WELCOME TO THE LORD'S CHURCH
November 9, 2016 by Jack Wilkie focuspress.org
U.S. President Donald Trump.
What a bizarre thought. Despite the fact that election coverage has been forced on us for over a year and a half, it’s still surreal and hard to believe that he actually won and will lead this nation beginning in January. We’re in for an interesting four years, to say the least.
The Republicans, who often talk a big game on issues that matter to Christians, will now have their chance to practice what they preach. With a majority in the House of Representatives and the Senate, a Republican in the White House, and the potential for a strong Supreme Court majority, issues like abortion, federal funding of Planned Parenthood, and religious liberties could be drastically changed for the good.
But all of that is now out of our hands. What happens over the next 4 years will happen almost entirely without any further involvement from us. So what do we do from here?
What Does It Mean to Work Out Your Own Salvation?
Wes McAdams November 2, 2016 radicallychristian.com
In Philippians 2:12 Paul wrote, “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” That phrase is quoted a lot, but I wonder how many of us have ever stopped to consider what it actually means. I know I have personally failed to appreciate the context of this passage and have misused this passage a number of times. Perhaps you have as well. Here are a few thoughts on what it means to “work out your salvation.”
What Makes You Different
November 2, 2016 by Jack Wilkie focuspress.org
“Jesus keep me near the cross!”
That old classic hymn makes the request that God would “Help me walk from day to day with its shadow o’er me.” As with any hymn, we have to think about what we’re singing. And what those lyrics ask for is no small thing. To walk in the shadow of the cross is a life changing pursuit. It’s what makes you and me different. But we don’t spend enough time thinking about what it means to live in the shadow of the cross. What exactly happens when we take time out of every day to sit at the foot of the cross and think on the events that happened there? Here are five changes it brings to our lives.
Why Learning to Forgive Yourself is NOT Your Problem
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com October 26, 2016
If you’ve ever been overwhelmed by guilt, you’ve probably heard someone say, “God has forgiven you, but now you need to learn to forgive yourself.” In fact, you may have even tried to comfort someone else by telling them, “You’ve got to learn to forgive yourself.” This may come as a shock, but while this advice sounds good, it is not biblical to encourage people to forgive themselves.
3 Reasons to Be Excited for Every Sunday
October 25, 2016 by Savannah Cottrell focuspress.org
We had a sweet, young girl become a Christian recently at my home congregation. Her father baptized her, and altogether it was a sweet moment, and we are blessed to have a new sister in Christ at our church.
The very next Sunday was her first communion, and it had come quickly since she was baptized on a Wednesday. And let me tell you that she was so excited to be having her first Lord’s Supper.
Dear reader, let me ask you something: do you remember your first communion? Do you remember the first day you finally got to partake of the Lord’s Supper and not just pass down the plate to your parents? Now, let me ask you something else: do you still look forward to the Lord’s Supper today? If not, how do you get excited for it, even after being a Christian for many years? And why should we still be excited?
Preposterous Pro-Abortion Positions
Eric Lyons, M. Min apologeticspress.org
Aristotle once wrote: “[T]he same attribute cannot at the same time belong and not belong to the same subject and in the same respect…. [I]t is impossible for the same man at the same time to believe the same thing to be and not to be” (Aristotle, 4:4). It is impossible, for example, for a single door to be completely shut and completely open at the same time. Likewise, it is contradictory for a man to say, “Yesterday I never left my house to go to the store,” if indeed he did leave his house yesterday to go to the store. The fact is, nothing can both be and not be for the same person, place, or thing, at the same time, and in the same sense (cf. Jevons, 1928, p. 117). For a person to say otherwise, he is either a liar or delusional.
Why You Need to Try to Understand Other People’s Perspectives
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com September 21, 2016
If someone’s behavior or opinion seems completely absurd to you, you could tell them they are wrong or even idiotic. You could tell them they should stop thinking that way and see things your way. Or, on the other hand, you could start by trying to understand their perspective. You could ask them friendly questions about their point of view. Actually, this is not only good advice, it is an imperative for Christian living. Here is why you need to try to understand other people’s perspectives.
She Called His Hand!
By Bill Jackson gewatkins.net
Brother Burt Isom, now departed, was a friend of mine, and I have held several meetings in Hazelhurst, Mississippi while he was the preacher there. In fact, he was supported there as a missionary by the congregation where I worked, and hence the mission meetings were arranged.
I have long appreciated the point Burt made to me once, in speaking of his mother’s steadfastness in truth, and under pressure brought to bear upon her by his father, right after their marriage.
