Friday, September 30, 2016

The apostasy and hatred of the Pharisees made them plot to kill Lazarus

The Plot to Kill Lazarus

When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus. (John 12:9-11)

This man [Nicodemus] came to Jesus by night and said to him, "Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him." (John 3:2)

Imagine a religion so apostate that the leaders and adherents of it plot to kill the person upon whom had been given the greatest supernatural blessing and sign directly from God- resurrection. And it's not that the Pharisees didn't know that Jesus was from God, Nicodemus tells us they did.

The evil of the religion as it had become when Jesus arrived is something we often forget to look upon in horror and disgust. Jesus certainly did. Wolves bring leaven.
Yet to tolerate spiritual leaven is to invite apostasy. Christians seem more interested in following the super gentle, easy-to-follow, blonde haired, blue eyed, Caucasian surfer Jesus instead of the one that beckons us to pick up our crosses, follow him, and seek the lost (Matt. 10:38) (CARM)
The Pharisees had piled hundreds of laws onto the Jews over time, a total of 614 had been invented by them by the time Jesus came. The People were staggering under the weight of Law and worse, the Pharisees displayed no grace to help alleviate their burden. Only hypocrisy. Therefore, Jesus was incensed at what was done in His name.

After Lazarus' resurrection, the people continued to bear witness of Jesus' sign.

The crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to bear witness. The reason why the crowd went to meet him was that they heard he had done this sign. So the Pharisees said to one another, "You see that you are gaining nothing. Look, the world has gone after him." (John 12:17-19)

The leaven the false ones bring always includes self-satisfaction. The Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes were in it for themselves, not the glory of God. It's the same today.
To tolerate this spiritual leaven means to invite apostasy.  Like leaven, error gradually creeps into the church and spreads to all parts, causing the whole to elevate itself with pride and do what is right in one's own eyes instead of that which is right in God's.  2 Thess. 2:3 speaks about the great apostasy that is coming.  However, it cannot occur without a host of lesser apostasies within the Church that will ultimately deceive Christians and prepare the ground for the arrival of Antichrist. (CARM)
Apostasy is evil and its deepening never stops. It only progresses. It winds up to a point where the leaders of it want to kill the very man, Lazarus, who could bear witness to the power and grace of a holy God just by the fact that he could draw breath. The apostate wants no such Good News however. He seeks to stop it and silence it in any way possible. Death, that's what apostasy brings. Praise God that He sent His Son to witness to the grace and mercy of His Holy Name. Rather than seeking to kill, we seek to love, build up, and we remain in His hand until the day He returns or brings us home.


Thursday, September 29, 2016

The beauty of creation at the microscopic level

I love photos and videos that show the microscopic. It's all God's creation and to be able to see the smaller things unusually not observed by the unaided eye just gives me a thrill to peek into His smaller creations that are just as magnificent as the Alps or the change of seasons or the constellations. Here is a short clip of things crystallizing. It's fascinating.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Have you ever been snubbed?

a snub is defined as
an act of showing disdain or a lack of cordiality by rebuffing or ignoring someone or something.
Did you ever go into a store or pass someone walking or anywhere, and you know they saw you but they refuse to acknowledge you? That's a snub.

I'm on the spectrum and I accidentally snub people all the time. Sorry. I tend to focus more on inanimate objects than I do on people and I literally don't see you. Children are an exception. I always see them.

A hilarious quote I read from Kin Hubbard says that "some people are so sensitive they feel snubbed if an epidemic overlooks them."

Remember the angst in High School when we walked down the hall and saw the boy (or the girl) and desperately hoped for eye contact, acknowledgement, or best of all, personal affirmation. Would he stop, look, chat? Oh, no, he didn't look! She didn't see! They rejected me!

It felt horrible and as adults if we care to admit it, it still does. Snubbing and his big brother Rejection are wounds that hurt. We've been snubbed when a friend is angry with us, We've been rejected by a spouse through adultery. We have been passed over for promotion. We crave affirmation and recognition, but when we're being ignored through a snub or rejected through anger or hate, it hurts and the hurt takes a long time to heal.

Now bundle all the times you've been snubbed, overlooked, and rejected, and magnify that a billion times. Imagine how you might feel at the universe's worst snub, its highest rejection.

"Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23)

Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven.(Matthew 10:32).

In the first case, the person being rejected thought he was a Christian. He labored, he preached, he rebuked demons. And he was rejected. In a stunning turn of events, the person will receive an eternal rejection to his face, and be banished from glory and the presence of Jesus forever.

In order to ensure that you, dear reader, are not one of those rejected and snubbed, having no place card at the Banquet, test yourself to see if you are in the faith. Is It Real: 11 Biblical Tests of Genuine Salvation can be read here.

In the second case, the person was an outright Christ rejecter. Whether they were a 'spiritual person' of another religion, or an atheist, agnostic, or other flavor of rejecter, in turn they will be rejected on the Day. Forever.

This is a hurt and a wound from which one does not ever recover. Make sure you are not rejected on the Day, and repent of your sins. Today is the day of your salvation. Don't wait, don't procrastinate. If you're feeling feel drawn, investigate and examine yourself to see if you pass the test.





Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Reader Question: What are some good commentaries and sermons on Old Testament prophetic texts?

A reader wanted to know who I'd recommend as trustworthy expositors of the Old Testament texts, particularly the prophetic texts and especially Daniel.

Admittedly, Daniel is a difficult text to understand in parts, though with the Holy Spirit's help in illuminating it and because scripture interprets scripture, it's not impossible to understand.
OT sermons and commentaries are definitely hard to find. Or rather, they are easy to find but you wouldn't want to read some of them because they twist the scripture so badly!

So who solidly exposits the Old Testament texts?

I love James Montgomery Boice. He preached through OT prophets in his day and the sermons are online for free. He is currently on rotation in Expositor.fm (24-hour expository preaching on internet radio channel founded by John MacArthur) in a Daniel series. The sermons archived on sermon audio and other places, but are not transcribed, to my knowledge. He does have an expositional commentary for purchase at Amazon, only $15. Daniel Expositional Commentary

On my own bookshelves as regards Daniel Commentaries, is a commentary by Oliver B. Greene which I enjoy. He is old timey, from the 1930s-1970s. Greene's commentary on Daniel can be purchased at Amazon for between $7-15. Greene also has a commentary on Revelation, which I do not own. As always, use your discernment and compare to scripture to test and see.

Wikipedia says that Green's "The Gospel Hour, which began on one station in Georgia and gradually became syndicated until the point it spanned the nation is currently on over 80 stations, including international stations and the Internet. Taped copies of the program are still aired today on the Fundamental Broadcasting Network and other Christian radio stations."

John MacArthur preached thru Daniel. As a matter of fact, at GTY.org they have a new series where employees choose some of their favorite, stellar sermons from JMac which may not be as well known or arre older. Last Friday's pick was a sermon from the Daniel series, called "An Uncompromising Life." The Daniel series can be found at that link, and the sermons are transcribed, they can be adapted for small group study.

One man who has done something unique and wonderful but for some reason is fairly unknown and overlooked, is Roy Gingrich. He made what are called outlines of all the OT prophetic books, most of the other OT books, and NT books as well, including Revelation. These are wonderfully succinct treatments suited for individual study or small group! These are available for $2.99 on Amazon, kindle only.

I've attached two screen shots of Gingrich's outlines so you can see what they look like




As for the credible expositors on Revelation: My favorite book on Revelation is MacArthur's "Because The Time Is Near". It brings out both the wrath and the grace & love of Christ during that most horrendous future time. When I read it, the book shook me. It is an easy read, based on the sermon series.

On my shelves for other Revelation Commentaries, I also have HA Ironside's commentary, John R. Rice and Oliver B Greene as well as MacArthur's Commentary on Revelation, plus and an unknown Baptist from the 1800s, lol. I found that one on sale in a second hand store.

