Modern Methods of Giving

Texting

[Note: The following article was included in the updated edition of my study, Now Concerning the Collection: A Study of Giving. I am posting it here for the benefit of others who may be considering different methods of giving that have been made available by our modern technology.]

I wrote the original study, Now Concerning the Collection, in 2006 after preaching a lesson (by request) on the topic of giving. At that time, the standard practice for churches to take up the collection – at least the congregations where I had attended – was to pass a basket down each pew into which those in attendance would place their contribution, either in the form of cash or check. This was the way we took up the collection.

Over the fourteen years since then, we have seen many changes that have taken place in our world – including changes in how we use money and make transactions. Many churches now offer online giving that allows someone to give using a credit or debit card online. Other churches offer the option of text giving (via text message) or a mobile giving app.Continue Reading

The Christian and Conspiracy Theories

Conspiracy

Over the past few years, it seems that we are hearing more about “conspiracy theories.” A number of people have expressed increasing concern over Christians embracing such theories. Notice the following excerpt from an article from Lifeway Research. [Note: We discussed this on the podcast a couple of months ago, but I thought it would be good to deal it here as well.]

“A new study from Nashville-based Lifeway Research finds 49% of U.S. Protestant pastors say they frequently hear members of their congregation repeating conspiracy theories they have heard about why something is happening in our country. Around 1 in 8 (13%) strongly agree their congregants are sharing conspiracy theories, defined by Merriam-Webster as ‘a theory that explains an event or set of circumstances as the result of a secret plot by usually powerful conspirators.’” (Lifeway Research)

The article contrasts “conspiracy theories” with “truth,” assuming that they must be opposites. Yet that will not always be the case. What conspiracy theories were these pastors hearing? We are not told in the article. However, there is an assumption – not just from the author of the article, but an assumption that is held by many – that whatever has been labeled as a “conspiracy theory” must necessarily be false. (Keep this in mind and we will revisit this point later.)

Again, the article did not mention any specific conspiracy theories that were being spread by church-goers. And in this article, I will not be discussing any specific conspiracy theories either, whether they are about the pandemic, the recent Presidential election, or anything else. However, I do want us to consider some general principles. There are some who are very quick to believe any conspiracy theory that comes along. Others are very quick to dismiss all “conspiracy theories.” As Christians, we should not take either of these approaches.

So what are some Biblical principles we need to remember about “conspiracy theories”? In this article, we are going to consider six points.Continue Reading

Purity, Temptation, and Sexual Fulfillment

Man praying in the forest

Recently a young man was arrested and charged with killing eight people after opening fire on three Atlanta-area massage parlors. Naturally, this horrific tragedy made national news. As is typical in cases like this, investigators, reporters, and news commentators have sought to determine the motive of the killer. According to the Cherokee County sheriff’s Captain, this man claimed to have a “sex addiction” and “wanted to eliminate” the temptation that existed for him in these locations.

Predictably, many were quick to use this tragedy as an opportunity to push certain talking points. Rather than simply condemning the one who committed the murders, blame was spread to the denomination to which he belonged; this then turned into charges of “racism and sexism” in churches. There have even been claims that “purity culture” in churches (which has been described in part as an emphasis on modesty in women in order to not cause a temptation for men to lust) would lead religious people – especially those who are socially conservative – to blame this crime on the victims and not the gunman.

Every reasonable person – Christian or non-Christian – should be able to immediately agree that what this man did in murdering these eight women was wrong and that the authorities should see to it that he is tried, convicted, and strongly punished for this. Yet this tragedy has been turned into an opportunity by some to attack religion, Biblical morals, and modesty.

I will not defend the reprehensible actions of the young man who murdered these women, regardless of his motive. It is also not my intention here to defend the denomination of which he was a member or any group with which his church was reportedly affiliated. However, I do believe it is important for us to understand what the Bible teaches about purity, temptation, and sexual fulfillment. This story, along with the reactions to it, make it evident that many do not understand these topics.Continue Reading

Unlikely Converts

Men on the subway

In the following passage, James described a scenario in which two individuals visited the assembly of the church. After they arrived, the brethren treated them differently based upon their appearances.

My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, ‘You sit here in a good place,’ and you say to the poor man, ‘You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,’ have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives?” (James 2:1-4).

James warned these brethren that they were not to treat others differently based upon their appearances. He explained in the next verse that “God [chose] the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom” (James 2:5). Yet they treated the poor as if they were unimportant. By this kind of treatment, they were putting a barrier between these individuals and the salvation that the Lord offered to them – all because they made a judgment about them based upon their appearance.

Sometimes when we think of evangelism and converting the lost, we might have a picture in our minds of the type of person we could see being receptive to the gospel. However, if we are not careful we could subconsciously reject or overlook some who might have otherwise been interested (the single mother, the person with tattoos, the immigrant who speaks broken English, or, in the example given by James, the poor man who cannot afford nice clothes to wear to the assembly of the church). Sometimes the ones who are converted to Christ are not the ones we would expect.

The New Testament contains several examples of individuals who would have been unlikely converts because they did not fit the mold of one who might be considered a good prospect. Yet they obeyed the gospel and became disciples of Christ. Let us notice some of these in this article.Continue Reading

The Limitations of Man

Man on a mountain

The word of the Lord came again to me, saying, ‘Son of man, say to the leader of Tyre, “Thus says the Lord God, ‘Because your heart is lifted up and you have said, “I am a god, I sit in the seat of gods in the heart of the seas”; yet you are a man and not God, although you make your heart like the heart of God’”’” (Ezekiel 28:1-2).

Man has been made in God’s image (Genesis 1:26-27), but man does not share all of the attributes of God. In the passage above, the king of Tyre was condemned because he arrogantly thought of himself as being equal with God. He had certainly made great accomplishments in gaining wisdom and acquiring riches (Ezekiel 28:3-5), but God would prove to him that he was just a man: “Will you still say, ‘I am a god,’ in the presence of your slayer, though you are a man and not God, in the hands of those who wound you?” (Ezekiel 28:9).

We must recognize that as human beings, there are certain limitations that are placed upon us. Understanding this should cause us to be humble and to submit to the will of God. In this article, we are going to consider some of these limitations and see, in contrast, the greatness of God.Continue Reading

The Christian’s Boast

Man in front of waterfall

In the first half of Romans 5, Paul explained how Christians have been justified by faith and by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross (Romans 5:1-11). In this passage, Paul used the word exult three times (NASB). This is not a term we commonly use today. The King James Version uses three different terms instead – rejoice, glory, and joy. The word means to boast about something (Thayer).

Usually we would think of boasting as something that we should not do as Christians. Yet it depends on the context. Paul told the brethren in Corinth, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:31). If the word of God indicates that we are to boast, glory, and rejoice in something, then we can and should do so.

In this article, we will notice the three things Paul indicated in this passage in which we are to boast.Continue Reading

Practicing Church Discipline

Empty pews

Church discipline is often not a pleasant topic to discuss and is even more difficult to practice. Because of this, some congregations hardly discuss it at all. Then when a situation arises that requires it, they are either unsure how to proceed or they ignore it altogether and hope the problem simply goes away.

However, while church discipline is often difficult and painful to practice, there are times when it is absolutely necessary. Furthermore, the Scriptures show us that when it is done for the right reason and in the right way, it is actually for the good of the congregation and of the one from whom the church withdrew fellowship.

In this article, we are going to consider several passages in the New Testament that talk about this topic; but we will use Paul’s instructions in 1 Corinthians 5 as the outline for our study.Continue Reading