Daily Archives: November 10, 2018

NOVEMBER 10 SAVED TO WORSHIP

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

—1 Peter 2:9

I believe a local church exists to do corporately what each Christian believer should be doing individually—and that is to worship God. It is to show forth the excellencies of Him who has “called [us] out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). It is to reflect the glories of Christ ever shining upon us through the ministries of the Holy Spirit.

I am going to say something to you which will sound strange. It even sounds strange to me as I say it, because we are not used to hearing it within our Christian fellowships. We are saved to worship God. All that Christ has done for us in the past and all that He is doing now leads to this one end….

If we are willing to confess that we have been called out of darkness to show forth the glory of Him who called us, we should also be willing to take whatever steps are necessary to fulfill our high design and calling as the New Testament Church. WHT093-094, 097

Lord, I acknowledge today that my highest calling and my purpose for existence is to worship You. May I and my church glorify You through our worship. Amen. [1]


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

November 10 Reasons for Rejoicing

Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory.

1 Peter 1:8

Christians have many reasons for rejoicing. The primary one is based on who God is—He is sovereign. That is the single greatest truth about God. Nothing is outside His control, and He controls everything to work out ultimately for our good (Rom. 8:28). He has an infinite understanding of every aspect of our lives—where we are and what we say (Ps. 139:2–4). And He exercises His understanding in perfect wisdom. Knowing God like that should give us inexpressible and glorious joy.

We should also rejoice because God saved us, adopted us, and promised to give us an inheritance in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:1–11). When Christ returns, we will enjoy His presence and the heavenly place prepared for us (John 14:2–3). Until then, we have joy in knowing God has promised to supply all our needs (Phil. 4:19). Furthermore, we have the privilege of serving the One we supremely love. That includes sharing the good news with the lost and encouraging fellow Christians to grow in their love and service for Him. We can also have joy in knowing we can pray to God at any time (Heb. 4:15–16).[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 339). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

Saturday Sampler: November 4 — November 10 — The Outspoken TULIP

What causes so much compromise in the church? Mike Ratliff raises the possibility that much of it results from a disdain for God’s Word. His article, Bible Inspiration, appears in Possessing the Treasure as an encouragement to remember the very Source of Scripture.

Have you ever tried to understand God’s holiness? As Allen S. Nelson IV shows us in his post for Things Above Us, Comprehending Holiness is a daunting and wonderful duty for all believers.

Reformation 21 runs The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel Explained: Sexuality and Marriage by James White. In our social climate, his common sense is sadly lacking as well as necessary.

I’m not a parent, and I’m only an honorary grandmother, but I have definite beliefs about child rearing. So I appreciate Denny Burk for his Biblical response in his post, Pediatricians say spanking is bad. Are they right? Remember, the world opposes God on every level.

Sinclair Ferguson examines Apostasy and How it Happens on the Ligonier blog. Having watched many of my friends turn away from the Lord over the years, I find this article quite helpful in understanding their actions.

Do you know what I admire about Michelle Lesley? She bases her reasoning squarely on Scripture. Throwback Thursday: Can a False Teacher be Saved? is a splendid example of drawing conclusions through the study of God’s Word.

Who Is Jesus? Leslie A of Growing 4 Life distinguishes between the popular conception of Jesus and what the Bible actually teaches about Him.

Some missionaries I know often email me requesting that I pray for Jesus to reveal Himself to Muslims in their area through dreams. I absolutely refuse to do so, of course, but I couldn’t figure out why Muslims seem to have these dreams. Praise God for Elizabeth Prata’s essay Blasphemy: Jesus is not Isa, Isa is not Jesus in The End Time. Elizabeth explains this disturbing phenomenon well, showing why Christians should never celebrate it.

via Saturday Sampler: November 4 — November 10 — The Outspoken TULIP

November 10, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Authority for Discipline

Truly I say to you, whatever you shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst. (18:18–20)

To emphasize the absolute trustworthiness of what He was about to say, Jesus declared, “Truly I say to you.” That phrase, which the Lord often used, should always be noted with special care, because it introduces a teaching of unusual importance.

The work of discipline should be undertaken with the greatest care. Done in the wrong way or in the wrong spirit it can do great damage by fostering self-righteousness and legalism, just as discipline not done at all causes great damage by allowing sin’s influence to spread like leaven.

Jesus’ promises in verses 18 and 19 have suffered serious misinterpretation throughout the history of the church, the most extreme being the Roman Catholic doctrine that the church has the divine authority to forgive sin. Many charismatics use these promises—along with others, such as those of Matthew 7:7 and 21:22—to claim from God every imaginable blessing and privilege just for the asking.