Preachers I trust to handle scripture correctly, including the more complicated Old Testament Prophets, are S. Lewis Johnson and Dan Duncan, both of Believers Chapel-Dallas, Johnson preached there for many years, and Duncan is currently Johnson's successor. They have preached through Daniel as well as other end time books of prophecy. Their sermons are accompanied by notes.

I hoe my few recommendations are helpful. Of course there are many other good preachers and commentaries not mentioned here. Feel free to offer some recommendations of your own!




Jude's dreamers and Beth Moore's necromancy

Consider this statement from Jude 1:8. Jude is talking about ungodly people, false teachers who are already marked out for condemnation, grace-perverters.

Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.

Look at the part of the verse which casts a negative light on their reliance on dreams, where I'd underlined. What kind of dreams are meant here? MacArthur Commentary,
The wicked behavior of such men derives from their dreaming a term that Jude uses to identify these apostates as phony visionaries. The New Testament normally uses the noun onar to refer to dreams (Matthew 1:20, 2:12, 13, 19, 22, 27:19), but here Jude chose a form of the verb enupniazo, which is used only one other place int he New Testament, Acts 2:17. In that passage, Peter (preaching on the Day of Pentecost) declared, "‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams."

Joel's prophecy (Joel 2:28-32) and its affirmation in Peter's sermon show that the dreams in question may refer to revelatory dreams (rather than normal dreams). During the Tribulation, prophecies, revelations and visions that have now ceased will return, along with divine revelation. God will speak to people through dreams, just as he did earlier in biblical history )e.g., Joseph in Egypt, Daniel in Babylon, and others).

False teachers often claim dreams as authoritative divine source for their "new truths" which are really just lies and distortions. Such claims allow apostates to substitute their own counterfeit authority for God's true scriptural authority
At this point in writing the essay I decided to Google some quotes where a famous false teacher had mentioned dreams, and it it there. I started with Beth Moore because she's been around longest and had a higher likelihood of a quote somewhere regarding being a 'dreamer' as Jude puts it. I was absolutely shocked as this result came up on Youtube. It is a clip from the LifeToday program on television with James Robison from 6 years ago. At least, Moore mentions that she was 53 years old in the clip and she is 59 years old as of this writing. The 10-minute clip shows Beth describing a dream that she had had, and then its meaning and interpretation. But it's worse than just a revelatory dream. Much worse.

In the clip, Moore fervently affirms that she just loves Jesus so much and the dream 'he' gave her just makes her love 'him' all the more. Moore's friend is Mary Beth Chapman, wife of Grammy and Dove Award winning recording artist, Steven Curtis Chapman. About a year and a half prior to Moore's dream, her friend Mary Beth had tragically lost her adopted Chinese daughter Maria to a car accident. Mary Beth had been in deep grief.

Moore opened by explaining that in all her 53 years she did not dream that vividly and she never had a dream from God. Though she'd repeatedly prayed and asked for Him to send her a dream, Moore explained that God 'said' to her that "some people are just safer with the Word on the page." (1:31 in the clip. By the way, this is an admission that Moore seeks extrabiblical revelation, and that she knows exactly that dreams are extrabiblical revelation).

Her dream involved seeing Mary Beth at a sound stage about to speak to an audience, with her dead daughter holding her hand, in a body and dressed in a white shirt with chunky bangs. At the time, Mary Beth Chapman hadn't written her book and was not touring sound stages speaking to audiences. Not yet.

The glaring problem with Moore's description of the dead child is that the redeemed of heaven do not have bodies yet.

As I said, Moore explained that every night she prays He would send her a dream or a manifestation, she seeks it earnestly. Luke 11:29 and Luke 11:16 state that an evil generation seeks a sign. So her first doctrinal mistake was to test the Lord by continually asking for a dream or a manifestation. (her words).

Her second doctrinal mistake was not recognizing instantly that the dream she'd had was not from the Lord. Why? God abhors communing with the dead. It is a practice that He strenuously forbade the Israelites to engage in (Deuteronomy 18:10-12), calling it an abomination. The New Testament is also firm against sorcery, divination, and necromancy. (Galatians 5:19-21, Revelation 21:8).
Necromancy is defined as the conjuring of the spirits of the dead for purposes of magically revealing the future or influencing the course of events. In the Bible, necromancy is also called “divination,” “sorcery” and “spiritism” and is forbidden many times in Scripture (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10; Galatians 5:19-20; Acts 19:19) as an abomination to God. It is something that the Lord speaks very strongly against and is to be avoided as much as any evil. (source
There is no reason to believe that a deceased person has any ability to leave heaven or hell in order to visit his living family members. Any such claim is a demonic deception (2 Corinthians 11:14-15). God declared such practices to be abhorrent to Him, and those who did practice such things in Israel were to be put to death (Leviticus 20:27; Deuteronomy 18:10-12). Satan would like nothing more than for people to dabble in the occult world of spiritism and necromancy. (source)
Moore's third doctrinal error was interpreting the dream herself. Genesis 40:8 plainly says that interpretations belong to God. Moore went on in the clip to interpret the dream herself. She said that the dream meant that Mary Beth was being called by God to speak in front of audiences. She further interpreted that God sent the dream to Moore and not to Chapman because it was too soon after the accident for Chapman as a mother to be able to handle seeing her daughter.

Chapman said in an interview that she had desired a dream, too. She and her husband desired to see their dead daughter.
After the accident, we avoided the house for several days. We were begging God to show us himself in this, because this was clearly the darkest place he had taken us, and we were drowning. We were like, God, please, let us see. Let us see Maria. Let us have a dream. Let us see something so we know that you're here. (Mary Beth Chapman)
The scriptures say,

For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything, nor have they any longer a reward, for their memory is forgotten. Indeed their love, their hate and their zeal have already perished, and they will no longer have a share in all that is done under the sun. (Ecc 9:5-6)

The dead no longer have a share in what is done under the sun. As for the desire to see a dead person,
Scripture never indulges that desire. In the Old Testament era, every attempt to communicate with the dead was deemed a sin on par with sacrificing infants to false gods (Deuteronomy 18:10–12). The Hebrew Scriptures say comparatively little about the disposition of souls after death, and the people of God were strictly forbidden to inquire further on their own. Necromancy was a major feature of Egyptian religion. It also dominated every religion known among the Canaanites. But under Moses’ law it was a sin punishable by death (Leviticus 20:27). Dead Men Tell No Tales
Moore's dream is the exact definition of necromancy. In OT times, doing what Moore did, summoning a dream or a manifestation of a dead person and basing personal interpretations of future events on that dream was punishable by death.

Jude disparaged 'dreamers' and their reliance on their 'dreams' because dreaming is a dangerous activity. Sin never sits still. It deepens. It begins with one little sin not repented of, and another and another. It continues with straying from church, the Bible, prayer. It deepens with increased satanic activity surrounding you, traversing the abominable territory into personal revelations. Once a false teacher is comfortable with constant alleged personal revelations, then come the dreams, and then the necromancy, and finally, death, either sooner or later.

In Saul's case, in the one and only case of communing with the dead, the Lord allowed a summoning of Samuel the Prophet through the Witch of Endor to demonstrate to Saul how far gone he was into the deep things of satan. You also notice that the witch already had a "familiar spirit."Samuel's appearance was only to confirm Saul's imminent doom.

This essay has a two-fold purpose. One, to show you again, how deeply Moore is apostate, and to warn you to avoid her. Secondly it is to remind you (and me) that sin never sits still, it is always on the move, prowling. (1 Peter 5:8). As sin moves, it deepens. It gets worse over time if unrepented of, never better.

There are only two ways to go in our walk on earth. One will be on the narrow road or on the broad road. One leads to destruction and eternal death, one leads to eternal life. Walk, or as Paul sometimes said, run, indicates movement. Sin never stays still. You either move toward the "deep things of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10) or you move toward the deep things of satan (Revelation 2:24). When one begins to seek voices and personal direct revelation from God and accept them, one is already far down the path of the deeper things of satan. When one dreams and believes the dreams are from God, it's a dangerous thing. You then begin relying on the dreams and not "the Word on the page" (as Moore admitted above). Jude says of those who rely on dreams "defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones." When dreams turn to summoning the dead, and interpreting their activity into future earthly events, you're already an abomination to God because you are a necromancer. Necromancers do not go to heaven.

