Thursday, June 21, 2018

About the face...



But if the ministry of death, in letters engraved on stones, came with glory, so that the sons of Israel could not look intently at the face of Moses because of the glory of his face, fading as it was, how will the ministry of the Spirit fail to be even more with glory? (2 Corinthians 3:7)

And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)

There is another kind of face:

Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed. (Jeremiah 3:3).
and thou hadst a whore's forehead; was impudent and unconcerned, repented not of sin, or blushed for it, though such judgments were upon them; ~Gill's Exposition
We gain a bit of context here about the Jeremiah verse, from Ligonier devotional-
This analogy lies behind today's passage wherein Jeremiah accuses the old covenant community of having "the forehead of a whore" and refusing "to be ashamed" (3:1–3). A harlot can only "work" consistently if she suppresses the shameful feelings that attend her deeds. She must lose all sense of embarrassment and be unable to blush. Israel has a harlot’s forehead, she no longer turns red with shame over her wickedness (6:15). ~Ligonier

So there's two kinds of faces. The one that glows as it basks in the light and glory of Jesus, and the face that turns away to seek sin, and is so taken by it that it refuses to blush.

John Owen wrote about Indwelling Sin in the Believer, and here in chapter 8 in modernized language he discusses the deceitfulness of sin,
It is always carried on by degrees, little by little, so that the whole design and aim is not revealed at once. ... Now, this effect of the deceit of sin is worked upon the mind. The mind or understanding, as we have shown, is the guiding, the conducting faculty of the soul. It goes before — in discerning, judging, and determining — to make the way of moral actions fair and smooth to the will and the affections. 
For our faces to glow, as it were, our face must be looking at Jesus, our mind consumed with Him, stirring our affections, convicting us of sin, transforming it to His mind.

When we look away, the deceitfulness of sin will draw us away as James 1:14 KJV says

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

You see the order of things. The temptation comes after he is drawn away. We are drawn away when we look away.

The solution: don't look away.

Be vigorous in prayer life, stay reading the Word, assemble with the saints regularly, fellowship with believers to whom one can be transparent and accountable, and frequently enough so they will know you.

You have said, "Seek my face." My heart says to you, "Your face, LORD, do I seek." (Psalm 27:8)



Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Chris Pratt's MTV Awards speech: A False Gospel and an un-Christian life

CNN called him "The ultimate good guy". CBS called it a "Powerful speech." The National Review called it "Spreading the Gospel". FaithWire called it "A bold faith message".

What is it? It is Jurassic Park actor Chris Pratt's acceptance speech at the MTV Movie & TV awards held on June 18. Pratt was honored with the MTV Generation Award. "The MTV Generation Award is the successor to the MTV Lifetime Achievement Award, though it is more serious than its predecessor. The recipient of the award is celebrated for great achievement in movies", according to Wikipedia.

Wow. Those are some great accolades. I'm always eager for the Gospel to be shared, spread widely, and for people to come to know Jesus. I searched Google so I could hear this tremendous speech for myself! I listened, and I transcribed it. Here is the speech.

He opened with Thank yous. Then said,

I speak to the next generation, I accept the responsibility as your elder. Listen up. This is what I call 9 rules of Chris Pratt, Generation Award Winner.

1. Breathe. If you don't, you'll suffocate.

2. You have a soul. Be careful with it.

3. Don’t be a turd. If you’re strong, be a protector, and if you’re smart, be a humble influencer. Strength and intelligence can be weapons so do not wield them against the weak. That makes you a bully. Be bigger than that.

4. When giving a dog medicine, put the medicine in a little piece of hamburger and they won't even know they're eating medicine.

5. It doesn’t matter what it is, earn it. Reach out to someone in pain, be of service. It feels good and it's good for your soul.

6. God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do.
(He should have led with this one).

7. If you have to poop at a party, but you're embarrassed because you're going to stink up the bathroom, just do what I do. Lock the door, sit down, get all of the pee out first. And then, once all the pee is done, poop, flush, boom! You minimize the amount of time that the poop's touching the air. Because if you poop first, it takes you longer to pee and then you're peeing on top of it, stirring up the poop particles, create a cloud, goes out, then everyone at the party will know that you pooped. Just trust me, it's science.

8. Learn to pray. It’s easy. It’s so good for your soul

9. And finally, number 9, Nobody is perfect. People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are, you are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. Like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else's blood.
Do not forget that. Don't take that for granted. God bless you please get home safely


------------------------------------------
Let's go through this speech point by point. Mr Pratt's rules are in bold, my responses are below each point.

1. Breathe. If you don't you'll suffocate.

Um, ok

2. You have a soul. Be careful with it.

Is our soul ours to do with as we will? Mr Pratt made it seem like our soul is ours and not God's to do with as He pleases. And, what is the state of that soul? What happens to the soul after death? Pratt never said.

Ezekiel 18:4 says, Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.

A cross-reference to the Ezekiel verse is this from Romans 6:23. Tragically, Mr Pratt only had to say it for his speech to inch closer to the biblical side:

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

3. Don't be a turd. If you're strong, be a protector, and if you're smart, be a humble influencer. Strength and intelligence can be weapons so do not wield them against the weak. That makes you a bully. Be bigger than that.

Christians need to be mindful of how we speak. Proverbs devotes a third of its sayings to right speech. The New Testament is full of commands about how we are to be set apart from the world and not to speak like the world. He has the microphone and the ear of thousands. He doesn't need to use the world's speech to make his point. He could have simply said 'jerk'. The other part is good advice.

4. When giving a dog medicine, put the medicine in a little piece of hamburger and they won't even know they're eating medicine.

Non sequitur but OK.

5. It doesn’t matter what it is, earn it. Reach out to someone in pain, be of service. It feels good and it's good for your soul.

Philanthropy for its own sake absent honoring Jesus and giving Him glory is all wind and vanity. The entire book of Ecclesiastes rebuts this statement, and Paul in Romans 2:6-10, and James 2:18. The good works that believers do are good for the soul (not every soul generically as Mr Pratt said) because they are evidence of the saving grace of Jesus, and are an obedient and worshipful response to that grace.

6. God is real. God loves you. God wants the best for you. Believe that. I do.

It's still a twisted version of who God is. And number 6, between the dog and the turd and the poop?  We should not be such cultural doormats that we're relieved when someone mentions anything about God. God wants the best for me? Did He want the best for Stephen, the first martyr? Is that our definition of 'the best'? What is that 'best'? And what do I have to do to get it? Pratt never said.

Sadly, Pratt's is the commonly heard, shallow no-Gospel, "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life" chestnut. All this does is affirm people in their sin. The Gospel is both Law & Grace, Wrath and Forgiveness, Sin & Righteousness- and the blood of Christ and His resurrection. Half a Gospel is no Gospel. And what Mr Pratt preached is no Gospel. If he was really serious about God, and Jesus (whose name he never mentioned) you LEAD with it.

7. If you have to poop at a party, but you're embarrassed because you're going to stink up the bathroom, just do what I do. Lock the door, sit down, get all of the pee out first. And then, once all the pee is done, poop, flush, boom! You minimize the amount of time that the poop's touching the air. Because if you poop first, it takes you longer to pee and then you're peeing on top of it, stirring up the poop particles, create a cloud, goes out, then everyone at the party will know that you pooped. Just trust me, it's science.

