October 15, 2015 Christian Briefing Report


Are You Seeing a Pattern?

David was guilty of adultery, conspiracy, murder, and unfaithfulness as a husband and father, but he repented and was regarded as a man after God’s own heart. He was also the greatest songwriter of all history. We still sing the songs of this “sweet singer of Israel.” Elijah ran from Jezebel, pleading for euthanasia, but this same Elijah defied Ahab and all the prophets of Baal, and heard the still small voice of God at Horeb.

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He Delivers What He Desires

Consider the main idea of Jesus’ conversation and this devotional: Jesus desires, deserves, and demands water/fruit from his disciples, and yet he promises to deliver that which he desires, in supernatural abundance, if you will but ask. Now hear the good news of the Gospel of Jesus.

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Statement Calling For Constitutional Resistance To Obergefell v. Hodges

The proper understanding and definition of marriage is self-evidently a vital question affecting the whole people. To treat as “settled” and “the law of the land” the decision of five Supreme Court justices who, by their own admission, can find no warrant for their ruling in the text, logic, structure, or original understanding of the Constitution, would indeed be to resign our government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. That is something that no citizen or statesman who wishes to sustain the great experiment in ordered liberty bequeathed to us by our Founding Fathers should be willing to do.

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New Home Missions

Dennis Blea, who works with the Navigators in Germany, told me about two Iranian visitors to his church who “had always wondered what a Christian church looked like.” He called the refugee crisis a great open door for conversion: “I think we need to go to them and bring the gospel to them while they are ‘trapped’ in Germany.”

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And Who Will Harm You If You Do What Is Good?

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not promoting a lemming-like acceptance of conventional wisdom or the judgments of the establishment.  There’s a healthy place for critique.  Nor am I suggesting we roll over and play dead when someone oversteps their bounds. I’m all for insisting on personal rights, especially when it concerns the well being of my family. We can and may involve others to help protect those rights. But we must at once learn how to be actually in the world and yet not of it, as well as to be “angry and sin not.”

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Going To Pot?

With sales of pot in Manitou Springs likely topping $25 million by next year, what’s sold in Manitou often finds its way elsewhere. That’s why adjoining states are crying foul, claiming Colorado is reaping the financial benefits of marijuana sales while exporting the problems to others. Oklahoma, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Kansas have filed lawsuits seeking compensation from Colorado. 

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What’s the Difference?

I do not see any difference in principle between the way Rev. Geering redefined the supernatural miracle of the our Lord’s resurrection and the way many scholars and teachers redefine the supernatural miracle of His miracle of creation. I am 90-years-old and my body will soon be buried. But I still believe in a future bodily resurrection. I therefore see no reason to doubt God’s account of His own work of creation.

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Tracking America’s Suicide

It seems that Quinn and Martland were apprised of a situation involving an Afghan mother who was severely thrashed by an Afghan soldier who had kidnapped her son, chained him to a bed, and was repeatedly raping the helpless child whenever he felt the inclination. Quinn and Martland confronted the Afghan commander, who then laughed in their face, said that “it was only a boy,” and that Americans should find better ways to use their time.

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 10 Morning Prayers to Use Daily

10 Morning Prayers to Use Daily

Posted on October 15, 2015 by Crosswalk

Saying a morning prayer is a great way to focus your minds attention on God as the first priority of your day! Use these suggested morning prayers as you seek God’s plan for your day and ask Him to guide your thoughts and actions.

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3 Things to Consider before Leaving Your Church

3 Things to Consider before Leaving Your Church

Posted on October 15, 2015 by Crosswalk

Are we are becoming a society of selfish Christians who we base our reasons for staying in or leaving a church on the question “what’s in it for me?”

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4 Ways I Found Hope One Fearful Halloween

4 Ways I Found Hope One Fearful Halloween

Posted on October 15, 2015 by Crosswalk

I’m not advocating the glorification of darkness or evil. But here are some truths I took away from one spooky Halloween.

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Boycott gay weddings, even in the family, Baptist leader tells Christians

Boycott gay weddings, even in the family, Baptist leader tells Christians

Posted on October 15, 2015 by Religion News

& I don’t think a faithful Christian can recognize or celebrate … what we don’t think is a marriage,” Mohler said. His new book decries same-sex marriage and other modern cultural sins.

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A Biblical Answer to Poverty: God’s People and the Marketplace

A Biblical Answer to Poverty: God’s People and the Marketplace

Posted on October 15, 2015 by Christianity Today

How should Christians respond to poverty? Helpful thoughts from Dr. Anne Bradley.

