Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Tips and resources on using Social Media

Photo Pixabay, CC

Do you feel trapped by social media? Does it make you sad, or anxious? Do you waste time? Many people say yes to all of the above.

I like social media. I have an account at Pinterest, Twitter, 2 Facebook pages- (a theological page and a personal page), two blogs (one theological and one personal) and an Instagram. My personal blog is 11 years old, my theological blog is 9 years old. I have 4,325 essays at my theological blog.

I am also on GroupMe, a mass group text messaging service. LOL I obtained my very first cell phone last month, solely for the purposes of calling AAA when my car breaks down (and is always does) and to receive church messages. I have photo accounts at Flickr and Unsplash. My account at Flickr is 11 years old and I have 1,936 pictures there. Unsplash is newer. I joined when it began, three years ago.

So you can see that I enjoy social media, to say the least. But then again, I have a lot of time, being unmarried without children. I like to stay-at-home and use the internet for witnessing in discrete and selective quantities. (I also attend church, go to small groups, disciple, and witness in real life, to be clear.) I also use it for my entertainment, having no television.

I'm old enough to remember when the internet didn't exist, and it was hard to get your message out. I mean in that era when I was unsaved, my message was my secular writing. It was hard to break the gates of publishing in the 80s and 90s. So when self-publishing on blogs and such came along in the 2000s, I was thrilled. No gatekeepers except my conscience.

Being unsaved for most of my early adult life, until age 43, I didn't have a Jesus message to share. But now that there are so many venues to share about Him and learn about Him from others' social media pages, I enjoy using it all for that purpose. I like being able to get the message itself out more widely. Therefore, I have a goal, to use social media as a platform to share the beauty and truth of Jesus Christ. I use it to encourage, exhort, teach, and edify. I use it to learn from others.

Even then, I still have to limit my use of it. Temptations abound! I think long and hard about who I am going to 'Follow' or 'Friend'. I do not want excessively negative things passing before my eyes. I liked when FB implemented an option to mute friends, that is, not to unfollow them but to not see their posts. I don't like to see continual political posts. I won't look at abortion photos. I won't follow someone rambunctious or rebellious. Constant 'woe is me' pity parties get a mute.

As for my ministries, I also work to get the me-centeredness out of my fingers typing, and stick with my goal and plans: focus on saying something scriptural, something positive about Jesus, and something encouraging to my friends and church members every day. If I don't, what is the point of all these social media accounts?

Still with all that social media can be very depressing. Often, it displays the worst of man, unsaved and saved. Here are four essays that I hope will help bring perspective and encouragement regarding social media.

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Social media requires a different kind of brain work than does sitting for long periods with a book. Personally I think the two kinds of reading are at odds. I strive to maintain the 'book reading' skills I'd taken for granted most of my life. I do feel a negative impact in this area from social media use. So does Michael Harris:

I have forgotten how to read
For a long time Michael Harris convinced himself that a childhood spent immersed in old-fashioned books would insulate him from our new media climate – that he could keep on reading in the old way because his mind was formed in pre-internet days. He was wrong

Some people take long breaks from social media, or take the drastic step of abandoning it altogether. Here, Aaron Armstrong has some tips for using (or not using):

You don’t need social media (even if your brain tells you otherwise)
This weekend, my wife and I spent a great deal of time talking about social media—specifically how she responds to it. For a few years she was on Facebook, up until a particularly negative incident led her to abandon it.

In the old Bulletin Bard days (with 300 baud, remember that? lol) something called "flame wars" would erupt. That's just internet lingo for people fighting online. Arguments are easier online because we forget there are actual people on the other side of the screen. Somewhere. Flame wars ignite on Twitter, Facebook...anywhere there are people. Here, Michael Coughlin reminds us at Things Above Us that

You Don’t Have To Enter Every Argument You’re Invited To
Everyone you meet is made in the image of God. Thus, each person you encounter has a level of dignity because of his or her Creator, and you are responsible to treat folks with respect as a consequence of this fact.

I was a journalist for almost 6 years. I hunted stories, dug up stores, investigated, published. Of course, a reporter is driven to get the story first. That drive still ignites me when a major even happens, but as a Christian, even a Christian ex-reporter/now-blogger needs to hold back and 'consider these things' first. And pray. When everyone is jumping on the bandwagon is takes maturity, patience, and wisdom to know when to speak and when not to speak. Not everyone needs to know my opinion. But then again, if we have some insight that might help a local body, then by all means publish. The wisdom is to know which to do when. Chris Martin has a few ideas for us.

3 Ways NOT to Use Social Media Immediately Following a Tragedy
I made a concerted effort to stay off of social media most of this past weekend because I was already a bit exhausted at a lot of the response I was seeing to the tragedy last Wednesday. ... I should say before I continue, what follows are my opinions. These suggestions are not stone-cold social media sins. So, take them as you will. Here are three ways NOT to use social media immediately following a tragedy:


Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Killing sin, Kay Cude poetry, and John Owen

Killing sin in ourselves is a tricky and delicate operation. How to slice marrow from bone without damaging the bone? The Holy Spirit is in us and He is the glory and purity we need, but surrounding Him inside us is all our depravity. We are so dark inside that often, we can't even see our sin!

Puritan John Owen wrote a monumental book addressing this very issue. It's called The Mortification of Sin. (1656). Mortification means, "The action of subduing one's bodily desires."

Owen wrote another monumental book called The Nature, Power, Deceit & Prevalency of Indwelling Sin In Believers. (1675). They are scriptural, convicting, towering books of the faith. They are also dense, difficult, and full of antiquated language. Sadly, for many people these books aren't read, because they are just too difficult.

 But they need to be read. To that end, Kris Lundgaard wrote a book called The Enemy Within. He said that reading Owen was difficult but he stuck with it. He said he benefited greatly from Owen's treatment of sin in us, our sin nature and the Christian's duty to slay it. He knew though, that the many Christians would likely not read Owen, of if s/he started, would probably give up. It's a slog. (I can testify to that, I tried to read Mortification of Sin and stopped).

Fervently believing that the important treatment of killing sin in ourselves, principles Owen had outlined in his book, should be available to the widest audience, Lundgaard wrote a sort of Cliff's Notes to the Owen book on Indwelling Sin. It's an adaptation of Owen's work, modernized and synopsized. Hence his title, The Enemy Within. This and other books by Lundgaard are -
adaptations of works by English Puritan John Owen [1616-1683]. Someone has suggested these books should be subtitled: "John Owen for Dummies" (not to be confused with John Owen’s original works that simply make most of us feel like dummies). 
I had to read with a dictionary in one hand and Owen in the other, and until I got the hang of his style I had to read many sentences several times over. But the value of Owen had been undersold: I was underlining more than half of every page. In his works on Temptation, Indwelling Sin, and Mortification, my heart was being laid bare. How did he know me so well? 
But he didn’t just cut me up and leave me to pick up the pieces. He offered help, strong medicine—lots of strong medicine. And by God’s grace things began to change for me. I’ll always be grateful to Owen for that—I hope to tell him so when I see him. 
Owen’s ability to exegete my heart overwhelms me. He exposes my flesh’s defense strategies, which leaves me vulnerable—vulnerable to the gospel. He doesn’t just tear down; he builds up. And he helps me to see Christ more clearly, so that I may adore him more fully. Lundgaard in an interview with Tony Reinke
I have read half Lundgaard's book. I'm 6 1/2 chapters into a 13 chapter book. It's highly readable, and it's helpful. It actually makes me want to read Owen! I've got both of Owen's books queued up at Amazon for purchase. Killing sin in ourselves, an essential subject.

