February 24, 2015 Daily Blogroll Collection

Sufficient Fire conference audio and video are available

by Dan PhillipsIn case you missed the announcement Friday, Copperfield Bible Church, and the volunteers who worked on the conference, have now made available the audio and video from the Sufficient Fire conference sessions, both the talks and the panels.

Click on the graphic.

10 Biblical Formulas To Change Your Life

Happy Graphic

A few years ago, I was reading Gretchen Rubin’s New York Times bestseller, The Happiness Project, where she narrates a year of trying to become a happier person through implementing the research findings of positive psychologists (“happy scientists” as they are sometimes called).

As I read this fascinating and helpful book, I couldn’t help thinking, “Surely Christians can do better than this!” Although these science-based techniques can be helpful, surely Christian have truths that can produce far more joy. Having written Christians Get Depressed Too, I thought, why don’t I write the flip side, “Christians Can Be Happy Too!” (With the bonus that I might be better known as Mr. Happy rather than Mr. Depression!)

The result is The Happy Christian which I based upon 10 biblical formulas, summarized in the above graphic produced by Eric Chimenti. (Here’s full resolution pdf and jpg for printing).

Over the next week or so, we’ll take a closer look at each of these formulas and graphics, but today I thought I’d present a quick summary to give you a general idea of what’s in the book (you can also get the first couple of chapters free at the website here).

Daily Calculations

Just before we look at the formulas, notice that every formula is based upon a Bible verse. You can see that in the texts underneath each image around the calculator and the texts on the green calculator buttons.

Also, every formula is in “greater than” format. For example, the formula Good News > Bad News, based on Philippians 4:8, is saying make an effort to increase your intake of good news and reduce your intake of bad news in order to produce more of God’s peace in your lives. It’s not saying eliminate all bad news – that would be unrealistic and wrong to even attempt in a fallen world.

But, like all formulas, they require work to work! Just as answers to math questions don’t just drop into our laps, so we have to work at these formulas to get the benefit of the biblical truths in them into our lives.

Last, none of these are one-off sums that we calculate once and then move on. They have to be practiced every day of our lives. But I hope the infographic will make it easier to keep them in front of us and keep calculating them until they become instinctive and healthy habits.

Ten Biblical Formulas 

1. Facts > Feelings: This chapter covers how to gather the right facts, how to best think about these facts, and how to enjoy the beneficial impact of this on our emotions and moods. After identifying a number of damaging thinking patterns that are pummeling our emotions,  a six-step plan to retrain thoughts, knock out destructive emotions, and build a shield of protective positive feelings such as peace, joy, and confidence.

2. Good News > Bad News: Philippians 4:8 is applied to our media and ministry diets to ensure that we are consuming and digesting more good news than bad news, and thus enjoy more of God’s peace in our hearts.

3. Done > Do: While we need the demanding the imperatives of God’s law to reveal where we’ve gone wrong, we need to hear even more of the indicatives of God’s redeeming acts to reveal His grace and provision.

4. Christ > Christians: One of the biggest obstacles to evangelism is the inconsistency and hypocrisy of many Christians. It’s also the reason why so many leave the church or are unhappy in the church. But by focusing more on Christ than on Christians, we stop adding up the innumerable faults of Christians and start calculating the inestimable value of Christ.

5. Future > Past: This chapter helps Christians get the most our of looking to the past without falling into nostalgia or guilt. However, the primary emphasis of this chapter is to encourage Christians to have a much more future-oriented faith than is usually the case.

6. Everywhere grace > Everywhere sin:  Without denying the deep and ugly sinfulness that affects and infects everyone and everything, this formula calls Christians to pay much more attention to God’s beautiful work in the world and in all His creatures, resulting in a more positive worldview, more joy in our hearts, and more praise for our gracious God.

7. Praise > Criticism: Although it often feels good to criticize more than praise, a critical spirit and habit is extremely damaging for both the critic and the criticized. This chapter presents ten persuasive arguments for why praise and encouragement should be predominant.

