Monthly Archives: January 2015

Tom Brady: Football Doesn’t Matter to God

Conceivably, a win would show that God answers prayer. But what about the intercessors whose team loses? Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is a very devout believer whose Twitter feed is filled with biblical quotations. However, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (whose team lost to the Seahawks) is also a very strong Christian. Which believer should God have favored?
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn’t sure God cares who wins: “Look at the attention I get: It’s because I throw a football. But that’s what society values. That’s not what God values. He didn’t invent the game. We did. I have some hand-eye coordination, and I can throw the ball. I don’t think that matters to God.” Rodgers agrees: “I don’t think God cares a whole lot about the outcome. He cares about the people involved, but I don’t think he’s a big football fan.”

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Short Answers 03: Isn’t Faith Just for the Stupid and Gullible? (Video)

In the third video of the Short Answers to Big Questions series, Nathan Betts of RZIM answers the question, “Isn’t faith just for the stupid and gullible?”

In the Short Answers to Big Questions series, Nathan and Andy Bannister take 50 of the most common questions and objections about Christianity and attempt to give short, succinct answers to each of them. In such short videos, we realize we can only often scratch the surface — nevertheless, we hope to give you lots of food for thought. Feel free to download each video, circulate it to friends, or share it on social media.

If you want to read more widely on this particular, check out “The Swedish Atheist, the Scuba Diver and Other Apologetic Rabbit Trails” by Randal Rauser.

JAS: What happens during the Rapture?

January has been prophecy month at the John Ankerberg Show. We have had prophecy scholars Dr. Renald Showers and Dr. Jimmy DeYoung on the show to answer: Does the Bible teach that the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming happen at the same time? What happens during each event? Where are these subjects discussed in the Bible?

In case you have not been able to join us for this encouraging series or if you would like to watch them again, we wanted to let you know the programs from the series, “Step by Step through the Rapture” and “1 Coming or 2 – 8 Differences Between the Rapture and Second Coming” can be found online here to watch for free.

Also, we have thousands of free articles on our website, many on topics such as the Rapture, end time events, and the Tribulation. One of these articles, “Does the Bible teach that the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming happen at the same time?” further addresses questions from our current series, and shares my answer to the question that includes seven of the differences that led me to this conclusion. If the Rapture and Second Coming are not subjects you have studied before, consider diving in to these important topics, and get excited about what the Lord has planned for those who love Him in the last days.

Check out these and the thousands of other free resources on our website!

Blessings,

Dr. John Ankerberg

IS JESUS A SOCIALIST? | Worldview Weekend

When the question is posed: “Is Jesus a socialist?” The clear answer is “Of course not!” The claim that Jesus was a socialist was recently posed by Gregory Paul in The Washington Post who tries to argue for a biblically mandated socialism from the early chapters of Acts.[1] Paul’s claims are nothing new and have likely arisen out of the overall debate our nation is involved in concerning socialism vs. free markets. President Obama and his crowd want socialism, while the rest of the nation wants to move away from government control of the economy.

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Cold Case Christianity: Rules to Evaluate Alleged Bible Contradictions and Difficulties (Free Bible Insert)

I’ve been slowly working through a number of alleged Bible “contradictions” and “difficulties” here at ColdCaseChristianity.com, using simple investigative principles I’ve adapted from my casework as a cold-case homicide detective. Here is short list of the rules I typically use when evaluating eyewitness statements. The first ten principles are derived directly from my casework related to homicide investigations (modified to address the Biblical narratives), and I’ve added three rules specifically applicable to the study of the New and Old Testament:

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Monergism.com Blog: Help for Pastoral Prayer During Sermon Prep

Erik Raymond

Most pastors develop a rhythm with their sermon preparation. You find a way that “works” for you and you pretty much stick with it. But until you have the pattern established, it can be messy. And one of the areas with which I struggled at the beginning was how prayer fit into my sermon preparation.

I knew that I should pray, that in fact I must pray, as part of getting ready to teach God’s Word. But I don’t remember getting much advice about how to pray when preparing a message. And while there’s obviously not just one helpful way to do it, here are eight brief prayers that can be used while writing a sermon:

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Herescope: The Troubles with Church Covenants

A Warning Twelve Years Ago

The following article was originally published in a 2003 Discernment Ministries Newsletter. Due to a series of moves, computer crashes, and website changes the original article had been lost. It has been archived on Berit Kjos’s Crossroad.to website for many years, and we thank her for preserving it.

