October 22, 2015 Christian Briefing Report

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New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths

“The most disturbing facet of this ubiquitous childhood disorder is an utter lack of empathy,” Mateo said. “These people—if you can even call them that—deliberately violate every social norm without ever pausing to consider how their selfish behavior might affect others. It’s as if they have no concept of anyone but themselves.”

[Editor’s Spoiler Alert: The Onion is a magazine that writes articles spoofing cultural views and ideas. In order for sarcasm to work there has to be a modicum of truth. In this article, The Onion, in its attempt to address selfish behavioral patterns in children, stumbled into a truth the Bible teaches that we are all born in and with sin. David confessed, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me” (Ps. 51:5). So what was intended as a parody of our supposed young “innocents” is really a theological reality.]

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8 Reasons the Worship Industry Is Killing Worship

It spreads bad theology. Mostly because it comes from the wrong sources. The best of the church’s hymnody was written by pastors and theologians. It was crafted by poets and scholars. The result are texts of high quality. But the industry in its quest to be marketable only has room for marketable people who write marketable songs. It entrusts sacred storytelling to many with dubious credentials as artists, poets, or theologians.

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Houston Pastors Fight Gender-Bending Rule

Last week, HAPC held a news conference to demonstrate the unity within the racially, denominationally, and politically diverse coalition opposed to the Equal Rights Ordinance (ERO), which makes sexuality and gender identity protected classes. Pastors representing 150 churches gathered at the 70,000-member Second Baptist Church on Oct. 7 to make clear their opposition to Proposition 1 and urge Christians to do their civic duty and vote.

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You’re Not As Virtuous As You Think

We would see fewer headlines about scandal and malfeasance, and we could get our actions to better match our expectations, if we tempered our moral overconfidence with some moral humility. When we recognize that the vast majority of us overestimate our ability to do the right thing, we can take constructive steps to limit our fallibility and reduce the odds of bad behavior.

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Insomnia – The Non-Sleeping Giant

If you have never had a problem with sleeping, you are blessed.  However, don’t be proud about it because things can sometimes change quickly and unexpectedly.  Your first confrontation with a sleepless night may be a crisis, but take hope, there is help.  Don’t blame it on a lack of faith.  Sometimes you just have to blame it on the genes.  Seek medical attention, and of course, even in the midst of a crisis, keep that hope in Christ.

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Evangelicals Now Officially Divided on Death Penalty

Last week, the board of directors voted to update the NAE’s stance, and acknowledge for the first time that opposition to the death penalty is also a legitimate application of Christian ethics. “Evangelical Christians differ in their beliefs about capital punishment, often citing strong biblical and theological reasons either for the just character of the death penalty in extreme cases or for the sacredness of all life, including the lives of those who perpetrate serious crimes and yet have the potential for repentance and reformation.”

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Church Discipline and Jesse James

Accountability is always in order; discipline is not. So we must be discerning about when and when not to discipline. We do not want to be like a church in northeast Arkansas with which I am familiar. The minutes from one of its business meetings of long ago tell how the congregation debated whether or not watching a square dance was grounds to be “churched.” Not dancing, mind you, but just seeing others dance. The church concluded that this indeed was sufficient cause and duly kicked out the guilty parties.

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Why Trying To Help Poor Countries Might Actually Hurt Them

Deaton argues that, by trying to help poor people in developing countries, the rich world may actually be corrupting those nations’ governments and slowing their growth. According to Deaton, and the economists who agree with him, much of the $135 billion that the world’s most developed countries spent on official aid in 2014 may not have ended up helping the poor.

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 Why Halloween is a 'Tricky' Holiday

Why Halloween is a ‘Tricky’ Holiday

Posted on October 21, 2015 by Crosswalk

It’s that time of the year when the world—or at least the United States—seems to embrace the dark side of Halloween revelry.

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Mass Evangelism: Is it Still Necessary?

Mass Evangelism: Is it Still Necessary?

Posted on October 21, 2015 by Crosswalk

&And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”

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7 Ways Senior Pastors Can Keep Teenagers Listening to Their Sermons

7 Ways Senior Pastors Can Keep Teenagers Listening to Their Sermons

Posted on October 21, 2015 by Church Leaders

Engaging the short attention span of teenagers (and even adults) is not easy.

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8 Advantages of the Local Church

8 Advantages of the Local Church

Posted on October 21, 2015 by Church Leaders

&Most people have no idea how many Christians there are in the world: More than 2 billion people claim to be followers of Jesus Christ.&

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Kong Hee and City Harvest Church: How a music 'ministry' led to a megachurch pastor's downfall

Kong Hee and City Harvest Church: How a music ‘ministry’ led to a megachurch pastor’s downfall

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Christian Today

The Kong Hee case appears to epitomise most of what can go wrong with megachurch ministries.

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RC Sproul and Ashley Madison: The Prodigal Son vs Reformed Theology

RC Sproul and Ashley Madison: The Prodigal Son vs Reformed Theology

Posted on October 21, 2015 by Christian Today

How do we empower Christians to remain faithful to their spouses and avoid today’s siren songs of pornography and easy hook ups?

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Singapore megachurch leaders convicted in pop music fraud case

Singapore megachurch leaders convicted in pop music fraud case

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Religion News

The mix of money, faith and scandal in the case has fascinated the public in affluent Singapore.

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Platform: why a culture of self-promotion threatens to throttle the church

Platform: why a culture of self-promotion threatens to throttle the church

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Christian Today

The biggest danger to our emerging leaders is their own egos, writes Martin Saunders.