8. Giving > Getting: Perhaps the most unbelieved beatitude in the Bible is, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). By looking at charitable giving, giving in marriage, giving of thanks, and giving in leadership, this chapter presents biblical and scientific evidence to persuade that the beatitude is indeed true.

9. Work > Play: As work plays such a large part in our lives, it’s hard to be happy Christians unless we are happy at work. This chapter explains the bible’s teaching about vocation and proposes a number of God-centered ways in which we can increase our joy at work.

10. Diversity > Uniformity: While staying in our own cultures and communities is safe and easy, a more biblical engagement of other races, classes, and cultures enriches and enhances our lives. This chapter suggests ten ways in which we can increase diversity in our lives, families, and churches, and lists ten advantages of such choices.

The conclusion faces the reality of sin and suffering head-on, and counsels Christians about how to find joy in repentance and in joyful submission to God’s providence. The book finishes with a look towards heaven, a world of happiness, where we can put our calculators away and enjoy God’s provision of perfect happiness.


Instructions to the Dying

AnselmAnselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) is most famous for (1) his ontological argument for the existence of God and (2) the satisfaction theory of the atonement.

But today, I’d like to share my favorite quote from Anselm. It is found in his “Exhortation to a Dying Man,” in which he consoles those who are about to face death by asking them a series of questions.

The first set of questions is aimed at fellow clergy and the second is for laypeople.

* * * * *

Question. Do you rejoice, brother, that you are dying in the Christian Faith?
Answer. I do rejoice. . . .

Qu. Do you confess that you have lived so wickedly, that eternal punishment is due to your own merits?
An. I confess it.

Qu. Do you repent of this?
An. I do repent.

Qu. Do you have the willingness to amend your life, if you had time?
An. I have.

Qu. Do you believe that the Lord Jesus Christ died for you?
An. I believe it.

Qu. Do you thank Him [for His passion and death]?
An. I do thank Him.

Qu. Do you believe that you cannot be saved except by His Death?
An. I believe it.

Come then, while life remains in you, in His death alone place your whole trust; in nothing else place any trust; to His death commit yourself wholly; with this alone cover yourself wholly; in this enwrap yourself wholly.

And if the Lord your God wishes to judge you, say, “Lord, between Your judgment and me I present the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; in no other way can I contend with You.” And if He shall say that you are a sinner; you say, “Lord, I interpose the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my sins and You.” If He says that you have deserved condemnation; say, “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between my evil deserts and You; and His merits I offer for those which I ought to have, but have not.” If He says that He is angry with you; say, “Lord I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between Your wrath and me.” And when you hast completed this, say again, “Lord, I set the death of our Lord Jesus Christ between You and me.”

This done, let the sick man say thrice, “Into Your hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit, for You have redeemed me, O Lord, God of truth.” . . .

If he is a layman, he should be questioned after the following manner . . .

Qu. Do you believe the things which belong unto the Christian faith, so far as regards what has been determined by the church?
An. I do believe.

Qu. Do you rejoice that you are dying in the Christian faith?
An. I do rejoice.

Qu. Do you grieve that you have offended your Creator?
An. I do grieve.

Qu. Do you purpose, if God prolong your life, to abstain from offending Him?
An. I do purpose.

Qu. Do you hope and believe, that not by your own merits, but by the merits of the passion of Jesus Christ, you may attain to everlasting salvation?
An. I do.

Then follows the assurance: and then let him say,
If any oppose you, and should object to you, set between him and you the merits of Christ’s passion.

Source: “Anselm’s Exhortation to a Dying Man, Greatly Alarmed on Account of His Sins.” Trans. from Meditations and Prayers, 275–77. English rendered clearer. Latin source: Migne, Patroligae Latinae 158.686-687.


