Clouding the Gospel, Confusing God’s People
There’s a reason why historic Reformed/Presbyterian churches respond so quickly, strongly, and ecclesiastically (i.e. in a churchly manner) to preaching that clouds the gospel by mixing law/works and gospel/grace. When we hear things like “works are instrumental in justification” or “final justification at the last day” or “the lawful gospel” or “I’m not sure ‘imputation’ is the best way to talk” or “faith alone means being faithful to Christ’s call” and other confusing statements, we investigate because these types of statements bring on a theological fog that so quickly confuses God’s people about the heart of the faith, the gospel.
Were Early Christian Scribes Untrained Amateurs?
In sum, the oft-repeated claim that early Christian scribes were unprofessional and untrained simply does not fit with what we know about early Christian manuscripts nor about early Christian literary culture. Loveday Alexander provides a perfect summary: It is clear that we are dealing with a group [early Christians] that used books intensively and professionally from very early on in its existence. The evidence of the papyri from the second century onwards suggests . . . the early development of a technically sophisticated and distinctive book technology (“Ancient Book Production and the Circulation of the Gospels,” 85).
When Submission Becomes Sinful
When those charged with serving and protecting abandon that call and look away from evil, or actively participate in it, we are called not to submit, but to stand up, especially for those who are unable to stand up for themselves. In those moments, it is not submissive silence, but strong words rooted in a love for justice and mercy, that true womanhood is most eloquently expressed.
Gnosticism vs. Christianity
My intent in providing this summary of Lee’s points is not simply so that we may learn a bit of history about a heresy that arose in the early church. My hope is that, by learning and understanding the ways in which Gnosticism is contrasted with Biblical Christianity, we might be better able to spot these Gnostic tendencies today. For, make no mistake, you will find these Gnostic tendencies being taught alongside Christian orthodoxy, and you may even find them in your own thinking. In fact, in the remainder of Against the Protestant Gnostics (more than 200 pages), Lee shows how these teachings of Gnosticism have wormed their way into Christian teachings, particularly in North American Protestantism.
4 Questions to Ask College Students
The life of a college student is not so carefree. Active shooters on campus are a real threat. A load of debt kicks in after graduation. The job market is bleak. Therefore, conversations with college students need to be attended by thoughtfulness. “What is your major?” and “What year are you in?” are okay, but “Do you have any job prospects?” can add to existing anxiety.
The New Pastor’s Handbook
The New Pastor’s Handbook: Help and Encouragement for the First Years of Ministry (Baker) is exactly the sort of book I wanted to read when I was starting out in the ministry. With 48 bite-sized chapters on topics like calling, candidating, reading, using your time wisely, busyness, thankfulness, visitation, discontentment, discouragement, envy, and the privilege of ministry, I’m sure every pastor (of any age) can be helped and encouraged by this book. Interested church members who spend even a half hour in these pages will get a feel for the unique challenges and joys of pastoral ministry.
Over the years, I’ve learned that if I as a teacher am threatened by the questions or knowledge of my students, I will never grow as a teacher. I’ve prayed that God would enable me never to become defensive, tentative, and ultimately unteachable. I’ve prayed that for my students as well, especially those who are called to vocational ministry. Those who are willing to see the questions and knowledge of their students as opportunities to expand their learning will become better, if not great, teachers.
“Eschatology and Enjoying Your Mate”
Beale points out in his last lecture of his Biblical theology series that every time a man leaves his father’s household to cling to his wife (Gen. 2:24), we have “a parable, a repeated parable, of what Christ would do as the husband of the church: leave his father, cleave to the church. He would initiate as the… preserver and leader, and be the instigator and source of unity and nourishment, and the church should respond in trust.” He continues that when a husband lavishly and sacrificially gives to his wife, providing her with what she desires, as long as it is not sinful, he is showing the fallen world something about what Christ has come to do.
We in the Reformed world are in the midst of another controversy over sanctification, salvation, good works, and conditions in the covenant of grace. Are we justified by grace alone through faith alone but saved by grace, through faith and works? Is the covenant of grace conditional or unconditional? Here to help us sort out these […]
The Bible is clear that in the final days the world’s hatred for God will increase and Christians will face some difficult times. The Bible also teaches us that a wise man prepares for challenging seasons so when they come he will be prepared. But exactly what does biblical preparation look like? Does it mean […]
We, in America, like the plaques, we just don’t like the Ten Commandments. Scott Alan Buss discusses being in the world, but not of the world.
A look at how our economic freedoms and sustainability are under attack. Plus, what does Barna say about religious freedom?
The subtle dangers of this seductive movement and how it is making serious inroads with believers who have not hidden God’s Word in their hearts.
The post Deceived by Higher, “Christ Consciousness” & New Age Influence appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
I am a huge proponent of screencap. Capturing an image before a false teacher or wolf or talk show host or author realizes he’s been caught pedaling falsehoods is often the only way sheep will realize just how deceitful their beloved Christian celebrities really are. So when I saw that someone had captured yet another […]
The Bible is clear that in the final days the world’s hatred for God will increase and Christians will face some difficult times. The Bible also teaches us that a wise man prepares for challenging seasons so when they come he will be prepared. But exactly what does biblical preparation look like? Does it mean […]
If you’ve never seen this video of prosperity preachers Creflo Dollar and LeRoy Thompson dancing across their stage on the dollar bills of congregants, you’d best gird your loins first with truth: For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. […]
University of Toronto Dumps Transgender Bathrooms After Peeping Incidents
The Daily Wire reports this not so surprising story:
The administration at the University of Toronto was recently enlightened on why two separate washrooms are generally established for men and women sharing co-ed residencies.
The University is temporarily changing its policy on gender-neutral bathrooms after two separate incidents of “voyeurism” were reported on campus September 15 and 19. Male students within the University’s Whitney Hall student residence were caught holding their cellphones over female students’ shower stalls and filming them as they showered.
Unrepentant Apocalyptic False Prophet Shrugs Off World Not Being “Annihilated” by Fire Wednesday
According to Christian Research Network:
The leader of a Pennsylvania-based group that followed the late Harold Camping, a radio host who made numerous false predictions about the end of the world, is shrugging off his incorrect prognostication that the Earth would be “annihilated” by fire on Wednesday.
“Since it is now October 8th it is now obvious that we were incorrect regarding the world’s ending on the 7th,” wrote eBible Fellowship leader Chris McCann in an online note on Thursday. “Did we lie? No.”
It is a scary and sad warning our Savior gives us about the day when we will all stand before Him for eternal judgment: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day […]
Creflo Dollar and the case of the missing Facebook post
Berean Research has a couple of posts on Word of faith heretic Creflo Dollar that people must see to believe. The first post, penned by Amy Spreeman, is entitled: Creflo Dollar removes posts claiming Jesus died to give us “financial prosperity.” Amy reports what happened:
I am a huge proponent of screencap. Capturing an image before a false teacher or wolf or talk show host or author realizes he’s been caught pedaling falsehoods is often the only way sheep will realize just how deceitful their beloved Christian celebrities really are. So when I saw that someone had captured yet another horrific, blasphemous lie on social media this morning, I just about fainted: “Jesus bled and died for us so that we can lay claim to the promise of financial prosperity.”
She also posted a video of Dollar doing the money dance:
If you’ve never seen this video of prosperity preachers Creflo Dollar and LeRoy Thompson dancing across their stage on the dollar bills of congregants, you’d best gird your loins first with truth:
As new advances come about in our science and technology fields, there are some who believe aging and death could be a thing of the past.
Heartland fury as university renovates chapel to accommodate Muslims
On the heals of a report over at Breitbart, World’s First Lesbian Bishop Calls for Church to Remove Crosses, to Install Muslim Prayer Space, Todd Starnes, host of Fox News and Commentary, fills us in on the “Christian cleansing” going on at Wichita State:
A decision to make a university’s chapel “faith neutral” to accommodate Muslim students has created great angst in the nation’s Heartland after critics were accused of being Islamophobic.
Last May, Wichita State University ordered workers to remove all the pews and an altar inside the Harvey D. Grace Memorial Chapel. The pews were ripped from the floor and replaced with portable chairs to make room for Muslim prayer rugs.
“Under the terms of Mrs. Harvey D. Grace’s gift to the university in her will, ‘This chapel will be open to all creeds and to all races of people,’” WSU President John Bardo said in a statement. “Our goal should be exactly what Mrs. Grace set out to do in her gift, to have an all faiths chapel that is welcoming to all religious groups on campus.”
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. John 14:15 Before we address the epidemic of sexual promiscuity and moral confusion in our culture, it is imperative we first look within the church, examine our own faith, and strengthen our marriages. We cannot do this without denying ourselves and striving to love God with […]
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from every brother who leads an unruly life and not according to the tradition which you received from us.” – 2 Thessalonians 3:6
The idea that work somehow made you second-class, that secular, useless, lower employment put you beneath the religious order found its way into the church so formidably that it never really got rooted out or even began to be rooted out until the time of the Reformation in the 16th century with Martin Luther and John Calvin attacking it. It’s still around in Catholicism, but the Reformation dealt some pretty heavy blows against it. Martin Luther said there is absolutely no difference before God, though there may be before men, between one who preaches the Word of God and one who washes dishes. There’s no such thing, he said, as the sacred and the secular in terms of employment. We understand the difference between preaching and washing dishes as it affects men, but in terms of service before God, there’s no difference for one could preach the truth of God from an impure motive and God would be displeased and one could wash dishes with a motive of glorifying Christ and God would be highly pleased.
Paul faces a wrong attitude toward work in this text. I don’t know whether it was because there was Jewish influence in this young church. I don’t know whether some of these people had been converted out of Judaism and they were saying, “Look, in Judaism the highest level of spiritual life was to be a scribe and spend all your time studying the law, and so I imagine that’s the highest kind of Christianity, so I’m just going to spend all my time studying the law and I’m not going to work.” It may have been not so much the Jewish influence as the Greek influence. I don’t know if you remember this – you surely do – but all of the menial labor in the Roman Empire was done by whom? Slaves.
