The Fragrance of Suffering

Behind a Frowning Providence, He Hides a Smiling Face

“Ministers never write or preach so well, as when under the cross.”

– George Whitfield

I don’t know why, but I’ve always gravitated toward those who’ve endured suffering—far and above those whose lives are generally considered perfect.

Whenever I’m in the presence of anyone who’s been forever altered by a life of suffering, I am inexplicably drawn to them. They are beautiful and they possess a depth to their souls that causes them to stand out in the midst of everyone around them—a depth that only profound suffering can produce. Even more precious to me among those who’ve suffered, are those who understand that their suffering wasn’t for nothing, but was for a greater purpose.

In William Cowper’s hymn, God Moves in a Mysterious Way, he penned this verse:

“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.”

A fragrance of suffering permeates those who’ve experienced great pain, loss, and trials, and is far more attractive than that of those whose lives have been defined by happy, clappy superficiality (and this is especially true when it comes to those who occupy pulpits).

Continue reading here.

Reviving the Complacent Church

Among the suffocating tsunami of lukewarm, sugar-coated, self-help lectures, talks, and messages that ooze like festering leperous sores from countless vapid pulpits (which exist solely to entertain the goats and tickle their itching ears), every now and then a voice pierces that arrogant, self-aggrandizing world of Churchianity to deliver a hard, sobering sermon that the starving sheep are desperate to hear and be nourished on.

This is one of those sermons.

You can’t always trust “Christian Authors.”

Below is an excerpt from the opening of the article “10 Signs The Christian Authors You’re Following Are (Subtly) Teaching Unbiblical Ideas” by Natasha Crain.

I highly recommend you visit her blog and read the whole article.

My friend, Alisa Childers, recently wrote a review of the bestselling book, Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. It started a firestorm of online discussion about what makes someone a “Christian” author, what responsibility a self-identified Christian author has in promoting ideas consistent with biblical faith, and what harm there can be for Christians reading books that contain nonbiblical ideas.

I personally haven’t read the book, so I’m not going to comment on it specifically. But I will say I was extremely disappointed and saddened to see the kinds of comments supporters of the book wrote:

“It wasn’t meant to be a devotional.”

“She’s not teaching theology.”

“Our job is not to seek people out and hate them.”

“Stop competing! Just imagine what the non-Christians think about the McJudgies! We need to focus inward because the project within ourself is the most important work we will accomplish. Don’t use your blog to bring someone down.”

Unfortunately, such comments are representative of the lack of discernment common in the church today. If Alisa fairly characterized the claims of Hollis’s book, Hollis is promoting ideas that conflict with a biblical worldview. And when there is a concern that millions of women are consuming content from a Christian author that can lead them to embrace unbiblical ideas, we should be raising a warning flag and calling out for discernment in the body of Christ.

It’s not about being a “McJudgey.”

It’s about discerning biblical truth from non-truth…something the Bible consistently tells us to do.

Continue reading here.

Sermon: Beyond Comparison.

I am pleased to present a sermon by Matt McCullough entitled Beyond Comparison on a Christian’s temporary light affliction in comparison to the coming glory.

This was a truly timely message for me (from 2 Corinthians 4:16-18) and, I trust, for many of you as well.

The sermon is from Trinity Church in Nashville and is described as:

Paul says the problems we face now can’t compare to the eternal glory we’re promised in Christ. He says we get this truth when we focus not on what we can see but on what we can’t see. But how do we compare what we can see to what we can’t see?

Listen to the sermon, Beyond Comparison here.

Sermon: False teachers.

In this sermon, Pastor Mike Butler teaches from 2 Peter 2:1-3 covering the characteristics and conduct of false teachers, and ultimately, their condemnation.

Pastor Butler also pulls no punches when he calls out Redding, California’s Bethel Church and longtime celebrity leader/teacher/pastor John Piper. This kind of boldness in warning the sheep about specific hirelings is desperately needed in the church today.

You can download Pastor Butler’s sermon, entitled False Teachers, here.

(Part two of this message can be downloaded here.)

My post-election thoughts.

Trigger warning: some brutal honesty ahead.

 

img_1214TO THE OVERPAID CELEBRITY HACKS
Oh, the horror! The end of the world is coming. Hurry, pack up and leave the country (like you promised you would).

 

TO THE SOCIAL JUSTICE WARRIORS
See above.

