Saturday, April 30, 2016

The greatest sentence in the entire Bible?

"It is always a foolish thing to say that anyone thing in scripture that one sentence is greater than anything else. But I think we can safely say this; that this is certainly the greatest sentence in the whole Bible."
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said that quite possibly the opening sentence of Ephesians 1 is the most important in the entire Bible.
"Once more, we are looking at this great sentence, which starts as you remember, at the beginning of verse 3, and runs right on until the end of verse 14."

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ  as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth."

"In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." (Ephesians 1:3-14).

Find out why Dr. MLJ believes this, here in his great sermon from Ephesians 1:11-14, "We...Ye Also"

Friday, April 29, 2016

Strange Fire Q&A: Beth Moore

One hundred years ago, the modern Pentecostal movement was born. By October 2013 the Pentecostal movement has morphed into the Charismatic movement with its particular brand of false doctrine and had infected much of western Christianity and polluted quite a bit of Christianity abroad. The excesses of the movement include faith healing, reports of raising the dead, babbling tongues, alleged prophecies and direct revelation, disorderly church services and worse. The movement assaulted the sufficiency of scripture, the inerrancy of scripture, besmirched the name of Jesus Christ and damaged the faith of many.

John MacArthur and his team at Grace To You took a stand against this movement and sought to bring clarity to why its doctrines needed comparison to the Bible correction. To that end, they organized the Strange Fire Conference, held in the fall of 2013. One of the main purposes of the conference was to initiate a substantive discussion about these issues. It achieved its purpose. Every sermon preached at the conference rebuked the movement simply by preaching the truth, and brought correct biblical doctrine to the fore. Given the outcry, it seems that the effect was immediate.

There were many good questions asked at the various seminars and Q & A sessions held during the conference period, but not all of them could be immediately answered. After the conference concluded, ministers and theologians at Grace Community Church and The Master's Seminary wrote out answers to these unanswered questions, compiled them, and put them on one web page.

The page is a treasure trove of good, solid rebuttals to and practical helps about what to do if encountering Charismatic doctrines in your church, in your family, or in yourself.

Here is just one of the Q&A's from the Strange Fire web page.

FYI, before you read the Q, in my own opinion, Moore passed the "heretical" mark in June 2013. Moore had said she had been lifted into another dimension by "Jesus" to see the global church as He sees it (!), to return and "tell", (!!) and that the global church had apparently included the Catholic Church as a Christian denomination. This puts her on the far side of heretical, because Jesus would never do any of those three things, make a personal visit to earth, (Mt 23:39, Acts 1:11); give new extra-biblical revelation to be delivered as if Moore was a Prophet, (Rev 22:18-19); and include a false religion in His message. Nonetheless, here is the SF question from


Can you talk about the dangers of popular teachers who are not heretical but say that God talks to them? I am thinking specifically of Beth Moore.What are we to do with people who refuse to see the danger and insist such teachers are OK
Believers must always listen carefully when any teacher or preacher speaks about the Bible and theology.They must share the nobility of the Berean saints whom Luke commended for double checking Paul’s teaching according to Scripture (cf. Acts 17:1–11).While Beth Moore teaches with accuracy on some points, she also holds positions and teaches doctrines that are both incorrect and dangerous.  
Beth Moore promotes contemplative prayer, a mystical practice not found in Scripture which includes elements of eastern mysticism.  She chooses not to draw firm doctrinal lines on her website while implying the Roman Catholic Church is a Christian denomination alongside the Methodist, Baptist, and other denominations.  Beth also claims that she has received visions from God and sometimes receives revelation from Him in her heart.  From these examples we must conclude that the lack of biblical and theological depth in Beth Moore’s teaching renders her a dubious and dangerous source of Bible teaching.You may read a critique of Beth Moore’s teaching here.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Buffer and Newspaper Exegesis

I mentioned yesterday that I'm slow to adopt new social media or technology fads, so as to maintain a streamlined focus on the main online ministry I have set before me, which is make Christ known, and offer credible and solid resources to women and new Christians for growth enhancement.

I mentioned this because I saw a new gizmo on my blog's "Add This" button. It's called Buffer. I looked into it. Basically, it is a one stop shop whereupon for free (or more, for a fee) one can blast a set of self-selected material onto your chosen social media pages throughout a 24-hour staggered period.

I signed up.

Now, to load content. As a blogger at The End Time, I'd been in the mindset all along of a journalist. "Fresh content only on the blog". So I write every day. Only a handful of times have I re-posted something. But then I thought, I've blogged daily since 2009 and I've published over 3,600 essays. It might be good to offer the older ones to a new 'generation' of blog readers. Because as we all know, a new generation is born on the internet every two to three minutes. LOL, not really, but attention spans are short. 2009 was 7 years ago, an ancient lifetime ago in internet years.

The Holy Spirit in His grace has dispensed to me His gifts of prophecy, discernment, and encouragement. I love prophecy. I love all of it. As a newbie Christian I cut my teeth eagerly on Jeremiah, Nahum, Obadiah. The OT prophets were the books I read first. Genesis, and all the OT prophets, before even turning to the New Testament and John. When I did turn to the NT, it was to Revelation.

As a child born in 1960, my first memory was of the Beatles in February 1964 (I had turned three years old just about 7 weeks before) and all the screaming. I was annoyed with the screaming. I thought it was nonsense that the screaming went on so long that one could not hear the actual music. I was precocious perhaps, autistic children usually are, and sometimes have advanced thought processes early. But the point is, my very first memory is of out of control girls screaming wildly. It was a chaotic scene.

My home was filled with aware and engaged parents observing current events on the newly invented television. They often discussed them as I listened. I often watched Viet Nam casualties loaded onto helicopters with newsman Walter Cronkite's mournful intonation recounting the deaths and injuries. I always wondered why the injuries far outstripped the casualties. Real-time war reporting was fairly new, and the living technicolor also showed the color of the blood. As a child watching constant war during my formative decade it made an impression.

In addition to war, was strife. Civil Rights riots, Race Riots, marches in the streets for gay rights and feminist rights, protests, and the 1968 Democratic Convention carnage all passed before my observant eyes. My active but immature brain attempted to process all that I was seeing. Remember, as an autistic kid, what was on the TV was more real to me than what I was actually experiencing in life. It always has been.

In my formative years it seemed that things were out of control. As I grew to teenager years, I became aware that war and famine and chaos and strife has always been part of the human experience. I wondered why. I wondered why a LOT. I often thought that there had to be a reason. See, if war had always been present, and humans have always been present, there must be a reason why we have such a proclivity to war. And hate. And chaos. It just seemed obvious to me.

Every night for nearly 20 years, we would hear newsman Walter Cronkite sign off on his famous tagline, "And that's the way it is, tonight, May 24, 1967."

No! No, that's NOT the way it is! It can't be! There has to be a reason!

Autistic kids often attempt to find the secret pattern that they know is underlying everything. They look for an underlying order, a mathematical equation, a musical beat, a chronology, something, that will make everything make sense. It was agonizing not to know. But when the Light burst through my dead heart to regenerate it, and I learned that the underlying pattern to everything is Jesus, I lit up like a Roman candle.

