Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cultural issues: McChurch: church inside a McDonald's, or is it a McDonald's inside a church?, Evangelicals accepting gays in huge numbers (IF they're their own kids), Pigs (almost) fly

PostChristianity now has its own page at Wikipedia. The definition is a little scholarly convoluted, but here it is:
Postchristianity is the belief that the loss of the Christian monopoly in political affairs, especially in the Global North where Christianity had previously flourished, will eventually lead its demise in favour of secular nationalism. It includes personal world views, ideologies, religious movements or societies that are no longer rooted in the language and assumptions of Christianity, at least explicitly, although they had previously been in an environment of ubiquitous Christianity, i.e. Christendom.
At the Christian Post, guest opinion writer Kevin Shrum wrote a few months ago,
We knew this day would arrive. The 'slippery slope' of morality has now become a proverbial landslide of moral morass. What seemed to be a slow decline has now exponentially accelerated. The parading and applauding of all things unbiblical and immoral has reached its zenith on the shoulders of the autonomous self, where me, myself, and I are the arbiters of all things truthful and spiritual. Gone is any reference to transcendent authority.

But fear not, dear Christian. Like an athlete out of shape in the off-season layoff, it may take awhile for American Christians to awaken from our 'most-favored-religion-status' we have come to assume in this great country of ours, but I believe we're up to the task. We're not the first Christians to live 'behind enemy lines' nor will we be the last.
A few weeks ago, ReligionNews posed the following question: How PostChristian are you?
In a look at “churchless” America, Barna Group found many people who label themselves “Christian” are actually more like their secular neighbors — people who claim no particular religious brand — in their beliefs and practices.
That post-Christian, churchless, the 'Jesus is a nice guy but ultimately doesn't affect my life' attitude is seen in the fact that articles like these below actually exist.

Religious group wants to build McDonald’s in a church
As church attendance falls, one group believes that the lure of a burger and fries might make church more appealing. ... "Christianity is unable to capture modern audiences," Di Lucca told NBC News. "There's a lack of innovation and lack of design thinking in Church communities." ... "It's time for churches to engage with entrepreneurship," writes the group on its IndieGoGo site. "By combining a church and a McDonald's we can create a self-sustaining, community-engaged, popular church, and an unparalleled McDonald's restaurant."
The entrepreneurial spirit that infects churches today is thanks to Rick Warren and his "The Purpose Driven Church is listed in “100 Christian Books That Changed the 20th Century.” Forbes magazine called it “the best book on entrepreneurship, management, and leadership in print." [Left, Actual logo for the McChurch idea]

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God. (2 Corinthians 2:17)

And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. (2 Peter 2:3)

Unlike in corporate culture, a lack of innovation in church is a good thing. If the McMass McChurch idea succeeds, the people who attend will get what they get: a Jesus that is fast, lite, insubstantial, and ultimately bad for the heart.


Here is another example of church folks bowing to culture.

Evangelicals with gay children challenging church
A despondent Ryan cut off from his parents and his faith, started taking drugs and in 2009, died of an overdose. "Now we realize we were so wrongly taught," said Rob Robertson, a firefighter for more than 30 years who lives in Redmond, Washington. "It's a horrible, horrible mistake the church has made." The tragedy could have easily driven the Robertsons from the church. But instead of breaking with evangelicalism — as many parents in similar circumstances have done — the couple is taking a different approach, and they're inspiring other Christians with gay children to do the same. They are staying in the church and, in protesting what they see as the demonization of their sons and daughters, presenting a new challenge to Christian leaders trying to hold off growing acceptance of same-sex relationships.
The article continues with examples of people touting active homosexuality as acceptable to God, and the article author supports their contentions with numerical examples of growth for each of their websites, Facebook pages, or published books that they sponsor/promote this stance.

It's brilliant actually. Satan targets the youth, they succumb to perverse passions, parents who naturally love their children are faced with a dilemma, so parents declare, 'it's happening to me and my experience trumps scripture so scripture must be wrong.'


Maybe this next article doesn't have to do directly with church and faith so much, or maybe it does.

They say pigs don't fly, but this one came close.
A pig landed on a US Airways flight out of Connecticut on Wednesday, but was taken off the plane after it became disruptive, a spokesperson told ABC News. Jonathan Skolnik, a professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a passenger on the flight, told ABC News today he thought the woman with the pig was carrying a duffel bag when she got on the plane and headed straight for the empty seat next to him. "But it turns out it wasn't a duffel bag. We could smell it and it was a pig on a leash," he said. "She tethered it to the arm rest next to me and started to deal with her stuff, but the pig was walking back and forth."
photo Rob Phelps

Gothamist Newspaper wrote,
According to ABC, the incident happened on Wednesday at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. The woman had been allowed to bring the pig, who was on a leash, with her—pigs, like dogs, monkeys and cats, can qualify as "emotional support animals," which are allowed on flights under federal rules. Passenger Rob Phelps, who took the photo on top, told CBS Springfield the problem was that this particular piggy was squealing and defecating in the aisle, prompting flight attendants to ask them to leave, which they did without incident.
For people who truly need an Emotional Support Animal, (ESA) for example soldiers with PTSD, the Service Dog Central website states, "In order to fly with an Emotional Support Animal OR Psychiatric Service Dog in the cabin of the aircraft with you, you will need a special letter from a licensed mental health professional." That letter must state the specific disability the traveler has, according to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, be not more than one year old, that the animal is necessary to the well-being of the traveler, be lodged with airline authorities 48 hours in advance of travel date, and be written and signed by a licensed medical or psychiatric professional.

True ESAs who are professional and not pets, curl up at the master's feet when not working and are trained not to cause a disturbance. Like perhaps wandering, squealing, and defecating in the aisle. If it was truly an ESA it would not cause a disturbance. If it was a pet, it should not be allowed in  the cabin.

Daily Mail: Pot-bellied pigs WILL fly (along with miniature horses and monkeys): Passengers to be allowed to take exotic pets on flights for 'emotional support'

This website offers information on why the abuse level on ESAs in the cabin is growing- "Service Dogs on Airplanes to Get More Scrutiny From Department of Transportation".

Twitter: FoxCT News reporter Angelica Spanos photo
The twitter feed indicated the pig and owner finally
made it to their intended destination, CT, for Thanksgiving.
"An emotional support animal is a companion animal (typically a dog or cat) that provides a therapeutic benefit to its owner through companionship. The animal provides emotional support and comfort to individuals with psychiatric disabilities and other mental impairments. The animal is not specifically trained to perform tasks for a person who suffers from emotional disabilities." Source Animal Law.

For people without Jesus, these dark and confusing times are oppressive to them and they do not even know it.

The fact is, the more post-Christian the world gets, the more the lost cling to the wrong things for emotional support. It's a stark example of why we need to offer the solution to their sin problem and their emptiness. Jesus is the Friend who knows us, He created us. He loves us and wants the best for us. He sent His Spirit into the world to inspire the world's greatest book full of wisdom, comfort, history, poems, and truth. Without Jesus, the lost person knows none of this.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

New Yorker cover story shows St. Louis Arch divided, Tweet shows divided arch fixed

It's a clever cover. The art work, at least for secular, liberal people, seems to capture the cultural feeling as to the recent race issues in Ferguson, Missouri. Ferguson is a city on the banks of the Mississippi River near St. Louis that recently melted down in fire and riots after a Grand Jury issued a verdict the black folks of Ferguson disapproved of. St. Louis is known for its "Gateway to the West" arch.

