Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reason #2,543 not to be a Beth Moore follower (or Bill Johnson, Kim Walker Smith, Ken Hagin etc...) Divination!

Phil Johnson
I was listening to Pastor Phil Johnson preach an Old Testament passage this morning. Pr. Johnson is the Executive Director of John MacArthur's site, Grace to You. I love when Johnson preaches the Old Testament and also the Psalms. He adds quite a bit of context from history, culture and even topography so the listener fully understands the scenes passing through our minds so as to picture it with detail.

The passage this morning was an overview of 2 Kings 1, "Fire From Heaven." A short synopsis is that King Ahaziah is on the throne of Judah. Ahaziah is a descendant of King Ahab, and the LORD had already spoken that eventually, no descendant of Ahab's would live. He would wipe them all out. No mean feat, as Johnson said, Ahab had 70 sons.

There was a battle, and Ahaziah stayed behind in his castle. His castle was not so safe after all, for Ahaziah fell through the lattice from a high place, incurring critical injuries. Though God is still God is Israel, and Elijah is still prophesying, Ahaziah's apostasy, or worse, ignorance of the One True God, was so deep that "he sent messengers, telling them, 'Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.'"

Therein lay the crux of the matter.

First, let's see the LORD'S response:

"Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the LORD, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.'" (2 Kings 1:3-4)

Ahaziah was not so ill that the LORD could not have healed him if He chose, prolonging his life until His prophecy would be fulfilled at a later time. Alternately, Ahaziah could have died instantly upon falling through the lattice.

The reason Ahaziah was going to die at that time was because he sought an oracle from another god.

God is deadly serious about not indulging in oracles, divination, predictions, sorceries, or anything similar. Consulting mediums is the major reason of what cost King Saul his kingship, his dynasty, and his life. (1 Chronicles 10:13–14). Consulting another god is what cost King Ahaziah his life.

EPrata artwork
When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12).

An abomination. In the Hebrew the word abomination used here also means detestable and loathsome. In that verse, the LORD hates 9 things in particular:
  1. offers child for sacrifice
  2. diviners
  3. tells fortunes
  4. interprets omens
  5. sorcery
  6. charmers
  7. medium (King Saul's sin, 1 Samuel 28)
  8. necromancer
  9. inquires of the dead
Offering a child in sacrifice refers to the biblical practice of Molech worship where parents would cast their child into the belly of Molech which was an oven, and the child would be burned alive. Parents who did this wanted a better life. Today some have likened Molech-sacrifice to abortion.

Divination is having implied power to learn secret things via various methods such as hydromancy (through water), cast bones, cast arrows, divining rod (Ezekiel 8:17 alludes to) & etc. Hepatoscopy is divining via the liver (of a dead animal), which Ezekiel 21:21 says the King of Babylon engaged in. Today occult practitioners use Tarot Cards, chicken bones, crystals, crystal ball, palm reading, Ouija boards, horoscopes and the like.

The International Bible Dictionary says of divination,
"The word "divination" itself, from deus, "god," or divus, "pertaining to god," carries with it the notion that the information obtained came from deity." Astrology is a kind of divination, via peering into secret things of 'god' via the alignment of the stars.
Mediums AKA Fortune tellers AKA witchcraft AKA soothsayers AKA necromancers (Leviticus 19:31) are persons who act as go-betweens from this world to the world of spirits. These occult practitioners claim ability to communicate with the dead or with spirits or  familiars, bringing messages back and forth between the two realms. The 'spirits of the dead' are actually demons impersonating Grandma, and thus are lying spirits. In Luke 16:18-31 we are given information that the dead stay in their abode, a great gulf is fixed between Hades and Paradise, and it is alluded to that none escape from either location to return and commune with the living. (The Witch at En-Dor's conjuring of dead Samuel is a sole exception- to drive home the point that if you do this, you will die.) As an aside, remember the 1960s TV show "Bewitched" Samantha the witch's mother was named En-dora.

Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker book is a modern practice of the ancient art of witchcraft. I explored that issue in-depth here. Contemplative prayer is another re-packaged mystical-occult practice.

Charmers, #6,is an interesting occult practice. Psalm 58:5 Jeremiah 8:17; Ecclesiastes 10:11 and mention them. Charmers are occult practitioners who are also known as are whisperers, who by their voice engage in spells so that the hearer becomes spellbound and will do as the charmer wishes. Snake charmers would play their instrument, usually a flute or other high-pitched sound and the snake wold be drawn to the charmer, stop about two feet from him, rear its head, and sway in time to the music. Afterward they would lay docile at his feet. (Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 9, by McClintock & Strong).


In the bible the intended audience was a snake, in modern times it could be any person who uses his voice to cast a spell over his audience. For example, many women attending Obama's speeches became spell-bound, swooned or fainted at the sound of his voice.

An interpreter of omens, according to the Holman Bible Dictionary, is defined-
The Israelites were prohibited from interpreting omens (Deuteronomy 18:10). Pagan prophesy employed reading of omens (Numbers 24:1, Ezekiel 21:21). As Lord of history, God frustrates the plans of “liars” who interpret omens ... The faithful witness of Christians in the face of opposition is likewise an omen or sign pointed to the salvation of believers and the destruction of God's enemies (Philippians 1:28).
Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. (Acts 19:18-19)

An interpreter of omens would be the same as a diviner. For example, a person would sacrifice at a pagan temple, and an interpreter would divine the meaning of the way the person's animal burned, the way the bones lay and such.They would extract secret meaning from these 'omens.'