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It’s chaos out there: Christian moral pluralism in America today

It’s chaos out there: Christian moral pluralism in America today

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Religion News

The spectrum of moral views among Christians on just about every subject spans dizzyingly from one extreme to another.

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Are Smartphones Making Christianity Too Convenient?

Are Smartphones Making Christianity Too Convenient?

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Christianity Today

When there’s an app for everything, practicing my faith doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.

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David Was a Rapist. Abraham Was a Sex Trafficker

David Was a Rapist. Abraham Was a Sex Trafficker

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Christianity Today

What we miss when we downgrade Old Testament abuse stories to sexual peccadilloes.

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PERSECUTED CHURCH: Britain should seek release of Chinese lawyer & Christians during state visit

PERSECUTED CHURCH: Britain should seek release of Chinese lawyer & Christians during state visit

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Christian Examiner

Even as Chinese President Xi Jinpin begins a four-day visit to great Britian in what the Queen described as a defining moment of relations between the two nations — an official representing the persecuted church worldwide is urging the release of illegally detained Christians.

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Do science and religion conflict? It’s all in how you ‘see’ it

Do science and religion conflict? It’s all in how you ‘see’ it

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Religion News

(RNS) Most say there’s a clash of worldviews &in general& but only 30 percent say so when asked if their own belief conflict with science.

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Pew: Churchgoers Least Likely to See Science and Religion in Conflict

Pew: Churchgoers Least Likely to See Science and Religion in Conflict

Posted on October 22, 2015 by Christianity Today

Survey finds ‘surprising number of topics’ where faith does not influence views on science.

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5 Fun Ways to Share Jesus with Your School This Year

by Erin Davis

How can you point people to Jesus this school year? Here are five fun ideas to try.

The Next Time You’re Offended

by Paula Hendricks Marsteller

So you feel angry? Insulted? Provoked? Offended? Downright mad? Now what?

When Marriage Meets Insecurity

by Samantha Nieves

A boyfriend or a husband won’t be your ticket to freedom from insecurity. Jesus Christ is the true source of confidence, security, and freedom.

Freebie Friday! Project Modesty

by Erin Davis

Here’s a fashion-forward freebie!


Thou shalt not bow to the gods of the culture. Living faithfully in Babylon. Great chapel sermon by Mike Kruger.

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Bethel Redding children’s pastor and the finance angel?

From John Lanagan of My Word Like Fire:

Lanagan writes:

The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it? (Jeremiah 5:31)

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As previously covered, Bethel Redding children’s pastor Seth Dahl has blasphemously claimed that in a vision Christ came to him and asked Dahl for forgiveness. You can watch this right here.

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In the above video, Dahl tells the Bethel Redding congregation of his experience with an enormous angel. Dahl asked the angel his name and then googled in the angel’s answer. The angel’s name was the same as that of a finance company. Dahl then realized the angel was “here for our finances at Bethel…”

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Dahl states, “You just need to hear a testimony so you can know what’s available to you ’cause I’m not trying to preach a sermon, I’m trying to invite you to a new way of life.”

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Yes, a way of life full of false visions and prophecies and dreams. Bethel Redding has taken many away from biblical Christianity.

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But it is apparent something else is happening as well. Because of these excesses (from Bethel Redding and elsewhere) many Christians are now afraid to draw near to God.

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“Experiencing God” has become a dreaded term. The great Reformed preacher Martyn Lloyd-Jones, were he alive today, would be criticized by some well meaning discernment ministries for speaking about the “presence of God.”

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Related videos: Bethel Redding Snack Pack

Republished with permission


Strangers And Aliens (6): Like Newborn Infants (1 Peter 2:1–3)

The word “therefore” is more important in Scripture than we probably realize. It signals a relationship between what is being said now to what was just said. Remember, the chapter divisions we have in Scripture are not original. They were introduced into the text in the 13th century AD. Chapters were divided into verses by […]

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Al Mohler: Contraceptives and divorce led to same-sex marriage

In an interview with Christian Today Albert Mohler tells it like it is:

A leading Southern Baptist theologian and commentator is to issue a call for “faithful, biblical witness” in a book to be released next week.

The president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Rev Dr Al Mohler, reflects in We Cannot Be Silent on the legalisation of same-sex marriage, the emergence of “transgenderism” and on divorce.

Interviewed for the seminary’s Southern News, Mohler said: “I am confronted daily with Christians who are asking one of the most basic questions and that is, ‘How did this happen?'”

In his book, Mohler says America’s Supreme Court will be held accountable by the court of “divine judgment” for legalising same-sex marriage.

http://www.christiantoday.com/article/al.mohler.contraceptives.and.divorce.led.to.same.sex.marriage/68406.htm/


Christianity and Civil Disobedience

In Romans 13, Paul tells us to obey the governing officials–because they are supposed to be God’s enforcers of true justice.  But what do we do as Christians when those governing us approved the murder of unborn children, redefine marriage and pass other laws in direct conflict with the Word of God? Are we supposed […]

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God’s Top Secret – Church & Culture Blog

I am often surprised by the number of people I talk to – including pastors and leaders – who struggle with feelings of unworthiness.
 
It reminds me of a game that psychotherapist and author Larry Crabb once wrote about.
 
A group therapist would play a game with people in his groups called “Top Secret.” Here’s how the game worked.
 
He would ask them to write out the one thing about themselves that they were the least inclined to share, and to then return the paper unsigned. In other words, write down the one thing that nobody knows about you – the one thing you’ve never shared.
 