But in light of the context of what Jesus had just said, in the light of common rabbinical expressions of that day, and in light of the grammatical construction of the text, it is clear that He was not teaching that God’s power can be bent to men’s will. He was not saying that men can force heaven to do things. Quite to the contrary, His promise was that when His people bend their wills to His, He will endorse and empower their act of obedience. (See comments on Matthew 16:19, in chapter 4 of this volume.)

Jesus was here continuing His instruction about church discipline. He was not speaking about petitioning God for special blessings or privileges, and even less was He teaching that the church or any of its leaders has power to absolve the sins of its members. He was declaring that the church has a divine mandate to discipline its members when they refuse to repent.

The rabbis sometimes spoke of a principle or action as being bound in heaven or loosed in heaven to indicate, respectively, that it was forbidden or permitted in light of God’s revealed Word. A Jew of that day would have understood that Jesus did not mean that men could bend heaven’s will to their own but that God (here called heaven, a common Jewish substitute for God’s covenant name, Yahweh, or Jehovah) had an expressed principle with which the church must conform.

The grammatical construction in the passage also clarifies its meaning. As in Matthew 16:19, shall be bound and shall be loosed translate future perfect passives and are more accurately rendered “will have been bound” and “will have been loosed.” The idea is not that God is compelled to conform to the church’s decisions but that, when the church follows Christ’s pattern for discipline, it conforms its decisions to what God has already done and thereby receives heaven’s approval and authority.

Perfect passives are also used in John 20:23 in regard to forgiving or retaining sins. Believers have authority to declare that sins are either forgiven or not forgiven when that declaration is based on the teaching of God’s Word. If a person has received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, the church can tell him with perfect confidence that his sins are loosed, that is, forgiven, because he has met God’s condition for forgiveness, namely, trust in His Son. If, on the other hand, a person refuses to receive Christ as Savior and acknowledge Him as Lord, the church can tell him with equal confidence that his sins are bound, that is, not forgiven, because he has not met God’s condition for forgiveness.

Some years ago a man told me he believed he was going to heaven because he was following the religious system prescribed by a popular cult. Because the bizarre beliefs of that group were utterly contrary to the gospel, I told him that he was lost, was still in his sins, and could not possibly be destined for heaven. On the basis of his own confession matched against God’s Word, the man could not have been saved. To tell him that he was still bound in his sins was not to judge his heart supernaturally nor sovereignly condemn him but simply to affirm what God’s own Word clearly says about him and about every person who hopes to come to God by any other path than trust in His Son.

Obviously, this is a serious ministry in the church and one that may be approached with great reluctance. “Who are we to do such work?” we ask. “What authority do we have for such strong dealings with fellow believers? We’re sinful, too.” But when the church administers discipline according to the pattern of Matthew 18:15–17, it can have perfect confidence that it acts in the authority and power of heaven, as promised in verses 18–20.

The Lord gives no command without giving the necessary power and authority to obey it. In these three climaxing verses in Jesus’ instruction about church discipline we learn that, when the Lord’s people sincerely seek to purify His church in His way, they have the energy, approval, and authority both of the Father and of the Son.

Jesus first assures His people that the Father acts with them when they work to purify the church: Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth (referring back to the two witnesses of v. 16) about anything that they may ask (in seeking the purity of the church) it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. When the church acts in God’s behalf and in accordance with His Word in matters dealing with sin, He acts in their behalf by confirming and empowering their faithful decisions and actions.

Agree is from sumphōneō, which literally means to sound together and is the term from which we get symphony. If even two of Jesus’ followers are in agreement with each other that a sinning believer has either repented or refused to repent, they can be sure they are also in agreement with the Father who is in heaven.

As already mentioned, to interpret this verse as promising believers a blank check for anything they might agree to ask God for not only does not fit the context of church discipline but does violence to the rest of Scripture. Such an interpretation is tantamount to magic, in which God is automatically bound to grant the most foolish or sinful request, simply because two of His children conspire to ask Him for it. The idea flies in the face of God’s sovereignty and completely undercuts the countless scriptural commands for believers’ obedient submission to His will.

Jesus also assures His people that He Himself acts with them when they work to purify the church: For where two or three have gathered together in My name, there I am in their midst. Not only does the Father confirm discipline when it is administered according to His Word, but the Son adds His own divine confirmation.

This verse is also frequently misinterpreted, though not with such serious error as in the misinterpretations of the two previous verses. To use this statement to claim the Lord’s presence at a small worship service or prayer meeting does not fit the context of church discipline and is superfluous. Christ is always present with His people, even with a lone believer totally separated from fellow Christians by prison walls or by hundreds of miles.

