Top News – 1/31/2016
Satanic group set to lead Phoenix City Council in prayer
A Satanic group is set to deliver an opening prayer at an upcoming meeting of the Phoenix City Council, sparking controversy. The local Satanic Temple will deliver the invocation at the Council’s Feb. 17 meeting after winning approval — and at least one Councilman is calling that a joke, Fox 10 reported Thursday.
The US Mosque Obama Has Chosen For His First Presidential Visit Has Deep Extremist Ties
The Baltimore mosque President Obama has chosen as the first U.S.-based mosque to visit during his presidency has deep ties to extremist elements, including to the Muslim Brotherhood. The White House announced on Saturday that Obama will visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) on Wednesday. He has visited several mosques overseas as president but has resisted visiting one in the homeland.
Thousands march in Paris rain to protest state of emergency
Thousands of people marched in the Paris rain on Saturday to denounce plans to renew France’s state of emergency and revoke the French citizenship of dual nationals convicted of terrorism. Human rights groups, politicians and unions joined the march in the French capital, and in other demonstrations around France.
Syria conflict: Deadly blasts near Sayyida Zeinab shrine
At least 45 people have been killed in three blasts near the Shia shrine of Sayyida Zeinab, south of the capital Damascus, Syrian state media say. Scores of people were also reported to have been wounded. The shrine, which is highly revered by Shia Muslims, has been targeted before, most recently in February last year.
Zika: Colombia cases in pregnant women double in a week
The number of pregnant women in Colombia infected with the Zika virus has doubled in a week, officials said. Almost 2,000 pregnant women now have the virus, Colombia’s National Health Institute said, out of the more than 20,000 people infected across Colombia. The mosquito-borne virus has been linked to babies being born with abnormally small brains.
Turkey says Russia violated its airspace near Syria border
Turkey has accused Russia of again violating its airspace and warned it would “face consequences” if such infringements continue. The foreign ministry said a Russian jet flew into its airspace on the border with Syria on Friday. Moscow described the claim as “baseless propaganda”. Tensions between the two countries have been high since November, when Turkey shot down a Russian jet.
Report: Senior Hamas official blames Iranian ‘liars’ for deserting Hamas
Deputy Chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, Musa Abu Marzouk, blamed Iran for lying about financial aid to Hamas, claiming that the Palestinian Islamist movement has not received any Iranian funding since 2009, Asharq al-Awsat reported on Sunday. In a recording of a private conversation…Abu Marzouk is heard saying that “the story is not like Iran presents it… The Iranians are masters of diplomatic wordplay.
Israel would consider invitation to peace talks with Palestinians: spokesman
Israel would consider a French invitation to peace talks with the Palestinians, but believes France has made a mistake by saying it will recognize a Palestinian state if the talks fail, an Israeli government official said on Saturday.
Big Food now highly dependent on aborted fetal tissue for product development
Nearly four years have passed since the Obama administration gave PepsiCo approval to continue its use of aborted human fetal tissue in flavor-enhancing research, despite opposition from its shareholders. The controversial practice came under fire after the Pro-Life group Children of God for Life exposed the food giant’s partnership with Senomyx, a biotech firm that conducts research using aborted fetal cells to develop artificial flavors incorporated into a number of products sold by Kraft Foods, Nestlé and other large food companies.(1)
Russian ICBM Forces Placed On Highest Alert
Russia’s TASS Agency,as reported by Next News Network, is reporting that 10 missile regiments of Russia’s Strategic Missile Force are combat ready and are now positioned at the highest level of alert.
US warship sails by island claimed by China: Pentagon
A US warship sailed within 12 nautical miles of a disputed island in the South China Sea Saturday to assert freedom of navigation, drawing a protest from Beijing, officials said. “We conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea earlier tonight,” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis said in a statement.
Is Angela Merkel now backtracking on refugees?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday attempted to appease vocal critics of her open-door policy for refugees by saying that the asylum seekers from Syria and Iraq would return home once the conflicts are over in the region.
China is cracking down on Christians
One of the most prominent Protestant figures in China, the Rev. Gu Yuese, has been detained, along with his wife, and held incommunicado as part of what Chinese evangelical leaders say is a broad official crackdown in China on what is described as harmful “foreign influences.”
Top Headlines – 1/31/2016
Top News – 1/30/2016
Swarm of Aftershocks in Kamchatka after a Strong Earthquake
A first 7.0 magnitude quake was felt on Saturday in the peninsula with its epicenter 189 kilometers deep in the northeastern direction, followed by a second 6.9 magnitude, causing no casualties or damage, according to a report of civil defense.
Former House Oversight chairman: ‘FBI director would like to indict Clinton and Abedin’
California Congressman Darrell Issa, who previously led an investigation into Benghazi as former chairman of the House Oversight Committee, says the FBI “would like to indict both Huma [Abedin] and Hillary Clinton” for conducting sensitive government business on an unsecure, private email server.
Magnitude 2.1 Earthquake Strikes Directly in Yellowstone Super-Volcano Caldera
According to geologists, Yellowstone erupts every 640,000 years. They determined this by sampling soil. Presently we are now BEYOND 640,000 years since the last major eruption. So, in layman’s terms, it’s overdue.
Storm Gertrude BATTERS UK with 144mph and snow leaving THOUSANDS without power
The storm, which has caused chaos in Scotland and Northern Ireland, hit the south of England yesterday. The Met Office issued a rare red warning yesterday, which means a danger to life.
What Were Guns, Ammo and a Koran Doing at Paris Disneyland?
A man was arrested as he tried to enter a Disneyland Paris hotel with two guns and ammunition in his suitcase. He also had a Koran in his luggage.
Obama nukes Hillary, admits server contained top U.S. secrets
The Obama administration leveled a devastating blow to Hillary Clinton on Friday by admitting for the first time that her personal email server contained the highest levels of classified U.S. intelligence. The White House said 22 emails from former secretary of state’s “home brew” server must be censored from public view when the State Department releases its final batch on Friday.
Why Zika may be as tough to beat as Ebola
She struggles to know what to tell them about the risk they may face. The data is simply not available. What is clear, however, is that the Americas appear to be facing a health crisis on a scale and potential complexity that could be compared to West Africa’s 2014 Ebola outbreak.
Minor earthquake, 3.39 mag was detected near Ferndale in California
A minor earthquake magnitude 3.39 (ml/mb) has occurred on Friday, 251 km W of Ferndale, California. In the past 24 hours, there have been four, in the last 10 days six, in the past 30 days six and in the last 365 days nineteen earthquakes of magnitude 3.0 or greater that has occurred nearby.
7.3 quake & multiple aftershocks strike Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka Region
A strong, deep 7.0-magnitude earthquake rocked Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka peninsula on Saturday, the US Geological Survey reported. The quake hit 106 kilometers north of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy, the capital city of Russia’s Kamchatka Krai. Rescue crews are searching and inspecting buildings,
Stockholm pogrom: Crowd of masked men hunt and beat up non-Swedes
Dozens of masked man went on an anti-immigrant rampage in Stockholm in an apparent retaliation for the stabbing death of a young Swedish woman at a refugee center earlier this week, local media reported. The crowd of some 40 to 50 people went on a violent spree on Friday night at around 9 p.m. local time in and around the Swedish capital’s main railroad station, according to the Aftonbladet daily. They were beating up anyone who didn’t look like ethnic Swede.
Depraved Academia: Connecticut College vs. Kent State
To understand just how depraved today’s college campuses are, compare the treatment of two professors – one defending a Western, pro-American democracy (Israel) and the other suspected of supporting this century’s most gruesome Islamist terror organization, the Islamic State (“ISIS”). Julio Pino, an associate history professor at Kent State University, is currently under investigation by the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security for potential ties to ISIS.