Six Keys for Reaching Millennials in Established Churches – Rainer on Leadership #101

Podcast Episode #101

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We get questions from listeners every day for advice and with suggested podcast topics. Recently, a question about Millennials stood out so we used it to jump into our discussion in this episode about reaching Millennials. Doug asked:

What is being done or what should be done to broaden the scope of age to bring younger leaders to the table and therefore inspire them to invest more, be devoted and committed to promoting initiatives that we say we believe will change the world for Christ?

Some highlights from the episode include:

  • Anyone who is intentional about reaching others for Christ will reach more than those who are not. Intentionality is a must.
  • Churches need to understand that Millennials have different views than previous generations on social issues.
  • When Millennials look at a potential church, ministries and opportunities for their kids are major deciding factors.
  • If you want to reach a generation who cares about their children, the church must care about their children as well.
  • Millennials want to have intentional mentors to come along beside them.
  • Churches must offer Millennials opportunities to serve and to lead. Don’t make them “wait their turn.”
  • If your church is relying on the worship style or architecture to reach Millennials, you’re relying on the wrong thing.

The six keys for churches to reach Millennials are:

  1. Be intentional in engaging & understanding them
  2. Be authentic
  3. Offer ministries for their family and children
  4. Offer to mentor them
  5. Offer opportunities for them to serve and to lead.
  6. Have a presence in the community.

Episode Sponsor

This podcast was brought to you by Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program. If you want more out of your ministry, want to study with a world-class faculty and need to stay where you currently serve, the DMin at Southeastern is the answer for you. Visit SEBTS.EDU/DMIN for more information.


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.


The post Six Keys for Reaching Millennials in Established Churches – Rainer on Leadership #101 appeared first on ThomRainer.com.


How Does a Pastor Evaluate His Sermon One Hour After Preaching It?

This might surprise you, but one of the most dangerous times for a pastor are the hours following his Sunday sermon. You step down from the pulpit still wired and juices flowing as you greet those leaving from the service. Then, like after a good jog, you begin to calm down, your body starts to return to “I’m not preaching mode” which then brings a temporary, but real emotional let down with it.

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The Early Church & the Deity of Christ

Though it’s not an exhaustive list, here are 25 quotes from a number of ante-Nicene church fathers demonstrating their belief in the deity of Jesus Christ. These early Christian theologians all lived before the time of Constantine and the Council of Nicaea. As such, they provide incontrovertible proof (from post-New Testament history) that Constantine was not the first person in church history to affirm this doctrine. Rather, the early church believed that Jesus is God from the time of the apostles on.

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You Are My Son, and I Love You

But imagine if your Christian growth is grounded in your identity as a son of God, unconditionally loved and accepted because of Jesus? The pressures off to hit the home run everyday. Jesus did that for you. It’s okay to strike out, because God is not basing your relationship with Him on your batting average. You can grow as a Christian and excel in spiritual maturity, not out of fear that God may look down on you in shame and embarrassment, but because God looks on you with sheer delight and unconditional love. What I need every morning I wake is to know that I am a son of God, and my identity is forever secured because of who Jesus is and what Jesus did for me.

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A Plea for Innocence

Enjoy what is good, not evil. Watch what is good, not evil. Ponder what is good, not evil. Dream of what is good not evil. Read what is good, not evil. Use social media to celebrate what is good instead of bemoan what is evil. Most of all, do what is good, not evil.

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So They are Back in the News (Yet Again): Adam and Eve and All That

Many evangelicals believe in “de novo” creation, a quick and complete formation of all species including homo sapiens, rejecting evolutionary development from common ancestors. Walton asserts that the Bible “does not necessarily make a de novo claim for human origins.” His proposed scenario could include “some theory of evolution” as compatible with the Bible, he says, but not necessarily the thinking of Darwin disciples “as it exists today.”

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Rob Bell, Gay Marriage, and the Movie Tombstone

So, what does Bell think is a better guide for sexual ethics than the Bible? Personal experience. Why would you choose the Bible, says Bell, “when you have in front of you flesh-and-blood people who…love each other and just want to go through life.’ In other words, what should guide our decisions is the personal sexual experiences of people. We should follow what they feel is right. If this is how they find “love” then great. Thus, on Bell’s view, there are no sexual ethics. There are just people’s personal sexual preferences. Welcome to a brave new world.

