Sunday, July 31, 2016

Kay Cude Poetry: Betrayal's Seal

Artist Statement:
In this Gustave Dore print (I am really taken with his work!), I looked closely at Christ's face and saw easily within His expression Christ's "knowing all things" of the heart of Judas (and the like-minded).

Saturday, July 30, 2016

The Duty and Delights of Discernment

I watched Pastor Justin Peters last night at Grace Community Church's live stream of the introduction to his conference Clouds Without Water: A Biblical Critique of the Word-Faith Movement. That introductory hour of the two day conference was helpful in laying the ground work for the remainder of his lessons, because he explained what discernment is, and why it is important to practice, even for Christians who do not possess the gift of distinguishing of of spirits. (1 Corinthians 12:10).

Though Peters adds new video clips and updates the details over time, the overarching topics remain the same. Therefore if you are ever in a position to attend or watch it online as a video-conference, please do. I haven't found a better series of lessons in which discernment is explained and then the audience is shown how to apply it to today's Christian landscape. This link brings you to the conference outline and the topics specifically covered.

Providentially, as I read my Bible this morning, my reading brought me to John 7:17.

If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.

The context of that verse is Jesus is teaching at the Feast of Tabernacles. The audience is amazed that He teaches with such insight and authority. They wondered where Jesus obtained this insight and knowledge and the above verse is part of His answer. Now...what does it mean? Matthew Henry explains the first part of the verse:
That the most competent judges of the truth and divine authority of Christ’s doctrine are those that with a sincere and upright heart desire and endeavour to do the will of God (v. 17): If any man be willing to do the will of God, have his will melted into the will of God, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God or whether I speak of myself. 
Observe here, First, What the question is, concerning the doctrine of Christ, whether it be of God or no; whether the gospel be a divine revelation or an imposture. Christ himself was willing to have his doctrine enquired into, whether it were of God or no, much more should his ministers; and we are concerned to examine what grounds we go upon, for, if we be deceived, we are miserably deceived. Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume
Walvoord continues with an explanation for the rest of the verse-
The religious authorities figured that either a person studied in a traditional school or else he was self-taught. But Jesus’ reply pointed to a third alternative. His teaching was from God who had commissioned Him (cf. 12:49–50; 14:11, 24). Jesus was God-taught, and to know Jesus properly one must be God-taught (6:45). In order to evaluate Jesus’ claim, one must desire to do God’s will. Since Jesus is God’s will for man, people must believe in Him (6:29). Faith is the prerequisite for understanding. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6). If Jesus were only self-taught (speaking on His own) or a genius, then His ministry would be self-exalting. But He did not seek honor for Himself. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, Walvoord, Blum
John MacArthur finishes us off. Remember, the verse is that if anyone's will is to do God's will then he will know if the teaching is from God. The first cause is that the person desires to do God's will. THEN he will be able to discern the teaching.
There's a beautiful analogy to this in Proverbs Chapter 1 where wisdom is personified and is an analogy to Christ.  Chapter 1, verse 20, "Wisdom shouts in the street, even as Jesus did; lifts her voice in the square; at the head of the noisy streets she cries out; at the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings: 'How long, O naive ones, will you love being simple-minded?  And scoffers delight themselves in scoffing?  And fools hate knowledge? Turn from your folly, from your simple mindedness, from your scoffing, and I will pour out my spirit on you and will make my words known to you.'" 
Do you see? You turn, and then it becomes known to you. Repentance comes first. God does not grant light on his truth unless a man is anxious to walk according to that light. He doesn’t grant an understanding of truth until a man is willing to obey that truth. John MacArthur, Embracing the Claims of Christ
Are you willing to walk in His light? Are you desirous of understanding truth, discerning right from wrong and truth from error? Jesus was the only man on earth ever to perfectly represent the Father. Though we cannot represent Him perfectly, our our task is to strive for a better representation of Him each day, and we do this by obeying His will, delving into His truth, and discerning truth from error. Discernment is part of the mix in striving to represent the Father. He grants it all to us, the desire of His will, repentance, and discernment, so let's praise Him that He drew us out of darkness and depravity so we could represent Him at all! He gave us the wonderful gift, He poured out His spirit on us and has made His words known to us.


Further reading

Todd Friel's Drive By Discernment. While Mr Peters' conference covers the Health/Wealth and NAR movements and teaches how to discern them, Friel's series has a wider range and covers discernment itself as a biblical topic.

Friday, July 29, 2016

I live a small life in obscurity. Can I really make a difference for God?

We see so many stories of people launching ministries, or selling everything to move into an inner-city, or striking off to a mission-receiving nation. They are doing Big Things for Jesus.
Sometimes I receive a comment where a Christian woman feels ineffective and insignificant for Jesus. She is either a stay-at-home mom, or works in a job in which she is not a decision-maker, a person droning away in a cubby somewhere. She feels like she would like to make a bigger impact for His kingdom but is not in any kind of powerful position to do so. How can we make a Gospel-impact for Jesus where we are?

I'd first like to celebrate the fact that there are women who yearn and strive to obey her King and to make a difference in souls. Like David, there are many women who adhere to this verse from Psalm 119:59-

I hastened and did not delay To keep Your commandments.

And yet, many wonder since their sphere is so small, how they can minister effectively? Are they making any difference at all? Could we do more?

Our pastor is teaching through Genesis. We learned about Joseph last Sunday. By Genesis 39, Joseph has been sold into slavery by his duplicitous brothers. He is working in the house of Potiphar the Captain of the Guard, as a slave. He is a slave, remember. Bought with money as property to do a master's bidding. Joseph had no say, no power, no sphere in which he wielded decision making capabilities. He was just chattel, slaving obscurely away in a palace of a captain of Egypt.

Now Joseph had been brought down to Egypt, and Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, the captain of the guard, an Egyptian, had bought him from the Ishmaelites who had brought him down there. (Genesis 39:1)
The Hebrew word sar is sometimes rendered chief (Genesis 40:2, 41:9), prince (Daniel 1:7, KJV), ruler or governor (Judges 9:30, 1 Kings 22:26). This same Hebrew word denotes a military leader, official, commander, or captain (Exodus 18:21; Deuteronomy; 1:15; 1 Samuel 18:13, 1 Samuel 22:2, 2 Samuel 23:19; 2 Kings 1:9), the “captain of the bodyguard” or “the captain of the guard” (Genesis 39:1, 41:10), or, as sometimes shown in marginal references, it may be rendered “chief of the executioners.” 
The “captain of the guard” or “captain of the body-guard,” both titles meaning the same thing, was responsible for the security of the king’s prisoners and for executing their sentences upon them. He was also the official guardian of the person, or body, of the king—the chief of the king’s bodyguard.
Freeman, J. M., & Chadwick, H. J. (1998). Manners & customs of the Bible (pp. 73–74). North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos Publishers.

From that Commentary we know that Potiphar was no low person on the totem pole. When Joseph arrived at "Potiphar's house", it wasn't a bungalow. Perhaps Potiphar did not even see Joseph much at the beginning, or if he did, it was in passing.

The Bible is silent on Joseph's exact circumstances, but much has been written about slavery in many different eras, especially Roman times. In the Roman era, as many as 10,000 slaves per day were auctioned off. The Master or the Master's representative would buy them off the block, usually in bunches. Initially, the Master would not know what each slave was capable of. Their skills were a mystery. They were just faceless laborers, an unknown quantity. At first, they would usually be put to menial work and as the Master or his representative got to know the slaves better he would re-distribute them around the property or give them tasks according to their strengths. This is what happened with Joseph.

The LORD was with Joseph, and he became a successful man, and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. 3His master saw that the LORD was with him and that the LORD caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. 4So Joseph found favor in his sight and attended him, and he made him overseer of his house and put him in charge of all that he had. (Genesis 39:2-4)

Joseph slaved away, and yet the LORD was with him. He was apart from his family, alone...but the LORD was with him.

