Was/Is There A “Gay Agenda”?
Obviously there’s more to the book than this section, so Mohler does go on to talk about other issues, including how to respond to this massive movement with Christian principles. Again, I’ll write a more detailed review later. For now, flag this book as “one to read for sure” if you want more solid info and help in thinking about the sexual revolution from a Christian perspective.
4 Questions to Ask a Church Visitor
How did you discover our church? On a basic level, this will tell you what types of outreach are successful. And, you will find out what the visitor already knows, e.g., from looking at the church’s website. In addition, some visitors are comfortable with sharing more without being asked. You might learn that they are dissatisfied with their current church or that they are new to the area and don’t know anyone. This will help you understand them better.
The Reformation & the Rediscovery of Christian Assurance
Sinners do not progressively render themselves righteous before God through works, but are instantaneously declared righteous by faith in Jesus Christ. The penalty for our sin is not gradually purged through a mixture of man’s works, saintly merit, and time in Purgatory, but instantly forgiven through faith in Christ’s sin-bearing death on the cross. Righteousness sufficient for my assurance of heaven is not accumulated through careful keeping of the church’s sacraments, but is instantly credited by trusting in the righteous Christ alone as my mediator. Luther understood that justification is by faith alone in Christ alone. The result is that there is not one ounce of condemnation from God towards the sinner.
Abused Christian Wives, It Is Not Your Fault and You Don’t Deserve It.
We should not only be aware of the problem of domestic violence, we should also care so deeply about those members of the Body who have been, or who are being harmed by an abuser, that we actually feel their pain, and will do everything in our power to help them…but so often we just say, “but that’s none of my business”, or worse, we side with the abuser. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 12, that we are all members of one Body and if one member hurts, we all hurt.
11 Verbs of Repentance
But let’s not just go back a couple of thousand years to Ephesus, or a few hundred years to Heidelberg. Let’s bring this right up to date and apply it to our own lives with this one question: What should you put on the bonfire? Of course, it need not be a literal bonfire. But if not a literal bonfire, then use these repentance verbs to have a spiritual bonfire.
Negligence Lawsuit Filed Against IBLP
The lawsuit, which was filed in the Circuit Court for Dupage County (Illinois), alleges that IBLP was negligent over the past several decades by failing to properly address alleged sexual abuse and harassment by IBLP employees and that IBLP failed to properly report known or suspected abuse to the proper authorities. The lawsuit further alleges that IBLP’s conduct was “wilful and wanton” because IBLP demonstrated an “utter indifference to and/or [a] conscious disregard for a substantial risk of harm” to the plaintiffs, and that IBLP and its directors engaged in a civil conspiracy to cover up the allegations.
The Awesome Power to Work for God’s Good Pleasure
We “work out” our salvation. We don’t earn it, but because we are saved, as someone once said, we are to “work out what God has worked in.” God first gives us the will to work then fills us with his mighty power to work for his good pleasure.
A Theology of Worship
The gospel—Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection— is what makes worship possible. The gospel is what we proclaim in worship. The gospel is what we sing in worship. The gospel is what calls a people together in worship, inspires a people to praise in worship, and sends a people out in a life of worship. Every Sunday is another opportunity to sing about the cross, glory in our Redeemer, and marvel at the good news that is Christ for us and in us. Jesus Christ is at the center of all biblical thinking about worship. He is the mediator between God and man. His substitutionary sacrifice on the cross is the propitiation for our sins. He is the procurer of salvation and blessing for the nations. He is the new temple in which and around which all true believers gather.
If Mr. Parsley really believed he had the apostolic gift of healing, why wouldn’t he go on his own television show and, before a global audience, receive the miraculous healing power from God he claims to have?
“Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” John 4:48 (KJV)
Faith healer and prosperity preacher Rod Parsley has for many years made his living by dramatically laying hands on people, “slaying them” in the spirit and pronouncing them to be “healed” as they fall backwards in comical obedience to his commands. Now, faith healer Parsley has been diagnosed with throat cancer, and he doing a strange thing. Instead of having someone in his church with the “anointing” to lay hands on him, or go to another high-profile “healer” like Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley is taking radiation treatments at his local hospital.
Parsley says this about his treatment: “Whatever medication I take, I stand against any side effects. I say, “This medication will do exactly what God and my doctors purpose it to do, and will harm me in no way.” The Bible says, Mark 16—and I’ve stood on this, “If they drink any deadly thing, it shall not harm them,” meaning whatever comes in to my body to help bring healing will not harm me, for I’m a child of God.”
Now we here at NTEB certainly do wish a speedy and full recovery for Mr. Parsley in his cancer battle, make no mistake about that. But we also wish to point out the true powerlessness of self-proclaimed faith healers, and the damage their false doctrine does to the body of Christ. We do not live in the days of the apostles, and as such, the apostolic gifts of healing do not exist in our present Church Age. This is what the Bible teaches us. Rod Parsley is one of the highest-profile faith healers on television today, and yet he is completely unable to obtain the “miracle healing” he has purported to be able to freely dispense to others since he began in the ministry in 1977.
If Mr. Parsley really believed he had the apostolic gift of healing, why wouldn’t he go on his own television show and, before a global audience, receive the miraculous healing power from God he claims to have? Why doesn’t he invite TD Jakes, Creflo Dollar, Benny Hinn or any of the others to perform a healing on him while the cameras are rolling? He won’t do that because it would be the end of his ministry, and the end of the ministries of any of his faith healing buddies when they publically failed to heal him.
So the next time you are tempted to go to a “healing crusade” and have a millionaire televangelist lay hands on you and heal you, just remember what they do when they get sick. They go to the doctors and the hospitals just like everyone else does. Does God still heal? Absolutely He does. Just not through a phony healing crusade by a powerless faith healer.
Get well, Mr. Parsley, and when you do, go back to your church and start preaching the actual gospel.
Progressives are trying to steer the world into Utopia. How will they accomplish this lofty goal? Lee Duigon, a contributing editor with the Chalcedon Foundation, reveals their plan, which involves science and coercion: Free will is messy—especially other people’s free will. It’s so annoying, when you know what’s best for them, and you’re kind enough to […]
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Our Greatest Threat Is Our Greatest Opportunity
Most people still know very little about Islam and the people who call themselves Muslims.
The post Our Greatest Threat Is Our Greatest Opportunity appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
Christianity and Civil Disobedience
Is there every a right time for such a thing? Robert Meyer of Renew America joins us on today’s program.
The post Christianity and Civil Disobedience appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
Sharpening Each Other Or Turning Against One Another?
There’s a difference between contending for the faith and throwing another under the bus over minor disagreements.
The post Sharpening Each Other Or Turning Against One Another? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
If Patience Is A Virtue, Why Do We Lack It?
The answer is simpler than you think. Dave Wager joins us on the program.
The post If Patience Is A Virtue, Why Do We Lack It? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
Dr. Duke Pesta of Freedom Project Education gives us the very latest in the campaign to raise awareness about the dangers of Common Core.
The post Education or Indoctrination? appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.
Fundamentalist Christian Ministry Attended by Josh Duggar under Investigation for Sexual Abuse
Christian Headlines has the latest on Bill Gothard, founder of Institute In Basic Life Principles. In 2014 Gothard resigned over sexual harassment charges:
A fundamentalist Christian ministry is under investigation for allegedly covering up sexual abuse of employees and children who attended its programs.
Christian Today reports that the Institute in Basic Life Principles (IBLP), which was once a leading organization within the Christian homeschooling movement, has been accused of covering up sexual abuse.
Five women have filed a lawsuit against IBLP, asking for $50,000 in compensation and stating that the organization “frequently received reports” of “sexual abuse, sexual harassment and inappropriate/unauthorised touching,” and that these serious allegations were never reported to authorities.
