What The Heidelberg Liturgy Teaches Us About Grace, Faith, And Sanctification
The key difference between the penitent and the impenitent is not good works. It is Spirit-wrought new life and Spirit-wrought true faith in Christ. There is an order to the Reformed confession of the faith. The Holy Spirit is the Lord and Giver of life. He gives new life to his elect, and with new life he gives faith, and through faith he creates a mystical union between the believer and the risen Christ and out of that new life, true faith, and union come the fruits of sanctity and good works. That order is reflected not only in our confessional documents but also in our liturgical materials.
“I’d Rather Go to Hell Than be With You!”
It is tempting to think that if I’m doing it wrong then I should stop, or I should alter the message. We don’t have that luxury. We are called His ambassadors for a reason. We cannot alter the message, remain silent, or represent Him the wrong way. We must strive to be like Christ as we present Him to the world. May we never hear the words “I’d rather go to Hell than be with you!”
2 Motivations for Pursuing Holiness
It’s one thing to ransom someone from slavery in this world. Many have performed this gracious act, and we thank God for it. But how do we ransom people from slavery to sin? How much do we pay to ransom them from death and hell? For such a transaction, silver and gold are of no value. There is an economy wherein the only currency is the blood of Christ.
Nine Reasons He Didn’t Stop the Shootings
Nothing catches our LORD by surprise because He has ordained all that is to come to pass for His own glory. The mature believer rejoices in this, knowing that God truly is God. All things are under His control, from our lives that are filled with regular trials, to the kings who rule over us, to the shootings and death of believers that fill the news. The mature believer understands this and knows that our lives on this side of glory are not our endgame. Glory with our Savior is the endgame and before those nine faced their deaths on Thursday, they may have not realized that.
A Review: Crowned
This book is ideal for those whose ministry is in a church context where there are many who are unchurched. It would be a useful tool for a spiritual mentor to use in a discipleship relationship with a new believer. The writing is clear, practical, and Biblical. Reading through Crowned, you feel as though Melissa is a friend, teaching you about who God is, what he has done through Christ, and who you are as a result. “My goal for this book is to help women uncover foundational truths about their personal identity as one crowned and commissioned by the King of the world” (p.45). In Crowned, she does just that.
How the Other Half Reads: What I Learned from a Book on Manhood
Rather than pursuing biblical masculinity in order to reach Christ, men should pursue Christ first and become the men God has already made them to be. This is Pyle’s banner, and it bears a striking resemblance to Hannah Anderson’s conclusion in Made for More. There, she invites women to recover their primary identity as being made in God’s image.
The Preacher and His Technology
My aim in this article is to help preachers use technology in such a way as to get the most out of this willing servant, but also to avoid it becoming a damaging tyrant. To do that, we will honestly face some of the dangers of technology in sermon preparation; then we will outline a number of ways technology can help in sermon preparation; finally, I’ll give you a brief description of the primary ways in which I use technology in sermon preparation.
The Wave of the Future
I am fortunate: my ‘day job’ is something which pays a living wage, which I love doing, and which offers significant overlap with my pastoral work. Most other bivocational pastors I know do not enjoy such privilege. They drive buses or work office jobs or even (in one case) run a ranch in order to put bread on the table. They have to fit pastoral life and sermon preparation into otherwise difficult schedules. I also have some solid elders who understand that their job description is somewhat expanded in practice from what it might be at other. wealthier churches.
Video Series Urges Abuse Survivors to ‘Step Out of the Shadows’
Few problems are as pervasive, yet shrouded in secrecy as domestic violence.
XXX Church: Seven things more popular than porn
XXX church has shared statistics about porn usage over the last 12 months, showing work is the most popular place to watch porn.
Matt Chandler: Did Jesus really go to hell?
Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Texas, tackled the question of whether Jesus actually descended into hell at his death, in a sermon on the Apostles Creed, according to The Christian Post.
Jindal: America Needs ‘Revival’ Not Gun Control
The presidential campaign season is keeping the newly revived gun control debate alive. But one candidate is trying to revive a completely different debate — the one about the spiritual condition of America.
Beware the 4 Pastors of the Apocalypse
Like the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, beware these four pastors who bring untold calamity on whatever church they inhabit.
10 Things Every Teenage Girl Needs to Know
There are so many things I know now, that I wish I could have known then. Here are 10 things I wish every teenage girl could hear.
How Should Christians Handle Halloween?
Joe Thorn details his family’s thought process with Halloween, factoring in both his past in the occult, and the helpful ways they could engage in their neighborhood. http://www.joethorn.netwww.christianity.com
Hindu extremists focus on Christian influence in Nepal
Hindu nationalists say Christians are a corrupting influence in Nepal.
Middle East (CAM) — Light in the darkness: ISIS member comes to Christ.
Militants bring terror to refugee camps, disguising themselves as refugees. Regardless, indigenous missionaries share Christ, and an ISIS member is saved.