Matthew Henry says of this situation in his complete Commentary,
His master preferred him, by degrees made him steward of his household, v. 4. Note, (1.) Industry and honesty are the surest and safest way both of rising and thriving: Seest thou a man prudent, and faithful, and diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings at length, and not always before mean men. (2.) It is the wisdom of those that are in any sort of authority to countenance and employ those with whom it appears that the presence of God is, Ps. 101:6
Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible: complete and unabridged in one volume

And we know how the event ended. God used Joseph in a mighty way for His purposes. (Genesis 50:20).

If Joseph, a slave, persevered in Godly character enough to influence an entire household and then an entire nation, what can God do with us? Anything, no matter where we are or no matter how small our own sphere seems. Use your vocation for Godly influence, doing all as to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). Even then, we don't have to save an entire nation. The biggest things on the planet are influencing people with the Gospel, the true words of Christ. Even one soul impacted for the Kingdom is the highest work one can accomplish. In Zechariah 4:10 we read,

For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice, and shall see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel. "These seven are the eyes of the LORD, which range through the whole earth."

What does that verse mean? John MacArthur comments,
In that case, the re-building of a temple smaller than the one smaller than Solomon's may have been discouraging to some, (cf Ezra 3:12, Haggai 2:3), The Lord announced that His pleasure was upon this work, and that His omniscient care was watching over and taking pleasure in its completion. He said in effect, don't despise what God is pleased with."
If you're a person with no influence, a small sphere, or seeming insignificance for the Kingdom, you're not. Don't despise the small things. It is the Lord's work and He is pleased with it. To Him, it is big things, especially when He fills them to perfection on His Day of glorification when ALL things come to completion. Use your vocation for Him in any way, large or small, that you can. His eyes range through the whole earth, and He sees you, and loves you and is with you.

This light isn't a mighty lighthouse guiding thousands to port safe from the storm, but its light sure means a lot to the one family trying to get home.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Why does God say 'look to the ant'?

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. 7Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, 8she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. 9How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep?

Matthew Henry Commentary
6:6-11 Diligence in business is every man's wisdom and duty; not so much that he may attain worldly wealth, as that he may not be a burden to others, or a scandal to the church. The ants are more diligent than slothful men. We may learn wisdom from the meanest insects, and be shamed by them. Habits of indolence and indulgence grow upon people. Thus life runs to waste; and poverty, though at first at a distance, gradually draws near, like a traveller; and when it arrives, is like an armed man, too strong to be resisted. All this may be applied to the concerns of our souls. How many love their sleep of sin, and their dreams of worldly happiness! Shall we not seek to awaken such? Shall we not give diligence to secure our own salvation?

The Scripture alphabet of animals
If you look at the sixth verse of the sixth chapter of Proverbs, you will read, "Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise." A sluggard, you know, is a man, or woman, or child, who does not love to read or to do any kind of work, but likes to sleep or be idle all the day long. Do you think you were ever acquainted with one?

Now see what the Bible tells the sluggard to do. It bids him go to the little ant, and "consider her ways," that is, look on and see what she does. Have you ever watched the ants when they were busy at work? It will give you very pleasant employment for half an hour on a summer’s day. In some places you may see small ant-hills scattered about, so close together that you can hardly step without treading on them; and you may find other places where there are not so many, but where the hills are much larger. I have seen them so large that you could hardly step over one of them without touching it with your foot and breaking some part of it. And then how busy the little creatures are! Just kneel down on the grass beside them, and notice how they work! You will see one little fellow creeping along as fast as he can go, with a grain of sand in his mouth, perhaps as large as his head. He does not stop to rest, but when he has carried his grain to help build the hill, away he goes for another. You may watch them all day and never see them idle at all.

You see why God tells the sluggard to go and look at the little ants: it is that when he sees them so busy, he may be ashamed of himself for being idle, and learn to be "wise," or diligent in whatever he undertakes. I should not think he could help going to work, after he had looked at them a little while.

The ants seem to be very happy, and I think it is because they are so busy. God has put nobody in this world to be idle: even children have something to do. The inside of an ant-hill is very curious, but it is not easy to examine it without destroying all the work that the little insects have taken so much pains to finish. There is a kind of ant in warm climates that builds for itself hills as high as a man. They are not made of sand, but of a kind of clay; and have a great many cells or apartments, and many winding passages leading from one part to another. All this is done, as the Bible says, without "guide, overseer or ruler;" that is, they have no one to direct them how to do it. God gives them skill just as he does to the honey-bees in building the beautiful cells which you have so often admired; all His works are wonderful.
Cook, H. N. (1842). The Scripture alphabet of animals. New York: American Tract Society.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Slavery, the Bible, and Prophecy

And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, cargo of gold, silver, jewels, pearls, fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth, all kinds of scented wood, all kinds of articles of ivory, all kinds of articles of costly wood, bronze, iron and marble, cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, oil, fine flour, wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, and slaves, that is, human souls. (Revelation 18:11-13)

This chapter in Revelation depicts the moment in the Great Tribulation that nothing in any part of life, including economics and financial transactions, merchandising, and trade, will even appear to be normal any more. The last bit of the economy will be crushed under the righteous hand of Jesus as He smashes any semblance of business at all.

I'd like to focus on the last part of verse 13. One of the items traded will be slaves, that is, the souls of men. We know the purpose of the Tribulation period will be to finish punishing Israel for her rebelliousness and for her to come to salvation. It is also to pour out wrath upon the unbelieving world, wrath that has been stored up during the Age of Grace. Since sin will be allowed to come to its full expression, the value of human life will proportionally dwindle. Slavery will be rampant. Some believe the verse means that people will be enslaved to a false religion, and in fact they will be. The antichrist's religion will cover the whole world. Others think the slavery reference will be more metaphorical. I believe as Dan Duncan (Pastor of Believers Chapel) does.
Now, that's indicated, I think, in the last commodity on this list: slaves and human lives. It's estimated that the Roman empire had 60 million slaves. And this future revived Roman empire will also have slaves, literally, slaves and human lives or bodies and souls of men. That's probably a reference to the same thing, not two different groups, but one group. Put that way in order to say that slaves have souls, which distinguishes them from the animals that are listed in this list. They are real people, but they are listed after the cattle, and sheep, and horses, suggesting that to the merchants, and the consumers, slaves are just bodies. They're little more than human livestock. This is the world. It is self-indulgent and it is callous. That's the nature of the world in which we live. It's a cruel place. Dan Duncan, Believer's Chapel
Many modern-day thinkers believe that slavery is stamped out. It isn't. We are not modern, and prophecy is true. Slavery exists now, as this recent Bloomberg news link attests

Nearly 46 Million People Trapped in Modern Slavery, Report Finds
The Australia-based rights group on Tuesday released its global slavery index, which tracks the number of people stuck in "situations of exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of threats, violence, coercion, abuse of power or deception." The instances include forced labor in farming, fishing and manufacturing, commercial sex work and forced marriage.
One way to visualize the Tribulation would be to think of  it as a time when the sins that social pressure and governmental laws have suppressed in depraved, unbelieving man are then released to become gleefully visible. Worse than visible, what man increasingly shamelessly hides today will not only be visible, but celebrated (Romans 1:32) but in a thoroughly evil way in the future that would shock us to the core.

Therefore it is no surprise that slavery, one of the world's most persistent and dehumanizing evils, will be a trade that greedy merchants mourn the loss of, as we see in the verse. They will not celebrate that an evil is stamped out, but mourn that the money they get from their dehumanizing, evil practices have ceased.

As deeply as I mourn the coming Tribulation on behalf of the world's people, I am joyfully excited for the coming Rapture. I don't know when it will take place, but the Bible tells us it will be soon. (Revelation 3:11, Revelation 22:7). Since 2000 years have gone by since Jesus' last message to us, then it's sooner than ever! We do not need to fear going through the Tribulation but we do need to have a healthy fear and awe of the One who holds all that wrath in His hand and who will unleash it on the world. The world rejects Jesus but they do not know they are enslaved to their sin. That is the worst slavery of all. He came to set the captives free, but many do not believe they are held captive. Pray for the souls of men, before the time comes when they are enslaved in body AND soul during the worst time on earth that ever was and ever will be. (Matthew 24:21)

Further Reading

Does the Bible support slavery?

