Daily Archives: September 26, 2015

Strange fire and the royal Priesthood

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord. (Leviticus 10:1-2 NASB)

9 But you are A chosen race, A royal priesthood, A holy nation, A people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not A people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. (1 Peter 2:9-10 NASB)

What is Peter was talking about in his second epistle where he describes Christians as a royal Priesthood? Since the…

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A Look at the Apologetics of Paul


In this post, I want to examine some of the methods and apologetic approaches that Paul used in reaching his culture for the Gospel. There has been a lot of debate on the topic of apologetic methodology.  Which approach should we take in following Paul’s example? Presuppositional or Evidential? Many will quote one Pauline text and assert Paul favored one approach more than then the other. Sadly, this is not helpful at all. We need to look at various approaches Paul used before declaring there is only one approach to use in our present culture. I have noted elsewhere about the educational background of Paul.

Paul’s use of General Revelation

General revelation  serves to explain the worldwide phenomenon of faith. Many people are religious, because they have a type of knowledge of God. All people have knowledge of God although it may be suppressed to the extent of being unrecognizable or…

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The Development of the Papacy By Nathan Busenitz

Even in the ante-Nicene period (prior to 325), certain legalistic tendencies had begun to surface. But serious problems began to pour into the church in the fourth century, when the Roman Empire was “converted” from paganism to Christianity. Many former pagans simply Christianized their earlier idolatrous practices, and thus introduced dangerous errors into the church. Once planted, those pagan seeds eventually gave birth to all sorts of corrupt traditions in the medieval church (like the veneration of icons, prayers to the saints, and the elevation of Mary).i Moreover, in an environment where everyone professed to be a “Christian,” medieval preaching naturally focused more on the fruits of a righteous life than on the root of justification by faith.ii Over time that emphasis on external fruit led to a type of moralismiii from which the full-blown sacramental legalism of Roman Catholicism emerged complete in the thirteenth century.

The Development of the Papacy

Contributing to this doctrinal corruption was the rise of the papacy. In the west, the city of Rome was the most important center of theological and ecclesiological influence. Initially, that influence was kept in balance by other important Christian centers: Constantinople, Antioch, Alexandria, and Jerusalem. But those cities were all in the eastern half of the Roman Empire. When the western half of the Roman Empire fell in 476, Rome became isolated. Its authority went unchecked, and as a result the bishopric of Rome was elevated to unprecedented (and unbiblical) heights—developing into the papacy of the Middle Ages.

As early as the mid-400s, Leo I made the argument that the bishop of Rome held a position of elevated authority based on a supposed line of apostolic succession. Being a bishop of Rome himself, Leo contended that Peter was “the rock” in Matthew 16:18—something the early church fathers had not taught.iv Later Roman bishops built on Leo’s arguments; eventually contending that the pope was the most important spiritual leader in the church.

In the late 700s, a document known as the “Donation of Constantine” surfaced. The document claimed that Emperor Constantine (272–337), before he died, had bequeathed the western half of the Roman empire to the bishop of Rome. The Donation was later proven to be a forgery. Nonetheless, from the 8th–13th centuries, popes used it to assert both their religious and political authority in the west.

The 9th and 10th centuries were a period of particularly perverse corruption for the popes of Rome. Those interested in the darkest of the dark ages will find E. R. Chamberlin’s treatment of The Bad Popes (Dorset, 1993) to be especially eye-opening (and disturbing). Suffice it to say, the papacy was fought over by rival groups in Rome who were willing to do it whatever necessary to gain a position of such great political power.

Papal arrogance and corruption resulted in the irreconcilable breach between the eastern and western halves of the Roman church. In 1054, Pope Leo IX sent a delegation to Constantinople demanding that the Patriarch of Constantinople recognize him as the head of all the churches.

When the Patriarch refused, the cardinal leading the delegation excommunicated him. In response, the Patriarch excommunicated the Roman delegation. The Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches have been split ever since.

Around 1230, the western church adopted the idea of a Treasure House of Merit in heaven, from which the pope could dispense indulgences (pardons) to whomever he wished. This system of indulgences became a fundraising opportunity for the Roman popes, providing the means for opulent building projects (like St. Peter’s basilica). The indulgence system allowed corrupt popes to use their religious position to extort money from spiritually desperate people on the false notion that sinners can purchase God’s grace for a price.

Papal authority and the corrupt system of indulgences would prove to be a major point of contention during the Reformation. In fact, it was the sale of indulgences that motivated Luther to write his 95 Theses; and in one of his Table Talks Luther explained:

“The chief cause that I fell out with the pope was this: the pope boasted that he was the head of the church, and condemned all that would not be under his power and authority. . . . Further he took upon him power, rule, and authority over the Christian church, and over the Holy Scriptures, the Word of God; [claiming that] no man must presume to expound the Scriptures, but only he, and according to his ridiculous conceits; so that he made himself lord over the church.”v

In contrast, the Reformers insisted that Christ alone is the head of the church. Any other self- proclaimed “head” constituted an imposter and a fraud.

The Official Adoption of an Apostate Gospel

Though the Councils of Orange (in 441 and 529) condemned the synergism of semi-Pelagianism, the medieval Catholic church eventually came to define justification in synergistic terms (meaning that the church presented salvation as a cooperative effort between God and man).

In the thirteenth century, at the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), the Roman Catholic church officially made salvation contingent on good works by establishing the seven sacraments as the means by which sinners are justified.

As Norm Geisler and Josh Betancourt explain in their book, Is Rome the True Church?:

Roman Catholicism as it is known today is not the same as the Catholic Church before 1215. Even though the split between East and West occurred in 1054, most non-Catholics today would have been able to belong to the Catholic Church before the thirteenth century. Regardless of certain things the church permitted, none of its official doctrinal proclamations regarding essential salvation doctrines were contrary to orthodoxy.

While the development of Roman Catholicism from the original church was gradual, beginning in early centuries, one of the most significant turning points came in 1215, when one can see the beginning of Roman Catholicism as it is subsequently known. It is here that the seeds of what distinguishes Roman Catholicism were first pronounced as dogma. It is here that they pronounced the doctrine of transubstantiation, the primacy of the bishop of Rome, and seven sacraments. Many consider this a key turning point in the development of Roman Catholicism in distinction from non-Catholic forms of Christianity.vi

Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274), who was born ten years after the Fourth Lateran Council, also contributed greatly to confusion on the true nature of the gospel. As Gregg R. Allison explains:

More than anyone else, Thomas Aquinas set down the medieval Catholic notion of justification and its corollaries of grace, human effort, and merit. Although a substantial departure from Augustine and the Augustinians of the Middle Ages, his theology became determinative for the Roman Catholic Church. . . . [Thomas] emphasized the grace of God yet prescribed an important role for human cooperation in obtaining salvation. Certainly, God exercises the primary role in achieving and applying salvation, but people have their part to play as well. God moves by initiating grace in a person’s life; then that person moves toward God and moves away from sin, resulting in the forgiveness of sins. Thus, Aquinas believed in a synergy, or cooperative effort, between God and people in justification.vii

To base salvation on a cooperative effort between God’s grace and our good works presents a major problem—since it distorts the biblical teaching about grace. As Paul explained to the Romans, “If it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6).

To add works into the equation is to frustrate grace. Certainly, good works are the fruit of salvation, but they are not the foundation of it. And it was at that very point that the Catholic church of the late Middle Ages muddled up the gospel.[1]

[1] Dave Jordan, M. E. Pulpit Magazine May 2013. No. 5, 02.


September 26-27, 2015 Christian Briefing Report

September 21 Quotes

The Church Needs the Past and the Future To Be Faithful in the Present

“Some churches, in an attempt to establish continuity with the past, root everything about their worship and action in the community’s memories. This emphasis on tradition is vital, but as Jaroslav Pelikan warned, there is always the danger that instead of embracing tradition as the living faith of the dead, the Church traps itself in traditionalism — the dead faith of the living.”

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Do You Know That You’re Weak?

“Weakness means we don’t have what it takes. It means we are not sovereign, omniscient, or invincible. We are not in control, we don’t know everything, and we can be stopped. Weakness means that we desperately need God.”

