Monthly Archives: December 2019

December 31 The Challenge to End Well

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:3–6

Key Verse: Philippians 1:6

… being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

A writer once penned a story about Hudson Taylor, the great missionary to China. He reported that the government of China commissioned a biography to be written portraying the missionary negatively. Yet the purpose of the assignment backfired: “As the author was doing his research, he was increasingly impressed by Taylor’s saintly character and godly life, and he found it extremely difficult to carry out his assigned task with a clear conscience. Eventually, at the risk of losing his life, he laid aside his pen, renounced his atheism, and received Jesus as his personal Savior.”

Taylor’s life spoke of God’s goodness beyond the grave. He followed Christ faithfully, and was rewarded for carrying out the mission given to him. This principle encourages Christians to continue living faithful, godly lives that will impact future generations.

The apostle Paul knew that the only real difference that could be made in a person’s life was to introduce him or her to Christ. He performed his duty faithfully until his death, and his testimony endures.

You are challenged to end well so that God’s grace will show itself in you. Just like Paul and Hudson Taylor, people will hear of your faithfulness and they will believe in God. Live in courageous godliness to the end.

Dear heavenly Father, thank You for Your loving care throughout this past year. Give me courageous godliness so that I can end not only this year properly but my time on earth as well.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 382). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Glorify and Enjoy God — Christian Blogs – Delivered By Grace

As we approach the precipice of 2020, it’s essential to remember that to glorify God is not to lead a boring life. It’s actually quite the opposite. To live a life of submission and obedience to God with a goal of glorifying God is to live a life that is not only thrilling, but is one that actually enjoys God himself in the process.

Paul writes these words in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” As we find ourselves at the crossroads of life in this upcoming decade—will we intentionally evaluate such decisions and directions of life to see if we are bringing God glory and honor? As the catechism states:

Q: What is the chief end of man?

A: To glorify God and enjoy him forever.

Perhaps you are considering some resolution for the upcoming year regarding your health or finances, but have you considered your spiritual life? Have you asked honest questions about what it means to life a life for God’s glory? Before we focus on our waistline or bank account—perhaps we would do better to consider the fact that we have been purchased by God with the high price of Jesus’ blood. Therefore, we do not belong to ourselves. We have a Master that we belong to and we must submit ourselves to him.

What is God’s will for you in 2020? That may be different for all of us in regard to our business, jobs, or ministry work—but one thing remains the same—we are called to glorify God. The focus on glorifying God in our body, as Paul says in his letter to the church in Corinth, is intended to bring to the surface the actions that are precipitated by the inner motives of the heart. It’s the way we put our faith into action. And we must always remember what James said, “For as the body apart from the spirit is dead, so also faith apart from works is dead” (James 2:26).

So, whatever you find yourself doing in 2020 and beyond—may your decisions and commitments glorify God so that you will not lead a boring and miserable life focused on yourself.

Psalm 19:14Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. 

via Glorify and Enjoy God — Christian Blogs – Delivered By Grace

December 31 The Journey of Faith

Scripture Reading: Hebrews 11:8–10

Key Verses: Romans 8:28–29

We know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

You can’t reach the mountaintop unless you scale its slopes. You can’t reach your destination unless you hazard the journey. That’s what it means to take a step of faith, to risk the comfort of the familiar and trust God to take you to new places. Doing anything less is a form of compromise.

At the beginning of his trip of a lifetime, Abraham could not say with certainty that he understood God’s reasons or methods. But he did grasp God’s good purpose and knew that the only way to live it was to surrender himself to the experience.

In her book Faith: The Substance of Things Unseen, Penelope Stokes describes the value of the risk of faith:

It’s a frightening concept, new birth … to be catapulted like helpless infants into an unfamiliar, perhaps hostile world … to give ourselves over, heart and soul, to the God who calls us out into new life, into new experiences, into deep spiritual waters.

Both before and after my experience of surrender to Christ on September 15, 1970, I can see the hand of God working in my life, drawing me toward spiritual consciousness, leading me on the journey of faith … And all along the way, I see altars of sacrifice, times in which God called me to a new place, a different level of intimacy, continued growth … We must take the risk to go forward as God leads us to new levels of life in the Spirit.

