Daily Archives: May 17, 2018

May 17: Connecting Historical Dots

1 Chronicles 4:24–5:26; 1 Timothy 4:1–5; Psalm 78:1–12

Biblical lists can be annoying, but they’re also a testament to God’s faithfulness. It’s a true gift when someone in a faith community records the history of the group and their work—particularly when God has answered prayers. By looking through a recorded history, like a prayer journal, faith communities can see how God used them both collectively and as individuals. They can see where He interceded and begin to see how He intends to use them in the future.

God’s past faithfulness points to His future faithfulness. His specific dealings in the past point to likely dealings in the future: they show us what He has gifted us to do and thus the type of thing He is likely to call us to down the road.

First Chronicles 4:24–5:26 records God’s acts among His people and points to His future faithfulness. Similarly, Psalm 78:1–12 calls God’s people to hear their story told, but it’s really God’s story. The first account focuses on the individuals, whereas the second (Psa 78) recalls God’s work among a group of people. All of God’s work—among individuals and groups of people—is unique, but it is also interconnected. It is all a manifestation of His presence. Paul makes a similar remark to Timothy: “everything created by God is good and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thankfulness” (1 Tim 4:4).

Although God may manifest Himself in different and unique ways among individuals and groups, everything He does is for good—from the beginning until now (compare Gen 1; John 1). God desires for us to experience Him, as individuals and as members of faith communities, doing His good work. In being both, we come to understand what it means to truly follow Jesus.

How can you embark more fully into God’s great work, both in your own life and in a faith community?

John D. Barry[1]

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

May 17 Overcoming Pessimism (Philip)

The twelve apostles included “Philip” (Matt. 10:3).


Pessimism will blind you to the sufficiency of God’s resources.

It’s been said that an optimist sees a glass half full, while a pessimist sees it half empty. An optimist sees opportunities; a pessimist sees obstacles. In one sense Philip was an optimist. He recognized Jesus as the Messiah and immediately saw an opportunity to share his discovery with Nathanael. In another sense, Philip was a pessimist because on occasions he failed to see what Christ could accomplish despite the apparent obstacles.

On one such occasion Jesus had just finished teaching and healing a crowd of thousands of people. Night was falling, and the people were beginning to get hungry. Apparently Philip was responsible for the food, so Jesus asked him, “Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?” (John 6:5). Philip said, “Two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for every one to receive a little” (v. 7). In other words, “We don’t have enough resources in our whole savings account to buy enough food for a group this size!” Philip’s calculating, pragmatic, pessimistic mind could reach only one conclusion: this is an utter impossibility.

Jesus knew all along how He was going to solve the problem, but He wanted to test Philip’s faith (v. 6). Philip should have passed the test because he had already seen Jesus create wine from water at the wedding at Cana (John 2:1–11). Despite Philip’s failure, Jesus didn’t give up on him. Instead, from five barley loaves and two fish He created enough food to feed the entire crowd, thus replacing Philip’s pessimism with a reaffirmation of divine sufficiency.

There’s a little of Philip in each of us. We’ve experienced God’s saving power and have seen Him answer prayer, and yet there are times when we let pessimism rob us of the joy of seeing Him work through obstacles in our lives. Don’t let that happen to you. Keep your eyes on Christ, and trust in His sufficiency. He will never fail you!


Suggestions for Prayer:  Memorize Ephesians 3:20–21. Recite it often as a hymn of praise and an affirmation of your faith in God.

For Further Study: Read Numbers 13–14. ✧ What kind of report did the pessimistic spies bring back from the Promised Land? ✧ How did the people react to their report? ✧ How did God react to their report?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 150). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Is Your Church Christian or Christianish? – Tim Challies

A Christian church teaches the Bible. It is committed to the inerrancy, sufficiency, clarity, and authority of the Word of God and therefore preaches it week by week with confidence and consistency. A Christianish church teaches about the Bible. It is committed to imparting life lessons and uses the scriptures as a starting point to teach people how to live lives of success and fulfillment.

Three little letters make a world of difference. Together i, s, and h distinguish Christian from Christianish and mark the difference between right and wrong, life and death, heaven and hell. There is nothing better for your spiritual wellbeing than to be in a Christian church. There is nothing worse for your spiritual wellbeing than to be in a Christianish church. Here are a few marks of each.

Christian church teaches the Bible. It is committed to the inerrancy, sufficiency, clarity, and authority of the Word of God and therefore preaches it week by week with confidence and consistency. A Christianish church teaches about the Bible. It is committed to imparting life lessons and uses the scriptures as a starting point to teach people how to live lives of success and fulfillment.

Christian church admits the deep depravity of human beings. It acknowledges that we are all deeply disordered so that not one of us has even the least righteousness to plead before God. A Christianish church proclaims the inherent goodness of humanity. It acknowledges that we aren’t what we could and should be, but encourages us to believe that with enough effort we can get there.

Christian church makes its core declaration the finished work of Christ. The good news of grace frees us from the impossible task of earning our own salvation and instead simply receives what Christ has already accomplished. A Christianish church has its core declaration the unfinished work of humanity. The bad news of works becomes the brutal and impossible path to impressing God with deeds that will catch his eye and win his favor.

Read More
— Read on www.challies.com/articles/is-your-church-christian-or-christianish/

05/17/2018 — Wretched

WR2018-0517 •Marxism and Deconstructionism in America •Getting permission to change your baby’s diaper •Alistair Begg tells us how to change culture •Why William Wilberborce and Frederick Douglass hated slavery Download Now (right click and save) Subscribe to Wretched Radio to receive every new episode directly to your device by selecting your device type or by…

via 05/17/2018 — Wretched

Why the Old Testament and New Testament Divide Needs to End!


In light of the Andy Stanley Controversy and all the debate about his comments about the Old Testament, I thought I would go ahead and give some of my experiences as to why so many Christians struggle with the relationship with the Old and New Testaments.

First, we can tend to forget there was no  New Testament at the time of Jesus. Paul stated: “All scripture is given by the inspiration of God and is profitable for  doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the  man of God may be  perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works”  (2 Timothy  3:16-17).  Here “Scripture” (graphē) must refer to the Old Testament written Scripture, for that is what the word graphē refers to in every one of its fifty-one occurrences in the New Testament.

Second,  many Christians assume the way it is today was the way  it was in the first century.

View original post 2,158 more words

May 17, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

News – 5/17/2018

Turkey urges Islamic world to unite against Israel, calls summit

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim told his ruling party in parliament that Ankara would call an extraordinary summit of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). “Islamic countries should without fail review their relations with Israel,” Premier Yildirim said, adding, “The Islamic world should move as one, with one voice, against this massacre.” Yildirim said that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who currently holds the rotating chairmanship of the body, called the OIC summit on Friday.

Sweden In Free Fall

If it is considered ‘objectionable’ in the West to talk about the factual consequences of migration, in Sweden it is now viewed as a crime. a Swedish police report, “Utsatta områden 2017”, (“Vulnerable Areas 2017”, commonly known as “no-go zones” or lawless areas) showed that there are 61 such areas in Sweden. They encompass 200 criminal networks, consisting of an estimated 5,000 criminals. Twenty-three of those areas were especially critical: children as young as 10 had been involved in serious crimes there, including ones involving weapons and drugs. Most of the inhabitants were non-Western, mainly Muslim, immigrants.

Cosmic rays hitting Earth are ‘bad and getting worse’ says NASA

Back in 2014, Schwadron et al used a leading model of solar activity to predict how bad cosmic rays would become during the next Solar Minimum, now expected in 2019-2020. “Our previous work suggested a ~ 20% increase of dose rates from one solar minimum to the next,” says Schwadron. “In fact, we now see that actual dose rates observed by CRaTER in the last 4 years exceed the predictions by ~ 10%, showing that the radiation environment is worsening even more rapidly than we expected.”

‘Ballistic blocks’ shoot from Hawaii volcano, may mark start of violent eruptions

“Ballistic blocks” the size of microwave ovens shot from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano on Wednesday in what may be the start of explosive eruptions that could spew huge ash plumes and hurl smaller rocks for miles (km), the U.S. Geological Survey said.

Hamas Official Admits 50 Killed in Gaza Riots Were Terrorists

A Hamas official admitted in an interview that 50 of some 62 Palestinians killed in clashes with Israeli security forces along the Gaza border were members of the Palestinian terrorist group. “In the last rounds of confrontations, if 62 people were martyred, 50 of the martyrs were Hamas and 12 from the people. How can Hamas reap the fruits if it pays such an expensive price?” posed Hamas official Salah Bardawil in an interview with the Palestinian Baladna news outlet.

Turkey Sold Israeli Technology to Iran in Violation of UN Sanctions: UN

The UN has launched an investigation against Turkey for allegedly selling electronic equipment to Iran which is listed as banned, nuclear-related products and technologies. Security Council Resolution 2231 of 2015 which prohibits the transfer of this equipment to Iran.

Trump hails ‘rebellion’ by local California lawmakers against state’s ‘sanctuary’ laws

President Trump on Wednesday praised local California leaders for standing up to “deadly and unconstitutional sanctuary state laws” and hailed what he called a “rebellion” against the state’s immigration policies. “Each of you has bravely resisted California’s deadly and unconstitutional sanctuary state laws,” Trump said at the White House roundtable of local officials on the issue.

Erdogan: Turkey will not allow Israel to steal Jerusalem from Palestinians

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday that the United Nations had “collapsed” in the face of events in Gaza where Israeli forces killed 60 Palestinian protesters on Monday as the United States relocated its Israel embassy to Jerusalem. Turkey has been among the most vocal critics of the Israeli use of deadly force against protesters at the Gaza border and of the U.S. decision to open its new embassy in Jerusalem.