Meanwhile, my friend and poet Kay Cude had sent me her latest piece. She didn't know I was reading The Enemy Within. The topic of her poem is about indwelling sin. How perfectly providential! She wrote,
A "take heed" to my fellow beloved redeemed in Christ from my personal experience of walking in the flesh and being caught in its snare. The immediate results were heart-wrenching and slammed me to my knees. And that is good place from where to repent and examine myself as I look up into the face of the forgiveness and mercy of God.
I was quite taken by her poem. This is a wonderful piece of poetry inspired by scripture reading and life application. Please take a moment to bask in this quality work. There are further resources at the bottom of the picture. Click to enlarge.


Kill your sin, or it be killing you.


Monday, February 26, 2018

Prophecy: The restrainer and salt

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you, brothers, 2not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God. 5Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:1-7).

I posted the full passage so that you can read the main verse under discussion today in context. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.

The Second Letter to the Thessalonians was a very early letter. Paul wrote it in about AD 51, just a few months after he had written his first letter to the church at Thessalonika. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul had obviously spent some time teaching the new Christians in their new church about the end times. Now, there's proof positive that eschatology is not only for the mature, nor is it a marginal doctrine to be learned after all the other, more important doctrines have been taught. Paul launched right in to teaching about the rapture and the Day of the LORD (The Tribulation) to the newest Christians. He reminded them in the 2nd letter about the important points, probably to refute false teachers who had come in to tell the Thessalonians that the Day of the LORD had come.

Dr Nathan Busenitz, The Master's University

By the way, this is another proof the rapture will happen before the Tribulation. If the sequence of events was that the rapture happens at the end of the Day of the LORD, why were the Thessalonians so concerned and sought Paul's advice? They should have been happy. And encouraged.

Why did Paul have to calm them down and remind them of what he had already taught? And further, the pre-tribulation rapture was supposed to be an encouragement. (1 Thessalonians 4:18) if the sequence was post-tribulation rapture then they should have been encouraged, not concerned, becuase it was almost here.

Today's verse involves the One who restrains. In the passage above, Paul is describing someone who is powerful enough to restrain the man of Sin (antichrist) and to restrain sin itself. Who is powerful enough to do that? No human, certainly. The Holy Spirit.

Paul is saying here that when the Holy Spirit ceases His ministry of restraining sin, the Man of Perdition will be revealed. The Tribulation will come into full swing.

Barnes' Notes describes the restraining ministry's effect:
It was some power which operated as a check on the growing corruptions then existing, and which prevented their full development, but which was to be removed at no distant period, and whose removal would give an opportunity for these corruptions to develop themselves, and for the full revelation of the man of sin. 
Did you ever stop to think about the restraining power the Spirit does while He is inside of us,the Church, while we are on earth?  We hear people say that America is or was "A Christian Nation." No, we never were. But it seemed like we were because so many people were Christians. Many of those were not, of course, but they modeled the precepts and behaved morally because so many other Christians were around. They might have had poor motivations to behave as a Christian, for business purposes, or for a social network, of for help with provision, but nevertheless, they adopted an external morality because that was the way to get along in society. Cultural pressure was brought to bear. The real Christians acted as salt.

We see this in 2 Corinthians 10:15. "We do not boast beyond limit in the labors of others. But our hope is that as your faith increases, our area of influence among you may be greatly enlarged," When the crisis at Corinth as resolved, Paul expanded the ministry to new areas.

Salt is preservative holding back decay. We are that salt. Each Christian with the Holy Spirit in him or her, acts as salt in the world. Salt prevents flesh from putrefying. When the Holy Spirit ceases His major ministry of restraining sin, and then He takes us out of the world in the rapture, each of us as a little salt crystal-Christian will disappear. There will be nothing left to stop the remaining flesh from corrupting. When we are removed the sin of the flesh will blossom, and quickly.

To be sure, the Holy Spirit is the power. We're not. But us as little salt sprinkles around the world...when we AND the Spirit are removed out of the way, pow! Sin will be unrestrained in the world. Just think on it.



Sunday, February 25, 2018

Hate Week Essay #7: Hating Jesus, once

Hate week essay #1
Hate week essay #2
Hate week essay #3
Hate week essay #4
Hate week essay #5
Hate week essay #6


For we also once were foolish ourselves, disobedient, deceived, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, spending our life in malice and envy, hateful, hating one another. Titus 3:3

I was saved in my early 40's. I vividly remember my antipathy toward Jesus for most of my adult life. I conceded that there was likely a God, that part was easy. Just look at the Creation. It's obvious someone made it all.

A distant God who didn't meddle in my affairs, but was intelligent, provided this earth to dwell on, and was amiable in His looking down at us was the God I'd made up in my mind.

The notion that God judged, was involved in our affairs, and created heaven and hell as well as earth, was unconscionable to me. I was a good example of the people described in Romans 1:21.

The Jesus, blood, sin, wrath, resurrection thing was beyond me. I thought the cross was ridiculous and gross. I wanted nothing to do with any part of the Jesus story. I hated Jesus with all my body, soul, strength, and mind. As a result, I hated others too, as the verse says. This world is full of haters, the satanic hatred only the unregenerate, darkened heart knows.

I was a terrible sinner, going about my sins, cherishing them, justifying them, and loving them. I hated Jesus and I loved my sin. I hated others, as the verse today states.

Thus, unbeknownst to me, I had many woes laying on my shoulders, for doesn't the scripture say-

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! (Isaiah 5:20)

I was in this wretched state when in His timing, God sent the Holy Spirit to open my eyes. I suddenly saw my sin and it was terrible. I cried out to God, yet He had even given me the voice and the urging to do it. Though I'd spent so long in the wilderness, darkened and debased, He loved me. My hate for Him was deep and abiding, but His love for me was everlasting.

Anyone who is saved now hated Jesus once, also. In our daily lives we often get so busy that we forget this great love and our former great hate, at least I do. Would you love anyone who hates you outright? My goodness, that's a tough one. We're called to, but actual implementation of it, even to our death, is something that mystifies me. Yet Jesus did it. He lay down His life for His friends, gave himself totally to His Father for our benefit. He died for people who hated him with a worldly, satanic hate.

Let our hate go. We should harbor none of it in ourselves after salvation. We should only hate the things that Jesus hates. As our sanctification grows, our worldly hatreds diminish because love increases. The scale should be moving in the other direction. Giving up worldly hatreds is hard, but look at the sweet exchange. We can all cry out as David did,

Remember not the sins of my youth or my transgressions; according to your steadfast love remember me, for the sake of your goodness, O LORD! (Psalm 25:7)



Hate week essay #1
Hate week essay #2
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Hate week essay #4
Hate week essay #5
Hate week essay #6

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Hate Week Essay #6: When will we hate Jesus? Answer inside

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

Jesus is an all-or-nothing proposition. This is because He is all. He is the all in all (Colossians 3:11). He is everything good, He is sufficient. Nothing should compete with Him, hence the warning about two masters.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible
No man can serve two masters ... - Christ proceeds to illustrate the necessity of laying up treasures in heaven from a well-known fact, that a servant cannot serve two masters at the same time. His affections and obedience would be divided, and he would fail altogether in his duty to one or the other. One he would love, the other he would hate. To the interests of the one he would adhere, the interests of the other he would neglect. This is a law of human nature. The supreme affections can be fixed on only one object.
Please be aware of any growing idols in your (and my) life, whom you (and I) are serving. We cannot have two masters else we will hate the one. Jesus is too precious to risk hating Him, even if for a short while before realizing and then repenting.

Answer to the Title's question: We will hate Jesus when we serve another master.