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It's Official: Terrorists Are Now the Persecuted Church's Greatest Threat

It’s Official: Terrorists Are Now the Persecuted Church’s Greatest Threat

Posted on October 15, 2015 by Christianity Today

State Department releases latest report on religious freedom in nearly 200 countries.

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Snapchat spirituality: How technology can be a force for religious good or evil

Snapchat spirituality: How technology can be a force for religious good or evil

Posted on October 15, 2015 by Religion News

After Jefferson Bethke’s video garnered 30 million views, he became &YouTube famous.& He says that churches and Christians should use technology more effectively, but they should be careful not to abuse it.

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Antichrist’s Warm-Up Act – Terry James

Bible prophecy foretells this most charismatic personality of human history basking in the end-times spotlight:

Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

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‘Are You A Christian?’ A Meditation On Martyrdom

Are you a Christian?

What would you say if a man holding a gun to your head asked this question?

Are you a Christian?

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Are Christians Welcoming Witchcraft?

The darkness of the occult and witchcraft has to a great degree been accepted in our society, but the question we should ask is to what extent has it seeped into our churches?

Every year Christians debate about holidays, holy days, celebrations and symbols. Should children be encouraged to go trick or treating? Is Halloween really evil? Can it be redeemed by calling it by another name?

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Surprised, Shocked, and Saddened over Statistics on Twenty-Somethings

Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis lays out the cold hard truth that a large number of the younger generation of Christians–millennials–who attend church regularly are biblically illiterate.  What happened in our churches that brought this sad state of affairs about? By Ken Ham If I told you the following statistics about a certain group […]

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Should Type-R Charismatics Get A Free Pass?

Strange FireIn October 2013 Grace to You (GTY) hosted the Strange Fire conference at Grace Community Church to launch John MacArthur’s book Strange Fire. The conference critiqued those on the fringe of the charismatic movement who flagrantly misrepresent the work of the Holy Spirit. The conference caused quite a stir, to say the least. But that was two years ago. Seems GTY is not going to let sleeping dogs lie:

While the response to the conference was overwhelming, many of the issues that were raised have yet to be seriously acted upon. Our goal is to fan the flames of this important discussion and continue the call for discernment and discipline in the charismatic movement. To that end, we want to rerun some of the important articles from before and after the conference, and encourage you to visit the Strange Fire website for all the sermons, articles, and videos from that landmark event.

The first person to fan the flames is Phil Johnson, executive director of Grace to You.


More From Ames On The State Of Believers At The Judgment

18. But although all shall be raised by Christ, yet not in one and the same way: for the Resurrection of the faithful is unto Life, and it is accomplished by vertue of that union, which they have with Christ, as with their Life. Col. 3. 4. 1. Thess. 4. 14. And by the operation […]

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Perkins On The State Of Believers At The Judgment

The last day of judgement shall be on this manner: I. Immediately before the coming of Christ, a the powers of heaven shall be shaken: the Sun and Moon shall be darkened, and the Stars shall seem to fall from heaven: at which sight the elect then living shall rejoice, but the reprobate shall shake […]

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Declining Resilience Among College Students?

A year ago I received an invitation from the head of Counseling Services at a major university to join faculty and administrators for discussions about how to deal with the decline in resilience among students. At the first meeting, we learned that emergency calls to Counseling had more than doubled over the past five years. […]

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The Sum Of Saving Knowledge On The Final Judgment

3. FOR CONVINCING A MAN OF JUDGEMENT BY THE LAW: CONSIDER, 2 THES. 1. 7. The Lord shall be revealed from Heaven with his mighty Angels, ver. 8. In flaming fire, taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. ver. 9. Who shall be […]

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Are Christians Welcoming Witchcraft?

Every year Christians debate about holidays, holy days, celebrations and symbols. Should children be encouraged to go trick or treating? Is Halloween really evil? Can it be redeemed by calling it by another name? I’ve heard Halloween described as harmless, satanic, fun, evil, innocent, or demonically inspired. What spirit is behind the festivities? Obviously, Christians […]

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In the World, But Not Of the World

The world around us is deteriorating rapidly.  Our children are being taught about things that are downright sinful and evil.  Yet we are not called to hunker down and disengage from the world–we are called to be light and salt and ambassadors for Jesus Christ. But how do we do this without partnering with the […]

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The Playboy Grave – Church & Culture Blog

