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Showing posts from December, 2018

5 Things Failed New Year’s Resolutions Teach Us

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By Brad Larson - Posted at The Gospel Coalition: I used to have a tradition for New Year’s resolutions. I would find some quiet time before New Year’s Day—maybe when the kids were napping—and sit on the porch with my Bible and a journal. I would, in sequence, read Scripture, pray, and journal. At the end, I would write some resolutions for the year to come. I recently flipped through some of my old journals, and the resolutions were pretty much the same each year, only with different wording or different color ink. Some were casual, like deadlifting X number of pounds. Others were more serious, like learning to serve my wife with joy instead of duty. After writing my resolutions, I’d look at them in the coming days—never often. Most of the time, I forgot they existed. By June, they had evaporated from my mind. I’ve failed at keeping most of my resolutions, and most of us have failed at keeping resolutions, whether they’ve been to pray more or lose 10 pounds. The University of Scra

Being a witness: an interview (of sorts) with Francis Schaeffer

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By Jon Dykstra - Posted at Reformed Perspective: Francis Schaeffer (1912-1984) has long since been retired from his earthly duties, but the Presbyterian pastor, philosopher, and apologist was still up for an interview (of sorts) on the desperate need for a clear Christian witness in the public square. The text in bold is his own words, taken from his book A Christian Manifesto . **** JON DYKSTRA: A Christian Manifesto was your last book. Why did you feel the need to write it? FRANCIS SCHAEFFER: It was intended as a rallying cry for Christians, to stand up against the world’s humanist worldview, by offering up God’s own. The basic problem of the Christians in this country…in regards to society and in regards to government is that they have seen things in bits and pieces instead of totals. They have gradually become disturbed over permissiveness, pornography, the public schools, the breakdown of the family, and finally, abortion. But they have not seen this as a totality – each th

Arrests and Torture as China Wages War on Christians

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Posted at Voice of the Persecuted : The Chinese government has implemented a crack down on the Church not seen since Mao began his war against Christians in 1949. More Chinese Christians were arrested during the Christmas season. Chinese authorities continue to raid and close churches, arrest unregistered church members, pressure them with round-the-clock surveillance and the threat of detainment. Pastors like Wang Yi of Early Rain Covenant Church are encouraging their congregations to stand strong and to prepare for much greater hardships. See video sermons (below) given by Pastor Wang Yi to his church members before his arrest. Be encouraged in your own faith as well in your prayers for our brothers and sisters in China. On December 9th, 2018, authorities arrested more than 100 members and leaders of Early Rain Covenant Church, including Pastor Wang Yi as we reported here . He and his wife have been charged with “inciting to subvert state power.” Three church members who wer

After Alleged Mishandling of Molestation Scandal, ARBCA Hurting

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Posted at Pulpit & Pen : Tom Chantry, son of famed Reformed Baptist, Walter Chantry, is now a disgraced former-pastor who rests behind bars for a string of child molestations. Chantry stood trial in July for five counts of child molestation and three for assault. He was found guilty of two cases of assault (the molestation charges received a mistrial), but was soon charged with an additional 9 new cases of abuse in September, re-arrested, and was held on one million dollars in bond. As sad as this story is, it’s even sadder for many in the Reformed Baptist Community, who knew Tom and respected him as a colleague and peer. He wrote and commented often at Pyromaniacs and was a constant voice in conservative Reformed Baptist social media. Unfortunately, the consequences for Chantry’s denomination – the Association of Reformed Baptist Churches of America – are dire. Accusations against Chantry began coming in as early as 1995. ARBCA chose a three-person panel to investigat

Applying the Most Popular Promise of 2018

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"fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." - Isaiah 41:10 ESV Posted at Reformation Scotland : According to the YouVersion Bible App, Isaiah 41:10 “was shared, bookmarked and highlighted more than any other this year” on their platform. It’s one of the many “fear not” verses of the Bible and some find that significant. No doubt the focus on bible verses addressing fear may be facilitated by the emoji-based search on YouVersion’s Bible App. This allows users to tap images corresponding to various emotions which in turn locate related Bible verses. Apparently individuals conducted more than 18 million searches to find what the Bible might say to them in the midst of their emotional highs and lows. Apparently the app is used by 350 million devices worldwide. Bible promises are meant to be treasured and to be used in times of trouble and need; they are meant

