Daily Archives: December 20, 2013

Do Not Be Surprised…This ‘n’ That (20 December 2013)

 

  • Driscoll speaks. Well, kind of.
  • Jared Wilson weighs in on the Driscoll debacle over at The Gospel Coalition.
  • And in spite of Driscoll, you have to love Seattle.
  • Okay, enough about Driscoll. I’d rather think upon Christ, wouldn’t you? Reformation 21 gives us some thoughts on the mystery of the incarnation.
  • The Housewife Theologian also reflects on the concept that God came down.
  • The recipes I’ve been posting lately seem to be quite popular, so I’ll try to keep them coming. Keep in mind, though, that I’m usually only sharing recipes that look delicious, but that I’ve not actually made or tasted myself. This one, however, I have tasted and it produces marvelously yummy treats!
  • Ted Haggard gives us an example of how not to repent.
  • Wow, I had no idea that Hollywood was intended by its founder to be “a utopian-like community for devout Christians.”
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • How should the church respond to the truth?
  • This one is for my other nephew.
  • I am unsurprised by the A&E/Duck Dynasty/Phil Robertson debacle. I also am mildly bored with the reaction and outcry we are hearing from Christians. We really shouldn’t be shocked that a godless society is outraged by those who call homosexuality a sin.
  • Kevin DeYoung talks about the ‘semi-churched,’ or those ‘church members who attend their home church with great irregularity.’
  • A federal judge has declared that Utah’s polygamy laws are unconstitutional. Of course, we all knew this was coming, didn’t we? First homosexuality, then polygamy. What’s next to be normalized and accepted? Probably pedophilia and bestiality. It sounds extreme, I know, but you best be prepared, Christian, so that you are not surprised when it happens. Al Mohler weighs in on this latest ruling.
  • I Love Lucy in color? It’s happening tonight.
  • It’s the movie of the moment. Okay, not really. But if you’re bored and you have $9.99 to waste, you can check out ‘Deadraiser‘.
  • How Christmas solved the prophetic puzzle:

 

Source: http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2013/12/this-n-that_20.html

Christmas: Immanuel (study guide)

 

In this lesson we consider the miraculous nature of “Immanuel”—the very presence of God in human form, incarnated as a Baby in Bethlehem.

Outline

The real story of Christmas is God becoming a man so that He could reveal Himself and reveal His love to all mankind. It is the very essence of the Gospel. It is the glad tidings of great joy which the angels spoke about on the hillside outside of Bethlehem.

I.  The Mystery of Immanuel

II.  The Meaning of Immanuel

a.   We Have the Confidence to Face the Challenges of Life

b.   We Are Certain that Our Prayers Are Heard and Understood

c.   We Have the Courage to Serve Him in Difficult Places

Overview

Seldom is this truth ever discussed at Christmastime. Yet it is one of the central doctrines of the Word of God. John the Apostle wrote in John 1:14: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

In what some consider to be a hymn from the early church, we read of this great mystery in the Book of Philippians: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bond-servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:5–8).

And writing in more formal tones in the Book of Galatians, Paul put it this way: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law” (Galatians 4:4).

The Prophet Isaiah predicted that the day would come when God would visit His people just like this; that the Son of God would come and confine Himself to a human body; and that His sacrificial love in doing that would forever remind them of His great compassion for their lost estate. Isaiah prophesied, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).

And Matthew, in his gospel narrative of the birth of Christ, picked up what Isaiah had prophesied, and used it in application to the Lord Jesus. Listen to his words: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, ‘God with us’ ” (Matthew 1:23).

There is an old poet who has presented the Son of God as having the stars for His crown, and the sky for His mantle, and the clouds for His bow, and the fire for His spear. And he rode forth in His majestic robes of glory, but one day He resolved in conference with His Father that He would come to earth, and He shed all of His clothes on the way. The stars were gone, the sky was gone, the clouds were divested. When He was asked what He would wear when He got to the earth, He replied with a smile that He had new clothes in the making down below, and those clothes were the clothes of humanity, the robes of flesh and blood. And with this new wardrobe He was given a new name, and that name was Immanuel.

The Mystery of Immanuel

Of all the names of the Lord Jesus that were given to Him for His time on this earth, this one is my favorite. His name is Immanuel, which being translated is “God with us.”

