Friday, June 30, 2017

No such thing as a carnal Christian

What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4:9).
Paul balances four activities: "learned and received" and "heard and seen." It is one thing to learn a truth, but quite another to receive it inwardly and make it a part of our inner man (see 1 Thes. 2:13). Facts in the head are not enough; we must also have truths in the heart. In Paul's ministry, he not only taught the Word but also lived it so that his listeners could see the truth in his life. Paul’s experience ought to be our experience. We must learn the Word, receive it, hear it, and do it. "But be ye doers of the Word, and not hearers only" (James 1:22).
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 96). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

The demons had learned, but they have not received. The difference between intellectual and saving faith is the evidence. A lived lived in obedience to God is evidence of a regenerated and converted heart.

Therefore, there is no such thing as "a carnal Christian."

Has the Gospel gone from your head and saturated your heart, then radiated from you in glorious acts in Christ?

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Further reading

What is a Carnal Christian?

Ligonier: The Carnal Christian

GTY: 2-min video, Carnal Christians

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What lurks within...

We read in Job that-

His sons used to go and hold a feast in the house of each one on his day, and they would send and invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5And when the days of the feast had run their course, Job would send and consecrate them, and he would rise early in the morning and offer burnt offerings according to the number of them all. For Job said, "It may be that my children have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts." Thus Job did continually. (Job 1:4-5).

What a sweet picture of Job, in these pre-Patriarchal times, performing his function as priest over his family. His ten children certainly had a father upright in integrity and faith in the one true God. Job was concerned not just with their behavior in terms of moral vs. sin, but their thought life. Have they cursed God in their hearts? Are they holding on to some sin for which they have not repented? Have they cursed God inwardly? Job continuously sacrificed to God as a cover for them.

As we know from so many biblical examples, people can appear as moral but inside, in their mind or heart, they can be holding on to many sins. The Rich Young Ruler claimed to have obeyed the commandments, yet he was revealed to be holding on to greed and materialism. The Pharisees tried to appear holy on the outside, but inside they were raging hypocrites, uncaring for widows and sinners and their fellow man in general!

The lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life are hidden inside a person's mind and heart. The bottom line is, people are good actors. There are some we will never know if they are truly saved or not, until the Day. (Matthew 7:21-23).

We can surmise that perhaps Job's ten children were indeed faithful to Yahweh. They loved each other, didn't seem to have in-fighting, liked to spend time with each other. They lived near by enough to partake of family doings on a regular basis. No prodigals, in other words.

We know Job was a righteous man. Ezekiel 14:14 declares Job one of three most righteous men (along with Daniel and Noah).

It's Mrs Job that was a problem.

Job spent time covering his children's sins with daily sacrifices...but what of Mrs Job? When the pressure became unbearable and the grief too deep, she showed her true colors. Rather than a gentle help-meet who encourages and supports her husband, she suggested to Job that he curse God and then die (by his own hand).

An excellent wife, who can find? (Proverbs 31:10). As Matthew Henry says of an excellent wife,
She can be trusted, and he will leave such a wife to manage for him. He is happy in her. And she makes it her constant business to do him good. ... Above all, she fears the Lord.
Inward sin will not reveal itself until or unless there is pressure. Whether it is the pressure of too much unrepentant sin, or the pressure of circumstances, the sin will eventually be revealed. Mrs Job, and indeed Mrs Lot too, showed that despite living with biblically-declared righteous men, they had sin inside lurking within them. Their disdain for the Holy One, Yahweh was fatally revealed for Mrs Lot when she turned to look back at her life in Sodom, and in Mrs Job when her excellent husband needed her most.

What lurks within is ugly. We should take care of sin daily, by picking up our cross, slaying our sin, and repenting. (Matthew 6:12, 2 Corinthians 7:10).

Don't be a Mrs Job or a Mrs Lot. Deal with what lurks within. Your husband and children need you.


Illustration by William Blake

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Wednesday Word: Three thoughts and a video


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Persisting in Prayer

Are you praying for the lost? Do you have a burden for the lost? Do you live your life as a witness, a poem, a hymn, to the strength and power of the grace of Jesus? No? Now is the time to start. If you are, thank you. May you not dwell in a spirit of fear but of confidence, sure of His promises and the glories to come. For as His witnesses when we see Him smite the armies at Armageddon with a single word, (Revelation 19:14) and the blood floods to valley 180 miles long, to heights of the horses' bridles, you will be glad that you spent all the time you could in worship of Mighty Jesus. Meek servant in first Incarnation, Mighty Warrior of Enemies in His second Coming, this rapidly dwindling time we use for His purposes, one of which is persisting in prayer. We were put here for just such a time as this. I hope we pray with an urgency for the lost like no other time in our lives.

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Pondering Prophecy

Author Ayn Rand said in her famous book, Atlas Shrugged, in 'The Money Speech',
When you see that trading is done, not by consent, but by compulsion - when you see that in order to produce, you need to obtain permission from men who produce nothing - when you see money flowing to those who deal, not in goods, but in favors - when you see that men get richer by graft and pull than by work, and your laws don't protect you against them, but protect them against you - when you see corruption being rewarded and honesty becoming self-sacrifice - you may know that your society is doomed.
Jesus and the Bible writers said quite a bit about money. We know the famous line, that love of money is the root of all evil. (1 Timothy 6:10). We know we cannot serve Jesus and money (Matthew 6:24). This page lists many other verses about money.

Money is the invisible infrastructure to any culture. It helps define who we are as a society. Where the money goes and what we do with it brings light to our morals. During the Tribulation, which Jesus states would be the worst time on earth that ever was or will be, (Matthew 24:21), the antichrist will control the global economy by gaining control of the money. He converts the financial system into a one currency system and unless one chooses to participate in it (by taking his Mark, Revelation 13:16-17), one cannot buy nor sell. In other words, those who opt out will starve. It is a time where God will be allowing sin to come nearly to the full. Money figures prominently in that mixture of rampant sin and corruption and oppression.

What Rand described, though likely she did not know it and was perhaps thinking of communism, is a picture of what is to come in the Tribulation with how the world handles money.

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Common Grace

The Amos scripture below is representative of the character and nature of God, who wants His children to turn to Him. In the verse's case, it was speaking directly about Israel. However in concept it's the same for any nation, like, America. The US has for too long refused to return to Him, and may be suffering the consequences of that decision, in many ways, one of them being as Amos describes, a wet harvest in one area and drought in another.

Rain is a common grace, not thought of while it's there, thought of quite a bit when there isn't any, or when there is too much. Here is what Amos prophesied to Israel of God's activity-
Amos 4:7-9 And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered. So two or three cities wandered unto one city, to drink water; but they were not satisfied: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD. I have smitten you with blasting and mildew: when your gardens and your vineyards and your fig trees and your olive trees increased, the palmerworm devoured them: yet have ye not returned unto me, saith the LORD.
As Roy Gingrich says in his Amos outline, in this reproof of Israel, "note that God times and directs the rain." How comforting to know that everything has a purpose, and that God is sovereign, even in reproof.

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The Story of Flowers

Speaking of common grace, let's enjoy flowers for a moment. I love botanical illustrations, those 19th century drawings of flowers and fruits. When I bought a new-to-me couch, I bought a new piece of art to go over it.


Here is a 3-minute animation in botanical illustration style that extols flowers, the pollination process, and perennial rebirth of our flora. It's a common grace, and we should praise the Lord for it.

