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Doubt

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
— Proverbs 17:27

Words are powerful — whether you use them to proclaim faith or renounce it. Once you say something, you cannot take it back. Once you post something on social media, you cannot delete the post. Only a week after Joshua Harris renounced his faith, Marty Sampson, a songwriter for Hillsongs who wrote many songs that we sing at church, has declared on social media, “I’m genuinely losing my faith, and it doesn’t bother me. Like, what bothers me now is nothing. I am so happy now, so at peace with the world. It’s crazy.” He continues, “[Christianity] is not for me. I am not in any more.” Needless to say, there has been a lot of backlash concerning the latest celebrity Christian fallen from grace. After deleting his post, Sampson clarified that he had not renounced his faith but is on “incredibly shaky ground.” As a believer, there were times in my life when I doubted my faith. Doubt, however, is not the absence of faith — doubt is the questioning of faith. One can only doubt when one believes. Author Os Guinness explains, “Doubt is not the opposite of faith, unbelief is. Doubt does not necessarily or automatically mean the end of faith, for doubt is faith in two minds. What destroys faith is the disobedience that hardens into unbelief.” Doubt is not necessarily bad, it can help us to grow in faith. So, was Sampson doubting or renouncing? Only he and God know the motivation of his heart but his words say it all: “I am not in any more.” Despite his efforts to cleanup his mess, he has clearly renounced his faith. The Well Church, let us be wise with our words. As we follow Christ, let us remember that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! Let us not look at our accomplishments, but let us look at Christ’s accomplishments — his life, death, and resurrection — and believe.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (Ephesians 2:9, NLT). 

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Are you in?

Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.
— Proverbs 17:27

Words are powerful — whether you use them to proclaim faith or renounce it. Once you say something, you cannot take it back. Once you post something on social media, you cannot delete the post. Only a week after Joshua Harris renounced his faith, Marty Sampson, a songwriter for Hillsongs who wrote many songs that we sing at church, has declared on social media, “I’m genuinely losing my faith, and it doesn’t bother me. Like, what bothers me now is nothing. I am so happy now, so at peace with the world. It’s crazy.” He continues, “[Christianity] is not for me. I am not in any more.” Needless to say, there has been a lot of backlash concerning the latest celebrity Christian fallen from grace. After deleting his post, Sampson clarified that he had not renounced his faith but is on “incredibly shaky ground.” As a believer, there were times in my life when I doubted my faith. Doubt, however, is not the absence of faith — doubt is the questioning of faith. One can only doubt when one believes. Author Os Guinness explains, “Doubt is not the opposite of faith, unbelief is. Doubt does not necessarily or automatically mean the end of faith, for doubt is faith in two minds. What destroys faith is the disobedience that hardens into unbelief.” Doubt is not necessarily bad, it can help us to grow in faith. So, was Sampson doubting or renouncing? Only he and God know the motivation of his heart but his words say it all: “I am not in any more.” Despite his efforts to cleanup his mess, he has clearly renounced his faith. The Well Church, let us be wise with our words. As we follow Christ, let us remember that we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone! Let us not look at our accomplishments, but let us look at Christ’s accomplishments — his life, death, and resurrection — and believe.

Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it (Ephesians 2:9, NLT). 

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Solo Christianity

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Solo Christianity

Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. — Hebrews 3:12-14

Can you walk with God without other believers? “Solo Christianity” is a growing segment in America and many churches are working hard to accommodate them. In a recent study by LifeWay Research (August 2019), sixty-five percent of Protestant churchgoers say that they can walk with God alone. This view somewhat reveals America’s strong individualism. Whether believers or not, Americans do not want to admit that they cannot do things ALONE. The internet is full of DIY and self-help videos. Prayer and bible study are moving away from groups and into private Quiet Times. Interestingly, the same research finds that seventy-five percent of Protestants say they need other believers to help them grow in their walk with God. These two statements are contradictory. This study indicates that the cause of this contradiction comes from the lack of discipleship in churches. “The ‘needing, yet not needing’ responses demonstrate an internal turmoil of individuals desiring community, but not seeing the church as the place to have those needs met” (LifeWay Research). Biblically speaking, Solo Christianity cannot exist. By quoting Hebrews 3:12-14, John Piper says, “Christian fellowship is a means of perseverance in faith.” In other words, WE NEED EACH OTHER. The Well Church, what about you? Do you believe that you need your church community to grow in your walk with God? How are you helping others to grow? We need to be true friends with one another. One practical way to be a true friend is to “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrew 3:13). 

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I can't believe the news today...

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
—Romans 8:28-9

Joshua Harris, former megachurch pastor and author of “I Kissed Dating Goodbye” shocked the evangelical world this week by not only announcing on social media his divorce from his wife of twenty years, but also his divorce from Christianity. Harris said, “I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is deconstruction, the biblical phrase is falling away. By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian.” What happened? Harris is not the first famous Christian to renounce Christianity, nor will he be the last. One theological question that comes up in situations like this is “Can believers lose their faith?” The biblical answer is NO. The Bible is clear that no one can lose their salvation. R.C. Sproul said, “True Christians can have radical and serious falls but never total and final falls from grace.” In other words, if those who fall were genuinely Christian, they will eventually turn from their sin and repent. Who are genuine Christians? Making an outward profession is not the same as being a Christian. Jesus said, “This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me” (Matthew 15:8). If there is no repentance from a fallen “believer,” then let us remember 1 John 2:19 — “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” Are you born again? Be confident that to those who have been born again, nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:39b). As we affirm our faith in Jesus Christ, let us pray for Joshua Harris and all who are impacted by him. Let us pray for those who we personally know that have fallen from grace.

My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness;
I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus' name.

