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Archive for the ‘Culture’ Category

Do you wrestle with an impure heart?  I do.  We all do.

So, what do you NEED?   Do you need to pick yourself up and will yourself to do better next time?  Do you need just more accountability to prevent you from acting out on certain behaviors?  Does society just need a bigger and better police force that enforces good behavior with speed and efficiency?  Does our nation just need a new election cycle to elect different leaders?  What do we NEED?  What does society NEED as we all wrestle with impure hearts?

Paul Tripp’s devotional on the Advent Season on our Need is really helpful to know our true problem and thus what we really NEED to address our fundamental problem, our heart.

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I have been prayerfully seeking to think more about heaven and the glories of heaven (having a perfect body untainted with sinful desires, having an imperishable body not susceptible to any illnesses, disease, or injury, being forever with the Lord, beholding my Lord and Savior face to face, forever growing in worship and delight of the One True God, and doing all this with a multitude that no one can count from every tribe, tongue, nation).  Just to name a few of the many things I am looking forward to!

As I think more about the glories of heaven, the more I ask myself, “Why am I still here as a Christian?  Why are we, as corporate local churches, still here on earth?”  One of the big follow-up questions that I am constantly asking is this: “What will I no longer do once I get to heaven?”

One huge answer: I will no longer evangelize, tell people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ once I get to heaven for the rest of eternity.

So, what is one huge reason why we are still here as Christians?  To Evangelize – to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ to others and help people become disciples of Christ and live out the Gospel in all of their life in the context of Christ’s body.

With that said, I commend to you the latest E-Journal from 9Marks on Evangelism.  May we be increasingly faithful to one of the huge reasons why God has left us here on earth.

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Do you want to reach your neighbors with the Love of Jesus?

If so, then start by LOVING them.  =)

I know that this may seem obvious, but many times I think many other things happen.  We are afraid of them.  We are bothered by them because they don’t live the same lifestyle as we do.  We are “too busy” for them as we fill our schedule with church programs and events.

Beloved Christians, my prayer is that you and I and our respective churches would begin reaching our neighbors with the Love of Jesus by simply starting to LOVE them, which may mean beginning by praying for God to fill us with His love for the nations.

Here is a good article I read this morning at ways this love for our neighbors can look like to begin reaching them.

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Spiritual Gifts?

Spiritual Gifts.  Where do you stand?

Do you believe all of the gifts of the Holy Spirit continue in the church today?  Or, do you believe that some have ceased?

Here is the much BIGGER question: WHY do you believe what you believe?  Where in the BIBLE (reading the Bible IN CONTEXT) does it support your belief (and the practice of your belief)?

The topic and practice of spiritual gifts is big, often-times-confusing, and leads to many strong personal feelings and disagreements.

Yet, the topic and practice of spiritual gifts is real and it affects the daily life of Christian and the church, so we should grow in our understanding and practice of them.

To help, Tim Challies writes a very helpful blog post to address our hearts, give us a bigger perspective, and to direct our hearts to Scripture.

I commend the blog post to you.

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Sexual Abuse is incredibly sad and heart-breaking.   Every time I hear about real cases of sexual abuse dealing with real people, it makes me mourn and cry out for the Lord to come quickly and bring about His new creation where all aspects of the sinful fall will be gone.

Yet, until then, the sad and heart-breaking reality of sexual abuse is real and devastating.  And, it is much more widespread and rampant than we think because sexual predators tend to be expert manipulators and deceivers.

I read this article this morning that promoted this reflection and prayer on sexual abuse.   I pray that you would be helped by this article.

Also, in the comments of that article, one brother listed some good resources for responding to sexual abuse/assault: (unfortunately, all the links there were half-links and didn’t really work when I copied and pasted.   But, I am sure that if you search google, you will find them pretty easily)

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb: Rid of My Disgrace: Hope and
Healing for Victims of Sexual Assault

Justin and Lindsey Holcomb: Confronting an Abuser

Justin Holcomb: Resources for Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Justin Holcomb: Rape, Sexual Assault, and Consent

Justin Holcomb: Advice for Pastors in Caring for Victims of Sexual Abuse

Bob Kellemen: A Theologically-Informed Approach to Sexual Abuse Counseling

Bob Kellemen: Sexual Abuse: Beauty for Ashes

GRACE/Diane Langberg: Sexual Abuse in Christian

Ken Sande, “A Better Way to Handle Abuse”

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Excommunication – not a word that initially evokes positive emotions or responses

Yet, excommunication is in the Bible. (excommunication also known as corrective church discipline – which I pray would be joined with a LOT more formative church discipline in teaching, preaching, discipleship, accountability, modeling, etc.)

And, God tells us in His Word that excommunication is loving and for the good of the person disciplined, for the good of the church exercising discipline, and for the good of the glory of God.

However, given our short-sighted tendencies, in the midst of discipline and even in the immediate aftermath of discipline and excommunication, it is hard to see the truth of the “goodness of excommunication” that God says in His Word.   But, we need to trust Him and believe His Word because God is working good through His Word in His sovereign timing.

And, if you have more stories where the “good” has begun to be seen in this lifetime, I would encourage you to share it.   Here is an encouraging blog post on this topic that I read this morning that sparked these thoughts and prayers.

 

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I am thankful for Independence Day, when America declared freedom, and set up a system that allowed for freedom.

I am thankful for the freedom to vote, speak, have defense in court.  And I am thankful for the freedom of religion, to be able to gather with other Christians freely and openly to worship the One True God.

Yet, as I reflect on Independence Day and the temporary, outward blessings of freedom we may have here in America, I am infinitely more thankful for the infinitely better freedom that the One True God offers to all people through His Son Jesus Christ, in and through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Regardless of whether we live in a place with just or corrupt earthly leaders, regardless of whether we live in a place with freedom of religion, and freedom to worship or not, regardless of whether we have the freedom to tell others about Jesus without it being a crime or not, regardless of whether we are still enslaved to another people or government or not, the gloriously GOOD NEWS is that ANYONE can be TRULY FREE in and through the Gospel of Jesus Christ that God offers to ALL who come to Him in repentance and faith.

Because Jesus Christ lived the sinless, perfect, holy, and righteous life no man has lived, only Jesus is truly free in God’s Kingdom.  Only Jesus has not rebelled against God’s loving and good and kind and wise rule, and therefore only Jesus deserves life and freedom.  As sinners and rebels against God, we are both condemned to death before God’s righteous law, and we are voluntarily enslaved to Satan and sin.

But, in God’s free love, mercy, and grace, God sent Jesus not only to live the sinless and righteous life we didn’t to flaunt it in our face. But Jesus lived the sinless and righteous life in order to DIE on the cross as a SUBSTITUTE for sinners.  Jesus died the death we deserved, and on the cross, Jesus both satisfied the punishment of death that God’s law required and Jesus crushed and defeated the power of Satan to enslave sinners.

Therefore now, any sinner, in any country, under any government, from any culture, ethnicity, language, socio-economic, or caste level, any sinner, through repenting of sins and trusting in Jesus Christ alone, by faith alone, can be TRULY FREE to live in God’s Kingdom as one forgiven, adopted into God’s family, declared righteous, and given power to live a new life for God’s glory.

I am infinitely more thankful for the infinitely better freedom that the One True God offers to all people through His Son Jesus Christ, in and through the power of the Holy Spirit!

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