Here is the animator's blurb:
Many different flowers are growing beautifully and strongly in this world. Taking their roots in the earth, sprouting, blooming, pollination by birds and insects, living on in spite of rain, wind and storms. They pass on the baton of life, rebirth and decay. Everything is so in a continuous, endless cycle. This is the story and message of this animation.



Have a wonderful rest of the week everyone!



Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Greatest Revival That Ever Will Be?

Yesterday I looked at what true revival looks like. True revivals are far from the superficially but temporarily euphoric "revivals" we have sadly become used to. Jonathan Edwards wrote about the massive and immediate deep changes that occurred during the Great Awakening. In reading his "A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God in the Conversion of Many Hundred Souls in Northampton," written in 1737, we learned that new converts and those who were revived all had one major thing in common: an awareness of their sin and a growing hatred for it. The outgrowth of this fact is that people became more temperate, taverns emptied while the pastor's house filled. Neighbors became loving helpers of one another, and left off their previous bitter gossip, and so on. The change was overnight, that was one of the "surprising" things Edwards remarked upon.

So the hallmarks of a true revival include awareness of sin, understanding of the wrath of God for it, and a relief and love of the grace that has been bestowed in spite of it.

Those were also the hallmark of another major revival in the Bible, though not the one I'll focus on mainly today. In an essay I wrote recently, "What was the greatest revival ever?" the Ninevites responded to God's message through Jonah by repenting in dust and ashes. Through Jonah, God had foretold coming judgment, and the worst people on the planet at that time people believed him.

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

As a revival continues, the people remain in Christ, they continue in good works (the evidence of saving faith), and they give glory to God in all they do and say.

If Nineveh was the greatest revival that ever was, what is the greatest revival there ever will be?

The Great Tribulation.

There are prophecies remaining to be fulfilled. Most of them were fulfilled in Christ, praise God. The prophecies remaining are:

The rapture of the Church,1 Corinthians 15:51-53, (the church members, living and dead caught away to heaven to be enclosed and protected from the judgment of the Tribulation.)

The Tribulation, the promised wrath and judgment upon the world for sin. Daniel 9:24-27 has the reasons and the outline of what is to happen. So does Matthew 24 and Revelation 6. Many prophecies are to be fulfilled during this 7 year period. The antichrist will come, who will be a real man, the false prophet, the great apostasy, an uncreation of the earth, the Two Prophets (likely Elijah and Enoch), the 144,000, Mark of the Beast, Armageddon, and so on, all occur during this time.

The judgment seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10). This occurs in heaven and it involves assessing believers in their faithfulness in service to Christ, not a judgment for sin.

Return of Jesus: AKA The second Coming. At the close of the Tribulation, Jesus returns in power and glory and smites the armies at Armageddon. This concludes the Church Age, or the Last Times/End Times.

The judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31–46) where Jesus judges the nations for how they treated Israel and also judges who is to enter the Millennial Kingdom, the 1000 year reign of Christ on earth. Since believers and non-believers alike will be alive at the end of the Tribulation, Jesus will sift one from the other, and cast non-believers into hell and believers will be granted entry into the 1000 year Kingdom.

Millennial Kingdom: Jesus is alive and reigning over the world and Israel is living within all the promises made to that nation of people, their lands, their King and their identity all intact and thriving. More here.

The Eternal State: After the Millennial Age,  eternity begins. It is prophesied that the earth will melt in a fervent heat and be remade. (2 Peter 3:10). All prophecies will have been fulfilled. After that, there is nothing in the Bible that tells us what we will be doing or what the next Age will be like.

Back to the greatest revival that ever will be.

People think that when the rapture happens, there will no longer be any chance for people to be saved. That there will not be salvation during the Tribulation. The opposite is true. The greatest revival ever will occur. It will be a time of evangelism unparalleled in our human history.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" (Revelation 7:9).

But are these people from the Tribulation? How do we know they aren't just believers from the Church Age?

A little further along in Revelation that question is answered for us:

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?" 14I said to him, "Sir, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Revelation 7:13-14)

And this:

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. (Revelation 6:9)

God is always working to bring people to His Son. At no time does the Spirit cease drawing souls to glory. During the Tribulation, though it will literally be hell on earth, a time that will be shocking and upsetting in the extreme (Luke 21:26, Matthew 24:22), people will be saved. They will be truly saved, not false converts. We know that they'll be true, because though they know they will die, they praise the Lamb and remain true to His glory even unto martyrdom. (John 15:13).

Psalm 145:3, Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.


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Further Reading:

The Last Great Awakening

Will there be a second chance for salvation after the Rapture?

Will the Church go through The Tribulation?


Prata's Place Graceful Garlands will be weekly



A few weeks ago, I started a new project called Prata's Place: Graceful Garlands. It was to test my ability to write devotionals, to write short, and to try and reach a different audience with a graphic instead of text, i.e Instagram. I also wanted to try something spiritual and not exactly scriptural, again for the purpose of reaching a different audience.

I love doing these and I'll continue, but not every day. They take an incredibly long time to generate. I know that when school starts again I won't have the time to make one daily, so I'll post these once per week on Saturdays. Look for them then! Thanks so much for your positive response & encouragement!!

Monday, June 26, 2017

What does a true revival look like? Part 1

We all want revival. We all want the Spirit of God to enter each one of us and make us obviously set apart into a royal priesthood, doing good and devoting ourselves to prayer, hearing of the word, and breaking bread in loving fellowship. We long for our church and life to mirror the earliest days of the first century church of Acts.

However when churches schedule a special Revival speaker, or goes to a Revival conference, and we emerge smiling for a few days but then the waves of euphoria fade, we call that revival. It's what we've become used to as our experience of "revival."

Yesterday our pastor read from a biography of Jonathan Edwards, the 18th century theologian and pastor who is 'credited' with sparking the Great Awakening in America with his sermon "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God."

The extended quote Pastor Mark read was about what life was like in their village while the Awakening (revival) was going on.

Here is Jonathan Edwards from his book, A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God on what happens in a heart that is falsely revived, IF they are even lucky enough to hear a preacher who preaches sin in the first place, an increasingly rare event nowadays:
Very often, under first awakenings, when they are brought to reflect on the sin of their past lives, and have something of a terrifying sense of God's anger, they set themselves to walk more strictly, and confess their sins, and perform many religious duties, with a secret hope of appeasing God's anger, and making up for the sins they have committed. And oftentimes, at first setting out, their affections are so moved, that they are full of tears, in their confessions and prayers; which they are ready to make very much of, as though they were some atonement, and had power to move correspondent affections in God too. 
Hence they are for a while big with expectation of what God will do for them; and conceive they grow better apace, and shall soon be thoroughly converted. But these affections are but short-lived; they quickly find that they fail, and then they think themselves to be grown worse again. They do not find such a prospect of being soon converted, as they thought: instead of being nearer, they seem to be further off; their hearts they think are grown harder, and by this means their fears of perishing greatly increase. But though they are disappointed, they renew their attempts again and again; and still as their attempts are multiplied, so are their disappointments.
When the Spirit of God moves, it is obvious what is happening. The community changes immediately. Read what Edwards wrote about life in a truly revived community:
These awakenings when they have first seized on persons, have had two effects; one was, that they have brought them immediately to quit their sinful practices; and the looser sort have been brought to forsake and dread their former vices and extravagances. When once the Spirit of God began to be so wonderfully poured out in a general way through the town, people had soon done with their old quarrels, backbitings, and intermeddling with other men's matters. The tavern was soon left empty, and persons kept very much at home; none went abroad unless on necessary business, or on some religious account, and every day seemed in many respects like a Sabbath-day. 
The other effect was, that it put them on earnest application to the means of salvation, reading, prayer, meditation, the ordinances of God's house, and private conference; their cry was, What shall we do to be saved? The place of resort was now altered, it was no longer the tavern, but the minister's house that was thronged far more than ever the tavern had been wont to be.
That is just beautiful. But why wouldn't it be? The Holy Spirit of God is beautiful. They are simply reflecting Him in a way we are not used to seeing en masse.

