Thursday, August 17, 2017

Something positive, cute, and endearing

Today, a little something different. We're all used to the world's dark news. The negativity of the world and the evil that is all around us can be discouraging. Here's something I hope will lift your day and bring a smile to you.

From the internets:
The righteous who walks in his integrity— blessed are his children after him! (Proverbs 20:7).



From the BBC, their new kids' network CBeebies- this is 2 minutes-




Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it. (Luke 18:17).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28).

Even though there is persecution, false teachers, racism, riots, and evil, there are still fathers who love their children, and there are children with a child-like perspective that someday we will all be blessed with. The faith of children, pure, unadorned, unadulterated, and loving. May I be like a child!

Always remember, as long as there is Jesus, there is Hope!

Have a blessed day!


Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Can we interpret the Bible by finding out what this verse means to me?

Have you ever gone to a Bible study and either they use a curriculum or the Bible itself, and the teacher reads a passage and then opens it up for comments by saying "What does this verse mean to you"? What is happening here is the teacher is confusing interpretation and application. There's a book called Multiply from Multiply Movement, which is David Platt and Francis Chan, written in 2012. Here is an excerpt from link to chapter 9 of their free book-
Know the Difference between Interpretation and Application 
Maybe the most common mistake made in Bible interpretation is when people focus too much on "what this verse means to me." It’s not uncommon for Bible study groups to go around the circle as each person shares an individualized interpretation. Often these interpretations are made with little study and are heavily influenced by opinion and desire. Many times, the various interpretations are incompatible with one another. In this type of setting, the focus is not on what God is saying through the Bible. Instead, each person is focused on what he or she thinks the verse means. Whether it’s clearly articulated or not, this approach reveals the assumption that the Bible has a personalized meaning for each Christian. It might mean one thing to me, but another thing to you.
I'll use an exaggerated example here, by saying, one man might respond by saying 'Yes, this passage says to me that I can sin with impunity." And the other man says, " What it means to me is that I have to follow the Law." Can it be both? No. As with any text, the author had one thing in mind when He wrote it. The fact that there are many different interpretations doesn't mean that we can sow our own agenda into the Bible, come out with different interpretations, and think that that's OK. It isn't.
Sometimes when we talk about "what this passage means to me," we are actually talking about application, rather than interpretation. With interpretation, we are asking what the passage is saying and what it means. With application, we are applying that meaning to our specific situation. Ultimately, each passage has one meaning, but it might have many different applications.
Application depends on our specific life situations, so we may all read the same passage and walk away with different applications. Interpretation, on the other hand, is all about discovering what God has actually said and what He intended to communicate. We should all read the same passage and walk away with the same meaning. Source: Multiply.
The Multiply book is free in pdf format and there are also 24 videos to match each week's lessons.

In the Ligonier online class Principles of Biblical Interpretation, lecturer RC Sproul always says that there is ONE intended meaning for each passage in the Bible. There might be many applications, but the Author intended one meaning. I can give an example of this. In the passages describing the rapture and in the larger context of God's plan for humankind in history, some interpret the rapture to occur before the Day of the LORD, or during the Day of the LORD, or after the Day of the LORD. Since it is one event and it happens only once, there can't be an interpretation of the rapture that includes 'what it means to me' with three different timings.' Only one of those timings is right and the other two are wrong.

John MacArthur at Grace Community Church preached against personal revelation and preached how to interpret the Word properly in this sermon from 2013.

And here is a general lecture on How To Study Your Bible: Interpretation from MacArthur.

Can we understand the one meaning the Author intended? With study, prayer, and the aid of the Holy Spirit, yes. Some passages are admittedly more difficult to understand. Also, we know we can't understand all of the Bible in the same way the LORD does. However let me end with this story I've told and re-told. It fascinates me. Shortly after the Soviet Union fell, John MacArthur was asked by some pastors in the split-off nation of Kazakhstan to come give them a crash course in theology on various topics. The Communist Soviet Union had banned Christianity and when it fell, the secret pastors, new pastors, and new believers needed to get a good foundation in the open. MacArthur came.

At the end of the week, they asked to be taught on eschatology. MacArthur spent 8 hours teaching them from the Bible about last things. At the end of the teaching, they said, "Good. This is what we believe." Having no access to commentaries, external sermons, or other teachings, and relying solely on the Bible, these pastors on one part of the world believed the same thing as another pastor in another part of the world, because they had interpreted rightly and understood the one intended meaning.

Won't it be wonderful when we're there and we all understand the same, and have a strong union in Christ with no error or sin? Meanwhile, in order to reduce the possibility of error, pray fervently and often, study diligently and well, and do not fall for the 'what this verse means to me" claptrap. Stay true to discovering the wonders of the single, intended meaning of the passage you are reading.
Onward and upward!


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

The arrogance of self-sufficiency

"I'm self-sufficient. I'm proud of it."

That was me, before I was saved. I was saved by grace of Jesus Christ. My parents were intensely interested in raising their children as "self-sufficient" and "independent". I heard those words so often. I had to 'figure it out' or 'do for myself' more times than not. By the time I reached adulthood, I was proud of all the things I could do by myself, for myself, leaning on no other. Asking for help was anathema.

Of course all the instilling of self-sufficiency was a stumbling block to bending the knee, realizing how hopeless I was on my own, and asking Jesus for help. The fact that He calls us and we don't choose Him is a grace that will manifest itself in untold aspects throughout all eternity. I never would have asked. He chose me.

The pagan heart builds many idols. Any and all idols are in opposition to God. Idols are an enemy of God, and at enmity with Him. For me, the root of all that vaunted self-sufficiency is pride. I was proud of all that I could do. I was proud that I needed no one. I was proud of my capabilities- capabilities I'd cultivated and no one else.

Anything can be an idol. Self-sufficiency is one.

The Chaldeans were swimming in self-sufficiency. This idol permeated their actions and drenched their hearts in evil. Habakkuk proclaimed against it in chapter 2 of the book of Habakkuk. This prophet pronounced 5 woes on the Chaldeans (though they were not named, this was the original target audience.) As scripture has one meaning but many applications, these verses can and do apply to us today as we learn object lessons about doing for ourselves and not bowing to God's will for us.

The fifth woe was the woe upon idolators (2:18–20). In poignant verses, God asks if idols can speak-

What profit is an idol when its maker has shaped it, a metal image, a teacher of lies? For its maker trusts in his own creation when he makes speechless idols! Woe to him who says to a wooden thing, Awake; to a silent stone, Arise! Can this teach? Behold, it is overlaid with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in it.(Habakkuk 2:18-19).

Oh! How terrible for the idolater who asks dead wood and stone to speak! How sad we seek instruction from dead objects and not the Living God!

Any and all idols in our hearts teach us lies. We are the maker of the idol, so because of our sin nature, it teaches us the lie of sin. Can stone awaken and instruct us in the ways of righteousness?

"But I don't worship idols," you say. "I don't ask stone or wood to speak."

Do you seek instruction from horoscopes? The sun? "Mother Nature"? Do you rely on your intellect? Your capabilities? Your money? All idols! All dead!

