Sky Links, 5-19-18

Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0
Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, who are champions at pouring beer.
-Isaiah 5:22

One Another Stuff
-Ron McKenzie

The New Testament does not teach us to worship with one other.

Instead, it tells us to do all these "One Anothers".


If we only come together for worship and listening to sermons, which the New Testament does not require, we will not have time to do the "One Another Stuff" that the New Testament does require. For these, we have to be together.






Is “Justification by Faith” the Gospel?
-Matthew Bates

...false gospels and their accompanying diseased faith requirements abound. And if these false gospels are not damaging enough, a blanketing apathy accompanies the entire quest for ultimate truth—“Who cares? What is on Netflix tonight?” Could this be because the church has misplaced the harnesses, clips, and ropes by pairing personal faith with a deformed gospel? Many of these pseudo-gospels are well known: consumerism, nationalism, physicalism, easy believe-ism, health-and-wealth, therapeutic moralistic deism, and utilitarianism.

In response, churches, especially those with a Protestant-evangelical heritage, pride themselves on clinging to the actual gospel, advertising that they are a “gospel-centered” or a “gospel-driven” church. In seeking to preserve the true gospel, these churches look back to Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley, and other early reformers. And what is this gospel? That we are justified by grace alone through faith alone, not by works. This is what the Bible emphatically teaches. Or does it?

It is precisely because of this rootedness in Scripture and in the Reformation’s slogans that Protestants, especially those with an evangelical heritage, might discover that “justification by faith” is the most surprising false gospel of all. Let me clarify by advancing three basic propositions:

(1) The “gospel” (euangelion) given to the apostles is true and unchanging.

(2) Justification by “faith” (pistis) is true and unchanging.

(3) But the gospel is not “justification by faith.”

So, the gospel is true, and justification by pistis (“faith”) is true, but they are not the same thing. From a biblical standpoint they are not even approximately equivalent. The problem is that both euangelion (“gospel”) and “justification by pistis” were understood in slightly inaccurate ways in the Reformation era, and then falsely equated. The result: confusion in the church’s theology of salvation.

Why claim that the gospel is not “justification by faith”? The answer is simple. When the Bible describes the boundaries and content of the gospel, justification by faith is never mentioned. There is no passage where “gospel” (euangelion) is straightforwardly equated with “justification by faith”?...

...If we were to take all of Paul’s statements where he delineates the content of the gospel, looking also at the four Gospels, the speeches in Acts, and other texts, we might find that the gospel contains certain core elements (Salvation by Allegiance Alone, 52).

Jesus the king:
  1. preexisted with the Father,
  2. took on human flesh, fulfilling God’s promises to David,
  3. died for sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
  4. was buried,
  5. was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures,
  6. appeared to many,
  7. is seated at the right hand of God as Lord, and
  8. will come again as judge.

So, the gospel is not justification by faith (pistis); rather it is a story about Jesus the Messiah centered upon his pistis (trusting allegiance) that includes his justification. More precisely, it is a Trinitarian story about Jesus the king. The Christ is sent by the Father, shows faithfulness to God and us in dying for our sins, is justified and raised, and is installed as king of kings. The purpose of this gospel is not said to be “salvation in heaven,” or anything like that. It is to bring about the obedience of pistis (embodied allegiance) among the nations, as Jesus the Christ pours out the Spirit. Then Jew and Gentile can be united together via the Spirit in the Messiah, that is, in Jesus the king.

What, then, should we make of our beloved doctrine of “justification by faith”? It is not the content of the gospel—not even close. It is, though, vitally important.

Briefly, our justification is not part of the gospel proper—only Jesus’s justification. Yet our justification is bound up with his. Meanwhile, our pistis (traditionally “faith” but better “allegiance” in certain contexts) is not part of the gospel proper either. Rather, it is the only valid response to the gospel. Meanwhile, the purpose of the gospel is not justification by faith, but allegiant obedience to Jesus the Messiah (the obedience of pistis) among the nations.




If Faith is Allegiance, then What is Justification by Faith?
-Matthew Bates

Contrary to Luther and his many heirs, the biblical gospel is not “justification by faith.” Nor is the gospel the Roman Road. It is not “trusting in Jesus’s righteousness alone.” These are not even accurate approximations to the gospel. These concepts may relate closely to the gospel, but when we begin to call them the gospel we introduce confusion, with dreadful theological and practical consequences. The actual biblical gospel is held in common by Protestants, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians worldwide, even if, ironically, it is not always called the gospel by individuals and groups that claim to be the most gospel-driven or gospel-centered.

The Bible’s most precise descriptions show that the gospel is the story of Jesus as framed by the collaborating work of the Father and the Spirit. The Father sends the Son to take on human flesh in the line of David. Jesus is faithful in dying for sins, is raised, enthroned as king of heaven and earth, sends the Spirit to bring Jew and Gentile together into one people of God united in the Messiah, and will return as king. This is a much wider gospel than mere “justification by faith” as it touches on the whole life-story of Jesus, as well as the Old Testament patterns and promises that frame it. I sought to outline this gospel in a previous Catalyst essay.

At the same time, “the gospel” is not infinitely wide. It is not a general positive message about God, or the whole story of salvation history, or the Nicene Creed, or the Trinity, or Jesus himself. It is definitely not helping the poor or a style of music.

Nevertheless even with this sharpening of the gospel, questions press. If the “gospel” (euangelion) is strictly a story about Jesus, then why is it good news for us?—how does it relate to “faith” (pistis)?—and how does “justification” (dikaiosynÄ“) connect to these other terms? We will seek to outline answers to these three questions. This may just stimulate more questions. I try to answer many of them in Salvation by Allegiance Alone (Baker Academic, 2017). Here I merely hope to provide a starting point.




"How Long Have You Struggled with Pornography?"
-Wade Burleson

Paul Young believes Christ died for every human being who has ever lived or ever will live, those who are in heaven and those who are in hell. I believe Christ died for the elect. We both believe Christ died for the world, but Paul defines the world as every human being, whereas I define it as a particular people (the Bride of Christ) from every nation, every tongue, every kindred, and every family on earth. Paul Young treats every human being as a child of God, and thus connects with them in a deep emotional and spiritual level. I desire to connect with every human being in a similar manner to Paul Young.

In discussing the extent of the atonement, Paul Young told me a story of a couple of Calvinists who approached him to debate the subject. Paul observed that Calvinists typically approach him in pairs, one tall and lean the other short and plump. The tall one argued with Paul about the extent of the atonement and Paul responded, "So let me ask you a question. You have two boys, both of whom are your flesh and blood. One boy is saved because God chose Him, Christ died for Him and the Spirit regenerated Him. The other boy, however, is chosen by God to be a "vessel of wrath" upon whom judgement will fall as a demonstration of God's holiness and justice. My question for you is this: 'Does it bother you that you have one son who will be in heaven and one son who will be in hell?'" The tall Calvinist responded: 'It does not. God's purposes are good, and if my boy is a vessel chosen for the demonstration of God's wrath against sin, it will be fine with me."

