October 16, 2015 Christian Briefing Report

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4 Questions to Ask Your Pastor

I imagine it’s the same most weeks, and I wonder if that’s what the pastor really wants to talk about. Does he enjoy the jumble of “lovely-weather-we’re-having” and “could-you-explain-this-in-the-Greek”? Or does he secretly wish someone would ask him about his sports team? His library? His soul?  I’m not a pastor, but I happen to know a few, so I surveyed them: “What questions do you want people in your church to ask you?” Their responses were thoughtful, Christ-centered, and certain to benefit the asker just as much as the answerer. They are pastors, after all.

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Five Arguments Against Future Justification According to Works

Believers will not stand for judgment on the basis of their own works. Even while acknowledging that our sins have already been judged at the cross, some will argue that we must still be justified by our good works. Their key passage is Romans 2:6-13, where Paul speaks of “the doers of the law” being justified (2:13). Reformed theology has classically regarded this passage as describing how religious people hope to be justified apart from Christ.  

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God Uses Ordinary People in Extraordinary Ways

Every gift is from God. Every gift is supernatural and extraordinary. So use your gift! If you don’t know your gift, just serve in whatever way you can. Give someone a ride to church. Make a meal for someone. Help out in the work project at someone’s home. Just serve, no matter how mundane or ordinary your serving may seem.

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

That is a stunning and sadly accurate assessment on all three fronts. The iconic magazines of the sexual revolution, the very magazines that promoted the sexual revolution and opened the floodgates to even more explicit and graphic pornography, have lost their ability to shock, their ability to sell themselves to the public, and their cultural relevance — and it is precisely because the culture has become Playboy and what was once shocking is now a feature of mainstream American culture.

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Anne Askew: The Extraordinary Life of a Reformation Martyr

A final refusal to recant her beliefs  landed Anne a conviction of heresy for denying the doctrine of transubstantiation and she was sentenced to death. Unable to stand, she was carried on a chair to Smithfield just outside the London Wall. She was fastened to the stake by a chain wrapped around her waist to hold her up and then burned alive alongside three fellow martyrs. These men were so greatly comforted by Anne’s “invincible constancy” and persuasions that “they did set apart all kind of fear.”

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Rethinking Biblical Application

Dr. Stuart Scott once said it was a regular practice of his to spend time every Monday going over his notes from Sunday.  In other words, Dr. Scott wants to do everything he can to be a “doer of the Word” and not merely “a hearer only.”  How many times have we left the service without ever thinking about the sermon again?  Probably more than we would like to admit.  If you are not growing spiritually, it may not be an intake problem as much as it is a prayer and meditation problem.

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Not an Overbold Beginning

Only the incidentals of our current situation have changed.  The underlying principles remain always the same, and thus  the church’s task remains the same: to declare with a ‘This saith the Lord!’ that this age is passing.  Now is not the time to lose confidence in the very mode of God’s action in this world, nor is it the time to put men in pulpits who lack the conviction, the calling, and the skills for the task.  Now is the time to focus more than ever on the training of those who can speak with authority from the pulpit because they speak with the authority of God himself.

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EXCLUSIVE: Football coach says he will defy school's prayer ban

EXCLUSIVE: Football coach says he will defy school’s prayer ban

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Christian Examiner

There’s a scene in the great football film Facing the Giants when the coach decides to implement a new coaching philosophy – to praise God no matter what the result.

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Love and Repect: Basics for Marriage

Love and Repect: Basics for Marriage

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Desiring God

Think of it as two kinds of car that run on different kinds of fuel — diesel and regular, say. Men run on respect, and wives run on love. Men should remember that their wives need to be loved, and their wives should remember that their husbands need to be respected.

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With 'Woodlawn,' Christian films enter new playing field

With ‘Woodlawn,’ Christian films enter new playing field

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Ministry Matters

Never underestimate the power of pigskin and prayer. When the government mandated that Woodlawn High School desegregate in 1973, riots and cross burnings ignited Birmingham, Ala…

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Jon Voight Says New Faith-Based Film 'Woodlawn' Celebrates Christian Faith Amid 'Disheartening' Persecution Around The Globe

Jon Voight Says New Faith-Based Film ‘Woodlawn’ Celebrates Christian Faith Amid ‘Disheartening’ Persecution Around The Globe

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Gospel Herald

Oscar-winning Hollywood actor Jon Voight recently opened up about his role in the new faith-based film Woodlawn, revealing that it “celebrates the Christian faith and its influence on young people” at a time when discrimination against Christians in the United States and across the world is rampant.

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‘Justin Bieber of Nepal’ Converts to Christianity

‘Justin Bieber of Nepal’ Converts to Christianity

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Christianity Today

Chart-topping folk singer Raju Pariyar hopes to share his new faith with Hindu fans.

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Could 'Woodlawn' be 'catalyst' to awakening?

Could ‘Woodlawn’ be ‘catalyst’ to awakening?

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Baptist Press

‘Woodlawn,’ a movie about overcoming racial division through faith in Christ, could contribute to ‘the next spiritual awakening in the United States,’ Southern Baptist Convention President Ronnie Floyd said during a simulcast to promote the film.

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Church focuses on unchurched in Quebec

Church focuses on unchurched in Quebec

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Baptist Press

By the numbers, the launch of Église 21 was a resounding success. In addition to the launch team of 80, 150 guests from the community attended the church’s first official service Sept. 27.

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ISIS Fighter Who Sought To Kill Christian Missionaries Surrenders Life to Christ After Seeing Jesus In a Dream, Witnessing Faith of Believers

ISIS Fighter Who Sought To Kill Christian Missionaries Surrenders Life to Christ After Seeing Jesus In a Dream, Witnessing Faith of Believers

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Gospel Herald

In an amazing story of redemption and hope, an Islamic State militant who sought to kill a group of Christians providing aid to those displaced by the terrorist group ended up surrendering his life to Christ after hearing the Gospel and witnessing the love of the believers.

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Why Christians Should Care about the Attack on Joseph's Tomb

Why Christians Should Care about the Attack on Joseph’s Tomb

Posted on October 16, 2015 by CBN

Palestinian youths torched Joseph’s Tomb near the city of Nablus Thursday. This is just the latest in a series attacks against one of the most revered sites in the Jewish faith, and it should also mean a great deal to Christians as well.

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CBN News Sunday: America's Fatherlessness Crisis

CBN News Sunday: America’s Fatherlessness Crisis

Posted on October 16, 2015 by CBN

The crisis reaches across the nation: more than 24 million children living without their fathers. But some folks aren’t just sitting by and watching; they are doing something to help.

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Church of Lucifer to open in the heart of Bible Belt

Church of Lucifer to open in the heart of Bible Belt

Posted on October 16, 2015 by Christian Examiner

The first Greater Church of Lucifer will open later this month in a Houston suburb and just in time for Halloween, organizers of the venture have said.

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Another Christian leader mollifies ‘LGBT’ lobby

Linda Harvey zings Baptist chief for apologizing to protesters at seminary

Has the Christian church sinned against homosexuals or those who claim they were born in the wrong sex body?