The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23a). God speaks of this New Testament truth in the Old Testament in Habakkuk 2:8, 2:17...

The Good News is that the rest of the Romans verse continues after speaking of the wages of sin, by a glorious promise.

but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:6b)

The antidote to self-sufficiency is humility. As this woman spoke so eloquently on Twitter this week,

Anna Crouse‏ @annacrouse_
Humility isn't a burden or humiliation or oppressive weight but is the only posture that can receive the wondrous grace gifts of God
Instead of "I can do it" we say "I can't do it. Lord I need you!"





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Resources

Elyse Fitzpatrick: Idols of the Heart
Do you feel discouraged, even defeated, in your battle against habitual sin? Are you dismayed or surprised by the situations that bring out your fear, anger, or distress? Elyse Fitzpatrick delves into the heart of the problem: deep down, we're all idol-worshippers who put our loves, desires, and expectations in God's place—and then suffer the consequences of our misplaced affections. Yet God loves his people and can use even our messy lives and struggles for his glory. Fitzpatrick shows us how to better search and know our hearts, long for our gracious Savior, and resist and crush our false gods. Includes questions for further thought.

Monday, August 14, 2017

The Tongue is a Rudder: A Sailing Story

I lived on a sailboat and cruised up and down the eastern seaboard for two years. Just as there is with any lifestyle, there are niches within that lifestyle. The circumnavigators go around the world, traveling for weeks across the seas from one continent to another. These folks are serious, and they generally have sold all they own and permanently live on their boat.

Then there were people like us who lived aboard and cruised along the shoreline. Live-aboard cruisers don't usually venture far out to sea, though we may be without sight of land for hours or a day or so on an overnight passage. We usually keep our houses and relationship attachments, live this way for a period of time, and then return to life on shore. This is called "swallowing the anchor". For liveaboards like is cruising is more of an adventure than a way of live.

Then there are the folks who own a sailboat and dock it at a yacht club and sail for a few hours on the weekend. Many of these folks dream of living aboard or circumnavigating but haven't been able to do so yet.

Though there are tiers of sailors with varying levels of commitment and skill, the Sea can be kind or cruel to each one of us. When an emergency happens while sailing on the ocean it's just as life threatening whether you're near shore or in the middle of the ocean.

Annie C. Maguire wreck. Portland ME. EPrata photo
photo Collections of ME Historical Society. FMI on the wreck-Source
My husband and I had sailed from Maine to Florida with a variety of passages that included motoring down the Intracoastal Waterway,sailing across huge Rivers and Sounds, and making some offshore overnight ocean passages. We'd finally arrived at Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas anchorage, the traditional launching off point to cross the Gulf Stream to the nearby nation of The Bahamas. It's 50 miles, but a tricky 50 miles.

The Gulf Stream is a fast moving river of water atop the ocean. The Gulf Stream is about 60 miles wide and runs at an average surface speed of 5.5 mph. Since the boat can sail at around 5 mph it means that the combined speed plus the Gulf Stream's fast northward push means you have to make exact navigation maths and be on constant vigilance. You could get pushed to Ireland if you're not careful. A worse disaster would be pushed a few miles, or even a few feet off course and wind up on the rocks, shipwrecked on the shores of a foreign nation or in hazardous waters.
You need to stay on your toes regarding weather. You'll be traveling in open ocean, the islands are low, some anchorages will be exposed on one or more sides, and there will be potentially rough passages through reefs and cuts between islands. Source
The warm waters of the Gulf Stream (red). FL is at bottom,
the topmost island left side is town of West End, Grand Bahama Island.
So you start off from Ft. Lauderdale and let the Gulf Stream push you north and your sails push you east toward the intended harbor. The biggest danger is a wind that flows from the north tot he south, and meets the Gulf Stream waters moving from the south heading north. The collisions of southerly flowing air and northerly flowing fast water makes for a steep waves. Steep waves are rough because the front part of the boat (the bow) goes up and then down fast. At least with a rolling wave the boat can roll with it. A steep chop makes the boat pound. Pounding is hard on everyone and is hard on the boat.

Because crossing over the Gulf Stream is a bit dangerous and not for the fainthearted, mariners usually take off from the anchorage in little groups. Safety in numbers. Not that if anything happens we can go from one boat to another to troubleshoot the problem, but if the worst happens we can rescue a person from the water or call for the Coast Guard for help and stand by.

So our little clutch set off in the dark hours, so we would arrive at a time when the rising sun would be over our shoulders and not in our eyes. The weather report was for gentle winds flowing north, which would actually help flatten the Gulf Stream waters.

All was well ... sailing over the bounding main ... for a while.

The wind unexpectedly shifted from the south to the north, creating that dreaded sharp, steep chop. The boats took a pounding. Then the rain and thunder and lighting started. It was dark and it was rough.Then...one of the boats' rudders broke.

I think you know how important a rudder is. It is a tiny thing, relatively speaking, a small part of the boat. Not heavy like the motor, not showy like the sails. However it's the most critical part, since it steers the boat. Without the rudder, our friend's yacht was drifting helplessly in the storm, in the Gulf Stream, toward the reefs. They were at the mercy of waves, rocks, and winds. They had no control and it was terrifying.

When we put bits into the mouths of the horses to make them obey us, we can guide the whole animal. Consider ships as well. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot is inclined. In the same way, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it boasts of great things! James 3:3-5

A small rudder can guide the whole boat. A small muscle like the tongue can guide the whole body. With the rudder not guiding the boat, it was at the mercy of other more destructive things than the pilot's inclination. Just like the tongue. The 'pilot' must be in control of the tongue so it does not become subjugated to other, more destructive things like slander, gossip, tale-bearing, and criticism. These are the rocks and reefs of relationships, as Jude describes in Jude 1:12-13, using the same sailing metaphors of waves, reefs, and winds.

I was busy handling our boat and my husband was on the VHF radio in contact with the stricken vessel. We all had slowed down and were kind of trying to circle around them and stay close. It was hard to do so in the storm. Eventually the other men talked him through and somehow he got his rudder fixed.

We were off course by then so we had to regroup and figure out how to get back on track. The winds were still high and we were in the hump of the Gulf Stream, the current was flowing fast. Entering West End Grand Bahama was a tricky maneuver of sliding between reefs through a narrow channel. We were off by a few feet. However you can see the destruction ready for the unwary in the Annie C. Maguire vintage photo above. They were only off by a few feet also.

Providentially, there was a Good Samaritan who happened to be carrying a VHF radio who happened to be walking the beach who guided us in. If he had not been there we would have ended up on the rocks. It's another example of how the Lord protected me until the appointed time for salvation, 13 years later.

I'll never forget the terror of our friends losing their rudder. Even though the James verse about taming the tongue by using marine metaphors is vividly alive for me, I still failed in this last week. I've repented. After listening to a lecture by Justin Peters on the importance of wholesome talk and the destructive inclinations of the tongue by gossip, I will do better this week. I do not want to end up on the rocks for correction. I am the pilot. I am in charge of my boat. With the Holy Spirit to guide me safely to port, I know I have all the help I need.

