Daily Archives: November 12, 2013

John Piper Responds to Strangefire Conference

Very Sick Churches – Thom Rainer

Churches typically do not move from good health to dying overnight. It is usually a more subtle deterioration. I have identified five simple stages:

  • Health
  • Symptoms of sickness
  • Very sick
  • Dying
  • Deceased

I estimate that about 40%, or around 150,000 churches in America, are in the very sick stage. They are one stage away from being terminal.

Is it difficult for a church to move out of this stage before it becomes terminal? Absolutely. Most churches will continue to deteriorate. But I always have the hope Jesus gave us when he responded to His disciples about the rich young man: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:24).

So what are some of the indicators that a church is very sick? Again, terminology and definitions are imprecise, but here are some of the more notable signs:

  • Significant numerical decline over the past ten to twenty years. Most of the time we measure worship attendance for this metric.
  • Prolonged times of apathy. Occasional times of intense conflict. The church seems more apathetic than anything else, but conflict can arise with surprising intensity.
  • The church is not known in the community. Ask a clerk at a store in the community. You may be surprised how few even know the church exists.
  • New members are rare. The exodus clearly exceeds the inflow.
  • Revolving door of pastors. Frustration and conflict limit the years of pastoral tenure.
  • The “good old days” are typically twenty or more years in the past. There has been a long season since anyone felt really good about the church.

Very sick churches do not have to manifest all of these symptoms, but they typically have at least three of them. Once they move to this stage, reversal of the deterioration is incredibly difficult. If the members had recognized and acknowledged the problems earlier, the help could have been more beneficial.

Read more here: http://thomrainer.com/2013/11/11/very-sick-churches/

Four Points About Tongues from 1 Corinthians 14 – Phil Johnson

A goodly portion of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians is focused on correcting that congregation’s abuse of spiritual gifts—tongues in particular. The whole theme of the apostle’s admonition about how the gifts were to function is neatly summarized in 1 Corinthians 14:40: “All things should be done decently and in order.” Along the way, it’s hard to miss the stress the apostle places on that which edifies. The point Paul makes repeatedly is that the gifts should always be used in a way that enlightens and instructs the mind. “I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (v. 19).

That principle has been largely ignored—and often diametrically opposed—in the doctrine and practice of the modern charismatic movement. The real point of 1 Corinthians 14 is often buried under endless arguments about the exegetical nuances of that passage. I want to take a more big-picture perspective of the text and point out a few of that chapter’s most important ideas.

1. “Tongues” were real languages.

Paul is clearly no proponent of any kind of “speech that is not intelligible” (v. 9). Sounds and syllables without meaning are of no use whatsoever. “There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning” (v. 10). Throughout the chapter, he is talking about real languages with real meaning. The ecstatic gibberish of the modern charismatic movement does not even fit the apostle’s definition of a language.

Furthermore, he says in verse 11, “If . . . I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a barbarian to me” (NASB). All true language has a meaning, and if the meaning cannot be understood, it sounds like the noises of a troglodyte. If the tongue is merely gibberish and has no translatable message, it is actually worse than a savage tongue.

So Paul insists that whenever tongues are spoken, they should be translated. Verse 13: “One who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.” And verses 27-28: “If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.”

In other words, if someone is authentically speaking in tongues, the utterance contains a message, and the message must be translated for those who hear. Even if the tongues-speaker is praying alone and no one else is around to hear, he is to pray that he may interpret.

Paul was not authorizing the use of tongues as a private prayer language, as some charismatics claim. But let’s lay that issue aside for the moment and simply point out that whenever tongues is spoken, whether in public or in private, whether in prophecy or in prayer, an interpretation is always to be sought.

2. Speaking in tongues is not supposed to be a mystical exercise that bypasses the mind.

Paul’s overriding message throughout this whole chapter is that everything done in the public worship service is supposed to be edifying to the hearers. That is his key point. He is calling for intelligibility. He is appealing for clarity. When we say something in public worship, the people in the congregation need to understand the message.

Go through this passage and notice how many times the apostle uses terms like understanding, edification, and the mind. A lot of Christians in the post-charismatic era have the utterly false notion that true spirituality is something that bypasses the intellect and operates mysteriously in the soul. That opinion has more in common with Hinduism than with true Christianity. Genuine Christianity is not anti-intellectual. We do not believe that the mind is a detriment to spirituality. In fact, we believe true spirituality involves being transformed by the renewing of our minds. We are sanctified by the truth, and truth is something we apprehend primarily with our minds.

