Sunday, 28 April 2013

Jesus is first in all things

“Jesus is first in all things” by Richard Sibbes From tolle lege

“We must know that all things are first in Christ, and then in us. God chose Him first, and then He chose us. God singled Him out to be the Saviour, the second Adam, and He calls us in Christ.

Christ, being our surety, took our sins upon Him. We are justified, because He, by His resurrection, quit Himself from the guilt of our sins, as having paid the debt.

Christ is the first fruits of them that rise again (1 Cor. 15:20). We rise again because He is risen. Christ first ascended; we ascend in Christ. Christ is first loved; we are loved in the Beloved.

Christ is first blessed; we are blessed with all spiritual blessings in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 1:3). So, whatsoever is in us, we have it at the second hand. We have the Spirit in us, but He is first in Christ.

God hath put the Spirit in Christ, as the spring, as the second Adam, as a public person, that should receive the Spirit for us all. He is first in all things; Christ must have the pre-eminence.

He hath the pre-eminence in all, both before time, in time, and after time, in election, in whatsoever is done here in this world, and in glorification.

All is first in Christ, and then in us. He is the elder brother. We must understand this, to give Christ His due honour and respect, and to know whence we have all we have.”

–Richard Sibbes, “A Description of Christ,” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1862), 18.

Saturday, 13 April 2013

What Does the President of the United States Believe about Infants Born Alive after a Botched Abortion?

The following comes from Justin Taylor. If you're unaware of the name 'Kermit Gosnell', simply put it into your search engine.

What Does the President of the United States Believe about Infants Born Alive after a Botched Abortion?:
As momentum builds for ending the media’s refusal to cover the facts about the horrific Kermit Gosnell abortion-mill case, I think it’s worth remembering that President Obama dealt for several years with the question of whether or not infants should be protected when born alive after a failed abortion. Here is one quote:
[I]f we’re placing a burden on the doctor that says you have to keep alive a previable child as long as possible and give them as much medical attention as—as is necessary to try to keep that child alive, then we’re probably crossing the line in terms of unconstitutionality.
—Senator Barack Obama, March 30, 2001, arguing against the the Born Alive Act before the Illinois General Assembly
Even though as a candidate for president Mr. Obama offered multiple explanations for his consistent votes against the Born Alive Act—explanations which don’t stand up to the historical reality—his record speaks for itself:
IL Senate 2001 (Senate Bill 1095, Born Alive Infant Protection Act)
  • Senator Obama voted “no” in the Senate Judiciary Committee (March 28, 2001)
  • Senator Obama argued against the bill on the IL Senate floor (March 30, 2001) (see pp. 84-90 of this PDF)
  • Senator Obama voted “present” for the bill (March 30, 2001)
IL Senate 2002 (Senate Bill 1662, Born Alive Infant Protection Act)
  • Senator Obama voted “no” vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee (March 6, 2002)
  • Senator Obama argued against the bill on the IL Senate floor (April 4, 2002) (see pp. 28-35 of this PDF)
  • Senator Obama voted “no” for the bill (April 4, 2002)
IL Senate 2003 (Senate Bill 1082, Born Alive Infant Protection Act)
  • Senator Obama, who chaired the Health and Human Services Committee, held the bill from receiving a committee vote and stopped the senate’s sponsor from adding the federal act’s clarification paragraph, which made the bills absolutely identical.
All of this is consistent with recent testimony from Planned Parenthood:

Friday, 12 April 2013

How to Preach without Putting People to Sleep

Some friends wrote a book. I've known Phil Campbell since uni days, he is a good thinker, a Bible teacher and an excellent preacher.

Here's Justin Taylor's take on it, along with a few other well-known people.

How to Preach without Putting People to Sleep:
On the new book, Saving Eutychus: How to Preach God’s Word and Keep People Awake by Gary Millar and Phil Campbell:
“I have read books on how to make sure your sermon is interesting, and I have read books on how to make sure your sermon is faithful to the text, but this book wants your sermon to be both. If I could, I would make this little book mandatory reading for seminarians everywhere, and then urge them to read it a couple more times during the course of their ministry. It avoids cutesy and manipulative suggestions, and makes its practical points while urging integrity, faithfulness, and imagination. Many books on preaching are published every year; this one is a “must.”