How Obama Ushered in the New Age of Christian Martyrdom
Everywhere that U.S. leadership helped Islamic jihadis topple secular autocrats in the name of “democracy and freedom,” indigenous Christian minorities are forced either to convert to Islam or die.
Many are accepting death.
Israel makes massive discovery of oil in the Golan Heights. Is this a prelude to the “War of Gog & Magog”? – Joel Rosenberg
It has been a dramatic month here in Israel, and we’re only eleven days in.
At the moment, we’re experiencing a rash of violence, including a series of stabbings by Arab terrorists, Arab rioting in various cities, and other attacks against Jewish people. Last night, terrorists in Gaza also fired a series of rockets at southern Israel.
Moscow on the Mediterranean
As we consider these events through the lens of Bible prophecy, we need to take the 10,000 ft. view because there are many things to consider. There are alliances being forged between Russia, Iran, Syria, China, and others that is very concerning. In our 10,000 ft. view of the region, there are a few key factors we should consider:
Despisers of Good – Terry James
There is something going on that I believe can no longer be considered anomaly. It smacks ominously of forewarning found within the apostle Paul’s perilous times prophecy of 2 Timothy 3: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be…despisers of those that are good” (2Timothy 3:1-2a, 6f)
Although the signs have been on the cultural and societal horizon for years, the manifestation of Paul’s forewarning became clearer during the school shooting in Littleton, Colorado, April 20, 1999. It was the first time in such a nationwide way that hatred for Jesus Christ raised its monstrous head, producing martyrdom for the cause of Christ in America.
Joel Osteen’s Heretical “I Am” Mantra
I cannot stand to watch Osteen because I know what he teaches is a reprehensible distortion of true Christianity. Over the past decade, Osteen has intentionally crafted his message to appeal to the widest audience. He now rarely uses Scripture references in his sermons. He is very hesitant to discuss sin as a common part of life, and he promotes a deity that allows everyone to go to heaven.
His core message is the New Age power of attraction. If you maintain a positive confession, good things will automatically come your way.
The Fatal Mistake of Pastors Who Don’t Preach About Hell
I’m troubled by the lack of talk about, writing about, preaching about, and deeply held conviction regarding the reality of hell by pastors today.
Why is this happening?
We Pastors Want To Appear Compassionate And Inclusive
Rebel cardinals accuse pope of stacking synod cards
The Global Post reports:
Conservative cardinals have accused Pope Francis of stacking the cards against them in an ongoing battle over issues including the Church’s approach to gays and to divorced and remarried believers, it emerged Monday.
In a letter sent to the pontiff on October 5, the opening day of a Church synod on the family, a group of cardinals described procedures for three weeks of discussions as “designed to facilitate predetermined results on important disputed questions.”
The ostensibly private (but quickly leaked) letter was delivered to the pope by Australian Cardinal George Pell and reportedly signed by peers including the archbishops of Toronto and New York, Thomas Collins and Timothy Dolan, and arch-Vatican conservative Carlo Caffarra, the archbishop of Bologna.
“Well at least is was supposed to,” Bill Muehlenberg grumbles. “But it seems another nut job Christian outfit was caught out with yet another false prediction of the end of the world. Will these folks never learn? Not only do they make a laughing stock out of the Christian faith, but they also cause many believers […]
Peter wrote this epistle to be circulated among Christian congregations in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). He wrote to them about their faith, their hope, and their life living in this world—God’s world—as those who have been delivered out of Egypt, as it were, saved by grace alone, through faith alone about how to conduct […]
Skeptical Climate Change Is Real? These 20 Academics Think You Should Be Prosecuted
The Daily Signal reports:
Are you skeptical of human-caused global warming or climate change like many respected scientists and climate experts? Then you should be prosecuted like a Mafia mob boss, according to 20 academics at ivory towers like Columbia, Rutgers, and the University of Washington.
Apparently, these professors either don’t believe in the First Amendment or are profoundly ignorant of the basic rights it protects. They recently wrote an open letter to President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking for anyone who questions the climate-change dogma to be criminally prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act because they have “knowingly deceived the American people about the risks of climate change.”
Obama’s former pastor accuses Israel of practising apartheid
According to Christian Today:
Palestinians fighting to keep their homeland are facing “one of the most egregious injustices in the 20th and 21st centuries,” a controversial pastor linked to President Obama claimed this weekend.
Rev Jeremiah Wright led Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago from 1972 to 2008, and was once Barack Obama’s long-time pastor. The President resigned his membership of the church in May 2008 after intense media scrutiny of some of Wright’s more controversial statements, including his assertion that the US government had “failed the vast majority of her citizens of African descent” and should be damned.
