Three lessons from shutting down our home business

Ten years ago, I purchased my first domain name and web hosting package. Emily and I were fresh out of school and ready to take on the world as graphic designers for hire. Earlier this year, we shuttered it for good.

Between running this blog, writing books, raising a family with three very young children, serving in our church, facilitating a small group, creating stock art, and—oh yeah!—my day job, it was pretty clear something had to give. And the thing that lost was the business. Here are three things we learned in the process:

1. We really didn’t love being graphic designers.

Emily is a tremendous illustrator. I’m a pretty okay writer. Neither of us really has a passion for designing things. The skills we learned are helpful and I still use them from time-to-time for little projects here and there, but there’s nothing in us that says “we must design!”

(There is, however, something in Emily that makes her draw funny octopuses [octopi?] and angler fish for iStock.)

2. Life will always change more than you think it will.

This is true whether you’re buying a house, a car, signing up for a cell phone package, or running a business. You know that whole list I mentioned above? None of that was in our lives a decade ago. But a lot changes in 10 years, which is a very good thing.

My original life plan was to draw comic books. My revised plan was to work in the design business, move up the ladder as quickly as I could, and then tell other people what to do.

I do none of those things.

Emily wasn’t planning to be a stay-at-home mom when we graduated from school. She wasn’t sure she even wanted to have kids for a long time. And now she spends the bulk of her days caring for our merry brood (even when they’re not so merry).

3. God always provides in ways we don’t expect.

When we started the business, we really needed the money. We were broke fresh-out-of-college kids. We continued to really need to money for a long time. Or at least we thought we did.

Now, not so much. And it’s not because we subscribe to any sort of prosperity theology drivel. God’s not raining 5-dolla-bills into our living room right now.

Instead, we’ve seen Him do some pretty cool things. Sometimes it’s been in through surprising acts of generosity. There have been a few times (especially early on in our walk with Jesus) where God did indeed provide the money we needed exactly when we needed it. But more consistently, it’s been a heart change that He’s been bringing about.

He’s been slowly driving home a clear point about the attitude we ought to have about money: Contentment. Whether facing scarcity or plenty, we’re increasingly content with what God’s provided—because it’s all we really need. And because He is good, it’s good enough for us.

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Satan, Sauron, and the Blindness of Evil

Barnabas Piper:

In His his wonderful new book, On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis, Lou Markos has some profound and beautiful things to say about the nature of good and evil. On portion that particularly stands out in my mind is in chapter 15, “Blinded by the Light” in which he exposes the inability of evil to stand before the light of good, or even to understand it. Markos masterfully unwraps the layers of this reality.

Three Bedrock Convictions

Darryl Dash:

In the process of planting a church, there are three verses that I keep thinking about. These verses help keep me focused on what matters most, and they also keep me on my knees. Here they are.

What You Teach Really, Really Matters

Jon Bloom:

When it comes to people being saved, it all hangs on what they believe. So when it comes to teaching, heaven and hell are in the balance. What you teach people really, really matters. You will be judged by what comes out of your mouth and your keyboard. And you will be judged more strictly than others.

Should I Respond To This Comment?

Mike Leake:

Early on in my ministry (both writing and in the local church) I felt the need to respond to every criticism. Now I do not. Awhile back I spent some time thinking through how to determine whether or not to respond to a critique. Mostly, this is dealing with online discussions but it has application with a few minor tweaks to local church ministry as well. These three categories have helped me, perhaps they will help you as well.

Vanity of the world

Jesus-Reaching-Out

God gives his mercies to be spent; your hoard will do your soul no good. Gold is a blessing only lent, repaid by giving others food.

The world’s esteem is but a bribe, to buy their peace you sell your own; the slave of a vainglorious tribe, who hate you while they make you known.

The joy that vain amusements give, oh! sad conclusion that it brings! The honey of a crowded hive, defended by a thousand stings.

‘Tis thus the world rewards the fools that live upon her treacherous smiles: she leads them blindfold by her rules, and ruins all whom she beguiles.

God knows the thousands who go down from pleasure into endless woe; and with a long despairing groan blaspheme the Maker as they go.

Oh fearful thought! be timely wise; delight but in a Saviour’s charms, and God shall take you to the skies, embraced in everlasting arms.

William Cowper

How can your church be more evangelistic?

I really appreciated this discussion between Darrin Patrick, Mark Dever, and Matt Chandler on how churches can grow in evangelism. I really resonate with the challenge expressed—especially that it gets harder the longer you’re a Christian since you often increasingly have fewer non-Christian friends (and in my case, all my co-workers are Christians), and it’s easy to slip into a mind set of “well, I’m not good at it, so I won’t do it.”

