Thursday, December 31, 2015

By the Numbers 2015: top trends, charts, earthquakes, and more

The year 2015 is over and we are looking at 2016. I'm personally excited to see what 2016 will hold. A group of men I've been praying for have planted a new church and it is going to be a God-honoring, expositional, doctrinally pure (as it can be), Reformed church. We are having a pre-launch prayer meeting January 10 and the first service will be January 31. It's being planted at the border of a city of 166,000 and a town of 160. The proximity to both city and rural counties means we can reach people of various backgrounds. There is a demographic of diversity in the area from farmers to young families to new arrivals from other countries to established city families. Since Christ’s bride will be multiethnic (Rev 5:9), the leaders of the new church would like our church to begin to reflect the diversity of heaven and selected this location. God then provided the facility.

The pastor-teacher of our new church is a man whom I have had the privilege of seeing God mature quickly over the last few years. He is an astounding expositional preacher, and I'm not kidding when I say it's like a mini-Pentecost every time he opens the Word and preaches it. The elder men have nurtured and discipled him for ten years and the elders believe he is ready. Now is the moment.

It is a huge relief to know I have a church to go to, after the years of seeing what failure to employ church discipline does to a gathering, after seeing what spiritual abuse does to a congregation, after seeing plagiarizing pastors go unchallenged. The emails I've received from women thirsty and crying for Godly men and a church that at least majors in the majors has had my voice silently added to them all the while. Now, please rejoice with me to praise God for what He is doing and what He will do in our section of rural Georgia in and through the people He will bring to our new church.

I was saved in 2004 and then moved to GA in 2006 and the Lord put a heart for prophecy in me. I was firmly convinced in 2006 that 2006 would be the year of the rapture. I was convinced of it in 2007 and 2008 and 2009 and 2010 and 2011 and 2012 and 2013 and 2014 and 2015 and I say now, that 2016 will be the year of the rapture. Am I discouraged that these years have passed with no trumpet calling me bodily home? Not at all! I am MORE excited than ever! It just means that for ten times I've had the privilege of waiting and hoping expectantly for my Lord! It's going to happen. It could happen any second! The Doctrine of Imminence is true. More on that in another blog essay here!

I live with the thrill of knowing this. I live with the hope of knowing His return is imminent. The Lord has declared it and it will come to pass in His timing. This is a sure thing.

If you've followed this blog for very long you know I have a fascination with earthquakes and sinkholes. I don't live in a highly seismic area, though we had a house-shaker in here Georgia last year, this year was quiet. It's just the notion of the ground which seems so solid suddenly turning liquid. Or shaking and opening up in cracks. Nothing else in my opinion shows the sovereignty of the LORD as much as earthquakes do. On a daily, regular visible, basis that is.

Jesus said that the time of the end will contain more quakes and in diverse places. (Matthew 24:7).

At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens." (Hebrews 12:26)

Let's look at a long-term trend of global quakes. I update this table every year. Click to enlarge.


The average trend is still a heightened number of quakes. In 2003 we saw the beginning of meeting or exceeding the USGS number of average quakes, an average the USGS has settled on since beginning to track quakes in 1900. The first year where all four of the major magnitudes' averages were smashed was in 2009. The number of quakes has stayed high every year since. 2012 showed a slight lessening, with "only" two of the four magnitudes averages falling below the USGS number of average quakes for that year. 2014 saw a smashing of the average in the 5.0-5.9 magnitude category. In 2015 that trend is continuing.

Time will tell what 2016 will bring.

Oklahoma continues to be shaken daily by quakes. This is from a report in Tulsa World on November 23, 2015
Oklahomans remain shaken up as the state blasts through its earthquake record from only a year ago. In August Oklahoma surpassed 2014’s banner year of 584 earthquakes of 3.0 magnitude or greater. In 2015, Oklahoma Geological Survey data show a staggering 802 quakes of those magnitudes through Sunday afternoon. ...Through Sunday afternoon, Oklahoma has been rocked by 31 magnitude-4 or greater earthquakes in 2015, according to Oklahoma Geological Survey data.


Chart by EPrata generated from USGS data

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Other trends and numbers:

Florida population tops 20 million
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Florida's population has now topped 20 million people. ... At last, on Tuesday, the census made it official: Florida's population in 2015 reached 20,271,272. Only California (39,144,818) and Texas (27,469,114) had more people, according to the bureau. That means Florida — which until the middle of the 20th century had the smallest population of any Southern state — now has more people in it than the nation of Chile. Look out Syria and Sri Lanka, you're next.
But before you start packing your bags, the Sunshine State is also "No. 1 for sinkholes, lightning strikes, shark bites and concealed weapons permits."
Speaking of Sinkholes...The Siberian Times reported this past May-

Sinkhole gets bigger in city plagued by giant craters
Officials promise to monitor situation after four-fold increase in size since February.

Closer to home, this happened in Brooklyn. Now, oftentimes sinkholes occur because of leaking water mains underneath the ground. This is a natural effect of water, and I never post those kind of sinkholes or comment on them. But the mysterious sinkholes, or at least, the ones experts have not yet been able to explain, those are the ones that grab my attention. Imagine, just walking along and suddenly falling into a hole that the ground had opened up under your feet! Nothing in this life is solid, except the faith in Jesus Christ in His persevering hand. So the ground opening up suddenly is representative of just how vaporous and insubstantial to his life really is!


The Holy Land is not immune.

Dead Sea sinkholes increasing in number as water level recedes
Sinkholes are gathering up fast on the banks of the Dead Sea, posing danger to tourists drawn by the healing powers of the mineral laden waters. This is happening because fresh groundwater is rising up and dissolving the salt to leave behind large cavities underground. The sinkholes are forming above this, Hanan Ginat, a geologist and academic chairman of the Dead Sea and Arava Research Center, in Israel told Live Science. The Dead Sea water surface is currently receding by about three feet (one metre) per year mostly due to diversion of water from the Jordan river and mineral mining in the south. First observed in the 70s, the number of sinkholes along the Dead Sea banks is now increasing and there are almost 4000 today.
Yet God has a great restoration in store for the Dead Sea!! This passage is called The Millennial River, written by MiddleTown Bible Church
A key test for whether a person interprets the prophetic Word literally is the river that is described in Ezekiel 47 and in other places in the Old Testament. This amazing river will originate from the house of the LORD (compare Joel 3:18) as a very shallow stream. 
Gradually the stream will get deeper and fuller until it is over a man's head. It eventually travels east until it empties into the Dead Sea which will then be a terrible misnomer because the waters of the Dead Sea will be turned into fresh water teeming with fish (see Ezekiel 47:1-10). It will be the Living Sea! 
In Zechariah 14:8 we learn that half of this river will empty into the Dead Sea and half of the river will empty into the Mediterranean Sea. This river is also mentioned in Psalm 46:4 (and notice the context in Psalm 46:9-10 which clearly speaks of the kingdom).
Manfred Kober has provided the following illustration of the future topography of the Holy Land showing this amazing river of life flowing into the two great seas:
I do not endorse Middletown Bible Church but merely place the illustration here
as a visual enhancement to the prophecy of the Millennial River in Ez 47


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APOSTASY

Every generation endures an increasing level of apostasy. (2 Timothy 3:1-5, Matthew 24:12). That is because Jesus foretold it in the end times, and the end times occur between His ascension and His return. So it stands to reason that within an 80 year lifespan, a man would notice things getting worse. I listen to S. Lewis Johnson, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, and other men who preached in the early part of the twentieth century, and I also read Spurgeon who preached in the 1800s. These men all mourned the rising apostasy. Spurgeon was famous for preaching against the Downgrade.

