Saturday, October 25, 2014

Churching Alone: The Collapse of American Churches

In 2000, an important book was published. Robert Putnam wrote Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community.

Since the founding of America, we as a nation have always emphasized the importance of a strong and active civil society to the consolidation and perpetuation of democracy. When Thomas Paine wrote "Common Sense" before the American Revolution, people grabbed up his pamphlet and brought it to the tavern to discuss. Taverns and public squares were abuzz with discussions of ideas, concepts, philosophies. A robust public conversation with personal engagement among neighbors was the foundation of democracy.

I grew up in Rhode Island, the 13th state in the American Colonies, a place where there are more pre-colonial buildings still standing than anywhere else in the US. The first American Jewish synagogue is in Newport. (Touro). The first Baptist church is in Newport. A letter written in 1790 from George Washington to the RI Hebrew Congregation, assuring them, citizens of a newly independent United States, of tolerance and freedom of religion. Washington wrote,
May the children of the stock of Abraham who dwell in this land continue to merit and enjoy the good will of the other inhabitants — while every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.
But back to the old days. Men discussed ideas together in public spaces- taverns, the town square, the general store, front porches. They argued, persuaded, they met, they wrestled with ideas and formed community. It was that wrestling and knitting that made us strong enough as a collective of disparate farmers, millworkers, sailors, and the like, to dare to poke the eye of the mighty United Kingdom, and fight for freedom, including freedom to assemble and freedom to worship.

In this paper, the Daily Life of the American Colonies: The Role of the Tavern in Society Noon Inn Barroom, we learn of the importance of a citizenry discussing ideas together,
In the century or so leading up to the Revolution, colonial taverns and inns were an essential part of the community. Horses need frequent rests, travel by coach and horseback were far from comfortable. In Massachusetts on the roads leading to Boston, taverns and inns were spaced about every eight miles, which worked out to a reasonable journey in the winter cold before a person needed to warm up, inside and out.

The main reason for the importance of the colonial era tavern was as a social hub. Issues of the day were discussed and hammered out here, in fact, often in official settings. The City Tavern in Philadelphia, was the site of the first continental congress. The Virginia legislature met in the taverns of Williamsburg. And the initial investigations of the Salem Witch trials were supposed to be held at Ingersoll’s ordinary, [a name for a small tavern] though it was in the end was too small for the crowds.

To the common man, the tavern was where you learned the current prices for your cash crops. It was where you could find a newspaper, often read aloud for those who couldn’t read. It’s where local issues were debated and local governments met. The colonial era tavern was the link to the outer world for those in rural areas, and a place where you could meet your neighbors for conversation, games and diversion.

Entertainment included gambling; on horse racing, cockfights as well as cards. Actually the colonists were known to gamble on almost anything, including guessing the weight of pigs, a practice eventually outlawed on Long Island as it led to too many fights. The tavern also served as courthouse, where you learned of new business opportunities and worked out trades with your neighbors.

The tavern also served as post office. Originally the practice was to put your posts on a table, which travelers would then take along the route with them. It was commonly accepted that the travelers had the right to read your mail, providing a bit of entertainment along the way. Mail arrived in the community in the same way that it left, eventually becoming more organized and efficient.

In addition, recruitment and deployment of the militia took place in the taverns. Prior to the battle of Lexington, the militia organized and fortified themselves at Buckman’s tavern, before marching out onto the Lexington Green and into the history books.
In Newport RI, where our family would often drive on a Sunday, the White Horse Tavern still stands. It was constructed before 1673, is one of the oldest tavern buildings in the United States. It is located on the corner of Farewell and Marlborough streets in Newport. We used to eat brunch there. I'd sit in one of the many small rooms, with small fireplace blazing, hardwood floors and ladderback wooden chairs, and wonder about the Colonists who lifted a tankard in debate as to whether to separate from England.

