The Feudal System Lives On In Church Culture

A strange conversation can be heard in most church parking lots on most Sundays. It goes like this; “Did you get fed this week?”
“Yes I did, I loved what the pastor had to say.”

Or perhaps; “Did you get fed this week?”
“No not really, if it carries on like this we may have to go to another church.”

These startling expressions of dependence upon the pastor represent a deep malady in the American church. I call it Spiritual Feudalism because of the ‘peasant talk’ it uses and the ‘serf mentality’ it reveals.

Do you put your pastor in the role of a feudal lord?

Do you function with the a ‘serf mentality’?

Do you use ‘peasant talk’?


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How To Turn Boys Into Godly Men

Boys don’t enter the world knowing how to be godly men; they have to be trained into it. Of course, the primary training role for that formation should be the boy’s father. He is to disciple his son every day in the Word of the Lord and in the pattern of godly living.

But while godly fathers are by far the best disciplers of young men into Christ-like manhood, spiritual fathers can play a vital role as well. This is where a mentor, a pastor, or a discipler can step in and take the young man beyond where his father has left off. In a day of rampant absenteeism among biological fathers, the next generation of spiritual leaders is yearning for godly men to step up and serve as an adoptive spiritual father.

Discipling eager young men for future leadership in the home and the church is one of the most sweetly rewarding aspects of ministry that I’ve ever encountered.


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Fight Abortion By Telling Stories Of Abortion

Stories are the beginnings of conversations.

The pro-choice movement’s new-found interest in the testimony powerfully reveals the truth that everyone is longing for a place that feels like home, a place to be validated, known through and through, and loved unconditionally. By opening conversation space for post-abortive voices, they have acknowledged that those impacted by abortion are, perhaps especially, in search of such a safe haven.

The church could be this safe haven. Jesus is the ultimate and perfect safe haven. We should not miss this moment.

What storytelling does is give us insight into the contexts and circumstances, the mindset and needs, that lead to abortion. Storytelling can prepare us to intervene and assist in the crucial moments before a woman’s decision. And storytelling helps us better understand the post-abortive reality and how we can speak the truth and healing of Christ over these lives.


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Overnighters: A Modern Day Parable Of Loving The Unlovable

What do we do with the people who are seemingly beyond repair? Where is the church in the ministry to the most broken in our world, the ones who will never have the traditional redemption story, who will never be self-supporting, who always fall by the wayside of addiction and rootlessness?

I am reminded of David. Not the handsome boy-king who saved everyone, but the adulterer, the murderer, the warlord, the absentee dad, the unhinged. God consistently uses the most broken, damaged people to bring his kingdom. In the end, the very worst parts in ourselves can become the very place from which love and empathy flow freely.


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Jesus Kept The Sabbath Holy While Pharisees Missed The Point

The original instructions of the Sabbath lead us not into hunger, neglect of ourselves and others, prolonged illness or condemnation as the rabbinic law did, but just the opposite:  joy, healing, building up ourselves and others, intimacy with God and abundant life.  I can attest to this in my own observance of the Sabbath.

The Sabbath is just one example of how God’s law brings abundant life.  Instead of a day of don’ts and can’ts that the scribes and Pharisees had made it, Jesus showed us the true meaning and intent of the Sabbath — a day to sit at his feet and receive his life, not depriving ourselves or others, but planning ahead to take a day in which we put away our own pursuits and pursue only God.

In all his comments regarding the Sabbath, Jesus was dividing truth from deception, separating God’s instructions from man’s.  This is what we are required to do today:  Read the instructions for ourselves and follow God’s leading instead of man’s.


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Deny Your Children And Take Up Your Cross!

They say, “Moms, because we are women–nay, not mere women but Wise Western Women–we can change the world, but we need to take up our crosses, and deny our children in order to do it.”

Christians, let the World’s women do whatever mental gymnastics they require to convince themselves that charity begins halfway across the world. We have an Example set for us, for all time. Jesus didn’t save his children by leaving them. He saved them by joining them in their muck, their diseases, and finally their deaths. If we want to do real charity, we have to do the same.

But this thoroughly secular idea that we can adequately serve other people without first keeping our own homes in order is a lie, for while we’re off saving the world, Satan is devouring the next generation. How are we going to save Haiti when we can’t even understand the vulnerability of the souls in our very own homes?


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God Commiserates When You Are Angry At Injustice

I got angry at others who did not feel the same as me—all of those nice people on Facebook and Pinterest and Instagram, living their normal lives while everyone I knew was falling apart. I tried to poke sticks at other people, bring up genocides and conflicts and statistics on poverty and racism. I wanted them to bleed like I was bleeding too. I wanted others to be overwhelmed, just as I was.

But soon enough, I found them. My tribe. The crazy emotional, the broken, the ridiculous, the happy-one-minute-sobbing-into-their-coffee-the-next tribe. I found people who very much believed in God and got very very angry with him at the state of the world. I found them in the place I least expected, the place I was scared to go all along. I found them in the Bible.


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How To Fail At Making Disciples

We need to remember that God is inviting people into Jesus’ story. As important as we might think we are, we only serve as the go-between. We are called/commanded to go out and live on mission. As we live as missionaries in the world, we find those people that God is inviting and then we connect them to His story.

