Who Am I to Judge? The Pope, the Press, and the Predicament - Al Mohler comments on the Pope's recent statements during his South American tour regarding homosexuality. The article helps to bring clarity to what was said, what it means, and why it's complicated.
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
This is a video of our recent missions team doing a presentation at a local school in San Marcos. Programs like this open the door for ongoing ministry in the schools through the Schools for Christ discipleship materials. You should be able to recognize The Good Samaritan story even if you don't speak Spanish.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
The Top Missionary-Sending Country - “Gordon-Conwell’s Center for the Study of Global Christianity calculates that Christians sent out approximately 400,000 international missionaries in 2010. And nearly half of the world’s top missionary-sending countries are now located in the global South.” You’ll never guess which country sends the greatest number of missionaries by percentage of its Christian population.
Jim Denison writes, "Last weekend, Rick Warren preached his first sermon after his son's suicide four months ago. His message was the first in a series, "How To Get Through What You're Going Through." He said he had the perfect role model for his struggles: "God knows what it's like to lose a son." His message was clear: "Not for one second did God forsake my son. Not for one moment has God forsaken me."
I would encourage you to listen to Rick and Kay Warren's message from Sunday. You can access it at the Saddleback website here.
Monday, July 29, 2013
It has become increasingly common in our community to encounter people from other cultures, religions, and faith systems. It is wise to be prepared and informed about what others believe and how those beliefs differ from biblical Christianity. The following websites have proven helpful for me:
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry - This site contains a wealth of resources.
4 Truth - This site contains resources on various world religions as well as Christian denominations.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
These are all quotes recorded by Tony Morgan from The Global Leadership Summit 2012.
- “An organization is not truly great if it can’t be great without you.” –Jim Collins
- “Too often we argue about Christianity instead of marveling at Jesus.” –John Ortberg
- “Don’t just delegate tasks to the next generation. If you delegate tasks, you create followers. Instead delegate authority to create leaders.” –Craig Groeschel
- “You are the most difficult person you will ever lead.” –Bill Hybels
- “The signature of mediocrity is not unwillingness to change. The true signature of mediocrity is chronic inconsistency.” –Jim Collins
- “People need to be reminded more than they need to be instructed.” –Patrick Lencioni
- “When you are angry, you will make the best speech you will ever regret.” –William Ury
- “When you’re in a position of authority, you need truth-tellers around you.” –Condoleezza Rice
- “I failed him for two years because I was too chicken to have the difficult conversation.” –Bill Hybels
- “The morale failure of a leader will challenge the integrity of others as well.” –Mario Vega
You Asked: How Do I Talk to My Children About Their Grandparents I have encountered this issue with increasing frequency. This article provides practical helps for talking to your children about their grandparents.
Why Online Pornography is Being Blocked in the UK—and Why It Should Be in the U.S. Too - The Story: Most households in the UK will have pornography blocked by their internet provider unless they choose to receive it, the prime minister has announced.
Why Are There Bibles In Hotel Rooms? - You’ve probably heard of the Gideons and you’ve definitely seen their Bibles in hotels and other places along the traffic lanes of life. This article tells how they came to be and how those Bibles end up in hotel rooms.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
The Race Card and the Early Christians - by Derwin Gray and Frank Viola
"The Zimmerman trial and the tragedy that surrounds it has captured the world’s attention. Including that of the body of Christ. Media coverage has heightened passions on both ends. Conversations about race, law, injustice, prejudice, guns, etc. are all being argued and inflamed.
In this article, we don’t want to weigh in on the public debate. Instead, our passion is to encourage God’s people everywhere to transcend the debate that the world is holding on its own terms by seeing ethnicity through the eyes of our Lord. There is only one race, the human race, which is comprised of different ethnic groups (Acts 17:26).
We want you, dear Christian, to take your cue from the New Testament believers, for they can teach us a great deal about this subject."
How Many Hours Must a Pastor Work to Satisfy the Congregation? This post from Thom Rainer's blog reveals some of the struggle of seeking to meet expectations of others.
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
Religion in the American Family in the 1950s - Justin Taylor writes, “For the majority of us, our knowledge of the American family in the 1950s is almost entirely mediated through popular culture. It’s sometimes hard to understand how the idyllic home life of the Baby Boomers in the 1950s turned into the counter-cultural revolution of the 1960s, though if we know the economy of the gospel, we know that moralism is often the mother of licentiousness.”
