I Am An Old-Fashioned Christian
“I believe in sin. I believe that Eve conversed with a talking serpent and that her act of rebellion and the sin of her husband was as simple as taking a bite of an especially meaningful piece of fruit. This is not metaphor or fable, but just what happened. Because of that sin, I believe you and I are both objects of God’s wrath. When Adam fell, we fell. And it was not good.”
Undeserved Favor, Unfathomable Sin, Unconditional Love, and Uncomfortable Discipline
We stand complete “In Christ Alone.” Let us see God’s unconditional love in the preacher who confronts our sin. Let us see God’s unconditional love in the Spirit who troubles our breast. And let us, again, respond to the unconditional love of God with a hearty prayer of repentance.
Growing in Christ, Serving in Ministry: An Interview with Sinclair Ferguson
“Being a theologian means, in essence, having a comprehensive knowledge of the gospel in all its many facets and interconnectedness. I liken it to being a physician who understands anatomy, and a pharmacist who understands body chemistry and knows his pharmaceuticals. Without a good working knowledge of theology, we will never understand how the gospel works, nor what the causes of spiritual sicknesses are, nor what gospel remedies to apply.”
God Battles ‘Straight Outta Compton’ For African-Americans’ Souls
“If the church is the American institution that has the power to save marriages, why isn’t the black community in better shape? Why, given that members of black churches have the highest rates of church attendance and proclaim some of the highest levels of belief, are the marriage rates among the lowest?”
“God Made All of Me”
“The book is for two to eight year old boys and girls. We wrote it because we have two young children and know that parents need tools to help them address body parts with their kids and to help them understand the difference between appropriate and inappropriate touch.”
Faithfulness In Small Places
“As I speak in other churches, I find few that are impressive. Again, the people are great, and the ministry significant, but it always seems that things are humble, and that the real action is taking place elsewhere. It’s tempting to wish that we were there, rather than in the small, humble places where we serve.”
Five Temptations for Classical Christian Education
“The first temptation is to overemphasize mistaken notions of success. The bigger our schools grow, the more respected a faculty we attract, the better we implement a Trivium-based curriculum, and the more accomplished our graduates become, the more we will be tempted to slip into something of a prep school mentality.”
Tough Love for the Black Church
I want to see all churches become as healthy and vigorous as possible–especially African American churches. The Lord has given me something of Paul’s longing for his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (Rom. 9:3, ESV). I want to see African Americans brought into God’s kingdom in as great a number as possible. For that to happen, the churches that serve African American communities have to be alive.
7 Spiritual Consequences of Living a Hurried, Busy Life
&Unless you spend extended periods of time alone with God through prayer, solitude, and sabbath, the speed of the world will skew your understanding of God.&
Help in Overcoming Church Hurt
So how do we make progress in the midst of our church’s flaws?
Franklin Graham Warns Barack Obama the ‘Blood of Butchered Children’ Will Be On His Hands If He Vetoes Defund Planned Parenthood Bill
Billy Graham’s son, the Rev. Franklin Graham, has warned that the “blood of children” will be on President Barack Obama’s hands if he chooses to veto the defund Planned Parenthood bill that was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday.
Jim Wallis, Progressive “Cleric” Tortures Bible to Promote Intolerant Islam
When Ingrid Schlueter hosted Crosstalk and blogged for Slice of Laodicea, she never held back her contempt for liberal “Christians” who attacked Christian orthodoxy and felt it was their “calling” to change the face of Christianity. Rev. Jim Wallis was one of those liberals. There’s a lot more about this man coming up, but first let’s […]
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The race isn’t over
Five years ago, I was blessed to be a part of something amazing: A phenomenal program and ministry I was invited to be a part as a researcher and co-host. I smile when I recall just how frightened and naive I was in those early days about what I had signed up for! But with Ezekiel […]
What is the definition of evil?
Got Questions has the answer: A dictionary definition of evil is “morally reprehensible, sinful, wicked.” The definition of evil in the Bible falls into two categories: evil against one another (murder, theft, adultery) and evil against God (unbelief, idolatry, blasphemy). From the prohibition against eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil […]
Is church for seekers or saints?
From church marketing, to “seeker-friendly” or “seeker-sensitive” strategies, the visible Church still seems to want to make church all about the “unchurched.” Why is that? Why do we think being part of a church is the end-all “whew!” goal of evangelism? What happens to the saints hoping to be sanctified when church is all about […]
U.S. priests accused of sex abuse get second chance in South America
Despite Pope Francis’ promise to clean up the church we learn that some pedophile priests are being relocated to poorer parishes in South America where they still enjoy all the privileges of priesthood, including celebrating mass. This, of course, is being done to protect the RCC’s already soiled reputation. GlobalPost reporter Will Carless has done a year […]
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5 Trends Christian Millennials MUST STOP Doing
We recently posted a video that showed young Christians (millennials) offering their view of Christianity, as if their views were orthodox. However, their views were decidedly unorthodox. In fact, what they believe comes right out of the liberal play book. So the young people are actually liberal “Christians.” But they want to be known as […]
War Room’s Priscilla Shirer’s Contemplative History, and Why It Matters
John Lanagan of My Word Like Fire has written another installment of his War Room series. His concern is that Priscilla Shirer’s movie fans will purchase her pre-War Room products and be exposed to her contemplative leanings. For You have abandoned Your people, the house of Jacob, Because they are filled with influences from the east, And they are soothsayers […]
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What Links Breath Prayer, “Practicing the Presence” and Yoga?
In Yoga, “practicing the presence” is accomplished through the mystical method of repeating yogic breathing and yogic mantras for the purpose of ushering the devotee into “oneness” with cosmic consciousnesses, the eastern understanding of god or divinity, often referred to as the “divine spark”, believed to be synonymous with all nature. The idea of god/divinity […]
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C. Peter Wagner: “NAR is not a cult!”
The man credited with being the “father” of the New Apostolic Reformation is surprised at the negative feedback his experience-based movement is getting in the media, especially in the left-wing liberal groups. But he is perhaps missing the biggest outcry of all is coming from those Christians who adhere to Scriptural truth; who believe that […]
GLAAD-handing: Obama invites gay rights activists to meet Pope Francis
(Christian Examiner by Gregory Tomlin) GLADD-handing is a common political occurrence in Washington, D.C., but the official guest list for Pope Francis’ visit to the White House is causing the Vatican serious concern. According to the Wall Street Journal, Vatican officials are concerned that photos featuring the pope greeting several prominent gay rights advocates and […]
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at Understand The Times, 9/3/15
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.
Click here to read this article!
September 22, 2015
We hear so much about “converging signs” today. The Bible speaks about end-time signs that will increase like birth pangs near the end. I think we have passed the birth pang process, frankly.
As a popular TV preacher said, “We’re no longer in Kansas, nor the Land of Oz.” Like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz”, we’re looking around and seeing that everything is different. Everything we once took for granted and considered normal has been fundamentally transformed and usually not for the better.
But God is allowing it all, even if He isn’t orchestrating chaos, as He is not a God of chaos.
Have you noted recent major stories and how they confirm the words of those of us saying that things aren’t falling apart, they are falling in place. Stories like . . .
- Russia and Iran co-operating and conspiring (Ezekiel 38-39).
- Gog is stirring. Russia has been relatively quiet for decades, but now Vladimir Putin is on the move.
- With ISIS marching towards Damascus, Syria is begging Israel to fulfill Isaiah 17.
