Monday, September 30, 2013

Train Runs Over Couple Having Sex on Tracks


Train Runs Over Couple Having Sex on Tracks
"Local police say a middle-aged couple in central Ukraine was run over by a switcher locomotive while having sex on the tracks. According to the country's Interior Ministry, the woman died at the location while the man was hospitalized after losing both his legs. The victims' names were not released, but it was reported that the man was 41 and the woman appeared to by thirtysomething. The ministry cited the surviving victim, who said that he and his girlfriend “failed to overcome their natural passion when walking home… and wanted to experience an extreme sensation near the railroad tracks.”

Pack of motorcyclists chase man in SUV, attack him on upper Manhattan street after fender bender on West Side Highway
"Alexian Lien's Range Rover was surrounded by several bikers on the West Side Highway on Sunday. One biker apparently cut the driver off and slammed on the brakes just before the SUV bumped his rear tire. But when Lien — who was driving his wife, Rosalyn, and their 2-year-old child — stopped, several bikers began to damage his SUV. Lien fled, striking one biker. But the group caught up to him and pummeled him before cops arrived."

Cops: Daughter, husband kill mom; dad shoots them
"A two-decade family feud came to a violent end when a man shot dead the two home invaders that killed his wife and son, not knowing the assailants included his long-estranged daughter, authorities said Sunday."

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened." (Romans 1:18-21)

THIS is what futile thinking is. This is what it looks like. Dr John MacArthur quoted Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse in his Romans 1:21 sermon and also in his Romans' commentary--

Barnhouse said,

"Will God give man brains to see these things and will man then fail to exercise his will toward that God? The sorrowful answer is that both these things are true. God will give a man brains to smelt iron and make a hammer head and nails. God will grow a tree and give man strength to cut it down and brains to fashion a hammer handle from its wood. And when man has the hammer and the nails, God will put out His hand and let man drive nails through it and place Him on a cross in the supreme demonstration that men are without excuse."

When you have a majority of a society rejecting God, and as a result not being able to think straight, there are going to be consequences. There will be evidence of it. When a tiny minority of a society or a culture rejects God, the effects can be dampened by peer pressure, or laws, or hidden from sight. Not so when a majority reject Him, and the noted consequences begin to evidence themselves. Foolish hearts and futile thinking mean people are going to act c.r.a.z.y. And they are. Our God-rejecting society is on a downhill slide in a hellish ride to nowhere, and I cold not be sorrier for the people who reject peace with God and the eternal joy that comes from it.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

An introduction to Hebrews, by Judy Luenebrink of Grace Community Church

Ladies, you might enjoy this terrific bible study presented by Grace Community Church (John MacArthur's church) from the Women's Ministry. Grace Community Church's Judy Luenebrink is the teacher.

An Introduction to Hebrews (mp3)

A Word document of an outline to the above lesson

Judy Luenebrink's watercolors page
Watercolors by Judy Luenebrink  

Enjoy!!!




Rejoice in our future inheritance


This is a staggeringly incomprehensible verse, but it is true, my brethren:

"Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them." (Luke 12:37)

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Pray for mercy for each other

Mercy. A beautiful quality of God. Here is CARM.org's definition of mercy and how it differs from grace:

Mercy
"Mercy is the act of not administering justice when that justice is punitive. Because of our sinfulness we deserve death and eternal separation from God (Rom. 6:23; Isaiah 59:2), but God provided an atonement for sin and through it shows us mercy. That is, He does not deliver to the Christian the natural consequence of his sin which is damnation. That is why Jesus became sin on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21) and bore the punishment due to us (Isaiah 53:4-5). It was to deliver us from damnation. (Compare with justice and grace.)"

"God saved us according to His mercy (Titus 3:5) and we can practice mercy as a gift (Rom. 12:8). "Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need" (Heb. 4:16)."

Mercy is not grace.

Grace
"Biblically, grace is unmerited favor. It is God's free action for the benefit of his people. It is different than justice and mercy. Justice is getting what we deserve. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. Grace is getting what we do not deserve. In grace we get eternal life, something that, quite obviously, we do not deserve. But because of God's love and kindness manifested in Jesus on the Cross, we receive the great blessing of redemption."

Sometimes we think to ask for mercy from God. The tax collector was commended for his humble appeal for mercy to Holy God. 

"But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’" (Luke 18:13)

Here is something to think of even further. There are many people who say they are watchmen. As a matter of fact, we are all called to "watch." In Mark 13 between verses 33 and 37 Jesus said to "watch" four times! He said to watch for His coming, and to pray. Watch for the householder. Stay awake and watch. And He finished by saying "what I say unto you I say unto all." So we all are supposed to be watchmen.

So we watch.

But there is more to do than simply watch. What else are Christian watchmen supposed to do? Well, pray, as stated above.

We also share the good news of salvation.

"How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” The voice of your watchmen—they lift up their voice; together they sing for joy; for eye to eye they seethe return of the Lord to Zion." (Isaiah 52:7-8).

But there is something else we can do besides watch, pray, warn, and share the Good News. It's mercy. The prophets of old often warns, often shared the good news, but one of their jobs was to plea for mercy before God on behalf of the people.Do we pray to God for mercy for our people?

The tax collector was praised for acknowledging his own hopeless state, and pled for mercy to God who dispenses mercy.

After we remove the log from our eye and repent of our daily sins, (so we are not prayerful hypocrites) when we pray, plea for mercy for your church family too. We should pray and plead for mercy for our brethren.

Paul asked the Lord to grant mercy on the house of Onesiphorus--

"May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains," (2 Timothy 1:16)

In his salutation,Paul often wrote that he asked the Lord to show mercy to his loved ones as in this example:

"May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you." (Jude 1:2)

I believe that when we pray for mercy for others by name or in groups, it is harder for us to be critical of them, and it makes it possible to love them even more. Because, He loves us and showed mercy...not dispensing our earned justice of His wrath but instead He mercifully reconciled us to Him through Jesus.

"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).

"for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation; he has covered me with the robe of righteousness," (Isaiah 61:10b)

Pray for mercy for the people you love.

Friday, September 27, 2013

God the creator and God the UNcreator

I mentioned before that any time there is a large earthquake, this blog sees an increase in views. People are somehow more unsettled after an earthquake than most other natural disasters, though any disaster sees people flocking to sites in search of the meaning of it all.

Personally I think quakes unsettle people because this is the very ground we walk on that is moving, splitting, and otherwise kicking up.  If solidity isn't solid, than maybe invisible God is real...The subconscious thought or fear is likely, "If the earth isn't solid, then what is?"

God of course.

But any natural disaster sends people searching for what, where, why. God is creator. He made the earth and the stars and the heavens and the stars and everything in between. He made it...and He can UNmake it.

Wikipedia photo, Linnaean taxonomy
Man assigns lists and categories to everything in the natural world, trying to organize it, in order to understand it. I remember being very interested in the biological taxonomy of mollusks in my 30s. Wikipedia explains taxonomy--

The establishment of universally accepted conventions for the naming of organisms was Linnaeus' main contribution to taxonomy—his work marks the starting point of consistent use of binomial nomenclature.[129] During the 18th century expansion of natural history knowledge, Linnaeus also developed what became known as the Linnaean taxonomy; the system of scientific classification now widely used in the biological sciences.

