October 31-November 1, 2015 Christian Briefing Report


What Is Reformation Day?

“Martin Luther, a scholar, took quill in hand, dipped it in his inkwell and penned his 95 Theses on October 31, 1517. These were intended to spark a debate, to stir some soul-searching among his fellow brothers in the church.”

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When Luther Shook Up Christianity

acquiring national identities: Germany, France, Spain, Portugal and England. Because the church was the largest landowner in Europe, rulers could seldom avoid a papal dispute over revenue. Luther escaped the hangman’s noose in part because he won the backing of a German prince fed up with Rome. But most important, Luther succeeded because he tapped into the root of revolutionary change: the human desire to know God.

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Four Warning Signs You’re Approaching Burnout

When I sense these reappearing in my life, I know it is time to evaluate quickly. I may need to get away for a day, adjust my sleeping, or double-check my eating and exercise routine. I have learned that if I can catch these early, I can address them much more quickly and easily than if I foolishly attempt to push through the approaching burnout. Attempting to push through burnout is poor and stupid self-leadership.

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Eight Life-Changing Things Someone Taught Me

“This are just a few of the small things that have changed me throughout life. If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ve probably heard me talk about one or all of them. I hope even more, though, that you’ve seen me live them.”

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Let’s Be Clear About What Real Christian Persecution Looks Like

“When we start to take on the language of violence—“culture war,” “attacks on values,” “faith under siege”—to describe ideological differences that are actually relatively peaceful in practice, we not only overstate reality. We risk losing perspective on what real persecution looks like.”

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40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years

So much time is wasted on things that just don’t matter:  Life is short and too often is spent pursuing after and worrying about things that don’t matter in the end. I don’t want to live with regrets. I’ve wasted too much time already. You too? Let’s seek to glorify God in what we do with our time that remains.

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Reformation Reminders: Rome & Her Desecration of Christ

Scripture could not be more clear on the adequacy and finality of Christ’s atoning work. Yet, in every mass, Rome asserts that Christ, cannot really be seated anywhere in heaven, but is ready, waiting, and being summoned back down for additional sacrifice to atone for sin. On this teaching alone Rome renders herself a desecration to Jesus Christ. Furthermore, if anyone calls Rome’s mass into question, he is declared anathema

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The Sexual Revolution, Entertainment, and Christian Art

Those are stories worth telling, and the only thing stopping Christians from telling them is a reductionist view of what Christian art can and should be. It is a brave new entertainment world; making art that goes against the flow of the sexual revolution requires bravery. But, on the other hand, the darkness of the current backdrop makes the truth shine all the more brightly.  

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Tips For Being a False Teacher

There is absolutely nothing worse than some punter with their head in the Bible while you’re trying to tell them what God really says. You’ll find them regularly popping up at the worst moments, quoting parts of the Bible and requesting references. Worse still, when you provide those references (ideally obscure Old Testament passages from the King James Version) they go and look them up! This is one of the most frustrating occurrences you can face.

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Letting The Law In The Back Door of Justification

People still do things like this today, mixing a bit of law with the gospel, mixing works with grace.  They talk about a “lawful gospel” or say that the gospel includes law, or they say that we are justified by faith alone – but define faith as “faithfulness” or “obedient faith.”  These types of statements have been used by advocates of the Federal Vision, which is why historic Reformed/Presbyterian churches have very decisively rejected Federal Vision teaching with a loud and unanimous NO.

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Texas Teen Says Teacher Told Students to Deny God in Assignment or Fail

(CN) — A Texas teen says that her teacher told students this week that they must deny God in their reading class or fail the assignment.

Jordan Wooley, a seventh grade student at West Memorial Junior High School in Katy, spoke before the school board Monday night to tell her story.

Massachusetts ‘United Church of Christ’ Hosts Blasphemous ‘Drag Gospel Festival’

(CN) — A United Church of Christ congregation in Massachusetts recently hosted what it called a “Drag Gospel Festival” in support of the homosexual and transgender members in its assembly.

The First Church of Somerville (FCS) hosted the event October 16-18 both during its Friday night drag show and Sunday morning worship service.

Muslim Men, Children Cut and Whip Their Bodies Bloody for Muhammad’s Grandson

(CN) — A number of Shiite Muslim men and children around the world are in the midst of observing a 10-day Islamic festival in remembrance of Muhammad’s grandson—an event that involves cutting ones head with knives or spears or self-flagellating themselves with chains.

Online photos captured the bloodiness of the Muslim traditions surrounding the Day of Ashura, which marks the death of Husyn ibn Ali approximately 1,300 years ago. He was the son of Fatimah, Muhammad’s daughter, and was beheaded during the Battle of Karbala in 680 A.D.

