Thursday, April 30, 2015

The four sin-restraining mechanisms presently operating in the world (not too well, obviously)

I was listening to a sermon from John MacArthur, delivered this past February 2015, apparently to a group of law enforcement officers. It's called How God Restrains Evil in Society. To sum up the main points, there are four ways God restrains evil:

1. The conscience. Everyone has the law written on their heats. "They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them" (Romans 2:15). This means that intrinsically, people intuit right from wrong. Their conscience tells them when they've drifted into the 'wrong' side of the street.

2. The Family.
While conscience is a personal restraint, family is a relational restraint. Family is the building block of society. Family is the building block of civilization. God has established the family to be a loving, truthful, exemplary place that restrains evil in the next generation.
3. The Civil Authority (including law enforcement).
This is a societal restraint. Biblically, the prime duty of civil authority – if you look at the Bible, the Old Testament and New Testament – it’s not charity, it’s not economics. The primary duty of civil authority is the moral well-being of its citizens. It is restraining sinners and rewarding those who do good so that we can be civilized; enjoy a measure of peace and joy in life and God’s creation.
4. The Holy Spirit through the church
The final restraint is the church; the church. That is a spiritual restraint. And when I talk about the church, I’m talking about the organized church because there are a lot of false churches and a lot of phony religion as you all know very well. I’m talking about true Christians, true believers. What makes us a restraint is because God has done a work in us that is internal. (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
A little side trip regarding the Holy Spirit as Restrainer-
The Holy Spirit of God is the only Person with sufficient (supernatural) power to do this restraining. ... How does He do it? Through Christians, whom He indwells and through whom He works in society to hold back the swelling tide of lawless living. How will He be taken out of the way? When the church leaves the earth in the Rapture, the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way in the sense that His unique lawlessness-restraining ministry through God’s people will be removed (cf. Gen. 6:3). The removal of the Restrainer at the time of the Rapture must obviously precede the day of the Lord. Paul’s reasoning is thus a strong argument for the pretribulational Rapture: the Thessalonians were not in the Great Tribulation because the Rapture had not yet occurred.
Constable, T. L. (1985). 2 Thessalonians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 719). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

It is so saddening to see the restraints lift. In each case I believe it is plain to see that sin is advancing beyond the previous beachheads.

1. The Conscience
There is force and fervor in the declarations of the individual who suppresses the truth in unrighteousness, searing their conscience. Gay pride, (a monstrous reversal where sodomy was against the law until recently but is now celebrated 'proudly') polygamous marriage, ("what's one more? It doesn't change the definition of marriage") child molestation ("it's how I show love"), pornography ("it doesn't hurt anyone") are but a few examples of how the sinner is attempting to normalize sin to the expense of their conscience- and eternal destiny.

2. The Family
As for the family, we saw a stark example of a mom restraining sin in her son this week. In Baltimore as the riots were ongoing over the muddy circumstances of the death of Freddie Gray in police custody, a mom spotted her son throwing bricks with the rioters and she marched in and smacked him down and boxed his ears and took him by the proverbial earlobe to home.

The NY Post opinion piece stated:
Parents have authority that a badge cannot confer. Son realized the person who knows him best, and is more interested than anyone else in his well-being, was right. So he submitted to her superior authority. Crime, conviction and punishment all happened without the criminal justice system getting involved.
What's interesting is the fact that so many people are hailing the Baltimore mom for...doing her job. This is because society infrequently sees strong parenting, or parenting with authority. Parents long ago capitulated their jurisdiction and ceded their ground to the children. It's most exhibited in the parent who constantly asks their child for permission to do such and such. "Do you want to go home now?" "Can you please put down the screwdriver?" "Do you need a nap?" The questions should be "Why are we thrilled a mom hunted down her son and prevented him from wrong doing? Where is his dad? Why did the mom have to wade into a dangerous situation to extract her son? And...where were all the other parents of the teens out there in the riot and why didn't they come get their kids?

3. Civil Authority
I believe anyone who has eyes can see the difficulty in being a law enforcement officer in these days. The law is little regarded and sinful behavior is increasing. Flash mobs (pleasant public pop-up groups of people who sing in harmony to surprised and happy spectators) have shifted to angry mobs lobbing bricks and beating police. The Baltimore Police lost control and were overwhelmed with the fierceness of the reaction to Freddie Gray's death, circumstances which are still being investigated by the way.

But in very recent years the Baltimore incident is not alone in showing the suddenness of fierce rioting and police losing control. London (2011), Vancouver (2011), Egypt (2012), Ferguson MO (2014) are all top-of-the mind examples of rioting where civil authority was not strong enough to restrain sin, i.e. where police lost control.

Communities are responding with ever-increasing heavy-handed tactics. Rolling out the SWAT team as a first-pass instead of a last resort for example. Purchasing military-grade equipment, is another example. Showy drills and practices is yet another example of the show of force the civil authority is forced to make in response to increasing lawlessness of both the legal and spiritual kind.

There is some push-back to the military intrusiveness into civil authority. One Texas town was concerned enough with troops drilling with military grade equipment they sent the State Guard to monitor them so martial law would not be instilled.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbot ordered the Texas State Guard to monitor federal troops as they conduct Jade Helm 15 military exercises later this year that some fear are a prelude to declaring martial law. ... Operation Jade Helm 15 is a massive training exercise involving 1,200 special operations troops operating clandestinely in several southwest states, including Texas, which, for the duration of the exercise, has been designated a hostile country.
The Governor is being made fun of and called paranoid, but martial law was put in place in Boston after the terrorist bombing at the Marathon, and again in Baltimore as the riots erupted. The problem is not martial law, when it's temporary until a riot or terrorist situation is under control. It's forgetting to lift martial law afterwards.

Not many towns like the one in Texas resist the heavier handed displays of force to combat rising lawlessness. It's a circle the drain situation because the more citizens disobey the law the fiercer the law enforcement gets, the harder the lawless ones push, and so on. The bottom line is that civil authority such as laws, police, and jails are beachheads that have been penentrated and are presently being overrun.

4. The church
This is a sad one too. It is 'organized religion' that is the restrainer at present (energized by the Spirit) but organized religion is under attack- from inside. "Christians" decry organized religion and want only a "relationship with Jesus", but the Church is a restraining force Jesus instituted for the benefit of society through one-on-one evangelizing and for making disciples. Change occurs on the inside of a person by Jesus making a new creation. The soul-by-soul salvation and protection and growth of the new babes in Christ takes place in the church through the mechanism of organized religion. When religion is organized it is easier to submit to those in authority because you actually know who they are. It is easier for the pastor to hold those who are part of the organization accountable because he actually knows who they are. But many liberals want to do away with the organized religion part, making 'Jesus followers' like free-floating amoebas occasionally bumping into one another and then drifting around in a primordial soup of feel good platitudes that passes for purity.

This attitude is a direct attack on the force that Christians have in restraining sin. Combine that attack with apostasy and many tares infiltrating the church and you have a visible 'church' that can't, won't, or doesn't know how to restrain sin.

One example of this is the decree that famous pastors have signed announcing they will not follow the law if the Supreme Court institutes gay marriage for all the land. Many, many of the signatories are not of the faith. Signatories include Orthodox priests, Catholic priests, James Robison, Rick Joyner, Rod Parsley, Sid Roth, John Hagee, Franklin Graham, Johnathan Cahn, female pastors, self-styled prophets, false; all of them. It is nice to politically stand for marriage but it is not biblical to partner with darkness to do it. We change people from the inside by giving the Gospel and the Spirit birthing them again.

Yet the world is reporting that the 'church' and 'pastors' are objecting to the pending decision by SCOTUS. Yet those above are not the church. They are tares. Sin isn't being restrained, not with that crowd.

If these 4 vanguards of sin-restraint, (conscience, family, civil authority and the church) are weakening to such a degree, how much closer would the rapture be when the Church is totally taken out of the way and he who has been restrained (antichrist) is let loose? How long until the man of sin is released onto a world that wants to 'be free'? How long until no one will tell anyone else that what they are doing is wrong, and which offends a holy God? Sinners, be careful what you ask for.

