Two Types of Sinners
The Bible clearly tells us our ministry to these two types of sinners is to be handled differently. Yet because ignorant and rebellious sinners can look similar in their activities, often the church treats them alike. Unfortunately, not only does this create confusion and hardship in ministry but, even more consequentially with respect to eternity, can keep a needed dimension of the gospel from being heard by those who need it most.
The Practical Benefits of Peace
It cheers us in trial. The peace of God within us is our chiefest consolation when sorrows crowd in upon us. Lighted up with this true lamp, we are not greatly moved because of the darkness without. Peace with God is our anchor in the storm, our strong tower in adverse times, the soother of our hearts, and the dryer-up of our tears.
Private Sin, Public Fallout
How do these sins affect other believers? So called hidden sins lead to a deterioration of character reducing the ring of truth and the reality of what we do and say. …God does not bless the life in which there is hidden sin.” Second, the presence of sin, when it is discovered tarnishes the reputation of Christ and the local church in the community. And, contrary to the self-deceiving opiate of reassurance with which the culprit soothes himself, sin almost always leaks out of the most committed efforts for containment.
The God Who Actually Does Know What You’re Going Through
Suffering tempts us to withdraw from God when in reality we should press hard into God. Are you downcast? Are you suffering? Do you feel like you’ve been chewed up and spit out? Do you feel like butter scraped over too much bread? Draw near to the God who comforts the downcast. Draw near to the God who knows you exactly and knows exactly what you need. Draw near in your weakness and weariness and ready to call it quits-ness.
Your Child Is Your Neighbor
It’s true that our kids are God-given responsibilities we are to steward. But we will only steward them as we should by remembering that, first and foremost, our children are people we are to treasure. When we treasure our children as our neighbors, we remove from our discipline any hint of condemnation, shame, or contempt. We alter our language to communicate love and value, even when we must speak words of correction. And we replace our prayers of “please fix my frustrating child” with prayers of “please help me to love the little neighbor you have placed in my home, even as you have loved me.”
The Sufficiency and Insufficiency of Scripture
At the same time, this paragraph also speaks to the insufficiency of Scripture, that there are some circumstances which are to be ordered by the light of nature (general revelation), Christian prudence (wisdom), and the general rules of the word of God (special revelation). “The insufficiency of Scripture” may sound like a dangerous phrase, but all that is meant by that is simply what the confession teaches at this point: that there are certain situations and aspects of our earthly lives about which we may find general principles in the Bible, but require general revelation and wisdom, as well.
6 Principles for Small Group Facilitating
There are many other principles and techniques that can help facilitators lead well in a small group or Sunday School setting which open discussion is encouraged. These are a few that I have benefited from seeking to follow over the years. At the end of the day, a good facilitator will seek to lead with the most gentleness, faithfulness, wisdom and discernment for the benefit of the group as a whole.
We all want to know who we are. We seek and search and try to “find ourselves.” Many of us have taken personality tests and other assessments. We learn that we are a lion, a beaver, an ENFP, an activator, a competitor, a high I, high D.
But as helpful as those tests can be, have you ever stopped to ask, “What does God think about me? Who does he say that I am?”
In all my years as a Christian, I had never asked the question quite this way until recently. And what I found is that God has a lot to say about what he thinks about us — a whole Bible full. But if we could summarize it in a short space, here’s how it might sound.
You Are Valuable
I am the Creator and you are my creation. I breathed into your nostrils the breath of life (Genesis 2:7). I created you in my own image (Genesis 1:27). My eyes saw your unformed substance (Psalm 139:16). I knit you together in your mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). I know the number of hairs on your head, and before a word is on your tongue I know it (Matthew 10:30; Psalm 139:4). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14).
You are more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:31). I have given you dominion over all sheep and oxen and all beasts of the field and birds of the heavens and fish of the sea (Psalm 8:6–8; Genesis 1:26, 28). I have crowned you with glory and honor as the pinnacle and final act of the six days of creation (Psalm 8:5; Genesis 1:26).
However, from the very beginning, you exchanged the truth about me for a lie. You worshiped and served created things rather than me, the Creator (Romans 1:25). You have sinned and fallen short of my glory (Romans 3:23). Just as I said to Adam and Eve, the penalty for your sin is death (Romans 6:23; Genesis 2:17). And in your sin, you were spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1). You were children of wrath, living as enemies to me (Ephesians 2:3; Romans 5:10). You turned aside from me. You became corrupt. There is none who does good, not even one (Psalm 14:2–3). What you deserve is my righteous judgment (Psalm 7:11–12).
And yet, in my great love, I gave my unique Son, that all those who believe in him will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). While you were still sinners, Christ died for you. While you were still hostile toward me, you were reconciled to me by the death of my Son (Romans 5:8, 10). Sin doesn’t have the last word. Grace does (Romans 5:20).
Now everyone who calls on the name of Jesus will be saved (Romans 10:13). You who have believed are born again (1 Peter 1:3). I have adopted you (Ephesians 1:5). You are children of God, heirs of God (1 John 3:2; Romans 8:16–17). You are no longer orphans. You belong to me (John 14:18; 1 Corinthians 6:19). And I love you as a perfect Father (1 John 3:1; Luke 15:20–24).
You Are New
In my eyes, you are a brand new creation. The old has passed away; the new has come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Sin is no longer your master, for you died to sin and are now alive to me (Romans 6:11; Ephesians 2:4).
You are finally free from the slavery of sin and death. There is now no condemnation for you (Romans 8:1–2). All your sins are forgiven (1 John 1:9). All your unrighteousness has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus (1 John 1:7, 9). You are now righteous in my sight with the very righteousness of my perfect Son (Romans 4:5).
You’ve been saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8). You’ve been justified by faith (Romans 5:1). You are utterly secure in me; nothing will be able to separate you from my love in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:39). No one is able to snatch you out of my hand (John 10:29). And I will never leave you nor forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).
You Have My Spirit
You not only have a new Father, but also a new family of brothers and sisters (Luke 8:21). You are now part of the people of God (1 Peter 2:9). And together the life you now live is by faith in my Son (Galatians 2:20).
Look to Jesus. Keep your eyes on him. He is the author and perfecter of your faith (Hebrews 12:2). Christ is in you by my Spirit, and you are in Christ (John 15:5; Colossians 1:27). Stay close to Jesus. Abide in him (John 15:4). For your life is found in him (John 14:6; Colossians 3:3–4). To live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:21).
Don’t live by your own power or understanding. No, live by my Spirit within you (Zechariah 4:6; Proverbs 3:5). Remember, I have given you the Holy Spirit to be with you and in you (Romans 5:5; John 14:17). The Spirit will guide you into all truth, help you to obey me, and empower you to do my work (John 16:7, 13; Acts 1:8; Galatians 5:16).
You Will Be Transformed
As you seek me and see more of my glory, I am transforming you into the image of my Son (2 Corinthians 3:18; Exodus 33:18). One day you will be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet sound (1 Corinthians 15:52). When Jesus appears, you will be like him, because you shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2; Romans 8:29).
You will be delivered from your body of death through Jesus Christ, and your dwelling place will be with me (Romans 7:24–25; John 14:3). And I will wipe away every tear from your eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore (Revelation 21:3–4).
You will drink from the spring of the water of life without payment, and I myself will make for you a feast of rich food and well-aged wine (Revelation 21:6; Isaiah 25:6). You will enter my rest, inherit the kingdom I’ve prepared for you, and step into fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Hebrews 4:9–11; Matthew 25:34; Psalm 16:11).
