August 28, 2015 Truth2Freedom Christian Briefing Report


‘My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List.’

God’s grace is sufficient for the shepherd who falls, and the flock left vulnerable. We have a Great Shepherd, a Chief Shepherd, who is for us what earthly shepherds can never be: perfect, absolutely trustworthy, and never failing. It is He who leads us beside still waters in and into green pastures. Let us place our faith in Him, and we will find rest for our weary souls. Pray for your pastors and church leaders today, even if they weren’t found to be in sin.

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Ministering to the Suffering

Suffering is a time during which we experience the weight of the curse in heavier-than-usual ways. As people are pulled and pressed under previously unexperienced pains, people often say and do things spiritually uncharacteristic of how you’ve known them. And as much as we’d like the Spirit to ooze out of suffering’s squeeze, sometime it just doesn’t. Instead, the flesh shows its ugly head. Both physical and spiritual pain can wreak more havoc on the brain and behavior than we might like to think. This is not to excuse sin, but remind us that we need to give sufferers some spiritual breathing room. They are suffering.

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God Keeps His Covenant of Love

I realize that not every pastor’s wife has children or the prospect of grandchildren. Not every pastor’s wife has offspring who are following the Lord and bringing her joy. I know this can be painful. Although God is not blessing you in the same way that He is blessing me (and vice versa), He is blessing you with His eternal love and favor. Abundantly. Furthermore, if you are part of His kingdom work, you are extending the faith to a thousand generations whether you are a mom or not.

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The Ideal American Woman of the 19th Century

The following is an excerpt regarding the ideal 19th century woman, which historians have called the cult of true womanhood. If you read it in the light of the ongoing debate about gender roles, it has a familiar ring to it. Of particular note, this ideal could not be achieved by poor women or slaves. Thus it was a practice or a preference that was only possible from a position of privilege, not a principle that could be applied to all.

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There Were Only 3 ZIP Codes in America Without Any Ashley Madison Accounts — Here They Are

And there you have it. Those are the last vestiges of the US left untouched by Ashley Madison — though of course there is the possibility that there are other bastions of innocence that have fake accounts registered to them. Even so, the ubiquity of Ashley Madison is striking.

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Also read: A chart made from the leaked Ashley Madison data reveals which states in the US like to cheat the most

Also read: A chart made from Ashley Madison data reveals 25 cities where the most people want to cheat

Ashley Madison and the Death of Monogamy

But in the larger secular culture, the big question is whether adultery really matters or not. Marriage and monogamy have been subverted from an array of cultural forces. Moral revolutionaries declared war on monogamy, declaring it to be unrealistic, patriarchal, repressive, and antiquated. Popular culture and entertainment glorified virtually any experiment in sexual gratification and often portrayed adultery as the victory of personal autonomy and freedom. States dropped adultery from the law books, stating that “morals legislation” was doomed. Evolutionary anthropologists explained adultery as a natural and expected phenomenon.

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Should We Watch Murders on Social Media?

A videotaped massacre can easily be a kind of pornography, turning human beings—made in the image of God–into spectacles, all while giving the illusion of a safe distance between their suffering and the audience. We can justify watching this as “being informed,” but there is a very thin line these days between news and entertainment. The last thing we should ever be entertained by is the taking of human life. That’s why our early Christian ancestors refused to go to the gladiatorial games.

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Noisy Quiet Times

Late one night I was reading a Christian book on the disciplines of the Christian woman. When I got to the part that suggested setting my alarm clock at 3:00 am to have my quiet time, I slammed the book closed and threw it at the wall. That book has probably been a blessing to many, but I never dared finish it. For me, right then, it just made me mad. My alarm was already set. Not for 3:00am, but for a reasonable 6:00am, so I could wake before the baby’s feeding at 6:30am. Since my various duties had already kept me up well past midnight, I would be getting plenty of piety points by getting up at 6!

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Already & Not-Yet

There is a real danger of falling into one of the ditches on either side of the road when it comes to our understanding of the coming of the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God was inaugurated at Christ’s first coming and will be consummated at His second coming. Living between these two epiphanies, we are better able to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age when we understand and grasp both of these extremes simultaneously (Titus 2:11-14).

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Paul Trip Weighs on Divorce of Fellow Pastor Tullian Tchividjian: 'There Are Times When the Trust is So Deeply Broken It's Best to Move On'

Paul Trip Weighs on Divorce of Fellow Pastor Tullian Tchividjian: ‘There Are Times When the Trust is So Deeply Broken It’s Best to Move On’

Posted on August 28, 2015 by Gospel Herald

Dr. Paul Tripp has weighed in on the divorce of his friend and fellow pastor, Tullian Tchividjian, lamenting that “there are times when the trust is so deeply broken and patterns so set in place” that it is best to simply “cry out for God’s grace, rest in the truths of the gospel and with a grieved heart, move on.”

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Sexual Temptation: Women Fall For It, Too

Sexual Temptation: Women Fall For It, Too

Posted on August 28, 2015 by Crosswalk

Can I talk girlfriend to girlfriend for just a moment?nbsp; It#39;s about a very uncomfortable subject, and honestly, one most of us would rather pretend does not exist in Christian circles.nbsp; It#39;s sexual sin. A woman…

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9 “Church Approved” Sins That Plague Your Life

9 “Church Approved” Sins That Plague Your Life

Posted on August 27, 2015 by Church Leaders

&If you’re a child of God, the one sin that shouldn’t plague you is … fear.&

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John MacArthur’s Confrontation: How Should We Respond to Prophetic Ministry?

John MacArthur’s Confrontation: How Should We Respond to Prophetic Ministry?

Posted on August 27, 2015 by Gospel Herald

I recently wrote about the young Scottish prophet who confronted Pastor John MacArthur with a word of correction. In addition to almost 200 article comments at the time of my writing this article, there has also been an unexpected wave of backlash on my Twitter and personal blogsite from the infamous Executive Director of Pastor MacArthur’s Grace to You media ministry and his followers. This confrontation has raised several questions. I’ll address them as best I can.