Don't dabble in dreams, nor should we ask for them. Don't accept personal revelations, but repent of them. That Beth Moore did not recognize her necromancy dream as an abomination but attributed what was in fact the deep things of satan to God, just shows her blindness and abominable status before our holy Lord. Jude was serious, saying

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:3-4)

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

End Note:

I'm posting these screen shots of the video with closed captioning in case the video is deleted (which Moore's criticized videos often are.) I also saved the transcript of the video and I'll post that if the video is deleted later.

Here, Moore admits she constantly asks God to show her a manifestation or give her a dream.



Here, Moore claims to see Mary Beth Chapman's dead child Maria in body and describes her face, hair and clothes.








Monday, September 26, 2016

The discovery of 2000 year old Leviticus fragment

What were the original languages the Bible was written in? How did we get the Bible? Was the Bible corrupted by men when they were translated?

Good questions!

The Bible was written in two main languages, Hebrew in the Old Testament, and Greek for the New Testament. Two other languages appear briefly. One of them is Aramaic. A few chapters in Ezra and Daniel were originally in Aramaic and one verse in Jeremiah, also.

There are a few words in another, fourth language that appears extremely briefly for a few words in Job, and that's Ugaritic. The Ugaritic does't impact the original Bible's reading and interpreting because of the minute amount the Bible contains, but Ugaritic does help to understand the Hebrew overall.

Two thousand tablets written in Ugaritic were discovered in 1929. The Kingdom of Ugarit was located in Syria, and was a thriving kingdom of the late Bronze Age (1570 - 1200 BC.) It co-existed with the Hebrew tribes and,
The Ugaritic texts offer innumerable literary and religious parallels to biblical literature. The parallels are so rich and in some cases so specific that it is evident that the Ugaritic texts do not merely provide parallels, but belong to a shared or overlapping cultural matrix with the Hebrew Bible. (Source)
The Ugaritic language was almost letter for letter identical to Hebrew, and where a Hebrew word was unknown or difficult to interpret in context, the Ugaritic texts helped as a kind of Rosetta Stone in interpreting the difficult Hebrew biblical word properly.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Kay Cude poetry: Everlasting Mercy

Kay Cude poetry, used with permission. Click picture to enlarge

Artist's Statement:

I am consistently drawn to Dore's work! And each time I utilize one of his profoundly sensitive pieces, I imagine that as he worked on his wood plates, he had no concept of their enduring qualities or that centuries later I and others would be drawn to use them in our efforts to magnify and praise God! How amazed Dore would be to know that his telling works now cover the earth through digital media, or that millions have seen God's glory through his pieces, and in a more profound way than he could even begin to imagine! Isn't God just so very wise! His plans to make Himself and His Christ known through art and other forms of media makes our intuitiveness very pale! I believe God selects those desiring to serve Him in this manner and uses their work (spiritual gifts) for His purpose...



More on artist and engraver Gustave Dore and his fabulous and evocative works, many of which are biblical scenes.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Why you must forgive yourself



Recently I'd read the essay 7 Dangers of Embracing Mere Therapeutic Forgiveness and posted a link to it from this blog. The essay focused on the truth of forgiving others.
I’ve been preaching the past couple weeks on forgiveness. In preparing I’ve found Chris Brauns’ work, Unpacking Forgiveness, to be immensely helpful. A position that I have held for awhile now is that forgiveness isn’t simply about us. We don’t forgive someone primarily because we release ourselves from some prison of bitterness. Though that is certainly a benefit—we forgive because God forgave us.
Recently in a coincidence, our pastor explained the same concept, but from a different perspective. We usually focus more on the process and benefits of forgiving others, but what about forgiving ourselves? The scene he was preaching through was from Genesis 45. Joseph is revealing himself to his brothers, who had sold Joseph into slavery 13 years prior. He is reassuring his brothers that he is not angry and will not harm them. Genesis 45:5 says,

And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.

Joseph is a picture of Jesus. Joseph did the unthinkable, he forgave his brothers for selling him into lsavery and conspiring to murder him. Yet ... note the part of the verse that says 'do not be angry with yourselves'. People in the church today have made up this brand new phrase. It's not anywhere in the Bible. It goes like this- "I know that God has forgiven me, but I just can't forgive myself." My pastor had explained it this way,
It’s a phrase that has become very popular in church circles. 'I know that God of the Universe has forgiven me, big deal. The REAL issue is I just can’t forgive myself.' I heard someone explain this issue in a way that shines new light, sheds new light on this issue. It made me never want to use the phrase. This is what I heard from one pastor. He said, "If you’re saying that if I know God has forgiven me, but I’m still angry at myself, I still can’t forgive myself, what you’re saying is, the blood of Jesus may be good enough for God, but the blood of Jesus is not good enough for me. I have higher standards than the God of the universe." This means you have put yourself above God and you have higher standards than God. 
Also as an example, let’s say you did something at work, and you got fired. You did it. You did something wrong and you got fired. You say I know it was sinful and I’ve repented. I know God forgave me for this but I lost my job and I’m still mad at myself. I can’t forgive myself for what I did. This is a sign in that moment that the job was actually more important than God. The job had become my God-replacement. I was getting my meaning, my purpose, my worth and value, my joy. Now that I’ve ruined it, I just can’t move on. That would be an evidence that God hasn’t taken first place yet in your life.
Forgiveness is an attribute of God which demands our attention because it's so integral to the Gospel. Jesus forgives us our original sin unto justification:

He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13-14).

Jesus forgives us our sins post-salvation when we repent:

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:19).

In this verse, we learn about the infinite-ness of forgiveness. Such forgiveness includes riches of His grace (which is infinite), how it is dispensed (lavishly), and that it's made known to us in all wisdom and insight.

In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10)

Do we have more wisdom than God and more insight as regards forgiveness within the place of His plan? What a ghastly thought! However that is exactly what we are saying when we say we know that God forgives us, but we just can't seem to forgive ourselves.

On the surface it might sound pious and humble to say that you can't forgive yourself, but it isn't. If you knew you sinned and asked Jesus to forgive you, He has. Leave it with Him and go on about your business in confidence of His love and according to the riches of His grace.


Friday, September 23, 2016

Does God speak in unidentified promptings?

A quick lesson on discerning a meme. I saw this on Facebook. Here is a lesson on how to parse the silly sayings we see on social media. Let;s take it apart phrase by phrase and really think about what it is trying to communicate.



"Unidentified promptings" contradicts his word on the face of it, because He always identified Himself as the One speaking. Even when God spoke to pagans they knew this was an authoritative and undeniable voice of a God they must obey.

Would God speak behind a veil of uncertainty as to the source? No, never. Further, the Lord never spoke unclearly to an audience. He was always open and authoritative when He spoke. (Matthew 7:29). Did the Lord say "I shall give Pharaoh unidentified promptings to let My people go"? (Exodus 4:22). Does Exodus 7:17 say, "Thus prompts the LORD in unidentified manner, In this thou shalt strongly suspect through an inner voice that I am the LORD: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood. Probably. If you discern the prompting correctly."

In addition, if the promptings are unidentified, how do you know they are from God? We know the devil speaks. (John 8:44). We know our own heart speaks too, for out of it come evil thoughts--murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander; says Matthew 15:19. Why would you want to risk acting upon something that could either be from the devil or your own dark heart?

Third, do you ever act on unidentified promptings in other cases in real life? If an unidentified voice whispered over the intercom at work to go do something, would you? If an unidentified voice left on your phone messages urged you to an action, would you do it? No. You'd probably say 'This is creepy' and delete the message or ignore the intercom. Why risk following an unidentified prompting that more than likely is coming from the devil or your own foolish heart?

Next, 'promptings' cannot be confirmed by the word. A prompting is a nebulous, gossamer thought like the last remnant of a dream you're trying to hold on to before full consciousness erases it. How can the word of God confirm something so tenuous? In the Bible, is there a Book of Unidentified Promptings to which we turn blank pages and write our own indefinite and unclear words in invisible ink?