In Wikipedia it is stated,
“In the first half of the 19th century, Alexis de Tocqueville had observations about American life that seemed to outline and define social capital. He observed that Americans were prone to meeting at as many gatherings as possible to discuss all possible issues of state, economics, or the world that could be witnessed. The high levels of transparency caused greater participation from the people and thus allowed for democracy to work better.”

White Horse Tavern, Newport, in 2009. Wikipedia
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42 KJV)

If the foundation of a democracy was forged by citizens together in community, discussing things of import, ideas traded, dispensed with, held onto; how much more should those behaviors be replicated in the church? Where do the community of Christ's members gather, discuss, flesh out biblical ideas, knit ourselves together in His name? Where are the robust discussions, healthy praises to Jesus, songs and fellowship? Because it's not in church. And increasingly, it's not in homes, either. Forget the public square, if a gathering occurs, say at Cracker Barrel, the talk is rarely biblical. Other times, Christians are prevented from speaking of Jesus in public.
Public domain

Corporate worship is extremely important. In this sermon by Phil Johnson called A Foretaste of Glory Divine. Pastor Johnson explains the verse from Psalm 122.
Notice the plural pronouns in the first two verses: "I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD." Our feet are standing Within your gates, O Jerusalem." One of the distinctive joys David is writing about here is the corporate nature of this worship experience. He had spent much of his youth alone on the hills tending sheep and meditating on the truth of God in solitude and that's certainly a good and valid exercise. But it cannot take the place of fellowship and public worship with the multitude of God's people. That is why the feasts were so important in Israel. Verse 4: "The tribes go up, even the tribes of the LORD--An ordinance for Israel--To give thanks to the name of the LORD."
And,
There's a sanctifying influence in the gathering of believers that you will not benefit from if you think watching a church service on TV or streaming church on the Internet is a valid substitute for real live participation in the public worship of God's people. Hebrews 10:24-25: "Let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 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."
There are two problems in today's 'churching alone' era. One is that people increasingly satisfied to stay at home and watch someone on TV or streamed online. The second and the greater problem is that when people do attend church for any reason at any function, rare is the talk of doctrine. We might sing some 'me-oriented' songs, listen to a (too-short/self-help/topical) sermon. And then when the last 'Amen' is said, people are out the doors, never to speak of Jesus again until next week.

When believers gather these days, too often it is not really to worship God but merely to entertain one another. ~Phil Johnson
What are we losing by 'churching alone'? What are the effects on the church when its members forgo social intercourse, fellowship, and good discussions and praises to the Lord? Wikipedia summarizes Putnam's book,
Putnam surveys the decline of "social capital" in the United States since 1950. He has described the reduction in all the forms of in-person social intercourse upon which Americans used to found, educate, and enrich the fabric of their social lives. He believes this undermines the active civil engagement which a strong democracy requires from its citizens.
iPhone wallpaper
When we 'church alone,' whether at home or alone as an island at church, our biblical lives are not enriched. When we are not educated in biblical literacy, we weaken. When we are weak, the scarlet thread of our lives that should be evident when we gather with others isn't connected. And the Preacher said in Ecclesiastes 4:12,

And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.

If Putnam's notion of social capital is an investment in social relations with expected returns in the marketplace, then in the church world, social capital is investment in spiritual-social relations with expected returns in the church. In Acts 2 we see the priority of fellowship, and along with that came praise for the Lord. (Acts 5:42)

It seems clear that the more we meet in His name, breaking bread, having fellowship, and discussing His doctrine, then the more we have glad hearts, generous spirits, and praise for Jesus on our lips. It stands to reason that the opposite is true too; less we get together, the fewer times we discuss His doctrines, break bread, and have glad hearts, and thus we praise Him and proclaim Him less.

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)

And truth be told, if we do get together, how often do we really discuss His doctrines as the verse in Acts 2:42 states the first church did? Not a lot.

Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment. (Proverbs 18:1)
Yet personal engagement at an all-time low. The previous networking availabilities in church, such a personal visits, dinners on the ground, home gatherings, have gone the way of the dinosaur. People don’t do that anymore. We do not 'continually devote ourselves to... fellowship.'

