Welcome to tomthinking.com Monday, December 10 2018 @ 07:48 PM UTC

Robin Williams And Six Inescapable Truths About Sin And Depression

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The tragic suicide of Robin Williams left Americans grieving for one of its most beloved entertainers. Soon, media outlets and social media were discussing depression, its effects, and its role in suicide. Some Christian bloggers took the position that depression is a sin. As someone who has experienced bipolar depression I have my own perspective on the issue. To be up front, never in my experience with depression did I ever consider killing myself. I had long before determined that murdering myself was a sin and a violation of God’s plan for my life. However, in 2008, for a period of several months, I was in a severe state of depression. I was mostly nonfunctional. My perspectives were all screwed up. I had a wrong view of myself, my family, my ministry, my life. Though I would not intentionally kill myself, I still wanted to die. If something bad had happened to me, then I would not have done anything about it. I would have let happen whatever would happen, even if it meant letting me die. I suppose that’s as close to suicide as I had ever come.

 

Finding The Truest Expression Of Christianity

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I recently watched an interesting documentary about four college students who took a trip to Europe for the purpose of discovering true Christianity. Entitled, Beware Of Christians, the college students went traveling about Europe to see how Christianity was practiced and what made it different from their American expression of Christianity. Their purpose was to try and discover what might be called “true Christianity.”

Near the end of the movie the four college students essentially came to a simple conclusion, the truest expression of Christianity is to love God and to love others. While I don’t want to necessarily invalidate their discovery, I find that there is a subtle yet foundational problem in their premise.

They went into the world for the world to change them instead of going into the world to change the world for Christ.

Finding Jesus In The Ten Commandments

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In Luke 24 two of Jesus disciples were walking along a road depressed about the events surrounding Jesus’ death, not yet believing that he had risen from the dead. Jesus met them on the road and upon listening to them he did the following: “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (verse 27).

In relating this story, Luke tells us that Jesus can be found throughout the Old Testament. Here is one example of where Jesus can be found: the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:2-17).

Advice for Short-Term Teams

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Pastor, do you want to send a short-term team to a foreign country? Do you want your people to engage globally for the Gospel? Then here are five principles to follow when putting together a short-term team. I promise that if you follow these principles you’ll have a better chance at fulfilling your ministry goals and your short-term team will have an experience they will never forget.

First, follow the lead of your full-time missionary in country. If your missionary has been in your target country for at least five years it’s most likely that they’ve come to know the culture and its expressions in such a way that they understand the dos and don’ts of making disciples in their host country. Instead of planning what you will do, involve your missionary in the planning process, or perhaps allow them to come up with the plan. They know the needs and probably have many ideas how to address them. All they need are the resources and manpower to get it done.

It's Critical To Tell The Bible's Story

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When it comes to sharing the Gospel of Jesus there is one strategy that has resounding success in seeing people come to Christ: Bible story-telling. What is Bible story-telling? Simply put, Bible story-telling is a strategy of sharing the whole Bible’s story with a community or people group to give the target audience a historical understanding of who Jesus is and why we must receive him. Bible story-telling doesn’t necessarily tell every story from the Old Testament to the New Testament, but it does give the hearer a detailed overview to the extent that they begin to understand how Jesus fits into the Bible and the history of man. It is not uncommon in some countries for nearly whole communities to come to Christ as a result of taking part in Bible story-telling sessions.
Why is this method so effective, especially in developing nations? I’d like to present you with five key principles why Bible story-telling is such a critical tool for missions today and perhaps even for ministry in the US as most nonbelievers in the US have no familiarity with the Bible or the historical claims of Jesus.

The Church Is Doing Just Fine, Thank You

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American society is in decline. There’s no denying the obvious. It doesn’t matter if we examine our political influence or our spiritual history, there is no denying that America is in decline. America will eventually go the way of all nations. That is not to be pessimistic, it is simply an historical observation.
Those who care deeply for their country are working hard to restore America to its former glory, but ultimately such efforts can only lead to a short-term reform. Like the great kings of Israel—Jehoshaphat, Josiah, and Hezekiah—noble efforts can be made for reform but he final conclusion is already at hand. There is only one kingdom that will never suffer decline, that of the returning Christ, but that day has not come yet.
When looking at the decline of America sometimes people say that the church has failed in its job to be a moral or spiritual influence in American life. I’ve thought the same from time to time but have come to a reformation in my thinking. I don’t think that the church is at fault for America’s condition. Nor do I believe that the church is out of touch or irrelevant to America today. On the contrary, I think the church is more in touch, relevant, and active when it comes to trying to reach American society with the Gospel. Allow me to explain why I believe this is.
 