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10 Ways To Overcome Spiritual Weariness

Being a disciple of Jesus is hard. He said we must daily take up our cross and die to ourselves. He calls us to serve, love, and look to the interest of others. Following Jesus yields immeasurable joy, but we can also grow weary from day to day. Weary in parenting, weary in serving, weary in trials and affliction. When we’re weary we can find fresh strength, joy and motivation in Christ. Here are 10 ways to do that:

Come to Jesus for rest

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” MT 11.28-30

Confess your weariness to the Lord

I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping. PS 6.6

Ask Jesus to restore and revive you

The LORD is my shepherd… He restores my soul. PS 23.1, 3

Remind yourself that Jesus won’t forget your labors for him

For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. HEB 6.10

Ask Jesus for joy

Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. JN 16.24

Ask Jesus for strength

Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; IS 40.28-30

Ask Jesus for his own affection for people

For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus PHP 1.8

Remind yourself that your work for the Lord is not in vain

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. 1 CO 15.58

Remind yourself that someday you’ll reap rewards

And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. GA 6.9

Remind yourself of God’s future commendation

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ MT 25.23

Should We Watch Murders on Social Media?

Why Does God Allow Bad Things to Happen to Good People?

Why We Fail at Family Devotions

Call me “ze,” not “he”: University wants everyone to use “gender inclusive” pronouns

According to Christian Examiner:

Educators in the Volunteer State are very concerned that students might be offended by the usage of traditional pronouns like she, he, him and hers, according to a document from the University of Tennessee – Knoxville’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.

“With the new semester beginning and an influx of new students on campus, it is important to participate in making our campus welcoming and inclusive for all,” wrote Donna Braquet in a posting on the university’s website. “One way to do that is to use a student’s chosen name and their correct pronouns.”

The Feminist War on Family Science

The Daily Signal reports:

Few social science findings are as durable, consistent, and striking as the idea that children fare better when under the care of two biological parents (on a whole slew of indicators).

This is as close to a law of gravity as we have in sociology.

Unfortunately, there are a slew of scholars who have ignored the science, and instead argue that sociology cannot prove that children fare better with parents who are traditionally married.

The effect of this feminist war on family science—waged by Martha Fineman, Linda McClain, and Elizabeth Brake—has been staggering.

The Feminist War on Family Science

Peter Martyr On Law And Gospel

Whatsoever things are contained in the holy Scriptures should be referred unto two principal heads, the law and the gospel. (HT: Dan Borvan)   – Peter Martyr

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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?  You’ll have to read Lareau’s piece to find out. , I have decided to take another break from my series about submitting in everything to […]

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Preterists in sheep’s clothing: the growing plague of end times deception

Not until I was faced with a Preterist that held these beliefs did I even know they existed. Worse yet, this Preterist was starting a Christian organization in my area and revealed to me that his secret goal was to convince Christians that their Futurist, Dispensationalist, end-times ideas were a manufactured lie. (He is currently working to spread his organization to 300 U.S. cities).

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From the makers of ‘Courageous,’ ‘Fireproof,’ comes ‘War Room’

The wait is finally over.

“War Room,” the new Christian drama from Kendrick Brothers Productions, is hitting theaters across the U.S. on Friday.

Co-directors and co-writers Alex and Stephen Kendrick, known for films such as “Facing the Giants” and “Courageous,” believe their latest work is their best.

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Left Pushes End of Church Tax Exemptions

Begin to ask yourself if you would donate without a donation receipt?

Immediately following the Supreme Court decision that declared same-sex marriage legal, Time’s Mark Oppenheimer openly declared that churches should be stripped of their tax-exempt statuses, arguing they served no reliable function when helping the poor and that government had no business “subsidizing” them anymore.

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New Bible Videos On YouTube Helping Christians Understand God’s Word

Quick: Where is Christ prophesied in the book of Numbers? What problem was Moses addressing when he wrote Leviticus? What do the dietary laws have to do with Jesus? If you can’t answer these questions, you’re not alone ………..  Click here for full story

Christians Debate Whether It’s OK To ‘Act Muslim’ To Save Their Lives

A debate is raging among African and Arab theologians regarding how far Christians can go in good conscience to hide their faith and pretend to be Muslims in order to save their lives at the hands of Islamist extremists……..  Click here for full story

Letter to the Editor: Disheartened with Lack of Discernment in So Many Christian Lives

Dear Lighthouse Trails, I am saddened that so many teachers, preachers, and writers have no problem putting out such blatant lies.  Maybe some would say that “they” were misinformed, but it is up to all of us as individuals to know that truth.  It is disheartening to read such deception, knowing many pastors will teach […]


Demystifying the Popular Prophecies About
Jewish Sabbaths and Blood Moons
A book review of Dave James’ timely new book Biblical Guide to the Shemitah and the Blood Moons: Discerning Popular “Prophecies” in the Light of God’s Word

By Gaylene Goodroad
Dave James new book, published by Berean Call, 2015

The book, The Mystery of The Shemitah, by Jonathan Cahn—a runaway sequel to his bestselling book, The Harbinger—has nearly rivaled the success of its predecessor[1]—and has proponents of these ancient mysteries eagerly anticipating the economic destruction of the United States this September (when the “Shemitah” cycles end), in fulfillment of the apocalyptic and calamitous judgments, predicted in the so-called hidden end-time Jewish prophecies, Sabbaths (Shemitahs, pronounced sh’mee’-tah), and current Blood Moon Tetrad (aligned with Jewish feast days), detailed in Cahn’s books.

Jonathan Cahn warns of pending “Shemitah” judgments coming to America
on Sid Roth’s television program, It’s Supernatural[2]

There is extraordinary publicity ramping up over the dire events that are predicted to happen the last few weeks in September this year, 2015. Charisma, for example, just ran an article titled “10 Things That Are Going to Happen Within 15 Days of the End of the Shemitah,” which attempts to prophetically connect the Jade Helm military exercises, selected United Nations conferences, and even the Pope’s upcoming visit to America events to the Blood Moons prophecies that have been popularized by men such as Jonathan Cahn, Mark Biltz and John Hagee.

Article in Charisma News, 8/20/15, by Michael Snyder.
The caption to this photo reads: The Shemitah is rapidly approaching.

However, not everyone agrees with these dreadful predictions. Dave James, who previously authored  The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? (a critical review of Cahn’s The Harbinger) initially reviewed Cahn’s book The Mystery of the Shemitah in an article he posted last September on his blog, the Alliance for Biblical Integrity (ABI).[3] He has continued his careful, methodical, and in-depth debunking of this phenomenon, which was recently published into his 206-page critical book review: Biblical Guide to the Shemitah and the Blood Moons (hereafter referred to as BGS). James explains his reasons for doing so:

My purpose for evaluating and critiquing The Mystery of the Shemitah is twofold:

First, because so many have been influenced by The Harbinger, and because this new book is already a bestseller, the Body of Christ needs to see that there is another side to the story that may not be completely obvious at first glance. And even for those who may sense that something isn’t quite right, the time it takes to work through the frequently slow and laborious, yet necessary, task of fact-checking is probably more than most readers will want to invest.

