Links & Quotes

I am really looking forward to a new series of sermons that I am launching this Sunday. This will be a once-per-month series for the remainder of the year and it’s simply called A Christian’s Mental Health. If you don’t have a home church in the west Michigan area, I would love for you to join me in person, but the sermons will also be posted on my YouTube channel.

T.M. Moore has an outstanding post called The Essence of the Lie. In one part, Moore writes, “Thus the lie claims to be the truth, but, at the same time, it insists that truth is personal, relative, pragmatic, and utilitarian. Truth, from this perspective, is not absolute, but dynamic, changeable rather than fixed. It is conditioned by circumstances of time and place. At the end of the day, people are the final arbiters of truth, and truth is whatever they find to be useful for their purposes. Ultimate truth is that which people impose on others by one or another kind of force, whether intellectual, political, or physical.” Check this one out!

Harvard University has been studying a group of individuals since 1938 to try to determine the main factors that contribute to a long and healthy life. The director and assistant director of this study just published an article that sums up what they have learned over all these years—“[If] we had to take all 85 years of the Harvard Study and boil it down to a single principle for living, one life investment that is supported by similar findings across a variety of other studies, it would be this: Good relationships keep us healthier and happier. Period. If you want to make one decision to ensure your own health and happiness, it should be to cultivate warm relationships of all kinds.”

“The battle for control and leadership of the world has always been waged most effectively at the idea level. An idea, whether right or wrong, that captures the minds of a nation’s youth will soon work its way into every area of society, especially in our multimedia age. Ideas determine consequences.” — The American Covenant 

“The storms of life are no longer our point of reference when [Jesus] is our focal point.” —Dutch Sheets

John Stonestreet was intrigued by a street reporter asking, “What are men good for?” There were a lot of soft, ambiguous answers given, but John quipped, “Men are good for fathering, protecting, loving, providing, leading, fighting for what’s right with their lives if need be, and obeying, in a masculine way, the creation mandate of the God who made us male and female and declared both ‘very good.’ Was that so hard?” Amen!

Dan Reiland identifies four common mistakes that will cause your church to struggle.

When leaders quit growing, they in essence have “quiet quit” on their team. If the leader’s not growing, what is the incentive for anyone else in the organization to improve themselves or work hard? Leaders quiet quit long before their teammates do! Check out the full conversation Greg Heeres and I had on avoiding quiet quitting by clicking here.

Links & Quotes

Don’t rush through your Bible reading time. Slow down to savor the good stuff. And if there’s something you don’t understand, ask the “Chef”—the Holy Spirit loves to make God’s Word clear to you.

On a recent Breakpoint broadcast, John Stonestreet reported, “Even while many nations pump the brakes on radical transgender ideology and healthcare practices, Americans at both the state and federal level continue to push culture-wide affirmation, social transition of minors, hormone therapies, and harmful surgeries. Advocates frequently claim that so-called and misnamed ‘gender-affirming’ treatments—including surgery—‘save lives,’ that gender dysphoria is a permanent condition even among minors, and that regret by those who undergo such treatments are minimal or non-existent. Increasingly, research suggests otherwise.”

“Hazael’s historicity has never truly been in doubt; there are far too many inscriptions from the ancient world testifying to his existence.” Check out this archeological biography of King Hazael who appears several times in the Bible.

Dan Reiland notes, “Leaders navigate within the realm of pressure; it’s part of the landscape. It’s how we handle the pressure that makes all the difference.” Dan shares four ways the pressure of leadership is needed and helpful.

Be careful with non-biblical rules! I went much deeper with this idea in an exclusive video for my Patreon sponsors. If you want to get access to these exclusive lessons, it’s just $5/month. Check out my Patreon page to subscribe → https://www.patreon.com/craigtowens.

John Piper explains that there are three levels of how to live with material things. He then dives deeper into what the purpose of prosperity really is.

T.M. Moore has a stern word for pastors: “If we are faithful in telling the whole truth of the Gospel, not everyone will be thrilled with our preaching. We need to make sure Jesus is. When it comes to sin, let’s not mince words, and let’s not act like it’s not the big deal it is. No progress in faith can be made where sin is not consistently and thoroughly confessed, repented of, and forsaken.”

Links & Quotes

We have a new kitten in our home and the places she shows up cracks me up!

