Apprising Ministries brings you – walks you through a tweet today by Young, Jr. that takes us to a revealing video indicating, among other things, that the SBC is going to have to deal with the issue of women pastors.
Meet another man who missed the first Christmas: Herod. Matthew 2 tells his story. He was very different from the innkeeper. He wasn’t ignorant; he was very well informed:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east, and have come to worship Him.” And when Herod the king heard it, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he began to inquire of them where the Christ was to be born. And they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it has been written by the prophet, ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler, who will shepherd My people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called the magi, and ascertained from them the time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, “Go and make careful search for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, that I too may come and worship Him.” (Matthew 2:1-8)
Herod pretended he wanted to worship Jesus Christ, but he was fearful of this One who was called the King of the Jews. He didn’t want any competition for his throne. The phrase “he was troubled” (v. 3) uses a word that means “agitated, stirred up, shaken up.” It conveys the idea of panic. His supremacy was in jeopardy. He had no use for any other king of the Jews.
If the innkeeper’s problem was preoccupation, Herod’s was fear. Herod was an Idumean; he wasn’t even a Jew. His father, Antipater, had done some favors to Rome. As payment, the Herod family was given the right to rule Judea, which was under Roman occupation. Herod was a consummate politician; he continued to do everything he could to gain favor with Rome. In return, the Roman senate gave him an army. Herod was able to extend his empire from Judea to Jordan to Syria to Lebanon. He even called himself “King of the Jews,” and he was known by that title until his death.
It’s no wonder he panicked when he heard someone else had been born who was being called King of the Jews. He was immediately threatened—even though Jesus was a baby and he was an old man.
Herod was ruthless. His chief appeal to Rome was the merciless efficiency with which he was able to extract taxes from the people. He had murdered all the Hasmoneans, the sons of the Maccabeans, who had led a revolution against Greece’s rule. He wanted to make sure they didn’t do it again, so he simply slaughtered them all. He had ten wives and twelve children. One of his wives, Mariamne, had a brother, Aristobulus, who was the high priest. Herod was afraid of Aristobulus so he murdered him. Then he killed her too.
His paranoia was legendary. He was afraid one of his two sons might take his throne, so he murdered both of them. His entire life was one of plotting and execution. Five days before his death he executed all his descendants who might have laid claim to the throne. In one of the final acts of his evil life, he had all the distinguished citizens of Jerusalem put in prison and commanded that they be slaughtered the moment he died. “These people will not weep when I die,” he said, “and I want them weeping, even if they weep over someone else.” So even at his death there was a great slaughter.
Herod was such a brutal, merciless man that it is not difficult to imagine how he would choose to vent his rage when he learned a child had been born who, according to prophecy, was the true King of the Jews. He was furious when he realized the magi were not going to report back to him.
Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its environs, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the magi. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled, saying, “A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be comforted, because they were no more.” (Matthew 2:16-2:18)
In his mad effort to wipe out one child, Herod had scores of children slaughtered. God had already warned Joseph and Mary, and they had fled to Egypt with Jesus. So Herod failed. Not only did he miss the first Christmas, but his rebellion also propagated a great tragedy. All this was because of fear—jealous fear.
There are Herod types even in our society. Herod’s fear was that someone else would take his throne. Lots of people are like him. They won’t allow anything to interfere with their career, their position, their power, their ambition, their plans, or their lifestyle. They are not about to let someone else be king of their lives. They see Jesus as a threat, and so they miss Christmas.
People don’t mind taking time off work to commemorate Jesus’ birth. They will even embrace Him as a resource when they get in trouble. They might gladly accept Him as a spiritual benefactor. They are even willing to add Him to their lives and call themselves Christians, but not if He insists on being King. That might be a threat to their lifestyle or career, or whatever else they are hanging on to. They are as fearful and as jealous of losing their own self‑determination as Herod was of losing his throne. They will guard at all costs their own priorities, their own values, their own morals. They won’t come to Christ if He threatens to cramp their style. They will not accept His right to rule over them. They want to run the show.
The world is full of people who cry out, “We do not want this man to reign over us” (cf. Luke 19:14). People want to determine their own careers, make their own decisions, master their own fates, chart their own destinies. And so we have a world of kings who are not about to bow to Jesus Christ. Such people are governed by the same kind of jealous fear that drove Herod. Like him they miss Christmas.
(Adapted from The Miracle of Christmas.)
Life News reports:
A common argument by Canadians who don’t want to see any restrictions on abortion is that “late-term abortions don’t happen anyway.”
