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The following is adapted from the first chapter of God Distorted by John Bishop.

I know people who have incredibly blessed relationships with their fathers. But sadly, in my experience, they are the minority. Mostly I hear stories of people who feel abandoned, devalued, criticized, and unable to measure up. I have heard stories of horrible abuse and of dads who were there but never really “there.” Yet, as important as a dad is, many children in America and throughout Western civilization are living with- out a father, or they bear the scars of an abusive, demanding, uninvolved father. The statistics are frightening:

  • 63 percent of youth suicide victims are from fatherless homes.
  • 90 percent of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
  • 80 percent of rapists with anger problems come from fatherless homes.
  • 71 percent of all high-school dropouts come from fatherless homes.
  • Children living in two-parent households with a poor relationship with their father are 68 percent more likely to smoke, drink, or use drugs, compared to all teens in two-parent households.
  • Children with fathers who are involved are 40 percent less likely to repeat a…

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UnstoppableKirk Cameron’s new film, Unstoppable, is one you won’t want to miss. This film is intimate, edgy, bold and full of the unexpected. Let me explain.

It is intimate. The idea for the film came from the life and death of a 15 year old son of one of Kirk’s friends. The young man battled cancer for ten years. His death hit home to Kirk in a personal and painful way. The deep and heart-rending  impact comes through powerfully in the film. When something like this happens, we want to know why. Why would God bring cancer to a family that only wants to serve him? Kirk addresses the universal question, why do bad things to good people. Unstoppable provides truly satisfying answers from God’s word and the story of redemption.

It is edgy. The film is edgy because it presents God’s answers without regard to the artificial comfort zone created by our modern culture. Today we attempt to shield ourselves from death and the unpleasant consequences of sin. We also attempt to shield ourselves from the raw truth of the fall and the impact of the great flood. Unstoppable takes these issues head-on and shows…

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Multi-ethnic ChurchThis blog is co-authored by DERWIN GRAY.  I am the founding and Lead Pastor of Transformation Church & FRANK VIOLA is the author of numerous books on the deeper Christian life.  Full bio’s are at the end of the blog.

The Zimmerman trial and the tragedy that surrounds it has captured the world’s attention. Including that of the body of Christ.

Media coverage has heightened passions on both ends. Conversations about race, law, injustice, prejudice, guns, etc. are all being argued and inflamed.

In this article, we don’t want to weigh in on the public debate. Instead, our passion is to encourage God’s people everywhere to transcend the debate that the world is holding on its own terms by seeing ethnicity through the eyes of our Lord. There is only one race, the human race, which is comprised of different ethnic groups (Acts 17:26).

We want you, dear Christian, to take your cue from the New Testament believers, for they can teach us a great deal about this subject.

A Walk Into the First-Century Church

The world of the first-century was littered with racism and oppression. In the mind of a first-century Jew, Gentiles (Africans, Romans, Greeks, Syrians, Asians,…

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Formed for the Glory of GodJonathan Edwards (1703-1758) is considered by many to be one of the smartest philosophers and theologians in American history. But more than that, Edwards is one of the great spiritual thinkers as well. Edwards helped the churches in New England navigate the work of the Spirit in the “Great Awakening,” and he continues to help pastors walk through these issues through his great work The Religious Affections (one of the most beloved spiritual classics of the Protestant church).

How can we learn from the spiritual practices of Edwards? Here are three lessons that are as important today as they were in Edwards’s time:

1. Spiritual Practices are God-Focused

When engaging in a spiritual practice, whether reading the Bible devotionally, praising God in church or even listening to a sermon, it can be incredibly easy to start focusing on side-issues. Maybe our lips are moving while singing a praise song, but our minds are thinking about everything else we have to do. Maybe we are reading the Bible for something to say that will sound smart and informed rather than hearing from God.

Whatever the case, Edwards would encourage us…

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The following is an excerpt from Frank Viola’s new book God’s Favorite Place on Earth, recommended by 47 top Christian leaders. If you order the book between May 1st and May 7th, you will receive 25 free books and audios by 15 different authors. Just go to for details and endorsements.

Gods Favorite Place On EarthWhen Martha complained to Jesus about Mary on His first visit to Bethany, Mary could have chosen to be offended by her sister. But there is no indication that she felt that way. She also could have taken offense when Judas and the disciples protested against her act of extravagant worship. But again, there is no indication that she did.

Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the pain that was inflicted upon Mary in both situations. Here was a woman who loved her Lord with all her heart, and she was unfairly criticized for it. Not by her enemies, but once by her sister and another time by some of the Lord’s own disciples.

It reminds me of the old adage, “No good deed shall go unpunished.”

The words of Elbert Hubbard come to mind: “To avoid…

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Jesus made it plain that God’s primary mission has to do with building and extending his kingdom. The church is not his major agenda. Nor does the church own the kingdom or the mission of God. God’s mission involves the redemptive restoration of everything that sin has tarnished and broken.

God created the church to be a people partnering with him in his redemptive mission in the world. Let’s break that down.

The people of God.Genesis 12:1–2 records God’s cre- ation of a special people who are to live in covenant with him. The call of Abraham begins a metanarrative that runs throughout the whole Bible. The church entered this story when believers were made heirs to the covenant through  the sacrifi- cial work  of Jesus on the cross. This covenantal relationship  was memorialized by Jesus at the Last Supper and is celebrated every time the Lord’s Supper is observed by his followers. The church is a people; it’s not an institution or organization,  though it has institutional  and orga- nizational features and functions. Said another way, the church is a who, not a what….

