Tuesday, December 31, 2013

By The Numbers 2013: how many earthquakes this year?

As the New Year enters and the old year departs, it is time for me to produce my annual By The Numbers, year in review. It has no particular meaning, other than it demonstrates that either I have too much time on my hands, or I enjoy research and manipulation of data as a hobby. Both, I think!

A few years ago I became interested in the schism between what I saw were definite increased numbers of global earthquakes and the US Geological Survey's equally definite insistence that quakes were not increasing. I decided to look into the data, using their own numbers, benchmarks, and search engines. Well guess what? Earthquakes were increasing.

Jesus said that His coming would be preceded by signs. Some of these signs are emotional, such as men becoming greedy, loveless, brutal, etc, as listed in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. Some of the prophesied signs are religious, such as apostasy rising among the professing church, false doctrine being accepted, and a loss of discernment, as many verses in 1 John, 1 Thessalonians, and other passages tell us. Some of the signs would be geophysical or celestial. There will be earthquakes in diverse places, the seas will be roaring, there will be signs in the skies and so on.

Most of those signs mentioned in the passages, notably Matthew 24, Luke 21, and Revelation 6, are going to occur in the Tribulation period. However, the signs Jesus enumerated and are listed elsewhere in the Old and New Testaments are for the entire church age and will continue into the Tribulation. The church age is between the moment Jesus ascended (Acts 1:11) and when He calls for His bride, ending the Age of Grace. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52). The Tribulation period will begin the moment after the rapture and finish when Jesus returns to the Mount of Olives. (Zechariah 14:4). His signs of return are spread throughout the church age and then are clustered heavily well into the Tribulation.

As Jesus likened the signs to birth pangs, and birth pangs increase as the event nears, so will the signs increase. I could look at numbers of baptisms to determine if apostasy is rising, or number of crimes to see if lovelessness is increasing, but there is a large element of subjectivity to them. Instead I just concentrate on the geophysical signs presented in hard data because there is a lesser amount of subjectivity included in the results. It is in that context that I put together an annual look at the data than can be quantified.

One final caveat: we don't need signs to tell us Jesus is coming, because He said He is coming and that is all we need to know. I do this out of curiosity and interest, not because we need validation from scientific sources for the certainty of His appearing.

Meanwhile we can learn from the lessons every disaster gives us. John MacArthur's church is in California. In January 1994 a tremendous earthquake occurred. It is known as the Northridge quake. The earthquake had a "strong" moment magnitude (Mw) of 6.7, but the ground acceleration was one of the highest ever instrumentally recorded in an urban area in North America.

The epicenter was practically underneath Grace Community Church. Five days later, Dr MacArthur delivered a sermon titled "Lessons from the Earthquake." It is a tremendously relevant and insightful sermon, and I urge you to read to or listen to it. Here are the main bullet points he shared. In every calamity, there are many lessons for the Christian, and many other, separate lessons for the non-Christian. He preached 7 lessons for each.

Lessons for Christians
God is sovereign,
What is eternal can't be destroyed,
Disaster produces dependence on God,
Adversity enriches fellowship,
Suffering makes us long for the perfect kingdom,
Calamity strengthens us to serve others,
What is the greatest calamity can bring God the most glory.

Lessons for not Christians
For those unprepared to die, lesson number one, life is fragile,
There are limits to self-protection,
Death is inevitable,
We live in a cursed world,
Temporal disasters are only previews of coming attractions,
God uses calamity to call people to repentance,
Time is limited to heed the warning.

Time is limited. All of history is dwindling down to the moment when Jesus will return, and judge the living and the dead for all eternity. THAT is the main lesson I share with you. Repent, while there is still time. Let these statistics and notes be a lesson to you and to us all through the year: life is fragile, and to enter death unprepared is an eternal tragedy.

WEATHER

"The 2013 extreme weather events included several all-time temperature records in Northern and Southern Hemisphere. The February extent of snow cover in Eurasia and North America was above average, while the extent of Arctic ice in the same month was 4,5% below the 1981–2010 average." (source)


There were lots of record high temperatures, and record lows. It snowed in Cairo Egypt, and in many other places in the usually arid and snowless Middle East. Typhoon Haiyan was the largest storm on record. "With sustained wind speeds of more than 310 kilometres per hour, Haiyan was the most powerful tropical cyclone to make landfall in recorded history. ... Unusually warm subsurface Pacific waters appear to have endowed Haiyan with the energy that made it the strongest typhoon ever known to make landfall." (source)

TORNADOES

Though the top deadliest tornadoes occurred in the 1800s and the early part of the 1900s, tornadoes in the new millennium have some notable aspects.

Notable events for the 2013 tornado year were-
--A general under-performance of tornado activity continued for the second straight year across the United States during 2013,
--The largest tornado outbreaks occurred in times typically not noted as the main tornado season,
--Two confirmed violent tornadoes that passed through New Minden and Washington, IL. are "the only violent tornadoes on record in Illinois during the month". (Tornadoes.com)
--On May 20, 2013an EF5 tornado struck Moore, Oklahoma - the first EF5 tornado to occur in nearly two years. (Wikipedia)

Notable events for the tornado year 2011 were:
--553 people in the United States died, compared to 564 US deaths in the prior ten years combined. (Wikipedia)
--The April 25–28, 2011 tornado outbreak is the most prolific tornado outbreak in US history. It produced approximately 358 tornadoes, with 209 of those in a single 24-hour period on April 27. (Wikipedia)
--The May 22, 2011 Joplin MO tornado is the 7th deadliest US tornado on record, with 162 deaths

General note:
--Four of the top ten costliest tornadoes occurred in the last two years. Costliest tornadoes number 1 and 2 were the April-May 2011 Joplin MO and Tuscaloosa Alabama tornadoes, and 3rd, the May 2013 Moore OK, and 4th, Hackleburg, Alabama in April 2011.

2004, 2008, and 2011 were the highest number of tornado years. Click to enlarge


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LIGHTNING

I know the men at the Weather Service have been working for many years to get lightning information out to people. I think - hope- this graph shows their efforts are working.

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Dave Barry wrote a laugh out loud, hilarious review of the year. I mean Laugh. Out. Loud. In it, Barry said, "the economy's been recovering for years now without actually getting any better." He's right. But at least the bank bailout has been successful. Fewer banks are failing. But there are still more failing in this decade than at the beginning of the millennium.
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VOLCANOES

The go-to database for searching eruptions is Smithsonian Volcano Project. However, they shut their database down recently for searching with filters. So I can't get good volcano information. Here is an article from The Atlantic, though the first sentences drive me crazy:

2013: The Year in Volcanic Activity
"This been a particularly eventful year for the world's volcanoes. Out of an estimated 1,500 active volcanoes, 50 or so erupt every year, spewing steam, ash, toxic gases, and lava."

OK...so if this was a 'particularly eventful year' and 50 volcanoes erupt every year, how does this year compare?? Did 60 volcanoes erupt? 70? 1000? How many eruptions over 50 qualifies as a 'particularly eventful year?' But the article does have lots of beautifully photographed volcano eruptions.