Well, the National Post has smashed that myth to bits by providing an extremely useful info graphic so that Canadians can see first-hand the results of this country’s lack of any law restricting abortion. The info-graphic clearly shows how many pre-born children are dying at the hands of abortionists on a yearly basis in Canada–and even goes so far as to detail the ages at which these children are being killed.
“[W]e haven’t managed to break through the confusion and commercialization … and show the world what we’re actually celebrating”
Pastor Dale Lee McFarland was an up-and-coming star in the “Purpose Driven Church” movement, having left his position as a Microsoft executive to launch a thriving megachurch in Arizona and travel the world with evangelical superstar Rick Warren to train others in the methods of “The Purpose Driven Life.”
McFarland’s congregation, Radiant Church in Surprise, Ariz., had even boasted of receiving the Church Health Award from Purpose Driven Ministries and had grown to be one of the largest Assemblies of God churches in the country.
But earlier this year, a couple in the church filed a lawsuit, Courthouse News reports, alleging McFarland told the wife to have sex with him with “God’s approval” and divorce her husband.
Derek and Jody Gallagher claim McFarland “breached his duty as a pastor and counselor when [he] began manipulating a vulnerable Jody for his personal, perverted sexual pleasures.”
The Gallaghers’ sordid story includes charges McFarland told Jody her husband was “dangerous” and convinced her to change her home’s locks, sent her salacious and pornographic messages, exchanged nude photographs with her and manipulated her into having sex with him in the church building, even while he was offering the couple marriage counseling.
The Gallaghers, who are reportedly still married and seeking counseling elsewhere, are suing McFarland, Radiant Church Assembly of God and the Arizona District Council of the Assemblies of God in Maricopa County Court for $6.6 million, claiming breach of fiduciary duty, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent infliction of emotional distress and other claims.
McFarland, meanwhile, is no longer employed at Radiant Church, and in fact, the church has scrubbed all mention of him from its website.
The allegations, however, have caused some detractors of the Purpose Driven movement and its founder, Rick Warren, to renew their criticism.
Warren, the founder and pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., is also the author of “The Purpose Driven Life,” claimed to be the best-selling nonfiction book in world history, next to the Bible. An international activist and philanthropist, Warren has been credited by various media outlets as being one of the most influential Christians in the world.
But Warren’s critics have claimed his Purpose Driven ministry emphasizes only doing good, while dodging the kind of biblical repentance that is needed for a person – or a pastor – to have their life transformed by Christ. The Purpose Driven Church model, or PDC, discounts the fear of the Lord, Warren’s critics say, while encouraging pastors to become “masters” of their churches instead of servants.
James Sundquist, author of “Who’s Driving the Purpose Driven Church?” is one of the voices in a new video by producer Elliott Nesch called “Church of Tares,” which asserts Warren has built his organizations upon secular business management philosophies rather than the foundation of Jesus Christ, resulting in “a great compromise of the Great Commission.”
“In all fairness to Rick Warren, there is no direct connection between him and what this pastor is being sued for regarding sexual exploitation,” Sundquist told WND. “But there is an indirect connection in that Purpose Driven pastors are pastor as master and [are taught] psychotherapy and enforced covenants, [which can be] used to exploit a vulnerable member. McFarland’s struggles are not unique to Purpose Driven churches, but PDC is a template for abuse.”
“The fear of the Lord and the wrath of God and the total depravity of man are either not taught at all or are watered down in Warren’s PDC programs, so that church growth formulas and seeker-sensitive people are not offended,” Sundquist continued. “Now all of the right sermons on fear of the Lord and the wrath of God could be preached and adultery could still happen, but … if these things are not preached, how can we be surprised that these things happen in a church?”
The “Church of Tares” film can be seen below:
Rick Warren was contacted for comment on this story, but offered no reply.
Christian Today reports:
A mob of about 1,000 people in southern Sri Lanka, led by Buddhist monks, protested the presence of a church by overpowering police, vandalising property and beating the pastor on 9 December, Christian sources have said.
Despite Muslim domination of the region, Christians comprised an estimated 20% of the Middle East population until the early 20th century. Today, however, Christians make up a mere 5% of the Middle East and their numbers are fast dwindling. Writing in the Winter 2001 issue of Middle East Quarterly, scholar Daniel Pipes estimated that Middle East Christians would “likely drop to” half of their numbers “by the year 2020” because of declining birth rates, and a pattern of “exclusion and persecution” leading to emigration.