Modern examples of ancient pagan/occult practices may be seen today on CBN, when one of the hosts says "I'm getting a word of knowledge from the other side that someone listening is going to be cured of a backache." Or channeling, which seems to be very popular with Neale Donald Walsch of Conversations with God, Saran Young of Jesus Calling and Beth Moore of When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, whereupon they allow their bodies to be possessed for a time by a spirit which delivers information that the authors translate into a book allegedly full of extra-biblical spiritual insights from the other side. Circle makers are engaging in witchcraft. Prayer labyrinth walkers are doing something pagan, ritualistic, and unbiblical. People like Bill Johnson of Bethel Church and Kim Walker Smith and Beth Moore and many others who say they have entertained God Himself or Jesus in other dimensions through astral travel or visions, and returned with information or predictions to give the body of believers are diviners, witches, soothsayers, fortune tellers. Inviting conjuring glory clouds, gold dust falling, feathers drifting down is nothing more than people practicing wizardry.

Source Pixabay free photos
I have written about these practitioners of the demonic occult before, and we can take no pleasure in knowing that though God's hand has mercifully stayed their execution, eventually they will face Him and the consequences of their sins. Saul did. Ahab did. Jezebel did. Ahaziah did. I am sorry for these people that they will more than likely be one of the many saying on His Day, "Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (Matthew 7:22). And He will say to them depart from m, I never knew you...

However in returning to the 2 Kings passage, let's turn from the practitioners to looking at Ahazia's followers. His subjects, army men whom Ahaziah sent to meet Prophet Elijah to hear Elijah's message.

Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’” 10But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (2 Kings 1:9-10)

Pulpit Commentary:
Now, Ahaziah, the son of the wicked Jezebel, had challenged Jehovah to a trial of strength by first ignoring him, and then sending a troop of soldiers to arrest his prophet. Was Elijah to succumb without an effort, or was he to vindicate the majesty and honor of Jehovah?
This happened again, so that 100 men, followers of Ahaziah were consumed.

Phil Johnson:
But Elijah's fire from heaven was meant by God as a public display of divine vindication, and a public judgment against an evil regime that sat on Israel's throne, opposing Jehovah and all He stood for. Such extreme wickedness called for a breathtaking, awe-inspiring judgment.

The judgment fell upon Ahaziah but it also fell on Ahaziah's followers, whose who followed the king, supported the king, and were an arm of the king in evil deeds.

But the third company of 50 men acted different than their predecessors.

Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up and came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him, “O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. (2 Kings 1:13)

Here the men have an attitude not of command but of submission. Phil Johnson:
But the third group of soldiers is a reminder that "God . . . gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). God's mercies are never exhausted, and those who humble themselves before Him and confess their sins can always find mercy.

In today's Age of Grace, I am not saying that Beth Moore or Sarah Young or any of the modern occult practitioners will be consumed by fire. Jesus came not to destroy but to save. It is a different age. Final judgement is coming and until then, His mercies are manifold and opportunities for repentance are many. The same is true for these "teachers'" followers. Those who participate in their evil deeds, who buy Beth Moore books hoping to gain insights into the knowledge of God apart from the bible, or listen to Kim Walker Smith's visions about Jesus apart from the bible, or believe CBN's 'word of knowledge' are participating by proxy with the practitioners' occult evil deeds.

The first two groups of fifty men believed the king to be the highest authority and took to arrest the man of God. The third group of fifty men believed Elijah as the proxy for the highest authority and submitted to God.

God always looks favorably on humility and repentance. He looks unfavorably to the proud and stiff-necked.

Do not practice divination-by-proxy by following those who practice it. If you have been doing so, if you repent, God gives grace to the humble. Amanda Bowers repented, publicly, of her Beth Moore and Henry Blackaby following.

Harold Camping, predicter of the end of the world by specific date (fortune telling), did.

Sunny Shell did, too, not so much for following a diviner but publicly repented for something else.

You don't have to repent publicly if you haven't taught anything publicly to be repenting of, but the glory here is pointing to several real and recent examples of where the Spirit showed these people the error of their ways and in repenting gave glory to Him, just as the third group of 50 soldiers did. The idea is that God awaits a contrite heart, a seeking heart, a submissive heart. He is a great God who is literally a consuming fire -to the men of Ahaziah- but he is a loving Father to His children who seek  to practice not occultism, but righteousness.







Monday, November 24, 2014

Jesus' prayer was heard because of His reverence: How is your prayer life?

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Hebrews 5:7)

It's a powerful verse. In reading it this time, I became captivated with the word "because." Several Commenters explain the verse (but none fully exploring the because, I was sad to notice)-

Pulpit Commentary
Christ is in them regarded, not as executing his priestly office, but as being prepared and consecrated for it. For, although for himself Christ needed no atonement, yet the "prayers and supplications" were offered in his own behalf, being due to his own entire participation in the conditions of humanity; the whole "agony and bloody sweat" were part of his own preparation and consecration for executing the office of a High Priest for others, and, like the Aaronic priest's offering for himself, they were the sign and evidence of his being one.
Barnes Notes
Such was his piety that the prayer was “heard,” though it was not literally answered. A prayer may be “heard” and yet not literally answered; it may be acceptable to God, though it may not consist with his arrangements to bestow the very blessing that is sought.
Matthew Henry Complete Commentary
He was heard in that he feared. He had an awful sense of the wrath of God, of the weight of sin. His human nature was ready to sink under the heavy load, and would have sunk, had he been quite forsaken in point of help and comfort from God but he was heard in this, he was supported under the agonies of death.

