The Imminent Decline of Contemporary Worship Music: Eight Reasons
“Contemporary worship” to me is an oxymoron. Biblically, worship is what angels and morning stars did before creation; what Abraham, Moses and the Levites, and the many-tongued Jewish diaspora at Pentecost did. It is what the martyrs, now ascended, do, and what all believers since the apostles have done. More importantly, it is what we will do eternally; worship is essentially (not accidentally) eschatological. And nothing could celebrate the eschatological forever less than something that celebrates the contemporary now.
Video Whistleblower: Planned Parenthood Does Some Good In Addition to ‘Things Like Fetal Trafficking’
A vote to divert Planned Parenthood funding to community health centers and hospitals that do not perform abortions failed when Senate Democrats filibustered the legislation, although two of their colleagues voted with Republicans. “There would be absolutely no reduction in overall federal funding available to support women’s health,” said Senator Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) during a floor debate on the bill.
S.C. Church’s Stance On Homosexuality Challenged
Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, said the church’s claim not to have made a decision on homosexuality “is theologically, biblically, morally and even logically incoherent. The church certainly did make a decision regarding homosexuality.” Mohler wrote in a blog post that SBC moderates’ refusal to affirm the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy in the late 20th century set the stage for actions like that of First Baptist years later.
Missions Without Discipleship Is Tourism
Short-term teams, mercy ministries and missions supporters must help to refocus our missions efforts so the lost are directed into the disciple making process. These other aspects of missions are valuable in demonstrating God’s grace and mercy to the lost. Frequently, the lost can be directed to Christ through short-term or mercy ministry work. But, the long, arduous task to teach and train believers occurs in the one-on-one or small group settings of discipleship.
‘Conflict of Rights’: Christian University Takes Battle For Law School to B.C. Supreme Court
The cases pit religious freedoms against same-sex equality rights, with each side arguing discrimination. Boonstra said Trinity’s covenant is central to the private university’s identity as an evangelical Christian institution. It enrols about 4,000 students annually. They are not screened for sexual orientation but must abide by the code of conduct. It asks students to make a choice. If they come, they should understand what being part of an evangelical Christian educational institution is about, to make sure they understand what they are getting into.”
Why Aren’t Calvinists Pacifists?
I am a Reformed evangelical Christian, and I am not a pacifist. I do not see a consistent pacifist requirement in Scripture, especially for rulers and governments. But Reformed Christians could use more skepticism about the wisdom and value of war, and about the aims of the nation in which they live.
Who Am I?
I am so grateful I have not been left to my own wisdom to understand who I am and who we are as human beings. What conflicting ideas exist among us! Thankfully, God’s Word makes sense of what would otherwise be senseless and random….the Word is robust enough to give clarity amidst the complexity.
A Review: ‘Perspectives On The Extent Of The Atonement: Three Views’
Carl Trueman defends “Definite Atonement,” arguing that Christ died with the intention of saving his elect. His essay consists of two primary planks: 1) The Particularity of Intention in Christ’s Saving Mission, and 2) The Objective Efficacy of Christ’s Work…. Grant Osborne defends the “General Atonement” view in a series of steps that Christ died for everyone, even those who perish…. John Hammett’s essay is defending the “Multiple-Intentions ” view…that God intended in the death of Christ 1) to put him forth as the substitute for all humanity in order to provide forgiveness of sins for all (God’s “universal” intention); 2) to secure the salvation of some (God’s “particular” intention); and 3) to reconcile all things to himself (God’s “cosmic” intention).
China Honours Christian Missionary And Olympic Athlete Eric Liddell
The British educated athlete who was nicknamed ‘the flying Scotsman’ and born in Tianjin, returned to China in 1925 to serve as a missionary teacher, where he mostly remained until his death in 1945, in a Japanese civilian internment camp. On Monday, the marble sculpture of Liddell, captured in mid-stride, was unveiled in Tianjin…
Texas Man Proposes to Another Man in “Church” Despite United Methodist Ban on Same-Sex “Marriage”
Christian News Networkreports:
A Texas man recently proposed to his so-called boyfriend during the Sunday morning service at their “church” despite the United Methodist Church’s ban on same-sex “marriage.”
Trevor Harper, 36, recently posted a video of the event on YouTube to show that his congregation is accepting and approving of homosexuals.
Harper has been in a relationship with Davis Covin, 30, since 2006, and both have been attending the First United Methodist Church of Austin for the past two years.
Recently, both men were invited to share their “faith story” during the Sunday service, during which time Harper told those gathered that he was appreciative of the congregation’s approval of homosexual relationships.
Sex-Selection Services in Demand at U.S. Fertility Clinics
Fertility Institutes, a network known for sex selection services in Los Angeles, New York, and Mexico City, says nearly 90 percent of its clients have no medical fertility issues, but instead come from the U.S. and abroad to ensure their next child’s gender, The Wall Street Journal reported. For about $18,000, the clinic offers parents a 99.99 percent guarantee of their chosen gender and evaluation of all 46 chromosomes in the embryo for genetic disease.
Three American Heroes On French Train Are Strong Christians
Sadler is the son of a Baptist pastor in Sacramento, California. All three young men were childhood friends who attended California’s Freedom Christian School together and regularly played military games in their youth, according to the Gospel Herald…. Pastor Anthony Sadler, who ministers in Sacramento’s Oak Park neighborhood, told reporters that he believes his son and his friends were used by God to disrupt what could have been an awful tragedy.
Augustines For The 21st Century
“Today,” Hiestand and Wilson write, “we find ourselves in a context where to be a theologian is, almost by definition, to be a professor in the academy. And to be a pastor is, almost by definition, to be anything but a theologian.” Most pastors act as “passive conveyors of insights from theologians to laity. A little quote from Augustine here, a brief allusion to Bonhoeffer there. That’s all.”
I’m Sick Of Your Moral Relativism
“For those still clinging to their pro-choice flag, willingly ignorant of science, please know: Your moral relativism is nauseating in its consequences, annoying in its logical fallacies, and disgusting in its devastating effects on political and cultural debate.”
Is There Any Actual Demand for Same-Sex Marriage?
“Same-sex marriage became the law of the land without anything close to proportional demand by homosexuals to actually marry someone of the same sex. There are likely many more polyamorists who would be interested in getting married than same-sex couples. Indeed, when polygamy is legalized (an issue we’ll consider in a future article), the number will likely be double or triple the number of two-person same-sex marriages.”
The Prosperity Gospel Creates Poor Christians
“Name it; Claim it!” is their mantra. And the number of goodies God doles out—whether in the form of a lucrative job, an increased bank account or even physical healing—depends entirely upon your faith (sometimes shown by how much you’re willing to give first).
Researchers Who Provided Key Evidence For Gluten Sensitivity Have Now Thoroughly Shown That It Doesn’t Exist
“Gluten is a protein composite found in wheat, barley, and other grains. It gives bread its chewiness and is often used as a meat substitute. If you’ve ever had “wheat meat,” seitan, or mock duck at a Thai restaurant, that’s gluten.”
“Millions of Christian men, baby boomers they call us, are facing the last 1/4 of life and if we’re not careful, we’ll end up like so many, simply killing time pleasantly in warm places.”
The Silence of the Sheep – Why Is The UK Church Quiet About Abortion and Planned Parenthood?
“What about the Church? In the US there have been many Christian commentators who, appalled by the videos, have not been slow to comment. But in the UK the silence has been almost deafening – apart from the Catholic Church and various campaign groups. But what about the rest of us – especially the evangelical church?”
Reports: Pope blesses lesbian authors for their “excellent Christian values”
From Berean Research:
Photo via annapisapia.blogspot.com
Pope Francis has reportedly pronounced two “married” women fruitful, with excellent Christian values.
Lesbian author Francesca Pardi, who writes and publishes books such as “Why you have two mummies“, wrote to Pope Francis after the publishing company she runs with her wife came under fire from Christian groups.
“The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” — Acts 17:10-11
Watch the brief video below as John MacArthur explains what it means to be like the noble Bereans we find in the book of Acts.
