Friday, February 28, 2014

When the roll is called up yonder, will you be there?

There are two tracks. There is sin and death, and there is repentance and life. That's it.

Because we are not God and we cannot see what is in a man, and man hides his sins well, we think there is a middle ground. That middle ground man calls "sort of good." Or, "pretty good." Well, we're not pretty good. We're not good at all.

Man is totally depraved.

Total Depravity is the doctrine that fallen man is completely touched by sin and that he is completely a sinner. He is not as bad as he could be, but in all areas of his being, body, soul, spirit, mind, emotions, etc., he is touched by sin. In that sense he is totally depraved. (source)

Not all men are as bad as they can be. So do not be surprised when a Hitler comes along, because he was simply a little further along on the spectrum than many. Or a Pol Pot. Or a Jeffrey Dahmer. Or an Idi Amin. Or a Stalin. Or Vlad the Impaler. Hm, I guess there are many more men that are worse than we thought it was possible to be.

There is a reason why not all men on earth are all totally bad. The Spirit restrains men.

And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:7-8)

Wikipedia, USAF, Tech Sgt., restraining an attack dog
The Spirit is restraining the antichrist. The Spirit restrains sin. The Spirit fights sin. (Acts 7:51) The Spirit will not do this forever.

And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (Genesis 6:3)

Matthew Henry says of that verse,

"But the Lord declared that his Spirit should not thus strive with men always; he would leave them to be hardened in sin, and ripened for destruction."

That moment will be the one Paul spoke of in Thessalonians, when the Spirit will leave off His restraining ministry and sin will be unleashed. God is about to unleash the attack dog of sin.

You know sometimes it is best to let a fever run its course? It is the same plan God has for sin. It is going to be allowed to run its course, with no intervention or remedy. He will allow sin to burst forth as a rabid dog unleashed on the world. It will not be restrained. At that time men WILL be the worst they can be.

The model for this will be the antichrist. He is called The Man of Sin for a reason. I'd posted the Thessalonians verse above, speaking of the restraining ministry of the Spirit who restrains sin and particularly restrains the antichrist. Back up to verse 3, Paul calls him by a name in which the main qualifier is his sin, not only permeated through every molecule of his body as we all have, but actually active and working in every molecule of his body. Man. of. Sin.

"Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction" (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

At that time, sin will roll over the world like a tsunami. There will be no middle ground, no "pretty good" people. Man will be released to his independence, which in fact is slavery to satan. It will be abundantly clear that except for the Tribulation saints in Christ exhibiting Christ's goodness, no one is good. Which is the point. Jesus knew what was in a man

"But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people." (John 2:24)

But during the Tribulation what is in a man will be seen, evidently, clearly and clearly. No middle ground. No hidden evil, no coy sin. Only obvious Good, and total Evil.
1930 census roll, Wikipedia CC

The Good News is that if you repent of your sins, and trust Jesus you will be made a new creature. That's part two of the two tracks. There are the sinners, waxing worse and worse, and the righteousness ones, made ever more beautifully transformed into His image through sanctification and finally glorification when the resurrection of the saints occurs.The old man of sin in you will be made a slave to righteousness and the Spirit in you will transform you into an image of Christ. You will be raptured into heaven alive or raised from the dead if you die before then, given a glory body and taken to the place Jesus is preparing for us. When the roll is called from the Lamb's Book of Life, you will be there! Not one spot of sin will ever be in us again! Best of all, we will celebrate the glory of His resurrection! His propitiation! His Sinlessness and righteousness and sacrifice and love!

There's an old Christian song called "When the roll is called up yonder, I'll be there." By God's grace I'll be there! Thank you Lord, your mercy is boundless. And for the record, I can't wait.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why I am NOT going to see the "Son of God" movie

I've been thinking about this movie just released called "Son of God." By the same folks who made the miniseries for television "The Bible", this movie theater film has been edited down from the ten hours of The Bible's miniseries and re-used for the big screen.

It is a film that is in wide release, rare for a Christian film. It's been ten years since the last wide release of a Christian film, Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ". The movie is being promoted heavily by such well known false pastors as Joel Osteen and Rick Warren, and even false Mark Driscoll's Mars Hill Church Offers Free Pre-Screening of 'Son of God' Movie. So with all the Christian promotion, social media hubbub, and Hollywood attention, am I going to go see the movie?


First, I agree with Pastor Tim Challies about this particular topic. He said, "I believe this is one of those areas in which Christians need to acknowledge that some will believe the very opposite of what they themselves believe. Convictions will vary, even among Christians of the same theological stripe, which makes it an ideal time to obey Romans 14 and to refuse to pass judgment on one another."

I have read two excellent essays this week which crystallize two of my many concerns with the movie. First, Pastor and aspiring church planter Michael L. Johnson in Minneapolis quoted Exodus 20:4-6
and then said in his essay, The Movie “Son of God” and the Second Commandment that JI Packer advised what it means to adhere to the second commandment in contemporary society. He wrote,

…as soon as the images [of Jesus] are treated as representational rather than symbolic, they begin to corrupt the devotion they trigger. Since it is hard for us humans to avoid this pitfall, wisdom counsels once more that the better, safer way is to learn to do without them. Some risks aren’t worth taking” (p. 56).

Annnnd, this is why we should not put face and form to Jesus. It took exactly two days for the world to fall into the fleshly pitfall of seeing Jesus as a sexy man rather than who He is: God.

CNN’s Carol Costello thought Diogo Morgado’s bod was a bit too bodacious for Jesus Christ in the new film “Son of God.” On Thursday, she grilled Catholic priest Rev. James Martin about the historical accuracy of the savior’s pulchritude.“’Son of God’ is generating a lot of heat because Jesus is, um, so sexy!” Costello exclaimed. “He looks like Brad Pitt… The question for me became must Jesus be sexy too?” Costello was so skeezed by this depiction of the lord, she also penned an op-ed for I’m not the only one gawking at Morgado‘s Jesus. He inspired the hashtag, “#HotJesus.

Secondly, Pastor Tim Challies posted a good essay on the mystery of the cross vs. the method of execution, the crucifixion. Pastor Challies said,

A film cannot adequately capture the reality of what transpired between the Father and the Son while the Son hung upon the cross. ... At the cross we encounter something no picture can tell. Its reality cannot be displayed. Even the eyewitnesses of the cross, those who saw it all unfold, walked away ignorant that day, needing words to explain what had happened there.

Challies goes on with a sensitive and thought-provoking essay about the difference between crucifixion as a method of execution, versus the mystery of the eternal holy wrathful exchange. The film can only show the cruel death of a man, even the Son of God, and not the real meaning of the cross. Watching something that is as profound as that, yet missing the mark because it is too profound to be contained on celluloid, diminishes the mystery and depth of the tremendous sacrifice our Trinitarian God made on behalf of humanity.

Of course, there are also theological concerns, as I had stated before when the mini-series initially came out.  Therefore, for all those reasons, I will not go see the movie. I hope you will take time to prayerfully consider all the implications, concerns, and biblical stances, and prayerfully weigh the the bible as you decide.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

False Teachers and flatteries

I write about discernment very often. I post essays showing how to discern and detect a false doctrine or a false teacher. Oftentimes I name the teacher or the doctrine.

