Parents Who Pastor


Today’s post is by Joey Cochran. Joey is married to Kendall, has two children (Chloe and Asher), and serves as a pastor at Fellowship Bible Church Tulsa. Joey blogs regluarly at Follow him on Twitter at @JoeyCochran.

We are parents before we are pastors. I do not mean to say that every pastor has a child before he takes up the vocation of pastoring. Nor do I mean to say that you have to be a parent to be a pastor. However, it is interesting to observe that the norm and expectation in 1 Timothy and Titus is that an elder is one who is married and has children. I do not wish to get into the minutia of elder/pastor distinctions, qualifications and roles. What I do intend to illustrate is that for the parent-pastor, the primary and prerequisite ministry as a pastor is the ministry as the parent.

The day that I wrote this guest post for Aaron happens to be a Sunday. And on this morning before I ever pulled into my parking spot at the Church, I parented my daughter before I pastored God’s people. I carried her downstairs from her bed. I served her breakfast. I disciplined her for impolite behavior and I commended her for correcting her attitude. I held her and I kissed her goodbye. Of course I did not parent alone. My beautiful bride and help-mate partnered with me in this task, but it is critical that I played a crucial role in the process. I do not wish for my daughter to grow up thinking, “Daddy is the pastor. Mommy is the parent.”

No, pastors have without excuse for abdicating the role of parenting. In spite of how busy a pastor’s schedule is, how many meetings, programs and lessons to teach, counseling sessions and elder meetings to attend, the pastor must shepherd his home well before he can shepherd God’s church.

My first exposure to the work of Douglas Wilson was many years ago when our young married’s small groups studied Reforming Marriage. In this short and extremely helpful book Wilson explains, “Because the husband is the head of the wife, he finds himself in a position of inescapable leadership. He cannot successfully refuse to lead. If he attempts to abdicate in some way, he may, through his rebellion, lead poorly (Wilson, 24).” In like manner, the parent who pastors is either an excellent parent or a poor parent, but they are a parent nonetheless. Each time the pastor does not find it opportune for their child to need parenting, and thus passes on the responsibility to his spouse it sends a blaring message to his children that they were not important enough to experience tough love. But remarkably tough love is where our children experience the fullest picture of fatherhood. Moreover, as children experience the tough love of their earthly father they can best understand the oft-misunderstood character of God the Father in the Old Testament.

So, parent who pastors, parent your child in the foyer of the Church, in the hallway outside your office, in the parking lot, at the restaurant, in the park, at the zoo, in the retail center, and especially in your home. Correct the behavior and commend the corrected behavior. Love well and cherish your children. This is a model to the church, who desperately needs a parenting model today more than another class on how to count to three.

Links I Like

Reason to Believe

Greg Forster:

The Lord used one paragraph of text to convert me. He used a lot of other things, too—my conversion was a long and messy process, and the Lord really put me through the wringer over a period of years. But it all hinged on a key moment when I read one paragraph that changed my life.

Looking Out for Number One (Pt. 1)

Joe Thorn:

I must have read The Satanic Bible a dozen times as a teen. It resonated with me on a very deep level, appealing to my flesh and selfish interests. The more I read it the more it felt like what I had always believed. It exalts self, puts others second, and removes God from the picture altogether. In some ways it reflects the culture I find here in my own city. You see it in yours as well. It is expressed in a more positive way, but you know it when you hear it. Perhaps most succinctly and commonly we confess this false religion when we say “I’m looking out for number one!” And we all immediately know who “number one” is, don’t we? You see, this is not just a sin of the Satanists. They are just honest about it. It’s not just a problem in the world. We are guilty of this as well.

Why the Chick-fil-A Boycott is Really about Jesus

Trevin Wax:

As weary as we may be of the culture wars, the Chick-fil-A controversy is a harbinger of further ostracism to come. In the United States, the words of Jesus are coming to pass for those who hold tightly to His vision of sexuality: You will be hated because of Me. 

The Hole in Our Holiness

Justin Taylor and Kevin DeYoung discuss his upcoming book:

[tentblogger-vimeo 46292533]

You can pre-order Kevin’s new book now from Amazon for under $10.

Vacation Fun

This week I’m near Hastings, Ontario, enjoying a very rustic cabin, some fun riding around in my dad’s fishing boat, reading, and, of course spending some time with the family. Here’s a few highlights of our time away so far:

One of my three catches #fishing

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

The second catch of the day (the last one was a bass).

Abigail's first fish (w/her Granddad)

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

 Abigail smiling with glee as she looks at her very first fish; her granddad looks just as thrilled.

