Wednesday, September 2, 2015

War Rooms Then and Now. And: What is a prayer closet?

I'm all for prayer. I am all for creating a space to pray, undistracted. However, not everyone in Western Christianity has the luxury of a special room in which to devote one's self to prayer. PEOPLE, IT'S NOT ABOUT THE ROOM!
Question: "What is a prayer closet?" 
Answer: After a short discourse on the follies of trying to appear religious in front of people, Jesus talks about prayer. “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:5-8). The Greek used here for “room” is tameion, which means "an inner storage chamber or a secret room." The point being, a public prayer, announced on a street corner, gives the pray-er all the attention he can expect to receive. A quiet prayer, directed at God and not passers-by, will reap spiritual blessings.

Some have taken the admonition literally. They set aside a room or a quiet corner in their homes, furnish it with a comfortable chair, table, Bible, and maybe a notebook, and use that corner for a regular prayer time. That’s certainly appropriate, but the fact that the room Jesus referred to most likely meant a pantry gives us a little more flexibility. A “prayer closet” might be a daily commute, a bench in the back yard, or the kitchen table. John Wesley’s mother is said to have sat in a chair and thrown her apron over her head as a sign to her kids to leave her alone. Jesus usually went to a secluded hillside. The point is that the “closet” is free from interruption, distraction, and listening ears.

Although there are good reasons to have a dedicated space for regular prayer—such as training the family to respect the quiet and keeping prayer-related materials in one place—that was not what Jesus was referring to. The passage in Matthew 6 talks about performing religious acts for the purpose of allowing others to see. Any act, be it praying, giving, or serving, should not be done for the purpose of gaining approval from others. Praying, giving, and serving should be responses to our relationship with God and the mercies He has given us. If a specific, dedicated location encourages prayer, it should by all means be used. If the cab of a pickup or a quiet stretch of beach suffices, that’s perfectly acceptable.
Examples of Prayer Closets.

Jesus in the Garden. Matthew 26:36


The Upper Room Acts 1:13-14


Apostle Paul's War Room Acts 16:23



Martin Luther's War Room at Wittenburg


Martyr William Tyndale's war room, incarcerated at Brussels, 1535


George Muller, Administrator of the Orphanage Built by Prayer.



Peruvian war room


Kenya Secret Church listening to Pastor David Platt in rudimentary room


Priscilla Shirer Movie War Room



Lady-decorated war room, Western Christianity


My war room is my kitchen table. I have my bible, a lamp, tissues, note paper, pens, and my prayer journal.



It is not about the room. It is about the God who hears prayer

O you who hear prayer, to you shall all flesh come. (Psalm 65:2)


Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why I do not recommend Kendrick Brothers' new movie, "War Room", part 2

Part 1 here


For Christians seeking family friendly faith based movies either as entertainment or as ministry, the Kendrick Brothers movies from Sherwood Pictures have been the go-to series for many. Originally from Athens GA, the Kendrick Brothers are Shannon, Alex and Stephen. Alex and Stephen have been making full-length Christian movies since 2003, initially at Sherwood Baptist and now from their newly formed production company. Their first film was the independent release of Flywheel in 2003. After that came Facing The Giants (2006), Fireproof, (2008), and Courageous, (2011). Movie #5, War Room, came out Aug. 28, 2015. The opening weekend Box Office stunned Hollywood. It brought in 11 million dollars.

The films seem almost universally and uncritically adored, from patrons of them who flock to the screens to church pastors and leaders who show them in their sanctuaries. The films' showings are often accompanied with attendant paraphernalia such as curricula, studies, sermon outlines, resolutions, books, journals, devotionals and other merchandising. As a side note, translate the fervency and diligence some pastors promote and urge attendance at these movies to their fervency for preaching the Word expositionally and urging worship in their church. I wish.

Whenever anything, and I mean anything, that is promoted from the pulpit it is wise to delve into whether the thing being promoted is consistent with the bible and thus edifying for the sheep. It is also wise to research the people behind writing these movies, books, devotionals, and study guides.

In Part 1, I mentioned that I do not like the movies the Kendrick Brothers have produced so far. I have seen three of them (not Courageous, and not War Room). The films do present a good storyline, engagingly developed. The films are based on biblical themes such as prayer, submission, fatherhood, etc. The films are written by pastors and are prayed over diligently, we hear. They're emotional and watchable. So what's not to like?

Discernment is not just looking at the surface. Discernment is not just accepting that a Christian thing is "close enough." Jesus did not come 'close enough' to sinlessness for the Father to accept His sacrifice.  The Apostles and Martyrs didn't preach and die a 'close enough' faith. We must be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Jesus said,

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16, commentary on what this means here)

In Part 1 I'd said I'd look more at the Kendrick Brothers' choice of casting. They had said in this Youtube interview from several months ago that for the movie War Room --
We pray over every single role. We want Christians playing Christians in these movies, we want to know they believe what they are speaking in these roles. We want no hypocrisy, [we hire Christians who show that] we believe what this movie is about then live it out, outside the credits. 
So, since they announced the basis for their casting decisions, let's look at them and compare to scripture to see if they hold up.

