What’s it like to grow up within a group of people who exult in demonizing … everyone else? Megan Phelps-Roper shares details of life inside America’s most controversial church and describes how conversations on Twitter were key to her decision to leave it. In this extraordinary talk, she shares her personal experience of extreme polarization, along with some sharp ways we can learn to successfully engage across ideological lines.
I love this book. I have the audio series and have listened many times. This is a good quick reminder of what each habit is about.
This short film documents the friendship between Bono (of the band U2) and Eugene Peterson (author of contemporary-language Bible translation The Message) revolving around their common interest in the Psalms. Based on interviews conducted by Fuller Seminary faculty member David Taylor and produced in association with Fourth Line Films, the film highlights in particular a conversation on the Psalms that took place between Bono, Peterson, and Taylor at Peterson’s Montana home.
This was a great sermon from the series, Adjustments, from the book of John. It was helpful to differentiate the common mistakes people make about the act of judgement. How do we handle these situations? The Bible uses the word judgement in many places, however you will see that the Greek words used have different meanings from our English word for judgement. Take a listen.
sermon (dated October 2, 2016)
by Tim Challies
I feel sorry for those people who spend all day on social media snarking at others. Do they just sit there hour after hour, following people they despise, then throwing barbs their way? That must be an awful way to live. Some people seem to shrivel where there is peace and thrive where there is contention. The book of Proverbs warns us about people like that, people who love to incite conflict and hate to resolve it. Lou Priolo highlights a number of them in his excellent book Resolving Conflict. These are the provocative people of Proverbs.
The hot-tempered person. “A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but the slow to anger calms a dispute” (15:18). The hot-tempered man is passionate about all kinds of things and allows that passion to well up into anger. He’s your classic hothead who so easily blows his top. His passion and anger incites him to stir up strife, to cause problems that could otherwise be avoided or resolved.
The perverse person. “A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends” (16:28). Just like a computer hacker writes a virus and releases it to spread across the internet, this perverse person creates strife—bitter disagreement—and seeds it into his relationships. He may do this through slander, through gossip, and through backbiting, always with the design of turning other people against his victim. His perversity is aimed at harming others.
The lover of transgression. “He who loves transgression loves strife; he who raises his door seeks destruction” (17:19). Instead of loving and pursuing all that is good and lovely in the world, this person loves sin, he loves strife, he loves what is evil and ugly. “Who else would love strife besides a person who also loves sin? He enjoys a good fight, whether he is in the ring himself or is coaching from the corner. By raising his door (opening his mouth in pride) he finds what he is looking for—someone getting annihilated.”
read the rest here.
by Juan Sanchez
Many of us find evangelism daunting, even frightening. However, evangelism should take place as we naturally converse with people. As we have normal conversations, we are to look for opportunities to speak to people about Christ. In a normal evangelism culture, we will pray together for the unbelieving, and we will celebrate gospel conversations, not just “deals closed.”
Here are 10 practices of normal evangelism.
- Know the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Four words provide an outline for the gospel: God, man, Christ, response. When we understand the gospel, we know that GOD is holy and created a world without sin. God provided mankind with all he needed to dwell in his presence. But, MAN rebelled against God, and rebellion requires judgment, the penalty of which is death. Yet, God in his grace, provided CHRIST as a representative substitute to live a life of perfect obedience and to receive upon himself the penalty of sin on our behalf. Jesus was raised from the dead on the third day, proving his victory over sin and death. Now, all who RESPOND with repentance from sin and faith in Jesus have eternal life. This is the good news that we must know in order to share it with others.
- Live your life in light of this gospel. As this gospel takes root in our own lives and we begin to apply it to our marriages, parenting, relationships, and lives together as a church, then our lives will be markedly different than the world and thereby attractive. How can we announce that this gospel is the power of God to save and change lives if we who profess Christ continue living just like the world?
- Pray and fast for unbelievers (John 14:12-14; 15:7-8). One reason unbelieving people are not on our minds is because we don’t pray for them. Make a list of unbelieving people and begin praying for their salvation. But also ask God to open doors for evangelism, then by faith be obedient when the opportunities arise.
