September 5-6, 2015 Truth2Freedom Christian Briefing Report


Good Works And The Christian Life

“While good works aren’t meritorious of salvation, they are a necessary component of Christian faith. As James states, “faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26). Paul makes this same point when he contends that we are not saved by good works but that we are saved for good works.

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The Next Front in the War on Religious Freedom

“Citizens and elected officials have every right to work to cut off taxpayer funding to businesses and institutions they find morally distasteful. But if the city council of Anytown, USA, were to concoct reasons to deny permits to gay business owners who support same-sex marriage, many Americans would find that rightfully appalling.”

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Why Same-Sex Marriage Will Never Measure Up To The Real Thing

“Marriage produces longer life spans, especially for men. In 2011, a survey of 90 studies found that single men die eight to 17 years earlier than married males. Life spans for single women decrease by seven to 15 years compared with their married counterparts.”

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The Narnia Church

“Lewis is Mr. Mere Christianity. He does not talk about the Church a lot, although he does so more than many seem to remember. The Screwtape Letters is a great place to look for it. But fair enough. When Lewis set out to champion the Christian faith in his highest profile setting, he explicitly (almost) left ecclesiology out.”

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Can the Church In Scotland Rise Again?

“We are also seeing the first signs of a renewed and reinvigorated Presbyterianism in Scotland in my own denomination, the Free Church. New churches are being planted, people are being converted and membership is increasing. The Free Church College has been relaunched as Edinburgh Theological Seminary, and there is a new leadership rising.”

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John Oliver’s Target Isn’t Crooked Televangelists — It’s Conservative Churches

“Earlier this month, Oliver did a segment on televangelists. He can be forgiven for being late to the topic since he was still a teenager in England when America got bored of talking about predatory preachers on television. The “prosperity gospel” frauds are still a problem, of course, and should be called out for it. But Oliver (or whoever writes for his teleprompter) isn’t really concerned about televangelists.”

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Most Of Our Children Are Average

Why do parents long to have above average children? And why are children willing to go along with their Herculean efforts to achieve such status? According to Time, and a similar story from, “You Can Do it Baby!”, it has everything to do with our drive for success.

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AF Colonel to Get Double Promotion to 2-Star General For Top Chaplain Post

“The 1986 Air Force Academy graduate said he came from a devout Baptist home in North Carolina and felt a call to the ministry in high school but was afraid of public speaking and became an industrial engineer in the service instead. He finally switched to the chaplaincy in 1996 and said he has loved having the spiritual role ever since.”

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What Grace Isn’t

Finding loopholes around church discipline–whether by leaving one church or another or by some other way–demonstrates a heart that fails to grasp that God disciplines sons and daughters. In other words, grace and steadfast love grounds discipline; hatred avoids discipline.

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The Pointless Campaign to “Save Marriage”

We face an extremist political ideology, akin to communism or fascism, where in fact it originated. But its political currency is not social class or national identity or race: It is sex. A radical sexual ideology that began with feminism but now includes homosexualism and perhaps other sexualities has wheedled its way to the commanding heights of political power. At stake are no longer simply abstract values; basic civil liberties and constitutional rights have already been lost for many, and the jails are already filling, though this is off the radar screen of most Christian leaders.

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Five Ways To Critique Without Crushing

A critique should not be a monologue but a dialogue. Work with the person to discuss action items and next steps. Without action steps, the team member leaves your office crushed with uncertainty about what is next. Actions steps provide a sense of closure to the issue and a path forward.

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Ashley Madison Is Just the Beginning

The brokenness of sexuality all around us demonstrates something far deeper than a crisis of culture. The brokenness of sexuality around us demonstrates a crisis of worship. We will not get out of this with better Internet filters or more accountability groups. We must recognize that technology will continue to offer fallen humanity what it thinks it wants—the illusion that we can transgress God and not surely die. Our only hope starts with the kind of vision which sees that, no matter the technology, we are never anonymous to God.

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Tullian Tchividjian Bounces Back?

How is the biblical standard of the peace and purity of the church upheld and strengthened by this move? How can the staff and people of Willow Creek PCA work with Tchividjian in an air of normalcy without turning a deaf ear to his history? And how will this ministerial culture affect people’s attention to the “peace and purity of the church?”

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Trump, the Power of Positive Thinking and American Evangelicalism

Trump doesn’t speak to the thin veneer of compulsory sensitivity training we’ve all endured. He speaks to the bones of who we are: people who love the Bible, are Protestant, and went to Sunday School. It doesn’t matter so much that he does not live a Biblical ethic in his personal nor professional life. It doesn’t matter that he fails to treat people as if they are all equally made in God’s image. What matters is that it satisfies the appetite developed by a cultural “can do” mantra.

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The Church’s Hummingbirds

The hummingbird in a nearly worshipful pose surveys the tower that by his efforts he has prevented others of lesser strength or cunning from drinking their fill and becoming renewed.  When the Church allows its main focus to shift to solving the ills of society, however noble and compassionate, without a foundation of the Living water that Jesus Christ provides, we become the hummingbirds who take satisfaction in guarding traditions, only allowing the ‘worthy’ to come in, and placing our righteousness on display as we tolerate the sin rather than engage those with the Gospel that heals all of mankind’s afflictions.

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Packer on Preaching

“Systematic theology is taxing intellectually and spiritually, but preaching consistently well is in many respects more so, because it combines deep biblical-theological knowledge with sharp historical awareness, cultural sensitivity and unvarnished spiritual stature. Only thus will preaching impact the hearts, habits, opinions, affections, and lifestyles of individuals and communities with moral force and intellectual persuasion.

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At A Berlin Church, Muslim Refugees Converting In Droves

Muslims have converted in Germany in recent years — and they are a tiny minority compared to the country’s overall 4 million Muslims. But at least for Berlin, Martens describes the number of conversions as nothing short of a “miracle.” And he says he has at least another 80 people — mostly refugees from Iran and a few Afghans — waiting to be baptized.

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God Bless Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis

Thus today, even when the people disagree with the decisions of the Supreme Court there is no remedy.  The people were misled into thinking that power was in their hands.  The people were flattered, but the people were deceived.  This seed of “We the Supreme Court” was planted in 1789 in Philadelphia, and it was solidified in 1865 at Appomattox. It was set in stone with the passage of the fourteenth amendment in 1868.

Read another opinion article: When does your religion legally excuse you from doing part of your job?

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Muslim family shoots Christian daughter & kills son-in-law

Muslim family shoots Christian daughter & kills son-in-law

Posted on September 5, 2015 by Christian Examiner

After hearing of their conversion, a Muslim family shoots their daughter and leaves her for dead after beating fatally shooting her husband.

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Mercy, Grace and Learning From Mistakes

We all continually fall short of the glory of God and fail to be who He wants us to be.  With sexual sin rampant in the world, all of us are in a constant spiritual battle to please God rather than feed our flesh. Word is coming out that several Christian leaders contact information was […]

The post Mercy, Grace and Learning From Mistakes appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Mercy-Grace-and-Learning-From-Mistakes.mp3 21.9 MB

The Danger of Islam and “Chrislam”

According to the 1 John 4:3 Islam is a religion of anti-christ.  Islam denies that Jesus Christ is God, instead referring to him as a prophet who is less than Muhammad. Muslim terrorists and fanatics continue to murder innocent Christians and others in the Middle East.  And yet the Bible teaches us to love and […]

The post The Danger of Islam and “Chrislam” appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Serving Two Masters

Jesus warned us sternly that no man can serve two masters–God and money.  That ultimately a man would choose to love one and hate the other.  And as Christians we can easily fool ourselves into thinking we are keeping money in its correct biblical perspective. There are Word Faith televangelists racking up millions of dollars […]

The post Serving Two Masters appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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It’s Turning Ugly Out There

Bolstered by the sad decision of the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized homosexual “marriage”, secular progressives are pressing their temporary advantage, doing all they can to suppress and silence the voices of Christian churches and ministries.  They’ve found an ally in the court system and an opponent (Christians) who seem apathetic as a whole. Are […]

The post It’s Turning Ugly Out There appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Its-Turning-Ugly-Out-There.mp3 23.6 MB

Not the law of the land

The Supreme Court ruling on homosexual marriage was based on judicial review. That’s a contentious issue in American jurisprudence, with a very checkered history. To say, without further ado, that judicial rulings are “the law of the land” is not a given:

WHI-1274 | Brand Me

In September we will be looking at issues of authority on the White Horse Inn. To better understand the world in which we live and how to bring the gospel to our culture, it is vital to understand how our culture has come to shape our values, our beliefs, and practices through mere participation in consumer habits and transactions. Unknowingly, we often erect idols which we come to confuse with Christ Jesus.