Paul Young's next question was this: "How long have you struggled with pornography?"

I was shocked at Paul's question to the man. Paul explained to me that any human being who is so emotionally disconnected from their children's welfare that they can dispassionately speak of their eternal state without sorrow, tears or pleading with God for mercy, is a person who is disconnected from emotion in relationships. The tell-tale sign of a struggle with pornography, according to Paul, is an emotional disconnect from human relationships.

I may disagree with Paul Young about the extent of the atonement, but I can guarantee you I want to treat every person the way he does. I wish to believe like Charles Spurgeon who once said "God, save the elect and elect some more" and I wish to live like Paul Young who treats every human being as a chosen recipient of God's grace. My view on the atonement has not changed. I believe it is a particular atonement for those who believe. But I can tell you without hesitation I would rather be around people who believe in a powerful, universal atonement and treat everybody like a child of God than a limited atonement person who is emotionally disconnected from the human race. I'm not sure what camp that puts me in, but its one which I do not wish to leave.





To my fellow evangelicals: What you’re cheering in Jerusalem is shameful
-Richard Mouw

Those of us in the evangelical world who have on occasion publicly criticized the policies of the Benjamin Netanyahu government have been quickly reminded of the ways we are evoking God’s displeasure with us. My hate mail regularly features the promise that God made to Abraham when he informed the patriarch that he would be the father of a great nation: “I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee” (Genesis 12:3).

Well, let the hate mail keep coming, but this needs to be said: It was a shameful thing for evangelical pastors to be celebrating the opening of the embassy in Jerusalem while just a few miles away the Israeli army was killing dozens of Palestinian protesters against Israeli policies. (The death toll stood at 60 as of Tuesday, Palestinian officials said, and more than 1,700 people had been hospitalized.) It’s shameful, not only because they use their theology to make the moving of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem a matter of “eternal” significance, but also because they refuse to hold the Netanyahu government accountable for Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, some of whom are themselves evangelical Christians.

Do I fear being cursed by God for saying that it was a shameful thing for these two pastors to join in the celebration at the opening of the Jerusalem embassy? No, because those who so easily invoke that ancient promise fail to think about what it covers. I do want God to “bless” Israel, as did the ancient prophets who regularly delivered divine messages to their compatriots.

But those prophets never called for an uncritical acceptance of whatever happened to be the current policies and practices of Israel’s leaders. Here, for example, is a typical one of those ancient messages from the Lord: “So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice” (Malachi 3:5).

God is not indiscriminate in handing out blessings to Israel. God wants the leaders to promote the cause of righteousness, which has to do with, among other things, how they treat “the stranger in the land.” The ancient Hebrew writers were consistent in emphasizing his point: “And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God” (Leviticus 19:33-34).

If we want God to “bless” Israel we should keep calling the present Israeli government to treat the Palestinians as those who are “born among you.” We do Israel no favors by praying at its celebrations while ignoring the grave injustices taking place not far away.

The evangelicals who send angry messages quoting the biblical passage about blessings and curses are right to insist that God both blesses and curses nations for what they do. And the time is long past for us as evangelicals to talk seriously together about God’s concern for justice in the Middle East. And while we are at it we can also talk, as evangelicals, about God’s concern for “the stranger” who is within and at our own American borders. It is always important to attend to these things. They are matters for which divine blessings and divine curses are at stake.

Notes From a Relationship Expert

What makes for a great marriage and what spoils a marriage?  These are some notes from Eric Barker's post on a conversation with John Gottman, author of 40 books, and counselor for over 40 years. "The 4 Most Common Relationship Problems - And How To Fix Them".

Four things that ruin your relationship:

  1. Criticism (pointing out flaws in your partner)
  2. Defensiveness (reacting by counterattacking or playing the victim to perceived criticism)
  3. Stonewalling (tuning out and not caring)
Three things that help your relationship:
  1. Knowing your partner inside/out (by engaging in curious intimacy and self-disclosure)
  2. Responding to and engaging with your partner (not ignoring but seeking to sync up with)
  3. Admiration (thinking about and expressing thoughts about them that are gracious and positive)
The best predictor of your relationship's future is the couple's "story of us":
  • negative or positive?
  • discontent or cherish?
  • resentment or gratitude?
The most important aspect to a healthy relationship is acceptance:
  • Accepting one's own responsibility
  • Accepting listening (stopping to unconditionally listen)
  • Two-thirds of disagreements will never be resolved through arguments (love as acceptance)

Sky Links, 5-12-18

Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0

Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and became his nanny.
-Ruth 4:16


Don't Ask Moms to Stand in Church This Sunday
-Aaron Wilson

It’s not just infertile couples who may find it awkward to attend church on Mother’s Day. The list can also include:
  • Singles who desire to be married and have children.
  • Parents who’ve experienced miscarriage, stillbirth, or the death of a child.
  • Stepmoms helping to raise children who don’t value them.
  • Couples facing hurdles in the process of adoption.
  • Foster parents who’ve chosen to refrain from being called “mom” and “dad” for the emotional health of a child in their care.
  • Parents who’ve placed a child for adoption.
  • Mothers who’ve had an abortion (and fathers who encouraged them to do so).
  • Women with wayward, distant, or estranged grown children.

With so many emotions attached to the subject of motherhood, churches can find it difficult to know how to navigate Mother’s Day, which—like Father’s Day—always falls on a Sunday.

Here are a few ideas to help your church honor mothers from the pulpit while also being sensitive to challenges your congregation faces surrounding the subject of motherhood.

DON’T SINGLE OUT MOTHERS

Many churches seek to honor moms on Mother’s Day by asking them to stand and be acknowledged or by giving them gifts such as flowers, bookmarks, or gift cards during or after services.

“Superlative moms”—those who’ve been mothers the longest or ones with the most kids—sometimes get gifts as well.

But through such practices, churches may unintentionally be broadcasting some members’ private struggles by requiring them to sit while others stand or by creating scenarios where some women walk out of services empty-handed while others leave with physical tokens acknowledging their motherhood.

These practices can create confusion, awkwardness, and pain. For example:

  • Does the stepmother in a blended family stand or sit when mothers are asked to rise?
  • Should the woman waiting on adoption papers to clear raise her hand to receive a flower?
  • What about the visitor who’s had an abortion and is forced to sit while she watches other mothers rise to public applause?
  • Or the young woman who gets passed over for a Starbucks gift card because the usher doesn’t know she miscarried her baby two weeks ago?

Whether such women are first-time guests or established members, these encounters with the church can be perceived as insensitive and can open emotional wounds.

