May 30-31, 2015 Truth2Freedom Weekend Christian Blog/Article Collection

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The Withering Of The Episcopal Church

“Permit me to offer my observations about why the Episcopal churches have hollowed out. They are not the result of a scientific survey, but my hunch is that they will ring true with many Episcopalians with traditional views. My observations are based on experiences I had while attending talent shows with a friend at an Episcopal church (now closed) just outside of New Haven, Conn.”

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10 Hidden Traps That Trip Pastors Up

“Some leaders seem to have an endless supply of energy, enthusiasm, and passion. Even these super-leaders have to take time to feed themselves. If you fail to do this, you will find yourself depleted and weak. Take the time to do something for yourself—those you lead will be glad, and you will be more effective.”

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Why Religion Will Dominate The 21st Century

“Wherever you look, religion is mutating, thriving, growing. Southeast Asia is as fiercely religious as ever. Same with India. Africa — this century’s next superpower — is the most religious continent on the planet. In America, disaffiliation is changing the face of American religion, but at the same time, higher proportions of people today than in the 1950s declare believing in God, or having had a religious experience, or praying frequently.”

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Young, Restless, Foolish

“There is a caricature of young Reformed guys as being hard to get along with and angry. I agree. But it’s not because they’re Reformed. It’s because they are young, mere infants in the faith. It’s not true of every young Christian, but it seems to be particularly true of zealous, academically minded men.”

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Addressing Signs of Leadership Fatigue

“Fatigued leaders don’t consider vision beyond the end of this workday. While not ignoring the “big picture,” strengthen your vision for one area of the church about which you are passionate. Talk to local leaders about needs in your community. Your vision will expand when you see again the world outside your church.”

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Evangelical Protestants Are The Biggest Winners When People Change Faiths

“They’re better at holding on to the people born into their tradition (65 percent retention compared to 59 percent for Catholics and 45 percent for Mainline Protestants), and they’re a stronger attractor for people leaving other faiths. According to Pew’s data on conversion rates, 10 percent of people raised Catholic wind up as evangelicals. Just 2 percent of people born as evangelicals wind up Catholic.”

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How Is Baptism A Sign And Seal?

“Baptism is a divinely-instituted sign and seal. As has been mentioned, our Lord did a great number of things which has not instituted for our perpetual use and observance but baptism is instituted for perpetual use and observance until he returns. It is a sign of the washing away of our sins and it is a seal of the same.”

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NAR’s Faytene Grassechi uses Empowered21 to teach Luke 4 is about…Dominionism!

by Marsha West

John Lanagan of My Word Like Fire has an update on New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) false teachers who are becoming mainstream thanks largely to pro-family leaders; likewise Assemblies of God leaders, which Lanagan has brought to light in a string of articles he has written on the NAR. A case can be made that many of these so-called leaders lack spiritual discernment. He writes:

Jesus Christ “died for you, He died for me. Absolutely. But that’s not all He died for. He came to destroy the works of the devil and He came to take back everything that was lost in the Garden, and according to Luke 4 one of the primary things that was lost was authority over kingdoms…” –Faytene Grassechi, speaking at Empowered21 (bold and italics mine)

The Empowered21 organization met recently in Jerusalem with Christians from around the world, and the event essentially served to introduce New Apostolic Reformation leaders and teachers to many.

NAR adherents Faytene Grassechi, Cindy Jacobs, Becky Fischer and many others gained much exposure.

There is no biblical basis for Dominionism, the aberrant belief that Christians must take control of the earth before Christ can or will return. This is a terrible misunderstanding of Genesis 1:28. Nevertheless, this aberrant teaching is a foundational belief of the New Apostolic Reformation. It is why you will often find the NAR in politics, and seeking to influence nations.

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Homeschoolers Win Televised Quiz Bowl Against Michigan Schools

The Chargers faced formidable opponents in the Okemos Chieftains, who had consistently dominated the 60-school tournament. The Chieftains were the returning champions. Both teams faced a gauntlet of questions ranging from particle physics and Scottish literature to botany and African geopolitics—a range of inquiry likely to inspire panic in most adults.

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Give the ‘Bigot’ Bomb a Break

People are complicated and multifaceted. Life is not a zero-sum game: A person can have redeeming value and disagree — even vigorously and vehemently — with you on issues dear to you. We need to get back to the idea of tolerating differences and debating ideas in the public square. Perhaps it’s time for both sides to give the “bigot” bomb a rest.

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What Would Jesus Do? (About Same-Sex Marriage – SSM)

What I do know is what he wouldn’t do. Jesus would never sin. He would never go against his Father’s Word or law. He came to fulfill it, not to destroy it. I know that he comes to save and not to condemn and yet he still calls sin, sin. I know that Jesus was gentle and mild, but he was not ‘nice’. He spoke the truth bluntly – especially to religious and political leaders. He didn’t play politics, or do back room deals. And he was incredibly radical, pointing out that following him was a cross and that anyone who wanted to had better forget popular acclaim and instead be ready for persecution.

