William Ramsey – The Secret of the Smiley Face Serial Killer
Gary Wayne and David Carrico – The Mysterious Essene- From Ancient Times to Present Day
Richard Phillips – Biblical Parenting 3: Parenting for Middle Childhood
What is “sanctification”? Is it a quality or position? Is sanctification a legal thing or an experimental? That is to say, “Is it something the believer has in Christ or in himself? Is it absolute or relative?” By which we mean, “Does it admit of degree or no? Is it unchanging or progressive?” Are we sanctified at the time we are justified, or is sanctification a later blessing? How is this blessing obtained? By something that is done for us, or by us, or both? How may one be assured he has been sanctified: what are the characteristics, the evidences, the fruits?…Are sanctification and purification the same thing? Does sanctification relate to the soul, the body, or both? What position does sanctification occupy in the order of Divine blessings? What is the connection between regeneration and sanctification? What is the relation between justification and sanctification?…Exactly what is the place of sanctification regarding salvation: does it precede or follow, or is it an integral part of it? Why is there so much diversity of opinion upon these points, scarcely any two writers treating of this subject in the same manner? Our purpose here is not simply to multiply questions but to indicate the many-sidedness of our present theme.
The great importance of our present theme is evidenced by the prominence that is given to it in Scripture: the words holy, sanctified, etc., occurring therein hundreds of times. Its importance also appears from the high value ascribed to it: it is the supreme glory of God, of the unfallen angels, of the Church. In Exodus 15:11, we read that the Lord God is “glorious in holiness” —that is His crowning excellency. In Matthew 25:31, mention is made of the “holy angels,” for no higher honor can be ascribed them. In Ephesians 5:26-27, we learn that the Church’s glory lieth not in pomp and outward adornment, but in holiness. Its importance further appears in that this is the aim in all God’s dispensations.2 He elected His people that they should be “holy” (Eph. 1:4); Christ died that He might “sanctify” His people (Heb 13:12); chastisements3 are sent that we might be “partakers of God’s holiness” (Heb 12:10).
Abortion. Euthanasia. Pornography. Same-sex marriage. Transgender rights. Embryonic research. Genetic enhancement. Christians surveying the cultural landscape in the West have a clear sense that things are headed in a destructive direction. While most believers can easily identify the symptoms of decline, few feel competent to diagnose and address the root causes. There are many complex factors behind these developments, but one invaluable tool for better understanding and engaging with our culture is the concept of worldview. The sociological quakes and moral fissures we observe in our day are largely due to what we might call “cultural plate tectonics”: shifts in underlying worldviews and the collisions between them.
What is a worldview? As the word itself suggests, a worldview is an overall view of the world. It’s not a physical view of the world, but rather a philosophical view, an all-encompassing perspective on everything that exists and matters to us.
The Commonness of Tragedy
It can be easy to think of Job as a book you turn to if some unexpected tragedy happens, but can otherwise be safely ignored. Perhaps the most important reason for reading the book, however, is that Job’s tragedy—an experience of searing pain and loss which did not make sense within any framework Job had—is all too common.
My experience in teaching the book in academic and pastoral settings is that almost everyone in the room knows someone who has undergone a Job-like experience—or they are suffering one themselves. It seems to be not a question of “if,” but “when” God will allow some tragedy too painful to be borne quietly, and we, like Job, will wonder why God would repay imperfect but sincere service and friendship in this way.
“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, Yahweh, my rock and my redeemer.” (Ps. 19:14)
I have been contemplating quite a bit of late this thing called social media, in particular the hold it has on society and on my own family in particular. The sheer amount of time vested in checking Facebook, updating blogs, looking at Pinterest, Tweeting, posting pictures on Instagram, watching YouTube videos is absolutely staggering. Add to that the mobility and access provided to the aforementioned social media outlets (and many, many more I might add), and we have a society every more connected and focused on what transpires digitally.
It seems to me social media can be described as a member of the good, the bad, and the ugly club. I am not one who views the idea of social media as entirely bad. Social media is a helpful medium for information and for staying connected with friends and family. Furthermore, the use of social media can be a great tool to share the truth of Scripture with a worldwide audience. I will also submit I often get a good and much needed chuckle from videos and pictures shared on social media. Those bits of humor can be a needed respite from the daily grind.
With that said, all is not puppy dogs and roses with social media. As with anything that can be used for good, social media can and does fall into the bad category. Let’s face it….social media is addictive and it was purposefully created to be that way. In an April 2017 American Marketing Association article, Hal Conick noted,
“Addictive qualities aside, social media could not thrive if it wasn’t so uniquely—for lack of a better word—social. Humans are social animals who ache for connection with others. Mauricio Delgado, associate professor of psychology at Rutgers University, explained to Marketing News in 2014 that social media activity—likes, retweets, comments—activates the brain’s reward center in the same way as a hug, smile or compliment. Social media interactions are positive reinforcement, he says, bringing favorable effects and drawing users back again and again.”