- Be willing to share your life with unbelievers (1 Thessalonians. 2:1-8). If we are going to reach unbelievers, we need to get to know them: where they live, shop, eat, recreate. Look for opportunities to relate with them where they are, instead of thinking they will come to us. Let us wisely share our lives with unbelievers: talking to them, inviting them to church or into your home for a meal.
- Share the gospel with urgency (2 Peter 3:8-10). To be sure, we need to share the gospel naturally & clearly, but we must also share it urgently. Right now is the time for salvation. When a person dies or Christ returns, there will be no more opportunities for repentance and faith.
- Study the doctrine of hell. If you lack urgency in evangelism, then study the doctrine of hell. As you consider the fate of those who reject Christ, ask God to break your heart and move you with urgency to share the good news with the lost.
- Invite unbelievers to repent and believe. The gospel requires a response. We must call on all people everywhere to repent (turn away from their sinful ways) and believe (in Jesus Christ).
- Invite unbelievers to church. Invite the unbelieving, unchurched to come with you on the Lord’s day so that they may hear the gospel proclaimed. Surprisingly, in a 2010 study of unbelieving, unchurched people in Austin, a large number indicated that they would be open to invitations to go to church. Imagine that! They don’t come because we don’t ask.
- Trust Christ for the results. Faithfulness, not results is what God requires of us. Salvation is of the Lord, so we must trust the sovereign Lord to do his work in the hearts of unbelieving people. Our responsibility is to faithfully share the gospel indiscriminately.
- Share with others and ask them to join you in prayer. I have found it encouraging to hear other Christians’ stories of evangelism. Share your evangelism encounters, celebrate simply sharing the gospel, and pray together for those souls. Let’s make evangelism normal again!
Find the original post here.
by RC Sproul
Have you, as a Christian, ever been accused of legalism? That word is often bandied about in the Christian subculture incorrectly. For example, some people might call John a legalist because they view him as narrow-minded. But the term legalism does not refer to narrow-mindedness. In reality, legalism manifests itself in many subtle ways.
Basically, legalism involves abstracting the law of God from its original context. Some people seem to be preoccupied in the Christian life with obeying rules and regulations, and they conceive of Christianity as being a series of do’s and don’ts, cold and deadly set of moral principles. That’s one form of legalism, where one is concerned merely with the keeping of God’s law as an end in itself.
Now, God certainly cares about our following His commandments. Yet there is more to the story that we dare not forget. God gave laws such as the Ten Commandments in the context of the covenant. First, God was gracious. He redeemed His people out of slavery in Egypt and entered into a loving, filial relationship with Israel. Only after that grace-based relationship was established did God begin to define the specific laws that are pleasing to Him. I had a professor in graduate school who said, “The essence of Christian theology is grace, and the essence of Christian ethics is gratitude.” The legalist isolates the law from the God who gave the law. He is not so much seeking to obey God or honor Christ as he is to obey rules that are devoid of any personal relationship.
Read the rest here.
This is one of the books that has helped me through my divorce. God is in charge of everything. ~Beth
About this list of the 100 Top Christian Blogs
To make this list of top Christian blogs, I gathered and inspected about 500 Christian blogs and ranked them using a variety of factors. Some of the blogs I inspected are listed below the list of the 100 Top Christians blogs.
I will update this list occasionally, so if you want your blog to be considered for future ranking, and your blog is not listed below the list of 100 Top Christian blogs, please include a link to your blog in the comment section. Thanks!
Oh, and do I need to say it?
I guess so…. sigh…
Disclaimer: I do not necessarily endorse all the views or perspectives of the bloggers on this list. The list contains many Christian bloggers who write from theological perspectives with which I have some disagreement.
Like who? (Let’s see who I can offend…) Calvinists, Charismatics, Conservative Baptists, and Catholics, just to name a few. Remember, I, Jeremy Myers, am the ONLY correct blogger in the world. (I’m KIDDING!)
Anyway, if someone is on the list of Top Christian blogs and you think they are a heretic, don’t burn me for it! Go be a troll on their site… (I’m kidding again!)
How I Created the List of 100 Top Christian Blogs
Below is an explanation of how I went about ranking these 100 Top Christian Blogs.