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Waiting and Waiting on the Lord… There’s A Difference!

So it seems that since I know that my all-powerful heavenly Father is working through all circumstances to accomplish his good purpose for me and all of his children, that it should be easier for me to rest in this knowledge and accept it. I should not find it so difficult to live in the light of this wonderful truth.

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10 Ideas Embedded In The Slogan “All Truth Is God’s Truth”

All that is truthful, from whatever source, is unified, and will cohere with whatever else is truthful. (“Because God’s reality is unified and coherent, centered as it is on the person of Christ, all truthful apprehensions of that reality, or truthful expressions of those apprehensions, will cohere and contribute to an integrated, unified, Christ-centered vision of all things.”

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Voddie Baucham’s Big Move to Africa

What’s the core of Reformed theology for you? For me, the three Cs: Calvinistic, covenantal, and confessional. Ironically, the earliest Baptist confessions are Reformed Baptist confessions. Our church is a Second London Baptist Confession church. … Our roots and our heritage are Reformed. We are the radical Reformers. We reformed on baptism when our Presbyterian brothers left off there, so we would argue that we’re actually more reformed than Presbyterians are.

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Let Us Repent of our Repentance and Repent Again (Psalm 78)

It is in the New Jerusalem (New Heavens and Earth; Paradise; Heaven; Kingdom) that the church will eternally thrive in the presence of the Father. And all of this is due to the wonderful, gracious, and powerful leadership of the Great Shepherd — the King of kings. With a mighty hand God disciplines his covenant people, and with a tender hand he skillfully guides them all the way to glory. Jesus is greater than Moses. He is greater than David. He is the Faithful Son who leads all God’s chosen sons to their eternal rest.

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The Church of Scotland General Assembly: A Commissioner’s View

The Theological Forum presented a report and a motion to extend the same status to same sex couples that had participated in a gay marriage rather than a civil partnership ceremony. Although the Theological Forum viewed their motion as simply an extension of the act passed on Saturday, and tried to frame their argument in terms of a legal, equality, and justice framework; those opposed to the motion saw it as a de facto attempt to redefine marriage without debating the issue.

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How can we deny marriage to polygamists?

by Denny Burk

Ross Douthat acknowledges that legal polygamous marriage doesn’t appear to be around the corner. Nevertheless, he rightly asks how long until it too becomes as inevitable as gay marriage. He writes:

Can Americans say a permanent “no” to recognizing plural marriage once we’ve rooted for the Browns to get a “My Sisterwife’s Closet” jewelry line off the ground? Can a cultural left that believes in proliferating gender identities and Bruce Jenner’s essential womanhood draw the line, long-term, when a lesbian couple wants to include their baby’s biological father in their legal family, or when the child of polygamists stands up in court to say he wants his dad recognized as his mother’s legal spouse? Is a culture where prominent men routinely have multiple kids with multiple wives across multiple decades going to permanently deny marriage rights to people who want the same thing, except all at once?

How long indeed? Read the rest here.

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NAR’s Faytene Grassechi uses Empowered21 to teach Luke 4 is about…Dominionism!

by Marsha West

Our aim at Berean Research is to alert our visitors to the apostate movements that have infiltrated the Church. The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is one such movement and it’s growing in leaps and bounds. In his latest piece, John Lanagan alerts us to yet another of the NAR’s “ravening wolves” Gaytene Grassechi. Lanagan includes a quote […]

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Lessons of Faith From the Frontlines

These persecuted believers learned true faith in the face of persecution. Their incredible lessons learned were…

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Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa Pastor, Brian Brodersen, Says Sometimes It’s OK to Attend a Homosexual Wedding

by Marsha West

(Lighthouse Trails Research) On Friday, a long-time Lighthouse Trails reader contacted our office regarding the following situation. The person who called had attended Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa for several years but has not been attending for some time. According to an article titled “Can I Attend My LGBT Friend’s Wedding?” written by Calvary Chapel Costa […]

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  • Here is what my church was blessed to hear on Sunday.
  • Have I mentioned this here before? Even if I have, it’s still abominable.
  • The rapture will be occurring on October 7. You’re welcome.
  • Lots of bad theology here. “To me, God is…” Quick, somebody introduce this young man to expository preaching so he can truly understand God’s Word!
  • In the midst of the Duggar drama, I appreciate Pastor Tom Chantry taking time to question “reality.” I encourage you to read this post.
  • Oh, goody, the Hillsong movie is coming.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable (thank you, Rick!).
  • Attention Pope Francis: If you ask me, the devil is the one who is prompting you to spew such nonsense.
  • Supernatural peace:

Source


The Hal Lindsey Report: Why Bad News Leads to Good News

Finally, contrary to what my critics would have you believe, I do not preach doom and gloom. I preach truth and grace. I also preach that the Big News of Christ’s soon return will be carried in on an ever-increasing wave of Bad News. That’s precisely what the Bible warned would happen. That’s one of the signs that we are nearing the end of this Age of Grace.