This entire section fails James 1, Ephesians 4:29, Colossians 4:6 and most of Proverbs. It demonstrates Matthew 15:11, "It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person."

8. Learn to pray. It’s easy. It’s so good for your soul.

It is NOT easy to pray. It is hard. It is an act of spiritual war to put your hands together and ignore satan's efforts to stop you! Did you notice he never said who to pray to? And did you notice he said why we should pray? Because it is good for us. the truth is, one reason to pray is because it exalts God (Matthew 6:9), it is a way to serve God (Luke 2:36-38), and it obeys His command (Philippians 4:6-7). Also, we pray because it is good for others' souls. (among other reasons).

9. And finally, number 9, Nobody is perfect. People will tell you that you are perfect just the way that you are, you are not! You are imperfect. You always will be, but there is a powerful force that designed you that way, and if you are willing to accept that, you will have grace. And grace is a gift. Like the freedom that we enjoy in this country, that grace was paid for with somebody else's blood.

Do not forget that. Don't take that for granted. God bless you, please get home safely.

This last is the ANTI-gospel. He is telling people they are imperfect and need to accept that. If they do, a powerful force will deliver grace to them. This is the opposite of the Gospel.

It is our realization that we are sinners in need of a savior to us who will deliver grace if we hate our sin and repent of it! Otherwise, accepting who we are as we are will send us to hell! That's why it is the ANTI-gospel.

Nothing was said of sin. Our life and every breath is a treasonous act against God because we live, breathe and think only of sin, continually (Genesis 6:5). Further, why do I need grace if this powerful force already loves me and wants the best for me?

Any message urging us to accept our imperfections, grab the good life God has waiting for us, and some unnamed powerful force will give us an undefined grace is not a Gospel message.

And whose blood? Military blood like on D-Day? Jesus is now referred to as just "Somebody"?

As much as we want the Gospel to be believed by one and all, as much as we mourn for lost souls, we cannot accept any message which is not THE message.

Now, here is information on why Chris Pratt is not a Christian role model. I apologize if some of these are unsavory and gross.  Mr Pratt should never be mentioned as someone to emulate.

CHRIS PRATT'S VERSION OF CHRISTIANITY

1. Conversion

It all began with Pratt waiting outside for his friends inside a grocery store...
And a guy named Henry came up and recognised something in me that needed to be saved. "Jesus told me to talk to you..." At that moment I was like, I think I have to go with this guy. He took me to church. [The guy at the grocery store] was like, "I stopped because Jesus told me to stop and talk to you. He said to tell you you're destined for great things." Pratt said, "I gave my soul to Jesus within, like, two days. Over the next few days I surprised my friends by declaring that I was going to change my life.' ...
That is not how we are saved. It doesn't begin with extra-biblical revelation from some random guy, promising a good life. One does not become saved by declaring that under our power we will change our lives. This was not the Gospel. But it is his conversion story in every page I looked at.

Searching for "Christ Pratt" +"sin" yields literally zero results. Google asked me if I really meant to say "Chris Pratt son". No search yields on the word repent either. I cannot find that Chris Pratt ever uttered those all-important words.

This conversion story is the typical one I found online

2. Divorce

Chris Pratt recently divorced his wife. He cited difficulties in juggling his movie career and children. She wanted more kids. He didn't. So they split. This is not a biblical reason. Divorce is serious. (Matthew 19:1-12). Putting your career over children to the point that you depart from your wife is sinful and a biblical failure.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (Ephesians 5:25)

As a matter of fact, his ex-wife Anna left her first husband for Chris, and the two lived together before they married. So Pratt is a fornicator, his marriage to Anna made her an adulteress, and he is an adulterer.

But I tell you that anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, makes her the victim of adultery, and anyone who marries a divorced woman commits adultery. (Matthew 5:32)

3. Lifestyle

Chris Pratt has a potty mouth. Here is a link to an article recounting an interview with Pratt, but do NOT click on it, there are so many awful words. Because it is an interview with Pratt, the swear words are his own. Even this link to an interview in the staid Wisconsin Gazette is full of f-words. Prior to the transcription part of the speech above, Pratt uttered some unsavory language on television. Pratt speaks coarsely, vulgarly, profanely, and constantly.

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

it is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes out of the mouth; this defiles a person. (Matthew 15:11).

Other lifestyle issues:

--Pratt reads porn. Shares porn with women.
--Boasts to people about his sexual encounters.
--Drinks a lot, pantomimes in public drinking from breasts.
(source for above)
--Isn't a member of any church that has been reported, but has attended Hillsong Church in LA, which is not a church because it is a prosperity gospel/word of faith church.

In this screen shot below, which I smudged, shows Pratt giving the finger. The 2-minute clip reveals Pratt using three strong swear words, and ending with the finger. It is from 2015.



Men of the faith (and us all) are supposed to be separate from the world, not look like the world, not speak like the world, not want what the world wants. From these evidences, and the fact that Pratt says he was converted at age 19 and is now 39 yet still persists in sin and sinning, means he is not a Christian (role model).

While we hope that Chris finds the true Gospel and lives it, really, please do not promote this man to in Christian circles in any way.

But you, O man of God, flee from these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance, and gentleness. (1 Timothy 6:11)




Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Bad fruit is bad

Yesterday I wrote about the wind, meaning, the Spirit, blowing where it will. I wrote of how we can't see the wind at the time but we can see its effects. One of the effects of the wind's (Spirit's) effect is fruit. The changed heart will be producing good fruit. A bad heart produces only bad fruit. The unsaved who profess but do not possess Christ will produce bad fruit at some point. False teachers will produce bad fruit also.

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-20 NASB)

Please notice the certainty in the lesson. Jesus said 'You WILL know them'. Not that it will be uncertain, or foggy, or maybe, or perhaps. But you WILL.

Not all fruit is produced quickly. Different fruit trees bear fruit at different lengths of time. After planting, fig trees bear figs after 1-2 years. Apple trees take 3-5 years to produce fruit. Pear trees take about 4-6 years. The point is, not all false teachers will quickly show their true nature, but at some point, no matter how long it takes, they will produce the bad fruit Jesus spoke of. And then you will know them.

They wear sheep's clothing. This means that outwardly false teachers will appear on the surface to be like the true sheep. Barnes' Notes explains here,
Who come in sheep's clothing - The sheep is an emblem of innocence, sincerity, and harmlessness. To come in sheep's clothing is to assume the appearance of sanctity and innocence, when the heart is evil. 
Ravening wolves - Rapacious; voraciously devouring; hungry even to rage. Applied to the false teachers, it means that they assumed the appearance of holiness in order that they might the more readily get the property of the people. They were full of extortion and excess. See Matthew 23:25.
I remember watching an art interpretation show some years back. I like Renaissance art and this episode featured Caravaggio and his famous painting of the Bacchus. I have seen the actual painting in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Here it is.



I wish I could go back and really appreciate the art now that my spiritual eyes have been opened. I remember standing in front of it at the Uffizi for a short moment, and saying to myself, "Pretty! I like fruit." And then moving on.  Outwardly the painting looked good.

Let's not move on. Let's look at this scene for a moment.

