Fiorina Was Right
“I dare Hillary Clinton [and] Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ This is about the character of our nation.” A host of media outlets, as well as Planned Parenthood, went to great lengths to explain that Mrs. Fiorina was making things up.
Preachers: Thou Shalt Not Bore People
Be willing to work at your preaching and teaching. Some guys seem content to just settle in and say, “This is who I am.” Well, we must remember that while we may be boring at times, God’s word is not. It is our job to get out of the way. The first step here is to be willing to work at it. If a guy is not willing to try to get better than there is no use reading anything else here.
“Remaining in PCUSA Is the More Difficult Decision”: Pastor Commends Colleagues in PCUSA
“I felt sorry to the 400 some fellow churches and colleague pastors who remain in the denomination,” Lee added. “In some ways, our decision to leave the denomination was an easy one. I think the other Korean churches that decided to stay in the denomination and bring reformation from within made a more difficult and courageous decision.”
While Catholicism presents a “linear” framework in which the Christian journeys in progress toward holiness, Lutheranism posits a “dialectic” one which precludes any self-perfecting tendencies. In this view, “Christians make no progress in righteousness; they simply return time and again to the word that announces pardon, a word that invites and elicits faith.”
War Room – Actually Pretty Good
“At first I wasn’t sure about this movie. In the first 45 minutes there was no specific mention of Jesus or even anything that could be considered exclusively Christian. Up to that point if the Christian elements were removed the movie would still have made sense, and still have been interesting, to the non-Christian.”
I Have An Invisible Friend
“Why would I make it more difficult for the Helper to provide heavenly assistance? Oh, because I am in love with everlasting love, I cannot totally thwart him, for he is omnipotent and irresistible. But why would I “kick against the goads?” Why would I grieve the the one, proceeding from both the Father and the Son, from whom all graces and blessings flow?”
Thinking about an Affair? Count the Cost
“We can justify anything if we try hard enough, right? But the only way to justify adultery is closing our eyes to the terrible costs it exacts in our lives and the lives of those closest to us. We can all do the math for ourselves, but by my counting there are at least eight major reasons to run, not walk, from infidelity.”
Deliver Us From Our Deadly Spiritual Enemies
As powerful as the Evil One may be he is not as powerful as he would like us to think he is. He is not omnipresent and further he is, as Luther taught us, defeated by “one little word:” Jesus. We should say to him as our Lord said to Peter, “Get behind me Satan.” He has no authority over us. We have been bought with the most precious blood of Christ. We have been declared righteous.
The Church Is Not The Enemy
“I’ve seen what church can be. It can be the poor helping the poor, Jesus serving his own; the lonely opening up their doors to one another, praise and worship in the midst of sorrow. A shelter for the orphan and widow.”
Fuller Seminary Takes A Stand
In view of the fact that many leftwing “liberal” institutions associated with SBL/AAR “penalize [conservative] scholars for doing genuine research” that leads to a negative assessment of homosexual practice, it is hard not to view this defense of “genuine research” as more than a tad hypocritical.
Vatican Disputes White House Guest List for Papal Visit
In 2012, Sister Campbell led the first “Nuns on the Bus” tour to protest proposed cuts in federal funding for social services…. Bishop Gene Robinson, who has also been invited to the pope’s welcoming ceremony, is a former Episcopal bishop of New Hampshire and the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the U.S…. Another guest, Mateo Williamson, is a former co-head of the transgender caucus of Dignity USA, a group for LGBT Catholics…. The presence of these figures is especially irritating, the Vatican official said, because it isn’t yet clear if the White House has invited any representatives of the U.S. anti-abortion movement, traditionally a high-priority cause for the U.S. bishops.
Your Life Expectancy and Your Social Security
Apart from the Social Security angle, the reality is that over the last decade, pension and retirement benefits have collapsed or have been drastically cut for many Americans. Those who carefully planned and managed their expected retirement position often had to make life-changing adjustments in order to regain that position. According to recent reports, however, many Americans have simply ceased to plan and save for retirement.
Twelve Questions About Forgiveness
Forgiveness belongs to the DNA of the new birth, and shows up as a trait of the child of God. It is essential to personal integrity and to the health of the communion of saints. But forgiveness raises a number of questions that must be addressed for understanding it rightly and applying it properly. Here are 12 such questions, in no particular order.
In China, a Devastating Choice Between Abortion and Unemployment
The story struck a nerve in China, where many couples who choose to give birth to a second child face high fines as well as the loss of government jobs. Late-term abortions and forced abortion are both technically against the law yet still happen in illegal medical clinics and in rural areas.
Through African Eyes: Resisting America’s Cultural Imperialism
One important difference, however, has been the enduring importance of traditional conceptions of family and morality. This largely shields Africans from the cultural upheavals that America has suffered, including redefinitions of male-female roles, chastity, holiness, and, of course, the normalization of homosexual sex. Liberal American Christians judge the African position on homosexuality as cruel to one set of human beings. But Africans have no problem in naming homosexuality a sin and praying for the redemption of all sinners.
Conservatives outraged at gays on White House guest list for Pope Francis! (Vatican, not so much)
(RNS) Looks like American conservatives and Obama critics are more upset than anyone else. &I would love to visit and talk to gay and lesbian people,& Francis said recently.
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Huge new comet identified flying near sun just days before ‘Blood Moon’ event
The new comet was discovered this week as online conspiracy theorists continue to claim a huge space rock will wipe out mankind by the end of the Blood Moon lunar event on September 28. The flaming space rock was also the 3,000th “sun-grazing comet” to be discovered by the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) – …
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Mysterious Iridescent ‘End of Times’ Cloud Phenomenon Spotted in Costa Rica
An iridescent, multi-hued cloud phenomenon was recently spotted in Costa Rica skies, and residents were left awestruck and mystified. The spectacle in the sky was reported this past Tuesday afternoon in numerous cities including, San Jose, Parrita, Pavas, Escazu and Hatillo. Coincidentally, the sighting occurred on the country’s Independence Day. Many witnesses took to social …
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John Piper Says Kim Davis Was ‘Morally and Legally Right’ in Refusing to Issue Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples
Theologian John Piper has said Kentucky clerk Kim Davis was “morally right and probably legally right” in refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
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Russell Moore Reveals the ‘Most Important Thing’ a Christian Parent Should Do When Discussing Gay, Lesbian, Transgender Issues With Kids
Dr. Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, has shared his thoughts on how Christian parents can address transgender issues with their children and better help them develop a biblical perspective on the subject.
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In Tenth Sting Video, Planned Parenthood Official Admits Selling Aborted Baby Parts Generates Income For Clinics
Pro-life group The Center for Medical Progress has released a 10th sting video on Planned Parenthood showing officials from the leading abortion organization discussing how their clinics receive compensation for selling fetal tissue.
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Fiorina: ‘I dare’ Clinton, Obama to watch Planned Parenthood videos
Republican president candidate Carly Fiorina stood out during Wednesday’s GOP debate for her answers to a host of questions, but it was her response to a question about federal funding of Planned Parenthood that had social media and pro-life leaders buzzing. Gov. Mike Huckabee also answered a …
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Pope Francis will be hosted at the White House by President Obama on September 23, and the president has already released a guest list.
And what a guest list it is: the first openly homosexual bishop of the Episcopal Church; two Catholic homosexual activists; a transgender; and a nun who supports abortion.
As polling data suggests that Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump continues to attract the support of about a fifth of Evangelical voters, prominent Christian ethicist Russell Moore opined Thursday that Evangelicals and social conservatives who back the real estate mogul are defying their Christian morals.
Jan’s guests for the hour are Pastor Jack Hibbs and Amir Tsarfati from Israel. They are two of our conference speakers October 2-3. They suggest life may never be the same as it once was and that we are in a final countdown. They discuss what the countdown may look like. They also talk about how people can prepare for our times. The three remind all that the spirit of Antichrist will one day, likely soon, be overcome by Jesus Christ. Today’s lawlessness will cease. We use the mobile app found at http://www.oneplace.com.
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Our current society is mimicking the societies of Noah and Lot’s day. It has donned the black robe of diabolical evil. It bows before the god of the night, and shuns the one true God since their deeds would be revealed in the light.
Those who lie in the wet, smelly, garbage-strewn gutter and those who lie on lavender-scented silk in palatial palaces will all meet in one group at the end.
After introducing the hostile context in 1 Peter, John Piper lays out pivotal principles for reading and understanding the Bible. The meaning of “meaning” is massive and elusive. Before we can agree on what a verse of the Bible means, we have to define our terms and linger over several key texts.
