Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Taking Back Time-Trailer: "It's Coming"

It's been along day. It's also payday (PTL) ... so that means shopping. Dollar Store, groceries, getting other words, my least favorite word: ERRANDS. Adding insult to injury, after you get home from 8 hours at work and several hours running around, you have to haul the stuff from the car to the house. And the insults keep coming. There's no genie, maid, butler, or Shoemaker appearing to magically put the stuff away. Agh. At the same time are three crying cats sinewing around my legs demanding Friskies Canned Salmon Meal for supper. NOW.

Suffice to say, all I can muster for a blog essay today his this hilarious spoof "PSA" for Daylight Savings Saving Time. Watch. It's funny. Laugh. It's good for the soul.

Taking Back Time Trailer
Important PSA!NZ: September 27AU: October 4UK: October 25US: November 1Video: Nacho Punch
Posted by Timely on Friday, 25 September 2015

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Abraham and Abimelek: Lies of omission and half-lies are still lies

Abimelech rebuking Abraham by Wenceslaus Hollar
After Abraham was personally visited by angels and by Jesus, (Genesis 18:1-3, 14), and after Abraham personally asked for the LORD to protect his nephew Lot from destruction in Sodom, (Genesis 18:22-23), and after Abraham personally witnessed the destruction of four of the five Cities of the Plain (Genesis 19:28), despite having had another reassurance by God of His chosen plan involving Abraham (Genesis 15:6), thus knowing his God's sovereign power, holiness, and mercy, in the next chapter Abraham lied. And why? To help God out.

In Genesis 20:1, Abraham is journeying in King Abimelek's lands. ("toward the territory of the Negeb and lived between Kadesh and Shur; and he sojourned in Gerar." Gen 20:1). Abraham thought to himself that since the people in that area are not God-fearing, I am going to need to lie about my beautiful wife Sarah.

And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, “She is my sister.” And Abimelech king of Gerar sent and took Sarah. (Genesis 20:2).

Twenty-five years earlier, Abraham said that of his wife when he feared Pharaoh. Pulpit Commentary said of Abraham's lie then and in this chapter, that lying was "an ignoble expedient."

Did Abraham think God didn't know that the lands in the Negev were filled with pagans who did not fear God? Did Abraham think God needed to be helped out? Did Abraham not want to bother God with a prayer-petition for safety for his wife and himself? Or did Abraham just not trust God enough?

Let's look at what Abraham's lie did to himself and others. Then I'll look at the sovereignty of God and how He worked through Abraham's sinful lie.

Now, Sarah really was his sister, or half-sister to be specific. "she is indeed my sister, the daughter of my father though not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife." (Genesis 20:12). So Abraham's lie was a half-truth. Alternately it can be called a lie of omission. It is still a lie. Lies we tell have effects upon the people who hear them. In this case, Abimelek went forward with an action that was based on faulty information, and he took Sarah. Then night God came to him in a dream with a message. And the message was not good.

"Behold, you are a dead man because of the woman whom you have taken, for she is a man’s wife." (Genesis 20:3b)

Thanks a lot, Abraham.

Now the King did plead with the LORD earnestly. I mean, Abimelek was told that she was not a wife. Here is where God's sovereignty over ALL FLESH comes in.

"Yes, I know that you have done this in the integrity of your heart, and it was I who kept you from sinning against me. Therefore I did not let you touch her." (Genesis 20:6)

God is sovereign and can and does control ALL that happens on earth and even within the hearts of men and allows or prevents certain actions. Example: God would not let Abimelek touch Sarah. Did God put a wall around Sarah or consign her to a room in chains far away from Abimelek? No. He invisibly ordained that Sarah would remain untouched and in His power He made that come to pass, even though the King, Sarah, and the entire household was not aware of His workings. This is Providence.

God told the King to release Sarah and not to touch her or the King would certainly die. Abimelek called all the servants together and told them all that had happened, and followed God's commands immediately. (So much for NOT being God-fearing, eh? Not that the King was a believer, but the king did recognize God's authority and His power, and submitted to it in this instance.)

Then the King severely rebuked Abraham.

"What have you done to us? And how have I sinned against you, that you have brought on me and my kingdom a great sin? You have done to me things that ought not to be done." (Genesis 20:9b-10).

That is the problem with lying. Not only did Abraham sin, not only did Abraham lead his wife into sin, but it caused the King to sin also, albeit unknowingly. He had a right to be angry. As did Pharaoh 25 years prior. Pulpit Commentary says of Abraham's current lie and the 25 year old lie,
Abraham should a second time have resorted to this ignoble expedient after the hazardous experience of Egypt and the richly-merited rebuke of Pharaoh, but more especially after the assurance he had lately received of his own acceptance before God (Genesis 15:6), and of Sarah's destiny to be the mother of the promised seed (Genesis 17:16), is well nigh unaccountable, and almost irreconcilable with any degree of faith and piety.
Of course we know Abraham was faithful and pious. (Hebrews 11:11). Our Bible is so great to show us the successes and the foibles and fumbles of the great men and women who are recounted in this record. We are all sinners, tending toward doing wrong most of the time, yet our God uses us again and again in His plan to move history forward to the end goal of displaying His glory to an unspotted Bride. Abraham was no different. But more gloriously, God is no different. He is totally sovereign over all that happens. After Abimelek gave Abraham 1000 pieces of silver, animals, and free passage through the land, he said you have been vindicated and this matter is concluded.

Just as God had promised Abimelek, (Genesis 20:7) Abraham then prayed to God on the King's behalf (Genesis 20:17). God opened the wombs of all the women in the house of Abimelek because he had closed them on behalf of Sarah. God is sovereign over wombs, minds, flesh, and events. He is also merciful, in sparing Abimelek, in not punishing Abraham, in protecting Sarah, and in allowing the females of the house of Abimelek to conceive babies once again.

Genesis 20 is a tremendous chapter on the sinfulness of man, of what lies do to people (even lies of omission). Imagine what Abimelek might have been thinking. 'Why would God pick THAT guy, he's a liar.' Do you want your witness on behalf of Holy God to be polluted by a legacy of lies?

The chapter is also a wonderful example of God's sovereignty and Providential outworking, and His mercies.

Gill's Exposition on Genesis 20:2-
And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, she is my sister,.... This he gave out in all conversation he came into, and said it to every one that asked who she was, which was little better than a lie; it at least was an equivocation and deception, and not at all justifiable, and tended to expose his wife's chastity, and discovered a distrust of divine Providence; the same infirmity be had given way to, and the same evil he had fallen into in Egypt, Genesis 12:11, and therefore was the more inexcusable now; good men not only fall into sin, but have their relapses:
BibleGateway's All the Men of the Bible explains of Abimelek:

Abimelech would have taken Sarah, Abraham’s wife, into his harem, but learning that she was the wife of another, returned her uninjured. Abraham appears here in a bad light. He deceived Abimelech, but when found out was justly rebuked by the God-restrained Abimelech. Certainly the righteous should rebuke the ungodly (1 Tim. 5:20), but how sad it is when the ungodly have just reason for rebuking the righteous. What a degradation it was for Abraham, then, to be rebuked by a heathen king!

Abraham sought to palliate his deception by claiming that Sarah was actually his half sister, daughter of the same father but not the same mother (Gen. 20:12, 16).

A lie if half a truth Is ever the worst of lies.