As Christians, we sometimes feel that in order to really appreciate our faith, we need to understand everything about it. But the more I study the Gospel, the more I become aware of the vastness of truth that I do not comprehend. The one thing I will never comprehend is God becoming a man. But I must not put myself in a corner and say that in order for me to appreciate and believe it, I must completely comprehend it. There always must be something mysterious about the God who created the heavens and the earth. Paul seemed almost overcome by the thought of it when writing to his young friend Timothy. In 1 Timothy 3:16 he wrote, “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh.” Paul was saying to young Timothy, “I can’t explain this. But let me just tell you this. There is no controversy at all about it. Without controversy, great is the mystery.”

Isn’t it wonderful to be able to pause for a moment and reflect on the mystery and the wonder of our God? Wondering at the Christ Child. Wondering at Immanuel. Wondering at God manifested in the flesh. God became a man—like your neighbor, like you, like me.

Writer after writer has tried to help us understand the majestic mystery of God manifested in the flesh. For instance, C. S. Lewis, in Mere Christianity, wrote these words: “The second person in God, the Son, became human Himself: was born into the world as an actual man—a real man of a particular height, with hair of a particular color, speaking a particular language, weighing so many pounds. The Eternal Being, who knows everything and who created the whole universe, became not only a man but (before that) a baby, and before that a fetus inside a woman’s body.”

A. W. Tozer, the great Alliance preacher, was also overwhelmed by this thought. He wrote: “The coming of Jesus Christ into this world represents a truth more profound than any philosophy. All of the great thinkers of the world together could never have produced anything even remotely approaching the wonder and profundity disclosed in the message of these words … He came … The words are wiser than all learning. Understood in their high spiritual context, they are more eloquent than all oratory, more lyric and moving than all music. They tell us that all of mankind, sitting in darkness, has been visited by the Light of the World!”

Finally, Frederick Buechner adds, “The claim that Christianity makes for Christmas is that at a particular time and place God came to be with us Himself. When Quirinius was governor of Syria, in a town called Bethlehem, a child was born who, beyond the power of anyone to account for, was the high and lofty One made low and helpless. The One who inhabits eternity comes to dwell in time. The One whom none can look upon and live—is delivered in a stable under the soft, indifferent gaze of cattle. The Father of all mercies puts Himself at our mercy.”

If one of us were God, is that the way we would have done it? Would we have made that plan to rescue lost mankind? Would we have sent the Redeemer in a manger, wrapped in strips of swaddling cloth? Would we have had Him born in a stable built for animals? Would we have had His first visitors be the hated shepherds of the hillside? It is a mystery beyond mysteries, a story written by the finger of God, and one that we will never comprehend. But it is also one that we should always appreciate.

The Meaning of Immanuel

The reason why Immanuel is such a precious name to all of us who know Him is that we understand the meaning of it. We may never comprehend the mystery of it, but we understand the meaning of it. God with us.

God is not distant. He is here, with us. He is not unapproachable, unreachable. He has reached down to us through His Son, the Lord Jesus. He has revealed Himself to us in the only kind of persons we know—human persons. He became one of us so that we could know Him, so that we could know how much He loves us.

What Christmas reveals to us is that we have a God who has condescended in the midst of our suffering, and He has come to help us and share with us and enable us to face it and conquer it. The Christmas name of our Lord reminds us of this wonderful truth: His name shall be called Immanuel. God with us.

We Have the Confidence to Face the Challenges of Life

We all face challenges in life, and we are so wonderfully blessed to be able to open the Bible and read there of a Savior who has come to be one of us. And because He is with us, He is able to encourage us in every manner of test and challenge we may ever face. Consider:

•     Hebrews 13:5–6: “Let your conduct be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?’ ”

•     Psalm 27:1: “The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; Of whom shall I be afraid?”

•     Psalm 118:6: “The Lord is on my side, I will not fear; What can man do to me?”

•     Isaiah 43:2–3: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place.”

God with us. Because God is with us, we have the confidence to face the challenges of life.

We Are Certain that Our Prayers are Heard and Understood

Sometimes, if we do not know what the Bible says, we wonder if God really even comprehends what we are praying. Aren’t you glad that when you pray you have someone who hears and understands you and knows what you feel? Why does Christ know that? Because the One to whom you address your prayers is Immanuel, the One who is God with us.

Listen to what the Book of Hebrews says concerning Immanuel: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:15–16).