Devoted for Life - Reading the stories of the heroes of Christian history can inspire and direct us in our own faith journeys. Tim Challies highlights the life of Adoniram Judson and shares some good reasons to read of such men.
10 Basic Facts About the NT Canon that Every Christian Should Memorize Every Christian should know these things to be able to defend attacks on the Bible. Each point has a link with further information.
Report: Americans Hold Opposing Views of What Religious Means - The Story: According to a new report, Americans are divided about what it means to be a religious person, with a majority believing that it's about acting morally but a strong minority equating it with faith.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Saturday, July 20, 2013
Thursday, July 18, 2013
The Most Frightening Prayer I Could Pray for My Children - Christina Fox shares a revealing thought as we consider how we pray for our children.
See the article...
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Can Life Have Meaning Without God? James Anderson writes, “One of my favorite Far Side cartoons depicts a hapless-looking man leaning over a couch and holding a bizarre contraption he has just pulled out from under one of the cushions. The caption reads: "Edgar finds his purpose."
Humans naturally seek purpose and meaning in life. From a Christian perspective, the oddity lies not in Edgar searching for his purpose, but rather in discovering it inside a couch. From an atheistic perspective, however, should Edgar have been searching for his purpose in the first place? Can our lives have any meaning if there is no God?”
Islam 101: 6 Beliefs, 5 Practices, 2 Types, 4 Resources Interested in Islam during Ramadan? Here's a quick reference guide.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
Is Your Gospel Missing Something? Hugh Whelchel writes, "The Bible opens with the creation of all things and ends with the renewal of all things. In between, it offers an interpretation of the meaning of all history.
One of the main reasons many Christians do not fully comprehend the biblical concepts of work, calling, and vocation is that we have lost the vision of this grand biblical narrative. The biblical narrative makes a comprehensive claim on all humanity, calling each one of us to find our place in God’s story."
Three Early Church Lessons for the Modern Church - Derwin Gray writes, "How did 120 Jewish followers in the first century turn into a multi-ethnic movement of over 33 million followers by 350 AD?
Immediately we know they preached the Gospel under the power of the Holy Spirit. This is a given. Sociologist and comparative religion professor, Dr. Rodney Stark in His book, The Rise of Christianity, outlines three things the early church did to bring about the greatest movement planet earth has ever seen.
I propose that as America becomes more post-Christian, the 3 things the early church did, are 3 things the church in America must do as well."
Monday, July 15, 2013
Jon Acuff wrote a book titled Start. This article gives a listing of some of the points Acuff makes. Here's the summary list:
- “Life is now less about how old you are and more about when you decide to live.”
- “Average is so popular because average is familiar.”
- “Waiting to find your purpose tomorrow is a great way to ensure you don’t live with purpose today.”
- “Luck is a word people who are lazy use to describe people who are hustling.”
- “They are the voices of fear and doubt, and they are governed by a simple truth: they only get loud when you do work that matters.”
- “Spend more time practicing your dream than you do promoting your dream.”
- “I think you need crazy expectations. You can’t dream without creating expectations, and they can be an encouraging source of motivation.”
- “People don’t like working with jerks. People don’t listen to jerks. People don’t do favors for jerks. Because people don’t want jerks to win.”
- “The truth is that if you’re married, awesome is a team sport.”
- “No one pursuing a life of average ever received a dire warning of failure from a family member.”
- “Helping other people better their lives is way more fun than obsessing about bettering your own.”
- “Action always beats intention.”
It’s time for you to start!
This article was first posted in 2011. I repeat it because like most false teaching that circulates in Christian circles, this one is circulating again...
If you tend to believe everything you read on the internet, often forward "shocking" emails or take anything you "see for yourself on YouTube" as truth, then this post will do nothing to dissuade you from believing that Pastor Rick Warren espouses "chrislam". On the other hand, if you tend to research rumors before you pass them on or try to find the truth about people before attacking them on the internet this post might help.
Jackie Hill provides a balanced and biblical answer to the question of responding to the recent Supreme Court decisions.
"On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court passed a pair of landmark decisions, declaring unconstitutional a law that blocked federal recognition of same-sex marriage and opening the way for same-sex marriage to resume in California. For many Christians who oppose same-sex marriage, the question is, how do I respond?"
