Have you ever wondered whether you are a backsliding Christian? As fallible human beings, we go through different seasons. Perhaps you look back to a time when you were ‘on fire’ for Jesus, had a zeal to share the gospel, and absolutely loved to worship. Are you in a different season now? Maybe daily life has become a bit monotonous and you just aren’t as committed to living for God as you were. But how do we get out of this rut, and how do we know if we have truly backslidden? Dr. Jeremy Pierre answers at SBTS.
“Repentance over time,” says Pierre. This is a clear sign that one is committed to Jesus. “It’s a return to God that’s displayed in a pattern of seeking. Notice I’m attaching this concept of time as a necessary aspect of growing confidence and awareness of my status.”
We all experience “worldly sorrow” and “godly sorrow,” explains Pierre.
Godly sorrow should be a vengeful turning against our sin. That is a Jesus-exalting way to respond to our sin.
“That godly sorrow can only be displayed over time. I have counseled many men in the midst of a deep and profound season of conviction. Some of them caught in really profound sin. The type of sin where you’re like ‘how can they be a Christian.'”
“They rightly ask the question ‘who am I? do I belong to God?'” explains Pierre.
“The way the Bible describes godly sorrow is that it requires ongoing activities of consistent repentance.”
“Let’s spend our efforts seeking the gospel of Jesus Christ and His understanding of what your sin is, and His solution to you coming out of that sin. Let’s spend our efforts pursuing Him and that will show itself in a pattern over time that will then result in an increasing assurance or awareness of whether I’m saved or not.”
It troubles me that many people who claim to be Christians live with limited, powerless, finite thinking. How is this even possible? I mean, how do people who claim to have the Creator of the Universe living inside of them, the mind of Christ thinking through them, and the Spirit of God influencing the world around them even have the nerve to think small? I’d propose that we believers don’t have permission to live with limited mindsets!
THE POWER OF THINKING BIGGER
I’ve talked about Elon Musk before on the blog but in case you missed it… one day Elon sat on the LA freeway in bumper-to-bumper traffic frustrated by “this enormous waste of time.” As he pondered his situation he began to dream of ways to solve the transportation dilemma that plagued Southern Californians seemingly forever. He began to envision a maze of hyperloop tunnels bore at various levels underneath the city of Los Angeles connecting people to their ultimate destination.
A few years later, through much red tape, near miraculous inventions and at the estimated cost of billions of dollars, Musk is now boring his first tunnels under his SpaceX parking lot. If successful, this will become a true super-highway that will literally put our cars on a roller skate and thrust us through the earth’s surface at 120 miles-per-hour! “Crazy”, you say! Well this is one of Musk’s more insignificant endeavors. Oh yeah! This guy wants to colonize Mars, (yes the planet Mars), making “humanity a multi-planetary species” by the year 2040!
“Daydreamer,” you say…well maybe but he has already invented and built the most powerful rocket ever created in the history of the world. And oh, by the way, the rocket is reusable! Elon Musk is rich but he doesn’t think big because he is rich; he got rich because he thinks big! Furthermore, Musk doesn’t believe in God, but he does believe in doing the impossible.
BORN-AGAIN BELIEVERS NEED TO WAKE UP!
I’m baffled by the fact that the greatest thinkers in the world, like Elon Musk, are often godless, humanist, self-centered, self-absorbed atheists! This is an open indictment against the Body of Christ. Consider the distinct advantages of born-again believers:
1. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit; consequently, the God who envisioned everything and spoke the world(s) into existence lives inside of us. (See 1 Corinthians 6:19)
2. We have access to the gift of wisdom, which is one of the nine supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit listed in the book of 1 Corinthians. Think of it like the wisdom of King Solomon on steroids. (See 1 Corinthians 12:8.)
3. This next one is otherworldly so I’m going to camp out here a little longer! Get this, we have the mind of Christ, which means we think like God; we are His divine think tank! (1 Corinthians 2:6-16)
The Apostle Paul points out in these verses that what was a mystery to God’s Old Testament people is actually revealed to us because we think like God! Read it for yourselves, “We have received the Spirit of God who knows the mind of God.” Therefore since the same Spirit lives in us who lived/lives in Jesus we actually think like God. Do you want to know what God is thinking; what are you thinking? When you are right with God you think His thoughts! The Old Testament prophet went on to ask, “WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD…?” The great apostle Paul replied, we do! “We have the mind of Christ!”