- The United Nations, Barack Obama, the Pope, and many more, are clamoring for global government (Revelation 13). All of these men may have interesting assignments in the kingdom of Antichrist.
- Because of the increase of wickedness, love is growing cold. (Matthew 24:12) Can you say Planned Parenthood? Have we returned to those predicted “days of Noah” where such evil as this was rampant? (Matthew 24:37)
- How about those “perilous times” (II Timothy 3)? Who other than deluded, power-drunk men and women, would give billions of dollars and nuke capacity to the mullahs who want to bring international chaos on the world so their Mahdi can return? Why would Westerners give such power to ayatollahs who want to ignite EMPs above the free world and send us back to the 1800s? Does the Mad Hatter rule?
- Yet world leaders are crying in a Chamberlain-esque manner, “peace and safety!” (I Thess 5:3) They are calling evil good (Isaiah 5:20). Lighting the spark for Armageddon is good. Wiping out Israel is good. Making Iran the Mid East power is good. Allowing mad mullahs to mount nukes on their ICBMs, aimed at Western capitals, is good. This is leading to world peace! And the world will be one. Strong delusion!
- Europe is imploding. Barack Obama has dismantled America. The world is fundamentally transformed, thus it is awaiting a man, somewhere in the shadows, known as the Antichrist. He will make things right, turn darkness into day, re-distribute wealth, and more. As Paul Henri Spaak, former Secretary General of NATO, said of a future “Mr. Fix-It,” if he could lift us out of an economic morass, “be he god or devil, we will receive him.” Note the adoration of Pope Francis. This is a foreshadowing. He is warranting the largest security effort in U.S. history. You would think he represents the Second Coming.
- Apostasy is so bad in many churches that people no longer attend church (II Timothy 4:3).
- The predicted evil is rising (II Timothy 3). The Hindu goddess Khali was beamed onto the Empire State Building a month ago. Perhaps she is the new matriarch of America, replacing our founders’ dream of a God-inspired America.
- And ALL nations are having “distress with perplexity” (Luke 21:28). ALL nations have dilemmas for which there are simply no solutions which is the meaning of “distress with perplexity”.
Scripture says that when we see these things BEGIN to happen, we are to lift up our heads and know that our redemption draws nigh. That BEGAN to happen in 1948 with the re-birth of Israel. How much closer are we now?
Everyone who is watching the signs of the times has a sense of urgency. A sense that there is a countdown. A sense that things are not the same and will never be the same again.
And we don’t have a yellow brick road that leads to a fantasy-land where all the good times will resume, but we do have our Heavenly Home where all things are perfect.
Inauspicious Timing of Pope Francis, Obama Meeting on Jewish Judgment Day
In a meeting fraught with meaning and more than a bit of controversy and tension, Pope Francis is being hosted at the White House by US President Barack Obama on Tuesday, a day which happens to be the holiest day of the Jewish Year, Yom Kippur, the Day of Judgement.
Though this is not the first meeting between Obama and the Pope, this is the first time that the president will host the Catholic leader, who has also been invited to address a special joint session of Congress.
The Rapture and the Revelation
Ever wonder why prophecy is contained in the Bible? Why does it make up approximately 1/3 of our Holy Scripture? Why did God even bother telling us things ahead of time before they happened? Why is the church so divided on the one topic that is seemingly only meant for the purpose of giving us hope? The answer to all these questions, depends I suppose on who you ask.
Some believe everything prophetic has already happened. Some believe that it is the Church’s mandate to bring the Kingdom to the earth. Others believe that the Church must go through part, or all of the seven year Tribulation. Still others, do not see the Church entering into that time at all. As the old saying goes, although we can all be wrong, we can’t all be right. Knowing the razor sharp, prophetic accuracy thus far contained in our Bible, we know it isn’t wrong…so who is right?
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…………. Click here for full story
The University of California Santa Barbara has published a “Homosexuality and Religion” guide, detailing how to reconcile one’s faith with homosexual behavior……… Click here for full story
Recently an influential evangelical writer (no names please, this is about truth not personalities) wrote “right with God by faith alone, not attain heaven by faith alone.” The claim is that Christians should believe that we “attain heaven” by more than faith, i.e., by our cooperation with grace. This proposition fits with a claim made by others […]
Presidential hopeful Ben Carson has gotten a lot of leftists and Muslims upset by saying he does not think a Muslim should be president of the US. That has got the chattering classes going ballistic of course, and Muslim groups are already demanding that he stand down as a candidate.
Carson said that he “would not advocate that we put a Muslim in charge of this nation. I absolutely would not agree with that.” He also rightly said this: “I do not believe Sharia is consistent with the Constitution of this country.” He was even brave enough to mention the “T” word. “Taqiyya is a component of Shia that allows, and even encourages you to lie to achieve your goals.”
Wow, there are very few presidential candidates from either party willing to take a strong stance such as this on the nature and threat of Islam. As mentioned, all hell has broken out over this. He has dared to state a few basic truths which fly in the face of all things PC and leftist.
Few of the other candidates were willing to strongly support Carson. One however came very close to it:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal slammed the press for playing a “dumb game,” but said he would support a Muslim candidate running as a Republican who would respect “the Judeo-Christian heritage of America,” will commit to fight ISIS and radical Islam and will “condemn cultures that treat women as second class citizens.” But Jindal added one more caveat: The candidate must swear the oath of office “on the Bible.”
Let me briefly offer a few reasons – among many – why Carson is right in his concerns about this:
-Islam rejects the idea of separation of church and state (or mosque and state). They see the state as being part and parcel of the Islamic faith, and what is true of the one is true of the other. America, by contrast, of course has the First Amendment which specifically prevents any one religion from becoming the official established religion of the nation.
-Islam rejects the idea of any human law, and demands that sharia law be the law of the land – for everyone. Everyone must submit to Allah and his laws, and man-made laws must be rejected. Submission to Allah and his will, not the US Constitution, is incumbent for any devout Muslim.
-Everything about the political ideology of Islam runs counter to not only the American way of life, but its founding principles. This is a religion which is not only incompatible with freedom, democracy and the rule of law, but which is openly hostile to these values.
-The only Muslim who could effectively run as POTUS would have to be one who has renounced most of the key political beliefs and tenets of Islam. Of course such a Muslim would be considered an apostate by devout Muslims, and would face the music as a result.
-A recent poll released by the Center for Security Policy found that a staggering 51 per cent of American Muslims want the nation governed according to sharia, while 25 per cent believe that “violence against Americans here in the United States can be justified as part of the global jihad.”
-These are some shockingly high numbers. That there are peace-loving and pro-American Muslims I do not deny, but a true Muslim will always put Islam and its decrees above anything the US Constitution declares. When push comes to shove, a real Muslim must always side with Islam over against America.
-Moreover, as one commentator rightly notes, a “Muslim taking office must swear to support the Constitution, but that would be considered a false oath in Islam – a sin.” And according to Muslim scholars, American-style democracy is simply unacceptable to the Muslim. He quotes one Muslim authority who said this:
What distinguishes Islamic democracy from Western democracy is that while the latter is based on the concept of popular sovereignty the former rests on the principle of popular Khilafat [vicegerency]. In Western democracy the people are sovereign, in Islam sovereignty is vested in Allah and the people are His caliphs or representatives. In the former the people make their own laws; in the latter they have to follow and obey the laws (Shari‘ah) given by Allah through His Prophet. In one the Government undertakes to fulfil the will of the people; in the other Government and the people alike have to do the will of Allah. Western democracy is a kind of absolute authority which exercises its powers in a free and uncontrolled manner, whereas Islamic democracy is subservient to the Divine Law and exercises its authority in accordance with the injunctions of Allah and within the limits prescribed by Him.
