Author Archive | Denny Burk

Banished from the public means of grace

Our church was scattered by the coronavirus this morning. We did not gather together as usual at the intersection of Southern Parkway and Third Street. No, today we were spread out all over the city of Louisville and beyond. Our college students were literally scattered across North America as many of them were compelled to go back to their hometowns after colleges and universities closed last week. Our church’s missionaries remain scattered all over the world. None of us could be together this morning.

If you know what it means to be the ekklesia of God, your heart ached like mine did. For this is not how it is supposed to be. Gathering together for the Lord’s Day is fundamental to our identity, and we were unable to do that this morning (Hebrews 10:24-25). We had a “virtual” service like so many others, but it really isn’t the same. Nor should it be.

But something really extraordinary happened as we all sat down before our scattered screens for worship. Jim Hamilton read the call to worship from a book of devotion by Charles Haddon Spurgeon, published in 1893.1 Below is the entry for March 15, and the words are nearly incredible: Continue Reading →

Battling the Coronavirus Panic

Man Tattooed PrayingOur nation is facing a real challenge right now, and it is a real gut-check for Christians. Will we trust in Christ, suffer faithfully, show compassion, and bear witness? Or will we get swept away by the panic that seems to be unfolding in some places?

I want to be clear about what I mean. I am not winding up to rebuke those who are taking seriously the novel coronavirus and who are being vigilant to do all they can to stop the spread and to encourage others to do the same.

This is not a drill. It’s real. We all need to be vigilant. And we need to take our responsibilities seriously to love our neighbors well by taking practical measures to slow the spread of the disease. So this is not a rebuke of vigilance.

But it is a challenge to any believer tempted to being swept away by panic. And let me explain why this is so important. Continue Reading →

Mama Xue: The woman from Wuhan who received Christ on her deathbed

“Zhang Ru Zhen, affectionately known as Mama Xue, was the first novel coronavirus casualty in Sichuan province. Before the 80-year-old took her last breath on January 29, Pastor Peng Qiang of Chengdu’s Blessings Reformed Presbyterian Church was able to share the gospel with her. The following is an excerpt of Pastor Peng Qiang’s message at a special memorial service for Mama Xue and is reproduced from their church’s WeChat account. Her son’s eulogy has also been published on our site.”

Continue Reading…

Pulling the lever for pro-abortion candidates is no option for prolifers

It seems to me that Michael Gerson has almost entirely misread the argument that Andrew Walker makes in a recent National Review column. Gerson writes: “Walker is making the following claim: If you think abortion is a matter of life or death, then you must support whoever opposes it most vigorously, even if he or she is an immoral lout.” Walker actually makes no such claim anywhere in his article. Walker is not offering an argument for voting for Trump. He’s offering a defense of religious pro-life voters who plan to vote for Trump.

Walker defends them because Trump-opponents like Gerson are often treating all Trump voters as if they are unreasonable moral retrogrades for their Trump support. If you don’t believe me, here is Gerson in his own words in another recent column: “Loyalty to Trump is making an older generation of evangelical Christians look like crude hypocrites in the eyes of their own children, who are fleeing the tradition in droves.” This undifferentiated condemnation is what Walker is trying to defend against. And let’s be honest, this condemnation is a regular refrain among progressives and the media. Continue Reading →

What does it mean to “act like a man” in 1 Corinthians 16:13?

I’ve been preaching through 1 Corinthians at our church for the last couple years, and in my most recent message we came to a little phrase in 1 Corinthians 16:13 that has become a stumbling block for some readers. The underlying Greek verb (andrizesthei) is rendered variously as “act like men” (ESV, NASB; cf. CSB, KJV) or “be courageous” (NIV, NRSV, NLT). Some of those who favor “act like men” understand the text as a call to manhood. Others dismiss that interpretation by noting that the command is addressed to both men and women.

