RSS Robot

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  1. “God that made the world and all things therein . . . hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” (Acts 17:24, 26) The biblical record is full of testable historical and archaeological data, unlike the sacred texts of other religions. Where... More... View the full article
  2. Question to the Editor: What Do You Know About Ed Silvoso and the Transformation Movement? “Ed Silvosos’ paradigm is no different than many others who have come into the church before basically “rethinking everything into a new strategy.” Using the magic word of ‘transformation’ (a word originally found in theosophy of the New Age movement), it has found itself as one of the many new platforms for ‘mission strategies’ now […] The post Question to the Editor: What Do You Know About Ed Silvoso and the Transformation Movement? appeared first on . View the full article
  3. “The heaven, even the heavens, are the LORD’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” (Psalm 115:16) Secularists like to consider Earth as just one among many millions of planets, occupying an obscure place in an insignificant galaxy in a sea of nothingness. The Bible teaches, however, that Earth is very special to the Creator, performing a c... More... View the full article
  4. A Christian’s Mission: ‘Gotta Know, Gotta Learn, Gotta Discern, Gotta Go!’ into the Pokemon World with Truth LTRP Note: The following article will be available in booklet form in the near future with an appendix by Berit Kjos. By Lois Putnam For Pokémon Go gamers, their “Gotta Mantra” is “Gotta Catch ‘Em All!”–Pokémon that is. However a Christian’s motto must be: “Gotta Know, Gotta Learn, Gotta Discern, Gotta Go!” And just what […] The post A Christian’s Mission: ‘Gotta Know, Gotta Learn, Gotta Discern, Gotta Go!’ into the Pokemon World with Truth appeared first on . View the full article
  5. Letter to the Editor: Her Father Left Her a Legacy of Discernment Dear Lighthouse Trails: Along with my regular donation to this ministry, and after reading your post of the wave of attacks coming your way, I felt I needed to include a note of encouragement to you. Let me say for sure, you must be doing something right if you are rattling so many cages that […] The post Letter to the Editor: Her Father Left Her a Legacy of Discernment appeared first on . View the full article
  6. I believe the key reason for adult Bible classes in the local church is the organization to fulfill the purposes of the church. Dr. Lee Roberson used to say, “The Sunday school is the church organized to fulfill the purpose of the church.” Whether you call it Sunday School, Adult Bible Fellowships, Connection Groups, or something else, it is vital that you have clearly defined purposes and processes for this vital area of church ministry. At Lancaster Baptist Church, we now have over fifty adult Bible classes, and we work to make sure each class includes these essentials: Teaching the Word of God—Believe it or not, the main purpose of an adult Bible class is not coffee and donuts! Our class leaders work diligently every week to prepare a quality Bible lesson that will apply God’s truth to the life stage-appropriate needs of the people in their group. (We generally use curriculum from Striving Together Publications.) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:—2 Timothy 3:16 And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.—Acts 18:11 Following up on guests—We not only organize our door-to-door outreach through our adult Bible classes (I describe our process for this in detail in Out of Commission), but we also follow up on church guests through our classes. Class leaders are assigned visits from Sunday based on the life stage of guests. In addition, they make a home visit to anyone new who came to their class the Sunday before, encouraging them to enroll, but especially to share the gospel. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:—1 Corinthians 15:3–4 Giving acceptance to every member—The larger the church grows, it’s harder for everyone to know everyone else, but the adult Bible class provides an atmosphere of acceptance. Although clear Bible teaching and personal mentoring and sometimes correction are important, I really believe that acceptance is the optimum environment for growth. Even for the struggling church at Corinth, Paul confirmed his acceptance of them at the beginning of his epistle. That did not keep him from giving needed correction and instruction, but he first affirmed them in acceptance. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;—1 Corinthians 1:3–4 Planning activities—Fellowship is such an important part of the Christian life. Young Christians need replacement activities for what were previously times of temptation and sin, and all Christians need fellowship with their church family. From casual in-home fellowships after a Sunday night service to organized monthly activities, adult Bible classes provide an organic environment for Christian fellowship. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.—Acts 2:42 Providing accountability—Christians need someone to miss them when they miss church. They need a spiritual leader to follow up when they’ve shared personal needs. They need someone to ask, “How’s your devotional life?” On whatever level needed, accountability can easily get lost in the church. Adult Bible class leaders can nurture this kind of accountability in relationships they have already developed. Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.—Hebrews 10:25 Caring for needs—When someone loses a family member or has surgery or faces a major life event, the class leader makes sure the pastor knows and also organizes support for that family. We actually break our larger classes down into care groups within the class to be able to be more responsive to needs. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.—Galatians 6:2 Discipling new Christians and mentoring leaders—By organizing discipleship through the adult Bible classes, new Christians are able to develop a spiritual relationship with someone who will continue to see and encourage them even after they have completed the discipleship course. Similarly, class leaders are able to see those who are developing spiritually and mentor new leaders to be able to serve in the class or other ministries in the church. And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.—2 Timothy 2:2 If you lead or serve in an adult Bible class, I’d encourage you to review this list again and consider which one or two areas may need more attention and action in your class. Related posts: Growth Points 70: How to Use Adult Bible Classes to Assimilate People into the Local Church 11 Characteristics of a Healthy Sunday School Class Why You Need a New Members Class: and what to teach View the full article
  7. “Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.” (Deuteronomy 32:18) Just before his death, Moses predicted the coming apostasy of Israel in a prophetic “history” of Israel. Not only did his prophecy come true for the nation of Israel, but the same could be said for much of Western Christianity today. More... View the full article
  8. Has God led you into a storm? Are you seized with worry, fear, confusion as the winds howl around you and water builds up in your boat? Feel like you’re sinking? Read on. This post just might be for you! This past Sunday we marked our 4th anniversary at Emmanuel Baptist Church. It’s hard to believe four years have come and gone, and to God’s glory, His church is healthy and flourishing with gospel vision. It’s all a testimony of His grace and power. Four years ago, our family drove across the California state-line with tears, and several days later, crossed the Connecticut state-line with fears (mixed a bit with hope). We knew God was bringing us into overwhelming challenges; but we also knew He was bringing us into fellowship with gracious, devoted people who would become our new family. Throughout the drive across country I was hounded by intimidating questions like: —How can I “senior pastor” when I’m not “senior-pastor-ish?” —How will I understand and realize God’s vision for the ministry? —How will this ministry survive, and will it ever thrive? —How will God hold us together if it all falls apart? —How will we survive this? (For it felt like our hearts were being ripped out!) It really was a scary, stormy journey, and my small faith seemed to be no match for the size of the waves beating against and pouring into our small boat! These were honest, heart-wrenching questions. The one thing that compelled us forward was the knowledge that this was absolutely, positively God’s call and will for our lives. He had made that undeniably clear in ways that actually moved us to fear and awe. Coming into a storm, all you see is wind and rain. Looking into a storm, all you see is danger and an urgent need to fight for survival. Coming out of a storm, you usually see sunlight, beauty, maybe even a rainbow. In Luke 8, Jesus is asleep in a boat, tired after a long day of ministry and teaching. He’s on his way to another demonic encounter, another heart rescued, and a region about to be saturated with the great news of the gospel! During the night, a storm whips up on the sea of Galilee—a deadly storm. The disciples panic and make every attempt to stay alive, all while Jesus sleeps soundly below deck. Here’s Luke’s version of the story: “Now it came to pass on a certain day, that he went into a ship with his disciples: and he said unto them, Let us go over unto the other side of the lake. And they launched forth. 23 But as they sailed he fell asleep: and there came down a storm of wind on the lake; and they were filled with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to him, and awoke him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then he arose, and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 And he said unto them, Where is your faith? And they being afraid wondered, saying one to another, What manner of man is this! for he commandeth even the winds and water, and they obey him.” (Luke 8:22-25) Through our first four years at Emmanuel, we’ve seen a lot of storms—both meteorological and spiritual. Through them all, we’ve rediscovered, again and again, God’s faithfulness and presence. As the storms have exposed our weakness, we have run to Him and cast ourselves over and over upon His broad and powerful shoulders. We have collapsed over and over into His strong hands, crying to Him for His help and grace. May I share with you some wonderful truths that we’ve discovered on this journey into, through, and looking back on the storms? 