Finding their own faith: Barnabas Piper on being a PK

Meet Barnabas Piper, a writer, team member of Ministry Grid, and a contributor to multiple blogs and publications (including, Leadership Journal, Tabletalk Magazine,, The Gospel Coalition blog, and Barnabas is also a PK—a pastor’s kid, and  the son of a Christian-famous one, at that. In anticipation of the release of his new book, The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity (look for a review soon), Barnabas took a few minutes to chat (via email) about the book, the life of a PK and how parents can keep their kids from hating ministry.

I promised I wouldn’t ask you the standard “why’d you write this book” question, and I’m sticking to that. (After all, it’s pretty obvious why you did.) So, here’s the real first question: what impressed me when reading the book is how you managed to keep the tone as positive as you did. How challenging was it maintain this without sugarcoating the real difficulties that come with being a PK?

So much of what passes for “authentic” or “honest” writing these days is simply the lancing of emotional boils all over one’s readers. So my challenge was to be genuinely honest but also tasteful. As I wrote I kept the words “honor your father and mother” at the forefront of my mind to help me be thoughtful and conscientious. At the same time I needed to expose and explain certain realities and do so with clarity. I hope that as I tried to negotiate between honoring my parents and being bluntly forthright I was forceful without being a drag.

One of the things you mentioned in the book is that your theology differs in some respects from your dad’s. What were some of the ways he helped give you space to work out what you believe and how might other pastors do likewise for their kids?

Much of my differing came after I moved away from home. We’ve had some pointed conversations about our differences and have come to an understanding that some topics are best not argued about. To be clear, my dad did not make me believe anything growing up, but for anyone who’s ever listened to him preach or read his writings he leaves little room to disagree. So, for me, it was space that led to my opportunity to think in a different direction. And since then, I have worked to be respectful of his views, not pick needless arguments, and center on those things we do agree on—the essentials of the Christian faith.

The Pastor's Kid by Barnabas Piper

The Pastor’s Kid is available now.

While much of your experience is similar to that of the average PK, you’ve also got the added crazy of having a Christian-famous dad. How have you managed to handle the extra-wide bubble and not lose your mind?

Who’s to say I haven’t lost my mind?

Just kidding. Much of it had to do with the fact that the fame for him came gradually as I grew up and didn’t become more pronounced until I was in late high school and then in college. That meant I was a little bit more ready to roll with it and figure it out at a (somewhat) mature level. I haven’t always handled it well. At times I have resented people for how they treated me or gushed over my dad. It’s hard to meet people and for them to have expectations of what I’ll be like because of my last name.

But at some point I realized I could either be annoyed all the time or just roll with it. People aren’t trying to be invasive or to put expectations on me. Many genuinely love my dad, and although that can be weird, it’s generally a kind of nice weird. The bottom line is that I have been shown a lot of grace, and I would be an ingrate not to show some to others, especially when they have good intentions.

My kids aren’t PKs, but they are caught in the bubble due to my day job and extra curricular activities. What advice do you have to help parents like me protect our kids from hating everything about ministry in all its forms?

Help them see that you love them more than ministry and help them see what you love about the ministry. If your kids know you’d drop ministry in a second for them they won’t feel like it’s an imposition. If they see that, while you love ministry, you find greater happiness with them they won’t feel like it’s a rival. If they see that you enjoy it and that it is meaningful to you it will be seen as a positive thing over all, something to be part of rather than fled from.

The Pastor’s Kid is now available from your favorite resellers (and Amazon, too). Connect with Barnabas on Twitter (@BarnabasPiper), Facebook and at his blog.

Race, diversity and God’s glory: A conversation with Trillia Newbell

There are some issues that make total sense for there to be a great deal of discussion and controversy around, but I’m not sure how many of us would put ethnic diversity on the list. It’s not that we don’t think diversity is important, it’s just because we live in a pluralistic society and assume that it’s a given.

Except it’s not.

