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Showing posts with the label Church

Dear False Teacher: The Puritan Thomas Brooks Would Like a Word with You

 By Rosaria Butterfield - Posted at reformation21: Dear Mr. False Teacher, Permit me to write boldly to you. You have repeated your shallow shibboleths in sermons, blogs, and conferences, and you have tried very hard to pretend that secular society is a neutral playground, a marketplace of ideas where Christianity is welcome to flourish. You punt for nuance every time and have made every clear teaching of the law and gospel a grey area of ambiguity. You have sought the middle road on every issue: gay marriage, transgender normalization, Black Lives Matter, and abortion. You always seek the third way. But it’s getting harder for you to persuade your flock because some of them see that a raging spiritual war has washed out the middle road and the third way. I believe that you are at a crossroads. So let me put it straight: if you are a true Christian who has fallen into some bad theology, I’m throwing you a rope. Why not grab it? Your rhetorical strategy was to yield the moral language

Serving God in Unglamorous Places

Source:  Serving God in Unglamorous Places (  By Stephen Steele - Posted at Gentle Reformation: In 1848, during the Great Famine, there was a failed Irish nationalist uprising by the Young Irelanders. It culminated on 29 July in a gunfight which became known as 'The Battle of Widow McCormack’s Cabbage Patch'. One of the rebels was shot dead by the police. Another was fatally wounded. But even though it was a matter of life and death, it’s hard not to smile at the name. We would be quick to tell people about ancestors who fought at Waterloo or Gettysburg. But a cabbage patch doesn’t rank too highly when it comes to the great battlefields of history. Yet we’re not all called to take on the enemy on glamorous battlefields. As if there is such a thing anyway. Lentil fields need defended In 2 Samuel 23 we meet a man called Shammah who takes his stand in a plot of ground full of lentils. The Philistines had gathered. The men of Israel had fled. But Shammah ‘took

Hillsong Report Highlights Ministries Operating Like Businesses — But Without Public Accountability

Report features a lucrative honorarium model tempting many U.S. pastors to pay to play By Jessica Eturralde - Posted at  Ministry Watch: Last month, a whistleblower document disclosing Hillsong Church’s financial details highlighted the burgeoning popularity of reciprocal honorarium practices in ministries worldwide. A common growth strategy in the for-profit business circuit, honorariums are fees given to someone for something outside their normal job responsibilities—like giving a talk. And they have slowly found their way into evangelical circles. Although the amounts are often negotiable, more evangelical speakers require a fee to secure bookings. Findings in the Hillsong report are prompting donors to question at what point giving sermons or talks is or is not part of a pastor’s job. Also, how should leaders report honorariums if they regularly require a fee to speak? The custom of inviting and hosting guest speakers is nothing new for churches. Traditionally, host churches have

Ten Best Practices for How Churches Should Respond to Sexual Abuse

 By Wes Bredenhof After a few decades of publicity surrounding the issue of sexual abuse in the broader culture, one might think that churches have developed better ways of handling it. However, there are regularly reports that indicate otherwise. Especially churches without a Safe Church program are vulnerable to mishandling sexual abuse allegations. This is highly problematic because it further victimizes victims and often emboldens and protects abusers. To help churches in developing policies and procedures, I want to share some best practices. We have to do better and perhaps this can help to further the discussion and create safer communities for the most vulnerable among us. Let me first say a few words about definitions. In general, abuse is inappropriate conduct towards another person. It can be a single event or a pattern of behaviour. In particular, sexual abuse is “the sexual exploitation of a person or any sexual intimacy forced on a person (either physical or non-


 Posted at Christian News: Pastors and congregations who refuse to take a stand against sin, must necessarily deny Christ in the process—eventually. It seems harsh and mean—at face value—to not accept people living a sinful lifestyle, but when by their lives they show that the Spirit of Christ does not rule them, accepting sin means minimizing Christ’s sacrifice for all sins and denying that a Christian is any different than a pagan. Sins that are completely socially acceptable, like living together, divorcing without biblical cause, or practicing homosexuality are frequently winked at in supposedly Christian congregations (even LCMS ones). But God is not mocked. The congregation is made of saints gathered around the Gospel of Christ which creates faith. When there is no distinction or demarcation between the believer who has the Spirit, and the unbeliever who can only live by the flesh, and is therefore a slave to his lusts, Christ’s forgiveness is trampled. It should mean something t

"One's Own Fashions!"