Playboy magazine has decided to end printing the pictures of fully naked women. So as many have been joking, if you really did read it just for the articles you’re in luck.
It’s hard for younger generations to realize the cultural weight Playboy threw around. During the 1970s, it was estimated that one out of every four college males was reading it. It “was there at the start of the American sexual revolution in the early 1950s – and drove it wildly through the 1960s and 1970s spanning continents.”
Yet the greater cultural headline is why they will no longer feature nudity.
The rise of internet pornography.
The magazine’s circulation began to drop off in the early 1990s, from a record 7.2 million for the November 1972 edition to just 800,000 today. So the libertarian views of its founder, Hugh Hefner, the “leader of the revolution that helped take sex in America from furtive to ubiquitous,” have won. Or as Scott Flanders, Playboy’s chief executive told the New York Times, “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. It’s just passé at this juncture.”
Yes, it sadly is.
And because we live in such a pornified world, we can forget how damaging that world is.
Let’s not.
It is sexual sin. Jesus made it clear that when we give in to lust, it is akin to the act itself. It makes no difference whether you know the person or not; lust is not tied to relationship.
It is addictive. The ubiquitous nature of porn is new to our culture, and to human sexuality, but it is becoming increasingly clear that it is highly addictive in nature. As a result, it can not only begin to dominate a life, but can demand ever-increasing levels of exposure and ever-increasing degrees of experience to continue to stimulate.
It is degrading to women. In pornography, women are treated as objects. They are not fulfilling God’s dream for their life as His precious daughter, nor are they fulfilling His design for sexual expression and fulfillment. You are watching a woman who is being sinned against, treated in a way that is contemptible to her heavenly Father (whether she sees it or not – and the fact that many may not only adds to its tragic nature). And if you are a woman watching it for the men, it is equally degrading to them.
It leads to other sins. Studies are beginning to show that the effects of porn on men are more than temporary sexual stimulation: as they see women treated as objects, they begin to treat women that way. They become more sexually aggressive, leading to date rapes and expected “hook-ups.”
It harms your relationship with your current, or future, spouse. It is absolutely ridiculous to say that watching porn enhances a sexual life. Instead, it cheapens it. Those caught in its web testify to how porn quickly becomes a substitute for sexual intimacy with your spouse.
It desensitizes your soul. Sin of any kind desensitizes your spiritual life. Continued exposure to a sin such as pornography is like shooting Novocain into your soul. It deadens you and grieves the Holy Spirit in your life, forcing Him to withdraw His utmost filling in a way that diminishes His power and presence in your life.
It distorts sex. Nothing reduces sex to lust more than pornography. Yielding to such images is overwhelmingly addictive, like a narcotic that delivers a quick hit to the emotions or senses, but ravages you from within. It destroys real relationships, real intimacy, real sexuality.
So Playboy magazine finds its nudity irrelevant in a Playboy world. By helping create a sexualized world, it dug its own grave.
Unfortunately, it dug a grave for much more than itself.
James Emery White
“Playboy Magazine abandons nudity,” by Barney Henderson, The Telegraph, October 13, 2015, read online.
“Nudes Are Old News at Playboy,” by Ravi Somaiya, The New York Times, October 12, 2015, read online.
See also James Emery White, A Traveler’s Guide to the Kingdom (InterVarsity Press).

Real Repentance in Contrast To Repentance As Taught by Emergents and Other Heretics

Luther hits the proverbial nail on the head-

To repent means that a person knows and confesses from the heart that, as the Scripture says, he was conceived and born in sin [Ps. 51:5] and is, therefore, by nature a child of wrath [Eph. 2:3], condemned to everlasting death and damnation, and that here all works are of no avail.

They only make things go from bad to worse so long as people think they can accomplish by them what belongs to Christ alone, the sole mediator between God and men, who sacrificed Himself for us all that we might have forgiveness of sins through Him. If you believe the former, then you have the latter. If not, you will never ever be free [of sin], even if you torture yourself to death.

For it is called forgiveness of sins, not a payment for sins; a gift, not merit. But what God bestows on you out of pure grace for the sake of Christ, that is something for which you, you poor sack of maggots, cannot pay Him, nor can you buy or earn it from Him. That is what Luke means when he says that John preached a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins [Luke 3:3].

How Obama Ushered in the New Age of Christian Martyrdom

(GATESTONE INSTITUTE)—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.Most recently, on August 28 near Aleppo, the Islamic…

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Pope asks forgiveness after sex scandals rock Vatican and Rome

The sin of homosexuality continues to plague the Roman Catholic Church. According to a Reuters report:

Pope Francis asked for forgiveness on Wednesday for scandals at the Vatican and in Rome, an apparent reference to two cases of priests and gay sex revealed this month during a major meeting of bishops.

“Today … in the name of the Church, I ask you for forgiveness for the scandals that have occurred recently either in Rome or in the Vatican,” Francis said in unprepared remarks during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

“I ask you for forgiveness,” he said before tens of thousands of people, who broke into applause. The pope then read his prepared address and did not elaborate.