DR Congo Ebola outbreak spreads to Mbandaka city

The Ebola outbreak in DR Congo has spread from the countryside into a city, prompting fears that the disease will be increasingly hard to control. Health Minister Oly Ilunga Kalenga confirmed a case in Mbandaka, a city of a million people about 130km (80 miles) from the area where the first cases were confirmed earlier this month. The city is a major transportation hub with routes to the capital Kinshasa.

Bee crisis: EU court backs near-total neonicotinoids ban

The EU’s top court has backed an almost complete EU-wide ban on the use of three insecticides, which studies have linked to declining bee populations. Chemicals giants Bayer and Syngenta had gone to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) hoping to get the restrictions on neonicotinoids overturned. Last month EU governments agreed to ban all use of three neonicotinoids outdoors. Seeds treated with them can still be used in greenhouses.

China does not want to see escalation in Sino-U.S. trade tension

China does not want to see escalation in Sino-U.S. trade tensions, its commerce ministry said on Thursday, expressing hope that the two sides could minimize conflict during talks being held in the United States. China hopes the U.S. will take action as soon as possible on the case of Chinese technology company ZTE and resolve it in a fair manner, ministry spokesman Gao Feng told reporters at a regular briefing.

Peaceful protest? Hamas admits 50 of 62 ‘martyrs’ were members

Amid global condemnation of Israel for the deaths of Palestinians who tried to breach the Gaza border Monday on the day the U.S. opened a new embassy in Jerusalem, a Hamas official admitted in a television interview that 50 of the claimed 62 casualties were members of the terrorist organization.

Captured terrorist reveals Hamas forces civilians to riot

The Israel Defense Forces released a video Wednesday of a Palestinian man, described as a Hamas terrorist, explaining how the terrorist organization that controls Gaza incites residents to engage in violent protest against Israel.

South African leaders tell country’s Jews to reject ‘Nazi-like’ Israel

South Africa’s ruling party on Tuesday slammed Israel’s recent actions at the Gaza border, comparing the IDF’s efforts to prevent Palestinian protesters from breaching the border fence with Nazi Germany’s cruelty against Jews.

Lie detectors with artificial intelligence are future of border security

International travelers could find themselves in the near future talking to a lie-detecting kiosk when they’re going through customs at an airport or border crossing.

At least 2 dead, hundreds of thousands without power after violent storms slam Northeast

A powerful storm system pummeled the Northeast on Tuesday with drenching rain, golf-ball-sized hail and damaging winds, leaving at least two people dead and knocking out power to hundreds of thousands of homes and businesses.

Red alert declared on Hawaii’s Big Island; major Kilauea eruption ‘Imminent’

The U.S. Geological Survey has raised the alert for Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano from an orange to a red warning.

Spikes in chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis take STDs to record highs in California

California reached a record high in the number of sexually transmitted disease cases last year, with the state seeing an overall 45 percent spike in the number of chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis cases over the past five years.

Warning: Enrolling in Obamacare allows government to link your IP address with your name

We have already established that Healthcare.gov is not a functioning database application that allows people to shop for competing health plans. It is actually a government-run Trojan Horse that suckers people into creating accounts where they hand over:

FBI Spied on Trump’s Camp With Informant and Obtained Trump Campaign Phone Records Through Secret Subpoena” href=”http://www.thegatewaypundit.com/2018/05/confirmed-fbi-spied-on-trumps-camp-with-informant-and-obtained-trump-campaign-phone-records-through-secret-subpoena/” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>CONFIRMED=> FBI Spied on Trump’s Camp With Informant and Obtained Trump Campaign Phone Records Through Secret Subpoena

An FBI investigation dubbed “Crossfire Hurricane” was opened into Trump’s campaign 100 days before the Presidential election.

The Briefing — Thursday, May 17, 2018

1) Why the worldview displayed at life’s most crucial moments is going to be theological in one way or another

USA Today (Svetlana Shkolnikova) –
Cremation gaining in popularity fast as burial costs rise

2) Theism vs. secularism at the point of death: Why Christianity has historically frowned upon cremation

3) The inevitable embrace of abortion as a new generation moves in a more secular direction

New York Magazine (Ed Kilgore) –
America’s Views on Abortion Are Undergoing a Generational Shift

Mid-Day Snapshot

Mueller Investigation One Year Old, Still No Collusion

Meanwhile, the Senate Judiciary Committee says Russia interfered in 2016 to help Trump.

Wasserman Schultz Calls Five Million Americans ‘Terrorists’

“The NRA is kind of just shy of a terrorist organization,” she contemptuously declared.

My Country or My Tribe?

The real divide in America? The Right believes the Left is wrong. The Left believes the Right is evil.

Gillibrand’s Mythical Version of the 2008 Financial Crisis

It was bad Democrat policies, not sexism, that was to blame for 2008 financial crisis.

Free Markets, Free People

Our culture increasingly and falsely characterizes capitalism as a form of oppression and exploitation.

Video: Seattle’s ‘Amazon Tax’

John Stossel breaks down the “head tax” and explains how politicians created the mess in the first place.

Never Take Them for Granted

“The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.”

Thursday Short Cuts

“We’re at the point where Hamas are freedom fighters and the NRA is a terrorist organization.” —Twitter satirist @hale_razor

Thursday Opinion

Read Jeff Jacoby, Veronique de Rugy, Ed Feulner, Hans von Spakovsky, Joe Bastardi and more.

Thursday Top Headlines

Mueller hits one year, FBI secrets, $2.8 trillion fighting terrorism, Facebook ignorance, and more.

Today’s Meme

Today’s Cartoon

The Foundation

“Let justice be done though the heavens should fall.” —John Adams (1777)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 17

  • Japan Considers Retaliation Against U.S. Steel Tariffs (Read More)
  • US sanctions war against Iran prompts fight-back from Europe (Read More)
  • North Korea says won’t hold talks with ‘incompetent’ South unless differences settled (Read More)
  • Trump Shows Flexibility on North Korea Talks (Read More)
  • Bolton Emerges as Potential Wrecking Ball for Trump’s Kim Summit (Read More)
  • Top Trump Adviser Peter Navarro to Take Part in China Talks After All (Read More)
  • Partial Surrender of Nukes Could Solve North Korea Impasse: Diplomat (Read More)
  • Farms, Factories Won’t Meet U.S. Goal to Cut China Deficit (Read More)
  • Einhorn Is Having a Hedge-Fund Midlife Crisis as Losses Mount (Read More)
  • Strong Earnings? Don’t Expect the Market to Rally (Read More)
  • Taking Silicon Valley startups to China (Read More)
  • U.S. weekly jobless claims rise; unemployment rolls smallest in 45 years (Read More)
  • Walmart Holds Its Ground in U.S. Amid Unseasonable April Weather (Read More)
  • Oil Is Above $70, but Frackers Still Struggle to Make Money (Read More)
  • Kroger Counters Amazon’s Grocery Offensive With Ocado Deal (Read More)
  • Harvard’s Reinhart Says Emerging Markets Are in Tougher Spot Than During ‘08 Crisis (Read More)
  • Dubai Aerospace in talks to place huge order for 400 jets (Read More)
  • Takeda CEO prescribes surgical R&D cuts after $62 billion Shire deal (Read More)
  • As Rosneft’s Vietnam unit drills in disputed area of South China Sea, Beijing issues warning (Read More)
  • 40% in U.S. can’t afford middle-class basics (Read More)

Headlines – 5/17/2018

Greenblatt in Qatar to discuss Gaza and Trump’s peace plan

Netanyahu: ‘PA needs to abandon fantasy it will conquer Jerusalem’

Lindsey Graham: If You Have A Problem With Jerusalem As Israeli Capital, ‘Take It Up With God’

Erdogan: Turkey will not allow Israel to steal Jerusalem from Palestinians

Guatemala embassy move seen as domestic win, pleasing US

Palestinians blast Guatemala over Jerusalem embassy opening

Palestinians recall envoys to 4 EU nations that attended US embassy reception

Iranians rage against Israel, US over embassy move, Gaza deaths

‘They Are Experienced in This Kind of Terrorist Act:’ Iranian Analyst Highlights IRGC-Linked Group’s Threat to Destroy US Embassy in Jerusalem

Hamas official: 50 of the 62 Gazans killed in border violence were our members

Thousands of Gaza Hamas Thugs Attack Israel for $100 a Day

Hamas co-founder admits ‘we are deceiving the public’ about peaceful protests

Hamas wants Palestinians killed to score propaganda points against Israel

Haley says Hamas pleased by Gaza deaths; PA envoy calls her racist

Nikki Haley not the world’s ‘schoolmarm’: Palestinian official

New weapon against rioters: ‘The Choco Drone’ – Drone which releases bags of foul-smelling ‘chocolate’

Hamas refuses IDF’s trucks containing medical supplies enter Gaza

Blood is on Hamas’ hands, not Trump’s

Pope condemns Gaza killings, says Mideast needs justice, peace

Protests Rage Worldwide In Response To Israel Killing Dozens Of Palestinians

Arab League will meet on Thursday to discuss escalating situation in Gaza

International court’s prosecutor warns on Gaza violence

UN human rights body to hold special session on violence in Gaza

Liberman urges exit from UN Human Rights Council; Israel not a member

Turkey’s Erdoan says UN has ‘collapsed’ in the face of Gaza violence

Kremlin: Putin, Erdogan express ‘serious concern’ over casualties in Gaza

Putin urges ‘renunciation of violence’ in Gaza during call with Erdogan

Canada slams ‘inexcusable’ use of live fire at Gaza border, says citizen injured

Netanyahu credits army’s ‘determination’ for drop in Gaza clashes

Hamas leader says group reached deal with Egypt to stop riots from escalating

Sisi says US Embassy move in Israel causes regional instability

Hamas Gaza leader: If Israel spills too much blood we will be forced to respond

Israeli air force strikes Hamas compounds in northern Gaza strip

IDF confirms targeting buildings, infrastructures, armament production facilities in northern Gaza

