Staying strong for the work of Christ

By Nicole D. Hayes, Voices Contributor
By Rod Anderson, CP Cartoonist

For they all wanted to frighten us, thinking, “Their hands will drop from the work, and it will not be done.” But now, O God, strengthen my hands.  Nehemiah 6:9 (ESV)

Nehemiah had his work cut out for him. If his conspirators Sanballat, Tobiah, Geshem and other enemies weren’t trying to distract and make up things to bring him down to stop the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls, in the next breath they were trying to kill him. Anything to stop the work.

Through many unsuccessful attempts, the disruptors conspired to wear down Nehemiah, his men and their efforts in rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls. They sought to discourage their progress in hopes they would shrink back; that their hands might “get too weak for the work” causing the work to be suspended.

But Nehemiah and his men remained on the wall. Some built while others stood guard holding spears from daylight until nighttime.  They remained committed to the work, day and night. In Nehemiah 6:15-16, we’re told of the wall being completed with this encouragement from verse 16: When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God. (NIV, 1984)

In the same way, God is our help in the work He has entrusted to our hands. God has invited us to co-labor with Him for His purposes—in the crucible, amid opposition, in increasing lawlessness, wickedness and immorality. The work will feel laborious at times. Whether it is the passage of legislation that will further decay society or Teen Vogue telling teens how to get abortions without their parents’ knowledge or permission, you will wonder if progress is being made. You will have to rebuff distractions. Continue. The best work is shaped in the crucible.

When, in our Christian work and warfare we enter upon any service or conflict, our prayer should be, “O, God, strengthen my hands” as Nehemiah prayed — that we would be even more diligent, more steadfast, and more resolved to continue in the truth and information given us in which our confidence rests upon through God’s Word. Each of us must take our place in the building up of His Kingdom however He has called us to that work.

The idols of today’s culture are giving people a false hope and comfort. The people wander like sheep in search of a shepherd (Zechariah 10:2). For those of us in Christ Jesus, we have the information to direct them to The Good Shepherd. We have The Good News and the gospel is Good News for EVERYONE.

Our goal is to make Jesus known, with great compassion for those who do not yet know Him. We need to live like the answer.

As the Christian Medical & Dental Associations of Washington, D.C.,  with our ministry partners we are making Jesus known in our city and nation through faith and healthcare. We serve to encourage and equip our local emerging and practicing healthcare professionals to continue in their good work in a culture that is counter to God’s Kingdom. We desire to minister to the spiritual needs of our students and healthcare professionals to develop and grow in faith throughout their careers as they treat bodies and souls locally and globally. We invite more partners to join us in transforming our culture in truth where the culture’s false prescriptions have inflicted great harm. We ask your gift, prayers and involvement to help us do the work.

Fellow Christian soldier:  Do not underestimate the power of God’s light abiding in you. As we confront spiritual wickedness, the God of peace will make us more than conquerors. While moral and societal decay and wickedness seem to be having their way, we CAN impact our culture in response to God’s direction so the harvest may experience what Jesus has promised, “life and life to the full.” (John 10:10) God’s purposes will be accomplished. We need only to stand firm.

Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 (NIV, 1984)

O, God, strengthen our hands.

Nicole D. Hayes is CMDA Area Director for Washington, D.C.

VIDEO A.G. Bill Barr: ‘In the Framers’ View, Free Government Was Only Suitable and Sustainable for a Religious People’

By CNSNews.com Staff | October 14, 2019

Attorney General Bill Barr at University of Notre Dame Law School, Oct. 11, 2019. (Screen Capture)

(CNSNews.com) – Attorney General Bill Barr spoke at the University of Notre Dame Law School on Friday, saying that the Framers of the U.S. Constitution believed that a “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people.”

“In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings,” Barr said. “Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves, freely obeying the dictates of inwardly possessed and commonly shared moral values.

“And to control willful human beings with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s wills,” he said. “They must flow from the transcendent Supreme Being.

Watch video here

“In short,” he said, “in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people, a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and to manmade laws and had discipline to control themselves according to those controlling principles.”

Here is the transcript from the part of Barr’s speech where he said that the Framers believed that “free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people:”

“So, the founders decided to take a gamble, and they called it a great experiment. They would leave the people broad liberty, they would limit the coercive power of the government, and they would place their trust in self-discipline and virtue of the American people. In the words of Madison: ‘We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves.’