But most of all, you will see my face and be with me where I am (Revelation 22:4; John 14:3).
You Represent Me
Therefore, walk in a manner worthy of your calling (Ephesians 4:1). You are no longer darkness, but light in my Son. Walk as children of light (Ephesians 5:8). You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill (Matthew 5:14). I have called you (2 Peter 1:3). I have chosen you (Revelation 17:14). You are now a saint, a servant, a steward, and a soldier (Romans 1:7; Acts 26:16; 1 Peter 4:10; 2 Timothy 2:3). You are a witness and a worker (Acts 1:8; Ephesians 2:10). Through Jesus you are victorious (1 Corinthians 15:57). You have a glorious future (Romans 8:18). You are a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). You are an ambassador for my Son (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Saeed Abedini is an Iranian American Christian pastor wrongfully imprisoned in Iran after trying to build a government-funded orphanage and holding Christian gatherings in Iran. He was sentenced to eight years in prison with threats that they would extend.
Yesterday, the Iranian government started to take steps in fulfilling this threat. Pastor Saeed shared distressing news with his wife during her visit to Rajaei Shahr prison in Iran.
“Yesterday in Iran, Iranian intelligence officers summoned Pastor Saeed for an intense round of interrogation. Pastor Saeed reported to his family that the interrogators were abusive both verbally and physically. During the course of interrogation, the officers repeatedly used a taser gun on Pastor Saeed. This new assault is concerning as Pastor Saeed is still being denied needed medical care for injuries sustained as a result of beatings in the past.
The interrogators threatened that Pastor Saeed will face new criminal charges. They claimed Pastor Saeed has connections with anti-government groups and has made statements and taken actions against the government of Iran. Pastor Saeed denied all of these allegations, and once again asserted that he is apolitical and that he has never threatened the security of, made any statements against, or taken any action against the Government of Iran,” wrote the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).
This week, Iranian President Rouhani will address the United Nations General Assembly in New York. ACLJ is renewing their efforts to encourage global leaders to speak out and “urge Iran to release Pastor Saeed.”
After hearing this news, Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh Abedini said:
“When will this nightmare end? Saeed is not a criminal. Being a Christian and motivated by Christian values to help the poorest and most needy children in Iran should be seen as good for the Iranian society. Hearing that yet again the hardliners in Iran are trying to fabricate evidence against my husband and that he was abused and tasered is almost too much to bear.
It is time for governments all over the world shift their focus to the injustices of the Iranian Government and call on the Government of Iran to free my husband. It is time for businesses seeking to do business in Iran to look beyond their bottom dollar and see the instability of a government known to imprison innocent men and women who have exercised their fundamental freedoms. Whether we operate in the field of business, government, or simply are members of human society, we must expect and demand more of our leaders.
I pray that as President Rouhani plans his travel to the United States next week, he will hear relentless voices crying out for Saeed’s freedom.”
This Saturday Pastor Saeed will have been imprisoned for three years. Join with many others in a pray vigil around the world this day for their family. Join Naghmah, ACLJ and 265,000 people in prayer as they “urge U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to intervene directly with the Iranian Government on Pastor Saeed’s behalf.”
Sign a petition at ACLJ.org to release Pastor Saeed.
The post Pastor Saeed Tasered, Abused and Threatened with Prolonged Sentence in Iran appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
2 Peter 2:1-3,
Commented upon by Matthew Henry (1662-1714)
(2 Peter 2:1)
In all ages of the church, and under all dispensations, when God sends true prophets, the devil sends some to seduce and deceive, false prophets in the Old Testament, and false Christs, false apostles, and seducing teachers, in the New. Concerning these observe,
- Their business is to bring in destructive errors, even damnable heresies, as the business of teachers sent of God is to show the way of truth, even the true way to everlasting life. There are damnable heresies as well as damnable practices; and false teachers are industrious to spread pernicious errors.
- Damnable heresies are commonly brought in privily, under the cloak and colour of truth.
- Those who introduce destructive heresies deny the Lord that bought them. They reject and refuse to hear and learn of the great teacher sent from God, though he is the only Saviour and Redeemer of men, who paid a price sufficient to redeem as many worlds of sinners as there are sinners in the world.
- Those who bring in errors destructive to others bring swift (and therefore sure) destruction upon themselves. Self-destroyers are soon destroyed; and those who are so hardened as to propagate errors destructive to others shall surely and suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.
(1 Peter 2:2)
II. [Peter] proceeds, in the second verse, to tell us the consequence with respect to others; and here we may learn,
- Corrupt leaders seldom fail of many to follow them; though the way of error is a pernicious way, yet many are ready to walk therein. Men drink in iniquity like water, and are pleased to live in error. The prophets prophesy falsely, and the people love to have it so.
- The spreading of error will bring up an evil report on the way of truth; that is, the way of salvation by Jesus Christ, who is the way, the truth, and the life. The Christian religion is from the God of truth as the author, leads to true happiness in the enjoyment of the true God as the end, and works truth in the inward part as the means of acceptably serving God. And yet this way of truth is traduced and blasphemed by those who embrace and advance destructive errors. This the apostle has foretold as what should certainly come to pass. Let us not be offended at any thing of this in our day, but take care that we give no occasion to the enemy to blaspheme the holy name whereby we are called, or speak evil of that way whereby we hope to be saved.
(1 Peter 2:3)
III. Observe, in the next place, the method seducers take to draw disciples after them: they use feigned words; they flatter, and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple, inducing them to yield entirely to the opinions which these seducers endeavour to propagate, and sell and deliver themselves over to the instruction and government of these false teacher, who make a gain of those whom they make their proselytes, serving themselves and making some advantage of them; for all this is through covetousness, with a desire and design to get more wealth, or credit, or commendation, by increasing the number of their followers.
The faithful ministers of Christ, who show men the way of truth, desire the profit and advantage of their followers, that they may be saved; but these seducing teachers desire and design only their own temporal advantage and worldly grandeur….
Men are apt to think that a reprieve is the forerunner of a pardon, and that if judgment be not speedily executed it is, or will be, certainly reversed. But the apostle tells us that how successful and prosperous soever false teachers may be, and that for a time, yet their judgment lingereth not. God has determined long ago how he will deal with them. Such unbelievers, who endeavour to turn others from the faith, are condemned already, and the wrath of God abideth on them. The righteous Judge will speedily take vengeance; the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
Letter to the Editor: Pope Francis Points to the “Contemplative” “Thomas Merton” in Speech to Congress . . . And the Role This Could Play in a One-World Religion
One of the defining issues of our times regarding the Christian Church in America is the Supreme Court ruling that homosexuals can marry, defying the Word of God in an act of blatant disobedience against Him. Yet God promises us in His Word that in all things he works for the good of those who […]
Christians-and-Sexuality.mp3 21.8 MB
It seems everywhere we turn these days on the internet, another “discernment” ministry has popped up to grab our attention. Many are effective ministries, but some seem to be playing “gotcha” and actually enjoy calling out false believers or the perceived sin of others. While some do high quality work and actually provide good […]
Just-What-Is-Discernment_.mp3 21.4 MB
There is no doubt the Christian Church in America is entering a time of great challenges. As our nation and government embrace secular humanism at an alarming rate, the pressure on individual believers and pastors to just “shut up and keep your religion to yourself” will intensify greatly in the coming months […]
“I’m just not a leader.” Men, how many times have we cowered behind that false statement? How many times have we sat back and allowed others to lead our families and children? The truth is God has ordained Christian men to be spiritual leaders in their families and in the church. Today more than ever […]
When we are in the state of salvation, faith doth all; for whenas all graces else would soon be overcome and cast out again by lusts, and would soon be tripped up from off their standing, faith is able to keep its legs and standing, Rom. 5:2. Therefore, 1 Peter 1:5, we are said to […]
The Young Messiah is an upcoming American biblical drama set to hit theaters in March 2016. The movie portrays a seven-year-old Jesus returning from Egypt to His hometown of Nazareth, and along the way discovers the truth about who He is. In a press release, Director Chis Nowrasteh stated, “[The] film seeks to present a […]
Here’s my response to this week’s challenge:
Nothing will deplete your faith like looking at what you lack.