This was interesting, from Dec 29: El Salvador's Chaparrastique volcano erupts for first time in 37 years , and there was this

Seven Volcanoes In Six Different Countries All Start Erupting Within Hours Of Each Other "A new island has appeared in the Pacific. A submarine eruption just off Nishino-Shima Island Japan has erupted for the first time in 40 years. The Japanese Navy noticed the explosions as boiling lava met sea water giving rise to plumes of steam and ash."

The Extinction Protocol person published a volcano report which got a lot of attention, and I looked into it but can't see where he got his data from. Caveat Emptor:

2013 marks record year for the number of volcanoes erupting across the planet (as of Dec 5, 2013)
"This year will go down on record, as seeing the most volcanic eruptions recorded in modern history. The previous number was set in 2010, at 82 volcanic eruptions for the year. The number of volcanoes erupting across the planet has been steadily rising from a meager number of just 55 recorded in 1990."

He also said that all the planet's supervolcanoes are in a phase of simultaneous inflation, but...I dunno. Caveat Caveat Emptor.

EARTHQUAKES

Here is the updated chart of the global number of earthquakes in various magnitudes. USGS benchmarks are seen in the left-most column. Numbers in red indicate meeting or exceeding those benchmarks. Click to enlarge.

This science researcher named "R. Webb" in the UK looked into long, long-term trends, over centuries. He reports of earthquake trends,
"Apart from the "long-term" trends... which show an ongoing persistent increase, it is perhaps more stark to record that earthquakes across the planet show a marked increase in activity since 1997. There are more major earthquakes occurring now, and this on an ever more frequent basis. 

Trends since 1986

For example, between 1986 and 1996 (incl), a period of 11 years, there were "just" 15 earthquakes listed by USGS of magnitude 7.0 or greater. This is not markedly different (albeit a slight decrease) from previous (similar periods) of 20th century, where an average of about 18 might be expected.

But between 1997 and 2007 (incl), a period of only 11 years, there were 99 earthquakes with magnitude 7.0 or greater : This is more than a six-fold increase on the previous similar period - and is a stark increase on any earlier decades in 20th century too.


His estimation of there being 190 quakes greater than 7.0 magnitude during the 38 year period between 1977 and 2014 was grossly underestimated. There were 583! (as of Dec 31, 2013)

The trends in nature here, particularly from 1997 support the wider realisation of prophesy about the "End Times", namely that an increase in earthquake activity is a per-requisite for the "second coming of Jesus Christ" foretold in the bible. It does not indicate how close we are to this event, but suggests it is not too far away. ...Although Jesus is clear that no one will know the day or the hour, and his return will indeed happen “when you do not expect”, he does give us broad pointers, one of these being natural events – like earthquakes. (source)

Broad pointer...I agree. And as John MacArthur advises, there are lessons to be learned in each and every calamity. These aren't just numbers on a page but lives affected, deaths injuries, lives changes. As always, be in prayer for the people affected by disasters, and be in prayer that the Lord should come soon. May 2014 be the year of the rapture.

Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.  
2 Timothy 4:8

 

Everyone's literal about sin until you bring up homosexuality

In the crucible of what passes for discussion about the sin of homosexuality, I've noticed an insidious acceptance in Christians of one of the conditions that the gay lobby insists we make. This acceptance has crept in and is in fact a double standard. It is akin to the scenes in the old Seinfeld episode "The Outing." Let me explain.

Twenty years ago, in an episode of the comedy sitcom "Seinfeld," Jerry Seinfeld and George Costanza, lifelong buddies, are mistaken for a homosexual couple, and "strenuously deny that they are gay, conditioning their denials with 'Not that there's anything wrong with that.' The line would soon afterward become a catchphrase. Jason Alexander maintains that it is the most popular to originate from the series. The episode earned a GLAAD award. (source)

In each case when the catchphrase was uttered, the person would shrug, throw up their hands in a mock submission and shake their head. See this 17 second compilation:



In discussing homosexuality today, immediate ire rises from all quarters unless homosexuality is couched in the most glowing of terms. If a person does not give hearty approval to homosexuality, (Romans 1:32), one is immediately scourged. The scourging is fast, immediate, and vicious. Just ask Phil Robertson.

If it were up to the homosexual lobby, no one would ever mention homosexuality as a sin. Evah. Failing that, the double standard now is that we can't mention homosexuality as a sin unless we also mention all the other sins too, at the same time. To paraphrase many of the other discussions I've read, such as Rachel Held Evans's question, "Why is homosexuality the great biblical debate of this decade and not slavery?" a discussion along those "not that there's anything wrong with that" lines might go like this-

"Homosexuality is a sin".
"Wait just a minute, bub. Gossip is a sin, what about that? Or envy, that's a sin too. And drunkenness. Why single out homosexuality? Hey, bub, there's lots of sins. Not that there aren't other sins too!"

We are now supposed to cushion the sting of stating sodomy is a sin by including it in a list of all other sins.

The double standard enters in because the reverse is not true.

"Murder is a sin."
"Wait just a minute, bub. Homosexuality is a sin, too. What about that? You didn't mention that one. Or envy, that's a sin. And drunkenness. Why single out murder? Hey, bub, there's lots of sins. Why aren't you talking about them, too?"

"Gluttony is a sin"
"Wait just a minute, bub. Homosexuality is a sin, too. What about that? You didn't mention that one. Or drunkenness, that's a sin. And anger. Why single out gluttony? Hey, bub, there's lots of sins. Why aren't you talking about them, too?"

We have allowed ourselves to substitute the phrase, "Not that there's anything wrong with that" with "Not that there aren't any other sins!" And throwing up our hands in a mock submission and shaking our heads, in vain attempts to stave off anger and vicious comebacks.

Don't fall for it. This is just a temporary compromise to the gay lobby's ultimate goal: full-on prohibition of any talk of homosexuality being mentioned as a sin at all. (Romans 1:32 again). It's a diversionary tactic.

It is a given that we understand there are many sins. Lists and lists of them are given in the bible. (Romans 1:29-31, 2 Corinthians 12:20, 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Jude 1:16). Committing even one of them disqualifies a person from heaven and Jesus is great enough to forgive them, no matter how many you committed. If a person is talking about the greatness of Jesus in His ability and desire to forgive any and all sins, then by all means, list the bunch of them to illustrate the breadth of His mercy and grace! That's what Phil Robertson was doing when he mentioned a hearty selection of sins, not just the one that must not be mentioned.

Even then, you see the gay lobby can't ever be satisfied, because they complained that in mentioning homosexuality together with a bunch of other sins, he was comparing homosexuality to them...you see the pointlessness of caving even an inch to their demands.

But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. (Galatians 2:5)While the discussion may legitimately call for an expanded list of sins, it is not necessary to hide homosexuality within a larger list of sins just to make it palatable to the LGBT lobby. If the discussion is about the sin of gossip, then the discussion will be about gossip. No one will suggest including adultery in the talk because it is in some way perversely fair to all the other sins to mention them too.