Chilling in the tent

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

What does Hudson like to do best at this point? Chill in the tent. Mission accomplished.

Hannah loves sparklers

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

And then there’s Hannah, our child with no fear. While we missed out getting some photos of our tubing ride, we did get a nice shot of her looking gleefully at a sparkler (held by her aunt Becky). If only I’d got a picture of her digging into a s’more…

That’s all from vacation-land for now.

Have you taken some time off this summer? What’s been a highlight?

Links I Like

You Are Not Called to Be the Lone Ranger

Chris De Man:

After more than 30 years, the scar is nearly faded. It’s small and straight, nestled just above the knuckle on my left index finger. A quiet reminder of friendship.

Themelios 37.2

The Gospel Coalition just released the latest issue of Themelios as a 263-page PDF and in HTML.

The Pitfalls and the Promise of Expository Preaching

Kevin DeYoung, in part one of a three part series:

No doubt, most readers of this blog are proponents of expository preaching. And yet, it’s one thing to be a fan and another to be a practitioner. I wonder if more of us think we love expository preaching than actually do it well or know what it looks like.

Cheap eBooks

The Enemy Within: Straight Talk About the Power and Defeat of Sin by Kris Lundgaard – $2.99

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis – $4.49

The Top Ten Mistakes Leaders Make by Hans Finzel – $1.99

Don’t Just Say You Want to Read More: Plan!

The #t4g12 book pile

A photo posted by Aaron Armstrong (@aaronstrongarm) on

“That seems like a lot of reading… how do you do it?”

This question was brought to the front of my mind once again thanks to a discussion on Twitter where I revealed I’ve read 67 books so far in 2012.1

Apparently this is a lot.

As readers here know, I read a lot, and although I have my moments when I wonder whether or not books can become a burden, the more I have to read the better. But reading 10, 20, 50 or 100+ books a year doesn’t just happen.

It takes planning.

Because I have a lot going on in life (family, work, writing, study, etc.), it can be a bit daunting to add new things to my plate—in order to do something, I usually have to stop doing something else. And it all requires a plan.

So what’s mine? It’s actually pretty simple:

I try to set aside at least 30-45 minutes a day to read.

The average person reads between 250 words per minute, which works out to roughly 3/4-1 page each minute. In general, I find that I’m pretty average in this regard. Some books I whip through much faster, others I really carefully take my time with. Increasingly I’m trying to vary content so I don’t start skimming unnecessarily. I’ll jump from a book on business to one on theology to a classic work of fiction and so on.

But just like my personal study time, my reading time is one of the few chunks of time I try to guard. For me, this time is immensely helpful for my mental, emotional and spiritual health (not surprising since I’m an introvert).

It’s part of the culture of our home as well, a habit we’re trying to encourage in our children as well. Currently my oldest daughter and I are working through The Chronicles of Narnia series and every night, she keeps asking what’s going to happen next. That’s something I want to encourage and keep her going with.

So we plan to do it.

And if you want to read more, you need to plan to do it, too.

So, here’s my challenge for you (and it’s one I’ve issued in the past):

Set aside 30 minutes every day for the next week and read… well, read whatever will be beneficial for you. 30 minutes a day isn’t a lot of time and you’ll wind up reading a roughly 200 page book in about a week.

How do you do it? Here are three ways you can carve out 30 minutes:

  1. Cut out 30 minutes of TV a day
  2. Look for “dead space” in your schedule; you’ve probably got at least one hour a day that could be used
  3. Read with a friend or with a group (something Tim Challies does a great job of facilitating on his blog)

The point is this: However, you set up your day, plan to read, otherwise you won’t do it. Guard your time, otherwise you won’t do it.

Take up the challenge. Make a plan and get reading.

Links I Like

It Wasn’t Supposed To Be This Way

Mark Altrogge:

“…it wasn’t supposed to be this way. We did everything we were supposed to do. We taught our children the Bible. We took them to church. We told them about Jesus. We prayed for them. And then my son winds up getting a girl pregnant and having to get married. It just wasn’t supposed to be this way.”

Two Persistent Lies about Chick-fil-a in the Press

Denny Burk:

As I have been watching the controversy about Chick-fil-a over the past week, I have been struck by the persistence of two lies about Chick-fil-a that have been perpetuated through a variety of media outlets. Most of the time, the lies are reported as quotations from another source, but they are rarely challenged or fact-checked by the one reporting the story.