The key to revival is awareness of one's sin and God's wrath against it. People who have become aware of their sin will naturally do the things Edwards described. Far from being a dolorous position, people who know their sin are joyful, because now they know and understand grace. See more Edwards' Faithful Narrative-
The unparalleled joy that many of them speak of, is what they find when they are lowest in the dust, emptied most of themselves, and as it were annihilating themselves before God; when they are nothing, and God is all; seeing their own unworthiness, depending not at all on themselves, but alone on Christ, and ascribing all glory to God. Then their souls are most in the enjoyment of satisfying rest; excepting that, at such times, they apprehend themselves to be not sufficiently self-abased; for then above all times do they long to be lower. 
Some speak much of the exquisite sweetness, and rest of soul, that is to be found in the exercise of resignation to God, and humble submission to His will. Many express earnest longings of soul to praise God; but at the same time complain that they cannot praise Him as they would, and they want to have others help them in praising Him. They want to have every one praise God, and are ready to call upon every thing to praise Him. They express a longing desire to live to God's glory, and to do something to His honor; but at the same time complain of their insufficiency and barrenness; that they are poor and impotent creatures, can do nothing of themselves, and are utterly insufficient to glorify their Creator and Redeemer.
A revived community will reflect God's heart, which is contained in His Son, who is the Word. (John 1:1-5). People's passion will be to seek God more, through His word. (Hebrews 1:1-2). Edwards sees a love for His word come alive in the people who have been truly revived:

While God was so remarkably present amongst us by His Spirit, there was no book so delightful as the Bible; especially the Book of Psalms, the Prophecy of Isaiah, and the New Testament. Some, by reason of their love to God's word, at times have been wonderfully delighted and affected at the sight of a Bible; and then, also, there was no time so prized as the Lord's day, and no place in this world so desired as God's house. Our converts then remarkably appeared united in dear affection to one another, and many have expressed much of that spirit of love which they felt toward all mankind; and particularly to those who had been least friendly to them. Never, I believe, was so much done in confessing injuries, and making up differences, as the last year. Persons, after their own conversion, have commonly expressed an exceeding great desire for the conversion of others. Some have thought that they should be willing to die for the conversion of any soul, though of one of the meanest of their fellow-creatures, or of their worst enemies; and many have, indeed, been in great distress with desires and longings for it. This work of God had also a good effect to unite the people's affections much to their minister.
The dominant thread in Edwards' recounting of the aftermath of the Revival, is self-hate. It's true. People all around had come to recognize their own depravity, and thus in contrast, God's beauty. This was what the Awakening helped them see, understand, utter, live. The revival was thrust forward on waves of self-hate.

Martin Luther wrote, as summarized by John MacArthur,
Martin Luther, as you know, launched the Protestant Reformation. He was a Roman Catholic priest who came to understand the truth of salvation by grace through faith alone in Christ alone, apart from works, and ceremonies, and all the rest; and so he determined that he would confront the Roman Catholic system, the great monolithic system of error and deception, and he selected 95 different statements, 95 different protests - that’s why we’re called "Protestants" - 95 different assertions that ran contrary to Catholicism. He wrote them down and he nailed them on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg.
The fourth of his protests, the fourth of his 95 assertions was that a penitent heart, a heart that comes to God and receives salvation is characterized by - here’s his term, "self hate." Self hate. Quoting from Luther’s fourth statement. "And so penance remains while self hate remains." He said that self hate was the true interior penitence. "This," said Luther, "is essential to the gospel."
This is why revivals of today fail. The audience does not hear a message of self-hate, they hear messages of self-love. Self-love will never, ever revive a heart or convict one of sin.

Special speakers are hired to come to our churches for a week, or people clamber aboard buses to be shuttled to arenas where special speakers await...who give the message that we are worth something to God, we are good, we are just waiting to be whatever we can be. Our dreams can ambitions can be fulfilled. We can have all our rights, privileges, respect, honor, and affirmation, plus Jesus. In today's revivals, Jesus is the add-on, nestled alongside to a person who is usually pretty good but just needs an extra boost. In Edwards' Awakening, first the person understands his abasement, comes to see his depravity through Jesus' eyes, and loathes it. Then and only then, can he see Jesus as He is, glorified, holy, and beautiful.

Tomorrow, we'll look at a revival in the Bible that is tremendous in its power and effect.



Sunday, June 25, 2017

Poetry by Kay Cude: In Trials We Are Not Alone

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



Artist's Statement:

Sometimes the trials we go through seem never-ending! It often appears that they are gathered together and perched atop a high place just waiting for an "exacting" moment in which to unleash themselves. Even worse, they seem to multiply in force, if not line up one-after-another like a hoard of paid hooligans determined to batter us down into hopeless and "fruitless" Christians--or worse as assassins, prepared to annihilate us completely!

As they strengthen the tactics of those "assaults," we can be assured that God remains in control, from the start of the trial to the very end. He will not forsake us--He will grow us!! He provides the "weapons" we need to endure and overcome, as well as prepares us by the renewing of our minds through His Word! The battles are His. Trusting and relying on Him enables us to learn, endure and overcome! Trusting and relying on our "flesh" enables disastrous consequences.

When at our lowest point, that point of exhaustive weakness where we become more vulnerable to fleshly speculation, we must not permit ourselves to wonder if we are alone. We are not!! And we know this!! We will remember that our weakness is exactly where it must be; for in that weakness, our strength is Christ! Through difficulties, trials or persecution, God is present and He is working. He never abandons His beloved redeemed--He teaches and strengthens us! We must allow Him to mature us and stop employing our "fleshly" reasoning and efforts!

We will remember Paul's example in 2 Corinthians 12:9-11: 9 "And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for (A)power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather (B)boast [a]about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore (C)I am well content with weaknesses, with [b]insults, with (D)distresses, with (E)persecutions, with (F)difficulties, (G)for Christ’s sake; for (H)when I am weak, then I am strong."

We will remember that it is God who sovereignly allows our tempering as fine gold through the many refining fires of trials. Therefore, let us be refined into the golden metal of God's mettle. And in our trials display the strength of character with Spirited determination that marks the mental and emotional character unique to those matured through the purposeful workings of the Holy Spirit of God in us!

YES AND AMEN!! GOD's eternal purpose for us IN CHRIST will not be thwarted! What joyful hope and assurance we have obtained!

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Exposing or ignoring the ignominious blemish in our husbands

Our pastor is going through Jonah. It's a great series. Naturally I got interested in reading Moby Dick, the Great American Novel, by Herman Melville.

I'm to the part in Moby Dick where narrator Ishmael is signed and shipped aboard the Pequod. They are about to set off from Nantucket in search of whales for their oil, which at the time, lit the world.

The character of Ishmael, who is 'narrating' this whale story, waxed philosophical about a particular quality in chief mate Starbuck, namely, his courage. Ishmael spent a good while extolling it, called practical, since mere man will soon face leviathan in his own element, the rolling deeps of the great cetacean.