Friday, February 23, 2018

Hate Week Essay #5: Jesus said to hate our family? Can this be true?

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:26).

This seem harsh. This seems contradictory to the God of Love that we know Jesus to be. So what can it mean?

By the way, that its the first question we should ask when we see something we don't understand in the Bible, or when we see something that seems to contradict. There are no contradictions in the Bible. If we can't reconcile two verses, i.e. 'God is love' and 'hate your mother' or 'Honor your mother and father' but 'hate your mother' then there is something I must do to understand it, because I'm wrong.

I like Gill's Commentary. Many commentaries are available for free at biblehub.com. There are concordances, lexicons, devotionals, and more.

Gill's says of the Luke verse:
and hate not his father and mother, and wife and children, and brethren and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple: not that proper hatred of any, or all of these, is enjoined by Christ; for this would be contrary to the laws of God, to the first principles of nature, to all humanity, to the light of nature, to reason and divine revelation:
but that these are not to be preferred to Christ, or loved more than he, as it is explained in Matthew 10:37
Ohhhh! Getting clearer now.

A parallel verse was mentioned so let's take a look at it. Scripture interprets scripture. Commentaries are helpful, but scripture is best. That's where parallel verses come in.

He that loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:37)

Christ should be primary in life and love. Paul carries this sense of highest love for one, that by comparison it's hate for the other in Romans 9:13-

As it is written, "Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated."

The verse to which Paul was referring is from Malachi 1:2-3. GotQuestions is helpful here,
So, considering the context, God loving Jacob and hating Esau has nothing to do with the human emotions of love and hate. It has everything to do with God choosing one man and his descendants and rejecting another man and his descendants. God chose Abraham out of all the men in the world. The Bible very well could say, "Abraham I loved, and every other man I hated."

Yes, context is king when studying scripture. The Malachi/Romans verse isn't referring to one man, but nations from one man.
There's one more parallel verse to the Luke verse I'd posed at the start. John 12:25-

Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

S Lewis Johnson of Believers Chapel Dallas had preached on this verse. He's a preacher I like.He explained-
What does he mean by that? Why, you know he means that it is possible for us to be so desirous of life as we want to live it that we actually are unfruitful in our lives. We may desire the kind of existence that we desire, we want the world’s wealth, we want the world’s power, we want the world’s pleasure, we want the world’s glory, we want to live our lives as we wish to live them and that’s right, you may live for a time but you abide alone. ... In other words, if you want to keep your life you can keep it, but you’ll lose it. And if you’re willing to lose your life, if you are willing to have your set of priorities such that Jesus Christ is first in your life, then you’ll gain it. And furthermore, you will gain it unto life eternal and fruitfulness.
Hate is complicated, isn't it? There's things God hates, things we should hate because God does, the world's hate, our hatred of even our parents or our own life in comparison to the life we should live in Christ...

The Bible is an endless wealth and treasure of precepts and doctrines, all pointing to the One alone who is worthy: Jesus Christ. Emmanuel, God with us. Our love for Him should be the primary orientation of our lives.



Thursday, February 22, 2018

Hate Week Essay #4: Hate Equals Darkness

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. (1 John 2:9)

What does this mean? Can we hate our brother if we're saved? I thought our lives were supposed to be characterized by love?

Yes, that is true, but the sin nature is still inside us, crouching at the door and waiting to leap. Since our lives are supposed to be characterized by love, our lives should reflect the highest and best love: love for Jesus and love for our brethren. Sadly, it doesn't always happen that way.

Else, as Paul put rhetorically but actually to the Corinthians,

For I fear that perhaps when I come I may find you not as I wish, and that you may find me not as you wish—that perhaps there may be quarreling, jealousy, anger, hostility, slander, gossip, conceit, and disorder. (1 Corinthians 12:20)

Else, why would Paul admonish those who take the Lord's Supper to reconcile with brethren or examine one's self before doing so, in order that taking the Supper would not be done in an unworthy manner? (1 Corinthians 11: 27; (Matthew 5:23-24).

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary puts it simply
his brother—his neighbor, and especially those of the Christian brotherhood. The very title "brother" is a reason why love should be exercised.
The command to love one another is an old one, says John in 1 John 2, but with a new twist. John uses the analogy of light and dark throughout his epistle. The command to love is nothing new, but it is a specific and foremost spiritual test to determine who is in the faith and who is not. John MacArthur here in his sermon Live Life By a New Love:

If you hate your brother, if you hate others, if you hate those in the Kingdom, if you hate anyone essentially, if you don't see people the way God sees them then He's not in control of your heart. Love proves everything when connected to sound doctrine.
But in 1 Corinthians 15, if you don't have love it's all noise, it's all noise. So the practicality of it is, if you're a true Christian it's going to show up in your love, not perfect love, love is not going to be the perfection of your life but it will be the direction of it. You're going to have a heart of love for those around you, not a heart of hatred. You're going to want to serve those around you, not demand from them. You're going to want to help those around you, not harm them. You're going to want to come to the aid of those around you, to lift them up not to step on them. And particularly is that true among believers. If you don't have a love to be with God's people, it's a clear evidence that you're in the darkness no matter what you claim.
The Light is warm and bright, it's where love is.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Is Billy Graham in heaven?

Update: I added a link to a video and a book review. Both involve Iain Murray's book Evangelicalism Divided: A Record of Crucial Change in the Years 1950 to 2000.
The book is a historical record of the ecumenical movement in the United States and Great Britain in the latter half of the twentieth century. In it, Murray traces the developments in the ministries of several key figures in the era, most notably Billy Graham, J.I. Packer, and John Stott. His conclusion is that because of a desire to have a place at the table of ecumenical discussion, a long series of what seemed at the time to be relatively innocuous decisions eventually blurred the bright line that marks out what it means to be a Christian.
Graham has much to do with the divide, having been an active ecumenical preacher for most of his life. Graham's legacy impacted much of the evangelical world for half of the last century. Please read the review, the book, or watch the video. It's highly interesting.

Book review: https://www.9marks.org/review/evangelicalism-divided-iain-murray/
Video:Evangelicalism Divided

---------------original essay----------------

Billy Graham, aged 99, has passed away. Best known for his itinerant global evangelism, his Decision Magazine, his Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, and the popular radio show Hour of Decision from 1950 to 1954. Graham spent his life preaching to the masses.

He developed mass evangelism events that came to be known as "Crusades". His first major outdoor preaching Crusade occurred in Los Angeles in 1949, with 350,000 attending over eight weeks. Afterward, when Singer-songwriter Stuart Hamblen announced on air that he had been converted, national newspapers and radio personalities perked up over this new fiery preacher. Newspaper Magnate William Randolph Hearst telegrammed his editors across America to "puff Graham" meaning, to write pleasant and complimentary features on Graham in order to promote him. As a result, Graham rapidly became a coast-to-coast figure. His fame and name only increased since that moment, to within five years, Graham was featured on the cover of the national magazine of Time, an enormous honor for a personality in the public eye for so short a period. He retired from public Crusades in 2005.

Graham perfected the 'aisle walk' introduced by Charles Finney, usually to the tune of Just As I Am. At the conclusion of the music and preaching, Graham invited those who were seeking to "accept Christ" to stream down the aisles and speak to counselors in the front. There, they would receive further information or answers to their questions. Some would 'decide' to become Christian there on the spot.

