Reformation Pratum: All for His Glory

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October 26-27, 2018

Emmanuel Bible Church

We often forget what society and church life was like before 1517.  We also forget how much the changes from the 16th century still influence our lives today.  Reformation Pratum: All for His Glory will focus on how the Reformation fundamentally changed so much of our understanding of faith and society.  We will look at the history and theology of grace, worship, vocation, family and marriage, and assurance.  All ages are invited to attend, as we will have a simultaneous conference for kids 3 years old through 6th grade.  Nursery is also provided.  The cost is free.

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Friday, 5:30-9:00 PM

The Right Time

In God’s Providence, He brought about great changes to the church and to society through the work of Martin Luther and other reformers of the 16th century.  Brett Davisson of Emmanuel Bible Church will begin the conference by setting the historical stage for how and why the Reformation was so radical.

A Restored View of the Family

 The medieval church developed a view of the family, and especially marriage, that greatly needed reforming. Dave Leandre of Living Water Church will examine how the Reformation brought about the affirmation that marriage was good, children were a blessing, and husbands and wives had different roles but equal standing before God.

A Theology of Grace

 How do we receive God’s grace?  How do we stay in His grace?  Andrew Murch of Northwest Gospel Church will explore this central theology of the Reformation, discussing the life-changing theology that celebrates the blessing that Christ’s righteousness is credited to our account.

Saturday, 8:30-12:00 AM

Sing to the Lord a New Song

     If we thought we had disagreements over how to structure the worship service, it was nothing compared to what happened during the Reformation.  Although the reformers had differing opinions about this matter, they all sought to retrieve from Scripture what faithful worship looked like.  Vladimir Mitsuk of Grace Bible Church will explain how the medieval modes of worship gave way to congregational singing, a proper understanding of the sacraments, and the centrality of the preached Word.

How Then Should We Work?

     Before the Reformation there was a definite sacred/secular divide when it came to work.  There were those who ruled, those who prayed, and those who worked.  Only those who worked in the church realm were considered to be participating in spiritual work.  Michael Tourtellotte of Emmanuel Bible Church will explore the radical shift in thinking about how one’s vocation can be redeemed for God’s glory.

Christian Assurance

Some historians have noted that the Catholic Church may have considered the doctrine of assurance that the reformers promoted to be more dangerous than any other.  Stan Myers of Emmanuel Bible Church will wrap up the conference focusing on the promise of God: that if you are truly saved it is your privilege as a believer to have assurance, not in your works, but in the finished work of Christ.

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Our Verseless Bibles

Published by Stand to Reason on 09/25/2018

Written by Greg Koukl

First, a definition. A “verse” is a passage of Scripture distinguished from other passages of Scripture by a numerical address (e.g., John 3:16, famously). Those numbers, though, were not in the original, but were inserted nearly sixteen centuries later by French printer Robert Stephanus in 1551.
Beware the Numbers

There’s good news and bad news about verse numbers. The good news is it’s easier to find stuff. The bad news is it’s easier to get stuff wrong. Verse numbers tempt readers to take a passage as a collection of discrete statements having meaning and application in isolation from the larger work (“How does this verse apply to my life?”).

Take a verse like “The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent” (Ex. 14:14). It wasn’t meant by Moses as a stand-alone promise. Sure, the Red Sea narrative has plenty of relevance for New Testament believers, but this individual verse has no application to any Christian isolated from its context. Simply put, it’s not our promise.

In fact, standing on their own, most “verses” have absolutely no application to anyone’s life. That’s because most of the time the precise point of a verse cannot be found in the verse itself but in the relationship of that verse to verses above and below it. We can’t simply isolate a line or two and ask, “How can I stick this line into my life?”

Here’s why. God did not give us 66 books of short, pithy sayings to be applied piecemeal to our lives (with a few exceptions, e.g., much of Proverbs). Most of Scripture is narrative—story. Most of the rest—NT epistles, for example—is argument (making a case) or instruction. Each of these—narrative, argument, instruction—involves a flow of thought within the passage from the larger part to the smaller part.

