Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Best Question to Ask When Starting a Conversation About God

Ever found yourself looking for a way to initiate a conversation about God, but not sure exactly how to start? I’ve been in similar situations with people I don’t know (i.e. on airplanes, while waiting for a seat in a restaurant, or while watching a soccer game), and I’ve tried a number of approaches. I continue to return to one simple, effective question, however, to start the most important of all conversations. I’ve come to believe this is the most essential evangelistic question we can ask: “What do you think happens when we die?” 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

How Should You Explain the Same-Sex Marriage Debate to Your Children?

How Should You Explain the Same-Sex Marriage Debate to Your Children? Russell Moore gives a few thoughts on talking to children about tough topics. He writes, "...This doesn’t mean that we rattle our children with information they aren’t developmentally ready to process. But we know how to navigate that already. We talk, for instance, about marriage itself, and we give age-appropriate answers to the “Where do babies come from?” query. The same is true here..."

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Russell Moore on the Supreme Court

Russell Moore on the Supreme Court Russell Moore gives leadership to the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. The link contains audio of Dr. Moore speaking to the next several lines of battle in our cultural war over the issues of homosexuality. The implications of this decision, he argues, will in the fullness of time, apply to all 50 states. But does this decision have further implications for legal intimidations for dissenters who have conscientious objections? Mark Mellinger talks with Russell Moore about these further implications and how Christians should consider this decision.

“Waiting for the Other Shoe” — The Supreme Court Rules on Same-Sex Marriage

Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on two cases involving same-sex marriage issues. The rulings were not overly surprising in their outcome but certainly disappointing. The days ahead for churches and believers who hold to a biblical worldview will be challenging. I am reminded that the Supreme Court is not my ultimate authority nor my ultimate judge in what is right and wrong. We will all answer to a Holy and Righteous Judge one day. I was also reminded of the words of Jesus, "These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33, NASB).

This essay by Al Mohler is helpful in understanding what the Supreme Court said and what it means for our country and our lives. Mohler writes: "It is virtually impossible to exaggerate the future impact of the DOMA decision, but it is not yet a new Roe v. Wade.  Instead, it sets up a future legal challenge from any citizen in any state that does not have legal same-sex marriage. The Court’s decision in that future case, surely not long in our future, will be the new Roe v. Wade – a sweeping decision that would create a new “right” that would mean the coast-to-coast legalization of same-sex marriage. Today’s decisions do not take us there, but they take us to the precipice of that sweeping decision. That is especially true of the DOMA case."

How the Court Could Rule on Same-Sex Marriage — New York Times

Many are expecting a ruling today from the Supreme Court. Here are several options before the court.

The Supreme Court is set to release decisions in two cases about same-sex marriage. While hearings in March on California's ban on gay marriage were murky, hearings on the Defense of Marriage Act were more clear, as the justices seemed ready to strike down a central part of the act that bans federal benefits to gay spouses.

The court will decide whether Proposition 8, a California voter initiative that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman, violates the federal Constitution.

The court will also decide whether a part of the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 that defines marriage to be "only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" in determining federal benefits violates the Constitution's equal protection clause.

5 Things You Need to Know About the Supreme Court’s Marriage Cases

We should be hearing the decisions from the Supreme Court on Prop 8 and DOMA today (see “Now We Wait for the Ruling” to review what’s being decided). Regardless of what happens, you can expect to see and hear a lot of discussion on this topic on social media and among family and friends.