At this point in his introductions, Ishmael said of Starbuck,
But were the coming narrative to reveal in any instance, the complete abasement of poor Starbuck’s fortitude, scarce might I have the heart to write it; for it is a thing most sorrowful, nay shocking, to expose the fall of valour in the soul. Men may seem detestable as joint stock-companies and nations; knaves, fools, and murderers there may be; men may have mean and meagre faces; but man, in the ideal, is so noble and so sparkling, such a grand and glowing creature, that over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes. That immaculate manliness we feel within ourselves, so far within us, that it remains intact though all the outer character seem gone; bleeds with keenest anguish at the undraped spectacle of a valor-ruined man.
The paragraph reminded me of the verse from 1 Peter:

Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. (1 Peter 4:8).

It's wedding season. Marriages are vowed before God and two become one. Wives, the Bible says, love your husband and submit to him. (Ephesians 5:22, Titus 2:4). Though Christians are saved and our souls have been regenerated, your man will still sin. When they do, -
that over any ignominious blemish in him all his fellows should run to throw their costliest robes
Wives, are we hesitant to expose the ignominious blemish? Do we rush to our brothers, husbands, fathers, to cover it with our costliest robes? Or do we grumble about it on Facebook? Complain to our friends? Manage to get in a snark through some backhanded compliment? "After 20 years, the hubs finally bought me some roses! Way to go hon!"

The undraped spectacle of a valor-ruined man is felt so keenly by the husband himself, yet the disagreeable wife sets up a neon arrow pointing to it. The agreeable wife rushes to cover with her costliest robe.

Love covers a multitude of sins. As far as possible, wives, overlook insults and injuries, and be ready to forgive him. It's hard. Injustices and insults pile up and our natural flesh will want to rebel. (Genesis 3:16). Resist this.


It is easy to get married. It is hard to make a marriage. One difference you can make, wives, is determining which path you take on behalf of your husband: rush to expose? Or rush to cover?

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins. (Proverbs 10:12, KJV) - Barnes Notes says: First hides, does not expose, and then forgives and forgets all sins.


Women, what say you? Can you do it?

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Nautical Trivia

Trivia #1: In old mariner lingo an unlucky sailor is called "a Jonah".

Trivia #2: Wikipedia says the 'coffee chain Starbucks was named after Starbuck, not due to any affinity for coffee, but because the name "Pequod" was first rejected by one of the co-founders'.

Trivia #3: Starbuck was an important name in whaling being a prominent whaling family from Nantucket. Starbuck Island in the South Pacific is named for this family.

Trivia #4: from American Whaling:
The stench of processing whales was so strong a whale ship could be smelled over the horizon before it could be seen. Crewmen on American whaleships came from all over the globe. Their work was hard, dirty, smelly, dangerous, lonely, and poorly paid, but some still liked it better than their prospects ashore.


Friday, June 23, 2017

All Beth Moore critiques here in one place (Short version)

I have split the list of Beth Moore critiques into two different essays. There is a long version which includes a lengthy discernment lesson on top before you get to the critiques. Then there's this shorter version which is just the list.

Below is a list of everything I have written about Moore, and below that, a list of women-written critiques, and below that, a list of man-written critiques.

Below that, some general essays about how to spot a false teacher or a heretic.

I also went through and personally checked and weeded out the dead links. Please let me know if you come across a dead one. Blogs go dead fast. I added several critiques written in 2017.

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Beth Moore Critiques


Critiques by Elizabeth Prata, writer of this blog:

Joyce Meyer's statement saying "I am not a sinner" aside, the more subtle a false teacher, the less likely it will be that one can find just one 'smoking gun' to point to in proving falsity. Therefore, this link is as close as it gets to just one smoking gun.
Examining Beth Moore's statement: the 'Bride is paralyzed by unbelief 


2016: Deconstructing Beth Moore's most popular story: The Hairbrush Story
In this piece I offer a link to a podcast by Chris Rosebrough, who deconstructs Moore's anecdote sentence by sentence, and in which I also offer a discernment lesson and my own insights regarding that story.

2016: Discernment Lesson: Comparing a Beth Moore & Martyn Lloyd Jones teaching on on the same verse
The title says it all. I listened to The Hairbrush Story as noted above, then in order to wash my brain and heart of the falseness of that "lesson", the next day I turned to Martyn Lloyd Jones and as I listened to that eminent preacher's treatment of the verse, began noticing the two treatments of it (MLJ v. Beth Moore) were completely opposite. This essay contains a side-by side comparison of where and how.

2015: Beth Moore's Strangely Disappearing Tweet: A Discernment Lesson


I wrote this series in 2011 after having attended a two day Living Proof Conference.
Beth Moore: Reactions to Living Proof teaching
Reactions Part 1
Reactions Part 2
Reactions Part3a
Reaction Part3b
Reactions Part 4

Investigating Moore's teachings led me to research further. This series was the result:
Troubled by Beth Moore's teaching:
Beth Moore Part 1: Introduction, and Casualness
Beth Moore Part 2: Undignified Teaching
Beth Moore Part 3: Contemplative Prayer
Beth Moore Part 4: Legalism
Beth Moore Part 5: Personal Revelation
Beth Moore Part 6: Eisegesis, Pop Psychology, and Bad Bible Interpretations
Beth Moore Part 7: Conclusion

When I read that Beth Moore said she had received the book directly from God as if a force had taken control of her, it reminded me of previous research I'd done years ago into automatic writing. This series was the result.

Examples of Channeling Christians, like Beth Moore
Part 1: Introduction
Part 2: How Walsch, Young, and Moore channeled their books
Part 3: How Walsch, Young, & Moore channeled their books
Conclusion: Why Walsch, Young and Moore channeled their books

Beth Moore's role as a feminist and redefining biblical womanhood for the next generations (Rev 2:20 again)

Secret Christian feminists
How the Christian secret feminists are reforming the definition of biblical womanhood. Part 1 
How the Christian secret feminists are reforming the definition of biblical womanhood. Part 2
How the Christian secret feminists are reforming the definition of biblical womanhood. Part 3

Beth Moore led a "commissioning" for 11,000 women (and men) at Unwrap the Bible conference

Beth Moore defenders said I was being too picky in making charges against the way Moore teaches, fast-talking, casual speaking of God being one of them. But here is an essay showing that such casual speech is actually a breaking of the Third Commandment not to take His name in vain.
The Third Commandment: ways to take God's name in vain you might not have thought of

Taking Beth Moore to task for claiming to have been with Jesus in another dimension and taught new things
Beth Moore says God lifted her into another dimension & showed her the church through Jesus' eyes

2010: This critique of a 2010 clip from LifeToday TV show clearly demonstrates Moore's apostate status. In the clip, Moore describes repeatedly begging God for a manifestation and believing as a result, 'he' sent her a dream involving a dead person, after which Moore went on to personally interpret some future events based on the dream. This is a textbook definition of the abominable practice of necromancy, something God describes on a par with infant sacrifice.
Jude's dreamers and Beth Moore's necromancy

A discernment lesson on how Mrs Moore twists scripture and comparing her exposition to credible teachers' work
Discernment lesson: The Shack and Beth Moore's treatment of Paul. Part 2 

Really, if Revelation 2:20 doesn't speak of Beth Moore's type of prophesying as a Jezebel spirit, then I don't know what does.
Beth Moore: a type of false prophetess of the church at Thyatira? 

