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FROM ACBC  Association of Certified Biblical Counselors

Thanksgiving as a Way of Life

All across North America the days are getting shorter, chillier, and (to the chagrin of many) Christmas music is already playing on the radio stations. As Thanksgiving draws near, it often serves to bring about various memories and emotions for people. And for the Christian, gratitude and thankfulness are not just emotions or feelings that are felt or something only celebrated once a year – it is the very air we breathe. All who have repented of their sin and trust and follow Jesus as Savior understand that their regenerate heart, and indeed any good thing in life (James 1:17), is a gift; a gift to which the only correct response is worship, obedience, and thankfulness to a good and kind God.

Christian growth insures that these truths sink deeper and deeper into the heart of a believer as they live their lives in light of the Gospel. By God’s grace, another reality concerning thankfulness that believers will come to understand is that thankfulness is a very powerful weapon against sin and a tool to endure suffering.

The Power of Thankfulness

About 10 years ago, I found myself in a very dark season of depression. No appetite for food, no energy to get out of bed in the morning, and a tendency to isolate myself were a few of the visible manifestations of this chapter of my life. I was suffering, but my particular suffering was also intermingled with sin. Bitterness, selfishness, and anger were thoughts that I too often found myself embracing. These are formidable foes when mingled with depression because often we only see our sorrow, and not our sin, when we are in the throes of deep sadness. This season led to much fear. I became terrified to hop into my car and take a quick trip across town. Terrified of my family being killed in a house fire. Terrified of anything and everything scary I could think of. Sin is at its core irrational, and leads to further irrationality.¹

I distinctly remember one morning that became a sort of linchpin in turning the corner on fighting sin and fighting for joy. I was lying in bed trying to force myself to get started with the day, and the morning sunlight was streaming through my window onto my face. This immediately reminded me of Matthew 5:45, “…For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” This immediately prompted me to say in thanksgiving, “Thank you God that you cause the sun to shine on the evil and the good, you are so kind. This is a direct evidence of your kindness that I am experiencing in this moment. Thank you.” This simple acknowledgment of God’s Word and prayer of gratitude to Him, caused me to want to get up and keep thanking Him for His kindness. A few days later, I was eating a piece of homemade pie (funny how certain small memories remain crystal clear even after years) and I remember silently thanking God for giving me the ability to enjoy this delicious food and for His provision of sustenance for my body (I Timothy 4:4). I realized this was yet another evidence of a kind and gracious Father. Then one night, as I was reading the Psalms and praying I was convicted over my sin of bitterness and anger against an individual, as well as selfishness. I prayed that the Lord would forgive my sin and help me to walk in repentance. I started thanking the Lord that I would be worshipping Jesus in heaven alongside this individual someday and started to pray for the Lord to bless this person’s life. As time went on, these prayers weren’t just an act of obedience, they eventually became my joy to pray in this manner. This season didn’t leave quickly, as seasons like this rarely do. But the act and discipline of thankfulness became the means by which the Lord granted repentance and deep joy and growth in the days and nights of many tears.

The Gift of Gratitude

When God commands thankfulness (i.e. the Psalms, Ephesians 5:4, Philippians 4:6, Colossians 4:2, etc.), he does it with the understanding that it will bring life and joy and renewal in the inner man, even in the very darkest of valleys. The most important thing in the life of a suffering believer is not that pain be alleviated, but that the believer looks more like Jesus after having endured the trial (II Corinthians 12:9-10). Thankfulness is a powerful means of grace for the believer to lay hold of in the midst of fiery trials. ²

Don’t let Thursday be the primary day this year that you give thanks to God for his great kindness. Let it be a day of rejoicing that we can praise God for his kindness and all of his blessings for everyday of our lives on earth and into eternity.

 

¹ Frame, John. Doctrine of the Word of God, 16.

² For more on thankfulness as a means of grace, see Chapter 8 in Finally Free, by Dr. Heath Lambert.

A must read testimony from the site “In the Light of Deception”

Falling Into Deception

Where is truth found?
Simply put, truth is found in the literal word of God alone. Nothing needs to be added or taken from scripture to uncover new truths or to keep current.

 

Early Deception 

Matthew 24:11

11 “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.”

Matthew 24:24

24 “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.”

I became familiar with false teachings at an early age. From six years old to about ten years of age I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness. A couple of years after that I attended some Christian churches with my mom. As a young adult, I started on my own quest for the truth. I went to different places of worship including a Catholic church and a Buddhist temple. Because of extended family members, I also became familiar with Mormonism.

