Husbands and Wives Reflecting the Bride of Christ, by Steve Wolfgang

Over at the website for the Dowlen Road church of Christ, you can find another much needed lesson by Steve Wolfgang. If you have time, spend it meditating on your connection to Christ as seen in your marriage.

Husbands and Wives Reflecting the Bride of Christ:

Federal judge rules housing allowance for ministers unconstitutional

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Federal judge rules housing allowance for ministers unconstitutional

Why do pastors receive a tax exemption for housing?

By Joe Carter — Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission — November 25, 2013

http://erlc.com/article/why-do-pastors-receive-a-tax-exemption-for-housing

A federal judge recently ruled that an Internal Revenue Service exemption that gives clergy tax-free housing allowances is unconstitutional. In her ruling U.S. District Court Judge Crabb claims that, “Some might view a rule against preferential treatment as exhibiting hostility toward religion, but equality should never be mistaken for hostility.”

Despite the judge’s claim, appealing to “equality” is not enough to make the action non-hostile nor is it in line with previous court decisions. Not only has the Supreme Court previously stated that the Establishment Clause prohibits hostility against religion as much as it prohibits the establishment of a state religion, it has also noted that its “precedents plainly contemplate that on occasion some advancement of religion will result…

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On Christians Marrying Non-Christians, by: Doy Moyer

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“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matt 6:33).

This article is not an attempt to place any guilt trips on those already married. I understand the delicate situation. Yet I think that we sometimes are afraid to tackle the question, and I beg your careful consideration of the question: Should a Christian marry a non-Christian?

What sets the child of God apart from the world, in action, is seeking first the kingdom of God (i.e., God’s rule, doing His will) and His righteousness. My question, when it comes to marriage, is this: should a Christian, who is to be seeking God’s rule first, join himself or herself to one in marriage, who is not seeking God’s rule first? Is this even compatible — seeking first God’s rule while joining myself in the most intimate of ways to one who is going the opposite direction? I’ve never been satisfied with a “yes” answer to that question (maybe you can be satisfied with it, but I have yet to figure out how that works).

The problem is that a non-Christian has refused to submit himself to God’s rule, and this can spell trouble. Why? Because, it indicates that one is taking self over God. One of the most fundamental aspects of being a Christian is that of self-denial (Luke 9:23). But a non-Christian has refused this, which means that he has set a pattern of self-will for himself. There was a reason God told His covenant people under the Law of Moses not to intermarry with pagans. He knew their hearts would be led away if they did (see Deut 7:3-4). Shall this principle be ignored now? Do we find the danger of having our hearts turned away from God lessened today?

This is particularly problematic for the woman who marries a man who is not a Christian for the simple reason that marriage is a reflection of Christ and the church (Eph 5). The man is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. This is difficult enough for one dedicated to the Lord. For one not dedicated to the Lord, he may show love, but he will not purposefully pattern his love after Christ. Is this what we want?

What should be the first criterion for choosing a spouse? Should it be attraction and chemistry? Should it be that you like the same hobbies? Should it be that you laugh together and get along so well? What is the foundation of your relationship that will get you through life together, including all the difficult times and trials that will surely come your way?

The Christian’s commitment is to please God in all things and to pursue holiness. Why wouldn’t it be that way in marriage, too? Therefore, the fundamental question to be asking is this: will this person help me serve the Lord and prepare myself for eternal life with God? I advise ladies to answer the question, “Will you marry me?” with “Only if you’ll help me serve God and go to heaven.” This puts the responsibility back onto the man to be the leader he is called to be, first and foremost in leading his family in the way of God. It seems axiomatic, does it not, that a non-Christian will be unable to do this since he has not committed himself to God’s rule above all else.

“Are you saying that being married to a non-Christian is a sin?” No, and I am fully aware of the teaching in 1 Corinthians 7 on this. If you are married to a non-Christian, then you really are married and need to live out your commitment. Here I’m not really talking so much about already being married as much as I am talking about getting married. In other words, if you are already married, then you need to be dedicated to that marriage, no matter how difficult it may be or who you chose. The questions I am asking have to do with the attitude of one who is looking to get married, before the “I do’s” have been said. How careful are we being about the kind of spouse we choose?

I also recognize that some are married to one who has since quit the Lord. That is, both were Christians at the time of courting and marrying, but now one has given up on the Lord. Again, the Lord has joined them together and the Christians must remain dedicated to making that work. 1 Peter 3:1-6 would certainly apply to both sets of circumstances.

I am also fully aware that many have been converted to Christ after getting married. Praise the Lord for that! However, that still does not really address the fundamental point here. We cannot marry with the expectation of being able to convert a spouse, as if marrying a non-Christian is a form of evangelism (I’ve had that argument put to me before). Though there are many examples of post-marriage conversions, there are many others that have not seen such a pleasant outcome. Are we willing to risk it, and why?