However, I personally believe that the last 15 years has seen not only an acceleration of the apostasy but an exponential increase. Even in the 1990s when the fundamentals were being watered down, the American church never would have tolerated the silliness that passes for preaching and ministry today. Pastors zip-lining into the sanctuary? Preachers demanding a jet? Women being regularly ordained as pastors in mainline denominations? Acceptance of homosexuality in leaders and pastors? Visions and ecstatic utterances passing for worship? No. In my opinion the Lord is showing us how inflated the false church has really become.

Since true Christianity is declining, our institutions are being eroded at a rate that has passed a tipping point in my opinion. Absolutely crumbling. This includes the institution of marriage. Picture a dam that has withstood rising flood waters, but underneath the rushing waters there have been massive holes punched through. All of a sudden the dam collapses. The suddenness of the collapse sparks a flood, but the erosion had actually been going on a long time.

Here is one just such a silly article.

Divorced Influential blogger bemoans five reasons why the age-old institution of marriage "just doesn't work anymore"
His reasons,

1. There's not enough sex
2. Marriage is too expensive
3. Marriage is boring, dude
4. Social media diverts attention away from my own fame
5. Social media distracts him from having a good time on vacation, or something

But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:20b-24)

Marriage is an institution ordained by God. Problems are rampant, but can be overcome in Christian marriages where attitudes of patience, sacrifice, and the devoted choice of love can be cultivated by the Spirit. Without the Spirit's strengthening and guidance, and union under Christ's headship, marriages have little chance today, I admit. With fewer true Christians around and more secular marriages happening, it's no wonder that it seems like marriage as an institution is failing. Women are taught in secular life that it is a 50-50 institution. But that's wrong. In Christ, marriage is a 100-100 exchange, or that is the goal anyway. How can a marriage survive when half of what a person has in them is held back, selfishly? No wonder the poor guy is bemoaning his marital loss.

Are Americans giving up on marriage?
May 2015
So what does marriage in the U.S. look like these days? A recent study from the Pew Research Center found a number of interesting trends in their most recent look at marriage in America. For one, the study found that after years of declining marriage rates, the percentage of Americans who have never been married has reached a historic high point.
The research indicates that about one in five adults in the U.S. (adult in this case meaning 25 years old or older), or about 42 million Americans, have never been married. Compare that to data from the 1960 Census when just one in ten adults 25 or older had never been married, or about 9% of all American adults; clearly, marriage isn’t the institution it once was. 
It’s interesting to note that while divorce rates in the U.S. hit an impressive 40-year low in 2009, it may not have been for all the warm and fuzzy reasons we all might have liked. Bloomberg notes that the primary reason divorce rates took a nosedive during the recession was because most people could not afford them. Divorce necessitates more expenses than just legal fees, after all. Often the separated parties are looking for new housing or new jobs on top of adjusting out of a failed marriage. In this sense it’s logical that as the economy stabilizes, people who have long been unhappy are taking the opportunity to jump ship. The data supports this, as the number of Americans getting divorced rose for the third year in a row to about 2.4 million in 2012.
How about the Bible? How's it faring? Good news--

Record number of Bible distributed by Bible societies
2014 saw the highest number of printed Bibles ever distributed by Bible Societies around the world. Nearly 34 million full Bibles were distributed, a rise of 6% over 2013’s figures, and 14% higher than the number distributed in the first year of the decade.
Source

Bad news!

According to a Barna State of the Bible report for 2015, 88% of American households own a Bible. However, practically no one reads it. (Note, Barna includes Catholics in their statistics as part of the faithful)
The total proportion of Bible readers—that is, those who read the Bible at least three to four times a year—is 52%. One in seven adults say they read the Bible daily (14%); a similar portion spend time in Scripture several times per week (14%); 8% read it once a week; 9% read the Bible once a month; and 6% read it three to four times a year. Slightly more than one in four adults say they never read the Bible (28%). One in 10 read the Bible less than once a year and another one in 10 report reading the Bible once or twice a year. These three segments combine to represent “nonBible readers” (48%), a segment that has grown by two percentage points since 2014.
BibleGateway puts up a pretty thorough roundup at the end of each year in a year end review. Here is their list of most-searched-for Bible verses, in order.

MOST-POPULAR BIBLE VERSES IN 2015

Here are the overall most-popular Bible verses in 2015 on Bible Gateway:

Rank Verse Text (NIV)
1. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
2. Jer 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
3. Phil 4:13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.
4. Rom 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
5. Ps 23:4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
6. Phil 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
7. Rom 12:2  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
8. Prov 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
9. 1 Cor 13:7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
10. Prov 3:6 In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.

BibleGateway posted the top 100 most popular Bible verses in 2014 also, and not one had the word "repent" in it.  In 2015 at least coming in at 53 was the verse in 2 Chronicles where the LORD said if His people repent from their wicked ways and humble themselves... Other than that verse, the word 'sin' didn't make the top 50. Or the top 60. The first time a searched-for verse mentioned sin was number 75, in Romans 6:23 the wages of sin is death.

Not surprisingly, the top 25 search terms did not have any of the following searched-for terms in the list: wrath, sin, wicked, repent, or any version of judge/judgement. Like Joel Osteen, people only want the good news, not the bad news of our sin and depravity. Christianity Today summarized the trend.
These verses are predominately of reassurance and comfort. They fit with the most common keyword searches at Bible Gateway. “Love,” “faith,” “peace,” and other positive and comforting search terms dominate that list, which has a strong devotional focus and shows little sign of the “culture war” rhetoric you might expect from the tone of American cultural and political discourse this year. 
Overall, I'm encouraged by these statistics. To be sure, they point to challenges for the church. There's a clear disconnect between Bible readers and parts of the Old Testament. That's not surprising news. More noteworthy is the very clear inspirational focus of the most-popular verses. It is wonderful to see the resonating power of these beautiful verses confirmed so strongly in our report. But reading through them, I can't help but notice that while these verses certainly reflect what most of us want to get out of God's Word, they're not thematically representative of the entirety of the Bible. 
Years ago, Collin Hansen noticed this trend while reading through popular verses from Bible Gateway's 2011 list (a list that overlaps heavily with 2015's):
Overall the list represents a nice cross-section of Scripture and tells an uplifting story of God’s work in the world. From this list we learn that when most people turn to Scripture, they’re often looking for encouragement. They cling to these verses trusting that God is working for their good, giving them strength, planning their hopeful future, and calming their anxieties by answering their requests. If nothing else, these results help those of us who regularly preach and teach the Bible understand how many Christians and even non-Christians use the Bible.... [But] you won’t learn from this list why God needs to redeem the world he created. You won’t learn why his love is so significant.
There's a good challenge there. We don't necessarily want to convince you to switch your favorite Bible quote from John 3:16 to a downbeat verse from Lamentations. But there is value—and theological significance—in venturing outside those familiar, comfortable verses and into the less popular corners of Scripture. In 2016, try searching out the justice-obsessed sermons of those neglected Old Testament prophets.

So...people own Bibles, don't read them, and when they do, search out only the personally uplifting verses. Got it.


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Culture

With rising apostasy, diminishing reliance of God-honoring institutions like marriage, and biblical literacy increasing, it is no wonder the culture is growing dark too. The Huffington Post reported at mid-year the highs and lows of cultural attainment thus far.

Here are some of my own lowlights

Bruce Jenner turned into Caitlyn
TV Family Man Bill Cosby rape allegations
Fifty Shades of Grey movie
Duggars
Topless Women Day in NYC
Trump/politics
Tullian Tchividjian
Obergefell v. Hodges- SCOTUS says gay is OK, (marriage that is)
Mark Driscoll

Oi, need I go on! No I don't! We all know we're living in Corinth. Or Pergamum where satan's throne is. (Rev 2:13).