The whole Greek world operated on the basis of slaves, and that mentality had found its way into the church, no doubt, and maybe there were some freemen who now had a problem because before they were Christians, they operated in some philosophical school or they taught in some place or maybe they were associated in some business where they did all the dreaming and the scheming and everybody did all the labor, and now they became a Christian and they lost their job and they lost their position as teacher or philosopher, and now they’re on their own, but it’s beneath them to work. They’ve never worked and now, when they don’t have the income that came from their prior occupation, they’re thrust into the situation where they need to work and they’re just above that, they’re not about to work. They’ve always been freemen, “Freemen don’t do labor, slaves do labor, we won’t work.”
And then you had another problem, as if that wasn’t enough, coming from the Jewish culture and the Gentile culture. Somebody had come to the Thessalonian church, according to chapter 2 verse 2, and told them they were in the day of the Lord which is the very end time and Jesus was coming very soon, and it may have been that some of them were saying, “Look, if Jesus is coming, if we’re in the day of the Lord and God’s fury is about to fall and the Lord is about to return, we don’t want to get involved in work, we need to evangelize. We need to do spiritual ministry. Work will just take up our hours, and a perishing world on the brink of a returning Christ, we can’t be fussing with that, we need to be evangelizing.”
And there may have just flatly been some folks who said, “I don’t like to work.” Just plain old lazy. So it may have been the Jewish influence that the really elevated religious people study the Scriptures and they’re supported for that or it may have been the Gentile mentality that says freemen don’t work or it may have been the eschatological end times mentality that says, “Jesus is coming, we can’t be doing work, we’ve got to be doing evangelism” or it may have been some folks who just said, “Hey, we’re lazy. Why, we don’t want to work.” Furthermore, these people who were just flat-out lazy would know that the Bible taught that the people who had were supposed to give it to the people who didn’t have, and they classified themselves as the self-appointed poor and said, “We are now your charity cases and you’ll take care of us because that’s what Jesus instructed you to do.”
Whatever the reason, there were people who weren’t working. It fascinates me that Paul doesn’t tell us the reason. You want to know why? It doesn’t matter what the reason is. None of it is valid. I mean we would immediately reject the reason ”Well, I’m lazy, I don’t want to work, so meet my needs, you’re supposed to take care of the poor.” We would reject that immediately. Yes, we know you’re supposed to take care of the poor, but that’s the poor who are poor because they can’t help but be poor. The people who would work but can’t find work or who can’t work because they’re infirm or disabled and we are to meet their needs but not the people who can work and have opportunity to work. So we would discount that, and we would discount probably the Gentile mentality that says “I’m too good to work.” We would say those are ignoble excuses. We’ll push those aside.
We might think a little longer about the other two and say, “Well, it would be a lofty way to spend your life to just do nothing but study the law, and we are living in the return of Jesus Christ potentially, and maybe it is right that we ought to just dump our job and run out and evangelize.” We would give that a little more credence and say, “Well, that’s a little more noble excuse for not working,” but it fascinates me that Paul doesn’t tell us the reason. Do you know why? Because it doesn’t matter; they’re all invalid. The very fact that he makes no comment is a comment. We don’t know why they wouldn’t work. We don’t know whether it was just flat laziness or eschatology. We don’t know whether it was some lofty desire to spend all their time in Bible study or whether it was some passionate zeal to do all their time in evangelism. It didn’t matter. These people were a problem.
So starting in verse 6, look what he says to them. “Now, we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ that you keep aloof from every brother who leads a disorderly or unruly life” – and in this context, it means “who won’t work” – “and not according to the tradition which you received from us, for you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example because we didn’t act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you. Not because we do not have the right to this but in order to offer to offer ourselves as a model for you that you might follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: If anyone will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all but acting like busybodies. Now, such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread, but as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good, and if anyone doesn’t obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that man and do not associate with him so that he may be put to shame, and yet do not regard him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother.”
Now, it becomes obvious that there’s some people living an unruly, undisciplined, disorderly life and what it comes down to is they’re not working and they’re meddling busybodies fussing around and not working and then casting themselves on everybody else to have their food need met, and the apostle is directing this passage at these people who won’t work. It is a very unique passage, directed for folks and for the church in which folks exist who will not work.
You see, our Christian faith has sanctified every occupation. There isn’t any difference between the secular and the sacred, there isn’t any at all. The church should remember that Jesus was a preacher for three years but a carpenter for at least 20. That sanctifies work. All of life is God’s. All of it is for His glory. . . .
. . . .Work is a sacred duty not a secular one. Work is sacred in the sense that it is done to the Lord whether you’re washing dishes, scrubbing floors, taking care of children at home and maintaining the house, or whether you’re in the financial marketplace doing accounting and bookkeeping for a company, or whether you’re delivering mail or teaching school or driving a truck, or whether you’re operating a business, or whether you’re working in sales, whether you’re developing strategy for marketing, or whether you’re some kind of an expert who acts as a consultant in a unique field – whatever it is that you’re doing, it is a service rendered to the Lord. He has gifted you. He has granted you talent. He has given you the power to get wealth, as it says in Deuteronomy, through means of that, and He has allowed you the opportunity to provide your sustenance through that talent, ability, and experience and capability that you have, but it is to be done as if you were serving Him, the one who gave you that as the means by which you can earn your living – particularly, is this not true for Christians? Everything you do is a sacred trust.
You say, “You mean to tell me that what I do is as important before God as what you do?” Yes. You say, “You mean washing dishes in my house as unto the Lord is the same as you preaching as unto the Lord?” Yes, not in its impact for evangelism on men, not in its certain instructiveness in regards to Scripture, not before men is it necessarily the same in kind but before God it is the same for it is your service rendered to His glory. That’s the point and the Thessalonians didn’t grasp it. Now, frankly they should have. I mean go back to 1 Thessalonians for a moment, chapter 4.
First Thessalonians chapter 4 and verse 10, at the very end of verse 10, he says, “We urge you, brethren, to excel still more.” You’re doing well but you need to do better. And then in verse 11 he says why. “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life” – quit running around all over the place, settle down – “attend to your own business” – stay out of other people’s business – “and work with your hands.” Now, what he’s talking about here is work. In verse 12, he says, “So that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” Work, don’t be a meddler, don’t be a busybody, don’t be fussing around with other people’s business, get your life ordered, get it brought into control, attend to your own business and do your own work so that – verse 12 – you don’t have any needs. That is very important to the unity of the church, and it is important to see your work as honoring to God.
So he says that in 1 Thessalonians 4, so he’s already told this to them, but would you notice what else he says at the end of verse 11? “Just as we commanded you.” So in the first letter, this isn’t the first time they’ve heard this. When he was there he must have confronted it and commanded them about it. When he came into town and he founded the church, obviously it was a problem from the beginning, which leads me to think that they carried in this Gentile freeman mentality and then somehow compounded it by the anticipation of the return of Christ. “It’s beneath me and it’s not the priority as we’re near the return of Christ,” and Paul had instructed them when he was there, “Work, go to work. This is a command from God.”
taken from: John MacArthur, “Work: A Noble Christian Duty, Part 1” (sermon, Grace Community Church, Sun Valley, Ca., July 5, 1992), accessed October 9, 2015, http://www.gty.org/resources/sermons/53-14/work–a-noble-christian-duty-part-1.
How’s your prayer life?
Hardly any question — unless perhaps if someone asks about your evangelistic efforts — can cause more chin-dropping, foot-shuffling embarrassment for Christians than asking about their prayer life.
Why is that? Why do so many followers of Jesus suffer with such unsatisfying prayer lives and consider themselves hopelessly second-rate Christians because of it?
Method Is Our Madness
For almost all followers of Jesus, I believe the problem in prayer is not with the quality of the Christian, but with the method of their prayer.
Of course, no change in method will make prayer consistently meaningful to someone who is spiritually dead. But it’s different for those who are spiritually alive. They are born again through faith in Christ and indwelled by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit’s presence causes them as God’s children to cry, “Abba, Father!” (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6), giving them a Godward orientation they didn’t have before.
In other words, all those indwelled by the Holy Spirit really do want to pray. And if an individual Christian sincerely seeks to live for Christ, and has no specific sin issue that he or she refuses to confess and fight against, then the basic problem in prayer is not with sin or failure, but with method.
And what is the method of prayer for most Christians? It’s this: When we pray, we tend to say the same old things about the same old things. Sooner or later, that kind of prayer is boring. When prayer is boring, you don’t feel like praying. And when you don’t feel like praying, you don’t pray — at least with any fervency or consistency. Prayer feels much more like duty than delight.
The problem is not that we pray about the same old things. To pray about the same things most of the time is normal. That’s because our lives tend to consist of the same things from one day to the next. Thankfully, dramatic changes in our lives usually don’t occur very often.
No, the problem isn’t that we pray about the same old things; the problem is that we tend to say the same old things about the same old things. The result is that we can be talking to the most fascinating Person in the universe about the most important things in our lives — and be bored to death.
So we can experience boredom in prayer, not because we don’t love God, and not because we don’t love who or what we’re praying about, but because of our method.
Solution in the Spirit
What is the solution? Well, whatever it is, it must be simple. God has children all over the planet, and they represent the widest imaginable diversity in language, culture, age, IQ, education, and Christian privilege (such as access to a Bible preaching church, Christian books, Christian content online, and more). If all these believers, despite the various and dramatic differences among them, are invited to pray, then prayer must be doable by all God’s children.
The simple solution to the seemingly universal problem of saying the same old things about the same old things in prayer is this: Pray the Bible. In other words, slowly read a passage of Scripture and pray about all that comes to mind as you read.
Do this, and you’ll never again be left to say the same old things in prayer.