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Here’s How Religion Shaped Margaret Thatcher’s Politics

“Economics is the method; the object is to change the soul,” Thatcher once declared, revealing that the way she conceived her free-market ideology was as much about transforming values as about improving Britain’s ailing GDP.

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The Doctrines of Grace: By His Grace and for His Glory

“There is really only one point to the doctrines of grace, namely, that God saves sinners by His grace and for His glory. These two realities—God’s grace and glory—are inseparably bound together. Whatever most magnifies God’s grace most magnifies His glory. And that which most exalts God’s grace is the truth expressed in the doctrines of grace.”

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Good Shepherd Decides to Give Up Current Church Property

In response to the question, “Why are you giving up the property that you have been defending up until now?” Ko said, “Unlike the misunderstandings of many people, we weren’t trying to keep the property. We wanted to converse as fellow Christians, and wanted to find a way that the minority group that wants to remain in the PCUSA would also be able to flourish.

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The Coming Train Wreck: Progressive UMC Plans For General Conference 2016

Bishop Minerva Carcaño declared it was time for the church to catch up with society, our sister mainline churches, and God. One presenter defined inclusion as “all who are NOT white, NOT straight, and NOT over 45,” which indicates that exclusivity is the basis for their understanding of “inclusivity.”

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Christian Colleges That Permit Professors in Same-Sex Marriages Resign Membership

The CCCU board of directors predicted that most of its 120 North American members would agree that EMU and Goshen’s new positions on homosexuality “placed them outside the bounds of the CCCU’s membership.” But it also believed that a demotion to affiliate status would be a permissible level of partnership.

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The Coddling of the American Mind

Thomas Jefferson, upon founding the University of Virginia, said: “This institution will be based on the illimitable freedom of the human mind. For here we are not afraid to follow truth wherever it may lead, nor to tolerate any error so long as reason is left free to combat it.” We believe that this is still—and will always be—the best attitude for American universities. Faculty, administrators, students, and the federal government all have a role to play in restoring universities to their historic mission.

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I Am Not Ashamed

The gospel is fanciful unless your eyes have been opened to it by the Spirit of God and your heart has been touched by his transforming grace in Christ. But, when that happens, you know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the story is true. It is absolutely true. You, then, willingly build your life on it because it is the power of God.

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Bernie Sanders’ Christian Encounter at Liberty

By visiting Liberty, Sanders, a self-declared socialist polling ahead of Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton, punctuated his differences with Clinton’s struggling campaign—Sanders engages tough audiences, while Clinton retreats. (Clinton’s campaign has grown infamous for staging friendly interactions with preselected voters and avoiding reporters’ questions.) Sanders’ message at Liberty stuck with his usual talking points, but offered a biblical twist. The candidate called on students to pursue justice for others, based on Jesus’ teaching on the Golden Rule and lesson from the book of Amos.

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The Creator and His Creatures

God as creator is a significant theological truth. Our Creator is not our peer, but he is Lord of the universe. Since we also are part of his creation, we must recognize our obligation to him. He has given us time, treasure and talents to be used joyfully as we serve him. Yet our joy is not the primary objective in our living. Our chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

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To be sure, she is not a Christian.  She needs Jesus as her saviour.  But I suspect the reduction of non-Christian women to whores or lesbians says more about the psychology of the writer than it does about my mother.  And maybe other mothers too?

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Purpose-Driven Film

With the exception of opening with a Bible verse and ending with a hymn, the Christian references are subtle. Regular churchgoers will recognize small things, like Ashley’s meeting at Celebrate Recovery, a Bible-based 12-step ministry that many churches offer. This isn’t to suggest that the story should have gone fake, only that it could have found a way to show us more of what’s happening in Smith’s mind.

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Diplomacy or D-Day?

So here’s my challenge to you: Make “Columbo” your game plan. Don’t swing for the fences in every conversation. Just get into the batter’s box with these two questions and see what the Holy Spirit does. If you want to move forward effectively in a hostile environment, you don’t have to be an expert. Just take a tip from Lt. Columbo and always ask questions. It’s the best way I know “to make a defense to anyone who asks…yet with gentleness and respect.”

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The source of real holiness


During our public school days, Emily and I always felt overwhelmed. There were always so many rules for us to follow—about holidays, clothes, and even lunches. And the lunch rules were the worst. The expectation was that lunch be garbage free, healthy, and absolutely free of any nut products of any kind. (We later learned from a friend that it’s actually gotten worse—now the schools find it easier to send a list of what’s permitted rather than what’s not, because the approved list is shorter.)

Trying to keep in step with these requirements was a giant pain. In fact, we kept running out of ideas of what to even send with Abigail. We like peanut butter. We don’t have a nut-free environment. And pre-packaged snack foods which are nut free generally aren’t all that healthy. We found ways to meet the requirements (at least two out of three), but it didn’t make us happy people, nor did it help Abigail enjoy eating lunch in general.

Now, obviously there are some valid reasons for rules like these—if a kid has a severe nut allergy, we don’t want them to go into shock. But often, our obsession with rules goes beyond trying to protect individuals from harm and into trying to make us certain kinds of people. The problem, though, is it doesn’t work, because that’s not what rules are meant to do.

Christians should know this, but we’re prone to forgetting. The rules trap—legalism—is just too easy (because it’s easy, in theory if not in fact). We have rules about kissing dating goodbye. About what music to not listen to. Movies to not watch. Books to not read. Beverages to not consume…

And while the reasons behind the don’ts might be good and right and true, if all we have is don’t, what are we trying to accomplish? At best, the rules, and our attempts to keep them, make us try harder; we white knuckle our way through the things we know we’re supposed to do (including avoiding the things we aren’t supposed to). More often, though, they make us want to give up. Despite our intentions, we don’t become more holy, joyful people—people who increasingly find sin unattractive because Jesus is ever-increasingly attractive to us. Instead, we’re just people who are happy they’re not in trouble.

This is why we should thank God for the gift of the Holy Spirit, as Ray Ortlund reminds us in Supernatural Living for Natural People. He writes:

What generates real holiness is not fear of punishment but fullness of heart. When you sin, when I sin, there is always a reason. We sin because we believe that it is simply the price we have to pay for a taste of happiness. But sin is deceiving us. It does not deliver on its promise. It leaves only the bitter after-taste of death. God promises us life. The Spirit moves in our hearts to trust God enough to fight for life and happiness and all we desire not in sin but in the ways of God. The Spirit arouses our thirst for Jesus, so that we come to him and drink, until rivers of living water flow from our inmost beings (John 7:37-39). The Spirit shows us how wide and long and high and deep is the love of God. He helps us to know this love that surpasses knowledge, so that we are filled with all the fullness of God (Eph. 3:14-19). And when we live in that holy atmosphere, sin is a lot less attractive. (Kindle location 436)

What makes sin less attractive is not more rules, but new desires—and this is what the Spirit creates in us. He gives us a new affection for Christ, a greater desire to know him and be like him. And because of that, we can see that sin and legalism always over-promise and under-deliver. But the good news is, God’s Spirit never will. Real holiness comes from a fullness of heart. And this is what the Spirit gives us.

Why Evangelicals and Catholics Cannot be “Together”

Jordan Standridge of The Cripplegate covers the many reasons evangelicals must not unit with the apostate Roman Catholic Church, even if some of our leaders are doing everything in their power to bring evangelicals and Catholics together under one big tent. Think: Rick Warren, who seems to have forgotten about the Protestant Reformation. But, thankfully, Jordan Standridge hasn’t forgotten. He reminds us that “the Pope and his cardinals, as well as tradition have undermined Scripture for centuries.”

Rick Warren and Pope Francis

As the evangelical world in America seems rather excited about the Pope’s visit, I can’t help but remember how I felt when I discovered the Evangelicals and Catholics Together document (ECT).

In 1995 the unthinkable happened. Well known evangelical pastors signed a document in which they joined themselves with Catholic priests and Philosophers, in an ecumenical fashion in order to promote the agreements over the disagreements that have plagued Protestants and Catholics for centuries dating back to the greats: Calvin, Luther, Zwingli and Knox. They agreed to no longer “proselytize” each other, agreeing that Catholics are indeed brothers, and sisters in Christ.

