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Davis: 7 reasons why the truth really matters

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John 17:17

By Laurel J. Davis
Special to Inside The Pew

A comic tells the story of how one night when they were kids, he and his brother kept jumping on the bed despiteLaurel Davis their father’s repeated warnings. Of course, the predictable happens: the bed finally breaks. Startled, Dad rushes to their room, sees the broken bed and demands an explanation.

“Dad, a strange man came through the window while we were trying to sleep. And he kept jumping on the bed ‘til it broke. And then he ran away.”

“But you don’t have a window!”

“Oh, he brought that with him!”

It’s not hard to imagine what that father could have thought about his kids at that moment. Quick thinkers, yes. Creative, yes. Clever? Maybe. Smart? No way!

What does our Heavenly Father think of us when we lie? We might be as quick-thinking, creative and clever as we want to be, but only a fool thinks he can fool God. Of course, any of us can stumble and lie, and most of us aren’t actually thinking, “Oh, I can fool Almighty God.” But still, only a fool forgets that God is always watching.

Okay, sure, the truth hurts sometimes. The truth tends to expose fault, error or weakness, and when it exposes us, who really wants to face it? Whether by denying it, twisting it, covering it up, or pretending it’s not important, we’re all intimidated by it at some level. It’s okay to “keep it 100” in life…but not so much when it messes with our comfort zones.

Still, we can’t get away from the fact that truth really does matter, and only the fool thinks it doesn’t.

It’s one thing not to know the truth, or to not be aware of the truth in any given situation or context. It’s entirely something else to not value the truth. Only a fool devalues the truth. Whereas the wise person will appreciate the truth by seeking it out, loving it, keeping it close and standing up for it, the fool will ignore it, deny it, twist it, embellish it, pervert it or in some other way reject it.

Does this sound too strong? It’s only to arrest our (I’m including myself) attention to just how much, and why, truth really matters. If we are like those kids in that crucial moment of truth-or-lie decision, and God is like their father demanding accountability, is it not foolish for us to think we can pull the wool over our Father’s eyes? Is it not foolish to think we can avoid accountability by lying before the very One who already knows the truth? Is it not foolish and prideful to think our cleverness provides more security than our Father’s own loving mercy?

But the real truth is, there’s so much more to truth than just the painful side of it once it catches up with us. With a biblical understanding of “truth” – a word used at least 234 times in God’s Word – we will actually want to seek it out in every area of belief, attitude, purpose and conduct of life:

  • Truth in heart attitude.
  • Truth in daily living.
  • Truth in relationships.
  • Truth in serving.
  • Truth in good works.
  • Truth in worship.
  • Truth in witnessing.
  • Truth in Christian doctrine.
  • Truth in one’s own faith in Jesus Christ.

We need a more balanced understanding. The truth hurts sometimes, yes. But it also blesses and, if nothing else, God hates the alternative. Here are seven reasons why truth – God’s truth – really matters:

God’s Word, the Bible, is Truth.

Jesus said to the Father in heaven, Your word is truth (John 17:17b). The Bible is God’s truth because it consists of the inspired thoughts, words, commandments and prophecies from the mind and heart of Almighty God Himself; and it is profitable for equipping us to live godly in an ungodly world (2 Timothy 3:16-17ff). In light of that, the Bible is clearly mankind’s only reliable guiding help for every aspect of life as a follower of Jesus. That’s why reading the Bible is foundational to knowing how to – and that you can – operate in the truth with confidence.

Truth is trustworthy

The Lord is our God of truth who cannot lie (Deuteronomy 32:4; Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:1-2). Everything He does is true and consistent (Psalm 19:9; 25:10; 33:4; 57:10; 85:10; 89:14; 96:13; Isaiah 25:1). His truth endures forever (Ps 117:2; 119:160; 146:6). How comforting to know that God’s truth is one of the most powerful things we can lay hold to in this life.

Truth saves us.

John 17:17 infers that believers are sanctified by the truth. Plus, Jesus told Pilate, Everyone that is of the truth hears My voice (John 18:37). Why His voice? Because not only is Jesus the very embodiment of truth (John 1:14), He is the only embodiment of it because He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6). Therefore, only those who accept Jesus accept the Truth, and only those who accept the Truth receive salvation onto eternal life (John 14:6 with John 1:14,17; 16:13; Exodus 34:6).

Truth protects us.

Truth is the very first piece of the whole armor of God that Christians are to put on (Ephesians 6:14-17). Also, the upright person who speaks the truth in his heart will abide with the heavenly Father (Psalm 15:1-2). Even the greatest kind of love, love that never fails, protects our joy because it rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6; Zechariah 8:16; John 4:24; Romans 2:8; 2 Corinthians 4:2; 2 Thessalonians 2:10; 1 Timothy 4:6; 6:35; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; 4:3-4; 1 Peter 1:22).