Simple, Powerful, Biblical
Praying the Bible isn’t complicated. Read through a few verses of Scripture, pause at the end of each phrase or verse, and pray about what the words suggest to you.
Suppose you are praying your way through Psalm 23. After reading verse one — “The Lord is my shepherd” — you might begin by thanking Jesus for being your Shepherd. Next you might ask him to shepherd your family, making your children or grandchildren his sheep, causing them to love him as their great Shepherd too. After that you might pray for your undershepherds at the church, that Jesus would shepherd them as they shepherd you.
Then, when nothing else comes to mind, you go to the next line, “I shall not want.” You might thank him that you’ve never been in real want, or pray for someone — perhaps someone you know, or for a Christian in a place of persecution — who is in want.
You would continue through the psalm until you run out of time. You wouldn’t run out of anything to say (if you did, you could just go to another psalm), and best of all, that prayer would be unlike any you’ve ever prayed in your life.
That means if you’ll pray the Bible, you’ll never again say the same old things about the same old things. You don’t need any notes or books or any plan to remember. Simply talk to God about what comes to mind as you go line-by-line through his word.
As John Piper puts it, “Open the Bible, start reading it, and pause at every verse and turn it into a prayer.”
If nothing comes to mind, go to the next verse. If you don’t understand that verse, go to the next one. If the following verse is crystal clear, but doesn’t prompt anything to pray about, read on. If you want to linger long over a single verse, pray from and about that verse as long as you want.
By this method, your prayers will be guided and shaped by Scripture, and be far more in conformity to the word and will of God than they will if you always make up your own prayers.
Jesus prayed the Bible in Matthew 27:46 and Luke 23:46, and the early church prayed the Bible in Acts 4:23–26, and so can you.
Peter begins his letter not merely with statements of truth, but with worship. He rejoices over the realities he has seen about who God is and what he has done. In twenty minutes, John Piper walks through these first verses to understand the role of the Bible in our new birth and daily worship.
Several weeks ago, I began a series of posts by outlining some foundational biblical teaching about God’s decree. We examined numerous passages of Scripture that speak of God’s decree as eternal, unconditional, unchangeable, and exhaustive. As a result, we concluded that God is properly said to be the ultimate cause of all things. As the Westminster Confession states, “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass” (WCF, 3.1).
Whenever you say something like that in a theological discussion, immediately the question is raised: How can God be the ultimate cause of whatsoever comes to pass—even actions and events that are evil and sinful, things which God Himself prescribes against—and yet not be rightly charged with unrighteousness. Perhaps the most common answer to that question is an appeal to the notion of divine “permission.” In other words, though God is ultimately in control, He doesn’t ordain evil; He merely allows it. In a second post, I demonstrated why such a solution is unsatisfactory, both theologically and biblically. After considering a number of passages that don’t shy away from attributing to God a very active role in the bringing about of evil events, we concluded with John Frame: “God does bring about sinful human actions. To deny this, or to charge God with wickedness on account of it, is not open to a Bible-believing Christian. Somehow, we must confess both that God has a role in bringing evil about, and that in doing so he is holy and blameless” (Doctrine of God). That post demonstrated that Scripture plainly teaches both (a) that God is unquestionably righteous and (b) that He indeed ordains sinful events and actions. And if that’s what Scripture teaches (and it is), it is not our place to sit in judgment upon and question the consistency of those declarations. That only breeds the worst of biblical and theological mischief. To argue that God is unrighteous for ordaining evil is to sit in judgment upon both the Word of God and the Judge of all the world. Instead, it falls to us to receive both propositions as true on the authority of God’s infallible and inerrant Word.
But is there any way to understand how it can be that God is not the chargeable cause of sin, even though He ordains that it be? There is a way for the worshiper of God to ask that question submissively, not because we demand that God give an account of His understanding of justice that satisfies our sensibilities, but simply because we desire to know Him and worship Him for what He has revealed of Himself. And there is a way to answer that question that remains faithful to sound biblical interpretation and theological reflection.
The answer that Scripture seems to give can be boiled down to two propositions. First, though God is the ultimate cause of all things—even evil—He is never the proximate, or efficient, cause of evil. Second, Scripture regards only the efficient cause of evil as the chargeable or blameworthy party. Let’s look to a sample of texts that bears this out.
Assyria, the Rod of My Anger
In Isaiah 10, God pronounces woe upon His people for their idolatry and injustice (Isa 10:1–2). He threatens that He is about to bring about a “day of punishment” and “devastation which will come from afar” (Isa 10:3). “Nothing remains but to crouch among the captives or fall among the slain” (Isa 10:4). In verse 6, we learn that God will carry out this punishment against wicked Israel by sending the nation of Assyria to destroy her. He says, “I send it [i.e., Assyria] against a godless nation and commission it against the people of My fury to capture booty and to seize plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets” (Isa 10:6). God will send Assyria to level devastation upon Israel to punish her for her idolatry.
And yet, in verse 5, God also pronounces woe upon Assyria! He says, “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger and the staff in whose hands is My indignation” (Isa 10:5). He even goes so far as to liken Assyria to an inanimate object—the rod of Yahweh’s anger in His hand which He Himself wields. We might naturally ask, “How can it be just for God to send Assyria to destroy Israel—indeed, to describe their involvement as so inactive as to liken them to an inanimate object in Yahweh’s hand—and then punish them for the evil of destroying Israel?” It simply won’t do to say that Yahweh merely “allowed” Assyria to punish Israel; the text is far too active for that: “I send it against a godless nation” (Isa 10:6). The answer seems to lie in the concept of ultimate versus efficient causation. Even though Yahweh is clearly the ultimate cause of Israel’s destruction and the Assyrians are merely the rod of anger in His hand, yet the Assyrians are the efficient cause of the evil.
Besides this, God’s sovereign ordination of Assyria’s destruction of Israel in no way coerced Assyria or forced them to do what they did not otherwise want to do. Assyria wasn’t sitting around minding its own business when God came and twisted their arms to mercilessly destroy a nation. No, they still acted according to their freedom of inclination; they were doing what they wanted to do. And yet, the reason they desired to destroy Israel was not the reason for which Yahweh wanted to. Yahweh wanted to righteously punish Israel for her idolatry and injustice. But Assyria had other intentions. Verse 7 says, “Yet it does not so intend, nor does it plan so in its heart.” In other words, Assyria does not intend to destroy Israel for the sake of punishing unrighteousness. No, “but rather it is its purpose to destroy and to cut off many nations. For it says, ‘Are not my princes all kings?’” (Isa 10:7–8). Assyria’s intention in destroying Israel was to arrogantly flex its military muscle and pridefully make a name for itself among the nations.
God ordains the evil of the destruction of Israel by Assyria. Yet while Assyria meant it for evil—to satisfy its own pride and bloodlust—God meant it for good: to punish unrighteousness and bring about repentance in His people. Assyria is the efficient cause, and because their desires were sinful, they are accountable for their sin. God is the ultimate cause, but because His desires and purposes for ordaining that evil were not evil but righteous—in other words, because He ordained the evil for goodness’ sake—He is not the chargeable cause of sin.
The Anger of the Lord Incited David
Something similar takes place in 2 Samuel 24. This chapter details David’s sin of taking a census among the people. We know it was sinful for a couple of reasons. First, David himself confesses it as such. He says, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. But now, O Yahweh, please take away the iniquity of Your servant, for I have acted very foolishly” (2 Sam 24:10). Apparently, numbering the people was a display of David’s pride. He was basking in the glory of the nation over which he was king. It was as if he was saying, “Look at how numerous is my people!” Second, we also know it was sinful because God responded by sending pestilence upon the nation, with the result that 70,000 men died (2 Sam 24:15)! If David was going to exalt himself and take pride in a nation of great numbers, God was pleased to humble the great king by taking 70,000 of that great number to the grave!
What makes this a surprising scene is the opening verse of the narrative. In 2 Samuel 24:1, the text says, “Now again the anger of Yahweh burned against Israel, and it incited David against them to say, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah.’” David confesses such an act as sin (2 Sam 24:10), and God punishes it as sin (2 Sam 24:15), and yet from the outset we’re told that it was Yahweh’s anger that incited David to take this census! More than that, in the parallel account in 1 Chronicles 21:1, the inspired text says, “Then Satan stood up against Israel and moved David to number Israel.” God and Satan are used entirely in parallel! The author of Samuel says God incited David to take the census, and the Chronicler says Satan incited David to take the census!
Now, unless one is ready to admit a contradiction in Scripture, we must understand that (a) God is the ultimate cause of this act, ultimately decreeing that it should be; (b) Satan is a proximate cause, the instrument Yahweh uses to stir up this evil in the heart of David; and (c) David is the efficient cause, having carried it out according to his own sinful inclination, and thus is culpable for the action.
And although God is clearly the ultimate cause for this evil (He does not merely “allow” Satan to do it; 2 Sam 24:1 will not allow that understanding), Scripture does not at all imply that God is to blame or that Satan and David are any less responsible. God’s motives in this action must be presumed entirely righteous even though we are not explicitly told what good God intended by ordaining this evil. After all, shall not the judge of all the earth deal justly (Gen 18:25)? There can be no unrighteousness with God, can there? May it never be (Rom 3:5–6)! And yet because Satan always desires to ruin God’s people, and because David’s motive was to pridefully exalt himself, they are the chargeable cause(s) of this evil.
Whatever Your Hand Predestined to Occur
The final illustration of these principles may be found in the greatest moral evil in history: the murder of the innocent Son of God. Two passages help us here:
Acts 2:22–23 – Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.
Acts 4:27–28 – For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.
So there can be no question that Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles, and the peoples of Israel were to blame for the crucifixion of Christ (Acts 4:27). Peter openly indicts the men of Israel for their crime: “This Man . . . you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (Acts 2:23; cf. 2:36). And yet, Peter also explicitly says that such evil was accomplished “by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). Indeed, Herod, Pilate, the Jews, and the Gentiles were those whom God “anointed . . . to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur” (Acts 4:27–28).