Here is the cover art from the New Yorker:

Cover Story: A “Broken Arch” for Ferguson

The introductory sentence to their accompanying article is a quote,
“I wanted to comment on the tragic rift that we’re witnessing,” Bob Staake says about his cover for the December 8th issue, arriving next week. “I lived in St. Louis for seventeen years before moving to Massachusetts, so watching the news right now breaks my heart. At first glance, one might see a representation of the Gateway Arch as split and divided, but my hope is that the events in Ferguson will provide a bridge and an opportunity for the city, and also for the country, to learn and come together.”
I won't comment on the actual events that sparked the article and story art. The news that inspired the story and cover art isn't the point of this essay. You can read a summary here and also a very good essay by Pastor Voddie Baucham here. In it, Baucham speaks to the root of the problem and how to solve it.

Sinful people do what sinful people do. The opening sentence of the news story above is "the world watched live as crowds hurled bottles, looted liquor stores and set this city on fire in the 24 hours after a grand jury announced it would not indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, 18."

Didn't the world watch live as riots occurred after the judicial verdict in the OJ Simpson case? The Rodney King verdict? ("Can't we all just get along?"). The Zimmerman verdict riots? The 1965 racial inequality accusations that sparked the Watts Riot? Many people consider the Watts riot (which was the most bloody, violent US riot until Rodney King in 1992) to be a turning point in Black-White civil rights movement.

What are these systemic issues that keep turning a society upside down? Poverty? Racial inequality? Police brutality? Social oppression? Poor education? The post riot commentary on each of the above-mentioned riots all put forth different reasons for their cause and thus have different approaches to the solution.

However on Twitter, one man solved the St. Louis Gateway Arch divide this morning. Teaching Pastor of Summit Wentzville, Clayton Pruett, tweeted:
I fixed the New Yorker's separated Arch problem #gospel #hope

This is more than a trite acknowledgement of Jesus as the solution to everything. It needs a deeper moment of thought than a nod, smile and a scroll past.

Some time ago I listened to Voddie Baucham preach his text. He had been alternating with another pastor as they went through Romans. Pastor Baucham was up to the closing, Romans 16:3-16. The title of his sermon is "An Extraordinary Affection for an Extraordinary Church" In the summary of the sermon, it is stated,
Most people today skip over sections of scripture like these because they do not see the relevance of a "list of names". In this sermon, however, Pastor Voddie Baucham reveals the true depth of the affection that Paul has for the believers at Rome. It is an extraordinary affection for an extraordinary church!
Here are the names Paul wrote greetings for, and each name was accompanied by a commendation, which I have not included,

Greet Prisca and Aquila,
Andronicus and Junias
Apelles in house of Aristobulus
Greet those of the household of Narcissus
Tryphaena and Tryphosa

This is more than a mere "list of names". First, it reminds us that our Holy God has affection for individuals He inspired Paul to write by name. It gives us a picture of an an extraordinary affection the Apostle Paul had for an extraordinary church.

Pr. Baucham joked that as pastors when they look at the preaching schedule and see that they will be responsible for the passage that has the "list of names" they become overjoyed. He was speaking with a gentle sarcasm and a wry realism. He said more often they say, "Really? I got the list of names? Again?" [audience laughter]

But he said as he began to dig deeper, he found beauty. Allow me to summarize his sermon. Trust me, this will relate back to Ferguson and the broken arch that the cross fixes. In the Romans passage there is a picture of unity that had tremendous implications for Paul and his theology, that would have brought him great joy. It relates to the passage in Galatians 3:26-28,

So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

There is no other entity on planet earth that unites people across ethnic lines like the church. ~Voddie Baucham.
The Apostle mentions male and females, Jews and Greeks, slaves and freemen. Beyond the surface of thinking we are saturated in today's culture, back then, women had little to no value. Even their testimony was counted for half of a man's. Today in Islam, a female's testimony is worthless in court. Yet one-third of the names in the list are women. That was not normal in the first century. And Paul not only included women int he list but commended them as co-laborers! This list is a beautiful picture of the unity of gender we share through Christ.

Andronicus and Junias were Jews, as Paul used to be, as were Prisca and Aquila and several other names. Their names are intermingled with Greek names like Hermes, Narcissus, Aristobulus. Paul had been raised all his life to believe that if you even came into contact with a Greek you became ceremonially unclean. He included Greeks in his list, commends them, and joyously shares equal standing with them.

"It is the work that Christ has done in us that draws us to one another in spite of the fact that we're not the same," Baucham preached.

There is no more Jew or Greek, but only brothers in Christ. From the beginning, Christ broke down dividing walls. It isn't because of a common fear that we have of police or any other government authority. It isn't because of a common enemy we have, (except the enemy the devil), walls fall because of the Savior we have in common, our common Father.

A surface reading of the text will not readily show the names that are male and female, unless you know the masculine versus feminine endings in the Greek. As for the slaves vs. freemen, a deeper reading will need to be done to show who they are. Several names in this passage were well known slave names. Many of these names are gathered at the end of the list. Persis was a common slave name. Rufus was an extremely common slave name.

There is always a strict divide between people who hire people to serve them and people who serve. "Upstairs, Downstairs" is a well-entrenched division. It would have been unusual enough for any organization or gathering of people to accept mingling of servant and employer. However Paul's inclusion of slave names among the list of free names was a startling departure from a cultural norm. As Baucham says, no one thought favorably of the group of people known as slaves. No one can own another person and think favorably toward them as a group because they must be thought of less-than, not equal-to. So here in Romans we have a vision of extraordinary unity.

To further deepen the picture, think of the implications. A systemic and accepted dividing of men into different classes, here, slave and free, had disappeared on Sunday because slave and master sat together in church. Slave and Master attended together, worshiped together, and praised their Lord together. This is highly uncommon in any culture.

Where Christianity flourishes, slavery ends. Caste system ends. Dividing lines over race, status, ethnicity ... ends.

Only Jesus can make a man realize he is no better than his slave. Only Christ can do that. We stand as one before the Lord.

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, (Revelation 7:9).

For Ferguson Missouri, Christ is the answer, as it always has been and always will be. The transcendent cross, our Savior Jesus died on then rose from, unites us despite our differences, which are only surface after all. We share our sin in common, and we share our need for Jesus in common. Through Him and His blood, we unite, washed in common. The problems in Ferguson are no different than the problems in slave-saturated Rome, in caste-rigid India, in oppressed Iraq. The issues aren't racial or ethnic, they're sin-ful.

Please take another look at the marvelous cross and praise a Savior who is not from earth but came to earth to reconcile sinful men and people so fall races, tribes, colors and status to Himself as a united ONE.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Missionary Elisabeth Elliot: "Under the Shadow of the Almighty"

This is no doubt one of the best Christian speeches I've ever heard. In this speech, Mrs Eliot seems to be speaking to a group of women in an information speech, or even a commissioning ceremony of ladies considering or entering into missionary work. It is a spellbinding talk, given from the lips of a gracious woman who has definitely been through it.

This synopsis was on the Youtube page under the video. The video isn't a video, it is audio only.
Elisabeth Elliot (née Howard; born December 21, 1926) is a Christian author and speaker. Her first husband, Jim Elliot, was killed in 1956 while attempting to make missionary contact with the Auca (now known as Huaorani) of eastern Ecuador. She later spent two years as a missionary to the tribe members who killed her husband. Returning to the United States after many years in South America, she became widely known as the author of over twenty books and as a speaker in constant demand. Elliot toured the country, sharing her knowledge and experience, well into her seventies.
In the early 1950s, a group of missionary men and their wives went tot he dense Amazon in search of an unreached people group to witness to and minister to, the Aucas (now known as the Huaroani). They were known as the most vicious tribe in all the Amazon. Their generational cycle of revenge killings via spear had brought the tribe to the brink of extinction. Killing by spear was a way of life, and at the beginning of the speech you will hear Mrs Elliot remark upon the fact that the oldest man in the tribe was in his early 40s. Most of the younger men had been killed by the violent cycle of spearing.