Bacchus is a god of wine and ecstasy. Starting at the top, Bacchus' cheeks. His cheeks are ruddy, but not a healthy ruddy like David, from being out in the air and working hard. (1 Samuel 16:12). No, Bacchus' cheeks are red from dissipation, from drunkenness and licentiousness and debauchery and overindulgence. His eyes are glazed and drowsy.  He is half dressed, exposing skin, indicating sensuousness, but the mattress he is laying on is dirty. He is offering the viewer wine, a beverage that will make one take leave of senses. But his near nakedness is also indicating he is offering something more. His fingernails are dirty.

Now the fruit. Looking hard at the fruit, you notice that despite the lushness and the voluminous quantity, the fruit is overripe. It's rotting. It's bad. The apple has a worm. The pomegranate has burst open. The nectarine is rotten.



If you want an technical description of this bowl of disease, here it is
Exact in detail they include precise representations of disease symptoms, insect damage, and various abiotic defects. ... The fruits include black, red, and white clusters of grapes; a bursting pomegranate; figs; a large green pear; three apples—one greenish and one red with a codling moth (Carpocapsa pomonella) entrance hole, a small, golden russet crab with two areas of rot, likely a form of Botrysphaeria; and a half-rotten quince. The basket contains two fig leaves both with a dorsal (abaxial) view and a grape leaf yellowing at the edge suggestive of potassium deficiency. The head of Bacchus is crowned with clusters of black and white grapes and senescing leaves, one of which is turning red, probably an indication of crown gall, induced by Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Source: Purdue Department of Landscape and Horticulture
Eww. The fruit of debauchery is rotten. The fruit is BAD. False teachers only offer bad fruit.

Do you want to eat the bad fruit? Bite into an apple with a moth worm inside? Consume sickly peaches dripping with its own rotted pus?

People often try to be charitable with false teachers. I understand wanting to be charitable, but there is a time and a place for charity. False teachers are evil. They are against Jesus. They are against you. They are against me.

Jesus said that there is good fruit and bad fruit. He didn't say that there was fence fruit or sort of OK fruit or any fruit in the middle. The fruit teachers offer is either one or the other.

I learned my lesson with the art. Art takes a while to look at, examine, notice, and ponder. It's the same with what teachers teach us. Good teachers and bad teachers offer us things. It takes time to look at, examine, notice, and ponder what they are offering. Once we discern the bad from the good, we are told to hold on to the good and leave off the bad.

but test everything; hold fast what is good. (1 Thessalonians 5:21)
Love must be sincere. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. (Romans 12:9)

So there is no excuse for listening to someone generally and widely acknowledged to be a false teacher. A false teacher does not offer anything good. Their fruit is bad. You can't follow them and expect them to produce one good fruit on the tree. Jesus said the tree is either all good or all bad.

Don't eat of their fruit. Don't quote them. Don't buy their books. Don't eat the meat and spit out the bones, which doesn't even make sense because we are talking about fruit. When you are tempted to peek at a false teacher's site/tweets/stream/Facebook/books, picture the debauched Bacchus with dirty fingernails on a dirty mattress offering you wormy rotted fruit.

Instead, we can imbibe of the sweet waters from the fountain of life and the pure bread from heaven.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!
The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house,
and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light do we see light.
Psalm 36:7-9

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Further Reading

Ligonier: False Prophets and their Fruits

CARM: You will know them by their fruit

Monday, June 18, 2018

The wind blows where it will

I was years and years upon the brink of hell—I mean in my own feeling. I was unhappy, I was desponding, I was despairing. I dreamed of hell. My life was full of sorrow and wretchedness, believing that I was lost. ~ Charles Spurgeon as a teenager 
Charles Spurgeon's torments in wanting to be saved are well-known. Spurgeon knew he needed salvation because of his sins, but also knew he couldn't decide to save himself. He needed the external specific call.


He didn't just sit around and wait though. He read his Bible, he prayed, and he sought- resolving to visit every church in his district one at a time, repeatedly.

John Bunyan's experience was similar. In his spiritual autobiography, Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners, he was tormented by his sin and knew he needed Jesus. He read his Bible, tried various things, until he realized conversion is all of God, election. He wrote,
With this scripture I could not tell what to do: for I evidently saw, unless that the great God, of His infinite grace and bounty, had voluntarily chosen me to be a vessel of mercy, though I should desire, and long, and labour until my heart did break, no good could come of it. Therefore this would stick with me, How can you tell that you are elected? And what if you should not? How then? 
O Lord, thought I, what if I should not indeed? It may be you are not, said the Tempter; it may be so indeed, thought I. Why then, said Satan, you had as good leave off, and strive no farther; for if indeed, you should not be elected and chosen of God, there is no talk of your being saved; For it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth; but of God that showeth mercy. 
By these things I was driven to my wits' end,
But Bunyan didn't leave off, and didn't sit and wait for grace to drop into his lap as Spurgeon didn't wait around for grace to fall into his lap. Though conversion is only from Jesus, the sinner can prepare, inquire, be active. Bunyan kept reading the scriptures, pleading, and praying.

At one point in his faith journey, Bunyan had been wracked with torment, and he laid down to rest and nap. He had a dream that he was trying to get thru a wall to go from the cold side of a great mountain into the sun on the other side. Eventually he found a passageway but it was exceedingly narrow. He got his head in, barely, and wriggled his body sideways, very narrow and could hardly get thru. He realized he had dreamed of the narrow gate. He wrote,

that none could enter into life, but those that were in downright earnest, and unless also they left that wicked world behind them; for here was only room for body and soul, but not for body and soul and sin.

But what now? Bunyan asked. What if one is not elected? And if one was elected, how would one know that salvation had come? Bunyan again-
Neither as yet could I attain to any comfortable persuasion that I had faith in Christ; but instead of having satisfaction here, I began to find my soul to be assaulted with fresh doubts about my future happiness, especially with such as these: Whether I was elected. But how if the day of grace should be past and gone? By these two temptations I was very much afflicted and disquieted, sometimes by one and sometimes by the other of them.
The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit. (John 3:8)

We don't know who will be saved or when. We can't control the wind.

We can see its effects, though. Here is my favorite Paul Washer story. It's 3 minutes and I think it will bless you. It seems to me to be a good example of the Wind moving in a soul. When one isn't saved one can read the Bible and read it and read it, but it will not make sense because one cannot discern spiritual things, as the verse says-

But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. (1 Corinthians 2:14).

But when the wind moves in a man's soul, it moves so we can see the effect! Suddenly the scales fall and the Bible's verses have extreme meaning!



The wind blows where it will...but keep praying for salvation for your dear lost ones, and keep looking for fruit in those who say they have felt the Spirit move in them. Tomorrow, more on fruit.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Bible Word of the Day: Immanence




Last week the word was Transcendence. God is apart from His creation, different from it. This week the word is Immanent or Immanence,
God’s immanence refers to His presence within His creation. (It is not to be confused with imminence, which refers to the timing of Jesus’ return to earth.) A belief in God’s immanence holds that God is present in all of creation, while remaining distinct from it. In other words, there is no place where God is not. His sovereign control extends everywhere simultaneously. Source GotQuestions
Immanence: God's presence and activity within the creation and human history. Source: Biblical Doctrine, MacArthur/Mayhue, p 931
God is so majestic! Mysterious! How can He be both apart from His creation, and present within it?! At the same time? It shows who our God is. It's why I chose these two words one after the other to demonstrate His essential otherness.