Chapters help us understand a paragraph’s role in the larger narrative. Paragraphs help us understand what a sentence means. Sentences help us understand individual word meanings. The account taken as a whole, then, has instructive value, not necessarily a verse standing by itself. That’s why at Stand to Reason we follow the rule “Never read a Bible verse.” Always read a paragraph (at least) before drawing conclusions about meaning.
Beware Section Headings

The same warning goes for section titles added by Bible editors. Headings can be helpful, but they can be harmful, too, by severing material from the larger flow of thought that’s important to the meaning of a passage the heading has now isolated.

Take Jesus’ teaching on the Good Samaritan. Read Luke 10:30–37 without reading the six verses that precede the heading “The Good Samaritan” that you’ll find in some Bibles, and you’ll miss why Jesus told the Samaritan tale in the first place. Which means you’ll completely miss the point of the parable—and most do (hint: it’s not about loving your enemy)—because Jesus’ main point hinges on a critical phrase in verse 29.
Start Big, Then Get Small

So, beware. A really good idea almost five centuries ago had a bad consequence that can sabotage your understanding of Scripture. I suggest you ignore the artificial divisions (chapters, verses, headings) and focus on the larger narrative, argument, or instruction. Start big, then get small. Look at the larger flow of thought, then zoom in on the particulars.

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“Why I Believe the Bible” by Voddie Baucham

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The Five Key Factors in Every Christian’s Sanctification

taken from challies.com

Growth in Christlikeness is a lifelong, active progression. We are holier on the day we die than we were on the day we came to Christ. We are holier on the day we die than we are on the day before we die. Yet this long progression is peppered with seasonal lulls, drudgery, and complacency. We know we are never as Christlike as we ought to be or even as we want to be. Yet while our lack of holiness ought to motivate greater effort in godliness, we often allow it to contribute to discouragement, laziness and apathy. Sanctification is a tricky business.

How does God go about this work of sanctification? David Powlison helpfully narrows it down to five means or five streams through which God pours out his sanctifying grace. These factors work in tandem, each one contributing to our lifelong gain in godliness.

God Changes You

God changes you. He sovereignly and sometimes invisibly intervenes and interferes in your life to help you grow in holiness. This may be the most obvious means, but your natural atheistic bent paired with your inclination for self-glory threatens to lead you to forget or dismiss its importance. Your sanctification would not be possible without God first intervening to make the gospel beautiful to your darkened heart and mind. You cannot will yourself to see when you have been blind from birth. In the same way, you cannot make yourself alive in Christ when you are dead in sin.

Conversion is only one example of God’s sovereign interference. When you call upon him to be your Lord, you must welcome his permanent and perfect interference throughout the course of your life. You must remember that your sanctification too depends on him, “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

Truth Changes You

God chooses to work in harmony with a book, his book. Romans 15:4 shows this interplay between God and God’s Word: “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” Yet in verse 13, Paul prays, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” The Scripture gives hope because its author is the God and giver of hope.

The Bible is “perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple” (Psalm 19:7). An unconverted mind may glean wisdom from its proverbial truths and even this can result in behavioural changes. But Christians drink from its words because they are indwelled by God’s Spirit and they desire to hear God’s voice. This, too, should result in behavioural changes, and changes of a much better and deeper nature. God’s truth transforms you as you read, ponder, understand, and obey his Word.

Wise People Change You

At a most basic level, you cannot know the gospel unless it comes to you. You came to faith because someone shared the gospel with you: “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?” (Romans 10:14). Soon after, I hope, you became a part of a church family. It is, after all, in this corporate setting that God dispenses grace through the ordinary means of grace. No man or woman is meant to be an island.

Proverbs 13:20 admonishes us to walk with wise people, for then we become wise. Conversely, the companion of fools becomes foolish. I hope you are acquainted with the sweet blessing of Christian friendship. God calls us to rebuke, to encourage, to confess our sins, to disciple, and to comfort one another in affliction. As we do that, we change each other. Perpetual isolation will keep you from one of God’s great means of sanctification.