More often than not, the way this generation engages today is via social media online. Visiting in person is a relic from the past.

What do colonial times in the 1770s to 1800 have to do with today's church? Cut to 100 years later, the 1900s. There was still a public square. Before television, before the internet, people sat and talked. They had coffee. They visited. They had Sunday suppers. They sat by the pot bellied stove at the feed store and talked. People played bridge, gathered for parties, told stories. They discoursed.

The iconic Andy Griffith show reflected this reality- front porch sitting was a favored past time.
It was a time when people were invested in each other's lives. They know when someone wasn't feeling well. Or wasn't themselves. They knew when someone was struggling. They celebrated victories and pitched in during hard times.

We have lost that.

We're "crazy busy" now.

Yet the youngsters don’t know any other way of engaging except what they see online or through their parents or other trusted adults. They think fellowship is gathering at a google hangout.

I'm not saying anything that is unknown to anyone living in the year 2014. It's old news that we do not socialize anymore. Here is the new news. New, at least to me.

We are forgetting HOW to socialize.

The influence of personal cellphones and texting have infiltrated our psyche to the extent that front porch sitting, passing the time, just being with someone is a lost art.

If people socialize at all in person now, it includes a phone interruptions and texting, looking at email, or a myriad of other things that distract from looking fully into someone's eyes and listening to what they are saying with full attention.


This is my favorite episode from Andy Griffith. A business man in a hurry breaks down in Mayberry on a Sunday. Initially chafing at the slow pace of life and the almost uniform commitment by its inhabitants to the priority of fellowship on the Lord's Day, the man eventually succumbs to the love shown to him- and he slows down.

Will you visit someone this week? Will you sing with them, or speak of the glories of our savior, or read the bible together? Will you linger at church for a while afterward and praise the sermon and flesh out some of its points- coming to happy agreement with a fellow believer? Let us not "church alone." The foretaste of glory divine Mr Johnson was preaching on is the corporate gathering of believers on earth being the glad foretaste of the gathering in praise of all of history's saints at the end of time. What a true foretaste- glorying in the Lord together, never alone forevermore.

Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” (Genesis 2:18)




Man in a Hurry- full episode

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Being cheerful and confident amid the collapse of cultural Christianity

I read two things today that encouraged me. Though they are on separate topics, they are kind of the same topic.

First up is a great essay at 9Marks. It is titled:

Cheerful Confidence after Christendom

It is apparent to even the most casual observer that cultural Christianity is dying. I've used the term "cultural collapse of Christianity" and others speak of 'post-Christian era' and 9Marks essay author Timothy Larson says "dissolution of Christendom" but it all means the same thing, the end of an era. Mr Larson explains it well and encourages us to relish the time such as this in which the Lord in His plan and wisdom put us. Being joyful and confident and triumphant in a time of evil and darkness and uncertainty will be an anomaly to one and all. Here is a short excerpt from Mr Larson's essay:
THANK GOD FOR GRANTING US NOW

God has granted me the privilege to live now—in my own times. To wish otherwise is not only pointless, it is ungrateful. It is also self-defeating. Every season of life has its own joys. Foolishness is to want to have the joys of adulthood when still a teenager or the joys of adolescence when middle aged and so on.

Likewise, there are unique joys, privileges, and opportunities for serving God in each generation. We are called not to hanker after a different age, but rather to jump in with relish to following Christ at this moment. There is an old Puritan saying: “If you would make the greatest success of your life, try to discover what God is doing in your time, and fling yourself into the accomplishment of his purpose and will.”