A better idea for honoring mothers is to acknowledge them collectively from the pulpit and to speak generally about what the Bible says about motherhood. This protects a pastor from dividing a congregation into unnecessary “who’s in” and “who’s out” categories when it comes to motherhood.

ALLOW MOTHERHOOD TO BE MESSY

Churches can also honor moms on Mother’s Day by recognizing real challenges from the pulpit.

Understand that before moms in your congregation ever listen to a word from the sermon, they’ve already received a message that morning from other mothers’ social media posts that are often curated to show doting children and a Proverbs 31 depiction of home life...


...This Mother’s Day, give parents the gift of acknowledging from the pulpit the fact that parenting is a hard and messy endeavor. People need to know the church is a place where those who feel inadequate for such challenges can gather.

Spend time on Sunday publicly praying for mothers, for those dealing with broken relationships with their kids or their own mothers, and for people struggling in some of the categories from the lists above.

Give your congregation permission to bring their anxious thoughts to Jesus and let them know how they can reach out to the church for love and help...

...Honor motherhood this Sunday, but don’t give the impression a woman’s worth is determined by her positioning with kids.

TREATING MOTHER’S DAY WITH CARE

With all the emotional baggage Mother’s Day brings, it can be a difficult Sunday for pastors and ministry leaders to navigate.

However, if approached with sensitivity, Mother’s Day can also be a great opportunity to show honor to moms while extending love and empathy to those who are struggling as a result of the occasion.


Old People Problems – Or Life Is Too Short For Cynicism And Contempt
-Fernando Gros

Live for a while and the world starts to change around you. In your younger years this can be exciting. Things are getting better, becoming more how you want them to be. People your own age start taking places of influence, especially in popular culture, and it feels like your moment to shine.

But as you get older, maybe as you go from being the same age as star athletes to being the same age as their coaches or managers, the flavour of change starts to taste a little different.


You notice it first in the generation above you. You suddenly become aware of how violently cynical they can be. I first noticed it in baby boomers’ attitudes to rap and hip-hop. Sure, a new(ish) genre going mainstream might not be to your taste. But is it dumb, stupid or non-musical? No; no way.

Then you notice it in your own generation – not just the cynicism, but the contempt. I feel it in my generation’s attitude to cosplay. OK, so you wouldn’t do it yourself. Fine. But being unable to see how it might be a fun hobby, or worse, to try and make out it’s some kind of generational moral and creative failure? Wow.

Cynicism and contempt are ways of expressing the fear of change, and especially of what change, new trends, new fashions, new ideas, new ways of doing things, what it all might say about us. We fear not being able to keep up. We fear not having influence. We fear being left behind.

Of course, it’s easier to make fun of social change, to criticise from a safe distance, than to change ourselves...

...“Misery loves company,” they say. Well, so do cynicism and contempt, and we’ll always find a listening ear if we indulge then, especially with a nice serving of nostalgia. But, we’ll also be assigning ourselves to an increasingly irrelevant place in society.

This isn’t a function of getting old. It’s a function of not playing the role that fits our age.

We look to our elders for their wisdom and experience, sure. But why? Because we want to believe we can make it too. We want to hear stories about overcoming adversity because we want to believe we can surpass our own challenges. The most attractive older people are always the ones who make us believe it’s possible, not just to survive, but to thrive.

Your ability to lead, or at least to stay relevant, will depend on being able to bring your wisdom and experience to the world as it is now, and to make life as it is today better, lighter, and more fulfilling.

The best way to overcome contempt and cynicism is to stay curious. The unfamiliar, the odd, the different, the new way of doing it, are all moments when we can choose to learn. Rather than look out and blame, look in and enquire, asking ourselves how we can grow in understanding and grace.




Luther and Depression
-Tony Headley

...How did Luther address the problem of depression? One finds in Luther a multi-faceted approach that matches its complex nature. For starters, Luther seemed to normalize the experience of depression: Luther helped sufferers to understand that they were not alone in this suffering. Depression was to some degree a universal occurrence afflicting even the people of God. [xxi]

The Use of Spiritual Disciplines

Earlier I spoke about the role of spiritual factors in depression. Namely, that depression was partly precipitated through thoughts instilled by Satan. Thus, one should not be surprised to find an emphasis on spiritual strategies for combating depression. That spiritual emphasis is apparent in every letter Luther wrote to depressed persons who sought his comfort. I highlight some of these strategies below.

· Remember Christ loves and esteems you

First and foremost, Luther assured his “clients” that Christ loved and esteemed them and was near to them. Christ not only cared but would help believers carry their burden. Believers must also trust in Christ’s atonement for sin as a buttress against Satan’s accusations.

· Make use of comforting scriptures and spiritual songs.

Luther recommended the use of a variety of spiritual disciplines: He counseled prayer and the use of scripture passages. Depressed persons should read or have read to them comforting words from scripture. Luther also knew that music had a soothing quality. Therefore, he advised believers to make use of spiritual songs. They should sing and play songs unto the Lord until their sad thoughts vanished.

· Listen as God Speaks through others

Luther emphasized God’s work through others. He saw that God used the words of others to strengthen and comfort struggling persons. [xxii] Depressed persons need to listen to such words. To one severely depressed person, Luther advised: “…cease relying on and pursuing your own thoughts. Listen to other people who are not subject to this temptation. Give the closest attention to what we say, and let our words penetrate to your heart. Thus God will strengthen and comfort you by means of our words.” [xxiii]

In this emphasis, Luther espoused a concept similar to one found in Larry Crabb and others. Crabb has used the concept of eldering. By this emphasis, he suggests that other godly believers have the capacity to help one another. He also believes that the church need to take the role of godly men and women more seriously. According to him, “They have a lot more power to deeply affect the souls of other people than they generally are given credit for.” [xxiv]b I agree. However, I do not think this discounts the role of professional counselors as some would suggest. However, it does suggest that there are multiple resources within the body of Christ to address the healing needs of his people.

Seek the Company of Others

Besides bringing comforting words, believers play an additional role in the lives of the depressed. They provide company to pull the depressed away from solitude. For Luther, solitude fostered depression. Thus, he constantly counseled the depressed to seek the company of others. It is evident from his words that Luther envisioned company with those who were not suffering from depression. For him, community with believers served several purposes in combating depression.

First, company afforded the depressed person an opportunity to receive a perspective on life different than their own. Second, company with believers was a necessary precaution against suicide. The reader would remember that this was Luther’s recommendation to Mrs. Jonas Von Stockhausen when her husband was severely depressed and thinking about suicide.

· Remember “merriment is not sin.”

