Friendly Reminder

Friendly Reminder:

You will, if you haven’t already, begin to read stories online about what’s happening in Houston, TX and the surrounding areas following hurricane Harvey. Some will be true and some will not be true. Don’t be found as one spreading gossip. Leave gossip for the ungodly. Put off the craving of your old man to report untruths and partial truths.

When you see someone post something on social media be sure to research the story. Look for collaborating sources. Consider the source. Have you ever heard of this news outlet before? Do they report other news? Some sources report things just for the fun of it to see how many people will pass the story along.

Follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, be struck with compassion for the suffering plight of humanity that is wide spread from the path of hurricane Harvey, but don’t be so eager to be the first of your friends to break the gossip filled story that makes you an unreliable source of truth when you want a voice to speak the gospel.

Just a friendly reminder…

p.s.
Eastside Baptist Church will take up a love offering over the next few weeks to address disaster relief needs.

When Hate Hates Hate

It didn’t take long to learn after returning from a remote weekend at Camp Perkins in central Idaho that hatred for others was the international headline from the Land of the Free, America. Many articulate articles, columns, interviews, and social media posts find me in agreement with many (Albert Mohler, Russell Moore, local radio, and a conversation with Renee).

I stand with Scripture that calls life a “very good” thing. God’s created order of all people everywhere is a right, holy, and beautiful reflection of the glory of God. It’s been said, and I agree, that the kind of behavior that was upon display in Virginia over the weekend is of a hellish kind. To treat another creation of God with such disrespect and hate is not godly and should be identified by all as such. And many, many people have spoken out against it.

Yet there seems to always be a massive disconnect when it comes to the issue of life in the womb. This kind of hatred is protected by laws, judges, congress, and governments of “civilized” people. Murder in the womb is defended by many of the people that many Christians are quoting on social media. This kind of disconnect is shocking. Think about it… some Hollywood not-a-hero says that what took place in Virginia on Saturday is appalling, and it was, but that same individual will be found on another day defending the right for a child in the womb to be hacked apart limb by limb.

Where is consistency today? Where is the exercise of discipline? Who is speaking today with disciplined consistency? This is what it looks like when hate hates hate?

When there is no pillar of truth in the community, people chase after all kinds of inconsistent voices.

Follower of Christ, discipline yourself with a consistent voice. Don’t confuse your friends by quoting from some Hollywood moral drifter and then within a few moments quote a Bible voice. If there is anything to say in a day like this it requires disciplined consistency. To be a pillar and buttress of truth, which your city needs, be part of the pillar and buttress not a confusing standard that is sure to crumble soon.

What if in your community you quoted your faithful pastor preaching sound timeless truths for all people everywhere rather than a flash of show lights from an industry that has as much hate, if not more, than what was shamefully displayed on the streets of Charlottesville.

There is a remedy to this; the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ as defined by the Holy Bible alone.

Effective Ways to Reach Youth and Young Adults

First, realize that the title of my post today is with my tongue in my cheek, sort of speak. I’m not employing the title to attract readers.

When I’m away for a stretch of time I like to take a moment and catch up on my regular reading circuit of newsletters I subscribe to and bloggers I regularly read. I’ve just finished getting caught up on a few of those, most were deleted or flagged to read later.

Of note, there seemed to be an uptick of posts and columns that were addressing the most effective ways of reaching youth and/or young adults. Not just the random writer or publishing house trying to get readers from desperate pastors or leaders in churches that are facing pressure to increase the bottom line of attendance (which means the bottom line for funds), but there seemed to be several from what I would call are otherwise trustworthy sources and noteworthy authors. I decided to read a few of them to see what’s being said about the attraction of youth and young adults. These articles and columns come from denominations, churches and even secular sources.

There were three things that caught my “attention.”