After several months of contact by air in a promising start, in 1956 the five missionaries landed on the beach of a narrow clearing in the jungle to make personal contact on the ground. They were speared to death and the plane was trashed. The killing was actually over a misunderstanding, as was shown in the movie End of the Spear and in subsequent interviews with the Indians.

The deaths of the five missionaries resulted eventually in a great kingdom work. It sparked a renewed interest missionary work and a flood of new missionaries became trained and sent out into not just the Amazon jungle but all over the world. The result for the Auca tribe was that eventually they did become Christian, many of them.

But what of the immediate consequences for the five wives, now widows, and their children, now fatherless? How did they cope, emotionally and spiritually? Here Mrs Elliot relates Psalm 91 and her intimate understanding of the words contained in it. Please take a listen.

I HIGHLY recommend it. I am sure you will be glad you listened.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord; call upon his name; make known his deeds among the peoples!" (1 Chronicles 16:8)


Further Reading/Viewing:

Movie accounts of the Auca incident:

End of the Spear: synopsis from Internet Movie Database, reviews, comments, etc.

End of the Spear: the full movie on Youtube

Here is a documentary on the group of men who were killed, called Beyond the Gates of Splendor, which includes interviews with the mens' sisters and wives who are still alive, and the Indians still living in Ecuador

Life Magazine's 10-page article & photos about the incident named 'Operation Auca', published in 1956,

Thursday, November 27, 2014

"The Chinese MacArthur Study Bible: 1,000 Chinese pastors receive translated MacArthur Study Bible"

On this day of Thanksgiving to our Lord for the blessings He has bestowed on us, allow me to share what I am thankful for today.

Yesterday I read of a tremendous achievement by the Holy Spirit through the men at Grace To You. I was aware that Dr MacArthur and his team had been laboring to translate the bible into Chinese. They have concluded their efforts. The Master's College website posted the results on October 1:

About 1,000 Chinese home church pastors received the MacArthur Study Bible, newly translated into Mandarin, at the Expository Conference in Hong Kong on Sept. 23-26.

The goal of the conference, a cooperative effort of The Master's College, Grace to You and Grace Bible Fellowship in Singapore, was to get John MacArthur’s material, both the study Bible and his New Testament commentaries, into the hands of as many Chinese pastors as possible, said TMC Marketing Director Kirk Linahan, who attended the conference.

This unique event was organized by Roger Ng, a graduate of The Master’s Seminary (’08) and pastor of Grace Bible Fellowship. Through Ng’s pastoral contacts in China, news about the conference spread by word of mouth.

The pastors, their wives and other church leaders gathered in Hong Kong to hear from MacArthur and TMC Biblical Studies Professor Dr. Daniel Wong via livestream, in addition to local pastors and Grace to You staff.

The need for for expository preaching and training in China is great, Dr. Wong said.

"The church in China—they have the zeal, they have the devotion, but all of this needs to be adjusted, needs to be corrected and...governed and guided by the Word of God,” he said. “They do believe; they’re willing to give their life, but they need to be accurately guided by the Word.”

Indeed, the church in China is continuing to grow. As of 2010, there were more than 59 million Protestant Christians in China, based on a study by the Pew Research Project.

But, the government’s opposition to Christianity makes it difficult for pastors and church leaders to receive training or Bible study resources.

“When they hear the expositional teaching, the Scripture all of a sudden becomes extremely clear,” Linahan said. “It’s no longer mystical or a mystery, and people just latch on to expositional teaching. They finally know what the Bible is saying. So, there’s a great hunger and a great need and a great desire on their part to want these resources and to want that style of teaching.”

The pastors at the conference were also given a copy of Dr. Wong’s new book “The Prospects of Salvation,” the first in a series that he is writing in Chinese to explore the “central theme that runs from the Old Testament to the New Testament,” he said.

Dr. Wong addressed the attendees twice during the conference, introducing MacArthur and encouraging them to attend The Master's College and Seminary for a solid biblical education.

“I told them that the best place to study like John MacArthur and to preach like him is The Master's College and The Master’s Seminary, and that they are to come,” he said.

The children of Chinese Christians, who are homeschooled or attend private schools instead of state-run schools, are not eligible for Chinese universities, Linahan said. Many seek higher education outside the country, often in the U.S.

Linahan attended the conference to get the word out about TMC and to help Christian families explore both the College and Seminary as an option for them or their children.

“We were just there to say, ‘…we’re an option for you, not just biblically but also academically.’ Obviously they’re going to get solid biblical instruction (at The Master's College), campus-wide, every professor, not just in certain departments or certain professors. But secondly, …they’re going to get a solid academic foundation, which will well prepare them for the next level of graduate school.”

In bringing sound biblical materials to the Chinese church and welcoming their students to the U.S., Grace to You and The Master's College strive to help these believers better understand the God they love and faithfully serve.

“The future of the church, the hope of the church in China is in the Word of God and in knowing the God of the Word,” Dr. Wong said.

For more information about Grace Bible Fellowship in Singapore, visit their Facebook page, here.

Learn more about TMC’s international student community by clicking here.
It brings my heart great joy to see the Word go out to thirsty pastors. It is an incredible work of the Holy Spirit to raise up under-shepherds as He is doing. Just think of the multiplying possibilities, when we see all those men who will stream out across the nation of China, to share the Gospel word with lost souls! To think of the discipling opportunities in the crags and the mountains of China, God's word edifying them in a great unbroken chain of sacred life that has been going on since Calvary! I am so thankful for the Spirit to come into the hearts and minds of men who brave the hostilities of the government to share an eternal word. I'm grateful to men like Dr MacArthur and his team who labor tirelessly to make these scenes happen. And for the many anonymous donations that were sent to the team in support of their eternal and blessed work.

Thanks to all these, I may well be sitting next to a Brother or a Sister in faith at the greatest thanksgiving feast of all eternity, the Marriage Supper of the Lamb!

I'm thankful for Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Father God. I'm grateful for His angels that guard us and visit us and help us. I'm thankful for scenes like in the photo above, 1000 men, an army of the Lord, standing at the ready to wield His sword the Word. I'm thankful for the cross.

I hope you have many things to be thankful for today as well.

And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
(Colossians 3:17)

Happy Thanksgiving

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Bible Belt Georgia? Not so much: Atlanta Fire Chief suspended for publicly stating his Christian beliefs (Updated)

The court issued a judgment on this case a few days ago, which Chief Kelvin Cochran had pursued in court.

Fired over faith? Atlanta mayor, ex-fire chief both claim victory after court ruling

Christmas Comes Early: Victory for Chief Cochran Also Benefits Other City Employees 


Fire Chief suspended after publishing book calling homosexuality ‘unclean,’ ‘vulgar’
Atlanta Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran is suspended for one month without pay after publishing a book that says homosexuality and having multiple sexual partners is "vile," "vulgar", and "inappropriate". The 162-page paperback titled "Who Told You That You Were Naked?" is being sold at Mayor Kasim Reed said in a statement he learned about the book on Friday, reports Atlanta Business Chronicle broadcast partner WXIA-TV."I profoundly disagree with and am deeply disturbed by the sentiments expressed in the paperback regarding the LGBT community. I will not tolerate discrimination of any kind within my administration," Reed said.