Over the years, one answer consistently emerged as the most frequently admitted top secret: “I feel utterly worthless.”
 
When we are real, open, vulnerable – willing to be truthful with ourselves and the world – what we admit is that we do not consider ourselves of much real value.
 
Many may not know this, but Martin Luther felt the same way. In 1527, he wrote, “For more than a week I was close to the gates of death and hell. I trembled in all my members. Christ was wholly lost.”
 
This reached a point of spiritual crisis, with Luther writing that “the content of the depressions was always the same, the loss of faith that God is good and that he is good to me.”
 
So what made the difference?
 
Luther insisted on listening to another, more important, voice.
 
The voice of the truth of God’s Word, over and against his own insecurities, doubts and misgivings.
 
Even over the accusing voice of the evil one.
 
He tells of how the devil approached him one day and accused him of the enormous sin in his life. Satan laid out a long list of sins of which Luther was guilty, and thrust them under his nose in accusation.
 
Luther said to the devil, “Think a little harder; you must have forgotten some.” So the devil thought a little harder and added another few hundred to the list. When the devil was finished, Luther said, “Okay, now take a pen and some red ink and write across that list ‘The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses us from all sin.’”
 
You can take up the same pen, writing as Luther himself did in his magnificent hymn “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” the title now etched around the tower of Castle Church,
And though this world, with devils filled,
should threaten to undo us,
we will not fear, for God hath willed
his truth to triumph through us.
The Prince of Darkness grim,
we tremble not for him;
his rage we can endure,
for lo, his doom is sure;
one little word shall fell him.
God desires nothing more than to infuse your heart and mind with a sense of meaning and purpose, and to call you to the front lines of what He is doing on this planet in light of His divine plan for your place and role.
 
Your mission, your place, will be unique from all others. He has a vision for your life that is yours and yours alone.
 
But following that vision will demand listening to His voice. Yes, it may include the voice of conviction, but never the voice of accusation. And the loudest voice of all will be that of affirmation.
 
Because if you answer the call of God, and walk with Him in obedience, submission and devotion, if you give your life over to Him – then you will become who you were created to be. And you will do incredible things.
 
Because God is a big God, who wants to do big things and He wants to do them through us.
 
That’s God’s “top secret” for you.
 
James Emery White

10 Reasons Church Leaders Should Admit It If They’ve Never Been Discipled

It’s tough to admit, but I was a local church pastor before anyone truly discipled me. Sure, I grew as my Sunday school teachers and pastors taught me, but still I needed a disciplemaker to take me under his wing. It’s even tougher to admit that I didn’t always invest in leaders myself, so I often had church leaders who themselves were not discipled. I’m convinced, though, that all of us who were not discipled need to admit it and start on a strategic journey of discipleship. If that’s your situation, here’s why this admission matters:

  1. Your story is not unusual. Over the years, I’ve met far more undiscipled people than discipled ones. I sense that pattern is changing, but that still leaves many of us longing for help and growth. There’s nothing wrong with being honest about where you are.
  2. If you’re undiscipled, that’s not where God wants you. God wants us, especially as leaders, to move past the milk of the Word to the meat of His Word. He wants us to be growing – and that process takes intentionality. God is glorified as we are transformed to be more like Jesus.
  3. You’re missing out if you’ve not been discipled. Something happens when we learn to love God more, devour His Word more, and pray to Him more often. There’s an unexplainable joy in really knowing God.
  4. Your work will be easier when you’re growing as a disciple.  Church work is not easy. It takes effort and patience. It demands a godly spirit. To do God’s work well, we need to know Him more and more each day.
  5. Your leadership will be more godly. I’ve met many Christian leaders whose Christian walk is weak. The more you know them, the more you wonder about their discipleship. Often, these same folks will admit that no one ever invested in them. Strong discipleship helps address that problem.
  6. Your church will grow stronger as you’re discipled. God’s church is people – sinful people, yes, but people who should be in the process of becoming more and more Christlike. God honors and blesses that congregation that intentionally helps each other follow Him.
  7. You’ll have opportunity to admit and overcome your weaknesses. You might be like so many other believers who hide their weaknesses and carry the weight of their sin alone. The more a person becomes a leader in the church, in fact, the less likely it is that he or she will admit failures. That’s carrying a burden you don’t have to carry if you’re in a discipleship relationship.
  8. Others will recognize your growth. When God really works in even the holiest life, other people take note. When He moves in our life, our loved ones and friends will take note that something’s different. The door will be open to being a Great Commission witness.
  9. Somebody wants to walk beside you. If you’re honest enough to admit it if you’ve never been discipled, I’m trusting that some leader in your church will be willing to invest in you. If you’re a pastor, I’m trusting that you’ll help your members find a discipler. And, if you’re a pastor in need of discipleship, I trust that some other pastor in your area will help you grow. God will provide somebody.
  10. Honesty is a first step toward victory. Being honest might be painful, but it could also be the first step toward integrity and growth. Admit where you are, church leader, if this blog post represents you.

3 Barometers for Church Growth

I am a numbers guy. I enjoy analyzing and trying to find trends or indicators that point to how well we are doing. I was genuinely excited when invited to look at our church’s 2016 numbers with another elder. I had been taught as a kid, “Numbers don’t lie.” My father drilled that concept into my head. In the business world, I spend much of my time calculating what is needed to be purchased to complete open sales orders, timing when I will bring those in (inventory control), and scheduling production to complete the orders. Every week I am looking over our company’s financial reports to make sure there is nothing amiss and ensure our company continues to grow and expand.