Calgary bus driver will quit job if forced to take the wheel of rainbow Pride bus
“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2 (KJV)
We live in a day and age where Christians no longer stand on Biblical truths and compromise, but not Jesse Rau from Canada. He is a Calgary bus driver who refused to drive his bus when his company had it decorated in LGBT rainbow pride colors. Lose a job because it violates your Christian faith? Yes, that is exactly the type of stance the Bible calls us to make in these last days.
Stay strong, brother, the Lord will provide a better job for you. We salute your courageous stance and dearly hope it inspires Christians all across America to do likewise.
“I’m a Christian so, as a Christian, there are things like homosexuality that I just can’t condone,” Rau told The Canadian Press. “Unfortunately, we live in a culture where if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, the accusation is that you hate the person.”
Rau said he has a family to support (and his young child can in fact be seen in a CTV Calgary report) and is concerned about being out of work.
However he said “If I’m asked to compromise in such a big way for what I believe to be right, yes of course I have to lose my job, there’s nothing else that I can do,” Rau told CTV Calgary. “I’m put in a corner.”
A Calgary Transit spokesperson said drivers can refuse to drive based on safety issues, but that’s about it.
What happens when you die?
As I talk with people all over the world, I find that the fear of death is a prominent fear for many people. To help you to better understand the passage from life to death to eternal life, I have invited my good friend Dr. Erwin Lutzer, pastor of Moody Memorial Church, to update our popular series “What Will Happen to You One Minute After You Die?” In this week’s program, we attempt to peek behind the curtain of death to see what happens at the point of transition from life, to death, to heaven. In the coming weeks, we will also tackle tough subjects such as what the Bible teaches about the death of infants, suicide, and assurance of salvation. To watch this week’s program right now, CLICK HERE.
Every one of us as Christians at times has felt overwhelmed or all alone. In the midst of trials and tribulations, we cry out to God to protect and rescue us. And we know He is faithful–but sometimes we wish he acted on our timeline instead of His. King David’s life reflected the best of […]
The post Where Are You God? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
America was founded upon Judeo-Christian Law, recognizing that all rights come from God alone, and that we were totally dependent on God. Growing up as a child these beliefs were often reflected in the television and movies we watched, and within society as a whole. These days some of the most popular television shows and […]
The post A “Christian Nation” Turned Pagan? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
On Stand Up For the Truth we cover a lot of issues and challenges facing us as Christians. But perhaps the greatest challenge we face in the world today is sharing the gospel of salvation and hope with those who are on a path to eternal destruction. In Luke 19:10 Jesus states that he came […]
The post Our Greatest Challenge appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
It says so on every U.S. paper currency: “In God We Trust”. Well, some experts are warning that we might be facing an opportunity to put our money where our mouth is on that statement. World Stock Markets closed down significantly last week and the early indications this morning is another bad day for the […]
The post In God We Trust–Or Do We? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
10 Bible verses about anger
Anger is often considered an ‘unholy’ emotion, and one that Christians should avoid. Of course, we need to keep it in check, but righteous anger is repeatedly referenced throughout scripture. Here are 10 verses to show what the Bible has to say about it.
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Persecuted Christians who deny Christ: What we can learn from the Fathers
How far should Christians go in order to save their lives?
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‘War Room’ anticipated Hollywood shocker; leads ALL movies in ticket sales so far
The faith-based film War Room led every film in advance ticket sales Thursday on Fandango.com and MovieTickets.com, an extremely rare achievement for a Christian film. In fact, War Room also led Fandango.com ticket sales on Tuesday and Wednesday.
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I had quite the busy and interesting weekend. I wrote an article that was posted in the Green Bay Press Gazette Faith Perspective column on Friday and it stirred a lot of discussion. The article I wrote had the original title of “Salvation—A Free Gift and What it Costs Us”. But the editor changed the […]
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In Galatians 1:6, Paul says: “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all! Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. Is […]
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The greatest military leaders are ones who can see beyond the current battle conditions and take a strategic look at what the enemy is up to. They understand that deception is a big part of warfare and that enemies often try to lull their opponents into a false sense of security as they lay a […]
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I have prayed about it at length and I believe the Lord wants me to attend the open house at the Muslim Mosque in Green Bay tomorrow, so I will be attending. I want to share with you why I believe God wants me to attend. These days there are a lot of confusing messages […]
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The recent uproar and reaction to Ckick-Fil-A President Dan Cathey’s proclamation in the belief of biblical marriage as defined by God is fascinating to watch on many fronts. As in all circumstances, it is important we take a step back and see the big picture of what is going on here? Is it an attack […]
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Tim Challies challenges us to consider if we can know doctrine, yet fail to love God completely: “Have you ever considered how books of the Bible would be changed if God had left out their final chapter? Matthew without chapter 28 would leave us as Christians without a Great Commission. Ruth without chapter 4 would never […]
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Ever been to a Benny Hinn event? Well, I have no desire to go near one, but here is the perspective of a lady who was curious about what it would be like: “There are a lot of things you should try at least once in your life — skydiving, eating some exotic delicacy, traveling […]
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Trump endlessly talks about the Bible but it’s obvious that his faith and ethics are based on anything but a proper reading of Scripture. Trump and the emergents share the same bible- the one above.
Necessity itself and the good estate of the people of God requires, that the naughty ministers of churches be deposed. And better it were that a few evil ministers were troubled, than so many congregations brought into danger of body and soul. For the churches and congregations are utterly destroyed through the negligence and ungodliness of wicked pastors. Therefore let them be deposed with speed. – Heinrich Bullinger
READING: Ezekiel 9-12
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: God is not limited to a place. That truth matters.
Ezekiel 11:14-20 is God’s promise to His exiled people that He would not forever abandon them. He had sent them into exile under judgment, thus reminding them and the nations that He alone is Yahweh (Ezek. 11:10-12). He in His sovereign plan scattered them among the nations — far from the city of Jerusalem — and yet He would be their sanctuary wherever they were.
Ezek. 11:16 Therefore say: This is what the Lord God says: “Though I sent them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries, yet for a little while I have been a sanctuary for them in the countries where they have gone.”
In the distant lands, some would recognize their evil and turn back to Him. They would learn there that they need not be in Jerusalem to worship the God who is not limited to a city or a building. He would then gather them back to the land, radically changing them by giving them a new spirit and a heart of flesh (Ezek. 11:17-20).
God alone is our refuge, our sanctuary. Regardless of where we are, He is there. Indeed, in a miracle that is more clearly evidenced in the New Testament, He lives within us through His Spirit. We can worship Him in Spirit and truth (John 4:21-24) wherever we are because He is there.
Maybe today you feel like you are in exile somewhere. You pray, but you wonder if God hears. Perhaps you’re paying a price for your past sin, bearing the consequences of your wrong. Or, maybe you’ve been faithful to Him but still long for days gone by. No matter where you are today, Yahweh can be your sanctuary. He is not limited to where you were yesterday.
PRAYER: “Thank You, God, for being a refuge wherever we are. I’m grateful that You’re not limited to a place. When I’m lonely or hurting or suffering consequences for my wrong, turn my heart to You. Be a sanctuary to me today.”
TOMORROW’S READING: Ezekiel 13-15
READING: Ezekiel 13-15
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: I must confess that I do not often pause to think about why God brings judgment on people. I can talk about theological reasons, but I usually do that only when my context or my teaching assignment requires it. I have been struck, however, by how many times I read something like, “and they will know that I am the Lord [or Yahweh]” in the book of Ezekiel — particularly because this wording is so often tied to God’s judgment on sinful people.
Similar wording occurs more than 50 times in this book, several times in today’s reading:
1. God would bring judgment on false prophets, and “Then you will know that I am the Lord Yahweh” (Ezek. 13:9b).
2. The city of Jerusalem would fall, and “then you will know that I am Yahweh” (Ezek. 13:14b)
3. God would judge the women who practice magic, and “Then you will know that I am Yahweh” (Ezek. 13:21b).
4. God would bring justice on idolatrous elders, and “Then you will know that I am Yahweh” (Ezek. 14:8).
5. God would punish the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and “And you will know that I am Yahweh when I turn against them” (Ezek. 15:7).
It’s really simple: God makes Himself known as the righteous One, the One who keeps His Word, the Sovereign One when He brings judgment — including judgment on a people who know better. His goal is still, though, to make Himself known and to draw His people to Himself. Thus, God may use me to make Himself known through my living righteously and sharing the gospel, or He may choose to make Himself known through judgment if I do not follow Him faithfully.
