Saturday, November 30, 2013

Paul Crouch, Founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) died

My first thought upon hearing this news was, "I wonder where he is."

My second thought was, "I wonder if he's surprised he got there."

Paul Crouch was one of the world's biggest heretics, and he used his network to spread the name of a false Jesus throughout the world. It's amazing to see the outpouring on Twitter of people who are mourning his death and lauding his accomplishment. His "accomplishment," such as it was, was to bring hell to the lost people of the world, packaged as a Prosperity Jesus, deluding millions and engendering despair and squandered hope. He besmirched the name of Jesus, doing many dark works by using His holy name as cover.

Christian Post wrote the following in August 2013,

10 Crazy Quotes From Televangelists

Paul Crouch made Christian Post's list twice.

"Televangelists have a long history of saying embarrassing things on TV. The Bible teaches that the words we say reflect what is in our heart (Luke 6:45). So let's take a look at ten of the crazy comments televangelists have made."

Paul Crouch, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar teach that we are gods. Bible teacher Justin Peters says these religious leaders "demote God and deify man."

1. "I am a little god. I have His name. I am one with Him. I'm in covenant relationship. I am a little god. Critics be gone!" says Paul Crouch.

Last year Brittany Koper, the granddaughter of Trinity Broadcasting Network founders Paul and Jan Crouch, sued her former attorneys and released damaging information about the TV network's leadership. Following her lawsuit, this video was shown on TBN's program Behind the Scenes. Paul Crouch says that he attended the funerals of two TBN critics.

2. Paul Crouch says: "God help anyone who would try to get in a way of TBN, which was God’s plan. I have attended the funeral of at least two people who tried."

This next tidbit is from the Museum of Idolatry. It is not a doctored pic.

Paul Crouch flips off in Jerusalem

"They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But, this picture of Paul Crouch of TBN only brings two words to mind. But, only focusing on the hand gesture and missing the bigger offense is really easy to do and is like missing the forest because of a tree. To make sure that you don't do that, ask yourself an important question regarding this photo:

What is MORE offensive, the hand gesture or the fact that Paul Crouch, a money grubbing charlatan con man who has made millions upon millions of dollars teaching rank heresy is wearing a clerical collar and broadcasting his flim flam from Jerusalem with the Temple Mount directly behind him?"

Before we all go misty-eyed over this man, let's remember the harm he has done to the name of Jesus, and the harm he has done to the faith, and the harm he has done to the sheep.
Paul & Jan Crouch
celebrating 54 years of marriage. TBN photo
As Paul the Apostle said, "Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds." (2 Timothy 4:14)

"Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan." (1 Timothy 5:15)

"Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus," (2 Timothy 2:17)

Let's keep in perspective the damage that one man can do, his teaching spreading like gangrene across the world to infect the naive and unwary.

NPR has a thorough overview of his life,
Paul Crouch, Co-Founder Of Trinity Broadcasting Network, Dies

Many laud the Crouches for their broadcast network which is global. Paul and Jan Crouch started TBN in 1974 with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and it began broadcasting as KTBN-TV in 1977- the same year that John MacArthur's Grace To You broadcast ministry was born.

Both broadcasters, TBN and GTY, broadcast in a variety of mediums, radio and tv, internet and satellite. Both purport to preach the gospel to the lost and dying world, but only one really does. Through the years, all four of TBN's founders (Jan & Paul Crouch, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker) have come below reproach, having been exposed as possessing serious moral, ethical and doctrinal sins. As TBN started there was a falling out between the Crouches and the Bakkers and for control over TBN in the first place. It started with a fight for money and control.

John MacArthur and his people have been preaching verse-by-verse since 1969 and to a wider audience since 1977 and not one hint or whisper of any reproach has ever been charged against them. In addition, GTY has started the following resources, mostly free to any and all-

--The GraceLife Pulpit: The preaching of Phil Johnson (GTY Executive Director) and Mike Riccardi.
--The Master's Academy International: Strategic support for theological and ministry training centers around the world.
--The Master’s College: Doctrinally sound, academically excellent, globally accessible.
--The Master’s Seminary: A seminary dedicated to training pastors and trainers of pastors.
--The Shepherds’ Conference: A conference aimed at equipping pastors and church leaders.
--Theological Resource Center: An organized approach to a wealth of Bible-centered resources.

Most of the resources listed above are freely accessible. Imagine, not even having to send seed money to get access. TBN has spawned nothing except reproach, doctrinal aberrations which confuse the seekers, and lucre-lined pockets for the Crouches, and a decided lack of transparency about where the donations go. (For example, they received $93 million in 2010).


TBN presents and supports a never-ending parade of circus acts in the form of charlatans and wolves fleecing the sheep, while GTY presents a never ending-array of solid, Godly men who lift up Jesus to the highest through biblical preaching and edification of the pure church. And they do it every day, globally; every year, thoughtfully, with no fanfare (and no scandal). What comes out of GTY are men trained through their programs and seminaries, multiplying the powerful word to a lost and dying world; and women and children edified by their teaching. What comes out of TBN is gangrene killing the tare-filled church.

You hadn't known that GTY was a big as a success as TBN? That is because TBN is about TBN, and GTY is about Jesus.

Ezekiel 33:11 says that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. If anything this is an opportunity to take stock, to re-assess whether you have TBN on in the background of your home as you do housework, or that you still subscribe to it unthinkingly, or that you watch it at all. There is no good there. I hope that the Crouch family takes this opportunity to re-assess their way, and turn from it. I sincerely hope so.

