salvation

Dear Atheists, Please Don’t Lie to Your Children

It’s none of my business what atheists teach their children, I know. And I have enough to do rearing my own five sons. But occasionally one will hear advice so bad it must be answered. In this case, the advice is for atheists to “lie” to their children about the existence of God. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal psychoanalyst Erica Komisar notes upward rates of anxiety and depression among children and adolescents and argues that much of this can be explained by the decline of religious observance.  And she has the data to back up her claims—showing how belonging in a religious community lowers risks for mental illness. She further expresses alarm at the fact that the last 20 years have seen a 20 percent drop in attendance of religious services and that nearly half of under...

A Prayer for Grieving at Christmas – Your Daily Prayer – December 18

A Prayer for Grieving at ChristmasBy: Dena Johnson “The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.” – John 10:10 NASB I’ve spent the last eight months doing everything I can to keep my faith strong, to trust God. But this week, I am losing the battle. I am collapsing under the weight of this year. The last few days, I find myself simply falling apart. I can’t hold back the tears another moment. I can’t put a smile on my face and pretend I am doing just fine. I can’t hold in the grief that is filling every inch of my being. Perhaps you understand. Perhaps you too feel as if this year has been a nightmare, destroying your peace and security. Perhaps you feel as if your very life is crumbling, collapsing. Perhaps you c...

God Is Our Wonderful Counselor – Crosswalk Couples Devotional – December 17

God Is Our Wonderful CounselorBy: Gina Smith Some friends were having challenges in their marriage and asked if they could come over to talk with me and my husband. We were happy to meet with them and prayed for God to give us the words He knew they would need to hear. After they shared with us some of the struggles that they were facing in their marriage, we began to remind them of what they already knew – that God has given us everything we need to have victory in the battles that we face in our marriage relationship. In Isaiah chapter 6, when Isaiah announces the birth of the promised King, he is announcing the birth of the one who would help and sustain us through dark times. This announcement of the king uses four significant and important names. The first name he used was the name: “...

On Mission for Christmas (2019)

There are several “sayings” I find myself repeating to the staff and leaders of our church: “If you think the mission is competing with other churches, you need mission lessons.” “A hundred churches could open their doors within a mile of our campus and it wouldn’t matter. We’re not after the person who is looking for a church. We’re after the person who doesn’t even like churches.” “We would be so much bigger if we were after transfer growth. Transfer growth is easy. Just offer the biggest, best, glitziest services and programs you can that are totally designed to meet the felt needs of the already convinced.” “It’s one thing to lure someone who wants to fly from Charlotte to Miami to use your airline. Just offer the cheapest, most convenient, highest-value service. They’re making a decis...

A Father’s Prayer for His Daughter – Your Daily Prayer – December 16

A Father’s Prayer for His DaughterBy: Brent Rinehart “Behold, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate.” (Psalm 127:3-5) The father-daughter relationship is particularly important. According to the Institute for Family Studies, well-fathered daughters are more likely to graduate from college, get higher paying jobs, are more self-disciplined and confident, and are less likely to become sexual active or pregnant in their early teenage years. How do we even begin to ensure our daughters are “well-fathered”? Well, it begins with being pre...

Is Anxiety a Sin? What the Bible Says about Anxiety

Murder, anger, gossip, lies, stealing, adultery, are all sins. Most believers would agree these are obvious on the list of bad things we shouldn’t practice. But what about the subtle habits of the mind, such as anxiety? Is it a sin? It’s a great question since many have and deal with anxiety. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America estimates that 40 million adults or 18.1% of the population have an anxiety disorder.  What Is Sin? First, let’s look at what the word “sin” means. Merriam Webster Dictionary defines it as “a vitiated (spoiled or corrupt) state of human nature in which the self is estranged from God.” In other words, sin is separation from God, even if only momentarily. Billy Graham once said, “A sin is any thought or action that falls short of God’s will. God is ...

A Prayer to Our Prince of Peace – Your Daily Prayer – December 14

A Prayer to Our Prince of Peace By: Lisa Appelo “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him — the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD.” Isaiah 11:1-2 [NIV] This passage talks about stumps and shoots. We have several big oak trees in our yard and when one of them started endangering the house, we had it cut all the way down to a stump. A few months later? New green shoots with glossy green leaves began growing right out of that stump.   That’s the picture that the prophet Isaiah uses. Seven hundred years before Jesus was ever born, Isaiah prophesied that a Messiah would come from the root of Jesse. Je...

What Does it Mean to Bless God?

To bless the Lord means to praise, exalt, and worship the Lord God. The Psalms says to bless the Lord for:  The Lord Alone Is Deserving of Worship Christians offer praise to the Lord because He alone deserves all worship. To bless the Lord is done out of understanding that He alone is genuinely deserving of worship as Creator and Lord.  The Lord is glorified when His people bless, praise, and acknowledge Him. Such acknowledgment is what humanity was created for. No man can bless the Lord unless they have been made right with God through Christ alone. Only as God has blessed sinners in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 1:3) can they bless the Lord in a manner that pleases Him.  Examples of How the Bible Speaks of Blessing The Hebrew word translated to “bless” in the Old Testamen...

The Joyous Paradox of Advent – Crosswalk the Devotional – December 13

The Joyous Paradox of Advent by Katherine Britton “Come, Thou long-expected JesusBorn to set Thy people free…Dear Desire of every nation,Joy of every longing heart” “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.” – Luke 12:35-36 Like so many Christian doctrines, the Advent season represents a bit of a paradox. I have to thank my colleague Sarah Phillips for expanding my understanding of the tradition, as the three purple candles and one pink candle were mostly a Christmas countdown to me. But Advent has a greater richness if we have eyes to see. I found a parallel to the Advent paradox on a ...

13 Things You’ll Never Hear an Unchurched Person Say

In talking about the pros and cons of “celebrity pastor” culture, my friend Carey Nieuwhof quipped that one thing you’ll never hear is an unchurched person sitting around evaluating preachers. “Comparing preachers is something churched people do, not unchurched people.” He’s right, of course. And he also noted why it’s a silly thing to be concerned about, much less competitive about, in light of reaching the unchurched. An unchurched person comes to a church not because of a celebrity pastor (They don’t know any of them, and if they do it’s usually not a positive assessment.), but because a friend invited them. And then, when they do come, they do not think about or evaluate things the way a churched believer might. So just for fun, here are 12 more things you’ll never catch an unchurched ...

It Takes a Village to Create a Strong Marriage – Crosswalk Couples Devotional – December 12

It Takes a Village to Create a Strong MarriageBy: Amanda Idleman   Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. – Hebrews 10:24-25 We all have heard the “it takes a village” saying when it comes to kids. The same is true for strong, healthy, and Godly marriages. Accountability is vital to a healthy marriage. Strong role models of what marriage should be are extremely valuable. We need encouragement from others when we walk through hard seasons and it’s important that our community be one that reminds us that the mission of marriage is to do daily acts of love and good works for your spouse. How many ...

​​​​Is it Immanuel or Emmanuel? Biblical Meaning and Significance

‘Tis the season to sing Christmas carols and one term is found in many. Immanuel. But then there’s also Emmanuel. Why? Are these two the same or distinctively different? If they’re the same, then why are they spelled two different ways? It can be confusing. To get to the bottom of this question we’ll take a deeper look. Biblical Origin Both Immanuel and Emmanuel are found in the Bible. The Old Testament is originally recorded in Hebrew and Chaldean/Aramaic. The New Testament is originally recorded in Greek.  Typically, Immanuel is found in the Old Testament and Emmanuel is found in the New Testament. Here are the two verses where they’re found. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel (Isa...