Monday, October 23, 2017

The Gospel in one minute- a humbling reminder

Dr Steven J. Lawson hosts a Men's Bible Study each week, as well as preaches and teaches elsewhere (i.e. Expositor.fm and The Master's Seminary). Here is a short promo for one of the weekly studies that was held this month. It explains The Gospel in one minute. We all need to preach the Gospel to each other, every day. We are sinful creatures that forget the deep sinfulness of our nature, and we diminish the majesty and humility of Jesus' torment on the cross. Take one minute to listen, and thank our Lord for being a Suffering Servant to His Father, and for our behalf.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Chris Powers' sketches the Beatitudes: Mercy

Matthew 5:7, "Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy."

O, Lord, help me to be merciful tho those who doubt, the poor and vulnerable (Jude 1:22, Proverbs 19:17, Matthew 25:40). I received mercy in great measure. Help me to always remember from whence mercy came.



Chris Powers is the artist behind Full Of Eyes Ministry. Full of Eyes is creating free visual resources for the global Church.

He produces animations, art, and tracts of Biblical illustrations with verses and explanations, in a powerful way. He is on Patreon (where you can donate) as well as Youtube and the web at fullofeyes.com.


Friday, October 20, 2017

Questions: Preaching Christ from every text?, Muslim dreams, Female submission

Here are answers to some pressing questions I've seen asked over the last few weeks.

Should we preach Christ from every text? Answer: no. By Abner Chou, The Master's Seminary, October 2017.
In essence, the Christocentric hermeneutic attempts to find Christ as the subject or topic of every text. It desires to show that every text relates directly to Christ. Which is why some say it is the only true Christian preaching. The problem ensues when the Christocentric hermeneutic applies that mindset to texts that don’t call for it.


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Are droves of Muslims coming to faith in Christ via dreams and visions? Answer: No. Gary Gilley explains by comparing to scripture, in this essay from 2016.
Jesus used a variety of approaches when speaking with unbelievers, depending on the individual or group (e.g., Nicodemus, Rich Young Ruler, Woman at the Well), but typically He identified who He was, confronted their sin, called them to repentance, called them to believe in Him, cautioned them to count the cost of discipleship, and admonished them to take up their crosses daily and follow Him. He didn’t state all those elements in every case, but collectively they constituted the thrust of His message
By way of contrast, Isa [Muslim version of Jesus] typically identifies who he is (or the dreamer instinctively knows who he is) and tells the dreamer he loves him and wants him (the dreamer) to follow him (Isa). Sometimes the dreamer is overwhelmed with a sense of love and peace just by being in Isa’s presence (which was never the case with unbelievers in the presence of Jesus). So the message that emerges is one of believing in Isa and following him apparently apart from the Holy Spirit convicting of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8).

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Do women have to submit to all men? How can we demonstrate that although the roles of men and women in the church (and the home) are very different, we are equal in value in the sight of God?

To answer your question, women are to submit to their husbands.

Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. (Ephesians 5:22)

All church members are to submit to their overseers.

Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you. (Heb 13:17)

We are all to submit to God.

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 5:7.

We all have to submit to government. Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-17

Women do not have to submit to random males.

We believers are all of equal value in the sight of God. This value is from above, it is not attached to man-made standards of who has what role. We do not have to demonstrate this love, God already has.

So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them (Genesis 1:27).

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8).

Thursday, October 19, 2017

When did co-pastor married couples become acceptable?

In 2007 Thabiti Anyabwile wrote:
It was once a rising trend. It’s now a model for ministry for significant numbers of churches and pastors. It simultaneously offers itself as an example of deep partnership between husbands and wives, and dismisses biblical instruction. What am I talking about? The widespread approach to pastoral ministry where a husband and a wife "co-pastor" a local church.
Co-pastoring in this case refers to churches where the male pastor and his wife are listed as equal pastors of the flock. Since that article above was written ten years ago, co-ed co-pastors are touted as something acceptable - desirable even.


These two are not married but are in a co-ed, egalitarian pastorate

Not just co-pastor, but co-SENIOR pastor. Bobbie loves them titles.


V. Osteen: co-pastoring, which dilutes her motherly duties, is not a good trade.

This article is from Christianity Today. No wonder
the magazine's nickname is 'Christianity Astray'

I remember the Presidential election of 1992. Bill Clinton was running. His wife is Hillary Clinton. Clinton used to brag that "America was getting two for the price of one."
It was during the 1992 presidential campaign that Arkansas governor Bill Clinton — the nation's first baby-boomer presidential candidate, running against President George H. W. Bush — used the phrase "two for the price of one." This twofer concept was Clinton’s quaint way of bragging (to the delight of feminists) that his wife, Hillary, an accomplished corporate lawyer and fellow Yale Law School graduate, was going to play a major role in his administration well beyond that of a traditional First Lady. (National Review)
How did that work out for them? Hillary led a Health Care Reform that crashed spectacularly and she was publicly humiliated. Then Whitewater Scandal happened and things got worse.
From the moment she dazzled Capitol Hill last autumn ('In future the President will be known as your husband,' Dan Rostenkowski, who chairs the House Ways and Means Committee, gushed at one appearance) Hillary has been her plan's most potent weapon. No longer. In Washington more than anywhere, vulnerability equals weakness. Today Hillary Clinton is vulnerable; so, therefore, is Bill Clinton. 'Two for the price of one' has turned from blessing into curse. (The Independent UK, 1994
America was not impressed with the twofer Presidency. Even less so, are Christians impressed with a twofer pastorate.

Simply put, the Bible forbids women preaching. Church teaching is meant for the men to perform. The leading is to be done by the men.

I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (1 Timothy 2:12).

Elders/overseers/pastors are to be "above reproach", and "a man". (Titus 1:5-8).

Installing a "twofer" pastorate, whether both are paid or not, formal or informal, defacto or explicit, is unbiblical.

At a recent Grace Community Church Q&A a man asked John MacArthur,

"Would you ever allow your wife to preach?"




Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Homosexuality is still a sin, despite plaudits for the scene in #Victoria

I've been watching the TV series Victoria, a series about Queen Victoria and her monarchy. It's fictionalized, but with episodes focusing on actual historical incidents. The reviews seem to render it historically accurate for the most part. There are a few minor things that aren't exactly correct, and some things they collapsed in time or for effect. However, there is one scene which, well, isn't accurate at all.

The homosexual community had heard that season 2 of the series, was going to feature a gay sub-story. The LGBTQ's were happy about this. As it happened, Lord Alfred Paget and Edward Drummond (Prime Minister Robert Peel’s private secretary) have been depicted all season as two men attracted to each other, with longing looks across drawing rooms, yearning among the manicured gardens, loaded innuendo, and sly smiles. The tension between the two men had been building until they exploded into a kiss while ambling along a pond shore.

