Daily Archives: August 15, 2018

August 15: Lethal Planning

Isaiah 30:18–32:20; Luke 11:1–36; Job 7:11–21

I’m a planner. I love schedules. The trouble is I sometimes make plans without consulting God. While I often think of this as a modern problem, I’ve discovered that, like many other modern issues, the Bible regularly addresses it. For example, in Isaiah 30:1 Yahweh declares, “Oh rebellious children!… to make a plan, but not from me, and pour out a libation, but not from my Spirit, so as to add sin to sin.”

Apparently, God’s people had been offering libations—a type of drink offering—in the ways of the Egyptians rather than in the ways of Yahweh. We make the same mistake in our lives. We seek wisdom in books or from people before consulting Yahweh. We ask our colleagues what they think before turning to our God. We look to our parents or friends instead of waiting patiently on God’s resolve. We look to our own strength or influence instead of relying on the God who created us.

In our demeanor toward God, we are so much like Israel relying on Egypt—we look to others and to ourselves for salvation rather than to God. We have removed the miraculous from our faith. Instead of asserting that God will change the course of history, we determine that we will do it. Although God certainly uses us in this work, salvation doesn’t come from our efforts—it comes from Yahweh. Rather than seeking to align our already formed plans with God’s, we must approach Him with an open mind and a willing heart. We must find the answers we seek in Him.

How can you seek God today in all that you do? How can you look to Him first and make Him foremost?

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.

August 15 Overcoming Jealousy

“Love … is not jealous” (1 Cor. 13:4).


Jealousy thrives in a climate of selfish ambition.

Jealousy is an insidious sin that cries out, “I want what you have, and furthermore I don’t want you to have it.” It replaces contentment with resentment and spawns a myriad of other sins.

The Corinthians were jealous of one another’s spiritual gifts. First Corinthians 12:31 literally says, “You are earnestly desiring the showy gifts, but I show you a more excellent way.” The Greek word translated “earnestly desiring” is translated “jealous” in 1 Corinthians 13:4. It means “to boil” and speaks of the inner seething that comes from wanting something that someone else has. In 1 Corinthians 3:3 Paul rebukes them for the jealousy and strife that existed among them.

Paul knew what it meant to be victimized by jealous people. During one of his imprisonments he candidly wrote, “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment” (Phil. 1:15–17).

Paul’s attitude toward those who envied him was exemplary: “Whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice” (v. 18). He wasn’t motivated by personal comfort or selfish ambition. He loved Christ deeply and wanted as many people as possible to hear the gospel. As long as Christ was being proclaimed, Paul was happy—regardless of his own circumstances or the motives of others. That should be your perspective too.

Love is the antidote for jealousy. When godly love governs your heart, you can rejoice in the spiritual successes of others, even when you know their motives are wrong. But if you seek prominence and selfish gain, you become an easy target for jealousy and resentment.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Confess any jealousy you might be harboring toward others. ✧ Ask God to deepen your love for Christ so jealousy can’t gain a foothold in your heart in the future.

For Further Study: Read 2 Corinthians 11:2. Is there such a thing as godly jealousy? Explain.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 240). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Farewell, Willow Creek: Where the “Regular” Churches Can Go From Here

It looks like the beginning of the end at Willow Creek. They aren’t saying that, but I feel like that’s what’s happening.

If so, good riddance.

And you can take the megachurch movement you spawned with you.

I’m sorry if I sound bitter. I’m not, really. More relieved than anything else. Saddened for the stories of abuse, gaslighting, and hero worship. Grieved by the commoditization of human hearts and souls, the theological void, and the liturgical collapse. But relieved that this sad chapter in American religious history is rattling to an end.

Stanley Hauerwas said that the church growth movement was “the death gurgle of a church that had lost its way.”

Well, one of the biggest players is dying a quick death.

It was bound to happen anyway, regardless of the specific failures of Bill Hybels and the inept, buffoonish response of the Willow Creek board.

See, the rest of us are tired. We’re tired of having to compete with the downtown destination or suburban center house of entertainment that calls itself a church. We don’t have the energy, we don’t have the resources, we don’t have the desire, but we’ve felt like we’ve had to conform. Because you were growing, and we were shrinking! We felt like we had to do something drastic.

Paranoia struck so deep in our hearts and souls that, in desperation, we cried out for your bag of tricks. So we signed up for your silly, overpriced conferences. We copied the happy, clappy dreck you dared to call worship. We tried to find a charismatic leader like yours. We tried to be a mini-Willow in our own neck of the woods. We gave up ourselves: our message, our mission, our liturgy, our identity.

No more. We’re tired. We’re disillusioned. We’re embarrassed. We’re just done.

After decades of believing churches like Willow Creek had discovered the antidote, after 25 years of copying, emulating, strategizing, and leadership conferencing, we’re finding out that we’ve built our behemoth, nondescript church buildings on the sand like the foolish people we are.

Well, Weeping Willow Creek and all others of its ilk, we’re on to you. We see the chinks in your armor, and they’re gaping open ever wider with each passing day. Another one of your empires has fallen, and others will follow soon.

We should have known all along.

Celebrity pastors cannot possibly be good shepherds to their people.

Attractional worship is only entertainment, nothing more.

A fast food version of Jesus can never be the real version of Jesus.