God hates lying.

Our Heavenly Father literally hates the alternative to truth: lying (e.g., Psalm 119:163; Proverbs 12:22). And so should we (Proverbs 13:5). That’s because no lie is of the truth (1 John 2:21), because the devil, in whom there is no truth, is the father of lying (John 8:44), and God tells us not to give place to the devil (Ephesians 4:27). I can’t help but think in particular of all the wolves in sheep’s clothing today who go about deceiving and being deceived (2 Timothy 3:13) by false doctrines that tickle the ears and fill their own bellies but emaciate the soul.

Lying brings worse consequences.

For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14; cf. Galatains 6:7). In the long-term, truth, even when it hurts, is so much easier to deal with than the complicated chain of lies each previous lie requires – not to mention the consequences God promises will follow (Psalms 63:11; Proverbs 12:19; 19:5). Anyone who practices lying, especially the lie that God doesn’t exist, faces consequences for eternity (Psalms 101:7). Sins, including lies, often result in calamities (e.g., Isaiah. 59; Acts 5:1-11). But all liars are among those who shall have their part in the lake of fire that burns forever (Revelation 21:8).

Truth sets us free.

Jesus said, If you continue in My word, then you are My disciples indeed; and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free (John 8:31-32). The truth – the real truth – offers freedom! Freedom to rest in truth’s saving grace! Freedom to rely on God’s protection in all earthly and spiritual matters of truth! Freedom to think, live and grow by the guiding wisdom of truth! Freedom to share the truth with others! Freedom to defend it! Freedom to search out the truth even when “keeping it 100” pushes against the boundaries of our comfort zones! Freedom to love the truth even when it hurts, knowing that God is still, in all things, forever faithful!

Let’s be wise and always value the truth in every area of life. I’m reminding myself, too. And I’m just telling the truth. Even though it hurts sometimes, truth is not some horrible or some cheap thing for us to avoid, twist, cover up, or toss aside but to love, seek out, possess, keep close. Truth has its blessings, and God honors the truth in us infinitely more than our creativity, cleverness or ability to think quick on our feet.

Laurel J. Davis is a Christian writer, editor and blogger at www.reluctantfirstlady.com, where this article originally appears. She is a pastor’s wife from Los Angeles.

Sulack: Guide to understanding stress

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By Dr. Pete Sulack
Inside The Pew

Stress is the internal reaction to outside circumstances. Modern life is stressful, and no two people respond to it the same way – even if they are faced with the same stressors. We Dr. Pete Sulackare wonderfully made, and the ability of “choice” is a gift from God. With this gift comes the responsibility to make choices that best take care of our body, mind and spiritual health. However in order to live a less stressful and fulfilling life, we must first understand stress: what it means, what it does and how it can present.

Stress in not inherently bad. Everything in life stresses us to a point, but some stress can motivate us and wake up our brain. At the first signs of stress, the immune system, memory and the ability to learn actually all increase. Without stress in our lives, our minds would be come dull and our bodies, weak. Good stressors can be identified as normal responsibilities: a regular schedule, productive work and study, strenuous physical exercise, interaction with others and fighting off normal germs and toxins found in the environment.

However, chronic stress can both shorten the length and diminish the quality of your life. Chronic stress from career, family obligations and even good things like ministry or volunteer work can eventually wreak havoc on your overall health. If you drove your car at a high speed every day, all day, it would wear out faster than if you drove it a reasonable amount and speed.

Stress affects the body and mind. The true cause of sickness and disease is not stress, but rather the body’s inability to adapt and recover from stress. When we are stressed, our pulse rate and blood pressure increases and the adrenal gland dumps cortisol into the bloodstream. Stress can also create a desire to escape or avoid tasks, because we believe we are out of control – and the more out of control we feel, the more stressed we become. This is what we know about stress and the body: it’s not so much the amount of stress, but the amount of time you are in a state of stress.

It is possible to “catch” stress. Recent studies show that when we observe another human under stress, our bodies react empathetically as if it were our own. If people around you are consistently negative, sarcastic, combative, or stressed out, there is a good chance it will cause you to feel distress as well. The autonomic stress response (fight or flight) is triggered by both real and perceived events, so even something as small as a stressful scene in a movie can elevate your cortisol levels. Found in your common morning brew, too much caffeine puts the nervous and hormonal systems into a constant state of “fight or flight,” depleting energy reserves and leading to anxiety, weight gain and insomnia.