Just as often, I receive comments denying that person could possibly be false. One of the most common rebuttals I receive regarding why someone can't be a false teacher is that "They preach Jesus". Or, "They use scripture."

First of all, it stands to reason that since satan masquerades as an angel of light, "Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness." (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

We are supposed to test the spirits. (1 John 4:1). This means "Test, dokimazo, a term used in metallurgy to assess the purity of metal." (source)

In discernment, it is important to do three things when approaching the topic. First, actually read the bible. If one never reads it, one will never know that warning verse is in there. Second, stop and think about what it means. Lift your eyes from the book, slow down, and think about what the Spirit is telling us here when He inspired Paul to write this verse, and every word in it. "masquerades", "light", "ministers", etc. Third, put application on the ground. The bible is a book of intellectual depth, a historical document unparalleled, sensitive and beautiful poetry, but it is also a manual of life. We are to lift our eyes from it and look around and apply its words to what we do, say, and hear.

In this case, we're told that it isn't surprising satan and his minions roam around as angels of light, therefore we know that satan's deceptions will be both common and expected. Disguises means that initially one will not be able to tell that the teacher or preacher is from satan. He will wear a mask. Only if the mask slips or if the teacher varies from the word will we be able to detect who he really is. (I refer back to #1, read the bible). Usually it takes time to tell if a teacher is true or not. This is because it takes time for fruit to ripen. (Matthew 7:16).

Now as for the actual application and detecting, and back to the 'oh but he can't be false, he preaches Jesus!' comments. Let's take a look at the beginning of the bible and the end. In Genesis 3 and Revelation 6 we are given examples of the two most successful deceivers the earth has ever and will ever see, satan, and the antichrist.

In Genesis 3 satan is introduced to us as subtle. In Genesis 3:1 the first thing said about satan is that he is subtle (crafty). In the bible, a thing mentioned first is the most important. So if there is a list of qualities, look at the first one, or if they are repeated, (ie, HOLY HOLY HOLY) it is the author's way of emphasizing. We have CTRL-B for bold font now, but in those days they simply mentioned the first thing first that the Author wanted emphasized. For example, though satan was the most beautiful of all the angels, (Ezekiel 28:12), this is not the first thing mentioned about him. The first mention is a negative quality, he is crafty.

In Daniel 8:25 we are also told that the coming antichrist will cause craft to prosper. In both cases the word is used in a negative sense. It means deceit, treachery and cunning.

We see a picture of all this in Revelation 6:2,

"And I looked, and behold, a white horse! And its rider had a bow, and a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering, and to conquer."

You see the antichrist rides a white horse. He is holding a bow (but no arrows). He wears a crown. So the antichrist is disguised. He is masquerading. He appears on a horse of a heavenly color (white), having kinglike qualities, (crown) and holding a bow but no arrows (an nonthreatening diplomat rather than a bloody warrior).

As to that last one, a bow but no arrow, a diplomat rather than bloody warrior, the devil and the antichrist use their voice to win the kingdom. The devil speaks, he doesn't kill directly. His words are his weapons.

He cloaks himself in the liturgical vestments of the clergy while using smooth oratory to win over undiscerning believers to doctrines of demons.
The coming antichrist does it the same way. By speaking flatteries.

In his place shall arise a contemptible person to whom royal majesty has not been given. He shall come in without warning and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. (Daniel 11:21)

Why should it be any different for all of the mini-antichrists (1 John 2:22) to insinuate themselves, by flatteries, smooth speech?

For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:18).

Of course they speak of Jesus (more often, they speak of God than Jesus, but anyway...) The second word out of satan's mouth was 'God.' False teachers will speak of God. They will speak of Jesus. They will use scripture. Testing the spirits does not mean you stop there. It means really listening. Then it means comparing what they say with the bible.

"These also are proverbs of Solomon which the men of Hezekiah king of Judah copied. It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out. As the heavens for height, and the earth for depth, so the heart of kings is unsearchable. Take away the dross from the silver, and the smith has material for a vessel; take away the wicked from the presence of the king, and his throne will be established in righteousness." (Proverbs 25:1-28)


Further reading

Testing the Spirits

Sinclair Ferguson: What is Discernment? 

Spiritual malpractice

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Worship interlude: Praising a sovereign Savior

You, my Lord, are on your throne
Sovereignly ordaining everything

The leaf that falls
The sparrow that flies
The heart that beats
The heart that fails.

The child of Your creation born
To shouts of joy from angels,
The elder who falls asleep,
Carried to your throne by ministering spirits,

The wind does not blow without Your will and direction,
The sea dare not cross its boundary.

The rooster does not crow three times
Without your knowledge.
Your people, slumbering
Waken to new life
In You--

The King

Monday, February 24, 2014

How to plant a shill in the audience: Steven Furtick takes a cue from Toastmasters

Huffington Post: Elevation Church's 'Spontaneous Baptisms' Are Planned By Pastor Steven Furtick In Advance
A Southern Baptist megachurch pastor in North Carolina, already under fire for buying a $1.6 million house, is in the spotlight again for “spontaneous baptisms” that turn out to be not nearly so spontaneous. Steven Furtick, 34, routinely draws about 14,000 worshippers to several campuses of Elevation Church in and around Charlotte. The church, launched in 2006, have been listed by Outreach magazine as one of the top 100 fastest-growing churches in the country. Part of that growth has been attributed to Elevation’s flashy baptism ceremonies, particularly as the Southern Baptist Convention grows increasingly concerned about declining baptism rates as a key measure of evangelism and church vitality. But a new report from NBC Charlotte suggests that Elevation’s supposedly spontaneous baptisms are carefully planned ahead of time, with people planted in the congregation to start the walk down the aisle."

The article goes on to explain the 'How-To' of Elevation Church's 'spontaneous' baptism, right down to the percentages of what sized clothes to order to give to the wet baptizees after they come up from the water.

I knew about Furtick's Elevation Church's non-spontaneous baptism before. I wrote about Furtick's deception last November. What hurts is the shame we feel by sharing the name 'Christian' with such a one as Mr Furtick, and having that shame exposed to the mocking, unbelieving world. What hurts is the harm done to the name of Jesus, and the unbelievers who turn from our precious Savior in scorn.

I wasn't saved until I was 43 years old. I lived through the televangelist scandals of the 80s and 90s. Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts (remember his 900 foot tall Jesus vision?) all were fodder for me to be convinced that Christianity was a crock. The arrival of cable television in the 80s and the rise of money grubbing televangelists beamed into my home didn't help my attitude. Never having been inside a church, the cable programs and the newspaper headlines were the church. At least they were the face of it, for me.

"Someone needs to say this plainly: The faith healers and health-and-wealth preachers who dominate religious television are shameless frauds. Their message is not the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. There is nothing spiritual or miraculous about their on-stage chicanery. It is all a devious ruse designed to take advantage of desperate people. They are not Godly ministers but greedy impostors who corrupt the Word of God for money's sake. They are not real pastors who shepherd the flock of God but hirelings whose only design is to fleece the sheep. Their love of money is glaringly obvious in what they say as well as how they live. They claim to possess great spiritual power, but in reality they are rank materialists and enemies of everything holy.John MacArthur

Now we have Furtick deceiving the people, and himself, of course. There's a reason for these verses:

"Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:7)

But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. (2 Corinthians 4:2)

"We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry," (2 Corinthians 6:3)

Chicanery, greed, and deceit exhibited in these Christians were certainly obstacles for me to come to Christ. Who wants to become a part of a religion where people were always falling from grace, exposed as liars, shown to be deceptive, and say and do ridiculous things all the time? Now, I know that in His sovereign way, He elected me to salvation and the moment was ordained from before the foundation of the world. (Ephesians 1:4). But on the other hand, schemes and wiles such as Mr Furtick's are a stumbling block.

