I Couldn't Live the Lie of my Sexuality

“Redemption. That was what he was planning for me. So that night I became a mourning person: “Tears are for the evening, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5). Our mourning informs our “morning.” By not being afraid to feel the pain that comes from sin, sorrow, shame, and suffering, we find reconciliation and redemption. In fact, we find what we were hungry for all along: Jesus himself.”

Jim Pocta will be our guest at CPC this October for “Just Who do You Think You Are Anyway: Conversations about Gender, Sexuality, and the Gospel.” Read his story and get a taste of what is to come.

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Ethan Tonne
William the Baptist

Having been raised in a Baptist church, educated at a Baptist college and seminary, and serving in a handful of Baptist churches early in ministry, I didn’t wake up one morning and decide to become Presbyterian. For nearly three years, I studied the issue of baptism and read everything I could get in my hands. One of the works that helped me the most is a short book titled “William the Baptist”. Written in 1877 by James M. Chaney, "William the Baptist" is a theological presentation written in dialogue form. William meets Dora and a romance soon blossoms with only one minor snag, William is a Baptist and Dora is a Presbyterian. Over the course of several conversations with their respective pastors, William comes to embrace Dora’s position of covenantal baptism. If you’re wrestling with the issue of baptism, I hope that “William the Baptist” will be as helpful to you as it was to me.

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Ethan Tonne
Thoughts Following the PCA General Assembly

Last week, June 25-28, the Presbyterian Church in America held its 47th General Assembly in Dallas, TX.  For those of you who are new to CPC, General Assembly is our annual denominational gathering.  I had a front row seat for the business of the assembly because I served on the Overtures Committee.  The Overtures Committee is a super-committee that is tasked with reviewing and making proposals on each overture submitted.  This year there were 47 overtures and we spent sixteen hours discussing and debating each of them (originally there were 48 but Overture 29 from Metro New York Presbytery was withdrawn).  

Time and space do not permit a recounting of each individual overture, so I will only address a handful that were related to the hot-button issues this year and I’ll address those hot-button issues in three categories.

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Ethan Tonne
A Tender Touch for Dirty Feet

Today is Maundy Thursday—the day before the crucifixion. It is a day to bear his touch before our lust, rage, and self-deception send him to the cross. The cross is not merely his alignment and solidarity with our suffering. It is that and far more. He bears the weight of all our idolatry and self-righteousness we refuse to own, and he takes it on to free us of a burden we couldn’t shoulder.

Sometimes the best way to understand what God is doing is through a story. Dr. Dan Allender shares a beautiful story of his experience of the meaning of Maundy Thursday, we hope it is an encouragement to you.

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Ethan Tonne
Why Easter Joy Belongs to the Melancholy

Holy Week presents us with a roller coaster of emotions that can be rather disorienting. Often we find ourselves focusing more on whether or not we are feeling the right thing than on Christ who is the focus of all we do this week.

It is our hope that these words might serve as a helpful guide and encouragement as you remember each element of Christ’s gift for you in his life, death, and resurrection.

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Ethan Tonne
The Sovereign God's Care For His Own

In this present season of Lent we are reminded of our frailty and suffering that we might more fully trust in and depend on the loving care of our gracious God. Dr. David Powlison’s words in this article are a strong reminder of the certainty of God’s care for his people.

“God’s sovereign purposes don’t include the goal of just accepting your troubles. He’s not interested in offering you some cognitive perspective to help get you through a rough patch. He is working so you know him, so you trust him, so you love him.”

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Ethan Tonne
Understanding the Holy Spirit

As many in our midst have had questions in recent weeks about the nature of the person and work of the Holy Spirit, we have put together this article attempting to provide clarity and a way forward in the discussion. We hope you will find it helpful and uplifting.

The Holy Spirit is a figure who unfortunately elicits a great deal of controversy in the Christian community. Part of this almost certainly flows from the Spiritual and emotional connection Christians have with the Spirit. We are after all, indwelt by the Spirit of God, the Spirit is our helper and comforter. As such, our understanding of who the Spirit is and how the Spirit works is extremely important for us so when we encounter fellow Christians with different beliefs about the nature and workings of the Holy Spirit emotions can run high and the ground can be fertile for heated disagreement.

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Ethan Tonne
Ash Wednesday?

Ash Wednesday. What is it? Where did it come from? Why are we having an Ash Wednesday Service at CPC? Ash Wednesday hasn’t been a traditional element of Reformed Worship so these questions and others like them may be on your mind.