In today’s consumer culture, the customer is king. But do all our consumer preferences end up determining our identity? What if our desires and preferences have been shaped and manipulated by a culture of marketing? Who are we then? On this program the hosts will introduce this new White Horse Inn series as they explore issues related to personal identity in an age of consumerism and self-expression. Join us this week on the White Horse Inn as we seek to bring the gospel to a world that constantly seeks to fashion Jesus in its own consumer-friendly image.

“It’s really interesting when you see people say, ‘Well, this is where I am. This is my unique niche. I am …’ and they start bullet-pointing the things that identify them and you say, ‘you know, actually that is the major demographic of your age group. You’re not unique. You haven’t chosen anything except to be just like everybody else your age, your socio-economic, ethnic background. Basically, everybody who has the same playlist that you have, kind of dresses like that, kind of has certain characteristics like the ones you have.’
“On the one hand there’s this insatiable desire of all of our generations, especially in America, kind of a narcissistic culture, of being so unique, utterly different, and yet at the same time being passionately concerned about not being left behind, being part of the demographic you want to identify with. That’s kind of a weird irony in our culture.”
– Michael Horton
Consumer Culture
Consumerism is a social and economic order and ideology that encourages the acquisition of goods and services in ever-increasing amounts. A consumer culture can broadly be defined as a culture where social status, values, and activities are centered on the consumption of goods, services, and experiences. A large part of what you do, what you value and how you are defined revolves around consumption. Some theorists have regarded consumer culture as oppressive and manipulative, and some argue that it is a model of “consumer sovereignty.”
After World War II, consumer spending no longer meant satisfying an indulgent material desire. The American consumer was praised as a patriotic citizen in the 1950s, as someone contributing to the ultimate success of the American way of life. “The good purchaser devoted to ‘more, newer and better’ was the good citizen,” historian Lizabeth Cohen wrote, “since economic recovery after a decade and a half of depression and war depended on a dynamic mass consumption economy.”
Historian Elaine Tyler May argues that the new consumerism was a way to deemphasizing class differences while stressing traditional gender roles. The federal government and the American people saw that what had become defined as “the good life” was now within economic reach. For the working-class people could achieve the upward mobility they craved.
Consumerism has become one of the dominant global social forces that seeks a life of uninhibited consumption of goods, services, and experiences with almost total disregard for the global effects of such lifestyles. It is the pursuit of a good life narrated and marketed to through such practices which has cut across natural differences of religion, gender, class, ethnicity, and nationality. It is central to what Manfred Steger calls the new ‘global imaginary.’ This market driven vision of life has seeped into all aspects of life, turning even rebellion against the status quo into a new market niche ready for branding and consumption, wedding itself to the politics of uninhibited desire.
(Adapted from Lizabeth Cohen, A Consumer’s Republic, p. 119; James, Paul; Szeman, and Imre Globalization and Culture, Vol. 3: “Global-Local Consumption,” p. x; and “Consumerism” from the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia [2008])

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When You Can’t Find a Church

Jan Markell’s first guest is Dr. Ed Hindson. They discuss his newest book, “Target Israel: Caught in the Crosshairs of the End Times.” Find it here. Never has Israel been so marginalized, even by America. Then Jan Markell and Eric Barger talk to Dr. Randy White who says even as a Baptist pastor, he would have a hard time finding a church to attend. What has gone wrong and what is the answer to the church dilemma? We use the mobile app found at

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The relevance of millennial marketing

Jim Fletcher warns about young evangelicals being led astray

Tickle has been a key pied piper for fellow writers Brian McLaren, Doug Pagitt and Tony Jones (who announced two years ago that he simply no longer believes in original sin).

This is what is being pumped into the bloodstream of young evangelicals in America. Of course, the left loves to distort labels for their own disingenuous purposes, and many call themselves “evangelical,” all the while knowing they are nothing like traditional evangelicals.

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Criminalising Christianity, and Resisting Unjust Laws

Political prisoner Kim Davis knows all about unjust laws, and the criminalisation of Christianity. She is not the first, nor will she be the last to experience this firsthand. The homosexual militants, and the secular extremists and statists in bed with them, are now waging a full-scale war against all dissenters, and what we are now witnessing is just the tip of the iceberg.

The nearly 200 examples of Christians being jailed, fined and fired from their jobs documented in my latest book is only a smattering of the cases of persecution and anti-Christian bigotry. As more and more anti-Christian legislation is passed, and unjust laws become the norm, increasingly believers will need to revive the noble tradition of civil disobedience.

civil_disobedienceTo understand more clearly the biblical and theological rationale for such civil disobedience, please refer to this piece:

While such disobedience is part of the Christian heritage, incredibly I keep hearing rather confused Christians insisting that we can never break a bad law or resist unjust government edicts. These folks need to go back and read their Bibles and study some church history. The truth is, this has been a long-standing tradition in Scripture and in Christian history.

Simply consider some of those who defied the state, resisted unjust laws, and suffered the consequences. In Exodus 1:15-22 we read about the Hebrew midwives who chose to fear God while disobeying Pharaoh. They are even listed in the ‘Heroes of the Faith’ chapter in Hebrews 11 for their actions (v. 23). And in Jeremiah 38:1-6 we learn about how Jeremiah defied the Jewish officials, and ended up being chucked into a miry pit as a result.

We have of course Daniel, a government official in Babylon, defying the king and his unjust laws, as found in Daniel 6. Also, Daniel’s friends Shadrach Meshach and Abednego did the same thing, as we read about in Daniel 3. Peter of course went to jail rather than obey a law which violated the higher law of God.

As we read in Acts 4:18-20, Peter said to the authorities, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God” (v. 19). And in Acts 5:27-29 we find the apostles jailed for disobeying the authorities. Peter and the other apostles made it clear where they stood, “We must obey God rather than man”.

Throughout human history both Christians and non-Christians have appealed to the right to disobey tyrannical regimes, and to disobey unjust laws. Plenty of quotes can be provided in this regard. Here are just a few:

“An unjust law is itself a species of violence. Arrest for its breach is more so. Now the law of nonviolence says that violence should be resisted not by counter-violence but by nonviolence. This I do by breaking the law and by peacefully submitting to arrest and imprisonment.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They think that, if they should resist, the remedy would be worse than the evil. But it is the fault of the government itself that the remedy is worse than the evil. It makes it worse. Why is it not more apt to anticipate and provide for reform? Why does it not cherish its wise minority? Why does it cry and resist before it is hurt? Why does it not encourage its citizens to be on the alert to point out its faults, and do better than it would have them? -Henry David Thoreau

But now what? Why, now comes my master, takes me right away from my work, and my friends, and all I like, and grinds me down into the very dirt! And why? Because, he says, I forgot who I was; he says, to teach me that I am only a nigger! After all, and last of all, he comes between me and my wife, and says I shall give her up, and live with another woman. And all this your laws give him power to do, in spite of God or man. Mr. Wilson, look at it! There isn’t one of all these things, that have broken the hearts of my mother and my sister, and my wife and myself, but your laws allow, and give every man power to do, in Kentucky, and none can say to him nay! Do you call these the laws of my country? Sir, I haven’t any country, any more than I have any father. But I’m going to have one. I don’t want anything of your country, except to be let alone, to go peaceably out of it; and when I get to Canada, where the laws will own me and protect me, that shall be my country, and its laws I will obey. But if any man tries to stop me, let him take care, for I am desperate. I’ll fight for my liberty to the last breath I breathe. You say your fathers did it; if it was right for them, it is right for me! -Harriet Beecher Stowe

The famous German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer knew all about resistance to tyranny, and he knew all about paying the price for doing so. As he wrote: “Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

Of course Martin Luther King, Jr. penned his now famous “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” in April 16, 1963. In it he said:

One may well ask: “How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?” The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.”

And again:

How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.