Does the Bible condone slavery?

William Wilberforce and slavery

Why is slavery permitted in the Bible?

Why was slavery allowed in the New Testament?

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Beth Moore's "Bus Stop vision" was not from God, here's why

A new video clip of Beth Moore speaking to a group of people, filmed by Trinity Broadcasting, is making the rounds. It is a 5-minute clip excised from her 30-minute broadcast on that TBN schedule. It shows Moore relating a story of a vision she received when she had been in prayer. Since it seems the clip cannot be embedded, I am going to synopsize the anecdote for you and then explain why this vision she has allegedly received from "God" is untrue and a demonic deception.

Beth Moore : Jesus Knows Your Need

She said that as she prayed "as plain as day" God put a picture "in her mind" of a Houston Bus Stop. It was a particular stop that was about 30 minutes from her home. It was definitely not a stop that was close to her home, as she saw it clearly "in her heart". She explained that she "jotted down what she felt like God was saying. He didn't speak to me out loud, I felt it "in my spirit."

What she said she "jotted down" as her "note" was,
"Take money with you, I will show you who to give it to." ~God
Moore can aver all she wants that she isn't hearing "God" audibly, but she wrote down exactly what "God" said, didn't she. The statement from the entity she says is God is in the first person, isn't it. If it's first person command from God, it is authoritative, and it is scripture. God can't be any less authoritative with Moore than He was with Habakkuk when He said to write it down, can He? So Moore "jotted down" a "note" in response to the God of the Universe commanding her in first person. Such a casual response, isn't it.

Back to the vision.

She then went to the ATM to get money for this jaunt, and she said "I believe I know in my heart how much it was supposed to be. Then I go to the mall and run my errands. It's my husband's birthday in a few days."

Let's stop here. We are one minute and five seconds into the description of the vision. There are many contradictions already.

Ever since Moore has been criticized for her alleged visions, she has changed her story to now say that she does not hear God audibly. In this clip within the first 45 seconds she said she received her summons and command from God-

In her mind.
In her heart.
In her spirit.
In a picture.
Intuition. (regarding the $$)

It's never this unclear when God spoke to the Prophets or Apostles, especially within the same vision. We read that "The Lord said..." He speaks to the prophet, the prophet hears it, records the words, or he performs the task. It's not rocket science. Enough with the inaudible, intuitive, mind-spirit-heart pictures already.

Now to my main point. What we also notice in the Bible is that when the Lord says "Arise and go" or "Follow me" they arise and go. Immediately. At once.

When Jesus said "Come, follow Me", to the fishermen disciples … "And at once they left their nets and followed Him". (Mt 4:20). At once.

When Jesus said 'follow me' to Matthew, didn't he jump up from his tax booth and follow Jesus right then? (Mark 2:14).

And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, "Follow me." And he rose and followed him.

And, didn't Jesus say to the man who had errands to do first, "Let the dead bury the dead" and to the other man who wanted to say goodbye to his family, "Anyone who puts the hand to the plow and looks back isn’t worthy"... (Matthew 8:22; Luke 9:62). When the God of the universe says go do something, you do it at once, or you’re not worthy to follow Him.

Yet, let me understand this. According to Beth Moore, "God" said to Beth Moore, 'GO TO THE BUS STOP!' but Beth Moore went shopping first!? You notice she squeezed God into her schedule and went to the mall first since it was on her way. She actually said that. Since this particular mall was out near the Bus Stop she had been divinely commanded to appear at, she would do her errands there. Convenient. Moore bought birthday stuff first, BEFORE heading to the bus stop that God told her to go to.

I can just see her notes she said she "jotted down."

1. Keith’s b-day.
2. Bus stop for God.
3. Get gas.
4. Pick up milk.

If she was truly hearing from God she would have obeyed immediately. Hearing from God elicits a response in the soul that is convicting, immediate, because the command comes from the ultimate authoritative source. The response of the Prophets and Apostles and Disciples who actually heard from God responded immediately. We see that in just the few examples I shared from the Bible, and there are many other examples. Moreover, He said anyone who does errands first is not worthy to follow Him. What He was saying there is that He is the priority at any given moment.

Moore squeezing God into her schedule to make it more convenient for her day is not Christian obedience. She is actually teaching her listeners to diminish God's authority by demonstrating her casual and disdainful response to His command. She is showing her audience how to satisfy the flesh before you obey God. And she is teaching them to deny the sufficiency of scripture by claiming to have heard from "God," and further diminish scripture because she wrote what he "said" in first person. Or had "jotted down" the "note". As my friend said on Facebook as per our conversation about this 'vision', giving the Apostle John in Revelation 1:10 the same kind of response Moore gave,
I was in the Spirit on Patmos when the Lord came to me. I said, "Hold on a minute, I'm making some fish for my wife's birthday dinner."
Sadly, aside from the thousands to tens of thousands or millions who tuned in to her show on TBN and saw it originally, a quarter of a million people have additionally viewed the clip that was posted later. We are truly living in a time of deep biblical illiteracy. You can combat that by reading your Bible and praying for the wisdom from the Spirit to illuminate it to your mind.

Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

The clip is also on GodTube here.

Further Reading

Essay: What does it mean that the Bible is inspired?

Essay: Is God a Bad Communicator?

Sermon: Spiritual Shipwreck of the Word Faith movement

Video clip WWUTT: Visions and Voices from God (Beth Moore, 1:30 min)
"How can we know if what they are hearing or seeing is truly from the Lord? There is a very simple test you can apply. Does their personal revelation agree with the Bible? If the answer is no, they are either making stuff up or the voice they are hearing isn't from God. If the answer is yes, then you don't need their word or vision, it's in the Bible. ..."
Audio clip: When We Understand the Text (WWUTT).
Taking a couple questions from listeners, one is a criticism and another looking for clarification on the WWUTT video featuring Beth Moore. (20 minutes).

Re-post: Adorning His doctrine

First published here in February 2013

We read in the "Pastoral Epistles", Titus and Timothy, what to do that is consistent with sound doctrine. The pastoral epistles are: "those letters written by Paul to Timothy and Titus in the New Testament. So, they are 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus. They are called pastoral because they are letters with instructions for pastors, congregations, and general functions within the church."

We read what people are supposed to do in order to display the highest qualifications for behavior and character.

I want to note the first sentence of Titus 2:1-10,
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
Paul is telling Titus to teach according to sound doctrine. Paul does not particularly outline what the sound doctrine is, at this point because the point of the letter is to encourage Titus to display and hence his flock to display certain behavioral attributes. In displaying these attributes in life, they will be acting consistently with sound doctrine.

In an interesting parallel, Paul gives Timothy a list of behavioral attributes, too. The difference is, Paul's list to Timothy includes behaviors that are contrary to sound doctrine. Here is the list:
Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. (1 Timothy 1:8-11)
Anyone displaying these negative attributes in their behavior are acting against sound doctrine.

The second thing to focus on is the reason we are to behave consistent with the good doctrine we have been taught. It is so that the name of Jesus will not come under reproach. If we behave against sound doctrine, the adversary (satan, that old dragon) will be able to use us to bring reproach upon Jesus' name.

In the unbelieving world, it is very easy to avoid Christians. Their mind is darkened, so they do not see us.
"Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart." (Ephesians 4:17-18)
Two kingdoms are co-existing side by side, locked in a war. The opponents are- satan's army and his unbelievers whom he influences, and Jesus's army and His saved believers. The unbelievers do not really see us but they are aware of our presence. What I mean is, unbelievers as a whole do not think about Christians in their daily lives. It is very easy to have no contact with Christians, be unaware and uncaring about Christian life, and go for long periods of time not hearing or seeing Christian language or behavior. It is like oil and water. As we know, oil and water may occupy the same space in a glass, but they do not mix.

