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Are Today's Churches 'of the Culture' or 'in the Culture'?: Much has been made recently about America's mainline church denominations—the changes, division and uncertainty within. But the American Pastors Network's (APN, americanpastorsnetwork.net) says the focus should be on something else—getting back on the basics of Christianity. "Christians must unite around the core of the gospel, not divide because of man-made denominations," said APN President Sam Rohrer. "Above all, the focus must be on how to communicate the gospel. Churches can change their music, change the way the pastor dresses or change the public statements, but many of today's churches are walking away from the authority of Scripture and the necessity of protecting the authority of God's Word. That never grows old, and no one can change that without directly attacking the Word of God. Bit by bit, we are collectively retreating from a hard, fast and firm commitment to Scripture, and searching for ways to make it more palatable to the next generation—whatever that might look like." Another damaging matter, Rohrer added, is churches desiring to or giving into the allure of being of the culture rather than in the culture, ultimately straying from the Gospel to meet cultural needs. "Many churches are trying to change to become like the culture, but the long-term effects of leaving the gospel will be damage beyond belief," he said. "Many elements have pervaded our country's denominations, such as transgenderism, same-sex marriage, sexual assault and social justice, just to name a few. The left loves to see the divide of some of the largest of these denominations, which are doing much self-promotion, inviting media to be part of the 'experience' and by moving away from traditional church business and opening the doors of today's critiques of Christianity, either through the mainstream media or social media. And all the discord is playing out in public, which is not helping the spread of the gospel one bit." APN recently debuted its new television program, Stand in the Gap, which considers transcending cultural issues, seemingly difficult to navigate, from a biblical worldview perspective. Stand in the Gap TV also seeks to bring clarity to cultural confusion and makes sense of the nonsense around us, focusing on the root problems of our nation and applies biblical principles so God's people can know the truth. Stand in the Gap TV airs weekly on WBPH-TV60, a station in the Philadelphia market that reaches a potential of 7 million viewers by cable, DirecTV, Dish Network, off-air antenna and online. Programs air at 3 p.m. ET Sundays and will be rebroadcast Tuesdays at 8 p.m. and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. Check the WBPH listings for more information on how to watch. Learn more about the program here or view a promo for the show here. Rohrer is also the host of APN's popular radio program, "Stand in the Gap Today," which considers news from a biblical and constitutional perspective and is heard daily on 425 stations around the country. The show can also be heard live online from noon to 1 p.m. EST at American Pastors Network.com at the orange "Listen Live" button on the right-hand side of the webpage, or find a station here. View the media page for APN here, which also details information about "Stand in the Gap." For more information on APN, visit AmericanPastorsNetwork.net, its Facebook page or follow APN's Twitter feed, @AmericanPastors. To form a state chapter of APN, contact amy@americanpastors.net. http://dlvr.it/QY5NKl