Company with believers served a third purpose. It represented an opportunity for good, clean fun. Thus, Luther repeatedly recommended playing games, joking, jesting and other forms of merriment. To Mrs. Von Stockhausen Luther advised that she read or tell stories which lead to laughter and jesting. Luther especially insisted on pleasurable diversions to young persons like Jerome Weller and Prince Joachim of Anhalt. For example, to the youthful Jerome Weller he advised: “Seek out company of men, drink more, joke and jest and engage in some other forms of merriment.” [xxv]

One should not be surprised by this emphasis on merriment in Luther. He likely knew that the depressed tended to give up pleasurable activities. Thus they lived their lives in more and more confining limits. In a sense, they sapped the life, vigor and fun out of their lives. What else but depression can one expect when joy is sucked from one’s life?

But Luther emphasized merriment for another reason. Luther saw that some Christians avoided pleasurable activities because they saw these as sinful. It was their Christian scruples that posed a threat to defeating depression. For example, Luther saw the over-scrupulous Prince Joachim as “…reluctant to be merry, as if this were sinful.” You might remember from an earlier comment that this same Prince Joachim believed he had betrayed or crucified Christ. Luther further noted that “… proper and honorable pleasure with good and God-fearing people is pleasing to God.”[xxvi] Thus one should strive to be merry in two ways: First, one should rejoice inwardly in Christ. Second, one should take pleasure outwardly in God’s gifts and in the good things of life.

Dealing with Cognitive Distortions

Earlier I noted that Luther emphasized the role of cognition in depression. Therefore, one should not be surprised to find strategies designed to address these cognitive distortions. In Luther, one finds this problem addressed on at least four levels; grappling with one’s own cognitive biases; listening to the thoughts and words of others; disputation with and disregard for the devil; and through scripture’s promises. 
(emphasis mine) Much of these strategies are implicit in earlier statements.

******* Luther evidently believed that there are times we should not trust our own thoughts. This is especially true during depression when we tend to distort reality. It’s during these times that we need to rely on the others. Christian persons who are not depressed represent a reality check for the depressed. Their words and thoughts pull us away from our distortions and back to reality.

The reader might remember that Luther saw some depressive thoughts as proceeding from Satan. How is the believer to deal with this problem? Should the believer quickly capitulate? Certainly not! The believer must resist the devil. How does one do this? Sometimes believers must avoid disputation with the Devil. It seems Luther believed this was one method to avoid dwelling on the deadly thoughts from Satan. [xxvii]At other times Luther seemed to endorse some disputation with the devil. In one table talk, drawn from his personal experience, Luther noted: “I discovered that a person who is well fed is better fitted for disputation with the devil than a person who is fasting.”[xxviii]
(disputation = debate)

It would seem from these examples that Luther did not have a hard and fast rule about when to combat depressive thoughts from the enemy. From the latter statement one might surmise that the timing largely depended on personal factors. Thus, when one is fasting is not a good time to indulge in disputation. In general, one might conclude that disputation is unwise any time one is overly vulnerable, whether in body or mind. At those times, believers should draw strength from spiritual persons and from scripture.

Luther also emphasized the role of scripture in combating deadly thoughts. This makes sense since scripture presents the ultimate reality, an antidote to our distorted view of our circumstances. Scripture especially reminds us that God loves us, esteems us and is with us in the midst of our struggles. The very opposite of what Satan would have us believe; namely that we are unloved, worthless and abandoned.

See also: Wesley and Depression by Tony Headley




Do Not Be Deceived

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters.
-James 1:16

Have you ever been deceived?  The first time my parents left me and my brother alone, while they went to a Christmas party two doors away, the doorbell rang.  I looked out the peek hole and saw men with bags over their heads.  I ran to the telephone and called my parents, at the neighbors house.

My dad hurried home and there was no one at our door or at the front of the property.  They must have left.  I was not pulling a prank and my dad could see that I was genuinely frightened.

My dad discovered that the paper Christmas wreath, made by my granddad, was in front of the peek hole.  My little eyes thought they saw several shadowy figures standing on the doorstep, with bags over their heads.  But it was an optical illusion!  We never found out who actually rang the bell and stood there that December night.

Some people are deceived, as in they just don't know.  Other people are willfully deceived, in that they push back and avoid the truth.  A person is willfully deceived when the lie is more comfortable than the truth.  The willfully deceived person will have some painful, hard work to do, if they choose the truth.  You might lose friends, lose your identity, lose you platform, or your lifestyle.

To come out of willful deception will cost you, but you will be free.  

"Don't be deceived", is a word to believers, to people in the church, to people in the tribes of God.  We can be and many of us are deceived.  That's right, many Christians are deceived.  That is why James says, "Don't be deceived", because many people, who are Christians, can be and are deceived.

What was the original deception, that caused Adam and Eve to fall?  That God was not completely good.  God's character was impugned.   What God commanded was questioned.  The serpent suggested this and tempted this.

Faith and trust was broken in the fall.  Only God could restore it.  Jesus completely restores us to relationship with God.  This is the good news, that eternal life begins now in Christ, if we repent and follow him.

There are many things we can become deceived about, but what James is talking about here is the deception that God causes evil, trials, or temptations.  Allowing and causing are not the same thing.

God sovereignly allows bad things, but God is always good and does not cause them.  And with every bad thing that happens to us, God is there, with us.  God provides provision for us attached to anything that happens to us.

This is the Christian life.  Fellowship in suffering.  We are never alone, never cut off from help.

Instead of turning to God, by faith, and knowing that God loves me no matter what happens, and is with me and has provision for me; if I instead blame God, see God as not good, but judge God; then I am deceived.  That is what James is saying here.

Do not be deceived.  God is always good.  God is not evil.  Do not judge God.

Judging God as bad will bring a curse into your life and hamper you and make everything worse.  This is exactly what the enemy of our souls wants.  The dark world wants us to live believing God is not good, maybe even bad to a degree.  Repent now, if you have judged God, blamed God, or have a grudge (judgement) against God.

God allows things to happen.  We are born into a fallen world, that is being restored, but is still fallen and in process.  We are born into a war, where God has an enemy who hates people who bear Christ; and we immediately have a target painted on our backs.

But we have God protecting us and there are angels fighting on our behalf.  One of the battlefields is our mind.  The enemy wants us to think wrongly about God, to be deceived about God, God's character and how God is.

"Do not be deceived", is a 'hinge verse', that connects the former and latter ideas from James:

No one undergoing a trial should say, “I am being tempted by God,” since God is not tempted by evil, and he himself doesn’t tempt anyone. But each person is tempted when he is drawn away and enticed by his own evil desire. Then after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin, and when sin is fully grown, it gives birth to death.

Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. 

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. By his own choice, he gave us birth by the word of truth so that we would be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

In particular, James is saying, "Take responsibility".  Yes, Christians can be tempted.  Saved people have desires.  We can 'go evil' by sinning.  I can lie, cheat, steal, or hurt other people.  I can abuse others or I can abuse myself.

I can sin in a thousand different ways and have a rationale for each one, excusing myself or pretending that, "I am entitled to this".  And what is really insidious is when we bring God into it and say, "I know this is ok with God", about the sin.  We are deceived.

