Daily Archives: August 3, 2019

August 3 Confident Peace

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:11–13

Key Verse: Philippians 4:13

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.

God wants us to live a confident, peace-filled life, but far too often, feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness prevent us from doing this. There is only one way for God’s people to face life, and that is to face it confidently. He is the One who loves us, has saved us from eternal death, and is committed to guiding us through every moment this life has to offer.

The apostle Paul lived through horrendous circumstances. He was rejected by his Jewish peers, stoned, and abandoned for dead. He was ridiculed, ignored, and often beaten for His devotion to Christ and the gospel message. But Paul continued to maintain a confident hope. His life was not set on earthly accomplishments. When he did not think he could face another day, he recalled one simple truth: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Paul could get up each day because he understood that it was not his ability or strength that was needed. It was the strength of God flowing through his life that gave him the confidence he needed to face every task and challenge. If you try to achieve your goals apart from God, you will find that it is impossible. When you give God complete access to your life and place your dependency in Him, He builds a power base of truth, hope, and love in your life that will sustain you through every challenge and give you peace in every circumstance.

Confidence is an emotion that empowers us by energizing and strengthening us to do whatever God has called us to do.

Heavenly Father, take my feelings of unworthiness. Give me confident peace that will empower me to do what You have called me to do.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 226). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: To Avert from Men God s Wrath | The Thirsty Theologian

To Avert from Men God s Wrath
REDHEAD

To avert from men God’s wrath,
Jesus suffered in our stead;
by an ignominious death
He a full atonement made;
and by His most precious blood
brought us, sinners, nigh to God.

Christ bids each afflicted soul,
“Come that I may soothe your grief.
No one who is strong and whole
needs a doctor for relief;
therefore have no fear, draw nigh,
that your want I may supply.”

But examine first your case,
whether you be in the faith;
do you long for pard’ning grace?
Is your only hope His death?
Then, how e’er your soul’s oppressed,
come, you are a worthy guest.

They who Jesus’ mercy knows
are from wrath and envy freed;
love unto our neighbor shows
that we are His flock indeed;
thus we may in all our ways
show forth our Redeemer’s praise.

Hymns to the Living God (Religious Affections Ministries, 2017).

Right tune, wrong hymn:

The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.

Source: In Preparation for the Lord’s Day: To Avert from Men God s Wrath

August 3 Removing the Lock

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 3:1–6

Key Verse: 1 Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

If you have a bad habit that you cannot seem to get rid of no matter how much effort you exert, then that habit or problem has mastery over you. In a very real sense, you are its slave. Whether it’s food or too much television or sports, whatever dictates your priorities has authority over you. It may feel as though sin has unlimited power, but that is not true. It is your feeling as you continue to allow yourself to be victimized by a false master.

The first step in recovery, besides the obvious one of recognizing the problem, is identifying and understanding your true position in Christ as a redeemed one. With His blood, you were literally redeemed, or paid for, and the ownership of your life was transferred from sin and self to almighty God.

Take hold of this powerful liberation statement: “For the love of Christ controls us … and He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf” (2 Cor. 5:14–15 nasb). If the love of Christ controls you, there is no room for subownership by other passions or desires or people. Living in bondage is an unnecessary condition. It is like staying in prison when the lock is removed.

Are you a slave to anything besides Christ? You can declare your own independence day under His authority.

O God, I want to change! Remove the lock to any area of my life where I have refused You access. I declare my independence day![1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 226). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

August 3 Preparation for the Battle

Scripture reading: Ephesians 6:10–20

Key verse: Ephesians 6:11

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.

Imagine how foolish it would be for a soldier to go out to battle without his combat gear—no provisions, no weapon, no navigational tools.

In the spiritual realm, being equipped for the battle is equally essential. God does not intend for you to deal with the attacks of the opposition completely unarmed.

He has already given you His spiritual armor; your job is to be aware of the equipment He has provided and ask Him to dress you in it every day.

The helmet of salvation. You are secure in the knowledge that the Lord has sealed you as His forever. Even in the worst skirmish, your identity in Christ can never be taken by the enemy.

The breastplate of righteousness. The holiness of God transforms your inner being, renews your mind, and changes your desires. This solidity of Christlike character is a sure defense.

The girdle of truth. No lie can stand up to the sheer power of God’s truth. Whether it’s a subtle idea or a bold, outright declaration of falsehood, God’s Word demolishes every stronghold.

The shield of faith. You have a shield that cannot be penetrated by even the most ingenious device. The strongest temptation can be repelled by the iron-clad fortress of belief in His power.

Lord, I put on the spiritual weapons You have provided for my battles today: the helmet of salvation, the breastplate of righteousness, the girdle of truth, and the shield of faith.[1]


[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 226). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Saturday Sampler: July 28 — August 3 — The Outspoken TULIP

Blend SamplerSeeing people walk away from Christ hurts. Responding to two high profile men who have publicly done so, Stephen McAlpine exhorts, Let’s Never Outlive Our Love For Jesus. Toward the end, he shares a couple poignant reasons for his passion about this matter.