Here again we see that (a) God is the ultimate cause of the crucifixion, predestining all of the events that led to the crucifixion, guaranteeing that it would occur; (b) the Jews were a proximate cause, seeing as how they incited Rome to crucify Christ; and (c) Herod, Pilate, and other godless men were the efficient cause, because the crucifixion was carried out by Roman authority. The Jews are held accountable as a proximate cause, as Peter says “you nailed [Jesus] to a cross by the hands of godless men.” That the Romans actually nailed Jesus to a cross made the Jews no less culpable for that crime. And yet God, by whose hand all of these things ultimately came about, is not the chargeable cause of any evil. Why? Because they meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. Herod, Pilate, Judas, and the Jews conspired the crucifixion because they wanted to be rid of this Man who indicted them for their sin. But God ordained the evil of the cross for the good that it would bring; namely, the salvation of His people from their sin.
So the point is: God may be the ultimate cause of all that happens—even evil—and yet not incur the guilt that rightly belongs to the proximate and/or efficient cause(s), because: (1) He is never the efficient cause of evil, and (2) He always ordains evil for good. God does not will sin as sin, but for the good which He desires to bring from it. Edwards explains:
“[It is consistent to say] that God has decreed every action of men, yea, every action that is sinful, and every circumstance of those actions; that he predetermines that they shall be in every respect as they afterwards are; that he determines that there shall be such actions, and just so sinful as they are; and yet that God does not decree the actions that are sinful, as sin, but decrees them as good. . . . By decreeing an action as sinful, I mean decreeing it for the sake of the sinfulness of the action. God decrees that they shall be sinful, for the sake of the good that he causes to arise from the sinfulness thereof; whereas man decrees them for the sake of the evil that is in them.” (Concerning the Divine Decrees, Works, 2:527)
Unto Our Highest Happiness
And what is that good for which God ordains evil? Ultimately, we know the answer is always for His glory.
To those who would reproach God for holding accountable those who don’t have the ability to resist His decree (cf. Rom 9:19), God answers by reminding mere mortals that they’re above their pay grade: “On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, ‘Why did you make me like this,’ will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?” (Rom 9:20–21).
But to the submissive, inquiring worshiper for whom the furthest thing from his mind is to find fault with God, who simply wants to know his God and worship Him for how He’s revealed Himself, God gives another answer. In Romans 9:22–23, Paul says,
What if God, willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And [what if] He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory?
God ordains sin and evil—He even ordains the eternal punishment of the wicked—to make known to His elect the riches of His glory. You can’t do better than Edwards here:
“It is a proper and excellent thing for infinite glory to shine forth; and for the same reason, it is proper that the shining forth of God’s glory should be complete; that is, that all parts of his glory should shine forth, that every beauty should be proportionably effulgent, that the beholder may have a proper notion of God. It is not proper that one glory should be exceedingly manifested, and another not at all. . . .
“Thus it is necessary, that God’s awful majesty, his authority and dreadful greatness, justice, and holiness, should be manifested. But this could not be, unless sin and punishment had been decreed; so that the shining forth of God’s glory would be very imperfect, both because these parts of divine glory would not shine forth as the others do, and also the glory of his goodness, love, and holiness would be faint without them; nay, they could scarcely shine forth at all. If it were not right that God should decree and permit and punish sin, there could be no manifestation of God’s holiness in hatred of sin, or in showing any preference, in his providence, of godliness before it. There would be no manifestation of God’s grace or true goodness, if there was no sin to be pardoned, no misery to be saved from.
“How much happiness soever he bestowed, his goodness would not be so much prized and admired. . . . So evil is necessary, in order to the highest happiness of the creature, and the completeness of that communication of God, for which he made the world; because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God, and the sense of his love. And if the knowledge of him be imperfect, the happiness of the creature must be proportionably imperfect.” (Concerning the Divine Decrees, Works, 2:528)
God ordains whatsoever comes to pass in order that His glory might ultimately displayed to the utmost. And far from a megalomaniacal narcissism, God’s pursuit of His own glory is “in order to the highest happiness of the creature . . . because the creature’s happiness consists in the knowledge of God.” And our knowledge of God would be imperfect if we didn’t see the full expression of His attributes: grace, mercy, forgiveness, justice, righteousness, and so on. And yet none of those attributes could be fully expressed if there was not sin to punish and to forgive, or sinners to whom to be gracious and merciful. God is not less glorious, but more glorious, because He ordains evil. And the more He magnifies His glory, the greater is His love to us. Surely God cannot be charged with unrighteousness for doing that which amounts to the greatest benefit for us who are His.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!
How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!
For ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who became His counselor?’
Or ‘Who has first given to Him that it might be paid back to Him again?’
For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
To Him be the glory forever. Amen.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. (Colossians 1:15)
Facial recognition software has come a long way since it was first developed in the 1960s. In the early days, the computer was slow to match a person of interest to a photograph because it required an operator to identify the eyes, nose, mouth, etc. before the computer went to work. Today, computer programs use highly complex algorithms to recognize faces in real time. The software is used by the FBI and airports for security, by shopping malls to identify buying patterns, and even used by some organizations to track attendance at events.
Facial recognition relies on math to match features of what is seen (the individual going through surveillance at the airport) to what is unseen (the suspect being sought). From an article in Computing News:
Asked whether two unfamiliar photos of faces show the same person, a human being will get it right 97.53 percent of the time. New software developed by researchers at Facebook can score 97.25 percent on the same challenge, regardless of variations in lighting or whether the person in the picture is directly facing the camera.
The match is not 100 percent. The better the photograph — the image — the better the computer can identify someone. The image is a close representation, but it’s not precise.
Colossians 1:15 tells us that Jesus is the image of God. We are able to recognize what is unseen — the invisible God — by what was seen: Jesus. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…
Unlike Adam, Jesus is not made in the image of God. Jesus is the “exact imprint of his nature.” His match is 100 percent accurate.
Unlike Adam, Jesus is not made in the image of God. Jesus is the “exact imprint of his nature.”
To know Jesus is to know God. By seeing how Jesus interacted with the people around him, we get to see some of the characteristics of God. Here are just a few examples of what we learn about God the Father by seeing Jesus the Son.
1. Jesus shows us God’s compassion
Jesus was willing to touch lepers — unclean people who were forced to live outside of society.
While he was in one of the cities, there came a man full of leprosy. And when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and begged him, “Lord, if you will, you can make me clean.” And Jesus stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I will; be clean.” And immediately the leprosy left him. (Luke 5:12-13)
Jesus’ compassion for this man “full of leprosy” shows us that God loves the sick, no matter how horrifying their wounds.
2. Jesus shows us God’s mercy
The demon possessed man in the country of the Gerasenes must have frightened any who came close. He lived among the tombs where the people had tried to bind him with chains. Though he was rejected by everyone in town, he found mercy with Jesus who healed him.
As he was getting into the boat, the man who had been possessed with demons begged him that he might be with him. And he did not permit him but said to him, “Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” (John 5:18-19)
When Jesus showed mercy to the demon-possessed man, he showed us that God loves outcasts, no matter how frightening or bizarre their behavior.
3. Jesus shows us God’s impartiality
Some prejudices are so ingrained, they get passed down from one generation to the next. But Jesus rejected ethnic biases and instead met individuals where they lived.
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) (John 4:7-9)
Jesus treated this Samaritan woman with dignity, despite everything he knew about her. By reaching out to the woman at the well, Jesus showed us that God is not prejudiced and “shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11).
In writing to the Colossians, Paul was countering a heresy that Jesus was not fully God. Less than a 100 percent match, if you will. The church faced confusion about who Jesus really was, and Paul’s letter was a reminder that Jesus was the exact representation of God.
Just as facial recognition allows airport officials to identify a person walking through the scanner, Jesus allows us to see the invisible God. By learning more about Christ, we learn what a compassionate, merciful, and loving God we serve.
- The Lion and the Lamb, Jesus Christ
- Who Then Is This Jesus Christ?
- Are You Rightly Understanding Jesus?
Making the decision to leave a ministry is seldom easy. Even when the ministry has been difficult, departures can be painful. Before you make the decision to leave, consider at least these questions:
- Have I been faithfully reading the Word and praying? I realize this first question sounds like an elementary one, but it may be the most important one. If you haven’t been accustomed to communicating with God regularly via Bible study and prayer, why would you think you’d hear His voice accurately now?
- Do I feel both a “push” and a “pull”? My former colleague, Dr. Tim Beougher, reminded me of this question years ago. Responding to a push from one ministry without a pull toward another may lead to making a premature move.
- What does my spouse say? My wife is often more patient and much wiser than I am. I’ve learned the hard way that trumping her godly opinion invites vocational anguish. God makes ministry couples a team for a reason.
- Have I fully lived out my vision for this ministry? Sometimes present-tense difficulties overshadow our future tense vision – but that doesn’t mean we’ve completed or exhausted that vision. It might be that recapturing the vision will also restore your passion.
- Am I willing to pray, “Not my will, but Yours be done”? This question sounds like an easy one. However, if you’re not willing to hear and obey God if He says, “I want you to stay right where you are,” you may not be ready to follow God anywhere.
- Is there a way I can expand my ministry while still rejoicing where I am? Occasionally – and sometimes rightly – leaders feel like their giftedness is limited in their setting. The opportunities today, though, to expand your influence while staying in your current leadership seat are abundant. Write a blog. Self-publish a book. Start a internship program. Develop a ministry network. Dream a bit before you decide to leave.
- What do my mentors say? I’m assuming, of course, that you have others who know you well and pour into your life. If you trust them, then trust that you need to at least hear their thinking before you make a move.
- Is there hidden sin in my life? Unforsaken, unconfessed sin always blocks our ability to hear God’s voice clearly. Making a move without first repenting is a dangerous step; in fact, it usually means you only relocate your disobedience and guilt.