And the larger issue, now that I'm saved, is shame that the name of Jesus is associated with tricks like Furtick's and done in church no less.

In researching this post, I came across a How-To from the internationally-known speech-making organization- the Toastmasters. It is called "How to Plant a Shill in the Audience". It should be noted that at least the Toastmasters admit that planting a shill is a "trick", "deceptive", and "sneaky." They also advise revealing to the audience at the end of the trick that the shill was indeed a plant. It should be noted that the supposed Christian, 'Pastor' Furtick, makes no such admission about his shills. Click the image to enlarge. You will see eerily similar language between the Toastmasters how-to for manipulating an audience by using shills during speeches, and Furtick's manipulation of his audience by using plants during the spontaneous baptisms.

My only comfort in all this is that Jesus is King. He will repay. And I'm looking forward to it. I long for the day when His name will be besmirched in word or deed no more.

There is definitely an art to shill-planting, but it can be a highly useful tool in your bag of speaking tricks. Use it sparingly and wisely. Plan it out carefully and it will serve you well.

World's violence: Ukraine, Venezuela, Thailand; distress of nations

With all the world's attention focused on the coup in Kiev, Ukraine right now, and the ongoing problem of Syria's civil war, little news attention has been paid to uprisings in two other places: Caracas, Venezuela and Bangkok, Thailand.

Francisco Toro at the Caracas Chronicles wrote on February 20th,

The Game Changed in Venezuela Last Night – and the International Media Is Asleep At the Switch

Dear International Editor:
Listen and understand. The game changed in Venezuela last night. What had been a slow-motion unravelling that had stretched out over many years went kinetic all of a sudden.

What we have this morning is no longer the Venezuela story you thought you understood.

Throughout last night, panicked people told their stories of state-sponsored paramilitaries on motorcycles roaming middle class neighborhoods, shooting at people and storming into apartment buildings, shooting at anyone who seemed like he might be protesting.

People continue to be arrested merely for protesting, and a long established local Human Rights NGO makes an urgent plea for an investigation into widespread reports of torture of detainees. There are now dozens of serious human right abuses: National Guardsmen shooting tear gas canisters directly into residential buildings. We have videos of soldiers shooting civilians on the street.

And that’s just what came out in real time, over Twitter and YouTube, before any real investigation is carried out. Online media is next, a city of 645,000 inhabitantshas been taken off the internet amid mounting repression.

The above was an analysis opinion, though backed with links. What do other news outlets say is happening in Caracas?

The Financial Times reports that "Caracas Protesters vow to turn Venezuela into another Ukraine"
"As the death toll from 10 days of violence rose to at least eight, at dusk on Saturday he was among the demonstrators in Caracas’s Plaza Altamira, an opposition stronghold, hurling rocks at security forces at the end of a march that drew in tens of thousands of people."

Bloomberg news reports that Opposition Agrees to talks as Unrest rocks Caracas
Anti-government demonstrations are in their second week after Lopez’s Voluntad Popular party on Feb. 12 organized marches to speak out against rising crime, the world’s fastest inflation and shortages of everything from milk to medicine. The protests have turned violent on a nightly basis as police clash with students, resulting in at least eight deaths.

Meanwhile in Bangkok

Thai PM rules out resigning as bombs, gunfire punctuate unrest
Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, the target of anti-government protests in Bangkok, has been staying outside the city and on Monday ruled out resigning despite a series of deadly attacks heaping pressure on her administration. The protests have been punctuated by gunfire and bomb blasts, including one on Sunday that killed a woman and a young brother and sister. They are aimed at unseating Yingluck and erasing the influence of her brother, former premier Thaksin Shinawatra, who is seen by many as the power behind the government.

In the Ukraine, an arrest warrant has been issued for the President. The military body against Syria's Assad is in Chaos. Germany's Angela Merkel will visit Israel, back Kerry and push for the stalled peace talks to revive.

All this unrest in various nations is creating refugees and asylum seekers, who themselves are subjected to sometimes horrific conditions. Protests have been occurring where violence often breaks out. At the Australian-run asylum center on Papua New Guinea there was a riot to protest conditions, but authoritarian secrecy has locked the facility down, and there are at best conflicting reports of what actually happened. All they know is an Iranian woman seeking asylum died.

Scott Morrison contradicts first account of Manus Island unrest
Manus Island riot investigation to examine Labor’s role in setting up centre
Four countries that treat asylum seekers better than Australia

Of the unrest ongoing in the northern tier of Africa, many refugees flee to the island off Italy called Lampedusa, as they had been since the outbreak of the Arab Spring in Morocco and Tunisia in 2011. However, these facilities were never meant to handle the hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing nations in unrest. Again, tragedies occur.

Number of refugees landing in Italy rising: Official
Italian navy rescues 1,100 African asylum seekers off Lampedusa coast, says numbers set to rise in spring

Turkey has set up refugee camps where more than half a million Syrians fleeing the three-year unrest in their native country have been living. Yet for many, there is no escape from the violence, there, either.

Five killed at blast in Syrian refugee camp near Turkey

6.5 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Syria; 2.4 million Syrians Displaced to Neighboring Countries.

50 largest refugee camps
"The legacy of the world’s conflicts can be seen in the scores of camps for refugees around the world. This story profiles the 50 most populous settlements administered by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Contrary to popular belief, many of these settlements are far from temporary, and most of the largest ones are in Africa and South Asia. In total, these camps are home to over 1.9 million uprooted people."

The world's unrest is making a restless population. Not only are those within the nations affected but also the ones who flee are affected, and the places they flee to are affected. I am reminded of the prophecy:

"Then he said to them, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom." (Luke 21:10)

Nation against nation means two things. The word for nations as it is used here is 'ethnos' meaning nation, as in Syria against Israel, for example. It also means a race of people, as in Sunni against Shia, or Tutsi against Hutu.

There is another verse which comes to mind also.

And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves," (Luke 21:25)

I've often thought that the reference to the sea here is to peoples. It absolutely could mean actual sea. No doubt. But I always wondered why the peoples will be perplexed as to why the seas are roaring. So I began to believe that the restless sea (peoples) are being referred to. There is precedent that sea means mass of people as a metaphor. In Isaiah, the sea is actually defined as a metaphor of restless peoples.

But the wicked are like the tossing sea; for it cannot be quiet, and its waters toss up mire and dirt." (Isaiah 57:20)

In Revelation 13:1 the first beast (antichrist) is described as coming out of the sea.

"And I saw a beast rising out of the sea, with ten horns and seven heads, with ten diadems on its horns and blasphemous names on its heads." (Revelation 13:1)

The first beast rises out of the sea. In that verse it is obvious that it is a metaphor, because it is highly unlikely that the antichrist rises from the actual sea as a man, dripping with sea water and entwined with seaweed.

So I believe the word sea there is a use of the old metaphor for the restless nations. I don't think it is too far a stretch to say that the 'distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, are the wicked in the nations.

