Sunday, March 31, 2013

He is risen!

Our precious Lord, powerful and omniscient, the Alpha and the Omega, is alive! He is not in the tomb, but continuing His incarnation, but at this time, as glorified and eternal Prophet, Priest and King!!

"Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, and despised the shame, and is set at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)

"John to the seven Churches which are in Asia, Grace be with you, and peace from him, Which is, and Which was, and Which is to come, and from the seven Spirits which are before his Throne," (Revelation 1:4).

I can't say enough about our Jesus, who conquered death and sin and hell, so I will let the bible tell us about Him. Here are just a few of the titles and honors bestowed upon Him! The Blue Letter Study Bible lists the Names, Titles, and Characters of Jesus Christ. There are over 200! They list the scriptures with them so you can see, and also click to read in context.

Here are just a very few of my favorites. Who ever gets tired of the name of Jesus? No Christian! We boast in HIM! We glory in HIM! His deeds! His works! His name!

The Son of the Highest - Luke 1:32
Our God and Savior - 2 Peter 1:1
Emanuel, God with us - Matthew 1:23
I am (before Abraham was) John 8:58
The Almighty, which is, and which was, and which is to come - Revelation 1:8
The Creator of all things - Colossians 1:16
The Upholder of all things - Hebrews 1:3
The Beginning - Colossians 1:18
The Beginning and the Ending - Revelation 1:8
The Alpha and the Omega - Revelation 1:8
The First and the Last - Revelation 1:17
The Life - 1 John 1:2
Eternal Life - 1 John 5:20
He that liveth - Revelation 1:18

All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Jesus: The permanent God-man

I am going to speak plainly, not theologically.

I was not saved by the Lord's grace until I was 43 years old. Before that, I lived in New England and lived a very liberal life. I'm grateful to my patient and loving Savior who elected me, drew me, and lifted me from the pit of sin in which I was living.

Until that time, during my adult life, I could not understand the phenomenon of Jesus. Oh, I understood it to be a phenomenon, all right. No one can dismiss Him, least of all the unsaved. He is a pervasive presence that simply does not go away. I used to actively wonder about His staying power. Buddha comes and goes as a fad, Allah wasn't even around until 600 AD and wasn't popular for a long time after that. Pele the volcano goddess waned and Ra the sun god is passe. And whatever happened to Aphrodite and Mars? But Jesus never waned and He is worshiped in every culture throughout every era.

So anyone with a brain would wonder, why Jesus?

When I thought more deeply about it, which was rare, I'd think that God wasn't all that much to talk about, either. I mean, He sent the two humans to the Garden, supposedly, and then kicked them out of the garden
for one little mistake. He messed up again by allowing things to get out of hand and had to do an etch-a-sketch erase by sending the Flood. And He messed up again by picking the Jews, who continually messed things up throughout the Old Testament, and God had to send Jesus to do a do-over. And if the Christians were to be believed (not that I actually knew any), things would deteriorate once again and God would have to wipe out the earth and start again. I thought God was an ineffective bumbler, didn't know what He was doing, and Jesus was just some spaghetti thrown on the wall to see if God's latest band-aid approach would work.

Of course I was completely wrong. The depraved mind cannot even think straight. The unsanctified mind cannot know the things of God. I was a classic example of 1 Corinthians 2:14-
The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
And of Ephesians 4:18-
They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.
One of the things I glory in knowing now, on the other side of the veil, is that Jesus wasn't a piece of spaghetti God threw against the wall to see if it would stick. It is of enormous comfort to know that God ordained His plan since the foundation of the world. (Rev 13:8). That Jesus was with God since the beginning, and that Jesus IS God (John 1:1-5).

Jesus willingly gave up His life. Let that sink in. He did it out of love, and volunteered for the cross.
It is written, "No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:18)
As John 10:15 says, "he lays down His life for the sheep. Luke 23:46 says in the KJV, where the Holy Spirit used to be called the Holy Ghost,
And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
It doesn't say "the Ghost departed from Him." It doesn't say "He died and the Ghost left Him". HE GAVE IT UP. He was in total control of His life until the moment of His death and beyond.

What a beautiful moment. He knew when scripture was fulfilled and when the moment came, He gave up His life for us, in obedience to the Father.

Now next, if that wasn't enough, think of His sacrificial death. It was monumental, even as the God-man.
The Incredulity of Thomas, by Caravaggio, 1602
But wait, there's more. After He was resurrected, He remained in His body He had taken on as a flesh-born babe. He showed Thomas the nail holes in His hand and His pierced side. (John 20:27). He ate with the disciples on the beach. (John 21:13). He walked and was visible to people. There is no reason to think He is not in His glorified body.

Philippians 3:20-21 says,
But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
It staggers the mind tho think He descended from pure, holy glory to live in the pigpen that is earth, just because He loves us. It is stupefying to know He dwelled in human form and in obedience to the Father for 33 years. Think on this: He poured Himself into the form of a man, lived and died. Wow. He is still in that form and will be forever!!

When He was resurrected, He remained in the form of a man, in flesh. Glorified flesh, but flesh! THAT is a sacrifice. To dwell for all eternity in the likeness of the Last Adam, as a permanent reminder to the Father of His obedience and bringing many sons to His glory. He is glorious not just in taking on our human nature but in remaining our brother (Hebrews 2:10-11, 17) and continuing as the visible “image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15).

Jesus was resurrected bodily and He is still in that body

He voluntarily poured Himself into flesh, lived a sinless life to fulfill the scriptures, died an agonizing death - in our place - so as to exhaust God's wrath, and was resurrected bodily forever to be in body as our brother, friend, and Lord.

My heart melts within me at this love! I faint from its strength! I bend my knee to its holiness! Praise our precious, loving Lord! Worship Him as He richly deserves!

How society is polluting the children with sin instead of correcting them

I am writing two other blog entries for today and tomorrow that are related to the season, but in between this has been on my mind. Kids.

I work with small children. I used to be a teacher and now I am a teacher's aid. I love being around kids, listening to what they say, watching what they do. I love how they learn, and best of all is being a part of opening up the world of literacy for them. Even tying their shoes and wiping their noses is satisfying because it helps them. I especially love working with them in the faith setting, teaching them about Jesus, because their faith is sure and innocent.

Though children are not sinless, they are declared innocent. In Deuteronomy 1:39 we read about little ones who have no knowledge of good or evil. There's a point in life when you don't have conscious knowledge of good or evil, you haven't reached that condition of accountability before Holy God. Isaiah 7:16 says the same. Based on those verses and others that tell me there is an age of accountability, and prior to that, a child's deeds are not held against him.

But children DO sin. Oh, yes. Make no mistake. I believe that in former times, children were more innocent and less sinful and willful early in their lives than they are now. The rampant sin that has polluted the earth has touched the hearts of children at an earlier and earlier age. When I began teaching in 1982 I never saw what I am seeing now. Let me give some examples.

There is a video going around called something like 'bed time bandit'. It is a short video of a two-year-old boy who is covetous of his sister's pillow pet. He had kept going into his sister's room to steal it at night, so the parents said to the sister, 'lock your door.' (Nothing is said of how they punished the brother for stealing it in the first place.) Even though she locked it, the sister still insisted the brother was stealing the pet. So the parents set up a video camera to watch what was happening at night. Not to be thwarted in his coveting of the item, the boy devised a plan when confronted with the locked door. The video depicts what unfolded...

The boy emerges from his room at night, gripping a pair of opened fingernail clippers. He carefully closes his bedroom door, I surmise so that the light wouldn't alert anyone. He spends a few moments carefully picking the lock of his sister's door, and when successful, goes back to his room to replace the clippers. I surmise he did this so as not to be caught with the tools of breaking and entering. Then he goes in, grabs the toy, and scuttles out, all the while silent in his footie pajamas and silently closing all the doors behind him. The video ends with his parents laughing.

I'm not laughing.

The boy devised a plan to thwart his parents' orders, and to illegally enter a place he was told not to go to get a thing that was not his. He thought about this plan for a while, so we have malice aforethought. He was studious at every step of the way, in replacing the clippers, being quiet, and closing the doors, so we have stealth.