YES, THERE ARE UNIQUE CHALLENGES

Our times, of course, have unique challenges. We are witnessing the dissolution of Christendom. Christendom was a long period of time in the West when Christian commitments and beliefs were buoyed up by political and cultural supports. In Christendom, there were worldly incentives to at least pretend to believe Christian doctrine and to observe Christian practices. To do so was good for one’s professional and social success.
The other item that was encouraging was another of Phil Johnson's sermons on the Psalms. It is an exposition of Psalm 122. The sermon is titled "A Foretaste of Glory Divine"

So many Christians moan and groan about life, because they either do not study the prophetic scriptures to know what's coming, or they don't have an eternal perspective, or both. Mr Johnson expertly and beautifully opens the Psalm to us and eloquently describes the manifold and unspeakable glories to come. Here is but a taste: (and it is much better heard than read, but if you have connection problems a transcription is available.)
What Jerusalem was to David, the church is to you and me. It is the dwelling-place of God. It is a living, breathing, holy convocation of God's people, who gather to worship Him in unison. It is the very same fellowship of saints that will one day culminate in a heavenly convocation. It is a place of safety from the evils of a decadent world. It is a place where God's authority is acknowledged and submitted to with gladness. It is an oasis of divine grace in a desert of corruption. It is quite literally a foretaste of glory divine.

The greatest joy in heaven the centerpiece of it all will be the unspeakable glory of God. God's full glory will be on permanent display, and you will be able to see it with an unhindered view: examine it, and bask in it, and reflect it in all its perfection. You will be able to stand in the resplendence of that glory without any sense of guilt or shame. You will have a pure love for God that exceeds any love you have ever known. And the natural, inevitable, joyous response of your heart will be pure worship.

Please do take these two items as a matched pair. Be encouraged that you were placed here by the wisdom of God for just such a time as this, and that we have unspeakable joys to look forward to...SOON!

Public Domain




Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Swastikas appearing in the news more frequently


In the Western world, the swastika since the 1930s has mostly been associated with
the flag of Nazi Germany and the Nazi Party.
Because of its use by Nazi Germany, the swastika since the 1930s has been largely associated with Nazism and white supremacy in most Western countries. As a result, all of its use, or its use as a Nazi or hate symbol is prohibited in some jurisdictions. Because of the stigma attached to the symbol, many buildings that have contained the symbol as decoration have had the symbol removed. (Source)
The swastika is an ugly symbol. It will be forever associated with hatred of Jews, Hitler, and the gas chambers. Hitler was actually a prototype of the Antichrist. The coming Antichrist, AKA Beast, will fulfill prophecy as the most sinful man in the history of the earth. He is called "The Man of Perdition". (2 Thessalonians 2:3). He will embody the worst of the worst that man can be.

You see, our trajectory since the Fall in the Garden has been leading up to this. Man fell and within moments it seemed, the first murder. The first polygamy. And down it went, until just before the Flood, we read in Genesis 6:5-

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

EVERY inclination
ONLY evil
ALL the time.

That's total depravity- expressed.

We're all totally depraved, but not all of us express sin to the fullest all the time. Hitler was not an anomaly. However what was an anomaly not the level of depravity- we all have that in us, but the level that was outwardly expressed. The period just before the Flood was such a time when they did. The Tribulation will be such a time again, when people express all their fullest sin, all the time. In the Tribulation, Hitler will look like an altar boy.

Between the cessation of the flood and the rapture has been a time of increasing sin. Mankind has gotten worse and worse. Part of that worsening is the hatred we're seeing for Christians. Accompanying that hatred is a rise in Jew-hatred.

Seeing a swastika is always shocking. It is an emblem of hate and shame and appalling depravity. It is associated with white supremacy, Anti-semitism, and war. That is why I notice more and more news articles about the swastika. Here is a sampling just from the last two weeks.

Maine:
Vandalism of Collins campaign signs with Nazi symbol being treated as hate crime
This sign in Farmingdale is one of a number
of campaign signs throughout the state spray-painted with swastikas over the weekend.
Connecticut:
Swastikas Found Outside Yale University Freshman Dorm
Three swastikas were found chalked outside a Yale University freshman residence hall late Sunday night, The Yale Daily News reports.

Ohio:
Avon police searching for suspect who chemically burned swastika on Avon lawn
When Avon resident Sam Tippy went out to mow the lawn of his Ambridge Drive home on the morning of Oct. 5, he discovered that someone chemically burned a large swastika into his front yard.