Announcing ‘Project Modesty’!

by Bethany Baird

Is it possible to combine modern fashion with modest clothing?

6 Tips for Making Modesty Happen All Year Round

by Bethany Baird

Check out Bethany’s top six tips for dressing modestly 365 days a year.

10 Reasons Why It Will Be Okay

by Erin Davis

It’s going to be okay, friend. Here are ten reasons why.

Freebie Friday! In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

by Erin Davis

Are you facing a big decision? We’ve got a freebie to help you make the right call.

Hope Beyond the Heavy Burdens You Carry

Hope Beyond the Heavy Burdens You CarryGod’s blessings in this life often come with greater burdens.

We grow older, and we care for those who are younger. With each season, each month, each sunrise even, we’re responsible for a little more. Our friendships. Our church tasks. Our homes. Our work. Our children. Our spouses. And we carry them on our shoulders. We’re deeply invested in them. Our gut feelings are tied up in our “dependents,” however they depend on us.

A foolish son is ruin to his father, and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping rain. . . . He who fathers a wise son will be glad in him. (Proverbs 19:13; 23:24)

We are woven into a single fabric, a single place — together with those we love, and with whom we labor — where God dwells, and where he works: “In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit” (Ephesians 2:22).

Our tasks correlate and accumulate with the number who need us — to provide, to comfort, to give space, to move closer, to be obedient, to speak up, to hold our tongues, to protect, to let go, to pay for medical expenses, to buy gifts, to forgive mistakes. And there is no end in sight. There is no dream date, even in retirement, at which the world will say, “You have given enough.”

As we care for more and more people, we’re tempted to begin building a temple for ourselves. At one time, we proclaimed to those who rely on us, “Christ Jesus himself [is] the cornerstone” (Ephesians 2:20). But as time went on, after mounting little pressures growing more every day, life doesn’t seem so different than being the cornerstone ourselves. We feel the weight of those around us piling up on our backs, not on the back of our Jesus.

We feel the weight of our families, our churches, our relationships, like an unforgiving dumbbell of duty, loaded with weighted plates of specific obligations, bending our spines to the point of breaking. The weight and consequences of crumbling boundaries tap our strength. And, after a while, we feel the task of divine perfection tempting us — and we would give it, if we could. We know that our dependents are gifts from God. Yet we increasingly feel like we are racing around the track with the gas light on.

The Life Spent on Others

It would be indulgent to pray for youth again — careless, free, without responsibility; without burden or brokenness. “I am writing to you, young men, because you have overcome the evil one” (1 John 2:13). That feat never quite seems to end, even for the old men.

But God, understanding in his compassion and intimate in his wisdom, offers us grace in his knowledge of our feeling overwhelmed: “Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength” (Isaiah 40:30–31).

What does that mean? Is it a trite dismissal of exhaustion? Does God just give us another task — faith — on top of our heap of responsibilities, the burdens and expectations of those around us? “You’re exhausted? Believe God is enough.” No. It is not a further requirement:

“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:29–31)

The tribes of the earth — the captains of industry, the earthly-minded, the self-livers, the others-blamers, the indulgent, the wolves, the servant-abusing — they will mourn, because the great shepherd has come to gather his elect, to name the faithful, to harvest his fruit. He brings great joy to the weary who have spent their lives for others in his name.

These are not merely complex verses about the end times — this is Jesus flipping to the final chapter of your life, and saying to you, the weary unrelenting servants, “I’m going to shatter this earthly projection screen that so easily hypnotizes the faithful with visions of lesser glories.”

A Coming Sabbath for Servants

The coming of the Son of Man is unique, not because Jesus does something different than he does every day, but because he makes it clear to everyone what he has already been doing every day — busting down the cosmic doors of the universe into our lives to rescue us from worthless tasks and to reveal the beauty of our everyday service that has grown dim and dingy in our weariness.

“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates.” (Matthew 24:32–33)

To the not-spring-chickens, to the gray-heads, to the balding, to the wrinkling, to the check-writers, to chair-stackers, to pray-ers, to the parents, to the foster parents, to adopting parents, to the forgiving friends, to the thankless task-doers, the last days are happening in your life today.

“Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” (Philippians 3:20). And until that day, we will not grow weary in doing “good to everyone, and especially [not] to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).

On that day, when Jesus comes, he will show everyone that your works in his name were not in vain, to the praise of his glory, for which you labor: “For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers” (1 Timothy 4:10). Every sacrifice will be repaid in full (Luke 14:14).

When life requires us to push harder, to protect more vigilantly, to give more freely, to expend unavailable energies, to accomplish impossible tasks, God offers us his sustaining love, his gentle concern, his guiding sovereignty.

