On January 1, Christian folk band Poor Bishop Hooper will release a song based on Psalm 1. In November 2022, they will release a song based on Psalm 150. Every week in between, they will release new songs that work through the Psalter. That’s 150 songs, released one per week, for three years. The ambitious EveryPsalm project is just the latest creative Bible-set-to-music project from the Kansas City–based band (composed of husband-and-wife duo Jesse and Leah Roberts), whose 2014 album Foreign Made landed at number 21 on TGC’s list of the best Christian albums of the decade. EveryPsalm is also the latest encouraging example of what has become a renaissance of Scripture-based music in recent years. From Sandra McCracken’s Psalms to Bible albums from The Corner Room (e.g., Isaiah 53, 1 Corinthians 13) or Psallos (e.g., Hebrews, Jude), the most inspirational Book in history is inspiring a new generation of musicians. The most inspirational Book in history is inspiring a new generation of musicians. I asked Jesse Roberts to talk about the EveryPsalm project, Poor Bishop Hooper’s excellent Advent EP, and his advice for aspiring Christian artists. Who is Poor Bishop Hooper? How do you describe your music and mission? We began performing under this moniker a little more than six years ago, after we were married. What started as a simple duo playing simple songs (Leah on upright bass and myself on guitar) has since become a wide-ranging array of full-band expressions, trios, songwriting, and more. A few years ago our music became a full-time ministry, which led us to create a nonprofit. Our mission is to serve people by musically communicating the gospel. We focus on underserved communities (prisons, rural communities, urban poor) with our live experiences, and encouraging the global church through Scripture-based songs. What inspired you to tackle the ambitious EveryPsalm project? Years ago I began writing lyrics/poetry out of the psalms as a daily habit. It was a beautiful time,… Read More
Earlier this month, four Republican members of the U.S. House sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney General recommending that he declare “the prosecution of obscene pornography a criminal justice priority,” and that he advise U.S. attorneys to start prosecuting the “major producers and distributors of such material.” The Congressmen point out that as a candidate, President Trump signed an anti-pornography pledge stating he would enforce federal obscenity laws to stop the explosion of pornography. “This pledge has so far been ignored in the Trump administration,” they note, “with the result that the harms of illegal pornography have continued unabated, affecting children and adults so acutely to the point that 15 state legislatures have declared that pornography is causing a public health crisis.” The letter, and its endorsement by some social conservatives, sparked a backlash from many people on the political right. A large number of conservatives and libertarians (including some who consider themselves followers of Jesus) are complaining that regulating or banning pornography goes against their political principles* As New York Times columnist Ross Douthat sardonically responded to the anti-ban conservatives, “Whatever happens in the legal/cultural battle over porn itself, I’m quite confident that the claim that ‘obscenity laws are un-conservative’ will eventually sound like gibberish to everyone save scholars of late-20th-century American political arcana.” Remember When Christians Hated Porn? What is most shocking about the shift is that is anti-ban position is either held by or silently supported by many Christians. That wasn’t always the case. Evangelicals, in particular, once considered it our duty to prevent the spread and normalization of porn. For example, in 1976, evangelicals were scandalized that a presidential candidate would agree to be interviewed by Playboy magazine. As Jerry Falwell, a Baptist pastor and co-founder of the Moral Majority, said in 1981, “Giving an… Read More
We should desire to win souls for Christ, and their souls can only be won by receiving the offensive message of the Gospel. With that being said, we need to make sure our attitude and conduct don’t add a needless offense to the message. View the full sermon, “Transformation For Proclamation (Part 4)“.
