Rejected Weekly Links (1/8/2016)

Call it the first fail of 2016 for me…

Didn’t think I’d want this post I made go to waste. As I wrote what you find below, I was unaware that I wasn’t scheduled to post this on my church’s blog. Well, to those few who still subscribe to this blog, here’s a bonus!

“Most churchgoers assume that the sermon starts when the pastor opens his mouth on Sunday.  However, listening to a sermon actually starts the week before.  It starts when we pray for the minister, asking God to bless the time he spends studying the Bible as he prepares to preach.  In addition to helping the preacher, our prayers help create in us a sense of expectancy for the ministry of God’s Word.  This is one of the reasons that when it comes to preaching, congregations generally get what they pray for.” (Philip Ryken, quoted by Ken Ramey, Expository Listening: A Handbook for Hearing and Doing God’s Word)

by Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

Feliz Friday! Praise God for another year to bring Him glory on this earth in our daily lives! May we continue to seek His face every day, in every area! I hope these links will push you in the right direction, so here goes!

  • Denny Burk brings to our attention the hurt that transgenderism causes children when the culture seeks to change their bodies instead of their minds. In contrast, Ray Ortlund writes to encourage fathers to view their relationship with their children as a high calling from God and to excel in their role to His glory.
  • With the recent end of InterVarsity’s Urbana conference, some questions were raised as to what went on, specifically with the embrace of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and the denigration of the pro-life movement. The article is aptly titled, ‘Dorothy, This Is Not Your Parents’ InterVarsity Anymore.
  • Have you ever heard someone tell you, “God spoke to me” in reference to some belief/teaching they adhere to? Professor Michael Kruger gives an example from church history to demonstrate the danger of that uttering that kind of statement.
  • Have you made any resolutions for the new year? How are you doing with that? If you already find yourself struggling with keeping your resolutions, here’s some wise advice from Jonathan Edwards, the one who wrote those famous 70 resolutions, and yet struggled to keep them himself! For the marrieds, be aware of what can hurt your marriage this year, and for everyone, be prepared when disappointed with our relationships.
  • CCEF published their (every so often) magazine, CCEFNow, which gives an update of their current ministry work, along with articles related to biblical counseling. Articles cover the theological nature of counseling, the person-specific process of sanctification, ministering to youth, and more! This is definitely a resource you do not want to pass up!
  • How would you respond if someone objects to the truth of Christianity by bringing up the problem of evil, especially if that person is an atheist? Dan DeWitt responds. In responding to how to follow Christ in an ever-increasing secular culture, Tim Keller, Russell Moore, and Collin Hansen explain some ways to build bridges to the gospel using the cultural narrative of the day.
  • In succinct fashion, biblical counselor Robert Kellemen asks a simple, profound question: ‘Where do you fit into God’s mission?‘ Your role may be more valuable than you think.

That’s all for this week! Pray for College Life and Lumos, as they will be meeting tonight. Looking to seeing everyone back at church this Sunday!

Soli Deo Gloria


How to Give a Devotional

Hello everyone (or just hello, you two),

I’ve been referring to a blog post for some helpful advice on how to give a devotional, and since the post gets older, I thought I would link to it, as well as include, the advice that was given to me on this. Colin Smith is a member at Christ Presbyterian Church in North Carolina, and has written some helpful material on different theological topics (one that I have benefited greatly from is his paper on JEDP Theory, which is something UCSD students will encounter sometime in their studies).

Mr. Smith has posted a devotional blog entry about once a week, and since I have been given opportunity to give a devotional a number of times, I thought I would ask him for any guideline for what to say/how to prepare one (Is there a class that teaches this? I’d be curious where people learn how to do this, otherwise, this may have to do). The post comes from his devotional on Matthew 5:6.

UPDATE (November 6, 2012)

Mr. Smith was kind enough to make his readers aware of my blog, and I took that as an opportunity to follow-up what he wrote back in May (which I had planned to do but never got around to it). Well, he gave some very helpful feedback, and I wanted to throw in the latest comments from him on giving devotionals. I hope this is of help to all of you. 🙂

Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

May 8, 2012 at 1:19 am

Hello Mr. Smith,

I was wondering how people prepare to give devotionals. If you know of any resources or could pass along any helpful words of wisdom, that would be much appreciated. Thanks for the work you put on this blog! I’ve always appreciated your paper on the JEDP hypothesis. Your article kept me sane throughout college! =)


May 8, 2012 at 1:53 am

Thank you, Cesar! It’s especially humbling for me to think that any of my work has been used to bless and encourage others, so I thank God for that.

