Best of 2015: Duggar Scandal, Beth Moore, and the Yoga Pants Debate
We rank the top 10 posts of the year.
Bible on Demand: What 160 Million People Searched Scripture For in 2015
Bible Gateway offers year-end analysis of the most-popular verses and chapters, and whether anyone finished their Bible-in-a-year reading plans.
How “Star Wars” teaches spirituality
“Star Wars” is the American religion. We could do worse.
In defence of your 2015: Celebrating the little victories in your life
Within the celebration and encouragement of the self, comes an even greater belief in what could be for next year. In how we might possibly glorify our Father, in how we could love someone a little better…
The Top 20 Most-Read Christianity Today Articles of 2015
The Supreme Court decision, C.S. Lewis’ secret life, loving my sister-brother, and more.
Religion news in 2015: Terror, fear and forgiveness
(RNS) &Faith-based& cleansing of ancient lands, murder and forgiveness motivated by scripture, and religiously inspired concern for the poor and the environment were hallmarks of 2015.
Rep Wants Priority Refugee Status For Christians Massacred By ISIS
A California rep has introduced a bill granting priority refugee status to Christians and Yazidis, who were targeted for genocide by ISIS.
‘Star Wars’ story a parallel to ‘what the Christian God is after,’ prof says
The Star Wars saga has parallels to the Gospel and can be used to communicate spiritual truths with friends, family and children, says a Christian university professor who has written a book about God in the movies. Even C.S. Lewis’ Narnia tales include …
From Berean Research:
It should come as no surprise that Christian practices are outlawed in Muslim countries, but it is pretty shocking to see this sort of thing happening in America. Under the guise of separation of church and state, the celebration of Christmas, which is a federal holiday, is taboo in many of our tax-payer funded public schools. Yet some educators see no problem promoting Islam even though it’s a religion. The question is, why allow schools to censor Christianity and promote Islam?
December 28, 2015
See Ezekiel 38-39.
18) This was the year evangelicals began accepting the gay agenda and some asserted that Allah and Jehovah are the same. The voices from the religious Left encouraged this. The great end-time falling away has much of the church going over a cliff with results that cannot be rectified. Finding a solid church became a believer’s biggest challenge in 2015.
Things are not falling apart — they are falling into place. Can you hear the hoof beats of the four horsemen of the apocalypse in the distance?
Two things must happen before the Tribulation period can begin: 1) The Apostasia must start, and 2) The Antichrist must be revealed.
The Greek word (Apostasia) can mean “departure.” The first seven English translations of the Bible say a “departure” must come first. The eighth English translation (the King James Version) says a “falling away” must come first. Other translations say a “rebellion” must come first.
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
A biblical response to John Piper’s denial of the Right to bear Arms – “John Piper has posted a response to Jerry Falwell, Jr’s. call for Christians to arm themselves and his provision for students to carry arms on the Liberty University campus. Piper’s position as outlined is about as close as one can come to individual pacifism without saying so. His response unfortunately ignores much of the context of the New Testament passages it cites, and ignores the Old Testament entirely. As such, I not only view it as unbiblical and disagree with it strongly, I think it would be dangerous and unloving for Christians to accept in society.”
I Beg To Differ, Brother Piper – “This morning I was directed to a brief comment by John Piper found here. Specifically, Piper draws a connection between the martyr missionaries of Through Gates of Splendor and a Christian defending his wife or daughter from an intruder in his home…”
Christian Conflict: Five Ways to Fight It – “I wish I never had to deal with conflict. I am a card-carrying conflict avoider. Whatever the reason (character, context, sin, etc.) I would rather run away from conflict than take it head on. It wasn’t until I began my training as a counselor at nearly thirty-years-old that someone explained conflict didn’t always have to do damage. In fact, it was possible to have conflict with a person and to feel closer to them in the wake of it. This was a revolutionary idea to me. However, skilled conflict doesn’t come easy. It requires dedication, persistence and the willingness to forgive when things go poorly. In other words, it mirrors the rest of our Christian walk.”
