Can we be good without God?

The apologist Dr. William Lane Craig, and his team at Reasonable Faith, recently created this compelling clip to answer whether we can be "good" without God. This line of reasoning is also known as the moral argument for God. This topic is particularly important because it is an area we easily take for granted and, therefore, give little thought. No matter where you stand, I encourage you to check it out. It is worth your time.  

God Moves in a Mysterious Way

On Sunday I shared the poem, "God Moves in a Mysterious Way" by William Cowper (1731-1800), with Downtown Cornerstone. It's an oldie, but a goodie. You may be familiar with it. Over the years it has become deeply meaningful to me. Cowper was a contemporary and friend of John Newton (author of Amazing Grace). He struggled with significant bouts of depression throughout this life, even to the point of attempting suicide on a number of occasions. Yet, amidst his personal darkness, he learned to see and sense the mysterious, gracious and sovereign presence of God. It was out of this brokenness and despair he wrote this poem. If you're hurting, struggling or confused, take heart, my friends, God moves in a mysterious way. 

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The blinding glory of the holiness of God

All inadequate doctrines of the atonement are due to inadequate doctrines of God and man. If we bring God down to our level and raise ourselves to his, then of course we see no need for a radical salvation, let alone for a radical atonement to secure it. When, on the other hand, we have glimpsed the blinding glory of the holiness of God, and have been so convicted of our sin by the Holy Spirit that we tremble before God and acknowledge what we are, namely ‘hell deserving sinners’, then and only then does the necessity of the cross appear so obvious that we are astonished we never saw it before.
— John Stott, The Cross of Christ, 109

How our church prays together (A step-by-step guide for holding a corporate prayer gathering)

One of the things our church has done, since the very beginning, is carve out one night a month for corporate prayer and song. We call it our monthly prayer night. It's not original, but we're not trying to be original. Our goal is to come before our Father in heaven, together, to ask Him to do above and beyond all we ask, think or imagine (Eph 3:20). I've received a lot of questions about these nights from other pastors. What do they look like? How many people turn out? What happens? Why do you do them? If you have any of these questions this is for you.

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Book briefing from my summer vacation

By God's grace, and the generosity of our church, our family was able to get some extended time away last month. In addition to having longer-than-usual stretches to read the Scriptures, I had a chance to read a number of great books and revisit some others I’ve found to be helpful in the past. If you’re still looking for some summer reading recommendations, I recommend most of these. Clearly, there is a pastoral bent to this, but there’s something here for everyone... 

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How our thoughts feed (or starve) our passion for Jesus

I recently came across this great thought by Jonathan Edwards. I am deeply thankful, and indebted, to how Edwards vigorously refused to separate the intellect from the affections. Too often we separate them, rather than recognizing how the one informs the other. What do accurate ideas about who Jesus is, what he has done and who we are in him have to do with our loving of him and enjoying his goodness? Everything. Our thoughts feed (or starve) our passion for Jesus. Right thoughts, carried by the Spirit, throw gasoline on the fire of our affections, while wrong thoughts douse them. In other words, our theology (understanding of God is, what He is like, what He has done) is the fountainhead and source of our affection for him. Here's how Edwards puts it.

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John Bunyan on what dazzles the eyes of angels

It's hard not to like John Bunyan (1628-1688). Of all the Puritans, he's among my favorite. His Pilgrim's Progress, written during his imprisonment for preaching the gospel, is one of the most beloved and translated books of all time. (I highly recommend A Dangerous Journey, an adaptation of Pilgrim's Progress for kids.) John Owen, when asked by Charles II why he went to hear the uneducated Bunyan preach, famously said, "May it please your majesty, could I possess the tinker's abilities for preaching, I would willingly relinquish all my learning." He had an incredible gift for preaching to the heart. In my study for this weekend, I came across these gospel-laden treasures.

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Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the Resurrection | A Brief Review

Jonathan Dodson and Brad Watson have written an incredibly helpful, culturally accessible and doctrinally sound book in Raised? Finding Jesus by Doubting the ResurrectionThe premise of the book is simple, in the words of the Apostle Paul, "if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins." (1Cor15:17) If Jesus did not rise from the dead, then everything else he said or did is of little importance. However, if he did rise, that changes everything about everything. That makes the resurrection of Jesus perhaps the best place to start for those examining his life and claims - and that is where Raised? comes in. 

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Our church celebrates three years of life on Jesus' mission

Yesterday our church (Downtown Cornerstone) celebrated three years of life together following Jesus in our great city. From the beginning our hope and prayer was to see lives changed through the gospel, souls saved and reconciled to God, and the city served. That's happening. It takes a lot of different kinds of churches to reach a lot of different kinds of people with the same gospel, in any given context. We couldn't be more thankful to be a small part of what He is doing in our city. Some talented folks put together the simple, family reunion style, video below to capture just a bit of the diversity of our family-on-mission and the diversity of ways Jesus is moving among us. Thanks for sharing in our joy. 

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11 compelling evidences that every follower of Jesus should be passionately committed to a specific local church

Until setting out to plant Downtown Cornerstone a few years ago, I had done little investigation into the biblical rationale behind church membership - or, more simply, being passionately committed to a specific, local, loving community of Jesus-followers. Though I had previously belonged to a church that practiced membership, I had a very cursory understanding of its biblical depth. I find this is very common. When it comes to the Christian life, the local church’s importance is often overlooked, minimized or misunderstood. Have you ever stopped to ask, “What is the local church? What is God’s purpose for the local church? What is church membership all about? Is that some sort of legalism or authoritarian power-grab? Is it biblically essential or merely optional? Is membership a matter of obedience to Jesus Christ or a matter of personal preference?” Over the years, through my own study and that of others, I have compiled the following list of 11 compelling evidences that every follower of Jesus should be passionately committed to a specific local church. I hope they serve to biblically root and stoke your affections for Jesus' local church as they have mine. 

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