Words of Comfort: Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and earthquakes.
Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, droughts, and earthquakes kill tens of thousands of people each year. Multitudes endure crippling diseases, endless suffering, and unspeakable pain. Many non-Christians credit a heartless Mother Nature for giving us all this grief. They fail to consider that “Mother Nature” has a Senior Partner—Father God.
However, if God is responsible for all this heartache, that presents an interesting dilemma. If God is an “all-loving” Father figure, as we are told, we seem to have three choices: 1) God blew it when He made everything (He’s creative but incompetent); 2) God is a tyrant, who gets His kicks from seeing kids die of leukemia; 3) something between God and man is radically wrong.
These are our choices…and those who take time to consider the evidence will lean toward number three. Something between man and God is radically wrong, and the Bible tells us what it is. There is a war going on. We are told that mankind is an enemy of God in his mind through wicked works (see Colossians 1:21). That’s not too hard to see. Man is continually committing violent acts such as murder and rape, lying, stealing, etc., as the daily news confirms. He uses God’s name as a curse word, while Mother Nature gets the glory for His creation—unless there’s a horrible disaster; then man calls that “an act of God.” An applicable acronym for WAR is We Are Right. Any country going to war does so because it has the conviction that it is in the right. However, a quick look at God’s Law shows us who is right and who is wrong. We, not God, are the guilty party. If we want His blessing back on our nation and in our lives, we must make peace with Him, and that is possible only through faith in Jesus Christ.
Fully Human, Fully Alive
Is it possible to be so heavenly minded we’re no earthly good? An important new book describes how we often misunderstand eternal life. I’ll tell you about it.
From time to time, listeners ask us about some of the conspiracy theories out there – especially in the music industry. Specifically, they want to know about the Illuminati, secret societies or symbols like the all-seeing eye.
Roman Catholicism on Today’s Dividing Line
Started off reviewing a call on Catholic Answers Live regarding Purgatory, providing a bit more information than was offered by Jimmy Akin. Then we watched a clip with Ravi Zacharias answering a question about Roman Catholicism, briefly played William Lane Craig on original sin, and then finished up with the famous cross-examination of Peter Stravinskas on 1 Cor. 3.
Here is the audio player for the show:
Here is the YouTube link:
Are most folks hellbound?
Holiness Is Happiness
“The sum of all obedience for man was to love the Lord his God with all his heart. This was not only easy to an uncorrupted nature, but his highest happiness was connected with it.” Archibald Alexander
For many people, holiness is the opposite of happiness, perhaps even the enemy of it. Happiness and holiness are competing forces, pulling in opposite directions. You can have one; but not both together. No surprise then that most people choose happiness, but soon realize they have neither happiness nor holiness.
God created us holy and happy. Happiness and holiness were perfectly aligned. If one was absent, both were. If one was present, both were. Happy holiness and holy happiness.
Read the rest of this post at HappyChristian.net.
Needing Guidance? 30 Questions To Ask
Given the dozens of books about guidance on the market, it’s obvious that knowing God’s will is a huge concern for most Christians. But how? How can we know God’s will for us? Here’s a selection of questions that might be used not only to help someone discover what God wants them to do, but also train them to make good decisions in the future as well.
1. What is your dilemma? What are your struggling with?
2. Is this something that God’s Word clearly prohibits or commands? Or is this a subject that requires wisdom and discernment in applying the general principles of God’s Word to a specific situation?
3. What general Scriptural principles or examples are relevant to this question?
4. How would you describe your general spiritual state or condition? Close to God, distant from God, or somewhere in between?
5. What is your overall motive and aim in your life?
6. Are there any areas of sin or folly in your life that may be hindering you from knowing and doing God’s will?
7. How have you made decisions before? How did they turn out? What did you learn from that?
8. On this issue, what have you done to find out God’s will already and what do you yet plan to do?
9. Have you ever tried using a fleece (Josh. 18:6, 8, 10)? Or casting lots? Or any other superstitious methods?
10. What options are you considering and what are the pros and cons of each?
11. Is there any way of reducing the options?
12. Which option do you prefer and why?
13. Have you prioritized the factors that are influencing this decision?
14. Have you already made a decision in your heart?
15. What are you looking for that will help you to know what to do?
16. Are you looking for particular feelings, or a voice from heaven, or some other indicator to guide you?
17. How often have you prayed about this and what are you praying for?
18. What motives and desires can you detect that are influencing your decision-making?
19. What are you afraid of happening as a result of your decision?
20. Is there any fear of man or desire for someone’s favor that’s impacting you in this?
21. Who have you consulted and what did they say?
22. Are you completely willing to do God’s will whatever it may be?
23. What doors are you seeing that are opening or closing?
24. Which option will draw you closer to God and help you glorify God most?
25. Which option will best develop your gifts and talents?
26. How will this decision impact your family, your church, your employer, others in your life? What other consequences can you foresee?