The typical model I’ve seen is to get people to buy into the grace God extends through Jesus (evangelism) and then tell them everything they must do as believers (discipleship)! What a crappy model! Not only is it wrong, but it sets people up for a life of bondage to religious behavior.


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How The Church Can Help Heal The Abuser And The Abused

In more than a decade of research, almost every article I’ve come across addressing sex offenders in church communities reveals pastors and leaders focusing exclusively on the sex offenders—the theological grounds for their presence, the church’s obligation to care for them, how to support them, how to monitor them, how to protect ministries from potential lawsuits due to their presence, and so on—at the expense of the victims/survivors and those who love them.

But offenders are not the only ones in need of a welcome in our churches. Too often when victims/survivors are considered, it is offender focused. Survivors are told they are required to forgive or reconcile with offenders. They are subject to shaming, silencing, and the policing of their emotions and tones by those who feel entitled to advise or rebuke them. Such pressure toward reconciliation is often shortsighted and lacking in compassion.

It is time to move toward balance by shifting focus to the victims/survivors. The reality of sexual abuse dynamics means that if we want safe communities for victims/survivors and healthy communities for recovering sex offenders then we must find true empathy for victims/survivors and how sexual abuse has affected them.


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How Islam Will Win The [Demographic] War

A declining fertility rate in our culture is evidence that we have, as a culture, devalued children and family. We have done so to a point that our very future is now in question, though we may not realize it yet. One culture that is going against this trend is the Muslim culture. In countries all around the world, Muslim populations are gradually becoming the majority, no weapons or violence necessary. Muslims will become a dominant force in the world simply by maintaining a strong belief in the power of multi-generational family while the rest of the world squanders its fertility in preference of other short-sighted goals. The changing demographics are a consequence of different values and worldview.


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How To Raise Godly Kids Without Going To Church

According to Scripture, it is the parent’s responsibility to raise up their children and teach them about God, but our modern way of doing church relinquishes these things to 45 minutes on Sunday morning and Wednesday night, in a building with a (generally) controlled environment, and to a person we don’t really know.

Isn’t that crazy?

How did we go from “Train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov 22:6) and “Teach these things to your children … ” (Deut 6:7; 11:19) to asking, “So what did you learn in Sunday school today?” on the drive home from church?


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More Bricks, Less Straw, Equals Less Worship

All overworked people know the refrain: More bricks, less straw.

And what’s interesting to note in Pharaoh’s reaction is that he assumes that a request for worship is symptomatic of laziness.

What I find interesting in all this is how the worship of God is perceived to interrupt the work and quotas demanded by Pharaoh. The tension, at least here in the beginning of Exodus, isn’t the clash between slavery and liberation but the clash between worship and work.


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Public Violence Against Christians In The Middle East Opens Doors For The Gospel

The beheadings by the Islamic State in Libya have resulted in unprecedented sympathy for Egypt’s Christians, who are increasingly finding common identity across denominational lines. The martyrdoms have also allowed Copts a platform to witness to the realities of their faith, as they publicly forgave the terrorists.



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It’s Dangerous To Assume People Know The Gospel

The tips and techniques of Christian tutors aren’t bad, but they obscure the intent of the law; they encourage The Little Engine That Could thinking—“I think I can, I think I can”—instead of driving us to God as we realize, “I’m pretty sure I can’t.”

When Jesus expounded the law about adultery (Matt. 5:27-28), he didn’t offer “Five Steps to Safeguard Your Marriage.” He was saying, “You’ve already committed adultery in your heart; you don’t need new rules, you need a new heart. You need God.”


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You Can’t Childproof The World But You Can Worldproof Your Child

My 8 year old looked at me with her deep brown eyes and said, “The world is scary.”

I turned the TV off and wondered how to teach my kids about real love-the kind that makes us pray for our neighbors in the war on terror while shutting out the lure of our anything-goes culture.

It hit close to home. And it made me long for another home. Because I can’t protect my kids from the world we live in.


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Is Ministry For The Professionals Or The Body?

Pastors are under a lot of pressure.

In most churches today, we employ one person (or a small team) to do the job of many. The Bible tells us that God “ordained some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, some to be pastors, some to be teachers.” And yet, we position pastors to be all of these things at once.

The church already has everything it needs. We cannot outsource the work of the combined church to one individual, no matter how talented they may be.


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ISIS: An Opportunity To Pray For Those Who Persecute You

While it may be difficult for us in the West to know how to respond to ISIS, the families of the slain are faithfully practicing Jesus’ teaching to love your enemies. The brother of two of the slain men tells in this interview how his family is rejoicing in this opportunity to see the kingdom of God amid the grief. He does not grieve as one who has no hope.


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We Don’t Know How To Respond To ISIS Because We Don’t Understand It

Many in the West are confused about how to respond appropriately to the grizzly scenes of Islamic terror littering the headlines these days. The confusion comes from a general ignorance about the teachings of Islam and of the goals driving the efforts of the jihadists. The Atlantic recently published a lengthy exploration of the beliefs and goals of modern day Islamic groups in order to reduce our collective ignorance and to make suggestions about what a more informed response to Islam might look like for Western nations. The article is quite long, but well worth the read for anyone seeking to get more informed about Islam in our world. Click the “Read More” button below to read the article in its entirety.

