Eight Reasons Many Churches Are Living in the 1980s
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.
Websites of Most Individual Protestant Churches Cannot Be Located Through Denominational Website
Most Protestant denominations have a website that includes a function to help users find a local church. But denominations provide accurate links to the websites of only 32% of all local churches, even though three out of four churches have their own website. Much of the information on denominational websites about member churches is simply missing or wrong, according to a new report from Grey Matter Research.
Why Do We Not Save Christians?
Today, Christians are under special threat in the Middle East. The possibility that Christian refugees will be able to go home and reconstruct their communities and lead normal lives is far lower than are the chances for their Muslim neighbors. The level of continuing discrimination and physical threat against them is high, and in Syria and Iraq they will always constitute tiny and powerless groups.
Thoughts on Note-Taking During Sermons
Ditching the note-taking preaching ethos both elevates sermons and properly diminishes them. It treats a sermon as proclamation aided by the Spirit, which gives the sermon a supernatural weight. On the other hand, by treating all words in a sermon as expendable to memory, it puts the preacher’s words in the right place compared to the Scripture’s words. It diminishes the impact of a well-turned phrase and magnifies real revelation.
I Was Rebuked Without A Word
Then everything changed. As the song ended and we were about to take our seats, and incidental to him sitting down turned slightly. His eyes were full of tears and his smile was full. I was gutted. I saw the man that I wanted to be; humble, free, focused, and full of delight in God.
Speaking The Truth In Love: Five Deceptive Myths
Obviously truth spoken in love is to be done thoughtfully, timely and with words carefully chosen, while creating an environment of love for effective communication. If a doctor knows you have a terminal condition and loves you he will not be silent. He will thoughtfully tell you the truth. Likely he will take you aside in a private room providing an appropriate environment. Then he will tell you the truth in love and he will love you with the truth. While we are not doctors, we are physicians for the soul.
Saving Souls Takes Toll On Pastors’ Health
Some of the results may surprise even devout churchgoers: 54 percent of pastors find their jobs frequently overwhelming, and 48 percent often feel the demands of ministry are more than they can handle. So while about half are overwhelmed and wonder if they should quit, another part of the study showed only 13 percent of senior pastors left their posts over the past 10 years for reasons other than death or retirement.
The End of Homiletics?
Preachers who want to be interesting want to be interesting because they were taught that interesting is the summum bonum of Christian preaching. They weren’t told that, of course. Instructors in homiletics are not crass people, and they don’t teach people to be self-aggrandizing performers. Homiletics taught that by accident because, if homiletics is true to itself as a discipline, it must teach that. So preachers who want to be interesting, will often preach sermons they can’t preach instead of the ones that they could have. And the sermons they might have preached instead would have nourished their people.
3 Things to Do When Church is a Burden
With the added commitments that church life brings, many active, committed Christians are drowning. What can we do?
God Among Our Brokenness—Does He Even Care?
“Over the course of my life, I’ll be honest in saying I’ve found myself furious at God on multiple occasions.”
The Fatal Mistake of Senior Pastors Who Don’t Like Preaching About Hell
“I’m troubled by the lack of talk about, writing about, preaching about, and deeply held conviction regarding the reality of hell by pastors today.”
Praying for a Breakthrough
“The consistent pattern throughout the Bible is that every significant move of God is preceded by a season of increasingly difficult, discouraging opposition.”
Why are Christians So Ignorant about Their Faith?
We must work diligently to preserve Christian doctrine because heresy can so easily pollute our thinking, which will ultimately affect how we live out our faith and how we view God.
Obama’s Religious Freedom Actions Questioned
The co-chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus wants to know why President Barack Obama’s actions don’t match his words when it comes to promoting religious freedom.
Why Gospel for Asia Got Kicked Out of the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability
One of the world’s largest missions agencies denies wrongdoing and vows to improve.
Kerry questioned about religious freedom post
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY | State Department ignores congressional mandate, demotes religious freedom diplomats
A Warning To The World
Time is short. The Bible has hundreds of prophecies – many of which have already been fulfilled. But the prophecies in Revelation, Daniel and other places in the Word have yet to be fulfilled.
There is a time coming called the Tribulation. The Bible says that the horrific things that will happen in the world have never happened before, and will never happen again. The Church (of which I am a part) will be taken to heaven by Jesus Himself and then the Tribulation will begin.
Electromagnetic Pulse: One Day We Will Wake Up In An America Without Electricity And Society Will Totally Break Down
What would you do if the power grid went down and never came back up? One of these days, and it could be a lot sooner than most people think, we will all wake up in a country without electricity. And considering how utterly dependent we have become on technology, that is a very frightening scenario to consider. How would Americans react if nothing worked?
Rush Limbaugh Is Right: Ted Cruz Is Most-Principled Candidate
It seems to me the only principled reason to be a Republican would be to stop, thwart and defeat Leftist ideas you’re opposed to. Therefore, what better standard by which to judge Republican presidential candidates than by who is the most committed to actually defeating the opposition?
WVW-TV Presents: Mohammed, His Wives, His Visit From A Spirit, & The Rise of a False Prophet with Usama Dakdok
Do You Know The Answers to These Questions That Impact Your Future, that of Your Family, The Church, and Coming World Events?
