Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Vehicle Assembly Building vs New Jerusalem

That's me in the 1990s visiting Cape Canaveral, where the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is located. The VAB is the building NASA uses to put together missiles, rockets and the Shuttle to go into space.

The Cape itself is interesting, and I was fascinated by the building. I'm a patriot, I love the United States. I believe it's the greatest country ever established and it is beautiful and diverse and its principles upon founding were good ones. I love living here and I loved the trip across its land my husband and I took in the '90s in our VW Camper van. From sea to shining sea, indeed.

So when we got to Florida, both of us being science geeks, we camped at Titusville, a city on the east coast of FL in the region known as the Space Cast. The Space Coast is host to Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. All of NASA-launched manned spaceflights (running from Project Mercury in 1961 to the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011) departed from either KSC or Cape Canaveral. That area of Florida is beautiful and the museums to attend and US history to be learned there is terrific.

The Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) is a magnificent monument to man's determination to achieve, to adventure, and to reach out toward the limits of what we may be able to do and see and build. The facts around the VAB, according to Wikipedia, are as follows:
The Vehicle (originally Vertical) Assembly Building, or VAB, at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) is a building designed to assemble large space vehicles, such as the massive Saturn V and the Space Shuttle. The future Space Launch System (SLS) will also be assembled there. 
At 129,428,000 cubic feet it is one of the largest buildings in the world by volume. The building is at Launch Complex 39 at KSC, halfway between Jacksonville and Miami, and due east of Orlando on Merritt Island on the Atlantic coast of Florida. 
The VAB is the largest single-story building in the world, was the tallest building in Florida until 1974, and is still the tallest building in the United States outside an urban area. 
The VAB is 526 feet tall, 716 feet long and 518 feet wide. It covers 8 acres, and encloses 129,428,000 cubic feet of space. The building has at least 10,000 tons of air conditioning equipment, including 125 ventilators on the roof supported by four large air handlers (four cylindrical structures west of the building) to keep moisture under control. Air in the building can be completely replaced every hour. The interior volume of the building is so vast that it has its own weather, including "rain clouds form[ing] below the ceiling on very humid days"
Since the VAB is visible out to sea for miles upon miles and dwarfs the nearby lighthouse, when we lived on our sailboat we used the building as a landmark to guide us in to port. I think it's amazing that the VAB is so large it generates its own weather system. The engineers of the 1950s and early 1960s who were part of the Space Program at the inception must have been brilliant and admirable men. Someone along the way knew that in order to build rockets there must be a building in which to assemble them, and engineers set about developing the plans to create such a large structure to suit the purpose. It is a tremendous building and it's used for a tremendous purpose and we Americans have every right to be proud of it.

But it's nothing. It is all vanity, striving after wind.

In the end time when the seal, trumpet, and bowl judgments of Revelation occur, the building will be swallowed by hurricanes or tsunamis or some other disaster. Man's work, this large building, will fall. You want to know something extraordinary? There is another large, square building that exceeds the dimensions even of this fantastic Florida structure. We will live in it, and it is magnificent compared to the VAB, as stunning as that building is. It is called New Jerusalem, and it is at once mansions, a city, and a nation. It is our future home.

The VAB encloses 129,428,000 cubic feet of space. New Jerusalem encloses 3 billion cubic miles. The VAB is 529 feet tall. New Jerusalem is 1,500 miles tall. We are so proud of man's accomplishment but God's city is so much larger, more magnificent, so impressive, it stuns the mind.

Here is a map showing the location of the VAB. The dot on the map to which the hand is pointing is NOT representative of its size. As impressive as the VAB is, it is an insignificant, invisible dot on a map of one single state.

Here is a representation of the New Jerusalem compared in size to the landforms underneath it.