We are not alone as we bear the burdens of those around us, because God joyfully bears us up with him each day with exactly what we need — his sustaining grace, more than ever on the days when we don’t feel it. When Christ returns, we will witness a global mourning among those who have recklessly cast aside the free offer of Christ’s grace in this life. And the unseen faithful and generous servants will finally rest.

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Kids of the Past vs. Kids of the Internet Generation

We all know there is a HUGE difference between kids of the past and kids of today, especially when it comes to technology. But how has technology played a part in the other areas of children’s lives, and how should this affect how we minister to them? Take a look at this awesome infographic I found this week (click on it to make it larger).


The post Kids of the Past vs. Kids of the Internet Generation appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.

If I deny Christ, can I still go to heaven?

Last week I was doing a Q/A session with AWANA students, and one of them asked this question:

In light of the shooting in Oregon, where the gunman asked students if they were Christian, and if they said ‘yes’ the gunman shot the student in the head, what would happen if a Christian lied? What if it would have been me, and I would have said ‘no’? Would I still go to heaven when I die?

This question is of particular importance because Christianity contains no exception to prohibitions against lying. Islam, for example, has a doctrine called Taqiyya, which allows a Muslim to temporarily deny his faith if his life is in danger—so long as it is not a “heartfelt” objection.

But Christianity is different. In fact, martyrdom is one of the chief means of propagating the gospel. As people boldly stand for Christ and refuse to recant even in the face of death, the gospel message is strengthened. The gospel itself is an example of this. Jesus valued his mission from God as more important than his own life, and his followers ought to do likewise.

And yet…

Thrice Denied.002

many Christians have denied Jesus when faced with persecution. The most obvious example of this is Peter—he denied Jesus three times, yet Jesus directly told him that he was still a follower of Christ (John 21:19). So on the one hand, the heart of the gospel is a truth worth dying for (as evidenced by Jesus and most of the Apostles), but on the other hand the gospel offers forgiveness even to those who deny Christ.

This is potentially confusing because of 2 Timothy 2:12: “If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us.”

But the denial in this verse is not talking about the momentary denial like Peter, or like a student scared for his life in the face of a gunman. That denial references the absolute walking away from the faith; apostasy.  And in that case, there is no salvation.

This verse seems so drastic, and that is the point. Paul—himself facing martyrdom (4:6)—challenges his readers to persevere. But Paul does not want true believers to lose heart, and so he immediately follows verse 12 with:

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13).”

There will always be moments where we lose faith, but for those who are in Christ, we should have confidence that while we may lose faith, Jesus may never lose us. Even if we momentarily are gripped by fear, and value our lives more than the life of Christ, Jesus still possesses us, and he cannot deny himself.

But if we are being honest with our selves, we know this. We know that if the gunman were to point his gun at us, we should say that we are Christians, and so boldly proclaim the gospel even in the face of death. But we also don’t know what we would do. Would we have the strength to do what we ought?

And this is where the promises of the Bible really come alive. Jesus tells us that the time will come when Christians will be delivered over to die, and in the meantime we should “not worry about what you are to say, for it will be given to you in that hour” (Matthew 10:19).

In other words, God doesn’t give us the grace or the wisdom to bravely face martyrdom until the moment when we need that grace. It doesn’t come in advance, but rather at the moment.

So if you don’t feel like you would face death well, then don’t worry (Jesus literally forbids it!). Instead, strive to grow in your faith and courage, knowing that if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.

Browse Worthy: Boning Up on Our Doctrine

Two of my favorite bloggers have done helpful series recently on doctrine. You would do well to sharpen your minds by reading these carefully written posts.

First, Kevin DeYoung reminds us of the five questions Francis Turretin asked in Institutes of Elenctic Theology regarding sanctification and good works. In the clear, readable style he’s known for, Kevin interacts with Turretin and others in pinpointing the distinctions necessary to stay on the straight and narrow path of holiness.

Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: How Does Sanctification Differ from Justification?

Five Questions About Sanctification and Good Works: Can We Fulfill the Law Absolutely in this Life?

Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Are Good Works Necessary to Salvation?

Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Can Justified Believers Do that which is Truly Good?

Five Questions about Sanctification and Good Works: Do Good Works Merit Eternal Life?

Next, David Murray highlights important truths in understanding the system that is known as Calvinism in his series. With great clarity, David makes the careful distinctions necessary to prevent veering off into forms of Calvinism that are caricatures of it rather than its true representation.

There’s More to Calvinism than the Five Points of Calvinism

There’s more to the doctrines of grace than THE doctrines of grace

Three Ways to Present the Doctrines of Grace

The Five Distortions of Calvinism

(With all the emphasis on the number five in both these series, I have to wonder if David will do one more. If so, I will gladly add it in!)

