Saturday, February 28, 2015

"Matt Redman to headline Catholic youth event"

Andrew McDonald posted the following at his UK blog The Protestant Standard. He gave permission to re-blog it here. My own comments are below his re-post.

Matt Redman to headline Catholic youth event
On 7th March the largest event in the United Kingdom for young Roman Catholics will be held at Wembley Arena in London. 'Flame 2' is organised by the Catholic Youth Ministry Federation and is anticipated to attract up to 10, 000 young Roman Catholics. Throughout the day Roman Catholics speakers will bring messages to the young people gathered there, and at the conclusion of the day Cardinal Vincent Nichols will lead everyone in a time of Adoration i.e. the Mass. None of this is unusual, or worthy of special comment for it what we would expect at a Roman Catholic event. This issue which attracts our attention on this occasion is the presence of a leading Contemporary Christian Music artist, Matt Redman.
Redman is currently one of the most popular and influential artists among Christian young people therefore his attendance at this event is concerning. The Catholic Youth Ministry Federation have described it as a 'wonderful blessing for Flame II that Matt is able to lead the music' and that they 'are certain that this encounter will enrich school and parish Masses and liturgies in the months after Flame II.' Such a recommendation is hardly one which we would desire! As well as being the lead musical act, Redman is also listed as one of the speakers for this event, and has personally promoted it on his own Twitter account (see here).

Sadly this is not a first for Redman as in 2014 he held a joint concert in Belfast with Matt Maher; someone who would be described as a Contemporary Christian musician, yet who in truth is a devout Roman Catholic. A quick glance at Matt Redman's previous and upcoming events a similar lack of discernment in relation to biblical separation, with Hillsong, Passion Conference and Joyce Meyer's conference being three of the most glaring examples.

So what does this mean? It means that young (and older) Christians should take great care in which artists they listen to, and how devoted they become to these people. Many Christian artists today have a following among young Christians which is on a par with secular pop artists, and there is nothing more certain to cause a row than to criticise someones favourite Christian singer. Yet there are occasions where concerns arise which need to be highlighted, and we believe that this is one such occasion. The important question to ask might well be whether we are more annoyed at the actions of our favourite Christian singers, or more annoyed that their actions have been highlighted?
Just so, and well said Mr McDonald.

Reported on the Flame2 page is the following:
The SSE Wembley Arena will be filled with 10,000 young people from across the country, receiving faith-filled inspiration from world class speakers. Confirmed speakers include Cardinal Luis Tagle from Manila, Philippines; Baroness Sheila Hollins; Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP; and David Wells. Music will be provided by double grammy award winning Matt Redman and his band. The day ends with a time of Adoration led by Cardinal Vincent Nichols.
I have another question that the article raised in my mind. We know that Catholic doctrines are anti-biblical, while the true faith is biblical. We know that Catholics have the spirit of antichrist and Christians have the Spirit of Christ. It's a darkness v. light situation, evil v. good, crooked v. narrow.

We also know that Catholics have music particular to their false faith. Ave Maria is Latin for Hail Mary, a traditional Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox prayer calling for the intercession of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Gregorian chants are particularly Catholic. "Saint" Ambrose and "Saint" Hildegarde created bodies of work in music specifically for the Catholic Church and it is particular in sound and doctrine. Before I was saved I used to LOVE listening to Ambrose's Gregorian Chants, and my husband constantly played Jean Redpath's versions of Hildegarde's music.

However post-salvation, I stopped. It is a wonderful blessing for Flame II that Matt is able to lead the music, and for our young people to hear him first hand. We are certain that this encounter will enrich school and parish Masses and liturgies in the months after Flame II.

Protestant music is also particular to Protestants. During the Reformation, reclaiming the high Latin chants and songs the priests sang from the choir stalls and giving congregational singing back to the congregation, "Luther wanted the service to be centred on Christ, and thus had new hymns composed that preached the incarnation, the cross and the resurrection. They were named Lutheran Chorales." (source)

Why on earth would Catholics enjoy Protestant songs? IF the songs that Redman composes are about the true faith, then Catholics would not want to listen. UNLESS, Redman's songs are so watered down that the lyrics could mean anything to anyone.


Further Reading

Why Should Churches draw doctrinal boundaries?

5 Wrong Questions to Ask when Drawing Doctrinal Boundaries

Friday, February 27, 2015

The vine, the abiding, and the dead branch

I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)

We've been having many storms the last two weeks. Ice, sleet, freezing fog, snow, and wind. Three winter storms in the last two weeks, a lot for us. The first storm was the worst. Many thousands of people were without power. Many tree limbs came down.

There was a branch in my yard that came down yesterday. It was a biggish limb, torn right off from a large tree in the back yard. I'd planned to take a photo of it to illustrate the verse, but the yard got cleaned up before I came home from work. So I found this branch in the sheep pasture instead.

Look at it. The limb is dead, that kind of dead, rusty brown that pine trees turn when they are good and dead. It is no longer connected to the tree. That limb can stay on the ground there as long as it wants but it will never do anything except lay there and get dead-er. It will not grow longer. It will not spring pine needles, It will not bear pine cones. It will not house birds. It will not shade worms. It will only lie there, dead.

It is apart from the tree.

Do not be apart from the vine. Jesus is the vine, providing life-flowing sustenance, strength, power. Abide in Him.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Excerpts from Ligonier's 'After Darkness, Light 2015 National Conference

Sermon Highlights from After Darkness, Light: 2015 National Conference

Sinclair Ferguson's sermon "Christ’s Message to the Church"

The Reformers warned us that darkness will once again overcome large portions of the church if the gospel is not proclaimed and defended in every generation. Through the Apostle John, our Savior issued a similar warning to the seven churches of Asia Minor, calling them to return to Him lest they fall into darkness and their lampstands be removed. In this message, Dr. Sinclair Ferguson considers what Christ might have said if one of the seven letters to the churches in Revelation 2:3 had been specifically addressed to the church in the modern West in this message.
Biblical Christianity is not going to an assembly where the word of God is preached biblically. Biblical Christianity is being in an assembly where the word of God jumps out of the pulpit and starts running around the church and transforms people's lives.
~Sinclair Ferguson
Steven J. Lawson's message, A Puny God-

