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Legalists & Libertines
Monday, September 22, 2014
How do believers navigate life’s gray areas? When it comes to activities, amusements, or anything else God’s Word does not specifically address, how should conscientious Christians determine what they can and can’t do?
God's Sufficient Grace
Friday, September 19, 2014
A certain poor man spent many years saving money to realize his dream of going on a cruise. When he finally saved the required sum, he bought a ticket. Knowing he could not afford the extravagant food on board, he took what he could afford—crackers and peanut butter. After a few days of observing the other passengers eating luxurious meals, his peanut butter crackers became stale and tasteless. Desperately hungry, he begged a porter to allow him to work for food. “Why, sir, didn’t you realize meals are included with your ticket? You may eat as much as you like!” Lots of Christians live like that man.
God's Sufficient Spirit
Wednesday, September 17, 2014
The book titled I’m Dysfunctional, You’re Dysfunctional, by Wendy Kaminer, debunked much of the mystique of modern psychology. The author did not purport to be a Christian. In fact, she described herself as “a skeptical, secular humanist, Jewish, feminist, intellectual lawyer.”
God's Sufficient Word, Part 2
Monday, September 15, 2014
There is a direct parallel with advertisements for soft drinks and psychology—they both not only make promises they can’t keep, they actually leave people yearning for the real source of life, energy, and vitality.
God's Sufficient Word, Part 1
Friday, September 12, 2014
It is significant that one of the biblical names of Christ is Wonderful Counselor (Isaiah 9:6). He is the highest and ultimate One to whom we may turn for counsel, and His Word is the well from which we may draw divine wisdom. What could be more wonderful than that?
Insufficient Help, Part 2
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Why has the church been so quick to accept psychology? In large part it is because psychologists portray themselves as members of the scientific community. In our scientific age, unequivocal acceptance in the academic community must mean that psychology’s truth claims are unassailable, right?
Insufficient Help, Part 1
Tuesday, September 09, 2014
In 1980, Grace Community Church was hit with a lawsuit charging that the pastors on our staff were negligent because we tried to help a suicidal young member of our church by giving him biblical truth. It was the first clergy malpractice case ever heard in the American court system.
Contaminated Cures for Soul Care
Monday, September 08, 2014
What is your response when someone bares their soul to you, sharing their emotional or spiritual struggles? Few things reveal our inadequacy more than listening to someone’s problems and not having a clue what to say. When people use words like “depression,” “anxiety attack,” “addiction,” or “mental illness,” we tend to shrink back. These are words that describe deep problems, likely requiring a combination of medication and professional counseling. Or do they?
God’s Work in Church Discipline
Thursday, September 04, 2014
Christ’s teaching in Matthew 18:15–17 outlines clear instructions regarding the practice of church discipline. I’ve said it many times throughout this series, but it cannot be emphasized enough: Church discipline is always to be driven by the hope of restoring a straying brother—never out of derision or contempt. Love for Christ, His church, and one another requires that we treat sin with extreme prejudice, but we treat the sinning brother or sister with extreme love.
Church Discipline, Step Four: Excommunication
Tuesday, September 02, 2014
Just last month a federal judge determined that California’s death penalty law is unconstitutional. The reason? The penal code is so broken and beleaguered it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment—violating the Eighth Amendment. Incredibly, a judge determined the process and waiting period (often decades long) for the death penalty is more cruel than the penalty itself!
Church Discipline, Step Three: Telling the Church
Thursday, August 28, 2014
Modern evangelicalism groans under the weight of church members who persist in sinful lifestyles. The fallout of their conduct is destructive and poisonous, often affecting other believers and sometimes whole congregations. It’s the duty of all Christians to protect their churches from the corruption of unchecked sin by following Christ’s pattern for church discipline found in Matthew 18.
Church Discipline, Step Two: Bring Witnesses
Wednesday, August 27, 2014
Unrepentant sin is a deadly spiritual cancer. It cannot be allowed to fester and corrupt the Body of Christ. In Matthew 18, Jesus outlined a multi-step process for dealing with sin in the church. It begins in verse 15 with a private, one-on-one confrontation with the sinning brother. But because not everyone will repent after repeated private confrontations, Christ gave us a second step in verse 16.
Church Discipline, Step One: Private Confrontation
Monday, August 25, 2014
Suppose a bomb were found in a house or office building, and the bomb-disposal experts simply stood around waiting for an explosion. What would happen? Likely, people would get hurt. And the so-called experts would be rightly punished for dereliction of duty. But in the Body of Christ—where unrepentant sin is like a ticking bomb—church leaders often act like an ineffective bomb squad, taking a passive wait-and-see approach to sin in the congregation. And when the inevitable “explosion” happens, they’re left with deeply hurt people and collateral damage.
Your Personal Responsibility in Church Discipline
Thursday, August 21, 2014
Too many Christians regard discipline as the exclusive domain of church elders, but that is simply not the case. The purity of the church is every Christian’s concern. The responsibility to confront sin that defiles the church lies with the first person to become aware of the sin. Don’t defer it to someone else. Don’t spread the circle of knowledge further than necessary. Furthermore, prayer for the sinning brother should never be used as an alternative to obeying Christ’s clear command to confront.
Church Discipline Misconceived
Monday, August 18, 2014
Few aspects of church life offend modern sensibilities more than the practice of church discipline. The contemporary dogmas of civility and tolerance keep it outside the doors of many congregations, fostering a culture of unrestrained carnality, unrepentant sin, and false professions of faith. But regardless of how liberal a church may be, there is always a threshold where escalating sin can no longer be ignored. It is unavoidable that there will be times when sin has to be dealt with through confrontation.