The pragmatic calculation is to deny Christ. To take a shot in the kneecap, a ride to the hospital, and return home to the embrace of your family. To live to provide and care for them all the remaining days of your earthly life. But Christianity isn’t pragmatic. It is a word of folly. The […]
Throughout my years in ministry, I’ve encountered many people who have claimed to be Atheist or Agnostic. As Christians, it’s important to know how to communicate the Gospel to unbelievers in a logical way. This video is designed to take you through a progression of logical arguments that will help lead you to conclude there is a Truth that can both be known and experienced.
To watch this life changing sermon, click here.
When we look back over the last few years, it seems we are seeing a completely different America these days. Who would have thought a few years back that we would see a full frontal assault on Biblical Christianity in America–a land established under Judeo-Christian law and principles? But that is exactly what is happening. […]
James Emery White
When we take verses out of context and apply a meaning that was not the intent of the author, it will result in unbiblical practices such as “binding and losing” Satan and his demons. Context, context, context! By W.E. Nunnally This article discusses the popular Pentecostal/charismatic practice of binding and loosing certain attitudes or dispositions, […]
Christianity means change is possible. Deep, fundamental change. It is possible to become tender-hearted when once you were callous and insensitive. It is possible to stop being dominated by bitterness and anger. It is possible to become a loving person no matter what your background has been.
The Bible assumes that God is the decisive factor in making us what we should be. With wonderful bluntness the Bible says, “Put away malice and be tenderhearted.” It does not say, “If you can . . . ” Or: “If your parents were tender-hearted to you . . . ” Or: “If you weren’t terribly wronged or abused . . . ” It says, “Be tender-hearted.”
This is wonderfully freeing. It frees us from the terrible fatalism that says change is impossible. It frees us from mechanistic views that make our backgrounds our destinies.
If I were in prison and Jesus walked into my cell and said, “Leave this place tonight,” I might be stunned, but if I trusted his goodness and power, I would feel a rush of hope that freedom is possible. If he commands it, he can accomplish it.
If it is night and the storm is raging and the waves are breaking high over the pier, and the Lord comes to me and says, “Set sail tomorrow morning,” there is a burst of hope in the dark. He is God. He knows what he is doing. His commands are not throw-away words.
His commands always come with freeing, life-changing truth to believe. For example: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other [that’s the command], just as God in Christ also has forgiven you [that’s the life-changing truth]. Therefore be imitators of God [command], as beloved children [life-changing truth]; and walk in love [command], just as Christ also loved you, and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma [life-changing truth]” (Ephesians 4:32–5:2).
There is life-changing power in the truths of this text. Ponder them with me as you pray for that power to change you.
1. God adopted us as his children.
We have a new Father and a new family. This breaks the fatalistic forces of our “family of origin.” “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, he who is in heaven” (Matthew 23:9).
I once heard a young man quote Hebrews 12:10–11 with tears of deep conviction and great joy because they assured him that he was not doomed to think of God in terms of his abusive earthly father: “They [our earthly fathers] disciplined us for a short time as seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, so that we share his holiness. All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.”
They did this . . . but he does that. This is a life-changing truth. We can know it, believe it, and be changed by it, no matter what kind of earthly fathers we have. God reveals himself in his word to revolutionize our thinking about his fatherhood. We are not cursed to think in the old categories if our upbringing was defective.
2. God loves us as his children.
We are “loved children.” The command to imitate the love of God does not hang in the air; it comes with power: “Be imitators of God as loved children.” “Love!” is the command and “being loved” is the power.
3. God has forgiven us in Christ.
Be tender-hearted and forgiving just as God in Christ forgave you. What God did for us becomes the power to change. He forgave us. That opens a relationship of love and a future of hope. And does not tender-heartedness flow from a heart overwhelmed with being loved undeservedly and being secured eternally? The command to be tender-hearted has more to do with what God has done for you than what your mother or father did to you. You are not enslaved to your past.
4. Christ loved you and gave himself up for you.
“Walk in love just as Christ loved you.” The command to walk in love comes with life-changing truth that we are loved. At the moment when there is a chance to love, and some voice says, “You are not a loving person,” you can say, “Christ’s love for me makes me a new kind of person. His command to love is just as surely possible for me as his promise of love is true for me.”
My plea is that you resist fatalism with all your might. No, with all God’s might. Change is possible. Pursue it until you are perfected at the coming of Christ.
I’ve stated publicly that every author of parenting books should be slapped.
With a blunt object, such as a frozen cod or old Dream Theater CD.
Because they all make Christian parenting seem so simple. As if “Step 1 + Thing 2 = Godly, Obedient Children”. Like godly parenting comes down to a holy formula that, if followed correctly, will produce venerable saints on par with Mother Theresa and St. Francis of Assisi.
As every parent of real, human children knows, parenting is muuuuccchhh more complicated. In fact, every day, Christian parents progress through the THREE stages of parenting.
SHEPHERDING A CHILD’S HEART
This stage, which lasts anywhere between 4 minutes and 4 hours, is the Promised Land of Christian parenting. I am cheerful, gentle, and heavenly-minded. My children are wonderfully compliant, and get along with each other like hipsters and insisting you’re not a hipster.