—D. A. Carson, Research Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
“This book deserves to be included in the ‘must read’ category for preachers. It is readable, which always helps! And, as we would expect, it is biblical and practical. But it is also funny and forthright in a way that made me re-evaluate my preaching and resolve with God’s help to improve. This is a different book from Lloyd-Jones’ Preaching and Preachers and Between Two Worlds by John Stott, but it may prove to be just as influential.”

—Alistair Begg, Senior Pastor, Parkside Church, Cleveland, OH
“Some writing so solemnly exalts the task of preaching, or so heavily complicates the method, it depresses and discourages ordinary mortals like me into thinking we can never really do it and should just give up. Since most preachers feel that every Sunday night anyway, such books don’t really help the cause! This one does. I like it because it is short, (lighthearted but not lightweight), very human, and very much to the point. I am involved in training preachers, but I still have plenty to learn. I am very grateful for a resource that will both help me, and help me in helping others—with enjoyment, encouragement and some fun along the way!”

- William JU Philip, Senior Minister, The Tron Church, Glasgow
“This book teems with ‘plusses’: it is short (as a tome that takes Eutychus as its poster boy must be); it is stretching (the authors force one to deal with longer texts—and leave one asking, “Why can’t I summarize extended passages like that?”); it is specific (they include actual sermons with critique); it is searching (in case you skip the first chapter, ‘pray’ occurs eight times in the conclusion); and stirring (you still want to preach when you’ve finished reading). If you don’t buy the book, don’t cry if Eutychus isn’t saved!”

—Dale Ralph Davis, Bible expositor and author
“Millar and Campbell write with much wit and wisdom for the sake of our listeners. At some point every preacher must decide whether to preach for the regard of one’s peers or for the welfare of Christ’s people. Millar and Campbell have obviously decided for the latter and give much sound advice for the rest of us to do the same.”

—Bryan Chapell, Chancellor, Covenant Theological Seminary
“Two men who would never be deadly boring or dull are Gary Millar and Phil Campbell, and in this book they use their lively wit to help other preachers keep Eutychus awake. More importantly, they are united in their understanding of and commitment to the task of making God’s word known. I pray this book will be of benefit to both preachers and congregations.”

—Phillip D Jensen, Dean of Sydney, St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Sydney, NSW
You can read a sample from the book here.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Pretty Woman: The Perks and Perils of Being Attractive

All sorts of useful articles pop up on LaRae's blog.

Pretty Woman: The Perks and Perils of Being Attractive:

Chivalry is dead. Slapped down for calling a woman in the workplace good-looking, President Obama has stepped into the murky world of women’s rights.