How often does a two-year-old have the fine motor skills to pick a lock? How much mental energy was given over to decide which tools would do the job? He didn't choose a knife, or a screwdriver or a fork or a stick. He selected just the right tool because he spent time thinking about it first. How often does a two-year old have the patience to perform a minute fine-motor task, in the dark??

What happens when the kid is sixteen and he wants some beer from a locked store? Or to change his grades which are on a computer behind a locked office?

And what does that tell the sister, that she has to lock her door against her brother just to be safe in her own home? And how safe is it to have a child sleeping in a locked room...what if there is a fire?

Here is second example I thought was repugnant. It is called "Tooth Fairy fake-out." A little girl who has lost her tooth explains to her mother that she has devised a plan to 'trick the tooth fairy'. She will trick the tooth fairy because she wants to keep the tooth but she still wants the money.  She decided to roll up a piece of paper and put that under her pillow instead. She is quite happy with that plan.

Until the next day, when instead of the money she expected, she received a 'ticket' from the tooth fairy. She was furious.

Thirdly, on the playground I overheard a discussion. Several kindergartenters were fussing because one of them had been told that they could not be on stage. (There is a concrete pavilion with picnic tables they use for various purposes). The child was mad because she had been told by another child that she "was a no-talent and couldn't be on the stage with the rest." She was angry and said that she had plenty of talent. I pondered that for a while. I wondered, where do kids get the idea of talent and no talent and stages and performing and talk to each other like that?

Ohhh. Now I see- it is the effects of the Simon Cowell-like barbs and insults. Kids watch these reality talent shows like Dancing with the Stars and The Voice and American Idol and watch the adults shame each other at another's expense. Then they repeat that behavior on the playground.

I don't blame the kids. They're kids. And the  pervasive influence of instant video that captures moments like these and social media which repeats them are also helping to serve up sin on a silver platter. In 1982 when I began teaching, there were no video recorders, or internet. I'm sure that these behaviors still happened, but they weren't replicated and they certainly weren't celebrated, or rewarded!

No, kids are kids. They model their behavior after watching us and by what they are taught. Sometimes they are actively taught to sin, as in the above cases.

How so, you ask? Well, the family of the child who tried to cheat the tooth fairy was given $100,000. They were the big winners of the America's Favorite Video contest and feted with confetti and streamers and prizes and affirmation. "Cheat and lie, win money!"

Not the tooth fairy family, but you get the idea...
It isn't the kids fault, but parents. They are teaching sin, accepting it, laughing about it, and getting money for it. Kids aren't sinless but they learn how to handle sin from us. And we are failing them.

I pray for the rapture to come. I say that unashamedly. What Christian would not want to be with Jesus in person, given a choice? Away from sin and disease and in glory and perfection? But I also pray for it on behalf of the children. They are suffering so badly. Not just the ones who are actively being abused, neglected, abandoned and killed in the womb. (or outside of the womb). But I pray for the ones who are abused by sinful adults who do not teach the child the way he should go. (Proverbs 22:6). Who celebrate their sin and profit from it instead of teaching them God's statutes.

"Correct thy son, and he shall give thee rest; yea, he shall give delight unto thy soul." (Proverbs 29:17)

Won't it be a beautiful thing when children can be brought to the Lord Jesus in the Millennium, and they can learn directly from Him?!?!

Meanwhile, I say that the children are polluted with sin from birth and it is up to us to train them in righteousness, not capture it on video and celebrate it. Why pollute the children more?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Propitiation: agony, mercy, life

About 2000 years ago, my Savior was arrested and tried and executed in a most heinous and public way. Many people have written about Good Friday in more theological ways than I can. They can evoke the spiritual significance in a deeper way than I can.All I can do it share how I feel about Him, My Jesus, the Living Water.

You see, I am like a woman at the well, living her whole life as an unrepentant sinner. I even exulted in my sin, having pride that I was living a life I wanted. I lived with a man who was not my husband and believed myself coolly relevant with the times by dispensing with that old piece of paper. I was a sinner through and through and I saw nothing wrong with myself at all.

And then I met the savior. His gorgeous light immediately shamed me. I then knew how depraved I was and how much I deserved the anger of God. As the Holy Spirit grew me in sanctification, I more and more realize what a monumental and eternal thing Jesus did beginning Good Friday...or beginning three and a half years before ... or beginning thirty three and a half years before ... or beginning since the foundation of the world. (1 Peter 1:20).

We have always been sinners, since the Fall (Genesis 3). And God has always had a plan to redeem a polluted and depraved humanity to His clean breast since, well, always.

It involves Propitiation, my favorite word.
CARM defines it: "This means the turning away of wrath by an offering. It is similar to expiation but expiation does not carry the nuances involving wrath. For the Christian the propitiation was the shed blood of Jesus on the cross. It turned away the wrath of God so that he could pass "over the sins previously committed," (Rom. 3:25). It was the Father who sent the Son to be the propitiation (1 John 4:10) for all (1 John 2:2)."
  • "Propitiation properly signifies the removal of wrath by the offering of a gift," (The New Bible Dictionary).
  • "Propitiation signifies the turning away of wrath by an offering," (Baker's Dictionary of theology, p. 424).
  • The act of appeasing the wrath and conciliating the favor of an offended person, (
  • "The act of appeasing the wrath," (Webster's dictionary, 1828)."
I completely deserve God's anger, wrath, and eternal punishment, but Jesus stepped in to my place! Why? Why? How can God be that good? Why does He want us?

For His glory. The most amazing act in the universe, after Jesus taking on all God's wrath - willingly- is God redeeming a polluted humanity to His breast. I cannot get over that and I don't think I will ever come around to understanding it. Jesus as the propitiation ...what a savior we have! I love, love, love Him!

Spurgeon said of the propitiation, on Good Friday- March 29, 1861

The words, “set forth,” in the original may signify, “foreordained;” but according to eminent critics, it has also in it the idea of setting forth as well as a “foreordaining.” Barnes says, “The word properly means to place in public view; to exhibit in a conspicuous situation, as goods are exhibited or exposed for sale, or as premiums or rewards of victory were exhibited to public view in the games of the Greeks.” So has God the Father set forth, manifested, made conspicuous the Person of the Lord Jesus as the Propitiation of sin. How has He done this? He has done it first by ordaining Him in the Divine Decree as the Propitiation of sin."

"Sinner, listen, and if you have already accepted that which the Father has revealed, let your joy become full. Why? WE SHOULD LOOK TO CHRIST, AND LOOK TO CHRIST, ALONE, AS THE PROPITIATION FOR OUR SINS, AND TAKE CARE THAT OUR FAITH IS SIMPLE, AND FIXED SOLELY ON HIS PRECIOUS BLOOD."

He did it, not us! Spurgeon goes on,

"Now, my Hearers, the sins of God’s people are taken away by the blood of Christ, and not by any repentance of their own. I say that our sense of need does not take away our guilt, nor help to take it away; but the blood, the blood, the blood alone, pure and unmixed, has forever washed the people of God, and made them whiter than snow! So, poor Heart, if your soul is as hard as a nether millstone; if your conscience seems to be seared by long habits of sin; if you cannot force tears from your eyes, and scarcely can get a groan from your heart—yet you are groaning today because you cannot groan, weeping because you cannot weep, and sorrowing because you cannot sorrow—hear you, then, this Gospel message! God the Father has set Christ forth to be your Propitiation! Not your tender conscience; not your groans; not your sense of need; not your law-work; not your deep experience! He is enough without any of these—have faith in His blood and you are saved!"

Friday is here. The agony, the shame, the forsaking. The loneliest moment in the universe for all time, when Jesus said "And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”" (Matthew 27:46)

Our spotless lamb, never having been apart from the Father in fellowship and sweet unity, separated from Him during that awful period when He became sin for our sakes.