And also as we know, the kingdom of Jesus is not of this earth. (John 18:36). It is in heaven. So how will the unbeliever see the kingdom of God?

When we behave in the sterling way as Paul outlined to Titus, the veil parts. The unbeliever sees the Kingdom. He sees it because the Light is so bright! He cannot avoid seeing the Kingdom that dwells among them because the Light is so bright!
"for behold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you." (Luke 17:21b)
We ARE the kingdom, the veil parts, they see us when we act according to kingdom attributes. How will the unbeliever see the King, unless they see the Kingdom? Jesus is in heaven on His throne, but the kingdom He created is within us for this present age. The unbeliever will see it if we act according to sound doctrine, as Paul urges Titus.

Never let anyone tell you that 'doctrine doesn't matter.' It does. It is not just head knowledge but it expresses itself through behavior that brings the Kingdom forward and lets the blind to see the unreproached name of Jesus.

Paul ended that paragraph by saying that we may adorn the doctrine of Christ the Savior. The word adorn is defined – "properly, to beautify; to adorn, make compellingly attractive, very appealing (inviting, awesomely gorgeous).

We are not gorgeous but Jesus in us is gorgeous! Let us pray for the strength and wisdom to go forward each day so that we may adorn Him, and be compellingly attractive in the eyes of those who are living in such darkness. We have been told how to act, and how not to act.

In 1415, Henry V was severely outnumbered as they prepared for battle at Agincourt. This battle was dramatised by William Shakespeare in the play Henry V featuring the St. Crispin's Day Speech in which Henry inspired his much outnumbered English forces to fight the French. It was a stirring moment in the film adaptation when actor Kenneth Branagh gave the speech. It was the speech when the King said, once more into the breach, dear friends. I was inspired to jump up and fight against the opposing forces! It was unusual for a king to call his army men 'friends.'

Our King has given us a stirring speech, too. It is the bible. His doctrine is the inspiration for us to leap up and go into battle. But our battle is not in flesh and blood nor with swords. Our battle is through our behavior and our words, and the love we carry for our King, a remarkable eternal king who calls US His friends. Would you fight for Him in truth and kindness and gentleness so that we may adorn Him?

Kay Cude poetry: The Character of Sin

Click to enlarge. Published with permission
Artist's Statement:
I was compelled to say something that spoke encouragement for "the saved to continue on," even while recognizing and knowing the true character of sin, the taste and its aroma. Our efforts to reach the lost becomes harder each day; the news-media ridicules Christ's redeemed, and with deceptive words, demands we not speak Gospel Truth. But we must "continue on." I must keep fresh in my mind that previous centuries of the lost hated Christ, and that this present century of the lost will hate us (even as we the "saved" seek their rescue).

Monday, July 25, 2016

Left Behind author Tim LaHaye, passes away

Christianity Today reports today that sadly,
Tim LaHaye, the best-selling author best known for the Left Behind series, "graduated to heaven" early this morning after suffering a stroke at age 90. His family announced the news of his passing at a San Diego hospital on his ministry Facebook page.
In my early days of Christianity, I read most of the Left Behind series. A lot of people did. Here is an article about the series from earlier in July, before Dr LaHaye's passing.

End times author breaks down prophecy and fiction
A popular author who helped invigorate pop culture interest in Christian eschatology with the release of the first book in the "Left Behind" series 21 years ago is surprised by the novel's monumental impact. ... Years later, it not only continues to fly off bookshelves, it has been the impetus for at least four apocalyptic-themed Hollywood films.
It's hard to imagine it's been 21 years, even though I was not a Christian for 10 of those. The series referred to is a series of fiction books written from the point of view of non-believers living through the rapture, the rise of the antichrist, and the Tribulation. Though in the books, most of the main characters convert to Christianity subsequent to the Rapture. The books' backdrop is Christian apocalyptic, unlike most of today's apocalyptic books, TV shows, movies, and video games which present an apocalypse from a secular point of view. The "Left Behind" books present the real apocalypse, though sanitized and fictionalized.

The series contains 10 books written by Jerry Jenkins and Tim LaHaye, which seek to illustrate according to the Bible, what the period known as the Tribulation (wrath of God) will be like. The authors novelized the Rapture and the subsequent Tribulation period and brings to life the reality of this overlooked and maligned section of eschatology, or 'last things'.

I was and still am intrigued by the Rapture, the time when Jesus comes back in the air to snatch up all His believers from all parts of the globe, to take us to the New Jerusalem which is in heaven for the duration of the Tribulation. I'm fascinated by it and look forward to it eagerly. I hope I'm alive when it happens but if I'm dead, by no means will the living precede me. (1 Thessalonians 4:15). We believers will encounter various things in heaven while the 7-year Tribulation plays out on earth, such as giving an account to Jesus and our works either burned up or turned to gold and silver.  (1 Corinthians 3:9-15). Then Jesus and His saints return to earth for His Second Coming, Jesus kills the last non-believers, (many of whom will be gathered at Armageddon), rescues Israel who is by now redeemed, and establishes his kingdom on earth which will last for 1000 years.

One thing I am grateful for is that the Left Behind series brought prophecy (last things, eschatology) to the forefront of Christianity. The series ignited interest in prophecy. Prophecy had been marginalized and dismissed as an unworthy sphere of Christian study and sadly, for a generation or two, pastors in seminaries were not taught it. This means that throughout the 70s and 80s and 90s many pastors in turn did not teach their sheep about last things, and generations of believers grew up not knowing about the most important topic in the Bible- Jesus' return. His return is something Jesus spoke of more than any other. The longest discourse Jesus gave was about His return. (Matthew 24:1 – 25:46).

There is criticism of the Left Behind series. I looked into the criticism and it seems to be stemming from various quarters and for various reasons which I'll enumerate:

Catholics and Orthodox: they do not like the book because they do not believe in the Rapture. They believe they (and not Protestants) will be gathered to Jesus when He returns at the Second Coming. There is no rapture, no two stage return. However, they don't believe in the Jesus of the Bible either, so we can ignore their criticisms.

Postmillennialists: These are people who adhere to a segment of eschatology that believes the Second Coming WON'T happen before the establishment of the 1000 year kingdom (Revelation 20). The Left Behind authors hold to the Premillenial belief believe that Jesus will literally return to the earth before (pre) the millennium begins, because He is the One who sets up the kingdom. Because Jesus will return before the kingdom is established, we can dispense with the postmills' criticisms. Post-rapture and no-rapture crowds have the same criticisms.

Eschatology-dissers: This is a term I made up just now, lol. But it's based loosely on the concepts presented in the linked heading, which is the verse from 2 Peter 3:3 about the mockers and scoffers. What they are mocking and scoffing at specifically is prophecy of the Second Coming. The "dissers" I mention are a segment of theologians who condescend about all things last things. They believe it isn't a worthy area of study. Some of that negativity surrounding prophecies have merit, and we’ve done that to ourselves. Decades of date-setters and false prophets claiming to have received personally delivered divine insights which fail time after time, as a result have jaded people and brought disrepute onto God’s glorious prophecies. Some of the criticism is that the Left Behind series "date-sets", which it does not. The authors never set dates, they just novelize what the Bible says about what will happen in the future.

Others claim the authors engaged in "newspaper exegesis" which is to look at prophecy through current news and claim to have insights as to near term fulfillments. The authors never did that either. So we can ignore criticism of the series based on eschatology dissing, date-setting, and newspaper exegesis.

There are three things Paul consistently warned us not to be ignorant about:

1. Spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1)
2. Satans’ schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11)
3. Last things (1 Thessalonians 4:13)

And what are three things that are giving the true Christians of the faith most trouble to defend right now? Those exact three.

With LaHaye's passing, interest might again be aroused in the series of books. So if you are interested in the series, I have 3 caveats about it I'd share with you. First, I read the series when I was a babe in Christ. I didn't detect any wrong theology at that time. But then again if I re-read the series now, I might.  As always, be careful about fictionalized Christianity. It is true that eschatology especially seems to attract a weird crowd in these days since Left Behind opened the door.