Leslie A concludes her series on worldliness among Christians with Thinking Beyond the Obvious (Part 5) in her Growing 4 Life blog. This installment focuses on worldliness in our relationships — particularly marriage. Even if you’ve missed the rest of her series, you’ll benefit from this post.

You’ll find wonderful encouragement from Jordan Standridge’s When the One who Led You to Christ Walks Away in The Cripplegate. Steeped in Scripture, this article reminds us where to keep our focus when anyone who has influenced us toward Christ turns from Him.

Blogging about Beth Moore brings no one pleasure — including The End Time author Elizabeth Prata. Sadly, Beth Moore continues to make waves, and those waves have grave consequences. In Listen carefully to what she is saying in this video… Elizabeth demonstrates how Mrs. Moore is subtly moving the SBC in a very dangerous direction.

After reading the above mentioned essay, refresh yourselves with What a day that will be! Elizabeth writes this wonderful post too lift our thoughts back to our ultimate hope.

For something a little more lighthearted,  check out excatholic4christ, where Tom takes us through a few Popular Un-Biblcal Sayings and Adages that float around. Oh, it’s a serious post (don’t get me wrong), but it’s also really fun to read!

We sometimes feel confused by the paradoxes in Scripture. SharaC of Into the Foolishness of God, however, delights in them so much that she writes Enter Your Rest to explore why we should be diligent to rest in the Lord.

I’ve been thinking a lot about humility this past week. So Mike Ratliff’s piece, Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time in Possessing the Treasure, encourages me to check my pride. If, like me, you’ve had been week loaded with conflict, don’t neglect this blog post.

Blogging for Things Above Us, Michael Coughlin gives helpful counsel to Christians When Battling the Culture. I can’t recommend this one highly enough!

Injecting a little sanity into the increasingly insane conversation in our culture, Albert Mohler writes Humpty Dumpty, Alice in Wonderland, and the Masters Who Control the Language to explore one writer’s attempts to change how we use pronouns to influence society’s approach to gender.

via Saturday Sampler: July 28 — August 3 — The Outspoken TULIP

How NOT to React to Joshua Harris’ Announcement | Credo House Ministries

Popular pastor and author Joshua Harris announced recently that he no longer considered himself a Christian. This announcement comes shortly after he announced he and his wife were divorcing. And this announcement comes after a series of announcements which began a few years ago in which he recanted and repented of the “harmful” views his book promoted.

You can read the announcement below:

For those who do not know, here is the skinny about Harris:

In 1997, in his early twenties, he wrote a book called I Kissed Dating Goodbye . Selling over a million copies, this book revitalized a movement promoting courtships rather than dating. From there he went on to write other books on relationships and, in 2004, being groomed by C. J. Mahaney, a Charismatic Calvinist (of whom I am sure many of you may know), he took over Covenant Life Church, a megachurch in Gaithersburg, Maryland. He stayed there until he resigned in 2015.

Personally, I don’t know much about Harris (got most of the above from Wikipedia). Of course I knew of him from the popularity of his book. After all, I was a singles pastor at the time. His encouragement in the book was neither here nor there to me. I did not think it wrong, but I did not necessarily think it right either.

However, since I write very often on doubt and deconversionhttps://credohouse.org/blog/category/doubt, I take special interest in things such as this. And given my own history of doubt and depression, these kind of things tug pretty deeply at my heart.

Let me take the time to do something a little different and express ways I believe that Christians should NOT react to this announcement.

1. Don’t assume you know the answers to why he has disavowed Christianity

Most of what I have read and heard so far coming from the Christian community about Harris’ announcement has attempted to fill in the blanks and read between the lines of his departure from both his wife and Christ. I have heard people blame his background in homeschooling, his focus on relationships rather than theology and apologetics, his early fame that was thrust upon him, his sympathies to the LGBTQ+ community, and his desire to leave his wife. The fact is that Harris did not say why he no longer considers himself a Christian.

We may not like the ambiguity of his announcement, but I don’t think any of us are close enough to the situation to know what happened (even if we think we can read implications here and there from interviews and social media posts). Until he comes out and says why he did this, I think it is wise to remain silent and give him a chance to gather the strength to explain.

I do, however, believe he has the eventual obligation to reveal what has transpired in his life that brought him to this point. He owes this to those who have followed him and to his former congregation, the mass majority of whom are probably hurt, confused, and need to have the blanket of obscurity removed so they can begin to make sense out of it and put this in their rear view mirror.

2. It’s okay to feel anger, hurt, and weakened by this loss

As many of you know, since my major wrestling match with doubt in 2010-11, I try to help others through their doubt. I have talked to dozens and dozens of struggling, fearful Christians who are groping for hope in the black hole of despair and doubt. As I run through my diagnostic of doubt I use, one of the questions I ask is this:

Is there anyone in your life—a Christian friend, parent, child, pastor, or someone you respect in the Christian community—who has recently stumbled or lost their faith?

You would be surprised at the amount of people who can trace their doubt (or a significant part of it) to such an event.

