Fisher of Men

The Death of Religious Liberty

Anyone who still doubts that the normalization of homosexuality and the legalization of same-sex marriage will represent a seismic shift in the culture at large needs only to look to New Mexico to see that nothing less than religious liberty is now under threat — and in a big way. Jonathan and Elaine Huguenin are the owners of Elane Photography, a firm that operates as a commercial photographic studio. Elaine is the lead photographer and the Huguenins together run the business. In 2006, the couple refused to photograph a same-sex couple’s commitment ceremony and were sued. Last week the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that the Huguenins had violated the human rights of the same-sex couple and that the First Amendment does not allow Elane Photography to refuse to photograph same-sex unions. ...

3 Surprising Ways We Grieve the Spirit

The Holy Spirit is often described as light. He shines into the dark places of the heart and convicts us of sin (John 16:7-11). He is a lamp to illumine God’s word, teaching what is true and showing the truth to be precious (1 Cor. 2:6-16). And the Spirit throws a spotlight on Christ so that we can see his glory and be changed (John 16:14). That’s why 2 Corinthians 3:18 speaks of becoming more like Christ by beholding the glory of Christ. Just as Moses had his face transfigured when he saw the Lord’s glory on Mount Sinai (Ex. 34:29; 2 Cor. 3:7), so will we be transformed when, by the Spirit, we behold God’s glory in the face of Christ. The Spirit, then, is a light to us in three ways: by exposing our guilt, by illuminating the word of God, and by showing us Christ. Or to put...

Do You Pray?

“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”  –Luke 11:9, NIV Do you pray?   J.C. Ryle, a prominent Anglican clergyman in 19th-century Britain, said that there is no duty in religion so neglected as private prayer. I’m sure that many of us would agree; of all the spiritual disciplines, prayer is often the hardest habit to form and one that is most quickly broken. However, we should strive to pray regularly, because prayer is incredibly important. Here are 5 of Ryle’s reasons for why prayer is such a crucial habit for you to establish: 1.     A habit of prayer is one of the surest marks of a true Christian.  The greatest heroes and heroines of the Bible o...

Depending on the Holy Spirit

We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord and giver of life. But though we are orthodox in our creeds, I wonder if we truly realize how absolutely dependent on the Spirit we really are? I’m struck by the pervasive presence of the Spirit in the New Testament.[i] The Holy Spirit was intimately connected with Jesus throughout his entire life. Prior to Jesus’ virginal conception an angel said to Mary, “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (Luke 1:35; cf. Matt. 1:18, 20). When Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River, the Father anointed him with the Spirit (Matt. 3:16; Mark 1:10; Luke 3:22). Then Jesus was immediately driven into the wilderness by the Spirit for a season of testing (Matt. 4:1; Mark 1:12; Luke 4:1). Luke says th...

What Kind of Trial Are You Going Through?

When disaster strikes, Americans run to God in heaps. According to a Lifeway Research survey conducted in May 2013 after the Oklahoma tornado tragedy, approximately six in 10 Americans (57 percent) agreed that they had a greater interest in God. Studies like this are useful and only confirm what we already know to be fact. During tragedies, masses flock to God. Communities gather for prayer rallies. Television programming, usually reserved for sitcoms, is transformed into special coverage highlighting vigils, ceremonies, and prayers ending in “the name of Jesus.” The Trial of Adversity Trials of adversity bring us to our knees and to our Comforter. I know this to be true in my own life. When troubles are many, my face is to the ground, my Bible is worn, and my prayers are overflowing. But ...

Are You a Good Steward of the Gospel?

Stewardship is an important biblical word and vital Christian concept. Unfortunately, we usually think it refers only to money. A steward is one who has been given the responsibility to manage or care for someone or something. He’s not the owner. The steward is simply the caretaker. He’s the manager of property belonging to another. As a result, the steward is accountable to the actual owner. The Bible says that God is the owner of everything and that he gives humanity a stewardship to care for and manage his gifts. Our lives are to be comprehensively God-Centered. God owns everything. We do not. Everything is ultimately for God, not us. In theory, this all sounds right and good. Few Christians would dispute it. However, the issue of stewardship being lived out is ...

Why Are We Guilty of ‘Original Sin?’

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What Forgiveness Requires

Forgiveness is an investment in your relationship with God and in your relationship with others. As with all investments, there’s cost involved. In any investment you make, your concern is that the return will be greater than the cost. So it’s important to consider the requirements of forgiveness for you and your relationships. 1) Forgiveness requires humility. It’s only when we really do believe that life is bigger than us, that there’s something more important than our wants, needs, and feelings, and that we’ve been given life and breath for the purposes, plans, and praise of Another, that we’ll be willing to forgive. When we stand in the center of our own universe with nothing more important to us than ourselves, we find nothing more offensive than a sin against us. Or when pride allows...

Dark Ages? What Dark Ages?

I have written before about why we need to eliminate the idea of a “Golden Age” of Christianity, a time when the church was nearly perfect, an era that we just need to imitate if we want to create healthier churches today. And, after a few minutes reflection, most people accept that every generation had its flaws and foibles. We learn from them not because they were perfect but because they walked before us and modeled how to live faithfully in the midst of a horribly broken world. But many still want to hold on to the Golden Age’s evil twin brother: the Dark Age, an age where the church was so fallen and its understanding of the truth so twisted that we have virtually nothing to learn from those who lived through those dismal days. An age when the lights went out, l...

Do You Really Want God’s Will or Your Own?

Not long ago, a friend of mine made a major decision that eventually led to the breakup of his family. I spoke with the friend about the wrong thinking that was controlling his actions. His reply was the common Christian retort: “Well, I’ve prayed, and I have peace about it.” I was shocked by his response. I could not see how a mature believer could claim, that as an answer to prayers for wisdom needed in a tough situation, the Lord had supplied “peace” toward a course of action that was in contradiction to the Scriptures. The Lord intends for believers to enjoy peace in many areas. Christ, through his death and resurrection, removes God’s enmity with us—we have peace with God (Rom. 5:1). In Christ, the Lord destroyed barriers that limited fellowship between Jew and Gentiles—he provided pe...

Should a Christian Attend a Same-Sex Wedding?

Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara attended a wedding a few days ago, and it made national news. According to The Washington Post, the elder Bushes attended the wedding of Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, held at Kennebunkport, Maine. The two lesbians, co-owners of a general store in neighboring Kennebunk, were married in an outdoor celebration attended by family and friends. The 41st President of the United States was present, along with the former First Lady. Bonnie Clement told The Washington Post, “Who would be best to acknowledge the importance of our wedding as our friends and as the former leader of the free world? When they agreed to do so we just felt that it was the next acknowledgement of being ‘real and normal.’” As it turns out, President...

A Resurrected Servant

A scholar friend of mine once remarked, “I must confess: if there is anything that convinces me that the Bible is inspired, and from God, it is Isaiah 53.” Isaiah 52:13–53:12 comes out of nowhere. There is no precedent for an innocent servant of God suffering and dying for the iniquities of others. It is shocking, graphic and brutal, yet profound. Yet Yahweh was pleased to crush him; he afflicted [him] (with sickness). If she (or you) places his life a guilt offering, he will see offspring, he will prolong days and the will of Yahweh will succeed in his hand. From the trouble of his life, he will see light.1 He will be satisfied. In his knowledge, my righteous servant shall make many righteous and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will divide to him [a portion] among the many, and...