Are you zealous for Christ? Do you have a genuine zeal to life for him and to advance his cause in the world? Or have you lost the zeal that once marked you? Here, courtesy of Joel Beeke and James La Belle are 9 ways you may lose your zeal.
Major in speculative religion. Speculative religion is religion whose primary concern is that which is theoretical or conjectural. Look to the pastoral epistles and you will often find Paul warning Timothy and Titus that they must avoid anything like this—anything vain and unprofitable, anything obsessed with fables and genealogies (see 1 Timothy 4:2, 2 Timothy 2:14, Titus 3:9, etc). Christianity is meant to be an experiential religion, one that is meant to reach the heart and the will and to work itself out in action. “Christian faith begins with an experiential renovation of the heart and progresses by an experiential relationship that impacts all of life.”
Love the world. “How can we be zealous for heaven when our hearts are wrapped up in earthly things? How can we lift our spirits heavenward when our minds are weighed down with the cares of this life? How can we be zealous for God when our love is divided between Him and this world? Worldly mindedness will starve our zeal.” Jesus promised us that we can serve only one master; our zeal will diminish when our loyalties are torn between God and mammon, God and this world.
Be spiritually presumptuous. Some people start out in the Christian faith, but then assume that they have nothing more to do. They presume upon the riches and grace of Christ, but invest little effort in battling sin and putting sin to death. Some take an opposite view and claim that they are no longer sinful, that they have attained perfection. In either case, these people are dangerously presumptuous and will necessarily see their zeal decline and disappear.
Neglect the means of grace. “When we presume that we no longer need to gird up our loins (1 Peter. 1:13), lay aside every weight and every besetting sin, and run the race set before us (Heb. 12:1-2), we will naturally neglect those means that God has appointed to keep our zeal burning. Zeal will grow so cold that it will inevitably die out. To neglect the means of grace is to neglect the fuel that feeds this spiritual fire. We must be aware of neglecting anything that God has given us to help us grow in Christ-likeness.”
Remain impenitent. We know that we ought to confess and repent of the most significant sins, but can grow lax in confessing and repenting of the smaller sins. But be warned: “Impenitence with regard to any known sin will surely quench all zeal for God.”
Indulge in any known sin. “When we indulge ourselves in any known sin, or absolve ourselves of any known duty, how can we avoid the charge of hypocrisy in condemning the sins and failings of others? Do we think God is pleased with our crying down the sins of others while we commit the same sins? Do we imagine that God is pleased when we accuse others of failure, while we excuse ourselves from the very same duties? Sacred zeal reaches to all of God’s commandments and all of Christian duty. If we would keep a fire in our heart for God, we must take caution not to indulge in any known sin, or neglect any known duty.”
Be indifferent or unbelieving. “It is not enough to have an interest in religious questions, an understanding of basic religious doctrine, or even a small stock of memorized Scripture verses, if all this fails to touch the heart, because out of the heart, as Solomon says, flow the issues of life (Prov. 4:23). An unmoved, indifferent heart will not give rise to zeal. Light in the head must be matched by warmth in the heart.”
Remain ignorant. “How can we be zealous for the things of God if we dwell in the darkness of ignorance about divine truth? If we persist in ignorance of ‘the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord’ (2 Pet. 1:2), our comfort must speedily diminish, and our zeal will soon give way to indifference of heart and langour of spirit.”
Be a coward. We cannot advance God’s cause in the world if we fail to be bold for Him. Sin will comfortably abide in our churches unless it is put out by great boldness. Hypocritical professors will continue to bring shame to the name of Christ unless exposed by great boldness.”
How Much of God Do You Really Want?
“You shall seek Me and find Me, when you shall search for Me with all your heart” (Jer. 29:13).
“I would like to buy three dollars worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk, or a snooze in the sunshine. … I want ecstasy, not transformation. I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy three pounds of God, please” (Wilbur Reese). Recently, I shared with our congregation that one of the most difficult challenges associated with pastoring is not sermon preparation or taxing counseling appointments, but witnessing the tragic results of spiritual dehydration—dying spiritually with living water just a step away.
Sadly, we become so busy, so self-absorbed to drink of the living water that Christ often spoke of. The excuses are broad, the solution is narrow: “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water that I shall give him will become in him a well of water springing up into eternal life” (John 4:14).
Are you ready for a new method of persecution against “Christianity”? To hear progressives tell it, big business is a bastion of conservatism and reactionary thought. So why are corporations so eager to champion homosexuality and insult Christian beliefs? One pastor argues it’s because business leaders aren’t just interested in making money – they want to turn the culture away from Christianity. Carl Gallups, a pastor, talk show host, and author of the new book “Be Thou Prepared,” argues Christians should be aware of the social agenda being pushed by a powerful minority, including those in high positions in corporate America.
“In addition to making money, corporations are often dedicated to using their money to push the agendas that are near and dear to the hearts of the corporate managers,” Gallups told WND. “Increasingly, these managers are discovering they possess great power to shape the direction of public opinion and social norms.” One of the ways they do this, Gallups notes, is through partnerships and funding agreements with far left activists. In the latest case, Frito-Lay is supporting Dan Savage, a pro-homosexuality activist noted for delivering a profanity-laden tirade against Christianity in front of a huge school audience and wishing cancer on Sarah Palin. The company rolled out a new line of “Doritos Rainbows” chips to show their “commitment to the LGBT community” and sales will go to Savage’s nonprofit organization. FULL REPORT
The post Corporations on attack against Christians appeared first on End TIme Head Lines.
This list came from a summary of a sermon by Pastor Al Martin. It would make a great insert or bookmark for our Bibles.
Preparation for Hearing the Word of God Preached
1. Consciously cultivate fresh awareness that I will be confronted with the very words of the living God. (Matt. 4:4, 2 Tim 3:16, Isa. 66:2, Heb. 12:25, 1 Thes. 2:13)
2. Consciously repudiate by fresh repentance all that would hinder my joyful reception and effective assimilation of the Word of God. (1 Peter 2:1, James 1:21a, Jer. 4:3) Note: In the parable of the sower, it was the state of the soil (the heart) that determined the fate of the seed.
3. Consciously cultivate a meek and eager disposition of heart toward the Word which I will hear. (James 1:21b, Ps. 25:8-9, 1 Peter 2:2, Ps. 119:20 & 131, Acts 17:11, Prov. 27:7)
4. Consciously cultivate a disposition of dependence upon the Holy Spirit for His ministry as I anticipate the ministry of the Word. (Luke 24:45, John 14:26, Phil. 1:17, Ps. 119:18, Prov. 2:3-6, Jer. 17:5-9)
O God, believing that it is Your own living Word which I am about to hear, I repent of all that would hinder my hearing and receiving Your Word. I ask You to give me a meek and eager heart to receive Your Word and that the Holy Spirit will enable me to understand its truth.
In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner Wallace begins a six part mini-series summarizing material from his latest book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Investigates the Evidence For A Divinely Created Universe. J. Warner begins by establishing the overarching investigative approach he takes to examining the evidence in the universe. Can everything “inside the room” of the universe be explained by staying “inside the room”? This simply question helps homicide detectives determine if a death scene is a crime scene. Could the same question be applied to the evidence in the universe to determine if a cosmic “intruder” is the most reasonable inference? (For more information, visit http://www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)
Here is the audio podcast (the Cold-Case Christianity Weekly Podcast is located on iTunes or our RSS Feed):
“There is one very serious defect to my mind in Christ’s moral character, and that is that He believed in hell.” So wrote the agnostic British philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1967. The idea of eternal punishment for sin, he further notes, is “a doctrine that put cruelty in the world and gave the world generations of cruel torture.”
His views are at least more consistent than religious philosopher John Hick, who refers to hell as a “grim fantasy” that is not only “morally revolting” but also “a serious perversion of the Christian Gospel.” Worse yet was theologian Clark Pinnock who, despite having regarded himself as an evangelical, dismissed hell with a rhetorical question: “How can one imagine for a moment that the God who gave His Son to die for sinners because of His great love for them would install a torture chamber somewhere in the new creation in order to subject those who reject Him to everlasting pain?”
So, what should we think of hell? Is the idea of it really responsible for all the cruelty and torture in the world? Is the doctrine of hell incompatible with the way of Jesus Christ? Hardly. In fact, the most prolific teacher of hell in the Bible is Jesus, and He spoke more about it than He did about heaven. In Matthew 25:41–46 He teaches us four truths about hell that should cause us to grieve over the prospect of anyone experiencing its horrors.