The context demands that the two or three are witnesses in the process of discipline. To ask or to do anything in God’s name is not to utter His name but to ask and to work according to His divine will and character. For the witnesses to have gathered in His name is therefore for them to have faithfully performed their work of verifying the repentance or impenitence of a sinning brother or sister on the Lord’s behalf. When the church gathers in the Lord’s name and for His cause and glory, it must be engaged in self-purifying ministry under His power and authority, and with His heavenly confirmation and partnership.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian of rather liberal persuasion who was caught in the terrors of Nazi Germany, wrote a book entitled Life Together. In it he gives some profound insights into the need for restoring a sinning brother to the fellowship of the church.

Sin demands to have a man by himself. It withdraws him from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him, and the more deeply he becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is his isolation. Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed it poisons the whole being of a person. This can happen even in the midst of a pious community. In confession, the light of the gospel breaks into the darkness and seclusion of the heart. The sin must be brought into the light. The unexpressed must be openly spoken and acknowledged. All that is secret and hidden is made manifest. It is a hard struggle until the sin is openly admitted, but God breaks gates of brass and bars of iron (Ps. 107:16).

Since the confession of sin is made in the presence of a Christian brother, the last stronghold of self-justification is abandoned. The sinner surrenders; he gives up all his evil. He gives his heart to God, and he finds the forgiveness of all his sin in the fellowship of Jesus Christ and his brother. The expressed, acknowledged sin has lost all its power. It has been revealed and judged as sin. It can no longer tear the fellowship asunder. Now the fellowship bears the sin of the brother. He is no longer alone with his evil for he has cast off his sin from him. Now he stands in the fellowship of sinners who live by the grace of God and the cross of Jesus Christ.… The sin concealed separated him from the fellowship, made all his apparent fellowship a sham; the sin confessed has helped him define true fellowship with the brethren in Jesus Christ. ([New York: Harper & Row, 1954], 112–13)[1]


20 Derrett (“Where two or three”) suggests that the “two or three” [judges] reflect known Jewish legal practice. Each of the disputing parties would nominate his own “judge,” a layman known to be impartial, and these two would try to settle the problem. If this effort failed, they would approach a third, unconnected with the disputants, who worked with the others either along the lines of arbitration or adjudication. The parallel is very neat and nicely accounts for Jesus’ “two or three.” My chief hesitation comes from the fact that Jesus has just told the complainant to “tell it to the church” (v. 17), not to judges appointed by the disputants. Here the Dead Sea Scrolls (referred to above) may offer a closer parallel. Moreover, Derrett assumes that the “two” in v. 19 and the “two or three” in v. 20 are not the same individuals but disputants and judges respectively. But these points are not decisive. We have as parallels not only 1 Corinthians 5, where the entire church meets on an issue, but also 1 Corinthians 6:4, where the church becomes involved through appointed judges. Matthew 18:19–20 remains difficult; at this point we must be content with a balance of probabilities.[2]


18:18–20 / Verses 18–20 are quite often included in the previous paragraph. Gundry says that Matthew composed verses 16–20 as an expansion of the saying in verse 15 (p. 370). They extend to the church the power of “binding and loosing” that was earlier given to Peter at Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:19). In the current context, prohibiting would refer to bringing judgment against the one who sinned against a fellow Christian and permitting would be pronouncing in favor of the accused. The final outcome would be excommunication or absolution. Whatever decision the church makes, it will be sanctioned in heaven.

Though verses 19 and 20 appear to be speaking of corporate prayer, the context suggests that the agreement reached with its heavenly sanction relates to the matter of church discipline mentioned in verse 17. The Greek text of verse 19 opens with the connective palin (“again”). That which two or three come to agree on (symphōneō means “to produce a sound together,” cf. the English “symphony”) has to do with the decision concerning an unrepentant member of the believing community. God will answer the united concern of praying people. In fact, wherever two or three come together earnestly desiring to know the will of God, he himself will be “right there with them” (Williams).[3]


18:19–20. These two verses are among the most misunderstood in the Bible. They are traditionally taken to mean that God pays special attention to the prayers of believers when two or more gather or agree together. But such an interpretation is wrong for two reasons: (1) it takes the statements out of the context of church discipline and the pursuit of the straying brother; and (2) the conclusions that it leads to regarding prayer is contrary to Scripture.

Nowhere in the Bible does God imply that he listens any differently to one person praying than he does to two, ten, or five hundred. If he does hear two or more people better than he hears one, then we must assume that Jesus’ prayers lacked effectiveness when he went off alone to pray (14:23; 26:36–44). James made the point that the prayer of a single righteous person is powerful enough to heal a sick person by drawing on the power of the God who listens to each of his children, together or individually (Jas. 5:14–18).

This promise guarantees guidance for the two or three (actually a figure of speech recognizing the part for the whole) who confront a straying believer. This is also a promise to the church to claim wisdom and act with authority in the restoration process toward the sinning person. In other words, when this process is pursued as Christ outlined it, his presence and power are assured.