Fortunately, Jesus' robes are white and He has declared us clean. His church is clothed in righteousness and it is spotless. The Year 2016 will be spectacular for the main reason is that Jesus still saves. Souls will be reconciled to His bosom, hearts of stone will melt like wax and refill with love for Jesus. Mighty works will be done is His name and He will be pleased. No matter how large the false church gets (and it's pretty big) there remains a true church of Jesus Christ, waiting His return in glory and triumph. Happy New Year!

Here are 10000 sparklers lit up for the joy of His name! (Or, otherwise a funny Youtube video by some Russian guys)





Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The End Time blog: Year in Review

I like end of year lists, retrospectives, and charts. I don't enjoy looking backward regularly, but once per year I do enjoy seeing the milestones and stepping stones of progress in life and in sanctification.

According to Google Analytics, if I am reading it correctly, this year The End Time received 670,000 sessions. The All Time number of page views since founding the blog nearly 7 years ago on January 9, 2009 is over 6.5 million. I don't know if page views differs from sessions, lol. I don't examine the Analytics that much or worry about numbers. The Holy Spirit will bring whom He wants to this blog.

There are other blogs of secular and Christian nature certainly that receive more views, but the numbers speak to me, just one middle-aged lady in a small Georgia town. It is a heavy responsibility knowing that if even 1 person views 1 page at any time, that what is written here magnifies the Lord. Have I handled the Word carefully? Have I exalted Christ? Or myself? Do I point people in His direction with love and occasional admonishment? Or am I a wayward "discernment diva" criticizing for no reason? The way is narrow, Jesus said, and once a Christian is on the path it doesn't get any broader. As a matter of fact, it narrows, as I strive not only to stay on His narrow path in obedience to His statutes but on the very center line on the narrow path- not wishing to stray even for an inch or for an hour.

As for this year's blog trends, some annual trends remain the same year after year. After a large earthquake, the hits spike tremendously. I'm fascinated by earthquakes too. My Annual EQ trend chart will be updated and posted on the 31st. There is something at once terrifying and supernatural to think that the seemingly solid ground one is standing on, built a house on, drives on, can in an instant turn liquid, or worse, open up and swallow you or a whole town. Quakes shake people up down to their soul, which is the point I suppose, if the Language of Earthquakes holds true.

Apart from seekers trying to make sense of the world after an earthquake or other terrible disaster by searching the internet and landing here, I never know what will rise to the top in any given year. Usually it's the least likely blog post that sticks.

For example, the all time blog post that has gotten the most views is improbably the one where I wrote against the sideways necklace. SMH. I try not to have human pride in what I write, but sheesh, one would pray that a more spiritual essay would be the one that got people to read here and perhaps become strengthened or better yet, come to know Jesus. But noooo, a necklace. Oh well! SDG.

And coming in second in the all time hits department is a blood moon debunking essay. The third is the one where Harold Camping made a false prediction of rapture on May 21 2011 Rapture and a New York man sold all his earthly goods prior to the alleged doom date. The damage that wacky eschatology or fallen, hypocritical pastors do to the faith is incalculable. People remember the damage and it either makes Jesus a laughingstock in their eyes or hardens them against Him. We all must be so careful--

because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme (2 Samuel 12:14)

The all time most popular posts are:


The top posts of this year 2015 have been, in descending order:

3/27/15 Dr David Jeremiah's shocking apostasy. 24,455 views.
That one really got people going, Even 9 months later I still receive comments on the essay every few days.

8/31/15 Why I do not recommend Kendrick Brothers' new movie, "War Room", part 1, 15,752 views
9/1/15 Why I do not recommend Kendrick Brothers' new movie, "War Room", part 2 15,523 views

I'm glad to see the top three essays were of the discernment arena, one of the three arenas in which I write, the other two being encouragement and prophecy. I pray that people who come here or go to one of the linked blogs here will be edified and educated in the faith, so as to know Jesus better. Strip away the false! Our eyes will then behold him more brightly and more truthfully.

4/25/15 Nepal's large quake: a tragedy and an opportunity 6,812 views

There is always a huge quake and always people searching for meaning in the tragedy of either natural disaster or man-made terror. I am pleased to offer encouragement in the Lord's name. For Christians who read essays like the one above, I pray they can be comforted in truth. For those without Christ who are searching for why these things happen, I pray they find comfort in coming to know Him, because ultimately He is the ONLY comfort.

8/19/15 John MacArthur confronted by intruder mounting the stage during Sunday Service 5,360 views

It was nice to see how loved JMac is and how protective people are of him.

11/13/15 Paris terror attack, Japan earthquake 4,500 views

As I said, tragedies and quakes always get people searching.

4/1/15 (Updated) Why I won't be watching the miniseries A.D.: The Bible Continues (And I hope you won't be either) 4,001 views
3/20/15 A Christian Astronomer debunks the blood moon theory from both a scientific and a biblical perspective 3,889 views

More discernment, good.

1/1/15 She Reads Truth, IF:Gathering, and women bible teachers. Part 4: Women teachers 3,886 views

The previous essay in the She Reads Truth series was technically posted in 2014, Dec 31, so I didn't include it, but it received over 5000 views. I was glad. The invisible arenas that technology affords are often used by satan as a sluice-way of falsity, and the devastating doctrines that the She Reads Truth ladies promote on these ether airways needed to be highlighted.

Often times when someone wants to defend a false teacher I've highlighted in discernment essays, I receive the charge that any criticism should warrant engaging with them personally. "Did you go to them?!" Sigh. It isn't necessary, and that's another topic, but I did engage personally with two of the She Reads Truth women. One was concerned but kind, one was angry. I pray that both took to heart my admonishment as a Titus 2 elder trying to reach the younger. (I am a lot older then both of them)

6/22/15 (UPDATED & UPDATED) Tullian Tchividjian: It's not the celebrity pastor, megachurch model that is the problem 3,442 views

What an embarrassing grief, when a pastor falls. It is SUCH A BLOT on our name as Christians and against the name of Jesus. If you remember, Tchividjian resigned his mega-church pastorate on the disclosures of adultery and later, divorce. Tchividjian happens also to be the grandson of Billy Graham. Our behavior directly reflects on Jesus. Ladies, we are

to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:5 )

The overall trend is slowly but inexorably up. I don't advertise or relentlessly promote so this is all by the Spirit. I'm grateful for each and every visitor, even my faithful trolls, stalkers, and cranks. I am thrilled to read the readers' thoughts. So many of you write so insightfully and educate me through your comments! Thank you also for the emails and questions which keep me sharp and the encouragement and sometimes the gifts. I appreciate ALL of it and ALL of you. Thank you Lord for for the brethren.

I want to thank those who linked to the blog also. Glenn at The Watchmans' Bagpipes especially, coming in at #1 in referrals. Thank you to Erin at Do Not Be Surprised and Jan at Olive Tree Views and The Aquila Report and Facebook. Facebook was #2 in referrals, and Mobile Facebook was #6. I value each and every referral and if I ever regretted starting two FB pages now I don't. It is a powerful tool for getting the message out. Of course it's also a powerful tool to stumble, so hence the weight of responsibility and the ever present need to rely on the Spirit to carry the burden and keep me humble.



