Remember Their Names

How can you help family members of public figures like pastors, politicians, entertainers, and other community leaders? They live life in a shadow that they did not choose, usually. Among many things that help, remember this: they want you to know their names.

When dad is a pastor, for instance, children are often met by people who are satisfied to merely know “Oh, you’re So-and-So’s son.” They see that you really don’t care about them; you only care to categorize them in your mental box.

Thus, family members of public figures can feel a bit like one Jupiter’s sixty-seven moons. People know they exist. They have names, but few know them. People only remember Jupiter. By contrast, God knows each of the celestial bodies by name; Psalm 147:4 says “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names.” If he knows inanimate heavenly bodies by name, we ought to be assured that he loves and cares for us that much more.

You can minister to family members of public figures by following God’s pattern: remember their names. Most are pretty happy to live in the orbit of their more luminous family member; but when you work to know […]


Satan’s Opportune Time…

It is worth observing that when Christ overcame the temptations of Satan in the wilderness, neither grumbling like Israel of old, nor capitulating like Adam, Luke adds these striking words, “Now when the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from Him until an opportune time.” (Luke 4:13)

The activity of Satan was not complete. He still lurked in the shadows, looking for opportunities to assail Christ.

It is not hard to imagine his influence in the heart of Judas, nor his stirring up hatred among the Pharisees. He was likewise certainly at work in the crowds sowing confusion and blindness. But while all that is true, we see a familiar device at play during the crucifixion. Consider the refrain of the rulers and soldiers and the criminal hanging alongside Jesus.

The first sneered, “He saved others, let Him save Himself if He is the Christ, the chosen of God.” (Luke 23:35). The second echoed this sentiment by saying, “If you are the King of the Jews, save Yourself.” (vs 36). Lastly, the criminal blasphemed, “If you are the Christ, save Yourself and us.” (vs 39)

We have heard similar words before.  From where do they arise?

Think back to the manner in which Satan […]


Browse Worthy: Being Dad

After a full summer schedule, we are enjoying family vacation before we head back into the busyness of fall. As I work this week on reconnecting with my children, these videos recently viewed provide good reminders of the importance of being Dad.

Though my children were perhaps not quite so persistent, it’s good to remember sweet scenes like this one when they were younger when you are with family.

Often Dad has to be there to save the day, as this compilation shows. Of course, many times what dads are saving their kids from is their own father’s antics, as this compilation also shows!

With all of the Olympic moments of glory witnessed these past few weeks, this emotional scene provided by Derek Redmond and his father from the 1992 games remind dads of the importance of being there during painful times.

The son below has a father suffering from Alzheimer’s, yet when the father sings it is like he is back for a few minutes. Watching the son’s joy as his dad croons gives me hope. Perhaps one day my children, who are pretty regularly asking me NOT to sing around the house, will change their ways (though my kids would quickly add that at […]


Don’t waste your suffering #3

Picture two avid sportsmen. Both Christians. Both sustain a career threatening injury. One is sorry that his playing days are over, he’ll miss game, it will be some time before he will even watch it on TV. The other is devastated, can’t see how God would allow this, and descends into a deep depression.

What makes the difference? Undoubtedly our psyches are different; some are phlegmatic taking life as it comes, others fiery and passionate. Looking at our previous two articles, the issue could be: Do they trust God enough with their future?

But I believe there is another factor that can make a difference, intensifying the suffering.

Suffering Waster #2: Idolatry – Looking too much at other things

Idolatry—it’s not a pleasant concept. Bold, stark, ugly. And perhaps you think, “Surely not amongst Christians”. If deficient trust is not looking enough at God, then idolatry is the problem of looking too much to other things.

It was the great Old Testament problem for the people of God, rippling through from Eden, to Sinai, to the Promised Land, to the exile, and John is still warning his readers at the end of the New Testament, “Dear children, keep yourselves from idols” (1 John 5:21).