BREAKING: Here Are All The Unreleased Planned Parenthood Tapes
GotNews.com has obtained all of the Planned Parenthood tapes but the lawyers representing the National Abortion Federation wants to censor them and us.
Yesterday we were hit with an unconstitutional demand letter from Morrison & Foerster, the firm representing the National Abortion Federation in its suit against David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress.
Pastors grow more polarized on Islam
According to Baptist Press:
Protestant pastors are increasingly polarized about Islam, with a growing share labeling the Muslim faith violent while a sharply rising minority calls it spiritually good, a new study shows.
Although a majority considers Islam dangerous, a small but increasing segment believes Islam is similar to Christianity, according to a new survey by LifeWay Research.
And two-thirds of Protestant pastors agree Christianity and Islam should seek to coexist in America.
According to recent research, of the 210 million adults in the United States, 65 million of them used to attend church regularly but no longer do, and 2.7 million more leave every year.
Church as we know it is dying.
[Want to read some of the research for yourself? Find numerous church statistics here (much of which seems contradictory) or get Josh Packard’s book which contains the latest research on this subject.]
But, in my opinion, this does not mean at all the church itself is dying.
How could it? Jesus said, “I will build my church …” Do we honestly think He will fail in this?
No, I believe the church of the future looks absolutely nothing like the church most people are familiar with.
In fact, for many people already, the church of the present looks nothing like the church of the past.
But that is not the point of this post…
I want to talk briefly about those 65 million adults who no longer attend church.
65 Million Adults No Longer Attend Church
A recent study on these 65 million adults discovered that while they no longer attend church, 30 million of them still identify themselves as Christian, and are still actively engaged in various practices and relationships that closely mirror some of the activities and relationships a person might practice in a church building except that they are no longer in a church building.
They firmly believe they are followers of Jesus and are still part of the Church, even though they no longer sit in a pew on Sunday morning.
Do you have a problem with that?
I don’t. I say, “May their tribe increase!”
But I don’t really even want to talk about them.
I want to talk about the other 35 million.
35 Million Have Completely Abandoned Jesus?
I want to talk about the 35 million who used to attend church, and who no longer do, and who no longer self-identify as Christians or claim to follow Jesus or worship God in any meaningful way.
For myself, I find that number highly suspect.
I certainly have not done any sort of scientific research into this segment of the population, but I work in an environment where I get to interact with a lot of religious and non-religious people, and I have had countless conversations with people who probably count as one of the 35 million people who used to attend church and identify as Christian, but no longer do.
And it’s true …
… They don’t attend church. They don’t read their Bibles. They don’t pray. They don’t call themselves “Christian.” They don’t claim to follow Jesus. They use coarse language. They live what appears to be completely “secular” lives.
But do you want to know what I have found?
I have yet to talk to a single person who truly has abandoned God or rejected Jesus.
I am not saying these people don’t exist. I know they do. I just think the number is much, much smaller than 35 million. I would be surprised if it was even 10% of that number.
Here is why I say this …
When I talk to individuals who used to attend church but now want nothing to do with God, Jesus, church, the Bible, or anything of the sort, one of the initial questions I always ask is, “So why did you leave it all behind? What happened? What changed?”
Without fail, I get an answer that falls somewhere into one of the following sorts of explanations:
The church told me I had to believe in 6 24-hour days of creation 6000 years ago. I couldn’t believe that, so I figured that if this is what it meant to be a Christian, I couldn’t be one.
The church was all about hate. They hated gay people. They hated democrats. They hated Muslims. I have some gay friends. I have some Muslim friends. I am a democrat. So I left Christianity.
Have you read the Old Testament? God is drowning everybody who lives and telling the Israelites to slaughter people. I once told my Bible study leader that I was uncomfortable with a God who does these sorts of things, and he told me that I had to love and worship this God or I couldn’t be a Christian. So I’m not a Christian.
Have you read all those silly laws in the Bible? Laws about what I can and cannot wear? What I can and cannot eat? Who I can and cannot hang out with? I like cheeseburgers. I like bacon. And I like hanging out with people who also like to eat these things. I couldn’t follow a God who made a bunch of dumb laws like that.
My pastor was a pedophile and the church board tried to cover it up so the church wouldn’t split. I wonder how many children he molested which we will never know about? I couldn’t have anything to do with people who cover up things like that. So I left and never looked back.
There are a few other similar explanations I have heard, but those are the sorts of explanations I typically hear.
And do you know how I always respond?
Here is what I say:
God agrees with you.
When you reject a religious group because they are closed off about science, or teach you to hate people because they’re different, or tell you that genocide is good and holy, or cover up child molestation to protect a pastor, God cheers you on.
When you turned your back on these things, you did not turn your back on God.
No, you rejected the things God Himself rejects. You did not turn from God; you turned to God.
The truth is that you know what God is like, apparently better than many church people do.
God is like Jesus, and Jesus accepts everybody, loves everybody, forgives everybody. If you want to live like this toward others, then you have not abandoned God, but have been following Him (even if you didn’t know it).
Jesus condemned genocidal behavior. He condemned all portraits of a violent God. If you condemn genocide and violence, then you have not abandoned God, but have been following Him.
The only people Jesus ever condemned are the religious leaders who had a bunch of silly rules to keep people away from God and who covered over their own hypocritical sins and perversions for the sake of power, manipulation, and control. If you condemn these sorts of behaviors in religious people, then you are condemning the things that God also condemns, and you have not abandoned God, but have been following Him.
A lot of people, when they hear this, look at me sort of skeptically, because they have heard the exact opposite from most churches and church leaders. They often say,
Well, if you’re right, I could maybe follow a God like that. But I’ve never heard this before from anybody.
So if I get the chance, I approach the topic from another direction. I might say,
I don’t know if you believe in God or not. You say you don’t. Fine. But hypothetically, IF God did exist, IF there was a God, what would you like Him to be? How would you like Him to behave? What would you like Him to do?
I am not asking you what you think God is like, or what you think the church says God is like. I am asking you what you would like God to be like … if He exists.
They sit back, and they usually joke around a bit about how they want God to give them a million dollars and a mansion on the beach and let them live forever in perfect health.
But eventually, if I press a bit, they get around to describing a God who is not that worked up about sin, but who loves everybody and teaches people to love everybody.
They describe a God who understands how painful and difficult life is, and who knows that a bunch of religious rules and regulations don’t help.
They dream about a God they can talk to and who is with them in their pain, and fear, and sorrow.
They hope that God accepts people regardless of their sexual or political orientation, who sides with the poor and the outcast, who doesn’t have favorites, and who wants equality, justice, freedom, and fairness for all.
And as they dream dreams out loud about God, I get to smile and, when they are done, say,
Guess what? I’ve got some really good news for you.
The God you have described is the God who exists. THAT is what God IS like. THAT is the God revealed by Jesus.
The God you rejected, the God of popular Christianity, is not God.
You rejected a god who kills, steals, and destroys. But God doesn’t do that. You rejected a satanic version of God, which means that by rejecting that false god, you were actually worshipping the true God!
In your heart, you know God. You know what He is truly like. And so when you rejected the god of religion, you actually turned toward the God who truly is.
In fact, in turning away from that god, you were actually following the true God, and you just didn’t know it.
Most people cannot believe this right away, because they have never heard such a thing before.
But sometimes, this idea leads to further conversations, and further questions.
Do you know someone who is angry at God, the Bible, or the church?
If you know someone who is angry at God, the Bible, or the church, praise them for it. Most likely, their anger is Godly anger. Most likely, their disgust is righteous. Most likely, they are representing God’s true heart.
The next time you encounter someone who has “left the church” or “rejected God” rather than tell them that they need to come back, instead, strike up a conversation by asking them what happened, or why they made the decision they did.
And whatever you do, never ever ever EVER have this conversation with the goal of inviting such a person to come to your church. Never.