This article shows some of the history and emphasis of Ash Wednesday and we have provided a few thoughts about the particular application of this tradition at CPC.

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Ethan Tonne
The Holy Spirit's Ministry

Dr. Sinclair Ferguson’s work on the Holy Spirit is some of the most thoughtful, challenging, and encouraging material on the topic that is in print. This article from Tabletalk magazine provides a helpful description of the active ministry of the Holy Spirit.

“Well-meaning Christians sometimes mistake the Spirit’s work of illumination for revelation, which, unhappily, can lead to serious theological confusion and potentially unhappy practical consequences. But the doctrine of illumination also helps us explain some of the more mysterious elements in our experience without having to resort to the claim that we have the gift of revelation and prophecy. “

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Ethan Tonne
The Holy Spirit

As our study of the book of Acts has led us to a consideration of the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, we would encourage you to take some time to watch a lecture given by Dr. Sinclair Ferguson, a gifted theologian, author, and speaker in out theological tradition.

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Ethan Tonne
Can Anger at God Be Righteous?

The human experience is a vastly complex from an emotional perspective. Our emotions are shaped, triggered and influenced in a myriad of ways. This presents particular challenges to the Christian seeking to be faithful in their emotional life and in their relationship with God.

The Psalms offer us an invaluable resource when it comes to navigating the emotional storms of life and can powerfully teach us to be faithful before God and authentic in our emotional life.

In the most recent issue of Christianity Today, J. Todd Billings penned a helpful article to aide us in this challenging area of Christian faithfulness.

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Ethan Tonne
Our Wildest Dreams Aren't Half Wild Enough

Frederick Buechner encourages us to reconsider the joy that is meant to permeate the Christian life in this article from Renovare.org

Laughter gets mixed up with all sorts of things in the Bible and in the world too, things like sneering, irony, making fun of, and beating the competition hollow. It also gets mixed up with things like comedians and slipping on banana peels and having the soles of your feet tickled. There are times when you laugh to keep from crying like when the old wino staggers home in a party hat, or even in the midst of crying like when Charlie Chaplin boils his shoe for supper because he’s starving to death. But one hundred percent, bonded, aged-in-the-wood laughter is something else again.

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Ethan Tonne
Why Hospitality is for all Christians

A helpful call to hospitality as a Christian discipline from Rosaria Butterfield. Originally posted on Q Ideas

Radically ordinary hospitality lived out in the family of God gathers daily, prays constantly, and needs no invitation to do so. And those who don’t yet know the Lord are summoned for food and fellowship. Earthly good is shown as good, and the solitary may choose to be alone but need not be chronically lonely.

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Ethan Tonne
Justification and the Teen Identity Crisis

Our friend Kristen Hatton provides gospel counsel for parents of teenagers.

To debunk Satan’s whispering lies convincing them they are not enough, what they need to hear again and again is who Christ says they are. And He says they are more than enough – more than conquerors – His beloved children, to whom all things have been given. Yes, the God of the universe who knit them together in their mothers’ wombs, casts His love upon them and ascribes them with infinite value, calls them His sons and daughters; heirs of His eternal promises.

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Ethan Tonne
When Love Becomes Codependent Enabling

Scott Sauls, pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church Nashville, TN,  shares some helpful thoughts on the nature of love.

While none of us wants to run around telling other people what’s wrong with them, it is a mistake to think that never offering critique—especially a humble one—is a loving thing. In fact, sometimes love requires that we stand up and in humble boldness speak hard words to those whom we love.

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Ethan Tonne
The Future of Religion in a "Secular Age"

James K.A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College, has penned a thoughtful articulation of how the Church must understand itself in a secular context.

But what might stop people short—what might truly haunt them—will be encounters with religious communities who have punched skylights in our brass heaven. It will be “traditional” Christian communities—drawing on the wells of historic, “incarnate” Christian worship, with its smells and bells in all its Gothic strangeness—who embody a spirituality that carries whiffs of transcendence that will be strange and therefore all the more enticing.

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Ethan Tonne
Becoming a Beautiful Presence in an Angry Culture

A great post from Richard Doster in 'By Faith'

Christian apologetics, of course, requires us to defend the faith in terms of objective truth, but we shouldn’t forget — especially now — that beauty, too, is integral to our faith. Nor should we ignore beauty’s peculiar power.

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Ethan Tonne