Your Obedience is Not Just About You
May God forbid that we slouch into a posture of Christianity that accepts lethargy and mediocrity. There should never be any acceptance of slacking off. To the one who has shrunk-wrapped their Christian experience down to themselves, it is not about you! Consider who God is and respond to him. Look around and see your church family. Consider their need of your obedience. And look around at the world that is hungry and hurting. They need to see the way out, the way home.
The Old Testament’s Message to our Culture
There’s no question that the Old Testament is a challenging read; it doesn’t yield its wisdom quite as easily as fortune cookies. However, it does repay disciplined and prayerful reading and research. Remember it was the Old Testament Paul was referring to when he said: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim. 3:16-17).
International (MNN) — New Bible app makes it easier to minister to people where…
Gideon International and Faith Comes By Hearing partners to spread the Word through new Bible app.
The Evangelism Conversation No One Is Having
“It’s not that people aren’t interested in spirituality; it’s that they don’t think the church can help them.”
Why You Don’t Have to Choose Between Happiness and Holiness
&A gospel that promotes holiness over happiness isn’t good news.&
Kyrgyzstan (ODM) — Couple shares the Gospel; forced to flee village.
Open Doors USA shares Kyrgyzstan persecution update and requests prayer for Janysh and Laura, who fled their village in southern Kyrgyzstan.
Church Attendance Plunges after Nepal Becomes a Secular State
Christians mostly welcomed new constitution. Nepal’s main trading partner did not.
Study says Christians are more selfish. Let’s prove it wrong.
Maybe it’s time that we redoubled our efforts to teach about the importance of serving others, writes Andy Walton.
The Word of God is alive, teaching us everything we need to know about who God is and who we are before and after saving grace through the blood of Jesus Christ alone. And as believers we have been given the Holy Spirit and the grace of God to teach us and when necessary rebuke […]
It’s not what you think. Julaine Appling joins the program today.
America is $80 trillion dollars in debt with all things considered. Is the Church preparing Christians for the days ahead?
Running from adversity is running away from God’s will. Dave Wager joins the program today.
We cannot remain lawless forever. Pastor Seiko Woods joins us on today’s program.
By Heather Clark Christian News Network DALLAS, Texas — A leadership and motivational speaker recently delivered what he called a “prophetic prayer” to Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump via his attorney, claiming that God has given Trump “an anointing for the mantle of government.” Lance Wallnau of Dallas posted a video on Facebook on Tuesday […]
The post ‘Prophetic Prayer’ Claims God Has Given Donald Trump ‘Anointing for Mantle of Government’ appeared first on lighthouse trails research.
According to recent findings from Pew Research Center, the U.S is becoming less religious.
“An extensive new survey of more than 35,000 U.S. adults finds that the percentages who say they believe in God, pray daily and regularly go to church or other religious services all have declined modestly in recent years,” reported Pew Forum.
The number of adults who say they believe in God in has declined from 92% in 2007 to 89% in 2014. Those who are “absolutely certain God exists” have decreased from 71% to 63%. Many say they “do not belong to any organized faith,” specifically Millennials.
Here’s the silver lining: “The study also suggests that in some ways Americans are becoming more spiritual. About six-in-ten adults now say they regularly feel a deep sense of ‘spiritual peace and well-being,’ up 7 percentage points since 2007. And 46% of Americans say they experience a deep sense of “wonder about the universe” at least once a week, also up 7 points over the same period.”
Views on abortion have remained stable. About 53% say “abortion should be legal in all or most cases.” Attitudes about homosexuality have shifted since 2007 especially with Millennials. “The survey finds that acceptance of homosexuality is growing rapidly even among religious groups that have traditionally been strongly opposed to it. For instance, more than a third of evangelical Protestants now say homosexuality should be accepted by American society, up 10 points since 2007.”
The post Pew Research: U.S. is Less Religious and More Accepting of Homosexuality appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
You have enemies as you try to live as a content man. Most of the time we think the enemies are from without—people around us and circumstances upon us. But the true enemies of contentment are within in us, which is where contentment is either fed or starved.