Grace Redeems the Worst Pasts

Grace Redeems the Worst PastsGod’s grace rescued one of the worst sinners in history, a man who by his own admission was a persecutor, blasphemer, and murderer. Paul’s story gives every sinner hope. In this lab, John Piper defines grace and explains how it meets us in the midst of our brokenness and rebellion.

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What Dave Gibbons Taught Me About Racism, Courage, and the Power of Listening

Dave Gibbons shared important insight into reaching other cultures, the power of one verses the masses, learning from the locals and developing leaders on Episode 26 of the ChurchLeaders Podcast. I loved all these things. But what impacted me most were a few thoughts he shared toward the end of the interview.

How the Church Can Address Racism

“It’s not that we don’t see color, because God made color; he created it. We actually have to affirm the color, but also learn how to embrace the other,” said Gibbons.

We often say our vision is to love God and love our neighbor. He said, “Fundamentally, our neighbor is someone not like you.” Like in the story of the Good Samaritan, it was shocking to the Jews that a Samaritan would be loving. This was not someone they would have been comfortable with.

“I think that’s the beauty of the Gospel… It’s not a politically correct thing to do, but it’s actually the command He gave us. To love God and then symbiotically we need to love our neighbors; someone not like you. In that pursuit, I believe we see more of who God is.”

What’s Some Advice You Would Go Back and Give Yourself?

“Don’t be afraid to identify clearly and address your fears. Spend time considering how you want to embrace the fear and move on to courage,” Gibbons said.

“I didn’t even know how to articulate some of my fears. For example, the fear of man and how that worked out in how I did ministry because a lot of it was probably I would do things based on what people would say or think versus really dealing with that fear and moving forward in faith.”

And One More Piece of Advice

“Take the time to really listen to those who are in your hand. Because a lot of times you’re looking at reaching out so much and trying to reach your community, that already, in the context of your relationships, there are these jewels like the Samaritan woman, like Rahab and the fishermen.

There is somebody, probably within your reach, that you haven’t seen that’s golden. It’s not about “I wish I had this mentor or I wish I knew this leader.” It’s probably someone within your reach, that may not be famous, but they are the exact person to mentor you where you are right now.

And then go deep with them, hang out with them and learn from them. Instead of just talking a lot, I would ask a lot of questions and watch how they live.”

Listen to the Episode 26 with Dave Gibbons.

The post What Dave Gibbons Taught Me About Racism, Courage, and the Power of Listening appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.

Hymn History—Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound

Amazing Grace, John Newton (1779)

This is perhaps the most well-known hymn. Christians and non-Christians alike sing this song by the former atheist slave trader. John Newton felt he was the worst “wretch” of all. But God caught his attention in a brutal storm at sea in 1748. Newton’s slave trade ship was almost wrecked, but Newton fell to his knees to ask for God’s mercy and grace. Years later, as a pastor in England, he wrote this song.

Be amazed by grace today.

But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.
Ephesians 4:7

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2:8-9

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace:
1 Peter 4:10

May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
2 Peter 1:2

The post Hymn History—Amazing Grace! How Sweet the Sound appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.

The Pleasure of Pleasing God

The Pleasure of Pleasing GodHow we live, day in and day out, affects our relationship with Almighty God. It’s a stunning truth the Bible teaches plainly. God so cares about us as a Father, that he finds happiness in our obedience and sadness in our disobedience.

I’m catching a glimpse of this in parenting my two-year-old daughter. There is a static element of our relationship: nothing she can do can make her less my daughter. She could run away, change her name, and say she’ll never talk to me again, but the fact remains — she’s my daughter. My love for her remains fixed and unchanged.

But there’s also a dynamic element in our relationship. When my daughter and I are playing together in the living room, my delight as a father is full. I have barriers in place for her and commands to be followed, but she can act like a wrecking ball in that fence of obedience, and it brings me incredible joy. And the more I laugh and delight in her, the more she works to keep me laughing. She’ll play the same games over and over again so that I keep playing; she’ll tell the same two-year old jokes to keep me laughing.

My daughter sees that what she is doing brings me pleasure as her father, and so she wants to do whatever it takes to keep bringing me pleasure. Not because she’s afraid that I’ll stop loving her at any moment so she needs to earn my delight — I don’t love her any more during these high moments of joy — but because she is finding her own joy in my joy.