As for us, we continue to be holy as He is holy, relying on the Spirit to continue in the faith. Shine brightly, the light of holiness and purity will be a beacon to those who are either being drawn to Him or are being repelled and want to shield their eyes.

What should we do in these times? Protect our restraining mechanisms.

1. Conscience
Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:22)

2. The Family
The strong, biblical family is a stepping stone to keeping the church pure-
For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? (1 Timothy 3:5).

3. Civil Authority.
Rome was a brutal and evil empire in many respects. The first century saints were told to submit to it. (1 Peter 2:12, Romans 13:5). We do the same. Unless we are forced by law to directly contradict God's law, we submit to civil authority. And don't let your kids throw bricks at police.

4. The Church
Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:20-22)

Keep the church pure by being pure yourself. Also, respect doctrine and keep it pure. Speak up in humility when errant doctrine infiltrates your church. And pastors, practice rightly biblical church discipline so the church will remain strong. We need the church to restrain sin in the world. Pray.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The "good" in God's plan for your life

Here is an exchange on Twitter that occurred this evening.

The Prosperity gospel/Word of Faith that the Osteens and their kind promote is a deathly error. It drags away the unwary, it devastates the witness of the true Christians, and it condemns the Osteens to hell.

The "good" plan for your life, according to the Osteens, is a healthy checkbook, a large house, health, and happiness.

However the "Good" that Jesus plans for us may or may not include any of the above. Peter was told by Jesus that Peter will stretch out his hands and go where he will not want to go (crucifixion. John 21:18). Paul was told he will be tormented in every city will he ever travel to.

"And now, behold, bound in spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me." (Acts 20:22-23)

Stephen was bashed in the head with rocks, dying a martyr's death. This does not sound like "a good plan for your life."

What satan offered Eve was a temptation involving the lust of the flesh, the pride of the eyes and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16). In other words, the world. And the Osteens offer the world, too, wrapped in a veneer of prosperity and 'happiness'.

Was Stephen happy when he was being stoned? No but yes. He was in pain but also saw the Jesus in glory standing at the right hand of the Father. Was Paul "happy" when he was beaten and left for dead? Or put in chains in jail? No but yes. He wrote in Philippians 4:4, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice."

I have a feeling if Victoria Osteen was beaten and left for dead she would not have the wherewithal nor the capacity to shout Rejoice! That is because the Osteens attach happiness to their worldly circumstances. Paul did no such thing. He rejoiced with friends at supper, while teaching in the synagogue making disciples, sewing a tent, or while sitting in chains in the sewer sludge. That's because his 'happiness', prosperity, joy, came from above, not the world.

The 'good' in God's plan is Good not because we receive pleasant things from the world. It is good because:
  • God made the plan and everything God does is good. We proclaim this by faith, and
  • All things work together for the good of those who love Him, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28, and
  • God receives glory from the perfect outworking of His plan. The good is the glory He gains when saints acknowledge Him as good, no matter their circumstances. The 'good' in our lives is Jesus, not the world nor the things in it.
We do not seek the things the world calls good, but the things that God calls good. 

We do not say in our greetings and our letters and our prayers, "I want a mansion, perfect health, and a fat checkbook for myself" but we say -

May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you (Jude 1:2) because it was multiplied to us. Now that's good!


Further Reading 

Al Mohler: The Osteen Predicament

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

And now a word from our sponsor: the Word of God

Saturday was a great morning and I'll tell you why. Last week was the beginning of State Testing, it's a demanding time for the kids and test administrators, proctors, and everyone else. Very stressful. On Friday I had a bad day after receving some news about a student. I arrived home Friday feeling beaten up, wrung out, run over, and cast off. I was wiped out.

Did you ever get home from a long week and your body just throbs? Pulses with stress and worldly pollution and reverberating with clanging and noise you just can't seem to get out or clear your head? That was Friday night.
Satruday morning I slept late, always nice. (until 7:00 am!). I got my Bountiful Basket from a friend who who kindly picks it up for me in Athens when she goes to get hers, and we meet halfway between. I came home and roasted broccoli, butternut squash, orange peppers, and spaghetti squash. On BB weekends which occur every other Saturday, when I process the produce and cook, I listen to sermons. I enjoy Refnet, Reformation Network. It's a 24-hour online radio station featuring expositional sermons, prayers from the Valley of Vision, music and hymns, devotionals, some talk on news issues from a Christian perspective, and plain old reading of the word, uninterrupted and unadulterated. It's a great network. No ads, and it's free.

So on Saturday morning while my hands worked, my mind was busy listening. I listened to three sermons on while I cooked: Alistair Begg on David and Goliath (which is not about facing your giants but is about the might of God), RC Sproul on Mary's Magnificat (brought me to tears), and John MacArthur on predestination in Romans 8, gorgeous.

Reformation Network: 24-Hour Internet Radio Committed To the Historic Christian Faith

As for the prayers, I heard one from the Valley of Vision that just about killed me, it was so beautifully written. Here is just part of it:
Lord Jesus, give me a deeper repentance, a horror of sin, a dread of its approach. Help me to flee it and jealously to resolve that my heart shall be yours alone. Give me a deeper trust, that I may lose myself to find myself in you, the ground of my rest, the spring of my being. Give me a deeper knowledge of you as Savior, Master, Lord, and King. Give me deeper power in private prayer, more sweetness in your Word, more steadfast grip on its truth. Give me deeper holiness in speech, thought, action, and let me not seek moral virtue apart from you. The Valley of Vision (Puritan Prayer)

When people are stressed or overwhelmed they do a lot of things. They work out. They go for a walk. They cook ;). They enjoy their hobby/game/movie. For the Christian, there is no better stress reliever than the Word. Read it or listen to it. I don't know how to explain the supernatural advance of the Spirit in us, but when I listen to the reading of the word and sermons explaining the word and music that praises the Lord, it does something to me. It washes me from the inside. It restores me, cleans me, revives me.

After a few hours, my heart was expanded with love for Jesus, my head was full of scripture, and my belly was satisfied with food He had provided.

The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; (Psalm 19:7a)

he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name's sake. (Psalm 23:3)

I am exceedingly afflicted; Revive me, O LORD, according to Thy word. (Psalm 119:107)

for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Isaiah 40:29)

and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might (Ephesians 1:19)

The reviving energy of the Word is part of the great power He bestows on us.
The word “power” (dynamis; cf. 3:20) means a spiritually dynamic and living force. This power of God is directed toward believers. Paul then used three additional words to describe God’s power. It is according to the working (energeian, “energetic power,” from which comes the Eng. “energy”) of the might (kratous, “power that overcomes resistance,” as in Christ’s miracles; this word is used only of God, never of believers) of God’s inherent strength (ischyos) which He provides (cf. 6:10; 1 Peter 4:11). This magnificent accumulation of words for power under scores the magnitude of God’s “great power” available to Christians.
Hoehner, H. W. (1985). Ephesians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 620). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
What a good and loving God we have. His word is eternal and strong, it refreshes, revives, strengthens, and enlivens. Don't put off reading it or listening to it.

Before reading/listening to the Word

After reading/listening to the Word

Monday, April 27, 2015

To those who harm children:

Sin is ramping up so much and families are just disintegrating. It all falls on the children. They take the brunt.

Just as Cain killed Abel and the LORD said,

"And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground." Genesis 4:10

Parents, Adults, what have you done? The children's tears cry out from the ground!

Just as Abel's blood cried out from the ground, the children of the world and our county who are neglected, abused, trafficked, homeless, hungry, aborted...their pain slips out of them at night when they cry, their tears seep into the ground. 

The flood of tears is saturating the ground that the ground cries out to God for justice. The agony of the world's sin is painful enough, but the children are suffering terribly, horribly and their tears wet the earth and the earth gives up its strength and weeps with the children.

The strong arm of Jehovah and the antichrist's withered arm

There are many symbols in the bible. Many of those symbols refer to an aspect of God, the Spirit, or Jesus. In the case of God, his ability to reach into the doings of humankind is shown in a symbol of His mighty Arm, or His right hand. I focus on His arm.