The mind of Christ is your X-factor, your secret weapon…But to activate your heavenly advantage you must lose the compliant, religious rule keeper, black and white mindset so you can journey out into the world of mystery, miracles, and divine mayhem. We have become predictable, boring, vanilla, uninspired people. Yet our Founder is a radical fore-thinking activist, who in three short years, altered the course of human history. Jesus transformed the way the world viewed God, money, nature, religion and kingdom life etc.
4. We are a “new creation” born again into the kingdom of God. The word “new” here means “prototype” – something never before created. (See 2 Corinthians 5:17.) We are the first creatures to live on earth and in heaven simultaneously. Our head isn’t stuck in the clouds; it’s positioned in heavenly places.
5. We are endowed with “the manifold wisdom of God” by which the Lord reveals the mysteries of the kingdom “through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.” The Greek word translated “manifold” here means multicolored or multidimensional. Jesus has granted us multidimensional wisdom…the ability to understand challenging situations from every conceivable perspective and from every imaginable realm. (See Ephesians 3:1-10)
6. We are seated in heavenly places with Christ, which actually gives us another profound advantage. Think about it like this; Jesus said to the Apostle John “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.” (See Revelation 4:1) In other words, our heavenly seat gives us insight into the future. There are so many ramifications to our raptured status that it makes my brain explode with possibility! Maybe it’s easier to illustrate by thinking of what it would be like if we lived in 1850 and we got invited to “Come up here” for a look at the world in 2017. In this exalted position we would see televisions, computers, cars and planes etc.…a world much different than our own current condition. What an amazing advantage this would give us as business people or inventors!
Or how about if we were invited to view the future of medicine from 1810. We would see polio, smallpox, tuberculosis, leprosy, (to name a just a few), that plagued our generation completely eradicated in the future! This is isn’t a pipe dream or science fiction, this is our reality…our advantage…our right of passage.
7. Friendship with God is another game changer for us. Jesus put it like this: “No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. (John 15:15) When we transition from slavery to friendship with God, (by keeping His commandments), we are suddenly introduced into a realm of revelation that only Jesus walked in. We have access to “all things” that were revealed to Jesus.
WE ARE NOT MERE MEN (OR WOMEN)
There are many other profound advantages that we, followers of Jesus, have over those who have yet to experience His transforming power. But it should suffice to say that the most creative, inventive, ingenious, imaginative, inspired, brilliant, resourceful, innovative, advanced ideas should be flowing from the sons and daughters of God! When the first century Corinthian church was struggling with jealousy and strife the apostle Paul rebuked them by reminding them that they were behaving like “mere men.” (See 1 Corinthians 3:3.) We are not just humans! We are alive in the Spirit, sons and daughters of the God of the universe, endowed with wisdom, commissioned with power, and given authority to make a profound difference in the world. It’s passed time that we rise to our high call in Christ Jesus and start thinking like royalty!
OWNING OUR INHERITANCE
So my challenge to you today is to wake up! Any difficulty that may come your way, take a minute to stop and remember the true advantages you have as a believer and then ACT LIKE IT. Some of you may even be wondering what your next step in life, in your career, in your business should be, and I want to encourage you to remember where you sit in this life—in heavenly places. I bless you with a revelation of the solutions, creativity and wisdom you inherently carry in Jesus name! How do you walk in these truths?
This article was written by Kris Vallotton and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.
If you have been around the Church for any length of time, you will almost certainly have heard the worship song ‘I Can Only Imagine.’ MercyMe’s hit track is the only Christian song to be certified Double Platinum by RIAA.
Pretty impressive, right? Well, it doesn’t stop there, as the song is about to become the basis of a Hollywood movie!
The makers of Mom’s Night Out and Woodlawn are turning singer Bart Millard’s life story into a compelling movie. Check out the trailer below!
Let’s cut the fluff and get real for a moment. Being a pastor is incredibly difficult.
The church is often guilty of only painting a picture of the wonderful blessings of being called to ministry—like it only gets better day after day.