This is a frequent point of discussion in our home as it’s tempting to think there’s some formula or set program you have to follow. But the most helpful thing to remember about evangelism is that a lot of it happens in the day-to-day through intentional relationships in your neighborhood. My wife is great at this (though she doesn’t necessarily believe me). She’s building friendships with other parents, being open about her faith, and sharing the gospel (either in part or in whole) whenever an opportunity presents itself.

The best part is, none of it’s forced. There’s no plotting or contriving of scenarios. Which is probably the best way for it to happen, isn’t it?

If you’re interested in some good, practical books on the subject, here are three I’d recommend:

Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God by J.I. Packer: Amazon | WTS Books

The Soul Winner by Charles Spurgeon: Amazon | WTS Books

The Gospel and Personal Evangelism by Mark Dever: Amazon | WTS Books

Questions to consider (and answer in the comments if you so choose):

  • What have your experiences been like with evangelism?
  • How evangelistic is your church’s culture?
  • In what ways can you encourage a greater emphasis on evangelism within your community?

We are moving through, pilgrims and strangers

Martyn Lloyd-Jones

Whether we like it or not, life itself has a way of forcing us all to consider what lies beyond it. Perhaps in earlier times life was so leisurely and complacent and quiet that men and women really regarded it as something almost permanent and everlasting. So all their energies and attention were directly to living life in this world, and if you talked about death and the life beyond, that was really unnecessary. But we, in our folly, have turned our backs upon God and the spiritual world, and we are trying to settle down in this earthly life. Suddenly came the world wars that destroyed everything, forcing us to think of the beyond. I cannot but think that such events have been a judgment that we have brought upon ourselves. We are beginning to see some point in considering the whole transitory nature of life in this world.

Now the Bible has always invited us to do that; it has always asked us to start in that way. So let me expound to you now what the Bible has to say about life in this world. It is temporary and transitory. It is nothing but a great journey; the world is something through which we are passing. We, according to the Bible, are but pilgrims and strangers in this world, sojourners. This is put in a classic phrase in the Epistle to the Hebrews: “Here have we no continuing city” (13:14). That is the message of the Bible from beginning to end. We are moving through; we are pilgrims and strangers, travelers.

Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Let Your Heart Not Be Troubled (Kindle Edition)

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Digital Tabletalk

Ligonier Ministries strives, with your support, to leverage new media technology for the advancement of God’s Kingdom. To that end, we’re pleased to announce that the digital edition of Tabletalk magazine is now available for your iPad™. Lord willing, before Christmas, we’ll announceTabletalk’s availability on the Kindle Fire and Android tablets.

Cheap eBooks

$5 Friday at Ligonier

Today is $5 Friday at Ligonier.org. This week’s offerings include:

  • A Survey of Church Historyteaching series by W. Robert Godfrey (download)
  • Abortion by R.C. Sproul (hardcover)
  • What’s So Great About the Doctrines of Grace? by Richard Phillips (eBook download)

The Work in Uttar Pradesh

Tim Challies:

For the past several decades there has been slow gospel growth in Uttar Pradesh, but recently the pace has increased and more and more people are coming to the Lord. This local church pastor is native to India and fluent in both English and Hindi. He is a graduate of Southern Seminary and completed the internship program at Mark Dever’s Capitol Hill Baptist Church before returning to Lucknow to take up the work here. You may have heard him share his testimony at the most recent Together for the Gospel conference. While he and his church are not in imminent danger of outright physical persecution, it would be unwise to mention his name or the name of his church. Christianity is regarded as a western religion and conversions to Christianity—of which they are seeing many—are regarded as defection or disloyalty.

Three lessons from reading Narnia with my daughter

Recently I finished reading The Chronicles of Narnia with my oldest daughter, Abigail. We started reading the series back in mid-June and have more or less been reading a chapter a day ever since. Here are a few things I learned through the experience:

1. Her fake British accent is terrible—but hilarious.

Seriously. She’s seen the movies, so she understands the characters are English. What made reading really funny was hearing her use a fake accent when talking about the characters. “Is Petah or Lewcee in this one, Daddee?” she’d ask in her peculiar dialect. Every time she did it, I nearly lost it.

Every.

Time.

2. She can handle higher reading level books.

This is something that’s true of most kids, according to the authors of The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. They’re able to listen to and understand stories written at higher reading levels, even if they can’t necessarily read them themselves.