The Right Kind of Despair – “Progress, I know, is frustratingly slow, and backsliding all too common. But that is the nature of a Republic— ‘if we can keep it.’…When George Washington found that the Revolution he had labored for had produced a failing state, he did not retreat in a snit to Mount Vernon to let the British re-invade, he waded into the Constitutional Convention to strengthen it. When Ronald Reagan lost the primaries in 1976, he redoubled his effort to sell conservative ideas while tailoring his own more narrowly, enabling him to win in 1980.”
The Beautiful Ordinary -“This morning, all across the world, thousands of ordinary pastors will preach ordinary sermons to ordinary people, and through these sermons they will communicate the most powerful, extraordinary news of all. This news will slowly but definitely make its mark on these people, conforming them ever more to the image of Christ. These congregations will also read the Bible together, pray, sing, and fellowship. Some will celebrate the Lord’s Supper and some will witness a baptism. These are the beautiful, wonderful, ordinary means of grace. Here is what Thomas Chalmers says about such ordinary things.”
Nate Pickowicz – When God Became Man (John 1:1-18)
If you have been molested, you are not a second class Christian.
Three Stages of Jihad
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
As we finish 2015, I am so grateful for you, the readers, who’ve helped launch this site quite successfully over the last six months. For today and tomorrow, we’re redirecting you to the most read posts this year. I pray they will bless you today if you’ve not read them before; if they’re repeats for you, I hope they’ll encourage or challenge you again.
Over the past twenty years as a seminary professor, I’ve worked with a lot of students who had a parent who was a minister, but who were at first certain they would never follow in those steps. When I’ve asked what their first objections were, here’s what I’ve most often heard in no particular order.
We know what questions we often ask about our churches. Is the church growing? Are we meeting budget? Are we making disciples? Take some time today to evaluate your church via these somewhat “random” questions.
I’m a pastor at heart, and I pray I’m speaking for pastors today. Here are ten reasons you need to pray for your pastor today.
I’ve heard it so many times that I almost expect it: pastors are lonely. They often minister among people they say they love, but don’t know well. They have few deep friendships. Here are 10 reasons why we struggle with finding friends.
I love missionaries, and many I know are now making prayerful decisions about retiring from the field. These are heart-wrenching days, and I encourage Southern Baptists to consider ways to assist these folks who’ve given their lives for the nations.
Thanks to all of you for another great year here at ColdCaseChristianity.com. Our readership continues to grow as we have doubled our unique visitors per month since January. That’s actually saying a lot, given the fact much of 2015 was spent illustrating and finishing God’s Crime Scene. As I am finishing the third book in this trilogy, I’ve been trying continue writing articles to help you make the case for what you believe as a Christian. Here are the 10 most popular articles from 2015:
The 10th Most Popular Article of 2015:
How Many Angels Were Present At Jesus’ Tomb?
The Gospels describe the angels in response to the specific questions and actions under consideration. There is no contradiction in the accounts.
The 9th Most Popular Article of 2015:
Why the Information in Our DNA Points to the Existence of God
The selection process required in the creation of DNA information requires an intelligent, volitional free agent.
The 8th Most Popular Article of 2015:
Case Making Apps Every Christian Should Have on Their Phone or Tablet
Successful case making ministries who provide free, content rich, accessibly mobile versions of their materials.
The 7th Most Popular Article of 2015:
Why Is the Trinity An Essential Christian Doctrine?
Why Is the Trinity An Essential Christian Doctrine? Why is the triune nature of God so essential to the Christian Worldview?
The 6th Most Popular Article of 2015:
Rules to Evaluate Alleged Bible Contradictions and Difficulties (Free Bible Insert)
Here is short list of the rules I typically use when evaluating eyewitness statements. Be sure to download the free Bible Insert.
The 5th Most Popular Article of 2015:
How Many Women Visited the Tomb of Jesus?
How many women were at the tomb? Five, most likely. The Gospels are not contradictory in their description of these five women for the reasons I’ve cited in this post.
The 4th Most Popular Article of 2015:
Why Didn’t Mary Recognize the Resurrected Jesus?
Once we read the varied accounts, consider all the perspectives and assemble the details, it’s not hard to see why Mary didn’t immediately recognize Jesus.