For that matter, are some people unchangeably “lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered”? Christians who follow Scripture will quickly refute claims that excuse these sins. These identities are not natural to the human condition nor to God’s created order.

So why are Christian leaders like Rev. R. Albert Mohler Jr. implying otherwise as they confess the alleged “sins” of the Christian church against these sexual rebels?

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Answers to the most frequently asked questions about the “War of Gog & Magog.” – Joel Rosenberg

Today is Part Four in our study of Ezekiel 38 & 39 and what Bible scholars call the “War of Gog and Magog.”

In light of the growing alliance between Russia and Iran, and the growing interest in eschatology among Muslims, Jews and Christians, many of you have questions regarding these prophecies.

Today, let’s answer three of the most frequently asked questions.

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In the Wings…

This coming leader will likely know and understand who he is and what his true mission is long before anybody else. Equally so, with the False Prophet and the deception they together will bring. The whole world will marvel at these two satanically sanctioned men.

The Antichrist and the False Prophet will come closer than anybody else before him in making the world believe, through false miracles, huge intellect, power and a false peace that they are actually is divine. This is especially true for the Antichrist.

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Big Brother Goes Global – Hal Lindsey

On September 25th, Pope Francis gave an address to the United Nations General Assembly. In it, he presented a list of what he called UN accomplishments. Then he said, “Without all those interventions on the international level, mankind would not have been able to survive.”

It was a bizarre moment to hear this man, famous for his faith, praising the UN as mankind’s savior over the last 70 years. Because he sees the UN in such a lofty role, it’s only natural that he wants to give it more power — even to the point of world governance.

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Obama: Christians threaten nation

And where, pray tell, does this threat come from? From the Muslim Brotherhood, which has a stated goal of exterminating Western civilization and sabotaging our miserable house from within? Nope. From ISIS, which is actively recruiting jihadists in all 50 states? Nope. Jihadists who are sneaking into the United States disguised as Syrian refugees? Nope.

No, the real threat to our national security, according to our president and his minions, is coming from the Family Research Council and the American Family Association.

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Israel: You Missed Your Messiah, But It Was God’s Plan For The World

I have been reading that many in Israel are searching and researching about the long awaited Messiah. I remember as a child, at the Passover table, we would leave a seat for Elijah the Prophet. It remained empty each year, and we would say “Maybe next year in Jerusalem.” My family, like yours, was waiting for the promised Messiah.

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ISIS Terrorist Abandons Jihad After Witnessing ‘Love of Christians’ at Jordanian Refugee Camp, Aid Group Says

Christian Aid Mission has said that Islamic State militants are disguising themselves as refugees at some U.N.-operated refugee camps in Jordan, where they are killing people and selling girls. One such terrorist reportedly abandoned his mission to murder people after seeing the “love of Christians” at the camps.

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12 Pillars of Faith for Parents of Children with Disabilities

We need a theology of disability that both glorifies the Creator and honors the incredible value of every human life. As a father who lives in the world of special needs, there are 12 biblical truths that have become important for me to continually meditate upon. These form theological pillars that uphold our faith. Continue reading


Bubble-wrapping Our Kids

Protecting young people from emotional harm is a noble aim, but have we gone a bit overboard? Listen Now | Download


Logic and Biblical Christianity

There is an emerging pattern when Christians engage atheists and “scientists” these days on the debate about truth and the origins of man.  This pattern is that science and atheists claim they are the “logical ones” and we Christians are relegated to people who live in fantasy land, void of any logical points to our […]

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Polanus On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

The works of God which shall be done after this life, are both the general raising up of the dead, and the last judgement: and also the manifesting of Gods glory to all eternity. The general raising up of the dead, is a work of God by which after the number of the elect shall […]

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Watson On The State Of Believers In The Judgment

What shall be the modus, or the manner of trial? (1.) The citing of men to court. The dead are cited as well as the living. Men, when they die, avoid the century of our law-courts; but at the last day, they are cited to God’s tribunal. ‘I saw the dead,small and great, stand before […]

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Replacing Christianity

Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, calls to our attention that because of  “biblical illiteracy—or, in many cases, willful blindness and rebellion—people can call themselves “Christians” while rejecting Christian teachings.” I actually coined a term for these so-called Christians: low-information evangelicals.  I penned a piece about them entitled “The low-information evangelical”(LIE) and made […]

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Boycott Gay Weddings, Even Family, Says Southern Baptist Leader Al Mohler

Evangelical heavyweight Albert Mohler expresses his view on Christians attending a gay wedding. Christian Headlines has the full report:

Gay marriage Christians should not attend a same-sex wedding — even of their own child — because it signals “moral approval” of the union, the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary said in a new book.

Boycotting weddings of gay friends and loved ones will be excruciatingly difficult, The Rev. Albert Mohler wrote in We Cannot Be Silent, which goes on sale Oct. 27.

“At some point, attendance will involve congratulating the couple for their union,” he wrote. “If you can’t congratulate the couple, how can you attend?”

Even if scientists prove people are born gay, the “sinfulness of homosexuality” would not be eliminated because human sin taints the world, Mohler said in addressing other topics of sexual identity. He contended that transgender people who are “saved” should consult with their pastors about whether to have surgery to return to their original gender.

http://www.christianheadlines.com/news/boycott-gay-weddings-even-family-says-southern-baptist-leader-al-mohler.html/


How to Pick a Best Friend

by Erin Davis

What makes the best kind of best friend? Here’s what’s on my list.

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


Mormon-Owned Marriott “Love Travel” Campaign Continues Push for Homosexuality in its Hotels

According to Christian News Network:

The Mormon-owned international hotel chain Marriott continues to promote the company’s support of homosexuality through its marketing department, building off of its #lovetravels campaign.

The hotel chain has compiled several stories from homosexual partners in its ongoing promotional effort, which began last year, and is placing online banner advertisements to promote its “lesbian and gay travel” accommodations. It is also encouraging Tweeters to post its #lovetravels hashtag to show support.

The Marriott website has a page dedicated to trumpeting its support for homosexuality, stating that “[a]t Marriott, there is no room for inequality.”

http://christiannews.net/2015/10/15/mormon-owned-marriott-love-travels-campaign-continues-push-for-homosexuality-in-hotels/


Logic and Biblical Christianity

There is an emerging pattern when Christians engage atheists and “scientists” these days on the debate about truth and the origins of man.  This pattern is that science and atheists claim they are the “logical ones” and we Christians are relegated to people who live in fantasy land, void of any logical points to our […]

The post Logic and Biblical Christianity appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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In the World, But Not Of the World

William Murray of the Religious Freedom Coalition discusses the continued persecution of Christians in the Middle East by the evil known as ISIS. Plus, a conversation about engaging our pagan culture.

The post In the World, But Not Of the World appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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In-The-World-But-Not-Of-The-World.mp3 21.6 MB


Another Gospel

These days the number of “false gospels” out there is growing by leaps and bounds. This is nothing new. Don Venoit joins us on today’s program.