We somehow forget to talk about the suffering involved. Did we forget, or are afraid people won’t go into ministry if they know the truth?
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there are some things we are failing to prepare new pastors for.
Here are some things I wish someone would have sat down and told 20-year-old me. I have spent the last decade learning these the hard way:
1. IT WILL BE THE HARDEST THING YOU EVER DO.
No seriously, it is really, really, really hard! Imagine the most difficult thing you have done and multiply it by a hundred. That may be close to how hard ministry is. If you want to be a pastor because it sounds fun or easy, do something else.
2. INTEGRITY AND A LOVE FOR CHRIST WILL NOT BE ENOUGH; YOU HAVE TO BE ABLE TO LEAD PEOPLE.
Your character and love for Christ are the requirements for entry. These are crucial and more important than anything. However, no matter how godly you are, if you cannot lead people, you will struggle.
3. PEOPLE WILL AVOID YOU, AND ACT WEIRD SIMPLY BECAUSE YOU ARE A PASTOR.
People will act one way when you are around, and another when you aren’t. Others will avoid you because you represent God, and they feel guilty. This is why many pastors dread the inevitable question when meeting someone new: “So, what do you do for a living?”
4. PEOPLE WILL EXPECT YOU TO BE AVAILABLE 24 HOURS A DAY, 7 DAYS A WEEK.
You will get midnight phone calls and texts. Some will be urgent; others can wait. You will have to set boundaries in your schedule because a pastor’s job is never finished.
5. WORKAHOLISM WILL BE REWARDED, BUT IT WILL DESTROY YOUR FAMILY.
Pastors who work too much get praises and raises… until their family falls apart. Then we pity them. You will have to choose often between doing ministry and being around for your family.
6. WHEN PEOPLE STOP ATTENDING YOUR CHURCH, IT WILL HURT.
No matter how awesome you are, some people will leave. It is inevitable. It may have nothing to do with you, but it always feels personal.
7. YOU WILL HAVE TO FIGHT THE URGE TO COMPARE YOUR MINISTRY TO OTHER CHURCHES.
You always lose in the comparison game. If you compare to a smaller church, you will feel pride. If you compare yourself to a larger church, you will feel envy. Both are sinful.
8. ATTACKS FROM INSIDE YOUR CHURCH WILL BE WORSE THAN FROM THE OUTSIDE.
You will expect some attack from the enemy outside of the church. It’s the enemy’s attacks from within, like Judas’ betrayal of Jesus, that hurt the most.
9. YOU WILL NOT BE DISCIPLED UNLESS YOU SEEK IT OUT YOURSELF.
The people who you want to mentor you are busy. Nobody has ever seen my “great young potential” and gone out of their way to disciple me. Every mentor I ever had in my life I had to pursue myself.
10. YOU WILL HAVE TO FIGHT PESSIMISM, BITTERNESS, AND EVEN DEPRESSION.
You will have seasons of doubt in God’s provision, resentment towards people in your church, and even depression. One of the darkest years of my life was the result of a bad ministry experience.
11. YOUR SUCCESS IN THE EYES OF OTHERS WILL BE MEASURED BY HOW MANY PEOPLE YOU CAN GET IN A ROOM.
I wish this weren’t true, but it is. If your ministry grows, people will praise you. If it shrinks, they will blame you. Like it or not, that’s how people think.
12. YOU WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH.
No matter what you do, some people won’t like you. You will never be good enough to please everyone. You will also often feel inadequate and unprepared in your own eyes. You have to let this drive you to a greater dependence on Jesus. You are not the savior everyone needs; he is.
13. YOUR FAMILY WILL BE PROFOUNDLY AFFECTED EITHER GOOD OR BAD.
Like it or not, your ministry will profoundly impact your family. Some families grow closer to the Lord together in ministry; others grow further apart. Ministry will either make your family better or bitter. Fight bitterness.
14. WITHOUT A SEMINARY DEGREE, YOU WILL BE CONSIDERED LESS QUALIFIED.
I wish I would have pursued seminary earlier in my ministry. Not just because of perception, but also because the education has been invaluable to me. You can argue about whether you need it or not, but you will be judged if you don’t. And not getting proper education might hold you back.