If an issue does arise, I patiently guide my children through the caverns of their hearts, helping them explore motives and repent appropriately. Discipline is administered out of a purely benevolent heart.
My house is a little utopia. Like Eden, except we’re all wearing clothes.
NETFLIXING A CHILD’S HEART*
This stage is birthed from the collapse of STAGE 1. The utopia has shattered and now we are living in a post Berlin Wall fallout.
Peaceful relations start to break down between the parents and children, and the parents begin to get slightly desperate. Panic begins to set as the parents forsee the complete war that is on the horizon. A storm is brewing. Winter is coming.
A buffer is needed. A mediator. Something to temporarily distract the children from the general angst that is beginning to foment in their hearts.
That something is Netflix.
While not quite as biblical as shepherding the hearts of my children, Netflixing the heart of my children is a legitimate option when things begin to go south. If I can’t tame the sinful hearts of my children, perhaps Fluttershy from My Little Pony can (yes, I am a grown man who can name the ponies in My Little Pony).
This stage is the tipping point. At any given moment, peace and order could be restored.
Or all hell could break loose.
PRISON RULING A CHILD’S HEART
At a certain point, usually at bedtime, all bets are off. Anarchy has descended upon the house, and my children are behaving like the girl in The Exorcist. There is no shepherding. There is no Netflixing.
It’s time for prison rules.
You will stay in your bed at all times. You will not talk. You will not joke. You will not make farting noises. You will not smuggle contraband toys under your covers. Anything you say, do, or think, can and will be used against you.
If you break my rules, you will feel my wrath.
After bedtime, I am not to be toyed with.
I am a dictator, and this is my regime.
THE CIRCLE OF PARENTING
Eventually my children will return to stage 1, restarting The Circle of Parenting (patent pending).
Then it all starts again.
Now that I think about it, The Circle of Parenting would be a great book title.
* I owe this title to Ted Kluck
Hashtags are very popular now-a-days, aren’t they? This is funny: I tagged the word “godly” in a tweet on our Twitter account the other day and 80 percent of the tweets that were posted under the tag “godly” said “where are all the godly men at?” Then I did a Google search on the question. And I realized there were thousands of girls who were wondering the same thing.
So where are all the godly men?
Well in answer to that question, I wrote this article.
The answers in all the articles I found were about how pastors, mentors or parents could “fix the men” and their problems by talking to the boys and men about how to help them. The rest of the articles were how girls could find a Christian guy. The whole time I was thinking to myself “those poor guys!”
If we are to help the men at all, girls will need to respect the men and treat them like men. We cannot go on asking them “why aren’t you godlier?” This only demeans them and robs them of respect and honor. The question alone hurts and weakens the men in our generation.
We must make them feel needed and strong. We will need to step down from the commanding feminist role that women have been so long engaged in and give the leading role back to the men who are under God and God alone.
Every good Christian girl is wondering, “Where are the manly men in this world?” “Are there men out there besides the high-school boys who are just after drama and media?” “Are there men who love the Lord and want to raise a family like me, and if so, then where are they?”
Well, girls, I’m sorry I have to be the one to break the news to you, but it’s not the boys that are missing. It’s you. What?! Bear with me. Godly men are out there, but it’s not up to you to find them. It’s not up to you to know where they are. It’s not even your place to ask where they are! Because by asking you are failing the test; the test of faith given to all single girls (by God) asking them to entrust their hearts and futures into His wise and all powerful hands.
Would you be able to trust God with your future? With your relationship? With your life?
It might be that you are not called or meant to be married. It’s up to God. I know that’s a scary thought for some women, and to be honest, it scares me too. But what if God has called you to that lifestyle? Would you still have faith in God? Would you still choose to follow Him, or would you abandon your convictions, compromise your godly lifestyle and seek out a man without God’s help? (Food for thought)
Dear Justin Bieber,
I’m ecstatic to see what God is doing in your life. Nobody is too far from God’s grace, and your story is one of redemption and revitalization. Your influence is beyond anything most could imagine harnessing, and I’m beyond thrilled to watch you use that influence for the sake of your faith in Jesus. Sure, you’ve made mistakes along the way, but don’t we all? Nobody is perfect, and I would encourage you to keep fighting the good fight while constantly seeking after the grace and love of Jesus. He’s got you covered.
You may find criticism along the way, but those who truly love you will be the ones who are there for you through it all. Those who love you will continue pointing you toward the foot of the cross.
Repeatedly lean into God, your pastors and those whom God has divinely put around you. Ignore the opinions of society and pop-culture and be who God created you to be—nobody else. Let Him be your guide. You have been called to something great, and I pray God continues to open up doors for you as you boldly share his name. Continue to do away with religion, and grab a hold of the all-consuming love of Jesus.