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A Voice for Those Who Are Silenced

Jan Markell and Jill Martin Rische talk with Pastor Steven Khoury who is a voice for Christians silenced in his region, the Middle East. His evangelical outreach is greatly persecuted by the Muslims of the area. He received a standing ovation following his message at our “Understanding the Times Fall 2014” conference. He just addressed the United Nations as well. Then Jan and Eric Barger discuss the silence in the pulpit about all the issues that matter today. How can pastors be approached to deal with the important things the pulpit neglects today? We use the mobile app found at http://www.oneplace.com.

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Articles of the Week

Our Sexed-Up Culture Has Ruined Healthy Male-Female Work RelationshipsHalee Gray Scott. If you haven’t thought much about male-female work relationships, chances are you don’t have any. There are two ways to go wrong when it comes to these types of relationships: on one end, being naïve and avoiding boundaries of every sort; on the other end, treating those of the opposite sex solely as a temptation. Scott charts a helpful middle course.

What Kind of Writer Are You: Microwave, Crockpot, or Stir-Fry? Trevin Wax. This probably applies to just about any long-term project, but it’s particularly relevant for those of us who traffic in the written word. Wax fancies himself a stir-fry kind of guy. I (Chris) think I tend more toward the crockpot. But it seems wise to have the capacity to do all three. Where do you fall?

Nine Things We’re Glad We’ve Learning in Our Marriage (So Far)Aaron Armstrong. The road to the altar was a “long and complicated one” for Armstrong. I suspect that’s true of many contemporary romances, so it’s encouraging to hear what Aaron and his wife Emily have learned since saying “I do.” (Also, not central to the article, but noteworthy nonetheless: Armstrong taught me a new euphemism for trying to get pregnant. It’s “leaving the barn door open.” Indeed.)

Five Ways to Rise Above Internet OutrageBrant Hansen. Outrage isn’t new, of course. But internet outrage seems to be in its prime, particularly with the rise of social media. (Did Zuckerburg know what mayhem he was creating with that online catalogue of faces? Did he know? I digress…) It’s easy to respond to current events with anger and outrage. So how do we, as Hansen puts it, “wade through a sea of insults and general wrongness without getting worked up into a self-righteous lather?” It’s a good question. And he has a good answer.

Ten Considerations as Pastors Consider Illegal ImmigrationNathan Busenitz. Many churches haven’t started to think through how they minister to undocumented residents in the U.S. But it’s high time we have the talk, because the political conversation certainly isn’t giving us many helpful cues. Busenitz (a pastor in L.A.) has given us a very helpful head start.


Christianity and The Culture War
May 29, 2015 08:41 am | Mike

The Christian Church is called to address the issues of society with the gospel, love and truth of Jesus Christ.  Over the past several decades many are concerned with how the church has been absent on issues like abortion, homosexual marriage and other issues. What should the role of the Church be in these times […]

The post Christianity and The Culture War appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Biblical or Human Church Growth?
May 28, 2015 06:46 am | Mike

Bigger is better, right?  The Church Growth Movement has captured the fancy of Christian leaders and members alike.  After all, if our churches are bigger and growing, that means God is behind it, right? Not so fast.  Our guest this morning Pastor Gary Gilley has some concerns about the “bigger is better” movement sweeping American […]

The post Biblical or Human Church Growth? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Better gear up for the 5 major changes coming to the Church
May 28, 2015 05:57 am | Marsha West

John Burton has written a piece titled “Ancient and Emerging: 5 Major Changes Coming to the Church.”  Before you get all excited, or maybe even concerned over those changes, you should know a bit more about Burton.  As it turns out he’s a “prophet in the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) movement.   According to his blog, […]

The post Better gear up for the 5 major changes coming to the Church appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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About those gifts
May 27, 2015 08:49 am | A. S.

There are a lot of Christian leaders out there who are manipulating everything from spiritual gifts tests to oracles from God to signs and wonders in their church services. There are those who are cessationists – who believe speaking in tongues and speaking prophecies are not active for today, and those who believe the gifts […]

The post About those gifts appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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About-those-gifts-guest-John-Lanagan.mp3 24.2 MB


Decisions ahead for Irish churches after country adopts same-sex marriage
May 26, 2015 02:43 pm | Marsha West

DUBLIN  — Ireland became the first nation to adopt same-sex marriage by popular vote May 22 after a months-long campaign by advocates of traditional marriage to preserve the institution failed. The referendum drew more than 1.2 million people to the polls for the vote, which has now shifted once-conservative Ireland squarely into the liberal column […]

The post Decisions ahead for Irish churches after country adopts same-sex marriage appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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If a Duggar came out as a homosexual who’d acted out in the mid-teen years…
May 26, 2015 11:40 am | Scott Alan Buss

There can be little doubt that if a Duggar came out as a homosexual who’d acted out sexually in their mid-teen years, they’d be the most celebrated, adored and defended creature in the modern mainstream media universe. That much should be obvious at this point, whatever one’s perspective might be on the many tragic aspects of the […]

The post If a Duggar came out as a homosexual who’d acted out in the mid-teen years… appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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The truth about Transhumanism
May 26, 2015 08:44 am | A. S.