The Story: A new survey finds that 69 percent of American adults are very or moderately religious, based on self-reports of the importance of religion in their daily lives and attendance at religious services.
The Background: Based on the results, the survey finds that the United States remains a largely Christian nation, although one in which an increasing percentage of adults say that they don’t have a formal religious identity.
However, Gallup predicts that religion may be set to become increasingly important to Americans:
Although it is always difficult to predict the future, certain trends in the age composition of the American public suggest that religion may become increasingly important in the years to come. This is mostly the result of the fact that the number of Americans who are 65 and older will essentially double over the next 20 years, dramatically increasing the number of older Americans. As long as these aging baby boomers become more religious as they age—following the path of their elders—the average religiousness in the population will go up.
The report is based on more than 320,000 interviews conducted by Gallup between January 2 and November 30, 2012. Gallup asked, “Is religion an important part of your daily life” and, “How often do you attend church, synagogue, or mosque—at least once a week, almost every week, about once a month, seldom, or never?”
The Takeaways: Some of the more interesting findings from the survey include:
• Importance of religion increases with age. Americans are least religious at age 23 and most religious at age 80.
• Women are significantly more religious than men, at all ages and within all race and ethnic groups.
• Blacks are more religious than any other race or ethnic group in America, while Jews are the least religious. Mormons are the most religious group in America.
• Religiousness is highest in Southern states (Mississippi, Alabama, and Louisiana) and lowest in states located in the two northern corners of the country (Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Oregon, Washington, and Alaska).
• Upscale Americans are less religious than those with lower levels of education and income, but better-off Americans attend religious services just as often.
• Republicans are significantly more likely to say that religion is important in their daily lives and more likely to attend religious services regularly than either independents or Democrats.
The long wait is almost over! Since the third installment of The Lord of the Rings trilogy hit movie houses across the world in 2003, Tolkien fans have yearned to see the prequel to The Lord of the Rings transferred to the screen with equal power and beauty. Finally, after nearly a decade, that yearning is about to be satisfied.
And yet, as the world awaits the release of The Hobbit, Part I, it is worth remembering that Tolkien’s epic fantasies have not been universally hailed as great works of art. Many academics and literary critics in Tolkien’s day—and many still today—dismissed Tolkien’s tales as “mere” children’s literature not worthy of serious academic consideration.
Luckily for Tolkien’s millions of defenders, the architect of Middle-earth did not leave his fans to face alone and undefended the critiques of the literati. One year after publishing The Hobbit, Tolkien presented a lecture (on March 8, 1939) at the University of St. Andrews on the subject of fairy tales. While working on The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien expanded the lecture into a lengthy essay, “On Fairy-stories,” which was first published in Essays Presented to Charles Williams (1947), a collection edited by Tolkien’s friend and fellow fantasy author, C. S. Lewis.
Although the essay stands alone as one of the finest critical studies of the genre, it also serves as a powerful apology for Tolkien’s own work in the field. Those wishing to defend The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings as works of literary merit that belong, not in the nursery, but in the library of timeless world classics, need look no further than “On Fairy-stories.”
Every December, major news publications attempt to expose the myths of Christmas. This year is no exception. In its most recent print edition, Newsweek and New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman, take on the New Testament and its claims of historicity. Ehrman’s cover story tries to expose the Christmas tradition as a fabrication and legend.
Just in time for Christmas, the latest edition of Newsweek features a cover story written by Bart D. Ehrman, a scholar who is well-known for his belief that the New Testament largely is comprised of historical fiction. “Who is Jesus?” is the question on the cover. “The Myths of Jesus” is the headline on the essay itself. Dr. Albert Mohler examines Ehrman’s article as published in Newsweek, stating,
Christianity stands or falls on the truth concerning Jesus, and thus it also stands or falls on the authority and truthfulness of the Bible. What you believe about historical truth defines what you believe about Jesus Christ. Without the revealed truths of the New Testament, there is no Christianity, just superstitions and fantasies about Jesus.
In his most recent blog article, “Newsweek vs. the New Testament – It Must Be Christmas,” R. Albert Mohler Jr responds to Ehrman, claiming, “Without the revealed truths of the New Testament, there is no Christianity, just superstitions and fantasies about Jesus.” During Christmas, Christians celebrate and witness to the unshakable truth of the gospel, a gospel grounded in the historical events of the person and work of Jesus Christ.
You will not want to miss Mohler’s full response to Ehrman here at albertmohler.com