Is God Anti-Gay?

Heard a great discussion with Sam Allberry yesterday about his book Is God Anti-Gay? (Kindle only $5.99). Once again The Good Book Company is showing that they are serious about publishing important (and often wonderfully succinct!) books for our time.

You can listen here to the discussion on Westminster Seminary California's podcast, Office Hours. Sam also gave a lecture while at Westminster.

I also discovered this talk Sam gave at the ERLC national conference in 2014 which I remember hearing about but until now hadn't heard. Good stuff.

Hello, John Piper

Unfortunately too many who view the world through social media lenses know John Piper more for his "Farewell, Rob Bell" comment more than most anything else. I've been blessed by Dr. Piper's ministry for years. First discovering him through Desiring God and then a mad scramble to read the rest of his key books (Let the Nations Be Glad, Future Grace). Then Bruce Ware let me borrow boxes of John Piper sermon tapes, which I devoured while at work during seminary years. 

I heard Piper speak at Southern Seminary where he called the seminary dangerous because it's beautiful and safe. I asked him about whether tax exempt status for churches caused us to not speak out more and he just said we need to be bold. I heard Piper speak at The Founders Conference in Birmingham where he spoke on mission and caused me to aspire to become a missionary to a Muslim country. I heard Piper speak on mission again at the International Mission Board gathering at Ridgecrest, NC where I asked him to sign his books for me during a youth event and asked if he felt odd signing books since it means he's a "celebrity." He said he doesn't seek it out but won't say no. We got to chat with Noel several times as during the conference as we dropped off our kids to the same place for childcare during the week-long event. She was dropping off Talitha. I've been to the Desiring God conference and the Desiring God Pastor's conference and got to sit at lunch with other young pastors and Dr. Piper and grill him on ministry, hot theological topics, and more. 

Nameless other Piper podcasts, books, pamphlets, lectures, and sermons have blessed me over the years. I often talk about my favorite-ever sermons as Piper sermons. I love "Running With The Witnesses" because I so easily fall in love with things that don't help me run the race. I have been influenced by Piper on theology, fasting, mission, ecclesiology, how to deal with theological disagreements, sin, suffering, and far too much to even try to list.

I say all this to say I get to go with a church friend to drive to hear John Piper speak on Jonathan Edwards today at Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL. So I've been thinking about how I got to this point, the point of spending several hours in one day to go hear one man speak. Am I so gripped by his celebrity? Am I just a fan-boy?

I've been around long enough to not see John Piper as a hero or a celebrity. I go to hear a wise and sinful man speak about another wise and sinful man who both know their sinfulness and need for grace. I go to hear a man who knows himself well enough to realize he must pursue pleasure in God because of his great propensity to pursue pleasure in anything else. I don't go to see someone who's popular, but someone who has poured his life into mine through various means and who is coming near. So I'm thankful I get to be poured into again. 

I thank God for many saints, near and far, famous and completely unknown, who I owe so much. One will be speaking on Edwards. One will be sitting with me listening to Piper. One I have known mostly through books and sermons over years and the other I've known for a short time and we meet together every week to discuss theology, Calvin's Institutes, family, and faith. I'm blessed by and thankful for both, and both play an important role in my life. God is merciful to provide us such great gifts. 

Darkness Can Slowly Creep In

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From Jen Thorn...

You know, you can find yourself in a dark spot without tragedy turning your life upside down. Darkness can slowly creep in like a cool fog until it has filled your heart.

And Satan rejoices when this happens, because during these times I am useless for the Kingdom, or so it seems. I don’t do a good job encouraging my husband or pointing my kids to Jesus. Satan loves that. I forget what the providence of God really means and ignore his word. I become discontent and unhappy. I am sure this makes Satan cheer because my quest for godliness seems to have come to a screeching halt.

The path to godliness is not a “flowery” path full of ease and sunshine. Though I really wish it was.  It is instead an uphill road filled with difficulty, pitfalls, enemies, thorns, confusion, and sometimes darkness.

Read the rest: "Treasures in the Dark" by Jen Thorn

Lots-o-Links 1.24.14


Outstanding. It's a score, so it's not a collection of songs. But I think you will love it and love working to it. Beautiful.