Here’s to a new you, and a new season and a fresh start. Be bold, continue to stay faithful and remember that you have millions of people praying for you on a daily basis. Thank you for your boldness, courage and audacity to share the name of Jesus through your platform. Stay well, my friend.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” —Joshua 1:9
“At this point, my faith has gotten me to where I am. My faith has brought me to a whole other level. I love talking about my faith. I think that with Christians, they’ve left such a bad taste in people’s mouths. Just like, overly pushy with the subject, overly churchy and religious. … You ever flicked on a channel and a late-night church show is on? Sometimes it’s like, “You better do this or you gon’ die and you gon’ burn in hell!” And you’re like, I don’t want anything to do with this. I’m the same way. I’m not religious. I, personally, love Jesus and that was my salvation. I want to share what I’m going through and what I’m feeling and I think it shouldn’t be ostracized.I just wanna honestly live like Jesus. Not be Jesus—I could never—I don’t want that to come across weird. He created a pretty awesome template of how to love people and how to be gracious and kind. If you believe it, he died for our sins. Sometimes when I don’t feel like doing something, but I know it’s right, I remember, I’m pretty sure Jesus didn’t feel like going to the cross and dying so that we don’t have to feel what we should have to feel. … We have the greatest healer of all and his name is Jesus Christ. And he really heals. This is it. It’s time that we all share our voice. Whatever you believe. Share it. I’m at a point where I’m not going to hold this in.” —Justin Bieber
The Pharisees are mentioned in pulpits and classrooms all over the world. They are the source of jokes. The topic of sermons. Man, I wish I had a penny for every time a Christian teacher referenced the Pharisees. I wouldn’t be here. Maybe in the Caribbean somewhere. But not here. #truth.
Here is the reality … Pharisees still exist today. And nobody wants to be a modern-day Pharisee. It just happens. Kind of like eating at Ruby Tuesday. No one knows how you end up there. But it happens. Then you are stuck eating below par food at an above par price. Not good.
Most Pharisees begin with good intentions. But somehow those intentions and motives morph into something not so good.
Here is my hope and prayer … you will read this and do an inspection on your heart. The following things flow from my own personal struggles with legalism and being a Pharisee. In many ways, I am a recovering Pharisee. I still have a long way to go. But I am thankful the grace of God allows me to stumble. Allows me to struggle. And still be His child.
So, here are 12 signs you are a modern-day Pharisees.
1.) You believe showing up for worship every Sunday makes you right with God.
Modern-day Pharisees try to measure everything. They must have metrics and barometers. Something to measure their righteousness. Anything to give them some security with God.
And I am not against barometers or metrics. Not at all. Barometers can reveal trends and expose inconsistencies. But modern-day Pharisees see metrics as essential to righteousness and salvation. Worship is not a time to draw into God. Worship is another check off the list.
For modern-day Pharisees, Christian living is not so much about transforming into the image of God. It is more about living up to the standard of God. And no one can live up to God’s standard. Except Jesus.
2.) You spend more time talking about what you are against, not what you are for.
Pharisees love to argue. They love to spend their time convincing others. If they had to list the actions and issues they are against, the pencil would run out of lead. But turn around and ask them to list what they are for? The pencil would not have to be re-sharpened.
Pharisees believe their job is to defend God and legislate morality. So they are against drinking, smoking, cursing, short skirts, talking back to parents, holding hands before marriage, and so on. And all of these things come before the gospel. Or maybe they are the gospel. Modern-day Pharisees can’t tell the difference.
“I’m an alien, I’m a legal alien, I’m an Englishman in New York.” That oddball 80’s hit single by Sting could have been the soundtrack to my experience as I arrived at JFK airport in 2000. Coming to America as a South African on a student visa, I was greeted at passport control by a sign indicating the narrow way—US Citizens Only—and the broad way, marked unblushingly, “Aliens.” Yes, the US customs considered me a foreign invader of sorts. But at least I was legal.
To obtain the coveted status of legal alien to the promised land of the free and home of the brave, I had to jump through a series of bureaucratic hoops of fire designed to intimidate anyone not dead set on obeying American law.
The process included comprehensive background checks, police clearance certificates, fingerprinting, interviews, proof of insurance, surety of a $17,000 deposit, and a hefty admin fee charged in USD but paid in my country’s languishing currency. I was eventually awarded a three year “F-1” study permit. I was permitted to work on campus, 20 hours per week. I legally and painstakingly obtained a social security card, bank account, and driver’s license. I never once availed myself of the welfare food stamps I was entitled to (since I was living below the poverty line) because I didn’t want a government hand-out I hadn’t earned.
When I wanted to remain in the country for another three years to complete a second degree, I had to go to the consulate in Canada and re-apply from scratch (and again pay the then heftier fee), despite by then being married to a US citizen.
All that to say I find it difficult to sympathize with people who enter any country illegally.
I’m not talking about refugees fleeing persecution who have been invited in—“Send me your huddled masses” and all that. But when a person crosses the border illegally, they also cross a line God drew.
Romans 13:1-2 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment.