Last, 'promptings' are not a communication. They are an unidentified feeling, more than likely generated by ourselves from ourselves to ourselves.

Mr Swindoll's is a ridiculous statement. Leave the unidentified promptings alone. Better to just read God's word, make decisions according to His commands and precepts, and take responsibility for them.



Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Necessary Angst

The natural man knows there is a God. We know this because he suppresses this truth in unrighteousness. (Romans 1:18). There is no such thing as an innocent pagan. Deep down they know there is a God, and if they know there is a God they know they do wrong (sin) and someone has to call them to account for it. (Romans 1:19-22).

I remember before coming to the Lord at age 43, I'd pursued all sorts of lines of questioning. The basic unanswered question that drove me was this:it seemed ridiculous to assume that man's life ended at death. For man to have 'evolved' over millions of years only to life a short life of 40 or 50 or 70 years and then die for good seemed a waste. And if man's life did not end at death but continued in some sort of afterlife, how was it decided who got in? It seemed equally ridiculous that everyone got in. That would simply replicate life on earth, and so, what would make it heaven? I mean, would Hitler get in? It was logical to think there was some sort of standard. But what? And there my queries ended, because I could not understand the Jesus-blood-resurrection part of it. That seemed illogical, so I abandoned the issue. But the issue remained in my heart and mind, like a burr under a horse's saddle. I had angst about it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Prata Potpourri: Slogans, Relief, Contentment, Evil Suspicions, Hillbillies, more

At our school cafeteria the kids (or adults, lol) can purchase ice cream. Cones, Fudgsicles, Pop-Ups, and more, for 75 cents. One of the little kids excitedly told me that "Mom is going to let me get an ice cream every day on Friday!" I said, "Every day on Friday?" "YUP!" He said, his eyes agleam with thoughts of sugar high and forehead freeze.

It got me thinking about time. The child's sense of time of course is hugely distorted. One hour seems like a day, one day seems like a year, one year seems like a lifetime. As we grow, that refines. We develop a sense of time which is more accurate. But accurate to what? Time is a tool man uses, an invention of God, only finalized into the thing we know today during the industrial revolution when they needed the trains to run on time and not crash into each other. The General Time Convention was set up in 1853. Before that, people used sundials, mostly, or the sun itself.

In a school my day is segmented almost every hour by bells or schedules, and the clock. It's rigid. I've written before about the Tyranny of the Clock and our release from it, and yet thinking about living in no time, in eternity, is incomprehensible. What will that be like? I don't know. It might just be like every day on Friday.

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At Banner of Truth there's a piece on slogans and deception. Oooh, an essay on language! "The problem lies not only with the corrupt and dishonest manipulation of words, but also with a kind of zealous sincerity."

Are you suffering? Going through an exceedingly difficult time? Um, God May Postpone Your Relief for His Glory

Always looking ahead, and never satisfied with where you are now? Christa says, "Contentment is found when I am truly grateful to God for who and where I am right now. If I’m not grateful today, why do I assume my gratefulness level will increase tomorrow?" Hm, good point. Read more here Always Reaching For the Next Big Thing [& how to stop]

There are some sins we don't think much about committing, or if we do, we deem them somewhat respectable. I wrote about the Crooked Speech of Gossip and at the blog Counseling One Another we learned about the Sin of Talking Too Much, and here is Charlene M. Nelson at Come To Christ with thoughts on the sin of Evil Suspicions.

It's a heartbreak for many different reasons when a pastor falls. It's a blot on the name of Jesus. It's a devastating impact on his church. It's a vivid reminder that the seeming mightiest still succumb to sin. We see many pastors tumble, but there are also many pastors who preach for decades and are mightily blessed. What makes the difference? "It is not the most able who are blessed in their ministry, but the most holy." Eric McKiddie has Something Pastors and Preachers Always Need to Be Reminded Of

Dystopia is real, and it is almost here. Which dystopia do you see as a closer reality: Orwell's 1984? or Huxley's Brave New World? Aaron Earls at The Wardrobe Door has some thoughts about The American Church's Real Enemy. If you read that piece, it would be great to follow up with Calling the Church To Repent.

I remember those days. Melissa at Your Mom Has a Blog says Don’t Live for a Compliment from Your Husband

I really like DebbieLynne's writing. Here at The Outspoken Tulip, she discusses Sending Something You Can't.

Samuel D. James with some thoughts on the new book 'Hillbilly Elegy', a book about faith in Appalachia.

The official definition of Finstagram? Finstagram (Finsta) is a fake (or second) Instagram account. Students, usually girls, get a second Instagram account along with their real Instagrams. (Rinstagrams), to post silly pictures or videos. Finstagrams are intimate online spaces intended for an audience of friends, with the number of followers purposely kept in the low double digits. The kids tell it like it is: ” ..kids use it to trick their parents into following them there when in reality they have a second ‘true’ account”. Yeah.

Here is Robin Schumacher (a writer whom I love) with a slideshare on The Pattern of All False Religions



Take care and enjoy the day. Remember, for those who are in Jesus, there is no condemnation. (Romans 8:1).


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Consider the sparrow

I haven't done a natural history essay for a while. Paying attention to the plants, animals, and agricultural processes of the Bible is worthwhile because knowing more about them enhances our understanding of the context in which the particular verse is delivered to us. I've written of other natural history topics previously, and the links are below, if you're interested.

In Matthew 10:29-31 we read that the sparrow is considered the least of birds. The Cornell Ornithology lab describes a sparrow this way,
You can find House Sparrows most places where there are houses (or other buildings), and few places where there aren’t. Along with two other introduced species, the European Starling and the Rock Pigeon, these are some of our most common birds. Their constant presence outside our doors makes them easy to overlook.
Even more specifically, the Bible Encyclopedia describes the sparrows of Israel thus,
The Hebrew tsippor seems to have been a generic name under which were placed all small birds that frequented houses and gardens. The word occurs about 40 times in the Bible, and is indiscriminately translated "bird" "fowl" or "sparrow." ... Sparrows are small brown and gray birds of friendly habit that swarm over the northern part of Israel, and West of the Sea of Galilee, where the hills, plains and fertile fields are scattered over with villages. They build in the vineyards, orchards and bushes of the walled gardens surrounding houses, on the ground or in nooks and crannies of vine-covered walls. They live on seeds, small green buds and tiny insects and worms. Some members of the family sing musically; all are great chatterers when about the business of life. (source)
I watch, and am become like a sparrow That is alone upon the housetop. (Psalm 102:7)
A sparrow is such a friendly bird that if it were on the housetop it would be surrounded by half a dozen of its kind; ... In an overwhelmed hour the Psalmist poured out his heart before the Almighty. The reason he said he was like a "sparrow that is alone upon the housetop" was because it is the most unusual thing in the world for a sparrow to sit mourning alone, and therefore it attracted attention and made a forceful comparison. It only happens when the bird's mate has been killed or its nest and young destroyed, and this most cheerful of birds sitting solitary and dejected made a deep impression on the Psalmist who, when his hour of trouble came, said he was like the mourning sparrow--alone on the housetop. (source)
From Manners & Customs of the Bible by Freeman and Chadwick, we read,
Greek strouthion, (stroo-thee’-on); diminutive of strouthos, (a sparrow); a little sparrow. Sparrows are mentioned among the offerings made by poor. Two sparrows were sold for a farthing, and five for two farthings (Luke 12:6). The Hebrew word thus rendered is tsippor, which properly denotes the whole family of small birds that feed on grain (Leviticus 14:4; Psalms 84:3; 102:7). 