- If I leave, what would be my honest reason for leaving? Most of us can super-spiritualize our motivations and convince others of God’s leading – even when our reasons are much more complicated. At least be honest with yourself when you’re making a life decision.
There are two key mistakes American Christians tend to make when thinking about the intersection of religion and culture. The first is to have an attitude of a “majority” culture, a mindset that incorrectly conflates a civic morality with Christianity and seeks to build coalitions to “turn America back” to Christ. But there is another mistake too, and that is to have a fearful, hand-wringing siege mentality. While it’s true that religious liberty is genuinely imperiled, perhaps more than at any time since the revolutionary era, we will not be able to articulate our commitments in this arena if we don’t know how to differentiate between state persecution and cultural marginalization, between public oppression and personal offense.
Several years ago, I was flipping through magazines on an airplane when I came across a couple of pages that spiked my blood pressure. A beer advertisement was tagged with the headline, “Silent Nights Are Overrated.” A few minutes later, in a second publication, there was an advertisement for an outdoor grill which read: “Who Says It’s Better to Give Than to Receive?” My first reaction was a personal, if not tribal, offense. “Would they advertise in Saudi Arabia during Ramadan with the line ‘Fasting Is Overrated,’” I fumed, “or by asking in India, ‘Who Says Everything Is One With the Universe?” I was missing the point.
The truth is, these companies were trying to sell products, not offend constituencies. Taking shots at any group’s religious beliefs isn’t good economics. I’m willing to bet whoever dreamed up these ad campaigns didn’t “get” at all that they might be making fun of Jesus Christ. Madison Avenue probably didn’t trace through that the song “Silent Night” is about the holy awe of the dawning Incarnation in Bethlehem. To them, it probably seemed like just another Christmas song, part of the background music of the culture during this season. Saying it’s “overrated” probably didn’t feel any more “insensitive” to these copy-writers than making a joke about decking the halls or reindeer games. The writers probably never thought about that the statement “It is better to give than to receive” is a quotation from Jesus via the Apostle Paul (Acts 20:35). It probably just seemed to them like a Benjamin Franklin-type aphorism, along the lines of when someone says “scarlet letter” without recognizing Hawthorne or “to be or not to be” while not knowing the difference between Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn.
The post The Difference Between Being Offended and Being Persecuted appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
What leads people away from religion and into atheism? That’s the question that fascinated Larry Taunton so much that he launched a nationwide series of interviews with hundreds of college-age atheists.
His question was simple: “What led you to become an atheist?”
The answers were surprising, creating a completely unexpected composite sketch of American college-aged atheists. Here’s a summary from his article, “Listening to Young Atheists: Lessons for a Stronger Christianity.”
1. They had attended church: Most of them had a church background and had chosen atheism in reaction to Christianity.
2. The mission and message of their churches was vague: While there were many messages about doing good in the community, “they seldom saw the relationship between that message, Jesus Christ and the Bible.”
3. They felt their churches offered superficial answers to life’s difficult questions: Churches did not address questions like creation versus evolution, sexuality, reliability of the Bible, purpose of life, etc. Messages were bland, shallow, irrelevant and boring.
4. They expressed their respect for those ministers who took the Bible seriously: This is summed up in one student’s response: ”I really can’t consider a Christian a good, moral person if he isn’t trying to convert me.”
5. Ages 14-17 were decisive: Most embraced unbelief in the high school years.
6. The decision to embrace unbelief was often an emotional one: Although all gave rational reasons for becoming atheists, for most there were powerful emotional reasons too—usually associated with suffering.
7. The Internet factored heavily into their conversion to atheism: Instead of being “converted” through the popular New Atheists, most were influenced by Youtube videos and website forums.
So, what are the lessons for a stronger Christianity? Taking the above points in order:
1. The church has to evangelize its own as well as those outside. We can’t assume that just because kids go to church, they are saved and thus will continue to attend. Our first mission field is our own family and church. This also puts huge onus on professing Christians to believe, speak and act consistently because many who left the church were turned off by hypocrisy within it.
2. Our messages must be clear and Gospel-centered. All doctrine, practice, service and devotion must continually be tied to the center of the Gospel, Jesus Christ’s person and work.
The post What Led You to Become an Atheist? Some Surprising Answers appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
What do you think of when you read the words “Prosperity Gospel”? Odds are your stomach turns a bit as you think about the preachers on television that speak to very large crowds and appeal to even more in their books. More than likely you look at it as “out there” rather than “in here.” In one sense this is good. The shenanigans that some of those religious hucksters engage in should never be replicated in our churches. In another sense, however, it’s naive. One does not have to cruise around in a private jet or be dressed ostentatiously to qualify as a promoter of the prosperity gospel. It is more subtle. And it is more pervasive.
In its unabashed nakedness, the prosperity gospel is a damning heresy that is not a gospel at all. It is a Ponzi scheme concocted by those at the top to prey upon the weak and vulnerable. Preachers of this false gospel use God as a genie who is dispatched to give us stuff; as a result, the gospel gets reduced to getting more stuff. This message is primarily physical rather than spiritual and is about this (best) life now rather than the one to come. And most damning of all, it is about us rather than God. The cross of Christ is reduced to a stage prop to support the large tent meetings they hold. It is like they use Jesus’ band-with to hack in and launch spiritual viruses in the world.
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.
Here are a few ways that you can tell that you are nibbling at the hook of the prosperity gospel, without, perhaps, even knowing it.
(1) You are dissatisfied by the ordinary means of grace.
The Sunday gatherings of the Lord’s people are very unspectacular. We sing, read and respond to God’s Word together. We probably don’t walk out of church like we walk out of a movie saying, “Wow! That was spectacular! I can’t believe how it ended! I never saw that coming.” No, we do the same thing every week with some variation of songs or Scripture. We do this because God tells us to do it; he says it is good for us (Heb. 10:25). We trust him. But sometimes we want a little more. Dissatisfied by preaching, prayer and singing, we want it to be a little more “our style” and to fit “our tastes.” Soon, we find ourselves looking for that perfect place for us rather than the faithful place to God. Somehow it becomes our show. This subtle shift shows that we are at least susceptible to if not fully on board with prosperity thinking.
(2) You think more about God’s blessings than God himself.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am thankful for the innumerable blessings that are ours in Christ (Eph. 1:3). But we must remember that the blessings are not the end but a means to an end; they point us to God. It is God himself that is the ultimate blessing. You can see how this plays out when you lose something that God has given you (maybe a job, a relationship, health, opportunity, etc.). How do you react? Many times people get sideways with God as if he has changed. This preoccupation with created things instead of the Creator has the footprints of idolatry (Rom. 1:20-25). It is also at the heart of the prosperity gospel. Christians should be on guard for this type of unbiblical thinking in their church and in their lives.
(3) You avoid communion with God in the Word and in prayer.
Let’s get right down to it: Christianity is spiritual before it is physical. If you are restless about what you see then you will never be content in the One whom you cannot see. There is an epidemic of Bible negligence and prayerlessness in the church today. It is not because we are too busy, too smart or too whatever—it is because we do not want to have communion with God. I believe this is a demonstration of prosperity thinking. It is hard work and a real demonstration of faith and discipline to read your Bible and quiet your heart before the Lord in humble adoration, confession and petition. We are very distracted by our stuff and our craving for stuff (created things) and not so drawn to God (our Creator and Savior). This is prosperity thinking and it has gone viral in the church.
This weekend many churches will observe Global Hunger Sunday, and next week (October 16) is World Food Day, a worldwide event designed to increase awareness, understanding and informed, year‐around action to alleviate hunger. Here are nine things you need to know about one of the world’s most persistent, but solvable, global problems. 1. Global hunger refers to the want or scarcity of food in a country, aggregated to the world level. The related technical terms (e.g., those used in medicine) are malnutrition or undernutrition, both of which indicate a lack of some or all nutritional elements necessary for human health.
2. According to the United Nations World Food Programme, 1 in 8 people in the world do not get enough food to lead an active and healthy life. Over 800 million worldwide—equal to the population of the U.S. and the 28 member states of the European Union—are hungry.
3. Asia has the largest share of the world’s hungry people (some 552 million), but Sub-Saharan Africa remains the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment with one in four Africans (24.8 per cent) estimated to be hungry.
4. Hunger and malnutrition are the greatest threats to global health—more so than even AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis combined.
5. Children who are poorly nourished suffer up to 160 days of illness each year. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of the 10.9 million child deaths each year—five million deaths.
6. Undernutrition magnifies the effect of every disease, including measles and malaria. The estimated proportions of deaths in which undernutrition is an underlying cause are roughly similar for diarrhea (61 percent), malaria (57 percent), pneumonia (52 percent), and measles (45 percent).
7. One in four of the world’s children are stunted (below the fifth percentile of the reference population in height for age). In developing countries the proportion can rise to one in three. 80 percent of the world’s stunted children live in just 20 countries.
8. The world currently produces enough food for everyone on the planet to have at least 2,720 calories per person per day (the equivalent of 13.5 cups of rice). The number of calories each person needs every day varies depending on age and activity level, but the recommended average is 2,500 calories for men and 2,000 calories for women.
9. Since the early 1990s, the prevalence of undernourishment has fallen from 18.7 to 11.3 percent globally and from 23.4 to 13.5 percent for developing countries. There has likely never been a time in modern human history when such a large percentage of the population has been freed from chronic hunger.