Samuel Davies: A Christmas Day Sermon

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Posted at GraceGems.org :  December 25, 1760 Rev. Samuel Davies "And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God, and saying: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace, good-will towards men!" Luke 2:13, 14 This is the day which the church of Rome, and some other churches that deserve to be placed in better company, have agreed to celebrate in memory of the Prince of Peace , the Savior of men, the incarnate God, Immanuel . And I doubt not—but many convert superstition into rational and Scriptural devotion, and piously employ themselves in a manner acceptable to God, though they lack the sanction of divine authority for appropriating this day to a sacred use. But, alas! it is generally a season of sinning, sensuality, luxury, and various forms of extravagance; as though men were not celebrating the birth of the holy Jesus—but of Venus —the goddess of sex, or Bacchus —the god of wine—whose most sacred rites were myster

Christmas Church Services: An Introduction to the Regulative Principle of Worship

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Posted at The New Geneva : Churches really like to pull out all the stops at Christmas, don’t they? Maybe you’ve been to an over-the-top evangelical church Christmas service, like I have? I read something just this week that gave advice for churches who want to go all out on a Christmas service: “Usually the goal is to create a ‘Wow!’ experience for the people who rarely come to church as well as those who have never been. And hopefully, this ‘Wow!’ experience will get them to come back and start attending more regularly,” it said. But should the goal of a corporate worship service really be to create a “Wow!” experience… for the attendees? Before reforming, I knew intuitively this goal was somehow wrong, but I could not have explained my reasoning outside of simply expressing a preference. Perhaps I could say “The things that are creating a ‘wow’ experience don’t belong in a corporate worship service! Skits, dances, and candle ceremonies are not appropriate for worshiping God!”

Jesus the Refugee

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By Rev. Martyn McGeown - Posted at Reformed Free Publishing Association : Around this time of the year, liberal churches like to focus on certain aspects of the story of Christ’s nativity in order to make political commentary. One of the favorite approaches of such liberal commentators, whether the pope of Rome, the archbishop of Canterbury, or liberal churches in the USA and Europe, is to present the baby Jesus as a migrant or a refugee . For example, a church in Massachusetts recently erected a “nativity scene” in which “the baby Jesus” was locked up in a cage, separating him from Mary and Joseph, while the “three wise men” were blocked from reaching Jesus by a wall or a fence. Such a scene was designed to provoke a conversation about immigration, constituted a protest against the separation of children from their parents by U.S. border control, and was designed to raise awareness about the plight of caravans of migrants attempting to cross the same U.S. border. It is not m

Denying Any Wrongdoing?

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Posted at Reformation Scotland : Any news bulletin about an allegation seems inevitably to include the phrase that the accused “denies any wrongdoing”. It seems to indicate a reflex response of stoutly resisting the glare of scrutiny. Whether accused in the court of public opinion or the law courts, no guilt can be admitted. Its constant use gives the impression of a society of either very scrupulous or unscrupulous consciences. It comes straight from the lawyer’s office of course. It is used in the narrow sense of breaking civil law and the liability that this would involve. The phrase makes us think more deeply, however, about the nature of what is required from us morally. Can any of us say that in any action or event we have not been guilty of any kind of wrongdoing whatsoever? Are we tempted to claim that? What should be our response to the claims of God’s law on us? Scripture makes it clear that we cannot say that we are without sin (Ecclesiastes 7:20). There is a constant

Gay, transgender youth at 'significantly higher risk' of suicide than heterosexual peers: study

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By Leah MarieAnn Klett - Posted at the Christian Post : LGBT youth are at a higher risk of suicide and life-threatening behavior than their heterosexual peers, a new study has found, with transgender teens being the most at risk. A systematic review and meta-analysis of 2.5 million adolescents published in JAMA Pediatrics concluded that “sexual minority youths” — those identifying as “homosexual,” “bisexual,” “transgender” — “have a significantly higher risk of life-threatening behavior compared with their heterosexual peers.” To examine the risk of attempted suicide among sexual minority adolescents, differentiating for each sexual minority group, researchers searched electronic databases for articles published through April 30, 2017, with the following search terms: heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, adolescents, teens, and attempted suicide. In total, thirty-five studies reported in 22 articles that involved 2,378,987 heterosexual and 113,468 sexual minority a

Prof. Gagnon Responds to Christian Groups’ Compromise with LGBTQ Activists on Sexual Orientation Laws

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Posted at Americans for Truth About Homosexuality : “Jesus didn’t formulate the Golden Rule to provide special legal protections for, and promotion of, immoral behavior.” — Prof. Robert Gagnon Folks, the largely Christian social conservative movement never seems to learn that by constantly “playing defense” and backing up in the face of a hyper-aggressive LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) movement, we will always lose. Now a group of “leaders” from two evangelical associations are getting in the game, floating a disastrous and cowardly compromise with “gay” and “transgender” activists that would only help advance the normalization of sex-and-gender perversion in the United States. Prof. Robert Gagnon , probably the world’s leading authority on the Bible and homosexuality, here ably responds to this misguided proposal. — Peter LaBarbera, AFTAH; Twitter: @PeterLaBarbera _____________________________________ Dr. Robert Gagnon’s Response to Evangelical Leade

What About Nativity Scenes at Christmas?