This is definitely the case with Abigail. When we’re reading, she isn’t acting bored or half-paying attention; she’s really into what we’re reading, following along, asking questions, and making predictions about what’s going to happen next. It’s really cool. But the best thing for me has been seeing her start trying to read the books herself—and actually being able to do it!

3. Reading with her makes her excited about reading more.

We’ve been reading with Abigail (and all our kids) pretty much from day one, so they’re very comfortable with books in general. But what I saw with Abigail was different—she really got into the series and started making suggestions for what we could read together next. Her choice, which was completely out of the blue: Alice in Wonderland.

(Emily thinks it may be because of a Disney sing-a-long DVD.)

So that’s what we’ve just started reading. And it’s kind of weird, but in that fun, well-written way. Starting reading “big kid” books made her want to read more books, which in turn is making her want to read even more. We’ve started talking about reading The Pilgrim’s Progress, The Odyssey, and a few others although I’ll probably look for one geared slightly more toward her age group for those).

I’m super-excited about how well she’s taken to reading these kinds of books and we’re seeing it already develop into a genuine love of reading, which we couldn’t be happer about.

Parents, what are you reading with your kids right now?

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The Gospel Versus Nostalgia

Daniel Darling:

There is something about the mindset of an overseas missionary that would be good for us American Christians to learn. It struck me that missionaries don’t go into a country and try to change the entire governmental structure all at once. That’s not even on their agenda.Over time, their work may lead to positive changes in the country’s culture (See Hudson Taylor, William Carey, Adoniram Judson). But missionaries don’t complain about a country’s culture, but seek to minister in it as it is.

Do You Love Controversy, or People?

Jim Hamilton:

This line of thought led me to wonder whether the controversialists were concerned for me as a brother in Christ. I began to ask whether they loved me, because if they really loved me, they would want to help me see the benightedness of a position they thought was so awful, they would want to liberate me from the bondage of bad ideas, and their desire to help me in these ways would surely cause them to use a different tone of voice and a better method of argumentation.

Let’s Put The “Z” In Zealous

Mark Altrogge:

I’m a naturally lazy person.  As a kid I put the “S” in slothfulness. When I was 12, my dad put a tetherball pole in the back yard for us kids.  He had dug the hole and was pouring the cement and asked me to hold the pole for a few minutes. You’d have thought he’d asked me to bear the world on my shoulders. I was suddenly overwhelmed with a wave of energy-sapping tiredness. I stood there sighing and slumping, like I’d been doing hard labor for 16 hours in the desert heat.  Here was my dad – dripping with sweat from digging and mixing cement – and I couldn’t even hold a pole for three minutes.  I wasn’t that far from being a zombie.

Fear-Mongering and Kingdom Loyalties

Mike Leake:

I care little about a discussion on Obama, Romney, or any third-party candidate. What I do care about are those professing to be believers being swept up in worldly fear. The “they” in Isaiah 8 is not talking about Gentiles that are not part of the covenant. The “they” in Isaiah 8 is talking about people like the king of Judah that is wringing his hands in fear because two powerhouse nations are now in cahoots and seeking to terrify Judah.

Faith, work, and Every Good Endeavor

every good endeavor

There seems to be a great deal of confusion about the relationship between our work and our faith. Some place too high a value on vocational ministry, as if it were somehow above working as a plumber, teacher, or accountant. Others seem to act as though our faith shouldn’t impact our vocation. Many struggle to wonder whether their work matters at all.

But there has to be a way for us to take seriously the call of Scripture. When Paul wrote exhorting bondservants (or slaves) to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,” I think he meant it (Colossians 3:23). In whatever we do, we work for the Lord. We serve God just as greatly as baristas and bathroom attendants as we do clergy and counsellors.

It’s no surprise, then, that I’m pretty excited to be digging into Tim Keller’s new book, Every Good Endeavor. Here’s one of my favorite passages from the early pages:

Everyone imagines accomplishing things, and everyone finds him- or herself largely incapable of producing them. Everyone wants to be successful rather than forgotten, and everyone wants to make a difference in life. But that is beyond the control of any of us. If this life is all there is, then everyhting will eventually burn up in the death of the sun and no one will even be around to remember anything that has ever happened. Everyone will be forgotten, nothing we do will make any difference, and all good endeavors, even the bet, will come to naught.