If the church has a low view of God, its light will be dim, and the darkness will not be pushed back. ... In this message, Dr. Steven J. Lawson proclaims the centrality of a high, biblical view of the Lord, calling upon God to restore the truth about His transcendent majesty and holiness in His church.
In every generation when the church stands strong, it is in those hours in which the church has the highest view of God in those hours in which the church has languished in its impotence and it's had so little effect upon the world around it, is when the church has had such base and low views of God. If we are to have a reformation, if we are to have a revival in this hour, in this day, it will be a reformation and a revival that begins in the knowledge of God. ~Steven J. Lawson
Better to have small faith in a great God, than great faith in a small god. Your faith is only as good as the object upon which it is cast. ~Steven J. Lawson

Conference Organizers write:

2015 National Conference: Audio and Video Now Available
from Nathan W. Bingham Feb 25, 2015 Category: Events

“God’s people must cry out for His revival and a restoration of the light.” —R.C. Sproul

Last week we held our 2015 National Conference on the theme, After Darkness, Light. We explored our need to be revived and restored to a high view of God, His law, His people, and His plan for the world.

We are now pleased to announce that the conference messages are available to stream for free on or YouTube, purchase as a digital download, or pre-order on DVD and CD.

Purity in a Digital Age by Tim Challies
Repentance & Renewal by Rosaria Butterfield
Paganism in Today’s Culture by Peter Jones
Pre-Conference Panel Discussion
Christ’s Message to the Church by Sinclair Ferguson
A Puny God by Steven Lawson
Questions & Answers #1
No Place for Truth by Alistair Begg
Jesus Made in America by Stephen Nichols
Whatever Happened to Sin? by Russell Moore
It’s All about Me by R.C. Sproul Jr.
Questions & Answers #2
I Will Build My Church by W. Robert Godfrey
Do Not Love the World by Kevin DeYoung
The Least of These by Sinclair Ferguson
It’s Just a Book by W. Robert Godfrey
Holy, Holy, Holy by R.C. Sproul

Optional Sessions:

Lessons From the Upper Room by Sinclair Ferguson
The Daring Mission of William Tyndale by Steven Lawson
Abortion Front Lines with John Barros and R.C. Sproul Jr.

Be encouraged: the Lord's word can break the stoniest of hearts!

Keep praying for your friends and family. The LORD and His Word is stronger than all circumstances, bigger than any sin, the healer of hearts, and the slayer of fortresses.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Man fixated on his cell phone doesn't realize a whale is beneath him

Man too busy texting to notice rare whale surface RIGHT NEXT TO HIM

For those attuned to certain values, it's an image that defies belief and defines how far modern culture has sunk. There is a man on the deck of a sailboat. Just feet below is a humpback whale. Perhaps the whale is saying hello. Perhaps the whale can smell some nice fish the man has grilling. It's less likely that the whale wants to phone home. The glory of the story, you see, is that the man can't see the whale, because he's too busy texting on his phone. The image was taken by photographer Eric Smith and posted to his Instagram feed...

It is a shame when we are too distracted to experience the important things happening around us. I am reminded of the incident with Martha from Luke 10:38-42

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
She was then cumbered about much serving when she should have been with her sister, sitting at Christ’s feet to hear his word. Note, Worldly business is then a snare to us when it hinders us from serving God and getting good to our souls.
Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 1859). Peabody: Hendrickson.

Technological Distraction and Christian values, by Ken Funk, Oregon State University
But the individual can really only engage in one activity requiring conscious, effortful thought at a time. This is especially true of activities directed toward the highest good. To seek God’s kingdom and to know Him requires substantial time for reflection and sustained attention. So, like time, attention is a scarce resource that should be allocated wisely.
But modern technology complicates that attention allocation process in several ways. ... The problem, though, is that technology creates the opportunities for far more good activities than we can ever hope to accomplish. As our lives become increasingly busy with activities directed toward the good, we can lose sight of the highest good. Overwhelmed and overloaded by demands for our time and attention, we can be diverted from our search for the kingdom of God. ... Many of us have become so fascinated by technology that we dedicate substantial amounts of time and energy to acquiring more and more technological objects. Not all of this can be explained by their instrumental value: for many of us, technology has taken on intrinsic value. (Source)

What he is saying here is that it used to be that technology could enable us to use it as a tool to seek the highest good for God's kingdom, but now it has become the good in and of itself. It is now a tool that is using us to seek the bad, or at least, distract us from seeking the highest good. Think Martha.

The typical individual is thus confronted with an overwhelming multitude of technology-induced activities. I refer to this as technological busyness. One effect of technological busyness is mental distress. ... But by far the most serious negative consequence of technological busyness is technological distraction: by drawing our attention mostly to activities related to the lower good, technology distracts us from our efforts to realize the highest good and therefore may cause us to fail to fulfill the very purpose for our existence.
What is the purpose for our existence? Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.
Photographer Eric Smith "told CBS News that a whale and her calf were "flapping, breaching, jumping, mouths eating fish," but the man never budged. He said he has five photos of the man busy with his phone as the whales surface around the boat. “We’re all guilty being buried in our phones, even me,” Smith was quoted as saying. “You think life is better on your phone, but we’re missing what’s happening around us."

Can you make the declaration that is in the verse below? That you are not enslaved by anything? Not your cell phone...not your debt because you bought the latest technology, not to your child's demands for an X-box upgrade?

“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be enslaved by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12)

Our attention should always be fixed on Jesus. Don't let anything distract. Stay focused on the one thing.

One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:17)

As for the man and what he was really doing while the whale played next to him, we will never know. We do know the following:

Here is the sea, great and wide, which teems with creatures innumerable, living things both small and great. There go the ships, and Leviathan, which you formed to play in it. (Psalm 104:25-26)

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The moment Jesus entered heaven, Reading as parenting, A Prophet for an Un-discerning Church, Worldview

Mark Jones at Reformation 21 wrote a tremendously uplifting essay. Tremendous. Christ's Entrance into Heaven speculates on the scene in heaven, after Jesus ascended to heaven. Here is how it begins:
Have you ever wondered what it must have been like when Christ entered heaven after having ascended? This was a unique moment in redemptive history, and one that we should probably meditate upon a lot more than we do. At the risk of being occasionally speculative, here are some thoughts on Christ's entrance into Heaven as the glorified God-man.

