Author Archives: Brother

With Denomination on the Edge of Apostasy, Methodist Pastor Makes Big LGBT Push

You remember Frank Schaefer, the Methodist pastor whose ministerial credentials were yanked in 2013 after he presided over his son’s gay wedding.

Now he’s back with a vengeance, even as the Methodist church continues to debate over same-sex marriage. In May, 15 United Methodist clergy candidates came out as “lesbian, gay, bisexual and queer” members of the New York Conference.

“While I understand that I risk my standing in The United Methodist Church with this public step, I do so following the way of Jesus,” said Lea Matthews, director of ministry operations at St. Paul and St. Andrew, who will be commissioned as a deacon in June. “I do not walk this path alone. I am surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, made up of my fellow signers, our brave allies in this conference and my church family at SPSA, who offer prayerful support. I sign in solidarity with those on the letter, and acknowledge that there are many others across the denomination who are not as fortunate as we are here in the New York Annual Conference.”

In an open letter released May 3, two boards of ordained ministry challenged others to allow many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people to answer “their call into ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church.” Rev. Charles A. Parker for Baltimore-Washington and the Rev. William B. Pfohl for the New York Conference jointly signed the letter.

The next nine days will see the Methodists make some vital decisions about where the denomination goes from here on hot-button issues. Schaefer is fueling the fire with a new documentary called An Act of Love. Here’s part of this story:

“At the beginning of his career, Schaefer had no intention of getting involved in the controversy over gay marriage in the church. However, several years into Frank’s ministry at a small church in Pennsylvania, his eldest son, Tim, began to quietly struggle with his sexual orientation. Amid fear of rejection from his church and his family, Tim became withdrawn and teetered on the verge of suicide.

“Once the Schaefers assured their son that they accepted and loved him regardless of his sexual orientation, a new fear arose—what would Frank’s congregation in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, think? Tim never felt comfortable in Lebanon, so he moved to Boston for college in an effort to live in a more progressive area. It was in Boston where he met his future husband. After college, they were married in a private service in Massachusetts, where Frank officiated. The Schaefers knew that having Frank officiate Tim’s wedding was a risk to his career, but they figured, since it was a private family affair, that it wouldn’t ruffle any feathers.”

Although Schaefer was defrocked, he started a six-month speaking tour in churches and landed on several national TV shows. An Act of Love follows Schaefer and his family on that journey to change the Methodist church’s long stand for traditional marriage from the inside out. It’s called propaganda, folks, that’s working to destroy the third-largest denomination in the United States.

If we’re going to condone the practice of homosexuality, what’s stopping us from allowing pastors to commit adultery without rebuke? Why not let drunken revilers lead kids church? Why not give greedy thieves and extortioners the responsibility for church finances? The point is, practicing homosexuality is not the only sin the Bible calls out in this verse, as so many gay rights activists like to stress. So why does the sinful practice of homosexuality, then, get special protection?

If we’re going to let our pastors engage in homosexuality at will, condone it and have the audacity to declare that it doesn’t contradict God’s will, what’s preventing us from throwing the Ten Commandments out of the window? Why bother to have natural laws against crime, either? What’s the point? The point is we all have to answer to God.

Too many Christians are lovers of themselves instead of lovers of the truth. A strong delusion is sweeping over the land—a tsunami of perversion is rising—and some in the church are falling into its trap. Our response is clear: Continue to speak the truth in love, guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, and refuse to compromise with an anti-Christ agenda. Always keep in mind, a little leaven leavens the whole lump (Gal. 5:9).

The urgency that’s in my heart is painful at this point. People who started out loving God with all their hearts, all their minds, all their souls and all their strength are giving into seducing spirits. Practicing sinners, in clear defiance of God’s Word, are leading churches in the name of Jesus. We need to pray. We need to make intercession like never before. Lives depend on it. Christians are falling away at a rapid clip. We can’t just stand by and point fingers of disdain and watch. Join me in crying out that a wave of repentance will sweep the church—and the nation. Just pray.

Jennifer LeClaire

Source: http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/watchman-on-the-wall/57083-with-denomination-on-the-edge-of-apostasy-methodist-pastor-makes-big-lgbt-push?utm_source=Charisma%20News%20Daily&utm_medium=email&utm_content=subscriber_id:651523&utm_campaign=CNO%20daily%20-%202016-05-12

 

4 Steps to Giving a Death Blow to Your Nagging Sins

“Here are four strategies for maintaining vigilance in the fight.”

The Bible portrays sin as a powerful, ever-vigilant enemy. Sin deceives (Genesis 3:13), desires (Genesis 4:7), destroys (Genesis 6:7). Even forgiven sin within the Christian is powerfully active, waging war (Romans 7:23), lusting (Galatians 5:17), enticing (James 1:14), entangling (Hebrews 12:1).

Many Christians struggle with “nagging sins”—those entrenched, persistent, difficult-to-dislodge sins that continually entangle us in our efforts to follow Christ. Sometimes we struggle for decades, with bouts of backsliding and despair recurring. Most godly Christians, who have made true progress in their pursuit of holiness, can sing with feeling “prone to wander, Lord I feel it,” or share the lament of Augustine: “I have learned to love you too late!”

The gospel gives us hope that all sin, even nagging sins, can be both forgiven and subdued. But because sin has such persistence and power, we must be vigilant in our struggle against it. As John Owen puts it, “If sin be subtle, watchful, strong and always at work in the business of killing our souls, and we be slothful, negligent, foolish … can we expect a comfortable event?”

Here are four strategies for maintaining vigilance in the fight, drawn from John Owen, and particularly in relation to a nagging, persistent sin—that kind that keeps on tripping us up and entangling us in its grip.

1. Hate it.

We are accustomed to using the gospel to relieve the guilt of our sin. But sometimes—especially in the case of persistent, nagging sins—we should use the gospel first to aggravate our guilt. John Owen puts this challenge quite vividly:

Bring thy lust to the gospel, not for relief, but for further conviction of its guilt. Look on him whom thou hast pierced, and be in bitterness. Say to thy soul, “What have I done? What love, what mercy, what blood, what grace, have I despised and trampled on! … Have I obtained a view of God’s fatherly countenance that I might behold his face and provoke him to his face?”

If we do not feel the magnitude of our sin, if we are not gripped by its stench and grossness, if we pass over it lightly with glib affirmations of grace—we will probably never get around to the serious vigilance required for killing it. Truly subduing it requires properly grieving it.

This is particularly so with nagging sins. Nagging sins are those we are most likely to become numb to, and therefore we have to work extra hard to continually re-sensitize our consciences to them in light of the gospel, saying things like:

• This impatience is part of what Christ had to bear on the cross.

• This worldly ambition would lead me to hell, but for the grace of God.

• This lingering resentment grieves the Holy Spirit within me.

Often this means really slowing down and really examining our hearts. In a lesser-known passage in his Surprised by Joy, C.S. Lewis, reflecting on the distinction between enjoyment and contemplation, observes that “the surest means of disarming an anger or a lust (is) to turn your attention from the girl or the insult and start examining the passion itself.” Defeating nagging sins often requires this uncomfortable, honest reflection and acknowledgement on what the sin is doing within us.

Nagging sins can survive our annoyance and mild dislike. Only hatred will fuel the needed effort.

2. Starve it.

In one of my favorite films, a man is diagnosed with schizophrenia and told that several of his lifelong friends are actually not real. He genuinely misses talking to them, but knows he must stamp out all delusions in order to move toward health. So he simply chooses to ignore them, calling it a “diet of the mind”—and as he does, they gradually recede in their influence over him. Even at the end of his life, he still sees the delusions, but they have lost their destructive power over him.

There is a similar principle at work in our struggle against sin—the more we indulge in it, the more of a grip it gains over us (even while we understand that grip less and less). But, as with any addiction or animal, the less we feed it, the weaker it becomes. “Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). Choose not to acknowledge your sinful desires—starve them of your affections and your attention, and they grow weaker.

One of the most important principles involved in this starvation process is to act quickly: Don’t let sin get even the smallest step. Don’t say, “I will give in this much, but not that much.” That never works. As John Owen puts it: “Dost thou find thy corruption to begin to entangle thy thoughts? Rise up with all thy strength against it, with no less indignation than if it had fully accomplished what it aims at.”

3. Corner it.

Sin, like any other enemy, thrives among its allies (unhappiness, exhaustion and discouragement are some that come to mind). To wage effective war against sin, therefore, we must deprive it of the opportunities and occasions it makes use of. John Owen is helpful once again:

Consider what ways, what companies, what opportunities, what studies, what businesses, what conditions, have at any time given, or do usually give, advantages to your distempers, and set yourself heedfully against them all. Men will do this with respect unto their bodily infirmities and distempers. The seasons, the diet, the air that have proved offensive shall be avoided. Are the things of the soul of less importance? Know that he that dares to dally with occasions of sin will dare to sin. He that will venture upon temptations unto wickedness will venture upon wickedness.

This means we need to study the particular triggers of sin in our lives. It could be a geographical location (like a bar if you’re a recovering alcoholic), but I find it’s more commonly emotions and unhealthy habits that we need to avoid. Lust is greatly weakened when it cannot appeal to fatigue, emotional need, loneliness and shame. It’s more difficult to succumb to envy when you’re soaking your heart in your heavenly inheritance. Sinful anger often melts away when you are spending time with exceptionally kind, forgiving people.

In short, an effective fight against a nagging sin will often involve thoughtful consideration to your sleep, exercise, diet, emotional life and relationships.

4. Overwhelm it.

In the gospel, God has given us the resources that we need to deal with nagging sins. Let me just mention three: patience, pardon and power. The gospel means that God has “perfect patience” (1 Timothy 1:16) for us even amidst our struggles with nagging sins. To truly kill a nagging sin, we need to know that God has not given up on us. Even when we have lost patience with ourselves, he is still there, like the Prodigal’s loving father, calling us back to obedience and joy.

The gospel also means that God pardons our nagging sins. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). Only when we see our nagging sins through the gospel—as right now, before it is subdued, already forgiven in God’s sight—will we make true progress against them. As William Romaine wisely wrote, “no sin can be crucified either in heart or life unless it first be pardoned in conscience. … If it be not mortified in its guilt, it cannot be subdued in its power.”

Finally, the gospel means that God provides us with power, that we might overcome nagging sins (2 Timothy 1:7). His Spirit gives us strength beyond ourselves with which to fight, and his all-satisfying presence gives us the promise of a superior, lasting joy. However strong our nagging sins may feel, it is truly possible in Christ to “not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). As John Owen counsels us:

Set faith at work on Christ for the killing of thy sin. His blood is the great sovereign remedy for sin-sick souls. Live in this, and thou wilt die a conqueror. Yea, thou wilt, through the good providence of God, live to see thy lust dead at thy feet.
Gavin Ortlund

Gavin Ortlund (@gavinortlund) is a husband, father, associate pastor at Sierra Madre Congregational Church, and PhD candidate at Fuller Theological Seminary.

Memory as Ministry in the Age of Alzheimer’s

Biblical ministry is not limited to the ordained ministry. Based on the “priesthood of believers,” all Christians are called to minister.

Marketplace ministry, social justice and charitable work are examples of such ministries. But have you heard of a ministry called “memory?”

It appears that there is a legitimate ministry that can be called “remembering.” In this age of great concern about the increasing number of people being afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease, which profoundly affects memory, I consider this a sobering revelation.

The Bible speaks much about God and man in relation to memory and remembrance. God remembers His covenant (Ex. 6:5). He does not remember our forgiven sins (Is. 43:25), but remembers righteous individuals—both men and women. Noah, Abraham and Hannah are examples.

We are told not to forget God’s dealings with us, but to remember them, and to pass on the memory to a new generation (Deut. 11:19). Israel was instructed not to forget that they were slaves in Egypt (Deut. 16: 12), and to remember the Sabbath (Ex. 20:8). The psalmist instructs us not to forget “all His benefits” (Ps. 34:2).

Memory is at the heart of Christian theology. The undisputed instruction of Jesus on the night in which He was betrayed was to “do this in remembrance of me.” The ordinances of the most independent faith groups are built on remembrance! Noticeably, theologian Henri Nouwen defined ministry as being a living reminder of Jesus.

Memory is a matter of great interest and special concern to Saint Paul. He tells us to remember Jesus (2 Tim. 2: 8). He instructs further: Remember the poor (Gal. 2:10); “Remember my chains,” (Col. 4:18). The author of Hebrews adds: “Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering” (Heb. 13:3). “Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you” (Heb. 13:7).

In Paul’s writings, the ministry of memory is strongly related to prayer. “We remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith” (1 Thess. 1:3). “I constantly remember you in my prayers” (2 Tim. 1:3). “I thank my God every time I remember you” (Phil. 1:3). “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:16). “I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers” (Philem. 1:4).

What a powerful ministry! Anyone with the ability to remember can do this ministry. There are no geographical limitations! Words may not even be needed for this ministry. Believers of all nations, tribes and tongues can engage in this ministry of memory and remembrance, a ministry in which we connect our memory of each other to God.

The ministry of memory is not only about those who are living. Certainly, the leaders we are expected to remember according to Hebrews 13:7 are not all alive. Some have finished their course and have gone to be with the Lord. They don’t need our prayers, only our grateful memory.

As a person raised in a pastor’s home in South India, I remember people outside my family who have touched my life in profound ways. Some of them are alive, others have finished their race. A Hindu woman was forced to give up her eyes to follow Jesus. A retired teacher found time to teach me English hymns. Church members shared their modest means with their pastor’s kid. Preachers let me carry their Bibles. Classmates left an imprint on my life. The list is long.

A young cancer patient I visited three decades ago is also on my list. I was a chaplain at the City of Faith Hospital in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then. The patient was a born-again Christian who had no family members to visit her. Her mother and grandmother had died from the same disease, her father was dead, and she had no siblings. She lived alone and kept her sickness a secret as long as she could, due to fear. According to the doctors, the prognosis was not good because by the time she came to the hospital, the disease had progressed significantly.

One day she asked me during a pastoral visit, “I have no family left. I don’t know how long I will live. Can I ask you for a favor?” Thinking that she would ask for some practical help, I said, “Of course, what can I do for you?” She asked, “Would you remember me once I am gone?” Moved by her unexpected request, I said, “Certainly. I will remember you.” She thanked me.

I have seen many answers to prayers. I have witnessed both instant and gradual healings, but this was not the case with the young cancer patient. She passed away the following night.

There are times when all you can give others is your prayers and your memory! Sometimes God answers the prayers immediately. Other times, the answers come slowly. In some cases, the answer is not what one expects. In any case, we must pray, and we must remember.

The threat of Alzheimer’s disease reminds us that memory is a gift. How wonderful it would be if all of us could use this gift as a means of ministry!

Thomson K. Mathew, D.Min., Ed.D., is professor of pastoral care and dean of the College of Theology and Ministry at Oral Roberts University, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Source: http://www.charismamag.com/life/health/26287-memory-as-ministry-in-the-age-of-alzheimer-s

Prince a Christian?

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Dear Mr. Barger, The world is really sick. I remember you wrote a great book back in the 1990s about rock music. I have a link I’m sharing with you regarding how they claim Prince was a conservative Christian!?!

Link to Washington Post article here.

They supply lyrics to boot. I know you’re a busy man, and I pray for your wife and you. I’m very glad your eye is OK.

Could you please comment on the article, or send me a link to something you’ve written that counters these lies. A lady I know was gushing about how “Christian” he was, so any info you could give me would be greatly appreciated!

In Christ,

John

Eric’s Response

Hi John,

Thank you for your kind comments. I appreciate the encouragement.

You are correct that the world is sick and getting worse. Jesus is the medicine but they have rejected what could heal them.

The Washington Post story you linked me to is so offensive and fraught with issues that it might take me a while to dig through its problems. It’s just another example of how the secular world doesn’t know what Christianity really is, confusing it with cultic theology, and then using any opportunity to just bash anyone they perceive are Christians, framing believers and others in such a way as to say that we have no values different from theirs. As we are seeing so often, many in the culture relish the opportunity to express that in effect, “Christians are just like the secular world.”

Regarding Prince, he was not a Christian. That is abundantly clear and it’s not just the opinion of one. He was a practicing Jehovah’s Witness. Remember: the JW’s do not believe in a triune God, nor do they believe that Jesus is God incarnate. One can sincerely believe in “a Jesus” until they are blue in the face, but if it’s one of the many false Jesuses being taught by cults and world religions (see II Cor. 11:3-4), then that person is still lost for eternity without salvation and without God.

Here is just one source on Prince. He confirmed that he was a JW during at 2009 interview with TV host Tavis Smiley.

When Prince told Smiley that he didn’t vote in political elections, the singer explained saying, “The reason why is that I’m one of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and we’ve never voted. That’s not to say I don’t think … President Obama is a very smart individual and he seems like he means well. Prophecy is what we all have to go by now.”

A Christian Post article goes on to say, “In another 2009 interview, Prince told People, ‘My mother told me one day I walked in to her and said, ‘Mom, I’m not going to be sick anymore,’ and she said, ‘Why?’ and I said ‘Because an angel told me so.'” (Read source here)

For anyone who believes in any kind of supreme being, it is in our human nature to hope someone who passes on is safe on the other side. People make statements about an individual who has died “being in a better place.” Yet the truth is that if the deceased was not an authentic born again Christian they are surely NOT in a better place but quite the opposite. Our culture – and astoundingly much of the perceived Christian world – has adopted a catastrophically false line of thinking that treat bliss in the afterlife is somehow a foregone conclusion for every person. I believe our failure to refute and correct this fallacy are eternally detrimental to everyone involved. Usually, based on whether we liked someone or were related to them or various other reasons, people all around us within the church setting give the world the distinct impression that talent, charm, family ties, or other factors somehow play into an individual’s eternal condition. Our silence, probably fostered through the fear of what people might think of us for being so narrow and “non-inclusive,” strengthens and allows this myth to be repeated and spread without even a mention of the reason and purpose of the Cross. While we don’t have to necessarily declare the departed being discussed as “in hell,” we surely need to warn the living that there is only one way any of us can escape it and that’s through the blood of the Lamb of God.

This issue is not just about God’s final judgment and the reality of hell. The pressure of the culture and our human desire not to be viewed as “narrow” have led some identifying themselves as Evangelicals to fall into the trap of become fuzzy or noncommittal about the path to Heaven as well. This is apparent as universalism has steadily become more accepted, justified, and form-fitted into Christianity. This has transpired because those who’ve fashioned their own theology about death – instead of God’s – are allowed to go on unchallenged. Our human hopes, which in this area could be called “self deception,” along with the popular unbiblical teaching that portrays God only as a “God of love” in the New Testament, lead us to believe He couldn’t really be serious about final judgment. The problem with this notion is that, if God is not also a God of justice, then whoever the deity being referred to is could not be the God of the Bible. If God’s love negates His justice, then Jesus died a needless and horrific death and we humans can just pick our own route and our own terms by which to have fellowship and eternity with whomever we perceive is God. The awful failure of believing that God is going to save everybody automatically or that particular individuals are given special treatment based on who we see them as (great humanitarians, social workers, even musicians, etc.) is biblically inaccurate. One simply has to ignore vast amounts of the Bible to arrive at this conclusion. This common misconception is once again our human hopes and fallen nature at work that says, “If I’m just good enough, then God will accept me based on my own righteousness.” In Prince’s case, we can’t even say his works were overwhelmingly good. Instead, the opposite is true, according to Scripture. People are trying to preach him into Heaven based on his talent, charm, or mystique. He may have been an excellent, even prolific musician as far as the culture around us is concerned, but can we say he was righteous because he lived a sold-out life dedicated to the Jesus of the Bible? I think not.