"This day is called Good Friday—may it be a good Friday to some of you! Perhaps I have some here to whom I have preached these last seven years, and yet you have remained unsaved. I am clear of your blood if you had only heard but this one morning sermon, for God witnesses I know not how to put the plan of salvation more clearly than I have done! “God has set forth Christ to be a propitiation through His blood.” I bid you look to Christ bleeding, to Christ sweating drops of blood, Christ scourged, Christ nailed to the Cross, and if you believe in Christ’s blood, He is the Propitiation of your sins. But I can do no more than this; it is mine to preach, it is mine to pray, and mine to plead. Oh may God the Holy Spirit give you Grace to receive, to accept, to yield to this blessed proclamation of free mercy!" ~Charles Spurgeon

What a glorious Savior we have! He reigns forever!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Jesus miniseries in the works

From Hollywood reporter.
"We believe the audience continues to have a hunger for life- and faith-affirming films,” says Michael Landon Jr., who is writing and producing the new version of Jesus of Nazareth with Brian Bird for Brad Krevoy’s MPCA. “The monumental success of Mark Burnett and Roma Downey’s The Bible just underscores that."

Ah. So it's a spinoff. Like The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo spun off from B. J. and the Bear. Next we'll see "Three's Company in the Fiery Furnace!" Or "This Old Wall at Jericho with Bob Vila". Or maybe some reality shows like "The Great Galilean Fishing Boat Race" or "Pick Up Your Mat and Walk!" Can you just imagine the green room pitches?

Says Bird: “We’re not looking to cause controversy to anybody. What we hope to do will be orthodox and faithful to the gospel and pleasing to whoever sees it. The idea of helping skeptics see Christ in a different way than they’ve ever seen him before, that’s not going to upset the choir.”

Why does Jesus have to be "different"? Wasn't the 'old' Jesus good enough?

I think it is God they need to worry about ticking off, not the choir.

“Every generation should have the chance to experience this story,” says Krevoy. “It’s perfect for today with all the things happening in the world. It’s great entertainment and educational.”

Jesus as entertainment. Lord, preserve us. I know that TV people can't imagine any other activity except TV, but every generation can do something to experience the bible, and every generation already has. It's called r.e.a.d.

Landon says their version “will be traditional in the sense we’re going to stay true to the gospel, but it won’t be traditional in the sense that our version is actually going to be made for the skeptic, not the believer.”

Um. OK. We'll see.Perhaps they didn't read 2 Peter 3:3. Or Hebrews 6:6.

News and prophecy

I read Pastor Jim McClarty's blog today. He is a pastor I'd recommended back along who has started a blog. He is a good pastor, preaching through the bible verse by verse with precision and verve. Currently they are going through Hebrews, a series I am going to enjoy while at home next week on Spring Break. He is pastor at Grace Christian Assembly in TN.

Here is Pastor Jim's blog

And ...drum roll is Pastor Jim's review of the History Channel's The Bible. He reviewed Week 1-3 and I'll include just a few excerpts.
The critic of the Bible has all the more reason to discount it since the God of this series is cruel and haphazard. And the biblically ignorant folk who watch this will come away with a completely false concept of God, His word, and His interactions with the children of Israel.

Abraham’s act of utter faith was reduced to him arguing with God that he felt he’d been tested enough. What a repugnant program this is.

And you know the producers and pitch men (Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, T.D. Jakes, et. al.) are going to claim that this is a great evangelistic tool. They’ll encourage their listeners to buy the DVD and share it with their friends and family. Apparently, Peter’s description of false prophets didn’t sink in — “And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you.” (2Peter 2:3)

Then again, one accomplishment the producers did achieve was that they managed to take some of the most exciting, compelling stories in human history and make them mind-numbingly boring.

It’s obvious that the writers and producers are systematically eliminating or explaining-away all the accurate prophecy in the Old Testament. The TV version of the prophets merely heard from God, but there’s no hint of accurately foretelling future events.

In His dealings with Peter, the show gave us no sense of Jesus’ divine ability to effectively call people to Himself. And, of course, there was the horrid insertion of words into Jesus’ mouth that He simply never said, like, “Change the world.”

This series is as damaging as anything Rome, the Mormons, or Islam have done in their denial of the historicity, perspicuity, and trustworthiness of the text of the Bible. And the sub-biblical church in America is all excited about it.
OK, here is some news about locusts in Israel:
"But this year is the first time since 2005 that modern-day Israel has had to combat locusts, which can swarm so thickly that drivers can’t see beyond their windshield. But it’s not just Israel. Today the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Agriculture sprayed pesticides in Hebron, in the southern West Bank. And Egyptian farmers have suffered millions of dollars in damage after a swarm of about 30 million locusts hit Cairo earlier this month."

And El Hierro is active. After rumbling and spurtling last year, the canary Island volcano is speaking up again. Remember, the Canary Islands volcano is next to the other Canary Island volcano called La Palma, the one that has a massive section of land atop it hanging by a thread, that scientists have said if it ever comes loose would cause a tsunami that'd swamp NYC. Anyway, quakes around El Hierro and nearby sea have been increasing, 229 on Monday, 175 on Wednesday, and 47 in the last few hours. Maybe El Hierro is speaking up to call Hekla.

Hekla is an Icelandic volcano. Yahoo asks, "Is another Icelandic volcano getting ready to erupt?" The Icelandic volcano, Hekla, is causing a bit of worry lately, and News of Iceland is reporting that, as of Tuesday, authorities there have declared a 'Civil Protection State of Uncertainty'. Hekla is a nearly 1,500 m-tall 'stratovolcano' in southern Iceland, that has apparently been called the 'Gateway to Hell' by Europeans since the Middle Ages. ... While 'micro-earthquakes' like these aren't anything unusual, as millions of them are felt around the world every year, Martin Hensch, an earthquake expert with the Icelandic Met Office told News of Iceland that this "is quite unusual activity in the volcano".

Perhaps El Hierro in the Canary Islands and Hekla in Iceland are calling Pacaya in Central America. "Hey! Come to the lava party!"

Warn of possible eruption of Pacaya (Google translated)
"Guatemala- In the last hours is a change in the activity cycle of the Pacaya volcano, with increased shallow earthquakes, ash emission and lava flows that did not show up for two years and a half, so that experts warn an eruption at any time."

The North Koreans cut the last hotline with South Korea amid increasing blowhard rhetoric that is uncomfortably close to possibly not being hyperbole. So we deployed bombers. The North Koreans have definitely ratcheted up the danger.

Russia's Putin suddenly decided to conduct surprise military exercises at the Black Sea. It involves 36 ships and up to 7,000 troops. Apparently, Putin does not have to give warning of exercises if they contain fewer than 7,000 troops. (Ezekiel 38-39, Russian people and those north of the Black Sea).

Cyprus's banks are crashing. Emerging economies plan World Bank rival.

An Oklahoma doctor may have infected thousands with HIV. A deadly virus is missing from a TX biolab, FBI is investigating. (Rev 6:8;  Luke 21:11).

There is just a bewildering array of news. It seems that the time is so short.

Precious Lord, take my hand, I am tired. I am weak. I am worn. And He does come! In times of trouble gives a very present help! "The LORD is my strength and my shield; in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him." (Psalm 28:7)

Police restrain crowd from taking food after supermarket eviction

Apparently, a couple who owned a grocery store went way behind on their payments. The bank closed the store and evicted the owners. All the merchandise they'd had in the store was put outside to go to the landfill.

The owners say they offered the food to a church, but members didn't show up to claim it. That's when word that store products were abandoned spread through the community. When people who got wind of the goods stacked up on the ground outside the store, they hurried down to see if they could scavenge some. Instead of being able to get some food, the police were called to evict the growing and restless crowd who were told the food had to go to the landfill because it wasn't theirs to take. The crowd got more restive and the police had to restrain them.

They asked, "People have children out here that are hungry, thirsty, could be anything. Why throw it away when you could be issuing it out?"

About 300 people came to take merchandise home, but they were held back by law enforcement. "These are brand new items; we saw the potential for a riot was extremely high," said Sheriff Richard Roundtree. more here

So where did this crowd of hungry people show up to scavenge food? Where were police dispatched to hold back a potentially riotous crowd? Greece? Slovenia? Cyprus?


Augusta, Georgia, USA.

My heart breaks for folks who are hungry. We see it all over, not just GA, though I live in GA. An increasing amount of kids are qualifying for free lunch and breakfast. More people are relying on either the emergency room at hospitals or the school nurse for their non-emergency medical care. More people are using the county or church food banks. It's a sad thing to see a hungry person, and in formerly the wealthiest nation in the world. Still are pretty wealthy, compared to many other nations. But that cliff is coming up quick and we are on a fast slide down.