Sadly, many tweets and messages along these lines emerged afterward:

Source Radio Times
The scene to which I refer today is the one afterward with the Lady in Waiting Duchess of Buccleuch, played by a historically inaccurate 79 year old Diana Rigg (the real Duchess was only 8 years older than the Queen, not 50-plus years.)

Spoiler...











In history, there was an assassination attempt on PM Peel's life. Peel's secretary Drummond really was shot by a bullet meant for Peel. He died five days later at home, not instantly as the show depicted. In the show, Drummond heroically leaped in front of the Peel, shoving him aside and saving his life. Creative license for dramatic tension, that's OK. But Paget was left bereft that his blossoming love affair with Drummond was cut quite short. When the Duchess received the news of Drummond's sacrificial death, she called for Paget and brought him into a private drawing room. She compassionately told him the news about Drummond's death. Then she gave sage advice about hiding his grief from the mother and the fiance at the funeral. "They must be the chief mourners", she said.

The Duchess said with care and concern in her eyes that she may be old but she is not blind, and had seen how the two looked at each other.

This is anachronistic. The British attitude toward homosexuality was that it was repulsive and reprehensible, and a threat to family life. It was immoral, as encapsulated in the various laws that were not eventually repealed in all corners of the United Kingdom until 1992. They even coined a term for it, "The Love That Dare Not Speak Its Name."
Laws for society combatting same sex relations have dated back to the sixteenth century (Upchurch 14), and much of British society deemed homosexuality as 'the worst of crimes' (Upchurch 49). This unspeakable act threatened the stability of Victorian society (Brady 46) so much so that a homosexual identity did not exist in this era (Brady 17). This does not mean that British citizens did not know the characteristics of these types of men, and they had a great distaste for them (Brady 11) during the nineteenth century (Upchurch 13).
Many believed that one could not be moral and have these sexual relations (Upchurch 16), and for this reason homosexuality was the most problematic issue facing British society (Upchurch 16). For this fundamentally British society, it was embarrassing to speak of this sexual issue (O'Connor 112). If it was a wildly spoken of topic, the structure of society would 'have been shaken at its foundations (Brady 1-2; Brady 24). Source
So a Duchess cooing and comforting a young man devastated at the loss of a homosexual lover would never have occurred, partly because such things were never discussed, and partly because such a co-ed discussion would be considered uncouth.

These modern-day attitudes inserted into historical dramas are a problem. They might make certain powerful lobbies happy, but they aren't an accurate window of the general attitude of the times. Once we see these kind of anachronistic attitudes often enough, we might start to believe the propaganda.

Though homosexuality has been with us since after the Fall, it might be good to look at what the Bible says about it, rather than listening the constantly pressuring culture. Even though we reject the pressure, at some point it might be making inroads to our mind, which is supposed to be transformed to holiness in the likeness of Christ.

The Bible is clear that God created humans to enjoy sex only within the marriage between a man and a woman. (Genesis 1:27, 28; Leviticus 18:22; Proverbs 5:18, 19). The Bible condemns sexual activity that is not between a husband and wife, whether it is homosexual or heterosexual. (1 Corinthians 6:18).

When Jesus smote Sodom and Gomorrah for homosexuality it was actually an example of judgment that will come upon all those who indulge "unnatural desires." As Jude 1:7 states,

just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Romans 1:28-32 shows the progression of sin in an individual heart or a nation's heart. Homosexuality is nearly last in the progression into darkness, demonstrating how far a society has sunk when they finally begin to engage in the sin of homosexuality.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. (Romans 1:26-27)

Homosexuality according to the Bible is detestable, shameful, contrary to sound doctrine, and people practicing it are wrongdoers. (Leviticus 20:13, 1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Timothy 1:10, Romans 1:27)

God never accepts homosexuality as normal. It isn't.

However, if you repent, He will forgive you and He sends the Holy Spirit to help resist ungodly lusts.

If you or someone you know are struggling with a loved one who indulges homosexual desires, here are a couple of excellent resources. Though we do not condone any sinful behavior, including homosexuality, we must

Show proper respect to everyone, (2 Peter 2:17a, NIV)

What Letter Would You Write to A Gay Son?

David Murray explains,
Five years ago, Redditor RegBarc "came out" to his father. Shortly afterwards, his dad disowned him in a handwritten letter which RegBarc shared with the world on Tuesday, adding the comment: "This is how hate sounds."
He's right, it was a hateful letter. Murray continues,
As I find it hard to believe that a true Christian would ever write such a letter, I’ve drafted a letter that I hope a Christian father would write (although I’m sure we all hope we’ll never have to write it).
The second, hypothetical letter is beautiful. It's what love sounds like.

The 9Marks Mailbag is the best thing I read online on a consistent basis. Their answers are grace filled and practical, firmly based on a biblical worldview. It's very helpful. This answer by ex-homosexual Rosaria Butterfield is the most helpful I've seen on this subject.

How should parents treat their 18-year-old daughter’s relationship with her girlfriend? How do we love them without condoning their sin?



Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Reformation resources for you!

The 500th anniversary of the Reformation is coming up on October 31st. This is the date when, 500 years ago, Roman Catholic monk and professor Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the University of Wittenberg’s chapel door. Nailing a tract on the door was not in itself an act of rebellion, but rather the usual and customary method of starting a discussion among scholars of religious points of the day. It was the 16th century's version of the internet.

However, Luther's theses were not just questions and discussion points, but a devastating critique of Roman Catholic practices. Luther had found in his studies that Roman Catholic faith and practice varied greatly from the word of God. Luther was especially upset over the practice of Indulgences, or payment to the Church for reduction or absolution of certain sins. Paying for sins to be forgiven seemed incredibly wrong to Luther. He wrote up his questions, intending to spark a discussion.

He sparked a discussion.

The discussion has been ongoing for 500 years.

The discussion split The Catholic Church and pitted it against those who were protesting, now known as Protestants.

The most confusing thing to me when I was an unsaved person was the Catholic Church. I thought it was a Christian church. Because of its size and longevity, I thought it represented true Christianity. What I didn't know was that the Roman Catholic Church (RCC) is as far from Christianity as the east is from the west. It does not represent the faith of Jesus, but instead is a false belief system.

The protest Luther made was against certain practices and doctrines of the RCC. For example, the Jesus we know through the inspired scriptures is the central authority, not the Pope or other officials. Practices and rituals and good works do not save. Indulgences are nowhere found in the Bible. Though Luther initially wanted to renew the church, eventually it divided over these and other issues, and the Protestant reformation began.

Here are some Reformation Day resources for you-


Why We're Protestant: An Introduction to the Five Solas of the Reformation Kindle Edition. A paperback edition exists. By Nate Pickowicz, Foreword by Steven J. Lawson. Nate is a pastor who shepherds a church in New England. His wife Jessica has written a Bible study to go along with MacArthur's new book, Biblical Doctrine and facilitates a Facebook group regarding the weekly study sessions.