I find that the more I fixate on my lack of resources, the strengths I don’t have, the weaknesses I do have, the heavier the weight of unbelief becomes and the harder the race of faith becomes (Hebrews 12:1).
Looking at a deficit fuels our fear and drains our hope. A deficit says we don’t have enough to make the payment, meet the need, make the deadline, preach the sermon, fix the marriage, instruct the child, counsel that hard case, defeat the sin, or overcome the weakness. We don’t take risks with a deficit in view.
Looking at a surplus, on the other hand, fuels our courage and fills us with hope. A surplus means there is more than enough to meet our needs. And a surplus encourages expansive dreaming and generosity toward others.
You Have No Deficit
Left to ourselves, we have deficits that are horrifyingly real. Without God in this world we would have very good reason to feel hopeless (Ephesians 2:12).
But the good news is that if you’re a Christian, you no longer have any deficits. None. Christ not only paid your unfathomable sin debt (Colossians 2:14), he also purchased for you “all things” (Romans 8:32). That’s all things! What you have is an oil jar of God’s provision that will never run out (1 Kings 17:14). You have a bank account you cannot overdraw.
If this hasn’t been our experience, we are tempted to qualify this nearly incredible claim. But we cannot qualify it and be faithful to the Bible. This is not some prosperity theology’s over-realized eschatology. It’s what the Bible unequivocally and unapologetically tells us we should expect to experience right now in this age:
And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
They are astounding promises. They aren’t promises of unfailing health (Philippians 2:25–27) or extravagant wealth (Philippians 4:12). But they promise that God will provide for every need so that we will abound in every good work and be “enriched in every way to be generous in every way” (2 Corinthians 9:11).
The Key to the Storehouse
These promises of provision are unequivocal and unapologetic, but they are not unconditional. The condition is faith (Matthew 17:20; John 11:40; James 1:5–7). We open the jar of God’s provision and access God’s bottomless bank account by exercising faith. We must act on the promises, or their contents remain untapped.
Unbelief looks at what we perceive to be a deficit and loses heart. Unbelief doesn’t think there will be anything in the jar and so doesn’t open it. Unbelief doesn’t think the funds in the account will be available and so doesn’t draw against them.
Unbelief can exist with alarming ease alongside an assent to sound doctrine. We can affirm the truth of these promises, but if we are unwilling to act on them they do us no good. Because we don’t in fact believe them.
In these promises, God shows us his storehouse of abounding provision. Faith is the key that opens the storehouse. And God wants us to open his storehouse! He wants us to have his abounding grace! Yet he requires faith because “without faith it is impossible to please him . . . [but] he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).
Stop the Deficit Review
Now, if you’re like me, at this point you say, “I know! But telling me that I don’t have enough faith doesn’t help me have more. It just shows me my deficit and makes me feel defeated! Show me how to have more faith!”
Good! When we’re sick and tired of being a disciple with “little faith” (Luke 12:28), we’re ready to take steps to change.
And change begins by stopping our deficit review. We must stop looking at our lack: our lack of resources, wisdom, and power, even our lack of faith. Our deficits discourage and defeat. Our deficits deplete faith. That’s why Satan accuses you, tries to point out your bankruptcy, and overall encourages you to think about yourself as much as possible. He does not want you to look to Jesus and all the abounding grace that he purchased for you.
Seek First the Kingdom
But if we look to Jesus, he shows us how to increase our faith. First he says,
“Do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.” (Luke 12:29–31)
Jesus tells us not to look at the world’s deficits, but to the Father’s kingdom. Make kingdom priorities our top priorities and he will provide every need of ours. What specific priorities? Ask God and look to the Scriptures. He will make that clear.
Then Jesus says,
“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Luke 12:32–34)
Jesus tells us to exercise faith by actually divesting ourselves of our security idols and giving away more than we believe we can. Jesus’s challenge: Put the promise to the test and do not be afraid. Our Father delights in giving us the kingdom and all its treasures!
Lay aside the weight of your deficits by:
- Looking away from deficits
- Instead, look to your Source of abounding grace and never ending surplus, which is available to you right now
- Seek the Father’s kingdom first
- Take steps to liquidate your false securities and give with radical generosity.
God’s promise is that if we do this, we will see him act and our faith will increase.
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• C. Peter Wagner’s Dominionism
The alliances necessary for Ezekiel 38 and 39 to come to pass are in place, and functioning well. Russia and Iran are very close. Turkey have become natural allies to Iran due to a hatred for Israel. Indeed, Recap Ergogan, President of Turkey openly despises Israel, he is a vicious hater of Israel who talks often of the need to free Al-Quds from the hands of the Jews. Al-Quds is known in Arabic as Jerusalem.
Orthodox Jews See Blood Moon As Big Deal
It’s not just evangelical Christians, messianic Jews and Hebrew roots believers touting something big, something significant in the tetrad of blood moons set for a grand finale “supermoon” show Sept. 28. Increasingly, Orthodox Jewish leaders and teachers are saying the event is significant historically and for the future of Israel and the Jewish people. ……….. Click here for full story
Christian Man Fired For Sharing Faith Based Film With Lesbian Co-Workers On Facebook
A dedicated Christian steel worker in Ohio has been fired after he shared his faith and the faith-based movie “Audacity” with two lesbian co-workers, leaving a him, his wife and two kids without any income…………. Click here for full story
Obama Throws Christian Refugees To Lions
The fate of those Iraqi Christians who had fled from the Islamic State only to be incarcerated in the United States has finally been decided by the Obama administration: they are to be thrown back to the lions, where they will likely be persecuted, if not slaughtered, like so many Iraqi Christians before them………… Click here for full story
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.” – 1 Corinthians 16:13
Phil Johnson, in a sermon titled Marching Orders, stated:
[In this verse] Paul uses the Greek verb andrizomai (an-DRID-zom-ahee) in the middle voice. It’s another one-word imperative, though it’s hard to make it one word in English. Literally, “play the man.” Or in modern terminology, “man up.”
It’s a word that speaks of masculinity as opposed to femininity. He’s not saying be grownups rather than children; he’s saying “act like men, not like girls.” And frankly, Corinth was an effeminate culture, so that was a fitting charge to give to the church at Corinth. And let’s be honest, it’s also a fitting admonition for a large segment of evangelicals today.