It lies […]


Some thoughts on visiting Niagara Falls

This time last month our family had the privilege of visiting Niagara Falls and spending 24 hours looking at the cascading water from every possible angle, on both the Canadian and (American readers will be glad to hear!) the US side. I didn’t manage to post this last month, since we were caught up in the busyness of sightseeing (sorry, Barry!). So, belatedly, here are a few random thoughts that occurred to me while we were admiring this wonder of God’s world…

We went on the boat trip to the bottom of both waterfalls (you should definitely do this if you visit). As you sail into the horseshoe of the Canadian Falls you are flanked by these two towering walls of water (57 metres high) on either side and it doesn’t take a great deal of imagination to think yourself into the shoes of the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. If it is an awesome spectacle to be in the midst of all that water tumbling down naturally, what must it have been like to walk between the walls of water divided supernaturally by the hand of God?!

The sight of so much water thundering in a torrent started my mind running […]


With Love, Your Single Daughter

The following post is a guest article written by Rachel Dinkledine, a young woman I have had the pleasure of watching grow up since the day I took her brothers to see her at the hospital the day she was born. Rachel works as a registered nurse in the Indianapolis area.

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There are more than enough “Why Singles are Marginalized in the Church” articles floating around cyberspace.  My aim is not to add to their number.  By God’s grace, there are also many pastoral and theologically-sound resources on singleness.  My aim is not to improve upon these (I don’t think I can!).  So what is this article all about?  

Whether you are single or married, your theology of singleness will profoundly influence the life of the church. Instead of writing a five-point essay defending this statement, I submit to you a letter, a letter inspired from the experiences of many godly single women, from 20-somethings to 70-somethings.*  While the letter is written to parents, most aspects can be profitably read as addressed to a congregation from a single sister.  May the Lord use this to propel you to develop and live out a biblical theology of singleness.  

Dear […]


You’re Invited: A Day of Prayer and Fasting

“Yet even now,” declares the LORD,“return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments.” Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” Joel 2:12-13

Our session (at Immanuel RPC in West Lafayette) has called for a day of fasting and prayer on Thursday, September 8th. I would like to use this opportunity to invite you and your congregations to join us. 



On Being Persuasive

From parenting to preaching, seeking to persuade others about the truths of the Bible and obedience to it is a fine art. One can easily veer off course and come across as harsh, demanding, exasperating, and legalistic. An over-correction in the other direction can make one sound nagging, permissive, whiny, and lacking in authority. Learning how to persuade others winsomely is a skill that needs to be cultivated. As Proverbs 16:23 says, “The heart of the wise makes his speech judicious and adds persuasiveness to his lips.”

In his work on preaching originally titled Sacred Rhetoric but now usually printed as Evangelical Eloquence, Robert Dabney, a nineteenth century theologian, has a fascinating section on this topic. Dabney reminds us that just as there are laws governing other aspects of nature, so there are rules for appealing to people to work toward a true, willing acceptance of the words that they are hearing rather than a blind obedience, grudging compliance, or outright rejection of them. He says that

…there are facts and laws belonging to man’s emotive system which must also be regarded in dealing successfully with it. It is the emotions which immediately move the will. To produce volition it is not enough that the intellect be convinced; affection must also be aroused.”

In […]


When Christians are Blamed

What should Christians do when they are blamed for problems in culture that they did not cause? Or when they are held responsible for things they did not do?

After the Orlando shooting at the Pulse nightclub in June, Christians were accused of being complicit. David French and Denny Burk each reflected on this blame-casting. The pattern may repeat itself in future events. It can be easy to become defensive or to go on the offensive, but before we do, it is worth considering the example of Moses.

Moses faced a situation with some similarities as recorded in Numbers 16. After wandering for years in the wilderness, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram challenged the leadership of Moses and Aaron in the nation of Israel. Specifically, Aaron’s priestly leadership was challenged.

God called for a public meeting the next day. He told both groups of men to burn incense before the Lord to see which he would accept. In dramatic fashion, the Lord caused the ground to open up and swallow Korah, Dathan, and Abriam along with their 250 followers and their possessions.

The Lord brought calamity of the sort that only he could bring as a warning to those who were tempted to disbelieve. It […]