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Conference on Sanctification with Tim Challies & David Murray

After classes, I’m racing off to Indianapolis next Friday, November 15th, to attend the conference “Sanctification: Overcoming Modern Challenges” being held at the Second Reformed Presbyterian Church there.  Two of our blogging friends, pastors David Murray and Tim Challies, will be addressing this topic.

Here is the description from the brochure:

Is a believer’s sanctification simply believing more in his or her justification? What place do effort and discipline have in this process? How can we focus on growing in Christ as we live in a fast-paced and distracted society? Through this conference, Dr. David Murray and Tim Challies will address these questions, focusing on four modern challenges to our sanctification and giving practical steps to overcome them so that we daily grow more and more to be like our Lord Jesus Christ. They will address the radical and extra-ordinary kind of life strongly advocated by many Evangelicals and look at the modern version of “let go and let God.” They will call us to live lives of focused godliness and pursue positive sanctification. In all, we will be strengthened as we seek to fight the “good fight of faith” and press on in righteous and holy living.

The conference is free of charge. A freewill offering will be collected to help defray expenses.

So let’s get this straight.  It is a free conference on a much needed topic, two energetic kingdom thinkers are speaking, and there will be a Reformation Heritage Books book table available to boot.  Why would you not go if you can?  Hope to see you there!

For more information, you can see the conference brochure at   Here is the schedule:


Whatever, part … whatever…

In the previous entry, we considered Paul’s willingness to give up “whatever” in order to gain a right standing before God, a standing only attainable by faith in the risen Christ (Philippians 3:7-12). Now we consider the reason why Paul and every other believer in history is brought by God’s grace into that standing. Contrary to the impression unintentionally given by popular approaches to evangelism, gaining a proper standing before God is not the culmination of a person’s spiritual journey; it is the beginning. After all, the purpose of standing is not to stay still. We stand in order to walk. Paul’s having gained Christ prepared him for his pursuit of Christ, and made him willing to walk right into and through…whatever. Read more

Whatever …

What do you desire most in life? And how much are you willing to give up in order to gain it? Is there anything about which you’d say: “I would give whatever it takes, without condition, without exception. To get that, I would give, and I would give up… whatever.” Read more

What Math Teaches Us

I was interested to see, via Tim Challies, this article entitled “The Myth of ‘I’m Bad at Math‘” at The Atlantic.   For just yesterday, in teaching on discipleship, I fell back on my experience as a math teacher and shared the following (you can ask my students!):

The word for “making disciples” is just one word in the Greek (matheteuw).  It means to make learners, pupils, or students out of people.  We get English words like man (so called because he is a “thinking” being), mind, and mental from this word.  Yet it entails far more than mere mental understanding.  That is why this word also gives us English words denoting fields of mental practice, such as ”medicine” and “mathematics” which are derived from it. To become a disciple means then that you put yourself under the correcting influence of another who will shape and mold your life, so that you “learn the practice.” 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

The Christian Home: Another Protestant Reformation Blessing


The Reformation was a time of rediscovery. The church, in a sense, rediscovered justification by faith alone. The reformation also rediscovered biblical worship, and this was seen as the second pillar of the protestant reformation. As the church was freed from the bondage of a fear based religion, other blessings were brought forth.

Other aspects of the reformation affected the life of the church and had profound implications on a developing Christian society. One such blessing in the rediscovery of biblical religion was the Christian home and the Christian marriage, which brings us to Psalm 128.

Read more

Three Kinds of Righteousness

There are three kinds of righteousness, or at least three kinds of righteousness which bear that name.  

There is inherent righteousness, of which we have none.

There is imputed righteousness, which is all our justification.

And there is imparted righteousness. when God the Spirit makes us new creatures, and raises up in the heart that “new man, which after God” (that is, “after the image of God”) “is created in righteousness and true holiness.”

When the Lord said, “Except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven,” he did not mean only an external righteousness wrought out by his obedience to the law for them, but an internal righteousness wrought out by the Holy Spirit in them.

-J.C. Philpot, Through Baca’s Vale

Preaching with Authority

Every preacher who stands behind a pulpit or on a street corner should desire to preach with authority.  He should hope that when people hear him that they are rather hearing God speaking to them through him.  He should long for his preaching to be effectual, moving people into obedient response to the Word of God.

For this is how Jesus preached. Following one of his sermons, this is the description of the response:  “When Jesus had finished these words, the crowds were amazed at His teaching; for He was teaching them as one having authority, and not as their scribes” (Matthew 7:28-29).

So how does one preach with authority?  Certainly the preacher should pray that God would bestow authority upon him as he proclaims the gospel.  Yet are there principles he can follow so that when he preaches he just does not sound like he is just attempting to be authoritative, but actually preaches with authority?  I believe so, especially if we remember the context where this statement regarding Jesus’ preaching was made.  The crowds were amazed at the teaching of Jesus as they heard the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). Read more

Call It Pornolatry

As a number of men have recently blogged on the plague of pornography, and offered help for protecting your family and redeeming your life from it (see Tim Challies, “The Porn-Free Family“; Eric Simmons, “I Hate Porn“; John Piper, “Pornography: The New Narcotic“), I thought I would join with these other brothers and offer another piece of arsenal in the fight.  Below is a re-posting, slightly edited, of a piece I wrote a while back that employs the strategy of prophets like Isaiah who used satire to try to help people see their sin.  Only as men see pornography for the false worship it is and turn to the living God will they find freedom and life.