Synopsis: How do you discern true vs. false Christianity? In the days of the Protestant Reformation, the core tenets of the faith were strenuously examined. In the end, the Reformers maintained that at the heart of the Christian faith stood five main credos: sola Scriptura, sola gratia, sola fide, solus Christus, and soli Deo gloria. This book examines these five "solas" and makes a definitive case for why we're Protestant.



Reformation Women: Sixteenth-Century Figures Who Shaped Christianity's Rebirth

By Rebecca VanDoodewaard. Rebecca and her husband William used to run a blog I liked, called The Christian Pundit.

Synopsis: Women are an essential element in church history. Just as Deborah, Esther, and the New Testament Marys helped shape Bible history, so the women of the Reformed church have helped to make its history great. In Reformation Women, Rebecca Vandoodewaard introduces readers to twelve sixteenth-century women who are not as well known today as contemporaries like Katie Luther and Lady Jane Grey. Providing an example to Christians today of strong service to Christ and His church, these influential, godly women were devoted to Reformation truth, in many cases provided support for their husbands, practiced hospitality, and stewarded their intellectual abilities. Their strength and bravery will inspire you, and your understanding of church history will become richer as you learn how God used them to further the Reformation through their work and influence.


Long Before Luther: Tracing the Heart of the Gospel From Christ to the Reformation by Nathan Busenitz  (Author), John MacArthur (Foreword)

Synopsis: Where was the gospel before the Reformation?

Contemporary evangelicals often struggle to answer that question. As a result, many Roman Catholics are quick to allege that the Reformation understanding of the gospel simply did not exist before the 1500s. They assert that key Reformation doctrines, like sola fide, were nonexistent in the first fifteen centuries of church history. Rather, they were invented by Martin Luther, John Calvin, and others.

That is a serious charge, and one that evangelicals must be ready to answer. If an evangelical understanding of the gospel is only 500 years old, we are in major trouble. However, if it can be demonstrated that Reformers were not inventing something new, but instead were recovering something old, then key tenets of the Protestant faith are greatly affirmed. Hence, the need for this book.


The Mother of the Reformation: The Amazing Life and Story of Katharine Luther


by Ernst Kroker. Synopsis- The author paints an intimate picture of Katie and of family life in the Black Cloister during the formative years of the Reformation, showing how Katie s marriage to Martin Luther was a multifaceted vocation, with such tasks as household brew mistress, cloister landlady, property overseer, gardener, cow- and pig-herder, and fishwife. Indeed, Katie oversaw their home much like a lord in her kingdom, yet in the midst of it all stood the man to whom her work, concern, and duty were directed.


Resources for children

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by R.C. Sproul

Synopsis: This imaginative tale from R.C. Sproul, based on a true story, begins one evening with Mr. McFarland leading family devotions. When his daughter asks him how she should pray, Mr. McFarland shares a 500-year-old story about a barber and his famous customer.

Master Peter is a barber well-known to all in his village. One day, when Martin Luther the Reformer walks into his shop, the barber musters up the courage to ask the outlawed monk how to pray. Luther responds by writing a letter to the barber. The barber’s life and many others’ are changed as they encounter a model for prayer by using the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles’ Creed.

Martin Luther- Christian Biographies for Young Readers, by Simonetta Carr

Synopsis- Five hundred years ago, a monk named Martin Luther wrote ninety-five questions, hoping to start a discussion about sin and repentance at the University of Wittenberg in Germany. In a few months those questions had stirred the nation; a few years later, the continent. Today we know that those questions changed the course of both the Western church and world history. In this volume for children, Simonetta Carr tells the compelling story of this father of the Protestant Reformation, tracing his quest for peace with God, his lifelong heroic stand for God’s truth, and his family life and numerous accomplishments. The Reformer’s greatest accomplishment, she writes, "has been his uncompromising emphasis on the free promise of the gospel."

Movie-

Martin Luther: The idea that changed the world, PBS documentary, 9/2017, as synopsized by Banner of Truth Trust here. The PBS documentary has an extended trailer here. Official website here.



Monday, October 16, 2017

We're not THAT bad of sinners, are we??

Who goes to heaven?

"I'm a pretty good person. I'm going to heaven for sure."

"I'm nice. Definitely I'm going to heaven."

"I'm certainly not a Hitler! It's people like serial killers or dictators that won't go to heaven."

If you're like me, you hear comments like that all the time. I used to think that I was nice enough and that I was headed for heaven too.

But then a little worm of doubt would set in. I'm nice, most people are nice, but if that was true why is the world like it is? Why would heaven be any different than earth if all the same people just transfer from here to there?

In witnessing to people and telling them they are sinners as I am, they reject almost instantly the notion that their sins would prevent them from going to heaven. This is because they compare their sins to other people, and always the worst people, of course. Hitler, Idi Amin, OJ Simpson, Jeffrey Dahmer... now those are some bad people. I'm not like them. Ergo, I am heaven bound.

Trying to let people know the level of their depravity is a hard task. Even most Christians don't truly understand the depths to which our sin have plunged. I'm reminded often by the Holy Spirit that no matter how wretched I know I am, there are still many layers of muck I can sink to. I'm often astonished at how deep my sin goes.

We're not good. We're bad. As a matter of fact, we're a lot worse than we think.

Unsaved people will balk at this truth. We're wretched, really putrid. Here is an example from the bible of how wretched we are.

As we were going to the place of prayer, we were met by a slave girl who had a spirit of divination and brought her owners much gain by fortune-telling. She followed Paul and us, crying out, "These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation." And this she kept doing for many days. Paul, having become greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, "I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour.

But when her owners saw that their hope of gain was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the rulers. (Acts 16:16-19).

EPrata collage
Notwithstanding the issue of slavery, the owners of the girl were using her to get rich. She had a demon and that demon could access the world behind the veil and prophesy unknown things. Since people have always been curious about the future and what is hidden to us, they paid good money to hear fortunes told.

When the owners saw that their means of gain was gone, they roused a riot and went to the lawmakers and decision-makers for redress.

They did not celebrate that the girl had been delivered. They were not happy that her very body was now released from use by a potent spirit. They did not care that this young, vulnerable girl had been used by demons. They were only ticked that their fortune was vaporizing.

This is exactly the same situation as a child molester kingpin now ticked that his best girl had been saved out of his grip. Exactly. The. Same. This is deep wretchedness. We are sinners through and through. Do not think for a moment that your sin (and mine) is not as bad. It is and it could and would wax worse and worse had not the Lord saved your soul.

This link goes to a short bio of this young girl from BibleGateway, called All the Women of the Bible: The Demon-Possessed Damsel. It is extremely interesting.

We are wretches, sinners and we are due the righteous penalty for our sin. But God...if not for Him...if not for His proactive election of those who would become His... Oh! Oh!

We love because he first loved us. (1 John 4:19).

He loved us despite our wretchedness. He loved us despite our dirtiness. He loved us anyway. I'm eternally grateful for His love. I'm eternally relieved He has dealt with my sin. It is now forgotten, nailed to the cross, and as far from the east is from the west.