The post Another Gospel appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Another-Gospel.mp3 21.4 MB


What’s in Your Bible?

KJV, NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV… We have dozens of Bible translations to choose from when we read the Word.

The post What’s in Your Bible? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Whats-in-Your-Bible.mp3 21.9 MB


Are We Becoming Afraid to Teach the Truth?

When we look back over the last few decades, it seems we are seeing a completely different America. Linda Harvey of Mission America is our guest today.

The post Are We Becoming Afraid to Teach the Truth? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Are-We-Becoming-Afraid-to-Teach-the-Truth.mp3 24.1 MB


Israel Rejects United Nations Global Army Intervention At Temple Mount

Israel on Friday rejected Palestinian calls for an international force to be deployed in East Jerusalem to promote calm around the Temple Mount and the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque.

“Therefore wait ye upon me, saith the LORD, until the day that I rise up to the prey: for my determination is to gather the nations, that I may assemble the kingdoms, to pour upon them mine indignation, even all my fierce anger: for all the earth shall be devoured with the fire of my jealousy.” Zephaniah 3:8 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: Throughout the Bible, it clearly prophesies that in the time of Jacob’s trouble, all the armies of the world will gather against Israel. What you are watching right now is the ramp up to that event that will take place after the Rapture of the Church. God tells us to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” because that’s the place that the Devil wants to control. And he wants to control it because that’s also the place where Jesus will rule and reign from for 1,000 years. That, my friends, is ultimately the entire reason why all this is happening. 

Let me be crystal clear — Israel will not agree to any international presence on the Temple Mount. Such a presence would be a change in the status quo,” Israeli Deputy Ambassador David Roet told the UN Security Council.

The 15-member council met in an emergency session to discuss weeks of escalating violence between Israel and the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the territories. The urgent talks were requested by council member Jordan following a meeting on Thursday of Arab ambassadors who expressed alarm at the escalating situation.

united-nations-un-peace-keeping-military-forces-one-world-new-order

UN global army not welcome on the Jewish Temple Mount, and rightly so.

Palestinian envoy to the UN Riyad Mansour had called on the Security Council to provide international protection to the holy site. But Roet said Israel was respectful of all religions in the city. Meanwhile, he said, the Palestinians were unwilling to acknowledge any Jewish rights to the capital’s holy sites.

On Friday, Palestinians torched a Jewish holy site in the West Bank as they staged a “Friday of revolution” against Israel and a Palestinian man posing as a news photographer stabbed an Israeli soldier before he was shot dead.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon “strongly condemns this reprehensible act and calls on those responsible to be swiftly brought to justice,” Assistant Secretary General Taye-Brook Zerihoun told the council.

But Zerihoun also criticized what he called Israel’s “apparent heavy-handed” use of force in dealing with Palestinian violence and said Israeli actions raised “serious questions” about the proportionality of the response.

He said the current crisis could not be solved by military means alone and was a result of ongoing despair by the Palestinians coupled with a lack of hope in the face of ongoing settlement expansion, as well as economic hardship. He accused both sides of escalating the tensions through their fiery rhetoric and called on all parties to work to restore calm.

While Ban’s representative welcomed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin’s Netanyahu’s repeated statements that Israel does not intend to change the status quo at the Temple Mount, he said statements were insufficient, as growing movements within the Israeli right were seeking to expand Israeli control over the compound, and were promoting their agenda through words and actions.

Jerusalem, he said, needed to do more on the ground to assure the world that it was committed to the status quo.

Ahead of the meeting, Israel’s recently installed Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon said the council did not need another general discussion about the situation but rather a meeting on the “wild incitement” by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, which, he said, was encouraging a wave of terror attacks against Israelis.

“Israelis are being stabbed, bombed, run over and stoned, yet this council remains silent,” he added.

The ambassador presented a Palestinian poster that describes the most efficient way to stab Jews and said the Palestinian leadership had “established an incubator to raise children as terrorists.

“Instead of educating about peace and tolerance, the Palestinian leadership is brainwashing children with incitement and hate,” he said. source


Jesus, Judgment, Resurrection and Hope

According to Scripture there are certainly realities we can always count on. These include the fact that we will all die, we will all stand before our maker and judge, and we will all live forever in one of two eternities. While our surrounding secular culture rarely if ever thinks or speaks about such realities, sadly many churches are no longer doing so either.

Our feel-good, self-centred churchianity of today has long ago stopped preaching the hard words of Scripture, including the hard words of Jesus, and has instead concentrated on making people feel good about themselves. We tell people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear.

And one of the things they most need to hear today is the truth that Jesus is not some peace-loving hippy but the holy and righteous God of the universe with whom we all have to do. He came offering us a way back to the Father, but it was always meant to be on his terms, not ours. Faith and repentance are key parts of this.

Indeed, repentance was a key theme in the preaching of Jesus. I am just now reading through the gospel of Mark and we find this as a constant:
Mark 1:4-5 – John preached repentance
Mark 1:14-15 – Jesus preached repentance
Mark 6:12 – the disciples preached repentance

Also preached constantly by Jesus was the reality of wrath to come for those who do not repent. He spoke more about coming judgment, hellfire and the just judgment of God than anyone else in Scripture. Indeed, if it were not for Jesus, we would know much less about the reality of hell and what awaits the unrepentant.

Having just been through the gospel of Matthew again, let me simply list what Jesus said there about this topic:

Matthew 3:11-12 [John the Baptist speaking about Jesus] I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.
Matthew 5:22 But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.
Matthew 5:29-30 If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you; for it is more profitable for you that one of your members perish, than for your whole body to be cast into hell.
Matthew 7:13 Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.
Matthew 7:19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 8:12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matthew 13:30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.”
Matthew 13:40-42 Therefore as the tares are gathered and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of this age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:49-50 This is how it will be at the end of the age. The angels will come and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 18:8-9 If your hand or foot causes you to sin, cut it off and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life lame or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet, to be cast into the everlasting fire. And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out and cast it from you. It is better for you to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes, to be cast into hell fire.
Matthew 22:13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 23:33 You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?
Matthew 24:51 He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 25:26-30 You wicked, lazy servant!… throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Wow, that sure is a lot of strong and ominous talk about judgment, wrath to come, and hell. It seems that every other chapter at least has stern warnings about hell and future judgment. Those Christians who want to paint Jesus as just some nice guy who wants everyone just to be happy and smile a lot have obviously not bothered to read the gospel of Matthew.

easter 8Resurrection and hope

But there is good news here in the face of all this bad news. We can avoid this eternal judgment of God by simply availing ourselves of what Christ has done for us. He took our place at Calvary, suffering on our behalf, so that we might find forgiveness and new life if we turn to him in repentance.

We not only can get right with God and know that we can enjoy his presence forever, but we then have great hope and comfort in this life as well. Tragedy, hardship and suffering befall all of us in this life, but knowing about our future hope gives us the ability to keep on.

Because Jesus arose from the dead we too can have this tremendous hope. All this is rather poignant for me at the moment because a good friend my age has just passed away. It has been a time of grief and sadness, and I miss him already.