At the heart of contentment is an embrace of the present and a willingness to enjoy the good things we have right now. These enemies distract us from the present and prompt us to either idolize or demonize our past and future. We either worship or hate the past or future, but doing so makes it impossible to embrace the glory of the contented life.
The following 6 assassins are at work within you to destroy your enjoyment of the life God has given you…
Sometimes we should regret things. If we make bad decisions, if we hurt other people, we need to acknowledge our mistakes and feel their weight. But some men allow their regrets to turn into a cancer of self-loathing that undermines their ability to make balanced and healthy stories out of their lives.
In the words of Don Draper, nostalgia is “delicate, but potent. It’s a twinge in your heart, far more powerful than memory alone.” It recalls to mind the successes and joys of the past, while suffocating our ability to enjoy the present. Our lives can never escape the unrealistic burden of having to measure where we are now according to a standard set a year or decade ago.
Some people are so consumed by their fear of what will come tomorrow that they are paralyzed today. They worry that if they enjoy something too much, they will be devastated if it goes away. As a result, they are always hedging their bets, always pulling back at the last second from the edge of truly enjoying life. Their fear becomes a self-fulfilling cycle of discontentment.
To have vision for the future is a good thing, but some men become blind to the present. They can’t appreciate what they have now because they’re waiting to achieve the goals that will finally turn their life around. These men are greyhounds chasing the rabbit around a track with no finish line.
Multitasking spreads our attention across many activities, but keeps us from fully engaging any of them. There is no sense of completion for the multitasker because there is always something undone. When we multitask we don’t give ourselves fully to anything. Instead, we give some of ourselves to everything. This nullifies the reward of of seeing one thing to the end.
Busyness is doing all the things that we are responsible for, but hurriedness is the frantic mental and emotional state we experience that accompanies our busyness. Hurried people can’t celebrate (which is the secret sauce of contentment) because they are focused on the next thing on their to-do list.
These assassins are deadly because they hide in the inner recesses of our hearts and enable us to have a certain degree of productivity. But the victory is short-lived.
Contentment is the fuel for a life well-lived.
With the holiday season approaching, I have mixed emotions. I love the decorations, pumpkin-flavored everything, Christmas music, and candles with scents like “Frosted Snowflake” and “Fireside Flannel.”
But along with the excitement comes a twinge of dread.
For the roughly 20% of people affected by mental illness, namely anxiety and depressive disorders, the holidays can be a difficult time. More external triggers, anything from the weather to the excessive amounts of sugar we tend to consume, come into play.
Faith will determine how God is glorified through illness but not the healing of it.
There are internal triggers, too. Loneliness can be magnified against all the talk of family gatherings and parties. On the flipside, too much festive togetherness can cause anxiety and an intense urge to withdraw. Even memories from seasons past, good and bad, can create swells of sadness or fear. People without mental illness are not necessarily immune to these things, but healthy brain chemistry makes their impact manageable and temporary, instead of detrimental and lasting.
As a member of the 20%, I’m in holiday prep mode. I’m practicing healthy coping skills, planning to avoid triggers that are within my control, and seeking the Lord’s help and protection. And as I become more ministry-minded, that percentage means something different to me this year. It means that one out of every five people I interact with could be like me.
It has also occurred to me that mental illness is still, in some ways, a dark corner in Christian subculture and the church. While I won’t attempt to remedy that all in one small post, I do want to share some truths that are incredibly helpful to me and that I hope will give light to others who are members of both the body of Christ and the 20%.
1. There is something wrong.
Whether I’m in the middle of an anxiety spell or a bout of depression, nothing makes me feel abnormal like a good party, and the holidays are full of them. It’s easy for me to look at other people who seem to be effortlessly enjoying themselves and think, “What is wrong with me? Why can’t I just have fun and really be present?” The answer is that there is definitely something wrong with me. But the comforting news is that there is something wrong with everyone else, too.
We know that sin came into the world through Adam and Eve and because of that, death spread to everyone and everything (Romans 5:12). Sin corrupted every molecule of creation and made things that were created to be right, wrong. Sin birthed disease, disorder, and decay. Cells in our bodies have been corrupted to create cancerous tumors. Our joints deteriorate and become arthritic. And in the same way, the chemicals in our brains that were designed to harmonize in balance and self-regulate have been corrupted to sink too low or climb too high.
