October 5, 2015 Christian Briefing Report

October 5 Quotes

The Prosperity Gospel Has Gone Viral

Regrettably, the prosperity gospel has gone viral. Being more nuanced and subtle than you may think, it is very active in the church. Like a computer virus it is draining vitality and productivity in the covenant community. And you know what the worst part is? You may not even know that you are impacted by it.

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The Question Is Not Whether But Why?

The question in the 16th century was never whether James is in the Bible but why it is there. As they worked out their doctrine of justification, sanctification, and salvation sola gratia, sola fide they concluded that James 2 is teaching the moral and logical necessity of love and good works not as part of the legal basis (ground) of our justification and salvation nor as part of the instrument of them but as the outcome. We are justified that we might be sanctified and we manifest this sanctification in love and good works. We are saved in order that we might walk in good works (Eph 2:10).

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6 Great New Books for Kids

In The Biggest Story, Kevin DeYoung—a best-selling author and father of six—leads kids and parents alike on an exciting journey through the Bible, connecting the dots from the garden of Eden to Christ’s death on the cross to the new heaven and new earth. With powerful illustrations by award-winning artist Don Clark, this imaginative retelling of the Bible’s core message—how the Snake Crusher brings us back to the garden—will draw children into the biblical story, teaching them that God’s promises are even bigger and better than we think.”

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Pretending No More

When someone asks how we are doing and we smile and say, “Fine,” but inside our heart is aching, we are in fact pretending to be someone else. When we act like our life is great while our world is crumbling down around us, we are pretending. When we fear to open up to others about who we really are and instead mask our aches and pains, we are pretending. When we act as though we are not battling sin and temptation in our life, we are pretending.

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The Privilege of Being a Christian

Opinion varies, but many scholars estimate that Romans was written in AD 57-58. Within a decade, many of the Roman Christians to whom the letter was addressed were brutally slaughtered in the Roman amphitheaters. The original readers of Romans faced a terrible dilemma: they could deny Jesus or profess Him knowing that, if they did, they faced certain death. Tacitus’ account, written half a century later, and with unmeasured contempt for Nero, is often cited: “Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered in the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or doomed to the flames.”

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Did the Apostle Paul Use Profanity?

With that in mind, I did a search of two exhaustive databases of ancient Greek literature (Perseus and Thesaurus Lingua Graecae) to see if σκύβαλα functions as a swear word in Greek. I discovered that nowhere in all of ancient Greek literature is there a clear example of σκύβαλα functioning as a swear word or even as a rude word. I could not find a single place where it was used as an insult, invective curse or interjection. In fact, the normal use of σκύβαλα in ancient Greek scholarly literature makes it almost impossible that it was a swear word. Here is the evidence for my claim, a list of the known uses of σκύβαλα in ancient Greek texts.

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Brothers and Sisters

We don’t need more fences. We don’t need a stronger negative push against sinful sexual relationships.  We need to foster a different mindset altogether. The church needs to plow a counter culture. It needs a new axis on gender, orthogonal to the sexual one, that equips us to live affirmatively in male/female relationships in the Body of Christ. Our culture in Christ should be that of FAMILY.

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4 Questions to Ask a Child

Sometimes they freeze at any adult attention, twisting themselves into Mommy’s skirt faster than you can say “hello there!” Sometimes they begin eagerly to speak to you, but a friend or a spider redirects their energies and, with a whirl, they disappear. Sometimes, they’ve just woken on the wrong side of the pack n’ play or been forced to eat Brussels sprouts for snack, and you wouldn’t get a cheerful word out of them even if you offered them a Blue Razz Blow Pop in exchange. Children are shy, distractible, irritable, talkative, uncomfortable, and affectionate. In short, they are pretty much like adults.

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Does God Care if I Don't Go to Church?

Does God Care if I Don’t Go to Church?

Posted on October 4, 2015 by Crosswalk

While failing to attend church will not send a Christian to hell, it is not what God intended for His people.

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Re-Ignite Bible Reading That’s Become Boring

Re-Ignite Bible Reading That’s Become Boring

Posted on October 4, 2015 by Church Leaders

Do you know how to re-ignite your Bible reading during seasons of dryness and deadness?

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We Need to Talk About Submission

We Need to Talk About Submission

Posted on October 5, 2015 by Desiring God

If we avoid or abandon talking about submission, we throw aside the fundamentals of marriage that God ordained from the beginning. If ever there were a time to dialogue about marriage, submission, and the attendant glory of Christ, it is now.

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Billy Graham warns of fire and brimstone in ‘final’ book

Billy Graham warns of fire and brimstone in ‘final’ book

Posted on October 5, 2015 by Ministry Matters

(RNS) In his latest book, evangelist Billy Graham declares that non-Christians are doomed to live in a fiery hell, a message his son said he has wanted to share for several …

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When God Calls You to Something “Small”

by Erin Davis

It’s awesome when our faith propels us to make giant leaps, but sometimes the harder steps to take are the small ones. I’m a lot less willing to do little things for God.

3 Verses on Beauty Every Girl Needs to Know

by Bethany Baird

The next time the girl in the mirror forgets how beautiful she is, recite these three power-packed verses.

8 Reasons Why I Didn’t Change My Name (and 6 Reasons I Did)

by Paula Hendricks

There’s power in a name! Here are good (and not so good) reasons to take your future husband’s name.

Why You Should Risk Losing Their Friendship

by Paula Hendricks

Here’s why you should be brave enough to confront that friend.

The Billion Souls network wants churches to Bring Back The King

Amy Spreeman of Berean Research reports:

There is a major effort by the “Billion Souls Network” to “Bring Back The King” by finishing the Great Commission by AD 2100. This Dominionist movement is not only not biblical, it is downright dangerous. (see our White paper on NAR Dominionism to begin your research.) What is the Billion Souls Network?

The Billion Souls network wants churches to Bring Back The King

Clinton, Biden Speak at “Gay Gala,”Push for Federal Law to Protect Homosexuality

Christian News Network reports:

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and Vice President Joe Biden served a speakers at a “gay gala” on Saturday sponsored by the nation’s largest homosexual activist group, co-founded by a man who has spent the past year fighting child rape charges.

“It’s great to be back with the other HRC,” Clinton quipped as she addressed the hundreds gathered for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) event in Washington. “There’s no one I’d rather share my initials with than all of you.”

“I see the injustices and the dangers that you and your families still face,” she said. “I’m running for president to stand up for the fundamental rights of LGBT Americans.”


Christian gun owners are heretics

In this piece over at airō, evangelist Justin Edwards pulls no punches. He writes:

Gun and BibleYep, gun owners are heretics according to “Formerly Fundy” Patheos blogger and Fuller Seminary doctoral candidate, Benjamin L Corey. Following the anti-Christian hate crime by the son of the devil who slaughtered nine people professing the name of Christ, Mr. Corey seized the moment on twitter to condemn Christian gun owners:

The face that U.S. Christians are so rabidly pro-gun suggests they are a people group who need to be evangelized and converted to Christ.