This article was successful in its endeavor. The vast majority of Christians in America do not evangelize Catholics. Someone like me who has shed many tears over the deception of the Roman Catholic Church is seen as hateful. I totally understand the desire to believe people are saved. I also desperately want Roman Catholics to go to heaven, but we can’t let our desire for people to be saved or our desire to please men, lead us to cheer them on as they run towards hell. We must love them.

Why Evangelicals and Catholics Cannot be “Together”

“I Unite Myself”: “Pope” Calls Muslims “Brothers and Sisters” in Message at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Christian News Network reports:

During a speech at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Thursday night, the Roman Catholic pontiff known as Francis offered prayers for his Muslim “brothers and sisters” on the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice following word of a deadly stampede during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

“I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters,” he began. “First, I send my greetings as they celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice [Eid al-Adha]. I would have my greeting to have been warmer. My sentiments are closeness.”

“I am close to them in the face of tragedy, the tragedy they suffered in Mecca,” Francis continued. “In this moment, I give assurances in their prayers. I unite myself with you all in prayer to Almighty God, all merciful.”



The Logic Of Fruit As Evidence (1)

The Patristic Period One of the earliest concerns of the Christian church, beginning with the apostles and intensifying through the patristic and medieval periods, was that those who profess the Christian faith should live in a way befitting their profession of faith. In the apostolic and patristic periods our theologians were often writing within a […]

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THREAT: ISIS to launch offensive against Christians in Pakistan

THREAT: ISIS to launch offensive against Christians in Pakistan

Posted on September 26, 2015 by Christian Examiner

The Islamic State – ISIS – is planning a major offensive against Pakistan’s small population of Christians and Christian institutions, including churches, schools and hospitals, the Gatestone Institute has reported.

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 Pope's speech troubling, Southern Baptists say

Pope’s speech troubling, Southern Baptists say

Posted on September 25, 2015 by Baptist Press

Pope Francis’ historic address to Congress proved troubling in both its lack of clarity on moral issues and in its church-state impropriety, Southern Baptist leaders and pastors said.

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International Prayer Vigil for Pastor Saeed

International Prayer Vigil for Pastor Saeed

Posted on September 26, 2015 by CBN

Today marks the three-year anniversary of Pastor Saeed Abedini’s captivity in an Iranian prison.

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The Puritan influence on the press

The Puritan influence on the press

Posted on September 26, 2015 by World Magazine

MEDIA | Christian belief and the 325th anniversary of American newspapers

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Does Hebrews 12:4 Teach Sanctification Through Works?

The argument is being made that Hebrews 12:4 teaches us that sanctification is resisting sin, which involves our free cooperation with grace, ergo sanctification is not by faith alone (sola fide). Once more, there is no question whether believers must be sanctified and whether they must resist sin. The question is whether our sanctification and our resisting sin is a part of the instrument of our salvation or whether it contributes to our salvation or whether our resisting of sin is the consequence and evidence of our gracious salvation.

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Peace and Safety or Sudden Destruction?

Jan Markell talks with Michele Bachmann and Dr. Robert Jeffress for the hour. They are two of our conference guests October 2-3. They consider current headlines in light of the Bible and see the world crying for peace and safety amidst the world’s chaos. Is God waking us up and shaking us up so that we will begin looking up?

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Greg Koukl explains the right way to handle an angry, aggressive atheist

Wintery Knight

Greg Koukl is one of the scholars who got me started in apologetics. In his “Solid Ground” newsletter for January/February 2009, he talked about dealing with angry, aggressive atheists.

Let’s start with the question “what is a steamroller?”:

The defining characteristic of a “steamroller” is that he constantly interrupts, rolling over you with the force of his personality. Steamrollers are not usually interested in answers. They are interested in winning through intimidation.

Greg breaks down the techniques for handling steamrollers in 3 steps.

Step 1: Stop Him.

Your first move when you find yourself in a conversation with a steamroller is a genial request for courtesy. Momentarily put the discussion on “pause.” Ask to continue making your point uninterrupted.

One of the ways you can do that is using body language. You can raise your hand in the stop motion to emphasize your verbal attempt to pause the conversation so that you can finish responding. Ask for a specific amount of time to make your point, and make sure that you him to agree that you will get that time to respond! But the most important thing is to not lose your temper.

Be careful not to let annoyance or hostility creep into your voice. That would be a mistake, especially with this kind of person. Don’t let a steamroller get under your skin. Being defensive and belligerent always looks weak. Instead, stay focused on the issues, not on the attitude. Talk calmly and try to look confident.

…don’t take unfair advantage of the time you buy with this little negotiation. Make your point, then ask, “Does that make sense to you?” This invites him back into the conversation. Give him the courtesy of offering you a reply without interruption.

I hear J.P. Moreland saying “Does that make sense to you?” all the time in his lectures, and now I’ve started doing it too! And so should you! But what if “stopping him” doesn’t work? Then we go on to step 2…


Greg Koukl explains the right way to handle an angry, aggressive atheist | WINTERY KNIGHT

How Planned Parenthood And Its Defenders Hide The Truth

by Anthony Weber

In early July, The Center for Medical Progress began to release videos procured after three years of undercover work. They released short teaser videos, long videos from which the short versions were edited, and transcripts. The videos not only showed the calculating, callous way in which key players in Planned Parenthood viewed their clients and the unborn children, they also provided reasons to believe that certain Planned Parenthood clinics were breaking the law in the process of harvesting fetal tissue.

That’s when Planned Parenthood and their defenders began a methodical campaign of  distortion, denial and deception to help people avoid looking at the reality of abortion and the industries that profit from it.

The three broadcast networks, ABC, NBC and CBS, haven’t reported on a single video exposing Planned Parenthood’s trafficking of aborted babies during their news shows in 31 days – or one full month [of August]. The last time a network mentioned a particular video came July 31, when CBS This Morning correspondent Julianna Goldman acknowledged the fourth video of a “Planned Parenthood doctor in Colorado discussing providing fetal tissue for a fee.” NBC last reported on a specific video July 30, while ABC – the worst of all three networks – last noted a video July 16 (keep in mind the first video came out July 14). The networks have not covered the last four videos released by the Center for Medical Progress...

Considering it took “56 days, multiple letters from members of the House of Representatives and a public outcry [for] all three broadcast networks [to] report on Gosnell,” this is not entirely unexpected. Planned Parenthood has been giving awards to journalists for years; the orchestrated silence on the scandal is par for the course…


Empires and Mangers: Rejecting Reality: How Planned Parenthood And Its Defenders Hide The Truth

Those Hypocritical Christians! 4 Ways that Theological Truth Transcends Bad Behavior

by Pastor Brian Chilton

For those who do not know my testimony, I left the ministry for seven years due to great doubts pertaining to the truthfulness of Christianity. I nearly became an agnostic…in fact, I seriously teetered with the idea for some time. My agnosticism wasn’t that I didn’t think that God couldn’t exist, but rather that I wasn’t sure that one could know God completely. This doubt was fueled by the lack of answers I was given by Christian leaders against the skeptical claims of the Jesus Seminar.[1] However, another element intensified the doubts that I possessed—Christian hypocrisy; that is to say, Christians who claimed to be devout but dismissed Christian teachings when it was convenient for them. Could I devote myself to something that held so many that refused to take its claims seriously?

I am not alone. In fact, one of the top-5 excuses given by those who do not want to attend church pertains to “those hypocritical Christians!” To make matters worse, the truthfulness of Christianity is often gauged by the behavior of its adherents. But is this a legitimate? Is the truthfulness of a movement based upon the actions of its adherents? As God brought me back to a strong faith which led me back into the ministry by apologetics, I learned that truth is transcendent. That is, truth exists beyond the scope of human opinions and/or actions. The truthfulness of any movement is found in four realms. It is within these realms that Christianity should be tested and not the actions of some of its so-called adherents.