If you have this sort of conversation with someone, and then you end it with, “So come to our church on Sunday! This is what our pastor teaches! His sermons are great!” you will probably never have a conversation with that person again. They will think that the only reason you said what you said was to get them into a pew at your church. They will see it as manipulative (and they would be right).
In fact, even if the person offers on their own to attend your church, please, tell them not to. Obviously, you cannot forbid them to visit your church, but gently tell them that since they know God so well, they don’t really need to “attend a church” on Sunday morning.
Invite them instead to just be open on a daily basis to what God wants to show them about Himself. Tell them that apparently, God has led them out of the institutional church for a reason, and so He might not want them to go back in. They are still part of His Church, but there might be something else He has in store for them that does not involve singing songs and listening to a sermon on Sunday morning.
Tell them that apparently, they have been doing a fine job of following Jesus, and they should simply be open to seeing where He leads them next.
This will be such a relief to them, that it might be just the thing they need to hear to encourage them to seek God and follow Him intentionally for the first time in their lives. For you have just told them that God is with them, that God wants to lead them, that they can hear from God and know Him within the community of friends they already have. They don’t need to add something “spiritual” to their life; they only need to recognize that God is already there with them, that their entire life is already spiritual.
So those are my thoughts about the so-called “35 million who have turned away from God.” I don’t think they need someone to invite them to “return.” No, what they need is for someone to praise them for their choice, and tell them that in rejecting a manipulative, fear/guilt/shame-based, violent religion, they have not abandoned God, but have actually followed Him into a place that look, sounds, and acts more like Jesus.
Maybe you will be that someone…
Many Christians, describe themselves this way: “I’m just a sinner saved by grace.”
This is true, and good to remember. Some, genuinely seeking to be humble say, “I’m the worst of sinners,” referring to Paul’s statement in 1 TI 1:15 about being the foremost of sinners. When Paul said that he was referring to Christ’s mission to come into this world to save sinners, even someone like him who persecuted the church. But Paul didn’t mean that he continued to be the worst of sinners. That was in the past. It was good to remember in order to be grateful, but he didn’t continue to be the worst of sinners.
After Christ saves us, though we still sin and must fight daily to put it to death, our PRIMARY IDENTITY is NOT sinners. In 1 CO 6 Paul says the unrighteous won’t inherit the kingdom – the immoral, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunks, etc, but in verse 11 he says:
“And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”
Did you catch that? Such WERE some of you! Yes, we WERE unrighteous sinners. But now in Christ, we have a NEW IDENTITY. God counts us righteous in Christ. So rather than identifying ourselves as the worst of sinners, we should think of ourselves as the New Testament describes those Christ has saved. Think about these amazing truths. We are:
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 CO 5.17
Children of God
But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God JN 1.12
Co-heirs with Christ
and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. RO 8.17
Created after the likeness of God
and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. EPH 4.24
No longer slaves of sin
We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. RO 6.6
Welcomed in Christ
Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. RO 15.7
Joined to Jesus and one spirit with him
But he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 1 CO 6.17
Clothed with Christ
for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. GA 3.27 (NIV)
Adopted as sons
he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will EPH 1.5
Citizens of heaven
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ PHP 3.20
Loved by Jesus
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. JN 15.9
Loved by the Father
for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. JN 16.27
Chosen, royal priests, holy, God’s own possession, proclaimers of his excellencies
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 PE 2.9
Raised with Christ
If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. CO 3.1
Temples of the Holy Spirit
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own… 1 CO 6.19
This is who we are now in Christ. Yes, we WERE unrighteous, vile sinners. But NOW we have new fundamental identities. Reflect on these things. Meditate on them and rejoice. If it would help you, print this out and put in on your fridge or save it so you can reflect on these verses again. And remember, though you must still fight sin, the old you has passed away and the new has come.
In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner Wallace concludes his six part mini-series summarizing material from his latest book, God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Investigates the Evidence For A Divinely Created Universe. J. Warner describes the power of cumulative cases and assembles the case for God’s existence. Is the existence of God reasonable given the diverse evidence in the universe? Are explanations from “inside the room” of the natural universe more reasonable than the explanation from “outside the room”? (For more information, visit http://www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)
Here is the audio podcast (the Cold-Case Christianity Weekly Podcast is located on iTunes or our RSS Feed):
We obey what we fear. Some fears are instinctual but others are conditioned. Most fears are expressions of things we believe. And what we believe governs our behaviors.
Courage is the positive expression of faith — we believe good will result from an action or non-action. Fear is the negative expression of faith — we believe bad will result from an action or non-action.
Fears are extraordinarily powerful, but frequently they do not tell us the truth.
Fears can be overcome, but only by changing the beliefs that fuel them.
Sometimes we have good reason to fear. Much of the time, however, our fears are unfounded or greatly exaggerated.
Fear of the Deep End
When I was six or seven years old, my mother enrolled me in swimming lessons at a local junior high school. At first they were fun, as we learned new skills in the familiar security of the shallow end. But as the lessons progressed the instructors had us spend more time in the deep end of the pool where we were forced to rely on what we had learned about treading water, floating on our backs and our new swimming strokes. That was a bit scary, but the instructors stayed close.
But then came a dreaded day: all of us would have to jump off the diving board into the deep end.
I didn’t fear jumping. I loved taking running leaps into the shallow end. After a while, I was even willing to take tentative jumps into the deep end, provided that the side of the pool was within reasonable reach. But the diving board was a good 15-20 feet away from the side of the pool and the thought of jumping off of it into the abyss was terrifying.
Why was I so afraid? If you had asked me back then, I’m not sure I would have been able to articulate my fear. I probably would have answered something like, “I just don’t want to do it!” I just knew it was overwhelming. But looking back, I know what I was afraid of — drowning.
Facing My Fear
When my turn to jump finally came, I got up on the board, walked carefully toward the end, and stood there, scared to death. My fear was immobilizing. I couldn’t jump. My instructor was close by, treading water beneath me. He said, “Don’t be afraid! You can do it! You’re going to be okay.”
Why did he tell me that? He told me that because he had equipped me with the skills to swim and he was nearby to help me if I got into trouble. Therefore my fear of drowning was unfounded. However, it was still governing my behavior. I was not in real danger, but I still believed that this jump might be the last I ever took. My instructor knew that the only way to cure my fear and rid me of my unbelief was to make me face it. I had to jump in order to make the discovery that his promise that I would be okay would prove true. He knew that if I jumped, my fear would lose its power over me.
I don’t know how long I stood there debating with my instructor; maybe five to seven minutes. But it felt like an hour. He was exhorting and encouraging me and I was explaining to him that I just couldn’t jump. I would start walking to the back of the board and his exhortations would get stronger. I’d come back up to the front of the board and begin to muster the courage to jump and then lose heart and back away. What I was experiencing was a faith struggle. Would I believe my fears or would I believe my instructor’s promises? What I chose to believe would make all the difference in my behavior.
Finally, in my mind and heart the scale of faith tipped from believing my fears to believing the encouraging promises my instructor was making to me. And I jumped. It was not a heroic jump. But it was a life-changing jump. When I jumped, I discovered that my instructor’s promises were true and my fears had been unfounded. A whole new dimension of swimming joy began to open up to me. Faith replaced fear, confidence replaced paralysis. I got up and jumped again. And then I did it again.
The next week, when they had us jump again the old fear was back again and the first jump was a bit hard, but not as hard as it had been before. I jumped after a short battle for faith. And then I was off. It wasn’t very long before I was diving off the board and later off a high dive at a local beach.
My instructor could have coddled my fear. He could have pitied that terrified little boy cowering on the diving board, begging him not to force me to do what terrified me. He could have come up and put his arm around me and guided me off the diving board and escorted me back to the comfort and security of the shallow end. I would have been grateful to him that day. But I would not have been grateful later. I would have spent much more of my childhood splashing in the shallows and missing out on the joy of the deeps.