A while back, I had the opportunity to sit down with Trillia Newbell and talk about her new book, United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity, one of the most encouraging and thoughtful books I’ve read on the issue of racism and embracing ethnic diversity within the church. During our conversation, we discussed her reasons for writing United, the problems with the word “race,” and what reclaiming a sense of diversity really means for the church. I hope reading our conversation is as enjoyable for you as speaking with her was for me!

Why was this book so important for you to write?

I grew up in the South and experienced racism and it really didn’t occur to me that this could be something I could put on paper until my pastors asked me to read and review Dr. John Piper’s book Bloodlines. [After reviewing the book,] I wrote a blog post about being an African American female in a predominantly white congregation. The response was so incredible, and people from across the board were really affected by it. And I realized this wasn’t just something on my heart, but an issue the church really needs to be talking about.

[Thinking about] diversity in general, I grew up loving people and culture and wanting to know more about both… I grew up with that desire because my father taught me, but diversity had a different meaning for me—it was a little more political.

When I became a Christian, and I saw in the Bible how it talks about all tongues and all tribes, it became clear that this is really a biblical issue (if you want to call it an issue). It’s bigger than politics. It’s really God’s heart. He has a love for all nations. Jesus came to redeem all nations, all tribes. And then, Jesus commanded his disciples to make disciples of all nations. It’s something so important that God thought to address it.


One of the things I noticed in the book as you referenced your own experiences with racism was a problem with the term “race” itself in the context of people. Can you unpack that for me?

I often refer to people as different ethnicities or different cultures, but not different races. And the reason is, really, there’s only one race: the human race. We’re one people, all born from one man—Adam…. You don’t see the Bible talking about “races.” It talks about ethnicities, tribes, tongues, nations—but you don’t see “races.”

What difference, practically, does it make when we think about people in terms of “race” versus a more biblical view of “ethnicity”?

If we adopt this language and this mindset, we would still have the superiority issue—which is really pride—but it would eradicate some of the sillier ones. Interracial marriage wouldn’t be an issue at all. It would simply be two people of different cultures and ethnicities becoming one.

We would also be able to get to the heart of the issue of racism more easily, which is really pride… It would take a while, but [with racism gone] you wouldn’t have racial profiling…

And because we have a tendency to indulge our sin nature and think the worst of people all the time, we’d change our racial profiling to ethnicity profiling.

We would still have some of the same struggles, yeah, because we’re sinners.

But it might be easier for us to think of one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. I think it might be easier for us to understand that we really are adopted into one family and it’s a new bloodline, and we can embrace that.

How we prevent good arguments for treating equally from being co-opted either to gain the approval of clearly sinful behavior or political aspirations?

I would say biblically, anything about the personhood of a human being is not sinful in so far as the color of my skin is not sinful. I was created in the image of God, exactly as God forethought this. He foreknew me, knit me in my mother’s womb and knew I’d be a brown girl. And He said that this is good. He created me in His image. So nothing about the color of my skin is sinful.

When we look at the Bible, we’re made equal, we’re redeemed equal—we’re also sinfully equal. So I think we can strive and encourage diversity in that sense because there is nothing inherently evil in this pursuit or about the people God has created in terms of our color. We are sinners, but in terms of what he created… we can pursue it because there’s nothing in the Bible that would discourage this pursuit.

So it’s really being careful to draw our distinctions based on what the Bible says about people, rather than trying to make a hard-and-fast statement about actions.

Yes! We can act out in sin as people, as people made in His image. But because we’re talking about pursuing people of different colors, tribes and tongues, that has nothing to do with the actions of those people. Jesus commands the disciples to make disciples of all nations, but he doesn’t delineate in terms of what those people are doing.

One of the things you wrote in the book is that, “Diversity doesn’t mean ‘more of the same.’ Maybe that’s obvious” (United, p 67). I’m really not sure it is that obvious. In our country, we tend to congregate with people who are like us. We’ve got a very large Middle Eastern population that tends to not talk to anyone who isn’t Middle Eastern. In our churches, we tend to stick within our denominations. We do age-and-stage ministry—with young people only learning from each other (which as we all know is a bad idea since we were all kind of stupid at that age), and seniors are all together feeling left out together… and even churches where there does tend to be more ethnic diversity, we often find churches doing separate services in specific languages, rather than fully integrating. Why do you think we do this and how would you encourage us to be more biblically diverse?

