Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Can Atheists Be Moral? That’s the Wrong Question

Occasionally you will hear people question whether an atheist can be a moral person. But is this the right question to be asking?

Can an Atheist be Moral? Of Course, but that is the Wrong Question

As Christians we know that the moral law comes from a Creator God, and some think that those who reject Him are therefore unable to to have good morals. In an effort to address the worldview of atheism, some will suggest that an atheist is incapable of being a moral person. But is this true? Is this even the question we should be asking?

As we begin to examine this issue, note that we're referring to a person's ability to be moral in a practical, everyday sense. Theologically, we understand that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). No person who has not been redeemed by the blood of Christ can be considered moral in a spiritual sense. This is as true of the atheist as it is of the person who sits in church every week in an attempt to earn their salvation apart from God's grace. For our purposes, "moral" is being defined as being able to distinguish right from wrong and make choices that we would recognize as "good."

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

Christianity Today's 2015 Book Awards

Some of the finest books pull us deeper into familiar subjects—biographies of great statesmen, say, or fresh takes on the essentials of Christian doctrine and discipleship. Others introduce us to people, places, and ideas about which we know very little, if anything. Last year, I finally discovered Laura Hillenbrand's epic World War II survival story, Unbroken. Going in, I'd never heard of her protagonist, the indomitable prisoner of war Louis Zamperini. Now, I won't soon forget him.

It's like that with our current crop of book awards, which pursue paths both old and new. One of the victory nods goes to a new study of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. You've perhaps heard a thing or two about him. And like always, we honor plenty of volumes touching on the Bible, the church, and perennial matters of faith. But hopefully, we'll also inspire at least some readers to acquaint themselves with abolitionists Hannah More and Sarah Grimke, or the philosopher Charles Taylor (and his penetrating look at our "secular age").

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Unlocking your Lament

Every one of us wrestles through the realities of a very broken world.  Government is sometimes dysfunctional, seemingly beyond repair.  Laws can be unjust, penalizing the innocent.  Communities discriminate against people because of the color of their skin or their zip code.  Chronic pain may be your unwelcome friend, visiting you each day. 

This world is not without its troubles.

How does the Christ Follower deal with his own downturns?  How do we handle troubles that are not a direct result of our own poor choices?

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Session 2 - Secular and Integration Theories (Sept 2011)

The TOXIC Tongue of Comparison

Words matter.  God speaks loud and long regarding the power of our words.  One prime example, Proverbs 18:21 says, "The tongue can bring both death or life (NLT)."

While there are many expressions of a toxic tongue, comparing ourselves to others leads to words of death. Comparisons can be a carefully laid trap that will lead you down a road of relational ruin.  Sinful comparing tends to measure our own worth through the lens of others' lifestyle or accomplishments.  Ecclesiastes 4:4 notes, "Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors.  But this, too, is meaningless ­– like chasing the wind (NLT)."

Saturday, September 13, 2014

House Church Critiques of the Megachurch: 3 Ways to Make it Better

House Church Critiques of the Megachurch: 3 Ways to Make it Better

Some people are passionate about the debate between megachurches or house churches. This can be good, but passionate people tend to be enthusiastic to the point that they can exaggerate their position—even when research and data do not back up their claims.

For example, some assert that people are leaving megachurches in droves and are headed toward house churches en masse.

Statistically, there is no real evidence of that.

I was recently asked about house church critiques of the megachurch, recorded what I said, and my team turned it into this brief (and narrowly-focused) article.

So, let me share some thoughts on how that conversation might be made better—from a friendly outsider's perspective.

Monday, September 08, 2014

The language of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism-MTD

This morning on the way in I was listening to an old episode of the unfailingly excellent and indispensable Mars Hill Audio Journal, in which sociologist Christian Smith discussed his findings about American youth and Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. I was struck by the part of his discussion with host Ken Myers about how American teenagers lack the basic vocabulary to discuss religious particularities. They are so theologically ignorant they can't even articulate what their own traditions teach. And in this, Smith suggests, they are like their parents.
Myers asked if there are any data to indicate that teenagers today are any more ignorant than past generations of Americans. Not really, Smith said, but anecdotally, when he interviews older professors, they tell him that young people today are markedly less able to discuss religion to any informed degree. Atheist humanities professor Camille Paglia is also bothered by this, but for different reasons:

God Still Performs Miracles: An Interview with Mark Batterson

Do we dare believe that God can speak into our lives powerfully and tangibly? Jesus did this. During his earthly ministry he healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, and even raised the dead. What if he would do these things today?

Click to buy your copy of The Grave Robber in the Bible Gateway Store

How do you define "miracle" and its place in today's world?

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Restaurant's 'Prayer Discount' Sparks Mix Of Praise, Anger

When Jordan Smith got her tab after breakfast at in Winston-Salem, N.C., she was pleasantly surprised to find a 15 percent discount — for "praying in public."

Smith, on a business trip, that she and her colleagues "prayed over our meal and the waitress came over at the end of the meal and said, 'Just so you know, we gave you a 15 percent discount for praying.' "

Smith then snapped a photo of her receipt, complete with a line item for "15% Praying in Public ($6.07)" and posted it to her Facebook page. Not surprisingly, it's gone viral.
Click to read

Friday, August 15, 2014

Robin Williams’ Death an Opportunity to Look at Depression in the Scriptures

"The human spirit can endure in sickness, but a crushed spirit who can bear?" (Proverbs 18:14).