Abraham was the more blameworthy because he had done the same thing before (Gen. 12) and had suffered much in the same way as upon this occasion. How grateful Abimelech was for the dream warning him of his danger! The covenant made with Abraham is somewhat significant—

I. It was proposed by Abimelech who, although knowing how Abraham had failed God, yet saw how favored he was of God (Gen. 21:22).

II. It revealed certain distrust of Abraham. Abimelech requested Abraham not to be tempted to sin in such a direction again (Gen. 21:23).
Wow, a pagan praying for the righteous!

We faithful Christians sure do have relapses. We are redeemed by, governed by, supported by, sustained by, and provided for by a gracious and loving God. He knows all the details, He is calmly in control of all that happens. He even forgives our sins (like when we lie). We don't need to "help" God in His plans but we do need to submit to them. We need to remember that our actions and words affect other people. We need to have integrity in all that we do for Jesus (Colossians 3:17).

PS: trivia- did you know that Genesis 20 is the first time we read the word "prophet"? God said Abraham was His prophet. (Genesis 20:7). The Bible is so wonderful to read!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Full of Eyes ministry update

A year ago, I'd posted for your perusal about a new ministry. Chris Powers is an animator who is committed to Jesus Christ, visual theology, and beauty. He creates wonderful animations with study guides, as well as Christ-honoring gorgeous art and doctrinally solid tracts. Chris has taken the faith-leap and he and his wife left all behind to devote themselves full-time to this ministry he named Full of Eyes. Full of Eyes is part of the verse from Ezekiel 1:18 describing the strange creatures that have wheels within wheels which were full of eyes all around.

Here is one of Chris' latest drawings, which I love.

The verse to go with the drawing is: John 3:19, "Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil"

Chris and his wife Courtney took a two-week trip to California. Here is part of his summary report about the trip.
Well, after about 14 days on the road, Courtney and I are now back in Washington Court House, Ohio. Let me take some time to fill you in on the second half of our CA trip and then share with you a bit about what I anticipate the coming weeks will hold...

California Recap
The second half of our trip to CA involved driving from San Francisco down to LA via the coast on Highway 1 (a wonderful trip filled with some of the most awe-inspiring natural beauty I've yet seen....Courtney and I really enjoyed this).

Once down south I went to The Master's College on Wednesday and Thursday evening to interact with students regarding art, culture and the gospel (and how these things manifest in my own life via FOE). However, Thursday evening was the real highlight for me. I was graciously given the chance to teach a 2 hour class on the topic of Beauty and the was really a joy to unfold these topics with the students and then to look at how I'm trying to herald these things visually through FOE.

I heard from a number of students (and the professor who invited me) that this was a helpful and impactful time.....I know for me this class alone was worth the entire trip! Praise God for His faithfulness and mercy to fold us into His purposes in the world.
So, when all is said and done, I'm trusting that God has answered the prayer that carried this entire trip for me and Courtney, namely, that hearts would be more in love with and conformed to Christ as a result of our time in CA....
It is a very big deal to have been invited to teach a class at The Master's College. I pray Chris' work continues to grow in grace and continues to find appropriate outlets that give this Christ-honoring ministry wider exposure.

Here are links to the lessons Chris taught at TMC. They are explorations of beauty based on the theological writings of Jonathan Edwards.

The Incarnation of Beauty – Part I : The Trinitarian Roots of Beauty

The Incarnation of Beauty – Part II: Beauty is a Relational Concept

Full of Eyes on the web-



Twitter: @FullofEyesFilms


Patreon: Support Full of Eyes

Gaius Project: Support Full of Eyes

Sunday, September 27, 2015

What about a woman who blogs? Is she violating scripture by teaching men?

My ministry is to women. I exhort for women to achieve a higher standard of biblical literacy and knowledge of the Lord. I exhort for women in their lives to walk in submission to the Word. I also use my blog as a personal platform to teach women the scriptures and HOW to think about the scriptures. Finally, I use my blog to proclaim Jesus and to praise Him. I'm unashamed and unafraid and I love using the blog to perform these ministrations within the body of Christ. This is because the Spirit groomed me lifelong as a writer then upon salvation dispensed the gifts of teaching and exhortation.

It gives me the greatest joy possible to hear back from a woman who has sought His word and gained insight through submitting her mind to the Holy Spirit. I cry tears of joy when a woman contacts me and says she had followed through with listening to a recommended sermon from John MacArthur or Phil Johnson and is now frequently listening to them or the other men I'd recommended ... or has read the essay by Lloyd Jones, or followed the link from Challies. Connecting women with solid and credible male teachings is sweet. When a woman says she has ignited her prayer life, or has learned to trust her husband more, or has established a pattern of consistently reading the Word, I praise the Holy God for raising up women and for using me in the gifts He has dispensed in that task.

Sometimes I receive the question, but what about if a man reads your blog, aren't you violating scripture by teaching men? This essay is my response.

I consistently advise 4 things: for women who read my stuff to be faithful in personal prayer, persistent in asking for wisdom from the Spirit as James 1:5 says, constant personal bible reading and checking what I say against scripture, and to discuss these matters with their husband, or pastor or elder if they are single. I do a lot of referring back to the husband, Some women are looking for an excuse to rebel and use female bloggers as their loophole by asking leading questions and overly-relying on my answer. I'm not having it. LOL, once I pointedly asked a woman "What does your husband say about this?" and she wrote back in perplexed confusion, 'I honestly never thought to ask him about it or discuss these kind of things with him.' And therein lay the problem.

I remind often that the husband (or pastor or other family member if single) is the spiritual authority. I'm just the Sister with some thoughts and elder advice as per Titus 2:4. I do the same in real life at my local church.

But that isn't the real question. Isn't a Christian woman who writes about theological issues on her blog actually teaching men if a man reads her blog, in violation of the scriptures? (1 Timothy 2:12). The scriptures say women cannot usurp authority over men in the church, taking their God-ordained positions of preaching, teaching or leading (as in deacon) for themselves. This is what I believe because this is what God has said explicitly and implicitly through His Word.

This is not the actual question, though. When someone asks "is a woman Christian blogger violating scripture by possibly teaching men on her blog' it isn't the real question. The real question is, "Should women speak of or teach theological/spiritual/discipling issues in the public square?" Blogs are the public square. The public square is also the break room at work, the living room of a home where a women's ministry is being conducted, the cafe at Borders Books, a blog, Facebook wall or messaging, bible study in a living room with other women, or any other place where women of faith may congregate apart from church and men might be present and spiritually impacted by what they hear or read from a woman's insight.

So we ask the same question but place it in different situations and venues.
Is a woman violating scripture by having a female bible study during lunch in the work cafeteria where men are also at nearby tables? If two women are engaged in a discipling relationship and working out a theological issue at a cafĂ©, and Christian men happen to be at the next table, are the women violating scripture if the men listen to their conversation? If a woman writes of theological issues on her blog and a man happens to read it, is she violating scripture? What if a woman authors a theological book, and a man buys it and reads it? Did she violate scripture? Did he? The question can be taken to silly extremes.

