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What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says - Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
What The Bible Says Good Samaritan's Penny Pulpit by Pastor Ed Rice
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How is the church meant to heed Paul's directive to pray for “those in authority”?This Sunday, hundreds of Christian leaders and congregations across the US will join Franklin Graham in a special day of prayer for President Donald Trump.The Billy Graham Evangelistic Association president, who prayed at Trump’s inauguration, said that the president needs prayer to “protect, strengthen, encourage, and guide” him in the face of political attacks.He cited the call to pray for leaders from 1 Timothy 2: I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. (v. 1–4)Beyond a designated day of prayer, many congregations include political leaders in their weekly petitions during Sunday gatherings. As they pray, leaders often emphasize God’s sovereignty over earthly kingdoms, unity in the body of Christ, and our desire to see goodness and flourishing in our country.Some US Christians have questioned whether national calls to prayer around certain issues or leaders “politicize” prayer to partisan ends. Each year around holidays such as Memorial Day and Independence Day, leaders caution against conflating patriotism and worship. (This year, the National Association of Evangelicals has focused on the Great Commandment [Matt. 22:37–39] for its “Pray Together Sunday” over the July 4 weekend.)Many of the president’s evangelical advisers have signed on to Sunday’s day of prayer, including James Dobson, Jerry Falwell Jr., Jack Graham, Robert Jeffress, and Paula White, who ...Continue reading...
The boldness and scope of the Chinese government’s human rights abuses against the Uyghur Muslim population has been continually increasing in recent years. It is estimated that at least one million Uyghur Muslims are currently detained in what China calls free “vocational training centers” but in reality are massive internment camps in which detainees are indoctrinated with Chinese Communist Party propaganda.While these developments have been well-documented, lesser known is an even more horrifying accusation leveled against China—the trafficking of human organs.The Wall Street Journal reported that a team of researchers have proven that patients in China (including those that travel from abroad) are promised matching organs for transplant within a few days—an unbelievably short amount of time compared to the wait in Western countries which ranges from a few months to a few years. This is especially interesting given that organ donation is still culturally taboo in China.So, where are these organs coming from? Some have accused China of forcibly removing organs from prisoners of conscience and selling them—a program of which Uyghur Muslims are among the victimized minorities.Dr. Enver Tohti, a former surgeon from the Xinjiang province, has testified that China harvests organs from executed prisoners and sells them illegally. In the UK, the panel of the Independent Tribunal Into Forced Organ Harvesting From Prisoners of Conscience issued an interim judgement stating they were “certain—unanimously, and sure beyond reasonable doubt—that in China, forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience has been practised for a substantial period of time, involving a very substantial number of victims.”Uyghurs across Xinjiang are forced by the government to undergo medical exams which include DNA sampling. Uyghur residents claim their information was stored in computers during the exam, but they were never given the results of the testing. According to reports by China’s state media, examinations were carried out on more than 90 percent of the population of Xinjiang. Chinese authorities claim that the Uyghurs’ DNA database is intended to help solve crimes and identify bodies. However, the great expense of the program and forced nature of the exams are causes for suspicion.Who is buying these organs? Evidence suggests patients from over 20 countries have traveled to China for transplants, including Korea, Japan, Egypt, Pakistan, India, Oman, and Saudi Arabia. The European Parliament has found that illegally harvested kidneys in China and elsewhere costs approximately $167,000 (150,000 Euros). Tohti has stated he believes most customers of Uyghur Muslim organs are wealthy Saudi transplant recipients and that China specifically markets these organs as “Halal” to appeal to Middle Eastern Muslims. Tohti argues that the reason for China’s compulsory blood sample collection from the Uyghur population is to develop a “live organ-matching database.”The Chinese government is investing serious money into their DNA sampling program. China is clearly planning to profit from their human rights abuses—the rest of the world needs to make sure that they don’t. Israel, Taiwan, and Spain have already banned “organ tourism” to China—more countries need to join in to help stop this abuse. It’s imperative that governments take steps to ensure that their citizens aren’t traveling to fund and participate in human rights abuses abroad.As trade talks between the U.S. and China continue, China’s human rights violations need to be at the forefront of the discussions. China’s organ trade isn’t a minor violation—it’s indicative of systematic harassment, abuse, and even murder of its religious minorities.