Priscilla Shirer dominates the movie, being its main cast member (TC Stallings plays her husband). Since the Kendricks deliberately choose Christians who live what they believe, then what does Shirer believe?

Shirer believes and teaches extra-biblical, personal revelation

Unfortunately, Shirer is a proponent of hearing directly from God. Here in an interview in Charisma Magazine, Shirer explains her basis for launching her "Going Beyond" ministries. Charisma Magazine has the tale (and even being quoted in Charisma is another discernment red flag). In the article it states,
In her case, God was speaking to her about going to “the place of abundant living—an experiential relationship with God.” “He said: ‘Priscilla, you’ve been at this mountain long enough. There is a new place that I want to take you to,’” Shirer says. In light of God’s challenge, Shirer naturally desired to “go beyond” personally.
So God personally speaks to Shirer clearly enough that she can put His words in quotes? This is a problem. When one tells the world that God speaks personally to her (and this isn't the only instance of her recounting extra-biblical revelation from God) then she denies the sufficiency of the Bible.

Shirer believes in and teaches an experiential faith

Secondly, look at the phrase "she naturally wanted to go beyond..." Go beyond what, exactly? The bible tells us not to go beyond what is written (1 Corinthians 4:6) something Shirer has already done in speaking of direct revelation from God. (Revelation 22:18). Neither do we go beyond our limits by boasting of work done by others, as we're told in 2 Corinthians 10:15. In Galatians 5:12 Paul cursed the Judaizers, wishing they would "go beyond" their circumcision and excise the entire appendage lol. But Shirer's basis for a ministry of 'going beyond' is really a basis to go beyond what is written and venture into the experiential, something she says all the time should be normal for Christians. For example she said, "A lot of the demonstrative gifts of the Spirit aren’t used all the time in my church—almost never—so I could easily box God in and say because that is not my experience, God must not operate in that way. We need to accept that the body of Christ is full of other believers who have experienced God in equally relevant, equally reliable ways."

What Shirer is saying here is that if another person who calls themselves a Christian is experiencing the sign gifts, we must accept their experience as valid, or we will be putting God in a box. Notice she didn't have a biblical stance for her reasoning why she believes the sign gifts continue. Only that if the experience is happening it must be valid.

She says this not because she has come to a concerted biblical conclusion, but because of "other believers who have experienced God in equally relevant, equally reliable ways." Again, she has come to this belief - and teaches it- because people EXPERIENCE the gifts, not because she has exegeted the text to prove it so.

Shirer believes in and promotes contemplative prayer

Third, in addition to receiving and promoting as normal the extra-biblical revelation from God, experiential approaches to teaching and believing God's word, Shirer also teaches and promotes Contemplative Prayer. (Also known as Centering Prayer) This is a Catholic/Occult/Mystical practice which is not based on the bible but on inner knowings and experiences that supposedly occur after emptying the mind and experiencing the presence of God. "We are to meditate actively, using our minds, based upon Scripture, not empty nothingness and waiting" as the writer at CARM explains.

Learn more here, here, and here on why this practice is not biblical.

Back to the Kendricks and their discernment

When the Kendricks say they pray over each role and take time selecting Christians who are sound and non-hypocritical, this is the level of their discernment? Putting front and center a charismatic mystic who promotes extra-biblical revelation and the experiential method as the benchmark of affirming truth? It seems to me the discernment level of those making the decisions at Kendrick Brothers Productions is not what it should be.

In addition, their casting of Beth Moore leaves much to be desired, since Moore engages in occult channeling, receives visions and extra-biblical personal revelation, puts herself out as a prophetess, promotes pop-psychology, mysticism, contemplative prayer, and legalism, poor exegesis, teaches men, lives like a feminist, and much more.

Speaking of associations, the Kendrick Brothers' discernment on this front also leaves much to be desired. They associate with TD Jakes, an unsaved pastor who denies the Trinity. Back in March of this year, Alex Kendrick was a featured speaker at the “Missions and Marketplace Conference” in Chicago. Also speaking at that conference was Jakes. The #WarRoomMovie twitter stream recently published a thank you to Jakes for his support of the movie. Remember, Jakes produced the film version of the heaven tourism book Heaven is for Real.

This week, the #WarRoomMovie thanked heretic Paula White. Accepting a favorable review from false prophetess Paula White is like a restaurant chef accepting a food review from Jeffrey Dahmer.

HT Twitter, Sunny Shell,@Sunny_Shell

So back to the Kendrick Brothers' discernment. It seems that each of their movies have promoted some aspects of Christian life that are not biblical. It seems that each movie has gotten a bit more blatant and forward in the departure from biblical discernment and practices. It seems that it got worse after they left the oversight of Sherwood Baptist and began partnering with heretics and hiring false teachers for their movies.

