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Showing posts from December, 2017

Does Jeremiah 29:11 Apply to You?

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“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”These words are the John 3:16 of American cultural Christianity. Watch how often they show up on the Bible verse plaques sold in Bible Belt mall kiosks or posted on Facebook walls, even on tattoos. Whether as home decor or on social media posts, I see this passage claimed fervently by people I know haven’t been in a church service since the first Bush Administration.Naturally, this love for Jeremiah 29:11 has often led more theologically-oriented Christians to lament its out-of-context use. So much so that a young Christian recently asked me, “Does Jeremiah 29:11 apply to me, or not?”My answer: Kind of.Let me take that back. Yes, it does apply to you, but not in the way many “claim” the passage.Not a Prosperity Gospel PreacherMany understand the text to be about God’s favor on one’s life and plans. If I just have confidence and follow my heart, some…

Top 50 Stories on The Aquila Report for 2017: 41-50

In keeping with the journalistic tradition of looking back at the recent past, we present the top 50 stories of the year that were read on The Aquila Report site based on the number of hits. We will present the 50 stories in groups of 10 to run on five lists on consecutive days. Here are numbers 41-50.In 2017 The Aquila Report (TAR) posted over 3,000 stories. At the end of each year we feature the top 50 stories that were read. The top story this year received over 11,600 hits.TAR posts about 8 new stories each day, on a variety of subjects – all of which we trust are of interest to our readers. As a web magazine TAR is an aggregator of news and information that we believe will provide articles that will inform the church of current trends and movements within the church and culture.In keeping with the journalistic tradition of looking back at the recent past, we present the top 50 stories of the year that were read on The Aquila Report site based on the number of hits. We will presen…

Ten Prayers for the New Year

The great news is that God is the author of 2018. He knows each and every twist and turn that lay ahead both for you and for me. He has planned 2018 down to the minutest detail, all with the goal of his glory and our good. So when it comes to facing the new and unexpected, when the future seems frightening and uncertain, and when we come to a new and unfamiliar junction in the road of life, the best and greatest thing we can do is pray. Through Christ, we can come to the throne of grace with confidence, casting our cares and anxieties upon the Lord, and know that we will find grace and help in our time of need. God hears our prayers, he uses our prayers, and he desires that we come before him in prayer.As I prepare to turn the page and begin a new chapter in my life, I wonder, what will this new year hold? What new joys await me this next year? What challenges? What trials and heartaches? What new lessons? What dreams will come true and what new ones will be birthed?Perhaps your own h…

William Tyndale and Sola Scriptura

Translating “congregation” instead of “church,” “superior” instead of “priest,” and “repentance” instead of “penance” was to have potentially huge consequences on the Church’s doctrine. For example, penance implied an action performed by the sinner for the remission of his or her sins, but repentance could simply be an admission of guilt and turning of the heart. It would have dismantled many of the Church’s “remedies” for sin, such as confession to a priest, pilgrimages, and indulgences. Tyndale stood by his translation.William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament, first published in 1526, was met with sharp disapproval in England – not only because it was common knowledge that Scriptures should not be placed in the hands of the uneducated masses, but also because of the translation itself.Translating “congregation” instead of “church,” “superior” instead of “priest,” and “repentance” instead of “penance” was to have potentially huge consequences on the Church’s doctrin…

Suffering and One Foot In Front of the Other

“Walking with God through suffering means that, in general, you will not experience some kind of instant deliverance from your questions, your sorrow, your fears.  There can be, as we shall see, times in which you receive a surprising, inexplicable ‘peace that passes understanding.’  There will be days in which some new insight comes to you like a ray of light in a dark room.  There will certainly be progress – that is part of the metaphor of walking – but in general it will be slow and steady progress that comes only if you stick to the regular, daily activities of the walking itself.  ‘The path of the righteous is like the [earliest] morning sun, shining ever brighter till the light of full day’ (Prov. 4:18).”For those of you who know what it means to go through a very hard trial, you probably understand sayings like this: “One day at a time,” and “I’m just putting one foot in front of the other.”  Trials and suffering are the mud and muck of life that slow you down, trip you up, an…

Why We’re Glad Joshua Harris is Rethinking His Dating Advice

Stories of damaging consequences affecting many people who encountered IKDG served to highlight the book’s shortfalls, according to Harris who addressed his reevaluation during a recent Tedx event. (You can watch the entire talk below.) “My eyes have really been open,” shared Harris. “I didn’t leave room for the idea that dating could be a healthy way of learning what you’re looking for in a long-term relationship. That it could be a part of growing personally.”It’s been twenty years since Joshua Harris wrote I Kissed Dating Goodbye (IKDG), a book offering Christians a new approach to dating and romance. Namely, replacing dating with friendship-based courtship. The book exploded in popularity within Evangelicalism and rapidly climbed the bestseller lists. Harris was only 21 years old when he wrote IKDG. Now the author is rethinking his dating advice.Stories of damaging consequences affecting many people who encountered IKDG served to highlight the book’s shortfalls, according to Harri…