Think about David.  The king, the worshiper, the poet, the songwriter, and the man after God's own heart.  He ended up stealing another man's wife, possibly raping her; and then murdering an innocent man.

How could he do such a thing?  He was deceived.  One of the most famous persons in the Bible became massively deceived.

When Jesus told the disciples that he was going to be executed and Peter said, "no way, I will never let that happen", and then Jesus called him Satan; Peter was deceived.  Later, when Peter denied Jesus three times, that was a trial that he was going through, that he failed.

Jesus warned Peter that it would happen and told Peter that he was going to pray for him:

“Simon, Simon, look out. Satan has asked to sift you like wheat.  But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And you, when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”

“Lord,” he told him, “I’m ready to go with you both to prison and to death.”

“I tell you, Peter,” he said, “the rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know me.”

-Luke 22:31-34

You know the story.  Peter denied Jesus, was afraid and ran away, but Jesus restored him and he continued on his path as a leader of the church.

The greatest deception is that God is not good.  God is good and God does not tempt us to do evil.  I have to take responsibility for myself and live from Christ, from God's provision for me, in every trial or temptation.

Why is this happening to me?  I don't know.  Who is tempting me?  Not God.  What is the answer or the solution?  That God is good, no matter what.  Remember Jesus Christ.

Jesus does not just save us so that we can go to heaven when we die, but he saves us to live in him now and forever.  The Christian life is not that we just have tickets for heaven, but that we are disciples, servants, and children of the king, now and forever.

Temptation is part of the life.  We get tempted and we turn away from it and turn to God.  And if we sin, we ask for forgiveness and we are restored.  But we never blame God or judge God.  We are not deceived.

Sky Links, 5-5-18

Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0

Can We Just Be Friends?  Some Reflections on the Graham Rule
-Alistair Roberts

There are countless ways that strong, meaningful, affectionate, and compassionate relationships can and should be enjoyed between the sexes in beautiful and prudential ways. Learning how to relate well to the other sex in various contexts is simply a basic element of growing to psychological and social maturity. The Graham Rule doesn’t preclude this, although it imposes closer restrictions than many of us believe that we currently need to adopt. Whether we follow it or not, we should be characterized by mature involvement with the other sex, one that is genuinely mindful of their otherness while also mindful of their similarity, one that displays the wisdom of serpents and the innocence of doves, one that maintains distinction and distance, without falling into detachment.

In our current social context, where external boundaries are low or non-existent, we must be far more vigilant to establish robust internal and personal boundaries where we can. Many of us will have little choice but to negotiate situations within which we will be exposed to more temptation than is good. The question of whether to adopt the Graham Rule is moot for many, as they must spend much time alone with persons of the other sex in the course of their work. In such non-ideal circumstances we must be wise, self-controlled, students both of the ways of our own souls and of the deceptive paths of sin. We must, where we can, support others in virtue and seek their support in our commitment to it too. We must seek to become people known for holiness and integrity in our conduct, fleeing evil and pursuing purity in all things, presenting a model of faithfulness for all to see.




The Evangelical Stream of the Church (Word-Centered Disciples)
-Ryan J. Pelton

Evangelicals are good news people. Grace people. And thankful people for all that has been done for us in Christ.

For too long in our modern era evangelical meant Moral Majority, political, white, or fundamentalist. Not the good news people and word centered people announcing that Jesus’ has lived, died, risen, and his Kingdom has broke into humanity.

The evangelical tradition at its best is when it keeps the gospel the main thing (1 Cor. 15:1-9). When they announce that God is here to reconcile sinners to himself and restore the universe. Word centered people are at their best when they offer salvation to sinners that is free, by grace, and faith. Disciples of Jesus who center their lives on the good news of Jesus and live in response to him.



Fear of the Left: The Most Powerful Force in America Today
-Dennis Prager

The dominant force in America and many other Western countries today is fear of the left.

This is a result of the fact that the most dynamic religion of the past 100 years has been neither Christianity nor Islam. It has been leftism. Whoever does not recognize this does not understand the contemporary world.

What is Leftism?


Leftism -- in its incarnations, such as Marxism, communism and socialism; expressed through egalitarianism, environmentalism and feminism; in its denigration of capitalism and Western civilization, especially America and Israel; in its supplanting of Christianity and Judaism; through its influence on Christianity and Judaism; in its celebration of race; and in its replacing of reason with romanticism -- has almost completely taken over the news and entertainment media and institutions of education.

There is a largely (though not entirely) nonviolent reign of ideological terror in America. In almost every area of life, people fear antagonizing the left.



-Amy Frykholm


Barna’s study, published in 2017 as The State of Pastors, is based on surveys of 320,000 church leaders across the spectrum of Protestantism. It found that pastors are considerably more likely than the general population to rate their mental and emotional health as “excellent” or “good.” Eighty-five percent of pastors rated their mental and emotional health this way, compared to 60 percent of the general population. About 30 percent of pastors surveyed by Barna said that they were at risk of experiencing burnout—which is still a far cry from Krejcir’s claim of 71 percent.

That profile of clergy lines up with the kind of data Rae Jean Proeschold-Bell has seen in her work with the Clergy Health Initiative funded by the Duke Endowment, another important source of reliable data on ministers. For ten years CHI has studied United Methodist clergy in North Carolina, using longitudinal surveys, focus groups, interviews, and biometric data to assess the physical and mental health of clergy.

CHI has investigated depression in clergy and found that about 9 to 11 percent of clergy deal with depression. That figure is about 4 percentage points higher than the general population, but nowhere near the level of distress that Krejcir’s figures suggest.

Researchers at CHI are still assessing whether there is something about the ministry that may attract people with a tendency toward depression or whether it’s the profession itself that leads to higher rates of depression. Both Barna and CHI indicate that pastors’ overall mental and emotional health is quite good.

Proeschold-Bell suggests that clergy’s relatively good mental health might reflect the fact many aspects of clergy work are conducive to positive emotions. For example, a study published by the American Psychological Association and conducted by researchers at the University of North Carolina showed that there are five activities that when pursued on a regular basis contribute to a positive outlook. Four of the five tend to be a regular part of a clergyperson’s day: engaging in spiritual activity, learning, social interactions, and helping. (The fifth factor in a positive outlook is play, and Proeschold-Bell guesses clergy are no better at this than anyone else.)

On the issue of burnout, Proeschold-Bell and her team compared the burnout rate among ministers to that of people in other service occupations. They found that clergy were in the middle range: they experienced burnout at a rate similar to that of teachers and social workers but were coping better with stress than police or emergency workers.