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Trust and Obey

I will incline my ear to a proverb;
I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre. 

Why should I fear in times of trouble, when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
those who trust in their wealth and boast of the abundance of their riches? —Psalm 49:4-6

Our natural tendency is to be afraid in times of trouble. Some psychologists believe that fear is a learned behavior, whereas others believe that we were born to be afraid — a survival instinct. Whether fear is learned or not, the Bible is clear that we ought not to fear. Some pastors teach that faith is the opposite of fear. Although I do not fully subscribe to this statement, I do firmly believe that a lack of faith leads to fear. So, how does one increase their faith in God? The psalmist teaches, “I will incline my ear to a proverb; I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre” (Psalm 49:4). What the psalmist is saying is that we need to be singing God’s Word — when we worship through song, we are not only reminding ourselves of God’s power to save, but we are also increasing our faith. We will no longer fear, once we know God and follow His ways.

The Well Church, what fears are you facing today? Is your finances, job, family, friends, coworkers, church, etc. weighing you down? Are you facing an impossible situation and do not know how to resolve it? Are you trying to work these issues out with your own wisdom, wealth, and abilities? Or, are you stressed and feeling anxious beyond belief? God is calling His people to live by faith by trusting fully in Him. Let us go to God and worship Him through songs TODAY. Let us sing God’s Word and saturate our hearts with Truth. Let us be a body that lives by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). Let us not sing empty words, but pay attention to each word we read and sing. Let us make our service to God count today.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way, to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

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Let us make room for God by spending time with Him through reading Scripture and committing it to memory

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Let us make room for God by spending time with Him through reading Scripture and committing it to memory

I have stored up your word in my heart,
that I might not sin against you. 
— Psalm 119:11

According to Barna research, over 85% of American households own a Bible. Even the majority (62%) of Antagonistic and Skeptic (67%) households own a Bible (Barna, State of the Bible, 2017). The question remains, Do we read the Bible? As we have been witnessing at The Well, persecution of “illegal house churches” are continuing in China. To make matters worse, the government is mandating the installation of HD surveillance cameras in their government-sanctioned Three-Self churches. As a result, many Chinese Christians are imprisoned for their faith. Attending an underground seminary can result in a three-year prison sentence. An American Pastor, Wayne Cordeiro, shared an experience he had in China as he was there to train Christian leaders. Imprisoned believers are memorizing Scripture passages smuggled to them on small pieces of paper because the government “can’t take what’s hidden in your heart.” A woman who had recited 2 Peter 1 from memory at Cordeiro’s seminar said, “In prison, you have much time in prison … [Because the prison guards confiscate the Bible] we memorize it as fast as we can because even though they can take the paper away, they can’t take what’s hidden in your heart.” The Well Church, we have the opposite problem in America. Even though we have many copies of the Bible, many of us do not read it nor commit it to memory because we have not given Scripture the attention it deserves. Proverbs 30:5 states, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” The Word of God is trustworthy! As we pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world, let us model after their faith. Let us make room for God by spending time with Him through reading Scripture and committing it to memory.

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Would you join me in praying for our president that he may know Christ?

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Would you join me in praying for our president that he may know Christ?

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior. — 1 Timothy 2:1–3

Most Christians would agree that they want to please God. In 1 Timothy, the Apostle Paul teaches that praying for all people, including kings and those in leadership, is good and pleasing to God. Last Sunday, June 2, 2019, Franklin Graham called for a special day of prayer for President Donald Trump. Many believers, especially those who do not endorse Trump as president, disagreed with Graham and thought that his call to pray was more political in nature. Some churches opted to not address Graham’s call to pray. When David Platt, pastor of McLean Bible Church in VA prayed for the President during an unscheduled visit at his church on Sunday, he prayed for the president by laying hands on him. This simple act of praying for President Trump upset some members of his church and he had to write a letter to his congregation concerning his prayer because Pratt’s prayer for the president was viewed as his endorsement of the sitting president. To clarify the concerns of many he wrote, “My aim was in no way to endorse the president, his policies, or his party, but to obey God’s command to pray for our president and other leaders to govern in the way this passage portrays.” He then made an apology for hurting some members and asked for grace. As a pastor, I respect and admire David Platt’s ministry. However, I do not think he had to apologize for obeying Scripture. Whether we endorse our president or not, we are called to pray for him. The Well Church, would you join me in praying for our president that he may know Christ? It is good and pleasing to God.

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Who do you need to pray for today?

Who do you need to pray for today?

Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. - 1 Samuel 12:23

In Birmingham, AL, a first-grade teacher who prayed with her class before lunch every day was told to stop due to a complaint from the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF). The complaint states, “A concerned parent has report that a first-grade teacher at Norwood Elementary School leads her students in prayer every day before lunch.” What is the big deal with prayer by a teacher? The FFRF responded, “Public school teachers and administrators may not promote religion by leading students in prayer, encouraging students to pray, participating in student-initiated prayer, or otherwise endorsing religion to students.” How would you feel if you were that reprimanded teacher? What would you do? In this week’s Scripture reading, we see Samuel’s role changing after the inauguration of King Saul. He is no longer the Judge of Israel, however, he continues to represent God as a prophet who gives the word of God to all Israel, including the king. At his farewell address as a Judge to Israel in 1 Samuel 12, he encourages Israel to “serve the Lord with all your heart … [f]or the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake” (vv. 21-22). As God’s prophet and representative, he promised that he would not cease to pray for Israel (v. 23). I believe that the action of the FFRF is not necessarily a loss for the teacher or Christians. Just as Samuel interceded for all Israel in his new role, she and we can privately intercede for those around us. As it is written, “First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people” (1 Timothy 2:1). Who do you need to pray for today? Let us boldly lift up prayers in faith.