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15 Contrasts Between True and False Apostolic Leaders: Jesus commended the Ephesian church for testing apostles to see if they were legitimate; we should do the same (Rev. 2:2). Also, for the sake of brevity, I am going to use term "apostle" for the title of each point instead of my usual "apostolic" (I usually use the term as an adjective rather than an office). In the context of this article, a false apostle is one who has a wrong motive in ministry—it doesn't mean they are not Christian or that they are not a child of God (it could be they are immature or a carnal ambitious leader). The following are 15 contrasts between the two: 1. True apostles edify the kingdom; false apostles build their own kingdom. The mark of a true apostolic leader is that their heart is for the expansion of the influence of God's kingdom more than their own empire. False apostles are only committed to that which benefits their own selfish agenda and ministry 2. True apostles live to serve; false apostles live to be served. The mark of a true apostolic leader is brokenness and humility. Their influence in the kingdom motivates them to function as a servant leader. False apostolic leaders have an entitlement mentality and think that because they have an apostolic title they deserve an entourage replete with numerous sycophants whose only goal in life is to serve the "apostle." Often, these followers are guilty of idolatry, since they look the other way when their leader uses, abuses and objectifies others for the sake of building his (the "apostle's") empire. 3. True apostles nurture Christ-followers; false apostles only point people to themselves. The greatest desire of true apostolic leaders is to mature people into becoming mature Christ-followers (see Col.1:28, 29). The greatest desire of false apostles is to produce faithful, committed, loyal followers who will live to serve them. This is because they point people to themselves and not to Jesus (see Acts 20:30). 4. True apostles desire influence for His glory; false apostles desire influence for monetary gain. I have found that one of the main characteristics of true apostolic leaders is that their primary focus is to advance the gospel—sometimes to the extent that they risk their own monetary stability. On the other hand, false apostles don't even begin an endeavor without first making sure they will make a profit. Not only that, but they also endeavor to get "sons" in the faith for the express purpose of getting their tithe (hence the primary motivation is finances rather than pouring into their lives). 5. True apostles lay down their life for the sheep; false apostles sacrifice the sheep for their life. I have noticed through the years that those leaders who use and abuse the sheep have only one agenda: their own benefit. Their ambition drives them so much that they will do anything to get ahead, even if it means hurting others. Apostolic leaders with this M.O. are false apostles. 6. True apostles build others; false apostles tear down others. Apostolic leaders who are committed to the success of others and make room for other people are functioning as true apostolic leaders. Those who attempt to get ahead by attacking (through slander, criticism and posturing) peers they suspect are their competition are acting like false apostles. 7. True apostles uplift pastors and churches; false apostles usurp pastors and churches. I have seen apostolic leaders live to serve and equip pastors and churches, but I have also observed a few (a small minority) attempt to add churches to their network by undermining the authority of local pastors. (They usually start off working with a pastor to gain their trust but eventually undermine their authority by working directly with the pastor's elders and leaders to garner their allegiance.) Such leaders are false apostles. 8. True apostles are accountable; false apostles are unaccountable. Any apostolic leader who refuses to be accountable or be corrected regarding their life, ministry or questionable teachings is functioning as a false apostle. 9. True apostles work through teams; false apostles work alone. Any time a so-called apostle desires to function as a Lone Ranger without working through teams for maximum effect is either insecure, immature or at times even worse—they are functioning as a false apostle. (I am not at all questioning the good intentions or motive of a leader who is not good at delegation and runs a "Mom and Pop shop." However, I am here pointing out their lack of true apostolic protocol and or ability to fully walk in the apostolic function.) To be a true apostle, one must have a propensity to raise up and work through a community of leaders that collectively bear much fruit that can be described as apostolic. One may actually have the apostolic calling and gift, but (because of insecurity, immaturity or lack of training) the fruit they bear is greatly limited because they refuse to delegate and build teams. True apostles utilize teams and have apostolic fruit; false apostles lack the fruit that maximizes a team effort. 10. True apostles point the church to the original 12 apostles of Christ; false apostles make themselves equal to the New Testament apostles. Anytime a person puts themselves or their teaching on the same level as any of the original 12 apostles is dangerous and is a false apostle. What the original apostles of the Lamb laid out through their lives and ministries became the plumbline as well as the foundation for the rest of us. All the saints throughout church history are called to point back to them as their primary reference point for ministry. Leaders who equate themselves as equal to and or lift themselves above the original apostles of Jesus are false apostles and not to be followed. 11. True apostles base their teaching on the Scriptures; false apostles base their teaching on subjective experience. Whenever a leader consistently bases their teachings solely on extra biblical experiences (personal visions, dreams, writings, prophecies) instead of on the sacred writings of both the Old and New Testament, they are in dangerous territory and are setting themselves up to be a false apostle who can potentially deceive many. (At the end of the day, only the Scriptures can be fully trusted as fully inspired by God.) This is especially problematic when a so-called apostle gets "revelation" from God that they claim is an extra chapter or book of the Bible or that they received instruction directly from one of the saints in heaven rather than from God. Such leaders are to be avoided in my opinion because eventually these so-called extra biblical revelations may contradict or be in competition with the Bible (similar to the Book of Mormon). 12. True apostles raise up sons; false apostles produce orphans. False apostles leave a path of destruction behind their ministry as they use, abuse and orphan their sons, whom they abandon after they get what they wanted from them. 13. Apostles leave a lasting legacy people want to remember; false apostles leave a legacy people want to forget. 14. True apostles walk with God; false apostles walk in the flesh. A so-called apostle who consistently walks in the flesh by losing their temper, cursing, slander, berating their staff and who lacks the fruit of the Spirit disqualifies themselves. Jesus said you will know people by their fruit (Matt. 7:20). 15. True apostles proclaim biblical doctrine; false apostles teach heretical doctrine. Jude 3 speaks about the obligation we have as believers to earnestly contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. True apostles uphold this biblical faith, and false apostles promote that which contradicts such cardinal doctrines such as salvation by faith alone in the finished work of Christ; the deity and lordship of Jesus over all; the need for all people to go through Jesus for eternal salvation; the reality of heaven, hell and eternity; the triune Godhead of Father, Son and Holy Spirit and more. An apostolic leader who deviates from any of the cardinal doctrines is a false apostle. Paul even said that if we or an angel preach any other gospel than the one they originally received, let them be eternally condemned (Gal. 1). May the church have the courage to test those who claim to be apostles so we can discern between the true and the false so we can bless, build and protect the body of Christ. http://dlvr.it/QY5FRg