The Very Best Way to Tell if a Church is of Christ
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com November 19, 2014
Is the church you attend, “of Christ”? The sign may say you are “of Christ,” but are you? Does the leadership structure (i.e. elders, deacons, preachers) make you “of Christ”? Does the fact that you sing without mechanical instruments make you “of Christ”? Does the fact that you fully immerse in water, those desiring to be saved, make you “of Christ”? What is the very best way to tell if a church is “of Christ”?
Why You Need to Stop Trying to Feel God’s Presence
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com February 17, 2015
I hear people say things like, “I could feel God’s presence at that church.” Or, “I could really feel God’s presence while we were singing that song.” There is certainly no doubt a person can have a fantastic emotional response to a song or to the friendliness of a church, but I don’t believe God Himself is experienced in this way. Furthermore, trying to discern the will of God based on whether or not you “feel His presence” seems a very dangerous way to live your life. Here are some things I hope you will consider:
What The Bible Says About Purgatory (And Why You Should Stop Believing In It)
By Ben Giselbach on October 7, 2015 in Grace & Salvation plainsimplefaith.com
The Roman Catholic church has taught the doctrine of “purgatory” since the late fifth or early sixth century. Gregory the Great, who served as “pope” from 590 A.D. to 604 A.D., was the first to officially defined the doctrine. Final agreement within the Roman Catholic church was finally reached in 1439 after months of debate at the Council of Florence.
Catholicism teaches that besides heaven and hell, “there exists in the next life a middle state of temporary punishment, allotted for those who have died in venial sin” (Gibbons 210). In other words, those who die in a state of perfection go on to heaven, but those who die in a state of sin go either to hell or purgatory, depending on the type of unforgiven sin of which they are guilty. See, the Catholic church makes a distinction between “mortal” and “venial” sins. We can roughly think of mortal sins as “big sins” and venial sins as “little sins.” Those who die with mortal sin go directly to hell, but those who die in venial sin go to purgatory – a temporary place of punishment. A person stays there until their “little sin” has been purged away, at which point the person can go on to heaven. (You can see why this doctrine is popular; it provides a false sense of hope to those with loved ones who have died in impenitent sin.)
Christian legal forum
The Christian Legal Forum was begun by Christian attorneys who felt a need to provide legal analysis, answers to common questions and current events, suggested policies, and other legal forms for those leading the churches of Christ. The idea for this site came after many of the most recent legal decisions have brought a multitude of questions to believers about how they could be impacted by court rulings. We felt that we should consider doing something to use our experience and education to help Christians as we can when it comes to considering legal issues in the Lord’s Church. From the site’s inception, we have sought to find capable men who have studied and practiced the law in various jurisdictions. This will bring a variety of perspective and ability to the issues and questions presented on this site. Additionally, the contributors of the forum are members of the church of Christ and known to be faithful, sound in doctrine, and have a heart of service to the Lord’s Church. In fact, none of the contributors receive any financial compensation for their work on here but willingly give their time for the benefit of other Christians.
Homosexuality and Transgenderism: The Science Supports the Bible
By Dave Miller, Ph.D. apologeticspress.org
For over 40 years, a host of forces have worked vigorously to normalize homosexuality in American society—culminating in the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling that stipulated homosexual marriage as a constitutional right. These same forces have most recently turned their attention to transgenderism.1 As is always the case, when human beings decide that they want to pursue certain behaviors that have always been considered deviant and illicit (particularly in God’s sight), they will do everything possible to bully and intimidate the opposition (cf. Genesis 19:9). A careful analysis of history demonstrates that the tactics that have been used the past several decades to advance sexual aberration in America are reminiscent of propaganda schemes that have successfully transformed other societies, including Nazi Germany and other totalitarian regimes.
Let’s Talk About Being Justified by Faith
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com September 14, 2016
The concept of “justification by faith” is one of the most important doctrines in Scripture. Unfortunately, some misunderstand it, some scoffingly dismiss it, and some ignore it completely. But let me tell you something (and I don’t think I’m overstating the case here), you cannot be a Christian unless you understand and embrace the doctrine of justification by faith. So let’s talk about what it means to be justified by faith.
Take Time with the Text
by Eric Lyons, M.Min. Apologeticspress.org
In today’s fast-paced, get-it-and-go, instant-messaging world of communications, Christians must resist the temptation to treat the Bible like our latest text message. We hurriedly read incoming messages, abbreviate responses, reply without proofing, and forward without considering possible consequences (cf. James 1:19). We rush through conversations and speed-read everything from school assignments to the Sunday paper. Sadly, the Bible often gets the same treatment.
Unlike many mundane things that we carelessly read in this technologically advanced age, the Bible must be read thoroughly, persistently, and methodically. Since “[a]ll Scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Timothy 3:16, emp. added) we cannot settle for a Cliffs Notes® version. Since there were many writers from different places, writing to different people in different languages, and since there is a major difference between the Old Testament and New Testament (cf. Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:7-13), we must “[b]e diligent,…rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). The context must be considered. Figures of speech must be taken into account. The application of a 3,500-year-old Book must be made carefully.