You may be stressed and not even know it. Between the bromine in flour, the chlorine and fluoride in drinking water, and the carcinogenic chemicals in personal care products, our bodies are bombarded every single day with toxins that stress the entire system. When you combine an overabundance of toxins with the number of years we are absorbing these toxins unknowingly, we eventually hit the tipping point. Years of chronic stress wears out the adrenals and immune system, and unbeknownst to us it can feel quite normal. When our bodies are used to the high stress levels, anything different would alert us to an issue. God made thousands of foods for us to enjoy, and most of them don’t even require preparation. Instead of opting for man-made foods, eat a variety of raw, natural, organic foods to nourish your body.

Understanding stress is the first step in identifying it and how it might be infiltrating your mind, body and overall health. To help combat chronic stress, make physical exercise a priority, get adequate sleep, eat a diet that optimizes gut health and learn to slow down – being busy is not synonymous with being successful.

Some stress is good, but too much stress can be harmful. A good rule to remember: some stress motivates; more stress complicates; and a lot of stress deteriorates.

By Dr. Pete Sulack is a stress expert, writer and speaker and is the author of “Fellowshipping with God’s Voice.” Sulack is  founder of Matthew 10 Ministries and Unhealthy Anonymousa wellness support program that provides tools for healthier living.

 

Jenkins: Dangers of the Golden Calf; the calf just doesn’t happen

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The Golden Calf

Editor’s note: This is the second installment in a series of columns on Exodus chapter 32.

By Dave Jenkins Jr.
Inside The Pew

In Exodus Chapter 32 we see the dangers of falling prey to the Golden Calf syndrome. The Golden Calf represents our attempts to do what only God can do. The next danger of theDave Jenkins Jr Golden Calf is that the calf just doesn’t happen.

Aaron was afraid of the faces and voices of the people in the absence of Moses. A lot of times the second in command thinks that he/she can do what God’s appointed leader can do, all they think they need is a chance.

When a leader is anointed they make it look so easy. They seem to be able to stop a speeding financial crisis and leap dangerous traps with a single bound. So, when the second has his/her chance to act, they sometimes find out what looks easy from the outside is actually a very prayerful and skillful balancing act.

Thus, when the faces and tones of the voices became menacing – Aaron did what any poor leader would do, he folded like a cheap tent. What the people needed was direction and he gave them sinful satisfaction.

In Exodus 21, Moses asks Aaron the accountability question, “what did they do to you to cause you to lead them in the wrong direction?” Aaron takes the next couple of verses to blame the people and indirectly he blames Moses. However he lays the final blame at the feet of “it just happened.”  Look at his explanation in verse 24. However, in verse 35, God declares that Aaron made the calf. If you are going to lead, it must be God’s purpose that leads you and not the voice of confused people or the result will be a Golden Calf.

The biggest danger of the Golden Calf is to get things back in order, drastic action must be taken. Aaron and the people had allowed things to get wildly out of control. To get things back in order Moses had to take drastic action.

Because of the nature of the mistake and the way that the majority of the people had embraced the Golden Calf as their new god, Moses could not just send out a memo. Where Aaron was weak, Moses was stern and to the point. He knew the importance of this moment.  It was not just about the temporal comfort of the people but their eternal destiny. Something had to “GO” and in Moses’s eyes it was the Golden Calf and those who were now foolishly aligned with it.

Moses next decision was not an easy one. He called for faithful men and then instructed them to kill every man near the “gate.” Even if that man was your friend or brother he had to be killed no exceptions. Why those near the gate? It could have been they were telling anyone who passed by about the false god and not the true God.

The action Moses took was similar to what the skier whose arm was trapped under a boulder had to do. The skier knew that he could not move the boulder and if he stayed pinned by the boulder he would eventually freeze to death. So he made the decision to live – with one arm. He began the process of cutting off the arm that was trapped under the boulder. It was not an easy choice but it was the only way that he could survive.

On that day 3,000 men lost their lives. The body could only move forward when the infected part had been removed.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

Dave Jenkins Jr. is an ordained minister and leadership and relationship teacher. Jenkins, a former chaplain for the Allen (Texas) Police Department, is a graduate of Grambling State University in Grambling, La., and earned a master’s of Christian leadership from Criswell College in Dallas. He also received advanced counseling training from Amberton University. Jenkins and his wife, Phyllis, are hosts of their own weekly family relationships show, “Marriage Monday,” on KGGR 1040 at 5 p.m. CST. Follow him on Twitter at @IamDaveJenkins and “like” him on Facebook (IamDaveJenkinsJr). Learn more about his ministry at www.davejenkinsjr.com.

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Newcombe: Five distinct phases of Jefferson’s religious life

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Thomas Jefferson

Editor’s note: This is the final installment in a three-part series inspired by the book, “Doubting Thomas?: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson” (Morgan James Publishing, Nov. 4, 2014) is co-authored by Mark A. Beliles, Ph.D. and Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.

By Dr. Jerry Newcombe
Special to Inside The Pew

In the book, “Doubting Thomas?” we show that Jefferson went through five distinct religious phases in his life. In the first one, which lasted until 1788, he was by all signs that weJerry Newcombe can tell a practicing, believing Trinitarian Christian. This included in 1776 when he wrote the Declaration of Independence and 1777 when he wrote the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom (passed in 1786).

In 1777, Jefferson helped establish an evangelical church. This was the Calvinistical Reformed Church of Charlottesville. The patriotic Rev. Charles Clay, ordained as an Anglican, was an evangelical and the pastor of that church. For the first time in print ever, our book publishes two of Rev. Clay’s gospel sermons. Jefferson financially supported this church and wrote up its by-laws, a copy of which is included in our volume.

Both the Declaration and the Virginia Statute rest on theological foundations. Our nation’s birth certificate adopted July 4, 1776 states that our rights come from the Creator. What God giveth, the state is not free to taketh away. The Declaration of Independence says that we have God-given rights and they are not up to debate. The Virginia Statute begins with the statement that God has created the mind free. When government seeks to enforce religious conformity of belief or practice, all it does is “beget habits of hypocrisy.” Furthermore, says Jefferson, this is a “departure from the plan of the holy author of our religion.” Because Jesus, “the holy author of our religion,” gave us religious freedom, who are we to deny it to others?

Many scholars say the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom was a forerunner to the First Amendment. Jefferson and his compatriot James Madison were heroes to the evangelicals in their day because they were champions of religious freedom—not oppression of religion.

Later, Jefferson went through some doubting phases. Near the end of his life, we find him thinking in Unitarian ways about God, Jesus, the Trinity. But even in the last phase of his life, he was privately doubting, while publically attending Trinitarian worship services, once the Episcopal church reopened in Charlottesville.

To be sure, by the end of his life, Jefferson seemed to question some of the key doctrines of the Christian faith. But many commentators tend to ascribe these beliefs for all of his 65 adult years. In reality, Jefferson was a constantly developing and changing person of faith.

Furthermore, the real important question is: Are the policies of today that are essentially fashioned in his name in line with what he himself would agree to? We think our book shows that they are not.

Jefferson did not view himself as an atheist nor a Deist; but he rather saw himself as one trying to save Christianity, as he understood it, from centuries of corruptions.

THE JEFFERSON BIBLE

Any fair reading of the faith of Thomas Jefferson should take in all sides of the story. When we examine Jefferson and the Bible, we see that he was overall a student of the Scriptures. We also see that he had bought into the philosophy, prevalent in Unitarian circles (and even some of the Restoration circles, popular in his area of Virginia in that day), that the Bible we have is corrupted. One of the leaders of the Restoration church movement was Alexander Campbell. He was anti-Trinitarian and anti-Calvinist and said that he wanted to save “the Holy Scriptures from the perplexities of the commentators and system-makers of the dark ages” and therefore (similar to Jefferson), published his own edition of the New Testament in 1826 to correct the alleged flaws and perversions. Campbell, however, is still treated today by the evangelical world as a legitimate Christian in American history. But Jefferson has not been treated with the same deference as Campbell. We believe they should be treated the same, but perhaps Jefferson with more grace since he was not trained in theology.

Jefferson felt that, despite such (alleged) corruptions, the morality of Jesus was the finest the world has ever seen. So, without getting into any metaphysical debates or issues, he wanted to focus his personal study on a digest of “the philosophy of Jesus.” Initially he did so in 1804 in an edition that he said, in his subtitle, was for the use of the Indians.

Later in 1819 or 1820, for his own use, he enlarged it about a third more and called it “the Life and Morals of Jesus.” This one included columns with the Greek, Latin, and French versions, as well as the King James Version of these various sayings of Jesus. Not all the miracles of Jesus were deleted from either version, however.

The skeptics of today who try to drive the Bible completely out of our schools today and out of the public arena often hide behind Jefferson to do their dirty work. I would love to see those same skeptics become regular readers of the moral teachings of Jesus that Jefferson was. Some reports indicated he studied Jesus and His teachings all the time, virtually every day. I cannot imagine that being the case among the atheist-type groups constantly suing to keep knowledge of the Good Book from impacting society today.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Of all the systems of morality, ancient or modern, which have come under my observation, not appear to me so pure as that of Jesus.” (To William Canby, September 18, 1813). So although Jefferson had an unorthodox approach to the Gospels, it is still a matter of public record that he greatly appreciated the teachings of Jesus Christ.

JEFFERSON AND THE CLERGY

Most clergy in Jefferson’s lifetime were not antagonistic to him. Only later did this begin to be popular in some historical works of clergy.

And similarly Jefferson was not universally opposed to the clergy. His anti-clericalism was clearly selective and focused, and for biographers to not make that distinction is unfair to Jefferson. Indeed, those that fail to make the distinction become the allies of his political enemies. Jefferson’s understanding of religious freedom is held by the vast majority of American evangelicals to this day. We do not favor a state church. Nor did he.