“And this is really what they meant by self-government. It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislature. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

“But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings. Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves, freely obeying the dictates of inwardly possessed and commonly shared moral values. And to control willful human beings with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s wills. They must flow from the transcendent Supreme Being.

“In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people, a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and to manmade laws and had discipline to control themselves according to those controlling principles

“As John Adams put it: ‘We have no government armed with a power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. … Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.’

“And as Father John Courtney Murray observed: The American tenet was not ‘that free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral order.’”

https://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/cnsnewscom-staff/bill-barr-framers-view-free-government-was-only-suitable-and


Bill Barr Flames ‘Unremitting Assault’ On Religion, Traditional Values During Notre Dame Visit

Kevin Daley | The Daily Caller October 13,, 2019

Concerted attacks on religious liberty have triggered a moral upheaval that contributes to deadly social pathologies, Attorney General William Barr said Friday at the University of Notre Dame.

“The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety,” Barr said. “It reflects the framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.”

The attorney general said numerous measures of social decline are rising as religion recedes from public life, citing higher instances of drug addiction, mental illness, and suicide. Those outcomes are not random, but the fruit of a dedicated campaign against orthodox religious belief, Barr added.

“This is not decay,” Barr said. “This is organized destruction. Secularists and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

Barr said state governments and municipal agencies have been at the vanguard of that effort, noting the board of education in Orange County, California, recently decided religious dissenters may not excuse their children from portions of the school curriculum broaching LGBT issues. Schools are the usual forum for attacks on religious liberty, Barr said.

In that connection, the attorney general noted the Department of Justice recently intervened in a dispute between a gay teacher and a Catholic high school near Notre Dame. The case arose when the Archdiocese of Indianapolis directed Cathedral High School to dismiss a teacher in a public, same-sex marriage or forfeit its Catholic affiliation. The high school did so. The teacher, Joshua Payne-Elliott, sued the school in turn.

The Justice Department filed a statement of interest in the case Sept. 27, arguing that the lawsuit suppresses the archdiocese’s First Amendment right to expressive association, and impermissibly asks the court to interfere with internal church matters.

“The First Amendment precludes this court, a state actor, from cooperating in plaintiff’s attempt to stifle the archdiocese’s First Amendment right to expressive association,” the filing reads. “The First Amendment also precludes the court from entangling itself in a quintessentially ecclesiastical question: whether the archdiocese properly interpreted and applied Catholic doctrine. The First Amendment commits that question exclusively to the ecclesiastical tribunals of the church.”

Anti-Barr demonstrators picketed near the Notre Dame campus during the attorney general’s visit, according to the South Bend Tribune. Some protesters blew whistles in reference to a whistleblower complaint from the intelligence community concerning President Donald Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Trump asked Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden’s business interests in Ukraine, and suggested Barr could support that effort. Hunter, the son of former Vice President Joe Biden, served on the board of a Ukrainian energy company called Burisma Holdings.

The attending controversy prompted Notre Dame Law School Dean G. Marcus Cole to issue a statement defending academic freedom.

“Notre Dame Law School will neither endorse nor condemn invited speakers,” Cole said. “An institution of higher education must be a place where controversial ideas and points of view are expressed, heard, and discussed. This is such a place.”

Delivered by The Daily Sheeple

Contributed by Kevin Daley of The Daily Caller News Foundation.

Original here



 

 

VIDEO Andrew Brunson Expected Persecution. He Didn’t Expect to Feel Abandoned by God.

How the American pastor handled a crisis of faith during his Turkish imprisonment.

Andrew Brunson Expected Persecution. He Didn’t Expect to Feel Abandoned by God.
INTERVIEW BY JACLYN S. PARRISH SEPTEMBER 20, 2019

Many of the Christians we admire most have been imprisoned for the cause of Christ. Believers like Corrie ten Boom and Richard Wurmbrand are remembered as giants of faith and perseverance, blessed with a peculiar sense of God’s power and presence even in the midst of extreme suffering. In God’s Hostage: A True Story of Persecution, Imprisonment, and Perseverance, pastor and missionary Andrew Brunson provides a raw account of his own experience as a prisoner of the Turkish government. Yet his is a story of doubt as well as faith, of depression as well as hope. Writer and former missionary Jaclyn S. Parrish spoke with Brunson about suffering, growth, and dependence on God in the face of despair.