WVW-TV Presents: The Hallmarks of a True Convert Versus a False Convert with Host Mike Gendron
When the Devil Points a Gun at You
By now we’ve all heard of Chris Harper Mercer, the man who killed ten people on the campus of Umpqua Community College. Can you imagine the despair in the room? Put yourself in the shoes of the students in that classroom as they watched their teacher drop. As the gunman shouted to the Christians to make themselves known! What would you do?
Gaining The Kingdom
I’m preparing to preach 2 Samuel to my congregation, and I’m breaking it up into two sections. This year I’ll preach from 2 Samuel 1-14, and next year I’ll finish the book (dv). This is my letter to the congregation introducing 2 Samuel 1-14: David’s life was truly one of hardship. For forty years he ran for his life by running from Saul. Now with Saul dead, the kingdom is his and he gladly received it. Although he fled from Israel’s king, he never fled from being the king of Israel. But securing the crown did not secure his safety. In fact, the trials he experienced as king (2 Samuel) far-and-away exceeded all of those he had while hiding in caves (1 Samuel).
No Compromise Radio with Mike Abendroth:
Jesus meet Mr Self Righteous (Part 2) Mike continues to examines the most popular chapter in all the Bible: John 3: Open in Logos Bible Software (if available). Listen to John’s description of Jesus preaching the truth to the teacher in Israel. A modern day way of think would go like this: what would Jesus say to the Pope of Roman. Tune in to learn some very important counter intuitive truths.
Why Evangelicals & Catholics Cannot Be Together
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.
Proclaiming The Gospel Radio with Mike Gendron
Mike Gendron has added one more week to his teaching on the Bread of Life Discourse from the book of John. So grab your Bible and join us as we finish this important study and use the truth found in the Word of God to refute the false teaching of the Church of Rome and transubstantiation.
Encounter God’s Truth with Dr. John Whitcomb:
We go deeper into Biblical Apologetics today on Encounter Gods Truth with Dr. John Whitcomb. This is Part One of a message on Evolutionary Difficulties. In it we tackle challenging questions like these: Since evolution is not true, why is it so difficult to convince unbelievers regarding the Bibles account of creation? And why do so many Christians even seem unwilling to agree on the Biblical position? Also, how are we as Christians to go about seeking to bring ardent unbelievers to the Lord? Or to strengthen struggling believers? Whitcomb Ministries expresses appreciation to Appalachian Bible College in Mount Hope, West Virginia, for allowing us to bring you this conference audio. Wayne Shepherd, our host, sets the context for this important and timely lesson that is intended to help us effectively communicate that Gods Word is true from the beginning to the end. We encourage you to share this broadcast with others.
Search the Scriptures with T.A. McMahon:
Is Pope Francis Really the Vicar of Christ? with Greg Durel (Part 1)
Immanuel with Jesse Johnson:
Swords and Stones Can Break Your Bones (I Samuel 17)
Women with the Master with Susan Heck:
June 26, 2015 will go down in history as a monumental event. The Supreme Court of the United States of America voted to allow couples of the same sex to get married. Men are now able to marry men; women are now able to marry women. The decision for our country was decided by two men and three women. The ruling is shocking and grieving and we as kingdom citizens are asking many questions, one being, How did we get here in our culture? Some of us will answer that question by acknowledging that God is Sovereign and He has a plan beyond our understanding. Even though this is a true answer, will we as reformed believers use that as a cloak for our lackadaisical Christianity? Have we failed in being salt and light in a world that is filled with darkness and becoming more evil? We as Christians are in the world even though we are not to be of the world but we are failing to make an impact on our world. Christ left us here to go and make disciples and to be His representatives, and we do that in two ways according to the text in Matthew 5:13-16, that is by being salt and light. In this lesson we will consider the Christian’s two fold impact on the world along with our failure to impact the world and its result along with our faithfulness to impact the world and its result.
The Origin of Humans: In this session Mike covers 4 topics: The Bible makes it clear that God did not make ape-man. Two misconceptions commonly found in textbooks that are used to support human evolution. Some of the famous characters that have been used in textbooks to promote evolution. Piltdown man Nebraska man Ramapithicus Lucy Neanderthals Four ways to make an ape-man.
Steel on Steel with John Loeffler:
Susan Warner joined John to examine the fallout from the UN sustainable development conference and shows that Agenda 2030, Pope Franciss statements to difference groups, geopolitics in the Middle East, and the future of the United States are all connected. When one right or law trumps another, which one do we obey? Frank Wolf (www.21wilberforce.org), former U.S. Congressman and Senior Fellow of the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, discusses the battle between religious freedom and the politically correct narrative of the day. The church is hunkering down, hoping the storm will pass. Moral decline has resulted, and with increased persecution imminent, the Christian church needs to speak out in favor of religious freedom before its too late.
Jim Schneider interviewed Rich Christiano about his new film, “A Matter of Faith”. “A Christian girl goes off to college for her freshman year and begins to be influenced by her popular Biology professor who teaches that evolution is the answer to the origins of life. When her father suspects something happening, he begins to examine the situation and what he discovers completely catches him off guard. Now very concerned about his daughter drifting away from the faith, he tries to do something about it.”
Justin Peters Program:
There was a mix-up on the last two programs of God’s Decree. Some have emailed saying they missed part 1 and some have emailed saying that they missed part 2. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience. Given that both of these programs are important and each program in this series serves as a building block for the next, I have decided to combine both programs into one. This program contains both part 1 and part 2. Part 1 ends and part 2 begins at the 27 minute 14 second mark. Next week we will look at God’s incommunicable attribute of Spirituality.
Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer:
When facing severe trials, we ask why? We may never know the answer, but for a suffering Job, the answer was dramatic. Gods voice spoke from out of a whirlwind. We may not receive as dramatic of an answer, but can we trust His heart even when we cant understand His actions?
Truth About Islam with Usama Dakdok
Job (Program #2)
Prophecy Today Radio with Dr. Jimmy DeYoung
The medievals had a saying: the law of praying is the law of believing (lex orandi, lex credendi). By it they meant to say that what we do in worship affects our theology. If you want to change the theology of the future change the liturgy today. Church history bears witness to the truth of this […]
86. Since then we are redeemed from our misery by grace through Christ, without any merit of ours, why should we do good works? Because Christ, having redeemed us by His blood, also renews us by His Holy Spirit after His own image, that with our whole life we show ourselves thankful to God for […]
In this post Elizabeth Prada of The End Times Prophecy deals with America’s love affair with “self.” We’ve become so enamored with self that our cellphones are used to take “selfies” that we post on Instagram, Facebook, send to friends, family and perfect strangers. Even professing Christians, who should know better, are caught up […]
Pope’s U.S. visit was PR bonanza for Catholic Church
Christian Examiner reports:
A new survey from the Pew Research Center, conducted after the visit of Pope Francis to the United States in September, shows the Catholic leader was instrumental in giving Americans a more positive image of the Catholic Church.
According to Pew, Francis helped generate “good will” among most Americans, and even among “ideological liberals and moderates, along with Democrats.”
Vatican Considers Ordaining Female Deacons
According to Christian Headlines:
The most controversial proposal floated so far at the high-level, high-stakes Vatican summit on church teachings on the family had nothing to do with gays or divorce, but instead ordaining women — not as priests, but as deacons.
Still, even that suggestion — made by a Canadian archbishop on Tuesday (Oct. 6), near the start of the closely watched, three-week synod called by Pope Francis — was considered eye-popping.
I’m Not Ashamed is the true story of Rachel Joy Scott and the Columbine Story.
Rachel was the first victim in the 1999 Columbine. She was killed for her faith, but her story and her impact lives on. Her dad began Rachel’s Challenge to honor her legacy of kindness and reaching out to those who are different, picked on or new at school.
Masey McLain plays Rachel Scott in the film which reveals the story behind the story. The film releases on the anniversary of Columbine on April 20, 2016.
The post “I’m Not Ashamed” — The True Story of Rachel Joy Scott and Columbine appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
Bring Your Bible to School Day was launched last year by Focus on the Family. The goal is to encourage students from kindergarten to college to “express their faith freely.”
Last year on October 8, 2014, 8,000 students participated in bringing their Bibles to school to be part of the movement and to share their faith.
Today, 100,000 students are expected to participate. Here are some photos students are sharing for #BringYourBible. Let’s pray for these students and cheer them on in their faith!
— Kai J (@KaiKaijim) October 8, 2015
— David Sargent (@PastorSarge) October 8, 2015
— Kimberly Brown (@kdmbrown) October 8, 2015
— Niki Warren (@WarrenNiki) October 8, 2015
— Acadiana’sThriftyMom (@acadianathrifty) October 8, 2015
— Focus on the Family (@FocusFamily) October 8, 2015
The post Students Nationwide are Tweeting Pictures with Their Bibles for the Coolest Reason appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
All of us have major problems with our theology.
And the sooner we recognize that our theology is not perfect, the better off we’ll be.
Of course, the trick is knowing where you theology is wrong.
Though I am certain I have problems in my theology right now, I do not know what these problems might be. If I knew, I would change my views.
This is why it is important to always be talking with others, reading the ideas of others, and thinking about theology and how it relates to life.
As a result of my own theological study and research, a lot of my theology has changed over the past fifteen years. Below are five of the main mistakes I made in my theology when I was a pastor.
1. I expected everyone to study the Bible and read theology.
Since I love to study Scripture and read theology, I believed and taught that every Christian should do the same.
I saw how much spiritual benefit I received from reading and studying Scripture and theology, and I assumed that everyone else would get just as much benefit from these practices as I had.
I also believed that people could not really come to know God unless they diligently studied Scripture and read widely from theology.
Looking back now, I see how wrong I was.
I now see that God has made Himself known to little children and to those who may never crack open a book of theology or read a chapter from the Pentateuch. I have encountered people who know more about God and how He works than I have ever hoped to know of God, and they have never read the Bible all the way through, nor do they even know what the word “theology” means.
I have now come to see that I enjoy reading and studying theology because this is partly why God put me on planet earth. I have gifts, talents, and abilities in the realm of Bible study and theology. But not everyone has these same gifts, and therefore, not everyone has these same interests.
Therefore, not everyone needs to read the Bible or study theology. And even when they don’t many of them will have a better knowledge and understanding of God than I ever will.
2. I took theology and Bible knowledge way too seriously.
I used to think that theology was a serious subject, which required sound thinking, sober minds, and no laughter or joy. I have since found that this is a common disease among theologians.
We tend to think that since we are “talking about God,” we must do so with all seriousness.
Now, however, I sometimes think that God gets just as bored with our serious theological discussions as would anyone else (except theologians). Furthermore, God does not really care for how seriously we take the words that come out of our mouth.
I now believe that we all need to lighten up about our theology.