Examining how Luke 6 and the curse of popularity is one huge indicator of a false teacher
Discernment lesson: the curse of popularity, Beth Moore, and Billy Graham

Book Review: "Things Pondered," Beth Moore's story of adopting a boy and giving him back

Beth Moore's Heretic Hunting Article and its Fallout

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Further Reading, Critiques by Various Women:

Michelle Lesley: (Michelle Lesley Books), August 2014, Five Reasons It’s Time to Start Exercising "Moore" Discernment 

Erin Benziger (Do Not Be Surprised) March 2014, Beth Moore Prophesies a Coming 'Outpouring,' Warns of 'Scoffers'

Erin Benziger (Do Not Be Surprised) Jan. 2014 "Why Beth Moore and Not Me? The Danger of Claiming to Receive Direct Revelation"

1. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Beth Moore Simulcast Review Part One: General Observations, 2014

2. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Beth Moore Simulcast Review Part Two: Bible Interpretation Issues, 2014

3. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Beth Moore Simulcast Review Part Three: Personal Revelation 2014

1. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Evaluating Beth Moore’s Upcoming Live Simulcast, 2015 (How to pay attention to the red flags the Spirit raises in us, a good discernment lesson in prep for evaluating Moore's simulcast)

2. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, Class on Discernment: Living Proof Live Simulcast, 2015

3. Sharon Lareau of Chapter 3 Ministries, 2015 Living Proof Live Simulcast Review Part One

Pam Terrell: Breaking Up With Beth Moore

Book Review by Discerning Reader: Get out of That Pit (the reviewer does not recommend the book)

Sunny Shell: What Do Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore and Sarah Young Have In Common?

Adriane Heins, she is a Lutheran I believe. In this essay she also mentions Joyce Meyer. I appreciated this a lot: "Beth and Joyce want you to feel your theology; Christ assures you of it."
"Friends Don't let Friends Read Beth Moore"

Update: Ms Heins decided to password protect this wonderful essay. I'll keep the link here in case someday she brings her educational and grace-filled essay back to the public.

Update #2: I contacted Ms Heins and she offered the non-password protected version to link to with her permission. Thank you Ms Heins!

The Upward Call's Critique of Beth Moore's "The Patriarchs"

Beth Moore: “Biblicism, Spiritual Warfare, Mysticism and Pop Psychology”

Chapter by Chapter critique of Moore's book "So long, Insecurity"


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Further reading, Critiques By Men:

2017: Delivered By Grace (Josh Buice), Why Your Pastor should say "No More to Beth Moore"

2017: Pastor Gabe Hughes of Junction City 1st Baptist: Breaking Down Beth Moore's Comment at Passion 2017

Can you talk about the dangers of popular teachers who are not heretical but say that God talks to them? I am thinking specifically of Beth Moore. What are we to do with people who refuse to see the danger and insist such teachers are OK?

Believers must always listen carefully when any teacher or preacher speaks about the Bible and theology. They must share the nobility of the Berean saints whom Luke commended for double checking Paul’s teaching according to Scripture (cf. Acts 17:1–11). While Beth Moore teaches with accuracy on some points, she also holds positions and teaches doctrines that are both incorrect and dangerous.

Beth Moore promotes contemplative prayer, a mystical practice not found in Scripture which includes elements of eastern mysticism. She chooses not to draw firm doctrinal lines on her website while implying the Roman Catholic Church is a Christian denomination alongside the Methodist, Baptist, and other denominations. Beth also claims that she has received visions from God and sometimes receives revelation from Him in her heart. From these examples we must conclude that the lack of biblical and theological depth in Beth Moore’s teaching renders her a dubious and dangerous source of Bible teaching. 
From Rev. Matt Slick, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry: A critique of Beth Moore’s teaching here.

Rev. Chris Hull: Lutheran pastor on Beth Moore: "She's a wolf in sheep's clothing trying to destroy my flock" (transcript of linked podcast)

Beth Moore Confronts Young Pastor’s Wife for Criticizing Her Direct, Divine Revelation

Beth Moore's followers don't understand the Gospel, by Jeff Maples

From a man named Dale Wilson at the blog The King's Dale: Beth Moore - False Teacher

Pastor Mike Abendroth, 90-second video: Where is Beth Moore's Husband?
Pastor Mike Abendroth, sermon clip: Beth Moore-a or Sola Scriptura?
Pastor Mike Abendroth 22 minute radio show, answering emails about Beth Moore

Justin Peters: Spiritual Shipwreck of the Word Faith Movement (not solely devoted to critiquing Moore but she is part of the overall sermon lesson)

Chris Rosebrough: 90-min., Line-by-line audio critique of Moore's handling of a lesson on Hebrews 10:35-36, Beth Moore's Dangerous Bible Twisting

I do not agree with a lot of what Mr Wade Burleson has to say. But I include this link because by his own admission he is a fan of Moore and considers her an asset to the Body of Christ, and even he is scratching his head at how Moore treated James 4:10-11 in the study Mercy Triumphs. I especially appreciated his critique of Moore's penchant for making promises about God's intentions, as if she knows at any given moment what God will do in this or that situation, something I mentioned in the Commissioning essay above.
"God Will Kick Your Tail" - A Critique of Beth Moore's Teaching on James 4:10-11 from Mercy Triumphs



From Sharper Iron, it is a very good critique. Highly recommended. Beth Moore: Her John Piper Connection and Her Very Bad Doctrine

Strange Fire Q&A: Beth Moore
This short Q&A addresses Moore's claim of extra-biblical revelation

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Of Interest:
Grace To You sermon series:
How to Talk to a Heretic

Biblical stance on why Beth Moore has always been false (or any false teacher) and it didn't just come on suddenly


Why is Wonder Woman a better role model than Beth Moore?

Even though one is a supposed Christian and the other is a fictional comic strip character?

In seeking to answer that question, first, please forgive me for making a cultural comparison. I know the swells of film-going euphoria are riding high right now at the genial and solid presentation of female derring-do in the form of re-booted Wonder Woman, and apparently I can't resist.

Anyway the short answer is that Wonder Woman is capable, teachable, and single-mindedly focused on serving humanity and doing right. Beth Moore isn't.

Back in the day, I owned this book.
The long answer is, I grew up on the original 1975 Lynda Carter Wonder Woman. In an era of M*A*S*H, The Jeffersons, and All in the Family, it was refreshing to this teenager and her friends to be able to identify with a capable woman, unattached and unembedded in a family, out there and doing stuff. Mary Tyler Moore was the same. /cue throwing hat/. It was the era of feminism and bra burnings, after all.

That was the message we received back then. You girls can do stuff, you can be strong and feminine (blue skirt suits with bow at the neck notwithstanding), you can be accomplished, strong, and capable.

I'm not agreeing with feminism, I'm just relating the times and the cultural message I was bombarded with during my formative years.

Now it's 40 years later, I'm a late-middle aged woman, and I'm saved by the grace of God through faith. I follow Jesus and His statutes now, not the world's philosophies. I look forward to His kingdom. The world isn't something I identify with any more.

According to the Bible, I'm the daughter of the King. I'm capable of doing anything within His will because I have the Holy Spirit in me. My affections are for Jesus as Groom and His ways in His strength and power, which is infinite. I'm loved, affirmed, chosen, nurtured, protected, and guided. I have an eternal home, an important job on earth, a fulfilling future, and the most solid promise in the universe: He will keep us with Him forever. That is who I am as a woman. It is very positive.

According to Beth Moore and her spiritual daughters who teach like her, their incessant message is that we women don't need to be the emotional wrecks we are. We don't have to be the hand-wringing ninnies we are that need a ladder to get out of our pit. We can avoid being sunk by our funk and we don't have to keep dragging all that baggage. It sounds like a positive message, but in fact it's very negative.

As an aside, you might notice that after relentlessly reminding us women that we're emotional wrecks, Moore is here to provide the ladder, give us our affirmation, and help us live fully for our purpose. She has the key, and she provides the answers. In that way, she becomes our supposed savior. Have you noticed?