The effect upon those in heaven must have been incredible. We are told that there is much joy in heaven when a sinner repents (Lk. 15:7). But what about the joy when Jesus, who saves all who enter heaven, arrived to take his seat at the right hand of the Father?
Please read his short piece. You will be glad you did.

A reader sent the following, JC Ryle on 8 Symptoms of False Doctrine. Here it is in its entirety. It was posted at the link in 2013 but written in 1967 and published in the excellent Banner of Truth. His list is as true or truer today than ever.
Many things combine to make the present inroad of false doctrine peculiarly dangerous.
  1. There is an undeniable zeal in some of the teachers of error: their ‘earnestness’ makes many think they must be right.
  2. There is a great appearance of learning and theological knowledge: many fancy that such clever and intellectual men must surely be safe guides.
  3. There is a general tendency to free thought and free inquiry in these latter days: many like to prove their independence of judgment, by believing novelties.
  4. There is a wide-spread desire to appear charitable and liberal-minded: many seem half ashamed of saying that anybody can be in the wrong.
  5. There is a quantity of half-truth taught by the modern false teachers: they are incessantly using Scriptural terms and phrases in an unscriptural sense.
  6. There is a morbid craving in the public mind for a more sensuous, ceremonial, sensational, showy worship: men are impatient of inward, invisible heart-work.
  7. There is a silly readiness in every direction to believe everybody who talks cleverly, lovingly and earnestly, and a determination to forget that Satan often masquerades himself ‘as an angel of light’ (2 Cor. 11:14).
  8. There is a wide-spread ‘gullibility’ among professing Christians: every heretic who tells his story plausibly is sure to be believed, and everybody who doubts him is called a persecutor and a narrow-minded man.
All these things are peculiar symptoms of our times. I defy any observing person to deny them. They tend to make the assaults of false doctrine in our day peculiarly dangerous. They make it more than ever needful to cry aloud, ‘Do not be carried away!’

From J. C. Ryle’s Warnings to the Churches [Banner of Truth, 1967], ‘Divers and Strange Doctrines’, pages 76-77, with slight editing.

As someone whose profession is education and whose specialty is literacy, I appreciated this post from The Christian Pundit regarding Reading As Parenting

Reading as Parenting
When we think about parenting, the word “books” probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind. But reading to our children is a fundamental aspect of parenting little people, though we rarely talk about it in the context of raising children.

Here is something I've posted before but am doing again. Todd Pruitt at the Mortification of Spin, on Beth Moore, A Prophet for an Un-discerning Church
But those who don’t much care about popularity or physical safety have in recent years been willing to challenge some of the outrageous claims and troubling teachings coming from Beth Moore. It would be one thing if Beth’s claims of direct revelation, sloppy exegesis, and squishy ecumenism were confined to a small corner of the church. The trouble is that Beth Moore is hugely popular which means she has a lot of influence.

What is your worldview?
Barna noted that substantial numbers of Christians believe that activities such as abortion, gay sex, sexual fantasies, cohabitation, drunkenness and viewing pornography are morally acceptable. "Without some firm and compelling basis for suggesting that such acts are inappropriate, people are left with philosophies such as 'if it feels good, do it,' 'everyone else is doing it' or 'as long as it doesn't hurt anyone else, it's permissible.' In fact, the alarmingly fast decline of moral foundations among our young people has culminated in a one-word worldview: 'whatever.' The result is a mentality that esteems pluralism, relativism, tolerance, and diversity without critical reflection of the implications of particular views and actions."

This Barna study quoted above was conducted in 2002, thirteen years ago as of this writing. He noted that the study and survey was aimed partly at young people, and it is to be strongly noted that the young people who expressed such a world-view thirteen years ago are now the adults of today. And these adults are having children of their own, and passing the worldview on to them.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I stand at the door and knock...

Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:20).

Dramatically Christ pictured Himself as standing outside and knocking on a door. In a familiar painting the latch is not shown but is assumed to be on the inside. The appeal is for those who hear to open the door. To them Christ promised, I will go in and eat with him, and he with Me. With Christ on the outside, there can be no fellowship or genuine wealth. With Christ on the inside, there is wonderful fellowship and sharing of the marvelous grace of God. This was an appeal to Christians rather than to non-Christians. This raises the important question concerning the extent of one’s intimate fellowship with Christ. To those who respond, Christ promises to give the right to sit with Him on His throne and share His victory.
Walvoord, J. F. (1985). Revelation. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 942). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Yes, this is a quiz

Charisma Magazine (not recommended) interviewed Francis Chan last year on the publication of his new marriage book, "You and Me Forever".

Here is the trailer with Chan and his wife Lisa announcing the book. It is not a long trailer, just 2 minutes or so. If you watch it, perhaps something will strike you, like it did me. I'm sure there are many things that may strike you, but I'm thinking of one particular thing that jumped out at me.

Let me know what you think in the comments. After a while I'll put my answer in the comments, depending on response.


Sunday, February 22, 2015

"He went to Jared": Evangelicals going to Rome

Jared engagement rings

There is a television commercial that we are "treated" to every year around Christmas time. Jared Jewelry Galleria wants to present itself as an upscale jewelry store, the only place that you should consider buying your fine jewelry, especially diamond engagement rings. They want you to know that they consider themselves the be-all, end-all, pinnacle of jewelry. They believe there is no other name in jewelry. Once the gal knows "he went to Jared," she melts, giggles, and the deal is sealed. Or proposal. Whatever.

We should start a new meme. "He went to Rome."

Pope ring. "He went to the Vatican"
Over the past few years, when receiving the call from Rome to come to the Vatican, we have seen leaders who call themselves Christian or evangelical, giggle and melt like the girls in the Jared commercials. The Vatican presents itself as the only place that you should consider buying your religion. They want you to know that they consider themselves at the Vatican Galleria the be-all, end-all, pinnacle of religion. They believe there is no other name in religion. Once they know "he went to Rome" Christian leaders melt, sigh, and that seals the deal.

Here are some 'Christian' leaders who in the recent past have gone to Rome to meet with the Pope.

The topic was marriage.

Rick Warren
Russell Moore
NT Wright

About the ecumenical meeting, Russell Moore said,
But all of us in this room share at least one thing in common,” said Moore. “We recognize that marriage and family is a matter of public importance, not just of our various theological and ecclesial distinctive communities,"

The topic was unity.