So if the discussion arises about homosexuality, it is disingenuous to force an inclusion of all sins along with homosexuality. Homosexuality is not a protected class of sins, and it has biblical merit as a discussion point all on its own.

Here is where some, like Rachel Held Evans, make the mistake of selective literalism. The doctrinally ignorant will insist that if we are going to take the bible literally and include homosexuality as a literal sin (all I can picture is Sheldon saying 'Literally? Literally?') then we must also wear head coverings and gouge out our eyes if looking lustfully at another woman. Because, let's be literal. It's just another diversionary tactic.

Evans wrote: "We may laugh at these examples or dismiss them silly, but the biblical language employed in these contexts is actually pretty strong: eating shellfish is an abomination, a bare head is a disgrace, gossips will not inherit the kingdom of God, careless words are punishable by hell, guys who leer at women should gouge out their eyes."

Below is a parable of incorrect biblical literalism as acted by the Big Bang Theory's Zack, posed by Evans above:


Correct use of literally:

So if you're discussing homosexuality as a literal and factual sin and that is the topic, don't feel you have to say "Not that there aren't other sins too!" We don't bow in subjection to them for even a moment, give not an inch. Here's why. Going back to the Galatians 2:5 verse above,

"The unyielding stand of Paul and Barnabas and their strong support by the Jerusalem apostles and leaders was to show the Judaizers that from now on, no Judaizer could ever say that Paul deceived you. No Judaizer could ever say that the prominent leaders of Jerusalem agree with us, not him..." (source)

Don't cave. Stay strong. Speak plainly the truth of the bible, not compromising its truths where and when we are called to proclaim them. Otherwise, all too soon, "Not that there aren't other sins too!" literally will become, "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"



"If you cannot be positive, then at least be quiet"- Christian, before you press share on that Facebook quote...

There is a quote going around among Facebook that I'd like to address. Here it is:


On the surface, it seems like a good goal, right? In the vein of making New Year resolutions, it seems like a pretty good thing to resolve. I'll press re-share! After all, Ephesians 4:29 says let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths and speak only what builds up. I'm on board with this.

Wait just a second. I'd like to plea for Christians to stop and think for a moment before sharing or posting. Think of what the quote really says when you consider the source. It is actually a chocolate wrapped cockroach. This quote is exactly the kind of subtle lie that satan spoke in the garden.

When we first meet the devil, we are told off the bat that he is the most subtle creature of all. (Genesis 3:1). He is crafty. Shortly after we were introduced to satan, satan became the god of this world. (2 Corinthians 4:4). He is actually in charge of the world system (as far as God lets him). Since satan is a liar and the father of lies, (John 8:44), and he is in charge of the world system, then the world system is a lie. (HT to Todd Friel for that syllogism).

So what could be harmful or deceptive about such a positive statement as quoted above? It goes like this:

Joel Osteen says it is not positive to speak of sin or judgment- so he doesn't. Even though as a preacher he is supposed to give the whole counsel of God, he decided that speaking of the unsavory things in the bible is "not his calling." He would also disagree on marking and avoiding false teachers as Romans 16:17-18 says to do. Osteen starves his followers of the spiritual bread they need by refusing to speak what he defines as negative, and therefore unnecessary, and only speaks what he deems as positive.

In this subtle way, Osteen gets Christians to remain quiet about confronting sin.

Another way the quote is deceptively harmful to our witness is that Osteen is a Word-Faith preacher.
He says that what we proclaim can impact and even create our reality. Osteen really believes that saying positive declarations aloud will make them come true. This is a false doctrine called positive confession.

"Positive confession is the practice of saying aloud what you want to happen with the expectation that God will make it a reality." (source)

Osteen says negative speech demonstrates that we lack the kind of faith God requires us to show Him if He is going to fulfill the promises He is 'duty bound' to fulfill- but only if we stay positive. However,

"[T]the Bible is very clear that 'negative confession' does not negate God’s blessings." (source)

So in this vein I disagree with Osteen's statement "If you cannot be positive, then at least be quiet," because I know what he means by it- and it is not biblical. Alternately, if a person chooses to remain quiet according to the bible's definition (and the two are NOT the same) then I agree.
  • Ephesians 4:29 says let no unwholesome talk come out of our mouths and speak only what builds up.
  • Ecclesiastes 10:12 says words from the mouth of the wise are gracious, but fools are consumed by their own lips.
  • Colossians 3:8 says But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips,
  • Colossians 4:6 says in part, Let your speech be always with grace,

There is no such thing as a good statement from a false teacher. The bible says, "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits." (Matthew 7:17-20.)

(Source)
Even in a case where the statement seems good and wholesome, coming from an evil and devilish source, it means the quote is evil also. It's tainted by its unseen evil agenda. The bible says, “Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.” “The venom of asps is under their lips.”(Romans 3:13).

Throat, tongue, lips; you see that no part of where an evil person speaks from is safe from the venom that permeates their speech before it escapes their body.

Because satan is so deceptive, he packages deception in pleasant-looking bundles. In this way, even a "positive" quote is poison.

The bible is full of admonitions regarding a Christian's speech. And, it has the ultimate advantage of being the most impeccable source. There are many good preachers of the past and present to quote, and it is good to do so. However, if you are unsure of a the quoted person's Christian credibility, you can't go wrong quoting the word of God.

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Further Reading

Got Questions: Is there power in positive confession?

Al Mohler: ‘Staying in His Lane’ — Joel Osteen’s Gospel of Affirmation Without Salvation

Monday, December 30, 2013

Looking backward to mark forward progress

After Jesus justifies us, the Holy Spirit comes to live inside us to help us resist unholy desires, and to grow us in Christ-likeness. He helps us resist the "old man" (Romans 6:6) and creates in us a "new man." (Ephesians 4:24). This process is called progressive sanctification.

Progressive sanctification

"Indeed, the more sanctified the person is, the more conformed he is to the image of his Savior, the more he must recoil against every lack of conformity to the holiness of God. The deeper his apprehension of the majesty of God, the greater the intensity of his love to God, the more persistent his yearning for the attainment of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, the more conscious will he be of the gravity of the sin that remains and the more poignant will be his detestation of it....Was this not the effect in all the people of God as they came into closer proximity to the revelation of God’s holiness." -John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied

Even as the old man fades away, the new man is budding. EPrata photo
Sanctification is hard to see, and it is easy to see. It is hard to detect because the Spirit's work is invisible. Like the minute progress of a blade of grass, you know it is growing but you can't see the actual growth as it occurs. All you know is that one day you drive down your driveway and you notice the grass and you say, "Gee, I should mow the lawn."

"The growth of trees and plants takes place so slowly that it is not easily seen. Daily we notice little change. But, in course of time, we see that a great change has taken place. So it is with grace. Sanctification is a progressive, lifelong work (Prov 4:18). It is an amazing work of God's grace and it is a work to be prayed for (Rom 8:27)." ~John Owen, The Holy Spirit

On the other hand, the process of sanctification in a person is easy to see because His work bears fruit.