I don’t consider myself to be an expert when it comes to devotionals, but since I post one every week, I must have some idea what I’m doing! As I see it, the idea behind a devotional is to draw out truths or principles from a passage that will help the reader/listener draw closer to God. Ultimately it is to increase one’s devotion to Him, but it can also exhort and encourage. It shouldn’t be long, and it shouldn’t be too academic (which is something I need to watch out for!). For devotionals, I try to keep it simple, keep it focused, and make sure it’s practical. If you’re delivering a devotional, it shouldn’t be more than about 10 mins, and the tone of it should lead naturally into prayer. In a written format, again, it shouldn’t be too long, and it should draw the reader into prayer. As you look at the passage, ask yourself: What does this passage teach us about God? Does this passage point to behaviors or attitudes we need to cultivate in order to draw closer to God? Does this passage suggest specific prayer topics?

I’m not sure if that’s helpful to you–feel free to follow up with more questions if not.

Cesar Vigil-Ruiz

November 4, 2012 at 7:54 pm

Wow, thanks, Mr. Smith, for that shout out. I recently posted that because I kept looking for that particular post with your comments, and I kept forgetting under which passage you wrote that. Again, thanks for those helpful comments! I gave a devotional at our all-church retreat just yesterday, and I tried following your guidelines (though I asked a lot of questions to try and relate it to the passage for personal application).

If I can be so bold and ask a few follow-up questions (6 months later :-D ): how do you present the material you prepared for? Do you have a handwritten outline that you refer to (whether skeletal or detailed) when giving the devotional? Or do you try and remember what you studied? I have the tendency to try and stick to my notes (handwritten) so I avoid saying, “uhh” and “um” a lot, but it can come off like I’m just reading my notes. How you deliver it I guess is where I’m going with this.

Also, how have you come to learn how to give devotionals? It seems like there is an unwritten way of doing this that I have yet to learn, and as a pastoral intern, I know it will be a responsibility waiting in the wings for me, and I do want to be more prepared in this. Any resources would be very useful.

Lastly, when do you give these devotionals in particular? Do these studies come from your own personal Bible reading? Is it something you have as reference material that you refer back to at a later point?

I would appreciate your responses, and look forward to more of these as time goes on. Thanks again! =)


November 5, 2012 at 12:04 pm

You are welcome, Cesar! I don’t often get the opportunity to present devotionals these days (most of my teaching at church is my Romans adult Sunday School class), but when I do, I like to make sure I really know the passage and the information I intend to share. This helps to cut down on the “ums” and “uhhs” (at least for me), and it also helps me be prepared in case anyone has questions. In other words, I tend to over-prepare. When it comes to delivery, my ideal would be to just read the passage and go without notes. But I usually have at least an index card with a list of points I want to make. If I’ve prepared well enough, a word or a phrase should be enough to trigger the thought.

The purpose of the devotion should ultimately be to draw attention to Christ and exalt him, either through pointing out his character and attributes, or by exhorting us all to live and think in ways that honor him. Because of that, it’s really important that the devotion not be just an exercise in exegesis, or an opportunity to show off how much Greek or Hebrew I know. That may mean a lot of what I prepare never gets said. But that’s okay, since the preparation gives me confidence in my presentation.

The devotionals on the blog are not drawn from devotionals I have delivered, but are certainly ones I *could* deliver if called upon to do so. (The series I’ve started from Psalm 1 is drawn from a message I delivered some years ago; for the purposes of the blog, I’m just utilizing the research and making devotional application.) These are just meditations on passages of Scripture that I find uplifting and/or beneficial, and that I want to share with my readers. I prepare each devotional as I would if I were presenting it in person; the only difference is that the format here is written, not spoken.

As to where I learned this: years of being in church, and listening to and reading devotionals. There may be an art or technique to this that people have written about–I’m sorry, but I don’t really know of any such books to recommend. The best place to start, I think, is in your own study of Scripture, and your own quiet times before the Lord. If a passage really seems to speak to you, or bless you in a particular way, ask yourself why? And how would you communicate that to someone else?

