Sermons

“Did God Really Say?” ~ Free Online Conference

Boy howdy, what a treat! Owen Strachan, Justin Peters, Chris Rosebrough, Joshua Rosebrough, and Phil Johnson are all coming together this weekend for a free, online conference.

The Did God Really Say? conference on YouTube “will equip you and your loved ones with the knowledge to see where cultural changes are happening, what those changes mean to average Bible believing Christians and provide you with practical tools to equip you to stand your ground in shifting sands of cultural change.”

Friday, September 17
1:00 – 5:00 p.m. (Central)

Saturday, September 18
11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Central)

Get the schedule and all the details at the conference website, subscribe to the conference YouTube channel, and help keep the conference free and online by donating at the conference GoFundMe page.

Suffering

Erin Coates Interview

Normally, when I feature a full length video in a post, it’s for leisure time entertainment, or maybe it even focuses on something important that you need to educate yourself about.

This time, it’s urgent.

Let me get this part out of the way first because I know some of you, like me, looked at that 3 hour time stamp on the video and your visceral reaction was, “There’s no way I have the time or the attention span to watch all of that.” I get it. But here’s how the video breaks down:

  • Justin Peters’ interview with Erin: About 45 minutes long
  • James Coates’ February 14 sermon: About an hour
  • GraceLife Associate Pastor Jacob Spenst’s February 21 sermon: A little over an hour.

If you read my article from last Friday, 4 Things You Need to Understand About Christian Persecution, or if you’ve been paying attention to Christian news and social media, you’re familiar with the story of Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (And if not, it’s explained in the video.)

I want to urge you to at least listen to the interview with Erin and pray for her, James, their family, and GraceLife, especially today and tomorrow. Thursday is the hearing to determine whether James can bail out of jail without agreeing to the shamefully discriminatory bail conditions that have been put in place. Erin explains more in this Instagram post:

At the end of the interview, Justin asks Erin if there’s anything we outsiders can do to help. Here’s what you can do:

  • Pray
  • Contact Jason Kenney, Premier of Alberta, Canada via phone, mail, email, or via Facebook and Twitter, and request that all charges against James be dropped. Do so kindly and politely. Remember, you are representing Christ. Mention where you’re from. Even if you don’t live in Alberta or anywhere in Canada, the Premier needs to know this is a bad look for Canada in the eyes of a watching world – and so do other world leaders who are undoubtedly watching to see what Canada will do in this case. Never underestimate the power of negative publicity in the hands of an Almighty God.
  • Help get the word out. Share this post with your pastor. Post it on social media and ask all your friends to share. If you have any contacts in the media or anyone with a large platform who could aid in spreading the word, ask that they help shine some light on this situation. The more publicity, the better.
  • Pastors, open your churches. Especially if you’re Alberta. Not only is it obedient to Scripture, can you imagine how encouraging it would be to Pastor James and GraceLife to see other churches and pastors standing in solidarity with them?
  • Keep your mouth shut. I can’t tell you how many horrifying comments I’ve read from professing Christians about this situation. If you can’t be an encouragement to your brother in Christ, just be quiet, and maybe examine yourself against Scripture. I definitely won’t be publishing any comments or reading any emails that are discouraging or critical.

Watch. And pray.

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you…in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

Matthew 25: 37a, 39-40

Random Ramblings Ruminations Resources

Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources

We’ve got to stop meeting like this…only once or twice a year, that is. When I first started 4R, I kind of envisioned it as a four or five times a year feature, and now we’re at about once a year. Well, life happens, I guess.

It’s time for some Random Ramblings, Ruminations, and Resources! Ready, set, go!