“Our ignorance of the Islamic State is in some ways understandable: It is a hermit kingdom; few have gone there and returned. We can gather that their state rejects peace as a matter of principle; that it hungers for genocide; that its religious views make it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change, even if that change might ensure its survival; and that it considers itself a harbinger of—and headline player in—the imminent end of the world.

We have misunderstood the nature of the Islamic State in at least two ways. First, we tend to see jihadism as monolithic, and to apply the logic of al‑Qaeda to an organization that has decisively eclipsed it. We are misled in a second way, by a well-intentioned but dishonest campaign to deny the Islamic State’s medieval religious nature. In fact, much of what the group does looks nonsensical except in light of a sincere, carefully considered commitment to returning civilization to a seventh-century legal environment, and ultimately to bringing about the apocalypse.”


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Pope Francis Called Our Generation Selfish – What If He’s Right?

Pope Francis recently spoke blasphemy to a generation that is obsessed with self-esteem and self-fulfillment. He said that people who choose not to have children are selfish:

“A society with a greedy generation, that doesn’t want to surround itself with children, that considers them above all worrisome, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society. The choice to not have children is selfish.”

The pope’s statement has people up in arms because it’s true. The fact that millions of people are extremely upset by this proves the truth of the statement.


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ISIS Beheaded 21 People Of The Cross But The Story Isn’t Over Yet

When the day is done and last of the lights are turned out and my head hits the pillow, all I can think of is the faces of The 21 and their surrendered heads, their heads carrying the full reality of the Cross. How the People of the Cross have let themselves be chained to petty and purposeless things instead of praying for the Persecuted Church in chains. How the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church.

How once when I was a little girl, I tried to behead a dandelion in full orb and if you behead a dandelion in full head — you send a thousand more bravely out on the wind.


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American Sniper Raises Important Questions About Use Of Language

“Savage” is the term that some Christians, or simply Westerners, used to justify their colonial conquest of indigenous peoples who didn’t have the proper sort of cultures, forms of dress, or skin colors. Without sitting on too high of a horse as we look back on our forebears, we have to remember that some considered it part of the White Man’s Burden to conquer the savages, educate them, and give them the Truth of Western culture so that they might not have to dwell in the darkness of their former bestiality. If some had to be killed, enslaved, or tortured in order for that to happen, well, so be it. Cultural heroism required bearing a heavy load and doing what is necessary to ennoble humanity as a whole.


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Science Used To Think God Was Dead, Now It Proves He’s Necessary

In this video, Eric Metaxas tells the story of how scientific certainty of life on other planets has dwindled over the years. Recent discoveries have shown that the fine tuning needed for the universe to exist at all, much less the life in it, is so incredibly precise that no belief in chance existence is tenable. Thus, science is not proving the death of God but the necessity of God. (more…)

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And God Said, “Let There Be Laundry”

Many years ago my church was pondering how to create a “third space” in our neighborhood. A third space is a place where people can mix on a regular basis, a place that is relaxed and non-threatening. A lot of people feel intimidated walking into a church. A third space, it was hoped, would be a non-religious place where relationships with neighbors could be formed.

A lot of churches have created third spaces by starting up a coffee shop. That’s a great idea, but coffee shops tend to be a part of affluent White culture. The working poor don’t hang out in coffee shops with their Mac laptops. Nor can they afford $4 specialty drinks.


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How The Church Shot Itself In The Foot Amid The Culture Wars

When Rome commandeered Christianity, it affixed to the faith something it was never meant to be marked by: Power.

That power, and the privilege, and ease, and comfort, and influence that came with it, at once became synonymous with the Christian faith. A movement that began as the very antidote to status, position, might, and social inequality; suddenly became the establishment, it became the norm, it became the very culture that Jesus pushed so hard against.

Modern Evangelical Christianity, especially in America, is up against a true identity crisis.


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Control Is An Illusion, Striving For It Is Rebellion

Freedom, TRUE freedom, is understanding how out of control we are and then placing our faith in a God who has NEVER ceased to maintain control over what He has created.

So… to everyone who feels like you are out of control…it’s because YOU ARE!!! And, the more we try to control the more likely we are to live in complete rebellion to the one who is in control, who has all things in His hands and who constantly calls us to surrender to Him so that we can experience the joy of living under HIS Sovereignty rather than having to constantly discover that we have none of our own!


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Like Everyone, John Wesley Had Some Weird Ideas

“If there were wanted two apostles to be added to the number of the twelve, I do not believe that there could be found two men more fit to be so added than George Whitefield and John Wesley.”

~ Charles Spurgeon

Nevertheless, Wesley – like every other servant of God – had feet of clay. And he also held to some strange views. Here are some surprising beliefs that Wesley advocated…


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False Doctrine Doesn’t Make You A Heretic, Divisiveness Does

So, in the New Testament sense of the word, “heresy” was the creation of a division, a sect, a faction, or a party. For this reason, the author of Acts uses the word to describe the different sects within Judaism (Acts 5:17; 15:5; 24:5; 14; 26:5; 28:22).