15. MONEY WILL BE A PROBLEM.
You will struggle financially—especially early on. Most pastors are not compensated enough. You have to be ready for this going in. Will you be OK if you can’t buy new clothes, a nice house, or get your wife and kids the things you wish you could?
16. YOU WILL LIKELY MOVE MANY TIMES.
The average stay of a pastor at a church varies depending on their role. However, most pastors I know, including myself, have lived in multiple cities working for multiple churches over their life. The pastor who works in only one church their entire life is admirable and rare.
17. WHEN YOU HAVE TO LEAVE A CHURCH, YOU WILL LEAVE MANY FRIENDS TOO.
Whether you choose to leave, or the choice is made for you, you will lose more than a job; you lose a church family. There is always a painful sense of loss when leaving a ministry. Your wife and kids will also feel it.
18. SPIRITUAL WARFARE IS REAL, AND THE ENEMY WILL ATTACK YOU AND YOUR FAMILY IN WAYS YOU NEVER IMAGINED.
Every pastor can tell you stories of crazy things that happen at the worst times. If Satan cannot derail you, he will go after your family. My family always gets attacked before God does something great. Pray often, and ask others to pray for your family too.
19. YOU WILL BE DISCOURAGED, AND THINK ABOUT QUITTING OFTEN.
Most pastors call these days Monday. Even if things go well on Sunday, the enemy will use that one negative comment to bring you down if he can.
20. IT WILL ALL BE WORTH IT!
There is nothing greater than the reward of a life submitted faithfully to Christ. You will suffer. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it. Accepting God’s call to ministry is one of the best decisions I have ever made.
You will have a front-row seat to see lives changed, marriages healed, and prodigal sons return. The impact you leave will outlive your life. Generations of families will change because you were faithful and did not give up.
If this article sounds too negative, there are also many reasons I am thankful that to be a pastor. If this article makes you upset, it should. Unfortunately, this is the reality most pastors face every day.
This article was written by Brandon Hilgemann and originally appeared at his blog. Find it here.
Christian apologist and author Nabeel Qureshi has died after a year-long battle with cancer. Nabeel was 34 years old and leaves behind his wife Michelle and young daughter Ayah. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 stomach cancer last year and has fought bravely through various treatments, documenting his journey via a series of vlogs. Pray for his family and friends as they grieve his loss.
“My beloved brother Nabeel, rest in peace and joy with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ,” tweeted David Wood, the man who led him from Islam to Christ. Nabeel was a traveling speaker with Christian apologetics organization Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM), and has authored a series of incredible books, including ‘Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus.’
A former Muslim, Qureshi went on to reach thousands upon thousands with the gospel. His legacy will be one of devotion to Christ, love for his family, and a passionate desire to see God’s Kingdom come. Now, we can be sure he is resting in the arms of Jesus Christ himself.
“Today, September 16, our dear brother in Christ Nabeel Qureshi went to be with the Lord following a year-long battle with cancer. We received this news with deep sadness and yet profound hope that he is finally and fully healed in the presence of his Savior,” RZIM wrote on its Facebook page.
“Please join the RZIM team in praying for Nabeel’s wife and daughter, as well as for his parents and extended family. We know this is Nabeel’s gain, but a tremendous loss for all those who loved him and were impacted by his life and testimony on earth.”
“May God bring comfort as we cling to our eternal hope in Jesus Christ.”
“Our God is a God of love, and that should be what keeps us driven,” Qureshi declared at the end of his final video post last Saturday. “Whether you’re talking to a Hindu, a Jew, a Muslim, a Christian, whoever you’re talking to, may it be out of love.”
Many of Qureshi’s colleagues and friends have tweeted tributes to this wonderful man. We will attach some of them below. Please keep Nabeel’s wife, daughter and extended family in your prayers at this incredibly difficult time.
Sadie Robertson has become a very influential voice amongst her generation. She has a passion to see people live authentic, sold-out lives for Jesus, and is always seeking to point her followers to Him. In a new blog post, Sadie encourages us to dream big, but to always make sure our plans are aligned with the life God would want us to live.