Six Ways Parents Destroy Their Children Without Trying
-Michael Pearl

1. Get so busy providing for them that you don’t have time for them.

2. Set a bad example.

3. Expressing displeasure regularly.

4. Not enforcing boundaries.

5. Leaving them to choose their friends.

6. Finally, you can destroy your children by not giving them any responsibility or holding them accountable.


Caught in Providence: Thank You For Your Service

Recently I discovered a YouTube series called "Caught in Providence." Judge Caprio is a modern-day Solomon. God has given him an amazing heart to match his brilliant mind. Providence, RI, is very fortunate to have him as a judge. While never forgetting about justice, he exhibits the kind of humanity, consideration, understanding, and compassion that Joseph exhibited 2,000 years ago. May his tribe increase.

Watch and be blessed.






A Letter to My Brothers
-Beth Moore

Dear Brothers in Christ,

A few years ago I told an interviewer friend that, whenever he hears the news that I’m on my deathbed, he’s to elbow his way through my family members to interview me about what it’s been like to be a female leader in the conservative Evangelical world. He responded, “Why can’t we do it before then?”

“Because you know good and well what will happen,” I answered. “I’ll get fried like a chicken.” After recent events following on the heels of a harrowing eighteen months, I’ve decided fried chicken doesn’t sound so bad.

I have been a professing Evangelical for decades and, at least in my sliver of that world, a conservative one. I was a cradle role Southern Baptist by denomination with an interdenominational ministry. I walked the aisle to receive Christ as my Savior at 9 years old in an SBC church and exactly nine years later walked the aisle in another SBC church to surrender to a vocational calling. Being a woman called to leadership within and simultaneously beyond those walls was complicated to say the least but I worked within the system. After all, I had no personal aspirations to preach nor was it my aim to teach men. If men showed up in my class, I did not throw them out. I taught. But my unwavering passion was to teach and to serve women.

I lack adequate words for my gratitude to God for the pastors and male staff members in my local churches for six decades who have shown me such love, support, grace, respect, opportunity and often out right favor. They alongside key leaders at LifeWay and numerous brothers elsewhere have no place in a larger picture I’m about to paint for you. They have brought me joy and kept me from derailing into cynicism and chronic discouragement amid the more challenging dynamics.

As a woman leader in the conservative Evangelical world, I learned early to show constant pronounced deference – not just proper respect which I was glad to show – to male leaders and, when placed in situations to serve alongside them, to do so apologetically. I issued disclaimers ad nauseam. I wore flats instead of heels when I knew I’d be serving alongside a man of shorter stature so I wouldn’t be taller than he. I’ve ridden elevators in hotels packed with fellow leaders who were serving at the same event and not been spoken to and, even more awkwardly, in the same vehicles where I was never acknowledged. I’ve been in team meetings where I was either ignored or made fun of, the latter of which I was expected to understand was all in good fun. I am a laugher. I can take jokes and make jokes. I know good fun when I’m having it and I also know when I’m being dismissed and ridiculed. I was the elephant in the room with a skirt on. I’ve been talked down to by male seminary students and held my tongue when I wanted to say, “Brother, I was getting up before dawn to pray and to pore over the Scriptures when you were still in your pull ups.”





Jesus Wasn’t A Christian
-Carl Medearis

Have you ever wondered who founded Christianity? The dictionary says it was Jesus Christ. Christ = Christian, right? A couple of thoughts on that and why it matters that we have it right…

First of all, Jesus’ last name is not “Christ.” He was Jesus of Nazareth, or Jesus, the son of Joseph and Mary. His title may have been “the Christ” or the “anointed one”, but that was not his name. His name was/is Jesus. (Joshua or Yeshua).

He was a Jew by religion/culture.

But he was for sure not a “Christian.” There were no “Christians” then. And he wasn’t the first, as he did not come to start a new religion. He came as truth and grace. He came to show us the Father. He came to explain the way. He came to give life. But he surely did not come to start a new religion – as if the world needed one more religion!

So why does this matter? Is it simply semantics? What difference does it make? Let me suggest three reasons why it makes a ton of difference that Jesus wasn’t a Christian and wasn’t the founder of Christianity:

  1. It sets us free to not have to defend all of the 2000 years of misdeeds done in the name of Christianity. We can simply apologize and move on. We don’t need to own it.
  2. It sets us free to not take sides in the current “culture wars.” We can step out of the “Christians versus _________” debate. There is no debate. We can simply figure out what Jesus did in similar circumstances and what we think he would want us to do today.
  3. We don’t have to feel the pressure to convert people to Christianity – which is a lot of work and doesn’t seem to be very effective. We can simply love them in the name of Jesus and pray that GOD would convert them to himself.

This actually changes everything. The way we live. The way we talk to others and the way we interact in the systems of the world. Think about it. Push back a little. Thoughts?



-James Emery White

Today it seems like the news is littered with leader after leader falling to moral compromise, a lack of integrity with finances, or leading from pride and power. I just knew, from the beginning, that I had one church plant in me – kind of like one marriage, or one family – and I was going to plant it and then be faithful to it to the end.

But when I reflected on his question, five things did come to mind:

1. Persistence and determination

2. Integrity

3. The hide of a rhinoceros

4. Vision

5. A phenomenal wife




2 Ways Most Christians Fail at Evangelism
-Ben Sternke

One of the most difficult aspects of Christianity for me to embrace and practice has been the whole evangelism thing. I’ve just never been comfortable with it.

And as I talk with pastors and Christian leaders around the country (especially younger ones), I hear the same story. Evangelism just doesn’t feel natural to a lot of us.

It’s like evangelism is the awkward guy at the party who can’t follow the conversation and always talks a little too loudly. It’s fine, he’s nice enough, but you just don’t know how to relate to him.

So what’s the deal with that? Are we “ashamed of the gospel” and need to get over ourselves? Are we trying too hard to be “relevant” or something?


Maybe, but I think something deeper is going on here.



The Art of Saying Goodbye in a Culture of See You Later
-Jess Fankhauser

I have often wished someone would have taught me how to say goodbye well when I was growing up. Instead one of two things usually happened. Either I couldn’t wait to say goodbye and good riddance to an experience or person or I held on for dear life to what I was losing. Both negatively impacted my next experience or relationship.

In the church we rarely, if ever, talk about saying goodbye unless we are at a funeral. The reality though is that goodbyes are a part of our lives long before we get to a funeral. Our lives are full of comings and goings, transitions—the changing of seasons, both in nature and in our lives and hearts. Different seasons, with different people, roles and responsibilities.

And the more I encounter these different seasons and roles and relationships in my work and life, the more I am convinced that our inability to say goodbye well, is paralyzing us (me) from living fully into the abundant John 10:10 life that God desires for us.

And so, I find myself at the end of another academic year preparing to say goodbye yet again (maybe you do as well).


So what have I learned about saying goodbye that I wish we talked about more (and that we and our students practiced) in this season?