Cochran’s book also includes an author page and describes him as a “devout Christian man” whose “greatest desire is to fulfill the purpose of God for his life and to be living proof of God’s exceeding great and precious promises.” Cochran is also a member of Elizabeth Baptist Church and serves as a deacon and teacher, according to the book’s author’s page.
Chief Kelvin Cochran. Source AJC
More at the link. Incidentally, Chief Cochran wrote the book in November 2013.

Chief Cochran has been a firefighter for thirty-four years, beginning his career in Shreveport La. He is a high-achieving man with an impeccable record,
In 2009, "President Barack Obama appointed him as U.S. Fire Administrator for the United States Fire Administration in Washington, D.C. In that capacity, Chief Cochran was charged with overseeing, coordinating, and directing national efforts to prevent fires and improve fire response. He worked extensively with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Homeland Security."
Atlanta Mayor Reed stated of the situation, "Chief Cochran will be suspended for one month without pay, Chief Cochran will be required to complete sensitivity training; Chief Cochran will be prohibited from distributing the book on city property..."
At Red State, Erick Erickson wrote,
Chief Cochran proclaims that his top priority as head of the fire department is “to cultivate its culture to the glory of God.”
Specifically, the accusation is that by being honest about his orthodox Christian views on sex and marriage, Chief Cochran is undermining the public trust in him. You’d think the government would appreciate Kelvin Cochran being a role model to young black men in Atlanta, but they are instead much more focused on not offending the gay rights community. What Mayor Reed and the gay rights community are saying is that if you work for government you cannot be open about your Christian faith.
and all this despite the fact that--
Atlanta just received a 100 score on the Human Right Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index, which includes scoring on nearly 50 factors under six broad factors including non-discrimination laws, relationship recognition, city employment policies, inclusiveness in city services, law enforcement and city leadership on matters of LGBT equality. Atlanta has been the only city in the Deep South to score a 100 two years in a row.
In January 2006, Kasim Reed introduced a bill to authorize scholastic teaching of the textbook The Bible and Its Influence, which passed into law later that year. It is the height of absurdity to mandate the government school system teach the bible, but deny a man's pay and stature for having an opinion about that same bible's teachings. Reed's bill was the first in the nation to mandate teaching the bible in public schools, but Reed punishes a man having an opinion about it. However it is not so absurd when we realize we are living in a post-Christian America.

You have to know that the gay mafia will hound this man out of office. Because we are living in a post-Christian nation, a post-Christian world at that, Romans 1:28-32 says this is what we can expect,

And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Cochran makes $172,000 a year. A one-month suspension would cost Cochran $14,333 for expressing his Christian views.
We see their slander in the LBGT 'community' saying the Chief won't put out fires at gay homes, their maliciousness in saying that that his one-month suspension isn't enough punishment. We see all this in the gay mafia's evil works.

Is it bad that we are in a post-Christian world? Not necessarily. The cultural veneer overlaid on America these last decades has allowed us to shift our attention as Christ's servants to the political arena (remember the Moral Majority?) rather than remain focused on our one job: proclaim the Gospel. It has also allowed individual Christians to relax in evangelism, especially in the Bible Belt. Well, that belt is loosening and soon enough America will be wearing no pants. In January 2014, John MacArthur commented on Post-Christian America--

Continuing Christ’s Work, part 2
Most of you older people grew up in a time period in America when there was cultural Christianity. There was a kind of Christian consensus in America. People understood the church, they understood the Bible, they understood the gospel. They understood the morality that came out of the Bible. Sometimes it was called the Judeo Christian Ethic. But even more, it was a cultural kind of Christianity. If you grew up in the south, you probably joined a church, some church, because if you joined a church, you could get a job at the bank.

If you joined a church, you could be hired somewhere because you were one of the good guys. If you joined a church, you connected with other people, and you were socially acceptable, and you were religious, and you believed in God, and that was good, like the founders of America believed. They didn’t believe in the God of the Bible, but they believed they couldn’t keep people moral if there wasn’t some divine threat. So they created a God of their own imagining to hold over peoples’ heads. So there was a belief in God, and it was defined primarily by the Bible.

So there was a kind of cultural morality that survived a long time in America, and it was showing up in elections 20 years ago, 15 years ago. There was still a consensus. We remember the moral majority, the religious right. They were still to get people elected, still able to have some clout and some power. Let me tell you something. Gone. Gone. No more. There is no more cultural Christianity. There is no collective Christian consensus that is going to have any power in this country whatsoever.

In fact, the more distinctly Christian we are, the more we will be labeled as extremists. Bizarre, alien, homophobic, intolerant, guilty of hate crimes. Cultural Christianity is, as we know it, that kind of consensus coming from a Biblical understanding is gone. It is gone. The people who now vote in America couldn’t care less. They couldn’t care less about that. The people who carry the elections, they don’t want anything to do with that. They want to escape the extremism of cultural Christianity as they see it. So I think as we go forward, it’s going to come down to this, and this is exactly where it ought to be anyway.
There are several things as Christians we can do:

First, realize that no place, no job, no person is safe from government punishment for holding biblical views. The days of safety, if there ever were any, are over. The tide holding back punishments against Christians has receded and we are at the mercy of sharks patrolling the waters who wish to submerge, devour, and obliterate any mention of biblical views whatsoever. Just a few weeks ago we were shocked in our county that the American Humanist Association and the American Civil Liberties Union pounded us for having a privately-donated statue on school grounds that contained a bible verse.

Secondly, pray for Chief Cochran. Pray the Spirit strengthens him to withstand the arrows the evil one is sending his way, and that he remains true to his convictions and that his top priority as head of the fire department remains “to cultivate its culture to the glory of God,” especially in the face of incredible employment and cultural pressure. This could be a glorious moment for his witness.

Third, buy Chief Cochran's book so he can receive royalties, or even donate to him if you feel led. No one can easily withstand a sudden suspension without pay. Can you make your mortgage if suddenly you lost a month's pay? At the very least, it will be a strained month for the man and his family. (Acts 2:45). Here is a commenter's opinion on Cochran's page:
A free press is essential to democracy, especially for opinions you disagree with. I bought this book because the author was suspended without pay from his "regular" job for a month just for writing it. I don't even know if I'll read it but harassing authors and psuedo-banning of books is the quickest way to get me to buy one. Many thanks to the His Honor the Mayor of Atlanta for making such a big deal about it and bringing it to my attention. By Ernest Lansford on November 25, 2014
The five-star and one-star reviews on his Amazon page are running about equal. There are no reviews in between. The cultural dividing line is reflected in these reviews.

Fourth- prepare yourself, no matter where you live. In America especially, ease and cushiness for the Christian is over. The Fire Chief wrote his book a year ago but his suspension came out of the blue a year later. Something you did or said a while ago could come back to haunt you. Remember, satan is on the prowl, that means he is hunting. This is what the gay mafia does, they hunt for prey, they look for ammunition to use against Christians to silence us and to try and overcome us.

So, how exactly did the Mayor of Atlanta discover the Christian opinions of his Fire Chief one year after they were stated? This way, as reported in GA Voice, (a 'Gay Atlanta' publication), in their craftily malicious headline that the Atlanta Fire Chief 'goes on an anti-gay crusade',
Retired Atlanta Fire Department Captain Cindy Thompson, who is openly gay, was informed of the book by other firefighters who were disturbed by the book. Thompson, who retired in 2009 after 30 years with the department, contacted the GA Voice to get the word out about the anti-gay book. Today she she said she talked with Robin Shahar, the LGBT liaison for Mayor Reed’s office, about the book...Thompson said she knew Chief Cochran while she worked at the department but “didn’t know this side of him.” She did say she knew he was a religious man and because she had “bad vibes” about him she voluntarily took a demotion from battalion chief to captain. “I just didn’t get a good feeling from him,” she said. “Now I see this book and know I was right all along.”
We know that the 'bad vibes' the lesbian got from the Christian Chief was because her wicked spirit recoiled from the Light in his spirit, as all homosexuals suppress the truth in their unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18). They MUST gather numbers of like-minded people to themselves because they NEED the hearty approval. They need the tipping point in order to try and silence the Christian voice.