White House Urges Qatar to End Support of Iran’s Terror Proxies

Iran, Turkey discuss uniting against Israel and US

Turkey urges Islamic world to unite against Israel, calls summit

As tensions with Turkey rise, MKs push to recognize Armenian genocide as diplomatic revenge

Netanyahu’s son insults Turkey in explicit Instagram post

Noting rise in global anti-Semitism over 1,000 religious leaders urge Pompeo to name anti-Semitism monitor

International Day of Living Together in Peace 16 May

U.S. Has Spent $2.8 Trillion on Terrorism Fight, Study Finds

U.S. has more than 2,000 probes into potential or suspected terrorists: FBI Director

Gulf states put Hezbollah leadership on their terror lists

US, Gulf Arab states place sanctions on Hezbollah leadership

Syria Used Chlorine Gas in February Attack, Chemical Weapons Inspectors Confirm

Europe To Pay Iran In Euros For Oil, Abandoning The Dollar

EU chief lashes out at Trump amid new push to save Iran deal

Russia backs EU plan to meet on Iran nuclear deal in Vienna next week

India declares Kashmir cease-fire in Ramadan after 18 years

China says US should cherish opportunity for peace on Korean peninsula

US demanded N. Korea ship some nuclear warheads, ICBM abroad within 6 months

North Korea is dismantling its nuclear site, but is it abandoning its arsenal or hiding evidence?

Buying time? North Korea threat to cancel U.S. summit calculated to hide nukes, intel officials say

Trump: ‘We’ll see’ if N. Korea summit still on, will insist on denuclearization

North Korean Threats Are ‘Splash of Cold Water’ on Expectations for Talks

White House: U.S. still hopeful for North Korea summit

S. Korea to play “mediator” to resolve N. Korea-US summit doubts

B-52 bomber excluded from drills after North Korea complains

Key US senators: ‘No doubt’ Russia sought to interfere in US election

Mueller Issues Grand Jury Subpoenas to Trump Adviser’s Social Media Consultant

Trump team ready to ‘pressure’ Mueller at probe’s one-year mark

Giuliani says Mueller ‘has all the facts … and he has nothing’ on Trump

Trump met federal disclosure requirement by reimbursing Cohen for Stormy Daniels payment: Government

Men in suits reportedly sweep the West Wing to find contraband White House staffers’ cell phones to try and stop leaks

In veiled shot at Trump, Tillerson warns lies are a threat to American democracy

Earth’s Magnetic Field Is Drifting Westward, and Nobody Knows Why

5.8 magnitude earthquake hits near L’Esperance Rock, New Zealand

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Hasaki, Japan

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Gefyra, Greece

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 24,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 11,000ft

Golfers brave erupting volcano in Hawaii to sneak in a round

Northeast storms were powerful enough to generate ‘meteotsunami’ along coast

Five dead from vicious storm as thousands remain without power in Northeast

Thunderstorms unleash hail along the Front Range, accumulations look like spring snow

Ozone-Depleting Chemical Emissions On The Rise, Possible Violation Of International Protocol Suspected

CDC comes close to an all-clear on romaine lettuce as E. coli outbreak nears historic level

Florida county to battle mosquitoes through federal drone program

Ebola Case In Urban Area Leaves Experts Worried About The Outbreak’s ‘New Phase’

California’s Assisted Suicide Law Overturned as Christian Mom Once Offered Lethal Drugs Celebrates

‘Heroic’: Police Resource Officer Shoots Suspect Who Opened Fire At Dixon High School

Vatican reminds cloistered nuns not to tweet too much

ApostasyWatch Daily News

Keith Giles – What’s Happening In Israel Isn’t About Jesus

Forgotten Palestinian Christians Are Fighting to Survive in Land Where Jesus Lived and Died

Anthony Wade – Jennifer Leclaire and Charisma News — Making an Epic Mockery of Prophecy

Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Famer Reveals How Marrying Paula White Was a ‘Game Changer’ for Him

Birmingham Pastor Slams Local Megachurch as Racist, Tells Blacks to Get Out of White Churches

Hearing delayed for ex-counselor facing porn charges

Groups sue to stop Iowa’s ‘fetal heartbeat’ abortion ban

Iowa AG refuses to defend state abortion ban

NOW President: Babies Wouldn’t Die So Much If We’d Just Kill Them Before They Died

Trump expected to cut Planned Parenthood funding through regs

Europe to ditch US dollar in payments for Iranian oil

Posted: 17 May 2018 07:16 AM PDT

Europe to ditch US dollar in payments for Iranian oilThe European Union is planning to switch payments to the euro for its oil purchases from Iran, eliminating US dollar transactions, a diplomatic source told RIA Novosti.  Brussels has been at odds with Washington over the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, which was reached during the administration of Barack Obama. President Donald Trump has pledged to re-impose sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

“I’m privy to the information that the EU is going to shift from dollar to euro to pay for crude from Iran,” the source told the agency.  Earlier this week, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the foreign ministers of the UK, France, Germany, and Iran had agreed to work out practical solutions in response to Washington’s move in the next few weeks. The bloc is reportedly planning to maintain and deepen economic ties with Iran, including in the area of oil and gas supplies. READ MORE

Maryland Becomes the 11th State to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy for Minors

Posted: 17 May 2018 07:02 AM PDT

Maryland Becomes the 11th State to Ban Gay Conversion Therapy for MinorsMaryland Governor Larry Hogan has signed a bill into law that bans sexual orientation conversion therapy for youth, making it the eleventh state to do so.  Governor Hogan signed Senate Bill 1028 into law on Tuesday, joining California, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York via executive action, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State, as well as the District of

Columbia.  Also called the Youth Mental Health Protection Act, SB 1028 was introduced in February and passed in the Senate by a vote of 34-12 and then in the House by a vote of 95-27. Debat e over the proposed legislation struck a personal nerve as Delegate Meagan Simonaire voted for the bill, while her father, Senator Bryan Simonaire, voted against it.  READ MORE

Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii has triggered the state’s highest-level warning

Posted: 17 May 2018 06:38 AM PDT

Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii has triggered the state’s highest-level warningThe US Geological Survey (USGS) raised its alert level for Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano on Tuesday evening.  The alert level has been raised to “red,” which the USGS defines as: “Major volcanic eruption is imminent, underway, or suspected with hazardous activity both on the ground and in the air.” Early

in the morning local time, eruptions of ash increased in intensity and have since been rising continuously. Ash-fall has been reported in Pahala, about 18 miles downwind. The ash cloud has reached as high as 10,000 to 12,000 feet above sea level. READ MORE

34 fatalities and over 600 animals dead after flash floods strike Afghanistan

Posted: 17 May 2018 06:13 AM PDT

34 fatalities and over 600 animals dead after flash floods strike AfghanistanFlash floods affecting Afghanistan over the past 7 days have claimed lives of at least 34 people and left 4 injured. Severe weather hit the country following an unusually dry winter. Hashmat Khan Bahaduri, spokesman for the Afghanistan Natural Disaster Management Authority (ANDMA), said that flooding affected 11 provinces (Samangan, Takhar, Kapisa, Baghlan, Badakhshan, Badghis, Ghor, Panjshir, Sari

Pul, Ghazni and Parwan), destroyed 240 homes and damaged 624. Around 600 animals have also been killed and 80 ha (197 acres) of agricultural land severely damaged. Bahaduri added that floods came after an unusually dry winter that has led to drought in many areas, underlining Afghanistan’s vulnerability to natural disasters. READ MORE

Iran Group Offers $100,000 to Bomb US Embassy in Jerusalem

Posted: 17 May 2018 06:05 AM PDT

Iran Group Offers $100,000 to Bomb US Embassy in JerusalemA student organization in Iran has offered a $100,000 reward to whoever bombs the new US Embassy in Jerusalem, according to Farsi-language reports cited by The Washington Free Beacon.  The Iranian Justice Seeker Student Movement has reportedly disseminated posters calling for the bombing of the embassy.  There will be a “$100,000 dollar prize for the person who destroys the illegal American

embassy in Jerusalem,” the poster states in Farsi, Arabic and English, according to an independent translation of the propaganda poster provided to the Free Beacon. “It is necessary to mention that the steps by Trump to transfer the US Embassy to Holy Quds [Jerusalem] has led to the anger and hatred of Muslims and liberators throughout the world,” the group stated. READ MORE

Earth’s magnetic field Is drifting Westward leaving experts baffled

Posted: 17 May 2018 06:01 AM PDT

Earth’s magnetic field Is drifting Westward leaving experts baffledOver the 400 years or so that humans have been measuring Earth’s magnetic field, it has drifted inexorably to the west. Now, a new hypothesis suggests that weird waves in Earth’s outer core may cause this drift.  The slow waves, called Rossby waves, arise in rotating fluids. They’re also known as “planetary waves,” and they’re found in many large, rotating bodies, including on Earth in the oceans and atmosphere and on Jupiter and the sun. [6 Visions of Earth’s Core]

Earth’s outer core is also a rotating fluid, meaning Rossby waves circulate in the core, too. Whereas oceanic and atmospheric Rossby waves have crests that move westward against Earth’s eastward rotation, Rossby waves in the core are “a bit like turning atmospheric Rossby waves inside out,” said O.P. Bardsley, a doctoral student at the University of Cambridge in England, and the author of a new study on the Rossby wave hypothesis. Their crests always move east.  READ MORE