The Tribulation will be much, much worse. When the Third Seal is opened according to Revelation 6:5-6 it shows us that food will be scarce. The Fourth Seal will bring famine. At that time a fourth of the earth will die.

The police that were called today were sympathetic, mild, and peaceful. The scene was tense, but remained controllable.

It will not be controllable after the rapture, when hunger, famine, violence, starvation sets in and desperate people behave in unrestrained manner. (2 Thessalonians 2:6).

In the bible, there are scenes of cannibalism. (Leviticus 26:29; Deuteronomy 28:53-57; Jeremiah 19:9; Lamentations 2:20; 4:10; Ezekiel 5:10). "Moses and other prophets predicted that, if the Israelites forsook God, they would fall into such awful degradation as to cannibalize their own children. These harrowing prophecies were fulfilled during the siege of Samaria during the reign of King Jehoram. Cannibalism was the physical horror which accompanied the spiritual horror of apostasy."

I do believe America has gotten on God's last nerve. No, the church is not Israel and the USA is not Israel. No we are not in Old Testament times. However, God does not change. Do we believe that we can apostatize and not be punished for it? That such things won't happen to America, just because we are America? Of course not. God shows no partiality. (Romans 2:11).

The Tribulation, AKA The Time of Jacob's Trouble, (Jeremiah 30:7) is a 7-year period when God will allow sin to come its full measure. (Dan 9:24). The Holy Spirit will have stopped His restraining ministry and sin will bloom like putrid oil bubbling to the surface of every person (except those who come to salvation after the rapture). People standing in a parking lot today, pleading for food but obeying the officers, will, in the Tribulation, simply use their guns to shoot anyone in their way.

Like also in GA this week, two teenaged boys attempted to rob a woman, and when she said she didn't have any money, they shot her baby in his stroller, in the face. And this is before the Tribulation.

The only reason you won't go to heaven in a glorified body at the trumpet call and miss all that terrible times, is because you have not repented and believed on the resurrected Jesus as Lord. That's it.

"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality." (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)

"We" means believers. To become a believer,

"If you declare with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved."(Romans 10:9).

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).

You cannot get to the Father God because we are sinners, (meaning, we think, say and do wrong things that are against God's holy standard). So God sent His Son Jesus to earth as a man in a real body to teach us, and then He was put on the cross as the sacrifice for our sins, the payment for which God poured out His eternal wrath. Thus, Jesus took our sin upon Himself (2 Corinthians 5:21). Instead of us dying, we will put on incorruptible and live forever in His house. This is all due to Jesus dying in our place (Romans 5:8). Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead, proving His victory over sin and death (Romans 6:4-5) and that he is the Son of God, forever to live and reign. Why did He do all that? He loves us, that's why. Jesus loves you. Yes, you.

Refusal to believe on Him and repent of our sins, thus being cleansed of them through the sacrifice of Jesus, will put you squarely under God's wrath, which He will pour out on all flesh in the Tribulation and then forevermore on the unbelievers in hell. (Rev 6:15-17; Rev 19:1-3).

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him." (John 3:36).

Your belief or unbelief in Jesus is all the difference between eternal joy in perfected glory with Him, and eternal wrath that begins at the Tribulation which will be hell on earth. Yes, you can be saved after the rapture, but there is no guarantee that you will even live until that day. There is no guarantee that you will live thorough the Rapture event. There is a minimal chance you will live through the Tribulation, given that most of the world's population will be killed. Now is the time of your salvation.

I hope you're hungry now, hungry for Jesus. He will save you from all that. Believe on Him!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

What is the 'still, small voice'?

This was an answer to a question posed to me on a comment stream. I am expanding it to a blog entry.

The Still Small Voice is not a voice of God nor is it a personal experience, intuition, or a word from the Lord (or word of knowledge). Revelation has ceased, the canon of the bible is closed. In these last days He spoke to us by His son. (Hebrews 1:2).

People who believe they have heard or seek after a voice, through prayer, or a labyrinth or contemplative practices or whatever are actually rebelling against the authority of God's word. People who wait on a whisper from God are actually elevating themselves to a position equal to the throne.

Do you not think that God can orchestrate events He desires to come to fruition whether we 'hear' His voice or not?

What if you're doing voice-listening and it said "Kill your children"? What then? Or "Leave your wife"? Or worse, "Is the bible really true? Hath God said?" We cannot trust the voice, the whisper, the process of osmosis whereupon God plops truth to your brain via voices. discusses the still, small voice-
The point of God speaking in the still small voice was to show Elijah that the work of God need not always be accompanied by dramatic revelation or manifestations. Divine silence does not necessarily mean divine inactivity. Zechariah 4:6 tells us that God’s work is “not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,” meaning that overt displays of power are not necessary for God to work.”

The still, small voice misuse has thus been ripped from its context as a demonstration of a narrow point to Elijah about Israel, to apply to all New Testament believers as expecting personal words from God. Not so.

That said, one of the Holy Spirit’s ministries is to reveal scripture to us. He brings these things to mind. (John 14:26). He develops fruit in us for the name of Jesus. (Galatians 5:22-23).

And this:

And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.” (1 Corinthians 2:13)

He is our teacher. Does He teach us scriptural truths via an audible or an inner voice? No. But He does clarify scripture for us. Here we have MacArthur explaining the difference between a voice from God about scripture and the Holy Spirit clarifying scripture:

"The line between clarifying Scripture and adding to it is indeed a thin one. But Scripture is not clarified by listening to someone who thinks he has the gift of prophecy. Scripture is clarified as it is carefully and diligently studied. There are no shortcuts to interpreting God's word accurately (cf. Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 2:15)."

That was from a 4-part article series called "Does God give personal direction through a still, small voice?"

Does God clarify scripture by delivering a whisper to your brain, or by reading His word, where He said he revealed Himself? The 'voice' is the Word, given to us via scripture (John 1:1-5). Look at this comment about when John received his vision in Revelation,

"And John hears this voice and it sounds like the smashing surf in the midst of a storm. And it indicates to us that the Lord is not only interceding in His church, He's not only purifying His church, but He's commanding His church. He moves in His church with authority and He brings to bear commands in His church. He's not making quiet suggestions. He's not any longer speaking in a still, small voice. He is speaking commandingly in His church. And the commands that He speaks come through His Word, which is Scripture. He is bringing His people under the authority of His word." (Christ's role in the church today)

Any word we hear that is outside His word is outside His authority.

Scripture teaches us, as 2 Timothy 3:16-17 states,
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”

The WORD trains us in righteousness and equips us, not a small voice. For training and equipping, one has to study.

As for me personally, the practicalities of the situation are that I approach the bible in various ways. Sometimes I just read it, like a book. I might read a chapter with nothing else in mind but to simply read. During sermons I have the bible open and read along with the pastor. Other times when I prepare to study deeply, I pray first. I also repent. I spend some quiet time. When I get ready to study, I have a notebook and a pen handy. I use my study bible. Then, I read it, stopping frequently (like every verse or even within a verse) to ponder. I check cross references. I might look at parallel verses to see how it is said in other translations. As you can imagine, it’s painstaking.

But when I study, and all is quiet and I’ve prepared my mind, then the Spirit brings to mind connections to other verses I have read. Or He deepens my understanding of the one I am reading now and perhaps have read before. THAT is the voice, not something audible but the Spirit working in me to knit together an understanding of a passage that I had not had before. It is called illumination and it is a work of the Spirit. it is how He transforms my mind. But I have to work at it by cracking open the bible myself, first.

As for this "still, small voice" it is from 1 Kings 19:12. Barnes Notes explains, "A still small voice - literally, "a sound of soft stillness." The teaching is a condemnation of that "zeal" which Elijah had gloried in, a zeal exhibiting itself in fierce and terrible vengeances, and an exaltation and recommendation of that mild and gentle temper, which "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." (Barnes Notes)

Obviously, the verse from 1 Kings is not about dwelling quietly and tuning out the world's noise. It is not akin to another verse that is ripped out of context, "Be still, and know that I am God," (Psalm 46:10) which doesn't mean 'be still to hear from God'. It is not listening for a voice in the quiet to speak personal direction to you.