  Accepting a favorable review from false prophetess Paula White is like a restaurant chef accepting a food review from Jeffrey Dahmer
Merchandising Merchandising Merchandising Merchandising

And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (2 Peter 2:3 KJV)


Make room, Ephesian silversmiths and idol makers. (Acts 19:19-20).  A new merchant is in town. Here are some examples:

Kerusso parthers with Kendrick Brothers for "War Room" film merchandise.
Kerusso, the leader in Christian apparel and gifts, has announced a new partnership with the Kendrick Brothers who recently produced their fifth film titled WAR ROOM releasing August 28, 2015 from Sony Pictures Entertainment’s TriStar Pictures, distributor of Soul Surfer, Courageous and last summer’s faith-based sensation Heaven is For Real. The partnership grants Kerusso rights to produce officially licensed merchandise and apparel for the upcoming film.
Books to accompany new Kendrick Brothers movie
Coming along with it is a line of books, including a novelization of the film, officials from the publishing companies say.

For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. (2 Corinthians 2:17).


Don't forget your Battle Plan Prayer Cards! Buy now!


When Jesus entered the temple courts, he began to drive out those who were selling. (Luke 19:45)

This promotion-poster misuses the verse. I find the use of merchandising along with the word of God crass in the extreme.

This photo uses the Psalm verse out of context and incorrectly,
Note the 'Battle Plan you can BUY, combined with the verse. Gross.
Should I buy the "Battle Plan for Prayer"? If I do, I'll have to move the Love Dare aside to make room on the shelf...And where will I put my Courageous Resolution?

He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.” (Matthew 21:13)

Remodeling, AKA the "Doing Something/Experiential" method of Christianity



Most of the Kendrick Brothers movies blame the man. Here is one meme that pokes at this fact.


Let's all remodel our closets!


This woman remodeled already ! Because it's the room that does it!

Awww, so sad this lady didn't have a closet to donate to the cause. She made a nook. Her prayers will be nook sized instead of #powerful.

Spot the missing resource!!


In conclusion...yes I have a heated righteous indignation at the lack of discernment evidenced here. I have a heated anger regarding churches that relentlessly promote these films yet when it comes to sharing the Gospel or even personally shepherding the flock they have they tolerate sin and compromise. I am very upset at all the merchandising. I really am.

I do understand the power of prayer and the wonder of prayers being answered. I am for prayer. I am against Hollywood films showing a pale and shallow Western Christianity where prayer gets you things. Where a remodeled closet is the answer and not the God who sees and hears. Where the woman leads (subtly, because satan is crafty). Where prayers are to satan and not to Jesus. Where, despite all the Kendrick Brothers statements about prayerfully considering each person for each role, in another interview they decided that casting Black actors would be "more heart grabbing." And here I thought that there was no Greek or Jew, no slave or free, no male or female. (Galatians 3:28). But apparently using Black people in your movie brings the bucks.
'War Room' Nearly Topples Gangsta Rap Blockbuster  
CBN News asked the Kendrick brothers about their decision to cast mostly blacks in the film. "When it came to 'War Room' there was a passionate flavor we wanted to present that really would have been different any other way," director Alex Kendrick said. "I felt like the Lord was saying it needs to be told through the African American perspective and the female perspective," he added. [emphasis mine]
How did we get to this low point, of an undiscerning people buying merchandise at the temple and miss God, His Son and His Spirit so badly? It is all foretold, the time of apostasy, tickled ears, and lack of discernment is upon us. And yet there is a remnant strong and true, praying in whatever room they are, to a strong and mighty God.

Part 1 here

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

Further Reading

How Fireproof Lowers the Boom

The Heresy of Christian Movies: War Room

Lifeway Promoting False Teacher Priscilla Shirer Experiential Event

Monday, August 31, 2015

Why I do not recommend Kendrick Brothers' new movie, "War Room", part 1

Part 2 here


Kendricks: L-R: Stephen, Alex, Shannon
For Christians seeking family friendly faith based movies either as entertainment or as ministry the Kendrick Brothers movies from Sherwood Pictures have been the go-to series for many. Originally from Athens GA, the Kendrick Brothers are Shannon, Alex and Stephen. The latter two attended college, were ordained as ministers. Alex accepted a call to Roswell BaptiFst Church as staff, then later to Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany GA as associate minister of media. Stephen joined him there two years later. Shannon completed college and accepted a job at IBM.

It has been a lifelong dream of Alex and Stephen to make full-length Christian movies, and at Sherwood Baptist that dream came to fruition in 2003 with the independent production of their first film collaboration, Flywheel. After that came Facing The Giants, a huge hit in 2006, Fireproof in 2008, a bigger hit which starred their first bona fide professional actor Kirk Cameron, and then Courageous in 2011, yet another hit with secular validations of climbing the NY Times Bestseller lists and gate take to the tune of tens of millions of dollars. Movie #5, War Room, is due out Aug. 28, 2015.