Not that the issue of women teaching men is silly. We have far too much of that inside the structure of the congregational church these days. Just yesterday I ran across a youngish female "pastor" of a strangely named "church" called "Guts Church" and I commented on her rebellion against the 1 Timothy verse, but she deleted my comment. My friend Jeff Isaiah on Twitter writes,
If your church's pastor is a woman—you don't have a pastor, and you don't have a church. Leave. (See 1 Timothy, chapter 2)
However, the real question as I noted is, can a woman speak theologically, disciple or teach other women in the public square - and to what extent? In the Bible we read of Dorcas, who led a ministry of women and discipled them through her sewing/clothing works. If male workers or house residents were about and heard their discussion, then did Dorcas violate scripture? Did Eunice and Lois, Timothy’s mother and grandmother, violate scripture by teaching Timothy of the good news at home? Did Lydia who contended in public at Paul's side in public? Did Philips' daughters who preached/prophesied in public with their father?

I simply don’t worry about it. I aim to reach women and I say so. I take my role seriously as an elder women coaching the younger in being strong in the word and submissive to male domestic and church authority. If a man wants to read my blog, that could also be a good thing. Why? What of the women I’m engaged in a discussion with in the comments section or via email, and I urge her to discuss further with her husband? What if the husband then comes to my blog to investigate me. It is GOOD that he reads it, first so he can protect his wife against heresy I may be spouting. (We all know there are plenty of those kind of blogs online these days). Pastor and noted blogger Tim Challies often reviews books on his site that are aimed at women. He wrote in his essay Book Recommendations: Books for Women
Because I am a husband, I try to read at least the occasional book that is meant to encourage or equip my wife. Here are some of the best of the books I’ve read for women.
Now THAT makes me feel great and I can only imagine how good it makes his wife feel to know he is looking out for her.
Husbands, love your wives, AND protect themfrom the monstrous
regiment of women spouting heresy online. Rev 2:20
Therefore, what if a man reads my blog a few times and likes it and decides that he will pass it on to his wife? That also is a good thing. Did he violate scripture in reading my work enough times to get a feel for whether I’m genuine? What if he learned something in the process, or gained an insight? I do not believe these are violations.

Remember, the question is not that women bloggers are usurping male authority in the church in violation of 1 Tim 2:12, the question is can women teach and speak of theological things in the public square, (like blogs) especially if they intend to teach a female audience. John MacArthur has some stances on that.

By the way, if females teach scripture online and/or exposit it, then his own website would be in violation. Many, many women are listed on the site with .pdfs and other resources, even sermons- and they are so labeled. Judy Luenebrink’s sermon and bible study expositing Genesis 3 is online. Is she violating scripture by teaching the Bible if a man reads her work? No in my opinion, and obviously not in the good pastor's, because it is clear she is teaching to women! I assume that a man in the church provided oversight before Mrs Luenebrink's sermon was even posted.

While Dr MacArthur does not mention blogs specifically, here are his thoughts on women teaching outside of the authoritative structure of the church proper. Inside the church, too many women are filling male roles "because the men won't." This is not an excuse, as MacArthur begins his essay. Here are the excerpts from his essayActive Submission:
But God has established the proper order and relationship of male and female roles in the church, and they are not to be violated for any reason. For a woman to assume a man’s role because he has neglected it merely compounds the problem. God has led women to do work that men have refused to do, but He does not lead them to accomplish that work through roles He has restricted to men.
That doesn’t mean, however, that God never permits women to speak His truth in public:
"Paul spoke with various churches and synagogues during his missionary journeys, answering questions from women as well as men (cf. Acts 17:2–4). I see nothing wrong with a woman asking questions or sharing what the Spirit of God has taught her out of the Word during informal Bible study and fellowship.
Women can proclaim the Word of God except when the church meets for corporate worship. The Old Testament says, “The women who proclaim the good tidings are a great host” (Psalm 68:11). The New Testament gives examples of Mary, Anna, and Priscilla declaring God’s truth to men and women (Luke 1:46–55; 2:36–38; Acts 18:24–26).
Women can pray in public. Acts 1:13–14 describes a prayer meeting where women and men, including Jesus’ apostles, were present. But leading in prayer during an official meeting of the church is, as we’ve already seen, a role ordained for men (1 Timothy 2:8)."---end JMac
For another take on the question, here is Tony Miano on the question. Miano attends Grace Community Church (John MacArthur’s church) and is in submission to Phil Johnson in small group. He says things I agree with.Christian Women Bloggers: Maintaining God-Intended Femininity

Here is Phil Johnson on women discernment bloggers. He notes that many female bloggers who specialize in discernment wind up simply having a sharp tongue and use it negatively. I agree with this also. Johnson said there are some personalities which are predisposed to snark and bitterness and they USE blogging as the excuse to let the flesh run rampant. I look to Pastor Justin Peters as my positive role model here. I have listened to his discernment seminars and sermons for many years and I admire the way he continually submits to the Spirit and thus maintains his gentle composure, even when saying the harshest of biblical things.

The Johnson comments come from a Youtube video event hosted by Todd Friel. Start at 25:00 go to about 30:00. I also agree with Johnson that many women discernment bloggers presume to teach but do not display a rational understanding of doctrine. Oftentimes this is why their unfeminine harridan side kicks in. The First Blast of the Trumpet Against the Monstrous Regiment of Discernment Divas

Sewing circle, 1952. Wikimedia commons
So that’s it. As for me personally regarding the blog, several men whom I trust read it and occasionally touch base with me privately to ask me a clarification question to check for my understanding, they encourage me, or they reprove me. Sometimes they comment openly and I always appreciate the male perspective. I also appreciate the fact that they are 'out there', but we're 'together in the Body', jointly performing our gifts and roles. I personally believe that they are taking their leadership seriously by monitoring me and nurturing me. And I’m grateful for it.

I am fully submitted to the concept of women not teaching in the church- unless it is to children or other women only. And no female pastors or deacons. And no women interrupting male-led bible studies or co-opting lessons held in the church with their own insights etc. Submissive and orderly is the command and I am firm on that!

As for women writing books, blogging, discipling, or speaking of theological things in the public square, I follow Philip's daughters, (Acts 21:9), Eunice and Lois, (2 Timothy 1:5), Lydia, (Acts 16:14),  Dorcas (Acts 9:36) and other women who restrict their ministry to women, submit to the men in their lives, but unashamedly proclaim the glories of this wonderful Jesus whom we share and whom the dying world needs to know.



Woman to Woman: Answering the Call of Titus 2

Biblical vision for Pastors discipling men and women

The Titus 2 Challenge

Going Beyond Titus 2: Gospel-Centered Whole Bible Discipleship

Scripture photo: Worship in music

EPrata photo

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Biblical ignorance regarding the Pope is staggering (but not surprising)

LifeWay tweeted this out this morning:

Seth Dunn, a young Christian man whom I follow on Twitter, responded thus-

The United States' Christians' response to Pope Francis' trip to our shores is sad but not surprising. End Time apostasy is growing and growing, metastasizing in fact, if you ask me.

Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, (1 Timothy 4:1)

Worse to swallow though is the massive biblical ignorance from the more conservative quarters, such as the LifeWay survey participants. Catholicism is NOT Christianity. The Protestant Reformation happened during the last year of the Middle Ages (1517) because of the protests from those who had come to see this fact and were willing to stand up and be heard. Christians protested the Catholic Church's corruption of the Gospel, its stranglehold on the people, and the depravity of the papacy & priesthood. We are still protesting, or should be. Yet according to the survey above, those who should know better are accepting, not protesting. They are joining, not separating. The blood of all the true Christians martyred at the hands of the Pope and his henchmen cries out from the ground against this blasphemy and this defection.

