Archives For Evangelicalism

trumphillaryThis election season has been one of the most excruciating experiences for Evangelicals. So many Christians are exasperated by all the different things to think about before they walk into the voting booth. Smarter men than me have attempted to convince you to vote for, not vote for and to keep your opinions to yourself about which candidate to support this election cycle. Christians who hate abortion and want to see it end in their lifetime are rightfully distraught over the direction the supreme court seems to be going and we all see our religious freedoms departing as well.

My mind and heart are exhausted but there is enough in Scripture for our souls to be refreshed and reinvigorated.

Any time this world disappoints us our eyes should turn away from our situation and be fixed on the Lord. But more specifically, when our kingdom seems to be in shambles we must fix our eyes on a coming kingdom that is unsusceptible to human evil and error.

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Welcome back for the final installment of Addressing the Dressing!

So far in this series, we’ve discussed what modesty means in the Scripture, what elaborate hairstyles were associated with in Roman culture, and discussed the key biblical texts associated with “modesty” in the Bible.  In the previous post we set up the theological framework for, and briefly discussed, a general principle that covers a wide gamut of clothing/fashion related questions:

Avoid any reasonable degree of self-induced nakedness.

That’s definitely not the thorough discussion many may have been expecting or wanting, but it does work in giving a general orientation to this discussion.  If clothing bears skin or appears as skin, avoid it and move in a contrary direction.  Flee from the kinds of revealing, sensual or sexually-charged clothing that has become “normal” in contemporary culture.

Having dealt broadly with the issue of clothes, we now turn to the second (and final) issue.

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51kfcacw9kl-_sy344_bo1204203200_For as long as anyone knows, humanity has had a fascination with the supernatural. It’s an allure that transcends culture and time. So it has been in many contemporary Christian movements.

It was in 1987, after a John Wimber conference on miracles, that Bill Johnson claims to have experienced his ministry breakthrough. Then in 1996, after an experience at the Toronto Revivals, he began serving at Bethel Church in Redding, California, the original home of the Jesus Culture movement and Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry. Johnson, who is considered to have the “apostolic gift,” teaches many doctrines which fall in line with the NOLR (New Order of the Latter Rain Movement) and the NAR (New Apostolic Reformation). A proponent of the Toronto Blessing, Johnson supports individuals such as John G. Lake, Rodney Howard-Browne, and Smith Wigglesworth (the notorious, early 20th century faith-healer known for punching and slapping people with sicknesses as a means of miraculously healing them).

In 2003, Johnson published one of his more popular works, When Heaven Invades Earth: A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles (WHIE). Since its publication, tenth anniversary and teen editions have also been released. WHIE, which is claimed to be “a death-blow to cessationism” (21), has received endorsements by individuals such as Randy Clark, Heidi Baker, John Arnott, Ché Ahn, and Todd Bentley.

WHIE features many stories of people attempting to reach out to the lost (e.g. 25-26, 172-173). For that, the book is commendable. As Christians, it’s far too easy to shy away from bringing the love of Christ in word and deed to those in need.

Despite the popularity, however, when compared to Scripture, WHIE’s problems are enormous. The book will be examined in several theological categories to demonstrate this.

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wouldyourather“Would You Rather…?” has become a very popular game in the past few years. One of my favorite “would you rathers” of all time is: would you rather have fingers the size of your legs, or legs the size of your fingers?

The Bible seems to present many different “would you rathers”, such as: would you rather live on the corner of a roof or with a contentious wife?

But mostly the Bible isn’t very good at the game. It asks questions like: would you rather spend eternity in hell or in heaven? With Jesus or the Devil?

When I was 18 I found one of the Bible’s most devastating “would you rathers”.

As I was reading through the Bible I came across a passage in Ezekiel 3:17-21 that completely changed my life. Here God is speaking to the prophet Ezekiel. He has just picked him to be his prophet, and has already told him that he is going to be a messenger to Israel; and now he is going to make him his ambassador.

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342491561_640It’s been said that we are either entering a conflict, in a conflict, or just coming out of a conflict. Often, it’s some combination of the three. And, when it comes to church leadership teams, the same can be true.

Church leadership teams experience conflict for many reasons. Those teams are made up of imperfect, sinful men. The pressures are great. Misunderstandings abound. Wisdom is lacking. And the work of the ministry is just difficult.

For these reasons and more, Grace Immanuel Bible Church in Jupiter, Florida held the first “Ekklesia Pre-Conference” this past week. The event dealt head-on with the complexities of church leadership conflict in the local church.