 

TO THE TRUMP SUPPORTERS
img_1028He better be as good as he claims to be (and you say he is).

If he really wants to break from the establishment, a nice place for him to start would be 1). Restoring the lost concept of liberty in a nation that boasts it as its foundation. 2). Preserving the sanctity of life in the womb AND in unnecessary foreign wars by bringing an end to both of these profit-making vehicles of death.

(I won’t be holding my breath.)

 

TO THE RANK AND FILE HILLARY SUPPORTERS
img_1218Now that the election is over, please, stop the fear mongering. It got old with all the frightful “What evils Trump might do if elected” rhetoric all the while conveniently ignoring “What evil Hillary did do during her entire criminal career.”

And relax. Trump will not be nearly as bad as you painted him over your past year-long effort to make Hillary look better. My advice for next time, nominate a candidate whose platform has some legitimate accomplishments instead of propping up your entire campaign on, “My opponent said a mean thing.”

 

img_1200TO THE CHRISTIAN VOTERS
It was nice for some of you to finally wake up and declare that politics is utterly corrupt, and for even considering voting for a third party candidate instead of whatever RINO was paraded out for you to vote for.

Unfortunately, many of you only came to this conclusion after your “saviors” Carson and Cruz fell from contention. Only time will tell if you crawl back to your political idols like a dog returns to its vomit. For those who will never go back, welcome! It’s nice to have you.

 

CONCLUSION
For the second presidential election in a row I have chosen to vote for a candidate based on his stance on the issues, instead of voting for the lesser of two evils. And although my guy didn’t win (or even come close), I feel good about my vote (not dirty like so many other voters said they felt yesterday).

img_1212So, how do I feel today? I’m glad to finally see an end to the Clinton crime family, it’s unabated corruption, and its shameful scandals.

Jezebel and Ahab have fallen. Good riddance.

A lot to consider regarding our “little sins.”

The following article by Frank Powell gives us a lot to think about:

image9 Sins the Church Is Surprisingly OK With as Long as You Love Jesus

What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat?

I was in an engineering class the first time I watched the tragic explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger. Even though I wasn’t alive when it happened, I caught a glimpse of the horror thousands must have felt as the events unfolded.

And, the first question everyone wanted to know was, “What happened?”

After months of investigation, here’s what the Rogers Commission (the group commissioned to investigate the explosion) discovered: An o-ring seal in the right solid rocket booster failed at take-off. I won’t bore you with the details, but an o-ring is a small device relative to the size of a space shuttle. Very small.

It wasn’t something huge, like a puncture in the rocket booster or a hole in the cabin, that caused this disaster. It was a small, seemingly insignificant, o-ring failure.

I think there’s a lesson here for the church. What if the big sins, you know the ones you try hardest to avoid, aren’t the greatest threat to your joy and the church’s mission?

Maybe it’s the sins lying underneath, the ones considered normal or acceptable, the ones going undetected, that are affecting the church the most. I want to address nine of these sins.

Continue reading here.

The Visitor is available to download for free today.

imageWhat happens when someone travels into the past to deliver an urgent message about the future, but ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time?

Would those unintended recipients of the future warning be able to stop any of the atrocities of the 20th Century (including the assassination of President Kennedy)? Or, in spite of man’s ability to travel through time, would God’s sovereignty demand that the horrible events of history’s past can never be changed?

The Visitor, by J.L. Pattison, is a short story best described as part science fiction, part history, part time travel, and part mystery. With a tablespoon of politics, a pinch of dystopia, and a dash of conspiracy, this tale will take you on an entertaining ride with a climactic ending that will leave you in contemplation long after you’ve put it down.

Here’s what others are saying about The Visitor:

– “I appreciated the conflict between the sovereignty of God and time travel. I have often wondered what would happen if time travel were possible. This story reminded [me] of the rich man and Lazarus from the Gospel of Luke, especially Father Abraham’s words ‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.’ Or in this case, traveled back through time.”  Javier L. Taylor (5 Stars)

– “A new talent to watch. . . . If the Twilight Zone still existed, this short story would be an episode, it is that good. . . . Rod Serling himself would be proud.” PapaPhilly (5 Stars)

– “Possibly the best short story I have [ever] read!” Anne (5 Stars)

– “I guarantee you will be old before you forget this book.” Mark Escalera (5 Stars)

– “Very thought provoking.” Laura McGowen (4 Stars)

