A Song for Every Psalm, Released Weekly for 150 Weeks

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

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4 Reasons Christians Should Support Banning Pornography

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

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Win Souls: Don’t Offend People Needlessly

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)“.

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Good News Homes in a Bad News World

“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

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Greg Lanier on 1 Corinthians (Part 1)

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

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The Three History and Biography Winners from the CT Book Awards

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

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The FAQs: Supreme Court Upholds Kentucky Abortion Law

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

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From Anti-Church-Planting to Church Planters

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

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Fellowship Conference New York

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.

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Should I Quit the Job I Love to Be an Overseas Missionary?

My wife and I have always been open to God calling us to be missionaries overseas. An opportunity has presented itself in a country with few gospel laborers, and it seems like it could be a great fit. We both love our jobs, however, and we truly believe we are serving God in them. God clearly called us to these jobs, and he has blessed us and others in them. How do we discern whether God is calling us to go or calling us to stay? This is a wonderful question, and it warms my soul that you’re considering how to be maximally effective for the gospel. From your openness to God’s prompting, it appears you are approaching your vocation with open hands and an open heart. This is the posture befitting an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). I agree wholeheartedly that you are called to your current jobs. Do you know how I know that? Because they are the jobs you have, and God is sovereign. As an ambassador, you have been placed in your situation by God himself to make an appeal for Christ, and if you see your jobs as opportunities to serve God, you are faithfully embracing your current calling (Col. 3:23). Unremarkable, daily obedience in your jobs is powerful worship. Remain faithful where you are for as long as you are there, and invest deeply in those around you. As you consider another path, here are some things to keep in mind. For Such a Time as This In the book of Esther, the Jews are doomed. An edict has gone out to exterminate every Jewish person in Ahasueres’s kingdom. Queen Esther, a Jew, is called on by her cousin Mordecai to do something. He tells Esther: Do not think to yourself that in… Read More

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A Lost Screwtape Letter (Dated in December)

NOTE: I am not at liberty to say how the correspondence below fell into my hands, but it appears to be a lost letter written by that experienced devil, Screwtape, to his novice nephew, Wormwood, who is still learning the diabolical tricks of being a demon. It was dated in December (but the year is unknown). My dear Wormwood, I received your latest letter in which you expressed a number of fears over your patient’s celebration of those seasons of the year that Christians call Advent and Christmas (and to which Our Father Below only refers to, usually in disgust, as The Invasion). I must admit, Wormwood, I could not help but laugh at how fearful you seemed at this prospect. Not that these particular seasons shouldn’t strike fear in every young fiend like yourself when rightly understood, but therein lies our advantage when it comes to so many Christians. There is much they misunderstand or never consider at all. Devil forbid they ever grasp the real implications of these seasons. So since you asked how best to handle this current (and I believe you called it dreaded), situation, let me offer three heinous suggestions that even those in Hell’s High Command would not question. If you can succeed in the first two, the third may not even be necessary. But if worst comes to worst, the third suggestion is always at your disposal, and it is effective, because it gives your patient the illusion he’s celebrating these seasons when in fact you’re helping him miss the point. First, try keeping the patient sufficiently distracted. This is important, Wormwood, because the Enemy wants him to ponder and meditate on that awful truth (I shudder even to write it), the incarnation. You must do all you can to prevent this from happening—and distraction is one of your deadliest weapons during… Read More

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What’s the Relationship Between Evangelicalism and the Oxford Movement?

The recent publication of The Oxford Handbook to the Oxford Movement, a comprehensive single-volume guide to this 19th-century party and ideology, has revived a discussion which is now well over a century old. That discussion centers upon the question of what was the original and ongoing relationship between existing evangelical Protestantism and the emerging Oxford, or Tractarian Movement. The Oxford Handbook renews consideration of whether evangelical Protestantism in its Church of England expression was not a formative or contributing factor in the rise of the other movement which radiated outward from Oxford after 1833. What might seem at first glance to be a rather arcane inquiry about the descent of this movement is in fact anything but that. At stake is the important question of what possible affinity and relationship might be possible between the two movements as they continue to exist down to the present. This essay will explore the contested question of interrelationship and draw out some implications of this issue for the present day. The Two Movements The “Oxford Movement” was an anti-Erastian tendency within the Church of England, begun in 1833. In response to Parliament’s readiness to reduce by half the number of dioceses in the Protestant Church of Ireland and to abolish traditional confessional “tests” for those seeking to enroll in England’s universities, the movement set about publishing 90 pamphlets (“Tracts” they were called) exalting the spiritual independence of their national church via an alleged apostolic succession of bishops. Principal persons in this movement also promoted doctrinal and liturgical emphases closely associated with the era of Archbishop William Laud (1573–1645) and with various divines dating from the Restoration-era Church of England. Nineteenth-century Tractarian writers were widely construed as maneuvering towards a closer Anglican conformity with Roman Catholicism. After the departure of John Henry Newman and… Read More

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