Anyway. I was reading a movie review Wonder Woman in The National Review,. The author of Run, Wonder Woman! The Feminists Are after You! was commenting on modern feminism. Far from the strident, aggressive, "I'm strong like a lion hear me roar" feminists I grew up hearing about 40 years ago, the philosophy has currently reduced itself to "today's weird brand of obsessive, woe-is-me 'feminism' " said the author.

This resonated.

Thanks to so many false but prominent female Bible teachers, don't we now have a brand of obsessive, woe-is-me Christian women? False Christianity mirrors the culture, because both are from satan.

The movie review author said,
Please, for everyone’s sake, avoid buying into the idea that women are fragile creatures who need 1,000 different obsessive gender-based affirmations just to make it through life.
This resonates again.

Today's feminist needs safe spaces to hide from the gender oppressive partiarchy. They need trigger warnings, AKA advance notice that something in a syllabus or lecture might trigger unhappy memories and hurt their feelings. They make strident demands so they can cower wimpily. They want no negative repercussions for their emotional hand-wringing. The 1960s-1970s feminist strode out to take over the world. Today's feminist retreats from the world because some words in a lecture hurt their feelings.

As the movie review author said, today's feminism is just "a giant, manufactured angst magnet!"

Isn't Beth Moore a giant, manufactured angst magnet? Aren't her studies aimed at making more giant, manufactured angst magnets? The comparison is immediately apparent. The National Review author continues:
About that, though: Even though I grew up before seeing the supposedly life-changing new Wonder Woman movie, I always believed I could pursue whatever career I wanted, as long as it wasn’t professional bowling. (Trust me. You do not want me on your bowling team.) I had both male and female role models as a child, and no one told me I had to see my exact facsimile in a job before I could pursue it. When I heard about the new Wonder Woman movie, I thought, "Hooray! It looks like a fun and well-executed summer blockbuster, rather than a giant, manufactured angst magnet!" This is because I'm a fairly normal and well-adjusted person who hasn't yet let modern feminism melt my brain.
As a Christian women who hasn't let feminism or its Christian-y counterpart, women's Bible studies melt my brain, let's take another look at Edith Bunker, Louise Jefferson, Margaret Houlihan...these 1970s TV show characters I was told not to model myself after. Is there anyone stronger than Ma Walton or Caroline Ingalls? Women who held their families together through extreme financial hardship, often during lengthy periods when the husband was off at a long-distance job?

Or Edith Bunker showing how to stay married to a difficult man? Or Margaret Houlihan, regular-army head nurse of the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital who was a leader of a large number of personnel, in war?

Or Louise Jefferson, a woman who raised her son and worked alongside her husband so hard that the two of them "made it", as black people penetrating the racial layer of the upper crust of NY City's East Side and settling into financial security and professional recognition?

None of those women needed a safe space. None of them were "in a pit" loaded down with "insecurity". They were too busy getting on with things.

I know these women on TV and movies are just fictional representations. But they're messages too, and our girls absorb them whether we want them to or not.

I'll repeat to us Christian women what the author of the Wonder Woman review had said in her essay, just to a different audience. "Please, Sisters, for everyone’s sake, avoid buying into the idea that women are fragile creatures who need 1,000 different obsessive gender-based affirmations just to make it through life."

Any woman who has been married for any length of time knows how hard it is. Any woman who has become a mother knows how hard it is. Anyone who has to keep a home and work outside the home knows how hard it is. Anyone who's single and struggling to make ends meet alone knows how hard it is. We don't need any version of Feminism to buck us up nor any wimpy women's Bible study to buck us up either.

Jesus is our All in All. He gives us the wisdom, strength, provision, and the everlasting Word to rely upon. We don't need the world's messages to lead us like wounded deer from safe spaces to peer at the big bad world through our insecurities and baggage. I'm not in a pit, Jesus already went to the abyss. I'm not weighed down by baggage, He already carried our sins to the cross and threw them as far as the east is from the west.

I'm tired of the feminist message, be it the 1970s version or today's. I'm also tired of these 'Bible' teachers perpetuating the lies that mirror the feminists'. Sisters, all we need to do is focus on Jesus of the Word, and the rest falls into place. Whether you're taking a Bible study or whether you're simply reading the Bible, the simple truth is that we are who we are: sinners, saved by grace and forever cherished with the power to slay sin, resist the devil, and serve the Most high with honor and dignity. That's a Wonder Woman

The takeaways:

1. The false teachers will always mirror the world, because they are of the world. It takes discernment to parse where and how.

2. Worldly philosophies change. The racism of today is not the racism of the 1960s which is not the racism of the 1920s. Feminism has already undergone three waves, and some would argue we are in or about to start the fourth. The false teachers' messages morph also.

3. Feminism is counter to Biblical Womanhood.

4. Beth Moore is a false teacher.

Back when I was first began researching Moore and her teaching methods five years ago, it was extremely hard to find anything comparing Moore to scripture and less so to find a piece pronouncing Moore as anything but wonderful. In 2013 an excellent analysis of Moore appeared on a blog called The King's Dale. It was the first discerning piece I'd read about Moore. I was so relieved. Here it is.

Beth Moore - False Teacher



Prata's Place/Graceful Garlands 23: Cursed Cup

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Movie Review: Autistic Driving School

I published this on The Quiet Life, my personal blog, earlier. But with so much negative news out there, such ugly discernment fighting, so much false teaching, dispiriting politics, and just general hate, I thought a breath of fresh air was needed, and I'd post this here too. Because it's positive, inspiring, and heartfelt.


Autistic Driving School is a 2010 one-hour documentary on Netflix (and perhaps other places too) highlighting Julia Malkin's founding of a UK driving school that caters to teaching autistic people how to drive. Malkin is autistic herself.

With a driving license comes freedom, something most people want. For autistic teens and young adults however, the challenges of learning to drive safely can seem insurmountable, especially if receiving an instructor with no knowledge of how to teach to their special needs. As was stated in the movie, Autistic people are literal, so there's no saying 'take the next left' because they're likely to wind up in someone's garden. Some autistic people do not take instruction or correction well. While some can become excessively distracted, following anything and everything that interests them like a rabbit, others hardly notice anything around them, both of which are a problem when driving. The possibility of becoming overwhelmed and having a meltdown while driving is real. And more.

In comes Julia Malkin.

A woman with autism herself, Julia suffered through years of bullying in school, attempted suicide twice, one at age 16 and another at age 18, suffered through a nervous breakdown at 18, and lived as an adult by subsisting on dead end jobs...until....

Her diagnosis at age 40.
Since then, following her diagnosis of Asperger syndrome, Julia started up Excel Driver and Instructor Academy, which expanded rapidly and now helps people with autism learn to drive, provides education support and offers counselling, is still the only one of its kind in the UK.
She has achieved highest honors for her profession as the safest driver in England, earning an OBE, which is "The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry; rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the Civil Service."

According to the information given at the link, Julia attained four degrees in six years at two separate universities between 2008 and 2015 and became a Doctor of Philosophy, and founded another course of training to train Driving Instructors to teach autistic clients. The UK National Autistic Society shortlisted her as one of three finalists for the National Autistic Society’s award for outstanding achievement by a professional with an autism spectrum disorder.

Wow.

If you listen to Julia on the documentary it's obvious she is brilliant. She is articulate, passionate, and her powers of observation are astounding. At one point during the movie, she'd been asked to speak out loud what goes through her mind as she drives down the road...her observations of her surroundings combined with lightning fast sifting of that information was remarkable.

