The Daily Discovery (December 20, 2016)

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4 Times In Life You Should Expect To Face Temptation – “Temptation is a mysterious thing. There must be method to the madness, there must be patterns of how and when we are tempted by specific sins. If there are, I’ve never quite been able to hack or solve the system. But at the very least we can observe this: There are some times in life when you should be especially wary, when temptation is especially likely. Here are four times you should expect to face temptation.”

What Child Is This? – “Yesterday, in our incarnation series, I preached from Matthew 2:1-12Open in Logos Bible Software (if available). As we’re mindful of the importance and significance of the incarnation, we are overjoyed with the truth that God became a man in order to save men by God’s grace. W. Chatterton Dix, born June 14th 1837 in Bristol, wrote the following hymn…”

Keep Your Head Down – “I’m a Christian and a pastor who loves God’s word and loves God’s people. I want to see Christ’s name exalted. And as a result, I have a constant burden: watching the reputation of Christ suffer by the words and actions of the kind of false teachers Scripture warns about time and time again.”

Mud is Muddy: How To Annoy Unbelievers Less This Christmas – “Christmas is traditionally a time for family. And since no family tree can be completely homogenous Christians will be dining with unbelievers on Christmas Day. And sadly, some Christians I know are dreading that time.”

Christ’s Supremacy: Before the Manger – “What do you think about when you see a nativity scene? We might recognize the baby in the manger as God in flesh. But seeing Christ as a helpless and vulnerable infant can delude us into thinking that the humility of the incarnation was not isolated to His physical form—that somehow, His deity was also diminished.”

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The Daily Discovery (December 19, 2016)

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Hate What God Hates – “God is love. We love that God is love, that he is the never-ending source of love, that he is the one who always acts in loving ways. Even those who reject the Christian faith still like to imagine and believe in a God who is love.”

Last Second Books to Give Away This Christmas – “Over the past year, our bookstore — with suggestions by our pastors at Immanuel Bible Church — has featured a book of the month. The books have come from all different categories and with Christmas about a week away I thought you might find a list like this helpful. I’ve also included in this list books I have read over the past year, and books I have given away this year for ministry.”

5 Reasons to Read the Bible When You Feel Absolutely Nothing – “I sit down early in the morning, Bible in hand, super charged coffee by my side. The world is asleep. My kids are asleep. Heck, I’m still asleep. I sure could have used another 30 minutes. My eyes…so heavy…did someone attach barbells to them? Did I accidentally take a sedative this morning? I make/stumble my way through my daily reading. I try to jot a few notes, pray, get my heart oriented for the day. I finish, and I feel…nothing.”

About the King’s Business Regardless of Presidential Election Outcome – “I deliberately wrote this piece before the US national elections because I wanted to write down my thoughts before the outcome was known. Regardless of who is president, some very important truths need to be understood as we build our thinking on God’s Word.”

Is National Geographic Complicit in a Form of Child Abuse? – “What comes to mind when you hear the words National Geographic? Do you think of exotic pictures from the jungles of Africa or up-close documentation of an erupting volcano or the discovery of a stone-age, Amazon tribe previously lost to civilization? If so, brace yourself.”

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The Daily Discovery (December 15, 2016)

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Jesus Isn’t Threatened by Your Christmas Gifts – “Christmas is fast approaching and, not surprisingly, my kids are looking forward to seeing what’s under the tree. The girls, at least, are still young enough that they are waiting with bated breath to learn what treasures they’ll be receiving. I love this. I enjoy their anticipation and am excited to experience their joy as they unwrap what Aileen and I have bought for them. It promises to be a good morning.”

Will Santa Make you a Bad Parent? – “Whether or not you “play Santa” does not really bother me. In fact, I’m not even bothered if you do or don’t celebrate Christmas. Ultimately, we who love the Lord should make Christmas season a celebration of both advents above and beyond any other celebration. But if someone in my church really thinks Santa is God, perpetuates it as truth, and follows Santa, then my response would be the same as if I were talking to a Mormon — evangelism. Often the anti-Santa rhetoric bothers me personally, not because people do not play Santa, rather because most anti-Santa discussions over-simplify the issue. Let me start with saying, this is a freedom issue. If you disagree, and think it’s sin, then do not do it. Follow your conscience. But would we really church discipline someone over this issue?”