The notion that the intellect is to be switched off while we seek some form of mentally disengaged spiritual ecstasy is an utterly false notion. If that is your idea of spirituality, then you might as well join the swaying mobs at the Kali temple in Calcutta who have done just that: they have switched off their minds in pursuit of spiritual euphoria.

Here Paul is telling us that the primary purpose of spiritual gifts is for edification. And by “edification,” he means the building up of the mind through a better understanding of the truth. If you do a study on the Greek word oikodomeo (which is translated edify in verses 3, 4, 5, 12, 17, and 26), you will find that almost everywhere this word appears in the New Testament, it speaks of building up the understanding. A person is “edified” in the biblical sense when the mind is enriched with truth and understanding.

That is why Paul insists that utterances in other tongues must be translated. What good is a message that bypasses the minds of the hearers? We don’t grow spiritually through subliminal means. We are sanctified when the truth is applied to our minds and our minds are transformed.

Matthew Henry writes, “Even an apostle could not edify, unless he spoke so as to be understood by his hearers. To speak words that have no meaning to those who hear them, is but speaking into the air. . . . There can be no assent to prayers that are not understood. A truly Christian minister will seek much more to do spiritual good to men’s souls, than to get the greatest applause to himself.”

When we have a message for the assembly of God’s people, the sound must be distinct. The message, not the language, is the key to the gift of tongues. The Holy Spirit does not gift people with languages just to make interesting noises. There’s a message to be conveyed, just like on Pentecost, when the wonderful works of God were proclaimed in the hearer’s native tongues. And notice this carefully: Regardless of your position on the charismatic movement, you must ultimately confess that Scripture demands that tongues-speakers remain silent, unless the message they have to convey is going to be understood be the people who are present to hear. Verse 28: “If there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent.”

I know of few charismatic churches where people are taught to be submissive to that command. There’s a charismatic church not far from where I live that is one of the largest in America. Every Sunday morning in their worship service, they have a time at the end of the pastoral prayer when everyone in the church is invited to “worship the Lord” aloud. Most do so by speaking in tongues simultaneously. It produces exactly the kind of chaotic environment Paul warns against in verse 23: “If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?”

3. It is wrong to allow the church service to become chaotic.

Some charismatics delight in precisely the sort of chaos Paul condemns here. The so-called “Toronto Blessing” virtually conferred liturgical significance on chaos and noise in many charismatic churches. I visited a world-famous charismatic church at the height of the Toronto hysteria, and much of the service consisted of unbelievable chaos.

The preacher that night contradicted virtually every one of the principles laid out in 1 Corinthians 14. He cautioned people against using their minds and their doctrinal convictions to evaluate what they were about to see. He said, “God wants to reach your heart, not your mind. It is not necessary for you to have a rational understanding of what is going on here.” He encouraged people to speak in tongues simultaneously, even though no one interpreted any of those utterances. And he finally turned the meeting over to absolute chaos, unleashing a frenzy of noise and activity in the name of the Holy Spirit.

Can God possibly be behind such phenomena? The Bible answers that question with a definitive no. Verse 33 says, “God is not a God of confusion.” Such chaotic displays in the churches must not be attributed to Him. The Word of God speaks with the utmost clarity on this. In more familiar King James terminology, “God is not the author of confusion.” He is neither glorified nor pleased where chaos and confusion reign.

4. Tongues are a sign to unbelievers.

In verse 22, Paul writes, “Tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers.” Here he contrasts tongues with prophecy, which he says is meant for believers.

What is his point? Simple: Prophecy involved a message from God in a language everyone understood. The message conveyed in tongues was intelligible only to those who understood the language.

Remember, all the languages a tongues-speaker used were Gentile languages. Hebrew was the Jewish language, and Aramaic was a first-century variation of Hebrew. All other tongues were Gentile languages.

The fact that God would give inspired truth in a Gentile tongue was itself significant. At Pentecost it was remarkable enough to hear the disciples speaking in languages that were not their own. But to the first-century Hebrew ear it would have been equally amazing to hear them proclaiming truth about Jehovah in Gentile tongues. That is something no true Israelite would ever do.