On the other hand it is not surprising that it seems that only 37% or less of pastors surveyed actually hold to biblical doctrine. Many of you faithful and lovely readers email or comment or contact me on Facebook in your pain and confusion over the rapid loss of biblical truth in your church and who mourn the defection of your own husband-pastor-deacons-women's leaders-church from the true faith. Anyone who worships in a church which preaches solidly in these days seems to be in the minority.
Wikimedia commons

It seems to be the way of flesh and it seems to be the way of the prophecies that this would happen. See this from Hosea of the people Israel after they got comfortable subsequent to the Exodus,

When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me. (Hosea 13:6)

See this similar behavior from Revelation of the wealthy and satisfied church at Laodicea,

For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. (Rev 3:17).

See this rebuke from God to His people Israel for having rejected His knowledge,

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. (Hosea 4:6).

See this similar pattern in the New Testament-

For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. (Romans 8:7)

Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. (1 Corinthians 14:36-38).

It is prophesied that what is happening will happen. The prophecies of mass defection from sound doctrine are many, as is the past behavior of a myriad of peoples all throughout time in the Bible.

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, (2 Timothy 4:3).

And 2 Timothy 3:1, Jude 1:18, 1 Timothy 4:1 and many other verses also speak to the professing believer's refusal to submit the flesh to sound doctrine and that they will go astray, revealing they were only professors and not genuine after all.

Here are some resources regarding the hopeless religion Catholicism is. And keep studying your bible so!!

The Beginning of Knowledge 
The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:

To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth— Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance, to understand a proverb and a saying, the words of the wise and their riddles. The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:1-7)

Resources; and there are many more at each of these sites besides just the three listed here,

Mike Gendron, ex-Catholic Apologist:-
False Prophet praised as Holy Father

Matt Slick, Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry-
Attaining salvation in Roman Catholicism

John MacArthur, Grace To You-
Explaining the heresy of Catholicism

Friday, September 25, 2015

There is only one way to heaven

EPrata photo
Whatever a fundamentalist is these days, I'm often "accused" of being one. We know that to the world, "Fundies say the darnedest things" and I've been quoted on that so-named forum more than once. The world points to biblical Christians as narrow minded, bigoted, closed minded, or myriad of other epithets to indicate that we need to be accepting, tolerant, and broad minded, especially of 'all religions.'

This gentleman, Glenn Beauchemin, made the following remark just yesterday on Facebook: "The Fundies have little room in their hearts for a good man like this [the Pope] and even less room in their minds."

We have all the room that is possible to have for a man like that, because there but for the grace of God, go us. We love our fellow man enough to witness to the power of Jesus to turn a heart of stone like the Pope's into a heart of flesh. (Ezekiel 36:26).

There aren't any "good men." There aren't even 'all religions.' There are only two. Much about the Christian life is very stark and clear. It is either-or. Heaven or hell. World vs Christian. Unforgiven sinner or forgiven sinner. In fact, being "narrow minded," at least where the Bible and the Lord's commands come in, is a good thing.

Satan will mimic, counterfeit, masquerade and plain just lie as to the way to heaven.

In a recent sermon about heaven John MacArthur delivered to an audience of youths, he drew on the Bible to show just how narrow the way is and how wide is the gulf between the two worlds. This sharp divide of either/or, in or out, is discussed by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7. Jesus used several metaphors to draw the distinction between the two ways. MacArthur explained:
Strive to enter the narrow gate. What is this talking about? What does it mean to strive to enter the narrow gate? ... As we come to the end of the Sermon on the Mount there is a series of contrasts. 
Two gates, wide and narrow
Two ways, broad and narrow
Two destinies, life and destruction
Two crowds, many and few
Two trees, one good, one corrupt
Two fruits, one good and one bad
Two behaviors, saying and doing
Two builders, wise and foolish
Two foundations, rock and sand
Two houses, one stands and one falls
If being narrow-minded means ONLY accepting the Lord's truth and not all the world's, I will gladly accept the description. If being too narrow means I am on the Lord's narrow road, I am grateful. If I am in the crowd of few and not many, then all is well.

How many entrances do we need? One is all it takes, and for Jesus, it took a lot. He lived a scrupulously sinless life. He suffered the indignity of humiliation on the cross. He bore all the punishment and wrath for sin into His very self, and He endured the agonizing separation from His Father for the first time in all eternity. He did this to make a way for us to enter through Him.

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. (Matthew 7:13)

The door is narrow, but it is sufficient.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

First day of fall: God's glory in creation continues to awe

The next three months are among my favorites of the year. The hot-hot-hot summer is done. The sticky humidity is over. The skies have cleared of that summer haze, and the stars are again bright at night. There is a new vigor and freshness of the days and a crispness to the evening where it feels just so good to draw up your blanket and cuddle.

The Lord ordained the seasons in their progressions since the very beginnings. The cycle is one that is both useful and beautiful. He could have made everything gray and rectangular. But He didn't. The diversity of foods, lands, stars, trees, and seasonal changes is gloriously gorgeous. The display of leaves during fall, the harvest bounty, the stars glittering above in the clear night sky...all useful,yes, for signs and growing and timing ... but beautiful too.

Our God is creative and His works are to be praised.

And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years, (Genesis 1:14)

While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.” (Genesis 8:22)

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

He made the moon to mark the seasons; the sun knows its time for setting. (Psalm 104:19)

Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest. In plowing time and in harvest you shall rest. (Exodus 34:21)

He gives snow like wool; He scatters the frost like ashes. (Psalm 147:16)

He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man’s heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

An Eloquent Six-Year-Old Gives Her Mother a Meaningful Lesson About Staying Friends After Divorce

From the Laughing Squid.

The Bible talks about having the faith of a child.

He called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. "And whoever welcomes a little child like this in my name welcomes me. But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. (Matthew 18:2-6)

See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven. (Matthew 18:10)

Matthew Henry explains the concepts here:
Christ spoke many words of his sufferings, but only one of his glory; yet the disciples fasten upon that, and overlook the others. Many love to hear and speak of privileges and glory, who are willing to pass by the thoughts of work and trouble. Our Lord set a little child before them, solemnly assuring them, that unless they were converted and made like little children, they could not enter his kingdom. Children, when very young, do not desire authority, do not regard outward distinctions, are free from malice, are teachable, and willingly dependent on their parents. It is true that they soon begin to show other dispositions, and other ideas are taught them at an early age; but these are marks of childhood, and render them proper emblems of the lowly minds of true Christians. Surely we need to be daily renewed in the spirit of our minds, that we may become simple and humble, as little children, and willing to be the least of all. Let us daily study this subject, and examine our own spirits.
With that in mind, here a 6 year old girl gives her mom a wake up call and a life after her parents were divorced. Cherish Sherry recorded her daughter Tiana's important message and posted it on her Fcebook page. It was picked up by other media in the last few days since the initial posting.

I'm so glad she recorded it. Little Tiana spoke of humility, of exalting the other. She spoke of friendship, and having a heart of love among family members. She said a world without love and friendliness would be overrun with people who are simply monsters. What good is it to live in a world of monsters, without love? Her point was love begins in the home, with extending one's self toward the other and not lording it over. She reminded her mother that her dad was still her father, and not to be mean.

This family is not Christian I don't think, but these are biblical concepts the girl is speaking of.

God hates divorce. But when it happens, the little ones sometimes must step in with insight and the faith of a child.

May the Lord bless all the children. This sinful world is hard on them.