Christian Gun Owners Are Heretics

Thousands Line Up At Chick-Fil-A Megastore In NYC Amid LGBT Protests

Highly adored and highly controversial fast food chain Chick-Fil-A  satisfied cravings and ruffled a few feathers Saturday with the grand opening of its first official Manhattan outpost.

Chick-Fil-A, the massively popular Southern staple owned by a conservative Christian family known for their anti-gay marriage views, hatched a 5,000-square-foot store in Herald Square to mixed reviews from fervent devotees and activists.

This is the best chicken in the world, in my opinion.” said Dana Kelly, 25, after devouring an original chicken sandwich with waffle fries. “It was completely worth it. It’s like nothing else.” Thousands of hungry, and soggy, fast food fanatics braved the bad weather to get a taste of the chain’s signature sandwiches. A few hundred even camped out overnight.


Hours after the doors opened, a 20-minute-long line still stretched down W. 37th St. from the front doors on Sixth Ave.

But not everyone outside the new sandwich shop Saturday was there for a taste of chicken.

I was very shocked by the amount of people lining up to support this company,” said Lila Trenkova, a founder of Collectively Free, an animal and gay rights activist group. “I think that it’s ignorance rather than people actually not caring.”

Trenkova and about two dozen others staged a demonstration outside the three-story behemoth to protest Chick-Fil-A’s history as a conservative-owned chicken palace.

The fast food chain found itself at the center of the politically-charged debate over gay marriage in 2012 when then-Chief Operating Officer and current CEO Dan Cathy, the son of the company’s deeply religious founder, told a Christian news organization that Chick-fil-A supported “the biblical definition of the family unit.”

Cathy later said that marriage equality was “inviting God’s judgment” on the U.S. The Atlanta-based company has been family owned and privately held since 1964. Despite the backlash against the conservative Christian views of its owners, the company has pecked its way into the roster of successful nationwide chains.

There are more than 1,900 Chick-Fil—A’s stores in the U.S. and sales reached nearly $6 billion in 2014.

Customers at the new outpost in usually liberal New York seemed more concerned with the wait than the company’s politics.

It’s like a little piece of home,” said Chris Pickering, 25, originally from Miami but living in Brooklyn. “The chicken is better than at any other fast food places and it was incredibly fast, even faster than McDonalds.” source

The Pope’s Problem: A Reprise

popeThe pope is finally gone and I am happier for it. He has practically no redeeming qualities and has left a trail of carnage from the moment he arrived until the moment he left. Make no mistake: he is the incarnation and personification of the worst sort of evil imaginable. And he’s worse than any pope in a long time. Shame on you if you said from your pulpit, “The pope has his problems but…”

So what are the Pope’s problems? Let me enumerate them:

First and most obviously, the pope effectively claims to be God. I choose my words carefully, because he does not announce that he is God; still, he accrues to himself more than is due even a proxy or vicar of God (which he does claim): he actually assumes attributes and prerogatives that belong only to God so routinely that there can be no other conclusion that commends itself to the rational mind. I sat in traffic last week and heard the Archbishop of Detroit call the faithful to “cast their hosannas” at the feet of “his holiness,” as the pope was on his way to a “canonization” event. This was followed by a few snippets from women like to swoon with giddy delirium over the “literal” wave of peace and holiness that had overwhelmed them in Mark 5:30 fashion as he rode past. All this in the time it took me to move fifty feet on Interstate 94. Reality Check: The pope is the greatest purveyor of idolatry alive today. He is a living, breathing affront to God in the very most rudimentary, uncomplicated, and intentional of senses. There is no room for a “yes, but…” To think in such terms is to have one’s Christian sensibilities occluded. He is an unrepentant leader in leading millions into what is, at least in God’s terms, the very first and worst of all possible sins.

But second, this particular pope doesn’t even do common grace well. In past papal administrations, hopeful evangelicals have pushed for “co-belligerence” of evangelical and Catholic churches in matters of social concern. Mercifully, these appeals were more than usually muted for the duration of his visit. And that is because the current pope is not only morally ambivalent (saying almost nothing, say, about the vices of abortion and homosexuality), he’s also naïve to the fact of human depravity and rather stupid (imagining that the Communist experiment of the twentieth century actually has a promising future). But because he speaks for God, we actually have sycophants on both sides of the aisle fawning over his divine words. Reality Check: The pope is using his self-aggrandizing power both to threaten our nation and to effectively suppress biblical ethics with his deafening silence.

Put these two problems together, and we arrive at the pope’s unique problem, viz., that he simultaneously threatens both the civic and spiritual governments of God in rather a comprehensive way. The true church is regularly threatened from within by heresy and from without by civic structures that actively assault the church or fail to restrain those who do. But the pope has the unique power to threaten the church in both ways. And, oddly, the evangelical church often stands poised to accommodate him. Of course it is true that there are incidental points of practical agreement between the Roman Catholic and Christian worldviews that can from time-to-time render individual Catholics and Christians odd but legitimate bedfellows (i.e., the kind of cooperation that can occur incidentally between believers and almost any fellow human), but there can be no formal, Christian, or ecclesiastical co-belligerence between us.

The pope simply has too many problems. Ἀνάθεμα ἔστω.

Bully on the Block – Hal Lindsey

Russia claims to be in Syria to help defeat ISIS, but their real purpose is to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and further ingratiate themselves with Assad’s powerful ally in the region — Iran. Wednesday’s air strikes prove it. They attacked an area north of the city of Homs in Western Syria. ISIS is generally located in the northern and eastern part of Syria.

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Beware of False Christs

“The coming of this Master teacher 2,000 years ago was a milestone in the journey that marked a great acceleration in the process of moving back to alignment with the Light within.  This master teacher was known as Jesus Christ.  The man Jesus was a perfect child of the Goddess and God energy–just as we […]

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The Global Warming Gestapo – Terry James

While preaching to the U.N., America, and Israel-hating choir about America’s culpability in the damage to earth’s environment, the pope reflected on statements he has made as chief climate-change cop. Statements like the following:

-“God will judge you whether you cared for Earth.”
-“It is man who has slapped nature in the face.”
-“People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.”
-“The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all.”

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Office Hours: After Obergefell (pt 2)

Recently the Supreme Court of the United States issued a very significant decision widely known as Obergefell. In that 5–4 ruling, writing for the majority, Justice Kennedy argued that same-sex marriage is protected under the 14th Amendment, which was ratified after the American Civil War to guarantee the rights of those freedom had been won […]

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Strangers And Aliens (3): The Good News Of The Salvation Has Now Been Announced (1 Peter 1:10–12)

What is the central unifying narrative thread in the history of redemption? For many American evangelicals the default answer to this question is: national Israel. For them it is a mark of faithfulness to Scripture to assume that the central, unifying thread is God’s promise of and interest in a national, earthly people (Israel). In […]

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Islam Advances While the West Sleeps

Islam has a game plan. The West just plays games. That is why, unless things change drastically, the West will lose and Islam will triumph. The 1400-year old dream of a global caliphate established by aggressive Islamic imperialism remains on the table, while the West dithers about with more important matters like Bruce Jenner and Miley Cyrus.