  • The clip art or stock photos for the articles seemed more flashy than normal and an increase in photos of young people with more tattoos, body piercings, and seductive type clothing and facial expressions. I first realize that I’m now looking at everything in life from a 50 year old’s lens (which now includes bifocals). I respect that I can’t require all of the advertising world to appeal to my likes. But I do find it interesting a shift that is or has happened in what is presented as “normal” for what a young person looks like who is serious about a relationship with God. It is a significant shift mind you. To my pastor friends, look at that publishing house flyer again and notice the kind and type of clothing the publishing house is using in their stock photos. Notice the increase of youth and young adults with tattoos, body piercings and most noticeably the style of clothing across the board. Who will hold the publishing house accountable for telling (showing) the church what is normal and acceptable. What is being passed off as a flyer to promote a resource may more be a fashion magazine of trending styles. Does anyone else notice this? or have I really become the old man.
  • The selling of products and services. I respect that things cost money and there must be a recovery of product costs and time that people devote to their labor. I don’t fault this on anyone. But the increase of what I would otherwise identify as para-church resources (resources for churches and pastors that are not from churches and pastors). There is a business to be had by that which was designed to assist the church that is largely now instructing the church in what and how to do her work. Agencies and “coaches” to help the church evaluate her effectiveness and determine how to more effectively reach people is no new thing, but the increase in churches and pastors turning to these seems to be trending like a bull market.
  • The content of the blog posts, articles, and columns are still ignoring the sufficiency of Scripture. A recent, well respected author, who has the ear of many people across denominational lines and seen by many as a “missional” expert recently wrote about effective ways to reach youth and young adults. Because I like to read what he has to say, I read his article. I was shocked to not find one of the nine suggestions to include anything about Scripture. (before I go further: I get that it may have been an implied starting place so I’m not suggesting we gather on the streets with torches lit on our way to the publishing house, but if we are going to be responsible in our day, we can’t assume that the sufficiency of Scripture is an implied starting place of most ministers.) His nine suggestions used every buzz word you might find at any recruitment office of any business in town looking to attract a new clientele. Words like “community”, “service”, “worship experience”, “technology”, “authenticity”, “transparency”, “team”, etc. Not one word about God, Truth, Scripture, prayer, suffering, considering the cost of following, obeying, self-discipline, sound doctrine, equipping of the saints, biblical evangelism, etc.

There was a great reformation that took place nearly 500 years ago that addressed many things that the modern church would do good to be reminded of. Where many of the things in the resources and articles are true they may not at the same time be truthful. Sure there are ways to effective gather a people together; but is that people a church?

If the church is to effectively reach anyone, not just the young, she must devote herself to God, His words, and His ways.

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“When I will send a famine on the land,
Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water,
But rather for hearing the words of the LORD.” (Amos 8:11)

Note to my preacher friends:
Don’t do what I’ve done in days of desperation because of pressure from men and employ worldly means, that may not be truthful, to attract a people. Rather, if there is any desperation, it is that if there is a famine coming from the current drought for hearing the words of the LORD that we are found successful in honoring God by feeding His people His words.

Trustworthy News

In a day when everyone wants to say other news outlets are “fake news”, can there be anything such as trustworthy news?

News reporters who report to a base will willingly say things that are not true to insight a people to say and do things for them.

If you forgot about this, then be reminded. If you didn’t know this, learn it quickly. Recently, Alex Jones and InfoWars.com have retracted inflammatory remarks it once reported as factually true after a lawsuit was filed.

When you listen to anyone talk about anything it’s always best to begin looking for primary sources they are using. If they’re not using sources, ask for them to verify. If they have a pattern of not using credible sources, stop trusting them and stop sharing their stories.

This is a good reminder for all of us.

Some guidelines for listening ears…

  • Listen for truth.
  • Don’t be satisfied with opinion primarily.
  • Read as many primary sources as possible.
  • Don’t share everything you read as fact.
  • Read and listen to media with awareness of what and who you are listening too.
  • Interesting media reports are more driven by opinion than truth.
  • Just know what’s influencing you. Don’t play the part of the fool by the manipulating media.
  • Attend local government meetings.
  • Ask good questions and listen for logically true answers before you formulate an opinion.

Why did it take a lawsuit to get truth from Alex Jones? Can Alex Jones and InfoWars.com be trusted as reliable news?