EPrata photo
The dark blob in the foreground is a coral head. Their sharpness can rip the keel or underside of your boat like a razor. The boat with two men on it is grounded. The water gets shallow very fast in The Bahamas. In the middle horizon, those brown humps are the land, which is just a few feet above sea level. Now picture trying to find the right channel, in the dark, in a storm, on 0 sleep in the last 24 hours.


Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Bible is so amazing

In my Bible reading there are some verses that have 'jumped out' at me lately:

do not be arrogant toward the branches. If you are, remember it is not you who support the root, but the root that supports you. (Romans 11:18).

He supports me. Isn't that a lovely thought? I do not want to be arrogant and take HIS glory away.

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Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: 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).

As a writer, I admire the beauty among this economy of words. Only the Spirit could inspire such gorgeous writing that proclaims such truth!

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For the LORD is righteous; he loves righteous deeds; the upright shall behold his face. (Psalm 11:7).

To behold such glorious righteousness is a thought that both encourages me and makes me tremble. What a day that will be!
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Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. (Proverbs 11:4).

I praise the Lord I do not have a lust for riches. I know people who do (did). Some spend their entire life accumulating, lusting for expensive things, hoarding wealth. Unless there was a miraculous deathbed conversion, they are languishing in a place where their riches do not profit them. Thank You Lord for Your righteousness that is indeed riches beyond measure.

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Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35).

How amazing that we will personally hear Him speak these words someday!

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The Bible is so rich, so beautiful. The many verses and passages and stories convict, inspire, point to the glory of the Lord...it's staggering that this Book contains so much and is so everlasting.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Movie Review: The Queen of Katwe

I spend almost more time looking for and reading reviews of movies than I do watching them. I don't have the time to waste on a bad movie during the school year, and though I have more time at home during the summer never do I want to watch something that will be blasphemous, offensive, or pass before my eyes things I can't unwatch. I know you feel the same.

Here is a synopsis and review of a movie I feel is worth watching for the entire family (tweens and up): Queen of Katwe. The movie summary says: A school-drop out named Phiona (pronounced like Fiona) living in the slum of Katwe sells maize along with her brother to help her family survive. Her older sister has already succumbed to the lure of being a kept women and the widowed mother is wearily but with dignity striving to instill in her remaining children hope where it seems that life is hopeless. At this moment in their family life Phiona is discovered to have an agile and highly advanced mind and is a genius at chess.

(Common Sense Media's review & synopsis here.)

That this is a true story and in fact it has recently occurred, which makes it all the more compelling. At the end of the movie you will see each character and what has become of them. In addition to the themes noted above by Common Sense Media is one that is often overlooked: the cycle of poverty.

The slum outside Kampala Uganda known as Katwe is one of the largest and most dire of slums in that country. The overwhelming filth, poverty, and dense living conditions are not glossed over in this movie produced by Disney. As Phiona rises through the ranks in chess championships and her world gradually expands, eventually she must come to terms with who she is and if her origins define her character or if her character will define her character.

The interplay of rich v. poor, impoverished origins v. entitlement impact the girl greatly. It's a similar theme shown in My Fair Lady. As Eliza Doolittle rises from Cockney impoverished flower girl to genteel lady she wonders where she belongs and who she is if she is no longer "poor" and has to struggle for survival. Will Phiona take the daring leap into the unknown or retreat into what she is used to, even though that means remaining a cog in the grinding cycle of poverty? At points, the outcome is by no means certain and the movie deftly shows why.

For family viewing, several scenes are mildly intense. Phiona's brother is run over by a motorcycle and Phiona's desperate near-helplessness to get him to a clinic and obtain the medical services he needs are gripping. Throughout the movie I'd wondered why the slum shacks are entered by walking over planks or pallets situated over a deep trench. The flood scene showed me. Monsoon rains are beyond heavy and Phiona's toddler brother nearly dies in a flood that sweeps through their derelict home. I read later that Katwe's seasonal floods are so bad that people sleep on their roofs - if they have a roof - so as not to drown at night.

The scene that most affected me is when the chess team has traveled to a fancy championship location and they are put up in dormitories for the night. The youth pastor who leads the sports ministry, including this chess team, is momentarily startled when he arrives at their room to tuck them in, all the beds are empty and all the bedding remained where it was at the first, neatly folded and piled on the end of each cot. A momentary panic rises in his eyes until he sees all of the children huddled up on the floor in the corner, slum family style, their own clothes and brought scarves and fabrics for covers. It was what they were used to.

The movie does not gloss over the entrenchment of the cycle of poverty the difficulties in rising out of it, and the lingering issues that haunt those who do, including prejudice of the entitled against the poor. Though one of the main characters is a youth pastor, and his chess club is part of a sports mission, no mention is made of Jesus or what denomination he is from or any religious discussions at all. However, he is depicted as a trustworthy man fighting for his charges with love and devotion. It's produced by Disney so the production values are excellent. Recommended.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Is the Wisconsin company microchipping employees a fulfillment of the Mark of the Beast?

Prophecy is so important to the Christian. We are supposed to take comfort and encouragement in it. God is sovereign, therefore He has the ability and the right to ordain history beforehand, and He does. Then in His grace and mercy He gave us knowledge of what will happen. We rejoice in knowing He will bring all He has said to pass. (Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. Matthew 24:35).

Sadly, Prophecy as a field of study has gotten a bad reputation. One reason is that it is rife with the unstable who make unbiblical date-driven predictions. Another reason is that some passages are admittedly difficult and the unstable go astray when preaching them. These passages are not impossible to understand, because the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible for our edification and He helps us interpret it. However, prophetic passages do take some deep study. When someone unstable preaches on eschatology, the passages are twisted and the sheep gain a misunderstanding instead of illumination (and the goats too)..

Prophecy is important because it informs our holiness and behavior. As Pastor Mike Abendroth said,
"Prophecy drives behavior. There are ethical implications to all eschatology. Those that study eschatology the most in my opinion ought to be the most holy, because they are so pondering the return of Christ." ~Pastor Mike Abendroth, Bethlehem Bible Church/No Compromise Radio
There is a particular passage of scripture that is well-known to even the unsaved, and that regards the Mark of the Beast and his number of 666. Revelation 13:11-18 outlines what this is.

Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

The Second Beast is the False Prophet. At the time of the Tribulation when the Church is taken out of the world and Jesus hurls His stored-up wrath on Israel and the pagans, the Antichrist will rise. The UNholy trinity will be Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the devil himself, satan. These three will appear to be the blessed trinity, they'll perform signs and wonders, deceive the whole world, and then once they have the people in the palm of their hand, they will force all to worship the Antichrist by receiving this mark on their hand or forehead. The Mark of the Beast is a mark of allegiance and worship.

Those who refuse to accept the mark will be unable to buy or sell, and so in effect, be starved or out in the cold so they'll die, if the antichrist doesn't catch them and behead them first.

Since the Mark is on the hand or forehead, and since it involves a number, and since it will be something that is trackable at points of sale, many have speculated that the Mark will be a chip-like piece of technology.

Normally, discussing the antichrist and his mark retains a whiff of unsavoriness due to these passages being mishandled so often. Worse, newspaper exegesis causes teachers to go off the rails. Newspaper exegesis is preaching prophecy from the news and not the Bible. We saw a lot of this with the Blood Moons. We will probably see this with the upcoming Eclipse.