In any case, there is global unrest that is prolonged and affecting millions upon millions at this moment. Entire nations are almost being uprooted and masses of people expelled. The wicked, teeming mass of humanity in many nations is being oppressed and displaced. The global psyche is very tenuous right now.

"Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them." (Ecclesiastes 4:1)

There are many blessings about living in this time. We see the Spirit at work, we see prophecies unfolding, we can pray in joyous anticipation for the Lord's return. However there are also many sad parts to living in this time also. We mourn for these displaced people and for the children affected by all this national and sectarian violence. We know that many don't have the joy of resting in Jesus, they don't know Him. We mourn those who die, and are in hell right now because they didn't know Jesus. We know that it is only going to be harder each day. Our brethren are persecuted and killed at a rate unheard of in any previous time. It is going to continue to get darker before it gets better.

Because the Church won't be going through the Tribulation, we know the Lord will call for us any time. We may have one day left on earth or several more years. At least we know that we have a great joy to look forward to. You can have great joy as well.

If you don't know Jesus and are depressed at the way the world is going, then repent of your sins. Jesus will save you from the wrath to come- both the wrath on this earth (1 Thessalonians 5:9, Romans 5:9) and the wrath in hell. (John 3:36). Repent and turn to Jesus, the only One who can save. He is building His church, He is preparing a place for His bride, and will return soon to take us to where He is.

"And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also." (John 14:3)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Two examples of satan's attacks through children's ministries

"But Jesus answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” (John 5:17)

God and Jesus and the Spirit are always working. We know this. But we forget that satan is always working too.

I'm not equating satan with Jesus, but I'm reminding us that satan is restless, relentless, and remorseless.

Satan prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8).
Satan roams the earth (Job 1:7).
Satan schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11).
Satan blinds. (2 Corinthians 4:4).
Satan sifts. (Luke 22:31).
Satan deceives. (2 Corinthians 11:3)

I have recently published a review of Rend Collective Experiment's music, a contemporary music-worship band. Some contemporary music sung in church as praise music is theologically OK, much of it is not. I've been concerned with the appearance of theologically weak adult contemporary music and its rapid embeddedness into worship. I'm also concerned of course with the outright biblically aberrant adult contemporary music.

However, where we think satan has been resisted successfully in one area, he appears in another. Like children's music.

Thank the Lord we are in a body and working as a unit, each of us operating in the gifts He has given us. I read a very good essay by Tom Chantry this morning about the theology of some children's music sung in church.

It’s Sunday Morning; Do You Know What Your Children Are Singing?

Here is an excerpt. I recommend reading the full essay at Mr Chantry's blog

I am no advocate of the full-throttle family-integrated approach, but I have been concerned by what is now the well-established trend of separate worship for kids. Parents accept the idea that children’s ministries do a better job than church of introducing their kids to Jesus. What they fail to ask themselves is just who this “Jesus” is that their kids will meet.

His essay is a good reminder to me that there is no sphere satan will overlook in his attempts to weaken the Bride. He even attacks children! So let us remember that we work too. It is a never-ending work in which we are not to become weary. We're not only working, but we are in a battle. Keep up your sword! If your arms become weary, let another help you lift them! (Exodus 17:12). We can do it until He comes!

We resist satan. (James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:9)
We humble ourselves. (1 Peter 5:6)
We obey. (Colossians 3:22)
We fight the good fight of the faith. (1 Timothy 6:12)
We wrestle. (Ephesians 6:12).

We stand!

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 

Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. 

To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints..."
(Ephesians 6:12-18)

And it might do to take a look at the lyrics of the songs your children are singing in your church. The controversy surrounding Steven Furtick and Elevation Church's children's ministry, his cult-like exhortations in his church's children's coloring book, is even more evidence that satan will not overlook children's ministries in order to do his hellish work.

But if we resist the devil, he will flee from us, and the Light of Jesus's glory will shine so brightly! May all that we do be for Your glory, Jesus, now and forever.

The faith of Adam

When Adam and Eve trusted the words of the serpent instead of GOD and stepped out into disobedience, they fell from grace.

To the woman God said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16).

Then God made His prophetic pronouncements to Adam (the ground is cursed because of you, labor will be painful, you'll sweat and toil, the serpent will be bruised under the heel of the woman's offspring)

When God was finished speaking, the man called his wife’s name Eve, "because she was the mother of all living." (Genesis 3:20)

God Judging Adam, cropped, by Wm. Blake, 1795
Was Eve a mother yet? No. Adam's naming of Eve was a step into faith based on the future promises of God.

If Adam's faith was so great based on such little revelation, how much more faith should we have based on the incarnation of Christ, the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, and the completed revelation of God?

"For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:17)

Creation Grace: Endurance

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Thank the LORD I know Jesus, because our society sure doesn't

I saw this ad tonight....

...and it reminded me of a tweet I saw earlier today

"The only direction our culture is progressing is toward barbarism and slavery to our genitals."
~John Rossomando

Sky Noises/Sounds of the Apocalypse continue to perplex, frighten

In January of 2012 I wrote a report of the global sky sounds people have been hearing. Variously called sky hums, sounds of the apocalypse, or sky quakes, they have appeared recently and have not only been heard by many, but have been recorded and reported on by mainstream news. I wrote:

Strange noises in the sky: hums, booms, and other apocalyptic escapades
"The noises are usually a low pitched hum that veritably drives the residents crazy, or a boom from the sky that people liken to a sonic boom. When they occur, the authorities receive dozens to hundreds of phone calls asking if there had been an earthquake. In most cases, the boom is not related to a military activity nor aeronautic exercise, not to a quake, and not to drilling or explosives. These things are checked out and the usual explanation is usually absent, leaving residents to wonder what is the cause of the noise. That's why they are termed mysterious."

Since the general emergence of these sounds; a few years ago, they have continued to perplex and frighten. Just this week in St. Paul, Minnesota, another spate of sounds frightened the residents there.

St. Paul Residents Ponder Loud, Mysterious Noise Heard Thursday Morning
"A loud, strange noise early Thursday morning woke up some residents in St. Paul and frightened others. People heard it for about an hour, in and around the Highland Park and Mac Groveland neighborhoods. KSTP called Ramsey County dispatch and sent a crew to investigate. Dispatch said they received about 10 calls from homeowners wondering what the noise was. They sent out a few officers to investigate but they couldn't find anything. The howling traveled for miles, right through the walls of homes."

Now, there is a difference between these particular sounds, and other sounds that normally occur and startle residents. For example, the transformer in front of my house was struck by lightning and blew up, and it made an enormous sound which scared me (and the cats) like to death. However, it was the suddenness of the sound and the loudness of the sound and not the sound itself which was startling. I recognized it as a normal, if very loud sound. The same with a thunderclap and the same with the boom associated with the earthquake that happened near GA this week, and the same with sonic booms that occasionally happen as jets takeoff at the Air Force Base some distance away. We have a catalog of sounds in our head and when we hear one we classify it. The brain immediately categorizes those sounds as infrequent but normal.

Not so with these sky booms. They aren't even particularly loud, but it seems that is it the quality of the sound that spooks people. They are unclassifiable. Here are some quotes from people who heard the St. Paul noise-

Howling sound 'creeps out' St. Paul
--"It was kind of a howling, kind of a scraping, kind of a metallic sound," said Aaron Buesing.
--Trudy Moloney explained it as "kind of a somber music and eerie sounding."