The church growth movement leads to a bloated, unhealthy body of people who don’t really understand what they’ve signed up for.

Capitalism does not hold the keys to evangelism.

The Pastor as CEO idea will always fail, often with far-reaching, disastrous results.

Big churches are not good role models for the rest of our churches. In fact, their methods will ruin us, too, if we’re not careful.

Though Willow Creek and those like it may crumble and fall, the church will go on. God will preserve it, and none else can stop it. We know that the cosmic renewal, redemption, and restoration has already begun, set in motion by God’s mighty acts in Jesus Christ.

But here in this culture, it must almost begin anew. The megachurch movement was nothing more than a last ditch effort to save a church created in our own image. The calling is clear: Christ must be born again within us.

So church, it’s time to rediscover your sacred, holy identity. It was never just about filling pews. Go on about the gospel that still calls to you. Go on with your liturgy. Preach the Word, administer the sacraments. Act justly, love mercy, walk humbly with God, even as it become more novel, more strange, and more isolating. Spread the great and glorious news that Jesus Christ has brought into this world, even when your culture no longer gives it lip service.

After all, church, what does it proffer you if you gain thousands of butts in your seats, but give up your heart and soul?

Nothing. In fact, church, you lose, and you lose big.

Adding more campuses is not discipleship.

Hiring more staff is not church growth.

Getting more butts in the seats is not evangelism.

So free yourselves from the church growth obsession.

Free yourselves from your slavery to numbers. Free yourselves from the neurotic counting. Free yourselves from the mind-numbing, maddening task of data disaggregation. Release yourselves from the anxiety over empty pews. Realize that you don’t have to keep wondering what you will eat or drink or wear if your budgets shrink.

Remove the [obsession with church] growth.

Free yourselves from what your Americanized gospel thinks of as success, because if you don’t, you may just end up in the same boat as this giant.

Resist the temptation to use worship as a hook, a holy bait-and-switch. Because your message is sounding more and more like an unwanted, confrontational Amway spiel. It sounds like you want people in your services because you’ve got some property for sale somewhere that’s too good to be true.

Free yourselves for the higher calling of the Gospel of Christ. Be who you are called to be. Stop counting. Stop strategizing. Jesus promises that he is engaging enough, even though the most numerically successful churches claim otherwise.

Maybe it’s time we stop trying to top him, and just take him at his word.


— Read on www.patheos.com/blogs/ponderanew/2018/08/10/5088/

CHILLING: China Takes Extreme Measures to Wipe Out All Traces of Jesus, Christianity — Faithwire

A massive crackdown on religious freedom has for years been underway in China, where churches are being demolished, Bibles confiscated and posters of Jesus replaced with imagery of President Xi Jinping.

In China, the communist government sees the spread of the Christian faith as a Western threat to their culture and way of life. In 2016, Xi said, “We must resolutely guard against overseas infiltrations via religious means.”

‘We Hope That China Will Be Merciful’: Chinese Pastor’s American Family Plead for His Release


The Chinese government wrote religious freedom provisions into its constitution in 1982, but that hasn’t slowed the oppression of Christians living in the restrictive country.

According to a recent report from The Sun, Xi’s regime has gone so far as even barring children from visiting churches.

The most recent crackdown has reportedly been in the Xinjiang province, along the borders of Afghanistan and Pakistan. Government officials have called the region “not Chinese enough.”

As a result, Xi’s administration is requiring “Chinese characteristics” to be incorporated into all activities, religious beliefs and cultural traditions, a large part of which is adherence to the communist ideology.

‘Purge Against Christians’ Underway in China as Persecution Ramps Up


Xi began his push for the “sinicization” of the Catholic Church in particular in 2015, when he said the Church must be free of any “foreign influence.” Earlier this year, bishops in China jumpstarted an effort to bring the Catholic Church in the Asian country more in-line with the native culture.

And despite its claims of religious tolerance, in June, officials with the Chinese government tore down Christian imagery of Jesus from Our Lady of Mount Carmel in China’s Henan province, which has served as a popular pilgrimage for Chinese Catholics since the very early 1900s.

One religious source on the ground told the Catholic News Agency at the time that the Communist government would “allow Catholicism to exist but not develop.”

The Chinese government also destroyed the Liangwang Catholic Church in July, according to Asia News, even though the building was owned by the community and had been registered since 2006.

As for unregistered Protestant house churches, according to The Associated Press, Xi’s government once seemingly tolerated them. But that’s no longer the case. Now the Communist regime is taking a tougher approach that leans heavily on “thought reform,” a kind of political indoctrination.

In November 2017, Christian residents of a rural township in the southeast Jiangxi province were convinced by the government to replace posters of the cross and Jesus with images of the Chinese president.

PRAY: China’s ‘Underground’ Churches Ordered to Apply for Permits, Seek Guidance From State-Approved Organizations


“Xi is a closet Maoist — he is very anxious about thought control,” Willy Lam, a Chinese politics expert at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the AP. “He definitely does not want people to be faithful members of the church, because then people would profess their allegiance to the church rather than to the party, or more exactly, to Xi himself.”

There are also several instances in which the government confiscated Christian literature and Bibles. One such raid occurred in May, when government authorities stole more than 1,000 Chinese Bibles from five house churches in the Shandong province, claiming it was part of an effort to quell the spread of pornography in the sprawling country.