Are you standing on a diving board? Is your heavenly Instructor telling you to jump in? Are you terrified, pacing back and forth on the board, begging him not to make you do it? Are you telling him why you can’t? Is he making precious and very great promises to you that if you jump, a whole new dimension of joyful faith-swimming will open up to you?
His promises are true, but you won’t really know that until you jump. It doesn’t have to be a heroic jump. But it just may prove to be a life-changing jump.
C.S. Lewis once noted that many people talk about “meeting God” as if it would be a warm, cozy experience. “They need to think again,” he says. I’ve recently been reading through scenes in Scripture that depict people meeting God. And Lewis is right: It’s never an experience that creates warm fuzzies. More often than not, it’s a scene of abject terror.
Isaiah illustrates this well. When Isaiah saw God in his holiness, Scripture says,
“And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said, ‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!’” (Isaiah 6:4–5)
Isaiah, God’s prophet, catches a glimpse of God in his perfection. But his response isn’t, “How cool!” Rather, it’s “I’m lost!” That’s what seeing God’s holiness does. It terrifies us. The seraphim—whose name literally means “blazing ones” because they are too brilliant to look at—are here covering their faces before God. And the pillars of the temple—God’s holy house—are shaking. They aren’t even people, and they’re quaking in fear.
Why is God’s holiness terrifying? I see three reasons.
1. Just to be in the presence of greatness is terrifying.
When I was a teenager, Michael Jordan was my hero. Like every other kid in North Carolina, I had a poster of him in my room. I imitated (poorly) his trademark shots. So when he came to a nearby golf tournament, I went to see if I could just brush shoulders with him. My friends and I wandered around all day … with no luck. But as the event was shutting down, I saw his purple Porsche round the corner. And in a strange confluence of events, he rolled his window down at the same time my buddy pushed me forward into the now-opened window. For a brief moment, I was inches away from MJ’s face, until he calmly said, “Get outta my car.”
It’s an odd scene, but that typifies what it’s like to be in the presence of human greatness. It was a mixture of fascination and fright. I was—at the same time—attracted to him and afraid to approach him. And that experience is, in an astronomically small measure, what it’s like to approach the greatness of God.
I know that the idea of a frightening God is out of fashion today. It seems backward and un-modern. But in the presence of human greatness, we feel a measure of intimidation and fear. How much more would we feel that in the presence of divine greatness?
2. God’s holiness is terrifying because it reveals our goodness to not be good.
I love the KJV translation of Isaiah’s statement. “Woe is me! For I am undone.” That’s a vivid depiction of what Isaiah was feeling. The “glue” that had held his life together—his sense of goodness—was being torn apart when faced with pure, absolute goodness.
That’s always what it feels like when God’s presence begins to enter your life. It’s disorienting to the point of feeling like a disaster. As Rosaria Butterfield aptly puts it, conversion is like a train wreck. It jumbles you up and leaves you feeling undone before it ever starts putting you back together.
In fact, one of the surest signs that you’ve never met God is that you feel pretty good about yourself. We’re creatures of comparison, so we tend to console ourselves by comparing our moral worth to others. “I’m not as bad as …” But when you see true holiness, all that falls apart. When we see goodness for what it is, we feel without being told that our goodness is, as Isaiah would say, “filthy rags.”
The post 3 Reasons God’s Holiness Terrifies Us appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
Over the years, our Lawless Group church consulting team has worked with many churches that have recently endured a “church split.” Sometimes the division results in more than one congregation, but sometimes the same church simply exists in a divided state.
What we’ve learned is the no division happens overnight; every one has some kind of previous problem that no one addressed. To help you evaluate your church’s possibility of division, here are some of those warning signs:
- Unresolved, but hidden, anger over a past church issue. I’m amazed by how many times we’ve talked with church members who are angry over things that happened years, if not decades, ago. On the outside it looks like they’ve “gotten over it”; but when our team gives them opportunity to talk, the volcano erupts.
- Bitterness among members. I don’t understand it, but I’ve surely seen it: members who are so bitter at each other that they’ll change small groups, intentionally sit on opposite sides of the worship center, and avoid each other on the Lord’s Day. It’s crazy, actually….
- Turf wars. Look around to see who in the church is protecting something. The ministry group that refuses to change meeting places. The bad leader who threatens to create a ruckus if you really ask him to step down. The leadership team that rebels against sharing any of their power. The more entrenched people are in their roles, the more likely the church faces division when changes are needed.
- Rigid small groups. By “rigid,” I mean small groups that are unwilling to change, are quite comfortable with their current fellowship, are unwelcoming (although seldom intentionally) to guests, and are often “doing their own thing.” In essence, they’ve become their own little church. That’s division.
- Unchanging lay leadership. When the primary lay leadership of the church (deacons, teachers, etc.) has not changed in years, the church may be developing an “us vs. them” or “older folks vs. newer folks” division. Eventually, the folks left out will sit in apathy or attend elsewhere.
- Parking lot and hallway meetings. The conversations may be quiet ones, but they’re not unnoticed. Even “secret” meetings are seldom secret for long. Frustrated members who meet behind the scenes (even those who in the long run take a right position) are only fostering division.
- Fewer guests attending. I can show you this trend in many churches: when a church is on the verge of conflict, its members stop inviting others. Unless the church is simply in an exploding area where newcomers visit regularly, the number of guests naturally decreases when division begins to bubble up in a church.
- Fewer fellowship events. The happy church plans times to hang out together because they genuinely enjoy being together. Those events tend to decrease in number (and certainly in attendance) when inner turmoil is developing.
Why are young people leaving the church? If I had a dollar for every time I heard this question, I would have a lot of dollars. And I get it. The rate at which young people are leaving the church is alarming. Everyone has experienced a young person throwing aside their faith, either directly or indirectly. It’s devastating.
So, how does the church need to change? While this question needs to be addressed, I don’t think it provides an answer to the problem.
Stick with me, I am going somewhere.
You see, I believe parents are the primary link between young people and God. Not the church. In his book Soul Searching, Christian Smith says this:
The most important social influence in shaping young people’s religious lives is the religious life modeled and taught to them by their parents.
In an interview with Drs. Kara Powell and Chap Clark, Smith goes even further:
When it comes to kids’ faith, parents get what they are.
Whoa. That’s real.
Here’s the deal. Parents, you are painting a portrait of God for your children every day. Every word, action and conversation is a brushstroke. And when your children prepare to leave home, they are staring at a portrait of God. A portrait that shapes their actions and decisions about faith moving forward.
Are there exceptions? Absolutely. As a youth minister, I witnessed young people leave Jesus, even though the faith of their parents was rock solid. I also saw young people continue into college on fire for God, even though their parents had shaky, fickle faith. So, this isn’t a black and white issue. Few issues are.
But will you, as a parent, play an enormous role in shaping the faith of your children? No doubt.
With that being said, I want to point out some things young people need from their parents. I present these as someone who left God for a season in college, someone who ministers to young people every day, and someone who is passionate about reaching the next generation.
Here are seven things youth need from their parents so they won’t abandon God.
1) They need you to stop handing their faith off to youth leaders.
I grew up in church. But I was never part of a youth group. I didn’t receive formal training in youth ministry. So, when I jumped into youth ministry, the whole thing was new to me.
In the first few months, I noticed something alarming. It appeared as though parents looked to me as the primary person responsible for the spiritual growth of their kids. Why is this alarming? The Bible makes no mention of this model.
Unfortunately, most churches have created this mess. And reinforced it. Calendars are filled with events, and a cultural pressure is placed on young people to get a gold star for perfect attendance. Don’t get me wrong. I am not against youth ministry. I think it is a great tool for building faith in young people.
The post 7 Things Youth Need From Their Parents So They Won’t Abandon God appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
You hear it all the time.
I’m done with church.
I don’t really need to go to church … my relationship with God is personal.
I’ve had it with organized religion.
The church is a man-made invention, not God’s idea.