The Prosperity, Word/Faith, 'Declare It and It's Yours' crowd should heed Hebrews 5:7. Jesus was heard BECAUSE of His reverence. There is a cause here. We do well to pay attention to the 'little words'. I then think of the opposite: is a person not heard because of their irreverence? Is there a time or occasion that God does not listen to prayer? Yes, there are times God will not listen to or will even refuse to answer prayer. Just because a person 'speaks it' does not mean it will come to pass or even that God will listen.

So what are the times God will not listen? In general, God will not heed the prayers of an unbeliever. Here's more from Grace To You-

Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers?
God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer He sees fit. But Scripture clearly indicates that God does not listen to or answer every prayer. In fact, Scripture gives at least fifteen reasons for unanswered prayer. God does not answer the prayer of those:

1) Who have personal and selfish motives.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3).

2) Who regard iniquity in their hearts.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psalm 66:18).

3) Who remain in sin.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2). Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

4) Who offer unworthy service to God.

"You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled You?' In that you say, 'The table of the LORD is to be despised.' But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts. "But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts.

5) Who forsake God.

Thus says the Lord to this people: "Thus they have loved to wander; They have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will remember their iniquity now, And punish their sins." Then the Lord said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence (Jeremiah 14:10-12).

6) Who reject God's call.

Because I [Wisdom] have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke.... Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me (Proverbs 1:24-25, 28).

7) Who will not heed God's law.

One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination (Proverbs 28:9). "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen," says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 7:11-13).

8) Who turn a deaf ear to the cry of the poor.

Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, Will also cry himself and not be heard. (Proverbs 21:13).

9) Who are violent.

When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:15; see also 59:2-3).

10) Who worship idols.

Therefore thus says the Lord: "Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble." (Jeremiah 11:11-14; see also Ezekiel 8:15-18).

11) Who have no faith.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7).

12) Who are living in hypocrisy.

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).

13) Who are proud of heart.

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

14) Who are self-righteous.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess." And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:11-14).

15) Who mistreat God's people.

You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me. They cried out, but there was none to save; Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them (Psalm 18:40-41). You who hate good and love evil; Who strip the skin from My people, And the flesh from their bones; Who also eat the flesh of My people, Flay their skin from them, Break their bones, And chop them in pieces, Like meat for the pot, Like flesh in the cauldron. Then they will cry to the Lord, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds (Micah 3:2-4).
Graphics Fairy
Does God hear the prayers of believers? Yes...but He has conditions for answering them. He is still a Father and we don't always pray along the lines of what is best for us. He is not bound to answer just because we speak it. We must pray according to His will.

First, we must pray and not doubt. (James 1:6).

James 4:3 was mentioned above, it goes for believers too: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”.

GotQuestions:
Pray for the things for which the Bible commands prayer. We are told to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44); for God to send missionaries (Luke 10:2); that we do not enter temptation (Matthew 26:41); for ministers of the Word (Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1); for government authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-3); for relief from affliction (James 5:13); and for the healing of fellow believers (James 5:16). Where God commands prayer, we can pray with confidence that we are praying according to His will.
Graphics Fairy
Pray privately (for the most part). Of course I'm not saying don't pray in church, or not to give thanks at a public meal, or not to pray at a public revival, or at an event such as National Day of prayer, but for the most part, God commands us to pray in our prayer closet. When we are at our most reverential, private, transparent, and quiet, we are praying by ourselves to God, before God, and through Jesus with no distractions.

Jesus was heard because of his reverence, AKA His fear. He wasn't afraid per se, but feared God because He knew who God is. I would dare to say that when one prays and does not doubt, that person's prayer is a mixture of confidence and reverence. If one does not doubt, one knows who God is, and what He is able to do; and if you know who God is, you're reverent toward Him.

The verse doesn't say "He was heard," but it says "He was heard because of His reverence." I like to pay attention to the 'little words' and I think on those a great deal.

I would consider it a gift from God for my prayers to be heard because of my reverence. Like the father exclaiming in Mark 9:24, "I believe, help my unbelief!", I say, 'I pray, but help my ridiculous prayer life!'

Dearest Holy Spirit, ignite my heart with a Godly fear, instill in me a reverence, a confidence, and an awareness of my sins, so that I might abide in Him. (John 15:7). Pray ceaselessly.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Signs: Earthquake and sinkhole update

As a person living on planet earth, I'm fascinated by earthquakes. In Maine, when a quake happens it's usually below the shaking level and we only hear a boom or two. I never had experienced but one or two quakes in my area during the time I lived there. (30 years).

Georgia's proximity to a seismic area in Charleston means that sometimes residents in this state can feel a shaking or two. A year ago or so there was a quake that I felt. It rattled the house and the window air conditioner bounced up and down, as if a heavy succession of overladen trucks had passed by.

It was eerie to be walking through the living room and suddenly the ground under your feet shakes and shakes. You think that the ground is solid, but it's not!! During particularly rough quakes, the ground actually liquifies!

Many millions of people live in areas where earthquakes are more of a hazard and are even a life-threatening danger. Many live in places where the ground more than shakes for a moment, but actually ruptures and swallows people or collapses buildings on top of them. [shudder].