I hope these thoughts are helpful to you. May the Lord richly bless your studies! :)


November 5, 2012 at 2:10 pm

Thanks, Mr. Smith. That gives me a lot of food for thought. I appreciate your time in answering this. It really means a lot. Looking forward to the next post! :-)


The Goal of Spiritual Discipline

I remember reading a Christian book on how to be a disciplined follower of Christ, and the first illustration came on the first page of the book, and has always stuck with me. It wasn’t only until yesterday that I was reminded of it again, bringing back memories of my continued desire to learn to play guitar, but now the stronger desire to be disciplined for the work of the Lord. Below is the story and application of it, along with a video that looks pretty close to what is described in the book. I hope you enjoy, and see the grace of God in being drawn closer to Christ by way of spiritual discipline. May we have that deep desire to be more like Christ in this life than like anything else we want to be in life.


Discipline without direction is drudgery.

Imagine six-year-old Kevin, whose parents have enrolled him in music lessons. After school every afternoon, he sits in the living room and reluctantly strums “Home on the Range” while watching his buddies play baseball in the park across the street. That’s discipline without direction. It’s drudgery.

Now suppose Kevin is visited by an angel one afternoon during guitar practice. In a vision he’s taken to Carnegie Hall. He’s shown a guitar virtuoso giving a concert. Usually bored by classical music, Kevin is astonished by what he sees and hears. The musician’s fingers dance excitedly on the strings with fluidity and grace. Kevin thinks of how stupid and klunky his hands feel when they halt and stumble over the chords. The virtuoso blends clean, soaring notes into a musical aroma that wafts from his guitar. Kevin remembers the toneless, irritating discord that comes stumbling out of his.

But Kevin is enchanted. His head tilts slightly to one side as he listens. He drinks in everything. He never imagined that anyone could play the guitar like this.

“What do you think, Kevin?” asks the angel.

The answer is a soft, slow, six-year-old’s “W-o-w!”

The vision vanishes, and the angel is again standing in front of Kevin in his living room. “Kevin,” says the angel, “the wonderful musician you saw is you in a few years.” Then pointing at the guitar, the angel declares, “But you must practice!”

Suddenly the angel disappears and Kevin finds himself alone with his guitar. Do you think his attitude toward practice will be different now? As long as he remembers what he’s going to become, Kevin’s discipline will have a direction, a goal that will pull him into the future. Yes, effort will be involved, but you could hardly call it drudgery.

When it comes to discipline in the Christian life, many believers feel as Kevin did toward guitar practice–it’s discipline without direction. Prayer threatens to be drudgery. The practical value of meditation on Scripture seems uncertain. The real purpose of a Discipline like fasting is often unclear.

First we must understand what we shall become. It is said of God’s elect in Romans 8:29, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” God’s eternal plan ensures that every Christian will ultimately conform to Christlikeness. We will be changed “when he appears” so that “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). This is no vision; this is you, Christian, in a few years.

So why all the talk about discipline? If God has predestined our conformity to Christlikeness, where does discipline fit in?

Although God will grant Christlikeness to us when Jesus returns, until then He intends for us to grow toward that Christlikeness. We aren’t merely to wait for holiness, we’re to pursue it. “Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy,” we’re commanded in Hebrews 12:14, for “without holiness, no one will see the Lord.”

Which leads us to ask what every Christian should ask, “How then shall we pursue holiness? How can we be like Jesus Christ, the Son of God?”

We find a clear answer in 1 Timothy 4:7: “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” NASB.

(Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life by Don Whitney, pp.15-16 [1997])

Spanish Resources

This page is for those whom I love in Argentina and would like to be of service to them in creating a post that will highlight Christian resources in Spanish that I encounter throughout my life. As far as I know, not many exist online, and so this will be very general and not subject specific. I hope it’s of help to not only those I know, but maybe someone I don’t know that is looking for resources to look at or point Spanish-speaking to in the future. [Updated 11/1/12]

Este pagina es para las personas que amo en Argentina y quiero ser un siervo para ellos en formando este que va a enfocar en recursos cristianos en español que encuentro durante mi vida. Por lo que sepa, no existe mucho de ese tema por medio de la red, asi que ese pagina va a ser muy general y no especifico en sujeto. Espero que ese va a ayudar no solo a las personas que conozco, pero tambien a los que visitan este pagina y esta buscando recursos para si mismo e a otras en el futuro.

Soporte a la Razón, La Organización: Articulos en Español (tiene articulos especifa sobre como defender la fe, pero en la manera de evidencias)

Deseando a Dios: Articulos y Sermones de John Piper

Ministerio Hispano de Grace Community Church (Henry Tolopilo) (incluye articulos de temas diferentes, sermones, y mas!)