All of this is part of the government plan to “Sinicize” churches, both Protestant and Catholic.

“Only Sinicized churches can obtain God’s love,” the government stated.

via CHILLING: China Takes Extreme Measures to Wipe Out All Traces of Jesus, Christianity — Faithwire

This Guy Wins Twitter with Epic Burn: #StillProtesting — Pulpit & Pen

Matt Walsh is one of my favorite Papists. Walsh writes for the Daily Wire, and previously, The Blaze. His literary wit is nearly unparalleled. His writing is prolific and often profound. I wrote an entire chapter about his work in my book, The Benedict Arnold Option. And, I wish Walsh was a Protestant.

In yesterday’s tweet, however, Walsh stepped right into it. The exchange between Walsh and John Keeter, pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church in Edenton, North Carolina, has made a lot of us chuckle.

Jokes aside, there’s truthfulness to Walsh’s tweet (and Keeter’s). The Catholic Church needs a purge; it cannot be Reformed because “infallible” churches cannot repent. That purge must be total. Good men must “come out” forcefully, angrily, passionately, and must name names on their way out the door.

For an explanation of the difference between Roman Catholicism and Christianity, read this article from Reformation Charlotte.

via This Guy Wins Twitter with Epic Burn: #StillProtesting — Pulpit & Pen

John MacArthur VS Kyle J. Howard on Reparations VS Gospel — Pulpit & Pen

The evangelicals who are saying the most and talking the loudest these days about what’s referred to as “social justice” seem to have a very different perspective. Their rhetoric certainly points a different direction, demanding repentance and reparations from one ethnic group for the sins of its ancestors against another. It’s the language of law, not gospel—and worse, it mirrors the jargon of worldly politics, not the message of Christ. It is a startling irony that believers from different ethnic groups, now one in Christ, have chosen to divide over ethnicity. They have a true spiritual unity in Christ, which they seem to disdain in favor of fleshly factions. – John MacArthur

John MacArthur launched his first (and presumably not his last) volley toward Rauschenbuscism, the Social Gospel movement that has masqueraded under the term justiceand taken over a large swath of evangelicalism (especially among the Young, Restless and Reformed). Throngs of conservative Calvinists were thrilled to see the elder theologian weigh into this battle. Others were less than happy, and had no shortage of slams and insults to a man who’s been preaching since before their fathers were in diapers. We wrote about that post at Grace to You in our article here.


One such critic of the indomitable JMAC is Kyle J. Howard, the Marxist change-agent and former Southern Seminary student who gained fame for saying he was afraid to be left alone with James White, who he was sure was racist. Howard claims to have spent a secret period of his teenage years in a violent Atlanta street gang and identifies as a black man who has had to survive struggle and climb his way up from the streets and is now fighting against  bigotry, poverty, white privilege, and “racial trauma.” In reality, Howard is much Caucasian as black, was raised in an upper-class suburban home with two attorney parents, and was on the high school debate squad, not the Crips. He also claims his wife (who is also not black) was afraid to be on the campus of Southern Seminary because of the fear of racial violence. You can read more about Howard here.

Howard posted his video response to MacArthur here. In the video, Howard argues that MacArthur is guilty of arguing with strawmen, misrepresenting the social justice position. Howard said…

The thing that’s interesting to me though, is I don’t know he’s talking about. He talked about those demanding reparations from other believers…I wasn’t sure who he was talking about. To me, it seems he was talking about ghosts, no one who actually truly exists. As I’ve been following and I’ve engaged in these conversations for some time now, I’ve never known anyone who actually believes the issues or concerns John MacArthur had in that article. – Kyle J. Howard

Is he seeing ghosts?

Old man MacArthur must be totally out of his gourd, Howard presumes. After all, Howard is an expert in such things and heavily involved in the conversations and he’s never heard somebody equate something like reparations with the Gospel.

Except this guy?

Hughes is a student at Wake Forrest Divinity School. He also thinks that JMAC is a White Supremacist, at least if an RT and pinned tweet is any indication of endorsement.

MacArthur isn’t seeing ghosts. Even though Kyle J. Howard is Caucasian, he’s not quite as white as Casper. As Paul Washer might say, “I don’t know why you’re guffawing, I’m talking about you.”

via John MacArthur VS Kyle J. Howard on Reparations VS Gospel — Pulpit & Pen

UNITED IN HATE: The Love Affair Between Radical Islam and the Left

Absolute Truth from the Word of God

Three years ago I wrote an article about Islam. I was sick to death of hearing the Liberal press speak lies about Islam; defending it and presenting it to the world as “The Religion of Peace.”

After every Islamist terror attack, the Leftist journalists would write articles claiming that the attack had nothing to do with Islam.  They would insist that the perpetrators of the attacks were “fringe” elements of Islam and did not represent Islam and the Qur’an in any way.

That’s when I decided to find out what the Qur’an really said about terrorism. I found a credible website which offered the Qur’an in English. I began my research and subsequently wrote “The Truth About Islam.”

Original Article:

We hear so much about all of those moderate Muslims out there. Why aren’t they speaking against the jihadists? Certainly they don’t agree with the mass beheadings and terror, right?