1. Truth is transcendent in its reality.

Truth is not something that works for one person and not for another. Norman Geisler defines truth as that which “can be understood both from what it is and from what it is not” (Geisler 1999, 741). I really like the Greek term aletheia. It is the term that is translated as “truth.” Louw and Nida define the term as the following: “ἀλήθεια, ας f: the content of that which is true and thus in accordance with what actually happened—‘truth.’” (Louw and Nida 1996, 672). In other words, truth is defined as that which is in accordance to reality. Jesus uses the term aletheia when saying the “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32).[2] In this one simple teaching, Jesus notes that truth exists, truth is knowable, and that truth is transformative. It can be demonstrated that Jesus is a historical person and that the New Testament is reliable. It can be demonstrated that God’s existence is a necessity. Thus, certain truths presented in the Bible can be supported by evidence. The reality of these truths transcends the bad behaviors of those claiming to be a Christian.

As this pertains to bad behavior with some of a movement’s adherents, one should note that truth transcends bad behavior. Allow me to illustrate…


Those Hypocritical Christians! 4 Ways that Theological Truth Transcends Bad Behavior | Pastor Brian Chilton

Our ‘Victimhood’ ‘Narcissitic’ Times in One Simple Photo

When society is filled with souls whose only validation lies outside themselves in friends or things or wealth, that society is sick with the disease of victimhood (no one is responsible for their own happiness) and narcissism (why don’t more people love me and what must I do to gain their love). Such is our society.

via NZZ

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The Unbiblical Actions, Message, & Statements of Pope Francis While in America
Someone asked me on Facebook what I think was a very sincere question. They wanted to know what the Pope has said thus far while in the US that is contrary to the Bible. Here is a partial list just off the top of my head. I would ask you to add to the list and let us see how much we can come up with together. Here is my quick list of what he has said or his actions, and ceremonies have promoted.
Click here to read the list:

mike gendron and brannon on tv set.jpg 

WVW-TV Presents: Former Catholic of 37 Years Responds to The Visit of Pope Francis to America & His Unbiblical Worldview
Former Catholic of 37 Years Responds to The Visit of Pope Francis to America & His Unbiblical Worldview. Why are so many people deceived by the message of the Pope and Church of Rome? Why will evangelical leaders praise the Pope and his false gospel? Is the Pope setting the stage for Bible prophecy to revealed with the rise of a false prophet and one-world leader? Former Catholic Mike Gendron answers these questions as he uses the Word of God as his supreme authority for discussing these topics. Watch this program now before it rolls into the Situation Room for members only at www.situationroom.net. Click here to watch now:

mike gendron.jpg

Exclusive: Former Catholic Mike Gendron Calls Out the Pope For Not Preaching The Biblical Gospel One Time While in America


Worldview Weekend Radio: (Part Two)
Former Catholic of 37 years, Mike Gendron, joins Brannon Howse for a second day to discuss the speech by Pope Francis before a join session of Congress. This is the first time a Pope has ever addressed a joint session of Congress. Jesuit, Pope Francis promoted the global governance of sustainable development, as well as praised Catholic Dorothy Day that used the term communitarianism many years ago. Communitarianism is the mixture of capitalism with socialism and that is certainly what sustainable development is all about that Pope Francis has been aggressively promoting all summer of 2015. Pope Francis also praised Catholic and mystic Buddhist Thomas Merton in his address before the U.S. Congress. Indeed the pope was hitting many of the major points of what will make up a coming global religious world government and leaders as Brannon and Mike have been writing and speaking about for many years. Pope Francis also promoted amnesty which really means the demise of Americas borders. So many things are discussed in this program that a description will not do it justice so we invite you to listen now. Topic: We take lots of questions from listeners.

Worldview Weekend Radio: (Part One)
Mike Gendron joins Brannon to discuss the arrival of Pope Francis in America. Why are so many thousands of people showing up to hear a man speak when most of them did not even know his name three years ago? What are the end time beliefs of Pope Francis and the Church of Rome? Do you know where the term hocus pocus came from and what connection does it have to Catholic Mass and the Eucharist? The Pope claims his trip is not political but pastoral and yet the Pope is pushing global warming and global government. How does the political, economic and religious worldview of Pope Francis fit in with what the Bible speaks of as part of the end times? Topic: We take many of your questions on these topics.

The Shocking Message Pope Francis Preached At New York’s St. Patrick’s Cathedral

The Pope, the self-proclaimed “vicar of Christ”, preaching a message of the FAILURE OF JESUS on the cross.

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:18 (KJV)

Like many people, I missed the message that the Pope preached at St. Patrick’s Cathedral because it was not streamed live as far as I was aware. And honestly, I was much more interested from a prophecy perspective in what he was going to say to Washington and the United Nations. So I did not bother to take a peek and see what he preached at St. Patrick’s. When I did, I about fell off my chair.


“We need to remember that we are followers of Jesus Christ and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross.

First of all, Pope Francis gave a shout-out to his “Muslim brothers and sisters” when he said this – “I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters: Firstly, my greetings as they celebrate the feast of sacrifice.” In case he doesn’t know, Islam clearly teaches that their God, Allah, has no son. None at all. So for a Christian to be a spiritual brother or sister with a Muslim is impossible. The Qu’ran boldly declares that Allah has no son:

It is not [befitting] for Allah to take a son; exalted is He! When He decrees an affair, He only says to it, “Be,” and it is.”  Surah 19:35,36

Pope Francis has been wooing the Muslims into the Vatican tent for sometime now. In November of 2014, he prayed inside a Mosque in Istanbul, in December of 2014 Pope Francis defended Islam as a “religion of peace”, and just a few weeks ago issued the order for all Catholics in Europe to take in Muslim migrants to live with them in their homes.

But it didn’t stop there, not by a long shot. Pope Francis declared the work of Jesus on the cross to be a failure

Perhaps the most shocking, the most stunning words to ever come out of the Pope’s mouth had to do with him talking about the “failure of the Cross”. What?? It is because of Jesus on the cross, that we have salvation. It is because of the cross that we now have access to the Father and a FULL pardon for our sins. It is because of the cross that Heaven, and not Hell, is our destination. This is what he said:

“The cross shows us a different way of measuring success. Ours is to plant the seeds. God sees to the fruits of our labors. And if at times our efforts and works seem to fail and not produce fruit, we need to remember that we are followers of Jesus Christ and his life, humanly speaking, ended in failure, the failure of the cross.”

That was it, not another word. You would expect him to say something like “while it appeared to be a failure to His disciples, the cross was actually a victory…” or some such thing. I have heard that preached many times before in church. But the thing is, he didn’t say that. He just simply stated that the life of Jesus on the cross “ended in failure”, which is a complete and total lie. How he could just leave it there, in defeat, to declare the cross a FAILURE and not expound one, tiny bit more is beyond imagination. The Pope, the self-proclaimed “vicar of Christ”, preaching a message of the FAILURE OF JESUS on the cross. Honestly, words fail me at this moment. Truly.

What better way could Pope Francis end a “sermon” whose opening remarks call Christ-rejecting, Hell-bound Muslims our “brothers and sisters”, and whose main point is the “failure of Jesus on the cross”, than by praying to Mary and asking for her blessing:

“Dear brothers and sisters, in a few moments, we will sing the Magnificat. Let us commend to our lady the work we have been entrusted to do. Let us join her in thanking god for the great things he has done…”

You can click here to read the full transcript of this sermon from the pit of Hell, but honestly, why would you want to?

‘I Unite Myself’: ‘Pope’ Calls Muslims ‘Brothers and Sisters’ in Message at St. Patrick’s Cathedral

(CN) — During a speech at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City on Thursday night, the Roman Catholic pontiff known as Francis offered prayers for his Muslim “brothers and sisters” on the Islamic Feast of Sacrifice following word of a deadly stampede during the annual pilgrimage to Mecca.

“I would like to express two sentiments for my Muslim brothers and sisters,” he began. “First, I send my greetings as they celebrate the Feast of Sacrifice [Eid al-Adha]. I would have my greeting to have been warmer. My sentiments are closeness.”

Students Nationwide Join in Prayer at School Flagpoles for ‘See You at the Pole’ Day

(CN) — Christian students across the nation and around the world gathered at their school flagpoles on Wednesday for the annual ‘See You at the Pole’ day, a student-led prayer event that has been a much-observed tradition for over 20 years.

“See You at the Pole” began in the town of Burleson, Texas, a suburb of Fort Worth, and has since spread to all 50 states and 20 countries worldwide, including Canada, Australia, Japan and South Africa.