I was listening to a sermon by RC Sproul on Mary's Magnificat, and in Luke 1:51, Mary extols the strength of the LORD by His arm in saying,

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; (Luke 1:51)

Here are other verses which do the same:

Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” (Isaiah 53:1)

You Yourself crushed Rahab like one who is slain; You scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm. (Psalms 89:10)

"Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, 'I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments." (Exodus 6:6)

Dr Henry Morris at The Institute for Creation Research wrote,
"The LORD hath made bare his holy arm in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God." (Isaiah 52:10)

The human arm is often used in the Bible to symbolize spiritual strength or power. The word is first used in Jacob's dying prophecy concerning His beloved son Joseph: "But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob" (Genesis 49:24).

The source of all true strength is in the mighty God, so it is not surprising to find at least 40 biblical references to the Lord's powerful "arm" or "arms." One of the most striking is our text, promising that when God "bares His arm" for His great work of delivering the lost world from its bondage to Satan and sin and death, then the whole world will see His salvation (literally, His "Jesus").
It is an interesting article, please feel free to click the link and read the rest.

The arm of the LORD symbolizes many aspects of Himself, but for now we focus on the strength. How much more can we see the lack of strength when we contrast the following verse,

He stomps the earth but his arm is withered!
Woe to my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be wholly withered, his right eye utterly blinded!” (Zechariah 11:17)

That powerful chapter of Zechariah depicts a several-fold prophecy over the course of time. Zechariah is prophesying about Israel's future rejection of Christ. Here is an outline of the verses' meanings by Roy Gingrich:
3. The coming of a false shepherd (11:15–17)
(Because Israel rejected Her true Shepherd, God will chasten her by giving her a false shepherd. There is already a time gap of more than 1900 years between verses 11:14 and 11:15.)
a. His character—He will be “a foolish, (wicked) shepherd.” The Old Testament writers often associated foolishness and wickedness. See Psa. 14:1.
b. His identity—He is: (1) The “little horn,” Dan. 7:8; (2) “the desolator,” Dan. 9:27; (3) “the willful king,” Dan. 11:36; (4) “the man of sin,” 2 Thes. 2:3; and (5) the “Antichrist,” 1 John 2:18.
c. His origin—God will indirectly raise him up to punish His people, 11:16. Satan will directly raise him up to promote his end-time total rebellion against God, 2 Thes. 2:4; Rev. 19:19.
d. His ruthless ministry—He will not feed, but will fleece, the flock. He will not tend, but will tear, the flock. He will not edify, but will eat, the flock. He will not feed, but will feed on, the flock.
e. His punishment (his end)—He will receive woe. His right arm (with which he slew the sheep) will be completely dried up and his right eye (with which he looked upon the sheep for evil) will be completely blinded. These things mean he will be utterly destroyed, Dan. 9:27; 2 Thes. 2:8; Rev. 19:20. God will first use and then punish this masterpiece of Satan.

Gingrich, R. E. (1999). The Books of Haggai and Zechariah (p. 52). Memphis, TN: Riverside Printing.
The worthless shepherd will strike the sheep, but the LORD will wither his arm.
EPrata photo
This foolish and wicked shepherd Zechariah speaks of is the prophesied antichrist, also spoken of in the book of Daniel. John MacArthur writes of the Zechariah verse,
With the removal of the true shepherd, the drama called for the prophet to play a foolish shepherd, who depicted the antichrist of Daniel's 70th week. (cf. 2 Thess 2:3; John 5:43; Dan 9:27). Zechariah's prophecy jumped from the first century A.D. to the last days before the second coming, omitting the present mystery of the church age.
This foolish (wicked) shepherd had a broken staff or club that he used to beat stubborn sheep into submission, something clearly inappropriate for a shepherd who thoughtfully and carefully cared for his sheep. Because they did not choose the good shepherd, Israel will do a foolish one who will do absolutely the opposite of what is expected of shepherds. He will destroy the sheep (11:16). This is exactly what the antichrist does. (cf. Dan 9:27, Matthew 24:15-22). Source: MacArthur Study Bible: Note on Zech 11:17
In returning to the symbolism of the arm, we have a great God whose arm is stretched out to perform mighty deeds, the mightiest is that Jesus is God's arm. Christ is the power of God unto salvation (cf Isaiah 53:1, 52:10)
Thus the foolish shepherd is also a worthless shepherd who rightfully deserves the condemnation pronounced (Woe). The arm indicates his strength and the eye his intelligence. The foolish plottings of the worthless shepherd will be annulled when the True Shepherd returns (cf. 12:10; Rev. 19:19–20).

The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.)
We can ponder the mightiness of the arm of the LORD in giving His Son to us. Whether one meets the Messiah Redeemer as friend or foe, His mighty arm will be extended to perform wonders and holy perfections. He will wither the arm of the worthless shepherd. He will strengthen His saints. He will direct His angels. He will cast the rebels into the Lake of Fire. His arm does wonders, forever!


Let Us Reason Ministries: The Arm and Right Hand of the LORD

Alexander MacLaren, The Arm of the Lord from his Expositions of Isaiah and Jeremiah

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Everest/Nepal quake: "I don't know where somewhere else is"

On Saturday, April 25, a powerful "7.9 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal," reports the UK Guardian. The latest update states that the-
"death toll has risen to more than 2,500. More than 5,000 people have been injured. Powerful aftershocks today between Kathmandu and Everest unleashed more avalanches in the Himalayas and caused panic in the capital, where hospital workers stretchered patients out into the street as it was too dangerous treat them indoors."
O Nepal, your Buddha cannot help you.
Repent and turn to the Living God: Jesus the Christ. Source.
Videos of the quake occurring at Base Camp Mt. Everest are starting to surface. This video appears to show the quake and avalanche as it is occurring. Warning: The video contains strong language. The videographer says the "F-word" numerous times. At the beginning he emerges from his tent, saying, "The ground is shaking!" Then he sees the white wall of ice and snow coming and the chaos (and profanity) begins.

The UK Guardian reports: At least 17 people believed to have been killed on Everest, and 61 injured, by an avalanche which left mountaineers calling for helicopter assistance to evacuate the most badly wounded.
In this report, the computerized news reader quotes a witness, who said,
Everybody [the climbers] are pretty much in rescue mode. But this is different from an independent climbing accident where people can be rescued and taken somewhere else. I don't know where somewhere else is."
And that is what broke my heart. The widespread devastation in Nepal due to the quake is terrible and it will take the country some time to recover. I watched another video of the immediate aftermath in Katmandu and the people were screaming and terrified, rubble all around and nowhere to go for safety. Worse is the man's surprised and terrified reaction on Base Camp Everest, the world's tallest and mightiest mountain, when he perceived the ground under him was shaking. A strong and massive mountain like Everest, just shaking like a bowl of jello.

This video below really is shocking. It shows an aftershock, in neighboring Tibet. It is not the original quake and it is not in Nepal, so you can imagine the shaking that went on there. It is footage from CCTV-

But worst of all is...The Tribulation. Plagues, war, famine, chaos, meteors, and earthquakes and more will be common. Common. By the grace of God, the humanitarian organization World Vision is already on scene in Nepal. In the Tribulation, no one will know where "somewhere else" is. No one will be flying in with medical kits and compassion, for sin will be running rampant, and even if they could fly in, resources will be too scarce...and then another disaster will hit and that will be that.

There will be nowhere else to seek healing, refuge, comfort. The disasters that will plunge the world into darkness, chaos and sin will be occurring one after another. If you can horrifyingly imagine the Nepal Quake on Saturday and the Banda Aceh tsunami the next day and meteors fly in on Monday and a plague ramping up on Tuesday...that is what it will be like for the people left behind to face God's wrath during that period. Where will they go? To whom will they turn?


He certainly offers salvation  now, in the Age of Grace. In the Tribulation, God's wrath will be poured out but He will have mercy on those who repent and give Him glory. (Revelation 11:13). He will offer salvation then in His Day of Wrath just as He does now. His compassion will be still evident in the Tribulation when He sends an angel to fly at mid-heaven during the Tribulation to proclaim to the people,
And he said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come, and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
Revelation 14:7.

It is good advice we can take now. You do not want your worst enemy to go through it.

Share the Gospel with someone today, so they will hear and perhaps believe. The time coming, soon many think, will be horrific beyond belief, a thousand Nepal quakes all at once... and no one will know where "somewhere else is."

But those who turn to the Living God will always have refuge in Him and a home in heaven.


