A word to would-be ‘updated’ Christians

God loves and accepts us just the way we are. He doesn’t turn anyone away as he seeks to renew and redeem a People to His Image. 

But he gets to define what it means to be human. Not us. We’re his creation. To believe what He says about us is a basic tenet the Gospel of Jesus Christ, of salvation/justification by faith. We must believe it all. To say otherwise is a false gospel. 

My feelings don’t define me or give me a right to dishonor my body. God defines me, allowing me to properly interpret my feelings—and govern my actions. 

“Here I stand. I can do no other.” ~Martin Luther

Andrew Branch

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2 Corinthians 5

The love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died. And he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. (i.e., in Christ God was reconciling  the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.) Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

God on problem of evil: ‘You would not believe if told’

A thought for today: It’s 2015, and we’re by no means the first generation to ask God why he allows what he does, to ask what the world is coming to. 

O Lord, how long shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?
Or cry to you “Violence!” and you will not save?Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 2.11.58 PM
Why do you make me see iniquity, and why do you idly look at wrong?

Destruction and violence are before me. Strife and contention arise. So the law is paralyzed, and justice never goes forth. For the wicked surround the righteous—so justice goes forth perverted.

“Look among the nations, and see. Wonder and be astounded—for I am doing a work in your days that you would not believe if told.”  

  ~Habakkuk 1 

Brother of Coptic Christian martyrs thanks God that ISIS left the video unedited, showing his brothers calling on Jesus’ name even as they died. “ISIS helped us strengthen our faith.”

I hear, and my body trembles. My lips quiver at the sound. Rottenness enters into my bones. My legs tremble beneath me.  Yet I will quietly wait for the day of trouble to come upon people who invade us.

Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail  and the fields yield no food,  the flock be cut off from the fold, and there be no herd in the stalls—

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord. I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength. He makes my feet like the deer’s. He makes me tread on my high places.

~Habakkuk 3

WORLD | Guilty as Charged

“The jury took only three hours on Jan. 27 to convict former Vanderbilt football players Cory Batey and Brandon Vandenburg of rape. Each faces at least 15 years in prison for their June 23, 2013, crimes. Yet one player’s failed defense leveled a whole new kind of indictment on the “rape culture” on college campuses.”

College campuses are the epicenter of a Fifty Shades of Grey generation in which rape and physical and sexual abuse are now sexy—provided she doesn’t object. Yet, at the same time, as the NFL tackled domestic violence, an incensed nation stood puzzled at battered women who don’t perceive abuse, or who don’t want to leave.

The cultural contradictions are growing ever more stark in a generation that wants to fight injustice, yet act it out for kicks. The owner of the china shop wants a pet bull, and Jesus has words for those who make others stumble. How long will it take the jury only three hours?

Guilty as ChargedVanderbilt-Star-V9

A horrible campus culture doesn’t get football players off the hook for rape

Read at WORLD Magazine

WORLD | Heisman Trophy winner: ‘Football doesn’t define me’

On this, the day of the first NCAA College Football Playoff championship, let’s look at what makes Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota tick.

Heisman Trophy winner: ‘Football doesn’t define me’ 

“When things start to get rough, you find comfort in your faith,” Mariota told FCA earlier this year. “Knowing that no matter what, you can dust yourself off and be OK. And you know you do it for [God’s] glory.”

Read at WORLD Magazine.

After the World Series: “Raytown Redemption”

Take a break from election news, groans, and/or shouts of joy.

We’re one week removed from the climactic ending to the World Series. But two miles south of Kaufmann Stadium in Kansas City, the games have a deeper meaning. Stories like this are why I write. I grow far more spiritually from the examples of the people I’ve interviewed for WORLD’s sports page than I can ever express in an article. 

Raytown Redemptionunnamed

A Kansas City church’s sports leagues bring salt and light to a struggling community

Read at WORLD Magazine.

Last day to vote for WORLD’s 2014 Hope Award

From WORLD’s Facebook

Time to vote for the finalists for the 2014 Hope Award is quickly winding down, and four incredibly worthy ministries, with much at stake, need your vote.

What we need from you:
Take 15 seconds each to read the first couple sentences of these
four indispensable ministries http://wng.org/compassion

Take 10 seconds to vote for the ministry you deem most worthy,
knowing the winner will receive a $25,000 award

Feel satisfaction in knowing your vote will make a difference in the
lives of untold thousands who derive eternal benefit from these
worthwhile ministries

Jubilee Leadership Academy

Friends Ministry 

Compassion International, Nicaragua 
(Parts 2 and 3 here)

Maury United Ministries 

Seeds of Hope

Giants win World Series behind masterful MVP

San Francisco ace Madison Bumgarner pitched five masterful innings from the bullpen Wednesday as the Giants won their third World Series in five years. The word “Dynasty” graced the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle after the Giants held off the the Kansas City Royals 3-2 in the seventh and deciding game.

“That’s the best performance I’ve ever seen in the playoffs, ever,” Giants reliever Jeremy Affeldt said of Bumgarner.

“MadBum”—named the World Series MVP award in one of the easiest choices in history—pitched a record 52 2-3 innings in these playoffs. His five scoreless innings on Wednesday—one with just nine pitches—gave Bumgarner a save to cap off a 4-1 record and 1.03 ERA in six starts. And with appearances in three World Series by the age of 25, Bumgarner has allowed just 1 run in 36 innings pitched. That’s a record-low 0.25 ERA.

“We probably would have won if they didn’t have him,” Kansas City’s Lorenzo Cain told the AP. “But they do have him.”

For more on the World Series, see “Teams enter World Series on emotional, spiritual highs” at WORLD Magazine

The Royals forced Game 7 with a 10-0 rout on Tuesday behind the pitching of Yordano Ventura, who dedicated the win to late St. Louis outfielder Oscar Taveras, his good friend who died in a car accident on Sunday. Looking for their first World Series since 1985, a raucous crowd of 40,535 packed Kauffman Stadium and stood for most of the game in nervous fidgets.

But when Bumgarner entered the game in the fifth inning with the Giants up 3-2, the game was all but over. Despite having only two days rest after a 117-pitch shutout in Game 5, he seemed to make Wednesday’s 68 pitches look easy, throwing 50 for strikes. “You know what? I can’t lie to you anymore,” he said. “I’m a little tired now.”

The Royals briefly had hope in the ninth when Alex Gordon’s single got away from Giants outfielder Gregor Blanco. The ball went all the way to the wall, and Gordon rounded for home before retreating to third. He could only watch as  teammate Salvador Perez fouled out to end the game. “Obviously, we wanted to win,” Gordon told the AP, “but to be in this situation with these young guys and what they’ve done this postseason, I’m just proud to be a part of this team.”

Official scorers at first gave Bumgarner the win rather than the save, but later changed their decision because the winning run was scored while Affeldt was in the game. When Affeldt learned of the change, he embraced his wife as they both began crying. The outspoken Christian now has three World Series, one for each of his children.

“This is probably my favorite,” Affeldt said, his voice cracking. “I started with the Royals, and it was a tough time for me. So to come back here and to feel this—and to have all three of my boys have championship rings—that means a lot to me.”

Some of the stats, facts, etc., compiled by the Associated Press and verified by me