Lord, thank You for being my Guide on this spiritual journey. I rejoice to see how You directed my footsteps during this past year. I face the future in faith and confidence.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 382). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Can You Think of An Adequate Analogy or Metaphor for the Trinity? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

In this video, J. Warner joins Stand to Reason’s Amy Hall to answer questions in an episode of #STRAsk. They answer a question submitted through Twitter: Given all the traditional metaphors and analogies given for the Trinity, can any of them be trusted. Should any of them be used when teaching new Christians? Which analogy is best? Be sure to subscribe to Stand to Reason’s great lineup of podcasts.

via Can You Think of An Adequate Analogy or Metaphor for the Trinity? (Video) — Cold Case Christianity

December 31 The Good News About Death

Scripture reading: 2 Corinthians 5:1–9

Key verse: Acts 2:28

You have made known to me the ways of life;

You will make me full of joy in Your presence.

Christianity is the only religion in the world that has the final word on death. While other belief systems hypothesize about death, leading to such mysterious offerings as reincarnation, Christianity alone presents a clear and compelling portrait that is defined in the death and resurrection life of Jesus Christ.

Lawrence Richards writes,

In view of the varied and terrible meanings that Scripture ascribes to death, it would be wrong to think of Jesus’s death as a mere biological event. When the Bible teaches that Jesus suffered and tasted death (Hebrews 2:8), a full experience of all that death involves is implied … Death is the direct result of sin. And the fact of death testifies to the overwhelming importance of a personal, obedient relationship to God.

The dying Christian has the calm assurance that biological ending is nothing but a new beginning. When our earthly tent is destroyed, we go to be with the Lord “so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4).

Jesus Christ, the Son of God, died for our sins and rose again from the dead. His resurrection is a historical fact, verified by the testimony of the Scriptures. It was impossible for death to reign over Him (Acts 2:28).

The last word about death is good news for Christians.

O Lord, thank You for taking the fear of death from me. I praise You that when my earthly tent is destroyed, I will be in Your presence.[1]

 

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 382). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

When The Gospel Is Marginalized There Is Always An Agenda — The Heidelblog

Over the past decade a floodwater of cultural change in our country has occurred, leaving a massive impact on the church in America. Twenty years ago, there was a push to address the issue of mercy ministry and evangelism in our churches. Much of this was, no doubt, a helpful corrective to a perceived deficiency in local churches.

Today, the loudest voices speak incessantly about issues related to social justice, intersectionality, and human flourishing. Time will most certainly tell whether this was a needed corrective or a toxic corrosive for the church. Movements and organizations spring up almost as fast as they whither. The leaders of many social and para-ecclesial syndicates wish to influence the church in such a way that the church will embrace the obligations they press on her.

When I sit back and read the deluge of thoughts and opinions online about what the church ought to be doing, I sense a noticeable lack of focus on the Gospel. In the many Twitter rants that recur on a daily basis, there is a discernible deficiency with regard to Scripture and the Gospel. Any intellectually honest assessment of the content of so much that is bandied about on the Internet must necessarily lead to the conclusion that people are bored with the Gospel.

Either they don’t believe that it is “the power of God unto salvation for those who believe,” or they have convinced themselves that the Gospel is simply one among many messages that ought to take front seat in the message and ministry of the church. In either case, the only conclusion we can draw from the fact that the preaching of the Gospel is no longer the center of gravity in the message and ministry of many churches in our day is that people don’t believe the Gospel works. They are not astonished by the glory, majesty, unspeakable greatness of the message of Christ crucified and risen.

Nick Batzig, Are You Bored With the Gospel?

via When The Gospel Is Marginalized There Is Always An Agenda — The Heidelblog

Climate Prediction Swings & Misses: A Decade Of Alarmist Strike-Outs, 2010-2019 | ZeroHedge

Authored by Anthony Watts via WattsUpWithThat.com,

Climate alarmists think they are always right, and when they aren’t… they just move the goalposts ahead 10 years. Our friend Willis Eschenbach calls itserial doomcasting“.

Some perspective:

“What historians will definitely wonder about in future centuries is how deeply flawed logic, obscured by shrewd and unrelenting propaganda, actually enabled a coalition of powerful special interests to convince nearly everyone in the world that CO2 from human industry was a dangerous, planet-destroying toxin.

It will be remembered as the greatest mass delusion in the history of the world – that CO2, the life of plants, was considered for a time to be a deadly poison.” ~ Richard Lindzen

What follows are climate predictions forecast to come true during the 2010s – one for each year.

A few timely missed predictions for 2020 are also added as a bonus feature.

Source: Climate Prediction Swings & Misses: A Decade Of Alarmist Strike-Outs, 2010-2019

John Brennan has committed treason, says counter-terror expert | WND

A former FBI counter-terrorism agent contends John Brennan, the director of the CIA for Barack Obama, committed sedition and “I would argue treason.”