Further Reading

Nepal earthquake: Traumatized nation copes with a panorama of devastation

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Nepal's large quake: a tragedy and an opportunity

The large earthquake in Nepal is saddening to the extreme. As of 1:00 today there have been over 27 aftershocks. It is shocking and upsetting to see a headline like "Everest shaken." Our earth's tallest mountain, solid, strong, stalwart against all storms, it is shaken like a toy in a moment of time. Yet we know in the Tribulation, all the mountains will be thrown down.

The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. (Revelation 6:14)

O, Nepal, your dead idols cannot help you now! Turn from them and repent to the True and Living God!

And behold, here come riders, horsemen in pairs!” And he answered, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon; and all the carved images of her gods he has shattered to the ground.” (Isaiah 21:9)

This warning given in Isaiah regarding the fall of Babylon was fulfilled in 689BC when Babylon fell to the Assyrians, and again in 539BC to the Persians. Yet there is one fulfillment left, the future when by Revelation 18 Babylon the city, the spiritual Babylon and Economic Babylon all fall at the mighty arm of God. No more idols! No more prayers to dead Vishnus or Ganeshas or Shivas.

Our Lord God is alive. Every single person on earth has a "relationship" with Jesus. Either they are His enemy or they are His friend. The difference is repentance. Have you turned from your sin and appealed to Jesus for forgiveness of sins, acknowledging the resurrected King as the only One who can forgive? He is perfect, holy, and just, and He will demand an account of every life lived.

The tragedy is that with a thousand dead and more to be discovered, hell is receiving many who worshiped the dead gods of Hinduism and not the Living God of all. (81% of Nepal is Hindu, second is 9% Buddhist). May those who are in Nepal and those who are watching Nepal's tragedy unfold, give glory to God in heaven. Is now the time to press for honor and glory to God, with so much death and strife? Yes. Look what happens in the future Tribulation when there is a great quake:

And at that hour there was a great earthquake, and a tenth of the city fell. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the rest were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven. (Revelation 11:13)

The God who can shake Mount Everest is the God who holds in His hand life and death of all who dwell on the earth. You can have everlasting life in Him, by repenting and giving Him glory.

I pray that those who are affected repent and understand the might and patience of the True and Holy God. I pray that those who by going there to participate in humanitarian aid bring with them the TRUE Gospel to share with those who are homeless, hurt, and spiritually lost.

Pray for Nepal

Friday, April 24, 2015

If Hebrews that says it's appointed for men to die once, and some have died twice and others have never died, is there an inconsistency in the bible?

Does the Hebrews 9:27 verse present an inconsistency in the bible?

The short answer is “no.” There are no inconsistencies in the Bible. There are some things that we can’t reconcile without further study, but they can be reconciled. Seeming differences between the Gospels, for example. Did Peter cut off the soldier’s ear or not cut off the soldier’s ear? Was Jesus in the tomb three days or two days? Was Jesus hung on a tree or a cross? Did Judas die by hanging or falling? These are trivial issues and are easily reconciled by any thinking person with a bit of study.

There are other seeming inconsistencies we can never reconcile, but God has reconciled them in His mind. The Trinity / God is One, and the Doctrine of Election / Man’s responsibility for Sin are two in this category that God has settled in His mind. God’s word is perfect and a Bible believing person will always trust it to be true. He will allow his mind to be malleable while studying and praying over any questions he or she may have, and then allow the Spirit to take the lead in answering. God has promised good gifts (Matthew 7:11), and asking the Spirit to help you understand God’s word better is something He delights in doing. (John 1:9, Ephesians 1:18).

Hebrews 9:27 says, And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment,

I did some research because I always wondered about that verse. We cannot take it literally, since there have been exceptions to it already. So what can it mean? Allow me to share with you some thoughts. This essay is not just about the Hebrews verse, but as a template of showing you how to think about the Bible, if I may be so bold.

First we think. We take it slow and we think. (Psalm 19:14).

This verse about dying once is a perplexing verse. Why? We know that Enoch never has died.

Hebrews 11:5- By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.

We know that Elijah has never died-

2 Kings 2:11. And as they still went on and talked, behold, chariots of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.

We know that millions of people who are raptured alive will never die-

1 Thessalonians 4:17 says “Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.”

Alternately, we know that many have died twice. There are people in the bible who have died and have been resurrected. (And who never wrote a book about their trip to heaven, by the way). There is nothing that indicates the group of individuals who were given life a second time did not also fall into death a second time. The scriptures don’t say they were translated. The scriptures don’t say they didn’t die a second time.

Between the Hebrews verse and the plain examples from scripture of people who never died and people who have died twice, it seems that there is a contradiction. Yet that’s impossible since there can be no contradictions in the bible! So the verse can’t be an absolute.

If the Hebrews verse is NOT an absolute, it must be a general rule with obvious exceptions. The exceptions exist and are obvious.

The Berean Call magazine explains this:
Hebrews 9:27 says, "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment." "Men" is generic, speaking of all mankind. That the Lord, of His own will and sovereign choice, has, on occasion, brought back to life individuals (temporarily) does not affect this general ruling. Both Elijah and Elisha raised individuals from the dead by the power of God. Jesus raised a number of people from the dead. Again, these exceptions did not change the ruling under which humanity lives (and dies), as Hebrews 9:27 summarizes.

The fact that the Lord Jesus walked on water (Mt 14:26) or that Elisha made the head of an axe float (2 Ki 6:6) did not overturn the law of gravity. In short, we need to discern the plain meaning of the Scriptures.

In a John MacArthur Q&A he addressed this very question. I like how he re-stated it at the beginning, "The question he's asking is how can it be that the Hebrews 9:27 passage is all inclusive"
QUESTION: Okay, my name is Todd Draa and, let's see, in the Bible when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, I've been reading about that and then Hebrews 9:27, I saw that it said, "And inasmuch as it is appointed men to die once and after this comes judgment," how could we explain that because Lazarus was dead but then had been raised from the dead, so that would mean he would have to die a second time?

JOHN: Yes, good question, Todd. The question he's asking is how can it be that the Hebrews 9:27 passage is all inclusive, "It is appointed unto men once to die," if Lazarus in fact died twice? I'll ask you a question, Todd. What about Enoch? He didn't die at all. So you've got at least one person who never died at all, and you've got Lazarus who died twice and you have not only Lazarus but a lot of other folks who died twice. In fact, anyone who was ever raised from the dead died twice. When Jesus died on the cross, it says the graves were opened and all kinds of Old Testament saints came back to life, so they had to die twice.

Then you have the people that Jesus raised, the son of...the daughter of Jairus and the son of the widow of Nain, you have the ones who were raised by Elijah the prophet from the dead. All of those people died twice. Then you have to answer the question of what about the Rapture, a whole population of Christians aren't even going to die once. They're going to be raptured to heaven.

So what we assume then from all of that biblical data is that the statement of Hebrews 9:27 is a general statement to which there are by God's design certain exceptions. And we need not fear that. It's still true that it is appointed unto men once to die. That is the die. It is extremely unusual when they don't die. And we can count on death. In fact, in history you can count the history that didn't die by just counting Enoch and maybe Elijah was translated in a whirlwind, but there are less than a handful...out of the millions and millions that have died. And of those who have died twice, that's also a very small group of people who were raised from the dead. And yet in the future there will be a whole group of Christians who will miss death because of the Rapture. We'd like to be in that group, wouldn't we? But we just know that the principle of Hebrews 9 is still true that men die and they die once and then they face God's judgment. So we take it as a general principle in that regard. Good question.

Perhaps that resolves it for you. Some bible questions bear more digging. Some seemingly unresolvable issues need patience as the Spirit works all the threads together to knit a fuller understanding in our mind. But there are no inconsistencies in the Bible. After all, scripture cannot be broken. (John 10:35).

At least now you have my thinking on how I interpret the Hebrews verse and how, when we are presented with a seeming inconsistency we can rely on the Spirit and the Bible for an explanation, commentaries for supplement, and each other as iron to sharpen our interpretive skills. Above all, the Bible is true in its whole and entirety. If we don’t understand something or if we differ in interpretation, the issue is with us, not the Lord!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Stay strong true believers! We may be few in number but we have All Might behind us!

