Daily Archives: February 17, 2017

Former SBC President’s Church Defunds The SBC

Another day, another report about the problems in the Southern Baptist Convention.

According to The Message, the official newspaper of Louisiana Baptists, a story reported on February 16, 2017 that former Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham, pastor of the 41,000-member Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, has led his congregation to suspend the church’s support of the SBC’s Cooperative Program.

“Prestonwood Baptist Church has announced its decision to escrow gifts previously forwarded to support Southern Baptist cooperative missions and ministries while the congregation discusses concerns about the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention.” (Source)

There’s as much certainty that Prestonwood’s actions will receive prompt attention within the CP-funded ivory towers of SBC elitedom as there was of Christ’s certainty of Judas’ betrayal.  Prestonwood contributes nearly $1 million annually to CP coffers.

It was just back in January when former Tennessee Baptist Convention President Dean Haun led his church to do the same. (Go HERE for more) Haun, a former trustee of the SBC’s International Missions Board, and his church decided to escrow their financial support until a satisfactory response to the IMB’s 2016 participation in a religious liberty amicus brief supporting a mosque’s construction in New Jersey was forthcoming.  On Wednesday, February 15, IMB President David Platt issued an “apology” of sorts for the “divisive and distracting” results of his agency’s signatory role in the legal filing.

But the IMB was not the only SBC agency serving as a signatory alongside the interfaith array of the brief’s supporters.  Joining legal hands with the likes of The Interfaith Coalition on Mosques, the International Society of Krishna Awareness, and The Sikh Coalition, the SBC’s IMB was also heartily joined in the brief by its Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) under the leadership of Russell Moore.

Pastor Jack Graham

Graham’s church, according to The Message article, cites the SBC’s mosque support as instrumental in its concerns about “the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention.”   The church’s primary concern, at least as has been reported, may seem primarily focused on the activity of the ERLC and Russell Moore.

Prestonwood’s Executive Pastor, Mike Buster, referred to “various significant positions taken by the leadership of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission that do not reflect the beliefs and values of many in the Southern Baptist Convention.”

Not only did the ERLC, under Russell Moore, brashly and arrogantly rebuke a pastor for questioning its participation in its mosque-building alliance, Moore has also been an outspoken critic of now-President Trump.  Moore publicly denigrated Christians who would support Trump, and, as it turns out, many of those Trump-supporters just happened to be Cooperative Program-givers. Southern Baptist pew sitters supported Trump by the hordes while annually funding a nearly $4m SBC agency that was actively lobbying against them all the while, and caricaturing them as “the old-school political Religious Right.”

The article highlights Moore’s disdain for those who effectively pay his salary, citing his own words about them during the campaign season.  Trump voters, he said, “may well be drunk right now, and haven’t been into a church since someone invited them to Vacation Bible School sometime back when Seinfeld was in first-run episodes.”

However, Graham noted that his church’s concerns are not focused singularly on “one personality.”  Stating that he’s “not angry at the SBC,” Graham emphasized that an “uneasiness” exists in his church’s leadership about the “disconnect between some of our denominational leaders and our churches.”

“We’re just concerned about the direction of the Southern Baptist Convention, and feel the need to make some changes in the way we give.”  Jack Graham

Indeed, there is much to be concerned about in the SBC.  Its downgrade performance of the last decade is no doubt highlighted by the exodus of over 1 million members from its ranks.  But, that’s what happens when Scripture is lauded, but not obeyed.  It’s what happens when churches become more concerned with church growth techniques than Biblical obedience and trusting Christ to build His Church.  And it’s what happens when churches, and their denomination, don’t exalt His name and His Word as He has done.

The shame of it is, perhaps, that money seems to matter more than that Name and than that Word.  There will be more to this story, to be sure.  Please, pray for the SBC, for its leaders, for its pastors and its church leadership, and for it to be convicted to preach the Word (2 Timothy 4:2), to teach what accords with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1), and to contend for the faith once for all delivered. (Jude 3)

You have exalted above all things your name and your word.”  Psalm 138:2

And until more SBC churches do as the Psalmist stated, perhaps more should do as Haun and Graham’s churches have done … because it sure seems like the Word of God isn’t getting the point across …

[Contributed by Bud Ahlheim]


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Forgiven People Forgive

Well, we’re back to our series on dealing with sin in the church from Paul’s instructions to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 2:5–11. If you haven’t read the other posts in this series, I’d encourage you to do so. We’ve been moving through the stages of faithful, successful discipline, and have seen three of them so far. First, there is the harmful sin that makes discipline necessary; second, there’s the corporate discipline itself; and third, there is, we hope, genuine repentance. The fourth stage, after there has been genuine repentance, is comforting forgiveness. Paul says, “Sufficient for such a one is this punishment which was inflicted by the majority, 7so that on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.”

Here we glean a principle that needs to take root in the soil of every Christian’s heart: where there is repentance, there is forgiveness. When a sinner repents, the church forgives. And though the original events of this text lead us to apply this principle first of all to cases of corporate church discipline, we all need to hear this point in light of our own duty to forgive those who sin against us personally. When a sinner repents, Christians forgive.

Requiring Penance?

But the Corinthians weren’t not abiding by this principle. Remember, they had come to grips with how serious it was for them to take sides with the offender against the Apostle Paul. Through Paul’s severe letter (cf. 2 Cor 2:4), they had experienced that godly sorrow that leads to repentance. 2 Corinthians 7:11 speaks about the fruit of Corinthians’ godly sorrow and genuine repentance as it related to the offender: “For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong!” Though they had been hesitant to discipline the man who had challenged Paul’s authority, they were now indignant with him. Paul speaks of their zeal, and their avenging of wrongdoing in this matter of disciplining this person.

And by the grace of God, corporate discipline had had its intended effect; it brought this sinning brother to repentance. But the Corinthians weren’t satisfied. They refused to forgive him and welcome him back into the church. And the fact that Paul says the punishment was sufficient (2 Cor 2:6), and “on the contrary you should rather forgive and comfort him” (2 Cor 2:7) implies that they were looking to impose even severer punishment. They believed that he needed to suffer further before being restored to the church. He needed to be made to wallow in the grief of his sin. In a real sense, the Corinthians were demanding that this man do penance. His repentance was not enough; they were requiring that he now further “atone” for his sins by suffering further shame, grief, and sorrow. Once he had felt bad enough about his sin, well then they would welcome him back.

It is Finished

But such self-atoning penance is no more acceptable to the true church than it is to God Himself. Think for a moment about the times when you find yourself on your face before God, confessing a familiar sin to Him and asking for forgiveness again. He has every right to be indignant with you. He has every right to rake you over the coals for sinning against Him again—especially after He has forgiven you countless times for that same sin. But when you come to your Father in repentance, seeking forgiveness for your sins and restored fellowship with Him, He doesn’t require you to perform a laundry list of duties before He welcomes you back. He doesn’t say, “Nope, you need to sit in the dog house a little while and feel worse about what you’ve done.”

And why not? Because Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient atonement for all your sins. When the Son of God received in Himself the full exercise of His Father’s wrath against the sins of His people, He did not fail to pay for a single one of your sins. He didn’t dodge the slightest stroke of His Father’s rod. He drank every last drop of that miserable cup, and cried, “It is finished!” There is nothing more that you could do to pay for your sins. And to suppose that you can pay for them—whether it be by reciting Hail Marys, or by wallowing in your grief trying to feel sorry enough so God will take you back—is nothing short of blasphemy. You could fill the oceans with sorrow, and there would never be enough sorrow to atone for even a single sin.

And if that is the case with God’s forgiveness of you, dear Christian, how could it be any different with your forgiveness of your brothers and sisters? Or how could a church demand from its members more than God Himself demands of them? When a sinner repents, church discipline has achieved the purpose for which it was instituted. For the church to withhold forgiveness at that point is to abandon the remedial and restorative blessings of discipline, and to move into cruel domineering, as Calvin said. Philip Edgcumbe Hughes writes,

“Discipline which is so inflexible as to leave no place for repentance and reconciliation has ceased to be truly Christian; for it is no less a scandal to cut off the penitent sinner from all hope of re-entry into the comfort and security of the fellowship of the redeemed community than it is to permit flagrant wickedness to continue unpunished in the Body of Christ” (66–67).

Swallowed Up in Despair

The fruit of that kind of domineering over-lordship is utter despair. Paul says, “Forgive him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.” “Overwhelmed” is the Greek term for “swallowed,” “drowned,” or “devoured.” Paul is concerned that this repentant man be forgiven and comforted, lest he be swallowed up and drowned by excessive sorrow. Now, it might sound a bit melodramatic, but think for a moment about the sheer power of the despair for ever being forgiven. If you have sinned grievously, and, because of your stubborn refusal of the correction of your brothers and sisters, have been put out of the fellowship of the church, but now by the grace of God you have owned your folly as sin and have sought to abandon your error and be restored to God’s people, and you go to them expressing repentance, but they tell you that you’re not forgiven and still not welcome——how helpless and alone would you feel?

You would feel as if there is absolutely nothing that could ever be done to help your estate. It’s one thing to feel like a stranger and alien among the world; they are of their father and you are of yours. But to be made to feel like you’re a stranger and alien even among the people of God is an unbearable thought. It would be to make a spiritual orphan out of you. How long would it be before your flesh convinced you that there’s no point to repentance—no point to pursuing holiness at all? If repentance from sin gets you isolated and cut off from the people of God, it will only be a matter of time before you plunge headlong into sin without any hope of ever being restored to fellowship. Friends, the power to fight sin comes from the freedom of Christ’s forgiveness. For the church to withhold forgiveness from repentant sinners is to imprison those whom Christ had made free—to cripple them, to weigh them down with despair.

That kind of sorrow devours a person; it swallows him up. Just as properly-administered discipline brings godly sorrow, so poorly-administered discipline brings worldly sorrow. “Godly sorrow,” Paul says, “produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Cor 7:10). God doesn’t mean for believers to be totally consumed by grief over their sin; He wants them to experience the godly sorrow that leads to a repentance without regret. Excessive sorrow can be so unbearable that it even leads to death (e.g., Matt 27:3–5).

And so Paul says to “forgive and comfort him.” As surely as correction and discipline are to follow sin, forgiveness is to follow repentance. Just as it is grossly unfaithful for a church to fail to deal with sin in its midst by failing to administer discipline, it is just as grossly unfaithful for a church to fail to forgive a sinner who repents. Charles Hodge captured it nicely when he wrote, “Undue severity is as much to be avoided as undue leniency.”

Forgiven People Forgive

Undue severity just as unfaithful as undue leniency because it is so outrageously out of tune with the Gospel. I’ve always been struck by the utter wisdom of the Holy Spirit to place the parable of the unmerciful slave immediately after Christ’s teaching on church discipline.

Back in Matthew 18, immediately after Christ finishes speaking about binding and loosing, Peter pipes up. And he asks, not, “Lord, how many times should I be forgiven if I’m a bonehead and sin against my brother over and over again?” but, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” And Jesus said, “Not seven times, but seventy times seven. As often as there is repentance, so often is there to be forgiveness.”

