After stating in 2008, “I don’t think the sacrament of marriage should be changed. Some people say that Jesus didn’t talk about homosexuality, and that’s technically true. But marriage is all through the Bible, and it’s not gender-neutral,” far-left leader and CEO of Sojourners Jim Wallis’ position on marriage has evolved. Contrary to what the Bible teaches, Wallis now holds the view that marriage should include same-sex couples for the reason that we are losing marriage in our society.
The jobs recovery is a complete and total myth. The percentage of the working age population in the United States that had a job in March 2013 was exactly the same as it was all the way back in March 2010. In addition, as you will see below, there are now more than 101 million working age Americans that do not have a job. But even though the employment level in the United States has consistently remained very low over the past three years, the Obama administration keeps telling us that unemployment is actually going down. In fact, they tell us that the unemployment rate has declined from a peak of 10.0% all the way down to 7.6%. And they tell us that in March the unemployment rate fell by 0.1% even though only 88,000 jobs were added to the U.S. economy. But it takes at least 125,000 new jobs a month just to keep up with population growth. So how in the world are they coming up with these numbers? Well, the reality is that the entire decline in the unemployment rate over the past three years can be accounted for by the reduction in size of the labor force. In other words, the Obama administration is getting unemployment to go down by pretending that millions upon millions of unemployed Americans simply do not want jobs anymore. We saw this once again in March. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, more than 600,000 Americans dropped out of the labor market during that month alone. That pushed the labor force participation rate down to 63.3%, which is the lowest it has been in more than 30 years. So please don’t believe the hype. The sad truth is that there has been no jobs recovery whatsoever. (Read More….)
Increasingly, private debt collection has come to put pressure on law enforcement to aggressively pursue available legal opportunities to arrest those who don’t pay their bills — such as when a civil judgment has been issued against an already-delinquent borrower and that person subsequently is found to be in contempt of the judgment because he still can’t pay.
Fox News reported last week that “the U.S. Army listed Evangelical Christianity and Catholicism as examples of religious extremism along with Al Qaeda and Hamas during a briefing with an Army Reserve unit based in Pennsylvania….The incident occurred during an Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief on extremism.”
The Christian Post is reporting that Matthew Vines, a Harvard-educated gay Christian who sparked a great deal of controversy in the church community last year with his in-depth analysis on why the Bible does not condemn homosexuality, has launched a new leadership training conference aimed at teaching Christians how to lead LGBT-friendly churches and communities
The Christian Post reports:
The American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky sent a letter Thursday to 174 public school superintendents citing the possibility of a lawsuit in the 2013-2014 academic school year if they continue to allow The Gideons International to distribute Bibles, the New Testament and religious literature to students on public school campuses.
Jay Bakker, son of televangelists Jim Bakker and the late Tammy Faye Bakker Messner and self-labeled ‘evangelical punk preacher,’ has moved from New York to Minneapolis with intentions of starting a new church in the Midwest city. Bakker was one of the first to be involved in what is known as the Emerging Church movement. The Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that there appears to be a growing affinity for this movement in the city where Bakker’s parents first met.
His move here reflects Minnesota’s growing prominence in the Emerging Church movement, an unconventional, broad-minded brand of Christianity that questions traditional religious labels and practices. Source
Bakker’s Brooklyn church, Revolution, currently meets in a bar called Pete’s Candy Store and the unconventional pastor is seeking a similar venue for his new congregation. Read more of this post
…Christian men nowadays, while they should be attached to the church to which they belong, and the more intense that attachment the better for a thousand reasons, yet they should not regard the church as being a peaceful dormitory where they are all to sleep, but a common barracks where they are all to be trained, and out of which they are to issue and carry on the sacred crusade for Christ. We are not to be frozen together with the compactness of a mass of ice, through mere agreement of creed, but welded together like bars of iron by the fire of a common purpose and a common zeal. If we are what we should be, we shall be continually breaking forth on the right hand and on the left; each man, each woman, according to the calling that God has given to us, we shall be seeking to extend the Redeemer’s kingdom in all directions.
My dear brethren, ye are arrows in the quiver, how gladly would I see you shot forth upon the enemy from the bow of the Lord. Many of you are as battleaxes and weapons of war hanging on the wall. O that you may be taken down and used of the Lord in his glorious fight. Lo, on the walls of Zion hang a thousand bucklers, all shields of mighty men; but the great need of the age is that these weapons be removed from their resting and rusting, and carried into the thick of the fray. May the Lord send you forth, O ye who have been saved under my ministry! May he hurl you forth with power divine, like a mighty hail against his adversaries. May each man among you be eager to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints and to save souls from going down into the pit. Here, then, is your permanent vocation, try to realize it.