Agree is from sumphoneo (literally, “sound out together”), meaning “harmonize.” Anything you ask for in this context means an appeal to God for support of the witnesses’ actions to restore the sinning brother or to excommunicate him.

By his reference back to a few details from 18:15–17, Jesus was implying a reference to all of the details. So, in this “if” clause, Jesus was saying, “The condition upon which God will base his endorsement of your disciplinary activity is your pursuit of your brother, with the zealous love of the Father in your hearts, and with careful attention to the guidelines I have given.” If we follow these guidelines, the fulfillment of God’s will concerning the sinning brother will be done for you by my Father in heaven.

By his promise to be present with them, Jesus claimed a role belonging only to the Almighty (cf. Joel 2:27; Zech. 2:10–11). His promise was another claim to deity.[4]


20. For where two or three are gathered in my name there am I in the midst of them. The expression “two or three” is a development of “two” in the preceding verse. The Lord again assures his disciples that the gathering of believers for prayer and worship need not be one of “crowding worshipers.” Even two or three will receive a blessing as long as they gather in his name, that is, in close fellowship with him; hence, with his atoning work as the basis of their approach to God, at his direction, and in harmony with that which he has revealed concerning himself. For the concept “name” see also on 6:9; 7:22; 10:22, 41, 42; 12:21; 18:5.

The promise is, “There am I in the midst of them.” The expression “Jehovah (“God” or “I”) in the midst of you (“her,” “us”)” is in Scripture generally associated with the impartation of strength, direction, protection, and consolation: “to help, to comfort, and to bless.” See such passages as Ps. 46:5; Isa. 12:6; Jer. 14:9; Hos. 11:9; Zeph. 3:5, 15, 17; Zech. 2:10. Similar is “I am (“will be”) with you” (Gen. 28:15; Deut. 31:6; Josh. 1:5; Judg. 6:16, etc.). We can safely conclude therefore that in the present passage the meaning is the same. It is in that favorable sense that Jesus is spiritually in the midst of his people gathered for prayer and worship.

Most comforting is also the fact that Jehovah—and this holds also for Jesus Christ—though great and infinite, in his tender love condescends to that which is small, weak, humble, and by the world generally despised (Judg. 6:15, 16; 7:7; Ps. 20:7; Isa. 1:8, 9; 57:15; Zeph. 3:12; Matt. 18:10; Luke 12:32; 1 Cor. 4:11–13). This explains “where two or three are gathered, etc.” See also on Matt. 1:23, p. 141.[5]


THE POWER OF THE PRESENCE

Matthew 18:19–20

‘Again, I tell you, that if two of you agree upon earth upon any matter for which you are praying, you will receive it from my Father who is in heaven. Where two or three are assembled together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.’

Here is one of these sayings of Jesus whose meaning we need to probe, or else we will be left with heartbreak and great disappointment. Jesus says that if two upon earth agree upon any matter for which they are praying, they will receive it from God. If that is to be taken literally, and without any qualification, it is manifestly untrue. On countless occasions, two people have agreed to pray for the physical or the spiritual welfare of a loved one—and their prayer has not, in the literal sense, been answered. Time after time, God’s people have agreed to pray for the conversion of their own land or the conversion of unbelievers and the coming of the kingdom, and even today that prayer is far from being fully answered. People agree to pray—and pray desperately—and do not receive that for which they pray. There is no point in refusing to face the facts of the situation, and nothing but harm can result from teaching people to expect what does not happen. But when we come to see what this saying means, there is a precious depth in it.

(1) First and foremost, it means that prayer must never be selfish and that selfish prayer cannot find an answer. We are not meant to pray only for our own needs, thinking of nothing and no one but ourselves; we are meant to pray as members of a fellowship, in agreement, remembering that life and the world are arranged not for us as individuals but for the fellowship as a whole. It would often happen that if our prayers were answered, the prayers of someone else would be disappointed. Often, our prayers for our success would necessarily involve someone else’s failure. Effective prayer must be the prayer of agreement, from which the element of selfish concentration on our own needs and desires has been quite cleansed away.

(2) When prayer is unselfish, it is always answered. But here, as everywhere, we must remember the basic law of prayer—that law is that in prayer we receive not the answer which we desire, but the answer which God in his wisdom and his love knows to be best. Simply because we are human beings, with human hearts and fears and hopes and desires, most of our prayers are prayers for escape. We pray to be saved from some trial, some sorrow, some disappointment, some hurting and difficult situation. And always God’s answer is the offer not of escape, but of victory. God does not give us escape from a human situation; he enables us to accept what we cannot understand; he enables us to endure what without him would be unendurable; he enables us to face what without him would be beyond all facing. The perfect example of all this is Jesus in Gethsemane. He prayed to be released from the fearful situation which confronted him. He was not released from it; but he was given power to meet it, to endure it and to conquer it. When we pray unselfishly, God sends his answer—but the answer is always his answer and not necessarily ours.