Can you give some of the background of why you were imprisoned?

My wife, Norine, and I were missionaries in Turkey for 23 years, and we never tried to hide our work. We were surprised when we were detained. There was an attempted coup in 2016, but that didn’t change the views of the government leaders. I think it just gave them an opportunity to do many things they’d wanted to do before. It had nothing to do with our arrest; it just created a very tense environment.

When they called us in, we thought we were getting our residence permits. But then they said, “No, you’re being arrested for deportation.” Norine was released after 13 days, but they kept me. There are several reasons, and they changed over time, but the big thing is that they wanted to make an example of somebody, of a missionary, to intimidate other missionaries so that they would self-deport. And they also wanted to intimidate local believers. At some point, the government decided to keep me as a political pawn, a bargaining chip. They wanted concessions from the US.

But there are two issues here, one human and one spiritual. I think there was a larger drama going on behind the political dealings, which was God’s story, what he was accomplishing through my imprisonment.

You explain that your two greatest fears in prison were losing your faith and losing your mind. How would you encourage other believers who are struggling to keep their faith and sanity in the midst of suffering and trauma?

Whatever you’re going through, if you’re working for Christ and his kingdom, then it is very precious to him. Throughout the day, I would repeat to myself that there was purpose in my suffering, that God was involved in it, and that it had eternal value because it was suffered for his sake.

It’s especially important, I’d say, to guard against resentment. I felt abandoned by God, and in those circumstances it was easy to let my heart grow cold. When it seemed like God wasn’t answering my pleas for his presence, I would imagine a box, where I would lock away all my questions and doubts and refuse to entertain them anymore. As Norine reminded me, “Whatever doubts you have, God remains the same. He is faithful. He is true. He is loving. He is good.”

You also explain how your crisis of faith was incomprehensible to your Muslim cellmates, since they had entirely different expectations of Allah than you did of the Father. In light of that, how would you say our view of God informs how we undergo suffering?

My crisis of faith wasn’t a matter of being imprisoned. That’s persecution, and the Book of James promised it would happen (1:2). It was more the feeling of abandonment. I had expected strength to pour into me. I had expected to feel an overwhelming sense of grace. When this didn’t happen, I became suicidal.

I had questions about his love, loyalty, and faithfulness, but really he had questions for me. “Are you going to be loyal? Are you going to love me? Are you going to remain faithful even if you feel abandoned and disappointed?” I was being tested, and it was painful. But when your faithfulness is tested and proven true, there’s such a great reward. It brings you to a new level of intimacy with God.

One thing I really tried to focus on was cultivating the fear of God: having an eternal perspective, seeing things through his eyes. I knew that if I feared God the way Isaiah did, I would be more willing to undergo any hardship, which would confirm that he is worthy of all my pain and suffering.

I also held fast to the promise that God will make all things right in the end. That doesn’t mean thirsting for vengeance. It just means that while Jesus is portrayed as a lamb—pure, innocent, sacrificial—he is also portrayed as a fierce lion. Someday, those who persecute my brothers and sisters are going to encounter Jesus. They will encounter him as a Lamb, if they’ve surrendered to him. Or else they will encounter him as a Lion. They will meet him, and he will make all things right.

In your epilogue, you describe how your story was a small part of the bigger story God was weaving. How have you seen God use your suffering and your faithfulness?

In 2009, I believed God was calling me to Turkey to prepare a harvest of souls for Christ. In 2016, when we were detained, my thought was, “Wait, this can’t be. This seems like God is cutting the assignment short.” But I learned to see my imprisonment as a crucial part of preparing the harvest, mainly because of the worldwide prayer movement it started. This was something God-initiated, God-sustained, God-driven. A tsunami of prayer crashed into Turkey. It’s as if God were saying, “I can take you out, but if you’re willing to stay, I will do something greater.”

Something that comes across strongly in the book is your love for the nation and people of Turkey. What are some of your hopes and prayers for this country?

When we talk about our love for Turkey, we’re not talking about Turkish food or culture, although we do love those things. No, we’re really talking about a determined commitment to seek the good of the Turkish people, whether they appreciate it or not. It’s a love that’s demonstrated in faithfulness to our assignment.

But right now, I’m relatively pessimistic about Turkey. A number of missionaries have been deported just in this past year, and I think there’s a time of persecution coming. There will be a harvest, under God’s power, but it will happen under difficult circumstances.