By Jeffrey Stivason - Posted at Place for Truth: In Edith Wharton’s, The Age of Innocence , Newland Archer, the young man set in the ways of old New York, has a conversation with Countess Ellen Olenska, who has recently returned from Europe after leaving her wealthy husband for his many affairs. Olenska doesn’t fit into old New York for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is, she is unfamiliar with the customs of her new environment. At one point, early in the novel, Archer and Ellen have a conversation. Archer speaks according to the form and fashion of the day while Ellen is free and full of candor. At one point, Ellen does not understand why her house, situated on a respectable street, is not good enough, to which Archer replies, “It’s not fashionable.” This produces a striking and revealing reply from Ellen, “Fashionable! Do you all think so much of that? Why not make one’s own fashions? But I suppose I’ve lived too independently; at any rate, I want to do what you all do


By Rev. Daniel Fleischer - Posted at Christian News: “Post-Christianity is the loss of the primacy of the Christian worldview in public affairs, especially in the Western world where Christianity had previously flourished, in favor of alternative worldviews such as secularism, nationalism, environmentalism and militant atheism amongst many other ideologies.” The above online definition of post-Christianity is more succinctly described by Merriam-Webster as the “decline of Christianity as a majority religion.” Decline of Christianity does not mean that the Word of God is no longer among us or effective. It is among us despite the competing and growing anti-Christian forces in the world. The Word they still shall let remain, Luther wrote. Jesus said in His Olivet address, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My Words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35). It does not mean that Christians will disappear from the earth. Jesus said again, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, an

1 Cor. 14:34-35 and the role of women in the church

 By Zachary Garris - Posted at Knowing Scripture: RESTORING 1 CORINTHIANS 14:34-35 AS A PARALLEL TO 1 TIMOTHY 2:12 Most of the debate today over the role of women in the church centers around 1 Timothy 2:12 , where Paul prohibits women from “teaching” or “exercising authority” over men and instead commands them to “remain quiet.” Based on a variety of arguments, egalitarians conclude that 1 Timothy 2:12 does not prohibit women today from serving as pastors or elders or preaching to men. However, among those that hold 1 Timothy 2:12 does place restrictions on women in the church today (often called “complementarians”), there are differing conclusions. Complementarian Disagreements The narrowest complementarian position holds that 1 Timothy 2:12 only prohibits women from holding the office of pastor or elder, which would open the door to some women preaching. However, since Paul prohibits teaching and exercising authority and not just being a pastor, most complementarians understand Pau

A Little Help From a Dear Friend

 By Rev. Benjamin Glaser - Posted at Thoughts From Parson Farms: Thomas Boston On Ways to Prevent the Devil's Attacks As ARP’s one of our forefathers in the faith was a man by the name of Thomas Boston. I love to read his works and recently I read a sermon of his from 2 Kings 2:14 where he is making some complaints about the lack of piety and the growth of sinfulness in his day in Scotland (ca. 1713). Desiring to see his people not fall into the same trap Boston gives six helpful examples of ways the individual Christian can work to help in his own heart to prevent a slackness in his hope in the Lord. For our prayer and worship help today I will list them with some commentary. 1) Stir Yourselves Up to Repent and Reform. (Rev. 3:2) This is key. Much like in Daniel 9 where the prophet is moved to recognize Judah’s deserved punishment in Babylon the Christian must begin with his own sin and need for personal growth in holiness before he can call upon his brethren to likewise move forw

Ukrainian Baptist leader sees God-ordained role during Russian invasion

 By Diana Chandler - Posted at Baptist Press: “I never thought, in all my dreams, that I live through war. I never thought that God is preparing me for what I’m going through right now” NASHVILLE (BP) – Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary (UBTS) President Yaroslav “Slavik” Pyzh and his wife Nadia don’t stay in airport hotels when traveling outside the war-torn country. Jets signal danger. “The first four days, as soon as we hear the sound of a jet, we will be looking for cover, instinctively. I mean it’s not like a logical thing,’’ he told Baptist Press Nov. 5 during their latest trip to the United States. “Because in Ukraine if you hear the sound of jet, you’re looking for cover. And here you have jets all the time, planes flying back and forth. “In Ukraine, the only plane that we have is military jets.” Pyzh, a Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary alumnus, is in the U.S. thanking Southern Baptists and others for support that has allowed UBTS to provide humanitarian aid alongs