PA announces new UN campaign to renew peace talks
Palestinian Authority (PA) officials are continuing their diplomatic offensive against Israel and are waging a new campaign at the United Nations to revive peace prospects, the PA’s UN envoy Riyad Mansour declared on Friday, according to AFP.
Moderate earthquake 5 mag, 124 km SSW of Lorengau, Papua New Guinea
A moderate earthquake with magnitude 5 (ml/mb) was reported 124 km SSW of Lorengau, Papua New Guinea (77 miles) on Saturday. A tsunami warning has not been issued (Does not indicate if a tsunami actually did or will exist).
Family of slain Oregon protester challenges FBI account of his death
As four armed anti-government protesters held their ground at a U.S. wildlife refuge in Oregon on Friday, the family of a protester killed by police said he seemed to have been shot in the back with his hands up …The grainy footage shows Finicum raising his hands and then turning and flailing his arms. He then lowers his arms to his body and is shot by Oregon State Police troopers, the FBI said.
U.S. warship sails near island claimed by China in South China Sea
A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of an island claimed by China and two other states in the South China Sea on Saturday to counter efforts to limit freedom of navigation, the Pentagon said. China claims most of the South China Sea, through which more than $5 trillion of world trade is shipped every year. Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines and Taiwan have rival claims.
Italian academics call for boycott of Israeli universities
The academic boycott against Israel continues to broaden, with a new petition signed by 168 academics and researchers in Italy calling to suspend all agreements with Israeli universities as well as the Technion, Israel’s Institute of Technology in Haifa.
Madaya: ‘Another 16 starve to death’ in besieged Syrian town
Another 16 people have starved to death in the besieged Syrian town of Madaya since UN aid convoys reached it earlier this month, according to charity Medecins Sans Frontieres. The charity says there are also 33 people in danger of dying. Brice de la Vingne, MSF operations director, said the situation was “totally unacceptable” when people “should have been evacuated weeks ago”.
France considers recognition of a Palestinian state
France will recognize a Palestinian state if its efforts to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at an international conference fail, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Friday. He told French diplomats that the conference will aim to bring together the two parties and their American, European and Arab partners in order “to make happen a two-state solution.”
Richard Dawkins dropped from science event for tweeting video mocking feminists and Islamists
Professor Richard Dawkins has had an invitation to speak at a science event withdrawn by organisers for sharing a “highly offensive” video mocking feminists on Twitter.
France to revive plans for Israeli-Palestinian peace conference
France is looking to quickly revive plans for an international conference to “bring about the two-state solution” to end the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said Friday.
Iran flies unarmed military drone over US aircraft carrier
Iran flew a surveillance drone over a U.S. aircraft carrier and published video of the encounter Friday, the latest in a series of edgy naval incidents between the two countries in the Persian Gulf after the recent nuclear deal.
PETER SCHIFF: We’re going to have a serious recession and negative interest rates before the election
Based on today’s GDP release, it appears that the US economy is slowing but not near any sort of massive collapse. Peter Schiff begs to differ.
Top Headlines – 1/30/2016
This is just getting ugly. Is Obama willing to throw all in with Hillary Clinton on this? If he does it will be one of the things that defines his presidency. That’s a big gamble. If this investigation is hung up for political reasons, say just long enough so that Clinton can get the nomination, that will really be pretty rotten and will only further show to the American people that there are rules for the political class and then there are rules for everyone else.
We reported before that the largely taxpayer funded organization had not only endorsed Hillary Clinton for president (it has never endorsed anyone before) but was also planning on spending $20 million dollars in battleground states supporting Ms. Clinton. I guess this is the start of that.
Planned Parenthood receives almost a half billion dollars from taxpayers (this is insane to me sorry) to engage in acts which many Americans find deeply abhorrent. How the organization can justify such obvious partisanship in light of their taxpayer funding makes little sense to me.
On Morning Joe this morning the gaggle did their best – we know something you don’t know because we are Washington insiders – bit. Scarborough said that the Clinton investigation, according to his sources, has become ” far more advanced than the public knows.”
Will the news – if there is news – hit before Iowa and New Hampshire? Either way things seem to be getting quite hot for Ms. Clinton.
President Obama will make the first visit during his presidency to a U.S. mosque, the White House announced Saturday, part of the administration’s push to promote religious tolerance at a time when rhetoric linking Islam with terrorism is growing.
“I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” – Barack Hussein Obama
When was the last time you ever heard of Barack Obama going to visit a Christian church to hold a roundtable on religious freedom? When was the first time? Why do people think Obama is a Muslim? For precisely this reason. He has no connection of any kind to the Christian church, never mentions Christianity in favorable terms, and at times outright trashes Christian values and traditions. But when he speaks of Islam, it is only ever with the most glowing speech and complimentary phraseology he can muster. If it walks like a duck…
On Wednesday, the president will visit the Islamic Society of Baltimore, a sprawling community center in the city’s western suburbs that serves thousands of people with a place of worship, a housing complex and schools,according to its website. It is one of the Mid-Atlantic region’s largest Muslim centers and describes itself as aspiring “to be the anchor of a growing Muslim community with diverse backgrounds, democratically governed, relating to one another with inclusiveness and tolerance, and interacting with neighbors in an Islamic exemplary manner.”
Obama Compares Christian Crusades to Modern Day Radical Islam
The president is making the visit “to celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life,” a White House official wrote in an email Saturday. “The President believes that one of our nation’s greatest strengths is our rich diversity and the very idea that Americans of different faiths and backgrounds can thrive together – that we’re all part of the same American family. As the President has said, Muslim Americans are our friends, and neighbors; our co-workers, and sports heroes – and our men and women in uniform defending our country.”
“The sweetest sound I know is the Muslim call to prayer” – Barack Hussein Obama
At the Islamic Society, the president will hold a roundtable discussion with community members, the official said.
The visit will be part of the tightrope-walking Obama has done during his presidency around Islam.
For years, Muslim Americans have lobbied him to visit a mosque, citing Islamophobia. At the same time, a segment of Obama’s critics have said since he took office that he is a Muslim pretending to be Christian, and that he plays down the religious aspect of Muslim extremism. The visit comes in the last year of his presidency.
I would suggest that most believers today would have no clue as to what my title refers to, and if they did, they would be mortified to see me writing about it! But I better begin in the beginning. What do words like mortuary, mortal, post-mortem and mortify share in common? They all come from the Latin root word mort, meaning death.
Theologically speaking, mortification has to do with putting to death sin in the believer’s life. Christians of all people should not be ignorant of this term, even though admittedly newer Bible translations do not use such terminology very much anymore.
Consider a key use of the word (as a verb) in the KJV: “For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live” Romans 8:13. The NIV puts it this way: “For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.”
Another use of the older term in the KJV can be found in Colossians 3:4-6: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience.”
The NIV translates it this way: “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.”
The idea is clear: to put to death sin as we seek to grow in holiness and sanctification. And like sanctification, it is a cooperative effort between the believer and God. One of our great contemporary theologians, J. I. Packer has written on these themes often.
Plenty of his books could be cited here, but an earlier volume of his is well worth noting. I refer to his 18 Words (Christian Focus, 1981, 2008). As the title implies, this brief (200 page) volume examines 18 key theological terms which every believer needs to know and understand.
Thus he discusses terms like ‘revelation,’ ‘sin,’ ‘grace,’ ‘faith,’ and ‘justification’. He has a chapter each on ‘sanctification’ and ‘mortification’. Let me quote from a bit of each, especially emphasising the cooperative nature of these aspects of the Christian life.
As to sanctification and holiness, he notes how these are on the one hand, gifts given to us by God, but on the other, things we are called upon to grow in and exercise. He says this in his chapter on sanctification:
Augustine’s famous prayer, ‘Give what you command, and command what you will,’ expressed a profound insight into biblical theology. God does indeed give what He commands; the holiness which He required of His people is also His gift to them. God Himself sanctifies sinners….