The “why” is we’re comfortable. People planning these ministries think, “This is going to serve [these people]… this is going to be comfortable.” But the reality is, you get seniors who think, “I can’t serve in this church, I’m not of any use,” and people who will never know the people in the other services because they only go to the service in their language, and youth who are not learning and growing from older members of their congregations…

[As for encouragement,] the Bible has a great chapter on this, Titus 2! [Laughs] And it tells us how to disciple one another. Older men and women discipling younger men and women. And it seems so clear to me that the Lord would want us to learn from one another and mix it up a bit so we can learn and grow. And then in 1 Corinthians, Paul talks about the body needing all its parts. So you can’t have a bunch of eyeballs together… you need the arm, you need the leg, you need the eyeball, all working together. Paul’s talking about spiritual gifts, of course, but unless we’re integrating those gifts aren’t going to come together.

Last question: If there’s only one thing you want readers to take away from the book, what would that be?

The pursuit of diversity isn’t about diversity: it’s about love. If people can reach out to their neighbors, share the gospel, get to know other people and love other people as you love yourself, that would be amazing. What a transformation that would be in all our lives, to truly seek to love people and to know people. That’s why I stayed in that predominantly white church [mentioned previously] for so long—because I felt loved. We had our problems, but I felt loved.


United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity is on sale now. Trillia’s writings on issues of faith, family, and diversity have been published in the Knoxville News- Sentinel, Desiring God, True Woman, The Resurgence, The Gospel Coalition, and more. She currently is the consultant on Women’s Initiatives for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the Southern Baptist Convention. Newbelll is the Lead Editor of Karis, the women’s channel for the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Her greatest love besides God is her family. She is married to her best friend and love, Thern. They reside with their two children near Nashville, TN.

The tools for courageous conversations with your teens: A conversation with Alex Chediak

The transition to college from high school can be as intimidating as it is exciting—for both teens and parents. Looking back on my college years, I needed a lot more help than I realized. There was a TON I was just completely unprepared for, things I absolutely want my kids to be ready for if and when they take that step.

Not too long ago, I shared a few thoughts on Alex Chediak’s latest book on this subject, Preparing Your Teens for College, a book I described as one you didn’t know you needed to read until you read it. And just recently, Alex kindly took some time to answer a few questions about the book, the challenges teens face as they head to post-secondary education, and the conversation he wishes he’d had when he was 15:

AA: What motivated you to write this book?

AC: Three factors: College has never been more expensive, more students than ever are going, and a disturbingly large percentage of those students are stumbling along the way. In the U.S., we have the highest college drop-out rate in the industrialized world. The stakes are high–having a degree or credential of some kind is increasingly important in the job market–and too many students aren’t making it. Preparation is crucial.

I had already written a book for students (Thriving at College). It seemed strategic to write a companion book for parents of 12-18 year olds—those getting their teens ready not just for college but for the totality of their lives.

Why do you think so many teens are unprepared for the realities of college and adult life?

Simply put, they haven’t had enough modeling and training in what it means to take on adult responsibilities. Many parents have bought into the prevailing view that teens are inherently impetuous, reckless, and irresponsible. Why train someone when they aren’t ready to learn? But when we have low expectations for our teens, we get little in return. Adolescence gets extended.

I think the opposite error is more common among Christians: Helicopter parenting. A lot of the students I’ve seen struggle in college came from very loving families where they were treated like children all the way through high school. These teens were controlled instead of coached. In the interest of protecting them from failure or hardship, Mom and Dad stunted their development.

Here’s a quote from my book about this: “Don’t minimize your teens’ trials, but don’t solve their problems for them either. The former will make them feel weak. The latter will ensure they stay weak.”

In the book, you write about the importance of quality friendships—why does this matter so much? How have you seen this at work in the lives of your students?