Coalescing with Southern Baptists
|NAR “apostle” Cindy Jacobs telling “apostle” Samuel Rodriguez that
“we are in the birth canal for a great awakening.” (Source)
Just when you thought this election cycle couldn’t get any crazier. . . A report has just been issued regarding the latest activities of NAR “apostle” Samuel Rodriguez. He is now openly fraternizing with “apostlette” Cindy Jacobs. Rodriguez has an extensive history of morphing himself into a mainstream leadership role despite his open association with C. Peter Wagner’s dominionist New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) and its many offshoots and entities. For example, in 2014 Rodriguez was a featured speaker on a panel at the Southern Baptist Convention.
|Southern Baptist Convention 2014,
“Religious Freedom Is the New Civil Rights Issue, Samuel Rodriguez and Rick Warren Say” (Source)
In an Oct. 7 article by J.D. Hall titled “SBC Speaker Affirms Prophetess Cindy Jacob’s ‘Prophetic Ministry'” can be found some amazing video footage of Rodriguez “affirming the prophetic ministry of arch-Apostle, Cindy Jacobs, from just last week.” You have to see the video to believe it. Click HERE and scroll halfway down the article to view the embedded video:
Why is this so significant? Cindy Jacobs is a premier “apostle” of the NAR. She has been described by Wagner as the “national apostle” appointed over the United States:
Cindy Jacobs, who has been called a “prophet to the nations” is identified by C. Peter Wagner as “the U.S. national apostle” in his 2002 book Spheres of Authority: Apostles in Today’s Church. This book is one of the earlier attempts to describe his “New Apostolic Age” in which he calls the “New Apostolic Reformation” (NAR) – “the most radical change in the way of doing church since the Protestant Reformation back in the 16th Century.” In this book, he lays out the principle that his newly conceived “apostles” will be in charge of designated “spheres of authority” for “the task of implementing what God wants done on earth.” Wagner endows these “apostles” with supernatural gifting to hear new revelation directly from God…
Rodriguez has been a member of C. Peter Wagner’s International Coalition of Apostles, a network of apostles “convened by C. Peter Wagner with the stated goal of taking Christian dominion over society and government.” Rodriguez, along with Cindy Jacobs, has also been associated with Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative which he marketed as a “social Justice movement.”
The Oak Initiative list of strategy and objectives includes:
“to raise up effective leaders for all of the dominant areas of influence in the culture, including: government, business, education, arts and entertainment, family services, media, and the church.”
This is a reference to the “Reclaiming the Seven Mountains” campaign promoted by the NAR in order to take control over arts and entertainment, business, education, family, government, media, and religion. They are supposedly being reclaimed from the demonic forces which the NAR leaders say have taken control over these mountains of culture.
|Rodriguez and Rick Joyner’s The Oak Initiative summit, archived HERE|
In the opening remarks on the Rodriguez show Cindy Jacobs repeats a frequent NAR theme that “God has a dream for us.” This “God’s Dream” reference is off-repeated, particularly whenever there is a “social justice” agenda looming. This is no accident. Rodriguez has been associated with Lou Engle of The Call, who set up a “God’s Dream” youth rally on the Washington D.C. Mall in 2008. Here is the sort of “social justice” that Engle was planning:
“[a] dream of launching massive solemn assemblies of fasting and prayer” [that] will “release justice over the earth” and start prayer cells (called “prayer FURNACES”) that “will transform cities, finish the task of the Great Commission and prepare a way for Jesus to return to the planet to establish his kingdom forever and ever….”
|Rodriguez agreeing with Cindy Jacobs saying, “It is a dream and not a nightmare.”|
|Rodriguez: “We believe we are standing at the precipice of a new awakening”|
The two “apostles” above are referencing a “new awakening,” which is another NAR theme song for Dominion. Rodriguez then openly gushes over Cindy Jacobs, telling his audience she is a “legitimate instrument of God.” He even says he calls her “Momma Cindy.”
|Rodriguez: “One of the most anointed prophetic voices
in the kingdom of God, Dr. Cindy Jacobs”
Rodriguez then tells his audience to text their friends to watch his show because they are about to hear a “women of God” who has the “anointing of God” speak.
Watch this shocking video for yourself. It is archived in its entirety HERE.
The New Face of Social Justice
Why is all of this significant? Because Samuel Rodriguez is highly influential in American political circles, especially in his role as a Hispanic leader. He has also been able to mainstream himself into prominent evangelical leadership positions. On April 8, 2010 we published an article on this blog warning that that NAR was shifting into politics, boldly attempting to mainstream itself: “The Coalescing of the Christian Right with Apostolic Dominionism.” In that article Dr. Orrel Steinkamp, a longtime expert on the NAR, observed:
Samuel Rodriguez is an apostle who is also a passionate speaker/orator. He heads Wagner’s National Christian Hispanic Leadership Council and has also been invited to the Freedom Federation Summit at Liberty University April 15. Speaking earlier at a Rick Joyner’s Oak Initiative gathering at Fort Mill, with great emphasis, Rodriguez rallied the crowd asserting that the Oak Initiative, Joyner’s political action group, is “the New Jerusalem and also Washington DC. We will mobilize for cultural reformation, not just engagement. We will not be held hostage by a donkey or an elephant.”
Dr. Steinkamp also wrote an editorial on September 17, 2012 titled “NAR in the Political Limelight: A Theocratic Dominion Apostle Gains Political Exposure at the RNC” in which he documented Rodriguez’s longtime association with the NAR as well the many other hats that he wears.
|“At RNC, Samuel Rodriguez Prays for Holy Spirit Outpouring”|
And now it gets worse. J.D. Hall’s article states that Rodriguez, an ordained Assemblies of God minister, was recently a
keynote speaker at Russell Moore’s 2015 ERLC national conference last August. Rodriguez spoke on a panel for the 2014 SBC annual convention, with Russell Moore, David Platt and others (he was there by Moore’s invitation). Rodriguez co-wrote an article with Russell Moore in the Wall Street Journal on how evangelicals can win the Hispanic vote by lightening up on illegal immigration (which they so predictably call “immigrant bashing”). You might notice that Russell Moore is a recurring theme when it comes to Rodriguez’ platform among Southern Baptists.
Hall refers his readers to a 6/12/15 article by Jeff Maples titled “Russell Moore partnering with New Apostolic Reformation to advance the ‘Social Gospel.'” This article explains the common ground that Rodriguez is sharing with Southern Baptist leaders in advancing “Dominionism Lite,” a term we coined to describe a toned down Dominionist stance not unlike the old Social Gospel. We described it as “a cultural renewal, social gospel, eclectic cocktail that appeals to the the type of evangelical elite who aren’t off doing the wacky signs and wonders.” In other words, “Social Justice.” So Rodriguez is working with both the hard core and soft core Dominionists. Note: none of this is about the Gospel of Salvation.
Maples explained the significance of Rodriguez’s association with the Southern Baptists:
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) for the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC), has been at this for quite some time. He is known for using his high ranking positions in the Church to promote his social justice causes…. All of these causes diminish the importance of personal responsibility for one’s actions–personal responsibility, of which is a prerequisite to salvation in the Gospel.
Now, in the latest show of his positional authority, and intent to advance and propagate his cause through the Church, he has teamed up with social justice advocate and political activist, president of The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC), Samuel Rodriguez….
|Charisma magazine interview with Rodriguez,
who politically plays both Left and Right
This is quite a significant partnership, as the Southern Baptist Convention, and the ERLC are among the most influential evangelical organizations in the world. Rodriguez, and the NHCLC also have strong ties with the New Apostolic Reformation and Cindy Jacobs, a highly controversial and well known false teacher within American evangelicalism. Any true God-fearing, Bible-believing Christian should be running from this camp at full speed. So what does Rodriguez actually stand for? According to NHCLC website, their mission statement reads:
Joining the Christianity of Martin Luther King Jr. and Billy Graham. The Lamb’s Agenda reveals the crucial connection between biblical social justice and spiritual righteousness.
Maples’ article takes note of Rodriguez’s use of Martin Luther King’s “Dream” speech which has also been hijacked by the other “God’s Dream” proponents of the NAR as a motif for their aberrant views on “Social Justice.” The definition of “Social Justice” that Rodriguez and Jacobs are bringing to the table is a radical Dominionism. One writer described it quite accurately:
The Apostles’ Brand of Social Justice
The goal of these faith-based “social justice” initiatives is clearly spelled out in the writings and media of the movement. They teach that the cure for societal ills – poverty, corruption, crime, and even environmental degradation – is the expulsion of demons from society, mass evangelization, and Christian dominion. They believe that prayer events…, which bring together large numbers of people at one time for “corporate repentance,” supernaturally advances their agenda.
|Rodriguez and 7 mountains architect Lance Wallnau with other NAR leaders,
TheElijahList advertisement, 7/25/09
In his excellent article, Maples effectually refutes Rodriguez and his Southern Baptist friends’ call for “Social Justice”:
Our Lord Jesus Christ did not come to make the world a better place, and provide justice and equality to all people. He came to save people from their own sin, through repentance and trust in Him alone….
This intertwining of social justice and Christianity is a total abuse of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word. As if it isn’t enough to take the Gospel to the lost, calling them to repentance and salvation, and teaching them personal responsibility; Rodriguez believes it is the commission of the church to solve the social problems of the world. The root of the social problems in the world is sin (Galatians 5:19-21, Romans 3:23, Jeremiah 17:9, etc.). And that problem has already been solved, on the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Peter 3:21). And the solution is the Gospel–the Great Commission.
1. Kyle Mantyla, “Samuel Rodriguez Hails Cindy Jacobs As ‘A Legitimate Prophet Of God’,” 10/8/15, links removed. http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/samuel-rodriguez-hails-cindy-jacobs-legitimate-prophet-god Note that the Left is making this observation.
2. We couldn’t resist using the satirical term that the late Pastor Ken Silva coined for describing Cindy Jacobs and her outrageously wacky performances. See: http://apprising.org/2013/01/24/new-apostolic-reformation-apostlette-cindy-jacobs/ and http://apprising.org/2011/09/14/nar-apostlette-cindy-jacobs/ Note: If you google Cindy Jacobs on YouTube you will see some of her most notorious prophetic outbursts.
