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).

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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.

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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.

Photo:

wikipedia
— 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

https://www.faithwire.com/2018/04/16/we-hope-that-china-will-be-merciful-chinese-pastors-american-family-plead-for-his-release/embed/#?secret=f6gdVDmLMS

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

https://www.faithwire.com/2018/05/21/purge-against-christians-underway-in-china-as-persecution-ramps-up/embed/#?secret=qK04yLkqwd

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

https://www.faithwire.com/2018/06/25/pray-chinas-underground-churches-ordered-to-apply-for-permits-seek-guidance-from-state-approved-organizations/embed/#?secret=J7EInisxE4

“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.

VS

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

WR2018-0815

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

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via 08/15/2018 — Wretched