1. Hell is a state of separation from God.
On the day of judgment, Jesus will say to all unbelievers, “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire” (v. 41). This is the same sort of language that Jesus uses elsewhere to describe the final judgment of unbelievers (see 7:23).
To be separated from God is to be separated from anything and everything good. That is hard to conceive because even the most miserable person enjoys some of God’s blessings. We breathe His air, are nourished by food that He supplies, and experience many other aspects of His common grace.
On earth even atheists enjoy the benefits of God’s goodness. But in hell, these blessings will be nonexistent. Those consigned there will remember God’s goodness, and will even have some awareness of the unending pleasures of heaven, but they will have no access to them.
This does not mean that God will be completely absent from hell. He is and will remain omnipresent (Ps. 139:7-8). To be separated from the Lord and cast into hell does not mean that a person will finally be free of God. That person will remain eternally accountable to Him. He will remain Lord over the person’s existence. But in hell, a person will be forever separated from God in His kindness, mercy, grace, and goodness. He will be consigned to deal with Him in His holy wrath.
2. Hell is a state of association.
Jesus says that the eternal fire of hell was “prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matt. 25:41). People were made for God. Hell was made for the Devil. Yet people who die in their sin, without Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, will spend eternity in hell with the one being who is most unlike God. It is a tragic irony that many who do not believe in the Devil in this life will wind up spending eternity being tormented with him in hell.
3. Hell is a state of punishment.
Jesus describes it as “fire” (v. 41) and a place of “punishment” (v. 46). Hell is a place of retribution where justice is served through the payment for crimes.
The punishment must fit the crime. The misery and torment of hell point to the wickedness and seriousness of sin. Those who protest the biblical doctrine of hell as being excessive betray their inadequate comprehension of the sinfulness of sin. For sinners to be consigned to anything less than the horrors of eternal punishment would be a miscarriage of justice.
4. Hell is an everlasting state.
Though some would like to shorten the duration of this state, Jesus’ words are very clear. He uses the same adjective to describe both punishment and life in verse 46. If hell is not eternal, neither is the new heaven and earth.
How can God exact infinite punishment for a finite sin? First, because the person against whom all sin is committed is infinite. Crimes against the infinitely holy, infinitely kind, infinitely good, and infinitely supreme Ruler of the world deserve unending punishment. In addition to that, those condemned to hell will go on sinning for eternity. There is no repentance in hell. So the punishment will continue as long as the sinning does.
The dreadfulness of hell deepens our grateful praise for the salvation we have in Jesus Christ. Hell is what we deserve. And hell is what He experienced on the cross in our place.
Believing the truth about hell also motivates us to persuade people to be reconciled to God. By God’s grace those of us who are trusting Christ have been rescued from this horrible destiny. How can we love people and refuse to speak plainly to them about the realities of eternal damnation and God’s gracious provision of salvation?
Clearer visions of hell will give us greater love for both God and people.
This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.
Many believe the problem of evil and suffering to be the greatest argument against the existence of God. In this short and concise video philosopher Peter Kreeft
demonstrates why the argument of evil and suffering, while difficult and sometimes heart wrenching, fails to disprove the existence of God.
It was bound to happen. Kim Davis, county clerk in Kentucky, is in the news for appealing to her Christian beliefs as a defense for not signing marriage licenses of any sort. Davis has been in jail, was released, and the news is all over it.
Davis feels that marriage was defined by God, and therefore she cannot in good conscience allow her signature on same-sex marriage licenses. She believes that the Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and that she is exercising that freedom.
On the other hand, she was elected to do a job, and many people say she should do it.
Handling Colliding Kingdoms
The root issue here is: How are we as Christians to handle colliding kingdoms?
Things tend to get messy when kingdoms of this earth conflict with God’s Kingdom. Davis was attempting to do her job for the United States while following the laws of the Kingdom of God. Most of the time the laws line up fairly well, but sometimes they don’t.
This country is rightly proud of its religious freedom, and Davis has put it to the test.
For those who think Davis should fulfill all of her duties, this Wall Street Journal article points out that government officials often pick and choose which laws and duties they will enforce and which ones they will ignore. Additionally, this New York Times editorial describes how the process could have been handled more smoothly.
As we consider how to handle colliding kingdoms, we should seek to bear witness to Christ.
On the other hand, if you feel that her religious liberties should be respected, would you feel the same way about Islamic Sharia law calling for an adulterer to be stoned? I wouldn’t, but religious freedom is religious freedom. I believe the Bible is correct; others believe this about the Quran. They are vastly different world views.
We in the U.S. must come to terms with the fact that this is no longer, if it ever really was, a Christian nation. There are many Christians in the United States, and for that I am very grateful, but the laws of this country are not all derived from a Christian world view. That reality will become more apparent as time goes on.
No matter your point of view, the situation leads us to put ourselves in Davis’ shoes and ask, “What would I have done in her situation?”
Serving as a Faithful Witness
As we consider how to handle colliding kingdoms, one goal of a Christian’s behavior should always be to serve as a faithful witness for Jesus Christ. In this situation, a couple of questions come to mind:
1. Would Davis signing marriage licenses for same-sex marriage participants in her official capacity have done damage to Jesus’ name?
Chances are no one would have thought much about it because, when you’re getting a marriage license, you’re pretty focused on the end result. Davis, however, would have had to live with acting in opposition to her own conscience and to God, and she was not willing to do that.
2. How has Davis’s refusal to sign the licenses affected her witness for Jesus?
It has certainly gotten attention. Whether the spotlight is positive or negative is up for debate. My guess is that those who would most benefit from a positive witness see her refusal as antagonistic. They think it’s intolerant, unimaginable.
However, if Davis had quietly resigned or done her official duty there would be no discussion. She would have been a witness to a small group of people who understood her struggle. So her actions have demonstrated to the country that a Christian’s beliefs can be deeply and firmly held.
I believe Davis honestly desires to follow God and his Kingdom, and she was willing to go to jail rather than dishonor him. From what I saw she was not fighting, she was standing.
Unfortunately, the whole incident has become politicized. It makes me uncomfortable to see news reports, like the one on Tuesday, September 8 of Davis leaving jail with a presidential candidate at her side, displaying Christians as victorious, at least for the moment, over oppressors. That seems counter to the Kingdom that Davis follows.
The Kingdom of God operates quietly, like a seed or yeast; its citizens will not be known until Jesus claims them. Jesus led many people while he walked this earth, but he never held a rally orchestrated to generate support for himself or his Kingdom. He let people come – he wanted them to come – but he never manipulated them.
What Would You Have Done?
So, how should we handle colliding kingdoms? With great humility, prayer, faith, selflessness, and discernment. Each situation will be different, and God may call individuals to very distinct actions. We shouldn’t be too quick to take sides, and we can count on the Lord to accomplish his purposes through it all.
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge… (Acts 4:19)
What would you have done in Davis’ situation? How have you handled colliding kingdoms in the past?
The post Colliding Kingdoms in Kentucky appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.
Thank you to everyone who joined us this week at our #AskPastorCol Twitter Party!
We discussed the topic of prayer through a question and answer session, and Pastor Colin ended the party by praying over the participants. He also included some helpful tweets about his favorite books on prayer:
If you have any other questions about prayer, leave them in the comments and we’ll do our best to address them!
The post “Prayer” Twitter Party Highlights appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.
One of the biggest moments in this second GOP debate was Carly Fiorina deftly taking control of the exchange and pointing it toward the macabre activities at Planned Parenthood—and how the top two leaders of the Democratic party are quite content to defend Planned Parenthood and let them go about their grisly business. She said, with great seriousness and passion:
I dare Hillary Clinton [and] Barack Obama to watch these tapes. Watch a fully-formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’ This is about the character of our nation.
A host of media outlets, as well as Planned Parenthood, went to great lengths to explain that Mrs. Fiorina was making things up.
Planned Parenthood quickly released memo claiming she’s liar:
The images show nothing like what Carly Fiorina said they do, and they have nothing to do with Planned Parenthood. The video footage that she claims exists—and that she ‘dared’ people to watch—does not exist. We have a word for that: It’s a lie.
