Archives For Evangelicalism

I love watching soccer. Believe it or not it is something that I find enjoyable. And before you mock me let me remind you that billions of people across the world enjoy it as well. I love telling the coach of my favorite team how wrong he was in his decision making. I love sharing my opinion with the referee over his decision-making abilities, or his need to visit the ophthalmologist as soon as possible. Let me tell you it is very difficult for me to remain silent while watching my favorite team play. The only problem with all that is that no one can hear me, well maybe my neighbors can, crazy soccer fanbut those involved in the actual outcome of the game can’t. The coach, the players, the referee all have no idea that there is some guy thousands of miles away yelling at them through the television screen.

This spectator mentality is what we see in many churches. Many people show up thinking that the Church is there in order to serve them. In fact if we are honest everyone naturally thinks this way. We all are born thinking that the world exists for our purposes. Many young pastors like me actually encourage this. They set up churches to look like rock-concerts with a mini, story-filled sermon jammed in the middle that will rarely last longer than 20 minutes. The Bible is set aside and the service seems to be geared to make unbelievers feel welcome and comfortable.

The writer of Hebrews has a different mindset. He is convinced that being part of the Church implies being more than a spectator.  In fact, he encourages all believers to be active participants. In Hebrews 10:24-25 we find a famous passage. A passage we usually rush to when we find someone who claims to be a Christian but doesn’t attend church. While it certainly is the go-to “don’t skip church” passage, it is so much more. In just two short verses we are given five implied commands that could radically change our Sunday morning.

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Stephen Nichols, President of Reformation Bible College, Interviewed John MacArthur on his 5 minutes in church history podcast, and asked him if he were to be stranded on an island which five books would he bring with him?

Here is the transcript of the interview.

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January 28, 2016

Tor and the Trinity

by Jesse Johnson

Wheaton College Professor Larycia Hawkins, in yellow, stands next to the Rev. Jesse Jackson as she prepares to speak during a Chicago news conference earlier this month.

It started with a hijab during Advent, and ends with a foundational lesson in the Trinity.

Larycia Hawkins, a professor of Politics and International Relations at Wheaton, decided to wear a hijab to her classes. She explained on Facebook that she did this as part of her “advent worship” in order to demonstrate that she:

“Stand[s] solidarity with Muslims because they, like me, a Christian, are people of the book. And as Pope Francis stated last week, we worship the same God.”

In addition to her strange identification of Christians as “people of the book” (which is an Islamic category), her expression of solidarity with Muslims was poorly timed, to say the least.

For many Middle Eastern Christians, the hijab represents the brutal oppression of women by Muslims. Moreover, in much of Iraq, Egypt, Syria, and Libya, this was the first Christmas season in 2000 years without Christians to celebrate it. Islamic terrorists (who require women to wear a hijab by law) have essentially eliminated churches through much of the Middle East. So from the comfort and safety of Illinois, an American Professor publically showed “solidarity” with those who are slaughtering Christians by wearing a symbol of Islamic female suppression.   Continue Reading…

Last week I attended the march for life in Washington D.C. which is a yearly peaceful protest of the Roe v. Wade decision from 1973. As we were marching down the road with the snow falling from the sky, with thousands of people and signs everywhere, my eyes caught a sign that made the whole event come to life for me.

MOTHER FROM RAPE POSTERA middle aged woman was holding a sign with incredible confidence and indescribable joy. The sign had a short but profound message:

Mother from rape I love my child!

I will never forget the face of the woman. The joy in her eyes was contagious. It was obvious that this woman had not believed the lie, the lie that she was worthless and powerless. That not only was she a victim, but had to live as a victim for the rest of her life. She was strong. She was capable. She was a woman.

As we were marching for life, I couldn’t help but think about the obvious truth that being pro-life is actually the same as being pro-woman. In fact, the opposite is true as well. Being pro-death is congruent with being anti-woman.

The day before the march, I had the opportunity to hear from so many different leaders in the pro-life movement, and although I had done a lot of thinking about pro-life issues in the last year (a lot of it because of those eye-opening planned parenthood undercover videos), I walked away from the March for Life weekend with a greater conviction about being pro-life because of the very truth that being pro-life is being pro-woman.

The world lies. It always does. Hundreds of thousands marched with me the other day, and yet very few, if anyone, reported on it. You may say that they have more important things to report on, like the snow coming. The record-breaking snow that, despite its threat, was powerless to keep all those people from marching on.

The abortion industry is evil. And on top of that, despite its claims, it is anti-woman. It lies to you, and twists the truth either to satisfy its insatiable desire to take your money, or in self-deception thinks they are helping women because they believe these lies. Three big ones to be exact.

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In an incredible change of development, Bill Cosby could get away with rape. Allegedly, over the course of the last 50 years, Cosby has drugged and raped over 50 women. But a recent story came out claiming that Bill Cosby admitted to using sedatives to drug women back in 2005, but was promised by the prosecutor that it would never be used against him in court, and there is an email to prove this agreement. It is very likely that his confession, as well as any evidence gathered as a result of that confession, will not be allowed in court. If this turns out to be true Bill Cosby could go free. If the allegations are true, I can’t help but wonder what those women would go through if he ends up getting away with it.

martin-luther-king-mug-shotDealing with injustice is one of the most difficult things for people to go through. This situation with Bill Cosby is only one example of injustice out of a multitude this week alone. In celebrating Martin Luther King Jr Day yesterday, we were reminded yet again about the injustice he faced and that he exposed the injustice millions faced through the evil of American slavery. Later this week hundreds of thousands will be invading the streets of Washington D.C. to participate in the March For Life and protest the Roe v. Wade decision. Millions of babies have since been killed and their murderers, instead of being locked up in jail for selfishly and callously murdering their babies, are not only free, but applauded for their decisions, and given a platform to encourage others to do so as well.