Second, just as one of my goals in writing The Harbinger: Fact or Fiction? was to model the process of discernment, the same is true of this booklet. First and foremost, discernment involves checking against the Word of God to make sure that all the arguments, theories, and claims are biblically sound. Beyond this, discernment also frequently involves evaluating the logic arguments, the veracity of assertions from a historical perspective, and even the proper use of statistics, which, unfortunately, can be framed in such a way that the true picture is obscured or hidden from the reader, even if unintentionally.[4]

Graphic from the Zions Gate blog[5]

Here is a brief synopsis of the issues involved and questions raised by these Blood Moon prophecies, according to Dave James:

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Marsha West: “70% of Americans are Christians? Seriously?”

Marsha West
August 28, 2015

A recent report indicates that 70% of Americans are Christians. If this is true, what it says to this writer is that a whole host of people who profess faith in Jesus Christ neglect to read the instruction manual that reveals everything we need to know about the object of our faith. I’m referring to the Bible. Anyone who takes the time to read it knows what Jesus taught and how those who claim to believe in Him must live their lives. Clearly Christians are not reading the Book . . . [Click for more]


Keeping a Clear Conscience in an Age of Ashley Madison

The 37 million cheaters caught out by a hacked adultery website have a lot to worry about at the moment. There they thought they could get away with murder – or at least adultery – and it would all be just fine, but have now been exposed to the whole world.

I have written about this wretched site several times now, and I would reemphasise the irony of those complaining about a betrayal of trust. Um, this entire website is one big betrayal of trust. Sin has a way of doing that. Cheat on your spouse and break your sacred vows, and it will come back to bite you.

Of course this is part of the sexual cesspool the West has degenerated into. Al Mohler recently said this about the whole debacle:

In the larger secular culture, the big question is whether adultery really matters or not. Marriage and monogamy have been subverted from an array of cultural forces. Moral revolutionaries declared war on monogamy, declaring it to be unrealistic, patriarchal, repressive, and antiquated. Popular culture and entertainment glorified virtually any experiment in sexual gratification and often portrayed adultery as the victory of personal autonomy and freedom. States dropped adultery from the law books, stating that “morals legislation” was doomed. Evolutionary anthropologists explained adultery as a natural and expected phenomenon.
The mainstream media seems to know that the Ashley Madison hacking story is big news, but the main concern seems to be more about embarrassment than shamefulness.
Then again, even as the larger culture tries to convince itself that it has proudly outgrown monogamy, the furor and grief over the Ashley Madison revelations point to the underlying reality that even those supposedly liberated from conventional sexual morality really do know that adultery is wrong. Nevertheless, severed from any substantial moral grounding, they are not exactly sure why adultery is wrong, or how wrong they should understand adultery to be. Once the scandal subsides, the moral concern about adultery is likely to dissipate as well.
“Life is short,” said Ashley Madison. “Have an affair.” The Sexual Revolution continues, aided and abetted by modern technology. And with that revolution comes hurt and pain beyond calculation, but our sex-obsessed culture proudly denies the obvious, and moves on.
Life is indeed short, and so is the Seventh Commandment: “You shall not commit adultery.”

conscienceYes indeed, but of course the really worrying issue here is how many people claiming to be Christians were part of this diabolical site. One article by Ed Stetzer states that there may well be hundreds of pastors who were caught up in all this:

Based on my conversations with leaders from several denominations in the U.S. and Canada, I estimate that at least 400 church leaders (pastors, elders, staff, deacons, etc.) will be resigning Sunday. This is a significant moment of embarrassment for the church – and it should be. To be honest, the number of pastors and church leaders on Ashley Madison is much lower than the number of those looking to have an affair. Yet, there is still much that we must consider in the midst of the embarrassment.

This is shocking stuff indeed. He reminds us that the church is called to a much higher standard here. And he goes on to offer “three principles of repentance for pastors and Christian leaders”:

1. Repentance must be public.
Yes, pastors have a higher standard to receive criticism, but when that standard is met, a new standard kicks in– as far as the sin is known the repentance should be known.
Pastors have a responsibility to what has been entrusted to them. If you are a small church pastor, your church should know. If you have been entrusted with a global ministry, however, your repentance should be known on a global scale.
Yes, that’s hard. But you cannot use the higher standard of receiving criticism to your advantage when it is beneficial, but ignore the higher standard of repentance when things are difficult.
The details don’t need to be known, but the sin does. Adultery, lying, theft should be named, not hinted. When you became a pastor, you forfeited the right for your sin not to be known when the accusations prove to be true. It does not have to be prurient, but it must be clear.
2. Repentance must be thorough.
…As Lanny Davis wrote about political scandals, “Tell it all, tell it early, tell it yourself.” Or, to quote a paraphrase of Proverbs 28:13, “What we cover, God uncovers and what we uncover, God covers.
There is great freedom in confessing it all, early, and moving on toward restoration. The alternative is to be trapped in a cycle of waiting until more evidence comes forward and then trying to spin it to salvage our reputation.
Repentance is freeing.
3. Repentance should lead to restoration.
…When it comes to pastoral repentance, fear leads to forever hiding where faith leads to confession and restoration.
I’m not saying that every pastor can be restored to every role—that’s a discussion for another day. But, a pastor who commits adultery, for example, needs to be under a discipline process with the church that lasts a considerable length of time (at least two years in my opinion).

While it may be too late for those already caught out here, all believers should stand up and take notice. None of us are immune from this. We are all susceptible to sexual sins and the temptations thereof. Thus we need to go back to basics here, and reminds ourselves of basic Christian truths.

Let me focus on just one: the need to always keep a clear conscience. Scripture tells us much about the importance of this. Let me offer just a few verses here:

Acts 24:16 So I strive always to keep my conscience clear before God and man.
1 Timothy 1:5 The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.
1 Timothy 1:19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.
1 Timothy 3:9 They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
1 Timothy 4:2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
2 Timothy 1:3 I thank God, whom I serve, as my forefathers did, with a clear conscience, as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers.
Hebrews 13:18 Pray for us. We are sure that we have a clear conscience and desire to live honorably in every way.
1 Pet 3:16 keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Adultery always begins in our hearts, as Jesus reminded us. If we are continuously toying with the thought, then we will likely act it out soon enough. Thus we need to keep our hearts and minds clean, and we need to maintain a clear conscience.

We must stay steeped in the word of God, and stay accountable to one another. Staying in daily dependence on God and his word will help. As John MacArthur said in The Vanishing Conscience: “The conscience functions like a skylight, not a light bulb. It lets light into the soul; it does not produce its own.”