More often than not, we are unaware of the significant impact the faith of others has on our faith. While we may like to talk a big game, believing that our faith stands or falls on its own intellectual prowess, in the end, we are a community of believers and rely very heavily on each other both emotionally and intellectually. We are weak. When someone we love and/or respect stumbles into serious sin or falls away from the faith, only then do we realize how much we were leaning on them.

It’s okay to feel hurt. It’s okay to feel like your faith is affected by the loss of another’s faith. It is natural. Even the strongest of Christians are deeply impacted when a brother or sister falls away from the faith. It’s normal to feel insecurity due to their loss.

You may have trusted Joshua Harris. You may have even called him pastor. Many of your beliefs may have been established due to his messages and confidence in faith. Now that he is gone, you may feel as if the basis for your faith has left with him. Why should you believe if the man who taught you what and why to believe no longer believes?

However, while it is wonderful to have people in the body of Christ that create a fellowship of belief (consensus fidelium), your faith ultimately does not find its foundation in people. It finds its foundation in the truths that people taught. If they were true before Harris left the faith, they are true now. If you are not sure if they are true now, take this opportunity to re-establish your faith.

Not everyone will leave the faith. Sure, many people’s love for Christ will grow cold and some will not endure until the end (Matt. 24:12-13). If this were not the case, then many passages of Scripture would be in error. But many people’s faith does endure until the end. Many people’s faith has already been through the tribulations of life and found its way through. Harris does not know something others don’t. For whatever reason he has yet to express, his faith does not seem as if it is enduring at this point. But you can trust again and it’s okay to be hurt.

3. Do not rashly condemn him

Again, we don’t really know what is going on. It is hard to judge. I would hope he gives his reasons in the days to come for his change in more detail, but for now, unless you are in some spiritual authority over him or he has asked you for your opinion, you can’t really condemn him.

We normally condemn because it makes us feel better emotionally. It gives us subjective confidence to raise the temperature of our passions and criticize according to our assumptions. “He just wanted to divorce his wife.” “He caved to cultural subjectivity.” “He never had good arguments for his own faith.” In all these, at this point, all we are doing is attempting to find some balm for our own insecurity. If any of these are correct, then we feel better because we can package his loss of faith in envelopes we don’t think will ever be delivered to our address.

Ultimately, all we can say is that if Joshua Harris has truly left the faith, then it is because he was not of the faith:

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us. (ESV)

1 John 2:19

Whether you interpret that through an Arminian or Calvinistic framework, matters little. What matters is that the ultimate cause for people leaving is that they were not of us. The particulars will always differ.

4. Do not think this is necessarily a bad thing

It is a bad thing when people leave the faith? In a very real sense, yes! It is tragic for so many of the reasons I have said above. It is hurtful, confusing, and disruptive.

Is it a bad thing when people leave the faith? In a very real sense, no. Please don’t think me insensitive here. I really am not trying to discount the ways this may have hurt people. But think about it a different way.

First, let us imagine that Harris is a true believer and he is struggling with his faith. I do hold out that this is a possibility due to the experience I have had with people in the past. So many people I thought would never come back to the faith have come back and revealed that they didn’t ever really leave Christ, they just took a prodigal walkabout. I know that Harris denied Christianity. But has he denied Christ? You say to me, “If you deny Christianity, you deny Christ.” Technically, yes. But, often, subjectively, especially in today’s world, people will distinguish between Christianity and Christ, the Church and Christ, and Religion and Christ. I don’t know what Harris’ relationship with Christ is like at this point. And until he gives us more intel and endures in his unbelief, I don’t see any reason to give up all hope that he is in Christ.

Second, let us imagine (much more easier, probably) that he is not a true believer and has renounced Christ. Well, according to John, he has done this because he is not really of us, for, if he was of us, he would have stayed. But isn’t it better to be an honest unbeliever than a diluted believer? I can work with someone whose sickness has yet to be healed more than one who has the sickness without evidencing any of the symptoms.

Conclusion

Either way, I am glad that he seems to be taking his faith (or lack thereof) seriously. Don’t get me wrong, this does not mean I am apathetic to his situation simply because I don’t know the guy and have not really put any weight in his faith. It is tragic if this comes to an end that finds him at enmity with God for all eternity. But we don’t have to see him as a damned soul. And we don’t have to feel guilt for the pain we feel at such a tremendous perceived loss that the church may suffer from his absence. He truly is a gifted and thoughtful individual and I wish him the best.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger.

Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at michaelp@credohouse.org


C Michael Patton

C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo House Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I’m a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. He can be contacted at michaelp@credohouse.org

Source: How NOT to React to Joshua Harris’ Announcement

Google wants Trump to lose in 2020, former engineer for tech giant says: ‘That’s their agenda’ — Christian Research Network

“Cernekee spent the next three years fighting the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm over the alleged violations and arguing that conservative employees were being treated unfairly, according to the report, which cites interviews, documents and copies of posts on the company’s internal message boards.”

(Fox News)  A former Google engineer who claims he has been blacklisted by the tech giant says he believes the company will try to influence the outcome of the 2020 presidential election.

“They really want Trump to lose in 2020. That’s their agenda,” Kevin Cernekee said Friday on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”

“They have very biased people running every level of the company,” Cernekee continued. “They have quite a bit of control over the political process. That’s something we should really worry about.”