How do we deal with all of this? How do we think about injustice in the world? Here are six thoughts I need to remind myself with in order to deal with terrible injustice.

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Marriage is a huge responsibility. It is the opportunity to display a picture of the Gospel to the entire world. In Ephesians chapter 5, after speaking about the sacrificial love a husband should have for his wife, Paul concludes by telling the reader that marriage is an opportunity to display a picture of the Gospel to the entire world. A husband is called to love his wife as Christ loves the Church. Now, most husbands fail miserably within seconds of saying “I do”, and that’s why most healthy churches surround each young man with godly accountability.

Over the past few years of being involved in weddings, we have regularly had a “Bachelor Grilling hot seatParty”. While there is certainly meat involved, the grilling has less to do with animals and more to do with the bachelor. The idea is that you bring in as many godly people in the room as possible, and after a time of fellowship, you sit the guy front and center in the hot seat and allow everyone to give him advice and challenge him to think rightly about his marriage. Of course this doesn’t replace pre-marital counseling, but I believe this can be a very encouraging and challenging time for everyone involved. Here are 7 benefits of having a “Bachelor Grilling Party”.

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In a previous post, we looked to the seventy Resolutions of Jonathan Edwards as an example of an eternal and God-glorifying perspective that all believers ought to emulate. They are an especially helpful reminder at the beginning of a new year, when everyone is thinking about the resolutions they will make for the upcoming weeks and months.

But let’s be honest. A list of spiritual goals compiled by one of church history’s greatest heroes can be a bit intimidating, especially when there are seventy of them. When we make similar resolutions — and later fail to keep them — it can be downright discouraging to compare ourselves to someone like Jonathan Edwards.

Well, here’s a nugget of encouragement for you. Even a notable Puritan theologian like Edwards struggled to keep his resolutions.

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Every December it seems, there is some kind of story that comes out about Jesus. In a story that has now gone viral, British scientists, assisted by Israeli archaeologists, have used “Forensic Anthropology” to show us exactly what Jesus looked like. To America’s shock he’s neither white nor black, he looks like, wait for it, someone born in Israel. While this has caused many people to strong reactionsjesus, “discoveries” like these cause true believers to chuckle in amusement.

With recent movies about Noah, Moses, the Bible series and so on, Hollywood is banking on the world’s fascination with depicting Biblical content on the screen. People everywhere seem to be dying to get their eyes on what Bible stories look like. And while I understand the desire to know exactly what Jesus looked like, and to be able to experience Old Testament times, I think that the Bible would not only say that it is not necessary, but it would go as far to say that we are better off for not seeing. Here are three quick reasons why we are better off without any likeness of heavenly things.

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There are a lot of Santa Claus stories floating around this time of year. Almost all of them are completely based in fantasy. Flying reindeer; a sleigh full of gifts; precarious chimney climbing; a fluffy red suit — all of that is total fiction.

But when my kids used to ask me, “Dad, is Santa Claus real?” I didn’t always say “No.” At least not right away.

(Pause for dramatic effect.)

Santa_Claus

Like any good student of church history, I explained that the real “Santa Claus” was actually a fourth-century pastor named Nicholas of Myra who was later considered a saint by the medieval Roman Catholic Church. He was a favorite of Dutch sailors who called him, “Sinter Klaas” (or “Saint Nicholas”) which then came into English as “Santa Claus.”

Of course, I was careful to point out that the modern American version of Saint Nicholas bears absolutely no resemblance to the fourth-century pastor from Asia Minor. The real Nicholas did not live in the North Pole. He was not Scandinavian. He did not drive a team of magical caribou. He did not work with elves. Nor did he travel the world every Christmas Eve exchanging presents for milk and cookies. Continue Reading…

xmas blocks

I’m all for putting Christ back in Christmas. And there is no doubt that our secularized culture is working hard at surreptitiously ushering the Baby out, without losing the murky bathwater of gift-giving and commercial celebration. But I’d like to address the misinformed concern that the use of “Xmas” as a placeholder for “Christmas” is part of the conspiracy to excise Christ from his holiday.

First, Christmas is not a biblical holiday. There are no New Covenant feast days; besides communion there is no recurring remembrance that is mandated. The Catholics came up with the Christ Mass feast, and global retailers and consumers alike hopped on the bandwagon. So, if Jesus becomes as absent to the secular mindset from Christmastime as he is from Halloween, there is no loss to the New Covenant.

Second, and this is my main point, using “X” to replace “Christ” is not necessarily an indication of anything sinister. I have used Xmas and Christmas interchangeably with a clear conscience ever since learning about the history of its usage.

Some Christians shun the use of Xmas.

In an interview Franklin Graham opined on behalf of evangelicalism:

For us as Christians, this is one of the most holy of the holidays, the birth of our savior Jesus Christ. And for people to take Christ out of Christmas. They’re happy to say merry Xmas. Let’s just take Jesus out. And really, I think, a war against the name of Jesus Christ.”

 

This, I believe, is an understandable but unnecessary overreaction.

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