And then he tells the story of a man who owed his master an incalculable debt; ten thousand talents was equivalent to 150,000 years’ wages. He couldn’t pay the debt, so he and his family were to be sold into slavery. The man threw himself to the ground and begged his master to give him time to pay. And the master had such compassion on him that he didn’t just give him time to pay, but forgave the entire debt! But then the slave came across one of his fellow slaves who owed him a hundred denarii—equivalent to about 100 days’ wages—and he grabbed his friend by the throat and demanded to be paid! And just as he had done with his master, his friend fell to the ground and begged him to give him time to pay. And this man, who had just been forgiven, threw his fellow slave in prison until he was paid back a debt that was 0.000183% of the debt that he was just forgiven!

What would you say about such a man? Absurd! Wicked! No appreciation whatsoever of what it meant to be forgiven! Well, the other slaves went and told the master what this man had done. And he summoned his slave to him and said, “You wicked slave, I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. Should you not also have had mercy on your fellow slave, in the same way that I had mercy on you?” (Matt 18:32–33). And then Jesus comments, “And his lord, moved with anger, handed him over to the torturers until he should repay all that was owed him. My heavenly Father will also do the same to you, if each of you does not forgive his brother from your heart” (Matt 18:34–35).

Friends, we who have been declared righteous in Christ have been forgiven an incalculable debt. Not 150,000  years, but eternity. And not in a debtor’s prison, but in hell itself. That is the just payment that our sins deserved. And because of the unspeakable grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ, we don’t pay a thing! We have been forgiven! And yet what happens? We are so prideful, that when our brother or sister sins against us, we are intransigent: “It isn’t right! She sinned against me! And I demand justice!”

And people try to reason with you. “But she’s come and confessed. She’s admitted her sin and has asked for your forgiveness.”

“I don’t care! She’s not getting off that easy!”

Now, you don’t always give voice to that kind of severity, but whenever you refuse to forgive someone who has come to you in repentance and has asked for your forgiveness, that is what’s going on in your heart.

Do you understand the Gospel? Do you understand the unspeakable magnitude of your sin against a holy God? Do you understand that the perfect sacrifice of Christ has paid your debt, so that you are forgiven? Then how in the world can you, who have sinned against God and have been spared the tortures of hell, refuse to forgive such an insignificant crime committed against yourself, and insist on your pound of flesh?

It simply cannot happen. For those who have truly experienced the forgiveness that the Gospel brings, it is a delight to extend forgiveness to others. Those who’ve been forgiven by God are eager to forgive those who sin against them, because it gives them an opportunity to be an imitator of their Father. That’s why Jesus says, “If you forgive others, God will forgive you, but if you don’t forgive others God won’t forgive you” (Matt 6:14–15). He’s not saying that salvation is conditioned upon forgiveness. He’s saying that if you can profess to be forgiven of such an incalculable debt as eternity in hell, and then refuse forgiveness to those who come to you in repentance, then you give evidence that your heart is a stranger to the grace of God in Christ, and that you aren’t even a believer yourself.

Ephesians 4:32: “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also as forgiven you.”

Colossians 3:12–13: “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.”

Do you see the way Scripture reasons? Forgiven people forgive.


And so Paul says, “The punishment already past is sufficient. He’s repented. Forgive this man, and comfort him, otherwise he might be swallowed up by sorrow and despair.”

“But Paul, don’t you remember how he stood up and defied you in front of the whole church—”

“Don’t worry about me. I’ve forgiven him—if even there was anything to forgive” (cf. 2 Cor 2:10).

“Anything to forgive? How can you say that?”

“Dear friends, because I am ever so conscious of the sin that I’ve been forgiven by Christ. And in light of the cross, sin against me looks a thing so miniscule and infinitesimal that I’m not sure it even registers as a crime.” That’s how forgiven people talk.

Do you talk like that? And more than talk like it: do you act like that? And even more than acting like it: does your heart pulse with that kind of forgiving spirit? Is it the reflex of your heart to forgive a sinning brother or sister? That is the kind of forgiving that we, as forgiven people, are called to. May we fix our eyes so firmly on our own forgiveness that we delight to extend something of that forgiveness to others.

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February 17, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


Top News – 2/17/2017

Barren Island volcano erupts again in Andaman Sea
India’s only active volcano in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands is erupting once again. The Barren Island volcano, located about 140km northeast of Port Blair, started erupting in 1991 after a dormant phase of over 150 years and has shown intermittent activity since then. A team of scientists led by National Institute Of Oceanography’s Dr Abhay Mudholkar said that the volcano is active and spewing smoke and lava once again.

Woolly mammoth will be back from extinction within two years, say Harvard scientists
“De-extincting” the mammoth has become a realistic prospect because of revolutionary gene editing techniques that allow the precise selection and insertion of DNA from specimens frozen over millennia in Siberian ice.

Netanyahu: Trump meeting ‘historic’, we see eye-to-eye
Prime Minister says Trump administration ‘a new age’ in US-Israel relations, says he and the president have same views on the region. “I think it was a historical meeting,” said Netanyahu. “It was a meeting of the minds and a meeting of the hearts.”

Trump Signs Bill Repealing Another Obama-era Environmental Regulation
President Trump on Thursday signed a bill getting rid of an Obama-era coal mining rule, the second environmental regulation he nixed from the previous administration this week.

Comment: How Trump and Netanyahu resurrected the two state solution
…While it is true that Trump said he was open to two states or one state…he said the word “deal” in the Israeli-Palestinian context a dozen times at the press conference. A “deal,” if we consider the Palestinian’s position, removes the possibility of a one state…that leave us with…A two-state solution. Add to this what both leaders said about a larger-scale regional deal – what Trump called a “terrific thing” – that would include the Gulf states, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, and not just the Palestinians.

Nasrallah warns: Hezbollah’s missiles can hit Israel’s nuclear reactor
Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah called on Israel to dismantle its nuclear reactor in Dimona on Thursday, warning that it poses a threat to Israel’s existence should it be hit by one of Hezbollah’s missiles. Nasrallah made a similar threat against Haifa’s ammonia tank last year, saying that a missile hitting the facility could have the affect of a nuclear bomb. Last week, a Haifa court ordered the tank closed, citing the security threat.

Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine attack prompts Pakistan security crackdown
Pakistan says dozens of militants have been killed in a security crackdown following Thursday’s attack on a shrine that left at least 80 people dead. Some 18 militants were killed in southern Sindh province, where the Sufi shrine is located, and another 13 in the north-west, officials said. A suicide bomber blew himself up among devotees at the Sufi shrine in the town of Sehwan.

Baghdad car bomb kills at least 48
At least 48 people have been killed in Baghdad in the third blast in the Iraqi capital in three days, security and medical sources say. A car packed with explosives blew up near car dealerships in the Shia area of Bayaa in the south of the city. More than 50 people were injured. The Islamic State (IS) group claimed the attack, saying it targeted “a gathering of Shias”.

Israel-Palestinian conflict: US ‘thinking outside box’
The US ambassador to the UN has said her country “absolutely” supports the idea of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. But Nikki Haley also said the Trump administration was “thinking outside the box as well”, suggesting it was open to other possible solutions. For many years, the US has advocated the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel.

Facebook algorithms ‘will identify terrorists’
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has outlined a plan to let artificial intelligence (AI) software review content posted on the social network. In a letter describing the plan, he said algorithms would eventually be able to spot terrorism, violence, bullying and even prevent suicide. He admitted Facebook had previously made mistakes in the content it had removed from the website.

Richland florist discriminated against gay couple by refusing service, state Supreme Court rules
A Richland florist who refused to provide flowers to a gay couple for their wedding violated anti-discrimination law, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The court ruled unanimously that Barronelle Stutzman discriminated against longtime customers Rob Ingersoll and Curt Freed when she refused to do the flowers for their 2013 wedding because of her religious opposition to same-sex marriage.

Atmospheric River taking aim on beleaguered #OrovilleDam
We’ve already had two big events like this so far this year, now forecasts show a clear pattern of a heavily moisture laden “atmospheric river” taking aim directly onto the Oroville Dam watershed over the next week. Accumulated precipitation forecasts show that the Lake Orovile watershed will score a direct hit with the maximum amount of precipitation over the next 10 days…

Europe must not bow to U.S. spending demands on NATO: EU’s Juncker
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that Europe must not cave in to U.S demands to raise military spending, arguing that development and humanitarian aid could also count as security. U.S. President Donald Trump has raised questions about his commitment to the NATO defense alliance if European countries do not raise defense spending to 2 percent of economic output. The United States puts up 70 percent of alliance funds.

Over 9,000 People Sign Petition Urging Trump to Expel Soros From US
George Soros is a billionaire as well as the founder of the Open Society Foundations philanthropic organization, which “supports democracy and human rights in more than 100 countries.” Opponents of Soros accuse him of interfering in internal relations of foreign countries and supporting revolutions there.

Mark Zuckeberg Rejects “America First”, Calls For Global Community
Hot on the heels of retailers who have halted sales of Ivanka Trump’s clothing line in protest against Trump (and free marketing buzz), the tech “resistance” against Trump got its lead from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckeberg who on Thursday posted a lengthy note “rebuking isolationist “America First” sentiment, and touting the merits of globalization and a “global community” working for innovation and progress.”

Russia violated a ‘key cornerstone’ of arms control — and it may cause a nuclear arms race
(A Russian serviceman walks past Russian Iskander-M missile launchers before a rehearsal for the Victory Day parade in Moscow.Thomson Reuters) Prominent US senators and defense analysts are calling for the US to respond to Russia’s recent deployment of nuclear cruise missiles by deploying missiles of its own to Europe.

Islamic State suicide bombing at Pakistan shrine kills 75
An Islamic State suicide bomber struck inside a famed shrine in southern Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least 75 people in the deadliest attack in the country in more than two years.

There’s a Wire Above Manhattan That You’ve Probably Never Noticed
It’s hard to imagine that anything literally hanging from utility poles across Manhattan could be considered “hidden,” but throughout the borough, about 18 miles of translucent wire stretches around the skyline, and most people have likely never noticed. It’s called an eruv (plural eruvin), and its existence is thanks to the Jewish Sabbath.

102 ‘Lost’ Indian Jews Immigrating to Israel This Week
One-hundred and two members of India’s Bnei Menashe community are arriving in Israel this week, marking the latest group of so-called “lost” Jews to make aliyah (immigrate to Israel).

New video details how Amazon.com SPIES on your most private thoughts, fetishes
Amazon.com isn’t merely a massive retailer; it’s also a dangerous spy machine that collects detailed profiles of your most private thoughts, fetishes and conversations.