Unless there is a God. If the God of the Bible exists, and there is a True Reality beneath and behind this one, and this life is not the only life, then every good endeavor  even the simplest ones, pursued in response to God’s calling, can matter forever. (p. 28)

WTS Books is offering an amazing 70 percent discount on your first copy of Every Good Endeavor right now (subsequent copies are 48 percent off). You can also get the it over at Amazon, among other retailers.

Courtesy of the fine folks at Dutton, I’ve got two copies of Every Good Endeavor to give away today. If you’d like to win, here’s what I’d like you to do:

  1. Tell me how your faith impacts your work
  2. Share this post with your followers on Facebook or Twitter (if you’d be so kind, I’d appreciate you letting me know in your comment as well)

I’ll be picking the winners today after 5 pm EST. Winners will be selected using Random.org and notified by email. Whether you win or lose the giveaway, I hope you’ll pick up a copy of this book. What I’ve read so far has been terrific.

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Jet Lag and Culture Shock

Tim Challies:

Jet lag and culture shock are just plain cruel when they team up. This week I find myself halfway around the world, in a time zone ten-and-a-half hours removed from my own and in a culture so vastly different that it is difficult to comprehend. After two or three days in the east, I fooled myself into believing that I had adjusted well to the time difference. But then Sunday evening and Monday I was so utterly exhausted I had to admit defeat and spend a lot more time flat on my back.

Why your church matters

Ray Ortlund:

. . . the church of the living God.  A church is where the idols of our culture can be cogently discredited and the living God rallied around, rejoiced in, worshiped, studied, loved and obeyed.  If the church is dead or dormant, God’s own appointed testimony to his living reality powers down.  The felt reality of God in the world today is at stake in our churches.

Disarming your hearers

David Murray:

…as people are usually resistant to change you need to devise strategies to disarm their objections and overcome their obstacles to change. Anticipating such resistance will sharpen the presentation and improve its chances of accomplishing its goal. It also conveys to the audience that you’ve thought about them, not just yourself and your presentation, making them more open to your call to action.

The Unexpected Perks of Being Thrown Into the Fire

Stephen Altrogge:

Trials stink. Running out money stinks. Suffering from chronic migraines stink. Being slandered by coworkers stinks. All trials stink, right?

Well, yes and no. From a human perspective, trials are painful and sad. But from God’s perspective, trials are sad, but also wonderfully productive.

Book Review: Mistakes Leaders Make by Dave Kraft

mistakes leaders make

Look at the bookshelf of nearly anyone in leadership and you’re bound to see a number of familiar names. Patrick Lencioni, Jim Collins, and John Maxwell, among others, are staple authors in the field, offering challenging and usually helpful advice to the current and prospective leader.

Dave Kraft is one who ought to be a staple for church and ministry leaders. His first book, Leaders Who Last, continues to be one of the most helpful books I’ve read, and one I’m always quick to recommend to any leader who wants to know what it takes to survive the challenges of leadership. His new book, Mistakes Leaders Make, builds on this foundation, looking at common errors in leadership based on his own experiences over his 35+ year career.

Kraft identifies and examines 10 common mistakes leaders make:

  • allowing ministry to replace Jesus;
  • allowing comparing to replace contentment;
  • allowing pride to replace humility;
  • allowing busyness to replace visioning;
  • allowing financial frugality to replace fearless faith;
  • allowing artificial harmony to replace difficult conflict;
  • allowing perennially hurting people to replace potential hungry leaders;
  • allowing information to replace transformation; and
  • allowing control to replace trust.

While certainly not exhaustive, these 10 mistakes represent the most common and serious errors that threaten our ministries and those we serve. Kraft approaches each with a welcome sobriety, choosing to confront leaders with the most fundamental error we face early on: idolatry. Kraft writes:

Allowing ministry to replace Jesus opened the Pandora’s box that contained many other mistakes that over time infected the entire leadership team—with severe implications. The first stone had been cast into the water, and the ripples had begun. . . . Ministry idolatry is becoming increasingly widespread in evangelical Christianity in America, reaching epidemic proportions. . . . “Idolatry creep” sneaks up on you because you can easily and quickly justify it by saying that everything you do is for the Lord, believing your motives are pure. We recognize this in businessmen who work obscene hours while insisting they do it all to benefit the family, when in reality it’s all about them. (Kindle location 300, 305, 308)

We see this all the time, don’t we? Leaders who begin using their ministry as an indicator of their standing before God. Their character may be reprehensible, they may be terrible spouses, or they may nurture secret sin, but they’ve got a large following. So obviously God must be pleased… right?