Sunday, July 14, 2013
The Grace of God in the Old Testament - Even in its diversity, the Bible is tied together by the theme of God’s grace, and we can see this in every book of the Old Testament.
Saturday, July 13, 2013
Today is another hot July day in Texas. I went through my files looking for a good December thought and found this Christmas article. July is a good time to be reminded that Jesus didn't just come to create a Christmas story. He came for hot days in July too.
12 Reasons for Christmas - by Jonathan Parnell
12 Reasons for Christmas - by Jonathan Parnell
- “For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (John 18:37).
- “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8; cf. Hebrews 2:14–15).
- “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
- “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10).
- “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45).
- “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:5).
- “For God so loved the world that whoever believes on him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved” (John 3:16).
- “God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).
- “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).
- “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against . . . that the thoughts of many may be revealed” (Luke 2:34ff).
- “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).
- “Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarches, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:7–8; cf. John 12:27ff).
Friday, July 12, 2013
A.W. Tozer famously said that whatever comes to our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us. When you hear the mention of “God,” what would you say? What image fills your heart and head when you think about who God is?
The question is important because we all have some kind of answer. Everybody has a go-to thought when they think of God. And we want that picture to be true, that is, formed by what God says about himself, not the dictates of our experience.
Twelve Ways to Preserve Christian Unity - Satan hates God and therefore he hates God’s people, the church. His great plan for the church is to cause Christians—true believers who ought to be together in the gospel—to find ways of disagreeing among themselves, to divide, to be bitter and jealous, and ultimately to “bite and devour one another” (Gal. 5:15). Here are twelve ways that you can repulse Satan’s attacks.
(These twelve points are based on chapter 5 of Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices.)
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
How the West Really Lost God: An Interview with Mary Eberstadt In her latest book, How the West Really Lost God: A New Theory of Secularization, she seeks to answer the question “How and why has Christianity really come to decline in important parts of the West?”
This interview with Eberstadt provides some key insights into her findings.
The Four Points of Revival: Of the revival in Wales over 100 years ago it has been written:
“The turn of the twentieth century was marked by an unusual concern for spiritual matters. Believers throughout the world were moved to pray for revival. In November 1904, the Spirit of God began to stir in an extraordinary way in the hearts of believers throughout the Principality of Wales. What transpired over the next several months was nothing short of supernatural.
‘Bend the Church, and save the world!’ was the cry that rang out through villages and towns, in the churches, and in the hearts of men, women, children, and young people throughout all of Wales.
Monday, July 8, 2013
The author of this article writes, "Emily and I have been discussing the challenges of parenting a lot recently. Some of that discussion has been prompted by her reading The Price of Privilege by Madeline Levine. The book describes how parental pressure and relative affluence are leading adolescents to experience epidemic rates of depressions, anxiety disorders and substance abuse.
Based on highlights from the reading, here are…"
This article is written by missionaries to Africa. When we come to feel oppressed or discouraged this is a good reality check. "Middle Class America, I know your lives aren't perfect…But to whom much has been given, much will be expected."
5 Parenting Dangers to Avoid - “It is tempting to blame children for our family problems. But Scripture does not allow us to do this. Children bear the responsibility to obey their parents. But God commands parents to raise their children with godly nurture, being careful not to frustrate them. Inestimable damage is done by parents who provoke their children, and cause them to become discouraged.”
Friday, July 5, 2013
Where Was God? - “This question—where was God?—is so hard and so important. There is not one correct answer. What is both true and helpful for one person might seem hollow to the next. But we all must reckon with the question. If we haven't already asked it, we will. So how would you answer it? How have you answered it?”
Ed Welch provides clear direction from the story of Job.
Tim Challies shares, "Though Satan can never steal the Christian's crown, though he can never snatch him away from the hand of the Father, he is so envious and malicious that he will leave no stone unturned in robbing the Christian of comfort and peace, in making their life miserable, in giving them reason to live in constant sorrow and mourning, doubt and questioning."
Thomas Brooks once identified eight ways in which Satan keeps Christians--Christians like you!--in this sad, doubting, questioning, condition.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
I Don’t Stand with Wendy Davis From an excellent piece by Kirsten Powers:
It’s amazing what is considered heroism these days. A Texas legislator and her pink sneakers have been lionized for an eleventh-hour filibuster against a bill that would have made it illegal for mothers to abort babies past 20 weeks of pregnancy, except in the case of severe fetal abnormalities or to protect the life or health of the mother.