Jerusalem:
Assailants deface Temple Mount with Star of David equating swastika
Unknown assailants spray-painted an anti-Semitic image equating a Star of David to a swastika at the Temple Mount, passersby discovered Sunday morning.  Police opened an in investigation in to the incident.

New Jersey:
Kean University student feels threatened after apparent swastikas drawn outside dorm room
When Kean University senior Nathaniel Sietz came back to his dorm room one night earlier this month, he found something unexpected on the whiteboard next to his door: what appeared to be swastikas smeared into the text. Sietz, who is Jewish, said he's not sure if the marks were left out of hate or as an ill-advised joke, but said he feels threatened either way. "I don't want to wear my Jewish star on campus," Sietz said. "I don't want to wear anything that has Israel on it or any connection to Judaism at all. I don't want to have a target on my back."

Nazi regalia is becoming more popular. It's not just the swastika, but other Nazi regalia are suddenly seen as cool.

Russia:
Russian Social Media Site Takes Down 'Miss Hitler' Competition
A Russian social network has removed a page that was running a Nazi beauty contest, dubbed "Miss Hitler," but the existence of the competition highlights troubling levels of anti-Semitism in the region, the Anti-Defamation League warned Tuesday.

Controversial Shirt Sports SS Logo in 'Lightning Bolt' Pattern
A shirt design has caused more than a fashion faux pas, Channel 10 revealed Saturday, after similarities were drawn between the pattern printed and the symbol for the Nazi SS. Mango, a popular European women's brand, has debuted a shirt covered in tiny lightning bolts reminiscent of the SS logo.

"and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast, and who can fight against it?” (Revelation 13:4b)

Eventually, they will receive what they ask for, a man of perdition a thousand times worse than Hitler. This time near the end as we are, I suspect, is seeing a rise of a beastly side of mankind. Day by day, week by week, the beast-attitude rises in man, and the brutality that is within us is coming to the fore.

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. (2 Timothy 3:1-5)

Already the world has clamored for a strong leader. Someone who will solve the problems. Some have even called for a Hitler-type. Soon, they won't just be crying out for just Nazi regalia, they will cry out for the antichrist. The Lord will oblige, a beast will be given authority to rule. Woe to the inhabitants of the earth, then.



Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Never forget how deeply without hope the lost are

During this current Ebola outbreak, an NBC cameraman contracted the disease.

Remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2:12)
About two weeks before his diagnosis, Mukpo wrote how he felt about the crisis on Facebook: "man oh man i have seen some bad things in the last two weeks of my life. how unpredictable and fraught with danger life can be. how in some parts of the world, basic levels of help and assistance that we take for granted completely don't exist for many people. the raw coldness of deprivation and the potential for true darkness that exists in the human experience. i hope that humanity can figure out how we can take care of each other and our world. simple, soft aspiration for all my brothers and sisters on this earth who suffer the elements and the cold. may we all be free, loved, and tended to..."

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 1:13)

Mankind who is without Jesus, grieves. They don't know why, but they mourn and grieve and have an internal black hole in their heart.

the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” (Matthew 4:16)

We see how the world acts and we are troubled by it and we mourn too, but at least we know why it is the way it is. We know why brother is against brother and the love has gone cold. We know that it will end. The lost do not know this, and they cry out in inconsolable darkness, as Mr Mukpo did.

Jesus is the solution for every single problem in the universe. He came

"to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the path of peace." (Luke 1:79)

Peace from this desolate distress the lost feel and must endure. Peace from this endless seeking and stumbling in the dark.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)


Monday, October 20, 2014

"Learn How To Recognize God's Voice with Rick Warren"

The video below is one hour nine minutes long, but you only need to listen to the first 30 seconds to see that it is a farce.