As a Christian I'm interested in earthquakes because of the way God uses them. He is the creator of this planet. The earth and everything in it is His.

The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1)

If the LORD wants to announce His presence on Sinai before talking with Moses, He will. (Exodus 19:18). If the LORD wants to open the ground under rebellious Korah and his cohorts, He will. (Numbers 16:32). If He wants to use an earthquake to announce His Son's death, He will do so. (Matthew 27:51-54). Likewise when His Son resurrected, He announced the glorious news by, among other methods, shaking the earth. (Matthew 28:2)

God uses earthquakes in many ways and for many reasons. In the future prophetic times there will also be great earthquakes, to split Jerusalem into three parts (as part of the Tribulation's ongoing re-arrangement of the earth to ready it for a return to pre-flood perfection). A great earthquake will defeat the hordes come to attack Jerusalem in the last days, so we can clearly see that quakes are used by God to smite an enemy's military or to aid His people Israel during battle- as He did to the Philistines at Geba. (1 Samuel 14:15).

God communicates His greatness through earthquakes, and He demonstrates His ownership of the earth as its Creator when He shakes it.

Jesus said that earthquakes will be a sign of approaching tribulation of the end of days. (Matthew 24:7). He said the signs He was speaking of will be as birth pangs. Birth pains get worse and worse and more and more painful as the moment of birth approaches, and many people take His metaphor to mean the signs He spoke of will increase painfully also. This is the way I interpret verses 4-8 in chapter 24, as being signs during the Age of Grace, with verse 9 swinging into the discussion of the actual Tribulation.

So, are earthquakes increasing? Until 2014 most scientists said no, or they denied that they were increasing, anyway. However as I've been showing my annual December 31 "By the Numbers" posts for several years now, the United States' Geological Survey's own data and their 100-year averages show that they are.

Now scientists are saying, well, yeah, earthquakes are increasing. The following article is from LiveScience this past June

Big Earthquakes Double in 2014, But They're Not Linked
If you think there have been more earthquakes than usual this year, you're right. A new study finds there were more than twice as many big earthquakes in the first quarter of 2014 as compared with the average since 1979. "We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded," said lead study author Tom Parsons, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park, California.
The article quotes scientists who had previously surmised that larger quakes trigger smaller ones, but the increase in large quakes in the present day has not triggered any other ones, hence the second part of the title to the article, 'they're not linked'. The article continues,
As our group has been interested in the ability of an earthquake to affect others at a global scale, we wondered if we were seeing it happening. I really expected we would see evidence of something we couldn't explain by randomness," Parsons told Live Science's Our Amazing Planet in an email interview. The new study isn't the first time researchers have tried and failed to link one earthquake to another in time and across distance.
Here is another article from just several days ago reporting earthquakes on the rise. This article narrows the scope to just earthquakes around Oklahoma. We take note not just of the sheer number earthquakes increasing, but Jesus said they will occur in diverse places. An earthquake can be of note because of the location it occurred. It can be of note due to the magnitude. An earthquake doesn't have to be a 9.0 to attract attention, but a 3.3 can be equally interesting. More on that in a moment.

Earthquakes on the rise; scientists warn of larger quake possibilities
It's been such a dramatic increase the state and seismologists like Austin Holland can barely keep up. With 4,600 quakes this year alone so far, it [the state capitol] averages to 14 quakes a day. "It's pretty remarkable how many significant earthquakes we've had," Holland said. While the state's biggest quake remains at a 5.6 that hit Prague back in 2011, large quakes are happening more often. Holland says the trend doesn't bode well for the state.
This week's quakes show several significant ones. USGS embeds the data in a pink banner to show the significance. Others were simply of interest because they were big.

3.3 magnitude ENE of Irving, Texas
6.3 magnitude NNE of Omachi, Japan
6.5 magnitude WNW of Tobelo, Indonesia
3.8 magnitude NW of Eutaw, Alabama
4.2 magnitude S of San Juan Bautista, California
6.7 NE of Gisborne, New Zealand


Why is the Irving TX quake in pink, indicating it was an event of significance to USGS? I don't know. I have not been able to find an explanation on the USGS site explaining why they consider certain quakes highly significant. I can only guess: the location would seem to indicate it is a low-seismic area. Here is an excerpt from a news article about the quake--

Quake centered in Irving rocks Dallas area
In the past year, about three dozen earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or more have struck communities in North Texas. Some quakes were strong enough to crack home walls and foundations. Most of the quakes hit months ago, though three of them rattled the Dallas-Fort Worth area in September, waking some residents from sleep.
Small North Texas quake triggers social media stir
A magnitude-3.3 earthquake has shaken North Texas strong enough to draw reaction during a Dallas Stars hockey game. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred about 9:15 p.m. Saturday and was centered about 2 miles beneath east Irving, around 6 miles northwest of Dallas. It was the sixth and strongest quake centered near Irving in two months. Small quakes have become more common recently in Texas.

It should be noted that scientists believe that both in TX and in OK that hydraulic fracturing as part of the oil extraction process is what is triggering these quakes.