MYSTERY HOWL: What caused haunting St. Paul sounds?
Although some likened the sound to a whale song, others admit the spine-tingling tones seemed a little ghastly.

St. Paul residents try to place eerie early morning noise
Part ocean waves, part wild animal call, part distorted howl
Descriptions included scraping metal, industrial grinding, voices over a loudspeaker, even music.

Quite often, the noises are described as metallic, spooky, and eerie. They describe them as chains clanking or sometimes, something straight from hell.

In this report from the UK, also from last week,

Coventry residents left baffled by mystery 'Independence Day' noise
"Reports have come in describing a loud noise in the sky which lasted around one minute and was heard by residents in Whitley, Walsgrave, Stoke and Wyken. Mitch Wise, 19, from Walsgrave, said the noise was so loud he could hear it inside his house despite all the windows and doors being closed. He said: “I did think it sounded like something out of Independence Day, that kind of noise." [Independence Day, the alien invasion movie]

Or this from Kentucky, also this week:

Booms in the Night; Officials scurry to locate source; MSU professor offers explanation for strange sounds
"A series of strange noises awakened Murray-area residents in the pre-dawn hours Friday, causing law enforcement agencies to answer several calls related to mysterious sounds that were being reported.  Dr. George Kipphut, chairman of the Murray State University Department of Geosciences, said he is relatively certain that a phenomenon known as a frost quake is the cause of the eerie resonance.... I’ve never heard one, and this is unusual for this climate we live in,” Kipphut said.  Kipphut said frost quakes — officially known in the geological community as cryoseisms — are more associated with the extreme northern portions of the United States into Canada."

Even when the loud booms and explosions are heard and there is likely a natural explanation, like cryoseisms, it seems that there exists something weird with these, as well. In the above story, they are happening in places where they don't usually. In the article below, they are happening much more frequently than they ever have.

A cryoseism is a frost quake. As Wikipedia explains, "They may be caused by a sudden cracking action in frozen soil or rock saturated with water or ice. As water drains into ground, it may eventually freeze and expand under colder temperatures, putting stress on its surroundings. This stress builds up until relieved explosively in the form of a cryoseism."

This past January in Vermont, apparently several cryoseisms occurred. As Gib Brown, who works as both a geology and physics educator, explains, "I thought a tree fell on my house," Brown recalled. "I looked outside, I looked up and down the street, couldn't see anything. It had to have been a cryoseism."  Brown likened the phenomenon to the way potholes can be formed by freezing water, except under the earth, where their invisibility adds to their mystery. Brown called the frost quakes fairly rare but not wildly unusual. "I would say the numbers this year are way above average," Brown said." [underline mine]


Let's turn from the fact of these noises and the reaction to them ... to the bible. I'd said in the blog essay I wrote two years ago that the bible specifically does not address the noises as a sign. Though officials have searched for an explanation (airplanes, drilling, ice, etc) they have come up empty. Neither biblical nor secular explanations seem to be coming to the fore. So from this paragraph forward there is only speculation on my part. However there is perhaps an application to the end times that I want to share.

First, there are these verses from Jeremiah 25:30-31

You, therefore, shall prophesy against them all these words, and say to them:

“‘The Lord will roar from on high,
and from his holy habitation utter his voice;
he will roar mightily against his fold,
and shout, like those who tread grapes,
against all the inhabitants of the earth.
31The clamor will resound to the ends of the earth,
for the Lord has an indictment against the nations;
he is entering into judgment with all flesh,
and the wicked he will put to the sword,
declares the Lord."

Verse 31, 'the clamor' also is translated 'a noise.' Pulpit Commentary says of 'a noise', the word is used elsewhere for the tumultuous sound of a marching army, or the roar of waters.

Many people say that the noise they've been hearing includes a clanking or a metallic sound. I've said before that I often wonder if it is leak-through from the unholy angels gathering for the great unleashing upon the world. When prophet Elisha asked God to open his servant's eyes, I wonder if in addition to seeing the angelic army ... if he heard anything too.

Then Elisha prayed and said, “O LORD, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha. (2 Kings 6:17)

The fear.

There is fear of the LORD, which isn't a scary fear for a Christian. CARM says of the fear of God:

Yes, we should fear God because He is the Almighty Creator who can discipline us should we rebel against Him. He is so holy and so awesome that being in His presence brings an inspiring fear. ... When anyone experiences the Majesty of the Lord, he naturally is humbled and the awesome greatness of God automatically produces a normal and healthy fear.

But we do not need to fear God's judgment. As for satan, we need not fear him because Jesus has already overcome satan. We only need resist satan and he will flee from us. (James 4:7).

The unsaved don't fear God. They do not fear satan either. They unknowingly serve satan. If they happen to have encounters with the supernatural, often times satan's ministers appear as angels of light, (2 Corinthians 11:14-15) or in new age terms, 'spirit guides.' Since satan chooses either to allow himself to be culturally diminished (as in a pointy horns and a red tail made fun of on Halloween) or as a gentle spirit guide, muse, or another kind of other worldly helper, the unsaved don't fear satan.

What would people think whose incorrect notion of satan or spirit guides were to be unmasked and they say the demons as they really are?

I believe they are getting a taste of it with these sky noises. If these people who heard the sky noise for one second and were frightened out of their wits, what will happen when they see the very demons of hell unleashed?

And the fifth angel blew his trumpet, and I saw a star fallen from heaven to earth, and he was given the key to the shaft of the bottomless pit.a 2He opened the shaft of the bottomless pit, and from the shaft rose smoke like the smoke of a great furnace, and the sun and the air were darkened with the smoke from the shaft. 3Then from the smoke came locusts on the earth, and they were given power like the power of scorpions of the earth. (Revelation 9:1-3)

Read the rest of Revelation 9.

These demons are allowed to torment any person during the Tribulation who does not have the seal of God on their foreheads. How would you feel to see a demon chasing you? Biting you? Tormenting you? The Greek word for torment in the verse is literally "torture".

These sky booms have no liken in the world. They aren't made naturally. They frighten people, and I believe the sounds are made supernaturally.

Matthew Henry said of the Jeremiah verse, "Who can avoid trembling when God speaks in displeasure?" And who among the unsaved can avoid trembling when the demons of hell sound their chains their appearance?

You know how it energizes the arena when Queen's "We will rock you" STOMP STOMP CLAP comes over the loudspeakers? Of course it would incite the demons' maniacal glee to know the time is near. Because they know. (Matthew 8:29). I wonder if the restless demons in gloomy dungeons (Jude 1:6, 2 Peter 2:4) are chanting "we will, we will bite you!" CLANK CLANK CLAP

It's interesting to think hypothetically of the sky booms as a demonic version of this:

The GOOD NEWS is that Jesus paid it all, and we no longer need fear God in a bad way nor fear what satan can do to us. If you repent, nothing on earth can frighten you. Not an eerie noise, not a demon masquerading as an angel of light, not even satan.

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)

Repent, for the time is near.

Friday, February 21, 2014

More than 150 earthquakes in the past week in Oklahoma "not normal" says OGS, issues position paper (Updated)

Yesterday I wrote a blog essay covering the news that a "first of its kind earthquake" had hit Oman. I also reported about the large-ish quake that had struck the UK, where quakes occur, but not all that frequently.

