Category Archives: Bible

How to keep from being grounded

HOW TO AVOID BEING GROUNDED 

 

 
 
 
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When our son entered high school, he carried with him the study habits that had served him well in junior high. They didn’t serve him well in high school. He learned a whole lot about studying his freshman year. His grades weren’t awful-they were just, you know, like below his potential. So the last part of the year, we resorted to, uh, martial law. We enforced three hours of study nightly and we allowed no calls…no going out until his homework was done. Now, turn the page to his second year in high school. I’d go into my study at night and I’d find him with these books and notebooks all spread out across my desk. Sometimes I’d tell him there was a phone call for him. And he’d answer, “Tell them I’ll call them back later. I’m not getting on the phone, Dad. Not his year; not till my homework’s done.” I didn’t have to discipline my son. He was disciplining himself.

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  • Sin
  • distractions
  • temptation

 

 
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The Iranian Protests and the Church

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The protests currently shaking Iran have enormous implications for U. S. foreign policy—and for the Church.

Iranian citizens are rising up against their oppressive Shiite government. They shout, “Death to the Dictator!” while enduring tear gas, water cannons, arrest—and death.

The demonstrations initially had to do with the sagging economy, high unemployment, and the increased cost of basic foods. As one protester quoted in the Washington Post said, “When we don’t have bread to eat, we are not afraid of anything.”

But these protests may have evolved into “an open rebellion against Iran’s Islamic leadership itself.”

The outcome of these protests of course will have enormous implications for the Middle East and for U. S. foreign policy. The Iranian government is a staunch ally of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad, supports Hezbollah, the Shiite terrorist group and arch-enemy of Israel, and is fomenting unrest (and that’s putting it mildly) throughout the Middle East.

And no doubt you’ve heard about the Iranian government’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

But there’s another reason Americans—and especially American Christian—should be following events there: the growth of Christianity in Iran.

In the online journal “The Stream,” my friend Michael Brown writes that Iranian converts, Christian leaders, and missiologists all tell him the same thing: “Iranian Muslims are converting to Christianity at an unprecedented pace.” Indeed, according to the Iranian Christian News Agency, Islamic clerics are alarmed at the growing number of Iranian youth who are abandoning Islam, converting to Christianity, and joining house churches. That despite the enormous risks of conversion in a country that openly suppresses the Christian faith.

The news comes as no surprise to Reza Safa, a Muslim convert to Christianity and the author of “The Coming Fall of Islam in Iran.” Safa, who now lives in the U.S., notes on his website that “Despite severe persecution by the Iranian government against underground churches, God’s Word is spreading like a wildfire all over Iran.”

That’s exciting news. And the protests against the regime raging across Iran may be a sign of hope for Christians, according to Iranian journalist and Christian convert Sohrab Amari. Amari told the Catholic News Agency that “the Iranians who are pouring into the streets have had it with an ideological regime that represses them.” Many are even chanting “nostalgic slogans” about pre-revolutionary Iran—a time when religious minorities like Christians, Jews, and Bahai’s could live well enough alongside their Islamic neighbors.

The outcome of the protests remains to be seen. Will they lead to more freedoms, or to even worse repressions?

And as the number of conversions continues to rise, will the government target churches even more fiercely, or will those who have tasted the freedom to become children of God through Jesus Christ act as leaven in Iranian society, inspiring more people to seek freedom from their authoritarian overlords?

We don’t have to look far back in history to see epoch-shaking movements of God’s people. As Chuck Colson documented masterfully in his book “Being the Body,” the fall of communism in Poland, in Romania, and throughout eastern Europe was fueled by Christian faith—and the human desire for freedom kindled by that faith.

At one time, those of us old enough to remember the Cold War couldn’t have imagined the demise of European communism. But it happened. The fall of an authoritarian Islamist regime should not be beyond our hopes and prayers.

So please, join me in prayer for our brethren in Iran—for safety, for wisdom, and for the conversion of many more to freedom in Jesus Christ.

 

The Iranian Protests and the Church: Bread, Freedom, and Faith

As events are unfolding in Iran, believers everywhere have the opportunity to intercede for Christians and new converts in that country. Read more about this critical news and its implications by clicking on the links in our Resources section.