One more: “An individual who breaks a law that conscience tells him is unjust, and who willingly accepts the penalty of imprisonment in order to arouse the conscience of the community over its injustice, is in reality expressing the highest respect for the law”

Resistance to tyranny

Indeed, America of course is built on the notion of resistance to tyranny, and the obligation of free men to resist oppressive states. The Founding Fathers, and others, spoke to this often:

“Resistance to tyranny becomes the Christian and social duty of each individual. … Continue steadfast and, with a proper sense of your dependence on God, nobly defend those rights which heaven gave, and no man ought to take from us.” -John Hancock, the first man to sign the Declaration of Independence

“The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.” -Thomas Jefferson

“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” -Thomas Jefferson

“To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.” -Thomas Jefferson

“Disobedience to tyrants is Obedience to God.” -Benjamin Franklin

“It is because men are sinners that justice can be achieved only by a certain degree of coercion on the one hand, and by resistance to coercion and tyranny on the other hand.” -Reinhold Niebuhr

More recently Walter Williams put it this way:

Decent people should not obey immoral laws. What’s moral and immoral can be a contentious issue, but there are some broad guides for deciding what laws and government actions are immoral. Lysander S. Spooner, one of America’s great 19th-century thinkers, said no person or group of people can “authorize government to destroy or take away from men their natural rights; for natural rights are inalienable, and can no more be surrendered to government — which is but an association of individuals — than to a single individual.”
French economist/philosopher Frederic Bastiat (1801-50) gave a test for immoral government acts: “See if the law benefits one citizen at the expense of another by doing what the citizen himself cannot do without committing a crime.” He added in his book “The Law,” “When law and morality contradict each other, the citizen has the cruel alternative of either losing his moral sense or losing his respect for the law.”

The late great Francis Schaeffer spoke about this often, including in a talk delivered in 1982 to the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida. He is worth quoting at length:

Throughout the whole history of the Christian Church, (and again I wish people knew their history. In A Christian Manifesto I stress what happened in the Reformation in reference to all this) at a certain point, it is not only the privilege but it is the duty of the Christian to disobey the government. Now that’s what the founding fathers did when they founded this country. That’s what the early Church did. That’s what Peter said. You heard it from the Scripture: “Should we obey man?… rather than God?” That’s what the early Christians did.
Occasionally – no, often, people say to me, “But the early Church didn’t practice civil disobedience.” Didn’t they? You don’t know your history again. When those Christians that we all talk about so much allowed themselves to be thrown into the arena, when they did that, from their view it was a religious thing. They would not worship anything except the living God. But you must recognize from the side of the Roman state, there was nothing religious about it at all – it was purely civil. The Roman Empire had disintegrated until the only unity it had was its worship of Caesar. You could be an atheist; you could worship the Zoroastrian religion… You could do anything. They didn’t care. It was a civil matter, and when those Christians stood up there and refused to worship Caesar, from the side of the state, they were rebels. They were in civil disobedience and they were thrown to the beasts. They were involved in civil disobedience, as much as your brothers and sisters in the Soviet Union are. When the Soviet Union says that, by law, they cannot tell their children, even in their home about Jesus Christ, they must disobey and they get sent off to the mental ward or to Siberia. It’s exactly the same kind of civil disobedience that’s represented in a very real way by the thing I am wearing on my lapel tonight.
Every appropriate legal and political governmental means must be used. “The final bottom line”- I have invented this term in A Christian Manifesto. I hope the Christians across this country and across the world will really understand what the Bible truly teaches: The final bottom line! The early Christians, every one of the reformers (and again, I’ll say in A Christian Manifesto I go through country after country and show that there was not a single place with the possible exception of England, where the Reformation was successful, where there wasn’t civil disobedience and disobedience to the state), the people of the Reformation, the founding fathers of this country, faced and acted in the realization that if there is no place for disobeying the government, that government has been put in the place of the living God. In such a case, the government has been made a false god. If there is no place for disobeying a human government, what government has been made GOD.
Caesar, under some name, thinking of the early Church, has been put upon the final throne. The Bible’s answer is NO! Caesar is not to be put in the place of God and we as Christians, in the name of the Lordship of Christ, and all of life, must so think and act on the appropriate level. It should always be on the appropriate level. We have lots of room to move yet with our court cases, with the people we elect – all the things that we can do in this country. If, unhappily, we come to that place, the appropriate level must also include a disobedience to the state.
If you are not doing that, you haven’t thought it through. Jesus is not really on the throne. God is not central. You have made a false god central. Christ must be the final Lord and not society and not Caesar.

Not only was America founded by civil disobedience and resistance to tyrannical laws, but this has been part and parcel of the case for liberty over many centuries. Biblically and historically, we have sound precedence to disobey unjust laws on occasion, and as a last resort, and to be willing to face the consequences for doing so.

This must be done prayerfully and carefully of course. As I explain in more detail in the article I link to above, rebellion and disobedience in themselves are no virtues, and are normally great evils. So civil disobedience is something that must be done only in extreme circumstances, and must be undertaken with the greatest of caution and prudence.

But when it becomes necessary to so, then we must thus engage. Kim Davis, who broke no laws, but in fact faithfully upheld the laws of the state of Kentucky, is now suffering for her obedience to Christ. May God raise up millions of other committed Christians who will remain true to Christ, and stand against evil wherever it is encountered.

And if need be, who will pay the price to resist evil laws and tyrannical governments.

Pope Francis U.S. Visit 2015 Schedule and Dates: Pontiff Invites Rick Warren to Speak at Philadelphia Conference on Family

According to The Gospel Herald Ministries:

Rick Warren and Pope Francis

Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, has announced he will be speaking in Philadelphia later this month at the World Meeting of Families event to commence Pope Francis’ highly anticipated visit to the United States.

Warren announced his plans to attend the event during the Sunday morning worship service at the Lake Forest, CA church.

“Next month, Pope Francis is coming to America for a world gathering on families,” he told the congregation. “I’m not a Catholic, and we have many differences with Catholics. But they love the Lord and we have much in common with that – we believe in the Bible, and the Trinity, and in Jesus and the resurrection.”

“There are probably going to be a million people in Philadelphia at this final event with Pope Francis, and he’s asked me to be the final speaker,” the Purpose Driven Life author continued amid cheering and applause.

Heidelberg 123: The Second Petition—Your Kingdom Come (2)

We have already seen some of the difficulties that come with both an over-realized and under-realized eschatology. In contrast to both we should see that the Gospel of Mark presents our Lord Jesus as proclaiming neither a fully realized, earthly kingdom nor a purely future kingdom. “Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, […]

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Harvard allows students to register with gender neutral pronouns reports:

Students registering at Harvard University now have the option to choose their preferred gender pronouns, including gender neutral terms like “ze, hir, hirs,” and “they, them, theirs.”

The Harvard Crimson reports that the Faculty of Arts and Sciences’ registration tool, which typically asks students to write down their gender marker in terms of “male,” “female,” and “transgender,” now for the first time allows students to write in their preferred pronouns when they registered this week.

The Timid Sheep

It does not take much reading in the newspaper or media sites to realize that our culture is rapidly changing. I am not saying that our culture is going from Christian to secular (that’s another discussion);  but I do believe that we are seeing less toleration of Christianity, especially among the self-proclaimed tolerant.

Fear sets in, doesn’t it? Timidity replaces trust at times. Will the church press on courageously, trusting in Christ’s purposes or will we retreat due to the fear that overwhelms us?

This is going to prove to be a pastoral problem in the church. As the church faces this new age of forced-toleration, how ought we respond to those who who suffer under the fear and timidity that may plague our souls?

Martin Bucer (1491-1551), gives us wisdom here. He writes:

Those who become timid, so that the cross and tribulation become too heavy for them, must be addressed kindly and comfortingly, faithfully impressing on them the goodness of God and the salvation of Christ, so that they may recognize and believe that our dear God’s intentions towards them are entirely fatherly and faithful in all the sufferings he sends them. They are always to be dissuaded from thinking about their sins and all unhappiness, and to be uplifted into the mercy of God and the salvation of Jesus Christ.

Friends, you will have conversations in the next several weeks and months that will include a confession of fear and timidity from a sincere brother or sister in Christ. This is our time. As those anxieties are brought forth, we must remember to be as shepherds who strengthen the sheep, not disciplining or harsh in our care and speech, but pointing those with a lack of courage or strength to the one whose intentions are always fatherly and faithful. We must respond with kindness and comfort as we point them to the Chief Shepherd of their souls.