Our closest friends shape our trajectory in life, particularly in the teen years as we’re entering adulthood. Proverbs 13:20 reads, “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” It’s also true that “birds of a feather flock together.” In my experience, students that are serious about learning tend to find each other. Ditto for those more interested in partying.

That’s why it’s important for our teens to assess what character qualities, what virtues, they value, and to pursue friendships with others who share those values. In high school, it’s sometimes easier because of supportive circumstances (loving parents, a strong church, a vibrant youth group). But at college, it’s tougher, particularly at secular colleges, because now you have to go out of your way to find “iron sharpening iron” (Proverbs 27:17) relationships. The easiest friendships to form aren’t necessarily the best ones. Since we ought to prepare for a test before (not during) a test, the ideal time to learn intentionality in friendships is before college.

Preparing Your Teens for College

Preparing Your Teens for College is available now. Buy it at Westminster Books or Amazon.

Think back to yourself at 15. Which of these conversations did you most need to have with your parents? Why?

In the book I describe how I failed to see any connection between my budding Christian faith and my academic work. That made it hard for me to be motivated at school. As I came to see God as the Author of all truth, to appreciate my responsibility for developing whatever God-given abilities with which I was entrusted (Matthew 25:14-30), as I came to understand that loving my neighbor required having something useful to offer, and that usefulness presupposes competence, I came to love learning.

Your kids still fairly young, so college is a fair ways off (although looming!). How are you already applying what you’ve thought through and taught in this book with your family?

The faith component is crucial. I hope, pray, and labor that my kids will experience the twin miracles of regeneration and faith, which is the best foundation for developing the character and maturity necessary for success not just in college but in life. A good tree bears good fruit. True faith necessarily leads to good works.

I’m also striving to teach them to love learning—to really enjoy the exercise of their mental faculties, as they gain mastery over subjects they didn’t previously understand. Similarly, I want them to see that while learning can be difficult, it can be done. Kids are prone to give up on a task they can’t figure out in 20 seconds. What I want them to learn in those moments is to push themselves through that initial difficulty—to assess and categorize the task, to develop strategies, to call upon fundamentals previously learned, and to (if necessary) ask for a hint instead of an answer. I try to regularly encourage them with how much they’ve already learned. I pray that all my children experience the thrill of learning.

If you can offer one encouragement to the parents who will read your book, what would it be?

The evidence is clear that a mom and dad’s involvement in a teen’s life influences them in meaningful ways. Parents, you have the potential to make an overwhelmingly positive difference in the lives of your teens. Even when they don’t seem to care, they are watching what you do and listening to what you say. And even in your stumbling you have the opportunity to model repentance, humility, and the fact that we relate to our Father on the basis of grace, not our imperfect works (which will help your teens do likewise).

I wrote Preparing Your Teens for College to give you the courage and the tools to have crucial conversations with your teens about the issues that will shape the trajectory of their lives. Even if your teens are halfway out the door, it’s not too late to make an impact. And it’s never too early to start.

Alex Chediak (Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley) is a speaker and professor of engineering and physics at California Baptist University. He is the bestselling author of Thriving at College, the recently released prequel, Preparing Your Teens for College (both with Tyndale House Publishers), and numerous articles for Christian College Guide, Boundless, and other publications. He has appeared on programs such as Focus on the Family and Family Life Today. Alex and his wife, Marni, and their three children reside in Riverside, CA. Learn more at or follow him on Twitter (@chediak).

Gospel-centered discipleship: 7 questions with Brandon Smith

Recently it was announced that Gospel-Centered Discipleship would have a new director, Brandon Smith.


Brandon is a freelance writer, with work appearing in newspaper, radio, and popular online resources such as The Gospel Coalition, Baptist Press, and Church Leaders. He is also the Associate Editor for The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood and Director of Communications at Criswell College.

Brandon kindly took a bit of time to share with me why he’s excited about his new role with GCD, his own experiences in discipleship, and what he loves about writing.

Sound Words: Listening to the Scriptures, one of the many eBooks produced by Gospel-Centered Discipleship.