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Posted at The New Geneva : I love the Christmas season! One of my favorite things to do is take walks through the “Candy Cane Lane” in our neighborhood. What a delight to the senses to feel the cool winter air, smell the wood fireplaces, and see all the colorful Christmas decorations and lights. Several years ago I noticed more and more Nativity scenes being displayed to honor the birth of Jesus. After becoming Reformed, I began wondering if somehow images of Jesus were a violation of the second commandment (which prohibits images of God). I tried to dismiss this thought by telling myself that since Jesus was the “reason for the season,” these images can’t be wrong. When I first mentioned this to my wife, she scoffed at me! Why would it be wrong to have a miniature figurine of the baby Jesus in our home? A manger had always been one of her favorite things to display by the fireplace. But then—one Christmas season—the baby Jesus happened to disappear from our manger! Hmm…

China: 'Missing pastor's wife held in secret prison'

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Early Rain Covenant Church Pastor Wang Yi (left) at the Hudson Institute in 2006. (Photo: ChinaAid) Posted at ChinaAid : (Chengdu, Sichuan—Dec. 13, 2018) The wife of a Chinese pastor is being secretly held in an undisclosed prison after authorities took her and around 100 others from her church into custody. Jiang Rong, who is married to Early Rain Covenant Church Pastor Wang Yi, was taken away Sunday night along with her husband and has not been seen since. More than 100 of their congregation members were also swept up in the raids, and people from the church are still being brought to the police station. Some have reported suffering violent abuse at the hands of the police. Jiang has been placed under “residential surveillance at a designated location,” a type of imprisonment that involves being held in a secret prison. Authorities pinned her with an “inciting subversion of state power” charge. According to Chinese law, Jiang may be held in secret detention for up to s

US Christian teacher fired for not using preferred pronouns

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Posted at The Christian Institute: A Christian schoolteacher has been fired from his position at West Point High School, Virginia, after he refused to use a student’s preferred pronouns. Peter Vlaming, a French teacher, said that using male pronouns for a female student identifying as ‘male’ violated his conscience. Despite offering to use the student’s name the school board dismissed him on the grounds of discrimination. Compelled speech Mr Vlaming stressed that he was not intending to be offensive or discriminatory saying: “I’m happy to avoid female pronouns not to offend because I’m not here to provoke”. “I can’t refer to a female as a male, and a male as a female in good conscience and faith”. Read more here. 

Over 578 kids sexually abused at US children's camps; victim describes being molested by counselor

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By Stoyan Zaimov - Posted at the Christian Post : More than 578 children have been victims of sexual abuse at children's camps in the U.S. over the past 55 years, according to a new report. A news segment on " CBS This Morning ” reported that 21 cases surfaced this year, though victims’ advocates fear many other children haven't reported the abuse they suffered. One mother in Texas who wasn’t named allowed her son to speak with a psychologist about the molestation he suffered at the hands of a camp counselor in 2009. "After you took a shower, you'd put on your towel, and he didn't want you to wear underwear under it," the boy said, adding that the alleged incident happened at Camp La Junta.  "He would check all the kids, but under their towel," he added. "He wouldn't look under there. He'd just stick his hand up." The boy’s mother said she knew something was wrong when he returned home. Read more here. See

China: 'More Than 100 Sichuan House Church Members Arrested'

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Posted at International Christian Concern : 12/10/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that more than 100 members and leaders of Autumn Rain Covenant Church in China’s Sichuan province have been arrested. The arrests took place on December 9 after local authorities raided the homes of many church members. According to a statement from the church, beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, the police raided and surrounded the church, arresting a church staff member. Around 9:00 p.m., members’ WeChat accounts and cellphone group discussions were blocked, while the church’s telephone line was also shut down. In the meantime, the police ambushed dozens of homes, arresting numerous church members and leaders, including Pastor Wang Yi and his wife. Some were forced to sign a document stating that they will no longer attend the house church. A member requesting anonymity told Associated French Press , “Most church member

The Remedy for a World Gone Toxic

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Posted at Reformation Scotland : It’s the Word of the Year – “toxic”. Every year Oxford Dictionaries choose a word or expression to reflect the passing year in language. Their data shows that people used the term to describe a broad range of situations. Things like workplaces, schools, relationships, cultures, and stress. It’s commonly used about political debate and rhetoric, of course. “Reviewing this year in language, we repeatedly encountered the word ‘toxic’ being used to describe an increasing set of conditions that we’re all facing…‘toxic’ seems to reflect a growing sense of how extreme, and at times radioactive, we feel aspects of modern life have become”. Why is this and what is the remedy? Toxic is defined as “poisonous” and this is the origin of the word. In the Bible it’s often used to describe sin and its effects. In particular tongue operated by sin is untameable and “an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” (James 3:8; Psalm 140:3; Psalm 58:4). Poisonous effects ar