Use wisdom in your conversations and discernment as you comfort the lambs of God. Point them to the one who has overcome the world.

Why I do not recommend Kendrick Brothers’ new movie, “War Room”, part 1

Elizabeth Prata of The End Time reviews the Christian film “War Room.”  In part 1 she sheds light on some of the glaring theological problems with the film and also deals with other Kendrick brothers’ productions, such as “Fireproof” and “Courageous.” The brothers may have good intentions in making “Christian” films, however in so doing they […]

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The Cost Of Social Collapse

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What we can learn from the arrest of Kim Davis

Kim Davis made a choice to follow her religious conviction instead of obeying man.  Is this the beginning of the end of religious conscience and freedom? From The Christian Post’s Michael Brown: It is jarring to write the words “the arrest of Kim Davis,” speaking of the Kentucky clerk who was remanded to jail for […]

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Church Discipline, Contemporary Grace Style

Rick Phillips of Reformation 21 weighs in on the Tullian Tchividjian affair.  Many of Tullian’s supporters are unaware that he is a leading voice in the  Contemporary Grace Movement (hypergrace). Phillips addresses it here. Billy Graham and his grandson Tullian Tchividjian I have so far refrained from public comment on the resignation of Tullian Tchividjian in […]

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Tradionalism Was Never Going To Hold

Many years before Obergefell, same-sex marriage activists accurately identified the underbelly of their opponents’ political and cultural position: Most support for “traditional marriage” was not based on a sophisticated and principled conviction, but rather the social intuition that supporting marriage-as-it-has-always-been was the safe, respectable opinion. What LGBT activists needed to do, then, was not so […]

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God’s Crime Scene: Following the Evidence of Creation

by John Stonestreet

Standing on the porch of a locked house, rookie homicide investigator J. Warner Wallace peered into the living room. He could see a man on the floor in a pool of blood, gun by his side.

Now the question he had to answer: Was this a murder, an accident, or a suicide?

Entering the room with other detectives, Wallace, quickly surmised that the man had killed himself. But he hadn’t looked closely enough. Wallace’s more experienced team leader found clues indicating someone had come in from outside the room: a piece of mud on the floor, footprints, and the fact that the murder weapon was lying on the left side of the victim even though he was right handed.

The more evidence amassed, the more it became clear that the man was murdered.

As a detective, Wallace learned to follow the evidence wherever it led—to put aside his assumptions and his pre-conceived ideas. And in his fabulous new book, “God’s Crime Scene,” Wallace uses his detective skills and his training as an apologist to examine whether the universe was created by a divine intruder outside the room of natural existence or not.

For years, Wallace was a committed atheist. “I really had a sense,” he said, “that eventually science would have an answer for every important question we could possibly ask about our existence, about the nature of the universe, about how the universe got here, and about how biological creatures like humans evolved on the planet.”

Then Wallace cracked open a Bible…


God’s Crime Scene: Following the Evidence of Creation

Judge Who Jailed Kim Davis Ordered Students Who Opposed Homosexuality to Be Re-Educated

According to Christian News Network:

Following yesterday’s jailing of a county clerk for stating that it is not possible for her to obey an order to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals against God’s law, it is now being noted that the same federal judge also once ordered Kentucky students to be re-educated about homosexuality despite their objections.

In 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)—the same group that filed suit against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis—sued the Boyd County Board of Education to force it to agree to allow a “gay-straight” alliance club to meet at Boyd County High School. A number of parents had strongly opposed the group following its initial formation, with approximately 70 attending a school council meeting to speak out on the matter.

Tullian Tchividjian’s Hiring as Ministry Director Shortly After Affair, Divorce Raises Concerns

Christian News Network has the latest in the Tullian Tchividjain saga. Tullian landed a job with Willow Creek Presbyterian Church in Florida! For those who are wondering, WCPC has no connection to Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago and its senior apostate pastor Bill Hybles.

Less than three months following his resignation as senior pastor of a megachurch over his admission to having an affair, and less than two weeks after he filed for divorce from his wife, Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of evangelist Billy Graham, has been hired by Willow Creek Presbyterian Church in Florida to serve as director of ministry development.

As previously reported, Tchividjian, 42, the son of Virginia Graham, took over the pulpit of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in 2009 following the passing of founder D. James Kennedy. However, the selection divided the congregation, as some approved and others disapproved of his leadership. Several months after he accepted the job, Kennedy’s daughter and others began calling for his removal.

Judge Who Jailed Kim Davis Ordered Students Who Opposed Homosexuality to Be Re-Educated

(CN) — Following yesterday’s jailing of a county clerk for stating that it is not possible for her to obey an order to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals against God’s law, it is now being noted that the same federal judge also once ordered Kentucky students to be re-educated about homosexuality despite their objections.

In 2003, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)—the same group that filed suit against Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis—sued the Boyd County Board of Education to force it to agree to allow a “gay-straight” alliance club to meet at Boyd County High School. A number of parents had strongly opposed the group following its initial formation, with approximately 70 attending a school council meeting to speak out on the matter.

Federal Judge Orders County Clerk to Jail Until She Agrees to Issue ‘Gay Marriage’ Licenses

(CN) — A federal judge has ordered a Kentucky clerk to be placed behind bars until she complies with his order to issue marriage licenses to homosexuals despite her Christian identity.

U.S. District Judge David Bunning, appointed to the bench by then-president George W. Bush, declared Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in contempt of court this morning after she explained in tears that it is not possible for her to comply with the order because of her Christianity.

Missouri Students Protest ‘Transgender’ Teen’s Use of Girl’s Locker Room, Restroom

(CN) — Students at a public high school in Missouri walked out of class Monday in protest of a male student who is being allowed to use the girls’ locker and restrooms.

According to reports, approximately 150 students at Hillsboro High School spent two hours expressing concerns over the permissions granted to a 17-year-old senior who identifies as “Lila Perry.” Perry, born a male, says that he began having female inclinations at age 13. He had been living as a homosexual male up until last year, when he donned a wig and female clothing.

‘You Have to Do It’: Texts Surface in Case of Teen Charged with Urging Boyfriend to Commit Suicide

(CN) — Text messages have been released in the case of a teenage girl who is facing involuntary manslaughter charges for urging her boyfriend to commit suicide, and staying with him on the phone until he went through with it.

Michelle Carter, 18, was officially charged in February in the death of her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, also 18, who struggled with depression. He died by carbon monoxide poisoning after gassing himself in his pickup truck in the parking lot of the Fairhaven, Massachusetts Kmart.

Other Top News Stories of Interest:

The ‘Before and After’ for This Little Girl in Just One Year Will Blow You Away

Sometimes we can be guilty of consuming the news but not processing the pain, terror and loss of others. For most of us, the horror is happening far away, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

Laughter can turn to tears so quickly. Step into another’s shoes just for a moment. Watch this. It’s powerful.

As the Syrian crisis worsens, learn how you can help today wherever you are.

May God bless you with discomfort,
At easy answers, half-truths, and superficial relationships,
So that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger,
At injustice, oppression and exploitation of people,
So that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears
To shed for those who suffer pain, rejection, hunger, and war,
So that you may reach out your hand to comfort them
And turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness
To believe that you can make a difference in the world,
So that you can do what others claim cannot be done
To bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

– Franciscan Benediction

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Pope Francis U.S. Visit 2015 Schedule and Dates: Pontiff Invites Rick Warren To Speak at Philadelphia Conference on Family

LTRP Note: Posted for informational and research purposes. Courtesy Understand the Times By Leah Marieann Klett The Gospel Herald Ministries Rick Warren, senior pastor of Saddleback Church, has announced he will be speaking in Philadelphia later this month at the World Meeting of Families event to commence Pope Francis’ highly anticipated visit to the United […]

The Line between Rule of Law and Civil Disobedience

Kim Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky who objects to same-sex marriage, stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether, was ordered by a federal judge to resume her duty, refused to comply, and now is in jail for contempt of court. (Take a moment to read Joe Carter’s explainer on this story to catch up.)