1. What excites you about what’s going on with Gospel-Centered Discipleship?

Gospel-Centered Discipleship has made its mark in the past few years by offering articles and eBooks that are practitioner-tested, gospel-centered, community-shaped, and mission-focused. I’m eager to continue that trend. We have a slew of talented contributors and authors who are dedicated to advancing the gospel and helping equip the Church to do the same.

I’m also thrilled to say that we are planning to expand our ministry into exciting new territories. We are dreaming up ways to better equip local churches and their people to take the gospel to the ends of the earth, and we want to be more intentional in developing a more hands-on approach toward equipping disciples to be disciple-makers. We also see great partnerships with like-minded ministries on the horizon that will focus on all of us working together to resource the Church for Jesus’s sake. God has been good to us, and we’re only getting started!

2. Who are the people who’ve had the greatest impact on your faith? Why?

I’d say the most influential person on my life is the first pastor I ever served under. Even before I became the youth pastor on his staff, he discipled me and served me in a way that I’d never seen before. He showed me how to disciple someone in the way that Jesus did: by loving, rebuking, forgiving, and teaching. I owe much of my character as a pastor, husband, father, and friend to him.

On a broader note, the Puritans have made a large impact on me as a person. Their regard to deep doctrine leading to resilient devotion is encouraging. The rich, God-exalting way that Thomas Watson writes has particularly shaped me spiritually. The Great Gain of Godliness wrecked me, and I always encourage others to read it with a humble, prayerful heart.

[Read more…]

Bound… together? 3 questions with Chris Brauns


Recently, I reviewed Chris Brauns’ new book, Bound Together. Around the same time, I had a chance to ask Chris three questions about the book, which he kindly answered with a thoroughness I’ve rarely seen!

Check out the interview below and keep reading to see how you can win a copy of the book for yourself:

In Bound Together, you identify a serious problem—the creep of individualism into the church. How did we let things get this bad?

The question of how radical individualism made its way into the 21st century church is an important one. Answering properly would require a survey of the developments of the Enlightenment. But let me try giving a concise answer:

Radical individualism was the inevitable trajectory of the Modern Age with its emphasis on individual autonomy. Over time, the radical individualism that came to permeate the West in the modern age has affected and shaped the Church. [Read more…]

Torn to Heal: 5 questions (+ a giveaway) with Mike Leake

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Another book on suffering?

It’s so easy to write off books on this subject, especially when so many are already in print (both good and bad). But Torn to Heal: God’s Good Purpose in Suffering isn’t one to ignore.

While our culture does its best to insulate us from pain and suffering, God wants us to embrace it for his glory. Mike Leake gets that and in this book, he encourages us to face suffering not with stoic disinterest or dualistic defeatism, but with the redemptive purposes of Christ in view.

Over the last couple years I’ve gotten to know Mike thanks to the wonders of technology. He’s the associate pastor at the First Baptist Church of Jasper, Indiana, has two young kids, is pursuing his M.Div from Southern Seminary and writes a great blog at

Mike recently took a few minutes to answer some questions about the Torn to Heal, why he wrote it and how he hopes it will be a help to readers.

And keep reading to see how you can win a copy of this terrific new book.

1. What made you want to write a book on suffering?

In one sense I’ve been writing this book for years. As I’ve battled my own periods of darkness, developing a theology of suffering has been a necessity. I’ve also witnessed the truth of 2 Corinthians 1:4 first hand. As the Lord has brought comfort and healing to me I have been able to point others to the same fountain that has given life to me. On the other hand, I’ve also witnessed believers get slaughtered by unhealthy views of suffering. I believe John Piper is correct “wimpy Christians will not survive the days to come”. A robust theology of suffering is necessary.

2. Do we really need another book on suffering? What makes this one unique?

As I mentioned above I believe a sound theology of suffering is needed for everyday believers. The best book that I have read on suffering is How Long O Lord? by D.A. Carson. It’s a superb treatment of the topic of suffering. Yet if I’m being honest most people in my congregation would feel overwhelmed reading it. My hope is that Torn to Heal will give the same robust theology of suffering but in a more accessible manner.