 

The Collapse of Simple Morality

It has become clearest in the past few decades that the public school education system has been on the brink of complete ruin. It’s rarely about education anymore.

Today, the Twin Falls Times News reported that some (my guess is very few) students at Twin Falls High School have not returned to school because of fear.

I’ll leave you to read the column or not. The link is HERE (http://magicvalley.com/news/local/education/spirit-day-sparks-backlash-at-twin-falls-high/article_7f4caae6-7c75-5e66-b20b-1fccacd04239.html)

My commentary is short. This is what the end of public education looks like unless there is wide spread repentance.

“God created man(kind) in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:27

“For even though they (mankind) knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculation, and their foolish heart was darkened… God gave them (mankind) over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them.” Romans 1:21-24

A reasonable voice must rise up at the Twin Falls school board meetings in the coming days.

Christian parents, your dialog with your children is not optional on these matters. You must teach your children right and wrong.

What has become of education is not a reflection on godly teachers, students, or administrators. Nor should anyone think that private Christian, charter, or home school is a morality safeguard, it may be worse in many cases.

Blasphemy

There are many in the land attempting to do what only God can do.

To think that one can achieve salvation through any means other than through Christ Jesus, the only begotten son of the Living God is a hope against hope.

It’s easy to look at the atheist and think how foolish their actions are. It’s easy to look at the cult followers as empty and heading to a dead end with no room to turn around. It’s easy to see the trappings of the religions of false prophets as of no help and filled with falsehoods.

Then there is the danger of practical blasphemy that some professors of Christ practice. To suggest that God needs anything from us or that we have any stake in how he should rule His created order is an equal act of blasphemy.

There is joy in the Lord. In the condition of helplessness we were once in, Christ came to us in our spiritual depravity and saved us from the deserved wrath of God that is fairly charged against us but was graciously placed upon our redeemer in our stay.

O for a thousand tongues to sing…

Is Genesis History?

Thursday, February 23, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. at the Magic Valley Cinema 13, a one night only documentary on creation will show. Is Genesis History is a project hosted by the author of the Truth Project of Focus on the Family, Del Tackett.

Del Tackett, Focus on the Family, and the Truth Project are all reliable sources and gives reason for me to recommend this documentary for consideration.

Who would benefit from a documentary such as this?

  • Everyone

Especially, If I had children of any age being taught in any school system; public, private, charter, Christian, and home.

Here is a link to helpful eBook related to the documentary.

 

A Gospel Tract Video Project

There is Joy in the Lord

Here is a Gospel sharing opportunity for you. These video Gospel tracts are intended for your use in sharing publicly or privately with friends, co-workers, acquaintances, anyone in general.

The idea is that you might consider sharing one of these video excerpts from a recent sermon with your friends. I’ve included them here for you to view as you decide who you might share.

  • I have included links to one print version and three video versions:
  • Long Version: This is the entire sermon from February 5, 2017 from Philippians 2:5-11
  • Medium Version: This has several excerpts from various places in the sermon (about 15 minutes long)
  • Short Version: This has just a few portions of the sermon (about 4 minutes)

Instructions and Suggestions:

First:

  • Pray – The kind of praying I’m talking about is for boldness. We already know that God wants us to share the gospel. For most of us, it is a lack of boldness that keeps us from sharing the gospel. It’s not for lack of want, it’s for lack of boldness. I’m praying for you as you consider this with me.
  • Read Philippians 2:5-11 and Romans 8. There are other things you may want to read as well, but at least those two because they are the primary text I used in this past Lord’s Day sermon.
  • Don’t let any public conversion online divert you from you gospel work. If you share one of the following links on a public social network page don’t let someone (sometimes even professing Christians will do this) lure you in to a distracting conversation.
  • Put it out there and pray for those who the Holy Spirit will draw to the posts.
  • Do not feel obligated to a discussion where you feel obligated to defend me. That is a distraction from the conversation. Let potshots at the preacher roll off of you.