There is a role for churches of all sizes. Big churches meet some needs, small churches meet other needs.The typical church has about 75 attendees every week.So if you pastor a small congregation, your church isn’t broken, it’s what’s known as normal. And normal doesn’t need to be fixed.But for the most part, the books, conferences and classes about pastoring tend to concentrate on big church principles, or on how to help the smaller churches become bigger.That’s not a bad thing, in fact it’s expected, since we all want to learn from those with growing ministries.But when those are our only sources, we can miss a valuable aspect of church life – the vibrant, healthy small church.(This article was originally written for, and was published at FocusontheFamily.com)Understanding The Small ChurchSmall churches have needs, blessings and opportunities that are specific to their smaller size. And since they are by far the most typical church, it’s important for pastors and church leaders to understand small churches better so we can serve them, the pastors who lead them, and the people in them with greater effectiveness.I have been a small church pastor for over 30 years. And in the last several years I’ve had the opportunity to spend a lot of time writing for, speaking to and having conversations with thousands of my fellow small church pastors. They represent congregations in every state, dozens of countries and almost every denomination – and non-denomination.In that time I’ve discovered three specific areas about small churches that every church leader needs to be aware of.Biggest Need: EncouragementSmall churches, and especially small church pastors, labor under a great deal of discouragement.They face a constant shortage of resources, ideas, facilities, finances, ...Continue reading...
by Hohn Chos someone who is not on Twitter but keeps abreast of it, let me point out that it has been a pretty crazy week for the Christian social justicians. For this blogpost, we'll be discussing a particular tirade by one Bradly Mason. Now, as someone who does his best to avoid responding to mere "someone is WRONG on the Internet" situations, since Mason appears to have relatively limited influence—just like me, I'd add, before anyone falsely accuses me of looking down on him—normally I'd be inclined to just let it pass. But given that portions of and references to his tweetstorm have been enthusiastically liked or retweeted with approval by many more prominent figures, including Thabiti Anyabwile, Anthony Bradley, Jemar Tisby, and Ekemini Uwan, and as of this writing has almost 200 retweets and over 1,300 likes, I think it's fair to say that he has struck a nerve.That fact alone exposes the Proverbs 29:11 emotionalism and James 1:20 unrighteous anger which all too often drive so many of the social justicians' arguments, sadly. Certainly they don't appear to be driven by biblical or logical considerations, given that Mason cites zero Scripture despite 23 tweets, and quickly retreats from a slanderous bailey (naming many honorable men and groups[*] in response to the specific question, "Who is defending white supremacy using the Gospel?") to a still-indefensible motte (merely relegating those men and groups to a place of "making conservative evangelicalism a pretty safe place to harbor [white supremacist] views" and claiming they "defend White Supremacy") within the very same tweetstorm, incredibly. And during the course of his unsupported and unsupportable accusations (because none of the people or groups he names are "defending white supremacy" as they, in fact, overtly oppose white supremacy, and have said as much, and thus the claim is false), he also manages to airily dismiss many legitimate concerns raised by faithful saints, and set up and knock down over a dozen straw men, all while engaging in some of the most egregiously uncharitable heart-reading that I've seen in a long time.Rather than get into a point-by-point rebuttal, I'm opting to highlight two overarching themes that I see in many social justicians' arguments. First, their claims and calls to action are often legalistic in nature, specifically the type of pharisaic legalism that elevates the heavy burden of man-made rules and lays them on people's shoulders per Matthew 23:4.I find this to be an ironic phenomenon, given that social justicians often accuse their critics of being fundamentalists characterized by legalism, among other things, but the reality is that far too often, they themselves are the ones attempting to bootstrap generalized scriptural principles which do not speak to the time, place, or manner of how they ought to be applied, into extremely specific extra-biblical requirements. One example would be Anyabwile writing in the Washington Post last year about evangelicals' supposed "complicit silence" regarding President Trump (whom I did not support in 2016, by the way, but he is in fact the President, and thus for American Christians, Titus 3:1-2 applies), a terribly-reasoned piece which I previously critiqued here.In that light, let's consider Mason's "motte" argument, specifically that the brothers and groups he accused are "making conservative evangelicalism a pretty safe place to harbor [white supremacist] views" and elsewhere that they "defend White Supremacy". This is a serious charge, and as is often the case with "social justice" rhetoric, its main support appears to be the author's opinion, specifically that the accused here too often dare to express concerns about the faulty or at times even non-existent Scriptural rationales of the social justicians, as well as the naturally dangerous fruit likely to result from such unbiblical trees.In other words, if one disagrees with certain social justicians, or even declines to speak out on the specific topics they want