After this the brothers split from Sherwood Pictures/Sherwood Baptist as their base for production and formed their own company, Kendrick Brothers Productions. Shannon, the eldest brother who had been working at IBM all this time, resigned to help his siblings with the management of their new company. Along the way much merchandise has been sold under the auspices of each film, notably the Love Dare and the LoveDareTest among LOTS of other merchandise from Fireproof, and the Courageous Resolution from Courageous, among LOTS of other merchandise from the aforementioned film. (2 Peter 2:3)

Many folks are pleased that faith-based honorable movies are being made which they say honor Christ, and are even more pleased that much merchandise is available to re-stock the movie company coffers so that these movies can keep being made. Churches who have been relentlessly pressured hype the films and in their church sanctuaries host previews, events, marital retreats, Courageous ceremonies, and 'bible' lessons accompanied by all the paraphernalia and curricula associated with the movies. Marriages are being saved. Fathers are returning to biblical duty. It's all good.

Isn't it?

I'd like to offer a different view.

My first introduction to the Kendrick Brothers was as a newbie Christian, hapless bystander of the waves of hype when Facing the Giants was released. The Baptist church I'd been attending at the time heavily promoted the film and everyone was encouraged to attend. No doubt, the movie was a tearjerker, a feel good movie that seemed right with Jesus- on the surface. I was discomfited by the thread throughout that when one submits totally to God is when things begin to work in your earthly life and all your temporal wishes will come true, like winning football games and getting a new truck. It seemed to me a kind of slick Christianity. But I was new to the faith and more to the point, new to church life, and didn't know for sure.

Kendrick Brothers' "Movie #5"

Yes, it's true that when one submits to God, we will be blessed, but the biblical Stephen was 'blessed' with a vision of heaven before the last killing stone crushed his head. Paul was 'blessed' with a thorn in his side which tormented him God called sufficient grace. Peter was 'blessed' with a long career preaching in a persecuting world that ended with martyrdom on a cross. Facing the Giants bought into and promoted every Western Christian cliche imaginable. I would like to have seen the coach get fired even if he had won the championships. Or what would have happened to their faith if they hadn't won the championships. Or if they never had gotten pregnant. What then? Would THAT kind of faith hold true? But Facing the Giants isn't that kind of movie.

Then Fireproof came out and I was more discomfited. The hype was louder and tsunami-like this time. I can't tell you the pressure at churches when a new Kendrick Brothers movie is issued. It's like the second coming and this movie is gonna solve everything. I am not exaggerating. It was almost as if I would be blaspheming if I said that I didn't want to watch the movie or if I said that I didn't like it. There were parts in Fireproof I enjoyed but my discomfort with the doctrine in Fireproof was more coalesced this time.

First, I hated Catherine.

I was aghast at her adultery and more aghast that it was never addressed. I was stunned that her act of filing for divorce with her signature on the decree was never addressed as unbiblical. She was never shown as repenting. Much was made of the male actor's pornography viewing but not of her flirtatious adultery in lining up the Doctor as husband #2. I was sorry that her withholding of sex from her husband, unbiblical as it is, was never addressed but all the fault lay at the husband's feet with his porn, anger issues and distancing himself from her. It takes two not to tango, but the woman's culpability was never seen as an issue.

Worse, it was not clear from the hype, plot synopsis, or posters that Catherine was not a Christian. The husband, Caleb, might not have been but it's more sure that Catherine wasn't. The movie took the stance that it was a movie about Christian marriage but if it was, the writers would have to address being unbiblically yoked. If neither was saved when the movie began then it wouldn't have been a Christian movie. Did you realize that? That one or both marital partners are not Christian in the film for most of the running time?

From the script: at the very end-
This may be the second time they've made a commitment to this marriage...     ...it is the first time they've done so on a foundation of faith in Jesus Christ.
So if one or both parties is not of Christ, then we can see that the theme of the movie is how you act (demonstrate unconditional love, and overlook sin) is what brings a marriage together, not Christ. This secular reviewer hit the nail on the head when he wrote:
What about that message? There was really very little, if any, explanation of why Christianity had anything at all to do with the saving of Caleb and Catherine’s marriage. That’s what made the message so weak. All the actions shown from the “love dare” book were secular in nature, except the day where Caleb was supposed to pray for Catherine, which he admitted he didn’t do… which seems to be showing that, even without the religious parts, the marriage was saved.