“Heresy” involved the dividing of a local assembly, not the rightness or wrongness of what the dividing party believed.

It’s true, of course, that a heresy could be created by someone pushing a false teaching on a local assembly, causing it to divide. Peter alludes to this when he warns that false teachers will secretly come into the church and introduce damnable heresies (2 Peter 2:1).


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People Can Change Because God Changes People

In honor of Throwback Thursday, we are remembering that a Christian is someone who believes people can change

Once we are labelled, once that sin is attached to you, it is seemingly impossible to break free from it.  Even when the label no longer fits.  Even when you have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus, and have spiritually matured in Christ and repented of these things, and moved on in the power of the Holy Spirit toward Christ-likeness…they can still haunt you.  Reputations are nasty, icky, sticky things.

Some people don’t want to believe that people can change. But people do change, because God changes people.


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The Gospel Does Not Help Us With Self-Esteem

The gospel is difficult yet the burden is light; the gate is narrow yet the invitation is wide. Christianity has never been about self-attainment (that would be a heavy burden); it has always been about self-denial (and thus the narrow gate).

It is only when we let go that we can receive. God wishes to pour out in abundance a stream of living water of God-esteem in our hearts. We simply must release self-esteem.


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Silence In A Loud World: The First Step Toward Wisdom

Someone once said that “wisdom cries aloud in the street,” but I can’t hear her over the buzz of my iPhone, the hum of music in the background, and last night’s Colbert Report. But what if I began to consult with wisdom, shrieking in the street, and asked her what counsel she would give us as we consider the relationship between silence and wisdom? What might Sophia say?

If we listened to the cry of wisdom, we might hear her singing the praises of silence. Wisdom requires silence to flourish. In order for wisdom to characterize how we speak about love, suffering, truth, goodness, and beauty, we must learn how and when to shut out and when to shut up.


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School Shootings Are The Fruit Of A Culture Obsessed With Self-Esteem

So, what causes someone to pick up a gun, walk on to a school campus, and start shooting people?

One researcher has argued that “modern society, with its emphasis on individualism and the pursuit of material happiness, fosters narcissism.” And, in the suburban settings where nearly all the shootings have taken place, “self-worth is defined by the likes of socioeconomic status, achievements in competitive academics and athletics, and fashion.”

In this culture of narcissism, “affronts to self-esteem can be equated with threats to our very survival and … the typical response to such narcissistic injuries is a desire for revenge.”


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Discrediting The Accredited: Why Bible College Might Not Be So Awesome

No amount of study can prepare you for what the Bible actually is: it is alive, it is real, and it will slice your heart to shreds. Together, my neighbor and I, two opposites on the extreme poles of privilege in America, together we let the Bible read us.

In many ways, I am unlearning much of what was taught to me in higher education. Here, in the actual land of immigrants and poor and tired and huddled masses, neither test scores nor pitch-perfect doctrines matter much at all. I was trained to believe that those who were more educated had a civic duty to go out and teach those who were not. Stratification as a result of education ensued; hierarchy was not merely encouraged, but considered biblical.


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The Problem With Making Bible Characters Moral Exemplars

I question our practice of painting biblical heroes more heroically than the Bible does. Hiding the faults of our heroes robs us of grace. That’s why the Bible doesn’t hide them.

Why do we want our heroes to be better than they really are? Because we think we are better than we really are. We would see more of God’s transforming grace if we spent more time acknowledging our own failures, just like the Bible does of its heroes.


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Worshiptainment: The Bane Of The Church

The great heresy of the church today is that we think we’re in the entertainment business. A.W. Tozer believed this to be true back in the 1950s and 60s. Church members “want to be entertained while they are edified.” He said that in 1962. Tozer grieved, even then, that it was “scarcely possible in most places to get anyone to attend a meeting where the only attraction was God.”



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Church’s Confusion About Its Identity Leads To Confusion About How To Belong

Sometimes the world can feel overwhelming, especially among the younger people of my generation. There’s a really deep need to find our place in it. But it’s often the case that the institutions that used to broker connections—institutions like the church—are losing their influence.

We’ve forgotten how to belong—to institutions, to one another—and we need to recover some basic practices that remind us of our interdependence. The church could be a really rich place for that, but it can be confused about its identity, which makes young people like myself more confused about where to seek belonging.


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Men Are Sick Of Feminized Faith

The dominant narrative at the moment is that, while church attendance is down across the board, men in particular are staying home on Sunday mornings. And while there has been much hand-wringing over this reality, there has, to my knowledge, been very little serious introspection over it.

Too often, when we talk about “attracting men” to church, what we mean is tricking men to walk in the door by baptizing whatever infantilized conceptions of masculinity the broader culture has invented.


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Worship Is More Than Singing Songs

Real worship is more than singing praises; it is the act of giving away our hearts. Worship is attributing ultimate value to something; it thinks, “If I had that I’d be happy;” it is a deep belief of the heart that says, “That is all I need.”