Graham was also the author of what is now known as The Billy Graham Rule, a short version of his original Modesto Manifesto. The Manifesto was a white paper generated by Graham and his inner circle outlining a rigid set of rules to which the association would adhere as they traveled the road with the Crusade, so as to encourage accountability and limit temptation of all kinds, sexual and financial, foremost. The rules were:
  1. The Graham team would avoid any appearance of financial abuse.
  2. They would exercise extreme care to avoid the appearance of sexual impropriety.
  3. They would cooperate with any local churches that were willing to participate in a united evangelism effort.
  4. They would be honest and reliable in their publicity and reporting of results and
  5. never argue with local journalists reporting about the numbers of participants in the crusades.
Through 2016, Gallup Poll's "Most Admired Man and Woman Poll" showed Graham with 60 appearances in the top 10, the most of anyone, with eight second-place finishes.

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

The above is the Billy Graham the world knows. It is the Graham most of the evangelical world knows. But the truth is available and it's public and can be seen by those willing to look.

Mr Graham no doubt preached with fervor and intensity, at least in the early days, However soon enough, as early as 1952-54, he began to compromise his message. Some say it was even before that, when Roman Catholic Bishop Fulton Sheen took a young Graham under his wing in 1944. In 1954 Graham spoke to the Liberal Union Theological Seminary in NY, repeatedly calling his ministry "ecumenical". By 1957 Graham's split from conservative fundamentalist preachers was complete.

Graham believed that if a person was sincere enough, even if they didn't know Jesus or having repented, they would go to heaven. In fact, Graham held to what is known as a "Wider Mercy" view, that God, in the end, will have a wide mercy on all, not just those who are in Christ. He stated this not only on the Hour of Power with Robert Schuller in 1997 but to Larry King in a televised interview, and the BGEA affirmed this has been Graham's belief since 1960 when he wrote about it in his own Decision Magazine. (Source). Youtube video here.

In 2005 he refused to state the Gospel clearly and affirm Jesus' exclusivity as the Door to heaven. (source here.)

Those counselors at the front? They included people from liberal Protestant churches, rabbis, and Catholic priests. This was because in order to obtain sponsorships, Graham had promised 'we wouldn't try to compete with their churches' nor 'to draw congregants away from their churches'. Seekers would be asked which church bus they came in on or which church they attended or which friend they came with, then shuttled to the appropriate counselor. Billy's son Franklin works with Catholic priests in the same way at his events that he calls Festivals.

A major research project was done some years after the major crusade at Harringay London. It found no lasting effect from the Crusade, though there had been thousands who professed Christ at that time. Belfast native Cecil Andrews of Take Heed Ministries has more in his sensitively done video, Billy Graham, the Man & His Message.

Unfortunately, Graham's unorthodox views did not end with his denial of Jesus as exclusive way to heaven.

Graham didn't believe that a literal fire and torment was part of hell, that the virgin birth wasn't necessary for belief, and that Roman Catholics were brothers who differed with Protestants only in later church tradition. Graham was a Legalist who even threw his own daughter under the altar of popularity and reputation, reversed himself on AIDS, reversed himself on Mormonism (all when it as politically expedient), perfected "decisional regeneration," believed in baptismal regeneration, thought that not everything in the Bible was literally true, said he didn't feel called to state the dividing line between truth and false, heaven and hell (to Larry King in 1997), and more. Harry Truman called him a counterfeit in 1950. Editor-Publisher of the Sword of the Lord, John R. Rice broke with Graham in 1956.

I have many, many links and video and written newspaper proof of these assertions. They exist. I don't present them lightly. Or you can search. One wonders how many aberrant beliefs one can hold before one is declared a false teacher.

Now to turn to Matthew 7:21-23.

Jesus said,

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

I pray that Billy Graham had indeed repented in his youth and was truly saved. At the same time I don't know how someone with the Holy Spirit in them could say that if you're just sincere and know there's a God you go to heaven, even if you don't know Jesus. If that Matthew verse wasn't written for someone like Billy Graham, I don't what is. He lived a life harboring aberrant beliefs from the start, compromised the Gospel from the start, sought fame and popularity from the beginning. The world loved him. Look at these verses:

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. (John 15:19).

I repeat, the world loved him.

Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26).

I repeat, all the world speaks extremely well of Graham.

Should we be surprised that someone like Billy Graham could spend his life as a counterfeit? It's possible, if you know how deep sin goes and what the Bible says about false conversions, like the Luke verse.

What I hope is that Billy Graham will be in heaven. What I fear is, that he is not.




Hate Week Essay #3: The World will hate you

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)

The kind of hate we discussed on Monday was the kind of righteous holy hate that God has against sin, divorce, lying, and the 6 other things the Proverbs listed. On Tuesday I followed that up with looking at our hate against those things that God hates, which, mirroring our God, is also a righteous hate (hopefully).

But the world's hate comes from a completely different fountain. It comes from satan's river of hate, and the world not only drinks from that fountain, but is immersed and submerged in it.

For what reason does the world hate Jesus? He explained that in John 7:7b

but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.

The Gospel is a command. It is a command for repentance and to obedience to God. People are commanded to repent because, as the other part of the Gospel so clearly says, people's works are evil and do not please God. They will be judged one day.

No one likes to be told they are sinners, evil, and judged as wanting. In fact, the reprobate mind (as the unsaved possess) cannot understand those things. Therefore they will hate the one who tells them. They hated Jesus for it, and they hated it so much they killed Him.
Gill's Commentary: how they had expressed their hatred, not only by words, calling him a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a sinner, a Samaritan, a madman, one that had a devil, yea, Beelzebub himself, but by deeds; taking up stones to stone him more than once, leading him to the brow of an hill, in order to cast him down headlong, consulting by various means to take away his life, as Herod did in his very infancy;
And as Paul alluded to here, they will hate the Apostles and disciples for it.

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16).

Stephen told the Jewish leaders the truth, and they were cut to the heart, but as Ellicott's Commentary explains, it wasn't a righteous anger over their own sin, it was a hatred of the one who told them.
They were cut to the heart.—Literally, were sawn through and through. The word describes a keener pang than the "pricked" of Acts 2:37, producing, not repentance, but the frenzy of furious anger.
The world has a killing hatred of Christ and His people.

Some Christians think that if we make the church friendly, those who are seeking will eventually relax into repentance. But it is not so. There is no one seeking after God, no not one, Romans 3:11 says. Therefore there are no seeker friendly churches. And secondly, the Gospel is tampered with to make it palatable to those whom people think are seeking. But the Gospel is a violent thing, it commands what doesn't want to submit, it reveals what doesn't want to be revealed. It judges, it forces. Any Gospel that's changed in any aspect is no Gospel at all.

Paul said in Galatians 1:8,

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

No, we must carry the exact message the King sent to His Ambassadors, whether it's received eagerly or in rejected in hatred.

Barnes' Notes on the Bible reminds us not to be deterred.
If the world hate you - The friendship of the world they were not to expect, but they were not to be deterred from their work by its hatred. They had seen the example of Jesus. No opposition of the proud, the wealthy, the learned, or the men of power, no persecution or gibes, had deterred him from his work. Remembering this, and having his example steadily in the eye, they were to labor not less because wicked men should oppose and deride them. It is enough for the disciple to be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord, Matthew 10:25.
They hated Jesus. At some point, someone will hate you (and me) for sharing the Gospel, or for witnessing with our life and deeds. And that is good, for we would be like our Master. It's hard to slough off the world's hatred, but this world is not our home. We are from a far country, where no hatred exists, only love and devotion to our Master.



Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Hate Week Essay #2: Wisdom hates what God hates

Yesterday at the opening of Hate week, we looked at what God hates. If God declares in His word that He hates something, it's incumbent upon us to know what it is and to hate it too. We are made in His image, so we should love what He loves and Hate what He hates. We must obey Him and glorify Him. If we do the things He hates, we don't obey Him, love Him, or glorify Him. Therefore, we look into these things, as unpalatable as they are.