People actually cheered this.
Fourth of July Reflections on a Changing America - Reformation21 Blog Rick Phillips writes, "While our "two kingdoms" citizenship always warrants biblical reflection, the situation facing Christians in America today demands special wisdom and grace. Throughout our lifetime, there have been two competing Americas, one theistic and the other atheistic; one which more or less respects our Christian heritage and upholds general biblical values, and one which aggressively opposes biblical morality and a godly outlook on life."
See the full article...
As we anticipate our nation's birthday on July 4, I wanted to share the story behind the familiar "America", It was first sung July 4, 1832. The children's choir of Park street Congregational Church in Boston sang it at a Sunday school celebration.
See the full article...
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
The Surest Way to Promote God's Good Plan for Marriage - This article reflects on last week's Supreme Court decisions. Author Dan Doriani writes:
"In a vital way, nothing changes. Jesus is still our living Lord. As Russell Moore has said, the gospel doesn't need family values to flourish: "Real faith often thrives when it is in sharp contrast to the cultures around it. That's why the gospel rocketed out of the first-century from places such as Ephesus and Philippi and Corinth and Rome."
Timothy Paul Jones writes, "To have a biblical worldview is to interpret every aspect of our lives—including our relationships with children—within the framework of God’s story. At the center of God’s story stands this singular act: In Jesus Christ, God personally intersected human history and redeemed humanity at a particular time in a particular place. Yet this central act of redemption does not stand alone. It is bordered by God’s good creation and humanity’s fall into sin on the one hand and by the consummation of God’s kingdom on the other
This story of creation, fall and law, redemption, and consummation is the story that Christians have repeated to one another and to the world ever since Jesus ascended into the sky and sent his Spirit to dwell in his first followers’ lives. This age-old plot-line should frame every aspect of our lives—including how we treat and train children."
Monday, July 1, 2013
There is a ton of Bible translations to choose from that require near spy-like skills to decipher their acronyms. Today, Carl Dixon cuts through the confusion in this article. Because of difficulties with the original link, I have included the complete article in this post.
Translating the Bible
Have you ever wondered about the difficulties of translating the Bible?
The Bible was originally written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. Most of the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, parts of it in Aramaic, and the New Testament was produced in Koine Greek—a dialect which had a very short life span of about three centuries. Generally speaking, the biblical languages, as we see them presented in the Bible, remained stable for hundreds of years. That’s why we have a great deal of knowledge regarding these languages.
Going to the source
There are literally thousands of Greek and Hebrew manuscripts that scholars today can readily access due to the blessing of computer technology. When a new translation is produced, all of the available manuscripts are checked and rechecked.
There are those who say that some of the very old English translations come from better manuscripts than the newer ones we now possess. This is simply not true.
It is impossible to translate the Bible literally and have it make sense in English. While it is true that the King James Version (KJV) was a very good translation in its day and very accurate to the available Greek manuscripts, the new English Standard Version (ESV), for instance, takes advantage of those manuscripts, along with centuries of scholarship derived from the investigation of these as well as more recently discovered manuscripts. I have read accounts of personal attacks on some of the modern scholars on translation committees of various Bible versions, but these attacks are irrelevant unless someone can prove they subverted the meaning of the underlying biblical language. The personal life circumstances of a particular translator, or even his beliefs, are not immediately significant unless it can be proven he specifically intended to translate the text inaccurately. These modern translations are often the work of a large group of scholars, who check each other’s work. Even after the translation is published, scholars from all sides are free to check the work for accuracy—and they do!
Building a bridge with words between yesterday to today
It is impossible to translate the Bible literally and have it to make sense in English. The biblical languages are governed by different rules of grammar and can even lack punctuation. Thus, if we were to take a supposed equivalent and translate it woodenly, it might not make any sense. There might not even be an English equivalent: maybe two or three English words might be needed to translate just one Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic word. So, as you can see, translating requires careful scholarship and the ability to discern the right English words to adequately reflect every nuance contained in the Bible.
