Posts by Matthew Holst


Western society, as it slips inexorably into greater unbelief and alienation from God, has created new laws--both written and unwritten--concerning what is and what is not permissible to say in public...It is marked by a closed mind, governed by pride, alive and well in the world around us--and yet this attitude is also alive and well inside of the Church.


The Word, sacraments, prayer and discipline are often called the ordinary means of grace. They are the ordinary or usual means that God uses to grow us in both the knowledge and grace of Christ our Lord. As we, by faith, put ourselves under them, God blesses us. His Spirit works faith, repentance, assurance, joy--whatever is needful in us--to his own glory and our strengthening. It is in the word, sacraments and prayer, that we come face to face with the holy God of heaven and earth, the appalling wretchedness of our own sin and the glorious grace of God in Christ Jesus.


What are the marks of a spiritually healthy believer? In 1 Thessalonians 1:6-10 we find Paul’s thanksgiving to God for spiritually healthy Christians. He tells the Thessalonians--who were relatively new converts--a number of remarkable truths about themselves. I don't think that there is anywhere else in the New Testament where such an explicitly positive report is made of a church and its members.


We all fall short. We all sin, sometimes appallingly. At different times in your Christian life, you will inevitably need to confess your sin to someone and ask them for forgiveness. You may possible even have to face the consequences of your sin--even after asking for forgiveness. That is common ground for every Christian, whether they sit in the pew or stand behind a pulpit. Yet, the manner in which we ask forgiveness speaks much about the quality of our repentance. 


Regrettably, conflict is a reality in the church. Often that conflict is between a congregant and the pastor. After all, he is--in many ways--the focal point of the church’s public ministry. A good pastor is hard to find. A good congregant is equally hard to find. How then should you seek to approach your pastor when you have problems with his ministry, his behavior, his family or any other related issue?  Here are a few guidelines to help us all live peaceably with each other: