For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)
Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason answers the question. He explains why “we should never read just one Bible verse to understand it’s true meaning and purpose. We need to read the context.”
According to Philip Wegmann of The Daily Signal:
On the campaign trail in 2008, Barack Obama promised to fundamentally transform the United States of America. After nearly eight years as president, he has delivered on one front by reshaping the federal judiciary.
That revolution has been comprehensive, dramatic, and under the radar.
When Obama entered the Oval Office, liberal judges controlled just one of the 13 circuits of the U.S. Court of Appeals. Fifty-five successful presidential nominations later, liberal majorities now control nine of those appeals benches, or 70 percent.
Outside of legal circles the transformation of the influential federal appeals courts has gone largely unnoticed, though.
Eric Davis of The Cripplegate has written a thought provoking piece for spiritual leaders who sometimes experience “the dark guest within.” Davis offers 5 reasons why our church leaders may go through times of sorrow. Sorrow is almost inherent to the ministry, says Davis who pastors a church in Jackson Hole, WY. In part 2 he addresses the reasons that often lie behind sorrow experienced in the ministry, considers some of them, and then draws conclusions.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” (Psalm 42:5).
These are not the words of a spiritual infant. They are not the cries of a neophyte believer. This was a spiritual leader, involved in the daily ministry of the word of God to the people of God. Even so, his struggles with sorrow are deep.
It’s no secret: spiritual leaders can battle with depression. The more pastors I talk to, the more common this seems. I’ve worked jobs from lumber mills to heavy construction to engineering to research labs, and I have never encountered sorrow in those like the pastorate. Pastors, if you struggle with sorrow, chances are, things are pretty normal. Christians, chances are, your pastor has, or will have, bouts with soul-sorrow. It’s just normal.
And we need to avoid parochial conclusions when it comes to battles with sorrow. The presence of depression does not always mean the presence of raging sin. Strong saving faith and deep discouragement are often found in the same soul. Ed Welch has rightly said, “It is a myth that faith is always smiling. The truth is that faith often feels like the very ordinary process of dragging one foot in front of the other because we are conscious of God” (Depression: A Stubborn Darkness, 31). Jeremiah had his bouts (Jer. 9:1-2, Lam. 3:48). Elijah probably did too (1 Kings 19:4). Though Paul always rejoiced, he was also sorrowful (2 Cor. 6:10). The great apostle even experienced “great sorrow and unceasing grief” (Rom. 9:2). And Jesus was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3). Likely he could have been diagnosed with clinical depression by the standards of our modern psychiatrists. Charles Spurgeon said, “No sin is necessarily connected with sorrow of heart, for Jesus Christ our Lord once said, ‘My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death.’ There was no sin in him, and consequently none in his deep depression.”
Christian News Network has a quote from Mike Gendron of Proclaiming the Gospel Ministries that some folks will find hard to believe. Nevertheless, what Gendron says is true:
Mother Teresa did not believe or proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. She encouraged Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists to be better Hindus, Muslims and Buddhists. She never pointed people to Christ as the only savior, mediator and redeemer. Instead she taught a bizarre ‘pseudo-pantheism’ in which she believed Jesus was present in everyone.
In her piece for Christian News, Heather Clark reveals a whole lot more about the controversial Catholic nun:
Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, also known as “Mother Teresa,” was declared a venerated saint on Sunday after she met the Vatican’s requirement of being credited with the purported healing of two people through what Roman Catholics believe is her intercession in death.
“[A]fter due deliberation and frequent prayer for divine assistance, and having sought the counsel of many of our brother bishops, we declare and define Blessed Teresa of Calcutta to be a saint, and we enroll her among the saints, decreeing that she is to be venerated as such by the whole church,” Jorge Bergoglio, also known as Pope Francis, declared at the Vatican before an estimated crowd of 120,000 people on Sunday.
Take a look at CRN’s research paper on Roman Catholicism
In this piece over at Answers In Genesis, Dr. Tommy Mitchell asks: Are Christians unscientific? Is it brainwashing to teach children the truth about God and the Bible? What exactly is brainwashing anyway? Dr. Mitchell explains:
Have you ever been told that your children are Christians only because you brainwashed them? Have you been accused of keeping your children from understanding “real” science by brainwashing them with the Bible?
Educators and other “experts” who embrace evolution declare that children taught to reject an evolutionary worldview will never understand the world around them. Many say that such children will be academic failures. Children will grow up to be unproductive citizens of the modern world, these experts warn, if they do not accept molecules-to-man evolution over millions of years as fact.
Secularists often claim that children who reject evolution have been “brainwashed.” Is this really true? Are some children being brainwashed? If so, is it Bible-believing Christians who are doing the brainwashing?
Professing Christians are not reading their bibles as much as they used to — and some Christians don’t read it at all. Beth Stolicker of Mission Network makes a good case as to why Christians must read and memorize Scripture. As Christians “we need to be able to recall full Scriptures, the redemption story, and the Bible’s full frame. That’s hard to do if Christians are only familiar with a few verses here and there.” Stolicker offers tips to engage with God’s Word:
When was the last time you picked up your Bible and spent time reading more than a couple of verses? If it’s been a while, you’re not alone.
An unfamiliar crisis
Today, the average American adult’s attention span lasts for about 12 minutes. But, this isn’t a long enough time to really suck the marrow of life from Scripture’s bones. Chief Executive Officer at Biblica, Carl Moeller shares some insight.
“Christians, just like others in the culture, don’t read as much as they used to. And, this is a real crisis when we as evangelical Christians base our faith on the teachings of God’s Word,” Moeller explains.
“If we’re not reading God’s Word, it’s going to be very difficult for us to understand what He wants from us and how He wants us to live.”
There are Christians living without religious freedom, striving to memorize entire books of the Bible. Yet, some of us with religious freedom struggle to open ours. As Western Christians, have we lost, to some extent, what it means to live for Christ? To seek Him above all things in the midst of our busy, rushing, stressful days? Have we become a Martha instead of a Mary?
CRN has warned you about Calvary Chapel rock star Greg Laurie for quite some time (here). Many other discernment bloggers have alerted the evangelical community as well. In a piece over at Pulpit & Pen, Jeff Maples offers numerous reasons why Bible believing Christians must flee from the so-called evangelist. According to Maples, “With Greg Laurie, it isn’t about sound doctrine and a solid Gospel message that saves–it’s about “filling the stadiums with youth” to “bring about revival.” It’s a numbers game. It’s about “uniting denominations” into a single, watered-down, inoffensive, ear-tickling, man-pleasing entertaining religion of harmonious solidarity.” Maples continues:
Greg Laurie has been a prominent figure in Christendom for quite some time. He is the senior pastor of Harvest Christian Fellowship in Riverside, CA, one of the largest churches in America. Many have touted him as being the next Billy Graham. In the likeness of Billy Graham’s crusades, Laurie has invested endless efforts in his Harvest Crusades since the early 1990’s, reaching audiences in the hundreds of thousands at every event. Laurie’s popular style of watered-down preaching and making the adulterated Word of God more palatable to the world has helped his empire grow tremendously, and transform Laurie into a celebrity.
Albert Mohler, president of Baptist Theological Seminary responds to David Gushee, a “progressive evangelical” who penned a piece for Religion News Service arguing that the “middleground” is disappearing on LGBT rights. Recently we posted Professor Denny Burk’s response entitled “The Disappearing ‘Middleground’ and the Coming Conflict” which you will find here. Not surprisingly, Gushee’s article caused quite a stir in the evangelical community. Shortly thereafter Gushee took on his critics, Dr. Mohler being one of the most prominent. In the blog post he wrote he reveals the following:
When those on the receiving end of Gushee’s stern advice complained about both the tone and the substance of his essay, he responded with a second essay in which he offered this analogy: “I was saying: ‘Watch out, I notice that volcano over there is smoking ominously, and if it erupts, hot molten lava will wash over you.’ I was not saying: ‘I hope that the volcano erupts, and hot molten lava washes over you.'”
He was merely describing and predicting, he insisted, not at all prescribing what should happen. But there is a big problem with that defense. The language and framing that he deploys in both of his articles (and in his recent book projects as well) clearly imply that conservative Christians are a menace to the cause he champions. He has described evangelical Christians as the last major hold-outs on the road to full LGBT equality, and he claims to be a full convert to the LGBT cause. (emphasis added)
Later in the article Dr. Mohler declares: “Professor Gushee’s warning has been both delivered and received. His words clarify where we stand, and I agree that the earth is shaking under our feet.”
We urge you to read Dr. Mohler’s piece in its entirety and then share it far and wide.
Lynn Wardle, writer for CNSNews, warns: “When marriage is de-valued or marginalized all of society is at risk. When families are weakened, our entire society, our freedoms, our prosperity, and our way of life also are endangered.” Wardle writes:
It is not unlikely that future scholars of social history will identify the public policy controversies in the United States concerning the legal meaning of marriage as the defining social issue for this generation of Americans. Certainly, it has been one of the most, if not the most, divisive, contentious, and fervently debated issues in America during the first sixteen years of the twenty-first century.
Supporters of the legalization of so-called same-sex “marriage” will note that by the time the Supreme Court of the United States decreed in June 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. __, 135 S.Ct. 2584 (2015), that all American states (and, by clear implication, the federal government as well) must permit and recognize same-sex marriage, same-sex couples already could marry in more than two-thirds of the states.
What Jeff Maples of Pulpit & Pen describes as “the hurricane of heresy and panoply of prevarication” known as Code Orange Revival is baaaack. A few years ago Ken Silva referred to COR as a devival of “Seeker Driven/attractional people-pleasing” event with “celebrity preachers, loud worship music and subsequent emotional highs.” Now we learn that COR will return to prophet-preacher Steven Furtick’s Elevation Church. Maples has the story:
Remember a few years ago when Matt Chandler rained on Steven Furtick’s parade? It was at Elevation Church’s 2012 Code Orange Revival. Chandler was invited as a guest speaker at, well, except for Chandler himself, this perfidious event adorned with scripture-twisting fabricators of false glory. Furtick, who is well known for reading himself into a biblical text, yet only in places where he clearly doesn’t belong, it appears, has cleaned his hands of anyone willing to challenge his false theology of what our friend Chris Rosebrough calls “narcigesis” (narcissistic eisegesis). We’re not sure why Chandler was ever invited in the first place, though it could be due to his charismatic leanings. But we’re sure of one thing–he won’t be invited back.
Fast forward four years later. The hurricane of heresy and panoply of prevarication in 2016 will be painful, to say the least, to anyone with any sense of biblical discernment, and love for God. The ten-day event will end with a two-day female festival of falseness that includes well-known charlatan and purveyor of “another gospel,” Joyce Meyer, and Word of Faith pastrix out of Hillsong, Australia, Christine Caine. Other speakers include Craig Groeschel, Louie Giglio, Carl Lentz, Dharius Daniels, John Gray, Levi Lusko, and of course, Elevation Church’s very own swindler of diabolical debauchery, Steven Furtick.
Holly Pevic of Spirit of Error examines the Passion Translation which has been selling well. Has the author of this Bible been given new, divine revelation? Does he have special authority and insight to translate the Bible and to reveal new Scripture? Definitely not, says Pevic. Following are her reasons not to purchase this so-called Bible:
I’ve written a series of posts about Brian Simmons because I consider his new “translation” of the Bible, the Passion Translation, to be one of the most dangerous developments in the New Apostolic Reformation(NAR).
I recently ran across a television interview Simmons did last year on “Sid’s Roth’s It’s Supernatural,” where he makes a number of startling statements about his so-called translation–statements showing just how dangerous it is. I’ve highlighted some of those statements below, but before I list them, I want to be clear: this new translation of the Bible is not something that’s on the radical fringes of the NAR. It’s been endorsed by some of the movement’s most influential apostles and prophets, including Bill Johnson (of Bethel Church in Redding, Calif.), Che Ahn (formerly of HRock Church in Pasadena, Calif.), and James Goll (Encounters Network). And it’s selling very well. It needs to be on your radar. And if you know anyone who’s thinking about using it, warn them to run. I’ll show you why.
According to Charles Sykes of The Daily Signal, “a survey sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1989 found that a majority of college seniors would flunk even a basic test on Western cultural and historical literacy: 25 percent could not distinguish between the thoughts of Karl Marx and the United States Constitution (or between the words of Winston Churchill and those of Joseph Stalin), 58 percent did not know Shakespeare wrote ‘The Tempest,’ and 42 percent could not place the Civil War in the correct half-century” So with this in mind the question we must ask ourselves, says Sykes, “is no longer whether students have learned specific bodies of knowledge; it is whether they are learning anything at all.” He writes:
Let’s concede at the outset that many students find their college years enlightening and enriching. But something is rotten in the state of academia, and it is increasingly hard not to notice.
There once was a time when employers could be reasonably certain that college graduates had a basic sense of the world and, as a minimum, could write a coherent business letter. That is simply no longer the case, as some academic leaders appear ready to admit.
Harvard’s former president, Derek Bok, mildly broke ranks with the academic cheerleaders when he noted that, for all their many benefits, colleges and universities “accomplish far less for their students than they should.” Too many graduates, he admitted, leave school with the coveted and expensive credential “without being able to write well enough to satisfy employers … [or] reason clearly or perform competently in analyzing complex, nontechnical problems.”
David Roach of Baptist Press examines The Disney Company’s move away from Judeo-Christian religious practices to secular and even idolatrous practices. According to Roach, portrayals of marriage and gender roles have changed. Because Disney children’s entertainment “contain elements that seem likely to influence children away from Christian doctrine and morality,” should parents not allow their children to watch Disney movies and shows? Roach writes:
In anticipation of watching Disney’s “Finding Dory” with my children in the theater this summer, I pulled up the trailer on my phone and noticed what appeared to be a scene featuring a lesbian couple with a baby.
The scene passes quickly, and co-director Andrew Stanton told USA Today the two animated women, who caused a significant internet stir, “can be whatever you want them to be.”
Still, viewing that scene — and other moments in the Disney movies my daughters love — has reminded me of Southern Baptists’ wisdom in 2005 when they pledged in conjunction with ending an eight-year Disney boycott “to continue to monitor the products and policies of The Disney Company.”
Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, tells us that “David Gushee has written a column for Religion News Service arguing that the “middleground” is disappearing on LGBT rights.”
Before we get to Burk’s excellent piece, readers should know that David Gushee is a “progressive evangelical” who serves on Sojourners’ board of directors. Sojourners founder, Jim Wallis, is one of President Obama’s “spiritual advisers.” Wallis insists that he’s an evangelical Christian even though he has abandoned the biblical gospel for the “social gospel.” According to Wikipedia:
As a Christian ethicist, Gushee has periodically been out spoken about current controversial societal topics. His positions on such issues as climate change, torture, and LGBT rights have often put him into conflict with his traditional evangelical constituency.
Many evangelicals believe that because of his support of left-wing causes, Gushee is not a true evangelical. For one thing, he “agrees with the sexual revolutionaries that traditional Christians are guilty of invidious discrimination.”
Keeping in mind Gushee’s background, let’s hear what Professor Burk has to say on what he sees as the inescapable persecution of Christians who stand fast for the Truth. Burk informs us that the very liberal Gushee wrote the following warning intended for Bible believing Christians:
Warren Throckmorton of Patheos fills us in on what disgraced “pastor” Mark Driscoll is up to these days. Throckmorton demonstrates how Driscoll plans to “monetize his sermons.” He writes:
Yesterday, Mark Driscoll continued his Jonah sermon series at The Trinity Church in Scottsdale AZ. The series is interesting and has provides some additional tidbits of information for those interested in the implosion of Mars Hill Church. I will get to that in future posts. For now, I want to point out a new innovation for The Trinity Church, or at least it seems different than how Mars Hill did it.
Yesterday, Driscoll exhorted his new flock to “worship God with our wallet, we’ll give unto the Lord so that the message of Jesus goes forth.” Watch:
Bud Ahlheim of Pulpit & Pen addresses the list of bestselling “Christian” books. Ahlheim reminds us that “authentic believers must inject biblically-commanded discernment into every area of life. And in no area is it more demanded, perhaps, than the reading of so-called “Christian” books.” He writes:
I haven’t looked at the “Christian Bestsellers” list, as compiled by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, in quite some time. I made the mistake of doing so this morning.
You can find the list HERE. Just be warned, if you practice discernment (as you should, 1 Thessalonians 5:21) and have concern for the right handling of God’s Word, you may need to brace yourself for the onset of righteously indignant angst. It’s that bad.
The Daily Signal reports:
Consumers in 19 states will see increases to their health insurance rates, most in the double digits, for 2017, according to publicly available data filed with state insurance regulators.
Since June, insurance companies have been submitting proposed rate requests to state departments of insurance for the 2017 plan year. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also has to approve rates for insurers selling on Obamacare’s exchanges.
States are now in the process of reviewing those requests and ultimately deciding whether to approve or alter the insurers’ proposals for next year.
The Daily Signal has a piece by economist Walter Williams informing us that our hard earned tax dollars have been paying for some ludicrous courses as you can see from the headline. Williams writes:
Georgetown University offers “Philosophy and Star Trek”
As the fall semester begins, parents, students, taxpayers, and donors should be made aware of official college practices that should disgust us all.
Hampshire College will offer some of its students what the school euphemistically calls “identity-based housing.” That’s segregated housing for students who—because of their race, culture, gender, or sexual orientation—have “historically experienced oppression.”
I’d bet the rent money that Hampshire College will not offer Jewish, Irish, Polish, Chinese, or Catholic students segregated housing. Because there is no group of people who have not faced oppression, Hampshire College is guilty of religious and ethnic discrimination in its housing segregation policy.
University of Connecticut administrators think more black men will graduate if they spend more time together. According to Campus Reform, they are building a new residence hall to facilitate just that.
According to Jeff Maples of Pulpit & Pen, Steven Furtick’s wife, Holly, has taken to the Elevation Church stage to “twist Scripture, and lead people to a rightful misunderstanding of God’s Word.” Maples writes:
For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. – 1 Corinthians 14:33-35
I’m not sure what’s so difficult to understand about this passage. I didn’t write it. The Apostle Paul wrote it. Historically, Southern Baptists believe that all Scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim 3:16)–that is, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. So if you have a problem with it, take it up with your Creator.
We recently posted part 1 of a piece by Professor Denny Burk where he tackled the intersex condition called 5-ARD that affects male sexual development. At the Olympic games an athlete with the testosterone level of a man competed as a woman and won the gold medal in the 800m. In part 2 Burk explains how Christians can deal with sexual development issues biblically and with compassion. He writes:
Yesterday, we looked at a controversy about an Olympic athlete who is reported to suffer from an intersex condition. Today, we acknowledge that from a Christian perspective, there are larger issues for us to consider than the male and female divisions of Olympic competition. Cases like this one raise questions about the givenness of the male-female binary. Christians have always affirmed the teaching of Genesis 1:27, which says
“And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.”
Jesus himself reaffirmed the givenness of this binary in his remarks on divorce in Matthew 19:4. This distinction between male and female underlies the very fabric of biblical anthropology. It is no small point to the Christian faith.
Listen to how Dr. R.C. Sproul answers this question:
We have to be careful not to be guilty of what Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for—what I call the Red Sky Syndrome. If you recall, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they had an ability to predict the weather. They could look at the sky, and if it was red at night, they would say, “Sailor’s delight.” And if it was red in the morning, they would say, “Sailors take warning.” But they missed the signs of the times, and they missed the first advent of Christ. They missed the coming of the Messiah right in their midst in spite of the fact that a host of biblical prophecies heralded the appearance of Jesus on the scene—and Jesus rebuked them for it.
When somebody asks me, “Are we in the last days?” I suspect what they mean by that is, “Are we near the last chapter of history prior to the coming of Jesus Christ?” I can’t say yes or no. So I will say, “Yes, and I don’t know.” The sense in which I say yes is this: We have been in the last days since the first advent of Christ. And so the Scriptures tell us that we are to be living in the spirit of diligence and of vigilance from the time that Jesus departed this planet in clouds of glory until he returns. But when people ask me, “Are we living in the last days?” I suspect what they mean by that is, “Are we living in the last minutes of the last hour of the last day?” Do I think that the return of Jesus is close; is it on the horizon?
As previously reported, the American College of Pediatricians recently released a statement titled “Gender Dysphoria in Children” by Dr. Paul R. McHugh who is said to be the “most important American psychiatrist of the last half-century.” Dr. McHugh “urges educators and legislators to reject all policies that condition children to accept as normal a life of chemical and surgical impersonation of the opposite sex. Facts – not ideology – determine reality.”
We learn from Ryan T. Anderson of The Daily Signal that Dr. McHugh teamed up with Dr. Lawrence S. Mayer, an epidemiologist trained in psychiatry, to co-author a report that was published in the journal The New Atlantis. Their report claims that “a combination of biological, environmental, and experiential factors likely shape how individuals experience and express themselves when it comes to sex and gender.” According to Anderson, the report “challenges the leading narratives that the media has pushed regarding sexual orientation and gender identity.” Moreover,
the 143-page report discusses over 200 peer-reviewed studies in the biological, psychological, and social sciences, painstakingly documenting what scientific research shows and does not show about sexuality and gender.
The major takeaway, as the editor of the journal explains, is that “some of the most frequently heard claims about sexuality and gender are not supported by scientific evidence.”
In part 1 of this 2 part series Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Boyce College, tackles the intersex condition called 5-ARD that affects male sexual development. If you missed the headlines, an intersex athlete competed against females in the 2016 Olympic games and won a gold medal. Burk writes:
As the Olympics wound up last week, there were numerous reports about an Olympic runner whose sex was a point of controversy. It is reported that this athlete has an intersex condition called 5-ARD and has the testosterone level of a man. The athlete competed as a woman and won the gold medal in the 800m by a jaw-dropping margin of victory. The athlete not only looks like a man but also competes like one.
Even though the athlete’s name is in the news, I hesitate to mention it here. The reports I’ve read say that the athlete has never discussed the topic publicly, and it appears that news stories about the athlete’s intersex condition and testosterone levels have been the result of leaks and not the result of the athlete’s willing disclosure. So I will focus here on the issues raised by this controversy and not on this particular athlete.