Thus this is not about trying to be better or living up to our own moral principles. This is about immersing ourselves in God and His Word, and letting his standards pour into our lives. This whole sordid affair must serve as a wake-up call to all of us. We need to learn from this while there is yet a chance to do so.

Ed Stetzer: Up to 400 Pastors Caught in Ashley Madison Hack May Resign This Sunday

Ed Stetzer, an expert on ecclesiology and missions, just published an article titled, “My Pastor is on the Ashley Madison List.” We’ve covered updates on the Ashley Madison hack here and here, but Stetzer just revealed some shocking news based on personal conversations with church leaders. Here’s what he writes:

Based on my conversations with leaders from several denominations in the U.S. and Canada, I estimate that at least 400 church leaders (pastors, elders, staff, deacons, etc.) will be resigning Sunday. This is a significant moment of embarrassment for the church—and it should be. To be honest, the number of pastors and church leaders on Ashley Madison is much lower than the number of those looking to have an affair. Yet, there is still much that we must consider in the midst of the embarrassment.

Also, to be clear, in situations like these, we must confirm all things. Not everyone on the list signed themselves up. Among those who did, the sin and circumstances will be different. Many likely signed themselves up and didn’t actually go through with adultery. Regardless, though, trust has been shattered and hearts have been broken. But before we assume a name on a list means adultery has taken place, we must confirm all things and seek the full truth.

Now what? We know there are stories of pain and wounds behind each name on the list, but now an families, and an entire staff, congregation will experience the pain.

Stetzer poses the question, “What happens to the sheep when the shepherd is disqualified from pastoral ministry?”

This greatly affects churches, but it’s important to remember the mistake of one person is not the same as the church as an entity hurting you. It’s time to pray for our Church.

Stetzer gives helpful thoughts on what to do if your pastor is on the list. Read the full post here.

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Loving the Neighbor We Didn’t Choose

Loving the Neighbor We Didn’t Choose“Who is my neighbor?” a lawyer asked Jesus (Luke 10:29).

The lawyer had made the mistake of trying to catch the law’s author contradicting the law by asking how he should inherit eternal life. The author turned the tables by asking the lawyer what he thought the law said.

The lawyer then summarized the law in these two commands: We must love God with all we are (Deuteronomy 6:5) and love our neighbor as ourselves (Leviticus 19:18). The author agreed and said, “Do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:28).

But the author’s agreement pricked the lawyer’s conscience. So the lawyer sought to “justify himself” by asking, “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). The author answered with the Parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–37).

The Neighbor We Wouldn’t Choose

One observation from this application-rich parable is this: The neighbor we’re called to love is often not one we choose but one God chooses for us. In fact, this neighbor is often not one we would have chosen had not God done the choosing.

The Jew and the Samaritan wouldn’t have chosen the other as his neighbor. What made them neighbors was one man’s unchosen calamity and another man’s chosen compassion, but only in response to an unchosen, inconvenient, time-consuming, work-delaying, expensive need of another.

The shock of the parable is that God expects us to love needy strangers, even foreigners, as neighbors. But if this is true, how much more does he want us to love our actual, immediate neighbors, the ones we have to put up with regularly? Sometimes it is these neighbors we find most difficult to love. As G.K. Chesterton said,

We make our friends; we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbor. . . . [T]he old scriptural language showed so sharp a wisdom when [it] spoke, not of one’s duty towards humanity, but one’s duty towards one’s neighbor. The duty towards humanity may often take the form of some choice which is personal or even pleasurable. . . . But we have to love our neighbor because he is there — a much more alarming reason for a much more serious operation. He is the sample of humanity which is actually given us. (Heretics, chapter 14)

The idea of loving our neighbor is beautiful to think about so long as it remains an idealized, abstract concept. But the concrete reality of loving our neighbor, that all-too-real, exasperating person that we would not have chosen and might prefer to escape, strips the beauty away — or so we’re tempted to think. In truth, the beauty of idealized love is imaginary and the beauty of real love is revealed in the self-dying, unchosen call to love the sinner who “is actually given us.”

The Family We Didn’t Choose

Our very first neighbors are in our family. We don’t choose them; they are given to us. We are thrown together with them, warts and all, and called to love them, often with the kind of neighbor-love Jesus had in mind. Chesterton again:

It is exactly because our brother George is not interested in our religious difficulties, but is interested in the Trocadero Restaurant . . . [and] precisely because our uncle Henry does not approve of the theatrical ambitions of our sister Sarah that the family is like humanity. . . . Aunt Elizabeth is unreasonable, like mankind. Papa is excitable, like mankind. Our youngest brother is mischievous, like mankind. Grandpapa is stupid, like the world. (Ibid)

Many wouldn’t have chosen their families if the choice had been theirs. That’s why families are laboratories of neighbor-love, because families are a microcosm of the world.

The Community We’d Like to Un-Choose

If we are old enough and live in a region where we have options, we do choose our church community. But we don’t get to choose who else joins that community.

Invariably, after some time, our church community takes on similarities to our family. We must live with leaders who disappoint us and fellow members who see the world differently. Besides their irritating temperamental idiosyncrasies, they have different interests, ministry priorities, educational philosophies, and musical preferences than we do.

“Doing life” with them doesn’t end up looking or feeling like the community of our dreams — our idealized abstract concept. Perhaps we need a change, to find a different church where we can really thrive.

Perhaps. If the defects of the church community include things like ethical or doctrinal unfaithfulness, a change may be exactly what is needed for us to thrive.

But if our restlessness is due to the disillusionment of having to dealing with difficult, different people and defective programs, then perhaps the change we need is not in church community but in our willingness to love our neighbors, the ones God has given us to love.

This has always been God’s call on Christians. The early church was not all Acts 2:42–47. It was also Acts 6:1 and 1 Corinthians 11:17–22. Those first-generation churches were comprised of Jews and Gentiles, masters and slaves, rich and poor, people who preferred different leaders, people who strongly disagreed over nonessentials — people very much like the people in our church. It was hard doing life together then, like it is now (most likely it was harder then). That’s why we have 1 Corinthians 13 and Romans 12.

The distinguishing mark of the church has never been its utopic society but its members’ love for each other (John 13:35). And according to the Parable of the Good Samaritan, the glory of this love shines when it is costly and inconvenient.

