“How to End Poverty in Ten Tough Steps”

Too bad the poverty pimps / false teachers don’t follow these.  It would put a lot of them out of business.  Via via How to End Poverty in Ten Tough Steps – Justin Taylor.

  1. Establish and maintain the rule of law.
  2. Focus the jurisdiction of government on maintaining the rule of law, and limit its jurisdiction over the economy and the institutions of civil society.
  3. Implement a formal property system with consistent and accessible means for securing a clear title to property one owns.
  4. Encourage economic freedom: Allow people to trade goods and services unencumbered by tariffs, subsidies, price controls, undue regulation, and restrictive immigration policies.
  5. Encourage stable families and other important private institutions that mediate between the individual and the state.
  6. Encourage belief in the truth that the universe is purposeful and makes sense.
  7. Encourage the right cultural mores-orientation to the future and the belief that progress but not utopia is possible in this life; willingness to save and delay gratification; willingness to risk, to respect the rights and property of others, to be diligent, to be thrifty.
  8. Instill a proper understanding of the nature of wealth and poverty—that wealth is created, that free trade is win-win, that risk is essential to enterprise, that trade-offs are unavoidable, that the success of others need not come at your expense, and that you can pursue legitimate self-interest and the common good at the same time.
  9. Focus on your comparative advantage rather than protecting what used to be your competitive advantage.
  10. Work hard.

 

False teacher Rachel Held Evans on World Vision

As painful as the LGBTQX debate can be, there is one significant benefit: It shines a light on who the sheep and goats are in the church.  While we don’t have a perfect view of the invisible church (i.e., the body of those truly saved by Jesus), issues like this certainly make it more clear.  While people can be “saved and confused” on some topics, for “Christian” leaders to be this far off the mark is great evidence against them.

Rachel Held Evans has had a lot of squishy, creepy, anti-biblical teachings for years, but she really came out of the closet on this one.  In Who’s this child sponsorship about, anyway?, she initially harangued existing World Vision donors to stick with WV even though they had (temporarily) taken an anti-biblical view on marriage.  Their love of the world was clear to many donors, including me.  Evans insisted that it was all about the kids and that donors shouldn’t move their funds.  But she was celebratory about the change.

Then, two days later, she went into full “Oh, the humanity!” mode and noted how “betrayed” brand new pro-LGBTQX donors must feel.  Oddly, she never thought about how Bible-believing Christians might have felt betrayed by the initial change.

UPDATE:

My sources are confirming that, after pressure from evangelicals, World Vision has decided to reverse their decision on employing gay and lesbian people.

Yes, we pressured them.  I let them know that I would finish my current commitments and then shift my giving to organizations that didn’t mock the word of God.

I don’t know what to say. I really don’t.

For those of you who donated, thank you. That money will be put to good use, I assure you. But I am deeply, profoundly sorry that I inadvertently rallied these fundraising efforts in response to a decision that would ultimately be reversed.

Is Evans so naive to think that WV did that without LGBTQX pressure?  If they caved to them, why wouldn’t the cave again when faced with the loss of funds?

Though I sincerely hope everyone who sponsored a child or made a donation will continue to support World Vision, I can see how this effort would make you feel betrayed, as though it were launched under false pretense. And I’m so, so sorry for that. I’m as surprised by all this as you are, but I take full responsibility.

Full responsibility?  She’ll be giving them their money back?

Yes, betrayal is a good word to describe the initial change.

This whole situation has left me feeling frustrated, heartbroken, and lost. I don’t think I’ve ever been more angry at the Church, particularly the evangelical culture in which I was raised and with which I for so long identified. I confess I had not realized the true extent of the disdain evangelicals have for our LGBT people, nor had I expected World Vision to yield to that disdain by reversing its decision under pressure. Honestly, it feels like a betrayal from every side.

No, we are just still trusting the word of God.  And we love homosexuals too much to lie and tell them to stay in that lifestyle.  But Evans & Co. love the world and their popularity more than Jesus.

Something has to change. And I’m committed to being a part of that change. But not today.

Today, I don’t know what else to do but grieve with everyone else who feels like a religious refugee today. This sucks, and I’m so, so sorry.

I hope you take some comfort in the fact that perhaps, as a result of our petty warring, some kids were sponsored today.

So it was no big deal to change to the pro-gay view, but a huge deal to switch back two days later.  Got it.

We’ve sponsored WV children for 16 years. I will continue until they are out of the program but will move my donations elsewhere after that. The local organizations do great work (we’ve visited our Kenya child 5 times and have been really impressed with the field office) but the worldwide organization is obviously troubled.  I have plenty of other organizations I can give to.

