Posts by Nick Batzig

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"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. I've never...
The Song of Songs has been subjected to more interpretative attempts than almost any other book in the Old Testament. There are numerous reasons for the widespread disagreement about the Song: the poetic nature, the symbolic language, the interaction of the multiplicity of characters, the sexual...
I have, for the first time, finally read through David Brainerd's Diary . I'm not sure why it took me this long to get around to it. I now understand why this man, who lived such a short life, has had such an enormous impact on the church and the world of missions. Consider a few of the...
We live in a day of comfort. Every new product boasts a greater measure of ease than that which preceded it. Our public discourse insists that the highest form of virtue is that we do not make others feel uncomfortable about their beliefs or lifestyles. Then we read the Bible and, in many places,...
When I was fourteen, I picked up a guitar and taught myself to play. I functionally sacrificed my high school education on the altar of seeking to impress girls with my supposed singing/songwriting abilities. I took a guitar to just about every party or gathering to which I went. I could tune it by...
God's word is so rich and full, we will never be able to exhaust its wisdom, instruction, correction, comfort, encouragement and restorative power in this life. There is much in Scripture that we will never experientially appropriate into our lives until God has placed us in a particularly...
"You scratch my back; I'll scratch yours." This familiar idiomatic phrase sometimes simply refers to the way in which people with differing skills and abilities seek to care for one another out of a sense of need and gratitude. However, more often than not, it represents the way in...
Many Christians profess to believe in the sovereignty of God. They will speak of God's sovereignty in the salvation and damnation of sinners. They may even remind others that God is sovereign over the trials and challenging circumstances of life...
In recent years, a number of Reformed theologians have introduced the phrase ordinary means of grace to a forthcoming generation of ministers. The incorporation of this phase into the vocabulary of the church has been quite easily observable--especially in serious-minded Confessionally Reformed...
Every week, important church related matters come streaming into the inbox of my email account. Many of those matters also make their way into the inboxes of our elders. On many occasions, one of our ruling elders (i.e. a lay elder who was elected by the congregation to volunteer his time in the...
I was baptized in the Reformed Episcopal church. I grew up in Reformed and Presbyterian churches. My father diligently taught my sister and I the distinctives of a Reformed covenant theology from our earliest days. He repeatedly reminded us that God had promised to be a covenant God to us and to...
Did Jesus perform miracles, cast out demons and prophesy by the working of his divine nature or by the power of the Holy Spirit? The answer to this question might surprise many in modern Evangelical and Reformed circles. For years, I responded to that question by saying something like, "Of...
I have several friends who share the same anecdote with me over and over again. Sometimes, I lovingly remind them that they have already told me whatever it is they've shared ten times. Sometimes I just listen to them so as not to take away the joy they seem to be experiencing when conveying...
Among the many grievous situations in which a believer may find himself or herself, having a spouse who is either unbelieving or unwilling to join a biblical church can be one of the most burdensome. The Scriptures teach us the importance of belonging to a local congregation, being under the...
On the night he was betrayed, Jesus set before his disciples three symbolic acts that pointed forward to what he would accomplish on the cross. First, there was the Passover/Lord's Supper; second, there was the foot washing in the Upper Room; and, third, there was the cup in the Garden. In all...
When God gives us children, He entrusts to our care little eternal beings. Each one of them will spend eternity in either heaven or in hell. There is an unparalleled sobriety that rightly accompanies such delegated responsibility. We often fail to properly prioritize our responsibilities. Our jobs...
When the Lord first redeemed me, I had a little bookshelf in my room with about 20 theological works on it. I carried around those 20 or so books throughout all the years of my rebellion. My parents had given them to me--hoping that I would read them--long before I was converted. After I was...
This past Sunday evening, a young woman in our congregation asked if I knew of a book or sermon series to help her work through portions of the book of Job. She was, like any who have spent time studying Job--especially chapters 3-37--wrestling with how to understand the many difficult things said...
It should sadden us to learn that the church of our day has neglected one of the greatest treasures God has given her to worship Him--namely, the Psalter. The living God has breathed out an entire book of truth for us to sing back to Him whenever we gather together in corporate worship. Perhaps...
Too often, ministers foolishly embrace the ecclesiastical advice of those who know absolutely nothing about the specific arrangement of the local church they pastor. A pastor is animated by an article in which today's latest "church expert" insists that he or she has the corner on...
A number of years ago, I concluded that it is officially an American tradition to have stressful interactions with parents, in-laws, grandparents, siblings, uncles, aunts and cousins on Thanksgiving Day. I have experienced some extremely relationally tense times with family members on Thanksgiving...
In that first great prophecy of biblical revelation, God promised to send a Redeemer who would crush the head of the serpent (Gen. 3:15). In keeping with the fulfillment of this promise, Jesus faced off--at the beginning of his public ministry--with the devil in the wilderness (Luke 4:1-13). After...
In doctrinally serious churches, welcoming the children of believers to the Lord's Supper is one of the most important elements of the life of the church; it is also one of the most difficult and widely debated matters. On one side of the debate are those who believe that our children should be...
One of the downsides of living in the technological age is that we are constantly overwhelmed with what we allow to stream into our minds and hearts from our newsfeeds, social media debates, conversations about world affairs, social agendas, personal opinions and every sort of religious and...
We live in what has to be the most frenetic society in all of human history. It seems as though things are just getting faster and faster, and the pressure to fill our schedules with non-essential activities is becoming more and more demanding. The impact of such a dynamic is not easy to measure;...