South Africa is a magnet for illegal immigrants. We are an Elysium for physically famished, economically asphyxiated, and politically browbeaten Sub-Saharans from Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and Malawi. And our church has had to deal with the ethics of helping brothers and sisters in Christ while concurrently honoring our government’s laws.
Now that my position on this issue is established, I’d like to challenge myself and the Christian community to cultivate sympathy for people who find themselves in legal conundrums that are difficult to resolve.
As a dad, the drive to feed my family and provide a safe and healthy environment for my kids is an instinctual drive hardwired into my very soul. God reserves a soft spot in his heart for widows, orphans, and foreigners.
Deuteronomy 24:17-18 “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge, but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.
Of late the news has been broadcasting, on the one hand, a lot of grandstanding generalizations about the character of foreigners, and how bigger walls will fix the problem; and on the other (left?) hand, rhetoric advocating legalizing illegals with impunity. Neither extreme is helpful.
This post isn’t my attempt to spawn 2c of unsolicited opining from a remote corner of the world; it is just a reminder that being a stranger in a strange land can be bewildering and Christians are sympathetic, compassionate people.
We can treat a person with dignity and respect, while shepherding him/her toward a conscientious decision to obey the law. And in our discussions and debates on the issue we can maintain a godly compassion in our demeanor and diction.
I’m not saying we should condone sin. We need to hold the right view in the right way.
I’m all for justice. I just don’t have to be mean about it.
(I highly recommend this helpful pastoral perspective on immigration posted by Nate).
We Christians love our bumper stickers. I’ve never spoken with someone whose life was forever changed by seeing a cliché slapped on the back of a vehicle, yet we just can’t seem to quit the darned things. From the passive aggressive Christian (“Are you following Jesus this close?” or “Honk if you love Jesus; text if you want to meet him”) to the cheesy Christian (“C H__ __ C H , What’s missing?”) to the confrontational Christian (You’ve seen the Jesus-fish eating a Darwin-fish) … the possibilities are nearly endless, and usually rather embarrassing.
One of the worst Christian bumper stickers is this: “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.” It’s true, of course, that Christians aren’t perfect. But they aren’t just forgiven.
As the Apostle Paul put it, “If we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like his [through baptism], we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his” (Rom 6:5). In other words, the gospel doesn’t just provide us with a way of escaping the penalty of sin, but a way of escaping the power of sin, too.
Many Christians live their lives nearly unaware of the power God gave them in Christ. They’re looking for so little when it comes to salvation. They want inner peace, or purpose, or a ticket out of hell. And the gospel can provide those things, but it’s so much bigger than that. Union to Christ means that what is true of Jesus is now legally true of us. We have his perfect record. We have his resurrection power. Christianity isn’t about turning over a new leaf at all; it’s about the power of a new life.
This should be encouraging for messed up people like us. The people God uses to change the world aren’t those with a morally clean slate. Peter was a coward. Paul was harsh and abrasive. John was arrogant and vengeful. They were not made of more promising material that you or me. But the new birth turned them into men of incredible power. There is no brokenness or corruption or weakness that the power of Christ’s resurrection cannot remove, heal, and redeem.
And how do we tap into that power? Paul shows us the way: “Likewise, you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:11).
“Reckon” is the Greek word logizomai, often translated “count,” “consider,” or “credit.” It’s the word Paul uses in Romans 4 to illustrate how God credits us with righteousness, even when we aren’t actually righteous. When God sees our faith in Jesus, he reckons our faith to be righteousness.
When it comes to accessing power over sin, it’s our turn to do the reckoning. We are to reckon ourselves as already dead to sin, and when we do, God infuses the power of new life into us. “But I don’t feel dead to sin,” you say. “Sin and wrong desires definitely feel alive in me.” That’s exactly why reckoning is so important: our feelings will tell us that we’re dead to God and alive to sin; we need to listen to God’s voice telling us the opposite.
Abraham is the perfect example of this. He was infertile and 90 years old when God declared that he would have a son. When God said that, Abraham didn’t think to himself, “You know, that sounds about right. I have been feeling a bit more frisky the last few days.” No, Romans says that he believed God, even though he didn’t feel it. And only after believing did he receive the promised strength.
You and I will only receive strength to be dead to sin when we believe God has already made us dead to sin. We always want to feel first, and then we’ll believe. But God says, “You have to believe first, and then you’ll feel.” In a sense, this is “name-it-claim-it” sanctification. The “name-it-claim-it” crowd has one thing right: we can and should claim Jesus’ power, even when we don’t feel it. What they get wrong is what you claim. Jesus’ promises of power aren’t for more prestige, influence, or wealth; they’re for something much more valuable—growth in Christlikeness.
Eternal life is at our fingertips—not simply a length of time that God allows us to live, but an entirely new quality of life that we can take part in now. The question isn’t simply, “If you died tonight, where would you go?” It’s also, “If you wake up tomorrow, how will your life look different because Christ is in it?”