 Some Basic Thoughts About Manhood: Work

Thabiti Anyabwile:

How often have we heard the preacher say, “The first thing God gives Adam is a job”?  The insinuation being every man should work.  Well, there’s some truth in that, though we might want to hold off on quick judgments about what constitutes work and what kinds of work are “manly.”

How the New Testament Describes Salvation

Dane Ortlund:

Here are the more important descriptions, with the sphere of life from which they are drawn noted.


“The” vs. “An”

One of the reasons I am always nervous about speaking or writing about eschatology (that is, theology concerning the future return of Christ and the final events of history), is because of questions like, “Is so-and-so the Antichrist?”

Maybe it’s Obama. Or maybe Oprah. Or maybe Cheney. Or…

If you Google “Is <blank> the antichrist,” (please don’t) you’re almost certainly going to find a massive list of web pages ranging from hilarious to depressing and disturbing.

Sometimes I wonder how much all of this speculation really comes down to a grammar issue; specifically, a confusion between definite and indefinite articles.

When we’re talking about prominent figures of our day and asking if they’re “the antichrist,” maybe it’s helpful to ask if we mean “the” or “an.” While we do see references to the man of lawlessness in 2 Thess. 2:3 and the false prophet of Revelation that are often connected in our theology to “the” antichrist, we also would be wise to consider John’s epistle in fleshing out our understanding of the idea of an antichrist:

Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. (1 John 2:18)

When reading John’s epistle, it seems that he is working hard to strike a balance between the picture of the representative of the evil one (man of lawlessness/man of sin/false prophet) and a broader understanding of the term “antichrist,” one that in our time we may have overlooked. Broadly, the term “antichrist” means anyone “who denies that Jesus is the Christ” (1 John 2:22). Those who deny the Father and the Son, John later tells us in the same verse, they are antichrist.

While this is a pretty broad definition, it’s helpful to keep in mind whenever that question of “is so-and-so the antichrist” comes up. Whether you’re questioning if it’s a politician or a media mogul, you’ve got to ask: Are they THE representative of the evil one, the one who will be revealed just before the Day of the Lord?

And the answer is… probably not.

But they may well be AN antichrist. Their words and their practice may be so opposed to Jesus that the only appropriate description of them is “antichrist.” They are deniers of the Lord and signs of the end being near (just as they were in the time of the Apostles). But being AN antichrist and THE antichrist… those are very different things. When we understand the difference, it helps us better understand what’s going on in the world and allows us to serve as better witnesses to the grace of God—treating the opponents of Christ with mercy, even as we plead with them to repent. But when we get the two mixed up, things get messy really quickly.

“The” is not the same as “an.” Whatever you do, don’t confuse the two.

Links I Like

An Open Letter to Homo sapiens

Tim Kimberley:

Dear Homo sapiens,

This has been a rather unfortunate week for you. . . . A vile disease spread through your species this week. I don’t see it as frequently as in prior times and prior places but for some reason it struck twice this week. Please heed immediate caution. If you desire the Olympic games to go smoothly, do your best to eradicate the spread of this disease. If honesty continues to spread there will be no limit to its brutality.

Adoniram Judson: How Few There Are Who Die So Hard!

Desiring God:

Originally an address to pastors, Piper’s biography of Judson is now available in a short e-book that leads us to ask the same challenging question, “Might God be calling you to fill up what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ, to fall like a grain of wheat into some distant ground and die, to hate your life in this world and so to keep it forever and bear much fruit?”

Sin-created walls

Ray Ortlund:

Churches with the discernment (there are biblical limits to our elasticity) and courage (wall-cracking is always criticized) to unite people from both Americas, as one under Jesus, will exert prophetic influence.  Churches limited to one America or the other, however sincere, will have less impact.

10 Reasons You Should Read the Book of Job

Jonathan Parnell:

God is sovereign and he is good. These are the twin theological pillars of childlike faith. Bigger and smarter than we are, all that God does is aimed at our benefit in Christ. But as simple as it seems, this truth isn’t always easy to embrace.

The Door Will One Day Be Forever Shut


The Lord Jesus says to us all, “Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness come upon you. While you have light believe in the light.” . . . The lesson of the words is generally applicable to the whole professing Church of Christ. Its time for doing good in the world is short and limited. The throne of grace will not always be standing–it will be removed one day, and the throne of judgment will be set up in its place. The door of salvation by faith in Christ will not always be open–it will be shut one day forever, and the number of God’s elect will be completed. The fountain for all sin and uncleanness will not always be accessible; the way to it will one day be barred, and there will remain nothing but the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.