(3) Jesus goes on to say that where two or three are gathered in his name, he is there in the midst of them. The Jews themselves had a saying: ‘Where two sit and are occupied with the study of the law, the glory of God is among them.’ We may take this great promise of Jesus into two spheres.

(a) We may take it into the sphere of the Church. Jesus is just as much present in the little congregation as in the great mass meeting. He is just as much present at the prayer meeting or the Bible study circle with their handful of people as in the crowded arena. He is not the slave of numbers. He is there wherever faithful hearts meet, however few they may be; for he gives all of himself to each individual person.

(b) We may take it into the sphere of the home. One of the earliest interpretations of this saying of Jesus was that the two or three are father, mother and child, and that it means that Jesus is there, the unseen guest in every home.

There are those who never give of their best except on the so-called great occasion; but, for Jesus Christ, every occasion where even two or three are gathered in his name is a great occasion.[6]


18:20 Verse 20 should be interpreted in light of its context. It does not refer primarily to the composition of a NT church in its simplest form, nor to a general prayer meeting, but to a meeting where the church seeks the reconciliation of two Christians separated by some sin. It may legitimately be applied to all meetings of believers where Christ is the Center, but a specific type of meeting is in view here.

To meet “in His name” means by His authority, in acknowledgment of all that He is, and in obedience to His Word. No group can claim to be the only ones who meet in His name; if that were so, His presence would be limited to a small segment of His body on earth. Wherever two or three are gathered in recognition of Him as Lord and Savior, he is there in the midst.[7]


18:20 — “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.”

The Spirit of Jesus lives in each individual Christian, but He promises to be with them in a unique and special way when they gather “in His name” for worship, service, and mutual encouragement.[8]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Vol. 3, pp. 136–139). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 458). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Mounce, R. H. (2011). Matthew (pp. 176–177). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, pp. 294–295). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 702–703). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] Barclay, W. (2001). The Gospel of Matthew (Third Ed., pp. 221–223). Edinburgh: Saint Andrew Press.

[7] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1274). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[8] Stanley, C. F. (2005). The Charles F. Stanley life principles Bible: New King James Version (Mt 18:20). Nashville, TN: Nelson Bibles.

Yoga and meditation on the rise among US adults and kids — Christian Research Network

Read this….and then read Going Against God “Just for Fun” to see what God says about His people playing around in the world of the occult.

(Naomi Thomas – CNN)  More Americans are turning to forms of complementary medicine such as yoga, meditation and chiropractors, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, part of the National Institutes of Health, says in reports released Thursday that more than 30% of US adults and about 12% of children use “healthcare approaches that are not typically part of conventional medical care or that may have origins outside of usual Western practices.”

Complementary medicine is when these practices are used alongside conventional medicine.

“Many people turn to complementary health approaches, such as yoga and meditation, in order to help with symptom management, such as pain. As well, they turn to these approaches for a general sense of wellbeing,” Richard Nahin, the lead epidemiologist at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and co-author of the reports, wrote in an email.

The reports, which were compiled using data from the National Center for Health Statistics’ National Health Interview Survey, looked at the use of yoga, meditation and chiropractors between 2012 and 2017.

The practice of yoga rose from 3.1% of the overall child population in 2012 to 8.4% in 2017 and from 9.5% to 14.3% in adults, equating to about 4.9 million children and 35.2 million adults doing yoga in 2017. View article →

Research:

Going Against God “Just for Fun”

New Age Movement & Spirituality

Yoga

Yoga and meditation on the rise among US adults and kids — Christian Research Network

270 Thousand Embezzled from James McDonald’s Harvest Bible Church (Less than 1% of Giving) — Pulpit & Pen

James McDonald, whose megachurch joined the SBC in 2015, has been busy frivolously suing blogger-journalists for hurting his image by having the audacity to publish true things. Harvest Bible Church made McDonald step down from his position as “president” of the organization in 2017, but retaining him as a celebrity teacher. As Pulpit & Pen reported at the time, this is after more than 600 thousand dollars allegedly went missing from the coffers.

Harvest Bible Church members were reportedly sent a mass email on October 23, 2018, alerting them to several controversies. Included in that letter, aside from notifying them a staff member was credibly accused of sexual assault and a brief mention of their frivolous lawsuits, the church explained that 270 thousand dollars was embezzled from the church. Never fear, however…that’s less than one percent of the church’s overall giving.

The church email is as follows…

October 23, 2018
Dear Church Family:

The mission given to us by Jesus Christ is so wonderful, isn’t it?  We get to tell the world the good news that Christ is risen, sins are forgiven, and joy is available to all who trust Him in everything. Good News.

Maybe that is why it’s so hard to give difficult news. Nevertheless, we have a responsibility to be transparent with our congregation in order to keep trust high.