So prepare yourself, and not just on matters involving homosexuality. Publicly stating that divorce goes against God, or adultery is wrong, or co-habitating is immoral are also stances that go against the cultural grain these days. In fact, any public statement touting a dogmatic fact of evil against God's good will get you anything from cold shoulders to outright persecution. Sometimes it even comes from 'Christians'.

In America now there is real risk of economic penalty for believing the bible literally- AND proclaiming it.

Last, continue Christ's work. We live in exciting times with exciting opportunities. John MacArthur reported that though Christianity is against the law in China, 1,000 Chinese pastors gathered in Hong Kong for a training conference and received a new study bible in Chinese. What glorious news!!!
1000 Chinese pastors received a new Chinese study bible at the
Expository Conference in Hong Kong on Sept. 23-26, 2014
MacArthur's staff reported,
The goal of the conference, a cooperative effort of The Master's College, Grace to You and Grace Bible Fellowship in Singapore, was to get John MacArthur’s material, both the study Bible and his New Testament commentaries, into the hands of as many Chinese pastors as possible...
MacArthur said in his sermon 'Continuing Christ's Work,'
The gospel is circling the globe. We’re living in the greatest revival of Biblical truth in the history of the world simply because of its electronic capabilities circle the globe. We’re also nearer the second coming than we’ve ever been as the gospel is extending to the ends of the earth. Many verses in a new testament encourage us to be faithful until he comes.
May you be faithful. May I be faithful. May we all be faithful in praying for one another. It is a dark time but it is a time of Light too. Jesus will never leave us nor forsake us, and His Gospel will prevail, it has prevailed, and the gates of hell shall not win against it. As the Amazon commenter said, thank you Mayor Reed for making a big deal out of this, so we can be aware of a situation to bring before the Lord. Chief Cochran is not alone, we are all part of a glorious church, united in our work to advance His precious Good News to the lost. We do not sing woe is us, but we sing Hallelujah.

O Lord, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory above the heavens.
Out of the mouth of babies and infants,
you have established strength because of your foes,
to still the enemy and the avenger.
~Psalm 8:1-2


Further Reading

Fire Chief Defends Christian Views on Homosexuality, Mayor Responds in the MOST Ridiculous Way

Atlanta fire chief suspended for publishing Christian views of homosexuality

Quote from Cochran's book, which as a Godly man, he did not focus solely on the sins of homosexuality, bestiality, lesbianism, etc, but also for the sin of having sex outside of marriage, having multiple partners, etc.
“Sexual acts pursued for purposes other than procreation and marital pleasure in holy matrimony is the sex life of a naked man. When men are unrestrained in their quest for sex outside of God’s purpose they will never be fulfilled. Naked men refuse to give in, so they pursue sexual fulfillment through multiple partners, with the opposite sex, same sex and sex outside of marriage and many other vile, vulgar and inappropriate ways which defile their body-temple and dishonor God. This is the kind of sex that leaves a man continually empty–the sex life of a naked man.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Reason #2,543 not to be a Beth Moore follower (or Bill Johnson, Kim Walker Smith, Ken Hagin etc...) Divination!

Phil Johnson
I was listening to Pastor Phil Johnson preach an Old Testament passage this morning. Pr. Johnson is the Executive Director of John MacArthur's site, Grace to You. I love when Johnson preaches the Old Testament and also the Psalms. He adds quite a bit of context from history, culture and even topography so the listener fully understands the scenes passing through our minds so as to picture it with detail.

The passage this morning was an overview of 2 Kings 1, "Fire From Heaven." A short synopsis is that King Ahaziah is on the throne of Judah. Ahaziah is a descendant of King Ahab, and the LORD had already spoken that eventually, no descendant of Ahab's would live. He would wipe them all out. No mean feat, as Johnson said, Ahab had 70 sons.

There was a battle, and Ahaziah stayed behind in his castle. His castle was not so safe after all, for Ahaziah fell through the lattice from a high place, incurring critical injuries. Though God is still God is Israel, and Elijah is still prophesying, Ahaziah's apostasy, or worse, ignorance of the One True God, was so deep that "he sent messengers, telling them, 'Go, inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, whether I shall recover from this sickness.'"

Therein lay the crux of the matter.

First, let's see the LORD'S response:

"Arise, go up to meet the messengers of the king of Samaria, and say to them, 'Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the LORD, You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.'" (2 Kings 1:3-4)

Ahaziah was not so ill that the LORD could not have healed him if He chose, prolonging his life until His prophecy would be fulfilled at a later time. Alternately, Ahaziah could have died instantly upon falling through the lattice.

The reason Ahaziah was going to die at that time was because he sought an oracle from another god.

God is deadly serious about not indulging in oracles, divination, predictions, sorceries, or anything similar. Consulting mediums is the major reason of what cost King Saul his kingship, his dynasty, and his life. (1 Chronicles 10:13–14). Consulting another god is what cost King Ahaziah his life.

EPrata artwork
When you come into the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the LORD. (Deuteronomy 18:9-12).

An abomination. In the Hebrew the word abomination used here also means detestable and loathsome. In that verse, the LORD hates 9 things in particular:
  1. offers child for sacrifice
  2. diviners
  3. tells fortunes
  4. interprets omens
  5. sorcery
  6. charmers
  7. medium (King Saul's sin, 1 Samuel 28)
  8. necromancer
  9. inquires of the dead
Offering a child in sacrifice refers to the biblical practice of Molech worship where parents would cast their child into the belly of Molech which was an oven, and the child would be burned alive. Parents who did this wanted a better life. Today some have likened Molech-sacrifice to abortion.

Divination is having implied power to learn secret things via various methods such as hydromancy (through water), cast bones, cast arrows, divining rod (Ezekiel 8:17 alludes to) & etc. Hepatoscopy is divining via the liver (of a dead animal), which Ezekiel 21:21 says the King of Babylon engaged in. Today occult practitioners use Tarot Cards, chicken bones, crystals, crystal ball, palm reading, Ouija boards, horoscopes and the like.

The International Bible Dictionary says of divination,
"The word "divination" itself, from deus, "god," or divus, "pertaining to god," carries with it the notion that the information obtained came from deity." Astrology is a kind of divination, via peering into secret things of 'god' via the alignment of the stars.
Mediums AKA Fortune tellers AKA witchcraft AKA soothsayers AKA necromancers (Leviticus 19:31) are persons who act as go-betweens from this world to the world of spirits. These occult practitioners claim ability to communicate with the dead or with spirits or  familiars, bringing messages back and forth between the two realms. The 'spirits of the dead' are actually demons impersonating Grandma, and thus are lying spirits. In Luke 16:18-31 we are given information that the dead stay in their abode, a great gulf is fixed between Hades and Paradise, and it is alluded to that none escape from either location to return and commune with the living. (The Witch at En-Dor's conjuring of dead Samuel is a sole exception- to drive home the point that if you do this, you will die.) As an aside, remember the 1960s TV show "Bewitched" Samantha the witch's mother was named En-dora.

Mark Batterson's The Circle Maker book is a modern practice of the ancient art of witchcraft. I explored that issue in-depth here. Contemplative prayer is another re-packaged mystical-occult practice.