Monday, September 21, 2015

A tale of two doors

EPrata photo
I was reading 2 Thessalonians and I read this verse from 2 Thessalonians 2:5-7,

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.

I'd always focused on extracting the meaning from the part of the verse that says "he who restrains" but this time I was focused on the "mystery of lawlessness." My mind began to question. "Why is lawlessness a mystery? The Bible speaks of sinfulness often. That's what sinfulness is, lawlessness. So why is it a mystery? We've been living with it for 6000 years..."

I find that asking questions of myself about the meaning helps me dig deeper. I'm not speaking of doubting the meaning. Nor am I suggesting I am questioning God's judgment. I am asking myself what, who, when, where, why questions like a journalist would do to get at the truth of a story. 'Why is this word here? Who was Paul writing to? Why is his tone so abrupt? What is the city or geographical location? What was the context?' Those kinds of questions.

So why is lawlessness a mystery? Let's hold that thought while I take you down another line of inquiry and then I'll tie the two together.

I was listening to a John MacArthur sermon last Saturday morning. It was titled, "Heaven: The Future of Christians." In the sermon MacArthur was talking about salvation and the process of getting into heaven. He explained this verse:

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. (Matthew 11:12)

He said of the narrow way, the small door of Matthew 7:14, that it's hard to go through. "Why? Why is it so hard?" He'd said-
"First, it's hard to find because it's small, second, to go through you have to strive. You have to agonize. You have to be violent about it. You have to press into it..."
It is hard to go through the door of repentance. It is the most difficult thing a person will ever do. Turning your back on your own wickedness and lawlessness is agonizing over our sin nature and violence because one is turning one's back on one's self. It is hating not just the sin IN us, but our very selves because sin is our very nature.

In a different sermon but on the same verse, Matthew 7:13-14 and the narrow door, MacArthur paints a picture of the struggle to come to repentance and salvation-
So Jesus says in Matthew 11:12, “The Kingdom of heaven suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” What amazing words. There's a certain violence in coming to salvation. You're in the throes of a war and a battle with your own soul to release your love of sin and self and pride. It's a wrenching experience. Luke 16:16 says, “Every man presses into it.”

Becoming a Christian is not easy. It's hard. Another way to say all that is that the Kingdom opens up to those who seek with all their hearts. You're not going to sleep your way into the Kingdom. The Kingdom requires earnest endeavor, untiring energy, utmost exertion.
Pressing into the door with all exertion and violence. His word-pictures brought to mind another door that people were pressing into.

The door to Lot's house at Sodom.

The men who were deep in sin and given over to it were pressing into the door with violence and all exertion. Here is the scene at Genesis 19:9-11.

EPrata photo
But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down. 10But the men reached out their hands and brought Lot into the house with them and shut the door. 11And they struck with blindness the men who were at the entrance of the house, both small and great, so that they wore themselves out groping for the door.

The men were immersed in their sin-nature and they exhausted themselves trying to go through the door to perform their sin. They wanted to go through the door from bad to worse. The penitent person wants to go through the door from worse to best.

In referring back to the Matthew 11:12 verse,

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.

I'd always pondered over that scene at Lot's hose. The men had obviously experienced something supernatural, they'd all just been struck blind. But their sin was so potent they still tried to beat down the door with violence. This is a peek at the mystery of lawlessness.

Lawlessness is a mystery because mystery means veiled from our full perception. We know that in 1 Corinthians 13:12 we see through a mirror dimly

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.

We can't fully comprehend the mystery of Jesus, the mystery of the heights and the depths of His glory, the mystery of his perfections. It is partly veiled from us. It is the same with sin. The full height and depth of sin is partially hidden from us. This fullness will come when the Man of Sin is revealed, who is the antichrist. We have a sense of the mystery of lawlessness now, because John said there are many antichrists. We know from history what Hitler did. But sin can be and will be so much worse than that when it's full expression is revealed in the Tribulation, embodied by the man whose nickname IS sin.

Just as Jesus' glory is infinitely beautiful, so is sin infinitely gross and putrid. The fullness of sin's depravity is hidden from us and its full expression is not revealed ... yet. We see sin through a mirror dimly.

This essay is the tale of two doors. The door to salvation which the penitent presses into, exerts himself toward with violence. Then there is the door to sin which the impenitent presses into, exerts himself toward with violence. They exhaust themselves groping for the door to the next layer of descending depravity, the depths of which is bottomless like the pit where the worst of the demons are being held in chains, restrained from expressing themselves until the time of Revelation 9:2 arrives.

The path is wide and leads to a big door, or the path is narrow and leads to a small door. My hope is that many more will press into the small gate and change from goat to sheep. Use all exertion, violence and pressing into repentance, forsaking all behind, even yourself.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

The View's women: noisy & clamorous, shameful & infamous

The television network ABC has produced for the last 18 years, a show called "The View." The show is a talk show with an all-female panel discussing news, politics and cultural events of the day. Initially, veteran journalist Barbara Walters was the main host. The show has since rotated different women on and off, each panel becoming more strident than the last. It is a fair thing to say the show is hosted by cantankerous and quarrelsome women. It is an unattractive show.

I have seen the show once or twice. I don't watch it because I have a severe distaste for programming that includes yelling, and that is pretty much all these women do.
The show's blurb is: "Created in 1997 by veteran journalist Barbara Walters, "The View" is a daytime talk show hosted by women -- Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Candace Cameron Bure, Michelle Collins, Paula Faris and Raven-Symoné -- and each offers her take on the day's news during the opening "Hot Topics" segment. Later, the ladies welcome various celebrities, who join them in a chat or perform for the audience. The program also offers tips on beauty, fashion, diet and relationships. Known for their freewheeling style, the hosts are often lampooned in late-night sketches." (source)
This week, two of the panelists commented on a contestant in the Miss America pageant. The contestant they mocked was representing Colorado. During the talent portion of the pageant, Miss Colorado appeared in her nurse's scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck and delivered an original monologue relating her experience working a particular Alzheimer's patient.

The two women on the show mainly involved in the mocking were Joy Behar and Michelle Collins. They mocked the woman's 'lack of talent' and her choice to relate her professional experience. They mocked her scrubs. They mocked her stethoscope. They mocked her profession.

Collins' and Behars's remarks became controversial and five advertisers have since withdrawn support on the show.
The controversial comments made by Behar and Collins came in response to Sunday’s 2016 Miss America pageant featuring Miss Colorado Kelley Johnson, whose talent consisted of a monologue about being a nurse. The next day, Behar said she did not consider the monologue a legitimate talent, and appeared ill-informed on the nursing profession as a whole. (source)
Feminism has done women no favors by insisting they must have a loud voice in the public realms. (I am not saying woman cannot speak publicly.) However what I am saying is that a continual pattern of strident, loud opinionated screeching in public does not become a woman. Many people, including myself, are turned off by watching such behavior. Let's see what the Bible has to say about quarrelsome females.