The Linnaean system classified nature within a nested hierarchy, starting with three kingdoms. Kingdoms were divided into classes and they, in turn, into orders, and thence into genera (singular: genus), which were divided into Species (singular: species).[130] Below the rank of species he sometimes recognized taxa of a lower (unnamed) rank; these have since acquired standardised names such as variety in botany and subspecies in zoology. Modern taxonomy includes a rank of family between order and genus and a rank of phylum between kingdom and class that were not present in Linnaeus' original system

I bought plastic divided tackle boxes at Wal-Mart and collected shells from all the oceans I sailed on and
Initiamenta conchologica, or, Elements of conchology
Printed and published by Reeve, Brothers,1846-1849.
biodiversitylibrary.org/item/54210
all the beaches I walked on, and labeled them and placed them within a taxonomy ... and it felt so good to organize the world. I felt that if I could organize it, and then I could understand it, and then I could control it.

Of course that is a mistake, no matter how fun it is to study natural history. But I wasn't saved then and I didn't know God.

And in the end, man doesn't really understand the world or the universe much at all. See the following articles:

The Sun That Did Not Roar
"This is the height of the 11-year solar cycle, the so-called solar maximum. The face of the Sun should be pockmarked with sunspots, and cataclysmic explosions of X-rays and particles should be whizzing off every which way. Instead, the Sun has been tranquil, almost spotless. As W. Dean Pesnell, the project scientist for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, dryly noted, “We’re not having much of a solar maximum.” A week ago, a solitary sunspot blemished an otherwise blank yellow disk. In the ensuing days, a few more specks appeared, but even a small explosion, or coronal mass ejection, last Thursday seemed like the halfhearted effort of a slacker star. “The truth of it is there isn’t a lot going on,” said Joseph M. Kunches, a space scientist at the Space Weather Prediction Center. “It’s been a bit of a dud. You look at the Sun today and you say, ‘What?’ ... For scientists trying to understand the dynamics in the interior of the Sun, it has been a humbling experience enlightening them about how much they do not know."

They do not know as much about the order of the universe as they thought they knew.

Wikimedia commons, TS Franklin, 2005
Despire dire forecasts, it's a dud year for hurricanes
"The preseason predictions were all dire, using words like "extremely active" and "above-normal" to describe the forecast for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that seven to 11 hurricanes would form, while AccuWeather predicted eight.  However, the season so far has been a welcome if unexpected dud, with not a single hurricane yet through the first week of September. (A typical full June-November hurricane season, based on weather records that go back to 1950, has seven hurricanes.)'


Really? Scientists know so much about how the wind blows that they can predict how many hurricanes there will be? I don't think so. They do not know as much about hurricanes as they think they know.

Climate change AKA global warming? Nah.

Climate change is on ice: UN scientists reveal the world's barely got any hotter in the last 15 years
"In a report Report compiled by over 800 scientists and used 9,000 scientific studies UN scientists said today they are '95 per cent' certain that climate change is man made, but still could not explain why the world has barely got any hotter in the last 15 years."

The earth is not as solid as we think and the wind is not as constant as we think and the sun is not as active (or inactive) as we think. The Tribulation will be a time when all the cycles and taxonomies and orderliness of what has been a seeming normal will morph into a new normal: the horror of uncreation. Man wasn't around when God created the stars and the earth but he will be around when He uncreates it.

For example, the wind won't blow.

"After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of
Hans Holbein the Younger 1497/98-1543,
The angels holding back the four winds
Series/Book Title: Apocalypse
the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree" (Revelation 7:1).

The sun is cooling now but later it will turn hot, so hot it will burn men in an instant--

"The fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory" (Revelation 16:8-9)

Hail will be supersized, 100 lbs, and crush mens' heads.

"And great hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, fell from heaven on people; and they cursed God for the plague of the hail, because the plague was so severe." (Revelation 16:21)

The Tribulation  will be a time when God will uncreate the earth, unspooling it from the seeming normalcy humanity has enjoyed, to now when things are starting to go haywire, to future then when nothing will be normal.

Spurgeon wrote that in the creation, "The light which broke in upon the primeval darkness was of a very mysterious kind, and came not according to ordinary laws, for as yet neither sun nor moon had been set as lights in the firmament."

MacArthur wrote of the uncreation of Revelation: "The present laws of thermodynamics, which state that matter can not be created nor destroyed,  will no longer be in effect. As a result, "he universe "will be burned up," it will be totally consumed. (2 Peter 3:10-13). The absolute reverse of creation will occur. It didn't take eons of evolution to create the universe, nor will it take eons to uncreate it. The uncreation of the universe, like its creation, will take place by the word of God." (source "Revelation 12-22 MacArthur New Testament Commentary  By John F MacArthur")

All praise our holy God who creates, makes things orderly in their time, makes things disorderly in their time, and will dissolve the universe when it is time!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Biblical exhortation, and the modern Silence of the Pulpits

"I exhort you!" "I beseech you!' We read those biblical phrases a lot. So. What do they mean?

That is what this blog essay is about.

"Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching." (1 Timothy 4:13)


Paul is urging Timothy to be bold and stay strong. Timothy was a pastor. However, exhortation is not only for pastors. Gills Exposition says of the verse,

"Exhortation" intends the stirring up of believers to the exercise of grace, and the discharge of duty; and is a considerable part of the work of the ministry, and on which a minister of Christ should much insist; -

Mike Ratliffe on the same verse
What is exhortation? In 1 Timothy 4:13, the word I translated as “exhortation” is the noun παρακλήσει, which is the Dative, Singular form of παράκλησις or paraklēsis, which refers to an “admonition or encouragement for the purpose of strengthening and establishing the believer in the faith (Romans 15:4; Philippians 2:1; Hebrews 12:5; 13:22). Technically, an exhortation is the application of the exposition of scripture. It challenges God’s people to obey the truth of God’s Word and warns them of the consequences of not doing so.

The pastor exhorts the believer, and the believer exhorts the believer. As a matter of fact, some believers have been given the gift of exhortation!

"Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness." (Romans 12:6-8).

GotQuestions explains the gift of exhortation,

"The gift of exhortation is a person’s unique ability to encourage and edify others. This person delights in finding Scriptures that apply to a situation and teaching others how to apply them. People with this gift are often involved in teaching, counseling, and discipleship training ministries within the church. Exhorters are among the first to find believers who are floundering in their faith. They come alongside the weaker ones to encourage, confront, if necessary, and model victorious living.

Jesus exhorted and John the Baptist exhorted. Their first words and the main thrust of their ministries were to tell people to repent. Believers should exhort people to repent, whether you have the gift of exhortation or not. It is what Jesus came to do, seek the repentant and save the lost. As His ambassadors it is what we are here to do.

GotQuestions again, "Regardless of our primary gifts, all Christians should desire to become better at exhortation to build up those who are weaker, encourage those who lead, and strengthen the Body of Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:14; 2 Corinthians 1:4)."

So what else should we exhort about? --Peter also exhorted to people that they should repent. (Acts 2:38).
--John exhorted to people about truth. (3 John 4).
--James exhorted people to good works in Christ (James 2:17-18)

So if pastors are urged to exhort, and believers with the gift are urged to exhort, and believers without the gift are urged to exhort, why isn't the church exhorting?