Of interest, a new article has just appeared in which one Founding Father is appealed to as to this matter. Awr Hawkins writes:
In 1772, Founding Father Samuel Adams laid down limits to religious tolerance that also would have prevented a Muslim from being president by refusing any toleration of Islam in the first place….
It is interesting to note that in 1772 Sam Adams wrote “The Rights of the Colonists,” through which he set forth a litmus test for religions that could be tolerated under the new government colonists would form. Adams’ litmus test rules out theocracies like Islam.
Hanover College published “The Rights of the Colonists,” in which Adams wrote:
In regard to religion, mutual toleration in the different professions thereof is what all good and candid minds in all ages have ever practised, and, both by precept and example, inculcated on mankind. And it is now generally agreed among Christians that this spirit of toleration, in the fullest extent consistent with the being of civil society, is the chief characteristical mark of the Church. Insomuch that Mr. Locke has asserted and proved, beyond the possibility of contradiction on any solid ground, that such toleration ought to be extended to all whose doctrines are not subversive of society. The only sects which he thinks ought to be, and which by all wise laws are excluded from such toleration, are those who teach doctrines subversive of the civil government under which they live.
So Adams sets forth a test for ascertaining which religions should be tolerated and that test is whether the “doctrines”–or teachings–of a given religion are “subversive of society.” Adams contended that religions “are excluded from… toleration” when they “teach doctrines subversive of the civil government.”
One would think of the Muslim tendency to seek sharia law and sharia-compliant courts instead of laws and courts affiliated with constitutionally recognized jurisprudence. It would follow that one would presume the theocratic nature of Islam, whereby every facet of life–including matters of civil governance–are co-opted as part of the religion.
Theocracies can tend toward fascism, and although Adams did not employ such a term in opposing toleration for religions “subversive of the civil government,” he certainly made the same point.
At the time of Adams’ writing, he called the Roman Catholic religion by name, suggesting practitioners of that faith forfeited toleration due to “such doctrines as these, that princes excommunicated may be deposed, and those that they call heretics may be destroyed without mercy; besides their recognizing the Pope in so absolute a manner, in subversion of government.”
We do not see the Roman Catholic church destroying those “they call heretics… without mercy” in our day. But it is common to find examples of Muslims demanding that infidels convert to Islam or face death. And they do so with an allegiance to Muhammad that both supersedes and defines their allegiance to civil government.
While Ben Carson opposes the idea of having a Muslim for president, Sam Adams would have opposed toleration for the Muslim faith in general.
Very interesting commentary indeed. Of course critics think all this can be dismissed with one line from the Constitution: “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States” (Article 6, paragraph 3).
But this is certainly not a fool-proof rebuttal, nor is it the end of the matter. Islam is not merely a religion. As already mentioned, it is more rightly described as an all-embracing political ideology. If Islam were a completely privatised faith with no social or political aspects, then we might not need to worry.
But this is an ideology which brooks no rivals, regards all governments as imposters and enemies of Islam, and sees the establishment of a universal caliphate with everyone in submission as the true end of Islam. That is of course not compatible with the principles of the US Constitution.
Indeed, the very basic principles of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” as found in the US Declaration of Independence are certainly goods which are not upheld or extolled by Islam. They are certainly not absolute nor inviolate principles under Islam. All can be disposed of in an instant. Only the will of Allah must stand.
So we have a fundamental incompatibility and inconsistency between the devout, Koran-abiding Muslim and what the POTUS is supposed to uphold and defend. As mentioned, the only way we could countenance a Muslim POTUS would be if he renounced most of his Islamic beliefs and doctrines.
But then he would be no true Muslim at all.
Was Martin Luther King Jr. wrong in 1963 when he disobeyed the law and was put in prison in Alabama? When some religious leaders disagreed with his activism, King penned a letter from jail: “…One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to […]
If you’re not already aware, the antichrist is visiting the USA this week. He will be visiting Philidelphia September 26-27 for the World Meeting of Families, an interfaith gathering led by the Roman Catholic Church that seeks to promote traditional family values in today’s culture.
Thus far, with the exception of closet-Catholic, Rick Warren, Southern Baptists have refrained from (at least publicly admitting) that they are going to the event. However, President Obama plans to be there, and he will be there with flying colors–literally.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Obama’s guests include transgender activists, the first openly gay Episcopal bishop and a nun who criticizes church policies on abortion and euthanasia. And oddly enough, the Vatican objects because they are worried that any photographs of these dissenters may be seen as an endorsement of them by the Vatican. (Sound Familiar?)
And oddly enough–or not–prominent evangelicals care, and are even defending the Vatican. Two prominent Southern Baptist Leaders, Ed Stetzer, Executive Director of Lifeway Research, and Russell Moore, President of the Ethics and Religious Liberties Commission both tweeted messages in support of the Vatican’s opposition to Obama’s guests.
Dr. Moore posts an article by the Wall Street Journal that says “The White House is more afraid of offending China’s president than the pope.” Then Stetzer tweets “Pres.
@BarackObama, it’s hard to tell people you are not hostile to traditional faiths when you do things like this.”
My follow-up question to Moore would be, “who cares?”
First of all, this is no defense of Obama at all, I think he’s the worst president ever. But do these men not realize that there is a far greater, far more deceptive visitor coming to Philadelphia–the pope himself? Why do they care if the pope is offended by our president’s homosexual guests? I’m offended by the antichrist pope’s visit to my country. Isn’t that what we should be more concerned about?
But this isn’t the first time our SBC leaders have cozied up to the unholy father. Last year, Rick Warren and Russell Moore went to visit him at the Vatican for a very similar conference. During their visit, there was no call for the leader of counterfeit Christianity to repent of his sins, and turn to Christ. There was only a “melging” of religiosity with a pragmatic view of winning a culture war at all costs–including the expense of the gospel. Further, Stetzer will be speaking at a Christ-hating Muslim-interfaith gathering in October to further a cultural cause.
So do we really care that the pope is offended by Obama’s homosexual and transgender guests?
I’m more concerned that we aren’t offending the pope with the message of the cross. Are these men worried about losing their friendship with the pope?
Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth? – Galatians 4:16
NEW BOOKLET TRACT: Beth Moore & Priscilla Shirer – Their History of Contemplative Prayer and Why War Room Should Not Have Used Them
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This postmodern reality, where truth is up for grabs and dictated by the discerning eye of the beholder, is no recent phenomenon.
Jonah once suffered from the same delusion.
As Jonah sat on a dry and barren hillside outside Nineveh, waiting for the coming destruction, his worst fears materialised before his eyes. The God Jonah knew showed up just the way he had feared he would.
God came with grace.
Jonah 3:10-4:1 (ESV) – When God saw what they did, how they turned away from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
The footnote in my ESV Study Bible, informs me that the Hebrew here can be literally translated, “But it was exceedingly evil to Jonah”.
Such was Jonah’s delusion.
In reality, the God whom Malachi would latter describe as the ‘sun of righteousness who rises with healing in his wings’ (Malachi 4:2), or of whom David sang, ‘The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love’ (Psalm 103:8); this God came with amazing grace.
Yet from Jonah’s vantage point, this righteous, healing, merciful, patient, and loving grace, was a revolting evil that did nothing but fuel his anger.
And before I let my gospel-centered infatuation cause me to point a judgmental finger at Jonah, maybe I too need to learn a lesson from the shrivelled up plant.
