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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?

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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.

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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:

  1. They don’t want to be lectured.

  2. They see the church as judgmental

  3. They see the church as hypocritical.

  4. 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.

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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).

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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.

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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?”

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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...

Courage....

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).

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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?

Correspondence

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?

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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.

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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.

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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!”

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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.

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"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?

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“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:

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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.

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“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!

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.”

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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.

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