I loved the notion that there was order, and purpose and a Controller in charge of it all. I loved that since the beginning God was in charge and for all the perplexing things that happen and have happened in the scope of perhaps 7000 years of human history in the world, there has been a reason. Because, you see, I've always looked for a reason. When I learned why things were the way they were, I went A-HA!! in a big way.
A haqrd copy collage I did which I scanned and digitally manipulated.
This is "Peace that Passeth" and shows how calm I feel now with the world news
still being chaotic but what a difference the biblical worldview has made.
Suddenly seeing all the news through a Godly worldview and not a confusing, incomprehensible, human world view made everything burst with color and light. There was a reason! There was order!

When I looked at the news I now knew why peace in the middle east was so elusive. I'd lived through the Six-Day War, the Yom Kippur, The Camp David Accord. I'd lived through assassination after assassination. I'd lived through Iran's rise and the Soviet Union's Fall, and rise again. Looking at the paper made me understand what God was doing because i understood not only about sin, but His long-term plan and humankind's redemption

Having a new worldview to see things though was fun so at the beginning of the blog's life I did a lot of newspaper exegesis. I was thrilled. I'm not unhappy nor am I embarrassed. One can go too far in it, and come up with crackpot ideas, to be sure. I hope I didn't do that. But I did enjoy flexing the boundaries of my newly grace-given worldview. Suddenly that order and pattern was there and I shared my perspective of it.

I'm still entranced with how things are moving in the news. I'm still vastly grateful the LORD gave me, through His Son and His Spirit, a perspective framework through which I can know, and I DO know. I'm also pleased to see even in the first month of life on this blog, essays which were of prophecy, discernment, and encouragement and which were not newspaper exegesis. Those are the ones I'm Buffering out.

As I send out 2009 and beyond The End Time stories through Buffer, and if you choose to explore here, have fun, don't think too ill of me, and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Advice for online Christian ministry women

I try to maintain a social media presence only to the extent that it serves me posting things about Jesus. That's my main focus. Occasionally I become aware that there are other venues out there besides Facebook, Blogger and Twitter for social media engagement, There's LinkedIn, which I haven't used, new things like Snapchat, Periscope, and Meerkat, but those platforms have content expiration dates, which defeats the purpose of having a long-term stable platform onto which a person can find my material years later. There's Instagram, but I don't have a mobile phone. There's Peach, Kik, YikYak, Bebo and lots of new, trendy platforms coming along now. The wheel is getting bigger all the time, even as they claim the world is getting smaller.

Just as you do when starting a business, I think that incorporated Christian bloggers or even lone Christian bloggers with a particular mission in focus need to have at least a mental "business plan." Personally I am gearing up to incorporate simply because I want to sell an eBook or two and being incorporated is the safest way to go when it comes to tax time.

However, I only investigate using a new social media to the extent that it prayerfully seems to serve my two purposes, which are, make Christ and His glories known; and to offer credible resources that connect new Christians, mature Christian women, and seekers, to quality content that will help them grow. That's my 'business plan'. Those two. Every once in a while I reassess to make sure those are still two viable goals and if I am still tracking in them. It's easy to drift in ministry, even online ministry. Especially online ministry!

It is so easy to wander into a Jen Hatmaker or Glennon Melton or She Reads Truth blog and think one is reading about Christ, and thus the new Christian babe gets confused from the start. I'll always be grateful that after a false walk with Joel Osteen my first months out of the gate after the cross, I landed at John MacArthur's Grace To You radio program and there I am still. Who MacArthur quoted, I read. Who he mentioned, I followed up with. And so it expanded from there to Phil Johnson, Don Green, Justin Peters, Boice, Barnhouse, Shepherds Conference speakers like Mohler, Lawson, Begg, Pennington, Sproul, etc, and you see how the circle expands from there.

Get lumped in to a Voskamp blog or study and you wind up with Angie Smith, Shauna Niequist, Beth Moore, Joyce Meyer and the rest. The circle goes both ways. It is wise not to get drawn-in to a bad one. Those kinds of circles shrink around you like a boa constrictor, attempting to squeeze the life from you.

It is also very easy to become distracted from whatever is the main, online goal you have set before you. The Lord has allowed me to organize my life in a way that I have a stable, fulfilling job which salary sustains me in a reasonably frugal way yet not left wanting, and leaves me energy afterward to do my real work, which is write. I employ the gift of the Spirit of edification and discernment in my writing and this serves me in my local church, in and among the women with whom I work, and in online-only relationships. Those are my three spheres. I look at my life as one of service where my 9-5 job is not my real job but only the vehicle that allows me to study, worship, attend church, charitably support, and minister. Like Paul's tentmaking. (Acts 18:3-4).

It is good for a Christian woman who maintains an online presence occasionally to ask herself some questions. Just as we are to test ourselves occasionally to see if we are in the faith, (2 Corinthians 13:5), so too, like careful stewards of the "Father's Business Plan" we need to make sure we are still on His point.

1. Am I still in the center line of His will? Years ago if you've started a blog, or an online endeavor of some kind, like a newsletter, or an online course etc, if it does not seem to be working any more it is OK to reassess. We usually maintain the same gifts throughout our lives but sometimes He might want you to concentrate on one of your other gifts entirely, or use the same gift in a different way. See below regarding Benziger and Lesley.

2. Am I still effective at this? I am not thinking of results. Results are the Lord's. I'm thinking, it is still a joy to perform the online ministry? Do you approach it with dread? Prayerlessness? Bitterness? Habit? Or does it still fulfill you spiritually? Bring tears to your eyes for the small mercies and quiet triumphs? For even one lost or questioning soul connected? Do you still have an awe or fear of the Lord when you perform it?

3. Does it seem like the Lord is moving to allow time for your online endeavor, or is it taking away from the family? Have the number of family complaints increased lately? Have other more important or more local things suffered as you've devoted time to the online world? When you're on the online world, do you drift away from the ministry and become unfocused and waste time? Are you staying up late to hurriedly finish because you've wasted time online during the day instead? Do you feel the quality of the work is still good enough to lay at the Lord's feet?

4. Have I compromised? Have I succumbed to neediness or wanting acceptance so I have linked to blogs that are not as edifying, or quoted a few popular females in the dazzling Christian celebrity world, simply to get attention or hits? It's easy to do that. Compromise is always incremental. you don't wake up one day with a blogroll full of Raechel Myers' or Jen Hatmaker links, it happens slowly, then all at once. Have I avoided hard topics because I don't ant controversy or am I still writing or ministering without fear of favor, throughout the entire Bible?

These are just a bare few ideas about us women maintaining an online ministry. Tim Challies wrote a while back about conservative women's blogs that have gone cold. It might be worth a re-read. Several male bloggers, podcasters, and other online presences have recently announced they are taking time off, or redirecting their energies elsewhere for a while. Sometimes that happens. As I said, when one becomes unfocused and "diversifies" in one's ministries too quickly. Sometimes it happens because other life events simply come along. It is OK to let it go, as the overused saying, well, goes. It is OK to reassess and prayerfully decide to take a step back.