I sometimes imagine there is a “Comedy Hour” in heaven where God and the angels read through all the things we Christian theologians preach and teach and write about. As I wrote a while back, in talking about God, we are like an oyster on the bottom of the sea trying to philosophize about ballerina knees.
I am not saying that our theology needs to be full of hilarious jokes and creatively told insights and stories. No. Just because Jesus told stories, this does not mean we should as well.
Instead, what it means is that we need to take ourselves less seriously. I need to take myself less seriously.
I know that just as much of what I believed in the past turned out to be seriously wrong, so also, much of what I believe right now might turn out to be wrong as well.
So I do my best. I study hard. But I hold my conclusions lightly.
And when I get a chance, I laugh. I laugh at Christianity. I laugh at church. I laugh at myself. Why? Because theology needs more laughter.
3. I thought that truth trumped love
While I always tried to be loving in what I said and did, as I read back through some of my old sermons, I find that I often erred in being so focused on truth, that I was not very loving.
I believed that the foundation for love was truth. And so while Paul instructed the Ephesians to find the balance between truth and love (Eph 4:15), I believed that the most important thing was truth. After all, I thought, it is never loving to withhold the truth.
I thought that it was preferable to speak the truth, even if it hurt, than to withhold the truth in the name of love.
I understand my logic, but I think that I often used such logic to say unloving things and treat people in unloving ways.
Today, while I do not condone falsehoods or lying, I try to err more on the side of love. I have discovered that some truth simply aren’t worth saying.
Besides, I have a view of truth which helps me see truth in almost everything.
I have noticed as well that Jesus wasn’t much of a stickler for orthodoxy. He was more than willing to contradict traditional theology to extend love. I try to follow His example and let my personal theology go out the window if doing so will help me love someone else.
4. I believed truly dedicated Christians regularly attended church
I still remember how I viewed the people in my church who only attended our Sunday morning service. I was grateful they came, but I knew, deep down in my heart, that if they were really devoted to following Jesus, they would also come to Sunday school, the Sunday evening service, the Wednesday evening Bible study, and the Saturday morning prayer meeting.
At least they came to the Sunday morning service though.
Which was more than could be said for the “so-called” Christians in town who didn’t attend any church at all!
There were several families I was aware of who said that they were following Jesus, but didn’t attend any church. I remember thinking how sad it was that they could be so deluded and deceived. After all, nobody could truly follow Jesus if they didn’t attend church!
I now realize how wrong I was.
Some of the greatest followers of Jesus I have met over the past fifteen years have not “attended church” in decades. I have now come to see that while church attendance is helpful and beneficial for a good many Christians, it is unhelpful and damaging for a good many more.
This does not mean that those who do not “attend church” are not part of the church; they are. In fact, it may be that many of those who do not attend church might be more active in the church than those who do attend.
Church, after all, is not the event that takes place in a brick building on Sunday morning, but is the people of God who follow Jesus into the world (See my book, Skeleton Church).
Following Jesus and being the church is not about sitting in a pew on Sunday morning (though for many it might include that), but is about being Jesus in the world.
5. I believed the goal of the Christian life was to get rid of sin.
To put it another way, I believed that God was in the sin management business. I believed that God was looking down on planet earth, wringing His hands in frustration (and even anger) at how bad we had messed things up.
I believed that the reason God gave us Scripture, and the reason God sent Jesus to this earth, was to tells us how to live “right.” I believed that God’s primary goal for our lives was to get us to stop sinning.
Today, I don’t believe God is nearly as concerned about sin as we are. I believe that sin is just not that big of an issue for God. If there is something God is concerned about, it is religion, which presents an ugly portrait of God to people and tells us to worship this ugly portrait “or else.”
And while sin is destructive and hurtful, I think that God would rather have us sin a little than live smug religious lives of self-righteous arrogance.
Bonus Item: 6. I believed that God was violent.
I used to teach that everything the Bible says God did is in fact what God actually did.
While I still hold to the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture, I now view things a little bit differently (I have a book coming out soon which explains more).
I no longer believe God is violent in any way, shape, or form. I do not believe God engages in violence or commands His people to do so. I believe that, if Jesus reveals God to us, then God is, by definition, non-violent.
This understanding, of course, has made me rethink a lot of other areas about theology, including how I read Scripture, but this entire topic is too huge to summarize in this post (which is already too long).
So those are some of the theological mistakes I made as a pastor. I imagine I am making more mistakes right now, but time will tell what those are.
The first misconception is that God’s wrath is cruel. Too many people associate God’s wrath with human anger which, indeed, is often arbitrary and mean. The truth is that God’s wrath is always the wrath of God as Judge. Thus, God’s wrath is always a measured, just, judicial wrath.
According to J.I. Packer, “the explicit presupposition of all that we find in the Bible … on the torments of those who experience the fullness of God’s wrath is that each receives precisely what he deserves. ‘The day of God’s wrath’, Paul tells us, is also the day ‘when his righteous judgment will be revealed.’ And in that day ‘God will give to each person according to what he has done’ (Romans 2:5ff).” Just as our justice systems dole out punishments fitting for particular crimes, Jesus himself taught that God’s retribution will be proportionate to the individual and his offense (see Luke 12:47ff) .