The first article I penned today offers a fitting look at Western priorities and realities: a budding porn star who killed her own baby in order to get some more cosmetic surgery. Yep, that about sums up where the West is at. My story about her (and the decline of the West which she so handily represents) is found here: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2015/10/05/baby-killing-career-advancement-and-a-terminal-culture/

islam 26The decline of the West has been documented time and time again. America, once the light on the hill, and the leader of the free world, is now but a shadow of its former shelf, with Obama doing all he can to relegate it to the trash heap of history.

In the recent past when the world was threatened by godless Communism, we had Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II to help defeat this horrific enemy. Today we have a guy in the White house who prefers to spend all his spare time on the golf course.

And in the meanwhile IS is steadily advancing. As one wag quipped, if Reagan were still around, ISIS would be WASWAS. But not under the girly man and dhimmi we now have in office. So Islam advances while the West recedes.

And into the vacuum steps someone like Putin, who seems a lot more concerned lately with defending Christian values and Christian civilisation than Obama ever has. He is even doing what America should have done long ago: “bombing the crap out of” IS in Syria, as one commentator put it. He continues:

“Putin has now made it official and uncontestable that the United States is no longer in the superpower business. We have lost our place in the world order thanks to the massive incompetence (not to mention intentional malfeasance) of the Obama administration – including former Secretary of Scapegoating Hillary “reset button” Clinton.”

Two recent articles on the nefarious spread of Islam in the West just caught my eye, so let me quote from each. Islam expert Raymond Ibrahim writes about “Europe’s Migrant Crisis, Islamic History, and Western Fantasy”. The West does just not understand Islam he argues. He states:

This dichotomy of Muslim and Western thinking is evident everywhere. When the Islamic State declared that it will “conquer Rome” and “break its crosses,” few in the West realized that those are the verbatim words and goals of Islam’s founder and his companions as recorded in Muslim sources — words and goals that prompted over a thousand years of jihad on Europe.
Most recently, the Islamic State released a map of the areas it plans on expanding into over the next five years. Not only are Mideast and Asian regions included, but the map includes European lands: Portugal, Spain, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Greece, parts of Russia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, Armenia, Georgia, Crete, and Cyprus.
The reason for this is simple. According to Islamic law, once a country has been conquered (or “opened,” as the euphemistic Arabic words it), it becomes Islamic in perpetuity….
All of the aforementioned European nations are seen as being currently “occupied” by Christian “infidels” and in need of “liberation.” This is why jihadi organizations refer to terrorist attacks on such countries as “defensive jihads.” One rarely hears about Islamic designs on European nations because they are large and blocked together, altogether distant from the Muslim world. Conversely, tiny Israel is in the heart of the Islamic world, hence it has received most of the jihadi attention: it was a more realistic conquest. But now that the “caliphate” has been reborn and is expanding before a paralytic West, dreams of reconquering portions of Europe — if not through jihad, then through migration — are becoming more plausible, perhaps more so than conquering Israel….
Meanwhile, in schools across much of the Muslim world, children are being indoctrinated into glorifying and reminiscing about the jihadi conquests of yore — conquests by the sword and in the name of Allah. While the progressive West demonizes European/Christian history (when I was in elementary school, Christopher Columbus was a hero; when I got into college, he became a villain), Mehmet the Conqueror, whose atrocities against Christian Europeans make the Islamic State look like boy scouts, is praised every year in “secular” Turkey on the anniversary of the savage sack of Constantinople.

The current Syrian refugee crisis is another thing the West just does not properly understand – nor most gullible Christians for that matter:

The result of Western fantasies and Islamic history is that today Muslims are entering the West unfettered in the guise of refugees. They refuse to assimilate with the “infidels,” and form enclaves — in Islamic terminology, ribats — that serve as frontier posts to wage jihad against the infidel one way or another.
This is not conjecture. The Islamic State is intentionally driving the refugee phenomenon and has promised to send half a million people — mostly Muslims — into Europe. It claims that 4,000 of these refugees are its own operatives:
Just wait. … It’s our dream that there should be a caliphate not only in Syria but in all the world, and we will have it soon, inshallah.
It is often said that those who ignore history are destined to repeat it. What happens to those who rewrite history in a way to demonize their ancestors while whitewashing the crimes of their ancestors’ enemies? The result is before us. History is not repeating itself; sword-waving Muslims are not militarily conquering Europe. Rather, they are being allowed to walk right in.

Also, consider the role of the mosque in Islamic thought and practice. Most Westerners – including Western leaders – are utterly clueless as to what goes on in the Islamic mosque. Thus we have leaders like Turnbull and others here in Australia making excuses for Islamic jihadists who are killing our people on our streets.

They speak about “radicalised youth” when they should be speaking about the radical political ideology known as Islam. And the mosque plays a key role in all of this, as we just saw once again when the 15yo Muslim youth did his shooting spree just after leaving a Sydney mosque.

I have written before on the sinister nature of the mosque, eg: http://billmuehlenberg.com/2014/03/28/the-significance-of-the-mosque/

But a helpful piece on this by Harry Richardson has just appeared, entitled “So you thought mosques were just places of worship?” He begins:

In local councils across Australia, and indeed most of the Western World, applications are pending for the building of new Mosques. Until recently, these applications would have been approved with little more than a rubber stamp and a few suggestions as to local planning. Today however, things have changed. Mosque applications have become rallying points for community anger and hostility. Demonstrations and campaigns are becoming commonplace.

He goes on to ask, what is a mosque?

It is vitally important to understand what a mosque represents in Islam. A mosque is not like a church or a temple, it is much more than a place for Muslims to simply worship their God (Allah). Mosques are modelled on the first mosque established by Mohammed in Medina which was a seat of government, a command centre, a court, a military training centre and an arms depot. Mosque leaders today raise religious decrees, enforce Islamic doctrine, monitor conduct, punish transgressors and command actions including requirements to conduct Jihad. A mosque is much more than a church.

He looks at how various Islamic lands see all this, such as Turkey:

The Prime Minister of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, understood the military nature of a mosque when he stated: “A mosque is our barracks, the domes our helmets, minarets our bayonets and the faithful are our soldiers.” Islam’s founder, the Prophet Mohammed, was not just a religious leader but a political and military one too. He raised armies and fought and killed people until he was the King of the whole of Arabia. The religion of Islam is entirely based on the example and teachings of Mohammed. Unlike any other major religion therefore, Islam is also a political and military force.