The Sin of Division
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com June 29, 2016
The New Testament talks about a lot of sins, but I would venture to say that the sin Jesus and the apostles addressed the most might have been division. In fact, did you know the word “heresy” comes from the Greek word that means “sect”? Literally, a “heretic” (Titus 3:10, KJV) is a person who divides from others and forms a sect around his or her opinions. This kind of sectarianism is expressly condemned and I believe every single one of us need to heed the warnings of Scripture.
Why is it a Logical Fallacy to Make an Argument from Silence?
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com June 15, 2016
When arguing various sides of issues, we need to make sure our arguments are valid. Most of us are guilty of making fallacious arguments. For instance, an ad hominem argument is one that attacks the person rather than the argument, “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re just a liberal heretic.” Another type of logical fallacy is an argument from silence, which “occurs when someone interprets someone’s or something’s silence as anything other than silence, typically claiming that the silence was in fact communicating agreement or disagreement” (source). Let’s talk about why this is a logical fallacy and how eliminating this from our thinking will help our biblical understanding.
How Did Christ “Fulfill” The Law Of Moses?
By Mike Riley gewatkins.net
A querist asks, “In studying Matthew 5:17, and other passages of Scripture, I know there are several reasons why we are no longer under the law of Moses, but how did Christ fulfill that law?”
Our Lord “fulfilled” (completed or accomplished the demands of) the Mosaic system of law by fulfilling the over 300 Old Testament prophecies which foretold His birth, His life, His mission, and ultimately His death (Luke 24:44-48; cf. Psalm 22:1-31; Isaiah 53:1-12).
How to Recognize and Get Rid of the Idols in Your Life
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com May 20, 2015
Just because you don’t bow down and worship a golden statue does not mean you don’t have idols in your life. In fact, I believe nearly every person in the world struggles with idolatry. Here is a quick way to determine the things in your life which are, or could easily become, your idols. And just as important, how to get rid of the idols in your life.
Make a list of important things.
Try this little exercise: Make a list of all the things that are important in your life. All the things about which you might say, “I don’t know how I could live without this.” Number the list in order of priority (one being most important). Obviously, people reading this blog will probably have “God” on their list. You can make “God” all encompassing (His word, His church, His Son, His Spirit, worshiping Him, etc.).
Other things on your list might be spouse, children, job, hobbies, etc. You might even have things on your list like, “Getting married someday” or, “having children.” In other words, some things on your list might be things you are pursuing rather than things you already have. Anything you see as being extremely important in your life needs to be on your list.
I’ll wait while you make the list…take your time…I’m waiting.
Correctly Handling Criticism
By Mike Riley gewatkins.net
As we grow older, we sometimes become set in our ways and unwilling to admit when we are wrong. Worse yet, if we don’t see eye-to-eye with others, we become critical of them and try to discredit their views.
For example, when some members disagree with the preacher’s remarks, they seem to be quick to judge motives. They may even suggest that the preacher is only looking for a paycheck.
Facing Into The Gale
By Mike Riley gewatkins.net
The experienced sailor knows that a ship must head into a storm in order to avoid shipwreck. He must keep the ship facing into the gale (see the nautical term, “aloof“). It takes great courage to head into seemingly further trouble, but it is only by facing difficulties head on, that they can be conquered.
There are some things that cannot be avoided and which, if not resisted (1 Peter 5:8-9), will overcome and overwhelm us (1 Timothy 1:18-20). The difficulty with trying to run away from an adversary is that an adversary, like the wind, runs faster, will soon catch up to us, and will soon overcome us (Exodus 14:1-10).
Let’s think about it!
What Do They Need to Know Before They’re Baptized?
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com June 8, 2016
I believe we often baptize people before they’ve been properly taught. But then again, it’s often hard to determine what a person should know before they are baptized. Since baptism is only the beginning point, it is only necessary those who are baptized have a basic understanding of Christian theology, doctrine, and practice. But what exactly constitutes a “basic understanding”? What do people need to know before being baptized? I’m certain I can’t give an exhaustive answer to that question, but perhaps this post will help you as you think through this question.
"Social Media Interactions: Am I a bully or a blessing?"
By Joey Ferrell hearthegospel.net
Social Media has changed the way we eat, talk, think, react, evangelize, and live. Some of these items can be good...while others...well, they speak for themselves.
I have been a member of a social media site of some sort for quite a few years now. That stems from a love of computing and technology and interactions with people...those that I know...and those that I don't. It has become a "way of life" it seems in many instances.
But, what do you do when that "way of life" isn't really the life that you actually live? Well, much like in any other avenue, you have to decide how to get a handle on a situation, decide an affirmative plan to change the situation, and then implement it.