Of course that is precisely why God’s wrath is so fearsome. No one will suffer beyond what he deserves. But what he deserves is unspeakably terrible. “If it is asked: can disobedience to our Creator really deserve great and grievous punishment? anyone who has ever been convicted of sin knows beyond any shadow of doubt that the answer is yes, and knows too that those whose consciences have not yet been awaked to consider, as Anselm put it, ‘how weighty sin is’ are not yet qualified to give an opinion.” God will serve as Judge and will judge justly.
The second misconception is that God’s wrath is something God inflicts upon ignorant, innocent people. This misconception teaches that God inflicts hell upon people who would have chosen God if only they had the option or the appropriate understanding. But
God’s wrath in the Bible is something which people choose for themselves. Before hell is an experience inflicted by God, it is a state for which a person himself opts, by retreating from the light which God shines in his heart to lead him to himself. … The decisive act of judgment upon the lost is the judgment which they pass upon themselves, by rejecting the light that comes to them in and through Jesus Christ. In the last analysis, all that God does subsequently in judicial action towards the unbeliever, whether in this life or beyond it, is to show him, and lead him into, the full implications of the choice he has made.
Packer goes on to say, “Nobody stands under the wrath of God save those who have chosen to do so. The essence of God’s action in wrath is to give people what they choose in all its implications: nothing more, and equally nothing less. God’s readiness to respect human choice to this extent may appear disconcerting and even terrifying, but it is plain that his attitude here is supremely just, and poles apart from the wanton and irresponsible inflicting of pain which is what we mean by cruelty.” And then he provides this memorable line: “What God is hereby doing is no more than to ratify and confirm judgments which those whom he ‘visits’ have already passed on themselves by the course they have chosen to follow.”
God is not cruel in his wrath. He is not arbitrary. And his wrath will never extend to the ignorant or innocent. He will apportion his wrath with perfect fairness upon those who have chosen to face it.
“How are you doing?”
It’s a pet peeve of mine — that I’m also guilty of — when those words are used as a greeting rather than as a question. It’s easy to say, “How are you doing?” without actually wanting a substantive answer. Sometimes people will ask me that without even breaking stride as they pass me by. The only appropriate, or even physically possible, answer becomes “Oh, fine” or “Good!” — even if things may not be so. This type of shallow greeting embodies a lot of our everyday interactions. We often hum along the surface in relationships but rarely plunge beneath to the real state of our hearts.
Community: A Place for Reality
Christian community should be one of the places where people can actually be vulnerable. Gathering with fellow Christians should be one of the few times where we don’t hide the realities of life. To be vulnerable may mean to be honest about sin, or brokenness, or weakness, or just the general mess of life. Vulnerability encompasses guilt from the past, low-level anxiety, loneliness, sadness, or a general lack of joy or satisfaction. Some may be doubting God, feeling overwhelmed or inadequate as a Christian, husband, wife, parent, or employee.
There’s a danger when Christians are expected to be open and honest, but are not. If someone opens up about an issue, and others respond with flippant attitudes, Christian clichés, total silence, shock and disgust, or perhaps even indifference, this discourages and even prevents openness. It communicates to the one who shared, as well as to the others in the group, that what was shared is unimportant. Others will remember this experience and never share anything vulnerable about themselves. When Christians fail to respond well to tender moments it stunts friendships and ministry, and it leads to nice, but superficial relationships.
What Is Redemptive Vulnerability?
So what is redemptive vulnerability? To be vulnerable is to be susceptible to being wounded or hurt. In the context of community, vulnerability is opening up about one’s humanity. It’s to admit that we are not perfect people. We have not arrived. We are broken, unfinished people who live in a world that itself is broken because of the fall. We experience depression, burn out, cancer, sadness, death, grief, disability, disease, relational strife, loneliness, lust, anxiety, and the list goes on.
But our story doesn’t need to end with brokenness. Redemptive vulnerability — a vulnerability that leads to life — is where we share our brokenness in order to display the surpassing power and sufficiency of Christ and the gospel, which transforms us increasingly into the likeness of Christ. Vulnerability is not an end in itself. Rather, our vulnerability should point us, individually and together with other believers, to the sufficiency of Jesus. It looks at and hopes in the redemption we have in Christ Jesus and the work of the cross.
God Uses Weak People for His Best Work
Paul calls the Corinthians to remember that they were not the cultural elite, the politically powerful, or the materially rich, but rather the foolish, weak, low, and despised (1 Corinthians 1:26–31). The principle at work here is that God intentionally uses weak things to accomplish his glorious purposes. The reason God does it this way is so that “no human being might boast in the presence of God” (1 Corinthians 1:29). God alone is to get the glory.
God doesn’t need the powerful, influential, or the cultural movers and shakers to accomplish his work. God actually goes out of his way to give disproportionate impact to the weak, humble, and foolish so that Christ receives all the glory. God intentionally uses weak people to do his best work. When we recognize that we are weak people, we can stop trying to keep up a façade and instead look to the sufficiency and goodness of our God that brings redemption, healing, and comfort to our struggles.
Bringing Redemption to Our Vulnerability
Recently, a friend shared that their small group — in one year — had walked through the death of a parent, a felony crime, drug-related charges, psychological issues, same-sex attraction, marital discord, job transition, and disability. Yet they weren’t stalled on any one of those issues. They prayed, studied God’s word, supported each other, and reminded one another of who God is and what he has done. They didn’t become a self-help group. They didn’t just listen and lament. They listened, and then they looked to God together. They let the truths and promises of Scripture fill their hearts and minds as they walked through those challenging situations and circumstances.