Christians are being persecuted everywhere! Chased, hunted, killed, and churches burned! Here is a snippet from an article called The Silence of the Pulpits

If you are even slightly awake about the world news today, it is no surprise that Christians are being killed, raped, and brutalized throughout the Islamic world.  However, there is a place where you can go to  escape the dreadful and relentless details of Christian annihilation by Islam.  You can just go to church.  ...
The principal reason public opinion hasn't been galvanized around the persecution of Christians is that the various church leaderships either ignore or dance around the issue. If churches don't speak up forcefully, then it is unrealistic to expect the world's democratic governments to do the same.And so the response found in nearly every church to the murder of Christians is...wait for it...complete silence.  Not a mention or reference to it, or to the brutality against Christians that happens almost every day in the Islamic world.  This is not a passive silence, because if you try to change it, you will fail.  The silence is an active, working conspiracy that goes throughout nearly all of Christendom."

The article's author goes on to propose that the reason for the silence means one must examine the who the people are doing the persecuting, and since facts are the enemy today, they don't like speaking about the fact that Muslims are doing the killing. (ans why are Muslims doing this Christian-killing? They hate Jesus).

If we are supposed to exhort unto the truth in opposition to false doctrine, as John modeled for us, then why is there a deafening silence from evangelicals?

John MacArthur on the Deafening Silence of Evangelicals
"There is a widespread reluctance in the evangelical community to offer strong, biblical critique in response to theological error. And the glut of unrestrained charismatic teaching serves as a glaring example of that. Theological pacifism has inadvertently given license to many false teachers. They have free reign to misrepresent the Holy Spirit and mislead the people of God by proclaiming their imaginings as direct revelation from the Lord. Believers cannot sit and watch as such blasphemy poisons the minds of people looking for the truth."

No, a person is not being humble and gentle when they remain silent and do not exhort when they should.

Bill Muehlenberg said in his essay "The Sin of Remaining Silent – and Doing Nothing"
"Remaining silent and inactive about evil when we have a chance to make a difference is not just cowardly, but sinful. We are called to be proactive in promoting that which is good and resisting that which is evil. Apathy, fence-sitting and refusal to engage are not options for the biblical Christian."

If a sister is reading a book you know for a fact to be thoroughly permeated with false doctrine, will you sit still and say nothing? If a precious brother says he is a Christian but refuses to go to church to hear the word and worship Him, will you let it go? If you are a pastor and you know for sure that a member is watching porn, or engaged in adultery, should you exhort that brother or sister to repent? Yes you should.

Paul told Titus that as an elder he should encourage those who are in sound doctrine to continue and refute those who contradict. (Titus 1:9)

Exhort with all due love to the brethren and others! Stay strong and speak up. Exhort!!

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

Further reading

This is an excellent and practical essay on street preaching.  found it helpful even though I am not a street preacher. It's a practical treatise on engaging with people in exhortation.

Thoughts on street preaching

What the Bible says about speaking up

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

A quick note: 3 million views

Thank you readers! I am so grateful for the readership and the comments here. Last night this blog passed 3 million views. That means in some way or another 3 million people came in contact with the themes of Jesus, His name, of the concepts of redemption, holiness, the Spirit, lawlessness, or salvation. It is also a lot to be accountable to Jesus for in me handling the Word...

I began a secular blog in 2006, because that was the thing to do back then. It is called The Quiet Life, based on the verse from 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12. As I went along though, my new position of justified before Christ and increasingly sanctified in Him prompted me to discuss more of Him. I also felt a burden for being a witness to the last days and the fervor and discernment that comes along with that.

So in 2009 I started this blog, devoted exclusively to encouraging the saints, teaching how to discern, and warning of the last moments of the last days. For Christians, I hope that the writing here would accomplish those goals, and that we would all strive to live a higher standard of living for Christ, including myself! For non-Christians I pray that the words here and the links here and the comments in discussions here would shed light on your sins and your need for Jesus. I won't know the level of my obedience or disobedience until I get there, or what the Spirit has done through me, but in any case, I try to work for Christ all day, all the time.

Speaking of work for Christ, I am working at the County Fair tonight in our church's Snack Shack booth. The Fair is huge around here so it will be crowded even if it rains (which it is supposed to). If you think of it, would you kindly pray for hearts to be prepared ahead of them coming the booth? I'll be saying James 5:8 a lot as well as Mark 1:15. I guess I am not a believer in 'relational evangelism'. If 'Repent for the kingdom of God is at hand' was the very first ministry words Jesus our King said, (Mt 4:17) and good enough for John the Baptist, the greatest man who ever lived, (Matthew 11:11) then those verses are good enough for me to open with. But I am not bold so I'll need prayers to help me. :)

Thank you for reading and your comments and encouraging me through your talents and time and prayers. I'll be writing here until the Spirit says stop, I die, or we are raptured!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Old fashioned wars using the Millo and siege ramps, and future wars using EMP genades and nuclear bombs

I am reading through 1 Kings and in chapter 9 and then chapter 11 and a mysterious thing called "the Millo" is mentioned. Here are two verses which mention the Millo, though certainly not the only verses in the only books of the Old Testament which mention this structure.

"And this is the account of the forced labor that King Solomon drafted to build the house of the Lord and his own house and the Millo and the wall of Jerusalem and Hazor and Megiddo and Gezer" (1 Kings 9:15)

"And this was the reason why he lifted up his hand against the king. Solomon built the Millo, and closed up the breach of the city of David his father." (1 Kings 11:27)

Other times the Millo is mentioned (and it is always the Millo) are 2 Samuel 5:9, 1 Chronicles 11:8 and 2 Chronicles 32:5.

The context of the mentions is always in a militaristic context, so the Millo seems to be something like a wall or a fortress, or a defense structure of some kind. It is not THE wall, because the Millo is mentioned separately from the wall in the 1 Kings 9 verse. This article abstract from Biblical Archaeology Society explains:

Scholars’ Corner: Has Jerusalem’s Millo Been Found?
"One of the puzzles British archaeologist Kathleen Kenyon solved during her Jerusalem excavations of 1961–1967 was the meaning of the untranslatable Biblical word Millo. Or did she? On the steep eastern slope of the city of David (or Ophel), the site of the original city of Jerusalem south of the Temple Mount, Kenyon uncovered tier upon tier of architectural terracing buried beneath an avalanche of stone and debris. Kenyon identified this terracing, which had supported buildings of the city located on the slope, as the Millo of the Bible: “And David dwelt in the stronghold, and called it the city of David. And David built the city round about from the Millo inward” (2 Samuel 5:9). The Millo is also mentioned in 1 Kings 9:15, 24; 11:27; 1 Chronicles 11:8 and in 2 Chronicles 32:5. Etymologically, Millo is related to a root meaning “filling,” and here there was filling aplenty. Moreover, we know from the Bible that the Millo was located in Jerusalem and had to be repaired from time to time."

Here is a photo from Jerusalem 101 website which shows the wall Kenyon uncovered which they believe was part of the Millo mentioned in the Old Testament.

source

Interesting, isn't it?!

I really enjoy the military aspects of the bible. The battle strategies, the terms for weapons and defense. I did a blog essay on bucklers once. You know, the verse where it says "Take up the shield and buckler"? (Psalm 35:2)

The Millo is pretty interesting to me. The siege ramp is also interesting. There is one mentioned in 2 Samuel 20:15, where it is a literal method of attack.

"And all the men who were with Joab came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah. They cast up a mound against the city, and it stood against the rampart, and they were battering the wall to throw it down."

And in Job 19:12, where Job meant it as a metaphorical attack: "His troops come on together; they have cast up their siege ramp against me and encamp around my tent."