These are solemn thoughts; but they are true. They cry aloud to sleeping Churchmen and drowsy congregations, and ought to arouse great searchings of heart. “Can nothing more be done to spread the Gospel at home and abroad? Has every means been tried for extending the knowledge of Christ crucified? Can we lay our hands on our hearts, and say that the Churches have left nothing undone in the matter of missions? Can we look forward to the Second Advent with no feelings of humiliation, and say that the talents of wealth, and influence, and opportunities have not been buried in the ground?” Such questions may well humble us, when we look, on one side, at the state of professing Christendom, and, on the other, at the state of the heathen world. We must confess with shame that the Church is not walking worthy of its light.

J.C. Ryle, The Gospel of John

Incline My Heart to Your Testimonies


Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart (Psalm 119:2)

Oh! how many seek, and seek in vain, for no other reason, than because they do not “seek Him with the whole heart!” The worldling’s “heart is divided; now shall he be found faulty.” The professor “with his mouth shows much love; but his heart goes after his covetousness.” The backslider “has not turned unto Me with his whole heart, but feignedly, says the Lord.” The faithful, upright believer alone brings his heart, his whole heart, to the Lord: “When You said, Seek my face, my heart said unto You, Your face, Lord, will I seek.” For he only has found an object, that attracts and fills his whole heart, and, if he had a thousand hearts, would attract and fill them all. He has found his way to God by faith in Jesus. In that way he continues to seek. His whole heart is engaged to know and love more and more. Here alone the blessing is enjoyed, and the promise made good: “You shall seek Me, and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart.”

But let me not shrink from the question, Do I “keep His testimonies” from constraint, or from love? Surely when I consider my own natural aversion and enmity to the law of God, and the danger of self-deception in the external service of the Lord, I have much need to pray-“Incline my heart to Your testimonies. Give me understanding-save me, and I shall keep Your testimonies.” And if they are blessed, who seek the Lord with their whole heart, how am I seeking Him? Alas! with how much distraction! with how little heart-work! Oh! let me “seek His strength” in order to “seek His face.”

Charles Bridges, Exposition Of Psalm 119

How Did Luke Use The OT in His Writing?


Have you ever noticed when you’re reading one of the gospels or an epistle and, after seeing a reference to an Old Testament passage, you find yourself going, “How does that fit?” The application of the passage makes sense and “feels” right, but you’re not sure why the author chose that particular reference or when you go back to the original passage you start getting confused.

This makes perfect sense because (let’s face it) there can be a great deal of confusion in how the New Testament authors used the Old if we don’t understand how and why they’re using it.

Consider Luke:

  1. What was his approach to reading the Old Testament?
  2. What themes were being communicated in his references to the Old Testament?

In his recently released volume in Zondervan’s Biblical Theology of the New Testament series, A Theology of Luke and Acts, Darrell L. Bock provides a wealth of information to help us better understand Luke’s approach in his insightful examination of Luke’s use of the Old Testament.

“In everything Luke does, a key frame is the teaching and promise of Scripture, for Luke’s claim is that this seemingly new faith realizes promises of old that God made to his people,” Bock writes (p. 408), noting that a review of Luke-Acts reveals three fundamental beliefs undergirding Luke’s interpretative approach: [Read more…]

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Field Guide for Volatile Topics

Darryl Dash:

My guess is that the skill of dealing with volatile topics is going to become even more important than it is now. I’d love to hear your ideas on how we can do so.

$5 Friday at Ligonier

This week’s selections includes Dr. Sproul’s The Book of Joshua teaching series (download), Reclaiming Adoption: Missional Living Through the Rediscovery of Abba Father by Dan Cruver (paperback), Sammy and His Shepherd by Sally Hunt (audiobook CD), among many other items. Sale ends at midnight (Eastern Time).

10 Books (and One Letter) Every New Calvinist Needs to Read

Keith Mathison:

When I first discovered Reformed theology, I was a student at Dallas Theological Seminary. I didn’t know what I should read first as I attempted to learn more. I was on my own.

Recent years have witnessed large numbers of people travelling the same path I travelled twenty years ago. In the interest of saving them time, money, and bad authors, I offer here a suggested reading list for those who are new to the Reformed faith and who wish to know where to begin in their studies.

Announcing RefNet: 24-hour Christian Internet Radio

Chris Larson:

We live in a time where there is a proliferation of edifying media available on the web for the Christian, but there isn’t a clear way to aggregate this media into a produced, filtered format. Simply putting everything on the web doesn’t mean everyone will find it. Yes, some people want an à la carte approach with choosing from a multiplicity of podcasts or searching through long lists and that works well for them. Yet others want an always-on streaming approach. As we see it, the Christian community has only just begun to tap the internet’s potential for spreading trustworthy biblical teaching to every nation, tribe, and language on this earth.