Worship is what we most deeply value. It’s not just the times we set aside to sing praise songs. We are constantly worshipping. Moment-by-moment, we live for something. “Where our treasure is, there will our hearts and minds be also.”


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Can We Question 6 Day Creation Without Questioning The Creator?

R. C. Sproul, who drafted the original Chicago Statement of Biblical Inerrancy, once said, “When people ask me how old the earth is, I tell them I don’t know—because I don’t.”

Contrary to what is often implied or claimed by young-earth creationists, the Bible nowhere directly teaches the age of the earth.


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Finding Purpose In The Grief Of Miscarriage

I felt close to the suffering Savior who had experienced even more excruciating pain for me, not because he lost a child, but because he gave his all to bring lost children home.

He gives purpose to our suffering (Romans 8:28). My miscarriage didn’t happen in a vacuum. Both my child and I were created in God’s image, designed for his glory. My intentions for my child’s life were not the Lord’s intentions, and my timetable was not his timetable.


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Imitating Christ, The Suffering Servant

The only Christian theodicy which I find credible is the confession that God does not exempt himself from the horror of human suffering, but is fully baptized into it. God in Christ joins us in a solidarity of suffering, and somehow by his wounds we are healed. Christ saves us from sin and death only by hurling himself into the abyss. The ultimate imitation of Christ is to patiently absorb sin and offer pardon in the name of love. This is grace.


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Untangling The Theological Knot Of Election In Romans 9

When it comes to understanding Romans 9, there are three keys which I have found helpful in explaining what Paul is teaching in this text.

Since it is the purposes of God that determine who gets elected and to what form of service they are elected, then it is God who decides when He needs to call individuals and when He needs to call nations or groups of people to perform certain tasks.


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Frank Viola Explains The Christian’s Relationship To The Sabbath Command

Resting in the finished work of our Lord is the basis of all spiritual life and work. Only those who rest in God’s promises and cease from their own efforts can receive God’s righteousness, peace, and joy.

The Sabbath day command was an ordinance that foreshadowed the coming rest in God’s kingdom that Jesus Christ would bring (Heb. 4). Christ, in essence, is our Sabbath rest.

God’s desire is that we enter into this spiritual rest now, rather than try to keep the letter of the seventh day command. His aim is that we keep the substance of the Sabbath rather than its shadow. The Sabbath is about a Person, not a day.

The true Sabbath is the kingdom of God that is among us right now, and it will one day be manifested for all to see.


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Kingdom Work Is Not Identical With Western Development

In the video above, Brian Fikkert points out how Western notions of success are flawed and lead to a failure to promote human flourishing. In complement to the video, Joshua Butler explains in the article below that we in the West often get confused about what constitutes kingdom work because of our devotion to Western ideals…

I’ve noticed an increasing tendency for Western Christians to identify “kingdom work” with Western development. I’d simply like to make a few practical observations on ways the church might actually be strategically positioned in communities for holistic transformation (ways we might easily miss if too fixated on our Western idols).


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Foster Care Is A Window Into The Gospel

Opening your heart to love any child is risky and requires a loss of self. Opening your heart and home to a foster child may seem especially risky. But in losing ourselves, we gain. We grow in understanding how Jesus loved us and gave himself up for us. In seeking to love sacrificially, we pray others will see a picture of the gospel and be drawn to Christ.


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Jesus Never Told Us To Plant Churches

We have a poor understanding of the local church. We operate from a poor definition of church planter. We have a poor understanding of our Commission.  We act as if Jesus has commanded us to plant churches.  We are commanded to make disciples.  It is out of disciple making that churches are to be birthed.  The weight of the biblical model rests here.  Not transfer growth. Not acrimonious splits. It is evangelism that results in disciples, who covenant together to be and function as the local expression of the Body of Christ.


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God Loves A Cheerful Tither, Right?

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” – Upton Sinclair

Does the Bible teach us to tithe? Are we spiritually obligated to fund the pastor and his staff?

Giving in the NT was according to one’s ability. Christians gave to help other believers as well as to support apostolic workers, enabling them to travel and plant churches. One of the most outstanding testimonies of the early church has to do with how liberal the Christians were to the poor and needy.


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How To Have A Conversation With God

If our best memories of our earthly fathers are conversations not sermons, why do we think our heavenly Father (who is better than the best earthly father) wants mostly to lecture? “Will not our heavenly Father give good things to us when we ask?” Would we want it any other way?

We most frequently seek God’s voice during times of crisis. “I’m in trouble; I need direction!” The thing is, until we have learned to recognize his quiet voice in the humdrum of life, what chance do we have of distinguishing his voice in the maelstrom of crisis?


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C.S. Lewis Did Not Like Church

The idea of churchmanship was to be wholly unattractive. I was not in the least anticlerical, but I was deeply antiecclesiastical.

It was, to begin with, a kind of collective; a wearisome “get-together” affair. I couldn’t yet see how a concern of that sort should have anything to do with one’s spiritual life. To me, religion ought to have been a matter of good men praying alone and meeting by twos and threes to talk of spiritual matters.