Thank you Lord for dealing with my wretched sin in this magnificent way you have ordained.



Sunday, October 15, 2017

Prayer, an act of worship

Excerpt from David McIntyre's The Hidden Life of Prayer, chapter 6. This book, written in 1913, is available for free online, as well as for purchase in book or Kindle form.


The prayer of faith, like some plant rooted in a fruitful soil, draws its virtue from a disposition which has been brought into conformity with the mind of Christ.

1. It is subject to the Divine will-"This is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He heareth us" (1 John 5:14).

2. It is restrained within the interest of Christ-"Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son" (John 14:13).

3. It is instructed in the truth-"If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you" (John 15:7).

4. It is energized by the Spirit-"Able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us" (Eph. 3:20).

5. It is interwoven with love and mercy-"And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses" (Mark 11:25).

6. It is accompanied with obedience-"Whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight" (1 John 3:22).

7. It is so earnest that it will not accept denial-"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you" (Luke 11:9).

8. It goes out to look for, and to hasten its answer "The supplication of a righteous man availeth much in its working" (James 5:16, RV).34

But, although the prayer of faith springs from a divinely-implanted disposition, there is nothing mysterious in the act of faith. It is simply an assurance which relies upon a sufficient warning.

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

Are my personal experiences, visions, dreams, signs and wonders valid?

On October 12 I'd posted an essay examining the difference between people today who claim to have visions accompanied by seizures or other physical manifestations, and people in the Bible who had visions, none of which evidenced the same kind of violent thrashing we see in today's false visionaries. In fact, I'd included several Bible verses to show that these kind of visions produced the exact physical experiences that demon-possessed people had.

Subsequently, I had a request to look at the movements of the New Apostolic Reformation and IHOP/Mike Bickle, and their impact on Millennial Christians. Millennials are a younger set of Christians who are a generation raised totally in the environment that the aforementioned movements produced. To these kids, visions and manifestations are normal and expected, accepted even in conservative corners of the evangelical faith. Many College and University campuses have IHOP-like prayer rooms, 'soaking rooms' and promote youth-aimed conferences such as OneThing and Passion where the youths commonly display these manifestations and believe they had a genuine spiritual experience. Sadly, the leaders there confirm it.

I apologize for the length. I did not want to split the essay into two or three parts. I broke up the text with large subject headings and photos.

Bethel Healing room
One leader of this movement is Mike Bickle of IHOP- International House of Prayer. He also lead a megachurch in Kansas City and oversees a Bible College. Bickle says he receives visions all the time and also has been to heaven twice.
I've had time when the Lord has come upon me when I laughed and could not stop...where I've had times I was thrashing around and shaking violently, I've had times where I've felt tremendous heat..."
None of these physical manifestations are biblical, as we saw in my previous essay. The hallmark of the Holy Spirit or angels who visited people in the Bible was never violent and the hallmark of those who received a vision was self-control and awareness.

Many millennials are under the impression that not only should they be experiencing direct encounters with God, Jesus, and angels, but they should be manifesting some kind of physical proof of the encounter either during or after. The proofs usually come in the form of 'liver shivers', babbling in 'tongues', thrashing or seizures, uncontrollable laughing or jerking, and the like.

Moreover, these millennials believe that when they do have a personal, physical encounter with the divine, no one can or should judge it. The fact that the experience happened is proof enough that it is genuine. Unfortunately, the visions and experiences and encounters then become their truth. Which again, cannot be judged because it's personal.

This blog essay will explain why their attitude is wrong on both counts. Physical and personal encounters with the Divine in the forms commonly believed to be normal today are not expected and not normal. Secondly, we are absolutely to examine, test, or even judge all things, and especially experiences if they do occur.

Short History-Summary


The NAR or New Apostolic Reformation AKA Dominionist Movement is not new, but the modern version can be traced to Mike Bickle's Kansas City Fellowship and really got moving in the 1990s after they joined with the Association of Vineyard Churches led by John Wimber in 1990. The movement is defined expertly by Amy Spreeman and Marsha West at Berean Research,
The New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) is a dominionist movement which asserts that God is restoring the lost offices of church governance, namely the offices of Prophet and Apostle. 
Leading figures in this seemingly loosely organized movement claim that these prophets and apostles alone have the power and authority to execute God’s plans and purposes on earth. They believe they are laying the foundation for a global church, governed by them. 
They place a greater emphasis on dreams, visions and extra-biblical revelation than they do on the Bible, claiming that their revealed teachings and reported experiences (e.g. trips to heaven, face-to-face conversations with Jesus, visits by angels) can not be proven by the ‘old’ Scripture. (Source)
Painful and sad video still of a student at IHOP giving her testimony about the false
manifestations she and her friends experienced. This young woman is jerking
and shuddering constantly. The MC notes this in the closed caption.
At the source link you will find Fast Facts in bullet point form, common traits among the different branches, and a list of leaders. Some of these leaders of this dangerous but permeating movement are Bethel Church/Bill Johnson, IHOP/Mike Bickle, and Hillsong/Brian and Bobbie Houston. The deception of this dangerous movement includes the music that stems from it. I recommend further exploration at the source link above, which leads to a wealth of information and also testimonies of once-deceived adherents of the movement who have gracefully been delivered from its deception.

Even NAR leader Bickle of IHOP admits most of the manifestations are fake. Here he is quoted from a video:
I've seen people thrown against walls, and thrashed around and thrown across rooms. I've seen a lot of fake and I've seen a lot of real. The real is worth it. Most of it's fake. Most places that I've been, the majority of the manifestations are not caused by the Holy Spirit. I will allow the fake because I so believe in the genuine.
Bickle continues by saying that due to his longevity within the movement he can discern the difference between the huge quantity of the fake and the few real experiences. Notwithstanding his power to "allow" or disallow various fake spirits to manifest within his flock. I have no comment on that, ahem.

Vulnerable Youths & Discernment


A participant at OneThing IHOP 2010 wrote,
In another tweet, I said something along the lines of  having given more high-fives in one night than in my entire life. Everyone was so crazy happy, dancing, and celebrating. This is why people drink, to be this “happy” to be alive, to feel like they belong somewhere– where you know everyone there is experiencing that same party. Haha, maybe they gassed the room or something, but it was unbelievable. source
Why does the NAR/IHOP/Signs & Wonders movement attract so many youths? Simply, they are usually new to the faith, less knowledgeable and more vulnerable. Like the young man above, they want to feel like they belong, want to feel happy, want...something. Those in college are away from the oversight of their parents for the first time. They're testing boundaries. These kids are extra vulnerable.

Young Timothy the pastor was guided by Paul and told to set an example in speech and conduct and faith and purity. (1 Timothy 4:12). I don't believe that thrashing around on a floor or uncontrollable laughter or barking would meet the standard of conduct advised here. Isaiah wrote that "even youths grow weary and tired and young men stumble and fall" (Isaiah 40:30) but the advice was "they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength." (Isaiah 40:31).