To equip you for that conversation, Ryan Anderson has a helpful, concise article titled “5 Things You Need to Know about the Supreme Court’s Marriage Cases.” It is not the “end-all” for this complex discussion but it will give you a place to start. Here are the five things he covers:

1. Courts Shouldn’t Redefine Marriage
2. President Obama and the Government of California Didn’t Do Their Duty [defending laws passed by citizens and legislators]
3. Telling the Truth About Marriage Matters for Policy
4. Redefining Marriage Would Have Bad Consequences
5. What You Can Do to Prepare for the Rulings

It’s a short, readable article with links to follow for more information (you can view a summary of the article as an infographic here). Post it, pass it on, and take a few minutes to learn from it so you can engage others today graciously and persuasively.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A Quick Guide to Family Worship

A Quick Guide to Family Worship - “Every Christian family ought to be as it were a little church.” –Jonathan Edwards

Evangelicals are beginning to rediscover the great blessing of family worship. Family worship is simply coming together as a family and worshiping God in the home. In the same way we come together for a time of corporate worship in the church, we also come together in the home for a time of family worship that involves prayer, reading Scripture, and singing songs.

You may be thinking your family is too busy, but in reality, are you?

This article provides simple steps for times of family worship. It doesn't have to be complicated. You'll be blessed.

Five Ways the Holy Spirit Works in the Life of a Believer

The Holy Spirit is often the forgotten member of the Trinity. This is a simple list of reminders of the key roles the Holy Spirit carries out in the lives of Christ-followers.

The Thrilling “Now” of Christian Mission

This is a good article on God's plan for the nations and where today's believers fit into God's sweeping plan. 

"Just think of it. The God of the universe focused his special revelation and redeeming work on one small ethnic people, Israel, for 2,000 years — from the calling of Abram in Genesis 12 to the coming of Christ. For all that time “he allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16).

Then at the entry of his Son into the world, all this changed.

As Jesus was leaving to return to heaven he said, “Repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in [my] name to all nations” (Luke 24:47). “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). This was a pivotal change in the history of the world."

14 Tips for Time Management

14 Tips for Time Management There's always room to get better at managing our time - because our time is our life.

Nature Deficit Disorder — Is Your Child at Risk?

Al Mohler writes in this essay - "Author Richard Louv believes that America’s children are now suffering from a syndrome he identifies as “nature-deficit disorder.” In his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods, Louv suggests that the current generation of American children knows the Discovery Channel better than their own backyards–and that this loss of contact with nature leads to impoverished lives and stunted imagination."

Monday, June 24, 2013

What Do Non-Christians Really Think of Us?

What Do Non-Christians Really Think of Us? This is a revealing article that shares the comments of a non-Christian regarding her interaction with Christians. Her views of Christians are probably more common than we want to believe. 

Why You Can't See Your Biggest Flaws

Why You Can't See Your Biggest Flaws This is a good article from Tim Keller, one of my favorite authors and speakers.

How Will the World Look in 2045?

If you are not a subscriber to Jim Denison's daily "news in spiritual perspective" you should be. Here's today's offering from Denison:

"The Global Futures 2045 Congress concluded recently in New York City.  Geneticists, technology entrepreneurs, inventors, and futurists gathered to discuss how the world will change over the next three decades.  Here's some of what they predict":

Sunday, June 23, 2013

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible

9 Things You Should Know About the Bible The primary thing everyone should know about the Bible is that, "All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness..." (2 Timothy 3:16). But here are an additional 9 things that you should know about the best-selling book of all time:

The Big Story of the Bible

The Big Story of the Bible - The Old Testament has intimidated and discouraged many would-be students of the Bible by its seemingly unapproachable presence. But there is a way to read the Old Testament, even Numbers and Leviticus, that will bless you and not send you away in despair...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Loving Muslims, While Rejecting Islam

For 20 years, Zane Pratt lived and ministered the Christian gospel among Muslims in Central Asia. He knows the religion well and is one of the foremost evangelical teachers on Islam. And perhaps the first thing he’d say to Christians about Muslims is, “Don’t be afraid.”

In beginning the discussion ofdifferences between Christians and Muslims he says, “We fundamentally disagree on essentially everything.” In less than 15 minutes, Pratt gives us a veritable “Islam 101” in this episode of Theology Refresh. In some ways it’s a straightforward and simple religion, he says, able to be summarized in six doctrines and five practices. He not only warns of misconceptions but highlights the importance of Christian intentionality and hospitality in seeking to extend the gospel to Muslims — whether in the U.S., the U.K., the Middle East, or elsewhere.