The 3rd Most Popular Article of 2015:
Four Reasons the New Testament Gospels Are Reliable (Free Bible Insert)
There are four criteria by which I typically assess eyewitness reliability. The Gospels “pass the test” in these important areas.
The 2nd Most Popular Article of 2015:
Why the Beginning of the Universe Cannot Be Explained from “Inside the Room” (FREE Bible Insert)
The beginning of the universe cannot be explained from “inside the room”. The evidence points to an external cause outside of space, time, and matter.
The Most Popular Article of 2015:
Why I Know the Gospels Were Written Early (FREE Bible Insert)
The evidence from history (and the texts themselves) most reasonably points to the early authorship of the Gospels.
There you have it: the 10 most popular articles written in 2015. This week as we reflect on the past year, we’ll be posting the most popular articles, videos and podcasts. If you’ve missed some of the content here at ColdCaseChristianity.com, now is the time to catch up. Enjoy!
This year, 2015, was another great year at ThomRainer.com. Thanks to all of you who have read, commented on, and shared the posts and podcasts here at the site. This week, I’ll be sharing some of the biggest posts and podcasts of the year. We have some great plans for 2016, and I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring.
Top 10 Posts of the Year: #6 through #10
If you want to make certain guests never return to your church, say one of these sentences to them when they visit.
Indeed, these unfortunate and ill-timed comments almost always guarantee that you will offend guests and make them very uncomfortable. Most of the time guests are already ill at ease since they are in a new place and a new environment. By the way, each of these quotes was actually communicated to a guest in a worship service. My guess is that all ten of them have been said many times . . . too many times.
There are certain metrics and issues physicians check when we go to the doctor. They want to check our blood pressure and temperature. They do blood tests to see if there are any warning signs. They are looking for symptoms that might indicate real problems exist.
After working with churches for thirty years, I too look for symptoms that might point to greater concerns. The symptoms are not necessarily the problem; they simply provide warnings or cautions of potential issues.
While there are many potential symptoms of a sick church, I have found ten to be consistently common. These ten are not listed in any particular order:
I recently embarked on a major research project for a new resource I will soon be offering. Part of my research included a long review of thousands of comments made on this site over the past few years. Though my research had another purpose, I became intrigued by the comments related to church traditions.
Of course, by “traditions,” I am referring to those extra-biblical customs that become a way of life for many congregations. A tradition is neither inherently good nor bad. Its value or its distraction in a given church really depends on how members treat the traditions.
With that in mind, I began noting the most frequently defended traditions in churches. As a corollary, these traditions can also be a potential source of divisiveness. They are ranked here according to the frequency of the comments.
I’ve actually assembled more than ten things church members have told pastors immediately after they preached. But these are ten responses where pastors have had the most visceral reactions.
To have or not to have announcements in the worship services? That is the question many church leaders ask today. And indeed there are several tendencies or trends related to announcements, and they are often related to the size of the church.
I asked a number of church leaders of congregations of varying sizes about their practices in this area. They pretty much confirmed what I am seeing as well. Here are my nine observations:
Can we trust that the inner voice in our head is God?
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“Last week I read an article called “Should the Children Suffer?” It’s about a missionary father’s struggle to trust God with the suffering his children are experiencing on the mission field.” This response comes from Amy, who grew up the child of missionaries and who is now a missionary herself.
Here’s an interesting take on problems in today’s parenting.
This article shows three indicators that you probably could have just written some emails instead of calling for a meeting.
Al Jazeera carried out an investigation of performance-enhancing drugs and posted a very interesting documentary to YouTube. Do note that there is quite a lot of bleeped-out swearing in it.
This Day in 1065. Even though it was incomplete, Westminster Abbey was dedicated 950 years ago today. *
“Denying yourself and submitting to King Jesus, then, is true countercultural living. And though it may look like legalism to the world, submitting to his authority is in fact liberty—shocking, unexpected, subversive liberty.”
Ligonier Ministries announces an app for the new Apple TV.
“Because the Christmas story has been told so often for so long, it’s easy even for Christians to forget how revolutionary Jesus’ birth was.” Fancy reading that in the New York Times.
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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