David asked "How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word." (Psalm 119:9)

Herein lay the issue. The Bible says to test all things. All. These things are tested against the Word. Then guarded.

Do not despise prophecies, 21 but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21).

This verse is a favorite among the Charismatic people who enjoy speaking or hearing ecstatic utterances claiming divine inspiration or revelation. However, the word prophecies does not now mean spoken revelation from God. That did occur in the early church before the canon was closed, to be sure. (Acts 11:27-28, 1 Timothy 1:18, 1 Timothy 4:14.) It refers today to the written word of God. The call for careful discernment in verse 21 is a response to the command in verse 20. Examine the preached word carefully and test it against what is written. What aligns with the word is to be accepted, what departs from the word is to be shunned as evil.
Everyone seemed to feel God's love all the time and have crazy experiences, dreams, visions, prophesies. I was dissatisfied with just Bible study. I wanted more, and was constantly seeking more prophecies and visions and signs. NAR adherent's testimony
Such a heavy emphasis on personal experiences makes one thirst for more of them, and eventually the word itself is shunned as evil and the prophetic utterances and signs are accepted as truth. They are much more exciting when experienced in a room full of excited youths dancing and yelling and enjoying loud music and strobe lights. Compared to a quiet closet with a Bible, notebook, and pen, the former draws the vulnerable much more than does the latter. Yet even the most liberally deceived person must accept that if they have an experience, vision, dream, or revelation, the Bible says to test it against the word.

Tweet from ffpaladin, participant at OneThing 2010:
Omg this is so ridiculous… This is the craziest party ive ever been too…
Everyone is dancing around.. Tens of thousands… #onething2010
Orderly Worship -What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. ... For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. (1 Corinthians 14:26, 33).

Why do they hate the word of God?


Yes, they hate it. Even millennials who are not involved in the more dramatic or charismatic segments of this movement will eventually learn to despise the word and love the experience. See this testimony from Lizzy, a former NAR/IHOP participant:
We were witnessing all kinds of signs and wonders, and assumed they had to be of God. Never once did we recall or were reminded that the Bible talks of FALSE signs and wonders, and even though they would emphasize to the crowd to not fixate on the sign but on the Lord, it was the manifestations that got all the attention and the glory.
Saddleback pastor Rick Warren wrote in 1998 that, "We’re just a church that tries to look for [spiritual] waves, and we ride them. And then we try to do it with balance." You know waves. There's a crest. And there's a trough. Disappointment comes in the trough, and the seeker of experiences looks more and more desperately for the crests. You're always looking for a crest and not the steady growth of the word of God. Spiritual adrenaline can be deadly. Yet if one trusts in God and His word, there is never disappointment, because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).

It comes down to an issue of authority. The self wants itself to be the authority, and not the word of God, which is objective and infallible. Satan tempted Eve in the garden with this, that the self can be the authority and not the one and only command she had been given. (Genesis 3:4-6).

Inevitably, those who rely on experiences are refusing authority or oversight via public testing and submission to the word. Yet the best thing one can do is rely on the word only.
Getting into the Word of God was the best thing we could do, and the Lord through Scripture showed us some of the error that we needed to be re-taught. We were all still in  a lot of error. ... We began to realize that so much of what we had thought was God at one time...wasn't. The Holy Spirit wouldn't contradict Himself when the Bible stated that two of His fruits were gentleness and SELF-CONTROL. Lizzy's NAR Testimony
Let's say that a person experiences a manifestation of one kind or another. Let's say he decides to allow testing of that event. They go to the word. Their experience aligns with the word. In that case, they did not need the experience, because they had a more sure word. (2 Peter 1:19). If it doesn't align with the word, they didn't need the experience, because it was false. The scripture is living and active. It is the mechanism we are promised that will grow us.

If a person refuses to allow testing of their experience they are in violation of scripture, since--

--the gifts are for the edification of the church and not personal hoarding (1 Corinthians 14:12, Ephesians 4:12)
--we are to submit to the leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

What are we to experience?


We do not need to go into a soaking room, nor need to collect with others who spout prophecies, dance crazily, or await a liver shiver. Doing so only brings disappointment anyway. Please note that adding to the inevitable disappointment, Bickle persistently advises that those who "have" should not look down on those who "have not." By this advice, he admits that seeking signs and experiences leads to a two-tiered hierarchy. Here is another testimony, this one from Sola Sisters from a Passion Conference which speaks to this:
At the Passion 2012 conference, Beth Moore, John Piper, Louie Giglio and company taught/led an entire sports arena (45,000 college aged students) in (attempting to 'hear' God's voice). My son's friends in attendance of this conference told of a young girl standing outside the arena crying her eyes out because she had not heard the audible voice of God as they had instructed. Others tried to comfort her but were also distraught at not hearing a thing. 
Here is what life in Christ promises. We do not need to invite the Holy Spirit or seek Him, He is IN US. He is already "shown up." He is present within each and every believer. Can one seek or want  any closer experience than that? We are gifted with the Person of God dwelling in us for the duration of our earthly life! Why do they want more?

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? (1 Corinthians 3:16). This page gives fifteen more verses stating that the Spirit is in us. We experience Him every moment of every day!

Yet the promises continue. He gives us common grace. When we breathe air, see a sunset, open our umbrella against the rain, we experience God's common grace.

Unretouched photo of a rural sunset. Grace. (EPrata photo)
We experience His providence. When we avoid a car crash or when we are in a car crash, get cancer, are cured of cancer, have a baby or miscarry, we experience God because in His sovereignty He brings all things to pass for His glory and good for those who love him.

We experience God when we pray, for we are in communion with Him. When we repent, we experience Him, for He is pleased. When we bring water to those who thirst or visit the poor, we experience Him because His pleasure is in us when we do those things.

The difference between those who seek tangible experiences or freshly and constantly manifested feelings and mature believers is that we base our experience on faith and trust, and not things that are tangible or visible.

An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. So he left them and departed. (Matthew 16:4).

Why do I rain on your parade?


I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 12:1-2).

It is the word of God that transforms via the mind, not experiences felt physically.

I live near Athens GA. There are many institutes of higher learning in Athens alone, UGA has 35,000 enrolled. That is a lot of vulnerable youths. Many are being drawn into these supernatural events and taught that such manifestations are normal. My heart breaks over this as much as if you saw a toddler walking into a busy street. We need to alert, teach, love, and protect our youths.

Just as you can't perceive growth in height, from day to day or month to month, you can't often perceive your own spiritual growth. If you are in the word, you're growing! This is a certainty. You do not need to seek experiences to confirm it.

But 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).

We do not grow from experiences that we had from inside us. We grow from external truth that only comes from God and His word.

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

We all need more Bible engagement and less experience experiencing and less seeking manifestations.

Do not be drawn in. Stay in the word of God


Avoid these people and their works. List from Berean Research (except Chan, I added him, see picture below for why.) At the Berean Research link each of the names has its own link so the reader can learn ore about why they are to be avoided.