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Free Speech Is About The Right To Be Right

I think it’s time, fellow Christians, that we stop simply asserting that these various public figures have a “right” to their views on sexuality, and instead start exclaiming, in a loud and clear voice, that these people are also right in having those views. They have right to the views, yes, but their views are also right. And the fact that their views are right is no small detail. What makes the censorship of Christian philosophy so insidious is not that it’s simply unconstitutional, it’s that it silences the truth.


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Biblical Shadows Reveal Spiritual Realities

Clearly, one of the New Testament writers’ favorite images for relating the truth of the Gospel in the NT to the revelation of the Old Testament was that of “types” and “shadows.” The images are rich, intuitive, and quite helpful in explaining the issue of continuity between the Old Testament and the New.

Classically, Christian theologians have seen God’s history with Israel, the signs, the symbols, Temple, Tabernacle, priesthood, kingship, and the whole of it, as the divinely-intended matrix of meaning prepared with care for Jesus’ entrance into the world. Jesus fulfills the promises and signs God has made to Israel, just as he said and predicted. It is God, so to speak, setting his own expectations for what he’s going to do to save Israel.


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Good Discipleship Results In Maturity

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about spiritual formation and discipleship, and rightfully so. I think we can all agree there’s a discipleship deficit in evangelicalism. Perhaps the elephant in the room is that there isn’t a whole lot of discipling going on, even though that’s precisely what we, as Jesus’ followers, were commissioned to do.

First, we have to recognize that maturity is the goal of discipleship.


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13 Marks Of A Mission-Minded Person

Mission-minded people are different. That’s it. Somehow they manage to see the world from another perspective. The things they do and the decisions they make are just different than what other people would usually do.

You can find them in your church, place of work or coaching Little League. They are aware of the power of the Gospel to change lives. They know that even the smallest actions can demonstrate the grace and mercy of God. So, what do mission-minded people actually do that’s different?


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Why Christians Should Care About Design

Why, you ask, should design matter more to Christians?

If we are to believe the New Testament, that through Christ, God is reconciling all creation, things on earth as well as things in heaven (see, for instance, Colossians 1:19-20), there is nothing that can be taken for granted. The design and form of our work bears witness to what we believe, just as much as the content of the work.


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How Hospitality Hits The Heart

“You all have a place to belong,” she said. “You are a part of each other. In your home is everything a person could want or need—food, friendship, spiritual encouragement, rest, comfort, and fun—it’s all here. I want a place to belong, a people to be a part of, but I never really thought they existed, except in storybooks.”

It was not a beautiful house or organizational systems that spoke to her need. But, it was the heart of our home, the love, the comfort and warmth, the acceptance, the spiritual and intellectual connection that invited her into our haven where she might find refuge from life.


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Ben Witherington Responds To Newsweek’s Article On The Bible

Kurt Eichenwald’s article rips the Bible using 19th-century arguments (all of which have been refuted long ago) alleging that the Bible is full of contradictions, serious manuscript variations, and false additives, thus making it an untrustworthy document.

Then, in a stroke of hand-waving sophistry, the article asserts that it’s not attacking the Bible, only how Christians read it. Those who are well-versed in biblical scholarship will see right through the article and the yellow journalism that floods it.


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Science Once Declared God Dead, Now It Declares Him Necessary

Oxford professor Dr. John Lennox has said “the more we get to know about our universe, the more the hypothesis that there is a Creator . . . gains in credibility as the best explanation of why we are here.”

The greatest miracle of all time, without any close seconds, is the universe. It is the miracle of all miracles, one that ineluctably points with the combined brightness of every star to something—or Someone—beyond itself.


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Trusting God Is Scary

But what if the very things I want for my life—including health and wealth—are the worst things for me right now? What if God—filled with love and wisdom—is deliberately, kindly, and gently weaning me from the liquid poison I slurp down every day? What if he does know best?

My battle in life is to believe God loves me more than I do, and he is proving it.


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What Would Happen If We Let Jesus Lead The Church?

Pastor Challenge 2015 — Step aside and let the living Jesus lead at least 1 Sunday morning church meeting all by Himself.

Here’s how:  Begin by reading 1 Corinthians 14:26 to the congregation from a microphone on the floor in front of the platform.  (“What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.”)

Then go sit down in the congregation and watch what God does with ordinary people during the next hour or so.


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Why Believers Be Leaving

There are many Christians who have stopped going to church. They have not given up on God, have not renounced their faith, have not denied Christ, and have not become pagans. They simply are no longer going to church. That this is happening is not a matter of doubt, but why this is happening is in fact a difficult question to answer.

They can’t get enough of genuine Christianity and heartfelt worship. But they have gotten enough of churchianity. They are fed up with a church that increasingly resembles the world more than it does the New Testament.


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Church As Matchmaker: It Takes A Family To Make A Family

It is not good for a man to be alone and he who finds a wife finds goodness, but it takes the beauty of a family to see the goodness far below the surface and in the crevices of these clay jars. Church, be that family, be the mothers and father, the sisters and brothers. Guide them, protect them, show them what is true and good and honorable in marriage, and then, please, help them get there.



