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Posts by Jared Olivetti

Ferguson, Staten Island, and Jesus Christ

Ruins and Foundations

Our church has at least two sets of pastoral needs. About half of those in worship on a given Sunday are African, and about half are American (mainly white), but right now, none are “African-American” – American-born black. I’m writing this note mainly to my church. I want to give you things to remember when you see ugly things happen as they have in Missouri (and, since I started writing this post, in New York City) in the last few weeks. Ferguson, Missouri and Staten Island are all over the news, and if you use Facebook or Twitter, all over them, too. Recent events – the refusal of two grand juries to indict police officers in the deaths of unarmed black men – bring to our attention some of America’s most shameful problems and ugliest history.

First, there is systemic racism in the United States. We all know about the horrible crime and sin of black slavery, which ended in the…

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Mistaken Identity

I was offended by the news today. They called me a bad name. It still hurts to even think about it. They called me a…consumer. Blech.

Truth be told, there are times when the horrible name is deserved. Times when the shiny stuff of the world leads me around like the stick-held carrot it is.

But the name still stinks. What’s worse, the more I hear it, the easier it is to believe. A thousand advertisements preach their sermon to me every day, tempting me toward this mistaken identity.

And so back to the pages of God’s Word, where a better name is given.  Read more

A Long Line of Godly Men

Sometimes it’s striking how our own lives parallel church history. The subtitle of Ligonier’s biography series, “A Long Line of Godly Men” has been ringing in my head this past week. Not only is it an appropriate phrase to celebrate how God has blessed his church through many godly men, it’s also an appropriate title for his grace in my life.

As God often chooses to use secondary means to accomplish his wonderful purposes, he has chosen to use a long line of godly men in my life to bring his saving and sanctifying grace to me. As we approach Thanksgiving, I wanted to give God my public thanks for this long line of godly men he’s used in my life. Read more

Our New Professor

Last Friday night, several of us were privileged to attend Barry York’s inauguration as professor of pastoral theology at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. Those who’ve known Barry for a while – and those who’ve been blessed through his writings on this site – are no doubt joyful in God’s clear providence, raising up Barry for this great work. As I reflected on this event, here are some things that stood out to me:  Read more

Saturday Evening at a Pastor’s Home

The house is clean. Mostly. You know, pretty clean. Soccer gear is stowed away so Sunday visitors don’t impale themselves on cleats.

Homemade pizza with whole wheat crust, kids eating at the kitchen table, mom and dad across the counter from them. Dad’s still on a diet, so there’s more pizza for those who are supposed to still be growing.

Little boys playing hide and seek, mostly hiding from taking showers.  Read more

We Must Be More Vigilant (Kevin DeYoung)

Brothers and sisters, we must be more vigilant. With our kids, with our families, with our Facebook accounts, with our texts, with our tweets, with our own eyes and hearts. Are we any differ­ent than the culture? Have we made a false peace with ourselves whereby we have said, we won’t do the things you do or be as sensual as you are, but we will gladly watch you do them for us? The kinds of things Paul wouldn’t even mention, the sort of sins he wouldn’t dare joke about, the behaviors too shameful to even name—we hear about them in almost every sitcom and see them on screens bigger than our homes. Here is worldliness as much as anywhere in the Christian life. Try turning off the television and staying away from the movies for a month and see what new things you see when you come back. I fear many of us have become numb to the poison we are drinking. When it comes to sexual immorality, sin looks normal, righteousness looks very strange, and we look a lot like everybody else.

This post from Kevin DeYoung (an excerpt from the book The Hole in our Holinessthe Kindle version is on sale for $2.99!), is well worth the few minutes it would take to read. As our nation continues its breathless sprint away from God’s law, the church can either just keep a few steps behind or we can grow in our holiness, letting the increasing separation between us and our society’s sins bear the light of Christ’s holiness in a dark world.

