We’ll keep this brief. Not much more needs to be said about the Mark Driscoll/Mars Hill situation. Just three quick items for consideration as we’ve had a few days to consider some of the responses.
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As more courts overturn laws that define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, I have encountered many Christians who are genuinely confused about the issue. Because our culture has almost entirely capitulated to the notion of same-sex weddings, it is becoming common for believers to defend these unions as “marriage” because, after all, the government shouldn’t legislate morality (or “separation of church and state,” or some other line like that).
But in order to articulate the case against the judicial redefinition of marriage (which I will do next week–this isn’t that post), a person first must have a firm grasp on the answer to this foundational question: What is the role of government?
I remember the first few times hearing about a heavenly prayer language. Some called it praying, or speaking, in tongues. Not long after coming to faith in Christ, a group of friends took me to a few meetings where this would be happening. We gathered in homes, the forest, and a local church to experience these supposed, Holy-Spirit-induced prayers. What I witnessed was fairly similar: various individuals caught in a trance-like state, speaking, or praying (I wasn’t sure), out loud using non-language noises in somewhat of a repeated fashion. The prayers/noises sounded something like, “Hasha-batta, kala-hasha, nashta-kala, hasha-batta..”
Subsequent to that, others reported that they were having similar experiences during private prayer to God. They said that the Holy Spirit gave them an ability to pray in non-language sounds as a means of infusing their prayers, and encouraged me to seek this out. About one year later, I observed some of the same, a supposed Holy-Spirit-infused prayer language, while attending one of the largest, and most well-known charismatic churches in the nation. These were some of my first experiences with this prayer language phenomena. I soon discovered that it is a widely practiced phenomena (in various forms) both inside and outside Christendom.
I, like many, began to ask: Is this prayer phenomena in Scripture? And, if so, what does Scripture say about it?
When the world’s attention shifted to Ukraine and Israel last week, the Islamic leaders in Iraq capitalized on the distraction. For weeks the functional government in central Iraq (ISIS) had told Christians they had to make one of four choices by this past Saturday: forfeit their property as a “Christian” tax, convert to Islam, leave, or die. But a week ago ISIS revised their list, and said paying the “tax” was no longer an option.
When Friday came around, residents awoke to an Arabic “N” spray-painted on the houses, property, and farms of all suspected Christians. The government had come during the night to demonstrate that they knew who the Christians were, and the spray-painted N’s were a not-so-subtle reminder that the deadline to convert, flee, or die was only 24 hours away. Continue Reading…
In today’s post, I would like to briefly consider one of the most well-known and often-quoted verses in the New Testament. In fact, it is one of the most popular verses in American evangelical culture today.
It has been printed on posters and inspirational wall art. A quick internet search reveals that you can buy key chains, rings, buttons, t-shirts, stickers, postcards, bracelets, handbags, and other Christianized trinkets with the words of this verse emblazoned, embroidered, or embossed upon them. This verse even gained some notoriety among college football fans a couple years ago when a championship quarterback sported the verse on the glare-reducing strips he wore under his eyes.
But the irony is that, by taking this verse out of context, many people have actually turned it on its head—making it mean the opposite of what it actually means. They have turned it into a slogan of personal empowerment—a declaration of self-achievement, ambition, and accomplishment. For many, this verse has been trivialized into some sort of motivating motto for material prosperity, career advancement, or athletic success.
But in reality it is nothing of the sort.
By now, you may have guessed that the verse I am describing is Philippians 4:13. There, the Apostle Paul writes, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
Now, if we read Philippians 4:13 in isolation, apart from its context, it’s possible to see why so many take it as a declaration of personal empowerment.
Out of context, the “all things” seems like it could refer to whatever someone might want to accomplish—from winning a football game to losing weight to getting a new job to gaining material wealth. Out of context, it is often treated like a spiritual boost of self-confidence that can be applied to any ambition or aspiration in life.
But in context this verse has a very specific, defined meaning—one that most Americans don’t want to hear about, but one that is very important for us to remember as believers. Continue Reading…
In the shadow of the movie’s release, I thought it apropos to regurgitate this (one of my first) posts…
This annoying little book is not going away. Upon hearing his 4-year-old claim that he had visited heaven and met Samson and a blue-eyed Jesus, Pastor Todd Burpo encountered the same challenge all parents of toddlers frequently face. When my boy claims that he is actually Superman I wrestle with an identical dilemma: Do I just smile and play along til he grows out of it, or do I write a book sharing the claim with the world? What to do, what to do?