Recently, our "social media" worlds have been on fire, so to speak. We have arguments over rights, arguments over politics, arguments over truth, arguments over arguments! So, how are we behaving during all of this arguing? Let's take a closer look at how our responses should be seen, felt, and can be heard!
The Importance Of “Today”
By Mike Riley gewatkins.net
A question we need to ask ourselves from time to time is, “How do I spend the blessed currency of time?” “Right now” is something each one living on the earth has in common and while multitudes of precious souls are being born into this world “right now,” multitudes of precious souls are also hurdling into eternity “right now.” Many of the souls leaving their earthly body wish – “right now” – they had a few more minutes to do things they must leave undone.
“Today” Is All We Have!
Today is the most important time for each one of – because it is all we have! We are not promised next year, next month, next week, or even tomorrow. Today is important because it is when we can make the “choice” to obey, to encourage a brother or sister, to take the first step in living a life for Christ… to find one’s life in losing it (Matthew 16:25).
Should You Take the Lord’s Supper if You Feel Unworthy?
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com March 11, 2015
1 Corinthians 11:27 warns Christians not to take the Lord’s Supper “unworthily.” And I’ve known many sincere and well-meaning Christians who have kept themselves from partaking of the Lord’s Supper on a Sunday because they felt particularly “unworthy” that week. But does that passage really mean if you’ve sinned this week you have disqualified yourself from taking the Lord’s Supper on Sunday? What exactly does it mean to eat and drink “unworthily”?
3 Ways to Make Your Prayer Life More Biblical
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com May 25, 2016
Praying is really nothing more than talking to God. Sometimes a prayer, in a moment of desperation, might be as simple as, “Oh God, help me!” Unfortunately, some Christians are so afraid of praying incorrectly, they don’t pray at all; a child need not feel that way with his father. But on the other hand, many of us have fallen into a routine. We say basically the same things when we pray and we haven’t stopped to examine our prayers in light of Scripture. So here are three simple ways to make your prayer life more biblical.
Don’t Just Vote
May 5, 2016 by By Jacob Rutledge focuspressblog.com
Martin Luther once said, “As it is the business of tailors to make clothes and of cobblers to mend shoes, so it is the business of Christians to pray.”
Yet, if this is true, how often is it that Christians forget their “business?” As one preacher quipped, “No man has ever tapped the full potential and power of prayer, because no man has ever tried.” What would happen if every Christian understood the value and power of prayer and then took the time to practice such diligently (1 Thessalonians 5:17)? A more appropriate question during this political season would be, “What would happen if faithful Christians prayed for our country?” As an older minister once noted, “We have more power on our knees in prayer than we do in the voting booth;” yet, how many Christians genuinely believe this?
Paul instructed Timothy in 1 Timothy 2:1-2 that, “… supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions ….” As we examine this Scripture, we recognize that this is not a recommendation by Paul, but an apostolic command. All aspects of Timothy’s prayers were to be used for the benefit of their national leaders.
Does Starlight Require Millions of Years to Reach the Earth?
by Wayne Jackson christiancourier.com
“When we look at the farthest visible star, we are looking 4 billion years into the past; the light from that star, traveling at 186,000 miles a second, has taken many years to reach us. How would you explain this as it relates to creation?”
First of all, I would dispute the chronological theory which suggests that the Universe dates at billions of years. I do not believe there is indisputable scientific evidence for that view, and I believe there is much evidence against it. I have discussed this briefly in my little book, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth.
Does “No Male and Female…In Christ” Mean Women May Preach?
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com February 24, 2016
There are several arguments people use to justify women in the pulpit, but one that’s frequently used is the argument from Galatians 3:28. The apostle Paul wrote, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Many argue this passage proves there should be no gender role distinctions in the church and women ought to be allowed to preach in the assembly. Let’s discuss this passage and see if that is really what it means.
Lessons From The Old Testament
By Mike Riley gewatkins.net
For many, the Old Testament is the “boring” part of the Bible. Their reasoning is that it contains little in the way of instruction for the Christian, certainly not like the more practical epistles in the New Testament. But in one of those epistles, the apostle Paul says, “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the scriptures, we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
3 Things Christians Can Do in the Face of Controversy
April 26, 2016 by Savannah Cottrell focuspressblog.com
In the wake of the recent Target bathroom controversy, it’s becoming easier and easier to see that the world we live in has fallen. We knew this already because of Adam and Eve’s actions in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), but when it plays out before us, it’s hard to miss.
Now, I have to mention that we’re all human. We make mistakes, and the only One we can rely on to be perfect is Christ Himself (Matthew 5:48). But that doesn’t mean we can’t strive Heavenward, and it also doesn’t mean that we can’t use controversy itself – even on a national and global scale – as a means to further the Kingdom.