“Be courageous” is certainly an important aspect of what Paul means, but it’s really bigger than that. He is commending all those characteristics that we think of as masculine rather than feminine—even though it’s not politically correct these days to categorize character traits that way. Paul is sweeping up and including in that command attributes like courage, and strength, and boldness—stout-heartedness, heroism, daring, gallantry, machismo. There is, of course, a more pedestrian aspect to true machismo, and it’s the idea of work. When God created Adam, He made him to work—to tend the garden—even before the Fall. That’s something to remember in this age of leisure. We need to be redeeming the time. You can’t exclude that from this command.
But remember the context is militant. This is first of a call to arms and a summons to battle. “Fight like men; defend the faith in a manly way.” That is surely the cardinal idea here.
Now it’s worth noting that this verse is written to the whole church—it’s not addressed to men only—and much less does Paul single out only the elders and the church leaders. This apples to every Christian. There’s a sense in which even the women in Corinth needed to cultivate the strength and fortitude of a warrior—like Deborah in the book of judges.
But if this applies to everyone in the church, it is the particular duty of men to be spiritual leaders and to model the spirit of virile, vigorous, vigilant faith—steadfast and courageous. And I love it that Paul has no scruples about connecting those ideas with manliness. “Act like men!” Masculinity. That is certainly one of the missing qualities of churches today.
You know, the old King James Version of this verse says, “Quit you like men” and I fear that sometime in the late 20th century or so a lot of evangelical readers mistook the message and thought it meant “Quit being men.”
Several books have been written analyzing the feminization of evangelical churches. I gave a lengthy message on this subject two years ago at a Grace Church Men’s conference—that message is online if you want to download it. Some people got offended by what I had to say.
But I think it’s an incontrovertible fact that the typical evangelical church of this generation has become weak and womanly. Churchgoers demand that preachers be soft and dainty—especially when they are dealing with hard-edged truths. If you don’t sufficiently tone down every severe text or hard-to-receive doctrine in the Bible, the tone police will write you up for an infraction before you can get from the pulpit to the front door. All the rough edges of every truth must be carefully sanded smooth and painted in pastel tones. We’ve traded up to cushy seats instead of hard-bench pews and we expect our preachers to fashion their message accordingly. None of this sinners-in-the-hands-of-an-angry-God stuff.
Instead, today’s evangelicals favor feminine themes: Let’s talk about how we hurt; let’s discuss our personal relationships; we need to meet people’s felt needs; you need to feel what I feel before you can hit me with unvarnished truth. The church has begun to look weak, effeminate, frightened, sissified—like a society of dressmakers and interior decorators instead of soldiers.
We’re told relentlessly that we have to be always agreeable no matter what—seeker-sensitive, gender-neutral, and delicate in everything we say and do. Listen: the Christian life is not high tea with fancy biscuits. It’s a battle, and we need to think and act accordingly.
The feminization of the church has received a lot of attention in recent years, and more and more people are recognizing the problem. The church is not reaching and ministering to men—we’re actually driving them away. But those who see the problem more often than not have really bad solutions. You know: have the men’s Bible studies over beer, cigars, and poker games. Get your men watching cage-fighting and encourage them to develop a taste for blood sport. Or go out in the woods, put on war paint, and perfect the art of the primal scream. Salt your vocabulary with a sailor’s favorite expletives. Or (my favorite) Live Action Role Playing, or LARPing, where you dress up like a knight or a gladiator and assume that persona out in a vacant field somewhere with other people who are doing the same thing. Right. Dress up and pretend. As if that were the way to be masculine.
None of those things even comes close to the essence of true, virile masculinity. In fact, those are all things little boys do.
Paul has none of those things in mind when he tells the Corinthians to man up. He is telling them as simply and straightforwardly as possible to be bold, sober-minded, mature, and committed to their calling—like soldiers. Be valiant soldiers in the battle for truth. You don’t have to take up smoking or swearing or get a tattoo on your arm to fulfill that command. Those are all external things. The kind of masculinity Paul is calling for here is all about character and conduct; it’s not merely a costume you wear.
In fact, notice the two imperatives on either side of this command to act like men. They explain the true gist of it: “Be steadfast.” “Be strong.” Those are character qualities. And sandwiched between them is this: “Act like men.” The imperatives in that string of commands basically explain one another. Strength, steadfastness, courage, and even vigilance—these are all vital aspects of what Paul means when he says, “Act like men.”
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I just finished listening to the Pope’s speech to Congress from earlier today (watch below). There is no question that the occasion was historic—the first time ever that a Pope has delivered such an address. Indeed, it would have been impossible to imagine such an invitation being extended just fifty years ago. But the times have changed, and now the United States Congress has done something unprecedented.
Nevertheless, even though the speech was historic, it was also a disappointment—not so much for what he did say but for what he didn’t say. For example:
1. The Pope didn’t mention Jesus. Not even in passing. He moralized and polticized, but he rooted none of it in anything explicitly Christian. He stands before the United States Congress—a platform that commands the attention of the world—and he says nothing about the heart of the Christian gospel. Nothing about Jesus Christ crucified and raised for sinners. Nothing about the Kingdom of God and the renewal of all things in Christ. Nothing about forgiveness of sins, reconciliation with God, and the summing up of all things in Christ. It seems to me that a man who is supposed to be God’s apostle on earth might speak with a little more clarity about the author and perfecter of our faith. As it is, his speech could have been uttered in good conscience by a Jew or a Muslim. There literally was nothing distinctively Christian about it.
2. The Pope didn’t speak prophetically but politically. The Pope spoke clearly and at length in support of liberal political priorities—climate change, immigration, abolishing the death penalty. He spoke vaguely and briefly (if at all) about the most contested social issues of our time—abortion, marriage, and religious liberty.
3. The Pope didn’t mention abortion explicitly. He did say this: “The Golden Rule also reminds us of our responsibility to protect and defend human life at every stage of its development.” That was it. After that, he had nothing specific to say about abortion. Nothing. He spoke specifically to defend the lives of the guilty from the death penalty. But he said nothing specific to defend the lives of the innocent millions who have been killed legally in our country since 1973. Over 56 million people have been killed legally in our country under the regime of Roe v. Wade. To put that number in perspective, that is the holocaust times nine. There is no question that abortion-on-demand is the greatest human rights crisis of our time, and the Pope said nothing about it. He said nothing about our federal government’s funding of Planned Parenthood’s abortion mills. He said nothing about the culture of death being fostered in America.
4. The Pope didn’t mention anything explicit about the challenge of gay marriage. He did say this:
I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life.
If he meant to address marriage at all, he only did so in the most indirect way—with a vague passive sentence: “Fundamental relationships are being called into question.” That was it. Nothing about the redefinition of marriage or our Supreme Court’s recent ruling. At best, his defense of traditional marriage is inferential and implicit. It’s certainly neither clear nor explicit.
I don’t have high expectations of this Pope. Why not? Not only is the papacy itself an unbiblical office, this Pope hails from the most liberal order within Catholic life—the Jesuits—and his political priorities reflect that. Since becoming Pope, he has shown what his priorities are. For those reasons, it’s no surprise that there was nothing explicitly Christian about the speech.
There is more that I might quibble with about this speech, but the items above are the heart of my concerns. What are yours?
22 Pope Francis Statements Proving He’s a Leftist
Mike Garcia, columnist for NewsMax, has compiled a list of past statements by the pope that allegedly shows that he’s a leftist:
Pope Francis upset many conservatives when he released his encyclical on climate change this summer, but it’s certainly not the first time he’s raised eyebrows. The pontiff’s past comments on homosexuality, capitalism, and international geopolitics have also ruffled those on the right.