Resources

What No One Is Telling You About Iran

  • Michael Brown | Townhall.com | January 2, 2018
Could Iranian protests bring religious freedom for Christians?

  • Michelle La Rosa | Catholic News Agency | December 29, 2017
Christianity is Rapidly Growing in Iran

  • CBN News | August 15, 2017
Being the Body: A New Call for the Church to Be Light in Darkness

  • Chuck Colson and Ellen Santilli Vaughn
  • Thomas Nelson
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  • 2004

BreakPoint This Week: Where Was God in 2017?

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“Where was God?” It’s a question that John and Ed believe Christians must be prepared to answer in the midst of natural and man-made disasters. Certainly in 2017 we saw God at work in and through his people, the Church, as they responded with love and relief efforts in the wake of the monster hurricanes in Texas, Louisiana, and Puerto Rico.

John and Ed also review the tumultuous political year, the fate of religious liberty as we know it before the Supreme Court, and what the declining fertility rate means for Western nations.

Resources

BreakPoint: 1.77 Kids Aren’t Enough

  • John Stonestreet
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  • BreakPoint
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  • December 18, 2017
BreakPoint: Dying Alone

  • Eric Metaxas 
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  • December 19, 2017

What God wants to do in you, and through you in the new year

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A 2018 Resolution that every Follower of Jesus should have says Cal Thomas

IT’S NEW YEAR RESOLUTION TIME.

 

         FOR THE SERIOUS FOLLOWER OF JESUS OF NAZARETH, LET’S RESOLVE TO PLACE LESS EMPHASIS ON THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD AND MORE ON THE KINGDOM AND KING NOT OF THIS WORLD?

         HERE’S A RESOLUTION ALL OF US SHOULD ATTEMPT TO KEEP: IN 2018, I WILL BECOME MORE OBEDIENT TO THE COMMANDS OF JESUS.

( Billy’s thoughts – The above is part of a radio commentary Cal Thomas did today. Read the whole column here or listen to the audio.)

Plan, prepare, and change in 2018

Listen to a commentary about the New Year.

BreakPoint: The True Beauty of Women “I Will Do It for You, Baby

 

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You won’t believe what one lingerie company is doing to show what makes a woman truly beautiful. I’ve got a great story for you. Get a hankie.

When it comes to lingerie companies, we’ve gotten used to some pretty graphic ads. You know the kind I mean: ones that feature impossibly perfect, airbrushed models wearing frilly and revealing underwear.

But the other day I came across the most amazing lingerie ad I’ve ever seen. No, I was not reading a Victoria’s Secret catalog. I was watching an online ad created by the Thailand branch of Wacoal, a Japan-based lingerie company. It was part of a three-part series called “Beauty Inside.” And it magnificently depicts the true value of women.

The first ad opens with a married couple sitting nervously in their doctor’s office, holding hands. “After trying so hard for many years, she finally got pregnant,” the husband says. But today they’re getting some bad news.

“I know it’s hard,” the doctor says sympathetically. “But please make a decision as soon as possible.”

The couple, clearly stunned, drive home, hold one another, and cry.

“On that day at the hospital,” the husband relates, “the doctor told us that she’s got cancer. She has only two choices. First, she might be cured if she took chemotherapy. But that may cause our child a disability. Or we might lose our baby. The alternative is to keep our child. But she might have to fight the cancer alone, without any remedy.”

The woman cries as her husband holds her. The next morning, she gets up and walks to the living room, where the baby’s crib is still sitting on its box. She runs her fingers along the crib and makes a decision: “I will do it for you, baby.”

The mother begins putting the crib together and plays with a stuffed animal, anticipating her child’s birth. Now she is back in the hospital, in labor. When her doctor holds up her healthy baby, she cries with joy. After cuddling and kissing her child, the mother hands him to her husband. She smiles at her little family as a nurse takes her down the hall and into the chemotherapy room.

These ads—which are both profoundly pro-women and pro-life—have become a global phenomenon. Millions of people have watched them online. Clearly they’ve hit a nerve—and I think I know why.

First, most lingerie ads focus on women’s bodies, suggesting that a woman’s appearance is the most important thing about her. But these ads challenge young women to value themselves in other ways: To celebrate strength and sacrifice, courage and compassion.