3,000 People In Sweden Have Inserted Microchips Under Their Skin

Posted: 17 May 2018 05:50 AM PDT

3,000 People In Sweden Have Inserted Microchips Under Their SkinAround 3,000 people in Sweden have had microchips embedded into their hands, AFP reports.  The chips, which are only about as small as a grain of rice, are designed to hold entry keys, credit card information, access to vending machines and printers, and technology to collect train fair while the passenger is already on-board.   Ulrika Celsing is one of 3,000 Swedes with a chip implanted in her

hand — a process known as “biohacking.” As the 28-year-old told AFP, “It was fun to try something new and to see what one could use it for to make life easier in the future.” One example of the ways Celsing uses the chip, or “electric handbag,” as she calls it, is by waving her hand in front of a keycard scanner at work, instead of having to carry a physical keycard around, and then pressing a code to unlock the door. READ MORE

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

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

— Augustine

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Church Surrounded By Five Nursing Homes Asks God To Reveal Next Ministry Opportunity — The Babylon Bee

WICHITA, KS – Members of Cornerstone Fun Church, which has 5 nursing homes located within a 3 mile radius of its building, held a prayer meeting Wednesday night asking God to show them how to use their time and resources to reach out to their community, sources confirmed. Church leaders stated they were asking that…

via Church Surrounded By Five Nursing Homes Asks God To Reveal Next Ministry Opportunity — The Babylon Bee

Report: Someone’s Dad Not Attending Royal Wedding Or Something, Or Wow, Who Cares, Seriously — The Babylon Bee

SOME CASTLE IN ENGLAND—A report about some wedding that some people apparently care about indicated Thursday that someone’s dad wasn’t going to attend or something like that, but really, I mean, who the heck cares about this kind of thing anyway. Seriously. After a bunch of reports about his health and some paparazzi or something…

via Report: Someone’s Dad Not Attending Royal Wedding Or Something, Or Wow, Who Cares, Seriously — The Babylon Bee

What If A Conservative Said That? — David Fiorazo

Ignoring hypocrisy is one thing, but are we reaching the point where hatred expressed toward the Trump administration and conservatives is becoming the new norm? And if you missed the tasteless remarks made by alleged comedian Michelle Wolf at the recent White House Correspondents’ Dinner, don’t miss the response by Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Like pop-ups on the Internet, mainstream media double standards never stop. In fact, I agree with Fox News host, Tucker Carlson, who said, “…hypocrisy is the heart of modern liberalism.”

Friday, griping about a lack of decency and civility in the Trump Whitehouse, MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace talked about choking Sarah Huckabee Sanders:

“Kristen Welker, how do you resist the temptation to run up and wring her neck?”

This begs the question, ‘what if a conservative said that about a liberal?’ MSNBC contributor Steve Schmidt took it further and chiming in, compared Trump to Saddam Hussein and Huckabee Sanders to Baghdad Bob.

“[I]f Baghdad Bob didn’t say what Saddam Hussein wanted him to say, Baghdad Bob would be shot. Sarah Sanders is lying of her own volition. She stands up there every day as a willful participant. Baghdad Bob was a hostage. Sarah Sanders is an accomplice; …in a debased administration that’s dividing the country, hurting America, pitting Americans against each other,”

To be fair, many conservatives said it was the Obama administration that truly made civility and division worse in America. I guess it’s a matter of perspective. But seriously, Saddam Hussein and Baghdad Bob?

Public implications of violence should not go ignored. Unamused and defending his daughter, former Governor, Mike Huckabee tweeted:

MSNBC anchor suggests should be physically assaulted at the WH podium. Yes, is mother of 3 small kids. Feminists will demand that advertisers drop that show and anchor get fired, right? NAH! No penalty for libs suggesting violence.

Responding to Nicole Wallace, another Democrat, John Heilemann said he couldn’t put up with White House Press briefings under a Republican president.

“I would slit my throat after about maybe two of those briefings if I had to sit in that room every day.”

Understand this is the tone of just one single interview on one progressive network. Media coverage of Trump remains 90% negative according to the Media Research Center. To her credit, Nicole Wallace later tweeted an apology saying she used “poorly chosen words.” Don’t hold your breath for an apology from Steve Schmidt.

There also was no apology after the Whitehouse Correspondents Dinner where Michelle Wolf called Sarah Huckabee-Sanders an “uncle Tom for white women,” accused her of lies, and made questionable references to her appearance. It was another hateful tirade that caused many to cringe. Even a few liberal journalists (obvious oxymoron noted) thought the jokes went too far.

White House staff members reportedly tried getting Huckabee Sanders to walk out of the dinner. But when asked about the insults afterward, she said:

“The people that were my friends before that evening are my friends today… I hope that she [Wolf] can find some of the same happiness we all have,”

Most of us could learn from the grace and humility she displayed. As for liberal media hypocrisy, don’t expect a change anytime soon.

*Originally published at Freedom Project Media

via What If A Conservative Said That? — David Fiorazo


Grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30

I think there are great numbers of Christian believers who ought to go home and go into their places of prayer and apologize to God for their demeaning attitudes toward the Holy Spirit of God.

Included in their numbers are Bible teachers who are guilty of leading us astray. They have dared to teach Christians that the Holy Spirit will never speak of His own person or position, as though the third Person of the Godhead may be ignored and His ministry downgraded!

Jesus said, “[When He comes] he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak” (John 16:13).

Jesus was actually telling His disciples: The Comforter will not come to stand on His own, to speak on His own authority. He will guide you into all truth—He will speak and act on the authority of the divine Godhead: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

If you do not yield and honor the Holy Spirit, your lives will not show forth the blessed fruits of the Spirit!

Lord, I pray that my life will produce the fruit of Your Spirit today (see Galatians 5:22–23).[1]

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

What Does It Mean to Live in Post-Truth?: An Interview with Abdu Murray

Increasingly, Western culture embraces confusion as a virtue and decries certainty as a sin. Those who are confused about sexuality and identity are viewed as heroes. Those who are confused about morality are progressive pioneers. Those who are confused about spirituality are praised as tolerant. Conversely, those who express certainty about any of these issues are seen as bigoted, oppressive, arrogant, or intolerant.

This cultural phenomenon led the compilers of the Oxford English Dictionary to name “post-truth” their word of the year in 2016. How can Christians offer truth and clarity to a world that shuns both?

Bible Gateway interviewed Abdu Murray (@AbduMurray) about his book, Saving Truth: Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post-Truth World (Zondervan, 2018).

What have you observed that prompted you to write this book?

Abdu Murray: A few things got me concerned about the way Western culture is viewing the very ideas of truth and clarity. As I speak on university campuses across North America, I’m seeing how the questions students ask have shifted away from factual issues, like evidence for the resurrection, to social and cultural questions that focus on human ability to define reality. Questions about sexual, gender, and religious identity seem to dominate. I’m seeing this in my one-on-one conversations, too. What’s emerging isn’t a quest to find out the facts that might give credibility to the gospel, but a quest to see if the Christian message can actually compete with a secular view that humanity is the determiner of right, wrong, and a better society. In other words, what I began to see was that people have taken to the idea that humanity can replace God.

The second thing I noticed is that confusion has now morphed into a virtue. Those who are confused sexually are labeled heroes. Those who see morality as a fuzzy category are considered progressive. And those who are confused about religious claims—saying that all paths are equally valid roads to God—are considered “tolerant.” But those who are clear on these matters are not treated so charitably. If someone is certain or clear on sexual boundaries, that person is a bigot. If a person is clear on the existence of objective moral values and boundaries, that person is regressive. And if someone clearly understands that different religious paths can’t possibly all lead to God, that person is considered intolerant. In other words, confusion has become a virtue and clarity has become a sin.

The results of this are becoming more and more evident. Truth is no longer the standard for our discussions. We’re beginning to lose our ability to reason. We’re beginning to lose our integrity. And as we elevate ourselves to godhood, we’re losing our sense of moral accountability and human value.

I wrote Saving Truth to diagnose how this has happened and how we can make clarity and truth attractive to culture once again.

How do you define truth?

Abdu Murray: Simply put, truth is that which conforms to reality. There are historical truths, moral truths, scientific truths, and spiritual truths. And all of them must be coherent and cohesive. In other words, if our worldview is true, what we learn from history and science ought to complement each other. Spiritual truths also ought to complement other areas of truth. But fundamentally, truth is objective. By that I mean that it doesn’t depend on human opinion. I believe it was Os Guinness who said that truth is true even if no one believes it and falsehood is false even if everyone believes it. The Christian faith is one based on the historical claims found in Scripture, particularly Jesus’s resurrection, and we see that history corroborates that fact. It’s also backed up by scientific discoveries about the universe’s beginning and its fine tuning for life. And the philosophy found in Scripture, which unfolds who we are, who God is, and what it means to be in relationship with him, is rich and robust.

What does “post-truth” mean and what are its two modes?

Abdu Murray: Oxford English Dictionaries designated “post-truth” as its 2016 Word of the Year. It’s actually not a new word, having been coined likely in 1992. But in 2016, it was used 2,000% more than in the previous years. According to Oxford Dictionaries, post-truth relates or denotes circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal beliefs. In other words, feelings and preferences matter more than facts and truth.

This is different and more problematic than postmodernism. Where a postmodern person might say, “There is no objective truth,” a post-truth person might think “there is objective truth, but I don’t care because my personal feelings and preferences matter more.” Anyone who brings facts that challenge those feelings or preferences is labeled as a “hater” or something similarly derogatory.

One mode of post-truth is the “hard mode.” By this I mean there are those whose personal preference to have their social or political agenda is so strong, they’re willing to twist the truth or even spread falsehood to get progress for their agenda. Usually, this can be addressed by bringing facts and logic into the discussion. But post-truth’s “soft mode” is actually more problematic. In that mode, people don’t so much lie about facts, as they simply ignore them or make their preferences matter more. In the soft mode, if someone brings facts that challenge another person’s feelings or preferences, the one who brought the facts is labeled as a “hater” or something worse. And so facts and logic won’t be persuasive at the outset because they’re ignored or shouted down as tools of the intolerant. In Saving Truth, I try to provide a roadmap for how to deal with this more difficult soft mode of post-truth.

