Protestant leaders – from backwoods evangelists and radio preachers to prominent pastors such as Billy Graham and Norman Vincent Peale – warned the country would go to hell with a Catholic in the Oval Office.
“I’m getting tired of these people who think I want to replace the gold at Fort Knox with a supply of holy water,” Kennedy complained.
Against some advisers’ counsel, the candidate decided to directly confront the anti-Catholic bias with a televised speech to a group of Protestant ministers in Houston in 1960. It was like Daniel walking into the lion’s den, a journalist said at the time.
Good theology books are very important, but even the best, when left on the shelf, emphatically cannot replace what it means to know God. If your library doesn’t lead you to a deeper affection for Jesus, then it’s as useless as a collection of shells.
For the Christian, it’s not about winning a culture war. We win through how we engage our neighbors. Our honor should be on full display… even on Facebook.
Because of Lewis, I can have interesting theological discussions with people who never went to college. I’ve met troubled college students who found solace in Mere Christianity, four-year-olds who delighted in The Magician’s Nephew, 50-year-olds who love to ruminate over The Abolition of Man. The beauty of Lewis’s legacy is that it transcends class, country, and age. Even 50 years after his passing, he continues to teach us all.
What gratitude would flow from this exercise? What thanksgiving? For those who have dined on the sacred, the Thanksgiving table becomes a feast of forgetful remembrance. For forgetful remembrance is grace—the taste of a homecoming remembered, the foretaste of a homecoming yet to come. On Thanksgiving years from now when our grandchildren gather to serve this most familiar of meals, may the table still be laid with the flavors of homecoming—may we still be serving the very grace that was served for us, in which all true thankfulness finds its source.
Ten reminders for when it is appropriate to hold your tongue.
A short time ago my mother visited Elaine and asked how she deals with all that she has suffered. Elaine looked at her quizzically and said, “But I don’t feel like I have suffered.” She acknowledges that she has endured great challenges and great physical pain, but she cannot and will not see herself as essentially a sufferer. She knows Jesus Christ and him crucified and now waits patiently and joyfully for the day when her body, soul and mind—all she is—will be perfected in his presence. “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Revelation 21:4).
As we meditate upon these dignities and blessings, the image of the robot becomes less and less appropriate, not because God’s control over us appears less complete, but because one doesn’t treat robots with such love and honor.
He revised the Ten Commandments, which he considered outdated, coming up instead with his Eleven Voluntary Initiatives, which he printed on cards small enough to carry in a wallet. He tossed out the commandments that struck him as outdated — a host of the “thou shalt nots,” particularly the one banning adultery. “People have had a lot of fun breaking that one. I know I did.”
Children are a divine stewardship. They are not for us to own, but for us to love, carefully guide, and then release to God’s provident care. We cannot pressure, bully or force them into faith.
We parent, not with anticipation of some promised outcome, but out of faithfulness to Jesus, leaving the outcome to him.
Divorce is a third-rail topic, one about which there are a variety of opinions within evangelical circles. Gospel-centered people who love Jesus and his Word can draw markedly different conclusions on the issue based on the same biblical texts. While everyone would agree marriage is a good gift from God that should be upheld—defended from the inside by a husband and wife and protected from the outside by the local church and the broader Christian community—we’re often unsure how to proceed when the brokenness of this world infects a marriage and it succumbs to the disease. Disparaging the existence of the morgue won’t raise the dead, and it certainly won’t bring comfort to those who mourn.
Since New York City is a center of influence in terms of media and entertainment, Metaxas also asserts that a spiritual change inside of New York would have a ripple effect outside of New York: “If we could see changes in places like New York and Los Angeles, we could see changes across the whole country.”
As someone shaping the next generation of believers, Thornbury is eager to see young Christians continuing the work in New York City: “I see the Church in New York City becoming a prophetic witness that seeks the welfare of the community. I also envision more young believers relocating here, doing a work in the city, and having a heart for metropolis.”
He continued, “Historians will be able to tell us a generation from now whether or not—technically speaking—this era in New York City fits what missiologists and sociologists would call a ‘revival.’ But, it’s clear that God is on the move here.”
The selfie isn’t bad. It just is. It’s a fact of life in this digital world. But amidst the selfie’s ubiquity, don’t miss what it tells us about ourselves and about the way we present ourselves to the world. The selfie is not a photo of your face as much as it is a snapshot of your heart.
How can a church that has never been involved in church planting become a church-planting church? Many churches aren’t sure where to even begin this journey. Some churches dive right into church planting by sending out one of their own. This process usually involves investing a significant amount of resources into the planter and rallying behind him. But this effort often ends poorly as the existing church frequently ends up disillusioned with church planting altogether when their ill-equipped church planter fails.
Every statistic tells us that most pastors don’t make it over the long haul in vocational ministry. I almost got knocked out because I didn’t know where the punches would come from. Serving the Lord in vocational ministry is a crown. Being an elder is a noble calling. Being entrusted to shepherd the flock is a gift and a grace. See the danger and pray over it. Prepare for it, so that you will persevere in carrying this grace to completion.
I’m not suggesting we organize ourselves exactly the same way. But if we are to preach the whole counsel of God, we must teach the whole Bible. Other sermonic structures have their merits, but none offers our congregations more, week after week, than careful, faithful exposition of the Word of God.
But an overly broad condemnation of real problems is better than no condemnation of the problems at all. We Pentecostals and Charismatics needed to be offended, I’m afraid it may be the only thing that will make us think critically and Biblically about ourselves as a movement. And for this offense I want to thank John MacArthur and the participants in the Strange Fire Conference. The most hurtful thing about that conference is not the broad generalizations, sweeping condemnations, or lack of distinctions. For me as a Pentecostal the most hurtful thing about the Strange Fire Conference is my knowledge that far too many of the criticisms are true.
Lord, I pray that you would keep my heart from descending into legalism that focuses on actions. Cut away any part of me that looks like the Pharisees. May I be more concerned about the state of my heart than my actions. For out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:25). If my heart is purely devoted to honoring You, my actions will follow. If I only focus on my actions, my heart will never be clean. Even if no one else can see it, you look at my heart. May it reflect and glorify you.
According to this definition, only a Christian can truly be modest because only a Christian can deliberately pursue God’s glory. Whether we realize it or not, we are always attempting to bring glory to someone. Through our clothing we may be drawing attention to ourselves or we may be drawing attention to God. The heart of modesty is dressing in such a way that you show love to others and bring glory to God. The heart of immodesty is dressing in such a way that you show self-love and claim the glory for yourself. Immodesty is wanting to be noticed by others and being willing to do whatever that takes to make that happen.
Oh, let’s become women who value and pass on God’s Word! Let’s be more concerned with the spiritual food we are feeding our children than we are even with their physical food. May we raise a generation who can say—in the midst of everything life brings them—”Your words were found and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart” (Jer. 15:16).
In this excerpt from a message at our 2010 National Conference, Derek Thomas gives two examples of how to resolve apparent contradictions in Scripture.