However this week Dr Al Mohler remarked about microchipping and the Mark of the Beast on his cultural news and Bible program The Briefing. The mark of the beast was in the news. A Wisconsin company began microchipping its employees, and apparently the program is voluntary (for now). Legal and ethical implications abound, but also prophetic implications, all of which were discussed on Mohler's program. Here are several brief excerpts from the Mohler segment with my own comments interspersed:
If you're a Christian familiar with the Scriptures, then no doubt another dimension of this question is coming to your mind. It's come to the mind of others, including interestingly enough USA Today. In yesterday's international edition of USA Today, there is a story by Holly Meyer. It asks the question, is this the mark of the beast? As she writes, 
"The apocalyptic "mark of the beast" prophecy in the Bible makes some wary of a Wisconsin company’s recent decision to embed microchips into the hands of willing employees. The end times account," she writes, "in the New Testament’s Book of Revelation warns believers about being marked on the right hand and the forehead by the Antichrist." But she says, "inserting rice-sized microchips under the skin of Three Square Market employees does not fulfill the prophecy."
The mark is actually enforced by the False Prophet, not the antichrist, but close enough for secular people. Interesting that they know both the mark, his number, and of the antichrist himself. The Mark is a deliberate mark of worship. When the False Prophet causes all to take the mark, they know what it is for and why they are taking it. The enticement is being able to buy and sell, but it is first and foremost a Mark of the allegiance to the Beast, and it's going to be offered to the whole world, not just 40 employees in Wisconsin. We are not in the times outlined by Revelation now. So the issue fails on those three accounts as far as being a "fulfillment" of the aforementioned prophecy. Continuing with Mohler:
The USA Today story goes back to Proffesor Vlachos who said,"Taking the mark goes hand in hand with the conscience decision of publicly pledging one's allegiance or loyalty to the beast and worshiping his image." He went on to say that, "The mark is not a random number either. It always names the Antichrist, either numerically or alphabetically." The professor says to his students, "No name, no worries."
A similar kind of assessment came in the USA Today story by Randall Balmer, chair of the religion department at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. He said that many evangelicals look to that book and current events in terms of something like a parlor game. But even as Balmer seemed initially to dismiss the speculation, he went on to say that he understood why people might connect the micro-chipping and the prophecy from the book of Revelation. "It may not be the 'mark of the beast,' but it certainly is a slippery slope.' He went on to say, "I think we should be cautious about allowing that measure of control or surveillance into our lives."
The last days of the last days all takes place within 7 years. There is a massive amount of prophecy that will unfold within that very short time. It could be said that the last 6000 years has been laying the infrastructure for those last 7. I agree that the microchipping is a slippery slope. The technology that will be used in those short, last 7 years is present on earth now and further, the minds and hearts of people on earth are being prepared to use it. After the rapture it'll all come together quickly. Dr Mohler concluded-
But at the same time, there's something truly haunting about the idea of a company embedding an RFID chip under the skin of an employee’s hand. We're told, of course, that the company will not be able to track the employee, but we also understand just how quickly this kind of technology can go from a matter promised as a convenience to a matter coerced as an absolute necessity.
... It also tells us something that this particular story landed on the front page of USA Today, the book of Revelation, the antichrist, and the beast on the front page of USA Today, even in its international edition as read here in Europe. It at least should be noted that even in this very secular culture there are those who immediately are asking the same question. Is this chip the mark of the beast? That tells us that even secular people still hear the distant hoof beats of the horsemen from the book of Revelation.
Yes. Yes. Yes. I'm so glad that this issue is being directly addressed, and in both a scriptural and poignant way, too. Dr Mohler said in his article that no, this is not the mark of the beast, but it is haunting. It's haunting in my opinion because of the conscious decision of many future millions to consign themselves to eternal destruction the moment they raise their hand to worship the beast and not Christ.

It's also haunting that the pagan world is so spooked and unnerved by this prophecy. Deep down, with eternity in their hearts, they know that wrath for sin is coming. In a dark, closed cupboard of their mind, they are aware of the prophecies and keep that door firmly shut...until an article like this comes along and they lose their atheistic composure. That's why when a false teacher teaches a date-driven prophecy related to prophecy, they mock and scorn when it doesn't come to pass, comforting themselves that it won't happen at all. (2 Peter 3:4; Matthew 24:48). When prophecy becomes fodder for jokes or badly made movies, they comfort themselves that it is just fiction. (Ecclesiastes 8:11).

Please be the Christian like the ones mentioned by Pastor Abendroth: let prophecy inform your behavior and inspire you (and me) to urgency. We have to read prophecy in the first place, and then pray for wisdom and understanding to is grows us on proper holiness. Because, prophecy is important, even the strange and difficult passages like the ones mentioned in Revelation. Especially those.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Spot the self-refutation: Beth Moore

When the Be Still DVD was issued in 2006, Beth Moore’s participation in what was obviously a mystical/pagan promotion of Eastern Religious prayer practices caused an uproar. This was 11 years ago at this writing and Moore was seen as solidly solid then. Moore issued a clarification and retraction and apology for her participation, saying it was "hugely accidental" if she participated in something unsound. She assured her audience-

Beth Moore 1: "I am not involved in any kind of emergent church movement or any kind of mystical prayer movement."

Then she continued in her apology, clarifying her words that ended up on the DVD-

Beth Moore 2: "Here's what I intended to say: pray, pray, and pray some more and learn how to listen for God's response."

The two comments are from the same piece of writing. Do you see what I see?

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

Here is Moore a few years later participating in a mystical prayer experience of Lectio Divina. Photo source: Sola Sisters.






Beth Moore's labyrinth descent to falsehood

Amy Spreeman at Berean Research posted this on her Facebook Wall about Beth Moore's new Facebook banner and fortune cookie quote:



Mrs Spreeman said, "I asked a question - we'll see how long the FB page admin keeps my comment up."


I agree when Amy says that Michelle Dacus Lesley said it very well:



Are prayer labyrinths biblical? GotQuestions has the answer:
Are prayer labyrinths biblical? No, they are not. Not only are labyrinths never mentioned in the Bible, but they also conflict with several biblical principles of worship and prayer.
Please go to the link to read the explanation as to why prayer labyrinths are not biblical. GotQuestions lays out 5 reasons why.

Is Beth Moore a false teacher? Yes. She is a false teacher.

1. She twists the Bible. (2 Peter 3:16),
2. She preaches from her own visions. (Ezekiel 13:7, Romans 1:21),
3. She associates with heretics and calls them friends. (1 Corinthians 15:33, Proverbs 14:7),
4. She preaches Word-Faith heresy. (source on what this doctrine is and why it is bad and comparing Moore' sword-faith to scripture),
5. She is a mystic who promotes Lectio Divina, Contemplative Prayer, Labyrinths, and other mystical practices.

As someone commented on Amy Spreeman of Berean Research's FB page,
Nope! I am appalled at how many church leaders think this woman is biblically sound!!
Me too. Me too...