Here is a synopsis of the size of New Jerusalem from the website Tour of Heaven. (A biblical tour, not a personal visit!)
Size of New Jerusalem
How large is the city? That varies slightly depending on the version of the Bible. The ESV and NIV versions say it is 12,000 stadia in length and width (Rev. 21:16), where a stadia is 607 feet. This translates to 1,400 miles, which is what the NLT Bible says. However, the KJV and other versions say 12,000 furlongs, which translates to 1,500 miles. 
Regardless of whether the city is 1,400 miles or 1,500 miles in length and width, it is shaped like a square at the base. This means New Jerusalem is larger than India with nearly 2 million square miles. These measurements are meant to be literal since they are described as man's measurements (Rev. 21:17). 
Even more astounding than the size at the base is the height that is also at least 1,400 miles (Rev. 21:16). This goes well beyond Earth's atmosphere and into space. If a building in the city is this high and has a generous 12 feet per story, the building would be over 600,000 stories! 
To give you a better idea just how big New Jerusalem is, above are some representations of what it would look like on Earth if the city is shaped like a cube. 
Over North America:
If you are 1 mile away from the city, you would not see the top but might if you are 10 miles away. At 5,000 miles away, it would appear more than 130 times larger than the moon. To appear the size of the moon, you would have to be 160,427 miles away.
Because the city is at least 1,400 miles in length, width and height, it could be shaped like a cube or pyramid. Does the height refer to the wall that surrounds the city or the tallest building? Rev. 21:17 says the wall around the city is about 200 feet, but ESV, NASB and KJV bibles don't specify whether this is the thickness or height. The NIV bible says this is about 200 feet thick, but the footnote says "or high". A cube-shaped city would make sense in the sense the Most Holy place in Solomon's temple (1 Kings 6:20) was shaped like a cube. However, scripture does not provide a definitive answer as to whether the city is cube or pyramid-shaped.
WOW!! At The Cripplegate, they write about the New Jerusalem too.
Have you ever thought about heaven as a city?
In the apostle John’s account of the new earth in Revelation 21-22, prominent attention is given to the New Jerusalem, the capital of the eternal heaven. Nearly half of Revelation 21 is devoted to describing the physical properties of the magnificent metropolis. Its glorious splendor will be the heart of the new earth, for it is here that God Himself dwells. 
According to Revelation 21:15–17, the measurements of the New Jerusalem are immense, approximately 1,500 miles long on each side. By way of illustration, if one corner of the city were placed on Los Angeles, a second corner would sit on Mexico City, a third corner on St. Louis, Missouri, and the final corner on Edmonton, Alberta. If the center of the New Jerusalem rested where the current Jerusalem stands, it would stretch across three continents from Greece to Iran to Saudi Arabia to Libya. The current city of Los Angeles has an area of 468 square miles. The state of California comprises roughly 164,000 square miles. But the New Jerusalem will encompass over 2 million square miles. That is the equivalent of 14 states of California put together; or 4,807 cities of Los Angeles combined.
So the biggest building in the US outside a metropolitan area, a building taller than the Great Pyramid at Giza, is really a fleck of a piece of dust compared to the city of God that Jesus has been preparing.

One more stunning fact from The Cripplegate:
The massive city houses a total volume of more than 3 billion cubic miles. In light of the city’s immensity, some commentators have speculated that the resurrection bodies of the redeemed may not be subject to gravity. If so, the residents of the New Jerusalem would be able to traverse through space not only horizontally, but also vertically, making every part of this glorious cube inhabitable and accessible to the citizens of the New Jerusalem.

I've been looking at the dimensions of the New Jerusalem and I have not even mentioned its beauty nor its purpose. Read Revelation 21 and 22 for more information on the city's dazzling components. When I see the VAB and think of how man thinks he has achieved something, I like to compare to how majestic, big, and creative our God is. The VAB is big, New Jerusalem is bigger. The VAB is impressive, the New Jerusalem is stunningly magnificent. What man can do is fine, what God can do dumbfounds us.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. 9"For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)


Further Reading

FMI on the Vehicle Assembly Building, interior shots and fun stuff, go here.

Largest buildings in the world

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Beth Moore's Simulcast "Audacious", her new book, and a discernment lesson

Mrs Sharon Lareau has written several excellent blog essays preparing to review and then reviewing Beth Moore's simulcast which was broadcast this past September. She used the simulcast to illustrate HOW to prepare to absorb biblical truths, and HOW to discern. I recommend the series.

Evaluating Beth Moore’s Upcoming Live Simulcast
Evaluation and Red Flags:
To that end, I would like to use this opportunity to do an exercise that can help increase discernment. Today we are going to do a pretest. It is a short investigation into the official, available material that we have about the simulcast. This is something we can do whenever we are heading to any Christian event. It can help us get an indication of the soundness of the message or teacher before we even show up.

Class on Discernment: Living Proof Live Simulcast
I invite you to do something as you watch. I invite you to turn the simulcast into a class on discernment. This means, we will use the simulcast to practice the ability to confirm truth and detect error in a Bible message or teaching. Some may feel it is unnecessary to do that with a Beth Moore event since she is so established and well liked as a Bible teacher. I would respond that it is always necessary to be discerning at every event or service where God’s word is taught. It is necessary even when the preacher you’ve sat under for 20 years gets up to preach.

Simulcast Review Update
I have had a couple of inquiries about if and when there would be a follow-up post regarding the Living Proof Live simulcast from September 12, 2015. Since almost two weeks have passed since then, I thought it might be a good idea to give an update here. After viewing the simulcast, I did decide that I would write a review. There is a lot to cover, and I am being careful in my analysis. It is taking time and my health situation comes into play too, but I do hope to have it ready in a few weeks. Please pray for me as I work towards presenting a fair and thorough review. There are definitely some things worth writing about that I hope to share with you.


When Mrs Lareau posts her actual review I'll post it here. Meanwhile please refer to her previous entries for great lessons on how to discern.

After all this, I became curious as to Mrs Moore's new book, Audacious. Moore said that she tailored the book specifically for simulcast and that for the first time her simulcasts would have a theme (read: book to buy AKA merchandising). The book Audacious will be released November 1, but online buzz about it is heightened to a fever pitch.