27. How long have you been thinking and praying about this?
28. How soon do you have to make a decision?
29. Is there a command you can obey while you wait? Are you doing your duty today? Are you living in the light God has given you while you wait for Him to give you more?
30. What indicators of God’s providence have you discerned?
Any other questions that you would add?
Cultures and Mini-Cultures
by Christopher Ames
Do we run the risk of not being able to communicate meaningfully with one another anymore?
This article asks questions of the “proliferation of cultures” in the broader world: is individualism turning into tribalism? How ought Christians to respond?
My reply to Dan Phillips’ approach to the worship music debate
by Scott Aniol
Over at Pyromaniacs, Dan Phillips offered a series of points for discussion regarding worship music. He and a few others encouraged me to head over to engage the conversation, so I did. I thought I’d post my response here as well for the sake of our readers:
How to Reconcile the Immutability of God with “Repent” Passages
Similarly, those who are not in a right relationship with God can always expect Him to treat them as a judge treats the guilty defendant. God is long-suffering, and so sometimes that judgment takes a while. Nevertheless, the judgment will come. In other words, what changed in Genesis 6 was humanity, not God. It kept on changing for the worse (see verse 5). When that happens, the relationship changes, and God is always consistent in His treatment of people based on the state of that relationship.
The Lies We Tell
But you know what? I lie to myself all the time and never bat an eyelash. If the old childhood rhyme ever came true, my pants would be ablaze. That’s because the lies I tell myself are worse than what the cable company told me. These lies are harmful to me emotionally and spiritually. They hinder my relationship with God. They take me down dark paths and shadowy places. And they steal my joy and peace.
7 Lessons from 50 Shades of Grey
50 Shades may be a wake-up call for the individual and corporate drifting that has been at play in our lives. It may be a spotlight shining on the pain of the vulnerable in our society. It might be an alarm bell sounding a message of danger ahead if we do not change. But it is also an opportunity to show what true love really is. Our world desperately needs a good dose of real love?
In What Way Was Jesus ‘Made Sin’ on the Cross?
Finally, on a theological level, the idea that God the Son even temporarily became a sinner, or the literal embodiment of sin, raises serious questions about the unchangeableness of His holy character and perfect nature. Those who would twist 2 Corinthians 5:21 to claim that Jesus’ perfect nature was momentarily replaced by a sin nature immediately raise unanswerable theological questions about the immutability of Jesus Christ.
The Second Commandment, Sarah Young and Ann Voskamp
We might add, where are the shepherds of the flock who are charged with protecting the flock from wives’ tales, wolves in sheep’s clothing and other dangers? Where are the men in the pulpits willing to come down from those pulpits and actually guide the women in their Bible studies? Do we not love the women of the church enough to shepherd them, guide them and help them grow in their faith?
Of Confessional Christianity And The Cult Of Personality
The good news is that, by God’s grace, the true church exists but it exists in history, in time and space. Great divisions have happened. Some of them may be repaired in this life but some of them may not be. We ought to pray for reconciliation around the truth of God’s Word as summarized in the great catholic creeds and confessed by the churches. If the Reformed churches have erred they should be corrected by God’s sufficient, perspicuous Word (sola Scriptura).
Rewriting the Westminster Shorter Catechism? Not So Fast
If Mark Jones does not see Christ in the q and a for question 1, that is a product of his own misunderstanding, and not a failing in the catechism. Because if Jones is correct and “God” refers only to the Father, then the rest of the catechism becomes incomprehensible and grossly inaccurate.
How to Profit From False Prophets
Notice, I’m not saying that we should all study what false prophets are teaching – that would be a foolish waste of time for most, and a dangerous path for many. But in today’s hyper-connected world, it’s difficult not to encounter their teaching here and there, and even in some very surprising places. As we do, let’s use their falsehood to help us discern what questions people are asking, to make us study our Bible more thoroughly, to highlight where the church has been too silent, and to encourage ourselves that He who has begun a good work in us is continuing it until the Day of Jesus Christ.
Ask Celebrity Pastor: How Do I Improve My Sermons
Several years ago I was having lunch with John Travolta, and I asked him the secret of his success. His answer? Awesomesauce. Now, it turned out that awesomesauce was actually a reference to cocaine, so that doesn’t really help us here, but the principle remains the same. It sounds like your sermons are distinctly lacking in the awesomesauce category. If I were a betting man – actually I used to be a betting man until I lost my life savings in a pyramid scam – I’d bet that people nod off, fall asleep, and play fantasy football during your sermons. Did that sting a little? That’s what I thought.