Cernekee spent the next three years fighting the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm over the alleged violations and arguing that conservative employees were being treated unfairly, according to the report, which cites interviews, documents and copies of posts on the company’s internal message boards.    View article →

via Google wants Trump to lose in 2020, former engineer for tech giant says: ‘That’s their agenda’ — Christian Research Network

Christian Leaders Urge Believers to Base Their Faith on Evidence Rather Than Human Leaders After Joshua Harris’ Falling Away — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Former megachurch pastor Joshua Harris’ departure from Christianity has spurred dialogue about apologetics, legalism and the doctrine of salvation.

Harris, former pastor of the mega Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Md., announced in July he and his wife Shannon are divorcing, that he no longer considers himself a Christian, and that he regrets having taught that marriage is a union only between a man and a woman.

Harris’ defection from Christianity could stem from a reaction to a certain type of legalism the author previously promoted, Robert Stewart, director of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary’s Institute of Christian Apologetics, told BP Aug. 1.

“It seems that he critiqued the legalistic lifestyle that he was brought up in and that he taught to others, and decided that if the lifestyle was wrong, then the Gospel was wrong as well,” Stewart told BP. “It would make more sense to say, ‘I have misunderstood how I should live as a Christian’ than to say, ‘If my way of life is wrong, then Christianity is too.’ People frequently confuse their interpretation of Scripture with Scripture itself.”

Stewart said Harris’ decision is an alert that Christians might not be doing enough to disciple believers in the faith, particularly teaching them apologetics and how reason and evidence support Christian belief.

“We need to train people to understand their faith and the reasons for believing that Christianity is true. We need to disciple them in ways that ground their faith in facts rather than feelings,” he said. “We need to base our faith in evidence rather than any human leader.”

Stewart urged prayer “for other believers that are going through crises of faith. People fall away for various reasons. A great deal of the time the reasons people fall away are more emotional than they are intellectual…. Simply put, if you come to Christ for purely emotional reasons, then when your emotions change, you’ll run somewhere else.”

Heath Lambert, pastor of First Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Fla., announced that Harris’ foreword to Lambert’s book, “Finally Free: Fighting for Purity with the Power of Grace,” will not be included in future printings.

“I knew there was no way for me to continue to have [Harris’ foreword] be associated with my book,” Lambert blogged July 29. “In ‘Finally Free,’ I am trying to be clear about a Christian approach to sexuality. Joshua’s recent actions and statements only confuse that attempt at clarity and will lead others astray.”

R. Albert Mohler Jr., president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, addressed Harris’ decision on the Aug. 1 Briefing podcast, saying that theological depth is a Christian necessity.

Click here to read more.
Source: Baptist Press

via Christian Leaders Urge Believers to Base Their Faith on Evidence Rather Than Human Leaders After Joshua Harris’ Falling Away — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

August 3, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

set your mind on heaven verse

The Responsibility

keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. (3:1b, 2)

The present tense of zēteō (keep seeking) indicates continuous action. Preoccupation with the eternal realities that are ours in Christ is to be the pattern of the believer’s life. Jesus put it this way: “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you” (Matt. 6:33). Paul is not advocating a form of mysticism. Rather, he desires that the Colossians’ preoccupation with heaven govern their earthly responses. To be preoccupied with heaven is to be preoccupied with the One who reigns there and His purposes, plans, provisions, and power. It is also to view the things, people, and events of this world through His eyes and with an eternal perspective.

The things above refers to the heavenly realm and hones in on the spiritual values that characterize Christ, such as tenderness, kindness, meekness, patience, wisdom, forgiveness, strength, purity, and love.

When believers focus on the realities of heaven, they can then truly enjoy the world their heavenly Father has created. As the writer of the hymn “I Am His, and He Is Mine” expressed it,

Heav’n above is softer blue

Earth around is sweeter green!

Something lives in every hue

Christless eyes have never seen:

Birds with gladder songs o’erflow

Flow’rs with deeper beauties shine,

Since I know, as now I know,

I am His, and He is mine.

When Christians begin to live in the heavenlies, when they commit themselves to the riches of “the Jerusalem above” (Gal. 4:26), they will live out their heavenly values in this world to the glory of God.

In 3:2, Paul gives instruction on how to seek the things above. He says, Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. Set your mind is from phroneō and could simply be translated, “think,” or more thoroughly, “have this inner disposition.” Once again, the present tense indicates continuous action. Lightfoot paraphrases Paul’s thought: “You must not only seek heaven, you must also think heaven” (St. Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon [1879; reprint, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959], p. 209; italics in the original). The believer’s whole disposition should orient itself toward heaven, where Christ is, just as a compass needle orients itself toward the north.

Obviously, the thoughts of heaven that are to fill the believer’s mind must derive from Scripture. The Bible is the only reliable source of knowledge about the character of God and the values of heaven. Paul describes that preoccupation as being “transformed by the renewing of [your] mind” (Rom. 12:2). In it we learn the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, of good repute, excellent, and praiseworthy things our minds are to dwell on (cf. Phil. 4:8).