Or perhaps the Lord is moving you in a direction that will stretch you and magnify Him even more!

Sometimes even more joyfully, reassessment means to take a step forward! Blogger Erin Benziger announced she was starting Equipping Eve, and twice monthly radio show under the auspices of No Compromise Radio/Pastor Mike Abendroth. That led to an opportunity to lead a discernment talk at the Answers for Women: Discern Conference. Michelle D. Lesley announced in January of this year a slow-down in daily blog writing and a restructuring of the blog's content in order to focus on a book project. Recently she also announced she was organizing a conference for women. She also began to solicit guest bloggers. Even a bit further back Tim Challies allowed for sponsorship of his blog and the guest posts that come with it, in order to aid him in a restructuring of content and his own daily tasks.

Our lives in service are fluid and at His behest. If you're a woman reading this, your first point of service is your own devotion to Jesus in reading the Word, prayer, and home. Then faithful worship and service at church, and to the saints there. And then online activity/ministry.

Stay prayerful and intentional with your online ministry. Try not to diversity too fast. A while back an offer came along but I humbly declined it because I felt I was not up to the task. And that is the crux of it. We don't do this for ourselves.We don't do this even for the sisters. We do this for Jesus. I want this to be my best work, all the time. Because He is worth my best efforts.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The text that enlivened Luther, and you should know of the man who wrote about it, Frank W. Boreham

A remarkable book called A bunch of everlasting; or, Texts that Made History was written by
by Frank Boreham, who lived from 1871-1959. He published this remarkable book in 1920. The reason it is called 'texts that made history' is because Boreham is exploring the scripture that the recipient identifies as the one that broke through his dead soul to revive it to regeneracy. Conversion stories are always wonderful to read, and his book is full of them.  He delves into how the verse woke up a dead heart and it's a joy to read over and over how sometimes just a snippet of God's word regenerated a soul.

In Martin Luther's case, the Light dawned with the sudden understanding of the just shall live by faith. (Romans 1:17,Galatians 3:11,Hebrews 10:38)

Before we get to the everlasting text, here is about the author of the book, a short bio from the Frank Boreham Tribute site, regarding this Christian Preacher and prolific writer you should know. He died on May 18, 1959, in Melbourne, Australia.


Dr. Frank William Boreham (FWB) was born March 3rd 1871 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. Although being raised in a Christian home, it wasn't until he left home to take up employment in London that he shortly afterward became a Christian. His conversion was so dramatic that he quickly sensed a call to be a preacher. But he realised that his ability to preach would be greatly enhanced by improving his ability to write. He also reckoned that a preacher's reach could be dramatically improved by writing. This resulted in him being published at quite a young age and gaining a profile that many preachers with much more experience had not yet attained. He was given a scholarship by the great Charles Haddon Spurgeon to Pastors College where his four year program was cut short when the College asked him to go to New Zealand and join the growing band of Baptist pioneers in a small town outside of Dunedin called Mosgiel. This town was largely the making of F.W. Boreham. It became the backdrop to many of his 55 best selling books that would go on to attain sales and re-sales of what is estimated conservatively to be around 20 million copies. Toward the end of his life, FWB was honoured by Queen Elizabeth with an OBE for Services to Preaching and Literature. He is regarded by Banner of Truth Trust as one of the 20 greatest preachers of all time.
One of the 20 greatest preachers of all time? Why didn't I know this sooner! As Warren Wiersbe said, "I trust that a generation ignorant of Frank W. Boreham has not arisen." I will do my best to commend to you this writer, preacher, and Christian of excellent quality so as the Body, or even one of us, might become edified.

Now here is the excerpt from Boreham's book, A Bunch of Everlasting and the text that awoke Martin Luther-

It was the unveiling of the Face of God! Until this great transforming text flashed its light into the soul of Luther, his thought of God was a pagan thought. And the pagan thought is an unjust thought, an unworthy thought, a cruel thought.

Look at this Indian devotee! From head to foot he bears the marks of the torture that he has inflicted upon his body in his frantic efforts to give pleasure to his god. His back is a tangle of scars. The flesh has been lacerated by the pitiless hooks Martin Luther's by which he has swung himself on the terrible churuka. Iron spears have been repeatedly run through his tongue. His ears are torn to ribbons. What does it mean? It can only mean that he worships a fiend! His god loves to see him in anguish! His cries of pain are music in the ears of the deity whom he adores! This ceaseless orgy of torture is his futile endeavour to satisfy the idol's lust for blood.

Luther made precisely the same mistake. To his sensitive mind, every thought of God was a thing of terror. 'When I was young,' he tells us, it happened that at Eisleben, on Corpus Christi day, I was walking with the procession, when, suddenly, the sight of the Holy Sacrament which was carried by Doctor Staupitz, so terrified me that a cold sweat covered my body and I believed myself dying of terror.' All through his convent days he proceeds upon the assumption that God gloats over his misery. His life is a long drawn out agony. He creeps like a shadow along the galleries of the cloister, the walls echoing with his dismal moanings. His body wastes to a skeleton; his strength ebbs away : on more than one occasion his brother monks find him prostrate on the convent floor and pick him up for dead. And all the time he thinks of God as One who can find delight in these continuous torments! The just shall live, he says to himself, by penance and by pain. The just shall live by fasting: the just shall live by fear.

'The just shall live by fear!' Luther mutters to himself every day of his life.
'The just shall live by faith!' says the text that breaks upon him like a light from heaven.

'By fear! By fear!'
'By faith! By faith!'

With the coming of the text, Luther passes from the realm of fear into the realm of faith. It is like passing from the rigours of an arctic night into the sunshine of a summer day; it is like passing from a crowded city slum into the fields where the daffodils dance and the linnets sing; it is like passing into a new world; it is like entering Paradise!


Further Reading--

You can read the Boreham book either online or download it here

It is available at Amazon here

Documentary video on Frank Boreham, Navigating Strange Seas part 1 of 4, here

7-part essay series on FW Boreham here

Warren Wiersbe on Boreham, here

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Altar is Closed Forever!

This is a sermon given by my pastor of North Avenue Church in Athens GA. We are going through Genesis, and our Pastor has arrived at a "difficult and puzzling" verse about the mysterious figure of the Priest-King Melchizedek in Genesis 13-14.

First to mention, is that I am completely proud that our pastor does not skip difficult or puzzling verses. He digs right in with studious joy, and delivers the information in a comprehensible and engaging way. Listen through to the last part where the Gospel comes rushing at you.

Here is the blurb for the sermon, "How can Jesus be both our great High Priest and our King? How can he be both David's son and Lord? What does this mean for our lives? The author of Hebrews says this story is "hard to explain" and that it contains "meat for the mature" not "milk" for infants. So get ready to put on your floaties and hop into the deep end of the pool!"