with the specific frequency and strength they want, one is coddling white supremacists and defending white supremacy. Somehow. I guess. Even if some of the accused are not even white. Even if most (all?) of the accused have overtly preached and written against the evils of the sin of partiality pertaining to ethnicity and otherwise, and are supportive of things like interethnic marriage to such an extent that they are abhorred by the execrable kinists.Look, that isn't "defending white supremacy" by any rational standard. The reality is that the accused attack white supremacy and are flatly opposed to it. Their "crime" is simply that they don't make opposing it the absolute center of their ministry, and are unwilling to just shut up and let the social justicians say whatever they want, unchallenged, as they unbiblically bind others' consciences with legalistic appeals, or even worse, confuse the Gospel with a Galatian addition of "wokeness" as a fundamentally required work. And in the exact same way, I believe all of the accused are pro-life and anti-abortion, but vehemently oppose anti-abortion extremists such as Abolish Human Abortion when they go overboard with their legalistic appeals and anti-biblical ecclesiology. Indeed, there are many similarities between the AHA zealots and the social justicians, and the comparison does not reflect well on either group.Mason's argument is completely irrational and illogical, and again, it's absolutely legalistic. Because each of the accused, in his own stewardship, is ultimately accountable to the Lord—as well as his elders or fellow elders—for how he chooses to prioritize his public and private words and actions, and if Mason's (or Anyabwile's, or Bradley's, or Tisby's, or Uwan's, who all supported and aligned with Mason in some fashion) measuring stick for "woke" holiness is counting public comments opposed to or supportive of the social justicians' poor theology, well, they might as well break out their hemline-rulers and book bonfires.At the end of the day, I'm aware of no biblical command to preach or speak out publicly (or tweet, for that matter) on any specific topic with any specific frequency, with the exception of course being the Gospel per 2 Timothy 4:2, 1 Corinthians 9:16, Acts 10:42, Matthew 28:19-20, Romans 1:16, as the accused have so often pointed out and emphasized in their ministries. This is true even for whatever major current event might be happening in any given week. Whether and to what extent a pastor decides to talk about 9/11, or an abortion bill, or a tragic mass shooting, or whoever the perpetrator of that mass shooting might be, is a matter for that pastor's own stewardship, and he will have a greater accountability for it per James 3:1. But when another person makes sweeping and censorious accusations about an entire swath of faithful men and ministries based sheerly on that person's perception of that stewardship and prioritization, well, James 2:13 gives me genuine concern for that person.Meanwhile, for all of us as we decide if and when and how to speak, genuine care should be taken to avoid the real danger of virtue signaling to an outside secular world that is increasingly hostile to Christians...except of course those Christians eager to promote the latest worldly styles and fads, especially if they're willing to bash other groups of faithful Christians as they do. As Matthew 6:5 states, those virtue signalers already have their treasure, in the form of book deals, conference speaker gigs, Washington Post articles, and perhaps most commonly, the praise, admiration, and Twitter likes and retweets of countless social justicians, liberals, academics, celebrities, media figures, and cool hipsters whose only reactions to biblically faithful positions such as young earth creationism, traditional marriage, penal substitutionary atonement, and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ are the ridicule and revulsion reserved for uncouth, unwashed, unenlightened fundamentalists guilty of unspeakable thought crimes unfit for public discourse.Before you call me an alarmist, this is already happening to Christian business owners, professors, and students. And it will continue happening, and will only get worse. And although it's unsurprising to see the faithful remnant besieged by torch- and pitchfork-carrying secularists, the saddest part to me is wondering who among my currently faithful professing brethren will end up offering them aid and comfort, or even joining their ranks.This brings me to my second overarching theme, which is the pragmatic nature of so much of the social justician discourse. Again and again, I see concerns raised by people like Mason about the pragmatic ends of this or that action, rather than the biblical means on how to get to a particular end. I perceive over and over such a great concern for the temporal, that the spiritual is often neglected or treated as an afterthought. But as we know from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, we do not wage war according to the flesh, and in fact there is great importance in casting down arguments and opinions that are raised against the knowledge of God. This passage would seem to emphasize the importance of making sure that our means are indeed in accordance with what God has revealed in His Word, before rushing off to try to achieve some end. I would think one way to do this would be having a civil discourse.Instead, sadly, we have pieces like Mason's, and a general lack of interest in having a substantive discussion. Everyone I know on "my side" of the argument, including the accused, is eager to have a discussion about what the Bible says on this or that "social justice" topic, but the usual response I've seen from social justicians is crickets. And while I fully acknowledge the possibility of confirmation bias, based on my own personal experience in the church on this "social justice" issue, I believe I'm north of a dozen times recently when my attempts to engage in (highly civil) discussions have been met with silence, unfulfilled promises to respond later, in two cases a decisively dismissive attitude, and in only one case an actual conversation over lunch that turned out to be both profitable and enjoyable. And I've observed from afar a similar ratio in the tireless efforts of Neil Shenvi.