Last week, we discovered evidence that a non-ministry member of our staff who worked in operations defrauded the church of an amount of money. If the evidence proves true, this would lead to a criminal charge being filed, and a preliminary report was filed today with the Elgin police department. The amount of money in question appears to be less than 1% of our annual budget and the time period appears to be less than a year. This person has never led any public ministry in our church and is on leave pending the completion of this investigation. We are looking to lay leaders and outside expertise who will work with our insurance on maximum recovery of funds. A full report will come to the congregation as soon as the investigation is complete and the facts are fully known.

I am also sorry to report that a youth director who served with us a few short months was involuntarily released last January when illegal and disqualifying behavior came to light. The three affected families, as well as parents of students on those campuses, as well as DCFS were notified immediately. Find here the statement issued to the press and their article here. The June call they reference was a follow up from Craig Steiner, our Aurora Campus Pastor. That call seems to have provoked what the initial January reports did not. All of this is documented.

Please also be in prayer about the lawsuit filed to protect our church from lies that seek to discredit our ministry. For example, in the matter mentioned above, we have had to resist extensive efforts to distort the truth about a matter our church handled with integrity toward all parties involved. You can read more about the legal protection we are seeking in the October Elder Update, including our biblical rationale and how we came to this decision.
You may direct any questions in these matters to our Elders in writing at elders@harvestbiblechapel.org.

We should not be surprised when the enemy is attacking and agitating, “as though something strange were happening to [us]” (1 Peter 4:12). We are involved in a battle of intense fury, where the enemy is scheming to knock us down. May we redouble our efforts to keep the Good News central and our Vertical focus strong.

Please pray and “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

God is good, and we can trust Him.

Pastor James and Pastor Rick

Lead Pastors Trei Tatum, Luke MacDonald, Jeff Donaldson, Mohan Zachariah, and Landon MacDonald


Alleged police report on the embezzlement of funds.

[Editor’s Note: HT Wartburg Watch]

270 Thousand Embezzled from James McDonald’s Harvest Bible Church (Less than 1% of Giving) — Pulpit & Pen

November 10 Living Unselfishly

“If you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth.”

James 3:14

✧✧✧

A wise person lives for God and others, not for self.

Having characterized spiritual wisdom in the preceding verse, James begins to analyze worldly wisdom in verse 14. Worldly wisdom is not of God. It has no relationship to Him, is not obedient to Him, and has no knowledge of His truth.

What is the motive of someone who lives according to worldly wisdom? “Bitter jealousy and selfish ambition.” The Greek word translated “bitter” also means “harsh” and is used of bitter, undrinkable water. “Bitter jealousy” carries the idea of a harsh, bitter self–centeredness that produces a resentful attitude toward others. People with bitter jealousy live in a world that focuses on themselves. They react in a jealous manner toward anyone who threatens their territory, accomplishments, or reputation. They resent anyone who threatens to crowd their slice of this world. They consider people who differ from them as implacable enemies. And they are bitterly jealous of anyone who is successful.

The Greek term translated “selfish ambition” refers to a personal ambition that creates rivalry, antagonism, or a party spirit. That’s another way of pointing to self. The person who follows human wisdom begins with a “bitter jealousy” that creates an attitude of competition and conflict. Then “selfish ambition” generates a party spirit and bitterness toward others. James is saying that ungodly wisdom is self–centered, and its goal is personal gratification at any cost.

What about you? Are you motivated by jealousy and selfish ambition? Be honest in your evaluation. Take a serious inventory of your heart and ask yourself, Am I serving others instead of fulfilling my own desires at the expense of others?

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to convict you when you put yourself before Him and others. ✧ Repent of any present situations in which you are doing that very thing.

For Further Study: Read the following verses: Genesis 37:4; 1 Samuel 18:8; Luke 15:25–30; 22:24. What was the sin in each example? ✧ Read and study 1 Corinthians 13:4–7 to learn how the qualities of love are opposite to human wisdom.[1]


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

Weekend Snapshot — Top Stories This Week for November 10, 2018

Honoring American Veterans

We invite you pause and contemplate the service and sacrifice and American Patriots.

The Right to Vote, Guaranteed by Patriot Veterans

It is a disgraceful irony that the freedom of those who advocate statist tyranny is ensured by generations of Patriot veterans who have defended Liberty.

Remembering the Lessons of the Great War

World War I ended 100 years ago Sunday, and there are still critical things to learn.

U.S. Marine Corps Birthday

From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli, our Marines remain the Few and the Proud.

Vote Shenanigans in FL, While AZ Still Counting

Democrats are working overtime to snag a couple of Senate seats from Republicans.

So Much for the Blue Wave — GOP Expands Senate Majority

Against all odds, Republicans lost the House and yet increased their Senate control.