As the pope gears up for his trip to the U.S. next month, many will be waiting to see what message he delivers directly to the American people. Many conservatives aren’t holding their breath, however.
Gathered below are 22 past statements by the pope that prove he’s a consistent leftist.
1. He has called for centralized redistribution of wealth. In May of last year, the pope addressed the U.N., calling for what sounded like a socialist “redistribution of economic benefits by the state.”
2. He has contradicted the teachings of past popes. Pope Francis’ comments contrast starkly with John Paul II’s writings. In Centensimus Annus (1991), John Paul acknowledged that Marxism clearly failed with the fall of the Soviet Union, and praised any economic system “which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production as well as free human creativity in the economic sector.
10 Counterfeit Jesus Figures We Should Stop Worshiping
by Daniel Darling
Jesus is still very popular these days, even at a time when Christianity seems to be facing more social marginalization. From political and social movements to kitschy products to bumper stickers, we’ve appropriated Jesus as a mascot for our favorite causes. But we have to wonder, is this the real Jesus of the Bible or a Jesus of our own making?
In Romans, the Apostle Paul teaches of Christ’s mission to call out a people and form them into His likeness, but it seems we are more interested in forming Jesus into our image. Even conservative, Bible-believing evangelicals are fond of making statements like, “The Jesus I know would . . . ” as if Jesus — who claimed to be the Triune God, one with the Father — can be easily molded into whatever we wish him to be.
Soon the Jesus we claim to worship looks strangely like the man in the mirror.
What are some ways we are tempted to mold Jesus, like clay, into whatever we want him to be? Here are 10 partial Jesus’ popular in Christian culture:
1. Guru Jesus
This is the Jesus of the enlightenment, the Jesus who existed in human history, but is not nearly as radical as that Jesus of the gospels. Guru Jesus is the wise, winsome, slightly supernatural figure who fits nicely alongside other religious titans like Buddah, Muhammad, Vishnu, and others. This is a safe Jesus, who will only ever tell us good, affirming, uplifting things, but doesn’t bother us with dangerous talk of the Kingdom of God.
But here’s the problem with Guru Jesus: not only does he defy the historical record and the claims of Jesus Himself, he’s also much less compelling than the Christ of Scripture. Guru Jesus doesn’t meet the deepest longings of the human experience, doesn’t answer the problem of evil, and offers no hope for future cosmic renewal.
2. Red Letter Jesus
This Jesus is in vogue among many well-meaning, progressive evangelicals. He’s a Jesus I’m tempted, at times, to embrace. He’s present in the kind of Christianity that only takes seriously those quotes of Jesus in the gospels that are marked out by Bible publishers in red ink.
What is convenient about this Jesus is that he replaces the so-called angry God of the Old Testament with a mostly peaceful, healing, non-controversial Jesus of justice. What’s more, he’s way more likeable than that irascible Apostle Paul who just doesn’t understand twenty-first century social norms.
There is only one problem with Red Letter Jesus…
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Five Suggestions for Christians in the Midst of the Sexual Revolution
by Kevin DeYoung
Hardly a week goes by without another social media parade marching by in celebration of the sexual revolution. Bruce Jenner, Caitlyn Jenner, Kim Davis, Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Obergefell and on and on –the talk of sex is everywhere (and not a drop you should drink). It’s almost impossible to turn on the tv or scroll through your phone or open the paper (what are those?) without being bombarded by pictures and stories and headlines that all have to do with sex–not just sensuality (which would be bad enough), but the castigation of those who uphold traditional sexual boundaries and the applauding of every permutation of sexual activity (“infinite diversity in infinite combinations” as one political fundraising letter put it).
How should evangelical Christians and evangelical churches respond?
Here are five suggestions:
1. Do not be shrill. Remember: at any time, anyone can listen to almost anything you say. There are no “private” thoughts on Facebook. Any post or comment you write or share or like or pass along can be read by friends, opponents, and strugglers. This doesn’t mean we can’t speak clearly or strongly or with passion. But if you just need to emote, go on a long walk and pour your heart out to God. Let’s show the world that Christians are reasonable and unwilling to revile in return. Happy warriors not shrieking sirens.
2. Do not be silent. If you said “Amen” to the first suggestion, don’t miss this one. I suppose giving up is one way to end the culture war, but it hardly seems consistent with the whole salt-and-light business Jesus talked about…
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I am a working mother. I am a steady volunteer for my children’s respective schools and my church. I’m a carpool mom for various after-school programs, a wife of 15 years, a daughter of aging parents, and a mother trying to cook healthy homemade meals at least three times a week.
I’m an aunt to nine nieces and nephews and, in my spare time, I’m trying to lose ten pounds before my niece’s wedding in October, to develop friendships — and did I mention recording a new EP album before November? Needless to say, I have many good things vying for my attention and time, along with ample excuses not to get it all done in any given day.
A Challenge to Work
Yesterday, my car pulled out of my driveway at 8:32am. Frankly, I was pretty proud of myself for being ready for the day: perfume and make-up applied, everyone fed, and kids off to school by this hour. As I was driving, I saw a woman running with a jogging stroller, which held three toddler triplets. I’ve seen this woman before — frequently in fact — but this morning the image of this mother and her children hit me in a whole new way.
I thought, Here is a woman who is hungry to grow. This woman’s desire for physical health far exceeded the difficulty of wrangling three toddlers into a stroller by 8:30 am (sometimes even earlier).
While spiritual growth is partly produced by the believer, it is sovereignly governed by God.
Observing this woman’s tenacity and desire instantly inspired me. She is working hard for something she really values, I thought. This young mother has at least three justifiable “excuses” for why she didn’t have to be jogging at that hour of the morning. She had plenty of good things vying for her time and attention.
But, instead of surrendering to the obstacles which stood in the way of her physical health, instead of wishing her circumstances were different, instead of waiting for them to change, she stopped wishing and started working toward her goal, despite adversities.
While observing this woman, God challenged me about my spiritual growth:
- What am I willing to endure to grow in my faith?
- Where is my tenacity and desire these days?
- Am I wishing for, rather than working for, a deeper relationship with Christ?
Recently, I’ve found myself in precisely the place of wishing, rather than working. What about you?
Time in God’s Word is so easily set aside when the pressures of work, our kids’ schedules, our marriages, and our community time are all vying for our attention. As for the running-mother-of-triplets, the tyranny of the urgent could have crowded out her need to work towards her health. But it didn’t. She made the decision to work for growth.
Will we do the same?
As believers, it is vital for us to make the decision to work for spiritual growth, so we are personally transformed and so we can impact others with the love of Christ.
Pastor and author John MacArthur aptly reminds us in his article “Who Is Responsible For Your Spiritual Growth?“:
…the Christian life is anything but a passive pursuit. The New Testament commands believers to “be all the more diligent” (2 Peter 1:10), to take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5), to “strive to enter through the narrow door” (Luke 13:24), to “run” that we may obtain the prize (1 Corinthians 9:24), and to “work out” our salvation (Philippians 2:12). Our spiritual growth clearly involves human exertion.
But MacArthur also reminds us from Philippians 2:12-13 that, while spiritual growth is in part produced by the believer, it is also sovereignly governed by God:
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
God Works, We Work
Therefore, because it is God at work within us, we have been given everything we need to pursue growth in Christ. When we are daily devoted to developing a deeper connection with Christ, allowing God to do a work in us through the truth of his Word, the growth results are as follows:
His delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers. (Psalm 1:2-3)
Establishing a daily routine and working toward, not just wishing for, a deeper relationship with Christ is so worth it. When we unlock God’s living and active Word, Psalm 1 tells us we will yield fruit and we will prosper.