He finishes by looking again at mosque building in Australia:

Question: Why are so many mosques being built?
Answer: Muslims currently have over 370 mosques in Australia which, per capita, is more than six times the number of Buddhist and Hindu temples. This could well be because the mosque is intended as a beachhead for Islam, a place to plan Jihad and to implement Sharia law.
Question: Why do mosques have capacities that cater for far greater numbers than those in local Muslim communities?
Answer: The mosque is deliberately built to dominate the neighbourhood to show the supremacy of Islam over Christianity and all other faiths.
Mosque teachings in Australia
What is taught in the mosque comes directly from the Qur’an, the Hadith and Sira, and the ‘Reliance of the Traveller’, which is the Manual of Islamic Law. The Manual of Islamic Law teaches in Law O9.0 that it is a communal obligation for Muslims to wage Jihad to establish Islam as the religion and the law. In the Hadith of Muslim, book 41 No. 6985, Muslims are told to slaughter the Jews.
There are many examples of these teachings being delivered in mosques which give cause for alarm.
1. On April 27 in the Preston mosque in Melbourne, an audio tape exists of brother Baha delivering a speech calling on Muslims to engage in Jihad against Australians (in line with Islamic Law O9.0)
2. Sheik Feiz Mohammed who teaches at a mosque in Auburn in Western Sydney, is on video calling for the mass slaughter of all Jews, while making pig noises. (This is perhaps inspired by the Hadith of Muslim book 41 No. 6985)
3. Sheik Hilaly of the Lakemba mosque, a former Grand Mufti of Australia, defended the rape of women who were not covered in acceptable Islamic dress. There is now evidence of a rape epidemic in Europe by Muslims because Islamic Sharia law does not penalise a Muslim for raping a non-Muslim woman.

We need to learn about Islam. We need to understand that it is an expansionist, imperialistic political ideology which brooks no rivals. We also need a revitalised and reenergised West. While the march of Islam will continue apace, one can rightly ask if the West will wake up, learn to discern what is happening, and stand up for its values once again.

Or will it continue to roll over and play dead.


Dark Times Come To Nepal – Conversion To Christianity Banned, Christian Missionaries Told To Leave Country

Nepal seems to be the latest hotspot for intensified attacks against Christians and their faith. Nepal’s 31 million-strong population is predominantly Hindu, at about 81%. Christians make up a mere 1.4% of the entire population. A group of Hindu extremists from the Morcha Nepal, or ‘Morcha’ radical group, are now reportedly using leaflets to warn all foreign Christian missionaries to leave Nepal………… Click here for full story

Home Alone

Home Alone One of the most common conflicts in homes today is triggered by a smartphone. Someone in most homes has cultivated the habit of disconnecting from others in the room and constantly checking his phone. In fact, if you’re around long enough, it feels less like a habit and more like a right or basic need — air, food, sleep, and Facebook.

I’ve been that person in our home, and am making serious effort to change.

The message we’re really sending while sending one more quick text is: Better to be away from the family — the spouse, the children, the roommate, the guest — and at home with the phone. As Sherry Turkle has observed, our phones now present the potential to be with someone, but always somewhere else as well (Alone Together, 152). To constantly check our phone, then, is to put up an away message and declare that we’re not really there. We’re home together, yet home alone.

The same device that connects us with people all over the world alienates us from those just across the room. It’s the in-home home-wrecker. The trade-offs are pretty silly when we stop and look up long enough to weigh them. We trade the needs in front of us, the meaningful conversation with our spouse or children, the opportunity to truly know and be known, and for what?

Angry birds
Sports scores
Facebook comments
Fantasy football
YouTube videos
Celebrity gossip
Breaking news
Doodle Jump
Text messages

None of them wrong, but none of them worth living or dying for, either. None worth straining a marriage, family, or friendship for.

The Lies That Bind

Satan presents a host of lies to keep us attached to our phones — a kind of twisted spiritual “upgrade” from the corded phone — and detached from those around us. Phones were once attached to walls; now we’re attached to them. There are more lies, of course, than I could identify or address here. Two lies, though, are especially compelling and sum up a lot of the others.

On the one hand, we’ve been taught that we’re each an indispensible part of the world’s engine, a hinge on which everyone else in our lives precariously hangs. What would they do without me? It would be selfish, even unloving, to close myself off completely from them. The world needs me.

On the other hand, we hang our hearts on the world, longing to be wanted, longing for the next affirmation, for that feeling of being important and included. We’ve been wired from birth to want love, and so we fall into a speed-dating world of work emails, social networks, and viral videos. We cling to our phones because we crave the world’s attention and affection. I need the world.

Gaining freedom from our phones requires being liberated from lies like these that bind the technology to us like links in a cold, steel chain.

Lie #1: The World Needs Me

For some of us, a savior complex tethers us to our phones. We’re afraid something will happen and someone will need us — and only us — immediately. What could they possibly do if we weren’t available? Well, probably whatever they did for thousands of years before the telephone existed, or for a couple hundred more while it was anchored to the wall. Or more likely, and yet strangely unthinkable to a me-centered generation, they’ll just call someone else.

If we put the phone down and went for a walk, we might be willing to admit we’re not as needed as we think or act. But that’s scary, too. We love being needed.

But the world doesn’t need me. God has governed, preserved, and prospered the world without me for most of history — thousands and thousands of years. If I suddenly died tomorrow, there would undoubtedly be significant pain, loss, and change for a few, but the world would survive, move forward, and be just fine. The omniscient and omnipotent God is still in control, and utterly committed to fulfilling his work everywhere on the planet.

He will take care of every detail with perfect love, perfect timing, and unlimited power. And he’ll be especially and graciously attentive when it comes to protecting and providing for those who love him (Matthew 6:26, 30). That truth relieves us of trying to play God’s part and enables us to serve the small (yet significant) role he’s given each of us.

Ironically, by trying to “save” the world with our incessant availability — checking and checking and checking — we’re abandoning the world that needs us most, the people under our own roof. The people who need us most — and who we need most, if we’ll admit it — typically aren’t on the other end of an email or Tweet, but on the other end of the couch.

The face time you have with the people you live and work with cannot be replaced with Facetime (or Facebook, or Instagram, and certainly not by Buzzfeed). God has placed all of you — mind, body, and soul — in only one place at any one time, so all of you is only available, face to face, to a few.

The apostles knew that in the long run even personal handwritten letters were not enough (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 John 12; 3 John 13). Paul and John wanted to see these people (Romans 1:11). Tone, body language, facial expressions, and physical touch mattered in these relationships. We’ve lost track of the immeasurable and irreplaceable value of physical presence in relationships. That value puts a premium on the love we give and receive in our homes, our neighborhoods, our church families, and our workplaces.

Lie #2: I Need the World

We have a need to be needed. We love the idea that someone might text or call or tweet to get our attention. We don’t want to miss that moment when someone else thought of us. We need the world. Alert after alert, our phones justify and praise our existence. They reassure us that we are considered talented, important, and loved by someone — even if the affection is often shallow, superficial, and short-lived.

Our smartphones make us feel needed, and they give us control, or at least the mirage of control. Turkle writes, “Today, our machine dream is to be never alone but always in control. This can’t happen when one is face-to-face with a person” (157). We decide when to click, what apps to add, and who to engage. Face-to-face relationships aren’t as convenient as Facebook friends or Twitter followers. You can’t swipe a spouse or child away for a little while. But those relationships are the frontlines of faithfulness as well as the opportunities with the greatest potential for lasting impact.