SINKHOLES

A sinkhole opening up is something I'm quite nerved up over and fascinated by, both. It's the same vein as earthquakes- thinking the ground is solid under your fet (and if you can't trust the solid ground, what CAN you trust?) and then suddenly it's air. Do you see in the recent sinkhole that opened up in Russia, the row of houses, and then the hole? Did houses fall into the hole? People? [shudder]

Wall Street photo of the day
A view of a sinkhole stretching 20 meters by 30 meters at the Solikamsk-2 mine in Russia’s Perm region. Tass/Zuma Press

Natal, Brazil:

Sinkhole grows just miles from World Cup Stadium
A sinkhole that opened up last week in the wake of record-breaking rainfall in the World Cup host city of Natal, Brazil continues to expand, swallowing homes and cars and forcing the evacuation of 150 families.  More rain fell on the coastal city in three days last week—more than 13 inches worth—than the area usually sees in the entire month of June, sparking landslides, flash flooding and opening up the sinkhole four miles from the Arena das Dunas stadium in a hillside favela, according to the BBC. No one was killed or injured, the Associated Press reports.  The Associated Press also reports that some 150 families have been evacuated from the affected area. According to local news reports, some of those families are being sheltered by government agencies and local schools and churches.
BBC: Huge sinkhole near World Cup Stadium
Photo BBC
Residents have been evacuated from a favela near one of Brazil's World Cup stadiums, after a huge sinkhole opened up. Footage shows partially-collapsed homes perched on the edge of the crater in Natal, already filled with household appliances, furniture and vehicles. The hole is four miles (6.5km) from the Arena das Dunas stadium, which will host the Group D match between Italy and Uruguay on Tuesday. The sinkhole opened up earlier this week after record rainfall, but has continued to grow since.

A massive sinkhole near Tampa, Fla. swallows up a car and driveway, Nov. 10, 2014. The family had five minutes to escape.

Third Sinkhole Forms, Swallows Part of Car
HOLIDAY, Fla. — Nov 16, 2014, 10:47 AM ET Associated Press  A third hole has formed in in the driveway of a Tampa Bay-area neighborhood and swallowed a car to its bumper.  Pasco County spokesman Doug Tobin says the new hole opened Saturday in the front yard of a resident's home. It was about six feet deep and grew about 10 feet wide. The resident is temporarily relocating.  Two other holes formed earlier this week about a quarter mile away. Engineers have to confirm that the depressions are sinkholes.  The first hole grew to 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The mobile home at the brink of that hole was condemned. Five other homes were evacuated.  Tobin says work has been suspended on a nearby sewer lift station due to the subsurface activity
The Lord will come back when He comes back. It seems like it might be soon, but only the Father knows for sure. I pray that when He does, I will be counted as one who was longing for His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8). I so yearn to see His face, to be sinless, finally. I long for the world to claim Him as LORD of Lords and KING of Kings, whether voluntarily or not. I want every knee to bow, including mine. I want the world to be restored and released from its curse, where the ground doesn't cry out from the blood shed on it. (Genesis 4:10). I want no babies to be aborted but each one (in the Millennium kingdom) to be cherished. I want to love perfectly.

Praise the Lord that someday, I will. Thanks to His grace and His desire to gather a people unto Himself, someday, soon I hope, we will be with Him.

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Institute for Creation Research: Great Earthquakes of the Bible

By the Numbers 2013

By the Numbers 2012


By the Numbers 2010

ABC News: Incredible sinkholes around the world


Saturday, November 22, 2014

On being hospitable; Part 2

Yesterday I excerpted Jen Wilkin's essay on the difference between entertaining and being hospitable.Today I have a more personal take on being hospitable.

I envy people who can easily converse in a crowd. The art of conversation is one that, I believe, is a dying art.

Once we had a friend Mike, we called him Mikey. He was a huge man, 350 pounds, built like an aging football player, with an easy laugh. He lived next door and often, he would stop at our house on his way home. When we heard his truck we knew we were in for a few laughs and a good story. He was a true raconteur, regaling us loudly and always had us laughing in two minutes flat. Mikey was the kind of friend you were always glad to see coming. We were glad we were the kind of friends he felt comfortable stopping in to see.

Public Domain

Other people can converse on a more quiet and less showy way. My gal friend had a husky laugh and her eyes sparkled in delight when we talked. She didn’t say much, but her words were always insightful and full of love. Her style of conversation was more of the listening kind. She would listen with full attention, too. I’d storm in, say, “Guess what happened?!” and she would stop what she was doing, fold her hands across her Buddha belly, and look me full in the eye. She would laugh at all the right spots, and was entertained by the smallest incident. Often, she would add an insightful comment that left me pondering a new thought for the rest of the day.

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.
(1 Thessalonians 5:11).
I think that the dubiously named skill of “multi-tasking” has had a negative effect on conversation. Have you noticed that people do a lot of things while they say they are listening to you? Cell phone message checking, taking notes, shuffling papers, glancing at the computer. I am a bad offender of that as well. I need to do better at my listening, I admit. What if we all stopped doing other things and really listened to each other? Gatherings at home would be more hospitable. Please turn your cell phone off.

Italians’ style of conversation is steeped in storytelling. We call it ‘l’historia.” Even the simplest query from a friend, the smallest question designed for a short answer of “fine”, to the Italian, is met with excitement. Immediately we launch into a long, lyrical story that has a beginning, middle, end, and ranges from laughter to tears and back again. Watch out if you ask me how I’m doing! You are likely to get a long, and to me, absolutely fascinating story.