Toward the end of the book, you mention that, however terrible the prison ordeal was, you do “miss being so completely dependent on God.” How can we cultivate that kind of intimacy with God, wherever life finds us?

Extreme circumstances are sometimes necessary to push us toward God. Without them, our natural inclination is to decline in faithfulness, and we have to be deliberate about cultivating it. Sometimes, I’ll find myself praying, “Lord, I’m not hungry for you, but I really want to be.” As my wife would say, “There’s no substitute for time spent with God.”

When I wake up each morning, I try to focus myself by saying, “Jesus, the only thing that matters is what you think about me when I stand before you, so I want to live accordingly. I want all of my efforts to have your glory in mind.” That’s what I encourage other people to do.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2019/october/andrew-brunson-gods-hostage-persecution-abandoned.html


ANDREW BRUNSON: God’s Hostage


The Transforming Power of Biblical Forgiveness

By Denise George   •   January 30, 2019 

On the second anniversary of the mass shooting at Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston, S.C., family members of Myra Thompson join in song during a memorial service. Photograph: Newscom

On a hot, muggy night in Charleston, S.C., 21-year-old Dylann Roof walked into the basement of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church and joined a dozen Wednesday evening Bible study members as they studied Mark 4. It was June 17, 2015.

The teacher, Myra Thompson, warmly welcomed the 5-foot-9-inch, 120-pound boyish-looking man with the pale face. Roof’s tousled blond hair was cut in a salad bowl shape, and he wore a tourist’s fanny pack around his waist. 

Clementa Pinckney, Emanuel’s pastor, invited Roof to sit next to him, and someone placed a Bible in his hands. Roof sat quietly during the Bible study, saying nothing, his facial expression blank.

At 9 p.m., Myra ended the study, standing with the others to pray.

“Our Father, who art in Heaven,” they prayed together, “hallowed be thy—”

Suddenly Dylann pulled a Glock .45 from his fanny pack. Piercing the quiet fellowship hall with an exploding CRACK! CRACK! CRACK!, he opened fire on the praying members. Shooting each person multiple times at point-blank range, and shouting hateful racial slurs, he killed eight church members immediately, including Myra Thompson and Pastor Pinckney. The ninth victim died shortly thereafter. 

Roof walked out, leaving the dead, dying and terrified behind him on the blood-stained floor. The church security camera recorded his image, the gun still in his hand.

Word of the church massacre spread throughout the city, turning Charleston’s narrow streets into tangled mazes of screaming sirens, flashing lights and panicked onlookers.

When Myra’s husband, the Reverend Anthony Thompson, pastor of Charleston’s Holy Trinity Reformed Episcopal Church, arrived home from his church’s Wednesday evening program, a friend telephoned him.

“There’s been a shooting at Emanuel Church!” he said. Anthony rushed to the church. When he discovered his wife’s murder, he fell to the pavement and cried.

Rev. Anthony Thompson stands outside Emanuel African Episcopal Church.Photograph: Reuters/Newscom

Police found Dylann Roof the next morning, arrested him and took him back to Charleston. When two FBI agents interrogated him, the young racist laughed, bragged about the murders and claimed he had hoped to start a race war. He admitted he had chosen Charleston and the Emanuel A.M.E. Church for his massacre because of their past slave history.

On Friday, June 19, fewer than 48 hours after the murders, Anthony reluctantly attended Roof’s bond hearing. A video camera from the detention center linked Roof to the courtroom. Judge James Gosnell invited the victims’ family members to speak directly to Roof through an audio connection. Although Anthony didn’t intend to say anything, he felt led by God to walk forward. He depended on God to put His words into his mouth.

“I forgive you,” Anthony told Dylann. “And my family forgives you. But we would like you to take this opportunity to repent. Repent. Confess. Give your life to the One who matters the most: Jesus Christ, so that He can change it and change your attitude. And no matter what happens to you, then you’ll be OK. Do that and you’ll be better off than you are right now.”

Several other family members at the hearing also offered their forgiveness.

City and state police prepared and braced themselves for the racial riots they expected to explode in Charleston, fearing the bloodshed, violence and looting as recently witnessed in Ferguson, Baltimore, Berkeley and other cities after racially-motivated crimes had occurred.