  1. We are meant to live and invest fully until the very last day. Withdrawing or checking out early from a relationship or experience before the end may feel easier in the moment, but it doesn’t help us say goodbye well.
  2. It is better (if at all possible) to leave with no regrets. This is where it can be easier to avoid hard conversations because you know you’re leaving soon and it doesn’t feel worth it. If it is healthy and safe for you—have the hard conversation.
  3. Take time to grieve what you are losing. We live in a culture that rarely likes to name emotion or slow down long enough to reflect. But to leave well we have to do both. Name what you are losing and give yourself permission and time to grieve it.
  4. Extend extra grace to yourself and others as each person says goodbye and grieves differently. If it is a group experience like college or a trip—where there is a group of people all grieving the same loss at the same time, this step is critical. Emotions are high, sleep and self-care are usually lacking and a little extra grace can go a long way in helping you not leave with regrets.
  5. And finally: when the time comes there is a need to actually say goodbye, not see you later.





5 Spiritual Dangers of Skipping Church
-Nathan Rose

1. You will miss out on God’s primary design for your spiritual growth and well-being.

2. You disobey God.

3. You make a statement to the world that God is not worthy of worship.

4. You can’t minister to anyone.

5. You skip out on a foretaste of heaven.


Comments:

There is no danger of skipping church, a relationship with Jesus is everyday, hearing Gods voice is daily, being let by the Holy Spirit is daily. prayer is a daily thing, reading the bible is a daily thing. what is dangerous is Christians who are not in a daily relationship with Jesus, Christians who don't spend time alone with Jesus. we are here to share our faith with people who don't know Jesus, we are here to share the love of Christ with them. if we don't receive from his spirit, we can't give out to others, who need to know about him. we are not called to sit in churches, we are called to make disciples.
-Christopher Thompson


Ok, so I am a huge advocate for going to church and I believe that all believers should go to church if they can. With that said, this article is very harsh.

1. "You will miss out on God's primary design for spiritual growth and well being"
OK I can buy that, but what about the shut-ins, the sick, the disabled who are unable to get to church? In theory the church should come to them but we all know that it doesn't.

2. "You disobey God"
Now wait a minute, Hebrews 10 does talk about not forsaking the gathering of ourselves together but it does not specifically state going to church. I DO believe that is a huge hindrance if believers isolate themselves and aren't part of a community of believers, but nowhere does the Bible specifically state the terms under which we are to meet. Again, what about the shut-ins? I DO think that it is a disobedience to not partake of communion and to not follow Jesus' example in meeting with others.

3. "You make a statement to the world that God is not worthy of worship."
OK, maybe so. God isn't worth getting up an hour early to go to church for a couple of hours. Yes, it does tell the world that. And that's something we should be aware of. However, worship is not just a once-a-week thing. Our LIVES should be living and breathing worship to God, which should show people that God is worthy of worship. Our lives should be the example. Not our going to church.

4. "You can't minister to anyone."
This is absolutely 100% NOT true. Has the writer of this article ever experienced the online world? There are thousands of opportunities to minister and serve others online. Social media is one great way to connect with others and minister to them through encouraging, building up, showing grace, and even teaching. It's not the ultimate way, but it is A way. I know a few people who don't go to church, and while I wish they would, they still minister to others.

5. "You skip out on a foretaste of heaven"
Yes, this is very true. However, for a lot of people, church comes with a lot of negative connotations and experiences. Most churches are not a foretaste of heaven because there's judgmentalism or cliques. If you find a church that isn't like that, congratulations. But a lot of people won't.

-Christina Goding


The Bible nowhere tells us to “go to church”. We are the church! Can we really go to ourselves as a church? Scripture does however tell us to become the church and to assemble as a church. Sorry but “go to church” is unscriptural which makes this post unscriptural.
-C-Evan E Eschew

The Selfish Worldly Person

After the death of Saul, David returned from defeating the Amalekites and stayed at Ziklag two days. On the third day a man with torn clothes and dust on his head came from Saul’s camp. When he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. David asked him, “Where have you come from?”

He replied to him, “I’ve escaped from the Israelite camp.”

“What was the outcome? Tell me,” David asked him.

“The troops fled from the battle,” he answered. “Many of the troops have fallen and are dead. Also, Saul and his son Jonathan are dead.”

David asked the young man who had brought him the report, “How do you know Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?”

“I happened to be on Mount Gilboa,” he replied, “and there was Saul, leaning on his spear. At that very moment the chariots and the cavalry were closing in on him. When he turned around and saw me, he called out to me, so I answered: I’m at your service. He asked me, ‘Who are you?’ I told him: I’m an Amalekite. Then he begged me, ‘Stand over me and kill me, for I’m mortally wounded, but my life still lingers.’ So I stood over him and killed him because I knew that after he had fallen he couldn’t survive. I took the crown that was on his head and the armband that was on his arm, and I’ve brought them here to my lord.”

Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and all the men with him did the same. They mourned, wept, and fasted until the evening for those who died by the sword—for Saul, his son Jonathan, the Lord’s people, and the house of Israel.

David inquired of the young man who had brought him the report, “Where are you from?”

“I’m the son of a resident alien,” he said. “I’m an Amalekite.”

David questioned him, “How is it that you were not afraid to lift your hand to destroy the Lord’s anointed?” Then David summoned one of his servants and said, “Come here and kill him!” The servant struck him, and he died. For David had said to the Amalekite, “Your blood is on your own head because your own mouth testified against you by saying, ‘I killed the Lord’s anointed.’”
-2 Samuel 1:1-16

I came across this story, of the Amalekite man who killed Saul.  It is a curious story to ponder.  What is the lesson here?

The Amalekites were bad, evil people.  Amalek was the grandson of Esau.  There is a lineage of earthiness.  Augustine said that Amalekites represented the city of the world and Israel represented the city of God.(1)

The heritage or culture of Amalekites was self-interest.  They were a mercenary people.  In Jewish tradition, Amalekites represent pure evil in that they are anti-faith or cynical.(1)

Amalekites are purely driven by self-interest.  They have no faith in God nor others, but live with eyes of doubt.  Lying, cheating, stealing, and killing is their way.

The default communication way for an Amalekite is to lie.  The way of self interest is so pervasive, that there is a delusion where they don't realize that someone, like David, is going to smell a lie.

Part of this story is that whether or not the report was a fabrication, it was wrong to kill Saul.  This is how David sees it, even as being the person that Saul wanted to kill.  And David was a killer, a killing machine warrior.

But there is a difference between killing in warfare and murder.  And even when a man tries to kill you, who has been anointed by God and still stands in a place or role that was given by God, even if it has been rescinded by God; it is never right to kill him.

The previous account of Saul and Jonathan's deaths, in 1 Samuel 31, just say they were killed in the battle.  Knowing that cynical lying is the default for Amalekites, our best guess is that this man's story was a fabrication.  And his words instruct us about what someone is like, who is wholly given over to selfish, self-interest.

These notes about this passage, and this man, the Amalekite, are copied here from a scholar named D. Fraser.