Remember the movie Moonstruck with Cher? A Brooklyn Italian-American family and their trials and triumphs? The brother-in-law character was named Raymond Cappomaggi and it was he who saw the large moon years before. Around the dinner table he was urged to repeat the legendary incident, with the family exhorting, ‘Come on, Ray, tell about Cosmo’s moon!” he responded apologetically, “Well, it’s not a story…but…”

Moonstruck

I knew exactly what he meant. It’s almost genetically impossible for me converse without having a fully born story in my mind, accompanied by hand gestures that usually knock over the salt shaker.

Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. (Hebrews 10:25)

There are many different styles of conversation, and the one I like best I had the good fortune to experience one long ago Thanksgiving. As a person with no family nearby I was invited to spend the day at a friends’ house. There were ten of us there, their family members and me. Even though I was meeting some of them for the first time, they included me in conversation that was flowing, relaxed, and easy. I was really touched by their hospitality. Ultimately, the best conversation style is not verbal, it’s one of the heart, one that includes, listens, and loves. I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving and can be hospitable by being a good listener and a lover of people.

Public Domain

That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith, both yours and mine. (Romans 1:12)

Scripture photo: House on sand


EPrata photo. Lomo camera



Friday, November 21, 2014

Jen Wilkin explains the difference between entertaining and being hospitable

Part 2 here...

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Jen Wilkin wrote a great essay about the difference between entertaining and being hospitable. Please, PLEASE read it.

We are called to be hospitable. It is a biblical command.
  • Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares. (Hebrews 13:2)
  • Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. (1 Peter 4:9)
  • Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. (Romans 12:13)
  • But hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. (Titus 1:8)
  • And having a reputation for good works: if she has brought up children, has shown hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has cared for the afflicted, and has devoted herself to every good work. (1 Timothy 5:10)
  • Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house; when you see the naked, to cover him, and not to hide yourself from your own flesh? (Isaiah 58:7)
  • Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, (1 Timothy 3:2)
  • And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, (Acts 2:46)
The Graphics Fairy
Did you know there were so many references to being hospitable? There are still others, about serving, and lodging with one another and in the OT about not suppressing the sojourner. Being hospitable is important.

I knew a woman who was the most hospitable person I'd ever met. Neither one of us was saved. I am now and she still isn't so we're not talking biblical standards here, but still, her loving kindness is ever an example to me. Her house was open to one and all. Jen Wilkin wrote,

Orderly house or not, hospitality throws wide the doors. It offers itself, expecting nothing in return. It keeps no record of its service, counts no cost, craves no thanks. It is nothing less than the joyous, habitual offering of those who recall a gracious table set before them in the presence of their enemies, of those who look forward to a glorious table yet to come. It is a means by which we imitate our infinitely hospitable God.
That was her. The piles of clutter tottered high and were thrown to this corner and that when more people piled in. The table was moved out from the wall, then moved again with a leaf added when more people stopped over. The larder was often bare-bones but the beans and bread was just as tasty as if it had been lobster and caviar. The tea kettle whistled when someone needed sympathy, guitars were broken out when we were joyful and wanted to sing, kids were always included, and there was always laughter. It was convivial and sweet there, always.

No one minded the towels on the bathroom floor, the crumbs on the table or the dishes in the sink. What I remember is the laughter, friendliness, warmth. It was a bright and safe place to berth when seeking refuge in a cold-cruel world.

Jen Wilkin again,
Hospitality involves setting a table that makes everyone feel comfortable. It chooses a menu that allows face time with guests instead of being chained to the cooktop. It picks up the house to make things pleasant but doesn’t feel the need to conceal evidences of everyday life. It sometimes sits down to dinner with flour in its hair. It allows the gathering to be shaped by the quality of the conversation rather than the cuisine. Hospitality shows interest in the thoughts, feelings, pursuits and preferences of its guests. It is good at asking questions and listening intently to answers. Hospitality focuses attention on others.

Pixabay free pics
And there is the Christ-likeness, service in humility and love. I can't wait for the day when I can be
perfectly hospitable in heaven, when others may come to my room Jesus had prepared for me and I can host them in the name of Jesus in perfect love.

Until that time, I'm not perfect, but as the hospitable season approaches I hope I can display the same loving openness that my friend did. Even more, I'm thankful for the example of generations of warm and loving Christians who have done for my ancestors in the faith. Peter stayed many days in Joppa with Simon the Tanner (nearly three years). (Acts 9:43). Saul/Paul stated with Judas in Damascus on Straight Street. (Acts 9:11). Lydia urged Paul and ensemble to stay at her house,

And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us. (Acts 16:15).

"her [Lydia's] faith soon worked by love; and by the fruits of righteousness which followed upon it" (Gill's Exposition).

Part 2 here...

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Billy Graham: a wolf who offers only dreams of meat to those who are starving

On the occasion of Billy Graham's 96th birthday on November 7, Orthodox bishop Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev of the Russian Orthodox church was ushered in to Billy Graham's living room at his home in North Carolina in order to offer the elder man well-wishes.
The Press Republican stated of the photo-op,
"The photo-op on Nov. 7 was symbolic and, for many, historic. The elder statesman was the Rev. Billy Graham, and rather than an evangelical superstar, the man who met with him at his North Carolina mountain home was Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev. This visit was linked to a Hilarion address to a Charlotte gathering of Protestant and Orthodox leaders, organized by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. (BGEA)
The Russian Orthodox Church is not a true church because it adheres to orthodoxy that is false. They were a schism church formed after splitting from Roman Catholicism. The Orthodox group of churches (Greek, Russian, etc.) do not believe in justification by faith. They believe in part:
  • The equal authority of church tradition and Scripture
  • Discouragement of individuals interpreting the Bible apart from tradition
  • The perpetual virginity of Mary
  • Prayer for the dead
  • Baptism of infants without reference to individual responsibility and faith
  • The possibility of receiving salvation after death
  • The possibility of losing salvation

Therefore it is unfortunate to read that the BGEA organized a conference this month and invited a mix of men who preach a different Gospel with Protestant leaders, for what has darkness to do with light, For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

From Twitter. Met. Hilarion Alfeyev visiting Billy Graham on his 96th birthday.