The End of Exodus International

The End of Exodus International - Last Wednesday, the Board of Directors of Exodus International reached a decision after a year of dialogue and prayer about the organization’s place in a changing culture. Exodus International, the oldest and largest Christian ministry dealing with faith and homosexuality is closing its doors after three-plus decades of ministry. 

This article provides links to several responses to this decision by Exodus International. 

God’s Gracious Path to Costly Obedience

Steve Fuller writes about the interactions of obedience, faith, and the promises of God.

Our God Has A Name

Our God Has a Name - Julian Freeman writes: “Our God is personal. He relates. Fundamental to his very existence is the reality that he exists as a person in community. From eternity past the Father has loved the Son (John 17:24). He is a personal, relational-covenant-keeping God. And because he is personal, he has a name. I think it might be time for us to familiarize ourselves with it again.”

Thursday, June 20, 2013

7 Marks of a False Teacher

Tim Challies writes: "No one enriches hell more than false teachers. No one finds greater joy in drawing people away from truth and leading them into error. False teachers have been present in every era of human history, they have always been a plague and have always been in the business of providing counterfeit truth. While their circumstances may change, their methods remain consistent."

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

20 Things You Need To STOP Doing…Right Now!

Most of us could find some personal applications in the list provided here by ministry and business leader Scott Williams:

1. Stop placing your job above your family.
2. Stop doubting yourself.
3. Stop believing the lies.
4. Stop settling for second best.
5. Stop procrastinating.
6. Stop making excuses.
7. Stop standing paralyzed in awe of the success of others.
8. Stop tippy-toeing on that line of sin.
9. Stop being consumed with what other people think.
10. Stop waiting until tomorrow to do the things you can do today.
11. Stop limiting your dreams. Dream BIG!
12. Stop treating people how you don’t want to be treated.
13. Stop worrying about what people think.
14. Stop being quiet when you know your supposed to speak up.
15. Stop trying to fit in, you were made to stand out.
16. Stop focusing on others. Look in the mirror!
17. Stop asking for permission.
18. Stop giving the least to those that matter the most.
19. Stop being scared of failure.

20. Stop saying “I Can’t!” – Remember: Can’t never could!

We are a Kanye

Odd Thomas writes, "Yesterday, Kanye West’s latest album Yeezus dropped with the third track titled, “I Am A God (Feat. God).” The song has already sparked reaction and has been likened to John Lennon’s remarks about the Beatles’ being “more popular than Jesus.” But maybe Kanye’s song is something we identify with more than we’d like to admit?"

FactChecker: Does College Cause Young Adults to Lose Their Faith?

FactChecker: Does College Cause Young Adults to Lose Their Faith? "Dedicated Christian parents work hard and pray diligently that their children will develop a strong and growing faith in their years at home. It's one of the most rewarding parts of parenting to watch this happen, and we want to make sure that faith continues to flourish as they leave our homes and go out into the world. That is why one of our greatest fears is that the secular university and its aggressively atheistic professors will lead our kids like away from the faith. Many Christian parents avoid secular schools for this very concern.

But do the years and experiences of college actually contribute to our young people losing or walking away from their faith? The answer - and the reasons for it - might surprise you..."

Free E-book from Covenant Eyes

Coming Clean - Coming Clean is a new, free e-book from Covenant Eyes that may be helpful to those who are engaged in the battle against pornography.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Top 16 Worship Music Typos

Top 16 Worship Music Typos Just for fun. Once you've finished Acuff's list, read on down through the examples people shared in the comments section.

Why Boldness Matters Now

Jonathan Parnell notes the boldness of Christ-followers in the book of Acts and then writes:

"This vision of Christian boldness — of speaking clearly about the identity and significance of Jesus — is increasingly relevant in the day in which we live. This is worth highlighting, and there are two reasons why. First, the pluralism around us means inevitable indoctrination. Second, the more we’re marginalized, the greater the risk is that what’s important will muffle what’s the most important."

Does The Bible Contain Errors?