From a sermon by Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled “Sheep Among Wolves,” delivered August 19, 1877.
One does not have search long to discover the massive leadership failure that plagues our world today. Christians are rightly and necessary concerned about leadership, but many Christians seem to aim no higher than secular standards and visions of leadership. We can learn a great deal from the secular world and its studies of leadership and its practices, but the last thing the church needs is warmed over business theories decorated with Christian language.
In his most recent blog post R. Albert Mohler Jr., explains how the sovereignty of God and wise stewardship should influence how leaders lead. The sovereignty of God helps a leader understand their place while wise stewardship helps a leader to understand their role.
You can read Dr. Mohler’s entire article here.
The share of American adults who are either working or actively looking for work — i.e.: the labor force participation rate — fell to its lowest point since 1979, according to today’s jobs report.
If 37 percent of American adults aren’t in the labor force, what are they doing?
Bloomberg Businessweek has a beautiful graphical explanation. Click it.
Christian News Network joins several other news outlets in reporting on this story out of Liberty University:
A pastor’s son and former student at Liberty University turned open homosexual released an article this week outlining his personal experience at the Christian educational institution, noting that none of his counselors or professors ever sought to turn him from the homosexual lifestyle. Now Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. is acknowledging the student’s story and affirming that staff handled the matter in a way that is consistent with university protocol — to love and not judge others.
Recent research indicates that the number of people who do not consider themselves a part of an organized religion is steadily on the rise.
Interestingly enough, though the number of those religiously unaffiliated is increasing, there is little to no trend in the number of those who express atheist or agnostic beliefs. People aren’t saying they don’t believe in God. They’re saying they don’t believe in religion. They are not rejecting Christ. They are rejecting the church.
This begs the question, “Why are we losing our religion?”
The growing number of people who don’t identify as part of an organized religion speaks to an increasing wariness of labels in our culture.
Some may be losing their religion, but I challenge the notion that faith in general is waning.
I believe, instead, the trend of people who don’t identify as part of an organized religion speaks to an increasing wariness of labels in our culture. Those labels carry baggage for many who might have been hurt by the Church or let down by religion.
You see, religion alone can only take a person so far. Religion can make us nice, but only Christ can make us new. Religion focuses on outward behavior. Relationship is an inward transformation. Religion focuses on what I do, while relationship centers on what Jesus did. Religion is about me. Relationship is about Jesus.
In order to become a new person, we need Christ. Only through an active ongoing relationship with Jesus can we become transformed and overcome the labels that bind us.
In fact, I’ve struggled with what people think of my label: pastor. For many, this label carries emotional baggage.
When I meet someone new, I get to talk to him or her like a regular person. We joke around, talk about our families, and then the inevitable happens. “What do you do for a living?” When I answer this question, I typically get one of two responses. I either get an onslaught of Christianese phrases — “Oh, praise the Lord! What a blessing, brother Craig!” or I get stonewalled, and the conversation dies as quickly as it started.
One time when this happened, the person I was talking with politely shared that he didn’t like religious people. I chimed in that I didn’t like religious people either. His mouth nearly dropped to the floor. I explained that religion is about rules, but being a Christian is about relationship.
Now I’m not saying is that religious organizations are useless. Obviously, I’m a part of one. I am the pastor of a church and truly believe what Bill Hybels asserts: “The local church is the hope of the world.” But in order to reach the current generation and generations to come, we must change the way we do things. That’s why we like to say, “To reach people no one is reaching, we have to do things no one is doing.”
As churches, we don’t have the liberty to change the message, but we must change the way the message is presented. We have to discover our “altar ego”—and become who God says we are instead of who others say we are.
Peeling off the labels that cling to our reputation brings great freedom for us as individuals and as the global body of believers known as the Church. Only when we push past those artificial constraints can we truly become who God created us to be.
For example, many people think churches are “all about money.” The think that churches just want people to give to them but that they rarely give back.
Besides investing in our communities and helping the poor, our church moved beyond the labels and status quo to embrace generosity in a way that some have called crazy. We’ve created and given away millions of YouVersion Bible Apps every month—more than 85 million to date. We give away our weekend teachings to hundreds of churches every week, for free. Rather than selling products our church creates, we give away as much as we can. More than 100,000 pastors and leaders downloaded more than three million resources last year.
Despite the lack of religious affiliation the research shows, the interest in these spiritual resources has never been greater. As a church, we don’t see these research trends as a threat, but as an opportunity for us to do more.
Craig Groeschel is the pastor of the nation’s second largest church, LifeChurch.tv in Edmond, Okla., and the author of several books. His latest is “Altar Ego: Becoming Who God Says You Are” (Zondervan, February 2013).