Pastor Delivers Ten Commandments on Horseback to Oklahoma Capital in Protest of Monument Removal

(CN) — Nearly a dozen Texas Christians rode 100 miles to Oklahoma City this week to deliver a tablet engraved with the Ten Commandments after a Decalogue display was removed from the grounds of the capitol building earlier this month.

“We’re riding for the law of God today,” John Riggs, pastor of the Texoma Cowboy Church in Wichita Falls, told those gathered. “We fully believe that this country was founded upon the principles of God’s word. It breaks our hearts to see where this country is headed and to see the removal of the law of God from our land, from our buildings.”

Other Top News Stories of Interest:

Billy Graham’s Warning to American Churches: ‘Prepare for Persecution’

Evangelist Billy Graham speaks at the dedication of the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina, May 31, 2007.

The Rev. Billy Graham has issued a written warning to America’s churches: “Prepare for persecution.”

The renowned preacher and founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association penned a commentary that was posted on his website last week and is slated to appear in the November edition of Decision magazine.

In the magazine, Graham notes that the American church has been largely unfamiliar with persecution, writing that this “immunity to persecution that Christians in our country have experienced in the past two or three centuries is unusual.”

“As a whole, our nation does not know what privation is. We do not know what sacrifice is. We do not know what suffering is. Suppose persecution were to come to the church in America, as it has come in other countries,” wrote Graham.

“Since we have experienced little religious persecution in this country, it is likely that under pressure many would deny Christ. Those who shout the loudest about their faith may surrender soonest.”

New Muppets 'too toxic for children,' PTC says

New Muppets ‘too toxic for children,’ PTC says

Posted on November 1, 2015 by Christian Telegraph

In a study of &The Muppets,& the Parents Television Council reports that the new TV show includes a preponderance of sexual innuendos and other offensive content not suited for children,

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Letting the government under the church tent

Letting the government under the church tent

Posted on October 31, 2015 by World Magazine

GOVERNMENT | Letting the government get its nose under the church tent

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A theological and journalistic reformation

A theological and journalistic reformation

Posted on October 31, 2015 by World Magazine

HISTORY | Martin Luther’s bold theological stand on Oct. 31, 1517, made independent journalism possible

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Straight-talking Jesus: There's no one-size-fits-all way of evangelism

Straight-talking Jesus: There’s no one-size-fits-all way of evangelism

Posted on October 31, 2015 by Christian Today

Pastor and author Phil Moore is not afraid of plain speaking when it comes to exploring what the Bible says.

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5 Ways for a Church Member to Leave a Church Well

5 Ways for a Church Member to Leave a Church Well

Posted on October 30, 2015 by Church Leaders

“Sometimes people remember how you arrived. They almost always remember how you left.”

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How Should Christians Think About Socialism?

How Should Christians Think About Socialism?

Posted on October 30, 2015 by Church Leaders

“It may be that Bernie Sanders is naming things in our society that need addressing.”

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Christian Football Coach Suspended for Praying After Games Following Complaints from Satanists, Atheist Students

Christian Football Coach Suspended for Praying After Games Following Complaints from Satanists, Atheist Students

Posted on October 30, 2015 by Gospel Herald

A Christian football coach has been suspended from his position at Bremerton High School in Washington State after he refused to stop praying following a Friday night football game that Satanists had threatened to protest.

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ISIS Unleashes Death Squad to Murder Christians In Syria

ISIS Unleashes Death Squad to Murder Christians In Syria

Posted on October 30, 2015 by Gospel Herald

Radical Muslim terror group ISIS/ISIL is reported to have unleashed its death squad to hunt down and murder Christian refugees in Syrian refugee camps, reported Breaking News Israel. The death squad is the latest horrific tactic employed by the Muslim radicals to eliminate Christians in the region and establish a conservative Muslim society.

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Texas Teen Says Teacher Told Students to Deny God in Assignment or Fail

“Today I was given an assignment in school that questioned my faith and told me that God was not real,” she said. “Our teacher had started off saying that the assignment had been giving problems all day. We were asked to take a poll to say whether God is fact, opinion or a myth and she told anyone who said fact or opinion was wrong and God was only a myth.”

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As Darkness Falls – Hal Lindsey

A shadow descends over our world. Spiritual in origin, this deepening darkness attacks human minds and thought. It diminishes, then destroys the ability to see things for what they are. Put simply, it inhibits people from thinking straight.

We see the process described in the 1st chapter of Romans, beginning at verse 18. The words are both historic and prophetic. Romans 1 does not contain a phrase identifying it as a “last days” scripture. Nevertheless, as we will see, it has great prophetic significance.