One other notion that is important to emphasize.
Pantheism and deism twist many people’s view of how God relates to His creation. Pantheists believe that everything is God or is a part of God, making Him equal with His creation and unable to act upon it. Deists hold that God is distinct from His creation but deny that He plays an active role in it. Contrary to these and other false views of God, the Bible says that God is both different from His creation and actively upholding it.
We must stress His immanence not at the expense of His transcendence, and vice versa.

That they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us, (Acts 17:27).

Note: Modern pantheism is seen in William P. Young's The Shack, Oprah Winfrey's promotion of Eckart Tolle, and in Ann Voskamps's book One Thousand Gifts as an offshoot of pantheism, panentheism. It is easy to twist both immanence and transcendence, either by direct twisting or omitting one in favor of the other. It is why it is important to learn these terms so we retain a balanced view of God.


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Word of the Week 1: Justification

Word of the Week 2: Transcendence


Saturday, June 16, 2018

Prata's Place: Graceful Garlands 43: Final Father

The title for my pithy sayings comes from Proverbs 1:8-9,

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.

Click to enlarge


Friday, June 15, 2018

What's on my nightstand- and why

My church family is a family of readers. That's good. I am a reader too. That means we are also talkers about books. We love to interact mindfully and intentionally about spiritual things. Our elders model this and encourage it. Our Family Groups, Book Clubs, and get-togethers are rife with conversations that are sparked with questions like, "Can you share any insights from your latest Bible reading?" "What do you think of the Bible Reading Plan segment for today?" "What books are you reading?"

The penetrating questions perform two functions. One function is that we are a like-minded bunch who love to read! We unite around literacy. This is good because it means we also read the Bible. Secondly, it keeps us accountable. It keeps me accountable anyway. When I read, I need to comprehend, and then retain and then share.

I've noticed that though I love reading and I've been a reader all my life, lately I was reading less. I read fewer books and the time I spent reading them was growing shorter and shorter. I was comprehending less too, and retaining almost nothing. I realized that most of my reading was done on a laptop. And that was weird because I dislike reading on screen.

I soon realized the type of reading I was doing was the issue. With my limited time to read after work, I was reading tweets, GroupMe chats, Facebook shares, short blogs, and the like. Digital reading predisposes us to reading superficially and quickly. Bible reading demands the opposite. Uh-oh.

In his book 12 Ways Your Phone is Changing You, author Tony Reinke exposed the issue. Several experiments had been done on reading and they were summarized in The New Yorker. (July 16, 2014). Turns out there is a difference in the way people read depending on if the text is on a screen or on a page.
On screen, people tended to browse and scan, to look for keywords, and to read in a less linear, more selective fashion. On the page, they tended to concentrate more on following the text. Skimming, [Ziming] Liu concluded, had become the new reading: the more we read online, the more likely we were to move quickly, without stopping to ponder any one thought.
Of Rakefet Ackerman and Morris Goldmsith's experiment, published in the Journal of Psychology Applied it was discovered,
The screen, for one, seems to encourage more skimming behavior: when we scroll, we tend to read more quickly (and less deeply) than when we move sequentially from page to page. Online, the tendency is compounded as a way of coping with an overload of information. There are so many possible sources, so many pages, so many alternatives to any article or book or document that we read more quickly to compensate. 
In addition, of Mary Dyson's research, we read,
The online world, too, tends to exhaust our resources more quickly than the page. We become tired from the constant need to filter out hyperlinks and possible distractions. And our eyes themselves may grow fatigued from the constantly shifting screens, layouts, colors, and contrasts, an effect that holds for e-readers as well as computers. 
Of Anne Mangen's research,
The shift from print to digital reading may lead to more than changes in speed and physical processing. It may come at a cost to understanding, analyzing, and evaluating a text. Much of Mangen’s research focusses on how the format of reading material may affect not just eye movement or reading strategy but broader processing abilities.
Goodness! Reinke interviewed Trip Lee for the 12 Ways book, and Lee said the following. See if it resonates with you:
The more time I spend reading ten-second tweets and skimming random articles online, the more it affects my attention span, weakening the muscles I need to read scripture for long distances.
I certainly noticed a decline in my own analyzing, processing, and retention abilities. I needed to do something about this! I purposed to make a schedule of all the books I wanted to read this summer. I had a bunch laying around that were half read and others had been 'on deck' for over a year.

I'm blessed to have 9 weeks off from school during the summer, and my deep desire was to use the time well for Jesus. I also wanted to revive that atrophying reading muscle. So here's what's on my nightstand so to speak:

I am going through Exodus with Dr Abner Chou's lectures, and Romans 1-8 with my church family on Tuesday nights. Also, I'm reading John MacArthur's Romans commentary. Review: What can you say about the Bible! It's great! A JMac Commentary? It's great!

A few months ago, I  read Erik Lundgaard's The Enemy Within, a summarized version of Puritan John Owen's Indwelling Sin. I was irked that I remembered little of it. I decided to read it again, and pair it with Owen's actual book Indwelling Sin (an abridged and slightly modernized version.)

I like this pairing. The topic is difficult, as it necessitates a deep look into one's own heart to purposely uproot the sin there. Lundgaard's version is sort of like a Cliff's Notes which gets me ready to read the same chapters in Owen the next day. Owen's Indwelling Sin in Believers is a monumental, wonderful, convicting book. I highly recommend it. I bought the Banner of Truth Puritan Paperbacks version.

Here is a resource for Owen. He wrote three towering books on the subject of sin, a trilogy if you will, Indwelling Sin as mentioned, Mortification of Sin, and Overcoming Sin and Temptation. This writer has created a "Monster Cheat Sheet for the Mortification of Sin in Believers" that you might find helpful if you decide to read that Owen book.

Grace Abounding in the Chief of Sinners is a book by Pilgrim's Progress author John Bunyan, another Puritan. The version I'm reading has not been modernized and I love it. Owen's language is dense with lengthy run-ons. Bunyan's isn't, hence is easier to read. Hugh Martin said of the book,
Grace Abounding is among the greatest stories of God's dealings with the human soul-- to be put on a shelf beside such treasures as Augustine's Confessions, Law's Serious Call, and Baxter's Autobiography, and Wesley's own account of his spiritual travail.
One great thing about reading the Puritans and older books is that the thread of sin, evil, guilt, despair, salvation, comfort, and assurance is the same no matter what century one lives in. Here is a resource on Bunyan's works- 3 Lessons from the Life of John Bunyan.

Art and the Bible is a small book dealing with the topic of beauty. We should use the arts to the glory of God, author Francis Schaeffer wrote, and I agree. "Francis Schaeffer first examines the scriptural record of the use of various art forms, and then establishes a Christian perspective on art." Recommended.

For secular books, I'm into Moby Dick, with cliff's notes. Here is RC Sproul on Moby Dick in his essay The Unholy Pursuit of God in Moby Dick:
It seems that every time a writer picks up a pen or turns on his word processor to compose a literary work of fiction, deep in his bosom resides the hope that somehow he will create the Great American Novel. Too late. That feat has already been accomplished and is as far out of reach for new novelists as is Joe DiMaggio’s fifty-six-game hitting streak or Pete Rose’s record of cumulative career hits for a rookie baseball player. The Great American Novel was written more than a hundred and fifty years ago by Herman Melville. This novel, the one that has been unsurpassed by any other, is Moby Dick.
I agree. Moby Dick is THE Great American Novel. It's towering, lyrical, breathtaking. It is also demanding, difficult, cumbersome. Is it worth it? YES. But again with this one, I needed notes. I use Read Moby: A Guide for First Time Readers. Why did Sproul believe this is one of the greatest hundred books, ever?
its greatness is found in its unparalleled theological symbolism.
Read Dr Sproul's recommendation above for why we should read this book.