View original post 2,721 more words

08/15/2018 — Wretched


•Witness Wednesday on the UGA campus
•A pleasant and considerate atheist
•A postmodern Presbyterian

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via 08/15/2018 — Wretched


We have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.

2 Corinthians 5:1

A lot of people talk about going to heaven in spite of the feeble hope popular religion affords.

Any valid hope of a state of blessedness beyond the incident of death must be in the goodness of God and in the work of atonement accomplished for us by Jesus Christ on the cross.

The deep, deep love of God is the fountain out of which flows our future beatitude; and the grace of God in Christ is the channel by which it reaches us. The cross of Christ creates a moral situation where every attribute of God is on the side of the returning sinner.

The true Christian may safely look forward to a future state that is as happy as perfect love wills it to be. Because love cannot desire for its object anything less than the fullest possible measure of enjoyment for the longest possible time, it is virtually beyond our power to conceive of a future as consistently delightful as that which Christ is preparing for us.

And who is to say what is possible with God?

Loving Lord, though we are the objects of Your perfect love, it is a safe guess to say that we are only partially aware of the benefits You desire to bestow upon us. Thank You, Father, for Your unfailing, overflowing love.[1]

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

August 15, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Motive for Submission

For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, (2:19–21a)

It should be of little consequence to believers what their circumstances are in the workplace, whether they are chief executive officers or custodians, whether they receive a substantial pay raise or settle for a salary cut so the company can stay solvent. The factor of overarching significance is that they maintain their testimony before the watching world of sinners (cf. Matt. 5:15–16; Mark 4:21; Phil. 2:14–16), and in the workplace that occurs when believers labor with an awareness of God’s glory. Such awareness is the motivation not only for godly behavior and submission on the job, but also for trusting in God’s sovereignty in every situation. Theologian A. W. Pink wrote,

As [one] sees the apparent defeat of the right, and the triumphing of might and the wrong … it seems as though Satan were getting the better of the conflict. But as one looks above, instead of around, there is plainly visible to the eye of faith a Throne.… This then is our confidence—God is on the Throne. (The Sovereignty of God, rev. ed. [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1961], 149–50; emphases in the original)

The motivation for believers’ submission in the workplace resides in the short phrase, for this finds favor, literally, “this is a grace.” God is pleased when believers do their work in a humble and submissive way for their superiors (cf. 1 Sam. 15:22; Pss. 26:3; 36:10; James 1:25). It is especially favorable to God when for the sake of conscience toward God a person [believer] bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. Whether it was a slave in Peter’s day patiently enduring brutal treatment, or whether it is a modern-day employee not retaliating against an unkind and unjust supervisor, God is pleased. This is what James referred to as a “consider it all joy” experience by which believers are perfected (James 1:2–4). The greater blessing is actually for the one who suffers.

Conscience toward God refers to the aforementioned general awareness of His presence, which again is believers’ main motivation for submission in the workplace. The word rendered bears up under means “to endure,” and the term sorrows implies pain, either physical or mental. The Lord wants believers, when suffering unjustly in the workplace, not to falter in their witness but humbly and patiently to accept unjust treatment, knowing that God has sovereign control of every circumstance (Pss. 33:11; 103:19; Prov. 16:1, 9; 19:21; Isa. 14:27; 46:9–10; Acts 17:28; Rom. 8:28–30; cf. 1:6–7; 2 Cor. 4:17–18) and promises to bless.

Undoubtedly many recipients of this epistle endured painful and unjust beatings as slaves. Their masters might have deprived them of food, forced them to work unreasonably long hours, or punished them unfairly in a variety of ways. Unlike modern-day employees in Western industrialized countries, those slaves had no one to turn to for redress of grievances—no union representatives, no government boards or ombudsmen to settle disputes, and no way to file civil lawsuits. They just had to endure whatever painful and difficult circumstances their masters imposed on them—and they did so, much to the glory and honor of God (cf. Matt. 5:10; 2 Thess. 1:4–5; James 5:11), which evidenced their heavenly perspective.

Peter pressed his argument with a negative rhetorical question, followed by a positive statement. The implied answer to his question, For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? is, “There is no credit.” Believers who sin deserve chastening (cf. Ps. 66:18; Jer. 5:25; Dan. 9:8; Heb. 12:5–11), and they ought to endure it with patience.

On the other hand, Peter offered the positive assertion, But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. When the believing slaves did what was right some still had to suffer for it, even to the extent of being harshly treated as if they really deserved punishment. This indicates that, among various forms, harsh treatment came physically, by means of repeated, hard blows with the fists or instruments (cf. Mark 14:65). Perhaps some were punished because of their Christian convictions. Again, those who endured such suffering patiently found favor or grace with God. It always pleases Him to see believers faithfully accept and deal with any adversity (cf. 3:14; 4:14, 16; Matt. 5:11–12; 1 Cor. 4:11–13; 2 Cor. 12:9–10; James 1:12).

Peter concluded this section with the amazing statement at the beginning of verse 21, For you have been called for this purpose. Have been called refers to the efficacious salvation call (1:15; 5:10; cf. Rom. 8:28, 30; 9:24; 1 Cor. 1:9; Gal. 1:6, 15; Eph. 4:1, 4; Col. 3:15; 2 Thess. 2:14; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 9:15; 2 Peter 1:3). As soon as the Holy Spirit calls people from darkness to light, they become an enemy of the world (John 15:18–19; 1 John 3:13) and a target of unjust and unfair attack as they seek to obey Christ. Paul told Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12; cf. Mark 10:30; John 15:20; 16:33).