Pastor Burpo didn’t chicken out and opt for the condescending smile-and-nod approach most of us lazy dads do. No, he employed a literary agent who successfully lured Thomas Nelson Publishers into eventually putting 1.5 million copies into print. (If anyone can get me that agent’s number, I’m very interested!) Dad
exploited assisted his boy to polish his story, and Nelson presented their newest father-and-son trophy as the very yellow “Heaven is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back.” It shot to #1 Bestseller for non-fiction.
The NY Times ran an article facetiously titled “Celestial Sales for Boy’s Tale of Heaven.” In it there is a priceless explanation of why reputable literati types would stoop to promoting this project. Patricia Bostelman, the vice president for marketing at Barnes & Noble admitted: “When you buy the religion subject, you are presented with many stories about heaven, personal experiences about …the afterlife,… But what was unusual about this book was that it was the story of a little boy. It deactivated some of the cynicism that can go along with adults capitalizing on their experiences.” In other words, when you rub shoulders with the gullible folk who “buy the religion subject” you are bound to meet shameless kooks who try to profit from fanciful lies. But this one we could promote, because it will sell. And why will it sell? Because the picture of a little boy will “deactivate” some of the normal discernment that might hinder sales.
Hello, my name is Clint, and I am a Baptist. [Insert “Hi Clint”].
To our beloved pedobaptist readers, before we plunge into the discussion please understand that I am not making a case for believer’s baptism by immersion—I am assuming it.
This article is not an attempt to wade neck-deep into a turbulent,century-spanning controversy, nor to convince R. C. Sproul, Kevin DeYoung, or the Pope that Baptists are right. I am sharing the Anabaptist perspective of three practical scenarios that tend to pop up occasionally in the ministry of Baptist pastors.
1. The sprinkled Baptist
Occasionally a mature believer will sidle up to me and confess in hushed tones that although they are now fully convinced that baptism by immersion is the biblical method, they were—ahem—not immersed but—ahem—sprinkled.
I nod my head gravely, furrow my brow sagaciously, and then pose two diagnostic questions:
Last week Jesse wrote about how understanding soccer will make you a better Christian. Today, I want to give some balance to this discussion. I want to lay out why the whole concept of soccer is actually contrary to biblical values.
Soccer should be rejected for these 11 reasons:
I come to Michael Brown’s final chapter of Authentic Fire. Here is where he wraps up what he has been saying throughout his book, as well as provides his concluding words of exhortation as to what we, his readers, should take away from the Strange Fire conference.
He begins by laying out four reasons why the Strange Fire conference and the published book will be significant.
To summarize those reasons [AF, 309-310]:
1. Strange Fire will be a negative landmark in the increasing minority position of cessationism.
2. More believers will study afresh the Scriptures and see that continuationism is true. In other words, Strange Fire will backfire!
3. Pentecostals and charismatics who previously had no connection to each other will be united, along with non-hostile cessationists connecting with non-crazy charismatics and working together for God’s kingdom.
4. Charismatics will look more seriously at some of their more glaring errors both doctrinally and morally.
Brown then concludes the remainder of his chapter with three challenges to those Christians sympathetic to the Strange Fire message. Continue Reading…
Church discipline (Matt 18:15-20) is often messy, costly, and accompanied by damage. The pain experienced is typically unmatched when a professing believer must be publicly put out of the local church.
Even so, when practiced biblically, it is consistent with biblical love, care, and obedience to Christ. Mark Dever rightly says that church discipline is “a loving, provocative, attractive, distinct, respectful, gracious act of obedience and mercy, and that it helps to build a church that brings glory to God.” Along those lines, a friend of mine was biblically disciplined out of a large church and to this day he confesses that it was one of the best things that ever happened to him. But more importantly, it’s a matter of non-negotiable in God’s kind of church.
Now, the existence of church discipline in a church does not mean that church is a biblical church. It’s a process that is sometimes abused. However, a refusal to practice it is a certain red flag. It’s one thing if a church leadership has not been practicing church discipline and is attempting to implement it. But it’s quite another thing if a church refuses to practice it. That refusal is symptomatic of other problems, making it an unsafe church.
Here are 10 perils common among churches that will not practice church discipline on you: