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armor-of-God-ebook-cover-resizedI’ve written a new 34-age eBook for Unlocking the Bible called Spiritual Warfare and the Armor of God: God’s Battle Plan from Ephesians 6:10-20.

In this short eBook, I unpack the armor of God passage in Ephesians 6 and share God’s desire and provision for the battles we face in life.

Reading Spiritual Warfare and the Armor of God will encourage the discouraged by reminding them of the spiritual protection available to them, motivate the stagnant to live gospel-advancing lives, and empower the weary to rest in the strength God provides.

Download Your Free Copy

Enjoy-the-post-3Spiritual Warfare eBook - Table of Contents

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This post is the second in a series. You can read the first 16 Signs You May Be A Culturally Captive Christian.

If you read the first post in this series, you have seen several examples of how Christians conform to the world and are “captive” to its ideas instead of the Word of God. This post deals with the same issue–but with an important difference.

Christian communities are filled with sinners in the process of sanctification. Many Christian sub-cultures function exactly like the world–except use Christian labels and generally stay away from the “major” sins. This is to say, that there can be a type of “Christian worldliness” inside of the Christian bubble of a church group, Christian school, or organization.

Many of the things I share are observations from my time in church and at two Christian schools–and some most of which I have been guilty of personally.

As you read through this post, ask yourself where you may be guilty and ask God for help and grace to change. When you’re done, join the conversation in the comments by sharing any additional examples you can think of.

23 Signs You May Be Captive to Your Christian Sub-Culture and Missing True Christianity

1. You quote more Christian songs than you can Scriptures.

2. You rave more about what a Christian book teaches you than you do what God teaches you through His Word.

3. You can talk naturally with your Christian friends about everything–except your relationship with the Lord and His Word.

4.You equate enjoyment of Christian friendships and church activity with a strong relationship with God.

5. You are “gold-digger Christian”–one who only loves God because of what you can get from Him. (HT)

6. You get excited about a celebrity saying they are “Christian” even when their lifestyle says something totally different.

7. You base your faith more on conversations with your Christian peers rather than a diligent study of the Scriptures.

8. You avoid practicing many spiritual disciplines because you don’t want to be “too legalistic.”

9. Your pursuit of holiness mainly involves staying away from “big” sins and anything that would hurt your reputation in front of other Christians.

10. You base your theology on popular “Christian” sayings like “Let go and let God” more than on Scripture.

11. You repent just enough to feel better about your sin and be happy again than you do to please God and show Him how sorry you are for your sin.

12. On a missions trip, you are more concerned with great Instagram photos of yourself with those you serve than you are about having a lasting impact.

13. You get more upset about how others act in matter-of-conscience issues like drinking or entertainment choices than you do your own sin. (See Romans 14.)

14. You know more about your favorite Christian band/author/athlete than you do about the Apostle Paul, Moses, or Christ Himself.

15. If you have accountability, you care more about not being embarrassed in front of your partner than you do about offending a holy God with your sin.

gossipsm16. You think you never gossip–but don’t realize many of your prayer requests, complaints about people, and questioning of leadership are gossip.

17. You have a consumerist approach to worship where you need to “get something out of worship” at the Sunday service instead of pouring out your heart in worship to God.

18. You are quick to rave about your pastor’s great preaching instead of revel in the greatness of God and how He speaks through His Word.

19. Your definition of fellowship is anything done with other Christians–regardless of any mention of the name of Christ.

20. Dating anyone is OK as long as they are a Christian and go to church, regardless of their true spiritual maturity.

21. You think your service for the Lord should earn you His favor instead of serving out of a joy that you already have His favor by being clothed with Christ’s righteousness.

22. You are more worried if a band labels themselves as “Christian” than you do if their lyrics and music develop a deeper passion for Christ in your life.

23. You listen to the popular lie that church attendance is not vitally important for Christians but merely one way of connecting with God.


Did you enjoy that list? Truthfully, I actually hope you didn’t. I hope it grieved your soul like it did mine as I wrote it and brainstormed how I have slapped a Christian mask on my worldliness.

So quickly we can fall away from God! So quickly we can turn to idols and be influenced by others more than God’s Word! So quickly we can be satisfied sitting in the mud making mud pies than we are to pursue the greatness of God and behold His incomparable wonder (to quote C.S. Lewis).

What’s the remedy for “Christian” worldliness?

The book of Romans provides us the answers which can be found on either side of the command of Romans 12:2 “do not be conformed to this world”:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…” (Romans 12:1-2).

The fuel for our obedience for God and our non-conformity to the world is based on the finished work of Christ on the cross. This is part of what the “mercies of God” refers to 12:1 (that also refers to all of Romans 1-11). Dwelling on the mercies of God will remind us what is of “first importance” (1 Corinthians 15:3)–God saving sinners and reconciling us to His family by the blood of Christ–and is what motivates us to:

  • live lives of spiritual worship
  • deepen our understanding of God’s purpose for the church and Christian community
  • enrich our spiritual friendships
  • help us be more gracious with others, and
  • avoid many of the traps of Christian worldliness

Christian–be intentional about renewing your mind in the gospel. Make it a daily and moment-by-moment practice like staying hydrated or breathing. Fear the Lord and make your relationship with Him more important than anything else in your life.

Seek the things above and pray for God’s transforming grace to impact your life in a way that will help you break free from captivity to the Christian sub-culture to live a holy and acceptable life before God. You’ll be glad you did.

Which of these have you been guilty of too?

What are other ways you have been a worldly Christian?

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be back soon

Rest is good. God says so.

I love blogging and hope to do it for years to come. I love writing to clarify my thinking, sharing what God is teaching me, and linking to excellent resources–and I hope it is valuable to you, that’s why I do it.

Over the past couple of months, my blog has picked up steam and grown in exciting ways. As I look to the future and consider my ministry, my relationships, and this blog, I thought it would be most beneficial to take a month-long blogging break to set my focus on the Lord and other top priorities. I hope to be back blogging semi-regularly come October. (I will continue to post relevant articles and thoughts on my Facebook and Twitter pages.)

I have a few reasons to take a little break:

1. Rest. I love blogging–but like anything good in life, it needs to be done in moderation. Taking a break will help me refocus on the important things in life, refresh my mind, and rest more intentionally. I hope to hit the ground running in October with the blog and I have several ideas I’m very excited about–so stay tuned!

2. Renewed focus on friends, family, and life at church. In addition to spending quality time with friends and family, I’m part of a team that is launching a Spanish ministry at my church.

Please pray for us as we seek to bring the gospel to Spanish-speakers around us. There is tremendous need–but there is a tremendous God who can help fill the need.

3. I’m putting the finishing touches on a short eBook I’m putting out through Unlocking the Bible. When it is posted I will link to it.

4.I’m raising support for my position with Leadership Resources International. I work with our communications team in Chicagoland and also train pastors in Latin America to preach God’s Word with God’s heart. Right now I’m looking for monthly partners who can join me in strengthening the global church for biblical ministry through launching pastoral training movements (learn more here).

You can donate to my ministry here by selecting “Kevin Halloran” in the designation field. Please pray for me as I raise support and serve with LRI. I’m incredibly blessed to be on staff with such a great organization doing such impactful Kingdom work. If you have any questions or would like to know more about our work, contact me!

Please pray for me during this blog sabbatical of sorts for me to have a restful time filled with refreshment from friends/family and that I would make progress in raising support.

5. I’m praying for you (or at least I’d like to be!). I care about each and every person who visits my blog. If you have any prayer requests, feel free to email me at Kevin (at) kevinhalloran.net or send me a message on Facebook or Twitter with your request and I promise I will pray for you.

See you in October!

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tim-kellerFrom time to time, Pastor and notable author Timothy Keller schedules a time on Twitter to answer questions about the Bible, ministry, book recommendations, and his personal life. Below is the most recent #AskTK event that took place July 28, 2014.

Special thanks to Cameron Moore for compiling this and the two previous #AskTK events which you can see here: 12/31/13 and 4/29/14).

For the sake of convenience, I have linked to articles and books he references. Some links are Amazon affiliate links, which means Amazon shares with me a small % of the sale with no extra cost to you (just for disclosure’s sake!).

Q: Favorite puritan?
TK: That’s easy, John Owens because Jonathan Edwards is not technically a Puritan.

Q: Favorite Lewis book?
TK: Another easy one: Mere Christianity.

Q: What is your opinion of “praying in tongues”?
TK: I like Don Carson’s book “Showing the Spirit” on this one. Balanced, thoughtful, and rooted in Scripture.

Q: Was there ever a point in the last several years that you questioned your role in ministry?
TK: When Kathy was sick a few years ago, I questioned if I should leave ministry for a while.

Q: Do you envision a time where we will see a “consolidation” of Christian denominations? church seems too fragmented
TK: As long as The Church strives for both unity AND purity there will always be denominations.

Q: Shake Shack or In-N-Out?
TK: Easy, Shake Shack in NYC. Better quality meat.

Q: Advice for young educators? (I teach English lit to 12-17 year olds)
TK: Similar to a question last time: At that age they need Christianity modeled more than explained.–Doesn’t have to be Christian education, just modeling your faith is important for 12-17 year olds.

Q: Favorite Doctor [Who]?
TK: David Tennant. Bonus: Favorite episode is “Blink.” Of course.

Q: Have you read Harry Potter- if yes, did you like them… If no- why not?
TK: Yes loved them, great examples of sacrificial love conquering evil reminds me of another story.

Q: Favorite coffee shop in NYC?
TK: None. I don’t drink coffee. I’m a Harney and sons Tea kind of guy, not to mention PG Tips.

Q: Most influential book on pastoring?
TK: Charles Bridges “The Christian Ministry” and Richard Baxter’s “The Reformed Pastor” and William Still’s book on pastoring

Q: What is your favorite movie?
TK: The Black Stallion

Q: What advice, counsel, or scripture would you give to a new father struggling with anger?
TK: Get help in discovering what idols are at the root of your anger.

Q: Fav commentary series for the NT?
TK: Pillar and Bible Speaks Today Series.

Q: What brings you the most joy in ministry?
TK: Conversions

Q: Ministry ever hurt so bad you thought your heart couldn’t take anymore?
TK: Of course.

Q: One mistake you witness church planters making more frequently than others?
TK: Concentration on superficialities-such as vibe or look.

Q: The Narnia series or LOTR- preference? Downtown attender Ryan Frater and I have a bet going.
TK: I do not prefer one over the other. They are too different.

Q: Literal Adam, common ancestry, both, or agnosticism on this question?
TK: I believe in a literal Adam and all human beings are descended from Adam.

Q: Should infant baptism be an issue that ends a dating relationship?
TK: You shouldn’t marry someone who will not happily go to the same church with you.

Q: I’ve listened to your sermon on God’s love for cities. How do you feel about rural ministry?
TK: I think its important. See my article “The Country Parson” from 2009.

Q: Can a person be a Christian without being a member of a church?
TK: Yes, but you are not an obedient Christian if u are not a member of a church. You can’t obey Heb 13:17 without membership.

Q: Confused while trying to see story of Jesus/Gospel while reading 1&2 Chronicles. Can you help?
TK: See Michael Wilcock on 1&2 Chronicles.

Q: Your process to teaching someone how to pray?
TK: I have a book coming out in Nov. on prayer and it’s my effort to teach people how to pray more fruitfully.

Q: Calvinism or Arminianism?
TK: Calvinism. You must have known I would say that? :)

Q: Advice for someone who wants to be a future theology teacher?
TK: Get some pastoral experience as well as a great academic degree.

Q: How redemptive suffering/pain can remit the just punishment for one’s sins ?
TK: It can’t. See Martin Luther on this.

Q: What is your advice for how to better foster Christian community, particularly in a college environment?
TK: My son says you have to make time for each other, convince them to do it not over the internet, and cultivate vulnerability.

Q: Tips for raising a family in the city?
TK: My wife Kathy has written on “Why the City is a wonderful place to raise children.” It is very good.

Q: Are there any books you would recommend to someone who is grieving? My friends just lost a child at 6months old.
TK: Books are hard with those who are grieving, but try to find Elisabeth Elliot’s book “A Path Through Suffering.”