They’re teaching women something else, as well: that a worthwhile man will value them, not based on outer beauty, which is fleeting, but on inner beauty, which is based on character. And when life throws them a curve ball—such as cancer during a pregnancy—a strong man will help his wife through it.

Finally, I believe modern young women may be getting tired of being encouraged to take the easy way out when they run into a problem—such as a problem pregnancy. Women are, I think, moved by the idea that self-sacrifice is noble, and can be the source of great joy.

It’s hard to watch this ad without crying, especially when you find out it was based on a true story. Whether it meant to or not, the Wacoal company gives us a perfect illustration of 1 Corinthians 13:7: “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

I hope you’ll watch these ads, and share them with your friends, sisters, and daughters. Their positive messages will help cancel out the hundreds of negative ones that bombard young women every day.

And you just might consider buying the woman in your life some lingerie, not from Victoria’s Secret, but from the company that teaches that the value of women is in the nobility of their character.

 

(This commentary originally aired March 2, 2017.)

 

The Beauty of Women: I Will Do It for You, Baby

As Eric highlights, the true value of a woman is not found in appearance but in integrity of character. To see this demonstrated in the arts, watch the Wacoal “My Beautiful Woman” ad series. We’ve included the links below.

 

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Things You May Not Know About Christmas

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BreakPoint: It’s Not About the Manger Christmas and the Incarnation

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This is John Stonestreet. Merry Christmas! Today on BreakPoint, Chuck Colson shares his thoughts on the staggering implications of Jesus’s birth.

I hope you’re enjoying this holy Christmas Day in the company of your friends and family.  Today, Chuck Colson relates in a broadcast originally aired ten years ago how Christmas is a time to reflect on the babe in the manger and God’s wonderful love for us, but even more, it’s a time to reflect on the cosmic implications of the Incarnation of  God’s Son.

Chuck Colson: The manger scene inspires a sense of awe and comfort to the hearts of Christians everywhere. But we often forget the staggering implications of Christmas.

What image does the mention of Christmas typically conjure up? For most of us, it’s a babe lying in a manger while Mary and Joseph, angels, and assorted animals look on. Heartwarming picture, but Christmas is about far more than a Child’s birth—even the Savior’s birth. It’s about the Incarnation: God Himself, Creator of heaven and earth, invading planet Earth, becoming flesh and dwelling among us.

It’s a staggering thought. Think of it: The Word—that is, Logos in the Greek, which meant all  knowledge that could be known, the plan of creation—that is, ultimate reality, becomes mere man? And that He was not born of an earthly king and queen, but of a virgin of a backwater village named Nazareth? Certainly God delights in confounding worldly wisdom and human expectations.

Thirty years after His humble birth, Jesus increased the Jews’ befuddlement when He read from the prophet Isaiah in the synagogue at Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor…to proclaim release to the captives…to set free those who are downtrodden…” Jesus then turned the scroll back and announced, “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

In effect, the carpenter’s son had just announced He was the King.

So yes, the birth of Jesus is a glorious moment, and the manger scene brings comfort and joy and Christmas cheer. But it should also inspire a holy terror in us—that this baby is God incarnate, the King who came to set captives free, through His violent, bloody death on the cross as atonement for us, His unworthy subjects.

It’s through the Incarnation God sets His grand plan in motion. He invades planet Earth, establishing His reign through Christ’s earthly ministry. And then Christ leaves behind an occupying force, His Church, which is to carry on the work of redemption until His return and the kingdom’s final triumph.

Do we get this? I’m afraid most of us are so preoccupied and distracted by last-minute Christmas shopping and consumerism, we fail to see God’s cosmic plan of redemption in which we, as fallen creatures, are directly involved.

Well, the average Christian may not “get” this announcement, but those locked behind bars do. Whenever I preach in the prisons, and I read Christ’s inaugural sermon, Luke 4:18, and when I quote His promise of freedom for prisoners, they often raise their arms and cheer. The message of Jesus means freedom and victory for those who once had no hope. They’re not distracted by the encumbrance of wealth and comfort.