A Civil War For Control Of The U.S. Government Has Erupted Between ‘The Deep State’ And Donald Trump

Spy Espionage - Public DomainThe ruthless political assassination of Michael Flynn was just one battle of a major civil war that has erupted for control of the U.S. government. Donald Trump and his new administration are now under relentless assault by “the deep state”, and at this point it is not clear who will emerge as the victor. There are many that use the term “deep state” as a synonym for the intelligence community, but the truth is that it is much broader than that. In reality, the deep state encompasses thousands upon thousands of unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats that never seem to change no matter which party wins an election. Certainly the intelligence community is at the heart of this system, but there are countless others that are embedded within key government agencies and the Pentagon that deeply resent Donald Trump and the kind of change that he is attempting to bring to Washington. (Read More…)

This Week The ‘Arch Of Baal’ Was Displayed For The Third Time In Honor Of ‘The World Government Summit’

Baal Arch - ScreenshotDid you know that 4,000 world leaders from 130 different countries gathered in Dubai this week for the World Government Summit? It was held from February 12th to February 14th, and it featured more than 100 internationally-known speakers including UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, Christine Lagarde and Elon Musk. If you would like to know more about this shadowy group, you can visit the official website right here. The first World Government Summit was held back in 2013, and that one was actually attended by Barack Obama. Unfortunately the mainstream media in the United States was almost entirely silent about this summit, so most of us in the western world didn’t even hear about it. (Read More…)

This Is One Of The Big Reasons Why So Many Families Are Feeling Extreme Financial Stress

Inflation Blackboard - Public DomainWhen the cost of living rises faster than paychecks do year after year, eventually that becomes a very big problem.  For quite some time I have been writing about the shrinking middle class, and one of the biggest culprits is inflation.  Every month, tens of millions of American families struggle to pay the bills, and most of them don’t even understand the economic forces that are putting so much pressure on them.  The United States never had a persistent, ongoing problem with inflation until the debt-based Federal Reserve system was introduced in 1913.  Since that time, we have had non-stop inflation and the U.S. dollar has lost more than 98 percent of its value.  If our paychecks were increasing faster than inflation this wouldn’t be a problem, but in recent years this has definitely not been the case for most Americans. (Read More…)

11 Deeply Alarming Facts About America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Traffic Jam Los Angeles - Photo by PrayitnoNo matter what your particular political perspective is, if there is one thing that virtually everyone in the United States can agree upon it is the fact that America’s infrastructure is crumbling.  Previous generations of Americans conquered an entire continent and erected the greatest system of infrastructure that the world had ever seen, but now thousands upon thousands of those extremely impressive infrastructure projects are decades old and in desperate need of repair or upgrading.  The near catastrophic failure of the Oroville Dam is a perfect example of what I am talking about.  We should be constructing the next generation of infrastructure projects for our children and our grandchildren, but instead we are in such sorry shape that we can’t even keep up with the maintenance and upkeep on the great infrastructure projects that have been handed down to us. (Read More…)

House Votes to Overturn Obama Admin Rule Banning States From Defunding Planned Parenthood

Christian News reports:

The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to overturn a rule issued by the Obama administration that bans states from defunding the abortion and contraception giant Planned Parenthood.

Congress used its authority under the Congressional Review Act, which allows the legislative branch to overturn orders issued within the past 60 days. It agreed 228-188, under House Joint Resolution 43, to return power to the states to distribute Title X funding as they see fit.

“This resolution does not cut a dime from family planning funding available to states. It simply enables states to direct the funding towards non-abortion, whole-women health care providers,” explained Rep. Vicky Hartzler, R-Mo.

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The Briefing 02-17-17

Washington state Supreme Court rules against Christian florist Barronnelle Stutzman in gay wedding case

6th Circuit says Christian prayer at public meetings unconstitutional, challenging SCOTUS precedent

Church of England on the precipice of rejecting 2000 years of Christian teaching on homosexuality

The post The Briefing 02-17-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

February 16, 2017
WALL STREET JOURNAL — U.S. intelligence officials have withheld sensitive intelligence from President Donald Trump because they are concerned it could be leaked or compromised, according to current and former officials familiar with the matter…. (more)

February 16, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — The Trump White House and the U.S. intelligence community moved closer to open warfare in the wake of National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s spectacular downfall – – and the fallout is unnerving key American intelligence partners around the world, according to several high-level national security sources…. (more)

February 16, 2017
BYRON YORK — I spent much of Wednesday talking and corresponding with Republicans in various states of anxiety about the latest revelations concerning the Trump campaign and Russia. Some put more credence in the allegations than others. All thought the leaks of national security intercepts behind the news stories were outrageous, and that the leakers should be punished. But even for those most inclined to support President Trump, there was still a nagging fear that the stories might be true…. (more)

February 16, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — Let’s hear the tape. The Flynn affair is a tale of intrigue, with head-spinning twists and turns, manipulative spies, narrative-weaving pols, and strategists who mostly outsmart themselves. It is easy to get lost in the weeds. There is one easy way to get to the bottom of it, though – – one way to get a real sense of whether General Michael Flynn, the now-former national-security adviser, is a lying rogue who deceived every Trump administration official in sight, or the victim of an elaborate “deep state” scam whose real objective is to destroy not merely Flynn but the Trump presidency…. (more)

February 16, 2017

CHERYL CHUMLEY — With Barack Obama gone, and the future of Obamacare on shaky ground, the Internal Revenue Service has quietly decided, in all its President Donald Trump-era wisdom, to stop turning away filers who fail to provide the once-required proof of health-insurance coverage on their tax forms…. (more)

February 16, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — A large number of non-citizen Hispanics, as many as 2 million, were illegally registered to vote in the U.S., according to a nationwide poll. The National Hispanic Survey provides additional evidence for use by anti-voter fraud conservatives and bolsters an analysis by professors at Old Dominion University who say non-citizens registered and voted in potentially large numbers…. (more)

February 16, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Hispanic voters support President Trump’s new focus on deporting illegal immigrants with criminal records and punishing some 300 cities that grant “sanctuary” to undocumented criminals, according to a new poll. The survey for Secure America Now found that 56 percent of Hispanic voters approve of deporting criminal illegals. Some 31 percent don’t…. (more)

February 15, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — President Donald Trump’s controversial complaint that the intelligence community was using police-state tactics against him has been confirmed in the forced resignation of his national security adviser Michael T. Flynn. When Trump made his complaint, he was referring to leaks of potentially damaging information about him from an unverified dossier…. (more)

February 15, 2017

FRANK MAGUIRE — Back in 2010, I became associated with RenewAmerica.com. One major reason was that I came to know the wonderful Christian woman and exquisite writer, Bonnie Alba. Bonnie and I shared thoughts and ideas for a number of years, and right up until her demise, Bonnie and my wife Helen were Facebook friends…. (more)

February 15, 2017

NEIL BRIAN GOLDBERG — Has there ever, ever been such an all-out assault by every element of the press, the media, the teachers (and thus the students and the schools), the entertainment industry, the judiciary, the betrayers in his own party, and the world press on any president in history?… (more)

February 15, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump forced Michael Flynn to resign as national security adviser because of broken trust, not broken laws, the White House said Tuesday, trying to clean up the mess after the first major shake-up of the administration. The explanations, however, failed to quell calls from both sides of the aisle to expand the Senate probe into Russian email hacks during the presidential campaign to Mr. Flynn’s contacts with Russian officials, including possibly calling him in to testify…. (more)

February 15, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — The White House’s national security adviser resigned Monday night and President Trump tapped retired Lt. Gen. Joseph Keith Kellogg Jr. to serve as acting adviser in his place, in the first major shakeup of the still-young administration…. (more)

February 15, 2017

DAVID FRENCH — If Donald Trump doesn’t understand now, he will eventually. Integrity and truth ultimately do matter, and if he wants to be a successful president, he’s going to have to appoint people to high office who won’t violate the public’s trust…. (more)

February 15, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Even if President Trump can’t convince the courts to approve his extreme vetting executive order, he may have another tool at his disposal that would allow him to strip visas from some of the seven countries he’s trying to target, crackdown supporters say…. (more)

February 15, 2017
CHERYL CHUMLEY — Let the bombshells begin. Nonpartisan government watchdog outfit Judicial Watch just announced its receipt of 216 pages of documents containing the private email messages of former Homeland Security director Jeh Johnson, as well as those of three other top agency officials…. (more)

February 15, 2017
BOB UNRUH — Texas pastors – – who stopped a lesbian mayor’s social agenda in Houston by taking it to voters – – are responding to not-so-veiled threats from the National Football League that the Lone Star State must promote transgenderism through an open-bathrooms policy…. (more)

February 15, 2017
BOB UNRUH — Abortion-industry giant Planned Parenthood “treated women like cattle,” according to a former insider. The comment came on Tuesday as part of the release of more videos from the pro-life group Live Action, whose president, Lila Rose, is raising various issues about what she calls the “Abortion Corporation” just as Congress is considering transferring some $500 million in taxpayer funds from the abortionists at Planned Parenthood to other community health centers that provide a wide range of health services…. (more)

February 15, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — A bill that would require the fathers of unborn children to approve abortions is under consideration in Oklahoma, in a move seen by pro-life advocates as an attempt to bring men back into the parenting fold but by pro-choice activists as an unconstitutional provision that takes autonomy away from women. Oklahoma state Rep. Justin Humphrey… (more)

February 15, 2017
CAL THOMAS — My wife of 51 years passed away last Saturday after a long battle against multiple health issues. We met in the musical theater. She was in it. I wanted to be on stage. I have a passable singing voice. Her contralto voice was powerful and perfectly pitched. She could hit the back seats without amplification. She traveled with some of Broadway’s biggest stars on the summer stock circuit, but ultimately chose another life – – a life with me and our four children…. (more)

February 15, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — President Trump took a victory lap with Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Tuesday, saying her confirmation after “a very unfair trial” in the Senate will benefit students nationwide by expanding school choice…. (more)

February 13, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — She endorsed him, and he paid respects at her funeral, but it appears that President Donald Trump hasn’t read Phyllis Schlafly’s book The Supremacists: The Tyranny of Judges and How to Stop It. Rather than simply Tweet his disgust with rulings against his immigration executive order, Trump and his advisers should read the book, especially Schlafly’s Chapter 15. It offers a series of measures, including impeachment, to stop tyrannical judges…. (more)

February 13, 2017

WASHINGTON TIMES — At least 72 convicted terrorists came from the seven countries President Trump targeted in his extreme vetting executive order, according to a new report this weekend that directly undercut part of the courts’ rulings halting the program…. (more)

February 13, 2017
PAUL BEDARD — Since 9/11, 72 individuals from the seven mostly Muslim countries covered by President Trump’s “extreme vetting” executive order have been convicted of terrorism, bolstering the administration’s immigration ban…. (more)

February 13, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — The State Department has more than doubled the rate of refugees from Iraq, Syria and other suspect countries in the week since a federal judge’s reprieve, in what analysts said appears to be a push to admit as many people as possible before another court puts the program back on ice…. (more)

February 13, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — Do you think Islam needs reform?” Wouldn’t it be interesting, wouldn’t it get us to the crux of the immigration debate, if our best news anchors – – I’m looking at you, Chris Wallace and Bret Baier – – would put that question to every major politician in Washington?… (more)