So would you like to live forever armed with superhuman powers? To be your own god?  The enemy of our souls would like you to believe that you can do just that. And many people are embracing this idea called transhumanism. It literally means “beyond human”.  All over the world, scientists and intellectuals are joining […]

The post The truth about Transhumanism appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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6 Problems with the Evangelical Church – OnFaith

The wider evangelical church is suffering terribly from theological bankruptcy. A recent Barna survey is particularly revealing. Their report reads in part:

Overall, the current research revealed that only nine percent of all American adults have a biblical worldview. Among the 60 subgroups of respondents that the survey explored was one defined by those who said they have made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ that is important in their life today and that they are certain that they will go to Heaven after they die only because they confessed their sins and accepted Christ as their savior. Labeled “born again Christians,” the study discovered that they were twice as likely as the average adult to possess a biblical worldview. However, that meant that even among born again Christians, less than one out of every five (19 percent) had such an outlook on life

The Barna Group’s research goes on to reveal that 79 percent of those identifying as “born again Christians” firmly believe the Bible is accurate in all its teachings — which is pretty good, I guess — but it also reveals that only 46 percent of these “born agains” believe in absolute moral truth, only 40 percent believe Satan is real, and only 47 percent strongly reject the idea that you can earn your way to heaven. Further, only 62 percent of the born-again Christians surveyed strongly believe that Jesus was sinless.

This data is very sobering. It indicts evangelicals, yes, but surely it also indicts the information centers they are learning from. It demonstrates that over the last generation, not only has America become less Christian, but professing Christians have become less Christian.

I think this is the direct result of evangelicalism’s relentless prioritization of what seems useful over what is true. We have tended to favor the practical half-truth rather than the (allegedly) impractical whole truth.

Brothers and sisters, we ought to recover the roots of real Christianity before those who care are too few to do anything useful about it. Part of that recovery will involve identifying some of the factors that contribute to the problem. Some of these will be difficult to consider, but we ought to consider them anyway.

Here are six of the problems in the church we need to address:

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Cold Case Christianity: What Can We Do to Help Young People Remain in the Faith?

In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Podcast, J. Warner Wallace provides four simple principles parents can employ to help their kids defend what they believe as Christians. Given the high rate of attrition for young Christians, is there anything the Church (and parents in particular) can do to address the challenge?

Here is part 1 broadcast:

Here is part 2 broadcast:


Marriage, Church and the State

by Bill Muehlenberg

Sometime next month the US Supreme Court will issue its decision on homosexual marriage. Many of us fear it will be another disaster, like Roe v Wade – a handful of unelected and unrepresentative judges will strike down the nation’s and/or states’ laws and seek to force sodomite marriage on everyone, whether they like it or not.

Everyone concerned about the fundamental institution of marriage, especially Christians, will need to have a major rethink as to how we respond, and what changes, if any, we embark upon. The whole issue of the state’s role in matters of marriage and family may well need to be reassessed.

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Some Reflections on Pastoral Love: Part 2

by Michael Riley

Last week, I wrote of several ways in which Paul evidenced his love for the very difficult congregation of Corinth. Now, I will add one more item to that list and suggest one very practical application of pastoral love.

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The Rise of the Nones and the Collapse of the Middle

By Tom Gilson

The Pew Research Center has reported recently on the continuing increase of the “nones”–the religiously unaffiliated. Over the past five years, says Pew, “the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).”
On first glance it might appear that Christianity is in decline. The truth is rather more complex–in some ways encouraging and in other ways ominous, for what the numbers signify is a widening polarization of American society due to the collapse of the middle.

Nominal Christianity in Decline

The “middle” to which I’m referring is nominal Christianity, which is where many of these new “nones” have come from, according to researcher Ed Stetzer. Nominal Christians are decreasing in number, but convictional Christians are holding virtually steady. Church attendance, says Stetzer, has hardly changed in America since the 1940s. What we’re seeing, then, is not so much a decline in practicing, believing Christians, as a relatively sudden shrinkage in the number of nominal believers.

The Partially Understandable Riddle of Congregational Christianity

Nominal Christianity’s decline isn’t hard to understand; in fact, I’ve never quite grasped the appeal of what Stetzer calls congregational Christianity. One of his two categories of nominal Christianity, congregational Christianity essentially comprises those who would say “such-and-such a church is my church,” but whose beliefs are weak and who attend infrequently. (His other nominal category is cultural Christianity: those who identify as Christians simply because they live in a culture that’s been significantly shaped by the faith.)