From Henry Hart's The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (1888) we read the following-
The word tsippor has been already dealt with in most of the passages where it occurs, in which it is translated ‘bird’ or ‘fowl.’ In two passages in the Psalms, however, it is rendered ‘sparrow,’ and the term appears perhaps to refer to a particular species. Elsewhere it is generic. In Ps. 84:3 we read, ‘The sparrow hath found an house, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, even Thine altars, O Lord of Hosts, my King, and my God.’ Here the metaphor is one of rejoicing; and the Psalmist pours forth his heart in glad and beautiful verse, full of the hope that he too may be permitted to dwell in the house of his God.
Canon Tristram considers that the latter ‘sparrow’ may be the ‘blue thrush’ (Monticola cyanus), which is a common and conspicuous bird in Palestine and Southern Europe, solitary in its habits, and fond of sitting on a roof or any conspicuous eminence while uttering a plaintive cry.  It breeds in the ruins about the temple at Jerusalem. Other species of sparrow are found in the Jordan Valley, as the marsh sparrow (P. Hispaniolensis) and the Moabitish sparrow of Tristram (P. Moabiticus).
Hart, H. C. (1888). The Animals Mentioned in the Bible (p. 203). London: The Religious Tract Society.

It was common in the Middle East to catch sparrows (and most small birds) and skin them and roast them to sell for a tidbit. Thus we have the mention of them where the Lord says He notices each and every fall of the sparrow and thus we should be comforted because we are much more valuable than these small, commonly sold tidbit birds.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.

What a gracious and loving God!

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Further Reading

Onions

Pomegranates

Making wine

Wheat v. darnel

Linen


Monday, September 19, 2016

Psychological impact of the Tribulation: people will literally be scared to death

OVERVIEW OF END TIME PROPHECY

In my essay yesterday about Why We Should Value Prophecy, I laid out some reasons why prophecy is just an important kind of biblical literature as other types of biblical literature, such as Law, History, Poetry, Wisdom, or Gospel. I also laid out some thoughts as to the purpose of prophecy.

By now (in 2016) most of the past prophecies have been fulfilled. There is one prophecy that has not been completely fulfilled however, and that is the bundle of prophecies relating to the time of the end of the end. We are in the end time. We have been in the end time since Jesus ascended, and will be until He returns in glory and judges all things, completes his 1000 year reign on earth, and then dissolves the Universe in a fervent heat and makes all things new. The prophecies remaining to be fulfilled describe all things through the end of Revelation 22, which include the Rapture, the Tribulation, the Millennial Kingdom, Satan Released for the Last Battle, and the New Heavens and New Earth.

I'd said a moment ago that the prophecies relating to the end time have not been completely fulfilled. Many of the prophecies are in a state of being fulfilled, while others are definitely not happening yet. Prophecies relating to the end time describe the symptoms of this long stretch of time between the two comings of Jesus. So while the prophecy of Paul in 2 Timothy 3 are describing general conditions during this wide swathe of time, the specific prophecies of certain events have not occurred. That's the interesting thing about prophecy. One prophecy can have a dual fulfillment, a far fulfillment, a discrete, one-time fulfillment, or a continual fulfillment.

Since it has been a long while since the last fulfilled prophecy, Jesus' incarnation, death, and resurrection, people may become lulled into a sense of security and mock the end time prophecies and judgments. Even this is prophesied! Peter wrote in 2 Peter 3:3-4,

First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. "Where is the promise of His coming?" they will ask. "Ever since our fathers fell asleep, everything continues as it has from the beginning of creation."

PSYCHOLOGICAL IMPACT OF THE END TIMES

The nature of sin and the end time are inextricably intertwined. The reason for the prophecies of the end of time are because of sin. Ever since Adam sinned in the Garden and man lost his position of pure fellowship with God, as humans and as a world, we have been in a continual state of devolvement and uncreation. Since the moment Eve bit the fruit and gave some to her husband, who was with her, (Genesis 3:6) all events have been working toward the end of God's plan. It began with one sin and it will end with all sin.

Sin is the reason for the end time. Because the end time events are about judgment for sin.

We downplay sin. We have respectable sins. We sin and do not repent. As a church we do not regard the spiritual battles with enough fervor. Where is the David tearing his clothes and crying out to God? Where is the city like Nineveh crying out for mercy in sackcloth and ashes from the king down to the lowliest slave? Where are the pray-ers and fast-ers interceding in the battle? Where is the concern for holiness in the church? Not that there aren't any, but the general trajectory of sin is that it tries with unceasing vigilance to corrupt our hearts and our churches. We already know what unresolved sin does to the human mind of the unsaved person- he is a total slave to it. Their minds are corrupt.

So that is the time of the end. More and more people will be totally corrupted by total sin, and not care.

This will make for an insane society. (Romans 1:28-32, Genesis 6:5, Matthew 24:37). We already see the effects of so much sin on human civilization. It can't be refuted that civilization of these days has hurtled down the road of libertinism, depravity, murder, and more. Marriage, the first God-given institution, is being dismissed and redefined. Gender itself, a biological absolute from God, is also being corrupted by the doctors' scalpel and the personal wills of depraved individuals. Life is not valued, ethical restrains are by the wayside, and the age-old cherished values of courage, personal duty, and honor are now old fashioned words, mocked by post-modernists.

And yet today's depravity and sin-loving condition (Romans 1:32) is nothing, nothing to what is to come.

For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, and slander. (Matthew 15:19).

If all those things are in the heart and come out as we see now, what till the Tribulation be like when there is no restraint at all on mans' proclivity to seek satan and his evil?! (2 Thessalonians 2:7).

I have tried and failed in past essays to bring to bear the totally depraved and horrific time the Tribulation will be. Because we often cannot or do not understand the nature of sin, we downplay the Tribulation's evil, ghastly and grotesque condition. However it will be a time when men will simply go mad from what they see.

I'd read somewhere, I'm sorry I forget where, the verse from  Deuteronomy 28:34, a section called The Curses of Disobedience, a number of judgments to come upon the People. Then the verse states,

so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see.

Men's behavior will be so depraved that just looking at what is happening will cause a person to go insane. We don't even know the half of what sin can do. We haven't even scratched the surface yet. While the Deuteronomy verse describes an event that has already occurred and passed into history, it mirrors the conditions of the Tribulation. Calvin says of the Deuteronomy verse that,
He adds that there shall be no end to their affliction, until the magnitude of their calamities shall stupefy them.
Matthew Henry says of the verse,

To complete their misery, it is threatened that they should be put quite out of the possession of their minds by all these troubles 

Walvoord says of the verse,
The afflictions mentioned here result from defeat in battle. The military exemptions mentioned in 20:5–7 would be reversed without God’s protection (28:30). Livestock and children would be lost forever (vv. 31–32). Foreign armies would reap the benefit of the farmers’ hard work (v. 33). These devastating losses would produce insanity (v. 34) and painful boils (v. 35; cf. v. 27
If men's minds were not able to apprehend the effects of defeat in battle, what of their mental state when actual hell is loosed on earth? When sin reigns? Jesus foretold the following as regards the Tribulation:

  • Men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; (Luke 21:26)
  • And upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; (Luke 21:25, KJV)
  • Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slaved and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, "Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?" (Revelation 6:15-17)
The Tribulation period will be a time of extermination. God will exterminate sinners from the world as cockroaches in disgust and fury. Here is one pastor's description:
Verse 26, "Men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world."
So we are in the end of the time of the Tribulation when the universe as we know it is being dramatically altered. And first is chaos before there is reconstruction. There's only one way to deal with all of the things that happen which we went through last time, dismay among nations. The word in the Greek is sunoche and it's only used one other time in the New Testament, it's a rare word. It means anguish. It describes a kind of human emotion which is overwhelming and overpowering. It even could be translated severe anxiety. There is...there is a sense of terror and a sense of anxiousness that knows no bounds and no relief. It is compounded by perplexity. The word aporia only here in the New Testament. It's as if the Holy Spirit uses words that define a time the likes of which has never existed and picks words that are very, very rare for such a rare time. Aporia, perplexity, it simply means confusion in its most severe form. 
Shock is so great that we are told that men are fainting from fear. And fainting is a rather benign way to translate another rare word used no where else in the New Testament, aposuche (?). What that word means is to breathe out or to expire. That's another word for to die. People will be scared to death. People will be scared to death. People all over the world will die of terror because of what is happening and because what is happening they know will lead to further horrors. (Source)
Even with that, there is no way to describe it. No one would really want to, anyway. We often dwell on the depths of God's love, knowing that we can't truly comprehend such eternal, perfect, infinite love. Just so, we cannot really understand sin. It also is boundless, eternal, and utterly incomprehensible to its depths. We think we understand sin. We don't. The Tribulation pagans and the saved will, because they will see it almost fully. Even then, they will not see what the nature of sin can do to its ends, because Jesus said that if He would not cut short the time, no flesh would be saved at all! (Matthew 24:22-23). Sin destroys utterly.