Recently, with the rise of investigative reports on the aftermath of Mark Driscoll and the Mars Hill Church debacle, this 2003 article has gained renewed importance. This article is a “snapshot in time.” It represents what was going on twelve years ago when the covenant-signing movement was charging full steam ahead.

Why did we write this? We had experienced this type of church structure earlier, in its formative and experimental years during the late 1970s and early 1980s. At that time it was known as “heavy shepherding,” a top-down leadership wielding control over the congregation. This movement was abusive and left many damaged sheep in its wake. During the next few decades we witnessed firsthand the adverse effects as Leadership Network was putting its hierarchical networks into place and developing prototypes for its obscurantist operations for megachurches.

The fallout of this church covenant agenda can now be seen in the deluge of post-Mars Hill disaster reports. High-demand church organizations, with their excessive pressures to conform, have left in their wake much collateral damage. Women, mothers, the handicapped, the infirm, and elderly have particularly suffered under this systemic transformation. They cannot measure up to the “Missional” Type A personality- and performance-driven church standards. Many experienced shunning, or worse, and many have left the faith entirely. Yet there are many saints who kept their faith, quietly serving the Lord far away from the limelights of “healthy, wealthy and hip.”

For twelve years now we have listened to the stories of hundreds of disenfranchised and disheveled sheep who were tossed under the bus. Their heart-rending tales motivated us to continue writing from our unique perspective, standing outside of what is now called the “evangelical industrial complex.” In 2004 we published a sequel to this report, a monograph, The Pied Pipers of Purpose. Shortly thereafter we began publishing articles on this blog recounting Leadership Network and its pivotal role (see a few links at the bottom of this article). What follows is our original 2003 article, still warning about this movement.

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Parchment and Pen Blog: How Jesus Would Act in a Homosexual Bar? or “How to Evangelize Homosexuals”

Christian-Homosexual

This is one of the most commonly asked questions that I get lately: How do I evangelize homosexuals? It is such a sensitive issue as there are so many passions involved and a growing variety of opinions. The volatility could not be greater and I could not be dumber for writing on this! Nevertheless, I am going to do my best to answer here.

I have a family member who lives in an apartment that backs up to a homosexual bar. I can imagine that in the church, there are people who think this is wrong. It’s not that these would assume she might be a homosexual, but that why would she, being a Christian, even dare live in such proximity to such evil. I am sorry to say this, but its very sad—no, tragic—to say that the church is filled with such a mentality. Oh, they have their verses to justify it, but these are always based in unbiblical emotional passions that cannot ever be justified.

Hold on, it gets worse so hang with me.

I, personally, was pretty excited that she moved in there. Why? What a great place to live! It is filled with opportunity and excitement. It is filled with the possibility of having the power of the Holy Spirit work in a place that few in the church would dare to go.

Let me back up and ask the key question: How do we, as Christians, evangelize (give the Gospel to) homosexuals? Here we go . . .

If this family member were to ask me this question, this is what I would tell her:

First, what a great place you are living! What a great opportunity! But I think it would be best if we asked another question: what Jesus would have done in such a situation. Here are the steps I believe he would take:

First, he would go to the bar

I can hear the gasps! Jesus? . . . in a bar? Never! Why not? What is sinful about being in a bar? Is there something in the walls, wood, or foundation that makes the place unholy? I think you forget to realize that Jesus served as a bartender in John 2. Wait . . . that is not technically true. He served as a brewer in John 2. Don’t believe me? Go read it. He turned water into wine. No, it was not grape juice. It was an alcoholic intoxicating beverage.  So, the first thing we need to do is go to the bar.

Second, he would sit down with the homosexual

I know that this should sound like an elementary no-brainer, but it is not for a lot of people. Some people distance themselves as far as possible from whatever they deem to be the worst sin.

I had an experience at a church one time where I was hanging out, “fellowshiping”) with some other believers. A guy walks in with a confused and somewhat scared look on his face. “Hey,” he said. “I have never been to church. I don’t really know what it is about. Can you help me?” We all were very excited and we sat down with him and began to talk. However, something terrible happened. Something so crazy, I am not sure you are ready to hear this. He cursed. Not only that, he was letting out f-bombs left and right. Right then one lady got up and said, “I can’t take this” and left. She even said it out loud! My question at the time was, How else to you expect an unbeliever to talk?