While this article is brief and barely scratches the surface of the issue raised by its title, it is helpful for Bible believers in framing the discussion.

The author writes: "If God is real, and if the Bible is “God’s word,” there’s a lot at stake when it comes to its reliability. So is the Bible riddled with errors or is it a reliable revelation of God?"

A Prayer for Good Stewardship of Our Words

A Prayer for Good Stewardship of Our Words Scotty Smith with a good word on praying for the good use of our words.

Is There a Key to Godliness?

This article is an encouraging word from John Piper regarding our spiritual growth and progress in godliness. Piper writes:

"The point of this post is to remind us that “every Scripture is profitable for training in righteousness” so that we might be “complete, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16–17). Every verse is profitable. Thousands of them."

See the full article...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Vacation Season

I have lost the original source of this article. When I came across it today in my files, I decided to post it. What can we do to make summer vacation season count for ourselves and the Lord?

“A church leader once approached Vance Havner, a famous Baptist preacher, concerned that Dr. Havner was taking two months off that summer. “Don't you realize that the devil never takes a vacation?” The witty preacher replied, “Yes, but who, dear sir, wants to be like the devil?”

Jesus told His disciples, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mk. 6:31). We, too, must have regular rest, refreshment, and reflection if we hope to maximize our faithfulness and fruitfulness. I believe the right vacation offers a custom-made opportunity to experience these things.

The kind of vacation I'm talking about, however, is not one in which you spend a week frantically sprinting from one tourist attraction to the next; “Disneyland” vacations will not facilitate soul rest. But if you're willing to escape to a place where you have freedom to relax, a low-key vacation can accomplish these seven purposes.

1. Rest. Most of us need to slow down. Chronic exhaustion shortens our tempers, undermines our relationships, and increases the likelihood of bad decisions. A vacation can recharge our batteries, providing the physical and spiritual rest our bodies and souls crave.
2. Gratitude. Vacations can also foster thankfulness. After each phase of creation, God stopped and observed, “It is good” (Genesis 1). We can pause during vacation and recall the good things God has done. On my vacations, I write a “thankfulness list” to help me see all of the ways He has been at work.
3. Reflection. Restful vacations help us evaluate our priorities and commitments. Jesus frequently withdrew from the crowds to be alone with God and to pray (Mk. 1:35, Lk. 5:16). We also need to retreat from our routines to reflect on where we've been and where we're going.
4. Relationships. Vacations can renew our primary relationships with family and friends. Sometimes we need time away to get an objective perspective on how we're relating to the people closest to us. Then we can return to everyday life with our most important relationships in balance.
5. Grace. Vacations remind us that we live by grace. We may know that salvation comes from God's grace alone, but we often fall prey to the temptation to live by works. Slowing down can be uncomfortable for those of us who are works-oriented; we find it tough to receive God's love on days we don't accomplish anything more than a snooze in the shade. But we need these times to remember that our work is not the only thing that matters.
6. Refocusing. A break from our normal way of life offers us a chance to reacquaint ourselves with spiritual disciplines we've disregarded—or to initiate new ones. For example, my vacations have reignited a desire to journal. Perhaps yours will jump-start your Bible reading, intercessory prayer, or Scripture memorization.
7. Imitation. By taking a break, we follow God's example. He rested after six days of creative labor and instructed us to imitate Him (Ex. 20:8–11). The Sabbath commandment teaches us to rest from our normal routines before we return to the work God has given us.

A Boston travel agency attracts customers with the clever slogan “Please—Go Away.” If we want long-term spiritual health, I think this is sound advice. Regular, restful vacations clear the haze from our heads, provide fresh perspective on our priorities, and reenergize our passion for pursuing God.