“Go and Do Likewise”

If we ask with the lawyer, “Who is my neighbor?” we may not like Jesus’s answer. It may explode our dreams of love and community. Because instead of loving the neighbor we wanted, the soul-mate we would have chosen, Jesus may point us to the needy, different mess of a person in front of us — the one we feel like passing by — and say, “There is your neighbor.”

Perhaps he or she will be a stranger. But most likely he or she lives in our house, or on our street, or is a member of our church.

The parabolic Samaritan loved the wounded Jew as himself. And Jesus says to us what he said to the lawyer: “You go, and do likewise” (Luke 10:37).

Related Resources

Romans 1:28

What else is there to say upon seeing a gay “marriage” proposal taking place in a “church” service?

08/28/15 Crushed by Our Sin

READING: Ezekiel 5-8

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  I often think about my own anguish when I sin, particularly when conviction and guilt consume me. I grieve not only the wrong, but also the reality that I sometimes turn to the same wrong over and over again. Holy Spirit pounding is real.

In Ezekiel 5-8, the idolatry of Israel is again evident. A jealous God would “exhaust” His wrath on them (Ezek. 5:13, 6:12, 7:8), thus showing the foolishness of their idolatry and the holiness of the one true God. Yahweh had spoken, and the people would know that He is God (Ezek. 6:7, 6:10, 6:14, 7:4, 7:9,

What grips me, though, is this righteous God’s response to the sin of His people:

Ezek. 6:9  Then your survivors will remember Me among the nations where they are taken captive, how I was crushed by their promiscuous hearts that turned away from Me and by their eyes that lusted after their idols.

The sin of His people crushed God (He was “hurt by” [NASB]; “broken over” [ESV]; “grieved by” [NIV] their wrong) ; that is, God  is not unaffected by our sin. How must it bring grief when we choose to reject Him for idols that simply cannot compare to Him.  As one writer said, “The God who judges is the God who weeps.”

This image of my sin crushing God ought to be enough to cause me to say “no” when temptation occurs. I do not want to grieve the One whose Son has already borne the penalty for my sin.

PRAYER: “God, forgive me. Please just forgive me.”

11 Signs Your Church Is Moving Towards Extinction

In all the conversation among church leaders about the future of the church and declining attendance, the question remains, how’s your church doing?

Sometimes that can be difficult to discern.

Unless you’re in a free fall right now, it can be hard to know whether your congregation will thrive, survive or take a dive in the next decade.

But like most things in life, there are signs right now that will point to the direction in which you’re headed.

And if you can know now, why wait?

I am a firm believer that The Church (capital C Church) will survive and even thrive, but it will look different than it does now.

But in the meantime, amidst a rapidly changing culture, many individual congregations are endangered species. They could easily become extinct.

Change always brings dislocation, death and renewal. Personally, I want as many churches as possible to be on the side of renewal.

And that starts with an honest assessment of where you are as a church today.
In a rapidly changing culture, many churches are like endangered species. They could go extinct.

I believe there are signs you can observe today that will tell you whether your church is going extinct.

These signs are quick gut checks that you can assess easily that will hopefully lead to deeper conversation and change.

If you want to go deeper, listen in on my conversation with Thom Rainer who outlines some other characteristics he sees in dying churches. You can listen on iTunes here or tune in below.  (You can  also check out more from Thom here on his blog.)

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“I’m on the Ashley Madison List. Now What?”

I’ve had many conversations with pastors this week about the Ashley Madison list. Some have members on the list, and some are on the list. Slowly their names are coming out, and it’s heartbreaking to many.

And, now, talk of suicide has been in the media, yes, but also in some quiet talk among friends.

I don’t want to dwell on those tragedies, but in this brief article, my desire is to save marriages, maybe preserve relationships with God and perhaps even save some lives.

Millions of people are now facing the heartbreaking reality of this moment (and the sin that preceded it). I’ve made more than one call this week to people I know—and millions of others are weeping around kitchen tables because of their sin.

So, the question that I want to answer is based on a conversation I had this week, with someone else on the list that is now going public:

“I’m on the Ashley Madison list. Now what?” he asked.

This is a question that many are asking, but, if you are a follower of Jesus reading this, your situation is both similar and different than the world around you—so, before you do anything rash, let’s reason together.

Maybe someone sent you this article—and if they did, it is because they care for you—but the next few days are crucial to the rest of your life.

You are in the same situation as millions of others, but ultimately have a different response if you are a follower of Christ.

I’m not saying it will be easy, but I do want to give some ideas if you’ve received the news that your name is out, or you are on the list and know it will be soon.

The Darkness of the Moment

Some offenses are so big they look like Everest in the windshield, with no way over, no way around and no way through. Everything is rock, glaciers, crevasses and hundred-mile-an-hour winds.

Your actions at Ashley Madison hurt the people you love. Don’t hurt them again—and more.

For some offenders the likelihood of collateral damage—spouse, family, friends, co-workers, church—is too much to contemplate. The shame, heavy in the darkness of sin and vows abandoned, becomes unbearable in light of the enormity of the offense.

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Live Coram Deo

The term coram Deo (before the sight of God) has been used for millennia as a way to remind God’s people to live worthy of our calling. Unfortunately, instead of seeing the glory of the invisible God, our eyes tend to fall upon a thousand examples of sin and brokenness, our own and that of the world. We therefore wonder, How can we recognize more of God’s empowering presence? I think the following illustration may help.

Acting the Fourth Wall

Years ago, when I studied acting at the HB Studio in Manhattan, I learned Uta Hagen’s concept of the “fourth wall.” Simply put, in performance theater, the “fourth wall” is an imaginary wall located in between the audience and the stage. Actors are instructed to envision specific items on their fourth wall (eg. a sunset, farmland, urban sprawl, rolling ocean waves…whatever is required by the scene), keeping their eyes pointed toward this foreground.

In doing so, one’s face remains visible to the audience in a way that conveys integrity to his (dramatic) identity and calling. In other words, by giving attention to the unseen dimension, one’s mind, emotions, and countenance are lifted above the mundane theater environment in apprehension of a new world.

I remember when I first applied the fourth wall technique at the Studio. It was a monologue before an audience of fellow actors. Crazy as it may sound, it worked. I found the bright lights of the stage, against the backdrop of a dark theater, created a blurry haze on which I was able to visualize my character’s environment. (If my memory is correct, I portrayed a Sicilian mobster undergoing psychotherapy…a foreshadowing of Tony Soprano.) It was a transcendent moment.

Let me mention a couple of places where the analogy obviously breaks down. First, the presence of God is not a human invention, imagined and projected upon reality. God is ultimate reality, the One by whom all things have been created and are held together (Colossians 1). Secondly, instead of escaping from ourselves (by emulating other characters) we are called to be genuine. The more we encounter the living God, the more authentic we will be.