Top Headlines – 2/17/2017

  • ‘In Trump We Trust’ Is Market Mantra as Turmoil Besets White House (Read More)
  • World stocks lose momentum after record-breaking week (Read More)
  • As Tax Debate Heats Up, Lawmakers Struggle to Think of a Plan B (Read More)
  • Mnuchin Warned as G-20 Sees New Economic Order (Read More)
  • Deutsche Bank examined Donald Trump’s account for Russia links (Read More)
  • Stop hurling insults and listen, Pope Francis tells politicians (Read More)
  • Carney, Wrong on Brexit, May Have Called Consumer Collapse Right (Read More)
  • SCOTUS to frame Trump’s immigration plans (Read More)
  • Trump Assails Critics as Russia Questions Mount (Read More)
  • French Bonds Drop on Potential Left-Wing Candidacy Merger (Read More)
  • S&P downgrade warning sends Toshiba shares falling (Read More)
  • Meet the Gold Rush Towns at Risk of Flooding From California Dam (Read More)
  • Kremlin says not disappointed by how U.S-Russia ties are developing (Read More)
  • Kraft Heinz to pursue merger despite Unilever rejection (Read More)
  • Hurdles Mount for Saudi Aramco’s IPO (Read More)
  • Malaysia says needs kin’s DNA before releasing Kim Jong Nam’s body (Read More)
  • Theranos Had $200 Million in Cash Left at Year-End (Read More)
  • Congress Tests Trump Officials on Trade (Read More)
  • Zuckerberg Lays Out Vision for Facebook in New Mission Statement (Read More)
  • Pakistan crackdown after suicide attack claimed by Islamic State (Read More)

Germany says settlement construction could lead to war

Justice minister vows new settlement will be built

Netanyahu: Settlements ‘an issue, not the issue’ in conflict

UN: Israel-Palestinian conflict must not drift to extremism

A broader Israel-Arab deal – rare opportunity or diversion?

Arab-Israeli MK: In case of one-state solution, I would be prime minister

PLO official: Alternative to two-state solution is ‘painful bloodshed’

US ambassador to UN contradicts Trump’s position on two-state solution

US ‘absolutely’ favors 2-state solution, UN ambassador says

After Tillerson meet, France says US position on Mideast peace “confused and worrying”

World leaders hoping for clarity on US policy at Munich security meet

Netanyahu’s ‘betrayal,’ Trump’s ‘one state, two state’ rile Israeli press

Netanyahu on two-state solution: “Labels are not important”

Hezbollah says Trump-Netanyahu meet signalled end to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations

Hezbollah chief threatens Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor

Arab league chief says moving US Embassy to Jerusalem would be explosive for Middle East

‘Why ask for recognition of Golan Heights but not Jerusalem?’

Defense Minister Liberman calls on Hamas to disarm, vows airport in return

Flooding in Gaza overwhelms battered infrastructure

8 families evacuated as heavy rains flood Gaza

Fatah picks first-ever deputy for Abbas, sidelines Barghouti

There’s a Wire Above Manhattan That You’ve Probably Never Noticed Thanks to the Jewish Sabbath

Israel’s Miami consulate evacuated after bomb threat

Tillerson denies suggesting he wants to scrap Iran nuclear deal

Netanyahu: US, Israel have ‘grand mission’ to confront Iran threat

Netanyahu: I’m speaking up about Iran threat on behalf of Arabs too

New UN team to collect evidence for Syria war crime prosecutions

Syrian rebels say they raised issue of prisoner swap at peace talks

Baghdad car bomb kills dozens in deadliest attack of 2017

Islamic State claims responsibility for blast that kills more than 70 at Sufi shrine in Pakistan

11 dead as Nigerian troops repel Boko Haram suicide bombers

Syria’s Assad says Trump travel ban ‘not against Syrian people’

60% of Refugee Arrivals Since Judge Halted Trump’s Order Come From 5 Terror-Prone Countries

Trump seeks pause in legal fight with revised travel ban

Appeals court suspends proceedings over Trump travel ban

As Trump gets tough on immigration, some officials fight what they say are erroneous ‘sanctuary’ designations

Todd Starnes: Trump’s wall might have saved the life of this good man

Businesses across U.S. close, students skip school on ‘Day Without Immigrants’

Thousands Sign Petition Urging Trump to Expel Soros From US

Twitter CEO Compares US Mood To Arab Spring

The Zuckerberg manifesto: How he plans to debug the world

Mark Zuckerberg Rejects “America First”, Calls For Global Community

China May Bar US Ships From Passing Through Its Waters

Libya sends new request for military training to NATO

NATO to boost naval presence in Black Sea

Russia violated a ‘key cornerstone’ of arms control – and it may cause a nuclear arms race

Putin says he will strengthen Russia’s security service

Putin calls for cooperation with West against terror

Kremlin reportedly ordered state media to tone down Trump coverage

Russia’s Lavrov says “pragmatic” talks with US’s Tillerson did not touch on sanctions

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Rejects Military Collaboration With Russia

Mattis rebuffs Russia cooperation call, says ‘little doubt’ Moscow meddling in elections

Trump dismisses Russia controversy as ‘scam’ by hostile media

Sean Hannity: Comparing Flynn affair to 9/11, Pearl Harbor shows media in meltdown

President Donald Trump Destroys Main Stream Media at Press Conference

Trump blasts ‘out of control’ media, defends agenda at heated press conference

Trump complains that he ‘inherited a mess’ in rant against media

How to Stay Sane in a World of Crazy News

Harward turns down Trump’s national security adviser offer, sources say

Former CIA Analyst: Yes, Former Obama Officials Were ‘Directly Involved’ In The Effort to Remove Flynn (And I’ll Say Their Names)

CIA Director Pompeo denies agency hides intelligence from Trump

FBI reviewed Flynn’s calls with Russian ambassador but found nothing illicit

Chaffetz seeks to charge ex-Clinton aide in email inquiry

WikiLeaks Releases Documents On Alleged CIA Spying On French Presidential Candidates

Tony Blair calls for people to ‘rise up’ against Brexit

Conservative activists to mobilize amid anti-Trump protests

Senate Votes to Get Rid of Obama Rule That Stripped Gun Rights From Social Security Recipients

18-year-old’s fatal shooting by Baltimore police becomes flash point in debate over repeat offenders – he was arrested and released for third time in a month

Wisconsin students demand free housing, tuition for black students

Dubai is bringing the world its first rotating skyscraper

‘Scorpion’ robot mission inside Fukushima reactor aborted

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Ndoi Island, Fiji

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Agrihan, Northern Mariana Islands

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 27,000ft

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 18,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 17,000ft

Seattle is close to breaking rain record for month

Southern California Bracing For Heaviest Rain Event in 6 Years; Flood Watches Posted For Los Angeles, San Diego

New worry for Oroville Dam: a storm next week that could dump a lot of rain

As storm moves in, engineers reduce outflow from Lake Oroville to clean up debris

Bird-flu deaths rise in China, shutting poultry markets

Woolly mammoth on verge of resurrection, scientists reveal

Welcome to the era of transhumanism

The many reasons Republicans are stuck on Obamacare repeal

U.S. House votes to overturn Obama’s mandate forcing states to fund Planned Parenthood

Trump retains LGBT State Department official, frustrating Christian conservatives

Richland florist discriminated against gay couple by refusing service, state’s highest court rules

Catholic Church paid A$276m to victims of abuse in Australia

Iranian-American Pastor Abedini freed last year sentenced for violating restraining order

Spanish mayor urged to call in exorcist over town hall haunting

Millennials Like Evangelicals as Much as Atheists and Muslims, Support Buddhists Most: Poll

Body Art: UK’s most tattoed man who dyed his eyes calls for equal treatment of people with modifications

Charisma Mag Promotes Astrology (Again)

Church is hosting ‘The Vagina Monologues’ — and its minister explains why

Christian university in Texas opens prayer room for Muslim students

Leaving the NAR Church: Carter’s Story

Spanish mayor urged to call in exorcist over town hall haunting

Washington State Supreme Court Upholds Ruling Declaring Florist Must Service ‘Gay Weddings’

Bruce W. Davidson – The Perils of Religious Romanticism

Sorry Steve Austin, You Did Not “Find God in a Gay Bar”

What’s Next – Temple Prostitutes?

Roman Catholic Group Requests ‘Pope Francis’ Refer to Mary as ‘Co-Redemptrix With Jesus’

At NY fashion week, hijabs top looks fit for royalty

Oklahoma Rep. Submits Bill Requiring Father’s Consent for ‘Host’ Mother to Abort Their Baby

Church of England’s rejection of gay marriage report welcomed

100,000 Massacred, Over 2 Million Displaced in Boko Haram’s War to Eradicate Christianity

White House denies AP report of plan for 100,000 troops to round up immigrants

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 07:56 AM PST

The Trump administration is considering mobilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up illegal immigrants, according to a draft memo obtained by…

11 Deeply Alarming Facts About America’s Crumbling Infrastructure

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 07:49 AM PST

(Reported By Michael Snyder) No matter what your particular political perspective is, if there is one thing that virtually everyone in the United States can…
CIA Director Pompeo denies agency hides intelligence from Trump

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 07:40 AM PST

CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday denied allegations that the agency was hiding intelligence from President Trump. Pompeo called reports that the agency was keeping…
DEVELOPING: Police On Edge as Week-Long Paris Riots Spread to City Capitol

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 07:21 AM PST

French police have been filmed fleeing from armed mobs as riots continue in Paris for the second week and the unrest has now spread to…

Evan McMullin Claims President Donald Trump Is a ‘Domestic Enemy’

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 07:02 AM PST

Former CIA operative and 2016 third-party presidential candidate Evan McMullin took to Twitter and CNN on Wednesday to defend rogue intelligence agents who break the…

How a Few College Kids Ignited a Worldwide Charismatic Movement

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 06:46 AM PST

Fifty years ago, Catholic Charismatics as a group didn’t exist. Today, there are around 120 million of them. Their emergence began when the Holy Spirit…

Mark of the Beast May Be Here: Elon Musk’s Brain Computers to Prevent ‘Summoning Demons’

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 06:40 AM PST

(By Mark Ellis) Tesla and SpaceX tech mogul Elon Musk has strong opinions about artificial intelligence (AI), suggesting that AI may “summon the demon” that…
After Church Members Surround This Celebrity In Prayer, ‘God’s Grace’ Allows the Incredible to Happen

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 06:37 AM PST

Actress Alexa PenaVega says she’s witnessed a miracle brought forth with the power of prayer. “I would like to take a moment to talk about…
Church Too Occupied With Growing From Outside In Than Inside Out

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 06:34 AM PST

(By Bret Farias) The nature of the kingdom of God is that it grows from within, from the inside out and not from the outside…
Chile and Argentina on alert after 60 quakes in 45 minutes shake Lanin Volcano

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 06:11 AM PST

The alert level of Lanin volcano was raised to yellow by the Chilean National Geology and Mining Service (Sernageomin) after a swarm of 59 quakes…
Christian Florist Charged with breaking “Anti-Discrimination laws”