Such heavenly values dominating the mind produce godly behavior. Sin will be conquered and humility, a sacrificial spirit, and assurance will result.[1]


2. Not the things that are on earth. He does not mean, as he does a little afterwards, depraved appetites, which reign in earthly men, nor even riches, or fields, or houses, nor any other things of the present life, which we must use, as though we did not use them, (1 Cor. 7:30, 31,) but is still following out his discussion as to ceremonies, which he represents as resembling entanglements which constrain us to creep upon the ground. “Christ,” says he, “calls us upwards to himself, while these draw us downwards.” For this is the winding-up and exposition of what he had lately touched upon as to the abolition of ceremonies through the death of Christ. “The ceremonies are dead to you through the death of Christ, and you to them, in order that, being raised up to heaven with Christ, you may think only of those things that are above. Leave off therefore earthly things.” I shall not contend against others who are of a different mind; but certainly the Apostle appears to me to go on step by step, so that, in the first instance, he places traditions as to trivial matters in contrast with meditation on the heavenly life, and afterwards, as we shall see, goes a step farther.[2]


2 How is it that the assembly might fully pursue Christ and the things of Christ? The answer is provided in part by the admonition here. Paul commands the congregation to think about (“set your minds on”) “the things above” and not the things on earth. The apostle would not have embraced the notion of “mind over matter” (nor would he have supported the popular slogan “if you don’t mind, it don’t matter!”), but for Paul the mind was no small matter. Though this is the only time the verb phroneō (“think,” GK 5858) appears in Colossians, matters pertaining to the mind permeate the first two chapters of the letter (1:6, 9–10, 21, 28; 2:2–4, 8, 18, 23; cf. 3:10, 16). Paul did not want the assembly to be “inflated without cause by [a] fleshly mind” (2:18 NASB; cf. Php 3:19). He wanted them to have “the mind of Christ” (1 Co 2:16b; cf. Php 2:5), for as Paul puts it elsewhere, “the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace” (Ro 8:6 NASB). Paul does not indicate as much here, but he would have wanted the Colossians to do what he instructed the Romans to do, namely, to “be transformed by the renewing of [their] mind” (12:2). Spiritual thoughts are to be characterized by that which is true, honorable, pure, lovely, attractive, excellent, and praiseworthy (Php 4:8).

The spatial dualism the apostle employs in 3:1–2 is not intended to drive a wedge between the material and the spiritual, as the “philosophers” were wont to do (so, rightly, Lincoln, 638; Vaughan, 209); rather, this metaphorical language is employed to admonish the Colossians to pursue and to ponder the One “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:3). Caird, 202, notes that “their minds are to be filled with ideas inspired by the regnant Christ, their thinking so controlled and determined by his mind … as to leave no room for the influence of a worldly mentality.”[3]


2  Aim then at what is above, says Paul; set your minds on that and let it give character to your outlook on everything. The Gnostics also believed in aiming at what was above. They were seriously concerned with living on a higher plane than this mundane one. But Paul has in mind a higher plane than theirs. Go in for the higher things (he says)—higher things than the principalities and powers which dominate the planetary spheres, for Christ has ascended far above these.15 Don’t let your ambitions be earthbound, set on transitory and inferior objects. Don’t look at life and the universe from the standpoint of these lower planes; look at them from Christ’s exalted standpoint. Judge everything by the standards of that new creation to which you now belong, not by those of the old order to which you have said a final farewell.[4]


2 The exhortation of v. 1 is reframed in v. 2 to “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” There are two differences in this reframing of v. 1: the term “seek” (zēteō) becomes “set your minds” (phroneō), and “things above” is contrasted with “earthly things,” a cosmological parallel to “flesh” (2:11, 13, 18, 23). Paul likes the term phroneō, one often connected with “will” and “heart” in the Old Testament (e.g., Prov 6:32) and with wisdom in the classical Hebrew sense (Deut 32:29). A notable instance of this term is when Jesus reveals to Peter that Peter has in mind the things of “men” (Matt 16:23). For Paul it is a theo-moral term: how one thinks, shapes how one lives. Thus, flesh mindedness leads to flesh living, while Spirit mindedness leads to Spirit-drenched living (Rom 8:5; cf. Gal 5:10). This second group becomes Spirit-ually wise in their relations of humility and love and harmony (e.g., 2 Cor 13:11; Phil 1:7; 2:2, 5; 3:15; 4:2; Rom 12:3, 16). The opposite is the way of discord, violence, and fractured relationships: that is, “their minds are set on earthly things” (e.g., Phil 3:19).