Jews in first-century Israel often spoke Greek, of course, because that was the common language of commerce. Some of them also spoke Latin, and many other dialects. But when they came to the Temple, when they rehearsed the wonderful works of God, or (above all) when they prayed, they prayed in Hebrew, because that was deemed the language of God and His people.

The gift of tongues changed all that. For the first time ever, inspired truth was revealed by God in languages other than Hebrew. This in and of itself was a remarkable sign, not only to the unbelieving Gentile hearers, but also to the unbelieving Jews.

And for the unbelieving Jews, it was a sign of judgment to come. Isaiah 28:11 contains this promise about the Messiah: “By people of strange lips and with a foreign tongue the Lord will speak to this people.” The apostle Paul paraphrases that verse in 1 Corinthians 14:21, just before saying that tongues are a sign to unbelievers. His primary meaning, then, is that tongues are a sign of judgment against the unbelieving Israelites and a token of divine grace to the Gentile unbelievers who hear the message in their own tongues.

So again we see that the gift of tongues was God’s declaration that the wall of partition had been broken down. Although the oracles of God had once been committed to the Jewish race alone, now the message about God’s wonderful works would extend to every nation, people, and tribe. That was the primary significance of the gift of tongues. It was never intended to be a Babel of noise that no one, including the speaker, understood.

Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B131111     COPYRIGHT ©2013 Grace to You

How to Pray When You Are in an Agony of Soul


How to Pray When You Are in an Agony of Soul #5/5: With Christ in the School of Prayer Psalm 13

November 9th / 10th 2013 by Pastor Colin S. Smith


 How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  Psalm 13:1-2


Thank God this psalm is in the Bible. We need it. We live in a suffering world and a faith, quite candidly, that does not speak to human pain is not worth taking seriously.

This psalm speaks specifically to struggles that show no sign of ending. Four times in the first two verses, Davis asks, “How long?” The hardest trials to endure are not the ones that hurt most, but the ones that last longest. This is a psalm for the toughest times in human life.

When to Use This Psalm

i. When you endure the loss of a loved one Nicholas Wolterstorff went through the agony of losing his son who died in a climbing accident at the age of 25. He kept a diary over the following year, and called it, “Lament for a Son.” [1] It is a journal of a soul in agony, struggling to hold onto faith in the darkness of irreplaceable loss.

Reflecting on his experience 12 years later, in the preface to the book, Wolterstorff says,

Often I am asked whether the grief remains as intense as when I wrote. The answer is, No. The wound is no longer raw. But it has not disappeared. 

That is how it should be. If he was worth loving, he is worth grieving over.  Grief is… testimony to the worth of the one loved. That worth abides. So I own my grief, I do not try to put it behind me, to get over it, or to forget it.

If someone asks, “Who are you, tell me about yourself,” I say, not immediately, but shortly, “I am one who lost a son.” That loss determines my identity; not all of it, but much of it. It belongs within my story.

I struggle indeed to go beyond merely owning my grief toward owning it redemptively. But I will not and I cannot disown it.  

Psalm 13 is a lament, so when you walk through irreplaceable loss, this psalm is for you.

ii. When you experience strain in the family James Boice comments on this:

It may be that the happiness of the early days of a marriage has been replaced by the stress of trying to work out… difficulties. You may be wondering if God has ceased to bless your marriage.

Your problems may involve children. You remember the early days when it was comparatively easy to rear them. Your family had many good times together. But now one or more of your children is antagonistic and rebellious, and everyone else in the family suffers under the inevitable strain. Nobody has fun anymore.

When the joy has gone out of life, when you feel that you are enduring rather than enjoying, this psalm is for you.

iii. When you experience long term exhaustion You have been carrying a heavy burden for a long period of time, and the strain is beginning to tell. It may be physical pain or mental anguish, or it may be the sheer weight of responsibility that God has placed on your shoulders, and you’ve been carrying it for a long period of time.

God has sustained you, but as time goes by, the burden seems to get heavier. You find yourself saying “How long, O Lord? I’m not sure I have the ability to sustain it much longer.” If you’re not in one of these situations today, thank God, and remember that many of your brothers and sisters in Christ are.