So that's the blog this year. I believe I posted every day and sometimes more. The Lord organized my life so I'd have time and He gave me the talent of writing. He saved me in His grace and put me to work using the talent for His glory (I hope). As long as he continues to give me strength, insight, and time I will continue. And I pray--

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)


Beth Moore launching a new TV program on TBN (updated)

Michelle Lesley posted a note that Beth Moore is launching a weekly television program on TBN next week. She wrote:



One of the behaviors that illustrate bad fruit and indicate a teacher's falseness is who a person chooses to associate with. I have written in the past about Moore's association with the Osteens, both Joel and Victoria, and her manning the pulpit at Lakewood Church. I've also written about Moore's donations to Lakewood "for ministry support" to the tune of over $40,000.  Moore has more recently partnered with Joyce Meyer, a blasphemously heretical teacher, on Meyer's TV program. Moore associates with Christine Caine and Roma Downey as well, and the list could go on. Far from being the Southern Baptist Convention's conservative and excellently exegetical darling, Moore is a false teacher leading millions of women astray every day.

The Bible warns us about false teachers. The moral and doctrinal purity of the church is something Jesus takes extremely seriously. To show the seriousness, He killed Ananias and Sapphira on the spot in Acts 5 for lying to the Spirit. To continue to illustrate how serious He is about the moral and doctrinal purity of the church, the Spirit inspired almost every NT writer to repeat the warnings, and caused many them to write many commands on what to do when encountering such doctrines and the people who bring them. Here are just two:

If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting, (2 John 1:10)

I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them. (Romans 16:17)

To stay away doesn't mean not to be polite if passing in the hall, or if coincidentally attending the same secular event not to acknowledge their presence. It bespeaks of conscious choices to partner with heretics in religious pursuits. It means to deliberately choose to spend time with false teachers in Christian endeavors. Can two walk together except they be agreed? Amos 3:3 asks. Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers 2 Corinthians 6:14 warns, of fellowshipping with people who do not believe as we do.

So when we see that Moore has chosen to partner with such heretics, it speaks volumes. Here is the TBN lineup on Wednesdays:


The people on that list couldn't be more heretical if they tried. Wolves run in packs. Please, please be warned about Beth Moore. The Lord is lifting the veneer of Christianity from her very quickly now. He is revealing her false behaviors, false words, false teachings, and false associations more and more obviously. However, there are still too many women who either don't know about her falseness or refuse to believe it.

A little leaven spoils the lump, and Moore possesses a lot of leaven. Beware.

FMI on why Moore is false, please go to my link All Beth Moore Critiques Here in One Place. You'll find 50 links from me, other women, and men & pastors who have negatively critiqued her teaching by comparing it to scripture. Scroll down.




Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Have ye so little faith? SBC President Ronnie Floyd at IHOP; a discernment lesson

The President of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) last night appeared on the stage at the One Thing conference with one of Christianity's biggest false prophets and the leader of a hugely growing cult, Mike Bickle of the International House of Prayer Kansas City (IHOPKC). Why did Mr Floyd do this? He explained early in his speech, from what he can see of the world, the storm has come and it demands urgency of action.
"When it feels like the ship is sinking, everyone needs to grab a bucket."—Ronnie Floyd President of the Southern Baptist Convention, explaining why he appeared at at IHOPKC (cult) One Thing conference on Dec 28, 2015.
We are to be urgent in Christian action, redeeming the time spent for our Lord in His work. But do the times demand blind panic, partnering with darkness, and other pragmatic man-made moves that display our urgency, misguided though it may be? Should 'the times' be the prompt for action instead of the Gospel? No.

I spent a good deal of ink in another blog post explaining the context of the situation. This essay which follows is what they call in writing class an 'explode the moment' or honing in to focus minutely on a particular aspect of the context. In this case, it's the biblical scene on the boat when the disciples asked if Jesus cared or not that they might be perishing. Let's use this for a discernment lesson. Sadly, it's a reverse lesson, as Mr Floyd's actions unwittingly teach us what NOT to do.

Peace Be Still, Arnold Friberg
And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith? (Mark 4:37-40)

Mr Floyd, have you so little faith? The boat is not sinking. (Mark 4:37-40, Matthew 14:31, Luke 8:25). Did the disciples grab a bucket? We know the answer.
carest thou not that we perish?—Unbelief and fear made them sadly forget their place, to speak so. Luke has it, “Lord, save us, we perish.” When those accustomed to fish upon that deep thus spake, the danger must have been imminent. They say nothing of what would become of Him, if they perished; nor think, whether, if He could not perish, it was likely He would let this happen to them; but they hardly knew what they said.

And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful?—There is a natural apprehension under danger; but there was unbelief in their fear. It is worthy of notice how considerately the Lord defers this rebuke till He had first removed the danger, in the midst of which they would not have been in a state to listen to anything.

how is it that ye have no faith?—next to none, or none in present exercise. In Matthew (Mt 8:26) it is, “Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith?” Faith they had, for they applied to Christ for relief: but little, for they were afraid, though Christ was in the ship. Faith dispels fear, but only in proportion to its strength. (Jamieson, Fausset & Brown, Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible)
These were seasoned fishermen. They knew when a storm as raging enough to swamp a ship. In their case, the waves actually were overtowering the ship, and they rightly knew conditions were the foundering sort. Paul knew when the ship was in peril, Jonah knew. I've been in a mighty storm on a small yacht. Seamen know when the storm imperils lives. We don't blame the men for fearing.

But when fear comes, especially when it is a fear based on what man's eyes can see, the proof in the pudding is how you deal with the situation.

I know of a small, rural SBC church that hired another pastor after their long-term pastor left. The new pastor made lots of exegetical mistakes in preaching. Some left. The new pastor had an unfortunate (and disqualifying) tendency to rough anger. More left. Sunday attendance numbers couldn't be explained away any longer by "those who are sick with the flu going around" or "those who are traveling this holiday weekend". Attendance was declining and it showed. So, events were held to grab more people and get them in. Evangelists were hired. Inflatables were inflated. Hot dogs were eaten. Those pragmatic approaches did not work. So more left. Panic set in. Tithes dipped below healthy levels, and the wild eyed panic turned to fear. The smell of desperation caused more to leave. Therefore, anger abounded and it was taken out on staff. Staff left. So more people left with the staff. Sermons now focused on tithing, or on rebuking those who stayed. So even more left.

You see the circle-the-drain pragmatic approach does not work. The disciples in the boat could have furiously bailed. They could have tossed one of them overboard like Jonah. They could have hove to or gone under bare poles. They could have prayed. Instead, they panicked.

Jesus rebuked the sea and then rebuked the men. But notice that the fear they had of the storm was replaced in spades by fear of what they had seen Jesus do. He has power over the weather and sea and waves, and instantly they obeyed Him. The men became exceedingly terrified. I'd imagine that if the IHOP people were ever to see a REAL miracle they would not only become terrified, they would drop dead of heart attacks on the spot.

Jesus IS the calm. Always rely on Him.
He knew a storm was coming. He knew. But He had no concern. It was the sleep of fearlessness. It was the sleep of trust. It was the sleep of sovereignty. It was the sleep of omnipotence. He knew He could awaken at any moment and stop the storm. (source)
When it feels like the ship is sinking, one does not run around in a panic, begging those with theological unorthodoxy to join in bailing the boat. That displays lack of faith and is an action motivated by fear.
And then once He stilled the storm, verse 25 says, He said to them, "Where's your faith? "Where's your faith? I'm sure they were hanging their heads. That was embarrassing. That was shameful. Oh, we saw Him raise the dead, we saw Him control the fish, we saw Him cast out demons, we saw Him heal all those people. This is embarrassing. Where's your faith? Couldn't you believe Me for this? (source)
Can't we believe Jesus that He is building His church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it? Is the ship foundering? No.