Why is it important that truth exists and that it be acknowledged?

Abdu Murray: Logically, truth is inescapable. The moment someone makes a claim, they’re invoking the truth. If, for example, someone claims there’s no truth, one can simply challenge that by asking “Is it true that there’s no truth?” If it’s true, then truth does exist. If it isn’t true, then the claim is meaningless. We simply can’t live in a culture that denies objective truth or subordinates the truth to feelings and preferences.

If personal preferences and feelings are all that matter, then the world will be chaotic. We’d never go to a cancer specialist who denies that truth exists. We surely hope that the architects of our skyscrapers believe that physics and metallurgy contain truth. And we ought to care whether our politicians, our ministers, our friends, and even we ourselves acknowledge and love the truth.

Why do people work to avoid truth?

Abdu Murray: When truth is convenient for us, we become its champions. But when the truth costs us something, we try to avoid it and rationalize our way around it. It’s just a part of the human condition to avoid, and even reject, truth when it isn’t comfortable or convenient (2 Thess. 2:10-11). But truth-less comfort will not last.

C. S. Lewis put it well when he said that if we look for truth, we may find comfort. But if we look for comfort, we will get neither truth nor comfort—only soft soap to begin with but in the end, despair. I certainly can understand that. For most of my life, I wasn’t a Christian. I held to the Islamic worldview. Embracing the truths of the Christian faith would cost me some things in my life, not the least of which was my religious identity. It took me nine years to embrace the gospel—not because the answers were hard to find, but because the answers were hard to accept. Yet gloriously, in Christ we have one who’s both the truth (John 14:6) and the God of all comfort (2 Cor. 1:3) who helps us to embrace the truth, no matter the cost.

How has the church joined the culture of confusion?

Abdu Murray: There’s this oft-repeated principle within Christian circles: The church should be “in but not of” the outside culture. Sadly, I think that in our increasingly polarized society, the church has become both “in and of” the culture in some disappointing ways.

The culture of confusion is one that elevates feelings and preference over facts and truth. That’s how we get “fake news” and fuzzy moral standards. More Christians than I’d care to admit have joined and perpetuated this phenomenon by sharing stories across social media that either are outright untrue or are misleading. The goal here is to make “the other side”—particularly liberal non-Christians—look as bad as possible.

But there are also Christians who have the polar opposite approach. They don’t want to disagree with anyone, and so they actually compromise biblical standards to make non-Christians as comfortable as they can be. I think of the oft-misused words, “Judge not, that you be not judged” (Matt. 7:1). Sadly, too many Christians use this passage to argue that Christians should not judge anyone’s behaviors or moral choices. Of course, they fail to cite the rest of the passage, in which Jesus clarifies that “when we judge” we’re to do so unhypocritically.

The church’s two opposing preferences—to vanquish our enemies on one hand and to be liked be everyone on the other—have led the church into confusion. The Bible calls us to be uncompromising on the truth, but to express the truth to non-Christians with love, compassion, and respect because we ourselves were among those who rejected the truth (Titus 3:1-7). We can rise above the post-truth culture of confusion by living in that tension.

What do you mean that “autonomy is confused for freedom”?

Abdu Murray: The seed for the post-truth mindset is the human desire for autonomy. We’ve confused autonomy with freedom, thinking they’re synonymous when they’re not.

Autonomy is the state of being a law unto one’s self (“autos” meaning self and “nomos” meaning law). Someone who’s autonomous is a law unto themselves and so he has no restraints whatsoever. An autonomous person can do or be whatever he wants, whenever he wants, however he wants. That ultimately leads to total chaos because if I’m a law unto myself and another person’s “law unto themselves” conflicts with my law, who will decide who’s right? It won’t be truth, it’ll be chaos (see Judges 17:6; 21:5: “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes”).

But true freedom is different. It requires boundaries; specifically the boundaries of truth and facts. As Chesterton pointed out, we don’t have the freedom to draw a giraffe with a short neck. Freedom entails limits. True freedom is not the unfettered ability to do, say, or be whatever we want in any way we want. True freedom is the ability to do what we want, in accordance with what we should, based on what we are. What we are is children of the Most High. That’s exactly why Jesus says that when we know the truth, the truth will set us free.

What did Jesus mean in John 8:32?

Abdu Murray: When Jesus said that “you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free,” he was perhaps saying one of the most profound things ever uttered in history. That’s not an exaggeration. In fact, there’s so much in just that phrase that one could write an entire book based on it (pun intended)!

Jesus linked truth with freedom. When we know the truth, we’re truly free. That’s the first coupling Jesus makes. But just a few verses later, he makes another astonishing coupling. He says, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Jesus said in verse 32 that the truth would set us free and in verse 36 he says that the Son sets us free. Coupling them together we see that the Son is the truth.

In the person and work of Christ, we see the truth that we’re made in God’s image meant to commune with God, that we’ve forsaken that purpose, but that in the Son, God has provided a way to restore our purpose. That truth sets us free to be who and what we were meant to be.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Abdu Murray: There are so many, but I’d like to mention two. First, when I was exploring whether the gospel is true, I found so much beauty and truth in Romans 5:8. As a Muslim, I believed that God is the greatest possible being (which is why Muslims often say “Allahu Akbar,” which means “God is Greater”). It occurred to me that if God is the greatest possible being, he would express the greatest possible ethic (which is love) in the greatest possible way (which is self-sacrifice). That in Romans 5:8, we read exactly that: “God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” There it is: the Greatest Possible Being expressing the greatest possible ethic in the greatest possible way.

And then there’s Colossians 4:5-6, where the apostle Paul beautifully describes how we’re to communicate the beauty and truth of the gospel. He tells us to walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. In other words, find out what other people care about, what their real questions are.

Often, Christians are answering questions people aren’t asking. They’re answering questions they wish people would ask. But when we listen carefully we can find boulevards for the gospel and address the person’s actual concerns in intelligent and emotionally impactful ways. We don’t ignore people’s preferences and feelings. We try to show how the truth is what should influence and perhaps change those preferences and feelings.

Apologetics (1 Pet. 3:15) is the art and science of Christian persuasion. But when we answer questions no one asked or give them a fire hose of our opinions, we transform it into the art of making someone sorry they asked! Paul closes his thought with this: “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer each person” (Col. 4:6). That final word is important. Christians are not to answer questions. We aren’t to answer controversies or even objections. We’re to answer people, because questions don’t need answers, but people do.

We need to show others that we understand where they’re coming from, especially when we don’t agree with them. Then, by asking questions of our own, we can get others to see that God’s word is not about arbitrary restrictions on freedom, but is the source of true freedom. When we see another person not as a debate opponent but someone for whom Christ died to save, we can more compassionately convey the gospel message in a way that speaks directly to that person and their struggles without compromising the unchanging truths of Scripture.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Abdu Murray: Both the website and the Bible Gateway App are so valuable. What I love about them both, especially the App, is that we can have the Word of God at our fingertips, searchable and with study helps and resources. How often have we engaged in spiritually important conversations, only to find our Bible or commentaries aren’t readily at hand to help us express the gospel clearly? The website and the App directly address such situations by giving us access to the truth that sets us free.

Saving Truth is published by HarperCollins Christian Publishing, Inc., the parent company of Bible Gateway.

Bio: Abdu Murray is North American Director with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and is the author of Saving Truth: Finding Meaning & Clarity in a Post-Truth World, Grand Central Question: Answering the Critical Concerns of the Major Worldviews, and Apocalypse Later. For most of his life, Abdu was a proud Muslim who studied the Qur’an and Islam. After a nine-year investigation into the historical, philosophical, and scientific underpinnings of the major world religions and views, Abdu discovered that the historic Christian faith can answer the questions of the mind and the longings of the heart. Abdu has spoken to diverse international audiences and has participated in debates and dialogues across the globe. He has appeared as a guest on numerous radio and television programs all over the world. Abdu holds a BA in Psychology from the University of Michigan and earned his Juris Doctor from the University of Michigan Law School. As an attorney, Abdu was named several times in Best Lawyers in America and Michigan Super Lawyer. Abdu is the Scholar in Residence of Christian Thought and Apologetics at the Josh McDowell Institute of Oklahoma Wesleyan University.

Learn the truth by studying the Bible as a member of Bible Gateway Plus. Try it right now!

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Source: What Does It Mean to Live in Post-Truth?: An Interview with Abdu Murray

May 17 How the Body Functions

So the Twelve gathered all the disciples together and said, It would not be right for us to neglect the ministry of the word of God in order to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, choose seven men from among you who are known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word. Acts 6:2-4

It would be very easy to read that as though the apostles were saying, We’re too good to serve tables. After all, we’re apostles. Let’s pick out seven flunkies who can do that, while we devote ourselves to the tremendously spiritual work of prayer and preaching the word. If you read it that way you completely misread this passage because that is not what they did at all.

Remember that these apostles had been in the upper room with the Lord Jesus. They had seen him divest himself of his garments, gird himself with a towel, take a basin of water, and wash their filthy, dirty feet. They had heard his words, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves…. (Luke 22:26). They were not, in any sense, downgrading the ministry of serving tables. They made this decision on the basis of a difference in spiritual gifts. Here we have a very clear example of the way the early church assigned duties upon the basis of the distribution of gifts by the Holy Spirit.

The glory of this church was that they were conscious of the superintendency of the Holy Spirit — so aware that the Lord Jesus himself, by means of the Spirit, was the head of the church. He was apportioning gifts, giving certain ministries to various individuals and sending them out, giving the orders. All through this book of Acts you can see tremendous manifestation of the direction of the Holy Spirit.