The New Testament makes it clear that this gift has two aspects. The first aspect is relational and positional. In this sense, God sanctifies the sinner once and for ever when He brings them to Himself, separating them from the world, delivering them from sin and Satan, and welcoming them into His fellowship. In this sense, therefore, the meaning of sanctification approximates to that of justification, adoption, and new birth….
The second aspect of the gift is recreative and progressive. In this sense, sanctification is the gracious work of th holy Spirit in the believer throughout his earthly life whereby he grows in grace (1 Pet. 2;2; 2 Pet. 3:18; Eph. 4:14f.)
In this sanctifying work, God calls for our cooperation, as He ‘works in [us] to will and t act according to his good purpose’ (Phil. 2;13)….
Certainly, holiness is by faith in Jesus – all our strength for holiness must be drawn from Him by faith and prayer, for without him we can do nothing (1 John 15:5ff.) But equally holiness is by effort; for when we have knelt to acknowledge our weakness and ask for help, we are then to stand on our own feet and strive against sin (Heb. 12:4), resist the devil (Jam. 4:7), and fight the good fight of faith (1 Tim. 6:12; cf. Eph. 6:10-18). Holiness is no more by faith without effort than it is by effort without faith. It is important to keep the balance here; it has not always been kept.
And in his chapter on mortification he also writes about this dual action: “It is true that we could not mortify sin by our own unaided efforts; but it is no less true that the Spirit will not mortify sin in us without our co-operation. He will prosper our striving, but He will not bless our sloth. We ourselves, then, must attack sin; and the outcome of the conflict will depend on whether we fight wisely and make good use of our available strength.”
Says Packer “Mortification is war,” His whole chapter on this is well worth reading. And if you do, you will see just how much he is indebted to the Puritans in general, and John Owen in particular. Let me speak briefly about Owen (1616–1683), one of our greatest Puritan theologians.
Carl Trueman said that Owen “was without doubt not only the greatest theologian of the English Puritan movement but also one of the greatest European Reformed theologians of his day, and quite possibly possessed the finest theological mind that England ever produced.”
John Owen spoke much on mortification. One set of his sermons on the topic was published as The Mortification of Sin in 1656. Packer says this about him and the book: “I owe more, I think, to John Owen than to any other theologian, ancient or modern, and I am sure I owe more to his little book on mortification than to anything else he wrote.”
There would be various editions of this great work available. If you have the Christian Focus publication, you will get a terrific 12-page introduction by Packer. Let me quoting parts of this for you (although Packer would insist I quote Owen instead!). Packer offers four reasons why today’s Christians seem so oblivious to and uninterested in such things as the mortification of sin:
First, the holiness of God is insufficiently emphasized. In Scripture, and in Owen, the holiness of ‘the holy One’ is constantly underlined…
Second, the significance of motivating desire is in sufficiently emphasized. In Scripture, and in Owen, desire is the index of one’s heart, and the motivation is the decisive test of whether actions are good or bad…
Third, the need for self-scrutiny is insufficiently emphasized. In Scripture, and in Owen, much stress is laid on the deceitfulness of the fallen human heart, and the danger of self-ignorance, with the result that one thinks well of one’s heart and life when God, the Searcher of hearts, is displeased with both…
Fourth, the life-changing power of God is insufficiently emphasized. In Scripture, and in Owen, subjective salvation means in the most literal sense a change of heart: a moral change that is rooted in a sustained exercise of faith, hope and love, whereby the power of Christ’s death to deliver from the domination by sinful desire, and the power of the Holy Spirit to induced Christ-like attitudes and actions are constantly proved.
Mortification may be a forgotten Christian teaching today for most believers, but it is thoroughly biblical and one which we must resurrect if we ever hope to see the church of Jesus Christ become all it is meant to be. Let me conclude with the words of Owen:
“Do you mortify; do you make it your daily work; be always at it whilst you live; cease not a day from this work; be killing sin or it will be killing you.”
Blogger and Bible teacher Erin Benziger observes that many professing Christians are ignorantly utilizing social media for the celebration of “self.” Erin points out that while Christians may wish to appear spiritual and humble, we ultimately end up exclaiming, “Hey! Look at me! Look at how amazing I am! Look at how much more spiritual I am than you! Look at how much cuter my children are than yours; I must be more blessed! Look at how much more precious my ‘quiet time’ is!”
Erin begins her piece…
Christians truly are a unique bunch. We are in the world, but not of it. We strive to serve our Lord Jesus Christ well in the midst of a world that is hostile to Him and to His message. We know we have been called out of this world because, in reality, we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom.
And yet, we do not hide our faith. We do not silence our message. We desire that the world know we are Christians so that it may hear the message of repentance and forgiveness of sins found in Jesus Christ alone. So at times we must utilize the tools of the world in order to aid us in our mission. And this is okay, so long as the execution of the task does not subsequently result in sin or tarnish the name of Christ.
RNS’ ‘5 Faith Facts’ series looks at religion and 2016 election contenders
(RNS) Find the religious side of the frontrunners in both parties, now that primary season gets serious with the Iowa caucus.
Tim Tebow Focuses on Helping Others, Asks Americans to Stop Idolizing Celebrities, Athletes
The NFL has not been kind to Tim Tebow. As the football star attempted to re-enter the league, his journey was cut short even before the regular season started. Tebow, who had been a favorite to dominate the NFL once he got drafted, failed to get signed as the third quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. Although the Christian athlete tried to overcome all the obstacles along the way, the DeMarco Murray still found him lacking. That is, former Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly pointed o
Billy Graham Shares Encouraging Thoughts On Angels: ‘Some Day in Heaven We’ll Realize How Much They’ve Done For Us’
Evangelist Billy Graham has shared his thoughts on one of the Bible’s most mysterious beings — angels — revealing that the celestial beings are a significant part of a Christian’s life even though they are invisible to the naked eye.
Prayers in Public High School Football Games Supported by Majority, Indicates New Survey
Nearly three-quarters, specifically 73 percent, of the public believe football coaches at public high schools should be allowed to lead their players in Christian prayer during games, while only about one-quarter, or 24 percent, say they should not, according to a new Public Religion Research Institute survey released Thursday.
COMMENTARY: Does the ERLC represent the SBC?
A provocative look at whether Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is the mouthpiece of the 16 million member Southern Baptist Convention, comprised of over 40,000 US-based churches, or whether the two could be at odds.
To the Confused, Apathetic, and Undecided Christian Voters
Our political engagement matters to our country, our neighbors, and God.
Religion in America: An Interview With Greg Smith of the Pew Research Center (Part 2)
Pew researcher says neither Christianity nor Evangelicalism are dying in the U.S.
Is She / He ‘The One’? 9 Questions to Help You Know
Choosing “the one” is an outrageously important decision. Your spouse is not only your romantic partner in life…but also the mom or dad to your children and your life-long companion.
Christians, We Aren’t Promised Success
The American dream is focused on the idea of personal success…but is that Jesus promises us if we follow him? Not at all. He has so much more for us.
3 Ways to Live Holy Lives in a Hook-Up Culture
How can we help our young women live holy lives in a &hook-up& culture?
Get Your Popcorn Ready, Our Top 10 Movies are Here
The Academy didn’t nominate our Number One movie for Best Picture, but that’s okay. A Top 10 movies list compiled by a panel of eight believers from CrosswalkMovies.com SHOULD look a little different. Get your popcorn ready!
Trump candidacy: Jeffress, Falwell, Moore weigh in
With attention focused on Donald Trump surrounding his withdrawal from a Jan. 28 Republican presidential debate, Southern Baptists remain divided regarding his candidacy.
Pew Poll: 40% Americans Say Too Little Religious Faith, Prayer Expressed by Political Leaders, Candidates
Results from a new Pew Research Center survey released Wednesday (Jan. 27) indicate several of the U.S. presidential candidates currently leading the polls of both parties are not perceived as intensely religious individuals.