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 05:53 AM PST

A Washington state florist who refused to provide services for a same-sex wedding in 2013 broke the state’s antidiscrimination law, the state’s Supreme Court ruled….
Germany: ‘Settlements’ could lead to war

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 05:50 AM PST

Germany’s Foreign Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, on Thursday warned that building more Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria could end the prospect of a “two-state solution”…
Zuckerberg hints at secret artificial intelligence surveillance…

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 05:43 AM PST

Mark Zuckerberg appears to have accidentally revealed plans to use artificial intelligence to spy on Facebook users’ private messages in a bid to combat “terrorism”….
Police Body Cams Have Real-Time Face Recognition

Posted: 17 Feb 2017 05:41 AM PST

The police body camera industry is the latest to jump on the artificial intelligence bandwagon, bringing new powers and privacy concerns to a controversial technology…
Oklahoma Republicans Act to Legalize Ten Commandments Monuments on Public Property

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 07:47 PM PST

Oklahoma is one step closer to approving a bill that would allow for the Ten Commandments to be displayed on public property alongside other historic…
Why Trump’s Top LGBT Activist Pick is Ruffling Conservative Feathers

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 07:42 PM PST

Evangelicals are raising their brows after President Trump decided to keep Randy Berry as the State Department’s leading LGBT diplomat. President Obama appointed Berry to…
Artificial intellgence could destroy human race

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 07:38 PM PST

Tech billionaire Elon Musk believes artificial intelligence could be catastrophic for humanity who are set to become a cyborg race which will have to grapple…
Restaurants register as sanctuary businesses…

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 06:18 PM PST

Bay Area restaurant owners are joining the national debate about immigration policy. President Donald Trump’s hard-line stance on the issue has sparked the Sanctuary Restaurants…
Venezuela shuts down CNN for ‘misinterpreting & distorting truth’

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 06:10 PM PST

Venezuela’s media watchdog has ordered CNN’s Spanish-language channel off the air across the country, accusing it of engaging in a propaganda war. Nicolas Maduro said…
New Boy Doll From American Girl Is a ‘Trick’ to Emasculate Men

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 05:57 PM PST

Days after one toy maker announced its doll modeled after a transgender teen, another toy maker announced a new doll, enraging one pastor. “The devil…
Severe Winter Kills 46,000 livestock in Mongolia

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 05:40 PM PST

Severe winter conditions in Mongolia, known as Dzud, are threatening the livelihoods of thousands of Mongolian herders in eastern and northern parts of the country….
Experiments suggest that monkeys and dogs have a human-like sense of morality

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 05:12 PM PST

A team of researchers from Kyoto University has found that dogs and capuchin monkeys watch how humans interact with one another and react less positively…
Robot Bee Could Soon Pollinate Earth’s plants

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 01:02 PM PST

Bees pollinate more than $15 billion worth of crops in the US each year, but with the population dwindling, experts are searching for new ways…
Atheist Activist Group Seeks to Stop Ceremonial Prayers at New Hampshire Air National Guard Base

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 11:17 AM PST

A prominent professing atheist organization is seeking to put an end to prayers and Bible readings that are presented by a chaplain during ceremonies at…
Why Are Christian Women Watching ‘Fifty Shades Darker’?

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 11:13 AM PST

(By Shane Idleman) The unavoidable truth is that many are becoming desensitized. When the Holy Spirit no longer fills hearts and minds with a passion…
Humana to Drop Out of Obamacare Exchanges in 2018

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 11:08 AM PST

The health insurance giant Humana will exit the Obamacare exchanges in 2018. Humana believes the Obamacare exchanges have too few healthy patients to balance out…

‘Ghost girl’ haunts Spanish town officials, mayor urged to hire exorcist

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 11:01 AM PST

A Spanish mayor has been urged to hire an exorcist after town councilors said they were being haunted by the ghost of a girl. An…
DEVELOPING: USGS Records Small Earthquakes Near Oroville Dam

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 10:56 AM PST

Two small Earthquakes were recorded near Lake Oroville in the last 24 hrs, which appear to be a result of the fast level lake level…
Russia Issues Warning to US Ahead of Key Military Meeting…

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 10:51 AM PST

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Thursday rejected any kind of military collaboration with Russia, following a call by President Vladimir Putin for more intelligence…

Scientists discover eighth continent…

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 10:45 AM PST

Geologists claim to have discovered a new continent to the east of Australia: Zealandia. At 4.9 million square kilometres of land mass, 94 per cent…
This Is One Of The Big Reasons Why So Many Families Are Feeling Extreme Financial Stress

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 10:41 AM PST

When the cost of living rises faster than paychecks do year after year, eventually that becomes a very big problem. For quite some time I…
‘Telephone Terrorism’ Rattles 48 Jewish Centers.

Posted: 16 Feb 2017 10:35 AM PST

Samantha Taylor was at Orlando’s Jewish Community Center for a morning meeting when she heard reports of a bomb threat crackle from the director’s walkie-talkie….

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

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A Free Seminary-Level Course on the Reformation

Justin Taylor: “Thanks to the generosity and permission of Carl Trueman and The Master’s Seminary, you can basically take Professor Trueman’s course online for free.”
You can find the details and the videos at the link below.
A Free Seminary-Level Course on the Reformation

Watch an Entirely Free, Seminary-Level Course with Carl Trueman on the Reformation

I have posted below the heart of the course syllabus, along with all of the lectures, filmed at The Master’s Seminary in January 2017.

Over at the Evangelical History blog, I have posted Professor Trueman’s bibliography for further reading.


This course will introduce student to the major ideas, personalities, and events that shook Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It will consist of lectures and guided reading.

The focus will be on the development of Protestantism in its social, political, and cultural contexts, starting with Luther and the late medieval background and tracing the story through to the birth of modernity in the seventeenth century. En route, the student will study primary texts, art work, Reformation popular culture, and pastoral practices in early modern Protestantism.

In addition, the course is designed to help students to think critically about the past in a way which allows them to think critically about the present. Men and women make history, but they do not make the history that they choose; and only by examining the past forces that shaped the present can we understand ourselves, the world in which we live, and thus mount any response to the challenges that face us today.

Learning Goals

At the conclusion of the course, each student should be able to:

  • Recognize the key personalities, controversies, and theological developments which marked the Reformation.
  • Distinguish between the various historic Christian traditions in terms of their distinctive theological convictions as formulated during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  • Articulate ways in which social and cultural contexts shaped the way the church developed during the Reformation.

Textbooks and Reading Schedule 

Students are expected to obtain a copies of:

The numbers appended below to Janz refer to the selection, not the page.

Schaff III is the third volume of P. Schaff, The Creeds of Christendom (free pdf).

The readings from Lindberg are not synchronized with the lectures; they are merely a suggested timetable for taking you through the whole book by the end of the course.

1. Medieval Background and Martin Luther

2. Martin Luther

 3. Martin Luther

 4. The Birth of the Reformed Church

  • Janz 30-37
  • The Sixty-Seven Articles of Huldrych Zwingli (in Schaff III)
  • Lindberg, Chapter 7

5. Geneva and Calvin

  • A Reformation Debate: Sadoleto’s Letter to the Genevans and Calvin’s Reply
  • Lindberg, Chapter 8

 6. The Spread of Lutheranism and the Reformed Faith

7. The English Reformation

8. Reading the Reformation

9. The Catholic Reformation

10. Seventeenth Century Developments: Reformed Confessionalism

11. Seventeenth Century Developments: Internal Catholic Conflicts

12. The Birth of Modernity

  • Lindberg, Chapter 15


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What Is the Relationship Between Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility?

The relationship between God’s sovereignty and human responsibility is not instantly obvious, and at first glance it seems paradoxical. But Scripture offers us considerable insight into how these twin truths harmonize within the plan of redemption.

The first step in understanding the compatibility between God’s sovereignty and human will is to recognize that they are not mutually exclusive, and Scripture makes this absolutely clear. In God’s design, human responsibility is clearly not eliminated by God’s sovereign control over His creation. That’s true even though evil was included in His grand design for the universe even before the beginning of time, and He uses His creatures’ sin for purposes that are always (and only) good. Indeed, in His infinite wisdom, He is able to use all things for good (Rom. 8:28).

Consider the Lord’s opening statement in Isaiah 10:5: “Woe to Assyria, the rod of My anger.” At first glance, this makes no sense. If Assyria is functioning as an instrument of God’s judgment, why is He pronouncing condemnation on the Assyrians? “Woe” is an onomatopoeic word (meaning the word sounds like what it means; in this case, a cry of agony) that warns of calamity or massive judgment to come. But how can a people come under divine denunciation and judgment while at the same time functioning as a rod of God’s anger? The rest of the verse says, “the staff in whose hand is My indignation.” Assyria, this pagan, godless, idolatrous nation, is the instrument of divine judgment against God’s own rebellious people.

In fact, the next verse says, “I send it against a godless nation [Judah, the southern part of the kingdom] and commission it against the people of My fury” (v. 6). The Jews are thus designated as the people of God’s fury. God holds Israel fully responsible for their disbelief; fully responsible for their idolatry; fully responsible for their rebellion and their rejection of Him, His Word, and His worship. So He commissions the Assyrians to come against them. Notice verse 6: “To capture booty, and to seize plunder, and to trample them down like mud in the streets.” That’s strong, decisive language.

Now here you have a divine decree in action. God grabs Assyria by the nape of its national neck and assigns it to be the instrument of His fury against the godless people of Judah who have rejected and rebelled against Him. And then He says in verse 7, “Yet it [Assyria] does not so intend, nor does it plan so in its heart.” Assyria is the instrument of God’s judgment—and the Assyrians themselves are clueless about it. It was never Assyria’s purpose, motive, or intention to serve God. They had no interest in the God of Scripture—they didn’t even believe in Him. Rather, Assyria planned in its own heart to cut off many nations. This was just another opportunity for the Assyrian power to knock off another neighboring nation, as they’d already done to Calno, Carchemish, Hamath, Arpad, Samaria, and Damascus (v. 9). Verses 10 and 11 depict Assyria’s confidence in its ability to conquer Judah: “As my hand has reached to the kingdom of the idols, whose graven images were greater than those of Jerusalem and Samaria, shall I not do to Jerusalem and her images just as I have done to Samaria and her idols?” All Assyria knows is that it has destroyed other nations who, in its judgment, had greater protection and greater gods than the God of the Bible. The Assyrians simply intended to do to Judah what they had done to the rest of the nations. They thought they were acting in complete independence. They had no idea that God was using them as agents to deliver His judgment.

But does being instruments of divine wrath somehow exonerate them from responsibility for the evil inherent in their military policies? If this irresistible divine decree brings them to Israel, what culpability do they have for their actions? And yet Scripture is clear that they will be held accountable. Verse 12 says that when God has finished using Assyria as an instrument of His fury, “So it will be that when the Lord has completed all His work on Mount Zion and on Jerusalem, He will say, ‘I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness.’” The Lord has already decreed that once He is done using Assyria, He will punish it for its sins. The very act that the Assyrians carried out under divine decree was an act of evil—so evil that God will turn on them and bring destruction on them. In God’s eyes, they bear full culpability for every part of their evil slaughter and destruction, even though they are fulfilling His divine decree.