Prophecy isn't a sphere of study for the prurient intellectual dabbler. It is a serious sphere given to us by the grace of God so we may answer the question Peter asked. He explained the coming end of time judgments and fulfillment of prophetic promises and asked his flock the following:

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! (2 Peter 3:11-12)

Knowing what is coming because we have the blessed advantage of peeking into to the future from God's word, what sort of people are we to be?

My call is to urge us now, me included, to live in purity. Pursue holiness. Repent often, and in sincerity. Witness of Jesus and His truths. We do not want our best friend left behind. We do not want our worst enemy left behind. We praise Jesus for His soon return in glory and wrath, to render justice for sin. We know that is necessary. But we don't have to ignore the prophecies, we don't have to diminish the prophecies, we don't have to be casual about the prophecies.

Keep this in mind: the truth of the last of the last days will be such that men's brains will figuratively explode with incomprehensibility because of what they see.

Even so, come Lord Jesus. (Revelation 22:20).




Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why we should value prophecy

With all the prophesying 'prophets' these days, and 'words from the Lord', and alleged divine revelations, it is easy to dismiss real biblical prophecies. Don't be tempted to lump in the false revelations with the real ones. We should highly value the prophecy of the Bible. (And only the prophecy of the Bible).
The Bible is not one "book," it is a "library" of sixty-six books that were written over a period of more than a 1,500 years by many different authors. These authors were "inspired" in their thinking and writing by the Holy Spirit. Thus the Bible is the inspired Word of God without error. It also has the human "touch" from its authors. Paul is different than David, who is different than James or Moses. So their style and personality comes out to us. ... The Bible is Literature, as is any book filled with language. It has: Law, History, Wisdom, Poetry, Gospel, Epistles, Prophecy, and Apocalyptic. Literature. (Source)
THE VALUE OF PROPHECY

I can't relate to you in one essay all the reasons we should value biblical prophecy, but here are a few.

When we read the Bible we need to remember that there are different kinds of literature within it. One of those types of literature is prophetic literature, which these days is either abused or maligned. People who don't study properly either ignore prophecy or dismiss it. Others dwell on it to the exclusion of the other books of the Bible. Some mix man's prophecies with Jesus', thus twisting it and causing disregard of it by the saner members of the faith, but who still remain intimidated by it. The Lord in His wisdom gave us this Book with its different types of writing, and included in it are prophecies, which means this kind of literature is just as valuable as all the others.

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

Prophecy is useful for training in righteousness? Yes. In this essay I will explain why. Let's begin with the purpose of prophecy. Bible.org says,
While prophecy may be figuratively or symbolically revealed, we can expect it to be literally fulfilled. In type, the Messiah who was to come was portrayed as the bronze serpent, which was lifted up on a pole (Numbers 21:19; John 3:14), and as the Passover lamb (Exodus 12; John 1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19; cf. 2:21-25). In Psalm 22, the passion of our Lord is described by the very terms which David used to portray his personal anguish of soul. In Isaiah 53, we have another prophecy of the atoning work of Israel’s Messiah. All these prophetic pictures were literally fulfilled. So, too, the prophecies that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:5-6) of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-23) were literally fulfilled.
Whether in symbol, in figure, or in direct statement, the prophecies of the Old Testament which have already been fulfilled were fulfilled literally. We should therefore expect that the prophecies which remain unfulfilled, those which pertain to the second coming of our Lord, will be literally fulfilled.
This is an exceedingly clarifying statement: While prophecy may be figuratively or symbolically revealed, we can expect it to be literally fulfilled. So often, the figures, types, and symbols of prophecy confuse the reader. They believe that since prophecy is written in figurative language, the result of the prophecy must also be figurative. Let it not be so! For Jesus is true and real. His acts from history and in prophecy were and will be real and true.

The basic principle is that scripture interprets scripture. Therefore the figures, types, and symbols given in the entire Bible, not just prophecy, can be interpreted. For example, when clouds are mentioned it is associated with Deity. The harp or lyre is usually associated with prophesying. And so on. People usually have no difficulty interpreting the symbols in other kinds of biblical literature, and in prophecy should be no different.

Jesus values prophecy. Not did He tell us ahead of time, (Matthew 24:25), but Jesus prophesied His resurrection by referring to Jonah the Prophet's time in the belly of the great fish. (Matthew 12:40). When Jesus explained Himself to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, He began with Moses and the Prophets. (Luke 24:27). Prophecy explains other prophecy and in fact, all scripture interprets all scripture.

Just because Old Testament prophecy was not fulfilled in a way that people expected, does not diminish the original prophecy. Who would have expected the Lord to come as a suffering servant? Except that in Isaiah 53 it says so. Who would have expected the Lord to come from Nazareth and Egypt and Bethlehem? Except it is all foretold. (Hosea 11:1, Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:22-23). The difficulty comes when people overlay their own expectations on top of prophecy to confirm their own man-made meaning, or worse, their own personal prophecies (eisegesis) rather than draw out of prophecy the intended meaning (exegesis).

THE PURPOSE OF PROPHECY

One of the purposes of prophecy is to demonstrate God's sovereignty and His omniscience. God orchestrates all things because He is the author and architect of the universe, all doings on heaven and on earth are in His hand.

declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,’ Isaiah 46:10)

This should be enormously comforting to us. He is in control of all things. When we read of events God prophesied in the past and history bears this out in scripture, scripture is validated and we love the Lord all the more for being true and solid.

For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. (Romans 15:4).

Prophetic scripture produces hope. The Romans verse said that through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. All scripture can offer hope, the Law and the History and the Psalms, and the Prophetic scriptures are encouraging and spark hope in our hearts. We look ahead to the glories that wait. We will see Jesus face to face and no longer through a glass darkly, We will receive our rewards. We will worship and fellowship without sin or blot or stain. We will live forever in New Jerusalem in Light and Beauty. We look around on earth at what needs to be done, but we look ahead as to Who and why we do the things that must be done! Paul concluded his great speech on the end times by saying,

Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:18).

So, the prophetic scriptures are both hopeful and encouraging.

Prophetic scripture enlivens us to good works. First, we love to share the glories that await the believer. As for the non-believer, prophecies of scripture show us that the time is short. Any man may die at any time, for his life is a vapor, (James 4:14) and then comes the judgment. (Hebrews 9:27). Woe to the unsaved! Moreover, the times are short, for Jesus may return at any moment. We are living on borrowed time! He will return in wrath to judge the living and the dead, this is a sure word of prophecy. (Revelation 19:11, 2 Timothy 4:1, 1 Peter 4:5) In light of this, we have a duty, and that is,

And he commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one appointed by God to be judge of the living and the dead. (Acts 10:42).

Prophecy should remind us that our lives on earth are temporary and we must share in obedience the eternal truths while we can.

Conclusion:

Though there are no doubt many other instructive lessons to be learned from the prophetic scriptures, the ones covered here were the value and purpose ofprophecy-
  • Prophecy is one of the several types of literature in the Bible,
  • Prophecy is an important part of scripture,
  • Prophecy demonstrates God's sovereignty and His omniscience,
  • Prophetic scripture produces hope,
  • Prophetic scripture enlivens us to good works in obedience.
In the next essay I want to discuss the nature of sin in light of the prophetic time of the Tribulation recorded in Revelation. I'll close now with this thought from from Martyn Lloyd Jones from his sermon The God of the Covenants Acts 7:1-8,

The God who planned the beginning also planned the end. ~Martyn Lloyd Jones

Earth burns up, 2 Peter 3:10. Photo, NASA

Saturday, September 17, 2016

"Fire fall down" - a good thing, or a very, very bad thing?