I’m still working through what I think about this situation. It’s difficult because there are so many issues involved and goods to weigh, and I’m still trying to separate my feelings about the unfairness of singling out Kim Davis (as opposed to other officials who refuse to do their job) from the question of what Kim Davis should do. To help you think through this, there’s a symposium discussing these issues over at Breakpoint:

[B]ecause Davis is a government employee, it’s a complicated situation with many angles. Christians are divided on Davis’ actions, and the response by authorities. At issue are questions about the nature of religious liberty, the duty of Christians in government, and what godly civil disobedience looks like.

Here are a few excerpts from the symposium:

From Andrew Walker (this one most closely mirrors where I stand as of now):

The Supreme Court is where ultimate blame rests involving Kim Davis. Court rulings that are truly rooted in justice should seamlessly integrate into a state’s laws. Rulings should not circumvent the democratic process, pre-empt state action, and leave civil society in a state of fractious tumult. Unfortunately, that’s what Obergefell did, and now we’re seeing its disastrous effects in state jurisdictions such as Kentucky. That, and needless escalation in terms of incarceration, coupled with government inaction has brought us to the situation we’re in.

We must recognize the crucial difference between the religious liberty claims of private citizens and government officials. While government employees don’t lose their constitutional protection simply because they work for the government, an individual whose office requires them to uphold or execute the law is a separate matter than the private citizen whose conscience is infringed upon as a result of the law. It means the balancing test is different when it comes to government officials because of their roles as agents of the state. Government officials have a responsibility to carry out the law. When an official can no longer execute the laws in question due to an assault on conscience, and after all accommodating measures have been exhausted, he or she could work for change as a private citizen, engaging the democratic process in hopes of changing the questionable law.

From Shane Morris:

[W]e do and should discriminate when it comes to right and wrong, and natural law, which supersede the power of government, contrary to what Judge David Bunning says. This is the very concept that inspired the American Revolution, and a Civil Rights activist generations later from a Birmingham jail cell: There is a Law above the law. And any manmade law in contradiction to it is “no law at all.”

A Christian woman is in jail for upholding the definition of marriage set in place at creation against one just invented by Anthony Kennedy. I don’t feel comfortable telling her she’s wrong, or that she should just do her job. She’s standing on the side of reality, of natural law, and God, against a depraved fantasy.

From Michael Brown:

[W]hat cannot be debated is that the national outrage against Kim Davis has nothing to do with her refusing to obey the law and everything to do with her Christian beliefs. Had she found herself on the opposite end of the conflict and had she stood for “gay rights,” refusing to obey a law that she felt discriminated against them, she would be praised from coast to coast.

I encourage you to read everyone’s full comments over at Breakpoint. At the end of the post, there are links to several articles from different viewpoints that I’ve also found helpful, and there are plenty more out there. Ryan Anderson recommends a way forward where beliefs are accommodated and licenses are still obtained. Rod Dreher comes down hard on Davis and warns her actions will bring about serious consequences for religious liberty. Douglas Wilson takes the opposite position, saying Davis should not back down.

This is not a simple issue. Rule of law is what makes a good society possible, and the value we place on it should be great—it should never be compromised as part of a regular strategy for getting what we want. (I suspect the fact that we don’t believe the other side feels this way is fueling a lot of the support for Davis’s actions.) But there is also a time and place for civil disobedience, grounded in a Law higher than man’s, against an unjust law. Determining where the line should be drawn between them is not a simple task, and it deserves careful thought.

The Promise of God in Threatening Pain

The Promise of God in Threatening PainWe live in a society that is petrified of suffering. Each day starts with a thousand moments of flinching at pain — at our alarm clocks, at the shower’s cold water, at missed emails that threaten loss and tragedy. We resent suffering, and what it could mean for us. Job bewails that suffering looms with the shadow divine disappointment: “I become afraid of all my suffering, for I know you will not hold me innocent” (Job 9:28).

Last night, I bolted onto the football field to face the Miami Dolphins. I was eager, surging with life, energy, and strength. It was the last preseason game of my third season in the NFL. The ball snapped, and with a snap of his fingers, God mercifully showed me how small and weak I am compared to his grand and glorious sovereignty over all creation.

As I was hit from the side in my knee, I felt the pop, fell to the ground in excruciating pain, and knew my year was over before it had even begun.

In the NFL, it’s easy to publicly thank God when we win, when we are victors, when we feel like gods. I want to take the opportunity to thank God when I am afraid — I want to thank him for three things:

  1. his promise to care for me in the midst of threatening pain;
  2. his meaning, which he spins out of the thread of suffering; and
  3. his joy, which resonates most beautifully when superficial pleasures fade.

God’s Sovereign Care

A few wrong angles, and I was hit, falling to the ground in pain. All of a sudden, five people ran out to me. My flesh and Satan would have me believe a thousand stories in that moment. “You’re done.” “You’re worthless.” “You’re going to lose everything.” “You can’t keep up.” “You’re pathetic.” But the more real story echoed through my heart. As I lay on the field, God’s Spirit through the word whispered in my ear, “We know that for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28).

That verse was a promise to me. God works all things together for good. It was like the Holy Spirit was repeating it in my heart, over and over again, with each surge of pain through my knee, “For those who love me, I work all things together for good.” God cares for his people. We can’t bank on prosperity-gospel promises. They can’t stand the test of God’s curse over the world. But God promises to care for us better than any worldly shepherd.

When we trust in the richest powers of the world, God says through Jeremiah, “All your lovers have forgotten you; they care nothing for you” (Jeremiah 30:14). But God still works to move the gospel into our lives through people who delight in Christ: “I will set shepherds over them who will care for them, and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall any be missing, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:4).

“Neither shall any be missing.” Not even me. Not even when I fail. Not even when I have nothing to offer. “Declares the Lord.” It’s his decree: Garrett shall not be left outside his care. Praise Jesus.

God’s Meaning-Making Sovereignty

In that moment of pain, I had a strange “peace of God that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). I had heartfelt assurance that everything was going to be okay. But I was assured of something more important:

This season of suffering, this injury, is a gift.

Not only was I reminded of Romans 8:28, that all things work for good, but also that what happened was a gift in so many ways. Suffering is always another opportunity for God to be glorified, and for his satisfying gospel to be made known. King David holds the two in clear tension: “The Lord upholds all who are falling and raises up all who are bowed down. . . . You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing” (Psalm 145:14, 16). David isn’t saying that God will never let us suffer. He is saying that God fulfills the longing which our suffering brings to the surface.

God makes meaning out of our suffering, because he is sufficient in it. Through suffering, I see in my own heart these desires given to the throne. That’s God’s biggest gift in suffering — to have something taken away from you, and still find joy. A family member. A job. An idol. God satisfies us, not in spite of our unwanted circumstances, but in and through them.

God’s Joy Deeper Than Worldly Pleasures

How does God satisfy us in suffering? Through joy.

If God’s existence has ever been affirmed to me, it has been affirmed in suffering. Like we said above, when God gives us peace, it is peace that transcends understanding. But when God gives us joy, it is “that I may know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death, in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10). The suffering that we experience with Christ is not the searing pain of a physical experience. It is the emotional pain of suffocating our parasitic idols — the labor pains of joy.

Our natural inclination is to experience fear. Our hearts by instinct respond to suffering with fear, frustration, and questioning God’s sovereignty.

That’s what God is already showing me in this and through this. He is not only showing me peace, but delight and joy. It’s a gift, and it shows me the joy of an intimate and loving and compassionate God.

Sufferers, Wait for God

Return with me to Job. We saw him in Job 9, on the ropes, getting beaten up, wondering whether God was the one wearing the gloves. But James called him steadfast. That’s an odd description for Job. How was Job steadfast? He hung in there long enough to joyfully rest in God’s love for him. “Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful” (James 5:11).

Sufferers, wait for God. More than that — wait with me for him. Let’s see what the Lord’s purpose is for us, the one who is compassionate and merciful to his sheep whom he will not forget.