Francis Chan has partnered with Mike Bickle at Bickle's IHOP OneThing Youth Conference for the last several years. Chan considers Bickle a brother. Also avoid people who regularly partner with Bickle or Bethel Redding.

C. Peter Wagner
Chuck Pierce
Bob Jones
Paul Cain
Cindy Jacobs,
Mike Bickle (International House of Prayer –IHOP)
Rick Joyner
Bill Johnson (Bethel Church, Redding CA)
Todd Bentley
Lou Engle
Brian & Bobbie Houston (Hillsong Church)
Becky Fischer
Brian Simmons
Steve Shultz (The Elijah List)
Michael Brown
Rod Parsley
More…

John Kelly, Bill Haman, Cindy Jacobs, Dutch Sheets, James Goll, John Eckhardt, Jim Laffoon, Jack Deere, Johnny Enlow, Barbara Yoder, Charles Kraft, Bob Beckett, Che Ahn, Naomi Dowdy, Mary Crum, Jack Hayford, John Arnott, Stacy Campbell, Patricia King, Phil Pringle, Yonggi Cho, Beni Johnson, Jen Johnson, Kris Vallotton, Carl Lentz, David Barton, Steven Strang, Robert Stern, Stephen Strader, George Otis, Ed Silvoso, Janet Porter, George Barna, Mary Glazier, Thomas Muthee, Tom Hess, Samuel Rodriguez, Eddie Smith, Lance Wallnau, Loren Cunningham, Bob Beckett, Os Hillman, Jacqueline del Rosario, Jill Griffith, Francis Oda, Graham Power, Francis Frangipagne, Wendy Alec, Amanda Wells, Katherine Ruonala, Lana Vawser, Kong Hee & Sun Ho, Theo Wolmarans, Jennifer LeClaire and many others.

Keywords you will hear when encountering Dominionist/NAR people:

under the power of the Spirit
fresh move of the Spirit
encounter
anointing
presence

story (as in, personal experience is the story rather than sure, absolute propositional truth in the Bible)
manifested
meta-narrative
Apostle
revival
unity
kingdom (lots of focus on the kingdom, not kingdom as properly referenced in scripture)

The Dominionist/NAR influence is pervasive. Here are just a few examples of how their influence has spread. These events are regular and ongoing, in and around Athens, where many youths will be drawn in.


Chan has partnered with IHOP at the OneThing conference at least since 2013. The event below is for the 2017 conference. It is aimed at YOUTH.



The write-up below is for an upcoming November Awakening Conference in the little town of Royston GA of all places.

This Transformational School of Supernatural Ministry is part of Athens Link and is aimed at college kids.


Pray for your youth. Youth, if you are involved in one of these "ministries' and have been taught that your experiences and manifestations and signs are normal, please pray to Jesus for wisdom and for Him to open your eyes.





Prata's Place-Graceful Garlands 37: Wretched Humility

Click to enlarge.



Friday, October 13, 2017

Righteousness v. Wealth

I was saying last night at Bible Study that I live paycheck to paycheck. The relentlessness of always minding the budget and working assiduously to stretch it to the end of the month gets tiring and frustrating at times. The discussion was about contentment v. discontentment. I said I work hard to avoid being discontent with my circumstances by keeping my trust and faith and eyes on Jesus and not on my circumstances. I hope I avoid discontentment, at least.

So this morning I was reading the Bible in my quiet time, and along comes this verse. It was immensely encouraging. I pray it might be to you as well, if you're living on the thin side.

Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice. (Proverbs 16:8).

Hmmm, interesting! What can it mean? Matthew Henry's Commentary provides a succinct interpretation:
Here, 1. It is supposed that an honest good man may have but a little of the wealth of this world (all the righteous are not rich),—that a man may have but little, and yet may be honest (though poverty is a temptation to dishonesty, ch. 30:9, yet not an invincible one),—and that a man may grow rich, for a while, by fraud and oppression, may have great revenues, and those got and kept without right, may have no good title to them nor make any good use of them. 
2. It is maintained that a small estate, honestly come by, which a man is content with, enjoys comfortably, serves God with cheerfully, and puts to a right use, is much better and more valuable than a great estate ill-got, and then ill-kept or ill-spent. It carries with it more inward satisfaction, a better reputation with all that are wise and good; it will last longer, and will turn to a better account in the great day, when men will be judged, not according to what they had, but what they did
Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume (p. 990). Peabody: Hendrickson.

My interpretation: Righteousness reaps more contentment than do riches, because riches are from the world and righteousness is from Jesus.

Selah!


Thursday, October 12, 2017

Visions, dreams, and revelations: Demon possession or genuine prophetic fits?

Have you noticed the similarity among some of the founders of the major false religions of what I call "prophetic fits"? Most cults in the world began from some kind of vision or direct revelation or visitation from celestial beings claiming to be Mary, Jesus, angels, and so on. I listed some below and more down further below.

Accompanying these visions and revelations and visits, are physical manifestations akin to epileptic seizures and fits that the recipients later report. The recipient of the revelation undergoes a physical trauma of, for example, flailing around, rapid heart beat, or no heartbeat, sweating, groaning, foaming at the mouth, high fevers, and the like. As I listened to one such physical fit that Muhammad had, founder of Islam, I was struck by its similarity to the incidents of demonic possession recorded in the Bible. I wondered if such fits were manifested by other cult founders during their visions or trances, and I learned that they did. Here are a few examples.

Muhammad - Founder of Islam. Muhammad notes that he was visited by an angel claiming to be Gabriel, who pressed or hugged Muhammad so hard that he couldn't bear it. Three times this pressing hard on Muhammad occurred, though we have no record of any angelic visitation in the Bible where the angel manhandles the person to whom he is charged with bringing a message. Rather, each time, the angel unfailingly comforts or works to quell the fear in the person.

Muhammad was so spooked by the angel and his experience, initially he suspected the visions were from evil spirits. In addition to the previously reported physical manifestations, sometimes Muhammad growled like a camel, and streamed with perspiration even if it was cold. He saw a bright light quite often. The seizures were thorough and convincing. Adherents and critics alike acknowledged Muhammad did suffer from a physical manifestation of some kind. The only question among critics in his day and to this day, was whether Muhammad's fits were genuinely divinely sent or were evidence of a demonic possession.

Joseph Smith, founder of the church of Latter Day Saints, AKA Mormons, also displayed physical symptoms in some kind of fit that coincided with his revelations, also supposedly from Gabriel. In addition to "Gabriel", twenty-three other divinely sent visitors also revealed 'truths' to Joseph, including dead men such as Adam, Abraham, and Joseph's own brother Alvin. These ghostly appearances of dead mortal men violate biblical verses in Ecclesiastes 9:5-6, Leviticus 19:31, Leviticus 20:27, Deuteronomy 18:10-13 and several others.


