May 032016
 

timthumb.phpThe church is for losers…

The importance of the ascension…

Good News Club bullies?

Was the Apostle Paul a male chauvinist?

How to become a heretic…

Was the Tower of Babel a historical event?

13 end times errors to avoid…

Orthodox churches being targeted?

The United Methodist church in freefall…

Escaping Scientology…

Couples that pray together,stay together…

Six qualifications for elders that Paul neglected to mention…

K-LOVE making bank…

What’s your label?

What is fundamentalism?

The dysfunction of the charismatic church…

Taking on the Rapture…

Beyond spiritual hoarding…

Chinas plans for Christianity…

An American war on Christianity?

Wenatchee on the prophet/priest/king model…

Inside Bethel…

Puritans on the Potomac…

Does church architecture matter?

Excellent bibliography on Saeed Abedini…will come in handy when the other shoe drops.

Is America a Christian nation?

Huge thanks as always to EricL…support him at top right.

May 022016
 

_end-of-the-world_2433119bGreg Laurie has written yet another piece on the “end times” for the Christian Post.

“Pastor Greg Laurie pulled no punches in his warning to congregants of California-based Harvest Christian Fellowship Church Thursday night, explaining that Christians are living in the last days and tougher times lay ahead, in a message based on the Bible’s book of Revelation 6-19 titled “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.”

“We are living in the last days and, yes, the worst is yet to come,” said Laurie, listing major signs of the end times: “Antichrist. Armageddon. The great tribulation period. The four horsemen of the apocalypse.”

The historic Doomsday Clock is ticking ever closer to global catastrophe, Laurie explained, saying according to scientists, it registers “3 minutes ’til Doomsday,” when it says the world will experience a nuclear Armageddon.”

The main evidence given by Laurie is that of the Iran-Israel conflict.

This pretty much ignores the fact that Israel has the ability to nuke Iran into the Stone Age should the need arise.

Are things today worse than they’ve ever been?

Let’s look at another year…1918.

The world is at war.

Technology has enabled weaponry advances that create casualties at a rate unknown before in history.

By the time the war is over at least 15 million people are dead.

The seeds of future conflicts, including those in the Middle East, are planted.

Those war numbers pale in comparison to the 50 million people who die in a worldwide influenza epidemic.

Antibiotics and modern surgical techniques are still decades away from common use…so the death rate from (now) curable disease is off the charts.

Freedom of speech is legally curtailed by Congress to suppress criticism of American involvement in the war.

German immigrants are looked at with hostility and suspicion; “In the wake of the declaration of war, Wilson classified German immigrants over the age of fourteen as enemy aliens who had to surrender all firearms and wireless radios, as well as register for Selective Service so the government could monitor their whereabouts. They were also prohibited from living next to military installations. Schools banned German-language instruction, orchestras stopped playing German music in public, and towns drew up laws that prevented aliens from voting.”

The traditional Christian church is at war with German higher criticism and the historic mainline churches are abandoning the “fundamentals” of the faith.

It was a difficult time in history…but Jesus didn’t return.

The Apostle Peter said we were already in the end times 2000 years ago.

I believe that.

I also believe there have been much more difficult times to live in, with much greater “signs” than we see now.

Might I suggest that instead of trying to convince people of how bad things are that we give thanks for how incredibly good things are in comparison?

Granted, it won’t sell books or generate click bait, but it may please Jesus enough to come pick us up sooner than later…

May 022016
 

jesus_walks_on_water-300x200Stay in the Boat!

“And Peter answered him, ‘Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.’ He said, ‘Come.’ So Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, ‘Lord, save me.’

Jesus immediately reached out his hand and took hold of him, saying to him, ‘O you of little faith, why did you doubt?’” (Matt 14:28-31)

It’s amusing that the disciple whose name means “rock” thought he could walk on water. What was Peter thinking? That would have been quite an achievement, if only…. Peter ate some crow that evening.