Not only did God pronounce judgment on Assyria for its wicked deeds but also for the motives behind the deeds. “I will punish the fruit of the arrogant heart of the king of Assyria and the pomp of his haughtiness. For he has said, ‘By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this’” (vv. 12–13). God will punish the Assyrians for their motives and for their failure to recognize His glory by taking credit for what they had done. They thought they had done it by the power of their hands and the wisdom of their own design. Isaiah records the king of Assyria’s arrogant boasts:

By the power of my hand and by my wisdom I did this,
For I have understanding;
And I removed the boundaries of the peoples
And plundered their treasures,
And like a mighty man I brought down their inhabitants,
And my hand reached to the riches of the peoples like
a nest,
And as one gathers abandoned eggs, I gathered all the earth;
And there was not one that flapped its wing or opened its beak or chirped. (vv. 13–14)

That rebellious pride is what invites divine wrath. The Assyrians’ motives and arrogance put them in the path of God’s judgment. Isaiah vividly depicts the ignorance and foolishness of their haughty attitude.

Is the axe to boast itself over the one who chops with it?
Is the saw to exalt itself over the one who wields it?
That would be like a club wielding those who lift it,
Or like a rod lifting him who is not wood. (v. 15)

God is the One who wielded Assyria like an ax to chop down Judah and Jerusalem, and yet He righteously holds the ax responsible (vv. 15–18).

Here’s the point: although God controls by divine decree and sovereign power everything that goes on in the world according to His own purposes, that does not remove one iota of culpability from those who do evil. Evildoers do evil not because they are forced to, but by their own evil intent. So God will judge them for both the act and the motive, as well as for their failure to give Him glory and to worship Him.

And Isaiah never makes an attempt to resolve or explain away what many would regard as a judicial paradox. Scripture gives no indication that God’s wrath against Assyria was anything but just, reasonable, and appropriate. The Bible is simply not concerned with reconciling divine judgment with any human assumptions about justice or fairness. Scripture simply explains what God did, and we are to understand that it was just and fair because He did it.

We see the same tension between divine sovereignty and human responsibility in bold relief in Acts 2. During Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost, he said, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know—this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death” (vv. 22–23).

Christ died under God’s authority, in His timing, and according to His plan. And yet Israel was guilty—both for their collective hand in His death and for their failure to believe in Him as Messiah.

But the guilt of Christ’s murder was not isolated to Israel alone. In Acts 4:27, there’s another indictment: “For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel.” The point is clear: Christ’s death was a corporate act of sinful humanity aligned together against God. All are guilty.

But the prayer of verse 27 continues in verse 28, saying that all these guilty souls conspired together “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur.” Isaiah 53:10 agrees, identifying the Lord as the One responsible for the Son’s death: “The Lord was pleased to crush Him, putting Him to grief.” That by no means exonerates the ones who carried out Christ’s execution. The perpetrators’ intentions were entirely rebellious and murderous, and for them, it was an act of pure evil.

Bearing that in mind, Christ’s death is, therefore, the greatest fulfillment of the truth embodied in Joseph’s insightful words to his brothers in Genesis 50:20: “As for you, you meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good.” The fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan in the death of Christ in no way mitigates the guilt of His murderers. While the Lord ordained and orchestrated every event to bring about His desired ends, the wicked human hands that accomplished the work are no less guilty for the sinful role they played.

We see those seemingly contrasting truths of divine sovereignty and human responsibility repeatedly, in every part of God’s Word. But Scripture never attempts to ease the apparent tension. There’s no inspired explanation that spells out their complex relationship. Therefore, we need to be careful in attempting to conform God’s divine decrees to our own feeble sense of fairness. We need to remember that it’s not our job to hold God to whatever standards our meager minds might suggest. He Himself is the standard of true righteousness, and He never acts in a way that would contradict His righteousness or justice.

This excerpt is taken from None Other: Discovering the God of the Bible by John MacArthur.

Source: What Is the Relationship Between Divine Sovereignty and Human Responsibility?

When Assurance of Salvation is Fleeting

Dear struggling Christian, if our gaze is always within, assurance will remain fleeting. No doubt, we need to examine our lives and test the fruit, but true assurance, lasting assurance, secure assurance comes from looking to Christ and our union with Him. We want to see evidence of Christ’s grace in our lives, but we realize these evidences not by seeking after them, but by gaining a greater grasp on Christ. How do we gain this greater grasp of the King of Glory? How do we look to Him more? God has granted His means of grace to the struggling Christian for this very purpose.

In a world filled with sin, the flesh, and the devil, assurance of salvation is the soft feather bed on which the Christian rests. Assurance proves to be one of the greatest benefits of the Christian faith and the rightful inheritance of the child of God. In its enjoyment are found peace, hope, and joy unsurpassed in this fallen world.

The Scriptures clearly articulate that a child of God may and should possess a true sense of peace and confidence regarding personal salvation. Faith is trusting in Christ as Savior, so the seeds of assurance inherently lie within faith itself. Though the gift of assurance regularly accompanies saving faith, many Christians find it elusive or even nonexistent in their own experience. As John Calvin said, “We cannot imagine any certainty that is not tinged with doubt, or any assurance that is not assailed by some anxiety. . . . Believers are in perpetual conflict with their own unbelief” (Institutes, 3.2.18). Every Christian knows this experience. Yet, this lack of assurance leads some Christians to assume they are counted among the lost. Such an error devastates—breeding inner turmoil and even despair.

The Westminster Confession of Faith helpfully addresses the underlying error when it states “infallible assurance doth not so belong to the essence of faith, but that a true believer may wait long, and conflict with many difficulties, before he be a partaker of it” (18:3). The Westminster divines rightly understood that one may possess saving faith yet not possess the assurance that often accompanies that faith. In fact, the Westminster Assembly chose to address saving faith and assurance in separate chapters of the confession (WCF 14 and 18, respectively), because it recognized that the doctrines are not so inextricably linked that if one possesses saving faith he must also enjoy assurance. The Scriptures and Christian experience bear witness to the stark reality that saving faith and assurance of salvation do not always coexist in the believer.

I believe; help my unbelief!” said the father of the demon-possessed child (Mark 9:24). Few men have uttered more honest words, and few honest words have benefited more men. Here is the cry of a man with faith who also recognizes that his faith remains weak, stumbling, and frail. Faith is present, but it remains mixed with doubt. Yet, Christ clearly recognizes this father’s faith. An ounce of saving faith is a faith that saves. Our Lord boldly proclaimed: “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (John 11:25–26).

Dear Christian, it is not the degree, quality, or abundance of our faith that saves. Rather, it is the object of our faith that saves. Faith does not look to itself. It looks to another. And in Christ, the object of our faith, salvation lies (John 14:5). Therefore, it is also in Christ that our assurance lies. This father understood the necessary thing. As Calvin stated, “He who, struggling with his own weakness, presses toward faith in his moments of anxiety is already in large part victorious” (Institutes, 3.2.18).

In those moments when assurance escapes us, let us look to Christ in faith. Assurance is nurtured as we grow in our understanding of grace, especially in our union with Christ as it relates to our justification and adoption. How do we grow in this grace? The Westminster Confession proves helpful once again. It proclaims that one may “without extraordinary revelation, in the right use of ordinary means attain thereunto. And therefore it is the duty of everyone to give all diligence to make his calling and election sure” (WCF 18:3). The confession rightly points us to Christ by the very means He has given to His people for their growth, including growth in assurance. Those means are the Word, sacraments, and prayer (WCF 14.1).

Before we turn our attention to these means of grace, I want to note a pastoral issue that often emerges in this realm. Over the course of my pastoral ministry, I have found that many struggle with assurance because they direct their eyes within rather than without. Make no mistake, introspection serves its purpose in the Christian life. We are to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). This is necessary and good. Yet, I find that many Christians suffer from overzealous introspection. Like a medieval inquisitor, we lay our souls upon the rack and inflict torture with constant accusatory questions: Do I bear enough of the fruit of the Spirit? Is my faith solid enough? Have I confessed and repented sufficiently? Have I tricked myself into thinking I am a believer? And all the while, we forget to look to our Savior in faith. The Great Shepherd’s promise, “Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest” (Matt. 11:28), seems too foreign to too many of His sheep.

Dear struggling Christian, if our gaze is always within, assurance will remain fleeting. No doubt, we need to examine our lives and test the fruit, but true assurance, lasting assurance, secure assurance comes from looking to Christ and our union with Him. We want to see evidence of Christ’s grace in our lives, but we realize these evidences not by seeking after them, but by gaining a greater grasp on Christ. How do we gain this greater grasp of the King of Glory? How do we look to Him more? God has granted His means of grace to the struggling Christian for this very purpose.

Into this dark world God has sent the light of His Word. This Word, which is living and active (Heb. 4:12), works in the hearts and minds of His people. We hear the true, gracious voice of our Heavenly Father. As we sit under the preached Word, read it in our prayer closets, meditate upon it on our beds (Ps. 63:6), and talk of it on the way (Deut. 6:7), the Spirit attends to the Word, and it does not return void (Isa. 55:11). The truth of Christ occupies our minds, the promises of Christ comfort our souls, the beauty of Christ stirs our affections, and the commands of Christ move our spirits. As we attend to this means of grace, He encourages and affirms assurance within us. Too often, the voice of our adversary sounds loud in our ears: “You are no child of God. Would God allow a wretched sinner like you into His family?” Our flesh joins in as a ready accomplice and the struggle can be great. However, such indictments cannot stand in the light of God’s Word. His Word pierces such darkness and resounds louder than any accusations that our adversaries can hurl at the children of God.

The Lord not only gave us His written Word, but also His visible Word. The Lord, as an act of magnanimous grace, condescends to give us something we can see, touch, and taste. He knows that we, as corporeal beings, naturally gravitate toward the visible. So, He blesses His children with outward signs—the sacraments—that confirm to our senses what the ear has heard and the eye has read. Dear struggling Christian, partake of the Lord’s Table and be reminded that not only did Christ die for sinners, but Christ died for you. Not only did Christ shed His blood for sinners, but He shed it for you. Not only can sinners be united to Christ, but He is united to you. As real as the cup you hold is Christ’s love for you. As surely as you taste the bread and wine do you taste Christ’s peace. As the bread and cup sustain your body physically, so Christ’s grace sustains you spiritually. All the promises of Christ are not only true, but they are truly yours. Baptism serves the Christian in the same way. As surely as the water flowed over your head are you washed in the blood of the Lamb. As surely as you entered the waters of baptism are you united with Christ in His life, death, and resurrection (Rom. 6). The sacraments not only signify this truth to the struggling Christian but also seal it upon their soul.