#FreeJamesCoates

Have you been following the story of James Coates, Pastor of GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada? He was recently arrested and imprisoned for obeying God rather than men by refusing to stop holding church services and refusing to bar those who desperately wanted to attend from coming in to worship, among other official Covid-related reasons that were given. The restrictions on gathering in that particular are are so strict they have effectively shuttered churches. (No, they cannot hold services outside {Have you ever been to Canada in February? I haven’t, and even I know that’s a ridiculous suggestion.} No, “online church” is not the same as gathering in person and it is not a biblical long-term substitute for gathering in person.)

I’m not alerting you to this situation in order to debate whether or not James and GLC should have given in to the draconian demands of their local government. (Frankly, I was shocked and downright embarrassed at some of the cruel and critical comments that were made about James and GLC- by people who profess to be Christians – on my social media platforms Wednesday when I posted about this. And after everything I’ve seen in ministry, it takes a lot to shock and embarrass me. Those folks ought to be ashamed of themselves. No such comments will be allowed on this article or my social media platforms. They will be deleted and you will be blocked.)

I’m asking you to pray.

Pray for James, his wife, Erin, and their children, and GLC. (If the name Erin Coates sounds familiar it might be because she was one of my sister speakers at the Open Hearts in a Closed World online conference last summer, and coming up again this summer.)

The elders of GLC have suggested these prayer points:

Erin’s Instagram handle is @erincoates80 if you’d like to follow her. Here is her most recent update as of the time I’m writing this:

What is something tangible you can do? Open your churches. Worship Christ. Practice the one anothers, sing your hearts out, let your pastor see your eyes as he preaches the word of God to you. Don’t underestimate this task in your life. Obey Christ with all you have.”

Erin says it better than I ever could.

Fakes and Frauds

If you haven’t already subscribed to Justin Peters’ YouTube channel, what are you waiting for? I know it’s super-duper long, but you’ve got to watch one of his most recent videos: 2020 The Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Year For The Prophets, especially if you’re unfamiliar with New Apostolic Reformation heresy as it relates to false prophets / prophecy. This will get you up to speed. Also included is an excellent interview with Nathan Busenitz on what Scripture says about false prophets.

Hymn and Hymn, but Not Hymn

You’ve heard that old joke, right? One Sunday morning, the minister of music announced from the pulpit, “In honor of Miss Doretha’s 80th birthday, we’re going to let her choose three hymns today.” Miss Doretha jumped breathlessly to her feet, scanned the room, and began pointing: “I’ll take him, him, and him!”

Well some young whippersnapper took it upon herself (a few years ago, but I only saw it recently) to pick 10 Christian Hymns That Need to Be Put to Rest. At least I’m inferring from the tone of the article that the author, Jennifer, is a young whippersnapper, because – I’m sorry, I’m honestly not trying to be mean here, but to me she comes off as a bit immature and shallow.

Or maybe I’m just old and curmudgeonly, having reached the “GET OFF MY LAWN!” stage of life.

Jennifer’s argument for putting several of these hymns out to pasture seems to be, “This hymn is too hard for people to understand,” or “People don’t understand what these words mean”.

By her logic, we should ditch the King James Version of the Bible, the Puritans (certainly Jonathan Edwards – my stars, have you ever tried to read his stuff?), the Reformers, and the early church fathers.

Schools should stop teaching Shakespeare, Beowulf, and Chaucer. And we should probably get rid of some of our patriotic songs too (I mean who knows what a “rampart” is, anyway?)

It’s just further reflective of the worldly attitude of dumbing things down to the level of people’s sloth (excuse me – “laziness” – since some may not know what “sloth” means).

How about, instead of getting rid of hymns and words people don’t understand, pastors and ministers of music take a second and teach the congregation what those words and hymns mean? Or the congregation could pull their phones out and Google it. We do that with everything else – why not do it with hard words and build our vocabularies and our knowledge base?

But there are some hymns that need to go due to theological issues with their lyrics. I’ve got two picks and then I’ll let you get in on the game. Click on the titles for lyrics. (Please note, I don’t really know anything about the people performing these songs, but I’m guessing I wouldn’t recommend them since it’s pretty hard to find doctrinally sound Christians singing songs that aren’t.)

