17), and personal revelation (Jesus Christ, John 1:1-18). Read more about Epistemological Foundations for a Biblical Theology, Part 3

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Were Jesus and Paul Separatists? Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation

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Read the series so far.

Please, consider reading all of the preceding articles before delving into this one. While I’ve tried to make them each stand alone, they are linked together.

Aphorism 1: The debate between Bible believing Christians about separation is fundamentally about the how to apply the passages in the Bible commanding separation.

Aphorism 2: All applications of the commands of Scripture are based on a particular context outside the Bible. Therefore unless the context is identical to what was intended by the Bible, an application cannot be as normative as Scripture itself.

Aphorism 3: Applications of the commands of separation must take into account Jesus’ and Paul’s application of these same commands as recorded in the Gospels, Acts, and the epistles. Read more about Were Jesus and Paul Separatists? Aphorisms for Thinking about Separation

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