Translators even have to take into consideration how certain English words might be understood where the translation is produced. In America, a word can have completely different meanings depending on which part of the country you’re saying it in. For instance, some people can drink ”pop,” while others can choose to hang out with their ”Pop” while having a soda.
There are no “perfect” or “God ordained” translations.
The same is true internationally speaking. Consider the following sentence: “I am mad about my flat.” If I were saying this in America, you might think I was upset over my bike’s flat tire. But if my wife Valerie said the same thing while traveling in Scotland or London, you would hear her raving about her apartment.
Can you see how difficult it could be to translate the Bible literally?
To provide an example, here is a literal translation I produced on John 3:16 that preserves the Greek word order:
So for loved God the world that the Son his only he gave that whoever believes in him not should perish but have life eternal.
Now, if we’re familiar with the verse, we could probably see the meaning. But here’s another verse:
John 8:33, author’s translation
They answered to him seed Abraham we are and to no one we have been under bondage ever how you say free?
John 8:33, NIV
They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
One of my favorite examples of translating literally from one language to another is found in the biblical phrase, The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. A computer translating the Russian literally ended up with this: The vodka was fine but the meat was weak. Imagine a Bible translated completely literally. It would probably be so cumbersome to read that sooner or later we’d give up in frustration.
Trying to hit a moving target
Another problem comes with diachronic changes, or changes that occur in a language over time. I recently decided to read through an early edition of the KJV—a very good translation first published in 1611—but gave up after one month of daily reading, the reason being I had spent a lot of time looking up unfamiliar words, only to discover that they had been made completely obsolete.
Here again is John 3:16, this time according to the KJV published in 1611. I assure you there is no spelling error. For God so loued ye world, that he gaue his only begotten Sonne: that whosoeuer beleeueth in him, should not perish, but haue euerlasting life. Aren’t you glad that even the venerable KJV has been vastly retranslated over the centuries?!
Why it’s good to sample from a variety
There is also the controversy over political correctness. For example, the Today’s New International Version (TNIV) has been cancelled by Zondervan Publishing because of the many complaints over the translation of Greek words such as adelphos, which means “brother.” (The translators translated the word “brother and sister” almost every time it appeared in the Bible, and inevitably they were correct some of the time and wrong at others.)
Read the Bible daily and ask God the Holy Spirit to help you understand the message he has for you.
The problem here is that our English language has changed. For example, the word ‘man’ or ‘mankind’ has now been changed to ‘humankind’ or ‘men and women’ rather than just man meaning both in the new NIV.
I understand the difficulty some of us experience with these changes. To my ear ‘humankind’ actually sounds silly. But that is not the case for those who have been raised with that word rather than ‘mankind.’ So I can choose to use a translation that maintains ‘man’ and ‘mankind’ but I must realize that the language does change and we should all desire to communicate as accurately as possible to our present culture.
This goes to show you don’t need to stick to just one version. I often point out failures in the new—not to mention trusted—New International Version (NIV) translation I preach from. After all, there are no “perfect” or “God ordained” translations: they all contain mistakes, but hopefully none are significant enough to cause us to stray from the important doctrines of faith. When I study, I read the passages in at least a dozen translations, in addition to referring to the original languages.
So, use the NIV, KJV, or ESV. Or, if you’d prefer, the New American Standard Bible (NASB), the New King James Version (NKJV), the New Living Translation (NLT), or the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). Read the Bible daily and ask God the Holy Spirit to help you understand the message he has for you.
The author writes, "I’ve seen great benefits in praying Scripture over my children, not as a chant to ward off the boogeyman or as a positive affirmation, but as a profoundly fruitful process that trains them to know that God is good and that his word is true, eternal, and extremely practical. As my children grow, I want them to know that when they can’t form their own words into prayers, the Bible will guide them. I want my kids to understand that God’s word is powerful and nourishing, and a lamp to their feet (Ps. 119:105)."
How can you begin to pray Scripture over your children? Here are some specific examples to introduce at varying life stages.
Tim Challies writes, "Few of the hymns I have covered in this series were written in connection to particular events that occurred in their authors’ lives. “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” is an exception as it was composed in the aftermath of the untimely death of the author’s beloved friend."
Thinking About Money - Seth Godin has been thinking about money and offers a few, helpful bullet points. Here’s a sample: “In our culture, making more money feels like winning, and winning feels like the point.”