1. Jesus Leads Me Into Storms This is a paradoxical thought. Jesus didn’t happen into a storm. He led His disciples there. What does this mean? No mistake! My storm is not an accident. It didn’t sneak up on God. In fact, just the opposite is true. It is entirely possible, even probable, that you arrived in your storm by obeying Jesus! We tend to think that the phrase “obedience brings blessing” implies the absence or prevention of trouble or storms in life. Obedience does bring blessing; but often that blessing comes through hardship or trouble. Yes, I’m saying sometimes the storm is the source of the blessing! And sometimes obedience results in immediate testing. Didn’t God use the storm of the cross to bring the victory of the resurrection and seal the good news of salvation? Didn’t God use the storm of a whale to save Jonah from suicide? Didn’t God use the storm in Luke 8 to remind His disciples “Jesus and all of His power was still in the boat?” Over and over, in God’s word, we see that suffering usually precedes great blessing. How does it change your storm to know that Jesus actually led you there? There is no mistake! 2. Jesus is at Rest in My Storms Storms and rest are counter concepts. They don’t generally go together. If you are in a storm, you probably aren’t resting, and vice-versa. But Jesus shows us another paradox—storms don’t ruffle him. What does this mean? No worries! Storms usually wake us up and keep us up—stewing, pacing, frantically strategizing survival. Not Jesus. He sleeps as soundly on a boat in a raging storm as he does in dry land in a soft bed. He is always at rest. I can see the ship tossing back and forth. I can imagine Jesus below, clutching a pillow, literally zonked! He’s soundly sleeping, though being tossed about in his bunk, on the brink of earthly disaster. How can he do this? Not merely because He’s physically exhausted, but because He is in control. He’s not in any real danger—and neither are you. If Jesus is at rest in my storm, and Jesus is in control of every storm, then I can be at rest as well. I don’t have to be seized by worry or fear. I don’t have to allow my heart to run wild with panic or fear. If Jesus can sleep in the storm, so can I. “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:27) Jesus is essentially saying, “Your heart will be troubled. Your heart will be afraid. But restrain it. Retrain it. Refuse to let fear rule your inner life. See your heart as a shapable, direct-able asset. Take up the reigns of your heart and refuse to let is run wild with fear or worry. You might be wringing your hands, but Jesus isn’t! Because He is at rest, you can be too! “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) How does it change your storm today to know that Jesus is at rest? 3. Jesus is the Lord of My Storm Storms appear to be random forces of nature. Such are the storms of our lives. On the surface they look random and out of control—terrifying. But, again, what if your storm is God’s work in your life? Jesus never made a random decision. He never took an idle step. Every miracle, every journey, ever personal interaction was by design. Every aspect of His journey was fore-ordained by His Heavenly Father. Therefore, no part of Jesus life or ministry was arbitrary. This is not an accidental storm that is interrupting a good night’s sleep. This is Jesus unfazed, at rest, and in total control of a storm—in His sleep! That’s pretty impressive! What does this mean? No Fear! You have no need to be seized by fright or panic. Every aspect of the storm is held within hands of your loving Father! The storm in your life is not random. It is God’s work, and dare I say, it is God’s grace! It’s a gift to your life. It is God bringing about an ultimate outcome that only a storm could produce. If He doesn’t lead you into a storm, you would never see that He is Lord over the storm, and that He does marvelous things through storms! If the disciples don’t come to the brink of death, they would never jolt Jesus awake and hear him say, “Peace be still!” If this night was just a calm sail across the Sea of Galilee, the group wouldn’t have arrived at the other shore in stunned amazement, jaw-dropping awe, and deeply assured trust and confidence! Your storm is a raging force in your life designed to expose two things: your utter weakness and God’s massive strength! This is how your storm is a gift of grace. In the storm He’s giving you the opportunity to cry out to Him and witness His powerful intervention. How does it change your storm to know that Jesus is Lord over it? Rather than let the storm cause you to forget who is in your boat—let it remind you. Rather than crumble and cower in the chaos, let your storm cause you to call out to Jesus. Over these four years, I’ve worried about a lot of things. Even now I’m tempted to worry about a lot of things. Every day in ministry there are new reasons to fear. But here’s the reality: in my life, especially the last four years, everything I’ve ever worried about somehow ends up in my rear view mirror, and I wonder why I worried! It’s exhausting and emotional draining to worry. More importantly, it’s needless if you are the child of the loving, powerful, gracious Lord Jesus. Jesus never fails, and His Lordship promises to hold me together eternally, not matter what falls apart temporally. The gospel doesn’t preserve my temporal world, but it brings me into an eternal one—which I can never lose! 4. Jesus is Building Me through My Storm—God uses storms to do His deepest and best work in our lives. God uses what looks like