PS: The Media Team at Beth Moore LPL responded to Mrs Lesley's and Mrs Spreeman's negative comments about the labyrinth
"Hi Amy! I'm on Beth’s media team, and we chose this picture not realizing that it was a Prayer Labyrinth. Thank you for teaching us! We appreciate your help."
The Media Team, which is the face and the name of Beth Moore "did not know" it was a labyrinth. Um, okay...

----------------------------------------------------
FMI:

Beth Moore: False Teacher

Why your pastor should say no more to Beth Moore

Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry




Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How much error does a false teacher need to exhibit before they're considered false?

The Next 500 Years: 2017 National Conference was held a few months ago. The synopsis of what the Conference was about follows:
The same God who brought the Reformation in the sixteenth century is still at work today. His plan has not changed, and what He has purposed for His glory and our good will be accomplished.

On March 9-11, 2017, Ligonier Ministries hosted its 30th annual National Conference. Alistair Begg, Tim Challies, Leonardo De Chirico, Sinclair Ferguson, W. Robert Godfrey, Michael Horton, Steven Lawson, Augustus Lopes, John MacArthur, Albert Mohler, Stephen Nichols, Michael Reeves, Derek Thomas, and Stephen Tong joined R.C. Sproul to celebrate the five-hundredth anniversary of the Protestant Reformation and consider the future of the church.
During the conference, there was a Panel Discussion/Audience Q&A comprised of Steven Lawson, RC Sproul, Al Mohler, and John MacArthur. Thirteen questions were asked and answered on a variety of topics. Since I'm interested in discernment, and since we can learn much from the men who were assembled, I was especially interested in their answer to the following question:
How do you define a false teacher? How much error is needed before they are considered false? 
The answers were transcribed and this one begins at the 32:23 mark on the video, linked above.

Three good answers were given. Of course many other things can be said, they only had so much time and had other questions to discuss. Here is a synopsis of the three responses and I'll add my own thoughts after that. You can view/read the full responses at the link above.

Dr Sproul said that when is a false teacher a false teacher is when he teaches falsehood. This might seem obvious but in this day and age where 'tolerance', 'forgiveness' and 'non-judgmental-ness' reigns, we have forgotten many of the basics. If he or she teaches falsehood, they are a false teacher. Would the Holy Spirit in us allow falsehoods to permeate a person and their teachings? No. His ministry is to point to Jesus.

Dr Al Mohler followed up Dr Sproul's comment by saying that in addition to falsehood, any teacher who resists correction is also false. By the strict definition of teaching falsehood=false teacher, Apollos would have been false. However when he was corrected by Priscilla and Aquila, Apollos was glad, and accepted it. If you can think of some particular teachers today who teach falsely, and have definitely been contacted to repent of their falseness and given the truth, and they continue in falseness, then this helpful barometer might clear some confusion up as to who might be true and who might be false.

Dr MacArthur added another layer to the discussion with his response. A false teacher teaches falsely, but what would he be teaching that is false? In addition to behavior, (a truculent liar) what content does a false teacher teach?

MacArthur said that there are some absolutely non-negotiable truths that you are false if you deny the Trinity. If you deny the deity of Christ. If you deny His sinless life, substitutionary death, salvation by grace through faith, the gospel. That’s the drive-train of truth. Saving truth. Those are not negotiable.

So by those standards, and I admit there are others, a false teacher teaches things that are false (though not stated, would be additions to scripture in the form of personal thoughts, revelations, or visions) is uncorrectable, and twists or in some way denies the hard and fast basic truths of Christianity.

The Bible says not to add to His word, but it also says not to delete anything from His word. (Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 12:32, Revelation 22:18-19). If I can add my own thought to he conversation: any preacher who regularly and defiantly omits one of the basic truths from Christianity is also false. I think we can all think of the prime example here: Joel Osteen. He has been asked many times why he doesn't preach sin or wrath, and he says that is not his calling. We can't have the Good News of blessing and salvation if we do not know what the bad news of sin and our need for Jesus to escape God's wrath.

One more thought: the Bible has only one skill standard for teaching: "able to teach" as stated in 1 Timothy 3:2. As Crossway defines able: "refers to the ability to communicate and apply the truth of Scripture with clarity, coherence, and fruitfulness". The rest are behavioral/moral standards. Any false teacher might be able to teach the truths of scripture faithfully, appear to be correctable, but live in opposition to the standards the Bible commands. Jimmy Swaggart comes to mind here. And one does not have to be a rampant sinner seeking prostitutes to be living like hell, there are many Bible teachers whose greed and profligate living is well known, as well as many female teachers who usurp their husband's and the church's authority. Any of those are in opposition to God's standards for life.

During the panel discussion, Sproul said Calvin said no theologian is ever more than 80 percent right. Sometimes when I bring up that so-and-so is false, I'll receive this type of response. The person intimates that we must tolerate the false teachers, because after all, we all sin and no one is 100% right. I think this misses the point entirely. I agree we're all sinners, and no one is perfect. As mentioned, Apollos was teaching partially. I don't think that Peter, Paul John etc had no possibility of growth or understanding as they studied and matured in their walk. Even Jesus grew in stature and wisdom. (Luke 2:52).

The difference between one of the Apostles or Apollos or any true preacher today is that:

1) they want to teach truth, scrupulously,
2) they are correctable when error is pointed out,
3) their overall growth is in wisdom and stature as time goes on, add
4) their heart's desire is that Jesus is glorified and the saints are growing.

A false teacher

1) is greedy
2) opposes God
3) is uncorrectable
4) makes sons of hell twice as bad as they are

False teachers ahead: beware!
Photo by Braydon Anderson. Unsplash, free to use.

False teachers will always be with us: until eternity begins and Jesus purges their blot from the new heavens and new earth. Praise Him for holiness and purity.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Royal Dutch Airlines Unleashes The Single Stupidest Gay Pride Ad Of All Time

Daily Wire remarked on the KLM Royal Dutch Airlines' Gay "Pride" ad campaign with this headline:

Royal Dutch Airlines Unleashes The Single Stupidest Gay Pride Ad Of All Time
In its desire to placate the sexual political correctness running rampant in advertising lately, Royal Dutch Airlines has just condemned all same-sex couples to death, propounding the idea that any kind of seatbelt arrangement suits the airline just fine:

The article above continued with Twitter screen shots of hilarity and mockery.

I loved this man's Facebook comment to the above:
I said the same on Twitter. The boy-boy belt won't work, and the girl-girl belt won't work. Only the boy-girl belt will "click." You can paint the strap rainbow but...

So self-refutation indeed. Anyway, last time I checked, seat belts still needed a male and a female part to "click" , and homosexuality was still a sin.


Sunday, August 6, 2017

Kay Cude poetry: Awake Shepherds of Christ

Kay Cude poetry. Used with permission. Click to enlarge. Artist's statement below.



Kay Cude:

I was captured immediately by Samuel Palmer's etching "The Lonely Tower." I haven't researched the reason behind this particular work of his; but that light shining from the tower became one of the particulars for developing my text. ("Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." Psalm 119:105). The "lone traveler" with the ox-cart became the "example" of a true shepherd of Christ and the shepherds "at watch" a reminder of "inattentive" shepherds. The "traveler shepherd" had Christ's name inscribed upon his forehead; the "sheep's shepherds" were brought to the piteous reality they had been asleep with the sheep while on watch!