So, what do we do when controversy comes calling?
The Importance of Confessing Sin to One Another
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com April 27, 2016
When I hear someone talk about “confessing sin,” the first thought that comes to mind is someone – who has committed some major indiscretion – responding publicly at the end of a sermon. There is a time and place for that type of confession. However, what is even more important is the ordinary, day-to-day, informal confession of sin to one another. Sadly, I’m afraid this is almost non-existent in the lives of many Christians. And the fact that many are not confessing sin to one another should concern us in the church.
Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com June 13, 2014
According to a study by the Hartford Institute of Religion Research and a new book entitled, “Why Nobody Wants to Go to Church Anymore,” less than 20% of Americans attend worship services every week. They say there are four main reasons why people don’t want to “go to church.” Here they are…
According to the book, the four reasons people don’t want to go to church are:
They don’t want to be lectured.
They see the church as judgmental
They see the church as hypocritical.
They see the church as irrelevant.
Certainly, not everyone in this study is a Christian in the New Testament sense, but doesn’t this show you the real reason so many have stopped attending? The real reason is that over the last 2,000 years, the concept of “church” has become so diluted and twisted that people don’t even know what it is anymore. The church is supposed to be the family or body of all Christians.
For a Christian to say, “The church is judgmental, hypocritical, and irrelevant,” is for that Christian to call himself judgmental, hypocritical, and irrelevant because he is the church. When Christians don’t understand they are the church, and when they see the church as an institution which they can either choose to support or not, they lose the entire concept of Christianity. Jesus did not come to redeem individuals, but a people. One simply cannot be a Christian outside of the body of Christ (Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12). To be a Christian is to be in the church.
It's Not A Game!
By Mike Riley gewatkins.net
Do you remember how as children we used to play like we were something that we were not? We’d say, “Let’s play like we’re cowboys,” or “Let’s play like we’re firemen,” or “Let’s play like we’re policemen.”
It was not strange that we as children lived in a fantasy world from time to time. There was no reason for our parents to be disturbed because we spent so much time “playing like” we were someone else.
But now that we are grown, most of us with families of our own, it is high time for us to be concerned if we are continuing to play like we are something we are not. Far too many of us approach Christianity as it were a “game” in which we can “play like” we are Christians. And it is not a serious matter because when any requirement of living the Christian life conflicts with our own desires, we quickly close our eyes, shut our ears, and simply ignore that requirement, all the while still thinking that we are good Christians. We need to remember that we can “deceive” ourselves (James 1:22).
Understanding the Role of the Holy Spirit in the Church Today
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com April 20, 2016
I don’t believe we talk enough about the Holy Spirit. This neglect has led to speculation and misunderstanding. While I’m quite certain I don’t I fully grasp everything Scripture has to say about who the Holy Spirit is and what His role in the church is (and there is far more on this subject that could be said), here are a few thoughts which might help us all to have a better understanding of the Holy Spirit and His role in the church today.
1. The Holy Spirit Is Not an “IT”
Too often we talk about the Holy Spirit as a thing, rather than a person. When we talk about the Spirit, we too often say things like, “It does this and it does that.” He is the third person of the Godhead. He is not an “it.”
I believe this is one reason we misunderstand the role of the Spirit of God, because we don’t understand He is a “He” and not an “it.” The Spirit of God cannot be controlled or manipulated. His presence isn’t brought upon by dimmed lights, fog machines, or music.
The Spirit of God isn’t a feeling. He is a person; just as the Father and the Son are persons.
Paul, Set for the Defense of the Gospel!
By Bill Jackson gewatkins.net
It was Paul who declared that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). It was Paul who declared that the saints are engaged in a spiritual conflict – against spiritual wickedness (Ephesians 6:12). And it was Paul who describes the Christian’s armor and equipment, and pointed to the Christian’s weapon: “The sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Ephesians 6:17).
In Philippians 1:17, Paul makes known that he was “set for the defense of the gospel.” It certainly lets us know that he could fight in this regard, even in a jail-cell, for he was in prison at the time. The child of God never quits! From this great verse we can learn several good things:
1. Paul was convinced of the truth and power of the gospel!
2. Paul knew that not all had that same conviction.
3. Paul knew that some would actually attack gospel truth.
4. Paul knew that someone needed to speak out for the cause of truth and right.
5. And Paul said he was SET to do just that!
Always the question has been, “Am I SET to do the same?”
Are You Engaged? 2 (Philippians 1:27-30).
By Gantt Carter hearthegospel.net
Are you engaged in your Christianity? Are you fully-committed and involved in your walk with the King of kings? Are you an active part of a local congregation of holy ones who work in the kingdom and worship the King together? Almost a month ago we considered the correspondence and the cooperation of our engagement in the life of a disciple of the Messiah. Let us continue to explore this question with the apostle Paul...
