Not since Little Shop of Horrors have we seen a dentist portrayed as so thoroughly villainous as was done in last week’s wanton social media feeding frenzy. Mystifyingly, in the same news cycle that exposed the trafficking of infant body parts in the US, a story about one of many poached animals in Zimbabwe received the lion’s share of media attention.dentist steve martin

Don’t get me wrong, hunting without the proper permit is quite dastardly indeed. I’m a cat person (and a sub-Saharan resident) so I get that news of a dead lion with a name Americans can pronounce is more newsworthy than the countless anonymous extinction-bound rhinos that are poached every year for their horns. But more newsworthy than locals selling babies’ lungs without a permit? Really?

Incidentally, paying to shoot lions is not only legal in Zimbabwe, but actively encouraged by its tourism authorities. The Rhodesian Ridgeback dog was bred specifically to hunt lions (Rhodesia is Zimbabwe’s maiden name). And so, if the paperwork had been in order no one would have batted an eyelid or typed a tweet. Odd.

This is a good week for our theology and zoology to intersect. It behooves us to recap what we know about God’s view of animals.

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In 2 Samuel 11, it seemed like everyone was sending someone somewhere. David does some sending (2 Sam 11:3, 6); Joab sends Uriah (2 Sam 11:6) and later a messenger (2 Sam 11:18); even Bathsheba sends people (2 Sam 11:5). But throughout all of this sending in chapter 11, there is someone eerily missing: God. We’re left wondering, “Will God get involved and do some sending of His own?”

In chapter 12, we get our answer. God takes over this mess of a situation. He gives David enough time to feel the weight of his sin, and then sends His prophet Nathan to confront David (2 Sam 12:1). He does so by telling a story of a rich man who takes a poor man’s ewe lamb pet, and cooks it for his visiting friend. And although everyone would agree that it was an absolutely evil thing to do, David’s reaction is over the top, He screams “As the Lord lives, surely the man who has done this deserves to die” (2 Sam 12:5).

David recognized that it was a wicked thing for a man with plentiful herds to kill the only companion a poor man had so they could enjoy a meal. The problem, though, is that David had no business calling anyone out on their sin at the moment, since he had just murdered many innocent people! He committed adultery (2 Sam 11:4), impregnated Uriah’s wife (2 Sam 11:5), took Bathsheba as his own (2 Sam 11:27), and then killed Uriah and other soldiers (2 Sam 11:17) just to cover up his evil. After killing a human being, David is nevertheless incensed that the rich man would kill a lamb.

In the next verse, Nathan utters two words that will sink David’s heart forever: “Attah Ha-ish!” “You are the man!”

And if that doesn’t sound bizarrely similar to the events of this past week, I don’t know what does.

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Though I’m currently on a reduced blogging schedule, I got tagged in for something special.

On July 19th, John MacArthur preached a sermon entitled We Will Not Bow.

John-MacArthur

It got no small notice online and has been posted all around the internet (and ‘the internet’ means ‘Facebook, Twitter, and WeChat’).  I listened to the sermon a few days ago and, like many, found it to be a biblical breath of fresh air in what is quickly becoming an unsettling age.

MacArthur placed the recent supreme court decision in the light of spiritual reality.  He commented on how Satan is behind the attack against the family in all its fronts (feminism, the sexual revolution, abortion, same-sex marriage, transgenderism, etc.).  He reminded Christians that what they’re seeing is neither new nor abnormal.  He went through several sections of the Old Testament and commented on how all the issues that we see today were all issues in Israel: homosexuality, transvestism, etc.  He talked at length about various sexual issues as they were addressed in both the Old and New Testaments, and then commented on how those same issues have arisen to the forefront of public affairs in the last few decades.  He quickly walked through Romans 1 and then, when he got to Romans 1:32, he stated that the reprobate mind is taking over our culture and will demand compliance.  Before moving on to preach from 2 Thessalonians 1, MacArthur gave examples of Romans 1:32 that are already occurring or coming soon: churches losing their tax exempt status, Christian colleges losing their accreditation for not accepting the new morality, etc.

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In 1915, Coca-Cola and its bottling partners decided to issue a creative challenge to a handful of U.S. glass companies: develop a “bottle so distinct that you would recognize it by feeling it in the dark or lying broken on the ground.”

Because they believed the taste to be so unique, and the sales proved them to be right, they wanted the bottle to be as unique as the taste. They envisioned a scenario where people would reach their hand into a cooler looking for a Coca-Cola, and they wantedcoke to make sure that the individual would be able to easily identify the bottle and grab it.

When we share the gospel we want to show Christianity as what it truly is; the only way to Heaven. We want people to walk away from the Gospel conversation understanding that there is nothing else like it. We want to make the Gospel stand-out from all other religions, in light of the fact that the Devil attempts to make all religions indistinguishable. The best way I have learned to do this is, is through the “two-religion” method.

No matter whom you are talking to, the two-religion method is helpful. Whether you are talking to a nominal Christian who still thinks he is getting to heaven based on his morality, or you are talking to a Roman Catholic trusting in his baptism to save him, or an atheist who believes that every religion is wrong, it is critical, to show the unbeliever what makes Christianity so radically different from every other religion.

So usually at some point in the conversation I explain the difference between Christianity and the devil’s religions, and it goes something like this:

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Over the past few weeks, The Master’s Seminary has been posting videos that highlight the seminary’s core doctrinal commitments. In case you’ve missed them, here are 24 of those videos under five categories. Each video is only a few minutes long, making it easy to discover what TMS is all about.