Regular readers of the blog know that I am not a fan of Mrs Moore or her teachings. I have written extensively regarding the unbiblical nature of her teaching, her poor interpretive capabilities, her twisting scripture, pop psychology substituting for biblical truth, her legalism, and her unbiblical direct revelations. There are also issues with her lifestyle, all of which combine to show her not only below reproach as a teacher of the Word but a false convert. She is a wolf in sheep's clothing. I have used scripture to show these things and have prayerfully considered all the ramifications of my statements.

Now, turning to the blurb for Audacious, we read some troubling things just in those two short paragraphs, things which not only definitively show in short order the 'living proof' of Moore's unworthiness to teach. These things also genuinely stir me to a righteous anger and a deep sorrow over the women who follow Moore. The righteous anger comes in because I am zealous for the name of Jesus, and Mrs Moore says and does things which impugn His name and character. I am sorrowful for the women who follow Moore because I know these women are in bondage somewhere and attachment to Moore is the out-working of it.

Here is the book blurb for Audacious:
Thirty years in the making, "Audacious" is a deep dive into the message that has compelled Beth Moore to serve women around the globe. Glancing over the years of ministry behind her and strengthening her resolve to the call before her, she came to the realization that her vision for women was incomplete. It lacked something they were aching for.

Something Jesus was longing for. Beth identifies that missing link by digging through Scripture, unearthing life experiences, and spotlighting a turning point with the capacity to infuse any life with holy passion and purpose. What was missing? Well, let's just say, it's "audacious" and it's for "all" of us. And it's the path to the life you were born to live."
1. Mrs Moore is fulfilling HER vision for women? We fulfill the vision outlined by God which is in His word. (Mt 12:50).

2. Anyone who has taught for 30 years and is just realizing that a critical component of "her" vision for women has been lacking all this time, is not a very good student of the Word. We're not talking about increasing sanctification where the disciple gains deeper insights atop earlier insights, but language expressed here and elsewhere that states "OOPS, Here is something new to know that I overlooked for 30 years, and you ALL need it!" That is an audacious statement. A classic 'tell' of the false teacher is that they have the heretofore unknown or undiscovered answer to the fulfillment of some fleshly lust or want, NOT they they will use scripture to show who Jesus is so that we may glorify Him. (2 Peter 2:18)
So the true teacher asks, “What has God said in his Word?” The false teacher asks, “What do people want to hear? What will appeal to their flesh?” (Source)
3. Mrs Moore flatly says she is speaking for "all" women. I resent a person speaking for me, saying I have been aching for something unbenownst to me and that Mrs Moore knows what I ache for and that she has the answer to that ache. This is simply ridiculous on the face of it. More than ridiculous, it's audacious to claim to be speaking for "all" women. It is the basest appeal to the flesh: 'I have something you "all" need.' (Genesis 3:5-6). I'm sorry, but I am not aching nor am I incomplete. (Colossians 2:10).

4. Mrs Moore spends much time inflaming emotional and spiritual lusts and she tempts women with how she can fulfill them with her new revelation/information/book/method... Of course satisfying fleshly lusts never lasts, which is why you need another Beth Moore book so you can try again.

5. Worst of all is her statement that Mrs Moore purports to know what is in the heart and mind of Jesus, and that He is "longing." Get a close grip on what Moore is saying here. Moore actually says in her book blurb, 'It [her message] lacked something they [women] were aching for. Something Jesus was longing for.' Beth Moore has a message Jesus is longing to hear? I think not. (1 Timothy 6:4, Isaiah 14:14). When I hear statements like these and their blasphemy sinks in, I become righteously angry.

The book publication date is known to be Nov. 1, and in essays, write-ups and interviews she consistently says that it would "spoil" the simulcast to "reveal" it ahead of time. This is one reason the buzz has become so inflamed but if you pierce the buzz you will see how unbiblical this kind of merchandising is. (2 Peter 2:3). We will pierce the buzz and expose Mrs Moore's message by comparing her approach to teaching this 'new' message and how Paul approached the same at Mars Hill.

Paul had been preaching in Athens, Greece for a while. The message of the Gospel was igniting among the populace as Paul preached on hillsides and the synagogues. (Acts 17:17). His message, which really WAS new at the time, aroused a buzz, and the Stoics and Epicureans (who were always ready to hear some new thing, Acts 17:21) invited Paul to speak at Mars Hill in the Areopagan arena to a large number of people.

Let's say between the time of the Philosophers' invitation and the time Paul preached to the masses in the arena was 6 weeks, the same amount of time between the first Audacious-themed September 12 simulcast and the publication of the Moore book. Let's say Paul said and did what Mrs Moore is doing. Let's use actual Audacious FAQ language but overlay it to Paul's experience at the Areopagus at Mars Hill in Athens Greece.


Areopagus FAQ

I have a teaching from God that you ALL need to hear, it will fulfill you and you will ache no more.

