Category Archives: Reflections

Principled Cooperation

“One danger to our unity and our coalitions may be the tendency to think in pragmatic rather than principled terms about our cooperation. I need to be principled.”

I wrote that a little while back, reflecting on a number of important developments in the Evangelical world at the time.  I’ve noodled on that thought off and on over the months.  I’m still baking some thoughts, but here’s what’s rising thus far.  This is not a well-rounded doctrine of cooperation/separation.  I’m simply saying, “These are the kinds of people I want to cooperate with.”  Much more could be said in a fully developed biblical position on cooperation.  But for now, here are my five principles for cooperation:

The Absolute Centrality, Necessity, and Supremacy of Jesus Christ and Him Crucified, Buried, Resurrected, Reigning and Coming for His Eternally Elected, Saved, Sanctified, and Glorified People.

We’re simply speaking of the Gospel here.  It’s absolute because there is zero cooperation with those who intentionally deny, distort, or denigrate this message.  Central because nothing else has sufficient convening power to hold us together.  Necessary because without it we are not a people and haven’t the resources for maintaining any unity.  Supreme because all of life must be lived under this over-arching narrative, beneath the sovereign hand of this Lord, and with the hope of being His forever.  In this short life I have–already shortened by more than four decades of living–I want to invest with people and groups who hold the message of our Savior more dear than …

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11 Things I’m Thinking in the Wake of Recent Events

In the immediate aftermath of ER2, a wise older brother counseled me to avoid the inevitable flurry of blog activity for at least a week.  That was really wise advice and I’ve taken a tad bit longer because I’m a tad bit slower than most.  One benefit of the advice given was that it allowed a lot of the early reactions (pro and con) to come and go.  That was useful simply for getting some perspective and not getting caught up in heat rather than light.  As time wore on, more light began to shine through as godly people on both “sides” of the issue joined in with helpful thoughts.  I’ve particularly appreciated the balanced and insightful piece Carson and Keller offered late last week.  If you haven’t read it, you should.  And if you have read it, you’ll probably want to read it slowly a few times.  I certainly did.

Reading and re-reading Carson and Keller, as well as a number of other post-game reports, left me with a few reflections, for what it’s worth.

1.  Nothing has changed with Jakes.  I won’t belabor this point because Carson and Keller’s piece covers that quite well, as does a couple other posts around the blogosphere.  Jakes’ comments on the Trinity were essentially the same comments he’s been making for the last 10-15 years.  He says he has moved and the Scripture prompted him to do so.  Comparing his statements in 2000 and 2012, it’s difficult to see that he’s moved at all unless …

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Spiritual Depression, 2

I had forgotten one of the reasons I love Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ preaching–his straight-forward, systematic, logical statement of things.  Lloyd-Jones marches through an argument, assembling texts and data the way you’d expect a physician to assemble test results in forming a diagnosis and treatment.  In fact, Dr. Lloyd-Jones described his own preaching in much the same way:

I started with the man whom I wanted to listen, the patient. It was a medical approach really–here is a patient, a person in trouble, an ignorant man who has been to quacks, and so I deal with all that in the introduction. I wanted to get the listener and then come to my exposition. [Typical Welsh preachers] started with their exposition and ended with a bit of application.  (see Ian Murray’s, D. Martin Lloyd-Jones: The First Forty Years, pp. 146-147)

So, we should not be surprised that the opening two chapters in Lloyd-Jones’ great work, Spiritual Depression, begin with the clinician’s approach.  Chapter 1, “General Consideration,” gives us a basic overview spiritual depression.  Using Psalm 42:5, 11 as his text, Lloyd-Jones provides two reasons for the importance of the topic: (1) “for the sake of those who are in this condition, in order that they may be delivered from unhappiness, this disquiet, this lack of ease, this tension, this troubled state…” and (2) “for the sake of the Kingdom of God and the glory of God” (p. 11).  Here we see the preacher’s dual focus–help the people and advance the kingdom of …

Also posted in books, depression, Martin Lloyd-Jones, sanctification, Spiritual Growth | | 2 Comments

Some Reflections on the Ligonier Conference

I’m thankful for the Ligonier webcast of the conference happening right now in Florida. I’m thankful for the opportunity to watch, listen and learn from some of the best apologetic, preaching, and theological minds in our day.

I’ve not been able to catch all the sessions, but what I have seen has been thought provoking. Just a couple of reflections so far, both from Piper’s sessions.