Yes, there is excess water in the ship because false teaching brings it. Yes there is excess baggage in the ship, weighing it down because the sin within false doctrine is heavy. (Psalm 38:4). Mr Floyd's action to partner with those who weigh down the faith is counter-productive and a bad example of what to do in discernment situations. When the waves threaten to overpower, you don't pragmatically look for hands to bail the ship, you look to the one who calms the storm. It is not a situation of "any port in a storm" but the One who creates the port. And the storm. And the calm.

When we see our church local or global seems to be faltering, as Mr Floyd did, he was seeing through man's eyes. Jesus' church is not foundering. But sometimes a local church does die. Or sometimes as a church is diminishing in numbers, Jesus makes a move through the members' prayer. I know of another small, local SBC church where the members had died or drifted away. It was a long-term church, it had been existing a long time in that spot. But it was small now and it was dying. The leaders prayed. Along came a contingent of pastors and leaders who wanted to plant a new church, and felt led to ask the dying church to rent their space. It was the answer to prayer, and a new church was planted inside the old church. The old church hadn't panicked. They hadn't gone around to the Mormons and the Seventh Day Adventists and the Catholics, false 'christians' all, and asked to partner, giving the excuse that the times warranted drastic action. No, they kept their eyes on Jesus, were patient, and they prayed.

When the storm comes, discernment is all the more needed. Panic, fear, and distress will make a person want to make bad decisions. Even the fervency of a person like Mr Floyd who seems to love the faith enough to want revival and want people to pray, can perform wrong-headed actions if motivated by fear from seeing things through a man-made perspective.

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, (Philippians 1:9-10 )




Mr Floyd, why did you load a piano in the canoe? Thoughts on SBC, IHOPKC and discernment

Last night in Kansas City at the International House of Prayer, leader Mike Bickle appeared on stage at their One Thing conference. It is an annual conference, attended by thousands of college aged and youth seeking 'a fresh word from the Spirit' to put it in their carnal vernacular. That in itself is newsworthy, because IHOPKC as they are known, is a house of heretics damaging the church of Jesus Christ and polluting His doctrine. As Pastor Phil Johnson put it, Mr Bickle
admits with a grin that 80 percent of the phenomena in the thousands of charismatic meetings he has sponsored and participated in have been utterly false—phony, fraudulent, fleshly—totally and completely fake. Bickle insists that’s not a problem. He is willing to “allow the false for the sake of the real.”
To see so many gathered at IHOP KC One Thing hurts my heart and spirit just as much as when I see the UK newspapers publish photos of the solstice pagan ceremonies at Stonehenge. The two events are no different. Pagans worshiping made-up gods, wasted flesh, and blackened spirits wallowing in sin is a spectacle no Christian ever wants to see. But it is a spectacle every true Christian knows they will see, because that is the world, and satan is the god of it. (1 Corinthians 4:4, Ephesians 2:2).

Left, ancient pagan ceremony with obelisks,
right, modern pagan ceremony with obelisks

Top, pagan priestess leading worship at Stonehenge
bottom, pagan priestess leading worship at OneThing
many false prophets will arise, and will lead many astray. (Matthew 24:11)

But even more disheartening than to watch thousands of blind and misguided youths praising their blind leader guiding them to the pit (Matthew 15:14) is to see a yoking of darkness with light and a leader who was thought to be in the light suddenly developing a blind spot.

The Southern Baptist Convention has historically been the one denomination considered to be the most conservative and the most protective of the inerrant authority of the Word of God. It has historically been strong on doctrine and diligent in the practice of living a holy life, Occasionally that practice has worked itself out in publicly repudiating false teachers or dismissing wayward churches from their fellowship. Just last month a South Carolina church was booted from SBC membership over the doctrine of female pastorship. In another recent case, the SBC has removed from membership local churches for their unbiblical stance on homosexuality. When it comes to social issues like feminism or homosexuality, the SBC has historically and recently been strong.

What is lesser known is the SBC's waffling stance on doctrine. Though the origins of the historical SBC began with a clear positive stance on Calvinism and has deep roots in the Convention, in these latter years, the doctrines of grace and those who hold to them have been repudiated in turmoil. Nevertheless, the SBC's adherence to biblical authority and a clear proclamation of the Gospel, with firm walls to keep out the liberalism and falsity, has generally been the SBC's hallmark.

Until now.

No, I'm not being overly dramatic.

John Park at Christian Research and Apologetics Ministry wrote a good paper on The Dangers of the International House of Prayer. Please read it to understand why partnering with IHOPKC is so dangerous and actually a blot on the name of Jesus Christ. For example, IHOP founder Mike Bickle said he had a vision where he was raised to the throne room of God and stood at the Lord's left hand.Our God is gracious for not smiting Bickle on the spot as He did with Ananias and his lies to the Spirit. Bickle has uttered many "prophecies" some of which had a date to them which has passed with no fulfillment. Bickle has taught that he and his disciples are the true disciples and are anointed to usher in the second coming of Jesus Christ. In addition, multiple ministries have indexed IHOP as a cult. Sources are at the CARM article linked above.

Yet when invited the SBC president Ronnie Floyd accepted the invitation to partner with Bickle and speak at the One Thing conference.

Many were shocked that such a historically conservative denomination's President would partner with such a grossly blasphemous cult, but held out hope that perhaps Floyd intended to employ the biblical mandate of leaders to rebuke the false and plead for repentance. (Titus 2:1, Titus 1:11). In discernment, one does not throw out years of solid labor when one potential misstep arises. One is patient, waits to see outcomes, prays, and hopes for the best though keeping their discernment radar tuned up. I was one of those hoping fervently that would be the case. Sadly, it wasn't.

Floyd came out with guns blazing, firmly setting aside theological differences stating the obvious, that
"we do not agree on secondary matters of life, prayer or even the bible." 
The Bible is a secondary issue? So with all those differences, many of them assuredly not secondary, why partner? Because, Floyd wants to pray. He wants a revival.
I'm not here tonight not to highlight our theological differences, but to bend my knee alongside you to pray..." R Floyd
One must ask the obvious, to whom does Mr Floyd expect an IHOP initiate to pray? What KIND of prayers are they praying? There is a right way to pray and a wrong way. Prayers can be wrong you know. The wrong people can pray them. And to which Jesus? A general call to the wicked to perform any kind of prayer does no good, because God will not hear any old prayers. (John 9:31, Proverbs 15:29). Praying to a made-up idol the false convert calls "Jesus" does no one any good and in fact does much harm.

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, (Isaiah 29:13)

But among the many words spoken by Mr Floyd at IHOP last night there is one thing I want to focus on. Mr Floyd's pragmatic call. IHOPKC tweeted this:
"When it feels like the ship is sinking, everyone needs to grab a bucket.."—Ronnie Floyd, on unity in the Body of Christ #Onething2015
There was another one who thought the boat was sinking, but he was wrong.

And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. 38Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, "Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?" (Mark 4:37-38)

And what did Jesus say to them? HAVE YOU NO FAITH? (Mark 4:40). Mr Floyd, have you so little faith? The boat is not foundering.

Mr Floyd said that about the boat and the bucket at the beginning of his speech and it is a devastating indictment on everything a true Christian should stand for. We do not open the doors to one and all simply because 'the times' seems to call for drastic action. We do not display so little faith, as Jesus admonished. Here is why Mr Floyd's appearance at One Thing, why his pragmatism is misguided, and why it is futile. Though of course we know the ship of state, the church of Jesus Christ is not sinking, do you know why it feels like it is?

Because of IHOP.
Because of false doctrine that Bickle promotes.
Because of the acceptance of an errant Bible and exalted personal revelations.