I enjoyed Dalrock's review of Fireproof but here is an Internet Movie DataBase reviewer who has the same take as Dalrock (and me) but is more detailed, and funnier.
Caleb is a respected leader of a firefighter squad. His wife works in the hospital and flirts with a married doctor. When Caleb comes home, all he gets from his wife is complaining and disrespect. No wonder he resorts to internet porn and is saving money for a boat, probably so that he can sail away and finally enjoy life outside of his work. His wife wants to intercept all the money he has been saving and make him doing household chores, so she constantly nags and shows disrespect. In the meantime, she is working on her backup option, a rich doctor who would likely give her more money than her blue collar husband. Finally she resorts to a divorce threat to break Caleb's spirit. The firefighter would be happily free from the greedy witch, but his father begins a series of preaching sessions and is finally successful in persuading Caleb that he is the one to blame for all the marital disorder. The newly brainwashed firefighter smashes his porn loving computer and starts a program in which he sucks up to his wife every day. He even starts doing household chores. She ignores him and continues to work her charms on the doctor, until she makes sure that Caleb is totally obedient to her, and would accept any crap she gives to him. Finally he gives her (actually her mother) all the money he has been saving for his boat.

The only thing that the wife really goes after is money. She did not care that her hubby was doing his best to please her for 40 days. When she was thinking that the Doc was the one who gave her the money, she was falling for him and was ready for a divorce. When she realized that the money was actually given by her husband, she started loving Caleb again. Basically she acts like a super expensive escort, If the married doctor had given her more money than her husband, she would have followed the money, because this movie blatantly shows that this is the main thing which makes her tick.

The movie basically teaches how to emasculate and brainwash your husband, to get all the money and all the control in the relationship. Well, life is brutal. But wait, why is this called Christian?
Now it's tricky to negatively review Fireproof because it's true that Jesus needs to be the center of marriage. It is true that unconditional love needs to be the way we act in marriage. Mutual submission is the goal but if one is unequally yoked (Caleb converted first) then one needs to make the first move and continue it, as Jesus did no matter the rejection encountered. But I'm offering these alternate views for food for thought. Most aggravating to me is the lack of repentance on the wife's part. She accepted the gifts, the attention, and entered into vows at the end, but never humbled herself as Caleb did.

I chose not to watch the Courageous movie, insulted as I was at the merchandising which turned me off from the outset. In addition, given the trajectory of the previous three movies (counting starting from Flywheel) the likelihood that the movie wouldn't be doctrinally sound was higher. I also did not like the emphasis on the main characters' faith being demonstrated by a public signing of a resolution. It is my contention that making extra vows and resolutions above and beyond what the bible commands is unnecessary and adds man's words to God's. Taking a vow before the LORD is a weighty, weighty matter, not one to be emotionally manipulated into based on peer pressure- which you know happened in churches all across America the months after the movie came out.

Again you have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.’ But I say to you, Do not take an oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, or by the earth, for it is his footstool, or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the great King. And do not take an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.” (Matthew 5:33-37)

I am personally highly insulted to be the target of merchandising but I know that is how the world works. But I'm more insulted when churches target me. If I go to a church-led small group session to learn the Bible, if I am given a curriculum from a movie I heatedly resent that.

Now I understand that the intentions of the Kendrick Brothers was to make Jesus-honoring movies that address certain important aspects of Christian life (honesty, faith, marriage, fatherhood, now prayer). And of course fatherhood, faith, prayer and marital commitment are terrific themes for any book, movie, or curriculum. I don't doubt their motives...but they make it harder for me to trust their motives when the lead writer for the movies resigns his pastorate to follow a new calling, abandoning his flock and failing to fulfill his ministry in order to produce more Hollywood-style movies that have more and more merchandising attached. (2 Timothy 4:5).

Worse, as ordained ministers formerly operating under the oversight of their home church, (but no longer) listen to how the brothers decide to move forward with the themes for each of their movies. It isn't from the Bible. God tells them.
We go through the better part of a year, saying, ‘Lord what do you want us to focus on, what do you want the plot be?’ It’s usually near the end of that year. It could be eight months, ten months, or a full year… it’s almost like he downloads something to us. ... It wasn’t something where we sat in a room and said ‘What do you want to do?’ We’ve never done that. 

For the movie Fireproof, Kendrick says his team heard God give them a theme of marriage. For the movie Courageous, fatherhood. And so on. He speculates that upcoming themes may be military faith, motherhood, or teen issues, but says he won’t really know until God downloads. [emphasis mine]
I have previously discussed this approach to decision making. At minimum it is mystical. At maximum it leads to monstrosities like Sarah Young's Jesus Calling and most things false teacher Beth Moore. Do pastors sit in a prayer closet for 10 months and ask the Lord what to preach on, and wait until He downloads a theme? Hardly. (Hopefully).  But this "Ask the Lord and He will tell you" method is all too common today. Is it wrong to seek the Lord in all you do? No. Is it wrong to consult with one another and say, "Let's do a movie on the importance of prayer"? Of course not. Christians have been making decisions this way for millennia. It's called "making a decision." However, attributing the theme of your movie to God because He downloaded it to you or personally revealed it does not inspire my confidence, it diminishes it, because now I'm concerned with their discernment. This concern revolves around three fronts. One, the aforementioned Mystical-Method of Hearing From god. Second, their choice of casting. Third, the Kendrick Brothers associations and partnerships.