Sorrow, Depression, & the Holidays – “Depression and discouragement are not respecters of the holidays. For many reasons, the normal sorrow of life can reach a highpoint this time of year for some. It may be a reminder that we are without a loved one. It may be financial stress, or loss, in a time where the pressure is to purchase. It might be emotional pressure of getting together with broken family. We just may not have a clue why we are discouraged, which can be discouraging itself. We can, even unintentionally, place big demands on this time of year to deliver and fulfill us in impossible ways, apart from God.”

It’s Not a War on Christmas – It’s a War on the Constitution – “One of the most bizarre traditions of the holiday season for me is to watch those who assail the purpose and meaning of Christmas become apoplectic when someone weary of their politically correct antics refers to the behavior as a ‘war on Christmas.’ It seems to me that if you don’t want to be accused of warring against Christmas, you should stop attacking people’s public celebration of it.  Stop attempting to deprive the community you live in of its collective expression of the significance of the holiday just because you don’t share their convictions.  When you do that kind of thing, don’t be surprised when people point out your petulant childishness.”

The Bible Expositor’s Handbook – “The Bible Expositor’s Handbook of the Old Testament provides a thorough introduction to the attitudes and practices required to deeply understand the message of the Old Testament. Exhorting students of Scripture to approach the Old Testament with an attitude of humility and expectation, Greg Harris lays the groundwork for a Christ-centered interpretation that takes into account the redemptive story of the whole Bible. Employing a literal-grammatical hermeneutic, Harris leads the reader through the process of observing, interpreting, and applying the Old Testament.”

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The Daily Discovery (December 14, 2016)

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Christmas Carols and the Gospel – “It’s that time of year. Turn on the radio, take a trip to the mall, or simply stroll down the aisles of the local grocery store, and you’re likely to hear songs about Jesus’ birth playing in the background. We call them ‘Christmas carols,’ but they are really Christian hymns celebrating the incarnation of our Lord and Savior. For a few weeks each December, these profound songs of worship become a ubiquitous part of the holiday atmosphere. Our society’s pervasive interest in them provides us with a unique opportunity to share the gospel. It is the perfect time to explain the meaning of these songs to those who don’t know Christ.”

What Every Christian Should Give their Pastor for Christmas – “Obviously the best and most helpful thing that you can do for your pastor is to pray for him, but in a more ‘earthly’ sense, what should you give him, especially with Christmas being right around the corner? Know it or not, your pastor is constantly learning, and when you help him learn MORE in LESS time with this resource, you will be giving the gift of knowledge…which will in-turn help him in his ministry!”

Jesus Will Save His People – “Yesterday I preached from Matthew 1:18-25 in our celebration of the incarnation. As we reflect on the hustle and bustle of our schedules during the Christmas season, it’s essential to recall the purpose of Jesus’ birth. The birth of Christ matters and without the incarnation, we would all be doomed.”

Priorities: Putting Jesus in his place at Christmastime – “In 2010 Argentine soccer legend, Diego Maradona, graced South Africa with his presence as the coach of their formidable World Cup squad. The advance team prepared every hotel room to Maradona’s specifications. The flurry of activity in anticipation of his arrival included making sure all the rooms that the team would occupy were painted pristine white and were equipped with six Play Station video game consuls, and—I’m not making this up—an imported, electronic toilet known as the E-bidet, complete with a heated seat, front and rear water sprayers, and an air dryer.”

Christmas: Another Proof for Premillennial Eschatology – “The manifold proofs for a premillennial understanding of biblical eschatology are extensive. Great books over the last 50 or so years have been written to show that the Bible does indeed teach a pre-tribulational, premillennial eschatology. To deny this truth is to have a presupposition already in place for which you refuse to give up (e.g., ‘I believe in reformed theology, therefore I am Amillennial in my eschatology’). With that said, I believe the Christmas story is yet another proof (yes, proof!) of a premillennial understanding of biblical eschatology.”

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The Daily Discovery (December 13, 2016)

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When God Goes Big And I Go Small – “The Bible often speaks in broad words, in great sweeping statements. We often observe so little nuance in its words, so few exceptions to its commands. As we read the Bible we come across statements like these…”

Fools and Wise Men – “Do you remember what it was like as a child to know your grandparents were coming for Christmas? If you were young enough, you probably didn’t have a strong concept of time—you simply knew they could arrive at any moment. That anticipation filled the day with excitement, as you eagerly kept watch for their arrival.”