If you’ve been shaped by a form of Christianity that only speaks about prayers that are answered and faith that receives and blessings that abound, you need to take this psalm, and others like it, seriously.

We live in a suffering world, and Christian believers are not exempt from suffering. No one who takes the Bible seriously can come to the conclusion that Jesus promised his followers a pain-free life. We are followers of the one who was crucified.

God speaks to this suffering world, to life as it is. Romans 8 is one of the greatest chapters of the Bible. How does it begin? “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” How does it end? “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.”

What do you find in the middle? Paul says, “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23).

This is a “groaning psalm” and God has placed it in the Bible because at some time all of us will need it. How are you to pray when you are in an agony of soul? Here are four answers from this psalm:

1. Lay Out What You Feel

How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day? How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Psalm 13:1-2

The most striking thing about the beginning of this psalm is the complete candor with which David lays out his struggle before God. No holds barred! David feels that he has reached his limit, and he says how it is in the presence of God. He is seeking an authentic relationship, and that can only happen with honesty.

i. The struggle with his enemy How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?  Psalm 13:2

What David is facing has gained the upper hand. It is “over” him. He feels pressed down by it. He is not prevailing over it.

If you offered a seminar to David on “How to Live the Victorious Christian Life,” he would say, “I’m not coming. That’s not for me. I feel defeated. I barely know how to keep going, let alone be victorious.”

ii. The struggle with himself How long must I take counsel in my soul and have sorrow in my heart all the day?  Psalm 13:2

David’s thoughts are going round in circles: “What am I going to do? How am I going to survive?” But there never is an answer. The pain never goes away. All this never moves you forward.

iii. The struggle with God How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me?  Psalm 13:1

David begins with this because it goes to the heart of the problem, “Why does God seem so far away at precisely the point where I feel my need of him most?” David lays out how he feels here. The fact that these words are given to us in Scripture should teach us that a godly believer can come to a place of feeling abandoned by God. From his many years of experience as a pastor, James Boice says:

I am convinced that a feeling of abandonment [among Christians] is far more common than it appears to be. Many people feel abandoned – by others, first, but ultimately also by God.

He goes on to say that although this is a common problem, it seems to be one that is often ignored:

Why do you suppose this is? I think it is because we have been taught that Christians are not supposed to experience such things, that we are only to have the “life more abundantly” or to “live victoriously.”

David speaks about his experience openly, and the Holy Spirit has placed his experience of feeling utterly abandoned by God in the Scriptures for us. Speaking openly about your experience won’t solve the problem, but it’s critical to having an authentic relationship with Almighty God.

2. Lift Up What You Need

Answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes… Psalm 13:3

How would you try to help a person in your Life group who basically felt that they were abandoned by God? Suppose someone were to say to you, “I’ve been a believer for many years, but right now I feel that God has forgotten me. I’ve been praying, but I don’t get any answers. I wonder if God really cares about me at all.”


If a mature believer like David (who was a man after God’s own heart) can feel abandoned by God, no one should be surprised when a brother or sister experiences something like this.

Don’t assume the worst about a believer who feels that God has abandoned him or her. Remember, the dark valley is a part of the walk of the Christian faith.


It is a mistake to assume that everyone who suffers is asking the question “Why?” Some people are asking “Why?” when they suffer, but others are asking “How long?” These are different questions. “Why?” is a question of meaning; “How long?” is a question of endurance.

There are many psalms that ask the question, “Why?” For example, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1). But the question here is not “Why?” It is “How long?” The question David is asking is not, “How do I make sense of my suffering?” but “How much longer can I endure it?” It’s not a cry for wisdom, it’s a cry for strength.

It wouldn’t have helped David for us to quote Romans 8:28 to him: “God works in all things for the good of those who love him.” David would say, “That’s good, but how am I going to get through the rest of the week?”


The best thing that you can do to help a believer who feels overwhelmed by their sorrow, and abandoned by God is to come alongside them; to pray for them and to pray with them, especially if they do not feel able to pray for themselves.

Notice how and what David prays here: “Consider and answer me, O LORD my God; light up my eyes…” (Psalm 13:3). “Light up my eyes…” That’s a prayer for strength.