Here, then, they recognize that he had given various gifts. The apostles understood that their gift was that of an apostle. They were to lay the foundation of the church, for it was given to the apostles to lay foundations. That foundation is the Scriptures. It is on the Scriptures that the church rests. The minute the church departs from these Scriptures it loses its strength, its light and understanding, and its ability to operate. That has always been true. Whenever the church has rested upon the foundation laid by the apostles, the truth as it is in Jesus, the church has always had strength, power, and grace.

Therefore it was necessary that the apostles give themselves to the ministry of apostleship, which involved, prayer and the ministry of the word. As they met together in prayer they learned and understood the mind of God. The Spirit of God reminded them of things which the Lord Jesus had taught them, and they in turn imparted this to the church. At that time, none of the New Testament was in writing. Yet all of the truths which we have reflected in these New Testament pages were being uttered by the apostles as they taught the people from place to place. They taught them what we now have written down for us. And all we have, of course, is the word of the apostles. This whole New Testament is nothing but the word of the apostles given to us. So it was essential, as they understood it, to devote themselves to this.

But they recognized also that there were other gifts of the Spirit. There were gifts of helps and gifts of wisdom, and men and women in this vast congregation had these gifts. So all they are doing here is charging the church with finding among themselves men who had gifts which would qualify them to do this kind of work — gifts of helps and gifts of wisdom — that they might know how to solve these practical problems within the church. They are saying, every gift is important. We simply are sticking with the gifts that were given to us, and we want you to find among yourselves those who have other gifts.

Father, thank you for the gifts you have given me and I ask that you will teach me to serve you accordingly.

Life Application
Do we seek to discover and put to use individual gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit? Do we honor each gift for its distinctive value, as we use them to serve His calling? Do we exhibit the beauty of Jesus’ humility in our serving?
Related Message
For more on this portion of Scripture read the message:
Handling Dissension

May 17 Thursday: Low Deeds in High Places

By James Boice on May 17, 2018 12:00 am

The second stanza of Psalm 58 moves from a description of the wicked to a prayer that they and their evil might be overthrown by God. It contains five images for what David is asking God to do. They move from what is powerful to what is increasingly weak, from what is awe-inspiring to what is merely tragic or sad.

Read more…

Evangelicals and Racism: When Will Christ Be Enough? — Pulpit & Pen

When Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” and He bowed His head and gave up His spirit. –John 19:30

It is finished! These are powerful words from our Savior on the cross that were meant for us. There at the cross, Jesus was our sacrificial lamb, once and for all. He paid the price for the sins of His people (Matthew 1:21). He drank down every drop from the cup of God’s wrath. And He did it all willingly and for His glory.

But today, we learn that is not enough. Now we are told we are to repent of racial sins that we may or may not have committed, strive for racial reconciliation and racial justice because they are key gospel issues according to The Gospel Coalition and the ERLC (which is an entity of the Southern Baptist Convention) and we need to make reparations for past racial injustices (a minority scholarship was announced at the MLK50 event last month in Memphis). Ron Burns (Thabiti Anyabwile), in his rants during and after the MLK50 event has said whites must repent of being complicit in the death of Martin Luther King.

White guilt has been slung far and wide as preachers of all ethnicities and backgrounds have twisted and misrepresented scripture in the pulpits. Passages such as the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 have been eisegeted to mean that Jesus was talking about racial reconciliation rather than the truemeaning of loving God perfectly with all your heart, soul, mind and strength and loving your neighbor as yourself. Many of our leaders today fail to see that Jesus is evangelizing the lawyer and that the parable was a story of salvation. Passages like Romans 3:9-20 are made to be about cultural sin, racism, and classism. If Jesus died for cultural sin, then we are all going to hell.

Justice, in and of itself, is a good thing. Being reconciled to anyone, no matter their skin shade is a good thing. For the true believer, our justice is wrapped up in the innocent God-man, Jesus Christ, in His brutal death on the cross, in a justice that we deserved and a mercy we received.

But social justice, racial justice, and racial reconciliation –  as our leaders use the terms – are not gospel issues. They are Cultural Marxist issues born out of Critical Race Theory that have invaded and gained a foothold in the churches across this country. You see, Christ did not die to bring social justice, racial reconciliation, end poverty or end oppression. He died for sinners (Romans 5:8). That is the gospel. Adding anything to the message is another gospel according to Galatians 1:8-9. Adding anything to the message creates a false gospel. Saying I must do all these other things puts the emphasis on law and makes you a Galatian-level heretic, adding works upon the Gospel. And we all know how Paul dealt with Peter on that issue.

So to answer the Social Justice Warriors (SJW) who call for predominantly white congregations to repent of their racism (even when there is none), we ask, when will Christ be enough? When will His death be enough? When will His blood, having been poured out at Calvary on behalf of sinners, be enough? When will my sins be truly and fully forgiven? When I stand before God someday, how will I be judged for slavery? How will I be judged for the death of Martin Luther King, Jr? How will I be judged for all the problems in the inner city of my hometown of Memphis? Instead of looking for cultural and social solutions to spiritual problems, why don’t the preachers and SJW’s address the real problem of sin and just preach the true gospel? Why don’t they preach that our only hope of any reconciliation first lies in being reconciled to God, being washed in His blood and living a life pursuing and knowing Him?

I encourage you now, if you are promoting a social gospel, to step back and read the words of our Savior in Luke 19:10 “…For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

via Evangelicals and Racism: When Will Christ Be Enough? — Pulpit & Pen

May 17, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

Salvation Is by Love

But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, (2:4)

Salvation is from sin and bylove. God’s mercy is plousios, rich, overabounding, without measure, unlimited. The problem with reconciliation is not on the Lord’s side. The two words but God show where the initiative was in providing the power of salvation. His great desire is to be rejoined with the creatures He made in His own image and for His own glory. The rebellion and rejection is on man’s side. Because He was rich in mercy toward us and had great love for us, He provided a way for us to return to Him. In Romans 11:32 the apostle Paul focuses on this same issue in saying, “God has shut up all in disobedience that He might show mercy to all.” His purpose in so doing is given in verse 36: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever. Amen” (emphasis added).

Salvation for God’s glory is by the motivation and power of God’s great love. God is intrinsically kind, merciful, and loving. And in His love He reaches out to vile, sinful, rebellious, depraved, destitute, and condemned human beings and offers them salvation and all the eternal blessings it brings. Man’s rebellion is therefore not only against God’s lordship and law but against His love.

If a person were driving down the street and carelessly ran down and killed a child, he probably would be arrested, tried, fined, and imprisoned for involuntary manslaughter. But after he paid the fine and served the sentence he would be free and guiltless before the law in regard to that crime. But paying his penalty before the law would do nothing to restore the life of the child or alleviate the grief of the parents. The offense against them was on an immeasurably deeper level. The only way a relationship between the parents and the man who killed their child could be established or restored would be for the parents to offer forgiveness. No matter how much the man might want to do so, he could not produce reconciliation from his side. Only the one offended can offer forgiveness, and only forgiveness can bring reconciliation.

Though greatly offended and sinned against (as depicted in the parable of Matt. 18:23–35), because of God’s rich … mercy and His great love He offered forgiveness and reconciliation to us as He does to every repentant sinner. Though in their sin and rebellion all men participated in the wickedness of Jesus’ crucifixion, God’s mercy and love provide a way for them to participate in the righteousness of His crucifixion. “I know what you are and what you have done,” He says; “but because of My great love for you, your penalty has been paid, My law’s judgment against you has been satisfied, through the work of My Son on your behalf. For His sake I offer you forgiveness. To come to Me you need only to come to Him.” Not only did He love enough to forgive but also enough to die for the very ones who had offended Him. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Compassionate love for those who do not deserve it makes salvation possible.

Salvation Is into Life

even when we were dead in our transgressions, [God] made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), (2:5)

Above all else, a dead person needs to be made alive. That is what salvation gives—spiritual life. To encourage believers who doubt the power of Christ in their lives, Paul reminds them that if God was powerful and loving enough to give them spiritual life together with Christ, He is certainly able to sustain that life. The power that raised us out of sin and death and made us alive (aorist tense) together with Christ (cf. Rom. 6:1–7) is the same power that continues to energize every part of our Christian living (Rom. 6:11–13). The we may emphasize the linking of the Jew with the Gentile “you” in verse 1. Both are in sin and may receive mercy to be made alive in Christ.

When we became Christians we were no longer alienated from the life of God. We became spiritually alive through union with the death and resurrection of Christ and thereby for the first time became sensitive to God. Paul calls it walking in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). For the first time we could understand spiritual truth and desire spiritual things. Because we now have God’s nature, we now can seek godly things, “the things above” rather than “the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:2). That is what results from being alive together with Christ. “We shall also live with Him” (Rom. 6:8) says the apostle, and our new life is indistinguishable from His life lived in us (Gal. 2:20). In Christ we cannot help but be pleasing to God.[1]

But God

Ephesians 2:4–5

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.

It is customary in preparing English translations of the New Testament to rearrange the Greek phrases. This is appropriate, because English syntax is different from Greek syntax and the rearrangements present better for the English mind what the Greek is saying. Still, I wish the translators of the New International Version had not rearranged the phrases of Ephesians 2:4. For in the Greek text this classical statement of the gospel begins with the two words “but God,” and that dramatic beginning is weakened when the words “because of his great love for us” are interposed.

  1. Martyn Lloyd-Jones rightly says in his commentary, “These two words, in and of themselves, in a sense contain the whole of the gospel.” They tell what God has done, how God has intervened in what otherwise was an utterly hopeless situation. Before God’s intervention we were as Ephesians 2:1–3 describes us: “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

This is a deplorable, desperate, heinous condition. “But God!” The intervention of those words and what they represent make all the difference.

I want to ask four questions as I seek to expound these words: (1) Who is this God? (2) What has he done? (3) Why has he done it? and (4) What must I then do?