Q: What would you say is the MAIN difference between teaching and preaching?
TK: The goal. The goal of teaching is inform the mind, maybe warm the heart, but preaching is worship.

Q: What would you say is the primary purpose of apologetics?
TK: To clear the way for evangelism.

Q: Is the Problem of Evil the biggest objection to faith people have today?
TK: It is still in the top 2. The other one is the charge of narrowness and bigotry, but that has many forms.

Q: Would you care to mention one of your failings that we might find encouraging? Many thank yous.
TK: Not one-I have struggled with sins of all types-not enough love, not enough faith, not enough hope, self-pity, selfishness, more

Q: Why did God create people. Did His own great value compel Him with an irresistible enthusiasm to share Himself?
TK: Read Edwards “Concerning the End for which God created the World.” [or Kindle version]

Q: What’s one piece of advice you would tell your younger self, or something you wished you knew then that you know now about The Lord?
TK: I would tell him that prayer is way more important than he thinks.

Q: Recommend any bible reading plans?
TK: I like to use M’Cheyne’s first three columns. That takes you through the Bible once in a year, three chapters a day.

Q: Why are so many of our fellow Reformed believers so bitter/angry?
TK: In fairness, those opposing Reformed theology seem pretty bitter and angry too. It may be “the age” and the internet.

Q: What’s your favourite book this year?
TK: Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age.

Q: Should Christians believe in souls, or just bodily resurrection?
TK: Both.

Q: Can you please recommend books on 1-Sin in believer’s life 2-Spiritual discipline
TK: 1-Owen On Mortification. 2-Owen on Spiritual Mindedness. These are not easy reads.

Q: What has been the hardest book to write & why?
TK: The book I just finished, because it was on Prayer.

Q: Serious question: Have you read @james_ka_smith’s How (Not) to Be Secular? If so, any thoughts?
TK: Yes, It’s a very subtle and sophisticated critique of secularism. Christians need it.

Q: What was your favorite Theological class? Undergrad or Grad
TK: Meredith Kline’s class on Old Testament theology.

Q: How much does your wife influence how you think, prep, and preach?
TK: Enormously. More than any living person.

Q: Any plans for a new apologetic book to come out?
TK: Yes, someday I hope.

Q: What’s the first step you take when you begin writing a new book?
TK: I read a lot of other books on the subject.

Q: An open endorser of BioLogos would almost certainly be outside the theological bounds of TGC. Why do you get a pass?
TK: Theological statement is on the website and council members are free to believe in an Old Earth.

Q: (This is real question) point me to a good understanding of “women will be saved through childbearing”?
TK: Many theories-one good one is Paul is thinking of Eve in Gen and the promise that the Savior will come through her offspring

Q: Is broccoli acceptable in casserole form?
TK: Never.

Q: And where do you get your news from?
TK: NYT, WSJ, New Republic, Atlantic, and my sons.

Q: CS Lewis space trilogy or Chronicles?
TK: Depends on my mood.

Q: What’s your favorite color?
TK: I don’t have one.

Q: Any plans to release a daily devotional?
TK: No, I don’t however we are working with the Youversion Bible App to get stuff like that on it.

Q: Who did you want to win the World Cup?!
TK: I won’t watch or really follow many sports or sport teams. I know that makes me strange.

Q: What is the most significant theological understanding you’ve come to cherish?
TK: Simply put, Grace.

Q: What is most important when choosing someone to marry?
TK: Besides being of the same faith, it would be someone who can forgive and repent regularly.

Q: Biggest problem you see in modern evangelism efforts?
TK: Talking past each other is happening more and more as we have less and less common ground to stand on.

Q: Atonement theory: Christus Victor or Penal Substitution? Or maybe, both?
TK: Yes. Paul uses many different paradigms and we can too.

Q: How have good stories helped mature your faith?
TK: They put theoretical truths in ways I can relate to them.

Q: How was Christ able to satisfy God’s eternal wrath against man in only three hours?
TK: Longer answer needed. When Christ was separated from the Godhead, it was the first time ever that relationship was broken.