Grieved Because I Love Her

But then the dinner bell rings, and we need to shift from playtime to dinnertime. If my daughter throws a tantrum because she wants to keep playing, the joy that I had turns into grief. Why? She’s no longer concerned about pleasing me; now she only wants to please herself. No longer is she seeking to find her delight in my delight but now is seeking to find her delight at the expense of my delight.

As her father, I’m grieved at her disobedience — not because I love her any less — but because she has chosen to disobey one of my good rules (eating!) and has instead chosen to find joy in something that will not satisfy.

While my love is steadfast, my happiness with my daughter can ebb and flow based on her posture toward me. Her actions have potential to bring me delight, but they also have potential to bring me sadness.

Union and Communion

This difference between static and dynamic aspects of relationships is seen in how we relate with God.

Our union with Christ is static. Union does not ebb and flow; it does not waver; it does not increase or decrease; it is consistent. And praise God for this fixed element! We don’t need to lose our assurance as children of God every time we sin. We can look back to our union with Christ and repent, rather than question if we are actually saved or not.

Our communion with Christ is dynamic. Communion increases and decreases. If you are walking in habitual sin, your relationship with God may feel dry. If you are walking in regular obedience, your relationship with God may feel full. If you seek to please God — to find your joy in what he delights in — then your communion with God will be rich. If you seek to please yourself at the expense of God’s pleasure, then your communion will be dull.

The Pleasure of Pursuing Holiness

Pleasing God directly relates to our pursuit of holiness. When we say no to sin, and yes to righteousness, we do so as two-year-olds bringing their Father pleasure. God is not apathetic to our obedience; he has committed his own joy to it.

When sin sings its siren song, we can listen to another voice saying to us, “Well done, enter into the joy of your Master” (Matthew 25:21), and that inspires the motivation that we need to pursue holiness. Knowing that our obedience has the ability to bring happiness to the God of the galaxies is incredible motivation. And knowing that our disobedience can bring God grief and sorrow keeps us from treating sin lightly.

Two Good Guides

We see this element at work in both the apostle Paul and C.S. Lewis.

When Paul looked to motivate his readers to obedience, he focused on the dynamic reality of pleasing God:

So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. (2 Corinthians 5:9)

Walk as children of light . . . and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8, 10)

Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more. (1 Thessalonians 4:1)

And when C.S. Lewis thought about the promise of glory that is given to believers, he looked at how it relates to our pleasing God:

The promise of glory is the promise, almost incredible and only possible by the work of Christ, that some of us, that any of us who really chooses . . . shall find approval, shall please God. To please God . . . to be a real ingredient in the divine happiness . . . to be loved by God, not merely pitied, but delighted in as an artist delights in his work or a father in a son —it seems impossible, a weight or burden of glory which our thoughts can hardly sustain. But so it is. (The Weight of Glory, emphasis added)

Every decision that you make, every choice that you have in front of you to pursue sin or to pursue righteousness, is a chance to bring happiness to God himself.

We need the static element of union to keep us from doubting. But we also need the dynamic aspect of communion to keep us pursuing. Both are for our joy. We make it our pleasure to please him.

Related Resources

A La Carte (October 15)

Today’s Kindle deals include Is It My Fault? by Lindsey & Justin Holcomb ($3.99); Pujols by Scott Lamb & Tim Ellsworth ($0.99); and A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliott ($1.99). New from GLH Publishing is The Gospel of the Kingdom: An Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew by Charles Spurgeon ($1.50).

Nobody Cares How Hard You Work

Ouch! “We chronically confuse the feeling of effort with the reality of results—and for anyone working in a creative field, that means the constant risk of frittering time and energy on busywork, instead of the work that counts.”

The 9Marks Mailbag

I really enjoy the 9Marks mailbag feature. The latest version comes with this interesting headline: “Renting Out Church Facilities; Too Busy to Elder; Transitioning to Closed Communion; Problems with Secret Societies.”

Playboy Is Too Boring to Succeed

That’s the reality, isn’t it? And it’s a powerful illustration of the nature of sin. What at first is shocking and alluring eventually and inevitably becomes bland and boring.

Earliest Known Draft of King James Bible

This is an amazing discovery. “An American scholar has found what he says is an important new clue to the earthly processes behind that masterpiece: the earliest known draft, and the only one definitively written in the hand of one of the roughly four dozen translators who worked on it.”

Five Distortions of Calvinism

David Murray lists five ways that we may distort Calvinist theology through our words and actions.

This Day in 1949. Joni Earickson Tada was born. A very happy sixty-sixth birthday to you, Joni!

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

There are some top-notch photos from this year’s London’s Natural History Museum photography contest.

How to Diffuse the Accusation of Intolerance

This isn’t foolproof, I’m sure, but it’s at least a start.