After exhorting the Philippian Christians to stand “side by side” for the good news of Jesus, Paul writes the following:
“Not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of the Messiah you should not only believe in Him but also suffer for His sake, engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have” (Philippians 1:28-30).
Are You Engaged? (Philippians 1:27-30)
By Gantt Carter hearthegospel.net
Well, are you engaged in your Christianity? Are you actively engaged in living for the King of kings? Is your attention intentionally focused upon glorifying Deity, serving His people, and reaching the lost with His kingdom message?
After expressing his gratitude for the ancient Christians in Philippi (Philippians 1:1-11), the apostle Paul describes and explains some current and pressing issues in his life (Philippians 1:12-26). The apostle to the Gentiles then exhorts, “Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:27a). What does Paul mean by living in a way that is worthy of the good news of the Messiah? Can you honestly say such about your life?
Why We Need to Change the Way We Think About Preaching
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com April 13, 2016
“You’re the best preacher I’ve ever heard!” What preacher wouldn’t want to hear those words? One preacher who doesn’t want to hear those words is the home preacher who overhears a member saying that to a visiting preacher (or vice versa). But as harmful as those words could be to the one who overhears them, they can be even more harmful to the one being complimented. Here are a few thoughts on why we need to change the way we think (and talk) about preaching.
What Preaching is All About?
Preaching is the proclamation and explanation of God’s word. Both the Old and New Testaments are full of men who stood before God’s people and explained, “This is what God says, this is what it means, and this is how it applies to us today.” Men like Moses, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezra, Peter, Paul, Timothy, Titus, and of course Jesus were all preachers.
The church needs to hear the proclamation and explanation of God’s word. We need to hear what it says, what it means, and how it applies to our lives today. This is why the Lord gave to the church “the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers” (Ephesians 4:12). We no longer have apostles or prophets, but we still have (and need) “the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers.”
When God’s word is proclaimed and explained:
it brings glory to God.
it unites God’s people of the present with His people of the past.
it makes us into a knowledgeable and disciplined community, by encouraging us to stretch our attention spans and develop an ability to hear the word of the Lord.
Preachers should strive to preach well. We should strive to understand God’s word, understand what it means, and effectively communicate to the church what it looks like to be faithful to Christ. That’s good preaching. It’s not about being dynamic or witty. It’s just about communicating God’s will to His people.
Do You WANT My Marriage and Children to Fail?
April 11, 2016 by Jack Wilkie focuspressblog.com
We have all heard the news within our church families—someone’s marriage is on the rocks. Or maybe a Christian couple’s child got addicted to drugs or pornography. It has been said that, “bad news travels fast.” Not only does it travel fast, but it often gets repeated over and over, as Christians share the shocking news with one another. The phone rings and the person on the other end of the line quietly says, “So, I guess you heard about….”
Most Christians know what the Bible says about gossip (Ephesians 4:29 ; Proverbs 16:28 ; James 4:11 ). And yet, the news continues to be passed along by Christians who justify their actions as “truth telling” or just conveying news. In our competitive world it feels as though there may be something else that is subtly being said when the bad news is delivered: “I’m so thankful it was them and not me.” It’s almost like some relish in the bad news—pridefully sticking their chest out all the while looking down their nose at those whose lives have been turned upside down.
She Said, “That’s What Churches are For”
By Bill Jackson gewatkins.net
A local newscaster, some time back, was lamenting the fact that many needs that people have are not being met. She pointed out that civil authorities are taxed to the limit, and that those agencies who operate to relieve those on the streets are also working to their limits. She was trying to express that there were other avenues, and she mentioned “the churches,” and said, “After all, that’s what churches are for!”
The Silence of the Scriptures
By Bill Jackson gewatkins.net
Surely one of the most effective, and most scriptural, arguments the saints have made down through the years is that of the authority of the SILENCE of the scriptures. In hundreds of debates with proponents of every kind of error, audiences were shown that when God legislates in a certain area, making clear his requirements, then man has no authority to go beyond that, adding similar or like things to what God has specified. We have correctly used the gopher wood, the pitch, the dimensions of the ark in the case of Noah (Genesis 6), and we have used the fruit of the vine and the bread on the Lord’s table (Matthew 26:26-28) on the same point.
"Bicycles and Bibles...huh?"
Joey Ferrell hearthegospel.net7 March 2016
I started riding my exercise bike again recently (within the past 3-4 weeks). It has been a while since I consistently rode due to some pinched nerve, work, and laziness issues :)
When I first started riding it again, I set the starting level of exercise at "3" because I knew that would be a good starting point, and the time at 30 minutes (20 minimum is always recommended for good cardio). That first day, I was only able to ride 7.7 miles in 30 minutes. Good start...but way off of my norm.