But it’s different for the church. Well, I guess, some don’t see a difference. Oftentimes, people — and as one who struggles with this, I count myself in this lot — measure success in a church by sheer attendance on a Sunday morning. The more people who show up, the healthier a church is though to be.

We can’t discount attendance numbers, of course. I believe they do give a good indication on certain aspects of a church. But I don’t see attendance numbers as a reliable barometer for church health. I know of (and I am sure you do too) many large churches that are, for all intents and purposes, spiritually dead, and I know of many many small churches that are vibrantly alive in Christ.

So how does one measure health in the church? This has been a question that has plagued me for years. How do we take a step back and take an honest view about where we are at as a church?

The issue comes down to the fact that as church leaders we cannot truly judge the hearts of another. We see the fruit (or lack thereof) in lives and bring up the issue, but only God truly knows the heart.

I tend to think that through 1) baptisms, 2) participation, and 3) membership, one can gauge the health of a church.

Baptism

Baptism doesn’t justify an individual. Yet, there is something significant that takes place in the baptismal waters. Baptism is an outward reflection of an inward heart commitment. When one stands to be baptized, one is declaring their participation in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. Ideally and normally, those participating in baptism are new converts. So when we see individuals being baptized, we should rejoice that the Spirit has softened their hearts and moved them in such a way that they desire to make a public proclamation of faith. Baptisms helps to indicate the health of the church as your church reaches out and proclaims the goodness of God.

Participation

How involved are congregants in the life of the church and each other? Are individuals involved in Community Groups where they rub shoulders week to week encouraging and admonishing each other to abandon sin and cling to Christ?

Sunday morning is not necessarily the barometer for the health of the church; what goes on the rest of the week is. If our people begin to live in such a way that Sunday morning is what they see as the highlight of their spiritual formation, then we as leaders have done nothing more than to lead our people to embrace our own idol, Sunday attendance report. It is throughout the rest of the week where faith is being worked out — in Community Groups, Discipleship Groups, Prayer Meetings, and other informal gatherings.

Membership

How committed to the local church are our people? This is not merely a tactic to make individuals commit to a church, but membership reveals a heart that is willing to covenant with others to the glory of God. In membership, individuals commit to support each other, love each other, challenge each other, and pray for each other. They give permission to the church to speak into their lives and to highlight blind spots that they are not seeing.

Membership is also a reflection of our love for Christ. As Christ’s body, as Christ’s bride, when individuals refuse to be accountable or to covenant in community, they are also refusing Christ. It would be like having a relationship with out the commitment of marriage. I have long hated the expression “I love Christ but hate the church” because it’s basically nonsensical! To hate the church is to hate Christ. Active, participating members in the local church are a great barometer to a church’s health.

How do we measure success in the church? Is it through programs, attendance, or finances? Though we can’t truly see another heart, actions reflect where our hearts are at. When we see baptisms taking place, we see individuals coming to know the Lord in such a way as they desire to make a public proclamation of an inward commitment. When individuals participate in the life of the church they show their heart and desire for sanctification, the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit through the word and others. In membership, one commits to each other to always be there for each other.


Ten Dangers of Passive Sanctification

Having highlighted Five Attractions of Passive Sanctification, here are ten dangers that accompany this error.

1. The danger of lost doctrine

One danger of passive sanctification is of confusing and conflating sanctification with justification, which may end up with us losing both of them. Thus, the worthy desire to exalt justification ends up with us losing it, and the commendable desire to connect sanctification with justification in this way ends up with us losing both. As Kevin DeYoung wrote:

If in trying to honor justification by faith alone we provide the same formula for sanctification, we are destroying the former as much as the latter.

It’s like hot and cold water. When I want a shower, I want piping hot water. When I want a refreshing drink, I want the water to be ice cold. But if I mix the two, I end up have a disgustingly lukewarm drink and a very brief and unpleasant shower.

2. The danger of lost law

There is a real danger here that we lose God’s moral law from the Christian’s life. I’m not saying that those who advocate passive sanctification deliberately aim for this. But it’s the end result at least for many who read and follow such teaching.  The only imperative left seems to be “Believe in your justification.”

But if salvation is from sin, and sin is transgression of God’s moral law, then we surely want God’s moral law in our lives at least to help us identify the sins we are to confess and flee from, and, as God’s children, to know what pleases Him.

3. The danger of lost effort

Passive santification seems to focus all effort and work upon resting in Christ’s effort and work for us. However, there’s a lot more effort and work than that if sanctification is to happen. In his classic work, Holiness, J.C. Ryle said:

In justification the word to be addressed to man is believe — only believe; in sanctification the word must be ‘watch, pray, and fight.’

The very same apostle who says in one place, “the life that I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God,’ says in another place, “I Fight,” “I run,” “I keep under my body”; and in other places, “let us cleanse ourselves,” “Let us labour,” “Let us lay aside every weight.

The effort is much more than merely spiritual or intellectual. There’s a muscular physicality to it involving our eyes, our mouths, our arms, our hands, our legs, our muscles, our tendons, our sexual organs, and every other part of our body. organs,

4. The danger of lost motivation

By reducing the motivation for obedience to one item (justification) we lose multiple motivations to holiness. Kevin DeYoung wrote that he found 20 motivations for holiness in 2 Peter alone! I need all the motivations I can get.

5. The danger of a lost dimension

If nothing we do can influence our experience of God’s love, then the primary focus of good works becomes our fellow man. However, the Bible says that, by God’s grace, we can do good works of Christian service to others which ALSO please God as sweet-smelling sacrifices (Phil. 4:16; Heb 13:16; Heb 13:21).