It is more important to God that those who are citizens of heaven display a faithful testimony, marked by spiritual integrity, than that they strive to attain all their perceived rights in this world. It is more important to God for believers to uphold the credibility of gospel power than to obtain a raise or promotion in their vocation. It is ultimately far more important to God that believers demonstrate their submission to His sovereignty in every area of life than that they protest against problems at their workplace. Martyn Lloyd-Jones illustrated the value of Christians’ submitting to God’s purpose—the rigor of discipline and trials in everyday life—as follows:

We are like the school boy who would like to evade certain things, and run away from problems and tests. But we thank God that because he has a larger interest in us and knows what is for our good, he puts us through the disciplines of life—he makes us learn the multiplication table; we are made to struggle with the elements of grammar. Many things that are trials to us are essential that one day we may be found without spot or wrinkle. (The Miracle of Grace [reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986], 39)

Whenever believers encounter trials on the job, they ought to view them as opportunities for spiritual growth and evangelism. The chief reason God allows believers to remain in this world is so He might use them to win the lost and thereby bring glory to His name. Those who suffer with the right attitude will be blessed in this life and honored later in the Lord’s presence.[1]

2:20 / Peter gives an example of what he has in mind, thereby introducing his comments on Christ’s attitude toward suffering (vv. 21–24). Bearing up stoically under punishment for, say, insubordination or inefficiency, is hardly meritorious, since the penalty is deserved. But on occasions punishment may be meted out when some good action is misconstrued, either by accident or by design. It is in such a situation that believers are to reveal their Christ-centered life. The faithful are to endure it, accepting the undeserved pain, physical, mental, or emotional, as an inevitable consequence of living a God-honoring life in an environment that is not only godless but is, for that very reason, antagonistic to anything which exposes its own lower standards. Such acceptance of unjust suffering is commendable before God.[2]

2:19–20. Thus, Peter broadened his scope to include anyone who had experienced the pain of unjust suffering. The key in these verses is the emphasis on unjust suffering in verse 19 and doing good in verse 20. These expressions stand opposite doing wrong in verse 20. Peter was not commending suffering that enters our lives because we sin or do something wrong. His focus in this extended section was on living a good life on behalf of the Lord. He described a situation in which the believer does everything by the book but still suffers negative consequences and reactions.

Peter’s praise was directed toward the believer, who in the vice of unjust suffering, bears up under the pain, or is able to endure it. These expressions suggest that the believer patiently endures or puts up with the mistreatment. How is that possible? Peter’s answer is found in the niv’s translation of the last part of verse 19—because he is conscious of God. Paraphrasing Peter’s words of verse 19 could suggest this wording: “For this wins God’s approval when, because he is conscious of God’s presence, a person who is suffering unfairly bears his troubles patiently.”

Merely enduring unjust suffering and the accompanying pain is not what is pleasing to God. What pleases God is being mindful of God, cultivating a trusting awareness of God’s presence and of his never-failing care while we endure pain. When we are conscious of the presence of God in our lives, God gives us the necessary strength to bear the pain, and he extends his grace and mercy to enable us to respond positively as we continue to trust in him.[3]

20. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.

  • Retribution

Here is the conclusion to the argument on suffering that Peter develops. First he states the negative, and then the positive. The negative part he puts in the form of an inverse conditional sentence. The last clause of this sentence he places at the beginning so that it receives emphasis: “But how is it to your credit?” In the original, this particular word for “credit” differs from the term commendable. The word credit has its root in the verb to call. Whatever is reported favorably about someone is to a person’s credit; that is, he receives praise and honor.

The conditional clause in the sentence depicts indisputable reality. “If you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it,” why should you receive praise? Peter describes the situation of a slave whose master beats him with blows of a fist because the slave transgressed. Presumably the slave knew the instructions his master had given him. He chose to ignore them, however, and now being caught he has to endure his punishment. He deserves no sympathy and certainly no praise.

  • Reward

The original readers of Peter’s letter appear to have suffered pain unjustly. They have been trying to do that which is good, and yet have received physical blows for doing so. “But if you suffer for doing good and endure it, this is commendable before God.” Peter repeats this theme a few times in his epistle (see 2:19; 3:14, 17; 4:13–16). Furthermore, in the second half of the verse Peter echoes Jesus’ words: “And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you?” (Luke 6:33).

When the Christian slave does his work in harmony with the will of his master, he generally does so in harmony with the will of God. If the slave performs his duties well, but his perverse master beats him nevertheless, then he suffers unjustly.

Whenever possible, we should avoid seeking undeserved punishment. If we solicit punishment for the sake of glory, we are defeating ourselves. But when suffering is unavoidable, we should endure it patiently without complaint, for then we know that we are doing God’s will and receive his commendation. Such suffering, says Peter, who repeats the words of verse 19, “is commendable before God.” Moreover, although unjust suffering may arouse sympathy among men, in the sight of God the sufferer receives praise and commendation.

Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven. [Matt. 5:11–12][4]

2:20 There is no virtue in patient suffering for our own misdeeds. Certainly there is no glory for God in it. Such suffering will never mark us out as Christians, or make others want to become Christians. But suffering patiently for well-doing is the thing that counts. It is so unnatural, so other-worldly that it shocks people into conviction of sin and, hopefully, into salvation.[5]

2:20 Credit suggests benefit or personal gain. There is no advantage to believers for successfully enduring a deserved punishment for wrongdoing, yet there is great value when we honor God with our actions when we are unfairly condemned by others (3:17). take it patiently: Endurance and perseverance in the face of suffering please God.[6]

2:19–20. Peter set forth a principle here that may be applied to any situation where unjust suffering occurs. The commendable (lit., “for this is grace”) motivation for patiently bearing up under … unjust suffering is a believer’s conscious awareness of God’s presence. No credit accrues for enduring punishment for doing wrong. It is respectful submission to undeserved suffering that finds favor with God because such behavior demonstrates His grace.[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 160–163). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Hillyer, N. (2011). 1 and 2 Peter, Jude (p. 84). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] Walls, D., & Anders, M. (1999). I & II Peter, I, II & III John, Jude (Vol. 11, pp. 35–36). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 105–106). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2265). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1682). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[7] Raymer, R. M. (1985). 1 Peter. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, pp. 847–848). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

August 15 Christ Calls All Sinners to Repentance

I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners.—Matt. 9:13b

Everyone who is repentant, who acknowledges his or her sin and turns from it, is the object of Jesus’ call. The familiar Greek word (kaleo) rendered here “to call” is also used of inviting someone to your home to enjoy good hospitality. This implies that Jesus did not invite the Pharisees to a meal with other sinners for the same reason He does not call any self-righteous person to salvation. In both cases, the people do not see themselves as needy, do not want to associate with those considered lower than themselves, and therefore can’t identify themselves with the Lord Jesus.

Later on, Jesus told three parables to further illustrate His concern for penitent sinners. Parables of the lost sheep and lost coin show that “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7). The poignant story of the prodigal son especially illustrates the Lord’s point that the Father rejoices over every person who repents, and He grieves over everyone who thinks he has no need (see Luke 15:11–32).

Christ’s teaching is clear: the person who believes he or she is spiritually safe without Him has no part in His kingdom. Our Lord came to earth to call sinners to repentance, but He cannot seek and save (Luke 19:10) those who will not recognize they are lost—and the self-righteous need to reexamine their hearts concerning salvation before it’s too late.


We never outgrow our need, though we can easily outgrow our awareness of it. What can you do to help ensure that your utter dependence on God is never far from your thoughts and attitudes?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 236). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

Was Hillary The Real Colluder? | Zero Hedge

“It’s beginning to look as if claims of monstrous collusion between Russian officials and U.S. political operatives were true. But it wasn’t Donald Trump who was guilty of Russian collusion…”

You know the ‘Russiagate’ narrative is wearing thin on America’s thinking public when mainstream media are prepared to run such opinion pieces as Investors’ Business Daily just did…

Russian Collusion: It Was Hillary Clinton All Along

Russia Investigation: It’s beginning to look as if claims of monstrous collusion between Russian officials and U.S. political operatives were true. But it wasn’t Donald Trump who was guilty of Russian collusion. It was Hillary Clinton and U.S. intelligence officials who worked with Russians and others to entrap Trump.

That’s the stunning conclusion of a RealClear Investigations report by Lee Smith, who looked in-depth at the controversial June 2016 Trump Tower meeting between officials of then-candidate Donald Trump’s campaign staff and a Russian lawyer known to have ties with high-level officials in Vladimir Putin’s government.

The media have spun a tale of Trump selling his soul to the Russians for campaign dirt to use against Hillary, beginning with the now-infamous Trump Tower meeting.

But “a growing body of evidence … indicates that the meeting may have been a setup — part of a broad effort to tarnish the Trump campaign involving Hillary Clinton operatives employed by Kremlin-linked figures and Department of Justice officials,” wrote Smith.

Smith painstakingly weaves together the evidence that’s already out there but has been largely ignored by the mainstream media, which have become so seized with Trump-hatred that their reporting even on routine matters can no longer be trusted.

But he adds in more evidence that the Justice Department only recently handed over to Congress. And It’s damning.

Memos, emails and texts now in Congress’ possession show that the Justice Department and the FBI worked together both before and after the election with Fusion GPS and their main link to the scandal, former British spy and longtime FBI informant Chris Steele.

As a former British spook in Moscow, Steele had extensive ties to Russia. That’s why he was picked as the primary researcher to compile the “unverified and salacious” Trump dossier, as former FBI Director James Comey once described it.

Steele’s dossier, for which Fusion reportedly received $1 million, was largely based on interviews with Russian officials. And who paid that $1 million? As we and others have reported, it was Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee, then under Hillary’s control.

The media knew all this, of course, but largely ignored it.

The great irony here is that, after more than two years of investigating, the only real evidence of collusion with Russians at all points to Hillary Clinton. It was she who hired Steele to dig up dirt on Trump using Russian sources.

But now, it turns out, it goes even deeper than that.

Events surrounding that now-famous June 2016 Trump meeting suggest it, too, was a concoction of Hillary Clinton and her deep-state allies. And that meeting was the basis for much of the later Russian collusion “investigation,” if it can even be called that.