I completely understand why a growing number of people are bailing on church. Even people who used to lead in the church often stop attending (here are nine reasons why church leaders do that).
We’ve spent a lot of time working through the issue of declining church attendance (and growing disillusionment with the church) on this blog and in my leadership podcast. (For a summary of the issues, here’s a piece on the 10 reasons even committed church attenders are attending church less often).
I get it.
The church is far from perfect. Life is complex. There are growing options. And the post-modern mind distrusts most things organized or institutional.
But as trendy as the idea of writing off the church may be, it’s a mistake.
While writing off the church passes as sophisticated thinking, it’s actually the opposite; what if it’s a simplistic and even reductionist line of thinking that leads nowhere constructive?
The church isn’t even biblical, is it?
People argue the idea of church isn’t even biblical.
So let’s start with the basics.
First, if you’re a Christian, church is not something you go to. It’s something you are.
You can’t disassociate from church as a Christian any more than you can disassociate from humanity as a person.
You don’t go to church. You are the church.
Second, the church was not a human invention. Half-reading the New Testament with one eye closed will still lead you to the inescapable conclusion that the church was God’s idea.
In fact, most of the New Testament is not about the teachings of Jesus. It’s about the work of the church that Jesus initiated and ordained. I won’t fill this post with scripture verses that prove my point, because, quite frankly, you’d have to get rid of the majority of the New Testament to argue that the church was a parenthetical, made-up organization.
If you want to get rid of the church, you also need to get rid of Jesus.
You can’t have one without the other. He created it.
Maybe what bothers you should actually amaze you.
I understand that the idea of the church being imperfect makes some people despair.
But rather than making us despair, the fact that Jesus started the church with imperfect people should make us marvel at God’s incredible grace.
That God would use ordinary, broken human beings as vessels of his grace, and delight in it is awe-inspiring. He’s proud of how his grace is beating through your imperfect-but-redeemed life and through the church (have you ever read Ephesians 3:10-11?).
The idea that God would use you and me is pretty amazing. He had other options.
The post A Response to Christians Who Are Done With Church appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
Reformation Day is fast upon us. Next Saturday will be the 498th anniversary of Martin Luther famously nailing his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, and kick-starting the Protestant Reformation as a result. Because of that, there will likely be many posts in the Christian blogosphere celebrating the recovery of the biblical Gospel from the perversions of Roman Catholic theology. And because of that, there will likely be many Romanist sympathizers who chide us Protestants as divisive, overly-narrow, unity-destroying, and judgmental. They’ll say something like this (a comment we’ve received before at The Cripplegate):
This is what drives me nutty about Christianity. We all believe in the Bible, Jesus Christ, the road to salvation and the Resurrection. Do I believe exactly as you do? I’m sure I don’t, but I don’t believe you’re any less Christian than I am. We need to understand that there’s more that unites us than divides us.
The problem, of course, is that Protestants and Catholics don’t all believe the same things about the most foundational aspects of the Christian Gospel. That means that we’re not just other Christians from another “denomination.” When two people disagree on issues as fundamental as the basis and instrument of salvation (i.e., Christ’s righteousness alone imputed through faith alone, versus Christ’s righteousness imparted through faith and our works) and whether good works are part of the ground of our righteousness or merely the evidence——one of them is a Christian and the other isn’t.
We see that proven plainly by the way the Apostle Paul spoke about the Judaizers. The Judaizers were professing Christians who “began teaching the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved’” (Acts 15:1). In other words, they taught that the righteousness of Christ received by faith alone is not enough to secure your salvation. To be sure, you need to have faith in Jesus; they wouldn’t deny faith in Christ is necessary for salvation. They would just say it was insufficient; instead, you must “complete” your justification by performing certain good deeds. In other words, the Judaizers sought to add personal works of righteousness to the ground of their justification. They were the first-century counterpart to the Roman Catholic Church, which teaches, “If anyone says that the [justification] received is not preserved and . . . increased before God through good works but that those works are merely the fruits and signs of justification obtained, but not the cause of the increase, let him be anathema” (Council of Trent, Session 6, Canon 24). For the Judaizers, those works were circumcision and the other Mosaic ceremonies. For the Catholics, those works are baptism, participation in the Eucharist, and the other sacraments.
Severed from Christ
But notice how Paul speaks of these teachers in the New Testament. He does not count them to be merely misled brothers in Christ. The churches of Galatia hadn’t even become propagators of this doctrine yet; Paul wrote to them while they were simply being tempted to believe in it. And even then Paul writes to them and says, “I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain” (Gal 4:11). That is to say, he fears they may not have ever been truly saved (cf. 1 John 2:19).
He goes on to say that if they receive circumcision—that is, if they allow even the smallest of religious rituals to become part of the ground of their confidence for salvation—“Christ will be of no benefit to you” (Gal 5:2). Notice, he does not say, “Christ will be of some benefit to you, just not as much as otherwise. You’ll differ a little doctrinally, but we can still rejoice in our unity.” No. Paul says that everyone who receives circumcision as a ground of their righteousness is obligated to keep the whole law (Gal 5:3). In other words, if you want your righteousness to be based even partly on works, you’re under obligation to earn the whole thing by works (cf. Jas 2:10). And in that case, since you would then be seeking to be justified by law, it would be right to speak of you as “severed from Christ, . . . fallen from grace” (Gal 5:4). You would be one of those whom the Apostle John said “went out from us, but . . . were not really of us” (1 John 2:19).
Finally, Paul speaks about those who preach such a soul-destroying false-gospel. His conclusion regarding such a teacher is: “he will bear his judgment” (Gal 5:10). Again, this is not merely an estranged brother. He is not one of Christ’s sheep, just from another fold. He will bear his judgment. He will face the condemnation of Almighty God that no true believer can ever face (cf. Rom 8:1).
Beware the Dogs
Moving from Galatia to Philippi, Paul warns with the greatest severity the Philippians who were vulnerable to this teaching. He does not say, “My Philippians, do be careful of our dear misguided brethren.” No, he says, “Beware of the dogs! Beware of the evil workers! Beware of the mutilators of the flesh!” (Phil 3:2). Paul wasn’t exactly helping the advance of ecumenical dialog, was he?
They are dogs. And the Jews especially hated dogs. Because they were willing to eat anything, including garbage and even their own vomit, dogs were regarded as ceremonially unclean animals (cf. Matt 7:6; Luke 16:21; Rev 22:15). In biting irony, Paul uses the very term that the Judaizers would have flung at Christians who didn’t submit to the Mosaic Law—the very derogatory term that signified viciousness, uncleanness, and impurity—and uses it of them!
They are evil workers. In many instances in the New Testament, “workers” refers to servants of Christ who share in the Christian ministry (Rom 16:3; Phil 4:3; Phm 1:24). And the Judaizers were workers all right. Like the Pharisees, they traveled around on sea and land to make a proselyte (Matt 23:15). But when they made one, they’d make him twice as much a son of hell as themselves, because their doctrine of human achievement undermined the Gospel of the sufficient work of Christ and the free grace of God. They were workers, but they were evil workers. Perhaps even with good intentions, in seeking to help the Church, they do nothing but ruin and destroy it, because they draw attention away from Christ and the sufficiency of His accomplished redemption, and give His glory to a law that was never able to impart life (cf. Gal 3:21)—to man and his own dignity and willpower. And so all of their labors, are evil labors.
And that goes just the same for the Roman Catholic who would persuade you to trust even partly in your own merit for justification before God. It doesn’t matter how much of a practical benefit they might be. They may feed the hungry, they may shelter the homeless, they may care for the orphans, they may preserve the environment, and they may devote their entire lives to making this world a better place. But if they trust in their good works to satisfy the wrath of God against them—and if they teach others to rest on their own moral achievements to admit them into the presence of a holy God—they are evil workers. Because they dull men’s senses to their need for divine grace, and lead them to believe that they can be their own savior, when they can do no such thing.