To bring redemption to our vulnerability means we open up not to wallow in our situation, but to lift our eyes together to God in hope. We can look together at his promises. We cry out together for comfort, wisdom, help, and faith. We listen to one another, and to labor together in prayer because sometimes we’re too feeble to pray alone. Weakness and vulnerability remind us that we are dependent and God is sufficient. God loves to meet us in our moments of need and to give us more of his grace as we seek it moment by moment, especially with others.
No Quick Fixes
How this plays out in our individual communities and relationships will require wisdom. It’s not simple or clear-cut. We walk with each other through hard things that may not have tidy conclusions or ever end this side of heaven. We don’t apply the gospel like someone putting a Band-Aid on cancer. Instead, we let the truth of the gospel and the power of the indwelling Spirit fill our bodies like chemotherapy drugs that enter into our spiritual bloodstream. There are rarely quick fixes or simple solutions for life’s problems, but we can look to a powerful, merciful, loving, and sufficient Father who has loved us thoroughly through his Son at Calvary.
Redemptive vulnerability does not put a spotlight on vulnerability, brokenness, or sin. Redemptive vulnerability highlights and magnifies how good, sufficient, kind, persistent, and gracious God is. It’s his grace that makes us aware of our need for him. It’s his grace that causes us to cry out in dependence, to turn away from sin, and to remind us of his love.
We can embrace our varied weaknesses in order that God’s power might be displayed. It’s the reminder we all need daily. God is sufficient. God is good. God loves you. And Jesus Christ will never leave you nor forsake you. No matter how weak or vulnerable we may be, we can look to Christ, whose grace is sufficient for us and made perfect in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I love evangelism. It’s constantly on my mind. It is impossible to see a human and not think about where they will spend eternity. It brings joy to my heart when people tell me about their gospel conversations. I love watching evangelistic encounters on YouTube and seeing the way that others do evangelism. It is because of all these things that when I see someone misrepresent Christ that my heart is troubled. The Gospel message is already offensive enough.
And because of all these reasons I haven’t been this disgusted by something I’ve seen done by “street preachers” since I got to see Westboro Baptist face to face. In a video entitled “Street Preacher Invades Starbucks” (I don’t recommend watching it since it is filled with profanity) a group of men “invade” a Starbucks and then start following and screaming “repent” to a few pedestrians. As the scene got more intense, a lady said some words that should have stopped them in their tracks.
I would rather go to hell than be with you!
Instead of being proud of this encounter, to the point of posting it as an example of proper evangelism on YouTube, they should have been ashamed.
“I would rather go to Hell than be with you”, are not some words that I ever want someone to say to me. And although Westboro and heretical “street preachers” are extreme examples, I think we are all tempted to sin during evangelistic encounters. So here are some marks of an evangelist who seeks to represent his Savior in a way that would please Him.
This isn’t the love we see in the post-modern world, where tolerance is the idea that anyone can believe whatever they want as long as they don’t claim absolute truth. That is like watching someone run towards a cliff and cheering them on as they die. Love is an intense desire for people’s salvation, one that deeply affects the preacher. We see this in Romans 9 when Paul says that if he could he would die and go to hell for the sake of the Israelites. When you love someone this way it changes the way you talk. It changes the way you treat those around you and it affects the rest of these qualities we will see in the evangelist. It all has to begin with love or we’ll be misrepresenting the incredibly loving God of the Bible.
Paul says several times in his writing that we should be gentle. In 2 Timothy 2:25 he says that we are to correct people with gentleness. This is a tender, calm voice. This is the same voice that can turn away wrath (proverbs 15:1). It is fascinating to see that in action. I have seen so many people begin antagonistic and become eager to listen, in response to gentle and sincere words. Except for in rare circumstances, an evangelistic encounter should never end with the evangelized angry at the evangelist because of the way that he sounded, rather if they are angry it should be at the message.
There is a way to be tender and calm and yet still be passionate. You can tell in someone’s voice when they are being sincere. You can also tell in someone’s voice when they care about the people they are talking to. It’s not enough to just convey truth. When we approach people with passion, people listen because they know that whatever you are saying has truly had an impact in your life. If you lack passion in your evangelism, here are 3 Ways to Intensify Your Motivation for Evangelism.
Don’t let your sin keep you from Heaven! Death is right around the corner, you’re not guaranteed another day! I beg you to come to Christ today! Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:2 shows us yet again how persuasion should play a part in how we talk to people. He quotes God who says, “Behold now is the acceptable time, Behold today is the day of salvation.” Paul constantly uses persuasion in preaching and teaching. There is a way to be gentle and yet very persuasive. In fact, it is usually very difficult to be persuasive without being gentle and passionate.
Paul as he is teaching Timothy on how to be a faithful expositor in 2 Timothy 4:2 tells him “preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.” As you plead with people to repent and trust Jesus we need great patience. God can work in someone’s heart in an instant, but we have no idea when that will be. In order to keep us from anger, sarcasm, arguing, interrupting and just being downright obnoxious, we need patience in our evangelism. Lack of patience is a form of pride that says, “I know better than God does”. It’s a lack of contentment in how God works and ultimately it is rebellion against Him.
First of all, it is foolish to even open our sinful lips without asking the author of salvation to open eyes. Secondly, it will be very difficult to keep a Christ exalting attitude if He is not on the forefront of our minds in evangelism. It is hard to be godly when God is not on our minds. One way to keep God constantly on our minds is by depending on Him in everything we do. Colossians 4:3 and Ephesians 6:19, are just two examples of prayer soaked evangelism.