Understanding that mental illness is no more or less a side effect of our fallen world than cancer or arthritis is comforting. It takes away any stigma or shame. For me, the broken nature of sin manifests itself in my body in the form of clinical anxiety and depression. So yes, there is something wrong with me, but it is nothing that falls outside of Christ’s intentions to redeem.
2. It’s not a matter of faith.
This is where it gets tricky. According to a study conducted within the last two years, 50% of evangelical Christians surveyed believe that prayer and Bible study, alone, can heal mental illness. And I’ll admit that I wrestle with that idea, myself, from time to time.
If my faith were stronger, would this go away? Maybe I don’t really believe that God can heal me. Maybe I don’t really trust God, and that’s why I have panic attacks. If I really believed his plans for me are good, then I wouldn’t be so sad.
Scripture says that half of evangelical Christians, along with those questions that fester in my mind, are wrong. My faith didn’t cause my mental illness, and it is not the solution to it. My faith will determine how I do or do not glorify God through it, as well as how I deal with it daily, but it does not determine if or when or how I will be healed of it.
God has promised me a perfect body, including a perfectly functioning mind, one day (1 Corinthians 15:43-44; Philippians 3:21; 1 Thessalonians 5:23). I have full faith in that promise because it is part of God’s covenant with me through Jesus Christ. Does he have the ability to give me a healthy, right mind between now and then? Absolutely. Does my faith decide that? Nope.
Concerning healing from anything, our end of the deal begins and ends with placing faith in Jesus Christ for salvation and trusting that the Lord’s will is perfect, he is sovereign over all circumstances, and that all things are possible (Isaiah 46:9-10; Matthew 19:26). Even the ability to have faith is not of our own making, but an invitation from God and a gift of his grace (John 6:44, Ephesians 2:8).
3. Medication is okay and often necessary.
Speaking of what is and is not in our power to do about mental illness, medication is on the “is” list. I would even call it a gift. In his mercy, the Lord has given man the intelligence, skill, and material to create medications to subdue the effects of some mental illnesses. That is something we 20% members should be thankful for, not afraid or ashamed of.
However, I’ll be the first one to admit that’s easier said than done. Throughout my life, there have been seasons when I’ve been able to live well without the help of meds and seasons when I’ve needed them. Just recently, I decided to start taking medication again after five years of doing relatively fine without it. Through prayer, wise counsel, and some divinely orchestrated situations, it became clear to me that this was the right choice. That didn’t necessarily make it easier to accept, though. After five years of “fine,” I think I had lulled myself into a false sense of self-sufficiency. That’s the scary place to be. Admitting weakness, calling on the Lord for help, and taking that help in whatever form he sees fit to give is good and right (2 Kings 20:1-7; 2 Corinthians 12:7-12).
So that’s how faith and mental illness are not connected, and I want to end with how they are connected. When my mind is at its most fragile, the one leg I have to stand on is that the Lord has promised to keep me from all evil and to keep my life (Psalm 121:7). He is my refuge…even from my own mind (2 Samuel 22:31; Psalm 71:1, 18:2; Nahum 1:7). In the throes of anxiety and depression, there has never been a time when I have cried out to the Lord and he did not (eventually) answer me. He has provided wise counsel, supportive relationships, and sometimes just a moment of clarity long enough to see my way out.
So as another holiday season begins, those of us in the 20% can rest on the promises of God. He promises to give us joy. He is our hope. He has called us by name. And when dark days loom, he promises to be with us. We will pass through and not be utterly consumed (Isaiah 43:2).
Which of these truths is most helpful to you today? Who can you encourage with these truths?
- Spiritual Dry Spells: Causes and Cures
- Restore to Me the Joy of Your Salvation
- In a Dry and Weary Land
I recently stumbled across a video where a guy who looked like he was possibly preaching, claimed to have had a real vision of Jesus. In the video he claims that, get this, Jesus asks him for forgiveness! It was just an incredible reminder of the times we are living in. We live in a day where the Church has become completely man-centered. to the point where now Jesus needs to ask us for forgiveness.