Some Writer! The Story of EB White by Melissa Sweet. This is a graphical book, one that includes ephemera, notes, and drawings. It's a sweet and lovely book and I'm enjoying it tremendously.

PS if you like graphical books, Up The Down Staircase is another one that contains ephemera to tell the story.
"largely assembling her story through an accretion of found objects: bureaucratic circulars, homework assignments, wastebasket contents, doodles, and interoffice memos among teachers"
I am also reading a hilarious and wildly interesting book about the summer of 1927 in America by Bill Bryson aptly called One Summer 1927 America. He is such a good writer that the detailed sections on aviation (It was a Charles Lindbergh summer) and baseball (Babe Ruth summer) interesting, and I don't gravitate to either subject but he makes them so fascinating I can't put the book down. Recommended.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows. A friend sent me this book and it is soooo good. It is a story told through the exchange of letters. This, like Up the Down Staircase the Some Writer! are episolary novels.
Fun Fact: An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use. The word epistolary is derived from Latin from the Greek word epistolē, meaning a letter (see epistle).
The Elusive Mrs Pollifax is on deck for August when school starts again.

I am noticing that when I push away from the laptop and just read, whatever book it is, I feel more relaxed. Moreover, my mind is slowly adapting to literature again, and my comprehension is lengthening. Slowly.

Watch out that digital reading might be changing your mind for the worse. Set aside a time to read without distraction some good theological books, leisure books, and of course the Bible. The Bible demands attention, study, and meditation. Our minds are being shaped away from that kind of reading and this impacts our Bible reading.

The thing I hated worst was that after I read the Bible, I'd remember some fun insight or nugget about it to share the next day at work. Of late, I've not done that, because I can't really remember. I dearly want to proclaim His glories among the people with whom I work. Hence, my summer of reading recovery.

I will meditate on Your precepts And regard Your ways. I shall delight in Your statutes; I shall not forget Your word. (Psalm 119:15-16)


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Magnet Fun and Irresistible Grace

First, the original intent of the video, to show science. Here is the original poster's comment:
Nice slow-motion footage of smaller magnets engulfing larger magnets. The self-organization is beautiful to watch...
I love magnets. Don't you love magnets? I remember in grade school, science lessons where they gave you magnets to experiment with. It was fun and absorbing.

As is this video is absorbing, mesmerizing, actually!



And now for the spiritual twist. As I was watching the little magnets be drawn to the Master Magnet, I was reminded of the verse from John 12:32,

"And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself."

Salvation is like that in the video. The little magnets were minding their own business, at enmity with God, apart from Him. And along comes Jesus, inexorably drawing the ones He has elected since before the foundation of the world, to draw unto His grace, His body, his faith.
"God’s grace is so powerful that it has the capacity to overcome our natural resistance to it." RC Sproul

Think on that ladies. He sought us, easily overcame our formidable enmity, cleaned us with His righteousness, and is now interceding for us at the throne as we draw ever nearer to Him!

Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25).

There is nothing that will happen to us today that is stronger than that reality.

All that the Father giveth me will come to me. (John 6:37).


Wednesday, June 13, 2018

He did this ... so He could do this

Satan tempted Jesus with hunger. (Matthew 4:3)

Satan tempted Jesus with suicide. (Matthew 4:6).

Satan tempted Jesus with power. (Matthew 4:9).

Satan tempted Jesus with life, to avoid the cross. (Matthew 16:23).

Jesus resisted it all, answered with the word of God. He remained sinless, never falling into any of satan's wiles.

He went to the cross, taking all of God's wrath, dying as a humiliated sacrifice, separated in darkness for hours, "Father why have you forsaken me?" and then He died.

He did this,

Illustration by Chris Powers, fullofeyes.com
The Father resurrected Jesus. He took our wrath because God placed our sin onto Him...He gave us His righteousness, which we could never possess). Double imputation. (2 Corinthians 5:21).

So He could do this:

Robe of Righteousness by Lars Justinen

Let us take a moment to praise, honor, and glorify our precious Savior.




Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Mailbag: Do people who commit suicide go to hell?




Today's question was Do people who commit suicide go to hell?

The query came on the heels of fashion designer and celebrity Kate Spade's suicide on June 5, 2018 and celebrity chef, television personality, and author Anthony Bourdain's apparent suicide on June 8. It was a devastating week for those two families, their work families, and the watching world. Once again people questioned why, if someone has it all, depression still creeps and suicide becomes a solution. The Christian knows it is the vanity of vanities to pursue all of life's offerings without Christ, it only ever adds up to emptiness. One should read Ecclesiastes for wisdom on emptiness in life without Christ.

But the non-Christian world still reels in shock when they look to the pinnacle of success, see their idols up there, only to see them cast it all away and tumble.

David Leavitt, a freelance writer for CBS, Yahoo, and the Examiner, tweeted,
If you’re religious, then you believe there’s a special place in hell or purgatory for people like Anthony Bourdain who take their own lives.
His is a common view if one has been raised Catholic. They teach that to take one's own life (and anyone helping to take a life) is in mortal sin. A mortal sin means you've now lost your salvation forever. They base their teaching not on the Bible, but on principles that the Christian can identify with nonetheless. For example, to take one's life is to assert lordship over it, when it is God who gives and takes life. It is God who counts your days and sets the boundary line for when you step into eternity. Suicide also lets down the people you are connected to, either family by blood or church family by Jesus' blood. We are each given the gift of the Holy Spirit to operate with in the gifts the Spirit in us has dispensed, and to take one's life leaves a hole in the family fabric where God has installed you. Even the Christian can understand that suicide is a heavy sin.

But can we go so far as the Catholic to say that a Christian who takes his own life for sure will go to hell? No. Again, no. If a person is indeed saved by faith, they can never lose their salvation. The Spirit indwelling us is the secure guarantee of that. (Ephesians 1:14, 2 Corinthians 1:22).

We are careful with terms here, the original tweet said the religious believe there is a special place in hell for the successful suicide. Muslims actually believe jihadi suicide in Allah's name gets you INTO heaven, so, not 'religious', but if one is Catholic, then they do believe there’s a special place in hell or purgatory for people like suicides.

Christians know than any person would be in hell only because they rejected the Gospel. The people in hell are the people who died in sin and not in Christ. The only unforgivable sin is rejecting the offer of salvation by Jesus. It stands to reason, though, that any other sin is possible for a Christian to still commit.

Can a truly Christian person even contemplate suicide, let alone successfully throw their life away? Perhaps, or perhaps not. It is not for me to say. I do believe that it's possible there are many Christians struggling with depression. Charles Spurgeon famously struggled with depression, though he never attempted suicide.