But, someone might protest: “Jesus said ‘come’. Surely Jesus would not give Peter a command unless He also gave Peter the ability to keep it.” Should we pin failure on Peter’s lack of faith? Or, did Jesus command the impossible from Peter? But commanding the impossible is unjust; isn’t it? Surely God is not unjust!

There’s one other factor to consider. Only the right material can stay above water. It must be lighter than the water to stay on top. Peter wasn’t the right stuff to walk on water. He wanted to be the right stuff, or maybe he thought he already was the right stuff, so Peter asked for the command – to show commitment to Jesus and maybe show the other disciples who was the greatest among them. Jesus went along with Peter, and in the process taught Peter and all of us a couple valuable lessons.

We are not the right stuff.

We are like a feather with a giant rock inseparably glued to it. The rock is our sin. Our human nature is thoroughly corrupted by sin. If we attempt to come to God, we only sink under the weight of the rock of our sin. The Bible is chock-full of commandments. God’s commandments show us his holy character and perfect will for us. If we could carry out God’s commandments, we could bring ourselves to God. But, we can’t cross the water that separates us from God. We sink because of our sin. We are not the right stuff.

But there’s good news in this lesson. God’s commandments also show us something else; they show us our sin and need of a savior. When we realize that we can’t cross the water and give up trying, then we cry out for the One who can. “Lord, save me.” Once we realize we are not the right stuff, Jesus calls us blessed: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 5:3) Jesus wants us to stay in the boat where it’s safe and leave the water-walking to Him. He will come to us. He will still the wind and calm the sea.

Jesus is the right stuff.

Jesus came to save sinners. He loves to save sinners. When we feel the weight of our sin pulling us down and under, Jesus reaches down into the water, takes hold of us, and pulls us up to Him. We can’t cross the water, but Jesus can…and does…for us. He is the right stuff. In this life, we hunger and thirst for righteousness, and Jesus calls us blessed. Why? Because Jesus is our righteousness. (1 Cor 1:30) So, we can stay safely in the boat.

The Blessed Exchange.

Jesus eternally saves sinners through a blessed exchange effected through the incarnation, cross and preaching. In this exchange, Jesus takes our sin so that it cannot accuse us and gives us forgiveness so that we have His righteousness to boast in, not our own. Also called the righteousness of faith (Rom 4:13), this righteousness is outside us. We do not possess our own righteousness before God. Jesus is our righteousness. Therefore, we must stay safely in the boat. “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19b)

How do we stay in the boat? We stay in the boat by remaining in Christ and His Word. Where is the boat? His Church is our boat. Jesus will pilot us across the water to dry land. Through storms and tempests, winds and rain, He will keep us safe. So, fellow travelers, let’s rejoice in our Captain and enjoy the boat ride together.

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10a

May 022016
 

Bowdendrawing.jpgFebruary 3, 1959 has been immortalized as “the day the music died”.

That was the day that Buddy Holly, The Big Bopper, and Ritchie Valens died in a plane crash.

For songwriter Don McClean the tragedy symbolized the “loss of innocence” of early rock and roll.

For me, August 30, 2014 was the day that journalism died.

That was the day that Charles Bowden passed away.

It was also the day my heart stopped functioning properly, quite literally broken by the news.

Bowden hated the term journalist…he was a reporter.

“I don’t keep a (expletive) journal”, he would growl.

He had contempt for American corporate journalism and “journalists” because they were mouthpieces for power…while in Latin America reporters were giving their lives to speak truth to power.

Bowden reported what he saw and he sought the truth no matter the cost to himself.

He was unafraid of those in power and he couldn’t be bought…he died almost penniless.

He raged against falsehood and injustice…”attention must be paid” he said, echoing the words of another writer.

His concern was for the victims of power, not power itself.

He was, I think, the last of his kind.

That is why my mourning has known no end.