Getting Big Projects Done: Best Practices from Successful Writers from Unclutterer

Break things into bite-sized pieces and create daily habits

"How to Discourage Artists in the Church" by Phil Ryken - This is from 2013, but I read it again and it's so helpful. Here's one point (remember, this is the wrong thing to do)...

"Demand artists to give answers in their work, not raise questions. Mark Lewis says, "Makecertain that your piece (or artifact or performance) makes incisive theological or moral points, and doesn't stray into territory about which you are unresolved or in any way unclear. (Clear answers are of course more valuable than questions)." Do not allow for ambiguity, or for varied responses to art. Demand art to communicate in the same way to everyone."

Why I Am A Continuationist by Sam Storms & Why I Am A Cessationist by Tom Schreiner

These two pieces at The Gospel Coalition give helpful, scholarly, theological and experiential reasons for their views. 

How to Handle Discouragement in Ministry

"Watch the full six-minute video to see [Darrin Patrick, Paul Tripp, & Voddie Baucham] discuss isolation, broken trust, pastors as body parts, and more."

Theology Books Worth Reading & Rereading

I sent out to this tweet a few weeks ago...

I got great responses. A number of folks asked me to compile a list of all the responses. Here they are as one long list in the order they were received. I added a "*" for every extra mention. If you don't like something on the list, don't blame me. It's not my list. :) I will start, though, with my list which I didn't give on Twitter. Thanks to all who responded.

ALSO, I tried to offer links to WTS, Amazon, & Kindle. Buying by clicking the links though Amazon and WTS cost you nothing extra, but it helps me a lot as I need to buy my books as a pastor through these two companies. Appreciate it, if you are buying anyway, if you would consider using my links. Always a blessing. 

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My list...

Twitter responses...

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Evidence of Knowing God

Knowing god cover

Do you you know God or just know about God? That's the concern of J.I. Packer in the opening chapters of his excellent book, Knowing God ($2.99 for Kindle right now!). He lists four evidences explained through the book of Daniel of the effects the knowledge of God has on a person (pp 27-32). I'll give the four and quote from each of Packer's explanations, but I encourage you to read this section and the whole book. It's rich. I forgot how really great it is.

1. Those who know God have great energy for God

"Those who know their God are sensitive to situations in which God's truth and honor are being directly or tacitly jeopardized, and rather than let the matter go by default will force the issue on men's attention and seek thereby to compel a change of heart about it--even at personal risk."


"People who know their God are before anything else people who pray, and the first point where their zeal and energy for God's glory come to expression is in their prayers."

2. Those who know God have great thoughts of God

Packer takes a brief survey of the book of Daniel, ending by saying, "[God] knows, and foreknows, all things, and his foreknowledge is foreordination; he, therefore, will have the last word, both in world history and in the destiny of every man; his kingdom and righteousness will triumph in the end, for neither men nor angels shall be able to thwart him."

"These were the thoughts of God which filled Daniel's mind."

3. Those who know God show great boldness for God

"They may find the determination of the right course to take agonizingly difficult, but once they are clear on it they embrace it boldly and without hesitation. It does not worry them that others of God's people see the matter differently and do not stand with them."

4. Those who know God have great contentment in God 

"There is no peace like the peace of those whose minds are possessed with full assurance that they have known God, and God has known them, and that this relationship guarantees God's favor to them in life, through death and on forever."

Greg Thornbury | Books & Culture Interview

Joe Thorn & I got to hang out with Greg Thornbury, our friend and author of Recovering Classic Evangelicalism (also Kindle | WTS), just before this interview with John Wilson, the editor of Books & Culture. A good, short discussion on evangelicalism and Carl Henry and "swagger." I hope many read this book. (via Crossway)

Gregory Thornbury discusses "Recovering Classic Evangelicalism" w/ John Wilson from Crossway on Vimeo.

Keller | Four Kinds Of People

Gfy keller

In Tim Keller's excellent expository guide to Galatians says there are four kinds of people concerning works & the law. I'll give you his categories with a very short explanation. Check out Galatians For You (Amazon, Kindle, WTS) starting on page 117 for a fuller explanation.

