Daily Archives: September 5, 2014

Rev. Graham: “As I read the news, I can’t help but wonder if we’re in last hours”

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

Rev. Franklin Graham, head of the international Christian aid group Samaritan’s Purse and son of world-renowned preacher Billy Graham, said that given all the ‘bad news’ about the killing of Christians by Muslims in some countries, and attacks on Christians by the media and the government even in America, he cannot ‘help but wonder if we are in the last hours before our Lord Jesus Christ returns,'” reports CNS News.

“As I read the news, I can’t help but wonder if we are in the last hours before our Lord Jesus Christ returns to rescue His church and God pours out His wrath on the world for the rejection of His Son,” said Rev. Graham in a post on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) website.

“I don’t know if we have hours, days, months, or years—but as Christians, God calls us to take the truth of…

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Questions about Prayer: How and Why Should We Pray for Our Leaders?

 

The concept of praying for our leaders is not unique to democratic nations, and it did not begin with the United States’ National Day of Prayer. The Bible contains many commands to pray for our leaders—national and local, secular and religious.

Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 2:1–4, “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” God told the Israelites in exile to pray for Babylon: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the LORD for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper” (Jeremiah 29:7). Romans 13:1 says, “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” Paul requested prayer “for all the Lord’s people” and for himself that he would speak the gospel boldly (Ephesians 2:18–20).

Prayer is important. And it seems the Bible makes special mention of praying for those in positions of authority. Such authorities include government officials (international, national, and local) and pastors, church elders, school boards, school principals, employers, and the like.

We do not pray for our leaders simply because we are commanded to. Praying for them makes practical sense. Our leaders can affect the conditions we live in and have an impact on our families, our churches, our workplaces, our cities, and our countries. When those in authority are obeying the will of God, it is easier to “live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness” (1 Timothy 2:2). When evil men are in authority, our prayers for them are just as needed, as illustrated by William Tyndale’s last words as he was being burned at the stake: “Lord, open the King of England’s eyes.”

Also, we do not pray for our leaders merely for our own benefit. Leadership can be a tiring task. James 3:1 says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Leaders carry a degree of responsibility to their followers. They are often the targets of criticism and the go-to people in a crisis. If they are leading well, they are living their lives in service. We pray for them because we recognize the greatness of their task and because we are grateful for their willingness to lead.

So how should we pray for our leaders? First, if we are uncertain that they know Jesus, we should pray for their salvation. But whether or not our leaders are Christians, we should pray that God will guide them as they guide us. We should pray that they be wise and discerning and surrounded by helpful advisors. We know that God has placed our leaders in authority over us (Romans 13:1), and we can ask Him to use them as He will. We should also pray for their protection. When praying for pastors or ministry leaders, we can pray for them to have strength in the midst of spiritual warfare and to remain encouraged in the Lord. We can pray for their families, who often feel scrutinized and bear an extra load.

Briefly stated, we should mention our leaders before God in prayer and ask Him to have His way in their hearts, to support those around them, and to use their leadership to benefit their followers.[1]

 

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

Questions about Marriage: When Should a Christian Couple Seek Marriage Counseling?

 

Any couple struggling in their marriage should seek counseling sooner rather than later. Every marriage includes bumps and turns that if not handled correctly can create chasms too wide to bridge. Often, either from pride or shame, a couple does not seek help with issues early enough to save the marriage. They wait until so much damage has been inflicted that the marriage is already dead and the counselor has little to work with. Proverbs 11:14 says, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety” (ESV). When we face battles too great to wage alone, wise people seek wise counsel.

Recurring issues in a marriage are like road signs warning of danger to come. Some of these road signs are:

  1. Inability to resolve conflict in a healthy way. 2. One partner dominating the relationship so that the needs of the other are not met. 3. Inability to compromise. 4. Either partner stepping outside the marriage to “fix” the problems. 5. Breakdown in communication. 6. Confusion about the roles of each spouse in the marriage. 7. Pornography. 8. Deceit. 9. Disagreement about parenting styles. 10. Addictions.

When a couple recognizes any of these warning signs, it is wise to seek godly counsel. However, not all counsel that presents itself as “Christian” is based on the truth of God’s Word. Friends and family may mean well, but can offer unscriptural solutions that only confuse and make the problem worse. A counselor should be chosen based upon his or her philosophy and adherence to Scripture as the foundation for emotional health. Many horror stories have come from people who sought counsel from those they trusted, only to find “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15) who have excused sin and instructed the wronged spouse to “get over it.”

A few questions in the initial interview can eliminate some of those “wolves” before time and money are wasted on them. Couples investigating counselors should consider the following:

  1. Is this counselor affiliated with one of the national organizations for Christian counselors, such as AACC (American Association of Christian Counselors), the NCCA (National Christian Counselors Association), or the NANC (National Association of Nouthetic Counselors)?
  2. Where did the counselor received training or licensing? The likelihood is greater that you will receive biblically based therapy if the counselor has been trained through a Christian counseling program rather than a secular organization or university. A state license does not ensure you will receive better counsel. Excellent scriptural counseling can be found through local pastors, lay counselors, and support groups.
  3. Is this counselor experienced in dealing with the particular issues involved? A few key questions such as, “What is your approach on pornography addiction?” will help you decide whether or not you agree with this counselor’s perspective.
  4. Do you agree with this counselor’s philosophy and/or religious affiliation? There are sects and denominations that carry the banner of “Christian” but may be too far outside a couple’s belief system for them to benefit from counseling. Choosing a counselor from within a couple’s own religious framework may make the counseling more effective.

There is nothing that can promise a perfect outcome, but considering those questions may help narrow the field. God is for marriage; He hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). The first step a couple should take is to ask God to guide them to the right counselor. It may take a bit of scouting, but finding a counselor who can bring godly wisdom to a troubled marriage is worth any effort.[1]

 

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

Questions about Relationships: If an unmarried couple has sex, are they married in God’s eyes?

 

It is true that sexual relations is the ultimate fulfillment of a couple becoming “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24). However, the act of sex does not equal marriage. If that were so, there would be no such thing as premarital sex—once a couple had sex, they would be married. The Bible calls premarital sex “fornication.” It is repeatedly condemned in Scripture along with all other forms of sexual immorality (Acts 15:20; 1 Corinthians 5:1; 6:13, 18; 10:8; Galatians 5:19; Ephesians 5:3; Colossians 3:5; 1 Thessalonians 4:3; Jude 7). The Bible promotes abstinence before marriage as the standard of godliness. Sex before marriage is just as wrong as adultery and other forms of sexual immorality because they all involve having sex with someone other than your spouse.

If an unmarried couple has sex, does that mean they are married? The Bible gives us no reason to believe this to be the case. The act of sexual relations may have made them for a moment physically joined, but that does not mean God has joined them together as husband and wife. Sex is an important aspect of marriage, the physical act of marriage. Sex between unmarried people, though, does not equal marriage.[1]

 

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

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, 2 to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men. 3 For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, 5 He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom He poured out upon us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that being justified by His grace we would be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:1-7 NASB)

18 Pride goes…

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