Charmers, #6,is an interesting occult practice. Psalm 58:5 Jeremiah 8:17; Ecclesiastes 10:11 and mention them. Charmers are occult practitioners who are also known as are whisperers, who by their voice engage in spells so that the hearer becomes spellbound and will do as the charmer wishes. Snake charmers would play their instrument, usually a flute or other high-pitched sound and the snake wold be drawn to the charmer, stop about two feet from him, rear its head, and sway in time to the music. Afterward they would lay docile at his feet. (Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, Volume 9, by McClintock & Strong).

In the bible the intended audience was a snake, in modern times it could be any person who uses his voice to cast a spell over his audience. For example, many women attending Obama's speeches became spell-bound, swooned or fainted at the sound of his voice.

An interpreter of omens, according to the Holman Bible Dictionary, is defined-
The Israelites were prohibited from interpreting omens (Deuteronomy 18:10). Pagan prophesy employed reading of omens (Numbers 24:1, Ezekiel 21:21). As Lord of history, God frustrates the plans of “liars” who interpret omens ... The faithful witness of Christians in the face of opposition is likewise an omen or sign pointed to the salvation of believers and the destruction of God's enemies (Philippians 1:28).
Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. (Acts 19:18-19)

An interpreter of omens would be the same as a diviner. For example, a person would sacrifice at a pagan temple, and an interpreter would divine the meaning of the way the person's animal burned, the way the bones lay and such.They would extract secret meaning from these 'omens.'

Modern examples of ancient pagan/occult practices may be seen today on CBN, when one of the hosts says "I'm getting a word of knowledge from the other side that someone listening is going to be cured of a backache." Or channeling, which seems to be very popular with Neale Donald Walsch of Conversations with God, Saran Young of Jesus Calling and Beth Moore of When Godly People Do Ungodly Things, whereupon they allow their bodies to be possessed for a time by a spirit which delivers information that the authors translate into a book allegedly full of extra-biblical spiritual insights from the other side. Circle makers are engaging in witchcraft. Prayer labyrinth walkers are doing something pagan, ritualistic, and unbiblical. People like Bill Johnson of Bethel Church and Kim Walker Smith and Beth Moore and many others who say they have entertained God Himself or Jesus in other dimensions through astral travel or visions, and returned with information or predictions to give the body of believers are diviners, witches, soothsayers, fortune tellers. Inviting conjuring glory clouds, gold dust falling, feathers drifting down is nothing more than people practicing wizardry.

Source Pixabay free photos
I have written about these practitioners of the demonic occult before, and we can take no pleasure in knowing that though God's hand has mercifully stayed their execution, eventually they will face Him and the consequences of their sins. Saul did. Ahab did. Jezebel did. Ahaziah did. I am sorry for these people that they will more than likely be one of the many saying on His Day, "Lord, Lord did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ (Matthew 7:22). And He will say to them depart from m, I never knew you...

However in returning to the 2 Kings passage, let's turn from the practitioners to looking at Ahazia's followers. His subjects, army men whom Ahaziah sent to meet Prophet Elijah to hear Elijah's message.

Then the king sent to him a captain of fifty men with his fifty. He went up to Elijah, who was sitting on the top of a hill, and said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’” 10But Elijah answered the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty. (2 Kings 1:9-10)

Pulpit Commentary:
Now, Ahaziah, the son of the wicked Jezebel, had challenged Jehovah to a trial of strength by first ignoring him, and then sending a troop of soldiers to arrest his prophet. Was Elijah to succumb without an effort, or was he to vindicate the majesty and honor of Jehovah?
This happened again, so that 100 men, followers of Ahaziah were consumed.

Phil Johnson:
But Elijah's fire from heaven was meant by God as a public display of divine vindication, and a public judgment against an evil regime that sat on Israel's throne, opposing Jehovah and all He stood for. Such extreme wickedness called for a breathtaking, awe-inspiring judgment.

The judgment fell upon Ahaziah but it also fell on Ahaziah's followers, whose who followed the king, supported the king, and were an arm of the king in evil deeds.

But the third company of 50 men acted different than their predecessors.

Again the king sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. And the third captain of fifty went up and came and fell on his knees before Elijah and entreated him, “O man of God, please let my life, and the life of these fifty servants of yours, be precious in your sight. (2 Kings 1:13)

Here the men have an attitude not of command but of submission. Phil Johnson:
But the third group of soldiers is a reminder that "God . . . gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). God's mercies are never exhausted, and those who humble themselves before Him and confess their sins can always find mercy.

In today's Age of Grace, I am not saying that Beth Moore or Sarah Young or any of the modern occult practitioners will be consumed by fire. Jesus came not to destroy but to save. It is a different age. Final judgement is coming and until then, His mercies are manifold and opportunities for repentance are many. The same is true for these "teachers'" followers. Those who participate in their evil deeds, who buy Beth Moore books hoping to gain insights into the knowledge of God apart from the bible, or listen to Kim Walker Smith's visions about Jesus apart from the bible, or believe CBN's 'word of knowledge' are participating by proxy with the practitioners' occult evil deeds.

The first two groups of fifty men believed the king to be the highest authority and took to arrest the man of God. The third group of fifty men believed Elijah as the proxy for the highest authority and submitted to God.

God always looks favorably on humility and repentance. He looks unfavorably to the proud and stiff-necked.

Do not practice divination-by-proxy by following those who practice it. If you have been doing so, if you repent, God gives grace to the humble. Amanda Bowers repented, publicly, of her Beth Moore and Henry Blackaby following.

Harold Camping, predicter of the end of the world by specific date (fortune telling), did.

Sunny Shell did, too, not so much for following a diviner but publicly repented for something else.

You don't have to repent publicly if you haven't taught anything publicly to be repenting of, but the glory here is pointing to several real and recent examples of where the Spirit showed these people the error of their ways and in repenting gave glory to Him, just as the third group of 50 soldiers did. The idea is that God awaits a contrite heart, a seeking heart, a submissive heart. He is a great God who is literally a consuming fire -to the men of Ahaziah- but he is a loving Father to His children who seek  to practice not occultism, but righteousness.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Jesus' prayer was heard because of His reverence: How is your prayer life?

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. (Hebrews 5:7)

It's a powerful verse. In reading it this time, I became captivated with the word "because." Several Commenters explain the verse (but none fully exploring the because, I was sad to notice)-

Pulpit Commentary
Christ is in them regarded, not as executing his priestly office, but as being prepared and consecrated for it. For, although for himself Christ needed no atonement, yet the "prayers and supplications" were offered in his own behalf, being due to his own entire participation in the conditions of humanity; the whole "agony and bloody sweat" were part of his own preparation and consecration for executing the office of a High Priest for others, and, like the Aaronic priest's offering for himself, they were the sign and evidence of his being one.
Barnes Notes
Such was his piety that the prayer was “heard,” though it was not literally answered. A prayer may be “heard” and yet not literally answered; it may be acceptable to God, though it may not consist with his arrangements to bestow the very blessing that is sought.
Matthew Henry Complete Commentary
He was heard in that he feared. He had an awful sense of the wrath of God, of the weight of sin. His human nature was ready to sink under the heavy load, and would have sunk, had he been quite forsaken in point of help and comfort from God but he was heard in this, he was supported under the agonies of death.

The Prosperity, Word/Faith, 'Declare It and It's Yours' crowd should heed Hebrews 5:7. Jesus was heard BECAUSE of His reverence. There is a cause here. We do well to pay attention to the 'little words'. I then think of the opposite: is a person not heard because of their irreverence? Is there a time or occasion that God does not listen to prayer? Yes, there are times God will not listen to or will even refuse to answer prayer. Just because a person 'speaks it' does not mean it will come to pass or even that God will listen.