I begin my explanation with several absolutes: the Lord Christ Jesus is our "Light" shining; He is our strong tower; in Him we live and move and exist. No matter how dark the surroundings of this present world or our circumstances, He remains our beacon of God's truth; our refuge, strength and confidence; our life's purpose, reason and eternity! Finally, He has not left us without help, but has appointed shepherds to equip, protect and oversee us as we "journey" on this earth. We are His lambs, His flock.

Notice that the attention of the reclining shepherds is focused on the tower and the traveler. Although it appears the sheep are resting (or sleeping) securely, the shepherds' attentiveness is no longer centered on their flock. Attention has shifted onto a nominal curiosity. In context for these "latter days," how many of the redeemed are "resting" or "asleep," assuming they are secure under the watchfulness of their shepherd? Do they understand that "watchfulness" includes their pastor's ensuring that the following Christian disciplines are provided under his leadership: instruction in discernment--how to recognize true doctrine from false; discipleship training--the process by which we grow in Christ and are equipped by the Holy Spirit; understanding--true salvation versus false conversion; understanding--baptism of the Holy Spirit versus being filled with the Holy Spirit; knowledge--about the three distinct persons of the Trinity? And so much more!

It is through Scriptural TRUTH and the attentive exhortation of sound doctrine that our shepherds become the vigilant and effective leaders/teachers they are called to be. They must always be attentive to Christ's flock, ready in season and out to rightly handle and administer God's revealed Word; for these are the latter days, more perilous than ever before in the history of mankind.

If our shepherds preach Christ as revealed through the Canon of Scripture, we the flock are cared-for, protected and equipped to serve Christ. When shepherds are at constant guard, they will not allow inattentiveness to keep the door to the sheepgate ajar. ("Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." Acts 20:28).

Click to enlarge



Friday, August 4, 2017

Golden Girls go Sonny & Cher: A story of sanctification

I'm 56 years old so I came up in the 1980s. I was not saved then. The Golden Girls was a television show that ran for 7 highly successful seasons before one of the stars, Bea Arthur, decided to leave. The other three stars were Betty White, Estelle Getty, and Rue McLanahan. Arthur, Getty, and McLanahan have all passed on. Betty White at age 95 is still going strong.

The show's premise was a co-living, roommate situation where widow McLanahan had advertised for two roommates to help offset costs of living in her large Miami home. Bea Arthur's character moved her 80-year-old mother character (Getty) into the house during the first episode.

Even though the show was about four older (or elderly) women (three widows, one divorcee) it was well-written and hilarious. Others thought so too:
The Golden Girls received critical acclaim throughout most of its run and won several awards, including the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series twice. It also won three Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Musical or Comedy. Each of the four stars received an Emmy Award (from multiple nominations during the series' run), making it one of only three sitcoms in the award's history to achieve this. The series also ranked among the top-10 highest-rated programs for six of its seven seasons.
Being an Educator, I'm at home in the summer when school is out. During my down time, I watched a lot of the Golden Girl episodes. I also watched documentaries about the show, like how it originated, the biographies of the actresses, and the writer's process

The show is funny, witty, and intelligent. It is also evil, gross, and of the world.

In one of the documentaries, Bea Arthur was talking about how they wrote the show to address social or moral issues that the writer, producer, and actors wanted to use to present their point of view. Do not ever think that television and other media are neutral. They are of the world, and they most certainly present satan's point of view.

The show addressed HIV-AIDS, ("it's NOT a judgment on bad people or sexual activity!" cross dressing (it's OK), homosexuality (It's OK), sexual promiscuity (it's OK), same sex marriage (normal!), assisted suicide (duh, OK!) and so on. In one interview Bea Arthur proclaimed about how the show advanced understanding on these social issues for the betterment of society.

No. It didn't. It advanced satan's agenda to normalize sin, or at least de-sensitize us to it. Anyway none of this is anything new, except for the perspective. Oftentimes as I review my day, plead to Jesus to accept my confessions of sin, beg the Holy Spirit to grow me so I sin less against Him tomorrow than I did today, and then nearly despair because I cant see any progress in myself, I look back. Way back.

I distinctly remember enjoying the TV show and agreeing with all its premises. I thought it was the height of wit and worldliness- worldly in a good way. I'm saved now. After re-looking at the show these many years later, I've grown enough to be absolutely disgusted with it. After viewing  some episodes, I stopped watching.

Only God can clean a soul to the degree where we not only can see the sin we used to love for what it is, but be repelled by it. Over time, you should see progress. The trajectory might be bumpy, or it might be smooth and steady, but either way, your sanctification will grow- up.

Sanctification means to be set apart for holy things. If you are saved, you are being sanctified, meaning, you are growing in holiness. We cannot sanctify our own self because there is no part of ourself where we are not touched by our sin. Our entire nature is drenched in sin. Therefore the Persons of the Trinity sanctify us. When we confess Jesus is Lord and ask for forgiveness of our sins He installs the Holy Spirit in us as a guarantee, and off we grow. (1 Corinthians 1:30; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Corinthians 6:11). Our part is to actively obey in trust.

The world loved and still loves the Golden Girls. I loved it but then again I was part of the world. Thank You Lord for taking me out of the world.

PS: Even though the show overall promotes things of satan and is crass...this one skit had me doubled over laughing. If you remember the singing duo Sonny & Cher, the formerly married couple had a variety show in the 1970s in addition to a singing carer that spawned many top charted hits. Cher had some tics and quirks in performing that here, Bea Arthur reproduced spot on, even her walk. It's hilarious. The studio audience goes so crazy because Arthur really nailed it.

Below the GG skit parodying Sonny & Cher is the real Sonny & Cher. After retiring from show business, Sonny was elected mayor of Palm Springs California. Cher was known for her skimpy (and I mean skimpy!) costumes and belly button baring outfits on her show. Six years ago I wrote about the unfortunate decisions Cher's daughter Chastity was making in becoming transgendered. Sin, sin being of the world, the world loves its own,...and the beat goes on.







Thursday, August 3, 2017

Some more Pre-Trib comfort

Once again I'm presenting comfort in the hope of the Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

At a certain point in earth's history to come, it is promised to us that Jesus will lift His church composed of Christians dead and alive, into heaven to be with Him. Then he will hurl His stored-up wrath upon earth to punish the unbelieving nation Israel, and the sinful Gentile world. Some people say there will be no rapture at all. Others say that it will happen at the end of or in the middle of the time of wrath (AKA the Tribulation, or Time of Jacob's Trouble). Since the rapture is in the Bible, and since it is a single even that is promised to occur, it can't happen both before the Tribulation and at the end. Therefore one of those positions is right and one of them is wrong.

It is correct to interpret that the Bible teaches that the rapture will happen before Jesus begins the last days punishments. Paul taught this in his treatment of the subject in 1 Thessalonians and 1 Corinthians 15:42-57, it's in Revelation, as well as being taught implicitly throughout other books of the Bible.