I mourn especially because the Christian community has never had a Bowden to lose and we are “informed” by spineless toadys whose only goal is to create web traffic, sales, and income.

Christianity Today, The Christian Post, and the Assist News Service, are just a few examples of the baptized media whores who prop up and protect the wolves that are eating evangelicalism from the inside out.

They do so to protect the bottom line, not the people of God.

“Investigative reporting” is left to that most loathsome of creatures, the blogger.

Contrary to popular belief, bloggers don’t have “organizations”, nor do they have expense accounts, nor do they profit from their work unless they sell out the same way that “legitimate” journalism does.

They don’t often do so…they rarely have the opportunity to do so if they wished to.

When the last stories about Saeed Abedini and Gospel For Asia are finally written they will be an embarrassment to power and those who wrote about it in the mainline Christian media.

Those stories will also be an embarrassment to all those in power who covered for them.

I believe they are already an embarrassment to God.

In the end, it will have been the blogger who uncovered the truth and wrote the real stories.

Their work will be stolen and unaccredited to them,rewritten and published in corporate media when safe and profitable to do so.

It will have been written out of a love for truth and the people of God who should have been protected.

It will have cost the writers, not profited them.

Perhaps “journalism” isn’t dead yet after all…God bless my fellow broken hearted bloggers in arms.

 

Apr 302016
 

Grant, O Lord, that I may face all that this new day is to bring with peace of mind.
Grant that I may dedicate myself completely to Thy holy will.
Every hour of the day, instruct and
For every hour of this day, instruct and support me in all things.
Whatsoever I may receive during the day, teach me to accept them tranquilly, with the firm conviction that everything cometh by Thy holy will.
Govern my thoughts and feelings in all I do and say.
When unforeseen things occur, do not let me forget that everything cometh from Thee.
Teach me to behave sincerely and wisely toward every member of my family, not embittering or embarrassing others.
Grant me strength, my Lord, to bear the fatigue of the coming day and all that it shall bring.
Guide my will and teach me to pray, to believe, to hope, to suffer, to forgive, and to love, and pray Thyself in me.

Amen.

Metropolitan Filaret

Apr 302016
 

Word of GodMatthew 2:19-23

So the king has come to Bethlehem as Micah said. He has gone to Egypt as Hosea said. And he has caused weeping in Ramah by Rachel, just as Jeremiah said. Finally, in Matthew’s various presentations of pictures of the coming king from the prophets, he includes one more – Nazareth.

19 But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

  • Josephus in his Antiquities –says he died of this: “Ulcerated entrails, putrefied and maggot-filled organs, constant convulsions, foul breath, and neither physicians nor warm baths led to recovery.”
  • I would say a rather fitting end for that kind of a man.
  • How long was the holy family in Egypt? 6 mo – 3 ½ yrs.?
  • Joseph was told to go to Egypt and wait … he did.

20 saying, “Rise, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child’s life are dead.”

  • Back to v.13 – when the angel had said “until I tell you…” – now he is telling them.
  • Apparently, Herod wasn’t the only one. There were some others involved, and the Lord had set them aside also. We don’t have any word about that, but its plural here. “You can go back now. They are all dead.”

21 And he rose and took the child and his mother and went to the land of Israel.

  • Moving day!
  • Think about this – if Jesus came to die, why wasn’t he allowed to die with the massacred children? Could he have died as ‘the child/God’ vs man/God?
  • Note that there is no specific place. They just came back to Israel, undoubtedly coming from the direction of Egypt, they probably came up through the south and they would have come to Bethlehem and Jerusalem. Perhaps in their thinking, that would have been the place to stay.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee.

  • Son of Herod – obviously not the threat his father was.
  • I wonder how Archelaus was spared execution?

23 And he went and lived in a city called Nazareth, so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, that he would be called a Nazarene.