In other words, our works on a horizontal level also impact our vertical relationship with God. Our creature-to-creature relationships influence our creature-Creator relationship.

6. The danger of lost love

Although the advocates of passive sanctification believe they are exalting and securing God’s love for the believer, there’s a real danger of their views leading to a loss of the sense and experience of God’s love for them. How so? Because, contrary to what they teach, God does respond to our obedience with more manifestations of His love.

Yes, we love Him only because He first loved us (1 John 4:19); and, yes, we love him first then keep His commandments, not vice versa (John 14:15); but yes also, when we do respond to His love with love-fueled obedience, Christ responds to that with loving indwelling, divine communion, and Trinitarian manifestation (John 14:15, 21, 23). What a powerful motivation to active sanctification!

God’s love for the believer never changes, but the believer’s experience of that love can change. God may withdraw the assurance and the daily experience of His Fatherly love because of my disobedience. He loves me no less, but I don’t have his love shed abroad in my heart to the same extent or degree. But He also may pour more of that love into my heart in response to loving service and obedience.

7. The danger of lost chastisement

If there is no link between our works and pleasing God, then there can be no link between our afflictions and displeasing God. Although we certainly want to avoid the error of Job’s friends who said all suffering is a result of personal sin, we must also avoid the idea that it never has anything to do with our conduct and character.

There is a benefit from suffering if we see it as the loving discipline of a loving heavenly Father, all for our good. We cannot make infallible links between sin and suffering but God does sometimes link them and calls us to search for these links too.

Paul expects moral and ethical change to result from our sufferings (Rom. 5:3-5) and the Apostle expects fruit form our suffering (Heb. 12:10-13).

8. The danger of lost spirituality

There’s so much more to Christian experience than the rather one-dimensional presentation of it in passive sanctification. Yes, the Spirit drives us back to Christ’s finished work every day. That’s one element of the Spirit’s work in us – and it is a wonderful experience, no question – but the Psalms, John 14:21&23, Revelation 3:20, and many other places, invite us to a far wider, deeper, richer, and more soul-satisfying experience of communion with God through His Spirit. There’s a vast amount of Christian literature, not least among the Puritans, that widens the vista of the life of God in the soul of man way beyond this limited view of the Spirit’s subjective work.

9. The danger of lost unity

This teaching around passive sanctification often divides God’s people, weakening the church. Now if it was truth that was causing the division, we would accept that. However, as I hope has been demonstrated, it is not truth, or at least not a biblically balanced and complete presentation of truth. J C Ryle says it best of the passive sanctification teaching of his own day.

I must deprecate, and I do it in love, the use of uncouth and newfangled terms and phrases in teaching sanctification. I plead that a movement in favor of holiness cannot be advanced by new-coined phraseology, or by disproportioned and one-sided statements, or by overstraining and isolating particular texts, or by exalting one truth at the expense of another…and squeezing out of them meanings which the Holy Ghost never put in them… The cause of true sanctification is not helped, but hindered, by such weapons as these. A movement in aid of holiness which produces strife and dispute among God’s children is somewhat suspicious.

10. The danger of losing Christ

The Gospel is not justification. But one of the dangers of this imbalanced emphasis on justification is that it seems to put justification in the foreground and Christ in the background. As W Evans wrote:

The fact of the matter is that the heart of the gospel is not justification.  Nor is it sanctification.  It is Jesus Christ himself, who is “our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.” The Apostle Paul came preaching “Christ crucified” and more often than not he directed Christians, not to their own justification, but to the crucified and risen Christ in whom they are both justified and sanctified.  The gospel involves freedom from both the penalty and the power of sin, and the latter is not simply to be collapsed into the former.  Only when we begin with Christ and our spiritual union with him will we give both justification and sanctification their proper due.


Lies About Anger

Have you let anger get the best of you? Did you blow up and toss pointy words across the room? Did you clam up, steely eyed and mouth shut, and kill with silence?

Anger is an emotion brought on when you’ve been wronged, real or perceived. In this post I hope to help you learn common lies about anger so you can handle this emotion well and live a life that brings you peace and honors Jesus Christ.

Like you, I’ve believed lies about anger. My mom snapped an embarrassing photo of me at age 3. My bottom lip protruded from Chicago to Shanghai, my blue eyes glared.

Back then I believed the lie that the best way to handle anger is to not talk about it. Last week I felt wronged when I learned that the cost of our family’s health insurance would increase $150 a month. I complained to my husband who took the high road and said, “It could be a lot worse,” then resumed watching TV. I responded to his indifference with more quiet anger.

Can you identify a few lies you’ve believed about anger? Did you know anger ranges from mild irritation to frustration to self-pity to rage? 

Lie 1: Anger Is Sinful

Anger is a God-given emotion. It is neither morally right nor wrong. Consider Jesus, fully God and fully man, who never sinned. He became angry at the sight of money changers in the temple.

Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’” Matthew 21:12-13, NIV

Some thirty times in Psalms the word anger is used, often referring to God’s anger. God’s anger is always righteous. Righteous anger is holy.

Shepherd-King David implored God regarding his enemies:

Pour out your indignation upon them,
    and let your burning anger overtake them. Psalm 69:24, ESV

Lie 2: Punch a Pillow When Angry

The way you express anger determines whether it becomes sin, or a violation of God’s will.