I choose the former way — but I need His daily, moment-by-moment grace to do so.
PRAYER: “God, as we gather with Your people today, please make us holy people whose lives and words announce You. Make us long for You in such a way that we do not become objects of Your judgment.”
I realise that this might come as news to some of you, but I am human being as well – I have flesh and bone, and I even have feelings like all the rest. So I too can be hurt and wounded. And it happens quite often actually. But that is part of living on planet earth.
A rather jaundiced view of things might say that life is pretty good, if it weren’t for other people! But other folks are who we deal with every day. And sometimes they shaft you and anger you and abuse you. That is life, and it is not always easy, but that is how it goes.
Indeed, we expect to be used, abused and misused by non-Christians. The worrying bit is that we so often get such lousy treatment from fellow Christians. We get other believers attacking us, criticising us, gossiping about us, maligning us, and betraying us.
And guess what? It hurts like hell, especially when it comes from those who were close and trusted friends or allies. But believe me, if you are a Christian, and especially if you are involved in any sort of leadership, you will get all sorts of abuse from other Christians.
Many will reject you and even betray you. It stinks. But it is sadly part of life in a fallen world. We expect better things from those who claim to be God’s people, but we all are fallen and finite, and we all are less than what we are supposed to be.
So how should we respond? Perhaps it is best to first ask how not to respond. The obvious and natural response is evident: bitterness, anger, unforgiveness, resentment, withdrawal, and so on. This is how we tend to react. Indeed, some believers will be so bummed out by the treatment they get that they will even give up on the Christina life altogether.
While all such reactions may be understandable, they are not biblical. So if that is what we should not do, what then should we do? The first thing is to expect that these sorts of things are going to happen. I know, it should not be happening, but I guarantee you, it will.
Friends and colleagues will dump on you. They will desert you. They will betray you. Sadly, you must count on that. Sure, it hurts like all get out, but it will happen. So don’t be surprised when it occurs. If anything, be surprised that it does not happen more often!
And be even more thankful for those friends and associated who have stood strong with you. Not all are deserters and false friends. But as to those who have been so very hard on us, we are called to something better than resentment or retaliation.
As difficult as it is, we must at least seek to pray for those who have hurt us and betrayed us. We must be willing to forgive and even forget. And where possible, we should seek to keep our bridges open. It is so very tempting to burn your bridges with these folks: “I won’t have anything more to do with that jerk”.
I understand the sentiment, but it is not good counsel. There have been so many times when I have been hurt or attacked or betrayed, but I have sought to keep open the possibility of restoration, and sometimes (certainly not always), months or years later, the relationship is repaired.
Sometimes the person will even ask for forgiveness (a great bonus) but sometimes they may just want to overlook their past transgressions. Well, we must try to as well. Biblical love demands that of us. Christian love “keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Sure, sometimes there are wise reasons to move on from certain people, and there is no value in seeking to restore every former friendship, alliance or partnership. So a bit of wisdom is needed here. But being open to forgive and love your enemies anyway is always on the table.
But surely the best way to deal with all this is to look at one person who knows more about this than any of us ever will. Jesus of course experienced way more betrayal, backstabbing, desertion and rejection then any of us will ever come close to.
He was rejected by his own people. By the religious leaders. Even by his own beloved disciples. Imagines pouring your life into a group of people for three years, only to find they have all turned on you, even betrayed you. Yet he loved the twelve to the end, despite all this.
Worse yet, he even knew beforehand of such betrayal. Indeed, a thousand years earlier messianic psalms were describing this, as in Psalm 41:9: “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
Jesus appealed to this verse in John 13:18: “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me’.” And recall the description of Jesus the Suffering Servant as found in Isaiah 53. Verse 3 says this:
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
He knew all about rejection. And recall the culmination of all this rejection and hatred, when Jesus was hanging on the cross. He could have pronounced a curse of destruction on the whole lousy lot of them, but instead prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”
Unlike all of us, who so often deserve what we get from others, Jesus deserved none of it. He was the perfect, loving, gracious Son of God who could do no wrong, yet his own still shafted him. It is a good thing he did not respond as most of us respond.
So he is our model here. He is our example. He showed us the way forward. He demonstrated for us how we are to respond to our enemies, our betrayers, our attackers. So look to Jesus on how to react when the haters come and the betrayers do their worst
I certainly have to keep learning this. I still hurt from things done to me ages ago. But real Christianity is being Christlike in times when that is the hardest thing to do – or to even want to do. So please keep standing strong. Don’t renounce the faith. Don’t pull into a shell. Don’t be corrupted by bitterness and a refusal to forgive.
Instead, move on, with the help and grace of God.
This week on the White Horse Inn we are continuing our series on sustainable church discipleship. In this special edition of the White Horse Inn, Michael Horton and Rod Rosenbladt speak before a live audience and discuss the relationship between faith and experience in the Christian life.
What is a legitimate experience of God? Should we look for a feeling of divine presence and overwhelming joy? What happens when we focus more on the experience of faith than the object of faith? Are we more interested in the practical application of Christianity than we are in truly understanding the Christianity that is to be applied? What are the dangers of this kind of approach to the Christian life? Join us this week on the White Horse Inn as we delve into this important topic of faith and experience.
Dear Lighthouse Trails: You list Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI, as being contemplative, formation. Please give me evidence, examples of this, also any emergent info, too on them. ASAP, please. Our Response: Finding evidence and examples to show Calvin College’s contemplative/emergent persuasions is NOT like finding a needle in a haystack. This college is saturated […]
The antidote for the self-justification and the self-sovereignty driving envy is rootedness in justification by faith and the supremacy of Christ. Like all other sins, envy is fundamentally a sin of pride, and the only way to kill pride is to confess our sin, repent of it, and believe in the forgiveness given to us by God’s free grace in Jesus.
Flashing back to Genesis 4, why do you think Abel’s sacrifice was accepted and Cain’s was not. Did God just like Abel better? Did Abel know the right religious words or jump through the right religious hoops?
No, Abel’s sacrifice was accepted first because it was the sort of offering God had commanded, but also because his offering of sacrificed livestock best reflected the stakes of making us right with God. After the fall, one of the first things Adam and Eve did to cover their shame was clothe themselves with plants. But they had brought death into the world and bloodshed; only bloodshed could cover their shame. So God replaced their leafy garments with animal skins. This is how serious sin is; this is how serious envy is. Something has to die. “[W]ithout the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Hebrews 9:22).
God required an offering and Abel brought real sacrifices. Cain brought the fruit of his hard work. We cannot and will not satisfy the debt of envy through the fruit of our hard work any more than Cain could. If we want to kill envy, it will take death.
Thanks be to God, then, that Jesus offers himself as the acceptable sacrifice. The fruit of his hard work culminates with his substitutionary death, taking our place, covering our shame, killing our sin.
In one of the great glorious ironies of the gospel, it is envy for what Jesus has that drives us to betray him and nail him to the cross, but in his crucifixion he is gladly, willingly, humbly, and freely giving us everything he’s got. No one is more generous than Jesus. We need not envy him or anyone else; his unclenched hand freely gives us all things! So says Paul:
He did not even spare His own Son,
but offered Him up for us all;
how will He not also with Him grant us everything?
So, then, envy is not only spiritual suicide, it is spiritual nonsense! Not one of us can add an ounce of satisfaction through a pound of envy. But in the free gift of eternal life there is eternal fulfillment.
The final and best way to assassinate envy, therefore, is to park ourselves at the foot of the cross early and often. Rather than constantly fooling with envy’s sideways glance, we ought to be “keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Look at him and his glory, and you will find rest.
—from Jared C. Wilson, 7 Daily Sins: How the Gospel Redeems Our Deepest Desires
In high school, Dylan was a natural leader, voted Most Valuable Player on his football team. Everyone expected him to succeed. But when he went to college, Dylan’s Christian convictions were assailed by doubts in virtually every class.
In his science classes, Darwinian naturalism was an unquestioned assumption. In English class, a postmodern attitude treated all truth claims as disguised power plays. In psychology, the prevailing theories — from Freud’s psychoanalysis to Skinner’s behaviorism — treated Christianity as a symptom of mental pathology.