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We Cannot be Silent – Albert Mohler

We Cannot Be Silent is a book about that revolution, how it happened and what it means for us, for our churches, and for our children. It is important to trace the revolution, and understand that the most heated controversies of our day did not emerge from a vacuum onto the daily headlines. Every revolution has a story, and the story of this revolution is one that we can now trace. To put the truth plainly, this revolution did not start with same-sex marriage, and it will not end there.

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Godlessness is Reaching Epidemic Proportions

Imagine the world with no rules, accountability, or consequences for evil actions? This image is one where people take a life with no remorse. It is a place where life savings are greedily stolen, women and children are abandoned, and even basic respect that was afforded to a mother and father is absent. This place of our worst imaginings is one fraught with lawless, heartless, and treacherous people who are concerned with no one but themselves. That would be a world where the concept of love is foreign, while brutality, slander, and darkness become the norm.

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Luther’s Reformation in a Neat Video

Halloween, Christ, and Culture

As the world around us becomes darker, Christians are supposed to be the light that points people to Jesus Christ and exposes evil in our culture. With rapidly growing immorality in America, why does it seem like the church is conforming to the pattern of this age rather than influencing culture for Christ? Our children […]

The post Halloween, Christ, and Culture appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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

Sounds Good But Smells Bad

A clean environment, equality for women, social justice for all, income distribution. Something stinks.

The post Sounds Good But Smells Bad appeared first on Stand Up For The Truth.

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Sounds-Good-But-Smells-Bad.mp3 21.2 MB

Your Painful Story Brings God Glory

Your Painful Story Brings God GloryWe can all think of an instance where someone revealing their difficult story has touched us. What if they never had told their story? What if you never tell yours?

A good friend, who is a pastor, has a child who is a heroin addict. I’m sure he was tempted to hide his family problems from the church where he worked. He could have withdrawn socially and spiritually from the church and maybe someone would have asked about him, or maybe no one would have noticed as he and his wife drifted into isolation with their secret. But isolation rarely leads to anything good.

When God Doesn’t Fix It

As we all know, telling our personal stories of struggle and pain can be dangerous. Fortunately, this minister realized he wasn’t the only one going through a trial. Parents in his church and community were facing the same issues and needed the same kind of support he did. God used him and his willingness to share his pain to form a confidential support group for parents whose children were involved in destructive lifestyles. He wasn’t shouting his story from a megaphone on a Sunday morning, and he wasn’t doing it in a way that would shame his child. He was privately sharing his suffering with those who needed to hear it most.

In the group, parents of alcoholics and drug abusers came together and prayed for their children in a faith-filled, understanding, and supportive environment. Think of how many families have been helped because they now have a safe place to discuss their struggles! I’m so thankful my friend knew God could redeem his broken story, and he was willing to be a part of redeeming other people’s broken stories.

Imagine how thankful the parents who come to this group are for his willingness to be transparent. He didn’t wait for his story to be resolved or to have a happy ending. He shared his story of struggling with a child he loves dearly but couldn’t help.

Lessons You Never Wanted to Learn

His story reminds me that when God uses our stories to heal others, they don’t have to be finished. They don’t have to be wrapped up into a neat, tidy bow with all the answers before God can use them. He can redeem our stories while they’re still tattered, and we’re still in the brokenness.

I know a lot of people who are in troubled marriages, and they feel as if they have to wait until their marriage situation is resolved before they can talk about it. But more people live in the tension than live in the extremes. When people are willing to share their struggles, they can help others who are living under that same burden.

If you’re like me, the testimonies you find the most inspiring aren’t those that are easy, comfortable, and happy all the way through. It’s the testimonies of those who have struggled deeply and found God faithful even in the midst of their brokenness.

Truths You Can’t Live Without

God can use your story, whatever it is, for the salvation of the nations. I say that, not even knowing what your story is, because that is a principle that comes from the Bible. People hear about the gospel from those who are living out the gospel. They are redeemed when we point them to the Redeemer. They can be saved when those of us who are saved point to the Savior.

What trial is God bringing into your life for the purpose of equipping you to do his work? What trials are you going through right now that God is using to equip you for future ministry?

God wants to use your story for the salvation of the nations. Not because of the greatness of your story but because of the greatness of our God.

What Moral/Social Issues on the Horizon Might Surprise Most Christians?

The post What Moral/Social Issues on the Horizon Might Surprise Most Christians? appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.

Are You Cheating on God? 8 Questions That Reveal Your Heart’s Ultimate Desire

This week, a pastor at a large church in south Florida admitted to an affair. Shortly after the admission, he resigned. It’s a gut-wrenching story. Another leader for Christ forced to resign because of an affair.