And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean." (Acts 17:19-20)

You must attend the Areopagus to hear it. The Stoics and Epicureans must pay 800 sheckels to host me in the arena, and you must pay $20 individually to attend.

May we hear your special message or read it on the scrolls prior to your speech you'll deliver at the Areopagus?

I wrote this message down in a book called "Mars Hill Explosion", with Athenians at the Areopagus participants in mind with the idea that it would be used as a follow up to my message on that day. You can buy it later, after I reveal the secret message on the day. The book is a great way to continue walking out the Mars Hill weekend’s theme through personal reflection or group discussion at local synagogues or house churches. While it is possible that some could receive my book before the event at the Areopagus, I do not recommend spoiling my message by reading it beforehand!" (actual language, source)

For now, people of Athens, here is the book blurb:
"Mars Hill Explosion" is the newest book written by Paul the Apostle. He wrote it specifically thinking of YOU, the Areopagan audience! "Mars Hill Explosion" is an exclusive pre-release for arena participants! Do you have the audacity to make an unseen Savior the Supreme romance of our lives? I pray you are already walking in a brand new sacred romance with Jesus.
If you don't attend the Areopagus, you can always buy the book later. For now, just let the anticipation of my new message and the new book build up. *Just a little bit of a hint I'll give you. What is your dream? What is your vision for the future? I don't want to give away the message, but I do want you to know this, I added some audacity to that vision statement. I added some audacity to the dream that I have for men, and I do mean all men. I am hoping and praying with all my heart that my message at the Areopagus will become the place where men will remember that was where they fell head over heels in love with Jesus. My vision for men will result in the path to the life you were born to live.

*actual Beth Moore words.

I thought it was Jesus' vision revealed in the Bible that results in us living the life we were born to live. But that's just me.

Hard to picture Paul promoting HIS message and selling it secretly? Hard to see Paul writing a Mars Hill FAQ like that? That is because Paul openly shares the message of God unconnected to money, self-promotion, or secrecy; while Mrs Moore makes merchandise of you. The merchandise and the money is her point, not the message. Mrs Moore would do well to follow Christ's example:

Jesus answered him, “I have spoken openly to the world. I have always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all Jews come together. I have said nothing in secret. (John 18:20)

Finally, a tidbit. We read from this excerpt of Audacious that Mrs Moore says that her good friend Travis Cottrell gave her a book and it impacted her greatly. She based her Audacious message on that book, adding a word to the seminal questions posed within it. Was it the Bible that impacted her so greatly she felt compelled to write Audacious in response? No. Was it a great theological tome authored by one of the towering men of faith in history? No. The book that impacted her so mightily is-

21 Great Leaders: Learn Their Lessons, Improve Your Influence by Pat Williams, a motivational speaker and senior vice president of the NBA’s Orlando Magic.

I look very much forward to Mrs Lareau's review of the September 12 Beth Moore "Audacious" simulcast. I reiterate, Beth Moore is not to be trusted, followed, or taught anywhere at any time in any part of Christendom. Her teachings lead to bondage, impugn both Christ and the scriptures, and only serve to fatten her wallet and puff her pride.

The word audacious has two meanings.

1. showing a willingness to take surprisingly bold risks. "a series of audacious takeovers"
2. showing an impudent lack of respect. "an audacious remark"

Mrs Moore meant #1, but with all she says and does, she betrays #2.


Further Reading

5 Ways to Spot the Wolf In Sheep's Clothing

7 Traits of False Teachers

Wolves Among the Sheep

UPDATED: Five Reasons It’s Time to Start Exercising “Moore” Discernment

Monday, October 5, 2015

The Tree of Life

It is profitable to ponder God's role as vine-dresser, and the agricultural metaphors of the branch, the tree, and the pruning, and the fruit.

I was listening to a sermon about us being the branches connected to the vine, (John 15:4). We had a rain-wind event here and a tree in the yard lost a good portion of itself. Can this branch produce any fruit? No. Apart from the tree, it can do nothing. That is any lost person who is apart from Jesus and any saved person operating in the flesh and not the Spirit.

EPrata photo
In addition to the branch, I was also thinking of the agricultural metaphors of vine, tree, branch, fruit, and then...I started thinking about the Tree of Life.

I like trees, and I love the Tree of Life. I like thinking about God's tree, the life He gives us, and the tree of life in Heaven we will see. Here are some mentions in scripture of the Tree of Life. It is mentioned in Genesis and Revelation (nice bookends), and also in other places.

The Tree of Life defined:
One of two trees situated in the centre of the Garden of Eden. It is also mentioned in Revelation, where it symbolises life and salvation. [Manser, M. H. Dictionary of Bible Themes]
The tree of life as a metaphor:
Pr 15:4 See also Pr 3:13-18; 11:30; 13:12. [Manser, M. H. (2009). Dictionary of Bible Themes]

The Tree of Life described:
Some people wish they had a tree which grew money, but there is an even better tree—the “tree of life.” The term in Greek, xulon zōēs, denotes “a tree that gives life”—that is, eternal life (John 20:31). This tree symbolizes the eternal life God has made available to humanity. We see this tree in the very beginning of the Bible and at the very end. 
The “tree of life” was placed by God in the midst of the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:8–9). God told Adam that he could eat from every tree of the garden except the “tree of the knowledge” of good and evil (Gen. 2:16–17). When Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they were expelled from the garden lest they “take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever” (Gen. 3:22). The Genesis narrative suggests that God intended the “tree of life” to provide Adam and Eve with a symbol of life in fellowship with and dependence on Him. Human life, as distinguished from that of the animals, is much more than merely biological; it is also spiritual—it finds its deepest fulfillment in fellowship with God. 
The book of Revelation contains the only references to the “tree of life” in the New Testament (Rev. 2:7; 22:2, 14, 19). The Bible begins and ends with a Paradise in the midst of which is a “tree of life.” The way to the “tree of life,” which was closed in Genesis 3, is open again for God’s believing people. This was made possible by the second Adam, Jesus Christ. He died on the cross for the sins of all humanity—from Adam to you and me. Those who have washed their robes in the blood of Christ (Rev. 7:14) and have sought forgiveness of their sin through the redemptive work of Christ, receive the right to the “tree of life” (Rev. 22:14), but the disobedient will have no access to it. This tree will give constant, continuous life to all who partake of it, for it symbolizes the eternal life of God made available to redeemed humanity. [Carpenter, E. E., Holman Treasury of Key Bible words]
And out of the ground the LORD God made to spring up every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food. The tree of life was in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (Genesis 2:9)

And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." (Genesis 3:22)

After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3:24)

through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)

Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life and that they may enter the city by the gates. (Revelation 22:14)

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and whoever captures souls is wise. (Proverbs 11:30).

The Garden must have been so beautiful. I can't wait until all is restored (Isaiah 51:3). Heaven where the Tree is must be so majestic. What the tree symbolizes is even more wonderful- eternal fellowship in righteous and holy life with God. Thank you, Lord, for all you have given us now and all we have to look forward to, forever.

The Tree of Life in art:

In Gustav Klimt's famous mural, The Tree of Life ... signifies the connection between heaven and earth and the underworld. For Klimt's admirers, the mural also has another significance, being the only landscape created by the artist during his golden period. Klimt used oil painting techniques with gold paint, to create luxurious art pieces during that time.

The concept of the tree of life is illustrated by Gustav Klimt's painting, in a bold and original manner. The swirling branches create symbolism, suggesting the perpetuity of life. The branches twist, twirl, turn, spiral and undulate, creating a tangle of strong branches, long vines and fragile threads, an expression of life's complexity. With its branches reaching for the sky, the tree of life roots into the earth beneath, creating the connection between heaven and earth...While the artist uses a richness of symbols, gold for paint and other luxurious techniques to illustrate a magical world, the presence of a single black bird draws the viewer towards the central part of the painting. The black bird is a reminder that everything that has a beginning also has an end, as black birds have been used as a symbol of death by many cultures... (source)

Scripture photo and sermon recommendation

I recommend this recent series from John MacArthur, on John 15:1-11

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 6“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11“These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

The Benefits of Abiding in Christ, Part 1

The Benefits of Abiding in Christ, Part 2

The Benefits of Abiding in Christ, Part 3

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Martyrdom in America and the 'indomitable human spirit'

On October 1, 2015 a mass shooting took place at an Oregon Community College. The lone gunman shot and killed 9 people and injured 9 others before turning his weapon on himself as police arrived and a battle ensued.

The shooting at Umpqua CC was one of the deadliest in recent memory. The list of school shootings just in recent years is depressingly long. In addition to the UCC shooting this week in Oregon, are the 2015 shootings at Emmanuel African Methodist Church in which 9 were killed during a worship service, the 2012 Aurora CO movie theater shooting, and several recent shootings at military installations such as Ft. Hood and US Navy Yard.

In 2015, The Washington Post reported 204 mass shootings occurring in the U.S. in that year alone, according to In August 2015, the Washington Post reported that the United States was averaging one mass shooting per day. As of October 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama had given eleven speeches on eleven different mass shootings. (source).

One difference with this particular shooting in Oregon is that the shooter targeted Christians. In Charleston, though it was a church shooting, the motivation was racial. In other shootings, the gunman was a disgruntled employee targeting the workplace or simply an angry young madman locating a place where great numbers of people gather. The Umpqua Community College shooting is unique and represents a deepening of the exposure of our human spirit's depravity. But before I delve into that biblical discussion, here are the facts surrounding this latest incident.

As the gunman entered the classroom at the Community College, he told all the students, adults, and teachers in the room to lay on the floor. Then he demanded that each one rise in turn and state their religion. If they said nothing, or 'other', they were maimed. If they said they were a Christian, the gunman reportedly replied,
"'Good, because you’re a Christian, you’re going to see God in just about one second," Stacy Boylan said in a televised report. "And then he shot and killed them."