Church Planters Are Farmers, Not Rock Stars

But sometimes we are tempted to want more, aren’t we? In the United States, the pastor as celebrity is a real issue. Some people will only come to church if a particular pastor is preaching. Conferences are filled with speakers who draw a crowd. While not all famous preachers intend to perpetuate this culture, and conference designers often have good intentions, the fact remains that many aspiring pastors want to be just like these prominent figures. Imitating godly leaders is right and good, but often it’s not godliness that compels aspiring leaders; it’s the celebrity and fame they crave.Farmers are anything but rock stars. They get up early and work. They sow, plow, toil, and protect. In all of it, they beg God for rain.That’s a good description of ministry. Ministry is glorious, but it’s not glamorous. Like farming, most of our work goes unseen; it demands attention and endurance. And at the end of the day, we’re desperate for God to give the growth (1 Cor. 3:7).Often God does sen…

Will You Pray For Laborers in 2018?

Today, there is a shortage of good men to serve as pastors in Jesus’ church. Regularly, I field phone calls and emails from members of search committees asking for suggested candidates. Some congregations are discouraged because of the apparent lack of men who would fit their particular need and situation. The crisis is now. But a greater crisis is also looming, at least in the RPCNA.When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.’ Matthew 9:36-38 (ESV)Would you resolve  to pray afresh in 2018 that the Lord of the harvest would raise up laborers to go out into the harvest?I sense that in the denomination in which I serve, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, we have ceased to take Jesus’ call to prayer for laborers as s…

My Favorite Books of 2017

Michael Allen has contributed the third volume in the New Studies in Dogmatics series. It is a feast and my pick for book of the year. I won’t try to describe the book other than to say that Dr. Allen grounds holiness in the doctrine of God, Christology, and the covenant relationship between God and his people. Jesus saves his people not only from the condemnation of sin but from its power as well. This is a must read. You can listen to the Mortification of Spin interview with Dr. Allen HERE.Between Wittenberg and Geneva: Lutheran and Reformed Theology in Conversation by Robert Kolb and Carl Trueman
What an appropriate subject for the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. These two scholars help the reader understand the distinctives of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions. This book was a pure pleasure to read. Drs. Kolb and Trueman are at the top of their game. It is an irenic dialogue between two men who understand and are committed to their respective traditions.Martin …

Heidelcast 130: I Am That I Am (8)—Against Social Trinitarianism

Watch Where You Walk in 2018

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The Christian life is not a sprint. It is a journey of ten million steps.Day after day, and year after year, we put one foot in front of the other as we flee the wreckage of our sin and follow Jesus on the path of life. We step away from self-protection toward love, away from darkness toward light, away from foolishness toward wisdom. Step after step after step — ten million times.But unless we stop every so often, and take a careful look backward and forward, our feet will gradually drift from God’s paths and stumble onto others. Like a hiker who never checks his compass, we’ll set out in the right direction and end up miles off the mark. Slowly, subtly, and perhaps imperceptibly, we’ll exit the narrow and hard path that leads to life and merge onto the wide and easy way to destruction (Matthew 7:13–14).The new year is a time for course correction — a time for taking out the map, consulting the compass, and heeding Paul’s command to “look carefully . . . how you walk” (Ephesians 5:15…

A New Year, A New Bible Reading Plan

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Audio TranscriptHappy New Year! 2018 is here already, and I cannot believe it. Thanks for joining us for another year — our sixth year on the podcast. Pastor John, I cannot believe we have been doing this now for 230 weeks in row. And another new year is upon us. And that means Christians across the globe will be starting, or re-starting, their read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year plans. So, I want to ask: Can you make a case for the discipline? Name the plan you use. Explain why you like it. Explain the pace of reading. And maybe what you’ve learned after doing this for so many years.The Bible reading plan that I have used more than any other over the years, and that I used right up to the end of 2017, is the Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan. I just googled it to make sure that you could get it, and you can. You can go online and just google “The Discipleship Journal Bible Reading Plan.” Probably the top entry is going to be a free PDF. You can print it out and join me because I’m…

Would You Please Just Grow Up!?

Text: 1 Peter 2:1-3

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Who Do You Love?