Then how does God guide us? Well, in the ways above via the Spirit, and through Providence.

He works all things together for the good.

"Also we know that all things work together for the best unto them that love God, even to them that are called of his purpose." (Romans 8:28).

What you do is submit to God, turning your life over to Him. You diligently study His statutes and learn what He expects. And you go forth and live your life. I'll give two examples.

First, I have read in the past of a missionary who was converted and after a while of training and study, decided that he had felt God's call upon his life to be a missionary. The man was convinced he was to minister to the French. He had a history in Paris, he knew French, he had a love for the French.

So he trained up in missionary school or whatever, and the time came when he was waiting for his orders. He didn't get Paris. No France. No Europe. Initially the man was crestfallen, thinking that this whole time he had missed what he felt God was putting into him. But when his orders did come, it all made sense. He was to be a missionary in French Canadian Quebec. The man had it right, but just the details wrong.

In another example that is not even so dramatic and more properly applies to us regular folk living a non-radical life, John MacArthur was answering a question in one of his Bible Q&A sessions about the voice of God and how to know what to do in life. He said that he just lives his life, not waiting for voices or bells or dramatic circumstances to direct him. He gave the example of when presented with a list of speaking engagements he is invited to. There are always more engagements than he can attend. So he simply goes down the list in matter-of-fact form, checking off the ones he can do or not do. He looks at what is doable and God exalting and goes from there.

Later, he said, he sees the magnificent Hand of God's Providence in his life. At a conference he met a man, and that man was just the man he needed to collaborate on a book. Or the speech led to another event which cemented a certain thing. Later he can see how all things were working to the good, but often we cannot see it at the time. But later, we can.

Actually, waiting for a still, small voice means we may miss the Providence of God in our lives. Or we become dependent on the voice and when we do not hear it we wait and do nothing.

Providence is how it worked with me. I was saved in Maine, but my career in journalism was concluded, having sold the newspaper I'd started. I wondered what to do next. I was tired of the harsh winters and longed for a gentler climate. I had done a lot of traveling in the decade previously and I liked Florida. But when it came time to move, FL was too expensive for me. So I chose Georgia. The cost of living was lower, the climate was better, and I could make the fresh start I'd wanted.

Later I realized that the hills and pastures in this rural area were just the wonderful balm I had needed for my quaking soul, but had not known it. That the Godly people here were also the strength this new Christian required if I was to thrive. That the Lord would bring me around to working in the educational system again, with children, the lack of which in my life was slowly draining it of professional joy (I see now, but not then). He knew all that and more. His providence worked to the good in my life and to those around me whom I fellowship with. He nestled me into a berth that is perfect.

Could He have done that if I'd moved to Tuscon, or Houston? Sure. But he worked it out providentially here in GA and I am so grateful. I trust Him to work in me. Trust. I pick up my cross every day, and follow Him. Picking up the cross involves trust to be led whether I hear a voice or not.

How do we know that 'voice' we think we hear isn't our flesh? An unconfessed desire? Or satan's voice? I often hear a voice inside my head. It says "Eat cake!" but I don't follow it. (OK, I do). If it says "Eat broccoli" I tend to trust it more. LOL.

The point is, did I pray contemplatively and walk a labyrinth and do centering prayer and wait for a whisper? No. I just live my life in submission to Him and amid the practicalities of my every day life.

So that's the still, small voice. Now go eat some broccoli.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Guardian: "History Channel's The Bible series is worse than reality TV"

The British newspaper The Guardian has a US edition. Here is one reviewer's assessment:

"The scriptures according to basic cable make a mockery of history and religion. Surely all these viewers deserve better"

Couldn't have said it better myself! Some good quotes from the review:

"The History Channel more or less abandoned the pretext of history years ago. As programs like "UFO Hunters", "Swamp People" and "Hairy Bikers" added up, the network's decision to broadcast The Bible as a mini-series seemed like an obvious disaster. It is, too, in all ways except one: ratings."

I never thought I'd see the following in one sentence together: "UFO Hunters", "Swamp People", "Hairy Bikers", "The Bible". It's like a bad 'which one of these doesn't belong?'

"Bubonic plague.....Dismemberment.....Infanticide.....Puppies"
Uh, plague?

To continue- "The sum is bland, erratic, and would be incoherent if it weren't somewhat familiar material. The Wire this is not."

"Nobody expected art – or even history – from the History Channel, but the producers veered so far in the opposite direction that they erased all the personality and depth of the source, not to mention heart or wit. The History Channel has given us the Bible as reality TV. The result amounts to little more than an exploitation of faith."

What have I been saying?!?! --

"and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; (make merchandise of you KJV) their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." (2 Peter 2:3)

Why are mature men of the faith suddenly seeming to go off the narrow road of orthodoxy and saying or doing wacky things?

I've been watching the Christian field with perplexity and dismay lately. It seems that the organizations an individuals we rely on suddenly take a left turn and drive pell mell off the road. They had been doctrinally steady for years and decades, and then suddenly they are doing strange practices or recommending heretics.

It makes me scratch my head, for sure. Why do mature leaders of our faith suddenly go wacky in the doctrine department? How does this happen? That is what this blog entry will seek to discover.

It stands to reason that babes in Christ lack some discernment because discernment is a skill. It comes with testing, with age, with study, with prayer, and by the Holy Spirit. It is why there are pastors and elders who are given instruction on how to behave with and teach the younger ones. Not that younger Christians can't have discernment, but it is a skill that is refined with practice.

However the perplexity comes when the mature ones who should know better suddenly start displaying a lack of discernment. Let me offer a few recent examples:

--Focus on the Family has been a strongly mature and reliable biblical resource for families 35 years, but there are some with influence at the organization who have fallen hook, line, and sinker for Roma Downey and her Bible miniseries crowd. They have endorsed, even backed the series, and hosted a function to match up Downey and Burnett with gaming folks to create The Bible miniseries computer game, a game like "Where's Waldo".

--Answers in Genesis is an organization founded 35 years ago by Ken Ham. It is dedicated to bible apologetics with a particular focus on supporting young Earth creationism and a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis. They have been strongly biblical for decades. Yet at least one reviewer on staff deemed the bible miniseries fairly acceptable, mostly because it played to their bias and presented Noah and the flood as historical. They stated,
"Nevertheless, even as a stand-alone production, The Bible will likely lead many to Christ. Why? Because it presents the Bible’s history as real history—instead of eroding trust in God’s Word from the very first verse..."
I believe the series has shown itself undeniably to have eroded the word of God. As a matter of fact, it has eroded it so much that AIG says the following in the same review, prior to the above statement:
"It unfortunately lacks a clear presentation of the gospel message like that included at the end of the 1979 Jesus Film AIG also notes because the mini­series has about 4,100 years of history to cover in just 10 hours, many of the events are compressed and shuffled, resulting in “a few things out of order and even a few outright discrepancies with biblical history.”
“Obviously, if you or your children are troubled by the presence of some factual errors, then you should consider not watching the film,” AIG notes.
We don't come to faith because we believe the bible is historical fact. We don't say, 'hey it was pretty good, despite being unclear on that whole Gospel thing'. We don't say, "gee, despite getting some things flat out wrong, the bible miniseries was acceptable!" We don't say, "If you're overly sensitive to our inerrant bible having error polluted by pagans with an antichrist agenda, maybe it's not a good idea to watch it, but for the rest of us who don't mind our blood-bought word presented corruptedly, it'll be a comfy evening with the telly!" Except...they did say it.

--John Piper has been a pastor for 30 years and has authored 50 books. He is well regarded as a pastor, having just retired this month. Yet of late has participated in a Lectio Divina, a Catholic mystical practice involving prayer, endorsed it and offered resources on his website on how to perform it, and hobnobs with heretics, all at this late date in his career. (He retired this week).

If you don't know what Lectio Divina is or contemplative prayer (or centering prayer) know that it is a method of prayer that does not treat Scripture as texts to be studied but a is mystical exercise of substituting for study an intuitive experience of having emptied the mind to receive a special revelation from God directly. The following bloggers have explained why Contemplative prayer and lectio divina are bad.