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Luke 6:37-38: "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you." http://dlvr.it/QY2qXk

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Fun Contemporary Trends in Church Names: Remember when denominational names were en vogue? Remember when you could figure out which denominational church came to the city first: First Methodist; First Baptist; First Presbyterian? Remember when you could tell two churches that split: Harmony Baptist Church and Greater Harmony Baptist Church? Those days are gone. But what has not changed is that many churches have commonalities in names. In their attempts to be different, they have become common. I went to social media and to Church Answers to learn from my community about church names. Their responses were both fascinating and funny. * "Point" has become ubiquitous. LifePoint. CrossPoint. Add an "e" to be fancy: GracePointe; LifePointe; CrossPointe. * "Life" has a new life: Life Church; Real Life; New Life; LifePoint or LifePointe (see above). * Tim Keller put Redeemer back into vogue. Both Redeemer and Redemption get a lot of love. * City Church, usually with another name in front of it. These churches can be found in the city, suburbs and the country. * Christ Church. It's simple and popular. * Five biggies the past ten years: Journey, Bridge, Foundry, Mosaic and Generation. * Cross has made a surge. Cross Church. Cross Fellowship. Cross Roads. CrossPoint or CrossPointe (see above). * Simple Church. Sorry, that was a book (available at LifeWay.com). * Meaningful names. Impact. Potential. Epic. Transformation. Renovation. Innovate. * Fellowship can be found in almost any town. It usually has other words, but sometimes it's just Fellowship Church. * Grace. Especially in the Reformed churches. * Many churches like the new factor: New Life. New Hope. New Song. New Now (I made up that one). NewPoint. NewPointe (see above). * Moving on up. Elevate. Vertical. Summit. * Not English. Pick a Greek or Latin name you remember from seminary. Eklessia. Ecclessia. Koinonia. Agape. Many others. What are some contemporary church names you could add? Got any funny examples? Let me hear from you. {eoa} Thom S. Rainer is the president of LifeWay Christian Resources. This article originally appeared at thomrainer.com. http://dlvr.it/QXyPW0
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Ocho razones por las cuales el Sudario de Turín podría ser el paño del entierro de Jesús: Por Brian Chilton El Sudario de Turín es probablemente uno de los artefactos más controversiales de todos los tiempos. Es ya sea una de las reliquias santas más increíbles relacionadas a Jesús de Nazaret o es uno de los fraudes más ingeniosos que se haya inventado. El Sudario de Turín es un paño de lino […] The post Ocho razones por las cuales el Sudario de Turín podría ser el paño del entierro de Jesús appeared first on Cross Examined - Christian Apologetic Ministry | Frank Turek | Christian Apologetics | Christian Apologetics Speakers. http://dlvr.it/QXxcv2

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Kindle Deals in Christian Apologetics: Top Ten Best-Sellers of the Week!: Follow @Kindle4Christ Mouse over for pricing; click thumbnail for book description and ordering info; scroll down for full text listing: Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World by Josh McDowell & Sean McDowell $3.99 Reasons for Belief: Easy-to-Understand Answers to 10 Essential Questions by Norman Geisler $1.59 When God Goes to Starbucks: A Guide to Everyday Apologetics by Paul Copan $1.99 The Case for Grace: A Journalist Explores the Evidence of Transformed Lives by Lee Strobel $2.99 The End of Reason: A Response to the New Atheists by Ravi Zacharias $2.99 Evidence for the Resurrection: What... http://dlvr.it/QXwYll