A siege ramp is where the opposing army of the besieged city constructs a huge earthen ramp against which they batter the walls, hoist armaments to lob at the interior of the city and scramble upward and over the walls to penetrate the besieged fortification. My description makes it sound a lot easier to construct and use a siege ramp than it was. Here is a description and illustration from Wikipedia--

"In his Commentarii de Bello Gallico (Commentaries on the Gallic War), Caesar describes how at the Battle of Alesia the Roman legions created two huge fortified walls around the city. The inner circumvallation, 10 miles (16 km), held in Vercingetorix's forces, while the outer contravallation kept relief from reaching them. The Romans held the ground in between the two walls. The besieged Gauls, facing starvation, eventually surrendered after their relief force met defeat against Caesar's auxiliary cavalry. The Sicarii Zealots who defended Masada in AD 73 were defeated by the Roman legions who built a ramp 100 m high up to the fortress's west wall."

And here is the ramp the Romans built at Masada, again Wikimedia Commons photo


I think about the battles to come in the last days and into the Tribulation. Albert Einstein was often quoted as saying "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones." Einstein was born in 1879 and died in 1955. He certainly saw a great change in military capabilities within his lifetime. For example, he would have been a young man reading newspaper reports about the Spanish-American war of 1898. Both the regular cavalry and the volunteer cavalry, and Teddy Roosevelt's Rough Riders used smokeless ammunition. In later battles, national guard and other mobilized militia used black powder Civil War era rifles. That was the big military-technological advance back then.

By the time Einstein died, he had seen men split the atom and use an atomic bomb to end WWII. The first hydrogen bomb test occurred three years before Einstein died. No wonder he was musing about what military & technological advances would be unleashed in the future.

One side-effect of a thermo-nuclear blast is the electro-magnetic pulse emitted along with the regular pulses and shock waves of the blast. Except people are now catching wise to the fact that you don't need the nuclear part to render your enemy dead in their tracks. You can send any civilization back to the stone age with one pulse over the central part of their land mass and all life as they knew it would come to a dead stop in seconds.

And now people are catching wise to the fact that instead of mass blasts, you can target this EMP specifically to smaller ranges, as in use of an EMP grenade to stop a tank.

Here is an excerpt from a story from 2009 at The Register, a tech publication:

Contradicting previous reports, a US Army electronic-warfare colonel has apparently confirmed the existence of working non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) ordnance - apparently so portable that it is even available in hand-grenade size. The revelation came at a blogger roundtable (press conference) held in order to introduce the US Army's new electronic-warfare specialist career field.

An electro-pulse will short out any and all electronic circuits within range. This means phones, computers, vehicles, buses, and anything else that relies on an electronic chip. So that means pretty much everything.

I was watching a Discovery program called Future Weapons, about what happens when an EMP blast hits a car. (the link goes to a 3 minute clip showing a small remote-controlled helicopter being hit with an EMP and then a car). I use the term 'blast' but you don't see anything nor hear anything. There is no light, no sound and no blast. Your car just stops. Simple. It doesn't affect people at all...until you starve to death. Then you're affected.

So Einstein was pretty much right, in my opinion. The next war could indeed be nuclear and the one after that, back to Stone Age fighting. The descriptions in Zechariah 14:12 seem to indicate the biological effects upon a person who is at ground zero of a nuclear blast. And the bio-hazard clean up described in Ezekiel 39 also seem to indicate that a nuclear war had occurred. The number of dead, also seem to indicate such a technologically advanced battle. The level of mutually assured destruction in the next war may well guarantee that the war after that may very likely be conducted as a Stone Age tribe used to.

So that begs the question of when the bible records the last days battles such as the Gog Magog battle of Ezekiel 38: "army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed in full armor, a great host, all of them with buckler and shield, wielding swords" it may be that the Prophet recording God's words was using language he understood and we understand to this day to describe a sophisticated war using artillery that was out of range of his comprehension. Or it could be a literal recording of such a war being conducted- with actual horses and shields and bucklers and not tanks and rocket launchers and planes.

I don't know. I'm just thinking out loud here. But it does make me wonder if the old time siege ramps and shields and bucklers and horses and swords will be used in the last wars of the Tribulation. Revelation 14:20 records the following-

"And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia."
Blood Flowing from the Great Winepress of God's Wrath,
Nicolas de Bataille, 14th century Apocalypse Tapestries

The winepress is the winepress of God's wrath but the blood is very real. The verse is telling the result of the battle at Armageddon when the Lord returns and smites His enemies. 1600 stadia is 20 miles. I wonder why the horse's bridles is used as a vertical measure here. Goliath was said to be 6 cubits high. Cubits was usually used to measure height, with span or handbreadth for smaller vertical measures. Maybe it's because actual horses are used at the battle of Armageddon?

With all the talk of Israel and Iran, and Iran's nuclear ambitions, and the window closing to when Iran will finally have made a bomb (and you know they will use it if they got it), I just wonder if the last technologically advanced war will be happening soon and then those who remain on the earth will be back to using sticks and stones (and the Millo and siege ramps and horses and bows and arrows) as Einstein predicted.

We know that the LORD our God is in charge of it all, and He never loses. He ordains everything and nothing is a surprise to Him.

I am an enlisted soldier in God's army (2 Timothy 2:3-4). The Preacher said in Ecclesiastes 3:8 that there is "A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace."

As long as sin in in the world, there will be war. But for all those in Jesus, He is the giver of peace. No longer am I at war with God who is Holy, my sin-nature rebelling against His statutes. I am at peace, being reconciled to Jesus my precious savior.

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (John 14:27)

Monday, September 23, 2013

Vandals topple Ten Commandments granite statue

Man must obey God.

Man does not want to obey God.

God put His commands on a stone tablet so there would be no equivocation as to what is required for obedience. (Now those commands are subsumed under the two greatest commandments. (Mark 12:29).

Yet man hates God and disobeys. God's commands are a curse to man.

10 Commandments monument toppled in Washington
"A stone monument of the Ten Commandments that sits on a street behind the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington and was the subject of controversy in the past has been toppled by vandals. The 3-foot-by-3-foot granite monument weighs 850 pounds and sits out front of the headquarters of Faith and Action, a Christian outreach ministry. The group installed the tablets in a garden outside its offices in 2006, and the group's president said the tablets were angled so that justices arriving at the high court would see them. The Rev. Robert Schenck, who heads the organization, said the damage to the monument happened sometime between Friday night and Saturday night. A minister who works in the area alerted the group to the damage around 9 p.m. Saturday. The monument had been pushed over so that the words of the Ten Commandments are now face down."

Man can do those things all he wants, but God is God. There is no other. Not self, not personal wants, not Dagon. No other God. See what He did here, with Dagon-

"The Philistines and the Ark"
Wikimedia commons, Fall of Dagon, Landseer
"When the Philistines captured the ark of God, they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and set it up beside Dagon. And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day." (1 Samuel 5:1-5)

Charles Spurgeon wrote of this incident. He called it "Dagon's Ups and Downs"

"Another lesson may be learned from the incident before us. When the Philistines had beaten the Israelites in battle, and captured the sacred chest called the ark, they boasted and gloried as though they had defeated God Himself. They evidently regarded the golden casket as the very choicest part of the spoil, and they placed it as a trophy in the chief temple of their god Dagon, to show that he was mightier than the God Jehovah, who was unable, as they thought, to protect His people. This touched at once the honor of Jehovah, and because He is a jealous God this boded good for Israel. The fact that God is a jealous God has often a terrible side to us, for it leads to our chastisement when we grieve Him: this, indeed, led to the defeat of Israel. But it has also a bright side towards us, for His jealousy flames against His foes even more terribly than against His friends; and when His name is blasphemed, and honors that are due to Him are ascribed to a mere idol, or He is declared to have been defeated by a false god, then His jealousy burns like coals of juniper, and He makes bare His right arm to smite His adversaries, as He did on this occasion."