Since mankind’s fall into sin recorded in Genesis 3, man has been separated from God and is due the justice and punishment of that rebellion. However, God showed His supreme love for mankind when He sent His Son, Jesus, to be the propitiation, or substitute, for our sins. It is, as Prince once tried to sing about, at the Cross where judgment met love. However, God’s salvation comes with the price of repentance on our behalf. Now it is our individual choice to accept God’s free gift of salvation through Jesus’ once-for-all redemption for our sins or to reject it by continuing on our own path.

Now, we should recognize that God can and will eternally save whoever calls out to Him by faith, but the doorway is solely Jesus, not the Watchtower, the LDS Church, Buddha, Vishnu, or our good intentions, etc. There is but ONE way to salvation. So, based on his own testimony of being a Jehovah’s Witness, and the Watchtower’s own failed and counterfeit plan of salvation, trying to fit Prince into authentic, biblical salvation is just so much wishful thinking and ignorance about God’s precise plan and how to enjoy its intended eternal benefits for us. It’s true that we don’t know what may have happened in Prince’s last weeks, days, hours, or even seconds on earth. But one very rarely has an instantaneous reverse epiphany about the false teaching they have followed for years. Thus, Christians and others who try to talk or rationalize Prince “into Heaven” are exercising wishful thinking not based in biblical truths. People won’t want to hear that, but the facts don’t change just because we want them to.

I could go back through what I wrote here and attach Scripture after Scripture to what I said. For the sake of time I won’t do that now but anyone the least bit versed in the Bible can do so. Hope that helps, my friend.

Bless you as you contend for the faith and present the hope and love of God’s plan as the alternative to the coming judgment awaiting all who reject the Savior.

Eric
Take A Stand! Ministries
www.ericbarger.com

Website Crosses 5000 Page Milestone

Today, the site crosses the 5,000 page mark with the addition of the first few chapters of The Story of the Seer of Patmos. The book of Revelation pronounces a blessing upon everyone who “reads” or even “hears” it read. Yet, many treat it as a mysterious book that should not be read and cannot be understood. S. N. Haskell has opened the book of Revelation up in an easily read style that explains it and its relation to our day. This book, originally printed in 1905, makes an excellent study book for young and old.

Link: http://www.crcbermuda.com/reference/online-books/the-story-of-the-seer-of-patmos

 

How Reading Can Transform Your Health

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“As weird as it sounds, reading “War and Peace” put me back in control of my life—and that’s why it’s my favourite book.”

In How Changing Your Reading Habits Can Transform Your Health, Michael Grothaus says, “Reading doesn’t just improve your knowledge, it can help fight depression, make you more confident, empathetic and a better decision-maker.”

Grothaus’ life was in a rut … until he read War and Peace. Its 1,500 pages took him two months to conquer and immediately became his favourite book because of how it changed him. “It’s almost impossible to explain why,” he says “but after reading it I felt more confident in myself, less uncertain about my future. … As weird as it sounds, reading War and Peace put me back in control of my life—and that’s why it’s my favourite book.”

But Grothaus’ further research into reading revealed that such a transformation through reading wasn’t weird but ‘the norm for people who read a lot—and one of the main benefits of reading that most people don’t know about.” What else did he discover?

  • Reading for pleasure can help prevent conditions such as stress, depression and dementia.
  • Reading can offer richer, broader and more complex models of experience, which enable people to view their own lives from a refreshed perspective and with renewed understanding.
  • Reading about other characters and situations helps you to look at life’s challenges from a renewed perspective.
  • People who read find it easier to make decisions, plan and prioritise, because they are more able to recognise that difficulty and setback are unavoidable aspects of human life.
  • People who read for pleasure regularly report fewer feelings of stress and depression than non-readers.
  • Being more engaged with reading, along with other hobbies, is associated with a lower subsequent risk of incidents of dementia.
  • People who read books regularly are on average more satisfied with life, happier and more likely to feel that the things they do in life are worthwhile.
  • Despite reading being a solitary experience, research shows that reading improves empathy and increases social support.
  • A recent survey of 1,500 adult readers found that 76 percent of them said that reading improves their life and helps to make them feel good.

Grothaus goes on to give four tips on how to overcome obstacles to reading in our distracted and over-committed lives (see here).

But if reading secular books can have such life-transforming benefit, how much more will a wide range of good spiritual books transform our lives and even our eternity.

“From childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

David Murray

Dr. David Murray is Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Seminary. He is also Pastor of Grand Rapids Free Reformed Church. David is the author of Christians get depressed too, How Sermons Work, and Jesus on Every Page. You can read his blog at HeadHeartHand.org/blog or follow him on Twitter @davidpmurray. David is married to Shona and they have five children ranging from 4 months to 17 years old, and they love camping, fishing, boating, and skiing in the Lake Michigan area.More from David Murray or visit David at http://headhearthand.org/blog/

Source: http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/259456-reading-can-transform-health.html

10 Traits of a Real Man

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The picture of “real” our culture paints for men is just as ridiculous as the picture of the perfect body for women.