We need to connect “earthly things” to the stoicheia (2:20) and to the skia (2:17), that is, to the specific items Paul uses to illustrate the teaching and behavior of the halakic mystics (e.g., Col 2:16, 18, 21). They are “earthly” not simply because they are pagan or Jewish. Rather, they are “earthly” because they are not under the rule of Christ and instead are under the sway of flesh, sin, and the powers (1:13; 3:9, 10). The vertical dualism here does not exhibit traces of Platonism or some kind of Gnosticism but instead a kind of apocalypticism that various authors, including Paul, shared in the first century CE. That new worldview revolutionizes one’s perceptual and practical world (see 2 Cor 5:16).[5]


2. In similar vein Paul continues, On the things that are above set your minds, not on the things that are upon the earth. This admonition is very practical. It means that the Colossians are urged to ponder and yearn for113 the things that are above, as previously defined. Now a minister who seeks to help his people in their struggle against immorality should not preach a series of sermons on the theme Immorality, going into all its sordid details. If he does, his sermons might do more harm than good. Instead of banishing the evil he may be creating a taste for it. Let him, instead, preach one sermon on Immorality but an entire series on The Glory of Service Rendered to Christ and His People.

This positive method of overcoming sin is characteristic of Paul’s teaching. Note the following:

“Overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21);

“Put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make no provision for the flesh” (Rom. 13:14);

“Walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh (Gal. 5:16); and

“For the rest, brothers, whatsoever things are true … honorable … just … pure … lovely … of good report … be thinking about these things … and the God of peace will be with you” (Phil. 4:8, 9).

The same truth is illustrated in Col. 3:12–17. This is the only effective way to “put to death the members that are upon the earth” (3:5–9a), as is also clear from 3:9a, 10.[6]


3:2. Coupled with our new motivation is a new mind. Believers are exhorted to set [their] minds on the same things their hearts were set on—things above. Paul expands his thought here by including the negative contrast—not on earthly things. This does not mean that believers are to live in a kind of mystical fog or neglect the affairs of earth with endless contemplation of eternity. This means that believers are not to be concerned only with the trivialities of the temporal. We are to be preoccupied with the things that get top billing in heaven. Heavenly values are to capture our imaginations, emotions, thoughts, feelings, ideas, and actions. The believer is to see everything, including earthly things, against the backdrop of eternity. With a new (resurrection) perspective on life, the eternal is to impact the temporal.[7]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 128–129). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (p. 206). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 322–323). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (p. 134). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

[5] McKnight, S. (2018). The Letter to the Colossians. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (p. 293). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

[6] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Colossians and Philemon (Vol. 6, p. 141). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[7] Anders, M. (1999). Galatians-Colossians (Vol. 8, p. 327). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

Franklin Graham Says “the Real Cure for the Racial Divide in Our Country is for Hearts to Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ” — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Accusations of racism are being hurled around the political landscape on a daily basis these days, often aimed at President Trump and anyone who supports him.

In the past few weeks, media outlets have directly labeled Trump as “racist” in wall-to-wall coverage of his comments about Baltimore and Rep. Elijah Cummings, or the so-called “Squad” of four minority congresswomen, dispensing with the usual journalistic pleasantries like “alleged racism” or “controversial comments”.

Racism is clearly a serious problem still in America. Since Trump’s comments are all the rage, literally, evangelist Franklin Graham was asked to weigh in on the issue.

An Associated Press reporter asked if he thought President Donald Trump’s tweets exposed him as a racist. Here’s what Graham replied:

“I told him that I wanted to be clear—the President is not a racist. As others have pointed out, the Left has weaponized that word, and devalued it, using it all the time against anyone who disagrees with them. We need to pray for the President and for all of our leaders,” he said.

Then the son of famous evangelist Billy Graham, who helped tear down racial barriers in his own time, took it a step further, offering the solution for racism in America.

“The real cure for the racial divide in our country is for hearts to turn to the Lord Jesus Christ,” Franklin Graham concluded.

Click here to read more.
Source: CBN

via Franklin Graham Says “the Real Cure for the Racial Divide in Our Country is for Hearts to Turn to the Lord Jesus Christ” — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

How Black & White Ministers Are Working to Bridge America’s Racial Divide — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” — 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV

By Gracie Bonds Staples

Days after President Donald Trump’s Twitter tantrum a couple of weeks ago, instructing four Democratic congresswomen to “go back” to their home countries, Bishop Garland Hunt, Billy Humphrey, Joshua Clemons and Hazen Stevens met me to talk about their vision for America.

They were the last of nearly a dozen historians and religious leaders I’d spoken to over the past few months, seeking an answer to the growing racial divide in the country. Surprisingly, they all agreed that because the church is to blame for racism in the first place, it is uniquely equipped to name the sin, to call for repentance, and to bring about reconciliation.

In this fifth and final installment of the Race and Religion series, I wanted to leave you with at least one concrete thing each of us can do to help turn the tide once and for all.

For Hunt, Humphrey, Stevens and Clemons, the short answer can be found in Jesus’ summary of the Law — “love thy neighbor as thyself.”

Without that love, there will be no “beloved” community, no sustained peace and harmony, and we will continue to stray from the path of justice for all.

But they are hopeful.

And so in a conference room on the campus of Lawrenceville’s International House of Prayer, the men talked about the beginning of OneRace, co-founded in 2016 by Hunt and Humphrey in the wake of a growing number of police shootings of unarmed black men and the subsequent Black Lives Matter movement.