Despite what our children’s story books say, Jonah didn’t fight against God because he was scared of the Ninevites; he ran and railed because he knew God would turn up with healing in his wings, he knew God would show amazing grace… and he did not believe the Ninevites deserved it.
Jonah 4:2 (ESV) – And he prayed to the LORD and said, “O LORD, is this not what I said when I was yet in my own country? That is why I made haste to flee to Tarshish; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster…”
As the blood of thousands cry for justice from the Nigerian soil, does my heart beat with hatred toward Boko Haram? Or does my heart cry out in anguish toward the hope of healing that the gospel can bring?
What about ISIS? Do they deserve God’s relenting favour?
What about the mutilators of unborn babies in the American Planned Parenthood organisation? Or are they outside the reach of the redemptive power of the cross?
What about you? Do you deserve God’s grace… do I?
This is the gospel.
There is a world out there that does not know their right hand from their left; sheep without a shepherd, and I am numbered among them.
Ephesians 2:4-5 (ESV) – But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved –
Jonah ran from this grace. He wanted it for himself, yet not for others.
But the gospel pursues us, captures us, compels us, even obligates us.
As you now see the grace of God poured out on the undeserving, how does it appear to you?
Business Insider recently published an Infographic entitled 20 Cognitives Biases that Affect Your Decision-Making.
If Infographics do nothing for you, I’ve summarized the information below. Have a look through and ask yourself: How many of these biases can also affect our exegetical decision-making. There were only two I found that I couldn’t match with exegetical biases (#13 & 19). But maybe you can suggest ways in which these might apply as well.
1. Anchoring bias. People are over-reliant on the first piece of information they hear.
2. Availability heuristic. People overestimate the importance of information that is available to them.
3. Bandwagon effect. The probability of one person adopting a belief increases based on the number of people who hold that belief.
4. Blind-spot bias. Failing to recognize your own cognitive biases is a bias in itself.
5. Choice-supportive bias. When you choose something, you tend to feel positive about it, even if that choice has flaws.
6. Clustering illusion. This is the tendency to see patterns in random events.
7. Confirmation bias. We tend to listen only to information that confirms our preconceptions.
8. Conservatism bias. When people favor prior evidence over new evidence or information that has emerged.
9. Information bias. The tendency to seek information when it does not affect action.
10. Ostrich effect. The decision to ignore dangerous or negative information by “burying” one’s head in the sand, like an ostrich.
11. Outcome bias. Judging a decision based on the outcome—rather than how exactly the decision was made in the moment.
12. Overconfidence. Some of us are too confident about our abilities, and this causes us to take greater risks in our daily lives.
13. Placebo effect. When simply believing that something will have a certain effect on you causes it to have that effect.
14. Pro-innovation bias. When a proponent of an innovation tends to overvalue its usefulness and undervalue its limitations.
15. Recency. The tendency to weigh the latest information more heavily than older data.
16. Salience. Our tendency to focus on the most easily recognizable features of a person or concept.
17. Selective perception. Allowing our expectations to influence how we perceive the world.
18. Stereotyping. Expecting a group or person to have certain qualities without having real information about the person.
19. Survivorship bias. An error that comes from focusing only on surviving examples, causing us to misjudge a situation.
20. Zero-risk bias. Sociologists have found that we love certainty—even if it’s counterproductive.
Donna Hart, PhD, a biblical counselor on staff at BCC, admits to her problem with patience and, through her mishaps, helps us grow in it.I am not a very patient person. I am always in a hurry. The Lord has been teaching me to slow down and be patient, think it through, and look to see things more clearly. In the slowing down, I am learning that patience acts in the face of something that is not right.
Patience Versus Anger
Patience is a curious opposite to anger. When you are patient you agree with the moral evaluation that anger makes:
- “That’s wrong.”
- “What you are doing does not please me.”
- “It offends me.”
- “It hurts people.”
True patience is not aggression and attack mode – it is not about passivity, indifference, and a placid tolerance or neutrality, and it does not accept and affirm everything.
Patience hates what is happening and rolls up its sleeves to redress what is wrong.
Patience makes you slow to anger. A prime characteristic of God is that He is slow to anger, as seen in Exodus 34:6. It is a prime characteristic of love (I Cor. 13:4). God is love, and He intends to make us like Him. When we are slow to anger, we are willing to work with wrong over time. The Lord is not slow about His promise as some count slowness, but patient, (2 Pet. 3:9).
Patience Looks for Solutions
Patience is a fruit of the spirit it acts with spiritual intelligence and is not just a feeling. When you are patient you can see the wrong with more clarity. Patience stops to look, observe, and notice the suffering of others.
Patience hurts for and with the person it does not act the same way anger reacts, it sees and feels the wrong. It motivates your actions and enables you to put up with difficult people and events, not out of indifference, resignation, or cowardice, but because you are driven by a different purpose. You are willing to work slowly to solve things, and you will be willing to live for a long time within seemingly insoluble evils.
Patience hangs in there with people even when they remain wrong and hurtful. It does not mean to just keep on keeping on, to merely grit your teeth, resigned to the inevitable. It is committed to change the world slowly, not to simply endure the world. This forbearing patience is different from being a doormat, passively absorbing abuse, or inviting abuse. A doormat psychologically drowns in the sense of powerlessness, victimhood, cringing fear, self-pity, and self-condemnation.
This forbearing patience is courageous and clear-minded. It exhibits the dignity of choice, it is powerful, but non-retaliatory, even while continuing to experience pain and unfairness. It never loses either the hope of altering or the intention of repairing what is so wrong. It does not reach the end of its rope like impatience. It does not explode like destructive vengeance. It does not give up in exhaustion, disgust, or despair. The willingness to work over the long haul is the first piece of constructively acting as Jesus does. It is a displeasure with wrong doing and sin but patiently merciful with the person as just as Jesus would be.
When have you been displeased with wrong doing and sin but patiently merciful with a person trusting the Lord will use you over time to influence for change?
I look forward to hearing from you.
Sometimes when I read the Old Testament, I scoff at the Israelites and the surrounding nations. I think to myself, “O silly Israelites, God just brought you out of Egypt, and you’re making a golden calf to bow down in worship?” Physical idol worship is one of those things that always makes me wonder how people could be so stupid.
Why would you want to worship something that you’ve made with your own hands?
Why would you want to worship something that you’ve made with your own hands?
The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a familiar one to many of us. It’s probably one of the most well-known stories of idol worship (no doubt due to Veggie Tales’ masterful retelling). I often read this story without much pause. As we hear this story in our churches or read it to our kids at home, our choice is a simple one: We don’t bow down to the idol. We worship God.
However, is this really what we choose on a daily basis? Is this what I choose on a daily basis?
The book of Daniel is unique in the Old Testament, since it is one of the few books that deals with the interaction between an exiled Israel and their surrounding culture. One of its major themes is how God’s people are to live in the midst of a pagan culture. Peter, along with other New Testament writers, applies this same mentality in 1 Peter 1:1 and 2:10-11.
Currently, we are exiles in a culture whose golden images are much more subtle than we might realize. While we are not brought before some golden statue and commanded to worship it, our culture constantly tells us to bow down to ourselves: our success, our glory, and our desires.
In a recent edition of the White Horse Inn podcast, theologian Michael Horton interviewed Jean Twenge about the recent update of her book, Generation Me. This book looks at the shocking trends of my generation (the Millennials) towards narcissism and its effects on various areas of life, including attendance and giving in the church. But even if you’re not a millennial, don’t think you’re off the hook. Worship of self is something that is inherent to each one of us…and it is only amplified by the culture.