The information age has transformed us all into need-to-know, nosy people. Like a desperate, sleep-deprived reporter, we check our sources every few minutes, looking for the next headline — sports, eating, politics, and parenting. We work hard to be in the know, but end up knowing everything about nothing. Tragically, we know the latest trends on Twitter, the funniest videos on Facebook, and the Instagrammed milestones of others’ infants, but we have a harder time answering questions about our own family or roommates.

As believers in Jesus and the gospel, our identity is never in how much we’re needed in this life, or in what we control, or in how much we know. Our life is measured by the life that was given for us, by the price that was paid to secure and satisfy us forever (1 Corinthians 6:20; 1 Peter 1:19). We were made and saved not to be loved by social media, but by the almighty God of holiness and mercy.

Do Not Disturb

One practical way forward is to set up and use a Do Not Disturb feature on your phone. You can choose to still receive calls from particular people, or from people who call multiple times in an emergency, but you eliminate the vast majority of notifications. You can schedule it every night at a certain time or turn it on for an hour or two while you eat dinner or work on a project or spend time with your family.

If work is the reason you keep your phone so close, you probably have allowed work to creep too far into your life. Very, very few jobs require (or even expect) you to be available every minute of every day. In fact, your endless availability probably says more about your own needs than theirs.

To some, it may sound unloving or anti-social, but ironically it may be the most loving and inviting decision you make today. The truth is many of us have a Do No Disturb sign up most of the time. The question is whether it faces the world around us or the people beside us.

By shutting out the world for a few moments, you welcome those next to you in and give them more attention than they’re used to receiving (perhaps from anyone). You also remind your own heart, against all of Satan’s false promises (Matthew 4:8–9), where your treasure and security truly lie.

Undivided, undistracted attention is a precious commodity and gift today, like some handcrafted artifact from the ancient world. Surprise someone you love by ignoring your phone, leaving it out of sight, turning off alerts, and listening well.

Related Articles

What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ?

The exhortation to “abide” has been frequently misunderstood, as though it were a special, mystical, and indefinable experience. But Jesus makes clear that it actually involves a number of concrete realities.

First, union with our Lord depends on His grace. Of course we are actively and personally united to Christ by faith (John 14:12). But faith itself is rooted in the activity of God. It is the Father who, as the divine Gardener, has grafted us into Christ. It is Christ, by His Word, who has cleansed us to fit us for union with Himself (15:3). All is sovereign, all is of grace.

Second, union with Christ means being obedient to Him. Abiding involves our response to the teaching of Jesus: “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you …” (John 15:7a). Paul echoes this idea in Colossians 3:16, where he writes, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly,” a statement closely related to his parallel exhortation in Ephesians 5:18: “be filled with the Spirit.”

In a nutshell, abiding in Christ means allowing His Word to fill our minds, direct our wills, and transform our affections. In other words, our relationship to Christ is intimately connected to what we do with our Bibles! Then, of course, as Christ’s Word dwells in us and the Spirit fills us, we will begin to pray in a way consistent with the will of God and discover the truth of our Lord’s often misapplied promise: “You will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you” (John 15:7b).

Third, Christ underlines a further principle, “Abide in My love” (15:9), and states very clearly what this implies: the believer rests his or her life on the love of Christ (the love of the One who lays down His life for His friends, v. 13).

This love has been proved to us in the cross of Christ. We must never allow ourselves to drift from daily contemplation of the cross as the irrefutable demonstration of that love, or from dependence on the Spirit who sheds it abroad in our hearts (Rom. 5:5). Furthermore, remaining in Christ’s love comes to very concrete expression: simple obedience rendered to Him is the fruit and evidence of love for Him (John 15:10–14).

Finally, we are called, as part of the abiding process, to submit to the pruning knife of God in the providences by which He cuts away all disloyalty and sometimes all that is unimportant, in order that we might remain in Christ all the more wholeheartedly.

This excerpt is taken from In Christ Alone by Sinclair Ferguson.

Why the Sermon Is Not Enough

If you’ve spent much time in church, you may have noticed that more seats are filled on Christmas and Easter than on an average Sunday. Many of us may have grown up as church “CEO’s”—Christmas and Easter Only attendees—sharing in the mindset that by attending on these dates we had fulfilled our religious duty for the year. If you think about it, that’s a little like a college student who shows up only for midterms and finals thinking he’ll be able to pull off a passing grade.

Even faithful attendees of weekly worship can overestimate what our attendance is accomplishing.

But even faithful attendees of weekly worship can overestimate what our attendance is accomplishing, particularly if our weekly investment in learning Scripture begins and ends with listening to a sermon. In doing so, we’re a bit like a college student who comes to lecture every week but does nothing outside of class to reinforce what he learns. Neglecting the syllabus, this student just shows up each week, listens to the lecture, and goes home. No matter how good the lectures are, his grasp of the subject will only go so far.

Going Deeper Than the Sermon

It occurs to me that the children of God have been given a syllabus: love God’s law,meditate on it day and night,hide it in your heart, reap the profitability of all of it. Yet many of us are content to just show up each week for lecture. We might do a Bible reading plan or a devotional time during the week, but do we make an earnest study of the syllabus material?

What if we became more like the college student who comes to the lecture, but also takes time to dig deeper? Who broadens his understanding of the lecture by personal study time and dialogue with other students?

Because the sermon is not enough to teach us the knowledge of Scripture. It is not even necessarily intended to do so.

The sermon is not enough to teach us the knowledge of Scripture.

Before you begin to imagine this is a critique of the pulpit, understand that your pastor wants and expects you to learn elsewhere. More than likely, he constructs his sermon based on the premise that you are acquiring basic Bible knowledge in a home group, Sunday school class, or Bible study. This gives his sermon the freedom to exhort, to encourage, to apply. It allows him to preach topical sermons that move from passage to passage to integrate a broad concept, building on a foundation of basic Bible knowledge he assumes you have acquired elsewhere.

Or perhaps your pastor makes no such assumption, choosing expository preaching over topical preaching to help build that foundational knowledge. But even this excellent approach is often limited by calendar pressures. In most churches, the typical sermon series fills about ten weeks at most, depending on the ebb and flow of the church calendar. This means most pastors won’t preach through an entire book of the Bible from start to finish unless that book is fairly short. Most of them are not.

What Good Preaching Does

As someone who sits under extremely good preaching each week, I have noticed a pattern: Good preaching creates a hunger for deeper learning—it awakens our desire to know more of this God we hear proclaimed. Rather than “refilling our spiritual tanks” once a week, good preaching drives us to hunger for more truth than we had when we walked in the church doors. It whets our appetite for deeper study.

Good preaching drives us to hunger for more truth than we had when we walked in the church doors.

When will you learn Ezekiel beyond an annual read-through in a reading plan? When will you mine Genesis chapter by chapter for all its richness? Seeking out learning environments in addition to the sermon allows us to do just that. My hunger from the weekend sermon finds me halfway through a twenty-two-week study of the book of Exodus with a group of women. We could spend three times that long unearthing all the treasures this book contains, but by the time our study is done, we will remember the story of the Exodus each time redemption is preached from the pulpit.