In this Youtube interview from several months ago regarding the upcoming release of War Room, the Brothers stated,
  • We pray over every single role
  • We want Christians playing Christians in these movies, we want to know they believe what they are speaking in these roles
  • We want no hypocrisy, [we hire Christians who show that] we believe what this movie is about then live it out, outside the credits
With that in mind, we will look more deeply at the Kendrick Brothers' fifth move's main role, Elizabeth Jordan, played by Priscilla Shirer. What does Mrs Shirer believe? How does she approach prayer and decision making and faith? Did you know that the Resolution for Women in the movie Courageous was written by Shirer?

Part 2 discusses Mrs Shirer's beliefs, approach to Bible study, and then we will return to a discussion of the Kendrick Brothers' discernment.



Sunday, August 30, 2015

"Homosexuality is the unfailing characteristic of paganism"

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, by John Martin, 1852
In reading the Word of God, it is such a delight when one re-reads the same passage and yet unearths new insights. It's a delightful mystery to me how this happens, but it is also a wonderful confirmation that the Word is living and active, just as was promised. (Hebrews 4:12).

In reading through Genesis, I'm up to Genesis 19. This is the pivotal chapter where God sends Jesus in a pre-incarnate visit along with two other angels to speak with Abraham and to render destruction onto Sodom (and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim, and apparently Zoar was also slated for destruction but mercy came when Lot pleaded to be allowed to live there).

In searching out the parallel scriptures the Spirit brought the following to mind:

Mrs. Lot. I've always wondered about her turning into a pillar of salt. I've always wondered about the admonition from Jesus to "Remember Lot's wife!" (Luke 17:32).

Well, if you read right before verse 32, Jesus is saying what NOT to do when the day of Destruction comes,

31On that day, the one who is on the housetop and whose goods are in the house must not go down to take them out; and likewise the one who is in the field must not turn back. 32"Remember Lot's wife.

Mrs Lot had turned back. She was already behind, and she did not merely glance back, but had turned back, thus becoming embroiled in the destruction. Also by her action she demonstrated which path she wanted to take (the broad path).

I was also astounded to learn there is another parallel verse which mirrors the language of Genesis 19, in Judges 19. When I read the parallel verses I had to double-check them to make sure I wasn't reading the same incident.

Genesis 19:4-9

But before they lay down, the men of the city, the men of Sodom, both young and old, all the people to the last man, surrounded the house. 5And they called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us, that we may know them.” 6Lot went out to the men at the entrance, shut the door after him, 7and said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not act so wickedly. 8Behold, I have two daughters who have not known any man. Let me bring them out to you, and do to them as you please. Only do nothing to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” 9But they said, “Stand back!” And they said, “This fellow came to sojourn, and he has become the judge! Now we will deal worse with you than with them.” Then they pressed hard against the man Lot, and drew near to break the door down.
That we may know them ..." This is a euphemism for homosexual intercourse. "This is the carnal sin of pederasty, a crime very prevalent among the Canaanites," and also the unfailing characteristic of paganism. ~James Burton Coffman Commentary


Judges 19:22-26. Gibeah’s Crime

22As they were making their hearts merry, behold, the men of the city, worthless fellows, surrounded the house, beating on the door. And they said to the old man, the master of the house, “Bring out the man who came into your house, that we may know him.” 23And the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brothers, do not act so wickedly; since this man has come into my house, do not do this vile thing. 24Behold, here are my virgin daughter and his concubine. Let me bring them out now. Violate them and do with them what seems good to you, but against this man do not do this outrageous thing.” 25But the men would not listen to him. So the man seized his concubine and made her go out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until the morning. And as the dawn began to break, they let her go. 26And as morning appeared, the woman came and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, until it was light. (Judges 19:22-26).

James Burton Coffman Commentary says
"Stand back ..." If Lot had thought up until that moment that he enjoyed any real influence in Sodom, it disappeared with this blunt rejection. The gratification of carnal lust is supreme with every homosexual. They would even subject Lot himself to their vile passions. The corollary to this is that, given the size of the sadistic mob converged upon Lot's house, the unhindered gratification of their lust upon three men would inevitably have ended in their murder as well. The insight into this kind of situation which is provided by a similar incident in Judges 19 is all the proof that is needed that murder would have resulted.
And this brought me to pondering human nature. If a society turns away from God, aberrant sexuality always results. This is because giving in to lusts and passions always results. It is our nature. The incident at Gibeah exemplifies the parallel to Romans 1:24-25. The incident at Sodom exemplifies Romans 1:26-27.
the permissive views of the current society are not sufficient grounds for setting aside divine law. Furthermore, it may not be supposed for one moment that God is any more pleased with the sexual aberrations associated with Sodom in our own day than He was then. ~James Burton Coffman Commentary
In another interesting tidbit, Genesis 19 opens with a report that Lot sat at the gate. This means he was an administrator of some sort of the city, enjoying status in adjudicating and enjoying a measure of influence and status.