Cheating on a spouse is a serious offense. Rightfully so. When a covenant is broken, there are ramifications. But as I read this story, God spurred another question in my mind.

“Frank, are you cheating on me?”


Hey God, nice to talk with you too. Can you not say hey first? Anyway, the question sunk deep into my heart. And I want to ask you the same question.

Are you cheating on God?

You and I are in a relationship with God. A relationship that parallels (and exceeds) the one between a husband and a wife. When Tiffani and I exchanged vows, I knew what I signed up for. From that point forward, she wasn’t competing with other women. She was the only woman. I pledged to remain pure and faithful to one woman … for the rest of my life. That’s heavy.

And if vowing faithfulness to one person is heavy, how much more so with God?

When Moses delivered the Ten Commandments to the Israelites in Exodus 20:2-3, the first commandment was, “You will have no other gods before me.”

When God says, “You shall have no other gods before me,” he is also saying, “Don’t cheat on me. Don’t place anything in front of me. Vow to remain faithful to me.” You get the idea?

God is jealous (Exodus 20:4-5). He relentlessly pursues you because he infinitely loves you. And when anything other than God sits at the apex of your desires, values, worth and identity, destruction is certain. You place a weight on something only God can bear.

So, I want to ask you again … Are you cheating on God? The following eight questions will reveal the ultimate desire of your heart.

1.) What thoughts occupy your mind when you have nothing else to think about?

If you realized how powerful your thoughts were, you would never think a negative thought. Peace Pilgrim

What we think about most determines what we value. And what we think about most is eventually who we become. Thoughts are powerful. Dr. Caroline Leaf, a Christian pathologist, wrote a fascinating book (the book is titled Switch on Your Brain) about the power of thoughts. In the book, she says this: “Nothing happens until you first build the thought … the thought produces words, actions and behavior.”

That’s real.

Your thoughts expose the desires of your mind and heart. So, where does your mind wander when you are alone? Is your mind turned toward God? If God is the love of your life, the ultimate desire of your heart, your mind will gravitate toward him. You will set your mind on the things above. Your desire to know him and grow toward him will increase.

2.) If everything was taken from you and only God was left, would he be enough?

Really, take a moment to consider this question. If you are a follower of Jesus, this is the end goal. You are on a one-way trip to dwell with God. Forever. That’s weighty stuff. And if God is most important, the thought of dwelling with God forever should excite you.

Is God enough? Just being honest, many days I don’t believe he is. I love my stuff. I love my family. I love golf. If all of these were taken from me, I am not sure God would be enough. Unlike Job, I would probably want to curse God and die.

The post Are You Cheating on God? 8 Questions That Reveal Your Heart’s Ultimate Desire appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.

Reformation Day: Jesus Came Knocking

Reformation Day: Jesus Came KnockingSometime around A.D. 95, Jesus, through the apostle John, came metaphorically knocking on the door of the church in Laodicea with an unsurpassed invitation:

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)

Pulled out of its context, this verse can sound like Jesus was calling softly and tenderly. Paintings inspired by this verse tend to portray a gentle Jesus mildly knocking. In reality, he was anything but soft and tender, gentle and mild. This invitation came on the heels of a bracing rebuke and serious warning. Jesus was pounding on the Laodicean’s door with the urgency of emergency:

“I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.” (Revelation 3:15–19)

Jesus was pounding on the door of a church whose trust in an idol put them in grave spiritual danger. Their prosperous tepidness made him want to gag. But because he loved these lukewarm Christians, he lovingly disciplined them with hard words and called them to zealous repentance and reformation.

When Jesus Came Knocking in Wittenberg

On October 31, 1517, Jesus, through a little-known German priest/professor named Martin Luther, came quite literally knocking on the Wittenberg door of the Roman Catholic Church.

Unrestrained corruption of power and wealth was a sin-cancer that had metastasized in the Roman Catholic Church and spread to many of her leaders and, through them, into her doctrines and practices. This cancer was killing the church. She too had grown very prosperous and yet did not realize how wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked she had become. She had not listened sufficiently to Jesus’s authoritative voice in the Scriptures, or to the prophetic voices of warning that he had repeatedly sent to her. The Lord was at the end of his patience.

But because he loved his sin-diseased church whose idolatry put her in grave spiritual danger, he sent an unlikely messenger from an unlikely town — so very like the Lord — with a hard word of loving discipline. Professor Luther walked up to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg with a hammer, a few nails, and a parchment listing 95 stinging indictments against the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike what the Laodiceans received, Luther’s theses were not inerrant Scripture. In fact, later Luther knew a number of them did not go far enough. But still, they were a largely biblical call to zealous repentance, as the first thesis so clearly captures:

When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said, ‘Repent’ (Matthew 4:17), he willed the entire life of believers to be one of repentance.