The more we encounter the living God, the more authentic we will be.


Living Coram Deo

With those qualifications said, here is how I think Hagen’s fourth wall can help us to live coram Deo. Just as an actor will concentrate upon his character’s foreground, we focus upon the reality of God’s presence, for it is there — in God himself — where we find inspiration and direction:

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory. (1 Peter 1:8)

Yes, sometimes we feel isolation and despair. But we have God’s promise, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5). Indeed, every hair of our heads is numbered (Matthew 10:30)…and if you’re bald, God knows every dysfunctional follicle. We will sometimes feel abandoned. We may feel defeated. We can even feel like hope has evaporated.

But this is not ultimate reality.

In truth, God is present; he is Immanuel, God with us. And he has promised to be with us unto the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). To what extent do we recognize this truth? When we do, our minds, emotions, and countenances are supernaturally elevated.

So where do we find inspiration to live coram Deo? It is in the realization that God is always leading us by his grace. As the Lord says through the Psalmist: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

How will you encounter the living God today?


The post Live Coram Deo appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Are Science and Belief in God Incompatible? (Podcast)

In audio podcast, J. Warner Wallace talks with John Stonestreet from the Chuck Colson Center about J. Warner’s new book, God’s Crime Scene. Are science and theism incompatible? Can we employ a detective’s investigative template to this question, and if so, what might we find? Does science demonstrate the existence of a Divine Intruder and Cosmic Designer? (For more information, visit

How to Move on When You’ve Been Betrayed

A while back, I received this desperate text from a hurting friend. She had discovered that some ministry leaders she greatly admired and who had played a significant role in her spiritual growth had been leading a double life—teaching one thing while covering a blatantly ungodly lifestyle.

Sleepless night. I am angry; I am hurt; I am scared; I am in unbelief and a host of other things. Been thinking all night how everything I believed was a lie and how I am a fool and realizing how the last fourteen years of my life has been built around two people who today I don’t even know. I hate it all.

My friend was experiencing the piercing bitterness of betrayal. If you have ever been through something similar, you know it’s natural to feel hurt, sick to your stomach, like your world has been rocked. But while those feelings are natural, they’re not a healthy place to live for an extended period. I trust my response to my friend will bring you comfort, hope, and some practical ideas for how to move on and find healing.


He will hold you when you cannot hold yourself.

This will not be an easy journey. But He will walk through it with you. He will hold you when you cannot hold yourself. I haven’t been quite where you are. But I have been through intense disillusionment where my faith was deeply shaken. I can tell you that He is faithful and true.

Here are a few thoughts and suggestions as you walk through this painful process:

  • Be honest with God about what you are feeling. He can handle it.
  • Get some sleep. You have been incredibly depleted by this whole situation. When we are physically depleted, we are more vulnerable to believing things about God that just aren’t true.
  • Listen to music that speaks strong biblical truth to your heart. Listen to “Hidden in My Heart” lullaby CDs! Keep them playing; listen over and over and over.
  • Park in the Psalms for a while. Read slowly. See how the psalmists cried out to the Lord in their pain and how in time He lifted their heads. Keep reading, even when you don’t believe it or feel it.
  • Find a few verses that speak to where you are right now; memorize them and keep reciting them over and over again. I have been doing that recently with Psalm 18:1–3.
  • Take walks. Listen to sermons or music as you do. Being sedentary fuels depression and unreliable emotions.
  • Don’t draw conclusions based on what you think or feel during the night hours. The enemy seems to create greater fear, doubt, and unbelief during the darkness.
  • Meditate on Jeremiah 17:5–10 and Psalm 118:8–9. How does the Lord want to transfer your trust from “men” to Christ?
  • These feelings you are experiencing will take time to deal with. That’s okay. It took me eighteen months to walk through my “darkest night of the soul.” The night will not last forever.
  • Guard against bitterness. I believe my journey would not have had to be as long as it was if I had not given in to bitterness.
  • Be careful about becoming isolated. When you are struggling, reach out to Him and to others. You can’t fight this battle alone. If you try, it will be easier for the enemy to take you under.
  • “Don’t doubt in the darkness what you have seen in the light.”

“Don’t doubt in the darkness what you have seen in the light.”

You will come through this, but not because you are strong—”We are weak . . . but He is strong.” In time, you will come to know and believe and love Him in even deeper ways than you ever imagined possible.

Be still before the Lord. Wait patiently for Him. He will not forsake you. He will deliver you. And He will make you an even stronger instrument in His hand.

Life Is Short. Love Your Spouse.

Life Is Short. Love Your Spouse.As the Ashley Madison leak continues playing out in the media, we’re reminded again and again about the lies of sin. The Ashley Madison Company, a cheating site that is (sadly) very successful, has the following motto: “Life is short. Have an affair.” The lies don’t come much more blatantly than this.

But if it’s a lie, why are so many falling for it? Why is it that Ashley Madison can boast of over 37 million users — and professing Christian among them? It’s because sin is just that enticing. And just that deceptive. To have sex with someone who is not your spouse can seem so exhilarating, especially if one’s marriage has become dull and boring. Sin clouds our vision, distorts our perception of reality, and if we haven’t fed our souls on specific truths to chase away the lies, one day we may find ourselves buying into the very lie we once thought was unthinkable.

What, then, are some strategies we can employ, while we’re in our right minds, to combat such temptations? How can we fight to believe the truth rather than lies, not only today, but next year and twenty years from now?

Think in terms of two categories: guarding your marriage and cultivating the garden of your marriage. Defensive strategies (guarding) fend off the negative and deceptive claims of sin, and offensive strategies (gardening) pursue what is right and true.

Guard Your Marriage

1. Read God’s warnings. Sexual immorality is listed among the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19, where we’re told that “those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” If you believe the Ashley Madison lie and pursue it, and you continue to do so without repentance, you will not make it to heaven. Take these warnings of Scripture seriously, and let them spur you on to obedience. (See also Hebrews 13:4.)

2. Be guarded in your relationships with members of the opposite sex. An older and godly mentor of mine shared an insight with me once that I have not forgotten. He commented on the role humor can play in extramarital attachments. Not that we can’t have a good sense of humor. But we should be wary of excessive joking and teasing with members of the opposite sex. It can become dangerous.