Today KOCO of Oklahoma City published a news article about the earthquake swarm that has been going on in Oklahoma. The KOCO article had the following headline:

OGS: 150+ quakes in one week in Oklahoma
"There have been more than 150 earthquakes in the past week in Oklahoma, according to the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS). That’s not normal. Before 2009, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported Oklahoma would typically get three or fewer 3.0+ magnitude quakes a year. In the last few years, the average jumped up to about 40 significant quakes a year. Less than 2 months into 2014, Oklahoma has had more than 25 quakes registering 3.0+ magnitude in Oklahoma. Michael Lewchuk, an earthquake expert with Casady School, told KOCO, “For Oklahoma that is an unusually large amount. We typically have somewhere between 50-100 in one full year.”

The quake swarm is so perplexing and problematic (for geologists AND for homeowners/residents) that the Oklahoma Geological Survey has released a position paper specifically addressing it.

There has been a significant increase in seismic activity (earthquakes) in Oklahoma since 2009. And although the majority of these earthquakes are not strong enough to be felt, the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS) recognizes that the increase in “felt” seismic activity is of interest to the citizens of the state. ...

--Since 2009, the earthquake activity in Oklahoma has been approximately 40 times higher than in the previous 30 years.
--Based on reported “felt” earthquakes prior to the establishment of the OGS network, this recent level of seismicity is significantly greater than the past 100 years.
--The energy released by earthquakes is thousands of times greater than the energy that may have been added by water disposal, which demonstrates that the earthquakes themselves are, ultimately, the result of the release of natural stresses. [Ed Note: as opposed to fracking]
--The “Jones Earthquake Swarm” appears, in part, to have shown some activity that statistically deviates from the regional stresses and other general observations of seismicity in Oklahoma.
"The earthquakes keep coming in Oklahoma. Many of Oklahoma’s temblors are too small to be felt by humans, but their frequency and intensity seems to be growing." (source)

So the upshot is, since 2009 Oklahoma has had a monster increase in earthquakes. The Geologic Society recognizes that residents are spooked. They are looking into it. They haven't come to a reasonable conclusion as to why OK is jumping and cracking.

"According to the Oklahoma Geological Survey (OGS), there were more than 2,800 earthquakes in Oklahoma in 2013. That's twice the previous high, established in 2011." (source)

If these unusual quakes aren't part of the birth pangs, then I don't know what! (Matthew 24:8).

Further Reading

The Beginning of the Birth Pains

The End of the Age

Opinion Editorial: The State of Oklahoma needs an earthquake task force

An editorial about Beth Moore's teaching, and her followers

This is an opinion editorial.

Pam Terrell runs the blog "The Secret Life of a Pastor's Wife". Mrs Terrell recently published a critique of Beth Moore, here. The same thing happened to her as happens with anyone who says anything negative about Mrs Moore. Her next post was titled "The Day My Blog Blew Up."

Wikipedia CC
Mrs Terrell explained what happened, and how many comments she had received. Some were positive, along the lines of 'thank you for posting this discerning information about a false teacher.' Others were rabidly angry that their idol had been poked.

I sympathized with her. I had previously quoted Mrs Terrell in one of my many, many, MANY essays about Beth Moore but I had not seen the follow up. Every other blogger that I've read who posted something negative about Beth Moore (and they were few & far between for a long while, whistling in the wind) ALL got the same reactions, the same content in the comments, even. One thing I read recently that hit me is "to see if something is an idol, poke it and see how the followers react."

One comment that people who try to defend Moore's teaching say a lot is that "you're jealous." The 'you're jealous' comment perplexes me the most. Commenters reacting to my pieces on Moore also say that I'm inhibiting people from delving into the word, it's just my opinion, and I need to stop being critical. Not one ever comes up with a biblical reason to rebut my biblical reason for taking issue with Moore's teachings. That's because there aren't any.

Saying ANYTHING negative about Beth Moore provokes a rabid-push back. Lately though, and thankfully too, some men have been speaking out against her methods and her false theology. Todd Friel, Mike Abendroth, Justin Peters, Jim Murphy, Tim Challies and Matt Slick at Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry (all pastors) have all recently said negative things about Moore in one aspect or another, based on her handling of the bible and what/how she teaches. I wonder if these female commenters would say that the men are "jealous" too!

Moore makes weak disciples because her teachings promote straying from from sola scriptura, providing a poor model for the new Christians coming up. She makes doubters, offers legalism, and puts in lots of conditions to faith. As a result, people wander from Jesus-the-rock and becoming scared of their doubts (i.e 'am I doing faith right?') they go back to Moore. It's why she has so many groupies.

It's hard, as a discernment person, to see so vividly how the false ones are damaging the faith and striking the sheep. I worry deeply and almost every day for women in my own congregation. So my fears are not just for the women 'out there' but also 'in here'.

Moore, Rick Warren and formerly Billy Graham have been the 20th century's worst wolves, and I am sad to say I have to put Osteen in that category too now. I say 'sad' because it's so OBVIOUS Osteen is false, but increasingly, people don't see it. At least Moore, Graham and Warren hid their apostasy for so long that it took a keen eye and a God-delivered wisdom to detect it. In other words, props for subtle cunning. Osteen is just blatantly blasphemous. However the bible does say that apostasy will increase, and Osteen certainly is evidence of that.

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables”
(2 Timothy 4:3-4).
My sadness with Moore is now she is passing into the grandma stage, an elder woman of the faith, meaning she has been around so long she has birthed spiritual daughters...just like Revelation 2:20-23 says of the false prophetess-type Jezebel.

This is a subject near to my heart. I just want to run around to every woman and put my arms around them to protect them. But my arms are too short. The way to do that is prayer. Jesus's arms are long enough.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

First of its kind earthquake hits Oman

This news from the Times of Oman:

Muscat: A tremor which occurred in a Muscat suburb on Tuesday evening was the first of its kind and can be classified as a "non-warning" earthquake, the Director of the Earthquake Monitoring Centre at Sultan Qaboos University said in an interview. ... The epicentre of the tremor, which occurred at 08:06 p.m. on Tuesday, was about 30 km from the city of Muscat and felt by part of the population because it was shallow," Dr. Issa Al Hussein said. The earthquake was recorded 2 on Richter Scale by the Seismological Centre of the Sultan Qaboos University.

I don't know what is meant by "non-warning" earthquake, unless it means the residents don't need to be warned because another quake is not expected...but then again, quakes never are expected. And I don't know what they mean by first of its kind in the headline when the article later says that the mountain range in the area had experienced tremors in 2010. If you go to the short article, you'll see.

However, there was a concerted effort to collect data as to the seismicity of Oman and "through these efforts, it has been established that a major fault exists in the Gulf of Oman (offshore Muscat)." (source .pdf paper, Earthquake Hazard Potential in Oman). The paper goes on to report,

"There are practically no instrumentally-recorded earthquakes in Oman. The global database, however, lists an earthquake of magnitude 5.1 (Richter Scale) in AI-Kamil area in 1971. There are numerous reports of felt earthquakes in Oman (Table 1)."