Be of Good Courage

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By Ann Kroeker - Posted at Faith Online : Faith Online Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in December 2016. “Please pray for my safety.” It’s a common prayer request in my circles. If I’m honest, it’s a common prayer request of mine. Last summer one of my kids traveled overseas, so I asked my friends to pray for her safety. When my youngest daughter moved to an urban campus that regularly sends text alerts of nearby robberies, assaults, and carjackings, I asked my small group to pray for her safety. When I ask for safety, am I not trusting God? Or am I just a fearful person who needs to grow more brave and bold? Some people lean toward safety and self-protection while others are by nature thrill-seekers, adventurers. Do people more naturally drawn to thrills find it easier to choose a courageous path for the kingdom of God? What about those who shrink from danger or fear it? Are they crippled spiritually if they tend to minimize risk in their lives? The

How Your Child's Life Can Derail through Media and Friends

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Screenshot of YouTube's front page as of August 29, 2017 - Wikipedia By Linda Harvey - Posted at Mission America: A 13-year-old girl spends hours watching poison on YouTube. The dream of every parent? Hardly. But many parents don’t see the unfolding tragedy until it’s too late. It’s true that educational videos can be helpful and many families deeply appreciate those that guide kids through algebra, the geography of Africa or conversational Spanish. But there’s another kind of online education, one producing horrific outcomes, including early (sometimes deviant) sexual activity. Other results are reflected in abortion statistics, criminal cases—and in honest obituaries. At tender ages, our children are taught, via video, to proudly engage in masturbation or to accept abortion ( Netflix show Big Mouth ). Planned Parenthood features an outrageous YouTube where teens advocate sexual activity to their peers , and in another, they’ll learn the pleasure and “safety” of sa

Colombia: Pastors facing death threats, assassination attempts by extortionists, kidnappers

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Source: Christian Post By Stoyan Zaimov - Posted at the Christian Post : A watchdog group that monitors Christian persecution worldwide reports that large numbers of church leaders in Colombia are being subjected to death threats, and many pastors have already been assassinated. Christian Solidarity Worldwide revealed in a report last week that as much as 12.6 percent of all religious leaders in Bogotá have received death threats. The threats are mostly coming from illegal armed groups that carry out extortion and kidnappings, meaning that leftist guerrilla groups, right-wing neo-paramilitary groups and other criminal entities are behind the attacks. One pastor, Martínez Pérez of Nueva Filadelfia Church, was assassinated  on Sept. 16 outside his home in Antioquia, forcing his wife and five adult children to flee the village in fear. Read more here.

Whom Do You Serve? Sphere Sovereignty and the need for limits on power

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Image Source: Reformed Perspective By Andre Schutten - Posted at Reformed Perspective: Children are often told to obey many different folks. Listen to your mom and dad. Listen to the policeman. Listen to your teacher. Listen to the pastor. Adults too are encouraged to obey various authority figures. Which raises a question: what happens when demands of the State and demands of other authorities clash? Whom do we obey? The Dutch philosopher, theologian and prime minister Abraham Kuyper developed a system of thought to assist in understanding the authority structures in the world. The system is called “sphere sovereignty” and it helps answer the question, “Who do we obey when various demands on us and our behavior clash?” GOD OVER ALL Kuyper argued and demonstrated from the Bible that God has created in society a number of different institutions or spheres, each with their own respective roles and responsibilities. Three of the most important institutions created by God are: the

The FAQs: Chinese Scientist Claims First Gene-Edited Babies

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He Jiankui - Wikipedia By Joe Carter - Posted at The Gospel Coalition : What just happened? In 2015 a team of Chinese scientists sparked a worldwide ethical debate when they used a technique to “edit” the genomes of human embryos. Although the embryos were never implanted and brought to term, the experiments led to concerns the technique would soon be used to create babies with edited-genes. This week a Chinese researcher announced he had done just that. He Jiankui (pronounced HEH JEE’-an-qway, with the surname first) reports that he altered a gene in a set of twins who were born this month. Seven couples seeking in-vitro fertilization (IVF) allowed He to edit a gene in embryos before implantation. The gene was edited with the intention of preventing HIV from entering the child’s cells, increasing their ability to resist possible future infection with HIV, the virus that can cause AIDS. So far, two of the children that had a gene edited have been born. How did He Jiankui alter