Sola Sisters: Piper encouraging Lectio Divina
Do Not Be Surprised: Biblical silence vs. mystical silence.
Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: Centering prayer
Wretched Radio explains contemplative prayer and discusses Piper's promotion of Lectio Divina at the Passion 2012 conference.

--Ravi Zacharias is a Canadian-American evangelical Christian apologist. Zacharias is the author of numerous Christian books, including Gold Medallion Book Award winner Can Man Live Without God? and bestsellers Light in the Shadow of Jihad and The Grand Weaver. He is the founder and chairman of the board of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries and host of the radio program Let My People Think. He is a high-end intellectual, brilliant and wise, gentle and profound. He has stood on the bible and its doctrines as the only truth for decades.

That is why I was stunned when he appeared on heretic Joyce Meyer's show and worse, said she was "a great bible teacher" and that "God was using her". I can understand if he wanted to appear on her program to reach her lost followers, John MacArthur was asked to speak at the Mormon temple and they still invited him after he stated he was going to present the Gospel and say what he had planned to say. But this wasn't that. It was Ravi endorsing Meyer as a bible teacher and announcing that God was using her. I went totally off my rocker when I saw that.

Youtube link here

If it is news to you that Joyce Meyer is a heretic, go to CARM to read why. Also in Justin Peters' updated bible teaching titled A Call For Discernment, he uses Meyer's material to show why and where it is false.

We are all scratching our heads, saying WHAAAAT is going on? It is a fact that these strange and unsettling things are happening. My question is, why?

The number one issue related to the church, pastors answer when asked, is that its people lack discernment. As John MacArthur says
"Today's church is like the religious leaders of Jesus' day, who could tell the difference between superficial things like pleasant and stormy weather, but not between truth and error (Matt. 16:1-3). So many churches have relinquished biblical ethics and doctrine, a deep reverence and worship of God, repentance over sin, humility toward God and fellow believers, and a profound understanding of God's character and work. All that has resulted in a low-level commitment to holy living."
However, the men I've quoted are individuals or are with credible organizations. It does not seem to me that Ravi Zacharias has made a low-level commitment to holy living. Nor John Piper. So what's the deal?

Tim Challies wrote a book on discernment. He says that lack of discernment leads to backsliding. That is a good thought. Personally, I think that backsliding, or unaddressed sin, also leads to a lack of discernment. I do know that the bible says we cannot be mature without discernment, but the perplexing lack of discernment we are seeing is from many mature, elder pastors and men of the faith who have demonstrated steadily mature discernment for decades. Could it be they have had a failure to repent of some unaddressed sin which is causing dullness of hearing? Perhaps. Hebrews 5:11-14 says--
Warning Against Apostasy--  About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
The writer of Hebrews here is talking of a regression. They should be more advanced than they were but the writer despaired of even going forward with what he originally wanted to say because they had become 'dull of hearing' and it would be pointless. What causes dullness of hearing? I think anyone can make a mistake, and anyone can have an unaddressed sin in their life. But if one does not repent of it, compounds the tendency to regress back to milk, and the refusal/inability to hear leads to more drifting. This is a deadly trajectory. Again we go to Hebrews, this time chapter 2.
"Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his will." (Hebrews 2:1-4)

At The Expository Files we read, "The first reason for this exhortation is that there is a real danger of "drifting." It is actually possible for us to "drift away" from our salvation. In 2:3 we learn that we can "neglect" our salvation. Later in 3:12-14 we are told that we can "depart" from God. In 6:4-6 we are told that we can so "fall away" that it becomes impossible to renew us again to repentance. And then in 10:26:27 we are told that we can reach a point where the sacrifice of Christ is no longer available for our sins. So the danger of "drifting" is very real!

(Go here to see how the Hebrews verse is NOT talking about a solid Christian losing their salvation)

The verse does not say we plunge. It doesn't say we plummet out of faith. It seems to happen slowly. We drift. It happens when we neglect, and we fail to pay attention.

In the novel "Watership Down" a fictional story of rabbits searching for a new field to create a warren in, they would entertain each other with tales and myths. They had sayings. One of them was about the weather, and the onset of bad news, "One cloud feels lonely." Let's change that to my own motto, "One sin feels lonely".

If there is a sin, and it's not addressed, it hardens us a little bit. It makes us a little bit sluggish in the spiritual department. We get wax in our ears. Jeremiah 7:11 says "But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear." You refuse to pay attention, and your ears get dull. More sins come. Just look at what happened in the Garden, and pretty quickly, too. Genesis 3. They disobeyed, they blamed, they hid. By the next generation, there was murder. It doesn't take long for sin to pile on!

Matthew 13:15 also speaks of the hard hear and dull ears. In all three cases, (Hebrews, Jeremiah, Matthew) it was the person's refusal to hear. They did it deliberately either through neglect or through rebellion.

This drifting, this regressing, is a process. It's spoken of in 2 Timothy 3:13 "while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." Once the trajectory is begun, they go from bad to worse.

It is really important for a mature person who deviates from the solid food of doctrine, if not caught early, will fall away and it will be impossible to restore them to repentance. Hebrews goes on in chapter 6 thus:
"For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. (Hebrews 6:4-6)
So you see the danger. When we see mature elders suddenly veer off, it is either they were false all along and their true colors are coming out (something I hesitate to believe in the above cases) or they have some unrepented-of sin, have become dull, neglected some aspect of their faith walk, and are sliding and drifting away. In the latter case, perhaps when we see a perplexing behavior or doctrine come out of them that makes us scratch our heads, that is the first signal. The check engine light just came on, and it better get checked, because one sin feels lonely.

It always strikes us at the heart when a person is uncovered who suddenly seems to be lacking in the discernment department, and disheartening too. However, we have the privilege of praying for them and others that we may know who seem to suddenly be coming up with unorthodox behavior or doctrines. We can ask for discernment (wisdom). The glory is that Jesus promised to deliver it to us if we ask. (James 1:5).

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Student suspended for NOT stomping on Jesus

Florida Atlantic Univ. student claims he was suspended for not stomping on Jesus
A student at Florida Atlantic University has charged that his professor in intercultural communications class told the whole class to write the name JESUS in bold letters on a piece of paper, then drop the papers and stomp all over them. The alleged incident happened three weeks ago on the Davie, Florida campus of FAU, according to WPEC-TV. (Scroll down for the video.) Junior Ryan Rotela, a devout Mormon, is the student making the charge. “Anytime you stomp on something it shows that you believe that something has no value,” he told the South Florida CBS affiliate. “So if you were to stomp on the word Jesus, it says that the word has no value.” Some students stomped; others, including Rotela, didn’t. He said he told the instructor, Deandre Poole, that the assignment offended his religious convictions. Two days later, the junior alleges, he went to an FAU school official to express his unease with the assignment. The result? Rotela has been suspended from the class. An FAU official defended the decision, telling WPEC that the Jesus-stomping was part of a classroom exercise from a textbook: “Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach, 5th Edition.”

When's the Allah-stomping class? Hmmm?

Later, the College apologized. They are not going to use this exercise anymore. The exercise really is from the textbook. The manual reads:

“This exercise is a bit sensitive, but really drives home the point that even though symbols are arbitrary, they take on very strong and emotional meanings. Have the students write the name JESUS in big letters on a piece of paper. Ask the students to stand up and put the paper on the floor in front of them with the name facing up. Ask the students to think about it for a moment. After a brief period of silence, instruct them to step on the paper. Most will hesitate. Ask why they can’t step on the paper. Discuss the importance of symbols in culture.”

There's just one thing, though. Jesus is not a symbol. He is GOD. he is real, walked the earth as a man, and rose again to reign over our lives from His throne in heaven. He isn't a symbol like a stop sign is a symbol. he is not a symbol like an alphabet letter is a symbol. Calling this "a bit sensitive" understates things. And would the textbook 'dare' to use Allah's name instead? Of course not.

Luke 21:17 says, "and you will be hated by all because of My name." The name of Jesus evokes anger, disdain, and hatred.

"They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me." (John 15:21)

The latest Christian fad- Is wearing a sideways (horizontal) cross good, or bad?