Man-centered theology is natural. We are born worshipping ourselves. It is in our veins because of original sin. We think the world revolves around us, and ultimately we think God exists for us. Man-centered theology can show up many different ways, but ultimately it is the exaltation of man and the belittling of God.
As we were preaching through Ephesians in our Young Adult Sunday school class, it was pretty evident that a right understanding of scripture does not allow for any boasting in the Christian life. The more you read the Bible the more you realize that the Bible is God-centered, and eternity in heaven will be a celebration of the Glory of God. In fact I believe that the a major purpose of our salvation is for the angels to watch us in heaven worshipping God, and scratching their heads in utter amazement that sinful people like me will be able to be in God’s presence worshipping him. They’ve seen us sin, they’ve seen how hypocritical we are, and seeing us in heaven worshipping God will be yet another reason for the angels to worship the Trinity.
And yet despite the fact that scripture is so clear that salvation is not about us, we are always tempted to make it all about us. Have you noticed how many preachers talk about the worth of man, and seem to neglect speaking about God’s glory and His worth?
Our flesh is always telling us to think highly of ourselves. But I think we need to resist this urge to exalt ourselves. Here are some reasons to put away man-centered theology and to embrace a God-centered mindset.
Man-Centered Theology can lead to depression
We are all born with a Anthropocentric view. For me it had led me to really think that the whole world revolved and should revolve around me. Discovering the sovereignty of God has been one of the greatest treasures of my life. After dealing with depression for a few years, I had the privilege of reading through the Bible in 10 weeks at a Bible School. When I realized I was not the center of the universe I could suddenly sleep at night. When I realized that God was fully in control and that man including myself was sinful and desperately evil (Romans 3:10-23) suddenly I came to grips with two facts, first that I was worshipping myself rather than God, and second that I desperately wanted everyone around me to worship me as well. In our fallen nature we automatically think very highly of ourselves. And because of this we desire everyone around us to think highly of us. When they don’t reciprocate sometimes it ends up affecting us in a very negative way. Sometimes like in my life, it can lead to depression. The Bible tells us something significantly different. The bible tells us that the more we make of Christ the happier we’ll be (Phil 1:20-21). The more we value others the more like Christ we will be (Phil 2:3-4). When everyone around us doesn’t love us as much as we love ourselves problems are bound to happen.
Man-Centered Theology leads to a minimized view of salvation
When you reject the doctrine of total depravity your view of humans and particularly yourself become warped. I would say though, that it is natural to have a man-centered theology. We always give ourselves the benefit of the doubt. We love minimizing our sin and maximizing the sin of others. David in the midst of one of the most egregious acts of treason this world has ever seen, considering he was the man after God’s own heart, gets presented with a story of a man who cooks someone’s pet lamb. David in anger, claims the man should die. If that man deserves death what does David deserve? Yet we do the same. When someone cuts us off we instantly demand the death penalty, when we cut someone off we think they deserved it. We love minimizing sin. This is why works-based religions are so popular. Works-based religions exist because people have a high view of self and a low view of God. The fact of the matter is that if you believe in Hell and that it is eternal, then you must believe that the gap between us and God is eternal. The greater the gap you see the better your theology is. It is simply impossible to over-exaggerate how vast the gap between a non-christian and God is. When we realize this the more thankful we will be.
Man-Centered Theology leads to a lack of evangelism
One of the main motivations for evangelism is the fact that God opened up our eyes to see the truth. We weren’t in a tough bind and all we needed was a little break. We weren’t drowning in the ocean and all we needed was a life-preserver. We weren’t mostly dead as Billy Crystal would lead us to believe. We were completely dead. We were like Lazarus in the tomb. And when we consider our state properly our thankfulness to the Creator will be greater. David in Psalm 51 realizes his sin, sees it for what it is, and knows God has forgiven him. This realization automatically propels him to evangelism, he says in verses 14 and 15,
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation;
Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
That my mouth may declare Your praise.
A right understanding of salvation gives you the motivation to tell others about God’s saving power. The more you exalt man the less thankful you will be and the less you will evangelize.
