In Touch Ministries; Charles Stanley – Building Lasting Friendships

Strong, godly friendships like Jonathan and David’s are a blessing from the Lord.

1 Samuel 18:1-4

How many friends do you have? And I don’t mean the people you connect with on social media—I’m talking about the few who really know you and stick with you through thick and thin. Such mutual friendships are rare today. 

What does it take to develop this kind of relationship? There could be no finer example than the friendship between David and Jonathan, and three qualities stand out. 

1. The relationship was characterized by mutual respect. This often gets lost in today’s world, but the reality is that we can maintain a genuine friendship only with someone for whom we have high regard. 

2. David and Jonathan felt strong love for one another. Even though they weren’t related, these two friends shared a relationship as deep and loyal as a brotherhood. 

3. Their commitment to each other was genuine. These were no fair-weather friends. Their bond withstood even the attempts by King Saul to kill David. (See 1 Sam. 23:15-18.) Jonathan refused to let anything—not even his own father’s jealous fury—come between him and his friend. 

Think about your best friend. Is the relationship characterized by these qualities? If so, recognize that you have been given a blessing from the Lord. Praise Him for the gift of your friend. 

Bible in One Year: Exodus 13-15

Our Daily Bread — Love of Learning

Bible in a Year:

Let the wise listen and add to their learning.

Proverbs 1:5

Today’s Scripture & Insight:

Proverbs 1:1–7

When asked how he became a journalist, a man shared the story of his mother’s dedication to his pursuit of education. While traveling on the subway each day, she collected newspapers left behind on seats and gave them to him. While he especially enjoyed reading about sports, the papers also introduced him to knowledge about the world, which ultimately opened his mind to a vast range of interests. 

Children are wired with natural curiosity and a love for learning, so introducing them to the Scriptures at an early age is of great value. They become intrigued by God’s extraordinary promises and exciting stories of biblical heroes. As their knowledge deepens, they can begin to comprehend the consequences of sin, their need of repentance, and the joy found in trusting God. The first chapter of Proverbs, for instance, is a great introduction to the benefits of wisdom (Proverbs 1:1–7). Nuggets of wisdom found here shine a light of understanding on real-life situations.

Developing a love of learning—especially about spiritual truths—helps us to grow stronger in our faith. And those who have walked in faith for decades can continue to pursue knowledge of God throughout their life. Proverbs 1:5 advises, “Let the wise listen and add to their learning.” God will never stop teaching us if we’re willing to open our heart and mind to His guidance and instruction.

By:  Cindy Hess Kasper

Reflect & Pray

What fresh truth of Scripture have you added to your knowledge recently? How can you continually pursue a deeper understanding of God’s truth?

Father, please continue to open my mind and heart to grow in knowledge and wisdom as I read from the Scriptures.

Grow deeper in your understanding of faith.

Grace to You; John MacArthur – Are You Gentle?

“Walk . . . with all . . . gentleness” (Ephesians 4:1-2).

To become more gentle, begin by looking closely at your attitudes.

We’ve determined that gentleness is essential for those who want to walk worthy. How can you tell if you’re gentle? I’ll give you some practical questions so you can evaluate yourself honestly.

First of all, are you self-controlled? Do you rule your own spirit (Prov. 16:32), or does your temper often flare up? When someone accuses you of something, do you immediately defend yourself, or are you more inclined to consider whether there’s any truth in what’s being said?

Second, are you infuriated only when God is dishonored? Do you get angry about sin or when God’s Word is perverted by false teachers?

Next, do you always seek to make peace? Gentle people are peacemakers. Ephesians 4:3 says they are “diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” If someone falls into sin, do you condemn or gossip about that person? Galatians 6:1 instructs us to restore sinning brothers “in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, lest you too be tempted.” Gossip and condemnation divide believers; forgiveness and restoration unite them. Gentle people don’t start fights; they end them.

Fourth, do you accept criticism without retaliation? Whether the criticism is right or wrong, you shouldn’t strike back. In fact, you can thank your critics, because criticism can show you your weaknesses and help you grow.

Finally, do you have the right attitude toward the unsaved? Peter says, “Always [be] ready to make a defense to every one who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). If we’re persecuted, it’s easy for us to think, They can’t treat me like that—I’m a child of God. But God wants us to approach the unsaved with gentleness, realizing that God reached out to us with gentleness before we were saved (Titus 3:3-7).

Consider carefully your answers to these questions, and commit yourself to being characterized by gentleness. Remember that “a gentle and quiet spirit . . . is precious in the sight of God” (1 Peter 3:4).

Suggestions for Prayer

If any of these questions have pointed out deficiencies in your gentleness, ask God to strengthen those areas.

For Further Study

  • Paul was often criticized by those who wanted to usurp his authority over the church. Study Paul’s response to such people in 2 Timothy 2:24-26.
  • Think about this passage’s application to events in your life.

From Strength for Today by John MacArthur

Joyce Meyer – Enjoy the Righteousness of Christ

Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve.

— Joshua 24:15 (AMPC)

The first step in doing anything is choosing to do it. In order to encourage someone, you first choose to look for the best. In order to be at peace, you first choose not to worry. In order to start some- thing new, you first choose to step out and go for it.

You may not know how it’s all going to work out, but you can make some foundational choices today. Begin by saying, Today I choose peace over fear! Today I choose to break that old habit and start a good one! Today I choose not to lash out in anger! Today I choose not to live in the past!

Make a choice, take a step, and never forget to ask for God’s help (His grace) in executing your choice. We can do all things with and through Him, but we can do nothing without Him (see Philippians 4:13).

Prayer Starter: Lord Jesus, I know I can’t always choose what happens around me, but I can choose how to respond. Help me to always respond the way You would have me respond. In Your precious name I pray, amen!

Truth for Life; Alistair Begg –“Give Me Life”

Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things;
and give me life in your ways.

Psalm 119:37

There are various kinds of vanity. The cap and bells of the fool, the merriment of the world, the dance, and the cup of the dissolute—all these men know to be vanities; they wear upon their chest their proper name and title. Far more treacherous are those equally vain things—the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches. A man may follow vanity as truly in a portfolio as in a theater.

If he is spending his life in amassing wealth, he passes his days in a vain show. Unless we follow Christ and make our God the great object of life, we only differ in appearance from the most frivolous. It is clear that there is much need of the prayer of our text: “Give me life in your ways.” The psalmist confesses that he is dull, heavy, all but dead.

Perhaps, dear reader, you feel the same. We are so sluggish that the best motives cannot quicken us, apart from the Lord Himself. What! Will not hell quicken me? Shall I think of sinners perishing, and yet not be awakened? Will not heaven quicken me? Can I think of the reward that awaits the righteous and yet be cold? Will not death quicken me? Can I think of dying and standing before my God, and yet be slothful in my Master’s service? Will not Christ’s love constrain me? Can I think of His dear wounds, can I sit at the foot of His cross, and not be stirred with fervency and zeal? It seems so!

No mere consideration can quicken us to zeal, but God Himself must do it; hence the cry, “Give me life in your ways.” The psalmist breathes out his whole soul in vehement pleadings; his body and his soul unite in prayer. “Turn my eyes,” says the body. “Give me life,” cries the soul. This is a fit prayer for every day. O Lord, hear it in my case this night.

Devotional material is taken from Morning and Evening, written by C. H. Spurgeon, revised and updated by Alistair Begg.

Kids4Truth Clubs Daily Devotional – God Wants To Change You

“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son.” (Romans 8:29)

One October day, Brandon was on an airplane flying to Vermont. As the plane dipped its wings over Lake Champlain, Brandon looked out his window. What a sight! All around the misty water below were acres and acres of maple trees that had changed color. Brandon had never seen trees wearing any brighter shades of red, orange, and gold.

If you have become a Christian by trusting Jesus Christ to save you from your sin, God wants to make a glorious change inside of you – an even more beautiful change than the colored leaves of fall. He wants to make you just like His Son, Jesus Christ! Can you imagine what that would be like? You would love God with all of your heart. You would be full of joy. You would be confident in God even when bad things happened. You would be kind and gentle – even toward your brothers and sisters. You would never be selfish. You would never disobey. You would always hate sin.

Long ago, before you ever asked God to save you, He was planning to do this beautiful work in you. His Spirit who lives in you will show you the things that need to change. Will you cooperate with God as He works?

God wants to change you to be like His Son, Jesus Christ.

My Response:
» Is God’s Holy Spirit showing me areas that need to change in my life?
» Am I becoming more like Jesus?

Denison Forum – A balanced review of “Fault Lines,” Voddie Baucham’s critique of modern social justice

Voddie T. Baucham Jr.’s Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastropheprovides an in-depth perspective on how social justice has divided our culture, our country, and the church, and how the tenets of modern social justice employ narratives that do not match with evidence. 

To describe this ideology, he uses his own term, “Critical Social Justice” (CSJ). While he supports social justice, he believes that Critical Theory has taken hold in today’s culture. In this context, Baucham certainly does the job of critiquing and engaging culture. 

Most of the work is aptly summarized in Proverbs 18:17, which he quotes, “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him.”

In examining the evidence for and against the idea of systemic, structural racism, Baucham does not deny racial disparity in America. Rather, he challenges the CSJ narrative, which argues that the inequality is due entirely to the racist “DNA” of America. 

While Baucham offers some alternative explanations to the disparity, though not much, he mostly attacks one prominent fallacy in CSJ thinking: “There is unequal outcome, therefore, the structure is to blame.”