Similar problems lie at the heart of all the other issues. We compare ourselves with others because we’re deeply insecure in our standing with Christ. We avoid taking calculated risks because of fear. We refuse to trust those we lead to do the right thing because we love the feeling that comes from being in control.

It’s important to note that these kinds of errors are rarely isolated incidents. They’re habitual. “Leadership mistakes are often not a single event but an attitude, habit, or mind-set that has been forming for years” (Kindle location 451). They’re ultimately the fruit of an unhealthy relationship with God and attitude toward leading others.

Perhaps the most challenging mistake Kraft addresses is that of being satisfied with artificial harmony rather than facing difficult conflict head-on. Failure to face difficult conflict is a morale and trust killer. It’s easier to just avoid conflict and have the appearance that everything’s going well. But it comes with a cost: your ministry and your credibility.

Not knowing how and/or being unwilling to deal with conflict is a major issue that is undermining organizations today. I run into this problem everywhere I go… I cannot imagine anything more devastating to effective leadership than the refusal or inability to resolve conflict. To be frank, I meet very few leaders who honestly, gracefully, and promptly deal with conflict. I don’t mean this to be unkind, but many leaders are “relational cowards.” (Kindle location 1192)

It takes great courage to make tough decisions. It takes courage to deal with conflict and do the right thing—especially when it may result in someone leaving your team. But it’s so necessary for leaders to get this; if we don’t, we only injure those we serve.

Regular readers of the leadership genre will note  that Kraft liberally borrows from a number of modern leadership gurus—particularly Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team—as he examines each leadership mistake. Depending on your perspective, this might be a bad thing, but I quite appreciated it. While he does borrow, he sufficiently differentiates, especially in his leadership parables surrounding Covenant Community Church, the representative ministry facing each of these 10 mistakes.

Kraft wears a pastoral heart on his sleeve in Mistakes Leaders Make. He clearly wants to see Christian leaders get better and to avoid the mistakes he’s seen—and made—far too often. Mistakes happen. They’re inevitable; but they’re not irreversible. This book is a great starting point to identifying the mistakes that have crept into your ministry and how you can recover to the glory of God. I trust it will be blessing to you.


Title: Mistakes Leaders Make
Author: Dave Kraft
Publisher: Crossway/Re:Lit (2012)

Buy: Amazon | WTS Books 

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New Studies in Dogmatics—A New 15-Volume Series in Constructive Theology

Zondervan has just announced a major 15-volume project in constructive theology, New Studies in Dogmatics:

The volumes will explore vital theological topics of Christian doctrine, expressing their biblical, creedal, and confessional shape. The volumes will seek a constructive theology that—unlike much modern theology—does not downplay the traditions of the church, but embraces and builds upon Christianity’s historic professions. Authors will reexamine church doctrine by beginning with the foundations laid in the creeds, councils, and confessions and expounded by its most trusted teachers (such as the early church fathers, medieval doctors, and Protestant Reformers). “We are excited about the New Studies in Dogmaticsseries,” Allen says, “because we believe that the way to renewal is through retrieval of our catholic and Reformational heritage.”

Statism: The Biggest Concern for the Future of the Church in America

R.C. Sproul:

About thirty years ago, I shared a taxi cab in St. Louis with Francis Schaeffer. I had known Dr. Schaeffer for many years, and he had been instrumental in helping us begin our ministry in Ligonier, Pennsylvania, in 1971. Since our time together in St. Louis was during the twilight of Schaeffer’s career, I posed this question to him: “Dr. Schaeffer, what is your biggest concern for the future of the church in America?” Without hesitation, Dr. Schaeffer turned to me and spoke one word: “Statism.” Schaeffer’s biggest concern at that point in his life was that the citizens of the United States were beginning to invest their country with supreme authority, such that the free nation of America would become one that would be dominated by a philosophy of the supremacy of the state.

Permanent Impermanence

Brandon Smith:

As culture teaches young single folks that they can never be satisfied with their “lot in life,” there must be a ferocious battle against stagnation. We must trust Jesus with what we have and what we may or may not eventually have. Younger Christians should seek older Christians who are willing to invest in them, gleaning invaluable advice in the process. Do not let the pleasures of this world press upon your pursuit of joy in marriage.

Inflatable People: The Holy Spirit and Creation

Marc Cortez:

[W]hen God created the heavens and the earth, the Spirit of God was “hovering over the face of the waters” (Gen. 1:2). So, right at the very beginning of the story, we find the Spirit. Even without knowing anything else about the Spirit, then, you can figure out that it’s probably rather important. After all, the Spirit is the second character introduced in the story of the Bible, right after God himself.