After experiencing many kinds of deception, both in my youth and early adulthood, it is a wonder that I became a Christian at all, but I did.

 Within the Walls of Today’s Churches

2 Timothy 4:1-4

4 “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”

By the time I was 30 I had finally accepted God as my personal Lord and Savior.  It wasn’t an instantaneous transformation, but definitely a work in progress.  At that time my husband wasn’t ready or even looking for a church to attend.  I went to church alone early on in our relationship.  Eventually, he decided to visit a few of them.  We ended up agreeing on a church that his brother and sister-in-law attended and even helped start.  They were one of the first 12 members of the church.  It had now grown and moved into an auditorium at an elementary school.  My husband and I ended up attending the church for 12 years.  We were married by the pastor and also adopted two beautiful little girls through a program presented at the church (a true blessing!).  Needless to say, we were fully invested in the church and their practices.

The church grew very quickly and needed to move into a larger facility.  During this time another church in the area was losing its pastor and the church was looking for a replacement pastor.  Our pastor ended up taking the position and merging both churches together.  With the merge of the two churches came new ministry opportunities.  The church was very involved in the community with outreach programs but was missing the vital ingredient for Christian growth, the bible.  Although bible verses were being used within the topical teachings, the bible was nowhere to be found! Each service had a fill in the blank pamphlet relating to the topic being taught and flashed the scriptures on a large screen.  It seemed there was no need to bring a Bible to church.  At that time, I thought, “Great, this makes things easier.  I don’t have to try to find the scriptures myself and I can keep up with the study.”  Here’s where compromise and biblical illiteracy started to take root and deception quickly took a hold of my life.  It was a slow fade, or maybe it wasn’t.  Perhaps I fell into deception from the minute I walked through the doors of this popular evangelical church?

Before long, a “More Seats, More Story” fundraiser started.  The church was ready to build a new (even larger) sanctuary.  Many people paid into this building fund for months or even years. With this growth came more entertaining music, skits, and many things the world had to offer. Even the youth ministry themed their events around what was popular in the world, like “The Hunger Games”.  Also, small group outreaches were themed after “Happy Hour”.  The church was driven by their “More Seats, More Stories” theme and the idea of reaching people to fill seats in the new sanctuary.  The church opened a café, served popcorn, donuts, pastries, breakfast burritos and coffee.  They had kiosks for ministry opportunities and outreach. They served tacos for the “Happy Hour” theme and had incredibly talented musicians offering worldly music, such as Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, and even a Christmas tribute to Michael Jackson, along with popular trendy Christian music. There were even ice skaters, actors, painters, dancers, and elaborate stage set-ups.  We were immensely entertained and the church grew like wildfire.  The church “Rocked”, but where was God in all of this entertainment?  Did God have a seat in this sanctuary?  Did anyone know about the word of God?  Scripture was being used, but not being taught.

 1 Timothy 6:3-5  

3 “If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.” 

There’s a big difference between using God’s word to bring about a pastor’s topics and teaching God’s infallible word to the flock.  Most of the members of this church were falling into compromise and didn’t even know it.  Author’s books were recommended for bible study, such as John Ortberg’s, “It All Goes Back into the Box”and Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven Life”.  There was also the  pastor’s fill in the blank DVD bible study series.  Many authors were quoted during sermons and the word of God was downplayed.  This church was a mess, but many people (including myself) couldn’t get enough of it.

 

Finish article HERE

 

 

 

The Dead End of Sexual Sin


Unbelievers don’t “struggle” with same-sex attraction. I didn’t. My love for women came with nary a struggle at all.

I had not always been a lesbian, but in my late twenties, I met my first lesbian-lover. I was hooked and believed that I had found my real self. Sex with women was part of my life and identity, but it was not the only part — and not always the biggest part.

I simply preferred everything about women: their company, their conversation, their companionship, and the contours of their/our body. I favored the nesting, the setting up of house and home, and the building of lesbian community.

As an unbelieving professor of English, an advocate of postmodernism and poststructuralism, and an opponent of all totalizing meta-narratives (like Christianity, I would have added back in the day), I found peace and purpose in my life as a lesbian and the queer community I helped to create.

Conversion and Confusion

It was only after I met my risen Lord that I ever felt shame in my sin, with my sexual attractions, and with my sexual history.