Further Reading:

The End Time: Jesus as High Priest

The End Time: Melchizedek, one of the Bible's most mysterious Characters

Let Us Reason: The Priesthood of Melchizedek

Grace To You: Bible Q&A- Who was Melchizedek?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Loving Jesus for Who He is

This was first published on The End Time on 8/20/2012

He was manifested in the flesh,
vindicated by the Spirit,
seen by angels,
proclaimed among the nations,
believed on in the world,
taken up in glory.
(1 Timothy 3:16)

Hans Memling: Christ surrounded by musician angels
Our love for Him does not rest on positive circumstances. It does not rest on signs or gifts or prosperity or works. It rests on the simple fact that He is the only One deserving of all glory. He is the Sinless, Perfect One, and He came down to the dirt and the mire to life a life under submission to God and to die an unjust agonizing death so our sins would be propitiated.

Be humble in yourselves but boast of Jesus. Be meek in attitude but be confident in His promises. He is coming soon, and all promises will soon be fulfilled. Won't it be awesome when we see Him as He is?

"Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is." (1 John 3:2)

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Of Church Color Runs and Hindu Holi Festivals

This week I've been writing about rituals and practices that Christianity has imported from pagan religions, specifically, coloring mandalas. Here is a list of these practices I've mentioned or written in the past months--

--Prayer beads (Catholic, Buddhist)
--Coloring mandalas (Buddhist, Hindu)
--Bible art journaling, (Celtic, Islamic Illumination)
--Labyrinths  (Catholic, goddess religions)
--Circle making (Wicca, earth religions)
--Contemplative prayer (Eastern religions, New Age cults)
--Lectio Divina (Mystic Religions, Catholic)
--Yoga (Hindu)

A freiend made me aware of another Hindu practice that is popping up in Christian activity schedules. It's "The Color Run." Many churches sponsor a 5K run for fun, health, or fundraising. This is great. These runs are a lot of fun and bring the community together. However, The Color Run has a specific feature added to it specifically ripped from a Hindu festival.

In "The Color Run, The Happiest 5K on the Planet", as it dubs itself, runners are doused with colored powder at various locations during the run. The US Company describes The Color Run-

The Color Run, also known as the Happiest 5k on the Planet, is a unique paint race that celebrates healthiness, happiness, and individuality. Now the single largest event series in the world, The Color Run has exploded since our debut event. We have more than tripled our growth, hosting more than 225 events in 35+ countries in 2015.
The Color Run, Tempe Arizona
Is The Color Run terrible in and of itself? Of course not. However, churches are now doing The Color Run and they should know that the Paint Race is certainly NOT "unique" as they stated. It is actually a Hindu festival and has been performed as a ritualistic celebration of victory of good over evil for two thousand years. Named Holi, the festival is
a spring celebration of love, frolic, and colours.
Holi celebrations start on the night before Holi with a Holika bonfire where people gather, do religious rituals in front of the bonfire, and pray that their internal evil should be destroyed as the bonfire starts. The next morning is celebrated as Rangwali Holi - a free-for-all carnival of colours. where participants play, chase and colour each other with dry powder and coloured water, with some carrying water guns and coloured water-filled balloons for their water fight.

Holi celebration at Sri Radha Krishna Temple, Utah, US. Wikipedia
Here is the explanation of why colors are used in the Holi celebration. It's convoluted, but it gives a sense of the deep pagan origins of this ritual. In sum, Holi is short for "Holika", the evil sister of the demon king Hiranyakashipu. The demon king began to grow arrogant, thought he was God, and ordered everyone to worship only him. There was battle between those who were loyal to demon king Hiranyakashipu and those loyal to Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu's own son was loyal to Vishnu and as a result he was cruelly tortured by Hiranyakashipu. Hiranyakashipu's evil sister Holika tricked her nephew Prahlada into sitting on a pyre, while she was encased in a cloak that made her immune to the flames. But the cloak flew off her and onto Prahlada, and thus Holi was burned and Prahlada survived. Some other Lords and gods arrived to finish the deal and vanquish the usurper Hiranyakashipu. The next day, when the fire had cooled down, people applied ash to their foreheads. Eventually, coloured powder instead of ash came to be used to celebrate Holi.

The problem comes when churches mindlessly adopt this activity without knowing it is actually an important Hindu spring ritual. First Christian Church of Dyersburd wrote in their promotion of their "Color Run,"

How does a color run work?
All runners start out squeaky clean, decked out in white garb. During the run, color stations will be set up periodically throughout the course. At each color station, our "highly skilled" and "highly trained" paint throwers will toss paint powder on the runners going by. Note: do not slow down or stop in the color stations, as this causes a bottleneck for the runners behind you. Throughout the race, you'll be painted several times in several colors, resulting in a highly hued, highly energized runner. Once the race is over, all participants will gather for a mass paint throwing (think Lebron James meets Rainbow Bright). Afterwards, stick around for a celebration including food & drink, music, and hundreds upon hundreds of selfies.
I am not judging anyone who has participated in a Color Run. I would hope that Churches would not adopt the Hindu celebration of Holi as a Western version of a celebration/festival/5K run. However most of the church sites that I have looked at do conclude the Color Run afterwards with food, music, dancing, and other frolics, making the Hindu Holi Fest and the Church 5K virtually indistinguishable. Please refer to the photos above of the Hindu Fest and the Church Color Run if you disagree.

I'm not against fun, but adopting a Hindu practice to have that fun is allowing the world to enter the Church. We can have our own fun as Christians, without the unnecessary layer of a pagan festival. My personal opinion is that churches should not adopt this ritual, and if they do, they should let their people know its origins so their people can make informed decisions as to whether or not to participate.

Do not worship the Lord your God in the way the pagan people worship their gods (Deuteronomy 12:4).

Thoppu Karanam in India
AKA 'Super Brain Yoga' in US
As for the practice of ripping off another culture's practices, that is another discussion entirely. Last year when the Hindu Practice of Thoppu Karanam was ripped from Hindu Prayer Practices and re-made into American Super Brain Yoga, one Hindu man opined,
The legend behind "Thoppu Karanam" is that Lord Vishnu performed this "Thoppu Karanam" in front of Lord Ganapathi to recover his "Sudarshan Chakra" which was snatched by Ganapathi. Thus, Thoppu Karanam is performed as a prayer before Lord Ganesha by holding the hands crosswise across the chest with the fingers holding the earlobes and bending down and then getting up. 
Interestingly, the "Thoppu Karanam" has now attained international status thanks to fellow Americans who now call this as "Super Brain Yoga". They have found through medical research that doing these special kind of sit ups while holding the opposite earlobes stimulates the brain power and increases the memory power. I hope they will not charge us while we perform Thoppu Karanam.
Satan is the most cunning and subtle animal in the Garden. (Genesis 3:1), His wiles are legendary. Ephesians 6:11 says "Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil," Should t we be doing our utmost not to mirror the world? Shouldn't we be working hard to be a distinct people, and not engage in even what seems like a pagan ritual, never mind an actual pagan ritual? How many times were the Israelites warned not to delve into the pagan practices in Egypt? (Lev 18:3). Idol worship was a powerful temptation, and it still is.