False doctrine always loads down the ship of state. Always. Our leaders are supposed to keep it out, guarding the deposit and teaching what accords with sound doctrine. They are not supposed to minimize, dismiss, and disregard theological differences.

IHOP is the reason the ship feels like it is sinking. (one of...)

When the ship of state feels like it is foundering that is because it is loaded down with sinners and their baggage of false doctrine. Mr Floyd, why did you load a piano in the canoe?

IHOPKC, welcome aboard, There's plenty of room.


Mr Floyd's pragmatic approach to prayer, revival, and doctrine is based on the reasoning that the times are so bad that we need all hands on deck to bail, even if those hands are unqualified, or even if there are stowaways whose passage has not been paid. (Romans 3:24)

The problem is, sinners' buckets have holes in them. Sinners' buckets won't bail.

Captain Floyd:
Bail! Bail! The ship feels like it's sinking!
O, why is it still sinking?
Our ship of state should be floating buoyantly, but to Floyd his ship is foundering. It's an old problem. IHOPKC and the problem of partnering with them is not a new thing. Jeremiah spoke of leaky buckets in his day.

for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)

Mr Floyd has left the fresh fountain of living water and drunk from a poisoned well which is leaking and leaching into the Body directly from places like IHOP. The IHOP people are broken cisterns because the walls of their cisterns are made of man's bricks, having no foundation in Christ. Matthew Henry says of the Jeremiah verse:
They took a great deal of pains to hew themselves out cisterns, to dig pits or pools in the earth or rock which they would carry water to, or which should receive the rain; but they proved broken cisterns, false at the bottom, so that they could hold no water. When they came to quench their thirst there they found nothing but mud and mire, and the filthy sediments of a standing lake.
The disturbing lack of discernment in some of our high leaders of late is a sad testament to our witness. There's John Piper, who seems to have forsaken any semblance of discernment at all. SBC's Russell Moore visiting the Pope. Now the President of the SBC linking with outright heretics.

Is it too much to ask that our leaders adhere to biblical principles? That they lead in truth and courage? That they remain strong and not compromise? Apparently it is too much to ask. Apparently it is- for some. I still thank Mr Floyd for his years of service and continue to pray, this time altering my prayer to one that asks the Lord to move his feet away from the path of compromise and to give him a spirit of discernment. I praise God for the strong men of truth whose decades of witness does not have a false doctrine among them, men like MacArthur, Lawson, Begg, Ferguson, P Johnson, SL Johnson. Solid men like Lloyd-Jones, Barnhouse, Boice, Sproul.

Fifteen years ago John MacArthur preached:
They have entered upon what I suppose if we were living in Spurgeon’s time would be called a downgrade. Church is on a slippery slope, the evangelical church is progressing down away from the heights of truth and the honor of God. It is willingly abandoning its discernment, willingly abandoning bible exposition, and therefore a deep and accurate understanding of truth. In so doing it is moving away from what glorifies God, because what glorifies God is the exposition of scripture. 
At the heart of this is this tragic thing of embracing non-Christians as if they're Christians; ... Without a deep grasp of biblical truth there’s no discernment, and with no discernment then you just can’t tell who’s a Christian and who’s not, so Satan comes into the church, comes into the leadership, comes in to teach at colleges and teach at seminaries and write books and get on Christian TV, and on and on it goes. (source, bold mine)
The problem with what Mr Floyd did and said is not solely that he stood on that stage, partnering with Mr Bickle. That's over and it's done. The problem now is what is going to occur. He opened the floodgates. He affirmed non-Christians in their state of lostness, to their perhaps doom and to the faith's detriment.

I am a Southern Baptist disappointed to the point of grief that our denomination's president has done this. Yet this too shall pass (paraphrasing 2 Corinthians 4:17-18). Trumping my denominational affilition is the fact that I am a Christian in the Church that Christ is building. Men will fall, blind guides will guide, the pit will widen, false prophets will proclaim, and doctrine will be polluted. Yet Jesus is building a church that is sterling, beautiful, honed and ready. His church is TRUTH.

As a final thought, here is a 13-minute clip from S.Lewis Johnson expositing from Titus, and declares unequivocally how false teachers (like Bickle) should be treated. Please take a listen so as to refresh your mind and so in coming days you won't get caught up in the blurred lines of compromise and believe that Mr Floyd's parsed and careful words at IHOPKC One Thing Conference are really loving and truthful. They aren't and they weren't.




As for us who praise the Lord we still have discernment by His grace and by His grace have not wandered away from the narrow path of solid truth. He is the King, sovereignly holding His church in His hand.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)

EPrata photo

----------------------------

Further Reading

The End Time: Have ye so little faith? SBC President Ronnie Floyd at IHOP, a discernment lesson

SBC Prez at IHOP: First Impressions

What is the International House of Prayer?

The Broad Brush: A biblical review of Mike Bickle, by Phil Johnson

The Modern Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, a sermon that speaks directly to why the IHOP approach to Christianity is actually blasphemy.


Monday, December 28, 2015

God With Us

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:23).

As I go forward in life, year by grinding year, waiting, learning, sinning, repenting, I learn more of the person and God Jesus and of His excellencies. Studying the Annunciation, and thinking of His name Immanuel, God with us, I think of God with Adam and Eve in the Garden right from the beginning- covering them in skins. With Hagar in the desert, wrestling with Jacob through the anxious night, with Abraham on Mt Moriah sacrificing Isaac, with Mary on the flight to Egypt, with Peter on the beach restoring him in love, with John on Patmos ... He surely is a God with us!

As you face 2016, perhaps it is in fear, or anxiety, or loneliness ... No matter how you feel, even if it is facing the new year in excitement, or wonder, or joy (because those are times we tend to not feel like we "need" God) - God is with you! He is W-I-T-H  U-S, Immanuel!

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

and it will sweep on into Judah, it will overflow and pass on, reaching even to the neck, and its outspread wings will fill the breadth of your land, O Immanuel.” (Isaiah 8:8)
Immanuel, equivalent to savior, a name given to Christ by Matthew, Matthew 1:23, after Isaiah 7:14. According to the orthodox interpretation the name denotes the same as θεανθρωπος, and has reference to the personal union of the human nature and the divine in Christ. (Strong's on Isaiah 8:8)
He is with us, so who can be against us! You are in the hands of the Mighty Savior, He is with His people, and will not leave or forsake us.

Source


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Movie Review: Angel in the House (AKA "Foster")

I watched a good movie, called Angel in the House, but also known as Foster. At Internet Movie Database you will find it under the name "Foster" which is a terrible name. I don't know why this film has two names, but the film I'm talking about titled Angel in the House 2011 is not to be confused with the short film Angel in the House 1978 or the 2005 short film Foster on which the longer 2011 I'm reviewing today film is based and in which the entire first ten minutes are the same. Got it?

The name is the only thing that is terrible about this movie, however. It is a sweet, cute, sentimental, charming fairy tale of a film. Easy on the eyes, melting of the heart, it's a light and airy meringue with great acting and a satisfying ending.





The plot as summarized at imdb.com,
Zooey and Alec Morrison are a married couple who are struggling to bridge the painful gap that is developing between them. Unable to conceive, the Morrisons await confirmation of a child to foster. One day, a seven years old boy who calls himself Eli appears on their doorstep quite mysteriously, explaining the foster agency has sent him. The boy is old beyond his years and it becomes apparent that he is the listening ear amongst the couple's marriage breakdown. Eli offers moral support and idealistic suggestions to his foster parents on how to repair and re-kindle their love for each other. The couple begin to rebuild their foundations at home, at work and emotionally until they find the love they once had for each other. But all may not be as it seems... is there an angel in the house? Or two or three?