Most Pastors Aren’t Voting Trump as Primaries Approach
Protestant church leaders are still undecided or pick other candidates, according to LifeWay Research.
Trump is a huge ‘loser’ with GOP Protestant Pastors
(RNS) If they voted today, 4 in 10 GOP Protestant pastors would pick &undecided.& Democrats picked Hillary Clinton.
Obama to visit Baltimore mosque with extremist ties
President Obama will pay a visit to his first US mosque this week in order to “celebrate the contributions Muslim Americans make to our nation and reaffirm the importance of religious freedom to our way of life.”
There’s only one problem; the mosque the president has chosen to honor with his presence – the Islamic Society of Baltimore (ISB) – has a history of ties to extremist Muslim groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
10 reasons ‘Jesus Calling’ is a dangerous book
By Warren Smith
In 2004, in one of her rare, carefully staged interviews, Sarah Young was asked by the Christian Broadcasting Network “How did you learn to ‘dialogue’ with God?” She answered that it was from reading the book “God Calling”:
“My journey began with a devotional book (‘God Calling’) written in the 1930s by two women who practiced waiting in God’s Presence, writing the messages they received as they ‘listened.'” (parentheses hers)
Also, in the original introduction to “Jesus Calling” that stood from 2004-2013, Young specifically praised “God Calling” as “a treasure to me.” However, “The Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs,” published by Christian publisher Harvest House, describes “God Calling” as a channeled New Age book that was spiritually dictated by a deceptive spirit pretending to be the real Jesus Christ.
Michael Reagan: My Father Would Be ‘Absolutely Appalled’ By Trump as GOP Nominee
Donald Trump’s comparison of his “conversion” to conservative as similar to that of Ronald Reagan distorts the real estate billionaire’s long liberal history, the son of the late president tells Newsmax TV.
A Call to Christians in Perilous Times
“I talk to secular people in America all the time who instinctively in their gut feel things are going in a bad direction. But they don’t know the Lord, and they don’t know what to do about it,” he said. “As believers, we have a special responsibility to be that voice and to educate people.”
As Christians share God’s Word and His promises in these dark times, doors can be opened for others to find security in Christ.
Are You Feeling the “Bern?” What YOU Need To Know About Socialism
“Socialism is particularly dangerous because it’s so perfectly suited for the modern era. It’s the ultimate “miracle” product: it’s “nice,” it’s “fair,” it’ll make you feel good about yourself, it’ll “help” people who “deserve it” by taking things away from people who “have so much” they’ll barely miss it. It sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? But, like most products with sleazy salesmen and hidden track records, the promises socialism makes are all a mirage.
How Strong Delusion is Setting the Final Stage – Part 1
Jan Markell, Eric Barger and Michele Bachmann spend the hour talking about the strong delusion that has been poured out on the earth and how this is setting the final stage. It has unleashed absolute evil but the three remind listeners that God remains in control and the events are fulfilling some predicted scenarios in the Bible. We should look up rather than be in despair. Part 2 of the discussion is next week. We use the mobile app found at http://www.oneplace.com.
President of the World
By Matt Ward
One commentator famously quipped of Obama as president that he never really started governing, because he never really stopped campaigning. This, apparently, is still the case today as his second term draws to a close.
It is the biggest, most talked about secret of the last few weeks; Obama apparently wants to become the next Secretary General of the United Nations. In 2017, Ban Ki Moon’s current term leading this international body comes to an end and Obama, if reports and all the “chatter” are to be believed, harbors genuine aspirations towards this role.
FOX ripped for putting positive spin on evil
FOX Broadcasting is being criticized for a new television drama that sympathetically portrays Satan as a likable, caring person.
The show Lucifer premiered January 25 on the FOX television channel. “It’s only a matter of time until being bad looks so good,” touts the program website.
Economic House of Cards – Hal Lindsey
Apple Inc. made an $18.4 billion profit in just the fourth quarter of 2015. It was the most profitable quarter by any corporation in U.S. history, beating Apple’s own record from a year ago. Yet, in the last six months, shares in the company have fallen almost 20%.
The Chinese government claims its economy is still growing at almost 7% per year. But I’m not sure anyone believes them. As of this writing, Chinese markets are down 24% this year, and we’re still in January.
Several reasons. First of all, 20 years into the seeker-friendly model, research indicates that the seeker- friendly model doesn’t really work. Churches have gotten bigger—nearly a thousand churches in the US now meet the definition of a mega-church (with at least 2000 people in attendance on Sunday morning), but they have gotten bigger in the same way that lots of things have gotten bigger. Crowds go where the hype is and there is a natural process of attrition and consolidation.
MINNEAPOLIS — Have we already forgotten Kim Davis? “It shows how quickly the news cycles spin things out and leave them in a dust heap in the rearview mirror,” said theologian Don Carson. “A bare six months ago the nation was full of talk about ‘the woman from Kentucky.’”
Davis, 50, that “woman from Kentucky,” as some may remember, is county clerk for Rowan County. Her story, said Carson, is worth pulling from the heap and revisiting as an opportunity for believers to think through complex issues of Christian faithfulness in a declining culture.
Here’s a brief dust-off.
In its historic ruling on Obergefell this summer, in a hotly contested 5–4 decision, the Supreme Court pronounced the right to legal “marriage” is guaranteed to same-sex couples by the U.S. Constitution. Out of conscience, Davis refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even to her gay friends. “I can’t put my name on a license that doesn’t represent what God ordained marriage to be,” she said at the time. Such so-called “marriage” is not marriage.
Davis, a Pentecostal, eventually decided not to grant any marriage licenses under her name, then was ordered by a judge to resume. When she defied, she spent five days in prison. In the process, commentators zeroed in on Davis and hit her from every side, demanding she resign, or comply, or keep resisting, or learn somehow to accommodate to the pressure. She eventually allowed assistants to grant licenses and later a form was issued that removed Davis’s name altogether.
To some, Davis became an icon of personal sacrifice in the protection of civil rights. To others, Davis became an iconic villain who was trampling the civil rights of the gay community. To ACLU attorneys, Davis’s activities were “a stamp of animus against gay people.” Yet to some conservatives, Davis’s actions were equated with Rosa Parks.
To some Christians, she quickly became an icon for religious liberty, meeting with prominent politicians in public and even Pope Francis in private.
Overnight, Davis became so iconic in America that she is now simply “the Woman from Kentucky,” the title of Carson’s message this week at the Bethlehem 2016 Conference for Pastors and Church Leaders. Carson stepped back into the froth of the controversy, and into an inescapably tangled mess of civil complexities and biblical paradigms, in order to draw out essential lessons for Christians in America. He focused on three lessons in particular: the loss of moral consensus, the expression of a “new tolerance,” and the rise of a “new authenticity.”
1. The Loss of Moral Consensus
One major lesson Carson takes from the Davis controversy is that America is clearly a nation that has “progressively moved away from whatever Judeo-Christian-Deist roots that it once had.” We are increasingly “a nation of millions who vote at once without any distinctive Christian contributions or commitments, voting for things that we will find abominable. We are not there yet, but that is the direction in which things are going.”
Democracy is no failsafe from this moral decline. “We must stop thinking about democracy as a guarantor of godliness. We must stop thinking about democracy as an intrinsic good. Democracy is in some ways the best way of changing governments without bloodshed.”
But it’s not perfect. “We are sinners. And if you have a lot of sinners voting, then you have a lot of sinners voting. That is what you have.” Sinners voting without a certain moral consensus.
“It is not for nothing,” Carson stressed, “that the founders of the nation were convinced that if you lost a broad sweeping moral consensus, then you would inevitably have more and more laws. You can be a nation of fewer laws, as long as there is moral consensus. But once you lose the moral consensus, you must have more laws to keep people from tearing out each other’s throats.”
This loss of moral consensus, this rise in new laws, brings along another important cultural turn.
