Marketing Gimmick or Means of Grace? Part 4

More on the Blessings of Small Groups

Read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

by Ryan McCammack

Previously in my articles on this topic, I have talked about the why and the how of small groups at Calvary Baptist Church in Joliet, Illinois. In this article, I will seek to address what has happened at our church as a result of this ministry. As a springboard into this topic, let’s briefly look at a passage of Scripture:

paper_chain.jpgSee to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness (Heb. 3:12-1, NIV).

This passage teaches us, among other things, that we are prone to unbelief and rebellion against God because of the deceitfulness of our own sinful hearts. If you have been a believer for any length of time, you have no doubt seen this principle in action. Sin is consistently and actively waging its campaign of deceit in your own life. Read more about Marketing Gimmick or Means of Grace? Part 4

The Resurrection Body of Christ the Lord, Part 6

Read Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and Part 5.

by John C. Whitcomb, Th.D.

At the dawn of the millennial kingdom on earth, our Lord Jesus Christ will reveal Himself in bodily form to all glorified and non-glorified believers. Just as He revealed Himself and His true identity to His astonished disciples for 40 days after His crosses_against_the_sky.jpgresurrection, often at mealtimes, so also will be His self-revelation at the inaugural kingdom banquet.

At the second coming of Christ in glory, probably culminating at this banquet, the nation of Israel will experience a transforming confrontation with their Messiah God. The Apostle John said that at His coming “every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him” (Rev. 1:7, KJV).
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Truth, Transparency, or TMI (Too Much Information)

by Beth Murschell

Traditional Southerners have a reputation for sweet insincerity—”Y’all come back, ya hear? Any time. By the way, I just love that dress.” In spite of a Southern upbringing, I grew up believing that honesty meant being authentic to the point of wearing the expression that best fit my mood (not always pleasant). I was “real” and “authentic” before it was cool. If murschell_truth.jpgsomeone asks how I am, being honest means I tell them, honestly. Or does it?

When I ask a certain man at my church, “How are you?”, he always replies, “Better than I deserve.” True, yes; however, what if I really want to know? What if I am desirous of being on target with my prayers for him? What if I want to participate in a community of believers who bear one another’s burdens? Or maybe I am just parroting a social phrase and in return getting what I deserve.

TMI is an online shorthand for “too much information,” as in “I really didn’t need to know that much personal information.” Some do not require urging to lay bare their mental processes. They present you with X-rays of their brains (or any other system) upon request. “Bless their hearts,” as we Southerners say (to make it right) immediately after criticizing someone.
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Recognizing the Grace of God in Others

by Michael Osborne

One Thursday night last April, I slipped into the back pew of Temple Baptist Church in Omaha’s Benson area, having arrived as soon as I could after work, meaning late. It was the Nebraska Association of Regular Baptist Churches’ (NARBC) spring Bible conference. John Greening, national representative for the General Association of Regular Baptist Churches osborne_thank_you.jpg(GARBC), was the speaker for the evening. Before launching into his message, he took a moment to sort of hold us all at arms’ length and exclaim over what God was doing in the NARBC. He praised God for us all, praised God for the labors going on in each congregation, praised God that we were in attendance and ready to hear the Word, praised God for our commitment. One might even say John Greening delighted in us for a moment.

There’s a cynical side of me that could criticize Greening for effusive sentimentality. C’mon, Dr. Greening! Don’t you know what we’re really like? How do you know that we’re all so godly and so motivated by love for the Lord? How do you know that we want to be here and that we’re actually paying attention?
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The Harry Potter Books

nick6.jpgNote: This article was originally published in April 2005 as part seven in a series about “The Christian and Fantastic Literature.”

by Kevin T. Bauder

Harry Potter has become a phenomenon. These books have provoked unbelievable enthusiasm among both children and adults. They have also provoked unbelievable controversy from some on the religious right.
Harry PotterThe enthusiasm is understandable. J.K. Rowling has captured the whimsy of a generation in the Potter series, especially in the earlier volumes. Much of the series is simply a delightful romp, almost a parody of the fantastic genre. Witches ride broomsticks, but mainly to play airborne soccer (quidditch). Trolls are discovered to have boogers. Characters move from fireplace to fireplace through the “floo network.” Much of the charm of Harry Potter comes from its quality as a spoof. It is a cross between J.R.R. Tolkien and Mad Magazine.
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