Despite outrageous comments from the pulpit during the acrimonious 1800 election, any fear that the people of New England may have had that they should hide their Bibles in case Jefferson were elected president proved completely baseless. The accusations against Jefferson’s faith in the 1800 election were not true. Disestablishing a state church is not the same thing as opposing a church.

Ironically, today, the secularists, often in Jefferson’s name, are creating a new state religion—a religion of atheism and humanism that has no problem squelching the conscience of believers. Jefferson himself would not agree with that. He once wrote: “On the contrary, we are bound, you, I, and every one, to make common right of freedom of conscience.”

Furthermore, our book documents that Jefferson had very good relations for the most part with hundreds of ministers, the vast majority of whom were Trinitarian Christians. We also document that he donated generously to all sorts of Christian causes.

SEPARATION OF GOD AND STATE?

The secularists of today have done a major disservice by twisting Thomas Jefferson’s doctrine of the separation of church and state to mean the separation of God and state. They are trying to remake the U. S. in the image not of its founders, even men like Jefferson (who was not an orthodox Christian), but in the image of the founders of the failed Soviet Union.

Likewise, modern biographers and commentators have misrepresented Jefferson by exaggerating the attacks of clergy against him and ignoring the overwhelming number of favorable relationships. They have fabricated a dominant and simplistic image of anticlericalism that is misleading and false. If any of this is done by those with a political agenda, we hope the reader will realize that there is no historical accuracy to the view that Jefferson hated the Christian clergy and wanted society purged from their influence.

CONCLUSION

While Jefferson was clearly not an orthodox believer by the end of his life, it is a myth to say that he was always a skeptic. Furthermore, Jefferson was a champion of freedom OF religion, not of freedom FROM religion.

Dr. Jerry Newcombe is the author/co-author of 24 books including bestsellers George Washington’s Sacred Fire (with Dr. Peter Lillback) and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (with Dr. Kennedy). Newcombe serves as a co-host, columnist and spokesperson for D. James Kennedy Ministries, where he produces/co-produces more than 60 one hour television specials that have aired nationwide. He has appeared on numerous talk shows as a guest, including “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” (4x), Fox News Channel, Fox Business Channel, C-Span2’s “Book Notes,” Janet Parshall’s America, Point of View, Moody Radio Network and more! Newcombe also hosts a weekly talk radio PROGRAM on “GraceFM.” He is happily married with two children and a grandchild, and resides in South Florida.

 

Newcombe: Jefferson’s religious views have been misread

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Jerry Newcombe

Editor’s note: This article is part 2 of a series that focuses on the book, “Doubting Thomas: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson,” by Drs. Mark A. Beliles and Jerry Newcombe.

By Dr. Jerry Newcombe
Special to Inside The Pew

There has been a massive shift in the understanding of “the separation of church and state” in America. As a nation, we were founded for religious liberty, but now that freedom seems under attack by the forces of a militant secularism.

Just as an example. Recently, in Houston, city officials have sent out subpoenas, demanding certain ministers who have spoken out against homosexuality to hand over their sermons and emails. In Idaho, a husband and wife team who run a wedding chapel might have to go to jail and be fined because they refuse for conscience sake to conduct same-sex weddings. City officials upholding traditional stances on marriage or other issues have lately come under fire.

To paraphrase one professor of law, the First Amendment has been put on a search and destroy mission for any sneaky vestiges of religion left in public places.

Yet our founders, the same men who gave us the First Amendment, hired chaplains who say Christian prayers for the military and the legislatures at taxpayer expense. They proclaimed state and national days of prayer and thanksgiving. Thanksgiving itself is an annual reminder of our nation’s Christian heritage.

What’s happening today is in part because of a misreading of Jefferson, and it is our goal in this book to set the record straight. Suffice it to say that the Thomas Jefferson of history is not the Thomas Jefferson of the ACLU, People for the American Way, the Freedom from Religion Foundation, etc.

The separation of the institution of the church from the institution of the state, properly understood, is a biblical concept and was promoted by some of our founding fathers, including Jefferson and Madison. However, today’s “separation of church and state” is often defined in such ways as to essentially mean “state-sanctioned atheism”—something different than what the founders advocated. Groups like the ACLU actively promote the “state-sanctioned atheism” version of the separation of church and state. Many courts and public officials have bought into this vision, and we read about the results virtually every day in the news.

But is this even what Jefferson wanted? The real answer is no, even in his most liberal, skeptical phase of life. For instance, when he was president, Jefferson attended church on a regular basis at the Christian worship services held in the U.S. Capitol building. You might ask, “But what about the ‘separation of church and state’?” He certainly didn’t understand it in the strict way it is often imposed today. Like the other founders, he understood it to mean that no one national denomination would lord if over the others. No one denomination would become the national church “by law established.”