  1. Law-obeying, law-relying | "Under the law," often smug, self-righteous, superior. Sensitive to criticism despite outward confidence. "Pharisees." They go to church.
  2. Law-disobeying, law-relying | Strong works-righteousness, but not living consistently. May go to church, but on periphery b/c of low spiritual self-esteem. Guilt-ridden.
  3. Law-disobeying, not law-relying | Secular & relativistic. Vague spirituality. Choose own moral standards & insist they are meeting them. Earn salvation by feeling superior to others.
  4. Law-obeying, not law-relying | Understand the Gospel and living out the freedom of it. More tolerant than #3, more confident than #2, more sympathetic than #1. Still struggle to live out #4 and see the world as a #1, #2, or #3.

Illustrated Puritans

Bruised coverOne of the things I love to see is when someone takes good, old books and repackages them for a new audience. We have the blessing of having so much Puritan literature in print, accessible to many. I'm excited about a new approach to publishing Puritan works: Illustrated Puritans. 

The first to be published is The Bruised Reed by Richard Sibbes. From the publisher...

Each of these classic works features dozens of original illustrations which both complement and elevate the text. In addition, the Illustrated Puritan series provides the reader with everything needed for deep, fluid study, from wide margins, to language helps, to in-line footnotes for each scripture referenced.

One of the issues that comes up when reading the Puritans is a bit of a language barrier. It's fairly small, but still can be a turn-off. These new books explain when meanings aren't clear through clarifying in footnotes. And the illustrations fit. These aren't meant to be slick, but gritty and real. While they are done well, there's an "everyman" quality to it. As you read, the illustrations draw you in but don't overwhelm. The art points to the words rather than focusing on the art itself. It's a hard thing to do, but done well here.

Bruised Inside

I hope this new generation of Illustrated Puritans books will be picked up and read by a new generation of disciple, enriched by gospel-centered writings from great writers and preachers of our past. Go buy yourself a copy.

Ezekiel: Creative & Forceful Prophet

Ezekiel's rhetorical agenda is clear: to transform his audience's (the exiles') perceptions of their relationship with Yahweh and ultimately to change their behavior. But how does he seek to get his message across? That the prophet is portrayed almost like a puppet, with Yahweh pulling all the strings, might lead one to expect a bland and routine answer to this question. But the opposite is the case. In my view, no other prophet is so creative in his presentation of his mesage, and none is as forceful. The rhetorical strategies reflected in this collection are both visual and aural, all designed to penetrate the hardened minds of his hearers.

Daniel Block, NICOT, The Book of Ezekiel: Chapters 1-24, pg 15 (also see Chapters 25-48 volume)

Giveaway | Tim Keller on Galatians

UPDATE: Winners announced! Jonathan Smith, corey Sosebee, Jim Upchurch, Michael Battenfield, and Ronnie Batchelor. Please email me (pastorsteve [at] gmail [dot] com) your mailing address and I will make sure you get your books! Congratulations! If you didn't win (for some of you...again), keep your eyes peeled. I do regular giveaways here at Reformissionary.



Tim Keller's new expository guide to Galatians, Galatians For You, is out today. Along with it is a Good Book Guide on Galatians called Galatians: Gospel Matters. It's a seven week study guide for individuals and groups. The fine folks at have outdone themselves by giving me several copies to give away. More on that below, as well as how you enter to win. First, a bit about the books:

Galatians Book

About Galatians For You...

First in a new series of expository guides to the Bible, Timothy Keller's Galatians For You walks you through the book of Galatians, showing how the gospel message changes the whole of our lives. 

Combining a close attention to the detail of the text with Timothy Keller's trademark gift for clear explanation and compelling insights, this resource will both engage your mind and stir your heart.

Galatians Guide

About Galatians: Gospel Matters study guide...

This seven-study guide by Timothy Keller will excite Christians about the gospel, and apply it to every aspect of their lives.