[**]When I compare this track record to some higher-profile spats in the secular world, rife with declarations that look like, "go educate yourself, I'm not going to do your homework for you" (a seemingly curious response, if one is truly interested in advancing one's preferred position within the marketplace of ideas), or "I'm sick and tired of repeating myself all the time" (a more understandable sentiment in the secular world, perhaps, but less so for Christians called not to weary of doing good in Galatians 6:9), I'm grieved by the similarity of the responses.More and more, my impression is that many Christian social justicians are simply not interested in having a discussion (much less a debate) with the brothers and sisters who respectfully disagree with them. Instead, it seems as though the desire is simply to proselytize to build their coalition and then declare victory, with any opposition either ignored, or smashed down with a sledgehammer of presumptuously misappropriated moral authority. And when this happens, honest disagreement is often recast as hatred or slander, sadly, and people who earnestly hold differing biblical convictions are dismissed, or even worse, cast out, as adherents of a truncated or incomplete Gospel...or even as defenders of white supremacy. Because apparently, it is not good enough for many social justicians to simply separate and do ministry in different ways, as Paul and Barnabas did, but precisely because the social justicians are seeking pragmatic or even political goals, the movement must grow. And suddenly, personal convictions become "Gospel issues" and individual Christian liberty is turned into the legalistic requirements I described in my first theme, above.Instead of such political pragmatism, what the church truly needs is more godly, Gospel-proclaiming Christians concerned for the individual souls of the lost, and not more armchair politicians. And this is true regardless of whether their arms might sit on the right or left armrest. Indeed, some of the social justicians go on and on (and on and on) wondering how any professing Christian could ever support certain policies supported by the Republican Party or even worse, President Trump, displaying an astonishing lack of self-awareness as they do so. Because the reality is that they're doing the exact same thing as the people they decry, merely from the opposing political viewpoint.I'll leave it to each individual Christian to decide whether or not one party or the other is more supportive of his or her most important biblical principles and convictions. Speaking only for myself, however, I can't bring myself to vote for any party that would continue to maintain the horror of abortion as a fundamental right. This is my own personal bright line litmus test, my speaking up for the most voiceless and oppressed of all, as nearly a million babies a year are still being murdered in the US alone. It is every bit as shocking and immoral, if not more so, than the evils of hereditary slavery based on the color of one's skin with origins in man-stealing. Thankfully, that evil was abolished over 150 years ago...and yet our modern tragedy of abortion continues. The social justicians often speak about the importance of moral clarity on certain societal issues. I agree, and that's precisely why I personally believe all other societal issues—even some good ones, some important ones—pale in comparison to the very lives of countless unborn children.Once again, however, the differences in temporal priorities that individual Christians might have are precisely why I and so many other like-minded brothers (like the accused) and sisters emphasize the importance of Gospel proclamation, over any other social or political matter. Because the eternal state of each individual unsaved man or woman is something we all ought to be able to unite on, and of far greater importance than any temporal issue, however dire. I'm glad to be confident in that stance from so many of the accused. Indeed, I know the majority of these men and leaders in three of the groups personally, and they abhor and clearly teach against the sin of partiality both generally as well as specifically pertaining to ethnicity. So just as Mason's "motte" charge is completely baseless legalism, his "bailey" charge is simply outrageous calumny. And he and the people cheering him on ought to repent of it and retract it.Hohn's signature* Mason specifically accuses the brethren Justin Peters, John MacArthur, James White, Phil Johnson, Doug Wilson, JD Hall, Josh Buice, Tom Ascol, R. Scott Clark, Darrell Harrison, Burk Parsons, and in a follow-up tweet Samuel Sey and Voddie Baucham, as well as the groups Sovereign Nations, Alpha & Omega Ministries, Grace To You, Pulpit & Pen, Reformation Charlotte, Aquila Report, American Vision, and Ligonier Ministries.** If you're not familiar with Neil, you really ought to consider checking him out, and his research partner Pat Sawyer as well. Neil's website is chock-full of excellent, biblical takes on a wide variety of topics (including perhaps most notably, these days, critical theory), and his Twitter feed is the type of graciously edifying, Christ-honoring engagement that I would aspire to, were I ever to take the plunge onto that medium.