Does your life bear fruit? Evidence of sanctification? EPrata
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23).

I got a glimpse of it when I was looking up my Amazon.com account. I was searching for a book I'd ordered earlier in the year whose name I couldn't remember. Yes, that is evidence of aging, not sanctification! If I don't write it down it's gone forever, seems like. Anyway, then I saw that I could go back and review my orders year by year. Curious, I went backwards as far as my account went, for me that was from 2013 back to 1997. First of all, I was startled to see evidence that I'd been an Amazon customer for 17 years! Secondly, it is very interesting to look backwards at the journey I was making, unknown at the time, toward Christ. Here was graphic proof, in the form of dozens of book covers...

I was justified and saved by His grace in January 2004. (Well really late Dec 2003 but for ease of  chronicling purposes, say beginning of 2004).

In 1997, '98, '99 most of my purchases were of music. Mostly blues. Some Christmas presents were mixed in, and there were sprinkled in purchases my husband was making on my account also. If I bought a book, it was either politics, culture, or crafts. I was not interested in spiritual things, at least, not enough to buy and read a book about it.

In 2000, '01, and '02 suddenly my purchases were all on the topic of spirituality. I'd gotten got very spiritual. I was at first buying stuff about the Native American religions and bought a lot of books on that topic. Music too. Then the book-buys gravitated to nature/earth religions like shamanism and animal knowledge etc and the merchandise I was buying reflected that interest. Female power and goddesses and women wisdom. Then came the meditation and Buddhism phase. Lots of spirituality that was "inner" and Gnostic. Plus, candles. Oy.

In 2003 my purchases abruptly reflected a drastic turn for the dark side. I was consumed with books on demons and vampires and seamy mixtures of the two. Kundalini and serpent power and tantra and worse. It was stunning to see the rapid turn that my allegedly lighthearted former spiritual interests took into the hellish side. Of course, all spirituality that does not stem from Jesus IS from the dark side, but I didn't know that at the time. And it shows me it does not take long for satan to draw a person experimenting with "spirituality" ever deeper into bondage and away from the Light. I was sinking fast.

I believe 2003's purchases were graphically reflective of the spiritual warfare going on in me and all around me.

In January 2004 I was saved! Praise God in the highest for His grace. My book purchases started lightening up. I was still interested in unholy angels for a while, but from a more sanctified perspective. "Who are they? How did they get that way? Can they be saved?" Like that. There was a short spate of interest in modern-day prophets and books from false teacher C Peter Wagner, and 'creating your own reality', personal-power kind of books. Even as a newbie to the faith I rapidly discerned that books like those were not profitable. Thank you Holy Spirit for your discerning wisdom you impart! Then I was interested in holy angels, church life, and then abruptly, since 2005, my purchases became heavily theological- and centered on Christ.

Even then I can see the progression from light theology to deep theology. From "9 Marks of a Healthy Church" and "How to be an Expository Listener" to books about church history, to the Puritans such as Thomas Manton, "Counterfeit Miracles" by BB Warfield, and finally to this day, Jerry Bridges books and a LOT of books by modern day theologian John MacArthur. I think his "Because The Time is Near" is my all-time favorite.

For your New Year resolution, make a determination to look out with refreshed eyes from His inner position of sanctification through your life, your living space, your stuff. Sort and ruthlessly remove anything that could be a stumbling block. Because, they're there.

Every once in a while I go around the house and remove things which are not profitable, and this includes books. All the books I mentioned above I have long since thrown into the garbage. I review my bookshelf occasionally not only to refresh me as to what is there (and so I'll know what I can give away if someone mentions an author) but to remove anything that my increased sanctification shows is not edifying.

Progressive Sanctification

"True believers grow. When God begins a true work of salvation in a person, He finishes and perfects that work. Paul expressed that assurance when he wrote in Philippians 1:6, "being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ." If you are a true Christian, you are going to be growing-and that means you are going to be more and more like Christ. Life produces itself. If you're alive you are going to grow, there's no other way. You'll improve. You'll increase. The Spirit will move you from one level of glory to the next. So examine your life. Do you see spiritual growth? Do you see the decreasing frequency of sin? Is there an increasing pattern of righteousness and devotion to God?" ~John MacArthur

Sanctification is a process by which the Spirit opens your eyes and conforms your self to Jesus. The Spirit's ministry is to point to Him, and away from ourselves and unholy things. Resolve to look with refreshed eyes at your wants and needs, but also your clothes, books, art hanging on the wall, knick-knacks, etc. If you are saved, you have grown. Look to see how much. So then you can praise the Spirit and thank the Christ and submit to the father and do it all over again. Pick up your cross daily, and, my brethren, grow by His Spirit!

Photo by EPrata
"The soul of a true Christian, as I then wrote my meditations, appeared like such a little white flower as we see in the spring of the year; low and humble on the ground, opening its bosom to receive the pleasant beams of the sun's glory; rejoicing as it were in a calm rapture; diffusing around a sweet fragrancy; standing peacefully and lovingly, in the midst of other flowers round about; all in like manner opening their bosoms to drink in the light of the sun. There was no part of creature holiness, that I had so great a sense of its loveliness, as humility, brokenness of heart and poverty of spirit; and there was nothing that I so earnestly longed for. My heart panted after this - to lie low before God, as in the dust; that I might be nothing, and that God might be all, that I might become as a little child." ~Jonathan Edwards

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Creation Grace: Fragility

"Heaven and earth will pass away,
but my words will not pass away."
(Luke 21:33)

We think of the earth as something solid, firm, lasting forever. Some believe it has been here for billions of years and will remain for billions more. In truth, the earth is passing away as we speak, and it is no more firm than above bubbles children at a festival were trying to burst.

The fragility of life is seen in the gossamer web spoken of in Jonathan Edwards' Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God sermon:

"Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider's web would have to stop a falling rock."

The fragility of our lives, of our deeds, of the very earth is no more solid than the walls of Jericho which fell without warning, (Joshua 6:20)  and the Tower of Siloam,which fell without warning. (Luke 13:4). So it will be for the Great Wall of China, which seems so strong and sturdy,

CC photo, use w/attribution, Fabien Dany - www.fabiendany.com
Even now, it is crumbling
CC photo, by Bill Price III
The earth is fragile, cracked and quaking even as we speak-

US Geological Survey
"The earth staggers like a drunken man; it sways like a hut; its transgression lies heavy upon it,
and it falls, and will not rise again."
(Isaiah 24:20)

Our lives, our deeds, the very earth is fragile. The breath we draw is fleeting. No more substantial than the silk of a gossamer web, no more sturdy than a butterfly wing, no more lasting than a bubble ascending to some height, only to vanish in its evanescence and be no more.

Jesus lasts forever. He is the eternal, the substantial, the durably secure shelter in which we cling.

"The Rock, his work is perfect, for all his ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and upright is he." (Deuteronomy 32:4)

Hide thy fragile self in Him, the Rock of Ages!



Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Guardian Liberty Voice asks the prophetic question: "Could Pope Francis Be a Modern-Day Jesus?"

There is no doubt that Pope Francis is the rock star religious celebrity of the day. His humble attitude, message of tolerance and unity, and his rapport among people have endeared him to millions, despite his tenure has so far lasted less than one year. He was chosen man of the year by Time Magazine. He has an 88% approval rating among US Catholics. Why is he so popular? And why is he being likened to a modern day Jesus?

Catholic Online wondered the same thing about his popularity, and wrote yesterday, "The secret to Pope Francis' fame REVEALED"

They like that he doesn't act like a televangelist, megachurch pastor, or a king (though Pope Francis is a king) by succumbing to the lavish lifestyle so many in his position or level of wealth take as their due.

"He deliberately lives as impoverished a lifestyle as possible, lives in a Vatican guest house, eats with the staff, and mingles with the public far beyond what his security detail thinks prudent. He has expressed, on several occasions, his desire for the Church to be "a poor church, for the poor."

This is a strange statement coming from a man who accepted the globe's only absolute monarchy worth an estimated 110 billion dollars today (source Time Magazine estimation of the Vatican's worth in 1965, adjusted for 2013 dollars). I wonder if the Pope would give away 100 billion of the money, keeping "only" 10 bn for expenses? Or alternately, how can a poor church help the poor, if it's poor? So it seems that the people like that Pope Francis pretends to be poor.

"There seems to be no end to the public fascination with Pope Francis. While the Pope is the Vicar of Christ and is expected to serve as God's representative on Earth, complete with splendid regalia, Pope Francis actually walks and talks like a living saint. ... Why does he capture our attention? The ordinary man, the person who has no hope of incredible wealth or power, sees Pope Francis who has all the access, money and power that a man can have, and he watches Francis turn away from it. Pope Francis chooses humble garments, lunch with homeless men and their dog, to ride in the back seat of a compact car, and to make sandwiches for the people who are meant to wait on him. Has the modern world seen a better example of a holy man?

Pope Francis has not turned away from incredible wealth. He is the the only absolute monarch on the planet and sole manager of the largest amassed wealth and treasure on the planet. Turning away from it would mean he declined to be Pope. "I do not seek, nor will I accept..." But no, Pope Francis accepted the papal office and all the wealth, luxury, and power that comes with it.

Anyway, that is a slight bit of background as to this new religious rock star we have on our hands. On to the article that asked if he is a modern-day Jesus, though the previous article asked pretty much the same question already. The people love Pope Francis because he brings a message the lost and carnal world wants to hear. Jesus came to bring a sword, to show the way was narrow and exclusive. To show we are condemned in our sins but He is the Good News. Pope Frances says he brings a white flag of peace, a message of love and unity for all who are all on one broad path, holding hands and singing kumbayah. To the lost, this is a better Jesus.

Pope Francis gave a speech in St. Peter's Basilica balcony the other day. It was his first Christmas message. The article below pounced on the Pope's message of love, tolerance, and unity, digging in like a lion on a wildebeest.

"In a world where many of today’s clergy seek to tear down anyone or religion that doesn’t line up completely with what they believe, the Pope is sweeping through the world like a breath of fresh air. Francis has chosen not to waste time with different persuasions of belief or religions; instead he focuses on what’s most important in the world: a message of love, hope and peace. ... While the fallen nature of mankind loves religion, since it bolsters the ego and boots one’s self esteem, Jesus came to bring the gift of relationship which includes a message of love, hope and peace; much like Pope Francis." (source)

Oh my.

The false, satirical message "Pope declares all religions are true" that Snopes recently debunked, and the real message Pope Francis has consistently brought so far this year, are hard to tell apart because essentially, the pope does say all religions are true. He even says atheists and unbelievers can get in. "He realizes that atheists and agnostics are people of good intentions and good morals with whom we want to work closely,” said Martin," explained the culture editor of 'America Magazine.'

BTW, Billy Graham said the same thing. If you have good intentions and good morals and lived a sincere life, you're in. I am not making this up.

Here is the snopes-debunked satirical Pope message:

"...because Muslims, Hindus and African Animists are also made in the very likeness and image of God, to hate them is to hate God! To reject them to is to reject God and the Gospel of Christ. Whether we worship at a church, a synagogue, a mosque or a mandir, it does not matter. Whether we call God, Jesus, Adonai, Allah or Krishna, we all worship the same God of love. This truth is self-evident to all who have love and humility in their hearts!"

It doesn't sound so different from the real pope's message, does it?

Shortly after he took papal office, Pope Francis said that peoples from different faiths are united under God, it sent shock waves throughout the Catholic Church. This is because for two thousand years, the Catholic Church said said anyone who is not a Catholic is anathema (cursed) and is going to hell. Now the RC message -via Pope Francis- has changed. Don't overlook the significance of that.

The bible says that the entire church age will be filled with false teachers and the spirit of antichrists (1 John 2:18) but it will get a lot worse by the end of the end. This following verse could be speaking to all popes from then until now!

"And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.” And he said to them, “You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!" (Mark 7:6-9)

The Pope is a false prophet, having the spirit of antichrist, and with his popularity and his espousing of the prophesied message of peace and ecumenism we know will come to fruition in the Tribulation, he is certainly a good candidate for the Antichrist. He is laying the groundwork anyway.

As the antichrist will be, Pope Francis is also concerned with the economy, with the poor and disenfranchised, and wants to stop their exclusion from the economy and include them. Just a few weeks ago. Daily Kos said "Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as "a new tyranny", urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff," calling it "a scathing critique of modern capitalism in an 84-page document, known as an apostolic exhortation, and which amounts to an official platform for his papacy and the Roman Catholic Church."

Pope Francis is setting the platform for all the precepts the antichrist is prophesied to espouse.

We know that in the Tribulation one man will hold sway. It will be his dictates on economy, finance, and religion that will cause the entire world to worship Him and swear allegiance (except for the people who come to faith after the rapture and become martyrs, the Tribulation Saints).

It is a hard thing to see the sweep of popery come across the world with such renewed vigor. It is a worse thing to see popery, Catholicism, and its Roman mysticism intertwine within the precious walls of the Christian evangelical faith, heresies brought in by many, including Beth Moore!

We mourn for Pope Francis in his lost state, and all the Catholics who are also lost. See how Spurgeon puts it. Charles Spurgeon said of popery:

It is the bounden duty of every Christian to pray against Anti-Christ, and as to what Anti-Christ is no sane man ought to raise a question. If it be not Popery in the Church of Rome there is nothing in the world that can be called by that name…because it wounds Christ, because it robs Christ of His Glory, because it puts sacramental efficacy in the place of His atonement, and lifts a piece of bread in the place of the Saviour, and a few drops of water in place of the Holy Ghost, and puts a fallible man like ourselves up as the Vicar of Christ on earth; if we pray against it, because it is against Him, we shall love the persons though we hate their errors; we shall love their souls though we loath and detest their dogmas, and so the breath of our prayers will be sweetened, because we turn our faces towards Christ when we pray.