A number of years ago, Sinclair Ferguson made the observation that "the Puritan movement of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries...underlines for us the significance of spiritual brotherhood in the movements of the Holy Spirit." The more we study the writings of the great pastors/...
Augustine once said, “God has promised forgiveness to the repentant, but He has not promised tomorrow to those who delay repentance.” This is a sobering truth--a much needed reminder that we are called to repent of our sin as soon as God has convicted us of it. It is also a sobering...
Athanasius once made the following statement about the book of Psalms: "While the entire Holy Scripture is a teacher of virtues and of the truths of faith, the book of Psalms possesses somehow the perfect image for the soul’s course of life." The Psalter has a unique place in Old...
In his outstanding series of talks to young men preparing for ministry , Charles Spurgeon cited a theologian who famously said, "Study yourself to death and then pray yourself alive again." One can take this sentiment, reshape and reform it into a dozen others, in order to encourage young...
Criticism is far and away one of the most difficult features of life in this fallen world. Two things in particular complicate the practice of giving and receiving criticism . Pride revolts when others point out areas of our lives in which change may be needed; and, many who raise criticisms are...
At The Masters last weekend, I thought about a lesson that I learned in watching professional golfers play over the years. A number of years ago, I saw Tiger Woods play the second hole at the Augusta National. The particular hole has a strong dogleg. Tiger had laid a shot up in the woods (no pun...
"When you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward" (Matt. 6:5). These are some of the most sobering words ever spoken by...
My family moved to St. Simons Island, GA in 1989. I was 12 years old. One of the first things that I distinctly remember about that beautiful, little secluded Island was the fact that we could walk into a store, write our name on a ledger and walk out with just about whatever we wanted in the store...
Preaching at someone's funeral is one of the most difficult aspects of pastoral ministry. It is all the more difficult when it is the funeral service of a loved one or a beloved member of the church. However, the most challenging of all is preaching the funeral of someone who was almost...
Sir Isaac Newton, borrowing a phrase from Bernard of Chartres, once noted, "If I have seen farther, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” This maxim holds just as true in the realm of theology as it does in the sphere of scientific investigation...
I've been a member of churches that have had an Inquirer's/New Member class and a member of churches that haven't. The most comprehensive Inquirer's class that I attended was at Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia. When I left Tenth to plant New Covenant , I started one within...
Nothing serves to strengthen our faith so much as seeing the various patterns which God has woven into the pages of Scriptures in order to form a beautiful tapastry of His redeeming grace in Christ. It is not uncommon for theologians to refer to the meta-narrative, or the story of Scripture, as...
Everyone loves a sunny day; and, everyone hates a cloudy day, right? After all, we have a singular medical classification for the negative effects of cloudy days on the human psyche. We tend to speak of the beauty of any given day in relation to how much of the sun and sky we are able to see...
Samuel Miller was the second professor at the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church in Princeton, NJ--what is now Princeton Theological Seminary. He was one of the most prolific and able of 19th Century Reformed theologians .
The local church that I have been called to pastor consists largely of young military families with small children and recent empty-nesters/early retirees. This dynamic makes for both constant turnover as well as high travel frequency during the year. At times, our church feels a little less like a...
No one likes change. Change frequently becomes a platform for anxiety in an individual's life. We all like routine. Knowing what to expect makes us feel safe and offers us the comfort of seeming stability. Yet, change is inevitable. We are changing creatures in a changing world. Things are...
There are certain sins that we tend to tolerate in our own hearts and lives, as well as in the church. They are what Jerry Bridges has called " respectable sins "--gossip, slander, envy, covetousness, pride, etc. We like to single out what we deem to be other, more pronounced sins in...
When we think of Jesus, we dont tend to think of Him as One who had many possessions. After all, the Scriptures are clear that "though He was rich, yet for our sakes, He became poor that we through His poverity might become rich" (2 Cor. 8:9). At His own admission, we know that the Savior...
One of the more difficult questions to settle--both from a biblical and historico-theological perspective--is that which concerns how we are to view the children of baptized, professing believers. On one hand, we can be quite sure that the children of professing believers are, no less than the...
If there is one area in which young Reformed men preparing for seminary have generally failed to give adequate attention it is to the writings of that period of church history from the Apostles to the Reformation. There are obvious reasons for this. One such reason is that we live on this side of...
A few months ago, I had the privilege of meeting with a young couple in our congregation in order to choose vows for their wedding. We decided to look at some historic Protestant marriage vows.
One of the great matters that ought to be on the forefront of every believing mind is that which concerns the nature and evidence of a true church. The Reformed Confessions spoke to this issue, as it was pressing for the Reformers and Puritans to do so in light of Roman Catholic perversions of the...
I was always better at sprinting than running long distance--back in the days when I actually ran...in high shcool. My wife, by way of contrast, was and is a marathon runner. One of the things that I've noticed as I have watched her run over the years is that she knows how to pace herself. I...
Prior to and throughout my time of preparation for ministry, I had a burning desire to preach the Gospel. By that, I mean that I had a burning desire to preach the Gospel in the context of the gathered assembly in worship on the Lord's Day. Since I had not yet had adequate theological and...
In 1892, John D. Wells delivered three lectures at Princeton Theological Seminary that were transcribed and subsequently published in a little booklet titled, The Pastor in the Sickroom . This book is one of those unique little volumes that every man preparing for ministry should read. It is also...