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

Monday, 02 December 2019 18:02

Book Briefs

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It has been a long time since I’ve done a Book Briefs blog, and I have a backlog of books to mention. Stay tuned in the next week or so for my Best Books of 2019.

For today, here are more than a dozen books I’ve read (somewhat) recently in several different categories.

Church History

I...

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Monday, 25 November 2019 17:31

Can We Give Thanks for Flawed Heroes?

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Christians need heroes.

Yes, I know, Jesus is the ultimate hero. He is the only flawless hero, the only substitute-for-our-sins hero, the only dying and rising hero. But that doesn’t mean Jesus is the only kind of hero.

As Christians, we are right to be inspired by faithful brothers and...

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Wednesday, 13 November 2019 18:00

Theological Primer: Impeccability

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From time to time I make new entries into this continuing series called “Theological Primer.” The idea is to present big theological concepts in around 500 words (or sometimes, 1,000 words). Today we will look at the doctrine of Christ’s impeccability.

The doctrine of impeccability...

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Tuesday, 29 October 2019 19:00

Five Questions about Faith and Works

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The rediscovery of the doctrine of justification is one of the most important legacies of the Reformation. From Luther to Calvin to later confessional divines, classic Protestants have always insisted that God justifies sinners “not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their...

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Monday, 21 October 2019 19:00

Reflections from a Lifetime in Ministry

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One of the joys of serving at Christ Covenant is laboring beside Bernie Lawrence, our Senior Associate Pastor. Bernie has been serving in various ways at the church since before I was born (as I like to remind him!) and for the last 30 years as a staff member at Christ Covenant. Bernie will be...

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Wednesday, 09 October 2019 03:45

Luke: Evangelist to the Rich

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I can’t find where (or if) G. K. Chesterton really said it, but I’ve seen it attributed to Chesterton often, and it sure does sound like him:

It may be possible to have a good debate over whether or not Jesus believed in fairies. It is a tantalizing question. Alas, it is impossible to...

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Tuesday, 24 September 2019 19:00

Making Evangelical History

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History is more complicated than you might think.

For many people, history is simply an account of what happened in the past. And while history as an academic discipline certainly includes a record of past events, names, dates, and places, history is never as simple as a naked recollection of facts....

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Kyle Harper’s From Shame to Sin: The Christian Transformation of Sexual Morality in Late Antiquity(Harvard, 2013)is an impressively learned and important book. Still a youngish man (which means younger than me), Harper is already a professor of classics and letters and senior vice...

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Sunday, 25 August 2019 18:43

Should Women Preach in Our Churches?

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This is not an article about the case for complementarianism instead of egalitarianism. That matters, of course, but this piece is for self-identified complementarians wondering if their theology can allow, or shouldallow, for women preaching.

Here is the question I want to address:

Is there...

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Monday, 12 August 2019 01:47

One Question Every Church Planter Should Ask

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There are, of course, hundreds of good questions to ask before planting a church. But there is one that is too often and too easily forgotten.

It’s a question that should be asked by every church plant team, every church planter, every sending agency, and every mother church before plans are...

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Monday, 05 August 2019 03:44

What I Did on My Summer Vacation

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I know, long time no blog.

My last blog post was in the middle of June, and since then I spent a week teaching in the UK, spent another week in Dallas at the PCA General Assembly, traveled to Michigan for a week’s vacation, and then spent the rest of the July on study leave. Besides enjoying a...

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Monday, 17 June 2019 18:45

Preaching Resources: A Summer Reading List

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As I’ve been preparing to take time off this summer for study and rest, I reached out to some of my friends and colleagues from TGC for advice on books to read on the topic of preaching. I specifically wanted books to help me improve as a preacher—not necessarily how-to books for the...

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Wednesday, 12 June 2019 18:33

Distinguishing Marks of a Quarrelsome Person

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Quarrels don’t just happen. People make them happen.

Of course, there are honest disagreements and agree-to-disagree propositions, but that’s not what the Bible means by quarreling. Quarrels, at least in Proverbs, are unnecessary arguments, the kind that honorable men stay away from...

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Saturday, 08 June 2019 00:07

Remembering David Powlison

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He was a prince of a man.

That’s what I keep telling people. It’s customary to say laudatory things about a person upon his death, whether there was all the much to laud or not. With David Powlison there is plenty to come. Other tributes have come in, and I’m sure there are many...

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Monday, 03 June 2019 19:00

Book Briefs

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Lots of books to catch up on. Here’s some of what I’ve been reading in the last couple months.

Matthew Barrett, None Greater: The Undomesticated Attributes of God (Baker Books, 2019). Barrett continues to crank out excellent theological material. This latest offering provides a classic...

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On November 13, 2018, the Central Carolina Presbytery (PCA) formed an Ad-Interim Study Committee “to explore the 2018 Revoice Conference and to report its findings to Central Carolina Presbytery and recommend any action that the Presbytery might take.” In keeping with the...

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Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, was instituted to honor Union soldiers who died in the Civil War. After World War I, the purpose of the day was expanded to include all men and women who died in U.S. military service. Today, Memorial Day is often thought of as the unofficial start of...

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Monday, 20 May 2019 19:00

Cautious about Causation

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In the social sciences, one learns quickly (or is supposed to learn) that correlation does not equal causation.

I remember learning in driver’s training the scary statistic that most accidents happen within a few miles from home. The takeaway for us young drivers was obvious: people are...

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Monday, 13 May 2019 18:33

Were the First Christians Socialists?

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No.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let me offer an important caveat. In arguing that the first Christians were not socialist (or communist for that matter), I am not supposing that they championed an early version of Hayek’s economic views and would have formed the first Cato...

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Monday, 29 April 2019 19:08

The Canons of Dort and the Gift of Faith

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This year is the 400th anniversary of the Synod of Dort. In fact, last Monday marked the exact date, 400 years ago, that the canons were officially approved. If you want to know more about the history and theology of Dort, I have a new book entitled Grace Defined and Defended: What a 400-Year-Old...

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Monday, 15 April 2019 19:35

Salvation by Propitiation

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There are many biblical ways to describe Christian salvation.

Salvation can be understood ritually as a sacrifice, as the expiation of guilt through the death of Christ on the cross.

Salvation can be understood commercially as redemption, as a payment made through the blood of Christ for the debt we...

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Tuesday, 09 April 2019 19:15

When Churches Can’t Do Everything

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I’ve never met a pastor who enjoys telling people no. I suppose such ministerial creatures exist, but all the pastors I know (myself included) find it much easier to say “Yes, that’s a great idea!” or “Yes, we can do that!” as opposed to “Sorry,...

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Monday, 25 March 2019 19:07

Book Briefs

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Some long plane flights over the past couple months, which means a longer list of books. I’ll stick with the popular level books for today and save the academic books for later.

Andy Crouch, The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in Its Proper Place (Baker Books, 2017). I...

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I first purchased The Valley of Vision from my church’s book table while I was in seminary. I’ll never forget laying in my bed and praying these beautiful prayers as my own. It was a deeply spiritual experience, in the best sense of that phrase. Since that night in my dorm room at...

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Monday, 11 March 2019 18:12

We Are Supposed to Feel Bad About Stuff

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Our world is seriously confused about shame.

Strike that, the church is seriously confused about shame. We’ve made Jesus into a Rogerian therapist, the Bible into a book of self-actualizing pablum, and the gospel into a perpetual reminder that, hey, you’re awesome! The only shame left is...

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