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sorrycoffeeIt happens often that there is a disagreement and two members of a family blow up at each other.  One storms into their room in anger, slams the door, and spends a couple of hours sulking and thinking terrible thoughts of the other person. After a while they will emerge from the room, either acting like nothing happened or mumbling a “I apologize if I offended you”, or even worse an “I’m sorry” that can only be answered with “that’s okay”.  The problem is that it’s not okay.  We should never justify sin in our lives and it simply doesn’t cut it to say we’re sorry.

We apologize or say we are sorry when we step on someone’s toes by mistake. What is needed when we commit an offense against someone is a transaction. When I sin against someone I must ask for forgiveness. I have sinned against them and caused pain in their life. It wasn’t by mistake. It wasn’t accidental, it was on purpose and just because it wasn’t premeditated or I hadn’t had my coffee yet does not mean that it was not sinful.

Unbelievers minimize sin. Go up to any random stranger and ask them if they are going to heaven and you will hear some form of minimization of sin. In just the last week we talked to a few dozen people about the Gospel, and all except for the one Christian we ran into believed that they were a good person. We are born thinking that sin is not that serious and that we are ultimately good people. Psychiatrists have become experts of minimizing your sin and blame shifting. The danger is that many believers, even though they believe differently theologically, in practice follow the course of the world.

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A professing Christian was in a rough marriage for many years. It came to the point where they felt as if they could not take it anymore. Divorce entered the thoughts. They sought counsel from other Christians. Some opened Scripture, some didn’t, and some prayed. Though no biblical grounds for divorce, it came to the point where they could not see how God would want them to be unhappy in marriage. The marriage did not bring feelings of peace and comfort. So, they went through with the divorce on the grounds that both they and their close Christian friends “had a peace about it.”

Perhaps you’ve said it. “I have a peace about it.” Sometimes it takes on a different form. “I have prayed about it, so it’s God’s will.” Or, “I have a peace about it, so God is calling me to…” Those words are often-assumed gateways to what God wants me to do in the throes of life. But, is my “peace” God’s enthusiastic permission slip for my “it”? Is my prayer and peace heaven’s approval for whatever “it” may be in my life?

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This week the Foundry Bible Immersion began with seven new, courageous students who have left their homes and have moved to DC for 10 weeks of intense discipleship.

This year we are blessed with an international flavor. We have Scott and Ryle from Canada, Priscilla from Italy, Mikayla and Keanen from Arizona, and Ryan and Kathy from Virginia.

Young man reading small BibleThey have decided to come here because they want to grow in their knowledge and love for the Lord. They will be doing evangelism and learning in the classroom with our pastors, but perhaps the most important aspect of the school is the reading through the entire Bible in such a short amount of time.

At the age of 18, I went to a similar school in Italy. I was super depressed, unable to sleep at night, and with no direction in life when I began reading through the Bible.  It was exactly what I needed. The Lord completely changed my life thorugh it. In so many ways.

It changed my life because it caused me to understand that I exist for the purpose of glorifying God. Reading the Bible so quickly allowed me to see that God is the central focus of scripture. Sure, John 3:16 is one verse that focuses on God’s love for his children, but throughout Scripture I was exposed to the fact that God alone deserves the glory and that He shares it with no one. I was born selfish, thinking that my happiness was all that mattered. And reading the Scripture so quickly from start to finish exposed me to the folly of selfish, man-centered thinking, pushing me towards living for God.

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September 9, 2016

The Blog in Our Eyes

by Nathan Busenitz

What principles should guide Christians who interact on blogs (and other social media)?

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This article was originally published several years ago on Pulpit as a multi-part series. I’ve updated it slightly and republished it here because I believe it is still a helpful reminder for those who regularly communicate online – either through blogs or other forms of social media.

At times, the blogosphere can be notoriously nasty — a breeding ground for slander, gossip, misinformation, bickering, name-calling, arrogance, and quick-temperedness. Even Christian blogs can sometimes deteriorate into something between a tabloid and a talk show, built on a few provocative tidbits of juicy news and the massing of ignorance in response. Armed with anonymity and eager for an audience, bloggers (meaning both those who post and those who comment) often shoot first and ask questions only after they’ve trashed other people and embarrassed themselves.

So how can we, as believers, stem the tide and honor the Lord in the way we interact online? In answer to that question, here are ten practical principles derived from God’s Word.

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September 8, 2016

3 forms of gospel unity

by Jesse Johnson

 

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Yesterday, I argued that Christians ought to demonstrate practical unity in this presidential election. I laid out three different views of the election (vote Clinton! vote Trump! vote nobody!), and while I obviously don’t agree with all of those views—after all, they contradict one another—none of them can be clearly said to break Christian unity.

What do I mean by “Christian unity”? That the true gospel and doctrines of our faith must transcend pragmatic disagreements over politics. We should have more in common with other believers based on our statements of faith than we do based on our political outlook.  Continue Reading…