Ephesians 4:26 says, “In your anger do not sin.” This suggests it is possible for you to angry without sinning. But let’s be honest: You and I almost always express this emotion by acting out loudly and destructively–yelling, slamming doors, using fists, name-calling, and punching pillows. Or. . .

Lie 3: Hold in Your Anger

We bottle it. Bottled anger may set up an unexpected volcanic blow up or even despair and depression.

Did you know that suicide might be considered an extreme and tragic expression of anger turned inward?

The apostle Paul says,

Instead, speaking the truth is love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15, NIV

When I was little, I missed the memo on speaking out loud. Yes, I said awful things to myself. My soul-speak was full of condemnation for those who violated my “rights,” quite often my older brother who snatched the last chocolate chip cookie, and toward myself. My self-talk overflowed with lying Lucy words like “You’re not enough” and “You’re a loser.”

Do you tend to hold in your anger? When you speak to your soul, what do you often say?

Practical Solutions to Expressing Your Anger

Now that you know several lies about anger, you may wonder how to handle this emotion.

First know the common sources of anger. They are:

  1. Hurt. When you feel hurt, you may use anger to protect yourself from additional emotional pain.
  2. Fear. When you feel threatened, you may give in to worry because you lack trust in God.
  3. Injustice. When you sense that your rights have been violated, you probably will feel anger.

At its root, anger is based on a wrong belief that life should be fair.

When you believe that life should be fair, and you’ve been mistreated, you’ll probably think your anger is justified, even good. You may believe that expressing it–loudly or quietly–is your right.

Second, exchange your wrong belief with a right belief. This is was a right belief sound like.

Right belief:

“God is in control of all my circumstances so I can trust him and give him my rights. I believe that when I act upon the truth of the Bible, no matter how I feel, God will bring about a good result. I choose to allow my anger to motivate me to do what God wants me to do.”

Finally, look upon anger as a type of warning signal.

It tells you something is amiss. Recognizing your emotion helps you stomp lies about anger and choose to handle it well.

May I Pray for You?

Heavenly Father,

Please help me when I feel angry. Let it be a motivator to speak the truth in love to the person who has wronged me or to simply accept a situation that seems unfair. Give me patience and deeper faith. Amen.

Resources for You!

DOWNLOAD: Get this complimentary download on the Many Faces of Anger.

COUNSELING: The certified biblical counselors would like to come alongside you in your emotional pain and point you to Jesus and the timeless truths of the Gospel. Contact us for information or schedule an appointment online.

The post Lies About Anger appeared first on Biblical Counseling Center.


The myth of race

One of the most harmful effects of evolutionary theory is the concept of race. Despite having zero scientific validity to it, the idea that human beings can be categorized into general “races” that are supposedly connected to their biology has wormed its way into our world views. It needs to make a quick exit—stage left.

Thabiti Anwaybwile (pastor of Anacostia River Church in DC) said it this way: “Believing in race is like believing in unicorns, because neither exist.”

Certainly cultures exist. Certainly ethnicities exist. And certainly racism exists (largely fueled by the whole notion of race to begin with).

But unicorns do not, and neither does race.

Here is a definition of race, followed by four reasons you should evict the concept of race from your vocabulary and your worldview: 

“Race”

Dictionaries and biology textbooks define race this way: “Each of the major divisions of humankind, having distinct physical characteristics.” When different races are listed, they often consist of African-American, Caucasian, Asian, Native-American, Native Hawaiian, and other sub-sets. Hispanics are considered (by those who consider such things) to not be a race but to be a subset of White.

Race is distinguished from culture/ethnicity. Race is supposedly fixed, objective, genetic and scientific. Culture is flexible, subjective, linguistic and social.

Here four reasons why you should reject the validity of race as a concept:

Race goes against logic

There is no logical grid for race. If a man can trace his ancestry back 500 years in Africa, and then immigrates to the United States, does that make him African-American? How long does he need to be in the United States before he becomes “American?” If immigration can change his racial status, in what sense is it biological?

And does it matter if his skin is white? What race is he then? Or his kids?

I suppose exceptions like this used to be just that—exceptions to the fixed concepts of race. But in today’s world, those exceptions are the rule. From our President (what race is someone with a Kenyan father, white mother, born in Hawaii, school in Asia, but the president of the Untied States?) to our friends, multi-ethnic marriages are becoming the norm. The concept of fixed races has simply become illogical.

And while we are on “illogical,” how can Hispanics be considered a subset of Caucasian, when the entire concept of “Hispanic” is connected to the mixing of African slaves with Spanish and Native Americans? Plus, Hispanics make up 20% of the American Population! If a concept of race misses—by definition—at least 20% of the population, it is ceased to become functional.

Race goes against science

Simply put: there is no scientific evidence that human beings can be categorized in any meaningful way by genetics.

University of New Mexico professor (Go Lobos!) Susan Chavez Cameron wrote a 2011 article surveying the history of scientific inquiry into race. She concluded that humans share at least 99.8% similarities in genes, but that the last .2% diversity is not connected to traits normally associated with race. In fact, only about .0002% of genetic diversity fits into what we might consider “racially identifiable” characteristics.

Chavez Cameron goes on to say that genetic diversity is actually greater within racial groups than it is outside of them. She ends her article by saying the concept of race “itself is passe” and “leads to harm” in counseling, medical treatment, and other areas.

Eloise Menses, Anthropology Professor at Eastern, has written a similar article covering the anthropologic evidences that humans can be categorized by race. She concludes:

“Essentially all anthropologists have given up the attempt to identify races of human beings. This is very simply because the best evidence indicates that there are physically no clear boundary lines between the various communities of people around the world. All of the traits that distinguish human beings from one another are found in all communities, although in varying degrees.”