2. The Rise of “New Tolerance”
Along with a loss of moral consensus, our culture is challenged to wrestle with complex moral dilemmas in a reasonable and clearheaded way. Instead, “we increasingly argue by shibboleth and anger, and if you try to argue a certain case regarding, let’s say, homosexual marriage, then you are easily and quickly dismissed as a bigot.”
Carson cited one Seattle Times headline: “Religious liberty looks a lot like intolerance from here.” Then cited one editorial that insisted: “In a homophobic political stunt, poorly veiled as religious beliefs, Davis denied marriage licenses to LGBT couples.” The statement was made without engaging her governing principle, and offered nothing about her First Amendment rights. “The whole thing was dismissed as a hate-filled political stunt — ‘a homophobic political stunt.’ It is so difficult to engage.”
This line, attributed to Voltaire, can be used to measure tolerance: “I may hate what you believe, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Though Carson doubts the origin of the statement, he stands on its value.
The “old tolerance” agreed with Voltaire. “It was helpful to allow people to dissent from the accepted norms of society, partly because the free discussion meant that there was more likelihood of coming to consensus and truth rather than by way of squelching alternative points of view. Therefore, let the disagreement roll on.”
Here is where the loss of moral consensus comes into play. The old tolerance worked, because the old tolerance was “parasitic.” In other words, “It fed on a broader ethical, moral schema. That is to say: Whether you are talking about tolerance in the Roman government or in the Hittite Empire or in the High Middle Ages, there is already a schema that is largely accepted in society for what is right and wrong.”
Thus, the old tolerance was merely a matter of how much you can allow deviation, of “how much politically or judicially or even socially you can allow deviation from that accepted norm.” The old tolerance was possible because the norms were in place. “That is why tolerance of the old sort was a parasitic virtue. It was parasitic on the givenness of whatever the norms were in that particular culture.”
The “new tolerance” finds Voltaire’s statement intolerant. The new tolerance eliminates all possibility of declaring something as wrong or sinful. To hate what someone believes is now manifest bigotry. “The only thing that you are allowed to hate is intolerance as they define it, which shows that the whole system is, in some way or other, logically self-defeating.” On top of that, Carson stresses, “it becomes intellectually bankrupting, because it becomes impossible to talk about ideas. They are automatically black-listed under the rubric intolerant.”
The result is that, instead of encouraging differing opinions and discussion and engagement, the new tolerance, “flattens out and squashes and hammers away anything that is outside the ‘plausibility structure’ (Berger) of what is currently going on in society. Then worse, that form of tolerance gets elevated to the supreme virtue. Instead of being parasitic on a whole lot of other givens, it becomes the supreme virtue in itself. And then the whole thing falls apart for want of consistency. It becomes really quite ridiculous.”
3. The Rise of “New Authenticity”
With the loss of moral consensus, which anchors the discussion of tolerance, the new tolerance opens up to a “new” authenticity. Carson points to Charles Taylor’s monumental study A Secular Age, and particularly his insights into the new “age of authenticity,” as he calls it.
In sum, Carson explained, the new authenticity means “you are authentic in this age of authenticity if you are consistent with the choices that you yourself make. If you live out your life consistently, in line with the choices that you yourself make, then you are an authentic person. If instead you succumb to the morality that you inherit from your parents or to religious authority or to government structures — even though it is not really yours, nor what you prefer — then you are not living an authentic life.”
To be authentic means “to make your own choices and stick with them even if they are stupid choices in the eyes of some people.”
Thus, “the good that I achieve in life is bound up not with how much I serve others, or how much I have obeyed God, or how much I have maintained the family tradition, or how much I have served my aged grandmother, or whatever. It is bound up with how authentically I live. And that authenticity is bound up with the freedom of my choice to do what I jolly-well please and to live my life in that fashion. That is widely viewed and praised in our media, our plays, our films, so many things in this secular age.”
Responding and Moving Forward
First, we should labor to “expose the built-in inadequacies of the new tolerance.” Carson was clear: “The new tolerance is wicked and stupid. It is morally bankrupt. And in the kindest possible ways, we need to keep showing that that emperor has no clothes.”
Carson is doing this very thing in his addresses on secular college campuses where he addresses the “new tolerance,” and he finds that hundreds show up to listen, including academics, not just the undergraduates. “And then in the discussion afterwards, that many had never considered that the stances that they were taking were themselves intrinsically intolerant to those who disagreed with their particular views of tolerance.”
Second, we must self-consciously return to the older tolerance. We must “preserve the right to say that something is right or wrong without becoming mean and nasty.” We must not become arrogant of our Christian morals or triumphalistic in our online writing and engagement in social media.
“It is a strange, strange world in which, on the one hand, Donald Trump can get a lot of traction precisely because he is so outrageous. And other parts of society hate all the outrageousness of it, too. They long for a civil politics that bespeaks a little more courtesy and respect. We are going to have to recapture the high ground of bold declaration of truth mingled with courtesy.”
Third, we must preach and teach the biblical worldview. “Although the digital world wants us to answer only in one-liners, we cannot build a whole worldview on one-liners. You can reflect a worldview in a one-liner, but it is very hard to teach a worldview in one-liners.”
The church must recapture a high view of biblical exegesis that moves naturally into worldview discussions and then addresses issues like homosexual marriage. Later, when asked to explain, Carson said when it comes to addressing the issues of our day, like homosexual marriage, we will not make headway without an overarching worldview. Thus, he challenges leaders by saying, “In my view, one of the big gaps in modern evangelicalism, including the popular Reformed branch, is the low ability to move from biblical text and exposition to worldview structures and formation and theology. To my mind, that is one of the biggest needs of the time.”
Fourth, do not be surprised by conflict. Christians should see in Scripture many texts that presuppose our persecution, including a promise from Jesus himself (John 15:20). Opposition from the world is normative for the church. “Indeed, according to Philippians 1:29, God has graciously granted us both faith and opposition — both faith and opposition are granted by God to us as a privilege.”
In other words, since opposition from the world is normative, “we have lived, really, as an aberration from much of that kind of thing in much of the western world — and now that persecution is closing in on us again. And it has the salutary effect of removing quite a lot of nominal Christianity. But these things should not surprise us. They should increasingly be worn as badges of honor.”
Fifth, we must not flinch at proclaiming the absolutes of Scripture. No matter the cultural pressures we feel, or the labels of intolerance or bigotry that get applied to us, we cannot blush at the hard texts and hard themes of Scripture, like the eternal conscious judgment of hell. “We are going to have to learn to teach and preach the absolutes of Scripture, even when they are unpalatable. We must teach and preach them as attractively as we can, but without any flinching or apologizing.”
Sixth, civil issues in the media are incredibly complex, so allow room for Christian disagreement. Whether or not “the woman from Kentucky” handled herself properly in every detail is up for question, but one lesson for us all is that believers in these situations must be convinced of certain actions in their own minds.
Carson warns that we all live within “a hierarchializing of moral values and of truth claims in Scripture.” And because of this, “I suspect that in the Christian environment we must acknowledge that some such decisions belong in the — let each person be rightly persuaded and is fully persuaded in his or her own mind category (Romans 14:1, 5).”
Especially in our confessional circles, we are tempted to hold all our convictions with equal resolve. And yet Paul presupposes there is going to be division in the church on some moral issues of the day. In the end, “there is a hierarchializing of beliefs in Scripture, and sometimes Christians are going to come out on slightly different angles with respect to gun laws or how to handle a county clerk’s job in Kentucky.” We must learn to practice the “old tolerance” with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Seventh, we must not lose our gospel priorities. These priorities trump all the rhetoric of politics and all the debates in the news. “You can’t win Muslims to Christ unless you love them. And you can’t win gay people to Christ unless you love them. You can’t win people of the opposite political party unless you love them. And we are all morally obligated to make the gospel clear as a first priority.”