Do you find yourself wishing for a deeper connection with Christ? If so, what is one thing you can do to create time and space to commune with the God of the universe?
- A Three-Step Diet to Healthier Soul
- Choose the Good Portion before the Crazy Train
- Faith Is Like a Muscle and Needs to Be Exercised
Billy Graham is proud to be 96-and-a-half years old and hopes to live to 100. His son, Franklin says he’s quieter now, but still sharp.
Franklin said he thinks God still has him here on earth to encourage Christians around the world.
“Especially now that we see Christians under attack in this country—and this is something, we’re going to see more and more of this—my father is still present. Even though he’s not able to speak as much as he used to, he’s still present, and I think that is a great encouragement to many people to know that Billy Graham is still with us,” said Franklin.
To honor Billy Graham, here are ten of the best things he has said:
“Being a Christian is more than just an instantaneous conversion; it is like a daily process whereby you grow to be more and more like Christ.”
“God never takes away something from your life without replacing it with something better.”
“The will of God will not take us where the grace of God cannot sustain us.”
“God has given us two hands–one to receive with and the other to give with. We are not cisterns made for hoarding; we are channels made for sharing.”
“We are the Bibles the world is reading; We are the creeds the world is needing; We are the sermons the world is heeding.”
“Christ not only died for all: He died for each.”
“Does God hate the wicked? Or does he just hate the wicked things they do?”
Scripture makes it clear that God has a judicial hatred for wicked men (Psalm 11:5). This is different than the sinful hatred you and I may have, because God is without sin.
Pope Francis has landed and, if the media circus is an indication, it’s a pretty big deal. Historically I can understand the significance of his visit. He’s only the fourth Pope to come to the United States—the first being Pope Paul VI in 1965. For the first time in congressional history the Bishop of Rome addressed both houses of Congress. And since over seventy-million people in America are more or less devoted to the Holy See, his voice on social concerns from the unborn, to immigration, and family values isn’t completely irrelevant. Despite the pomp and pageantry, however, maybe it’s a good day to be reminded why we’re Protestant.
One of the things that has captured the attention of the world is Pope Francis’s humble approach to the papacy. From the moment he was inaugurated he refused the papal car and rode on the bus with his fellow bishops. Everyone was amazed when he took time to pay his hotel bill. He even chose to forgo the Apostolic Palace as a place of residence and prefers the more modest St. Martha’s Guesthouse. Just this week he turned down an invitation to lunch with Washington’s elite to serve and dine with the homeless. While this has enamored the media, drawn tribute from President Obama on the White House South Lawn, and won praise from so many people, I personally find it completely contradictory that a man with such a reputation can still call himself “Pope,” or according to his full title, “His Holiness, Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the Vatican City State, Servant of the servants of God.”
Why do I say that? Because there’s no humility in the office of Pope. That title isn’t a meaningless word. It has a definition. Or, to put it this way, it has doctrine. The Pope isn’t simply some foreign dignitary with social concerns ranging from the unborn to climate change, he isn’t only some figurehead who holds the power of opinion and persuasion, he isn’t a church leader who only exercises supervision and guidance or starts conversations. In Catholic belief he is so much more.
For instance, the Catholic Catechism says:
“The Pope, Bishop of Rome and Peter’s successor, ‘is the perpetual and visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful.’ ‘For the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered’” (882).
“In order to preserve the Church in the purity of the faith handed on by the apostles, Christ who is the Truth willed to confer on her a share in his own infallibility…The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful—who confirms his brethren in their faith—he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals” (888, 891).
The Council of Florence Declared:
“We likewise define that the holy Apostolic See, and the Roman Pontiff, hold the primacy throughout the entire world; and that the Roman Pontiff himself is the successor of blessed Peter, the chief of the Apostles, and the true vicar of Christ, and that he is the head of the entire Church, and the father and teacher of all Christians; and that full power was given to him in blessed Peter by our Lord Jesus Christ, to feed, rule, and govern the universal Church.”
The First Vatican Council Maintains:
“If anyone says that the Roman pontiff is not the successor of blessed Peter in this primacy let him be anathema” (4.2.5).
“We promulgate anew the definition of the ecumenical council of Florence which must be believed by all faithful Christians, namely that the apostolic see and the Roman Pontiff hold a world-wide primacy, and that the Roman pontiff is the successor of blessed Peter, the prince of the apostles, true vicar of Christ, head of the whole church and father and teacher of all christian people. To him, in blessed Peter, full power has been given by our Lord Jesus Christ to tend, rule and govern the universal church” (4.3.1).
“We teach and declare that, by divine ordinance, the Roman church possesses a pre-eminence of ordinary power over every other church, and that this jurisdictional power of the Roman pontiff is both episcopal and immediate. Both clergy and faithful, of whatever rite and dignity, both singly and collectively, are bound to submit to this power by the duty of hierarchal subordination and true obedience, and this not only in matters of faith and morals, but in those which regard the discipline and government of the church throughout the world” (4.3.2).
“This is the teaching of the catholic truth, and no one can depart from it without endangering his faith and salvation” (4.3.3).
The Second Vatican Council’s Lumen Gentium Affirms:
“But the college or body of bishops has no authority unless it is understood together with the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter as its head. The pope’s power of primacy over all, both pastors and faithful, remains whole and intact. In virtue of his office, that is as Vicar of Christ and pastor of the whole Church, the Roman Pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the Church. And he is always free to exercise this power.”
Those aren’t humble and lowly claims–they’re extraordinary! The man who was greeted by our President, who addressed a joint-session of Congress, who is meeting tens of thousands of Americans in three cities believes he is Christ’s substitute on earth endowed with universal authority and power over all Christians who cannot, without endangering their souls, deny him. Where is the humility in that? It is, or in the very least it comes extremely close to “proclaiming himself to be God” (2 Thessalonians 2:4)–especially since there isn’t a shred of biblical support for it. The Vatican itself has acknowledged, “The New Testament contains no explicit record of a transmission of Peter’s leadership; nor is the transmission of apostolic authority very clear” and that “the New Testament texts offer no sufficient basis” for Papal supremacy (see First Anglican/Roman Catholic International Commission, sections 6 & 7). So lofty and grandiose are the claims of the Papacy that Roman Catholic theologian Matthias Scheeben wrote, “If the power over the human mind and the infallible possession of Divine truth claimed by the Catholic hierarchy did not really come from God, the claim would be horrible blasphemy, and the hierarchy would be the work of the devil.” Such strong language probably makes many Protestants (and, I suspect, many Catholics!) quite uncomfortable. So much for a humble approach to the Papacy.
Pastor, your spiritual health matters to your church. Your pursuit of Christ impacts your people. You know this, of course, but does your daily schedule reflect it? When you allocate time and energy toward the spiritual disciplines, do you do so with a view toward what is at stake? God’s sovereign purposes are not dependent on your maturity, of course, but the New Testament often speaks of the significance of a pastor’s spirituality to the health of his congregation. Consider the following seven reasons motivation for the pursuit of godliness and guides to praying for your own growth.