"He thinks it meet to punish His offending people, but when Philistia saith, “Dagon has defeated Jehovah,” then the Lord will no longer suffer Philistia to triumph. Jehovah’s answer to His foes was Dagon broken to shivers before His ark, and the Philistines plagued with tumors till, in their desperate pain and dire disgrace, they set free the ark, being no longer able to endure its presence in any of their towns; so that the Jews ever afterwards used to exasperate the Philistines by reminding them of the disease which so sorely tried them; and there is a dash of this in the psalm which saith of the Lord, “He smote his enemies in the inner part; he put them to a perpetual reproach.” Never did a boastful nation undergo a deeper dishonor in the eyes of their neighbors, to whom they became a laughing-stock, and never did an image suffer a worse disgrace than that which befell their god Dagon."

America will suffer such a disgrace.

Oh, not because some vandals toppled the Commandments, though the image of the Commandments face down did remind me of Dagon lying face down. But because of this and many other incidents which directly show God that we are irredeemable as a nation.Whereupon we have said over and over, through elections, and judicial renderings, and mass demonstrations, and state-by-state verdicts, that we do not want God.

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." (Galatians 6:7)

God will do something about it. His Holy ire is roused, to be sure, and one day, soon I think, He will part the veil and let us know it directly and personally. Spurgeon said in his piece--

"Now, then, whenever at any time infidelity or superstition shall so prevail as to discourage your minds, take you comfort out of this—that in all these God's honor is compromised. Have they blasphemed His name? Then He will protect that name. Have they gone further than they used to do in foul utterances against Him? Then they will provoke Him, and He will make bare His holy arm. I pray that, they may so provoke Him! All His church will say “Amen!” to that, so that He may arise and perform the glorious works of His strength and of His love among the sons of men, and put the adversary to confusion by proving that He is still with His people, and still the same mighty God as He was in the days of yore."

"Say you to yourselves, then, “Our Lord will not always endure this idolatrous popery, which is multiplying its priests within our national church. His people cannot bear it; much less will He. He will not always tolerate these blasphemous theories, by which self-conceited, learned men and vainglorious skeptics seek to get rid of God out of the world. They will provoke Him. He will bestir Himself, He will show Himself strong on the behalf of His truth, He will roll back the waves of sin, and let the ages know that He is still the great I AM, the victorious God over all, blessed forever.”"

A Simple Plea: please repent, the end is near

It's the end of the end times.

"You're stupid. You people have been saying it's the end times, like, forever."

True. That is because it HAS been the end times like forever. At least two thousand years. They began when Jesus ascended, and will end when Jesus returns. (Acts 2:17, Hebrews 1:2)

The last days is like a woman who is pregnant. Her baby grows inside her, and as the weeks progress, she shows more and more evidence of her imminent state. (in today's terms, 'baby bump'.) As she nears the end of her pregnancy, she develops other signs that her term is nearing the end. Her body aches. Her stomach grows. Her doctor visits become more frequent.

Then there is a final sign, the final sign that the baby's birth is nearing. The pregnant mom's water breaks. This is the moment when it becomes evident in the long gestation that the final phase has been entered. There is pain, blood, mess, and screaming.

Then the baby is born. New life has arrived. (Revelation 21:1)

The gestation is the end time, or last days. This is the time that Jesus is building His church. (Matthew 16:18, Romans 11:25, Luke 21:24). The water breaking is the rapture. The blood, mess and screaming (labor pangs) is the Tribulation. (Matthew 24:8). The new baby is the new earth and the Kingdom, fresh and new.

Jesus likened the last days as to the woman's pregnancy, and specifically to labor pangs. In Matthew 24, Jesus answered the disciples specifically as to three three things they were wondering:

"As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray." (Matthew 24:3-5).

They asked --

1. When will it happen?
2. What will be the sign of your coming?
3. What will be the sign of the end of the age?

Jesus said no on knows when, so we can get that question out of the way fast. The disciples were waiting for Messiah and of the Kingdom that had been promised them. They had learned as Jews that when Messiah came, He would institute the covenant promises, so naturally the disciples were eager for it all to start. What they did not know (but should have) is that His coming would be in two phases, Lamb and Lion. Suffering Servant and Sovereign King. So they asked excitedly in Matthew 24 and several other times too, "Is it now? When? When? When?"

What we know from our vantage point is that Jesus has been building the church, growing His bride for these last two thousand years. The disciples thought it was all going to take place right then, and they didn't have the church on their radar.

As for question #2, Jesus went on in Matthew 24 with all the signs. These are signs of His immediate coming, His return after the 7 year Tribulation. Matthew 24 is a Tribulation chapter relating to the Jews. These are signs the Tribulation saints will be looking at and waiting for His return on the Day of the LORD.

I think we are moments away from the water breaking. I really do. I think we are in the last moments of the last days.

I could be wrong. But the rapture is always imminent. Always has been, always will be, until it happens.

"And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen." (Romans 16:20)

"Looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus" (Titus 2:13).

"Let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the Day approaching" (Heb 10:24-25).

"For yet a little while, and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry" (Heb 10:37).

Here is the plea:

Do you know where you would go if you were to die in the next few moment of time?

Do you know what would be happening if all the true Christians suddenly disappeared and the world went to hell (literally. That's not a swear. The Tribulation is a time hell comes to earth). Well, do you?

No?

You can. You can know where you will go when you die. If you repent of your sins (be sorry for them, truly sorry that you've done things that disobey Holy God), you can ask Jesus to forgive them. He is the resurrected Lamb, whom God exhausted all His wrath for sins. Pleased with Jesus's sacrificial death, He raised Jesus from the dead and set Him at His right hand in heaven. Now people who are sorry for their sins can come into heaven under Jesus, since He already took your wrath for your sins for you.

Once you do that you become born again, born from above, you will go to heaven when you die.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

If you do not repent, and do not ask Jesus to forgive your sins, and are not born again, when you die you will go to hell. That's because you still have a debt to pay- that wrath. You didn't want to come in under Jesus, who already blocked God's wrath from you. So now you have to take it, and that will happen forever in hell.

It's much better to get your sin-debt to Jesus taken care of now, before you die. Christians have been saying this for two thousand years, and how much closer is the kingdom today than yesterday? Closer.

"and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15)

"You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. (James 5:8)

Don't wait until tomorrow. You may not have a tomorrow.

"Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes." (James 4:14)

Eternity is long.