First, I gathered the list of Christian blogs using these sites:
- Invesp Top Christian Blogs List
- Kent Shaffer’s Top Christian Blogs
- Jared Moore’s List of Christian Blogs
- Top Christian Blogs ranked by Twitter Followers
- Top Christian Blogs ranked by Facebook Likes
Second, I removed all “Community Blogs” which had multiple authors. This caused all blogs from Patheos, the Gospel Coalition, and other similar blogs to be dropped from the list. The reason I did this twofold. Many of these community blogs are not accurately ranked by Alexa and SimilarWeb, which are two of the ranking factors I used (see below). But more than this, I wanted this list to honor the individual blogger who started his or her blog from scratch, and has labored away at it for years, slowly building an audience and faithfully writing quality posts which get read and shared. Those huge mega community blogs often overshadow the quality writing and hard work of individual bloggers. So if a blogger was writing on a community blog, I kept them off my list.
Finally, once I had my list of individual bloggers, I ranked them using a variety of factors. These factors include:
- Traffic Rank on Alexa
- Traffic Rank on SimilarWeb
- Back link Count (shows people are linking to your content)
- Pages Indexed by Google (shows that the blogger is writing a lot)
- A variety of other traffic and social signals
The ranking number in the list below is a compilation of these ranking signals. The lower the number, the better the blog ranks.
How to get on this list of Top Christian Blogs
If you are not on this list and you want to work toward getting on it, or if you are on it and want to know what you can do to rise in the ranks of these top Christian blogs, here are six recommendations:
- Hone your blogging skills by watching my free Blogging Tutorial Videos
- Add the Alexa Traffic Rank Extension to your preferred web browser.
- Read and leave comments on popular blogs (like this one!). By reading blogs you learn how to write a blog, and commenting is a great way to gain readers for your own blog.
- Get a Premium WordPress blog theme that is mobile responsive. Most blog readers are reading on mobile devices these days. I only use StudioPress themes.
- Get a WordPress plugin like Social Network Auto Poster to help your posts get listed on social sites like Twitter, Facebook, and others.
- Write, write, write, and write some more!
Get the blog list here.
This post goes hand in hand with the last I just posted. To different authors but if you read them both you will see the correlation. ~Beth
The Pharisees distorted the emphasis of biblical righteousness to suit their own behavioral patterns of self-justification. Jesus frequently confronted the Pharisees on this point. Jesus said to them, “You tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness” (Matt. 23:23a). On numerous occasions, Jesus acknowledged that the Pharisees scrupulously obeyed some points of the law. They paid their tithes, they read their Scriptures, they did a host of things the law required-and Jesus commended them for their actions, saying, “These you ought to have done” (Matt. 23:23b). However, it was the emphasis that was out of kilter. They scrupulously tithed, but in doing so they used their obedience to this lesser matter as a cloak to cover up their refusal to obey the weightier matters of justice and mercy. That distortion occurs today.
It is much more difficult to measure the disposition of our hearts than it is to measure the number of movies we attend
Why do we have a perpetual tendency to major in minors? As Christians, we want to be recognized for our growth in sanctification and for our righteousness. Which is easier to achieve, maturity in showing mercy or in the paying of tithes? To pay my tithes certainly involves a financial sacrifice of sorts, but there is a real sense in which it is cheaper for me to drop my money into the plate than it is for me to invest my life in the pursuit of justice and mercy. We tend to give God the cheapest gifts. Which is easier, to develop the fruit of the Spirit, conquering pride, covetousness, greed, and impatience, or to avoid going to movie theaters or dancing? We also yearn for clearly observable measuring rods of growth. How do we measure our growth in patience or in compassion? It is much more difficult to measure the disposition of our hearts than it is to measure the number of movies we attend.
It is also our inclination as fallen creatures to rate as most important those virtues in which we have achieved a relative degree of success. Naturally, I would like to think that my moral strong points are the important ones and my moral weaknesses are limited to minor matters. It is a short step from this natural inclination to a widespread distortion of God’s emphases.