So what are the times God will not listen? In general, God will not heed the prayers of an unbeliever. Here's more from Grace To You-

Does God answer the prayers of unbelievers?
God is sovereign and can choose to answer any prayer He sees fit. But Scripture clearly indicates that God does not listen to or answer every prayer. In fact, Scripture gives at least fifteen reasons for unanswered prayer. God does not answer the prayer of those:

1) Who have personal and selfish motives.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures (James 4:3).

2) Who regard iniquity in their hearts.

If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear (Psalm 66:18).

3) Who remain in sin.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2). Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

4) Who offer unworthy service to God.

"You are presenting defiled food upon My altar. But you say, 'How have we defiled You?' In that you say, 'The table of the LORD is to be despised.' But when you present the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? And when you present the lame and sick, is it not evil? Why not offer it to your governor? Would he be pleased with you? Or would he receive you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts. "But now will you not entreat God's favor, that He may be gracious to us? With such an offering on your part, will He receive any of you kindly?" says the LORD of hosts.

5) Who forsake God.

Thus says the Lord to this people: "Thus they have loved to wander; They have not restrained their feet. Therefore the Lord does not accept them; He will remember their iniquity now, And punish their sins." Then the Lord said to me, "Do not pray for this people, for their good. When they fast, I will not hear their cry; and when they offer burnt offering and grain offering, I will not accept them. But I will consume them by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence (Jeremiah 14:10-12).

6) Who reject God's call.

Because I [Wisdom] have called and you refused, I have stretched out my hand and no one regarded, Because you disdained all my counsel, And would have none of my rebuke.... Then they will call on me, but I will not answer; They will seek me diligently, but they will not find me (Proverbs 1:24-25, 28).

7) Who will not heed God's law.

One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination (Proverbs 28:9). "But they refused to heed, shrugged their shoulders, and stopped their ears so that they could not hear. Yes, they made their hearts like flint, refusing to hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Thus great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. Therefore it happened, that just as He proclaimed and they would not hear, so they called out and I would not listen," says the Lord of hosts. (Zechariah 7:11-13).

8) Who turn a deaf ear to the cry of the poor.

Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor, Will also cry himself and not be heard. (Proverbs 21:13).

9) Who are violent.

When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood (Isaiah 1:15; see also 59:2-3).

10) Who worship idols.

Therefore thus says the Lord: "Behold, I will surely bring calamity on them which they will not be able to escape; and though they cry out to Me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry out to the gods to whom they offer incense, but they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of your cities were your gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, altars to burn incense to Baal. So do not pray for this people, or lift up a cry or prayer for them; for I will not hear them in the time that they cry out to Me because of their trouble." (Jeremiah 11:11-14; see also Ezekiel 8:15-18).

11) Who have no faith.

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord (James 1:6-7).

12) Who are living in hypocrisy.

Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy (Luke 12:1).

13) Who are proud of heart.

God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).

14) Who are self-righteous.

The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, "God, I thank You that I am not like other men-extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess." And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, "God, be merciful to me a sinner!" I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted (Luke 18:11-14).

15) Who mistreat God's people.

You have also given me the necks of my enemies, So that I destroyed those who hated me. They cried out, but there was none to save; Even to the Lord, but He did not answer them (Psalm 18:40-41). You who hate good and love evil; Who strip the skin from My people, And the flesh from their bones; Who also eat the flesh of My people, Flay their skin from them, Break their bones, And chop them in pieces, Like meat for the pot, Like flesh in the cauldron. Then they will cry to the Lord, But He will not hear them; He will even hide His face from them at that time, Because they have been evil in their deeds (Micah 3:2-4).
Graphics Fairy
Does God hear the prayers of believers? Yes...but He has conditions for answering them. He is still a Father and we don't always pray along the lines of what is best for us. He is not bound to answer just because we speak it. We must pray according to His will.

First, we must pray and not doubt. (James 1:6).

James 4:3 was mentioned above, it goes for believers too: “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures”.

Pray for the things for which the Bible commands prayer. We are told to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44); for God to send missionaries (Luke 10:2); that we do not enter temptation (Matthew 26:41); for ministers of the Word (Colossians 4:3; 2 Thessalonians 3:1); for government authorities (1 Timothy 2:1-3); for relief from affliction (James 5:13); and for the healing of fellow believers (James 5:16). Where God commands prayer, we can pray with confidence that we are praying according to His will.
Graphics Fairy
Pray privately (for the most part). Of course I'm not saying don't pray in church, or not to give thanks at a public meal, or not to pray at a public revival, or at an event such as National Day of prayer, but for the most part, God commands us to pray in our prayer closet. When we are at our most reverential, private, transparent, and quiet, we are praying by ourselves to God, before God, and through Jesus with no distractions.

Jesus was heard because of his reverence, AKA His fear. He wasn't afraid per se, but feared God because He knew who God is. I would dare to say that when one prays and does not doubt, that person's prayer is a mixture of confidence and reverence. If one does not doubt, one knows who God is, and what He is able to do; and if you know who God is, you're reverent toward Him.

The verse doesn't say "He was heard," but it says "He was heard because of His reverence." I like to pay attention to the 'little words' and I think on those a great deal.

I would consider it a gift from God for my prayers to be heard because of my reverence. Like the father exclaiming in Mark 9:24, "I believe, help my unbelief!", I say, 'I pray, but help my ridiculous prayer life!'

Dearest Holy Spirit, ignite my heart with a Godly fear, instill in me a reverence, a confidence, and an awareness of my sins, so that I might abide in Him. (John 15:7). Pray ceaselessly.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Signs: Earthquake and sinkhole update

As a person living on planet earth, I'm fascinated by earthquakes. In Maine, when a quake happens it's usually below the shaking level and we only hear a boom or two. I never had experienced but one or two quakes in my area during the time I lived there. (30 years).

Georgia's proximity to a seismic area in Charleston means that sometimes residents in this state can feel a shaking or two. A year ago or so there was a quake that I felt. It rattled the house and the window air conditioner bounced up and down, as if a heavy succession of overladen trucks had passed by.

It was eerie to be walking through the living room and suddenly the ground under your feet shakes and shakes. You think that the ground is solid, but it's not!! During particularly rough quakes, the ground actually liquifies!

Many millions of people live in areas where earthquakes are more of a hazard and are even a life-threatening danger. Many live in places where the ground more than shakes for a moment, but actually ruptures and swallows people or collapses buildings on top of them. [shudder].

As a Christian I'm interested in earthquakes because of the way God uses them. He is the creator of this planet. The earth and everything in it is His.

The earth is the LORD's, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; (Psalm 24:1)

If the LORD wants to announce His presence on Sinai before talking with Moses, He will. (Exodus 19:18). If the LORD wants to open the ground under rebellious Korah and his cohorts, He will. (Numbers 16:32). If He wants to use an earthquake to announce His Son's death, He will do so. (Matthew 27:51-54). Likewise when His Son resurrected, He announced the glorious news by, among other methods, shaking the earth. (Matthew 28:2)

God uses earthquakes in many ways and for many reasons. In the future prophetic times there will also be great earthquakes, to split Jerusalem into three parts (as part of the Tribulation's ongoing re-arrangement of the earth to ready it for a return to pre-flood perfection). A great earthquake will defeat the hordes come to attack Jerusalem in the last days, so we can clearly see that quakes are used by God to smite an enemy's military or to aid His people Israel during battle- as He did to the Philistines at Geba. (1 Samuel 14:15).