Bruce Ohr, the No. 4-ranking official at the Justice Department, “coordinated before, during and after the election” with both Fusion GPS founder Glenn Simpson and with Steele, notes Smith.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that Ohr’s wife Nellie, a sometime employee of the CIA, was also working for Fusion GPS.

The FBI fired Steele in October 2016 after it discovered that he leaked information to the press. But that meant nothing. Bruce Ohr merely continued as the conduit from Fusion GPS for information related to Steele’s bogus Trump dossier.

The FBI and Justice used information from that 35-page document as the pretense for the FISA wiretap on Trump aide Carter Page. Far from being limited in scope, those wiretaps in essence provided a backdoor key to the entire Trump campaign — and the basis for the Russian investigation.

So far so good.

But an earlier investigation by RealClearPolitics showed that as early as March 2016, the FBI, other Western intelligence sources and Clinton campaign operatives contacted the Trump campaign about potentially damaging information about Clinton.

They were in effect live-trolling the campaign.

This is significant. Natalia Veselnitskaya, the Putin-connected lawyer who contacted the Trump campaign about having dirt on Hillary Clinton, was a client of Fusion GPS when she met with Donald Trump Jr. and others in the Trump campaign.

And she was accompanied by a former Soviet military counterintelligence official, now working as a lobbyist, named Rinat Akhmetshin.

Let that sink in for a moment.

What’s especially curious is that GPS’ Glenn Simpson admits he had dinner with Veselnitskaya both the night before and the night after the Trump Tower meeting.

Any possibility there was no discussion of the meeting between the two? Seems highly unlikely. Veselnitskaya herself subsequently claimed that the talking points for her meeting with the Trump people were provided to her by Simpson.

Once in the meeting, she quickly dropped the promises of having dirt on Hillary Clinton and instead brought up Russia’s long-standing desire to get rid of the Magnitsky Act, under which the U.S. imposed sanctions on a number of Russian moguls and government officials.

In short, they were baiting a trap for the Trump campaign to make it appear as if they were colluding with Russian officials.

Given the nonstop media coverage following leaks by the FBI and Justice, it seems the meeting served its purpose: It sowed the seeds of suspicion about the Trump campaign’s supposed Russian collusion.

The evidence goes even deeper than what we have summarized here. We suggest you read Smith’s piece, linked above.

Congress, using the documents it pried out of the Justice Department after repeated requests, is busy getting at what might turn out to be the scandal of the century. And Congress is now doing the work the Justice Department and FBI won’t.

“So here you have information flowing from the Clinton campaign from the Russians, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes told Fox News on Sunday.

Was Hillary The Real Colluder?

Nunes, who heads Congress’ investigation into the matter, said it was likely that information “was handed directly from Russian propaganda arms to the Clinton campaign, fed into the top levels of the FBI and Department of Justice to open up a counterintelligence investigation into a political campaign that has now colluded (with) nearly every top official at the DOJ and FBI over the course of the last couple years. Absolutely amazing.”

We have to agree. If all that is true, it is absolutely amazing. After all, these are serious felonies, using the federal agencies to spy on a political opponent in league with a hostile foreign power.

As we said, the only real collusion appears to be on the part of the Clinton campaign — aided by the Obama administration, CIA chief John Brennan and a handful of high-level officials at the Department of Justice and FBI.

What’s next? It’s possible the collusion investigation soon will turn from Trump to Clinton.

If so, it could lead to more resignations and possibly jail time for those involved. That includes perhaps even Hillary Clinton, who sits at the political epicenter of all this illegality.
— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-08-15/was-hillary-real-colluder

Willow Creek’s Fate Ends in Mass Resignations — Pulpit & Pen

Inside a brightly lit conference room overlooking downtown Chicago, Bill Hybels struggled to explain away allegations that he had acted inappropriately with women during decades as leader of one of America’s most influential megachurches.

Then still the pastor of Willow Creek Community Church — and the leader of its Christian empire around the globe — Hybels had managed to avoid any rigorous investigation by the church’s board of elders or an independent third party. But on that day in March, he found himself sitting in the office of a crisis communications firm, attempting to keep control of events that were for the first time slipping away from him.

“I don’t know who’s colluding with who, who promised who what, what was the reward — a promise to someone for going public with these absolute lies,” Hybels said with anger in his voice. “There had to be some kind of inducement, but I don’t know what it is.”

The women, church employees among them, had said Hybels made suggestive comments. Some said he invited them to hotel rooms while on overseas trips. There was an allegation of an unwanted kiss and stories of intense hugs that lasted too long. There was a claim of a consensual affair, which the woman later retracted.

As the Tribune interview he had reluctantly agreed to came to an end, Hybels made a final plea for the allegations to be discounted and for his work and reputation not to be tarnished.

“Forty-two years of my life,” Hybels said of his career as a church leader. “Forty-two years.”

Now, after five months and four congregational meetings, accusations and apologies from the pulpit, the church’s top leadership has stopped trying to discredit Hybels’ accusers or assure the congregation that the right steps were taken to hold the pastor accountable.

Though he has not admitted guilt, Hybels stepped down in April. Earlier this month, lead teaching pastor Steve Carter departed, saying he was “gravely concerned about our church’s official response.” And then days ago, Willow Creek’s new lead pastor, Heather Larson, resigned her post along with the entire board of elders. One of them, Missy Rasmussen, acknowledged the board had failed to act quickly and had its judgment clouded by a “lens of trust we had in Bill.”