Then, there are the children. All children are precious and need proper care in growing and learning. The Christian’s task is to raise up a child in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph 6:4). The non-Christian does not have the same goals for children, and this creates a divide in training children. Even if the non-Christian agrees to let the Christian teach the children, the influence of both parents will be strong and divisive. Yes, some have been successful in spite of the circumstances, and I would praise those parents who have been able to do it, but do we want to enter the situation with such a risk in the first place? There are enough difficulties in raising children, given a culture that is antagonistic toward God and His people. Why would we willingly compound the difficulties?

The Christian considering marrying a non-Christian needs to take a long, hard look at this. The problem is, once a person has fallen in love, many of those problems will likely be overlooked. My plea, even more, is to single Christians who are not dating anyone yet. Decide now that the person you will marry will be truly devoted to the Lord and in helping you in your spiritual journey toward God and eternal life with Him.

Doy Moyer

via: http://www.mindyourfaith.com/1/post/2013/11/on-christians-marrying-non-christians.html

Google Earth helps you see Biblical Sites

Ferrell's Travel Blog

About a month ago Wayne Stiles posted an illustrated article about “Google Street View of 7 Biblical Sites.” There is some pretty neat stuff there, especially for those who have stood in these places and looked in all directions. Check all 7 views here.

Look at the photo below, and then see the same area in Google Earth.

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Why Work, When Food’s Free?

ThePreachersWord

JasonG

Jason Greenslate.  He’s the most recent “poster-child” of what’s broken in American society.

During an investigation into the record number of food stamp recipients, Fox News reporter John Roberts  met Greenslate, a surfer and rocker, who is living the self-described “Rattlife” in San Diego.

Although Jason attended college and  is a trained recording engineer, he told Roberts he has no paycheck because holding down a steady job isn’t for him. So, the 29-year old “suffer dude” signed up for SNAP.  He receives $200 a month in taxpayer money for food. Greenslate simply said, “I don’t got a paycheck coming in, so I qualify.” 

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Invitation to a Spiritual Revolution, By Paul Earnhart

One of the better reads I found while preparing to present a (soon to be released on-line) series of lessons looking at “the Sermon on the Mount” was an older book, republished for the kindle was Paul Earnhart’s “Invitation to a Spiritual Revolution”. I particularly enjoyed his practical manner and the section where Paul and I obviously disagree as the force or impact of a section of text. from the introduction where he writes: “we have worked a wonder in our times by taking the most revolutionary document in history and turning it into something tame and inconsequential.” 1 , to the closing refrains he challenges your assumptions about a message that is both familiar, but made foreign by thinking to much like the world. Well worth your time.

available on Amazon: Invitation to a Spiritual Revolution: Studies in the Sermon on the Mount

1. Earnhart, Paul (2012-04-27). Invitation to a Spiritual Revolution (Kindle Locations 165-166). DeWard Publishing Company. Kindle Edition.

Expertise and How to Detect It

A claim of expertise does not mean real expertise… particularly so on the “interwebs”

Larry Hurtado's Blog

Last week a friend pointed me to a web site where a guy, claiming expertise in something else (cryptography, I think, but it  doesn’t matter) also claimed to have established beyond dispute and for the first time in modern scholarly studies the “true” meaning of a particular Greek word used by Paul.  Moreover, on this basis the guy claims a radically different understanding of what Paul had to say on the topic with which this Greek word is associated.  So, what did I think?

Well, I have to say that it’s curious that someone with no training in a given field, lacking in at least some of the linguistic competence required (both relevant classical language and key modern scholarly languages), thinks himself able to find something that has eluded the entire body of scholars in that field who labor year-upon-year to try to discover anything new and interesting.  It’s also…

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Eric Metaxas’ 7 Men And the Secret of Their Greatness – Reviewed by Alan Cornett

If your day consists solely of Video Games and Violent movies you are slowing crushing the better parts of your heart and soul…

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Eric Metaxas’ 7 Men And the Secret of Their Greatness – Reviewed by Alan Cornett

Being a Man of Conviction: Eric Metaxas’s ‘7 Men’

Reviewed by Alan Cornett in “Pinstripe Pulpit”

Posted on July 15, 2013

Review of 7 Men And the Secret of Their Greatness, by Eric Metaxas
Thomas Nelson, 2013

7 Men coverGeorge Washington could have been king. William Wilberforce was on a path to be prime minister. Eric Liddell had a guaranteed Olympic gold medal. All of them walked away. But why?

Fresh from blockbuster success of his biographies of Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Eric Metaxas returns to the biographical genre that has treated him so well. This time, rather than a full length biography on a single subject, he has written a set of biographical vignettes of great men of faith and sacrifice, individuals who achieved their greatness by sacrificing for a larger cause.

Metaxas states that…

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