We turn our faces toward the true Christ, His message, and His statutes. He is the One whom all knees will bow, including all kings, sultans...and popes. (Revelation 6:15-17).

Marriage is to be between a man and a woman, yes, even in this day and age

I think Rachel Held Evans, the author of a Year of Biblical Womanhood, has revived an essay she wrote, in which my blog essay mentioning her is linked to. In any case, though the blog entry is months old, I am suddenly receiving a LOT of traffic from and to. The subject is homosexuality.

Given the culture war regarding this particular sin, especially the explosive week regarding the Duck Dynasty controversy, and given that there are many eyes reading or re-reading these essays, I'll speak to the subject again.

Homosexuality is the last battleground in a culture that is fighting to live or die. In Romans 1, Paul laid out in the inspired word, a process which a culture undergoes when it is rejecting God. It begins with individual's suppression of the truth in unrighteousness, and continues worse as more and more people in that culture suppress the truth. As they do, God judges them and He judges the society. Eventually, He gives them over to their sin. S. Lewis Johnson wrote in an article re-published 2010,

"The devolution in human history is reflected in the more recent tendency of society to accept the sin of homosexuality and other sexual deviations as a mere sickness and not as sin. ... This is God’s temporal judgment which is preliminary to His eternal judgment on a rebellious human race."

It may surprise some to know that God judges people and societies before they die and go to hell. But He does. God ordains "thus sin shall be punished by sin" said Heinrich Meyer. Homosexuality is the final earthly judgment in the process of traveling away from His holiness into carnal rebelliousness. When the verse says "He gave them over," it doesn't mean God threw up His hands saying 'Kids these days!' It means a holy, judicial act has occurred.

"He positively gave men over to the judgment of “more intensified and aggravated cultivation of the lusts of their own hearts with the result that they reap for themselves a correspondingly greater toll of retributive vengeance." (S. Lewis Johnson & John Murray, Epistle to the Romans)

The passage speaking to this is Romans 1:18-32. It is titled in the ESV, "God’s Wrath on Unrighteousness". Lest you think I am cherry picking, in the NIV the section is titled "God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity." Even the NLT says "God’s Anger at Sin".

It begins this way:

"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth." (Romans 1:18)

The wrath of God IS REVEALED. Present tense, and means "uncover, revealing what is hidden". So? Where is all this wrath? Do we see fire and brimstone coming down on San Francisco as it did to Sodom? Do we see lakes of fire opening up under the NYC Gay Pride Parade? His wrath will be that blatant on His Day, AKA the Tribulation period, but it is being revealed now too. It is being revealed every day since the Garden, when man became cursed with a sin-nature.

Think on this, the first thing Jesus did when He went to Jerusalem at the start of his public ministry - His first public act - was to wrathfully overturn the tables of the merchants at the temple, crying out against their defilement of his temple. As John MacArthur said, Jesus didn't send an advance committee and make His statutes sound like harps and flowers. Instead, in wrath He cried out against their defilment of His temple.

Jesus casting out the money changers at the temple - Carl Bloch
Today we don't have a temple, but the temple is our body.

"Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God?" (1 Corinthians 6:19a)

And today the holy wrath against defiling His temple is just as strong!

Flee from sexual immorality. Every other sin a person commits is outside the body, but the sexually immoral person sins against his own body.” (1 Corinthians 6:18)

His wrath was revealed in the curse. It was revealed in the Flood. It was revealed in the sacrificial system. It was revealed on the cross. It is revealed as Romans 1 states, when He allows the moral order to collapse.

People today who want to re-define homosexuality as acceptable and gay marriage as normal are usually concerned with two overarching themes. Besides actively participating in the moral collapse of society, one thing they are inordinately concerned with is “love” and the other is “judge.”

Scripture can be used correctly or incorrectly. It is the word of God, breathed from Him to men, inerrant in the original language and profitable for all teaching, correction, and reproof. (2 Timothy 3:16). It is the bread from heaven (John 6:32) and the way we learn about who God is…AND what His standards are. And He’s got standards. We cannot simply clip out of the bible that which displeases us.
Photo by Alexandria Searls, are of the two Bibles from which
Thomas Jefferson clipped text to create
"The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth." Source Jefferson Library

It is up to each Christian to determine if the things they are being taught are based on a correct understanding of scripture, and to “judge” whether a teaching is valid or not valid. In this way, you reader, too, “judge”. (1 John 4:1-3). And I certainly hope you test what I've written against the scriptures in context.

In the bible, God said that He has standards for behavior, morals, language/speech, sexual fidelity, marriage, and etc. He listed specific sins that disqualify one from heaven. He continually reminds us that our default condition as sinner precludes us from heaven. Man tries to writhe out of His standards, but to do so is death to him.

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

Helping someone who is knowingly or unknowingly struggling under the false conclusion that they are not sinning is not judging them. It is loving them. There are many lists of sins that He hates, (Proverbs 6:16-19,1 Corinthians 6:9, 1 Corinthians 5:11) and one of them in particular, He used as a benchmark of a society’s collapse. Homosexuality. (Romans 1:28-32). Sin is serious!

Not everyone is qualified for marriage. Not everyone is getting into heaven. Not everyone worships acceptably. For example, it is a sin to come to the Lord's table unrepentant. (1 Corinthians 11:27-2). It is a sin to come to church drunk. (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). Not everyone behaves in a way that pleases God. He has standards. Though the bible is the clear and plain outline of what standards will please Him, some fail the standard. Society hates to hear this.

"Heaven visited me" Creative Commons, by Kevin Dooley
Now, in today’s permissive “tolerant” society, people don’t like that Christians hold to the standards God laid out. They do not like it when Christians tell them that some things are forbidden. They call it “hate.” It IS hate to them, they hate to be told they can’t do what their carnal heart desires! People can redefine judging, hate and love all they want, but those redefinitions to suit their carnal desires will not stand on the day they face THE Judge.

Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them.” (Proverbs 2:4-5)

Homosexual marriage is not a marriage, because it is outside God’s law. Marriage is between a man and a woman. Period. (Genesis 2:24, Matthew 19:4-5).

Homosexuals have the “right to love” as much as any sinner! They can choose to love Jesus and His statutes. Or they can choose to hate Jesus and His statutes. But they are not qualified for marriage. And they do not have the right to love one another in a sexual way. Sodomy is not “love” - it is hate against God’s statutes and standards. It is loving to tell them so, in order that they may repent.

Do you approve of sex between a 37 year old man and an 8 year old girl? No? Then you are “judging” aren’t you? Do you approve of relations between a 42 year old man and his German Shepherd dog? No? Then you are “judging.” Do you approve of your spouse having sex with another person while you’re married? No? The bible forbids those acts, by the way, just as much as it forbids sexual acts between same sexes.