I'm focusing on Oman because seismicity, or any activity, in the prophetic epicenter is always highly interesting and important to monitor. You might recall in Dec. 2011 I reported a new island had emerged in the Red Sea. In June of 2011 a spectacular volcanic eruption took place in Eritrea, where the previous eruption had occurred way back in 1861. To say the 2011 eruption was sudden and surprising is an understatement

In other earthquake news, there was a quake in the UK today.

Devon earthquake: Biggest tremor in the UK for SIX YEARS shakes the South West 
"The nation was hit by its biggest earthquake in six years today, shaking homes and leaving ­residents frightened and confused. The 4.1 magnitude quake was felt over hundreds of miles, with thousands of people caught in the tremors across the West Country and South Wales."

As always I believe that earthquakes are an important warning sign from God- whether He directly caused it or allowed it to happen. Keep watching the signs. Yes I know I'm a broken record, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. One of these days the rapture will happen. Meanwhile the anticipation of both living for Christ on earth and looking forward to glorified life with Him in heaven is what it's all about. Do you long for His appearing? I hope so.

Further reading

Why does God allow natural disasters, i.e. earthquakes, hurricanes, and tsunamis?"

Self-esteem versus dust

I grew up in the 1970s and I was teaching first grade in the 1980s when the "self-esteem" movement hit education. Suddenly there were no winners or losers, no achievers or laggards. There were only winners, and everyone was supposed to be rewarded for 'trying.'

Well, even Psychology Today now says in their 2011 article, The Gift of Failure, "The self-esteem movement has done an entire generation a deep disservice."

If I may be allowed a moment of snark...well, duh.

The article recounts the movement's beginnings.

It started with the best intentions. In 1969, Nathaniel Brandon wrote a paper entitled "The Psychology of Self-Esteem" that suggested that "feelings of self-esteem were the key to success in life". Hearing this, many people started to find ways to confer confidence upon our children. This resulted in competitions where everyone gets a trophy and no one actually wins. "New games" attempted to engage children without any winners or losers. The parents who embraced these efforts did so out of love and with the most noble of intentions. The only problem is that these efforts simply do not work. Self-esteem is not something conferred, it is earned through taking risks and developing skills

An attitude of 'we're all winners' was directed toward children and played out on the soccer field, Cub Scouts, and elementary schools. It was not constrained to just children, though, as it was perpetuated in adults by the publishing of and subsequent runaway success of the 1970s' most popularly selling book, "I'm OK, You're OK" By Dr. Thomas Harris, MD.

It was the era of self-help and the above paragraph sums up nicely the feeling of the times. Harris's work extended Abraham Maslow's, a psychologist in the 1950s who published a seminal book outlining the human's hierarchy of needs. Maslow created a pyramid in which a hierarchy of needs was proposed. In Maslow's schema, once man meets his own needs, he can reach his full potential. You hear this a lot in today's self-esteem preachers: 'full potential'.

That feeling of everyone being OK, needing a self-esteem boost continued into the 90s and into 2000s when Joel Osteen, king of the Self-Esteem booster sermon, began preaching.

It seems Osteen's aim is to let everyone know they're OK. More than OK, a masterpiece!

"See Yourself as a Masterpiece"..." all those thoughts of insecurity, inferiority and low self-esteem won't have a chance!"

Now self-esteem had finally come to Christianity. We know that depraved man in the secular world has always sought ways to feel better, via mind-altering drugs, to pop psychology. There is no way to feel better apart from God. However for the Christian it's a different story. This feeling of needing to have an ego boost is a new aspect of false doctrine. Paul wrote the first chapters of Romans expounding on how depraved and lost we are. In other words, we're NOT OK.

Before we know Jesus, we are depraved, sinful, and unable to do anything worth anything that pleases God.
Maslow's hierarchy of needs
After we are in Christ, we don't need self-esteem because we are co-heirs with Christ in heaven. On earth, we must strive to be humble, forgiving, live a quiet life, and serve others. All our esteem is Christ's, not ours, and it is He who helps us live as Christians.

However it was very important for the secular world to cling to the self-esteem movement and there is a reason why this also very negatively impacts Christianity: As Abraham Maslow observes,

"any doctrine of the innate depravity of man or any maligning of his animal nature very easily leads to some extra-human interpretation of goodness, saintliness, virtue, self-sacrifice, altruism, etc. If they can't be explained from within human nature—and explained they must be—then they must be explained from outside of human nature. The worse man is, the poorer a thing he is conceived to be, the more necessary becomes a god."

So you see, if there is no innate goodness in man, any goodness that exists, and man intuitively knows there is (Ecclesiastes 3:11), then that goodness must come from deity. If man is not good, then the good must be God. Therefore, psychology says in its everlasting denial of God, man is good, therefore we don't need God. 'I'm OK, You're OK' really means we're all OK without God. See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. Colossians 2:8

It's no wonder that men like Maslow and Harris knocked themselves out with trying to construct philosophies that deny man's innate depravity. It's why even preachers who call themselves Christians today like Osteen or Joyce Meyer etc cling to the self-esteem, full potential, we're all really OK mantra.

Seeing that the post-WWII world became more First World and wealth was abounding, especially in America, and people were reaching the top of Maslow's pyramid and self-actualizing, evil still existed. People were not OK. Later in life, Maslow was concerned with questions such as, "Why don't more people self-actualize if their basic needs are met? How can we humanistically understand the problem of evil?" He also wondered why evil existed in the majority of the people. Toward the end of his life, Maslow decided to study evil, so as 'to understand it'.

What got me started thinking about self-esteem is a verse that happened to pierce me deeply.

"For there was not left to Jehoahaz an army of more than fifty horsemen and ten chariots and ten
thousand footmen, for the king of Syria had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing." (2 Kings 13:7)

Do you know how small of a mote threshing dust is? Small. The LORD God had allowed the King of Syria to make His people into dust.

And not just the Israelites, but all people are in fact from dust and will return to dust.

"All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return." (Ecclesiastes 3:20)

Isaiah 40:15 says
"Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket, and are accounted as the dust on the scales; behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust."

DUST. Remember our former position and remember that even in Christ, He will grind the nations down like dust eventually. He is God. We are not, no matter how much self-esteem we try to load into our mind.

Our self esteem must always be tempered by the awareness of our own sinfulness, goes this good advice from a study of self-esteem from Romans 12:3 by Rev. Bruce Goettsche.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. (Romans 12:3)

And if you start thinking more highly of yourself than you ought, remember the dust.

Further Reading

How should a Christian view self-esteem?

The Humility of Love (vs the self-esteem cult)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

US company wants to bring free wi-fi to 100% of world: mark of the beast technology?

I enjoyed Rapture Ready editor Terry James's essay this week called Tribulation Technologies Tightening. The title is evocative, isn't it? Mr James said, "Things are progressing so quickly in the area of people-control technologies that I must admit I simply can’t keep up."

What he is referring to is the fact that during the prophesied 7-year tribulation period at the end of the end of days, certain technologies will have been developed which will aid certain events to come to pass. For example, this verse:

"He required everyone—small and great, rich and poor, free and slave—to be given a mark on the right hand or on the forehead. And no one could buy or sell anything without that mark, which was either the name of the beast or the number representing his name." (Revelation 13:16-17)

For it to come to fruition, first, there must exist some sort of tracking and identification technology that the antichrist and false prophet can even begin to catch up to and track each person, "everyone", in order to force them to take the mark. Second, there must be some sort of technology in place that tracks financial purchases at every point of sale so that people without the mark will be banned at that point of sale from buying anything.