Suicide is detailed in the Bible. Many people did kill themselves. Judas, King Saul, King Saul's armor bearer, and many others. They were all men and they were all apostasizing or non-believers. No truly saved person is documented in the Bible as attempting or carrying out suicide, not even King David in the throes of his deepest depression. Jonah in fact, though seemingly depressed and unhappy, pleaded for his life in the belly of the whale.
Observations;
All of the biblical examples of successful suicide are men.
All of the biblical examples are dubious characters and none are personally praised for their actions.
All were spiritually bankrupt or went through a period of spiritual collapse before their suicide.
Many of the biblical examples were in pain and/or afraid before suicide.
Scripture generally presents these examples of suicide as a fitting end to a wicked and unrepentant life (cf. Judg. 9:56; 1 Ki. 16:19). (Source)

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote an enduring and classic Christian book called Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure. He and preached on spiritual depression also, here. The entire series of 24 sermons on spiritual depression is here.

I think suicidal deaths could be the group referred to in 1 Corinthians 3:15,

If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

Here, Paul was teaching about the levels of rewards in heaven. Believers will appear before Christ to account for their lives, how they worked for His glory and in what level of obedience. Any person's work that is not worthy will be burned up and works done in His name that glorify Him will be turned to gold and silver. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

In verse 15, there will be people who will have all their works burned up. Will some of those people lose their rewards because they ended their own life, effectively supplanting God for their own will be done, to the uttermost? Perhaps, because in throwing their own life away, they thus became God of their own days. It may be also that in so doing, they threw away all their works done in His name, their rewards, too. What else could engender a complete loss of rewards? Even the thief on the cross made three good stabs at bearing fruit; confessing his guilt, proclaiming Jesus as Christ, and rebuking the other thief for his blasphemies. It may well be that 1 Corinthians refers to some people who ended their life and thus, though salvation is eternal, they lost their reward in heaven.

David Murray with 7 Questions about Suicide and Christians, and many other good and helpful resources on that page.

The recent suicides are truly sad. It is written in the news reports that Bourdain was seeking help but had ignored his doctor's advice. However, it is also reported that Kate Spade was doing everything right, heeding doctor advice, calling and checking in with her family. She still went through with it.

The ultimate tragedy and one that is unalterable, is that if a non-believer seeks suicide as a solution to their pain or despair, they wake up the next second in worse pain, unimaginable pain, and one that they can never escape. Not because they committed suicide, but because they had rejected Christ. Their hopelessness will go on and on.

In the Christian, depression is real, spiritual depression is real. One never knows what is going on in the mind of another. But we do have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16). The best we can do is encourage each other, come along side to help and love. We are not alone, we are tied with a threefold cord of scarlet to the King of eternal life. Cling to that.


Monday, June 11, 2018

Prata's Place: Graceful Garlands 42: Sanctified Savings

The title for my pithy sayings comes from Proverbs 1:8-9,

Hear, my son, your father’s instruction,
and forsake not your mother’s teaching,
for they are a graceful garland for your head
and pendants for your neck.


Click to enlarge




Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sunday Word of the Week 2: Transcendence



A theological term referring to the relation of God to creation. God is "other," "different" from His creation. He is independent and different from His creatures (Isaiah 55:8-9). He transcends His creation. He is beyond it and not limited by it or to it.
Source unknown, found at Bible.org

Transcendence: God's separateness or otherness from the creation and the human race.
Source Biblical Doctrine, MacArthur & Mayhue Eds


Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36).

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)

Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? (Job 11:7).





Saturday, June 9, 2018

Christian feminism coming home to roost: Retrospective from 6 years ago

Today in evangelical circles we are dealing with an unthinkable situation: serious discussions of the possibility of a female President of the Southern Baptist Convention, and it's Beth Moore of all people. I don't think it will actually happen, but the trail has been blazed. The tweets have been sent. News articles have been written. The discussions have been significant. The possibility has been raised and not rejected. Next time the discussions will go further. That is the nature of sin.

We are reading news articles like this:
The Case for Electing Beth Moore President of the SBC

and seeing tweets like this:

russell moore

And we wonder, how did we get here? Slowly, incrementally, just as all sin happens. Sin has been tolerated, and once the camel has his nose under the tent, soon he enters fully.

Back in 2012 I wrote about how this creeping feminism would affect and harm the greater body. I said that the constant scenes of forward living women preaching and teaching men, being CEO of their own corporations ministries, globe-trotting, leaving children at home, and living lives that in the secular world are be called feminist, will come to roost.

Well, it has.

What you read below is an edited and updated post of what I wrote in 2012. I pray that God has mercy on the young women who see the Christian feminists and become confused as to their roles. I pray that He is forbearing and patient a while longer, so the Bible teachers who live these Christian feminist lives would come to repentance. I pray He has mercy on the husbands who allow it. God did give the metaphorical Jezebel time to repent, and her daughters too, in Revelation 2 letter to the church at Thyatira. But He also threatened to strike her and her followers dead if they did not, and to repay those who tolerated her according to their deeds. Sin of whatever nature is serious, as when it is in the form of tolerating a false prophetess!
_____________________________

There are some celebrity woman Bible teachers today who say that they live a life of biblical womanhood but their lives show something different- and it's equal to the secular feminists. Let's take a look at what the new Christian feminism is.

"A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" was the feminist motto of the 1970s. The implication was that women didn't 'need' a man at all.

Readers of the blog already know that I am not a fan of feminism. I wrote an essay called "The Eternal Discontent of Feminists", in which I looked at the hypocritical standard secular feminists themselves apply to other women who are perceived as not doing feminism right. That, more than anything, lets us know that feminism is not about equal rights for women, it is about satan's sowing of discontent among women and causing a division away from the Godly roles He has set up.

Feminism has encroached into Christianity. I think most people are still slumbering because I haven't seen a hue and cry against it. Granted, it is subtle, especially in the women who claim to be evangelical in words but actually live a feminist life.
Source
There are now a number of popular Bible teachers/preachers who travel widely, filling arenas, marketing their books, selling their products, and leaving the husband at home to take care of the kids. These women have assumed the lead role in the marriage and are the main breadwinner, and/or the husband is the helpmeet, usually having set aside his career to work in his wife's corporation ministry. While these women call what they are doing "ministry," I call it "feminism".

As with so much in evangelical Christianity, the waters are increasingly muddied on what should be clear. What is biblical womanhood? In today's world is it the Bible preaching, sometimes ordained woman, traveling cross country, her husband at home helping with the kids, often having quit his job to help his famous wife perform her ministry?

Or it is a woman with a terribly flawed view of the Bible who sits in a tent when she has per period as a practice for what it was like to be a woman of the Bible for one year?

Or it is a new feminist who is open to women being ordained, to preaching, and/or to acceptance of gays into leadership positions while touting the rising up of women from subjugated roles?

There is something in between. It's women who claim to be submitted Christian wives who just happen to teach the Bible but really are feminists living a life Gloria Steinem would envy. They are a new crop of what I'll call Christian secret feminists. They live a feminist life inside of Christianity but call it ministry.

One woman who has much to answer for about this new role is Beth Moore. She was the one who broke new ground in how far a woman could go in attaining celebrity status, in workplace and homelife gender reversals, in being the main and sustained breadwinner of the family, and pr/teaching in a church and in the world. Mrs Moore, while speaking conservative values cloaked in all the right Christianese, lives a very forward life. You will see more details on this below.

A spiritual daughter of Mrs Moore in this generation of new Christian secret feminists is Christine Caine. Mrs Caine's language is less cloaked in her declarations of what women can or should see as their roles in Christian home and work life. Mrs Caine is an ordained minister and part of Hillsong Church in Australia.