Yes, I am intolerant, in the way people want to use the word. I am intolerant of sin, my own especially. I’m intolerant of people who try to change God’s laws to suit their own carnal desires. I try to tell them that they are doing a disservice to Jesus and to their own selves, but some won’t listen. Yet I persist because I love them. I love them in the biblical way: because Jesus first loved us, and came to seek and save sinners. Jesus's first ministry words were an order, not an invitation and certainly not harps and flowers. He said,

"Repent and believe." (Mark 1:14-15).
Creative Commons, Art4theGlryOfGod
----------------------------

Further Reading, in order:

Rachel Held Evans: If my son or daughter were gay

Elizabeth Prata: Open Letter to Rachel Held Evans

Dr Joel McDurmon: To Rachel Held Evans, RE: “If my son or daughter were gay…"

Elizabeth Prata: Rachel Held Evans asks "What if my son or daughter were gay..." and gets a response from Dr Joel McDurmon

Rachel Held Evans: Everyone's a biblical literalist until you bring up gluttony

Fred Butler: No sympathy for the fat guy

What letter would you write to a gay son?

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

Other Rachel Held Evans mentions from this blog:

The Feminist Agenda

How the new Christian Feminists are redefining biblical womanhood


Friday, December 27, 2013

Setting the course for the New Year

I've mentioned before that I lived on a yacht and sailed around for two years. We sailed north. We sailed south. We sailed coastal. We sailed offshore. We sailed fast and we sailed slow. We sailed during the day and we sailed at night.

I remember one night passage in particular. We had been anchored at Nassau's Paradise Island and had upped anchor to scoot to nearby Rose Island. Rose Island is a long, skinny palm tree-lined island with no roads and no houses. A daily excursion boat playing a steel drum version of Yellow Bird arrived every day. We'd hear Yellow Bird coming, we'd hear Yellow Bird staying, we'd hear Yellow Bird going. I liked hearing the distant calypso steel drums, their notes winding around the palm tree leaves before bouncing off to arrive at our swaying boat to serenade us. In between it was quiet. Very quiet.

When we decided to leave, we wanted to head back north to Great Abaco Island. We plotted our trip on the chart. It necessitated scooting around the western tip of Rose island we were anchored behind, turning north, making a deep water passage, and then turning west to get inside the Abaco island chain. There were no navigational aids to mariners. We'd have to sail in between dodgy narrow cliffs with shallow waters dotted with deadly coral heads. Coral is sharp, it could rip a hole in the bottom of your boat faster than a blink.

It's easy to see coral heads if the sun is behind your back, you're wearing polarized sunglasses, and you stand far forward on the bow or even better, higher up if you have a wheelhouse. Unfortunately, this meant that to arrive in time for the sun to be behind our back in order to navigate the coral, we'd have to get there before noon. And that meant sailing overnight to arrive at sunrise.

We left Rose Island at dusk, and as the sun set, turned our vessel toward Great Abaco. Our heading was 0 degrees, due north.

Source
Compass set for 0 degrees captain. Easy enough. The sky darkened, turned blue, then purple, then black. The stars came out. Absent any competing light, they were bright. However, one star stood out. It hung off our left spreader. The spreader is the cross-spar halfway up the mast. Our mast was unusual for a modern boat, it was wooden.


If I pointed the left spreader with the star just at the end of it, I could maintain my true north, 0 degree course. That is because the star was the North Star, and the north star never moves. All the other stars rotate around it, but Polaris never moves.

A long exposure photo of Polaris & neighbouring stars
(exposure time 45 min),taken in Ehrenb├╝rg
(Walberla) in 2001. Source

The North Star is a pole star, and it's called Polaris. There is only one, the North Star. Wiki says, "While other stars' apparent positions in the sky change throughout the night, as they appear to rotate around the celestial poles, pole stars' apparent positions remain virtually fixed. This makes them especially useful in celestial navigation: they are a dependable indicator of the direction toward the respective geographic pole although not exact; they are virtually fixed, and their angle of elevation can also be used to determine latitude. ... The North Star has historically been used for navigation since Late Antiquity, both to find the direction of north and to determine latitude."

We did not sail by celestial navigation, even though we had a sextant. We didn't have a GPS either but we used the compass and the charts and eyeball and Loran. (Yes, that's how old we are). We loved using the North Star as our navigational aid. It made us feel like sailors of antiquity, brave and adventurous, casting off to parts unknown and getting there using only what was set in the heavens.

Little did I know that in truth, that ten years later I'd come to know the real God who set the stars in the heavens. (Genesis 1:16). Now my adventures are more biblical, casting off for spiritual parts unknown, and following my North Star, who never moves from His position, and is always bright.

My New Year wish for you is that you follow the North Star. Always, always keep your heading to true north. Always check for drift and for undersea hazards that can rip your keel off and sink you in a blink. It is Jesus who never moves, never changes, and all other beings, planets, and stars rotate around HIM. You cannot go wrong with a compass heading as true as that. Follow Him, whether it is night or day, or whether there are rough or smooth waters. Navigate by His brightness, and the course that is set will see you there safely.

"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” (Revelation 22:16)

Happy New Year.



Thursday, December 26, 2013

Amazon's best sellers of the year: Even Slate gets it about Sarah Young...

Slate presents "Amazon's Best-Selling Books of 2013, and What They Tell Us About America"

Even Slate gets it about Sarah Young's #5 seller, Jesus Calling

"We’re desperate for guidance from Jesus, 
even if it’s just an author named Sarah Young pretending to be Jesus."

And yes, Jesus Calling IS Amazon's number five best selling book of the year. Not in Christian Books. All books. Now I will go off to a corner somewhere and cry.

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

Further Reading

Sarah Young, was it really Jesus Calling, or someone else?

Jesus Calling review, and why 'hearing' God is a bad thing

Reaction to the book "A Christian Rebuttal to Sarah Young's 'Jesus Calling'"

My top posts of the year

I'm preparing my annual earthquake update chart, comparing the number of quakes in the 5, 6, 7, and 8+ magnitude range to USGS annual benchmark, from 2001 onward. I publish that annually on Dec 31. Meanwhile, I'm looking over the past year or two in terms of what interested people and what brought them to the blog. I don't tailor my writing to keyword entries or search engine optimization, I just write what I'm burdened to write, but I am curious to see where the Spirit leads people and what blog entries are read. What is on people's minds?

The posts which receive the most views always surprise me. They're never the ones where I'd shed the most tears in prayer and anguish writing them. They are never the ones I felt were spiritually necessary. They're never the ones I think will be the most edifying. They are always a surprise.

Blogger gives you the option for seeing statistics for the month, day, week, or all time. Not the year. So in looking at all-time posts here is the skinny.

ChurchChannel TV
The top posts of all time come from 2013 and 2011. I write in three categories; encouragement, discernment, and prophecy. Regarding discernment, I write about many famous individuals, comparing their doctrine to the bible's to see if they are presenting orthodoxy, heterodoxy, or heresy. To that end, I've looked at famous Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, Sarah Young, Rachel Held Evans, and Billy Graham. The post in which I wrote about a person which received the most views are none of those. In 2011 I wrote about Jentezen Franklin and it is the post about him which still lingers near the top for most hits ever. Surprise!