When you go to the Lord God in prayer through Jesus Christ, and you tell Him your need, He is Immanuel who has been in every place you have been. He knows every need you have. He knows every burden you bear. He knows every sorrow you have felt. And He has borne those burdens and those sorrows to their ultimate. And you can pray with confidence because He is Immanuel.

We Have the Courage to Serve Him in Difficult Places

How do you continue to serve God? Of course, some might say, “What do you mean? I’m not in the ministry.” But the truth is that every Christian is in the ministry. You may not be formally ordained, but if you are a Christian, you are serving God. (And if you are not serving God, why aren’t you?)

Every believer serves God. And some serve God in some very difficult places. The place God has called us to serve is 90 percent pagan. The place where God has called us to serve puts us in an extreme minority. No one else gives any credence to our faith, yet we have been called of God to serve there.

Christianity is not about religion. It is about a relationship. If you have a relationship with Jesus Christ and you are serving Him in a tough place, my friend, you better know Immanuel. Because you can’t do that by yourself. You have to have God with you. It has always been that way.

When God spoke to Moses and told him that he was being commissioned to lead the people out of Egypt, Moses had all kinds of excuses. Remember all of that list of excuses he gave to God. But listen to what God said to him in Exodus 4:12: “Go, and I will be with your mouth, and teach you what you shall say.”

Moses got them out of Egypt, then it was time for Joshua to get them into Canaan. They were going to have to face the giants of the land of Canaan, the most pagan people of that time. Obviously Joshua was frightened. But he got his commission from God in Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

He is the Immanuel who goes with you when you have been called to serve in a tough place.

And then there was Jeremiah, commissioned to go to a stubborn people with a message of judgment. Every time I read that book of the Bible, I am encouraged about everything God has ever asked me to do. God told Jeremiah to preach judgment to people who would not only not listen, but would not do one single thing he ever told them to do. God said, “Go preach to them. Tell them what I’ve told you to tell them. But know up front that they are not going to listen, they are not going to do anything about it, and they are going to scoff at you while you preach.”

Jeremiah went into that scenario with that commission—but then God said to him in Jeremiah 1:8, “ ‘Do not be afraid of their faces, for I am with you to deliver you,’ says the Lord.”

All of us have been commissioned as disciples to go into the world and preach the gospel. And what is it that the Lord says to all of us who do that? In Matthew 28:20 He says, “… lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Because God is with us, we have confidence to face the challenges of life; we don’t go alone. We have certainty that our prayers are heard and understood because God has been where we are. And we have the courage to serve Him no matter how difficult the task may be.

Application

1.  List any famous people (sports stars, media celebrities, politicians, etc.) you have met during your life. How did you act around them?

How would you respond if they dropped by your house?

How many other people did you inform about your meeting or acquaintance?

2.   Compare your answers to the previous question to your actions, response, and words as someone who has met the God of the universe. Is it a good comparison, or something less?

Is there room for change in light of knowing the “God with us,” Jesus Christ?

3.   In Exodus 40:34, what was the purpose of the tabernacle (tent) of the Lord, which was set up in the middle of all the tents of Israel?

How does this connect with John 1:14, which says literally that the Word became flesh and dwelled among us?

4.   If Jesus was the “Seed of woman” promised in Genesis 3:15, who did He come to ultimately defeat?

Why couldn’t this be done by a mortal human being?

When will this conquest be completed?

5.   What does 1 John 5:19 reveal about the present condition of the world?

Was this true when Christ was born?

Then why couldn’t Satan defeat Him?

What does I John 4:4 reveal about the present condition of each believer, and the similarities to Christ’s entrance into the world?

6.   Read Daniel 7:9–10, 13–14. What is the eventual position of the Son?

Compare this to Isaiah 9:6–7. Why do you think He was not revealed in this way when He came as a Baby to Bethlehem?

When will He be?

Did You Know?

Christianity is unique among the world’s religions in proposing that there is no way that man can, through anything he does, ever reach God; but that God, in His infinite love and mercy, became man in order to rescue any who would be rescued.

This concept not only is foreign to the world’s religions, but in Islam is considered to be blasphemy. Nowhere is this more vividly displayed than in the Arabic statement emblazoned on the outside of the Dome of the Rock, which stands over the location of the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

It reads: “Allah is God, Allah is One. He was not born, nor did He beget.”

Hence the hopelessness of those who do not recognize Immanuel, “God With Us.”