In the Wall Street Journal, Andy Kessler said that without the discoveries and influence of Michael Faraday, “there would be no modern economy.” John Stonestreet built on this by explaining that “Faraday is an example of how Christians can balance the constructive purposes of science with an accurate understanding of scientific authority.” Indeed, Faraday’s Christian faith made his scientific findings even more powerful.

This year marks the centennial anniversary of Central Bible College, the first educational institute opened by the Assemblies of God to train ministers and missionaries.

“For many years, evidence has been found showing that humans were surprisingly intelligent in times that were only supposed to reveal simple, ‘primitive’ man in his brute, evolving condition.” Now a new discovery has shown a surgical amputation that took place about 7000 years ago.

There’s a cool story in three of the Gospels where some creative, persistent friends took their paralyzed friend to Jesus. The Bible notes that “when Jesus saw *their* faith” He healed their friend. Wow! Which of your friends or family are too weak to pray for themselves? Who do you know that feels paralyzed and cannot get to Jesus? Be that friend who has faith for someone else. And be sure to check out more of my Monday Motivation videos too.

We have seen it in countless science fiction movies, but is it possible for artificially intelligent machines to take over the world? This is a great video from Science Uprising—

If you have known someone who has battled cancer, you know that their liver is quite vulnerable to metastatic cancer since everything in our body is filtered through the liver at some point. Researchers have discovered the mechanism by which this metastasis happens, opening the door for defensive measures that can be employed. Let’s pray for divine insight for these researchers!

Is Christianity rational? Cold-case detective J. Warner Wallace explains how Christianity stands up to intense scrutiny—

Links & Quotes

John Stonestreet wrote, “The moment Roe v. Wade was overturned last month, desperate activists began to dust off the oldest and oddest arguments for abortion. These “gotcha” scenarios are supposed to prove that pro-lifers don’t really value human life or consider preborn babies from the earliest stages of development to be human. Instead, these pretend scenarios demonstrate that pro-lifers are simply hypocrites.” Check out the rest of his post 

“When the facts are not clear [in a relationship issue] it is better to consider someone innocent until proven guilty. That is the law of mercy, which we all want applied to us as well.” —Dr. John Townsend, Who’s Pushing Your Buttons

Pornography is contributing to the over-sexualization of young people, which is reaping some painful consequences…

I love when archeology confirms yet another facet of the historicity of the Bible! Check out this archeological biography of King Menahem.

Just a reminder that YOU were made on purpose …

A good friend of mine, Pastor Kristi Rhodes, is in a battle with cancer and I’m fighting alongside her! If you want to join Team Kristi, join the team by clicking here.

Links & Quotes

Ken Blanchard shared a blog post based on one of the chapters in his book Simple Truths Of Leadership (which I highly recommend to leaders!). He wrote, “When you catch yourself doing things right, everything in your life will improve—especially your relationships. Why? Because it’s fun to be around people who like themselves. After all, if you’re not your own best friend, who will be? And as my dad used to say, ‘If you don’t toot your own horn, others might use it as a spittoon!’”

For all Christians, but especially for those in leadership positions, Jon Bloom shares How to Watch for Wolves: Three Signs of False Teachers.

Fight The New Drug shares the research behind 15 Basic Facts About Human Sex Trafficking.

This is a great lesson from church history on the power of importunate prayer: The Hundred-Year Prayer Meeting.

Mary Slessor set a high bar for missionaries. John Stonestreet reminds us of this amazing woman.

Links & Quotes

Doug Clay, the General Superintendent of the Assembly of God wrote, “Our nation needs revival! 

“Culture may well be at a deeply dark moment, but that’s when the Church can shine the brightest as Christ’s witness to the world. I’m reminded of Romans 8:19 (Message), ‘The created world itself can hardly wait for what’s coming next.’ 

“A.W. Tozer once said, ‘The world is waiting to hear an authentic voice, a voice from God—not an echo of what others are saying, but an authentic voice.’ Let’s rise and be that authentic voice to a generation that is desperately in need.”

“What satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could ‘be like gods’—could set up on their own as if they had created themselves—be their own masters—invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history—money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery—the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy.” —C.S. Lewis

Meet Piper. She was abandoned with her mother and one other sibling. The mother then left the two kittens behind, who were hiding in a storm pipe. We were able to rescue this little calico and named her Piper as a reminder of where she was rescued from.

John Stonestreet asks, “Why are pro-abortion activists so committed? Because of lies built upon centuries of bad ideas….” Check out some of those bad ideas that have such devastating consequences.