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Have You Ever Fallen Into These Habits That Do More Spiritual Harm Than Good?: The minimum wage is an example of a misguided policy which does more harm than good, even if it was implemented with the best of intentions. For more than 200 years, the majority of economists have recognized that a mandated minimum wage, which is higher than the market rate, harms workers, businesses and the public. Unemployment increases. Businesses raise prices, reduce costs, substitute capital for labor, move and go out of business. The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, which means that everyone must pay their workers at least $7.25. However, many states and cities have minimum rates which are higher than the federally mandated level. In 2018 alone, 18 states raised their minimum wage rates. San Francisco is scheduled to have a rate of $15 per hour on July 1, 2018. Other states and cities have passed laws which will incrementally increase their minimum wage rates to $15; most by 2022 or 2023. When a state or city raises their minimum wage rate, businesses must scramble and reevaluate their situation. Is their current business model viable? Will customers accept higher prices and/or lower service from fewer employees? Are robots viable? Do they need to move? Should they close their business? Employees that keep their jobs benefit from higher wages. Workers who lose their jobs and the public that pays higher prices or loses services are worse off. The extent of the adjustment depends on the size of the increase in the mandated wage rate. A recently released study by David Neumark and Brittany Bass of the University of California-Irvine and Brian Asquith of the NBER shed light on the minimum wage and welfare benefits. The researchers found that, "each $1 increase in the minimum wage has, in disadvantaged neighborhoods over the past three decades, increased poverty rates and the receipt of public assistance by roughly three percent." They also found that the long-term effect of more generous welfare benefits is to increase poverty and the receipt of public assistance. Even though the legislators passing and implementing a minimum wage policy may have pure motives, the results are counterproductive. Decades of research have shown higher minimum wages result in higher unemployment, a less stable and possibly less viable business community and higher prices, fewer services and/or less choice for consumers. Policy-makers should ensure that they do no harm. As believers, we should do our best not to cause harm. The majority of Christians will not cause harm to others on purpose. However, harm is often unintentional. Actions cause consequences. Unintended consequences may cause unintended harm. Some of our actions as church leaders that can cause unintentional harm are listed below. * We may dilute our messages so fewer people feel threatened. Unintended harm: lives are more open to deception, believers fail to mature, more want-to-be disciples fail to experience the fruitful life He promises and/or fewer people come to a saving knowledge of Jesus. * To increase church rolls, we invite all who believe in Jesus to join our church even if they have core theological errors. We sometimes think their beliefs will become more biblical after they have been members for a while. Unintended harm: they may lead others astray with their beliefs and/or others who know them may judge your church's doctrines with their beliefs. * We ignore open and blatant sin in the church. We pray they will change. Unintended harm: Others mistake our inaction as approval of the sin, and/or the offender may encourage others to sin. * We use the Bible to teach the dangers of sin and the need for holiness. Unintended harm: this true message can cause hopelessness unless paired with the solution. Jesus is the solution, and the cross is the answer. The sheep need to be taught the benefits of the cross through faith and repentance. * We provide material assistance. Unintended harm: can enable and create dependency. In addition to immediate help, we need to be able to minister to their spiritual needs and direct the individuals toward additional material solutions. Although many churches do not have the resources to provide all solutions, all should be able to at least direct the person to further help. As Christians, there are untold ways to unintentionally harm others. We can cause harm with too much help or too little help; with too much advice or too little advice; with too much listening or too little listening; with too much direction or too little direction; and with too much correction or too little correction If we sincerely do not want to cause harm to others, how do we do it? We do it by allowing the Spirit of Christ to flow through us like rivers of living waters flowing from our innermost being. Many people have strong beliefs about the Holy Spirit. Some believe that the Holy Spirit's role and functions are the same as in the early church, and others believe His gifts and miracles are only for the past. Most ministers will not speak against Him, but some do not actively seek or teach about the Spirit. The unintended consequence of this neglect is that their families, church and communities are harmed because they do not experience the full power, compassion and guidance of the Spirit, whom Jesus died to send us. Do no harm. "Those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be conceited, provoking one another and envying one another" (Gal. 5:24-26). {eoa} Dr. James Russell is a professor of economics at Oral Roberts University. http://dlvr.it/QXwHnZ

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An Encounter With Jehovah’s Witnesses: By Terrell Clemmons It was a bright and cold December morning, and I was up to my elbows in bread dough when my doorbell rang. The dog barked at full volume, and my preschool daughter zipped past me as I brushed the flour from my hands and followed her to the door. There waited a tall, […] The post An Encounter With Jehovah’s Witnesses appeared first on Cross Examined - Christian Apologetic Ministry | Frank Turek | Christian Apologetics | Christian Apologetics Speakers. http://dlvr.it/QXs4MP

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5 Keys To A Respectful And Persuasive Conversation: By Michael C. Sherrard You can have respectful and persuasive conversations about controversial issues like politics, morality, and even religion if you check your P.U.L.S.E. When you feel yourself getting angry and sense the conversation is ready to spiral out of control, ask yourself these five questions: Am I being too Preachy? Am I Using good questions? […] The post 5 Keys To A Respectful And Persuasive Conversation appeared first on Cross Examined - Christian Apologetic Ministry | Frank Turek | Christian Apologetics | Christian Apologetics Speakers. http://dlvr.it/QXs0Rr
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