World Vision has made a big mistake: By trying to please the LGBTQX lobby and not anticipating the reaction of Bible-believing Christians, they’ve alienated both sides. That’s to be expected when you try to please the world and take anti-biblical stances.

But the good news is that no one has to wonder if Rachel Held Evans and the like are to be trusted or not.  They have made it crystal-clear that they are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

No, I won’t be seeing Noah

I don’t see many movies, because most are horrible.  But I especially wouldn’t want to fund the God-haters who made the Noah film.  Not surprisingly, false teacher Jim “the Gospel is all about wealth redistribution” Wallis‘ blog thought it was swell and biblical: Noah:’ Deeply, Passionately Biblical.

That’s not what I heard from Christian reviewers.  Erick Erickson had a detailed analysis of what a joke the movie was.  If you must see it I hope you use it as a tool to tell people what the Bible really says.

 

Decision, decisions

Uber-apologist Wintery Knight linked to this last week so I thought I’d re-run it.

And here is a new video of this lesson!

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Decision Making and the Will of God is one of my all-time favorite lessons to teach.  This is such a crucial topic, because we make big and small decisions all the time and are constantly living with the consequences of past decisions.

Does God speak to you about specific decisions when you are reading the Bible, such as whether you should pay off your mortgage, whom you should marry, what job you should take, etc.?  I think this is about how you apply the Bible to decision making and not about whether God sends individual messages through his word.

For example, if you want to know whether paying off your mortgage is the right thing to do, you have a couple options:

1. Ask God for a supernatural sign for the answer, whether it is a yes or a no (a la Gideon).  My guess is that He won’t decide for you that way, but it is always his option.  One thing we know about God is that if He wants to tell you something directly He isn’t very subtle.  There are zero examples of him trying to tell someone something in the Bible and not getting through.

2. Use the wisdom model of decision making.  You don’t have access to God’s sovereign knowledge (Will I lose my job?  Will interest rates go up or down?  Etc.).  You do have unrestricted access to his moral will via the Bible. Example: Is it immoral to pay off your mortgage early?  No, unless that means you won’t have enough money to feed your kids.  After moral considerations, look to the wisdom angle.  Ask God for wisdom, as He promises to deliver.  But as with Solomon, He doesn’t promise to decide everything for you.  Read the Proverbs (and more).  Seek the counsel of others.  Consider the pros and cons.  That’s how to make wise decisions.  Finally, provided the options are moral and wise, consider your personal preferences.  We have tremendous freedom in Christ to do many things with our time and money.  Will paying off your mortgage make you happy?  If so, then do it.

Here’s a picture of what is looks like:

Decision making and the will of God

Really short version: Aside from direct and clear personal revelation from God, you don’t have access to his sovereign will when making decisions.  Therefore you must look at other factors.  If it isn’t moral, don’t do it.  If it is moral but not wise, don’t do it.  If it is moral and wise, then use your personal preferences.

Using this model you can end up with a wise and biblical decision, but you have avoided the traps of the “God told me to ____” routine.  People who run around saying that God told them this and that convey a super-spirituality that can leave less mature believers wondering if they really have a relationship with God (i.e., “God doesn’t tell me every little thing to do, so maybe I don’t really know him.”).

The “God told me ___” routine can also be outright blasphemy, as when “Christians” claim that God is moving in a new direction counter to what He revealed in the Bible.  The United Church of Christ “God is still speaking;” theme is a good example of that.  They didn’t believe what He said the first time around, so why trust them on allegedly new revelations?

Saturating yourself in the word is a key success factor in making good decisions. If we focus on worldly wisdom things go badly:

Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

But if we repent and do everything we can to see things from God’s point of view we will make better decisions.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Romans 12:2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

This model will help you make good decisions in all areas of life.  You can also use it to help friends, children, etc. make good decisions.  I even use it at work as a “faith flag” at times.  If people ask career advice, for example, I pull out this diagram and share it with them (i.e., “At the risk of getting all religious on you, here’s the method I use to make decisions like that.”)

Click here to download a set of PowerPoint slides to read or to use yourself to teach others.

P.S. A kid came into my wife’s elementary school library yesterday and asked if she had any books on how to make good choices.  She thought of the diagram above and laughed.  Let’s just say I refer to this model now and then.  She thinks I should write a children’s book on decision making.  I think she is kidding.

Hat tip to Greg Koukl of Stand to Reason for much of this, including the diagram.