In fact, the development of the FB like button and follow-in post emoji and Twitter’s heart, were purposeful creations by social media designers. Julian Morgans, in a fascinating article on this subject reveals all social media platforms “use something called intermittent variable rewards.
The easiest way to understand this term is by imagining a slot machine. You pull the lever to win a prize, which is an intermittent action linked to a variable reward. Variable meaning you might win, or you might not. In the same way, you refresh your Facebook updates to see if you’ve won. Or you swipe right on Tinder to see if you’ve won.
This is the most obvious way social feedback drives platform engagement, but others are harder to spot.
You know when you open Instagram or Twitter and it takes a few moments to load updates? That’s no accident. Again, the expectation is part of what makes intermittent variable rewards so addictive. This is because, without that three-second delay, Instagram wouldn’t feel variable. There’s no sense of will I win? because you’d know instantly. So the delay isn’t the app loading. It’s the cogs spinning on the slot machine.
Another piece of psychology hijacked by social platforms is that of social reciprocity; if someone pats your back, you’ll feel pressure to pat his or hers. Facebook exploits this by alerting you when someone has read your message, which encourages the receivers to respond—because they know you know they’ve read it. And at the same time, it encourages you to check back to read the inevitable response.
The same bits of your brain get a rush on Facebook as a set of wavy dots appear as someone writes a message. You might not exit if you think you’re getting a message, or at the very least you’re more likely to come back.”
So the very design of social media platforms is to elicit an emotional and brain response meant to draw the user to the point where they are in essence addicted. It is no wonder that a quick scan of the local restaurant reveals a plethora of people with heads bowed, not in prayer over their meal, but rather over their choice of technology, posting and scrolling away vice having a conversation with those at the table.
The ugly side of social media rears its ugly head in a number of ways, starting with the addictive nature of social media. It becomes all-consuming with the basis for how one feels about themselves and others rooted in likes, re-tweets, hearts, and selfies.
Moreover, the very ugly side of social media can be found in how people interact with their fellow man. I recently wrote an article on avoiding lashon hara (evil tongue). The truths spoken of in that article feed into this issue as well. Based on my experience and observation with social media over the years, lashon hara takes place on social media largely due to the lack of personal interaction one has with the recipient of the conversation.
Prior to the submersion of society with all things technology and social media, if you wanted to speak with someone you wrote them a letter, called them, or visited them in person. This at least helped foster a more thoughtful conversation. This is not to say someone cannot be heated and engage in evil tongue through a letter, phone call, or in person. With that said, it is far easier to fire off a nasty tweet or FB post than perhaps it was to sit down and write a letter. There was something to be said for the effort of writing a letter or having that one on one conversation to include the potential for cooler heads to prevail in the process.
In a world inundated with social media, as children of God, we must always keep in mind scriptures such as Psalm 19:14. The words of our mouth, regardless of how our words are “spoken”, need to be found as acceptable in the eyes of the Father. If they are not and if you are finding your interaction and involvement with social media is not acceptable in the eyes of God, then a cease and desist order might need to be enacted. It might be time to step away from social media for a season if you find your priorities in this area of life are askew. If you find yourself constantly checking whether someone liked your FB post or gave a heart to your Tweet to the neglect of weightier matters of life, it is time, make that past time, for an honest evaluation of where your focus is in life.
I am finding on a personal note the need to step away from social media. This may seem like an odd statement given what I am sharing will be posted on a number of social media platforms. I would label an article such as this as being in the good category of social media provided I do not constantly find myself trying to check how many views, likes, and re-tweets it has garnered.
Social media can be good, bad, and ugly. I encourage you to assess where your social media participation lies. If changes need to be made, then make them soonest. Be mindful of the addictive nature of social media and the impact that addiction can have in your relationships. Most importantly, may all we do and say bring honor to God, to include our social media habits.
 Hal Conick, “Marketing’s Ethical Line Between Social Media Habit and Addiction,” American Marketing Association, April 6, 2017, accessed July 18, 2017, https://www.ama.org/publications/marketingnews/pages/marketings-ethical-line-between-social-media-habit-addiction.aspx.
 Julian Morgans, “Your Addiction to Social Media Is No Accident,” Vice, May 19, 2017, accessed July 18, 2017, https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/vv5jkb/the-secret-ways-social-media-is-built-for-addiction.
No practice in your home will prove more beneficial to your family than daily family worship.
Just as two bankers living together doesn’t make a bank, so two or more Christians living together doesn’t make a Christian home. The exchanges that happen in a bank, or in a home, define a place.
Christians worship; that is what we do. Worship defines our churches and our personal lives, and it should mark our homes. In fact, family worship has a long history in the Protestant church. Along with corporate and private worship, it has been considered one of the regular routines of the Christian life. And the benefits are eternal.
The Central Mark of the Christian Home
Of course, all kinds of activities occur in our homes. My family loves to play games, cook together, and watch funny videos. Though I love doing each of these activities with my wife and children, I hope none of these events occupies the center of our home and life together.
If you rely on internal, subjective messages and promptings from the Lord, what prevents you from imagining the input you want from Him? Moreover, what reliable, objective mechanism exists to keep you from misinterpreting your own imagination as divine instruction?
As we saw last time, many good souls and even some heroes of our faith fall into that same error, mistaking imagination for revelation. Many—perhaps most—Christians believe God uses subjective promptings to guide believers in making major decisions. A thorough search of church history would undoubtedly confirm that most believers who lean heavily on immediate “revelations” or subjective impressions ostensibly from God end up embarrassed, confused, disappointed, and frustrated.
Nothing in Scripture even suggests that we should seek either the will of God or the Word of God (personal guidance or fresh prophecy) by listening to subjective impressions. So how are we supposed to determine the divine will?
Virtually every Christian grapples with the question of how to know God’s will in any individual instance. We particularly struggle when faced with the major decisions of adolescence—what occupation or profession we will pursue, whom we will marry, whether and where we will go to college, and so on. Most of us fear that wrong decisions at these points will result in a lifetime of disaster.
Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. Luke 13:3
First of all, what is repentance? Let us see that we set down our feet firmly on this point. The importance of the inquiry cannot be overrated.
Repentance is one of the foundation stones of Christianity. Sixty times, at least, we find repentance spoken of in the New Testament. What was the first doctrine our Lord Jesus Christ reached? We are told that He said, “Repent ye, and believe the gospel” (Mar 1:15). What did the apostles proclaim when the Lord sent them forth the first time? They “preached that men should repent” (Mar 6:12). What was the charge that Jesus gave His disciples when He left the world? That “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations” (Luk 24:47). What was the concluding appeal of the first sermons that Peter preached? “Repent, and be baptized…Repent ye, and be converted” (Act 2:38; 3:19). What was the summary of doctrine that Paul gave to the Ephesian elders, when he parted from them? He told them that he had taught them publicly, and from house to house, “testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Act 20:21). What was the description that Paul gave of his own ministry, when he made his defense before Festus and Agrippa? He told them that he had showed all men that they should “repent, and do works meet for repentance” (Act 26:20). What was the account given by the believers at Jerusalem of the conversion of the Gentiles? When they heard of it, they said, “Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life” (Act 11:18)…Surely, we must all agree that these are serious considerations. They ought to show the importance of the inquiry I am now making. A mistake about repentance is a most dangerous mistake. An error about repentance is an error that lies at the very roots of our religion. What, then, is repentance? When can it be said of any man that he repents?
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. Luke 23:34
First, my friends, it appears from the text that there are unknown depths in human iniquity: “They know not what they do.” You will tell me, perhaps, that Christ applied this remark to His murderers, who did not know that He was the Son of God; for, if they had known Him to be the Messiah, “They would not have crucified the Lord of glory” (1Co 2:8); and it might have been said to them, “Ye did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1Ti 1:13). I grant you that this was the immediate meaning of Christ’s words; but, I think…this saying is true of the entire human family. Whenever any of us sin, we know not what we do.
Do not misunderstand me. There is no man in the world who has not enough perception left to teach him the difference between right and wrong…Yet I must admit at the outset that it is possible for the conscience to become so blind through prevailing customs, so seared through lengthened habit, and so perverted through absolute ignorance that men may sin and yet know not what they do…Let me show you, as briefly and forcibly as I can, how this is the fact.
Make a Plan That’s Right for You
I know men who have pages and pages of plans for their business, their finances, and their hobbies, but have never written down a single sentence of planning for their marriage. Vows, dreams, ideas, and good intentions aren’t enough. A man needs to plan. Husbands who learn to be intentional with their marriage, just as they are in other domains of life, can be used of God to bring fresh flourishing to their one-flesh union. I encourage a man to view his marriage in one-year chunks and to draft an annual plan for how he will date his wife.
Drafting an annual plan for dating your wife starts with the “air war” of your marriage — this is planning for when your B-52 Bombers will fly overhead to drop major artillery and troops in support of your marriage, helping you push your marriage forward in significant ways.