Though Billy Graham has for decades made public statements confirming his place in the pantheon of destructive wolves, there are many today who still don't believe that such a man could be a false Christian. To that end, here are some quotes from Billy Graham, from newspaper media, books, and transcripts from interviews, which show clearly that such a man is not of the faith. Graham said these things throughout his life, not simply in his advanced years. Some claim he was 'confused', but no such claim can be made of a man who has made assertions contrary to the bible in each decade of his life. Some of these things he said as far back as 1948, at the beginning of his television crusade career.

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On Evolution:
Graham: I personally believe that it’s just as easy to believe that God took some dust and blew on it and out came a man as it is to accept the fact that God breathed on a man and he became a living soul and it started with some protoplasm and went right up through the evolutionary process. Either way is by faith, and whichever way God did it makes no difference as to what man is and man’s relationship to God. (Billy Graham: Candid Conversations with a Public Man By David Frost)
Here we begin with a basic tenet: Hath God said? The original question in the Garden to Eve which she answered incorrectly and led to the Fall of man, is here again posed to Mr Graham. Hath God said he formed man from the dust of the ground? (Genesis 1:26-27, Genesis 2:7). Or not? Indeed, God hath said how He made man and it is only a man without the Spirit in Him who finds it easy to dismiss the plain words of God and accept "arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God," (2 Corinthians 10:5). "Either way" that man appeared on the earth, as Graham believes, is NOT by faith. One is by faith and the other is by satan.

Are you in favor of the ordination of women?
Graham: It would be according to the circle I was in, because I feel I belong to all the churches. I am equally at home in an Anglican church or a Baptist church or a Brethren Assembly or a Roman Catholic church and I would have to say that I would identify with the customs and the culture and the theology of that particular church.
But do you welcome that development? (ordination of women]
Yes. … from my study of the scriptures there were many women preachers in the bible. Candid Conversations with a Public Man, David Frost
Once a man accepts man-made opinions and not God's word, all else falls from there. Here we see Mr Graham accepting culture and bowing to tradition, the way reeds are swayed by the wind. (Matthew 11:7, Jude 1:12). Whatever the people around him believe, Graham believes. That is what he is saying here. The bible says pastoring is for men only. Finally, Christians belong to Jesus, not "all the churches." A man who "feels" he belongs to all the churches, including RCC, is not a man who has the Spirit in him.

On salvation
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Graham: I used to think that pagans in far-off countries were lost--were going to hell--if they did not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ preached to them. I no longer believe that. ... I believe there are other ways of recognizing the existence of God--through nature, for instance--and plenty of other opportunities, therefore, of saying yes to God. (James Michael Beam, article "I Can’t Play God Anymore," McCall’s Magazine, 1978)
Only a man without the Spirit could deny that Jesus is the only way, and to say that other opportunities exist for men to say yes to God. Additionally, many say yes to God but deny the Son. Mr Graham did not speak of Jesus as the exclusive way to Christ, but spoke only of a nebulous allusion to nature.

In fact, the method of recognizing God through nature which Mr Graham is alluding is a verse about the wrath of God upon those who plainly see the existence of God in nature but suppress this truth in their unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18-20).

It could not be clearer: a man who disbelieves that those in countries who do not hear the word are not going to hell is not in the Spirit. This means that Mr Graham disbelieves the first and last condition of man: sinner born from the womb and being condemned already. (John 3:18)

On follow up after the Crusades
Graham: Anyone who makes a decision at our meetings is seen later and referred to a local clergyman, Protestant, Catholic, or Jewish. -Billy Graham, San Francisco News interview on Sept 21, 1957.
Many of the people who reach a decision for Christ at our meetings have joined the Catholic Church and we have received commendations from Catholic publications for the revived interest in their Church following our campaigns. This happened both in Boston and Washington. After all, one of our prime purposes is to help the churches in a community. If after we move on, the local (sic) churches do not feel the efforts of these meetings in increased membership and attendance, then our crusade would have to be considered a failure. (Billy Graham, Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph, 1952)
No man in the Spirit would celebrate the consignment of a seeking soul to the church of the spirit of antichrist! The Roman Catholic Church is not a local church but a synagogue of satan. No one who seeks Jesus will find him in a Jewish synagogue either. If Mr Graham's "prime purpose" as he states, is to add souls to the number of those who are bound for hell, then Graham is of hell and making sons of hell twice as bad he is. (Matthew 23:15).

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On infant baptism
I do believe that something happens at the baptism of an infant, particularly if the parents are Christians and teach their children Christian truths from childhood. We cannot fully understand the mysteries of God. But I believe that a miracle can happen in these children so that they are regenerated, that is, made Christians through infant baptism. If you want to call that baptismal regeneration, that's all right with me. (Wilfred Bockelman, "A Lutheran Looks at Billy Graham," Lutheran Standard, 10 October 1961)

No person is made a Christian by having water sprinkled on their infant body. We are made Christians by the way God said we become Christians:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? (Galatians 3:2 )

Can an infant believe what he has heard?