3. Be mindful of the influences you allow to shape your thinking. Are you regularly watching movies and shows that glorify fornication and adultery? Are you reading novels that romanticize infidelity? Avoid such influences, and do so relentlessly, sacrificially. In Mark 9, Jesus exhorts us in graphic terms, “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” I take that to mean, “If the romantic drama or sensual images are causing you to stumble, do what you can to cut them out of your life.”

Garden Your Marriage

1. Cling to God’s promises. Yes, there are scary warnings in the Bible, and also glorious promises. For instance, Jesus promises in the Beatitudes, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).

2. Talk, talk, talk with your spouse. Remember when you and your spouse were first dating? Remember the curiosity and inquisitiveness? Work to keep that alive. I am fascinated again and again by the new things I see and learn about my wife. We’ve been married for fifteen years, but I’m still getting to know her.

3. Go on dates. To foster those quality conversations, keep dating. Especially with kids, it’s essential to set aside time for undistracted, face-to-face interaction. Find enjoyable activities to do together. Try new experiences. Make new memories. Laugh a lot together.

4. Study and review God’s beautiful design for marriage. I believe the most powerful thing any Christian can do to strengthen their marriage is to deepen their understanding of what God intends marriage to be, and what he intends marriage to point to. This draws us outside of ourselves into something divine, something eternal — because the intimate union of a husband and wife in marriage was created by God to be a picture of Christ’s relationship to the church (Ephesians 5:32).

In light of this, and in the midst of a culture that tragically diminishes the sacredness of marriage, Christians should yearn for their marriages to be a compelling gospel parable.

Don’t fall for the Ashley Madison lie, or others like it. Yes, life is short; don’t waste it on short-lived highs that will leave you lower than you began. Take the necessary steps in your own life to affair-proof your marriage, as much as possible, for the glory of Christ.

Let the Ashley Madison leak and lies inspire you to both guard your marriage and cultivate the garden.

Related Resources

A La Carte (August 28)

I have a handful of new Kindle deals for you today. Next week will bring more. Today’s include Unbroken, Laura Hillenbrand’s great account of Louis Zamperini’s life ($1.99); Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told by Bradley Wright ($0.99); Managing God’s Money by Randy Alcorn ($4.61); When the Darkness Will Not Lift by John Piper ($4.61).

A Note to Christian Men

The title could probably be stronger, but the article is rock-solid. Matthew Holst writes about “the look”—the way men look at women when they allow their eyes to roam.

Fasting for Beginners

“Chances are you are among the massive majority of Christians who rarely or never fast. It’s not because we haven’t read our Bibles or sat under faithful preaching or heard about the power of fasting, or even that we don’t genuinely want to do it. We just never actually get around to putting down the fork.”

The Gospels

Westminster Books is both selling and giving away a neat new edition of the ESV that includes only the gospels in an ultra-readable format.

This Day in 1960: Mark Dever was born. Today he serves as pastor of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, president of 9Marks, and co-founder of Together for the Gospel. You can wish him a happy birthday at @MarkDever.

Five Ways to Deepen Your Preaching

Each one of Gavin Ortlund’s preaching tips is very good.

What We Do in Secret

Derek Thomas: “It is altogether possible to practice an outward display of piety—to ‘talk the talk’—without demonstrating any inner reality of godliness. This is true of every professing Christian, and it is especially true of those engaged in Christian ministry.”

10 Ways to Overcome Spiritual Weariness

Mark Altrogge assures us than “When we’re weary we can find fresh strength, joy and motivation in Christ. Here are 10 ways to do that…”

Southern Baptists Will Cut 600 to 800 Missionaries and Staff

Here is a concerning bit of news from Christianity Today: “Two months after promoting plans to send out ‘limitless’ numbers of missionaries, the International Mission Board (IMB) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) faces a financial crisis.”

Links I like

What do if my pastor is on the Ashley Madison list?

A good word here from Ed Stetzer, who estimates that at least 400 church leaders will be resigning this Sunday (or in the weeks to come):

I know this is hard, but quiet resignations and hushed conversations are not the answer. Pastoral repentance is different—the Bible says it is.

I know of pastors right now who are negotiating a quiet resignation after an Ashley Madison related affair—but you don’t get to do that if you have taken on the office of pastor.

Aaron Earls also offers a good encouragement here.

The Mark of Christianity That is Disappearing from Our Worship

Trevin Wax:

As a part of corporate worship, confession has historically been near the beginning of a service. Once we have been summoned to worship God, and once we have seen and begun to experience His presence, we are like Isaiah – falling on our knees before a majestic and holy God, amazed when seeing the brightness of His glory, ashamed when seeing our sin for what it is. Before we can move forward in worship, or move outward in mission, we fall down in repentance.

4 Kinds of Pastors

Nick Batzig:

About five years into the pastorate–trying to discern my own weaknesses and deficiencies–I started to realize that there are essentially four kinds of men (the lazy pastor aside) who labor in pastoral ministry–“the Idealist,” “the Visionary,” “the Worker Bee” and “the Connector.” While these categories are somewhat over-generalized and a bit artificial (since we are all very complex people), I have found them helpful to my own ministry. Those men who fall only into one of the four categories either have to labor hard to surround themselves with the other three, or they do an enormous disservice to the congregation they pastor because of the greatness of the imbalance they create. Finding men with all four of these characteristics is beyond rare, because they are borderline geniuses. While this rare breed is often used mightily by God for the growth and development of the church, such a man must work diligently to fight against trying to micromanage everyone and everything in the church; otherwise, he too will do a great disservice to the congregation that he has been called to pastor.

5 Questions on Creating an Organizational Culture

Eric Geiger:

I recently sat down with Todd Adkins and Barnabas Piper to discuss leadership and reading for the “Five Questions Leadership Podcast.” You should check out the podcast, which has skyrocketed on iTunes, for some great content. Here are the five questions we discussed about organizational culture, with a few notes I jotted down after each question.

Cultivating a gracious climate in your church

Jared Wilson:

A message of grace may attract people, but a culture of grace will keep them. What our churches need, not in exchange for a gospel message but as a witness to it, is a gospeled climate. But how do you get that? How do you develop in your church community a safe space to confess, be broken, be “not okay”? What are some ways to cultivate a climate of grace in your church?

Check out


7 Ways I Protect My Family Life in Ministry | Ron Edmondson
#5: Remembering that you are not everyone’s pastor.

4 Kinds of Pastors | Nicholas T. Batzig
“To be fair, you need all four of these kinds of pastors. Some men have one or more of these categories. Rarely does any pastor exhibit all four. But, God has beautifully woven together different personalities and gifts within the leadership of His church.”

What Commentaries Should You Read? | Paul Levy
Some practical thoughts and recommendations.

