Archives For Evangelicalism

When I do campus evangelism, I often start the conversation this way: “What are two reasons you stopped going to church?” I’ve asked hundreds of students that question, and the most common responses make me think that church youth groups have failed dramatically.

I understand that every human being is responsible for their own sin, and that even the best of youth groups will have students that fall between the cracks. But the fact of the matter is that too many pastors have believed the lie that teenagers cannot handle certain truths. They have accepted the culture’s belief that today’s teenagers’ attention span has shortened, and that their ability to comprehend deep truths has dissipated.

Whether you’re a parent or a youth pastor, you have to understand that adapting to the culture is something that pagans do. The Church is called to be counter-culture, and we must, despite what the world tells us and sadly what many fellow Christians tell us, stay faithful to Scripture and teach the whole counsel of God. So here are five truths that most teenagers (christian or not) are not being taught, that we must teach, in order to have a Biblical youth group.

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Kim Jong-Il really loved the people of North Korea. In an incredible documentary called “Inside North Korea” he shows how he cares about the health of his people so much that when they were suffering from poor vision and even blindness, he hired famous cataract surgeon Sanduk Ruit to come in and provide free eye surgery for many North Koreans.

Of course I hope you realize how stupid the title of this post is. The documentary does an incredible job of revealing how crazy this situation is. The people are suffering from blindness because of malnutrition – malnutrition caused by the evil North Korean regime. Maybe the most fascinating part of the documentary is when the people see for the first time post-surgery. None of them thank Dr. Ruit, but each and every one of the “healed” begins praising Kim Jong-Il.  You could even call it worship. One man even declared his desire to please Jong-Il by killing as many Americans as he could.

trump and clintonThe fact of the matter is that North Korea does not do wonderful things, it does evil things, and saying that it does wonderful things not only is laughable but it is to ignore and lie about common sense. And this is why I am so disgusted with Donald Trump’s answer about Planned Parenthood. When challenged by Cruz on the fact that he supports Planned Parenthood he said, “Planned Parenthood does wonderful things, but not when It comes to abortion”. That is the equivalent of saying that Kim Jong-Il did wonderful things, but not when it came to human rights. Of course no one knows why and when Trump changed his views on abortion, but he once stated that he was extremely pro-choice.

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complaining chalkboardEarly in 2007 Pastor Will Bowden of Kansas City realized his church had a chronic problem with complaining. (Welcome to the pastorate Will). He felt that the congregation was carping mainly about trivial issues—choice of hymns, informal dress code, and the like. So Bowden challenged his bleating sheep to a pledge: to stop for 21 consecutive days all griping, gossiping, and gainsaying. Those who accepted were issued little purple bracelets so that if they violated the pledge, they’d switch the bracelet to the opposite wrist and reset the count to zero. After months of self-muzzling effort, some folks were victorious and were rewarded with certificates of happiness conferred in church.

Two problems with Bowden’s idea I’d like to voice (irony aside)—are: first, that I didn’t think of it myself. Recognizing the insidious habit is half the battle won. And the second problem with a 21-day challenge is that it’s only 21 days. As insurmountable as three whine-free weeks sound, the challenge falls short of the Apostle Paul’s injunction to stop complaining… forever.

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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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