  • We don’t seem to have a direct passage saying this.
  • However, all of the geo political activity was used by God to put the pieces in place … as the prophets spoke.
  • Now here’s another element in the prophecies surrounding his birth to show he was born a king. He was to go back to Nazareth. By the way, this was Joseph and Mary’s original home, wasn’t it? According to Luke 2:4, they were from Nazareth. They were to return to live out the prediction of the prophets who said he would be a Nazarene.
  • The term “Nazarene” – this statement “He shall be called a Nazarene” appears nowhere in the Old Testament.
  • Let’s read it again – “so that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, – plural – ‘He shall be called a Nazarene.’ ” – Where is that found?
  • If you are looking in the Old Testament for the prophets who said it, you won’t find them.
  • Some will go far and wide to try and make a connection to Isaiah 11:1 where it talks about Christ being a branch netser, which is Hebrew, and they say netser and Nazareth – it’s a bad connection.
  • Besides, you still need to deal with the prophets, plural, not just Isaiah 11:1. It is very remote that anyone would make the connection.
  • Matthew says “the prophets.” – How would you explain this?” It is simple to explain – the prophets said this. It just never got written in the Old Testament until now and it finally got written by Matthew. “- But he means the Old Testament prophets said it.
  • So the question is presented – Did the prophets say some things that didn’t get written down?” Yes, there are plenty of things that were said that weren’t written down in the Old Testament.
  • Jude v14 = “It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.”
  • Enoch did not say this in the Old Testament. It isn’t there. How do we know he said it? Because Jude said that Enoch said it. How did Jude know? Because Jude was what? … Inspired by the Holy Spirit of God.
  • So guess who said that Jesus would be a Nazarene? The prophets said it.
  • This is beautiful – Matthew doesn’t even give a bit explanation. He just says “the prophet said, He shall be called a Nazarene,”
  • This tells me that it was common knowledge among the people – that the prophets said this about the Messiah.

 

 

 

Apr 292016
 

tunsil2-182x324Last night was the the first round of the annual National Football League draft.

Every year the best college players either see their dreams come true or go crashing to the ground.

Laremy Tunsil was one of the players waiting to hear where he would be picked.

Many thought he would be picked very high in the draft, some thought him the best player in the whole draft.

It was going to be a great night for the young man…except it wasn’t.

Two quarterbacks were taken with the first two picks as expected… Tunsil would surely be one of the next three.

Just as the commentators began to talk about him, an enemy hacked his Twitter account and sent out a video of him sucking marijuana smoke through a gas mask.

His sin had found him out.

His enemy wasn’t finished.

His Instagram was also hacked and an incriminating series of texts that appear to show him being paid for playing in college was posted.

His sin had found him out again.

He ended up getting picked at #13 but the enemy cost him millions of dollars and his reputation.

Some people think Judgment Day will be like Laremy Tunsils night.

We’ll be waiting to see where we’ll go while enduring video clips of all of our sins playing out in front of the heavenly host.

We will be mortified and humiliated as all of our sins find us out.

Let me assure you that is not then case.

Your sins have been covered.

There are no hackers in heaven.

The enemy will be somewhere where he can’t accuse you.

When they call your name up yonder, you’ll find that it was called an eternity ago.

You were already chosen #1.

The only highlights shown will be of what Jesus did for you.

The first thing He did was destroy all those nasty videos…

The draft party goes on forever.

You…are a star.

Rejoice..and make your own application…

 

Apr 282016
 

B-8-sew-loose-ends-451x300During the recent controversy over C.J. Mahaney, I noticed a new meme taking hold that we used to contend with here.

That meme says that the only time abuse of any sort has happened in a church is when there is a legal, criminal, complaint against the abuser.

 

 

Then, and only then, will the associates or governance bodies take an accusation seriously.

Mahaney has avoided criminal prosecution, therefore he is “innocent”.

The pastoral standards of 1 Timothy 3 have now been changed to a simple matter of a clean court record.