Conversion brought with it a train wreck of contradictory feelings, ranging from liberty to shame. Conversion also left me confused. While it was clear that God forbade sex outside of biblical marriage, it was not clear to me what I should do with the complex matrix of desires and attractions, sensibilities and senses of self that churned within and still defined me.

What is the sin of sexual transgression? The sex? The identity? How deep was repentance to go?

Meeting John Owen

In these newfound struggles, a friend recommended that I read an old, seventeenth-century theologian named John Owen, in a trio of his books (now brought together under the title Overcoming Sin and Temptation).

At first, I was offended to realize that what I called “who I am,” John Owen called “indwelling sin.” But I hung in there with him. Owen taught me that sin in the life of a believer manifests itself in three ways: distortion by original sin, distraction of actual day-to-day sin, and discouragement by the daily residence of indwelling sin.

Eventually, the concept of indwelling sin provided a window to see how God intended to replace my shame with hope. Indeed, John Owen’s understanding of indwelling sin is the missing link in our current cultural confusion about what sexual sin is — and what to do about it.

As believers, we lament with the apostle Paul, “I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells in me” (Romans 7:19–20). But after we lament, what should we do? How should we think about sin that has become a daily part of our identity?

Owen explained with four responses.

Finish HERE

By Steven Kozar

An Excerpt from Messed Up Church

Full Article HERE

Don’t listen to anyone whose teaching requires “spitting out” afterwards.
Don’t listen to anyone that gets “downloads” (new revelations) directly from God.
Don’t listen to anyone who gives lip service to the Bible but rarely actually reads it.
Don’t listen to anyone whose ideas require “The Message Bible” for validation.
Don’t listen to anyone who is getting rich from his or her “ministry.”
Don’t listen to anyone who twists God’s Word or approves of those who do.
Don’t listen to anyone who values the world’s approval more than service to God.
Don’t listen to anyone who talks more about themselves than the Lord Jesus Christ.
Don’t listen to anyone who “casts a vision” that you’re required to follow.
Don’t listen to anyone who claims to have the ability to “speak things into existence.”
Don’t listen to anyone who claims to have discovered a “secret” from God.
Don’t listen to anyone who preaches a whole sermon based on half of a (KJV) verse.
Don’t listen to anyone who preaches a sermon based on his or her new book.
Don’t listen to anyone who questions the Bible while pretending to value it.
Don’t listen to anyone who values adoration from the audience above service to God.
Don’t listen to anyone who refers to their own illegal activities as mere “mistakes.”
Don’t listen to anyone who preaches all Law and no Gospel.
Finally, don’t listen to anyone who thinks this list is too harsh and narrow-minded!

 

By Harry Ironside

Objection is often raised—even by some sound in the faith—regarding the exposure of error as being entirely negative and of no real edification. Of late, the hue and cry has been against any and all negative teaching. But the brethren who assume this attitude forget that a large part of the New Testament, both of the teaching of our blessed Lord Himself and the writings of the apostles, is made up of this very character of ministry—namely, showing the Satanic origin and, therefore, the unsettling results of the propagation of erroneous systems which Peter, in his second epistle, so definitely refers to as “damnable heresies.”

Our Lord prophesied, “Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” Within our own day, how many false prophets have risen; and oh, how many are the deceived! Paul predicted, “I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch” (Acts 20:29-31). My own observation is that these “grievous wolves,” alone and in packs, are not sparing even the most favored flocks. Undershepherds in these “perilous times” will do well to note the apostle’s warning:

Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. (vs. 28)

It is as important in these days as in Paul’s—in fact, it is increasingly important—to expose the many types of false teaching that, on every hand, abound more and more.

We are called upon to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3), while we hold the truth in love. The faith means the whole body of revealed truth, and to contend for all of God’s truth necessitates some negative teaching. The choice is not left with us. Jude said he preferred a different, a pleasanter them:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 3, 4).

Paul likewise admonishes us to “have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ephesians 5:11).

This does not imply harsh treatment of those entrapped by error—quite the opposite. If it be objected that exposure to error necessitates unkind reflection upon others who do not see as we do, our answer is: it has always been the duty of every loyal servant of Christ to warn against any teaching that would make Him less precious or cast reflection upon His finished redemptive work and the all-sufficiency of His present service as our great High Priest and Advocate.