The Expository Files explain:
Our English word 'wiles' is generally used to express deception through trickery and includes all the methods that would be part of that. It has to do with cunning or skill applied to no good purpose. The word ruse is a synonym with stress on the creation of a false impression.
Ephesians 4:14 says "so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes."

Gills reminds us of how stealthily satan brings his wiles to bear in "cunning craftiness",
which not only suggests that their principal end in view is to deceive, but their insidious, private, and secret way of deceiving, and their expertness in it, which they have from the devil; and now the ministration of the Gospel is the best and surest guard and antidote against such fluctuations and deceptions. 
Please read the rest of the essay above to learn more fully just how satan uses his wiles to trick us - and be sure that importing pagan rituals into Christianity is one such wile - and read how we can stand against such an enemy.


Further Reading:

Should a Christian participate in a 'Color Run?'

Which is the Holi Celebration and Which is the Color Run?

© Western New Mexico University

Mumbai, India
Church Color Run

Friday, April 22, 2016

True Christian Fellowship

Fellowship is defined as friendly association, especially with people who share one's interests.

In Acts 2:42 we read that Christian fellowship was practiced among the new believers in the new church
They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 
At we read the following opening paragraphs regarding fellowship and what it has come to mean. I agree with these statements, and I'm disappointed that what passes for fellowship today is often absent some critical ingredients. More on that in a moment.
In Acts 2:42 we read that one of the four things the early church devoted itself to was “fellowship.” Fellowship was a very important part of their reason for meeting together. It was one of their objectives. But what is fellowship? 
We often hear people talking about fellowship. We hear it said that what we need is more fellowship. But our modern ideas of fellowship have become so watered down that the word no longer carries the same meaning it did in New Testament times. 
We are not surprised that the early church devoted itself to “the apostles’ teaching” and also “to prayer.” Apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit, these are the two most important means of growth, power, and effectiveness in the Christian life and this is everywhere evident in the rest of Scripture. 
But Luke tells us these early Christians also devoted themselves to fellowship. They just didn’t have fellowship; they devoted themselves to it. This means that fellowship was a priority and one of the objectives for gathering together. They made fellowship a priority. 
Today, however, we often view fellowship as what we do in “fellowship hall.” It’s the place where we have casual conversations and savor coffee and donuts. This is not bad and can contribute to fellowship, but it falls far short of fellowship according to biblical standards and according to the meaning and use of the Greek words for fellowship.
In today's watered-down Christian fellowship world, we'd simply be "devoting ourselves" to more coffee and donuts and sitting for longer periods on the hard folding chairs before the Youth come and take them away so the kids can start AWANAs. But is that true fellowship?

The critical ingredient that is often missing from Christian fellowship, even when it's organized and intentional, is talk of Jesus. See this paragraph from John Bunyan's allegorical book, Pilgrim's Progress,
Now I saw in my dream, that thus they sat talking together until supper was ready. So when they had made ready, they sat down to meat. Now the table was furnished with fat things, and with wine that was well refined; and all their talk at the table was about the Lord of the hill; as, namely, about what he had done, and wherefore he did what he did, and why he had builded that house; and by what they said, I perceived that he had been a great warrior, and had fought with and slain him that had the power of death, Heb. 2:14,15; but not without great danger to himself, which made me love him the more.
The beginning of fellowship is to focus on Jesus, talk with praise and awe about all that He has done, and by the end of the fellowship time, you love Him all the more. Yet too often when we finish our fellowship time, no one has even mentioned Jesus.

The article continues,
You may be thinking, “My view of fellowship is much richer and deeper than mere social activity. True fellowship involves getting together for spiritual purposes: for sharing needs, for prayer, for discussing and sharing the Word to encourage, comfort, and edify one another.” And you are right. This certainly is an aspect of Christian fellowship, and one much more important than the first idea. It is an area of fellowship that is often lacking in the church today and one that needs to be remedied. But even this does not comprehend or grasp the full and rich meaning of “fellowship” in the New Testament.
The article goes on at length to describe the deeper aspects of true Christian fellowship. We also have fellowship with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14) and that is a rich study in itself. The study begins its conclusion this way-

Fellowship in the body of Christ is certainly no side issue. It was one of the four things the early church devoted itself to, and from this brief study, we can see why. It is a means of support and encouragement to others and of ministry in the Savior’s enterprise on earth. We have seen four words (relationship, partnership, companionship, and stewardship) that describe the general emphasis of this New Testament concept, but how does this carry over into specifics? How do we have the kind of fellowship that encourages, edifies (builds) and serves one another? How do we find the strength, the wisdom, and the courage to have true fellowship?
I encourage you to read the article. At the very least, fellowship in the "fellowship hall" over coffee and donuts is a mere social activity. Let us seek deeper fellowship, and devote ourselves to it, making Jesus central in the conversation and fellowshipping with the Spirit.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Adult Christian Coloring Books: Put away childish things

I first warned about "Adult Christian Coloring" in November 2015 in an essay that also covered Bible Art Journaling. I'd written--


People, Mandalas are HINDU. They are not, nor will they ever be Christian. They represent something sacred to the unsaved. Something sacred to the unsaved is an IDOL. We are back to the Second Commandment I opened this essay with. Don't believe me? See mandalas defined-
Definition of mandala: Mandala (Sanskrit Maṇḍala, 'circle') is a spiritual and ritual symbol in Indian religions, representing the universe. The basic form of most mandalas is a square with four gates containing a circle with a center point. In Hinduism, a mandala (yantra) is a two- or three-dimensional geometric composition used in sadhanas, puja or meditative rituals. It is considered to represent the abode of the deity. Each yantra is unique and calls the deity into the presence of the practitioner through the elaborate symbolic geometric designs. According to one scholar, "Yantras function as revelatory symbols of cosmic truths and as instructional charts of the spiritual aspect of human experience". (source)
Do you really think it's innocent to color a mandala just because some money-grubbing, undiscerning author re-packaged a pagan activity by pasting a line from a beloved hymn over the top of it and adding "Christian" to the title?

That is where Bible art journaling leads. It's a diversion. Just as Catholic labyrinths were re-branded as Protestant prayer walking, just as occult channeling was re-branded as "hearing from God", just as mystical "contemplative prayer" was re-branded as "Protestant contemplative prayer", just as Hindu Yoga was re-branded as 'Christian Yoga', just as Wiccan pentagrams were re-branded as "circle making"...". Remember enneagrams? Those have Sufi roots. Prayer beads emerged into Christianity from pagan roots. Bible art journaling is already melding with Hindu Mandala coloring.


In June 2013 I'd also warned about mandalas, that time, in the form of prayer circles.

Here is Todd Friel from on Adult Coloring Books, a 7-minute summation concisely explaining why Christians should not engage in that activity.

Christianity is meant to be distinct, and contain set apart people. (Deuteronomy 7:6-11). The Levitical Laws were to visibly demonstrate this, and nowadays in New Testament times our pursuit should be toward holiness and purity in individual lives and in corporate church lives. We are set apart. (1 Peter 2:9, Psalm 4:3, 1 John 4:4-5).