For more, be sure to listen to the entire message here.
We live in a sexualized culture—a very, very sexualized culture. You already know that, of course. You can barely walk out your door or turn on a screen without seeing clear evidence of the fact. As Christians we are always in danger of being swept along with the current of the culture around us. For that reason I, like every other Christian, pursue sexual purity in my own heart and life. God calls us to nothing less. Thankfully, the Bible was written by people who also lived in sexualized cultures, and the wisdom they offer transcends the ages. (See, for example, Proverbs 7, 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 1 Peter 1:15, 1 Corinthians 6:12-20, John 4:16-18, and so on).
Sexual purity has two components to it: the turning away and the turning toward, the stopping of one kind of behavior and the beginning of another. I have seen in my own life that I am never far from making the focus of sexual purity all of those negative commands: Don’t do this, don’t behave that way, don’t carry on that habit. And I think we sometimes send the message that if you simply stop all of those evil behaviors you will be sexually pure. But sexual purity is also a positive command. In fact, I think we can say that it is foremost a positive command. Sexual purity isn’t just avoiding what is evil; it’s pursuing and enjoying what is good.
Sexual purity is not ultimately turning away from sin, but delighting in God’s gifts. The final purpose is not to stop pursuing the bad stuff, but to pursue and enjoy the good. Sexual purity is abstaining from immorality, forsaking the dirty novels, overcoming pornography, making that covenant with your eyes. These are all good and necessary. But sexual purity is so much more than that. It’s so much better than that. It’s so much more positive than that.
Sexual purity is pursuing your wife’s heart, mind, and body. Sexual purity is freely and joyfully making love to your husband. Sexual purity is relishing the memory of the last time and enjoying the anticipation of the next time. Sexual purity is teasing him about what’s to come. Sexual purity is allowing your eyes to linger and to feast upon her.
Husband, you aren’t sexually pure when you stop looking at porn, but when you love making love to your wife—when you treat her body with holiness and honor. Wife, you aren’t sexually pure when you forsake sexual temptation or sexual apathy, but when you participate in and enjoy sexual fulfillment with your husband.
Do you see it? Sexual purity is not ultimately about what to avoid, but what to pursue and what to enjoy. It’s about putting those old and ugly behaviors to death in order to free yourself to pursue the better ones. God wants to free you from sin so you can enjoy his gifts. God’s purity is a positive purity.
(A note for those who are single: God’s purity is a positive purity even for you who cannot enjoy the sexual relationship at this time. The commands to abstain from sexual immorality free you to the joy of obedience and to the blessings of obedience—the freedom experienced by Jesus who led a perfect and perfectly whole life without sex. I will write more about this on another occasion.)
Recently, one U.S. Representative, speaking off the record about the Planned Parenthood controversy, recalled Ronald Reagan’s 1983 “Evil Empire Speech,” where he described the Soviet Union as “the focus of evil in the modern world.” One biographer writes that this speech was “the single most important speech of the Reagan presidency” (Ronald Reagan, 135).
This U.S. Representative argued for calling acts of evil what they are: evil. The abortions taking place at Planned Parenthood are not merely routine medical procedures, but are in fact the systematic killing of children. Every human being on the face of the earth knows this is murder.
It may be legal murder, but that doesn’t make it any less the killing of children.
Acceptable Terminology Doesn’t Change Reality
A recent Rolling Stone article titled “Planned Parenthood Is Not Harvesting ‘Baby Parts’” argues that research institutions and public universities who purchase “baby parts” wouldn’t use that particular term. Instead, medical professionals would use technical terms such as “fetal tissue and products of conception.” While medical terms helpfully describe medical procedures more modestly, let’s not deceive ourselves.
A colonoscopy is a much better term than a crude description of the procedure, but the formal medical term doesn’t change the reality of what is taking place: Your doctor is taking an intimate and invasive look into your large intestine. The use of the medical term doesn’t make it any easier to stomach. Planned Parenthood’s harvesting of “products of conception” doesn’t make it any less the systematic killing of unborn children and the subsequent packaging of the bodies in order to turn a profit.
C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters writes,
The greatest evil is not done now in those sordid ‘dens of crime’ that Dickens loved to paint. It is not even done in concentration camps and labor camps. In those we see its final result. But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried and minuted) in clear, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.
These evils are indeed taking place in well-lit offices and facilities of Planned Parenthood by the well-manicured hands of abortionists.
The Hundred and One Children
Cruella de Vil, the villain in the 1956 novel The Hundred and One Dalmatians, popularized by Disney, kidnaps Dalmatian puppies for their fur. Think with me for a moment, and ask what would happen if this scenario took place today.
Some upscale clothing company decides to debut a new line of coats made from the fur of golden retriever puppies. But not just any golden retriever puppies. These are unwanted golden retrievers. The breeder decided to breed more puppies than he could care for or sell, so instead of putting these puppies up for adoption, he decides to have them euthanized. And now, since the puppies are dead anyways, this breeder proceeds to sell the fur in order to make luxurious coats for red carpet fashion.