From: FEEDING ON CHRIST
One of the more important aspects of the book of Genesis is the way in which the Holy Spirit lays bare the inner motives and desires that drive the actions of the members of the patriarchal family. The cameos of the men and women of the covenant family set out, in stark contrast, the antithesis between living life in the flesh and living life in the Spirit, by human effort or by divine promise–by works or by faith. In short, we find, in the patriarchal narratives, the seemingly insatiable quest for safety and satisfaction–interestingly, the very things that God graciously pledged to give Abraham by faith in the coming Christ (Gen. 15:1).
In the patriarchal family we see the father of the faithful handing his wife off to a powerful king (twice!) in order to gain security (Gen. 12:10-20; 20:2). We find him taking his wife’s handmaiden to himself in order to attempt to gain, by human effort, the satisfaction promised by the Covenant God (Gen. 16). We find this same principle at work in the life of his son, Isaac, when he also lied about his wife to protect himself (Gen. 26:7); and again when he chose to show partiality to Esau–the son of Isaac’s flesh who seemed to embody what he wished were true of himself (Gen. 25:28). Additionally, we see it in Jacob seeking to gain the birthright by con-artistry and deception (Gen. 25:29-34; 27:1-29)–another attempt to work for the blessing of God.
While all of these acts are meant to draw our attention to the fact that the promises of God can only be received by faith in the Redeemer, they also warn us about the heart-idolatry that manifested itself in the lives of the patriarchs…even as it often does in our own lives. The essence of this idolatry was seen in the members of the covenant family seeking to find protection and fulfillment in themselves or in their closest of relations rather than in the living God of promise.
This family idolatry is preeminently seen in Leah seeking to win the love of her husband by having children for him and in her sister, Rachel, putting herself in competition with her in order to find satisfaction and fulfillment in bearing children (Gen. 30:1).
In his excellent book on the lives of Isaac and Jacob, Living in the Grip of Relentless Grace, Iain Duguid draws out of the Rachel-Leah saga the fact that idolatry lay at the heart of both women’s race to have children. He writes:
“This is the essence of idolatry: someone or something other than the living God is occupying the God-shaped space at the core of our being. We were created as worshiping beings, people whose meaning and purpose cannot be derived from ourselves but must come from outside us. There is always someone or something other than ourselves on which we have hung our whole identity or self-worth. If we turn our backs on the true God, we inevitably attempt to fill that void with something else. Whatever we must have instead of, or as well as, the God of the Bible, if life is to have meaning for us—that is our idol. For you, it may be health, comfort, wealth, control, the affection of a particular individual, or any of a thousand and one things. Whatever it is, it is an idol. Idols, however, ultimately never satisfy. In reality, a deep relationship with God and God alone is all we need to possess life in all its fullness (see Ps. 27:4–5).”1
This serves as a warning for those of us in the church today. We, no different than they, have hearts that are conditioned and bent toward giving our time, energy and affection to created things and persons–even to those who are our closest of relatives in the home–rather than to the living and true God. The perniciousness of this idolatry is seen in the fact that we can even make idols of our spouse or children in the name of being a good husband or wife, father or mother–all the while justifying our idolatry as if we are doing it as unto the Lord. Throughout the Genesis narrative, the men and women of the patriarchal home are constantly appealing to the name of the God of the covenant while acting with sinful and idolatrous motives (Gen. 27:20; 30:6; 30:13).
Read the rest here.
Last Thursday the New York Times broke a story that the Obama administration would issue a directive for every public school in the nation allowing bathroom access based on self-identity of gender. It’s a huge story with sweeping consequences.
I don’t often weigh in on political issues. One reason is the purpose of this blog, which is helping leaders in established churches, not bantering on politics. As a pastor, I have people in my congregation with various political views. I’m not afraid to preach issues, but I try not to stir up needless political controversy in my church. However, on this issue, I must speak.
When I was in high school, I played basketball. I identified as a superior player, perhaps six foot eight inches with a slam dunk similar to Vince Carter. In reality, I’m six inches shorter, and my rare dunks looked more like an albatross taking off.
Identity can be detached from reality.
What if a rich person identified as poor and claimed she no longer needed to pay taxes? You might say, “That’s a financial reality. She can’t do that.” But what is the philosophical difference between a financial reality and a biological one?
What if a white person wanted to identify as a black person in order to claim the black experience? It’s already happened, and there was uproar. Rightly so. But what is the philosophical difference between an ethnic reality and a biological one?