Christian Headlines Daily – Thursday, October 15, 2015


Top Headlines

Couple Who Believe in Faith-based Healing Convicted of Killing Son by Not Giving Him Medical Care

Religious Jews Target of Latest Attacks by Palestinians

Kidnapped Christian Schoolgirls Reportedly Alive, but Ill and Pregnant

Hillary Clinton Emerges Victorious in First Democratic Primary Debate

Pakistan’s Supreme Court Makes Landmark Judgment

Meet the Nobel-nominated Priest Who Rescues African Refugees from Mediterranean

Ohio Church Congregation Tips Domino’s Driver More Than $1,000 for $5.99 Pizza

Syrian Priest Kidnapped by Islamic State Released after 5 Months

As Conflict Escalates in Middle East, U.S. Says It is Not Taking Sides

Planned Parenthood Says It Will No Longer Accept Reimbursement for Fetal Tissue ‘Donations’


Bad News, Indeed — Playboy Opened the Floodgates and Now the Culture is Drowning

How Does God View the Role of Women in Society?

Dealing with Miscarriage and Stillbirth

Why Playboy’s Announcement is Bad News

What We Mean by ‘Mine’: Working for God’s Kingdom

READING: Matthew 8:14-34, Mark 4-5

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  Is your life chaotic today? Chapters 4 and 5 of Mark portray Jesus as the master over nature (a calmed sea), demons (a freed demoniac), sickness (a healed woman), and death (a resurrected daughter). Within those stories, though, is a picture of Jesus as the master over chaos. When Mark could have easily said that “the sea was raging,” “the man had a lot of demons,” “a woman was sick,” and “the daughter was dead,” he instead piled us phrases to help us see (and perhaps even feel) the chaos. Read these dramatic descriptions, and enter the stories:

Mark 4:37  A fierce windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking over the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped.

Mark 5:3-5  He [a demoniac] lived in the tombs. No one was able to restrain him anymore—even with chains—because he often had been bound with shackles and chains, but had snapped off the chains and smashed the shackles. No one was strong enough to subdue him. And always, night and day, he was crying out among the tombs and in the mountains and cutting himself with stones.

Mark 5:25-26  A woman suffering from bleeding for 12 years had endured much under many doctors. She had spent everything she had and was not helped at all. On the contrary, she became worse.

Mark 5:35, 38  While He was still speaking, people came from the synagogue leader’s house and said, “Your daughter is dead. Why bother the Teacher anymore?” . . . They came to the leader’s house, and He saw a commotion—people weeping and wailing loudly.

Fear. Out of control waves.

Possession. An out of control heart.

Disease. A patient with no control.

Death. Grief. Again, no control.

But, into the chaos steps Jesus, the Master over all. He who calms the waves also exorcises demons, heals sicknesses, and raises the dead. Chaos meets its match in the One who is in control.

Maybe your life is, in fact, chaotic today. You’d love to see change, but you’re not in control. That’s okay, though — Jesus is.

ACTION STEPS: Study these passages again to see Jesus in control. As you read, pray for God to help you trust Him in the chaos.

PRAYER: “God, give me faith today to see You as Lord over anything and everything I face.”

Our Time is Short

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

What is The Gospel?

God made everything out of nothing, including you and me. His main purpose in creation was to bring him pleasure.

The chief way in which we as humanity do this is through loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.

Instead of this, we have sinned against our loving Creator and acted in high-handed rebellion.

God has vowed that he will righteously and lovingly judge sinners with eternal death.

But God, being merciful, loving, gracious, and just, sent his own son, Jesus Christ, in the likeness of man to live as a man; fulfilling his perfect requirements in the place of sinners; loving, obeying, and enjoying him perfectly.

And further, his son bore the eternal judgment of God upon the cross of Calvary, as he satisfied the eternal anger of God, standing in the place of sinners. God treated Jesus as a sinner, though he was perfectly sinless, that he might declare sinners as perfect.

This glorious transaction occurs as the sinner puts their faith (dependence, trust) in the Lord Jesus Christ as their substitute. God then charges Christ’s perfection to the sinner, and no longer views him as an enemy but instead an adopted son covered in the perfect righteousness of his son.

God furnished proof that this sacrifice was accepted by raising Jesus from the dead.

God will judge the world in righteousness and all of those who are not covered in the righteousness of Christ, depending on him for forgiveness, will be forced to stand on their own to bear the eternal anger of God.

Therefore, all must turn from sin and receive Christ Jesus as Lord.

Ready to start your new life with God?

Who do you think that I am?

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more

Resource Links

CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.

Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!

30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.

New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.

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

About Christianity
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed

Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer

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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther

“In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in all things, charity.”

— Augustine

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