Does it feel like there are only a few obviously Christian believers at your local church? Does it feel like we puny humans are trying to stem the tide or heresy that is coming in a tsunami? It must have felt that way to the Ephesians, too.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.” (Revelation 2:2-3).

The first century church at Ephesus was planted by Paul, who was its pastor. Ephesus was a cosmopolitan city, sophisticated and beautiful. It was at the terminus of several major thoroughfares, was located on a gulf for a healthy seafaring export-import trade, and was a major commercial center. Its population was approximately a quarter of a million people.

In addition to being a major commercial center it was also a major religious center. Though many gods were worshiped there in addition to the emperors of Rome, the temple of Artemis was the main attraction. The temple was three times the size of the Athenian Parthenon, and held 25,000 people. It was in Ephesus that the Sons of Sceva were overcome by devils whom the sons had tried to cast out, demonstrating clearly the difference between false idols and the true God. Here was where Paul’s two- year, three month church planting effort and teaching bore fruit when the new Christians burned their idols and books equivalent to 50,000 pieces of silver. It was here that the reaction to the encroachment of Christianity on a pagan culture sparked a two-hour riot at the temple of Artemis. (Acts 19:23-20:1).

The worshipers at the church at Ephesus must have felt hemmed in by heresy and surrounded by pagans, especially by the time the letter in Revelation was sent, a generation later. It was a letter sent to a struggling church, weary of being the bulwark against sin and heresy.

But remember Elijah who thought he was the last believer left. The LORD said 'I have reserved yet 7,000 who believe'. (1 Kings 19:18). We are not alone! We might be tiny in number in one location but the Body is large, and thriving.

Also, in the latter days, there will be terrible times, Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. There are many warnings regarding the latter days about people following myths, man-made schemes, building fortresses of their own philosophies! (1 Timothy 1:4, 2 Timothy 4:4, Titus 1:14). He said it would happen and it is happening. We take comfort in even the seemingly 'bad' events because if His word is true for the bad then it is all the more so for the good! His word is true and He knows who are His and He knows whom to call to account.

We do not have to worry about results. We only have to proclaim. As the LORD said to Ezekiel in Ez 2:3-5

"I am sending you to the Israelites and the rebellious nations who have rebelled against me. The Israelites and their ancestors have transgressed against Me to this day. Their children are obstinate and hard-hearted. I am sending you to them, and you must say to them: this is what the LORD God says. Whether they listen or refuse to listen- for they are a rebellious house- they will know that a prophet has been among them."

We are not prophets nor is the church Israel, but we take the point, in speaking the truth no matter the outcome the LORD is glorified because while some will repent when we speak His word, others who refuse, when they stand before Him trying to defend their actions, He will say 'I sent you ministers and lay people to speak the truth and you refused to listen.' They will know they have no excuse.

Just as He knew each Ephesian and who had not grown weary in the biblical day, in our day the Lord Jesus as Head of our church knows and sees the hearts of those who cannot tolerate evil and those who persist in the doing of good. We must not lose our love for Him, for each other, for the wayward ones, and for the work. We are in a battle, but the victory is His. I praise Him for this opportunity to speak the truth in love, speak His words and stand on His name.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

America's decay is speeding up, and more links to edifying essays

Here are some interesting links for you.

I don't think anyone would disagree with this first article-

America's Decay is Speeding Up
As one who loves America -- not only because I am American, but even more so because I know (not believe, know) that the American experiment in forming a decent society has been the most successful in history -- I write the following words in sadness: With few exceptions, every aspect of American life is in decline. "Decay" is the word.

I'm not a huge fan of the magazine below but this article is good-

7 Unbiblical Statements Christians Believe
We don’t often stop to consider the magnitude of what the Bible represents. It is literally God revealing Himself and communicating Himself to mankind in written word. Orthodox Christianity teaches that the Bible was inspired and authored by the Holy Spirit of God using human instruments. And many Christians believe that—in its original languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic—it is without error and fault. However, there are many things that Jesus-following, Church-going, Bible-believing Christians believe that are completely unbiblical. How does this happen? Often, we’ll hear someone quote a statement that sounds nice to us, and we’ll begin repeating it as though it’s biblical truth without ever researching it in Scripture.
You're a theologian, OK?

3 Reasons Why You Aren’t Allowed to Be Theologically Dumb
The Christian cannot be a passive theologian who has idle thoughts about God here and there. Christians are called to be active theologians who are constantly trying to learn more about the God we worship.   ...  It’s about time Millennial evangelicals start loving the God who created them more than a god they’ve created.
I love Dr Robin Schumacher's articles. His blog at The Christian Post is titled The Confident Christian-

Predestination and God’s Sovereign Choice
Dan Delzell’s Christianpost article, Predestination and God's Desire to Save Everyone, reminded me of a statement made by theologian Loraine Boettner in his classic book on predestination: “The doctrine of Predestination has been made the subject of almost endless discussion, much of which, it must be admitted, was for the purpose of softening its outlines or of explaining it away.”[1]  I mean no disrespect at all to Mr. Delzell when I say that, only that his article – written from the Arminian point of view – is definitely something crafted to take the punch and sting out of what I believe the Biblical doctrine of predestination truly means.
Ugh, it sickens me to see what is being sold in Jesus' name-

The Marketing And Exploitation Of The Cross: Commercializing Christianity
The gospel in America has been hijacked, replaced with another gospel, a gospel of greed. When news broke regarding Creflo Dollar’s plea for Christians (namely those who follow him) to donate to the purchase of a 65-million dollar jet, it not only raised eyebrows, it settled within the hearts and minds of the faith’s leading accusers that Christianity has become nothing but an ends to gaining great wealth at the expense of its followers. And they would be right, to a degree.

Re-posting a testimony, but deliberately deleting references to Jesus-

His Absence Changes Everything
... I battled against that bottle for hours - finally flinging it aside, not from a place of faith that things would get better in life, but from one of fear that I would fail in my attempt and find myself in even worse straits than the current moment contained.

These Aren’t The Best Years of Your Life
A friend with a stroller was walking through town when an older woman stopped her to see the baby. After admiring her, the granny said, “These are the best years of your life; too bad you’re too tired to enjoy them!” Mothers with small children often hear this–at least the first part.

Truth in the church is so yesterday-

Contend Mondays: Tell Me Lies, Tell Me Sweet Little Lies
As I’ve mentioned, not only is the world a mission field, but the visible church is as well. The battle is for truth through rightly divided scripture and sound doctrine. If you’ve tried to correct a brother or sister in Christ, you are familiar with the desire to set them free from lies. ... Exposing error seems to have no place in the church these days despite what scripture says (Ephesians 5:11).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The precision of prophecy

The lord God is great. His Son Jesus, Immanuel, God With Us, is great. His Spirit is great. I praise Him and all His ways!

He set for a plan since before the foundation of the world. He is the architect of history. He elects people to salvation according to His plan, in the fulness of time He sent His Son, (Galatians 4:4) and now He is drawing to a close this era of history as we or the next generation prepares to go through the next phase of His perfect prophetic plan.

In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will, (Ephesians 1:11)

We all know the marvelousness of the Scriptures being fulfilled in Jesus. For example, He was praised as He entered the holy city on a colt. (Mark 11:3, Zechariah 9:9). We know the precise amount Judas was paid to betray Jesus, for that was prophesied (Zechariah 11:12). We know the scriptures were fulfilled when Jesus cried out, "I thirst". (John 19:28).

And many more.

I particularly enjoy these following two prophecies. They have not been fulfilled yet, but they will be.

I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, (Romans 11:25, NIV)

Other translations say the "fullness of the Gentiles". The word fullness according to Strong's is from the Greek plḗrōma meaning "sum total".

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne. They cried out with a loud voice, “O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before you will judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been. (Revelation 6:9-11)

Again, the Greek word is from pleroo, meaning fulfilled or completed.

Since before the universe was even created, the LORD our God had a perfect number in mind of those who will fulfill the number or quota of people who will be part of His Bride, the church (Romans 11:25). And He also had a perfect number in mind of the number of Tribulation saints who will be martyred. Nothing is out of control with God. He isn't looking down and thinking, "Yah, the church looks big enough, let's cut it off here." Or He is not looking down at the people being beheaded during the Tribulation and saying "Whoo, we better put a stop to this." Nothing is a surprise to Him because He planned it down to the very last inch...the very last dust mote...even down to the last person.