The Hanging of the Greens

The evergreen nature of conifers and hollies has long made them symbols of eternal life through Christ Jesus. Red berries are used as a symbol of Christ’s blood, which was shed for us.

Early in December each year, our congregation participates in readying our sanctuary for a season of celebration.

We usually use pine branch “roping” to make swags, and evergreen wreaths as our focal points.[1]


[1] Jeremiah, D. (1999). Celebrate his love: Study guide (pp. 62–75). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Questions about Christmas: Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

The debate about whether or not Christians should celebrate Christmas has been raging for centuries. There are equally sincere and committed Christians on both sides of the issue, each with multiple reasons why or why not Christmas should be celebrated in Christian homes. But what does the Bible say? Does the Bible give clear direction as to whether Christmas is a holiday to be celebrated by Christians?

First, let’s look at the reasons why some Christians do not celebrate Christmas. One argument against Christmas is that the traditions surrounding the holiday have origins in paganism. Searching for reliable information on this topic is difficult because the origins of many of our traditions are so obscure that sources often contradict one another. Bells, candles, holly, and yuletide decorations are mentioned in the history of pagan worship, but the use of such in one’s home certainly does not indicate a return to paganism. While there are definitely pagan roots to some traditions, there are many more traditions associated with the true meaning of Christmas—the birth of the Savior of the world in Bethlehem. Bells are played to ring out the joyous news, candles are lit to remind us that Christ is the Light of the world (John 1:4–9), a star is placed on the top of a Christmas tree to remember the Star of Bethlehem, and gifts are exchanged to remind us of the gifts of the Magi to Jesus, the greatest gift of God to mankind.

Another argument against Christmas, especially having a Christmas tree, is that the Bible forbids bringing trees into our homes and decorating them. The passage often cited is Jeremiah 10:1–16, but this passage refers to cutting down trees, chiseling the wood to make an idol, and then decorating the idol with silver and gold for the purpose of bowing down before it to worship it (see also Isaiah 44:9–18). The passage in Jeremiah cannot be taken out of its context and used to make a legitimate argument against Christmas trees.

Christians who choose to ignore Christmas point to the fact that the Bible doesn’t give us the date of Christ’s birth, which is certainly true. December 25 may not be even close to the time Jesus was born, and arguments on both sides are legion, some relating to climate in Israel, the practices of shepherds in winter, and the dates of Roman census-taking. None of these points are without a certain amount of conjecture, which brings us back to the fact that the Bible doesn’t tell us when Jesus was born. Some see this as proof positive that God didn’t want us to celebrate the birth, while others see the Bible’s silence on the issue as tacit approval.

Some Christians say that since the world celebrates Christmas—although it is becoming more and more politically correct to refer to it as “the holidays”—Christians should avoid it. But that is the same argument made by false religions that deny Christ altogether, as well as cults such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny His deity. Those Christians who do celebrate Christmas often see the occasion as an opportunity to proclaim Christ as “the reason for the season” among the nations and to those trapped in false religions.

As we have seen, there is no legitimate scriptural reason not to celebrate Christmas. At the same time, there is no biblical mandate to celebrate it, either. In the end, of course, whether or not to celebrate Christmas is a personal decision. Whatever Christians decide to do regarding Christmas, their views should not be used as a club with which to beat down or denigrate those with opposing views, nor should either view be used as a badge of honor inducing pride over celebrating or not celebrating. As in all things, we seek wisdom from Him who gives it liberally to all who ask (James 1:5) and accept one another in Christian love and grace, regardless of our views on Christmas.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Christmas: Do Some Christmas Traditions Have Pagan Origins?

There is no doubt that some of what we now refer to as Christmas traditions can be traced back, in some form, to pagan cultures and celebrations. The ringing of bells, for example, is generally thought to have had its origin in the early pagan winter celebration of ringing of bells to drive out evil spirits. In later centuries, bells were rung on Christmas Eve to welcome in the spirit of Christmas with joyful noise (Psalm 95:1). When Christians enjoy the beauty of a glorious bell choir ringing Christmas carols, we are reminded of the coming of Jesus into the world, not the driving out of evil spirits.