Second, the Tribulation will be the most horrific time that will ever occur on the earth, and that is a promise from Jesus Himself from Matthew 24:21. It will be hell on earth, untold and unimaginable horrors, as God lets sin overtake the earth FULLY. However I found the books to be quite sanitized. If the authors sought to being terror to the heart in relating what it will be like to endure God’s wrath, they failed. They made it seem more like an adventure than a horror. More like an inconvenience than a monstrosity.

However, I acknowledge that the real horrors of the Tribulation really cannot be told. If they did, they'd be violently pornographic, so I understand the restraint to which the authors limited themselves. But just be aware that the Tribulation won’t really be like it is depicted in the books. It will be a gazillion times worse.

Third, please note that Tim LaHaye is an avowed anti-Calvinist. I don't know if he was one before he wrote the books or became so anti-Calvinistic later. Calvinism is biblical, so its something to be aware of in the books. I can't remember if there is a rejection of the Doctrines of Grace in the books or if there was an over-emphasis on free will. His anti-Calvinist stance might permeate the book to a great or a subtle degree. I don't know, but be aware.

In the long run, I find the Bible the most helpful on understanding "last things" like the Rapture and Tribulation and Second Coming. Novelizations just can't do the topic justice, so why dabble in it when the Bible is available? However, I understand wanting to be entertained in a clean, Christian way. My statement is one of opinion, and is not prescriptive in any way.

I don't think the Left Behind books will do a reader devastating harm, but not a lot of good either. They WILL instill in you a picture of the Tribulation that just doesn't measure up to how it will really be. Which is kind of harmful in itself, though no one can rightly picture what an earth full of sin & God's anger will be like, completely.

If you want to read a quality, solid book on the Tribulation that will make your heart stop in fear (because it’s biblical, not because it’s sensationalized) read John MacArthur’s "Because The Time is Near" a quick explanation of the book of Revelation. Your heart will be in your throat and you’ll want to go out and witness to everyone you see, which is what prophecy is supposed to make us do, because, ‘the time is near’.

In the end, I AM grateful for LaHaye's (and Jenkins') work on the Left Behind series. If there are any terrible doctrinal issues with the books, let me know. Meanwhile, we mourn the passing of another soldier, and celebrate that fact that hopefully he is in fact safe and loved in heaven, his long years of labor suspended for a period of rest and refreshment at the Lord's abode.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Discerning of Spirits: What it is and why it's important to your local church body, and the church-at-large

The level of doctrinal Christian error and demonic activity in this present world is staggering. The spiritual war is cosmic and invisible. (Ephesians 6:12). But recently someone followed my blog on Wordpress. In doing my diligence I perused her blog to see what they were about. What I found absolutely horrified me before the Lord, as much as it worried me for the woman's soul.

The tagline to her blog is -
The writing of the Holy Bible continues, published by G.ROY. God dictated unto me the words coming out of His mouth through the use of his prophets and I wrote them out in this blog (web log of God) for the instruction of us whom ends of the world are come. Sometimes some highlights are thrown in to help people understand the context by which the prophecy was worded out. I am not deciding what is to be written and called a prophecy. God speaks, I write word for word what was said!
Immediately one praises the Lord for His patience in not doing to this writer as He did to Ananias & Sapphira, (Acts 5:1-11) or Uzzah (2 Samuel 6:7) for profaning His holiness. The unmitigated pride and deep demonic delusion evident in that blog's About section is stunning. And yet there's more.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Sheep: from The Scripture alphabet of animals

I suppose you think you already know as much about sheep and lambs as I can tell you, and perhaps you do. Yet I dare say you never took up your Bible to see how many times they are mentioned there, or how many beautiful things are said about them. 
Abel, who, as you know, was the third man that lived on the earth, was a "keeper of sheep;" and there have always been a great many shepherds in the world from that time to this. Some of the men who lived in old times had a great many sheep. Job had seven thousand, which God allowed to be taken from him; but afterwards gave him twice as many-fourteen thousand. At the time when Solomon’s beautiful temple was dedicated to God, he offered a sacrifice of a hundred and twenty thousand sheep. 
If you want to know how many that is, try to think of a pasture with a hundred sheep in it-then think of a hundred pastures, just like it, with just as many sheep in each-then think of those hundred pastures taken twelve times over, and you will begin to understand how many there were. It is not common with us to have persons whose whole business it is to take care of sheep, but that was always the way in Bible countries. 
This was not done by servants, at least not always; for a great many rich men employed their children as shepherds. Rachel, who was afterwards the wife of Jacob, "kept her father’s sheep"-so did Jacob’s twelve sons-so did Moses for his father-in-law. 
Cook, H. N. (1842). The Scripture alphabet of animals. New York: American Tract Society.

Kay Cude: The Light of Our Salvation

Click to enlarge. Kay Cude: published with permission
Artist's statement:
For me, the lone tree speaks of God's wonderful handiwork, not only representing His gift of nature, but brings to mind that His redeemed are not alone, but safely tucked within His Might eternally. And as the brilliance of the sun pierces boldly through the dark-ending of the storm, one thought leads me to another -- remembrance of Christ's death and resurrection. Then speaks to His beloved redeemed: the "things" of this world are now more clearly seen through the light of His Salvation! We must daily pause to remember...

Friday, July 22, 2016

Stalking horse religion

For if it be unlawful to follow Christ for loaves, (as it is in the sixth of John), how much more abominable is it to make of him and religion a stalking-horse to get and enjoy the world! Nor do we find any other than heathens, hypocrites, devils, and witches, that are of this opinion.
The above quote is from Pilgrim's Progress. The main character named Christian is discussing the motives behind following Christ. We do not follow Him for loaves, as Christian says. Put another way, we don't follow Christ for what we can get out of Him to satisfy our fleshly desires.

Christian goes on to give three examples of those who DID pretend to follow Christ but really were in it to get what they could.
The hypocritical Pharisees were also of this religion; long prayers were their pretence, but to get widows' houses was their intent; and greater damnation was from God their judgment. [Luke 20:46-47] 
Judas the devil was also of this religion; he was religious for the bag, that he might be possessed of what was therein; but he was lost, cast away, and the very son of perdition. 
Simon the witch was of this religion too; for he would have had the Holy Ghost, that he might have got money therewith; and his sentence from Peter's mouth was according. [Acts 8:19-22] 
Christian in Pilgrim's Progress mentioned a "stalking horse." I had to look that one up. According to Wikipedia-
The term stalking horse originally derived from the practice of hunting, particularly of wildfowl. Hunters noticed that many birds would flee immediately on the approach of humans, but would tolerate the close presence of animals such as horses and cattle. Hunters would therefore slowly approach their quarry by walking alongside their horses, keeping their upper bodies out of sight until the flock was within firing range. Animals trained for this purpose were called stalking horses.
I like a mental visual as I learn about the Bible's truths. This was a useful metal image to me. To be even more literal, here is an illustration of a stalking horse with its hunter behind it, using the horse as a moving blind.

The horse is the shield, concealing the hunter's true motives. And that is what false teachers do, they use religion as a shield until the moment they pull the trigger and by then his motives are too late for the stalked prey. The Christian is the prey.

It is often hard for Christians to understand that false teachers who teach under the cloak of Jesus' name or a sham religion, however sincerely presented, are stalking you. Many times I receive the comment that the false teacher is just making a temporary mistake, or is a little off on one point of doctrine but solid on the rest.

Sisters, there are only two kinds of people, Christians and pagans. Teachers who teach falsely for long periods of time who refuse to recant, repent, or correct, are pagans. The only thing they are sincere about is that they are sincerely and truly stalking you, out for your harm and not your good. If they are of satan, we know the thief comes to kill, steal and destroy. (John 10:10). Therefore a false teacher comes to kill, steal, and destroy.