Senate Fails to Pass 20-Week Abortion Ban

(CN) — The U.S. Senate failed to pass a bill on Tuesday that would ban abortion at 20 weeks and after, or five months gestation.

The Senate was unable to obtain the 60 votes needed to pass the Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, with a final vote of 54-42. The legislation was aimed at outlawing abortion at a point where the unborn child would feel pain in their death.

Consumers Vow to Avoid Doritos After Company Unveils ‘Gay Pride Rainbow Chips’

(CN) — The manufacturers of Doritos potato chips say they have “had an amazing response” to their homosexuality-celebrating Doritos Rainbows chips, but some consumers have promised to never buy Doritos products again because of the company’s support of sin.

The Doritos brand, a subsidiary of Frito-Lay, Inc., has announced in a press release that their company will be offering bags of limited edition, rainbow-colored potato chips. The purpose of the chips is “to celebrate and support the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the boldest, most colorful way possible,” according to the release.

Other Top News Stories of Interest:

Pope’s speech troubling, Southern Baptists say

Some high profile Baptists, including Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and Russell Moore of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, had a lot to say about a Roman Catholic pope’s address to Congress….as a pastor, by the way, not as a political leader. Mohler makes an excellent point: “Well, let’s just state the obvious: No other pastor in the history of the United States of America has ever addressed a joint session of Congress.” So, why was the leader of the Roman Catholic Church invited to speak before Congress?

Baptist Press has the full report:

Pope Francis’ historic address to Congress proved troubling in both its lack of clarity on moral issues and in its church-state impropriety, Southern Baptist leaders and pastors said.

The pope spoke to a joint session of Congress on Thursday (Sept. 24), becoming the first head of the Roman Catholic Church to address the U.S. legislative body. His speech came on the final day of a three-day visit to Washington, D.C., that featured a White House welcoming ceremony, a parade and a mass for the canonization of a Catholic saint.


Read our research paper on Roman Catholicism

Till we serve God we are idlers. However busy we may be we do nothing till we live for God. – Spurgeon

Federalism and SSM

i) The Constitution is silent on marriage. There’s no enumerated Constitutional right to homosexual marriage. After all, the Constitutional doesn’t even say heterosexual marriage is a Constitutional right.

According to the 9th and 10th amendments, that means any legal or civil right to marriage must be enacted at the state level:

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.

For the Supreme Court to decree a Constitutional right to homosexual marriage violates Federalism. That falls outside the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. That’s a state issue.

ii) At best, the Supreme Court might strike down anti-miscegenation laws based on the 14th amendment. At least in that instance there’s a general Constitutional principle in play: the 14th amendment was designed to overrule state laws discriminating against blacks.

iii) Furthermore, even if a given state passed a statue legalizing homosexual marriage, it would have to include religious exemptions. For state and federal laws don’t nullify the first amendment. State and federal laws cannot violate the civil liberties accorded citizens in the first amendment. In case of conflict, the Bill of Rights takes precedence.

iv) That’s true for private citizens and public employees alike. Surrending your Constitutional rights is not a condition of gov’t employment.

WHI-1277 | Same-Sex Attraction

We are continuing our series on authority and identity in the Christian life on the White Horse Inn. This week we will be discussing what has become something of a firestorm in the Western world, the topic of sexuality. Freedom and liberty are now being radically re-defined. In this program we will be taking up the topic of same-sex attraction in light of these cultural changes.

What should we think about the issue of same-sex attraction? Is it essentially the same as being gay? How does the issue of sexual preference relate to our identity as Christians, and how are we to talk about our differences with others in a world that is increasingly accepting of homosexuality and same-sex marriage? On this program, Michael Horton discusses these issues with Sam Allberry, author of Is God Anti-Gay? Join us this week on another edition of the White Horse Inn.

“We should expect, because of our theology that we will be impacted as Christians by many aspects of the Fall. It would be peculiar if everything else was tainted by sin except for our sexual desires. My understanding is that all of our sexual desires are tainted by sin. No one has sexual desires that are exclusively pleasing to Christ. And this is one manifestation of that, that we have desires for people of the same gender.
“I want to hold a couple of things in tension. James 1 helps me because it reminds me that when I experience any form of temptation, that is not something I can pin on somebody else. Those come from my own desires. That comes from within, that temptation. So, I do need to take ownership of it, but at the same time it is not as if I have chosen to experience that form of temptation. So, I would be uncomfortable with saying same-sex attraction is sin. It is form of temptation. The temptation comes from within my heart and therefore I am to resist the temptation, but I think we as Christians need to make a distinction between temptation and sin.”
– Sam Allberry
Sin as Condition
Sin is first of all a condition that is simultaneously judicial and moral, legal and relational. Accordingly, we sin because we are sinners rather than vice versa. Standing before God as transgressors in Adam, we exhibit our guilt and corruption in actual thoughts and actions.
Furthermore, we are both victims and perpetrators. There is no human being since the fall who is only victim; yet it is also true that every sinner is also sinned against. A particular act of sin may be (or include) the fault of someone else, but the sinful condition and the web of sinful actions and relationships that flow from it implicate us as well. It is true that we do not simply choose our vices, but are conditioned by the sinful structures to which our particular socio-cultural or familial contexts tend. Yet it is also true that we yield ourselves to these vices and are responsible for our own actions.
(Adapted from Michael Horton, The Christian Faith: A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way, pp. 427–28)

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Perkins: As Signs Thereof

Nothing within man, and nothing that man can do, either in nature, or by grace, concurreth to the act of justification before God, as any cause thereof, either efficient, material, formal, or final, but faith alone; all other gifts and graces, as hope, love, the fear of God, are necessary to salvation, as signs thereof, […]

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Goodwin: Salvation Is Through Faith Alone But Good Works Are A Necessary Consequence

God requires humiliation indeed afore, because men will not believe else; and he requires obedience after, as that which necessarily follows upon faith, so as a man cannot truly believe but it will follow, as heat follows light. Yet, upon believing, the bargain is struck up; and though faith be the great instrument, yet we […]

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W4YW: Volunteer Expectations, Anti-Women Dating, & How to Ruin a Meeting

Wisdom For Your Weekend: your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.

Video of the Week

Social Media Turns Truth Into a Video Game, Russell Moore. An interesting illustration here. One of the dangers of social media is our tendency to de-personalize our opponents. The result, as Moore mentions here, is that our crusades for truth end up looking more and more like violent video games.


Articles of the Week

Ten Things You Shouldn’t Expect from Your Volunteers, Ryan Holck. The church is, among other things, a volunteer organization. If the volunteers aren’t thriving in your church, you’re going to have major issues. Appropriate expectations will solve most of the issues you might encounter. So what should and shouldn’t we expect from our volunteers?

How the Dating Scene Became Stacked Against Women, Gina Dalfonzo. Dalfonzo takes a look at a recent statistical analysis of singleness in the U.S., which shows that there are far more single women than single men. The result, unsurprisingly, is that women seem to be competing more aggressively to land a guy…while the guys seem perfectly content to play the field. Both responses make sense in light of the data, but neither one reflects Christ.

A Country Without Churches, Dominic Bouck. Since the Supreme Court’s decision to redefine marriage in June, some public figures have called for churches in the U.S. to have their tax-exempt status removed. It bears mentioning that this seems unlikely in the near future. But Bouck points out specifically why removing church tax-exemptions would be a mistake—not just for churches, but for the country as a whole.

Seven Ways to Ruin a Meeting Before It Begins, The Time Management Ninja. Oh, you didn’t know there was such a thing as the “time management ninja?” Well, that’s very ninja-like of him, isn’t it? If you happen to be among the 0.01% of our population who enjoys tiresome meetings, this article isn’t for you. For everyone else: read this, do this, save us all some headaches.

On The Lighter Side

Reporter Makes Kid Cry, KTLA. In case you wanted a reason to be down on the press (they aren’t all bad), here’s a reporter asking what must be the most obviously foolish question of her career.

Wisdom For Your Weekend is presented to you by Chris Pappalardo, with occasional guidance from J.D. Greear. This is our attempt to reflect Proverbs 9:9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”

This Week in Calvinism – September 25, 2015

  • Unlock God’s storehouse of grace.
  • Russell Moore discusses the difference between being offended and being persecuted.
  • Leighton Flowers joins Matt Slick on the Bible-Thumping Wingnut podcast.
  • James White on why he travels overseas to teach.