In the pounding of Martin’s hammer, Jesus came knocking. And his knocking set off a chain-reaction that exploded into the Protestant Reformation, a gospel detonation that is still shaking the world nearly 500 years later.

A Reformation Detonation

As a result of October 31, 1517, hundreds of millions of Christians all over the world have submitted to God’s word as their highest authority (Sola Scriptura) and his teaching that salvation is a gift given by God’s grace alone (Sola Gratia) through the instrument of faith alone (Sola Fide) in the death and resurrection of their one savior and mediator, Jesus Christ (Sola Christus), so that all glory would always redound to the Triune God alone (Sola Deo Gloria).

Wherever the church opened the door to Jesus, repentance and reformation was like chemotherapy to the cancer of spiritual corruption and recovered belief in the gospel of Christ spread spiritual health through much of Europe, then on to the New World, Asia, and Africa. It spawned massive evangelism, church planting, Bible translation, and frontier missions efforts. And in its wake it brought about all manner of social good: stronger families, honest commerce, economic empowerment for the poor, hospitals and clinics for the sick, education for the masses, encouragement for the scientific enterprise, democratic forms of civic government, and on and on.

When we really comprehend the massive floodgate of mercy that was opened to us because Jesus came knocking in Wittenberg, Reformation Day (October 31st) becomes a thanksgiving day — a day for feasting or perhaps for fasting and prayer for another reformation detonation in our lives and churches and nations.

Is Jesus Knocking on Your Door?

In fact, given the prosperity that most of us in the West are experiencing and the arid spiritual climate most of us live in, it may be that the best way we can observe Reformation Day is to do some serious, prayerful soul-searching. Have we allowed a Laodicean type of acedia to settle in? We know that significant portions of the Western church are diseased with various heresies. Do they provoke us to earnest prayer?

And we should ask ourselves, is Jesus knocking — or pounding — on our door? Are we hearing him? Are we ignoring or even resisting him? Are we tolerating and justifying any idols? One clear symptom of idolatry is spiritual lukewarmness. Tepidness typically does not feel like a grave danger. It can feel like a tolerable and even nearly pleasant malaise. But it is deadly. In this state we do not realize how wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked we are.

And because Jesus loves sinful people like us, when we fall into such a state he comes knocking — hard. We often do not recognize it as him at first because he can come in the form of a messenger, sometimes an unlikely one. And the pounding of their hard words can make us defensive and mad.

But let us listen carefully and drop our guard. The hard words are painful, especially to our pride. But Jesus (or his imperfect messenger) is not being mean or condemning us. It is the loving discipline of our Savior to warn us. Lukewarmness means spiritual life-threatening idolatry. The cure is for us to “be zealous and repent” (Revelation 3:19).

If Jesus is knocking on our door, let us welcome him in fully that we may eat with him and he with us (Revelation 3:20). Accepting his unsurpassed invitation to joy through repentance and reformation may be the greatest way to celebrate Reformation Day.

Resources for Reformation Day

Notable Voices: October 31, 2015

3 Ways Social Media Can Help Curb Church Decline — Sam Rainer

I’ll be addressing several points related to church decline in my webinars next week, but in this article Sam points to social media as one step churches can take to turn around declines in church attendance.

Ditch the Preaching “Rules” For Principles  — Erik Reed

Too often, pastors get intertwined in a strict set of rules regarding their preaching. Erik pushes against that preaching trap with some helpful words of advice.

Five Leadership Books You May Not Have Read, But Should — Eric Geiger

Those who lead are those who read, and leaders who are constantly improving are leaders who are constantly reading. In this post, Eric shares five books essential to growing as a leader.

Beware of the Selfie-Preacher — Erik Raymond

Don’t be this preacher. Just say no to selfies…and selfie preachers.

13 Posters to Celebrate Reformation Day — Aaron Earls

Today is Reformation Day as well as Halloween. So here is a little humor for your holiday.

Five Church Trends to Watch for 2016 — Church Answers Live

On this week’s episode of Church Answers Live, I discussed five church trends to look for in 2016. Don’t forget to join us every Thursday at 3:00 PM Eastern for Church Answers Live.


Links I like (weekend edition)

Kindle deals for Christian readers

Today is the last day to get these deals from Crossway:

Also on sale:

Is the Reformation Over?