“Give Me This Mountain” I find Caleb to be one of the most inspiring personalities in the Old Testament. At eighty-five years old, he had not relinquished the spirit that had motivated him when he was forty. He still believed that through the help and power of God great things could be accomplished. Mountains could be possessed!And Moses sware on that day, saying, Surely the land whereon thy feet have trodden shall be thine inheritance, and thy children's for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God. And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.—Joshua 14:9–12A study of the life of Caleb will yield four lessons that are important for us to consider today.1. He Was Not Defeated or Discouraged by What Others Thought of HimI enjoy considering the meaning of names as I study; at times, especially in the Old Testament, they can reveal something to us about the person. The name Caleb does not reveal the character of this man, but may be an insight into some of the obstacles he faced. Caleb literally means “dog.” One scholar says it means “raging with canine madness.” In our vernacular, I think we would say Caleb was a “pit bull.” The truth is that though Caleb was of the tribe of Judah, he was from a clan in Judah that had a lower culture and a poor reputation.Notice his father was Jephunneh the Kenezite. This was a wild clan that lived as much amongst the Edomites as the Hebrews. They were not a well-thought-of group. My point is simply this: Caleb was not probably the best educated, nor was he the most cultured man, nor did he come from the royal folk; but he did have a heart for God. He was not going to let his education, his culture, or his family history stop him from being all he could be for God. He became a “pit bull” for God. No giant, no negative Hebrew could stop his zeal for serving the Lord.2. He Refused to Be Influenced by the Negative MajorityAnd Caleb stilled the people before Moses, and said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it.—Numbers 13:30When ten of the twelve spies brought an evil, negative report, Caleb spoke in opposition to them and in favor of entering and conquering Canaan. How easy it would have been for him to just blend in. He could have let those articulate ten princes have their say and just nod in agreement.Why should he choose to go against such an influential crowd? Because the crowd was wrong! Caleb was not going to remain silent while the majority was doubting and disobeying God. Thank God that Caleb was willing to take a stand for what was right even when that stand was unpopular.3. He Remained Steadfast throughout His LifetimeCaleb said the Lord had kept him alive for forty-five years from that fateful day when the majority ruled. For forty-five years, Caleb had wandered in the wilderness through no fault of his own. He suffered the same hardships and trials as those who had disobeyed God. Yet, his zeal to serve the Lord had not waned.Our generation needs to learn the steadfastness of Caleb. I am told that the average time a person is passionate to serve God in our churches is three years. May God help us to have the spirit of Caleb to passionately serve Him all the days of our lives.Dr. John Rawlings played such a vital role in leading me to Christ and in encouraging me as a young pastor. He was a man who possessed an unflagging spirit. I will never forget as I visited with him when he was ninety-six years old, and he showed me his ten-year ministry plan. When he went to Heaven at ninety-nine years old, he was still planning and serving. God help us to be committed to serve until our last day! Age may require changes in the work of our ministry, but it never supplies a reason to quit serving.4. He Did Not Let Obstacles Keep Him from the Fight and, Ultimately, the VictoryJoshua 15:13–19 tells how Caleb organized his family to fight the enemy and take the mountain, the walled city, and overcome the giants. Everything in life that is worth accomplishing has obstacles. But knowing God's will allows obstacles to become opportunities for Him to work through us.One of the greatest soulwinners I have ever known was a man named Carlos Demarest. He led thousands to the Lord and encouraged so many Christians to be better witnesses. He was stricken with ALS, and the last stages left him unable to speak and greatly restricted in movement. In his last days of life, he felt led of the Lord to get the phone book of Mexico City, Mexico, and put a letter explaining the gospel and a gospel tract in an envelope and mail it to every listing. Many churches gave to that project; and in his last days, I went to Cincinnati and sat at the table with him and worked with him as he labored, trying to get the letters and tracts into the envelopes.Though he could not speak, he wrote in an almost illegible note, “Pray, Mike, maybe these folks will get saved!” No obstacle could keep him from serving. I have no doubt that in Heaven we will meet people who got envelopes in the mail and met the Saviour because of a severely handicapped man's untiring efforts to “take that mountain.”May God give us the spirit of Caleb. There is still so much to be done and more mountains to conquer!
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