We must guard ourselves and we must “so avoid investing our energy, our heat, our passion, into preserving our understanding of what the republic should be that we give the impression that the well-being of the republic is more important than the glory of Christ and the furthering of the gospel.” It is not. And if we fail here, we will “contribute to the image of Christians as cranky, bad tempered traditionalists who are simply trying to preserve their own power.”
The closing takeaway is a very personal calling for us all: “I want to press people to know Christians whose very lives and witness and social relationships and speech and so on, even when they say true things that have a bearing in the political arena, are even more concerned for people’s eternal well-being under the shadow of the cross.”
Does New Tolerance Have a Future in America?
No, Carson says, not ultimately.
“Eventually it will collapse on itself,” he says. “Whether it is long term or short term, there could be a pendulum swing reaction against it. This is just too silly by half. Or it might be that we will suffer a disastrous war which makes people suddenly start thinking in absolutes — not always in wiser, godly ways — but it does force people to think in absolutes pretty quickly, once they get involved in something like that.”
The collapse of the so-called “new tolerance” may not be far off. “Already you are seeing some secular commentators beginning to laugh at the stupidities of correct speech on campuses. Sooner or later it is going to collapse.”
Can America Become Great Again?
Finally, this discussion about a woman in Kentucky really presses the big cultural question facing the nation: Can we make America great again? And such a question is mistakenly naïve, because it presupposes the “old America” is worth preserving.
“The Take America Back Again theme presupposes there was a lot more there than what was, in fact, there,” he cautions. “Who wants to rejoice if marriage standards are declining? If there is less thought given to babies in the womb? If homosexual practice becomes normative? None of that is good. There is something ‘back there’ that would be nice to hang on to, but to hang on to it by sheer dint of [political] force, without moral transformation, does not make the country more Christian. In fact, we haven’t had really distinctively Christian views on such matters in this country for a long, long time.”
So what is to come of America?
Carson is slow to make predictions, though he admits “sometimes God lets people run their own way in rebellion, and sacrifices the rich heritage they have been given.” But Carson is quick to return to the unfolding biblical storyline, and particularly to the parable of the wheat and the tares (Matthew 13:24–30). As Jesus instructs, God lets the wheat (his children) and the tares (his enemies) to grow together until Christ returns to separate and sort it all out in the end.
“Although I don’t want to predict what the course of the future will be in any sort of detail, I will say, if both wheat and tares will grow until the end, I think we will have times and periods of reformation and revival and people coming to know Christ in small and large numbers and whole societies transformed. We will also see, if the Lord tarries long enough, a third world war, more barbarity, more pogroms, more terrible slaughter and rape and pillage and so on. Both will grow to the end. We have just come through the bloodiest century in history. And I can’t think of a single reason why we might not have an even bloodier one this century.
“Thus, we must not pin our hopes on just getting the politics right. At the end of the day, Christ says: ‘I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it’ (Matthew 16:18), and that is true whether in suffering or glorious triumph.”
- Don Carson Responds to the SCOTUS Ruling on (So-Called) Same-Sex Marriage | As a guest on Ask Pastor John, Don Carson responds to the SCOTUS ruling on (so-called) same-sex marriage.
- The Underbelly of Revival? Five Reflections on Failure Among the ‘Young, Restless, Reformed’ | Do the thrill and euphoria of being part of something that feels like revival serve to dull the senses in some? Has the ‘success’ of ‘Young, Restless, Reformed’ blinded many of us to ministry’s true nature?
- Other Messages from 2016 Pastors Conference | Audio and video of messages by Don Carson, John Piper, and others now available.
A Brief Study
παῤῥησία parrhēsía, par-rhay-see’-ah; from G3956 and a derivative of G4483 (Strong’s); all out-spokenness, i.e. frankness, bluntness, publicity; by implication, assurance:—bold (X -ly, -ness, -ness of speech), confidence, × freely, × openly, × plainly(-ness).
“The word παῤῥησί… constantly denotes a freedom, liberty, and constancy of spirit, in speaking or doing anything towards God or men. See Acts. 2:29, 4:13, 4:29; 2 Cor. 3:12; Phil. 1:20; 1 Tim. 3:13.”
Peggy Noonan wrote in her weekly Wall Street Journal column this past December 4th her concerns that
The censorship movement is radical. It is starting to make everyone in the country feel harassed and anxious. It is odd to see candidates miss a rising issue that is giving pause to so many Americans.
I pray someone will address it. Literally, I just did.
This Herescope post is an answer to her prayers. It may be an unexpected answer and a politically incorrect answer, but nevertheless it is a response. It represents an exercise in the right of free speech and freedom of religion.
Noonan, a former speechwriter to President Reagan with conservative credentials, titled her article “The First Amendment Needs Your Prayers.” She was upset about social media reactions during the San Bernardino massacre, “even while it is happening,” especially from a U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (CT) who sent out a message stating, “Your ‘thoughts’ should be about steps to take to stop this carnage. Your ‘prayers’ should be for forgiveness if you do nothing—again.” According to Noonan this heavy-handed ridiculing of people who were praying during the massacre “immediately won a name: ‘prayer shaming.’” Noonan then expressed more concerns:
…Americans are growing weary of being told what they can and cannot publicly say, proclaim and think. We all know what’s going on at the colleges, with the mad little Marats and Robespierres who are telling students and administrators what they are and are not allowed to say or do. This is not just kids acting up at this point, it’s a real censorship movement backed by an ideology that is hostile to the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It is led by students who, though they managed to get into the greatest universities in the country, seem never to have been taught to love the little amendment that guarantees free speech and free religious observance, the two pillars without which America collapses. And too bad, because when you don’t love something you lose it.
It is my impression that what is happening on the campuses is starting to break through as a real threat to what used to be called normal Americans.
A special edition of Check out devoted to some recent posts at my Dad’s blog at rightwithgod.net. Food for the soul at the click of your mouse.
The Greatest Miracle of All
“There is no doubt that the creation of the human nature of Jesus Christ in the womb of the Virgin Mary was the greatest miracle of all. There is nothing to compare with it. Indeed, it is not just a miracle, but an amazing intervention by God in the history of the world.”
Conceived in the Womb of a Sinner, yet without Sin.
“The birth of Jesus, which we make so much of at this time of year is a distorted emphasis. The birth itself was completely normal and natural.”
Another Year Begins.
A call to believers to run the race set before them by God.
The Big Issue for the Unbeliever for 2016
“There is nothing in this life more important than getting right with God, while we have opportunity.”
Redeeming the Time
An excellent reminder as the first month of 2016 starts to slip behind us.
“God is intensely, even fastidiously, interested in the way His child is living. There are many aspects to this. Today we will look at one of these aspects: Walking carefully.”
Reclaiming Love: Radical Relationships in a Complex World by Ajith Fernando ($3.99)
H3 Leadership: Be Humble. Stay Hungry. Always Hustle. by Brad Lomenick ($3.99)
New Atheism: A Survival Guide by Graham Veale ($2.99)
History: A Student’s Guide (Reclaiming the Christian Intellectual Tradition) by Nathan A. Finn ($11.99)
By Aldert Mohler, Jr.
While America’s evangelical Christians are rightly concerned about the secular worldview’s rejection of biblical Christianity, we ought to give some urgent attention to a problem much closer to home–biblical illiteracy in the church. This scandalous problem is our own, and it’s up to us to fix it.
Researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli put the problem squarely: “Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it. And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.” How bad is it? Researchers tell us that it’s worse than most could imagine.
Fewer than half of all adults can name the four gospels. Many Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the disciples. According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments. “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time. They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna, president…..
Read the entire article here.
In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner Wallace examines the classic problem of evil and offers a cumulative case response. In this first of several related broadcasts, J. Warner examines the role eternity and free agency play in helping understand why an all-powerful, all-loving God would allow evil to exist in the universe. For more information about the cumulative case for the existence of God and the problem of evil, see J. Warner’s latest book, God’s Crime Scene. (You can learn more at http://www.ColdCaseChristianity.com)
“Pray for ‘traveling mercies’” is a request which has always driven me crazy. What does it mean?!?! What is a “traveling mercy”?!? Please, Christians, quit using this fad phrase.