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Appreciating the Trinity

The Trinity is central to our Christian identity. Jesus said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). To be baptized into something is to be identified with–to be named in relation to (see 1 Corinthians 10:2). As disciples we’re named into the Triune God. John Calvin said, “In everything we deal with the triune God and never one of the three persons alone. Our relationship with God is therefore simultaneously a relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.”

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Fifteen Reasons Our Churches Are Less Evangelistic Today

I conducted an unscientific Twitter poll recently to see what church leaders and church members thought of this trend, My specific question was: “Why do you think many churches aren’t as evangelistic as they once were?” The responses arrived quickly and in great numbers, both in public tweets and in direct messages to me. Indeed, I was still receiving responses four days after I sent my Twitter question.

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Divine Purposes and Culpable Humans

by Bill Muehlenberg

I read a phrase the other day which got me thinking: it was a reference to Judas as a “culpable tool”. Let me quickly look at these two words. To be culpable of course is to be morally responsible, guilty, blameable. To be a “tool” can refer to one who is being used, often unwittingly, by someone smarter or more superior.

Or if we take the older and established meaning, a tool is “a device or implement … used to carry out a particular function”. In both senses of the word, we have the idea of someone or something being used by another. We think of the user and his purposes, while the tool is just being used for the ends of another.

So to speak of a ‘culpable tool’ may seem rather contradictory. But this is in a sense how Scripture speaks about humans in the outworking of the divine plan. An admittedly huge subject, it has to do with the old seeming paradox between two biblical truths: the sovereignty of God and the moral responsibility of man.

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Bored By Heaven?

The source of eternal bliss is not a new iPhone or the next flat screen TV or another romance. Sinners justified by God’s free favor, through faith alone, know that Christ is all. When strength finally leaves us, when the last breath escapes, when consciousness of this world fades from view it is not an ill-defined bright light we shall see but a sharply defined light, that light by which the heavens are illuminated, that light which came into the world, God the Son incarnate, the radiant. The first sound we shall hear is the sound of joy and praise by those who are in communion with their Creator and their Redeemer.

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Everyday Faith: Older Women, Your True Beauty Will Not Fade

by Pastor J.D.

This is the second of a four-part series on “everyday faith,” based on the instructions Paul gives in Titus 2:1–6. Gospel-centered folks are often allergic to “instructions,” so it’s important to keep in mind that Paul lays these out as our response to the gospel—not as a way to gain acceptance. “Because of what God has done for you,” Paul says, “your lives will look different.” Be sure to read part one here.

Yesterday we tackled Paul’s instructions to older men: don’t give up. Today we ask, What does Paul point out for older women? “Teach the older women to be reverent [or respectful] in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good” (Titus 2:3).

Years ago, one of my seminary professors, Dr. Keith Eitel, said something about this verse that my wife and I have never forgotten. He was talking about that word “reverent” (or “respectful”), and he said, “Older women can sometimes quit caring what people think, so they lose their filters on speaking their mind or talking badly about people.” He went on, “When you’re young, you have two things that can mask quite a bit: your natural physical beauty and your filters. But when those two fade—as they do with age—then the masks are gone, and if you have an ugly spirit, it’ll show.”

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Barronelle Stutzman Knows Just What We Are Up Against

by Bill Muehlenberg

Hopefully by now most of you would have heard of the latest appalling case of the pink mafia and its war against Christians. The homosexual militants, along with their supporters in the media, politics and the judiciary, have declared war on Christianity, and are hell-bent on shutting down any and all opposition to their nefarious agenda.

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A Christian Look at the Movies

By John Stonestreet

This week people around the globe will be glued to their TVs for the Academy Awards. But how should Christians think about Hollywood and the movies? Should we boycott them? Or should we take them more seriously as cultural barometers? During this week’s broadcast, John Stonestreet welcomes Christian screenwriter and producer Bryan Coley, to discuss how believers can use films to engage the culture for Christ.