Imagine the public outrage. What would we call this? Evil. Heartless. Wicked. Cruel. Unthinkable. PETA would lose their minds. Crowds would call for the government to strip the breeder of his license or permit, and social media would be filled with worse. Fair-minded citizens would no longer patronize this clothing maker. The whole operation and anyone associated with it would come crashing down in flames.
Abortion Is Evil
Christians must tell it like it is. Abortion is murder. Left alone in our sin, we’re all capable of it, and so we pray for God to change the hearts and minds of our nation, whether through videos, or peaceful, prayerful protests, or whatever other means he chooses to use. Isaiah says, “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20).
The deeds of darkness have been exposed, they are ugly, and they must end.
Today’s Kindle deals are headlined by 3 J.I. Packer titles: Taking God Seriously, Growing in Christ, and Keeping the Ten Commandments ($2.99 each). Continuing the theme, Sam Storms’ new book Packer on the Christian Life is $5.99. Also consider: Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur ($3.99); What the Bible Means to Me by Catherine MacKenzie ($1.99); The Fruitful Wife by Hayley DiMarco ($2.99).
David Murray provides a couple of interesting facts about Calvinism, including this: “The five points of Calvinism did not originate with John Calvin, and do not provide a comprehensive summarize of his teaching.”
Melissa has a gift for describing the Christian life as it is. “Marriage is an on-going exercise in making fools of ourselves for love’s sake.” Amen to that!
I mentioned last week that Gospel for Asia was removed from the financial accountability organization ECFA. This article explains why it happened and how GFA is responding.
This photo gallery shows the devastation in parts of South Carolina.
Let articles like this one remind you to pray for those serving the Lord overseas. “Will this election mirror other African countries? Will there be rioting and violence? Just a few years ago, 1000 people were killed in election violence in Kenya, our neighbor to the north.”
Today. Happy Thanksgiving to my fellow Canadians. In 1957 Parliament declared the second Monday of October to be “a day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed.” Be sure to do that!
WORLD magazine has an extended excerpt from The Compelling Community, an excellent book from Mark Dever and Jamie Dunlop. This excerpt gets right to the heart of the book. (For further information, here is my review: The Compelling Community.)
Take a bit of autotune and some old Robert Tilton clips and you’ll be singing Hoo Ba Ba Kanda all day long.
Christian Headlines Daily – Monday, October 12, 2015
Pastor Attacked in Bangladesh by Muslims Who Claimed to be Interested in His Faith
University Removes Chapel Pews to Accommodate Muslim Students
Officials Defend Prayer in Public Schools in Oklahoma and Arkansas
Phil Vischer: What Happened to Veggie Tales and What He’s Working on Now
Christian Actor David Oyelowo: Christian Films Shouldn’t Take an “on the nose” Approach
Public School Choirs Banned from Singing in Area Christmas Show after Atheist Group Takes Action
Islamic State Threatens to Kill Christians in Syria in Video Showing Executions
Creflo Dollar Removes Facebook Post Endorsing Prosperity Gospel
Netanyahu Prohibits Israeli Parliament from Visiting Temple Mount
Homeschool Family Sues New Jersey for $60 Million after Social Worker Enters House without Warrant
Gaining Ground for Life: The Successes of the Pro-life Movement
Does Eating Bacon Ensure Long Life?
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
By Chuck Lawless on Oct 12, 2015 01:00 am
READING: Matthew 11
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: I am thinking today about how many people around the world are trying to “work their way” to God. Some are striving to do enough good works to outweigh their bad, hoping their god will allow them entrance to heaven on that basis. Others are still offering goods to their gods. Still others are giving animal sacrifices to their gods. I even think of some folks who are following the religion of legalism, believing that as long as they remain within narrowly defined parameters, they will be okay with God.
In all of these cases, nothing fully resolves our sin issue. All the good works and sacrifices combined cannot atone for our sins before God who is holy. Instead, they leave us in bondage we cannot break. The burden of trying to please God on our own leads only to deeper and deeper bondage — and we’re crushed under the weight of our own failed efforts.
Meanwhile, Jesus makes it so graciously simple in comparison:
Matt. 11:28-30 “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
When we’re weary and burdened under our own efforts, Jesus calls us to rest in Him. Following Him is not without requirements — that is, He still expects us to be yoked to Him — but being yoked to the Master brings salvation and peace. We find spiritual rest when we fully depend on God, go with Him where He tells us to go, and continually learn from Him.
ACTION STEPS: Evaluate these questions in your life:
- Am I trying to work my way to God?
- If so, do I realize I’m only working my way into bondage?
- Am I truly yoked to Christ, going in whatever direction He leads?
PRAYER: “Help me, Lord, to find my rest in You even while I follow You fully. Forgive me if my life reflects a tendency to follow You in my own efforts.”
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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