3. In the book, you suggest that most of us view suffering from the perspective of dualism or stoicism. How does the way we view suffering affect how we approach trial?

If you view suffering from the perspective of a dualist you will avoid suffering at all cost. Yet if it’s true that this is one of the primary means that the Lord uses to bring us into conformity with Christ, we will be fighting against God’s good purpose for our lives. Viewing suffering as a stoic requires closing off sections of our hearts. A refusal to be real with suffering is often a refusal to really “let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts.” It’s a foolish denial.

The same gospel that brings healing and comfort also, by necessity, brings tearing and eventual death to our fallen inclinations. To either run from this (dualism) or deny this (stoicism) will hinder our growth in Jesus.

4. A mutual friend has said he can only write something he’s lived. As you were writing this book, how did you find God applying the truths you were laying out?

Though there might be seasons where it is less intense, suffering is the lot of those living outside of a fully redeemed Eden. As such there is never a time when these truths cannot be applied. For me specifically there are wounds from my past that the Lord is calling me to radically trust Him in. Wounds which require opening up (which means not being a stoic) and wounds which must be viewed from the perspective of eternity.

5. How do you hope your book is going to benefit readers?

My goal for the book is that it would help believers develop a healthy view of suffering and then not be surprised when we have to use it. Someone asked me awhile back if this would be a book that you could hand to someone that was in the furnace of suffering. That kind of depends. If it’s a season of very intense (Job-like) suffering then the last thing people need is a book. They need presence; your presence and chiefly the presence of the Almighty.

Yet at the same time I believe this book can be immensely helpful to those suffering. I believe it was Dr. Schreiner who has said the greatest weapon in suffering is good theology… or something like that. I pray that this book equips people to trust His hand as we endure various trials. I pray that the Lord uses it to give hope to those that feel hopeless. And more than anything I pray that the Lord is honored and glorified.

In partnership with Cruciform Press, this week I’m giving away five copies of Torn to Heal. To enter to win a copy, use the handy-dandy PunchTab app and answer the following question in the comments:

How have you seen God at work in your life through trial and suffering?

This giveaway ends Friday at midnight.

Suffering and God’s Glory: A Conversation with Tullian Tchividjian


Recently I had the opportunity to review Tullian Tchividjian’s new book, Glorious Ruin: How Suffering Sets You Free (read the review here). This powerful new book is among the most helpful I’ve read on the subject of suffering because of Tchividjian’s focus on the question of who is with us amid our trials. Glorious Ruin unpacks this fundamental question—“the only [one] God has seen fit to answer, concretely, in the person and work of Jesus Christ” (25).

Thanks to the miracle of technology, Tullian and I had an opportunity to sit down and chat about the book. The result was a 25 plus minute conversation where we discussed:

  • the need for the book;
  • the difference between being theologians of glory and theologians of the cross;
  • suffering honestly as Christians; and
  • Tullian’s hopes for the book.

Rather than give you chunks of the conversation, I wanted to give you the whole thing (with only the most minor edits). I hope you’ll find the discussion helpful. When you’re done, I trust you will purchase a copy of the book for yourself, which is available now at Amazon and WTS Books among other book resellers. You’ll be thankful you did.

Parenting to the Glory of God

A couple months back, I had the chance to sit down with fellow Cruciform Press author Tad Thompson to talk about his book,  Intentional Parenting: Family Discipleship by Design. In this interview we discuss Tad’s reasons for writing the book, how the gospel applies to parenting and how he hopes readers will be encouraged:

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Intentional Parenting is available through, Amazon and several of your favorite Christian book sellers.

The Gospel and the Organized Heart

About a year ago, I received a copy of Staci Eastin’s book, The Organized Heart: A Woman’s Guide to Conquering Chaos, which I joyfully gave to my wife as a gift (which she appreciated because, a. she loves organization and b. she loves books almost as much as I do). She found the book so helpful she kindly reviewed it here in her first parachute vlog.