Democrats’ House Win Provides Trump a Foil

The president may actually benefit from Nancy Pelosi’s obstruction agenda.

Another Mass Murder and More Media Misinformation

When 12 people were murdered in California, leftists trotted out their usual plan.

Senate Investigative Report Exonerates Kavanaugh

The big takeaway: No evidence has been found to corroborate any of the accusations.

Not the Founders’ Vision of Congress and the Presidency

Congress and the press have contributed to an increasingly powerful executive branch.

Black Americans Thriving Under Trump/GOP

The party ended slavery and Jim Crow, and is now building an economy flush with jobs.

The Rich, White Roots of Democrat Rage

Democrats aim only to exploit minorities and the poor for votes, all while keeping them down.

Health Care as a Selling Point

Unless Republicans can figure out a unified policy, they’re going to struggle in years to come.

Let’s Not Forget Jeff Sessions’s Achievements

“Jeff Sessions put the nation’s largest and most powerful law enforcement agency back on course.”

Going Backwards on Settled Science

On everything from climate to gender, leftists have an agenda to use science to manipulate.

Quote Of The Week

“If we want our government to function better, we should do the work of evaluating members of Congress more carefully, rather than using congressional elections as a proxy vote on our opinion of the president.” —Jay Cost

“The Patriot Post ( https://patriotpost.us/subscribe )”

Top Weekly Stories from ChristianNews.net for 11/10/2018

Roman Catholics Worldwide Praying in Cemeteries to Free Souls From ‘Purgatory’ November 1-8   Nov 05, 2018 06:45 pm

Photo Credit: Micael Widell As has been the custom for the past 50 years, Roman Catholics worldwide who pray at a cemetery between Nov. 1-8—and follow other requirements—are being offered a plenary indulgence to free their loved one from Purgatory and send their soul to Heaven. The practice has been said to be unbiblical for a number of reasons. “Purgatory…

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Alaska Women’s Shelter Placed Under Investigation Following Complaint From Man Who Identifies as Woman   Nov 04, 2018 08:10 pm

Photo Credit: Alliance Defending Freedom ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A Christian women’s shelter in Alaska has filed suit as the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission has not dismissed its investigation into the facility after a man who identifies as a woman filed a complaint because he was not accepted for admittance to the shelter. According to the lawsuit, the Hope…

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Colorado Voters Elect Nation’s First Openly Homosexual Governor   Nov 07, 2018 09:24 pm

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Alabama Voters Approve Constitutional Amendment Enshrining Government Right to Display Ten Commandments   Nov 07, 2018 02:04 pm

Photo Credit: Vmenkov/Wikipedia MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Voters in Alabama have approved an amendment that would explicitly enshrine in the state Constitution the right to display the Ten Commandments on government property, if desired. 71 percent of voters approved Amendment 1 on Tuesday, which also applies to public schools. “Amendment 1 does two things,” a…

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Florida Teen Charged With Murder After Strangling Mother to Death, Burying Her Under Church Fire Pit   Nov 05, 2018 11:44 am

ORLANDO, Fla. — A Florida teen has been charged with murder after strangling his mother to death following an argument over a bad grade and then burying her under a fire pit at a local church. The Volusia County Sheriff’s Office announced on Saturday that Gregory Ramos, 15, provided a full confession to authorities. “Gregory Logan Ramos confessed to killing…

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Father, Between Sobs, Announces Oldest Son Was Killed in California Mass Shooting: ‘This Is So Hard’   Nov 08, 2018 09:25 pm

(PEOPLE) — In obvious agony, the father of one of the victims in Wednesday night’s mass shooting at a California bar announced his death to the world. “His name was Cody Coffman, my firstborn son,” Jason Coffman told reporters Thursday morning. About 12 hours earlier a gunman burst into the crowded Borderline Bar & Grill in Thousand Oaks and…

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Professor Investigated for Declining to Address Male Student With Feminine Pronouns Files Suit   Nov 06, 2018 03:09 pm

Photo Credit: Spongefan/Wikipedia PORTSMOUTH, Ohio — An Ohio professor who was placed under investigation for declining to address a male student who identifies as female with feminine pronouns has filed suit, stating that he should not be forced to violate his Christian convictions. Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University,…

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UN Report: More Than 200 Mass Graves Containing Thousands Killed by ISIS Discovered in Iraq   Nov 06, 2018 05:44 pm

(World Watch Monitor) — More than 200 mass graves containing the remains of thousands of people killed by Islamic State have been discovered in northern and western Iraq, according to a UN report that was released on Tuesday. The report by UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) and the UN Human Rights Office documents the existence of 202 mass graves in the…

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US Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Appeal of Ruling Declaring Bladensburg Cross Veterans Memorial Unconstitutional   Nov 03, 2018 04:21 pm

Photo Credit: First Liberty Institute WASHINGTON — The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear a case surrounding a World War I veterans memorial that had been challenged by the American Humanist Association as being unconstitutional. The nation’s highest court announced on Friday that it had accepted an appeal in the case of The American Legion et al. v….