However that instantly came to naught when Lot asked the men not to gang-rape the angels. First the men revealed what they had thought about him all along, 'you're a foreigner, not one of us!' Despite all of Lot's compromises, all his trying to fit in, 'be relevant' amid a hostile and polluted people, it didn't work. It will go well for us Christians if we remember this. We are aliens, and as much as we may be tempted to dampen the Gospel message, make it 'palatable', drinking beer with the fellows and making crude jokes, being relevant ourselves, it will not work. They know we're not of them, even if we forget this once in a while.

Secondly, the minute Lot asked them not to gang-rape the angels, their next response was "Don't judge us!" Again it will go well for us to remember that no matter how many happy laughs you have shared with unbelievers, the moment you point out their sin they will cry foul. Worse, if you've been a hypocrite and tried to blend in with them, they will have a legitimate complaint against you in saying you're the pot calling the kettle black.

Lot was barely hanging on to righteousness there in Sodom. He was as low as he could go and still be called a righteous man. If he was a New Testament believer he'd be like one of those barely making it in, as through the fire (1 Corinthians 3:15). As for the rest of those in Sodom,
The judgment of the Lord upon Sodom was justified. The apostle Paul stated flatly that proponents and practitioners of the type of sins visible here are "worthy of death" (Romans 1:32), and the permissive views of the current society are not sufficient grounds for setting aside divine law. Furthermore, it may not be supposed for one moment that God is any more pleased with the sexual aberrations associated with Sodom in our own day than He was then. ~James Burton Coffman Commentary
And as I pondered depraved human nature after reading Genesis 19 and Judges 19, it makes me all the more in awe of God. All the scriptures testify about Jesus (Luke 24:27, John 5:39). His love for us even as we are depraved sinners is a profound truth, one that humbles my mind and crushes my heart. What a sinful degradation Sodom was (and Gomorrah and Admah and Zeboiim) yet the Lord spared Lot and his daughters. He spared them even knowing they would incestuously lie with one another and begat a tribe that would be at enmity with Him until the Day of His return. What love! What mercy! What a mystery why our God loves us so. I am tremendously glad He does though.

I am Lot. I am Mrs Lot. Do I have an intercessor pleading for me like Abraham did for Lot? I do. Not just my elder relative as Abraham was to Lot, but the Head of the Family, Jesus. (Romans 8:43, Hebrews 7:25). My High Priest intercedes for His people. What grace there is in that. What comfort there is in salvation.

Yet that comfort should not make us comfortable. The Day of Reckoning will come for the world like it did for Sodom, which is an EXAMPLE of the coming wrath to the ungodly. (2 Peter 2:6). Sodom and Gomorrah are used as warnings, repeatedly in the Old Testament to a rebellious Israel. (Isaiah 1:9; 3:9; 13:19; Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:46-49; Amos 4:11; Zephaniah 2:9)

And through it all, Jesus said, Remember Lot's wife!

REMEMBER LOT'S WIFE (Luke 17:32) J. B. Coffman:

I. She is a warning to all who are tempted to sacrifice their safety in order to win or keep more of this world's goods.

II. If we strive to possess the best of both worlds, we are likely to lose both.

III. She is a reminder that being "near safety" is not enough.

IV. She is a warning that having begun to follow the Lord's Word, one may still turn back from the way and be lost.

Yet He protects the righteous. He protects his children.

So it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the valley, God remembered Abraham and sent Lot out of the midst of the overthrow when he overthrew the cities in which Lot had lived. (Genesis 19:29).

How great is our God.


Friday, August 28, 2015

What about dust and ashes?

then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature (Genesis 2:7)


Do you realize that in the Creation account in Genesis 1 and 2, the first time God did not speak something into existence but personally and intimately used His own 'hands' was when He created Adam? He spoke the world, the sun, moon, stars, animals, lands, oceans, birds, into existence but made Adam from dust and His own breath. Interesting.

It's also interesting that we are made of the dust from the ground. Dust appears frequently in the Bible. It didn't take long from the gentle creation scene in Genesis 2, to go to a dusty curse in Genesis 3.

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return." (Genesis 3:19).

Ever since sin came into the world through Adam we all return to dust.

All go to one place. All are from the dust, and to dust all return. (Ecclesiastes 3:20)

Ever since God cursed the ground (dust) Adam was made from, dust represents death. The wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23). Therefore it is fitting that we repent in dust and ashes.