Continue Reading >>

via Willow Creek’s Fate Ends in Mass Resignations — Pulpit & Pen


Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ….


There seems to be a great throng of professing Christians in our churches today whose total and amazing testimony sounds like this: “I am thankful for God’s plan in sending Christ to the cross to save me from hell.”

I am convinced that it is a cheap, low-grade and misleading kind of Christianity that impels people to rise and state: “Because of sin I was deeply in debt—and God sent His Son, who came and paid all my debts.”

Of course believing Christian men and women are saved from the judgment of hell and it is a reality that Christ our Redeemer has paid the whole slate of debt and sin that was against us. But what does God say about His purposes in allowing Jesus to go to the cross and to the grave? What does God say about the meaning of death and resurrection for the Christian believer?

Surely we know the Bible well enough to be able to answer that: God’s highest purpose in the redemption of sinful humanity was based in His hope that we would allow Him to reproduce the likeness of Jesus Christ in our once-sinful lives!

So, acknowledging this, we are able to humbly testify with the Apostle Paul: “I have been crucified with Christ—and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God!”[1]

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

Why Leftism Can Never Truly Support The Concept Of Free Speech — The Federalist

Commentators keep on pointing out examples of the Left’s antagonism toward free speech as if this were inconsistent with its first principles. It’s not. Leftism cannot be for free speech. Why? Because of what political philosopher Eric Voegelin recognized as the Gnostic character of its first principles.

Speech depends on the one-to-one correspondence between external realities and communicable concepts. Speech is reality’s witness and herald. What happens when you deny the fabric of external reality, as Gnosticism does? Or when, as leftism believes, objective reality is the projection of psychic and systemic forces by retrograde powers?

What happens is speech becomes an instrument of perversity, oppression, or illusion, and the only proper way to engage it is to reject it violently and put something else in its place.

via Why Leftism Can Never Truly Support The Concept Of Free Speech — The Federalist

How Bruce Ohr Could Implicate High-Ranking Obama Officials In Spygate — The Federalist

Investigative reporter John Solomon broke news last week of texts and emails between former associate deputy attorney general Bruce Ohr and Trump dossier author Christopher Steele regarding the Russia investigation, and revealed the content of notes Ohr took during a December meeting with Steele’s boss at Fusion GPS, Glenn Simpson.

Solomon’s reporting confirmed the FBI used Ohr to continue gathering information from Steele, even after the former British spy was terminated as a source by the bureau because he leaked word of the investigation to the press. Ohr’s role as a conduit allowed the FBI to continue to use Steele as an indirect source, even after Trump was elected and inaugurated.

Ohr lost his high-ranking slot at the Department of Justice in December 2017, when the Trump administration learned of his connection to Steele, and with it his office just doors away from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. He briefly retained a high-ranking position as the director of Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces, but was demoted a second time in January 2018. He still works for the DOJ, but no longer holds a top leadership position.

Rep. Devin Nunes, who chairs the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI), said last week Ohr “is going to become more and more important” to the investigation into the DOJ’s use of Steele’s dossier on Trump to obtain permission to spy on his former campaign advisor, Carter Page. That’s the understatement of the year.

The details revealed in the emails and texts, in conjunction with previously released information, suggest DOJ and FBI employees operated outside the chain of command, misled their bosses (and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court), and concealed evidence from congressional oversight committees. Let’s review two key questions the revelations raise.

via How Bruce Ohr Could Implicate High-Ranking Obama Officials In Spygate — The Federalist

August 15 Beware of False Prophets

False christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive.

Mark 13:22

False prophets have been around since the beginning of redemptive history (see Deut. 13:1–5), and they always find a hearing. In His Olivet Discourse, Jesus warned, “‘Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name … and will deceive many’” (Matt. 24:4–5). Years later the apostle John told his readers that “many deceivers have gone out into the world” (2 John 7).

False prophets have always enjoyed some degree of popularity because so many people do not want to hear the truth. Thus John admonished all believers, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 248). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

Wednesday Briefing Aug 15, 2018 – AlbertMohler.com

New, expanding wave of sexual abuse allegations rocks Roman Catholic Church

New York Time (Laurie Goodstein and Sharon Otterman) — ‘They Hid It All’: Catholic Priests Abused 1,000 Children in Pennsylvania, Report Says

Washington Post (Michelle Boorstein and Gary Gately) — More than 300 accused priests listed in Pennsylvania report on Catholic Church sex abuse

Washington Post (Chico Harlan) — Why the Vatican continues to struggle with sex abuse scandals

Wall Street Journal (William McGurn) — When the Cardinal Sins

Lessons from Willow Creek: What we must learn from the mishandling of sexual misconduct allegations at one of America’s largest protestant churches

New York Times (Laurie Goodstein) — He’s a Superstar Pastor. She Worked for Him and Says He Groped Her Repeatedly.

It tells us something about human nature that human beings will gamble on just about anything, including opera

Wall Street Journal (Reuven Brenner) — Legal Gambling Can Be Good for Sports—and Even for Opera

— Read on albertmohler.com/2018/08/15/briefing-8-15-18/