Every system of teaching can be judged by what it sets forth as to these fundamental truths of the faith. “What think ye of Christ?” is still the true test of every creed. The Christ of the Bible is certainly not the Christ of any false “-ism.” Each of the cults has its hideous caricature of our lovely Lord.

Let us who have been redeemed at the cost of His precious blood be “good soldiers of Jesus Christ.” As the battle against the forces of evil waxes ever more hot, we have need for God-given valour.

There is constant temptation to compromise. “Let us go forth therefore unto Him without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). It is always right to stand firmly for what God has revealed concerning His blessed Son’s person and work. The “father of lies” deals in half-truths and specializes in most subtle fallacies concerning the Lord Jesus, our sole and sufficient Savior.

Error is like leaven of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Galatians 5:9). Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.

Exposing error is most unpopular work. But from every true standpoint it is worthwhile work. To our Savior, it means that He receives from us, His blood-bought ones, the loyalty that is His due. To ourselves, if we consider “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt,” it ensures future reward, a thousand-fold. And to souls “caught in the snare of the fowler”how many of them God only knows-it may mean light and life, abundant and everlasting.

Christian Living for Women

image

The reality that the world does not revolve around us is something we supposedly “outgrow” in our youth. And many of us think we have outgrown it. Yet our behavior often testifies against us that it is something we never escape completely, though we may overcome many of the obvious aspects of it. In truth, the idol of self is one of our greatest adversaries in this life. We all have desires and that in and of itself is not bad. It’s when we place these things over the will of God that it becomes a problem. Many of us will claim we do not blatantly do this, but I would disagree. How many times do we neglect prayer because we are distracted? How often do we fail to thank God for the many gifts He gives in any given day? How many times do we shake our fist at…

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Spurgeon,

Few men love service. Man prefers to be his own master, to do as he pleases according to “his own sweet will” and, like the winds, to be under no control whatever. But he who spurns the counsel of God, despises His Law and tramples on His commands, commits an act of suicide to his own liberty! Those who act thus, while they seek to be free, become the truest slaves, for, when they give a loose rein to their lusts, they find them like wild horses dragging them irresistibly along. Passions indulged turn into habits—and those habits hold them fast in their iron grip and they cease to be free any longer. He is the freeman who serves God and not the man who scorns the yoke of Jesus. He is the freeman whose shoulders bear the yoke of Christ. But he who refuses to serve Him is a slave. He who will not obey Jesus, obeys a tyrant master called Satan, or worse still, himself, for, after all, the greatest tyrant to a man is his own sinful self! There is no slavery harder to endure than the despotism of evil habits when they have grown strong upon a man and fixed their chains upon his neck. The service of Jesus is perfect liberty—those who wear the collar of Jesus find it to be a royal badge which makes them far more honorable than would the Order of the Garter, or the Bath. There is nothing that can so exalt a man as to make him a servant of Jesus! And the man who bends his neck willingly to serve Him, manifests the greatest wisdom.

What is it to serve Jesus? The text says, “If anyone serve Me, him My Father will honor.” Well, we can serve Him in the faith that we hold, in the sufferings we endure and very much in the acts we perform.

First, we can serve Him in the faith that we hold. This is true service. I believe certain Doctrines of God because God says they are true—and the only authority I have for their truth is the Word of God. I receive such-and-such Doctrines, not because I can prove them to be compatible with reason—not because my judgment accepts them—but because God says they are true! Now this is one of the best services we can render to God—to submit ourselves to Him in our belief of what He has revealed and ask Him to fix His Truths in our hearts and make us obey them. There are some who have an idea that doctrinal belief is nothing, but I tell you again, one of the highest services we can render to God is to fully believe in the Doctrines of His Word. So far from doctrinal error being a thing of no moment, it is a great sin because the Word of God is plain—and he who does not, by searching, discover the Truth—sins against God in the proportion in which he errs from His Word. But he who manfully proclaims the whole Truth of God and he who heartily receives it, alike, obey God and perform one of the highest services that can be rendered to the Most High!