The shocking news of the suicide death of actor Robin Williams has left millions of people all over the world with a mystery: how could someone known for a whole-face smile that caused multitudes of people to laugh to the point of tears be so distraught that he would take his own life? Many are perplexed, and there are many others who are saying to themselves: if anyone knew how desperately depressed I am, they would be surprised.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Beware of Obscurantism

"I can't go to your church, I'm not a Republican."

That was what a pastor friend of mine heard from a neighbor to whom he was reaching out. He eagerly replied, "You don't have to be!" to which his friend responded, "But everyone at your church is."

That's hard to argue when it is true.

So, why does that matter? Well, it matters in a way that might surprise you. You see, this is not a blogpost about politics, but about the gospel—and the need for it to be clearly understood.

Not Politics, But Gospel

The fact of the matter is that the more you to go church, the more likely you are to be a Republican. That's just math. (See my earlier article with cautions about that reality.) The less you go to church, the more likely you are to be a Democrat. (There are individual and group exceptions, but that is what the media call "The God Gap." Don't yell at me about it—I did not create math.)

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Former Bergdahl Pastor Calls for Mercy for 'Prodigal Son' Bowe

"Christians are getting engaged in the lynching," he says. "In any other situation, we'd be hugging the parents."

Since his release on Saturday, white-hot controversy has dogged US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was exchanged for five senior Taliban leaders. The Taliban held him captive for the past five years. Bergdahl is being branded as a deserter for abandoning his unit in eastern Afghanistan.

On Sunday at a White House press conference, President Obama with Bergdahl's parents Robert and Jani at his side announced Bowe's release. Earlier this week, Phil Proctor, pastor of Sterling Presbyterian Church, an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Sterling, Virginia, began distributing an email in response to questions he was receiving about the Bergdahls since he served as their pastor and has remained close to the family. In the five years since Bergdahl's capture, there has been a nationwide campaign for his release with many posters describing Sgt. Bergdahl as a POW.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Now Are We In Christ Jesus ?

When you accepted Jesus as your Lord, and actual creation took place. The old man - your unregenerated spirit man - was replaced by a new man, created in Christ Jesus. Old things passed away and all things became new. The new birth that occurred in you was done by the creative power of God. It took place inside you - in your spirit.

The "creation" that ocurs at the new birth is the same type of "creation" that took place in the first chapter of Genesis. The word translated created in Genesis 1:1 gives the impression that before God brought heaven and earth into existence, there was nothing like it anywhere else. The same is true with the "new creation in Christ Jesus." You are a "new species of being that never existed before."

As a born-again believer, sin has no dominion over you. It can't dominate you. It has to leave you. Satan is a defeated foe; he is not your god. James 4:7 says that if you resist him, he will flee from you.

You need to see yourself "in Christ" and know the reality of it. If you ask some people today, "Are you a son of God?" They'll say, "Who me? Certainly not!" When you ask, "Are you saved?", they'll say, "Oh yes, thank God, I'm just an old sinner, saved by grace." No , you are not! You were a sinner; you got saved by grace! You can't be both at once. You are a new creation in Christ Jesus. You have been born into the kingdom of His love. As far as God is concerned, you are holy, blameless, and beyond reproach. So quit thinking, speaking, and acting like the world. Let go of all those religious "sin tags." Begin confessing that you are the righteousness of God in Christ.

Everything Jesus received when He was raised from the dead, everything that has happened to Jesus since He was raised from the dead, is yours - not just part of it, all of it!

When Jesus was raised from the dead, He received a glorified body. You will get one, too.

Where did Jesus go when He was raised? To the right hand of the Father. That's where you are now! Ephesians 2:6 says, "And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Jesus was raised from the dead by the mighty power of God and was seated at His own right hand in the heavenly places. That same mighty power of God worked in you when you made Jesus the Lord of your life. It raised you up and set you in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.

He is in you and you are in Him. His inheritance and your inheritance are one in the same. You are a joint-heir with Him.​………However, you will never receive any portion of your inheritance until you begin to acknowledge it. With your thoughts, your words, and your actions, you acknowledge the fact that you are in Christ Jesus, that you have received an inheritance, that you have the right to walk in all the blessings and promises of God's Word. Acknowledge the things of God and allow the assurance of them to enter into your heart. Then see them become a part of your life in every area.

How have you been approaching God...on the level of a king or on the level of a beggar? Are you backing your way into the presence of God, hoping to get a handout?

When you made Jesus your Lord, He made you able to stand in the presence of the Father God as a king and a priest, not as a beggar - as the righteousness of God in Christ, not as a sinner. You have been redeemed out of the kingdom of darkness and translated into the kingdom of God's dear Son. You have been redeemed into kingship and priesthood. You are a king and a priest in Christ Jesus!

Read Kenneth Copeland's full article

Monday, January 20, 2014

A question of justice

Suppose a serial killer like Jeffrey Dahmer enjoys a lifestyle torturing, killing and cannibalizing people for fun. He eventually gets caught and goes to prison. In prison he becomes a born-again Christian and all this sins are absolved from him. He then gets killed and goes to heaven since the mere act of conversion into Christianity cleanses him of all previous wrong doings. Some of this victims however were not Christian when they were murdered and so they go to hell when they die. So not only are the murder victims tortured and murdered in this world, they get sent to hell to be tortured even worse, but now it is forever, while their murderer enjoys everlasting peace in heaven