The United States has been relatively shielded from direct assault on Christians solely due to their religion. This shielding is obviously over.

Back in June, the Supreme Court of the United States made a moral declaration in their judicial capacity, rendering an opinion that stated that homosexual people across the land had the right to marry. Wikipedia's synopsis states,
In the United States, same-sex marriage has been legal nationwide since June 26, 2015, when the United States Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that state-level bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. The court ruled that the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and the refusal to recognize those marriages performed in other jurisdictions violates the Due Process and the Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. The ruling overturned a precedent, Baker v. Nelson.
Most Christians recognized this as a spiritual watershed moment in our society. God sets up nations and establishes their boundaries. (Acts 17:26). Though only one nation has been specifically established to glorify Him as His special elect (Israel, Isaiah 45:4), the LORD does expect Godly behavior as the Gospel spreads. Moreover, He is always angry at sin. (Psalm 7:11).

The reverse of His setting up nations and working within them is that He also releases nations to their sin when they consistently fail to repent or when they consistently defy Him. This process is described in Romans 1:18-32. It applies to individuals but also applies en masse to nations when enough of the people consistently choose sin over God. That great nations and empires come and go is testament to His work within them. Babylon, Assyria, Egypt, the British Empire ... all consigned to the dustbin of history as once great but no more. This isn't an accident of history but a purposeful work of God.

When the SCOTUS decision came down in June 2015, many American Christians remarked that it seemed that God had turned the US over to its sin and allowed a hardening to take place. At that time, Dr John MacArthur had some wise and encouraging words. He preached that the decision to encourage sch a particularly depraved sin, having reached the highest levels, was a marker that God had indeed turned America over. This hardening and release will have consequences, MacArthur said.
Practical atheism, rejection of the truth, moral relativism has always prevailed in Satan’s kingdom. But here in America we’ve been protected from that in its full fierceness. No more. And by the way, religious liberty isn’t promised to Christians, is it? Freedom isn’t promised to Christians. Persecution is. Persecution is. I think we’re going to feel it. 
There will be a barrage of persecution. These are going to be very challenging days. We will not bow. We will be gracious and we will be loving, but we will render to God what is God’s. (Source: Sermon We Will Not Bow.)
He was right. A mere three months later, Christians were murdered on US soil for the first time solely due to their stated religion. As a nation founded by religious separatists on the concepts of freedom, religious liberty, and one nation UNDER GOD, it has always seemed absurd and farcical that the kind of religious persecution written about in the first century or the Middle Ages could ever happen in the US. Then ISIS formed and many people in the 10/40 Window were martyred, persecuted, hunted and killed for their religious beliefs.

But still, it seemed far-fetched that it would happen here any time soon, despite what the Bible promised about Christians having trouble in this world. (John 16:33).

But Dr MacArthur was right, or more correctly, the Bible was right about what happens to nations that reject Him. Trouble and persecution always follows. America is certainly no exception. For some people, that fact just took a while to sink in. Then Umpqua happened and Christians were killed.

Jordan Standridge wrote at The Cripplegate yesterday about the martyrdom. Here is a short excerpt, and I recommend the entire piece-

When the Devil Points a Gun at You
The world will hate Christians 
I have to begin with this as we heard that the gunman singled out Christians in the shooting. He hated organized religion and made it a point to shoot the Christians in a fatal way. Jesus was clear that Christians will be persecuted (2 Timothy 5:12). He also tells his disciples that the world will treat them just like He was treated (John 15:20-21). When the devil points a gun at you, he desperately wants to kill Christ but he can’t get to him. But we know Christ will ultimately crush his head.

The world can’t stop the Gospel

On the day of their executions, Hugh Latimer and Nicholas Ridley knew that their burning would only enflame the light of the Gospel even more. Though John Bunyan’s tongue was silenced, the Gospel spread through his writing at a higher rate than ever before. Time and time again the world has tried to silence Christians and yet you cut a head off and two grow back. You can’t stop the Gospel. Though the devil seems to win battles, he will not win the war. When the Devil points a gun at you he desperately wants to stop the Gospel, but he can’t and it always spreads further.

Here is Adam Ford with One Simple Question

So all this was not to simply recount the news. It was to get us to this point and then remark on a comment made by CNN and former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, CNN reported this comment made by Gabby Giffords. Mrs Giffords was also a victim of a shooting when a politically motivated gunman shot her in the head. She knows the emotions of being a victim of violent crime, and she has experienced the aftermath. In addition to being shot with the physical effects, her wounding ended her political career. Giffords said of the Oregon shooting,

As far as I know, Mrs Giffords is not a Christian. Her Wikipedia page lists her religion as Reformed Judaism.