It is tempting to think that if I’m doing it wrong then I should stop, or I should alter the message. We don’t have that luxury. We are called His ambassadors for a reason. We cannot alter the message, remain silent, or represent Him the wrong way. We must strive to be like Christ as we present Him to the world. May we never hear the words “I’d rather go to Hell than be with you!”
In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner Wallace continues his six part mini-series summarizing material from his latest book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Investigates the Evidence For A Divinely Created Universe. J. Warner describes two pieces of “mental” evidence: consciousness and our common experience of free agency. Can these two pieces of evidence “inside the room” of the universe be explained by staying “inside the room”? This simple question helps homicide detectives determine if a death scene is a crime scene. Could the same question be applied to the evidence in the universe to determine if a cosmic “intruder” is the most reasonable inference? (For more information, visit http://www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)
Historic Criminal Justice Reform
Hope is a human emotion, and the Bible commands us to have it. So how do we pursue it if we do not feel it? In this lab, John Piper explains how God has wired the relationship between the mind and the heart. Scripture tells us that biblical thinking serves passionate hoping.
Student Debt Traps Parents and Kids | Alex Chediak
Some scary stats AND a solution in Alex’s upcoming book, Beating the College Debt Trap: Getting a Degree Without Going Broke.
Semester in Scotland | Gentle Reformation
I’ve heard good things about this program.
Take a Test on The Trinity | Tim Challies
One to send to the youth group leader.
Reformation Preaching Conference in Kentucky
I’ll be in Elizabethtown, Kentucky for the next few days for the Doctrines of Grace Conference where I hope to give two addresses, one on The Impact of Calvinism on the Culture, and the other An Overview of the Doctrines of Grace. There are quite a number of other speakers with some fascinating subjects.
Ordinary: How to Turn the World Upside Down by Tony Merida $2.99.
I Will: Nine Traits of the Outwardly Focused Christian by Thom Rainer $2.99
Saving Leonardo: A Call to Resist the Secular Assault on Mind, Morals, and Meaning by Nancy Pearcey $2.99.
How Should We Develop Biblical Friendship? by Joel Beeke $2.99.
Kindle deals for Christian readers
- Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions by Elyse Fitzpatrick—$1.99
- Roman Catholic Theology by Gregg Allison—$4.99
- Run to Win the Prize by Thomas Schreiner—$2.99
Very interesting Q&A with Carly Fiorina, one of the many candidates running for the Republican nomination in next year’s election.
Carey Bustard interviews Les Slough, vice president of Shank’s Extracts, Inc:
Jesus commands us to “love our neighbors as ourselves.” How does your work function as an opportunity to love and serve others?
Our “bottom line” and caring for our employees aren’t opposing values. We want to make sure they can care for their families. We actively present challenging careers, which allow them to use their gifts. In providing a safe and healthy work environment, we get a quality product in return.
One of the most unfortunate but telling aspects of social media is the way many Christians use it with little concern for how it reflects on them or their Savior.
Tim Challies put together a great text on the Trinity. Take it (and read carefully).
Saint Anselm once said we should give thanks for whatever of the Christian faith we can understand with our minds; but when we come to something we don’t understand, we should “bow our heads in reverent submission.” That seems like godly and wise advice to me. We simply don’t have the option to pick and choose from what the Bible teaches: we are called to submit to its authority over us.
The traditional doctrine of hell is currently undergoing significant challenges from both within and without the church. Many question the reality of hell outright, while many others opt toward annihiliationism—the belief that the damned won’t suffer eternally but will instead have their consciousness extinguished at some point. In 1997 J. I. Packer wrote a brief article in Reformation and Revival magazine reviewing the debate over annihilationism among evangelicals.
Yesterday’s test on the Trinity was surprisingly popular, with 21,000 people completing it by the end of the day! I can’t see individual results but I can see trends. I may write an article or two to address the most common mistakes (which may also have just been badly worded questions). In the meantime, enjoy today’s links:
You will probably appreciate Andrew Wilson’s songwriting rant. “I’m not really ranting about songwriters, but about the pastoral carelessness, verging on negligence, shown by a fair few guardians of the church simply because someone is holding a guitar. For most modern charismatics and evangelicals, our hymnody is our liturgy – a problem which is the subject of a whole other post – and that makes thinking it through carefully extremely important.”
Derek Thomas brings an update from South Carolina. “Our beautiful city has been ravaged, more than a dozen lives have been lost and thousands have been displaced and ruined; and as I write, further threats are in view.”
In world news: “[India’s] railway, often dubbed as the ‘Lifeline of the Nation,’ shuttles more than 23 million people a day via 12,000-plus trains across some 7,000 stations. But congestion, frequent train accidents, and a lack of funding and political will to improve the rail system has made it inefficient and outdated.”
Here’s a roundup of some of the most ridiculous and hilarious Christian album covers. Personally, I think Petra’s More Power To Ya was pretty awesome.
I just love this new song and video from Andrew Peterson. His new album comes out in just 2 days. About this song he says, “I wrote this for my daughter, and the day I sang it for her I realized it was for me, too.” (Also, you can read an interview with him at The Gospel Coalition.)