How much more would some of us leave if a homosexual couple came and sat in the pew next to you (man, I just realized the word “pew” dates me). But Jesus would sit down next to the homosexual at this bar. Remember, he came to seek and save the lost!

Third (and this is going to be crazy), but he would not automatically assume he was not saved

This all comes down to the question, Can a practicing homosexual be saved? Although I give the long answer here, let me give a shorter answer with a question: Can a practicing sinner be saved? If not, let me let you in on a little secret: you are not saved. Why? Because you are a practicing sinner! We all are. We are at the same time justified and sinners. This is the divisive teaching of Martin Luther.

Fourth, he would put his arm around the homosexual

Christ was the most scandalizing man that ever lived. He perplexed everyone. He perplexed sinners as he loved them and befriended them. And he perplexed the religious establishment that he would have such associates. Remember this verse:

Matthew 11:19: The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’

Notice what he was accused of: He was a “friend of sinners.” What does that mean? It means that he was a friend of prostitutes, swindlers, and people who’s lives were controlled by alcohol! He had his arm around them. He would be caught laughing at their jokes. He probably handed them a beer or two, turning water into beer when they ran out. He was their friend before anything else.

We need to encourage people more to do the same thing.

Fifth, he would order a beer (or three)

Here come the gasps. I might be able to conceive of Christ drinking a little alcohol, but you said “three.” Well, let me get even more clear (and this is not the subject of the post so I will not spend much time closing this can of worms), he would drink until his heart was “merry” or “glad” (see Eccl 10:19, Ps 104:15, Judg 9:13, Matt 26:29). No, I did not say he was controlled by alcohol. Did I say he was inebriated? I will just stick with the biblical words and let you wrestle with it.

You don’t have to drink if you don’t want to. I am just saying that it might loosen things up a bit if you do.

Sixth, he would have them over to his house

Christ’s fellowship with sinners came through more than a “hit-and-run” Gospel presentation. You see, so many of us might concede things up to this point. But by the end of the conversation at the bar, we had better be convincing them of the wrongness of their lifestyle and pulling out a Four Spiritual Laws track. If they respond, great. If they don’t get out of there and never talk to them again. But I think that Christ would go so much further. He would be there for them, loving them, listening to their stories, getting to know their family and (dare I say) boyfriend or girlfriend.

This is just the way he was. Scandalous!

Seventh, he would wait for them to ask Him for the hope that is in Him

First Peter 3:15 says that we are to live our lives in such a way that unbelievers are perplexed and say “Why do you have hope! I don’t get it. Explain it to me.” There may be an immediate opportunity at the bar. It may take a week. It may take six years. But eventually, people will ask. But unless we are preaching a sermon to a general audience, we are to wait for them to ask this. And if you are living your life for the Lord, it will probably come pretty quickly. If you are not, it will take more time.

Ask yourself this question: how often has someone asked you for the reason for your hope? Or do you just push the Gospel on them immediately.

Eighth, he would give the Gospel

Wait, I want you to understand what I did not say. I did not say “Eighth, he would finally try to convert them out of their homosexuality.” I said he would present the Gospel. The sin of homosexuality may or may not come up. The issue here is to help people understand that they are sinners, not get rid of every sin. That comes later. That is called sanctification. The Gospel is that we are at enmity with God and that we need restoration. The Gospel is that God offers forgiveness free of charge and trust in him is all that is necessary.

John 3:16 does not say, “For God so loved the world that whosoever believes in him (and stops sinning) will have eternal life.” It says that only belief or trust is necessary.

Then when will the issue of homosexuality be dealt with???? That is what you are asking, right? Isn’t this about evangelizing homosexuals. Yes, but the way you evangelize homosexuals is the same way you evangelize all sinners. It is the job of the Holy Spirit to deal with their individual sins, and He has his own timetable. If the issue of homosexuality comes up, you stand up for the truth and let them know the Bible teaches it is a sin. Will they respond? Will the Holy Spirit fix them right then? Maybe, but maybe not.

We need to quit identifying them as homosexuals, as if their restoration with God comes though a different path as others. We evangelize all people the same.