Related Resources

Judicial supremacy

According to Princeton law prof. Robert P. George,

Judicial supremacy is an anti-constitutional doctrine, not a constitutional principle. Cases such as Dred Scott v. Sandford, Roe v. Wade, and Obergefell v. Hodges are unconstitutional usurpations by the judiciary of the constitutional authority of the American people acting through their elected representatives in the Congress and state legislatures. The edicts handed down in these decisions are not “the law of the land” and should not be treated as such by the people or other public officials. What Abraham Lincoln said in rejecting the Court’s lawless and usurpative ruling in Dred Scott remains true: to accept judicial supremacy would be for the American people to “resign their government into the hands of that eminent tribunal.” In the debate between Abraham Lincoln and Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney, the author of the Dred Scott opinion, we should side with the Great Emancipator. To do otherwise is to abandon republican government and accept, to quote Thomas Jefferson, “the despotism of an oligarchy.”

For an Example of Lawlessness, See the Supreme Court, Not Kim Davis

Do You Want More Joy? Practice These Two Things

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” —Albert Einstein

Six months ago, a man came to me looking for help. While his life looked blessed and rich from the outside, inside his soul had grown hollow and numb. He had no joy. Nothing moved him. Though he knew many things were still important to him, like his work and his family, it had all become abstract and academic. Nothing he did seemed to mean anything, or make any difference in his soul.

I know his story is not uncommon among men, and women too. We think we want a life that looks a certain way: to have a certain level of income, to live in a certain kind of home, to have this many kids or that many toys.

But what we really want is a life that feels a certain way: to feel our souls alive and truly free, to feel connected in deeply meaningful ways to others in love, to feel our lives matter and that what we do makes a difference for good in the world.

But after spending years trying to accomplish “A” (a life that looks a certain way), we’re devastated to discover it fails to produce “B” (a life that feels as we desire). Our joy is sucked away like oxygen from the air, and we find ourselves gasping for relief, wondering where we went wrong, and desperate to fix it.

Thankfully, the beginning of recovery doesn’t require a massive overhaul of the life you’ve built. It doesn’t mean quitting your job, or going back to school for a different degree, or moving to some exotic location where you’ve always wanted to live. Some of these changes may (or may not) come in the course of time, but at the beginning such drastic moves are generally not necessary or wise. (The best thing is to get your joy back first, then decide where you want to go from there.)

The Recovery of Joy requires only two things, and both of them are daily practices you can start doing today. They are:

GRATITUDE: The practice of gratitude produces joy. How? It shifts your focus from what’s missing to what’s already here and activates your capacity to enjoy it (“en-joy” … get it?). The practice is simple. Before you go to bed each night, write down three things you are grateful for that day, and spend a minute thanking God for them. That’s it. Do this every day for six months, and your joy will multiply a thousand fold.

WONDER: Remember what it was like to be a kid watching fireworks on the Fourth of July? That’s what wonder is like, and despite what you may think, you haven’t lost the capacity to do it. You’re just out of practice. So practice! All it takes is a spare moment a few times each day, and something beautiful or mysterious on which to focus your attention. For example, the clouds, the wind, the warmth of the sun, the beauty of trees, the wonder of breath, the love of God, the stars, the magic of fire, a beautiful song, your children’s laughter, the beauty of mountains and oceans and meadows and deserts, and … you get the idea. The opportunities for wonder are all around you every day. So practice wonder a few times each day. Marvel at life. Marvel at your life, and before long you’ll find joy has moved back into your house like a long lost best friend who’s returned home for good.

How else do you like to cultivate gratitude and wonder in your daily life? Share your ideas in the comments below.  

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How Long Will It Take for My Church to Really, Actually Change?

One of the most common questions I hear from church leaders is, “How long will it take my church to permanently change?”

It’s such a great question because change sometimes feels, well, impossible.

You hear a constant stream of complaints

You’ve run into too many people who like things the way they are now (or the way they were a long time ago).

You’ve got too many friends who got hurt badly trying to lead change.

The committees keep meeting and they keep stalling.

You’re starting to feel like Moses in the desert with no Promised Land in sight.

I get that, I’ve been there.

But don’t get discouraged. Change—even radical change—is possible.

The bottom line? Don’t overestimate what you can accomplish in one year. Don’t underestimate what you can do in five years.

Our Story: From Slow Death to Radical Transformation

I’ve led change in a local church for 20 years with the many of the same core group of people I started with when I was a seminary grad.

I began ministry with three small mainline churches whose total average attendance was less than 50. They churches were about as traditional as churches get: century old buildings, organs, choirs, committees, few kids and zero growth.

Within five years we had sold all three buildings and merged the three churches into a new church with a new name and a new mission. In the process, we changed the structure of leadership, engineered a radical overhaul of the style of worship, moved to an elementary school and launched a building campaign. In the process, we grew to over 10 times our original size.

Then seven years ago, a core of us left the denomination we were a part of. We left a nearly paid for building to start again in neighboring communities as Connexus, launching two locations at once. We moved from a permanent building to rented facilities and planted as a North Point Strategic Partner. Now, we see over 1,000 people on weekends, 60 percent of whom have little to no regular church attendance in their background. This has helped us realize our vision to be a church that unchurched people love to attend.

I realize, that’s a lot of change. Have we lost people? Of course.

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6 Requirements for Cultivating Community in a Church

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength and all your mind. … Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” Luke 10:27 (NCV)

Cultivating community requires commitment.
If you’re tired of fake fellowship and you would like to cultivate real fellowship and a loving community in your small group, Sunday school class and church, you’ll need to make some tough choices and take some risks.

Cultivating community takes honesty.
Real fellowship depends on frankness. In fact, the tunnel of conflict is the passageway to intimacy in any relationship. Until you care enough to confront and resolve the underlying barriers, you will never grow close to each other.

Cultivating community takes humility.
Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. Humility is thinking more of others. Humble people are so focused on serving others, they don’t think of themselves.

Cultivating community takes courtesy.
The truth is, we all have quirks and annoying traits. But community has nothing to do with compatibility. The basis for our fellowship is our relationship to God: We are family.

Cultivating community takes confidentiality.
Only in the safe environment of warm acceptance and trusted confidentiality will people open up and share their deepest hurts, needs and mistakes.

Confidentiality does not mean keeping silent while your brother or sister sins. It means that what is shared in your group needs to stay in your group, and the group needs to deal with it, not gossip to others about it.

Cultivating community takes frequency.
You must have frequent, regular contact with your group in order to build genuine fellowship. Relationships take time.

When you look at the list of characteristics, isn’t it obvious why genuine fellowship is so rare?

But the benefits of sharing life together far outweigh the costs, and it prepares us for heaven. 

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5 Reasons Even Church Leaders Don’t Pray as We Should

Let’s just put this reality on the table: many church leaders struggle with prayer. We know we should pray, but our “oughtness” doesn’t always lead to action. I’m sure the reasons for our failure are many, but here are a few.

  1. Nobody taught us to pray. Sure, our churches told us to pray, but they didn’t always teach us to pray – and there’s a big difference between the two. Telling without teaching results only in frustration and disobedience. Even Jesus’ disciples wanted Him to teach them to pray (Luke 11:1).
  2. We ignore the reality of spiritual warfare. Our very real enemy, Satan, and his forces don’t want us to pray. The Puritan writer William Gurnall put it this way: “Satan hath such an impression of dread upon him— from the remembrance of what he hath suffered from the hands of prayer— . . .  he will turn every stone, and try every way, to obstruct thee in it.”
  3. We don’t see prayer as part of a relationship. Instead, we see it like a transaction at a candy machine or a cell call to 911: we go to God only when we want something or desperately need His help. By definition, then, prayer is not lifestyle.
  4. Sin haunts our life. Any time we still have recurrent sin in our life, we won’t pray like we should (and then the pattern just continues, because prayerlessness is itself a sin). A prayer of repentance is in order, but even that’s difficult.
  5. We can do too much without prayer.  I believe this reason is a primary one, so please hear me out here. I know we can’t do anything of eternal significance apart from the power of God. I’m not talking about making an eternal dent in the darkness; I’m talking about living the daily grind of leading God’s church in our own power.

With that in mind, let’s be honest: we can do a lot without praying. We shouldn’t, but we can. We can teach, preach, sing, lead, counsel, visit, minister, serve, care, enlist, train, direct, employ, mentor, guide, organize, envision, study, write, record, build, travel, plant, etc., etc., without praying.

Many of us know we can because we have. Or maybe we are.

Or maybe we pray without really praying, convincing ourselves that this post doesn’t apply to us. Of course we pray, but it’s five minutes before the next ministry activity – and the words sound strangely like every other prayer we pray. Those prayers are more repetition than relationship, more perfunctory than powerful, and more routine than radical.