Suffering and Struggle Change You

If even Christ “learned obedience through what he suffered” (Hebrews 5:8), how much more are you changed by suffering and struggle? Think about doctrines that became dearer to you in the darkest nights of your soul. Think about the lessons you learned in your toughest trials. Suffering and struggle necessitate God’s grace in your life in a way that ease does not.

Much of your suffering is a result of your inner darkness, and the evil in others. As you wait with expectation for your complete sanctification, your sinful nature keeps you bent towards evil, and this often opens a door to suffering. Other times, it is the result of uncontrollable circumstances, of loss, of physical deterioration, of persecution, or of the harmful effects of someone else’s sin. We live in a decadent world where trouble abounds. But suffering is never without cause, for we know “suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4). God changes us through every struggle and every moment of suffering.

You Change

Suffering, wise people, truth, and the sovereign work of God must be joined with your willful and constant repentance. You resist sanctification when you are passive and unresponsive to these four factors. You are called to be both a hearer and a doer of the Word. If someone gently rebukes you for sin, you ought to choose to repent and change. In the face of suffering, you have the choice to give in to the temptation to mental doom or to find hope in God. When you believed upon the Lord, “You turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God” (1 Thessalonians 1:9). But even your repentance is an outworking of God’s power in you.

Rather than resisting, enter into the current of God’s sanctifying work and see the Lord’s power reveal itself in all the ways God, truth, people, and struggle change you as you respond in continual obedience and continual repentance.

These points were drawn from How Does Sanctification Work? by David Powlison.

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7 Marks of a False Teacher

taken from challies.com

No one enriches hell more than false teachers. No one finds greater joy in drawing people away from truth and leading them into error. False teachers have been present in every era of human history, they have always been a plague and have always been in the business of providing counterfeit truth. While their circumstances may change, their methods remain consistent.

Here are seven marks of false teachers.

1False teachers are man pleasers. What they teach is meant to please the ear more than profit the heart. They tickle the ears of their followers with flattery and all the while they treat holy things with wit and carelessness rather than reverence and awe. This contrasts sharply with a true teacher of the Word who knows that he is answerable to God and who is therefore far more eager to please God than men. As Paul would say, “But just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts” (1 Thes. 2:4).

2False teachers save their harshest criticism for God’s most faithful servants. False teachers criticize those who teach the truth, and save their sharpest criticism for those who hold most steadfastly to what is true. We see this in many places in the Bible, such as when Korah and his friends rose up against Moses and Aaron (Num. 16:3) and when Paul’s ministry was threatened and undermined by those critics who said that while his words were strong, he himself was weak and unimportant (2 Cor. 10:10). We see it most notably in the vicious attacks of the religious authorities against Jesus. False teachers continue to rebuke and belittle God’s faithful servants today. Yet, as Augustine declared, “He that willingly takes from my good name, unwillingly adds to my reward.”

False teachers teach their own wisdom and vision. This was certainly true in the days of Jeremiah when God would say, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds” (Jer. 14:14). And today, too, false teachers teach the foolishness of mere men instead of teaching the deeper, richer wisdom of God. Paul knew, “the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Tim. 4:3).

4False teachers miss what is of central importance and focus instead on the small details. Jesus diagnosed this very tendency in the false teachers of his day, warning them, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you tithe mint and dill and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others” (Matt. 23:23). False teachers place great emphasis on their adherence to the smaller commands even as they ignore the greater ones. Paul warned Timothy of the one who “is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain” (1 Tim. 6:4-5).

5False teachers obscure their false doctrine behind eloquent speech and what appears to be impressive logic. Just as a prostitute paints and perfumes herself to appear more attractive and more alluring, the false teacher hides his blasphemies and dangerous doctrine behind powerful arguments and eloquent use of language. He offers to his listeners the spiritual equivalent of a poisonous pill coated in gold; though it may appear beautiful and valuable, it is still deadly.