Kelly Ripa has one. Taylor Jacobson, Rachel Zoe’s assistant has one. Jessica Biel wears it too. Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Jennifer Lopez, Kourtney Kardashian, Jillian Michaels...all sport one. (And if you know who those people are, more power to you.) It has been described as "wildly popular", "the hottest trend," "totally cute", and the "in fashion." What is it? The sideways cross necklace.

Any time there is innovation related to anything in Christianity, we perk up. Our first question should be "What does it mean?" Why do we ask this first? We must be reverent--

"Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe," (Hebrews 12:28)

"And from the throne came a voice saying, “Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great." (Revelation 19:5).

Fads are nothing new. They affect Christianity just as they affect the world. Most often, fads are related to doctrine, movements, or worldwide phenomena in the ecclesiology department, affecting preaching. As Phil Johnson says of fads,

"In the past two decades we have seen a relentless parade of phony miraculous phenomena, and literally millions of Christians have jumped on this bandwagon, running from one charismatic fad to another, desperately trying to get in on the latest display of divine power."

But there are Christian merchandising fads, too. Love Dare diaries from Fireproof, Courageous Decree, WWJD bracelets, prayer blankets... fads, fads, fads. As Phil Johnson asked in 2005 of the merchandising fads, "Shall we sell our birthright for a mess of faddage?"
"So why has the recent culture of American evangelicalism—a movement supposedly based on a commitment to timeless truths—been so susceptible to fads? Why are evangelical churches so keen to jump on every bandwagon? Why do our people so eagerly rush to buy the latest book, CD, or cheap bit of knockoff merchandise concocted by the marketing geniuses who have taken over the Christian publishing industry?"
Some of the beginner-level fads have seemed harmless enough—evangelical kitsch like Kinkade paintings, Precious Moments® collectibles, singing songbooks, moralizing vegetables, bumper stickers, Naugahyde® Bible covers, and whatnot. Such fads themselves, taken individually, may not seem worth complaining about at all. But collectively, they have created an appetite for "the ugly and the superficial." They have spawned more and more fads. Somewhere along the line, evangelicals got the notion that all the fads were good, because the relentless parade of bandwagons gave the illusion that evangelicals were gaining significant influence and visibility. No bandwagon was too weird to get in the parade. And the bigger, the better.
Johnson goes on to say that somewhere along the line bandwagons become Trojan horses. I recommend Pastor Johnson's essay in its entirety. He sure can write. (His retirement from blogging left a huge hole! Wah!)

Is it bad to wear a sideways necklace? I'd written a few days ago about hair, clothes and jewelry, here: "Adorned in Christ, how should we dress for Holy Week?" In that essay I'd mentioned, " 1 Timothy 2:9 says "likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire," and went through the historical reasons for that admonition and the one in 1 Peter 3:3.

So we ask again, is it bad or wrong to wear a sideways cross necklace? is it respectable apparel?

I looked for a definitive interpretation of the horizontal cross, and though a definitive one was lacking, I found the following in most places I looked:

One interpretation holds that wearing the cross sideways means that "humanity is positioned right in the middle of heaven and hell. This makes it a neutral symbol."

This seems like an innocuous and even a pleasant notion. But, no, there is no neutrality. There is no middle road. In fact this is an insidious teaching that is contrary to what the bible teaches. Either you believe and you're saved as a son of God, or you do not believe and you are condemned already as a child of hell. (John 3:18, Matthew 23:15, Hebrews 3:19). Humanity is already in either heaven or hell.

Another interpretation holds that: "Because of this meaning, some people say that wearing a sideways cross necklace means that you are aware of your place in this existence; And that you are grounded here on earth."

Again this is contrary to what the bible teaches. Christians who believe by faith in the Gospel have a home in heaven. This earth is not our home. (Hebrews 13:14). We are not to love the world or anything in the world. (1 John 2:15). If you are a Christian wearing a sideways necklace to show you are grounded here on earth, either you have a flawed idea of what Christianity is or you have no clue about the glory that awaits.

"There are also people who believe that the sideways orientation of a necklace symbolizes Jesus Christ carrying the cross, this is one of my favorite interpretations."

But He is not still carrying the cross. He died and rose again from an upright cross, declaring that it is finished. (John 19:30). That trumps the Savior's carrying of it.

"It has also been based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The horizontal orientation of the necklace connotes that Jesus Christ has actually risen and that the cross has already been laid down to signify that humanity has been saved."

This is also a false notion. It sounds Christian-y but it is actually untrue. First, He didn't lay down the cross. And nether are we commanded to lay it down, we are to take it up (Mark 8:34).

Secondly, humanity has not been saved, only those who are in Christ are saved. For the unsaved billions, a sideways cross would be a futile symbol. What about them?

No, more to the point, if you're going to symbolize things, 'Lay down your arms" means it is being dispensed with. It is over. Done. Fighting is stopped. You accede, acquiesce, quit, surrender.
Yet Christians are called to pick up our cross, not lay it down. (Luke 9:23). We are called to arm ourselves and fight, taking up the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:13). Wearing a sideways, laying down cross seems antithetical to what we are called to do in scripture.

And how many times are we called to stand? We are not standing in our own strength, either, but stand in Jesus. (Romans 14:4). His cross is still standing! Why would we ever signal that we are laying down our Christianity?

If you are not all that into symbolical interpretations of these things, and just want to wear a horizontal cross without all the hoo-haa, then before wearing sideways cross jewelry, ask yourself these questions:

Does it make you, the wearer, consumed with how the jewelry makes you look? (1 Peter 3:3).

It's trendy, but should we join hands with the world and monkey with the 2000 year old symbol of our faith just to be "in"?

Would you be offended if your church laid the cross at the church altar on its side?

Is it a silent statement against Christianity, a jewelry wearer's rebellion?

Is it making a commodity out of the Gospel by monkeying with its traditionality for the sake of fashion and money? Remember, Nadab and Abihu innovated a sacrificial service, and were killed for it. (Leviticus 10:1-2). Not that I am saying you will be killed by God if you wear a sideways cross, certainly, but is innovation proper? God gave us our faith, the holy bible, and its symbols. The most important one is the cross. God didn't have Jesus die on a guillotine, or by the sword. He died on a cross, and that was for a specific, holy, perfect reason. Do you really want to innovate that, when God set it forth in perfection in the first place?

If there is this much confusion about its meaning, can it be good?

Does it exalt Jesus? Or bring confusion to the symbol and its universally understood meaning for the past 2000 years?

Are you succumbing to a merchandising fad? "That is the culture the evangelical movement deliberately created when it accepted the notion that religion is something to be peddled and sold to consumers like a commodity. That was a major philosophical shift that created an environment where unspiritual and unscrupulous men could easily make merchandise of the gospel." ~Phil Johnson

The bible says that there will be fads and they come on the backs of greedy teachers bringing false words- "And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." (2 Peter 2:3).

Here is the most compelling reason not to wear a sideways cross!

"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up," 

John 3:14, Numbers 21:9

Israel PM brother-in-law says Obama is an anti-Semite

I happen to agree with Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu's brother-in-law. Here is news today regarding Obama in Israel-

Netanyahu's Brother-In-Law Says Obama Is An Anti-Semite, Hates Israel
"In the midst of trying to ease tensions following one of the worst diplomatic rifts between the US and Israel in recent memory, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to distance himself from his brother-in-law Wednesday after he accused US President Barack Obama of being an anti-Semite during a radio interview. "It's not that Obama doesn't like Bibi," Hagai Ben-Artzi said during the interview, according to Haaretz. "He doesn't like the nation of Israel." Ben-Artzi attributed Obama's alleged anti-Semitism to his long association with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, whose views Obama came to disavow during his presidential campaign in 2008. "When there is an anti-Semitic president in the United States, it is a test for us and we have to say: We will not concede. We are a nation dating back 4,000 years, and you in a year or two will be long forgotten. Who will remember you? But Jerusalem will dwell on forever," Ben Artzi said."

Netanyahu immediately distanced himself from his brother-in-law and rejected his opinion.

However, as with anyone, anywhere, check to see that what they say and what they do match up. Obama's behavior over the last 4 years as president toward Israel's prime minister has not been one of love or even regard, but of barely disguised disdain.