Many people get this far in an essay and mentally they are saying, yes, yes, of course. But when it comes to applying this truth to a known name, their mind balks. Beth Moore, intentionally out to harm me, using pretense and false religion as a stalking horse? Ann Voskamp? Lysa TerKeurst? Jennie Allen? Joanna Gaines? Destructive and harmful? But they're so nice! So engaging! So successful! However, the Bible helps us here too. We are told the false ones come with smooth talk and flatteries. Just because they destroy nicely doesn't mean they aren't destructive.

For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. (Romans 16:18)

Who is Paul speaking of? "Those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught;" (Romans 16:17). Paul says flatly to avoid them.

You've heard the term snake oil salesmen, who are defined as a "someone who knowingly sells fraudulent goods or who is themselves a fraud, quack, or charlatan." False teachers are the same, they know what they are doing. It's not a mistake. Their consciences are so seared that they don't care. Sisters, don't be distracted by the horse. Look at the gun.


Additional Resources

Is She a False Teacher? 7 Steps to Figuring it Out on Your Own

What is Biblical Discernment and Why is it Important?

Discernment Video Bites: Heaven Tourism, Revelation v. Illumination, Jesus Calling, more

There are three videos recently released, in which Pastor Justin Peters speaks on various discernment topics. Known for his lessons on discerning the Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel movement, through leading conferences and producing DVDs, such as a recent one titled "Clouds Without Water," in these short but in-depth video bites Mr Peters discusses-
  • Heaven Tourism,
  • The inherent dangers of Jesus Calling,
  • The difference between Revelation and Illumination,
  • The responsibility of the Christian Bookstore (yet to be released).

The sin struggle of summer

I work in education and that means summers off! Mind, my salary covers employment for 190 days, so I'm not paid for the days off summers off, but at this point of my life I'm happier to have the time.

I had 9 weeks off, all in a row. Sixty-four days from May 27 to August 1, I've had a blissful time here in what I call The Hermitage. It's so dubbed because I like to spend copious amounts of time indoors in my small apartment. Alone. Never lonely.

Like everyone else, during the seasons when I'm working, there are always lots of other things I'd like to do, but the fact that I'm committed elsewhere for 9 hours a day (longer if I work AfterSchool Program) means I don't have time to do all that I want. I like to read, study, surf the web, watch movies, write, and do crafts. Erm, I can't squeeze all that into a day that is also dedicated to doing my best job at school. Add errands and cleaning to that, and like everyone else, time is short.

But the moment the teachers and parapros sing goodbye and wave off the last bus, and the principal dismisses the staff, to the moment the first pre-planning session, huge quantities of unbroken day upon day lay stretched out before me.

I always start off the summer with a schedule and a commitment to stick to it. First off, daily Bible reading, prayer, study, writing the blog and theological reading for several hours. After that, a bit of cooking and in the afternoon, doing something productive for the Kingdom. I have several projects going and some ladies I disciple. Then the evening, a movie or a TV show.

And that is what I do, for the first few weeks.

Inevitably, my guard relaxes and my schedule slides. I spend more time watching TV than in reading the Bible. That goes on for a little while then I pull myself up again and get back to it. Rinse. Repeat. I say "inevitably" because my sin nature wants what it wants and not what Jesus wants.

The sinful tendency to want to indulge the flesh and not the spirit remains a constant battle all summer. Yet unless one doesn't work at all, or perhaps freelances with time in between jobs, this job as an educator is one which affords an unusual amount of time. I love to use it for the Kingdom, it's what He gave me this life for, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. As an unmarried woman with no children, what else would I be doing with the time? And still, I don't use every minute for Jesus and by the end of summer sometimes I don't use an entire day for Jesus.

And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. (1 Corinthians 7:34)

It got me thinking about the other place where there is long unbroken periods of time stretching out where one can work for the Kingdom. Heaven. What bliss it will be to be able to work for Jesus without a sin nature! I won't disappoint myself and even more important, I won't be disappointing Jesus. I won't have to spend mental and emotional time reining in my sin nature. I will be able to work for Him in joy and perfection, using every moment for Him, fully. My mind will have been expanded so that it can give its full attention to whatever task Jesus has set before me. Best of all, there will be "time" to do it all. No man-made, artificial constraints will compete with what we will joyfully set out to accomplish for our sovereign King.

There are so many joys to look forward to in heaven. This is one of them: eternal, perfect, joyful work for Jesus. Now, back to my schedule I'd planned for today.

Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. (Proverbs 6:6)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Jesus Calling and The Battle for Sola Scriptura

The Protestant Reformation began almost 500 years ago (in 1517) after Martin Luther posted his "95 Theses," which proposed two central beliefs—that the Bible is the central religious authority - (not the Catholic Church) - and that humans may reach salvation only by their faith and not by their works. By the Middle Ages, the Roman Catholic Church had been teaching that one could attain salvation by one's own meritorious works that they alone were the authority, and darkness had settled over the land. Luther's act sparked the Reformation. To this day the Catholic Church maintains that sola scriptura is a "blueprint for anarchy".

Those two central tenets posted by Martin Luther were later expanded to become known as the Five Solas, as Theopedia explains here
The Five Solas are five Latin phrases (or slogans) that emerged from the Protestant Reformation intended to summarize the Reformers' basic theological principles in contrast to certain teachings of the Roman Catholic Church of the day. "Sola" is Latin meaning "alone" or "only" and the corresponding phrases are:

Sola Fide, by faith alone.
Sola Scriptura, by Scripture alone.
Solus Christus, through Christ alone.
Sola Gratia, by grace alone.
Soli Deo Gloria, glory to God alone.
Sola Scriptura is the tenet I'm looking at today. Theopedia explains sola scriptura further-
The inerrant Scripture (the Bible) is the sole source of written divine revelation, which alone can bind the conscience. The Bible alone teaches all that is necessary for our salvation from sin and is the standard by which all Christian behavior must be measured. It is denied that any creed, council or individual may bind a Christian's conscience, that the Holy Spirit speaks independently of or contrary to what is set forth in the Bible, or that personal spiritual experience can ever be a vehicle of revelation.
And here we have the point. Currently, Scripture alone is the sole point of intersection of God's personal revelation of Himself to man. (Hebrews 1:1-2). 'Personal experience can never be a vehicle of revelation.' Never ever.

And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, (2 Peter 1:19).

Satan battles the above five points at every turn. The battle for sola scriptura has been extremely pitched in our era. Book after book published from Christian publishers purport to show how to commune with God by doing certain things that will enhance one's antenna for receiving His personal revelation. People claim visits from Jesus and visits to Jesus in heaven. They claim to have heard Him speak to them and have received personally tailored career advice or new theological commands or projects to engage in (Joanna Gaines of the HGTV show "Fixer Upper" and Beth Moore, are two examples). Book after book emerge from someone claiming to have had a heavenly visit and personal tour of heaven (or hell). Claiming a personal divine word is the new mantra.

Last year's Shepherd's Conference at Grace Community Church was titled the "Inerrancy Summit" and worked to teach attendee pastors the importance of defending truth against all those who seek to undermine the authority of scripture. John MacArthur opened the Summit by listing four reasons why such a summit is needed, one of which is that Scripture is authoritative and pastors and teachers are called to declare it. In his speech, MacArthur gave a quick overview of the progress of the undermining of scripture in our era-
In the 1960s and ‘70s, experientialism began to infiltrate the mainline denominations. This movement tempted the church to define truth on the basis of emotional experience. Biblical interpretation was no longer based on the clear teaching of the text; but rather upon feelings and subjective, unverifiable experiences, such as supposed revelations, visions, prophecies, and intuition. 
The Third Wave movement of the 1980s continued the growth of mysticism within the church, convincing people to look for signs and wonders and to listen for paranormal words from God rather than seeking out truth in the written Word of God. 
The New Apostolic Reformation [NAR] is the latest in these kinds of movements.
FMI on NAR, go here or here

One attack on Sola Scriptura that has persisted for 12 years and is now its own cottage industry, is the book Jesus CallingJesus Calling is a book written by Sarah Young. Ms Young was restless with the Bible and wanted more. She actively sought out hearing from God and these supposed divine utterings were captured by her pen and made into a book. In the book, Ms Young puts the utterings from a "Jesus" into first person.