6False teachers are more concerned with winning others to their opinions than in helping and bettering them. This was another of Jesus’ diagnoses as he considered the religious rulers of his day. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across sea and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves” (Matt 23:15). False teachers are ultimately not in the business of bettering lives and saving souls, but of convincing minds and winning followers.

7False teachers exploit their followers. Peter would warn of this danger, saying: “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. … And in their greed they will exploit you with false words” (1 Peter 2:1-3). The false teachers exploit those who follow them because they are greedy and desire the riches of this world. This being true, will always teach principles that indulge the flesh. False teachers are concerned with your goods, not your good; they want to serve themselves more than save the lost; they are content for Satan to have your soul as long as they can have your stuff.

Tim Challies

Inspired by Shai Linne and Appendix II of Thomas Brook’s Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices.

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Redeem Your Time

taken from challies.com

Is there anything more tragic than time? Is there anything that brings about deeper grief than seeing time pass us by, than acknowledging how much has already elapsed and how little remains? We who were made to live forever are now given a mere “threescore years and ten” (Psalm 90:10) before we are gone. “If a person lives many years, let him rejoice in them all,” says wise old Solomon, “but let him remember that the days of darkness will be many. All that comes is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 11:8).

Christian men, you have been given a race to run, and you have been called to run to win. At times this race will seem like a marathon and at times a sprint. During times of sorrow or adversity, the days may seem to drag, each one bearing the weight of a lifetime, grueling days giving way to long, sleepless nights. But during times of joy the days will fly by, and you will marvel at how quickly time has passed. An Olympic sprinter spends years in training to prepare for an event that is over in 10 seconds. At times it will seem like your life has gone by just as quickly, that the child you were only just cradling in your arms is now holding your arm as you escort her down the aisle. Whether life plods by or speeds by, you are responsible for each moment. If you are going to run to win, you must redeem your time.

Redeem the Time

There is nothing you have that has not been given to you, no good thing you possess that is not a gift of God’s grace. You who deserve nothing but wrath and condemnation have been given innumerable blessings. You are responsible before God to faithfully steward each one of them. If God has given you the blessing of marriage, you must always keep in mind that your wife is first God’s daughter, his creation. Your foremost responsibility is to care for her in a way that honors and pleases the Father. If God has given you children, they are first his children, created in his image and for his glory. The call of the father is to discipline and instruct his children on behalf of God. If God has given you money, it is his money, and you are meant to use it as if God is going to require an accounting for every penny. What is true of a wife and children and money is true of time. Yet, as Donald Whitney says, “If people threw away their money as thoughtlessly as they throw away their time, we would think them insane.”

God has given you the gift of time, and he has given it to you in trust with the expectation that you will use it wisely and that you will diligently commit it to the highest of purposes. When Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, he calls them to live lives of extraordinary holiness, then says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil” (Ephesians 5:15-16). “Making the best use of time” is, more literally, “redeeming the time.” Time must be redeemed by liberating it from useless pursuits and dedicating it to the highest purposes. Time is laid out before you, and it must be grasped, it must be seized from all the ignoble purposes that could otherwise steal and waste it. You relate to time well when you understand it as a precious gift to be used, not a valueless possession to be squandered.

God knows the number of years, months, and days he has allocated to you. You cannot add to or take away from them. But what you can do in greater or lesser measure is put that time to use. While still a young man, Jonathan Edwards resolved “never to lose one moment of time; but improve it the most profitable way I possibly can.” He understood that time had been given to him in trust, and he meant to use it well. He, like the wise and loyal servant in Jesus’ parable of the talents, longed to hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master” (Matthew 25:21).

Time Wasted, Time Redeemed

Time is a gift you are meant to accept and treasure. Yet there are many things competing for your time, many temptations to misuse it. Let’s consider a few common ways time can be wasted.

You waste time in laziness. If Solomon so regularly warned of laziness in his day, how much more do we need to guard against it in a world of endless entertainment and ubiquitous social media? The lazy man is the one who makes any excuse not to work, the one who lies in bed or on the sofa when there is work that needs to be done, the one who begins projects but never brings them to completion, the one who cannot learn because he considers himself surpassingly wise (Proverbs 26:13-16). Your mother may have warned you that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” Behind the cliché is a sober warning, for those who pass their days in idleness are those who practically beg Satan to tempt them to sin.

You waste time in busyness. Busyness is a cousin to laziness and no more noble than its relative. It is a modern-day plague. Even if you reject laziness, you may swing to the opposite pole of busyness, filling your every moment with activity and judging yourself by the number of tasks completed. Today you practically expect that when you ask a friend how he is doing he will reply, “Busy! So busy!” Yet busyness must not be confused with diligence, the number of activities with meaningful accomplishments. God has given you a short little life and expects that, of all the great things you could do, you will identify and pursue the few that matter most. Because there is only so much you can do, diligence and redeeming the time involves saying “no” to a million good opportunities to focus fully on a few excellent ones.

You waste time in spiritual carelessness. It was Martin Luther who famously said his busiest times also needed to be his most prayerful. When responsibilities threatened to overwhelm him, he knew that he was too busy not to pray. You fail to redeem your time when you fail to prioritize your spiritual growth and health. If life is too busy for you to read God’s Word, to spend time in prayer, and to attend the local church, it is far too busy. If you are too unmotivated to commit to such basic disciplines, you are in spiritual peril. Before you do anything else, take a step out from the whirlwind of busyness and reassess your priorities in light of eternity.

You waste time when you do not rest. God himself chose to work for six days, then to rest for one. He did this not because he was worn out, but to set a pattern that we would follow. We are weak and limited creatures who need to rest. Our need for rest requires that we commit enough of our time to sleep and to activities that will refresh our minds and spirits. Rest and recreation are necessary to renew us and to prepare us to diligently carry out the tasks God has assigned to us.

Do It Now

Right now is the time to redeem your time! Consider how you can commit to diligently steward your moments and your days.

  • Pursue and grasp a biblical understanding of productivity. Properly understood, productivity is not “getting lots done” or “getting more done than the other guy.” Productivity is using your gifts, talents, time, energy, and enthusiasm for the good of others and the glory of God. A biblical understanding of productivity will free you from lesser pursuits and help you focus on the ones that matter most.
  • Plan to be disciplined. It is very telling that when we are busy or lazy, the spiritual disciplines tend to be among the first things we neglect. Be sure you plan the time, place, and context in which you will read God’s Word and pray every day. Be sure you prioritize worshipping with the local church and never allow anything to supplant it. And then, once you have put first things first, plan how and when you will do your most meaningful work throughout the week.
  • Resolve to constrain or cut out enemies of your diligence. In our day, there is no shortage of distractions eager to bring you from meaningful labor into meaningless sloth. What needs to be cut out or significantly restricted from your life in order for you to redeem the time? Do you need to limit Netflix time so that you can spend more time connecting with your wife and children? Do you need to delete social media apps that lure you away from diligence throughout the day? If you are going to run to win, you need to remove whatever is slowing you down.
  • Speak to someone who does it well. We have all encountered people who model the faithful use of time. Find one of these people and ask him how and why he does it. Ask for practical pointers on using time diligently.

Run to Win!

You came into this world with nothing and will leave this world with nothing. All that you have between the beginning and the end is a gift of God’s grace, and that includes the little dash on your tombstone. That simple line will represent the time given to you. It was given in trust with the expectation that you would take hold of it and put it to the best and highest use. If you are going to run to win, you must redeem your time.

Tim Challies

see more great content from challies.com

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7 WAYS TO DO POLITICAL PUNDITRY WRONG IN A POLARIZED WORLD

by Kevin DeYoung

It’s all political. All the time.