There's really not much more to say. It's family friendly 100%. It is cute and worthwhile. On Hulu under the name Angel in the House.

The Pros and Cons of Social Media for the Christian

I'm a lay person, a Christian woman, who happens to write. I've made my living from writing in the past and I'm thrilled to be able to use the talent God gave me for His glory now writing in a Christian context.

I'm older, 55 years of age, and I distinctly remember life before internet. For a writer wanting to publish, bumping up against the monoliths of the Madison Avenue publishing companies, and the chokehold of the magazines and literary journals, (and the publishing rejection letters) having a free platform in which to share one's thoughts and words with the world was a revelation. I took to it instantly and with glee, going online in 1996 and becoming an Amazon.com customer in 1997. Finally, an equalizing global conversation could be had.

I don't think young people have a well-developed sense of just what a privilege it is to have global access to speaking one's mind on any topic. I pointedly remember the frustration of rejection letter after rejection letter, of seeking the underground, mimeographed 'zines as they were called then, of a regular person not having a voice. Or seeing the ones with voices squander them or limit them or censor them. Conglomerates purported to speak for the masses, and more often they didn't, but their lobbyist money did speak to the corruption. Journalists were supposed to speak for the voiceless but more often they were kowtowing to Corporate. Benjamin Franklin felt the same frustration so he started his own papers and printed them on his own presses. The Second Amendment gave the promise of free speech, but never made any promises about how or where. No platforms were ever promised. That, one had to figure out for one's self.

Of course all those words back then were important in the civic or personal/creative realms, but were wind and chaff to God because they were not for His glory.

I converted to Christianity late in life at around age 43-45 (who knows the exact moment the Holy Spirit gripped me, God knows). Until then I'd been occupied with writing for my weekly newspaper and curating its online version. When I sold the paper in 2006 and moved down south I needed to fill the void left by not writing intensively, so I started my personal blog The Quiet Life in August of that year. It's hard to believe it's coming up on nearly 10 years since I founded it. What a joy to play with the Layout format, press 'publish' and one's thoughts and words could be seen by the world. Of course, back in 2004-2006 blogging exploded and there were a million blogs starting a day, it seemed. How to make one's own blog rise to the top amid the sea of cacophonous voices also clamoring to be heard was something left to one's creative problem solving. Now we had the platform, but how to make people listen...
Social media pinwheel. Source Wikipedia

As the Holy Spirit solidified my faith and grew me in sanctification, I founded this blog in January 2009, and once again it's hard to believe it's been nearly 7 years since then. Though I write intermittently on The Quiet Life I am committed to using the gift of writing and proclamation and exhortation for the Lord and I've been faithful to write daily on this blog since the beginning. Though I've been writing longer at The Quiet Life and there are 70 pages over there, there's double the amount here, 140 pages, containing about 3,500 essays. And fortunately, I don't have to stress over about whom to make listen. The Holy Spirit takes care of disseminating the message to whom He desires.

I joined Facebook in 2008, and joined Twitter then also. This year I added another Facebook page, The End Time. Online newspapers and journals enabled comment sections. People from the great to the small posted their email address, allowing direct conversation. Cell phones, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr, Flickr, Podcasts...Suddenly, there were platforms everywhere and it seemed like the cacophony grew but so did the possibilities for getting the Gospel out.

The question today is, just because social media exists, does that mean it is wise, profitable, or even safe to enter the fray?

All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

That is a question for each Christian to answer and there are different considerations if one is a parent, a missionary, or is living under a restrictive regime or just to personally consider in the face of doing our utmost for His highest (to paraphrase O. Chambers).

Here are some thoughts in my experience, in my opinion, and remember I'm just one lay-woman with a small sphere of influence. There have been pros and cons with being so present on social media. Just as with anything, there are considerations and there are joys.
  • I am a single woman so there are safety issues with being too open.
  • Yet I feel compelled to be truthful and transparent, openly proclaiming the message to as many as possible.
  • If The Lord allowed the internet to be invented then I resolve to use it to the best of my ability to honor Him and spread His message.
  • Yet there are also a great many temptations to sin with my mind and with my mouth (typing fingers) and present a poor witness.
  • I have stumbled before in being so present online.
  • Yet when I sadly do, it presents more opportunities to repent, grow, obey and rely on Him- and to be mindful next time.
  • Seeing before me in living color so vividly the woes and successes of fellow believers; and being accountable to an online community of believers widens my perspective and reminds me of how large His body really is.
  • It presents a tendency to want to focus on just the virtual believers to the exclusion of those in real life.
  • When someone is encouraged by something I've written, it offers a high uncomparable to any other.
  • When someone in the next pew is encouraged by something I've said, it offers a high uncomparable to any other.
  • People online can be mean, nasty, and hide behind cowardly anonymous comments. Combating their effects can steal your joy and re-direct your energy better used in other ways.
  • People in real life can be mean, nasty, and hide behind cowardly gossipy comments. Combating their effects can steal your joy and re-direct your energy better used in other ways.
So, you see, the pros and cons are similar to laboring in any other medium or any other sphere. No better, no worse, just different considerations to consider.

Unlike other people who have expressed distrust or disdain over social media use to share a holy Christian witness, I don't believe social media is the devil. It is merely a vehicle into which we can pour our energy and message depending on what the Lord has called us to do. Some pour their message into children through motherhood. Others who are not called to motherhood became missionaries and brought the message to orphans overseas. Some who were writers without the advantage of social media got the message out anyway using the vehicles of their own day- hymns.

"The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan, meaning that the form of a medium embeds itself in the message, creating a symbiotic relationship by which the medium influences how the message is perceived. ...Extending the argument for understanding the medium as the message itself, he proposed that the "content of any medium is always another medium – thus, the content of writing is speech, print is that of writing and print itself is the content of the telegraph.
McLuhan understood "medium" in a broad sense. He identified the light bulb as a clear demonstration of the concept of "the medium is the message". A light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, yet it is a medium that has a social effect; that is, a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness. He describes the light bulb as a medium without any content. McLuhan states that "a light bulb creates an environment by its mere presence."(source)
So be mindful of the medium you choose to employ to spread God's message, from your own tongue in real life to the cold virtual reality of a laptop keyboard, to... whatever else. As a matter of fact I've always held that the internet is one of the world's great inventions. The Gospel message can be disseminated in podcast, tract, devotional, online bible, visually through art and animation, Youtube, the ancient writers' work is spoken alive online to new generations or can be read anew for those who can't afford the precious tomes but can afford the lower price of an online connection or even free at a library. Wow!

Through online blogs and sermons and devotionals I was strengthened by John MacArthur's preaching and discovered the Puritans and Reformers. I connected with solid doctrine at The Master's Seminary and learned of Paul Washer's fire. I learned that I, too, had a platform that may strengthen even one woman seemed too good an opportunity to pass up- as long as I kept my priorities straight. But that's like any ministry, it's life, isn't it? It is all a struggle and no matter the sphere or means the Lord provides, the devil will attempt to corrupt it.

So make your decisions about social media with your husband or pastor or family. Decide how "out there" you feel led to be, and which means to use. Elisabeth Eliot, Gladys Aylward, Eliza Spurgeon, Fanny Crosby, Katharina von Bora (Mrs Martin Luther) all used the means at their disposal and through obedience to the Lord to influence those in their spheres. How large or small or what that means the Lord will use through you within that sphere is a personal decision. But don't let scary stories or condescension about social media taint your view of how useful it can be to getting the message out there. Just be safe, be wise, and the Lord will take care of the rest.