Up until that moment, Humphrey, who is white, and Hunt, who is black, had been working separately to facilitate racial healing in their communities. Humphrey, director of the International House of Prayer, had been instrumental in helping build Victory Church, one of the nation’s largest multicultural churches, where he was youth pastor. And Hunt, senior pastor at the Father’s House in Peachtree Corners, was advocating for racial healing; he was a former co-host with a white pastor of “The Gospel in Black and White” television program and founder of Pastors for Reconciliation and Revival in Raleigh, North Carolina.

They met in the early ’90s and began to forge a friendship born of Christian brotherhood and a mutual respect.

By the spring of 2016, the country seemed mired in racial upheaval not seen since the 1960s.

Indeed nearly eight years after the election of Barack Obama as the nation’s first black president, profound differences between blacks and whites were emerging around race, reigniting national conversations.

A Pew Research Center survey that year found that 88% of blacks believed the country needs to continue making changes for blacks to have equal rights with whites; the figure for whites with that view was 53%.

Hunt and Humphrey believed then as they do now that the answer could only be found in the church.

In a retreat with their wives, the men began to pray, and out of those prayers emerged OneRace, a movement to displace racism with racial reconciliation across the nation through prayer, fasting and relationships.

They immediately began work organizing OneRace Stone Mountain and the “Millennial Ascent,” a nondenominational prayer and worship service at Stone Mountain Park, once a meeting place for the Ku Klux Klan and other white power groups.

Last August, it drew more than 1,000 young adults and Christian leaders. In a series of sermons, they were called to be the peace they want and thus, like Christ, break down the walls of hostility and hatred that separate us.

Click here to read more.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution

via How Black & White Ministers Are Working to Bridge America’s Racial Divide — BCNN1 – Black Christian News Network

Yellow Vests Demonstrators Gather in Paris For 38th Consecutive Week of Protests (Video)

Tens of thousands of people have marched every Saturday through the streets of France, since the movement began last November. The protesters have voiced various concerns ranging from taxes on fuel to income inequality.

Source: Yellow Vests Demonstrators Gather in Paris For 38th Consecutive Week of Protests (Video)

Another ‘Russian puppet’: Tulsi Gabbard’s debate successes feed conspiracy theories

In the latest US Democratic debates, 2020 presidential hopeful Tulsi Gabbard laid into her rival Kamala Harris with spectators saying she ‘destroyed’ & ‘humiliated’ her. But right after Gabbard’s gladiatorial success, the allegations started flooding in the Kremlin’s been doing its best, to push her to the top.

Brannon Howse: July 31, 2019 | Worldview Weekend

Guest: Shahram Hadian. Topic: Conservative Christian families are dealing with what appears to be an epidemic of grown adults walking away from the faith and then telling their theologically, socially, and economically conservative parents that they no longer share their Biblical worldview. Some of these grown children like Joshua Harris no longer claim to be Christians while others do claim to be Christians but are now aligned with the social justice, neo-Calvinist, pro-LGBTQ, interfaith dialogue wing of evangelicalism. Today Brannon and Shahram speak to these parents that are e-mailing Brannon and pouring out their heart ache. Many of these parents are having false and hurtful insults hurled at them by their grown children and for many it is their social justice professors at so-called Christian colleges or their social justice pastor that have poisoned their hearts against their parents. Topic: We take your calls and apparently today’s broadcast hit a nerve with many parents that were listening.

Download File Here

Source: Brannon Howse: July 31, 2019

First Ever Human-Monkey Chimera Created by Spanish Scientist – Report

Last year, a researcher from Shenzhen dropped a news bomb, announcing that he had successfully altered the genes of newly born twin girls. This shocked the scientific community, as genome-editing is frowned upon in many countries, being considered unethical and potentially harmful not only for the individuals affected, but also future generations.

Spanish researcher Juan Carlos Izpisua’s team has managed to produce the first-ever chimeras of a human and monkey in their laboratory based in China, biologist at the Catholic University of Murcia (UCAM) Estrella Nunez, who worked with him, told the Spanish outlet El Pais. The scientist is reported to have injected human stem cells into the monkey embryos to grow organs for transplantation.

Researchers from UCAM and the US Salk Institute for Biological Studies reportedly genetically modified monkey embryos to inactivate the genes necessary for forming organs and injected human cells that are capable of generating any type of tissue.

However, they did not allow any monkey chimeras with human cells to be born, but interrupted the pregnancies. Nunez and her fellow researchers have not revealed any further details ahead of publications in international scientific magazines, but called the results “very promising”.

According to Izpisua, his team carried out “the world’s first experiment on chimeras of humans and pigs” in 2017, which did not have much success. As his co-author from Argentina, Pablo Ross, explained to El Pais, “human cells contributed to the development of the chimera embryo very little”.

However, the outlet points out that the team earlier managed to create chimeras of mice and rats. It used the CRISPR genetic editing technique to eliminate genes necessary for the development of the heart, eyes, and pancreas in mouse embryos and inserted rat stem cells instead. However, these chimera embryos were also aborted before the “14-day red line”. This limitation was set internationally for such experiments in order to prevent the embryos from developing human central nervous systems, which takes more than two weeks.