Here is another verse where some sort of technology will exist that will become part of the verse's fulfillment:

"For three and a half days some from the peoples and tribes and languages and nations will gaze at their dead bodies and refuse to let them be placed in a tomb. and those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them and make merry and exchange presents, because these two prophets had been a torment to those who dwell on the earth." (Revelation 11:9-10)

This was an ancient way of saying 'the whole world.'

And how will the whole world gaze at their bodies for three and a half days, the mews getting around so fast that people have time to go out and buy and exchange gifts? Television. Satellite. Cell phones. But even then, there are many places in the world where people don't have electricity, or tv's or cell phones or cell phone coverage. Additionally, countries like China and North Korea have censored online activity, denying their citizenry the opportunity to view and participate in world news.

But now there's the following interesting news:
"There's really nothing that is technically impossible to this."
Company plans to beam free Wi-fi to every person on Earth from space
"[O]ne ambitious organisation called the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) is planning to turn the age of online computing on its head by giving free web access to every person on Earth. Known as Outernet, MDIF plans to launch hundreds of satellites into orbit by 2015. And they say the project could provide unrestricted Internet access to countries where their web access is censored, including China and North Korea. Using something known as datacasting technology, which involves sending data over wide radio waves, the New York-based company says they'll be able to broadcast the Internet around the world. The Outernet team claim that only 60% of the world's population currently have access to the wealth of knowledge that can be found on the Internet. This is because, despite a wide spread of Wi-FI devices across the globe, many countries are unable or unwilling to provide people with the infrastructure needed to access the web."

Well, the so-called outernet would certainly take care of the problem of 40% of the world not having access to instantaneous news, wouldn't it.

In other news I've been amazed at the speed with which America has declined. I was born in 1960, at a time when there was the gold standard, US astronauts zooming to the moon and back, winning the cold war, beating the Russians at Olympic Hockey, and being the world's sole superpower. Nothing was impossible and it seemed like the US could and would go on forever.

That was an illusion, as the 2007-2008 economic crash showed us. The National Review has a good article on the US decline.

The United States of Decline
America unravels at an increasingly dizzying pace. America is unraveling at a stunning speed and to a staggering degree. This decline is breathtaking, and the prognosis is dim. For starters, Obama now rules by decree. Reportedly for the 27th time, he has changed the rules of Obamacare singlehandedly, with neither congressional approval nor even ceremonial resolutions to limit his actions. Obama needs no such frivolities. “That’s the good thing about being president,” Obama joked on February 10. “I can do whatever I want.” In an especially bitter irony, Obama uttered these despicable words while guiding French president Fran├žois Hollande through Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson — a key architect of America’s foundation of limited government.
Earth’s sole superpower is sagging where it should be No. 1. America has slouched to No. 12 on the 2014 Heritage Foundation/Wall Street Journal Index of Economic Freedom. “Now considered only a ‘mostly free’ economy, the U.S. has earned the dubious distinction of having recorded one of the longest sustained declines in economic freedom, second only to Argentina, of any country in the [20-year] history of the Index,” the report states. “The U.S. is the only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years.”

In my personal opinion, having been an active and acute observer of American life and cultural mores for 50 years, the end is near. I am daily amazed at the implosion of just about every aspect of both American and global life. The decline of morals, the persecution of the Christian religion (higher now than ever in history), declining economy, craven entertainment, unscrupulous personal and governmental finances, rising lack of conscience, the emergence of technologies, church tares over-running the pews, extreme weather, geo-political collapses (Kiev anyone?), natural disasters, all occurring at once and so constantly, and with ever increasing extremity, all serve to show me and perhaps you too that truly the end is near.

The Lord has given his world 2000 years to heed the words of Messiah. What a gracious and long-suffering Savior we have. He said that He would build His church and that when it is complete the rapture would come and He would then turn His attention to finish the transgression of Israel. (Matthew 16:18, Romans 11:25, Daniel 9:24).

I believe the time is short to repent and become folded in to the beauty and certainty of the Lord's church. He will whisk His bride home and then unleash the worst wrath and times upon the earth that ever was or will be. (Matthew 24:21). Please heed these things. Please, please repent.

What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

Is repentance required for salvation?


The Doctrine of Repentance

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Be angry...but do not sin

Are you righteously angry? Even personally angry? It's OK ... within limits.

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger," (Ephesians 4:26)

Why should we deal with our anger right away? Because it is deceitful and it hardens us faster than you can say Jack Robinson.

"But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin." (Hebrews 3:13).

And why should we take care of our anger or other sin as long as it is "today"? Because it takes our eyes off Jesus.

"And He said, "Come!" And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" (Matthew 14:30).

How long did it take for Peter to sink after he took his eyes away? Immediately.

Ultimately the only thing our anger does is prevent us from producing righteousness.

"because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires." (James 1:20)

Only God's anger produces righteousness. Barnes Notes says of the James 1:20 verse, that human anger "Does not produce in the life that righteousness which God requires. Its tendency is not to incline us to keep the law, but to break it; not to induce us to embrace the truth, but the opposite...A man is never sure of doing right under the influence of excited feelings; he may do that which is in the highest sense wrong, and which he will regret all his life. The particular meaning of this passage is, that wrath in the mind of man will not have any tendency to make him righteous."


Further reading

How can I know for sure that my anger is righteous indignation?

"What does the Bible say about anger?"

Monday, February 17, 2014

God is making a Pointillist painting

We know that the church is a body, a united body of believers.

For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

The Holy Spirit ordains where each believer is to be and what gifts he is to have. He ordains where we are in the body so as to contribute to the good of the whole.

All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills (1 Corinthians 12:11)

It could be said that the Lord is painting a picture.

If you're familiar with the Impressionist movement of art that emerged in the late 1800s in Paris, then you're familiar with the works of Monet, Manet, Sisley, Renoir, & etc. These artists used short brush strokes to convey movement and impression, rather than precision. There was a sub-culture of the Impressionists called the Pointillists. Here is Georges Seurat's famous pointillist painting, "Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte"

As the website states,

Strictly speaking, Pointillism refers to the technique of using dots of pure color in such a way that, seen at the appropriate distance, they achieve maximum luminosity.
"Georges-Pierre Seurat made this technique famous. His painting,
Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte (1884-1888) is one of the most famous paintings in the world. ... At left you see a closeup of Seurat's painting. It is a closeup of the the man laying down on the lower left. Even thought he appears to be wearing white pants, as you can see, the part of the pants in the shadow just above the grass has no white in it. It's only when you look at it from a distance that the colors blend in. Seurat spent two years on this painting. He carefully planned it out with several sketches first."

It could be said, that the earth is the canvas and the people are the points of paint He daubs precisely here and there, working toward an end.

I've seen pointillist paintings at museums. You look very closely and all you can see are daubs of color. Dots. If you back away to a distance, you can see the scene clearly. It's amazing how the colors blend to make a seamless and beautiful picture.

We can think of ourselves as dots. We can't see the whole picture, we don't have the right perspective. God does. He puts a pink next to a blue and though all we can see is the blue next to us, we have to trust that the Great Artist is making something beautiful. Even if you don't like the color pink, you know and trust that the Artist's purposeful placement of it next to you will make the picture as a whole perfect when it is complete.

Just like heaven.

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 ...