Joel Osteen
Mormon Senator Mike Lee
(Disgraced) CA pastor Tim Timmons

As to the above trio's meeting,
"The ecumenical meeting was a part of Pope Francis' on-going efforts to bring unity among Christians, previously stating in public remarks, "Divisions among us, but also divisions among the communities: evangelical Christians, orthodox Christians, Catholic Christians, but why divided? We must try to bring about unity."

The topic was (evangelical) Protestant-Catholic unity in Jesus' name.

James and Betty Robison Beth Moore's mentor and broadcasts weekly on LifeToday
Kenneth Copeland
Reverend Geoff Tunnicliff, CEO of the World Evangelical Alliance
Rev. Brian Stiller, from the World Evangelical Alliance
Rev. Thomas Schirrmacher, from the World Evangelical Alliance
Rev. John Arnott and his wife, Carol, co-founders of Partners for Harvest ministries in Toronto, Canada. 

As to the above 'evangelicals' meeting,
It was "an unprecedented moment between evangelicals and the Catholic Pope."
The topic was unity in Christ's name:

Pastor Giovanni Traettino
350 Pentecostals

Of the above meeting held in Caserta, Italy
Francis is particularly keen on establishing good relationships with evangelicals, convinced that even though disagreements exist over doctrine, it is still possible to love Christ and witness to him together.
Portuguese First Lady Maria Cavaco Silva kisses the ring of Pope Benedict XVI
while Portuguese President Anibal Cavaco Silva stands by May 11 2010.

In addition to the deeds of self-proclaimed 'evangelical' leaders going across the world to meet with Pope Francis, are the number of 'evangelical' leaders who ally with Rome in word.

Spoken this month by Pastor Robert Jeffress, senior pastor of First Baptist Dallas, a Southern Baptist Convention affiliated church, to Fox News host Bill O'Reilly Friday, February 6, 2015, about President Barack Obama's controversial remarks at the 63rd annual National Prayer Breakfast in Washington and Muslims extremism, is the following startling declaration-
"And I believe that Christians ought to be on the forefront of fighting this evil, and this is unmitigated evil … burning people alive … and that is why tonight, I am calling on Christians everywhere, Catholics and Protestants together, to join with our Jewish friends and demand that this president do whatever is necessary, including boots on the ground, to eradicate this cancer of ISIS and radical Islam before it destroys us." [emphasis mine]

Sadly, Catholics are not Christians. Yet sentiments like Jeffress' are becoming commonplace. Calls for partnerships, pleas for unity, and combining our efforts are the order of the day. And not from fringe sects but high-end supposedly conservative leaders.

The question is, if a religion or individual calls on the name of Jesus, is that all there needs to be to accept them as a brother? No. There are different Jesuses and there is This Same Jesus. (Acts 1:11). Here is John MacArthur in Declaring and Defending the Deity of Christ
If you’re believing in a false Jesus, you’re damned. You preach any other Christ than the true Christ, you’re damned, that’s Galatians 1. If you fail to love the true Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Corinthians 16, you’re cursed. We have to be loving and believing in the true Christ, not a false Christ, not a Christ of our own imagination, not some sentimental Jesus, not the Jesus of liberalism, not the Jesus of liberation theology, not the Jesus of Mormonism, not the Jesus of Islam, not the Jesus of private invention. Now, all false religions—listen--all false religions reject the true Jesus Christ of the Bible. They all do. That’s what constitutes them as false religions to start with. From Islam to Mormonism, if you want to go from something that is non-Christian to something that calls itself Christian, they all reject the true Christ. But, they all honor a false Christ.
But can't we all just get along, even partner briefly for a one-off? For Jesus' sake? No. MacArthur again-

Billy Graham met with Pope John Paul II in 1993.
It is ludicrous to imagine that Christians and Jews and Muslims, or Christians and anyone else in any other religion, can get together. It's impossible because all other systems of religion are against Christ. When that effort is made, the only thing that ever results is the loss of true Christianity. ~John MacArthur

That document circulated 20 years ago was an overt, visible leap of this dastardly move toward Rome. It was called Evangelicals and Catholics Together document, 1994. MacArthur explains why we do not partner with Rome, or any false religion, even briefly for a 'common' mission.

A recent document entitled “Evangelicals and Catholics Together: The Christian Mission in the Third Millennium,” signed by a number of prominent evangelicals, has neglected the wide doctrinal breach that separates evangelicalism and Roman Catholicism. It declares the unity of the two participating groups, emphasizes their common faith, allows for doctrinal differences, but states that the two nevertheless have a common mission. A fatal flaw in the document is its assumption that a common mission is possible in spite of the doctrinal differences.

Religion News Service did a 20-year retrospective on the document:

Evangelicals and Catholics Together marks 20 years, Feb 2014
(RNS) When evangelicals and Catholics set aside centuries of mutual suspicion 20 years ago, the idea was fairly simple: Even if we can’t always work together, at least let’s not work against each other.
But that's wrong. We are working against Rome, and every other principality that comes against the faith and against the faithful of the true Jesus Christ.

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. (Ephesians 6:12)

We DO fight against the evil forces. We never stop. Why?

For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, (Colossians 1:13)

We do not partner with Rome, or any false religion's leaders, or accept any part of their faith itself, not even for pragmatic reasons. Not even for reasons that we ourselves deem to be 'good.' If that was acceptable, Paul and Silas would have allowed the demon-possessed slave girl to keep following them and shouting-

These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation. (Acts 16:17)

Was there anything wrong with what she said? No, technically it was accurate. Paul and Silas were serving God, who is most high, and their message was salvation. All true. Just as Rome's message is that Jesus came to seek and save the lost, or that Jesus is the incarnated God, or that He is Messiah...none of those statements or beliefs are wrong. What is wrong is the source.

Paul did not need the dominion of hell and darkness to proclaim Light. It would be hypocritical in the extreme to say that hell is bad- except when it helps us, except when it's convenient. Never! We never partner with hell when it's easy, or convenient, or helpful. Because it never is.

It would have been insensitive in the extreme to mourn over this poor girl's bodily use by demons to sell fortunes for profit, and then cravenly use that same poor girl's body to proclaim the message of the cross.