HT No Compromise Radio

Here is a transcript of the first 30 seconds. Below the video I'll show how and why this just isn't biblical, and worse, instills fear. The wrong kind of fear.
Last week we began an new mini-series in understanding how to hear the voice of God. Very few things are more important than this, because you can't have a relationship with God if you can't hear God. If all you do is ever talk to Him in prayer, and you never hear God speak to you, that's a one-way relationship. That isn't much of a relationship. God wants to speak to you.



We go to the most obvious bible verse, Hebrews 1:1-2, which says,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.
W.P. Zubar w/eartrumpet Library of Congress

God spoke to us through His Son, who is the Word. He Spirit-energized writers to put to paper the things His Son said. That word was finalized with the completion of Revelation, and to seal the final word, the final speaking of God at this point in time, Revelation 22:18-19 states,

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, 19and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

God spoke through His Son.

Now, the Spirit does illuminate the Word to us, making it clear and understandable. But the Spirit is not saying new things. He is simply testifying of Christ, when He points us to His word and illuminates it for us. Here is an essay on illumination. For example, the essay states,
Psalm 119, which is the longest chapter in the Bible, is a song about God's Word. In verse 130, it says “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” This verse establishes the basic method of God's illumination. When God's Word enters the heart of a person, it gives light and understanding to them. For this reason, we are repeatedly told to study the Word of God.
God spoke final words, they are through His Son, and those speakings are contained in the closed canon of the bible.

What Warren is saying is that the canon is not closed and we can hear special and personal things in addition to the bible. This violates Revelation 22:18.

Secondly, in the Hebrews verse it states, 'in these last days'. The last days are the days of grace, between which Jesus incarnated and when He will come back. We are in the last days. We have been since He first came and we will be until He returns again.

However what was most troubling is that Warren made an absolute statement and it is completely unbiblical. He said,

"you can't have a relationship with God if you can't hear God"

Woe to the false shepherds who strike the sheep!

When Rick Warren makes an absolute statement like "you CAN'T have a relationship with God UNLESS you hear His voice, he is adding qualifiers to the standards for a relationship that God has already set. Nowhere in the bible is there a condition for faith that includes hearing from God. We know we are saved by grace alone through faith alone.

How to have a closer relationship with God

How to have a relationship with Jesus

We can do a quick keyword search in the NT for the word unless in the context of salvation conditions. One cannot have a relationship with God unless one is saved. So let's see what it takes to be saved and have this relationship Warren is talking about. Remember, we're looking in the Bible for a condition placed on our faith as Warren said, 'unless you hear God speaking to you, you cannot have a relationship with Him.'

"Truly, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven". (Matthew 18:3).

OK, so that is a biblical condition attached to our faith. Pulpit Commentary explains:
Christ points to little children as the model to which the members of his kingdom must assimilate themselves. The special attributes of children which he would recommend are humility, unworldliness, simplicity, teachableness, - the direct contraries of self-seeking, worldliness, distrust, conceit.
"No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” (Luke 13:5)

"Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

Another faith condition. Still not finding "unless you hear God you can't have a relationship with Him." Let's keep looking.

"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day." (John 6:44).

OK, so unless God draws a person, they will not be in a relationship with Him.

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. (John 6:53).

Gill's Exposition explains the John 6 verse:
But the words design a spiritual eating of Christ by faith. To eat the flesh, and drink the blood of Christ, is to believe that Christ is come in the flesh, and is truly and really man; that his flesh is given for the life of his people, and his blood is shed for their sins
"I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins.” (John 8:24).

"Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." (John 15:4)

We need to repent in order to have a relationship with God. We must abide in Him. Still not finding having to hear Him to have a relationship with Him.

We could go on, but Christians know what it takes to enter into a relationship with God.

As for maintaining a relationship with Him, nothing in the bible says either that if one doesn't hear Him one CANNOT have a relationship. We already discussed what it takes to have a relationship, and once the Lord delivers grace unto a repentant person, they are now and forever a believer in a relationship with the Father. There is nothing that says hearing Him is a requirement for a relationship, neither entering into one nor maintaining one.