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Al Mohler Responds To Newsweek’s Article On The Bible

Newsweek recently published a cover story about the Bible. Prominent Theologian, Al Mohler, offers a response…

Newsweek’s cover story is exactly what happens when a writer fueled by open antipathy to evangelical Christianity tries to throw every argument he can think of against the Bible and its authority. To put the matter plainly, no honest historian would recognize the portrait of Christian history presented in this essay as accurate and no credible journalist would recognize this screed as balanced.


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How To Criticize Church

There comes a point in the journey of every Christian where cynicism starts to look inviting. Even mature.

But there’s a difference between looking for ways to make the Church better and looking for things to complain about. Mature, humble criticism is selfless and redemptive; immature criticism is usually self-focused and doesn’t generally lead to change.

Humble criticism means noticing a problem and articulating solutions instead of looking for problems and wallowing in anger. It means being temporarily disappointed without being permanently disillusioned.


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The Real And Raw Reasons Why People Are Leaving Church

Hey Church, you may think you know why people are leaving you, but I’m not sure you do.

You think it’s because “the culture” is so lost, so perverse, so beyond help that they are all walking away. You believe that they’ve turned a deaf ear to the voice of God; chasing money, and sex, and material things. You think that the gays and the Muslims and the Atheists and the pop stars have so screwed up the morality of the world that everyone is abandoning faith in droves.

But those aren’t the reasons people are leaving you.

They aren’t the problem, Church.


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Correcting Confusion About Angels

With exotic teachings about angels on the rise, we desperately need some biblical guidelines. If you believe everything you hear these days, angels can be huge, tiny, spherical, male, female, feathered or non-feathered. What’s next? Yipping dog angels? Mermaid angels with fins? Court jester angels with bells on their hats?

Since my earliest days in the charismatic movement I was always taught that the Bible is our guidebook for doctrine and practice, and that the early church’s experience in the Book of Acts should be a pattern for us. If we don’t hold tightly to Scripture, we might unknowingly give birth to a cult that could bring great damage and division to churches worldwide. It’s time to get back to the Bible!


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Shabbat Shalom: Finding Peace And Delight In The Sabbath

Keeping the Sabbath “holy”, to me, had always meant going to church on Sunday. But there was nothing particularly sacred or restful about that. I started looking into Hebrew traditions, the roots of our Christian faith. The rules of keeping the Sabbath, the dynamics of the evening meal, and the following day of rest. I came across a verse I’d never read before, in the Old Testament book of Isaiah, where we are promised the joy and blessing of the Lord if we can delight in a day of rest. It didn’t command, simply, that we take a day of rest. It said, “if you call the Sabbath a delight…” Hmm. That sounded intriguing, hopeful, and just what we needed—a whole day to delight in.


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Faith & Works: Partners In The Process Of Salvation

God provided the grace, faith received the gift. Jesus connected personal faith in Him to our eternal salvation. But Jesus also demanded good works to go along with faith.

Then there is St. Paul.  The apostle is known as the foremost advocate of justification by faith. St. Paul is not opposing faith to ethical works but to the “works of the Law.”

When we come to Christ as sinners, we have no works to offer to Him, but only faith and repentance.  But once we come to Him and receive the gift of salvation, we enter into a sacred covenant to honor Him with good works.


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Jesus Shows How It’s Better To Give Than To Receive

David and Caesar wanted to get something—money, fame, new territory, self-esteem. Then Jesus came and showed us what a real leader should look like. He didn’t come to get anything at all. On the contrary. Under the auspices of Caesar’s demonstration of pride, the Christ was born in the humblest of circumstances.

But Jesus’ methods don’t apply just to leaders. He showed what it means to be a human: to live sacrificially, to give and not to receive despite the flesh’s desire for edification.


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Just So You Know: EVERYONE Is Religious

Many in this age of secularism will go about claiming that they are not “religious.” It seems that many believe that a person is not religious as long as they keep their distance from one of the major faith traditions of the world (e.g. Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, etc.). This clever web comic exposes the faulty assumption that subscribing to a major world religion is what makes one religious. In reality, every person who believes something, anything at all, is religious…


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Maybe Our Cultural Holidays Can Be Redeemed For Missional Purposes

Cultural celebrations are not man-made institutions. Like much of God’s creation, holidays can be—and have been—distorted for all sorts of less-than-holy purposes. But what if “Santa” really isn’t an anagram for “Satan”? What if we can can we redeem this holiday season, and use it for God’s work?


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Sometimes Christianity Doesn’t Look Like You Think It Should

Christian subcultures are an entertaining phenomenon. Multiple brands of Christianity claim the same Lord and read the same Bible, and yet they promote a set of values sometimes as different as apples and orangutans.

You cannot sanitize grace. You can’t stuff it into a blue blazer and make it wear khakis. Grace is messy, offensive, and it sometimes misses church. To expect God to pump prefabricated plastic moral people out of a religious factory is to neuter grace and chain it inside a gated community.


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7 Things Every Christian Should Know About Same-Sex Attraction

May I make two requests? Continue to love me, but remember that you cannot be more merciful than God. It isn’t mercy to affirm same-sex acts as good. Practice compassion according to the root meaning of “compassion”: Suffer with me. Don’t compromise truth; help me to live in harmony with it.