What does a real man look like in 2014? Think about the definition our culture gives to us. Look at the movies. Read the magazines. Listen to the music. What are the constants? I see three … muscles, money and women. A real man is tough. He doesn’t show emotions. He can handle his own business. A real man has money. Who cares if he blows it on trinkets? The point is he has it. A real man has women. You can’t be a real man and not have a girl.

But what if our culture is feeding us a lie? What if our culture is grossly misleading us when it comes to the nature of a real man? Our high schools, colleges, workplaces and homes are filled with men that are trying to be legitimate. The problem is we are looking for legitimacy from a culture that changes daily … hourly. A culture that is predicated on promiscuity. Infatuated with the almighty dollar. One day our culture tells us to dress one way. The next day it is completely different.

The picture of “real” our culture paints for men is just as ridiculous as the picture of the perfect body for women. It is a facade. Smoke and mirrors. We must wade through all the charades and cultural stigmas. It is a lot of wading. But once we dig below the surface, something different is exposed. Something divorced from the cultural nonsense. Something grounded in the Truth and not a perceived one. Something … real.

Here are 10 traits of a real man in today’s culture.

1.) A real man always treats people with respect.

A real man doesn’t trash talk or bad mouth other people. “But Frank, what about my teacher at school? Or what about my boss at work? They deserve everything they are getting from me and others.” Right … so tell me again what you deserve for all the awful things you have done to others? See … a real man finds no value in tearing down other people. He realises these people are not much different from himself. He also realises God is not glorified in the tearing down of others.

2.) A real man honours his wife and friends.

I grew up in an environment where wives were not honoured. I was around too many people who used outings to the bar, the golf course or the hunting camp as opportunities to talk about their wives’ failures and downfalls. They would also throw in the failures of their friends for good measure. But show me a man who builds up his wife and friends … and I will show you a real man. Why? A man who honours his wife and friends can only do so because he is confident in himself.

Men, when was the last time you complimented your wife in front of others? When was the last time you made her feel important? A real man makes a habit of honouring and building up his wife and friends.

3.) A real man never leads women on.

Guys, let me be real with you. If you date girls just to have a girl or you want sex … if you have no intentions on a legitimate relationship … you are a coward. That’s direct, yes. But it’s true. It’s real. If this is you, stop it. End the relationship. A real man respects the feelings and dignity of women. He does not see women as objects to fulfil his desires. He does not date because having a girl is fun or expected. There is intentionality behind his relationships. A real man gets this.

4.) A real man works hard, but never chases a paycheck.

Laziness is plaguing our country … no doubt. But the pursuit of a paycheck is also plaguing our country. A real man is not lazy. He works hard. But a real man also never allows the almighty dollar to be the purpose for his hard work. A real man works hard because he works for the Lord. The pursuit of a paycheck is turning men from husbands and fathers into distant figures whose lives have no greater purpose than to lust after a large number in a bank account. How ridiculous. A real man doesn’t get caught up in the lies of our culture.

This allows him to work hard while working. But this also allows him to rest hard, play hard, be present as a father and husband, and nurture his relationship with God. Make no mistake. Pursuing a paycheck at the expense of a family and God doesn’t create a real man … it creates a wasted life.

5.) A real man never allows hobbies to be more important than marriage and family.

I love golf. I would play every day if I could. But I also have two kids and a wife. I have a full-time job. I go to school. I have a blog. There are 24 hours in a day. Something must go to the back burner. A real man understands that “something” is not his wife and kids, his job, or his relationship with God. There are seasons of life where your golf game, fishing, hunting or fill in the blank are going to take a hit. Hobbies are just that … hobbies. They are extra. On the side. A real man never sacrifices quality time with family or God to nurture a hobby.

6.) A real man values purity.

I just returned from a trip to Las Vegas. My first trip to Las Vegas. Wow. The insatiable drive for sex and money was indescribable. It was everywhere. Women wearing next to nothing begging for the attention of those around. Billboards. Shows. Sensuality and the objectification of women (and men) were impossible to ignore. We live in a sex-crazed world.

A real man doesn’t use this as a crutch to feed his sexual appetites. He values purity in his thoughts, conversations and relationships.

For much of my life, I struggled to keep my mind pure. I thought it was just natural. Lusting. Pornography. Those are just normal for guys. Boys will be boys, right? Wrong. Now that I am on the other side, I see that God’s intention for my life is not for my mind to be filled with lust. It’s not God’s intention for your life either. Lust is sin. A real man takes the steps necessary to keep his mind and actions pure. Purity is a virtue. It is something God values. A real man pursues it.

7.) A real man is in control of himself.

If someone else can force you to react, you are not in control of yourself. Write that down. So, if another person’s actions force your hand … someone else is in control of you. That’s dangerous. A real man is not controlled by emotions. He is not controlled by others. Despite the lies of the world, this is true strength. Strength that comes from within. Strength that comes from God. Self-control breeds a life with less regret and more stability. A real man values self-control.

8.) A real man finds his strength in the Lord.