The Numbers of Revelation

It’s no secret that the book of Revelation loves its numbers, but you may not have realized just how much. In his commentary on Revelation, Gregory Beale (using some insights from Richard Bauckham) highlights some of the ways Revelation uses the numbers 4, 7, 12–each are numbers signifying fullness and completion. In addition to the most obvious (seven bowl, seven trumpets, etc.), there are numbers and patterns of those numbers skillfully woven throughout the book. Read more

All the Single Ladies. And Men.

Dear single ladies and single men, the church needs you. I know it can seem otherwise when we talk about the importance of covenant families (they are important) or ask you every week with a wink, “Is there someone special in your life?”, but the fact remains: the church needs you now, not just when you get married and have kids.  Read more

Maybe we took a wrong turn somewhere…

In preparing this Sunday night’s lesson on the reformation doctrine of preaching, I came across this very helpful article by Cornelis Venema, professor at Mid-America Reformed Seminary. In it, he traces the doctrine of preaching through the various reformed confessions to show a distinct and uniform teaching that is often missing from many evangelical and even reformed churches. Perhaps most helpful is his following summary of the problem: Read more

The River of Life

It’s normally a bad sign when water is streaming out under a doorway in your house. It’s normally a cause for alarm and a quick call to the plumber. But not this time.  Read more

Some brief thoughts on wisdom

Part of my daily Bible reading has been through the book of Proverbs lately and tonight I happened upon a sermon of mine from Proverbs 1. Apparently I’m forgetful enough that my own sermon notes can help me just a few years later. Anyway, here are just a few thoughts about Biblical wisdom, specifically about God’s promise to make us wise: Read more

Rich in God’s Grace

I found this quote in my studies this morning and thought it would be an encouragement as we each look forward to the Lord’s Day. In speaking about God’s grace in raising up Samuel to be a prophet, Dale Ralph Davies writes:

If contemporary believers have a church where social activities, committee meetings, and nifty programs have not eclipsed the place of the word of God, if the teaching of the word of God stands at the heart of the church’s life, if there is a pulpit ministry where the Scriptures are clearly, accurately, and helpfully preached, then they are rich in the grace of God.

If you have such a church family, regardless of what else others might think is missing, give thanks to God for the grace of His Word!

Debate Reflections

The following is a guest post from our friend Jon Sturm, who attended a popular and important debate at Purdue last weekend.

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On Friday, February 1st the Elliott Hall of Music on the campus of Purdue University played host to a well-attended and much-anticipated debate.  The Symposium Christi is an annual event, hosted by multiple campus ministries and churches, with the purpose to explore and debate some of the most probing questions of about faith, reason, and life. The topic of this year’s main debate was, “The Foolishness of Faith: is Faith in God Reasonable?” Arguing for the affirmative was Dr. William Craig, Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. Arguing for the negative was Dr. Alex Rosenberg, Professor and Department Head of Philosophy at Duke University. I had the pleasure of attending the debate with about twenty-five friends and acquaintances from central Indiana.

The debate featured excellent rhetoric, more Latin than I cared for, and a great deal else which went about a mile over my decidedly unintellectual head.  I’ll not bore you with its exact details; rather I want to share three reflections which came from hearing brilliant men discuss an important topic. Read more

Preaching Tolerance

Understandably, we in the church are pretty wary when it comes to tolerance. As so many college freshmen, we’ve had the idea (really, the doctrine) of tolerance preached at us from most corners of our society. And we rightly push back, rejecting postmodern tolerance as the license to sin that it often is. But are we throwing out the baby with the bathwater? Does the Bible have something to say about the practice of tolerance in the church of Jesus? As it turns out… Read more

Responding to Tragedy

How do we–how can we–respond to such tragedy as the murder of children and their teachers? How do we even think through such horror? I’m not sure there’s one perfect answer to that question. Rather, I think Jesus shows and teaches us many ways in which we can respond. Here are a few that are running through my head this morning. Read more