And that’s not really praying.

But still, the church work goes on . . . .

How and Why We Need To Live Out The Golden Rule

We all know the Golden Rule. It is found in Matthew 7:12. There Jesus says,

“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.”

While we have all recited this rule throughout our life, do we know what it really means?

For this is the Law and Prophets

In order to answer the question, we have to start with the last phrase, “For this is the Law and Prophets.” Later on in Matthew we come across a conversation Jesus has with a Lawyer who asks Him, “What is the greatest commandment?”

In response to the question, Jesus says,

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matt. 22:37-40)

It is important we start with this phrase because Jesus’ commandment in verse 12 is another way to summarize the command. We can’t do unto others as we would have them do unto us without first loving God and then loving others.

The reason we need to love God before we can love others has to do with our heart. Before our heart is penetrated by the gospel, we are enemies of God. We don’t love Him; we hate Him.

After our heart is pierced by the gospel, a change takes place. We no longer see God as our enemy. Instead we love Him, which is crucially important because only after we love God, will we obey His command to love others and practice the Golden Rule.

Positive, Not Negative

The second thing we need to look at in order to understand the Golden Rule is the nature of Jesus’ command. His command is given in the positive, not the negative.

Instead of not doing what we don’t want done to us, Jesus tells us we are to do to others what we would want them to do to us. In other words, if you want others to…

Serve you

Love you

Care for you

Give to you

Be nice to you

Respect you

Honor you

Listen to you

Learn from you

Hold you accountable

Comfort you

Counsel you


…then you do these things to them. In the way we want to be treated, we are to treat others, which is the Golden Rule.

Easier Said Than Done

I know it is easier said than done. It is easy to not do what we don’t want done to us. For instance:

If we don’t want others to steal from us, we don’t steal from them.

If we don’t want others to hurt our families, we don’t hurt theirs.

If we don’t want others to aggravate us, we don’t aggravate them.

It is much easier for us not to do what we don’t want done to us because of the benefit we receive.

It is much harder, however, to do what we want others to do for us because we don’t always benefit. We may do and do, but never see any return. Here is why love is necessary:

True Love

True love is not built around our emotions, getting what we want, or what makes us happy. The culture defines love in that way. The Bible, however, defines love as self-sacrifice, which means we don’t always get what we want. When we are not getting what we want, it is harder to live by the Golden Rule.

The golden rule, however, isn’t about us getting what we want. Jesus doesn’t give it so we can be selfish. He gives it because He wants us to understand what it looks like to truly love one another.

Salt and Light

When we live out the golden rule, truly love others, we live as salt and light to the world. We are a witness for the gospel because we live in a way the world doesn’t because the world doesn’t give without getting.

Not only are we a witness to the power of the gospel when we live out the Golden Rule, but we also promote peace and societal flourishing. In other words, we make the world a better place, and give others a glimpse of what the world to come will look like simple by doing unto others what we would have them do to us.

The Trinitarian Gospel Deeps

First, from Octavius Winslow’s Morning Thoughts:

The doctrine of the Trinity is to the Christian the key of the Bible. The Spirit imparting skill to use it, and the power, when used, it unlocks this divine arcade of mysteries, and throws open every door in the blest sanctuary of truth. But it is in the light of salvation that its fitness and beauty most distinctly appear—salvation in which Jehovah appears so inimitably glorious—so like Himself. The Father’s love appears in “sending” His Son; the Son’s love in “undertaking” the work; the Holy Spirit’s love in “applying” the work. Oh, it is delightful to see how, in working out the mighty problem of man’s redemption, the Divine Three were thus deeply engaged. With which of these could we have dispensed? All were needed; and had one been lacking, our salvation would have been incomplete, and we would have been eternally lost. In bringing to glory the church they thus have saved, the sacred Three are solemnly pledged.

And this from Jared Wilson’s Gospel Deeps: Reveling in the Excellencies of Jesus:

Do you see how the Trinity hems us in? We have no defense against this brilliant triangle offense. Praise Jesus! “The salvation that was planned by the Father has been procured by the Son and is now presented and protected by the Spirit” (Ryken and LeFebvre, Our Triune God).

The glory of God is exponentially and eternally magnified by God’s triune self. “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!” (Rev. 4:8). His holiness is threefold-perfection deep and wide and high and long. “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” (Isa. 6:3). One day the knowledge of God’s glory will cover the earth like the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14). He will have the universe covered from every angle—it’s divine geometry—as he has us covered now.

“May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”

The Trinitarian gospel is immediately practical because it entails that Christ is our advocate (1 John 2:1) and intercessor (Heb. 7:25) at this very moment and that the Spirit also is buttressing our prayers (Rom. 8:26).
With salvation’s rapture into the life of the Trinity, God isn’t just commanding us to grace and peace, he is praying for it himself to himself, he is bestowing it himself through himself, he is declaring it himself through himself authoritatively. The result of salvation is that “those who are elect exiles according to God’s foreknowledge, the Spirit’s sanctification, and the Son’s atoning work” receive grace and peace in multiplying (by threes?) abundance. This is incredibly good news.

We are saved from God to God by God through God for God. The godhead works in concert so that salvation will engulf you in God. (pp. 74-75)

09/05/15 For I Have Spoken

READING: Ezekiel 28-31

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  Today’s reading focuses on God’s judgment on the nations, including Tyre, Sidon, Egypt, and Assyria. Within these four chapters, though, is a continuing pattern of God’s making Himself known both to Ezekiel and to the nations. Notice the recurrent phrases that show God to be a God who speaks to people:

  • “The word of the Lord came to me” [Ezekiel] occurs eight times.
  • “This is what the Lord God says” (or a similar phrase) occurs sixteen times.
  • “For I have spoken” (or a similar phrase) occurs  two times.
  • “This is the declaration of the Lord God” occurs four times.
  • “Then they will know that I am the Lord” (or a similar phrase) occurs twelve times.

Our God is a communicating God. He raises up His spokesmen who declare His message. He initiates the message, confirms the message, and uses the message to make Himself known. Whether He speaks through judgment on the nations or restoration of His people, He declares His name to the world. I am reminded again that He is so much different from idols that have mouths but cannot speak.

Even today, God speaks to us through His Word. Thus, many of us are doubly blessed: our God communicates through His Word, and we have copies of that Word in its entirety in our language. We must not take either gift lightly.

PRAYER: Father, thank You that You speak. Thank You that the words You speak are true. Thank you that through Your Word, we learn that You are the Lord. And thank you that we have Your Word in our language. We are blessed indeed.”


The Methods vs. The Message

Many Christians go their entire lives without being used by God to be the human instrument and means by which a person comes to Christ. My own calling is not as an evangelist, but seeing another human being come to Christ is the most meaningful ministry experience I’ve ever had.

I once was hired by a church to be the minister of theology, which meant that my job was to teach. They also added to my job description “minister of evangelism.” I said I didn’t know anything about evangelism. So, they sent me to a seminar to train in evangelism.

The minister leading the seminar talked about how to memorize an outline, how he uses key questions to stimulate discussion, and how there’s a pattern to the way in which evangelism is to flow. The idea behind the method he used was to focus attention on the ultimate issue of a person’s individual redemption—how can he justify himself before God? Most people will say that they have lived a good life; very few will say that they have been justified by faith alone in Christ alone.

Methods such as these have much to recommend them. They are easy to learn, and they make it possible for people to engage in discussions about Christianity, though care must be taken that one is not simply reading a script but rather is really connecting with the other person.

Ultimately, evangelism is less about the method one uses and more about the message one proclaims. Evangelism, remember, is the proclamation of the gospel—telling the story, announcing the news. Some fear that they don’t know enough to evangelize. I say, “Tell them what you do know.” Leave the defense of the truth claims to the apologist and hold forth the simple message of the gospel. Anyone who has the ability to speak about three or four simple principles can become an effective evangelist. This is where evangelism programs and training can help.

This excerpt is taken from What Is the Great Commission? by R.C. Sproul. Download more free ebooks in the Crucial Questions series here.

Notable Voices: September 5, 2015

7 Ways to Be a Best Friend to a Pastor — Ron Edmondson

Pastors often have a tough time truly befriending church members—often because they have been burned by church members in previous churches. Here are seven ways to be a best friend to your pastor.