Secondly, we honor Him, also, when we suffer for His name’s sake. When, with patience, we bear the fires of persecution. When, with calmness and resignation, we listen to the lies and calumnies that fly abroad. When we continue in well-doing though all manner of evil is said against us on account of our devotion to Jesus, then we serve Him and God is thereby honored and glorified. Our Lord Jesus bids us, in that day, rejoice and leap for joy, for great is our reward in Heaven, for so persecuted they the Prophets who were before us. And, moreover, when our suffering does not spring from our enemies, but when God, Himself, lays us on the bed of affliction, we honor Him when, worn with pain and tossed from side to side, we are calm and patient under the sickness and say—

“Father, I wait Your daily will—
You shall divide my portion still.
Grant me on earth what seems to You best,
Till death and Heaven reveal the rest”

The patient bearing of poverty is a service to God. The calm endurance of pain is honoring the Father—submission to His will in all the proceedings of His Providence is the very essence of devotion.

Thirdly, we can serve God in the outward acts we perform. And that is the highest form of service. Indeed, if we do not serve God thus, we do not really serve Him at all. “If anyone serve Me, him My Father will honor,” says Christ. And, in proportion as a Christian man serves God in his outward life and conversation, shall he receive honor of God. There are two or three ways of doing that. Some may serve God by the performance of ecclesiastical duties, as they are called. Others, by the more private duties of religion. But others, and more frequently, by the acts of daily life. Those who preach the Gospel from love to God and for His Glory, serve Him, and shall be honored in their labor. The deacon who toils for the Church of God is serving Him, and shall be blessed in what he does. The Sunday school teacher serves God. And each of you who have been preaching in the open air, or have, in smaller places of worship, been testifying to the Truth of God and now have come here to take the rest which all tired soldiers need—each of you who have been engaged in humbler work, teaching a little class, or giving away a tract—you have each and all, in some measure, served God!

But if you have not served God in this way, today, you can serve God tomorrow in your shop, or in your family. The servant can honor God even when she sets the things out for the daily meal and when she clears them away. The nurse can serve God when, with tender hands, she binds up the wounds of the distressed and suffering. And the merchant, also, when he makes honesty the law of his dealings and afterwards, with a liberal hand, dispenses some of his goods to feed the poor. Do not think it is necessary to be a clergyman and wear a gown in order to serve God—you may serve Him behind the counter, at the plow, or driving your horses! Whatever your hand finds to do may be done to the Glory of God! Common actions reveal the essence of true piety. Those things which we call common, God does not think so. When they are done with a right motive and in a right spirit, they become as great, in God’s sight, as the sermons of the minister who preaches to the largest audience! And I take it that there will be people before the Throne of God, who, for acts which they have done in private, will be stationed nearer to the Savior than some of those who occupied very high positions in the Church! They went foremost in the day of battle and received great applause from men, yet, God knows that they were not one-half so faithful to their Savior as the poorest cottager, or the meanest peasant who, for the good of souls, and the Glory of God, bent his knees before the Lord in earnest and believing supplication.

– C.H. Spurgeon (1834-1892)
taken from: The Christian’s Service and Honor, Sermon No. 2651, Delivered at New Park Street Chapel, Southwark on a Lord’s Day Evening in the Autumn of 1857.

Posted on Stand Up for the Truth and written by Marsha West.

Bethel Church’s “Apostle” Bill Johnson: A Comedy of Errors, Part 1

 

Bill Johnson

Bill Johnson is no stranger to controversy. For one thing, he claims to be an apostle, as in the unique position held by the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ.  He was given this high honor by C. Peter Wagner who holds many titles himself, including president of Global Harvest Ministries, chancellor of Wagner Leadership Institute, convening apostle of the New Apostolic Roundtable, and my personal favorite: presiding apostle of International Coalition of Apostles (ICA).  So for the purpose of this article I’ll dub him Presiding Apostle Peter or PA Peter for short.   What’s important to know about him is that he’s sort of like the pope of the “new apostolic-prophetic movement.”

Following is ICA’s definition of modern day apostle:

An apostle is a Christian leader gifted, taught, commissioned, and sent by God with the authority to establish the foundational government of the church within an assigned sphere of ministry by hearing what the Spirit is saying to the churches and by setting things in order accordingly for the growth and maturity of the church.

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What role do the so-called apostles play? There are a couple of tasks, says PA Peter.  First, apostles are to “set things in order” and “they’re to assure that the body of Christ is operating on the basis of sound, biblical doctrine.”

Sound biblical doctrine my Aunt Fanny!

Finish HERE

Highly Recommended!

http://www.amazon.com/Back-Basics-Guide-Christian-Living/dp/1499552742/ref=sr_1_1_title_0_main?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1402420998&sr=1-1&keywords=joe+quatrone+jr

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