Dylan’s church had taught the basic gospel message, but it had not equipped him to meet the challenges of the university classroom. Deeply shaken, he dropped out of college and began to rethink whether Christianity was even true. Dylan eventually found his way to L’Abri, the ministry of Francis Schaeffer in Switzerland. There he finally met Christians who could teach him to “destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
How can the church be more effective in equipping young people to keep the faith when they leave home?
Why Young Adults Reject Faith
Research shows that Dylan is not alone. When studies asked young people why they left the religion in which they were raised, the reason given most often was unanswered doubts and questions. The researchers were surprised — they expected to hear stories of emotional wounding and broken relationships. But the top response from young adults themselves was that they did not get answers to their questions.
But learning to respond to every competing worldview would take a lifetime of study. Do we have to memorize a different argument for every “ism”? The exciting answer is that the Bible itself offers a single, universal strategy we can apply to all systems of thought. The key passage is Romans 1. We could even call it Paul’s apologetics training manual.
In this chapter, Paul unfolds the drama of divine-human interaction that is the source of all belief systems. The great plot line of history is the tug of war between God and humanity. On one hand, God reaches out to humanity to make himself known. On the other hand, humans desperately seek to suppress that knowledge by creating God-substitutes.
The Romans 1 narrative provides the theological grounding for all apologetics. All arguments fall into two basic categories:
- We test a philosophy externally to see if it matches the real world.
- We test it internally for logical consistency.
What makes Romans 1 unique is that it explains why these tests work — and provides a strategy for how to apply them.
The Real World Test
Romans 1 teaches that those who reject the transcendent Creator will “exchange the glory of God” (Romans 1:23, 25) for something in creation. They create idols. An idol can be defined as anything put in the place of God as the ultimate reality.
The prevailing philosophy in the academic world today is materialism, which puts matter in the role of God. Matter is considered the eternal, uncreated, self-existent source of everything else — a God-substitute. The secular thinkers (Darwin, Freud, Foucault) that Dylan studied in the classroom were all materialists.
To be consistent, materialism must deny the reality of anything not material. Humans are reduced to complex biochemical machines, robots with no will, mind, soul, or spirit. Richard Dawkins says humans are “survival machines — robot vehicles blindly programmed” by their genes.
But such a simplistic, one-dimensional view does not line up with what we all know about human nature. No one lives like a robot. We make choices from the moment we wake up in the morning. One philosopher jokes that if people deny such free choice, then when ordering at a restaurant they should say, “Just bring me whatever the laws of nature have determined that I will get.”
You don’t have to be a Christian to recognize that materialism does not fit what we know about human nature. Any philosophy that exchanges the glory of God for something in creation will also exchange the image of God for something in creation. Because it starts with something lower than God, it always leads to a lower view of humanity.
This is called reductionism, which means it reduces humans to something less than their full humanity. Materialism fails the first test because it does not match human nature as we experience it.
The Logic Test
We can also be confident that every non-biblical worldview will fail the second test. Why? Because a reductionist view of humanity must include the mind or cognitive faculties. It reduces reason to something less than reason. Yet how does it support its own case? It has to use reason — logical arguments. So when it discredits reason, it undercuts its own case. It is self-refuting.
Materialism reduces thinking to neurons firing in the brain. For the materialist, humans don’t believe something because we are rationally persuaded of its truth, but because of neuronal patterns in our gray matter.
But what does that imply for materialists’ own views? To be consistent, they must apply the same reasoning to themselves: Their own materialism is not a product of rational thought, but of neurons firing in their brains. In that case, why should the rest of us give it any credence? As apologist Greg Koukl puts it, this is how a worldview “commits suicide.” When its own definition of truth is applied to itself, it discredits itself.
This is called self-referential absurdity and the Romans 1 approach tells you why it works and how to apply it to any worldview. Find the reductionism: That’s the point where it will commit suicide.
The Romans 1 narrative provides the theological rationale for all apologetics arguments. The good news for young people like Dylan is that the biblical strategy can be applied universally. No more memorizing different arguments for each theory. We can be confident that Romans 1 applies to all of them.
Nancy Pearcey describes additional biblical principles from Romans 1 in Finding Truth: 5 Principles for Unmasking Atheism, Secularism & Other God Substitutes.
By Roger Oakland In an article titled “Christ-Followers in India Flourishing Outside the Church,” the following statement is made regarding the research of Herbert Hoefer, author of Churchless Christianity: In striking research undertaken in the mid-eighties and published in 1991, Herbert E. Hoefer found that the people of Madras City are far closer to historic […]
Evaluating Beth Moore’s Upcoming Live Simulcast
Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries challenges her readers to put on their thinking caps as they evaluate material LifeWay released to promote Beth Moore’s upcoming simulcast. Are there any red flags?
I have decided to take another break from my series about submitting in everything to write about something that is time sensitive. It is in regards to the upcoming Living Proof Live Simulcast that is scheduled for September 12, 2015. Beth Moore promises an audacious message. The theme for this year’s simulcast is connected to her new book Audacious.
The following is from the FAQ on LifeWay Christian Resources’ website regarding Audacious.
What is Audacious?
“Audacious is the newest book written by Beth Moore. She wrote it specifically thinking of YOU, the simulcast audience! Audacious is an exclusive pre-release for simulcast participants! This is the very first time we have had a book that was connected to the message of her simulcast. We are thrilled to offer participants the opportunity to gain exclusive access to the book before the public release.”
Sex-Selection Services in Demand at U.S. Fertility Clinics
According to Christian Headlines:
More healthy couples are using U.S. fertility clinics to help them with something other than conception struggles: guaranteeing their baby’s gender.
A growing number of clinics in the United States now offer a controversial service called “family balancing” or “nonmedical sex selection.” Fertility Institutes, a network known for sex selection services in Los Angeles, New York, and Mexico City, says nearly 90 percent of its clients have no medical fertility issues, but instead come from the U.S. and abroad to ensure their next child’s gender, The Wall Street Journal reported. For about $18,000, the clinic offers parents a 99.99 percent guarantee of their chosen gender and evaluation of all 46 chromosomes in the embryo for genetic disease.
- Phil Johnson tweeted about this not-yet-released book on MLJ and now it’s in my Amazon shopping cart.
- For the person who has everything…nubrella.
- You know me, I don’t agree with much of what comes out of TGC, but I did appreciate some of the content of this article discussing the dangers of women in the church merely turning into clones. Stepford Wives, anyone?
- There’s still plenty of strange fire to go around, and Lyndon Unger joins the conversation.
- Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
- This recent sermon from Don Green is a must listen.
- The latest on Tullian Tchividjian is, sadly, not all that surprising.
- The killer of all spiritual life:
On weekends we often highlight resources for your life and ministry. Today we highlight a resource from Justin and Lindsey Holcomb: 9 Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse. The resource is part of their new book, God Made All of Me. Continue reading
Post by Jeff Robinson.
For many years before surrendering to vocational ministry, I was a conservative evangelical Christian whom God had called to work in the dog-eat-dog world of secular media. While working for a metropolitan daily newspaper in Georgia, one of my ultra-liberal colleagues was teasing me about being a conservative “boy” from a small town in the sticks of North Georgia. She said, “You know what you are? You’re a Puritan!” At the time, I didn’t really know what to make of it. Today, I see it as a high compliment. Perhaps someday.
In my pre-ministry days, I knew little about the Puritans other than were present at the first Thanksgiving, that they seemed to have a fetish for stove-pipe hats, belt buckles, knickers, and puffy shirts adorned with collars that looked like sunflowers. In the minds of many, Puritanism equals scrupulous rules keeping, dour Christianity, or as the inimitable American journalist H. L. Mencken once quipped “Puritanism is the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.”
Over the past few decades, thanks in large part to the publishing efforts of Iain Murray at Banner of Truth and the advocacy of Martyn-Lloyd Jones, the English and American Puritans have made a strong comeback among Reformed evangelicals. During my years in seminary, I fell in love with the Puritans. Now, I delight in teaching about the Puritans and during my time as pastor, men like John Bunyan, Thomas Watson, and John Owen were my pastors through their incredible works. Though dead, they certainly still speak.