7 motivations for pursuing God:
1. God is holy and he will not be mocked.
Personal holiness is indispensable because you serve a holy God (1 Peter 4:14–16). But your growth in godliness must be rooted in faithfulness to Christ, not the pursuit of fruitful ministry. Your motivation has to rest on the character of God because no other incentive will be constant. Your people may not know if you falter in your private devotions, and you may not be a pastor forever. But he who called you into holiness will always be holy and he will not be mocked (Gal. 6:7–9).
2. Godliness is good for you.
The pursuit of godliness is not at odds with your hopes for happiness. In fact, as Paul reminded Timothy, godliness “holds promise for the present life” (1 Tim. 4:8). Pastors who are growing in their faith can take comfort in a clean conscience. You may not always know what to do in your ministry, but you can know with certainty how to do it—with Christ-like character. Moreover, godliness holds promise “also for the life to come” (1 Tim. 4:8). Your regular efforts to discipline yourself are daily deposits into that moment when you hear your master declare, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matt. 25:21).
3. Your spirituality can inspire or impede the salvation of others.
The apostle Paul once told a young pastor to keep a close watch on his life and teaching because “by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). Paul was not suggesting that a pastor’s lifestyle alone will bring salvation to his congregation. Rather, he seemed to be pointing to the power of preaching the Word of God and living a life that makes it more believable. When others observe a life transformed by the gospel, they are inspired to consider the good news for themselves. Your life is not the means of salvation for anyone, but it can be used by God to point them in the right direction. Likewise, it can be a distraction from the truth you preach each week.
4. Your conduct impacts the effectiveness of your communication.
A brilliant sermon can be silenced by a lifestyle that contradicts it. As leaders, we must strive “to keep the commandment unstained” (1 Tim. 6:14), so that “the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:5). You put hours into studying the text so that you can faithfully expound upon its meaning. Do not short-circuit your efforts by forsaking your own spirituality. Your prayer life is more important than your sermon prep. If you want to point your people faithfully to the power of the Word, start by persistently consuming it yourself.
5. Your people learn discipline from you as well as doctrine.
Paul’s example with Timothy reminds us that the people we lead and serve will inherit more from us than simply our sermons (2 Tim. 3:10). In fact, God commands them to do so (Hebrews 13:7). As a pastor, you can help your people grow in spiritual maturity by living a life worthy of imitation. This kind of leadership cannot be accomplished as you breeze past the pews on your way to the pulpit each week. You have to know your people and they have to know you. You ought to be able to say to them, “Be imitators of me as I am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Then you must live a life that will give you no regrets if they do.
6. Your enemy wants to destroy you.
Wise pastors know their enemy well, and they recognize their daily peril as preachers of God’s Word (1 Peter 5:8). The enemy would love to see your study of Scripture become a professional skill rather than a personal discipline. He will coax you toward using the text as ammunition against your congregation rather than applying it to your own heart. He will draw your attention to the specks of others while distracting you from the log in your own eye (Matt. 7:3–5). Pastors, “Keep watch on yourself lest you too be tempted” (Gal. 6:1).
7. A reckoning awaits.
Pastors are stewards of the mysteries of God (Col. 1:24–25) and will some day give an account for their work (Matt. 25:19, James 3:1). The prospect of this day ought to humble us to seek the Spirit anew every morning. As a pastor, you have not merely received a job to do but souls to guard (Heb.13:17). Therefore, pastors must pursue spiritual maturity for their own sake and for the sake of those entrusted to their care. “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Gal.6:9).
Whether you are a pastor or future pastor, there are critical things at stake in how you live your life.
Matthew D. Haste, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Ministry Studies at Columbia International Seminary and School of Ministry in Columbia, SC, where he serves as Faculty Mentor for the 5-year B.A./M.Div Program. He is married to Cheyenne and they have three kids: Haddon, Anna, and Adelyn. He is co-author, along with Robert L. Plummer, of Held in Honor: Wisdom for your Marriage from Voices of the Past (Christian Focus, 2015).
17 Quotes on Worship
Pastor Paul Tautges collates 17 Quotes on Worship.
What Are the Most Common Struggles of a Regular Pastor?
Pastor Brian Croft at his Practical Shepherding site, addresses the question, What Are the Most Common Struggles of a Regular Pastor?
A Powerful Practice for Prayer
Tim Challies acknowledges what would be wise for all of us to admit: maintaining a consistent prayer life is difficult, yet vital. He provides a succinct word of counsel for addressing our prayer lives in A Powerful Practice for Prayer.
2 (Glorious) Truths About God’s Wrath
Pastor J.D. Greear writes, “There is little question that in today’s society, the wrath of God is the most offensive doctrine imaginable.” Then he writes, “as much as we hate to think about wrath, it’s actually a good doctrine—something that when we understand it, leads us to know, love, and worship God. A god without wrath would actually be a god without goodness.” Pastor Greear develops his thinking in 2 (Glorious) Truths About God’s Wrath.
Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?
At the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors, they are producing Truth in Love podcast. They have also now begun providing complete transcripts of those podcast. Go to this link to read the transcript of Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?
Kindle deals for Christian readers
My friend Trillia’s recently released book, Fear and Faith, is on sale right now for $3.03. It’s worth getting at any price, so don’t pass up the deal. Reform Heritage’s “Cultivating Biblical Godliness” series is also on sale 99¢ each:
- How Should Men Lead Their Families?
- What Is a Christian?
- Why Should I Fast?,
- Why Should You Deny Yourself?
- How Do I Kill Remaining Sin?
- What Is Experiential Calvinism?
- What Does It Mean to Love God?
- How Should We Develop Biblical Friendship?
- How Should Teens Read the Bible?
- How Do Preaching and Corporate Prayer Work Together?
Good advice for both parties.
Decades ago, Harold Lindsell, then editor in chief of this magazine, called for a “battle for the Bible.” He took to task evangelical institutions whose definition of biblical authority was, in his view, inadequate. His book of that title was divisive and unhelpful. Yet his basic concern cannot be faulted. Today we need a new battle for the Bible—not for a precise definition of biblical authority that all evangelicals can agree on, but a simple return to the Bible as the final authority in matters of faith and practice—and especially Christian doctrine.
Constantly, they berate me and put me down, enticing me to feel worthless. Every positive word and thought I have is countered by them with a negative accusation. If my dreams are sparks seeking to become a fire, they are a bucket of water drowning any hope of a flame.
Who is this person that has such influence in my life and uses it to do so much harm?
Make sure you hear me correctly. I’m talking about the ministries and programs of your church as an organization. Those activities and functions your church carries out in fulfilling its biblical obligations, especially regarding discipleship and spiritual formation. I’m not saying small groups are more important than doctrine. I’m not saying small groups are more important than the proclamation of the Word or the affirmation of the gospel.
This is simply about organization.
9 Marks of a Generous Giver | Dan Olson, The Gospel Coalition
Wonderful, biblical descriptions by Dan. I join him in his closing prayer: “May God loosen our grasp on possessions, and grow in us a heart to advance his kingdom through radical generosity.”
Top Ten Roman Catholic Evangelism Books | Jordan Standridge, The Cripplegate
Books to help you reach out to Catholics with the Gospel.
Pope Francis Never Mentioned Jesus In His Speech To Congress | The Federalist
Includes a transcript of his speech at the conclusion of the article.
What Joe Biden Can Teach Us About the Abortion Debate | Aaron Earls
“While the two poles of the abortion debate each capture somewhere between a third and a fifth of the population at any given time, most Americans live somewhere in the middle.” Aaron offers ways for us to speak to those in the middle.
