All You Really Need Is "Heart"? Part 2

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Andre and Harold, two mature Christian men, received multiple job offers. Being well taught in the relevant biblical principles, they applied only for positions that were biblically permissible. But that still left each with more than one job to choose from.
heart_shadow.jpgEach took a different approach to resolving his dilemma. Andre redoubled his prayer efforts and sought to hear from God during his devotions. One day, God “gave him a verse.” It mentioned mountains in a favorable light, and one of the job offers included relocation to Colorado. Excited about how God had led him, Andre accepted the position and shared the story during testimony time at church. Hearts were warmed.

But Harold took a different approach. Having already yielded the matter to the Lord and asked for His direction, Harold sought advice, gathered information, and thought the matter through. The position in Colorado would provide well for his family, and he’d always enjoyed mountains and skiing. So he made his choice. It seemed reasonable to believe that God had led him. But at testimony time, he felt a strange reluctance to share his story. People often spoke of how “God gave them a verse” or how they “felt a peace” or “got a burden.” It just didn’t seem spiritual to say, “I asked for the Lord’s leading then did what made sense to me.”

Thus, two men arrived at the same place by very different routes. Did one take a better route than the other? Did Andre do the right thing by tuning into God’s working in his heart? Did Harold “lean on his own understanding” by overvaluing his intellect? Did Andre walk in the Spirit and Harold in mere “human logic”?
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ACCC Responds to "Bones of Christ" Claim

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Bethlehem PA — An upcoming Discovery Channel program contends that two ancient ossuaries (bone boxes first discovered in 1980) once possibly contained the earthly remains of Jesus Christ. The assertions, which were sure to raise objections from Evangelical Christians who believe the Scriptural account of Christ’s resurrection and His bodily ascension into heaven, have been given extensive coverage in mainstream media.

The documentary, entitled The Lost Tomb of Jesus (a.k.a. The Jesus Family Tomb), was produced by Hollywood film maker James Cameron (The Terminator, Titanic), who took his material chiefly from the book The Jesus Family Tomb.

According to Dr. John McKnight, the claims support a hidden agenda. “It is not unusual for secularists to cast aspersions upon the Scripture. While trying to hide behind a facade of scholarship and intellectual respectability, they are in fact driven by an anti-Christ agenda which the media seem happy to accommodate,” said the president of the American Council of Christian Churches (ACCC). “This (documentary) is but another in a succession of anti-Christ expressions from proponents of the religion of secularism. One detects no restraints of dignity or scruples when the subject is Jesus Christ: He is fair game so long as promoters figure there is a buck to be made,” he added, speaking from his Darlington, Maryland, office.

Organized in 1941, the ACCC is a national coalition of churches which stand for the literal interpretation of Scripture. Dr. Ralph Colas, ACCC executive secretary, added his response to the hype of The Lost Tomb of Jesus documentary.

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All You Really Need Is "Heart"? Part 1

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Fundamentalism features a lot of talk about the heart these days. It probably always has. Speakers emphasize the importance of “hearts on fire for God,” a children’s CD warns against the dangers of developing a cold heart, and a college hosts an annual Heart Conference.
heart.jpgThese are not bad things, and we’d be worse off without them, but where are the children’s CDs dramatizing the dangers of an empty head? Where is the preaching emphasizing the need for “heads full of facts for God”? And why isn’t there a Brain Conference somewhere in Fundamentalism?

The absence of these things, or the reluctance to call them what they are if they do exist, suggests that many feel that the rational and cognitive in us is, at best, second rate. It’s not very “spiritual.” Some feel that matters of the intellect are inherently hostile to the things of God in a way that “matters of the heart” are not.

As always, the question for us is, “What does the Bible teach?”
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Evangelism and National Hoops Ministries

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Most conservative churches are struggling in the area of evangelism. The leaders will readily admit it. Most pastors are discouraged by the fact that we seem to be doing a pretty lousy job of spreading the Gospel message to the lost. I believe that conversion is God’s job, but evangelism is our job. And it seems we’re pretty anemic at doing our job.

nhoop_logo.jpgWhen it comes to methods, we seem to be just as confused and discouraged. Most Gospel tracts seem to be tossed aside (Truly, when is the last time someone came to your church or got saved because of a Gospel tract?). Christian rock concerts compromise our philosophy of ministry. We have reacted against the “felt needs” approach. Door-to-door evangelism can be helpful in inviting people to church but is rarely effective in seeing someone come to genuine conversion. And what do we have left?