– “The author has crafted an excellent short story that captures your imagination and draws you in with its characters. . . . Well done.” Chris Hohnholz (5 Stars)

– “Reads like a suspenseful Twilight Zone episode . . . . If you are a fan of the Twilight Zone this book is for you.” John Cavallone (5 Stars)

– “There is an allusion to the tension between the sovereignty of God and the outworking of history in relation to time travel. I find that to be an interesting thought experiment. Finally, there’s a big nod given to Neil Postman and his vision of the American future given in Amusing Ourselves to Death . . . . The weaving of an interesting fictional narrative with theology, history, political commentary, media ecology, science fiction . . . in such a short space is impressive.” Heath Cross (5 Stars)

– “I love that it moved quickly and touched on so many interesting points and . . . had such an unpredictable ending.” Bernard Ruiz (5 Stars)

– “It was amazing and scary at the same time. The Vistor left me breathless.” Michelle Bledsoe (5 Stars)

– ” I found this to be a new concept for this genre and actually left me pondering what I would change if I could go back and warn others. Overall, a very thoughtful and entertaining read. The writing and pace was perfect . . . . I found this very enjoyable and thought provoking . . . .” Jenaca (5 Stars)

– “The plot is compelling – I imagine Rod Sterling could adapt it quite nicely for an episode of the Twilight Zone.” Jay Eldred (4 Stars)

– “The Visitor . . . [is] . . . a truism that big things come in small packages.” Chad (5 Stars)

– “Very well written in a manner that kept me riveted to the end.” Paul Bayne (5 Stars)

“This story left me with so many questions, and theories. Not about the plot or the characters, but about humans and their choice of not seeing what’s right in front of their eyes.” Laura (5 Stars)

“I really enjoyed this book! . . . I didn’t want the story to be over. It had great depth and character development for such a short story. There were several thought provoking themes woven into the story line that hung in my head for several days after reading [it]. . . . I look forward to reading more from this author.” Kayci (4 Stars)

___________________

If you’re ready to read a unique tale that is also family friendly, then download The Visitor today at Amazon.com.

Even if you don’t own a Kindle, you can still read The Visitor by downloading the free Kindle reading app to your tablet, phone or PC here

A napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to prove the deity of Christ.

image“Years ago I read the following simple but effective illustration from Greg Koukl on how to use a napkin, a pen, and a Bible verse to show a Jehovah’s Witness that Scripture teaches (even in their own translation) that Jesus must be God. Greg, who is the president of Stand to Reason and the author of one of my favorite books on reasoning with unbelievers, kindly granted permission to reprint the explanation below. I hope you find it helpful.”

Read the entire article here

One man’s journey away from contemporary Christian music.

imageHere is the opening excerpt from a recent article by Dan Cogan:

I have been what many would call a “worship leader” for close to two decades. When I first became involved in “worship ministry” in an Assemblies of God youth group we sang such songs as The Name of the Lord Is a Strong Tower, As the Deer, Lord I Lift Your Name on High, and others of the era of the 1980s and 90s. Ours was considered a stylistically progressive church since we used almost exclusively contemporary songs.

This meant that if I were to visit a “traditional” church, not only would I be unfamiliar with the hymns, I would also likely cringe when they sang them and in my heart ridicule them (the people rather than the songs) as being old-fashioned.

It was during these formative years in my experience as a worship leader that I began to introduce even more contemporary songs to our youth group. It was then that I discovered artists like Delirious, Darrel Evans, Matt Redman, and Vineyard Music with their songs Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble, Trading My Sorrows, Heart of Worship, and Hungry.

As a young musician who desired to honor Christ, I found these songs to be particularly compelling. I felt different when we sang them. The way Nirvana gave voice to the angst of Generation X, bands like Delirious were giving voice to a generation of young Christians who didn’t feel they could relate to the songs of their parents and grandparents.

Over the years when I would occasionally hear a hymn, the language was always strikingly foreign, with Ebenezers and bulwarks, diadems and fetters. Which only served to confirm my bias that hymns were simply out-of-date. They had served their purpose. They had run their course.

Continue reading the entire article here at DanCogan.com.

What’s coming.

“Maybe at the present the authorities smile on the church of God; but within a while it may frown, and the storm of persecution arise. There was a time when the churches had ‘rest throughout all Judea’ (Acts 9:31). It was a blessed time. But how long did it last? Alas! not long.”

– William Gurnall
1617 – 1679