The human spirit is not indomitable, unless you say it is indomitably depraved. Indomitable means "impossible to subdue or defeat." The sin-nature that's in all of us IS impossible to subdue or defeat, without Christ. Our indomitable human nature is exactly why we need Christ! The same community comprised of individuals who mourned the victims' deaths and injuries at Umpqua and who will attempt to rebound from their heartbreak, is the same community comprised of individuals any of whom may turn around some day and do the exact same thing.

In my early Christian walk, as I began to grapple with the difficult concepts of
total depravity & sin, (Ecc 7:20), I worked through these concepts by
 making collages. If we could see our spirit as God sees it, it might
look like this, as I collaged my representation of the sin-nature.
I'd said that the list of US mass shootings is depressingly long. Mass shootings are not isolated incidents, happening only rarely. Serial murders are not rare. Infanticide is not rare. Abortion infanticide is not rare. They are regular, normal acts from regular, depraved people whose sin nature has not been subdued and resisted with the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

You might think my attitude is excessively dark.  And indeed, things do look dark. Jesus promised that before His Second Coming the earth's people would be like they were in the days of Noah. (Luke 17:26). Immediately prior to the Flood, the Lord withdrew His Spirit, because He will not strive with Man forever. (Genesis 6:3). The world was released to wallow in its depravity, which had descended to this:

The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. (Genesis 6:5).

The reality is, man's 'indomitable' spirit is dark. It's evil. Left to our own devices, we only think evil all the time. It will be that way again prior to the second judgment, when His wrath is released onto an unbelieving world during the Tribulation after the rapture when the restraining Holy Spirit is removed along with the people He dwells in. Except, Jesus promised, it will be worse. (Matthew 24:21-22).

And here is where the Light breaks.

Our God is so majestic, loving, and kind, He did not leave us to eternally deal with our indomitably evil human spirit. He begot a Son, who is Jesus. He sent His Son to incarnate into human flesh. Emptying Himself, He lived a perfectly holy and sinless life on earth. He dwelled among men and in all man's depravity, yet in Him there was no darkness for one moment in all His days on earth. Falsely accused, Jesus allowed Himself to be beaten, scourged, spit on, maimed, stripped, and placed on a humiliating and painful cross, to die. Before His death, He took on God's wrath for His elect's sin.

We speak of the dark spirit of man, but think of this darkness. The moment when Jesus took on God's wrath and absorbed the sin of the world, He was separated from God for the first time in eternity. All the world was literally dark. (Matthew 27:45)

This was so that Jesus could become the perfect sacrifice needed to please God and exhaust God's wrath. God raised Jesus in the flesh the third day, and He ascended to the Father, where He reigns until He comes again.

Now what sinners must do is believe this Gospel. Believe your spirit is not pure and white and able to conquer anger, sin, and death. But believe that Jesus conquered sin and death and became the Door through which we may enter Holy heaven, pure and undefiled, because Jesus is pure and undefiled. The Light has come! Read this, slowly, even though it is so familiar to you-

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

19And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
(John 3:16:21)

As Dr MacArthur preached, we will not bow. In addition, not only will we not to bow, but we will stand.

Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. (Ephesians 6:13)

Just as the martyred Christians did on October 1. Stand and declare ... for Jesus. Be ready to die answering that one simple question. Are you a Christian? The new martyrs' light has not been extinguished, but only burns brighter as this world's spirit of the age darkens. For the Light has come.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. (Luke 9:24)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Prophecy: 'For men (and women) will be lovers of self...'

A clip making the rounds on Facebook from Fox "120 Sports" shows the self-absorption of people consistent (in my opinion) of the prophetic verse from 2 Timothy 3:2, "men will be lovers of self". Here is a still shot-

But first... let us take (lots and lots and LOTS) of selfies.FULL VIDEO:
Posted by 120 Sports on Wednesday, 30 September 2015

I snapped this photo that is below 8 years ago when cell phones with cameras were just coming into the fore. I was shocked and surprised at the amount of time the gals were taking to gaze upon themselves. Of course, 8 years ago, the word 'selfie' hadn't been invented yet. 'Selfie' was Oxford Dictionary's word of the year in 2013. They note that the use of the word selfie increased 17,000 percent from 2012 to 2013.

I do not own a cellphone so being on 'the outside', I see cell phone mania all the more.

In one of his letters to Timothy, Paul strongly warned about the behavior of humans in the last days. The last days/end time/last times has been occurring since Jesus ascended and will conclude when He returns. (Acts 2:16-17, cf Joel 2:28). Because of the deteriorating nature of man individually and of society, the times will worsen as the last days progress. (2 Timothy 3:13, 2 Timothy 2:16).

Paul's specific warning to Timothy about the perilous times that were ahead for the young pastor included a lengthy list of behaviors that will be evidence of the times and which will be contributing to the deterioration of society. Here is Paul's warning.

Godlessness in the Last Days

1But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. 6For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, 7always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. 8Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. 9But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men. (2 Timothy 3:1-9).