So you keep reading, expecting to find out more about this Spirit and why he’s so important. By the end of chapter one, you’re a little confused. Nothing else about the Spirit. Not even a footnote.

What happened to the Spirit?

What Makes a Person a Person?

chuck 03

I have a confession: My wife and I really enjoyed the recently-cancelled show Chuck. All the suspension of disbelief that was required aside (basically the entire premise of the show demands it), it was a lot of fun. If you’re not familiar, the big idea of the show is a computer geek working at a Buy More (Best Buy) gets a government super-computer put into his head and becomes a special agent with the CIA.

Yep. That’s the actual premise (hence the aforementioned need for suspension of disbelief).

So, in the final arc of the show, the plot revolved around the final villain’s desire to get the Intersect for himself and destroying everything in Chuck’s life to get it—including wiping his wife Sarah’s memories of the last five years and using her as a weapon against him. The big twist in the end centered around using the Intersect device to give Sarah her memories back and then she’d be back to normal.

Except in the end, Chuck had to use the device on himself in order to save the day.

Anyway, as Emily and I watched the finale several months ago and rewatched it again recently, I was left with one lingering question:

What makes a person a person?

Are we are who we are simply because of our memories and experiences or is there something more to it? The big idea of the final MacGuffin suggests that one’s identity is locked in one’s memory, and that human memory is essentially just data like any other.

I realize I’m probably overthinking a plot device, but stay with me here. What happens when we take our identity and begin to see ourselves as a collection of data?

If the stuff that makes us “us” is functionally little more than the ones and zeroes your computer is translating into text right now… are we still human?

Thankfully, we’ve got an answer in the Bible. God has not left us in the lurch on this. He’s given us the answer to what makes a person a person, and it’s significantly better than ideas about memory and data. Consider the account of the creation of the first man and woman:

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” And God said, “Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit. You shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth and to every bird of the heavens and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food.” And it was so. And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day. (Genesis 1:26-31)

Notice two key elements described:

1. Man (that is, humanity) was made to resemble God. This is at the heart of God’s saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” We form relationships because God is relational in the Trinity. Morality comes from God. Language comes from God. Reason (that is, logical and rational thought) comes from God. Creativity comes from God.

All these characteristics are unique to humanity, and are fundamental ways in which we resemble God. Without them, one cannot truly be a person in the fullest sense.

2. Humanity is given authority and responsibility over the rest of creation. This is what the Bible means when it says we’re given “dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

We “subdue” the earth, harnessing its resources for human flourishing, which naturally encourages wise technological and scientific development. In our dominion, we not only resemble God using our shared characteristics, but we reflect God in managing the resources He’s provided responsibly.

No other created being is given this charge. And while our ability to exercise this dominion responsibly may have been distorted in the Fall (Genesis 3), it remains fundamental to our being persons.

And so back to the question:

What makes a person a person?

Is it our memories, experiences, or personality? Are we mere collections of data?

What makes a person a person is his or her being made in the image of God, resembling and reflecting Him to all the earth. And whatever alternatives we’re offered, this is the only answer that will ever truly satisfy.

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Parenting Is Hard for a Reason

Christina Fox:

Before I had children, I considered myself a patient person. Having worked with children professionally, I felt confident in my ability to interact with them. I assumed that working with troubled children would automatically qualify me for parenting. It was soon after I had my first child that I realized just how wrong I was.

Spiritual Report on Scotland

David Murray:

I was recently sent a number of questions by an American interested in ministering in Scotland. Not having the time to answer them myself, I asked a fellow Presbyterian to provide the answers. Bear in mind that his answers are especially focused on Presbyterian churches. The picture may be a bit brighter here and there for other churches. It’s a discouraging but, I’m afraid, realistic picture of where Scotland is spiritually and ecclesiastically. I fear that, barring a major revival, this is where the USA is heading as well.

Is Your Jesus This Awesome?

Julian Freeman:

This week someone sent me the following two excerpts from Spurgeon. My heart was blessed!

The combined effect was to freshlywow me with the wonderful thought of the bigness,  awesomeness, and merciful kindness of Jesus. I pray to God that as I grow as a Christian I would grow even more in more wonder, awe, and love for Christ.

The Essential: Revelation

Tim Challies:

Revelation refers to the revealing of something that was previously unknown. In the case of theology, revelation refers to the revealing of the knowledge of God’s character and ways.

The Bible presents two types of revelation.