Who is This God?

It is important that we begin by discussing the nature of the God about whom Paul writes, for there are different ideas of God and not all ideas of who he is fill the bill. Many people think of God as a benevolent but nevertheless basically weak being. He would like to help us (and does somewhat), but he cannot do much. He is limited by evil and controlled by circumstances. Others think of God as powerful, but as distant and austere. He could help, but he does not care. People have thousands of conflicting and inadequate ideas about God. But the God about whom Paul is writing is not the God of this type of human imagining. He is the God of the Bible, the God of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the God Paul has already presented gloriously in the first chapter.

What do we know about this God? We know a number of things.

  1. God is sovereign. The most important thing that can be said about the God of the Bible is that God is sovereign. In fact if God is not sovereign, God is not God. Sovereignty means rule, so to say that God is sovereign is to say that God rules his creation. He made it, and he is in control of it. Nothing occurs without his permission. Nothing ever rises up to surprise him. What God has ordained from the beginning comes to pass. Because he knows this, Paul can speak as he does in the first chapter. For here he is not merely talking about what God has done in the past. That might be established merely by observation. He is also talking about the future, showing that God is at work to exalt Jesus as head of all things and subject everything to him. Paul speaks positively and certainly about the future because God is in control of it just as he has controlled the past. The future is certain because the all-powerful, sovereign God determines it.
  2. God is holy. Nothing is more apparent in Paul’s opening description of God’s great plan of salvation, unfolding over the ages, than that God is a moral God. He is not indifferent to issues of right and wrong, justice and injustice, righteousness and sin. On the contrary, it is because of his opposition to everything sinful that his great plan of salvation was devised and is being executed. Sin will be punished; righteousness will be exalted in his universe.
  3. God is full of wrath against sin. This point flows from God’s holiness. It is the outworking of his holiness against all that is opposed to it. This is why our condition is so frightful. Paul describes us as being “dead in [our] transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1). That is bad, of course. But it would not be frightful apart from God’s wrath against those transgressions. Apart from wrath we might simply conclude that this is just the way things are. God is God; we are people. He is holy; we are not holy. Let God go his way, and we will go ours. Ah, but it does not work like that. God does not simply take his own path. This is his universe. He is the holy God, and our sin has introduced a foul blemish into it. He is opposed to sin and is determined to stamp it out.

This is the God of the Bible and of the Lord Jesus Christ, the God about whom Paul is writing. This God is what we need, though we do not know it in our sinful state. Instead of coming to him to find new life and righteousness, we run from him to wickedness and spiritual death.

What Has God Done?

But God! It is wonderful to discover that although we run from God, preferring wickedness and death to righteousness and life, God has not run from us. Instead, he has come to us, and has done for us precisely what needed to be done. In a word, he has saved us. He has rescued us from the desperate, deplorable condition described at the beginning of the chapter.

When we were discussing the state of men and women before God intervenes to save them, I pointed out that our position as sinners (apart from God) is hopeless for three reasons. First, we are “dead in [our] transgressions and sins.” This means that we are no more able to help ourselves spiritually than a corpse is able to improve its condition. Even when the gospel is preached we are no more able to respond to it than a corpse can respond to a command to get up—unless God speaks the command. Dead means hopeless. When a person dies, the struggle is over. Second, we are enslaved by sin. This spiritual death is a strange thing. Although we are dead in sin so far as our ability to respond to God is concerned, we are nevertheless alive enough to be quite active in the practice of wickedness. In fact, we are enslaved to wicked practices. We are enslaved to sin. Third, we are under God’s just sentence for our transgressions so that, as Paul says, we are “by nature objects of wrath” (v. 3).

But God! Here is where the beauty and wonder of the Christian gospel comes in. We were hopelessly lost in wickedness. But God has intervened to save us, and he has saved us by intervening sovereignly and righteously in each of these areas.

Notice how this works out. We were dead in sins, but God “made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions” (v. 5). As I suggested at the close of the last chapter, our experience as Christians is like that of Jesus’ friend Lazarus. We were dead to any godly influence. But God can awaken the dead, and that is what he has done for us. Like Lazarus, we have heard the Lord calling us to “come out” (John 11:43); his voice brought forth life in us, and we have responded, emerging wonderfully from our spiritual tomb. Now life is no longer as it was. Life is itself new, and in addition we have a new Master and a new standard of righteous living to pursue.

Again, not only were we dead in our sins; we were also enslaved by them. Even though we might have desired to do better, we could not. Instead our struggles to escape only drew us down, plunging us deeper and deeper into sin’s quicksand. But God! God has not only called us back to life; he has also, Paul writes, “raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus” (v. 6). There are no slaves in heaven. So if we have been raised up with Christ and been made to sit in the heavenly realms in him, it is as free men and women. Sin’s shackles have been broken, and we are freed to act righteously and serve God effectively in this world.

Third, God has dealt with the wrath question. In our sins we are indeed “objects of wrath” (v. 3). But since Jesus has suffered in our place for our sin and we have been delivered from it, we are no longer under wrath. Instead we are objects of “the incomparable riches of [God’s] grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (v. 7).

John R. W. Stott puts it like this: “These two monosyllables [‘but God’] set against the desperate condition of fallen mankind the gracious initiative and sovereign action of God. We were the objects of his wrath, but God out of the great love with which he loved us had mercy upon us. We were dead, and dead men do not rise, but God made us alive with Christ. We were slaves, in a situation of dishonour and powerlessness, but God has raised us with Christ and set us at his own right hand, in a position of honour and power. Thus God has taken action to reverse our condition in sin.”

The words “but God” show what God has done. Besides, they draw our thoughts to God and encourage us to trust him in all things.

Am I ignorant of God? Indeed, I am. “ ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love him’—but God has revealed it to us by his Spirit” (1 Cor. 2:9–10).

Am I tempted to sin? Indeed, I am. “Temptation … is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor. 10:13, kjv).

Am I foolish, weak, ignoble? Yes, that too. “But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Cor. 1:27–29).

Have I been the victim of other people’s sin and ill will? Probably, or at least I will be sooner or later. Still I will be able to say, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done” (Gen. 50:20).

May I put it quite simply? If you understand those two words—“but God”—they will save your soul. If you recall them daily and live by them, they will transform your life completely.

Why Did God Do It?

The third question I want to ask is: Why? Why did God do all that Paul and these other passages tell us he has done? There is only one answer: grace. He has done this because it has pleased him to do it. I say “one answer.” Yet, strictly speaking, Paul expresses the thought not with one but with four words.

  1. Love (v. 4). God has done this, Paul says, “because of his great love for us.” C. S. Lewis described this love by saying, “God, who needs nothing, loves into existence wholly superfluous creations in order that he may love and perfect them. He creates the universe, already foreseeing—or should we say ‘seeing’? there are no tenses in God—the buzzing cloud of flies about the cross, the flayed back pressed against the uneven stake, the nails driven through the mesial nerves, the repeated torture of back and arms as it is time after time, for breath’s sake, hitched up. … Herein is love. This is the diagram of Love Himself, the inventor of all loves.”
  2. Mercy (v. 4). Mercy is related to love; it flows from it. But mercy has the sense of favor being shown to those who deserve the precise opposite. If nothing but a proper code of rewards and retribution were followed, sinners would receive God’s wrath. That they do not is because God is merciful. Instead of condemning them, as he had every right to do, he reached out and saved them through the death of Jesus Christ.
  3. Grace (v. 5). This is the word that seems chiefly to have been on Paul’s mind, for he repeats it in an almost identical sentence in the latter half of this same paragraph. Verse 5 says, “It is by grace you have been saved.” Verses 8 and 9 say similarly, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Grace means that there is no cause in us why God should have acted as he did. We think the opposite. We think God owes us something. Even after we become Christians we often find ourselves thinking in these terms. “Certainly God owes everyone at least a chance,” we say. Or when God fails to do something we think he should do, we say, “It just isn’t fair.” So long as we think that way we do not understand grace. Grace is God’s favor to the utterly undeserving.
  4. Kindness (v. 7). Compared to the others this word seems a bit weak, but it is not. It flows from the character of God, who is not weak. Kindness means much in our daily living as believers. In the course of our lives we often sin grievously and foolishly. But God does not strike us down when we do. He does not turn on us. Instead he is astonishingly kind. He protects us from the worst of sin’s consequences, and he speaks softly to draw us back onto the path of obedience and virtue.

Why has God acted thus? Paul’s answer is that God is love, mercy, grace, and kindness. God acts this way because that is what he is. We can only marvel that he is love, mercy, grace, and kindness in addition to being sovereign, holy, and full of wrath against sin. We praise him for it.

What Must I Do?

We are saved by God’s grace alone, but once we are saved, we inevitably want to serve the one who has been so loving to us. Are you still unsaved? If so, let this utterly unmerited love of God in Jesus Christ move and woo you. In Romans we read, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Are you already a believer? If so, let this great love of God move you to the heights of consecration and activity. The hymn writer said,

Love so amazing, so divine,

Demands my soul, my life, my all.

This is what John Calvin had in mind as he drew to the close of his exposition of these verses. He summarized wisely, “Now let us cast ourselves down before the majesty of our good God with acknowledgment of our faults, praying him to make us so to feel them that it makes us not only confess three or four of them, but also go back even to our birth and acknowledge that there is nothing but sin in us, and that there is no way for us to be reconciled to our God, but by the blood, death and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.

“And therefore as often as we feel any regrets to turn aside from the grace of God, and to cite us before his judgment seat, let us have no other refuge than the sacrifice by which our Lord Jesus Christ has made atonement between God and us. And whenever we are weak, let us desire him to remedy it by his Holy Spirit, which is the means that he has ordained to make us partakers of all his gracious gifts. And let us so continue in the same that we may be an example to others and labour to draw them with us to the faith and unity of the doctrine, and by our life and good conversation show that we have not in vain gone to so good a school as that of the Son of God.”[2]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 58–59). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Boice, J. M. (1988). Ephesians: an expositional commentary (pp. 51–56). Grand Rapids, MI: Ministry Resources Library.