It couldn't be clearer in Proverbs 8:13.

The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and perverted speech I hate.

Matthew Henry explains from his Whole Commentary on the Bible, opens with saying that hating what God hates gives men good hearts. Then,
v. 13. True religion, consisting in the fear of the Lord, which is the wisdom before recommended, teaches men, 
1. To hate all sin, as displeasing to God and destructive to the soul: The fear of the Lord is to hate evil, the evil way, to hate sin as sin, and therefore to hate every false way. Wherever there is an awe of God there is a dread of sin, as an evil, as only evil.
2. Particularly to hate pride and passion, those two common and dangerous sins. Conceitedness of ourselves, pride and arrogancy, are sins which Christ hates, and so do all those who have the Spirit of Christ; every one hates them in others, but we must hate them in ourselves, 
The froward mouth*, peevishness towards others, God hates, because it is such an enemy to the peace of mankind, and therefore we should hate it. Be it spoken to the honour of religion that, however it is unjustly accused, it is so far from making men conceited and sour that there is nothing more directly contrary to it than pride and passion, nor which it teaches us more to detest.

*The froward mouth speaks false doctrines, and bad counsels and deceits.
*The froward mouth is the mouth that speaks perverse things

As the Geneva Study Bible says succinctly, "So that he who does not hate evil, does not fear God."

Kind of puts it into perspective, doesn't it?

Hate evil. This is wisdom.


Monday, February 19, 2018

Hate Week Essay #1: What the LORD Hates

Since it was Valentine's Day last week, I decided to write an essay each day on the topic of Love, as it appears in the Bible. I also write about other things as they came up, so not to worry if essays on love aren't your thing. There were other essays published too, on other topics for your perusal and hopefully edification.

Since last week was Love, why not this week, the topic of Hate?

Hate? Yes, Hate does appear in the Bible in different facets and aspects, just as Love did.

I always publish a photo along with the essay, because people are visual. But how to represent hate pictorially? I definitely did not want graphic photos of people doing hateful things. I also did not want a dark and gloomy picture every day. In the end I decided on spikes and prickly things, things that can hurt you if you stepped on them or encountered them. I made scripture pictures of gum balls (seeds from Sweet Gum tree, as below), cacti, pine cones, pine needles, Spiky, prickly things. Like hate is.

This first essay during Hate Week is examining things God hates. If God hates something, isn't it important for us to look into that so we know what He hates?

God does hate things. This is hard to understand because one of his attributes (perfections) is love. But He does hate things, sin for example, (Psalm 5:4.) Sin is the opposite of who He is, which is a Being without blemish of any kind. Sin affronts Him, angers Him.

God hates divorce. Malachi 2:16 says it just that plainly. Since marriage takes two and makes them one flesh, and since it is a picture of His Son and the Bride, tearing one flesh apart and separating the picture of the Groom from the Bride is something God hates.

Proverbs 6:16-19 has other things God hates,

There are six things that the LORD hates,
seven that are an abomination to him:
haughty eyes, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
a heart that devises wicked plans,
feet that make haste to run to evil,
a false witness who breathes out lies,
and one who sows discord among brothers.

The way the Proverb begins is a method in ancient days of speaking to gain attention, an idiom. It doesn't mean the writer is unsure of how many things God hates.

Then the numeric saying goes on to describe a man of Belial. We remember the New Testament verse from 2 Corinthians 6:15,

What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?

Strong's Concordance reminds us that the word Belial means "lord of the forest," Beliar, a name of Satan. So the Proverb describes a man of satan, a satanic character.
The numeric saying in 6:16–19 serves as an easy-to-remember rule of thumb for evaluating character. In the modern day 6:25 applies to pornography as well as to acts of adultery. Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 237).
Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible provides more information about this man of Belial and his sins which God doth hate:
1. How a man of Belial is here described. He is a wicked man, that makes a trade of doing evil, especially with his tongue, for he walks and works his designs with a froward mouth (v. 12), by lying and perverseness, and a direct opposition to God and man. He says and does every thing, 
(1.) Very artfully and with design. He has the subtlety of the serpent, and carries on his projects with a great deal of craft and management (v. 13), with his eyes, with his feet, with his fingers. He expresses his malice when he dares not speak out (so some), or, rather, thus he carries on his plot; those about him, whom he makes use of as the tools of his wickedness, understand the ill meaning of a wink of his eye, a stamp of his feet, the least motion of his fingers. He gives orders for evil-doing, and yet would not be thought to do so, but has ways of concealing what he does, so that he may not be suspected. 
He is a close man, and upon the reserve; those only shall be let into the secret that would do any thing he would have them to do. He is a cunning man, and upon the trick; he has a language by himself, which an honest man is not acquainted with, nor desires to be. 
(2.) Very spitefully and with ill design. It is not so much ambition or covetousness that is in his heart, as downright frowardness, malice, and ill nature. He aims not so much to enrich and advance himself as to do an ill turn to those about him. He is continually devising one mischief or other, purely for mischief-sake—a man of Belial indeed, of the devil, resembling him not only in subtlety, but in malice.

Why wouldn't God hate that? Of course. Yet before our salvation we were all men of Belial, speaking and thinking and acting in ways that God hated. We did those things every day and thought them normal. We justified them. We cherished them. We even reveled in those very sins that God hates. Yet He saved us. God hated what we did but because He is mercy and grace and love and wanted a Bride for His Son, He saved us, electing to save our souls from eternity past before we even performed our graceless deeds of Belial.

God is indeed love.



Sunday, February 18, 2018

The command for joy in the unlikely book of Ecclesiastes

In the book I'm reading called Living Life Backward: How Ecclesiastes Teaches us to Live in Light of the End, by David Gibson, Gibson reprinted an essay by Presbyterian minister James Russell Miller (1840-1902) called Beautiful Old Age. The writing is lyrical in the way that educated men of two centuries ago could write.

As Gibson closes out his book, we learn that Ecclesiastes teaches us that our entire being should be emanating joy. "Not to live gladly, joyfully, and not to drink deeply from the wells of abundant goodness that God has lavished on us is sin, and it is sin because it is a denial of who he is."

Further, Gibson shares,
Douglas Jones reflects on Deuteronomy 27-30, which highlights the need for covenant faithfulness, but then he points out how in this passage we stumble across the need to be faithful in joy and gladness (Deut 28:47), and we are dumbstruck. "Since when was that the pivot of reality? Certainly this has to be a divine typo."
I understand what he means. Living in joy and enjoying the blessings God has given us is not a suggestion, it is a command. We read those urgings repeatedly in Ecclesiastes. Gibson said that no parent likes to see their child's new toy remain in the box, pristine and untouched. Parents would rather see the action figure banged and dented through many pleasurable hours of enjoyment and adventures. Real relationship involves seeing another person take pleasure in gifts given, in this case, the delights of God's creation, and food and drinks and relationships and rest. (He does explain that this is not license to sin nor to live licentiously).

Here is the essay. I pray you enjoy it as much as I did.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Beautiful Old Age

This may scarcely seem a fitting theme to introduce in a book meant chiefly for the young, and yet a moment’s reflection will show its appropriateness and practicalness.