It’s the 87th annual Academy Award show this weekend, and as the Chief Creative Officer at Art Within, Bryan Coley thinks it’s a prime opportunity for Christians to reflect on the role film plays in our culture. His organization, Art Within, exists to create methods and movie scripts that are culturally relevant and informed by the biblical worldview. And as a Christian himself, Coley doesn’t just love stories, but knows they’re one of God’s primary modes of revealing himself.

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Irony and Intolerance On Campus: Case Study at UNC Wilmington

by Tom Gilson

So there was this student group at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, you see, that was hosting a campus discussion on abortion. Maybe they should have known better than to have tried. It’s a rancorous issue everywhere, with religion right at the heart of the dispute, and of course everyone knows that one side of this debate in particular is pretty hard to get along with. Its people are closed-minded. They believe what they believe, and they won’t listen to anyone else. They have a nasty association with “haters,” due to their knee-jerk rejection of people who disagree with them.

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Cold Case Christianity: Yes, the Christian Worldview Is Supported by the Evidence

Richard Dawkins once famously said, “Faith is the great cop-out, the great excuse to evade the need to think and evaluate evidence. Faith is the belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” He’s also quoted saying, “Many of us saw religion as harmless nonsense. Beliefs might lack all supporting evidence but, we thought, if people needed a crutch for consolation, where’s the harm? September 11th changed all that.” Dawkins isn’t the only atheist who believes Christianity can’t be supported by evidence. Sam Harris said, “When considering the truth of a proposition, one is either engaged in an honest appraisal of the evidence and logical arguments, or one isn’t. Religion is one area of our lives where people imagine that some other standard of intellectual integrity applies.” Statements such as these, while they are rhetorically powerful, expose a lack of understanding about the nature of evidence. Dawkins and Harris aren’t professional case makers, and they aren’t familiar with the broad categories of evidence we use in criminal and civil trials every day. Detectives and prosecutors understand anything can be assessed evidentially. There are only two categories of evidence, and Christian Case Makers use both types of evidence when making a case for Christianity:

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Consecration: Rescuing the Lawful from Idolatry

by David de Bruyn

As we grow in communion with God, we are convicted in a different way. We become aware that we have compartmentalized our lives, and certain compartments have little of Christ in them. They may be completely lawful: family, food, work, leisure, hobbies, art, or other human pursuits, but we grow restless as we see how God is not the ultimate end of these parts of our lives.

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Albert Mohler Blog: “The Table of the Nations, the Tower of Babel, and the Marriage Supper of the Lamb: Part 1”

In this new blog essay, Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr. reproduces the first half of this year’s convocation address on the Table of Nations and racial reconciliation. Mohler writes:

“Increasingly, the world is recognizing that to be human is to live by the light of a story — a story that tells us about the past, explains the future, and situates us in the present. Yet from a Christian worldview we recognize that the stories promulgated by the world are not only inadequate as metanarratives but toxic to human flourishing. Ministers of the gospel also have a story to tell — the story of Scripture, the story of Jesus and his love. This is the story that leads to salvation and a story we must not get wrong.”

Click here to read more

Finding God’s Will Is No Deep Dark Secret Part 2

by Marsha West

In Finding God’s Will Is No Deep Dark Secret Part 1 I asked the following questions: Is it possible for a Christian to know God’s will and not have to agonize over it? Should a Christian (a) make a decision without first spending hours in prayer, asking God to reveal His will? (b) avoid making […]

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God’s Will and the Christian genocide

Today on Stand Up For The Truth we are asking for your thoughts and Scripture verses as we look at a topic many Christians struggle with: How does one discern God’s will, and then follow it? We’re going to share Part 1 and Part 2 of an excellent series by one of our authors, Marsha […]

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Our Time is Short

Read: Recommitting Your Life To God and Jesus Christ – Restoration and Forgiveness With God and Jesus Christ (Updated Version)

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