Gospel Matters takes us to the heart of a dispute of eternal significance. The Galatian church was torn between the view that their efforts saved them, and the gospel, which told them that it was Christ's work, not theirs, that mattered. The choice still confronts us today making this a hugely relevant and exciting book to study. 

I'm giving away these great books in 5 pairs (5 readers will get both!). So cool. By the way, I've been using the Galatians For You book as I preach through Galatians, and I'm halfway through. But it's written with the average Christian in mind and is suited for any of my readers. So good.

Simple to enter...

1. Tweet (post to Facebook if you aren't on Twitter, or do both!) without the quote marks: " Win Tim Keller's two new books on Galatians FREE! RT & comment at Reformissionary to enter: "

2. Comment below with where you shared it (so I can confirm you did step 1) with your real name and real email (kept private).For Fun in the comments, guess how many books (or volumes) on my desk are by or about Martin Luther. Hint: It's more than zero. :) 

I will use to pick 5 winners tomorrow (Wednesday) evening after 5pm central time. May the odds be ever in your favor!

(If you can't wait, I highly recommend you go purchase them now. Buy the book here and get the study guide free. Or buy only the book here at a deep discount.)

Passion by Mike McKinley

The Good Book Company has released a new book in perfect timing to pick up cheap and read it and/or give it away with Easter just around the corner. Check out Passion by Mike McKinley. McKinley is also author of Am I Really A Christian? and Church Planting Is For Wimps. On Passion, a blurb, a video, & a few endorsements...

Walking readers through Luke's Gospel, US pastor and well-known author Mike McKinley looks at the events of the last day of Jesus' earthly life. At each point, he pauses to marvel at the love Christ has for His people; and shows how Jesus' people can learn from His passion, His care, and His integrity. 

It offers a sweet series of meditations on Jesus Christ’s life-changing and universe-altering final day. It is an excellent read for both seeker and Christian.
Jonathan Leeman, Editorial Director of 9Marks Ministries; author of0 Reverberation and The Surprising Offense of God’s Love

...his insights are like nails!
Michael Reeves, Head of Theology, UCCF; author, The Good God

The cross stands tall at the center of the gospel. Understanding this deeply, Mike writes with an earthy, pastoral voice as he relates the drama of Jesus’ crucifixion. Thoroughly rooted in the beauty of the gospel, Passion draws us back again and again to reflect on these timeworn truths.
Daniel Montgomery, Lead Pastor of Sojourn Community Church, Louisville, Kentucky, US; author of Faithmapping

Owen Strachan | The Essential Edwards Collection


Owen Strachan & Doug Sweeney published five little books on Jonathan Edwards, or I should say Jonathan Edwards On...various topics. Four of the five are $0.99 for Kindle. Here they are. Go pick'em up for less than $10 total! It would be $30 to buy all five in paperback as a pack. Good deal.

Keller | "How Faith Affects Our Work"

Tim Keller PostPhoto

In his new blog post about his book, Every Good Endeavor, Tim Keller discusses four ways Christian faith influences and shapes our work. It is what he says is the meaning of his book in a nutshell. Here they are listed for you. Go read Dr. Keller's post, "How Faith Affects Our Work" for more explanation of these four points. And pick up a copy of Every Good Endeavor.

  1. The Christian faith gives us a moral compass, an inner GPS giving us ethical guidance that takes us beyond merely the legal aspects or requirements in any situation. 
  2. Your Christian faith gives you a new spiritual power, an inner gyroscope, that keeps you from being overthrown by either success, failure, or boredom.
  3. The Christian faith gives us a new conception of work as the means by which God loves and cares for his world through us.
  4. The Christian faith gives us a new world-and-life view that shapes the character of our work.

Chronic Suffering & Christian Hope

This is outstanding on "Longing for Wholeness." It's spot on for what my family is experiencing at the moment, and has been experiencing the last few years. Mark Talbot is apparently writing a book on profound suffering titled When the Stars Disappear. I look forward to buying that book, that has been his labor for years now, in light of this excellent teaching from Talbot at the Desiring God's Works of God Conference. Please watch or go listen to/download the audio. (via JT)

Longing for Wholeness: Chronic Suffering and Christian Hope from Desiring God on Vimeo.