But, to the world’s amazement, Charleston erupted not in violence, but in grace, the city responding with acts of love and kindness. Charleston’s mayor, Joseph Riley, witnessed firsthand the unexpected results of Biblical forgiveness, stating: “A hateful person came to this community with some crazy idea he’d be able to divide. But all he did was unite us and make us love each other even more.”

Makeshift memorials of flowers grew in front of the church. Compassionate donors pledged thousands of dollars to help the victims’ families. Thousands of people gathered in downtown Charleston for an evening vigil and prayer service. The whole city mourned the senseless deaths, visible acts of love setting off a godly chain of events as blacks and whites embraced, crying together and comforting one another in Charleston’s crowded streets. More than 15,000 people of all colors and faiths joined hands, creating a flesh-and-blood human bridge, a chain of visible love that stretched for two miles and crossed Charleston’s Ravenel Bridge.

After the shooting, and having witnessed the powerful and peaceful results brought about by Biblical forgiveness, the world struggled to better understand it. They wondered how Anthony Thompson could forgive his wife’s cold-blooded killer, and even share with him the message of Christ’s forgiveness and salvation.

They asked some hard questions:

Before Thompson forgave him, should Roof not have first apologized, expressed remorse and tried to make amends for his actions?

Did forgiving Roof mean that Thompson dismissed, excused or condoned his ruthless act?

Mustn’t Thompson have felt forgiving before he forgave Roof?

How could Thompson forgive so quickly, before his wife was even buried? Doesn’t genuine forgiveness take years to accomplish?

Society discovered important truths about Biblical forgiveness and how it differs so greatly from the world’s false concept of forgiveness. They learned that Biblical forgiveness:

  • Can forgive any crime, no matter how atrocious—not dismissing, condoning or excusing an offender’s actions, but blaming him and then forgiving him. Thompson blamed Roof for killing his wife, and therefore he could choose to forgive him.
  • Doesn’t depend on the offender’s response. Roof remained consistently unrepentant, showing no remorse and never apologizing. “I would like to make it crystal clear,” Roof wrote in his journal, “I do not regret what I did. I am not sorry. I have not shed a tear for the innocent people I killed.” Later, during his April 2017 trial and federal death sentence, Roof publicly stated: “I felt like I had to do it. I still feel like I had to do it.” Thompson forgave Roof without the young racist’s response, remorse, repentance or apology.
  • Doesn’t require the forgiver to feel forgiving. Forgiveness is a choice of the forgiver’s will, not a decision based on emotional feelings. Paul writes: “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you” (Colossians 3:13).
  • Requires believers to pray as Jesus taught, asking God to “forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).

Anthony Thompson chose to forgive the sinner Dylann Roof because Jesus Christ had chosen to forgive the sinner Anthony Thompson. “Scripture tells me that I am a sinner, forgiven by Christ, and saved by grace,” Thompson admitted. “Therefore, I am obliged to forgive others who hurt me.”

Jesus gave believers the perfect example of Biblical forgiveness when He forgave those murderers who nailed Him to the cross. “Father,” He prayed aloud in His time of great suffering, “forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34).

Anthony Thompson’s choice to forgive his wife’s murderer brought Scriptural forgiveness and Biblical teachings into the world’s media limelight. Christ worked in the midst of this tragedy to change hearts and lives.

Dylann Roof had hoped to fuel a race war by killing Emanuel’s members. But as a Christian Examiner reporter later wrote: “It … has had the opposite effect, allowing the grieving families to put the Gospel’s power on full display for not only Roof but for a watching television audience.”

Anthony Thompson continues to pray for Roof, hoping that before the misguided young man dies by lethal injection, he will ask God’s forgiveness and receive God’s salvation through Jesus Christ. But Anthony has laid down his heavy burden, he has forgiven his wife’s killer and he has chosen to move forward in Christ’s ministry, just as he knows Myra would wish him to do.  ©2019 Denise George

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version.

Denise George is the author or coauthor of 31 nonfiction books. She recently worked with Anthony Thompson on his new book: “Called to Forgive: The Charleston Church Shooting, A Victim’s Husband, and the Path to Healing and Peace” (to be released in June 2019 by Bethany House Publishers). Denise is married to Timothy George, Th.D., founding dean of Beeson Divinity School, Samford University.

Have you asked Christ to forgive your sins? Start here.

The Transforming Power of Biblical Forgiveness

AUDIO Should We Call Out False Teachers or Ignore Them?