I’m asking you to help me take up my cross and follow Jesus.


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Divorcing Kingdom From Cross Makes Bad Theology

Many Christians either cling to the cross or champion the kingdom, usually one to the exclusion of the other. The polarization of these two biblical themes leads to divergent approaches: cross-centered theology that focuses on the salvation of sinners or kingdom-minded activism that seeks to change the world.

How did the church get to this unfortunate place of pitting important biblical doctrines against one another?


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Being The Right Church Is Better Than Griping About The Wrong Church

A very popular phrase I hear is that we are the church. So I would encourage you, if you are dissatisfied with an aspect of your church (not including faulty doctrine, of course) rather than trying to find the right church, ask God to help you forgive your brethren and begin loving on them. Ask Him to help you be the right church.



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You Can Thank Constantine For The Pagan Influence In Christianity

Today’s Throwback Thursday recalls Greg Boyd’s explanation of how Christianity transformed from a community of persecuted, self-sacrificial, loving people into a political power structure under the influence of Constantine in the 4th century. It’s never been the same since.

Note: This video dovetails nicely with another recent entry about the pagan roots of many contemporary practices in Christian circles, including celebrations of christmas and easter.


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4 Bad Reasons For Joining A Church

Like many in my generation, I’ve done some moving around and with each new move I’ve had to begin the difficult process of searching for a new church home. If you’re like most, a day is coming when you too will be on the search for a new church to call home. When that day comes, you may want to think twice before using these all-too-common reasons for making your choice…


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Finding Community In A Consumer Culture

Community is core to the Christian faith. From the very beginning, fellowship and life together have characterized Christ’s disciples. But the centrality of Christian community to the church doesn’t mean that it’s easy—nor does it mean it always looks the same.

Today, as growing numbers of Christians struggle with the weekly gathering of a local church, the number of people attending church, and the frequency with which they’re attending, are declining. So what can leaders—inside and outside formal church contexts—do to foster true community amidst new realities?


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Thank God He’s Not Finished With You

When we fell He didn’t give up on us. Instead He rolled up his sleeves and dusted off His potter’s wheel. He grabbed us formless lumps of clay and got to work. You are an unfinished piece on whom God is still working.

He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Phi. 1:6)

Thank God He’s not finished with you.


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Sunday Sermon: Children Are An Integral Part Of A Worship Gathering

Rob Rienow explains why children should be involved in the gathering of the saints for worship. Believe it or not, this was actually the norm for millennia. It’s only in the last century or so that we had the genius idea to split families apart and do age-segregated ministry. Let’s examine the fruit of that and compare it to the fruit our ancestors saw as they worshipped together as families.

Click the button below to hear the audio of Rob’s message…


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Have A Theology Of “Enough” Especially As Christmas Approaches

Asking if it is okay for Christians to be rich is a strange question. It is like asking if it is okay for Christians to overeat, or watch too much TV. It may be permissible, but that doesn’t mean it is a good idea. I believe Jesus came to set us free — and one of the things he wants to set us free from is our obsession with money and possessions. Which is why he says such harsh things like “Woe to you who are rich…” (Luke 6:24).

A constant thread in Scripture is that we are not to take more than we need while others have less than they need, a radical critique of the world we live in. Let’s consider a “THEOLOGY OF ENOUGH.”


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You Don’t Need A Youth Ministry, You Just Need Families

I believe that one of the essential jobs of the local church is to equip Christian parents to take the lead in spiritually training their children. Passing faith to our kids is not the church’s job – it is ours as parents.

But what about all the unsaved kids who don’t have Christian parents to disciple them?


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Frank Viola’s 10 Reasons To Leave Church

In honor of Throwback Thursday, we are recalling a previous post that features thoughts from Frank Viola about why people are exiting institutional church structures to find The Church.

A growing number of people are leaving the institutional church for a new reason. They are not leaving because they have lost faith. They are leaving the church to preserve their faith.


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Jesus Never Commanded People To Plant Churches

We have a poor understanding of our Commission.  We act as if Jesus has commanded us to plant churches.  We are commanded to make disciples.  It is out of disciple making that churches are to be birthed.  The weight of the biblical model rests here.  Not transfer growth. Not acrimonious splits. It is evangelism that results in disciples, who covenant together to be and function as the local expression of the Body of Christ.


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Take A Peek At The Evangelical Sexual Revolution

Evangelicals have long been known for their ability to sanctify popular culture for religious purposes. Popular culture’s obsession with sex is no exception, which raises an evangelistic question: How do we make the gospel winsome to a society steeped in sex? Our answer, according to a new book, has been to affirm that great sex in marriage testifies to the good news of the gospel. We sanctify sex, promising better sex when the Bible is the primary guide.


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3 Answers To Relativists Who Tell Of The Blind Men And The Elephant

While you’re out and about contending for the faith this week, you may come across the Indian fable about the blind men and the elephant. This fable is often used to support religious pluralism and relativism by showing how each religion has a part of the truth but cannot know the whole truth.

Here are 3 responses to that claim…


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