The Savior is Waiting

It pains me to list this hymn as one that needs to be put to rest because I’ve been singing it all my life and have a deep sentimental attachment to it. Also the music is lovely, and I really do think the hymnist’s heart was in the right place when he wrote it. But…

The entire tenor of the first verse reminds me of a mom nagging her reluctant child to befriend the snaggle-toothed, bespectacled, nerdy little kid on the playground who’s running around offering his entire Hot Wheels collection if somebody – anybody – will just please, pleeeeeeeeeze, be his friend. Jesus is not some pitiful little weirdo whose day would be made if you would do Him the honor of sitting at His lunch table. He is loving and kind, yes, but He is also King of Kings and Lord of Lords, and we humbly bow the knee to Him.

And don’t even get me started on verse two. People who are dead in their sins can’t “take one step toward the Savior,” my friend. Christ has to raise us from the dead to new life in Christ.

Pass It On

This was the (depending on your age) Shout to the Lord, or Oceans, or Way Maker of my day, kiddies, and I have lots of fond memories attached to it, too. It was the song you sang at youth camp, and sometimes – if your minister of youth and music was cool, like ours was – during Sunday night church. (Some of my contemporaries will remember that we used to yell out, “Praise God!” after the phrase, “I’ll shout it from the mountaintop.”).

Whether or not the composer intended to base the opening words of this song – “It only takes a spark to get a fire going” – in Scripture, it evokes James 3:5b, which, in the most popular modern translation around the time this song was written said:

Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark.

Which would be all well and good except for context, context, context. Because James 3:3-6 says:

When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

Scripture out of context…fires of hell…yeah, as peace, love, and “I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony” as this song is, I think it could be put to rest.

What do you think? Are there any hymns you think could be mothballed because of their unbiblical lyrics? Comment below and share. But play by the rules:

  • It has to be a non-contemporary hymn. Let’s say anything written between the first century and 1980.
  • None of this, “Everything from Bethel, Hillsong, and Elevation!” stuff. Everybody knows that already. This is about hymns.
  • “Because of their unbiblical lyrics.” Not because the hymnist him/herself apostatized, fell into sin, etc.
  • I get that all of this could be avoided if every church only sang the psalms. That’s beside the point.

OK, get out those hymnals and let’s hear it!

Faith Works

A few thoughts on Hebrews 11:8-19:

The original audience of Hebrews was first century Christians from Jewish backgrounds. Slavery to Law-keeping was so ingrained that the Holy Spirit gave them a chapter of “Old Testament Survey” (let the seminarian understand).

In this portion of the chapter, He demonstrates to them that the central figure of their faith, the one in whom they had their biological, tribal, and spiritual inheritance – Abraham – left them a legacy, not of Law-keeping, but of faith. Abraham believed God, and that is what was credited to him as righteousness, not any good deeds that he might have done. And, indeed that is the preeminent truth of the entire Old Testament: faith in God and in the Christ to come, not good works.

We are part of that same spiritual legacy of faith today. No amount of good works will save you: being a nice person will not save you, going to church, giving offerings, and serving at church will not save you, being baptized will not save you, praying to saints and other religious rituals will not save you, parroting a “sinner’s prayer” will not save you.

Only repenting of your sin and trusting that Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection paid the penalty for your sin of an eternity in hell will save you.

If you’ve never placed your faith in Jesus and been completely changed into a new creature in Christ with Christlike desires and a hatred for sin, how about doing that today? Check out the What Must I Do to Be Saved? tab in the blue menu bar at the top of this page for more information.

Speaking Engagements

Report Back: Cruciform Conference

I had such a great time at Cruciform Conference a couple of weeks ago! Sadly, a few of the speakers pictured above ended up not being able to make it due to illness and other reasons, but even though we missed them, there was no shortage of wonderful preaching and teaching on the theme of holiness.