Interview with John Piper Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org

Audio Transcript

Hey, everyone. A production note before we begin: Just when you cannot imagine John Piper’s voice diving any lower, here we are. It’s bronchial stuff, plunging Pastor John into new realms of sub-bass that only a Hollywood movie trailer voice-over guy could normally reach. That’s true here for about a week or so. Here’s today’s episode.

Pastor John, here’s a question from Caden in Boca Raton, Florida. “Hello, Pastor John! After seeing the documentary American Gospel, I was conflicted because I’m not sure if I am supposed to call out false teachers. Second Peter 2:1–3 makes it obvious that there will be false teachers, but the text also does not say we should point them out. I have heard both sides to this argument, but I’m still not sure. I want to be careful to not ‘pronounce judgment before the time’ (1 Corinthians 4:5). Does this passage apply here in this situation? Are we taking a judgment that isn’t ours? Or should we rest in God’s ultimate knowledge? And if a prominent false teacher is to be called out, who does this — where and how?”

Maybe it would be helpful to step back first and get the bigger picture of the New Testament response to those who live and teach in ways that lead others into error and ruin, and then zero in on 1 Corinthians 4:5 for some guidelines for how we should speak and write about such people.

Beware the Wolves

So let’s begin with Jesus. Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” And the word beware means all of us should be alert, but especially shepherds, to identify not just false teaching, but false teachers, whose ways are subtle. They’re clothing themselves with lamb’s wool while they’re wolves.

And Paul used the same Greek word for beware in Acts 20:28–29 when he said, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. . . . I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the.”

“In order to protect the flock, we should expose false teachers and minimize the spread of the gangrene.”

Jesus used the same word again in Matthew 16:6, but he got more specific: “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Paul had the same kind of group in mind and the same kind of error in mind in Philippians 3:2 and 3:18: “Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh.” And then verse 18: “For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ.” Then in Romans 16:17, he warned, “Watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.”

Avoid, Rebuke, Call Out

To avoid them, you have to know who they are. You can’t avoid somebody if you don’t know who they are. This idea of identifying and avoiding shows up in 1 Corinthians 5:112 Thessalonians 3:6142 Timothy 3:52 John 10. In other words, Christians, and shepherds in particular, should be discerning and alert to behavior and teaching that dishonors Christ and destroys people — and not treat it in a casual or harmless way.

And then in 1 Timothy 5:19–20, Paul went beyond just “avoid them” to “rebuke them publicly.” So, speaking of elders who persist in error, he said, “Do not admit a charge against an elder except on the evidence of two or three witnesses. As for those who persist in sin” — and that can be sin of false doctrine or sin of evil behavior, anyone who does not accept correction — “rebuke them in the presence of all, so that the rest may stand in fear..”

And then Paul went on and actually named destructive false teachers:

  • “Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me” (2 Timothy 4:10).
  • “You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes” (2 Timothy 1:15).
  • “By rejecting this [faith and a good conscience], some have made shipwreck of their faith, among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander” (1 Timothy 1:19–20).
  • “Their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus” (2 Timothy 2:17).

Paul names at least six false teachers that the church should watch out for.

So, I infer from Jesus and Paul and Luke and John that false teaching and destructive behavior are present dangers in this fallen world for the church. And all of us — especially shepherds, pastors — should be alert and discerning to identify, and in appropriate ways, expose. In order to protect the flock, we should expose them and minimize the spread of the gangrene (as Paul calls it).

Expose Evil

Now, in 1 Corinthians 4:5, Paul is talking about how the Corinthians should assess Paul and Cephas and Apollos, because the people are choosing sides and boasting in their favorite teacher. He says,

I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes, who will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart. Then each one [Paul, Cephas, Apollos] will receive his commendation from God. (1 Corinthians 4:4–5)

“The best protection against the darkness of error is the light of truth.”

So Caden is asking whether the words “do not pronounce judgment before the time” should keep us from identifying false teachers or from naming them. I don’t think so. “Don’t pronounce judgment before the time” means “Don’t do what only Christ can do at that last day — on the day of judgment.” Don’t presume to know the heart like Jesus will know the heart on that day. Only Christ “will bring to light the things now hidden in darkness and will disclose the purposes of the heart.”