While at Together for the Gospel in April, 2012, Staci and I sat down to discuss the book. In our interview, we talk about her reasons for writing The Organized Heart, how the gospel applies to organization and what she hopes readers will learn through the book. Take a look:

The Organized Heart is now available at, Amazon, WTS Books and a number of other online book stores.

Fear and Fear Not: Talking The Two Fears with Chris Poblete

For the Christian, the fear of the Lord does not diminish the gospel of grace; it amplifies it. This reverential fear makes his grace more amazing, his mercy more grand, his justice more right, and his love more astounding. The deeper our understanding of what it means to fear a holy God, the better able we will be to fear him as he ought to be feared, and the better able we will be to worship him as he ought to be worshiped.

Chris Poblete, The Two Fears: Tremble Before God Alone

Recently Chris Poblete and I sat down to discuss his new book from Cruciform Press, The Two Fears: Tremble Before God Alone. In this interview, we discuss his reasons for writing the book, whether or not “fear” is consistent with the gospel and what Chris hopes readers will take away from the book:

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Order a copy of the book at Cruciform Press or Amazon.


The Trinity and Adoption: A Quick Chat with Tim Chester #T4ACon

Tim Chester and I sat down for a preview of his talk at Together for Adoption on the Trinity and adoption:

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I’d encourage you to get any of Tim’s books—here are a few to check out:

Gospel Centred Family

Total Church: A Radical Reshaping around Gospel and Community (with Steve Timmis)

A Meal with Jesus: Discovering Grace, Community, and Mission around the Table

Delighting in the Trinity

Many thanks to Tim for taking the time to chat with me for this impromptu video—I hope you’ll check out his books. They’ll be a great blessing to you.

Reformed & Reforming: 3 Questions with Carl Trueman

Recently I had the opportunity to read and review Carl Trueman’s excellent little book, Reformation. Following the review, I had the chance to ask Dr. Trueman three questions about the book and his own appreciation for Reformation theology:

1. What do you most appreciate about the theology of the Reformers on a personal level? Is there any particular point at which you would diverge from their basic principles?

Justification by grace through faith. It is the only thing that makes it possible to really live as a Christian. The day I first understood that doctrine, it was as if a great millstone had been lifted off my back. I felt like Christian at the foot of the cross in Pilgrim’s Progress.

On divergence: given the Reformers themselves were quite diverse on numerous points, it is difficult to generalize. I disagree with Luther on the nature of Christ’s presence in the Lord’s Supper and on the helpfulness of images of Christ. I disagree with Zwingli in his more radical statements on the mere memorialism of the Lord’s Supper. With Calvin, I have little in the way of any disagreement. Of the three, Luther, though, is by far my favourite. His humanity is so clear in so much that he writes and does.

2. Looking back on Reformation and the lecture series that birthed it, do you believe there’s a greater or lesser need for recovering an appreciation for Reformation theology?

There is always a need for promoting the great emphases of the Reformation: scripture, grace, faith. What is Christianity without these? I am encouraged that the so-called Young, Restless and Reformed seem to be picking up on much of this, though a little concerned that the movement may be carried along by personalities and trendiness rather than truth. That is a concern, though, not a positive claim. Only time will tell what real depth the movement has.

3.  Is there anything in the book you would state differently?

Probably! Since writing the book, I have spent a decade in the USA, so my perspective has no doubt shifted on many things. I think the most significant, though, would be those matters I highlight in the new preface: today, I would temper my comments on preaching to make a little more room for application, I would stress the importance of ecclesiology, and I would encourage a greater appreciation of the creeds and confessions of the church as a vital resource for healthy church life and order.

Many thanks to Carl Trueman for taking the time to answer these questions and to Christian Focus for making it possible. If you haven’t had an opportunity, I’d highly encourage getting a copy of Reformation. It will be a wonderful addition to your library and a terrific investment into your own faith and ministry.