But I am sustained by knowing that I will see him again. One day we will meet and resume our friendship. He was a forgiven disciple of Christ, as am I. Therefore even though he is gone now, he is not gone forever. We will one day be reunited.

More importantly we will one day be reunited with our Lord. So despite the pains and sorrows of life, the believer has a rugged hope and an assured expectation of the future. We have been transferred from death to life, from the wrath of God to the grace of God, all because of what Jesus did for us.

That is great news indeed. Why anyone would refuse all that Christ offers us is quite puzzling. But we have an obligation to keep proclaiming biblical truth: the hard bits as well as the good bits. And that I shall continue to do.


9 Questions to Determine if You’re a Christian Leader

By Chuck Lawless

Many of us find ourselves in leadership positions, but we wonder sometimes if we’re really leading. And, frankly, sometimes there are folks around us who also wonder if we’re leading. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you’re really leading as a Christian leader.

  1. If others knew my life intimately, would they want to follow me? This question, of course, covers the “Christian” part of Christian leadership. If you’re not living in such a way that you model Christ (1 Cor. 11:1), you’re not leading as a Christian should.
  2. Am I uncomfortable with the status quo? Even when things are going well, strong leaders are always praying about and seeking the next steps to accomplish God’s best. If you’re comfortable with where you and your church are, you might be in maintenance mode rather than leadership mode.
  3. Do I have a picture of a bright future? This question is the vision question. If you aren’t able to see what God might want to do through your ministry in the future – or if you’ve simply given up on the future – you’re probably reacting more than leading.
  4. Do I see people as God’s gift or as a means to an end? If people are just a means to an end, we will use them rather than lead them – and that’s unchristian. When we see them as God’s gift, we will lead them to walk with Him and experience His best. How do you see your congregation?
  5. Is anyone following me? John Maxwell and others have pointed out that a leader with no followers is only taking a walk. No leader gets everyone to follow (even Jesus didn’t), but somebody will get on board with a genuine Christian leader who captures and casts God’s vision. You’re probably not leading well if nobody’s following.
  6. Am I investing in anyone personally? It’s hard to read the New Testament and not see Jesus and Paul as leaders who intentionally mentored others. Based on their models, good Christian leadership includes pouring your life into a few people. To not do that is to miss one of the best opportunities for genuinely leading.
  7. If I leave, will the ministry carry on well? The true test of our leadership is not when we’re “on the ground”; it’s when God calls us away, and the church must go on without us. If your church’s ministry suffers when you’re gone, you’ve not been the best leader. In fact, it’s possible you’ve built your own kingdom rather than God’s.
  8. Am I continuing to learn? Leaders who already know it all will lead only so far. Inevitably, they will hit the ceiling of their training and knowledge. At that point, all they can do is live in maintenance mode unless they begin learning again. If you’re not continually reading, studying, listening, etc., you may have hit your leadership ceiling.
  9. Am I accountable to somebody for my godliness? This question takes us back to the first one. If you are a genuine Christian leader, you are guaranteed that Satan will attack you (1 Peter 5:8). The best Christian leaders put up accountability safeguards against the enemy’s attacks.

Be sure to check out Dr. Lawless’ daily blog posts at http://www.chucklawless.com. Chuck Lawless currently serves as Professor of Evangelism and Missions and Dean of Graduate Studies at Southeastern Seminary. You can connect with Dr. Lawless on both Twitter and Facebook.

The post 9 Questions to Determine if You’re a Christian Leader appeared first on ThomRainer.com.


How Not To Ask for Forgiveness


We all fall short. We all sin, sometimes appallingly. At different times in your Christian life, you will inevitably need to confess your sin to someone and ask them for forgiveness. You may possible even have to face the consequences of your sin–even after asking for forgiveness. That is common ground for every Christian, whether they sit in the pew or stand behind a pulpit. Yet, the manner in which we ask forgiveness speaks much about the quality of our repentance.We have all experienced those insincere, wafer-thin apologies which only serve to aggravate the initial sin. Heart-repentance is a mark of a true Christian. It is a saving grace worked in us by the Holy Spirit. It involves a true hatred and turning from sin to God and his tender mercy, and an endeavor after the paths of righteousness. True repentance seeks not to cover, but to uncover one’s own sin before God and man. Yet, so often our repentance is luke-warm, half-hearted and self- justifying. In short, it is not evangelical and inward repentance. Here then, are five ways in which we can evaluate whether our own repentance is sincere or self-justifying.

1. Do not blame other people for your sin. This is usually the easiest way to obviate your own responsibility in the matter, and in case anyone was wondering, it is also the most obvious. There is nothing worse than someone apologizing out of one side of their mouth while justifying themselves out of the other. Your wife’s (or husband’s) apparent lack of attention to you, or worse her affair, is no excuse for your own infidelity. So don’t use it. Your pastor’s boring sermons are no excuse for you to fall asleep in God’s presence. The injury someone did against you is not an excuse for you to sin in like manner. Focusing on our own sins when we confess before men is a sure sign we have focused on our own sins before God.

2. Do not mask your sin with the language of prevailing grace. Before we hear how God has delivered you from your sin with his amazing and prevailing grace, it might be good to hear a full and frank confession. People who have been injured by our sin need to hear a full and frank confession, and a sincere and clear request for forgiveness. The more public your service to God, the more public this confession needs to be. Couching an “apology” in the language of how God has delivered you from this or that sin, while it may be true, is a way of putting the injured party in your debt, when in fact, you are the debtor.

3. Do not use political sound bites to describe your sin. Do not use words like “mistake”, “embarrassing”, “misstep”, “misjudgment” “inappropriate”. It sounds like people trying excuse their sin. It sounds like a politician seeking to scrape whatever is left of her reputation off the runway. It is not an “inappropriate relationship” – it is “an adulterous relationship”. No, be plain, clear and Scriptural: “I have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God”. “I have done evil in God’s sight”. “I am too ashamed and disgraced my God to lift up my face to you, because my sins are higher than my head and my guilt has reached the heavens”. Moreover, actually ask for forgiveness to any and all whom you have offended.

4. Do not mask your sin with excuses. We all have hard lives. We all suffer. We are all wronged. But highlighting “feelings of isolation”, or the “heart-break and devastation” of other’s hurt toward you in your own confession of sin is simply a smoke screen. It is designed to make the reader / hearer sympathetic to you. It is designed to minimize your own sin at the expense of uncovering other’s sins. It is, in short, insincere.

5. Do not seek to escape consequences. Face up to the nature and scale of your sin and take what comes your way. Nothing says “I’m unrepentant” quite like carrying on with life as if nothing had happened. Carrying on with a relationship, calling or course of action regardless of previous sins is a certain sign of insincerity. On the other hand, when we submit to the ruling authorities of the church, or a show willingness to take a censure or make just restitution speaks volumes to the sincerity of our repentance.