President Obama’s great mistake resides in the fact that he called California Attorney General Kamala Harris the best looking AG in the country. For this insult, he issued an immediate apology. I know quite a few women who put in a lot of effort and invest tons of money to get that kind of attention from a man.
Compliments in the workplace, however, have always been tricky. In my book, Secrets of A Strong Mind, I talk about what it was like to be the only woman on my squad for years. My fellow FBI agents took care to do two things: compliment me on my 1) appearance, and 2) on the good work I was doing. One compliment never came without the other. They wanted me to know they appreciated the effort I took with hair, make-up, and clothes. They also wanted me to know they respected my work ethic. In turn, I frequently complimented them when they looked good—they were flattered and it bolstered their sense of self-worth.
I was never insulted by their compliments. They weren’t meant to be lewd or disrespectful. On the other hand, I never wore 5-inch heels to work or visited plastic surgeons . . . .
Women need to make sure their choices in the way they dress and look are sending the right message to others. Most women want to look feminine without being reduced to a sexual object at the same time (click to tweet). But that is harder than it sounds. Sex is introduced into every decision a woman makes as she prepares to meet the world—seductive eyes or a plain face, sexy heels or sensible shoes, flirty skirts or mannish suits . . . the list goes on.
The worst case scenario is a woman who tries to look and act like one of the guys. As an FBI agent, I’ve seen that happen a lot—female agents who try to hide their femininity as though they’re embarrassed by it.
As leaders, the majority of women I know instinctively understand that appearances are more than vanity or primitive sexual  urges. The real issue is this: studies consistently demonstrate that physical appearance does matter and that people intuitively equate beauty with being smart and successful.
The psychology of physical attractiveness is well documented and used by seasoned marketeers around the world. The way we look and dress is a persuasive non-verbal way to communicate our attractiveness to others.
Here are 7 facts from numerous studies that have been conducted to measure the way in which our bias toward physical beauty influences our behavior.
Physically attractive people:
  1. Trigger the same kinds of brain networks in us that are activated when people become addicted to cocaine and gambling.
  2. Elevate the mood of others and are considered to be more effective than unattractive people.
  3. Give impressions of being smarter, successful, sociable, mentally healthier, and more dominant—whether they are or not. While this ‘beauty is good’ effect is moderately strong, studies show that attractive people are neither more nor less intelligent than less attractive people.
  4. Are considered to be more likable and more social. We are more likely to divulge personal information about ourselves to physically attractive people than we are to less physically attractive people. In addition, we are more likely to help attractive people if they are in trouble.
  5. Receive more lenient jail sentences if convicted of a crime than less attractive defendants.
  6. Less likely to be found guilty than a less attractive person charged with the same crime.
  7. Are considered to be less dangerous than unattractive defendants charged with a crime, independent of grooming or attire.
Research confirms the prevalence of a bias for physical attractiveness. We tend to not only ascribe all sorts of positive traits to beautiful people, we also tend to give them more breaks in life.
What did we learn from President Obama’s mis-step? That it’s not politically correct to admit to this bias and that it’s not OK to admit how much we like attractive people to anyone but researchers.
How have you noticed a bias in physical attractiveness in the workplace?  Are there disadvantages to being physically attractive in the workplace?
You can follow me on Twitter at
Read my book ““Secrets of a Strong Mind,” available now on Amazon.

Monday, 8 April 2013

Suicide, Mental Illness, Depression, and the Church

Here's a useful post on Depression from Justin Taylor:

Suicide, Mental Illness, Depression, and the Church:
David Murray, an unusually wise teacher and the author of Christians Get Depressed Too, addresses 7 Questions about Suicide and Christians. He writes, “As well-publicized suicides tend to increase the suicide rate quite dramatically, I thought it would be good to address seven of the questions that arise in our minds at times like this.” Here are the seven questions he answers:
  1. How common is suicide?
  2. How do I know if someone is thinking about suicide?
  3. What should I do if I’m worried someone I know is going to commit suicide?
  4. Do Christians who commit suicide go to hell?
  5. Who is to blame?
  6. What if I’m thinking of suicide myself?
  7. What can the church do to prevent suicide?
See also Ed Welch’s wise counsel on how to answer the question, “Do People Who Commit Suicide Go to Heaven?
Here is a sermon by John Piper (2007) for a young member of his church, the son of an elder, who committed suicide after a long struggle with depression.
Michael Patton writes an incredibly painful post about Matthew Warren, with no easy answers, about the torture of those who cannot clearly see the light and suffer the asphyxiation of hope.
Ed Stetzer has a piece at CNN’s religion blog on mental illness and the church, arguing the following points:
  • There are people in the pews every week—ministers, too—struggling with mental illness or depression.
  • People of faith know that God has freed them to love others, and that love extends to everyone, even (and sometimes especially) those we don’t understand.
  • Christians need to affirm the value of medical treatment for mental illness.
  • Compassion and care can go a long way in helping people know they don’t have to hide.
  • Mental illness has nothing to do with you or your family’s beliefs. It can impact anyone.
Here are some resources on battling depression and ministering to those who do:
For those in ministry, the writings by and about Charles Spurgeon on depression may be particularly valuable:

Sunday, 7 April 2013