What if a young teen wanted to identify as a senior citizen and claim the right to vote prematurely? What’s the philosophical difference between a geriatric reality and a biological one?
What if a dying person wanted to identify as healthy and gain access to life insurance shortly before passing? What’s the philosophical difference between a reality of physical fitness and a biological one of gender?
This identity madness must stop. You don’t get to choose who you are. God made you exactly the way He wants you. And you are beautiful as God made you. You can no more choose your gender identity than you can choose your wealth, ethnicity, age, or health.
So what is a pastor to do? Let me offer some recommendations.
- Don’t ignore the issue. It’s not going away. Most of your people are paying attention to this issue. It affects everyone. I addressed it from the pulpit on Sunday. Why? It’s a major cultural issue that’s at the front of everyone’s mind. Pastors are called by God to teach their congregations. All churches deserve an answer from their pastors on this issue.
- Teach with clarity, not nuance. Go right to the heart of the issue and address it biblically and clearly. Don’t hide behind big words or fuzzy nuances. Tell your people exactly what you expect them to believe on this issue. If news reports contain more facts about gender identity than your sermon, then you’re not preaching. You’re dancing.
- Display a genuine concern for people who identify as transgender. Jesus loves them, and so should you. Crude jokes and snarky sermon soundbites won’t solve the problem. We should care for anyone struggling with gender identity issues. You can put a stake in the ground on this issue while at the same time exhibiting love for hurting and confused people. Truth and love are two sides of the same coin. God’s truth compels us to love others. And to love others, you don’t have to compromise the truth.
- Give practical advice. The theological foundation is important, but your people likely want to know what to do. I’ve counseled transgender people, as well as their family members. I’m sure I will have many questions from church members if public schools in our community abide by the Obama administration’s directives. Both truth and love require action. You need to help people take practical next steps.
- Don’t make unnecessary enemies. Stay focused on the gospel. We’re not fighting against flesh and blood. Your neighbor is not your enemy, even the transgender one.
Our culture is changing at an incredibly fast pace. Like a machine running at full capacity 24/7, we can’t keep moving this fast without lots of things breaking. And by “things,” I mean actual people. Broken people need the gospel. We’ve got work to do. The mission of God doesn’t advance by bellyaching.
hen we think about stewardship, we think primarily about money. That’s a good and right thing, because when we think and talk about money, we are patterning our messages after those of Jesus. When you look back to the recorded teachings of Jesus in Scripture, you find a surprising number of references to the subject of personal finance. That’s not because Jesus wants our money; it’s certainly not because He needs our money. It’s because Jesus is after our hearts, and He knows that the clearest window into what we truly love, desire and pursue is visible through our bank statements.
Think about it – Jesus could have set up anything as the primary competitor to God in our lives. He could have easily said something like, “You cannot serve both God and power,” or “You cannot serve both God and sex,” but instead He chose money: “No one can be a slave of two masters, since either he will hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot be slaves of God and of money” (Matthew 6:24).
Money matters, because the heart matters. So it’s good and right for us to think about stewardship in terms of money. At the same time, stewardship is not exclusively about money. Instead, it’s a holistic view of God as the owner, and we as His servants who have been entrusted with all kinds of resources, each of which provides an opportunity for the sake of the kingdom of God. So while we should think deeply about the money God has seen fit to flow into our lives, our view of stewardship cannot stop there. It’s got to be bigger.
In light of that, here are three neglected objects of stewardship for you to think about today:
1. Your home.
Hospitality was one of the hallmarks of the early church. These fledgling believers were marked by generosity not only in their money, but in the opening up of their homes to others, welcoming them in. Paul listed hospitality in his practical exhortations of gospel-rooted living (Rom. 12:9-13) and went on to say that hospitality is one of the characteristics that must be present in church leaders (1 Tim. 3:2). Our homes are a resource, and we should be joyfully generous with them. That can mean things like hosting a small group, but in a broader sense, it means asking the simple question of why God has given you the home you have in the neighborhood you have around the people who live there. If He has done so intentionally, the home is a resource that should be made much of.