Sexual Abuse and Outpacing the Church

 By Pastor Kyle Borg - Posted at Gentle Reformation: Published November 7, 2022 The parable of the dishonest manager is a singularly peculiar parable from Jesus. In it a rich man is given a report that his manager was wasting his possessions. Fearful of what might be the manager summoned his master’s debtors and reduced their bills. When the rich man learns of this he does not condemn but commends the dishonest manger for his shrewdness. Jesus concluded the parable saying: “For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light” (Luke 16:8). It’s not the dishonesty that is approved in this manager but it’s his understanding of the situation and his ability to respond with foresight, quickness, and wisdom. Jesus uses the parable to argue from the lesser to the greater. As the sons of this world are so cautious and careful to provide for themselves how much more should the sons of the kingdom. Jesus is actually saying that this world can t

Baptist pastor and wife kidnapped in Ukraine

 By Diana Chandler - Posted at Baptist Press : MARIUPOL, Ukraine (BP) — A Baptist pastor and his wife remain missing after being kidnapped Sept. 21 from their church in Russian-occupied Mariupol, Forum 18 News Service reported Oct. 6. Armed masked men in Russian military uniforms took Council of Churches Baptists Pastor Leonid Ponomaryov and his wife Tatyana from their home in the Kalmiusky District of northern Mariupol, neighbors told Forum 18. Officials reportedly searched the home for about two and a half hours. The Russian military also searched and sealed Ponomaryov’s church, identified as Kurchatov Street Baptist Church, and seized religious literature there, Forum 18 said, attributing reports to Mariupol Baptists. “The neighbors distinctly heard groans and cries” as the Ponomaryovs were taken “in an unknown direction,” Mariupol Baptists told Forum 18. Church members began seeking answers the following day. “But neither then nor on subsequent days could they get any answers,” loc

5 Misconceptions about Spiritual Abuse: #1 “Loving the Church Means You Don’t Call Out Her Problems”

 By Michael J. Kruger - Posted at Canon Fodder : Published September 26, 2022 Last week I announced the upcoming release of my new book, Bully Pulpit: Confronting the Problem of Spiritual Abuse in the Church (Zondervan, 2022) . The book releases on November 1st. As a lead up to the book release, I am launching a new blog series entitled, “5 Misconceptions about Spiritual Abuse.” In my research for the book, it became quite evident that people have a lot of misunderstandings of spiritual abuse, how it manifests itself in the church, and how it should be addressed. Some of these are rather innocent misunderstandings, and others perhaps less innocent. Either way, it is important that they be addressed for the health of the church. We begin with perhaps the biggest misconception: “Loving the church means you don’t call out her problems.” ------------------------------------ When it comes to the issue of abuse, it’s been a rough stretch for the church. The last decade has not only seen a r

Spiritual Abuse: Seeing What We Don't Want to See

By Kyle Borg - Posted at Gentle Reformation: I wasn’t even ten years old when I first saw the truth of abuse. One evening a policeman showed up at our door. After talking to my mom and dad I was brought into the dining room. The officer gently explained that our neighbor — who ran a daycare out of her home — was in trouble. He opened a manila envelope and hastily showed me pictures. The pictures were of a boy younger than me covered in bruises. The officer was clearly uncomfortable. He knew he was exposing my ignorance to a harsh reality. He didn’t want me to look but he needed to know if I had heard or seen anything. He knew that to bring light to the situation I needed to see the darkness. In the end, seeing those pictures was more important than not seeing at all. This is the world we live in. It would be nice if we could close our eyes and leave unseen the sin in, toward, and around us. But that kind of naivety isn’t proper for Christians. It’s not appropriate for people characteri

A Jesus Misjudged?

 By Nathan Eshelman - Posted at Gentle Reformation: What is Christ doing in his church? What are the ways that we should interpret the--sometimes dark--providences of God in building, reforming, censuring, or comforting the church? We are not as skilled as we ought to be in judging the work of Jesus in our midst; and that's always been the case. Isaiah 53:4b says, "..yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted." This verse demonstrates that when each of God's people first look upon Jesus, we misjudged the work. You saw the savior stricken of God, and yet it was for your salvation, because of your transgression. Meditating on this verse, James Durham (1622-58) said that this verse stands as a great application, or use, when considering what Jesus is doing in his church. Sometimes we see things that are not there and we misinterpret what Christ is doing among us... Continue here...