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How to Think Like a Christian Should

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We rarely think about thinking. Many very smart people fail to see the assumptions hidden underneath their reasoning. How often do news articles assume that the only really reliable way of knowing truth is the scientific method?I happen to believe that method is highly valuable, and I’m sure I’ve got my own hidden assumptions. But if God says I can “know” some things that science can’t see—like the love of Christ—then science can’t be the only way to know. “I know whom I have believed” (2 Tim 1:12). If science can’t tell me the most important truth there is, that God is working through Christ to reconcile the world to himself, then science also can’t be the best way to know. “By faith we understand” (Heb 11:3).One of the biggest helps I’ve ever received to “take every thought captive”—and my favorite book of all time—is John Frame’s The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God (DKG).Here are just three major insights you could get out of DKG that might Christianize your own thinking:1. Knowin…

On New Year’s Eve 2017

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Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10 (NLT)For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Eph. 2:8-10 (NIV)Heavenly Father, it’s the last day of 2017, and our hearts are filled with many thoughts, multiple emotions, and real hope. What a complex, consternation-filled year it’s been, globally and personally. As in every previous year, there were big disappointments and wonderful providences. Both stir our longings for life ahead of us, in the new heaven and new earth. As much as we’d love to control a lot of things in 2018, the primary resolution we make today is to abandon ourselves more fully to Jesus—who is our “righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1 Cor. 1:30), “the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5), the Lord who is making “al…

Praying to see his grace as sufficient

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Here we are, once again preparing for the calendar to roll over to a new year. As I shared recently, this past year was good in many ways, but it was also extremely difficult, an experience I know is not unique.Every year, even our best years, have a mix of joy and sadness.Some years, the sadness wins more than joy.Others, joy comes out on top.And as we look ahead to the next year, some of us can only pray, “Lord, let this year be a little better than the last.”I’m tempted to pray that way sometimes. I have prayed that way, in fact. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that might not be the best attitude.At least, not for me.So instead, here’s what I’m praying for as we begin the new year: that God would help me to see that his grace is sufficient for me.Because it is. It always has been. And it always will be.When I am weak, when I am frail and feeble, when I am at my worst, all I have is grace. When I am strong, when I am confident and resilient, when I am at my best, a…

Paul Tripp E-Book Sale (Crossway)

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In this grab bag we have 5 e-books from Crossway which were written by Paul Tripp. The prices and sale dates that the publisher has provided are under each ebook cover.
$4.99
Dec 31-Jan 6

$4.99
Dec 31-Jan 6

$4.99
Dec 31-Jan 6

$4.99
Dec 31-Jan 6

$4.99
Dec 31-Jan 6
Click the following post title to view these deals with the purchase links: Paul Tripp E-Book Sale (Crossway)

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The Original Design for Health

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Author(s): Mark Shannan
Publisher: Destiny Image Publishers
Price: $0.99 (Ends Dec 31)
Discover the secrets to Living a Healthy, Happy, Active, and Long Life!In the beginning, God had a perfect plan. Humans were designed to live with abundant health…but we’ve strayed from that path. So where are we now?People are sick and tired of being sick and tired. Rates of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancer are skyrocketing. We are emotionally and spiritually depleted, overworked, out of shape, worn out, eating fake “foods”, and exposed to hormones, GMO’s and chemicals that didn’t even exist 100 years ago. Is there hope? What’s the solution?Dr. Mark believes you can return to The Original Design. Whether you’re exhausted, depressed, overweight, in pain, suffering from disease, or simply want to be fit and healthy, The Original Design for Health offers timeless principles and scientific facts that show you how to:Understand the four foundational pillars of health—Physical, Chemical,…

1 Minute a Day to a Healthier You

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Author(s): Robert DeMaria
Publisher: Destiny Image Publishers
Price: $0.99 (Ends Dec 31)
Daily gems to revolutionize your health!Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers. (3 John 2)Are you caught in a tug-of-war between pursuing a healthier lifestyle and settling for average? Did you know that you can build a better you by making a series of simple daily choices?In these 1-minute daily devotionals, Dr. Bob DeMaria offers bite-sized Scriptural insights on how to improve your health and transform your life in the comfort of your own home.This journey will equip you with priceless information, empower you to make necessary improvements, and enable you to be a good steward of the body God has given you. Click the following post title to view these deals with the purchase links: 1 Minute a Day to a Healthier You

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Prevailing Prayer

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Author(s): Dwight L. Moody
Publisher: GLH Publishing
Price: $0.99Where God has worked, the people have prayed. Hannah pleaded for a son and received Samuel. Elijah called on God and saw fire come down. Paul and Silas prayed and the prison shook.Why do some prayers move mountains and others, barely stones? In Prevailing Prayer, one of the greatest evangelists of all time explains the elements of biblical, powerful prayer. A treasure trove of stories and illustrations, it will renew your desire to pray and guide you in best practices.For those who wonder where the power is, who long to see new spiritual depths, who need reminding that God can change a life, Prevailing Prayer is inspiration to pray humbly and often—to seek by prayer to “move the Arm that moves the world.” Click the following post title to view these deals with the purchase links: Prevailing Prayer