It’s for these reasons that we have created Ligonier’s newest outreach: we call it RefNet.

3 Reasons I’m Excited About My Vacation

This weekend we head off into the wilds of eastern Ontario for the third annual Armstrong family vacation (a tradition my father has started in recent years). Here are a few reasons I’m excited about this year’s trip:

Getting away from the regular routine.

Don’t get me wrong—I love my normal routine (when I get a good one going, I’m a happy camper). But sometimes a break is really helpful to give me some space and see where God might have me make some changes. In fact, this year, there have already been a rather large number of changes in my full-time job (I’m now leading people, which is kind of crazy), and the impact of those changes are going to be working themselves out throughout the rest of the year (and probably beyond). So this week’s going to be a great opportunity to get away and refocus, re-prioritize and probably repent.

Reading made easier.

This year is the first time we’ve been able to go on vacation without me bringing a great pile of books—instead, I’ll be bringing my Kindle (and probably my iPad, too). This has the advantage of making packing a whole lot easier, and gives us a lighter load. What do I anticipate reading?

I might bring along one physical book, Saved by Grace by Anthony Hoekema, but aside from that, I’m planning on reading Wednesdays were Pretty Normal: A Boy, Cancer, And God by Michael Kelley, and if I have time, maybe cracking into The Hobbit or Out of the Silent Planet, the first book of C.S. Lewis’ Space Trilogy (I haven’t decided which if either, though).

(In case you hadn’t noticed, I’m really trying to shake up some of my reading habits this year.)

Spending time with family.

This year’s going be be a lot of fun since it’s Hudson’s first time out and his Granddad and Nanny Rhoda haven’t spent hardly any time with him at all. It’ll be nice to see how they all interact, and to see the bigger kids, Abigail and Hannah, have fun fishing off the dock (if they get up the courage to do so) and hang out with their cousin, Kirsten. And because our extended family aren’t Christians, this week gives us a lot of opportunities for good conversations, to be positive witnesses and, Lord willing, have opportunities to share the gospel.

Got vacation plans? What are you looking forward to?

Links I Like

Connecting with the Connected Generation

My friends at truthXchange recently let me know they’ve been offered a $30,000 matching grant through October 31st. Here’s a short word from the generous donor putting up the grant:

As we offer this matching grant challenge for truthXchange, we would like to share with you how the ministry of Dr. Peter Jones has changed our lives by equipping us to understand the rapidly changing spiritual climate of our culture and many of our churches. Already aware that a radical spiritual transition was taking over western culture in general, we grew more concerned, even alarmed, when we began to see a trend in some evangelical circles to exchange Scriptural foundations in biblical theism and doctrinal clarity for the inner spirituality of mystical experience.

If you’re not familiar with truthXchange, check out this video and please give to help out this very helpful ministry:

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Wise foolishness

Barnabas Piper:

It is overwhelming to be a Christian in times like these. We face the catastrophe in Aurora, Colo., the mess in State College, Pa., and the forthcoming presidential race that appears likely to be a bloodbath, an economic downturn, and numerous other crises national and international and personal. And not a single one of these can be ignored. We must respond lest we fail to represent the care and mind of Jesus for His creation, but to respond well seems like a nearly impossible task.

What is more, the message of hope, the foundation of our faith is nonsense to so many. As 1 Corinthians 1:18 says, “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those are perishing …” (NKJV). So here we are seeking to wisely and sagely respond to life-shattering crises, yet we are reminded that the very basis of our entire belief system is but foolishness to the majority of those we are seeking to help. How are we to respond?

5 Myths about Reformed Theology

Michael Horton:

Calvinists can be pains in the neck. I should know—I’ve been one myself on occasion. Yet, it is a terrific irony that a theology that so exalts God and lays human beings low before his majesty and grace should be championed sometimes with a spirit that contradicts it.

There are a lot of misconceptions about Reformed theology. I tackle these at length in For Calvinism. Here I’ve been asked to address a few of these in a nutshell.

Why are we not sending out African missionaries?

Conrad Mbewe:

One experience that often refreshes my heart when I visit the USA is when I meet Christians telling me that they are sensing a call to go as missionaries to Africa or Asia and are actively praying and preparing to that end. I often ask myself the question, “Why don’t I hear this back home? Why are our own people not thinking about taking the gospel to far away lands that desperately need to hear the good news of Jesus Christ? Doesn’t God want to use Africans in missions too?”