If you struggle with discontentment, you probably struggle with coveting. Jen Wilken shows how they are connected and offers some help.

In a list of clear prohibitions, the tenth word is unexpected. For all the other nine, our neighbor could hold us to account fairly simply by gathering witnesses to testify to our compliance or lack thereof. But here, at the end of the list, we find a sin of a different nature. Idol-making, Sabbath-breaking, dishonoring authority, murder, theft, adultery, and slander can all be identified by an onlooker, but not so covetousness. Covetousness hides in the heart. The Ten Words progress from “Don’t do it” to “Don’t say it” to “Don’t even think about it.”

The saguaros are blooming.

Me looking at a saguaro bloom

Currently reading: The Compelling Community by Mark Dever 📚

The Bible mentions the balm of Gilead as a famous healing agent. Here’s how to harvest it.

Joshua Gibbs [via Short Letters]

anyone who thinks that the way around ChatGPT is another bullet point on the school honor code is delusional. Sorry, but some things have to change. Homework needs to change. Writing assignments need to change. We need to take ChatGPT for what it is: a referendum on modern, non-classical teaching.

Occasionally, I hear of a presbytery or session that gives theology exams as a take-home test. That should stop immediately.

Kieth Wessel:

Jesus’ ascension provides us with an awesome view from above—a glimpse of glory that assures us he has our lives and all things under control.

Read more for several encouraging insights on the ascension of Christ.

I’m happy to have found a Safari extension called Hush. It silences the constant cookie offers—a terrible thing for IRL, but needed right now for the web.

a quiet morning seeking a more quiet spirit

book and coffee mug

Letters to a Younger Ruling Elder, No. 3: The Importance of the Devotional Life

I have seen the eldership ruined more times by men, not because they were poor elders, but, sadly, because they were poor Christians.

If you dug a tunnel down to the other side of the world, you’d end up in…

You can pray the imprecatory psalms. PCA minister Benjamin Kandt explains how and why in 22 Reasons to Pray the Cursing (Imprecatory) Psalms.

Updated: my Book of Church Order commentary links page. Alan Strange is cruising! He finished the Form of Government and is working on the Book of Discipline now.

Here is my book review of The Unfolding Word: The Story of the Bible from Creation to New Creation by Zach Keele.

Goodnight, 2022.

Sunset in Tucson on New Years Eve 2022.

The Normalizing of the Nones

Despite what some assume, the percent of those who say they have no religion in America is not fated to increase. In fact, the percent of Nones, as they are called, hasn’t climbed at all in the last six years but has remained at about 20%.

This explains a shift I’ve noticed: being unaffiliated with a religion is no longer cool. I’m not saying it’s uncool to be a None, but like drinking Starbucks or wearing Crocs, it’s not an edgy alternative anymore. It can’t be when the Nones now comprise two out of ten slices of the American pie.

Figuring out what you owe God based on what other humans think is cool is a bad idea. So as the Nones are normalized and lose their cool, it’s a good time for all of us to re-examine how we relate toward God and why.

What is prayer?

Prayer ≠ mediation.
Prayer ≠ spiritual desire

How so, George?

“Prayer is not meditation, because meditation is communing with our own souls, prayer is communing with God. Nor yet can it be said that prayer is nothing else but a spiritual desire; for prayer is the sending up of our desires to God, being put in order."

What often is true is that mediation leads to spiritual desire which leads to prayer.

🎧 Listening to The Drive Home by Austin Britton. His newest single.

Finished reading Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne by Andrew Bonar a few days ago. I was very blessed by it. To get a taste for yourself, read this mini bio about his short life and the lessons we can learn from it. 📚

You are a theologian

Gerhard O. Forde:

Suffice it to say for now, though, that all of us are theologians in one way or another. Being a theologian just means thinking and speaking about God. True, we may not do much of that. We might go for days or weeks without a thought of God entering our heads, but that is usually impossible. Things happen. Accidents. Tragedies. Deaths and funerals. Natural disasters. Illness. Loss. Suffering. Disappointment. Wrongdoing. And so on and on. There is also good fortune. Perhaps unexpected success or escape from danger or certain disaster. Experience of great beauty or pleasure. Sheer grace. Chance encounters that determine our lives. Love. We begin to wonder. God pops into our thinking and conversation. We may cry out in agony, “Why God?” or in relief, “Thank God!” Or we may just use God’s name in cursing. Sooner or later we are likely to get thinking about God and wondering if there is some logic to it all in our lives, or some injustice. We become theologians.

The question is: What kind of theologian are you? And what kind of theologian are you encouraged to be?

Did you take your greace supplement today?

Gerhard O. Forde:

Of course our theologian of glory may well grant that we need the help of grace. The only dispute, usually, will be about the degree of grace needed. If we are a “liberal,” we will opt for less grace and tend to define it as some kind of moral persuasion or spiritual encouragement. If we are more “conservative” and speak even of the depth of human sin, we will tend to escalate the degree of grace needed to the utmost. But the hallmark of a theology of glory is that it will always consider grace as something of a supplement to whatever is left of human will and power. It will always, in the end, hold out for some free will. Theology then becomes the business of making theological explanations attractive to the will.

That last line is a kicker.

You can’t quit sin

Gerhard O. Forde writes:

The theologian of glory is like one who considers, curing addiction by optimistic exhortation. The theologian of the cross knows the cure is much more drastic. [Luther] likens the theology of glory to the thirst, for money, or wisdom, or power, and so forth, and declares that the souls insatiable “thirst, for glory does not end by satisfying it, but rather buy extinguishing it.

And breezily telling someone they can quit sin and giving them more things to do doesn’t help. In fact, it makes things worse.

The supposed optimism of the theology of glory turns against itself. When the addict discovers the impossibility of quitting, self-esteem plummets. The addict to tries to hide the addiction and puts on a false front. Superficial optimism breeds ultimate despair.

Heidelberg Disputation > 95 Theses

Heinrich Bornkamm argues that, as far as the theology of th Reformation is concerned, the Heidelberg Disputation is the most influential of all Luther’s disputations. It is theologically much more important and influential, for instance, than the Ninety-five Theses even though the Ninety-five Theses caused more of an ecclesiastical and political stir. It is safe to say that the theological theses of the Disputation remain determinative and a center of attention even down to the present day… The theological influence of the Heidelberg Disputation is indicated by the fact that Luther’s audience at Heidelberg included no less than six future reformers, among them leaders such as Martin Bucey and Johannes Brenz…

Gerhard O. Forde

Currently reading: On Being a Theologian of the Cross by Gerhard O. Forde 📚

I’m preaching again

Yesterday I started a new preaching series through Titus, which I’m really excited about. The first sermon was an overview of the letter. I share the five things that I think Paul wanted Titus to focus on and suggest some ways book applies to people not named Titus.

In the evening, picked up where I left off in Ezekiel. I addressed some important things about anger. Give it a listen.