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A High View of God

A High View of Scripture

Salvation

The Lord Jesus Christ

The Holy Spirit

This material is adapted from the chapter “That Makes Cents: How To Raise Funds for STM Trips” in my book Holding the Rope: Short-Term Missions: Long-Term Impact.

lego hebrew slavesAs the Short-Term Missions (STM) co-ordinator at Grace Community Church, thoughtful questions about raising funds got posed to me frequently.

One young man was in turmoil about our requirement that he send out support letters. He was a fairly new believer, with only a few Christian friends. His whole family were not Christian. None of his school or work friends were believers. He wanted to use the trip as an opportunity to talk to his family and friends about Christ.

He wanted to tell them what it was he would be doing on the trip and why he was driven to do this. His hope was that they would be challenged to consider their own lives, and to see how his formerly selfish existence was being transformed by the gospel—his priorities, his vacation time, his interests had been altered by an encounter with Christ.

So, what’s the problem? Why the turmoil? Because someone had told him that God didn’t want him to use money from unbelievers to do God’s work.

On the other hand, someone else had pointed out to him that God commanded Moses and the fleeing Israelites to “plunder the Egyptians” from whom they were escaping. God funded the nation of Israel’s journey with livestock, gold, jewels, and other valuables belonging to pagans. And the houses they were to occupy in the Promised Land had been built and furnished and developed by the pagan Canaanites.

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July 24, 2015

We Will Not Bow!

by Caleb Kolstad

KnowingTheTimes-2013Throughout his ministry, Martin Lloyd-Jones frequently preached sermons on the state of English culture and society. These messages, known as the “Knowing the Times” sermons, became a vital part of his pastorate as he equipped his flock to understand the the Bible and gave them practical principles for living in a fallen world. Nothing from Downy Street every caught the Lord by surprise, and these messages (he called them “occasional addresses”) were his way of encouraging his congregation to view their culture through a biblical-lens.

Last Sunday, Pastor John MacArthur delivered a prophetic word that immediately reminded me of those “Logic On Fire” Lloyd-Jones addresses. At the evening message, MacArthur began by telling the congregation that while much that is very helpful has already been said regarding the recent legalization of same-sex “marriage,” he wanted to give additional clarity (you can listen to the message here).

He began by pointing out that our country often delineates our history through acts of terror and war. But he wanted us to know that in his opinion, the two biggest acts of terror our country have faced are both from our Supreme Court: the legalization of abortion, and now the legalization of SSM. How are those two connected? Well, the first attacks mothers, and second attacks families. The first means moms without kids, and the second means kids without moms.   Continue Reading…

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Homosexuality is often seen as the worst of sins. But, what does the Bible say?   Continue Reading…

 

 

I just finished watching a second video put out by the Center for Medical Progress that–as unbelievable as this sounds–is more damning than the first. It’s impossible to watch a video like this and not cry or feel anger. Someone talking with excitement about selling baby body parts shows the callousness of humanity reaching new depths.

Yet these videos made me have sympathy for a group of victims I had never thought of before–namely mothers who have had an abortion. Many of these women were pushed into this situation. They bought the lie–that the life inside of them didn’t matter, at least not as much as their own lives do. They allowed the workers at Planned Parenthood to tell them that abortion was what was right, that there is nothing wrong with it, and that the “thing” inside of them was just a clump of cells. They were led to believe by the counselors there that they had to do what was right for them, and not for their baby.

And they did it. They got the abortion, possibly even through tears.

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“If you want to convict a congregation, preach on prayer.” This is what we were taught in seminary and what I’ve experienced in my own life.

There are countless reasons why our prayer lives become anaemic. But the one factor that haunts us like no other in this crazy busy world is perceived lack of time. I say “perceived” because we have the same twenty-four hours that every prayer warrior has, and that all our forefathers had. And yet William Wilberforce confessed in the late 1700’s,

This perpetual hurry of business and company ruins me in soul if not in body. I suspect that I have been allotting habitually too little time to private devotion and religious meditation, Scripture reading, etc. Hence I am lean and cold and hard. I had better allot two hours or an hour and half daily…[For] All may be done through prayer, mighty prayer.”

And if we’re honest, the real paucity of time for prayer is self-imposed (and selfie-imposed), as John Piper sagely warns:

One of the great uses of Twitter and Facebook will be to prove at the Last Day that prayerlessness was not from lack of time.”

In this post I’d like to offer a beginning therapy to help rehabilitate your prayer life. This is a five minute template of prayer, with a five simple segments, each of which can easily be filled with one minute of prayer. And then the idea is that you increase the time you spend on each segment; twelve minutes per segment fills an hour.cactus

This suggestion is meant to help Christians who are already convinced of the need to pray, who perhaps pray sporadically throughout the day, but would like a more structured plan on which to build.

If you feel that you are too busy for five minutes a day to start this exercise then you are simply too busy for what God created you to do. Rework your priorities (you’ve spent some precious minutes reading this blog post already; I’d be happy if this was your last time on our blog if it meant more prayer to God for whom we maintain this site).

I call it the CACTIS method, and that’s not because I misspelled a plant that can thrive in desperately dry conditions (though that metaphor does seem apropos). It’s a variation on the common ACTS plan.

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