chaos to bring about His greatest triumphs. When everything looks lost, God loves to show up and completely turn things around! The last four years have brought a lot of tossing times! Water was coming into the boat—I mean the building, literally. Our first spring at EBC, as rain began in abundance, so did the indoor water treatments! I’ll never forget walking into the lobby after a huge rainstorm and finding massive amounts of water soaked into walls and carpet all throughout the building. (Not to mention several inches of water in the basement of our home several times!) Those were the times I wanted to look up at God and say, “What are you trying to do to me!?” Roof repairs were estimated to cost over $110,000—which, at that moment, may as well have been $100 million! All I could say was, “God, this is your church! If you’re going to save it from sinking, now would be a good time to do something!” In the last four years, God has not only provided for the $110,000 roof repair—He’s provided for over $1.1 million for restoration work to be done in His church, affecting 100,000 square feet of building space. In our small Baptist church world, that’s miraculous! Jesus builds lives, builds His church, and strengthens His servants through storms. It’s what He does! No storm is without purpose. The storm is His construction project in your life. Don Sisk said it this way, “When God seems far away he is not punishing nor ignoring us. He is preparing us.” What does this do inside of us? No despair! With confidence in God’s purpose, I can press into—even lean into the storm with anticipation that God is building, strengthening, preparing my heart and life for His greater blessing! In retrospect, there is not one storm in my life that I would go back and “undo!” The outcome of every storm has made the journey through the storm worth it! This is exactly what God meant when He said, “But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (James 1:4) How does it change your storm to know that Jesus is building you through it? —No mistake! Jesus leads me into my storms. —No worries! Jesus is at rest in my storm. —No fear! Jesus is Lord over my storm. —No despair! Jesus is building me through my storm. Every Story and Storm is God’s Unique Work Everyone has a story. God reveals Himself uniquely through each of our stories, and nobody’s story is particularly any more special or powerful than any one else’s. Yet, our stories are God’s gift to us through which He makes Himself known or more visible to others. As Paul shared his story to magnify Jesus, this is why I share this story—not because it is unique or particularly exceptional—but because I want you to see the God who drives my story also drives yours! He is real, and He is at work in your life in ways you cannot fathom. Your story is no less significant and providential! Your storms and your story are God’s story—He’s revealing Himself in your life, and through your life to others. Today, Emmanuel is not necessarily a big church; but it is a healthy church. We are not driven forward by growth goals, but we thirst after gospel goals. We are not pursuing size, but we are pursuing Jesus and His call. I’m still a struggling pastor trying to “fit the role.” I know every day that I’m treading in water way over my head. Today’s challenges are just as stormy in their own respect as any others in recent years. Yet, I’ve seen Jesus leading me into storms, at rest in those storms, Lording over those storms, and ultimately building my heart and our church through each one. I can’t yet say I “like the storms.” It’s not that I am wishing for “more storms” for Christmas! However, I can say, “I love what Jesus does in and through the storms.” I love the product of the storms. Frankly, He has torn down and completely reconstructed my heart through storms over the last six years of my life. As such, those storms have become cherished memories—almost friends—precious expressions of God’s grace and deep work in my heart. And those storms have resulted in newly saved friends and a church family without which I cannot imagine my life! Make friends with the storm. More importantly, draw close to your best friend—the Lord of the storm. Rest in Him. Hold onto Him. He will hold you together in the storm. At just the right moment He will say, “Peace be still!” At which time, the raging will cease. Shortly thereafter, you just might see what Jesus saw when His boat reached Decapolis—a radically transformed life (whom we know as the maniac of Gadera) and salvation that comes to a multitude of people on a distant shore! Now that would make any storm “worth it!” Psalms 37:7 “7 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.” 1 Peter 4:19 “19 Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.” View the full article
  9. “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” (Acts 4:33) There are multitudes today who believe that Christ’s resurrection was a “spiritual” resurrection, insisting that the idea of a dead body returning to life after three days in the grave is completely unscientific an... More... View the full article
  10. Letter to the Editor: Most Delicious Teas I Have Ever Had! LTRP Note: We get a lot of thank yous for our Shepherd’s Bible Verse Tea (which is our own creation), but we don’t usually post those here. But this one has so many good qualities about it, we decided to post it. Dear Lighthouse Trails: Thank you so much for the free tea samples you […] The post Letter to the Editor: Most Delicious Teas I Have Ever Had! appeared first on . View the full article