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Editor’s Note: We were moved by Beth’s words concerning the Warren family and how she drew from her own experience to offer wisdom to others about how we interact within the body of Christ. We’re thankful she allowed us to reprint her article here.

Beth MooreSaturday shortly after noon, I filled up the dog bowl on the back porch with water and pitched dishes in the dishwasher so that I could head out with Melissa for a bite to eat and maybe a little shoe shopping. She’d spent the night with Keith and me in the country and we’d had a lazy Saturday morning over coffee and conversation. I’d set out my purse and keys and decided to wipe down the kitchen counter before we walked out the door. Just as I sprayed the cleaner and grabbed the dishtowel, Melissa walked in staring at the screen of her phone with the oddest expression.

“Mom, I don’t know if it’s true or not but I’m seeing references on Twitter to Rick and Kay Warren losing a son.”

She was ashen. My stomach flipped and, over the next few minutes as she read to me bits…

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John 3-16By Mark Coppenger

Like the fellow who thought he’d be crossing visible longitude lines on his ocean voyage to Europe, some may think that the chapter and verse divisions were on the sheet when apostles such as John (or psalmists such as David) wrote down Scripture.

But no, they wrote letters and poetry and Gospels and other history without numbering. Those markers were added centuries later. Indeed, when Jesus referred to Exodus 3:6 in Mark 12:26, He simply located it in “in the passage about the burning bush.” Neither the “12:26” nor the “3:6” were yet in place.

To make a long story short, biblical scholars were making divisions of one sort or another in the centuries following the books’ original composition, but it wasn’t until the early 1200s that we got our current chapter setup, thanks to Archbishop of Canterbury Stephen Langton. As for the verses, Jewish scribes had already done work on the Old Testament around the year 900, and their work was wedded to Langton’s. But the church had to wait another 300 years for its New Testament breakdown, performed by a French-born printer, Robert Estienne or…

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heaven&earth.proclaimBy Russell D. Moore

I have long suspected that many Christians dread not just death but heaven. We won’t admit that, of course. Our hymnody, of whatever era, is filled with songs about the joy of the afterlife, and “what a day of rejoicing that will be.” We’re glad we’re not going to hell or to oblivion. But most of our songs and sermon mentions are about that first few moments in heaven: when we see Jesus, when we’re reunited with our loved ones, and so on. It’s like the happy ending of the story. And that’s the problem.

The Gospel tells us that Satan keeps unbelievers bound by fear of death (Hebrews 2:14-15). Believers, too often, dread death also, though not as much from fear as from boredom. We see the story of our lives as encompassing this span of 70 or 80 or 100 years. The life to come is our “great reward” in “the afterlife.”

But just think about that word “afterlife.” It assumes eternity is an endless postlude to where the action really happens. It’s “after.” Our “reward” happens after we’ve lived our lives. Here’s why this…

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McFatridge.PrayerActionBy Claude King

Years ago, while reading one of my dozens of books by Andrew Murray, I learned that our modern posture of prayer (kneeling with hands clasped with head bowed) didn’t come from Judaism but from a medieval ceremony. I undertook a study of that ceremony while writing a booklet, “Consecrate the People: Renewing Our Covenant Commitments to Jesus Christ.”

The homage ceremony

In the homage ceremony a king, lord or landowner would call his vassals or subjects before him to pledge their loyalty and obedience to their lord. The king would hold out his open hands. The subject would kneel with bowed head and place his hands inside the hands of his king. Then he would say these words, “I am your man.” (The name of the ceremony comes from the Latin word for man.)

That simple statement essentially meant, “I belong to you.” It included the obligation to obey any request of the king, even the call to battle. That pledge of obedience also included a readiness to obey even if the assignment would cost the life of the subject. It could become a pledge of obedience even…

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QuestionsBy Matt Queen

A lady once criticized the evangelism methods used by Dwight L. Moody, the famed 19th century American pastor, to win people to saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. In response Moody replied, “I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?” Moody’s critic answered, “I don’t do it.” Moody quipped, “In that case, I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”

Like Moody, I would rather be a criticized personal evangelist than a non-evangelistic critic. Sometimes another’s critique of our evangelism is biblically warranted. At other times critical comments about our evangelism discourage us without cause. Perhaps the evangelistic enterprise would be served best if before — we critique and/or question the evangelistic practices of someone else — and/or our evangelistic practices are critiqued and/or questioned by someone else, we sternly look ourselves in the mirror and say, “I question your evangelism!”

What questions might a believer ask himself in order to assess his evangelistic practices? In “Tell It Often-Tell It Well,” Mark McCloskey offers three essential questions every believer should…

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By James A. Smith Sr./Florida Baptist Witness

IMG20132224761HIPornography is the “pink elephant in the pew” — the embarrassing, big subject no one wants to talk about — and that silence is feeding a “bubonic plague” harming churches, pastor Jay Dennis told state Baptist convention executive directors and editors gathered in Oklahoma City.

“Our enemy has found the perfect tool to deliver temptation to men — men who love God, men who love their wives, love their children and love their churches,” Dennis, pastor of First Baptist Church at the Mall in Lakeland, Fla., said Feb. 14. “Yet their involvement in looking at pornography has virtually duct-taped their mouths closed and taken them out of spiritual leadership in the home and in the church.”

After his presentation, Dennis told the Florida Baptist Witness newsjournal he was burdened to address the issue — even though he didn’t want to — when a growing number of women in his church sought pastoral counsel for husbands and sons who were struggling with pornography.

“I resisted … because I knew that the spiritual warfare component of this would be immense — and it has been,” Dennis said,…

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