The truly amazing thing about being forgiven is that it is a liberating experience. As God in Christ has set us free from sin’s misery, power and curse, so too when we confess sin sincerely to others, an enormous burden is removed from our shoulders. Insincere repentance never removes that burden. In fact it adds to is. While we may have escaped some of the wrath of man by using some of the above techniques, there remains a debt owed to God. All sin is against him. For the true Christian, unconfessed or partially confessed sin will always eat away at the conscience and attract the lovingly chastening hand of God. And you do not want that in your life. Trust me.

We fail to repent of and sincerely confess sin for many reasons: It is often because we fear man, because of our pride and sometimes because we want to retain our status. However, ultimately, the reason why we often fail in our repentance and confession of sin is because we have not apprehended the tender mercy of God in Christ our Savior. If we only saw the “tender love” that a Father has for his dear children, the fact that “he does not always chide nor keep his anger forever” and that His steadfast love is “as high as the heavens” (Psalm 103), we would surely be quicker to repent and more ready to ask forgiveness from our Father and those against whom we have sinned. Remember–as the children’s song tells us–“There’s a way back to God from the dark paths of sin…”. Indeed there is, for each and every of us who will turn to Him in brokenness and repentance in the hope of receiving Christ’s mercy and grace.


You Are Not Enslaved to Your Past

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 tenderhearted to you …” Or, “If you weren’t terribly wronged or abused …” It says, “Be tenderhearted.”

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, tenderhearted, 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.

The post You Are Not Enslaved to Your Past appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.


12 Mistakes We Make in How We View Our Spouses


Sexual Temptation: Women Fall For It, Too


The Perfect Response When You’re Accused of Intolerance


One Year Later – No Response From Thomas Nelson on Changing Jesus Calling: Damage Control for a False Christ

One year ago, we released the booklet, Changing Jesus Calling: Damage Control for a False Christ by Warren B. Smith.To date, Thomas Nelson, the publisher for Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling has yet to publicly respond to the behind-the-scenes changing of Jesus Calling. We are reposting the article below because we continue to receive frequent phone […]

This ‘n’ That

  • If you liked that quote, why not check out the entire book? The Kindle version especially is a great price as of the writing of this post! (HT: No Compromise Radio)
  • I would love to be able to attend this event! If you are within driving distance of Grace Community Church, I hope you will be there!
  • According to these standards, at any given moment, and definitely at some point throughout the day (every day), every single one of us is under a “witchcraft attack.” I felt the need to warn you. You are welcome.
  • I don’t even know what the genre “Amish Romance” means, and am not sure I want to know. Is this what is wrong with professing Christian women? Are they reading this garbage because it’s free on Kindle? Two words: Stop It!
  • Here is your weekly dose of adorable.
  • I appreciated this post by Tim Challies. We all want to be able to “do it all” and sometimes, it just isn’t possible.
  • Al Mohler on “the fall of an entire civilization and the moral consensus that made that civilization possible.”
  • Wow. This mayoral candidate should consider turning this video into a commercial for her campaign. Or maybe for her opponent’s campaign. Strange fire.
  • And while we’re sharing great sermons, here’s one from John MacArthur, “Saved, or Self-Deceived?”

This Week in Calvinism – October 16, 2015

  • Do you have “adult onset Calvinism”? Know the early warning signs.
  • Robert Pate has his mind made up: “It is not humanly possible to have faith in the mean, cruel, unjust, unrighteous God of Calvinism.”
  • As David Murray points out, there’s more to Calvinism than TULIP.
  • Murray also notes that there’s more to the doctrines of grace than the doctrines of grace.
  • He discusses three ways in which the doctrines of grace can be presented…
  • …and addresses five major distortions of Calvinism.
  • Hip-hop artist Trip Lee talks about his journey towards the doctrines of grace.

W4YW: Guest Speaker Gaffes, Counterfeit Jesus(es), & Bible-Reading Strategies

Wisdom For Your Weekend: your weekly installment of things we’ve been reading (and watching) around the web.

Articles of the Week

Four Leadership Personalities: What Color Are You? Eric Geiger. This looks intriguing for those in the leadership world, whether leading a team of 500 or of 5. Everyone has the capacity to be some sort of leader, and healthy teams have a variety of leadership styles represented. The color scheme that Geiger outlines here is a handy memory tip as you try to assess which one you are (and which one you’re working for!). As for me [Chris], though, I have to admit that I have a hard time placing myself … other than noting that I’m certainly not red, like the one and only Pastor J.D.

Five Strategies for Daily Bible Reading, Gavin Ortlund. If only reading the Bible were as easy as, well, not reading the Bible. Alas, that isn’t the case. So if you’d like to be more consistent in reading your Bible, or if you’d like to get more out of the Bible when you read it (and who wouldn’t?), Ortlund gives five tangible action steps. They aren’t magical, but they’re helpful … and you might be surprised how possible they are.

Our Beautiful, Broken Christian Ancestors, Tish Harrison Warren. As a society, we have a difficult time honoring our ancestors and admitting that they were broken people. We tend to either lionize them or demonize them. But even the most praiseworthy exemplars in our past are still, as Luther put it, simul justus et peccator—at the same time, righteous and sinful. We need to recover the skill of critiquing our forebears’ faults while still appreciating the way they followed Christ. As we hope our grandchildren will also do for us.

Eight Common Guest Speaker Mistakes, Mark Dance. Many of these are quite amusing for the audience, so part of me is reluctant to share these nuggets of wisdom. But it’s probably best for all involved if you take the time to avoid these common potholes.

Five False Theories about Jesus – And How to Refute Them, Kyle Dillon. It’s very popular these days, especially on college campuses, to trot out “new” theories about Jesus that supposedly blow the Christian faith to pieces. But there really is nothing new under the sun, and every alternate theory about Jesus has been around—in one form or fashion—for a long, long time. Dillon explains some of the most common, and shows us how to respond when somebody trots out a counterfeit Jesus.

On The Lighter Side

Early Warning Signs of Adult Onset Calvinism, Stephen Altrogge. “Approximately 1 out of every 4 Christians will encounter adult onset Calvinism (commonly known as AOC) during their life, either personally or in someone close to them. It can be a scary thing to encounter, especially if you’re not familiar with the symptoms. The person you once knew and loved is suddenly a completely different person. Don’t panic.”

*****

Wisdom For Your Weekend is presented to you by Chris Pappalardo, with occasional guidance from J.D. Greear. This is our attempt to reflect Proverbs 9:9: “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser; teach a righteous man, and he will increase in learning.”


3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church

“What do we do about our kids?” The group of parents sat together in my office, wiping their eyes. I’m a high school pastor, but for once, they weren’t talking about 16-year-olds drinking and partying. Each had a story to tell about a “good Christian” child, raised in their home and in our church, who had walked away from the faith during the college years. These children had come through our church’s youth program, gone on short-term mission trips and served in several different ministries during their teenage years. Now they didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. And, somehow, these mothers’ ideas for our church to send college students “care packages” during their freshman year to help them feel connected to the church didn’t strike me as a solution with quite enough depth.

The daunting statistics about churchgoing youth keep rolling in. Panic ensues. What are we doing wrong in our churches? In our youth ministries?

It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.