Is this scandalous to you? Well, let me put it this way, if you are not scandalizing to a certain community in the church, you are probably not acting much like Christ. Yes, people will “get” you. Yes, they will look down their nose at you. You might even get brought into an elders meeting. But you are not to be controlled by these fears. You are to be controlled by Christ and your desire to spread his mercy.

I pray that the church would grab ahold of how crazy the Gospel is and how much mercy God gave and still gives to us. Then and only then are we ready to enter that bar.

The post How Jesus Would Act in a Homosexual Bar? or “How to Evangelize Homosexuals” appeared first on Parchment and Pen Blog.

GTY Blog: The Power of Integrity

1 Timothy 3:4-7

Code: B150130

by John MacArthur

What is the most important quality leaders can demonstrate? Intelligence, a forceful personality, glibness, diligence, vision, administrative skills, decisiveness, courage, humor, tact, or any other similar natural attribute? Those all play a part, but the most desirable quality for any leader is integrity.

While integrity is most desirable in secular leadership, its absence is fatal to spiritual leadership. Underlining this, John Stott writes,

Communication is by symbol as well as speech. For “a man cannot only preach, he must also live. And the life that he lives, with all its little peculiarities, is one of two things: either it emasculates his preaching or it gives it flesh and blood.”[1] J. H. Bavinck, An Introduction to the Science of Missions (Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presb. & Ref., 1960), 93. We cannot hide what we are. Indeed, what we are speaks as plainly as what we say. When these two voices blend, the impact of the message is doubled. But when they contradict each other, the positive witness of the one is negated by the other. This was the case with the man Spurgeon describes as a good preacher but a bad Christian: he “preached so well and lived so badly, that when he was in the pulpit everybody said he ought never to come out again, and when he was out of it they all declared he never ought to enter it again.”[2] Lectures to My Students (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 1:12–13 It is at this point that a practical problem presents itself to us. Pastors are told to be models of Christian maturity.[3] Between Two Worlds [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982], 264.

All leadership seeks to accomplish one goal: influence. Leaders seek to influence people to achieve their objectives. Influence is a direct result of teaching and example. Teaching sets the nails into the mind, but example is the hammer that drives them in deep.

Not surprisingly, Scripture has much to say about the power of example to influence behavior, both for good and for evil. In Leviticus 18:3 God warned Israel not to follow the example of their pagan neighbors:

You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes.

Deuteronomy 18:9 repeats that warning: “When you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable things of those nations.”

Proverbs 22:24–25 warns, “Do not associate with a man given to anger; or go with a hot-tempered man, lest you learn his ways and find a snare for yourself.” The power of an evil ruler to influence his subordinates is seen in Proverbs 29:12: “If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, all his ministers become wicked.” Hosea echoed that warning: “And it will be, like people, like priest; so I will punish them for their ways and repay them for their deeds” (Hosea 4:9).

Our Lord gave this indictment of the scribes and Pharisees in Matthew 23:1–3:

Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses; therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things, and do not do them.”

The Bible also encourages us to follow godly examples. Paul commended the Thessalonians for becoming “imitators of us and of the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). To the Philippians he wrote, “The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things” (Philippians 4:9). He encouraged both Timothy (1 Timothy 4:12) and Titus (Titus 2:7) to be good examples for their people to follow. Hebrews 13:7 exhorts us to follow the example of godly leaders, while James 5:10 points us to the example of the prophets. Peter admonishes elders to be examples to their flocks (1 Peter 5:3).

It is not enough for a leader in the church to teach the truth, he must also model it. Richard Baxter writes,

It is not likely that the people will much regard the doctrine of such men, when they see that they do not live as they preach. They will think that he doth not mean as he speaks, if he do [sic] not live as he speaks. They will hardly believe a man that seemeth not to believe himself.[4] The Reformed Pastor [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1979], 84.

Integrity is living what you teach and preach. That’s why Paul describes the moral character at the heart of the pastoral qualifications listed in 1 Timothy 3:4-7.

He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he may not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

That is not the typical list a corporate analyst might come up with, because the issue is not merely leadership skills but spiritual example. One who would lead people to Christlikeness must live out a pattern of godly behavior for his people to follow.

Next time, we’ll look at what that pattern ought to look like.

(Adapted from The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: 1 Timothy.)


