October 24, 2016
by Peter Spiers
In today’s world the chief weapon of mass destruction (WMD) in the social realm is not nuclear, biologic or chemical in nature (although it is intended to have the same effect!). The chief weapon today is to spew forth toxic, personal character attacks of all kinds against an opponent or someone who is perceived as a threat. Whether any accusation is true or not, and clearly some are, the ultimate goal is simple: to discredit or destroy someone’s character. In this type of personal warfare, the assassination of character is intended to demonstrate the corruption of the one being attacked and the superiority of the attacker’s character, credibility or ability. This tactic is not new. It is as old as human history itself. When our first parents were confronted in the garden with the voice of the adversary, Satan, his tactics—albeit subtle and crafty—were designed to discredit God’s character and trustworthiness and to elevate his own. His sinister plot entailed portraying God as a liar and a corrupt fraud! (Gen 3:1-5)
Responding to Personal WMD’s
The apostle Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth provides powerful insights into how to deal with personal attacks we often encounter as Bible-believing Christians. Scripture shows us these attacks can come from inside and outside the church! (Matt 7:15-16; 2 Tim 3:12)
Case in point: After dealing with multiple problems plaguing the church at Corinth in his first letter—namely sexual sin, strife, disunity, pride and factionalism (sadly this sounds all too familiar nearly 2000 years later!)—in 2 Corinthians chapter 4 Paul responds to a more personal challenge: direct attacks on him and his preaching. In addition to bearing the burden of carefully and tirelessly shepherding the church at Corinth through serious moral and spiritual issues, there were a group of false teachers that had crept into the church who were mercilessly attacking Paul on every front. Their goal was clear: to discredit Paul so that they could teach their false, legalistic gospel. Paul had to go!! Their strategy was to constantly complain that the problems in the church were due to Paul’s lack of qualifications or fitness to minister as well as his flawed and deceptive message about the gospel of the grace of God found in Jesus Christ alone. Continue Reading →
April 14, 2016
by Nigel Shailer
In most churches, a significant proportion of the budget is assigned to ensure the preaching pastor has sufficient time and resources to prepare sermons. On average, it takes around twenty hours to prepare an expository sermon. When it is a difficult passage or topic, that time allotment increases. Now twenty hours is a big chunk of the pastor’s week, and yet we are prepared to free him up for that commitment, because we believe the sermon is one of the most important weekly activities we undertake. But is our commitment to pastoral-preparation matched by our own congregational preparation? I’m not saying that every parishioner should give twenty hours a week to prepare to listen to a sermon, but there should be some preparation in order to listen well.
What needs more preparation—the sower or the ground? Charles Spurgeon’s comments are appropriate:
We are told men ought not to preach without preparation. Granted, but we add, men ought not to hear without preparation. Which, do you think, needs the most preparation, the sower or the ground? I would have the sower come with clean hands, but I would have the ground well-plowed and harrowed, well-turned over, and the clods broken before the seed comes in. It seems to me that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than by the preacher.
Of course, we are not downplaying the effort required from the preacher, but we listeners should consider our efforts too.
This week, I’ll present four pre-sermon spiritual preparations, and then next week, five physical preparations. Here we go with the spiritual preparations . . . Continue Reading →
March 28, 2016
by Francisco Martinez
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures—Apostle Paul (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
The work of Christ on the cross and his triumphant victory over death are of first and high importance. Why? Because it is fundamental and foundational to the Christian life. Without the death of the perfect Son of Man there is no forgiveness of sins. Without the resurrection of Christ there is no power to live the Christian life. That is the reason for our celebration on Easter day all throughout the world.
But, on Monday morning, post-resurrection, we must not stop where most churches stop. We must not end where most contemporary teaching and discipleship ends. There is something much more than the justifying work of Christ and his glorious resurrection. Continue Reading →
March 14, 2016
by John Pleasnick
FYI- Desiring God ministries has released a new book, full of readings to prepare your heart for Good Friday and Easter. The book is called Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy and is available digitally for free. Get it now, so you can start reading on Palm Sunday (March 20) and continue through Easter.
Download ‘Your Sorrow Will Turn to Joy’