Last week, I moved the starting level up to a "4" and the first day, my new length was 8.4 miles. Not too bad, but still not where I wanted to be. I am not quite ready to move up to "5" just yet, but will try to do so soon.
The interesting thing that I noticed the past few days, though, is that every day, I have been very consistent in the amount of miles that I have ridden. Some days I feel like I am "punching it", and then some days, I am struggling to spin the pedals. Regardless, the mileage has been a constant 8.77 miles. I never look at the stats until I finish my work out, so there is nothing that is giving me a push to speed up, or slow down.
Want to know something more interesting than that?
“We’re All Sinners”
By Bill Jackson gewatkins.net
It is in the last ten years or so that we have been hearing more and more of the brethren speak of “our being sinners” just as those in sectarianism are sinners. But, the point being made, as has been demonstrated over and over again, is that we have no right to call anything error, no right to identify one as a false teacher, no right to point to any corruption of God’s order, because “we are sinners, and they are sinners, and sinners should not sit in judgment upon other sinners.” That very philosophy is right out of denominationalism, where all agreed that anything goes, and “none of us will criticize the other.”
“We’re all sinners” – the point is true, and the point is not true, and as noted above, some men use it in a deceitful fashion. Perhaps we can best see it laid out in this fashion:
The Connection between Religion and Morality
by Wayne Jackson christiancourier.com
There are exceptions to most every rule. And exceptions are precisely that; they are exceptions. Let me explain.
There are some people who have no religious philosophy. They profess not to believe in any Supreme Being. In spite of this, they lead reasonably respectful lives. They do not murder, commit adultery, or embezzle from their employers.
On the other hand, there are those who profess to be quite religious, and yet, clearly, they are as far from godliness as one can be. The notorious Ku Klux Klan is an apt illustration of the disconnect between “profession” and “possession.”
As a general rule, however, the person who truly believes in God, and who has some sense of the moral principles set forth in the Bible, is a better person. He is less likely to be feared in the neighborhood, and is more likely to be a savoring influence in his community.
“Prove Yourself a Man” (Daily Bible Reading: 2 Samuel 24-1 Kings 2)
March 27, 2016 by James McIntyre
“Now the days of David drew near that he should die, and he charged Solomon his son, saying: ‘I go the way of all the earth; be strong, therefore, and prove yourself a man. And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn’” (1 Kings 2:1-3).
As the above words indicate, David’s life on this earth was drawing to a close. He had an incredible pilgrimage on this earth as he walked with God and served God as a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 16:7; Acts 13:22). David had slain a giant, spent years on the run from the jealous King Saul, served as the King of God’s people Israel, endured repeated attempts from his own children (i.e. Absalom and Adonijah) and others (e.g. Sheba) to overthrow his kingdom, and struggled with his own sinfulness (e.g. adultery with Bathesheba and his subsequent murdering of Uriah) during his life on this earth. No one could say David had lived a dull life!
Why It’s Never Okay to Leave the Church
March 23, 2016 by Brad Harrub focuspressblog.com
In the past decade parents have shared countless stories of their children leaving the faith—so many that they have begun to blur together in my mind. There is the woman whose daughter dated a young man who took her away from the church, and then having accomplished removing her from the church, he left her. There is the man who literally had to sit down for several minutes and catch his breath he was crying so hard revealing that two of his children were now lost.
There are so many… (I wish I had written them down and kept a journal). There were children who never really engaged in the first place, and then there were those who were active in everything the church offered, but the ending of the story is the same. They are now lost. It’s the elephant in the room that we don’t talk about. In every congregation I visit there are couples who know the pain of a lost child (or children). Oh, we all know the elephant exists, but maybe if we don’t mention its presence, it will go away.
Why Every Church Needs Elders
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com March 23, 2016
Some words make us very nervous. Among the world’s most nerve-racking words are the simple little words, “all” and “every.” Whenever someone dares use such words, objectors are quick to offer possible exceptions, so as to take the edge off these words. So if someone says, “Every church needs elders,” there are bound to be people who object. That’s why I pray you’ll not object too quickly and you’ll let me explain why every church needs elders.
6 Popular False Beliefs About Christianity
By Spencer Shaw Guest Author focuspressblog.com March 21, 2016
One of the most popular names that we think of regarding Protestantism and Christianity in the 16th century is Martin Luther. One thing for which Luther was known is the concept of adiaphora, from the Greek meaning “things indifferent.” It is the concept that there are things in the Bible and in Christianity that do not matter. Is this an accurate concept? Are there things in the Bible that don’t matter? Is anything really adiaphora?