We Need the Puritans: Eight Reasons
In the age of iPhones and Twitter, we need the Puritans more than ever and here are eight reasons why:
1. Because they were mature and we are not. J. I. Packer hits the mark here: “Maturity is a compound of wisdom, goodwill, resilience, and creativity. The Puritans exemplified maturity; we don’t. We are spiritual dwarfs. A much-travelled leader, a native American (be it said), has declared that he finds North American Protestantism, man-centered, manipulative, success-oriented, self-indulgent and sentimental, as it blatantly is, to be 3,000 miles wide and half an inch deep. The Puritans, by contrast, as a body were giants. They were great souls serving a great God.” Oh, how we need that. Would anyone deny that modern evangelicalism is 3,000 miles wide and a half-inch deep?
2. Because they understood the deep sinfulness of the human heart. John Owen (1616-1683) called the human heart a hornet’s nest of evil. He wrote the most famous treatment of sin among the Puritans, The Mortification of Sin, on sin that remains and must be killed in the life of the believer. Because they understood the depravity of the human heart, the Puritans realized that only a unilateral work of sovereign grace could rescue fallen man. Thus, their keen understanding of the deadness of the human heart led them to plant their feet firmly upon a theology of grace as the only catalyst to bring dead hearts out of the grave.
3. Because they knew their best life was later. The Puritans suffered long, but they suffered well. Death was a constant companion for the Puritans of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. In England, they faced deadly persecution at the hands of the Church of England, the very church they sought to purify. In the New World, they faced a physical climate that was as harsh then as it is congenial in 2015. Writes Packer:
“Ease and luxury, such as our affluence brings us today, do not make for maturity; hardship and struggle, however, do, and the Puritans’ battles against the spiritual and climatic wilderness in which God set them produced a virility of character, undaunted and unsinkable, rising above discouragement and fears, for which the true precedents and models are men like Moses, and Nehemiah, and Peter after Pentecost, and the apostle Paul.”
4. Because they viewed the family as a little church. Puritan fathers were deeply committed to catechizing their children and serving as shepherds in their homes. One of the great needs of our day is for God to raise up an army of brave-hearted husbands/fathers who will love their families by teaching them the Word of God, by modeling biblical headship and churchmanship for them. I have written more extensively on the Puritans and family discipleship here.
5. Because they saw all of life as being lived coram deo—before the face of God. For the Puritans in old England and new, there was no sacred/secular divide. If they worked as plumbers, the calling was to plumb to the glory of God. If they farmed, they sowed and reaped in dependence upon God. The Puritans knew vividly that God is omnipresent, that there is not one square inch in all creation where he is not present or where he is not interested in radiating forth his glory. Hard work was for the Puritans a central part of Christian living and what we call the Protestant Work Ethic is a gift passed down from them.
6. Because they were highly-decorated soldiers on the spiritual battlefield. They viewed spiritual conflict as central to the Christian’s calling. As Packer memorably puts it, “They never expected to advance a step without some sort of opposition.” This is evident in John Bunyan’s classic allegory Pilgrim’s Progress, where every stretch along the path to the Celestial City is filled with fighting without, fears within. In an age of prosperity Christianity, we need desperately to see this reality today. Ask anyone who has ever pastored a church and they will agree. Wrote John Geree (c. 1601-1649), in The Character of an Old English Puritane or Nonconformist: “His whole life he accounted a warfare, wherein Christ was his captain, his arms, praiers and tears. The Crosse his Banner and his [motto]: he who suffers conquers.” William Gurnall (1617-1679) penned what endures as the best books on spiritual warfare called The Christian in Complete Armour.
7. Because they were skilled physicians of souls. Long before our dear brothers Jay Adams and David Powlison pioneered a movement, the Puritans excelled in biblical counseling. They saw God’s Word as sufficient for the Christian’s every need, including counsel. Writes Tim Keller, “Clearly, the Puritans rested their counseling approach on Scripture. In many ways the Puritans are an excellent laboratory for studying biblical counseling, because they are not influenced by any secular models of psychology. Many of those today claiming to be strictly biblical in their counseling approach still evidence the heavy influence of Maslow or Rogers or Skinner or Ellis. But the Puritans had the field of ‘the cure of souls’ virtually to themselves; they had no secular competition in the area of counseling. Thus we need to consider very seriously their counseling models.”
8. Because they understood contentment in Christ as the key to genuine happiness. Christ was enough for them. He had to be; with no modern medicine and at times precious little food available, life expectancy was around thirty, particularly in the early colonial experience. If a family had four children, two would die in child birth. Roughly half of the mothers died during child birth. There was no aspirin, no penicillin, no surgery. Economic hardship was a reality for virtually all of them with the exception of merchant princes and landed gentry. Christ was all for them and they wrote often of contentment. Among the best works ever written on this topic, in my opinion, was The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs and The Art of Divine Contentment by Thomas Watson.
Read the Puritans
John Piper and his ministry have been shaped by a close, careful, decades-long engagement with the Puritans. Piper nails it as to why we need the Puritans:
“My own experience is that no one comes close to the skill they have in taking the razor-like scalpel of Scripture, and lancing the boils of my corruption, cutting out the cancers of my God-belittling habits of mind, and amputating the limbs of my disobedience. They are simply in a class by themselves.”
Amen. Go, and read the Puritans.
A brief annotated bibliography
About the Puritans
J. I. Packer, A Quest for Godliness: The Puritan Vision of the Christian Life (Crossway, 1990). Simply the best book I have ever read about the Puritans, their theology, and its application to everyday life. If you love the Bible and good theology, this book will delight your soul.
Leland Ryken, Worldly Saints: The Puritans as They Really Were (Zondervan, 1986). An excellent survey of the Puritans, the good, the bad and the ugly about them. Well-written and a pleasure to read. You may find yourself laughing at times as Ryken points out some of the Puritans’ foibles and excesses.
Joel R. Beeke and Randall J. Pederson, Meet the Puritans (Reformation Heritage, 2013). Contains a guide to modern reprints. Contains brief sketches of the life, ministry, and writings of hundreds of Puritan ministers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Joel R. Beeke and Mark Jones, Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life (Reformation Heritage, 2013). A companion to Meet the Puritans, this work is more or less a Puritan systematic theology.
Kelly M. Kapic and Randall C. Gleason eds., The Devoted Life: An Invitation to the Puritan Classics (IVP, 2004). An excellent primer on the representative Puritans and their best-known works. If you are new to the Puritans, this may be the place to start.
By the Puritans (in addition to those linked above)
John Bunyan (1628-88), Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners
John Flavel (1627-91), The Mystery of Providence
Thomas Boston (1676-1732), The Crook in the Lot: The Wisdom of God Displayed in the Afflictions of Men
Richard Baxter (1615-91), The Reformed Pastor
Thomas Watson (1620-1686), A Body of Divinity, All Things for Good, The Doctrine of Repentance
Joseph Alleine (1634-68), An Alarm to the Unconverted
Richard Sibbes (1577-1635), The Bruised Reed
William Bridge (1600-70), A Lifting Up for the Downcast
The post Eight Reasons Why We Need the Puritans appeared first on The Blog.
Top News from Christian News Network
‘It’s Very Personal’: Presidential Candidate Donald Trump Declines to Share Favorite Bible Verses
(CN) — Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump declined to share his favorite Bible verses during a television interview on Wednesday, stating that it was “very personal.”
Trump appeared on the Bloomberg television broadcast “With All Due Respect,” and at one point, interviewer John Heilemann asked Trump to expound further about a comment he made recently that the Bible is his favorite book.
Thousands Rally in Support of Clerks Who Refuse to Issue ‘Gay Marriage’ Licenses
(CN) — Thousands rallied on Saturday in support of three Kentucky clerks who are fighting for their religious rights not to violate their Christian convictions by issuing “marriage” licenses to homosexuals.
The Family Foundation of Kentucky organized the event, which included prayers, hymns and speeches by various state leaders and political candidates. Executive Director Kent Ostrander told the Lexington Herald Leader that the purpose of the rally was to support the First Amendment rights of clerks in light of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring that states must legalize same-sex nuptials.
Founder of Iraqi Christian Radio Station Walks Away Unharmed by Bomb Blast
(CN) — The founder of Iraq’s only Christian radio station is praising God for his protection after he and a deacon from his church walked away unharmed from a recent bomb blast in the ISIS-occupied nation.