"It is everlasting wrath. It would be dreadful to suffer this fierceness and wrath of Almighty God one moment; but you must suffer it to all eternity. There will be no end to this exquisite horrible misery. When you look forward, you shall see a long for ever, a boundless duration before you, which will swallow up your thoughts, and amaze your soul; and you will absolutely despair of ever having any deliverance, any end, any mitigation, any rest at all. You will know certainly that you must wear out long ages, millions of millions of ages, in wrestling and conflicting with this almighty merciless vengeance; and then when you have so done, when so many ages have actually been spent by you in this manner, you will know that all is but a point to what remains. So that your punishment will indeed be infinite. Oh, who can express what the state of a soul in such circumstances is! All that we can possibly say about it, gives but a very feeble, faint representation of it; it is inexpressible and inconceivable: For "who knows the power of God's anger?" Jonathan Edwards, "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, excerpt)

Repent. The end is near.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Creation Grace: Snow

Elizabeth Prata photo

Sunday Martyr Moment: Year of Six Emperors

Foxe's Book of Martyrs. According to this summary from Christian Book Summaries,

Writing in the mid-1500s, John Foxe was living in the midst of intense religious persecution at the hands of the dominant Roman Catholic Church. In graphic detail, he offers accounts of Christians being martyred for their belief in Jesus Christ, describing how God gave them extraordinary courage and stamina to endure unthinkable torture.

From the same link, the book's purpose was fourfold:
  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.
Text from Foxe's Book of Martyrs

The Sixth Persecution, Under Emperor Clodius Puipienus Maximus, A.D. 164-238

Maximus was a despot who ordered all Christians hunted down and killed. So many were killed that at times they buried them fifty and sixty together in large pits.

Among those killed were Pontianus, bishop of Rome, who was exiled to Sardinia for preaching against idolatry and was killed there. His successor, Anteros, was also martyred after only 40 days in office, for offending the government by compiling a history of the martyrs.

A Romans senator Pammachius, and family, and 42 other Christians were beheaded on the same day and their heads displayed on city gates.

A Christian minister, Calepodius, was dragged through the streets of Rome and then thrown into the Tiber River with a millstone around his neck. A refined and beautiful young virgin named Martina was beheaded. Hippolitus, a Christian minister, was tied to wild horses and dragged along the ground until he died.

Maximus died in 238 AD and was this was the year they call "The Year of Six Emperors". Maximus was succeeded by Gordian, who was then succeeded by Philip. During the latter two reigns, the Church was free form persecution for a period of 6-10 years. In AD 249 however, a violent persecution in Alexandria was instigated by a pagan priest without the emperor's knowledge. This was partly by his jealousy concerning the amazing increase of Christianity; for the heathen temples began to be forsaken, and the Christian churches thronged.

During that persecution, an elderly Christian named Metrus was beaten with clubs, pricked with needles and stoned to death for refusing to worship idols. A Christian women, Quinta, was scourged, dragged over flint stones by her feet, and stoned to death. A 70-year-old woman, Appolonia who confessed that she was a Christian, was fastened to a stake to be burned. After the fire was set she begged to be set free, which the mob did, thinking she was going to recant Christ. To their amazement however, she hurled herself back into the flames and died.

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

"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you." (John 15:18-19)

They hate Jesus so much that even a Christian compiling a history of the martyrs incited them to kill the man compiling a history of the martyrs. Keep this in mind.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

"California teen named nation's first transgender homecoming queen"

Tommy Hunter posted this on Facebook group Christ in Prophecy. I am re-posting it here because I agree with every word. See the news item this gentleman was talking about that prompted his comment below:

"Does anyone else feel like you've been awakened in the Twilight Zone?!?!? I know I do!!! I'm blown away how people have thrown rational thinking out the window to embrace the vilest lifestyles as normal under the banner of "acceptance"!!!! This is just another fulfillment of Romans chapter 1!!!! The selective judgments that have occurred throughout America will soon become national judgments."

And the news item:

"In what is being described as the first known event of its kind, a transgendered teen was named as her high school’s homecoming queen on Friday. “I am so proud to win this not just for me, but everyone out there,” 16-year-old Cassidy Campbell said after receiving her crown during the halftime of Marina High’s homecoming football game Friday night in Huntington Beach, CA. The Los Angeles Times published a slideshow of photos from the homecoming event, which you can view here. Cassidy rose to national prominence when it was reported that she was entering the contest. “Just to be true to themselves and to let people know around them and to not keep it bottled up inside,” Campbell said about what her win should mean for fellow members of the transgendered community."

KTLA reports that "Cassidy Lynn Campbell was born Lance Campbell, but has been living as a woman for the past three years." So if he is 16 years old now and has been living as a girl for the last three, that makes him changing to a female at age thirteen.

When the article says the transgender 'community' let's put that into perspective. Unlike the mirrors on the sides of cars that say "objects may be larger than they appear" transgenderism is smaller that it appears. Though the homosexual lobby likes to put forth that the gay population is huge, it is not.

"The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, a sexual orientation law and public policy think tank, estimates that about 3.8% of Americans identify as gay, les-bian, bisexual or transgender (2011, source)."

So, the 'transgender community' is microscopic, amoeba-like, minuscule and tiny. Yet the noise they make is turning the world upside down, isn't it.

What is transgenderism? GotQuestions has the answer

"Transsexualism, also known as transgenderism, Gender Identity Disorder (GID), or gender dysphoria, is a desire to change one’s sex or to fulfill the role of the opposite gender. Transsexuals / transgenders usually describe themselves as “trapped” in a body that does not match their gender. They will probably practice transvestism / transvestitism and may also seek hormone therapy and/or surgery to bring their bodies into conformity with their perceived gender."

"The Bible has plenty to say about human sexuality. Most basic to our understanding of sex is that God created two (and only two) genders: “male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27). All the modern-day speculation about numerous genders—or even a gender “continuum” with unlimited genders—is unbiblical.
"


What is happening in a society that affirms and celebrates this kind of sexual sin? The answer is in Romans 1, as John MacArthur explains.

"It is that judicial act of God, whereby He lets the sinner go. In other words, He stops convicting. He stops calling. It's Genesis 6, where God says, "My Spirit will not always strive with man." There comes a point when God says, "That's it. I'm letting you go," and when God lets a society go, Verse 24 [in Romans] says, "He gives them over to uncleanness." That's sexual sin, and then Verse 26, He gives them up to vile passions, and women exchange the natural use for what is against nature, but likewise, the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their l-usts for one another, men with men, committing what is shameful, so you have lesbianism and homosexuality."

"When God gives a society up, they plunge into sexual sin, and then they sink deeper into homosexual sin, so while homosexuality is a forgivable sin, and, categorically, no worse than others, when it happens on a societal level, it is evidence that when a society affirms it; when it becomes normal in a society, that is evidence that God has turned that society over. If you look at America, you could look back to the sexual revolution of the '60s, which has now become a homosexual revolution of the '90s, in which the homosexuals have redefined themselves as a minority, like a racial group of people demanding rights. 

And so I think, while it is, as far as individual sin goes, no more damning than any other sin and as forgivable as any other sin. When it becomes the pattern of a society, it is evidence that God has turned that society over to that sin. It may be at that point an evidence that many in that society are not redeemable because they have gone past the age of grace."

And that is a sad state of affairs, to see that so many in society are not redeemable because God has given them over. I agree with Tommy Hunter's comment above, and I'd go one step further, It is an evidence that God has turned us over and the Age of Grace for American has closed for our society. We ARE under national judgment.

False doctrine IS a sign of the end of days

I had a mouse problem in my apartment. It's an old, old house (100+ years) and it is inevitable that critters will try to get in through the cracks. I have two cats, so before this fall, I'd never had a problem inside the place before, though I knew that there were mice cavorting unseen just outside.

Wikimedia Commons
So at first I thought I heard a whisper of a sound when all was quiet. I put that to regular noises an old house makes when it settles. But then I saw the cats perk up when the tiny sound came along again. After a while, the cats would not only perk up from snoozing placidly at my feet while I typed at the kitchen table, but sit up and stare intently at the spot behind the sink faucet.