But for now, our job is indeed to do mouth judgment, writing judgment, behavior judgment — not a heart judgment, but mouth and writing and behavior judgment. When a mouth speaks unbiblical, destructive teaching, when a blog or an article or a book publishes unbiblical and destructive teaching, when a body — a human body, a physical body — behaves with unbiblical and destructive behavior, in all these cases, we are to be discerning. And according to Ephesians 5:11, we are to expose the error. “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them.” “Censure them; show them to be wrong” is what the word elegchō means.

Five Factors for Calling Out False Teachers

So the question is how and when — not if. And here I think the Bible calls for wisdom, rather than telling us who and when and how. The question we ask is this: How can we best — in our situation, with our gifts and our responsibilities — help the most people believe and live the most truth, and how can we protect the most people from destructive beliefs and behaviors?

And here are five factors perhaps to consider when deciding whether to name a false teacher publicly.

  1. The seriousness and deceitfulness of the error.
  2. The size of the audience. Is it growing?
  3. The duration of their ministry. Did they make one blunder or are they constantly doing it?
  4. The vulnerability of the people for whom you are responsible.
  5. The role you have in influencing shepherds who really need to be discerning for who the false teachers are.

When you do name a false teacher, it’s best to do it in a setting where you do more than name-drop. You explain the error, you give reasons for rejecting it, you communicate complexities, you set a tone of longing for truth and love — you’re not just slinging mud.

The last thing I would say is to let your teaching be so powerful in clarifying the greatness and the beauty and the worth of God’s truth that your people will smell error before it infects their lives. The shape of error is always changing. You can’t preach enough negative sermons to stay ahead of it. And you don’t have to. The best protection against the darkness of error is the light of truth.

Listen to the at audio

VIDEO ‘Not if but when’ children exposed to porn online

Ryan Dobson launches seminars for churches

By Brandon Showalter, CP Reporter

Author and podcaster Ryan Dobson is launching an initiative to equip parents to safeguard their homes from everything from predators to pornography to home invasions.

In a Friday phone interview with The Christian Post, Ryan Dobson, son of radio broadcaster James Dobson, emphasized that hoping for the best is not a plan when it comes to protecting their kids. It’s not a matter of if but when, he says, regarding exposure to illicit content online.

The idea for Home Safe seminars, which he founded and will launch on Sunday, was borne of his podcast Rebel Parenting. Home Safe is a new, church-based training seminar empowering parents with the strategies and tools to protect their families at church, school, in public places, and at home, according to his website.

“We got so many calls from parents who were just afraid but don’t know what to do,” Dobson told CP.

“We used to joke back in the day that your parents had trouble setting the clock on the VCR. But we are a light year away from the VCR clock with TikTok, SnapChat, Instagram, Facebook, there’s a new app coming out every week that all our kids know how to use but parents are in the dark about what to do and they are so afraid.”

Through Home Safe seminars, Dobson — who grew up in a high-profile family in which security was always a concern — walks parents through the variety of threats families now face and offers immediate specifics on how to address them. The curriculum has an entire section about how parents can talk to their kids about pornography.

“Is it awkward at first? Yes, but you can do it. These are almost like scripted conversations you can have, and once you get your feet wet, then you’ve already started that process with your kids.”

Dobson and his team have surveyed and aggregated the best and worst resources from everything from alarm systems to porn screening software.

“It breaks my heart when I get an email from someone who says ‘Man, you’ve been talking about filtering porn, you’ve talked about the resources, and I know I should have done something,” he said, recounting a specific message he received recently, a mom who told him that she “found out my 9-year-old daughter, she and her friends Googled the word ‘butts.”’

The girls, who were just being silly, ended up being exposed to graphic content because Google does not filter out porn.

“It’s not if, it’s a when,” children will be exposed to it, he added, stressing that it’s always better that parents prepare and speak with their kids before a problem arises because then they will have “done the groundwork” and children will then approach them first instead of one of their friends or a stranger.

https://www.christianpost.com/news/not-if-but-when-children-exposed-to-porn-online-ryan-dobson-launches-seminars-for-churches.html

Grace for Villains: Learning From Nathan’s Parable

Bible Crown of Thorns

By Alex Aili -July 22, 2019

 

When David coerced Bathsheba into adultery, impregnated her, and then concealed it by murdering her husband (2 Sam. 11), it’s not a stretch to conclude that his heart was not in the right place.

But for God to convict him of this crime, he didn’t storm in with a proclamation of wrath. Instead, through the prophet Nathan, he used the covertness of Story.