  11. NY Times: “Federal Transgender Bathroom Access Guidelines Blocked by Judge” LTRP Note: The following is posted for research and informational purposes and is not an endorsement of the news source writing this. By Erik Eckholm and Alan Blinder New York Times A federal judge has blocked the Obama administration from enforcing new guidelines that were intended to expand restroom access for transgender students across the […] The post NY Times: “Federal Transgender Bathroom Access Guidelines Blocked by Judge” appeared first on . View the full article
  12. “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.” (Deuteronomy 32:4) Here in the song of Moses, which God instructed him to write for the children of Israel as they were about to enter the Promised Land (note Deuteronomy 31:19),... More... View the full article
  13. “Then the people rejoiced, for that they offered willingly, because with perfect heart they offered willingly to the LORD: and David the king also rejoiced with great joy.” (1 Chronicles 29:9) As the people brought gifts for the construction of the temple in Jerusalem, it is mentioned no less than six times in this chapter that their offerings were will... More... View the full article
  14. Is God in Graffiti? By Ray Yungen What is happening to mainstream Christianity is the same thing that is happening to business, health, education, counseling, and other areas of society. Christendom is being cultivated for a role in the New Age. The [demonic] entity, Raphael, explains this very clearly in the Starseed Transmissions: We work with all who are […] The post Is God in Graffiti? appeared first on . View the full article
  15. We cannot always measure effectiveness by visible fruit. Some of my favorite testimonies of salvation are of people who trusted Christ after repeated witnessing attempts by multiple people. Even the Apostle Paul experienced times when he witnessed and the fruit wasn’t immediate. I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.—1 Corinthians 3:6 So if we try to measure the effectiveness of our witness on fruit alone, we may miscalculate. Perhaps during a season when we are diligently sowing seed, we won’t see fruit. On the other hand, we may be in a season when we are reaping another man’s labor and are seeing great fruit although our own witness may or may not be effective. The bottom line is that God grades on faithfulness, not evident fruitfulness. So how do we measure faithfulness? Is it simply by our heart to continue? Is it because we are open to sharing the gospel if the opportunity arises? I don’t believe we can truly claim faithfulness if we are not actively participating in the Great Commission. In other words, there is a correlation between my faithfulness to Christ and my level of engagement in personally sharing the gospel. Below are five questions I ask myself on a regular basis, and especially if I am not seeing as much personal fruit in a given season: With how many unsaved people am I presently cultivating a relationship? Every Christian should be actively building the relationships within their sphere of contact for the purpose of sharing Christ. But it takes intention to pursue these. How many recent doors have I knocked on or witnessing opportunities have I initiated as I was led by the Spirit? I can guarantee you that there are people who live near you who are not saved but would trust Christ if you would seek them out. And I believe the language of the Great Commission calls for this: “Go ye…” (Matthew 28:19). If we only witness to those who happen to have a relationship with us, we miss these kinds of opportunities. When was the last time I personally shared the gospel with a lost person? If I knock on one hundred doors every week, but I never share the gospel itself, I may need to reevaluate my approach. Am I approaching every contact with the intent of initiating gospel conversation? Am I turning the conversation to Christ, sin, and salvation? If it’s been more than a couple weeks since I actually shared the message of the gospel personally, I think that means I need to seek out more opportunities. How many people has God used me to reach? Although we can’t measure faithfulness by fruit alone, it can be part of the picture. How many others am I involving? This question is specifically for leaders. Part of the Great Commission is training others to witness as well (Matthew 28:20). As a pastor, then, my burden is not just to go myself, but to involve others. The same should be true of a Sunday school teacher, Bible study leader, discipler, parent…anyone with any spiritual influence in another’s life. (See also 2 Timothy 2:2.) Although there is a real distinction between faithfulness and fruitfulness, I think we need to be careful that we don’t excuse fruitlessness with an assumed faithfulness. As we approach fall and the visible reminders of harvest around us, may we ask the Lord to increase our fruitfulness for Him, and may we proactively and passionately engage in our witness for Him. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.—2 Corinthians 5:20 Related posts: 4 Ways to Develop an “Everywhere Mentality” for Sharing the Gospel 3 People Who Can Use Christmas as a Gospel Launch What If You Took It Personally? View the full article