Knowing What You Mean

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When you talk to someone about Jesus does the person listening understand what you mean? This was a powerful lesson I learned when I served for 10 years in Mongolia.
Many missionaries in Mongolia experience a unique phenomenon when witnessing to some Mongolians. In fact, this phenomenon is not unusual for others to experience as well. Some missionaries report that when they share about Jesus with a Mongolian that the Mongolian automatically interprets what they hear through their previous religious ideas of Buddhism or Shamanism. This means that the hearer views Jesus as another Buddha to bring Buddhist enlightenment under a buddhist worldview. If he has a shamanistic background he will interpret the news of Jesus as Jesus being another spirit that they must appease to get good things or to prevent evil from befalling them. The end result for many is that they syncretize their understanding of Jesus with their previous religious views, thus corrupting the Gospel they are seeking to embrace.
 

When Did Torture Become Art?

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Perusing a Christian bookstore today I noticed the many renderings of the cross hanging on walls, in paintings and in trinket items like keychains and charms. The wall hangings were beautiful. Then it hit me. When did torture became art?
The cross of Jesus Christ is an ugly thing. But we’ve turned it into something beautiful. The creation of cross imagery, I think, blends the horror of the cross with the beauty of what the cross did—making forgiveness possible. But it’s the horror part that gets my attention. Think about it this way, who would want to hang a picture of an electric chair on their wall, or perhaps a neck in a noose? 
The beautifying of the cross has legitimate expression. Without the cross of Jesus all of mankind would be doomed for an eternity in hell. It is only the cross of Jesus that makes salvation possible. In this way I see these artistic expressions as a way of communicating the wonderful thing that Jesus did on our behalf. The cross shape is always present and it also reminds us of Jesus’ suffering and cruelty he was exposed to in his six hours on that torturous, horrible device.
 

Atheism Is Untenable, Here's Why

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I used to be an atheist. In my teenage years I didn’t believe in God. It all seemed rather strange to me and I saw no evidence for God, so I never gave him a serious thought. But later, after I came to Christ I discovered that God not only exists, but he is personable, approachable, and veryreal.
In thinking about atheism it occurs to me that most atheists have never really given serious consideration to whether or not a supreme being actually exists. They may offer a few arguments against God, but when you listen to them you realize that they haven’t really thought through the implications of their belief or even why they believe it. Mind you, that doesn’t describe all atheists, but I think it applies to a good number of them. 
When it comes to the atheist, I think there are six reasons why his or her atheism is untenable. Here goes:

Confused By Creationism?

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It may be Christianity’s most controversial subject: creationism. Forget the secular theories of the Big Bang and Evolution for a moment. Within the body of the Christian church there are at least five different views on the general subject of creationism. Each have their strengths and weaknesses and because of that many Christians have trouble deciding what they actually believe about the Bible’s accounts in Genesis 1 and 2. Advocates on particular sides of the debate haven’t always been known for treating people of the other views with respect. This turns off many nonbelievers watching from the outside.
Some Christians regard science as the enemy of religious faith. That is a mistake. Some seek to modify the Bible’s text or meaning by using scientific discovery or theories as a measuring rod for what is true in the Bible about nature. Meanwhile, others look to overturn what seem to be valid and proven scientific discoveries by forcing the biblical text to overshadow those discoveries as invalid. My perspective is a bit different. I believe that both the Bible and science are complementary disciplines that enhance our knowledge and application of both. General Revelation (that of which nature speaks) is equally true as Special Revelation (the Bible). Though they operate in different areas, both are truths that come from God and can be understood properly when we understand their proper scope and limits.
This article is not about Creationism vs. Science or Creationism vs. Evolution. Rather, I’d like to outline the five major theories about the Bible’s creation account in Genesis 1 and give you resources that will help you determine where you stand on this important issue.
In general, there are five positions on the understanding of Genesis 1. They are,