Nathan’s parable is well-known, but it’s worth quoting at length:

“THERE WERE TWO MEN IN A CERTAIN CITY, THE ONE RICH AND THE OTHER POOR. THE RICH MAN HAD VERY MANY FLOCKS AND HERDS, BUT THE POOR MAN HAD NOTHING BUT ONE LITTLE EWE LAMB, WHICH HE HAD BOUGHT. AND HE BROUGHT IT UP, AND IT GREW UP WITH HIM AND WITH HIS CHILDREN. IT USED TO EAT OF HIS MORSEL AND DRINK FROM HIS CUP AND LIE IN HIS ARMS, AND IT WAS LIKE A DAUGHTER TO HIM. NOW THERE CAME A TRAVELER TO THE RICH MAN, AND HE WAS UNWILLING TO TAKE ONE OF HIS OWN FLOCK OR HERD TO PREPARE FOR THE GUEST WHO HAD COME TO HIM, BUT HE TOOK THE POOR MAN’S LAMB AND PREPARED IT FOR THE MAN WHO HAD COME TO HIM”

2 Sam. 12:1b-4

If Nathan were to confront the sin directly, it would have only added to the problem of David’s self-preservation, which had been his chief priority since the sin’s committal (11:6-24). In other words, the story couldn’t have been “on the nose,” with a plot involving murder or sexual sin, for that would have broken the spell. God simply used a different angle to get at the same type of sin: the abuse of power.

The fictional tale was catered specifically to David, who, being a king, was responsible for judicial verdicts. He would have understandably taken it as just another exercise of justice.

Still, despite its specificity, we can still glean the relevant technique Nathan used. The key is empathy, for when David identified with the victim of the story (David himself being a former shepherd; 2 Sam. 7:8), he felt the brunt of greed and lust–little did he know that it was his own greed and lust!

“THEN DAVID’S ANGER WAS GREATLY KINDLED AGAINST THE MAN, AND HE SAID TO NATHAN, “AS THE LORD LIVES, THE MAN WHO HAS DONE THIS DESERVES TO DIE.”

2 Samuel 12:5

David’s emotional response to injustice allowed Nathan to turn the tables (“You are the man!”) because David walked into a trap of his own making. David could not retreat to disinterested judgment once he placed his own moral cards on the table. To put it differently, when David felt the impact of greed and lust via empathizing with the poor man, he was then vulnerable enough to see his own villainy.

Becoming the Villain

The contemporary trend of antiheroes and villains, fictional or not, gives an opportunity for the negative side of the gospel (Rom. 3:23) to speak. For we are all the “villains” in God’s story (Rom. 5:8, 10; Eph. 2:1-3), and we must see our own sin in light of God’s goodness (note how David admitted that his sin was against God; 2 Sam. 12:13; Psa. 51:4) before we can move from ignorance to contrition. We cease to be passive spectators when we’re forced to confront the villainy within ourselves, and once we do, we see the “Good News” as it really is.

That’s why stories with negative character arcs are necessary; they compel us to see how easy it is to become the villain. Specifically, well-written stories invite us to follow an apparently good character pursuing an apparently good goal until he inevitably reaches villainy by overemphasizing one good over others. David, for example, overemphasized personal sexual fulfillment, perhaps by overindulging his God-given lordship, at the expense of God’s laws of fidelity.

While engaging with negative-arc stories, our mirror neurons allow us to affix ourselves to the villainous characters. We are affected without consciously knowing why. While we may identify with fallen characters, it will take intentionality to break through to the Truth lurking within.

Yes, it’s easy to scoff at the prospect of self-reflection. “Entertainment” analyzed ceases to be entertaining for many of us. But choosing ignorance doesn’t change the fact that stories affect us. If we deny this, we become no different than David, who allowed ignorance to blind him to his own villainy.

We may not have our own personal “Prophet Nathan” to tell us customized stories to convict us of sin, but we do have the Holy Spirit (John 16:8; Rom. 8:26), whose ministry reaches to the deepest ignorance. With that in mind, it’s wise to be intentional about the narratives we enjoy. As the Reel World Theology slogan aptly puts it: “Entertainment is not mindless.”

It all starts with some simple questions, such as the following:

“What would I do in this character’s situation?”

“What am I prone to value too much?”

Could I become the villain?”

“Am I already a villain?”

And especially, “What does Grace mean for the villain?”

Original here