Being dissatisfied with the complete revelation of God to man in His word is attack #1 on sola scriptura. And there are soldiers who continue to stand on this important point, such as Justin Peters. Here is a short video speaking about the importance of sola scriptura and warning to avoid the Jesus Calling book.

Jesus Calling: The Battle for Sola Scriptura
"Where the battle is really being fought today is over whether or not God's word is sufficient, and evangelicals are losing that battle." ~Justin Peters

If you read, listen to, or follow any teacher who professes Jesus and yet also claims to have personally heard from God or uses personal revelations of teachings they say they've received from God, avoid them. What they are doing is undermining the sufficiency of scripture. The Bible says,

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (2 Timothy 3:16)

The Bible does not say, All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, plus what I told Beth Moore last week and including what I mentioned to Sarah Young and...

For everything that was written in the past was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures, we might have hope. (Romans 15:4)

It is through the scriptures that we gain our instruction and have hope. Scripture alone.


Further Reading-

Theopedia: Sola Scriptura

Shepherds Conference Inerrancy Summit: all the sermons

Ligonier: What does Sola Scriptura mean?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Iron sharpens iron

Iron sharpens iron; so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend. (Proverbs 27:17)

Do you feel things are going faster and faster? The news that is coming at us is ever more forceful in its depravity? I do. I feel like a guy stuck in a snowball that is gathering speed as it rolls down the hill. Are you using one eye for looking out (for your fellow man) and the other eye for looking up (for our redemption draweth nigh)?

The times are getting harder now, financially, emotionally, physically (tough winters & summers everywhere). Let us remember to share our faith with unbelievers but also encourage each other. Now is the time to let grudges go, to refrain from being annoyed by small things. Put personal differences aside and "build each other up" as we face increasing iniquity that disheartens and depresses, as the news may indeed do. One way to accomplish this is to do what the Proverb says.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Since He is coming again, what kind of people should we be?

I used to teach kids at church on Wednesday nights. I love their conversations and their thoughts and their joy. One night they were asking about Jesus and heaven. They got so excited when they figured out that their Christian friends will be in heaven too. They practically jumped out of their seats when they made the connection that they will actually see Jesus and hang out with Him. They started making plans, clapping their hands ... Ironically, the verse being taught that night was of Mark 10:13-16, "suffer the little children to come unto Me, do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of God belongs to such as these." Boy, does it ever. Let US be excited, innocent, planning, expectant, too. Are we? We should be!

I love that photo of the cross lifted up and the verses referring the Jesus who is lifted up. It's a comfort to know He is in the Holy Place. It's also a comfort to know He is returning to catch up His Bride into heaven. He will lift us to His abode and we will never be troubled by sin again. Best of all, we will be with Jesus.
John MacArthur said: You don't know how long you're going to live or when Christ will return. That demands a different approach to life.Living in Anticipation of Christ's Return Part 1
Since He is coming again, what kind of people should we be? Peter asked the question in the second epistle, chapter 3, where he is explaining the last things.

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Peter 3:11-14)

It's not an esoteric, or abstract, or irrelevant question. The sermon linked above will help us learn from the Bible how to live in anticipation of His coming. The children I mentioned in the beginning knew how to live in anticipation of a living and present Jesus in their lives. Let us do the same. Let us be as children, who have no power, are meek, teachable, excited, trusting, and above all, loving Christ simply and beautifully.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Spiritual Warfare: What is it?

Source: Pixabay
Many people are confused about what spiritual warfare is.

Is it marching around a neighborhood hollering at satan to get away?

Is it hands-on involvement in demon-deliverance activities?

Is it "claiming dominion" over dreams?

It's none of those things.

The Bible shows us and tells us what spiritual warfare is.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Together 2016, know-nothing Millennials, and conceit

The following are actual, direct quotes from the people in the millennial generation, and those who mentor them. I gathered these quotes because I notice how often the millennials and those who mentor them, speak of "this generation."
"We’re just bringing this single message: that God is offering a reset to this generation," Nick Hall & Reset Movement. 
"Called to disciple a generation," Jennie Allen, founder, IF:Gathering 
"Helping women internalize a leadership identity" Christine Caine, PropelWomen 
"Abolish injustice in 21st century". Christine Caine, A21 campaign’s goal. 
"To gather, equip, and unleash the next generation of women to live out their purpose", IF:Gathering 
"This generation is a generation of risk takers." Bill Johnson, Charismatic Christian revivalist, itinerant speaker, author, and a Senior Pastor of Bethel Church in Redding, California. 
"There’s a whole Esther Generation rising right here and now and it is us!" Ann Voskamp & Amena Brown Owen. 
"The Lord is bringing forth His rising remnant as the Joshua Generation," Rob Winters, co-founder of an itinerant prophetic ministry based in Phoenix. 
"Our Mandate- Mobilizing a generation of revivalists who shape culture and transform nations." Kim Walker-Smith, Jesus Culture. 
"Americans and Venezuelans can be united in one song…so we accelerate the revival in our generation." Singer Christine D’Clario
Wait...Joshua generation? I thought it was the Esther Generation. Maybe it's the Esther generation for girls and the Joshua generation for boys. I'm anxious to see when they will call themselves the Eve generation or the Adam generation. We do know there is a Jezebel generation. Jesus said so in Revelation 2:20-23. The boundless confidence these people have to self-identify an entire generation with Biblical heroes and heroines and their conceited call to grandiose action is hubris beyond compare.

Look at one example: Christine Caine's A21 goal, to "Abolish injustice in 21st century". Isn't that what Jesus promised to do when He returns? (Isaiah 9:7, Ecclesiastes 3:17, 2 Thessalonians 1:6). Statements like those are why I say these millennials and mentors of millennials believe they are puffed-up saviors and not humble disciples.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. (Philippians 2:3)

The millennial generation speaking these things and following its leaders, don't know anything. They not only don't know biblical truth, they don't want to know.

Of course I don't speak for every single person in that generation, but the bulk of them. There are so many. So very many. See how many filled the Mall at Together 2016, the most recent foremost apostate event to occur which draws these undiscerning, self-styled go-getters:

Many at Together 2016. They follow a false Christ. Above, Nick Hall, organizer.
source- The Gospel Herald
There was a song 50 years ago by The Rascals called "How Can I Be Sure" which sang the refrain "I really, really, really want to know." Phil Johnson opened his sermon titled "A Certain Uncertainty" by referring to that song and comparing that generation to today's.
One of the major differences between now and then is that the Millennial Generation doesn't really, really want to know...anything. The majority of people today like to react to things with great passion. They love slogans and hashtags, and all the symbols of deep conviction, but they really don't believe anything in the classic sense of belief. You know, with firm conviction and bold confidence. They don't know and they don't believe it's possible to know absolute truth with any kind of settled certainty.
Rejecting and thus lacking the all-important bedrock belief in the doctrines that form our faith, the millennial generation clings instead to an amorphous notion of a wimpy Jesus who provides "a better life". Of course, anyone who dares to define exactly what that ''better life" consists of is deemed as hopelessly arrogant as the ones who declare biblical truth with certainty. But this kind of Jesus they have created is comfortable because now they can now run off in all directions as duly commissioned disciples "helping" Jesus bring that better life to the masses. We're shaping nations! We're changing cultures! We're abolishing injustice! Having lost the Gospel focus, and because a vacuum must be filled, it's now the activity in solving social ills that becomes the absolute certainty, not the Gospel.

They're also absolutely certain that they are the one and only generation to do it.

Have you ever thought about how conceited that is?

But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow wickedness, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:8)

Though they eschew biblical certainty, it's certainty that drives them. They promote the positive and certain notion that they are the generation that will sweep in and solve everything, by resolving age-old social ills. They claim they are the ones slated to be the generation that shapes cultures, accelerates revival, and transforms cultures. Not to mention resolving injustice along the way. They promise that God has big plans for them. They promise revival and peace.