‘About 400’ Baptist churches lost in Russia’s war on Ukraine

 By Diana Chandler - Posted at Baptist Press : LVIV, Ukraine (BP) – About 400 Ukrainian Baptist congregations have been lost in Russia’s war on Ukraine, said Ukrainian Baptist Theological Seminary President Yaroslav Pyzh, who is working to restore pastoral leadership to impacted cities. While volunteers at six humanitarian relief We Care Centers across Ukraine are helping internally displaced people winterize their homes, replacing roofs, windows and doors, Pyzh said the real challenge for UBTS is to rebuild pastoral leadership in places pastors have been displaced. “Since the war started, six months already, we lost about 400 Baptist churches. And so the real build is the rebuilding of leadership capacity, because if you rebuild buildings and you have no pastors to lead churches, I don’t think it’s going to do any good,” Pyzh, a graduate of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas, told Baptist Press Aug. 12. “So the real challenge is not so much rebuilding walls

Angry Justice?

 By Tom Hicks - Posted at Founders Ministries: I’ve heard people say, “The church needs to get angry about all these social injustices!” Many seem to believe that racism, misogyny, domestic abuse, child abuse, etc., are all worthy of our most intense anger so that we’re stirred to action in support of victims and so that we can bring oppressors to justice. But is that true? Certainly, the Scriptures are clear that we must seek justice. Proverbs 21:15 says, “When justice is done, it is a joy to the righteous but terror to evildoers.” On the other hand, James 1:20 says, “The anger of man does not produce the righteousness that God requires.” There is something about human anger, untempered, and fully expressed that does not please God. I suggest we need to make some careful distinctions when it comes to angrily pursuing justice. 1. The Nature of Anger The Bible does not teach that anger itself is sinful. After all, God is angry. Scripture frequently talks about “the anger of the LORD”

Female Ordination, the Gay Clergy, and the Crisis of the Modern Church

 By Uri Brito - Posted at Kuyperian Commentary:  The biblical arguments for male headship in the Church are vast, ranging from the man’s role under the creation order ( I Tim. 2), the qualification for elders (I Tim. 3), his function in the liturgical order and decency of worship (I Cor. 14), and his significative symbol under the new man, Jesus Christ (Eph. 4-5). These are taken as presuppositions in the history of redemption and exceptions are theological judgment imposed on God’s people. Additionally, the East and the West have carefully crafted the liturgical service with a man in mind. Christ is the perfect priest and he was enfleshed in a male body. Therefore, the liturgy starts with male vocal cords and ends with male vocal cords. The man gathers and calls and leads and protects. God decided on such things in the Old and New Testaments happily moving against cultural norms, pagan norms, emotional norms and sexual norms. God structures his creation in a Trinitarian fashion and th


 Posted at Reformation Scotland: How should we respond to the massive upheavals that have taken place nationally and internationally over the last couple of years? If we think about it in the abstract, perhaps it seems obvious that after a time of turmoil and distress, we would re-dedicate ourselves to the Lord and more earnestly seek his grace to put more energy into serving him. Now that restrictions on social and church life have eased, we have many opportunities to do this. But instead of being re-energised as we emerge from the pandemic, many believers feel they are struggling to shake off a kind of spiritual lethargy. They feel they are doing little more than just drifting along. Could the Lord be leaving us to cope with the aftermath more or less by ourselves? How then can we possibly cope? Why does he not intervene mightily to invigorate his weary church? In this updated extract, James Guthrie shows he was familiar with this same problem. He looks first at where God is going –

An Update from Ukraine: The State of the Church

By Valery Zadorozhnyy - Posted at Tabletalk Magazine: Published March 17, 2022 Dear Brothers and Sisters, I am currently in Odessa, where all is still relatively well. Air raid alarms rarely sound. A couple of minutes ago, I heard shots from the sea. A rocket hit a house not far from the house where my mother is, but thankfully it did not explode. You may know what is happening in other cities from the news. My wife and children have gone to Poland, so I’m not worried. What of other Ukrainian Christians? What is the state of the church in Ukraine currently? There are some pastors and churches that are under fire in Kyiv every day and need the prayers of God’s people. There is the pastor of the Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church in Kyiv, Pastor Ivan Bespalov, with his family. Another Reformed pastor in Kyiv, Pastor Sergey Nakul, reported that his young son recently asked, “Dad, if Putin kills us, will we go to heaven?” “Yes, son, of course we will go to heaven.” Due to the chaos, I think