Publicaciones Faro de Gracia (tiene lo mejor de los mejores de libros cristianos en español)

La Apologética Presuposicionalista (pagina que tiene traducciones de Greg Bahnsen, un defendor tremendo de la fe cristiana de la forma que recomiendo y que creo es mas biblico; este sitio tiene mas recursos en temas diferentes, como evangelismo, el evangelio, y la seguranza biblica de la salvacion)

Articulos de William Lane Craig en Español (un defendor de la fe cristiana usando la forma apologetica con evidencias; tiene articulos, traducciones de videos, y respuestas a preguntas comunes de la fe)

Gracia a Vosotros (sitio del ministerio de John MacArthur y Henry Tolopilo; tiene sermones, articulos, preguntas y respuestas, un devocional diario, distintivos doctrinales, y un folleto con el mensaje del evangelio)

9Marks en Español (sitio del ministerio de Mark Dever y mas pastores que tiene articulos sobre la importancia de la iglesia, y sujetos alrededor de ese tema; mucho para aprender)


This will be a stand-alone post with links to many helpful articles, sermons, possibly books, that are free to read online. This would be more for my sake, as I collect what I have found to be useful in dealing with people who are for abortion, or don’t see a problem with it. I hope this is of benefit to anyone who comes across this post. (Last updated 1/22/14)


Pro-Life Aristotle (interview with Christopher Kaczor on his book The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life, and the Question of Justice)

Abortion and Human Equality (interview with Francis Beckwith on the 41st anniversary of Roe v. Wade)

The Case Against Abortion (interview with Francis Beckwith on his book Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice)

Tollefsen Argues “A Philosophical Case Against Abortion” (interview with bioethicist Christopher Tollefsen)

Biblical Ethics: An Overview (has a section on abortion entitled, ‘The Beginning of Life and Abortion’ from the ESV Study Bible; only accessible to those who have purchased the online edition)

The 2012 Elections: Five Questions for Pro-Life Advocates by Scott Klusendorf (from

Dead Silence: Must the Bible Say Abortion is Wrong Before We Can Know It’s Wrong? by Scott Klusendorf (from

The Vanishing Pro-Life Apologist: Putting the “Life” Back Into the Abortion Debate by Scott Klusendorf (from

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 1): The Appeal to Pity by Francis Beckwith (from

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 2): Arguments from Pity, Tolerance, and Ad Hominem by Francis Beckwith (from

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 3): Is the Unborn Human Less than Human? by Francis Beckwith (from

Answering the Arguments for Abortion Rights (Part 4): When Does a Human Become a Person? by Francis Beckwith (from

The Supreme Court, Roe v. Wade, and Abortion Law by Francis Beckwith

Suffer the Violinist: Why the Pro-Abortion Argument from Bodily Autonomy Fails by Richard J. Poupard (from

Potential Misunderstandings (1 of 2) by Matthew Lu (from The Witherspoon Institute)

Potentiality Rightly Understood (2 of 2) by Matthew Lu (from The Witherspoon Institute)

Protect the Weak and Vulnerable: The Primacy of the Life Issue by O. Carter Snead (from The Witherspoon Institute)

Embryo Ethics by Robert P. George

Pro-Life Articles from the Life Training Institute (Scott Klusendorf’s organization; the best material anywhere!)

Abort73 (most comprehensive website you’ll ever see)


The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture by Scott Klusendorf (Kindle)

Abortion: A Rational Look at an Emotional Issue by R.C. Sproul (Kindle)

Pro-Life Answers to Pro-Choice Arguments [Expanded and Updated] by Randy Alcorn (Kindle)

Why Pro-Life?  [Kindle edition only]by Randy Alcorn

Stand for Life: A Student’s Guide for Making the Case and Saving Lives by John Ensor and Scott Klusendorf (Kindle)

Innocent Blood: Challenging the Powers of Death with the Gospel of Life by John Ensor (Kindle)

Common Ground Without Compromise: 25 Questions to Create Dialogue on Abortion by Stephen Wagner

Answering the Call: Saving Innocent Lives, One Woman at a Time by John Ensor (Kindle)

Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion by Francis J. Beckwith

The Ethics of Abortion: Women’s Rights, Human Life and the Question of Justice by Christopher Kaczor (Kindle)

Embryo: A Defense of Human Life by Robert P. George

Ethics for a Brave New World by John & Paul Feinberg (has 2 chapters, 93 pages, on abortion, along with chapters on euthanasia, capital punishment, sex and birth control, homosexuality, genetic engineering, divorce and remarriage, war, and the relationship between the Christian and the secular state; wide-ranging but good intro to all of these topics worth wrestling through)