The team was not the first to produce such embryos, as research led by Japanese biologist Hiromitsu Nakauchi from Stanford University already did this back in 2010. His group generated mouse pancreas in rats and transplanted them into mice, thereby reversing diabetes. The scientist points out that although the National Institutes of Health of the United States does not support the research of human-animal chimeras, the Department of Defence and the Institute of Regenerative Medicine from California do.

The recent study on monkeys, in turn, was largely funded by the Catholic University of Murcia. While in Spain such experiments are limited to studies on terminal diseases, Nunez revealed that they opted for China to carry out the monkey experiments as they cannot be conducted in Spain due to a lack of infrastructure.

China made news in the scientific community after Shenzhen researcher He Jiankui said in an interview with the AP news agency last year that he had successfully altered the genes of twin girls in order to prevent them from contracting HIV. He later announced that there is “another potential pregnancy” involving a second couple. As the news agency Xinhua reported, he has “privately” organised a project team involving foreign staff and using “technology of uncertain safety and effectiveness” for illegal human embryo gene-editing.

Source: First Ever Human-Monkey Chimera Created by Spanish Scientist – Report

21 of the Best Mere Christianity Quotes from C.S. Lewis — ChurchLeaders

Here are 21 of the best quotes from C.S. Lewis in his book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece on the Christian life. Based on a series of radio talks, it is one of the top-selling Christian books that has been written. For more quotes from C.S. Lewis, download a free copy of Mere Christianity here.

Here are some of the best quotes from C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity.

divider“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

divider“Now is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It won’t last forever. We must take it or leave it.”

divider“Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it.”

divider“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less.”

divider“This world is a great sculptor’s shop. We are the statues and there’s a rumor going around the shop that some of us are someday going to come to life.”

divider“We need not despair even in our worst, for our failures are forgiven. The only fatal thing is to sit down content with anything less than perfection.”

divider“Give me all of you!!! I don’t want so much of your time, so much of your talents and money, and so much of your work. I want YOU!!! ALL OF YOU!! I have not come to torment or frustrate the natural man or woman, but to KILL IT! No half measures will do. I don’t want to only prune a branch here and a branch there; rather I want the whole tree out! Hand it over to me, the whole outfit, all of your desires, all of your wants and wishes and dreams. Turn them ALL over to me, give yourself to me and I will make of you a new self—in my image. Give me yourself and in exchange I will give you Myself. My will, shall become your will. My heart, shall become your heart.”

divider“If I find in myself desires which nothing in this world can satisfy, the only logical explanation is that I was made for another world.”

divider“[Repentance] means unlearning all the self-conceit and self -will that we have been training ourselves into… It means killing part of yourself, under-going a kind of death.”

divider“Nothing you have not given away will ever really be yours.”

divider“And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.”

divider“When you argue against Him you are arguing against the very power that makes you able to argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch you are sitting on.”

divider“No man knows how bad he is till he has tried very hard to be good.”

divider

“A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

divider“Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until he has something to forgive.”

divider“It is, of course, quite true that God will not love you any less, or have less use for you, if you happen to have been born with a very second-rate brain.”

divider“When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him. When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less.”

divider“Now God designed the human machine to run on Himself. He Himself is the fuel our spirits were designed to burn, or the food our spirits were designed to feed on. There is no other.”

divider“The rule for all of us is perfectly simple. Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbour; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets.”

divider“If they are wrong they need your prayers all the more; and if they are your enemies, then you are under orders to pray for them. That is one of the rules common to the whole house.”

divider“To what will you look for help if you will not look to that which is stronger than yourself?”

via 21 of the Best Mere Christianity Quotes from C.S. Lewis — ChurchLeaders

Former Google Engineer: Google Will Try to Prevent Trump from Being Re-elected

Friday on Fox News Channel’s “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” former Google engineer Kevin Cernekee argued there was political bias within the tech giant.

Source: Former Google Engineer: Google Will Try to Prevent Trump from Being Re-elected

‘Hidden crime’ of the US food market: Why your kid’s cocoa likely has a whiff of child slavery | RT USA News

Almost two decades after US chocolate giants pledged to eradicate child slave labor from their supply chains, the industry still seems to be addicted to the cost efficiency resulting from the modern version of slavery.

Cocoa beans are an essential component for producing chocolate. Most of those imported into the US come from just two countries, Ivory Coast (Cote d’Ivoire) and Ghana. A series of exposes in 2000 and 2001 shed light on the widespread use of child labor by cocoa growers there, including trafficked children held in debt bondage.

The US food industry pledged to eradicate child labor from its supply chain, but has repeatedly failed to deliver.

Modern international trade is to a large degree built on slavery, and the difference with the slave plantations of the past is only that it is no longer done in the open, said Terry FitzPatrick, communications director for the organization Free The Slaves.

The only way to deal with this problem is to make slavery economically unsustainable, he believes.

“Corporations should be not just transparent on whether there might be modern slavery or forced labor in their product,” he told RT. “They need to be responsible for that. Because once they are responsible for that and liable for that, they will be forced to get rid of it.”

Source: ‘Hidden crime’ of the US food market: Why your kid’s cocoa likely has a whiff of child slavery