1. They are converted.

The Apostle Paul, interestingly enough, doesn’t use phrases like “nominal Christian” or “pretty good kid.” The Bible doesn’t seem to mess around with platitudes like: “Yeah, it’s a shame he did that, but he’s got a good heart.” When we listen to the witness of Scripture, particularly on the topic of conversion, we find that there is very little wiggle room. Listen to these words: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). We youth pastors need to get back to understanding salvation as what it really is: a miracle that comes from the glorious power of God through the working of the Holy Spirit.

We need to stop talking about “good kids.” We need to stop being pleased with attendance at youth group and fun retreats. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in the hearts of our students as the Word of God speaks to them. In short, we need to get back to a focus on conversion. How many of us are preaching to “unconverted evangelicals”? Youth pastors, we need to preach, teach and talk—all the while praying fervently for the miraculous work of regeneration to occur in the hearts and souls of our students by the power of the Holy Spirit! When that happens—when the “old goes” and the “new comes”—it will not be iffy. We will not be dealing with a group of “nominal Christians.” We will be ready to teach, disciple and equip a generation of future church leaders—“new creations”!—who are hungry to know and speak God’s Word. It is converted students who go on to love Jesus and serve the church.

The post 3 Common Traits of Youth Who Don’t Leave the Church appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.


Why Going Through the Motions Isn’t Always a Bad Thing

What if going through the motions wasn’t such a bad thing?

I know, we trash the idea. We preach against it. We listen to the song on K-Love. We pride ourselves on the fact that we’re all about relationship, not religion.

But what if … what if we could use a little bit more religion in our lives? When did that word become so negative?

Of course, we understand the negative side:

• Going to church because you have to.

• Singing worship songs with a disconnected heart.

• Playing it safe.

• Living a different life Sunday than you do Monday through Saturday.

But what if the motions are there to serve us?

Of course, not all religious practices and habits are helpful. I’m talking about the biblical ones. The ones that remind us who we are as the people of God.

Go Through the Motions

Much of this is a matter of semantics, but I also know that going through the motions isn’t always wasted.

Here’s a look into my life:

Most of my childhood church attendance was “going through the motions.” I didn’t want to be there. I would have rather stayed home. Actually that’s not true because if I stayed home I would have missed out on lunch at Chili’s. Chili’s was delicious (and still is).

But the motions my parents led me through helped to form me into who I am today. It wasn’t my choice when I was younger, but it laid a great foundation for when it was.

I’m super fickle. One day I can feel like reading my Bible and the next it’s the last thing I want to do. Having a daily “motion” of Bible reading is healthy for me because I do it whether I feel like it or not. I go through the motions and I’m changed on the inside.

Most of the time I don’t wake up on Sunday longing to take communion. I’m not that spiritual. But when we take communion at church, I’m reminded of what Jesus has done. That is a motion I want to continue practicing.

Motions keep me where I need to be, whether I feel like it or not. It’s like an automatic withdrawal into a savings account. Whether you feel like it or not, it’s going to withdraw. You remove decision making from the equation.

We are shaped by our habits. We are what we repeatedly do (thanks, Aristotle, for that). If that is true, the motions we choose to go through are of utmost importance. They are shaping who we are.

Why Religion Is a Negative Word for Some People

Those who talk about “relationship not religion” are typically those whose only understanding of church was mindless and boring.

They experienced a real encounter with God, but it wasn’t because they attended their weekly service. It was a subsequent gathering where they felt the presence of God like never before.

Maybe your past religious experience looked like this:

• Recite 15 Hail Mary’s.

• Listen to a disengaged, monotone priest.

• Pay your dues.

• Go to confession.

It wasn’t their choice to go so it wasn’t personal. But then they “found Jesus” and everything changed. I’m not doubting their transformation. I can think of someone like my Mom who did a complete 180 and was never the same again.

The post Why Going Through the Motions Isn’t Always a Bad Thing appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.


7 Ways Satan Will Seek to Attack Your Church This Weekend

Satan is an enemy who seeks to attack your church at every opportunity you give him. As you gather this weekend, be aware of these strategies – and keep your focus on God and His Word!

  1. He wants to infiltrate your church with false teaching. The enemy invades the church through false teachers who appear on the outside as “servants of righteousness” (2 Cor. 11:13-15). It’s almost easy to do, actually, if we have little accountability for those who teach and lead.
  2. He wants to divide your church. From the time that Adam turned on Eve in the Garden and blamed her for their sin (Gen. 3:12), Satan has sought to create division. And, congregational division seldom begins corporately – it begins when one believer blames another believer for something.
  3. He wants your church to ignore sin. He knows that the church that tolerates sin fails to portray the holiness of God and the transforming power of the gospel. In fact, even our prayers are nullified by our sin (Isa. 59:1-2).
  4. He wants your church to “do church” with little or no prayer. The disciples did that once, when they tried to cast out a demon without praying (Mark 9:14-29). Our churches are no less foolish, though, when our prayer is more about filling a spot in the order of service than about expressing dependence on God.
  5. He will try to snatch the Word from non-believers who hear it. That strategy shouldn’t surprise us, of course. Jesus told us that would happen (Matt. 13:18). What we need to realize is the intensity of the battle in somebody’s heart when the gospel is preached.
  6. He wants your church to expect God to bless them always. The blessing of prosperity is a popular assumption among believers today, but the Bible doesn’t bear out that teaching. Job walked with God, and he lost everything he had at first (Job 1-2). Paul was God’s apostle extraordinaire, and still God refused to free him from a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7-10). Our responsibility is to trust Him when the blessings are hard to find.
  7. He wants your church members to remain unchanged after this weekend. He doesn’t mind if we gather as long as we don’t really listen to the gospel. He doesn’t even mind our preaching against sin as long as it’s somebody else’s sin. He’s not alarmed if we have great fellowship as long as that fellowship is self-centered and inwardly focused. And, he doesn’t get stressed if we have a “powerful worship service” as long as our life on Monday is unchanged.

Where are you most susceptible to the enemy’s attack? Pray now that he will not win in your life this weekend.


I Am ‘Ashley Madison’

To quote the first Mission Impossible (the best one in my opinion), “The list is in the open!”

That’s right; unless you have completely unplugged in the last couple of months, then you have heard about this website called “Ashley Madison” that caters to people who want to have an affair, and now hackers have exposed the names, email addresses, physical addresses, and amounts of money spent by its users.

This was a tragic and heartbreaking revelation to see not only the amount of people on the list but also to see the amount of ministry leaders on that list. Families are left in the wake of this revelation and many of them left with wounds that won’t be healed on this side of eternity.

But the congregations of these leaders are also left to try and heal as they learn to try and trust again. These wounds and consequences are the real results of sin and must be felt and dealt with. And from the outside, it can be really easy to point fingers at those who have fallen and either say or feel these words, “Oh wow! I didn’t think he would ever do something like that!”

But I had a good friend of mine growing up that would always tell me, “When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing right back at you.” It was the Southern translation of the following text: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).