10 Questions a Pro-Choice Candidate Is Never Asked by the Media by Trevin Wax

The Apple Argument Against Abortion by Peter Kreeft

Human Personhood Begins at Conception by Peter Kreeft

D.A. Carson on Practical Strategies for Addressing the Abortion Issue by Justin Taylor

A Brief Overview of Abortion Facts and Counter-Arguments by Massimo Lorenzini

Why I am Pro-Life: A Short, Nonsectarian Argument by Douglas Groothuis

The Siamese Violinist by Steve Hays

In the News

The Mourdock Moment: Life, Death, and Lies on the Campaign Trail (Al Mohler)

Argentina 2012 Journal – July 1

This is the last assigned reading: chapter 21 from Evangelism, “Short-Term Missions: Supporting Those We Sent.” It’s a fitting conclusion to an already great book on evangelism, since this chapter deals explicitly with what we, as a missions team, are trying to accomplish. There are many ideas of what a short-term missions trip ought to look like, and how we as a church do it is very different than what a lot of churches do. That doesn’t make it necessarily right (but could be seen as problematic), but it’s been a blessing to know that our church does not simply go with the flow of how things are done, especially when there are a lot of practices within the church that are done simply for the sake of tradition. No biblical considerations are cited as to why certain things are done, and this includes the way missions is done.

This chapter has the healthy tone of dealing with misconceptions many may have with regards to short-term missions, giving some biblical guidelines to remedy the problem. Seeing short-term missions as a replacement for long-term missions, or as a valid form of church planting, or for immature believers to become more mature, or as a poor use of funds are to have accepted an unbiblical view(s) of what many churches seek to do faithfully. What the apostle Paul did on his missionary journeys could be called “Paul’s STM trips” (p. 297). What Paul tried to do is stated well by Clint Archer:

“Some of Paul’s journeys were neither church planting nor primarily evangelistic in nature. Instead he had a goal of encouraging those who were in the church plants” (p.297).

Citing Acts 15:36, he later writes, “This is what STMs do best: encourage, minister, and bring resources to those who are laboring for the gospel away from home” (p. 298). He then goes through the goals of STMs, which is always to reinforce the long-term missionaries’ goals and assist them. How we do that is by selecting the right target (five groups: the missionary, the local believers, the sending church, the local unbelievers, and the STM traveler), the right task (evangelism, labor, camps, and/or specialized ministry), and the right team (spiritually qualified, skilled, and at least one who has travel experience).

This chapter helped reaffirm the plans we have in mind as we go out to Argentina and be a support to Pastor Jorge and IBM. We always hope and pray that we would be of service to them out of obedience to Christ and His truth. Hopefully, that is accomplished on this trip and we can continue to be of service where we are in our own homes and communities. Soli Deo Gloria!

Argentina 2012 Update – July 6th

This is the email I sent out to my family as an update to what’s going on:

Hello everyone!

Sorry I haven’t been able to update you all on the things that have been happening here…it’s been an adventure, to say the least! First off, we are all ok. We left SD Wed morning at 6a to get to LAX at 8a to leave for our flight at 10a to Miami. We got there and then flew from Miami to Buenos Aires that night and arrived at around 6:45a on Thursday. We originally planned on leaving to Tucuman later that day at 3:20p and get to Tucuman at 5:20p, but our flight got cancelled. We weren’t told why, but they had already rescheduled our flight for later (6p). However, that flight was cancelled as well, and then we were originally going to fly out Friday morning at 6a. Cancelled again. Then one more rescheduled flight to 3:20p, but it was cancelled one more time. We are still in Buenos Aires. We spent the night in the airport, because we thought it wouldn’t be worth staying at a hotel and also we would need to check-in our luggage at 5a. The issue has seemed to be something with air traffic control in Tucuman. We have only been told that they are only accepting emergency flights right now, and we are not one of those flights. We don’t know what to expect tomorrow, but we are hopeful that God will still bring us to Tucuman safely. No one is sick, though we had not showered these past few days! =)
We are currently at a hotel for the night, and will head out early in the morning, since it was hard to sleep in the plastic chairs they had inside the airport. Please keep praying for us, that we would all be thankful still for the opportunity to go and share the Gospel to those who do not know it, and be willing to serve one another, as well as the church in Tucuman, to the glory of our great God. Love you all! =)