For example, in an interview reassuring Pastor's wives that despite Caine's visible usurpation of the traditional husband-wife roles, that their stay-at-home role is still viable: "Predominantly I might teach a little bit and I step out into what would be the more classic leadership gift, so a lot of people say 'I'm not that, so therefore I must not have a role to play...'"

It is no wonder that woman are confused when they see leaders or peers taking on the 'classic leadership gift'. And that is one way they cloak their rebellion in Christianese: it is not a role or a job, it is a 'gift'.

Christine continues in the interview by acknowledging that there are "women who are gentle and loving and nurturing", and there are other "women who come along side and do a bit more "non-gentle prodding help people go to the next level." But that in "no way diminishes your role."

Really? Sure it does. It sets up women to be discontent. By justifying herself in the leadership role as a gift from God (and who can argue with that?) and acknowledging that there are 'levels' and women need to get to, but at the same time saying it is important to stay at home and be nurturing...she has completely confused any listener as to the clear guidelines of the notion of what Biblical womanhood is. She says one thing (and not too clearly, either) and does another.

Jennie Allen is founder of of If:Gathering and one of the youngest of the feminist-living ladies on this list. IF is a tax exempt corporation, and shows founder Jennie as President and CEO, working 40/hours week, with husband Zac as board chair working 10 hours week. Allen is quoted in Christianity Today article as saying, "We’ve been slow to step into our giftedness or strengths. For a long time, that wasn’t an option," said Allen."

Discernment tip: one way to detect if a person is in the Word is to see if what they say and what they do match up over time. If what they say and what they do are different, run away.

Mrs Caine's reassurances use a neat scriptural twist. The way satan works with any woman's objection to women taking on home or ministry leadership roles is to acknowledge that the women feel weak or unsure in them, but to get around it by assuring them that all they need to do is have courage to step out and let Jesus work through their weakness, citing 2 Corinthians 12:9. Or simply as Jennie Allen encourages, 'just do it because the time is now'.

In that same interview, Mrs Caine said, "The only way I was able to continue in my role is that my senior pastor's wife stepped into her role and chose not to be threatened or intimidated because the giftings were different."

Oh, I get it. Women are now complementarians to each other. It's the height of irony that again, unwittingly, Mrs Caine acknowledges that these new 'roles' set up discontent and that she is glad that in her situation at least, the pastor's wife wasn't jealous of her fabulous gift of leadership. A good portion of the middle of the interview is Caine's description of how women are to be complementarian of each other in church settings. One takes the wifely nurturing role so that the younger ones coming up can step out, so to speak.

Now, female support between and among ministries is a good thing, and it is biblically commanded. (Titus 2:4) but the description in Titus is for elder women to teach the younger is in their biblically defined helpmeet role, not to be a helpmeet to other women who usurp into classic male roles. It is another twist of using the Bible to justify what is not proper.

Priscilla Shirer is another of these new Christian secret feminists whose life is more forward than their spiritual mothers. I've posted this before but it bears repeating:

"This NY Times article notes that "Priscilla Shirer’s marriage appears to be just the sort of enlightened partnership that would make feminists cheer."

The article describes what makes the liberal and secular newspaper and their readership, cheer. Mr Shirer, who quit his job to serve his wife's organization ministry,  spends much of the day negotiating Priscilla's speaking invitations and her book contracts. In the afternoon it’s often Mr Shirer who collects the boys from school. Back home, Priscilla and Jerry divide chores and child care equally.
"Jerry quit his job to run his wife’s ministry. Priscilla now accepts about 20 out of some 300 speaking invitations each year, and she publishes a stream of Bible studies, workbooks and corresponding DVDs intended for women to read and watch with their girlfriends from church. Jerry does his share of housework and child care so that Priscilla can study and write. He travels with his wife everywhere. Whenever possible, they take their sons along on her speaking trips, but they often deposit the boys with Jerry’s mother,"' states the article.
If you delete the name Priscilla Shirer and substitute Gloria Steinem, and change the word ministry to job you have a description of a life that any feminist would be proud of.

By now Beth Moore is one of the elders in this realm. At age 60, Moore has been "on the ministry circuit" for almost 20 years. Thus, her rebellious example has been long in view for many women who have watched her since they were an impressionable teen. So is Sheryl Brady and Joyce Meyer. Those women were the trailblazers for women in male leadership ministry. Newcomers arriving on the scene such as Priscilla Shirer or Christine Caine, and the younger Rachel Held Evans and Jennie Allen, have learned from the best of the Christian secret feminists. For example:

Beth Moore said to Christianity Today in 2010 that her man demanded a regular home life so she only travels every other Friday and comes right back home the next day.

"We walk the dogs together and eat out together all the time and lie on the floor with pillows and watch TV," Moore says. "My man demanded attention and he got it, and my man demanded a normal home life and he got it."
Aww, isn't that nice. But it's disingenuous in the extreme. The reality is that Mrs Moore is not only gone from home at least 20 times per year on her Living Proof tours, which is a lot if you have kids and a husband. Mrs Moore appears weekly on the Life Today television show, travels for weeks on book tours, where she expounds on the burning question all women in America are apparently asking, "How can women find validation without a man’s affirmation?" and which her book So Long, Insecurity apparently attempts to answer.

She also spends extended private time for weeks in a cabin by herself in Wyoming to write (as stated in the preface to "When Godly People Do Ungodly Things"). She is the President of her own company that in 2011 brought in 4.1 million dollars, with an excess after expenses of 1.3M, stated working hours of 40/week. If you think all she does is lay around on pillows gazing adoringly at her man then all I can say is look at what she does, not what she says.  Beth Moore is a Christian secret feminist because for years she has lived that way, no matter what blather she tells Christianity Today.

It is no wonder women are confused when they see Beth Moore telling us that you can have it all, and still be a Christian woman, if you call it ministry. Enjoli.

Rachel Held Evans "is one of the better known Christian writers in mainline and progressive circles these days. Her book examines what it would mean to live life as a woman according to the Biblical laws for a year. It’s in the vein of books like AJ Jacobs' “The Year of Living Biblically” and other “human guinea pig” projects. The book is funny, thoughtful and empowering for women seeking to understand where they fit within a faith that has largely been controlled by men for centuries" writes Patheos.

Ms Evans says she is an accidental feminist, writing on her blog, "Most of all, if these critics knew me, they would know that it isn’t feminism that inspires me to advocate gender equality in the Church and in the world; it is the gospel of Jesus Christ."

That seems to be another approach to justifying Christian feminism, "it was an accident", or "God surprised me with this ministry" as Priscilla Shirer says, as if stating that since it was all out of their hands they are not nor will be morally and spiritually culpable on the Lord's day of Judgment. I can assure Mrs Evans that Jesus did not deliver the Gospel by His blood so she could use it to promote a different role for women than He has already ordained.

We have looked at some of today's most popular Christian secret and open feminists, the old guard and the new pups coming up. I offered you some examples from their own statements of how their lives in reality more match the secular world's view of a strong feminist woman rather than the biblical helpmeet.

The old saying from the 70s, "A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" was the feminist motto. Now the only difference for today's Christian secret feminist is the logo on her purse.
Christian feminists part 2
Christian feminists Part 3

Friday, June 8, 2018

Lessons from Blind Bartimaeus – Keep crying out

This first was published on The End Time in October 2011. It's a lesson we need more than ever today, 8 years later and the world grows ever more hostile to Christianity and the name of Jesus.