We will be able to fill in the historical and theological context for any mention of Moses in a sermon. We will understand law and grace in a fuller way. We will remember how the ministry of Christ was shadowed clearly and repeatedly in the pages of Exodus, 1,500 years before His advent. The time we invest in learning Exodus from start to finish will enhance and amplify our ability to be nourished by the sermon.

Bible study and preaching should hold hands. Individually, they are each beneficial, but together their benefit magnifies. What about you? Will you fill yourself with sermon after sermon and call it done? Or will you allow the sermon to whet your appetite for deeper study, seeking out places for that to happen?

Were you a mediocre student in school? You can be a faithful one now. Begin by acknowledging that the sermon is not enough. Then find a class, a group, a study partner, a study guide to take you where the sermon is exhorting you to go-deeper, and deeper still.

Deeper, deeper, blessèd Holy Spirit,
Take me deeper still,
Till my life is wholly lost in Jesus,
And His perfect will.

O deeper yet, I pray,
And higher every day,
And wiser, blessèd Lord,
In Thy precious, holy Word

~Hymn by Charles P. Jones, 1900

If you enjoyed this post, you may want to read “Partially Hydrogenated Bible Study.”

Eight Reasons Many Churches Are Living in the 1980s

Nine out of ten churches in America are either declining, or they are growing so slowly they are not keeping up with the growth rate of the community in which they are located.

It’s a long sentence. Read it again carefully. Soak it in. Across America 90 percent of the churches are losing ground in their respective communities. Most of them are declining. Many of them will close.

As I have worked with thousands of churches over the past three decades, I have noticed something fascinating, yet disturbing, about many of these churches. They are still acting like it’s the 1980s. The world has passed them by. They are deemed irrelevant by members of their communities. They are frozen in a time warp.

Why has this tragedy fallen on so many churches? Though I don’t want to oversimplify the issue, I see at least eight reasons for this crisis.

  1. They are trying to shelter themselves from culture. In the 1980s, congregations were typically part of the mainstream culture. They were accepted in most places, and embraced in some. That is not the culture of today. Many church members use their churches as a getaway from the realities they don’t want to face.
  2. Programs were easy answers. The vast majority of churches in the 1980s were program-driven. If there was a perceived need, they would order a resource that best solved that need. Many churches today still think they can get quick fixes from programs.
  3. Churches largely catered to the needs of church members in the 1980s. We thus created a culture of membership that is me-driven. Many church members do not want to make the sacrifices necessary to reach our communities and culture today. They are demanding their own needs and preferences to be the priority of their churches.
  4. Change was more incremental. If your church is stuck in the 1980s, it does not have to worry about the rapid pace of change today. Members can pretend like their church does not need to change despite the massive upheavals of change in the world.
  5. Church growth was easier. In the 1980s, a number of people would visit our churches without much effort on the members’ part. One church member told me recently, “If lost people want to come to our church, they know where we are.” Sigh.
  6. Denominations provided solutions. Not all churches in the 1980s belonged to a denomination, but many did. And many members expected the denominational organizations to guide them and resource them. Denominations work best today in partnership with churches, but too many church members want to return to the paradigm of the 1980s.
  7. Others did evangelism for the members in the 1980s. Evangelism was the responsibility of the pastor or the denomination or a few people in a program. Church members paid others to do the work they were supposed to do. Some church members today are more concerned about their worship style preference than lost people who need to hear the gospel.
  8. Some churches would rather die than to get out of the comfort of their 1980’s paradigm. I feel certain they will do just that.

What do you think of these issues of time-warp churches? Let me hear from you.

P. S.—Today is the last day to register for Church Answers Monthly subscription. I am so excited to hear from leaders who are telling me this ministry is having such an incredible impact on their churches. One leader told me he wasn’t sure his church could afford the subscription. Now he tells me his church can’t afford not to have this resource. His church is moving from the 1980s to 2015!

The post Eight Reasons Many Churches Are Living in the 1980s appeared first on ThomRainer.com.

The War on Loneliness

As we’ve said before on BreakPoint, America has a growing heroin epidemic. And as tragic as this is, it is an opportunity for the Church to be the Church. Listen Now | Download

Three Reasons You Can’t Make a Deal with God

Most people today, Christian or not, think they’ll go to heaven when they die. They may not be sure about God’s existence, or about whether Jesus rose from the dead, or even if there is such a place as heaven. But the average American is relatively optimistic about his odds.

Very few of us, though, would admit that we’re cut out for heaven based on sheer goodness. Most of us think we’ll make the cut based on some deal we make with God. You know what I mean. God, get me this job and I promise I’ll be generous … Let this girl go out with me and I’ll go back to church … Get me a good grade on this test and I promise I’ll stop cussing. Deep down, we know we aren’t going to ever be perfect. So we hold out hope that God is willing to cut some deals. And if we give him the right amount of obedience, then he’ll reward us with heaven.

But there is no deal we can make ever with God. And here’s why:

1. We are all dead in our ability to please God.

When the Apostle Paul talked about our inability to “make deals” with God, he used an important case study—Abraham (Rom 4). God promised Abraham that he would be the “father of many nations” when he and his wife Sarah were nearly 100 years old. Both by virtue of age and by virtue of infertility, this couple was unable to have kids. As far as their lineage was concerned, they were dead.

We have just as much capacity to please God as an octogenarian does getting pregnant—that is, none.

We tend to think of ourselves as generally good people, who—if we tried just a bit harder—could probably get a passing grade on God’s final. But take a brief look at God’s measure of goodness, the 10 Commandments:

Commandment 1: You shall have no other gods before me. Do I love and cherish God more than anything else in my life? Is he the most valuable to me?

Commandment 2: You shall make no images of me. Am I satisfied with God as he is, or am I constantly wishing that I could make him into something else?

Commandment 3: Don’t take the Lord’s name in vain. Do I always treat God’s name with reverence? Have I ever said something about God that wasn’t true?

Commandment 4: Honor your parents. Am I always submissive to the authorities God has put in my life? My parents? The police? My boss?

That’s just the first 4. How are you doing so far? Be honest.

I don’t need to go through the other six to tell you how you and I would fare. Even the commandments that we might think we “pass” – like adultery – turn out to be failures when we consider that Jesus said our thoughts are as important as our actions. When I get to the end of that list, I’m 0 for 10. And when you’re 0 for 10 on the final exam, you aren’t passing the class.

Jesus said that unless our righteousness matched the righteousness of the Father, we could never enter heaven. Let’s stop deluding ourselves. We aren’t good enough. We’re dead.

2. We don’t have anything to offer to God.

The second big problem with cutting deals with God is the assumption that we have something he wants. We don’t.

Think about how foolish our negotiations must sound to God. “God, how about some extra prayers? How about some church attendance? What if I memorized some more Bible verses?” As if God is up in heaven rubbing his hands, saying, “Wait, really? You’ll go to church more? Now that’s an offer I can’t refuse! How lucky am I!”