The Church will be full when His number is reached. Only He knows what that number is. For the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. Not only because He loves His children but because He knows the certain, exact, precise number of martyrs He will allow. When that number is reached, He will return and end it at Armageddon.

Isn't it wonderful to know that He has everything so meticulously mapped out? Not that it absolves us of doing our duty, of working diligently among the brethren and for the lost, and studying His word. But whatever happens, He is in control, and so precisely, that when the 5 billionth, 3 hundred millionth, 6 hundred thousandth, and third person is saved, (or whatever His number is) we will be raptured. He knows what the number is, who will fulfill that number and when that number will be reached. He is worthy to be worshiped! His mind, His plan, and His ability to manage all things in heaven and earth makes Him worthy.

Who is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare and set it before me, since I appointed an ancient people. Let them declare what is to come, and what will happen. Do not tremble and do not be afraid; Have I not long since announced it to you and declared it? And you are My witnesses. Is there any God besides Me, Or is there any other Rock? I know of none.'" (Isaiah 44:7-8)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Thoughts on Economic Collapse and Tribulation economy

Someone asked me about the economy in the Tribulation, and wondered if the global and American economy will collapse prior to the Tribulation or not.

It's speculation, because the Bible doesn't specifically say how we will get from here to there, only what will be. I do like to be aware of what the bible says about the seemingly near event on the prophetic timeline, the 7 years of Tribulation. (The rapture is the very next event. I also enjoy thinking about the Millennium which will occur after the Tribulation such as the peaceable kingdom, and the temple and the King's Highway, and New Jerusalem, etc).

As for the economy, it's an interesting question because the Bible prophesies that during the Tribulation, the antichrist's right hand man, the False Prophet, will enforce a mark on people. The mark is one of worship. No one will be fooled, they will know it is a mark of allegiance to and worship of the Beast. (Revelation 14:9). The enticement to take the mark is that one may then participate in the economy, buying and selling. If one refuses the mark, they may not buy or sell. (Revelation 13:16-17). Further, they will be identified as an enemy of the state and be killed (Revelation 6:9-11, Matthew 24:9).

It's an interesting question, isn't it, about financial collapse. The collapse of '07-'08 was incredible, and the subsequent years even more so. I had read a Christian economist who said recently that with the derivatives bubble, college loan bubble, fiat currency and massive outstanding debt, it is OBVIOUS that America, and most nations in fact, are being held up by the supernatural power of God. Nothing in traditional economics makes sense enough to explain how we are going on as we are for so long.

As for the Tribulation economy, that's interesting too. There IS an economy during the Tribulation. The global economy does not collapse until Revelation 18. Or, at least, it might have partially collapsed prior to then and been rebuilt according to Antichrist specs, with a one world economy and mark of the beast currency. Yes, Revelation 6:6 shows that currency is so inflated that it costs a day's wage to buy one loaf of bread. But Rev 18 shows a highly advanced trade in luxuries. I believe this shows that the wealth gap will widen so much that many poor starve to death and the love of the rich grows cold in not caring. If Jesus emphasized compassion on the poor and generosity toward same in both the OT and the NT to the degree He did, the antichrist will emphasize the opposite. So there will be an economy, it just won't look like it does now.

As a brief rabbit trail, you might already know that the sex trafficking and slave trade is growing all across the world. Poverty adds to this sad fact. Many daughters are being sold because people are so poor they cannot afford to feed kids. In Greece a few years ago when their economy nearly failed (before the EU bailout) the problem of abandoned kids was huge. You note in Rev 18:13 one of the luxuries being traded will be slaves. I believe that when the poor become utterly destitute in the Tribulation economy, slavery will blossom massively and that will be the reason why. No food, and in order to get money, they will sell anyone, even their mother. After all, love will wax cold. (Mt 24:12)

I read a prophecy minister's essay once who thinks that it will be the event of the rapture itself that will trigger the collapse. The sudden removal of thousands or millions of Christians from the economy will certainly put a dent in it. However I'm not so sure the rapture will collapse it completely. Jesus said the way was narrow and few find it. I think there are way fewer Christians who will be taken in the rapture than people think. I think the loss of workers will dent the economy, maybe enough to re-structure it, but not collapse totally. After all, the antichrist only has 7 years, 3.5 actually, to make the Mark of the Beast economy prophesied in Revelation 13:16-17 come about and healthy enough to see such massive collapse as we do in Rev 18. He has to have something to work with to begin with in order to revive the economy.

And think on this, right now gargantuan amounts of money go toward social programs to help the sick, the poor, the disadvantaged. When the Christians are removed, and the Spirit withdraws His restraining ministry, (2 Thessalonians 2:7) then compassion, generosity, and love will cease (2 Timothy 3:1-5). All that money being poured into cancer research and orphanages and welfare and social justice programs will be re-diverted. There will be no compassion, (Matthew 24:12) therefore no money needed to help anyone at any time through any compassion program. It will be the end of philanthropy, effectively freeing up trillions of dollars.

It has been interesting (but sad) to see the drought bloom in CA, and all the while we in GA received 5-6 inches of rain this week alone. Drought has a slow-moving but ultimately devastating impact to economies. CA's economy is the largest in the US, much of it from agriculture. Personally I think it will be drought that does us in here in America.

You remember the American Dustbowl here in the US during the Great Depression of the 1930s. It sparked one of the most massive internal migrations we have ever experienced in the US
Historians have since clarified some of the dimensions of the misnamed migration. Numbers are elusive but it is safe to say that 300-400,000 Oklahomans, Texans, Arkansans, and Missourians moved to California and settled there during the 1930s. This would have been a significant population transfer in any era but was particularly momentous in the context of the depression when internal migration rates for other parts of the country were low and when high unemployment made any kind of relocation risky. (Source)
Look at this interesting article about drought's economic impact.
Drought produces a complex web of impacts that spans many sectors of the economy and reaches well beyond the area experiencing physical drought. This complexity exists because water is integral to society's ability to produce goods and provide services. Impacts are commonly referred to as direct and indirect. Direct impacts include reduced crop, rangeland, and forest productivity, increased fire hazard, reduced water levels, increased livestock and wildlife mortality rates, and damage to wildlife and fish habitat. The consequences of these direct impacts illustrate indirect impacts. For example, a reduction in crop, rangeland, and forest productivity may result in reduced income for farmers and agribusiness, increased prices for food and timber, unemployment, reduced tax revenues because of reduced expenditures, foreclosures on bank loans to farmers and businesses, migration, and disaster relief programs.
In short, the entire economic situation is a myriad of intertwined causes and effects. They go back a long time and they are set in motion through the sovereignty of the Lord. It brings praise for the Lord to mind when I realize how precise He is to have developed all these events together to draw us ever closer to the Tribulation hour. He raises up kings and sets them down. He raises up nations and strikes them down. He thrives economies and He impoverishes them. He will perform what He has decreed.

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. Your gold and silver have corroded, and their corrosion will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure in the last days. Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, are crying out against you, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. You have lived on the earth in luxury and in self-indulgence. You have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter.  (James 5:1-5)

The only economy is the one in Jesus: repentance, faith, belief, and being doers of the word. This economy will always thrive, never become impoverished, and sustain itself at the magnificent Hand of God.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Locusts and bees and flies, oh my! Insects in the Bible

It's spring, and that means birds are back, yay! It unfortunately also means bug season.

I walked around the yard and over to the pasture and I pass wasps busily building nests, carpenter bees buzzing, bumble bees in the wildflowers, fleas trying to get on my cats, flies, and moths circling the spotlight.

When I came back inside, I settled down to Facebook to see what was what and who was who. People like to post photos with quotes on them. Often, far too often, the quote is from someone who is a false teacher or at least, on the path and is currently not highly trustworthy. I've often wondered how far to go in adding my 2¢.

Today I made three comments regarding the Truth, which were not totally affirming of the posted quote but offered an alternate view. I thought of the term "gadfly." According to Wikipedia,
A gadfly is a person who upsets the status quo by posing upsetting or novel questions.