Old age is the harvest of all the years that have gone before. It is the barn into which all the sheaves are gathered. It is the sea into which all the rills and rivers of life flow from their springs in the hills and valleys of youth and manhood. We are each, in all our earlier years, building the house in which we shall have to live when we grow old. And we may make it a prison or a palace. We may make it very beautiful, adorning it with taste and filling it with objects which shall minister to our pleasure, comfort, and power. We may cover the walls with lovely pictures. We may spread luxurious couches of ease on which to rest. We may lay up in store great supplies of provision upon which to feed in the days of hunger and feebleness. We may gather and pile away large bundles of wood to keep the fires blazing brightly in the long winter days and nights of old age.

Or we may make our house very gloomy. We may hang the chamber-walls with horrid pictures, covering them with ghastly spectres which shall look down upon us and haunt us, filling our souls with terror when we sit in the gathering darkness of life’s nightfall. We may make beds of thorns to rest upon. We may lay up nothing to feed upon in the hunger and craving of declining years. We may have no fuel ready for the winter fires.

We may plant roses to bloom about our doors and fragrant gardens to pour their perfumes about us, or we may sow weeds and briers to flaunt themselves in our faces as we sit in our doorways in the gloaming.

All old age is not beautiful. All old people are not happy. Some are very wretched, with hollow, sepulchral lives. Many an ancient palace was built over a dark dungeon. There were the marble walls that shone with dazzling splendor in the sunlight. There were the wide gilded chambers with their magnificent frescoes and their splendid adornments, the gaiety, the music, and the revelry. But deep down beneath all this luxurious splendor and dazzling display was the dungeon filled with its unhappy victims, and up through the iron gratings came the sad groans and moanings of despair, echoing and reverberating through the gilded halls and ceiled chambers; and in this I see a picture of many an old age. It may have abundant comforts and much that tells of prosperity in an outward sense—wealth, honors, friends, the pomp and circumstance of greatness—but it is only a palace built over a gloomy dungeon of memory, up from whose deep and dark recesses come evermore voices of remorse and despair to sadden or embitter every hour and to cast shadows over every lovely picture and every bright scene.

It is possible so to live as to make old age very sad, and then it is possible so to live as to make it very beautiful. In going my rounds in the crowded city I came one day to a door where my ears were greeted with a great chorus of bird-songs. There were birds everywhere—in parlour, in dining-room, in bedchamber, in hall—and the whole house was filled with their joyful music. So may old age be. So it is for those who have lived aright. It is full of music. Every memory is a little snatch of song. The sweet bird-notes of heavenly peace sing everywhere, and the last days of life are its happiest days—

“Rich in experience that angels might covet,
Rich in a faith that has grown with the years.”

The important practical question is, How can we so live that our old age, when it comes, shall be beautiful and happy? It will not do to adjourn this question until the evening shadows are upon us. It will be too late then to consider it. Consciously or unconsciously, we are every day helping to settle the question whether our old age shall be sweet and peaceful or bitter and wretched. It is worth our while, then, to think a little how to make sure of a happy old age.
We must live a useful life. Nothing good ever comes out of idleness or out of selfishness. The standing water stagnates and breeds decay and death. It is the running stream that keeps pure and sweet. The fruit of an idle life is never joy and peace. Years lived selfishly never become garden-spots in the field of memory. Happiness comes out of self-denial for the good of others. Sweet always are the memories of good deeds done and sacrifices made. Their incense, like heavenly perfume, comes floating up from the fields of toil and fills old age with holy fragrance. When one has lived to bless others, one has many grateful, loving friends whose affection proves a wondrous source of joy when the days of feebleness come. Bread cast upon the waters is found again after many days.

I see some people who do not seem to want to make friends. They are unsocial, unsympathetic, cold, distant, disobliging, selfish. Others, again, make no effort to retain their friends. They cast them away for the slightest cause. But they are robbing their later years of joys they cannot afford to lose. If we would walk in the warmth of friendship’s beams in the late evening-time, we must seek to make to ourselves loyal and faithful friends in the busy hours that come before. This we can do by a ministry of kindness and self-forgetfulness. This was part at least of what our Lord meant in that counsel which falls so strangely on our ears until we understand it: “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when you fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations.”

Again, we must live a pure and holy life. Every one carries in himself the sources of his own happiness or wretchedness. Circumstances have really very little to do with our inner experiences. It matters little in the determination of one’s degree of enjoyment whether he live in a cottage or a palace. It is self, after all, that in largest measure gives the color to our skies and the tone to the music we hear. A happy heart sees rainbows and brilliance everywhere, even in darkest clouds, and hears sweet strains of song even amid the loudest wailings of the storm; and a sad heart, unhappy and discontented, sees spots in the sun, specks in the rarest fruits, and something with which to find fault in the most perfect of God’s works, and hears discords and jarring notes in the heavenliest music. So it comes about that this whole question must be settled from within. The fountains rise in the heart itself. The old man, like the snail, carries his house on his back. He may change neighbors or homes or scenes or companions, but he cannot get away from himself and his own past. Sinful years put thorns in the pillow on which the head of old age rests. Lives of passion and evil store away bitter fountains from which the old man has to drink.

Sin may seem pleasant to us now, but we must not forget how it will appear when we get past it and turn to look back upon it; especially must we keep in mind how it will seem from a dying pillow. Nothing brings such pure peace and quiet joy at the close as a well-lived past. We are every day laying up the food on which we must feed in the closing years. We are hanging up pictures about the walls of our hearts that we shall have to look at when we sit in the shadows.

How important that we live pure and holy lives! Even forgiven sins will mar the peace of old age, for the ugly scars will remain.

Summing all up in one word, only Christ can make any life, young or old, truly beautiful or truly happy. Only He can cure the heart’s restless fever and give quietness and calmness. Only He can purify that sinful fountain within us, our corrupt nature, and make us holy. To have a peaceful and blessed ending to life, we must live it with Christ. Such a life grows brighter even to its close. Its last days are the sunniest and the sweetest. The more earth’s joys fail, the nearer and the more satisfying do the comforts become. The nests over which the wing of God droops, which in the bright summer days of prosperous strength lay hidden among the leaves, stand out uncovered in the days of decay and feebleness when winter has stripped the branches bare. And for such a life death has no terrors. The tokens of its approach are but “the land-birds lighting on the shrouds, telling the weary mariner that he is nearing the haven.” The end is but the touching of the weather-beaten keel on the shore of glory.



Kay Cude Poetry: Facing Fear

Kay Cude Poetry. If you enjoy this one, search on the blog for previous entries of Kay's poems.

Used with permission. Click to enlarge and read.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Love week essay #7: Conclusion

All this week we've explored the blessings of love.

We looked at God's love through the lens of Psalm 136.

We looked at the meaning of love through the lens of the Apostle John's epistle.

We looked at how there are different words to express love (which is not a feeling.)

Yesterday we looked deeper into how love is not a feeling, but a choice of the will.

Yesterday we explored the difficult concept of loving our enemies.

In #6 we looked at how Love fulfills the Law


The number one topic of songs, they tell me, is love. The world, which does not know love, sings about it. In 1984, Foreigner sang I Want To Know What Love Is. As Wikipedia describes,
The song hit number one in both the United Kingdom and the United States and is the group's biggest hit to date. It remains one of the band's best-known songs and most enduring radio hits... and is listed as one of Rolling Stone Magazine's greatest songs of all time.
When Mick Jones of Foreigner wrote the song, he later described it as one of those things where, at 3:00 in the morning, it all suddenly came to him. He said it 'was like a higher force' just gave it to him in toto 'as a gift'. Later, he attempted to enhance the song in a spiritual way, contacting The New Jersey Mass Choir to perform another version, which also earned numerous awards and lots of radio play.