God communicates His greatness through earthquakes, and He demonstrates His ownership of the earth as its Creator when He shakes it.

Jesus said that earthquakes will be a sign of approaching tribulation of the end of days. (Matthew 24:7). He said the signs He was speaking of will be as birth pangs. Birth pains get worse and worse and more and more painful as the moment of birth approaches, and many people take His metaphor to mean the signs He spoke of will increase painfully also. This is the way I interpret verses 4-8 in chapter 24, as being signs during the Age of Grace, with verse 9 swinging into the discussion of the actual Tribulation.

So, are earthquakes increasing? Until 2014 most scientists said no, or they denied that they were increasing, anyway. However as I've been showing my annual December 31 "By the Numbers" posts for several years now, the United States' Geological Survey's own data and their 100-year averages show that they are.

Now scientists are saying, well, yeah, earthquakes are increasing. The following article is from LiveScience this past June

Big Earthquakes Double in 2014, But They're Not Linked
If you think there have been more earthquakes than usual this year, you're right. A new study finds there were more than twice as many big earthquakes in the first quarter of 2014 as compared with the average since 1979. "We have recently experienced a period that has had one of the highest rates of great earthquakes ever recorded," said lead study author Tom Parsons, a research geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) in Menlo Park, California.
The article quotes scientists who had previously surmised that larger quakes trigger smaller ones, but the increase in large quakes in the present day has not triggered any other ones, hence the second part of the title to the article, 'they're not linked'. The article continues,
As our group has been interested in the ability of an earthquake to affect others at a global scale, we wondered if we were seeing it happening. I really expected we would see evidence of something we couldn't explain by randomness," Parsons told Live Science's Our Amazing Planet in an email interview. The new study isn't the first time researchers have tried and failed to link one earthquake to another in time and across distance.
Here is another article from just several days ago reporting earthquakes on the rise. This article narrows the scope to just earthquakes around Oklahoma. We take note not just of the sheer number earthquakes increasing, but Jesus said they will occur in diverse places. An earthquake can be of note because of the location it occurred. It can be of note due to the magnitude. An earthquake doesn't have to be a 9.0 to attract attention, but a 3.3 can be equally interesting. More on that in a moment.

Earthquakes on the rise; scientists warn of larger quake possibilities
It's been such a dramatic increase the state and seismologists like Austin Holland can barely keep up. With 4,600 quakes this year alone so far, it [the state capitol] averages to 14 quakes a day. "It's pretty remarkable how many significant earthquakes we've had," Holland said. While the state's biggest quake remains at a 5.6 that hit Prague back in 2011, large quakes are happening more often. Holland says the trend doesn't bode well for the state.
This week's quakes show several significant ones. USGS embeds the data in a pink banner to show the significance. Others were simply of interest because they were big.

3.3 magnitude ENE of Irving, Texas
6.3 magnitude NNE of Omachi, Japan
6.5 magnitude WNW of Tobelo, Indonesia
3.8 magnitude NW of Eutaw, Alabama
4.2 magnitude S of San Juan Bautista, California
6.7 NE of Gisborne, New Zealand

Why is the Irving TX quake in pink, indicating it was an event of significance to USGS? I don't know. I have not been able to find an explanation on the USGS site explaining why they consider certain quakes highly significant. I can only guess: the location would seem to indicate it is a low-seismic area. Here is an excerpt from a news article about the quake--

Quake centered in Irving rocks Dallas area
In the past year, about three dozen earthquakes of magnitude 2.0 or more have struck communities in North Texas. Some quakes were strong enough to crack home walls and foundations. Most of the quakes hit months ago, though three of them rattled the Dallas-Fort Worth area in September, waking some residents from sleep.
Small North Texas quake triggers social media stir
A magnitude-3.3 earthquake has shaken North Texas strong enough to draw reaction during a Dallas Stars hockey game. The U.S. Geological Survey said the quake occurred about 9:15 p.m. Saturday and was centered about 2 miles beneath east Irving, around 6 miles northwest of Dallas. It was the sixth and strongest quake centered near Irving in two months. Small quakes have become more common recently in Texas.

It should be noted that scientists believe that both in TX and in OK that hydraulic fracturing as part of the oil extraction process is what is triggering these quakes.


A sinkhole opening up is something I'm quite nerved up over and fascinated by, both. It's the same vein as earthquakes- thinking the ground is solid under your fet (and if you can't trust the solid ground, what CAN you trust?) and then suddenly it's air. Do you see in the recent sinkhole that opened up in Russia, the row of houses, and then the hole? Did houses fall into the hole? People? [shudder]

Wall Street photo of the day
A view of a sinkhole stretching 20 meters by 30 meters at the Solikamsk-2 mine in Russia’s Perm region. Tass/Zuma Press

Natal, Brazil:

Sinkhole grows just miles from World Cup Stadium
A sinkhole that opened up last week in the wake of record-breaking rainfall in the World Cup host city of Natal, Brazil continues to expand, swallowing homes and cars and forcing the evacuation of 150 families.  More rain fell on the coastal city in three days last week—more than 13 inches worth—than the area usually sees in the entire month of June, sparking landslides, flash flooding and opening up the sinkhole four miles from the Arena das Dunas stadium in a hillside favela, according to the BBC. No one was killed or injured, the Associated Press reports.  The Associated Press also reports that some 150 families have been evacuated from the affected area. According to local news reports, some of those families are being sheltered by government agencies and local schools and churches.
BBC: Huge sinkhole near World Cup Stadium
Photo BBC
Residents have been evacuated from a favela near one of Brazil's World Cup stadiums, after a huge sinkhole opened up. Footage shows partially-collapsed homes perched on the edge of the crater in Natal, already filled with household appliances, furniture and vehicles. The hole is four miles (6.5km) from the Arena das Dunas stadium, which will host the Group D match between Italy and Uruguay on Tuesday. The sinkhole opened up earlier this week after record rainfall, but has continued to grow since.

A massive sinkhole near Tampa, Fla. swallows up a car and driveway, Nov. 10, 2014. The family had five minutes to escape.

Third Sinkhole Forms, Swallows Part of Car
HOLIDAY, Fla. — Nov 16, 2014, 10:47 AM ET Associated Press  A third hole has formed in in the driveway of a Tampa Bay-area neighborhood and swallowed a car to its bumper.  Pasco County spokesman Doug Tobin says the new hole opened Saturday in the front yard of a resident's home. It was about six feet deep and grew about 10 feet wide. The resident is temporarily relocating.  Two other holes formed earlier this week about a quarter mile away. Engineers have to confirm that the depressions are sinkholes.  The first hole grew to 10 feet wide and 10 feet deep. The mobile home at the brink of that hole was condemned. Five other homes were evacuated.  Tobin says work has been suspended on a nearby sewer lift station due to the subsurface activity
The Lord will come back when He comes back. It seems like it might be soon, but only the Father knows for sure. I pray that when He does, I will be counted as one who was longing for His appearing. (2 Timothy 4:8). I so yearn to see His face, to be sinless, finally. I long for the world to claim Him as LORD of Lords and KING of Kings, whether voluntarily or not. I want every knee to bow, including mine. I want the world to be restored and released from its curse, where the ground doesn't cry out from the blood shed on it. (Genesis 4:10). I want no babies to be aborted but each one (in the Millennium kingdom) to be cherished. I want to love perfectly.

Praise the Lord that someday, I will. Thanks to His grace and His desire to gather a people unto Himself, someday, soon I hope, we will be with Him.


Institute for Creation Research: Great Earthquakes of the Bible

By the Numbers 2013

By the Numbers 2012

By the Numbers 2010

ABC News: Incredible sinkholes around the world

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