Archives For Evangelicalism

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…

 

 

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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Apple and SnakeThe last few months have been emotionally tiring for Christians in America.

Though many debate whether the United States was ever a “Christian nation,” there can be no denying that a Christian worldview and biblical principles were fundamental in the formation of this country. Indeed, the founding fathers understood this even as they crafted the charter documents of our government. Thomas Jefferson wrote that the “inalienable rights” of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” which mark the ideals of every American, are endowed to us by our Creator. John Adams wrote, “We have no government, armed with power, capable of contending with human passions, unbridled by morality and religion. Avarice, ambition, revenge and licentiousness would break the strongest cords of our Constitution, as a whale goes through a net. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.

And for many years, America seemed to be comprised of a largely “moral and religious people.” That’s not to say that everyone was a Christian, or that outward morality or religiosity was equivalent to having truly been born again by the Holy Spirit. But for so many years, this nation that was built upon the freedom of speech, expression, and religion has provided a conducive environment for the Church of Jesus Christ to fulfill her mission: to freely proclaim the Gospel of forgiveness of sins through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and to make disciples of those whom the Lord saves. This symbiotic relationship has resulted in a general moral consciousness in society that has made it suitable to be governed by our Constitution, according to the vision expressed by Adams above.

But as I said, the last few months have been particularly tiresome for Christians in America, as our society continues to give indication after indication of increasing hostility against the very values that our country was built upon.

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In the course of His earthly ministry, Jesus

  • healed diseases
  • cast out demons
  • calmed storms
  • raised the dead
  • fed thousands at one time
  • walked on water
  • turned water into wine
  • and even controlled the placement of fish (e.g. Matt. 17:23–27; Luke 5: 1–11).

Because His miracles were so well-known, Jesus Himself pointed to them as verification that He came from God. As He told His critics, “For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me” (John 5:36; cf. Matthew 11:5; John 10:38). Continue Reading…

This past Sunday I spoke to the congregation at my church about the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling. Above is the 7-minute video, and below are the comments edited and formatted reading.

A few years ago the elders at my church asked the pastors to focus on equipping the congregation to deal with persecution. As part of our strategic plan, the elders wanted the members of Immanuel Bible to have a larger understanding of what persecution looks like globally, with an eye toward preparing our church for future persecution here in the United States.   Continue Reading…

I’ve been checking my Facebook newsfeed more in the past few days than I have in the last couple months combined, and I’m filled with sadness over the response of some people I thought were Christians, but have obviously departed from the Gospel. I’m super thankful for my old pastor and his thoughts, as well as my current pastor and his video. But I’ve also been concerned about the response of other Christians.

As I was watching people’s responses and examining my own angry thoughts about the SCOTUS decision, I couldn’t help but think what is the purpose in what we are posting and saying? What is our goal? Are we trying to avoid persecution? Are we trying to convince people that we are being mistreated? Are we trying to evangelize? Can anyone come to faith by our giving crafty arguments against same-sex marriage?  Continue Reading…

flagWhat the Supreme Court of the United States did last week was simply play catch-up with the many other countries that were ahead of it in the headlong pursuit of institutionalized ungodliness. South Africa’s constitution, for one sad example, protects not only same-sex marriage but also polygamy and late-term abortion.

Many other “enlightened” nations have come full circle. Having previously embraced Christian morality, and enjoyed centuries of resultant civil, educational, and legal progress, they have now begun to pine for the leeks and onions of their Egyptian slave masters who at least didn’t tell them who they could marry.

Denmark, the Netherlands, and other post-reformation societies have shrugged off the fuddy-duddy conservatisms of their puritanical forefathers and have lapped up regurgitated libertarianism artificially flavored as avant-garde progressiveness.

The USA is like a body guard of the Church. The problem is that when America shows up at the party, that means there is no one left outside to guard the door.