Furthermore, when we practice stewardship through hospitality, we mirror the gospel. The word itself, hospitality, comes from a combination of Greek words – the word for “love” and the word for “stranger.” When we invite others in hospitably, we are loving the stranger, which is exactly what God has done for us. When we were enemies and rebels, strangers to the faith, God invited us into His home as His sons and daughters.
Read the rest here.
It has always saddened me over the years as I’ve watched church leaders bring reproach on the church of Jesus Christ. What’s perhaps most shocking to me is how frequently Christian leaders sin grossly, then step back into leadership almost as soon as the publicity dies away.
Some time ago I received a recording that disturbed me greatly. It was audio of the recommissioning service for a pastor who had made national news by confessing to an adulterous affair. After little more than a year of “counseling and rehabilitation,” this man was returning to public ministry with his church’s blessing.
It is happening everywhere. Restoration teams—equipped with manuals to instruct the church on how to reinstate its fallen pastor—wait like tow truck drivers on the side of the highway, anticipating the next leadership “accident.” Grace Community Church, where I pastor, has received inquiries wondering if it has written guidelines or a workbook to help in restoring fallen pastors to leadership. Many no doubt expect that a church the size of ours would have a systematic rehabilitation program for sinning leaders.
Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong within the contemporary church. But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader’s sin. That churches are so eager to bring these men back into leadership—and to do so relatively quickly—is a symptom of rottenness to the core.
Christians must not regard leadership in the church lightly. The foremost requirement of a leader is that he “must be above reproach” (1 Timothy 3:2, 10; Titus 1:7). That is a difficult prerequisite, and not everyone can meet it.
Some kinds of sin irreparably shatter a man’s reputation and disqualify him from a ministry of leadership forever—because he can no longer be above reproach. Even Paul, man of God that he was, said he feared such a possibility: “I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Corinthians 9:27).
When referring to his body, Paul obviously had sexual immorality in view. In 1 Corinthians 6:18 he describes it as a sin against one’s own body—sexual sin is in its own category. Certainly it disqualifies a man from church leadership, because he permanently forfeits a blameless reputation as a one-woman man (Proverbs 6:33; 1 Timothy 3:2).
Where did we get the idea that a year’s leave of absence can restore integrity to someone who has squandered his reputation and destroyed people’s trust? Certainly not from the Bible. Trust forfeited is not so easily regained. Once a man sacrifices his purity, the ability to lead by example is lost forever. As my friend Chuck Swindoll once commented when referring to the issue—it takes only one pin to burst a balloon.
What about forgiveness? Shouldn’t we be eager to restore our fallen brethren? To fellowship, yes. But not to leadership. It is not an act of love to return a disqualified man to public ministry; it is an act of disobedience.
By all means we should be forgiving. But we cannot erase the consequences of sin. I am not advocating that we “shoot our wounded.” I’m simply saying that we shouldn’t rush them back to the front lines—and we should not put them in charge of other soldiers. The church should do everything possible to minister to those who have sinned and repented. But that does not include restoring the mantle of leadership to a man who has disqualified himself and forfeited his right to lead. Doing so is unbiblical and lowers the standard God has set.
Why is the contemporary church so eager to be tolerant in restoring fallen leaders? I’m certain a major reason is the sin and unbelief that pervade the church. If casual Christians can lower the level of leadership, they will be much more comfortable with their own sin. With lower moral standards for its leaders, the church becomes more tolerant of sin and less tolerant of holiness. The “sinner-friendly” church is intolerable to God. And such a church reveals the precarious status of contemporary Christendom—a reality that should frighten all serious and obedient believers.
Conservative Christians have a strong legacy of battling for doctrinal purity. And that is good. But we are losing the battle for moral purity. Some of the worst defeats have occurred among our most visible leaders. The church cannot lower the standard to accommodate them. We should hold it higher so the church can regain its purity. If we lose here, we have utterly failed, no matter how orthodox our confession of faith. We can’t be salt and light if we compromise the biblical standard of moral purity for our leaders.
In view of this crisis in leadership and morality, what should you do? Pray for your church’s leaders. Keep them accountable. Encourage them. Let them know you are following their godly example. Understand that they are not perfect. But continue nonetheless to call them to the highest standards of godliness and purity. The church must have leaders who are genuinely above reproach. Anything less is an abomination.
Find the original post here.