Modern man thinks he does not worship idols, which only proves that he does. How so?

Consider for a moment the current epidemic of pornography.  The pornography industry was put into check somewhat by the morality movement during the 1980′s that led a few national chains to quit carrying obscene material.  Yet, with the advent of the Internet and personalized computers, pornography has returned with a vengeance. Some of the facts: Read more

A Good Trend

In the Reformed Presbyterian Church where I serve, over the last decade or two we have seen congregations adding multiple pastoral staff.  For instance, nearly twenty years ago the congregations in the state of Indiana where I was located all had just one pastor per congregation for the most part.  Today as I write, two-thirds of the organized congregations there have more than one man serving in the pastorate.  Many other denominations have been experiencing similar trends.

Though we long for empty pulpits in congregations to be filled; we recognize not every context or occasion calls for or can sustain more than a singular pastor; and certainly there are difficulties and dangers that can arise in congregations where there is more than one pastor, overall this is a good trend.  As Martin Bucer said in Concerning the True Care of Souls, “Therefore, since the pastoral office involves such a great and important work, and one which so long as we live here is unending, that of presenting the church of Christ in all its members without fault, without stain or wrinkle, this office requires many sorts of ministry and work.” Read more


Christian young people in North America who sense a long-term call to the mission field in developing countries are often ready and willing to give up most of their material possessions. They are willing to go with the clothes on their back and eat beans and rice to tell about Jesus. The problem is that the citizens of those developing nations might be eating only beans or rice. Thus, the native people often perceive that the most materially advantageous job to have is one connected with Christian ministry. Read more

2013 Desiring God National Conference

If you haven’t had a chance to listen to any of the Desiring God 2013 National Conference messages on the works/thought of C.S. Lewis, consider doing so.  Several of them are exceptional.

The conference is entitled “The Romantic Rationalist: God, Life, and Imagination in the Work of C.S. Lewis.”  Here are a number of them that stood out to me:

C.S. Lewis and the Care of Souls

Myth Wars: C.S. Lewis vs. Scientism

C.S. Lewis, Romantic Rationalist: How His Paths to Christ Shaped His Life and Ministry

Undragoned: C.S. Lewis on the Gift of Salvation

Inerrancy and the Patron Saint of Evangelicalism: C.S. Lewis on Holy Scripture

C.S. Lewis on Heaven and the New Earth: God’s Eternal Remedy to the Problem of Evil and Suffering

What God Made Is Good — And Must Be Sanctified: C.S. Lewis and St. Paul on the Use of Creation

GenRef Interview With Dr. Ardel Caneday

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

Col 1:21-23

We are quite comfortable with the above verse, until, of course, we come to that little word “if.”  It jumps out at us like a bugbear, startling us, even disturbing us.  Why say that, Paul?  Why toss in an “if.”  It sounds like you’re positing a condition to salvation?  Isn’t our salvation secure?

Even more forceful passages could be gathered from the apostolic letters, exhortations warning us of the dire consequences of committing apostasy.  The book of Hebrews certainly comes to mind.

So what are we to do with such statements?  Brush them under the rug?  Explain them away?  Perhaps we should just flip the page quickly?

In today’s interview with Dr. Ardel Caneday, co-author of the insightful book The Race Set Before Us: A Biblical Theology of Perseverance and Assurance, we’ll explore the biblical relationship between promise and warning, assurance and perseverance.


For myself, I am convinced that Dr. Caneday and Dr. Schreiner have provided the church with an invaluable resource, helping us understand how these two thorny and often polarizing concepts harmonize with one another.  If after listening to the interview, you’re interested in learning more, you can find the book online at Amazon.  Just click the picture below.




Texts Over Which To Weep

Does God ever seem cruel to you as He’s portrayed on the pages of Scripture? You come across something God says, does, or commands His people to do and you cringe, thinking: “Is God really like that? Is this as bad as it seems? Is He as bad as this seems?” Certain depictions of God seem to violate the very instincts of love and justice wrought in believers by the Holy Spirit. What sense are we to make of this struggle of sentiments within us, each of which claims to represent the true and living God? Read more

Emperor Norton and King Jesus

empnort2.gifBetween 1859 and 1880 four presidents served the United States, but  as they came and went, one emperor reigned in the United States . Lincoln, Jackson, Grant, and Hayes were all president of the United States during that time, but Emperor Norton I was Emperor of the whole United States and Protector of Mexico.

“Back East” there were significant events that were shaping the growing nation, such as the Pony Express sending mail from coast to coast. The Homestead Act opened the fly-over states resulting in a population surge (including many Covenanters) along the prairies and fields of grain. The Emancipation Proclamation freed Southern slaves and eventually the United States would work on healing herself following a war of ideologies.  And who could forget the fact that the National League was founded as a cradle for Dodger’s baseball (go Blue!).

Many things were changing in the United States between 1859 and 1880,  but one thing remained a constant. Emperor Norton was the self-proclaimed rightful heir of the United States and Mexico.  Read more