The charges come from John Guandolo, the founder of Understanding the Threat, an organization that trains and consults with federal, state and local leaders and agencies “to defeat the jihadi threat.”

In an interview with Jamie Glazov on the “Glazov Gang,” Guandolo said, “I think if you’re going to stand beside John Brennan like a number of people have and they’ve officially put their names on a list, your putting yourself in the enemy camp.”

He continued: “John Brennan what he’s guilty of is sedition, and I would argue treason. This isn’t something that happened in the last two years. He’s made an entire adult life time of this.”

Guandolo noted that Brennan admitted voting for the Communist Party candidate in the 1976 election, Gus Hall.

“And then you look at the organizations he has supported,” Guandolo said. “Numerous Muslim Brotherhood jihadi organizations in the U.S. that he’s supported, and his behavior toward our system and toward the leadership, specifically the president of the United States.”

Guandolo graduated in 1989 from the U.S. Naval Academy and took a commission in the U.S. Marine Corps. In 1996, he began working at the FBI’s Washington headquarters.

He worked in the Counterterrorism Division, developing an expertise in the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic doctrine, the global Islamic Movement and terrorist organizations, including Hamas and al-Qaida.

He was declared an Islam subject matter expert in 2006, and he eventually created the FBI’s Counterterrorism Training Program, focused on the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic doctrine.

Brennan, since leaving the CIA, has been a severe critic of President Trump. The New York Times reported U.S. Attorney John Durham is investigating Brennan’s role in the 2016 election, seeking his emails, call logs and other documents.

The federal prosecutor wants to find out what Brennan told other officials, including former FBI Director James B. Comey, about his and the CIA’s views of the debunked Steele dossier’s assertions about Russia and Trump associates.

The Times noted Trump has accused Brennan of being part of a “deep state” cabal that tried to sabotage his campaign.

Durham is also examining whether Brennan privately contradicted his public comments about the dossier and Russian interference, including in May 2017 testimony to Congress.

Sorry about the ‘bad information’

Brennan, now a CNN commentator, has accused Trump of treason, alleging he was an agent of Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

But he was forced to backtrack when special counsel Robert Mueller concluded that there was no collusion with Russia by the Trump campaign.

Brennan told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” at the time: “I don’t know if I received bad information, but I think I suspected there was more than there actually was.”

The Washington Post reported that in August 2016, Brennan requested a meeting with President Obama after compiling claims of Russian interference in the election.

That same month, Brennan briefed then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid about the Steele, which was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee. Reid then transmitted some of the information in a letter to the FBI.

Brennan already has been investigated for testifying falsely under oath before the House Intelligence Committee that the Steele dossier played no role in the intelligence community’s much-touted conclusion that Russia interfered in the 2016 election.

Brennan further declared he did not know who commissioned the dossier, even though senior national security and counter-intelligence officials at the Justice Department and FBI knew the previous year it was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Brennan has been accused of lying on other occasions.

After Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., accused the CIA of spying on members of the Senate by hacking into computers used by her intelligence committee’s staffers, Brennan said, “Let me assure you the CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate.”

However, a CIA inspector general’s report found the CIA was indeed spying on the Senate, and Brennan was forced to privately apologize to intelligence committee members.

Brennan also claimed in a 2011 speech that there had not been “a single collateral death” from U.S. drone strikes because of their “exceptional proficiency [and] precision.'”

However, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that one U.S. drone strike alone had killed 42 Pakistanis, “most of them civilians.”

Brennan is regarded as the architect of the now debunked Trump-Russia collusion claim. But he apparently doesn’t understand the foundational premise of the American justice system, innocent until proven guilty.

In an interview with MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” he said “people are innocent, you know, until alleged to be involved in some kind of criminal activity.”

Zerohedge featured journalist Glenn Greenwald’s Twitter post on Brennan’s statement.

Greenwald wrote, “With sincere apologies in advance to all U.S. liberals who are offended by criticisms of former CIA chiefs, @JohnBrennan’s understanding of the presumption of innocence is completely warped, but in the most unsurprising way imaginable:”

Zerohedge explained: “The presumption of innocence, as a foundation of the U.S. judicial system, has seemingly been under attack since November 8th 2016. An allegation is made, media runs with the narrative, the seed of possibility of guilt is implanted in the minds of zombie Americans, and the accused is maligned forever – no court required. Simple. And now, none other than former CIA Director John Brennan clarifies exactly how the deep state sees ‘due process’…”

Source: John Brennan has committed treason, says counter-terror expert

Some of the Biggest Stories From 2019 — Stand Up For The Truth

What are some of the top news stories of 2019 from a biblical Christian worldview? David and Crash discuss as many as possible on today’s podcast! From all of us at Stand Up for the Truth and Q90 FM, have a great new year! 2020… Wow!