From the same mouth come blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. (James 3:10)

And the most important reason is that we do not partner with evil to bring good. God forbade such partnerships and blessed the congregation that stays apart from them. Even when satan's throne is set in the city.

I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells. (To the church at Pergamum, Revelation 2:13)

Test these things, stay true to the purity of the bright Gospel of the true Shepherd!

Gold actually is dull. Fool's Gold in raw form reflects substantially more light and is often mistaken for gold. But it isn't.

All that glisters is not gold;  
Often have you heard that told:
Many a man his life hath sold  
But my outside to behold:  
Gilded tombs do worms enfold.  
Had you been as wise as bold,  
Young in limbs, in judgement old  
Your answer had not been inscroll'd
Fare you well, your suit is cold
Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare

Hold fast to the name of Jesus, the Jesus whose identity is specifically described in the bible. Not the Mormon Jesus. Not the Islamic Jesus/Isa. Not the Coptic Jesus. Not the Catholic Jesus.

And for the sake of all that is holy, don't go to Jared Rome. All that glitters is not gold.

(Top, gold. Bottom, fool's gold AKA pyrite)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14)

One Ring to rule them all,
One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all
and in the darkness bind them

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Prince Edward Island (nearly) obliterated by snow

A bit of news: from Canada's National Post

Prince Edward Island disappears into snowy Maritimes in satellite photo after massive winter storm
P.E.I., as well as parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, were hit with as much as 70 centimetres of snow on Sunday. (27inches of snow, or over two feet). The storm shut down Confederation Bridge, which connects New Brunswick and P.E.I., and made several other areas impassable, including the Cobequid Pass, a 45-kilometre toll highway in northern Nova Scotia.
From the Globe and Mail--
Monster snowfall completely buries cars and streets in PEI
Snow always makes driving more difficult, but in Prince Edward Island, so much of it has fallen many people can’t even find their cars. A winter storm has dropped almost a metre of snow (3.2 feet) in the past few days, and it’s often hard to see where the road ends and the ditch begins. On some rural roads, snowbanks are piled three times higher than the people standing next to them. The Journal Pioneer reported that some residents dug an eight-metre-long tunnel to try to find their car under white stuff piled two storeys high. The island itself is nearly invisible when viewed from space, as satellite images show.

All I can say

Encased in ice

Yesterday I wrote about Love Gone Cold. I am still thinking about love gone cold among those in the church, and thinking further still of just how cold that will be when the prophecy Jesus pronounced in Matthew 24:12 comes to full fruition in the Tribulation.

Of course, the weather in these parts (Georgia) is the basis for the thinking- it's cold. It's icy. We had an ice storm Tuesday which knocked out power for anywhere from a few minutes to two days. Mine was out for 12 hours. We had a winter storm warning two days after that, threatening a quarter inch of ice build-up, power outages, and sleet driven snow and rain. Fortunately that storm just nicked us as it took a sudden northerly turn. The sleet we did receive amounted to no damage and was quickly gone. Thank you Lord.

On Tuesday after the first predicted ice storm did hit, I went out and took lots of ice photos in my yard. We lost some limbs, the man next door lost a tree. All the grass, trees, and bushes were encased in ice. I looked in the bible and in poetry and online for uses of the word encased, and I found so little after so much looking I became at first frustrated, then amazed. Encased is not such an archaic word, after all. I liked my photo of the holly bush outside encased in ice. It seemed to me that the branches were veins of a living body, the blood flowing slower and slower as the ice built up on the outside, reflecting the slow drain of love away from the heart. Love gone cold.

Anyway I settled on a Robert Frost poem. We know from the bible that the world WILL end in fire (2 Peter 3:10) but prior to that, the Matthew 24:12 verse will make the world seem like it is encased in ice. The unbeliever of the Tribulation will not love. The believers will have love initially, but "the many" believers will grow increasingly cold, as the prophecy says.

It's interesting that Frost makes the comparison of hate with ice. Just as I mentioned, we think of love being warm or hot, but hate is cold. "Revenge is a dish best served cold" ... "a cold and icy stare"... "cold as ice" ... "break the ice"... "put the project on ice" ...

It makes me all the more grateful for the warm envelopment of grace and love the Lord bestows upon us daily. I pray my own love for Him and my love for other believers who have Him in them does not grow cold, dim, wane, or diminish in any way, as Jesus charged the church members at Ephesus-

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. (Revelation 2:4)

Let this be ever on my mind and heart:

Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

EPrata photo

Friday, February 20, 2015

Love gone cold in a world gone cold: Spurgeon and "A Prophetic Warning"

What word in the New Testament is used only once, in Matthew 24:12?

First, the scene.

Olive Trees With Yellow Sky and Sun. Van Gogh 1889
The disciples had asked Jesus about the Temple, the times, and when His return would be. His answer is the longest discourse in the NT after the Sermon on the Mount, and the longest answer to any question the disciples asked. It comprises the entire chapters of Matthew 24 and goes on to Matthew 25. The response, given on the Mount of Olives and thus known as the Olivet Discourse, is about the Tribulation period. The Time of Jacob's Trouble, when Jesus pours out His wrath on the unbelieving world, and punishes Israel for the final 7 years of time, three and a half of which are called the Great Tribulation. (Revelation 12:14, Daniel 7:25; Daniel 12:7).

Jesus lists the conditions that will be on earth during the time, synopsis of the lengthier descriptions of the judgments of Revelation 6-18, which parallel Matthew 24 and 25. Jesus said one of the conditions on earth will be:

And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. (Matthew 24:12)

The "many" here means the "majority."

Jesus means lawlessness in the spiritual sense. The Tribulation will be a time when Jesus asked if He would even find faith on the earth, so few will real believers be, (Luke 18:8) compared to the numerous population that will revel in a false religion of the global deception that the antichrist will perpetrate. The Greek synonyms for lawlessness in this verse are disobedience and sin, the end-result of a negative influence on a person's soul.

iniquity is especially injurious to the growth of love.
~Charles Spurgeon

It is an interesting metaphor, the love gone cold. We often think of love between a man and a woman or husband and wife, in romantic terms as fiery, hot, the spark between us, a fire is kindled. When love dims between unsaved people, the songsters sing of love cold as ashes, the fire is gone out, the heat is gone. Of course, the songsters and poets mean sexual love and romantic love, but it is a common metaphor, love is hot or cold.