It’s a tough crowd these days, isn’t it? Lots of people are hard of hearing when it comes to Jesus, sin, and things of faith. Atheists and agnostics are heart-hardened, and even more so these days. Liberal Christians are hardened to Jesus, too. They want to stop talking about hell, sin, judgment, and courts, but only speak of love, peace, joy, and freedom. They, and their mouth-pieces, the ACLU and the like, tell Christians to sit down and shut up. Others simply warn, “stop saying that!” But we won’t.

As the cursed world spirals ever downward to its prophesied end, physical illness, cataclysmic wrath events like tornadoes and floods keep happening, spiritual darkness hovers over families, we might be tempted to give up crying out to Jesus for comfort and help. Don't cease crying out night and day. Persevere in prayer and petition.

Consider Bartimaeus—
[Blind Bartimaeus]began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Many were sternly telling him to be quiet, but he kept crying out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” And Jesus stopped and said, “Call him here.” So they called the blind man, saying to him, “Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you.” Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up and came to Jesus. And answering him, Jesus said, “What do you want Me to do for you?” And the blind man said to Him, “Rabboni, I want to regain my sight!” And Jesus said to him, “Go; your faith has made you well.” (Mark 10:47-52)

Son of David was a Messianic title. The blind man’s choice to address Jesus that way was an immediate indicator that the blind man knew who Jesus is. His very next comment was a plea for mercy. Sinners know they need mercy, and this blind man knew he was a sinner, and that Jesus could dispense mercy to him.

But the people were shouting loudly for the blind beggar to sit down and shut up. I can just hear them say, “Hush! You’re making a scene“…when the crowd and the noise and the scene around Jesus must have been unlike any other near Jerusalem, ever! And they were telling the blind man to be quiet, over all that noise…that is how inappropriate they thought he was being. But would the blind man be quiet? No. He shouted LOUDER.

Jesus stopped, and He called for them to bring the man to Him. Just as He told the disciples not to shush the children but bring them to Him instead, (Mark 10:14) He ignored the people’s warnings for the man to be quiet and said for him to be brought.

The world will call for evangelical Christians to be quiet and that is precisely the time when the world most needs to hear of sin, and the remedy for it, Jesus. Keep shouting, make a joyful noise, sing, rejoice, make a clamor! We shout redemption! We shout pardon from sin’s judgment! We shout the cross and Him crucified! Told to be quiet, we shout louder! We have the Good News, we see Jesus coming, we call out, take courage, stand up!

Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zech 9:9)

O clap your hands, all peoples; Shout to God with the voice of joy.” (Psalm 47:1)

They raise their voices, they shout for joy; from the west they acclaim the LORD’s majesty” (Isaiah 24:14)

Recognize the Messiah, son of David, and shout to Him for your own salvation! Your faith will save you.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

An encouragement

We see the collapse of denominations and the fluidity of gender, the perverted homosexual agenda and the perverted Christian agenda, the child nappings and the teen drownings, volcanoes exploding and lava flowing, deaths and suicides...and more. The news of the world and the news inside the Christian bubble are both troubling and saddening.

Yet we have hope.

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. (1 Thessalonians 4:13)


It is good news that He loves us and is waiting to call us, His bride, home to Him soon. He is preparing the place in which we will dwell for all eternity, untainted by sin at last. We will gaze at one another through the spotless lens of the Holy One who redeemed us to Himself, and we will love Him and each other perfectly. His light will shine upon us untainted by clouds, pure as the blazing Light that shines supreme, transcendent, unmatched, our eyes shining as the reflection of His matchless glory. Angels will sing praises to Him and we will join in, love glowing out among all creation in glory, as only He can be! Why He chooses to share Himself with us, I will never know, but that knowledge and fact only makes me love Him all the more. He saved a wretch like me, and changed me from creature to daughter of God!

I sincerely hope you all are well. If you are not, then I hope that good news of what awaits us revives you, that we have the perfect assurance of the incomparable riches of His grace.


Beloved, these things are true, these things are noble, these things are just, these things are pure, these things are lovely, these things are of good report, there is virtue and they is praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil 4:8-9 paraphrased)

God will judge the unrighteous. But we love Jesus and love casts out all fear. Whoever is in Jesus has no fear, because He is GOOD! His promises are true. His mercy endures forever.

  • "The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;" Lamentations 3:25
  • "Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." Psalm 27:14
  • "In that day they will say, "Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation." Isaiah 25:9


Are you glad in His salvation? We wait, and we love, and we endure, but are we glad? He saved us! The most important person in the universe who was and is and is to come came down from his Holy Mountain to serve us, teach us and save us. He left glory to give us His righteousness. Be glad in it. Even as we wait, we have more days to rejoice in the hope in us, and to be the light to others in that hope.

It's summer. Hold your loved ones close. Have picnics, catch fireflies, dip toes in the sand, go on a road trip, read a summer book. Unplug, unwind, let go a bit if you can.

Here is something lighthearted to end what I hope is encouraging to you.





Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Stop it

This essay was published in January 2011




I listened to a great John MacArthur sermon that discussed how sin starts and what happens when we allow sin to continue without ending it at its root. MacArthur's sermon is titled "Hacking Agag to pieces" and you can listen to or read part one here, and part 2 here. I recommend it.

There is a section of the two-part hour long sermon that made me think of a Bob Newhart skit. In the skit from MadTV, Newhart is a psychologist seeing a patient for the first time. Now, here is the salient part of MacArthur's sermon about sin:
"Now what is he [Paul] saying? I'll tell you what he's saying. Stop lusting. It's not too mystical. Stop lusting. It's like 1 Corinthians 6:18, "Flee immorality." Do you want to put to death the lusts in your heart? Then stop entertaining them. Peter doesn't describe some complex program of therapy, he says quit lusting. Stop it. Put it out of your life. There's no point sitting around waiting for some heavenly power to erase lust. There's no point spending hours and hours or years and years looking for the right formula to chase away the demon of lust. Here's a most simple straight-forward means of killing sin, stop lusting...stop it. It's kind of like James 4 which says resist the devil and he'll flee from you. Stop lusting and you'll stop sinning."

Here is the Newhart piece which I believe makes a great companion to the MacArthur point about sin. Watch the first 2:40:



If you want to get the impact of the point, then listen to MacArthur's full part one of 'Hacking Agag to pieces'. Then think of the Newhart skit. We laugh at the moment when Newhart says "STOP IT!" but there is truth to those words. We engage in self-indulgent therapies for sins we maintain are generated outside of our bodies, not inside. We let them linger, run around, placate them because those sins are 'not our fault'. But MacArthur is right. There is no complex therapy that will help us stop sin. There is no divining rod to pass over us to erase it. It is up to us to stop it at the root. And that root is our thoughts. Do not think about your lusts. Do not entertain thoughts of them. STOP IT.

"Easy for you to say that!" you might make a charge against me. But I've been there. I'm still there. I have to work really really hard at not letting sinful thoughts enter into my head. When I find them, I have to work at telling my brain to "STOP IT". It's work. Paul said in Romans 6:12 "Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts." Do not. It is as simple as that. "Present yourselves to God as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God." If you put on your armor, resist the devil, and guard your thoughts, "For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." (Romans 6:13b-14). And that is a very good place to be.

About the face...

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