This Day in 451. The first meeting of the Council of Chalcedon opened, near Constantinople. Dealing primarily with the Eutychian Christological heresy, the council created a confession of faith which has been regarded as the highest word in early Christian orthodoxy. *
A study has found that in 2050 the world’s most spoken language may just be French. That’s largely because of the high birth-rate in African nations where French is the dominant language.
As a person who loves routine and who is trying to learn some new routines, I appreciated this article.
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
J. I. Packer on Why Annihilationism is Wrong – “The doctrine of hell is the most difficult aspect of the Christian faith for many people. It is for me. I feel acutely the unremitting sadness of this doctrine. But to be a Christian is—at the very least—to confess Christ the Son of God, and to confess Christ the Son of God is—at the very least—to submit to his teaching. And this includes his teaching on hell (which was quite copious and colorful).”
Death Penalty in the Bible – “If you are one of those who get furious when you read in the Bible that God commanded some wars and the death of adulterers, homosexuals, disobedient children, fornicators, sorcerers, murderers, etc. It is likely that you have overlooked the many times God gives the reason: ‘The person who sins will die.‘”
Lazy Busy – “Have you noticed how we seem to count busyness as a virtue? When you see someone these days and ask them how they’ve been, a normal response has become, ‘busy.’ Kevin DeYoung has written a book entitled, Crazy Busy. The book is helpful as it gives biblical tools for thinking about our priorities. He offers 7 diagnosis for our busyness. He brings biblical wisdom to bear on our schedules and attitudes towards work. Some people are certainly too busy. But simply being ‘busy’ may not be the problem. DeYoung summarizes in chapter 9, ‘the reason we are busy is because we are supposed to be busy.’ Work is not bad, it is good. Busyness in and of itself is not necessarily bad either. But why do we often find ourselves running around in a frenzy?”
Fattening Up the Family Soul – “The thing that I don’t like about vigorous exercise is that it’s miserable. My mind has a hard time countering the agony of strenuous athletic undertakings to the sheer delight of sitting at ease. Don’t get me wrong: I believe exercise is good for us, and I’m grateful to live in a society that so thoroughly values it. But should we consider some of the important and often forgotten forms of ‘good fat’?”
Is God’s Primary Concern My Earthly Blessing? – “Throughout this series on Scripture’s ‘Frequently Abused Verses,’ we’ve seen how God’s Word has been misunderstood and misapplied, as well as instances when it is intentionally twisted to accommodate blasphemous lies and spurious doctrines. Today we’re going to consider how the misappropriation of one verse— 3 John 2—triggered a heretical movement that has been a scourge for God’s people and blight on the testimony of the church for more than half of a century.”
Dr. James White – Should We Exclusively Use The King James Bible?
Is the New Testament reliable?
Is it a sin for a Christian to smoke pot?
“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 – Thursday, October 8, 2015
California Governor Signs Right-to-Die Bill Sought by Brittany Maynard
PC(USA) Pastor Writes Open Letter to Trump about Refugee Comments
Christian Headmaster of School Beaten by Muslim Co-workers for His Faith
Pastor Resigns over Same-sex Marriage Beliefs
Christian Group Predicts God Will Destroy the World on Wednesday
Ben Carson Asked Controversial Questions While a Guest on ‘The View’
Christian Refugees Appeal to the West to Save them From Persecution
Roseburg, OR: Pastor Says Fellow Classmate Saved Daughter’s Life in School Shooting
Missouri Pastor Steals Thousands from Church to Fund Affair
ISIS Extremists Brutally Torture and Crucify Christian Boy and Others
Tethered to Technology—Escaping the IT Trap
Christian Victims in Oregon: Holding on to God
Why is ‘Phubbing’ a Bad Thing?
When Tragedy Strikes, Partisan Politicking Offers Cold Comfort
Do You Treat Your Faith Like a Hobby?
READING: John 5
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: I suppose if you asked believers what “eternal life” means, they would say what many of us would first say: “eternal life means I’ll live forever after I die.” That understanding of eternal life isn’t wrong, of course, but it’s not enough. Look at Jesus’ words in John 5:
John 5:24-29 “I assure you: Anyone who hears My word and believes Him who sent Me has eternal life and will not come under judgment but has passed from death to life. I assure you: An hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For just as the Father has life in Himself, so also He has granted to the Son to have life in Himself. And He has granted Him the right to pass judgment, because He is the Son of Man. Do not be amazed at this, because a time is coming when all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good things, to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked things, to the resurrection of judgment.”
When God saves us, He gives us eternal life. That’s a present tense condition that must change the way I live today. Because I have eternal life, I should live with eternity in mind. Temporary idols should lose their power. Worry should lessen. Broken relationships should be restored. Recurrent sin should no longer be recurrent. Grief should be fleeting, and rest should be sweet. Life today should be victory, and the resurrection to come will be a validation of eternal life we already possess.
When we view “eternal life” as only that which comes after death, though, we fail to see the importance of present tense faith. Faith that is only future-tense oriented easily loses its victory and joy in the present.
ACTION STEPS: If you are a follower of Jesus, you have eternal life today. Live in that triumph by forsaking sin and rejoicing over grace. Whatever trials you face today will not win.
PRAYER: “God, thank You for giving us eternal life. Thank You that our eternity is not dependent on us. Help me to live differently today because of the life You’ve given me.”
Our Time is Short
What is The Gospel?
God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.
The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.
God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.
But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.
And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.
This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.
God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.
God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.
Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.
Ready to start your new life with God?
Who do you think that I am?
With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.
Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.
Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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