The event is supposed to be a hope to believers, and an encouragement, said Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:18. When you look around the dark world with its sin and evil, take hope in the knowledge that Jesus has a plan. His plan includes filling a quota for His Church (Romans 11:25). When that occurs, He will remove His Bride from the wrath, because we are not appointed to it. (Revelation 3:10). We will appear before His Bema seat to receive rewards for our service to Him while we were on earth, (2 Corinthians 5:10), and then enjoy the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:7–10). Meanwhile on earth, the Tribulation will have begun.

You will hear these things mentioned in the 19-minute video below. Enjoy! Be encouraged!





11 Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation rapture

Reasons for a Pre-Tribulation rapture


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

The Campaign for Joy

Joy is apparently the new trend in advertising buzzwords. It's everywhere. This product will bring you joy. That product will make you happy on your search for joy. This campaign promises ease on the road to joy. That item is joy. Et cetera.

Johnnie Walker Whisky

The Johnnie Walker Scotch Whisky people did a little something different that the other companies are envious of and are now copying. They hired a psychologist to give their ad executives insight into what makes people tick, so as to better point their products to the lack in their lives. Here is just one headline touting the new trend:
'Joy' Marketing Is Hot Thanks to Psychologists
Reddi-wip Is the Latest Brand Tapping a Psychologist for Campaign Insights
Well, 93% of Americans want to find more ways to experience joy, and 83% would like to experience small amounts of joy daily vs. larger, occasional doses.
What the psychologists discovered is that people want to find joy. However, joy as an end in itself is not the main goal. The venerable liquor company now "aims to promote the idea that finding joy is part of the recipe for success." The psychologists found out that having money doesn't necessarily make you happy. Possessing the largest house isn't necessarily joy-inducing. Getting the promotion in your career won't absolutely bring contentment. Those things are part of the recipe for success, and the recipe's biggest ingredient is joy. If you have joy, the other things are just so much sweeter and your chances for success in life increase. Joy becomes a means to an end.

It's a new take on the old problem: what makes a person lastingly happy? And from what source does this joy come? I'm sure it is not from Scotch Whisky. King Solomon tried that and poetically and poignantly wrote about drinking in Ecclesiastes 2:10-

I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life.

His conclusion: finding cheer in wine is folly and vanity.


Reddi Whip

Reddi Whip Company immediately got on the Johnnie Walker bandwagon and their take on joy is that if you have joy, sharing it brings more joy. Their ad was to show a winning Little League team sharing their winning joy with the losing team by smearing them all, and some food, with the whipped product in a massive food fight on the field.


Solomon said that apart from God who can have joy in their food? (Ecclesiastes 2:25)

Cadbury Chocolates


I said at the opening that joy is the new trendy buzzword but as Solomon said, there is nothing new under the sun.  Ten years ago, Cadbury Chocolates kicked off a content-led campaign including the titles of "Gorilla", "Eyebrows" and "Trucks".
The new direction moved CDM from being a manufacturer of chocolate to a producer of joy. It also created a debate around whether creating "joyful" content rather than "persuasive" advertising featuring chocolate actually works or not.  "Eating Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate mirrors the same physical and emotional experience of pure joy." (Source)
Did it work? Did creating joyful content incite people to buy the chocolates as a joy-experience rather than simply buy an item to eat? Yes, their payback was 171% higher.

We know that Solomon said that all is vanity, striving after wind. We usually look at the word vanity but today let's look after striving.

Striving in this context means longing or grasping after. Man in his endless enmity against God is always seeking to fill that "God-shaped hole in their heart". As GotQuestions explains,
The "God-shaped hole" concept states that every person has a void in his soul/spirit/life that can only be filled by God. The "God-shaped hole" is the innate longing of the human heart for something outside itself, something transcendent, something "other." Ecclesiastes 3:11 refers to God's placing of "eternity in man’s heart." God made humanity for His eternal purpose, and only God can fulfill our desire for eternity. All religion is based on the innate desire to "connect" with God. This desire can only be fulfilled by God, and therefore can be likened to a "God-shaped hole." The problem, though, is that humanity ignores this hole or attempts to fill it with things other than God.
Joy is serious advertising business. In addition to Whisky, Reddi Whip, and Cadbury Chocolates, we have people expressing that "the last time they felt real joy was when they were a kid", drinking Coke. A BMW is joy. Sherwin-Williams says the right color paint is joy. And so on. Hoy is important to people on earth. The restlessness in seeking it but never quite finding it is palpable and palpable.

Whisky, chocolate, desserts, toppings, money, career, toil, friends, sensual pleasures, all are vanity, said the preacher in Ecclesiastes.

There is a difference between possessing joy and experiencing its effects. One is permanent, the other is temporary. You feel joy in buying and driving your new car for the first time. In sharing the news you've been promoted. Winning the lottery and having more money. These things bring "an experience" of joy, but its effects wear off.

When our joy rests on an experience, it dissipates. Joy isn't lasting when it's attached to things that pass away. When we strive after things that break down, (cars), that disappear, (money), that don't last (food...careers) the joy experience is seen to be what it is, wind.

Where is joy, then?

There is nothing new under the sun - except Jesus. His mercies are new every morning. The only true joy there is exists in Christ.

Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:8-9).

The verse is telling us that "The Christian's joy is bound up with love to Jesus: its ground is faith; it is not therefore either self-seeking or self-sufficient" [Steiger]. The joy we possess is bound up in glory. It is an eternal, lasting, glory-joy that is inexpressible because its source is from God.

The outcome of our faith is Jesus Himself. Knowing Him is joy.




Tuesday, August 1, 2017

A Quiet Life

I have another blog called The Quiet Life. It is named after the verse from 1 Thessalonians 4:10-12,

But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.

Growing up, there was a set of unsaved women friends of my father's who were loud. They'd drink a lot and then they got even louder. My father called them the Decibelles. Clever name, and apt.

I like quietude. I don't like loud people, raucous laughter, a hectic home, or bells, horns, or traffic. (Jake brakes, ugh). I know, I'm picky, and sometimes unrealistic about how quiet I want things. But the Thessalonians verse is still important to me.

However, I learned that the verse doesn't mean simply quiet in terms of decibels. Volume is not in view here.

In Walvoord's Commentary on Thessalonians we learn that a quiet life means in terms of an inner restfulness.
First, his readers should lead a restful life. The word translated quiet (hēsychazein) means quiet in the sense of restfulness (cf. Acts 22:2; 2 Thes. 3:12; 1 Tim. 2:2, 11), rather than quiet as opposed to talkativeness (sigaō; cf. Acts 21:40; 1 Cor. 14:34). The former means "undisturbed, settled, not noisy," while the latter means "silent." Paul was telling the Thessalonians to be less frantic, not less exuberant. 
A person who is constantly on the move is frequently a bother to other people as well as somewhat distracted from his own walk with God. The latter can lead to the former. But a Christian who strives to be at peace with himself and God will be a source of peace to his brethren. Such quietude constitutes a practical demonstration of love for others.
Constable, T. L. (1985). 1 Thessalonians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures.

