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Five Books that Helped Shape Me As a Christian

Books are funny things. Each of them shapes you in at least some small way, but some will prove far more shaping than others. This can be because of the time when you read them, the content of the book, discussions you had about the book, or factors you’re never made aware of. That said, here are the five books (besides the Bible) that I look back on as having had the biggest impact on me.

  1. Desiring God – This book is really what got me started reading theology. Piper presented theology in a way that was appealing and I don’t know that I would have read any of the books below without having read this one—even though I never quite finished it. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 3.8

After seven straight articles about predestination in chapter three of the Confession, the Westminster Divines thought it wise to clarify how the doctrine is to be used.

The doctrine of this high mystery of predestination is to be handled with special prudence and care, that men, attending the will of God revealed in His Word, and yielding obedience thereunto, may, from the certainty of their effectual vocation, be assured of their eternal election. So shall this doctrine afford matter of praise, reverence, and admiration of God; and of humility, diligence, and abundant consolation to all that sincerely obey the Gospel.

Westminster Confession of Faith: 3.8

The notion that Calvinists are jerks is a common one today because many have not heeded this article. Predestination is a doctrine that needs to be handled carefully. It should result in assurance of salvation, humility, hard work, and worship for those who believe it. Calvinists who make Balaam’s donkey appear to be a more amiable messenger have done something wrong. They do not know what Spirit they are of.

The doctrine of predestination teaches us that we had nothing whatever to do with our salvation. It teaches us that we were so bad, only God could save us. It humbles us by telling us that we could never even have a part in our salvation, then it reassures us by teaching us that the whole of it has already been accomplished for us. Let’s pray that God will use this doctrine to move us to worship and humility.

Twelve Theses on Male Modesty

Rather than write an extended post on male modesty, I’ve heavily condensed my thoughts into twelve theses. If we’re being honest: it’s probably one of the best ways to ensure that men will read it.

  1. The Greek word for lust simply means powerful desire. It cannot, therefore, be reduced to only include sexual desire.
  2. Men and women are fully capable of having powerful or inordinate desires for all the same things. The difference between men and women is not in what the they can be tempted by, but rather what the are most prone to be tempted by. • • • Read More • • •

Why You Should Stop Praying “In Your Name, Amen.”

Scripture often speaks of believers as children and of God as Father. This description is comforting to believers because it teaches us what we are often like and how God responds to us. Children make lots of mistakes that their father will help them overcome. Children also rebel openly, but that doesn’t make their father stop loving them. Adoption is truly a great gift.

I’d like to address a mistake that many Christians make while praying, but I want to begin and end with a reminder that we have a loving Father who bears with us even in our mistakes. Most people do not have a good theology of prayer, but that doesn’t mean that God isn’t listening—just like a child who can’t quite say “daddy” isn’t ignored on the grounds that he talks funny. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 3.7

The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of His own will, whereby He extends or withholds mercy, as He pleases, for the glory of His sovereign power over His creatures, to pass by; and to ordain them to dishonour and wrath for their sin, to the praised of His glorious justice.

Westminster Confession of Faith 3.7

When thinking about election and reprobation, we must remember that because all men fell with Adam, God is not obligated to save anyone. When you give a gift to a family member, other people do not have the right to demand that you therefore give them a gift as well. Salvation is a gift and God dispenses it as He pleases.

The Potter, says Paul, has rights over the clay (Romans 9:21). He has the right to save whom He will and pass over whom He will. If His goal were to promote pots in general, then creating some destined for destruction would be silly. But His goal is His own glory, so He uses some pots to show His grace and some to show His justice. In all this He not only maintains His righteousness, but also manifests it.

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 3.6

This post is a continuation of my series on the Westminster Confession.

As God has appointed the elect unto glory, so has He, by the eternal and most free purpose of His will, foreordained all the means thereunto. Wherefore, they who are elected, being fallen in Adam, are redeemed by Christ, are effectually called unto faith in Christ by His Spirit working in due season, are justified, adopted, sanctified, and kept by His power, through faith, unto salvation. Neither are any other redeemed by Christ, effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.