False teachers don’t know what real “church” is for. This is a perfect example of the demonic ideas false teachers come up with. I have to really wonder what sort of “pastor” she was married to.
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
An Apology for Apologetics – “My professor of apologetics in seminary told stories of odd reactions he received when he would tell people what he did for a living. The best story involved a bank loan officer. When he told the loan officer that he was a professor of apologetics, she replied, ‘That’s wonderful.’ Then she added, ‘These days, we really do need to teach people how to say they are sorry.’”
A Prayer and a Plea – “Nothing terribly controversial in that prayer, at least not for evangelical Christians. (Yes, this prayer assumes the president is a man, because that’s what the options were on election day in 2012. But let’s take the gender issue off the table for the moment.) If I’m not mistaken, everything in the prayer above is pretty standard. If you are a serious, Bible-believing, church-going, Jesus-is-coming-back, you-need-to-be-born-again, orthodox Christian, don’t you agree it’s a good idea to pray that our president be faithful, kind, humble, wise, and compassionate? I hope every evangelical Christian reading this blog can say, ‘Yes, I pray for those things too.’”
The Character of the Christian: A One-Woman Man – “Today we continue this series on the character of the Christian. We are exploring how the various character qualifications of elders are actually God’s calling on all Christians. While elders are meant to exemplify these traits, all Christians are to display them. I want us to consider whether we are displaying these traits and to learn together how we can pray to have them in greater measure.Our topic today is a qualification Paul repeats in both 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6. The ESV translates it as ‘the husband of one wife,’ a common rendering of the Greek which says, literally, ‘a one-woman man.’”
Tor and the Trinity – “It started with a hijab during Advent, and ends with a foundational lesson in the Trinity. Larycia Hawkins, a professor of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton, decided to wear a hijab to her classes. She explained on Facebook that she did this as part of her “advent worship” in order to demonstrate that she…”
Paper vs pixels: the return of the great ebook debate – “Everyone’s talking about it. Okay, not everyone, but some: Christian über-blogger Tim Challies is definitely (maybe) ditching print books in favor of ebooks. Former Christian publishing CEO turned über-platform builder Michael Hyatt is ditching ebooks in favor of print. Christian über-nice guy Trevin Wax is saying hold up a second, let’s not get crazy here.”
Kofi Adu-Boahen – By Grace Alone
Is it a sin for a Christian to smoke pot?
The latest dopey Evangelical trend: Star Wars Church.
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
ARTICLES I LIKE FROM AROUND THE WEB:
(Click title to go to full article)
The New Sexual World Order Is So Confusing – “My liberal friends—what few remain—regularly remind me of the relentless advance of ‘history’ as it progresses towards a certain eschatological state of complete peace and utter equality. I am told that I, a citizen of the old patriarchy, am to get on the right side of ‘history’ and stop making a fool of myself. I do not want to be a fool, and I have always liked being right, so perhaps it is time to forsake the ways of my fathers and allow myself to be guided by feminist visionaries and gender theorists into the gilded byways of the coming new order. I repent of my sexist and hetero-normative ways. My consciousness-raising has begun.”
Christian Cliches: Backsliding – “My early months as a Christian were a joyous feast of fellowship. There was nothing I loved more than to be with my new brothers and sisters in Christ. Every believer I knew seemed so sanctified and intimate with the Savior. I actually felt intimidated by lives that were seemingly lived on another plane of righteousness to my own sinful struggles. But it didn’t take long before I discovered a sub-culture my Christian peers described as ‘backsliders.’”
The Necessity of Expository Preaching – “According to the legendary golfer Jack Nicklaus, the best thing he ever did was to discover the ‘fundamentalist’ teacher Jack Grout, who taught him the basics that he has followed ever since. Great preachers, like great golfers, follow basic rules. The more they practice these rules, the better they become.”
Abortion: Is It Really a Matter of Life and Death? – “You would think that pro-choice meant that someone would allow the baby to choose whether he or she should live or die (miscarry), but that is not the case. Even while the baby is choosing to live and continuing to develop, some do not respect that choice. And that has brought us to the heat of a debate that rages around the world.”
Kill Your (Celebrity Culture) Worship – “The demise of evangelicalism, megachurches, and orthodox Christianity is regularly announced these days, but I admit I’m a bit skeptical of most of these reports. As a friend of mine is fond of saying, half of all statistics are made up on the spot, and the other half can be made to mean whatever you want them to. Recently there’s been some chatter about the imminent demise of contemporary worship music.”
John Chester – The Humility of The Messiah
Apologia Academy w/James White: Mormonism
Without Christ You’re Dead (Transgender Attacks)
“All death can do to the believer is deliver him to Jesus. It brings us into the eternal presence of our Savior.” – John MacArthur
The New Tolerance Must Crumble, Says Don Carson
One major lesson Carson takes from the Davis controversy is that America is clearly a nation that has “progressively moved away from whatever Judeo-Christian-Deist roots that it once had.” We are increasingly “a nation of millions who vote at once without any distinctive Christian contributions or commitments, voting for things that we will find abominable. We are not there yet, but that is the direction in which things are going.”
The World Needs Pastors
“There is much in life that cannot be fixed, but must simply be endured. Pastors are fitted for this reality. They sit beside their members when the darkness closes in. They help them fight off depression and despair. They offer simple acts of kindness, bringing a bite to eat or a card or a bouquet of flowers. Again, nothing earth-shaking; nothing that anyone is going to term the “Next Big Trend” on the evangelical conference circuit.”
The Blessing of Visiting the Sick
“I am writing this post because, over the past three weeks, I have spent more time at various hospitals (visiting congregants and the family members of congregants) than I have spent in almost every other year of ministry combined.”
Don’t Theologize or Spiritualize Ministry Mediocrity
David Prince challenges us to preach the Word and reform the church.
When our commitment to the primacy of the Word and gospel does not trickle-down to every aspect of congregational life, we are like the obese person lecturing on the primacy of personal fitness or someone living opulent lifestyle lecturing about frugality.
If I’m going to offend people, I want it to be for Gospel reasons only.
Jesus wants Democrats and Republicans to come to him. Socialists and capitalists, the one percent and the 99, black, white, and brown, and he would like them all to feel welcome in your church. Of all the obstacles we can put in people’s way, a political endorsement is the dumbest, and most easily avoidable, of them all.
A Matter of Inches
How about this for a phone call?
The voice told me that my daughter had been run over by a car while walking on campus and that she was going to the hospital in an ambulance.
Life in Twenty Year Stages
This is a neat way of looking at the different seasons of life:
How do we count our days that usually amount to seventy or eighty years? One of many ways is to count by twenty year increments. These time blocks give us a general roadmap and help to order our expectations and sense of responsibility in life as we walk before the Lord and ask him to establish the work of our hands here on earth.
Twelve Extraordinary Women: How God Shaped Women of the Bible, and What He Wants to Do with You by John Macarthur $1.99.
God’s High Calling for Women by John Macarthur $4.61.
The Fred Factor: How passion in your work and life can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary by Mark Sanborn. $1.99. Here’s my one-hour-skim-read weekend book – a light read, lots of stories, and maybe pick up a little nugget or two.
What’s Your Biggest Regret
LifeWay Research conducted a survey to determine, “If the 2016 presidential election were held today, for whom would you vote?”
Protestant pastors who typically identify as Republican favor Ted Cruz. Protestant pastors who identify as Democrat favor Hillary Clinton. However, “Undecided” remains “the most popular choice of America’s pastors according to a new telephone survey of 1,000 Protestant senior pastors,” according to LifeWay Research.