You’ve heard of things like “price creep,” right? Slowly, but surely, prices rise on something, or on things in general. It’s slow, but sure…a “creep.”
There is a growing phenomenon in many churches – particularly large, fast-growing evangelical churches – that can only be called “heresy creep.” No, not in ways easily spotted, like denying the work of Christ on the cross, or rejecting the infallibility of Scripture.
It’s more subtle than that.
For example, consider the historic, orthodox understanding of the Trinity: God is three Persons who are one God. Not three gods, but three Persons who are one God; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
This is not a peripheral idea, but one central to the Christian faith. It is who God is, and who He has revealed Himself to be in the Scriptures.
So what does it mean if a church does not think clarity on this doctrine is important? So much so that they bring in a guest speaker who, while famous and clearly talented, has a relationship with the doctrine that has been, to say the least, suspect? In other words, a speaker who is known for having views on the Person of God which are modalistic, not Trinitarian?
Modalism is the view that God is not three Persons, but a single Person who has manifested or revealed Himself in three “modes” or ways – as Father, or Son, or Holy Spirit. Typically it is presented with the different modes being tied to historical periods. For example, God manifested Himself as Father in the Old Testament, then as Jesus, and then as the Holy Spirit following the ascension of Jesus.
But, the modalist would say, He is not three-in-one.
This is a denial not only of the teaching of the Scriptures, but also centuries of settled orthodoxy in the church itself as presented by the most ancient creeds Christendom has manifest.
The danger is that the average attender considers a guest speaker at their church someone the church affirms. They then open their hearts and minds to the message (and the speaker) with little or no suspicion. If entertaining, they go on to listen to other talks, buy their books, and in the end, take them into their world as a primary influencer.
That is what I mean by “heresy creep.”
If you were to ask the church leadership, “Do you believe in the Trinity?”, you would no doubt hear an emphatic “Of course!” But when they use that vocabulary, are they employing a biblical dictionary? And even if they do, are they employing theological care with who they bring in to speak, the books in their bookstore, or the conferences they highlight?
Another example has to do with the health and wealth gospel. This is the idea that if you walk faithfully with Christ, and [usually] give to a particular ministry, you will be rewarded with “health and wealth” in return as a result of God’s blessing.
The “health and wealth” gospel has become widely decried, but much of its emphasis has been reintroduced by mainstream evangelical churches in the way it talks about faith, or the reward that comes with tithing. It may not be “health and wealth” but it sure does sound like “name it and claim it.” The idea of having “big” faith is that it will allow you to achieve whatever your dreams may be, and that, along with giving to your local church, will be the avenue to prevent terrible things from happening in your life.
The danger is that while God clearly does respond to faith, our faith is not a set of orders to God as if our faith says “jump” and God has to say, “how high?”. It’s not something to be presented as one would “positive thinking” or “achieve what you believe.” That’s nonsense, and has little to do with the sinews of faith.
Further, giving to the local church of which you are a part is something I firmly uphold as a command of Scripture, and I believe the Bible teaches clear blessing/reward attached to it. But the nature of that blessing can be any number of things. And the idea that if we don’t give, terrible things will happen to us, is a reverse form of “health and wealth” that seems intent on manipulating people into giving, which the New Testament knows nothing about. Yes, giving invites God’s involvement in that aspect of our lives, but the giving dynamic is not what keeps out, or let’s in, the demonic. It’s more about what invites in, or keeps out, God’s supernatural activity.
As Bonhoeffer had to differentiate between the nature and power of authentic grace, as compared to its counterfeit – what he called “cheap” grace, which was grace devoid of repentance – there is a need to talk of “cheap faith.”
Cheap faith is faith without sacrifice, without suffering, without deprivation, without selflessness. Authentic faith is faith that has little to do with what you get out of it, and everything to do with how God is glorified through it.
Such matters are subtle, to be sure.
But that’s the nature of heresy creep.
It just creeps in.
James Emery White
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His newly released book is The Church in an Age of Crisis: 25 New Realities Facing Christianity (Baker Press). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log-on to http://www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.
I came across an interesting website off the beaten track. It has a few useful links to help you if you have lost your zeal for evangelism. Mark Edward Sohmer has a couple of helpful notes:
I am a member of Fellowship Bible Church in Chester, NH. In 2006, I was given the privilege and honor to lead an Evangelism class from The Way of the Master ministry. The class is called the Basic Training Course. You can learn more about this class at: http://www.wayofthemaster.com/btc/. I am making available my notes and other files that may be valuable here, so that anyone can download them. My prayer is that Christians will be edified and equipped to fulfill our purpose: to be used by God to seek and save that which is lost.
More info here from his website.
- William Carey: Doctrines of Grace in Evangelism (atwistedcrownofthorns.com)
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