Collin Kidd, a professor at University of  St. Andrews and the author of The Forging of Races, examined all manner of genetic diversity in humans, trying to categorize people by skin color, height/weight, stature, enzymes, hair types, and even ear wax types (who knew?). He concluded that while people can be divided along those lines, those divisions do not produce anything close to our concept of race.

Which should be obvious. You can have two people stand up side-by-side, and they can look identical, but be two different races; there is no underlying genetic differences that validate our desire to separate them by race.

Race goes against history

Throughout history, the concept of race has been used to oppress people. Here is the logic: if you agree that different races developed differently, and that these differences are genetic, then the obvious conclusion is that they are not equal. And if they are not equal, then some races (or at least one race) must be superior.

This gives way to banning inner-racial marriages—after all, you have to guard the purity of the elevated race. This gives justification for slavery—if people are inferior, ought they serve the superior?

In fact, much of our culture’s current understanding of race can be traced back to the German doctor Johan Blumenbach. In the early 1800’s, he examined skulls from around the world and declared that there were five races (Caucasian, Mongolian, Ethiopian, Malay, and American). Blumenbach is the first that I know of to divide races by color (white, yellow, brown, black, red).  But he also argued that because of this diversity, a hierarchy must be established.

Well, it turns out that not only is the concept of a hierarchy based on skin color absent of any scientific backing, but it also is the source of much harm. That harm has been manifest in perhaps every nation of the world, and certainly one of the main evils in American history. While the harm of the past cannot be undone, eliminating the concept of race from our world view would be a good start.

Race goes against the Bible

If you believe in a historic Adam and Eve, then this should be a no-brainer.

The Bible makes it clear that we are all descended from Adam, and that we are all one blood. Every human being has the same genetic core, because we all have a common ancestor. Genesis 1:27 describes the creation of all humans, and 2:7 shows that his occurred through the physical creation of Adam. His name means “man” because we would all come from him.

After the flood, the earth is populated again, but this time with a different approach. All the genetic diversity of the pre-diluvium world was in Noah’s three sons, and the divisions at Babel can trace their roads back to the ark (Gen 10:1-6).

This is why Paul says that all people on the earth are really “one blood” (Acts 17:26; KJV). The Holman says it this way: “From one man he has made every nation.”

The Bible never uses the concept of race, but it does use the concept of ethnicity. God is glorified with there is diversity in the church. The gospel is powerful enough to transcend cultures, social classes, languages, continents, and centuries. Heaven will be a diverse place, and the diversity comes from the transcendent power of the gospel, not from genetic make-up supposed classes of people.

I know our culture treats race like an idol, but the emperor has no clothes, and underneath our skin and hair, we are all pretty much the same. Celebrate diversity of cultures and ethnic groups, but run far away from the idea that humans can be meaningfully divided by race.


Seven Ways to Involve Older People in Your Church

By Chuck Lawless

I’m not that old – I’m 54 – but I increasingly realize that I’m not young, either. Sometimes I, too, long for what I thought were the “good old days.” At the same time, I realize the importance of being involved in a local church today. I may not speak for all older folks, but here’s how you could get me more involved in your church’s ministry:

  1. Understand that I’m not opposed to change. I’m honestly not. I may not like change, but it’s more because everything seems to be changing than it is my opposition to church change. Help me understand the change, and I’ll be with you. What I’m opposed to is change that’s not well thought out.
  2. Ask me to serve. Sometimes it easy for me to think I’m not as needed as I used to be. I realize the church needs younger leadership at some point, and I don’t want to get in the way of that transition. I’ll help in any way I can, but you may need to recruit me directly.
  3. Trust me with some of your prayer concerns. Some of us have spent decades trying to figure out how to pray, and many of us have more time than others to pray. I want to pray specifically and intentionally for you as my spiritual leaders. Share a bit of your heart with me, and I’ll be on board with you.
  4. Invite me to join you on a ministry visit. I know that would take more of your time, but I’d be genuinely honored to assist you. If I can, I’ll even clear my calendar to help you. I’ve been around long enough to know not to take your invitation lightly.
  5. Keep reminding me that you want to reach my kids and grandkids. I want them to be faithful to God, yet I don’t always have the answers to lead them. They really are a different generation. If you can help me figure out how to help them walk with God, I’ll be willing to overlook little things that tend to bug me.
  6. Help me understand that younger folks really do want older folks in their lives. I’m learning that young people understand the importance of cross-generational relationships much better than my generation has. They even like to listen to my stories about black-and-white TV’s, dot matrix printers, and computer modems that sounded like an airplane. Connect me with young people who like to hang out with me, and I’ll have new life in church.
  7. If you’re a church planter, recruit me. I’d want you to talk to my pastor also, but you might find that I’m praying about and looking for a new adventure. The older I get, the more I want to make sure I’m maximizing my gifts for the kingdom. I can tell you for certain that I’ll be your friend if we’re walking together for God’s glory.

Older folks, what would you add? Younger readers, what do you think? Let us hear from you.


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 Seven Ways to Involve Older People in Your Church appeared first on ThomRainer.com.


Grace Supplies Strength for Today

Grace Supplies Strength for TodayIf grace empowers us to live like Christ, how do we access that grace day after day? What does it mean to live in the strength that God supplies? In this lab, John Piper unpacks a life sustained by faith in God’s future grace, where God’s power meets our needs for his glory moment by moment.