Dr. Jerry Newcombe is the author/co-author of 24 books including bestsellers George Washington’s Sacred Fire (with Dr. Peter Lillback) and What If Jesus Had Never Been Born? (with Dr. Kennedy). Newcombe serves as a co-host, columnist and spokesperson for D. James Kennedy Ministries, where he produces/co-produces more than 60 one hour television specials that have aired nationwide. He has appeared on numerous talk shows as a guest, including “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” (4x), Fox News Channel, Fox Business Channel, C-Span2’s “Book Notes,” Janet Parshall’s America, Point of View, Moody Radio Network and more! Newcombe also hosts a weekly talk radio program on “GraceFM.” He is happily married with two children and a grandchild, and resides in South Florida.

Excerpt from ‘Doubting Thomas?: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson’

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Editor’s note: This book excerpt is the first in a series that will focus on the religious legacy of the United States’ third president, Thomas Jefferson. “Doubting Thomas?: The Religious Life and Legacy of Thomas Jefferson” (Morgan James Publishing, Nov. 4, 2014) is co-authored by Mark A. Beliles, Ph.D. and Jerry Newcombe, D.Min.

Thomas Jefferson was a complicated man, especially when it comes to religion.

TRINITARIAN CHURCH MEMBERSHIP AND WORSHIP ALL HIS LIFE

Despite Jefferson’s late unorthodoxy, he maintained his support and attendance with orthodox Trinitarian churches (when available) his entire life. (He once describedThomas Small himself as a lifelong Episcopalian; but for two periods that type of church was unavailable to him—when he was in France (1784-1789) and after he retired back to Charlottesville (1809-1819).

The evidence in this book from his own writings and actions shows Thomas Jefferson to be much more involved in Christian activity than most people realize. Documents prove about 70 times that Jefferson worshiped or attended services, and over 400 incidents of him supporting religion or religious persons in one way or another. And it was proven that Jefferson worshiped other times, which he mentions in letters, but which simply do not show up in any documents.

Some may argue that just showing Jefferson financially supporting his local church does not mean he attended its services, but the overwhelming testimony of so many diverse observers clearly testify that he did so. For instance, Margaret B. Smith describes his eight years in Washington by saying: “Jefferson during his whole administration was a most regular attendant [at church in the Capitol].”[1] His political opponent Manasseh Cutler confirmed the same during those years—and even use the phrase “ardent zeal” in reference to Jefferson attending Christian services there. And Jefferson’s overseer at Monticello said of Jefferson’s retirement years that he never missed a chance to hear any preacher that came along. (This was even during the period before the Episcopal Church started back up in Charlottesville.) His family members and neighbors confirmed the same for his retirement years. And never once did any of his local pastors nor any other person in Williamsburg, Richmond, Philadelphia or Washington mention that Jefferson refrained from attending church or taking communion and participating in the weekly recitation of the Apostles’ Creed. On the positive side are many comments from the same, noting his attendance. In short, Thomas Jefferson was a committed, life long churchman.

Let’s review some of the other highlights of his personal pro-faith religious life:

  • He received his education at the hands of Christians, and he paid for his children and grandchildren to receive such an education. He also was a financial supporter of many Christian schools and colleges.
  • He was a member in good standing at Episcopalian Trinitarian congregations and a frequent worshiper at services organized by many other denominations that were predominantly orthodox.
  • On occasion, he even recommended a preacher to the Congressional chaplains, whose responsibility it was to fill that pulpit.
  • He was a very active giver to Christian causes. This was a pattern throughout his life, even in the last phase, which was the least orthodox of his earthly sojourn. Per capita, Jefferson probably gave more than today’s average Christian. He kept meticulous record of his expenditures, and it shows repeated donations to Christian churches and causes.
  • As a young man, Jefferson served as a vestryman (like an elder and a deacon rolled into one) for the Anglican Church. Also, around this same time, in 1777, he wrote up the charter for the Calvinistical Reformed Church in his town with an evangelical preacher, the Rev. Charles Clay—with whom he had a lifelong friendship. Jefferson was the biggest single contributor to this fledgling congregation.
  • Between 1821 and 1826 dozens of letters between Jefferson and Rev. Hatch, along with donations, show a renewed orthopraxic faith. At that last stage he was publicly a Christian member of a Trinitarian Episcopal church and he was accepted as a member by his pastor, while privately holding to Unitarian views.