The culture’s songs, advertisements, maxims, and messages are beckoning us, even if not overtly, to lay aside inhibitions and worship self. Kanye West’s declaration a few years ago that he was god, while blunt, simply is an outflowing of what the culture-at-large is telling us. While we may scoff at him for such a blasphemous claim, many within the church live their lives based upon that confession.
If God is our authority, then we will seem like aliens in a self-worshipping culture.
People who do not bow the knee to self don’t face a fiery furnace, but they do commit a type of social suicide. If we truly believe that God is in authority over our lives, commanding that we don’t live according to our own passions but his, then much of what we do and believe will seem wholly alien to self-worshippers.
If we’ve been transformed by the gospel and indeed are exiles in this world, we will look very strange to the culture at times. The pressure is real: If we don’t follow the norms, we will face hardship. After considering this, I almost wish it were only a golden statue we had to worry about.
It was the God-centered faith of those three Israelite men which caused them to stand firm, rather than worship along with the culture. I am challenged to do the same in the midst of our own. Let us make the same confident pronouncement from Daniel 3:16: “We have no need to answer you in this matter.” Let us say along with Christ, “Nevertheless, not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
The matter should be so solidified in our minds that our lives reflect it. For God requires that he alone be worshiped.
In what area do you feel challenged to stand firmly against the culture of self-worship?
- Colliding Kingdoms in Kentucky
- Believer, Let Your Life Speak of Christ
- Preoccupied with Controversy…or Holiness?
Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders is a classic book, one of the greatest leadership books in print today. Numerous pastors and Christian executives credit Sanders’ work as formative in their lives and ministries. It’s depth and breadth of biblical wisdom and practical application are unmatched in a single volume. I’m not giving page numbers because there should be no cheating to look these up in context. Just read the whole book. You won’t regret it.
1. Desiring to excel is not a sin. It is motivation that determines ambition’s character. Our Lord never taught against the urge to high achievement, but He did expose and condemn unworthy motivation.
2. True greatness, true leadership, is found in in giving yourself in service to others, not in coaxing or inducing others to serve you.
3. Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or church assemblies. God alone makes them.
4. But from God’s point of view it is noble work to reclaim the world’s downtrodden people. When we find some of those the world calls “the least” and seek to meet their needs, Christ tells us we can think of them as Him.
5. There is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader. A true leader influences others spiritually only because the Spirit works in and through him to a greater degree than in those he leads.
6. A leader must be calm in crisis and resilient in disappointment.
7. Leaders know there is a difference between conviction and stubbornness.
8. Are you responsibly optimistic? Pessimism and leadership do not mix. Leaders are positively visionary.
9. Do you direct people or develop people?
10. If you would rather pick a fight than solve a problem, do not consider leading the church. The Christian leader must be genial and gentle, not a lover of controversy.
11. When God calls us, we cannot refuse from a sense of inadequacy. Nobody is worthy of such trust
12. Pride ever lurks at the heels of power, but God will not encourage proud men in His service.
13. Many who aspire to leadership fail because they have never learned to follow.
14. A leader must be able to see the end results of the policies and methods he or she advocates. Responsible leadership always looks ahead to see how policies will affect future generations.
15. The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.
16. Vision leads to venture, and history is on the side of venturesome faith. The person of vision takes fresh steps of faith across gullies and chasms not “playing safe” but neither taking foolish risks.
17. Leaders take lessons from the past, but never sacrifice the future for the sake of mere continuity.
18. A visionary may see, but a leader must decide.
19. The spiritual leader will not procrastinate when faced with a decision, nor vacillate after making it. A sincere but faulty decision is better than weak-willed “trial balloons” or indecisive overtures. To postpone decisions is really to decide for the status quo. In most decisions the key element is not so much knowing what to do but in living with the results.
20. Leadership always faces natural human inertia and opposition. But courage follows through with a task until it is done.
21. The person who is impatient with weakness will be ineffective in his leadership. The evidence of our strength lies not in in the distance that separates us from the other runners but in our closure with them, our slower pace for their sakes, our helping them pick up and cross the line.
22. Leaders must draw the best out of people, and friendship does that far better than prolonged argument or mere logic.
23. When people who lack spiritual fitness are elected to leadership, He quietly withdraws and leaves them to implement their own policies according to their own standards, but without His aid. The inevitable result is an unspiritual administration.
24. Christians everywhere have undiscovered and unused spiritual gifts. The leader must help bring those gifts into the service of the kingdom, to develop them, to marshal their power. Spirituality alone does not make a leader; natural gifts and those given by God must be there too.
25. People who are skeptical of prayer’s validity and power are usually those who do not practice it seriously or fail to obey when God reveals His will. We cannot learn about praying except by praying. No philosophy has ever taught a soul to pray. The intellectual problems associated with prayer are met in the joy of answered prayer and closer fellowship to God.
26. As Jesus dealt with sin’s cause rather than effect, so the spiritual leader should adopt the same method in prayer.
27. A leader will seldom say “I don’t have time.” Such an excuse is usually the refuge of a small-minded and inefficient person.
28. Spiritual leaders of every generation will have a consuming passion to know the Word of God through diligent study and the illumination of the Holy Spirit.
29. If a man is known by the company he keeps, so also his character is revealed in the books he reads.
30. Leaders should always cut a channel between reading and speaking and writing, so that others derive benefit, pleasure, and inspiration.
31. Resist the idea of “leadership from the rear.” True leadership is always out front.
32. Achievement is bought on the time-payment plan, with a new installment required every day.
33. The true leader is concerned primarily with the welfare of others, not with his own comfort or prestige.
34. More failures come from an excess of caution than from bold experiments with new ideas.
35. A true leader steps forward in order to face baffling circumstances and complex problems.
36. Successful leaders have learned that no failure is final, whether his own failure or someone else’s. No one is perfect, and we cannot be right all the time. Failures and even feelings of inadequacy can provoke humility and serve to remind a leader who is really in charge.
37. There is no virtue in doing more than our fair share of the work.
38. Indeed, no man, however gifted and devoted is indispensable to the work of the kingdom.
39. Only one leader holds office forever, no successor is needed for Him.
40. Willingness to concede error and to defer to the judgment of one’s peers increases one’s influence rather than diminishes it.
Podcast Episode #161
We hear from churches all over the country about how God is working in their churches and how they are seeing people come to new life in Christ. So on today’s episode, we discuss nine relational evangelism ideas that are working in churches.
Some highlights from today’s episode include:
- The easiest way to connect with a non-Christian is over a meal.
- I do not understand why we do not pray for evangelistic opportunities more.
- We have to be intentional about developing relationships with non-Christians.
- Non-Christians are more open to coming to a Christmas Eve service than any other time of the year.
- If you’re not doing a Christmas Eve service, you’re missing a great opportunity.
- Align your church programs to intentionally create evangelistic opportunities.
The nine relational evangelism ideas that work are:
- Partner with a Christian student group on a local college campus and host a late night coffee/study session during finals week
- Encourage members to have a meal a week with an unchurched family
- Frequent the same coffeeshop/restaurant and develop relationships
- Go to the same non-Christian barber/stylist
- Pray for opportunities each day to develop relationship with non-Christians
- Join an organization to connect with non-Christians
- Develop meaningful relationships with your non-Christian co-workers
- Gift Christmas gifts (like baked goods) to your neighbors
- Teach in an ESL class
The post Nine Relational Evangelism Ideas That Work – Rainer on Leadership #161 appeared first on ThomRainer.com.