Responding to the False Teaching of Bethel Church, Jesus Culture, and Todd White – “Last week, I published a series of videos through WWUTT about false teachers at Bethel Church and Jesus Culture, including Bill Johnson and Todd White. This began with a video that Todd White posted on Facebook preaching a false man-centered gospel. I followed that up with a video on Bethel Church and Todd White. The last of the trilogy was a video addressing Bethel Church and Jesus Culture’s use of “glory clouds” during their worship services. How do I know these men are cons? Because the Bible says so. The following are some of the comments we got about those videos. The comments are in bold and my response follows.

Christmas is a Time for Peace – “It was Christmastime at London’s Garrick Club, and British writer and producer Frederick Lonsdale was asked by actor Seymour Hicks to reconcile with a fellow member. The two had fought in the past and never restored their friendship. ‘You must,’ Hicks said to Lonsdale. ‘It is very unkind to be unfriendly at such a time. Go over now and wish him a Merry Christmas.’  So, Lonsdale crossed the room and spoke to his enemy. ‘I wish you a Merry Christmas,’ he said, ‘but only one.’ That is not reconciliation.”

NCAA and the Gender Bender Agenda – “This past weekend I was sitting in my living room watching a football game that I wasn’t interested in because there wasn’t a baseball game on, a marathon (or any foot race) to watch, or a better football game to choose from. While sitting there, a commercial came on that grabbed my attention and elevated my pulse far more than the boring football game. The commercial was in form of a short video by the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association). The advertisement contains an agenda that transcends collegiate sports. Near the end of the advertisement, two female athletes make the following statement, “Genders don’t play sports, athletes do.” As the commercial ends, a statement appears on the screen: Creating equal opportunities for college athletes.”

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The Daily Discovery (December 7, 2016)

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“The Shack” and What It Says about Evangelicalism – “In 2008, William Paul Young wrote a book titled The Shack that was instantly a best-seller. It ascended to the top of the best-selling lists (including the New York Times and Amazon), and like many successful books often do, it has now morphed into a movie. The book originally written as a Christmas gift for a family has sold over 20-million copies and become one of the top 70 books in the history of printed books.”

The Disciple-Making Parent – “A core component of my regular reading diet is books on parenting. As long as I am a parent, and especially a parent of tweens and teens (parenting babies and toddlers is straightforward by comparison!), I want to stay sharp, to be challenged, to be equipped. A good book helps me better understand the purpose of parenting and helps me better fulfill my God-given duties. Chap Bettis’s The Disciple-Making Parent is a good book, exactly the kind that challenged me and, I trust, better equipped me as a dad. It offers what, to my knowledge, is a unique angle in a crowded genre: Its focus on discipleship as the heart of parenting. ‘The foundational parenting text is not Ephesians 6:1-4 or Deuteronomy 6:4-9, as important as they are. Rather it is Matthew 28:18-20.’ This is a book about raising children to be disciples of Christ for ‘God’s desire for your family is to be a Trinity-displaying, God-glorifying, disciple-making unit.'”

Are You Ready for Persecution? – “I have never been persecuted. Not really. Sure I’ve been called names, but my bank account and my health have not been affected in any way for being a Christian. I recently did an informal (and most definitely unscientific) survey, asking people who they thought was the most mature Christian. Although I got many different answers, there was a trend. Most people pointed to someone who had suffered severe trials or even died for their faith.”

Learning from The Forgotten Spurgeon – “Of the books I had the opportunity to read this year, Iain Murray’s The Forgotten Spurgeon stands out among them. Every time I read a book by Murray, I am greatly edified, and this time was no exception. At this point, it was the book I gained the most from reading in 2016. So, in this post I’d like to share some of the primary lessons I learned from it.”

God’s Purpose for His People – “Yesterday I had the privilege of preaching Ephesians 3:7-13Open in Logos Bible Software (if available). The text serves as the second half of a lengthy thirteen verse section where Paul is unveiling the mystery of God’s saving plan to save both Jew and Gentile in Christ. In doing so, Paul likewise unveils the purpose of his ministry and the distinct purpose of the church of Jesus Christ. As we read and consider these truths, we must never forget that God has a purpose for us and that purpose is not disconnected from the church.”

