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Five Reasons You Should Pray for the Government

Many at this stage in the election cycle are cynical of the motivations of our elected leaders. Some may despair of finding effective (let alone godly) government. Yet, here are five reasons why you should pray for the government. 1. We should pray for everyone. Given that our leaders share our common humanity, and given that Jesus urges us to even pray for our persecutors (Matthew 5.44), praying for our leaders reminds us that they need it. Leadership is a tough job. And our leaders are people like us doing a difficult job. They require prayer. Plus Paul tells us to pray for ‘everyone’ (1 Timothy 2.1), and that even includes whichever politician it is that most infuriates you. 2. We should pray specifically for ‘those in authority’ (1 Timothy 2.2). Sometimes we may be tempted to pray less, or not at all, for those whose authority we deem to be illegitimate, or who in some way...

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Good Habits for Theological Thinking

Keith Johnson is Assistant Professor of Theology at Wheaton College and a member of College Church. He is the author of the forthcoming book Thinking After God: The Method and Practice of Theology (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press). I am glad to have Keith guest blog for me today on the subject of theological thinking. Theology is the task of figuring out what must be true about God, creation and humanity in light of everything Scripture says about them. Here are two habits we can seek to develop that will help us perform this task more faithfully. First, we can be intentional about cultivating our love for God and others. The goal of theological thinking is not merely to acquire and organize information about God, but to know God as he is. The Bible connects this kind of knowledge with the act of love, because God is love (1 John 4:7-8). If we want to think theologically in a manner that...

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Advice for Collegians

Greg Hendrickson is the pastor for staff coordination, member integration and college ministry at Trinity Baptist Church in New Haven near Yale University. I’ve known Greg for many years and delight to introduce him to you with this excellent piece on being a student in a secular university setting: When I left home to be a freshman at Yale in 1999, my dad urged me to delve into the book of Daniel. After four years in college and eight years as a campus minister in the Northeast, I am still struck by the parallels between the challenges and opportunities that Daniel faced in Babylon and those of a Christian student at a secular university. Daniel was suddenly transplanted from his “Bible belt” home in Jerusalem (which, despite its reputation, had become quite compromised spiritually) to the pagan capital of Babylon. He was enrolled in a three year training course along with other elite students...

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Sink, Splutter or Swim – Student Survival 2012

I am pleased to have Dave Gobbett guest blog for me today. Dave is the associate pastor with responsibility for students at Eden Baptist Church, Cambridge, in England. Sink, splutter or swim? The opening weeks at university can be a challenge of Olympic proportions. And while three or four years on everyone can see the difference between a now thriving spiritual Michael Phelps and a barely surviving spiritual also-swam, back on day one, everyone looked the same. Same bright eyes full of opportunity, same anxious anticipation at the prospect of leaving home, same exhilaration at being let loose in a kitchen for the first time. For the Christian student, additional early emotions await. Excitement: how might God use me this year to be salt and light for him at college? Nervousness: how will my faith survive the belligerent attacks from lecturer or roommate? Realism: how will I resist the varying temptations in...

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The Gospel in Contexts

“What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Tertullian’s famous question has remained relevant through the years as the church has grappled with how to respond to the pagan academy. As someone who has spent most of his life in “Athens” (most recently near Yale University), I now find myself in a sort of “Jerusalem.” Four years ago, I moved to a “Jerusalem,” a culturally Christian environment (across the street from Wheaton College). That journey has afforded me the opportunity to compare the experience of communicating the gospel in two distinct contexts. Continue reading article at Leadership Journal....

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Simeon in the USA

The following article was written for Evangelicals Now and published in their news publication for June 2012. A group of pastors gathered in Wheaton, outside Chicago, in May for a three-day course on Bible exposition. Vaughan Roberts from Oxford and yours truly provided the instruction sessions and expositions for this course, but the real heart of this Simeon Trust workshop is the small group ministry that takes place. Dave Helm, head of the Simeon Trust in America, has provided a wonderful set of material and a framework which serves many pastors up and down the country to encourage them to preach the word faithfully. We are called to ‘Stay on the Line’, that is say neither more nor less than what the Bible text says. To that end we are to discover the ‘Melodic Line’ of a book, and passage, its overarching theme, and the main point that binds the whole message together. We can do this...

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A Relationship with Jesus

What does it mean to “have a relationship with Jesus”? And how do you develop it? Christians often talk about having a relationship with Jesus, but it is not always clear what exactly that means. The passage we are looking at on Sunday, John 15:1-8, is a key passage for establishing the nature of that relationship with Jesus, as well as showing us how to develop it. To prepare for Sunday you might ask yourself questions like these: How is my relationship with God? How can I develop my relationship with God? Is there someone I know who is interested in having a relationship with God that I could invite to church? And you might like to read through John 15 in preparation for Sunday asking these kind of questions of the passage: What does Jesus mean by being the true vine? What does it mean to remain or abide in him? What is the worldview picture of reality that he is...

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Work at the Crossroads

The story is told of Charles Spurgeon visiting a family.  There was in that household a domestic servant – paid salary – who had recently been converted.  As a faithful pastor, Spurgeon began to enquire as to the girl’s spiritual state.  What reason did she have to be confident that she had not only professed a nominal faith in Jesus, but she was truly now born again?  “Well,” the reply is said to have come, “now I clean under the rugs.” Christian life is for the whole of life! Perhaps few principles are less frequently articulated, and more in need of being communicated, than that Christ is all in all, and that the freeing rule of Jesus applies equally to the world of work.  Consider: most people in most churches spend most of their time not in a worship service.  Consider: how much of what we teach during a worship service actually...

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Suffering Revisited

Suffering is hateful. Bloody. Nasty. Indiscriminate. Horrible. Just ask Job if you don’t believe me. For all the books out there on suffering — and there are many — it is a topic that will not go away because the easy answers do not work. Typical evangelical answers to suffering fall into two categories. First, there is the empathy category. In this approach our goal is not to provide an answer but to provide a shoulder. We ‘come alongside’. We listen. We mourn with those who mourn, etc. The other category, though, is the answer category. Here, perhaps not at the moment of suffering, answers of various kinds are attempted. If you want an insight into just how difficult this topic is compare C.S. Lewis’s brilliant The Problem of Evil with his later (and more personal) A Grief Observed. The storms The reason why I am thinking about suffering, and revisiting its answer, is because of all the...

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Solid Foundation for Dynamic Fruit

I have just returned from the latest “Together for the Gospel” (T4G) conference in Louisville, Kentucky. We took about six or seven of our team down this year and used it as an opportunity to catch up with some ministry partners, listen to teaching, and spend time building connections within the team. The theme for this year’s conference was the “underestimated” gospel. I came away with the perspective that solid foundation leads to dynamic fruit. For those of us who love metaphors, you will know that that is a mixed metaphor: still, the principle that firm commitment to theological (sometimes unfashionable) truth is the way to see fruit was evident and much on display. Lane Dennis, President of Crossway, shared about the impact of their ministry with his remarkable example of winsome, godly, seasoned kindness. Mark Dever warned us compellingly of the dangers of an unregenerate membership. David Platt preached passionately – an overused word but in...

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