Man-Centered Theology confuses what the Sunday morning gathering is about
We live in a very consumeristic society. We want to be served and we want to be served right now. Young guys like me think that we can solve all the problems of the church, we think that we need to give the world what it wants. Suddenly church services are more like Rock concerts, sermons are less than 20 minutes, and the focus for the Sunday morning gathering become the “seeking” unbeliever. This turns an attender into more of a spectator and not a participant as the Bible would encourage us. By now we’ve all seen Victoria Osteen tell us that church is about us. This demonic mindset also trains the attendee to be a critic rather than an encourager. Hebrews 10:24-25 the famous anti-skipping church passage is so much more than a call to attend church, it is a radical call to all attenders to be engaged mentally in the gathering of the saints. It calls us to not only attend, which is obviously step one, but to be a participant who is others focused. It is an understanding that when I show up at church I am training myself to think about the other members in the church. We know that every Sunday morning God’s glory is at stake in the heart of every member.
Man-Centered Theology leads to a misunderstanding of the Gospel
Ultimately salvation is not about you. God loved us despite us. The angels who will see us worshipping God for eternity will be scratching their heads wondering how in the world did so and so get saved (1 Peter 1:12). This will lead the angels to turn to God and his miraculous saving power as the only explanation, and will lead them to more worship of God. God saved us to bring glory to Himself and it just so happens to be to our benefit. We are most joyful when we obey and know God. You can have a man-centered understanding of the Gospel and still be a Christian no doubt, but other than the problems listen above, it is interesting to note that every false religion has an entirely man-centered theology. What separates Christianity from every other religion is the fact that it is entirely God who saves and it is He who initiates, justifies, regenerates, and ultimately it is He who will sanctify and glorify the believer. We will spend eternity in awe of his greatness, and it won’t be long enough to fully grasp it.
If you desire to fight our natural tendency to think highly of ourselves and you wish to have more of a God-centered theology here are 10 books I and others pastors have found helpful to help in that area.
The prophet Habakkuk was sorely distressed. His misery was provoked by the spectacle of the threat of the pagan nation of Babylon against Judah. To this prophet it was unthinkable that God would use an evil nation against His own people; after all, Habakkuk mused, “God is too holy even to look upon evil.” So the prophet protested by mounting his watchtower and demanding an answer from God: “And the LORD answered me: “Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith” (Hab. 2:2–4).
The final words of this utterance, “the righteous shall live by faith,” are cited three times in the New Testament by the familiar words, “the just shall live by faith.” In this phrase, “faith” refers to “trust in God.” It involves trusting in the future promises of God and waiting for their fulfillment. The promise to Habakkuk is one of just thousands given by God in Scripture to His people. Such promises characteristically come with the admonition that though they tarry, we must wait for them.
Waiting for God is at the heart of living by faith. The Christian does not share the cynical skepticism dramatized by the theatrical production Waiting for Godot. The end of Christian hope is never shame or embarrassment, because we have a hope that is a sure anchor for our souls. It is this hope in the trustworthy promises of God that is the ground of the Christian’s virtue of patience.
We are told that we live in a culture that is consumed by consumerism. Madison Avenue daily feeds our instant gratification, which is not merely a weakness; it is an addiction in our time. The epidemic of credit-card indebtedness bears witness to this malady. We want our luxuries, our pleasures, and our niceties, and we want them now. The antiquated virtue by which stewardship capitalism had its impetus was the principle of “delayed gratification.” One postponed immediate consumption in favor of investing for future growth. By that principle, many prospered—but not without the necessary exercise of patience.
For me to live another day requires a continuation of God’s gracious patience with my sin.