When these revelations occurred, Joseph Smith was seized with a strange power, he was rendered speechless, and he fell on his back. He had visions of darkness and light, a light similarly described as Muhammad's light.

Ellen G. White- This is the woman who is acknowledged as founding the Seventh Day Adventism cult. The following is from Wikipedia's entry Criticism of Ellen G. White.

"Her physical experiences during the visions revolved around, becoming unconscious, losing control of her arms and legs, shallow breathing and visual phenomena all of which are symptoms of an epileptic fit such as automatic movements of the hands or mouth, altered ability to respond to others, unusual speech, or unusual behaviors all of which were experienced during these visions. Moreover, following each of these seizures, there is some period of recovery in which neurological function is altered. This is called the postictal state. These states were independently witnessed by Ellen G. White's followers."

Padre Pio- is a highly esteemed Catholic visionary of modern times. When he went into vision states, it is reported that perfume emanated from and outward off his body, (Catholics call this 'odors of holiness'), Pio had many bleeding stigmata, high fevers (off the charts high), and, the usually manifested violent seizures.

Did any OT or NT prophet go into fits when they received an angelic visitation or divine revelation from Jesus or God? Did they flail about, become incoherent and insensible? Abraham fell down and entered a deep sleep after feeling a dread. The same with Daniel. That's it.

Daniel manifested some physical symptoms, as described in Daniel 10. He lost his strength, and he fell face forward (not backward as the false prophets above did.) He was left afterward with no strength, and remarked he had barely any breath in him, either. (Daniel 10:17). The angel gave him strength. (Daniel 10:19). Daniel did tremble, but it was not in a seizure or fit, his trembling was in fear and anguish at the vision's contents. When he was commanded to stand up, Daniel did. (Daniel 10:10-11).

Jacob dreamed of the ladder to heaven and then awoke and worshiped. (Genesis 28:10-17). Samuel heard God speak to him and listened. When morning came, Samuel opened the doors to the temple and went about his duties. There were no physical manifestations or seizure-like fits, no lengthy comas, just obedient listening, fully conscious with subsequent worship or attending to the task he was given. (1 Samuel 3:10-15). No seizure.

Balaam went into a trance, (Numbers 24:4) falling forward with his eyes open. No seizure.

Zacharias in the New Testament was visited by an angel, and Zacharias was afraid, but was comforted. He listened to the angel's message about the upcoming birth of his son John the Baptist, and was conscious and sensible enough to ask his question. The angel rendered Zacharias mute for his impertinence. Zechariah finished his term of priestly duties as a mute and went to his home. Luke 1:5-23. No seizure.

Peter received a vision about the clean foods on the sheet, and no untoward flailing occurred along with the revelation. Same with Paul - no severe physical manifestations accompanied his several visions.

Now comparing the false visionaries such as Muhammad, Smith, and White, we see that the incidences of demon possession in the Bible more closely mirror their experiences than do the experiences of the Bible's true prophets.

"Teacher, I brought my son to you, for he has a spirit that makes him mute. And whenever it seizes him, it throws him down, and he foams and grinds his teeth and becomes rigid." (Mark 9:17-18).

These are exactly the symptoms Muhammad exhibited, indeed, Muhammad himself often wondered that his fits were due to demonic spirits.

In Mark 5:3-5 we have the story of the demon possessed Gadarene, who exhibited superhuman strength, yelling, cutting himself, and craziness. We know he was out of his mind with lunacy because after Jesus sent the demons out, we read that the man returned to his right mind. (Mark 5:15).

Matthew 17:15 records that a father begged Jesus to heal his son, who was a lunatic and insensibly threw himself into the fire and the water constantly. Jesus sent the demon out of the boy. (Matthew 17:18).

It's clear to see the difference between the false prophets' visions and dreams, and the true prophets' experiences. The Biblical prophets were sensible, conversed with the angel or with God in their right mind, did not flail about in fits like a lunatic, and were able to rise up afterward and either go about their duties or to worship, with the lone exception of Daniel who was mightily depleted at times from what he had seen. But we can't blame him, Daniel was given horrific visions to see and record.

Today, we see false prophets of the Charismatic movement falling to the floor, writhing, foaming, screaming, laughing uncontrollably, exactly like those who were recorded as having demons in their body. John MacArthur sums this up:
I was watching the other day some behavior among Hindus who are a part of what’s called the Kundalini cult, the Kundalini cult. They have certain body movements that appear to be perhaps best explained by demon possession. And they’re the absolutely identical body movements to people in the charismatic movement in the extreme behaviors that we see in so-called revivals. This is paganism. This is the work of Satan. This is the work of the kingdom of darkness, and it is not to be attributed to the Holy Spirit. Source
Justin Peters has said, "It is not enough to believe in Jesus. You have to believe in the right Jesus." (Source, video Devilish Puppet Master of the Word of Faith movement.)

Muhammad's Islam, Joseph Smith's Mormonism, Ellen G. White's 7th Day Adventism, Padre Pio's Catholicism, and all other cults that begin with a supposed vision from God, deliver a false Jesus. They say they believe in Jesus, but it is not the right Jesus. How can one tell if one is following the right Jesus? He will be the Jesus of the Bible.

Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11 KJV).

It is very concerning that many women Bible teachers say they have had visions and are drifting toward Charismatic behavior with physical manifestations. One hallmark of a false vision is that true visions call upon people to repent. False visions never do. They're always about one's comfort and ease, or a new way to be a Christian, or some other puffery that will lead a person away from the only true word, the Bible.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12)

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

More information-

Most Dangerous Religious Cults: begun from visions and direct revelations from celestial beings claiming to be Mary, Jesus, angels, and so on. Beware those who claim to have had visions, dreams, and interactions with celestial beings! From these, some of the world's most dangerous cults and false religions have sprung!

L. Ron Hubbard, founder of the cult of Scientology, started his cult on the basis of a near-death experience he had under the influence of nitrous oxide during a dental procedure. When he awakened and recovered, Hubbard  said he had seen the secrets of life. (Source, his unpublished tome Excalibur, later re-worked into his more famous Dianetics book). Not that I can find particular evidence of any visionary manifestations of the physical, but with Hubbard I'm just noting that once again, a cult is built on personal revelations supposedly received from the divine or otherworldly source.