The term "gadfly" was used by Plato in the Apology to describe Socrates's relationship of uncomfortable goad to the Athenian political scene, which he compared to a slow and dimwitted horse.During his defense when on trial for his life, Socrates, according to Plato's writings, pointed out that dissent, like the gadfly, was easy to swat, but the cost to society of silencing individuals who were irritating could be very high. "If you kill a man like me, you will injure yourselves more than you will injure me," because his role was that of a gadfly, "to sting people and whip them into a fury, all in the service of truth."
I don't see my role as that, to purposely whip people into a fury, but often in employing the gift of discernment the results evidenced are emotions that range from irritation to fury. Sometimes people are stung when you offer that their favorite teacher is really a false teacher, or their pet doctrine is unbiblical, or their method isn't aligned with what the bible says. Some examples of gadfly questions or statements might be:
  • Are you sure you want to continue doing altar calls?
  • Did you know that Billy Graham preached a different Gospel?
  • Is Beth Moore the best curriculum we can find or are there others that would be more biblical?
  • I don't think free will means what you think it means
  • Is it possible that LifeWay has become untrustworthy and sells things with heretical doctrine in them?
The thought about gadflies brought me to a biblical reference about gadflies in Jeremiah 46:20.

"Egypt is a beautiful heifer, but a gadfly is coming against her from the north." (NIV)

Yes, the gadfly cometh. LOL. I got to thinking about animals in the Bible in general. We think of leviathan, or the great fish that swallowed Jonah, or the bears that tore up the mocking boys, or the lions that David fought, but what of lowly insects?


The bible mentions them frequently. Some of the plagues God put on Pharaoh and his people were insects. The Plague of Gnats, the Plague of Flies (Exodus 8), the Plague of Locusts (Exodus 10).

John the Baptist ate wild honey and locusts in the desert. (Matthew 3:4). God even likened Himself to a moth once. (Hosea 5:12). But what of other insects in the Bible?
INSECTS: we find at least 23 names of insects or words referring to them: ant, bald locust, bee, beetle, cankerworm, caterpillar, creeping thing, cricket, crimson, flea, fly, gnat, grasshopper, honey, hornet, locust, louse, (lice), moth, palmer-worm, sandfly, scarlet-worm, silk-worm.

These can be referred to about 12 insects, which, arranged systematically, are:
Hymenoptera, ant, bee, hornet;
Siphonaplera, flea;
Diplera, fly;
Rhynchota, louse, scarlet-worm;
Orthoptera, several kinds of grasshoppers and locusts.

The word “worm” refers not only to the scarlet-worm, but to various larvae of Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, and Diptera. “Creeping things” refers indefinitely to insects, reptiles, and beasts. In the list of 23 names given above honey and bee refer to one insect, as do crimson and scarlet. Sandfly has no place if “lice” be retained in Ex 8:16 ff. Bald locust, beetle, canker-worm, cricket, and palmer-worm probably all denote various kinds of grasshoppers and locusts.

The Eng. language seems to lack appropriate names for different kinds of grasshoppers and locusts, and it is difficult to suggest any names to take the places of those against which these criticisms are directed. See under the names of the respective insects.

See also SCORPION and SPIDER, which are not included here because they are not strictly insects.

Source: Day, A. E. (1915). Insects. In J. Orr, J. L. Nuelsen, E. Y. Mullins, & M. O. Evans (Eds.), The International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia (Vol. 1–5, p. 1473). Chicago: The Howard-Severance Company.

In 1915, swarms of locusts devastated Palestine. An American Colony photographer took this picture of a fig tree that the locusts had stripped bare. The picture starkly illustrates the kind of damage these insects would have inflicted during the locust plague in Egypt and in the other instances that the Bible mentions of locust swarms. ‎Exod 10:4–19, Deut 28:38, Joel 1:4, Joel 2:25, Amos 7:1, Rev 9:3–7
‎Image by Matson Photo Service, from Library of Congress. License: Public Domain

The Bitterness of Pharaoh

God used insects as the dividing line to show Pharaoh Who is in charge of creation.
‎After the third and fourth plagues there could no longer be any doubt as to the power of Moses, and very little doubt as to his divine authority. When the plague of lice came, Pharaoh’s magicians tried to imitate it and failed, and they confessed to him that they believed that Moses had the power of a god. In the plague of flies, Moses for the first time drew a dividing line: the flies did not come into the houses of the Israelites; they pestered only the Egyptians.

‎Strangely indeed must Pharaoh have felt his position. He, the absolute monarch who had always had his way in everything and been all powerful, who was called a god by his people, he was now told by his own learned men that there was another more powerful than he, that there was a real God acting against him, and that he must yield. The Bible and its Story, Volume 2: The Law, Leviticus to Deuteronomy, Horne, Charles, Bewer, Julius

In Isaiah 7:18 we read,

In that day the LORD will whistle for the fly that is at the end of the streams of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

Flies were a serious problem.
As the plague is represented as filling the houses of the Egyptians, it is likely that the house-flies (Muscidae) are intended. In the warm climate of Egypt these insects are an annoyance that can hardly be overstated. The manner in which they assemble in dense clouds at such a sun-trap as Akaba, for instance, is almost inconceivable, and the irritation they produce is heightened by the knowledge that they are capable of carrying an infectious sort of ophthalmia, which is a prevalent disorder amongst the Bedouins, from person to person. Owing to the softness of the skin in the warm climate, the house-fly of Egypt is soon able to effect a penetration in tender parts, such as the corner of the eyes, and the vulnerable point speedily becomes a throbbing mass of these abominable insects, who are thus enabled to suck the blood and produce festering sores.
The other term translated by the word fly is zebub. It occurs in Eccles. 10:1, ‘Dead flies cause the ointment of the apothecary to send forth a stinking savour;’ and here the term is probably generically used for the swarms of flies, which speedily cause corruption and pollution in anything capable of being attacked by them in the East. The ointments spoken of are perfumed unguents and cosmetics, so largely used in these countries.
The second passage where zebub occurs is in Isa. 7:18, ‘the Lord shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.’ [See under BEE.] This word zebub has been identified with the modern Arabic ḍebab, which is a name given to a species of gad-fly. A species of Tabanus, or ‘breeze fly,’ is stated to be common in the valleys of the Jordan and the Nile, and is very injurious to animals. To this genus our ‘horse-flies’ or ‘clegs’ belong, which are armed with an arrangement of lancets enabling them to make a clean incision for the purpose of blood-sucking.
Hart, H. C. (1888). The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (pp. 100–101). London: The Religious Tract Society.

God is amazing as Creator. Everything He created was very good. (Genesis 1:31). Insects didn't bite, suck blood, cause disease, or pollute the food and ointments (Ecc 10:1). Yet sin entered the world and the ground was cursed and creation was polluted with thorns and sweat and blood and death. Yet even then, God uses insects to carry out His will and He uses them in general as symbols of His might and His plan. Insects individually might be lowly, but when God uses them, they are mighty!

A Psalm of David. The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein, (Psalm 24:1)

I hope you have enjoyed this short survey of insects in the Bible.

Here are some photos of the insects I have met in my yard...

Bee. EPrata photo

Fire ants. EPrata photo

Fly. EPrata photo

Wasp. EPrata photo

Friday, April 17, 2015

Vatican struggling to keep up with exorcism demand

"Traditionally there are certain signs that often accompany true cases of possession,” the priest said, “things that are difficult if not impossible to explain otherwise.” These signs include aversion for sacred objects, the sudden ability to speak languages that the person has never studied or had contact with, the movement of objects with no physical cause, sharp changes in mood that are not attributable to psychological reasons, and other such things, he told Breitbart.
And so begins a recent article titled  Vatican Exorcism Course Draws 170 Students to Study Demonic Activity, where the Vatican reports an increase in demonic possession and the increasing need for 'exorcists'. The article focused on the busting-at-the-seams demonic deliverance training classes now being held at the Vatican.

One concept to note in that quote, and there is much to discuss about this, is that the priest holding the demon-busting classes said that frequently a sign of possession is speaking in a language one has not learned. This is known as speaking in tongues.