Vegetarianism and Christianity
by Bill Muehlenberg
My thesis is pretty simple: if Christians prefer not to eat meat for health reasons, dietary reasons, perhaps cultural reasons, or even moral reasons, that’s fine. No one is forcing them to eat meat. However, if they claim that vegetarianism is essential to being a Christian, then I have to say, sorry, but you are quite wrong.
So let’s look at the biblical data here. This is actually part of a bigger discussion as to what sort of liberty the Christian has in Christ. Paul in Galatians, for example, made much of our freedom, and argued against the Judaisers who wanted to bring believers under various types of man-made bondage and captivity.
In case you were wondering…
Words mean things, and some terms we have in the church can be positive, negative or neutral. Christians who did not grow up going to church or hearing theological terms like Dispensationalism, Pre-trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib, Revival, Reconciliation, Missional, exegetical, and many more might be too embarassed to ask. So today we thought we’d define some […]
Learning to Speak Like a Christian: 40 Examples of Christianese
by C Michael Patton
1. “Heads bowed, eyes closed . . .”: During a church service, you may hear a preacher abruptly break into this unexpected dialogue with the audience: “Heads bowed, eyes closed. If you have accepted Christ into your heart [more later], I want you to raise your hand.” Don’t get scared. Nothing bad is going to happen to you. It is not a fancy way to steal your money or pull anything sneaky. It is the preacher’s way of helping the uncomfortable seeker feel more at ease about accepting Christ. It is best if you just follow instructions here.
2. “Into the Word”: This is a portion of an important phrase that may be communicated by seasoned Christians in many different contexts. It always has reference to the Bible. Yes, I know, the Bible is more than one word, in fact it is thousands, but once you are a Christian, it becomes singular and has a definite article, “the,” attached to it. If you hear someone say, “Are you in the Word?,” this is another way of saying, “You need to read the Bible if you are going to be spiritual like me.” IMPORTANT: This has no relation to the phrases, “Word to your mother,” “Word up,” or just plain “Word.”
3. Backslidden: This has no reference to the past event of sliding down a hill on your back. It is used to refer to those Christians who are now suspect in their original confession due to their current participation in a particular sin.
4. “Ask Jesus into your heart”: Although there is nowhere in Scripture that people are commanded to ask Jesus into their heart, this has become the primary means by which Evangelicals believe a person becomes a Christian. Don’t be scared here. Heart surgery, high cholesterol, and cardiovascular exercise (or lack thereof) have no bearing on Christ’s presence in your heart. He does not actually live there.
5. Soul Winning: Please understand, this is not a game. It is the act whereby one person tells another about Christ and the person believes, thereby having their souls “saved” (i.e. “won”). I know that normally if there are winners, you would think there are losers, but not in Soul Winning. Everyone wins in this game (except the lost).
6. “I see that hand . . .”: This is related to #1. The pastor has just asked for raised hands while everyone’s heads are bowed and eyes closed. “I see that hand” can mean one of two things: 1) Someone is indicating that they have accepted Jesus by raising their hand. 2) The pastor is acting like someone has to be more heroic and finance the new building. VERY IMPORTANT: Avoid any temptation to look for the hand when the pastor says “I see that hand.” Although science is inconclusive, we are not sure if you looking for the hand raised has any bearing on the effectiveness of the salvation process. It is best to be safe and avoid giving in to this temptation. To be very spiritual, just thank the Lord for that person and pray that they become a Calvinist.
7. Contemporary Christian Music: Avoid at all costs. Yes, many of your Christian friends will act as if they like it. Musicians, sociologists, and psychologists are perplexed as to the reasons why. We believe it is due to the pressured environment of the Christian community for Christians to do all things Christian, but this has no bearing on your salvation. Please, don’t feel pressure to like it.
8. Christian Movies: See “Contemporary Christian Music.”
9. Baptism: The spiritual act of going under water. Yeah, I know, most people don’t understand it, but you must do it anyway. Oh, also, someone else has to push, drop, or lower you; otherwise, it is ineffective.
10. “Blessed”: This word must take the place of many words, but the most important replacement is with the word “luck.” Super-spiritual Christians (SSC) will often be offended and pugnaciously correct you if you ever say, “Good luck.” Even if you are just using it as a casual phrase with the best of intentions, the SSC will see it as an opportunity to correct you and show you how Christian they are compared to you by saying “I don’t believe in luck, only God’s blessings.” When you have someone correct you, its best to just act as if you have learned something and then be on your way.
On the Chuck Missler partnership with “prophet” Kim Clement
by A. S.
A lot of Christians have been asking us about one of a well-known Bible teacher, Pastor Chuck Missler. We’ve been aware of growing concerns being voiced from around the country over teachings and partnerships, including the pairing of Pastor Missler with New Apostolic Reformation “singing prophet” Kim Clement. This is one of many video promotions […]
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