At least that’s what it feels like. Whether you voted for Trump or loathe him with every last bit of plasma in every drop of blood in your body, it seems like the promise of “moving past this contentious election season,” is not going to materialize. No doubt, your Twitter feed and your Facebook page are as full as ever with political punditry–much of it well intentioned, only some of it well considered. What are we to do as Christians when there is so much we might want to say, and yet, we’d like to say it in a way that makes a difference instead of just making noise?

Perhaps a look at the negative will point us in a positive direction. Let’s briefly consider seven ways to do political punditry wrong in a polarized world.

(And for the record, I started this post last week, so don’t read the executive order on immigration into every point. This post isn’t about one thing, but about everything that grabs our attention in a social culture built on perpetual outrage.)

1. Always defend your side, no matter what. I have no problem with people who don’t feel the need to comment on every twist and turn of American politics (in fact, may your tribe increase!). But if you are in the habit of making your opinions known, and you never find yourself out of step with your party or your preferred President, then you likely aren’t looking closely enough at the issues–theirs and yours.

We have to be honest with ourselves and ask some hard questions: Is my passion to see the kingdom come and the church grow or is it mainly to see my side win elections? Do I think revival and spiritual renewal come mainly through political victories? Am I blinded by disgust for the bad guys (whether that’s Fox News, MSNBC, The New York Times, National Review, Hollywood, flyover country, or whatever) that I’ll defend to the death whatever they seem to be against?

2. Be quick to demonize opponents on the other side. We don’t have disagreements anymore; we only have devils. This means that nominee we oppose or that Senator standing in the way of our position is not simply mistaken (according to our principles) but some toxic combination of ignorant, conniving, and fiendish–a mortal threat to everything that is decent in this world.

3. Make no distinction between prudence and principle. Christians are not very good at this one. Let’s assume for a moment that most people reading this blog think abortion is wrong, racism is wrong, terrorism is wrong, hating Muslims is wrong, and being cold-hearted toward immigrants and refugees is wrong. Those are principles. The vast majority of conservative Christians will at least pay lip service to all of these things; most actually believe them with sincere earnestness. But what does this mean in terms of policies, executive orders, and legislation? Here there may be honest disagreement–not about what is good and true and beautiful for Christians to do and think, but about what is the best way forward, in light of these convictions, in a constitutional republic of 330 million people.

4. Never acknowledge real world trade-offs. In our virtual worlds, there are always clear-cut decisions with obvious goods and obvious evils. Hence, every political issue is a matter of absolute right and absolute wrong. In the real world–and especially in the real world of governing–there are always trade-offs. We have to judge between competing goods, which means we usually have to give something to gain something. It would go a long way toward a more civilized discourse–and we may actually convince a few people on the other side–if we acknowledged that our views are usually not without some difficulties, even if we consider our “losses” superior to the “losses” we would endure with a different policy or opinion.

5. Only speak and write in the highest rhetorical gear. At some point in the future, you may need the Hitler analogy. Don’t waste it on arcane procedures regarding cloture in the Senate. Not all errors are created equal. Break out the diabolical thesaurus only when the time is right.

6. Don’t bother reading up on complex issues. Most of the problems plaguing our country or our world will not be solved by 90 seconds of reflection. We don’t all have to be experts. Sometimes the knee jerk reaction comes from a place of seasoned wisdom and moral formation. But if there were an easy solution to every problem it would have been tried by now–not because we are all saints striving to love one another, but because we love to be first or would enjoy being famous. Go ahead and read a few articles before posting. Check out the actual statement or text of legislation. And when in doubt, let’s all feel free not to say anything at all (!) about a complicated issue that we’ve been thinking about in between Dude Perfect videos.

7. Go public with your thoughts when you are most hurt and most angry. Be slow to speak, quick to listen, and slow to get angry. That’s still in the Bible (James 1:19), and it still counts, even in the internet age. Waiting is often the better part of wisdom.

by Kevin DeYoung – see more at The Gospel Coalition

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