However with lack of discernment, so many Christians are allowing rituals from pagan religions to filter in. Labyrinthes, prayer beads, Mandalas, Yoga, Contemplative Prayer, Circle Making- it boggles the mind. Yet the acceptance of these non-Christian practices causes one to say- Why 'Christian' No Longer Means What It Used To, as Sunny Shell wrote last month--
As I consider how the Bride of Christ is shamefully defiling herself with vain and worldly philosophies, rather than cleansing and strengthening herself with the Word of God, these words from our heavenly Father come to mind, "Folly is bound in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him" (Prov 22:15), "When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways." (1 Cor 13:11),

Dear precious sister, give up childish ways. As Todd Friel said, adult coloring books are a child's activity, where we learned motor skills and how to color within the lines.

As we grow, we move to adult activities such as killing the flesh, carrying our cross, and persevering in prayer. Put away childish things, and "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen." (2 Peter 3:18)


Further Reading from The End Time


Further Reading/Listening from others

Favorite scriptures

I'm home with a high fever today and all that comes with it. I think it's time to post something I've been thinking about for a while. Scripture, just scripture. What are some of your favorites? Here are a few of mine, and why.

These verses from the opening of John's Gospel move me every time I read them. I don't know why. They just do.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life,a and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5).

Beginnings and endings, Genesis and Revelation, my two favorite books. How can one not love the majestic sweep of the opening lines of all of human history?

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1)

This verse is devastating to me. So much wasted flesh, so many to mourn. Such a holy God to worship. It's a crushing yet wondrous verse that to me, dramatically shows the ease with which God moves within His plan to bring all enemies under His submission. For all the thousands of years of struggle, in but one moment, the angel finishes it with four devastating words; the earth was reaped.

So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped. (Revelation 14:16)

And I'll finish with something a bit more upbeat. I love this from Revelation because it is Jesus-centered.

And I saw a mighty angel proclaiming with a loud voice, “Who is worthy to open the scroll and break its seals?” And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it. And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:2-5)

How about you? Post your favorite verses here. Let's bask in the word and praise and worship the Spirit who inspired them, the God-Man who conquered and saves, and the God who is eternally holy.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

False teachers who try to scrub their tweets, statuses, and videos

I'm so grateful for the long-term, steady, accurate handling of the word of God by so many of the pastors who are available on tape recording or video. Barnhouse, Boice, MacArthur, SL Johnson, ML Jones, John MacArthur ... labored or are still laboring for the Lord for decades. Their sermons and lectures were captured, books and notes blessedly, by tape recording or radio recording or scan and remain available to us now in this online age. It is a balm to listen to a solid sermon expositing the scriptures delivered 50, 60, even 70 years ago. Or yesterday :).

I particularly love John MacArthur's sermons because they present the word of God in a solid, grave, and responsible manner. Selfishly, I love them also because they are transcribed, so it makes posting excerpts very easy. On Saturdays I enjoy listening back-to-back to a variety of pastors and teachers online. However the vast majority of their sermons are not transcribed. I spend a lot of time on Saturday transcribing. I can't help it. There are so many insightful and profound thoughts that I need to write them down so as to further study later.

In this online age, just as we can easily partake of the goodness of a good sermon, it is also just as easy for the false teachers to post their tripe and let it propagate. We all know this. However once in a while a pastor, whether false or true, will say something unbiblical that even catches their followers by surprise, and they get heat for it. Or they post a sermon that is so outrageous that the true brethren push back hard. In those cases, it is just as easy for that pastor or teacher to simply delete the tweet or the video. It's just as easy to delete a sermon or tweet or Facebook status as it is to post it in the first place. Poof, it's gone. Sometimes this happens so fast that the more astute brethren know they better capture a screen grab of the tweet, or download the video, or screen cap it in context before it can go poof.

Imagine a pastor-teacher who taught from the Word of God for thirty, forty, fifty years. Imagine no wrong doctrines or major gaffes. Imagine never having to take back something he said. Now imagine all this, it is transcribed or recorded. The pressure is enormous. These pastors and teachers took care, because it is the word of God they are handling. They know there is a stricter judgment for them. (James 3:1). Once someone asked John MacArthur about how he feels about all his 3500+ sermons being online for all to hear. He said "It is a lot to be responsible for".

Now imagine, they never deleted their sermon or edited portions out of it. They never scrubbed their tweet. They never deleted material from their book introduction for successive printings. They did not try to escape accountability. Because that is what these false teaches and pastors are doing when they scrub their words from the internet. They are attempting to avoid critique, and trying to escape accountability.

I say "try to escape" because Jesus records every word we say. We are all accountable to Him for each and every careless word.

And how can we conclude that such deleted material is anything BUT careless? If one prepares their material through prayer, thought, study, and careful writing, one will not need to remove it almost immediately after publishing. This is why I appreciate the long-term ministries who have never had to apologize for handling the word of God carelessly, nor had to apologize for the behavior of the person publishing said material.

I appreciate the above pastors and teachers who never erased one jot or tittle (to my knowledge) of their teachings. They take care in the first place, let stand what they brought to their people, and will allow Jesus to reward or judge them accordingly. This is maturity. More to the point, it is submission to the grave responsibility they know they are called to perform. Think about this the next time you go to a video or try to read a tweet or find a Facebook status that now says "This post/tweet/video/status is unavailable." We're all so used to search results containing scrubbed or deleted material from the internet that we forget this is not the way it is supposed to be when it comes to the teaching of the word of God.

Remember: Nothing is ever scrubbed from the halls of recording in heaven.

But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. (Matthew 12:36).

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Why emergent/liberal churches will never have the power of the first century church they want

"I want our church to be like an Acts 2 church."
"Oh, Holy Spirit, come down in power and presence to us today."
"The original church was the best, we should be like them. We can be like them."

I hear and read comments like those a lot today. The liberal or emergent churches stand on stage with a fog machine and the praise band plays the same refrain over and over, millennials are swaying and hands are upstretched. They cry out for power and wisdom and for the Holy Spirit to descend upon them in force. They crave ever more potent "experiences" and "power" and "anointing" as the early church seemed to have had.

And yet there is one critical ingredient that they lack, and in so lacking, they will NEVER have the power of the spirit that they crave. Can you guess what that ingredient is?

The word of God.

Preaching from the Bible.

Expository preaching in the power of the Spirit.

Teaching the people from God's word.

Do you realize how much preaching from God's word took place in the first century church? ALL OF IT. Jesus, (in Luke 24:13-35) Peter, Stephen, Paul...all preached the Old Testament and taught the new covenant as given to them by Jesus. Sermons, sermons, sermons. Expository preaching is what drove the first century church of Acts. Preaching. Much of Acts are recorded sermons preaching God's word.
The book of Acts gives a unique glimpse into the life and practice of the early church. It describes the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in Acts 2, the spread of the Gospel outside of Jerusalem in Acts 8 and to the Gentiles in Acts 10, how the church made decisions in regards to doctrine (Acts 15), and more.
The sermons recorded in Acts give us a window into the preaching ministries of Peter, Stephen, Philip, James, and Paul, along with the immediate impact those sermons had.
Below is a list of sermons preached in Acts along with a short description and reference for each are listed below. Not every passage below quotes the preacher’s sermon directly, but each passage will share something important about the content of the sermon or the response of the hearers. (source & chart below)

Many of these churches/preachers them tacitly or overtly declare expository preaching as old, dusty, and/or unnecessary. Or worse, some say it's so easy it's cheating. Yet such preaching is entirely necessary.