Olive Tree Ministries founder, author Jan Markell states:

Another year draws to a close, and anyone who is discerning the times, knows that headlines today are a herald of His coming. …The spirit of Antichrist is alive and well; Breaking news can be distressing or it can be a warning, as Bible prophecy warns us in advance of things to come. The news cycle really didn’t disappoint in 2019, although few sources report things accurately!

For a Breakpoint commentary on moral relativism and the drag queen movement, John Stonestreet stated:

Ultimately, we’re witnessing the de-civilizing of our society, a sickening illustration of how bad ideas create victims. No culture wakes up and just decides to exploit its children, but the decades-long process of re-defining human beings according to our sexual ideologies rather than their God-designed dignity is what brought us here.

SCRIPTURES mentioned

Matthew 24:3-8, 24:11-14, 24:35-39;  2 Timothy 3:1-13, 2 Peter 3:3, Mark 13:33-37

“Do not call to mind the former things,
Or ponder things of the past.
19 “Behold, I will do something new,
Now it will spring forth;
Will you not be aware of it?
I will even make a roadway in the wilderness,
Rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19

STORIES highlighted today

The genocide of Christians in Muslim countries, author Joshua Harris, Hillsong artist Marty Sampson renouncing their faith, New York’s radical abortion law and the celebration of killing babies, Big tech (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) censoring Christian or conservative content, and the Decline of Christianity (PEW) continuing at rapid pace.

The conversion of Kanye West, shooting in Texas church where guns, security saved lives; the NEA (National Education Ass’n) annual meeting promotes perversion, progressive agenda; climate change, Greta Thunberg and adolescent activism; Trump and Obama most admired men.

ARTICLES referenced:

Another Incredible Year – Jan Markell

Top Ten Stream Posts of 2019

Media Refuses to Report on Slaughter of Christians

Teen Vogue: Most Explicit Material Aimed at Children

Kanye West, Former Blasphemer, now Brother

Top Ten Reformation Charlotte Articles of 2019

Do Trump’s personal flaws negate the good he has done?

“That the editor of Christianity Today thinks the president’s personal flaws, whatever they might be, are more important than all the good he has done for conservatives, for Christians, for Jews, for blacks and for America tells us a lot … about Galli and the decline of Christian moral thought.” Dennis Prager

Christianity Today No Longer Speaks for Evangelicals

Doctrines of Demons, I Mean, Democrats

Stanger Things: Top Ten Blogs of 2019 (Sean McDowell)

Drag Queen Invasion Part of LGBT Roll Out

The State of Public Education in 2019 (Duke Pesta)

via Some of the Biggest Stories From 2019 — Stand Up For The Truth

IRD’s Top 10 Evangelical News Stories of 2019 — Juicy Ecumenism

In the year 2019, we saw some unforgettable religion headlines. News stories ranged from the tense divide between Evangelicals over President Trump to a surprising celebrity convert.

It’s also been a busy year of religion news here at the Institute on Religion and Democracy. As is our mission, IRD staff reported on hundreds of challenges facing the Church at home and abroad in hopes of renewal.

As I’ve done in years past, I dug back through the IRD’s archives to find out what stories specific to the Evangelical program resonated most with our readers. Here are our top 10 most-read Evangelical news stories of the past year:

1.) Author Joshua Harris Denounces Christianity

In July, well-known relationship and sexual purity author Joshua Harris, best known for his book “I Kissed Dating Goodbye,” announced that he is no longer a Christian and planned to divorce his wife. Guest writer Abri Nelson responded to the news and suggested where we go from here. I argued that it is better for Harris to denounce the faith altogether (and hopefully temporarily) than to distort it and mislead another generation of young Evangelicals.

2.) Paula White and Concerns Over Ministry Nepotism

President Donald J. Trump’s spiritual advisor and non-denominational televangelist Paula White officially stepped down as senior pastor of her Apopka, Florida megachurch, New Destiny Christian Center (NDCC). She has pastored NDCC since 2012 and made the unexpected announcement to her 10,000-member church in May. White raised eyebrows when she announced the installment of her son as a successor. Read more here.

3.) What Are America’s Largest Seminaries in 2019?