They are wrong.

The former, however, preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing they can add to the distress of my chains. (Philippians 1:17)

Big plans, revival, and justice is not what Jesus promised, to 'this generation' or any other. For those who truly seek Him, they are called to self-deny, slay sin, persevere in faith. This generation, and every generation, is promised not revival, but apostasy, persecution, and trouble. Far from the lofty promises of the Millennials like Nick Hall, this generation and every generation is called to slog through every day life pursuing holiness and witnessing of Jesus.

It's nice that people like Christine Caine and Nick Hall and Jennie Allen feel they are a cut above with their sweeping call from a christ (not THE Christ). I, however, feel lucky to make it through each day simply not tarnishing my witness, dishonoring my elders, or disobeying my leaders.

Nick Hall on organizing Together 2016. Source.
Personally, I pray for souls to be saved for all eternity.
One thing that reading old missionary stories reveals is just how much of an eternal perspective they had. You see this originally among the Bible's apostles and pastors. Their work was for disciples of ALL generations, just look at the mandates for all ages in congregations in the New Testament that cross generational lines. But if you listen to these Millennials and those who mentor them, one would think the entirety of Christendom is filled solely with hip young people and no one else.

In this 5-minute Youtube video you see Nick Hall explaining his reason for founding the Together 2016 event held this past weekend at the National Mall in Washington DC. He also founded the "Reset" movement. It was a religious event (not a Christian event) that promoted unity among "this generation", a coalescing of denominations (which include Roman Catholics), and the certainty that God was going to make a big move at the event.

Perhaps as to that last one, Hall was right. Extreme heat shut it down. Thank you God.

Hall speaks of "this generation" three times in 15 seconds at the beginning of his speech. He says he wanted a generation-defining moment. He wanted to organize an event that would define a generation. A monumental effort to which all the nations would look.

Still from video of Nick Hall explaining his goals for Together 2016.
To really understand the grossness and puffed up ignorance of people like this and movements like this, compare what they say their goals are to Jesus and the apostles. Try to picture one of them saying what  people like Hall say. Did Paul ever tell young Timothy he was called out to define a generation? Did Peter ever tell young Mark to disciple a generation? Did John ever tell any of his disciples that they were going to change the culture? If the incarnated Jesus didn't transform the culture while He was at His zenith of popularity, what makes people like Nick Hall, Ann Voskamp, Christine Caine, Jennie Allen and the rest think they will do it?

The problem comes from their lack of settled conviction. More to the point, they don't know the Bible and they don't want to know it. This means they don't want to know Jesus. They reject Him outright. Really, you say? Really. They really, really don't want to know. Here's a recent statement from Ann Voskamp that the Together2016 campaign tweeted out after they'd received her commitment to attend the event.

Saying she doesn't need an explanation from God is saying we don't need the Bible. The Bible IS the explanation from God of who He is and Why He sent His Son. (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The explanation of God is His Son, His inspired Word. Well, this past weekend at Together 2016 Voskamp and the others received their "experience". They experienced heat, apostasy, mutual ignorance. They experienced a hardening of their reprobate minds into worshiping the creature rather than the Creator. They experienced mutual admiration and temporal promises. They experienced a false unity and a damning conviction.

It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:15)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Rapturous thoughts

All the events of this month have certainly given many people pause for thought. This man, a policeman in the Midwest, said the following on Twitter the night of the attempted coup in Turkey, which was the day after the terrorist attack in Nice, France-

The following were my own thoughts on the matter:

The true church will be raptured, and then Jesus will unleash His anger on the earth. This time is known as the Tribulation, though the actual name in the Bible is called The Time of Jacob's Trouble.(Jeremiah 30:7). This name refers to the fact that the Lord's anger is aimed at Israel, they will be punished for their rejection of Him. Unbelievers will not be unscathed either. Jesus will unleash His anger on them too. The whole world will see His glory in wrath, His punishment for sin. Believers, the true Church, will not. We will be safe in heaven.

Speaking of heaven, we read this: (Revelation 11:15-19).

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign forever and ever.” And the twenty-four elders who sit on their thrones before God fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying,

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty,
who is and who was,
for you have taken your great power
and begun to reign.
The nations raged,
but your wrath came,
and the time for the dead to be judged,
and for rewarding your servants, the prophets and saints,
and those who fear your name,
both small and great,
and for destroying the destroyers of the earth.

"Then God’s temple in heaven was opened, and the ark of his covenant was seen within his temple.

What these elders are saying is that from that moment the Lord is soon going to return to earth to set up His millennial kingdom on earth. Revelation 11 marks a turning point in the Time of Jacob's Trouble in that it sets in motion the final Tribulation events. The elders are praising the Lord for his sovereignty, omnipotence, and power.

You know, we are going to see this. We will be there, in heaven, when the Lord on His throne begins to take back the earth. These verses are not merely to be read, or even better to be studied. They are in the Bible to remind us also that these are verses we're going to LIVE.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Release from the 'Tyranny of the Clock'

Missionary to Vanuatu in the late 1800s, John G. Paton, writing about the death of one of his first native converts in his book Thirty Years Among the South Sea Cannibals, said:
"While staying at Aneityum, I learned with as deep emotion as man ever felt for man, that noble old Abraham, the sharer of my Tannese trials, had during the interval peacefully fallen asleep in Jesus. He left for me his silver watch one which I had myself sent to the dear soul from Sydney, and which he greatly prized. In his dying hour he said, "Give it to Missi, my own Missi Paton; and tell him that I go to Jesus, where Time is dead."
That converted cannibal had a real and profound grasp of his position in Christ. I have read many times that in heaven sin will be dead, tears will be dead, sorrow will be dead, but I never read anything put quite like that. In heaven, time is dead.

Graphics Fairy

What will it be like when we are never running late? When the good labors we perform stretch endlessly ahead in joy and interest but not in constriction of artificial hours or days? When we don't have birthdays or appointments? When there is no catching up, falling behind, or getting ahead? Instead, all our tasks and meetings simply unfold perfectly and in a pace that is like the very river of life streaming from the Fount- constant and perfect?

God instituted seasonal time, and He instituted day and night. (Psalm 104:19, Genesis 1:14). He did this for the benefit of man, certainly not because God needed to mark time. He dwells in eternity where it is all time at once. The clock measures time precisely, in specific increments, and this mechanism more than any other has subdued man. The clock at once has inhibited man in his actions and catalyzed man in his actions. I'm late! I'm early! I'm behind! I'm on time- give me a gold star!

The clock segments the teacher's day. It regulates the inmate's day. It formulates the train conductor's, the pilot's, the bus driver's day. The clock convicts the chronic tardiness of the employee. The clock dares. The clock monotonizes.

Anarchist George Woodcock wrote in The Tyranny of the Clock,
Socially the clock had a more radical influence than any other machine, in that it was the means by which the regularisation and regimentation of life necessary for an exploiting system of industry could best be attained. The clock provided the means by which time - a category so elusive that no philosophy has yet determined its nature - could be measured concretely in more tangible forms of space provided by the circumference of a clock dial. Time as duration became disregarded, and men began to talk and think always of 'lengths' of time, just as if they were talking of lengths of calico. And time, being now measurable in mathematical symbols, became regarded as a commodity that could be bought and sold in the same way as any other commodity.
Sadly he did not know that liberating man from the tyranny of the clock would only enslave him to another device, another machine, another apparatus, whatever it may be. God created time for our benefit and ever since He has been ordaining its orderly progression, despite man's over-dependence on the clock.

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (2 Peter 3:8)

In heaven, time is dead. However without clocks the orderly progression of all things will continue, for God is God of heaven as He is of earth. Our liberation from the tyranny of the clock will free us in ways we can't even imagine. The old cannibal and new man, Abraham of Vanuatu, knew. He went where time is dead and men are alive. Where there are no clocks but precision is more precise than it has ever been anywhere on earth.

making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:10)

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