“The situation here in Baghdad is not only bad, it is very bad,” Maher Fouad, pastor of New Testament Baptist Church, told reporters. “When ISIS occupied Ramadi, we became in danger because Ramadi is not very far away from Baghdad. On one side, we have ISIS threatening us. And the second danger we face is from car bombs and explosions.”
Americans Nationwide Take to Streets to Demand Defunding of Planned Parenthood
(CN) — Thousands of Americans took to the streets and public sidewalks outside of their local Planned Parenthood facility on Saturday to demand that the federal government defund the abortion giant.
According to reports, Christians and other pro-lifers gathered at over 320 locations across the nation, holding signs, praying and calling out to women not to murder their unborn child. Some rallies also featured special speakers that urged Americans to rise up against the shedding of innocent blood.
Other Top News Stories of Interest:
Wisdom For Your Weekend: your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.
Video of the Week
How to Survive World Religions 101, Michael Kruger. Student ministries often focus on preparing their students for college morally, making sure that when they leave home, they continue to live out the Christian faith in a new environment. But they too often fail to prepare students to consider the intellectual implications of their faith. Dr. Kruger offers some very tangible help for Christians entering an atmosphere in which their faith is considered intellectually indefensible.
Articles of the Week
30 Things I’ve Learned About Emotions, Paula Hendricks. If you haven’t yet seen Inside Out, several angels have lost their wings on your account. Go out and watch it. The movie, all about emotions, raises a lot of insightful questions—and answers many of them rather well. Hendricks adds a few helpful reflections about what she’s learned about emotions over the years. I (Chris) really appreciated 3, 4, & 16 (though I’m suspicious of 24 & 26).
Seven Reflections from the Planned Parenthood Protest, John Piper. “This morning [August 22] I was one of several thousand people who gathered in St. Paul, Minnesota, to say to Planned Parenthood that killing children is not an acceptable response to crisis pregnancies. And to say to our government that killing children should not be funded by tax dollars. Among other things. Here are seven short reflections on the morning.”
I’m a Duke Freshman; Here’s Why I Refused to Read ‘Fun Home,’ Brian Grasso. Duke University has, for some years, asked all incoming freshman to read the same book prior to arriving on campus. I (Chris) vaguely remember this little exercise from my own experience there. Our book was rather dry, and had to do with plagiarism, if memory serves me. This year, however, the chosen book was much more controversial. It was a graphic novel (think, comic book for grown-ups) depicting the life of a young person growing up and questioning her sexuality. Many Christians and Muslims have refused to read the book, causing a bit of a dust-up. Grasso’s article explains their reasoning with eloquence and fairness.
Should We Watch Murders on Social Media? Russell Moore. “I watched a video this morning that I’m ashamed to say I viewed. No, it wasn’t pornography—at least not pornography we typically think of. … When I watched the clip, I assumed there were gunshots around them and that the journalist and her interviewee had ducked for cover. It wasn’t until much later that I learned that what I had seen was a cold-blooded murder, streaming across my Twitter feed.”
On The Lighter Side
First GOP Debate – Kids REALLY Bad Lip Reading, Momma Pop. You may have missed the first Republican debate. (Or, in the words of Office Space, “I wouldn’t say I missed it…”) The lip-reading gurus made their own spin-off, which is certainly worth your time. But one of the Summit’s own decided to have her kids do a lip reading. It’s remarkable how much these candidates talk about food…
Wisdom For Your Weekend is presented to you by Chris Pappalardo, with occasional guidance from J.D. Greear. This is our attempt to reflect Proverbs 9:9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”
Watch as John Piper presents a passionate plea for believers to not waste their lives, but to instead lead lives that make an impact for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. Do not assume you won’t be sucked in because every stage of your life in this in this Disney Land called America there are powerful […]
The post Don’t Waste Your Life – Sermon & Book appeared first on ReasonableTheology.org.
The concept of love transcends time, culture and geographical location. Love can calm the greatest storms in life, bring joy to those in mourning, and not to mention cover a multitude of sins (1 Peter 4:8). I believe love is oxygen for the soul.
This concept is something that I’ve been processing for awhile now, so much so that it will be the focus of my next book. Why? Because I believe love is one of the greatest forces the world has ever seen. The greatest example of it? Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross for the sake of those who didn’t deserve an ounce of it.
Love is powerful. Love is contagious. Love is Jesus.
“But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.” 1 John 4:8
Jesus is by far the truest definition of love itself. And while many people choose to withhold this vibrant force from others, our calling as Christ followers is to showcase it regardless of the circumstances. All throughout scripture we find Jesus and his disciples showcasing love to people whom others saw as unworthy. This truth paints such a beautiful picture of who Jesus really is and what his mission was throughout his years of earthly ministry. We’re called to reflect this image on a daily basis. A life without love is a life without Jesus himself.
God created us in his image, which means the force of love lives within us, fuels our souls and continuously transforms us from the inside out. We are image-bearers of God. We are called to be image-bearers of love.
I truly believe that the more people would choose to showcase love to one another, the better a place this world would truly become. The Gospel of Jesus is found within the interlinings of love. Why? Because Jesus himself is love in action. It’s the fabric of his being.The post Love Is Oxygen for the Soul appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
These are times that try men’s souls, but who is the enemy—the greatest enemy—of God’s people?
Perhaps it’s liberal Supreme Court judges and the sexual ethics of secular society. Or maybe it’s ISIS and the looming threat of radical Islam. Perhaps it’s the rapid increase of those that identify religiously as “none.” Or maybe it’s Planned Parenthood and others who advocate for an adult’s right to comfort over a child’s right to life and barbarically snuff out life in the very womb that is for its protection and growth.
As I look, from my limited vantage, around our world today, I don’t know the answer to this question—at least, I don’t know the answer exhaustively. But I do know the answer that the book of Judges gives, which is the same answer the whole Bible gives. According to Judges, if the people of God want to know who their greatest potential enemy is, they need only do one simple thing: Look in the mirror.
The Real Enemy in Judges
In the time of the judges, there were some scary-strong enemies. They oppressed, they pillaged, they raped as they saw fit in their own eyes. And I’m sure if you did some man-on-the-street interviews, you would have heard all sorts of external reasons for their problems. “They have chariots and we don’t,” one Israelite might have said. “They are better fighters on the plains than we are,” says another. Or, “They have better generals, better kings; that’s why we’re not inheriting the land.”
Perhaps the Jerusalem Post of the day even ran headlines telling this tale of woe. But if they did, it would have been superficial reporting. These were not the deepest issues. The greatest enemies were not external, but internal. And the book of Judges both shouts and whispers this indictment.
Consider the last sentence in the book. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25; see also Judges 17:6). This statement is the ancient equivalent of bold, italics, underline and all caps—an example of the book shouting that the greatest enemy is internal.
Another place is Judges 2:10, which is a key verse in the book. Here the blame is laid on the fact that “there arose another generation … who did not know the LORD or the work that he had done for Israel.” Again, the foe is internal, not external.
The post The Greatest Enemy of the Church appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
Crucifixes have long been a fixture in Roman Catholic worship. But in the past few years I have begun to see more and more Protestants wearing them as well, exchanging their empty cross for one that contains an image of the suffering Savior. J.I. Packer once addressed the issue of the crucifix, and addressed it well.
What harm is there, we ask, in the worshipper surrounding himself with statues and pictures, if they help him to lift his heart to God?
We are accustomed to treat the question of whether these things should be used or not as a matter of temperament and personal taste. We know that some people have crucifixes and pictures of Christ in their rooms, and they tell us that looking at these objects helps them to focus their thoughts on Christ when they pray. We know that many claim to be able to worship more freely and easily in churches that are filled with such ornaments than they can in churches that are bare of them. Well, we say, what is wrong with that? What harm can these things do? If people really do find them helpful, what more is there to be said? What point can there be in prohibiting them? In the face of this perplexity, some would suggest that the second commandment only applies to immoral and degrading representations of God, borrowed from pagan cults, and to nothing more.