Finally, the Lord blesses His people with the gift of prayer. What a relief this means of grace provides for the limping Christian. He grants to us the privilege and solace of crying out to Him, a cry granted only to His children. And our pleadings do not fall on deaf ears (Ps. 18:6). They ascend into the very throne room of God. We speak into His ear and may do so with boldness (Heb.4:16). James says, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). Let the Christian struggling with assurance cry out with the psalmist, “How long O Lord?” (Ps. 13:1). The desperate cries of God’s sons and daughters to their heavenly Father never fall on deaf ears. He loves to give good gifts to His children (Matt. 7:11). Let us cry out with the father of the tormented child, “I believe; help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Dear sinner, the Jesus who recognized the faith of the father is the same Jesus who sits enthroned above, hears our prayers, and says to His Father: “These are mine, the price has been paid, the law has been fulfilled, the blood has been shed. My righteousness belongs to them. Mercy has been purchased. Forgiveness is theirs.” If you have even the least bit of saving faith in Christ, all the blessings of salvation belong to you—including assurance. You may, as the Westminster Confession says, wait “long” for it, and it may only come through many struggles, but it is yours. Seek after it. And if we would hope to enjoy this grace more and more, let us seek Christ more and more by the means He has given. As God’s children, assurance is our rightful inheritance.

© Tabletalk magazine. Used with permission.

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The Perils of Religious Romanticism

What is Romanticism? In a nutshell, Romanticism was born in the late 1700’s and is described as an artistic and intellectual movement characterized by a heightened interest in the beauty of nature, imagination, and intense emotional expression. According to Bruce W. Davidson, professor at Hokusei Gakuen University, Romanticism has made a comeback and is having a huge influence on our postmodern culture. Not surprisingly, Romanticism has also reared its ugly head in the visible Church. “Religious Romanticism can take people very far from sensible living, even into dangerous territory,” warns Davidson. The dangerous territory he speaks of is emotionalism. “Among Christians, that trend has taken the form of a rebellion against a focus on theology and an emphasis on religious experience.”

Sound familiar?

You can read Bruce Davidson’s piece over at American Thinker:

On January 2, about fifty thousand young adults gathered in Atlanta to participate in the Passion 2017 conference.  People outside evangelicalism might imagine something named “Passion” to be an event for romantic novelists or their fans, but it was actually a kind of religious pep rally.  The title typifies a significant religious shift of recent years, one turning away from doctrine and toward emotion – a kind of religious Romanticism.  Nowadays, numerous Christian books, conferences, and even churches bear the word “passion” in their titles.  In past eras, church people congregated to debate doctrinal and moral issues; now they hold events to celebrate their emotions.

The original Romantic movement of the early nineteenth century was basically a reaction against Enlightenment rationalism, with its elevation of science and cold rationality above everything else.  In opposition, the Romantics celebrated sensation, feeling, and aesthetics.  Adopting a therapeutic view of human existence, the Romantics often also held society to blame for mankind’s problems, not inborn sinful inclinations – the latter according with the historic view of Christianity.  Their optimistic view of human nature has undergirded much of the political agitation and clamor of subsequent times for radical change.

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How can we determine what doctrines are essential and what are they?

John MacArthur of Grace to You presents his view of the essential doctrines of the faith:

To begin with, the strongest words of condemnation in all the New Testament are aimed at false teachers who corrupt the Gospel. Therefore the Gospel message itself must be acknowledged as a primary point of fundamental doctrine.

But what message will determine the content of our gospel testimony? The biblical message of instantaneous justification through faith alone-or a system of rituals and sacraments that are supposed to convey grace to the participants with no guarantee of ultimate salvation? What authority will we point people to? The Scriptures alone-or a papal hierarchy and church tradition? Those two gospels are flatly contradictory and mutually exclusive.

All these considerations determine what message we proclaim and whether that message is the authentic Gospel of true Christianity. Therefore we are dealing with matters that go to the very heart of the doctrines Scripture identifies as fundamental.

Can we get more specific? Let’s turn to Scripture itself and attempt to lay out some biblical principles for determining which articles of faith are truly essential to authentic Christianity.

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8 Things North American Believers Can Learn from Believers around the World

In my various roles, I’ve been privileged to travel the world, talk to global brothers and sisters in Christ, and learn from them. I may be the professor, but they always teach me. Here are some things we North American Christians can learn from them:

  1. The Bible is precious. We who have multiple copies of the scriptures miss this point. It would do all of us good to spend time with a believer who stays up all night to hear and read the Word of God because he doesn’t have his own copy.
  2. Holiness matters. I’ve been with some believers around the world who lean toward legalism, but seldom have I been with any who are as lax about sin as North Americans tend to be. Global believers often struggle with our brand of non-life changing Christianity.
  3. Worship is more than head-centered. Every culture is different, but I love worshiping with believers who give themselves fully to worship. From the African who jumps when he worships to the Ukrainian who sings with all his might, believers around the world challenge my often- too stoic approach to worship.
  4. Prayer makes a difference. I once stood for two hours praying non-stop with believers in a war-torn part of the world, and they were just getting started. When Christ is genuinely your hope and peace, you understand better the necessity and the value of prayer.
  5. Persecution is real. For many believers, persecution is not just somebody else’s story on a sheet of paper. It’s their story. No article or website can speak the volumes that a believer who’s been faithful under persecution can.
  6. Church membership means something. I’ve talked with local church leaders around the globe who shepherd large networks, and they can tell you much of the spiritual state of each believer. They take seriously the need for accountability and growth among believers.
  7. North American Christianity is not the center of the Christian world. We tend to think we are, simply because our world revolves around us. Many believing groups around the world, though, have longer histories, more followers, and much more to teach us.
  8. Heaven will be really sweet. I already knew that, but thinking about the peoples of the world gathering around the throne is that much more powerful after meeting many of those folks.

Source: 8 Things North American Believers Can Learn from Believers around the World

16 Reasons This Millennial Almost Left the Church

I would have left by the time I reached high school if I’d had that option, but in my house, attendance at my cool, hip, contemporary-worshiping, youth-group-glorifying, theology-eschewing McCongregation was a non-negotiable. So I went. Through every small group fad. Every True Love Waits commitment ceremony. Every rapture-ready dispensationalist Bible study. Every sermon series on how to have a happier marriage, how to control my anger, and why 2 Chronicles 7:14 was obviously about America.

It seems everyone is leaving the church these days.

And quite honestly, I don’t really blame them. I almost left the church myself.

I would have left by the time I reached high school if I’d had that option, but in my house, attendance at my cool, hip, contemporary-worshiping, youth-group-glorifying, theology-eschewing McCongregation was a non-negotiable. So I went. Through every small group fad. Every True Love Waits commitment ceremony. Every rapture-ready dispensationalist Bible study. Every sermon series on how to have a happier marriage, how to control my anger, and why 2 Chronicles 7:14 was obviously about America.

In my mind, no church would have been better than that church.

I still believe that, all these years later.

I almost left in college, too. If it hadn’t been for a wonderfully warm fellowship offering me a generous scholarship for singing in their choir, I’m sure I would have. It had become all too easy to stay in bed. And I didn’t feel like I was missing much, anyway. I didn’t need another youth group experience like you often find in college towns.

It wasn’t that I didn’t know Jesus. In fact, the more I learned about Jesus, the less he seemed to fit in the evangelical culture I grew up in.

If you want to know why Millennials are leaving, there are plenty of Generation X’ers who will answer the question for you in their books, articles, and polls. Honestly, I’ve never found them to be particularly helpful. Statistics never tell the whole story. In fact, the only story they convincingly tell is that, after years of catering to young people, those young people still have no use for the church.

I never really left the church, but I came very, very close. Here’s why.

  1. I almost left because of the silos.A siloed church is not really a church at all. It’s a Christian-themed para-church ministry. And the atmosphere in those silos becomes stagnant and toxic. We all need each other.
  2. I almost left because I didn’t believe a growing church was always a healthy church.
  3. I almost left because the church wasn’t as good at entertaining as it thought it was. If all we’re about is a good performance, we might as well all stay home and watch the Joel Osteen live stream.
  4. I almost left because the life of the mind simply wasn’t taken seriously. Deep thinking doesn’t attract big numbers. Evangelicals have for so long refused to engage deeply in their faith, most of their pastors are unable to do so anymore.

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‘What’s Next – Temple Prostitutes?’

Lighthouse Trails has a piece that deals with some of the garbage that is being promoted by “Christian” leaders such as Tony Campolo, Ann Voskamp and Dr. Daniel Amen. Ever heard of Tantric sex?  Well you’re about to — no details are given. This is one of those blog posts we dislike publishing; however, in order for the Body of Christ to become informed as to what’s trending in the Christian community, we believe it’s necessary.  So – read it and weep:

Bridal spirituality was a common theme of medieval nun Teresa of Avila’s books where she records a vision she allegedly had in which the Lord Jesus appeared and declared they were married.

LTRP Note: This short article might be disturbing to read, but what is being described here is happening now in the church. Please take heed and pray for discernment as you listen to Christian speakers and read their books. The links below this article are to articles that substantiate what Lynn Lusby Pratt is saying.

By Lynn Lusby Pratt

About a decade ago, I became aware of the new wave of false teaching entering the church. One aspect of that teaching hinted that our experience with Jesus was (should be?) sexual. (Christians who use a mantra, as in contemplative prayer, and go into an altered state of consciousness sometimes have erotic experiences, which they mistakenly believe to be “union” with God/Jesus.) There was new interest in/promotion of the “bridal mysticism” of medieval nuns like Teresa of Avila: “Body and spirit are in the throes of a sweet, happy pain . . . and a spell of strangulation . . . swoon-like weakness . . .” There were quotes in Christian books, like Tony Campolo saying, “There is nothing wrong . . . with eroticism in worship.” And Ann Voskamp: “Mystical union. . . . God as Husband in sacred wedlock, bound together, body and soul. . . . To know him the way Adam knew Eve. Spirit skin to spirit skin . . .” [One Thousand Gifts, p. 217]. Ken Wilson: “I was having feelings of connection with the divine . . . [that] reminded me very much of the amorous feelings I have for my wife” [Mystically Wired, p. 27].

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February 17, 2017: Verse of the day


The Reaction

And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God. (24:52–53)

Now that the disciples understood fully the person and work of Christ, there was no other way they could have reacted, other than by worshiping Him. With all their doubts and fears gone, all their questions answered, fully convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, the disciples were ready to preach the gospel—even if it cost them their lives.

After Jesus was gone, they returned to Jerusalem as He had commanded them (v. 49; Acts 1:4) with great joy, which caused them to be continually in the temple praising God. Their training was complete, and they were full of praise, ready to preach, and some of them even prepared to write portions of the New Testament.

The Implications

The amazing implications of the ascension of the Son of God to heaven can be broken down into the following truths.

First, the ascension marked the completion of the work of salvation. After the cross and the resurrection, there was nothing further to be done to provide any aspect of salvation. Jesus’ words from the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), signified that He had accomplished the work the Father had given Him to do.

Second, the ascension marked the end of Jesus’ limitations. During His incarnation, He had “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7–8). At the ascension, He returned to the glory He had had with the Father before the world was created (John 17:5). Jesus had left heaven as spirit, but returned as the God-Man, whom He will remain forever.

Third, as noted earlier, the ascension marked Christ’s exaltation and coronation.