3. Rachel Tabachnick, “Samuel Rodriguez and the Oak Initiative – Marketing Religious Supremacism as Social Justice,” 9/2/11, http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/9/2/133338/8422/Front_Page/Samuel_Rodriguez_and_the_Oak_Initiative_Marketing_Religious_Supremacism_as_Social_Justice Note that Rodriguez attempted to deny his association with the ICA. Tabachnik set the record straight in her 9/24/11 article “Samuel Rodriguez, the New Apostolic Reformation, and Apostolic Government of the Church.” http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/9/24/155523/590
6. Bruce Wilson, in his article “Rise of the Charismatic Leaders Council,” Dec. 8. 2008, wrote: “Rodriguez claims to preside, as an apostle, over his own international apostolic Five Fold ministry network. But Rodriguez also, as the head of the National Hispanic Leadership Council (NHLC), represents up to ten million Hispanic protestant evangelicals and up to five million charismatic Catholics. Rodriguez and other top NHLC leaders are currently listed as advisory board members to Lou Engle’s The Call.” http://www.talk2action.org/story/2008/12/8/162939/009 See also Bruce Wilson’s 9/16/11 article “Rick Perry’s ‘The Response’ Boasted How Many Wagner Apostles? Let’s Count” http://www.talk2action.org/story/2011/9/16/144354/102/
7. “God’s Dream? A KINGDOM BUILDING DREAM” http://herescope.blogspot.com/2008/07/gods-dream.html
8. See our post “A Political Platform”: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/09/next-great-awakening.html
9. http://www.charismanews.com/politics/32148-samuel-rodriguez-says-obama-meeting-was-like-conversation-amongst-believers Read: “NAR in the Political Limelight: A Theocratic Dominion Apostle Gains Political Exposure at the RNC” by Dr. Orrel Steinkamp: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2012/09/nar-in-political-limelight.html
10. See our 6-part article series “The Next Great Awakening. . . Or Great Deadening?” detailing the New Apostolic Reformation’s involvement in attempting to create a “new awakening.”
Part 1: Rallying Around the Seven Mountains
Part 2: A Political Platform
Part 3: Building the 7 Mountains
Part 4: Concocting A Great Awakening
Part 5: The EMERGENT BLUEPRINT
Part 6: “The Emerging Order”
11. Tabachnik, “Samuel Rodriguez and the Oak Initiative,” Ibid.
12. “Mainstreaming Dominionism,” http://herescope.blogspot.com/2010/05/mainstreaming-dominionism.html
Here is a new clip on the real issue in the origins of life debate
- This guy says he had a vision of Jesus where Jesus asked for his forgiveness. Yeah, I’m not joking. Can we call this what it is? It’s blasphemy, and it is heresy. Bethel Church in Redding, CA is loaded with both.
- Is Jesus knocking on the door to your heart? Wait, is that what that verse really means?
- This week marked the anniversary of the martyrdom of William Tyndale.
- What does it mean to abide in Christ?
- I hadn’t heard about Jonathan Edwards‘ blank Bible. Very interesting.
- This lesbian bishop (the world’s first, apparently) wants to remove the cross and replace it with a prayer space for Muslims.
- Mike Abendroth recently preached a wonderful sermon on the Book of Life.
- Two huge motivations to spur you to pursue holiness.
- Don Green preaches on the true colors of sin from Ephesians 5:
- Former Calvinist Austin Fischer, writing a guest post on Roger Olson’s blog, admits that monergism may be true, but it isn’t necesary:
Because when one realizes every creature—not to mention space-time itself!!!—is sustained, nanosecond by nanosecond, by the wild and unconditioned generosity of God, monergism is simply unnecessary. It might still be true, but it is not necessary. The infinite God, Being behind all being, does not need monergism to protect his glory.
- In response to a question about Lutheranism, Calvinism, and the Renaissance, a teacher writes:
The Reformation remains one of the most important developments in history, and its occurrence during the years of the Renaissance was no accident. Luther and Calvin did not so much respond to the challenges of the Renaissance as they exploited it for their own purposes, irrespective of how one views the split of the Church into two major halves.
- Jamaican journalist Ian Boyne finds Calvinism to be “intellectually revolting and repulsive,” especially the belief that the unsaved will suffer eternal, conscious torment: “Calvinists, particularly, have no qualms about teaching the doctrine of an ever-burning hell. In fact, they would be quite offended at my temerity in questioning this ‘clear biblical truth.'” Offended? No. Saddened? Yes.
- Joel Beeke, president of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, thinks evangelicals today would do well to learn from the Reformers and Puritans: “They consistently aim to apply the Word of God to the heart, and yet do so by illuminating the mind and addressing the conscience with the claims of truth.”
- Can a sound biblical theology be maintained without Calvinism? Dr. Tom Nettles writes, “Though the human heart can pervert any system of thought, the non-Calvinist system in its emphasis on heightening human autonomy and diminishing divine efficiency creates wider berths for deception about the character of salvation.”
- “As a very young Christian,” writes Mark Shea, “I had just had my first taste of the destructive power of Calvinism and its cold diagrammatic god that might or might not love you depending on whether he felt like capriciously damning you.”
Wisdom For Your Weekend: your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.
Upcoming Book of the Week
Do Ask, Do Tell, Let’s Talk: Why and How Christians Should Have Gay Friends, Brad Hambrick. This is a sorely needed book, and I [Chris] would trust only a handful of people to handle the topic well. Brad Hambrick is just one of those people. For Christians who want to know how to hold to their convictions while still loving their gay neighbors—how to be full of both grace and truth—this will be an indispensable little book.
Articles of the Week
Boredom: The Last Privilege of a Free Mind, Gayatri Devi. You probably don’t like boredom. It’s boring, after all. And there’s always that sneaking suspicion that only boring people get bored. So not only is boredom uncomfortable, but it takes on tones of guilt and shame as well. Devi offers a perspective that may help our perpetually active generation: boredom isn’t a curse; it’s actually a mark of freedom. So lean into it.
Three Things Not to Do After You Preach, Dave Harvey. Preparing to deliver a sermon is tough and draining work. But the biggest challenge, according to many pastors, is actually the let-down after the sermon is over. Whether the sermon went well or poorly, many preachers walk away from the pulpit in a position of weakness and discouragement. Harvey has three words of encouragement for those moments.
Persuading Others to Plant Churches, Joe Thorn. It turns out that being a sending church isn’t a new phenomenon after all. None other than Charles Spurgeon both preached about sending and made a habit of it at his Metropolitan Tabernacle. “We encourage our members to leave us to found other Churches,” Spurgeon says, “Nay, we seek to persuade them to do it.” And Spurgeon walked the talk: they planted more than 200 churches.
Ten Ways to Resolve Conflict with Your Pastor, Matthew Holst. What? Conflict with your pastor? Surely this is a mistake! you’re probably saying. Or, sadly, probably not. Pastors are fallen folks, too, and conflict with them is inevitable. But if more people reacted as Holst recommends, we’d see a lot fewer church splits. (And, as a bonus, nearly everything he says would be helpful in any conflict situation.)
On The Lighter Side
Survivors of Dad Jokes, John Smith. Nope, not sorry.
Wisdom For Your Weekend is presented to you by Chris Pappalardo, with occasional guidance from J.D. Greear. This is our attempt to reflect Proverbs 9:9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”
Weekly Apologetics Bonus Links (10/02 – 10/09)
• Is Morality Objective?
• How Does One Develop the Mind?
• My Goal in Every Conversation with Mormons
• Tons of Great Biblical Training Classes Free
• Doug Wilson: A Christian Response to Atheism
• Video: The Abortion Debate- Scott Klusendorf vs James Croft
• Why the Information in Our DNA Points to the Existence of God
• Debate Video: David Wood vs. Shabir Ally- “Is Jesus the Son of God?”
• Michael Strauss lectures on scientific evidence for a Creator at UT Dallas
• Video: Daniel- Standing Strong for God in a Secular Society by Dr. John Lennox
• Debate Video: William Lane Craig vs. Marcus Borg- “Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?”
• Five Investigative Principles That Will Help You Be A Better Christian Case Maker
• Four ways that the progress of experimental science conflicts with atheism
• Why the Beginning of the Universe Cannot Be Explained from “Inside the Room” (FREE Bible Insert)
I think this is a great article to read after having just been at Revive ’15.
Elisabeth Elliot’s entire life was beautifully counter-cultural. Here are just three of the many lessons we can learn from her example.
This is a powerful practice, and when I implement it, I notice a difference in my soul. I can also say that the staff at Revive Our Hearts are so good at living this out.
These lists are a good reminder for us single girls, even if we have heard them more times than we can count.
Here are eight reasons why Christians should do things like “play banjo and decorate cakes, knit sweaters and make movies, do photography and write poems.” I love that we get to do these kinds of things in God’s design.
Lisa sat there, one eye squinting a bit and her heart aflutter but she couldn’t tell if it was a good flutter or not. Romantic relationships are like that. You expect to know exactly how you’ll feel at those crucial moments, and then, when they come or might be coming, it’s nothing like you thought. At least that was what it was like for Lisa as she sat across the table from Jacob–the most steady boyfriend she’d ever had. What prompted Lisa’s eye and heart to misbehave was a very short sentence that Jacob uttered to her in what she thought was a seemingly casual moment. Jacob’s statement was unfortunately not unique or creative, and was something that is said by countless Christian men to their girlfriends when they’re nearing the end of college and beginning to make life plans. “God told me we should get married,” Jacob said with enough strength to mean it–and with enough of a pause between, “God told me” and “we should…” for Lisa to deduce that he wasn’t so sure about what he was saying.
Yet as I think about my son’s future, and even about life today, I have to ask the question: What effect does “social media” technology have on the way we view the church? On the way we conceive of life in Christ’s body? Much of social media is positive, of course. And the church has certainly leveraged this technology to advance the cause of Christ. Moreover, I can’t miss the irony of writing about the adverse effects of technology on a website. Nevertheless, I do have some concerns—and so should you.