We don’t have anything that can put God in our debt. There isn’t anything we have that he looks at longingly, just waiting for us to offer it to him because he lacks it. We’re talking about the Creator of the universe here. What could we possibly offer him that would force his hand?

Don’t get me wrong: God wants obedience from us. But obedience is never a bargaining chip that makes God “pay up.” If our obedience obligated God to give us anything, then the whole system of salvation would come undone. Which leads me to…

3. God alone will get the glory.

Perhaps the greatest verse in the entire Bible is Romans 4:5: “To the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited righteousness.” Credited. That means that our faith results in righteousness, but not because we earned it. It’s a gift that God gives us while we are still sinful. And he does that so that we’ll forever realize that salvation belongs to him alone.

If any of us were justified by our obedience, then we might have something to boast about. But God would never, ever let that happen. If he did, we’d be strutting around heaven, talking about all the great stuff we did to earn our spot there. But the book of Revelation says that everyone in heaven wears one name on their foreheads—not their own name, but the name of Jesus. It’s a reminder from here to eternity that it wasn’t our name that got us in; it was his.

So if you ask someone in heaven why they’re there, you’re going to get the same answer every time—Jesus. No one gets to heaven by amassing an awesome reputation. No one gets to God by being good enough. We get there by grace; and God gets the glory. The only kind of people who go to heaven are those who know they don’t belong there.

For more, be sure to listen to the entire message here.

Never Humble Enough

I pray sometimes that God will make me humble. But inevitably I soon find myself feeling proud for asking God such a noble thing. It’s pathetic really. Embarrassing. I believe in humility. I believe that humility is the king of all virtues. But the sheer goodness of humility makes it especially tricky to pursue and my deep depravity makes it impossible to master.

Humility does not come naturally to me. It does not come naturally to any of us. But I have gone looking for it. I have gone looking for it in God’s Word and I have gone looking for it in God’s people. I am convinced it can be learned, and that’s because humility is not a feeling or an attitude—it’s action. You learn humility by seeing humility and then doing humility. Here are four observations I have made about learning this virtue.

To learn to be humble, find godly people who display humility and spend time with them. Observe them. Learn from them. Learn to behave like them. Learn how God made them humble. God calls us to Christian community in part so we have living, breathing examples of virtue in action. Seek out the humble people in your church and in your life, and make them your teachers.

To learn to be humble, volunteer for the lowliest of tasks. Do not ask to be up-front and in the public eye; ask to be in the back where you serve out-of-mind and out-of-sight. Every pastor has people show up at his church to tell how they can transform that church if only they can have access to the pulpit and the people. But in almost every case, they could better serve and transform the church by joyfully doing the lowest jobs where they will be seen by only Jesus. Almost every one of us will make more of a mark on the world by changing diapers and taking out trash than by preaching great sermons or writing great songs. The people who serve at the front of the room ought to be those who have first proven themselves at the back.

To learn to be humble, serve until it hurts. Maybe that’s not the right phrase, because serving doesn’t hurt. Not really. But prepare yourself to serve freely, willingly, and uncomplainingly. Serve in those times when life is busy and serve in those times when life is simple. Serve in those times you feel like it and in those times you don’t. Serve in those positions in which you receive gratitude and serve in those positions in which no one thinks to say a word. Serve and then serve some more. Learn humility as a lifestyle.

To learn to be humble, get to know Jesus. Most of all, this. It was Jesus who said, “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Matthew 23:12). And it was Jesus who displayed that humility perfectly and completely. According to Jesus, you have the choice before you: Humble yourself, or be humbled. Lower yourself, or get lowered. If you elevate yourself, eventually you will get busted down. Why? Because God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. Know Jesus, and be like Jesus, the one man who perfectly exemplified the best of all virtues.

I am convinced that humility can be learned, and with God’s help I am determined to grow in it. I know that, until the day I go to be with Jesus, I will never be humble enough.

Check out


How I Work: An Interview with Trevin Wax | TGC
See if you can pick up a tip or two from this hyper-productive creative.

Is Agape a Mystical Magical Word that Means God’s Sacrificial Gracious Love? | Pyromaniacs
“We know about God’s love, not by reading a study bible or a word-study or a lexicon, but by studying passages using and illustrating the term’s meaning, such as Romans 5:6-8 or Ephesians 2:4.”

Four Convictions for Boldness from John Knox | GCD
Part of the Family History series: “We want to connect the church’s current efforts to make, mature, and multiply disciples to its historical roots as well as encourage the church to learn from her rich past.”

How to be a Gentleman Scholar: Classroom Etiquette for the College Man
“First, classroom etiquette facilitates a positive and constructive learning environment for everyone — you, your classmates, and your professor. Second, practicing good manners in the classroom is a good way of practicing the manners and social skills necessary to thrive as an adult and as a professional in the working world. In short, good etiquette in college can help you make the most out of your education.”

The Bait and Switch of Same-Sex Marriage | Desiring God
With many magistrates refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and many country clerks and justices of the peace resigning their positions, Nancy Peacrcey asks, “Is it going to become impossible for a Christian to hold public office in America?”

The Eight Kinds of Commenters in the Christian Blogosphere | First Things
Thankful that I don’t have any of these here at HeadHeartHand.

Kindle Books

The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists by Ravi Zacarias $1.99.

Running on Empty: The Gospel for Women in Ministry by Barbara Bancroft $1.99.

Reformed Means Missional: Following Jesus into the World by Sam Logan $2.51.

New Book

Redemption Accomplished and Applied by John Murray $9.99. New edition of a theological classic with a foreword by Carl Trueman. No Christian’s library is complete without this book. One of those books that should be read every year.


The Foundations Conference
sermonaudio.com are hosting a conference in Kings College, New York from 15-17 December 2015. Speakers include Steve Lawson, Conrad Mbewe, and Joel Beeke. More details here. You might want to turn down your volume before watching this video.

Links I like

Kindle deals for Christian readers

When can a child respond to the gospel?

Richard Matz:

Few issues weigh more heavily on Christian parents than the salvation of their children. For credobaptists this issue takes on a special significance as we hold to the idea that our children must be converted in order to become Christians.[1] As a result, credobaptist parents and churches often struggle with the question of when a child is ready for the Gospel. While the Bible does not provide a fully-developed treatment of child-development, a careful study of the Old Testament (OT) reveals several presuppositions about the nature of children which can be applied to questions regarding their readiness for the Gospel.

Oregon, We Are Not Numb — Or Hopeless

Camden McAfee:

Reporting on the President’s comments last night on the shooting, the New York Times reports, “With each massacre, his sense of powerless anger and frustration has built.” Left to our own devices, we will only end up distraught at our powerlessness. We were never meant to orchestrate history.

Job realized the sovereignty of God for himself when God began to question Job concerning the universe he was in. Every argument and logical explanation for Job’s suffering soon was eclipsed by the majesty of a God who knows the end from the beginning.