In August 2016, I set out to understand the state of Protestant seminaries in the United States by evaluating student enrollment among accredited schools. The results revealed that students seeking training for church ministry were overwhelmingly attracted to orthodox, evangelical Protestant institutions. Meanwhile, the smallest accredited Protestant seminaries in the nation included three Episcopal seminaries and two Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) seminaries.

What of those rankings today? I wondered if there have been any significant changes in attendance at America’s largest Protestant seminaries over the last four academic years. And what of those small, progressive seminaries? How have they fared over the last three years? Had they seen miraculous growth or a continued decline? Learn more here.

4.) The Passing of Christian Author Rachel Held Evans

Sadly, on May 4, progressive Christian author Rachel Held Evans died after severe swelling of her brain. She leaves behind a toddler son, baby daughter, and husband Dan. May God comfort their aching souls as they mourn the loss of Rachel.

I offered a brief reflection here.

5.) Why the Red Letter Christian Movement Is Not Growing

Tony Campolo called his Red Letter Christian (RLC) movement “embryonic” and assessed, “we just can’t get this thing off the ground” during a gathering at Greenleaf Christian Church Disciples of Christ in Goldsboro, North Carolina on October 2, 2019. The gathering was part of RLC’s #GoldsboroRevival, hosted alongside the Rev. William Barber II and Repairers of the Breach.

During the revival, Campolo, who co-founded the RLC movement with Sojourners editor Jim Wallis fifteen years ago, offered a few interesting explanations for why he believes the RLC movement has yet to gain prominence in the United States. I report more here.

6.) Mark Galli and Christianity Today’s New Impeachment Orthodoxy

Evangelical gatekeepers at Christianity Today argue that impeachment of the President “is not a matter of partisan loyalties but loyalty to the Creator of the Ten Commandments.” Guest writer Keith Pavlischek takes issue with this new statement of faith in his response here.

7.)  Nadia Bolz-Weber Asserts Life Begins at Breath

During an interview with NPR’s All Things Considered, Nadia Bolz-Weber, an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) pastor-turned-public theologian, argued: “life began with breath.” She claimed:

[F]or a very long time, the Judeo-Christian thought held that life began with breath. In Genesis, it says that God breathed into dust to create humanity, that that was the moment that we had a living soul

And:

So this idea of life and breath being connected is something that people can sort of hold on to, if they still have an attachment to Judeo-Christian thought, and still allow for, hey, women need to be able to have the decision around family planning and whether they’re going to go through with a pregnancy or not.

Read the whole story here.

8.) “Sort-Of Socialist” Church Pastor Accused of Sexual Misconduct

Buzzfeed News reported on a “quasi-socialist” Baptist church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, that is fighting the “ills of capitalism” by paying off the debt of its congregants and community members.  John Thornton Jr. is one of three co-pastors at Jubilee that the piece glorifies:

He’s a classic extrovert who thrives on more conversations, more coffee meetings just to chat. But he’s funnier, and far less dorky-dad, than your typical youth pastor. He’s also a raging socialist who wrote his first divinity school paper on how the church should focus on debt forgiveness, and he hasn’t shut up about it since.

He is also accused of “abusive sexual behavior via online” by a young woman, the INDY Week reports. The woman alleges Thornton pressured her to send him nude photos, undress for him via a FaceTime video connection, and engage in sexual conversations. Read on, here.

9.) Urbana 18 Speaker Dismisses God’s Holiness in Sermon to Students on “Holy, Holy, Holy”

At Urbana 18, students learned to denounce capitalism, apologize for Christianity, set aside the doctrine of justification, and exchange God’s holiness for pantheism. IRD Intern Joshua Arnold reported on activist Danielle Strickland’s irreverent and syncretistic interpretation of Revelations 4. Read Joshua’s report here.

10.) What Should We Make of Kanye West’s Christianity?

Hip Hop artist Kanye West declared himself a born-again Christian while visiting Washington, D.C., on October 12. “I’m not here for your entertainment,” West said during Howard University’s Homecoming. “We’re here to spread the Gospel.”

In a video published by the entertainment site TMZ, West is heard directing the audience’s attention to Philippians chapter 2 before adding, “Excuse me if I mispronounce anything, I’m a recent convert. Means I recently got saved within this year.” One clip shows West reading Ephesians 4:9, and in another, he is heard discussing Mark 1:15, which he called one of his favorites verses.

Continue reading here.

via IRD’s Top 10 Evangelical News Stories of 2019 — Juicy Ecumenism