Similarly, there was an early pagan tradition of lighting candles to drive away the forces of cold and darkness. However, is it likely that our hearts are drawn to those early pagans rather than rejoicing in our Savior, the Light of the World (John 1:4–9) as we light candles? Of course not. Nor is it likely that when I give gifts to my loved ones at Christmas, the gifts will have less significance to either of us because some Druid somewhere in time offered a gift to his goat as part of some pagan ritual. No, we remember, as we should, the gifts given to the Christ-child by the Magi (Matthew 2:11). Jesus was the greatest gift ever given, and therefore His birth is worthy of celebration.

So obscure are the beginnings of many Christmas traditions that reference books and internet sites contradict one another on the details. Some of our most popular and beloved Christmas symbols are entirely Christian, and were never part of any pagan religion anywhere. At the same time, some Christmas traditions undoubtedly do have their origins in the pagan past. What is important is not the origins of traditions, but their significance to us today as believers in the Son of God. December 25 was not mentioned in the biblical narrative as the day Jesus was born, and, as such, we cannot be dogmatic about it one way or the other. But even if the date is completely wrong, there is still the opportunity for thousands of people who wouldn’t go to church any other time of the year to go on Christmas day and hear the gospel of Christ.

If you are fully convinced that you cannot, in good conscience, observe a particular Christmas tradition, do not observe it. If you are fully convinced that a particular tradition is too steeped in paganism to honor God in any way, by all means forsake that tradition. At the same time, if you are fully convinced that you can honor and worship God through a particular tradition, honor and worship God (Romans 14:5)! For Christians, Christmas traditions can be an important part of the celebration of the birth of our Savior, and they remind us of that momentous event that changed the world forever. More importantly, they bring to mind the miracle of new birth He created in us when He came into our hearts, saved us from our sins, and made us children of God by the shedding of His blood on the Cross (Colossians 1:20). It is this amazing truth that enables us to say with the angels, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace, good will toward men” (Luke 2:14).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Muslim Questions: Muslim Bible Study—Christmas Story—Day 5

5. Did Jesus, the Messiah, come to save the Jews only?

Muslims often experience the conflict between the families of Ishmael [Ismail] and Isaac. Since God gave the Torah and Savior to the Jews, is the Good News only for them? The following Bible passage clearly answers the question:

“And at the end of eight days [after Jesus’ birth], when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the time came for their purification according to the Law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord.…

“Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said,

“ ‘Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.’

“And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.’

“And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God.…

“And when they had performed everything according to the Law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom. And the favor of God was upon him” (Luke 2:21–40, emphasis added).

So is Jesus the Messiah for the Jews only? God did send Jesus to a Jewish family and nation, but Christ is also “a light for revelation to the Gentiles” and God’s way of salvation for “all peoples” (Luke 2:31–32). God sent Jesus not only to a specific people group but also to believers from across the world.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Although the world was separated from God due to sin, God provided Jesus to reconcile believers to Himself. Believers are those who turn from sin and trust Jesus Who paid the punishment for sin by dying on the cross. God proved Jesus won victory over sin and death by raising Jesus from the dead.

Believers realize they cannot earn a home in heaven by good works. They must be purified by Jesus’ perfect righteousness and atoning death. After saving believers, God gives them the strength to do good works, not for their salvation but for God’s glory and their reward:

“For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, hated by others and hating one another. But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people” (Titus 3:3–8).

Now you understand why Jesus was born! After discovering the Christmas story, you probably have more questions to ponder. Diligently keep reading the Bible and praying to find the truth. To learn more about how Jesus accomplished God’s plan of salvation, you may want to begin the Bible study “Who is Jesus?”

As God reveals His truth to you through His Word the Bible, may you respond like the villagers who encountered Jesus: “They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world’ ” (John 4:42).[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Phil Robertson, Sin and The Christmas Season

Settled In Heaven Blog

SIH STSTA ICON(Before we begin our study, let me quickly explain that, although I agree with the main thrust of Phil Robertson’s message, I am sorrowful that he presented his message using some crude language that was unnecessary to say the least and harmful to the cause of Christ.

Without knowing the man and his personal life, it is impossible for me to make a judgment about the intent and motivation behind the inappropriate phrases. Based upon his personal testimony, I am trusting that they are the result of his upbringing and environment and not an indication of any malice in his heart towards those of whom he spoke.