Physicist Brian Cox discusses where God fits into scientists’ understanding of the universe. Two statements that are interesting to me—“we don’t know all the laws of science” (at 1:17), and “science is only an observational framework” (at 2:40). Both of these statements fit well with my biblical creationist paradigm.

Links & Quotes

I love the humanitarian work of Convoy of Hope wherever there is a need. They are on the front lines of Ukraine right now. If you are looking for a good organization to support financially, please check out their current efforts and click the Donate button on their page.

“[God] does not need us. If we stay away He is not impoverished. He does not need us in order to be happy in the fellowship of the Trinity. But He magnifies His mercy by giving us free access through His Son, in spite of our sin, to the one Reality that can satisfy us completely and forever, namely, Himself. ‘You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore’ (Psalm 16:11).” —John Piper 

“Good preachers are good learners, and not just of the Scriptures. They need to understand the times and the ways the times impact the people they are called to serve. Preachers who know their sheep well, as our Good Shepherd exemplified for us, will hear their concerns, understand their thoughts, discern their hopes and fears, and be able to preach in a way that speaks directly to their souls with transforming grace and power. Let us strive to be sons of Issachar when it comes to the ministry of God’s Word.” —T.M. Moore 

I love the Babylon Bee! Here is something that should make every pastor say, “Aha!”—Scholars Discover Introductory Notes To Paul’s Epistles That Dismissed The Children To Youth Ministry So The Adults Could Hear The Message

This week I shared another exclusive video with my Patreon supporters. Please consider supporting this ministry at just $5 per month. I also shared this public video especially for my fellow pastors:

John Stonestreet wrote about our amazing brain. What a marvelous thing our Creator has given us! Here is just one example: “In 2013, a collaboration between Japanese and German scientists created one of the most realistic brain simulations ever attempted. They used what was, at that time, the world’s fourth-largest computer, containing over 700,000 processor cores and producing an eye-popping 1.4 million gigabytes of RAM. The machine worked at top speed, crunching numbers for over 40 minutes. In the end, it produced just one second of simulated brain activity.”

5 Quotes On Love, Sex & Marriage From “The Beauty Of Intolerance”

Beauty Of IntoleranceIn any modern-day discussion on the topic of “tolerance” the conversation is sure to come around to sexual dos and don’ts. Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell speak to this subject so well in their book The Beauty Of Intolerance.

“The reason we think there are such concepts as ‘fair’ and ‘unfair’ is because our Maker is a just God and we have been made in His image (Genesis 1:27). The reason love is a virtue and hatred a vice is because the God of relationships who formed us is a God of love. The reason honesty is right and deceit is wrong is because God is true. The reason fidelity in marriage is honorable and infidelity is not is because God is faithful. The reason chastity is moral and promiscuity is immoral is because God is pure. … All truth claims cannot be equal because Jesus didn’t claim to be ‘a’ truth—one among viable others. His claim was exclusive.”

“True love commits wholeheartedly. … When two lovers marry, they are making a public vow committing to provide for and protect each other through thick or thin. That kind of committed love compels a couple to wait to engage in sex until after marriage—which is the context in which love makes it right.”

“Purity is God’s boundary that provides for a maximum sex life and protects us from the negative consequences of sexual immorality.”

“What your children hear about the ‘gay versus Christian’ morality debate is often centered on how Christians allegedly discriminate against same-sex marriages and wrongfully label the gay community as sinful. We need to help them refocus the argument. It needs to shift away from who is accusing whom of judging or whether it’s right to legislate morality. We must focus our young peoples’ discussion on who has the right to define morality in the first place. … Be a student of God’s Word. Know why you believe sexual immorality is wrong—know the positive provision and protection that comes by following God’s instructions on morality. And then seek to speak the truth in love. Capture God’s heart, knowing that He wants only what is best for us. Share how your own obedience to God’s Word has brought you protection and provision.”

First, marriage is two human beings becoming one in every way possible. . . In marriage, two become one, united in mind and body and purpose. 

“Second, marriage is oriented toward procreation. The act of two becoming one flesh makes God’s intent, that humans should ‘fill’ and ‘form’ His world, possible. … Scripture sees marriage as being closely tied to procreation. . . . 

“Third, marriage comes with an expectation of permanence. The Genesis account implies marriage is a permanent relationship, [but] Jesus’ words are explicit: ‘What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate’ (Matthew 19:6). . . . 