Politico’s Rachana Pradhan was quick on the draw to “fact-check” Carly’s statement, also concluding she was wrong:
The videos that have stirred up so much trouble for Planned Parenthood don’t show what Fiorina claims. […]In one video, a former employee of the fetal tissue procurement company StemExpress[…]alleges that she saw an aborted fetus’ heart beat after a clinician tapped its heart. That video relies solely on the interview and does not include footage to support her claims. [But]…at no point do they include footage of an entire aborted fetus.
Huffington Post joined in, of course (See #6), bluntly claiming:
That footage doesn’t exist. …[T]here is no moment where Planned Parenthood discusses procuring fetal tissue for profit, nor is there the scene that Fiorina describes.
A writer at Vox claims Carly’s story is fiction, explaining they know because they watched them:
Fiorina is wrong: Nobody watching the Planned Parenthood tapes would see those things. I know, because I recently watched all 12 hours of the footage. …[T]he things Fiorina describes — the legs kicking, the intact “fully formed fetus,” the heart beating, the remarks about having to “harvest its brain”—are pure fiction.
George Stephenopoulos on ABC News interviewing Fiorina the next day said that “analysts who watched all 12+ hours said the harrowing scene you describe isn’t actually in those tapes” and then asks her if she misspoke.
Mrs. Fiorina certainly did not misspeak. Each of the above sources got it exactly wrong. Everything she described in the debate is all plainly here in the video, starting at 5:37. (WARNING: It is graphic and upsetting.)
Here is where each point she made is shown. You be the judge as to who got it right.
1.”Watch a fully-formed fetus on the table” (see 5:59)
2.”…its heart beating, its legs kicking” (see 5:37 – 6:10)
3.”…while someone says, ‘We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.’” (see 6:07 – 6:49)
At the end of this video, you hear an employee—Holly O’Donnell—explain why she quit her job. She was asked to cut this baby boy’s face through the middle, from its tiny chin up beyond its forehead in order to “procure” the brain. That was the work she was in.
Reflecting on that day, she says she held the little boy, surprised at how big he was, how heavy, how substantive his body was, holding him in her hands while everyone else was busy. She humanized the baby boy, saying:
Its just really hard knowing you are the only person who’s ever going to hold that baby. I held and thought, this could have grown up to […] be a lawyer, a firefighter, this could be the next president. […] Getting pregnant can be an accident, but its not a mistake.
That baby was real and the people who killed it that day in the clinic are real—regardless of how badly some want to deny it.
Glenn T. Stanton is the director for family formation studies at Focus on the Family as well as the author of many books, his latest being Loving My (LGTB) Neighbor: Being Friends in Grace and Truth.
By Richard B. Gaffin, Jr. – Posted at OPC.org/New Horizons:
The Westminster Confession of Faith, insisting that Scripture is sufficient in our day, holds that “those former ways of God’s revealing his will unto his people” have “now ceased” (1.1). We who adhere to that doctrine are thus often called “cessationists.” That label carries a lot of baggage. By itself, it’s negative. In current debates about the gifts of the Holy Spirit, it suggests what one is against. At the outset, then, we need to correct certain misconceptions about “cessationism.”
We do not assert that God’s Spirit is no longer actively working in dynamic and dramatic ways. We earnestly believe that he is. What, for instance, can be more powerful and impressive—even miraculous!—than the 180-degree reversal that occurs when the Spirit transforms those dead in their sins into those alive for good works? This involves nothing less than a work of resurrection, of (re-)creation (Eph. 2:1-10). This is awesome indeed!
Nor do we believe that all spiritual gifts have ceased and are no longer present in the church. At issue is the cessation of a limited number of such gifts. The continuation of the large remainder is not in dispute.
People sometimes tell me, “You’re putting the Holy Spirit in a box.” At least two responses come to mind. First, I do take this charge to heart. It is by no means an imaginary danger that we might unduly limit our expectations of the Spirit’s work by our theologizing. We must always remember the incalculability factor that Jesus notes in John 3:8 (the Spirit is like an unpredictable wind). Any sound doctrine of the Spirit’s work will be content with an unaccounted-for remainder, an area of mystery.
Secondly, however, as I will try to show, the Holy Spirit himself, “speaking in the Scripture” (Westminster Confession of Faith, 1.10), puts his activity “in a box,” if you will—a box of his own sovereign making. The Bible knows nothing of a pure whimsy of the Spirit. The Spirit is indeed the Spirit of ardor, but he is also, and no less, the Spirit of order (1 Cor. 14:33, 40). It’s striking that Scripture particularly stresses order in a discussion of spiritual gifts! A perennial challenge to the church is to seek this ordered ardor—or, if you prefer, this ardor-infused order of the Spirit.
Read more here…
My wife returned home from the salon and told me about the single lady who had cut her hair. This young woman shared some of her frustrations with dating sites that are only about how people look. Swipe this way if you think the person is cute; swipe the other way if you don’t.
She lamented that once you connect with someone, they usually just want a short-term physical relationship — nothing long-term or committed.
I grieve for those who find themselves grasping for relational intimacy through means like this. If you’re single and desiring to be married, you will find that taking the Bible seriously will prove to be the best dating guide in the long run, rather than the superficial criteria the world urges us to focus on.
In particular, Proverbs 31 offers some clarity about what to look for in a spouse. The description here is of the virtuous woman, but we can also think of many of these characteristics in terms of what a woman should be looking for in a man.
1. Does this person follow through on his word?
Verse 11: “The heart of her husband trusts in her.” He is never worried about her faithfulness to him. He never has to wonder if she is using their money in dishonest or foolish ways.
As you are getting to know someone who would be a potential spouse, consider if the person is honest and trustworthy. Does he have a track record of following through on his word?
2. Does this person make you stronger?
Verse 12: “She does him good, and not harm, all the days of her life.” Verse 23: “Her husband is known in the gates when he sits among the elders of the land.” It seems odd that right in the middle of this passage about the woman who fears the Lord, there’s a verse about the husband. But it makes a point about the woman’s commitment to her husband. Her work at home and service to her husband benefits his reputation and success. He is a better man because he is married to her.
Look for a person to marry who is going to encourage you and work alongside you in a complementary manner. A married couple should be stronger together than they would be apart.
3. Is this person hard-working?
She seeks wool and flax, and works with willing hands. She is like the ships of the merchant; she brings her food from afar. She rises while it is yet night and provides food for her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.
Look for someone who is disciplined and diligent, who has goals and works toward them, who starts projects and finishes them.
4. Is this person generous and hospitable?
Verse 20: “She opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.”
This woman looks to the needs of her family, but she also looks to other needs around her. She is generous and hospitable and helpful.
5. Is this person wise and eager to help others?
Verse 26: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.” She looks for ways to help others — both in practical, tangible ways, and also in emotional and spiritual ways. She is a sage, and others will seek out her wise counsel and benefit from it.
You want to marry a person like that — someone who is not consumed with his own selfish activities and entertainments, but delights to help others and has the wisdom to be truly helpful.
6. Does this person truly trust Jesus?
She is not overcome by worry, because she is trusting in her Lord. Verse 25: “She laughs at the time to come.” This woman fears God, and out of such healthy fear flows wisdom and kindness and hard work. The virtuous, godly woman will trust in God and in his providential plans for her. Therefore, she won’t be consumed with fretting over the details of the future.
This question gets at the core characteristic to look for in a spouse: Does this person fear the Lord? Is this person a believer? Don’t compromise on this point. Don’t become “unequally yoked” with someone who doesn’t share your most fundamental identity in life. Christ must be the foundation of the relationship, with both of you looking to him, trusting in him, and laughing together at the days to come.
Dream and pray and seek counsel about the characteristics you should be looking for in a potential spouse, and then resolve not to settle for less. Don’t let your dating search be driven by appearances. “Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout is a beautiful woman without discretion” (Proverbs 11:22).
The world’s way of dating is a path of folly and pain. Search for a person with biblical discretion, a characteristic that is rare and rewarding. As you rest in God’s plan, in his timing, pray for a spouse who is trustworthy, helpful, hard-working, compassionate, wise, and trusts Jesus.
And one more thing: Don’t go at this alone. Don’t presume that you, on your own, have a sufficient amount of discernment to evaluate a potential spouse. If you’re in a dating relationship, introduce this person to as many friends of yours as possible, especially your church family. Ask for what they honestly think, and see what yellow flags they raise. That is what humility looks like in a dating relationship — inviting the counsel of others and not believing the lie that you know better than everyone else.
Let the wisdom of Scripture guide your dating decisions, not superficiality.
Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. (Proverbs 31:30)
Republican presidential hopeful and former neurosurgeon, Dr. Ben Carson, has been surging the polls lately for the Republican nomination. Dr. Carson, a Seventh Day Adventist, has received scrutiny in the past for his religious beliefs when he was invited to speak at the 2015 Southern Baptist Convention, in which he was ultimately uninvited from.
But his being uninvited from the convention didn’t stop widespread evangelical support for his nomination, in which is now growing rapidly. In fact, a recent Gallup poll showed that Protestants favored Ben Carson over both Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, both Southern Baptists.
But does Ben Carson, a Seventh Day Adventist really represent Evangelical and Christian interests? I would like to pose the following questions to Dr. Carson.
1.) Dr. Carson, since you are a Seventh-Day Adventist (SDA) member, do you believe, as does your founder Ellen G. White, that people who don’t tithe are cursed from God?
According to SDA founder, Ellen G. White, Seventh Day Adventists hold to a number of unconventional, and unorthodox beliefs regarding those who don’t tithe. Some of these beliefs include God striking your horse or cow dead, unfaithfulness to God being written in the “heavenly record,” church members not praying for you when you’re ill, and even not making it into heaven.
Ben Carson has advocated tithing as a method of tax reform. During the August 6, 2015 Fox News debate, he stated:
…we need a significantly changed taxation system. And the one that I’ve advocated is based on tithing, because I think God is a pretty fair guy. And he said, you know, if you give me a tithe, it doesn’t matter how much you make… And that’s why I’ve advocated a proportional tax system.
2.) Dr. Carson, do you agree with your founder that the U.S. government, in which you would be leading if you are elected president, is the beast of Revelation as described in the Bible?
According to SDA founder, White says that this about the prophecy of the beast as described in Revelation 13,
One nation, and only one, meets the specifications of this prophecy; it points unmistakably to the United States of America. Here is a striking figure of the rise and growth of our own nation. And the lamb-like horns, emblems or innocence and gentleness, well represent the character of our government, as expressed in its two fundamental principles, Republicanism and Protestantism.
In case you were wondering if Dr. Carson isn’t a thoroughly devout Adventist and doesn’t hold very strongly to Adventist beliefs, I would encourage you to read this interview that he had with his institution’s official news agency, the Adventist News Network, in 2013. During this interview, he was asked, “Are there ever any times when you feel it’s best to distinguish yourself from the Seventh-day Adventist Church and what it teaches?” to which he replied, “No, I don’t.”
Does he believe so strongly in his religious system that he is willing to apply it to our government if he’s elected? If so, I believe evangelicals should take a serious second look at what Dr. Carson believes. Further, Dr. Carson isn’t sure if life begins at conception and has advocated for the use of an abortion drug. Are these the issues that evangelicals are willing to concede on?
Last month, John Piper gave a controversial answer to a question about whether a woman should be a police officer:
Mind you, his answer is utterly predictable given his general position. In that respect, there should be nothing controversial about the fact that Piper said it.
I find Piper’s reasoning in this particular case rather obscure, even mystical. So I’m not defending his argument.
Among others, Carl Trueman responded:
The whole piece also indicates the problems that occur when the issue of male-female complementarity is detached from the specific issues of marriage and church. Once you try to extrapolate to the world at large, three things follow…Second, you become increasingly dependent upon subjective and vague criteria for making decisions, criteria which are as malleable as those in positions of (sub)cultural authority – formal or informal — wish to make them.
Problem with that response is that it artificially compartmentalizes the issue by confining it to “the specific issues of marriage and the church.”
But if there are important natural differences (both physical and psychological) between men and women, if Scripture underscores gender essentialism (or gender realism), then that ought to have implications for public policy in general.
Take women in the Marine Corps, or firefighters, or the whole transgender debate. Trueman’s response is superficial and evasive.
If we are gender realists, if we deny that gender is just a social construct, then we can’t avoid questions about whether some occupations are suitable for men rather than women or vice versa.
I think Trueman’s response suffers from his knee-jerk aversion to the culture wars. We live in a time where it’s increasingly considered outrageous, even within evangelicalism, to merely pose a question like that (“Should a woman be a police officer?”).
Before attempting to address the question directly, I’ll venture some brief observations about gender. Gender is a combination of nature and culture.
If, say, your ideal of femininity is Lady Marjorie (Upstairs, Downstairs), then there are many things a woman shouldn’t do. But that’s a culturally-conditioned view of femininity.
A woman on a farm will do many unladylike things, such as wringing the head off a chicken, plucking it bare, then gutting it. By the same token, you have women who work on ranches or girls who are crazy about horses. Is that ladylike? Probably not. But that’s cultural.
I wouldn’t be surprised if girls who grow up in the Alaskan outback, or girls who grow up in a family of five brothers and one sister, are more Tomboyish. Likewise, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with teaching a girl self-defense (martial arts).
That’s different than girls who play soccer “to make a statement.” To prove they can do whatever boys can do.
Regarding the propriety (or not) of women as police officers, that depends, in part, one what we have in mind. I don’t think complementarianism conflicts with a woman as a homicide detective. Likewise, it’s more appropriate for a policewoman to interview a rape victim or battered wife.
There is, however, the dominant image of uniformed police. They ride around in squad cars or walk the beat. They confront suspects face to face.
I don’t know enough about police work to offer an informed opinion. I just have a question.
Uniformed police have to interact with the public at close quarters. How close is a judgment call.
If they accost someone who fits the description of an armed bank robber, they will take extra precautions. Maintain greater distance, call for backup.
But in many cases they don’t know in advance how a member of the public will react. They can’t treat everyone they stop or question like a suspected bank robber.
I wonder if that doesn’t make the dynamic more dangerous, both for the police officer, and the private citizen, when the officer is a woman. If the private citizen is a man, then her only real protection is her gun. By that I mean, the average man can overpower the average woman. Reaching for her sidearm becomes her first resort rather than her last resort.
With a policeman, there’s more of a buffer. He has a man’s natural strength. He may work out at a gym. And he has some martial arts training. That combination gives him another line of self-defense.
With a policewoman, it’s easy for me to see how it could escalate more quickly into a physical altercation or shooting.
Likewise, man-on-man psychology is different from man-on-woman psychology (or woman on woman psychology). I doubt a gang-banger takes a policewoman as seriously as a policeman. A feminist might complain that’s sexist, but who says gang-bangers can’t be sexist?
Although I can’t speak from personal experience, I expect an encounter between police and gangs (or perceived gang members) is a game of poker, where each side is sizing up the other side. Staring each other down.
With each visit to the United States, we can never quite predict what will stand out to us. It’s been different things over the last seven years. I remember one time when I was intrigued by the mysterious new section in all of the grocery stores: Organic. On other trips, my children have had their curiosity piqued by women bus drivers, by vending machines, by the presence of church buildings, by people walking dogs in their neighborhoods, and by the dizzying varieties of Oreos. If a camel saunters along the dune-lined highways at home, they hardly look twice. But if we drive past cows in a field, the little ones ask if we can roll down the windows.
Mundane is relative.
Take, for example, all of the invitations you have received so far today. Did you consider them? On a brief visit to the U.S. this year I lost track of how many invitations I received. They weren’t formal invitations in the proper sense, but they were invitations nonetheless. The flight attendant made announcements about some special programs when the plane landed. There were banners in the luggage hall. Billboards lined the road. Signs peeked out of the corners of the hotel lobby. Leaflets waited to be noticed on the desk in the room. Brochures were placed in my hand out on the street. Stickers stuck to the rubbish bins. Logos were everywhere. And what about the internet? Of course, all of this is white noise to those of us who live in media-saturated environments, but coming from a culture that is rather minimalist in marketing, I was overwhelmed.
How do we discern which invitation to accept? Which to ignore? Whom do we allow to tell us what we need? Do we even make these choices for ourselves anymore?
The Deadly Drama of Consumerism
Invitations to participate in the drama of consumerism are extended to all of us. Consumerism, the idolatrous pursuit of pleasure through stuff, can be worshiped by both the lavish and the simple.
Like all of the other idols, consumerism is just an empty, useless facade. Consumerism is starving, and because we emulate the characteristics of what we worship, its worshipers are unsatisfied and never filled. The idolatrous pursuit of pleasure through stuff works against the way God designed us. So, of course, it leaves us miserable.
God designed us to have our thirst satisfied at his fountain of living water, but instead we’ve hewed out for ourselves broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13). Instead of living by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3) even as we enjoy the things of creation, we treat God’s gifts as gods. As my friends Shai and Blair Linne put it, we “chose to eat the lie” that Satan invited Adam and Eve to believe.