Biblical ethical and moral standards mean nothing in corporate evangelicalism anymore…it’s all about who you know and what you’ve got…

I was amazed again this week st the number of Christians on Facebook who are hinting at actually taking up arms against the government.

These are usually Trump supporters who see their guy as some sort of last chance for the Republic.

I can’t believe that we’re moving toward civil war, but I would have never believed that someone like Trump could be in a position to lead this country.

I still don’t get what we are all so very angry about…but I do know it’s grossly irresponsible for clergy to be fanning these flames…

Only about a third of Protestant pastors now believe in a pre-trib Rapture according to Lifeway research.

About half still hold to premillennialism.

It’s an interesting survey…

10 Things you should know about J.I. Packer…

This is one of the treasures of the internet…give yourself a biblical and theological education for free…

Apr 282016
 

images

Give Us Barabbas!

Is the Reformation teaching of salvation by “grace alone” an overreaction to the works-based excesses of the 16th Century Papacy?

 

Is there, instead, something left of the image of God in man, even if the tiniest spark or smoldering ember, which is willing and able to either call on God’s grace or to respond to God’s grace? Could God blow his Spirit over our sparks and embers and awaken us from a spiritual coma to His offer of salvation? Some pastors and parishioners would love the possibilities that such a salvation plan would offer – imagine the sermon series, books, spiritual disciplines, etc.

I’m afraid there’s only one problem: From end to end, the Bible is adamant that as it pertains to our relationship with God, there is no spark or smoldering ember in any of us. The intentions of our hearts are evil from our youth (Gen 8:2); our human natures are enslaved to sin (John 8:34); and our human natures are hostile to God (Rom 8:7). If asked whether we want Jesus or Barabbas, our human natures corrupted by sin will always choose Barabbas.

What about free will?

Here we can make a distinction. In matters of civil righteousness, coerced by the law and restrained by societal norms, people have the liberty to a certain extent to render civil righteousness. So virtually all people, whether Christian or not, perform outward works of civil righteousness some of the time, while going in the opposite direction at other times. Some people go in one direction more of the time than other people.

But in matters pertaining to God, the human will is incapable of deciding for the Gospel; it will only reject God and the Gospel. “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor 2:14) It is critical that we understand that as it pertains to God, whether as to love, obedience or even seeking Him, nothing good dwells in the natural person. (Rom 7:18) The only freedom the natural person has is to sin, and we sin voluntarily and gladly.

Why does the teaching of “grace alone” rub us the wrong way?

Grace alone is hard to swallow because it requires us to face our most sacred sins – pride, and self-righteousness. Grace alone means we’re as helpless and undeserving as the dregs of society (we are all dregs apart from Christ). There can be no comparisons with others, because we merit nothing. Grace alone means that God’s love isn’t for sale. In fact, working for God’s grace or our salvation is to reject both of them.

But salvation by grace alone is also the most freeing gift of all – it’s our true freedom in Christ, who for our salvation died and rose again, destroying the power of the accuser and removing the sting of death. The Gospel, of which “grace alone” is an integral part, is more than sufficient to overcome our natural depravity and bound wills. In the Gospel, and by baptism, Jesus unites us to himself in a death and resurrection by water and the Spirit, which creates a new being who is able to discern the things of God and learns to walk by the Holy Spirit. We will continue to sin and struggle against the evil inclinations of our natural person, but we no longer are powerless to call upon the name of our Lord for help, who has promised to hear our prayers, forgive our sins, sanctify our works, grant us eternal life, and always be with us.

Lord, preserve us in your Word!

Jean

Apr 272016
 

transgender-sign-2-1-2So Michael stole my thunder last week when he wrote about the absurdity that is currently going on in our culture in relation to restrooms and the transgender issue. He hit on several points that I had been thinking about as did some of the ensuing discussion:

 

 

– The intimidating presence of political correctness in our society that currently allows one to get away with many insults, but dare not cross into LGBT territory.