What “Orwellian” means

Very interesting tidbit:

HT: Tim

The Heart of Words

Burk Parsons:

Words are powerful. They transform lives and make history. They birth nations and topple empires. They make peace and fuel wars. They make covenants in marriage and wound those we most cherish. They change hearts and give news of eternal life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Words are foundational to everything we think, do, and say in all of life. Nevertheless, words are not ends in themselves. Words exist because God spoke them into existence that He might communicate with us. He spoke the world into existence and has graciously spoken to us in His sacred Word. When He created us in His image, He gave us the gift of speech in order that we might commune with Him in prayer, fellowship with one another, hear and preach the life-giving gospel, train our children in the way they should go, and open our lips that we might proclaim His praises.

The Great Commission Versus the Church Calendar

Dan Darling:

I’ll never forget the look of one faithful church member. It was that of ministry fatigue. We had just finished a series of weeklong ministry projects—a monumental undertaking at our church—and this lady was reflecting the exhaustion that our people felt. She didn’t say anything to me, but the combination of seeing her tired face and the words I’d just preached were used by God to speak powerfully to my soul. Perhaps the reason your people aren’t making disciples is because you have kept them too busy with church activities.

A La Carte (October 5)

Today’s Kindle deals include Finding Truth by Nancy Pearcey ($5.99); The Dating Manifesto by Lisa Anderson ($2.99); and What’s Best Next by Matt Perman ($3.99). I especially recommend Pearcey’s book if you haven’t yet gotten a copy.

Transgender Confusion and Transformational Christianity

This year’s ACBC conference gets underway today and you can stream all of the plenary sessions. The theme of the event is Transgender Confusion and Transformational Christianity.

Lenny’s Garage

I always enjoy seeing interesting people in action. Like Lenny. “Lenny Shiller is a lifelong Brooklyn resident and classic car collector. He has amassed a staggering 58 rare classic cars, while he also owns hundreds of vintage bikes, motorcycles, and memorabilia.”

Thoughts on Note-Taking During Sermons

I appreciate Jared Wilson’s measured thoughts on taking notes while listening to a sermon.

Don’t Panic

This article tells why you shouldn’t panic about new technologies, and how people have been getting it wrong all the way back to Gutenberg.

Are Apple Stores the New Temples?

We used to have temples. “Nowadays, we have Apple Release Day—the Feast of St. Jobs—when faithful customers gather outside Apple stores and await the renewal of a next generation iPhone.”

MachowskiNow Available for Pre-Order. New Growth Press is about to publish another book with Marty Machowski. This book is a systematic theology for kids in the form of “a story of adventure, mystery, and wonder that leads them to the truth about God, themselves, and the world around them.” You can now pre-order it.

The Bithynian Option

Paul Carter has a long and fascinating article about Christians and cultural engagement. He critiques some of the prevailing views and offers an alternative. It’s a long but worthwhile read.

When Can A Child Respond to the Gospel?

“Few issues weigh more heavily on Christian parents than the salvation of their children. For credobaptists this issue takes on a special significance as we hold to the idea that our children must be converted in order to become Christians.”

The Daily Discovery (October 5, 2015)

(Click title to go to full article)

What Does it Mean to Abide in Christ? – “The exhortation to “abide” has been frequently misunderstood, as though it were a special, mystical, and indefinable experience. But Jesus makes clear that it actually involves a number of concrete realities.”

Never Humble Enough – “I pray sometimes that God will make me humble. But inevitably I soon find myself feeling proud for asking God such a noble thing. It’s pathetic really. Embarrassing. I believe in humility. I believe that humility is the king of all virtues. But the sheer goodness of humility makes it especially tricky to pursue and my deep depravity makes it impossible to master.”

Frozen: keeping your life on ice – “Larry King is getting cold feet about dying. The iconic interviewer has a reputation that is larger than life, but is fixated on his own death.  In the New York Times article titled, ‘Larry King prepares for final cancellation,’ Mark Liebovich reported that King told the journalist he was avoiding death by taking four human growth hormone pills every day, but that in case of death, has arranged to have his whole body put on ice pending the discovery for a cure for whatever killed him.”

Home Alone: The Lies That Tie Us to Our Phone – “One of the most common conflicts in homes today is triggered by a smartphone. Someone in most homes has cultivated the habit of disconnecting from others in the room and constantly checking his phone. In fact, if you’re around long enough, it feels less like a habit and more like a right or basic need — air, food, sleep, and Facebook.”

Douglas Wilson Digs In – “You should see my in-box and Twitter feed. I have so many impassioned e-mails from partisans on both sides of the Doug Wilson situation, demanding that I either abandon any criticism of him, or demanding that I ramp up criticism. I even blocked one anti-Wilsonite who was haranguing me with multiple tweets calling me to account for failing to blast Wilson even harder. Sorry to disappoint, but I don’t want to get dragged into an extremely bitter fight that has way, way more layers than I am capable of understanding from this far away. Some people I know and admire know and admire Wilson; others I know and admire do not. As a general rule, I will only comment on what information is publicly available and that I judge reliable, or what Pastor Wilson himself says. Because he mentioned me in a couple of recent comments, I’ll respond to what he has written.”



Nate Pickowicz – Abiding in the Vine – Part 2 (John 15:6-11)


Calvinism in a Nutshell

To ALL Mormons and Jehovas Witnesses from Christians

“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 – Monday, October 5, 2015


Top Headlines

Coptic Christians in Hiding from Muslims

‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Stamp Goes on Sale

Divers Begin Construction on World’s First Underwater Church

Are Homeschooled Children More Religious?

Oregon College Shooter Specifically Targeted Christians

Pastor Saeed’s Parents Break Down in Tears after Seeing Trauma He Endures

Annual Day of Prayer for Jerusalem this Sunday

Benjamin Netanyahu Harshly Criticizes Iran Nuclear Deal in Speech

Christians in Syria Struggle to Survive amid Terrors

Former Yazidi Sex Slave Says She was ‘Owned’ by American ISIS Leader


It’s Time for Evangelicals to Speak up for Animals

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10/05/15 The Need to Withdraw

READING: Matthew 4, Luke 4-5, John 1:15-51

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  I wish I prayed like Jesus prayed. He simply got alone with the Father, spending time in fellowship with Him (Luke 4:42, cf. Mark 1:35). The prayer text in today’s reading that most grabs me, though, is Luke 5:15-16 — “But the news about Him spread even more, and large crowds would come together to hear Him and to be healed of their sicknesses. Yet He often withdrew to deserted places and prayed.”

The crowds came to Jesus. They wanted to hear Him preach. They brought their sick to Him. He had the power to heal them. He had come to earth because He loved these very people gathering by the numbers around Him — and still He pushed away from the crowds, withdrew, and spent time with the Father.

I really do wish I prayed this way.  My fear is, though, that if the crowds gathered to hear me preach and brought their sick to me (that is, if I had the ability to heal them), I would do ministry first and then pray if I had leftover time and energy. That’s backwards, of course.

And, it explains one reason why sometimes I wear out in the work of the Lord.

Maybe it explains something for you, too.

ACTION STEPS:  Find time today to get alone with God, even if it means withdrawing from the crowds, the meetings, and the work.

PRAYER: “God, I’m guilty of doing first and praying later. Forgive me. Change me.”

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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