Q: Advice on raising pure, godly boys in this sex-crazed world? Or books to read on the topic?
TK: Pray for them, model faith for them, and put good filters on the internet in your home.

Q: How do you respond to the accusations that you are endorsing theistic evolution ?
TK: I’m published and on record on this topic. The problem is people have different definitions of this term.

Q: Why do you have that AWFUL popcorn ceiling?! Get out of the 70′s, man!
TK: I’m on vacation with my family. #notmyfault

Q: What cultural idols are the hardest to combat for a church in NYC?
TK: Extreme individualism, and materialism.

Q: How does one deal with the charge of narrowness and bigotry without compromising on the truth of the gospel?
TK: I talk about this in Reason for God some. The charge of narrowness is usually a culturally imperialistic assumption.

Q: How do you stay charged up during your 4th sermon in one day?
TK: It is hard. Best answer: practice.

Q: Do you play sports?
TK: No, though I do run regularly.

Q: I’m starting seminary next month. biggest piece of advice you can give me?
TK: Always ask the, “So what?”–question. When studying we can forget “the WHY we are” question.

Q: I’m getting married in 2 weeks. Just finished “Meaning of Marriage” – thanks! Any last minute words of wisdom?
TK: Have fun getting to know each other!

Q: Yoga: a danger for Christians? or a harmless workout?
TK: Depends on how you are using it. Some it is just stretching and body movements, for others its a religious position.

Q: What is the best way to get a seminary education while living in NYC?
TK: Don’t quote me on this, but we are working on an option beginning sometime in 2015 (maybe).

Q: If you could speak about one apologetic for Christianity to a group of college skeptics what would it be?
TK: Probably show that there is no such thing as a non-religious view. All views are inherently religious.

Q: What’s the difference between prayer and meditation?
TK: Prayer is the conversation between you and God-Meditation is thinking on God’s words in Scripture that can often lead to prayer

Q: Is this your first Twitter Q&A, and what do you think of Twitter for this?
TK: Nope, 4th or 5th? There are summaries of old #AskTK out there. I think Twitter is a great medium for Q&A if the answers can be shor

Q: Been a fan of your work for a long time. My Q: how are you planning to engage w the arguments in Vines’ new book?
TK: I’m not sure yet, but many of the arguments within have been around for a while.

Q: Do you have a best practice for saying “no” to others in a constructive way?
TK: Saying it in love? Whatever that looks like, depending on the context.

Q: How would you respond to the charge that the Christian faith is too narrow?
TK: Simple. Every faith is “narrow.” Even the faith that says all faiths are equal excludes those who disagree. Can’t help it.

Q: Is that why I didn’t got an answer last time? :) not possible in 140 characters?
TK: Many of the questions I choose not to answer can’t be in a single sentence. So I choose not to. So–maybe!

Q: My husband and I have been married 9 months. What advice would you give us?
TK: Make you have regular “check-ins.” Communication tends to be one of the main problems with newlyweds.

Q: What’s more difficult in today’s American culture: to be married or single?
TK: They both have their unique challenges. Every era has different ones for married and singles alike.

Q: Favorite Chronicles of Narnia book?
TK: The first one, properly known as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.

Q: If you could recommend one book this year, what would it be?
TK: Words of Life by Timothy Ward is a great book on Scripture I read recently.

Q: What drew you to Presbyterianism, as opposed to CRC/RCA, Anglicanism, etc…?
TK: Roger Nicole’s stuff on infant baptism help start it, but Kathy was there first.

Q: How come you don’t like/pay attention to sports?
TK: It often takes too much time.

Q:Which apologetics methodology “camp” do you most ID with? Classical, evidential, Van Til, Clark, G. Lewis, etc.
TK: Probably a soft version of Van Til, though I see benefits in all the different apologetic streams.

Q: I’m attending seminary next Spring. How do you make sure that Christianity doesn’t become a purely intellectual pursuit?
TK: Keep asking the practical questions. The so what and why questions, means there is a reason for your learning.