The unusual word Jesus uses uniquely here in Matthew 24:12 is psuchó. Psucho is used this one and only time in the NT. Strong's Concordance defines it:
originally, "to breathe out," cf. J. Thayer) – properly, "to blow, refresh with cool air" (figuratively) "to breathe cool by blowing, to grow cold, 'spiritual energy blighted or chilled by a malign or poisonous wind', used only in Mt 24:12.
Here Jesus means the love of Christians will grow cold. Love will be cold for Him, and love will be cold for each other (the two greatest commandments).
What could not be accomplished by persecutors outside the Church and traitors inside, would be attempted by teachers of heresy—“Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.” They have risen in all ages! In these modern times they have risen in clouds till the air is thick with them, as with an army of devouring locusts!

These are the men who invent new doctrines and who seem to think that the religion of Jesus Christ is something that a man may twist into any form and shape that he pleases. Alas that such teachers should have any disciples! It is doubly sad that they should be able to lead astray “many.” Yet, when it so happens, let us remember that the King said that it would be so.

Is it any wonder that where such “iniquity abounds” and such lawlessness is multiplied, “the love of many shall grow cold”? If the teachers deceive the people and give them “another gospel which is not another,” it is no marvel that there is a lack of love and zeal.
Spurgeon, sermon #3301, A Prophetic Warning

Spurgeon spoke more as to the specifics of what causes love to grow cold, as the Strong's definition interestingly shows us from this basis, "spiritual energy blighted or chilled by a malign or poisonous wind'". Spurgeon poetically and theologically describes just how spiritual energy is blighted-
Iniquity is naturally opposed to Grace, but it is most of all injurious to the Grace of love. If sin abounds in a Church, it is little wonder if the love of many should grow cold. Young members introduced into the Church after a short time find that those whom they looked upon as being examples are walking disorderly and using lightness of speech and of behavior. Those young people cannot be very warm in love—they are led to stumble and are scandalized. Older saints who have for years held onto their way in integrity, and by Grace have kept their garments unspotted from the world, see those around them who have come into the Church who seem to be of quite another race, who can drink of the cup of Belial and of the cup of the Lord, who seem to follow Christ and the devil, too! Seeing this evil, these godly men and women gather up their garments in holy indignation and find it difficult to feel the love of purer days.

Oh, Friends, if the frost of sin rules in a Church, every tender flower is injured and nothing flourishes! Love is a sensitive plant and if it is touched by the finger of sin, it will show it. The lilies of Love’s Paradise cannot bloom amid the smoke and dust of unholiness!
I was reading the passage this week and thinking deeply about the theological definitions and implications of love gone cold (and Revelation 3:15-16 also). I was also reading the 'Christian" headlines and noting the devastating apostasy abounding, the acceptance of gay marriage in the church, the refusal to draw doctrinal lines between believers and unbelievers, the refusal to rebuke false teachers, the refusal even to recognize them, the seeking after pornography, the ridiculous church services that are mere entertainments for the goats...and I noted finally the weather.

I could not help but notice the rapid apostasizing of "Christians" and the rapid cooling of the world, especially Israel and America. The word psucho and its definition, "to breathe cool by blowing, to grow cold".

Love gone cold in a world gone cold

Niagara Falls, frozen over. Photo: Lindsay Dedario/Reuters

Chill wind gives cardinal bad hair day. Mary Reed Runyon photo
Snowflake. Mary Reed Runyon
Blizzards sweep Middle East, blankets even Negev, rare.
The army has put tracked vehicles on standby to help civilians in the least accessible areas after the latest blizzard. In neighbouring Jordan, most roads were blocked, including those in the capital, Amman. Authorities broadcast warnings to people not to leave their homes. Lebanon also saw heavy snowfall, with schools closed across the country and some mountain roads blocked. "There was heavy hail in Beirut, and snow has fallen from 200 metres above sea level," said Wissam Abu Hashfeh of Lebanon's Meteorological Service.
Snow in Golan Heights

A rare snow in the Negev Desert. Source JPost

Siberian Express Grips Midwest, Northeast, South; Four Cities Set All-Time Record Lows

120-year-old record low broken in D.C., one of many today and in the past week

'Ice volcano' forms at New York state park
The arctic conditions have turned a fountain at a state park in western New York into a five-story-tall "ice volcano." The pressure-fed fountain is in a pond near the Glen Iris Inn at Letchworth State Park, which straddles the Wyoming-Livingston county line 40 miles south of Rochester. Days of subzero temperatures have formed a solid cone of ice several feet thick with water still spouting out of the top. Park officials tell local media that the formation dubbed an ice volcano is at least 50 feet high.
Great Lakes most ice since recorded time
“Great Lakes ice is now running ahead of last year and ice will increase with more brutal cold coming,” says meteorologist Joe d’Aleo. “We are likely to have the most ice since records began.”
O church, where are you? Spurgeon said that a boat is fine even when waters storm outside it. But when the waters breach and stream inside the boat, the boat is in danger. It is the same with the church. When the world stays outside, no matter how they rage and storm, the church is OK. When the pollution of sin streams inside, there is the danger. Picture a boat frozen fast in the ice. Perhaps Shackleton's The Endurance...

As long as the mighty ship bounded over waves she was OK. It was what she was built for. But once she became stuck in the ice and no longer moved, the ice built up. It built up and climbed over the top of the masts. It pressured, and pressured, and pressured against her, until one day, the icy cold broke a plank. The frigid water streamed in, and once it did, it formed more ice. The heaviness of the icy weighed her down, eventually thwarting her ability to move. She was completely stuck.

Shackleton looking down as the ship lists
As plank after plank broke and the water breached, she sank.

The final sinking
So you see the cycle. Love grows cold, and that is because sin abounds. If not dealt with, the icy sin's fingers reach more hearts, and the ship of the church grows heavy and stuck. Sin unaddressed allows more sin, and eventually the pressure of so much sin breaks a plank and the world streams in. As it streams in, the ship of the church grows heavier, and eventually the pressures within and without sink her.