A real man doesn’t look to the world for his identity, sense of worth and strength. He draws strength from the Lord. God is the only source of lasting strength, and a real man acknowledges this reality. He then uses this strength to lead his family, run his business and interact with his peers at school in a way that glorifies God. Go ahead and look to other sources for strength, identity, and sense of worth. But don’t be surprised when you find the ride exhausting and the goal unattainable. Riding cultural waves is dangerous … especially when you don’t know when the next wave is coming. Real men don’t ride waves.

9.) A real man celebrates the successes of others.

If you can’t celebrate the successes of the people around you something is wrong. It’s toxic. This dog-eat-dog cloud that hangs over our culture is a lie. A real man celebrates with his friends, wife and co-workers when something positive happens in their life. He is only able to do this because the successes of other people have no effect on who he is. A real man is confident in his own abilities and talents, so he is in a position to celebrate with others. A real man works hard, competes hard, but is able to shake the hand of the other team if he loses. He can tell his co-workers congratulations when they get a promotion … and mean it. He can celebrate with his spouse when she excels at her job. Who cares if she makes more money or has a more important title? A real man isn’t in competition with his friends and spouse.

There is more than one seat at the table of life. Pull up a chair and let others sit down.

10.) A real man is just as honest when no one is around as he is when the world is watching.

Consistent. This word, maybe above any other, describes a real man. His relationship with God. His treatment of others. His actions and thoughts. Consistent.

A real man is honest and ethical. Doesn’t matter how big or small the decision might be. Doesn’t matter if no one is watching. Doesn’t matter if no one will ever know the outcome of his decision. A real man doesn’t cheat. He doesn’t cut corners. He doesn’t make unethical business decisions.

Here is why. A real man doesn’t live for others or for the cares of this world … he lives for God. You see, a man who operates one way when no one is around and another when the world is watching does so for one reason … he is more concerned with the world than God. He is too concerned with the approval of others. Too concerned with the cares of this world. Saving money. Preserving a reputation. Being accepted. These are reasons to be unethical and dishonest.

A real man doesn’t sacrifice honesty on the altar of acceptability and approval. Even if honesty and integrity cost him a job, money or a grade on a test. He won’t compromise. He is consistent. He is dedicated … to the Lord.

Source: http://www.churchleaders.com/outreach-missions/outreach-missions-articles/276065-10-traits-of-a-real-man.html?mkt_tok=3RkMMJWWfF9wsRouuqrBZKXonjHpfsX%2B6u4tUKa1h4kz2EFye%2BLIHETpodcMRcdlPa%2BTFAwTG5toziV8R7DEJM1u2dkQXhXh

Are Bible Translators Making the Scriptures More Acceptable to Appease Muslims?

What should Christians do when they find that the gospel of Jesus Christ, or certain aspects of it, may cause offense to those to whom it is preached? One approach is to stick to delivering the Bible message without compromise, knowing that this approach is the only way to ensure a genuine choice between the truth and falsehood.

Another alternative would be to water down the message in order to make it palatable to its audience even at the cost of distorting and misrepresenting central doctrines of the true gospel such as the divine nature of Jesus, His virgin birth, His place in the Holy Trinity and how He was able to become incarnate as both the Son of God and the Son of man.

Such is the dilemma reportedly being faced by some Bible translators today.

Billy Hallowell of The Blaze recently reported that Wycliffe Associates (WA), a group based in Orlando, Florida, has announced that it would not be renewing its affiliation with Wycliffe Global Alliance (WGA), an international cohort of more than 100 translators that was formed back in 1991.

Bruce Smith, president of Wycliffe Associates, told staff and the public via a press release that there are a number of reasons why the translator has chosen to split from the group.

The first reason is the ongoing debate over the language used to describe Jesus and God. For Wycliffe Associates, literal translation of Father and Son of God is not negotiable, said Smith.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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Church of England Rocked by ‘Deeply Disturbing’ Sex Abuse Report

The Church of England has been rocked by an independent report that found major failures within the church body when it comes to dealing with child sex abuse cases, prompting Anglican leaders to promise to implement changes.

“I was horrified to hear and read of the abuse suffered by the survivor in this case. It has clearly devastated his life. I apologize profusely for the failings of the Church towards him, and for the horrific abuse he suffered,” the Bishop of Crediton, Sarah Mullally, responded to news of the Elliott Review on Tuesday.

“It has taken him years of heartache and distress to get his story heard and believed by those in authority and it is clear he has been failed in many ways over a long period of time. We should have been swifter to listen, to believe and to act. This report is deeply uncomfortable for the Church of England.”

Ian Elliott, the safeguarding expert who released the report, detailed the “deeply disturbing” failure of three bishops and a senior clergyman later ordained as a bishop to protect a survivor from abuse for almost four decades.

The Guardian reported on the case of the survivor, identified only as “Joe,” who as a 15-year-old was subjected to a “sadistic” assault in 1976 by a leading church figure.

Joe reportedly made numerous disclosures about the abuse to several CofE officials for a period of almost 40 years, but later the same senior figures claimed they had no memory of such conversations.