Westminster Confession of Faith 3.6

One of the teachings that keeps Calvinism from becoming stagnant is the belief that God has ordained the means whereby the elect are saved. That means is faith, but how can anyone believe without hearing? Moreover, how will they hear unless someone is speaking? (Romans 10:14) • • • Read More • • •

Immodesty, Shame, and the Market of Flesh

When Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, the first thing they tried to do was cover themselves. They sought out modesty to cover their shame, but it was wholly insufficient. Their flesh was hidden, but the sins of their flesh were left hanging in the breeze like so much dirty laundry. God Himself had to cover their sin and it’s worth noting that He did so through death. • • • Read More • • •

‘Christian Nudity’ Probably Isn’t the Problem

There was an article posted on Relevant Magazine entitled, ‘Christian Cleavage’ Probably Isn’t the Problem. In it, the author addresses yet another article, The Problem of Christian Cleavage (which was later renamed).

I’m not writing this post to beat up on the author of that post (or Relevant Magazine). I’m sure he had good intentions. There’s a host of articles out there that make many of the same points, so he’s certainly not alone in his opinions. He’s just saying what evangelical bloggers have been saying for years. All of his arguments are good, but in my opinion, he stops short of where he should have gone with them. I’ve decided to take his arguments and apply them in a less rigid, puritanical way. • • • Read More • • •

Culture and Kingdom Episode 007

In this episode, Chris fixes his microphone, we talk about sportsing, and we have our first ever After Show. The idea for the After Show is that we talk about topics that our listeners are less likely to find interesting. This will generally be heady theological stuff since Chris is in seminary and I sometimes like to pretend I am.

We’re very interested in hearing your thoughts, so listen to the episode and then shoot us an email.

Old Covenant: Shadows and Patterns

Writing about the Old Covenant is something of a difficult task. If you look at your Bible, you’ll note that three quarters of it are largely dedicated to the Old Covenant. Beyond that, the only thing more misunderstood in contemporary evangelicalism than the Old Covenant is, perhaps, the book of Revelation. This, by the way, is not a coincidence.

When Christ came to His covenant people, He came to a people who had every Old Testament book that we have but hardly understood any of it. This is not a fault of the Old Testament. Man’s inability to see Christ in the temple furniture is not a deficiency in the carpentry. It’s also not a deficiency in our eyes; we have them and they work, but we don’t see. By faith, we can see Christ everywhere—in the Old Covenant and the New. Without faith, we can’t even see Him in the gospels. • • • Read More • • •

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 3.5

Those of mankind that are predestinated unto life, God, before the foundation of the world was laid, according to His eternal and immutable purpose, and the secret counsel and good pleasure of His will, has chosen, in Christ, unto everlasting glory, out of His mere free grace and love, without any foresight of faith, or good works, or perseverance in either of them, or any other thing in the creature, as conditions, or causes moving Him thereunto; and all to the praise of His glorious grace.

Westminster Confession of Faith 3.5

If you’ve ever felt like you have nothing to offer God, then this doctrine is very good news. If you’ve ever thought that there is nothing in you that makes you more acceptable to God then your unbelieving neighbors, this doctrine says that you are right and that it’s all a part of the plan. • • • Read More • • •

Culture and Kingdom Episode 006

It’s been a while, but Chris and I finally got another episode out. Broadly speaking, the topic is the Charlie Hebdo incident. Some details include secularism’s tactics, the battle of worldviews between secularists and all religion, Christianity’s response to both, and Christian use of satire and related tactics.

I think our podcast is finally starting to come together. Having a flowing conversation with someone on the internet, and especially someone you don’t know very well, is very challenging. I think we’re getting better at it, but we’d love your feedback.

One last quick note: I’m not a pacifist. When I said that killing is wrong, I simply meant that murdering people is not an acceptable method for fighting a battle of worldviews. Civil government is given the sword in Romans 12 and it ought to use it, but use it justly—in accordance with God’s Law. Anyone else killing someone is almost always unlawful and therefore sin.

That aside, here’s Episode 006: A Conflict of Worldview

Lord’s Day Reflections: WCF 3.4

These angels and men, thus predestinated, and foreordained, are particularly and unchangeably designed, and their number so certain and definite, that it cannot be either increased or diminished.

Westminster Confession of Faith 3.4

There are at least two reasons why this hard truth is good news to us. The first is that it means that if we are in the number of the elect, we cannot be removed from them. The second is that, despite our pitiable efforts and failures in the field of evangelism, God will still save His elect. • • • Read More • • •


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