Warren's attitude toward prayer was sadly dismissive. He said "If all you're doing is praying to God..." What a scornful attitude toward communication with the Creator of the Universe! The Ancient of Days! The Holy One of Israel! That He entertains prayer, encourages prayer, listens to prayer, answers prayer, is an astounding feature of our relationship with Him!

If "all" we're doing is praying to God?!?! It's everything! I am so sorry that it isn't enough for Warren. He wants more. He wants to HEAR back. It's not enough to have faith that God listens and answers, He has promised to do so. (Mark 11:24).

It is not a one-way relationship. Here are just a few f the things God does for us: God created the world for us to inhabit. (Isaiah 45:18). Jesus died for us. (Romans 5:8). We have the gift of the Spirit is in us. (2 Corinthians 1:22). He illuminates the scriptures for us. (John 16:13-16). Jesus intercedes for us in heaven. (Hebrews 7:25). He provides for us. (2 Corinthians 9:8 ). He gives us grace and help. (Hebrews 4:16). He sends angels to minister to us. (Hebrews 1:14). And so much more. One-way? Hardly. It is a lopsided relationship, one where He gives so much more to us than we give to Him

The fallacy that in order for our faith to be real, that we must hear God, is very detrimental to the believer. We're not supposed to hear God, but when people listen to Warren making an absolute statement like he did, they worry they're not in the faith because they are not hearing from Him. They begin to contrive all sorts of things as Godly utterances, some of which may be satan, others will hear their own inner voice but attribute it to God. Others will simply fear they're not saved, and begin a fruitless search for ways to 'hear' Him. Discouraged, some will lose heart, or be burdened with needless doubt.

Seeking to hear a voice sets aside the sufficiency of the bible as guide for all things. This is the most important point of all. Warren adds to the conditions for faith, dismisses prayer as insufficiently communicative, encourages congregants to pursue a fruitless path of voices and promptings, and worst of all, sets aside the bible for our guide for all things. Whisperings, promptings, voices,all bunk. Read the bible, pray, and watch as God works out Providential things in your life.

Oh, and watch out for wolves like Rick Warren.



Saturday, October 18, 2014

Ayatollah Khamenei tweets that ISIS was created by wicked US, Zionist, & British governments to sow discord between Muslims

The Ayatollah Khamenei tweeted this today. The Ayatollah is the 'Supreme Leader of Iran'.



Yes. By all means let's let Iran have the bomb.

Remember the bomb? Iran? Nuclear enrichment? Nuclear talks?

ISIS, Ebola, tensions at the Temple Mount, and short attention spans have driven that issue off the media's table. But it is still front and center for Iran. Especially because the final deadline for nuclear talks is November 24. Just a day or so ahead of Congress' get out of town mentality before the holidays and end of year recess

Iran's Nuclear Program: A Thousand Times More Dangerous than ISIS
Left unasked are key questions. Why should the Number One state sponsor of terrorism in the world be allowed to develop any nuclear capacity? Even without an atomic bomb, the radioactive waste that is produced by every nuclear power plant could easily be used to create a so-called dirty bomb. That would be an explosive device that spreads deadly radioactivity in any Western capital city. Another key question is this: Why should one of the world's leading oil producers be allowed the fiction that they need nuclear energy for peaceful purposes? Iran's record since 1979 abundantly shows the ruling mullahs have no peaceful purposes.
Israel's Ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, recently put the Mideast turmoil in perspective. "A nuclear Iran would be a thousand times more dangerous than ISIS," the envoy told guests at his suburban Maryland home.
Ambassador Dermer is right. This administration is simply not serious about stopping Iran from getting the bomb. The fact that Mr. Obama has set November 24th as his artificial deadline for progress in the nuclear arms talks is most illuminating. That is Monday before the traditional get-out-of-town fever hits Washington. Congressmen and staffers will be focused on Thanksgiving Recess, not on talks in Europe about Iran's endless and monotonous negotiations. Iranians have long since mastered the technique of talking their opponents to death
So...how long will it be until Iran arms one usable nuclear bomb?