You Don’t Need Your Perfect Church Now

You Don’t Need Your Perfect Church NowMany worship leaders consider themselves artists. Translation: We are typically passionate, idealistic, opinionated, and sensitive.

We have specific ideas about how things should go and can let those preferences affect us deeply when things don’t go the way we hoped they would. While our convictions and zeal can be some of our greatest strengths, they can also set us up for a constant stream of frustration and dissatisfaction with the church.

And the potential for frustration with the church is by no means limited to worship leaders.

No Ideal Church

There is no ideal church. Churches are made up of and led by mere humans, finite and fallen. People are broken. You are broken. And this brokenness can lead to messiness and hurt.

We all want to “arrive” at our ideal church, whether it’s in ministry or as members. The problem is that it doesn’t exist. There may be a honeymoon phase when you arrive at a church, but before long, the conflicts and complications will arise.

Our great hope is not that someday we will arrive in this life at that perfect, ideal church. No, God has something much greater in mind. He wants to use those imperfect people, places, and positions to sanctify you toward the perfect image of his Son.

When We Are Weak

Paul knew how frustrating life and ministry can be. In 2 Corinthians 11, he speaks of all that he is suffering for the name of Jesus and the sake of the gospel, and after writing of all his beatings, imprisonments, shipwrecks, and constant dangers, he says that he has to endure the “daily pressure of his anxiety for all the churches” (2 Corinthians 11:28).

He recognized that it would be easy for him to boast in all the ways that God was using him. By all modern opinions, after all he had endured, he had certainly earned the right to settle into a comfortable position at one of the churches he had planted where he would be well thought of and well provided for.

And yet, he goes on to say that in spite of pleading with his Lord to stop the suffering, Jesus allowed it to continue in order to show the sufficiency of his grace and perfect his power in Paul’s weakness. Paul’s response is not to grumble and complain about it, but rather, he says,

I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9–10)

God at Work in the Madness

God is at work in your imperfect church, in your less-than-ideal situation. He is at work in your frustration and hurt. He is doing the work of making you more like Jesus, who was himself made complete through suffering (Hebrews 5:8–9).

Your imperfect church is God’s way of loving your idolatry out of you. He is showing you the fleeting, false hopes that are powerless to satisfy you. He is showing you all the things you are trusting in that will only let you down. And by his Holy Spirit, he is working to remove in you those things that are destroying your joy.

Are you constantly grumbling and complaining about your church? Look for the evidences of grace for which to thank God in your situation. Then make an honest assessment of how you are contributing to the frustration. Unrealistic expectations? Sinful elitism? Feeling that you have already arrived and don’t need people giving you any advice? Now is always the time to repent and believe the gospel.

Are you always discontent, waiting on the next big thing, dreaming about some ideal church you haven’t yet found? Take time to praise God for what he is doing now. Then ask yourself why you struggle so much with contentment. Even if you got what you wanted, chances are you likely will still be looking for the next thing. Learn to be satisfied in Christ and then water where you are currently planted.

You’re Not as Good as You Think

Finally, ask yourself where you need to grow. None of us is as good as we think. Take inventory of your gifts. Ask wise council for honest feedback, and try to listen without getting offended. Don’t ask those who are just going to tell you what you want to hear, but those you know will shoot you straight. Sometimes the most thankful and contented people in the world simply lack the skills for certain roles of service. Find out where you can improve and do the hard work required to grow.

Whatever the reason God has you where you are right now, do not despise it. Embrace it as a gift from him. Even if everything seems senseless and you feel like you’re wasting your time, your wise and loving Savior is never clocked out or away on vacation. He is at work in and through you, shaping and sanctifying you until the day he returns. He is at work in your weakness, waiting to display his strength in ways that would never happen if he just gave you the perfect church.

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Russell Moore Calls for Evangelicals to Dump Trump

Russell Moore, head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, is calling on evangelicals to abandon their support for Donald Trump as presidential candidate.

Trump is in the lead among Evangelical voters according to an ABC and Washington Post poll. Last week, Moore wrote an article for The New York Times titled, “Have Evangelicals Who Support Trump Lost Their Values?”

Here are seven quotes from Moore’s article that will make you think about the cost of a vote for Trump:

1. “Donald J. Trump stands astride the polls in the Republican presidential race, beating all comers in virtually every demographic of the primary electorate. Most illogical is his support from evangelicals and other social conservatives. To back Mr. Trump, these voters must repudiate everything they believe.”

2. “Mr. Trump tells us “nothing beats the Bible,” and once said to an audience that he knows how Billy Graham feels. He says of evangelicals: “I love them. They love me.” And yet, he regularly ridicules evangelicals, with almost as much glee as he does Hispanics.”

3. “In a time when racial tensions run high across the country, Mr. Trump incites division, with slurs against Hispanic immigrants and with protectionist jargon that preys on turning economic insecurity into ugly “us versus them” identity politics.”

4. “His personal morality is clear, not because of tabloid exposés but because of his own boasts. His attitude toward women is that of a Bronze Age warlord. He tells us in one of his books that he revels in the fact that he gets to sleep with some of the ‘top women in the world.’ He has divorced two wives (so far) for other women.”

5. In recent years, he has suggested that evangelical missionaries not be treated in the United States for Ebola, since they chose to go overseas in the first place.

6. In a time when racial tensions run high across the country, Mr. Trump incites division, with slurs against Hispanic immigrants and with protectionist jargon that preys on turning economic insecurity into ugly “us versus them” identity politics. When evangelicals should be leading the way on racial reconciliation, as the Bible tells us to, are we really ready to trade unity with our black and brown brothers and sisters for this angry politician?

7. “Jesus taught his disciples to ‘count the cost’ of following him,” Moore writes. “We should know, he said, where we’re going and what we’re leaving behind. We should also count the cost of following Donald Trump. To do so would mean that we’ve decided to join the other side of the culture war, that image and celebrity and money and power and social Darwinist ‘winning’ trump the conservation of moral principles and a just society. We ought to listen, to get past the boisterous confidence and the television lights and the waving arms and hear just whose speech we’re applauding.”

The post Russell Moore Calls for Evangelicals to Dump Trump appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.

Injury Interrupted My Idolatry

Injury Interrupted My IdolatryIf you struggle to believe God loves you, and God just keeps bringing trials into your life, don’t panic. They’re more related than you realize.

I hobbled on one crutch to grip my cell phone from my back pocket. I was a starter for the New York Knicks and then the Toronto Raptors. And then I got injured, and then injured again, and then injured again. An elbow, a hand, a hip — an unholy trinity that slowly, progressively, and painfully dragged away my ability to play basketball for several seasons. My dream, my deepest desire, my identity were all suddenly in danger. It felt like life had been written in dry-erase marker, and God came and smudged what had been clear before. Once a star basketball player in Madison Square Garden, and now through three years of unplanned, unwanted physical issues, in my house straining just to check my phone.

John Piper’s tweet grabbed my attention: “NFL player Garrett Gilkey blew out his knee last night. He writes about God’s ‘grand and glorious sovereignty.’” Click. Like a rescue worker down in a sunken-in mine, God seized my soul from the death of sin and despair.

What Is God Doing?

I’ve never struggled to believe in God. But I’ve lived a lot of my life as a person who believes in God, but lives as if he doesn’t exist. I already had a “gospel” of my own — the promise that love and wealth are the world’s to give to the popular and gifted. I didn’t need to trust God, because I already trusted another god: the NBA.

Three years ago, Christ slowly started to change all of that. God gave me a gift through multiple season-ending injuries. In the same way that God gifted Garrett joy through his suffering, God gifted me faith through my suffering.

That’s how God works. He never wastes a drop of pain. If you’re in the midst of suffering — especially if it’s long-term, complex, or confusing — here are three gifts of faith that grow out of suffering in ways that will last (1 Corinthians 3:15).

A True Faith

Through suffering, God molds in us “godly sorrow that brings repentance” (2 Corinthians 7:10). Godly sorrow is the funeral that God puts on for our idols. God lets us feel the pain of loss so that we can experience the joy of him carrying our burdens (Matthew 11:30).