Fourth, the ascension signaled the sending of the Holy Spirit, who until then “was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). “It is to your advantage that I go away,” Jesus had told the disciples, “for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).

Fifth, the ascension marked the start of Jesus’ preparing believers’ heavenly home (John 14:1–3).

Sixth, the ascension marked the passing of the work of evangelism to His followers. Christ’s work is both finished and unfinished (Acts 1:1). His work of providing redemption is completed, and nothing can be added to it (John 17:4; 19:30; Heb. 9:12). But His work of proclamation is not finished. The rest of the New Testament describes the continuation of that work by the early church, and it will not be completed until He returns.

Seventh, the ascension signaled the Lord’s sovereign headship over the church (Eph. 1:20–23; Col. 1:18).

Eighth, the ascension marked Christ’s triumph over Satan. As the apostle John wrote, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8; cf. Gen. 3:15; Heb. 2:14).

Ninth, the ascension signaled the Lord’s giving the work of the ministry to gifted men. When He ascended, Jesus sent the Spirit, who not only gave spiritual gifts to individual believers (1 Cor. 12:4–11), but also gifted men to the church (Eph. 4:11–13).

Tenth, the ascension marked the beginning of the merciful and faithful (Heb. 2:17) and sympathetic (Heb. 4:15) high priest’s work of intercession for His people (Heb. 7:25).

Finally, the ascension guarantees and secures Christ’s second coming (Acts 1:11).

All Christians should celebrate all that Jesus accomplished for them, which culminated in the ascension. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” wrote Paul, “that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

February 17, 2017: Daily Devotional Guide Collection

February 17

Do You Really Believe God?

[Abraham] did not waver at the promise of God through unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God.

Romans 4:20


Professing to believe what God has said is much easier than really trusting Him. For instance, many people who affirm that “God shall supply all your need according to His riches” (Phil. 4:19) become filled with anxiety when financial troubles come their way.

The Bible also says that if we give sacrificially with the proper motives, God will reward us (Matt. 6:3–4). Many say they believe that principle as well, but they find it difficult to put into practice. Many Christians also fear death, even though God has said He will provide us with the grace we need to face it and will take us to heaven afterward.

Believing God means we acknowledge His glory, which is the sum of all His attributes and the fullness of all His majesty. If He is who He says He is, then He is to be believed. You will grow spiritually when you say to God, “If Your Word says it, I will believe it; if Your Word promises it, I will claim it; and if Your Word commands it, I will obey it.”[1]

February 17 God’s Unfailing Love

“The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”

1 John 4:8


God’s love is unconditional and righteous.

We hear a lot today about love from books, magazines, TV, and movies. If you didn’t know any better, you’d think that our society is the most loving on earth. Much of the “love,” though, is nothing more than lust masquerading as love, or selfishness disguised as kindness. But today’s verse tells us that “God is love”; the character of God defines love. To clear up any confusion about love, we need only to look at who God is. And then, of course, we need to seek to love others as God loves us.

First, God’s love is unconditional and unrequited. “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). God loved us when we were sinners, when we had no righteousness and we didn’t—and couldn’t—love Him back. God doesn’t love us because we deserve it or because we love Him, but because it’s His nature to love.

God’s love doesn’t mean He winks at sin, though. Just as earthly fathers discipline sinning children, “those whom the Lord loves He disciplines, and He scourges every son whom He receives” (Heb. 12:6). True love doesn’t indulge unrighteousness, it confronts it. This kind of tough love isn’t always fun, but it’s for the best: “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” (v. 11).

We’ll study God’s love more in the next lesson, but now it’s only natural to examine how we ourselves are doing in demonstrating love. Is our love unconditional, or do we withhold love from those who hurt us? Do we love only those who love us back? Jesus says, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them” (Luke 6:32). Loving those who love us is easy. Christ loved those at enmity with Him, and He expects us to love our enemies too.


Suggestions for Prayer: Thank God for His great love toward us and for its greatest manifestation in the Person of Christ.

For Further Study: First John has much to say about God’s love for us and our love for Him and others. Read the entire book, noting each instance of the word love.[2]



And when he had sent the multitudes away, he went up into a mountain apart to pray: and when the evening was come, he was there alone.

—Matthew 14:23

There are many in the churches of our day who talk some of the Christian language but who know God only by hearsay. Most of them have read some book about God. They have seen some reflection of the light of God. They may have heard some faint echo of the voice of God, but their own personal knowledge of God is very slight….

When Jesus was here upon the earth, the record shows that He had work to do and He also knew the necessity for activity as He preached and healed, taught and answered questions and blessed the people. He also knew the fellowship of His brethren, those who followed Him and loved Him. But these were the incidental things in Jesus’ life compared to His fellowship with and personal knowledge of the Father. When Jesus went into the mountain to pray and wait on God all night, He was not alone, for He knew the conscious presence of the Father with Him.

In our modern Christian service we are constantly pressed to do this and to do that, and to go here and go there. How often we miss completely the conscious presence of God with the result that we know God only by hearsay! ITB023-024

Lord, draw me away today to spend time alone with You, that I might have a conscious sense of Your presence, knowing you by experience and not by words alone. Amen. [3]

February 17

True Happiness vs. Worldly Happiness

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.—Matt. 5:4

The world still operates according to the old popular song lyrics that say, “Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, and smile, smile, smile.” This philosophy basically tells us to hide all our problems and pretend to be happy; and of course people apply this outlook to sin all the time.

Nevertheless Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn.” Godly mourning and confession of sins bring the only kind of happiness worth having—godly happiness that no amount of human effort, optimistic pretense, or positive thinking can produce.

There is a real need in today’s church to cry instead of laugh. The foolishness, frivolity, and embracing of the world’s view of happiness in the name of Christianity should make us mourn, because we know the difference between empty happiness and true happiness. God’s rebuke to the self-satisfied and indulgent happy is strong: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:8–10).

True happiness does not ignore sin or make light of it; instead it sorrows over sin, turns from it, and flees to God for genuine forgiveness. And in so doing, it finds lasting joy.

Does this message sound depressing and cheerless to you? Have you bought the world’s line that happiness can be found only by ignoring sin, not by dealing with it? Aren’t you tired, though, of constantly coming up empty, never quite satisfied? Run weeping into the welcoming arms of God’s forgiveness.[4]



Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

Matthew 25:41


God has made it plain that hell is a real place—a final abode for people who do not want to love God and serve Him!

The sadness and the tragedy of this fact are that these are human beings, all dear to God because He created them in His own image. Of nothing else in the Creation is it said that it was created in the likeness of God!

Because fallen and perishing man is still nearer to God’s likeness than any other creature on earth, God offers him conversion, regeneration and forgiveness. It was surely because of this great potential in the human personality that the eternal Word could become flesh and dwell among us.

We are assured in many ways in the Scriptures that God the Creator does not waste human personality, but it is surely one of the stark tragedies of life that human personality can waste itself!

A man by his own sin may waste himself, which is to waste and lose that which on earth is most like God. The man who dies out of Christ is said to be lost, and hardly a word in our language expresses his condition with greater accuracy!


Lord, make me sensitive today to opportunities to share Your love with someone who does not have a personal relationship with You.[5]

February 17 How to Lose Your Joy

“I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11).


Discontent and ingratitude will steal your joy.

True joy is God’s gift to every believer, and yet many Christians seem to lack it. How can that be? Did God fail them? No. As with peace, assurance, and other benefits of salvation, joy can be forfeited for many reasons. Willful sin, prayerlessness, fear, self-centeredness, focusing on circumstances, and lack of forgiveness are the main culprits.

Two of the most common joy-thieves are dissatisfaction and ingratitude. Both are by-products of the health, wealth, and prosperity mentality of our day. That teaching has produced a generation of Christians who are more dissatisfied than ever because their demands and expectations are higher than ever. They’ve lost their perspective on God’s sovereignty and have therefore lost the ability to give thanks in all things.

In marked contrast, when Jesus taught about contentment and anxiety (Matt. 6:25–34), He spoke of food and clothing—the basic necessities of life. But preferences, not necessities, are the issue with us. We’re into style, personal appearance, job satisfaction, earning power, bigger homes, and newer cars. In the name of greater faith we even demand that God supply more miracles, more wealth, and more power.

Amid all that, Paul’s words sound a refreshing note of assurance and rebuke: “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am” (Phil. 4:11). He made no demands on God but simply trusted in His gracious provision. Whether he received little or much made no difference to him. In either case he was satisfied and thankful.

Don’t be victimized by the spirit of our age. See God’s blessings for what they are, and continually praise Him for His goodness. In doing so you will guard your heart from dissatisfaction and ingratitude. More important, you will bring joy to the One who is worthy of all praise.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Pray that the Holy Spirit will produce in you a joy and contentment that transcends your circumstances. ✧ Make it a daily practice to thank God for specific blessings and trials, knowing that He uses both to perfect His will in you.

For Further Study: Read 1 Kings 18:1–19:8. ✧ How did Elijah deal with the false prophets of Baal? ✧ How did he deal with Jezebel’s threat? ✧ What caused Elijah’s shift from a spiritual high to a spiritual low?[6]



Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him.


Do you realize that many, many persons now take it for granted that it is possible to live for Christ without first having died with Christ?

This is a serious error and we dare not leave it unchallenged!

The victorious Christian has known two lives. The first was his life in Adam which was motivated by the carnal mind and can never please God in any way. It can never be converted; it can only die (Rom. 8:5–8).

The second life of the Christian is his new life in Christ (Rom. 6:1–14). To live a Christian life with the life of Adam is wholly impossible. Yet multitudes take for granted that it can be done and go on year after year in defeat. Worst of all, they accept this half-dead condition as normal!

Another aspect of this attitude is the effort of many to do spiritual work without spiritual power. David Brainerd once compared a man without the power of the Spirit of God trying to do spiritual work to a workman without fingers attempting to do manual labor. The figure is striking but it does not overstate the facts.

The Holy Spirit is not a luxury meant to make deluxe Christians, as an illuminated frontispiece and a leather binding makes a deluxe book. The Spirit is an imperative necessity. Only the Eternal Spirit can do eternal deeds![7]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 60). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[3] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[4] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 56). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[5] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[6] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 60). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[7] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

Regret or Repentance? (Poirier)

The Reformed Reader

The Peacemaking Pastor: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Church Conflict by [Poirier, Alfred J.] The Apostle talks about the difference between regret (worldly sorrow) and repentance (godly sorrow) in 2 Corinthians 7:9-10.  He doesn’t give a lot of detail there, but thinking of Paul’s words, other Scripture, and life’s experiences, more can be said about regret versus repentance.  Alfred Poirier does a nice job explaining the difference:

Regret and repentance differ with respect to God and self.  Regret is a result of fearing man, whereas repentance is the fruit of fearing God.  Fear of man is a snare, says Solomon (see Prov. 29:25), and one of the ways it snares us is by fostering in us a sense of regret.  We regret that others have found out about us and that we have been exposed.  In response, we run from God and attempt to cover and protect ourselves from the penetrating gaze of others, just as Adam ran from God and hid himself…

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