Q: Does your wife make you watch #TheBachelorette like mine does?
TK: No

Q: Who are your favorite puritans\ saints or preachers of old?
TK: John Owens, Jonathan Edwards, Thomas Brooks…

Q: I know I’m late to the #AskTK party but if @timkellernyc ran a 5k with @ThabitiAnyabwil who wins?
TK: @1NickMiller Winning, but I am a one trick pony. Running is all I do.

Q: Late to #AskTK: any one theologian/pastor to study and get to know well while at GCTS? (eg Calvin, Edwards, or Bonhoeffer)
TK: Yes. All, but more likely one. Also good is Bavinck.–I would do Berkhof and then every page of Calvin’s Institutes.

Q: When is your book on prayer going to be available on Kindle?
TK: Nov, when it is released.

Q: Will Kathy be writing any more? Jesus, Justice & Gender roles best book ever read on subject
TK: I hope she will. Nothing coming out soon.

Q: What is the biggest thing your wife, Kathy has done to support you in ministry over the years?
TK: Move to New York to start Redeemer when she didn’t want to.

Q: What’s your favorite book on the Holy Spirit?
TK: Last #AskTK answer for a while. See Ferguson’s book and JI Packer’s book. They are old but good. –Packer’s book is called Keep in Step with the Spirit.

Book Cover How-will-the-World-End-by-Jeramie-RinneThe Bible says a lot about the end of the world, but for many, the topic is wrapped up in a maze of confusing debates and viewpoints. When does the millennium reign of Christ happen–if at all? When is the tribulation? How will we know who the anti-Christ is? Many Christians are left scratching their heads at these questions or scared of even mentioning them due to the over abundance of end-times wackos out there.

In How Will the World End? And Other Questions about the last Things and the Second Coming of Christ, a short, 93 page book, Jeramie Rinne helpfully summarizes the Bible’s teaching on the end times, keeping a gospel perspective, and focusing on the most important, non-debatable issues. Questions answered in this book each have their own chapter: How will the world end? What will happen before Jesus comes back? How will Jesus come back? Will Jesus come back before or after the millennium? What happens after Jesus comes back? And how should we live until Jesus comes back?

He compares his approach to a swimming pool:

“…this book will not take you on a deep dive to the bottom of the pool to study the tile work around the drain. Rather, this book is intended to help Christians go past their ankles, get wet, and learn to enjoy swimming in the topic without drowning.”

One major way Rinne stays focused is by reminding us that our eyes need to constantly be fixed on Jesus and His glory amidst the confusion over timelines and exact chronologies that fuel much of the eschatological debates. Rinne’s devotion to the main storyline of the Bible and the hope we have in Jesus Christ allows him to fulfill his major hope for the book, which is to,

help you move from being confused about the end times to having a basic, common-sense understanding. I trust it will free you from fear and anxiety, and enable you to find joy and peace in thinking about the end of the world. Christians should not dread what the Bible says about the end. They should glory in it.

This is a book you can read in an hour or two that will give you a good introductory-level grasp of eschatology (the study of the last things) in a way that provides a needed dose of big-picture perspective that stays focused on what is most important.

If you are looking for a short and accessible primer to the Bible’s teaching on the end of the world (and related issues), How Will the World End? will give you satisfy you. This is a book I will recommend to friends and people at church who want to be taught the basics in an encouraging way that will make you say, “Come, Lord Jesus!”

Also in this series:

This book was provided by Cross Focused Reviews in exchange for a fair review.

Links-To-Make-You-Think-and-Grow

Praying in the Spirit by J. Oswald Sanders

Here’s a great quote from a great article:

“True prayer is God the Holy Spirit talking to God the Father in the name of God the Son, and the believer’s heart is the prayerroom.” –Samuel M. Zwemer

12 Quiet Rituals of Enormously Successful Humans by Marc and Angel

 

Four Temptations: How Internet Habits Can Cripple Book Reading by Tony Reinke

This is an excerpt from the book Lit!: A Christian Guide to Reading Books which I recommend.

Top 10 Most Common Atheist Arguments and Why They Fail by Eric Hyde

 

A Christian Review of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Matt Slick

I wholeheartedly agree with this short and sweet review of the new TMNT movie.

How then Should We Work? from IFWE