Dear Thomas, (Why I think David is wrong about your same-sex attraction)

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A number of months ago, David Strain wrote an open letter to "Thomas," a fictional seminary student struggling with same-sex attraction. I appreciated the tone of his letter. It was a welcome contrast to Phil Johnson's handling of the topic to which I offered a somewhat salty—but no less intellectually and biblically rigorous—response. Hope for Thomas My goal here is to address David's error in order to give people like Thomas some hope. Not the

When pastor kills himself

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Moments ago I saw the news of an American megachurch pastor, Andrew Stoecklein, who took his own life after a battle with depression and anxiety. Almost immediately the commentary on facebook began. As a pastor who battles mental health struggles, I feel compelled to insert a few thoughts into the discussion. But first, my heart goes out to Andrew's family. This is a world-shattering moment for them. I pray that God will give them comfort

On Phil Johnson and same-sex attraction

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Phil Johnson recently began stirring the pot on the non-neutrality of same-sex attraction (SSA). You can read it here and here. It's the sort of cantankerous monologue you'd expect from a hard-line fundamentalist like Phil. But he's finally provoked me enough to get me writing. So that's something. First, let's clarify that this isn't about the conference that got Phil so wound up. I have no comment to make about that conference since I know

What’s so good about being nice?

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Nice isn't good; mean isn't bad. There. I said it. You've long suspected my heresy. Now you have proof in black and white. But it's true. Nice isn't good and our unshakeable conviction that it is, is making us bad. Let me explain what I mean. Imagine you're walking down the street and you see a guy manhandling a woman. You have several options. One of your options is to be nice. Nice might do

Benefits of dealing with the “too hard” box

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If you commit to handling the "too hard" cases well, there will be some benefits. 1) Your "too hard" box will shrink. I'm not saying you'll have fewer difficult cases. You'll probably have the privilege of working with more difficult cases. What I mean is that there will be fewer and fewer problems which are too hard for you. As you work through difficult situations, you will find yourself more and more skillful at helping

Nine ways to help people in the “too hard” box

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How do you help people in the "too hard" box? I mean, the whole reason they're there is that their problem is too hard. One approach is to get degrees in theology, psychology, sociology, anthropology, counseling, psychiatry, and a few other assorted fields and come up with solutions to all the problems. But for most of us, we need something more realistic. We could fall back on the sufficiency of Scripture, and this would be

The damage of the “too hard” box

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There is no problem in the "too hard" box that wasn't made worse by being tossed into the "too hard" box. Regardless of how sinister or innocent our motivation may be, the result tends to be the same. The damage to you You might be surprised by the suggestion that tossing people into the "too hard" box damages you, but it does. Because you cannot tolerate a full "too hard" box without harming those most

Christian ministry and the “too hard” box

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If you're involved in any sort of Christian ministry, you've probably got a steady stream of "projects" coming across your desk. Births, deaths, engagements, marriages, family problems, relationship issues, etc. And if you've been at it for any length of time, you've probably developed an approach to each of these that allows you to move it from the "inbox" to the "outbox" fairly easily. But what happens when the questions get harder and the problems

When you’ve been hurt: Common confusions

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It would be imprudent of me to conclude this series without making some important clarifications to what I have said up to now. There are, unfortunately, a number of teachings about forgiveness in the modern church which do grievous harm. Several come to mind that I address here. Releasing vs. forgetting Forgiveness is letting go. It is not forgetting. I know this contradicts the practically canonical "Forgive and forget," but it's true. In fact, the

When you’ve been hurt: The results of right choices

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  Healing. Sweetness. Joy. Edification. Humility. If you try to make this stuff happen, you will fail. The stuff I talk about here is the fruit. The root is the forgiveness, compassion, benevolence, and prayer we looked at in part one. Part one is the means. Part two is the ends. If you focus on pursuing the ends as an end in itself, they will elude you. But a biblical response to hurt leads to

When you’ve been hurt: Making the difficult choices

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It might be as simple as an insulting comment or as complex as childhood sexual abuse, but whatever we're dealing with, one thing is clear: We all get hurt at times. Sometimes we can overlook and move on. The damage is minimal. But when the hurt is too deep for that, it's easy for the wound to become infected. In fact, it's almost guaranteed. We come to hate the person who hurt us, we look

Should I pursue prosecution of crimes against me?

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So you are the victim of a crime. It may be publicly known or it may be unknown to most. It may be recent or it may be the silent horror of a broken childhood. The perpetrator may be someone you know well or someone you never met before the crime took place. The crime may have been theft, physical abuse, sexual in nature, or any number of other issues. And now you're facing the

Can I take a Christian to court?

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Living in a broken world is messy. It would be nice if everyone saw eye-to-eye and problems were easily resolved. Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Even believers sometimes find themselves in bitter disputes with other believers. This raises the question: Is it ok to take another believer to court? A common answer to this question is a straightforward—and sometimes emphatic—no. The Apostle Paul addressed the question directly in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8. 1 Corinthians 6 1When

16 reasons crime should not be handled in-house

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Ministry means working with people. And people are sinners. So those who are ministering to others will at times find themselves knee deep in messy situations. Unfortunately, these situations often involve criminal behaviour which has never been reported to the civil authorities. Probably the most common instances are child abuse (physical, emotional, sexual, or neglect) and domestic/family violence. EDIT: Based on some of the comments, I wanted to add a quick clarification here. I am

His weakest moment

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It's a funny thing about life. It's easy to judge someone... until you know them. We were living in close quarters and he really got under my skin. He wasn't likeable like the others were. He didn't go with the flow. He wasn't fun to be around. He had issues. And he annoyed me. It was easy to judge him. Then I sat next to him as he poured out his story of brokenness and

Descending to the dungeon

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The great English Baptist, Charles Spurgeon, loved to allude to his second favourite book in his writing and preaching. One such allusion is found in Spurgeon's statement below: "There are dungeons underneath the Castle of Despair as dreary as the abodes of the lost, and some of us have been in them." Some of you know these dungeons well. The darkened corridors and stone cold floors are easily recognised. Within these dungeons, you move with

When you’re the broken arm in the body of Christ

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Teaching, cleaning, painting, singing... life is busy in the body of Christ. But what about when it isn't? What about when you can't teach and you can't clean? You're too weary to paint and you're too empty to sing? I think we generally find it easy enough to minister in the body. We are part of the family and we expect to do our part. It's easy enough being the biceps of the body, but