When the Bible speaks of patience, particularly as one of the fruits of the Spirit, and as one of the characteristics of love, it speaks of it as a virtue that goes far beyond the mere ability to await some future gain. It involves more than the rest or peace of the soul that trusts in God’s perfect timing. The patience that is in view here focuses more on interpersonal relationships with other people. It is the patience of longsuffering and of forbearing in the midst of personal injury. This is the most difficult patience of all. When we are injured by others, we long for vindication, a vindication that is speedy. We fear that the axiom “justice delayed is justice denied” will work its havoc in our souls. The parable of the unjust judge speaks eloquently to this human struggle, when our Lord asks rhetorically: “Will not God give justice to His elect, who cry to Him day and night?” The parable that calls us not to faint in times of trial ends with the haunting question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on earth?” The parable ties together patience and faith. If we look at the triad of virtues underscored in the New Testament—faith, hope, and love—we see that each one of these virtues contains within it the necessary ingredient of patience. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that love suffers long. This longsuffering, forbearing patience is to be the Christian’s reflection of the character of God. It is part of God’s character to be slow to anger and quick to be merciful. Part of the incomprehensibility of God in terms of my own relationship with Him is this: I cannot fathom how a holy God has been able to put up with me marring His creation to the degree I have for three score and five years. For me to live another day requires a continuation of God’s gracious patience with my sin. The bare and simple question is this, “How can He put up with me?” The mystery is compounded when we add to the patience of God not only His patience with me but His patience with you, and you, and you, and you—multiplied exponentially throughout the whole world. It becomes even more difficult to fathom when we see a sinless Being being more patient with sinful beings than sinful beings are with each other.
God’s patience is long but not infinite. He warns that there is a border to His longsuffering, which He will not extend. Indeed, He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world, and that day will mark the endpoint of God’s striving with us. It will also mark the day of vindication for His longsuffering saints.
To be sure, a longsuffering patience is one of the most difficult exercises we can achieve. It is subjected to trial everyday. Such trials can eat away at our love, our hope, and our faith. This erosion can leave us broken and embittered. In this regard, we must tie ourselves to the mast and look to the manifold witnesses that Scripture provides of the people of God who endured such trials and tribulations. We look to Job, the classic paragon of patience who cried from the dung-heap: “Though he slay me, I will trust in him.” The patience of Job was merely an outward display of the faith of Job, the hope of Job, and the love of Job.
This post was originally published in Tabletalk magazine.
The life of Joseph is a foreshadow of the life of Jesus. Joseph forgave his brothers, the sons of Israel, explaining that God used their act of betrayal to bring him to Egypt, so he could save their lives.
Jesus, during the trial before His crucifixion, told Pilate that his authority to sentence Him to death was due only to God’s will. “You could have no power at all against Me unless it had been given you from above” (John 19:11). Jesus, too, forgave those who crucified Him (Luke 23:34).
How can someone have unshakeable joy in Jesus and deal with the painful realities of life? In fifteen minutes, John Piper embraces and explains the necessary tension between joy and sorrow in the Christian life. With every trial we face, God has given us a specific grace designed for that trouble.
Will You Support My Work Through Patreon? | Tim Challies (link fixed)
Does Tim Challies give you $10 value a month? Then why not consider repaying him for all the service he’s rendered to you over the years. He’s recently launched out on his own to be a full-time writer and is offering an opportunity for his many readers to support him in this mission. Outside of the local church, there can’t be many better ways to promote the Gospel to millions of people around the world every year.
Mental Illness, Redemption, and a God I Can Trust–Part 1 | Amy Simpson
A deeply moving account of one family’s descent into the vortex of mental illness. And here’s Part 2.
Why Most of Us Hate Silence | Crossway: Zack Eswine
“Quietude, some men cannot abide,” says Spurgeon, “because it reveals their inner poverty.”
Abortionists admit emotional toll of grisly work | World Mag
In video footage the National Abortion Federation tried to suppress, conference panelists admit the horror of killing unborn babies”
Ten Differences Between a Boss and a Leader | Eric Geiger
So important for pastors.
An Interview with Doug Sweeney on Jonathan Edwards the Exegete | Justin Taylor
A book 13 years in the writing! Now that would be worth reading.
The Celebrity Pastor Factory | SKYE JETHANI
Celebrity pastors are not a new phenomenon, nor is our human tendency to exalt our leaders to unsustainable heights. What is new is the number of celebrity pastors and the speed at which they are being created and corrupted. Every generation has had a handful of well known pastors, but why are there now so many, and how do they achieve so much influence with so little accountability?