Who among us can say that we have never said things that have harmed the cause of Christ and brought sorrow to our hearts?  However I do want to take a look at the Biblical principles he was presenting in the interview and…

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Rebuilding Lost Trust In Pastors

“Americans’ rating of the honesty and ethics of the clergy has fallen to 47%, the first time this rating has dropped below 50% since Gallup first asked about the clergy in 1977. Clergy have historically ranked near the top among professions on this measure, hitting a high rating of 67% in 1985.” (Source: Honesty and Ethics Rating)

Although pastors remain in the top third of the league table of trust, the decline is significant enough for us to ask what’s happening and what can be done to put it right. We’ll look at causes first and then at some cures.

Read More here: http://headhearthand.org/blog/2013/12/20/rebuilding-lost-trust-in-pastors/

The Gift of Christmas Was Predicted With the Gift of Prophecy

The Gift of Christmas Was Predicted With the Gift of Prophecy– J. Warner Wallace, author of Cold Case Christianity, has put together a nice brief summary of a number of prophecies which were fulfilled by Jesus’ birth and life. Check out this interesting post related to prophecy.

Prince Charles Speaks Up for Persecuted Christians

Even though his own belief system is more “New Age” than Christian, he has at least registered a bitter protest about the suffering Christians thanks to Islam. That is more than most pulpits and pews in our churches will do.

In addition, the Prince of Wales stated that several strategies and tactics such as “intimidation, false accusation and organized persecution” are being utilized in a systematic campaign to force out the Christians, creating an exodus of Christians and other minorities from the region, according to The Telegraph. Furthermore, he warned that in case this systematic persecution by Islamists, extremists, and fundamentalists in Muslim societies did not halt, then “we [will] all lose something immensely and irreplaceably precious when such a rich tradition dating back 2,000 years begins to disappear.”

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The Mark Driscoll Storm

The evangelical world has been troubled by a publishing controversy surrounding Reformed Baptist megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll. The tumult began when radio talk show host Janet Mefferd very publicly accused Driscoll of plagiarism in his latest book during an interview. Christians immediately began to call for answers. Their questions were left unresolved.

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In embrace of ‘Duck Dynasty’ star, 2016 hopefuls make bid for evangelicals

Conservative Christians “feel like they’re under siege in a culture that is increasingly intolerant and discriminatory toward their views, and they don’t feel represented,” said Ralph Reed, founder of the Faith & Freedom Coalition, who noted that Robertson paraphrased from the Bible’s Book of Corinthians in his interview. “I did not get any impression at all that there was animus expressed,” Reed said

By jumping into the “Duck Dynasty” maelstrom, conservative leaders such as Jindal and Cruz sent a clear message to evangelical voters: We’re on your side.

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The Truly Confused Evangelicals

When investigating whether a ministry, leader, local church, fellowship, or denomination is heading the wrong direction, one of the most important and also difficult issues we face is that the shift away from the Bible usually happens incrementally. In fact, I cannot think of a single situation that I’ve read of in over 25 years of researching past (or present) apostasies when error came all at once like a landslide. That is, unless one argues that a single landslide can last for a year, or five, or ten, or more.

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Pew Research: Celebrating Christmas and the Holidays, Then and Now

Celebrating Christmas and the Holidays, Then and Now

FREE eBook – The Virgin Birth:The Celebration of Christmas as Proof of the Virgin Birth by Dr. John Weldon

The Virgin Birth explores one of the most fascinating events in human history. Although this “once in an eternity birth is usually only considered at Christmas- and then only peripherally-this unique doctrine upon which the Bible and Christianity stand or fall nevertheless impacts every single person’s life for eternal good or its opposite. How could something so ancient and unseen be the most important teaching for the human race? And how could a global cultural celebration prove the truth of a miracle 2000 years ago?

http://www.jashow.org/resources/specials/free-items/the-virgin-birth-book.html

Watch: Was the Baby in the Manger Really God?

In all of the hustle and bustle of the season we want to intentionally set our hearts and minds on the true meaning of the season. We are offering a Special Online Broadcast this week, Was the Baby in the Manger Really God? to help as you prepare to celebrate the birth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We pray you will watch and share this with your family and friends this Christmas!

FREE Online Broadcast

Was the Baby in the Manger Really God?

Learn what claims Jesus made of himself that no other religious leader has ever made. What proof did He offer to validate His claims? Why is it essential to our faith to believe the Virgin birth and that the baby in the Manger was really God? This week online at JAshow.org watch our free online broadcasts Was the Baby in the Manger Really God?

http://www.jashow.org/television-shows/baby-manger-god-2/