R.C. Sproul:

Contrary to some of these contemporary assessments of the importance of the doctrine of justification by faith alone, we recall a different perspective by the sixteenth-century magisterial Reformers. Luther made his famous comment that the doctrine of justification by faith alone is the article upon which the church stands or falls. John Calvin added a different metaphor, saying that justification is the hinge upon which everything turns. In the twentieth century, J.I. Packer used a metaphor indicating that justification by faith alone is the “Atlas upon whose shoulder every other doctrine stands.” Later Packer moved away from that strong metaphor and retreated to a much weaker one, saying that justification by faith alone is “the fine print of the gospel.”

Karl Barth, Christ, and the OT

This is long but really interesting.

When God seems unreal

Ray Ortlund:

Sometimes God seems unreal, remote, theoretical. When that is so, there is always a reason. God is in fact real. So are we. That it doesn’t seem so demands an explanation.

Four Things Joy Says

Michael Kelley:

If you’re one of the six people who hasn’t seen Inside Out, this is Joy (by the way, feel free to come back to this post in two hours after you’ve seen the movie. And wept. A lot). The movie takes place inside Riley’s head, and the audience is privy to the personification of emotions like joy, sadness, fear, and disgust. Joy, in the movie, becomes a walking, talking, thinking entity. And it makes me wonder, as a Christian, what she would really say if Joy could talk to us today.

This is an important question because joy is one of those things we tend to confuse with something else. But if joy could talk, maybe she would clear up some of those misconceptions. So what would Joy tell us if she could? I think it would be at least four thing.

Reformation Day: Jesus Came Knocking

Jon Bloom:

Unrestrained corruption of power and wealth was a sin-cancer that had metastasized in the Roman Catholic Church and spread to many of her leaders and, through them, into her doctrines and practices. This cancer was killing the church. She too had grown very prosperous and yet did not realize how wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked she had become. She had not listened sufficiently to Jesus’s authoritative voice in the Scriptures, or to the prophetic voices of warning that he had repeatedly sent to her. The Lord was at the end of his patience.

Weekend A La Carte (October 31)

Here are a few new Kindle deals: The Betrayal by Douglas Bond ($0.99); Recovering the Reformed Confession by R. Scott Clark ($0.99); Tributes to John Calvin by David Hall ($1.99); Martin Luther by Stephen Nichols ($1.99); The Deity of Christ by Christopher Morgan & Robert Peterson ($4.61).

Is the Reformation Over?

If you know much about R.C. Sproul, you’ll be able to anticipate his answer to this question. His final paragraph is pure gold. I predict that as we come to the 500th anniversary of 1517, we will find a resurgence of people disagreeing with him.

An FAQ on Mysticism

Justin Taylor posted a very, very helpful FAQ on mysticism. He defines mysticism, provides historical examples, and then shows both the similarities and differences with biblical spirituality.

Daylight Savings Time

Here are the realities and myths of daylight savings time.

Absurd Creature of the Week

Here’s a bizarre and beautiful creature. “These are the rare dalcerids, also known as the jewel caterpillars, creatures of such beauty that you might just want to wrap one in a gold chain and hang it around your neck.”

This Day in 1517. At age 31, German Augustinian monk Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenberg—which sparked the Protestant Reformation! *

The Refugees’ Journey Through Europe

What a sad, sad situation as refugees pour into Europe.

Reformed Presbyterian Theological Journal

Thanks to RPTS for sponsoring the blog this week with news of their new (free) journal. This blog depends upon sponsors to cover the various costs involved, so I am grateful to each one of them.

Why I’m Not a Christian

Cameron Fathauer was one of my summer interns this year (who, after the summer, was involved in a terrible accident). He has been released from hospital and today is leading an event meant to answer tough questions about Christianity. He invites you to participate via livestream.

This ‘n’ That

  • The five fruits of Calvinism.
  • This would’ve come in handy back in college.
  • I cannot vouch for the resources and links provided in this article, but I do think the points are well taken.
  • I really wish I could have taken Martin Luther cookies to the office today. It would have been a nice contrast to grown adults in Halloween costumes.
  • The Master’s Seminary has a good article on the fire that fueled the Reformation.
  • And while we’re on a Reformation streak, I highly recommend this biography of William Farel. I read it several years ago and could not put it down.
  • In honor of yesterday being National Cat Day, here is your weekly dose of adorable.
  • Stay away from Hillsong. All things Hillsong. Even if the lyrics to a song seem orthodox or harmless, just stay away lest you lead some less discerning Christian down a deceptive path. Says Al Mohler of this movement, “What has made Hillsong distinctive is a minimization of the actual content of the Gospel, and a far more diffuse presentation of spirituality.”
  • Have you read J.C. Ryle’s Holiness? You should.
  • Using these words incorrectly may make you look kinda silly.
  • What is the first step down for any church?
  • Helpful stuff from Pastor Tom Chantry.
  • When you’re weary with sin:

photo credit: Candy Corn via photopin (license)

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

Video of the Week

Why Abortion Is Unjust Discrimination, Stand to Reason. The dreaded “a-word.” It’s a topic that’s quickly becoming one of the most charged issues in our society…again. In 1973, when Roe v. Wade legalized elective abortion, some might have thought the discussion would be laid to rest. But it’s never been more in the public’s eye than today. This helpful animated video gets at the heart of the pro-choice position, and offers a handy mnemonic (SLED) to remember how we can defend the “small, vulnerable, and defenseless persons who can’t stand up for themselves.”