Suffering is the hook that God uses to bring us back to himself, collapsed and tired from slaving for sin, which Jonathan Edwards calls our “cruel task-master, which oppresses and chastises.” It’s the earthquake that exposes idols and dethrones sin in our hearts. When I was playing for the Knicks, I knew God existed and disapproved of the life I was living (overindulging in alcohol and sexual promiscuity), but I preached a gospel of cheap grace to make myself feel better. With the injuries, God exposed that I was relying on something other than grace painted to look like grace — a cheap grace that was as useful for my suffering as a cardboard cutout of Jesus.

When the injuries came, I started reading Scripture. I had the odd, unsettling thought, “I don’t think I’m really saved.” I read in James, “Faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). My casual Christianity needed to be told, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe — and shudder!” (James 2:19).

God dims the light of our life with suffering, so that our hearts embrace a grace that really sustains. Suffering is a time to mourn the loss of that which could never save.

A Better Hope

Like a meticulous watchmaker, God folded true faith into me through the creases of suffering, through all of the injuries, the waiting, and the disappointment. Not all at once, but day after day, over the course of years, God brought new clarity. The joy that God gives in suffering is a game-changer. It changes pain. It drastically transforms the first sixty seconds of your day. It course-corrects the next sixty years of your life.

My three years (and counting) of injuries have given me a chance to see just how much basketball was my gospel. By God’s grace, he’s transforming me into the image of Christ (2 Corinthians 3:18). My suffering made me ask, “Why would I put all my joy, hope, and future in something that won’t last?” The only thing that lasts in this life is Christ. I started putting all my joy, hope, and life in God’s hands.

A Humble Heart

I call my first season of injuries, “The Wilderness.” Three years ago, I was getting injured on the court. And off the court, my girlfriend became pregnant. By God’s grace, now she’s my wife, but we had only been dating for a few months at the time. At the time, I didn’t know what to do.

God has made life harder for me than I ever would have chosen for myself. And he has made life happier for me than I ever could have chosen for myself as a selfish, short-minded sinner.

Through suffering, God gives us humility. When I first started getting injured, I prayed, “God, leave it up to me, and leave me alone.” Now, I pray, “Thank you, Lord, for doing this and driving me back to you.” Suffering magnifies Christ to me, and in me, and through me. I’m thankful for my injured elbow, hand, and hip, because they make me depend on God in a way that I never would have without them.

The Blessing of Brokenness

Suffering is beautiful because it sets us free. Now, my wife is a believer. We’re raising our son to love Jesus. God’s continuing his work on my heart through the latest hip surgery. My faith is in a God who is sovereign, who is sanctifying me, and who gives me the gift of himself through sufferings and joys in this life.

Suffering has made the gospel real to me. And God will use suffering to make the gospel real to you too. If you’re going through something painful or difficult, it doesn’t mean that God isn’t paying attention or doesn’t care. It means God wants to win you to true faith in him, a better hope in his salvation, and deep humility and joy in his grace.

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5 Ways to Porn-Proof Your Mind and Marriage

When I was a kid, porn was coming of age. Our neighbor’s father had a subscription to Playboy magazine. The magazines were available any time at their home. I knew that looking at those pictures wasn’t in line with my faith and Christian living, but I found them very “interesting.”

Over the last six months I have received three Facebook messages about friends’ marriages in crisis and near divorce. In two of the three cases, the cause is sexual infidelity. In one of those, pornography played a major part in the infidelity. I suspect the same might be the case in the other two.

Another personal friend’s porn addiction led to looking at illegal materials that resulted in his arrest and charges that nearly landed him in prison.

Seems like pornography isn’t the victimless diversion some claim it is.

Perhaps you know someone caught in the trap of pornography. Perhaps you are one of those people. My heart goes out to all caught in the porn trap.

How have I escaped the trap of porn? In a nutshell, it’s God’s grace. In addition, there are also some practical things I’ve learned and practiced that have helped me porn-proof my mind and marriage.

So I’d like to share some ideas that have helped me porn-proof my mind and marriage:

01. Don’t Toy With Temptation

“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22 ESV)

All pornographic habits and addictions begin with “innocent” dabbling in explicit materials.

It’s easier than ever to play with porn. You used to have to find a magazine somewhere or go somewhere public to acquire naughty photos. Now the material is available on ubiquitous electronic devices.

Recently, I heard of an employee who was looking at explicit material in his cubicle on work time, using the company’s computer. He was observed by someone walking by and warned once, but couldn’t stop. The second time he was terminated from his job. He was a part-time pastor on the side.

Everybody likes to think, “I would never do that.” But the fact is that we don’t know how low we might go until it is too late.

What does God say? He says to “flee.” Don’t toy with temptation; flee from it.

The post 5 Ways to Porn-Proof Your Mind and Marriage appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.

What the Enemy Wants in Your Life

Let me get right to the point: the devil wants to hinder your worship of God this weekend, so he will work to distract and deceive you. The Apostle Paul, though, reminded us that we are not ignorant of the devil’s devices (2 Cor. 2:11); in fact, we wrestle against Satan and his forces (Eph. 6:12). Peter also told us that the enemy seeks to devour us (1 Pet. 5:8).

Below is a simple way to remember what the enemy does – and to evaluate where he might be working in your life. Review this list, confess your weak areas, and turn again to Christ as you prepare for worship this weekend.

He wants us to:

  1. Mess up in sin.  If he can deceive us and then lead us to hide like Adam and Eve did (Gen. 3:8), he’s at least temporarily won. Sin harms our relationship with God, blocks our prayer, and robs us of joy.  The enemy delights in the sinful secrets of our lives.
  2. Give up the fight. Perhaps you hear his voice today: “Why should you keep following a God who’s letting these things happen to you? Why not just give up?”  Job heard similar words from his own grieving wife when their world fell apart (Job 2:9), but still he worshiped God (Job 1:20, 2:10).
  3. Get puffed up with pride. This problem is at the core of the rest of these problems (Prov. 16:18). We make ourselves our own God, set our own rules, and walk our own path. Then, we also think we can handle our spiritual battles. All of these are nothing less than idolatry of the self.
  4. Muck up the gospel.  The gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16), so the enemy plants false teachers in the church (2 Cor. 11:13-15).  He often does so slyly, subtly invading the church rather than blatantly elevating his own teachers. They may look and sound good, but they are “deceitful workers” among the people of God.
  5. Split up our relationships. This strategy is hardly new. The enemy enticed Adam to turn on Eve in the Garden of Eden (blaming her for their sin in Gen. 3:12), and he then turned brother against brother in Genesis 4:1-16. It’s no wonder Jesus prayed so many times that His followers would be one (John 17).
  6. Shut up rather than tell the gospel.  God has given us one plan to reach our neighbors and the nations: believers are to tell the gospel and make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20, Rom. 10:9-17).  If we never get around to proclaiming the good news, a lost world remains in the enemy’s kingdom.

Where is the enemy winning in your life? In the life of your church? Let us know in the comments section how we might pray for you and your church family as you prepare for worship this weekend.

Debate Video: William Lane Craig vs. Marcus Borg- “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?”

Links I like (weekend edition)

Kindle deals for Christian readers

How to Read the Bible and Do Theology Well

Don Carson:

Trying to make sense of parts of the Bible and of the Bible as a whole can be challenging. What kind of study should be involved when any serious reader of the Bible tries to make sense of the Bible as a whole? Appropriate study involves several basic interdependent disciplines, of which five are mentioned here: careful reading, biblical theology (BT), historical theology (HT), systematic theology (ST), and pastoral theology (PT). What follows looks at each of these individually and shows how they interrelate—and how they are more than merely intellectual exercises.

The Difference Between Being Offended and Being Persecuted

Russell Moore:

Several years ago, I was flipping through magazines on an airplane when I came across a couple of pages that spiked my blood pressure. A beer advertisement was tagged with the headline, “Silent Nights Are Overrated.” A few minutes later, in a second publication, there was an advertisement for an outdoor grill which read: “Who Says It’s Better to Give Than to Receive?” My first reaction was a personal, if not tribal, offense. “Would they advertise in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan with the line ‘Fasting Is Overrated,’” I fumed, “or by asking in India, ‘Who Says Everything Is One with the Universe?” I was missing the point.