What Getting Dumped Says About You | Desiring God
Breakups are bad enough. Getting broken up with — that’s another monster entirely.
Why every seminary student should read J. C. Ryle | Southern Blog
Ben Rogers recommends Ryle’s Expository Thoughts and Simplicity in Preaching as a good starting point for Seminary students.
The First Days of Jesus: The Story of the Incarnation by Andreas Kostenberger and Alexander Stewart. Companion volume to The Final Days of Jesus.
The Most Encouraging Book on Hell Ever by Thor Ramsey $1.99.
What Does the Bible Really Teach about Homosexuality? by Kevin DeYoung $4.74.
Today’s Kindle deals include several titles in the excellent New American Commentary Studies in Bible & Theology series: The Messianic Hope ($0.99); The Ten Commandments ($2.99); Future Israel ($2.99); and Sermon on the Mount ($2.99). Also consider How to Read the Bible in Changing Times by Mark Strauss ($1.99) and A Simple Christianity by John MacArthur ($2.99).
Aimee Byrd asks some good questions. “Has the Reformed church invested so little into their women that there are only a few that can contribute on a deeper theological level? I don’t think that is the case. But have we adequately shown that we need and value their insight and teaching?”
You may be interested in this new album from Austin Stone Music. I’ve really been enjoying it.
Mike Leake is leading another 31-day prayer challenge. “Whatever local church God has placed you in, I want to challenge you to spend the next 31 days praying for the local body of Christ where God has placed you.”
Chris Brauns shares the system he uses to memorize Scripture and to remember it for the long haul.
WORLD: “In a recently released Center for Medical Progress (CMP) video, a Michigan Planned Parenthood executive encourages her colleagues to stop ‘denying the reality’ of pro-life images of aborted babies and start acknowledging abortion does involve violence and the killing of persons.”
This Day in 1935. American revivalist Billy Sunday died 80 years ago today. Sunday was a baseball player who became one of America’s most famous evangelists. *
I think the more you fly the more you come to suspect this: “Unfortunately, as lots and lots of evidence has shown, the TSA needs to get lucky to actually stop anyone. That’s backed up by a new report from the Department of Homeland Security’s Inspector General.”
ERLC covers disturbing news out of Illinois. “The federal government’s actions in Palatine, Illinois is government overreach at its worst.” Indeed. (And, on a similar note, you may be interested in Adam4d’s comic Intolerant.)
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
The Dangers of Man-Centered Theology – “I recently stumbled across a video where a guy who looked like he was possibly preaching, claimed to have had a real vision of Jesus. In the video he claims that, get this, Jesus asks him for forgiveness! It was just an incredible reminder of the times we are living in. We live in a day where the Church has become completely man-centered. to the point where now Jesus needs to ask us for forgiveness.”
The Decline of Fundamentalism – “We owe a massive debt of gratitude to the pioneers of the fundamentalist movement. Sadly, few Christians understand the necessity of the war they fought in the last century. If not for their bold stand, the vast majority of American churches probably would have capitulated to the influence of theological liberalism—a juggernaut that spiritually devastated Europe, the heartland of the Reformation.”
The Fruit of Patience – “The prophet Habakkuk was sorely distressed. His misery was provoked by the spectacle of the threat of the pagan nation of Babylon against Judah. To this prophet it was unthinkable that God would use an evil nation against His own people; after all, Habakkuk mused, ‘God is too holy even to look upon evil.’ So the prophet protested by mounting his watchtower and demanding an answer from God: ‘And the LORD answered me: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. For still the vision awaits its appointed time; it hastens to the end—it will not lie. If it seems slow, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not delay. Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith’ (Hab. 2:2–4).”
Church Discipline in Church History (Part 1) – “The issue or topic of Church Discipline is one which seems to be becoming one of more focus as the twenty-first century church seeks to either maintain or recapture ground lost to the post-modern era from which it is emerging. For some this may be a topic of which little or nothing is known while for others it may be a bit of a ‘hobby-horse’ issue. Therefore, it will not be the goal of this series to try to convince anyone of the requirement of this practice one way or another. Rather, the focus will be to provide background information from the foundation of the church at Pentecost to the present regarding the practice of church discipline and it its goal of restoration within the context of the church. This is undertaken in order to equip the one who has little current knowledge as well as provide balance for those who may have made this into a pet theological issue. In order to accomplish these lofty goals a survey style of presentation has been chosen which will begin in the first century AD and progress to the third century followed by the period of the Protestant Reformation and ending with own time.”