Typically when a 'miracle' or 'manifestation' of something supernatural appears, witnesses usually ascribe it to Jesus or heaven. However, just because an event occurs which is obviously supernatural, it doesn't mean it is sent from heaven. Usually it is NOT. In 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 we read that men masquerade as false apostles, satan appears as an angel of light, and demons disguise themselves as servants of righteousness.

Satan and his unholy angels have powers that allow them within limits to counterfeit miracles. Read Exodus 7:8-11,

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, 9“When Pharaoh says to you, ‘Prove yourselves by working a miracle,’ then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and cast it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’” 10So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and did just as the Lord commanded. Aaron cast down his staff before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent. 11Then Pharaoh summoned the wise men and the sorcerers, and they, the magicians of Egypt, also did the same by their secret arts.

Getting even more specific, in discussing the particular gift of tongues, that was a gift given to the early church and the early church only. The gift of tongues is recorded in Acts 2:4-5.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.
A Roman Catholic Crucifix.

This is a sign gift, and the gift of tongues and other sign gifts were temporary. They ceased with the passing of the Apostles. People do not speak in tongues anymore. Not genuinely anyway. (For biblical reasons why this is true, go here )

As for the non-genuine ways people speak in tongues, you might be surprised to discover that speaking gibberish, jerking involuntarily, and falling down insensate is a sign that a person is possessed by a demon, not speaking a heavenly language or filled with a heavenly spirit.

You might be even more surprised to discover that those signs as they are manifested in a person are commonly manifested in false religions, such as Hinduism.
Now, this may be a little bit anticlimactic because this has already been discussed somewhat. But for those who may be tuning in on the Internet and haven’t been here at the conference, which theological group does the following: heretic jerking and shaking, uncontrollable laughter, being slain in the Spirit, they prophesy and they speak in tongues. Of course, most people would think of Charismatics/Word of Faith, it’s actually Hindus.
Hindus do all of these things as well and has already been mentioned in this conference, you can look at video clips of Hindus practicing this thing known as Kundalani(?), it’s a subset, a little discipline within Hinduism. You can look at clips of Hindu Kundalani, and look of clips of professing Charismatic Christians and they are absolutely indistinguishable. You cannot tell the difference, the exact same kind of behavior. And so that should give us really a lot of pause before we start to say, “Oh, well so-and-so is speaking in tongues, or so-and-so is being slain in the Spirit, that’s a sign of God’s hand on that person, that’s a sign of spirituality.” Absolutely not. There may be a spirit at work, but it is not the Holy Spirit…it is not the Holy Spirit. (Source)

The irony, sadly, is that the Catholic priests being trained to exorcise these demons are dividing their own kingdom. The Catholic Church and its priests and adherents are under the bondage of satan, not submitted to Christ. The RCC is the most satanically successful religious organization on earth, it is not of the true faith. Trained or not, its priests have no authority over satan but are sadly under his authority.

In this passage, when Jesus cast out a demon from a man, and healed his muteness and blindness, the Pharisees descended to a panic when the people began wondering if Jesus was the promised deliverer of Israel.

And all the people were amazed, and said, “Can this be the Son of David?” 24But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this man casts out demons.” 25Knowing their thoughts, he said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand. 26And if Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then will his kingdom stand? 27And if I cast out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they will be your judges.

In his commentary, MacArthur says of this verse,
And it is further true that Satan often disguises himself as an angel of light, (2 Cor 11:14). In that role he may pretend to cast out a demon by restricting its power over the possessed person in order to give the impression of a cleansing. That sort of supposed exorcism has been common throughout the history of the church and is practiced today by various cults, false healers, and exorcists.
Sons of Sceva, Matthias Scheits (c.1630-1700)
Yes, satan is a real being and actively at work in this world sowing evil, lies, and despair. He is a destroyer. However the priests have no authority over any demon, and any one they cast out would be a false show, a lie, or an accident. Remember the Sons of Sceva?

Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” 14Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this. 15But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” 16And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. (Acts 19:13-17).

Matthew Henry says of trying to exorcise demons outside the authority of God,
It was common, especially among the Jews, for persons to profess or to try to cast out evil spirits. If we resist the devil by faith in Christ, he will flee from us; but if we think to resist him by the using of Christ's name, or his works, as a spell or charm, Satan will prevail against us.
HuffPo via Washington Post and Getty Images
In one last quote from the article, Vatican Exorcism Course Draws 170 Students to Study Demonic Activity,
Pope Francis has spoken of the devil repeatedly, insisting that he is real and must be fought. This generation, the Pope said last October, “was led to believe that the devil was a myth, a picture, an idea, the idea of evil. But the devil exists, and we have to fight him.” Pope Francis has praised the work of exorcists, priests dedicated to the work of deliverance and casting out demons. According to the Pope, priests devoted to the ministry of exorcism “manifest the Church’s love and acceptance of those who suffer because of the devil’s works.”
Well we all suffer because of the devils' works, the unsaved and the saved. But of course they are focusing on the exact wrong thing, satan, when we all should be focusing on Jesus. But RCC priests cannot focus on Jesus becuase they are an enemy to Him.

In general, if a person is not in Christ, he is a friend of satan. 1 John 2 outlines the dichotomy. If you love the world, you're not a friend to Jesus, and vice versa. Satan can certain possess any person who is of this world because this world is temporarily his. (2 Cor 4:4). Satan dividing satan is not logical, as Jesus eloquently explained to the Pharisees.

Alternately, if you're a Christian, you cannot be possessed. The Holy Spirit is sealed within us as a guarantee of the deposit of our inheritance (Ephesians 4:30, 1:13-14). No one can break that seal, only God, and God has said He will not. (James 1:18, John 10:28). Moreover we are called to resist the devil, (James 4:7) not take classes in demonic ninja and then go out to find him and fight him.

What fruit will it bear to keep our eyes on satan, when our eyes should be on Jesus? Chasing after demons brings nothing to Jesus but pride, arrogance, and wasted time. HE is our all in all, sufficient for all battles. (Judges 7:7).

Friends, do not let all this talk of increasing demonic activity pique your interest. The Catholics, Hindus, and other adherents to false religions may play at exorcism, may utter what they believe is heaven sent gibberish, may seek satan on the battleground, but we are to seek Christ-

Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! (Psalm 105:4).

Our weapon is prayer. Do we believe we have the strength to overcome 5000 demons, the number that was reported inhabiting the man in the Gadarene tombs? (Luke 8:26-39). Our strength is puny compared to the heavenly power of even the unholy angels, whom we dare not blaspheme (2 Peter 2:12). We are to rely on His strength, and He will deliver us one way or another.

If someone comes to you with a report of supernatural activity such as tongues, demon deliverance by any other method except salvation, or any supernatural miracle, be skeptical. Very skeptical. Seek the Lord, who is Good; not satan, who is evil.


Further Reading:

Can Christians be demon-possessed?
According to 1 Peter 1:5, when Christ reigns in a person’s life, that person is kept by God’s power. As a result, “the evil one does not touch him”  (1 John 5:18). When the Holy Spirit inhabits a person, no demon can set up house as a squatter. Indwelling by demons is only evidence of a lack of genuine salvation.
Can a Christian today perform an exorcism? What does the Bible say about casting out demons?
Interestingly, there seems to be a shift in the latter part of the New Testament regarding demonic warfare. The teaching portions of the New Testament (Romans through Jude) refer to demonic activity, yet do not discuss the actions of casting them out, nor are believers exhorted to do so. We are told to put on the armor to stand against them (Ephesians 6:10-18). We are told to resist the devil (James 4:7), be careful of him (1 Peter 5:8), and not give him room in our lives (Ephesians 4:27). However, we are not told how to cast him or his demons out of others, or that we should even consider doing so.
Vatican Exorcism Course Aims Comes Amid Growing Interest in Occult
The Vatican was holding a course about exorcism this week amid a burgeoning interest in the practice and the occult in general, according to one of the organizers. "We have held this course for the past 10 years, and the numbers of those who want to attend keep growing," said Giuseppe Ferrari of the Research Group of Socio-Religious Formation, one of the event's organizers. "Initially we had 50 students. This year we had 200 people from 30 countries around the world," he said on Friday.

Kay Cude poetry: The Tunnel

Used with permission. Click to enlarge