If ever there was a man of Ecclesiastes howling into the darkness of his soul for clarity on love and meaning of life, this song is it. I sang it myself as an unsaved young women who had the same yearning amid the strong sense of vanity and emptiness. I WANT TO KNOW WHAT LOVE IS I'd sing at the top of my lungs, and I really meant it.

In His grace, He eventually showed me. Love is Christ. God is love. There is no other love that is real, permanent, eternal, and sure as the love of God to His person of the Trinity and to us, whom He has invited into His circle through Christ. The world does not know love. They want to know what love is.

Love is explained and shown in the Bible. Read it. It is shown in answered prayer. Pray it. It's demonstrated among brethren, receive it. It fulfills the commands when you choose it.

Psalm 103 is a song of love toward our God. He is great and worthy of all our love and attention and obedience and praise.


Friday, February 16, 2018

love week essay #6: Love fulfills the law

All this week we've explored the blessings of love.

We looked at God's love through the lens of Psalm 136.

We looked at the meaning of love through the lens of the Apostle John's epistle.

We looked at how there are different words to express love (which is not a feeling.)

Yesterday we looked deeper into how love is not a feeling, but a choice of the will.

Yesterday we explored the difficult concept of loving our enemies.

Today we look at how love fulfills the Law. First, the scriptures.

"Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?" 37And he said to him, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 22:36-40)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8)

As we have looked at previously, love is a distinguishing characteristic of the Christian. It marks him or her out from the world. Yet we go even further, that the kind of love Jesus expects of us to display is a law-fulfilling love. The two commandments are to love Him, and love people.

But how can God command us to feel something, one might ask. We can't command feelings, can we?Again, as we have looked at previously, love isn't a feeling that comes on its own like the wind and blows away when it wants, leaving us either filled and romantic, or dry and loveless. We have the will to choose to love. We gain that will by adhering to the precepts of the Father, who said to love all, even one's enemies. The will to love comes from the fountain of grace that indwells us, AKA the Holy Spirit.

Now, commandment one is to love the God with all our strength, soul, and mind. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Love doesn't harm a neighbor. Love protects a neighbor. Love doesn't slander him, or murder him with ill thoughts, or take his wife. Love doesn't harm a neighbor by harboring covetousness over his new car/riding lawnmower/pool. Love wants the best for people, always.

It is upon us to rely on the Spirit, ask the Spirit, pray for the Spirit to cultivate in us Godly desires that squeeze out even the desire for violence against our neighbor, violence even in the form of sinful thoughts, never mind sinful actions. The goal is to love one's neighbor enough so that any desire for harm against him is not even present in our heart.

When we do that, when we love our neighbor as purely as possible, it cycles us back to the first Law, loving God with all our strength,mind, heart, and soul, because we are obeying Him.

Love fulfills the Law.

Now I need to get to work. It seems I have a lot of heart work to do... :) Do you?

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Resources

In this devotional, Alistair Begg wants us to Make Him Glad with our Love

Hugh Binning's book Christian Love is recommended at Banner of Truth Trust, Monergism, Reformation Trust, and other sources. Here is the book blurb-
In this Treatise of Christian Love, the Scottish Covenanting minister Hugh Binning movingly presents the need for Christians to show by their love for one another that they belong to Christ. Basing his remarks on John 13:35, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another, he argues, 'This badge that Christ left to his disciples: if we cast this away on every disagreement, we disown our Master, and disclaim his token and badge.'
Binning describes the excellence of Christian love, demonstrating its nature from 1 Corinthians 13. He gives strong reasons why Christians should love one another, and shows that love is rooted in Christian humility and meekness, after the pattern of Christ himself.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Florida alleged school shooter Nikolas Cruz needs the Gospel as much as any of us do

We've been progressing through the attribute of love as God loves and expects it of His children. It's love week here at the End Time.

I'd planned next week to explore hate. Not everyone's favorite subject, I'm sure, but we've all experienced it, either prior to salvation when were at enmity with God or afterward when we had fleshly flashes of it.

Today, sadly, we as a nation are once again mourning in the aftermath of a massacre shooting. This was the worst kind, a school shooting.

Yesterday alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz allegedly shot 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, a public school of about 3,000 students outside Boca Raton, FL. In the recent past we've endured:

February 14, 2018 - Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School - Parkland, Florida. 17 people killed and at least 14 others injured.

January 23, 2018 - Marshall County High School - Benton, Kentucky. Two killed and 18 injured.

December 7, 2017 - Aztec Hight School - Aztec, New Mexico. Two killed and shooter kills self.

September 13, 2017 - Freeman High School - Spokane, Washington. 1 student killed, 3 injured.

April 10, 2017 - North Park Elementary School - San Bernardino, California. Adult kills student and teacher, then self. Two others injured.

That is a list of just the shootings within the last year, and of course you and I know there are many more, and not just school shootings. In the aftermath, we see quotes like this one from CNN.
"This has been a day where we've seen the worst of humanity. Tomorrow is gonna bring out the best in humanity as we come together to move forward from this unspeakable tragedy," he said. 
I would disagree, and the Bible would support me on this. It isn't the worst of humanity. It's humanity.  I would disagree, and the Bible would support me on this. It isn't the worst of humanity. It's humanity. It's easy to think of Cruz as an enemy and hate him. But we have met the enemy, and he is us.

The ground of this pure and unspoiled earth became blood soaked shortly after the Fall, when Cain slew Adam. Even prior to that moment, Eve and Adam behaved violently by disobeying God, moving forward in enmity. They broke His one and only command, thus causing the fall of man from his position God had declared as "very good." After that, man has not been "very good" but "very bad". The technical term in Christianity for very bad is "depraved sinner". After the Fall, this became a world of death instead of a world of life. (Romans 5:17).

Ligonier explains our depravity:
So often we are quick to blame others for our failures and shortcomings. We even mask how we do this by employing the "if-only" rationale to excuse our sin. "If only I had been raised differently…I had a better job…you hadn't provoked me…my husband would listen to me…my church were better…." The list is endless and usually contains genuinely flawed people and circumstances that are blameworthy.
But no circumstance, other person, or activity can ever justify my sin. I sin, Jesus said, because my heart is sinful. That is a shattering reality. But we must humbly face it if we want to be spiritually healed.
Alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz shot people because he is a depraved human. But we're all depraved. The difference is that prior to salvation we have no hope of resisting that depravity. Afterward, it is a constant battle, albeit aided by the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit. But it's in all of us. Ask Abel. There is none good, no not one. When the hate against God that's inside us grow to such monstrous proportions one cannot restrain it any more, we unleash it in terrible ways. Gossip, slander, adultery, extortion, oppression, murder. It's all there in all of us.

It is exactly why we need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The gospel is called the ‘good news’ because it addresses the most serious problem that you and I have as human beings, and that problem is simply this: God is holy and He is just, and I’m not. And at the end of my life, I’m going to stand before a just and holy God, and I’ll be judged. And I’ll be judged either on the basis of my own righteousness–or lack of it–or the righteousness of another. The good news of the gospel is that Jesus lived a life of perfect righteousness, of perfect obedience to God, not for His own well being but for His people. He has done for me what I couldn’t possibly do for myself. But not only has He lived that life of perfect obedience, He offered Himself as a perfect sacrifice to satisfy the justice and the righteousness of God.
The only way you can receive the benefit of Christ’s life and death is by putting your trust in Him–and in Him alone. You do that, you’re declared just by God, you’re adopted into His family, you’re forgiven of all of your sins, and you have begun your pilgrimage for eternity.
Praise God He made a way for us to be reconciled to Him. The Gospel is life.


Love Week Essay #5: Loving our Enemies?

All this week we've explored the blessings of love.

We looked at God's love through the lens of Psalm 136.