It is the preaching from God's word that is the power. The liberal/emergent/millennials want power but they deny the vehicle that will bring them that power. They want wisdom but deny the only place where wisdom resides. They want Spirit power by bypass Jesus, who IS the Word.

From The Cripplegate, an excerpt from an interview with expositor Steven Lawson on the nature of expository preaching.
I believe that the Apostle Paul lays out the essentials of preaching in 1 Timothy 4:13 when he writes, “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, and to teaching.” 
In true expository preaching, there must be the reading of the text, the teaching of the text, and the exhorting with the text. Expository preaching informs the mind, ignites the heart, and impels the will. 
The supposed preaching that only instructs the mind is not a sermon, but a lecture. The supposed preaching that merely touches the heart is not a sermon, but a mere devotion. The supposed preaching that merely challenges the will is not a sermon, but a manipulation. True expository preaching must address all three aspects of the inner life of a person — mind, emotion, and will. Anything less, is not expository preaching.
Is your preacher more excited to read the announcements than to read the word of God? Or does he unashamedly proclaim the Word in power and truth?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5)


Further Reading

Six Characteristics of a Healthy Church

[hint: one of them is expository preaching]

Monday, April 18, 2016

How to guard from carnal thoughts and actions. What will do it?

I am reading and studying the John Bunyan book Pilgrim's Progress. John Bunyan wrote this book in 1678. I am using a study guide from Mount Zion Bible Institute (free) and also notes and commentary from Ken Puls of Founder's Ministries/Founder's Press.

I absolutely love the language of the old Puritan times. At one point, Christian had fallen asleep and now had to retrace his steps because he had lost his scroll. The sun was setting and he worried would not make it to the safe and secure way-station Porter's Lodge before dark. He had been told there were lions awaiting (though chained). He was nervous about the noise the doleful creatures would make.

I wrote this during my reflection time-

When I stray from the righteous path or lose my scroll, the night time noise of the doleful creatures disturbs my heart and troubles my mind.

Christian made it to the Porter's Lodge, where he engages in conversation with Prudence. She asks Christian,

Saco Museum Panorama of Pilgrim's Progress
Prudence: Can you remember by what means you find your annoyances at times as if they were vanquished?
Christian: Yes:
--when I think what I saw at the cross, that will do it;
--and when I look upon my broidered coat, that will do it;
--and when I look into the roll that I carry in my bosom, that will do it;
--and when my thoughts wax warm about whither I am going, that will do it.
What a wonderful summation of how to remain on the righteous path, and so to banish carnal thoughts and wayward behavior!

Ken Puls wrote: [excerpted]
The conversation at Palace Beautiful continues with Prudence asking Christian some questions. Prudence represents our carefulness to walk in the wisdom and truth of God's Word. To be prudent is to live and act with discretion and to exercise good judgment. Prudence is the practical outworking of wisdom. Christian prudence is godly wisdom in action, as we apply God's Word to what we think, say and do.
Piety began the discussion by drawing out Christian's story and testimony for the benefit of all in the Palace; Prudence probes deeper. She presses Christian into a more weighty conversation that explores his inner motivation and struggles. Her questions focus on: 
1. His inward battles with former lusts
2. His fortitude to fend off carnal thoughts and worldly temptations
3. His strategy to guard his heart and mind against sin
I'll focus on the third question and excerpt Puls' notes here-
Prudence then asks Christian about his strategy to guard against carnal thoughts. What means are most effective in vanquishing besetting sin? 
Christian mentions the value of meditating on God's Word. He ponders the truth of Scripture and preaches it to himself. He anchors his thoughts in the promises of the gospel: the cross of Christ (the place of deliverance), the imputed righteousness of Christ (the coat he now wears), the assurance of salvation (his roll that he carries close to his heart), and his destination (eternal life in heaven). 
Finally Prudence asks him why he is so eager to reach heaven. Christian is anchored in God's Word and aiming for eternity. He has embarked on a journey and understands that this world is not his home. It is filled with sin, death, trials and afflictions, and it can wearisome as we press on day by day. We must remember that we are just passing through. Christian longs for the joys that await us in glory: 
There we will see Christ face to face (1 John 3:1-3; Revelation 22:4).
There we will be free, not just from sin's condemnation and power, but from its presence (Revelation 21:27, 22:3).
There we will have life eternal; there will be no more death (Isaiah 25:8; Revelation 21:4).
There we will be in the company of angels (Revelation 4:8) and the redeemed (Philippians 3:20) forever.
When you are discouraged...plagued by carnal thoughts...have sinned...drifted a bit...with ease and alacrity one can return to Jesus! Think of the cross, reflect on your salvation, look into the Book, and ponder your eternal destination.

That will do it.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Cripplegate: Three signs of a believer

Tom Chantry at The Cripplegate has written a very good essay titled Occam’s Razor and the Perpetuity of Evangelical Scandal

In it, he states logically and simply that if people would simply stop accepting at face value the proclamations of celebrity pastors and the like that they are Christians, lives would be made easier, and minds would be more at ease.

In summary, Mr Chantry said that when a megapastor, such as the types like Mr Furtick, Mr Driscoll, or Mr Stanley, teach something that isn't in the Bible, or otherwise make an outrageous statement, the thinking goes something like this:

"What?! How could Pastor So-and-So say that? He says he's a Christian, so how can he not know that isn't the truth?! Since he says he's a Christian, we have to find out what he really meant. It must be a mistake, or he said it because he must be temporarily under the influence of NyQuil. Of course he is a Christian (because Pastor So-and-So says he is) and Christians would know better than to teach that. Oh, no, what can this mean?"

Mr Chantry wrote:
When well-recognized evangelicals – particularly those who have never made any significant contribution to or defense of biblical doctrine and piety – make asinine statements about the gospel or engage in stunts which contradict all the tenets of Christian virtue, why do we feel the need to cover their indiscretion with a cloak of good Christian motives? They themselves rarely seem to desire this! The complex logical gymnastics by which we defend the men while questioning their words and actions are based upon one obstinate presupposition: because these men are evangelicals, they must be received as brothers in Christ and granted every advantage of our most gracious instincts. This is, I suggest, a needless assumption which we ought to simply shave away. A great many evangelicals are simply not saved.
You know, most people who say they're saved, are not saved. Am I pessimistic? Is Mr Chantry mean? Do I propose to "judge the heart"? Is he "judging their motives"? No. Jesus said that many go on the broad way to destruction and few find the way to salvation. (Matthew 7:14). Jesus followed that statement immediately in the next verse, saying

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. (Matthew 7:15)

In the New Testament 'false prophets' are pastors, a word we're more familiar with today. Or they are teachers.