Pornography is one of the greatest dangers facing the church today. I could offer you statistics and case studies showing the devastating effects pornography is having on our church leaders but that is not needed. You know the dangers and the widespread effects of pornography. Based on statistics alone there is a reasonable chance that some reading this are physically addicted to viewing pornography. If you are not already addicted there is a greater chance that you have at least viewed pornography recently and on the verge of addiction.
As students pursuing (or currently in) ministry we are called to a higher standard. We will be leaders in our churches where our people will be looking to us as an example. Too often in the church our leaders fall prey to sexual temptation. One well-known pastor recently admitted to an “inappropriate relationship” and numerous pastors and church leaders names have appeared on the recent Ashley Madison list. In addition to the obvious personal and familial destruction, the people in our churches can begin to distrust the gospel and think less of the people who should be leading them.
“Teleiosness” and James
In one of the most practical books of the New Testament James, the brother of Jesus, exhorts his people to pursue of life of “teleiosness”—or in simpler terms, “wholeness.” This idea of wholeness means that our outward actions and our inward thoughts are in complete agreement with each other. “Teleiosness,” often translated as “perfection,” is not about “doing all the right things” but rather orienting our lives in line with Christian virtue. This the pursuit of holiness that is central to the Christian life.
Along with this idea of wholeness, James also says teachers will be held to a “stricter judgment” based on their position within the church (Jas. 3:1). Granted, this is in the context leading up to a small discourse concerning our speech, but I think it can be applied more universally. As teachers and preachers of the gospel, ours is a calling to holiness. Our lives, should be marked with a wholeness in the same way that Christ showed us in the gospel stories.
If we are engaged in pornography our life is not marked by “teleiosness” but rather “dipsychosness” (Jas. 4:8) or “double-mindedness.” Our outward actions may be righteous and holy but our lives are marked by a deep and dark addiction—pornography. We could list all the verses that pertain to sexual sins and apply that here but if you are reading this then you likely know that sexual sin is one that can erode the soul of even the godliest person.
Pornography and the addicted brain
Engaging in pornography not only erodes the soul, it also physically impacts the way that your brain is wired. John Piper in a recent article explains some research within the medical community that shows pornography has an addiction effect similar to cocaine and heroine. Cocaine and heroine cause a “high” in two distinct ways. Yet, as the article explains, viewing pornography actually taps into both these causes. A drug addict needs more and more drugs to realize the same sensation. Likewise, pornography re-wires the brain in the same way and, thus, needing more and more pornography to feel the same effects. Therefore, pornography is not only addicting in a spiritualized, sin-craving manner, but your body becomes physically addicted to the “high” and *needs* more material to achieve this high. This addiction is both spiritual and physical. It can all be accessed alone—”anonymously”—in the comfort of your personal computer or smartphone.
How can you help yourself prevent the seduction of pornography in the age of the Internet? Below I mention four basic levels of protection. These are not exhaustive and you should still do your own research beyond this article. I also want to note that some of these protections use the language of “parental controls” because they are focused on parents and children.
Use your spouse or a trusted friend to act as the “parent” with these solutions, giving them the passwords to monitor and control the accounts so you are not tempted to circumvent their protection. There are many articles on the Internet that discuss web accountability but many do not take into account mobile devices. So when you are doing your research realize that pornography is most easily viewed on mobile devices so protections against routers and computers are ineffective in this regard.
Four levels of protection
1. Prayer and community: You must fight the urge to engage in pornography through prayer and community. Satan wants to tell you that you can fight this on your own. You can’t. Don’t give into the lie that “this won’t effect me” and not establish the necessary precautions. As image-bearers we are built for community. Find trusted friends you can pray with and who will hold you accountable. Don’t be ashamed. We are not made to fight temptation alone.
2. Open DNS: This solution allows you to change settings to your home (or business) router that automatically filters web content at the router level. This will give you basic protection for anyone connected to the internet via the router in your home or business.
3. Mobile parental controls: Setting up Internet filtering protection at the router level is good and necessary, but pornography is being viewed more and more on mobile devices, which have access to the Internet beyond the router. Mobile operating systems such as Apple’s iOS provide parental control restrictions. While these may be labeled “parental controls” you can use these to your advantage by having your spouse or a trusted friend determine the settings and store your password. Not knowing your password helps ensure in the moment of temptation you are not able to “unrestrict” the filtering to view pornographic material. (iOS) (Android)
Third-party mobile solutions: While parental restrictions on mobile devices are great, they are generally not as customizable as one would want. This is why it is a good idea to also use a third party service such as Curbi or Covenant Eyes. Curbi and Covenant Eyes function in different ways on mobile devices. Curbi installs a “profile” on your mobile devices, which then speaks to their servers and provides filtering and content wherever you are. The disadvantage to Curbi is that this “profile” can be uninstalled but it will send out an instant alert if that is done. Covenant Eyes disables all Internet access on your mobile device except through their own browser. This means that you can only view web content through their custom browser. While this will work, I personally find it to be a less than elegant solution and would recommend checking out Curbi first. (Curbi) (Covenant Eyes)
These solutions do not and will not offer complete protection from pornography. There will always be a way to view it regardless of how many protections you put in place. But what they do is provide the necessary road blocks to limit easy access and put in place hazard lights warning you not to go any further. These solutions will not change your heart, but they will help protect you in the war for holiness.
Brian Renshaw is a Ph.D. student in New Testament at Southern Seminary. His interests include Gospel studies, hermeneutics, theological interpretation of Scripture, and history of interpretation. He works as an instructional designer in the SBTS Online Learning department and also serves as the director of digital production for CACS. When he is not reading you can find him roasting and brewing craft coffee. He and his wife attend Sojourn East. He writes on biblical studies at his personal site and Techademic. Follow him on Twitter.
Aren’t you glad God doesn’t give up on us when we stumble?
At the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona Derek Redmond tore his hamstring in the 400 metres semi-final but continued limping along, until his father burst out of the stands and helped him complete a full lap as the crowd cheered wildly. Then his father let go of him just before the finish line so Derek could cross on his own. If you want to get choked up, watch the video.
This reminds me of our heavenly Father. Psalm 37.24 says:
though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the LORD upholds him with his hand.
In Joshua 7 Israel disobeyed God and suffered the consequences. After an amazing victory over Jericho, one man, Achan, disobeyed God, took forbidden spoil and the whole nation stumbled. They were hammered by a tiny city of Ai, whose total population was only 12,000. Though the offender was found out and punished, afterwards Israel was fearful and dismayed. Maybe they’d blown it for good this time.
But God wasn’t finished with them. Like Derek Redmond’s father, the Lord came alongside Israel again and helped them. He said to Joshua:
“Do not fear and do not be dismayed. Take all the fighting men with you, and arise, go up to Ai. See, I have given into your hand the king of Ai, and his people, his city, and his land.” Joshua 8:1
God is the God of second chances. He doesn’t give up on us when we fail.
for the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity. PR 24.16
Can you imagine how discouraged Peter was after denying Christ 3 times? I love what the risen Jesus said to the women he appeared to at the tomb:
But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” MK 16.7
“AND Peter!” I can see Peter, sitting there, downcast, dejected, staring at the floor. The women come in. “We’ve seen the Lord! He told us to tell his disciples to meet him in Galilee. And Peter, he specifically mentioned YOU! He said ‘tell his disciples AND PETER’. Peter lifts his head. “Really? He mentioned me? Are you sure?” “Yes Peter! YOU!”