Why Being a Pastor-Scholar Is Nearly Impossible

Andrew Wilson:

But how feasible is it to be both a scholar and a pastor? I suspect many of us know individuals who, by aiming to be both a pastor and a scholar, have ended up being neither. More commonly, some aspire to be both equally, but indicate by their speech and actions—let alone by their weekly timetables—that they major in one and minor in the other.

Why I Always Feel Depressed on My Birthday

David Qaoud reflecting on his birthday (which is today, so be sure to wish him a happy one on Twitter).

The Undercurrent of Temptation in Ministry

Christine Hoover:

There are many around me who are suffering right now, and several are so close by that I am vicariously suffering too. How painful it is to see sin bear its fruit, how disheartening to encounter the stark reality of brokenness, how difficult to watch others suffer!

As a friend to the sufferers, I also recognize a tug of temptation, and this is where I must be careful.


Weekend A La Carte (September 26)

It would be difficult for me to explain just what a blessing it has been to spend time with the Christians here in Dominican Republic, and especially at Iglesia Bautista Internacional. Sadly, I have to make my way home today. But I sure hope I can return in the future. God is at work here and it is a joy to see.

Injury Interrupted My Idolatry

Landry Fields: “I hobbled on one crutch to grip my cell phone from my back pocket. I was a starter for the New York Knicks and then the Toronto Raptors. And then I got injured, and then injured again, and then injured again.”

Why We Need the New Battle for the Bible

Mark Galli reminds us “It’s time to turn to Scripture as our final authority.”

What Happens Next Will Amaze You

This article probably goes on for too long, but the first half or so is a fascinating look at the state of Internet security and what happens with all the data you leave behind.

From Antichrist to Brother in Christ

Lifeway reveals the results of a poll in which they asked Protestant pastors for their view of Pope Francis. More than half say Pope Francis is their brother in Christ. (Note: Here are some comments Al Mohler made on CNN.)

This Day in 1861. “A fast day is observed in the northern United States by order of President Abraham Lincoln.” *

Blood Moons and Biblical Discernment

Should we be concerned about the pattern of blood moons that so many people are all worked up about? No. This article tells why.

It Can Wait

This powerful little video is meant to convince you not to text while you drive. I’d say it’s quite effective.

Finally, thanks to RPTS for sponsoring the blog this week with an article for pastors called “Dry and Stale?

Notable Voices: September 26, 2015

Five Keys to Avoiding Conflict with Church Members — Church Answers

In this video, I cover five keys to avoiding conflict with church members and introduce a new level of our Church Answers program. For more information or to subscribe, click here.


You Are Wasting Your Weekly Staff Meeting if… — Eric Geiger

Staff meetings can be extremely helpful and informative when used correctly. When they are not, they waste everyone’s time. Don’t waste your staff meeting.

How Social Media Can Hurt Your Church — Darrel Girardier

LiAs it is with church websites, a bad church social media presence can be worse than no presence at all. Darrel provides five ways that your church can avoid a harmful social media presence.

Why Most Sermons Fail in the First 5 Minutes — Nicholas McDonald

Nicholas shares three things to avoid and three things to do in the first five minutes to help your listeners better engage with your sermon.

How Do I Define Success as a Pastor? — Mike Leake

In a recent interview, David Platt was asked how he defines a successful missionary. His answer was “faithfulness.” Mike echoes that response in his definition of a successful pastor.

20 Common Ways We Make Bad Decisions — Daily Infographic

Leaders have to make decisions. Don’t let these influence you to make poor decisions.


Christian Headlines Daily – Saturday, September 26, 2015


Top Headlines

Pope Doesn’t Mention Jesus in Speech to Congress

Donald Trump Looks to Evangelical Voters for Support

Persecuted Chinese Lawyer Kidnapped Again

TLC to Feature Duggar Sisters in New Programs

Pope Francis to Congress: ‘Stop Fighting, Start Working!’

Court Ruling in Argentina Spurs Prosecution of Aggression against Church

Selena Gomez Reveals Favorite Christian Singer

Mike Huckabee Says Obama ‘Pretends to be a Christian’

Doctors in Quebec Told They Must Perform Euthanasia

Syria: Martyrdom, or Live to ‘Fight’ Another Day


The Power of a Poem: Hannah More and the Abolition of the Slave Trade

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?

09/27/15 Praying on the Way

READING: Nehemiah 6-7

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  The book of Nehemiah is about God’s amazing hand on His people, leading them to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem in 52 days — a task that only God could accomplish (Neh. 6:15-16). At the same time, it’s also a book that describes the enemies of God’s people attempting to thwart that task. In today’s readings, three attempts are made to discourage Nehemiah, but he would not be distracted from the work at hand.

What we see Nehemiah doing instead is pushing forward while also seeking God’s help through prayer. Such prayers occur throughout this book, with several taking place in the chapters we’ve already read together:

Neh. 1:4-11  Please, Lord, let Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and to that of Your servants who delight to revere Your name. (v. 11)

Neh. 2:4-5a  Then the king asked me, “What is your request?” So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king.

Neh. 4:4-5  Listen, our God, for we are despised. Make their insults return on their own heads and let them be taken as plunder to a land of captivity. Do not cover their guilt or let their sin be erased from Your sight, because they have provoked the builders. 

Neh. 5:19  Remember me favorably, my God, for all that I have done for this people.

Neh. 6:9  But now, my God, strengthen me.

Neh. 6:14  My God, remember Tobiah and Sanballat for what they have done, and also Noadiah the prophetess and the other prophets who wanted to intimidate me.

What’s striking to me is that these prayers almost seem like interruptions in the story line. Most are short, to the point, and honest. They seem to just “show up” in the chapters, sometimes with little introduction.

They’re really not interruptions, though; they’re simply reflections of the heart of a man for whom prayer is in his DNA. Nehemiah prays regularly and naturally, without pretense.

That’s the kind of prayer warrior I want to be.

PRAYER: “God, please make me that kind of man of prayer. May prayer simply fall from my lips, unhindered by sin and focused only on You and Your will.”

09/26/15 Broken over Brokenness

READING: Nehemiah 1-5

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  I wonder how much I care about wayward people. I know I grieve when I see one of God’s followers go astray, and I’ve wept over the ruins of a life once lived for God but now turned away. I realize I have painful memories of watching people I love slide slowly into the pit. It’s tough to watch, especially when you can’t stop another person’s slide. But still I wonder if I come even close to grasping Nehemiah’s pain as he considered the broken walls of Jerusalem and the sin of God’s people.

1. He mourned, fasted, and prayed for days: “When I heard these words, I sat down and wept. I mourned for a number of days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven” (Neh. 1:4).

2. He confessed his own sin and the sin of his people: “I confess the sins we have committed against You. Both I and my father’s house have sinned” (Neh. 1:6b).

3. Even his countenance gave away his grief: “so the king said to me, ‘Why are you sad, when you aren’t sick? This is nothing but depression’” (Neh. 2:2).

4. He took the risk to get involved to fix the problem: “I was overwhelmed with fear and replied to the king, ‘May the king live forever! Why should I not be sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins and its gates have been destroyed by fire?’ Then the king asked me, ‘What is your request?’ So I prayed to the God of heaven and answered the king, ‘If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor with you, send me to Judah and to the city where my ancestors are buried, so that I may rebuild it’” (Neh. 2:2b-5).

I’ve hurt when others hurt, but only once have I so grieved another’s sin that all I could do was weep, pray, fast, confess, and take risks to get involved. That response came because I deeply loved the young man who made sinful choices. I confess, though, that in many other cases I’ve spoken of “grief” — but it was not grief that led to my brokenness and action.

I suspect that we get involved to address such problems only when we truly love others and genuinely grieve the consequences of their sin. Unless I first anguish over another man’s sinful choices and their results, I doubt I would take many risks to repair the problem.

PRAYER: “God, break my heart over lives broken by sin. Move me to tears and then to action — all the while reminding me to confess my own sin.”

Our Time is Short

Read: Recommitting Your Life To God and Jesus Christ – Restoration and Forgiveness With God and Jesus Christ (Updated Version)

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

Resource Links

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

About Christianity
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed

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