Unification Church members believe that Jesus appeared to Mun Yong-myong when he was 16 years old on Easter morning of 1935 (April 17) and asked him to accomplish the work left unfinished because of his crucifixion. After a period of prayer and consideration, Mun accepted the mission, later changing his name to Mun Son-myong (Sun Myung Moon). Source

The Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments of God was a breakaway religious movement from the Roman Catholic Church founded by Credonia Mwerinde, Joseph Kibweteere and Bee Tait in Uganda. It was formed in the late 1980s after Mwerinde, a brewer of banana beer, and Kibweteere, a politician, claimed that they had visions of the Virgin Mary. Source

RaĆ«lism is rooted in the experiences of a French former automobile journalist and race car driver Claude Vorilhon. In his books The Book Which Tells the Truth (1974) and Extraterrestrials Took Me to their Planet (1975), Vorilhon had alien encounters with beings who gave him knowledge of the origins of all major religions. Source





Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Gathering Storm

You know the story of Esther and her Uncle Mordecai. She was a Jewess in Persia who was chosen via contest by King Xerxes to be his wife. Except that Xerxes didn't know she was Jewish and when evil Second in Command Haman whispered to Xerxes to make a decree killing all the Jews, she was then in a real bind. It all had started when Uncle Mordecai, who had by then been promoted to an inside the court job in the King's administrative palace, refused to bow to Xerxes as Lord of all. Though apparently Mordecai had lived a fairly secular life, and perhaps for a while had traded wealth, influence, and power for Yahweh, when pressed, his faith rose up and he came through. It was his defining moment. Who will he bow to? Not Xerxes. God only. Mordecai chose.

"All the royal officials at the king’s gate knelt down and paid honor to Haman, for the king had commanded this concerning him. But Mordecai would not kneel down or pay him honor. Then the royal officials at the king’s gate asked Mordecai, “Why do you disobey the king’s command?” Day after day they spoke to him but he refused to comply. Therefore they told Haman about it to see whether Mordecai’s behavior would be tolerated, for he had told them he was a Jew." (Esther 3:2-4)

Soon after, Esther was faced with her defining moment. She could lay low, but Mordecai told her,

"Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?" (Esther 4:13-14)

So then, her other option was to tell the truth, approach the king, and plead for her people, even at peril for her own life. It was a defining moment for Esther.

In the 1960s and 1970s Firestone had a jingle in which the last line included the now-familiar phrase "Where the rubber meets the road." The phrase has come to mean not just good tires, lol, but a defining moment of truth, the most important point. It is like an Olympic Athlete who has trained for years, but everything only really counts at the moment of the race. Will he put all his training into a glorious and successful effort? Or will he stumble?

The four soils. In the parable of the soils in Luke 8:5-8, Jesus likened the Word of God to four types of soils the farmers of the times would have been familiar with. In reading Ken Ramey's book "Expository Listening" I learned that in ancient Palestine there were no fences. Between the fields were paths, which, due to incessant travel over them, had hard-packed the soil to almost cement-like consistency. Any seeds falling on that soil would never take root. Birds would eagerly swoop down instantly to take away the seed. This was a metaphor for a stubborn, unreceptive heart.

The other three soils Jesus spoke of in the parable were rocky, thorny, and good. The soil is an example of the kind of heart on which the word-seed would fall: rocky=shallow, superficial heart, thorny=worldly, strangled heart, good=soft, receptive heart.

From John Piper:
"This hard word is a quote from Isaiah 6:9-10 where God tells Isaiah his ministry to Israel will not only be saving for some but hardening for others. God says to Isaiah, "Go, and tell this people: 'Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand.' Render the hearts of this people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed." In other words, time had run out for these people and the Word of God was no longer effective to save them, but was only effective to render their hearts insensitive, and their ears dull, and their eyes dim."
"Even when preaching the Word of God does not soften and save and heal, it is not necessarily ineffective. This preaching of the Word may be doing God’s terrible work of judgment. It may be hardening people, and making their ears so dull that they will never want to hear again. There is a judgment in this world – not just in the world to come (Romans 1:24) – and oh, how we should flee from it. Which in this text means: take heed how you hear! Don't be cavalier in the hearing of God's Word week after week. If it is not softening and saving and healing and bearing fruit, it is probably hardening and blinding and dulling (see 2 Corinthians 2:16). (John Piper, From the Sermon: Take Care How You Listen – Part 1, Luke 8:4-18, February 15, 1998, www.DesiringGod.org.)
Albert Mohler wrote an eBook recently called

The Gathering Storm: Religious Liberty in the Wake of the Sexual Revolution

The link above brings you to a page where you can download it for free.

Is America approaching an Esther moment for her Christians living inside her borders? Is there a gathering storm? Will that moment reveal which kind of soil resides in our hearts? I think so. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but soon each Christian in America will have to choose his or her path in the public sphere. We have great privilege here in the US where we can gather on any Sunday, or any day, freely to worship our sovereign. We can claim Him as sovereign and proclaim Him as sovereign, without another competing sovereign quelling our exultation. We can share the Gospel in the public sphere and set up monuments, signs, statues, crosses or whatever we want in certain places, with or without permits in certain circumstances. We can pray in public and we can speak of Him to friend and stranger.

Don't take these privileges for granted. Freedom to worship is being chipped away at and redefined every day. Be prepared for a chilling effect or even a forced cessation of them.

Do not think that because you are in the king’s house US you alone of all the Jews Christians will escape...the persecution experienced by other Christians around the world in this time or in previous eras.

No matter what though, our King's throne is secure and His Kingdom is permanent. His church will thrive no matter the man-made pressure brought to bear against it. His people will be brought home to freely worship Him forever.

For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord. (Zephaniah 3:9).

EPrata photo


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Movie Review: Pitch Perfect

Do you like sweet movies, maybe with a little music or dance, with a tried-and-true simple plot, featuring adult teens and twentysomethings, all innocent? I do too! So I watched the movie Pitch Perfect because I'd heard it was all of the above. It wasn't!

Pitch Perfect was released in 2012, so I am very late to the party. The movie follows disaffected Beca Mitchell, just arrived at Barden College, dismissing her newly divorced father's persistent advice to get more involved in college life. Loner Beca drifts until she becomes inadvertently involved with the Barden Bellas, an all-female a Cappella competitive singing group. The Bellas made it to the finals of a nationwide singing competition last year but an unfortunate incident involving the lead singer during their finals performance caused great humiliation and their loss. The leader of the group wants redemption.

Redemption won't come however, as their tired and decades-old routines are consistently outshone by other groups who sing and dance with fresher approaches. Beca has some great ideas, but she is shot down by the leader who insists that tradition will get them the win. As the Bellas make their way through the quarterfinals and semi finals, with the finals looming, will the Bellas eventually embrace change and try a new approach? Will Beca, only barely hanging in with little commitment, stay with the group to the end?

The singing was good and so were the dances. The storyline, though recycled from a million other competition movies before it, was absorbing enough. However, the movie featured promiscuous sex (nothing shown, only referenced), drinking, vomiting from drinking, language, and lesbianism. Most of the dances were suggestive in the extreme. During the final performance one of the singer-dancers performed a lascivious move I wish I could unsee.

The review at Common Sense media was generous, but the Parent Reviews on the same website were not generous at all. The parent reviews in my opinion displayed more common sense.

Common Sense Media's review/rating

User reviews by parents at CSM, most reviews were of this vein


Then movie was not wholesome, despite its rating of PG-13. I have fewer objections to R-rated movies, because with them at least you know what you're getting. This one, advertised as sweet and appropriate for ten-year-olds, left me wanting to take a shower.

Not recommended.



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