Death Sentence for Doctors? | Sophia Lee, World Magazine
What happens when a doctor’s best medical advice appears bigoted.
Fear and Faith: Finding the Peace Your Heart Craves by Trillia Newbell ($3.03)
Who Is Jesus? by R. C. Sproul ($2.50)
How Should Men Lead Their Families? by Joel R. Beeke ($0.99)
What Is Experiential Calvinism? by Ian Hamilton ($0.99)
How Should Teens Read the Bible? by Joel R. Beeke ($0.99)
The Hardest Peace: Expecting Grace in the Midst of Life’s Hard by Kara Tippetts ($2.99)
Reviving the Black Church by Thabiti Anyabwile ($9.99)
Can’t make it to this year’s Revive ’15 in Indianapolis? No problem! Catch the conference via free LIVE stream on September 25–26.
I always love good book recommendations from trusted sources.
There are forms of selfishness that are not so easily recognized, and they are rampant in my life. I’m grateful for the blog post that exposes areas of subtle pride in my life.
Erik Raymond writes, “A mature relationship with God is not sanitary and starched. It is lived in, worn, and stretched. It is not superficial or free from conflict.” I’m learning this more and more and am grateful that our God is approachable through Jesus.
- Men, guard yourself and your marriage.
- I’m in the process of William Paul Young’s latest book of heresy, Eve. Tim Challies already read it.
- On archaic words and translational precision. Fred Butler takes a look at the KJV-only argument.
- Phyllis Tickle, a leading postmodern and “emergent” thinker, died this week.
- I do not miss Chicago.
- You should read this.
- Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
- Ever want to be a Peanuts character?
- Why evangelicals and Catholics cannot be “together.”
- Free ebook!
- I’ve posted this sermon before, but in light of the fanfare of the pope’s visit, it seems appropriate to be reminded of why we reject the papacy:
Thanks to all who prayed for me and for the Se Hombre conference here in Santo Domingo. A couple of thousand men attended with thousands more watching the livestream. The Lord is at work in Latin America and it’s wildly encouraging. I preach one more time this evening, then head home tomorrow.
Women may be interested in catching the livestream of Revive ’15 with Nancy Leigh DeMoss and others. The event begins this afternoon.
Jared Wilson has some helpful advice for conference speakers and for the people who invite them.
Here’s your guide to when and where to watch this weekend’s lunar eclipse.
“A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second. Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.”
This Day in 1929. J. Gresham Machen delivers the inaugural address at Westminster Seminary to a class of fifty students. *
Russell Moore distinguishes between offence and persecution.
Denny Burk listened to the pope’s speech yesterday and provides a few reflections.
Kevin DeYoung turns to Bavinck for the answer.
READING: Ezra 7-10
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: For what do you want to be remembered? For being a great parent? For earning awards? For having money? For gaining power? All of us have different goals in mind when we consider the totality of life.
Ezra, a scribe who led a second group of exiles from Babylon back to Jerusalem in the 6th century BC, had clearly decided what his goals would be:
Ezra 7:10 Now Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the Lord, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.
With the “gracious hand of God” on him (Ezra 7:6, 7:9b) and an undying commitment to obedience to God’s Word, Ezra later prayed, confessed, wept, and fell face down before God when grieving the sins of his people (Ezra 10:1). That’s quite a picture, actually: the godly scribe on his face on behalf of people who were hardly faithful. He was a righteous man unafraid to grieve the disobedience of others before God.
All of these words, of course, speak to me as a preacher — but the words really apply to all of us. It is our responsibility to study the Word. It is further our mandate to obey what we read; to read without obedience is to treat the words as if they are only words. Obedience, then, must include teaching God’s Word to others. When others choose not to follow biblical teaching, our gut-wrenching grief on their behalf is indeed a proper emotion.
Are you studying the Word? Obeying it? Teaching it?
Do you weep when others ignore it?
PRAYER: “God, let me study, obey, and teach Your Word — and bring me to intercessory grief if others don’t listen.”
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
Celebrate the “extraordinary” AND “ordinary” testimonies – “One of the best things to hear in a worship gathering is a story of how God is working in another’s life. About once a month or so, our church has a member of the congregation share something about what God’s done in their lives—how they came to faith, something critical God’s Word convicted them on, and so forth. Typically the story follows the well established pattern of ‘happy life > crisis moment > downward spiral > rock bottom > turn to Jesus > positive change in life circumstances.”
Why Don’t Protestants Have A Pope? – “By definition Protestants do not make very good Catholics. (Or to be more precise, we are not good Roman Catholics, though I’d like to think a robust Protestant is a small-c catholic in the best sense of the word.) However much Protestants and Catholics can work together on social issues, and however much we may share an early creedal tradition, there are still many significant issues which divide us. One of the most important of those issues is how we understand the government that Christ gave to his church. In his massive four-volume Reformed Dogmatics, Herman Bavinck (1854-1921) gives six reasons Protestants reject the primacy of the Pope and the Catholic understanding of apostolic succession.”
Cessationism – Proving Charismatic Gifts have Ceased – “Does the Bible teach definitively that the charismatic gifts have ceased? Can cessationism (the view that they have ended) be proved? Some say that the cessationism cannot be conclusively proved from Scripture. We believe, however, that the ceasing of revelatory and sign-gifts in the time of the apostles is very plainly taught in God’s Word, so plainly, in fact, that the opposite view has only seriously appeared in the last 100 years or so.”
Fool’s Talk (Os Guiness) – “Being relatively unfamiliar with Os Guinness’ work, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but very quickly, I came to realize that he has established himself as an authority in the area of philosophy and Christian apologetics. Early on, he admits that Fool’s Talk: Recovering the Art of Christian Persuasion is the culmination of many decades of work, and it shows. Frankly, I was overwhelmed and astounded with the breadth of his knowledge and his ability to size up cultural phenomena and see issues as they really are.”
Council of Trent: Canons on Justification. – “Lutheranism was growing strong in the 1500’s. In response to this, the Roman Catholic church convened the Council of Trent in November of 1544 in an attempt to counter the doctrines raised and supported by the Reformers. The official opening of the council was on Dec. 13, 1545, and was closed on Dec. 14, 1563. The council delivered many statements on various subjects. These Canons have never been denied by the Roman Catholic Church.”
Church of Tares: Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive
Oh the Hypocrisy!
The tension between Calvinism and the Gospel
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
Christian Headlines Daily – Friday, September 25, 2015
Syria: Martyrdom, or Live to ‘Fight’ Another Day
Israel Prohibits non-Muslim Prayers at Holy Site During Muslim Holiday
Disney Makes Halloween Costumes Gender Neutral for First Time
Pope Francis to Become First Pope to Address Congress
Global Online Christian Evangelism Initiative to Launch on Sept. 30
Naghmeh Abedini Seeks Help from Pope for Imprisoned Husband
Rubio, Fiorina, Cruz Gaining Ground among Evangelicals
Blood Moon: When to Watch and What to Look For
Israel to Compensate Christian Church that was Attacked by Jewish Arsonists
Republicans Unveil Plan to Fund Government into December and Redirect Planned Parenthood Funds
Shout Your Abortion or Share Your Faith?
Cherry-Picking Pope Francis
How to Talk about Physician-Assisted Suicide
Is China the Greatest Threat to America?
Lethal Subjectivity: The Roots of Suicide as Autonomy
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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