“Without a dream, you miss out on the adventure of trusting God and giving your faith a chance to work,” writes Sadie at her blog, Live Original. “I want to spend the rest of my life giving my faith a chance to work. I want to spend every day dreaming the biggest dreams I can think of and then praying about them and working toward them. I hope that’s true for you too.”
“So whatever you dream, make sure it lines up with the kind of life God wants us to live,” she continues. Sadie also reminds us of a key scripture to back this up:
And if we know that he hears us— whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. —1 John 5:14–15
“This scripture really assures us that God hears us and that we can have complete confidence in Him. But it tells us another thing too: our dreams need to be “according to his will.””
Jim Denison | Denison Forum on Truth and Culture | Monday, September 18, 2017
Carrie DeKlyen was diagnosed with brain cancer in April. Clinical trials and chemotherapy would have ended the life of her unborn child. So Carrie chose to give birth to her daughter, appropriately named Life Lynn. She died three days later at the age of thirty-seven.
A reporter asked Nick DeKlyen how he will explain his wife’s death to his daughter one day. The grieving father and husband answered, “I’ll tell her that mommy did this because she loves you and she is in Heaven and we’ll see her again—soon, soon.”
As long as Life Lynn lives, will she need to doubt her mother’s love?
You and I are in precisely the same position. Our Father sent his Son to die on our cross so we could live. He paid our debt and purchased our salvation. He has forgiven every sin we have confessed to him (1 John 1:9), removing our sin from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12), burying it in the depths of the deepest sea (Micah 7:19), and remembering it no more (Isaiah 43:25).
Here’s the problem: many of us don’t see our sin as God does.
In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis noted: “Only a bad person needs to repent: only a good person can repent perfectly.” Guilt is a tool Satan uses against good people. The more we acknowledge our sin and need for repentance, the guiltier we can be made to feel about it. Long after we have confessed our sin and been forgiven, we can still suffer from the residue of guilt.
The answer is to use our sin as a tool for our sanctification. When we confess our failure and receive God’s forgiveness, we can then consider the depth of our Father’s love for us. We can remember with gratitude the suffering his Son endured for our salvation. We can ask his Spirit to empower us so that we do not fall to such temptation again.
Charles Spurgeon noted that “three R’s” contain “the sum and substance” of God’s word. What are they? Ruin, redemption, and regeneration. After we confess our ruin and claim God’s redemption, we’re not finished until we move to regeneration.
Our spiritual broken bones can mend and become even stronger than before. The sins that separated us from our Father can become the bridge that draws us even closer to him.
And our scars can become our service to others. David could write Psalm 51, his powerful hymn of confession and restoration, only after his sin with Bathsheba and his pardon by God’s grace. Paul could lead sinners to Jesus only after he became the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). There is no more powerful witness to our skeptical culture than a guilt-ridden sinner freed by divine grace.
What guilt is plaguing your soul this morning? Will you claim God’s grace wherever you need it most? Will you share the gospel of grace with a hurting soul today?
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A film about the Apostle Paul is currently in production. It will feature actor James Faulkner (known for roles in Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey) as Paul and Jim Caviezel (who played Jesus in The Passion) as Luke.
There had previously been several films on the life of Paul and the Apostles, but this one looks to be an especially exceptional big screen experience.
RelevantMagazine.com reports that the film will be titled Paul, Apostle of Christ. It is being produced by Affirm Films. According to a studio executive, the film will focus on the months leading up to Paul’s execution:
“This gripping film dives deep into the final months before Paul’s execution under Nero as he reconciles his faith with his past persecution of the church.”
“Next to Jesus, no one played a more central role in the growth of the early church than the Apostle Paul,” added Affirm Films Executive Vice President Rich Peluso. “He wrote a vast swath of the New Testament and traveled more than 10,000 miles by foot to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This gripping film dives deep into the final months before Paul’s execution under Nero as he reconciles his faith with his past persecution of the church.”
Who told you that being a Christian is a boring life? Well, you might want to change the way you think about Christians after watching this.
Warning: This would give you a good laugh!
John Felts is a Christian comedian that delivers real and funny one of a kind perspectives on different Christian issues. Today, he’s going to talk about the struggles of every Christian during a group prayer and how to become the “cool” Christian guy with the tattoos.