Graham on hell being metaphorical and not real

The good folks at Answers in Genesis are right: once you chip away at the word in the first few chapters of the bible, all other doctrines crumble.
Graham: I think that hell essentially is separation from God forever. And that is the worst hell that I can think of. But I think people have a hard time believing God is going to allow people to burn in literal fire forever. I think the fire that is mentioned in the Bible is a burning thirst for God that can never be quenched. (Orlando Sentinel, Orlando, Florida, April 10, 1983)

You see the connection here: Graham says that "people have a hard time believing" about hell being eternal punishment. Rather than Mr Graham teach it clearly and scripturally, he bows to the wind of doctrine like a broken reed: therefore he says, "I think". Notice he does not use scripture to support his view. It's always, 'I think', or 'I feel'... However the bible is very clear on the fate of the unbeliever.

But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice
Pixabay free pics.
magic arts, the idolaters and all liars--their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death
. (Revelation 21:8)

Hell IS separation from God forever, though not separation from His wrath. However, the unbeliever was already separated from God before he went to hell. The fiery lake of burning sulfur is very specific about the hell the unbeliever will endure. Hell is not only separation from Jesus, but it is fire, sulfur, and physical torment (Luke 16:24; Jude 1:12-13, Revelation 14:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:9)

These are just a few, certainly not all, of the shockingly aberrant doctrines Graham has held during his life and has espoused publicly. We must not fail to mention the doctrines he does NOT preach about, either. When a person looks at the life of a man like Billy Graham, 60 years of seemingly tireless promotion of Jesus to the masses, they cannot believe that such a man would not be saved. They won't believe he is a wolf, one of the pack that was prophesied to come in after Paul left the earth. (Acts 20:29)

Yet Jesus said, "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Matthew 7:15)

In sheep's clothing means that the exterior will be molded to look like a believer, but inwardly they are not. It takes time, prayer, maturity and skill given by the Spirit to detect the wolves. And yet, is it really so hard after all? A man who denies basic doctrines, diverts seekers from Christ, and partners with all religions as equal is not so hard to see is a wolf. Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary says,
Beware—But beware of false prophets—that is, of teachers coming as authorized expounders of the mind of God and guides to heaven. (See Ac 20:29, 30; 2Pe 2:1, 2) which come to you in sheep's clothing—with a bland, gentle, plausible exterior; persuading you that the gate is not strait nor the way narrow, and that to teach so is illiberal and bigoted—precisely what the old prophets did (Eze 13:1-10, 22) but inwardly they are ravening wolves—bent on devouring the flock for their own ends (2Co 11:2, 3, 13-15).

Gilbert Tennent (February 5, 1703 – July 23, 1764) was a religious leader, born in County Armagh, Ireland. Gilbert was one of the leaders of the Great Awakening of religious feeling in Colonial America, along with Jonathan Edwards and George Whitefield. His most famous sermon, "On the Danger of an Unconverted Ministry" compared anti-revivalistic ministers to the Pharisees described in the gospels. (Wikipedia)

Gilbert Tennent, On the Danger of an Unconverted Ministry
I may add that sad experience verifies what has been now observed concerning the unprofitableness of the ministry of unconverted men. Look into the congregations of unconverted ministers, and see what a sad security reigns there; not a soul convinced that can be heard of for many years together, and yet the ministers are easy, for they say they do their duty! Aye, a small matter will satisfy us in the lack of that which we have no great desire after, but when persons have their eyes opened and their hearts set upon the work of God, they are not so soon satisfied with their doings, and with lack of success for a time. O! They mourn with Micah that they are as those that gather the summer-fruits, as the grape-gleaning of the vintage. Mr. (Richard) Baxter justly observes that those who speak about their doings in the aforesaid manner are likely to do little good to the Church of God. But many Ministers (as Mr. Bracel observes) think the gospel flourishes among them when the people are in peace, and many come to hear the Word and to the Sacrament. If, with the other, they get the salaries well-paid, then it is fine times indeed in their opinion! O sad! And they are full of hopes that they do good, though th ey know nothing about it. But what comfort can a conscientious man, who travails in birth that Christ may be formed in His hearer’s hearts, take from what he knows not? Will a hungry stomach be satisfied with dreams about meat? I believe not, though, I confess, a full one may.
That is what Mr Graham offers: dreams of meat, while they spiritually starve. Tennant again:
And more especially, my brethren, we should pray to the Lord of the harvest to send forth faithful laborers into His harvest, seeing that the harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. And, O sirs, how humble, believing, and importunate should we be in this petition! O! Let u s follow the Lord day and night with cries, tears, pleadings, and groanings upon this account! For God knows there is great necessity of it. O! Thou Fountain of mercy and Father of pity, pour forth upon Thy poor children a Spirit of prayer for the obtaining of this important mercy! Help, help, O Eternal God and Father, for Christ’s sake!
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Further Reading

Billy Graham's Legacy of Evangelism Continues Online; 5 Millionth Person Indicates Decision to Accept Jesus as Savior

Life, ministry of Billy Graham chronicled in special release

Billy Graham: 'His impact for good in the world is incalculable'

Billy Graham and the Catholics