Nuclear-armed Iran would pose a far bigger threat than Islamic State
"...the Gulf region has a well-organised, well-resourced radical Islamist regime with hegemonic ambitions that commands a formidable army, has abundant funds, equips several proxy armies and terror groups abroad, and reportedly is also ­occupying and oppressing swaths of Iraq. Most disturbingly, it has reached the advanced stages of developing a nuclear weapon and an intercontinental ballistic missile delivery system. That nation is the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the long-term threat it poses to regional stability, global energy supplies and global non-proliferation efforts remains more disconcerting than the dangers posed by the Islamic State.

Yes, I agree it would be really bad if they got it. So how close are they?

Charles Krauthammer: Obama Surrendered To Iran on Building Nuclear Bomb
Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer has claimed that 2014 will be remembered as the year that President Barack Obama surrendered to Iran by allowing the Islamic republic to build a nuclear bomb.
Yes I agree that Obama seems to be dragging his feet on decision-making in this area. But how close is Iran to actually being able to use a nuke they created?

Fact Sheet: Iran’s Nuclear and Ballistic Missile Programs, from the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
On November 24, 2013, the P5+1 and Iran agreed to the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) a historic, six-month first-step deal that verifiably freezes Iran’s nuclear program and begins to roll back its most proliferation-sensitive aspects. The purpose of the deal is to build time and trust to negotiate a more comprehensive final agreement that ensures Iran cannot develop a nuclear weapon. Key provisions of the agreement include:
--Halting all enrichment above 5%, diluting or converting the existing stockpile of 20% uranium to a form that cannot be further enriched, and restricting any further increase in the stockpile of 3.5% uranium.
--Prohibiting the installation and activation of new centrifuges, devices that enrich uranium to a higher grade.
--Suspending construction at Iran’s heavy water reactor near Arak.
--“Unprecedented transparency measures” in the form of daily IAEA inspections at Iran’s Natanz and Fordow facilities, along with regular access to centrifuge assembly, component and storage facilities.

In return for these concessions, Iran will receive limited, reversible sanctions relief in the amount of approximately $7 billion. The relief will primarily amount to a release of sanctions on oil assets, gold and precious metals and Iran’s auto sector, while leaving the much stronger sanctions on Iran’s oil and banking.
Thanks for the facts, which only make me believe that Iran is doing ALL they can do to get a bomb before November 24. So are they that close?

Netanyahu warns Obama: Iran must never be a 'threshold nuclear power'
Benjamin Netanyahu has made a public appeal to President Barack Obama, urging him to reject any agreement that would leave Iran as a “threshold nuclear power”. During a meeting with Mr Obama in the Oval Office on Wednesday, the Israeli prime minister voiced his unease over the talks designed to settle the confrontation over Iran’s nuclear ambitions by a deadline of Nov 24. Mr Netanyahu fears that a final agreement might leave Iran a few months away from being able to make enough weapons-grade uranium for one nuclear bomb.

At present, Iran has about 9,500 operational centrifuges and another 10,000 standing idle. If all these machines were used, they would be able to convert Iran’s existing stockpile of low-enriched uranium into enough weapons-grade material for one nuclear bomb in less than two months.

Oh. A few months. Allrighty then. Plus, according to the Ayatollah, it's all Israel's fault anyway.

November 24 nuke talks deadline is not that far away. We do not know what tomorrow holds. It may be filled with Ebola pandemics, a violent flash mob at the corner convenient store, a nuke against Israel sparking the Ezekiel war, (or the Psalm 83 war), collapsing megachurches ... or it may be filled with mundane work, babies born, sunshine, purring cats, fixing broken down cars, wiping noses, and cooking dinner.

God knows. We trust His plan and His will. Praise Him that His will includes protecting His sheep from the Tribulation via rapture, and that we have it to look forward to.

The Coming of the Lord

13But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 14For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord,d that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).