The documentary wasn't about Julia directly though. With sensitivity and compassion, several youths were featured in their process of the two-pronged driving training they must go through to attain a license. There is the book test and the on the road test. Several candidates were followed. Each student spoke of the special challenges unique to autistic drivers, according to the student him or herself, or according to their parents. One young main has set a goal for himself to become a Military Transport driver, so of course passing his first license test was important. But a wrinkle to his story is that his doctor had recommended taking a certain prescription medication for his OCD, but if one is on or has ever taken such a drug, it would immediately disqualify him for ever entering the military in the UK. He had a dilemma. He decided to forego the medication, but the result was he'd have to work even harder to manage his condition while he was on the road.

A 22 year old mother had earned her licence a few years prior, but had lost her nerve to drive. Another, a set of twins, create crafts and wanted to found a business of traveling town to town to fairs and such, selling them.

They all wanted freedom and independence that a driving license would provide.

I found the documentary instructive and interesting. It was produced and edited in such a way that you pull for the students and cheer the inspiring story of Julia. With so little attention paid to adults with Autism, and with so few generally inspiring stories around, this was a documentary I'd recommend as a DON'T MISS!


This is part of the documentary, 'Autistic Driving School' which was broadcast on BBC3. It tells the story of Julia Malkin, the most qualified driving instructor in the UK. It shows her battle with autism and her mission of inclusion in education both inside and outside the driver training industry.


Prata's Place/Graceful Garlands 20: Good Gift

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Prata's Place/Graceful Garlands 19: Time Trap

What does 'disciples' mean?

In listening to Martyn Lloyd Jones today I was struck by how he brought out nuances to the word 'disciple.'  All that the word disciple really means is learner. More on Lloyd-Jones below in a moment.

I've thought a lot about education over my lifetime. My foremost profession has been an educator in various capacities. I've attained a post-graduate degree, a Master's in Education with a 4.0 average. However my family is one of high achievers, and a Master's in my family is the low end of the educational totem pole. Many of my family have Doctorate degrees. They're Professors or Deans in universities, or are doctors or are highly educated in other professions. They all worked very hard for their education and they are all very smart.

I am second and third generation immigrant, so the family emphasis on education was great and for that I'm grateful.

So often, I ponder my family's well-earned achievements in the secular world (for none are saved that I know of, except perhaps one). Their brilliance, thirst for learning, and great intellectual capacity will become as nothing on The Day. Their wisdom which is of the world and which the world admires, will be as dung on Judgment Day. It's an upside down notion that takes getting used to.

Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. (1 Corinthians 1:20-21).

And in an even more upside down twist, the uneducated, the simple, the ignorant, have the mind of Christ.

Finally, after three days they found Him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard Him were amazed at His understanding and His answers... (Luke 2:46-47).

This is because Jesus had no sin. His mind was pure, undefiled, and divine, and therefore the top mind in the universe.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. (Acts 4:13, KJV).

No doubt Paul had a great intellect, and had been trained in the only secondary school there existed for Jews at the time: the Sanhedrin. However most of the apostles were as the verse says, uneducated and ignorant men. They were simple men, fishermen and craftsmen, jailers and soldiers. The Holy Spirit dispenses the mind of Christ to His followers, and with it, the thirst to learn His word. The men went from being fishermen to being disciples. What are disciples? Learners. Here is Martyn Lloyd Jones on disciples and learning:
The Holy Spirit can make any man new, it doesn't matter who he is. The Holy Spirit can regenerate an ignoramus quite as easily as He can a great philosopher. Perhaps even more so! He does the same thing in both cases. And when He does, He does the same thing to both of them. He creates a desire and an appetite in them for the truth." 
And they [the 3000 souls just converted at Pentecost] devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. (Acts 2:42).
The thing that is put first [in the verse] is the teaching, the doctrine. These people, suddenly converted from ignorance and darkness, from the vileness of their lives…what do they want? They want more teaching. They've suddenly got an appetite and a desire for teaching! Have you ever heard of such a thing? People who have never read, who'd never thought. People who had lived for gambling and for sex and for drunkenness … people who hadn't seemed to have brains at all, suddenly they want teaching! They wanted it daily. They continued steadfastly. … This is the miracle of redemption, and it is proof of the fact that they have become a Christian. 
Many people are "making decisions" but they don't want to be taught. They don't like teaching. They grumble at it. They say sermons are too long. They want something nice and simple, bright and breezy. When a man is born again, he wants teaching. He’s a disciple. ~Martyn Lloyd Jones, Acts 6:1-7, The Church and Her Message
Disciples are learners. Anyone and everyone can learn, when the Spirit puts the thirst for the word of God into you. The most formerly foolish and ignorant drunken gambler now seeks the highest wisdom that exists, and is given access to it by the Holy Spirit Himself.

Before I was saved, all my accumulated learned wisdom from University stood me no closer to understanding Jesus and gave me no advantage or wisdom that counts with God. I was equally as ignorant as the most ignorant person on earth. Yet when He gives us the new man inside is, comes with is a capacity for unfolding the wisdom of heaven, direct from the mind of Christ. We're disciples, praise God.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever! (Psalm 111:10).




Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Revelation 101

So often I hear that people are scared to, or worried about reading the Book of Revelation. It's this monolith at the end of the Bible that people stay away from because it's too hard, too mysterious, too difficult to understand. Yet the book itself says otherwise.
Believers cannot afford to ignore the immense truth this book contains. In fact, we're commanded not to; Revelation 22:10 says, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near." ~John MacArthur
It's actually one of the easiest books to understand.

By the way, the book is called "Revelation" singular. It's not "Revelations."

Daniel is dense. Pound for pound, Zechariah has twice as much prophecy than Revelation. Some of the minor prophets are hard to understand because of the time frames and the history. Romans is heavily philosophical. If I was to pick a book that is hard to understand, I'd choose any of those over and above Revelation. Revelation is actually one of the easiest book in the Bible to understand.

How can I say this?

Two reasons.

1. It is the ONLY book in the Bible in which the reader is promised a blessing if he or she reads it. The. Only. Book. That's something worth paying attention to. The promise is stated at the beginning and at the end of the book.

Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear, and who keep what is written in it, for the time is near. (Revelation 1:3).

How can we keep what is written in it, if we do not read it?

"And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book." (Revelation 22:7).

Did Jesus promise a blessing, and in a cosmic 'gotcha', then make it intellectually or spiritually too difficult to understand? Or is it because it's one book that proclaims Jesus in His full glory, promises a great ending for His people, and wants us to look ahead for the encouragement?

2. It has its own built-in study guide. Despite the chaos it reveals, it is actually a very orderly book. I'm not kidding.

The first three chapters are greetings and letters to churches, which we would do well to study. To each church, Jesus identifies himself in a different way, revealing a certain aspect of Himself that matches the warning or commendation He gives to the church. It also shows how intimately He is involved with His church as its Head and its Priest.

In Chapter 4 the scene shifts to heaven. In Chapter 5 we're still in heaven, but now heaven is readying for the "things to come", meaning, the global judgment.

Chapter 6-18 are those judgments. Again, it's orderly. A series of three (perhaps four, if the Seven Thunders are judgments) each containing 7 judgments are unleashed, one after the other. The time frame is fairly chronological. It's also rapid. The events take place mostly within three and a half years (7 total) so reading this main portion of Revelation can be compared to reading the Gospel of Mark. Mark reports quickly, covers a great time frame in short order, and uses muscular language and a rapid pace. It's the same with this portion of Revelation.