6 Ways to Improve Your Church Bulletin
 — Rachel Blom

Church bulletins are often an amalgamation of announcements, schedules, and random information. They often lack what this article points to: strategy.

Research Finds Few Pastors Give up on Ministry — LifeWay Pastors

LifeWay Research released some new findings this week on pastors and longevity the ministry. These results correct random stats from around the internet that have been erroneously cited for years.

9 Vision Blockers for Church Leaders — Chuck Lawless

Number one might be the most obvious of this group, but number eight probably is the most common vision blocker.

5 Rarely Talked About Tips for Every Communicator and Writer — Carey Nieuwhof

Pastors, these five points will help your sermons.

3 Things to Remember Before You Criticize Someone’s Theology — Justin Taylor

These are helpful reminders from Justin which come straight from Scripture.

The post Notable Voices: September 5, 2015 appeared first on

Weekend A La Carte (September 5)

I don’t know about you, but I am looking forward to the end of summer and the return of normalcy. In these parts, that transition always happens on Labor Day (or Labour Day for my fellow Canadians). Summer has been beautiful and brilliant, but I’m ready for fall.

Here are today’s links.

The Promise of God in Threatening Pain

Garrett Gilkey: “Last night, I bolted onto the football field to face the Miami Dolphins. I was eager, surging with life, energy, and strength. It was the last preseason game of my third season in the NFL. The ball snapped, and with a snap of his fingers, God mercifully showed me how small and weak I am compared to his grand and glorious sovereignty over all creation.”

Church Discipline, Contemporary Grace Style

A couple of days ago Rick Phillips posted an article in which he made some public comments about Tullian Tchividjian and the unfolding of his situation. Ray Ortlund replied with Can a label edify?. I count it as a helpful interaction.

How I Learned to Live Joyfully

J.I. Packer lets us in on how he learned to live with joy.

What the Duggars Get Wrong About Chastity

This article comes from a Roman Catholic perspective (judging the he quotes from the Catholic Catechism). It helpfully outlines some concerns with elevating chastity and making it an ultimate virtue. “Chastity allows the soul to govern the body so that a person can give of him or herself to others properly in every context. A sexual ethic based on fear, on the other hand, keeps us away from others. Love and fear are mutually exclusive.”

This Day in 1651. Obadiah Holmes received the punishment of 30 lashes for holding a Baptist service in Massachusetts. Shortly thereafter, he would move to Rhode Island and, for 30 years, serve as pastor at Newport Baptist Church, America’s second-oldest Baptist congregation. *

How Many Trees Are There?

Apparently all of our past guesses have been wrong. There are a lot of trees on earth!

Should Adulterous Pastors Be Restored?

The North American church is seriously vexed by the question, “What shall we do with an adulterous pastor?” Kent Hughes and John Armstrong provided a strong answer at Christianity Today.

Do You Pray For The President?

Sure you do. But do you pray for him as much as you complain about him?

The Line between Rule of Law and Civil Disobedience

If you want to catch up a bit on the situation in Kentucky with Kim Davis, and if you would like to know how Christians are responding, Amy Hall’s article will help.

The Myth of Faith Versus Reason

Thanks to PilgrimsRock for sponsoring the blog this week. Sponsorships keep the site’s doors open and lights on!

Links I like (weekend edition)


We Don’t Get to Choose our Martyrs

David Murray:

We all knew the moment was coming when Christians, including those in public office, would begin to suffer for their convictions about marriage, and we all readied ourselves to rally in support of them. But now that it’s happened, many Christians are picking holes in Mrs Davis, her arguments, and her actions.

Can a label edify?

Ray Ortlund:

Labels are a kind of verbal barcode, and that risks coming across as simplistic and even dismissive.  Labels can diminish openness.  Labels can discourage listening.  If they catch on as negative rallying points, labels can become divisive among true brothers in Christ.

The Most Timeless Songs of All Time

As a music nerd, this was really interesting. Data nerds will also love it because it shows the power of data.

Being Biblical and unChristian

Erik Raymond:

We all have blind spots. We have our issues. Whether we are talking about personal, social, or theological blind spots, we have them. And to say you don’t, is to, well, make my point.

The important thing for us to look for said weaknesses, identify them and replace them. This is living life as a fallen sinner it is reality.

But sometimes our blind spots are our hobby horses. And this is a problem.

The Counterintuitive Beauty of the Beatitudes

Timothy Chapman:

No preacher today is likely to open a sermon with a list of aphorisms, but in the Sermon on the Mount this is precisely what Jesus did (Matt. 5:2–12). Maybe it’s because these rich statements—these “Beatitudes”—sound more like Confucius than the Jesus we’re used to—and particularly unlike the theological elaborations of Paul or John—that we simply find it easier to avoid elaborating on them in depth.

And lastly, today’s the last day to get these two excellent books on biblical theology from Crossway on sale:

The Daily Discovery (September 5-6, 2015)


(Click title to go to full article)

What You Should Know About the Kentucky Clerk Marriage License Controversy – “When the Supreme Court handed down the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling, it made same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States and required every state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Kim Davis, the county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, said she could not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious objections. To avoid claims that she was discriminating, Davis stopped issuing all marriage licenses—to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.”

Inequality Trap – “In a forthcoming book on The Inequality Trap, William Watson argues that the contemporary obsession with inequality is both an error and a trap. An error because ‘inequality, unlike poverty, is not the problem it is so widely presumed to be. Inequality can be good, it can be bad, and it can be neither good nor bad but benign.’ While we may need ways of addressing various kinds of inequality, ‘we do not need, and it would be a mistake to adopt a single perspective or policy for inequality writ large.’ Ignoring the varieties inequality is not only lacks finesse, but can produce injustices: ‘A one-size-fits-all perspective or policy would involve us in meaningful and costly injustice, even, in the now ubiquitous but not always meaningful term social injustice’.”

We Don’t Get to Choose our Martyrs – “All reasons I’ve heard and read in the past few days as to why Kim Davis should either resign from her County Clerk position or else just get on with issuing gay marriage licenses (latest news report here). And that’s coming from Christians, some of whom have been mighty with the pen in arguing against gay marriage, but are now wilting before the sword of the secular State.”

Two Bedtime Prayers for Weary Parents – “God has called parents to a difficult task. We are called to prevent the giant pile of children’s laundry from overtaking the house, cook meals for picky eaters, and clean up never-ending messes. But most importantly, we are given the eternally significant duty to ‘bring [our children] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4).”

What a good sermon is like – “What should a sermon be like? Should it be the equivalent of a lecture, or a family chat, or feel like a stand up routine? Should it include ten tips, five tricks or three steps, each beginning with the letter ‘p’?  A sermon may be all of these things—or it may be none of them. But a good sermon does not try to be any of them. It is not mere entertainment, any more than mere intellectualism. A good sermon intrigues the mind and stirs the heart—but not through the efforts of the preacher, but through the Word of God.”


Charles Spurgeon – True Prayer, True Power!


Sye Ten Bruggencate Debates an Atheist

Selling Jesus: “Christian” Consumerism

“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 (September 5-6, 2015) appeared first on Entreating Favor.

Christian Headlines Daily – Saturday, September 5, 2015

Top Headlines

Islamic State Issues 11 Mandates for Citizens of Captured Syrian Town

KY Clerk’s Office Will Issue Marriage Licenses Friday — without the Clerk

Court Rules to Keep Statue of Jesus on Montana Mountain

Oklahoma Attorney General Fights to Keep Ten Commandments Monument

Christians Provide Aid to Displaced Syrian Refugees Facing Persecution

Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics Jumps into Bible, Pot Debate

Charleston Church Shooter Gets Death Penalty Sentence

Christian Rapper and Former Lesbian Speaks about Her Conversion

High School Baptisms on Football Field were Voluntary, Pastor Says

KY Clerk Who Refuses to Issue Same-sex Marriage Licenses Found in Contempt of Court


Margaret Sanger: Busted

‘In this World You Will Have Trouble’ — Welcome to Rowan County

Comic Rebukes Comedian for Bashing Bible

Yahoos on Campus: What Did You Expect?

Policeman Murdered: Schools Locked Down

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

Resource Links 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.

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

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

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

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

About Christianity
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed

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

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