“As Christian parents, pastors, teachers, and youth group leaders, we constantly see young people pulled down by the undertow of powerful cultural trends. If all we give them is a “heart” religion, it will not be strong enough to counter the lure of attractive but dangerous ideas. Young believers also need a “brain” religion-training in worldview and apologetics-to equip them to analyze and critique the competing worldviews they will encounter when they leave home. If forewarned and forearmed, young people at least have a fighting chance when they find themselves a minority of one among their classmates or work colleagues. Training young people to develop a Christian mind is no longer an option; it is part of their necessary survival equipment.” -Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth.
There are many good reasons to join a local church. But there is yet another: love. In this way, I do not mean just the Christian compulsion to love; to love other Christians. I am referring, instead, to our inability to love – our inability to love everyone with the same intensity and devotion.
Enjoyed a friendly 30-minute conversation with two ladies who are Jehovah’s Witnesses. They were walking down Stanbery and wanted to talk.
I’m praying for their eyes to be opened to the true Hope of the world. JW hope in a savior who was created (not Jesus the uncreated, eternal second Person of the Trinity) and they hope in him by their works (not by grace alone through faith alone in His finished work).
We talked about many Scriptures and their clear meanings. In the end they understood me, but were unmoved. The ladies were very kind and gracious as I differed with them. Pray for change.
My conversation this morning reminded me of another fundamental difference between the Jesus of the Kingdom Hall (Jehovah’s Witnesses) and the Jesus of the Bible. One of the ladies I spoke with said, “If we thought we didn’t have to go door to door [to merit salvation], we’d be at home watching Martha Stewart.
See, that shows the real motive of the JW life: to merit something for yourself with your works. The motivation is not “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God,” as an act of worship which springs out of gratitude for His marvelous grace and good news.
Only the Jesus of the Bible-who gives salvation as a gracious gift-can compel selfless service to Him; not to get something from Him, but simply because He is infinitely worthy of all our joyful obedience.
The real Jesus is better.
As the Pride Festival and Parade rolls on in my city, I am reminded of my own incredible need for God’s grace to forgive, save, and change me. No matter how we sin, all of us are guilty before the living God, straight and homosexual alike. Listen to these striking words from the Bible: Continue reading “One Kind of Grace for All Kinds of Sin”
Title: Putting Your Past in Its Place: Moving Forward in Freedom and Forgiveness
Author: Stephen Viars
Publisher: Harvest House, 2011
Paperback: 244 pages
Everyone has a past and many people struggle to rightly deal with their pasts. Pastor Stephen Viars takes aim at this problem in his new book, Putting Your Past in Its Place: Moving Forward in Freedom and Forgiveness. After twenty years of pastoral ministry and countless cases of biblical counseling, Viars is well-qualified to write on the subject of handling the past through the gospel.
Viars’ main purpose is to develop a biblical theology of the past that is practical, helpful, and down-to-earth (18). With an eye on readers who are stuck in the past of past suffering and sin, the author presents biblical hope and help. Yet, the book is not about a step by step process, but a Person-God Himself. Viars writes, “My greatest concern is not that you learn a series of biblical principles or even take a few steps of behavioral obedience. Ultimately, God offers us the possibility of experiencing a vibrant, joyful relationship with Him. Unfinished business in the past will rob us of the delight we can find in Christ” (202). He masterfully shepherds readers toward lasting change; putting the past to work for good.
Continue reading “Putting Your Past in Its Place by Steve Viars”
Today, I accompanied my 10 year old daughter to her orthodontic appointment. She was scheduled for removal of the two front teeth braces she has worn for the last 8 weeks. It’s amazing to see how her teeth have moved together, brightening her smile! Such a small adjustment makes such an obvious difference.
I imagine most church members would find it hard to believe their pastors struggle with practicing spiritual disciplines. If any group of people should excel at personal Bible reading and memorization, prayer, worship, evangelism, fasting, and a number of other important Christian exercises, it should be the shepherds. And yet, surprisingly, many pastors do in fact struggle to consistently practice them. In certain seasons of ministry, good and important ministry needs tend to crowd out the everyday disciplines of Bible study and prayer. The struggle is real.
As another week passes and another Sunday arrives, we should ask one another: Are you ready to gather together again? Sunday is a special day! A day we think of as the highlight of our week. And in that case, it is a day that deserves forethought. For every Christian, a certain preparation for Sunday is in order. Even some meditation on a few simple questions can help us prepare our hearts to worship and hear from God.
-Is my body rested and ready to give the Lord my attention on this Lord’s Day?
-Is my heart prepared to sing to the Lord for all He has done for me?
-Are my ears tuned to His word so that I can hear important truth for my life?
-Is my mouth ready to speak gospel truth to by brothers and sisters when we gather?
-Is my courage up to meet new people and welcome them to my church?
-Have I invited and prayed for others who will join me today?
You can make questions like these a regular part of your weekend meditation, and be better prepared to serve in and be the Church this Sunday.
What are some questions you ask yourself to prepare for Sunday? Please leave your comments below.
“If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” – Peter
Do you struggle to rejoice when God blesses people you dislike; or people with whom you are at odds? See the way these noble Jews in the book of Acts glorified Yahweh when they realized He had chosen to grant repentance to Gentiles-people who were formerly outside the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant.
I operated this blog for many years. I had a small readership, but I loved it.
I trusted the Internet. The Internet betrayed me. My blog died.
After a long season of mourning and disillusionment, I must rebuild.
I’m watching you, Internet!