9 Things You Should Know About Demography and Population Trends

9 Things You Should Know About Demography and Population Trends Former Florida governor Jeb Bush was recently criticized for claiming that immigrants are more "fertile" than native-born Americans (he's mostly right). Bush's statement, along with debates about immigration reform and the latest news from the Census Bureau, have brought an issue that many people are confused about -- demography -- into the national spotlight. Here are 9 thingsyou should know about demography and demographic trends.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Sanctifying Work of Parenthood

Christina Fox writes, "Many people describe marriage as the laboratory where our spiritual growth is fostered and developed. I find it to be equally true of parenting as well. God has used parenting in my life to refine and change me in ways I had not anticipated. He’s given me a child who requires more than I was trained to handle so that I would depend on him and not my own strength. I’ve also learned things about myself I never knew and have seen things in my heart I never wanted to see. I’ve come face to face with sins I didn’t know were buried deep inside, sins like impatience, selfishness, irritability, and discontent. While uncomfortable and sometimes downright painful, the sanctifying work of parenthood has been necessary and good."

God’s Mercy in Messed Up Families

Tomorrow is Sunday and I am sharing the story of Ruth. It's a story of a messed up family. In this article, Jon Bloom shares:

“Have you ever noticed how hard it is to find an example of what we would call a “healthy family” in the Bible? It’s a lot easier to find families with a lot of sin and a lot of pain than to find families with a lot of harmony. For example…”

Friday, June 14, 2013

I Hate / Love Being Busy

I Hate / Love Being Busy This article is a good balanced thought for busy people.

Responding To Criticism

Responding To Criticism — Bob Russell shares advice and biblical truth on dealing with criticism from the example of Nehemiah 4-6.

Seven Ways Fathers Provoke Their Children

7 Ways Fathers Provoke Their Children - Mark Driscoll shares, “The Bible tells fathers to do two things: bring children up in the ways of the Lord and do not provoke them. How can a father avoid provoking his child?” Here are 7 ways dads may provoke their children.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Psalm 25 and “My God Is…” List

This is a good devotional thought from Psalm 25 and a source of encouragement.

See the list...

The Answer to Every Christian’s Identity Struggle

The author of this article shares 42 truths from the first half of Ephesians. Introducing his list, Paul Tautges writes:

"As believers in Jesus Christ it is easy to lose our bearings when we forget who we are. This is every Christian’s identity crisis. The answer is for us to recognize the false identities that have robbed us of our joy, peace, contentment, and security and replace them with what is already true of us because of being united with Christ by faith."

Praying Terrifying Prayers

Praying Terrifying Prayers - Erik Raymond writes about those times when we need to pray terrifying well as some of the things that keep us from it.

Breaking Ties With Boy Scouts

Breaking Ties with the Boy Scouts – This article shares R.C. Sproul Jr’s answer to this question: “Should my family, or my church break ties with the Boy Scouts of America, given their decision to welcome openly homosexual scouts?”

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Twenty Urban Legends in Theology

Twenty Urban Legends in Theology — C. Michael Patton If you have spent any time at all in church, you have likely been confronted with one of items on the list. They are not all black and white. His presentation is not without challenges and the comments section below the article is interesting as well.

Ira Glass on How the Media Portrays Christians

Interesting thoughts from Jewish atheist Ira Glass, host of “This American Life”:

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The 7 Marks of Discipleship

The 7 Marks of Discipleship - This article by Lavern Brown asks the question, "Can you give a clear, concise and biblically accurate description of a disciple of Jesus?" It's not easy and his list is not the end-all for this question but we need to have a working definition. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

What Did Jesus Mean When He Said, "Judge Not?"

Judge Not - What did Jesus mean when he said “Judge Not?” I preached on this topic a few weeks ago and yet have heard the verse misquoted and misapplied several times since. I'm posting Sam Storms' answers to say it again. His comments include this  key statement:

"Jesus is not forbidding us from expressing our opinion on right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsity, can be demonstrated by noting two factors: the immediate context and the rest of the New Testament teaching on judging."

Persecution of Christians in Afghanistan

Persecution Update - Frontline Ministries has a persecution update from Afghanistan. Here’s how it begins: “Afghanistan ranks third among nations most severely opposed to the Cross. There are 48,000 mosques in the country—but not a single church building.”