Yet there was also evidence of doubts beginning with the 1788 letter, where he declined being a godparent because he did not understand the Trinity. But there was no subsequent evidence of a separation or withdrawal from Trinitarian churches. Despite the influence of Rev. Joseph Priestley and Unitarian friends, Jefferson claimed he did not turn away from the Christian faith. On April 21, 1803, to Rush he said unapologetically: “…I am a Christian…”

But after ten years more, in private—never public—he began to clearly express more unorthodoxy in his views. From about 1813 onward, Jefferson’s own words show a desire to promote a “restored” Christianity (that jettisoned the doctrine of the Trinity). In these later years there are several letters clearly identifying himself as an Episcopalian and a Christian (but in a non-creedal way). He said he could never be an atheist, and never once called himself a Deist. In his last year he called himself a Unitarian for the first time. Like many of the Restorationist believers in his area and like Unitarian Rev. Joseph Priestley, he believed the Scriptures had been corrupted over time, but his long-time pastors thought it was intellectual playfulness in the closet. Their perspective hopefully has been introduced through this book as a legitimate way of interpreting Jefferson’s personal faith.

[1] Margaret Bayard Smith, First Forty Years of Washington Society (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1906), 13.

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Jenkins: Dangers of the Golden Calf

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Editor’s note: This is part one of a two-part series discussing the Golden Calf (Exodus 32).

By Dave Jenkins Jr.
Inside The Pew

Leaders and parents have to be careful not to fall into the “Golden Calf” syndrome.  This syndrome is when we think we have lost somethingDave Jenkins Jr of great value and we look for cheap imitations to replace it.

The Golden Calf syndrome is when appearing successful is more important than being true to who God created us to be. The Golden Calf syndrome is when fear of losing control replaces following the blueprint.streaming Patriots Day movie

When we give into the Golden Calf syndrome, we not only lose our focus and fire for the Lord; those who follow us are a part of the collateral damage. We see this so well in Exodus chapter 32.

The number one danger of the Golden Calf is that it tried to replace something that it can never replace.

In Verse 1 we see that in the absence of their spiritual leader, the people begin to seek a substitute.  They appreciated Moses but they needed something they could see to lead them to the next phase. They needed a new God that would guide them into the promise land.

They realized from crossing the Red Sea and the other military victories that they needed divine intervention. However, they chose to replace the eternal with the temporal.

Leaders we do that as well. It happens when we look for the short cuts and the quick hits instead of the proven principles. It happens in our homes when we allow the blessings to be more appreciated than the giver of the blessings.

The next danger of the Golden Calf is in the long run the imitation will cost more to be in your life than the original.

To make the Golden Calf the people had to give up the golden items that God had provided for them.  The gold earrings and other gold items did not cost the people anything since God had restructured a portion of the wealth from the Egyptians to them. So what God had given them freely, they had to pay as the cost for the Golden Calf.

When leaders take the resources that they have been given stewardship over and create a Golden Calf, they create a beast that you will always have to feed. The leadership at Enron is one example of this.

Another danger is it always requires you to sacrifice more than you intended; it is never satisfied.

Not only did Aaron have to make the new god, now he has to arrange a festival and burnt offerings. The request from the people was for Aaron to make a god for them. Now the false god requires more from them.

The Golden Calf will seem like a smart move, it will say to you “let’s not do all of that quality stuff so we can get the product out faster.” Then in a couple of months we are correcting returns and doing rework because we gave in to the Golden Calf.

Instead of checking with our spouse before we made that BIG decision, we allowed the Golden Calf of convenience to lead us. Now we have to make more adjustments than we intended just to keep the Golden Calf.

Dave Jenkins Jr. is an ordained minister and leadership and relationship teacher. Jenkins, a former chaplain for the Allen (Texas) Police Department, is a graduate of Grambling State University in Grambling, La., and earned a master’s of Christian leadership from Criswell College in Dallas. He also received advanced counseling training from Amberton University. Jenkins and his wife, Phyllis, are hosts of their own weekly family relationships show, “Marriage Monday,” on KGGR 1040 at 5 p.m. CST. Follow him on Twitter at @IamDaveJenkins and “like” him on Facebook (IamDaveJenkinsJr). Learn more about his ministry at www.davejenkinsjr.com.

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Sulack: Guide to practicing mindfulness for a healthier life

Published by:

Dr. Pete Sulack

By Dr. Pete Sulack
Inside The Pew

Most of us at some point feel as though we’re caught in a never-ending circle of chaos, thus propelling poor nutrition choices and creatingDr. Pete Sulack an overall lack of motivation to make healthy lifestyle changes. For some, it’s now harder than ever to find ways to clear the schedule, make healthier meals, and just slow down.

Being too busy and over-scheduled is a real challenge when it comes to making changes of any kind – especially changes that involve food. In our fast-paced society with an instant gratification mentality, we are not mindful of our food. We value efficiency, ease, and low cost more than the actual experience of enjoying what we put into our bodies.