Satan has offered everyone the same lie, from the patriarchs of Israel to Jesus and his disciples. Satan is not innovative. The devil knows that the Creator designed us with needs, so he works to get us to feast on things other than God. Satan is the architect of the course of this world, that gravitational force designed to reinforce the pagan delusion that life cannot possibly amount to more than food and clothing. That only idiots forego treasure on earth for treasure in heaven. That the real fool to be pitied is the one who does not worry about tomorrow. That those who seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness will be sorely disappointed.
So the invitations keep coming to participate in the drama of consumerism instead of the drama of redemption. If the consumer is trained to consume temporary fillers, she will keep grasping for her next fix. If the consumer can collect the tokens that tell him that he embodies what the images promise him, he’ll be satisfied for the time being. We emulate the idol — desperate and starved. The dark irony of consumerism is that we are the ones who are being consumed.
When the god of this world leverages our needs and redirects our hope away from God himself, he indirectly hinders our obedience to the Great Commission.
How many missionaries have been held back by consumerism’s short leash?
We can’t afford to go.
How many church budgets have been strangled by consumerism’s short-sighted vision?
We can’t afford to give.
How many families have been capped by consumeristic spending forecasts?
We can’t afford to grow.
Bigger, better, newer, faster! The siren song of consumerism drowns out Jesus’ anchoring promise: “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Jesus Broke the Stranglehold of Consumerism
How do we decline the invitation to participate in consumerism’s narrative for our lives? Is minimalism the answer? In our struggle against consuming more things a minimalist approach may help cut off greed’s circulation, but we need our heart’s affections to be redirected to Christ. Even a “less is more” lifestyle can become the biggest thing in our hearts. Our zeal for minimalism can be all consuming.
At the fountain of living water we will find the satisfaction we crave. And there, we’re invited to drink our fill and keep drinking. Feast on the bread of life. Consume more and more of Christ! Jesus took our sinful lust for stuff and he broke it on the cross. Consumerism doesn’t have a rightful claim in our affections anymore. Awakening a more powerful hunger for Jesus is our primary defense against an idolatrous pursuit of pleasure in our stuff.
We can also quit expecting such piddly returns from our money. So much could be said about this. Meals, clothing, and houses are actually strategic new creation ministries given to us by God. In the hands of ministers of reconciliation, tuna salad sandwiches can bear fruit that lasts into eternity.
The gnawing pain of wanting stuff cannot destroy you, because Christ crushed your idol of consumerism on his cross. You and your children will suffer no lack when you trust him. Christ’s mission to glorify himself is your mission, and he delights in freeing us from idolatrous consumerism so we can show the world that he is enough.
There’s some confusion on both sides out there about what’s in the Planned Parenthood videos. You can watch the episode that’s being debated here, in which a former tech from StemExpress describes what she witnessed in a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Here are some important clarifications:
- At 4:02, O’Donnell says the tech said this before restarting the heart of the aborted baby: “Come over here! I want you to see something kinda cool. This is kinda neat.”
- There’s no explicit explanation given by the tech as to why she’s starting the heart. It’s unclear whether she was doing something “cool” just for fun, or whether she was doing it for some other purpose and simply called O’Donnell over because she might want to see it. Since I first saw this video, I have feared we may find out in future videos that it’s done to keep specimens fresh, but for now, that has not been specifically said. Regardless, playing with an infant’s life is evil enough.
- We don’t know that the baby’s heart was still beating when they cut its face to procure the brain; O’Donnell does not specifically say either way.
- The clip of the fully-intact and moving fetus (at 5:58) was not filmed at the Planned Parenthood clinic. The clip is, in fact, credited, “Courtesy of Grantham Collection & Center for Bio-Ethical Reform.” The image is intended to show the viewers the age of the fetal human being O’Donnell is describing, but it is not the human being described in the story. I don’t see anything illegitimate about adding this footage to help people understand what O’Donnell was seeing. Neither do I think CMP was intending to deceive people with it. (I say this not only because of the credit, but also because later on in the video they show another picture of a 19-week fetus that obviously wasn’t aborted at a Planned Parenthood clinic—care was clearly taken where the umbilical cord was cut.) But at the same time, because these videos are so shocking and most viewers only saw them once, many people have understandably misinterpreted what they were seeing and/or misremembered what they saw.
- Yes, the moving fetus in the video was aborted. The website for the Grantham Collection says their images were “lawfully obtained in working abortion clinics.” I verified that the video clip in question can be found in one of their videos, as described here. (I’m not linking to the video of live abortions directly because it is extremely graphic and starts playing automatically, but there is a link to it on that page.) CBR has confirmed this, saying, “The video clip we provided to CMP depicted an intact delivery abortion. It was filmed at an abortion clinic. It was not a miscarriage.”
We need to be careful about how we talk about these videos. If you give people even the smallest thing to quibble with (even if it’s not ultimately relevant), that is what they will focus on, and they’ll use it to justify dismissing everything in the videos. This is what I’m seeing happen now.
Even stranger, I’m seeing journalists out there saying obviously wrong things, like, “There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating”; and, “At no point do they include footage of an entire aborted fetus”; and, “None of the videos have anyone talking about ‘harvesting’ brains” (actually, this topic comes up in a few of them); and, “There is no moment where Planned Parenthood discusses procuring fetal tissue for profit” (see here and here); and, “The Center for Medical Progress released five videos” (there are 10, not counting full footage videos); and, most amazingly, “Each video made by an anti-abortion group, The Center for Medical Progress, merely shows people talking” (i.e., without images).
Let’s not add to that confusion. Watch the videos carefully, and don’t assume anything that isn’t explicit. Stick closely to the facts; the facts are horrifying enough on their own.
An atheist friend of mine posted this video on Facebook, and it’s a great illustration of the fact that subjective reasons for believing your religion is true are not persuasive to anyone else:
Ironically, though, the atheist’s argument in this video is ultimately a subjective, theological one. The atheist says, (A) a real God would reveal Himself directly and clearly to everyone, (B) no being has done this, therefore (C) no God exists. But (A) is just a theological assertion about what he thinks a real God would do. Why should we believe that? I can think of reasons why God wouldn’t do what this atheist prefers. And if there is a God, He knows a lot better than we do what He should do because He has far greater knowledge, so I wouldn’t expect our personal preferences about theology to always be correct.
The atheist’s theological preference for a God who reveals Himself directly to everyone doesn’t prove the theists’ claims are false any more than the theists’ theological preferences prove the atheist’s claim is false. His preference is as subjective as theirs!
Preferences aren’t the way to determine what’s true, as the atheist points out very well—2+2=4, no matter who likes or doesn’t like that fact. It could likewise be a fact that a God exists who doesn’t reveal Himself to everyone, even if the atheist doesn’t like it.
There’s a right answer about the spiritual aspect of reality (which means either some or all theology in this world is certainly false, since people disagree); some people are getting the answer wrong, and some could be getting it right. But your preferences about what God should do don’t prove anything either way, even if you’re an atheist.
Each Friday our BCC staff links you to the top five biblical counseling and Christian living blog posts of the week—posts that provide robust, rich, and relevant insights for living.
3 Types of Fools
Tim Challies explans that, “In his book Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion, Os Guinness portrays three types of fools in the Bible: The Fool Proper, The Fool Bearer, and The Fool Maker.” To learn more, read 3 Types of Fools.
How to Care Like Christ
At his RPM Ministries site, Dr. Bob Kellemen shares about How to Care Like Christ.
Biblical Counseling and the Church
Here at our BCC Grace & Truth blogging site, we rarely highlight our own posts. Today, we make an exception as we want to direct you to this past weekend’s resource where we highlighted the upcoming release of our third BCC book, Biblical Counseling and the Church.
Tim Lane writes:
“The Bible says that my final destination is a matter of character; I am being slowly transformed into the likeness of Jesus. That seems unlikely if I only have my current location before me. But that is what the Scriptures confirm. They say it in many places, but none is more obvious than I John 3:2, ‘Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him (Jesus), for we shall see him as he is.’”
Read more about your final destination in life in Google Life.
The Only Lasting Cure for Anxiety
At Blogging Theologically, Aaron Armstrong quotes from Charles Spurgeon on Philippians 4:6-7. To learn about Spurgeon’s counsel about anxiety, read The Only Lasting Cure for Anxiety.
Scarcity and Abundance | Michael P Jensen, Reformation21
Thoughts on earthly scarcity and heavenly abundance.