Articles of the Week

What To Do When Bible Reading Gets Boring, David Murray. The Bible isn’t a boring book. But sooner or later, regardless of your zeal for Scripture, it’s going to feel boring. Fortunately, re-igniting that zeal isn’t terribly complicated. There are a number of ways (Murray gives us 12) to shake off the dust and see the Bible again for what it truly is—the most life-giving book there is.

Four Warning Signs You’re Approaching Burnout, Eric Geiger. Burnout is common in any job, but it plays a special role in ministry. After all, the stakes seem so high, it’s easy to overwork. The end result, however, is a crash-and-burn—not good for you or the people you lead. So be on the alert: catch the signs of burnout before it becomes an emergency.

Four Tips for Becoming a False Teacher, Tim Grant. For some, the task of wrenching the Bible out of context and teaching creative lies comes naturally. But in case you aren’t a natural heretic, Grant offers a tried and true method. Even you can be a false teacher if you follow his advice. (Hint: don’t follow his advice.)

Your Husband’s Infidelity Is Not Your Fault, Julie Roys. This goes in the growing category of, “Shouldn’t need to be said.” However, the language surrounding affairs almost always includes at least one voice hinting—or outright saying—that affairs are the result of one spouse not meeting the sexual needs of the other. And it’s usually the cheated-on wife that gets the rude accusations. Roys gets at the true heart of adultery, in an article that should be required reading for just about everyone.

On The Lighter Side

How All 50 States Got Their Names, Matt Soniak. I’m proud to say that I knew the origin of my home state (Pennsylvania, a.k.a. “William Penn’s Woods”) and my new home state (North Carolina, named for King Charles of England). See how you fare.

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


The Daily Discovery (October 31-November 1, 2015)

(Click title to go to full article)

Multi-Site Churches are from the Devil – “At bottom, I think the kind of multi-site churches (realizing there are a few different approaches) that feature one pastor being beamed into several sites around a region—and in some cases around the country or world—is simply idolatry.  It’s certainly cult of personality multiplied and digitized for a consumer audience.  As a brilliant young man remarked to me this morning, ‘The pastor now becomes the new icon in the midst of the Protestant worship service.’  I think that’s well said.  Video multi-site tends to idolatry, pride, and self-promotion—even where the ambition of spreading the gospel is genuine.  In other words, the ends do not justify the means because some of the ends produced will undoubtedly be odious in God’s sight.”

Exegetical Critique of Multi-Site: Disassembling the Church? – “Praise God for our brothers and sisters in multi-site churches who are reaching their communities with the gospel of Jesus Christ! Assenters and dissenters to this approach alike should be able to say with Paul, ‘What then? Only that . . . Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice’ (Phil. 1:18). But the fact that Paul’s primary goal was to see the gospel proclaimed does not mean he cared nothing for how a church is structured. Church structure may be secondary, but it remains important and a matter addressed in the Scriptures, which therefore requires Christian obedience.”

Theological Critique of Multi-Site: What Exactly Is a “Church”? – “In your mind, what are the necessary elements which must be present for a group of Christians to become a local church? I assume you don’t think that three Christians throwing a Frisbee at the park constitutes a local church. So what would? What if the three friends leave the park, head down to the local diner, and pray before their meal? Are they a church then? What if they pull out their Bibles and exhort one another? Agree to meet weekly? Serve communion? Make some sort of covenant? Get the local city officials to recognize them as a church with a legal document? Stop meeting in a diner booth and find a building with a steeple? What’s the tipping point between ‘three Christian friends hanging out’ and ‘three Christians who together constitute a church’?”

Historical Critique of Multi-Site: Not Over My Dead Body – “Congregationalists and Baptists have spilled a lot of ink during the past five centuries arguing about church government. Whether they’ve been fending off Roman Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, or those within their own ranks, Congregationalists and Baptists have dug deep into both Scripture and their inkwells in order to discover, declare, and argue for a biblical church polity.”