False teacher is having the sads after World Vision reverses decision

False teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way but He sure is a bigot” Currie took a break from taking little girls to gay pride parades to complain about how a Christian organization agreed with the Bible.  Seriously. Via World Vision Slams Door; Ejects Gays And Lesbians #WorldVision.

It’s simple: World Vision caved to Christian bigotry today. Yesterday the relief aid agency announced they would no long discriminate against gays and lesbians in employment. After a firestorm of criticism – fostered by men such as Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention – they reversed their decision. It’s a tragedy.

Tragedy?  No, a tragedy would have been the short-term impact to the people WV helps because of their politically correct decision to ignore the Bible in the first place.

And they didn’t “eject” any gays and lesbians (unless a whole bunch got hired in the last 24 hours!).

Chuck used this as an opportunity to show the pathetic “ejector seats” ad of the apostate UCC (United Church of Christ, or Unitarians Counterfeiting Christ, or something like that).

Oddly enough, with false teachers like Chuck at the helm teaching the same things the the world does, the UCC is ejecting plenty of members of their own.

Over the top wolves say you don’t follow Jesus until you are pro-gay

False teacher Chuck “Jesus is not the only way but He sure is a bigot” Currie took a break from taking little girls to gay pride parades* to proclaim that no ministry ever really followed Jesus until it advocated for oxymoronic and anti-biblical “same-sex marriage.”  Note his title: World Vision Opens Doors; Follows Jesus:

Three cheers for World Vision! The Christian organization, which works to fight poverty, announced this week they would no longer prohibit open gays and lesbians from being employed. It is what we’d expect from followers of Jesus.

Of course, that’s the opposite of what you’d expect.**  What we would expect is that a perverted wolf like Currie would be such a transparent liar about the Gospel.

The lectionary reading this past Sunday was John 4:5-42. We find Jesus in this story doing the unexpected: talking with a Samaritan – and a woman at that. This broke all the social rules of the time but Jesus’ ministry broke down walls of exclusion in favor of inclusion. His was a ministry of reconciliation and justice.

So God’s prohibition against sex outside of a one man, one woman marriage is just a “social rule?”  Indeed.

World Vision president Richard Sterns told Christianity Today that the decision not to exclude gays and lesbians from the organization was “symbolic not of compromise but of [Christian] unity.”

WV’s pre-emptory capitulation was a sad day and a rejection of authentic Christianity.

The motto of the United Church of Christ is: “That they may all be one.”

We need one another in this troubled world. In fact, we cannot survive without one another.

That’s just gibberish.  Words like that to justify “same-sex marriage” and homosexual behavior would justify polygamy, polyamory, bestiality, pedophilia and more.

. . .

Let’s end the culture wars and live out the Gospel teachings.

Chuck obviously doesn’t know the real Gospel.

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* He only showed one picture.  Were the rest like this parade or this one?  How would you know until after you had destroyed the innocence of the children?

** The Bible couldn’t be more clear.  Bible-believing Christians and even two out of the three types of pro-gay people (religious or not) can see these truths:

  • 100% of the verses addressing homosexual behavior describe it as sin in the clearest and strongest possible terms.
  • 100% of the verses referring to God’s ideal for marriage involve one man and one woman.
  • 100% of the verses referencing parenting involve moms and dads with unique roles (or at least a set of male and female parents guiding the children).
  • 0% of 31,173 Bible verses refer to homosexual behavior in a positive or even benign way or even hint at the acceptability of homosexual unions of any kind.

The three general types of pro-gay theology people:

  1. “The Bible says homosexuality is wrong but it isn’t the word of God.” (Obviously non-Christians)
  2. “The Bible says it is wrong but God changed his mind and is only telling the theological Left.” (Only about 10 things wrong with that.)
  3. “The Bible is the word of God but you are just misunderstanding it” (Uh, no, not really.)

Disappointing: “God’s Not Dead” appears to have missed an opportunity

Spoiler alert: Skip this post if you don’t want to know too much about the God’s Not Dead movie

Note: I haven’t seen the movie and probably won’t, but this review seemed pretty thorough and came from a site that would presumably be predisposed to like a production like this.  Go ahead and see it if you like, but either way I encourage you to use it as a springboard to candidly discuss the points of the movie, the gaps and how we could be more effective in sharing the Good News.  My goal with skeptics isn’t to fully address every item in their Big Book O’ Atheist Sound Bites, but to give thorough, meaningful answers to a couple key questions to remove some barriers and then encourage them to read the word of God, which will do the real work.  