Not only are they dogs. Not only are they evil workers. With the most serrated sarcasm, Paul calls them “the mutilation.” This is just an amazing play on words. The Greek word for “circumcision” is peritome, and the word for “mutilation” is katatome (the word used here). In effect, Paul is saying, “These false teachers think they are of the party of the circumcision. But because they undermine the grace of God in the Gospel by mingling human works with Christ’s righteousness, their sacramentalism is nothing more than katatome—than ritual pagan mutilation. They call themselves the circumcision. They’re no better than pagans.”
Because the Judaizers trusted in their circumcision and added that work to the work of Christ in the Gospel, that which would have been the surest sign they were God’s people became the surest sign that they were cut off from Him. “But Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. . . . For not knowing about God’s righteousness and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (Rom 9:30–10:4).
“Be More Like Jesus!”
How many professing Christians would take Paul to task over his language. “Paul, good grief! Dogs? Evil workers? Mutilators? Take it easy! These people believe in the inerrancy of Scripture! Old and New Testaments! They believe in Christ, that He was God and man, that He was sinless, that He died for sins and rose from the grave, and that salvation is to be found in no other name! Now sure, they may have some doctrinal issues, but how can you be so divisive over such a minor point of doctrine?! Paul, we need to be more like the Lord Jesus!”
And in fact, that’s exactly what Paul was doing. He was following in the footsteps of His Lord, who called these legalists ravenous wolves (Matt 7:15), whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness (Matt 23:27), and blind guides of the blind (Matt 15:14). Gentle Jesus, meek and mild, called those who would lay upon men’s shoulders the burden of contributing even in part to their own justification “sons of hell” (Matt 23:15).
Christ Will Do Everything, or He Will Do Nothing
Why would our Lord speak so severely? Because the gospel of “Christ-plus”—the gospel of faith in Christ mingled with human effort and human merit—is a soul-destroying doctrine of demons (1 Tim 4:1). Like Paul’s disagreement with the Judaizers, the disagreement between Protestants and Catholics is not some minor doctrinal quibble; it is the difference between heaven and hell. Dear friends, ours is a Gospel-driven protest. We speak so severely because the very Gospel is at stake.
J. Gresham Machen said,
“It [is] the difference between a religion of merit and a religion of grace. If Christ provides only a part of our salvation, leaving us to provide the rest, then we are still hopeless under the load of sin. For no matter how small the gap which must be bridged before salvation can be attained, the awakened conscience sees clearly that our wretched attempt at goodness is insufficient even to bridge that gap. . . . Such an attempt to piece out the work of Christ by our own merit, Paul saw clearly, is the very essence of unbelief; Christ will do everything or nothing, and the only hope is to throw ourselves unreservedly on His mercy and trust Him for all” (Christianity and Liberalism, 21).
Christ will do everything, or He will do nothing. Why? Because if salvation “is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Rom 11:6). To introduce works as any part of the ground of our righteousness is to corrupt the Gospel of grace, which is the only Gospel that saves.
Repent and Trust in Christ Alone
So, while I understand that we’re not saved merely by confessing the doctrine of sola fide, we are saved by trusting in Christ alone for righteousness. And that is incompatible with outright denying sola fide and insisting that salvation is grounded at least partly by works, as Rome does. Insisting that the Reformation is not over is not Catholic-bashing. It is simply seeking a biblical view of the divide between us, so that we might be properly informed about the necessity of taking the Gospel to our Roman Catholic friends and family. If we are wrongfully lulled into the notion that Catholics are merely misguided but nevertheless true Christians, then our focus will shift from our necessary mission, which is a full-scale rescue from the sin that still holds them in bondage.
I ask you: Can we regard these things so lightly when it is so plain that the Apostle Paul took them so seriously? Can we relegate the difference between (a) good works as the evidence of salvation and (b) good works as the ground of salvation to a petty doctrinal quibble among people who are overly-narrow and academic, when the Apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, could write so severely? Friends: words, ideas, and doctrines are the difference between an eternity in heaven—with fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore at the right hand of God (Ps 16:11)—and an eternity in hell, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power (2 Thess 1:9).
If you’re reading this and you’re not absolutely sure which eternity you’re headed for, I want to you to be sure today. And so I would point you away from yourself and the filthy rags of your own righteousness (cf. Isa 64:6). Put the filth of your own good works away. Turn to a perfectly sufficient Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who accomplished all the good works necessary for your acceptance with the Father, who counts you to be righteous—just as if you had lived the perfect sinless life of Jesus—when you trust in His righteousness and His righteousness alone for salvation. Turn from the sinking sand and perennial uncertainty of your own moral accomplishments, and set your feet upon the rock of the perfect righteousness of Christ that is yours through faith alone.
Christ will do everything, or He will do nothing. Your only hope is to throw yourself at His mercy and trust Him for all.
On today’s episode, we discuss a recent post on senior adult churches who are wanting to reach a younger generation and the consequences of not being willing to change to do so.
Some highlights from today’s episode include:
- True power in a church comes from God through the prayers of His people.
- Any successful ministry in a church begins with the power of prayer.
- Two areas in which churches often lack intentionality: evangelism and prayer.
- Churches who are reaching young adults have seniors who are intentionally making relationships with younger Christians.
- If you expect young families to come to your church, your children’s area needs to be ready before they come.
- Unfortunately, when faced with a life or death choice, most churches end up choosing death over change and life.
The five ways churches comprised mostly of senior adults can reach younger members are:
- Praying for younger people to come to the church.
- Being willing to change.
- Expanding their social circles to younger people.
- Starting Bible studies with younger adults.
- Asking younger adults to be “missionaries” to the older-adult congregation.
The post Transitioning a Senior Adult Church to One Who Reaches all Generations – Rainer on Leadership #168 appeared first on ThomRainer.com.
Fox News Contributor Kirsten Powers Exits Evangelicalism to Embrace Catholicism – Timothy Keller & Other Evangelical Leaders Partly to Blame
By L. Putnam Kirsten Powers, Fox News’ pundit, happily announced on October 9, 2015 to “The Five” on “One More Thing” that the next day she would become Catholic. Immediately, Powers was “high fived” by Kimberly Guilfoyle, and Eric Bolling. Exactly why was this announcement so news worthy? Well, for starters Kirsten, once an Episcopalian and later […]
The post Fox News Contributor Kirsten Powers Exits Evangelicalism to Embrace Catholicism – Timothy Keller & Other Evangelical Leaders Partly to Blame appeared first on lighthouse trails research.
The “problem of evil” is often cited by unbelievers when they explain their disbelief: How could an all-powerful, all-loving God allow His created children to experience pain and suffering? In my latest book, God’s Crime Scene, I examine the problem of evil as one of eight pieces of evidence in the universe. Evil is often cited as a form of exculpating evidence, eliminating the reasonable inference of God’s existence. An ancient form of the problem is sometimes attributed to Epicurus:
“Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
If the morally benevolent, all-powerful, Divine Creator of the universe I describe in God’s Crime Scene does indeed exist, how are we to explain the existence of evil? My experience as a homicide detective taught me a lot about how difficult it is to explain any act of evil. When trying to explain the manner in which a crime occurs (or when trying to make a case for the involvement of a particular suspect), we must always be prepared to explain and illustrate the cumulative, complex, interconnected causal factors involved. There are no easy answers. The truth is always more complicated than we would like.
In a similar way, whatever explanation there may be for the presence of evil and injustice in the world, it will certainly involve a cumulative, complex set of explanations and causal factors. There will be no easy answer. Instead, we should expect a tangled web of complexity. In God’s Crime Scene, I offer a seven part template to illustrate the important considerations that must be taken into account when trying to explain any act of evil. One of these is simply our definition of “love”:
Illustrations from God’s Crime Scene
What precisely does it mean to be “all-loving”, particularly when we apply this definition to the Divine Creator of the universe? Popular cultural definitions of “love” typically refer to “kindness,” “gentleness,” “adoration,” or “affection.” But if you’re a parent, you know love is much more than this. There are times when kindness and tenderness are appropriate expressions of love, and there are times when love demands stern discipline, correction, and guidance. Good parents learn to embrace a fuller, richer, more complex definition of love.