If you’ve been in a Bible study or spent more than about 10 minutes surfing pop theology writings, you have probably run across a claim of this sort. The idea is that with so many different readings of Scripture, it’s either arrogant or hopeless to think we can come to a determinate, or correct understanding of it. In other words, the mere fact of interpretive disagreement ought to put us off from claiming anything very strong for our interpretations of Scripture.
Amber Van Schooneveld:
What I’ve only very recently wondered, which may seem rather obvious to others, is whether I have unquestioningly bought into a fairy tale version of friendship. Now that I’m closer to 40 than 30, most women I know no longer believe in Prince Charming. At least, they no longer believe that marrying “the one” will solve all their problems and make life delicious and perfect all the time. Husbands are imperfect and can’t bear the weight of fairy tale expectations.
It is also true that many modern songs are scatty, cloying, fluffy, incoherent, repetitive, flighty, bumbling, empty, careless, shallow, heretical, repetitive, nauseating, anaemic or repetitive. The fact that they nevertheless make their way into our times of corporate worship is not primarily the fault of the songwriters (although some of them should know better), since they are simply writing songs which express their praise to God, and if the rest of us want to moan about that, we should simply write better ones. No: the fault lies partly with the worship leaders who choose drivel and, by force of personality and microphone, force the congregation to sing it; and, even more culpably, with the elders who say and do nothing about it, preferring a smorgasbord of new and catchy melodies to the weighty and substantial songs which will actually teach sound doctrine to those who love Jesus, and preach the gospel to those who don’t.
Science Confirms Technology is Ruining Your Love Life | The Federalist
“Not only are we wrecking our love lives, we are literally injuring ourselves all the time because we can’t kick our cell phone habit.”
Savings Souls Takes Toll on Pastors’ Health | Ledger
“Turns out full-time church ministry actually can kill the people who do it – but it does so slowly.”
5 Warning Signs for the Church in a Facebook Culture | Michael Kruger
“What effect does “social media” technology have on the way we view the church? On the way we conceive of life in Christ’s body?”
Why Digitizing Classrooms Won’t Work | The Federalist
“Research supports the notion that educators should increase the use of handwriting and cursive writing to boost cognition and increase performance.”
My Resignation Letter to my Congregation | TGC
“Though it’s quite difficult to admit our limitations and vulnerabilities when it comes to our vocations, Russ opens up to his church family about their growing pastoral needs and his evolving sense of call.”
Teachable Teachers | R C Sproul
“It is bad enough when students or parishioners are not teachable, but there is something even worse. I’m talking about teachers who are not teachable.”
Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions: Helping Them Understand Loss, Sin, Tragedies, and Other Hard Topics by Elyse Fitzpatrick $1.99.
On Guard: Preventing and Responding to Child Abuse at Church by Deepak Reju $3.03.
You, Your Family and the Internet: What every Christian in the digital age ought to know by David Clark $3.99.
Today’s Kindle deals include two from Christian Focus, a trusted publisher: How Prayer Impacts Lives by Catherine MacKenzie ($1.99) and Input Output by Jo Boddam-Whetham ($0.99). You may also be interested in I Will by Thom Rainer ($2.99).
You can now purchase Andrew Peterson’s latest album, The Burning Edge of Dawn.
And while we’re on the subject of music, a reader pointed me to this EP by Dan opdeVeigh. You can listen to it for free on Bandcamp. My only complaint is that there are only 4 songs.
Michael Kruger takes on a common fallacy. “In the ongoing debates about the reliability of early Christian manuscripts, and whether they have been transmitted with fidelity, it is often claimed that early Christian scribes were amateurs, unprofessional, and some probably couldn’t even read.”
Sticking with Michael Kruger, he has also written on a very different topic: “What effect does ‘social media’ technology have on the way we view the church? On the way we conceive of life in Christ’s body?”
Westminster Books has a great deal on the book, study guide, and DVD for Tim Keller’s excellent book The Meaning of Marriage.
And speaking of marriage, we have all heard of these marriage proposals, right? “God told me we should get married,” Jacob said with enough strength to mean it—and with enough of a pause between, “God told me” and “we should…” for Lisa to deduce that he wasn’t so sure about what he was saying.
This Day in 1971. Russell Moore was born. Happy 44th birthday, Russell! You can wish him a happy birthday at @DrMoore.
If this is the future of restaurants, I think I’ll just eat at home, thanks.
And if this is the future of medication, I think I’ll just take my chances without. Yet a few years from now, both will probably seem perfectly normal.
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
A Plea for Christian Parents to not be Idiots – “Recently on Facebook, I read this screaming head line, Mom’s Angry Note to Teacher About Islam Assignment Goes Viral. It links to a story about a hysterical mother in Bakersfield, CA, (about a 90 min. drive north from where I live) who believes creeping sharia is overtaking the schools.”
God and Evil: Why the Ultimate Cause is not the Chargeable Cause – “Several weeks ago, I began a series of posts by outlining some foundational biblical teaching about God’s decree. We examined numerous passages of Scripture that speak of God’s decree as eternal, unconditional, unchangeable, and exhaustive. As a result, we concluded that God is properly said to be the ultimate cause of all things. As the Westminster Confession states, “God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass” (WCF, 3.1).”
Is the Social Gospel the Whole Gospel? – “You wouldn’t tell your children, ‘Bathe regularly; if necessary, use water.’ Nor would you advise a friend, ‘Be a faithful husband; if necessary, love your wife.’ Those redundant instructions defy logic. They also beg the question about what other means you would employ to accomplish those goals. You might as well tell someone, ‘Stay alive; if necessary, breath oxygen.’ And yet many Christians rally around a similarly illogical statement when it comes to evangelism. ‘Preach the gospel; if necessary, use words,’ is a mantra that is a darling of social gospel activists. That quote, wrongly attributed to Francis of Assisi, is wielded when it’s time to poke zealous evangelists in the eye, or rebrand social work as a form of evangelism. Social gospel advocates like Rick Warren and Jim Wallis love to use it.”
A brief word about the ACBC conference and the protest – “This week I gave a couple of talks at the annual conference of the Association of Certified Biblical Counselors (ACBC). The conference themes were transgender and homosexuality, and I gave one address on each topic. Rosaria Butterfield, Sam Allberry, Heath Lambert, Albert Mohler, Stuart Scott, Owen Strachan, and others also addressed the 2,000 people who gathered for the conference.”
Open Tree of Life Summarizes Evolutionary Beliefs – “At last there is an online database consolidating many evolutionary trees of life into one authoritative version. Its public unveiling was hailed in headlines, the popular press promising you could now easily find out “how related you are to a wombat . . . or an amoeba.’1 The ‘Open Tree of Life’ is the product of a study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). An editable online database, its creators consider the Open Tree of Life to be ‘version 1.0.’ They hope it will become a Wikipedia-like resource for all. This database is the next step in the drive to make biological classification—taxonomy—reflect evolutionary beliefs about what organisms evolved from instead of what they are.”
Trip Lee – First Five Years 2015 | 1 Timothy 4:16
Pastor Emilio talking to Jake
Apologies for Steve Harvey
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
Christian Headlines Daily – Friday, October 9, 2015
Homeschool Family Sues New Jersey for $60 Million after Social Worker Enters House without Warrant
Italian Missionary Kidnapped in the Philippines
South Carolina Churches Providing Aid to Flood Victims
Vatican Considers Ordaining Female Deacons
Three More Assyrian Christians Beheaded by Islamic State
‘War Room’ Remains Popular at Box Office
Former Muslims Who Found Christ at Hillsong Denied Protection Visas in Australia
Survey Finds Most Americans, Religious or Not, Believe in a Creator
Rare KJV Bible Found in Cupboard of Church in Wales
Hugh Jackman Says He is a Christian and Dedicates Each Performance to God
Be Cautious of Science Driven by Media Hype
Trusting God for Today in an Uncertain Time
Historic Criminal Justice Reform: Back the Sentencing Reform and Corrections Act
Smugglers Seek to Sell Nuclear Material to ISIS
Tethered to Technology—Escaping the IT Trap
READING: Matthew 12:1-21, Mark 3, Luke 6
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: Jesus called 12 disciples in whom He invested Himself. They were an interesting bunch, actually. They often argued among themselves about who was the greatest. Some requested the best seats in God’s kingdom. Sometimes these men failed miserably, like when they could not cast a demon out of a boy. All of them said they’d die for Jesus, yet they all fled at His arrest. One would deny knowing Him. Another would betray Him.
Seems amazing that He would call them, doesn’t it? But, here’s what we learn in Luke 6: Jesus prayed all night long before calling these men. He sought the Father’s guidance, and the Father led Him to this crew. Jesus then called them to be with Him, to preach the Word, and to cast out demons.
Luke 6:12-13 During those days He went out to the mountain to pray and spent all night in prayer to God. When daylight came, He summoned His disciples, and He chose 12 of them—He also named them apostles.
Mark 3:14-15 He also appointed 12—He also named them apostles—to be with Him, to send them out to preach, and to have authority to drive out demons.
The point for me is a word about mentoring and discipling. When we invest in others — and we must, I believe, as followers of Jesus — we must pray before we choose our mentees. God might, you see, call us to invest in a few knuckleheads. He might direct us to men who struggle. He might even call us to invest in someone who denies knowing us. Or even stabs us in the back.
But, still we must pray and follow His will, for God sees in others what we may not see in them. He sees what He plans to do rather than only what we see today. Mentoring thus becomes a faith commitment — a willingness to see others with the eyes of God.
Pray. Look around today. See if God is calling you to reach out to someone that surprises you. What that person becomes someday won’t surprise God.
ACTION STEPS: Do pray and look around today. Ask God to give you eyes to see what He sees in others. Surprise somebody with an expression of love and encouragement.
PRAYER: “God, I am grateful that You see in us what we cannot see in ourselves. You see what You plan to do. Help me to see the same in somebody else today.”
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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