Twenty-Two Problems with Multi-site Churches – “I love my gospel-loving friends in multi-site churches— both leaders and members! But as Christians we work continually to reform our churches in light of Scripture. So I trust a little push back on the multi-site structure serves everyone, assuming my concerns turn out to be valid. Below are 22 misgivings I have about the multi-site model. All of these apply to churches that use a video preacher. Over half apply to churches who employ a preacher on every campus.”


Matt Chandler – The Apostles’ Creed (Part 5): Suffered Under Pontius Pilate; Was Crucified, Dead and Buried


The Cross Preachers Ignore

What to say to someone with depression.

“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus.  It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur

10/31/15 Giving Up

READING:  Matthew 19, Mark 10

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  How much am I willing to give up for God? He has been really good to us — so good that we’ve become accustomed to His blessings. I wonder which of these characters of today’s readings would most reflect my life today:

  1. The rich young ruler who refused to give up his possessions to follow God: “When the young man heard that command, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions” (Matthew 19:22).
  2. James and John, who followed God but wanted the best seats in the kingdom: “They answered Him, ‘Allow us to sit at Your right and at Your left in Your glory’” (Mark 10:37).
  3. Jesus, who knew what was coming in Jerusalem and still set His focus on obedience: “Listen! We are going up to Jerusalem. The Son of Man will be handed over to the chief priests and the scribes,and they will condemn Him to death. Then they will hand Him over to the Gentiles, and they will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him, and kill Him, and He will rise after three days” (Mark 10:33-34).

I want to be as obedient as Jesus — to be willing to give up my life for the gospel. If I’m fully honest, though, I suspect I’m sometimes like James and John. At my core, I sometimes assume that faithfulness should bring recognition and reward. May God forgive me.

ACTION STEPS: Evaluate your own life in light of the above three responses to God’s call.

PRAYER: “God, make me willing to give up all for You — and to expect nothing for me when I do.”

11/01/15 Whatever He Commands

READING:  Matthew 20-21

TEXTS AND APPLICATION:  Sometimes the simplest verse in a reading grabs your attention. Today’s reading includes much about Jesus’ rejection of the Jewish leaders. They assumed they were in God’s good standing because they were the people of Abraham, but they were the people who had first rejected the Redeemer. They would, in fact, kill God’s Son.

On the other hand, these chapters echo with what it takes to be a Christ-follower. We are to be willing to be last (Matt. 20:16), servants who are committed to being “slaves” in order to lead (Matt. 20:26-28). We are to serve just as Jesus served.

That’s where a simple verse hits home today. Jesus told His disciples to go to Jerusalem to find a donkey and colt that He would need, and “the disciples went and did just as Jesus directed them” (Matt. 21:6). They didn’t always follow Him so obediently, but this time they did.

I am reminded here of the number of times the Old Testament included a similar summary statement like, “So Moses and Aaron did this; they did just as the Lord commanded them” (Exo. 7:6). The Old Testament leaders Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them, and the disciples later did just as Jesus directed them.

Christian faithfulness is not rocket science. It’s not that complicated. It may not always be easy, but it’s seldom impossible to know what to do. We’re to do just as Jesus directs us. Period.

ACTION STEPS: Commit to doing whatever Jesus tells you to do today — regardless of what that “whatever” might be.

PRAYER: “God, don’t let me forget this commitment today. Help me to know Your leading and then follow it without reservation.”

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.

What Is the Gospel?

There is no greater message to be heard than that which we call the gospel. But as important as that is, it is often given to massive distortions or over simplifications. People think they’re preaching the gospel to you when they tell you, ‘you can have a purpose to your life’, or that ‘you can have meaning to your life’, or that ‘you can have a personal relationship with Jesus.’ All of those things are true, and they’re all important, but they don’t get to the heart of the gospel.

The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it –or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.

The great misconception in our day is this: that God isn’t concerned to protect His own integrity. He’s a kind of wishy-washy deity, who just waves a wand of forgiveness over everybody. No. For God to forgive you is a very costly matter. It cost the sacrifice of His own Son. So valuable was that sacrifice that God pronounced it valuable by raising Him from the dead – so that Christ died for us, He was raised for our justification. So the gospel is something objective. It is the message of who Jesus is and what He did. And it also has a subjective dimension. How are the benefits of Jesus subjectively appropriated to us? How do I get it? The Bible makes it clear that we are justified not by our works, not by our efforts, not by our deeds, but by faith–and by faith alone. The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.

Ready to start your new life with God?

Who do you think that I am?

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

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

Consider what the Bible says about Him: Read more

Resource Links

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

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

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

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

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

About Christianity
Know Jesus Christ and your life will be transformed

Truth2Freedom Blog Disclaimer

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

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

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

— Augustine

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