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B150130
COPYRIGHT ©2015 Grace to You

The Cripplegate: Gospel-Driven Integrity

integrity or ethics conceptIn 2 Corinthians 1, Paul is defending himself against the accusations of the false apostles, who were taking every possible opportunity to bring reproach upon Paul and his ministry in the eyes of the Corinthians. In what was actually a desire to be loving and considerate toward the Corinthians (cf. 2 Cor 1:23–2:4), Paul made a change in his travel plans in regards to his visits to Corinth. And like unscrupulous politicians running a smear campaign against their opponent, the false apostles seized upon this change of plans and blew it entirely out of proportion.

“The man talks out of both sides of his mouth! He’s undependable! Untrustworthy! He’s a fleshly man who goes back on his word because he’s guided by no higher principle than his own fallen nature! He doesn’t depend on the Spirit’s guidance, otherwise how do you explain the fickleness? And if you can’t trust him to get travel plans right, how are you going to trust his apostleship? How are you going to trust his gospel?”

Paul responds to these charges in 2 Corinthians 1:15–22. But as you read that passage, it doesn’t quite sound like a conventional defense of changing itinerary. Before he defends his conduct, Paul defends his integrity. And he does so by appealing to his theology. The reality of who God is, and what He has accomplished in Christ and in the Gospel, is the basis for all of his behavior. Paul’s conduct is rooted in his message. And for those of us who would claim to be ministers of that same Gospel (which is all of us!), the same must be true of us. I hope we’ll be instructed as we look into three of those arguments that appear in 2 Corinthians 1:18–20.

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Southern Seminary: Part 3 – Worthy of double honor | Expository advocating (Re: three ways you can encourage your pastor)

Editors note: Read also part 1 and part 2 of this series

Participate

In Ephesians 4, Paul tells us that God gave to the church, among other things, “shepherds and teachers.” Shepherds and teachers is simply another way of saying “pastors.” Paul is saying that your pastor is actually a gift from God. He’s still a sinner, but he’s a gift. Notice that Paul tells us that God’s purpose in giving these pastors is “to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ” (Eph 4:11-13).

Does your church have the mentality that the pastor is there to be the professional and do the ministry and you are there simply to receive it week after week? That’s not how God arranged it. The pastor is indeed there to do ministry, but much of his ministry consists of equipping and building up God’s people to do ministry. As we noted above, nothing will give your pastor more joy than seeing you walk in the truth, and part of what that means is that you engage your heart and hands in the task of ministry. This isn’t simply to help your pastor do his job, it’s for the good of your soul and the health of the church.

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10 Distractions Regarding Worship Music – Rainer on Leadership #094

Having weekly posts here at the blog from Chuck Lawless has been a huge blessing to me. Not only because it takes some of the workload off of me to come up with another article for the week, but because Chuck has such a great perspective on the Church and shares some incredible insights. We’ve covered some of Chuck’s articles in the past on the podcast, and in this episode we discuss a recent post on worship music distractions.

Some highlights from today’s episode include:

  • Millennials are looking for authenticity in the worship service.
  • The pastor is expected to have a well-prepared sermon. The music should be well-prepared as well.
  • Worship is more than just a sermon or just music. It’s the totality of how we glorify God corporately.
  • There should be clear planning between the pastor and music leader to tie in the music with the sermon.
  • Most worship leaders are gifted with different types of music.
  • When the music in a church service is too loud, it can distract from the act of worship.

The 10 distractions are:

  1. Incomprehensible choir or praise team words
  2. Unsmiling faces leading worship
  3. Poor musicians or singers
  4. Unprepared singers
  5. “Preachy” music directors
  6. Songs disconnected from the sermon topic
  7. Difficult songs to sing
  8. Weak use of media for lyrics
  9. Poorly done blended style
  10. Introducing new songs without teaching them

Episode Sponsor

This week’s podcast is brought to you by the Autopsy of a Deceased Church. Whether your church is vibrant or dying, Autopsy of a Deceased Church will walk you through the radical paths necessary to keep your church alive to the glory of God and advancement of Christ’s Kingdom!. Find out more at thomrainer.com/autopsy.

Feedback

If you have a question you would like answered on the show, fill out the form on the podcast page here at ThomRainer.com. If we use your question, you’ll receive a free copy of Autopsy of a Deceased Church.

Resources

The post 10 Distractions Regarding Worship Music – Rainer on Leadership #094 appeared first on ThomRainer.com.

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