How Does the Bible Address the Question of Why God Allows His People to Suffer? – “The Bible addresses the question of suffering, in one sense or another, in almost every book. But two of the most interesting sources are the book of Ruth and the book of Job. With different characters and with different stories and in different styles—but with the same God—they demonstrate God’s power, presence, and purposes in the midst of perplexing pain.”
Matt Chandler – The Apostle’s Creed (Part 9): I Believe in the Holy Spirit
Essential or Fundamental Doctrines?
The Psychological Manipulation of the “Invitation”
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
Christian Headlines Daily –
READING: Mark 13
TEXTS AND APPLICATION: In my reading the Scriptures this year, I’ve been halted more than once by God’s commitment to get His name to the nations. I’ve known that truth, but it’s been more obvious to me this year. In the Old Testament, He often led His people into difficult situations so the nations might know of His might. In today’s New Testament reading, it’s clear that God uses even persecution to proclaim His name.
Mark 13:9 “But you, be on your guard! They will hand you over to sanhedrins, and you will be flogged in the synagogues. You will stand before governors and kings because of Me, as a witness to them.”
Seldom do we understand all that God orchestrates in our lives, especially when the events are difficult — even leading to death at times. Nevertheless, God apparently gives believers opportunities to stand for Christ under persecution in ways they would not have had apart from such difficulty. Just as Paul and Silas had opportunities to witness in an unscheduled prison visit in Acts 16, perhaps we, too, will have more opportunities brought about by persecution.
We may not like that concept, but there’s no question that such an open door will force us to determine what we truly live for. If we’re living for ourselves, we’ll protect our name. If we’re living for God, we’ll proclaim His name — regardless of the cost.
ACTION STEPS: Today, read some stories about persecution (e.g., http://www.persecution.com/public/homepage.aspx?clickfrom=%3d6d61696e5f6d656e75). Pray for God’s name to be proclaimed.
PRAYER: “God, give me faith to live — and die — for You. Use me as You wish to honor Your name.”
Our Time is Short
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.
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.
If you picked up a hitchhiker (not that I recommend doing that) and he saw a Bible on your car seat and said, “I’ve heard about this thing called the Gospel – can you explain it to me before you drop me off in one minute up the street?” What would you say?
Can you explain the gospel in 30 seconds? In one minute? In five minutes?
Here’s one way I have found helpful. The five main components of the gospel can be remembered on 5 fingers of one hand. Here they are:
1) Jesus’ birth
2) Jesus’ life
3) Jesus’ death
4) Jesus’ resurrection
5) Jesus’ ascension
Obviously each point can be elaborated on depending on how much time you have. Here’s the short version:
1) Jesus’ birth – Jesus, God himself, the creator of the universe, the Messiah, became a human being – took on flesh, and was born of a virgin.
2) Jesus’ life – Jesus lived a life of perfect obedience to his Father. Though he was tempted in every way as we are, he never once sinned.
3) Jesus’ death – on the cross, Jesus himself took all our sins and paid for them. God the father counted all our sins to Jesus as if he himself had personally committed them. Then Jesus bore God’s wrath towards sin – the punishment we deserved – as a substitute for us.
4) Jesus’ resurrection – within 3 days, Jesus rose physically from the dead, proving that his sacrifice for sins have been accepted by God, since the punishment for sin was death. Jesus was seen by numerous people after he rose including 500 at one time (1 Corinthians 15).
5) Jesus’ ascension – Jesus ascended physically into heaven where he reigns as King of kings and Lord of lords. And someday he will return to the earth.
That’s the gospel, the good news, and if we believe in Jesus Christ and this good news and call upon him he will save us from our sins and give us eternal life.
That’s a simple way to remember the gospel – five fingers. Even a child can do it. So ask God to give you opportunities to share his good news today.
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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