There is much talk about support for Donald Trump among evangelicals, but Ed Stetzer shared, “One of the most surprising findings of our survey was the poor showing of Donald Trump. When it comes to Mr. Trump, there seems to be a huge gap between the pulpit and the pew.”
“Simply put, it’s a bizarre election season,” added Stetzer.
LifeWay shared these findings from the survey:
- Half (54 percent) of Protestant pastors indicate they are Republicans. One in four are independent (23 percent), while one in seven (14 percent) are Democrats.
- Among pastors who are Republicans, Cruz (29 percent) is in the lead, followed by Ben Carson (10 percent), Marco Rubio (8 percent), and Trump (5 percent). Thirty-nine percent are undecided.
- Among pastors who are Democrats, a third favor Clinton (38 percent), one in four (23 percent) favors Bernie Sanders, and 31 percent are undecided.
- Among pastors who are independents, almost 3 of 5 (57%) are undecided. Leading among independents are Cruz and Rubio (8 percent each), Carson and Sanders (6 percent each), Clinton (5 percent), and Trump (4 percent).
- Older pastors (those over 64) are more likely to be undecided (54 percent) than those 18 to 44 (44 percent). They are also more likely to favor Trump (8 percent). Cruz does well with pastors 45 to 54 (21 percent).
- Cruz does better with white pastors (19 percent) than with those of other ethnicities (5 percent). Clinton does the opposite: 5 percent of white pastors favor her, along with 18 percent of pastors of other ethnicities.
- Evangelical pastors prefer Cruz (18 percent), Carson (8 percent), and Rubio (8 percent). Mainline pastors choose Cruz (13 percent), Clinton (10 percent), Sanders (8 percent), and Carson (7 percent).
- Baptist pastors (43 percent) are less likely to be undecided than Lutheran (60 percent) and Pentecostal (61 percent) pastors.
The post If American Pastors Voted Today—This Is Who They’d Elect As President appeared first on ChurchLeaders.com.
In the PragerU video “Where Do Good and Evil Come From?” philosopher Peter Kreeft explains why objective morality can only come from a source higher than anything in the natural world. Enjoy!
(HT: Joe Carter)
- Kelly Martinez describes four ways in which Calvinism differs from Lutheranism. Note to Ms. Martinez: do some research on a topic before writing an article. I think you confused the two in a couple of paragraphs, and the tenets of both are a bit more complex than the descriptions you provide.
- Calvinist Batman tweets: “Can Jesus be kicked out of the Trinity? If you’ve been united with Christ, why do you think that God would throw you out of the family?”
- The Pastor with No Answers welcomes as guests Chris Date from the Rethinking Hell Podcast and Leighton Flowers of Soteriology 101. Makes sense.
- Jon Bloom of Desiring God discusses how to have intimacy with God.
- Are you up to a reading challenge? Perhaps you can keep pace with Tim Challies. He has already read 11 books so far this year. Yeah, I’m a bit behind.
I don’t like writing this kind of post, but I think it’s necessary. I’ve seen too many churches with laypersons (and pastors, for that matter, though I’m focusing on laity with this post) who want to control the show. Here are some markers of those folks:
1. They’ve been at the church for a while. At least in the established church, they assume that their tenure gives them the right to take the lead.
2. They’ve often stepped into leadership voids in the past. Listen to their stories and you’ll often find that they’ve gained control during previous times of transition or turmoil.
3. They want to know everything. Knowledge is empowering, and they expect to be in the loop for everything. I call them “information idolaters.”
4. They don’t listen to opposing views. Particularly in a congregational-polity church, they’ll fight for the right to express their opinion—but then completely dismiss the opinions of others.
5. They demand being a part of every major decision. In fact, they can’t imagine how the church can wisely decide something without their input. Even if they agree with the decision, they’ll find something wrong if they weren’t part of the process.
6. Their support for pastoral leadership blows with the wind. If they like what the pastor’s doing, they’re on board. If they don’t like it, though, they quickly become opposition—always “for the good of the church,” they say.
7. They speak in terms of “some people are saying.” These “people” may be only themselves and their spouses, but the exaggerated phrase “some people” gives them a sense of support.
8. They see the negative more than the positive. They see themselves as God’s appointed prophet to make sure the church never goes astray (with “astray” meaning any direction they don’t want to go).
9. They often use veiled threats against leaders. You’ve probably heard some of them: “People are going to leave”; “We’ll stop giving”; “We’ve seen many pastors come and go” …
10. They seldom talk about the Word or prayer. Indeed, you’ll seldom hear them talk about their personal walk with God. Control freaks don’t usually need God.
11. They often focus on the budget. Controlling the purse strings is a primary way they extend their influence.
12. They’d never admit they’re controlling. In fact, they might not even recognize it. That’s one of the enemy’s subtle ways to mess up the church: He influences control freaks who don’t even recognize what’s happening.
What other characteristics would you add?
- Hm, maybe I should have prayed for traveling mercies.
- If I didn’t know better, I’d say Aimee Byrd of Mortification of Spin snuck a peek at the upcoming episodes of Equipping Eve as she addresses Bible “art journaling” in this recent blog post.
- Allow me to translate for Christine Caine: “Don’t make it complicated, just keep the Law perfectly!” Yeah, let me know how that goes.
- This is nice. Caine’s buddy, Priscilla Shirer, apparently feels free to blaspheme God in an exclamatory manner on social media.
- If he could and if he knew, Martin Luther would be rolling over.
- I’m shocked, positively shocked. Wait…nope…never mind, totally saw this coming.
- Every Christian is a theologian.
- Written to pastors, this is an interesting read: “How long should you stay at your church?”
- Here is your weekly dose of adorable.
- Make sure you’re tuning in to The Truth Pulpit. Pastor Don Green is preaching through a series titled, “God Over All,” and it is one you will not want to miss!
- Phil Johnson and Mike Riccardi recently did a 2-part Q&A session that is full of helpful and interesting discussion. Be sure to listen to Part 1 and Part 2.
- Ah, yes, the Pinterest world of perceived perfection.
- Why we must preach the Word.
- The blasphemy of the rich young ruler:
This weekend’s Kindle deals include The Religions Next Door by Marvin Olasky ($0.99); Beginning at Moses by Michael Barrett ($0.99); Prayers of an Excellent Wife by Andrew Case ($0.99); Preaching with Passion by James Draper ($0.99); The Little Handbook to Perfecting the Art of Christian Writing by Don Aycock ($0.99).
This is an important challenge to churches that love good preaching. “Why is it that so many churches that profess a commitment to the primacy of expository preaching, settle for mediocrity in so many other facets of the church’s ministry?”
And speaking of preaching, read this one by Steve Lawson. “Satan has no greater strongholds than houses of worship where the truth is suppressed. Nowhere is he more deeply entrenched in the lives of people than among those who are religious but who have no supernatural light of holiness and truth.”
This is a good article to read if you are concerned about what digital reading is doing to us. “The history of reading suggests that what we’re presently experiencing is probably not the end times of human thought. It’s more like an interregnum, or the crouch before a leap.”
Yes, 75 of them. I approve of reading being at the top.
Here’s why the iPad and other tablets are slowly going extinct. I don’t see them disappearing anytime soon, but they do seem to be in decline. I don’t want to go back to preaching off of paper!
Nick Batzig tells of the unexpected blessing of visiting the sick.
Tomorrow in 1892. 124 years ago tomorrow, extraordinary Baptist preacher Charles Spurgeon died. *
I enjoyed this short video on the word “hearse.” It fascinates me to learn how words transform in meaning over time.
Westminster Books is offering a deal on Donald Whitney’s book on family worship. It’s a good one to buy in bulk and distribute in your church.
My gratitude goes to Finalweb for sponsoring the blog this week with an article titled “iPhones, Androids, and Your Church.”
We are saved by the gospel of God to worship the God of the gospel. —Fred Sanders
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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