Watch Now


Check out

Blogs

I Saw Color For the First Time | Challies Dot Com

10 Phrases that Encapsulate Your Journey with an Eating Disorder | Brad Hambrick

Even Though It’s Not A Game | Gentle Reformation

Why the Printed Book Will Last Another 500 Years | Literary Hub

Questions to Ask the Text | Daryl Dash

Don’t Waste Your Fall | Sayable

Rest | Biblical Counseling Coalition Blogs

14 Reasons to Memorize an Entire Book of the Bible | Andy Naselli

The Reformation & the Rediscovery of Christian Assurance | The Cripplegate

The Church is Not a Drive-Through Restaurant by Daniel Hyde | Ligonier Ministries Blog

New Book

Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past by Robert Plummer and Matt Haste.

Kindle Books

The Case for Faith: A Journalist Investigates the Toughest Objections to Christianity by Lee Strobel $0.99.

Stopping Stress before It Stops You: A Game Plan for Every Mom by Dr. Kevin Leman $0.99. Though not a mom, I’ve been reading this the past few days and would recommend for Dads as well, not just to help Mom better but also to deal with male stress too.

A Path Through Suffering by Elisabeth Elliot $1.99.

The New One Minute Manager $1.99. New edition of the classic.

Video

Sexuality and the Christian Faith: Google Hangout with Rosaria Butterfield


A La Carte (October 22)

Here are a couple of new Kindle deals. The big one is the brand new NIV Zondervan Study Bible (edited by D.A. Carson) at just $7.99. The Church: Why Bother? by Jeff Johnson is a bargain at $0.99.

Ten Dangers of Passive Sanctification

David Murray: “Having highlighted Five Attractions of Passive Sanctification, here are ten dangers that accompany this error.”

11 Steps to Memorizing an Entire Book of the Bible

“How do we go about memorizing an extended section or an entire book of the Bible? Here are 11 basic steps I’ve followed and commend to others…”

The Church is Not a Drive-Through Restaurant

“Because of cultural influences on the church in America in our time, we tend to treat the church like a drive-through restaurant.” It’s true of Canada, too.

The Pleasure of Pleasing God

“God so cares about us as a Father, that he finds happiness in our obedience and sadness in our disobedience.”

This Day in 1746. The charter for the College of New Jersey—whose Board of Trustees included men from William Tennent’s Log College—was granted to revival leader Jonathan Dickenson 269 years ago today. The College would later become Princeton University. *

Five Steps to Meditating on the Bible

“To meditate is to think deeply about what God has said to us in the Bible and to prepare our minds and hearts for prayer. Scripture is the foundation of our praying; meditation readies us for it by helping us focus, understand, remember, worship, and apply.”

Preach As If You Would Die & Go to Heaven When You’re Finished

“If it were revealed to you that you were about to preach the last sermon you would ever give, how would you preach and what would you do different?” Here is some sound counsel.


Christian Headlines Daily – Thursday, October 22, 2015

http://www.christianheadlines.com/

Top Headlines

Christian Drummer Shot Dead by Policeman after His Car Broke Down on the Interstate

Man Sends Partner a Text While She Waits in Abortion Clinic Which Saves Unborn Child’s Life

Evangelicals Soften Death Penalty Stance

Eric Metaxas Says Carson, Fiorina, Trump His Top Presidential Picks

Couple Behind Viral Pregnancy Announcement Video Asks for Prayer for Preemie Son

Israeli Cafe Offers Discount to Jews and Arabs Who Dine Together

Republicans Hope to Find ‘Missing’ Evangelical Voters

Video Released from Libya of Beheading of Christian from South Sudan

Huckabee Given an ‘A,’ Trump an ‘F’ According to ‘Christian Voting Guide’

Church Attack Routs Thousands of Indonesian Christians

Opinion

How to Effectively Argue against Evolution and for Creation

Oprah Winfrey’s ‘Belief’: ‘Millions of Ways’ to God?

Ben Carson Wouldn’t Vote for Muslim President Because He Takes Religion Seriously

Planned Parenthood Changes Its Plans, But We Do not

Lindsay Lohan for President?


10/22/15 Do Whatever It Takes

READING: Matthew 18

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  How hard do you and I work to eradicate sin from our lives? The words of Matthew 18:8-10 sound much like the previous words of Matthew 5:29-30, thus creating emphasis through repetition and reminding us again about the serious nature of sin:

Matthew 18:8-10  If your hand or your foot causes your downfall, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life maimed or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be thrown into the eternal fire. And if your eye causes your downfall, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye, rather than to have two eyes and be thrown into hellfire!

Matthew 5:29-30  If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of the parts of your body than for your whole body to go into hell!

In both cases, Jesus’ point is clear: He so demands that we live godly, pure lives that He uses intentional, dramatic, heart-stopping hyperbole to catch our attention. While it might be easy to hear the word “hyperbole” and think Jesus didn’t mean what He said, to go that route is to miss the point completely. It’s true that He didn’t mean the words literally, but He still meant what He said. We are not to take sin lightly. We are to take whatever measures are necessary to walk in godliness. Repentance may not be easy, but it is always necessary — regardless of the cost.

ACTION STEPS: Consider today what steps you need to take to avoid sin in your life. Is it to be fully honest with somebody? To avoid going to certain places or watching particular shows? To toss your computer or phone? Drastic steps, even when painful, are worth the effort to please Jesus.

PRAYER: “God, grant me wisdom and courage to do whatever it takes to live in purity.”


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:

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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

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— Augustine

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