In his book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown doesn’t specifically address food, but is on target about the groundswell popularity of mindfulness. From the nap pods and yoga classes to meditation rooms and organic food delivery popping up in offices, businesses are realizing that slowing down is good for both employee and the bottom line.

With the infiltration of technology designed to make our lives simpler, why did we end up busier than ever? According to McKeown, the smartphone, social media and extreme consumerism have fueled the ‘busy-ness bubble’. For the first time in the history of the world, we are aware of what everyone else is doing, eating, reading and buying – and believe we should be keeping up with it all.

For most, being busy equates to being important and successful. However, successful people manage their eating, exercise, and overall health. If we can’t seem to find the time to manage what God has called His temple, our bodies, then we cannot say we are truly successful. Changing any habit – especially lifelong habits of eating – requires mindfulness. We must pay attention, and that means slowing down.

Learn to say “no.” It’s OK to say no to your boss, kids, neighbors or church to ensure you are not over-extending yourself. As a starting point, give yourself permission to say “no” to committing your time at least once a month.

Set aside technology-free time at home. Ever notice how slowly things go when the power is out? We’ve become so dependent on the stimulation we receive from our technology and media sources that we never have the ability to truly wind down. Turn off phones, tablets and computers for an evening and connect with your spouse, children or a friend – or use the time to spend with God in a devotional.

Don’t take on a new activity without getting rid of an old activity. We only have 168 hours in each week, and 24 hours in each day. You can’t do everything. Get rid of existing activities before you sign up (or your kids sign up) for new activities.

Dr. Pete Sulack is a Stress expert, writer and speaker. He is the author of “Fellowshipping with God’s Voice” as well as the founder of Matthew 10 Ministries and Unhealthy Anonymous – a wellness support program that provides tools for healthier living.

 

Communities of faith to converge for TogetherLA; Tebow hits links for charity

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Tim Keller

By Jacob Trimmer
Inside The Pew

Feb. 26-Feb. 28watch Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 2017 movie online now

In Los Angeles: Key leaders from non-profits, churches, businesses, and communities in the Los Angeles area will convene beginning Thursday, Feb. 26 forTim Keller real-time collaboration, prayer, networking and strategic partnering. The free gathering is set to take place at West Angeles church of God in Christ, 3045 Crenshaw Blvd in Los Angeles.

Dr. Timothy Keller, lead pastor of Manhattan’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church, is the slated main speaker for the three-day conference as well; all other speakers will be active leaders in the Los Angeles area. Speakers include Bishop Charles Blake, Dr. Barry Corey, Mark Labberton, Mayor Aja Brown, Efrem Smith, Caitlin Crosby, Tim Chaddick, Albert Tate, Larry Acosta, La Verne Tolbert, Michael Mata, Tom Hughes, Father Greg Boyle, and many more.

For more information, go to www.togetherla.net or email connect@togetherla.net.

March 15

In Ponte Vedra, Fla.: Tickets for the annual Tim Tebow Foundation Celebrity Golf Classic are still available online. The event will take place at TPC Sawgrass inTebow Foundation Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. Gates open at 9 a.m., with shotgun starting at 10 a.m. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for 18 and under.

March 22-March 29

Aboard Freedom of the Seas: Back to the Bible Canada, a world-wide ministry based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, will hold its second annual Bible Canada/Laugh Again ministry cruise. Author, speaker, and humorist Phil Callaway will serve as a special guest for the voyage. The seven-day cruise will leave you smiling, refreshed, inspired and renewed in your walk with Christ. To register, http://www.laughagain.ca/cruise-2015/.

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Student ministry denounces murders of Muslim students

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By Bill Bray
Special to the ASSIST News Service 

The Overseas Students Mission (OSM) has denounced the murders of three Muslim students studying at the University of North CarolinaUNC murder, Chapel Hill.

OSM is a Christian organization working with local community and student leaders to provide hospitality and welcome international students to the United States.

The three students were slain execution style on Feb. 10 by a neighbor Craig Hicks in a dispute over parking rights, according to his wife. However, on Feb. 12 and Feb. 13, social media has been ablaze with accusations that it was a hate crime against Muslims. According to media reports, the charge is being investigated by police and the FBI.

In a prepared statement, OSM leaders said: “Our prayers today are going up to heaven for Mohammad Abu-Salha, father of one of the students, and to all the families of these students at this time of terrible tragedy. One of the students, Deah Barakat, was organizing a student dental mission to aid Syrian refugees in Turkey, something which we can only commend and appreciate as Christians.

“As believers, we condemn these killings. We have no reason to believe this was a hate crime but the accused killer, Craig Hicks, is reported to be a deeply anti-religious critic of Christianity.”

According to media reports, the slain students were Deah Shoddy Barakat, 23, and his new bride Yson Abu-Salha, 21, as well as her sister, Razon Abu-Salha, 19.