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The Daily Discovery (December 5, 2016)

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His Winnowing Fork Is in His Hand – “The Christian celebration of Christmas brings essential truths into clearer view. The central fact of the incarnation of the Son of God looms before us as the dividing line of all human history and the fulfillment of God’s promises. Priests and prophets and kings had long awaited the coming of the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. At Christmas we declare what the angelic host announced to shepherds on a Bethlehem night: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased.’ [Luke 2:14].”

Sweet Promises of Blessing, Terrible Threats of Judgment – “Last week I told you why I believe the fifth commandment—honor your father and mother—is The Commandment We Forgot. The response was overwhelming and proves to me what I suspected—many people have serious questions and concerns about this commandment. We are comfortable with its implications for children, but perplexed when it comes to the implications for adults. How do we, as adults, show honor to our parents? What are our continuing obligations? What about parents who are difficult, absent, abusive, or even dead? What are the limitations on this commandment? These are great questions and as we go we will attempt to come to satisfying conclusions.”

Orthorexia and Christmas Liberty – “’Tis the season to be controversial. Regrettably, Christians can be vulnerable to a form of orthorexia when it comes to celebrating or conscientiously objecting to the celebration of Christmastime. Let’s first take a step back. Orthorexia is when people try to eat so perfectly that they end up obsessing about their health to the detriment of their health.”

Taking Back Christianese #6: “All Sins Are Equal in God’s Sight” – “For advocates of Reformed theology, we are keen to emphasize the seriousness of sin.  Sin is a big deal.  Each and every one of them. Indeed, this is precisely why we all desperately need a Savior. As true as this is, however, our enthusiasm for maintaining the seriousness of sin (which is good) can lead us to make additional statements which may not be so true (depending on how they are understood).  One of these statements, and the next installment in our ‘Taking Back Christianese’ series,  is, ‘All sins are equal in God’s sight.'”

Please, Stop the Mad-Ness – “I feel a bit compelled this week to write about a problem that has been building for years, and which last week it reached perhaps its high point so far: the ludicrous online outrage over the featured couple from the HGTV show Fixer Upper, Chip and Joanna Gaines. This compulsion, however, isn’t because some random person happened to publish a guilt-by-association hit-piece on a couple for probably believing what their pastor believes about same-sex marriage. Nor is it because it’s one of the only current shows I actually know anything about.”

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The Daily Discovery (December 2, 2016)

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Hillsong & Man – “The heart of the human problem is the human heart. Therapy can’t change it. Self-help gurus can’t fix it. Positive confession can’t conceal it. And self-esteem can’t convert it. Sinners cannot be persuaded into the kingdom of God. Salvation is not achieved through mental assent or emotional responses. Unless God regenerates the heart (Ezekiel 36:25–27; John 3:3) it remains dead in sin (Ephesians 2:1), deceitfully wicked (Jeremiah 17:9), hostile to Him (Romans 8:7), and worthy of condemnation (Ephesians 2:3). That’s not a matter of opinion—it’s God’s own diagnosis of the unregenerate heart. And the only cure is His redeeming and transforming work. Everything else is woefully insufficient.”

Is It Sinful to Use Profanity? – “What differentiates one word from another – making one word a profane word while another is considered normative? Why is one “four letter word” different from another one? It’s not always based on the precise definition of a word. Instead, it’s based on how that word has been used in the culture.”

The Commandment We Forgot – “It is a commandment of God. It is a commandment with promise, with divine blessings attached to it. It is a commandment positioned in a place of special honor and significance. It is a commandment pertaining to the whole life of every human being. It is a commandment with application to the home, church, and workplace, a commandment that provides a stable foundation to all of society. Yet it is a commandment that is sorely neglected today. It may not be overstating the case to call it the commandment we forgot. It is the fifth of God’s ten great commandments to humanity: Honor your father and mother.”

How God Used Facebook to Give Me a Second Chance – “Not too long ago I talked about the verses in Scripture that God used to get me to start sharing the Gospel. I was reading through the entire Bible at a Bible school in central Italy and I ran across a passage that changed my life. Ezekiel 3:17-21Open in Logos Bible Software (if available) proved to be some of the toughest and most convicting verses in all of Scripture for me. As I read those verses over and over again I thought of the people over the years who I had had the opportunity but failed to share the Gospel with.”