So here lies the tension I have felt in the general sentiment of people towards the Ashley Madison list: while what was done is in fact horrible and has deeply wounded families, apart from the grace of God, you and I are not any different. And we are always about ten feet from the edge of that moral failure cliff and could at any moment fall as well if we let our guard down (1 Corinthians 15:10).

I am not trying to downplay the sinfulness of the people on the Ashley Madison list. I am instead saying that many others are downplaying their own sinfulness.

It is unhelpful to see great acts of sin and think that we are somehow beyond that. Do you remember that guy who was a man after God’s own heart? That David guy who wrote most of the Psalms? That guy who is a hero of the Old Testament and a giant of the faith? Yeah, he was on the Old Testament version of the Ashley Madison list with the whole Bathsheba situation. But guess what? God still used him.

The grace of God is far greater than the greatest sin of the greatest sinner. No amount of money spent on Ashley Madison was greater than the price Christ paid on the cross. And if you weren’t on that list, take heed and know that you could have been had it not been for the grace of God in your life. And know that you are far closer to that list than you realize.

So fight for holiness and train yourself unto godliness. And may we remember that if you were on that list, that Jesus has done something that is worth calling his grace amazing “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).

Christ printed off the entire list of every name on Ashley Madison and then added some other names as well [“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28)], and he nailed that list to the cross.

So may we stop pointing fingers and acting shocked as if we could never do something like that, because if you have ever lusted, then your name was on that list as well. So stop speaking in judgment and condescension and start singing in worship and confession:

My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!


Why We Love Sports (and What This Says about God and Us)

Chicagoland has gone wild over the recent success of the Cubs, as have other cities around the nation who support their beloved sports teams. The energy in the baseball stands is palpable these days, fans packing the stadiums to support the players that represent both their city and their pride. Strangers instantly become friends as hugs are exchanged upon runs, and family and friends gather, putting aside other plans, to hope for a victory.

We love sports. And there’s a reason for this that runs far deeper than the momentary happiness we feel when our team of choice wins. Our love for the game of baseball, and for sports in general, reflects spiritual realities about the God who created us, who he created us to be, and what he intends us to pursue and enjoy.

Sports fan, your love of the game points to the v­ictory that awaits you through the gospel.

TWEET

God created us to share in a common goal

All the believers were together and had everything in common. (Acts 2:44)

There is camaraderie in shared interests, so sports fans are very naturally brought together by the common love of the game. It’s not the least bit weird to high-five or hug a person you’ve never met before if it’s done in the context of a stadium…but try this in the grocery store or at the gym, and you’ll most likely earn the label “crazy.” The nature of sports, involving unity and teamwork for both players and fans, reflects how God created humans to share in a common goal.

In Acts 2, we are told that the believers “had everything in common,” which in this case is a reference to sharing their possessions, meeting in the temple, eating, and praising God together as a result of the gospel. This is the ultimate earthly picture of our God-given desire to share a common pursuit: the body of Christ dwelling together in unity for the glory of Christ. Beyond this, the common goal of worshipping Christ our King points to an eternal time when believers of every nation, tribe, and tongue will bow before him in humility (Revelation 7:9) and exalt his name forever.

While the God-given desire to share in this common goal can only be fully understood by believers, the love of the game that humans share is proof that God created us to unite in a  sole purpose: the pursuit of bringing him glory. As John Piper so consistently teaches, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.” The yearning we feel for inclusion and common purpose is not an end in itself but a means to see God and ourselves more clearly in the light of the gospel.

God created us to root for the win

Within the human heart, there is an innate desire for victory. We were created to be at peace with God, but with the advent of sin came the deep human desire for things to be made right again, restored and reconciled. Though a good majority of people would not admit it, the desire to be victors stems from the realization that something is terribly amiss, that we need to be made right again. Victory through sports unveils the depths of this desire in the momentary happiness we feel when our team wins, along with the emptiness that ensues when the victory inevitably passes.

For in the next moment, we realize that life is already moving forward, with the teams gearing up for another season of sports and the fans moving on to invest in the next pursuit. The win we experience satisfies for a time, but then it disappears like a vapor.

We yearn for a victory that is satisfying in a final and conclusive sense, and the Bible tells us that Christ is the victory we need:

And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. (Mark 13:26-27)

For those people whose lives are wrapped up in Christ — who have found their joy and satisfaction in his life, death, and resurrection — one day, the final victory will be theirs, as Christ gathers them from all places and destroys sin and death and temporary pleasures forever. The joy we then experience will be eternally lasting, as we rest in Christ’s victorious reign.

God created us to celebrate together

Lastly, the happiness we feel that is dependent on the outcome of the game will not compare to the everlasting joy we experience that is independent of circumstances and found solely in Christ. God created human beings to celebrate together in the joy of their salvation, which can only be experienced through a living relationship with the Son of God.

The greatest celebration will take place at the marriage supper of the Lamb:

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure” — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. (Revelation 19:6-8)

For those who trust in Jesus, their joy will be made complete in eternity. Earthly glimpses of this everlasting joy will have pointed to our heavenly celebration all along, where God will be glorified forever by his children, as they display fully the righteousness of their Lord and Savior.

Sports fan, your love of the game points to something greater. The next time your team wins, shout, celebrate, and high-five a stranger, with thankfulness in your heart to God that an even better victory awaits you through the gospel.

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The post Why We Love Sports (and What This Says about God and Us) appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.


Check out

Blogs

12 Pillars of Faith for Parents of Children with Disabilities | Paul Tautges
“As a father who lives in the world of special needs, there are 12 biblical truths that have become important for me to continually meditate upon.”

Earnings Boost from Major Not Choice of College | Alex Chediak
“If future earnings were the sole criterion (not recommended), your choice of major makes a bigger difference than your choice of college.”

How The New Testament Helps Us Teach The Old Testament Rightly | Nancy Guthrie and Lane Tipton

5 Steps for Making Time to Write | Barnabas Piper

Overcoming Pride in Ministry | Ligonier: Eric Watkins
“Few things are more dangerous in the life of the church than prideful leaders. Some of the most difficult issues many churches encounter revolve around men who feel entitled to the office of deacon, elder, or pastor.”

The Baby Given to Women who Miscarry | TGC
“I’ve been the one sitting in a doctor’s office staring at grainy black-and-white images of my dead baby, tears pouring down my cheeks. Twice now, as the cold news of an absent heartbeat met my ears, I’ve been plunged into the deep, wrenching grief reserved for mothers who’ve lost an unborn child. The sting of death is in no way lessened by the invisible nature of such loss. It is real, and it is horrible.”

The Pleasure of Pleasing God | Desiring God: Luke Humphrey
“How 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.”

Kindle Books

Sticky Teams: Keeping Your Leadership Team and Staff on the Same Page by Larry Osborne $6.99.

Jesus in Trinitarian Perspective $2.99.

Stopping Stress before It Stops You: A Game Plan for Every Mom $0.99.


Links I like

 

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Moody has put Justin and Lindsey Holcomb’s excellent Is It My Fault? on sale for $3.99 until November 1. If you’re involved with counselling in any way, you need to read this book. If you’re not familiar, here’s my review from last year.