It is better to live in a desert land than with a quarrelsome and fretful woman. (Proverbs 21:19)

A continual dripping on a rainy day and a quarrelsome wife are alike;  (Proverbs 27:15)
Gill's- and a contentious woman are alike; troublesome and uncomfortable; as in a rainy day, a man cannot go abroad with any pleasure, and if the rain is continually dropping upon him in his house he cannot sit there with any comfort; and so a contentious woman, that is always scolding and brawling, a man has no comfort at home; and if he goes abroad he is jeered and laughed at on her account by others; and perhaps she the more severely falls upon him when he returns for having been abroad;
to restrain her is to restrain the wind or to grasp oil in one's right hand. (Proverbs 27:16)
Gill's -Whosoever hideth her hideth the wind,.... Whoever attempts to stop her brawls and contentions, to repress and restrain them, and hinder her voice being heard in the streets, and endeavours to hide the shame that comes upon herself and family, attempts a thing as impossible as to hide the wind in the palm of a man's hand, or to stop it from blowing; for as that, by being restrained or pent up by any methods that can be used, makes the greater noise, so, by all the means that are used to still a contentious woman, she is but the more noisy and clamorous, and becomes more shameful and infamous;
It is better to live in a corner of the housetop than in a house shared with a quarrelsome wife. (Proverbs 21:9)
Gill's- It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop,.... The roofs of houses in Judea were that, encompassed with battlements, whither persons might retire for solitude, and sit in safety: and it is better to be in a corner of such a roof alone, and be exposed to scorching heat, to blustering winds, to thunder storms and showers of rain, than with a brawling woman in a wide house; large and spacious, full of rooms,
Like a gold ring in a pig's snout is a beautiful woman without discretion. (Proverbs 11:22)
Pulpit Commentary- So is a fair woman which is without discretion; without taste, deprived of the faculty of saying and doing what is seemly and fitting. The external beauty of such a woman is as incongruous as a precious ring in the snout of a pig.
The Bible on having a bitter tongue:

Hide me from the secret counsel of evildoers, From the tumult of those who do iniquity, 3Who have sharpened their tongue like a sword. They aimed bitter speech as their arrow, (Psalm 64:2-3)

Brawling women are not easy to live with (Proverbs 21:9; 25:24).

Angry women are never good company (Proverbs 21:19).

The Bible on speaking defilements:

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

And the tongue is a fire, a world of unrighteousness. The tongue is set among our members, staining the whole body, setting on fire the entire course of life, and set on fire by hell. (James 3:6)

The Bible on how women are to conduct themselves is also equally clear.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, (Titus 2:3)

Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:6. This verse is aimed at both genders. This is a good, short essay.)

Gracious women retain their honor. (Proverbs 11:16)

The women on The View can't help being strident, loud, obnoxious, or shameful (perhaps with the exception of Candace Cameron Bure, who is a Christian, one who unfortunately is partnering with darkness though by being a panelist on the show). This is because the Bible says--

But no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison. (James 3:8).

Only with the help of the Holy Spirit in us with the new creation being sanctified can a person hope to tame the tongue. The Bible says much about the tongue, pro and con, male and female. It is a big subject.

Meanwhile, if you watch The View, I'd hope that you would reconsider, it isn't edifying to the Lord to participate in these women's shameful acts and support their bitter tongue. I don't watch the show but I will keep these women in mind when I am about to speak-ill advisedly or ungraciously. It isn't attractive, but gracious speech most certainly IS.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

America's legal order begins to fray. And, police are one of the common graces God gives us

The Bible says that the inclination of man's heart is always evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5, Romans 3:12).

The Bible says that God's wrath is already upon the world. (Romans 1:18, Ephesians 5:6).

Jesus said that the coming Great Tribulation will be the worst time on earth that ever was and ever will be. (Matthew 24:21).

So, if man is evil and His wrath is already upon the world, why is it that we don't have complete and total anarchy all the time?

There is a difference between types of wrath.
  • Eternal wrath- this is the wrath that unbelievers endure in the Lake of Fire forever, (Mark 9:48)
  • Eschatological wrath- this is the wrath that will be unleashed upon the world prior to Jesus' Second Coming, the one spoken of in Matthew 24
  • Cataclysmic wrath- The Flood, the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeobiim, the historical times when a cataclysm occurred such as Vesuvius erupting in 79AD or the Christmas Tsunami of 2004,
  • Sowing and Reaping wrath- such as AIDS upon the homosexual,
  • Abandonment wrath- when God turns a society over to its sin.
You can read more about these five kinds of wrath here in this MacArthur sermon "The Reality of God's Wrath."

The second answer to my own posed question as to why the earth doesn't descend into anarchy all the time is because The Holy Spirit restrains sin. He does so through four means-
  • Conscience
  • Family 
  • Legal Order
  • Church/Holy Spirit in believers (source)
It seems that in America, the conscience of many people is seared. The acceptance of homosexuality and homosexual marriage and the defense of the Planned Parenthood videos shows us that. As for the family, satan has done a good job in destroying the foundation of it by feminism, abortion, and no-fault divorce. Also he has chipped away at it by the pollution that destroys families of teenage and adult indiscriminate sexual activity, molestation of children, society's acceptance of unmarrieds living together, and porn.

As for law enforcement, Satan is currently doing a good and evil job destroying our trust in this basic foundational block of one of the means through which the Spirit restrains sin in society. Of late, there have been a number of tragic murders of law enforcement personnel across the nation.

America’s Legal Order Begins to Fray
Amid the escalation of violent crime are signs of a breakdown of basic respect for law enforcement.
Jim McDonnell, head of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the nation’s largest, tells me that the current anticop animus puts the nation in a place where it hasn’t been since the 1960s. “The last 10 years have witnessed dramatic decreases in crime,” Sheriff McDonnell says. “Now, in a short period of time, we are seeing those gains undone.”
The current hatred of police/law enforcement in America, the overt disrespect, with the attendant killings of cops has prompted the question, "is there a war on cops?" Certainly, the statistics indicate something going on, but maybe not what one wold think by looking only at the surface. Yes, cop killings have doubled this year, but that only seems high because last year was the safest year for law enforcement in history. By comparison to only last year, it seems that more police are being killed, but the numbers remain consistent with most of previous history excluding last year. (Source)

Yet...yet...the more measured Wall Street Journal notes that-
"The lawful use of police power is being met by hostility and violence, often ignored by the press. In Cincinnati, a small riot broke out in late July when the police arrived at a drive-by shooting scene, where a 4-year-old girl had been shot in the head and critically injured. Bystanders loudly cursed at officers who had started arresting suspects at the scene on outstanding warrants, according to a witness I spoke with." 
Jim McDonnell, head of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, the nation’s largest, tells me that the current anticop animus puts the nation in a place where it hasn’t been since the 1960s. “The last 10 years have witnessed dramatic decreases in crime,” Sheriff McDonnell says. “Now, in a short period of time, we are seeing those gains undone.” 
Police officials I have spoken with in recent months say that they long to hear America’s leaders change the tone of the national conversation before respect for the rule of law itself deteriorates further. They’re still waiting.
Personally I don't remember this level of hatred for law and its representative, police. I know there is a general feeling that justice is not prevailing, and perhaps people are lashing out for that reason. Perhaps a lot of reasons, but mainly, remember that nations exist because God ordains them, and each inhabitant of that nations populates it because God ordains it.

And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, (Acts 17:26).

The Holy Spirit converts each person and dwells inside them as the restrainer, there's the conscience, and there's the visible representation of God's family on earth for the purpose of making disciples and bringing glory to God through their worship. How about the civil authority? Here John MacArthur explains the biblical basis for civil authority and how God restrains evil in the world:
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.  
The civil government uses an even increased threat. The law of God in the heart has a threat, conscience, which will pile guilt on. The family has a threat, the rod, which will discipline the disobedient child. Civil government has an even greater force, even a deadly force if necessary. Civil government is a God-ordained institution to restrain sinners.
We have the nation of America where the personal conscience is seared, where family is breaking
down and being redefined away from the biblical model, and we have a growing rebellion against civil authority. Knowing that God uses these as a restraint against evil, the removal of these is not a good progression, to make a typical Yankee understatement.

