But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. And do not fear their intimidation, and do not be troubled, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.  1 Peter 3: 14-16

Valiant for Truth - Apologetic Report

One of the regular complaints I hear from graduates is that they believe their seminary education did not adequately prepare them for the various counseling challenges they face in the pastorate.

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As I approached graduation from WSC, I told my wife that I was willing to consider almost any possible call, with one notable exception - church planting.

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When you study for the ministry you will take a number of preaching classes as a part of the Master of Divinity curriculum. One of the inevitabilities is that students end up reflecting the preaching style and conviction of their professor.

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Going in to ministry everyone knows there will be opposition. We know that there will be hostile atheists heaping scorn upon us. We know that there will be secularists who wonder why we are so intolerant. 

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I served on a presbytery credentials committee for nearly a decade. The credentials committee has the task of vetting candidates for the ministry. One of the regular questions that we asked prospective candidates was, “Is your wife in agreement with your desire to pursue the ministry?”

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Like most newly-minted seminary graduates looking for work, I am continually checking my e-mail, eagerly anticipating an update concerning my future employment. 

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It seems like far too many people treat relationships of all sorts as being disposable. As soon as they hit a rough patch of any sort they decide to pull up stakes, move on, and find a new relationship.

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Wednesday, 29 March 2017 23:40

Contextualization for the Sake of Others

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They had no concept of the gospel. Living in a remote corner or the world, these people knew little more than each other, their pagan religion, and their paradise home. Then on an especially dark and stormy day, a missionary arrived and, in fear, the half-naked natives hid among the trees.

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Monday, 27 March 2017 20:15

A Pastor's Reflections: Alone

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One of my biggest frustrations in the pastorate is the sense of being alone. In some sense the old cliché applies, it’s lonely at the top.

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It is well known that church planting is an arduous task. The months of preparation, long hours, and immense stress drive many church planters to the brink of burnout. Recognizing this reality, there is a mountain of books, seminars, and other resources being produced to try and help prepare men...

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One of my favorite books is Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen. This is one of the twentieth-century’s great theological classics.

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There is a myth about academic life that it is a solitary endeavor. Imagine lonely, stoic figures plodding single-file into a library to sit for hours, hidden behind walled study carrels, isolated and free from social distractions, a hushed silence strictly observed. The reality of the scholarly...

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Monday, 13 March 2017 20:08

A Pastor's Reflections: Serendipity

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Serendipity is one of my favorite words for two reasons. First, it’s not a word you often hear people say and has a unique sound. Say serendipity ten times fast!

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Coming to seminary is intimidating.  In fact, probably better to say jarring.  You thought you knew some theology but now realize you don’t.  You thought you were called to the ministry but halfway through semester one you’re not so sure anymore. 

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When we read the gospel accounts of Christ’s ministry one of the regular features we encounter is Christ’s interaction with demons.

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Wednesday, 01 March 2017 23:00

Life Together: Built Up in Love

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Community can be an elusive thing. It is something that we all long for; something that nourishes us in deep places; yet not something that is guaranteed. Graduate school can be especially challenging for forming community.

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I was in college when I ran across a rep from a credit card company. Money lenders are shrewd. They know that college students don’t always have the money they want or need, and so getting a young financially inexperienced college student to sign on the bottom line is a relatively easy thing...

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Wednesday, 22 February 2017 22:50

Life Together: Creating Lasting Bonds

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The relationships students have with one another are very personal, and due to the small student-body size the campus has sort of a communal feeling to it. It makes learning more enjoyable, and also provides support when one is struggling, whether academically or personally.

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I can remember as a child that my parents had a trash compactor in the kitchen. To me, it was a neat machine. We could stuff all manner of trash into the can, close the door, hit the button, and then listen to the compactor crush and squeeze the trash into a nice package.

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One can imagine how much comfort and relief I felt when I realized that not only did the professors want to take the time to explain to me the concepts and ideas they were teaching, but that the faculty also took an interest in not just my academic growth but my personal and spiritual development.

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We definitely live in a time when people enjoy many creature comforts. I suppose it’s because I’m quickly aging, but I can remember a time when new cars were not automatically equipped with air conditioning.

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Sitting in the student lounge unseen I watched through the window as two men approached each other. One a retired cop the other once a drug dealer; both faces alight with excitement. They heartily greet each other and turn to walk together toward the library. I am encouraged knowing both these men.

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A pet peeve of mine is when ministers stand in the pulpit and read the Bible and do so with no inflection. It sounds like the pastor is reading entries in a dictionary . . .

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Here at Westminster Seminary California, fellowship takes many forms. There are lunch dates, dinner parties, movie nights, beach outings, coffee houses and more. But my favorite, as you can guess, is fireside chats.

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I can remember sitting in church as a young teenager as my pastor posed a question about the possible links between demon possession and mental illness.

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