Nation Shocked, Horrified As Christians Hold Christian Position – (Satire) “Reports from around the nation Thursday indicate that millions of American citizens were still reeling from the revelation that a prominent Christian couple holds a historically Christian position. ‘We’re not saying people can’t be Christians,’ a Seattle woman said in a Facebook comment. ‘This is a free country, after all. But when Christians decide to actually have Christian beliefs about things—I’m sorry, that’s just too far.'”

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The Daily Discovery (November 30, 2016)

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Hillsong & God – “Truth matters, especially when it comes to worship. That ought to be obvious; you can’t properly praise the Lord if you don’t know who He is. Christ Himself was unequivocal on that point—He said true worshippers “must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24, emphasis added). However, much of modern worship music seems to aim at taming the one true God. Some popular “worship songs” are nothing more than artificial praise offered to a different god altogether. In his book Worship, John MacArthur describes the fallout of the biblical illiteracy that permeates the church today.”

That Forgotten Concept in Preaching: The Paragraph – “I recall some time ago listening to a conversation between two great preachers, Haddon Robinson and Warren Wiersbe (when Robinson was president of Denver Seminary he had a very helpful audio series on preaching). They were both funny, provocative, and pointed in their discussion of preaching, particularly “expository preaching.” These are two men who have studied and taught about preaching as much as anyone in the last 50 years.”

Was Jesus Married to Mary Magdalene? Revisiting a Stubborn Conspiracy Theory – “Then I was a kid, I always used to enjoy the “whack a mole” game at the local arcade (yes, we had to go to an “arcade” to play games).  You had be quick to win that game.  Each time you hit a mole, another would pop up, taking its place. Of course, that is what made the game both fun and frustrating at the same time.  No matter how hard you worked, it always seemed that the moles just wouldn’t go away.”

Stop Excommunicating Yourself from the Lord’s Supper – “The Lord’s Table is not only one of the most intimate and exhilarating times of worship for the local church, it’s also one of the most controversial. As we look back through church history, we see that John Rogers and other Puritans were burned at the stake for their view of the Lord’s Supper. Jonathan Edwards was fired because of his position on the Lord’s Supper that caused a rift in his church. Doctrine matters.”

To Brag on My Wife a Lot – “A few months back, I published about a goal-setting guide my wife Allison had developed – a system-plus-agenda downloadable. This weekend, she released a print version with a full-year agenda for 2017, and this thing is dope.

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The Daily Discovery (November 29, 2016)

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Hillsong & Worship – “At this point in the song—titled “Only Wanna Sing”—the music soars, the strobe lights fire up, and everyone on stage and in the crowd begins to dance with reckless abandon. The irony is hard to miss. That song—by the band Hillsong Young and Free—epitomizes many of the issues with much of Hillsong’s worship music: vague lyrical content, confused doctrinal perspectives, and an emphasis on style over substance.”

Why People Leave the Church – “The following is an exchange I had a few months back with a woman named Melissa via e-mail. These kinds of exchanges are fairly regular with a wide variety of people, but all making the same arguments. Receive my tone as even and caring. I want a person to love Christ and His church, which is why I share His word: so they will repent of their sins and through Christ be reconciled to God and to His people. A person will hear the gospel and be broken by it, or they will be crushed under it (Matthew 21:44). There’s an omission and edits for grammar.”

Hunting Blind: Christians and Online Dating – “Whether you are for or against the sport of hunting, I’m confident you’d agree that there are certain dangers attached to the activity, especially when there are other hunters afoot. And it’s safe to assume that the risk of those dangers would be increased when visibility is diminished. It is obviously safer (for the humans) to hunt in daylight than in the fog.”

I’m at My Wits’ End! – “We’ve all been there at one time or another. We’re out of options, we’re out of ideas, we’re out of patience, we don’t know what to say or what to do. We’re at our wits’ end. English is an endlessly fascinating language loaded with vivid idioms, phrases that have a meaning that cannot be easily deduced from its words. At our wits’ end is just one of them. Many of these idioms, like this one, originate in the Bible—the King James Bible in particular.”

Don’t Settle for the Gospel of Self-Fulfillment – “Elizabeth Gilbert traveled the world to find happiness, and then documented her journey of self-discovery in Eat, Pray, Love. Since her epiphany, she has divorced her husband and fallen in love with a woman. Glennon Doyle Melton, a popular blogger and speaker at women’s conferences, recently finalized her own divorce and announced that she has a new partner, ‘my person’—a soccer player named Abby Wambach.”

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