God doesn’t give up on us when we fail. He is the God of second chances. He has a purpose for our lives and though we fail, he won’t:
The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O LORD, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. PS 138.8
The Lord WILL fulfill HIS purpose for those who believe in Jesus. Nothing is going to stop him, even our failures. Of course we don’t want to fail. And we certainly don’t want to take sin lightly. But when we do mess up, when need to remember 1 JN 1:9:
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Jesus will forgive us when we come running to him, because he paid for all our failures on the cross.
Jesus never failed. He perfectly obeyed his Father every single day of his life and didn’t sin once. Yet God the Father punished Jesus in our place, as if he had personally committed our sins. There’s no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because he was condemned for us. Have you fallen? Are you discouraged? Do you feel like giving up? Get up again! Do not fear and do not be dismayed. ARISE! Get up again. Get back in the race. Your Father is by your side, his arms around you, holding you up. He is the God of second chances, and he will fulfill his purpose for you.
Recently an influential evangelical writer (no names please, this is about truth not personalities) wrote “right with God by faith alone, not attain heaven by faith alone.” The claim is that Christians should believe that we “attain heaven” by more than faith, i.e., by our cooperation with grace. This proposition fits with a claim made by others that we are justified by grace alone (sola gratia), through faith alone (sola fide) but that salvation, because it is a broader category, because it includes sanctification, is partly through obedience, faithfulness, or works.
Here is the argument in the form of a syllogism:
- Salvation involves justification and sanctification.
- Sanctification is by grace and cooperation with grace (works)
- Therefore salvation is partly by works.
In this discussion there have also been claims about the history of Reformed theology, that the orthodox Reformed theologians of the seventeenth century taught justification sola gratia, sola fide but salvation (the broader category) partly through works. What the Reformed (e.g., Turretin) frequently said is that good works are necessary ad salutem. Some have drawn the inference that the Reformed intended to teach that good works are instrumental in our salvation. I have disputed this claim in this series beginning here. Before you comment below, please read the series.
Rather, we should agree with Louis Berkhof (1873–1957) who, fairly represented the Reformed tradition, rejected the theory that good works are instrumental in salvation:
“[good works] cannot be regarded as necessary to merit salvation, nor as a means to retain a hold on salvation, nor even as the only way along which to proceed to eternal glory, for children enter salvation without having done any good works. The Bible does not teach that no one can be saved apart from good works. At the same time good works necessarily follow from the union of believers with Christ”(emphasis added)
Berkhof taught that good works are fruit and evidence of salvation. Here is the basic distinction which is frequently missed in this discussion (and in the discussion of justification): is and through. It is the case that believers, who are in union with the risen Christ by the sovereign grace of the Spirit, through faith alone, produce fruit. This is the Reformed understanding of our Lord’s teaching about abiding (John 15:4). It is not the case, as some suggest, that we “get in” by grace (e.g., baptism) and we “stay in” by cooperating with grace (abiding). Any such scheme turns the covenant of grace into a covenant of works since, in any event, our abiding, our cooperating, becomes the decisive factor, the sine qua non of salvation.
I have already sketched a biblical and theological case for justification and salvation sola fide (please read this before commenting) but, in the present climate, it seems useful to elaborate the case.
Sometimes I get asked why I believe in God.
In the past, I used to say that I found it harder to not believe in the existence of God than to believe in His existence.
To put this another way, I found it easier to believe that everything came from God than to believe that everything came from nothing.
And yet … let’s be honest … saying that “everything came from God” only pushes the logical causality of everything further back one step. If I have trouble believing that everything came from nothing, and so say that everything came from God, the question is then, “Well then, where did God come from?” The Christian answer is that He didn’t come from anything; He just always was.
So really, the choice is between believing that everything came from nothing, or believing that God has always existed. Neither choice is easily understood or comprehended by the human mind. However, even with these two options, I still prefer to believe in the existence of God, for at least with God, there is the recognition of a mystery that cannot be understood by human finite minds, whereas without God, the idea that something came from nothing is just pure nonsense.
But recently I have come to realize something different.
I don’t necessarily believe in God because I can prove the existence of God.
No, I believe in God because through this belief, the world makes more sense.
Belief in the existence of God is the organizing principle of everything. Without a belief in the existence of God, everything is simply random meaninglessness. But with a belief in the existence of God, many of the dilemmas and confusing things of life suddenly make sense.
C. S. Lewis once said something like “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” I mentioned this in my recent podcast on Genesis 1:4.
As usual, C. S. Lewis is right on target.
Believing in God is like believing in light.
While light can be seen, you only really see light itself when it shines directly into your eye, like when someone shines a flashlight into your eye, or when you look at a light bulb or the sun. But you don’t need to have a light shown into your eye to know that a room has light. You know that a room has light because you can see the room. When you look at the walls of a room, and the items that are in the room, you are not seeing light, but are seeing things by the light. When light hits something, it allows you to see that thing. It diffuses, scatters, or reflects.
When we look at things and see them, we can know that the light is no them, not because we see the light, but because, by the light we can see.
As I have come to see the world through the light of Jesus Christ, the crucified God, this crucivision lens has helped me understand life, Scripture, and theology more clearly, and it has helped me grow in love for others more deeply.
So also with the existence of God. Believing in the existence of God helps us see ourselves, other people, this world, and our purpose more clearly.
Of course, you have to believe in God as He is revealed in Jesus Christ, or else you may end up believing in a god that acts like Hitler, and seeing the world through that lens will not be helpful for anybody. But that’s a subject for a future time.
Do you believe in the existence of God? Why? Do you think that this belief helps you understand life and live your life better than if you didn’t believe in God?
What effect will Francis’s visit to the United States have? Every pundit is asking the same question, but each has a different answer: the Pope will advance chimerical culture-war compromises; the Pope will channel the spirit of John Oliver and “destroy” the religious right; the Pope will revive the Catholic Church.
A few thoughts:
1. Personalities tend to be more popular than institutions, so we should be skeptical about claims that the popularity of a given pope will translate into a “revived” church.
2. Francis’s appeal is based largely on his anti-institutional image—his willingness to disregard rules and call out entrenched interests—and so his popularity is especially unlikely to translate into increased attachment to the church.
3. Celebrity is fleeting. For all his current popularity, Francis is perhaps no more popular than John Paul II was during his first visit to the United States.
Regarding that visit, here’s the October 15 1979 New Yorker:
There is something about the human face that cannot be captured on film: a glow and depth, a complexity of light on flesh, and a scale—a smallness yet a definiteness in relation to the rest of the world. From under the brim of the scarlet hat there looked out a face with mischievous eyes and a humorous, masculine smile. From under the brim of the scarlet hat there looked out the healthy, calm face of a man who is at ease with himself and with others. From under the brim of the scarlet hat there looked out a face of such immediately apparent warmth that although the man was in a motorcade one had the impression that one was chatting with over a glass of wine in a café. . . . It was a face that expressed a sanguine, unself-important dignity—the kind of dignity that instantly affirms the dignity of those who look into it. It was a face that put things in proportion.
Here’s the New York Times editorial board on October 3, 1979
At St. Patrick’s Cathedral yesterday, Pope John Paul II said he considered it a “special grace” to be able to return to New York. To millions who saw and heard him, he was the one who brought a special grace to New York. The visit of any pope would bring out the curious in swarms, but there is an unusual magnetism in this pontiff’s sturdy warmth—and complexity. . .