10 Ways to Overcome Spiritual Weariness | Mark Altrogge, The Blazing Center
Because we all experience it sometimes.

A Note to Christian Men | Matthew Holst, The Christward Collective
Reordering your thoughts to guard your heart.

Doctrine and Evangelism |Rich Holdeman, Gentle Reformation
“…when it comes to evangelism, we are tempted to oversimplify. What a blessing to see a living, breathing example of spiritual life born out of pure, unadulterated doctrine drawn from God’s life-giving Word.”

The Mark of Christianity That Is Disappearing from Our Worship | Trevin Wax

“My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List” | Ed Stetzer
Wisdom on how the church can handle the heartbreak of a pastor’s public sin.

Ashley Madison and the Death of Monogamy | Albert Moehler
“Life is indeed short, and so is the Seventh Commandment: ‘You shall not commit adultery.’”

Kindle Books

Divine Design: God’s Complementary Roles for Men and Women by John Macarthur $0.99.

Why Jesus?: Rediscovering His Truth in an Age of Mass Marketed Spirituality by Ravi Zacharias $2.99.

A Little Book for New Theologians: Why and How to Study Theology by Kelly Kapic $5.38.

Recommended New Book

Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion by Os Guinness $9.99.


Convictions and CUltural Change: Google Hangout With John Macarthur

Looks like they got a horror movie producer to do the lighting on John Macarthur!

Friday’s 5 to Live By



Brad Hambrick addresses 5 Ways to Establish an Environment of Safety in Which to Address PTSD.

Josh Duggar and Biblical Counseling

Julie Ganschow writes that:

“This week has brought more heartbreaking news for the popular Duggar family (19 Kids and Counting). Yesterday it was revealed that Josh Duggar paid for several accounts on an internet adultery site. My heart aches for his wife and family at this revelation. Sexual immorality is at epidemic levels, even in the church.”

Read the rest of Julie’s perspective in Anna, Ashley, and Josh: Adultery Unmasked.

Heath Lambert and the ACBC

Read the recent ACBC press release on Heath Lambert, their Executive Director, who will be staying at ACBC while also taking on a vital new local church role.

9 Parenting Truths from John Piper

Tim Challies summarizes 9 Parenting Truths from John Piper.

Ashley Madison and Who You Are Online

Last week, hackers released millions of email addresses related to the Ashley Madison site that fosters adulterous affairs. Tim Challies reflects on this in Ashley Madison and Who You Are Online.

The Daily Discovery (August 28, 2015)


(Click title to go to full article)

Strange Firony… – “I honestly, sincerely wish I could move on from the topic of the Charismatic Movement, but it just keeps on coming up.  It’s been almost two years since the Strange Fire conference, and it seemed like all the parties involved got their shots in.  The Cessationists made their reasonable appeals, made a lot of unreasonable rants, published their stuff, wrote their responses, etc.  The Continuationists basically cried about division and broad brushes.  The Pentecostals basically cried about division and broad brushes.  The Charismatics basically cried about division and broad brushes.  Charisma Magazine kept on doing everything possibly in their power toprovide an endless tsunami of amazing examples as to why the Strange FireConference was necessary (and possibly understated things: every single word in that statement links to a separate mind-numbing article, just for a few dozen examples).”

A Pastoral Perspective on Hillsong and the Issue of Association – “If you’re a church music minister, there’s a lot out there to choose from. It’s overwhelming, in fact. Strike out the songs with weak theology or inaccessible music, and it’s still overwhelming. Since the Reformation, the church has seen such a wealth of songs as to be nearly uncountable (Charles Wesley himself wrote more than 6,000). Even if your church is guilty of chronological snobbery and sings only songs written in the past few decades, you could still make weekly song selection into a full-time job. Part of the reason for such a recent glut of music is that what once was the purview of pastors and trained theologians (that is, writing song texts) has been taken up by musicians, often with little thought for the magnitude of the responsibility they’re assuming. Right or wrong, the songs we sing shape our understanding of who God is and what He does. And there’s plenty of material, both old and new, that’s weak or even heretical. But happily there’s much that is excellent and rich, especially in the past fifteen years.”

Controversial New Movie on Homosexuality to be Advertised in the Skies over San Francisco – “San Francisco residents may look up to see a rainbow in the sky next week, but it won’t indicate the typical support for gay rights. A new movie that over 1,000 LGBT supporters have warned the public not to watch will be advertised on a banner for two days over San Francisco.  While pro-LGBT viewers have slammed the film on online review sites, the film’s producer is not deterred. Ray Comfort, whose movies have been seen by millions, said, ‘Despite the calls for censorship and displays of intolerance, we’re hoping people will be open-minded enough to watch the film and come to their own conclusion.’”

Law-Keeping Cannot Save You – “People by nature want to boast in their own abilities, efforts, and achievements. Therefore, the cross of Christ is an offense to everyone. In this lab, John Piper looks at why we resist the message of the cross, as well as what the good news of the gospel says to our self-righteousness.”

Five Lessons for Serial Daters – “Every fall, young men and women descend on college campuses across the country freshly free from parental accountability and looking for love. It’s a unique time of life that likely won’t repeat itself. Never again will you have instant access to so many people of the opposite sex.”


Paul Washer – Greatest message ever told


Prideful Professing Christian Returns “Pride” Tract

I Think Homosexual Marriage is Okay

“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 28, 2015) appeared first on Entreating Favor.

Christian Headlines Daily – Friday, August 28, 2015

Top Headlines

Religious Freedom a ‘Reality’ in Recovering Central African Republic

Hillsong Pastor Launches Initiative to Pray for ISIS Rape Victims

Reading Crisis: Illiteracy in America is Widespread

Oldest Bible to be Displayed at British Museum

Donald Trump Plans to Hold Meeting with Religious Leaders

Christians Drawn to Star Wars Religion in Turkey

Vatican Supports Naming Square after Protestant Reformer

Josh Duggar Checks Himself into Long-term Treatment Center

Syrian Church Attack Kills 9, Wounds 50

Ted Cruz Tries to Rouse Evangelicals with Campaign against Planned Parenthood


Ashley Madison and the Death of Monogamy

From Suicide to Euthanasia: Devaluing Human Life

The 3 Zip Codes without Ashley Madison Users

A Warning about Trigger Warnings

What do Starbucks and Pope Francis Have in Common?

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!

wearing masksBut 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 patting-self-on-back-1should 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.

my mom thinks im coolOf 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

Greatest StoryGod’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).

Read more

What is The Gospel? is a website inspired by, 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, 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 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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