Remember the Daniel Plan? Not Rick Warren's Daniel Plan, Jentezen Franklin's. It was a heavy fad in 2011. I wrote about the Plan and about Mr Franklin's book in November 2011 and we were off and running.

Jentezen Franklin and his false teachings about fasting.
I started it this way:
"There are many churches today participating in the current fad known as The Daniel Fast. This is a man-made so-called spiritual activity that is supposed to automatically draw you closer to God by eating things that are on a list and not eating things that are not on a list."

My church at the time was one of those participating in the 'fast' and flogging the book from the pulpit too. Heavily. I thought the only book that should be promoted from the pulpit should be the bible, and was concerned that the leadership was falling into false doctrines put out there by a known word-faith, liberal preacher by having us sign legalistic contracts committing to the fast and other things which were of concern. I shared these concerns with the leadership and learned first-hand about Mark Driscoll's method of dealing with members who ask questions: either you get on board unquestioningly or you are thrown under the bus with the other dead bodies that had been thrown there. This was Bevere's 'Covering Theology' on steroids. I was summarily fired from all the ministries I'd been involved in for years, told I was a critical troublemaker led by the devil, and disfellowshipped the same day. No one ever sought reconciliation, or even told me what my sin was.

So the Jentezen Franklin blog entry's high number of hits shows me that others are concerned, also. The Lord is gracious and wise, and I'm forever grateful for the experience I learned at that time. He gave me an opportunity to speak Holy Truth to carnal power, to learn many things doctrinal and heretical, caused me to search out the truth about this flavor of false doctrine, and help other people who struggled with the devastating effects of spiritual abuse.

In 2011 I also wrote about the people who spent all their savings ahead of the Doomsday date that the now-deceased Harold Camping predicted (May 21, 2011).
Facepalm: man spends all his savings in advance of (false) May 21 rapture date

This is still the second most looked at blog entry. People are inordinately curious about dates, looking for clues as to "when", and constantly seek after people who claim to "know." (1 John 2:20). Many sought after Mr Camping when he said that he had unlocked the secret date from the bible, that the rapture would be May 21, 2011. His heart was in the right place, he sincerely wanted people to repent before it was too late, but his methods got tangled up. Later Mr Camping repented and apologized.

However, some sold all they had and waited, in vain of course. That was what the blog entry was about, that we all have the same Spirit and no one knows the date of His coming. No one has different knowledge than another who can also appeal to Him for illumination of His eternal truths. (1 John 2:20, John 14:26).

The top blog entry this year and also tops all others in terms of hits, by a lot, is the Sideways Necklace entry. I'm astounded at this. Of all things I've written about, prophetic, discernment, or encouraging, that this should remain the most looked at blog entry of all. I wrote it in March of this year, and despite its newcomer status, quickly outstripped the Ghost Horse of Tarhir Square, The Harold Camping rapture date debacle, and the Jentezen Franklin Daniel Fast, all of which were written several years ago and are also near the top in views.

When Egypt erupted in a violent overthrow
and its government fell in Spring of 2011 (Arab Spring)
some say they saw on video a Pale Horse ride
in Tarhir Square. No one debunked it, ever, and you know
how they love to do that
The latest Christian fad- Is wearing a sideways (horizontal) cross good, or bad?

I wondered, is it because it is about jewelry and probably mostly women read this blog? Is it because (one may hope) that Christians don't want to bring shame onto the name of Jesus or His symbol by doing something wrong with it? Is it a cultural fad that goes deeper than I thought? Is it spiritual warfare on a scale I don't understand? All the answers to these questions I ask about this blog entry escape me. All I know is the blog entry caused and is still causing a stir. It sparked a forum war on the women's scrapbooking discussion page Two Peas. Twice. It was linked to on a Yahoo discussion page. Every day if I look at the stats page, there it is, topping the list. There is no doubt, a LOT of people want to know what the sideways cross means.

All this teaches me that there is no essay I can write about Jesus in His name or for His name that I can take for granted. NO! It teaches me caution, humility, and carefulness to a higher degree.

I was listening to a John MacArthur Q&A recently. Someone remarked to Dr MacArthur that all his sermons are online, the sermons he's preached since 1969, as well as commentaries, essays, and other writings. It is a massive volume of material that is accessible to the public, for our edification. He praised the Lord for the ability to reach people in this way, but then said with a seriousness to his voice, "It's a lot to be responsible for."

He sets a good example. We will be called to account for every idle word we speak (Matthew 12:36) so please let none of these words be idle. I should be just as careful to represent truth as best as I know and in grace and humility (but firmly) as I did when I started this blog 5 years ago. Let not familiarity with writing about Him ever breed contempt! Each and every word I write, no matter what the subject, which aims to edify, encourage, or rebuke should be done consciously and carefully.

Ultimately it's not a lesson in hits or views but a lesson in the road the Spirit takes. Some entries edify only a few people but in a deep way. That is satisfying. Some entries seem more superficial to me but affect many more people for longer periods. That is satisfying too. In the end it doesn't matter, because the Spirit is in charge and all He does, and all I hope to do through Him, is point to Christ. Jesus is the only subject that matters. Every subject is about Him. If anything I write, from jewelry to the Resurrection, points to His glory, justice, beauty, mercy, grace or any other attribute, then it is well with my soul.

Top posts of 2013

The latest Christian fad- Is wearing a sideways (horizontal) cross good, or bad?

Pope Benedict resigned

Why are there so many false prophets?

Part 1- Discerning a Gnostic conference called "Passion 2013," Jesus Culture and Kim Walker-Smith

Famous for being famous, some live unreal life on reality tv

Rachel Held Evans asks "What if my son or daughter were gay..." and gets a response from Dr Joel McDurmon

The rapidity with which the world is descending into chaos is amazing

Top number of comments

The Sideways Necklace and Jentezen Franklin posts received many comments, which I enjoy as an opportunity to point people back to Jesus and/or the scriptures, to correct misconceptions about the scriptures, or to learn something from readers. After 70 or 80 or 90 comments, though, I employ my old newspaper standard on whether to allow any more. If everything has been said, if the Gospel has been shared, if a wide range of questions has been asked, representing the likely range of future questions and comments, I turn comments off. I've done that for only a handful of posts, though. Including the Sideways Necklace and J. Franklin posts, the most commented posts were:

Pope Benedict Resigns, garnered the most buzz this year. No doubt because I'd stated that Catholicism is a false religion, AND I mentioned the Malachy thing. I wish I hadn't.

Rachel Held Evans asks "What if my son or daughter were gay..." and gets a response from Dr Joel McDurmon

People were really concerned about Comet Elenin. Many people commented.

Thank you brethren, mockers, atheists, and friends who read this blog. Thank you for commenting and most especially for praying for me! I'll be here at this blogspot for as long as the Holy Spirit can use me or wants me to write. Happy New Year and may 2014 be the year of the Rapture.

Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 21, Shepherd

This section of verses that show Jesus' life are focused on His earthly ministry. We've seen Him as servant, teacher, and now shephe...