Have you ever noticed what Walvoord mentions? A person on the move all the time is a bother to others? I have noticed that. There are people who are like a bird, flitting here and there, and never landing anywhere. I want to be a source of peace to others. I want to exude a quiet confidence that comes from the source of peace in my heart. We know that the peace Jesus brings is a rest from the long ar we had against Him as sinners. Now saved and forgiven, we no longer have enmity with God, but peace.

As John MacArthur preached on this 1 Thessalonians verse,
I mean, we live in an agitated, upset, disoriented, messed-up world so why would agitated, upset, disoriented Christians have anything to offer it? But Christians who are characterized by love, who lead quiet, peaceful, tranquil lives, who mind their own business with great care, and who faithfully discharge their duties as they were, are going to show a lifestyle to the world that may make Christianity attractive. Isn't that interesting? 
Yes, that is very interesting. Are you a source of clamor to others? Or a source of peace? Something to think about.



Monday, July 31, 2017

Old Testament Prophets: Resources for you!


The OT is full of marvelous poetry, wisdom, history, narrative accounts, and of course, prophecy, like the prophecy above from Isaiah. As we know from the Bible, all scripture is profitable for correction, education and reproof. But sometimes the prophecies, which are embedded within ancient history, and sometimes use highly figurative or symbolic language, can be a challenge to read, understand and interpret.

I'd like to first encourage you all by saying that we have THE interpreter available to us in the Person of the Holy Spirit. If you pray and ask for wisdom when reading the scriptures, it will be added to you without reproach. (James 1:5).

The prophetic books can be a challenge though, and there is no problem whatsoever in consulting commentaries, historical books, or sermons from the greats that came before us. The Holy Spirit raised them up to inspire their generation and the generations after, namely, us. So don't feel inhibited if after reading some passages that challenge you, and after prayer and your own study, in seeking good resources. To that end, here are a few suggestions if you are feeling intimidated by some of the less well-known prophetic OT books.

Pastor-Teacher Mark McAndrew is pastor of North Avenue Church, Athens GA. He is my pastor and this is my church. Mark is uniquely gifted by the Holy Spirit, especially for someone so young, to possess deep insights of the entire Bible. He teaches Bible to High School students at a Christian Academy as well as a Bible class in the public school system (after hours and off campus). He also substitute preaches at a large, local Baptist Church. (He's busy!). He spent many months going through Genesis almost verse-by-verse and he recently began going through the minor prophet book of Micah. I can confidently recommend our pastor to you for Old Testament preaching as a solid resource (and also NT of course!)

Micah 1: Learning to Read the Old Testament Prophets
Micah 2-3: Learning to Read the Old Testament Prophets (Part 2)

Dr. James Montgomery Boice has preached through almost all of the Old Testament prophets (of course many other books too). His simple, clear preaching carries the listener along in ancient days when the prophets lived and preached. You can hear him here
The Bible Study Hour. Want to hear about Daniel? Habakkuk? Haggai? Other Minor or Major Prophets rarely preached on? All of his series are here. They are trustworthy.

Dr. John MacArthur is known for his Holy Spirit supported feat of preaching through every verse in the New Testament. It took him 42 consecutive years, beginning in 1969 and concluding with Mark in June 2011. Though he has not preached through OT books, he has substantively preached from many of them, notably Daniel and Isaiah. On the right is a list that is available of sermons from the Old Testament prophets (and other books) from John MacArthur. The sermons are transcribed, too, so you can follow along in print, print them out or download the sermon itself for later listening. The OT books covered by MacArthur are listed to the right. They are trustworthy materials, here.

Dr. S. Lewis Johnson is an excellent teacher of all texts and preached much of his career at Believer's Chapel in Dallas TX. His sermons were recorded and remain free and open to the public. His sermons were also transcribed, so you can follow along or print them out if you desire. Many of the OT prophets are exposited through his calm and reassuring teachings, here.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones preached 133 sermons from the Old Testament thorough his fruitful career, many of those from the prophets. The list of MLJ's Old Testament sermons is to the left. They can be found here. You can also search for his sermons by book.






Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world. His ministry is called Truth for Life, and his simple, clear teaching is always a joy to listen to. The British accent doesn't hurt, either ;) He can be heard here, and in addition to many of the prophetic books, Pastor Begg also has preached from Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Lamentations, books that also do not get a lot of love or attention. His OT list on on the right.

So I hope that helps for a list of credible sermons from the OT books, the prophetic books particularly. They can be challenging, but they are so worthwhile. As Charles Haddon Spurgeon said in his sermon 'Christ in the Old Testament, "The Old Testament was Christ's Bible, and it is a Bible full of Christ." 

Enough said!




Sunday, July 30, 2017

No matter the darkness, Jesus and His Light is with you

By Chris Powers at Full of Eyes, making free visual resources for the Global church. More information about this ministry below
Psalm 13:1,5, "How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever?...But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation."
In the darkest night of the soul, our hearts cling to the steadfast love declared on Calvary, and so have invincible hope in future joy.


By Chris Powers at Full of Eyes (fullofeyes.com) and Youtube. About Full of Eyes:
Full of Eyes is a ministry that seeks to create Christ-exalting, Biblically-submitted, heart-haunting imagery about the glory of God in Christ. This looks like creating free animations, study guides, pictures, and tracts intended to serve the Global Church in its work of evangelism, discipleship, and missions.

Check him out at his website or support the art work on Patreon.


Friday, July 28, 2017

Oliver B. Greene on Pre-trib rapture (Reprise)

This essay first appeared on The End Time on July 10, 2014)

Oliver B. Greene published a wonderful verse-by-verse exposition of Daniel in 1964. I've enjoyed reading it, because the book of Daniel is so hard for me to interpret. I was struck by Mr Green's certainty and fervency regarding the pre-tribulation rapture.

A Pre-Trib rapture is biblically correct. The rapture itself has been in the bible all along, notwithstanding assertions that it was a made-up doctrine from the 1800s. And the rapture's timing happening prior to the Tribulation has always been biblically evident too. It was only lately that man began to shy away from the clear teaching of this and muddy the waters to the extent that people now are hesitant to be dogmatic about it- so much so that they think they are being pious to show uncertainty. Look at Mr Greene's statement on the subject (I kept his exact emphases):
The Great Tribulation has nothing to do with the church; the Church will not enter or go through any part of that terrible time. Any preacher or teacher who suggests that the bride of Christ will be subjected to any part of the reign of the Antichrist is definitely wrongly dividing the Word of Truth. God pity the preacher who will accuse Jesus of allowing the Antichrist to reign over His bride-and the Church IS the bride of Christ!

We have the blessed promise, "Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I will also keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth." (Revelation 3:10).

In the writings of Paul we are promised. "For God hath not appointed us to WRATH, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thess. 5:9). The Great Tribulation has to do with the nation of Israel, not with the Church.

If the Church were to enter or go through any part of the tribulation, believers would be commanded to watch for Antichrist, not for THE CHRIST. We would be commanded to watch for the Great Tribulation, not to wait for God's Son from heaven. (1 Thessalonians 1:10).


Kay Cude poetry: The Wondrous Draw

Kay Cude poetry, Used with permission. Click to enlarge. It gets really big.