But it seemed to us there was more than curiosity, more than celebrity-seeking among the multitudes that cheered the Pope’s every move. It cannot be expected that a ceremonial visit can accomplish much, but this visit seems to have released a vibrant sense of faith. . . . Even among the worldly wise at the U.N. there seemed an eager deference. . . .
Concerning the competition between the Communist world and the West, the pope was far shrewder than to take sides. He offered up a challenge to both sides . . .
4. The media love affair with Francis, just like that with John Paul II, will come to an end.
5. When it does, the people most attached to Catholic doctrines and institutions will be the ones most attached to the man.
Matthew Schmitz is deputy editor of First Things.
Theology and the Gospel Ministry | Michael D. Roberts, Place for Truth
Thoughts on the disappearance of the “Pastor-Scholar.”
Exodus and You | Peter Dietsch, Providence Presbyterian Church
Why the Old Testament is important on this side of the New Testament.
Private Sin, Public Fallout | Clint Archer, The Cripplegate
As part of the Body of Christ, your sin always affects the Body.
Entrepreneurship: An Opportunity for Personal, Individual Flourishing | Tim Hoerr, Institute for Faith, Work & Economics
Tim gives us 3 reasons the entrepreneurial environment is rich for personal growth.
What Does Depression Look Like For Entrepreneurs | Seth Getz
My hyper-energetic, super-enthusiastic friend, Seth Getz, confronts the reality of being depressed.
The End of Christianity by William Dembski ($0.99)
You Have a Brain: A Teen’s Guide to T.H.I.N.K. B.I.G. by Ben Carson ($1.99)
The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation’s Call to Greatness by Harlow Giles Unger ($1.99)
The Miracle of Dunkirk by Walter Lord ($2.51)
Kindle deals for Christian readers
Today is the last day to get Barnabas Piper’s latest, Help My Unbelief, for $4.61. Also on sale are:
- Uneclipsing the Son by Rick Holland—$2.99
- His Mission: Jesus in the Gospel of Luke by edited by D.A. Carson and Kathleen B. Nielson—$2.99
- On Guard For Students by William Lane Craig—$2.99
- Keeping the Heart by John Flavel—99¢
- Trophy Kid by Ted Cunningham—Free
John Piper introduces a new book from Desiring God by Tony Reinke, The Joy Project: A True Story of Inescapable Happiness. The book is available free in three digital formats. You can also purchase a paperback edition at Amazon.
I felt very keenly in that moment how good it feels to be picked. Everybody wants to be picked. The gospel tells an interesting story about being picked. If I had to relate it to my weekend football humiliation, I would put it this way: God looks at the available selection, sees that I have no evident talent or ability and that in fact I give all indications of being a liability to the team, not an asset, and says, “I’ll take him first.”
Really appreciated this brief encouragement from David Murray.
Like the rest of Africa, the church in Kenya battles evangelism that peddles a counterfeit gospel, with name-it-and-claim-it messages attracting massive followings and bringing in much money. In many ways this challenge mirrors the exploitations of European “Christian” colonizers some 500 years ago. Today, though, it’s their own countrymen who masquerade as Christians.
Thankfully, the Lord is at work through other Kenyan pastors to help turn the tide.
This guide from Jerry Jenkins’ website is really helpful.
Sometimes I think we are so married to the idea of kingdom advancement by such large public platforms that we fail to see the upside down nature of the kingdom Jesus inaugurated and Paul preached about. We must not forget that gospel is “a stumbling block to the Jews and folly to the Gentiles,” (1 Cor 1:23) a statement Paul made to a church that was in danger of splintering under the weight of competing platforms and arguments about spiritual best practices.
Today’s Kindle deals include: Not a Chance by R.C. Sproul ($2.99); The Hardest Peace by Kara Tippetts ($3.99); Old Story New ($0.99) and Long Story Short (free) by Marty Machowski; Living as a Christian by A.W. Tozer ($1.99). Also, while we’re on the subject of Amazon, they’ve got lots of BBC documentaries and dramas on sale today only.
Writing for Canada’s National Post, this columnist makes some valid (and completely counter-cultural points). He asks, “Why are we determined to put women in combat alongside men when we absolutely refuse to do it in sports?”
This is a sign of the times, I suppose. “What were previously sly winks to a grownup audience are now grotesque full-body grimaces, delivered with depressing sledgehammer brutality.”
“Hollywood is getting hip to the Christian box-office boost, but the directors of movies like Captive don’t want to be lumped in with the religious flops of the past.”
James Hamilton has recently completed a commentary on Song of Songs, and in this article explains why every church should consider preaching through the book.
We all need the occasional refresher here.
This Day in 2006: Christianity Today published Collin Hansen’s pivotal article, Young, Restless, Reformed. The article gave a name and definition to a new but discernible movement.
Here’s a fascinating article about a guy who beat the show Press Your Luck. “Something was very wrong. Here was this guy from nowhere, and he kept going around the board and hitting the bonus boxes every time. It was bedlam, I can tell you. And we couldn’t stop this guy.”
There’s little doubt about it: Detroit Tigers’ pitcher Daniel Norris is one of the most interesting people in baseball.
Christian Headlines Daily – Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Scott Walker Drops Out of Presidential Race
5 Questions Iowa Faith & Freedom Forum Will Answer
Office Depot Offers Muddy Apology for Refusal to Print Pro-life Flier
Bible Must be at Center of Anglican Meeting, Global Group Says
Pastor, Church Members Heroically Defend Others in Shooting
Cuba Welcomes Pope Francis
Pope Francis Will Test His Diplomacy on US Tour
Nonprofits Win Contraceptive Mandate Appeal
Faith Groups Stand with Refugees and Provide Aid
Ben Carson Under Fire for Saying a Muslim Shouldn’t be President
I Have the Nine: a Retrospective on the Charleston Church Shooting
Loving the Foreigner: Seeing Refugees Through God’s Eyes
Al-Qaeda Terrorist Transformed by the Gospel
Love Triangle at Stanford Business School?
The American Constitution: Why it Endures
READING: Zechariah 8-14
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: Frankly, while I’m enjoying this reading plan this year, I’m ready to get to the New Testament! I’m longing to get to the rest of the story — the Messiah who breaks our idolatries and restores our relationship with our Father. At the same time, though, I’m reminded today of how much the Old Testament and the New Testament overlap. Consider these words from Zechariah 8-14 that show up again in the New Testament:
Zech. 9:9 Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout in triumph, Daughter Jerusalem! Look, your King is coming to you; He is righteous and victorious, humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. [Matt. 21:5; John 12:15]
Zech. 11:13 “Throw it to the potter,” the Lord said to me—this magnificent price I was valued by them. So I took the 30 pieces of silver and threw it into the house of the Lord, to the potter. [Matt. 27:9]
Zech. 12:10 “Then I will pour out a spirit of grace and prayer on the house of David and the residents of Jerusalem, and they will look at Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly for Him as one weeps for a firstborn. [John 19:37]
Zech. 13:7 Sword, awake against My shepherd, against the man who is My associate—this is the declaration of the Lord of Hosts. Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will also turn My hand against the little ones. [Matt. 26:31; Mark 14:27]
Today, I stand amazed that God has given us His Word — a Word written over 15 centuries by dozens of writers, yet that speaks consistently and coherently to us. A God who chooses to make Himself known to people is an amazing God, indeed.
PRAYER: “Thank you, Father, for Your Word. Let me so amazed by it that I cannot help but want to read it every day.”
Our Time is Short
What is The Gospel?
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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