 

Printed tract:

  • Consider printing this post that was published in the Twin Falls Times News this past weekend and give it or mail it to a friend.
  • After you give it, mail it, email it to them, tell them you would like to talk to them about it some time (face to face is best in my opinion)
  • Set a time that you may be able to talk about it.
  • Share that column published in the Twin Falls Times News on your social network sites.
  • Become as familiar as you can with Philippians 2:5-11 and Romans 8.

 

Video Tracts:

  • First, get these videos from my YouTube channel (HERE) and share them directly from there. You could share this blog post, but the intent of this blog post is really to give you opportunity to consider sharing the gospel.
  • Consider sharing the full sermon (HERE) with those you know really well. Maybe even Christians to encourage each other in the work of Christ on the Cross in your own lives.
  • Consider sharing the medium length tract (HERE) with friends via email or messaging. Even for some a 15 minute excerpt will not appeal to them or they may consider that too long of an investment in something you’ve shared with them. But you have some who may be ready for a good discussion after a bit more of an investment of their time.
  • Consider sharing this short tract (HERE) on your social media pages, blog pages, emails, and such. This is a concise collection of a few excerpts from the full sermon. Use this primarily for an opportunity to have more dialog with.


Full Length: 
59 minutes


Medium Length:
just over 15 minutes

Short Length: 4 minutes

Satan Dares Us To Be Careless

Have you ever been tempted to use Scripture to disobey God?

If you are being honest you understand the question and the answer is, “yes.”

In a time of war, if your enemy can twist your own words to wage war against you he will successfully win the battle. Don’t forget, Christian, you are at war with the enemy of God. That enemy is a master manipulator and crafty in twisting the words of God. Look around. The shifting in our culture is exhibit A, a living indictment against many professing followers of Christ.

Scripture is powerful for both you and your enemy. It is powerful for the enemy if you don’t know God’s word and powerful for you if you do know it.

The savor of all repenting sinners, Jesus the Christ, was under the attack of the master manipulator who twister of the word of God in Matthew 4:5-6. Satan chose to tempt Jesus with that powerful tool, the very words of God Himself, but was not counting on Jesus actually knowing these words or knowing how he chose to use Scripture out of context to make it seem okay to disobey God.

Human history is full of examples of how Satan chose to use Scripture like this. Unlike Jesus, we prove how little we know the word of God. Think of it for a moment – remember the garden with Adam and Eve and King David committing adultery and murder. Not to mention the ongoing misuse of Scripture by Satan to convince many that they will become equal with God by becoming gods or that it is possible to earn your way to heaven or loss your salvation. Many in our day believe that human life is not to be revered as abortion numbers continue to show the nation less interested in the glory of God and more interested in convenience. And then a hundred other more subtle lies that salvation comes in the act of baptism or speaking in tongues.

If the follower of Christ is not aware of this then he/she is likely to be won over by the enemy. This is no time to be careless in your relationship with God.

The only thing we do when we are persuaded by the enemy of God is prove we are a careless people with the things of God.

Remember this follower of Christ; Satan loves to take God’s word and twist it all up so we don’t know if it’s truth or not.

Here are some warning signs that you have successfully been won over by the chief of all liars:

  • You think there is no God.
  • You don’t think you are a sinner and God surely wouldn’t judge you as one, or at least not the kind of sinner deserving of hell.
  • You think God wants you to do something that is a contradiction of his word.
  • You think reading the bible is something other people should do.
  • You treat others as less important than you.
  • You think of yourself as more spiritual than others.
  • You think praying is something for old women.

Is it possible that you’ve become careless in your relationship with Christ? Is it possible that your church has become careless in her duty?

Reader, today, while it is still called today, don’t be a sloppy and careless follower of Christ like many have become in our day. What partial truth has Satan duped you of lately? What lie have you agreed to believe in order to justify your sin?

Do you not see Satan tempting you, daring you even, to be careless?

O, that the community would find a people devoted and careful to follow and obey God. Calling all sinners, repent and submit with joy to the Word of Life, Jesus the Christ! Be among those with a past that once were believers of lies but have repented and turned to Christ. Stop your careless ways today and live in the light of truth.

The Savior is able to make all things new!

Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor of InterMountain Christian News, Boise, Idaho

Dear Mr. Harper,

First, the intent of my letter is to help – not destroy or confuse. My straightforwardness is not to discredit the legitimacy and seriousness of the unfolding of the events around Saeed and Naghmeh Abedini in the public eye.

You and Intermountain Christian News have been strong advocates for the suffering saints around the world and helped in keeping the news of Saeed’s imprisonment in front of Christians in the intermountain region; For this, I’m thankful.

When we express concern for how things are unfolding in the lives of public figures many may be angry at what will appear to sound like unfair judgment or casting of stones, I am not trying to dig into another man’s personal affairs. I do understand the private boundary. I’m not requesting details of any private matters.

As you have read my public comments and were so kind to visit with me on the phone multiple times the day you released your YouTube interview with Saeed, I once again put out my plea to churches, Christian universities, mission agencies and Christian media outlets to not give Saeed Abedini a platform to speak until he gives clarity of his church affiliation, questions around his ordination, phone activity while in prison, humbly submitting to the authority of his local church in regards to his marriage and answer his alleged past abusive behavior in his marriage. I don’t make these demands; it’s simply a call for accountability. I respect that I have no authority or responsibility for any other church but the one I pastor. I’m not trying to usurp another churches autonomy or pastor’s duty.

I’m not concerned with secular media. They are not bound to responsibly report to the church. Their base is more secular; however, I have found their interviews to be more honest and even bold enough to ask questions regarding the public difficulties. I will give any Christian media outlet the benefit of the doubt until they show themselves more interested in financial gain than responsibly reporting to Christians helpful information.

All Christian media outlets, if publishing a reworked report from the Associated Press is as good as you can do, please report nothing.

I do not write this to incite, accuse, or disparage. I want Saeed’s story told, but not while these unclear and unanswered questions linger. I will tell of how the church in America came together to pray for Saeed and Naghmeh and their children during his days of imprisonment. I will tell of how my church prayed faithfully for the plight of suffering saints everywhere. This was an expression of joy in the Lord to be reminded that when a member of the body of Christ suffers, the body suffers. It was good to be faced with reality during these God ordained days that the hardship Saeed faced, and worse, is the normal experience of believers in many places around the world. And good to be reminded today that the suffering of this kind is a blessing when it is without cause. But when it is because of personal actions, it is wrong to interpret that as the same thing. It is of a different kind.

  • I have made attempts to communicate with Saeed in private, all attempts met with silence. It is not necessary or required that anyone I write must respond or agree with me. I’m accountable for my words and spirit of my correspondence. I’m willing to be judged by the reader and scrutinized about my intent, motive and spirit of communication.
  • Christians have been conditioned by fear of men, in the name of love, to not hold fellow Christians accountable. We’re told it is unfair, unloving, and even rude to judge. Will we hear the mandate of an uninformed reader of Scripture force us to adopt a secular philosophy that loving someone means we don’t hold them accountable or discern how words and actions are not equal? We must be careful. We want others to be graceful to us, we too should speak with a graceful motive. I am willing to be scrutinized in the same manner. Where it is true, we have a history of being unfair, unloving and even rude; it should not be so when we do exercise discernment. For too long we’ve been told that boldness is rude. Let’s not let the fear of being labeled rude keep us from being bold, and let’s not let the duty of being bold give reason for rudeness.
  • Does the bible instruct us in how to do this at all? It does. When we probe for clarity we give consideration. When we inquire with concern we should do so as gentle as a dove and with discernment of a serpent. We are not easily offended if the one we are speaking with does not see things as we perceive them – we give room that we may be wrong in our inquiry, and if we are we are quick to humble ourselves and ask for forgiveness.

The is an attempt to gain clarity and attempting to act in a spirit of love for the gospel of the LORD Jesus Christ and a professing brother. With respect, I ask you once again to not give Saeed Abedini a platform to speak as a leader to the churches in the intermountain region while serious questions need to be addressed. I submit my letter with an expectation to be judged in the same manner. Words are important; my words should be scrutinized for clarity and weighed against logic in the spirit of Christ, described by Scripture not secular philosophy.

With respect,

 

Paul Thompson

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