Of course the true church will never sink, but listen to Spurgeon's pleas from his sermon A Prophetic Word, Matthew 24:12

As all the water outside a vessel can do it no harm until it enters the vessel, itself, so outward persecutions cannot really injure the Church of God. But when the mischief oozes into the Church and the love of God’s people grows cold—ah, then the boat is in sore distress! I fear that we are much in this condition at the present hour. May the Holy Spirit bless the alarming prophecy now before us to our awakening!

And how much more applicable is the urgency at this hour, over one hundred years later!

Go to your Master and ask Him to fan the fire within you to a great heat, that if there should be cold everywhere else, there may be warmth in your bosoms! The Lord help you to do this, dear Friends, for Jesus Christ’s sake! Amen.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

God loves the Muslim terrorists of ISIS

I've written before of how many parallels there are between the ancient Ninevites and their brutality, and today's ISIS members and their terrorism. From the same region as Nineveh, Assyria now comes ISIS, which one of their own leaders called/calls himself "Prince of Nineveh." We know that the ancient Assyrians did not worship God but were pagan.

The ancient Ninevites were so held in terror and fear, and so firmly did the hapless cities which lay in their path know this, that oftentimes all the Assyrians had to do is march to a city and announce to the besieged residents a list all the other cities they had conquered, and capitulation would ensue almost immediately. (2 Chronicles 32:18)

As for their gleeful, maniacal brutality, the ancient Assyrians used to push meathooks into the jaws of captured prisoners of war and march them back to Nineveh. Others, they threw off ramparts as a warning, or skinned them alive and hung the skins over the walls to graphically illustrate the penalty for opposing them. Ancient Ninevites were brutal, bringing new meaning to the word.

ISIS is the same. From the exact region of ancient Nineveh, we see a re-emergence of that same demonic spirit. One of gleeful brutality, of worship of satanic gods, of horror and shock. We see swords flashing, heads rolling, blood-stained beaches, children fleeing, houses burning. We see exultation amid the black hooded ISIS men, and we pray for the people in their path, just as sister cities Lachish (which was conquered by the Assyrians, 2 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 32, Micah 1:13) and Jerusalem (which wasn't, 2 Chronicles 32:1-33, 2 Kings 19:35) endured.

Judean captives being led away into slavery by the Assyrians
after the siege of Lachish in 701 B.C.
But God loved the Ninevites.

Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, 2“Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.” (Jonah 1:1-2)

We know from the biblical account that Jonah did not do this. He fled in the other direction. Why, we're never quite told. Perhaps Jonah was afraid. After all, no one likes having a meathook put in their jaw and being led across the desert sands as a captive. Perhaps Jonah had had family that was killed at Lachish or some other place. Perhaps Jonah was simply afraid. We do know that Jonah resented God's version of justice. Salvation and repentance were not for the Ninevites, thought Jonah. "Why should they get it?" (Jonah 4:1)

The ancient Assyrian royal city of Kalhu, The archaeological site of Nimrud
was known in antiquity as Kalhu (biblical Calah). It is located just to the east
of the Tigris river, in what is nowadays northern Iraq, some 30 km (roughly 20 miles)
south of the the modern city of Mosul. Although Nimrud is now a peaceful archaeological
site in the countryside, in ancient times Kalhu was a huge and bustling city. It served
as the capital of the mighty Assyrian empire for nearly 200 years, from the early 9th to
the late 8th century BC, but was also inhabited for many centuries before and after.

Soon, Jonah needed to repent for his disobedience and hope in the LORD's mercy be extended to himself. And it was. God delivered Jonah from the great fish and then said a second time to go preach judgment, repentance and salvation to the Ninevites.

Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, “Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. (Jonah 3:1-3a)

The evil, brutal people heard the LORD in Jonah.

And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. (Jonah 3:5)

Starting with the King.

And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it. (Jonah 3:7-10)

God loves the ISIS terrorists, the folks of modern day Nineveh (Mosul) and all pagan peoples. We know this because back in the day God did the best thing possible for them: He sent Jonah to preach judgment and righteousness to them so that they may know the LORD. Today He sends missionaries for the same reason.

And the Lord said, “You pity the plant, for which you did not labor, nor did you make it grow, which came into being in a night and perished in a night. And should not I pity Nineveh, that great city, in which there are more than 120,000 persons who do not know their right hand from their left, and also much cattle?” (Jonah 4:10-11)
The main lesson of the book. If Jonah so pities a plant which cost him no toil to rear, and which is so short lived and valueless, much more must Jehovah pity those hundreds of thousands of immortal men and women in great Nineveh whom He has made with such a display of creative power, especially when many of them repent, and seeing that, if all in it were destroyed, “more than six score thousand” of unoffending children, besides “much cattle,” would be involved in the common destruction: Compare the same argument drawn from God’s justice and mercy in Gen 18:23–33.
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
but the persons in Nineveh whom God had compassion on were all the work of his own hands, whose being he was the author of, whose lives he was the preserver of, whom he planted and made to grow; he made them, and his they were, and therefore he had much more reason to have compassion on them, for he cannot despise the work of his own hands (Job 10:3). ... That though God may suffer his people to fall into sin, yet he will not suffer them to lie still in it, but will take a course effectually to show them their error, and to bring them to themselves and to their right mind again...That God will justify himself in the methods of his grace towards repenting returning sinners as well as in the course his justice takes with those that persist in their rebellion
Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible.

We can be a part of the effort to urge mercy rather than judgment. God loves and pities His wayward people, even the brutal ones.

there is one Lord over all, that is rich in mercy to all that call upon him, and in every nation, in Nineveh as well as in Israel, he that fears God and works righteousness is accepted of him; he that repents, and turns from his evil way, shall find mercy with him
Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Redeeming the Time

Ephesians 5:15-16

Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Of this passage in context, Matthew Henry said,
“These verses contain a caution against all manner of uncleanness, with proper remedies and arguments proposed: some further cautions are added, and other duties recommended.”
 One of the cautions is that the days are evil, so we redeem the time. If we do, we are wise. Henry further comments on the part about redeeming the time,
It follows, redeeming the time (v. 16), literally, buying the opportunity. It is a metaphor taken from merchants and traders who diligently observe and improve the seasons for merchandise and trade. It is a great part of Christian wisdom to redeem the time. Good Christians must be good stewards of their time, and take care to improve it to the best of purposes, by watching against temptations, by doing good while it is in the power of their hands, and by filling it up with proper work—one special preservative from sin.
Our time is a talent given us by God for some good end, and it is misspent and lost when it is not employed according to his design. If we have lost our time heretofore, we must endeavour to redeem it by doubling our diligence in doing our duty for the future.
The Bible Exposition Commentary by Warren Wiersbe says of the Eph 5:15-16 verses,
It is a mark of wisdom (v. 15). Only a fool drifts with the wind and tide. A wise man marks out his course, sets his sails, and guides the rudder until he reaches his destination. When a man wants to build a house, he first draws his plans so he knows what he is doing. Yet, how many Christians plan their days so that they use their opportunities wisely? True, we cannot know what a day may bring forth (James 4:13–17). But it is also true that a planned life can better deal with unexpected events. Someone said, “When the pilot does not know what port he is heading for, no wind is the right wind.”
Life is short (v. 16a). “Buying up the opportunity—taking advantage of it.”