Sure, some things are, like the eating of meats that Paul discussed in 1 Corinthians 8. But that doesn’t mean everything is. However, the denominational world seems to think that very little truly matters. Here are six popular statements made in support of this claim:
The Authenticity of the New Testament Documents
by Wayne Jackson christiancourier.com
George Rawlinson (1812-1902) was Camden Professor of History at Oxford University for twenty-eight years. The celebrated work, The Seven Great Monarchies of the Ancient Eastern World (3 vols.), produced over a span of thirteen years (1862-75), was one of his notable achievements. Too, his translation of Herodotus (in collaboration with his brother, Henry, and Sir John Gardner Wilkinson), became the standard version of that classic.
In 1859, Rawlinson delivered a series of eight lectures in the famous Bampton Series at Oxford. The general theme explored on that occasion was “The Historical Evidences of the Truth of the Scripture Records.”
The Importance of “Small” Churches
March 9, 2016 by Jack Wilkie
Last week a rather large controversy spread like wildfire across Christian corners of the internet, as a rather interesting sermon video went viral. Andy Stanley, a well-known author and leader of a 30,000-plus member, multi-campus megachurch, caused the stir by making some questionable comments about small churches.
“When I hear adults say ‘Well I don’t like a big church, I like about 200, I want to be able to know everybody,’ I say ‘You are so stinking selfish. You care nothing about the next generation. All you care about is you and your five friends. You don’t care about your kids, anybody else’s kids… If you don’t go to a church large enough where you can have enough middle schoolers and high schoolers to separate them so they can have small groups and grow up the local church, you are a selfish adult.”
What Does Baptism Have To Do With Salvation?
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com March 2, 2016
When the Bible talks about baptism, it almost always talks about it in connection with forgiveness, salvation, and the washing away of sins. But this confuses many people, because the Bible clearly teaches that man is saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8). So what, if anything, does baptism have to do with salvation? Let’s see what the Bible really teaches.
3 Ways to be “After God’s Own Heart”
February 16, 2016 by Jack Wilkie focuspressblog.com
As the “man after God’s own heart,” David is an easy choice when we’re looking for someone to emulate in our walk with God. But even a quick reading of the text on David’s life will show that he wasn’t exactly perfect. Rather, David was a man who made some terrible choices. However, oddly enough some of the strongest lessons about what it means to have the heart that God wants us to have come from the times when David gave in to sin.
In 2 Samuel 11, we learn of David’s series of sins with Bathsheba and her husband Uriah. That sets up 2 Samuel 12, where Nathan the prophet comes to David to uncover the sins and give the message from God. In Psalm 51, we find David’s prayer of repentance to God for those sins. In these two chapters we learn a number of great lessons about how to respond to sin. Let’s take a look at three of those lessons.
Time for Churches of Christ to Fellowship Other Groups?
Wes McAdams radicallychristian.com July 8, 2014
This is a hard post to write. I realize what I’m about to say may be misunderstood or misconstrued. But as difficult as it is to find the right words, this is something that must be said. In fact, I believe there is no greater issue facing the church today.
There are many who charge those in churches of Christ of being arrogant because – for the most part – we will not fellowship those outside “our group.” They suggest it is time for churches of Christ to admit we are just another denomination, embrace other groups, and say, “We’re all headed to the same place; we’re just taking different roads to get there.”
This ecumenical push concerns me for many reasons. While I certainly cannot speak for anyone but myself, I have three questions for those who suggest we should fellowship every person who claims to be a Christian:
Christianity: You can’t have it both ways
February 18, 2016 by Jack Wilkie focuspressblog.com
Despite what the world may tell you, you can’t have it both ways. They think it’s perfectly fine to be a Christian, as long as you don’t get too carried away with it. As soon as your religion calls you to question their beliefs, or makes you hold a belief that they find offensive, or makes you actually choose God over the options the world offers, then it’s gone a little too far. They constantly push us to just keep a foot on either side of the fence.
Perhaps you’ve seen one of those funny videos where a dog tries to bring a stick into the house through the dog door, but he can’t fit because the object is too wide for the door (like this, for example). While those clips can be humorous, I think they perfectly illustrate an oft-forgotten point about the concept of Christianity held by today’s world and (sadly) many in the church. At the moment he realizes the stick won’t fit through the door, our canine friend has two options: leave the stick and go inside where it is warm, where he will be fed, where his people are, and where his comfortable bed is… or stay outside in the cold with a stick. Of course, the dog will often choose the stick, at least for a time, and we get to chuckle about how silly animals can be. But think about how much more ridiculous it is for people to have a knowledge of God’s truth and still sit on the fence between worldliness and fully giving themselves to God. It shouldn’t be a choice at all, and yet we can waver back and forth between the house He offers us and the stupid, meaningless, useless sticks the world uses to entice us.