But the very wording of the [second] commandment rules out such a limiting exposition. God says quite categorically, “you shall not make an idol in the form of anything” for use in worship. This categorical statement rules out, not simply the use of pictures and statues which depict God as an animal, but also the use of pictures and statues which depict him as the highest created thing we know—a human. It also rules out the use of pictures and statues of Jesus Christ as a man, although Jesus himself was and remains man; for all pictures and statues are necessarily made after the “likeness” of ideal manhood as we conceive it, and therefore come under the ban which the commandment imposes.
Packer goes on to say that whatever else the second commandment teaches “there is no room for doubting that the commandment obliges us to disassociate our worship, both in public and in private, from all pictures and statues of Christ, no less than from pictures and statues of his Father.”
Why? Why is this prohibition in place and why is it so important that we heed it? He offers two reasons.
1. Images dishonour God, for they obscure his glory. The likeness of things in heaven (sun, moon, stars), and in earth (people, animals, birds, insects), and in the sea (fishes, mammals, crustaceans), is precisely not a likeness of their Creator. “A true image of God,” wrote Calvin, “is not to be found in all the world; and hence … his glory is defiled, and his truth corrupted by the lie, whenever he is set before our eyes in a visible form … Therefore, to devise any image of God is itself impious; because by this corruption his majesty is adulterated, and he is figured to be other than he is.” … The heart of the objection to pictures and images is that they inevitably conceal most, if not all, of the truth about the personal nature and character of the divine Being whom the represent.
…The pathos of the crucifix obscures the glory of Christ, for it hides the fact of his deity, his victory on the cross, and his present kingdom. It displays his human weakness, but it conceals his divine strength; it depicts the reality of his pain, but keeps out of our sight the reality of his joy and his power. In both these cases, the symbol is unworthy most of all because of what it fails to display. And so are all other visible representations of deity.
2. Images mislead us. They convey false ideas about God. The very inadequacy with which they represent him perverts our thoughts of him, and plants in our minds errors of all sorts about his character and will. … It is a matter of historical fact that the use of the crucifix as an aid to prayer has encouraged people to equate devotion with brooding over Christ’s bodily sufferings; it has made them morbid about the spiritual value of physical pain, and it has kept them from knowledge of the risen Savior.
These examples show how images will falsify the truth of God in the minds of men. Psychologically, it is certain that if you habitually focus your thoughts on an image or picture of the One to whom you are going to pray, you will come to think of him, and pray to him, as the image represents him. Thus, you will in this sense “bow down” and “worship” your image; and to the extent to which the image fails to tell the truth about God, to that extent will you fail to worship God in truth. That is why God forbids you and me to make use of images and pictures in our worship.
The following is a lightly edited transcript.
Joy is so important for anyone who wants to be in leadership. I think people can tell when you are trying to lead them in a certain direction, but your heart isn’t really captured by it. As Christians, we are very familiar with seasons that feel really dry and that don’t feel really joyful. I actually feel like I am in one of those seasons right now.
There are some seasons where you read Scripture and you just feel on fire for Jesus and every word you read you see how sweet it is. You just want Jesus and nothing else. There are also drier seasons where you are going to the word and your desire for it isn’t the same. You don’t really want it that much. There is going to be that kind of up and down for any Christian. This reality is part of what it means to follow Jesus. We are still fallen. But my kind of regular pursuit is the pursuit of joy in Jesus. It is that passion and joy that overflows. Then we’re able to lead other people so they can tell that my heart is actually captured by this stuff when I open God’s Word and say, “Hey, this is what God said and it means something to me.”
When I have conversations with people and I am trying to counsel them through things, they can tell if I am simply repeating things I heard somebody say. They can also tell if it is something that has really captured my heart — that I have actually interacted with Jesus in.
I think one of the dangers for me is I want to fight for joy because I don’t want to lead from a perpetually dry place. Then it just becomes hypocritical, because we don’t really believe what we are saying. Maybe we just believe it kind of intellectually, but we don’t believe it at a really deep heart level. So when we say to someone that Jesus satisfies your soul, we say that not from our own actual experience, but because we think it is what we are supposed to say. It can turn into hypocrisy very quickly. I think it can quickly turn into simply mimicking words.
At the heart of my ability to lead other people well is enjoying Jesus myself. Then I get to say, “Here is where I found that joy in the Scriptures in Jesus. Come along with me on this journey,” instead of saying, “Hey, I heard about this place way out there and I want to kind of tell you about what I think it is like.”
Actually I am fighting for the same thing. Let’s go together.
But sometimes we are confronted with such naked, aggressively obvious journalistic mischief that to not call it out would be to bury our heads and consciences in the sand. And then other times, the way something is misreported or misrepresented can be far more than a political scrimmage or a culture war skirmish; sometimes bad journalism is a matter of life and death.
In the case of big media, abortion, and the Planned Parenthood expose videos, we have a case of both.
There’s a growing trend I’ve noticed and have become concerned about: namely, that people who are anti-judgmental are SO judgmental of anyone else they perceive to be passing judgment. One, they’re often wrong; two, they’re just as harsh as those they condemn and continuously assume the worst.
In the painful years of waiting for God to answer our prayers for a child this side of heaven, we never dreamed he would have given us two at once. When we stare at the faces of our twin boys, in all their boundless energy of toddlerhood, and now as we stare too at the face of our newborn son, we are regularly brought to worship the God who not only answered our prayer, but answered more abundantly than we could have imagined.
Inauthentic ministry was a charge leveled against Paul. The Corinthians said that there was discrepancy between the way he wrote his letters and the way he was in person: “His letters are weighty and strong, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech of no account” (2 Cor. 10:10). It is a serious charge, and in his second letter to the church at Corinth, Paul spends almost the entire time defending himself. The critique came from jealousy and therefore bore no legitimacy. But the fact is, the charge can be true—not of Paul, but of us. Leadership calls for genuineness, authenticity and transparency.
Italian lesbian author gets papal blessing
“And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon.” Revelation 13:11 (KJV)
EDITOR’S NOTE: The one we have started calling the False Prophet of Revelation, Pope Francis, will also be the one that we feel will authorize and sanction same-sex marriage within the Catholic church corporation. Here we have a classic case of Francis “double speak” where he praises homosexuals for being homosexuals and then immediately issues a statement that his words were “misunderstood”. The LGBT community understands very well what Francis is doing, which is why he has so much of their support.
Vatican City – Pope Francis has sent his blessing to a lesbian author of children’s books dealing with same-sex families, wishing her and her wife well in their work, it emerged on Friday.
As Vatican officials scrambled to clarify that the message was simply a standard courtesy which did not signal any change in Church teaching on the subject, the author told AFP she had been pleasantly surprised to have received such a positive response.
Francesca Pardi, who writes and publishes books such as “Why You Have Two Mummies”, wrote to Francis in June after the publishing company she runs with her wife came under fire from Christian groups.
She included examples of her works, some of which have recently been controversially withdrawn from nurseries and primary schools by a new mayor in Venice.
“My books present different types of families without setting any of them up as a model,” Pardi told AFP, praising the pope for having responded in a manner that showed “respect and dignity” towards her, her wife and their four children.
“It was not important for me that it was the pope who said it, I am not a Catholic. But it is important to see that we are not up against a wall. A dialogue is possible,” she added. “Books are to be opened, to be read and to be criticised. What you don’t do is ban them.”
In his message, the pope wished the two women “ever more fruitful work in the service of young generations and in spreading authentic human and Christian values.”
Pope Francis has signalled that he wants the Church to adopt a more pragmatic and understanding approach to the situation of believers living in gay relationships, an attitude reflected in his famous “who am I to judge” remark on the subject.
“If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis told reporters, speaking in Italian but using the English word “gay.” – Pope Francis
But proposals to integrate a shift to a more welcoming tone into the conclusions of an ongoing Church review of its teaching on the family have been opposed by conservatives. Bishops from around the world will return to the subject at a Vatican synod in October which will seek to find a compromise on that and other divisive issues.
Pardi and her partner got married in Spain. Italy is the only major western European country that has no provision for same sex couples to have their unions legally recognised. The centre-left government has pledged to enact legislation introducing the possibility of civil unions by the end of this year but there are no plans to legalise gay marriage. source
Randy Alcorn, who wrote a helpful book on Heaven, clarifies some of the misunderstandings about what worship will be like. Hint: it doesn’t include exclusively singing hymns with endless verses.