"I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, And I repent in dust and ashes." (Job 42:5-6)

What is the meaning of sackcloth and ashes?
Very simply, sackcloth and ashes were used as an outward sign of one’s inward condition. Such a symbol made one’s change of heart visible and demonstrated the sincerity of one’s grief and/or repentance. It was not the act of putting on sackcloth and ashes itself that moved God to intervene, but the humility that such an action demonstrated (see 1 Samuel 16:7). God’s forgiveness in response to genuine repentance is celebrated by David’s words: “You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy” (Psalm 30:11).
Abraham spoke of dust in a positive way. Knowing one is made of dust and is destined for death (before eternal life in glory) is a simple declaration of an understanding of who we are before a Holy God. We are sinners, part of His creation.

Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes, (Genesis 18:27)

But because of the relationship He has entered into with his saints, we can approach Him humbly but boldly like Abraham did.

Though Adam fell short of living a sinless life, Jesus accomplished living that sinless life that's required for dwelling with God. Jesus shed His own blood in a supreme sacrifice to God and died in humiliation on the cross. Buried, Jesus rose to life when God resurrected Him in joy, pleased with Jesus' sacrifice. Jesus is now ascended to the Father, but He is coming again in wrath and glory to judge the living and the dead. This is the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ for sinners.

We may die before He raptures the remaining saints alive to glory, though we may indeed return to dust in that death, He will resurrect us in joy. He will bring His Bride home to celebrate life in heaven with the Father of Lights. There will be no more sin, thus ending the need to repent in dust and ashes. No more sackcloth. There will be no more cursed dust of the ground.
Lars Justinen "Robe of Righteousness"

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, (Psalm 30:11)

Hallelujah, praise the Father!


Scripture photo: A more sincere worship

"O Spirit, help me to delight more in what I receive from Christ." (Valley of Vision).

O Spirit, Help me to worship You, labor for You and delight in You more purely and sincerely.


Thursday, August 27, 2015

Jesus gave us His peace

A friend of mine made a plea on Facebook. She said she is sensitive to negativity, and she can hardly stand the awful news that has surfaced this summer. I know what she means. I quit reading the news a while ago and stuck to the headlines only, mostly on Drudge. A quick scan with eyes half closed through spread fingers like at a horror movie is still too much to bear.

She wrote:
stories of thieves, predators and murders. There is so much hate in the hearts of so many. I fear that many people can no longer see the beauty, love and compassion that is around us.
The sad fact is that she is right. Hate is building as apostasy grows. Hate is an outflow of the sinfulness of the earth that is rising to heaven. Worse, people refuse to see the beauty and compassion that is around us, the highest order of which is expressed in Jesus, then the hateful heart darkens even more.

There is not only the rising hate int he hearts of the lost, but rising hate in the heart of those who claim they are of Christ. (Matthew 24:12). This, too, is predicted.

In the Didache, an ancient writing, not inspired but important to church history, we read of the personal and national warning not to quench our lamps: (the emphasis is mine).
Watch for your life's sake. Let not your lamps be quenched, nor your loins unloosed; but be ready, for you know not the hour in which our Lord comes. But often shall you come together, seeking the things which are befitting to your souls: for the whole time of your faith will not profit you, if you be not made perfect in the last time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters shall be multiplied, and the sheep shall be turned into wolves, and love shall be turned into hate; for when lawlessness increases, they shall hate and persecute and betray one another, and then shall appear the world-deceiver as the Son of God, and shall do signs and wonders, and the earth shall be delivered into his hands, and he shall do iniquitous things which have never yet come to pass since the beginning. Then shall the creation of men come into the fire of trial, and many shall be made to stumble and shall perish; but they that endure in their faith shall be saved from under the curse itself. (Didache , Didache)
That's the reality. The early church was well aware of how hard it was to live among hate. For most of the world except America, the life of the Christian has been one of targeted hate. Now it's our turn. We're dealing with it from even among the alleged brethren.

So, how do we stay sane, joyful, untouched by pollution of the world that has risen to our very noses? By staying in the word, by praising Jesus, by this:

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. (Philippians 4:8)

You know when you're tired, you have coffee? (Or a sports drink?) When you're extra tired you have espresso (or Turbo Sports Drink). The tired Christian should drink the Drink the Living Water for energy. In these times,  friends, let's just cut to the highest, noblest, most joyful item to ponder: Our Savior. Think of Him, meditate on the word.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:27)

Pulpit commentary says of John 14:27,
Then follow the last words as of one who is about to go away, and says 'Good night,' or gives his blessing" (Luther). Peace I leave with (or, to) you. Peace answers to the shalom of ordinary converse and greeting, and signifies prosperity, health of soul, serenity, farewell. This is the sacred bestowment and Divine legacy of the Lord. "Peace" is always the result of equilibrated forces, the poise of antagonistic elements, held in check by one another. Of these the most placid lake, hidden in the hills and reflecting the sunshine and shadows, is a remarkable illustration. So the peace Christ leaves is power to hold the wildest fear in pause, to still a clamor or hush a cry

EPrata photo