Columns

Following Elijah’s stunning victory over the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18, he turns his attention to drought that continued to linger over the land. Back in 1 Kings 17, Elijah had announced a drought on the land because of the apostasy of the people. They had backed into Baalism and paganism. And their failure to remain faithful to the Lord carried the judgment of God removing his word from the people, signified by the lack of rain or dew. This was also a polemic against Baal, the storm god. The Baal cycle would be broken and the LORD would show himself to be God.

"With which person in the Bible do you most identify?" This is a question I have often asked others in the church over the years. Most of us lack even enough self-awareness to able to answer the question. Others among us have a propensity to appeal to the best characters in Scripture.

The Shocking Case of the Hungarian Galley Slaves – A 17th-century Tale of Religious Persecution

            One of the worst examples of religious persecution in European history happened in the decade between 1671 and 1681, when the Hungarian Roman Catholic authorities determined to eradicate Protestantism from their country.

I get to talk with pastors all the time.  It’s one of the joys and privileges of the work God has given me to do.  I’ve also served as a pastor for ten years – less than many of my brothers, but long enough to experience some of the ups and downs of ministry.
 
One of the biggest challenges that pastors and anyone engaged in Christian work faces is remembering the spiritual nature of the work.  If the measurables – budgets, attendance figures, projects – seem to be headed in the right direction, those tend to be our focus, to the exclusion of spiritual matters.

Christians have always been persecuted.  Peter reminded his readers of this in the earliest days of the church: “…knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by the brotherhood throughout the world” (1 Peter 5:9b).  But it does seem as if the suffering of Christians – whether at the hands of Muslims, Hindus, or totalitarians of another stripe – has been in the news more lately.  The testimonies of our brothers and sisters in these places are sobering; but often they are also encouraging examples of grace-fueled perseverance.

The day of Christ’s return will be the day he will ‘judge the living and the dead’. Christians have confessed this in the words of the Apostles’ Creed for centuries; but, as so often is the case, we can rehearse these words without feeling their weight. More than that, it can be all too easy for those who are already Christians to so gravitate towards the blessing of that day for ourselves, that we do not stop to consider and shudder at what it will mean for those who are outside of Christ.

Like nearly all the Christian Festivals (however many or few our particular churches may celebrate) the events marked by Easter can easily loom large on our horizons momentarily, only to be forgotten until the following year. If we allow ourselves to lapse into this pattern we can easily lose sight of the year-round, lifelong and eternal significance of what is marked by these seasons in the church calendar – all of which chart the redemptive work of our Lord. Indeed, with Easter especially, the institution of the Christian Sabbath and the Lord’s Supper forbid us from doing so.

I love to see families walking through the doors of the auditorium on Lord's Day morning.  I see each of them as a living stone coming together to form a living temple in order to worship the living God.  They were once like the dry bones of Ezekiel's vision scattered about in the valley of the shadow of death.  But now, by God's sovereign grace, they have spiritual muscle, saintly sinew, and a renewed and healthy heart beats within each breast.  These belong to Christ and they are glorious to behold.

A few weeks ago the session on which I serve was interviewing some young teenage girls for communicant membership in the church.  When a child in the congregation I serve approaches me about making their profession of faith before the session I ask them two questions.  First, I ask to hear their testimony, which usually goes something like this, “Growing up in a Christian home I’ve always believed in Jesus.”  Now, that’s good but it tells you more about a child’s upbringing than it does about what they actually believe.  So, my follow up question is, “What w

How Then Shall We Feel?

In the house today is Dr. Keith Plummer. He’s a professor of a variety of topics related to pastoral ministry, apologetics, and spiritual formation at Cairn University. The topic of our conversation is the place that feelings or emotions have in the life of a Christian. How are our feelings to be shaped? Can emotional responses be right or wrong? If so, can they be directed? Keep listening for the answers.

 

Grace Worth Fighting For

To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the Canons of Dort, Daniel Hyde has written Grace Worth Fighting For: Recapturing the Vision of God’s Grace in the Canons of Dort. Hyde’s work is a reminder for us to protect and proclaim the Gospel of grace.

Article 37 introduces the final topic of the 39 Articles, the relationship between the Christian and the commonwealth. It is customary for North Americans to dismiss these articles as being very specific to England, but the same principle we have observed throughout our study continues here: the faithfulness of the Anglican articles to the principle of sola scriptura.