Congregational Christianity has long baffled me. Sunday morning services are generally called worship services. What or whom do congregational Christians worship, if not the living God as sovereign King over their lives? And why would they make time for Bible lessons when they hardly believe in the Bible?

The Collapse of the Middle

Yet truly congregational Christians were once commonplace. In my youth it was not considered unusual for people to attend church purely for the social connections it provided, or even the business contacts. Some of these congregational Christians didn’t realize it, but they’d been labeled the C&E crowd, as in “Christmas and Easter.”

Church attendance still swells on those two holidays, but not like it used to, if my impressions are correct. I’ll say this for the C&E crowd, though: At least they knew what Christmas and Easter were about. Most Americans did, once upon a time, but no longer…

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The Rise of the Nones and the Collapse of the Middle


4 Things Christians Need to Know in the New Religious World

By Aaron Earls

For better or worse, the spiritual landscape of the United States is shifting.

Millennials are the least likely generation to believe in God. Nones are on the rise. And according to projections from Pew Research, Muslims will overtake Jews to become the second largest U.S. religious group by 2050.

Churches accustomed to operating within a culture dominated by a Judeo-Christian mindset will need to learn how to engage others in this new spiritual environment.

It wasn’t so long ago that most Americans had some type of religious affiliation or church background. Today, it’s not uncommon to have friends, neighbors, and coworkers who have no memory of going to church or who grew up in a faith other than Christianity. When reaching out to their communities, churches need to consider that those they are engaging may have a very different worldview.

Despite the global decline of the nonreligious, in 35 years, 1 in 4 Americans will be unaffiliated with any religion. In addition, adherents of minority religions will climb from 5 to 8 percent of the U.S. population.

Increasingly, churches and Christians will interact with those who have non-biblical worldviews. To help us better understand how to reach our neighbors more effectively, we spoke with Mary Jo Sharp, assistant professor of apologetics at Houston Baptist University.

Sharp is the author of Defending the Faith: Apologetics in Women’s Ministry, two apologetic Bible studies, Resilient Faith and Why Do You Believe That?, and a contributor to several other publications.

Here are four things Sharp says Christians need to know as we move into this new era of American religious life.

1. Know what you believe.

The first step in preparing to talk with others about their beliefs is to understand your own…

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4 Things Christians Need to Know in the New Religious World


Five Ways to Go Wrong with Church Discipline

by C Michael Patton

What is Church Discipline?

There is hardly a practice in the local church that is misused more than “church discipline.” Don’t get me wrong, I don’t have many answers and its misuse is understandable. I think there are three primary ways we can find it misused: 1) It is never used at all, 2) it is used in an unbiblical way, and 3) people are brought in for discipline for “sins” that don’t require its use.

[Tweet “There is hardly a practice in the church that is misused more than “church discipline.””]

Matthew 18:15-17 is the primary passage that speaks to the practice of church discipline (even if we are still left with a lot of questions).

First, let’s say this: the purpose of church discipline is the restoration of the brother in sin (Matt. 18:15), to bring recognition to the seriousness of sin (1 Tim. 5:20), and to protect the church from the influence of sin (1 Cor. 5:6). This much is clear.

Here is what Christ has to say about it in Matthew

Matthew 18

15 “And if your brother sins, go and reprove him in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.

17 “And if he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax-gatherer. (NAS)

Let’s try to take this step by step.

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Justification and Sanctification

by Bill Combs

Guy Waters has an excellent summary of justification and sanctification over at the Ligonier Blog.

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Notable Voices: May 30, 2015


The Missing Ingredient in Church Leadership — Sam Rainer

No matter your system of leadership or your theological prowess, if you’re missing the ingredient Sam covers in this post, you will likely fail as a church leader.


3 Ways to Identify Your Ministry Convictions — Eric Geiger

We can talk about what we think our ministry convictions are, but when you put them through this quick test, the truth comes out.


Long Preaching Isn’t Always Good Preaching — Aaron Armstrong

Just as long books aren’t always good books, the length of a sermon rarely correlates to the excellence of a sermon. The key is not the length or the preaching, but the effectiveness of the preaching.


7 Ways to Respond to an Overly-Negative, Complaining Bully — Ron EdmondsonI recently wrote about church bullies here at the blog. It is a pervasive problem in many churches. So how does a pastor respond to a bully in the church? Ron shares seven helpful suggestions.


The Complexity of Pastoral Care — Nick Batzig

Pastoral care is not plug-and-play. It is not one-size-fits-all. It is a complex practice pastors must learn from experience. Nick offers five tips for improving your pastoral care.