For my part, I think either translation is fine. Both of them are actually capturing something true about the original expression. The Greek word in question is built on a root that refers to adult males (aner). That means that there are at least two semantic oppositions here, not one—male as opposed to female and adult as opposed to child. As Thiselton explains, “it does not simply pose a contrast with supposedly ‘feminine’ qualities; it also stands in contrast with childish ways.”1 In other words, the root idea invokes both masculinity and maturity. Continue Reading →

The Law of Merited Impossibility Comes True

I do not relish the cultural conflagration that we are facing right now over LGBT rights. I have been writing about this for over a decade now, and I am astonished how quickly and radically things have changed in such a short period of time. But it’s not merely that popular opinion has shifted in favor of gay marriage and transgender identities. It’s that popular opinion has become openly contemptuous of those of us who still believe what the Bible teaches about sexuality and gender.

At the beginning of the 2010’s before the tide had turned, there were warnings about what was coming. Two in particular come to mind—one from Rod Dreher and the other from Robert George. In those days, gay marriage advocates would often say things like, “How does gay marriage hurt your marriage?” On the surface, the proponents of gay marriage proposed a “live and let live” arrangement: “Give us gay marriage, you have your view of marriage, and we’ll all co-exist.” Continue Reading →

Third and Seventeen to the Championship

Earlier this evening, the LSU Tigers defeated Clemson for the college football national championship. If you want to understand this season, then you have to go all the way back to the beginning.

I knew that something was different from the first game, but the signature moment of the season happened in the second game which was against the Texas Longhorns. LSU’s offense dominated that game, but Texas was somehow able to keep the score close into the fourth quarter. Continue Reading →

Ten Exhortations concerning Gossip Blogs and Online Speech

I’ve read two different reports this week from Christian news sites written specifically to refute what amounts to online gossip and slander. I’m thankful that the stories were written even as I grieve that they needed to be written. They are worthy reports, but I’m not even going to link them here so as not to give any more oxygen to the slanders they were written to refute.

It is astonishing how many people run gossip-blogs or gossip-social-media accounts in the name of Christ and of “discernment.” Even more astonishing to me is how many readers mistake such gossip and slander for actual discernment.

Of course, we are all tempted to speak carelessly from time to time, especially when we feel like our cause is just or when we feel like we’ve been wronged. Nevertheless, the book of James warns us of the enormous power our words have—of their potential for great good and for great harm (James 3:6-10). Continue Reading →

A plan to read the Greek New Testament in a year

Several years ago, I created a plan to read through the Greek New Testament in a year. For the most part, it tracks pretty closely with Lee Irons’ excellent schedule for reading the Greek New Testament in a year. My plan, however, varies a little bit. Because John’s writing is simpler Greek, my schedule goes through John’s Gospel at a faster pace than Irons’. As a result, there are no readings scheduled at the end of the year from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. These open dates at the end can be used as catch-up days. The schedule is given in two formats below.

DOC – Read the Greek NT in a Year

PDF – Read the Greek NT in a Year

If you are serious about reading, you might consider Zondervan’s reader’s edition of the Greek New Testament (pictured at top right). This volume contains the text of the UBS Greek New Testament. It provides definitions of Greek words that appear in the New Testament fewer than 30 times. This helps readers with less common vocabulary and allows them to focus on reading, comprehension, parsing, and grammatical issues. It’s available now from Amazon.com.

Top Ten YouTubes of the 2010’s

At the end of every year, I like to post a round-up of my favorite viral videos from the year. As we close out 2019, I thought it might be fun to do a round-up of the top videos from the last decade. As usual, this ranking is totally unscientific. Only one person was polled to compile this list—yours truly. Also, there actually more than ten, but who’s counting? If you think I’ve missed one, let me know on Twitter, and I’ll consider giving it an “honorable mention.” Enjoy!

If you’re interested, here are links to lists from previous years:

2019 | 2018 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010

Continue Reading →

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