And remember that apologetic reasoning isn’t just important for addressing legitimate questions of non-believers as we seek to point them to the truths in the Bible, but also to strengthen the faith of believers.  So it is important to always use good arguments and to consider the counter-arguments.

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When I first heard of God’s Not Dead I thought it might be a good opportunity to present some key apologetic arguments in a movie.  Sounds like the effort may end up being counterproductive.  Apparently they used arguments that weren’t fleshed out very well and that atheists could easily refute.  If Christians new to apologetics try to use the arguments presented by the movie, they will probably fail with the atheists and may end up with less confidence themselves.  Yes, we have been given the truth, but if you love people you won’t send them off with a false sense of confidence and pretend that they can be white-hot apologists in one easy lesson.

There are multiple subplots in the movie which are all introduced in its first few minutes, but not developed immediately, and it seems to take a while before the details emerge allowing the viewer a chance to catch up. However, the main story is that Josh, a college freshman, is taking an Introduction to Philosophy class from an infamously atheistic professor, Dr. Radisson (played by Kevin Sorbo who is known for his role on the TV show Hercules, among other roles). The very first class, the professor stands up and gives a short discourse about the virtues and intellectual superiority of atheism. He then gives the class their first assignment. He passes out blank papers, and demands that each student write “God is dead” and sign their names in order to get a passing grade. Josh refuses, so the professor forces him to take an alternate assignment; Josh will be given time in the next three lectures to prove the existence of God. If the students in his class are convinced, he passes the assignment. If not, he fails the semester, and thus his chances at a prestigious law degree.

This “hostile atheist professor” is a pretty common scenario, though usually not in such a heavy-handed way.  I am a big believer in equipping kids to stay strong in their faith when they leave your house.  But you can’t give them superficial or partial arguments.

And you should never expect some sort of immediate and across the board conversion of a group of people even if you make sound arguments.  The Holy Spirit goes where He will. We can honor God by stating the truth about him regardless of whether He has made them spiritually alive and they accept the truth.

I don’t want to be too hard on the movie, because there is only so much you can cram into two hours.  But it sounds like they could have used better arguments and that they made the characters and scenarios a little too extreme.  I would have stuck with things like the cosmological, design and moral arguments.  These are very sound yet also accessible to the average person.  But I would not have missed the opportunity to work in the minimal facts* arguments.  Consider the benefits of that:

  • You would be talking directly about Jesus, not some generic god.
  • You would point to facts that the history professors on that very campus would agree with (e.g., Jesus really lived and died on a Roman cross, that Paul was a convert and wrote extensively about Jesus close to his death, etc.).
  • You would be bursting the myth that we have a blind faith.
  • You would be talking about the crucifixion and why it occurred, and the resurrection and what that meant.

And I definitely wouldn’t have missed an opportunity to highlight Romans 1, which would demonstrate that in the Christian worldview no amount of arguments will work on people who are suppressing the truth in unrighteousness and that God will judge them based on Christ’s standards, not their’s.

Romans 1:18–20 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.

Romans 2:15-16 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

We know why atheists hold their worldview, but all they have to explain our worldview is their beloved Darwinian evolution (however they are defining that this week). And if the manifestation of their theory is the cause of our trust in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, why are they so angry about the outcome?

Whether you see it or not, be sure to be prepared to address the topic when it comes up.  Point them to resources like Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent DesignDarwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design or Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels, or to my favorite apologetics blogger, the Wintery Knight.

You can remind people that Christianity is a faith based on real events in history.  We readily concede that if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then we are completely wrong about God (1 Corinthians 15).

But we have great reasons that He did rise from the dead, that He is fully God and fully man, that if we repent and believe in him we can be saved from our sins and have his righteousness imputed to us, that He is the only way to salvation, and more!  Point them to the word of God and trust him with the results.  And don’t be surprised if they dislike you even more after you share the truth in love.

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*Summary of the “minimal facts” approach: Nearly 100% of historical scholars from 1975 – present agree with the following statements:

  • Jesus really lived and was killed on a Roman cross.
  • Jesus’ disciples believed He appeared to them.
  • Jesus’ brother, James, went from being a pre-crucifixion skeptic to a post-crucifixion church leader.
  • The Apostle Paul believed Jesus appeared to him and he wrote most of the books attributed to him, including Romans, I & II Corinthians, Philemon and others. He converted from persecuting Christians to being the greatest evangelist ever, despite nearly constant challenges, persecution and ultimately dying for his faith.

75% of the same scholars agree that the tomb was empty.

None of the alternative theories can be true in light of these facts.  The physical resurrection of Jesus best accounts for these facts.