Sometimes their eyes and head would track a sound I could not hear and a thing I could not see. It was preternatural, to be sure.

Then I opened the large drawer under the stove and saw the beginnings of a mouse nest. I went into combat mode and cleaned it all out. I took out the pots that were under there and put them under my re-arranged and cleaned under the sink area, leaving a nice wide expanse and one mouse trap. I also put mouse traps next to the stove and under the sink in that cabinet. Plus, some D-Con pellets.

I was unsure of where the creature was coming in, but I supposed that was one of the mysteries of living in an old farmhouse.

Feeling good, having four traps set and two cats waiting, I went back to work typing at the kitchen table. After a while I heard a slight tinkle of a glass in the sink. Knowing that glass doesn't move by itself, I got up to investigate. Immediately I saw the mouse in the sink. He scrambled up and disappeared like smoke down a crack behind where the sink cabinet butts up against the outer wall.

I admit I screamed like a girl. My friend on Facebook later said that I AM a girl. I know, but I always thought that when the moment of horrible crisis came (spider, mouse, demonic invasion, Atomic bomb...) that I would handle it with aplomb and serious intentional purpose. Nah. I screamed EEEEEKKKK! just like in the movies, and went running into the bedroom. Girl.

Later I peeped over to the crack where I saw her go out, and I marveled that the fat mouse could even fit into that crack. It's a small crack, man! Look, it's only half a penny wide!

And that is the widest, the rest of the counter is less than half a penny wide. It narrows to nothing by the ends. A penny is 0.750 inches. Half of that is 0.375! Yet the mouse came in and went out confidently, going and coming in through the tiniest of cracks, despite the fact that there is a large, lumbering lady in the kitchen 10 hours a day and two cats 24/7. 


False doctrine is that pregnant mouse. It's quiet. It's stealthy. It comes in when you're not looking, under cover of darkness.  It comes in through the tiniest of doctrinal cracks.

What happens if you leave it alone? If you let it be? If you don't challenge its encroachment into your territory? Don't scream at it, so as not to hurt its feelings? Allow its filthy feet to trample all over your counter where you fix sandwiches for your children? Ignore the fecal matter left behind?

Crispin Glover in 2003 Willard remake
You end up like Willard. And if you remember the original movie or saw the remake, the rats that Willard had trained and thought were his friends, in the end turn on him and eat him up. That is what false doctrine does. It kills you, eating you alive.

Some days I feel like that guy standing there, with so much verminous doctrine around.

BE ALERT

Taking this metaphor further, I was alert in my house. On guard. I detected minute sounds that should not be there. That is how Christians should be in life and in church. Listening for and detecting the first whispers of false doctrines being preached or offered in a curriculum, sounds and whispers that should not be there. Once I heard the sound of the mouse I was fully alert and detecting from whence it came. It helped to have the cats there, with their ability to see and hear things I could not. That is what the Holy Spirit does. He alerts you, aids you and prompts you to what He can see and hear that you cannot. Our fight is with the invisible.

"For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Ephesians 6:12)

BE ACTIVE

Once I heard something that should not be there, I launched into action. I cleaned out my stove and under the sink. I jumped in the car and went to the Dollar Store to buy traps. I came home and immediately set them. I continued to listen and be watchful.

If you detect false doctrine, don't wait a moment. Don't let it go. Don't stand around. The mouse was building a nest because she wanted to have babies. That means more vermin infestation, and soon. The mouse had a very good reason for wanting in. It was not an accident that she was busy settling in to a place she should not be. Soon there would be more, lots more to deal with. Vermin always spreads.

"How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:11-12)

"But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene." (2 Timothy 2:16-17a).

Whether using the example of leaven (yeast) or gangrene, false doctrine spreads from within and affects the whole organism..

Jesus said one of the signs of His soon appearance will be that false prophets will come. In the Olivet Discourse of Matthew 24, He is speaking of the Tribulation.

"For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect." (Matthew 24:24).

However the false teachers that come will pile on more and more throughout the church age. Paul reminds us of that-

"Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived." (2 Timothy 3:12-13)

"The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons” (1 Timothy 4:1).

MacArthur wrote, "We read that in the end times there’s going to be a rise of cults, false religions called by Paul in his letter to Timothy doctrines of devils. We read that in the last days there are going to be apostates who go around denying the Lord that bought them, 2 Peter 2. That things are going to get worse and worse and worse, not better."

The advance of falsity throughout the world and deep inside born-again Christianity is amazing. Just the last few years have seen an incredible change for the worse. Sometimes it seems like too much! There is false teaching everywhere! False teachers encroach into all churches! Oh no, the burden is so great, I've fallen and I can't get up!

But wait! We don't have to protect the world. The genius of how Jesus set things up is that He made us part of His body. We are all connected but perform in different areas and with different gifts. He sent the Spirit to endow us with spiritual gifts and the Spirit enables us to serve Him in maximum fashion within our spheres. The Spirit even gave some five talents and others two talents and still others one talent. So, some have more to do but a greater capacity to do it. God is genius!

I do not have to exterminate the mice in the yurt in Mongolia. I don't have to listen for vermin scratching at the door of the tent in the Amazon. I don't have to wonder if encroachment is happening in the igloo in Sitka. All we have to do is do our best where the Spirit has places us, with the gifts He has given us.

Even though the Matthew 24 discourse relates to the Tribulation, I see the flood of false doctrine, false teachers, false pastors, and false everything coming as a flood. The false teachers came on strong against the first century church and they haven't let up one bit, but only gotten more numerous like mice unattended. Is the end near? The loads of false doctrine we see is a sign. Ultimately because the bible says the end is near, the end is near, (1 Peter 4:7; Romans 13:12) but no one knows the day nor hour. So I don't know, but this is a great verse to think about:

"But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

Just do what you can do with the Lord's talent that He gave you. Be alert, speak up, clean house, pray hard, serve well, love Him, and do it all while waiting for Him. As James said,

"You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near." (James 5:8)

Source

Friday, September 20, 2013

Help! God is in a box! We have to get Him out!

This week I read a book to the kids at school called "Not A Box" by Antoinette Portis. It is a book about imagination. An unseen narrator asks a rabbit, "Why are you sitting in that box?" The ensuing pages record the rabbit's responses, insisting it is not a box, whilst the illustrations show indeed that in the rabbit's mind, the box is indeed something else and the rabbit is busy outside of it.

I write frequently of the absolute integrity and truthfulness of scripture and that the only reason we can say the bible is absolutely true is because it is the revealed word from a living and holy God. His word is contained in the bible and nowhere else. To be sure, we can see His qualities in creation, which revealed His creative power and His divine nature (Romans 1:19-20). But His revealed will to humans? In the bible and the bible alone.

However, Charismatics rely on experience as a standard of what God is revealing to them. They put their experience as high or even higher than the Word as revealed in the bible. If something spiritual happened to them, they believe it is real, and it therefore really reveals something God is doing, or saying, or thinking, or whatever.

When I show that that charismatic experiences count as nothing, that they are unbiblical and unworthy of attention, I receive responses saying, "Don't put God in a box!" Or, "Don't limit God!"

Let's take a look at what a person is really saying when they say those things.

The issue: IS God in a box?