Countering the Counterfeits: Trevin Wax on Counterfeit Gospels

Trevin Wax is a pastor, editor at Lifeway, blogger at Kingdom People, and the author of Holy Subversion (Crossway, 2010) and the soon to be released, Counterfeit Gospels (Moody, 2011). Yesterday, I posted my review of the book, and today, Trevin has kindly agreed to answer a few questions related to it and what he hopes readers will learn from it.

What made you decide to write Counterfeit Gospels?

About a year after I wrote Holy Subversion, I began work on a second book proposal that highlights the fact that truth is beautiful precisely because it’s true. The editors at Moody were intrigued by the “beautiful truth” proposal, but they encouraged me to apply that idea to the gospel specifically rather than just the beauty of Christian teaching in general.

As I got to work on Counterfeit Gospels, I had two goals in mind:

  1. I wanted this book to present a compelling view of the biblical gospel so that common counterfeits would be less attractive.
  2. I wanted to deal with common counterfeits that are attractive to me and the people in my local church. I wanted to look deeply into our hearts and root out those counterfeits that tug at us in some way. In other words, I didn’t want this book to be: “What’s wrong with everyone out there?” but “What counterfeits are affecting me in here, in my own heart and life?” What are the counterfeits that we encounter on television, in bookstores, in conversation, in church? In short, I wanted the book to be pastoral in tone and intent.

How do these counterfeits get started?

It depends on the counterfeit.

Some counterfeits get started because we are uneasy with the idea of not fitting in culturally. So downplaying the notion of judgment (“the judgmentless gospel”) or uniting around social causes (“the activist gospel”) enable us to maintain bits and pieces of Christian ethics while drifting from the offense of a bloody cross at the heart of our faith. [Read more…]

5 Questions (Plus One) with Dan Darling

Daniel Darling is the Senior Pastor of Gages Lake Bible Church in the northwest suburbs of Chicago and is the author of Teen People of the BibleCrash Course, and iFaith (reviewed here on Tuesday). His work has been featured in evangelical publications such as Focus on the Family, Marriage Partnership, Pray!, In Touch with Dr. Charles Stanley. His op-eds have appeared in Newsweek/Washington Posts’ On Faith section and other newspapers and opinion sites. He’s also been profiled by The Chicago Tribune, and appeared on TV and radio outlets across America including Steve Brown, etc, Moody Broadcasting Network, Harvest TelevisionThe Sandy Rios Show, American Family Radio, and many others.

Today, Dan’s been kind enough to answer a few questions about his new book—and he’s also offered two signed copies to give away today. Read on to learn how you can win a copy.

And now, here’s Dan:

1. What made you decide to write iFaith? Was there one specific event or was it a series of small things that led to the decision?

It was born out of several years of reflection on the impact of technology on my own personal walk with God. Initially I had this idea for a devotional, “Emails to God,” – like what would we say if we could send God an email. Then it started me on a journey of thinking how we moderns contemplate our relationship with God—positively and negatively. Then the chapters and ideas began to just really flow.

2. As you were writing, how was God working on you in these areas?

Oh, He was working on me in incredible ways. My wife often jokes that whenever I embark on a book, we go through some degree of suffering. It’s almost like God has to wring me through the lesson before I can put it on paper. The first chapter on the subject of waiting was something I really saw worked out in my own life and in my theology. During the writing of that chapter, Angela and I were waiting on several things. I realized how integral waiting is to God’s development of our faith.

I enjoy writing because it forces me into the Word to discover the truth about myself and about who God is.

3. You write that a common belief plaguing believers is the superhero mentality; that is, “the mistaken idea that activity for God is a worthy substitute for intimacy with God.” (p. 81) If this is something that’s come up in your own life & ministry, can you share how you were able to get beyond it?

I’m not sure we ever get beyond this. It’s the holy tension between work and dependency on God. On one level, working hard for God is a biblical, New Testament ethic. And besides the holy calling of building up the body of Christ, work itself is an end, it’s a form of worship. But on the other hand, Christians easily fall into that superhero mentality of Elijah, where we feel like the entire plan of God rests upon our feeble shoulders. We adopt a martyr mentality. And this is really prideful. It is essentially stripping God of HIs sovereignty. [Read more…]