Unsaved people aren’t knocking our doors down on Sunday morning to hear our message. Many have jumped on the bandwagon of relational evangelism only to discover that it’s much more difficult than “confrontational” evangelism. It takes more time and often has the same result as more direct approaches. Worse, relationships sometimes develop, but people never share the message. Bottom line—most pastors I talk to feel like they’re “all thumbs” when it comes to evangelism. I feel your pain. Evangelism in a postmodern society is difficult. On top of that, most pastors don’t face a tough job review in this area. How can a flock who don’t evangelize hold accountable a pastor who doesn’t evangelize? It’s much easier just to do what’s expected from the congregation rather than to do what God expects. Read more about Evangelism and National Hoops Ministries

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Translation Change Best for Us

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For some time, I have believed we needed to make a change in the translation that we use at Red Rocks Baptist Church as well as what we use at Silver State Christian School. But I have been in ministry long enough to know that “change,” regardless of how small it may seem to leadership, can impact church members in a big way. Over the years, I have made a16111.jpg number of changes in our church, not in core beliefs but in the area of methodology and practical ministry. We have rewritten our constitution, moved our facilities (twice), changed our worship service format and times, changed our name, utilized technology in our worship services, restructured our outreach program, reformatted our Sunday school and children’s ministries, developed our music policy, and refined our membership materials and process.

From my experience, at least four essential ingredients make change happen “decently and in order.” Read more about Translation Change Best for Us

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Of Church Organization, Part 1

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The Church Covenant

In The Nick of Time
The ecclesiology of the gathered church centers upon the notion of covenant. Gathered churches are also known as “free churches.” They are distinguished by the fact that their membership is voluntary. Gathered-church ecclesiology contrasts with the parish system, in which an established “community” church includes all the people within a particular geographical area. Traditionally, Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Reformed churches have operated according to the parish system. Anabaptists, Congregationalists, Baptists, and their spiritual kin have insisted upon gathered churches.

The parish system normally relies upon civil authority to enforce the requirements of church membership. In the most extreme cases (Zwingli’s Zurich, for example), the distinction between church and state dwindles to the point of imperceptibility. In the modern world, most countries have separated church from state. This has forced most parish churches to adapt in ways that make them more similar to gathered churches.

Gathered churches cannot rely upon civil authority to enforce church matters, and they would not use it if they could. On the contrary, each gathered church relies upon its covenant to distinguish it from the surrounding community. It is the covenant that sets a church apart from other institutions and makes it a church.

Not every gathering or organization of believers is a church. Mission societies, Christian camps, and Christian educational institutions may be organizations of believers, but they are not churches. They have no authority under the New Testament to perform ecclesiastic acts or to exercise church discipline.
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Pure Religion and Cold, Hard Cash

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Adoption and the Blessings of God

For five days in September 2006, I saw the keen blade of SharperIron being used, not to draw blood (however beneficial bloodletting can be) but to pluck fruit that will last a lifetime. We were about $7,000 short of a $13,000 fee that would allow us to kids1.jpgbring home our daughter, Chloe Jane, from Korea. The agency had given us great leeway, but time was running out. We were on the verge of saying, “No, I’m sorry. Here’s her file back.”

In one sense, the adoption process began in March 2006 when we first inquired about her. But it really began in 1999 when I saw an ABC news piece about Russian orphans. The sorrow I felt at seeing those little ones who could not stand up or walk due to a lack of adult interaction sent me to my computer to learn about adoption. For four years, that was all I could do—research adoption. Part of that time was spent discerning whether Mick, my husband, and I were on the same page about adoption. The rest was spent praying for the money to adopt. Our church could not help. (RIGHT: Chloe, David, and Bailey)

I looked at page after page of children’s faces and checked out country requirements for adopting couples—Russia, China, Vietnam, Korea, the Philippines, Cambodia, Romania, and more. I called agencies for information packets, attended informational meetings, and even selected the agency I would use, if we were ever able to adopt. My husband insisted that we should have the money in hand before we started the process; but looking at our finances, we realized this condition was an impossible dream, apart from an outright miracle. We pursued a couple of domestic opportunities, but they fell through.
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Christian Law Association—The SharperIron Interview | Part 2—Hovind, Ligonier, and Bob Gray

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gibbs.jpgI recently had the privilege of interviewing David Gibbs III, attorney for the Christian Law Association (Seminole, FL). I conducted four interviews with Dr. Gibbs and Matt Davis, another attorney for the Gibbs Law Firm (Seminole, FL). The first two interviews are about the Terri Schiavo case; Dr. Gibbs was one of the lead attorneys on the case. We will air those interviews closer to the two-year anniversary of her death.

This interview details three recent legal issues: the Hovind case, the Ligonier case, and the Bob Gray case.

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Jason Janz

Listen to the interview (29:09 min., 26.69 MB).

To save this file to your computer, simply right-click on one of the above links and choose “Save Target As…”

SharperIron Podcast RSS Feed—can be subscribed and listened to in applications such as iTunes or Juice or a standard RSS reader such as Google Reader or Bloglines.

Click here to subscribe directly via iTunes.

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