Be sure to also check out The Gospel of the Kingdom: An Exposition of the Gospel of Matthew by Charles Spurgeon for $1.50.

Thick Skin, Tender Hearts, and Four Types of Leaders

Eric Geiger:

Is it even possible for a leader to have both, to possess thick skin and a tender heart? Those two are often painted as contrary to one another, as if a leader must choose between being “thick-skinned” and “tender-hearted.” But a leader must not choose between the two. The best leaders are both.

With regards to thick skin and tender hearts, here four types of leaders. Which type are you?

Milestones in Ministry (Seminary Can’t Prepare You For)

Jared Wilson:

While all my doctrinal studies have contributed toward my (still) becoming “thoroughly equipped” in and by the word of God, there are some “first times” in pastoral ministry that no amount of book learnin’ could prepare me for experientially.

The pros and cons of fall

Spurgeon’s Enduring Ministry in the 21st Century

This is a really great interview with Christian George on Charles Spurgeon’s legacy and Midwestern Seminary’s new Spurgeon Center.

How ‘Playboy’ Magazine Legitimized Pornography—and Destroyed Itself in the Process

This piece by Joe Carter is well worth reading.

5 Steps for Making Time to Write

Barnabas Piper:

How do you find time to write?

I suspect any author or regular contributor to web sites or other publications get this question. I do with some frequency. Lots of people love the idea of writing, but the reality of it stymies them. By the time they’ve added up work, family, hobbies, naps, and Netflix writing is still just an idea. So what does it take to make time to write regularly? Here’s my list.


 

Each Friday our BCC staff links you to the top five biblical counseling and Christian living blog posts of the week—posts that provide robust, rich, and relevant insights for living.

The Christians Pledge of Allegiance

At Desiring God, Tony Reinke summarizes a recent sermon by Matt Chandler on The Apostles’ Creed. Pastor Chandler explains that when reciting the Creed, Christians were rejecting the story, the narrative, that the culture was telling. They were rebelling against the reigning cultural narrative. Read and learn more at The Christian’s Pledge of Allegiance.

5 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor

Pastor Brian Croft, in honor of Pastor Appreciation Month, blogs about How to Encourage Your Pastor.

13 Foundational Realities of Change

How does Christ change us and what is our role in the change process? Paul Tautges summaries answers to this question from Stuart Scott’s plenary presentation at the ACBC conference in Stuart Scott: 13 Foundational Realities of Change.


A La Carte (October 16)

I would appreciate prayer as I head overseas on Saturday. I will be spending next week in Germany, preaching at a church on Sunday, and then speaking every day at a pastors’ conference. I have been praying specifically that I would be able to sleep on the way over (it’s an overnight flight) and that I would be an encouragement to the pastors who attend.

Remembering the Little Ones Who Go Before

Jessalyn Hutto has a touching post for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day—a special day set aside for the purpose of drawing attention to the many babies who’ve been tragically lost in miscarriages and stillbirths.

An Introduction to Romans (1-4)

You may enjoy this interesting illustrated 7-minute video overview of the book of Romans (or chapters 1-4 at least). I am really enjoying these videos from The Bible Project.

CCEF Conference Livestream

Beginning today at 9 AM EST and continuing through the weekend, you can watch the CCEF National Conference livestream for free online. This year’s topic is Side by Side: How God Helps Us Help Each Other.

If You’re Not Paranoid, You’re Crazy

Here’s a very interesting article about surveillance and paranoia. “Once you know how very little you know about those who wish to know everything about you, daily experience starts to lose its innocence and little things begin to feel like the tentacles of big things.”

Flipping Out

This is one of the most entertaining articles I have ever read on baseball, or any sport, for that. And not only because it’s about the Blue Jays’ ridiculous victory over the Rangers. It also has great lines like this: “It’s like finding some scroll in the Dead Sea Scroll, opening it up and finding in Aramaic the lyrics of ‘Watch Me (Whip/Nae Nae)’.”

Meet David Daleiden

The Washington Post introduces you to David Daleiden, the man behind the Planned Parenthood videos.

This Day in 1812. Henry Martyn died 203 years ago today. He was the first modern missionary to Muslims. *

If I Deny Christ, Can I Still Go to Heaven?

Jesse Johnson replies to a question he was asked while leading AWANA: “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?”

What’s In a Pumpkin Spice Latte?

In this video, that simple question leads to a long exploration of artificial and natural flavoring. In short, there is no pumpkin and no pumpkin spice in your pumpkin spice latte.



Christian Headlines Daily – Friday, October 16, 2015

http://www.christianheadlines.com/

Top Headlines

Boycott Gay Weddings, Even Family, Says Southern Baptist Leader Al Mohler

US Missionary Roberta Edwards Killed in Haiti Ambush; Kid under Her Care Abducted

Michelle Duggar Gives Controversial Words of Advice to Married Women

Former Gay Rights Supporter: How He Became a Christian and a Pastor

State Department Religious Freedom Report Focuses on Terror Groups

Earliest Draft of the King James Bible Discovered by New Jersey Professor

First ‘Greater Church of Lucifer’ to Open Doors in Texas

Jefferson Bethke: New Book to Discuss What Christians Can Learn from the Early Church

Football Coach Stands up for Prayer in School

Militants Bring Islamist Brutality to Refugee Camps

Opinion

Suicide by Any Other Name

Are We Over-Protecting Our Children?

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


10/16/15 I Stand Amazed

READING: Matthew 9-10

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  A few years ago, I wrote a book entitled, Nobodies for JesusThe thesis is that if we are amazed by Jesus (and thus, less amazed about ourselves), we’ll be much more likely to tell others about Him. We stop talking about Him when we lose our wonder over Him. When I wrote that book, little did I know how shallow my own wonder of Jesus would prove to be.

You see, the more I read the Bible, the more I’m amazed by Jesus. In today’s text, here’s what grabs my attention.

First, He can read my mind. Even as He knew the thoughts of the scribes when they called Him a blasphemer, He knows my thinking: “But perceiving their thoughts, Jesus said, ‘Why are you thinking evil things in your hearts?’” (Matt. 9:4).

He knows my thoughts. Every one of them. Nothing is hidden. Frankly, that truth shakes me a bit.

But, then I read the next story in Matthew 9, where Jesus ate at Matthew’s house. There, the religious leaders asked His disciples incredulously, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” (Matt. 9:11). They couldn’t believe that a rabbi would eat with the outcasts.

Do you know what I find hard to believe? That Jesus knows my every thought, and still He chooses to include me in a meal with Him! He really did come for the sick and unrighteous, and I fit that camp well. That He invites me as His guest to the table is nothing short of miraculous.

I stand amazed. Again.

ACTION STEPS: Make a list today about the things that amaze you about Jesus. Then, consider this question: “If Jesus really amazes me, how should my life change today?”

PRAYER: “Lord Jesus, You came to us while we were yet sinners. Help me not to forget that gracious truth today.”


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

This post was originally posted on:

https://truth4freedom.wordpress.com

(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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