Seven aspects of selfish craft:

1. Dominant selfishness. He is supremely concerned about his own interest. Self-love is an original principle of our nature, and, when properly regulated, points in the direction of virtue and happiness. But it easily degenerates into selfishness, "the source of all the sins of omission and commission which are found in the world." And when a man comes under the dominion of the latter, he may sink into any depth of meanness.

2. Subtle scheming. Amidst the dying and the dead, after the battle, his only thought is of gain; and, having plundered the fallen king of the regalia, he coolly calculates how he may dispose thereof to the greatest advantage; and then hastens a long distance across the country to one whom he expects to find ready to welcome the prospect of his own elevation by an enemy's death, and to pay him "the wages of unrighteousness."

3. Feigned sympathy. He comes into the presence of David "with the marks of distress and dismay - dust and clay smeared over his face, and his clothes torn" - on account of the disaster which has befallen Israel (1 Samuel 4:12). But how little does his appearance correspond with the feelings of his heart! "Self-love sometimes borrows the face of honest zeal" (Hall).

4. Obsequious homage. "He fell to the earth, and did obeisance;" prostrating himself before the rising sun of the new era with abject, insincere, and wicked mind. "To those who are distinguished in the kingdom of God as specially called and favoured instruments of grace, falsehood and hypocrisy draw near most pressingly and corruptingly in the guise of humility and self-abasement" (Erdmann).

5. Plausible lying. (Vers. 6-9.) He artfully mingles falsehood with the truth he utters, for the sake of enhancing the value of his good offices. If he had been satisfied with simply telling the tidings of the death of Saul, all would have been well with him; but by his gratuitous inventions he entangles himself in a dangerous snare.

6. Unconscious self-accusation. "I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen" (ver. 10). He accuses himself in the excuses he makes for his conduct. Qui s'excuse s'accuse. Even the request of Saul would not have justified his act or absolved him from responsibility. And how could he be sure that the wounded king could not live? Even the most hardened villain deems it needful to endeavour to palliate his offence. And he who is solely intent upon his own interest often makes admissions that clearly reveal his guilt.

7. Fatal miscalculation. He judges of the character of another by his own, meets with a generosity, loyalty, and justice which he cannot understand, fails of his purpose, and receives a reward which he did not anticipate. "The incident gives us the opportunity of marking the immense difference in the order of mind and character which may subsist between two individuals brought together by one event, and having their attention occupied by one and the same object" (J.A. Miller, 'Saul'). "He taketh the wise in their own craftiness" (Job 5:13). "The wicked is snared in the work of his own hands" (Psalm 9:16; Proverbs 6:15; Proverbs 18:7).


_______________________________________
1. Amalek and Spiritual Warfare, John J. Parsons

Sky Links, 4-28-18

Spacebridge by longobord CC 2.0


How to Lose a Pastor in Ten Years
-Lisa Whittle

It might disappoint you to know I don’t want to talk about Bill Hybels.

I’ve been his daughter. I’ve lived the hard road of the public scathing aftermath, and I know what it feels like to have your world turned upside down by printed articles and public commentaries.

No matter how old you get or how many people know your father’s name, to you, he’s just “Dad.” And the man who held you when you had a bad dream at night is the man you know.

Jim Reimer was the everyman but then again, he wasn’t. He was a blue jeans- and boots-wearing, down-to-earth fighter of the underdog. Like many bright lights, it was easy to stammer over your sentences when he came around.

A room didn’t stand a chance when Dad walked in; all the oxygen became his. I’ve never known anyone with more command or charisma.

And yet, I’ve never known anyone more complicated or tender.

Because for all that bravado, he was as fragile as a reef. Turns out, the tough guy isn’t necessarily the one who never breaks.

I watched him silently beg people to treat him like the normal man he was. But that was hard for us all.

The story is too long, but the abbreviated version is this: he lost his church over some tax trouble and wound up in a two-year sabbatical living out on a gravel road in a travel trailer. Those of us who loved him most cried ourselves to sleep at night, begging God to visit Him in the dark...



-Maybe the best thing we can do to help our pastors is to stop being so impressed by them. They take the stage, preach the Word of God, and shepherd people. It’s a position that deserves honor and respect.  

But save the awe for God.

-A lot of our “pastor worship” isn’t about the pastor at all. It’s about our desire to get near someone who stands in the spotlight. We want to be near someone who others want to know. But we do this at the pastor’s expense.

-One the cruelest realities for pastors is how quickly they can be loved, then left. It plays into every insecurity, fear, and pressure to perform.

In the face of their humanity and struggle, those who once sang their praises now curse their name. Pastors live with this constant awareness, and it deepens their daily pressure.

-I will never understand what often happens when pastors leave a pulpit in scandal and disgrace: The people left behind pretend they never existed.

-No pastor is your God.

They are human, flesh, fallible, and can get entangled in sin—just like you and me. Believe the best about your pastor, but also understand he is capable of fleshly things.

A pastor’s failure can’t change what you know to be true about the truth, goodness, holiness and character of God and His sovereign ordination of the Church, which does not change despite human lapse.



Divine Response to Iranian Threats: Sandstorms and Earthquakes
-Adam Am Eliyahu Berkowitz 

An Iranian threat against Israel last week was answered immediately from above with a massive sandstorm. If the message was not entirely clear, two days later, the Iranian nuclear reactor was hit by an earthquake at the same time Jews in Israel were celebrating their Independence Day.

Rabbi Yosef Dayan, a member of the nascent Sanhedrin (Biblically mandated court of 71 elders) and a descendant of King David, noted that it should be clear to everyone around the world that this storm in Iran was divine intervention.

“My first reaction when I saw reports of the storm was to thank God because this was clearly straight from Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’),” Rabbi Dayan told Breaking Israel News.

Recent tensions between Israel and Iran came to a head on April 16 when Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi told reporters in a weekly meeting in Tehran that Israel was doomed.

“The Zionist entity will sooner or later receive the necessary response and will regret its misdeeds,” Qasemi said.

Though the Iranian minister’s threat was predicted to come to fruition at an unspecified point in the future, an emphatic divine response immediately followed in the form of an unusual natural phenomenon. On the same day that the foreign ministry predicted Israel’s ultimate demise, a huge sandstorm engulfed an entire province in the center of Iran, battering the region with 60 mph sand-laden winds. There were no injuries or major damages reported as a result of the storm, but even the Iranian media recognized the exceptional nature of the event with headlines calling the storm, “apocalyptic.”




How to Achieve a Better Mix for Your Worship Band [Podcast]
-Kade Young

In the podcast, we talk practical tips for achieving a better sound in worship. Take a listen – you’ll enjoy it!

What We Talk About
  • How to get great sound while keeping it simple
  • How to make vocals sound great
  • Foundational EQ Techniques
  • How to create a mix from the ground up
  • Using the Behringer X32 in worship