Saturday, December 26, 2015

Don't Be "The Isolator" Christian

Contrary to popular current sentiment, from those who condescend about "religion" and "the church" and its "hypocrites," and claim to be able to "do God" on their own, Christianity is not a religion in which one can become isolated. We are part of a body. Christ is its Head. Apart from him we can do nothing.

HT Michelle Lesley
Even me who is Aspergers and believe that a small apartment, independent wealth, a cat, and the internet is all I need, must emerge into the world and be in the world- because God's Word says so! To obey is for God's glory and to proclaim His excellencies. It's so they can be a witness of His Holy Spirit's strength in reducing the sin in me and live a holy life before others. It's so I can be accountable to the members of the Body.

If you think you've heard "a voice" or had "an inner prompting" urging you to forsake assembling, know that you have just been deceived.

Here are some essays to encourage you in the practice of being in the world but not of the world, (John 17:14-15) and not to forsake assembling with the saints. (Hebrews 10:25).

If you have slacked off attending, resolve this New Year to pray for the Spirit to renew your commitment to the Body.

How can believers be in the world, but not of the world?

What does it mean for Christians to be in the world but not of the world?

Warnings Against Unfaithfulness

Can you be a Christian and not go to church?

Why Should I Attend Church?

The Spiritually Lazy Saint



Friday, December 25, 2015

We celebrate Christ's first Advent, look forward to His Second Coming; prophecies fulfilled and to come!

"Simeon and Jesus. Russian Painter Andrey Shishkin
Prophecy: For unto us a child is born, (Isaiah 9:6a)
Fulfilled: For unto you is born this day (Luke 2:11a)

At Christmas we think of it as having begun. But it is finished. Christ was born a savior, Luke 2:11 says-

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

He did not become a savior or grow into a savior but was born a savior, and one who was born having to die, shedding His blood.

44 Prophecies Jesus Christ Fulfilled

Prophecies About Jesus Old Testament Scriptures, New Testament Fulfillment

1. Messiah would be born of a woman. Genesis 3:15 Matthew 1:20 Galatians 4:4
2. Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:1 Luke 2:4-6
3. Messiah would be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:22-23 Luke 1:26-31
4. Messiah would come from the line of Abraham. Genesis 12:3 Genesis 22:18 Matthew 1:1 Romans 9:5
5. Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac. Genesis 17:19 Genesis 21:12 Luke 3:34
6. Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob. Numbers 24:17 Matthew 1:2
7. Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. Genesis 49:10 Luke 3:33 Hebrews 7:14
8. Messiah would be heir to King David's throne. 2 Samuel 7:12-13 Isaiah 9:7 Luke 1:32-33 Romans 1:3
9. Messiah 's throne will be anointed and eternal. Psalm 45:6-7 Daniel 2:44 Luke 1:33 Hebrews 1:8-12
10. Messiah would be called Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:23
11. Messiah would spend a season in Egypt. Hosea 11:1 Matthew 2:14-15
12 A massacre of children would happen at. Messiah 's birthplace. Jeremiah 31:15 Matthew 2:16-18
13 A messenger would prepare the way for. Messiah Isaiah 40:3-5 Luke 3:3-6
14. Messiah would be rejected by his own people. Psalm 69:8 Isaiah 53:3 John 1:11 John 7:5
15. Messiah would be a prophet. Deuteronomy 18:15 Acts 3:20-22
16. Messiah would be preceded by Elijah. Malachi 4:5-6 Matthew 11:13-14
17. Messiah would be declared the Son of God. Psalm 2:7 Matthew 3:16-17
18. Messiah would be called a Nazarene. Isaiah 11:1 Matthew 2:23
19. Messiah would bring light to Galilee. Isaiah 9:1-2 Matthew 4:13-16
20. Messiah would speak in parables. Psalm 78:2-4 Isaiah 6:9-10 Matthew 13:10-15, 34-35
21. Messiah would be sent to heal the brokenhearted. Isaiah 61:1-2 Luke 4:18-19
22. Messiah would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4 Hebrews 5:5-6
23. Messiah would be called King. Psalm 2:6 Zechariah 9:9 Matthew 27:37 Mark 11:7-11
24. Messiah would be praised by little children. Psalm 8:2 Matthew 21:16
25. Messiah would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9 Zechariah 11:12-13 Luke 22:47-48 Matthew 26:14-16
26. Messiah 's price money would be used to buy a potter's field. Zechariah 11:12-13 Matthew 27:9-10
27. Messiah would be falsely accused. Psalm 35:11 Mark 14:57-58
28. Messiah would be silent before his accusers. Isaiah 53:7 Mark 15:4-5
29. Messiah would be spat upon and struck. Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
30. Messiah would be hated without cause. Psalm 35:19 Psalm 69:4 John 15:24-25
31. Messiah would be crucified with criminals. Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38 Mark 15:27-28
32. Messiah would be given vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34 John 19:28-30
33. Messiah 's hands and feet would be pierced. Psalm 22:16 Zechariah 12:10 John 20:25-27
34. Messiah would be mocked and ridiculed. Psalm 22:7-8 Luke 23:35
35 Soldiers would gamble for Messiah 's garments. Psalm 22:18 Luke 23:34 Matthew 27:35-36
36. Messiah 's bones would not be broken. Exodus 12:46 Psalm 34:20 John 19:33-36
37. Messiah would be forsaken by God. Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
38. Messiah would pray for his enemies. Psalm 109:4 Luke 23:34
39 Soldiers would pierce. Messiah 's side. Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34
40. Messiah would be buried with the rich. Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
41. Messiah would resurrect from the dead. Psalm 16:10 Psalm 49:15 Matthew 28:2-7 Acts 2:22-32
42. Messiah would ascend to heaven. Psalm 24:7-10 Mark 16:19 Luke 24:51
43. Messiah would be seated at God's right hand. Psalm 68:18 Psalm 110:1 Mark 16:19 Matthew 22:44
44. Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin. Isaiah 53:5-12 Romans 5:6-8
(Source)

The prophecies are so specific there is no doubt Jesus is who He says He is, and that He accomplished what He said He will do. Since He came to atone for our sins, this means that you sin, I sin, we all sin. What will you do in the face of these truths? Ignore and suppress the truth of Jesus in unrighteousness? (Romans 1:18)? Or surrender to His sovereignty and plea for forgiveness of your sins, repenting and living for Him?

The joy of knowing Him is unparalleled, and the peace of soul and heart is inexpressible. The sweet Babe is also a fierce and victorious King. He is returning, and He will slay the wicked and exalt the righteous. We celebrate the past of His first advent. We look forward to the coming of the Second Advent. When He comes, which side will you be on?

Charles Spurgeon's devotional for Christmas morning says:

He Came; He Is Coming

This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)

Many are celebrating our Lord's first coming this day; let us turn our thoughts to the promise of His second coming. This is as sure as the first advent and derives a great measure of its certainty from it. He who came as a lowly man to serve will assuredly come to take the reward of His service. He who came to suffer will not be slow in coming to reign.

This is our glorious hope, for we shall share His joy. Today we are in our concealment and humiliation, even as He was while here below; but when He cometh it will be our manifestation, even as it will be His revelation. Dead saints shall live at His appearing. The slandered and despised shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Then shall the saints appear as kings and priests, and the days of their mourning shall be ended. The long rest and inconceivable splendor of the millennial reign will be an abundant recompense for the ages of witnessing and warring.

Oh, that the Lord would come! He is coming! He is on the road and traveling quickly. The sound of His approach should be as music to our hearts! Ring out, ye bells of hope!

Brass in the Bible, and brassy, brazen women

Did you ever think about brass? Looking at some of the items in the Bible more closely is enjoyable. Linen, pomegranates, ants, and palm tre...