An old Chinese adage says, “Opportunity has a forelock so you can seize it when you meet it. Once it is past, you cannot seize it again.” Our English word opportunity comes from the Latin and means “toward the port.” It suggests a ship taking advantage of the wind and tide to arrive safely in the harbor. The brevity of life is a strong argument for making the best use of the opportunities God gives us.
I ask Jesus to expand the time for me, to help me make use of the time, and to convict me when I fail to be “wise.” He always hears that prayer, because it belies a heart that wants to glorify Him more, and not less. If I can glorify Him one minute more each day, even one minute, by purposeful prayer, or conduct, or bible study, then that is a beautiful thing.

EPrata artwork, paper collage, scanned, & digitally altered

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Book recommendation: In The Footsteps of Faith

I was given a gift certificate to, and one of the books I purchased is In the Footsteps of Faith, by John F. MacArthur. The book blurb says,
"By highlighting the defining moments of their lives and discussing the impact of their responses to tough times and to God, John MacArthur unveils lessons of faith and servanthood from beloved men and women of the Bible."

In the Footsteps of Faith examines the lives of several men and women of the bible. * Noah * Abraham * Moses * Rahab * Hannah * Jonah * Mary * John the Baptist * Peter * Paul * Lydia * Timothy * Epaphroditus * Jesus

I've read the first two 'faith bios', (Noah, Abraham) and I enjoy the book very much. I recommend it highly. I don't like marking my books with pen or highlighting, so I use a colored transparent post-it kind of arrow to stick on the paragraph or sentence I want to return to. Just in the first two bios I have a ton of sticky arrows poking out of the book. It makes the book look like a porcupine. But there are so many gems to mark, this:
We base our present lives and future destinies on invisible realities. It has always been that way for followers of God.

Faith in Him is the only means God has ever provided for people to be justified. Faith is never the ground for justification, the death of Christ is. Faith is simply the channel through which God applies His saving grace.

Anyone who trusts in physical circumcision, or any other such work or ceremony, in order to be made right with God places himself under the law's impossible demands and voids Christ's sacrificial death on his behalf.

When faith does weaken, it is often because we allow doubt to cloud and undermine it.
Of course these read better in context. The point is, what a blessing to have a storm day when it's quiet, with no power and thus no internet distractions, to read an edifying book and ponder the majesty and mysteries of Christ and His followers who went before us.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Monday, February 16, 2015

Copts are not Christians

I had planned to write this earlier and I saw the Pastor Hall at Pulpit & Pen had written an essay on the exact topic (linked below). So I'll keep mine brief.

What the terror group ISIS is doing is undoubtedly evil. No person, village, or region should have to suffer the tortures and terrors perpetrated upon them like the Islamic ISIS maniacs have done. I want to say, and this will likely be unpopular, but the 21 Egyptian Coptics that were beheaded recently were not Christian. Copts are not Christian. They are not martyrs for the faith, they will not be resurrected to a glorified body in heaven, and Revelation 20:4 does not apply to them.

Copts have popes, believe verbal confession to priests is necessary for the forgiveness of sins, worship icons and idols, are highly sacramental and ritualistic, pray to dead "saints" asking for their intercession of the living, believe in apostolic succession (from John Mark), have a works based theology of salvation, and more. Orthodox Coptics are a split-off from Roman Catholicism. Again, Coptics are not Christians.

There is an outline of what Copts believe here.

What happened to the 21 Egyptian men on the beach is horrific, but please stand on the Gospel and remember that Copts are an unreached people group needing evangelism, not veneration as brother martyrs.


Further Reading

Coptic Christians Not Christians, Evangelical Leaders Need reminding

Coptic beliefs from Encyclopedia Coptica

Visual Theology: Chris Powers & Full of Eyes

Chris Powers is doing magnificent work. I've written about him before, here

Chris explains that his website, Full of Eyes, exists,
to see, savor, and sing the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, using pixel, ink, and word. I hope to do this through Christ-exalting, Biblically-submitted, heart-haunting videos about the glory of Jesus Christ, the Son and Image of God.
With the continued help of various song artists, and the support of the Body of Christ, my plan is to make these videos and resources available for free to the global Church.

Chris does a fantastic job of bringing visual theology to life. In addition to wonderful videos, tract cards, and other artistic representations, Chris has been hard at work developing curricula to supplement each of his videos.

For his startling video "It's Not Enough", about sin and idolatry, Chris developed a study guide for small groups. It is available in Spanish as well. The study guide is free, as all his work is free to use for the glory of Christ. More study guides will be coming along as h transitions to working on his animations full time.

Here is his caption for the piece below.
Christ alone gives us unshakable peace because HE HIMSELF is our peace (Eph. 2:14). In this picture you can see all the world's promises of peace shattering like teetering towers of stone in the face of a tidal wave...and even though the Christian is certainly buffeted by troubles (John 16:33), in the face-to-face fellowship we have with Christ, there is untouchable peace... we all grow in the knowledge of Christ, our Peace!" 
Below is his sketch

Please visit Chris's website, order his tract cards (I did and they're wonderful), listen to the music & animated videos, and if you feel led, support him monetarily through Patreon or Gaius.

We definitely want to support and encourage the next generation coming up, and Chris is one of the good guys, doing Kingdom work in faith and humility.

Further Reading

Tim Challies and Visual Theology

Vyrso Visual Verse of the Day

John Bunyan, the first visual theologian, Mappe Shewing Order and Causes of Salvation

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 ...