My sweet friend Jenna has some sage advice for busy moms—and busy women, in general.
I found this article to be a well-written interaction with topics that can, shamefully, be divisive among many well-meaning believers.
You probably have heard about the tragic Ashley Madison scandal that has uncovered the infidelity of many spouses. Let’s guard and check our hearts so that we don’t fall into tempation, as well.
Here is good food for thought about what really matters with our children and in our relationships.
We are cruising to the end of a week and the end of a month. I do not have any new Kindle deals to share today, but I do anticipate having some interesting ones on both Monday and Tuesday. In the meantime, here is some weekend reading for you.
This is a solid and important article. “Sometimes we are confronted with such naked, aggressively obvious journalistic mischief that to not call it out would be to bury our heads and consciences in the sand.”
You probably weren’t aware of all these books and objects of religious significance housed at Yale. It’s quite a collection!
“Michael Kruger entered his freshman year at the University of North Carolina as a committed Christian. He thought he was ready for the intellectual challenges college would mount against his faith—that is, until he found himself sitting in a New Testament introduction class with Bart Ehrman as his professor. It left him shell-shocked.” He tells how to survive World Religions 101.
This Day in 1792: Charles Finney was born. Finney would become a preacher and revivalist in the years following the Second Great Awakening. Though many continue to regard him as a hero of the faith, his legacy includes destructive, unbiblical, man-centered theology. *
The Oxford English Dictionary has added some new words to their dictionary including awesomesauce, hangry, butt-dial, pocket-dial, and many more.
Aaron Armstrong has written an interesting and very personal letter to a new believer. It may be helpful to those who have just come to Christ and are trying to understand how to live as Christians.
Randy Alcorn: “There’s a growing trend I’ve noticed and have become concerned about: namely, that people who are anti-judgmental are SO judgmental of anyone else they perceive to be passing judgment.”
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
Eight Reasons Why We Need the Puritans – “For many years before surrendering to vocational ministry, I was a conservative evangelical Christian whom God had called to work in the dog-eat-dog world of secular media. While working for a metropolitan daily newspaper in Georgia, one of my ultra-liberal colleagues was teasing me about being a conservative ‘boy’ from a small town in the sticks of North Georgia. She said, ‘You know what you are? You’re a Puritan!’ At the time, I didn’t really know what to make of it. Today, I see it as a high compliment. Perhaps someday.”
Truth in the Age of Cynicism – “During World War II, martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer had harsher things to say about cynicism. Writing from a Nazi prison he described the cynic as one who claims to tell the truth in all places, and at all times, and to every person, but in reality he is just a consistent liar. The cynic wears a halo as ‘a zealot for truth’ but he ends up destroying reality. He ‘desecrates the mystery, breaks trust, betrays the community in which he lives, and smiles arrogantly over the havoc he has wrought and over the human weakness that ‘can’t bear the truth.’”
Carnal Peace – “The message of the false prophets of Israel was one of peace. But their peace was an illusion. They preached peace when there was no peace, or what Luther called a carnal peace. Luther said that when the gospel is preached with passion and with accuracy, it does not bring peace. In fact, our Lord Himself said, ‘Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword’ (Matt. 10:34). That does not mean that we are called to use weapons of military combat to further the extension of the kingdom. We are to be peacemakers. We are to be tolerant, kind, and patient people. But if you look at the record of history, the true prophets of Israel contended for the truth, and every time they did, controversy emerged.”
Justification and Double Imputation – “Romans 5:19 and 2 Corinthians 5:19-21 are two places in Scripture that teach the twin truths of justification and double imputation: ‘For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.’ ‘…He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (NASB). After discussing these passages in some detail, John Fesko writes this in summary…”
My Trip to Planned Murderhood and at College Campus on August 27, 2015 – “Before I start, I would like to first thank these beloved brothers: David Beal and Steve Pivovaroff for their encouragement to me today. They both reached out to me and impelled me to keep ministering at these aborturaries. The warfare can be intense from time to time, but it is a joy to serve my King. Here is what transpired today concerning our evangelism excursion there and elsewhere…”
Ray Comfort – True and False Conversion
How to Know if Your Child Is Saved.
Fund Planned Parenthood you Anti-Feminist Woman Hater!
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
The post The Daily Discovery (August 29-30, 2015) appeared first on Entreating Favor.
Christian Headlines Daily – Saturday, August 29, 2015
Christian Actress Candace Cameron Bure Set to Co-Host ‘The View’
Texas Church Responds with Standing Ovation to Gay Marriage Proposal
Death Threats, Forced Conversions of Christians Cited in India
Egyptian Christian Imprisoned for Handing Out Bibles in Shopping Mall
Hillary Clinton: Republicans’ Views on Women Comparable to That of Terrorists
Billy Graham: Only Person God Can’t Forgive is One who Doesn’t Seek Forgiveness
Southern Baptists to Cut up to 800 Missionaries due to Lack of Funds
33 Christian Leaders Who are Speaking up for Life
Husband and Wife Who Converted to Christianity Shot by Muslim Family Members
Religious Freedom a ‘Reality’ in Recovering Central African Republic
Whom Shall We Worship: A Look into Canaanite Culture
More On-air Shootings Expected
Ashley Madison and the Death of Monogamy
From Suicide to Euthanasia: Devaluing Human Life
The 3 Zip Codes without Ashley Madison Users
Only Two Religions!
I don’t know if you know this but there are only two religions in the entire world.
You might say I’m nuts. There are hundreds if not thousands!
But there is one religion that likes to put on hundreds if not thousands of different masks on, and so ultimately there are only two: the religion of Human Achievement and the religion of Divine Accomplishment.
You see Islam, Mormonism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Judaism and every single religion that you have ever heard of, ultimately teaches some form of a works-based salvation. They say that you have to be a little more good than bad in order to make it to heaven. These religions encourage you to hand God a resume when you face Him one day. The resume will be filled with all your accomplishments. It will list everything you’ve done for other people, every penny you’ve given to charity and every good deed you’ve done. God will look over this resume and say, “Good job! You’ve made it into heaven”.
The problem is that if you were to enter into heaven because of a resume based on your accomplishments God would get no glory; you would be the one who gets all the praise. In fact, Ephesians 2:9 would say that salvation is not of works lest you should boast! Genesis chapter one shows us that God created the entire universe including you. Everything He created is designed to bring Him glory. The problem is that sin has entered the world, and from birth we all have replaced exalting God with exalting ourselves. Everything we do from birth is geared towards bringing us glory and bringing praise to ourselves. We all have a throne in our hearts that God should be sitting and reigning on, but instead we are born with ourselves sitting on it. We are so used to it we don’t even notice it to the point where we all think that our resumes are good enough to get us into heaven.
Of course we are going to think that we are good people! Of course my mom is going to tell me I’m a good person! But what does your Creator think? He says in Romans 3:23 that we all have sinned and fall short of His glory. He also says in Romans 6:23 that the wages of sin is death. So if we stand before God and start listing accomplishments or hand Him a resume we might as well slap Jesus in the face because God is going to look at the resume and say, “I killed my only Son because you were not good enough to get to me!”
And that’s where the only other religion comes in.
The religion of Divine Accomplishment. God saw your situation, and decided that since man was so sinful and could not save himself, that He would come Himself and take the form of a man. He humbled himself, spent nine months in a womb he created, grew up with every temptation you and I face every day, but without sinning. He then died on the cross for our sins, and then rose from the dead and defeated death. He made it possible for human beings to stand before God one day and not hand Him a resume and condemn themselves further, but rather, tell God that they deserve His wrath but have placed their faith and trust in the work that Jesus did on their behalf on the cross and through His resurrection.
You see we need someone to be a substitute for us because no matter how hard we try, we can never bridge the gap between God and us. And the substitute can’t be merely a human. It must be God Himself.
Do you see the difference between Christianity and every other religion?
The Greatest Story Ever Told
God’s goal in all of His creative and redemptive work is to bring glory to Himself (Isa 43:7; cf. Eph 1:6, 12, 14).
What is The Gospel?
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
“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
Our Time is Short
Read: Recommitting Your Life To God and Jesus Christ – Restoration and Forgiveness With God and Jesus Christ (Updated Version)
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 is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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