Five Ways to Go from Head Knowledge to Heart Application | Josh Squires, Desiring God
“How do we go from the instruction of Proverbs 3:5, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding,’ to the personal affirmation of the writer of Psalms 56:3–4, ‘When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I shall not be afraid’?”
Growing in Christ, Serving in Ministry: An Interview with Sinclair Ferguson |Ligonier
From the September issue of Tabletalk.
Five Suggestions for Christians in the Midst of the Sexual Revolution | Kevin DeYoung, The Gospel Coalition
Read this. Read this. Read this.
Browse Worthy: Drunk with the Blood | Barry York, Gentle Reformation
On the 10th video from the Center for Medical Progress about Planned Parenthood
Have Evangelicals Who Support Trump Lost Their Values? | Russell Moore, New York Times
Wise words from Russell Moore: “We should not demand to see the long-form certificate for Mr. Trump’s second birth. We should, though, ask about his personal character and fitness for office.”
If you don’t have a Kindle reader yet, here’s a great deal from Amazon. A new color Tablet for only $49.99, that you can read Kindle books on, in addition to surfing the net, etc. This is going to end up in a few stockings in a few months.
Fire, 7″ Display, Wi-Fi, 8 GB
Fierce Convictions: The Extraordinary Life of Hannah More – Poet, Reformer, Abolitionist by Karen Swallow Prior $1.99. One of the best biographies in recent years.
The Pastor’s Kid: Finding Your Own Faith and Identity by Barnabas Piper $1.99.
Through the Psalms with Derek Prince $1.99.
Part 5 of W. Robert Godfrey’s “A Survey of Church History” Study Series Is Here | Nathan W. Bingham, Ligonier
The new installment from Ligonier Connect Courses.
Eric Ortlund joins the APJ podcast to answer this essential question.
Wheel of musical impressions
This was a lot of fun:
We should not demand to see the long-form certificate for Mr. Trump’s second birth. We should, though, ask about his personal character and fitness for office. His personal morality is clear, not because of tabloid exposés but because of his own boasts. His attitude toward women is that of a Bronze Age warlord. He tells us in one of his books that he revels in the fact that he gets to sleep with some of the “top women in the world.” He has divorced two wives (so far) for other women.
This should not be surprising to social conservatives in a culture shaped by pornographic understandings of the meaning of love and sex. What is surprising is that some self-identified evangelicals are telling pollsters they’re for Mr. Trump. Worse, some social conservative leaders are praising Mr. Trump for “telling it like it is.”
You know the feeling as well as I do. There is someone who brings something to us – it’s an accusation, it’s a criticism, it’s a rebuke – it’s a whatever. Someone does something or says something or insinuates something and we, in return, feel a compulsion inside of us. It’s a burning down deep in our guts. We. Must. Respond. And usually when that responds comes, it’s part and parcel with what has just been dealt to us. If it was anger, we respond in anger. If criticism, we respond with criticism of our own. If accusation, we respond with defensiveness. Whatever the case, we respond.
There are many leaders who are stuck in the past. While there are dangers in leading withonly a view of the present or with only a view of the future, leading with your mind only rooted in the past is destructive. Here are five dangers with only looking at the past as you lead.
“Currently, across the globe about 19.5 million people are refugees, and about half are children.” These men and women, boys and girls aren’t just “out there.” They are here, in America, too. Let’s ask the Lord to give us a heart for them.
Ordinary things can often be boring, but that doesn’t make them less important in the whole scope of God’s plan and glory. I need this truth proclaimed to my heart over and over again.
Dr. Lawless provides a helpful guide to a subject that should be settled in my heart—if only it weren’t for the ups, downs, and inbetweens of my emotions, circumstances, and faith.
Jared Wilson: “So the mandate for Christians now is to see the earth around us in light of the heaven that’s coming. This has huge implications for everything—for the Swiss Alps and for your front yard, for the people at your church and for your daughter’s goldfish.”
Have you ever told someone or had someone tell you, “God won’t give you more than you can handle?” While it sounds nice, it isn’t true to Scripture. Mitch Case writes about this common comfort phrase.
- Grace to You is running a series of blog articles about frequently abused Bible verses. Don’t miss understanding what ‘the eye of a needle‘ really means. Also—judge not?
- Coloring as a spiritual exercise? My brain cannot comprehend such utter ridiculousness.
- Just when you thought prayer coloring was as bad as it could get, here’s a church that will be conducting a Bible study based on Garth Brooks songs. Yeah, because the Bible just isn’t enough.
- Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
- Tim Challies says he’s an old-fashioned Christian. Amen to everything in this post; however, I would argue that what he is defining is not merely an “old-fashioned” Christian, but a true Christian.
- Recent episodes of No Compromise Radio have been discussing these eight symptoms of false doctrine, as found in J.C. Ryle’s Warnings to the Churches (a book I highly recommend, by the way!).
- Also, I have to give a hat tip to NoCo for this one. These things are important, and I want you to be informed.
- And while we’re giving props to NoCo, take a listen to Pastor Mike’s case for Calvinist husbands.
- The tenth Planned Parenthood video has been released. As with the others, viewer discretion is advised because these people are simply abominable.
- Haiti’s Voodoo chief has died. Let’s hope the pervasiveness of that false, demonic religion dies with him, at least in that area of the world.
- Dr. Abner Chou on the need for Christian intellectual engagement from Acts 17:
Wisdom For Your Weekend: your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.
Video of the Week
God Wrote a Book, Desiring God. Few people can evoke the kind of wonder and excitement about the Bible as John Piper does. Listen to this and be inspired to spend more time with the most valuable item you will ever own. “God wrote a book. And with this book—these words in front of us—he wakens our dead, bored souls. He frees us bondage to sin, from desires that rob us of life. He comforts the depressed, inspires the discouraged, guides the confused. He satisfies us completely and forever, with words—his words.”
Articles of the Week
Five Ways to Ruin a Perfectly Good Dating Relationship, Tim Challies. It’s no secret that our current generation of young singles finds dating mystifying and complicated. When dealing with the vagaries of another human being, of course, some measure of difficulty will always be there. But as Challies points out, we also sabotage ourselves far more often than we realize. Take a lesson and avoid these common mistakes.
The World’s Short Attention Span, Quantified, Kalev H. Leetaru, The Atlantic. Chances are you’re aware of the current crisis in and around Syria. But do you remember the earthquake that devastated Nepal earlier this year? Probably—although the news doesn’t. Why is it that when it comes to news, we have such short attention spans? Leetaru offers some answers, with graphs to back it up.
The Myth of Quality Time, Frank Bruni, NY Times. While I (Chris) sometimes disagree with Bruni, his writing is masterful, and he often produces profound social critique, as in this article, which argues, “There’s simply no real substitute for physical presence.” Intimacy isn’t something you can manufacture and slot into specifically “quality” time; it’s something that grows throughout the otherwise mundane moments. If you love someone—your spouse, your kids, your friends—it’s not too complicated, thought it’s plenty difficult: be present.
Three Sinful Things to Say in Conflict, Lore Ferguson. There are, to be sure, far more than three sinful things to say during any one conflict (seventy times seven, perhaps?). But Ferguson points out three of the more subtle ones. I could’ve anticipated the first two, while the last one wasn’t what I expected. But she’s right about that one, too.
On The Lighter Side
Seven Magic Tricks That Went Horribly Wrong, Mental Floss. Yeah, this is a bit dark to be “on the lighter side.” But it’s reminiscent of a train-wreck—terrible, but you just can’t look away. On the positive side, not all of these magicians ended up dead. So that’s…something.
Wisdom For Your Weekend is presented to you by Chris Pappalardo, with occasional guidance from J.D. Greear. This is our attempt to reflect Proverbs 9:9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”
I haven’t been able to track down any Kindle deals that are particularly exciting or noteworthy, so I suppose I will wish you a good weekend, and get straight to some interesting links.
Jared Wilson reflects on beauty, and beauty to come.
Because we’ve all been there a few times. Another option is to feign death until the person awkwardly walks away.
Amy Hall on the Planned Parenthood videos: “We need to be careful about how we talk about these videos. If you give people even the smallest thing to quibble with (even if it’s not ultimately relevant), that is what they will focus on, and they’ll use it to justify dismissing everything in the videos. This is what I’m seeing happen now.”
“Before the marriage revolution came to America, it came to Russia. And it came as a result of another revolution, the Bolshevik Revolution.” This is a really interesting article from Joe Carter.