The first morning of the conference I finally had the pleasure of meeting in person my dear online friend, Chris Honholz, and his lovely wife, Kristine. You might remember that I was a guest on Chris’ and Richard Story’s podcast, Voice of Reason Radio, a while back, and I got to do another brief interview with Chris at the conference:

Voice of Reason Radio- Cruciform Conference: Interview Edition
Subscribe to VOR Radio and become a regular listener!

It was tons of fun visiting with Chris and Kristine in person. We were staying at the same hotel, and they graciously chauffeured me around all weekend. What a blessing to me – and to the body of Christ – these two are!

Kristine, me, Chris

Friday and Saturday were a whirlwind of teaching and fellowship. I would highly recommend that you head over to the Cruciform Ministries YouTube Channel and give all of the sermons a listen.

On Friday, I taught my first breakout session (for women only, of course): Holy Mothers (and Others) of God’s Word: The Holy Women of Scripture:

Saturday’s session was Practical Holiness:

On Saturday evening, my podcast co-host – Amy Spreeman – and I had a super time recording a live Q&A episode of A Word Fitly SpokenGlad You Asked: Live From Cruciform Conference:

You can also listen to this episode at our website,
or by subscribing to AWFS on your favorite podcast platform.

I had tons of fun meeting and fellowshipping with so many wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ. Everyone had such interesting stories or ministries! And the fall foliage in Indy – gorgeous!

I’d also like to take a moment to put in a good word for smaller, regional conferences like Cruciform. Large conferences are awesome, and I enjoy them, but there are a lot of great things about smaller conferences that you may not be aware of if you’ve never been to one. Smaller conferences…

  • …are usually less expensive.
  • …introduce you to great pastors, speakers, authors, and ministries you wouldn’t otherwise have known about.
  • …allow you to network with others in your area who have similar ministry interests
  • …allow more and deeper fellowship with other attendees
  • …allow you more access to speakers you want to meet
  • …often have a more casual, relaxed atmosphere than larger conferences

If there’s a doctrinally sound smaller conference in your region, I’d encourage you to give it a try.

It was so encouraging to fellowship with my brothers and sisters and sit under wonderful preaching at Cruciform 2020. Many thanks to Brandon Scalf for his tireless work putting this wonderful conference together, for inviting me to speak, and for being a great handler – graciously making sure all of my needs were met. Thanks also to all of his helpers who ferried me to and from the airport, made sure I got to eat when I arrived in town, and expertly managed all the audio, video, and computer equipment for my sessions and the podcast.

I’d love to see you at Cruciform 2021! Next year the conference will be held June 4-5, instead of in October, so start planning to attend now!


If your church or organization is ever in need of a speaker for a women’s event, I’d love to come share with your ladies as well. Click here for more information.



Photo Credits

Cruciform logo images courtesy of Cruciform Conference.

Photos of Michelle teaching by Kristine Honholz.

All other photos by Michelle Lesley, Chris Honholz, Brandon Scalf, and conference attendees.

Discernment

Snatch them From the Flames Online Conference

 

 

One of the silver linings to quarantine has been the number of quality Christian conferences and webinars that have been made available online. I hope you’ve been able to take advantage of some of them.

This Saturday, May 30, another one is coming your way, absolutely free. Snatch Them from the Flames will feature Andrew Rappaport and Justin Peters teaching on properly handling Scripture, false teachers, and other biblical topics:

Saturday, May 30, 2020

10am – 6pm EST / 1pm – 9pm PST

Schedule:

Session 1: The Sufficiency of Scripture

Session 2: Interpreting Scripture

Lunch

Session 3: Discerning False Teachers

Session 4: Identifying False Teachers

Session 5: Questions and Answers

There is no charge for the conference, but you do need to click here to register. (I don’t know whether or not a recording of the conference will be available after the event. Please contact Andrew to find out.) Enjoy!