5 Things Every Christian Leader Should Pray for Themselves Everyday — Kevin Halloran

While Christians can lift up thousands of different prayers for their leadership, Kevin shares five helpful topics on which we can focus our daily prayers.


The post Notable Voices: May 30, 2015 appeared first on ThomRainer.com.


Eight trends about church members on social media

On a few occasions, I have addressed the topic of church leaders on social media. I obviously have a fascination with this form of communication. Indeed, I see it as one of the great modern-day vehicles for good or harm.

In this post, I address eight trends related to church members who use social media, specifically in relation to the churches where they are members. As a note of clarification, most of my data comes from Twitter and Facebook. There are, obviously, many other types of social media.

Related Post: Eight Signs of Fearful Leadership

Here, then, are eight of the trends I see:

  1. More church members use social media to encourage others in their churches. These words of encouragement are typically directed toward pastors and church staff. The good news is that these tweets and posts seem to be more frequent and pervasive.
  2. Church members increasingly use social media to point others to interesting articles related to Christianity and church life. Indeed, I am encouraged to see many such visits to my blog and to other sites that include information on faith and church life.
  3. Though in the minority, an increasing number of church members use social media to attack and criticize church leaders. I recently read a scathing attack on a pastor. It was filled with venom and vitriol.
  4. More non-Christians are viewing such attacks as normative for Christians. They thus have no desire to associate with Christians or come to our churches. I have heard from many of these non-Christians myself.
  5. A number of church members are using social media wisely to share the gospel. I have been greatly encouraged to read many tweets and posts that point readers to articulate and loving presentations of the gospel. May their numbers increase!
  6. Church members are using social media with increasing frequency to share prayer requests.On more than one occasion, I have seen a prayer request spread virally. It is very encouraging to see the power of prayer on this modern medium.
  7. Some church members use social media as means to share activities and ministries in the church. Indeed, social media has become one of the primary forums to invite others to the church by letting people know what is taking place in the congregations.
  8. While the use of social media by church members is overwhelmingly positive, the toxic users of these forums still get an inordinate amount of attention. It’s the “car accident syndrome.” Traffic slows down to see the havoc created by the accident.

Like most vehicles or instruments, church members can use social media for good or harm. The caution we all should heed is that social media tends to magnify our voices in unprecedented ways.

This article was originally published at ThomRainer.com on October 15, 2014. 

Thom S. Rainer serves as president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources. Among his greatest joys are his family: his wife Nellie Jo; three sons, Sam,  Art, and Jess; and seven grandchildren. Dr. Rainer can be found on Twitter @ThomRainer and at facebook.com/Thom.S.Rainer.

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John MacArthur: “Hope for a Doomed Nation” AKA Love in the time of evil

John MacArthur preached on Sunday. It was a sermon from the pastor side of him, not the teacher side of him. He did not explain the bible verse-by-verse. Instead, he was speaking from the heart to his flock about today’s world.

He quickly reviewed the tenets of the Holy Spirit created restraints put upon the world so it does not self-destruct from sin. Conscience, family, civil law/government and the church are four ways the Spirit restrains sin in the world, MacArthur summarized from a recent sermon. In addition, Romans 1 shows what God does to societies when societies leap over those bounds; sexual revolution, homosexual revolution, then reprobate mind. He said we are in the midst of judgment, the wrath of abandonment, since it can be clearly seen that America has leaped beyond those restraints and God has given us over to those different kinds of perversity. There IS an eschatological wrath, and there IS an eternal wrath, but the current judgment is neither of those. The eschatological wrath is coming, MacArthur said, and we can all agree, that is promised. But the current wrath is the judgment of abandonment. “That one is not coming. We’re in the midst of it,” he said.

That was his 30 minute introduction in the sermon “Hope for a Doomed Nation.

Dr MacArthur usually takes a several week vacation the beginning of June. He said at this point in his sermon,

“So as we look at America, and I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next few weeks when I’m not here, I’m just pre-empting that a little bit by helping you to be able to think through whatever happens.”

He then listed 12 points that are driving this nation to its terrible demise, a spiritual pathology that is causing us as a nation to run so fast to the cliff.

It was a really interesting sermon. I think any one with discerning, biblical sense can see how far along the prophetic timeline we are. Many people I work with who are of biblical maturity and discernment believe this as well. I know I do. Imagine believing we are so close to the edge of some kind of terrible, visible disaster, that MacArthur believes something drastic might happen even in the next few weeks as he is gone from the pulpit. To be so close to something we all sense will occur, he is unwilling to leave his flock without preparing them biblically to be able to cope with “whatever happens.”

He ended with Matthew 5:43. Love our enemy. No matter what happens, while we were still enemies, Jesus came down to rescue us, His enemies. So we are to love our enemies because we were them before grace cam. The enemy is our mission field.