I was recently able to be a guest on Cultivating the Kingdom podcast with Allison Burr. You can listen in if you like.
This Day in 1853. At age 21, “James Hudson Taylor sets sail from England for China where he will found the China Inland Mission” (now known as Overseas Missionary Fellowship). *
“With each visit to the United States, we can never quite predict what will stand out to us. It’s been different things over the last seven years. I remember one time when I was intrigued by the mysterious new section in all of the grocery stores: Organic. On other trips, my children have had their curiosity piqued by women bus drivers, by vending machines, by the presence of church buildings, by people walking dogs in their neighborhoods, and by the dizzying varieties of Oreos.”
This will probably make you feel bad about yourself. But if posture is really that important, it’s probably worth watching.
Thanks to MereChurch for sponsoring the blog this week.
By Chuck Lawless on Sep 19, 2015 01:00 am
READING: Ezra 4-6, Psalm 137
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: The anguish of the exiles must have been deep. Scholars differ about the timing of Psalm 137 (whether during the exile or soon after the Hebrews’ return), but the expressed memories of the Hebrews were indeed difficult:
Psalm 137:1-4 By the rivers of Babylon—there we sat down and wept when we remembered Zion. There we hung up our lyres on the poplar trees, for our captors there asked us for songs, and our tormentors, for rejoicing: “Sing us one of the songs of Zion.” How can we sing the Lord’s song on foreign soil?
As the writer of the Word Commentary has summarized this text, “The grief of the exiles was much more than homesickness. As they sat in a passive attitude of mourning beside a tree-lined canal, they were haunted by memories of Zion—bittersweet memories of festivals and fellowship with God and with believer, and tortured memories of the ruins to which God’s earthly home and Judah’s capital had been reduced.” They remembered the way their city had been, and they knew it was their rebellion that had led to its destruction. Yes, God would graciously restore them, but not without their having paid this painful price.
I am reminded again of the cost of sin. God loves us so much that He forgives us — but He also loves us so much that He sends us into exile at times to turn us back to Him. I read this text, and I never want to make a choice that would allow me for a while to only look backward at better days of God’s blessings. So today I pray:
- God, keep me from sin that would lead to exile.
- Make me weep over even the potential loss I would face if I were to choose to do wrong — so that I will always choose to do right.
PRAYER: “Father, hear my prayers listed here.”
READING: Haggai 1-2
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: We probably don’t think enough about where we’ve been, what we should have learned, and how those lessons should help us today. Four times in the short book of Haggai did God call His people to think seriously about where they were:
Haggai 1:5 Now, the Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways. . . .”
Haggai 1:7 The Lord of Hosts says this: “Think carefully about your ways.”
Haggai 2:15 “Now, reflect back from this day . . .”
Haggai 2:18 “Consider carefully from this day forward; from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, from the day the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid; consider it carefully.”
They were to think about the fact that they did not always see blessings — so God must have had a reason not to bless them. They were to consider their ways deeply, recognizing that they were living in good houses but choosing not to rebuild God’s house. They were to recall again days when blessing didn’t occur, simply because God was disciplining them. Finally, they were to consider how they were living in the light of God’s full restoration to come.
To paraphrase, God said this multiple times: “Look seriously at your heart. Know the products and repercussions of sin. Recognize your worldliness and your pride. Then, think deeply about the positive results of confession and repentance; think about my blessings to come on holy people.”
I suspect we, too, would be wise to ponder anew our ways. We need not just flippantly confess our wicked ways, but rather drill down into our hearts to see who we really are. When we do that, the promises of tomorrow’s blessings seem all the more gracious.
PRAYER: “Father, let us consider our ways with full integrity. Remind us today of the magnitude of Your grace.”
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
RSVP “No” to Suicide Party – “Back in 1991, I received an invitation to a party. My elderly friend Frances wanted to die. Her plan, she said, was to hold a life celebration with her closest friends: We would hold her hand, kiss her cheek, and tell her how much she meant to us—as she expressed her love for us. Then she would take an overdose of pills and embark upon what she called her ‘final passage.’ Every one of her friends refused to go along with this. Instead, we held an intervention: We love you, we told Frances, but that doesn’t mean we will support you in whatever you decide. We will do everything in our power to help you get through the night, but we will not participate in extinguishing your light.
Fiorina Was Right – “One of the biggest moments in this second GOP debate was Carly Fiorina deftly taking control of the exchange and pointing it toward the macabre activities at Planned Parenthood—and how the top two leaders of the Democratic party are quite content to defend Planned Parenthood and let them go about their grisly business. She said, with great seriousness and passion…”
5 Ways to Minister to Women in Crisis – “Cancer strikes. A spouse is unfaithful. Abortion haunts. Sexual sin is exposed. A baby is stillborn. These tragic experiences are regular occurrences in our fallen world. Women we know are in these situations right now, and we must care for them in their trauma. But how?”
Thin Complementarianism? – “Several weeks back there was a bit of a dust-up in conservative Reformed Protestant circles over the following simple question: Does being a man or a woman have any ethical significance for the way we live together in civil society? Despite the success of feminism in radically reworking gender roles over the past half century, conservative Evangelicalism has maintained a modest conviction that our sexuality has ethical import. Certain New Testament passages compel conservative Evangelicals to maintain that women should not be pastors and that the husband is in some way the head of the home.”
On The Brink: Christ and Culture Ep 31 – “Today ‘On The Brink: Christ and Culture Ep 31’ We discuss Biblical Illiteracy, Fired for Audacity, and From Liberty to Socialism at Liberty University.”
John MacArthur – Separating From Unbelievers
I Never Knew You, Depart
Joel Osteen waffles
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
Kindle deals for Christian readers
This week Amazon released the latest editions of the Kindle Fire which start at $49.99 for the 7″ Fire (with ads). You can also get The Immigration Crisis by James K. Hoffmeier for $4.73, The End of Christianity by William Dembski for 99¢, and The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel for $1.99
The purpose of this article is not to offer a simplistic formulation such as “The USSR was evil and since no-fault divorce started there, it must be evil too.” No-fault divorce did lead to grave evils in Soviet countries but that is not why we are looking at its history. We are merely looking at marriage and divorce in Soviet Russia to uncover. Our own time and context certainly differ, but looking at the past can illuminate the present and show us what we can expect. As Mark Twain is reputed to have said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”
How to end a Conversation
We cannot allow our lives to be overrun by an adolescent super power fantasy. While Superman is a character of fiction, the battle between selflessness, self-interest, and self-limitations is very real. And on this point, the worlds of pastoral theology and superheroes share enough common ground to provoke a needed realization. We cannot be the superhero of every situation. Moreover, we are not called to be the superhero of every situation. Remember Ephesians 4:11-16? God has called the church as a body to ministry. No one man has all the gifts or energy (or power) necessary to meet the needs of a church.
With each visit to the United States, we can never quite predict what will stand out to us. It’s been different things over the last seven years. I remember one time when I was intrigued by the mysterious new section in all of the grocery stores: Organic. On other trips, my children have had their curiosity piqued by women bus drivers, by vending machines, by the presence of church buildings, by people walking dogs in their neighborhoods, and by the dizzying varieties of Oreos. If a camel saunters along the dune-lined highways at home, they hardly look twice. But if we drive past cows in a field, the little ones ask if we can roll down the windows.
Mundane is relative.
7 Qualities of an Easy to Follow Leader — Ron Edmondson
Getting results as a leader doesn’t always mean being easy to follow leader. But it is quite possible, and much better for those whom you lead, to have both qualities.
Five Things Learned in an Unhealthy Church — Aaron Armstrong
Learning from healthy situations is important. But learning from unhealthy ones might be even more critical to our development.
Four Ways Leaders Should Rebuke and Challenge — Eric Geiger
The ability to confront and correct effectively is needed to lead teams and staff. Eric shares four keys to doing so successfully.
5 Pastoral Pet Peeves — Dan Cooley
These are common, and I like that Dan shares five resolutions to his pet peeves at the end of the article.
Three Important Ways for Pastors to Build Trust — Dan Darling
Dan shares three ways pastors can build trust in their church, and he starts with one of the most important things a pastors can do—handling Scripture well.
Seven Observations by a New Pastor about Search Committees — Chris Hefner
Both pastors and those looking for a pastor would benefit from Chris’ observations.
Our Time is Short
Read: Recommitting Your Life To God and Jesus Christ – Restoration and Forgiveness With God and Jesus Christ (Updated Version)
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
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
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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