May 17 Knowing God as Father

Our Father who is in heaven … —Matt. 6:9b

Only those who have come to God through Christ can call God “Father.” He is the Father of unbelievers only in that He created them (cf. Mal. 2:10; Acts 17:28). It is only those who trust Jesus who have “the right to become children of God” (John 1:12; cf. Rom. 8:14; Gal. 3:26).

In the Old Testament, faithful Jews saw God as the Father of Israel, the nation He elected as His special people. Isaiah proclaimed, “You, O Lord, are our Father, our Redeemer from of old is Your name” (Isa. 63:16b; cf. Ex. 4:22; Jer. 31:9). Many of them even saw God in an intimate way as their spiritual Father and Savior (Pss. 89:26; 103:13).

But because of their disobedience toward God’s commands and their embracing of false gods around them, most Jews of Jesus’ time had lost the true sense of God’s fatherhood and viewed Him as only the remote Deity of their ancestors.

These six words at the beginning of the Disciples’ Prayer reaffirm that God is the Father of all who trust in Him. Jesus Himself used the title “Father” in all His recorded prayers except one (Matt. 27:46). Although the text here uses the more formal Greek patēr for Father, Jesus likely used the Aramaic abba when He spoke these words. Abba has a more personal connotation (cf. Mark 14:36; Rom. 8:15), equivalent to the English “daddy.”

Because saints belong to Jesus the Son, they can come to God the Father (“Daddy”) as His beloved children.


Certainly in our decadent day and age, many are increasingly growing up in homes where “father” is a person to be feared, a person who rejects, a person who demeans and devalues. How does God’s identity as “Father” fill the holes left by even well-meaning dads who fall short of what their role requires?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 146). Chicago: Moody Publishers.


…and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

ROMANS 10:10

The Bible links faith to expression—and faith that never gets expression is not a Bible faith. We are told to believe in our hearts and confess with our lips that Jesus Christ is Lord, and we shall be saved.

It is my opinion, brethren, that the silent Christian has something wrong with him!

Psychologists try to deal with abnormal human behavior, linked to deep depression, where people just go into silence. They will not talk—they will not respond. They just shut up, and that’s all.

There is something wrong with the mind that does not want to talk and communicate. God gave each of us a mouth and He meant for us to use it to express some of the wonders that generate within our beings.

Someone describing the Quakers said they did not talk about their religion—they lived it. That is a foolish simplification—for the things that are closest to our hearts are the things we talk about and if God is close to our hearts, we will talk about Him!

This quiet religion that apologizes: “I haven’t anything to say” does not square with the vision of the heavenly beings who say with their voices, “Holy, holy, holy!”

You may say: “Well, I worship God in my heart.”

I wonder if you do. I wonder if you are simply excusing the fact that you have not generated enough spiritual heat to get your mouth open![1]

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

May 17 All We Need

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

Matthew 13:44

The apostle Paul lived a complex life before he became a Christian (Phil. 3:4–6). He tried to keep all the laws and traditions of Judaism. He tried to accomplish various works that he hoped would be credited to his account. But in all his pursuits, he was seeking something he couldn’t find. Then one day, on the road to Damascus, he was confronted by the living Christ and realized He was everything Paul had been looking for.

Paul describes the exchange that was made: “What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:7–8). When Paul met Christ, he realized everything in his asset column was actually a liability. He found that Christ was all he needed.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 154). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

May 17, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

Maintaining a Spirit of Joy

Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! (4:4)

This verse expresses the theme of the book of Philippians, that believers are to rejoice in the Lord always (cf. 3:1). Joy is such a vitally important factor in believers’ spiritual stability that Paul repeats his command for emphasis: again I will say, rejoice! This repetition presupposes the reality that it was not easy to be joyful. The Philippians needed to rise above their circumstances.

Some, wrongly identifying joy as a purely human emotion, find Paul’s twice-repeated command to rejoice puzzling. How, they ask, can people be commanded to produce an emotion? But joy is not a feeling; it is the deep-down confidence that God is in control of everything for the believer’s good and His own glory, and thus all is well no matter what the circumstances. Chairete (rejoice) is a present imperative, calling believers to the continual, habitual practice of rejoicing. Neither Paul’s imprisonment nor the Philippians’ trials should eclipse their joy.

It is true that believers often cannot find reason to rejoice in their specific circumstances. Certainly the general wickedness, sorrow, misery, and death in the world evoke no joy. Nor are people a reliable source of joy, since they can change, hurt, and disappoint. The only sure, reliable, unwavering, unchanging source of joy is God. That is why Paul commands believers to rejoice in the Lord. The phrase in the Lord introduces an important principle: Spiritual stability is directly related to how a person thinks about God. No one has stated that truth more clearly than A. W. Tozer. In his classic book on the attributes of God, The Knowledge of the Holy, Tozer wrote,

What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us.

The history of mankind will probably show that no people has ever risen above its religion, and man’s spiritual history will positively demonstrate that no religion has ever been greater than its idea of God. Worship is pure or base as the worshiper entertains high or low thoughts of God.

For this reason the gravest question before the Church is always God Himself, and the most portentous fact about any man is not what he at a given time may say or do, but what he in his deep heart conceives God to be like. We tend by a secret law of the soul to move toward our mental image of God. This is true not only of the individual Christian, but of the company of Christians that composes the Church. Always the most revealing thing about the Church is her idea of God, just as her most significant message is what she says about Him or leaves unsaid, for her silence is often more eloquent than her speech. She can never escape the self-disclosure of her witness concerning God.

Were we able to extract from any man a complete answer to the question, “What comes into your mind when you think about God?” we might predict with certainty the spiritual future of that man. (Reprint; New York: Harper & Row, 1975, 9)

Knowledge of God is the key to rejoicing. Those who know the great truths about God find it easy to rejoice; those with little knowledge of Him find it difficult to rejoice. God gave the Psalms to Israel in poetic form so they could be easily memorized and set to music. The first three verses of the book of Psalms promise blessings to those who meditate on Scripture:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers. (Ps. 1:1–3)

It is from that knowledge of God and repeated recitation and singing of His nature and attributes that believers’ joy flows. So deep was the apostles’ knowledge of God’s character and purposes that even suffering for Jesus Christ was a cause of joy: “So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41).

Moses’ father-in-law Jethro “rejoiced over all the goodness which the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the hand of the Egyptians” (Ex. 18:9; cf. Deut. 26:11). After the dedication of the temple, Solomon “sent the people to their tents, rejoicing and happy of heart because of the goodness that the Lord had shown to David and to Solomon and to His people Israel” (2 Chron. 7:10).

Believers rejoice in the contemplation of God’s redemption. In 1 Samuel 2:1, “Hannah prayed and said, ‘My heart exults in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord, my mouth speaks boldly against my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.’ ” In Psalm 13:5 David confidently asserted, “I have trusted in Your lovingkindness; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation” (cf. Pss. 21:1; 35:9; 40:16; Isa. 61:10; Hab. 3:18). In Psalm 71:23 the psalmist exulted, “My lips will shout for joy when I sing praises to You; and my soul, which You have redeemed.”

Another reason for believers to rejoice is that God has promised to supply all their needs. Paul reminded the Philippians, “God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19). In the Old Testament counterpart to that promise, the psalmist wrote, “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord gives grace and glory; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (Ps. 84:11). In the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord Jesus Christ made God’s promise to provide for believers’ needs unmistakably clear:

Why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear for clothing?” For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matt. 6:28–33)

Paul rejoiced because of the privilege of serving God. To Timothy he wrote, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service” (1 Tim. 1:12). He also rejoiced when God’s truth was proclaimed (Phil. 1:18). Paul’s declaration to the Philippians earlier in this epistle, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain” (1:21), reveals that even the prospect of death could not quench his joy. The confidence “that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38–39) produces both deep-seated joy and spiritual stability.[1]

4 The conclusion to the letter begins in 4:4. Paul’s letter endings vary widely and lack any formal pattern, but he usually concludes with a battery of ethical imperatives. Here he begins by repeating the call to “rejoice in the Lord.” Since joy is commanded, it is not a feeling like happiness. It is a mental attitude, a life stance. Whereas happiness depends on what happens, joy does not. Joy derives from a conviction that, despite present circumstances, God is in control and will save those who belong to Christ. Joy derives from the Philippians’ union with Christ, the promise of the resurrection, and their partnership with one another.[2]

Rejoice in the Lord (v. 4)

This joy-intoxicated man could not stress too much the importance of his fellow-believers rejoicing, but, as always, the cause of the Christian’s rejoicing is the Lord. Paul is not calling here for some kind of general, happy optimism that has no basis. There are no reasons for rejoicing without the Lord, but with him there is no end to such reasons.

Paul’s formula for joy is apparent in this letter. We can summarize it by saying we must have:

  • the cause of Christ as our priority. That cause, of course, includes the fellowship, the furtherance and the faith of the gospel (1:5, 12, 27);
  • the character of Christ as our pattern. This is the character of sacrificially giving one’s self up in the interest of others (2:5–8);
  • the comprehension of Christ as our passion. This means crying out with Paul ‘that I may know Him’ (3:10);
  • the care of Christ as our peace, which the apostle is about to express (4:6–7).

Those who put these items on their personal agenda and seriously pursue them will find that Paul has indeed given a foolproof formula for joy. They will not have to seek it because it will have sought and found them.[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 273–276). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 252). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Ellsworth, R. (2004). Opening up Philippians (p. 83). Leominster: Day One Publications.