Last September, Reuters reported, In an unusual snub, Obama to avoid meeting Netanyahu

In 2010 the UK Telegraph reported, "Obama snubbed Netanyahu for dinner with Michelle and the girls, Israelis claim"
"Benjamin Netanyahu was left to stew in a White House meeting room for over an hour after President Barack Obama abruptly walked out of tense talks to have supper with his family, it emerged on Thursday."

In January 2013, an American columnist with close ties to the White House described Obama's disdain for Netanyahu.

This is not how you treat your ONLY ally in a harsh and hostile part of the world, not if you have regard and respect for its people nation to nation, that is.

Obama seems to be getting some props for "brokering" a rapprochement between Israel and Turkey. Their relations had broken down after Turkey violated (allegedly) a marine blockade by Israel and Israel shot several Turkish officers in the sea scuffle. Diplomatic relations had been called off since late 2010-early 2011, with only one phone call by Netanyahu to Turkey to offer help after Turkey's earthquake. Turkey said no thanks.

The Japan Times explains, "Israel and Turkey were once close allies. Relations began to decline after Erdogan, whose party has roots in Turkey’s Islamist movement, became prime minister in 2003. Erdogan has embarked on a campaign to make Turkey a regional powerhouse in an attempt to become the leading voice in the Muslim world but has in the process distanced the country from Israel."

However, despite those ambitions, at least for today, the two nations appeared to 'bury the hatchet' as Japan Times said. Haaretz reports, "In November 2012, Israel and Turkey resumed talks on ending the crisis in relations between the two countries. On March 22, 2013, Netanyahu made the phone call to Erdogan, apologizing over the deaths of the nine Turkish citizens in the flotilla incident. The normalization agreed by both countries included the return of the Turkish ambassador to Tel Aviv and the Israeli ambassador to Ankara."

Some say that it is good that diplomatic tensions have eased between the two nations. The region is aflame with Syria's civil war and refugees streaming into Jordan, Turkey and Lebanon. Israel could use Turkey's help with the situation and vice versa. Others say it is not a good idea, Israel looked weak to bow to Turkey after all this time and lowered morale of the soldiers. His apology created a firestorm at home. And after all, biblically, Turkey will attack Israel in the Gog-Magog war. (Ezekiel 38:6). If they form warm relations now, it won't last.

At the end of Obama's trip to Israel, he stopped to tour the ancient rose-red city of Petra in nearby Jordan. Petra means rock, and it is located in the region of Bozrah, which means sheepfold. It is the place where the Jews will flee to when they see the abomination of desolation. (Matthew 24:16). How do we know this?

Daniel 11:41 declares that Jordan is the only place that will escape the domination of the antichrist in the last days. The Jews at that time will flee over the mountains as per Matthew 24:16 and as Revelation 12:14 says, they will cross the desert. Geologically, the only mountains and desert is toward the southwest, over the Jordan river and into Edom. Isaiah 63:1 shows the Lord Jesus coming from Bozrah with blood stained robes, indicating one of His stops before He lands on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4) will be to save the Jews hiding there.

To see a person such as Obama who has such a strong antichrist spirit (1 John 4:3 and also here) standing in such a prophetically wonderful and important place for the Jews, and he who hates Israel so is a jarring juxtaposition.

As far as Netanyahu's brother-in-law goes, I am in total agreement. Obama by his behavior and by his placement here at this time in America, seems to have severe disdain for the nation of Israel. But that is no more or no less than the rest of the world, which seems to be hurtling toward fulfillment of the following prophecy:

"On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples. All who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it." (Zechariah 12:3)

Zechariah has much to say about the coming times. There is an incredible amount of last days prophecy throughout Zechariah's book, including parallels with Revelation. As Pastor Steve Hadley says, pound for pound, Zechariah has it almost over even Daniel in terms of prophecy. If you would like to listen to a preacher preach through this book, verse by verse, I'd recommend Steve Hadley at Harvest Family Fellowship, here.

Always keep your eyes on the Lord through His word. What He is doing is amazing. We look at the news in wonder but the real wonder comes when we read His valuable and precious word, and see what He has planned. Did you ever stop to think that it is amazing in itself that He even tells us what He plans to do? He is God after all. He doesn't have to. Just reading the bible is a miracle for us, because it is the place where His holiness and perfection and love is revealed. If your bible is dusty, brush it off and open it up. There are many wonders awaiting you there.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

"A Parable: History Channel Does a Reagan Documentary"

A reader of this blog who corresponds occasionally, has started his own blog. He is young, eager, and loves the Lord. He is learning. It is a pleasure to see what the Lord can do with a willing heart.

The young man sent me this essay he'd written as an email, that he turned into a blog post, that he sent to me to link to or post it in its entirety myself, if I wanted to. I want to.

The Lord is alive and well in His body, growing us, sanctifying us, comforting us, delivering wisdom and discernment to us. We are all stripes, young and old, energetically vital or world-weary and plodding, male and female, singles and marrieds, parents and childless. What unites us is the Lord, who by no merit of our own, elected us to His saving grace and brought us to His bosom. We're many facets of a single prism, and the light pouring out from it is Jesus.

Please take a moment to read his essay. And if you ever have time, go on over to his blog to offer some guidance, encouragement or just to read what comes from the Lord's work in His young people. I really liked the essay about today's praise music, called "The Wretched Podcast".

Begin contributed essay "A Parable: History Channel Does a Reagan Documentary"

Imagine that I'm a movie producer.

I really love president Ronald Reagan. I want to honor his contribution to American politics and to the world by filming a dramatic documentary featuring him. It's going to cover his personal life, his journey to the White House, the events of his presidency, and finally end with his death and funeral.

So I set about doing research so that I'll do my best job representing Reagan as who he was. First, I need to consult historical experts. I decide to ask the governments of Russia and Iran for their historical analysis of his contributions. Furthermore, I interview Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama, for their insight into the presidency. I go to other famous documentary filmmakers such as Michael Moore and Oliver Stone to see what I can learn from them. Naturally, I consult with Matt Damon, Ricky Gervais and George Clooney, whom I might consider inviting to play a key acting role in the film.

Now that I'm ready to film, I decide that the best location would be Johannesburg, South Africa. I film exclusively there. While there, one of our crew members gets shot in the butt, since South Africa has the world's highest violent crime rate--2,000 per 100,000. We interpret this as a miraculous occasion, since Reagan was also shot by someone but survived.

While filming, we present Reagan as a transgendered Japanese orphan growing up in a cardboard-and-sheet-metal "house" in the slums outside the city. He was forced to become a member of an underground boxing ring to earn money to feed his family. One day he meets the King of France, Genghis Khan, who takes him back to Brazil in his rocket ship to be his personal servant. Reagan grows and learns to maneuver through Brazilian politics, and eventually becomes a successful leader of a drug cartel. This is how he eventually gets to America. Reagan then becomes elected to the White House, and while president, invades Russia and nukes Iran. Minor details, it's called artistic license. Get over it. Eventually Reagan leaves the white house and dies by getting shot by a Tea Party maniac wielding an AR-15 while he was attending a pro-Obama rally during the 2012 election campaign.

Wait, wait, wait, you say. You've got all the details wrong. This isn't the real Reagan. Sure, he was president of the US, but all the facts are wrong. Who he is, where he came from, what he did and why he did it. Everything is changed in your movie.

But my supporters respond by saying, well, shouldn't you be happy that at least someone had the nerve to do a documentary about Reagan in the first place? Think of all the people that could become Republicans as a result!

It's like that with History Channel's The Bible. It's the Bible in name only, but all the details are wrong. Which Jesus do you follow? The one who came to "change the world," or the one who came to SAVE the world?

---------------------end essay---------------------

See? Pretty good huh?! The Lord uses all His children.

"Then I said, “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth.” But the Lord said to me,

“Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’;
for to all to whom I send you, you shall go,
and whatever I command you, you shall speak.
8 Do not be afraid of them,
for I am with you to deliver you,
declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 1:6-7).

"Don't let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity." (1 Timothy 4:12)

Prata's Place / Graceful Garlands: Gradual Growth

My title comes from Hear, my son, your father’s instruction, and forsake not your mother’s teaching, for they are a graceful garland ...