From one of today’s texts in our Friday Morning Bible Reading Fellowship – The apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Mk 6:30–34. What do you do with sheep who are without a Shepherd? Jesus answers best: Teach them. We need nothing more than we need the Word of God – to know Him through what He has revealed in His speaking and acting. This is of cosmic and eternal importance to the souls of all we meet. Do we see people “Shepherdless”? Not being led and sustained by Christ Jesus? Then we need to bring them to Him. It is an emergency. We need to note that in this account, Jesus’ first concern was not their physical, social justice or even psychological needs, but first and foremost, their reconciliation to the Father. Don’t get me wrong, the other things are not unimportant – but the Gospel is primary. The other things may and should follow, but they cannot take the lead. But what of this teaching? What is it so necessary for those in such outward distress to hear? 1. They need… Read More
“We can’t give our children what we don’t have. You can’t sit here and say, ‘I want my kid to love the Lord with all this soul and his might and his strength. I want my child to stand for what is right in a culture that’s telling him to go one way. I want them to stand firm’—but you’re not doing any of it. You can’t put that into your child when you’re not willing to spend time in the Word, not willing to attend church on a regular basis.” — Benjamin Watson Date: March 31, 2019 Event: TGC 2019 National Pre-conference, Indianapolis, Indiana Listen to this episode of The Gospel Coalition Podcast. Related: Find more audio and video from the 2019 National Conference on the conference media page. Visit TGC The Gospel Coalition US
A huge challenge for us as Bible teachers is to figure out which instructions in the epistles are binding on believers today and which were unique for to the particular time, place, and audience to which they were originally written. In this conversation Greg Lanier, associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, works through the first 10 chapters of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. These chapters address matters of wisdom, divisions, sexual immorality in the church, lawsuits among believers, marriage, idolatry, and eating food offered to idols. Lanier demonstrates how, on each issue, Paul presents theological grounds for his instruction and then applies it to the issue at hand. Lanier contends that while many of the other epistles focus on the basics of the Christian message, 1 Corinthians is an application of that truth. Lanier’s new book, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to How We Got the Bible, releases this month in the UK and in February 2020 in the United States. Listen to this episode of Help Me Teach the Bible. Written resources on 1 Corinthians recommended by Greg Lanier: Audio resources on 1 Corinthians: Visit TGC The Gospel Coalition US
Christianity Today released its annual books-of-the-year awards this week. Evangelical History readers might be interested in the winners for the category of history and biography. Their overall winner was Kathryn Long’s God in the Rainforest: A Tale of Martyrdom and Redemption in Amazonian Ecuador (Oxford University Press). One of the judges—Andrew Atherstone, tutor in history and doctrine at Wycliffe Hall, University of Oxford—wrote: The romantic legend of Jim Elliot and his missionary friends, speared to death in 1956 by Waorani warriors, is firmly fixed in evangelical folklore. The subsequent Christian conversion of the Waorani is often recounted triumphantly as proof of God’s redemption of indigenous peoples, stimulating many missionary vocations and helping to raise funds for a new wave of Bible translators. At the other extreme, secular critics accuse the Ecuadorian missionaries of ethnocide, as “the new conquistadors” of Latin America. Long cuts through these rhetorical tropes, subjecting them to searing analysis. She provides a detailed reconstruction of Waorani religious culture from the 1950s to the present, examining the complexities and failures that have been airbrushed from the idealized narratives. Their Award of Merit—essentially the runner-up—was a tie between Darren Dochuk’s Anointed with Oil: How Christianity and Crude Made Modern America (Basic Books) and Grant Wacker’s One Soul at a Time: The Story of Billy Graham (Eerdmans). On the Dochuk book, one of the judges—historian Stephen Tomkins—writes: Anointed with Oil provides fascinating insight into how religion became embedded in the modern U.S. economy and how fossil-fuel capitalism became embedded in U.S. faith and values. It is a detailed and panoramic survey of the relationship between different approaches to Christianity and different approaches to industry and commerce. It contains colorful and potent characters and is lively despite its length. Dochuk’s style is always clear and fluent. He digs deep and gives the reader a strong sense of the… Read More
Hebrews 1:8 (ESV) — 8 But of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. Current in the political discourse of the United States today is the rising buzz about socialism. It is imagined, that if we would just change our present system of a Representative Republic to that of a “Democratic Socialist” one – so many of our present societal ills would be addressed and corrected. Perhaps. Perhaps some of those ills. But at best, only temporarily. Why? You may take this as axiomatic: No political system can rise above the moral corruption of those who administrate or participate in it. Any and every system throughout human history comes up against this unavoidable inevitability. We have had monarchies, oligarchies, tribalism, communism, representative republics, constitutional monarchies, commonwealths, totalitarian regimes, etc., etc., etc. They have all risen, mostly all fallen, and all but one will eventually fall: The absolute and pure monarchy of Jesus Christ when He returns. Now we may well argue which form of human government we might prefer for whatever reasons at any given point in history. But we absolutely must realize that each and every form is subject to the moral corruption of the human heart in its rebellion against the rightful rulership of our Creator through Jesus Christ – and not only will, but MUST end in harming its own people. There is no way to escape it. The bottom line is this – we do not need a better or different system, we need men and women to submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. To be changed from the inside by His Holy Spirit. No form of human government can remain uncorrupted because all governments are the product of corrupt… Read More
If there’s one Person in the Godhead who has been depersonalized by many, it’s the Holy Spirit. But Christian, don’t forget that you have the third Person of the Godhead dwelling inside of you. More specifically, don’t forget that you’re capable of grieving Him.