If our concept of love, when applied to the Creator of the universe, is limited to gentleness and tenderness, we will likely have difficulty reconciling the existence of a Divine Creator with the presence of nearly any hardship we experience. No one likes to experience “tough love”; we much prefer to experience love in its more hedonistic, self-serving forms. As C. S. Lewis so aptly observed, “We want, in fact, not so much a Father in heaven as a grandfather in heaven—a senile benevolence who, as they say, ‘liked to see young people enjoying themselves,’ and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be truly said at the end of each day, ‘a good time was had by all.’”
But there’s a difference between the love of a parent and the love of a grandparent. Parents must embrace a more balanced approach with their children if they truly love them. If the loving nature of the Divine Creator is as broad and all-encompassing as that of a parent, we should expect some difficult circumstances to be an evidence of the Creator’s love, especially if a greater good is achieved as a result of temporal suffering. Parents often discipline their children to accomplish an important goal, but our children usually fail to see our efforts as loving.
Love, in its truest sense, however, is concerned with more than our immediate happiness and pleasure. Love aims for something more lasting. The love of an eternal Creator would seek something beyond our temporal happiness, even though we may fail to see our circumstances as an expression of this love. C.S. Lewis puts it this way: “The problem of reconciling human suffering with the existence of a God who loves, is only insoluble so long as we attach a trivial meaning to the word ‘love’, and look on things as if man were the centre of them. Man is no not the centre. God does not exist for the sake of man. Man does not exist for his own sake.”
Any effort to explain a particular act of evil must take into account an appropriate definition of “love” along with an accurate view of eternity, a proper reverence for free agency, and an understanding of the role of evil in character development and its power to draw us to God. We must also remember our own accountability in acts of evil and our limited understanding of what God might be doing given His omniscience. That’s a lot to consider; explaining the problem of evil is a problem of its own, given the complexity of the answer. That shouldn’t surprise us, it’s the nature of all my homicide cases. A murder occurs in a moment, the explanation will take weeks in front of a jury.
To better understand the interconnected relationship between the seven considerations for evil I’ve mentioned, please refer to God’s Crime Scene, Chapter Eight – The Evidence of Evil: Can God and Evil Coexist?
J. Warner Wallace is a Cold-Case Detective, a Christian Case Maker, and the author of Cold-Case Christianity and God’s Crime Scene.
- Within driving distance of Pittsburgh and looking for something to do this weekend? Then you should attend this conference.
- It’s always refreshing to see justice in situations like this.
- Head to Britain if you’re looking for a white Christmas this year.
- This is your weekly dose of adorable (speaking of being tired).
- Enjoy a free download from Pastor Mike Abendroth’s new book.
- Sigh. I don’t envy parents today at all.
- A new episode of Simon’s Cat is out!
- Here’s a little conviction for you the next time you find yourself grumbling or complaining.
- This sermon may be directed at parents, but there are lessons and some conviction in there for all of us.
- And here is Part 2 of Mike Abendroth’s sobering message on the truth about Hell.
- Preparing for spiritual war:
A Marriage Leaning on Jesus and Longing for Heaven | Desiring God
A short update on Ian and Larissa. See Kindle book offer below.
Why the Race Conversation Is So Hard | 9Marks
Jonathan Leeman highlights a number of political and spiritual difficulties with discussing race issues.
The Sgt. Schultz generation | World Magazine: Marvin Olasky
“We’re certainly not the greatest generation. We’re not even a pretty good generation. We’re the Sgt. Schultz generation.”
Helicopter parents are not the only problem. Colleges coddle students, too. | The Washington Post
“In the past decade, college campuses have turned into one big danger-free zone, where students live in a bubble and are asked to take few, if any, risks in their education.”
The Best Colleges for Low Income Students | Lifehacker
“College is an insanely expensive endeavor, and for low income students there are all kinds of factors to consider. Priceonomics crunched some numbers to attempt to come up with the best schools for low income students.”
Insomnia – The Non-Sleeping Giant | The Aquila Report
“All of a sudden, out of the blue, as if the Lord needed to teach me to be more humble and compassionate with others, I found that I had insomnia.”
Gospel Conversation in an Age of Texting, Tweeting, and Distraction | Randy Newman
“I expected a revolt. Instead, I got gratitude. I anticipated accusations of being a crotchety old man, but students told me they felt a sense of relief. I had just announced my decision to no longer allow computers or cell phones (or other tools of technology) in my classroom. ”
Recommended Resources from ACBC on Homosexuality | Biblical Counseling Coalition Blogs
Recommended New Book
A History of Western Philosophy and Theology by John Frame. So glad for this book, especially as I’ve been using older books of a similar nature for the past six months. A modern cataloging and analysis is most welcome.
Eight Twenty Eight: When Love Didn’t Give Up by Ian and Larissa Murphy $2.99.
Unlimited Memory: How to Use Advanced Learning Strategies to Learn Faster, Remember More and be More Productive by memory world champion Kevin Horsley $4.99. Worth a try! It’s fascinating even to see the potential of the human mind.
Everyone Communicates, Few Connect: What the Most Effective People Do Differently by John Maxwell $3.99.
For education not edification. If you want to know where our culture is at regarding that most important of influences – motherhood – have a look at this video. You’ll weep when one mom describes her desire to raise a gender-neutral child. What’s so painful is to see this being equated with the “evil” of judging someone for not breastfeeding.
It’s hard for us singles to believe, but marriage doesn’t magically change you. Philip Holmes writes more about this at Desiring God.
I hope these biblical reminders will wash over weary hearts and bring fresh strength to faithfully press on.
Tim Challies is always a good resource for new books.
“My fourth-grade daughter plays with a boy next door named Jeremy. Next year he will return to school as Jenny. What do I tell my daughter?” Dannah Gresh helps us think through these inevitable questions.
This article was good food for thought, especially in a day and age when we try to fight off boredom with all of our technology.
What makes you think you will be a Christian tomorrow morning? In 15 minutes, John Piper builds a foundation for the perseverance of your faith through all the world’s temptations and all of life’s trails. Your faith will not fail because God holds your faith and is utterly committed to keeping you.
Kindle deals for Christian readers
One year ago this month — October 3, to be specific — I took to the pulpit of Middletown Springs Community Church and announced my resignation. Over the last 12 months, have shared some reflections on that time, primarily in a well-received post I titled The Gospel for Ministry Quitters, which resonated with folks far more than I anticipated, but I’ve never shared my actual resignation letter. I know there are readers who are interested in such things — I’d be one of them, honestly — so I thought I’d share it with you. Below is the announcement I read — or, rather, sobbed through — before preaching a long-beforehand-scheduled sermon on 1 Corinthians 3:1-9. The Lord has a very remarkable sense of humor.
Andy Naselli follows up on his earlier post (which I shared yesterday) with a plan for Bible memorization.
Marty and Doc meet Jimmy Kimmel
This was actually pretty funny:
HT: Denny Burk
The gospel tells us that no one is beyond the reach of God’s redemption. To be sure, the sin of perpetrators of sexual violence needs to be taken seriously. We cannot ignore sexual violence when it arises in our communities. We should acknowledge these tragedies for what they are, and address them appropriately. If a member of a church confesses a crime like rape, for instance, it will need to be reported to the police immediately. But we also need to proclaim to them the message of God’s forgiveness, knowing that God calls us to extend his grace to people taking big risks in confessing their sin. And we are wise to realize that even severe consequences of sin are opportunities to experience God’s grace and redemption (Heb. 12:7–11). God disciplines his children and uses human judgment as a part of his care for them.