We looked at the meaning of love through the lens of the Apostle John's epistle.

We looked at how there are different words to express love (which is not a feeling.)

Yesterday we looked deeper into how love is not a feeling, but a choice of the will.

Today we'll look deeper into that, loving not only those who are easy to love, or loving who we are supposed to love, but loving those who actively hate us. Enemies.

I'll take a moment here to let you all know something. I enjoy writing, but that's not the only reason I write blogs every day. I process the Word by writing. When I post a blog essay, I'm not telling you all how to be Christian, though there is some exhortation with each essay. Mainly, I am preaching to myself. I don't find it easy to love the way the Bible tells us, even to friends and brethren. I certainly don't find it easy to love enemies. I fail in many ways, every day. So please don't ever think that I have it all together!

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35).

And again in Matthew:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Barnes' Notes explains:
We are bound to love our enemies. This is a law of Christianity, original and unique. No system of religion but Christianity has required it, and no act of Christian piety is more difficult. None shows more the power of the grace of God; none is more ornamental to the character; none more like God; and none furnishes better evidence of piety. He that can meet a man kindly who is seeking his hurt; who can speak well of one that is perpetually slandering and cursing him; that can pray for a man that abuses, injures, and wounds him: and that can seek heaven for him that wishes his damnation, is in the way to life. This is religion, beautiful as its native skies; pure like its Source; kind like its Author; fresh like the dews of the morning; clear and diffusive like the beams of the rising sun; and holy like the feelings and words that come from the bosom of the Son of God. He that can do this need not doubt that he is a Christian. He has caught the very spirit of the Saviour, and he must inherit eternal life.
It's easy to love those who love us. It's simple to treat others lovingly who treat us well. Jesus said even the Gentiles (who do not know love) do the same.

A Christian's love must be different than what is expected. It has to be different from the kind of love the world is used to. It must be perfect.

But how can our love be perfect? We're imperfect sinners!

John MacArthur here in his sermon Love Your Enemies part 3:
The point is this: you are to be like God.  You say, "Well, that standard is too high."  You're right, and that's exactly what He wanted the Pharisees to know. You can't make it. ... What Jesus is saying in the Sermon on the Mount is the same thing, "Be perfect."  They're supposed to say, "But I can’t be perfect." And that’s when He says, “Right; and if you fall short of perfection, you need a Savior." And that’s where Jesus comes in, and brings to you what Peter calls the divine nature, and makes you like God, a partaker of His nature. Then God, in a miracle of salvation, does for you what you could never do for yourself – be like God. When you came to Jesus Christ, positionally, you were made like God. You were given His eternal life, His righteousness, you became like Him in that sense. And now you need to bring your behavior into harmony with your position.
Oh no! I still can't!

John MacArthur continues:
Listen: a Christian is not someone who keeps the Sermon on the Mount. A Christian is somebody who knows he can't, do you see – and comes to Jesus Christ for forgiveness for the sin of falling short, and receives from Christ the forgiveness, and then the power to begin to live these principles. That’s the point of the message.
If that makes you cry, good. It did me. His standards are holy and high, and we can't make it. It makes me cry out Abba! Father! Help me! Help me to love like you would have me do! And He will.



A note about the photo: It was taken by a friend of mine who works with the American Legion, an American veteran, who was in NYC for a conference on the day of 9-11. He took this photo the day after. He gave this picture to me and spent some time telling me how the day was for him and his colleagues. It was an emotional day for all of us, though it's hard to believe it has been 17 years since then. I watched in shock as the towers fell (and knew many were dying at that moment), the pit in the ground in PA where the plane dove in, the Pentagon ruptured and a Navy man who lived in our town was killed inside. Whether it's an individual enemy at work, or a national enemy out to destroy America, and every enemy in between, it is very hard to love your enemies. Yet Jesus did, while He was being nailed to the cross, He pleaded for mercy upon those who nailed Him and wanted Him dead. The truth is, before salvation we were all enemies of God and we all have that depravity in us that wants God dead. Praise Him that before we knew Him, He first loved us.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Love week essay #4: Hooked on a Feeling?

Happy Valentine's Day! Here are some famous songs about love for you!

All You need is Love
I Wanna Know What Love Is
Love Stinks
Can't Help Falling in Love
Addicted to Love
Can't Hurry Love
I Will Always Love You
I Just Called to Say I Love You
Love is A Battlefield
I Think I Love You
Psalm 136

Wait, wut? Psalm 136? Yes! It is a tremendous song about God's steadfast love. I wrote about it in Love Week essay #1, here.

The world tries to understand love but the world never will know it unless that seeking person is saved by grace through faith. When we abide in Jesus we can then know love. (1 John 4:8).

Still the world sings songs and wonders where it all went. All too often, We've Lost that Loving Feeling and wonder what to do After the Love is Gone.

We must understand that love is not a feeling, but a position, a decision.

Author Mary Kaasian says in her essay Love is a Choice,
 Although it is often felt in the heart, love is primarily an act of the will. Nowhere is this demonstrated more clearly than in the way God loves us. In the Old Testament, two Hebrew words describe God’s love for his people. The first Hebrew word for love, ahab, means: “to desire, to breathe after; to be inclined toward, to delight in.” The Lord God delights in us and is inclined toward us. He desires–“breathes after”–us with affectionate (ahab) love. Although Ahab is an intense word, it’s only used a handful of times with regard to the Lord. There’s another richer, more powerful word that’s used repeatedly throughout Old Testament Scripture to describe God’s love for us: the Hebrew word chesed. 
Chesed speaks of a love that is firmly rooted in choice. It involves loyalty, steadfastness and commitment to a promise. It’s a love that doesn’t depend on the response or behavior of the receiver but rather on the steadfast character and commitment of the giver. Ahab has to do with feelings, whereas chesed implies a mind-set and mode of interaction based on unwavering loyalty to a commitment.
The world will tell us (in its songs) that we are slaves to our feeling of love. We're hooked on a feeling, addicted to love, finding or losing that feeling. That it makes us Crazy, Fools, and love even has its own Power.

All that makes Love its own god.

Only God has as much power as pagans think love has.

We don't love the way the world loves. We who are saved have the ability to remain loving in the Christ-like way because it's a choice in which the power of God in us through the Holy Spirit allows us to persevere. The Gentiles fall in and out of love, find it and lose it, wax and wane within it, because feelings are ephemeral, temporary, and deceptive.

The only love that endures in a pagan is self-love.

A Christian's love is counter-cultural to the world because the Bible teaches us to consciously deny our self-love and focus our love on others, even unto death. Jesus taught in Matthew 5:43-45-

You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.

Christian marriage between one man and one woman is a major way that God wants to demonstrate His kind of love in the world. He demonstrates in the picture of marriage, the counter-cultural, upside down attitude toward love wherein it becomes a choice and not a snare. When marriages endure through the act of the will and not fail or succeed because we're reflexively responding to a feeling, it's His way and not the world's way.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.a 28In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because we are members of his body.

Wives, submitting? Husbands loving, even unto death? Yes, because we are members of His body. The Gentile is cut off from His body and therefore thinks that love is a feeling, when it is actually a choice.

Love well today, on this Hallmark holiday exalting the world's version of love. Love as Jesus taught, which is a choice toward others, sacrificial, permanent. Love your friends, wives love husbands and husbands love your wives, love your children, and love your enemies. Because love isn't a feeling, it's a permanent choice in Christ.

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:7-9).



Scripture picture #3: He forgives by the blood

Scripture picture theme this week: The Blood. Each scripture photo will be accompanied by a song about the blood of Jesus. Never forget abou...