I can’t improve on the insight of John Piper’s jeremiad when he laments,

My sense is that we do not realize what a calamity is happening around us. The new thing — new for America, and new for history — is not homosexuality. … What’s new is not even the celebration and approval of homosexual sin. Homosexual behavior has been exploited, and revelled in, and celebrated in art, for millennia. What’s new is normalization and institutionalization. This is the new calamity.”

It isn’t easy for Christians to identify a silver lining to Friday’s ruling that is worth celebration; unless you’re a premillennialist.

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gay white-house-rainbow

Michael S. Williamson—The Washington Post/Getty Images http://time.com/3938935/white-house-rainbow-gay-marriage-decision/

For many decades the LGBT movement has worked tirelessly in effort to fundamentally transform America’s conscience with regards to sexuality and gender.  This has been achieved, in large part, with direct assistance from Hollywood.  In a Hollywood Reporter article from 9/25/14 Natalie Jarvey wrote, “Gay couples? Gay kisses? Yawn. New sexual boundaries are being broken as Amazon’s ‘Transparent’ is the latest to tackle a once-taboo topic.”  Long before Bruce Jenner decided to go public with his transgender decision the path had already been paved for him.  In my judgment, a ‘team effort’ strategy during a sweeping “moral revolution” is what helped advance the LGBT cause so rapidly.

Our LGBT friends need to remember that not too long ago many/most “Liberal/Progressive” politicians actually campaigned in favor of traditional marriage (take Bill and Hillary Clinton for example).  The night before his presidential election victory in 2008, then candidate Obama said, “Marriage is between a man and a woman.” I do not support same sex same weddings though I do oppose California Proposition 8.  Much has changed in seven short years (and much has not).

If I were to summarize the LGBT strategy I would highlight six simple words: Desensitize, Normalize, Demonize, Legalize, Idolizeand for some, Victimize (or you could say Penalize)!  It is remarkable in some ways that less than 4% of the population has effectively influenced the Supreme Court into changing the “legal definition” of marriage (ultimately no human court has the authority to redefine what God designed).

Bruce Jenner

Photo credit: Annie Leibovitz: Vanity Fair

Now before you dismiss this article outright as coming from one of those “angry Baptist preachers” I would encourage you to at least consider the real life examples that are listed below.

The goal of this post is not to call on Christians everywhere to boycott Hollywood and Starbucks.  Every Spirit-filled believer has to make their own Biblically informed decisions as to what they are going to watch, listen to, and read.  Unlike some pastors, I do not believe that Christian liberty should not be taken away from believers just because it is regularly abused (for more on what the Bible teaches concerning grey area decisions consider this, this, and this). I for one take my wife to a restaurant owned by a gay chief, have gay friends, still enjoy Starbucks, hope to take my children to Disneyland one day, and occasionally go to the movie theater- but now I digress.

How did we get here?  Contrary to popular opinion, TV shows and movies are almost never “agenda-less” entertainment.  People write books and movie scripts with a certain worldview and with specific goals in mind.  My blog is no different.  I have a Christian worldview.  As such I believe that the Bible is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice.  I try and convince my small “audience” to follow the clear teachings of Scripture as an expression of love for Christ (John 14:15).

Back to the widespread influence of Hollywood.  Neal Postman observed correctly long ago that many Americans are simply “amusing themselves to death.”  This means that most church kids know far more about the entertainment world then the world of the Bible.  They know the lyrics of secular songs far better then they know lyrics of most sacred songs. They spend more time watching TV/movies then just about anything else.  In view of this, as my Greek professor often said, “We need to be aware so we can beware.”

Suffice it to say, the amount of TV shows that promote the LGBT agenda are too numerous to count.  Here is a VERY small sampling: Continue Reading…

scotus_marriage-blog480In a historic, Romans 1-esque move today, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the 14th Amendment requires all 50 states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples and recognize those marriages performed in other states.

Among professing Christendom, there has been everything from shock, outrage, fear, and indifference. Whatever our response, surprise must not be one of them and anchoring in God’s word must be all of them. In addition to what the Cripplegate has previously said on this issue, here are a few things for us to keep in mind in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling:

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