While self-condemnation might come off as holy in our churchified contexts, the truth is that self-condemnation is more than a bad character trait; it’s sin in and of itself. There is a subtle but unmistakable pride that comes when we accuse ourselves.
R. Lucas Stamps:
But in my relatively young ministry, I have also developed deeply meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with senior adults. At several different stops in my ministry, I have had the blessing to minister to and receive ministry from seasoned Christian laypeople. It’s difficult to express in words what these relationships have meant to me and my family, but I offer below a few lessons learned in senior adult ministry.
Today I am heading home from Germany—a process that will consume 15 hours or so. Thanks to all who prayed for me. It was a sweet time of teaching and fellowship and I leave here having made several new friends. I hope to tell you more about it in the near future.
WORLD magazine interviews Albert Mohler on what we can learn from two unorthodox sources about responding to crises of faith.
Donald Whitney gives an interesting report on the dedication of the new C.H. Spurgeon Library at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO.
I appreciate Mark Cortez’s comments on this subject: “In my theology classes, we often find ourselves wrestling with questions about which the Bible has relatively little to say. And students always wonder if that means these issues aren’t that important. If the Bible doesn’t have much to say about it, should we?”
Oh, shoot. I’m guilty as charged. “How do we know if our routines are an idol? The ways we respond to interruptions in our routines are a good indicator. If we have a strong emotional reaction or resistance to the disruption of our routines, it should give us pause to stop and consider whether our routines have turned from a good thing to a counterfeit god.”
John Piper posts a public response to a note he received.
This Day in 877. Ignatius, patriarch of Constantinople, died 1,138 years ago today. *
I haven’t had time to listen to it yet, but I’ve heard really good things about this lecture by Carl Trueman.
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
Hallows’ Eve: Betrayal of the Martyrs & Betrayal of Christ – “In just over a week, Americans will be participating in the fourth most popular holiday, Halloween. Of course, the holiday didn’t always mean ‘trick or treating,’ costumes, and children intoxicated with candy. We’ve come quite far from the original intent of the holiday (what holiday hasn’t?), which, in name, calls to remembrance the many saints who have been martyred for the cause of Christ (hallow’d + eve = Halloween). That’s why in my last post, I encouraged you to remember the martyrs in order that you may be encouraged by them and be strengthened by their faith on the holiday that originally intended to encourage us to do that very thing.”
Our Decomposing Lusts – “So J.R. Daniel Kirk has decided to go the inclusive route for all his ‘LGBTQ sisters, brothers, and others.’ Get that? And ‘others,’ to be announced later, in whatever order the imperious kultursmog may decide. Kirk is a professor of New Testament at Fuller — a seminary which is now just a few short steps away from the apogee of irrelevance, at which point we may start calling them Fullest. They are almost at Gnostic pleroma levels already, so it will be exciting to see that particular hermeneutical hot air balloon finally take off. I expect it to get to 10,000 feet before disappearing through the aperture of sexual correctness. And please read this paragraph in light of the update above.”
Covenant Theology vs Dispensational Theology – A interesting document by Fred Butler discussing the two theologies.
The Other Side of Church Discipline – “For those who are unfamiliar, church discipline is a process in which a person who claims to be a disciple of Jesus but is engaging in continued, unrepentant sin is confronted humbly and lovingly by another believer, then a few believers, and ultimately a pastor of his church. If the person still refuses to repent of his sin even after being shown his fault using the Scriptures, the church has the responsibility to renounce publicly this person’s membership in that local congregation. The members of that congregation are encouraged to treat him, not as a brother, but as they would treat an outsider, with respect and dignity but not brotherly affection.”
Semper Reformanda: Christ Will Do Everything, or He Will Do Nothing – “Reformation Day is fast upon us. Next Saturday will be the 498th anniversary of Martin Luther famously nailing his 95 Theses to the Castle Church door in Wittenberg, Germany, and kick-starting the Protestant Reformation as a result. Because of that, there will likely be many posts in the Christian blogosphere celebrating the recovery of the biblical Gospel from the perversions of Roman Catholic theology. And because of that, there will likely be many Romanist sympathizers who chide us Protestants as divisive, overly-narrow, unity-destroying, and judgmental. They’ll say something like this (a comment we’ve received before at The Cripplegate)…”
Matt Chandler – The Apostles’ Creed (Part 1) | I Believe In
A Part of Me Thinks They Don’t Have a Choice
Sexual Fidelity: No Compromise
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
The post The Daily Discovery (October 23, 2015) appeared first on Entreating Favor.
Christian Headlines Daily – Friday, October 23, 2015
UN Body Helping Palestinians Lay Claim to Religious Sites and Rewrite Biblical History
Six Churches in St. Louis Set on Fire within 2 Weeks
Al Mohler: Contraceptives and Divorce Paved the Way for Same-sex Marriage
Paul Ryan Gains Support of Key Conservative Caucus for Speaker Run
Christian Drummer Shot Dead by Policeman after His Car Broke Down on the Interstate
Naghmeh Abedini under Fire for Commitment to Christian Faith
What CNN Isn’t Telling Us about the Planned Parenthood Story
Air Force Commander’s Office under Fire for Sending Email in Support of Operation Christmas Child
Fathers of Kidnapped Chibok Schoolgirls Say the Girls are ‘in the Hands of God’
Israeli Cafe Offers Discount to Jews and Arabs Who Dine Together
Athletes and Spiritual Legacy: Faith Passed Down Through the Generations
Why is ‘Star Wars’ so Uniquely Popular?
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
READING: John 7-8
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: When Jesus challenged the Jews to follow Him, they claimed their bloodline to Abraham as assurance of their “rightness” before God. Jesus not only shot down their claims, but He did so with absolute clarity: “Why don’t you understand what I say? Because you cannot listen to My word. You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires” (John 8:42-44).
Further, Jesus re-emphasized the relationship between genuine salvation and hearing/following His word: “The one who is from God listens to God’s words. This is why you don’t listen, because you are not from God” (Matt. 8:47). I don’t know how to read these words in any other way than Jesus stated them: genuine believers hear and do God’s words; those who not follow God’s words are not God’s. This conclusion that those who don’t listen aren’t God’s followers is, as one writer said, “deadly in its grip.”* If I don’t listen and follow God’s Word, I have reason to question my salvation.
As I have read through the scriptures this year, I simply can’t get away from a holy God who expects His people to be holy. It feels as if every word I read reverberates with a call to godly living — a trumpet blast that cannot easily be ignored. If I claim to be a follower of Jesus, my life (that is, every thought I have, every word I speak, every action I take) must be an undeniable illustration of His holiness.
ACTION STEPS: My plan today is to ask God to point out to me any area of my life that is less than holy. I suspect this day will be a long one . . . but a needed one.
PRAYER: “God, start the cleansing process right now. Show me any place where my life doesn’t show that I’m Yours. Pound my heart until I hear You if I choose to be hard of hearing.”
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
CanIKnowGod.com is a website inspired by LifesGreatestQuestion.com, with new content, images, audio and video that will help you understand more about who God is and how to know Him. The site is mobile responsive and has an infinite scroll which makes for a very user-friendly experience. After you indicate a decision on CanIKnowGod.com, you are directed to a page that details what it means to have a new and transformed life through Jesus Christ. There’s even a Facebook page for daily updates, encouragement and scripture sharing.
Look to Jesus
Have you ever felt a little lost and wished there was a quick-start guide to your relationship with God? This is it!
30 Day Next Steps
John Beckett, a leading Christian businessman, has written a series to read over 30 days for new believers.
New Believers Guide
The New Believer’s Guide is a series of articles designed to show you how to walk in the new life Christ has given you— a life of faith and freedom.
Jesus is the Savior of the world. Discover who Jesus is today in this series.
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed
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