You’re never more like God than when you love your enemies, because you were one of the enemies God loved. Romans 5:10, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God. Your enemy is your mission field. The world of enemies was God’s mission field. God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son. …

To convert a sinner from his eternal doom is of far greater significance than the deliverance of an entire nation from temporal evil

His speaking of Godly Love after 47 minutes of darkness was a Light that was powerful and incisive. Imagine demonstrating that kind of love in this very dark world. It will stand out brightly.

Source


WHI-1260 | Consumerism, Pragmatism, & The Triumph of the Therapeutic

This week on the White Horse Inn we had the opportunity to talk with Notre Dame sociologist Christian Smith. He is the author of several books including Soul Searching and Souls in Transition. In his research Smith coined the phrase “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism” to describe the faith of most religious teens, and the religion he fears of their parents as well due to the failings of church leaders and parents to catechize and teach the doctrine of life in Christ.

Many churches in our day attempt to make their services relevant and entertaining in order to attract people in the marketplace of competing options. The focus often centers on practical lessons designed to help us cope with life’s problems. But what are the social and historic roots of this particular approach to ministry? Join us this week on the White Horse Inn as we discuss consumerism, pragmatism, and the therapeutic within the church.

GUEST QUOTE
“I think that the historical, cultural, and philosophical roots of moralistic therapeutic deism go way back, but I think for evangelicalism part of what it means to be an evangelical in the United States since WWII is not to be a fundamentalist. Yet, part of one’s identity in not being a fundamentalist is, you’re always pushing towards the ‘We’re not rigid. We’re not doctrinaire. We’re not closed minded.’ Which is good, but every good thing can be pushed in a problematic direction.
“In evangelicalism this has been pushed too far… in the direction of ‘We can be cool Christians and participate in the culture, just like everybody else, and it’s just fine.’ The ‘make Jesus cool kind of thing’… craving the affection of the American public. It’s almost a pathetic impulse to be respectable and to be relevant.”
– Christian Smith
TERM TO LEARN
Moralistic Therapeutic Deism
When Christian Smith and his fellow researchers with the National Study of Youth and Religion at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill took a close look at the religious beliefs held by American teenagers, they found that the faith held and described by most adolescents came down to something the researchers identified as “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.”
As described by Smith and his team, Moralistic Therapeutic Deism consists of beliefs like these: 1. “A god exists who created and ordered the world and watches over human life on earth.” 2. “God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions.” 3. “The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself.” 4. “God does not need to be particularly involved in one’s life except when God is needed to resolve a problem.” 5. “Good people go to heaven when they die.”
That, in sum, is the creed to which much adolescent faith can be reduced. After conducting more than 3,000 interviews with American adolescents, the researchers reported that, when it came to the most crucial questions of faith and beliefs, many adolescents responded with a shrug and “whatever.”
(R. Albert Mohler, Jr., “Moralistic Therapeutic Deism–the New American Religion,” The Christian Post, 18 April 2005. Read the entire article here.)

Read More


Obeying Old Testament Laws And Rituals

Q&A-chalkboard

Q. I’ve heard a few preachers say that as Christians, we must observe or maintain certain OT rituals, laws, feasts, etc.  I thought that with Christ’s death and sacrifice those were no longer necessary.  As born-again believers and Christians, are we to still observe Old Covenant and/or Old Testament laws & rituals?

continue reading


Where Was The Lord?

Q&A-chalkboard

Q. After Jesus rose from the dead, He stuck around the region for a full 40 days before His ascension to Heaven.  From what facts I can glean, He only appeared to His disciples on three occasions in that 6 week time-frame.  Where, and what was He doing in between visits?

continue reading


Is Israel The Bride?

Q&A-chalkboard

Q. Recently, I got hit with an interesting interpretation of the bride. This group of people believes that Israel is the bride, they are pre trib believers and they think that we go to heaven to rule there, but that the Lord comes to marry Israel and rule with them on the earth.  They had several Old Testament passages to support this view.  I brought up the book of Ruth and the typology of Joseph and his gentile bride. Beyond that I am kind of fuzzy on defending the church being the bride.  Can you help me with this?

continue reading


Understanding Amos 8-9

Q&A-chalkboard

Q. For some reason, Amos 8-9 keeps presenting itself to me. When I read these chapters, I’m not sure if they are history or prophecy.  Some of it sounds like history. And yet in a few places Amos uses the term “in that day”, a reference to the end times.  Is that the case here? Amos 8:9 speaks about the sun going down at noon and the earth being dark. Was this the crucifixion event or is it speaking of a time yet future? And the “time of mourning for an only son”. Is that future? The famine of the hearing of the words of the Lord – is that future or past?  Then in the latter part of Amos 9, it speaks of “raising up the fallen booth of David”. I see some partial fulfillment of Verses 11 – 15 today, but there are some things in these verses that seem to point to conditions present in the millennial period. Your thoughts would be greatly appreciated. continue reading