“What is surprising about this is that [Joe] would be speaking about a serious and sadistic sexual assault allegedly perpetrated by a senior member of the hierarchy. The fact that these conversations could be forgotten about is hard to accept,” the report states.

Mullally further said that Justin Welby, the Archbishop of Canterbury, thinks “the situation is embarrassing and uncomfortable for the church.”

The Bishop of Crediton added about Joe: “I can only begin to imagine what it has cost him. We owe it to him and other survivors to get this right. This should never have happened.”

Joe, who responded to the report, revealed that CofE officials told him that not much can be done about officials who claim they have “no recollection” of the abuse he talked to them about, though he said he rejects such excuses.

He said that the church “has run out of time, but let’s hope they take ownership of painful questions and really show a willingness to change their culture and make their structure safe for survivors. I hope Welby is now wide awake.”

The Rt Revd. Paul Butler, Bishop of Durham, vowed that the Church will take the recommendations of the report very seriously, and will seek to implement changes.

“As a church we will be offering full cooperation and are committed to working in an open and transparent way, with a survivor-informed response,” Butler said in a statement.

“The true cost of child abuse and the abuse of adults at risk is far higher than any of us have ever been prepared to acknowledge in terms of the mental, emotional, social and physical health and well-being of very large numbers of our population,” he added.

Source: http://www.christianpost.com/news/church-of-england-rocked-by-deeply-disturbing-sex-abuse-report-159294/

Supreme Court Weighs Why Abortion Clinics Are Closing at Record Rates

Supreme Court Weighs Why Abortion Clinics Are Closing at Record RatesDelcia Lopez / AP/The Monitor

The first abortion case to reach the US Supreme Court in nearly a decade stands to impact the fate of most clinics in Texas—and possibly clinics in states with similar restrictions that have led to years of record closures.

Opening arguments begin Wednesday for Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, a challenge to a 2013 Texas law requiring clinics to adhere to stricter medical standards. It passed the same year as Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s life sentence for grisly practices uncovered at his Philadelphia office.

“The central purpose of the law in Texas and other states is to protect the health of women, and pro-lifers should see that as critical,” said Clarke Forsythe, senior counsel at Americans United for Life.

The case reflects recent shifts in pro-life activism, including a greater emphasis onwomen’s voices, leadership, and wellbeing. While abortion opponents remain concerned with the life of the unborn baby, they also highlight the physical and emotional risks posed to its mother. The women rising in the pro-life movement since the ‘90s “actually believed pretty deeply that abortion hurts women,” law professor Mary Ziegler told The Washington Post for its examination of how the nation’s highest court will test this new strategy.

Texas’s law insists that doctors performing abortions have patient-admitting privileges for nearby hospitals in case of emergencies, as well as that the facilities meet the same building codes as other outpatient surgical clinics. These requirements proved too costly or logistically impossible for all but 8 of the Lone Star State’s 40 clinics, about half of which have closed already, Reuters reports.

In the past five years, more than 150 US abortion providers shut down; America’s abortion rate dropped to its lowest since Roe v. Wade, and in both the most pro-choice and most pro-life states; and states passed more than 300 new restrictions on abortions. Bloomberg notes that five states have just one abortion clinic left. This dramatic pro-life wave followed the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold a partial-birth abortion ban in 2007, the last time it ruled on the issue.

That Gonzales v. Carhart ruling paved the way for states to propose abortion restrictions of their own without much concern that they would be struck down by the court, said Forsythe. A decision in favor of Texas would send a similar message; clinics in Louisiana are pushing to wait to see what the justices say before their state enacts its own version of the Texas law. Across the country, 8 other states have introduced similar restrictions, and 23 states signed a brief sent to the Supreme Court in support of the regulations.

This case will be one of the first high-profile issues to be heard following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last month, which leaves an even number on the court. The most likely outcome—a 4–4 tie—would defer to the lower court’s ruling in favor of Texas, “but it would not send a nationwide signal” about abortion policy, Forsythe said.

Justice Anthony Kennedy is left as the deciding vote. The New York Times reportsthat the case has amassed hundreds of personal abortion testimonies filed within supporting briefs, including personal stories from lawyers who say their abortions changed the course of their lives for the better, and a statement signed by thousands of women who say they suffered decades of “trauma and emotional injury” as a result.

Pro-choice activists, along with medical professionals including the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, have sided against the Texas law. They state that abortion is consistently a safe and complication-free procedure; therefore, state regulations are really efforts to force these providers to close—placing an “undue burden” on women seeking abortions.

“We shouldn’t be surprised that the abortion rights lobby fights legislation that creates accountability for surgeons and clinics. The abortion industry has always operated at the expense of women and families,” said Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. “My prayer is that the Supreme Court will act in defense of the lives of women and the unborn in empowering states to cut through the political armor of the abortion industry.”

Presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio signed onto the congressional brief filed on behalf of the Texas law, and both have released statements in support.

CT previously noted the record clinic closures, and examined why 50 may be the best the pro-life movement can hope for. CT also noted how January’s March for Life was the most “catholic” one yet.