If someone says to me that they are saved, I don't dismiss their statement, of course. But I do not accept it at face value, either. I listen to testimony, I watch for fruit, I reserve comment or opinion on their self-proclamation until I see one way or another which way their wind blows. That takes time.

And even then, if the person is a layperson, I rarely come to a final conclusion, because I can never be 100% sure, unless they overtly deny a foundational doctrine. Jesus will make that pronouncement on His day. Only if someone is a pastor or teacher at the highest levels with a following or influence, and they say something incontrovertibly against a foundational doctrine, (like when Billy Graham says we can go to heaven without knowing Jesus; or the wild abuses against the Spirit of Benny Hinn or Joyce Meyer, or the greed with which a Joel Osteen bows to Mammon), then it's understood in my mind that someone with the Holy Spirit in them would never teach that or say that. Ever.

Mr Chantry spelled out three simple tests to help people understand whether to call someone a brother.
After all, the Scripture does suggest that there will be certain signs which, while they do not allow us infallibly to identify each true believer, will give us a sense of who should and who should not be called a brother. Let us consider three of the very simplest:
Here they are in one-sentence form. Please read his essay so as to see the scriptures and explanations in full. It is very helpful.
1. Actual believers will understand, confess, and defend the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. (See, for instance, I Corinthians 15:1-5.) 
2.Actual Believers will decisively reject all counterfeit gospels. (See Galatians 1:6-9.)

3. Actual Believers, while not morally perfect, will care about holiness and will strive to live according to God’s commands. (See I Corinthians 6:9-11.)
In his Handout Church History Lecture series, John Gerstner said in 1990,
How goes the Gospel in the world at the end of the twentieth century? There is no way of getting full or accurate statistics (though there are many useful attempts). One can only make educated guesses. Mine is that the vast majority—maybe 90 percent—of professing Christendom does not profess Christianity. Or rather, it does not understand the Christianity it professes.
Most of the people who profess Christ do not believe the essential doctrines that set one apart as a regenerated, saved Christian. Therefore do we need such hand-wringing when a megapastor says something "asinine" as Mr Chantry put it? Do we need to perform rhetorical gymnastics to try and parse what the megapastor really meant? Do we need to run around Henny Penny like our hair is on fire? Or do we simply say, 'That is the way of the world. Jesus told us this ahead of time." (Matthew 24:25).

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Powerful 7.8 quake hits Ecuador

7.8 magnitude quake 170 miles WNW of Quito Ecuador.

Screaming shoppers run for their lives as powerful 7.8 earthquake strikes Ecuador
... Ecuador's Vice President Jorge Glas said in a televised address that the dead were located in the cities of Manta, Guayaquil and Portoviejo. He said the earthquake was the strongest to hit Ecuador in decades. ... The major jolt came as rescuers in Japan were racing against the weather and the threat of more landslides to reach people still trapped by two big earthquakes that hit that country's south.
Deadly earthquake hits Ecuador
A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake has killed at least 28 people in Ecuador, Vice-President Jorge Glas says. A state of emergency was declared in six provinces and the National Guard has been mobilised. The quake, centred near the coastal town of Muisne, destroyed an overpass in the city of Guayaquil about 300km (190 miles) away, local media say. The tremor also shook buildings in the capital Quito, forcing residents to flee their homes. "We have 16 people dead in the city of Portoviejo, 10 in Manta and two in the province of Guayas," Mr Glas said at a news conference.

It has been a busy week for quakes. I'd written yesterday, Powerful series of jolts hits Japan. At that essay you can see the list of powerful earthquakes this week, as well as a short paragraph noting the link between God's displeasure with sin and earthquakes, from john Newton.

The Lord shakes the earth as He wills, as a token sign of His anger with sin.

The dreadful reality of the apostate Church

One of my most fervent prayers is that your church is not filled with comfortable unbelievers. Why? I dread this day:

Artist: Boris Sajtinac

"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 

On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.' " (Matthew 7:21-23)

Today is the day we should...

...draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)

Here is a resource for you to test your faith and find assurance

Is It Real?11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation
1 John; 1 John 5:1; John 10: 10; 1 Peter 5:10
Throughout the letter is a series of tests to determine whether you possess eternal life. If you don't pass these tests, you'll know where you stand and what you need to do. If you do, you'll have reason to enjoy your eternal salvation with great assurance.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Powerful series of quakes in Japan cause landslide, kills 11

Earthquakes: a token sign of God's displeasure over sin. See below, John Newton's Messiah.

Update at bottom: "Swaying every hour"

A powerful 7.3 magnitude earthquake occurred in Japan today, causing a landslide and 11 deaths. The large temblor was followed by a series of 5.7 and 5.4 magnitude quakes and other aftershocks as well.

It has been a busy week for quakes these last two weeks. After a period of several months of relative quiet, there have been 13 quakes in the 6.0-6.9 range.

A more powerful earthquake has rocked the southern Japanese city of Kumamoto in the middle of the night, a day after an earlier tremor killed nine people. The magnitude-7.3 quake hit at a depth of 10km (six miles) at 01:25 on Saturday (15:25 GMT on Friday) in Kyushu region. At least three people died and hundreds were injured. A village has been evacuated after a dam collapsed, media reports say. (Source)
Rescue crews scrambled through rubble Saturday morning in a desperate search for survivors of a magnitude-7.0 earthquake that struck Japan's Kyushu Island, the same region rattled by a 6.2 quake two days earlier. (CNN)

Small eruption on Japan's Mount Aso after earthquake
A small eruption occurred at Mt. Aso in southern Japan on Saturday around 8:30 a.m. local time (2330 GMT Friday) following a strong earthquake in the area, with smoke rising about 100 meters (300 feet) high, public broadcaster NHK reported. The Japanese Meteorological Agency kept its alert level at 2 on a scale of 5 for Mt. Aso, which has had eruptions in the past.
(Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Michael Perry)
Update: Japan earthquakes: Dozens killed, region 'swaying every hour'

One can but hope and pray for the soon return of Jesus Christ. Since the fall of man into depravity and sin entered the world, life has been a terrible cycle of disasters, diseases, and death

Messiah, Vol 2, by John Newton (author of Amazing Grace hymn)
Can there be a stronger confirmation of what we read in Scripture, concerning the depravity of man? Can we conceive an employment more suited to gratify the malignity of Satan and the powers of darkness, if they were permitted to appear and act amongst us in human shapes? Could such enormities possibly obtain, if the mild and merciful spirit of the Gospel generally prevailed? But it shall prevail at last, and then the nations shall learn war no more (Isaiah 2:4). 
How transporting the thought! That a time shall yet arrive, when the love of God and man, of truth and righteousness, shall obtain [shall prevail] through the earth. The evils (and these are the greatest evils of human life) which men bring upon themselves, and upon each other, by their wickedness, shall cease; and we may believe that the evils in the natural world will be greatly abated. Sin will no longer call down the tokens of God's displeasure, by such public calamities as hurricanes, earthquakes, pestilence, and famine.

About the face...

But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the fa...