He claims, to help us get a broader perspective, that America is objectively less racist than almost any other country. His perspective, as he has lived in Zambia for the past six years, is one of an insider and an outsider.

He is frank, forthright, and defends the gospel. Furthermore, while he masterfully shows that the narrative of CSJ is downright dishonest, misleading, and extremely dangerous to the church and our culture, sometimes I think he doesn’t capture the full scale of the evidence. 

Critical reflections

With full respect and admiration for Baucham’s life, work, intentions, and thought, here are some critical reflections on Fault Lines. 

He addresses some of the evidence but often leaves out the other side. For example, he uses Harvard Economics professor Roland G. Fryer’s paper, “An Empirical Analysis of Racial Differences in Police Use of Force,” which shows that, when external factors are controlled, unarmed black and white Americans are shot at relatively equal rates. He cites this to disprove the 2.5 to 1 ratio that is often cited, which states that unarmed black men are killed at 2.5 times the rate of white men. 

However, that same paper also shows that police disproportionately use force against black Americans (even when outside factors are controlled and the offenders comply with officers’ requests). He doesn’t acknowledge the latter point. 

He sometimes uses unscholarly or difficult-to-confirm sources, like a tweet with a video compilation or an obscure YouTube video. One footnote led me through a difficult search, and I ended up listening to an entire podcast because Baucham didn’t cite the original content or timestamp. This, and other references, sometimes lacked context or only gave one side of the picture. 

As another reviewer notes, when Baucham compares the CSJ movement to a “new religion,” complete with its own “creation story” and cosmology, he stretches the comparison. Undoubtedly, the CSJ movement with Critical Race Theory often has religious fervor and generally provides a worldview. Regardless, this comparison seemed forced. 

Additionally, readers must remember that Baucham believes that there is a deep divide on this issue. When we look around, it’s hard to disagree. But, one will notice when reading that this division defines the work, and his charge is to “pick a side.” While he may be completely correct in his analysis, Baucham’s tendency to harp on the division is sometimes tough to swallow. This, compounded with the fact that he spends little time on positive solutions, makes the book sometimes feel partial and unnecessarily divisive.   

Why Christians should read this book

Suffice to say, while those complaints are important, on the whole, Baucham excellently addresses the spreading destruction of CSJ in evangelicalism. For example, he demonstrates that Be the Bridgeand other Christian works on the subject are often rifewith “Ethnic Gnosticism,” whereby the truth can only be heard from people of color and people of color are always to be believed. While humility is important, as Christians we shouldn’t abandon the belief in objective truth. 

He addresses the danger of accepting CSJ, as it can contaminate the gospel with legalism and distracting goals that tend toward disunity rather than unity. Additionally, he provides insider insight into the events of the SBC controversy and its resolution on Critical Race Theory. 

Baucham affirms the importance of ethnic diversity. He values his African heritage highly as an important part of his identity. And, indeed, he affirms that Christians must “do justice.” However, he believes that CSJ can blind us to true justice and avoid the real problems that lead to racial disparity. Insofar as this book is a critique of the movement and its danger to Evangelical Christianity, it does its job excellently. 

If you don’t pick up this work, I would at least recommend that you read and wrestle with the “Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel,” even if you disagree with it. Baucham refers to this document frequently and was a prominent signature on it. 

All in all, Voddie Baucham’s work is a helpful source of argumentation and a fresh perspective very much needed in the CRT debate that rages in our culture. 

In their own words

“I wish I could say this book is meant to help us avoid the impending catastrophe. However, it is not. This catastrophe is unavoidable. These fault lines are so deeply entrenched, and the rules of engagement are so perilously complex, the question is not if but when the catastrophe will strike.”

“In the end, the answer to everything is racism [in the CSJ movement]. Not only is this kind of reasoning logically flawed, but it also flies in the face of a substantial body of sociological research and the historic preaching and understanding of the black church.” 

“The black family matters. Education matters. Decisions and choices matter. And above all, God’s Word matters.” 

“Racism is real. Injustice is real. No matter how many times I say those things, I will still be accused of turning a blind eye to them—not because I deny them, but because I deny the CRT/I view that they are “normal” and at the basis of everything.” 

“Pastors…I believe the church—your church—is under attack. As shepherds, we must defend the sheep. We must repel the wolves. And yes, the wolves are many. However, this one is within the gates and has the worst intentions. He desires to use your genuine love for the brethren as leverage.” 

“Living in Africa for the past five years has broadened my perspective on social justice in two major ways.

1) I have come to understand that the Critical Social Justice movement is global… 

2) I have come to realize that culture does matter, that not all cultures are equal, that Christian culture has produced the highest levels of freedom and prosperity and the lowest levels of corruption and oppression in the world, and that transforming culture is a laudable and worthwhile goal.”