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A Noble Masquerade (Hawthorne House Book #1)

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Author(s): Kristi Ann Hunter
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Price: FREE (Ends Jan 31)
Sparkling Regency Romance from a Captivating New VoiceLady Miranda Hawthorne acts every inch the lady, but inside she longs to be bold and carefree. Entering her fourth Season and approaching spinsterhood in the eyes of society, she pours her innermost feelings out not in a diary but in letters to her brother’s old school friend, a duke–with no intention of ever sending these private thoughts to a man she’s heard stories about but never met. Meanwhile, she also finds herself intrigued by Marlow, her brother’s new valet, and although she may wish to break free of the strictures that bind her, falling in love with a servant is more of a rebellion than she planned.When Marlow accidentally discovers and mails one of the letters to her unwitting confidant, Miranda is beyond mortified. And even more shocked when the duke returns her note with one of his own that initiates a courtship-by-mail. Insecurity …

Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart

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Author(s): J. D. Greear
Publisher: B&H Publishing
Price: $2.99 (Ends Jan 2)
“If there were a Guinness Book of World Records entry for ‘amount of times having prayed the sinner’s prayer,’ I’m pretty sure I’d be a top contender,” says pastor and author J. D. Greear. He struggled for many years to gain an assurance of salvation and eventually learned he was not alone. “Lack of assurance” is epidemic among evangelical Christians.In Stop Asking Jesus Into Your Heart, J. D. shows that faulty ways of present- ing the gospel are a leading source of the confusion. Our presentations may not be heretical, but they are sometimes misleading. The idea of “asking Jesus into your heart” or “giving your life to Jesus” often gives false assurance to those who are not saved—and keeps those who genuinely are saved from fully embracing that reality.Greear unpacks the doctrine of assurance, showing that salvation is a posture we take to the promise of God in Christ, a posture that begins at a certain poin…

Fatal Frost (Defenders of Justice Book #1)

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Author(s): Nancy Mehl
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Price: FREE (Ends Jan 31)
Mehl Ramps Up the Suspense in This Brand-New U.S. Marshals SeriesMercy Brennan followed in her father’s footsteps in a law enforcement career, but she has no interest in any other connection to him. A U.S. Marshal in St. Louis, Missouri, she’s assigned to a joint task force with the St. Louis PD that puts her back into contact with her father and in the sights of St. Louis’s most powerful gang.When the gang has reason to believe Mercy has possession of some highly sensitive and incriminating information, her boss assigns Mark St. Laurent–a Deputy U.S. Marshal and Mercy’s ex-boyfriend–to get her out of town until they can guarantee her safety.Initially unaware of the danger she’s in and uncomfortable working with Mark, Mercy’s frustration escalates when she discovers the extent her boss and Mark have been keeping her in the dark. It isn’t until a freak ice storm hits, stranding them at a remote location an…

The First and Second Resurrection

The sequence is identical to Rev. 20:4–6: the dead come alive, are raised, and are enthroned in heaven to share Christ’s reign. Yet Paul is not describing believers’ future bodily resurrection, ascension, and enthronement. Rather, he speaks of grace received in our past and in our present, when God’s Holy Spirit applies to us the work of Christ: “by grace you have been saved through faith” (2:8). Christians already share in Christ’s resurrection life and heavenly reign (Col. 3:1–4; Rom. 6:4), even as we await our Lord’s return, when our bodies, too, will be transformed by His resurrection life (Rom. 8:11; Phil. 3:10–11, 20–21).In a second perspective on the “thousand years” following the binding of Satan, John saw thrones and the judges who occupied them, the souls of those who had been beheaded for staying true to Jesus (Rev. 20:4–6). These souls “came to life” and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Their coming to life is “the first resurrection,” and it shows that “the secon…

N. T. Wright on Resurrection Justification

In the end, these seem to be separate verdicts, the congruence of which is maintained by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.  But this then poses the question of assurance in a fundamental way.  Wright deals with this in two ways.  First, he suggests that moral perfection is not required but that “the signs of the Spirit’s life must be present.” Second, he argues for a completely non-meritorious approach to justification. The notion that Christ obeyed the law and thus earned or merited salvation for believers is, Wright argues, a “legalism” alien to the New Testament.[Editor’s Note: This material is a portion of a paper, entitled “Raised for our Justification: Resurrection Justification in Historical and Theological Perspective,” that I presented at the 2010 Annual Meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society in Atlanta.  In light of the popularity of N. T. Wright’s work, I thought I would excerpt the section dealing with his proposal here. The notion of a resurrection justific…