Dual Covenant Theology

Q&A-chalkboard

Q. I do not believe in Dual Covenant Theology.  Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me” John 14:6.  Messianic Jews are part of the church, so they are saved.  The scriptures also say that God has a covenant with the Jews and Israel.  Although the church age Jews have not acknowledged Jesus as their Savior and therefore are not saved, God has brought them back to the land of Israel.  Is it because, although they have not accepted Jesus, God will always keep his covenant with them as His people,  whether they believe in Jesus or not? continue reading


Building Israel’s Temple

Q&A-chalkboard

Q. I understand that in Bible prophecy, the 3rd temple has to be built before anti-Christ appears. Will the rapture takes place before the completion of the temple or after the completion? I saw in a website that the Temple Institute, an organization in charge of the rebuilding of the temple project in Israel, has already started building the 3rd temple.  Does it imply that the 3 1/2 years of peace for Israel is coming very soon, say perhaps between the year 2012 to 2015? continue reading


The Case For Eternal Punishment

punishment

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

“And they will go out and look upon the dead bodies of those who rebelled against me; their worm will not die, nor will their fire be quenched, and they will be loathsome to all mankind.” (Isaiah 66:24)

continue reading


Hate the Sin, Love the Sinner?


“My Last Day” — the Jesus Anime

9 powerful minutes of animation that begins with a thief behind bars watching the scourging of Jesus, and it ends with the thief dying next to Jesus, and waking to see Him in a beautiful place.

The dying thief: What was so great about his faith?

There are many acts of extraordinary faith in the Bible. The one that has impressed me the most concerns the dying thief on the cross. We could take the approach that he had nothing to lose, so he decided to cast his lot with Jesus. But this makes absolutely no sense of the text and the context.
In this conversion we have a specific fulfillment of Christ’s first words on the cross. No sooner had Christ spoken the words, “Father, forgive them,” had the Father answered that prayer by turning a once-reviling criminal into a Christ-glorifying saint. While the soon-to-be converted criminal was not directly responsible for Christ’s death, he nevertheless joined with those who were and was thus indirectly addressed when Christ asked for God to forgive “them.”
Christ, the sinless one, was numbered with or counted among the transgressors (Isa. 53:12; Luke 22:37), all of whom have a bigger problem than the day-to-day sins they commit. They hate Christ, the God-man. Anyone who has a master other than the Lord Jesus hates him (Lk. 16:13; Gal. 4:8). That these two criminals loathed him is clearly manifested during the crucifixion: “And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way” (Matt. 27:44).
When the criminal who was converted was doing his worst against Christ, Christ was doing his best for this criminal.
The conversion of the one criminal was most extraordinary and testifies to the power of Christ’s prayer and the grace of God. Why?
This criminal’s faith did not come at a time such as when Christ turned water into wine; or performed miracles, such as walking on water, opening the eyes of a blind man, or raising Lazarus from the dead. No! The criminal believed on the Messiah while he was hanging as one cursed upon a tree. The criminal trusted in and boldly defended the one whose disciples had abandoned him. Jesus was at his lowest when this criminal asked to be remembered in Christ’s kingdom.
When he was on the cross, did anyone publicly cry out, as John the Baptist did, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (Jn. 1:29)? But this is essentially what the dying thief did. Little wonder, then, that Christ should promise him a place in his kingdom: “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise” (Lk. 23:43).
The criminal acknowledged he was guilty; he acknowledged that Christ was not (“this man has done nothing wrong”); he feared God; but, and here is the key: the criminal did not merely want to be in a better place. He wanted to be with Christ in a better place: “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom” (Lk. 23:42). The criminal believed “against all hope”.
Heaven is a better place because that is where Christ is. Everyone wants to go to heaven, but not everyone wants to go to Christ’s heaven. Not so with this criminal: he saw, with his eyes, Christ at his worst; but with the eyes of faith, he believed that Christ would soon be at his best, and so put his faith in a dying king.
Christ is always – always! – willing to save even the most miserable of sinners. A recognition of guilt (Lk. 23:40) and a confidence in him and not ourselves (Lk. 23:42) will always lead to the most assuring truth a sinner can receive: the Savior welcomes such into his paradise!
“One is saved, and we may not despair; the other is lost, and we may not presume.” Spurgeon
Source


Remember the thief.

It can be a difficult situation if someone you are witnessing to asks about the fate of a loved one who died and was not a Christian. Simply say, “Only God knows the eternal destiny of the person, and the Scriptures assure us that He will do what is right. So we can take consolation from that.” Some may be tempted to say that the loved one went to hell, but the truth is that we don’t know what happened minutes before their death. Remember the thief on the cross.


Our Time is Short

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


Don’t be Left Behind

View two-minute video


Ready to start your new life with God?

Who do you think that I am?

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more


Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!

30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.

New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.

Jesus Booklet
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.

About Christianity
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed


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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

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