– The ridiculousness of allowing biological men into women’s bathrooms.

– That opposition to such has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with sanity and common sense.

– That even just 10 years ago, who on earth thought it was a good idea to allow men free reign to enter women’s restrooms or changing rooms or lockers or showers?

Our politically correct culture has become obsessed with placing the needs, wants, and desires of LGBT individuals and the attending agenda above seemingly all else and demonizing those that won’t do so. You are now a bigot if you’re against anything LGBT related, with the restroom issue being the latest hot topic. This restroom one is complete insanity.

Can any woman say with any measure of honesty that they’re completely fine with men entering into these areas? That they would feel just as safe as when men weren’t allowed in? That they have no concerns about voyeurism, or worse yet, sexual assault? Can any man honestly say they have no concern for their wives, daughters, mothers, or any female in such situations?

The answer, of course, is that nobody can candidly say they have no qualms about such things unless they have altogether abandoned sane thought in the name of some agenda. I am a man. I know my own nature, one which I share with many other men. It is not good. And I know without a shadow of a doubt that if laws and policies allow men into these previously restricted areas, that there will be more than enough men who will do so. And many of them not with good intentions.

The emotional, mental, physical, and psychological trauma and damage suffered by victims of sexual assault are horrific. We are only opening the door for more to occur.

Now, all of this is not to disparage those who legitimately struggle with gender dysphoria. There are people who genuinely feel that they are the opposite gender than what is their biological make-up. I am not a psychologist or anything of the like. I am not able to speak on the subject in a knowledgeable fashion.

But being human and a Christian I can say at least this much….. That transgendered people need to be treated with respect and sensitivity. Their feelings need to be considered and not disregarded. They should be treated with compassion and not as lesser human beings or outcasts of society. They likely aren’t even the ones who would commit wrongdoing in restrooms.

I have never had any conflicted feelings about my gender identity, and so it is hard for me to grasp what it is like for those who do. But at the very least, I imagine it must be a very difficult thing to carry through life. This is all the more reason why as Christians we should be reaching out with love and care in whatever ways we can to those who do have such feelings.

I firmly believe that part of the disdain and pressure being placed on theologically conservative Christians by our society is a backlash against too many years and too many instances where churches, leaders, and laypeople mistreated those of LGBT persuasion and placed too great of an emphasis on LGBT sins.

Now certainly not nearly all conservative Christians have been guilty of such, but nonetheless, too many.  Mistreatment happens still even today. So, I think the church is partially culpable for our current environment.

So as Christians where do we go from here? I struggle to find good answers. It’s already been stated that this most recent affair is not even a religious one, but rather a societal one of sanity and common sense. We need to consider the needs and feelings of those who are LGBT, and specifically the transgendered on this one. But at the same time, a society that is willing to prioritize the feelings of a very small percentage over the safety of half the population has lost its anchor of sensibleness.

Do we oppose legislation that will allow men into women’s restrooms? I suppose so, but the way things are going, I sadly think this will be a losing battle as time goes on.

Do we boycott Target?

I personally don’t want my wife and daughters shopping there for purposes of their safety. For me, it’s not a hate thing or even necessarily a desire to boycott, but rather a concern for the welfare of my family.

The history of organized Christian boycotts against corporations in this country I believe have usually proven to be ineffective. Plus, I have a feeling the list is only going to quickly grow of those we will then need to boycott for such reasons.

Additionally, if boycotts would prove to effective to any degree, those who would be most affected would not be the corporate bigwigs but all the “little” people who work at Target or other places in efforts to just make a living. That is something that always need to be considered in such situations, too.

I will try to protect my family. I will try to speak to the restroom issue as rationally and caringly as I can. In our current culture, who knows how well that will go over. And I will pray. For the church and for our society. That God will bring a renewal where we have forsaken Him and forsaken what is right and true. That the church would seek after Him and society would work to rightly consider and balance the needs, wants, and protections of all.

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