Have you ever sung that song about fire fall down? You know, the one from Hillsong United? You might want to re-think that.

In the excerpt below from the Strange Fire Panel Q&A session, Todd Friel, John MacArthur, and Justin Peters discuss the theological implications of pleading with God to send fire down on us.

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Clip #20: (Singing) Fire fall down, fire fall down on us, we pray… As we seek you, Fire fall down, Fire fall down on us, we pray…

TODD: About 16 thousand kids are in the auditorium right now.

Clip #20: (Singing) Fire fall down, fire fall down on us, we…

TODD: All right. Now that song, by the way, goes on for 17 minutes. The word "fire" calling down fire from heaven is a persistent theme that we hear. Theologically do we want fire to come from heaven? In the context, and Justin can point this out, too, a lot of the conversation is about feeling, a burning, being set on fire, thereby calling the fire down from heaven. Theologically how do we respond to this prayer to call down fire from heaven.

JUSTIN: I can only assume that they’re referencing Acts 2, taking an image that is tied to a larger context. The fire there is defined as, even we were talking about this morning, clear and discernible ways that essentially, ultimately it was representative of the Spirit’s coming and the Spirit’s expression was in the gift of tongues for a specific purpose, to confirm the Apostles, to confirm what He was doing, as R.C. said yesterday, and now bringing out a people for himself, confirming the Jews were, in fact, going to be a part of the church. So it has a context. But instead it’s removed from that context and made to mean something just strictly experiential.

JOHN: Yeah, and again that’s a non-repeatable event, Pentecost, as we heard from R.C. Pentecost and then the subsequent exact same reality occurs I those different people groups to somehow turn Pentecost into this kind of mockery, as if you could literally call down fire from heaven is not only unbiblical, it’s just folly. But it’s more than that, it’s manipulation. It’s all about mind control. Rodney Howard Brown is a mind manipulator.

From a human viewpoint, even more frightening is this is demonic from a supernatural viewpoint. Fire came down from heaven, of course, in Leviticus 10 and consumed the worshipers…consumed the ones who offered the sacrifice. That’s the whole point of this conference. John talked about fire baptism, John the Baptist, and that was judgment. I really don’t…these people are so a-biblical, they’re so acquainted with words, Bible words without Bible sentences, Bible words without Bible context, Bible words without Bible doctrine. They throw the words around and they become means by which they manipulate people’s minds. Fire is obviously an incendiary word. It has all kinds of implications of heat and power and energy and…I mean, that’s a perfect word for them to use to manipulate people. The next time fire comes from heaven, it’s going to engulf the world in judgment. God will not drown the world in water again, but He will end the world in fire. The elements will end with a fervent heat. It’s going to be an atomic implosion, the uncreation when the elements melt with fervent heat, that is fire from heaven.

And I don’t think anybody in his right mind would be calling down fire from heaven, because that’s…that’s…going forward, that is a judgment metaphor after Pentecost. You will be baptized by the Holy Spirit and with fire. That’s another baptism, and that’s a judgment.

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Moral of the story? Lyrics matter.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Kay Cude poetry: Broken

Kay Cude poetry, Used with permission.

Artist's statement:
This was the very first Christian piece I ever composed. I began it as a poem of heartbreak about my son, but as I wrote and edited, it moved away from my sorrow about him to my sorrow about my spiritual immaturity and subsequent failures. Then it continued on to the approaching darkness of this age and my inadequacies and weakness relative to my witness for Christ.  I still am panged when I read this piece, but determined to continue on and strive against my "self" and honor Christ.

Click to enlarge

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Do you feel like you're just plodding in the faith?

So many people, especially women, are hopscotching the globe founding important ministries, establishing orphanages, 'empowering' native women, or teaching to packed arenas, that it makes the rest of us humdrum ladies feel, ahem, left behind. Should we be doing the big things? Can we do the bigger things? Are we doing enough?

All I do every single day, is go to work. I come home and I study my Bible &pray, I write, and if I have enough energy after that, I read a bit. Then I go to sleep and do it all over again. On the weekends all I do is grocery shopping, laundry, cook the week's lunches ahead, and study a lot more and write a lot more. I go to church on Sunday late afternoon. Bed time. Repeat.

I'm not skipping off to host conferences or giving interviews or unashamedly on tour or in Rwanda on a storytelling trip. I wash dishes in obscurity in Comer GA and my job is to help kindergarteners tie their shoes and learn their ABC's. It's not glamorous. It doesn't seem like it's very much at all of a contribution to the kingdom. I mean, Beth Moore is a nearly 60 year old grandma busy helping her daughter through her unbiblical divorce and interacting with her grandchildren yet keeps a a packed schedule. Younger women also seem to be doing the big things, the glamorous things, like Jennie Allen and Raechel Myers and Kari Jobe. As for me, I'm just plodding.

Well, let's hear it for the plodders.

First, if you are a mother, you are in a highly esteemed Biblical position, You are doing such wonderful work for the kingdom in being a foundation block in society, in raising pure young women and strong young men for the next generation. I thank Mrs Paton and Mrs Spurgeon and Mrs MacArthur and Mrs Johnson and all the other Missus' who raised men and women who in turn, impact the kingdom.

Secondly if you think of the life of Paul most often we think of the highlights. His speeches before thousands, his dramatic miracles, his appearances before kings and leaders.

However, Paul also walked. Thousands upon thousands of miles, he plodded. He trudged. He hiked. From one town to another, in all weathers. In addition, Paul sewed tents. (Acts 18:3). He did the mundane. He wrote letter upon letter to friends. He fundraised. The in-between miracle times in his three missionary journeys were rife with the mundane and the insignificant, except nothing about a Christian's life is insignificant. Not Paul's and not mine and not yours. The Lord cares for all our concerns. He clothes us and feeds us and He even knows the number of hairs on our heads. To Him, it's all significant.

As for the women of the New Testament, Dorcas was beloved not because she was on storytelling tours of Rwanda empowering women for great things, but because she sewed. She made clothes for the poor and she "was always doing good". (Acts 9:36). She lovingly helped, humbly and quietly, within her own sphere.

Mary, mother of God? Do we hear of her going on her book tour, telling about the angel that came to her one day, and the miracle of the three wise men or hyping up audiences with her harrowing tale of narrowly escaping the massacre of the innocents? No. Whether she was in Egypt or in Israel, Mary simply raised her Son. She brought Him up in the faith and managed her household and she raised Jesus' siblings too. A few times a year she made the pilgimage to the Temple and the rest of the time, she did what women then and onward have done, she lived in her home and she was faithful to the Lord through His word.

Here are two articles about the plodding kind of faith that endures. That kind of faith is cement. It's bedrock.

The first is by Kevin DeYoung, titled, Stop the Revolution. Join the Plodders.
It’s sexy among young people—my generation—to talk about ditching institutional religion and starting a revolution of real Christ-followers living in real community without the confines of church. Besides being unbiblical, such notions of churchless Christianity are unrealistic. It’s immaturity actually, like the newly engaged couple who think romance preserves the marriage, when the couple celebrating their golden anniversary know it’s the institution of marriage that preserves the romance. Without the God-given habit of corporate worship and the God-given mandate of corporate accountability, we will not prove faithful over the long haul.
This one is one of my favorites. It's by John MacArthur, titled An Unremarkable Faith
Meet Larry, a thirty-six year old Science teacher. Larry married Cathy 12 years ago. They love each other and enjoy raising their two sons. Larry’s life wouldn’t hold out much interest to the average citizen. His Facebook account doesn’t draw many friends and nobody ever leaves a comment on his blog. In fact, most people would summarize Larry’s life with one word—boring. But not Larry. Teaching osmosis to junior high students, playing Uno with his kids, and working in the yard with Cathy is paradise to him. But the real love of his life is Jesus. Larry’s a Christian. He’s been walking with the Lord for more than 20 years.
Not that founding orphanages isn't worthwhile or something women or men can't or shouldn't do. Not that going on a missionary trip to Africa isn't something Jesus wants us to do. But the big doers are fewer than we think, despite the hype. Most of the church is populated with plodders. As Kevin DeYoung concluded his article,
Put away the Che Guevara t-shirts, stop the revolution, and join the rest of the plodders. Fifty years from now you’ll be glad you did.