When a person is in an agony of soul, as David was, they’re not looking for an answer, and it won’t help much if you try to give one. What they’re looking for is strength—a sense of the help and the presence of God—that’s why the best way you can help is to come alongside in genuine sympathy and help them draw near to the everlasting God in prayer.

Follow David’s example. He asks God to “light up his eyes.” Lord, help me to see you. Help me to find strength. Help me to press on.

3. Lean Into What You Know

But I have trusted in your steadfast love; Psalm 13:5

This is the great Bible word “hesed,” beautifully translated “steadfast love.” This is love that lasts, love that you can count on. God’s love for you had no beginning and it will have no end. In the eternity of the nature of the triune God, he has loved you with an everlasting love.

The issue that David is facing shows no sign of going away. It has been going on for a long time, and the question is “How long?” David dares to believe that God’s love for him will go longer than his suffering, that God’s love will outlast the pain that he endures!

David confronts the pain of his long-lasting sorrow with the reality of a longer lasting love. In the middle of all this he says, “I have trusted in your steadfast love.”

There are times in the Christian life when the love of God is known by faith and by feeling. There will also be times in your life when God’s love is known by faith alone. There is a gritting of David’s teeth in what he says here. It is a marvelously courageous statement of faith: “I have trusted in your steadfast love, however long this trial continues.”

Then David says something else: “I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me” (Psalm 13:6). The singing is future. But when David says that God has dealt bountifully with him, he is leaning into what he has already experienced.

How can David say this? Think about the bigger picture of David’s life. He was a shepherd, and yet by God’s grace he has become a king. He was a sinner, and yet by God’s grace he had been forgiven. He was a sufferer, and yet by God’s grace, he has a future of unclouded joy.

David leans into this, and he says “Not only have I trusted in your steadfast love, but you have dealt bountifully with me.” Think about the bigger picture of your life.

4. Look At Jesus Christ

We called this series, “With Christ In the School of Prayer.” The mind of Christ was saturated with these psalms. He would have recited them in the synagogue. He used them. He experienced them. And he is with us when we pray them.

What does Jesus know about this psalm? How does it relate to him?

i. Did Jesus ever know what it is to be in an agony of soul? Yes! “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears…” (Hebrews 5:7).

ii. Did Jesus ever know what it was like to say “How long?” Yes. He was “the man of sorrows and familiar with suffering.” In the Garden of Gethsemane he said, “My soul is very sorrowful even to death” (Matthew 26:38).

iii. Did Jesus ever know what it was like for the Father to hide his face? Yes! He cried out from the cross with a loud voice, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Christ knows what it is to be in an agony of soul. That’s why he is there for you when you suffer. Christ is the Savior for those who suffer because he is the suffering Savior.

John Stott says this so well in a moving passage from his book “The Cross of Christ,” [2]

I could never myself believe in God, if it were not for the cross… In the real world of pain, how could one worship a God who was immune to it?

I have entered many Buddhist temples… and stood respectfully before the statue of the Buddha, his legs crossed, arms folded, eyes closed, the ghost of a smile playing round his mouth, a remote look on his face, detached from the agonies of the world. But each time after a while I have to turn away.

In my imagination I have turned instead to that lonely, twisted, tortured figure on the cross, nails through hands and feet, back lacerated, limbs wrenched, brow bleeding from thorn pricks, mouth dry and intolerably thirsty, plunged in God-forsaken darkness. That is the God for me!

That is the only God for a suffering world, the only God for you, the only God for me.

As we approach Veteran’s Day, I want you to know about Edward Shillito, who experienced the horrors of The First War.

Many people who endured this felt that they could no longer believe in God. But Shillito went a different way. The horrors of war convinced him that a suffering world needs a suffering Savior. He wrote a poem called, “Jesus of the Scars.” In these lines he is speaking of the world of religion with all its varieties…

The other gods were strong; but you were weak; They rode, but you stumbled to a throne; But to our wounds only can God’s wounds speak, And not a god has wounds, but you alone.

The wounds of Christ are his credentials to a suffering world. And by God’s grace, he came through it, and by God’s help you will too.