The judgments, in addition to being judgments, are also working to UNcreate the world. Compare Genesis 1-2 with Revelation 6. Genesis shows the creation, Revelation is the UNcreation. As the LORD deals with sin, He is also preparing the world for its upcoming regeneration ("The New Earth."). Mainly the story proceeds chronologically with an occasional glimpse back to heaven or a parenthetical comment.

Chapter 19-22 is the wrap-up- the new heavens and new earth, New Jerusalem, the Marriage Supper, the final strings to tie up, the last encouragement.

Voila!

As for the symbolism, scripture interprets scripture. The symbols are not a lot harder to interpret than other analogies and symbols in the Bible. Jesus being the vine (we know He is not ACTUALLY a vine). Or when the angels pour out the bowls of wrath, we are reminded of Jesus drinking the cup of wrath. The dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on its heads is a similar kind of symbol to the ram with long horns of Daniel 8, which is interpreted for Daniel right in the same chapter.

I'm not saying everything about Revelation is easy. It still takes study. What I'm saying is that is is not harder than any other book of the Bible and in some ways it is easier. Please don't be intimidated by it.

On sale now at Grace To You through June 25 is a booklet for $1.50 called A Jet Tour Through Revelation. It is adapted from a sermon MacArthur gave a while ago. Even when the sale is done the booklet only costs $2.00. Of course, you can listen to the sermon for free at any time. The booklet-
helps take the mystery out of a portion of Scripture many people consider too difficult to understand. Yet, the book of Revelation promises blessing to those who read its words and heed them. This Jet Tour booklet will help you make sense of the symbols, imagery, and significance of this amazing prewritten history. It will increase your appetite for heaven—or give you a needed dose of concern about your eternal future and point you to Christ, who alone can save you from the wrath He will one day bring.
One of my favorite books on Revelation is another of MacArthur's "Because the Time is Near". This book is also on sale now for $8.25. I found it not only to be clear, non-academic and useful in laymen's terms, so encouraging. Yes, the Book of Revelation is encouraging. Seeing all that wrath poured out is hard on the heart, but it is also encouraging knowing Jesus took that same wrath for His people. This in turn inspires a profound relief and love for His work on the cross. It's one thing to know about the cup of wrath He endured, it is another to understand it. Revelation helps you understand sin and wrath, and by contrast, grace. In this way, reading Revelation helps you love Jesus even more.

Far from being a dense, mysterious, non-understandable book, I have always found it to be encouraging, amazing, and inspiring.It shows Jesus as He is now, in full glory, power, and beauty. It is one of my favorite books of the Bible, Genesis being the other!

Please don't be intimidated by Revelation, just start reading it. You will be blessed. That is a promise from Jesus.




Prata's Place/Graceful Garlands 18: Well Water

Monday, June 19, 2017

Discernment review: The mystical practice of Lectio Divina



Several mystical practices have been making their way into the more conservative quarters of the faith. One has been contemplative prayer, or centering prayer. Another practice that crept in from the mystical religions was Lectio Divina.

First, what do we mean by 'mysticism'? GotQuestions looks at the blending of the faith with mystical practices, called Christian Mysticism:
The term "Christian mystic" is an oxymoron. Mysticism is not the experience of a Christian. Whereas Christian doctrine maintains that God dwells in all Christians and that they can experience God directly through belief in Jesus, Christian mysticism aspires to apprehend spiritual truths inaccessible through intellectual means
Any practice that urges the adherent to avoid the intellect is not to be trusted. Christianity is a religion of the mind. I can't stress this fact strongly enough. It is a thinking religion.

Paul said in Romans 12:2, Be transformed by the renewing of your mind,  not by 'the subjective impulses of the heart'.

Paul also said in 1 Corinthians 2:16, 'we have the mind of Christ', not that 'some have the mind of Christ and if you adopt their mystical practices you, too, can know truth'.

We read in 2 Corinthians 10:3-6,

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.

See? We destroy mind-strongholds, we take thoughts captive, destroy base opinions, and seek knowledge. This is all about the mind.

So the first thing mystical, anti-Christian practices will do is the opposite of what the Bible tells us. The teachers of such practices will tell you to clear you mind, empty your mind, or not to rely on the mind.

A second thought to introduce this review. I am doing a follow-up on the not-new-news of Lectio Divina because of the way satan works. He will creep in, and introduce extra-biblical practices antithetical to our growth. These will be discovered sooner or later, and there will be an outcry. Then the outcry will die down. What the outcry does is two-fold, only one of which is actually helpful to us.

First, an outcry against anti-biblical practices raises the alarm and lets the faithful know an intrusion is underway. Such an outcry occurred at the 2012 Passion Conference when several leading members of the faith taught 60,000 youths a version of Lectio Divina and called on them to stand still, be quiet, and listen actively for a response. That rightly caused an outcry. More on that in a moment.

But secondly and sadly, not everyone is as vigilant a Christian soldier as they should be. The outcry serves to allow the terms of the false practices become familiar to us. We actually get used to the terms, like 'contemplative prayer,' or 'Lectio divina' or 'impression on my heart' and once used to the terms, without vigilance and knowledge, we accept them. We become inured to them, which means, "to accustom to accept something undesirable." We've heard the terms, but without constant reminder and instruction against them, a new person to the fray might think they are acceptable practices, simply on the basis of their familiarity with the terms but not the content.

Lectio Divina is a Catholic practice. It is supposedly something innocuous-sounding, it's just 'praying with scripture.' Lectio Divina actually teaches you to listen with your heart, not your mind. It teaches you to experience the text, not to understand the text.

In researching this essay I'd gone back to ground zero of Lectio Divina in its original intrusion into the evangelical faith. In 2012, three of then-Christendom's most popular leaders taught and practiced Lectio Divina at the Passion conference with 60,000 youths in attendance. John Piper, Beth Moore, Francis Chan, and one or two others on stage led the youths in attendance through a lectio practice.

Subsequently, there was an outcry. What were these respected teachers doing at an evangelical conference showing youths how to do a Catholic mystical practice? Todd Friel of Wretched Radio did a spot answering these and other questions the incident raised, and thoroughly explained the pitfalls of Lectio Divina.

Essentially, the difference between proper study and the Lectio mystical way of study is that the evangelical student studies the text using proper cognitive methods, the Lectio student attempts to experience the text. Here's John MacArthur on Lectio Divina and other mystical practices, When Study Isn't Study
For many leaders in the spiritual formation movement, Bible study doesn’t really involve study at all. Instead, it’s an attempt to experience the text. 
Many spiritual formation gurus advocate various meditative Bible-reading methods, most of them adapted from a Catholic Church practice called lectio divina. Regardless of the name they apply to it, the pattern is usually the same—slow, methodical, repetitive reading, with an eye toward words and phrases that pop out to the individual reader. It's through those individual words and phrases, we’re told, that the Lord speaks directly to us. 
Bible study, then, is not a question of digging deep into God's Word but letting your imagination and intuition guide your own personal understanding of the text.
Dear sisters, avoid Lectio Divina and other mystical practices. As was said earlier today on Twitter,
Scripture never commands us to tune into any inner voice. We’re commanded to study and meditate on Scripture.

~~~~~~~~FURTHER READING~~~~~~~~

A teacher or leader may be teaching you Lectio Divina without calling it that. Here's GotQuestions explaining it, so you'll know if it appears in your lessons, Sunday School, book you're reading, conference, etc.

Heroes of the faith that sadly allowed themselves to be led by subjective promptings AKA 'woeful delusions' and fancies:
When Fancy Is Mistaken for Faith

So how are we to determine God's will, since indeed the Spirit does lead us?
Subjectivity and the Will of God

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 ...