First, God cannot ever be 'put in a box' nor can God ever be 'limited' by humans. The thought is simply absurd. However, as He has chosen to reveal Himself and His will, He is confined to pages of scripture. Secondly, experience never trumps scripture. Ever. You can have all the "passion" you want for God, to the point that at spiritual events you jerk around so much look you like bacon in a fry pan, but that is not truth, it's not doctrine, and it's not from God. That isn't even passion. It's only impulses, and you're being led astray. (2 Timothy 3:6).

If a person has a dream or a vision that is especially vivid, they say it is from God, that God is talking directly to them (And I mean YOU, Beth Moore...Sarah Young...Kim Walker Smith...). They ascribe all due spiritual gravitas to their experience and go about replaying it for any and all who would listen (and many who would not). They make themselves the hero of the story.

If confronted with the fact that though the Spirit is alive and working in sanctified Christians, but that tongues and miracles and signs have ceased, that is when they trot out the charge that by our denying their experience as perfectly and uniquely sent to them by God, we are putting God in a box, and we are limiting Him.

We know He is limitless, that is not the issue. However He has said He will operate in certain ways. During this Church Age He has said that He will use the Spirit to grow us in sanctification and will illuminate the scriptures for us. (John 16:13-14 ). He won't suddenly decide to sky-write the messages He wants us to know. He can. But He won't.

He has said that He listens to prayer as a method of communication. (Philippians 4:6). However, He won't suddenly put notes in our mailbox (like in The Shack) or call us personally. He can. But He won't.

Though we know He is alive, He is in heaven and will not come back until the Day. (Matthew 26:64). He won't appear in our bathroom while we are shaving and put His arm around us. He can. But He won't.

We know He CAN do those things, but we have confidence that He won't. Why? He speaks through His word, His Son, and His Spirit. (2 Timothy 3:16, Hebrews 1:1-2, John 14:17, 1 Corinthians 3:16). He has said how He will operate. He spoke through men to write down His inspired word. And He doesn't break His promises.

"Inspiration is the doctrine that the Bible was written by the influence of God. It is, therefore, without error in the original documents. It is accurate and authoritatively represents God's teachings (2 Tim. 3:16). As such it is a revelation from God which implies direct knowledge about God, creation, man, salvation, the future, etc. It is an illumination in that it shows us what we could not know apart from it. "

We cannot know apart from it. That includes knowing something of God because He supposedly rained gold dust down, or put a thought in your head or seemed to heal a guy at a faith crusade.

Yet the Charismatic will cite John 21:25, "Now there are also many other things that Jesus did. Were every one of them to be written, I suppose that the world itself could not contain the books that would be written." And they will say that "See? Jesus did many other things. We can't limit Him!"

We are not limiting Him by acknowledging what scripture says, that He performed many other wondrous things during His incarnation. It's just that we don't know what they were. Any speculations on what those things were is just that: speculation, guesswork, and vaporous estimations. If God had wanted us to know them, He would have put them in scripture. That He didn't is no excuse to make some up. He told us not to go beyond what is written. (1 Corinthians 4:6)

The truth of the matter:

The problem is, the people who take God out of the box are really people who want to make God into what they want Him to be. It sounds all humble and everything to claim that it is limiting God by sticking to who He says He is in pages of holy writ. But it is really not humility. It's pride. It is pride in their vision, pride in their alleged special relationship to Christ, who, after all, gave them a second blessing when they asked to be 'filled with the Spirit.

His sovereign will is different from His revealed will. He has hidden from us some things He intends to do. The most glaring examples of His inscrutability on some matters are:
--what He was doing before creation and also,
--what we will do in eternity.

His revealed will, however, is just that: revealed. He has set down in words through men via the Spirit what He wants us to know about Him and what He wants us to know about what He plans to do and what he wants us to know to do for Him.

Therefore God IS IN A BOX, at least, as far as the pages of scripture go. And there He will stay this side of the veil.

Because, you see, once we take God out of the box, we make Him into whatever we want Him to be in our imagination. Once you take Him out of the pages of scripture, you say, 'It's not a box. It's a highrise. My God is a fireman."

Erroll Hulse wrote in his book, "The Blessings, Main Problem and Dangers of the Charismatic Experience," that many Charismatics have a "Preoccupation with experience."

"During 1977 a believer described two revivals which he had witnessed in Borneo. The first was classical in the sense that it was typical of revivals down through the centuries. Preaching, conviction of sin, repentance and transformation of life were the predominating features. The second revival which followed a couple of years later was Charismatic in character. The speaker himself reflected the impact that the second revival had made upon him personally. He gave description after description of visions, exorcisms, healings, spirit baptisms and sensational events such as preservation in the jungle and the moving of lights in meetings. One felt while listening to this account that the Word of God had been supplanted by all the externals. It is possible to become so enamoured with the extraordinary and with excitements and sensational happenings that such matters become the daily diet of believers. Eventually it is all they can talk about which is the hallmark of most Charismatic books. Scripture is supplanted by the narration of events which goes on ad infinitum."



When you take God out of the box (pages of scripture) then you can say "It's not a box. My God is a robot. But that's OK if your God is a fireman. It would be limiting God by making Him be a definite thing."

Many Charismatics who want God out of that box claim that by us conservatives sticking to scripture, we are denying the powerful work of the Holy Spirit. Not so. The great theologian J. Gresham Machan wrote,

Meanwhile we have the Holy Spirit, and we have the Scripture of the Old and New Testaments that the Holy Spirit uses. Much mischief has been wrought in the church by false notions of ‘the witness of the Spirit’; it has sometimes been supposed that the Holy Spirit makes us independent of the Bible. Just the opposite is the case.

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He does not contradict in one generation what He has said in another. He does not contradict the Scriptures that He himself has given. On the contrary, what He really does is to make the words of Scripture glow with a heavenly light and burn in the hearts of men. Those Scriptures are placed in your hands. You may not say with the prophets of old: ‘God has spoken directly and independently to me; I appeal to no external authority; when I speak it is “Thus saith the Lord.”’ But you can do something else. You can mount your pulpit stairs; open reverently the Bible on the desk; pray to the gracious Spirit to make plain the words that He has spoken; and so unfold to needy people the Word of God.

Taking God out of the box (pages of scripture) opens one up to all sorts of mischief, as Machen wrote. We ascribe works to Him that He did not do. We ascribe attributes to Him He does not possess. We ascribe writings to Him He did not inspire. Taking God out of the box once too often, and you may find that it is satan you have loosed in your life, and not the Holy Spirit.

Hulse concludes,
Source

Jesus is Lord indeed. He has been exalted, crowned, celebrated and is adulated because he has procured our justification by the agonies on the cross. Any obscuring of that, his greatest achievement, is to defame his glory. If experience is permitted to gobble up doctrine, if love is allowed to devour principle, if sentiment is suffered to obscure justification by faith only — then how will the world’s multitudes be saved? How can Jesus be Lord for them? Satan will continue to have his dominion over them. Those who are ready to unite on the basis of love and common Charismatic experience at the expense of Justification should remember that in doing so they will be celebrating the lordship of Satan, not the Lordship of Christ.

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Further Reading

What We Talk About When We Say "You Can't Put God in a Box (essay)

Is Experience a Valid Test of Truth? (sermon series)

One clear reason why Beth Moore is a false teacher:
Examining Beth Moore's vision: the 'Bride is paralyzed by unbelief'

God in a Box: Limiting Miracles is not Limiting God, Pt 1 (essay)


Questions: Preaching Christ from every text?, Muslim dreams, Female submission

Here are answers to some pressing questions I've seen asked over the last few weeks. Should we preach Christ from every text? Answer:...