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Dutch Man, 69, Wants to Legally Change Age Because He ‘Feels 49’   Nov 09, 2018 01:45 pm

(The Christian Institute) — A Dutch man who feels his age is holding him back in business and dating has launched a legal battle to be legally recognized as 20 years younger. Emile Ratelband, was born on March 11, 1949, but because he feels he is being discriminated against by potential employers and on dating sites, he wants to change his date of birth to…

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Explosive Politics? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet | The American Conservative

Before Election Day we were urged to “defuse our explosive politics.” Okay, maybe — but they were explosive for a reason. Now that the Democrats have won the House of Representatives, politics is likely to get even more explosive. So now what do we do?

For many decades American politics was essentially a one-party affair. 

From 1933 to 1981 the Democrats controlled both houses of congress except for two periods, 1947–1949 and 1953–1955. Republicans were junior partners in the firm and showed respect to their betters. 

With the election in 1980 of Ronald Reagan, a serious conservative who wanted to bring serious change to Washington (unlike two previous Republican presidents, Eisenhower and Nixon), politics began to get nasty. They got nastier still after Republicans won the House in 1994. It’s never been the same since. And it isn’t going back. 

During all that time, the culture was changing. The Sixties’ civil rights movement was a great moral crusade, but it didn’t by itself change what might be described as the moral tenor of the country, though it may have sown the seeds for some of our present discontent. Bussing and affirmative action took the bloom off the movement, even as the counterculture warriors were changing … the culture. 

Exactly why, how, and to what extent is up for debate. The rich got richer, family life declined, divorce became common, illegitimacy became so common it became un-PC to call it illegitimacy, and the culture became coarser (foul popular music and pornography went mainstream). And then what might be called the second sexual revolution hit: the tsunami of identity politics, involving — among other positions — a veritable alphabet of bizarre sexual practices. 

Blacks, for reasons yet to be determined, allowed liberal-progressives to hijack their civil rights movement and fly it to Sodom and Gomorrah. 

All the while, Hollywood, academia, and the media were pushing left-wing nostrums. Prominent lefties called half of the country “deplorables” and “the dregs of society.”

If you think the penance you are doing now for your sins is not adequate, try reading The New York Times. Article after article, editorial after editorial, op-ed after op-ed, show unrelieved hostility to President Trump, or bizarre pieces on sex, or pieces on bizarre sex (e.g., “Why Sex is not Binary”) that you wouldn’t want your children to read. 

In the face of all that, we are to “defuse our explosive politics”?

Well, perhaps we should. But we are not likely to. Ideas matter. They have consequences. And the consequences, when they are negative, are visited on the most vulnerable of our citizens, who are not the people who live in the super zip code gated communities described by Charles Murray and who write for The New York Times. 

Charles M. Blow, a columnist for the Times, wrote a column just before the election titled “Liberals, This is War.” In it he claimed that “the founders, a bunch of rich, powerful white men, didn’t want true democracy in this country, and in fact were dreadfully afraid of it. Now, a bunch of rich, powerful white men want to return us to this sensibility, wrapped in a populist ‘follow the Constitution’ rallying cry and disguised as the ultimate form of patriotism.” 

Even though the Democrats now have a majority in the House of Representatives, much of what happens politically in the next two years is likely to be managed by the same “bunch of rich, powerful white men” so feared by Blow, suggesting that politics is not likely to get less explosive. 

Perhaps the most optimistic scenario for the coming two to four years is the awakening, finally, of individually powerless men and women in the black community to the realization that they’ve been had for decades, by Democrats, the party of segregation for so many years.

It’s easy to hurry past the salient statistic: that black unemployment is the lowest ever. But the meaning is as significant as the results of the civil rights movement. It would be celebrated from New York to San Francisco — if it had occurred under Democratic leadership. But it didn’t. 

Yes, the Democrats have won back the House of Representatives, but the music of increasing prosperity in minority communities will be the dirge of the Democratic Party. Our politics is likely to become even more explosive, not less, the fuse having been lighted by Democrats in reaction to Donald Trump’s victory in 2016. The conflagration will be great, and the smoke of the Democrats will go up as the smoke of a furnace. 

Explosive politics? You ain’t seen nothing yet. 

Daniel Oliver is Chairman of the Board of the Education and Research Institute and a Director Pacific Research Institute for Public Policy in San Francisco. In addition to serving as Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission under President Reagan, he was Executive Editor and subsequently Chairman of the Board of William F. Buckley Jr.s National Review.
— Read on www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/explosive-politics-you-aint-seen-nothing-yet/