I remember an episode of Andy Griffith called Lawman Barney. The show hearkens back to a more innocent time, and most of the problems presented during the course of the show were small compared to our day and were usually resolved by an aw shucks attitude and a sweet appeal to the conscience.

In the show, two big men had set up an illegal farm stand within Mayberry's jurisdiction. Andy sent Barney to tell them to move on. The men refused.

Andy went out to where the men were. Unbenownst to Barney, Andy told the men that he was going to send his mad-dog, volatile Deputy to move them along, and after a scary speech Andy asked for their next of kin in case things went wrong.

Andy did send Barney out there and the men, remembering Andy's speech, hastily packed up and took off. Barney was elated.

Later as the men stopped at the local filling station, where Floyd the Barber was getting a pop, they happened to mention the mad-dog deputy, and all the filling station men and Floyd laughed at such a thought, scoffing about Barney in front of the men. The men turned the truck around and went back to set up their stand.

Floyd came to the Police station and laughingly told Andy about the silly notion the stranger men had about Barney, while Barney was in the back room, overhearing. Andy vowed to go out there and stop the men. Barney asked Andy why he wasn't going to take his gun. Below, starting at 18:37, is the rest of the story.

Barney: Andy?
Andy: Yeah?
Barney: Ain't ya going to take your gun?
Andy: I'll get them out without a gun. Like you said earlier, this badge does all my talking for me. I'm sworn to uphold the law and that's what I mean to do. Folks better respect it. Simple as that.

On the ride to the site, Barney asked Andy to let him handle the men.

Barney: Fellas. I warned you before and I'm warning you for the last time. You take your truck and you get out of here.
Perps: [remain where they are.]
Barney: This is the Deputy Sheriff talking. So git moving. Now!
Perps: [move closer to Barney]
Barney: Do you see this badge? It says that I'm sworn to uphold the law.
Perps: [move closer to Barney and bookend him]
Barney: Now that's what I mean to do and you fellers better respect it. Understand? It's just as simple as that.
Perps: [tower intimidatingly over Barney and glower at him]
Barney: [looking up at each of them] You're both a lot bigger'n I am. But this badge represents a lot of people that are a lot bigger than either one of you. Now are you going to get moving?

Of course today a gun is necessary and there are much worse perps than illegal fruit stand men. But Law Enforcement is about the authority police have to protect citizenry from mayhem and to ensure a peaceable community. Police restrain evil sinners by the authority given them. It's why you see them show their badge and say "stop in the name of the law." They don't say "stop in the name of Phil".

When the general population's respect and restraint of their own evil under that authority disappears it's because they no longer see the police as representative of the greater authority. This is when mayhem will occur. I believe that this is happening now. It's why teenagers or even adults get into a flash mob and overrun a store, vandalizing and stealing with impunity. The following Bible verse ends the sad story of a nation that threw off civil restraint and immediately descended into moral anarchy. They formed a plan to get wives by kidnapping/raping the dancers at Shiloh and carrying them off. Why?

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 21:25)

Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible  explains:
In those days there was no king in Israel,.... No supreme magistrate, Joshua being dead, and as yet no judge in Israel had risen up; for all related in the five last chapters of this book were done between the death of Joshua and the time of the judges: every man did that which was right in his own eyes; there being none to restrain him from it, or punish him for it; and this accounts for the many evil things related, as the idolatry of Micah and the Danites, the base usage of the Levite's concubine, the extreme rigour and severity with which the Israelites treated their brethren the Benjaminites, the slaughter of the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead, and the rape of the daughters of Shiloh.
When there's no respect for authority the nation has set over the people, and/or no fear of punishment and you have the very expression of the verse I began this essay with: every man's thoughts were of only evil all the time. Those thoughts don't stay thoughts though. they become actions.

The final restraint God uses in the world is the church with its Holy Spirit-dwelling believers. And one day God will remove that restraint, also:

Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things? And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. (2 Thessalonians 2:5-7).

Here is an article from Martyn Lloyd-Jones on common grace and the operations of the Holy Spirit in society. I recommend reading it in its entirety here. Or listen here.
God, through the Holy Spirit, restrains the foulest manifestations of sin, but there are times when He gives people up to them. Are we, I wonder, living in such an age? Compare the twentieth century with the nineteenth. It is obvious that the moral level is very much lower today. That does not mean that everybody was a Christian in the Victorian era, but it does mean that even people who were not Christians were better men and women, speaking generally, than people now. Why? 
It was because of the general influence of the Holy Spirit. But it does look as if again, today, God is giving humanity over 'unto vile affections' as Paul outlines in Romans 1. Therefore I deduce that one of the results of the operation of the Holy Spirit in common grace is that God does restrain men and women. He does specifically restrain sin. That is why God has appointed governments, authorities, magistrates and powers: it is to keep sin within bounds. Though God knows that there are certain people in the world who will never be saved, He does not allow them to live just as they please and to give fuller manifestation to sin; He restrains it in them.
We have a magnificent God who uses all these means, including law enforcement, to restrain evil on our behalf, when we certainly do not deserve it. Did you ever stop to think that Law Enforcement Officers are an expression of the Lord's common graces? Pray for our Officers of the Law.

Sirs . . . we also are men of like passion with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities [these gods] unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: who in times past suffered all the nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. (Acts 14:15–17)


Further Reading

Officer Down Memorial Page

Friday, September 18, 2015

Heaven: The New Jerusalem - our future home

I've been writing about heaven. Included under the generic umbrella of "heaven" are the terms, Paradise, Abraham's Bosom, Millennium Kingdom, and New Jerusalem. Today I'd like to examine New Jerusalem. The following are quotes from the GotQuestions article "What is the New Jerusalem?" Here at the beginning of their article, we find many terms for the New Jerusalem, which is a city, it's in heaven, and is also heaven itself. See? The topic of heaven is not as simple as one would expect, but is always glorious to study.
The New Jerusalem, which is also called the Tabernacle of God, the Holy City, the City of God, the Celestial City, the City Foursquare, and Heavenly Jerusalem, is literally heaven on earth. It is referred to in the Bible in several places (Galatians 4:26; Hebrews 11:10; 12:22–24; and 13:14), but it is most fully described in Revelation 21.
Please read Revelation 21, it is a short chapter, but too long to post entirely. Every Christian knows that upon our death or at the rapture if we're living, we go meet Jesus instantly and are given glorified bodies. Our abode will be New Jerusalem, which is presently in heaven. John MacArthur calls it the "Capital City of Heaven." It is a city, with specific dimensions and specific adornments and specific inhabitants. It is not ethereal. It is real, physical, and it is our destination! Here is a chronology of when and where this magnificent city appears.
In Revelation 21, the recorded history of man is at its end. All of the ages have come and gone. Christ has gathered His church in the Rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:15–17). The Tribulation has passed (Revelation 6—18). The battle of Armageddon has been fought and won by our Lord Jesus Christ (Revelation 19:17–21). Satan has been chained for the 1,000-year reign of Christ on earth (Revelation 20:1–3). A new, glorious temple has been established in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 40—48). The final rebellion against God has been quashed, and Satan has received his just punishment, an eternity in the lake of fire (Revelation 20:7–10.) The Great White Throne Judgment has taken place, and mankind has been judged (Revelation 20:11–15).