“Therefore we shouldn’t think of marriage as a political institution that belongs to the state. It is a pre-political institution. The state doesn’t create marriage; it can only recognize it. The state, despite all its efforts, will never be able to redefine marriage. Marriage will always be what marriage was created to be, no matter what activist judges, runaway legislatures or majority of voters decide.” —John Stonestreet & Sean McDowell 

If you haven’t read my review of The Beauty Of Intolerance, you can read it here. I have also shared some other quotes from this book here and here.

Links & Quotes

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“Ah, what a thing is prayer! The simplest form of speech—such as even a child could utter—yet the highest and divinest of all utterances; such as the Holy Spirit alone can enable us to give fourth.” —Horatius Bonar

“When God feels distant, remember the Christmas story. When you feel alone, unloved, or unlovable, remember that God loves you. And He travelled a great distance to be close to you. Why? Because He loves to be with the ones He loves!” —Max Lucado

“Do you ever take a moment to pray but feel like you stumble out of the gate? Do you have trouble finding the words when it comes time to bow your head? Remember, the One who hears your prayers is your Daddy. You don’t need to wow him with eloquence. Jesus downplayed the importance of words in prayers. We tend to do the opposite. The more words the better. The better words the better. … Just as a happy child cannot mis-hug, the sincere heart cannot mis-pray.” —Max Lucado

J.Warner Wallace answers a good question: Why doesn’t the birth record of Jesus appear in every Gospel?

Dan Reiland has some good words for those in leadership positions in ministry.

Far too many school administrators and teachers think they are limited by the so-called “separation of church and state.” Here’s a post from Eric Buehrer you should share with any of your friends who work in the public school system.

John Stonestreet says, “Remember when people laughed about ‘death panels’?” Check out Who decides to end a life?

Frank Turek asks, “How do we fix a world filled with murder, rape, betrayal, adultery, fraud, theft, sexual exploitation, pornography, bullying, abortion, terrorism, cheating, lying, child abuse, racism, assault, drugs, robbery, and countless other evils?” He says we may not like the answer.

Links & Quotes

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“Here’s an Advent illustration for kids—and those of us who used to be kids and remember what it was like. Suppose you and your mom get separated in the grocery store, and you start to get scared and panic and don’t know which way to go, and you run to the end of an aisle, and just before you start to cry, you see a shadow on the floor at the end of the aisle that looks just like your mom. It makes you really happy and you feel hope. But which is better? The happiness of seeing the shadow, or having your mom step around the corner and it’s really her? That’s the way it is when Jesus comes to be our High Priest. That’s what Christmas is. Christmas is the replacement of shadows with the real thing.” —John Piper (check out Hebrews 10:1-10)

“God desires to be remembered by man. He has taken unspeakable pains to keep Himself before His creatures, so as to make forgetfulness on their part the greatest of all impossibilities. In everything that God has set before our eyes or ears, He says, Remember Me. In every star, every flower, every mountain, every stream—in every joy, every comfort, every blessing of daily life—God says, Remember Me.” —Horatius Bonar

“God gives us a new revelation of His kindness in the valley of the shadow.” —Oswald Chambers

“Allow yourself one excess: be excessively obedient.” —Francois Fenelon

“satan’s ultimate weapon against us is our own sin. If the death of Jesus takes it away, the chief weapon of the devil is taken out of his hand. He cannot make a case for our death penalty, because the Judge has acquitted us by the death of His Son!” —John Piper

“Without Jesus, we’re trapped in the expectations of others. We’re trapped in living for the approval of our peers. We’re trapped in addictions. We’ve tried to change over and over again, but we don’t have the power needed to escape. Jesus came to give us that power.” —Rick Warren

“Holidays are about history, and if we fail to remember that history or to remind our contemporaries of it, then we will only be confirming their narrow and narcissistic view of ‘history’ as ‘my-story’ and my supposed right to make of my life whatever I will.” —T.M. Moore

John Stonestreet points out the power of hype in our modern culture—Ronda Rousey, Reality TV and Jesus.

Calvary Assembly of God helping the Cedar Springs community see the true meaning of Advent.

Is it really that big of a deal for a Christian to date a non-Christian?

Detroit Tigers fans and New York Yankees fans will enjoy this comparison of Ty Cobb and Babe Ruth.

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