People in the developing world get it, too. Whenever I’ve shared this message with the poor and oppressed people overseas, I see eyes brightening. Stripped of all material blessings, exploited by earthly powers, they long for the bold new kingdom of Christ.

Today is Christmas. Go ahead, enjoy singing about and celebrating the birth of the Savior. Set up a manger scene in your home. But don’t forget this earth-shaking truth: The birth of the Baby in the manger was the thrilling signal that God had invaded the planet. And that gives us real reason to celebrate Christmas.

 

(This commentary originally aired December 25, 2007.)

 

 

It’s Not About the Manger: Christmas and the Incarnation

As this commentary from Chuck reminds us, Christmas is a time for joyful celebration. But it’s especially a time to remember God’s Incarnation. So get your family together and celebrate the Advent of Christ and His kingdom come to earth.

BreakPoint: The Enduring Power of “A Christmas Carol” Hope, Redemption, Story

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“Ebeneeeeezer!” Today on BreakPoint, I’m going to talk about Charles Dickens’ great classic work“A Christmas Carol.”

One hundred and seventy-four years ago, a British writer was horrified at the conditions under which children were made to labor in tin mines. He decided to write a pamphlet exposing these conditions. His intended title: “An Appeal to the People of England on Behalf of the Poor Man’s Child.”

Thank heavens the writer changed his mind. Instead of a pamphlet, he decided to write a novel making the same points. It’s filled with colorful characters—including an old man who goes about snarling “Bah, Humbug!”

Those two little words instantly reveal what book I’m talking about: “A Christmas Carol,” by the immortal Charles Dickens. The book has never been out of print—and it illustrates why telling a good story is often the best way to communicate our beliefs.

Why does “A Christmas Carol” still resonate today? For the answer, I went to my friend Gina Dalfonzo, editor of Dickensblog. She told me “A Christmas Carol “is a book that “has everything: great sorrow and great joy, corruption and redemption, poverty and pain, hope and love.” And “it expresses the deep belief that even the worst person can change for the better.”

“A Christmas Carol” is not merely a magnificent story, and its message is not confined to a “social gospel” teaching: Dickens points directly to Christ throughout. For example, Scrooge’s nephew, Fred, suggests that perhaps nothing about Christmas can be “apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin.”

And Tiny Tim expresses the hope that when people saw his lameness, “It might be pleasant to them to remember upon Christmas Day, who made lame beggars walk and blind men see.” This is, Gina points out, “a wonderful example of the biblical idea of God’s strength being made perfect in our weakness.”

Dickens’ classic shoots down the idea—prevalent in some Christian circles—that reading novels is a waste of time. They seem to forget that Jesus Himself was a master storyteller. For instance, He didn’t just say, “Come to the aid of those who need help.” Instead, He told a vivid story about a Samaritan who rescues a wounded man.

Chuck Colson once said that when it came to learning moral lessons, he was “much more impressed by profound works of fiction than by abstract theological discourses.” Scenes from some of the greatest stories ever told, he said, “have etched moral truths deeply into my soul. Their characters and lessons are so vivid I can’t forget them.”

And that is likely why so many of us will never forget the moral truths told through Ebenezer Scrooge, Fezziwig, Tiny Tim, and all the other memorable characters that populate Dickens’ great Victorian tale. It’s why we reject pamphlets that say, “Be nice to the needy” in favor of a good strong character bellowing, “Are there no prisons? [Are there no] workhouses?” Or the ghost of Scrooge’s partner, Jacob Marley, howling, “Mankind was my business!”

Dickens’ Christmas classic is more popular than ever. There’s a new film about how he came to write “A Christmas Carol,” called “The Man Who Invented Christmas.” And a writer named Samantha Silva has just published a novel titled “Mr. Dickens and His Carol.”

I do hope you’ll take time out to read, or re-read, the original, or read it aloud to your family. Who knows what great good may come of it?

And so I end this piece by saying—and you probably knew it was coming—“God bless us, everyone.”

 

The Enduring Power of “A Christmas Carol”: Hope, Redemption, Story

As Eric mentions, a good story has the power to bring moral truths alive for daily life, and Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” is a great example of that. Get the book for yourself or for a friend–it’s available at the online bookstore. And check out Gina Dalfonzo’s Dickensblog for more on the timeless works of this famous British author.