First, the Thursday evening talk on apologetics struck me again with the necessity of loving Jesus for who He is. Piper’s task was to define faith. And in his characteristic way, he went beyond typical definitions and analogies to underscore the indispensable place of affections for and highest valuation/esteem for Christ. Piper questioned whether a person really had faith if they had not received Christ, that is come to prize Christ above all things and for who He is instead of “receiving” Christ as an effective solution to fear, comfort, safety, escape from hell, etc.

Pastorally, I’ve often wondered about individuals who “confess” Christ but seem to have no genuine affections for Him. The number of people who say “I believe in him” as though assent were all there was to following Christ, and at the same time say or demonstrate that their affections reside elsewhere, is really quite concerning to me. It’s as though the gospel nestles in the ear or in the mind but doesn’t worm its way into the core, the heart, of the person.

And I was reminded of how many times I’ve …

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Reflections on the Recent Trip to Southeast Asia

Well, I’m trying to get back in stride here at the church and with life in Cayman. It’s been a great couple of days back. I returned to the same loving family and congregation that sent me off nearly ten days ago. It’s wonderful to return to such love and care.

I also returned in time to see a precious young couple from our church leave for a life of overseas service in the Gospel. We had their ordination service the Sunday we left for southeast Asia. And yesterday, we met them at the airport for a time of prayer and send-off. The young man look at me and said, “I feel like we’re tag-team wrestling for the Gospel as you’re returning and we’re leaving.” I love the image… tagging one another, taking turns combatting darkness with the light of the Gospel. And it’s such a tremendously humbling, encouraging, faith-building, worthy, sad and joyous thing to see men and women give their lives for the Gospel in so committed a fashion. What a privilege.

The 10 days or so in southeast Asia were packed! The first night there was the night of the Christian-Muslim dialogue. We were discussing the question “Who Is Jesus Christ? In Light of the Bible and the Qu’ran”. This is a topic that the muslims insisted on… and so we happily obliged! As far as the folks there are aware, this is the first time that this question has been openly discussed in a public forum by …

Also posted in Gospel, missions, Southeast Asia | | 3 Comments

A Reflection for the New Year

2007 is here! The New Year’s Eve parties are all held, the ball has dropped, the fireworks are all exploded, confetti is being swept away, the parades are over, and minds are slowly turning to the reality of work tomorrow.

Awww maannnn!

Like most people, this has been a reflective time for me. It’s natural… between the year now sunk into eternity past and the year that lays ahead should Jesus tarry (come, Lord Jesus!)… to speculate about, plan for, and pray over the year ahead. Thanks to having to prepare a sermon for New Year’s Eve, I’ve done less of than than normal, but I’ve done some.

What about you? What are your hopes, plans, and prayers for 2007? Please share. And I encourage all who read this post and any comments to pray for what others share.

My main reflection is summed up by Ligon Duncan’s opening response to the opening question on the opening panel of 2006’s T4G Conference. The question was, “What are you doing with your life and why?” Okay, a great question right. Lig’ responded:

“When people ask me what my job is, I tell them that it is to minister to the people of God by preaching the Gospel. I:

    preach the word;
    love the people;
    pray down heaven;
    promote family religion; and
    train the elders of the church.

Underneath all that, I’m called to live a godly life.”

Lig’ shared this without batting an eye. I think it’s in …

Also posted in pastoral ministry, quotes | | 2 Comments


With time and space, reflection often deepens and grows. The clearer air of separation, and to some extent solitude, often produce a more robust gratitude.

As Christmas approaches, I’m reminded of the distance in both time and space traveled over the past year. And I’m growing more reflective, which is mostly good.

Good ReflectionsPreparing to preach Genesis 1 and 2 this Sunday, Lord willing, I was prompted to take a peek at Mark Dever’s The Message of the Old Testament. As I leafed through its pages, flashes of memory came and went. I could remember hearing this sermon or that point. But most of all, gratitude to God for allowing me the privilege of being a part (as hearer) of so momentous a work and such a wonderful fellowship filled my heart. When I was there, these were just a collection of great Sunday morning sermons, the fare to which we were treated and spoiled each Sunday morning, whether it was Mark or Michael or a guest preacher. With time and space, I recognize in these sermons a much greater treasure for the Church and I’m thankful to God for what He has done in and with them.

Time and space and reflection have made me more appreciative of my family and friends back in the states. Separated by an ocean and a plane ride (which really aren’t that great a barrier in our day), I’m reminded that seeing them isn’t as easy as …

Also posted in Gratitude, Thankfulness | | 2 Comments