In Revelation 21:1 God does a complete make-over of heaven and earth (Isaiah 65:17; 2 Peter 3:12–13). The new heaven and new earth are what some call the “eternal state” and will be “where righteousness dwells” (2 Peter 3:13). After the re-creation, God reveals the New Jerusalem. John sees a glimpse of it in his vision: “The Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband” (Revelation 21:2). This is the city that Abraham looked for in faith (Hebrews 11:10). It is the place where God will dwell with His people forever (Revelation 21:3). Inhabitants of this celestial city will have all tears wiped away (Revelation 21:4).

The New Jerusalem will be fantastically huge. John records that the city is nearly 1,400 miles long, and it is as wide and as high as it is long—a perfect cube (Revelation 21:15–17). The city will also be dazzling in every way. It is lighted by the glory of God (verse 23). Its twelve foundations, bearing the names of the twelve apostles, are “decorated with every kind of precious stone” (verse 19). It has twelve gates, each a single pearl, bearing the names of the twelve tribes of Israel (verses 12 and 21). The street will be made of pure gold (verse 21).
I can't imagine this! The street of gold (street singular, not streets plural), the Tree of Life, the magnificent River of Life (Revelation 22:1-2), the light of His glory... Wow!

The Holy City in heaven is hinted at in John 14:3,

And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

New Jerusalem is the place He has been preparing. Imagine living in a place specially designed just for us, He who knows the heart. Our individual abodes will be perfectly suited to each one of us, and it will be bright with sinless glory of the Lamb.

Here is a verse which describes the beauty-

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper, clear as crystal. (Revelation 21:10-11).

New Jerusalem, by Gustave Dore
Being able not only to view God's glory but live in it is a mind-altering and an exceedingly shattering concept. His gifts to us are truly boundless.

Let's imagine it on a more personal level for a moment. Imagine a beggar like Lazarus in Luke 16, begging outside your gate. The man is filthy, and his hair is crawling with bugs. He has open sores, pus filled dripping sores. His skin is grimy with human oils and ground-in dirt from the streets. He drools, and his face is covered with snot on which the flies land and cannot escape. "Gross" doesn't even begin to describe this filthy person.

That is how we look to Jesus, mired in our sin. Worse even. (Genesis 6:5)

Now imagine that you bring this person inside your home and wrap your baby's innocent and clean blanket on him and hug him and invite him to stay in your home.

This is a pale shadow of how it is that Jesus could look down from heaven and see us, sin covered filthy rags, bones full of poison and mouths full of pollution, and clean us and wrap us and invite us to stay with Him inside His clean and innocent home- The New Jerusalem.

It is encouraging to think of the glories that await in New Jerusalem, AKA heaven, AKA the Holy City, AKA the Bride Adorned. It is also sweet to read Revelation and receive the promised blessing. Reading it gives us a blessing the verse says (Revelation 1:3) and I personally believe the blessing to the one who reads the book is .... the deeper knowledge of Jesus, and the lengths to which He has gone to provide for us a home in glory.

Again, read Revelation. Ponder His promises about the future home He has prepared for us. He has prepared another home, you know. Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41). Its mouth was enlarged to receive sinners. (Isaiah 5:14). Yet He chose to redeem some from their sins, and that is us, His bride. We will live in beauty, perfection, glory. And all due to Jesus, because HE descended to live among polluted and depraved people. He lived perfectly, was innocent of all charges but was executed in humiliation anyway. He absorbed all God's wrath for sinners, taking on to Himself OUR punishment, and then was laid in a grave not even his own but was someone else's. He rose to heaven and has ever since, been interceding for us at the altar of God, he has prayed for us, sent angels to us, given us His Spirit, and has prepared a place for us to dwell in comfort and love.

Anyone, and I mean ANYONE, who says they "want more" is insane. Anyone who says they "don't have the time nor time inclination" to contend for the faith He delivered is profoundly malevolent. Jesus gave us all this and more, He gave us Himself.

O brethren, read Revelation. It ends well. It really ends very well. It is well with our souls.


Further Reading

Heaven series by John MacArthur 1: What Heaven Is
Heaven series by John MacArthur 2: What Heaven is, and What it is Like
Heaven series by John MacArthur 3: The New Jerusalem

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Chile endures 8.3 quake, tsunami

Yesterday Chile was rocked by a large 8.3 earthquake. It is the first quake of this magnitude this year. Annually, the United States Geological Survey (USGS) expects about 1 quake per year in the 8.0-8.9 range. Many years, there are none in that range. In recent history, there has been a statistically remarkable year in which there were 4, something that had never happened in the years of USGS tracking (since 1912). That happened in 2007.

Chart by EPrata. Click to enlarge
Here are yesterday's Chile quakes with large aftershocks the USGS has listed:

6.7 53km W of Illapel, Chile
6.5 54km S of Ovalle, Chile
6.4 64km NW of Illapel, Chile
7.0 25km W of Illapel, Chile
6.4 58km W of Illapel, Chile
8.3 46km W of Illapel, Chile

There were many other quakes of various lower than 6.0+ magnitudes, as you can see from this USGS map.

The quake sparked a tsunami warning. Tsunami waves hit the Chilean shores. The nationwide tsunami warning for Chile has since been lifted.

Chile quake triggers mass evacuation and tsunami alert
At least five people died when the 8.3-magnitude quake hit. Residents of Illapel, near the quake's epicentre, fled into the streets in terror as their homes began to sway. In the coastal town of Coquimbo, waves of up to 4.5m (15ft) in height hit the shore. A tsunami alert was issued for the entire Chilean coast but has since been lifted. ... The authorities were quick to issue tsunami alerts keen to avert a repeat of the slow response to the 8.8-magnitude quake in 2010, which devastated large areas of the country. More than 500 people died in the quake and the tsunami it triggered and memories of the tragedy are still raw. ... Three people died of heart attacks and another two were crushed by falling rocks and masonry, officials said.

Many news articles went on to describe the panic and fear that overcame residents as the quake continues to make the buildings and the earth sway, roll, and jump. It gives a slight insight into the great fear and panic of what the Tribulation will be like, when quakes so large they bust out the USGS monitoring instruments, when people drop dead on the spot for fear of what is coming on the earth.

people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
(Luke 21:26)

The Tribulation is a real period of time when God's wrath will be unleashed in full force. His wrath rests restrained upon the condemned ungodly now, (John 3:18) but a day is coming when His wrath will be poured out.

But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. (Romans 2:5)

We are living in a time where His grace reigns, and He is calling many to Himself. But the day will come when grace ends and wrath reigns, to show His holiness and His justice in a different way than restraint and love. It will be a day of blood and anger and terror.

I say these things to Christians because of the Christian culture that excessively focuses on love to the exclusion of the reality of wrath. But when we fail to remember the reality of the doom for the ungodly and His righteous anger to punish them, we only give half the story of the News. There is Bad News (wrath, sin, death, and hell) and there is the Good News (grace, repentance, salvation, and peace).

Earthquakes are always a reminder of Who is in charge of the earth and its inhabitants, and that while grace and love are poured out now, the day will come when things will change. Please witness with love but offer the entire News story to those who need it.

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

CNN called him " The ultimate good guy ". CBS called it a " Powerful speech ." The National Review called it " Spre...