Wednesday, September 14, 2016

God magnified His word above all else, who is Andy Stanley to subvert it?

I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. (Psalm 138:2)

It's currently fashionable to dismiss the holy Word of God, AKA the Bible. It supposedly proves one's relevance to say that one desires a closer relationship with Jesus as opposed to studying holy writ. When the heretical novel called The Shack was published in 2008 it swept the Christian world, remaining at a number one bestselling spot for several years. In it, the author never pointed to God's word as sufficient and infallible. It rather undermined those concepts by insisting on personal revelation and denigrated the Bible as 'that old dusty King James" thing. The author scoffed at the idea that God has spoken authoritatively and sufficiently through the Bible. He points away from Scripture he points towards subjective promptings and leadings. (source).

The subtle mocking and scoffing of the Word of God, so delicately put in a thinly disguised new age treatise in 2008, is by now in 2016 a full-blown attack by a leading and influential Southern Baptist Minister. The salvos have just kept coming, prompting pastor, author, and podcaster Justin Peters and Pastor Jim Osman to take note. Peters said on his podcast Friday on World View Weekend, that
A friend of mine sent me a video interview of Andy Stanley by Russell Moore. Moore asked Stanley what he would do if he were the "Evangelical Pope." Stanley had some rather surprising remedies for what ails the Christian church. I'm joined in studio (my office) by my friend and pastor Jim Osman and we play the clip and discuss.
In the clip, Stanley said that he would ask pastors of all kinds (senior, youth, seminarians, etc) to "get the spotlight off the Bible and back on the resurrection. Let's get people's attention back on Jesus as soon as possible. To leverage the authority we have in the resurrection, as opposed to scripture."

Matthew Henry said, of the Psalm 138:2 verse, that the LORD'S name and His Word is above all things-
For thou hast magnified thy word (thy promise, which is truth) above all thy name. God has made himself known to us in many ways in creation and providence, but most clearly by his word. The judgments of his mouth are magnified even above those of his hand, and greater things are done by them. The wonders of grace exceed the wonders of nature; and what is discovered of God by revelation is much greater than what is discovered by reason.
As a practical matter for us today in living our Christian lives, do not compromise on your life and always remember the Lord God Himself magnified His word and His Name above all else. Here is John MacArthur on the fact that our God is an uncompromising God who expects of His disciples, An Uncompromising Life
It might be well to remind ourselves at the very beginning that God is the uncompromising God. God never compromises an absolute. God never compromises a principle. God never sets aside a truth for expediency purposes. God always lives according to His word. In fact, He said, "I have exalted My word above all My name." In other words, He says, "I Myself, as to My nature, make Myself submissive to My word."

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

Further Reading

June 24, 2015, Is Andy Stanley Ashamed of the Bible?

March 31, 2016, Andy Stanley's problem with the Bible

Septem 1, 2016, Andy Stanley Sermon Review: The Bible is not infallible, nor needed

Septem 1, 2016, Shocked Andy Stanley learns the New Testament part of the Bible (satire)

Septem 12, 2016: These Words Shall Be On Your Heart, Pastor Gabe on why Stanley is so, so, so wrong

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Why the therapeutic gospel is another gospel

In the purchasable resource called Drive By Discernment, the apocryphal or heretical gospels are mentioned. Some of these you may have seen some of these false gospels on secular Library bookshelves, books such as -

Gospel of Thomas
Gospel of Peter
Gospel of Nicodemus
Early Life of Christ
Gospel of Judas

There are other kinds of false gospels. In a blog essay of the past, I'd written about the therapeutic gospel, a point made by Trevin Wax. He'd said that the true Gospel is Christ centered. The Therapeutic Gospel ultimately fails to satisfy because it switches out the great reward of knowing God for the lesser reward of receiving something from God.

In the previous, longer essay, Pastor Wax compares the subtle shift in a counterfeit Gospel from being Christ-centered to man-centered, by comparing the parable of the sheep as they are presented in Luke and in the false Gospel of Thomas. Here is the Gospel of Luke:

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Gospel of (Luke 15:4-7)

The other is from the non-canonical, false Gospel of Thomas.

Jesus said, "The kingdom is like a shepherd who had a hundred sheep. One of them, the largest, went astray. He left the ninety-nine sheep and looked for that one until he found it. When he had gone to such trouble, he said to the sheep, 'I care for you more than the ninety-nine.' (FALSE, NON-CANONICAL “Gospel of Thomas”)

What has happened here, said Mr Wax, is that in the counterfeit Gnostic gospel the writer has shifted the emphasis. The point of the parable in the counterfeit gospel is about the worth of the sheep, instead of the work of the Shepherd. Any teaching that does this, is another gospel.

Paul wrote in Galatians 1:8 some very strong words about 'another gospel'. He said

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

Matthew Henry wrote of this verse,
Some would set up the works of the law in the place of Christ's righteousness, and thus they corrupted Christianity. The apostle solemnly denounces, as accursed, every one who attempts to lay so false a foundation. All other gospels than that of the grace of Christ, whether more flattering to self-righteous pride, or more favourable to worldly lusts, are devices of Satan. And while we declare that to reject the moral law as a rule of life, tends to dishonour Christ, and destroy true religion, we must also declare, that all dependence for justification on good works, whether real or supposed, is as fatal to those who persist in it. While we are zealous for good works, let us be careful not to put them in the place of Christ's righteousness, and not to advance any thing which may betray others into so dreadful a delusion.
As Henry wrote, any 'gospel flattering to self-righteous pride' (or any other emotion, like self-esteem), or 'more favorable to worldly lusts', (like prosperity gospel) are devices of satan. Anyone who persists in them is dooming himself.

The therapeutic gospel appeals to your self-esteem, and it presented in a way that aims to make you "feel better" about yourself. Many women 'Bible' teachers promote a therapeutic gospel. They focus the lessons on the worth of the sheep rather than the work of the Shepherd.

The truth is, none of us suffers from low self-esteem. We already love ourselves with all our heart, all our mind, all our strength, and all our soul. Jesus said to get the attention off ourselves and love the Lord your God as we love ourselves. (Luke 10:27). If we loved God with as much steam as we already love ourselves, we'd really be cooking.

However the device of satan is to prevent that shift in attention. The therapeutic Gospel is one of those devices. If you listen to any teacher who focuses on the worth of the sheep rather than the work of the Shepherd, you are listening to another gospel. Rather than focusing on ourselves, In Matthew 16:24 re read that we are to deny ourselves

Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

I'll close with an echo of Paul's words. If anyone teaches another gospel, let him be accursed. We are much too friendly with those who bring fatal gospels. Gill's Exposition says of the Galatians 1:8 verse,
let him be accursed, or "anathema"; see 1 Corinthians 16:22 which may respect his excommunication out of the church, and his sentence of condemnation by Christ at the last day; and the sense be this, let him be ejected from the ministry of the word, degraded from his office, and cast out of the church; let him be no more a minister, nor a member of it; and let him be abhorred of men, and accursed of Christ; let him hear the awful sentence, "go ye accursed", &c.
Finally, Barnes said of the Galatians 1:8 verse,
...that we are not to patronise or countenance such preachers. No matter what their zeal or their apparent sincerity, or their apparent sanctity, or their apparent success, or their real boldness in rebuking vice, we are to withdraw from them.
What makes us feel better, ultimately, is resting in Christ and looking at Him full in the face. Reflecting on His attributes is an endless delight.

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

You (I) don't have to say everything

There's always controversy in the world. We live in a contentious world, led by a liar who is also a thief and a destroyer. Ergo...conte...