These perilous times will be more and more frequent and intense, whereas the intervening periods of relative tranquility will become less and less frequent and peaceful, as the return of Christ nears. ~John MacArthur
Let's look at the warning about being lovers of self in the last days. Paul's warnings regarded the difficult times in the church. He was giving Timothy warnings about spiritual impostors and urging him to oppose them and expose them. We know that the world is difficult, godless, and selfish. What will be the difficulty is that the church will become infested with and overrun by people who are the world but pretend to be godly.

In John Warwick Montgomery's book Damned Through the Church, Montgomery outlines 7 epochs in church history where times have been especially difficult. These have been movements of certain theological orientations which have negatively impacted the church. One of them was that the self has become God, and this movement is still affecting the Church at large in this day and age. As the MacArthur Commentary on 2 Timothy states,
It would be appropriate to add to Montgomery's list the current emphases on mysticism, which seeks to determine truth about God by intuition and feeling, and pragmatism, which attempts to determine what is true by what produces desired effects. These movements do not come and go but come to stay, so that as the years go on, the church accumulates them, and the battles continue.
If you have ever heard a teacher like Beth Moore or Priscilla Shirer or any of the younger female teachers such as from the Propel Movement or the IF:Gathering, they often speak of how we feel as the determiner of truth. Here is an example of that mysticism:

What Moore is saying here is that if we have certain feelings inside of us, it brings us closer to God. But the truth is, it's about Who we worship, not how we feel. And what if I don't feel romanced by a sunset (what does that even mean?), then am I apart from God? And how long is this romance feeling supposed to last? How can I sustain this romantic feeling or increase it to feel even closer to Him? What if I "can't" feel romanced by the sun, when then? You see the issue with constantly teaching about our feelings.

As for the pragmatism, here is an example. If you ever hear anyone say something like, "We packed the church tonight, it must have really been a big move of God!" They look at the numbers of attendees for evidence that the Spirit is working, not whether truth was proclaimed. No one ever thinks that the large numbers attending the program, event, or speaker may have been because satan was planting tares. (Matthew 13:35).

The original sin was pride. It was first found in satan in heaven and he imported it to earth and deceived Adam and Eve. Their rebellion was based on a foundation of loving self more than loving God, thus violating the first commandment. (Exodus 20:3, Matthew 22:37-39).

This notion of self-love and self-esteem infiltrated the church early last century and only grew from there. I remember as a teacher of young children in the 1980s when the self-esteem movement came in full force. The secular world had grabbed it and would not let go. All children were winners in the game, teaching reading was (nearly) out, but we were supposed to spend time in the first segment of the day teaching self-esteem and affirming everything the children did or said. It was only a matter of time before the secular world's self-love which had coalesced into psychology, esteem movements, personality cults. and affirmation with no companion concepts of discipline or boundaries came into the church. The tares brought it in. They still are.

Another memory is the 1972 book "I'm OK, You're OK" by Thomas Anthony Harris. It is one of the best selling self-help books ever published. It is a practical guide to Transactional Analysis as a method for solving problems in life. (source). Satan constantly attempts to shift our eyes from God to the self, and once gazing at the self, to believe that we are really just all right and do not need anything from God. We are our own gods.

When we see such fascination with one's self like in the video or photos above, you can be sure that the same attitudes are also present in the church, just as Paul warned. At the root of the self-esteem problem is one that is really pride. The attitude is 'I'm OK, I am not a depraved sinner in need of the cleansing blood of Jesus, I need nothing from God, I am my own god' which is exactly what satan believes. (Isaiah 14:14).

Gill commented on the 2 Timothy perilous times/lovers of self verse:
For men shall be lovers of their own selves,.... Not in a good sense, as men may be, and as such are who love their neighbours as themselves, and do that to others they would have done to themselves; and who take all prudent and lawful care to preserve the life and health of their bodies, and seek in a right way the salvation of their immortal souls:
but in a bad sense, as such may be said to be, who only love themselves; their love to God, and Christ, and to the saints, being only in pretence, not in reality; and who do all they do in a religious way, from a principle of self-love, and to selfish and mercenary ends...
How can one avoid the pitfall of self-love? It IS our natural inclination after all. Let's look at what scripture says.

First, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” (Luke 10:27).

If we are filled with loving God utmost, it doesn't leave much room to love ourselves. We do fail at this, no one loves God totally all the time, completely. As a matter of fact, the world's pull is going in the opposite direction, where the times are like the days of Noah when men thought of evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5). So we rely on the Holy Spirit in us more and more to weed out the attachment to the world and the hate in our own hearts so that we may love God all the more. Further, that love of Him and then our neighbor more than ourselves is expressed not just in feelings, but in actions.

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. . (Philippians 2:3-4).

We're not out to please ourselves but to look after the interests of others. (Philippians 2:21, Romans 15:1).

Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)

Love, do, look, carry... If we are looking unto God and caring for and doing good to our neighbor, we won't have time for selfies.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. (Titus 2:11-14)

Scripture photo: Melted wax or hardened clay?