[1] Nicholas Wolterstorff, “Lament for a Son,” Eerdman’s, 1987

[2] John Stott, “The Cross of Christ,” p. 326, InterVarsity Press, 2006

Source: How to Pray When You Are in an Agony of Soul

Meet One Of The Victims Of Obama’s “Economic Recovery”

Have you ever cried yourself to sleep because you had no idea how you were going to pay the bills even though you were working as hard as you possibly could? You are about to hear from a single mother that has been there. Her name is Yolanda Vestal and she is another victim of Obama’s “economic recovery”. Yes, things have never been better for the top 0.01 percent of ultra-wealthy Americans that have got millions of dollars invested in the stock market. But for most of the rest of the country, things are very hard right now. At this point, more than 102 million working age Americans do not have a job, and 40 percent of those that are actually working earn less than $20,000 a year in wages. If we actually are experiencing an “economic recovery”, then why is the federal government spending nearly a trillion dollars a year on welfare? And that does not even include entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare. We live in a nation where poverty is exploding and the middle class is shrinking with each passing day. But nothing is ever going to get fixed if we all stick our heads in the sand and pretend that everything is “just fine”. (Read More….)

What Are The Off-White Boxes That Are Going Up On Utility Poles All Over Seattle?

The Big Brother control grid is constantly growing and expanding all over America. Right now, a “wireless mesh network” is in the process of being installed in Seattle that some believe will ultimately have the capability of tracking the location of every wireless device in the city. If you live in downtown Seattle, just look for the little off-white boxes that are being attached to utility poles all over the place. You can see a bunch of pictures of these little boxes right here. Meanwhile, other major U.S. cities have been installing vast networks of surveillance cameras and listening devices. We are being told that such measures will help police “solve more crime”. We are being told that such measures will “keep people safe”. But what about our privacy? Doesn’t that count for something? What about the Fourth Amendment? Are our most cherished liberties and freedoms going to be thrown into the trash just because we live “in a more dangerous world”? (Read More…..)

What Obama and I Learned at Columbia: How to Destroy America From Within

I was Barack Obama’s college classmate at Columbia University, Class of 1983. I was easy to recognize – the lone outspoken conservative in a class of 700 students. I knew I was in trouble when my first political science class at Columbia was “Communism 101″ taught by Professor Trotsky in the Fidel Castro Building, at the corner of Marx Blvd. and Lenin Drive. I’m only half-kidding. My experiences at Columbia were not far off. Everyone needs to hear my story because what Obama and I learned at Columbia explains EXACTLY what Obama is doing to America today.

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The ENDA Game

The entire gay rights movement begins with the assertion that sexual orientation and gender identity are just like race and that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people (LGBTs) are the rightful heirs to the Civil Rights Movement.

With that sort of thinking in mind, on Monday the Senate debated the Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2013 (ENDA). With a name like that, you’d think it was a very good thing indeed. After all, who wants to discriminate? You’d be wrong.

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The coming betrayal of Israel – Cal Thomas

The administration pledges to watch Iran closely and if it violates any provisions in a final agreement, sanctions would be re-imposed. If sanctions and other means, such as the introduction of the Stuxnet virus into Iran’s computers, failed to deter Iran’s nuclear program, why would anyone think additional threats and more sanctions would produce the desired results? Iran is playing for time and it appears the United States is willing to give it to them.

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Did Jesus Really Say? (Jesus Calling)

I keep hoping that the fascination with Sarah Young’s bestseller Jesus Calling will fade away. If you are not familiar with Jesus Calling, it is a book of 365 daily devotions that the author claims are messages from Jesus spoken directly to her. In fact the book is written in the first person from Jesus. If this troubles you at all then you are not alone. If you have spoken up about it you have very likely encountered the wrath of well meaning brothers and sisters who no doubt wonder how in the world you could speak against such a sincere offering.

For the sake of clarity allow me to make a few things clear. First, I do not know Sara Young and therefore gladly assume that her motives are good. I do not believe that she wrote Jesus Calling to confuse anyone or cause division in the church. I believe that she believes Jesus speaks directly to her outside of the Bible.

Second, I have not spoken to Sara Young and do not plan on contacting her personally. She has not sinned against me. I point this out so that no one will misapply Matthew 18. Miss Young has written an enormous bestseller. Her books are read by millions of men and women around the world. Therefore it is appropriate for critiques to be offered publically. And since I believe Jesus Calling to be unhelpful, misleading, and even dangerous, it is my responsibility as a pastor to say so.

As I see it Sarah Young commits at least three errors in Jesus Calling:

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