What just happened? On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court left in place a Kentucky law that requires abortionists to perform ultrasounds and show fetal images to patients before they can perform abortions. The law had been upheld by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and the high court declined, without comment, to hear an appeal. Why was the Supreme Court asked to review the case? The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenged the law on behalf of Kentucky’s lone abortion clinic, EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville. The law was initially struck down in a lower court, but earlier this year the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of the law. The majority opinion said the law doesn’t violate a doctor’s First Amendment rights, and that ultrasounds provide “relevant information” related to the abortion. What does the Kentucky law require? In January 2017, Kentucky implemented a law making it a requirement that prior to an abortion a physician or qualified technician must perform and explain both an obstetric ultrasound and also ascultation of fetal heartbeat (i.e., an examination by listening for sounds made by internal organs of the fetus). As part of this informed consent process, the woman must be provided with a simultaneous explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting, which shall include the presence and location of the unborn child within the uterus and the number of unborn children depicted. Along with the ultrasound images, the woman must be allowed to hear the heartbeat if the heartbeat is audible. Nothing in the law prevents the pregnant woman from averting her eyes from the ultrasound images or requesting the volume of the heartbeat be reduced or turned off. But she must sign a statement saying that she was provided the information and has viewed the ultrasound images,… Read More
Psalm 96:10 – “Say among the nations, “The LORD reigns! Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved; he will judge the peoples with equity.” This is a vital part of our message to all men. This is part and parcel of the Gospel. Though it is seldom used in that capacity any more. Nevertheless, we have a command to proclaim it to the nations. To publish it everywhere. Note these 3 elements: a. The Lord reigns. God is indeed sovereign. Man is not. Man is morally responsible for his self-determined actions, and yet there is a God who rules over all. b. The earth shall never be moved. Man’s notion that he can destroy this world is nothing but fallen bravado – another attempt at man declaring himself to be God. He is not. This is God’s world and it will remain until He is done with it. Yes, we will indeed be responsible for failed stewardship. Yes, we need to pay attention to disasters we may bring upon ourselves through the misuse and abuse of this present earthly home – but do not imagine we can do so to the utter thwarting of God’s plans, nor the negation of His promises. c. He WILL judge the nations with equity. There is a judgment coming. Everyone will give an account for themselves, by the standard of God’s own righteousness. Russia and everyone in it will be judged. China and everyone in it will be judged. North Korea and everyone in it will be judged. Sweden and everyone in it will be judged. The United States and everyone in it will be judged. None of the 195 nations we have today or historically, none will escape. Leaders will be judged for how they led the nations. Populaces will… Read More
The Yukon is known for the Klondike gold rush and its vast wilderness. It’s full of wild adventures and untouched places. The north is stunning in its majesty, yet it struggles socially. Since planting Northern Collective over a year and a half ago, we’ve had congregants targeted for human trafficking, charged with murder, and wrestle through domestic violence. Sadly, we’ve even had multiple friends take their lives. The Yukon is a beautiful but challenging place. So, how did we end up here? My husband, Harrison, was born in Whitehorse, Yukon, close to the Alaskan port, Skagway. His parents left Hong Kong 40 years ago and established a new life, blending Chinese and Canadian cultures with an emphasis on Chinese spiritual traditions. I, meanwhile, was raised in a conservative Baptist home in cowboy country Alberta, a place with little ethnic diversity. Harrison and I met at university a few months after he was converted and got married the following year. Thus began our journey to the Yukon. We Didn’t Want to Plant In Whitehorse, we served in various roles at our local church while awaiting God’s direction. One thing, though, was clear to us—church planting would not make sense in a North American context. We believed church planting was something that occurred only in tribal cultures and unreached parts of the world. Besides, we thought, Our city has many churches already. Why add to that number? We saw the need for a church plant in our city. It seemed every church in our community struggled to staff positions, find volunteers, and raise money. Few saw many conversions or baptisms. Harrison and I wanted, therefore, to give our attention to helping an established, struggling church. We were convinced this was the best method of carrying out the Great Commission in our context. Church planting just… Read More
Ten years ago several of our churches came together for a weekend of fellowship and preaching. In February there will now be a conference in New York where this year Tim Conway, Mack Tomlinson, and Don Currin will be preaching. This will not be a large conference where you will be lost in the crowd, but one where true fellowship and encouragement can happen. When? February 20-22, 2020 | For more information and registration go here.
The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, 3 so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. 1For they preach, but do not practice. 2They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. 3They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. Mt 23:2–7. (ESV) The final week of Jesus’ incarnation was peppered with one confrontation after another. Pharisees, Sadducees, and others tried to question Him, trip Him up, trap Him and find all manner of ways to ignore His person and works and the implications of His actually being the long-awaited Messiah. Then in this short portion, Jesus tells His hearers something startling: As whacked out as the Pharisees were, they nevertheless DID hold a place of legitimate authority in terms of the Jewish religion as it had become, And Jesus does NOT incite either rebellion nor disregard for their position. In as much as they proscribed the “Church life” of the Jews. As long as they did not forbid what God requires in His Word, nor require what God expressly forbids – they were to be heeded. Flexed with if you please. BUT! And this is a huge “but” – Jesus adds “but not the works they do.” Jesus then spells out exactly what He means in 3 concepts. A. They preach, but they do not practice. The very 1st mark of the Pharisee is a double standard – binding the consciences of others to things… Read More