The lesson here is that heresy comes in all packages. The lesson here is that humility comes in softly, unnoticed. The lesson here is of apostasy, and the damaging evil it brings. The lesson here is to always keep your eye and heart on Jesus, and to stay in the word so one does not go adrift. (Hebrews 2:1). I pray that when we're called home through death or rapture, we are not surprised where we end up. Jesus prophesied,

"On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:22-23)

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

Good resources: (From GTY.org)

Grace Community Church: The church John MacArthur has pastored for more than four decades. Available here is verse-by-verse preaching through the entire New Testament, plus many OT texts.
Grace Advance: Helping develop and establish churches across the US and around the world.
The GraceLife Pulpit: The preaching of Phil Johnson (GTY Executive Director) and Mike Riccardi.
The Master's Academy International: Strategic support for theological and ministry training centers around the world.
The Master’s College: Doctrinally sound, academically excellent, globally accessible. Many lectures are freely available to non-students
The Master’s Seminary: A seminary dedicated to training pastors and trainers of pastors. Links here for non-students to Web Resources, and Free Journal Resources
The Shepherds’ Conference: A conference aimed at equipping pastors and church leaders.
Strange Fire: a GTY/Truth Matters conference series, evaluates the doctrines, claims, and practices of the modern charismatic movement, and affirms the true Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit. 19 free lectures, audio, video, or download
Theological Resource Center: An organized approach to a wealth of Bible-centered resources.

Other Links

GTY.org disclaimer, GTY.org has provided the links below for your edification, but please understand that a listing here does not equate to a full endorsement by GTY of everything published on a particular website.

Albert Mohler: Commentaries, articles, and radio programs by a leading theologian and cultural commentator.
The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals: Recovering and proclaiming the great evangelical truths.
Alpha and Omega Ministries: Articles, books, and a bi-weekly webcast from premier Reformed apologist James White.
Answers in Genesis: An apologetic ministry training Christians to defend the faith, primarily against attacks on Genesis.
Banner of Truth Trust: Articles, books, and a monthly magazine--it's biblical Christianity through literature.
Bible Gateway: Resources to promote and enhance Bible reading.
Biblical Training: Four stages of biblical training, from introductory to seminary level.
Challies.com: Thoughtful articles and book reviews.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library: A digital library of hundreds of classic Christian books.
Christian History Institute: A look at Christian history, starting with Jesus and the apostles.
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: Defending the biblical teaching about complementary differences between men and women.
Crosswalk.com: Resources to promote and enhance Bible reading.
The Hall of Church History: Giving a voice to those who, being dead, still speak.
The Henry Institute: Devoted to helping evangelicals engage the culture from a biblical worldview.
Institute for Creation Research: Provides scientific evidences of biblical accuracy.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: An online Bible encyclopedia that’s free and trustworthy.
JohnOwen.org: The comprehensive repository of John Owen.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recordings Trust: The official, online repository of the ministry of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
Monergism.com: A repository of resources on Reformed theology.
9 Marks Ministries: Helping pastors and leaders to discover and apply biblical priorities in the local church.
Open Bible: Geocoding all the known locations in the Bible using Google Earth.
Reformation 21: Encouraging a biblical worldview and constructive cultural engagement.
The Spurgeon Archive: The comprehensive repository of C. H. Spurgeon.
The Voice of Calvary: The audio archive of Dr. Jack MacArthur. (John MacArthur's father)
Way of the Master: Giving Christians a way to share the gospel simply, effectively, and biblically.


Rembrandt flash mob, how to use social media for Jesus, and snowflake

The last few days has had some heavy duty discernment stuff that leaves a bad taste in my mouth, so here is some fun stuff.

This essay was very helpful! I recommend it.

The Who, What And When Of Social Media
"Now, the Bible never talks about social media. Not one word. But it is full of principles that we need to apply to our social media habits. Without these guidelines, our social media use devolves into an unhelpful, “the hashtag for Twitter and Twitter for the hashtag” scenario (1 Cor. 6:13). It’s not enough to use social media the way it was meant to be used; it’s designed by people without God. How can we redeem our use of this form of communication so that it becomes a tool for Christian service and worship?"

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

This next set of events happened back in April of this year. I love creativity!

Rijksmuseum Renovation Brings Back Masterpieces By Johannes Vermeer And Other Dutch Artists
"The Rijksmuseum, the National Museum of the Netherlands, is finally set to reopen to the public, with Rembrandt van Rijn's masterpiece "The Night Watch" reclaiming its place of pride. The giant painting hangs in the same central position it did before an epic, decade long, (EURO)375 million ($480 million) makeover, flanked by works by Johannes Vermeer, Jan Steen and thousands of other Dutch cultural and artistic artifacts."

In order to celebrate the re-opening of this wonderful museum, they staged a flashmob who re-enacted the events in Rembrandt's famous "Night Watch" painting. It's really good, see:




Here are a couple more stories about the flashmob.

Rembrandt Flashmob: Guards of the Night

Actors Restage Rembrandt’s “Night Watch” in Mall

And here is a link to the Dutch Museum, Rijksmuseum

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

Imagine, God makes every snowflake different. If one snowflake is this beautiful, how gorgeous will heaven be?

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9)


Friday, November 29, 2013

The worst thing I've ever heard a husband say about his wife: plus, Mark Driscoll and the evangelical industrial complex

Mars Hill church
I've written about Mark Driscoll twice in the last week. I promise this won't become the Mark Driscoll blog, but it seems the Holy Spirit offers me a moment of critical mass, when all of a sudden, the qualms and concerns I've had about a particular preacher or writer is enough. And with Mark Driscoll, enough is enough.

I wrote about his self-described (pseudo)-suffering here, whereupon I compared his published list of personal woes to real martyrs' suffering. I also wrote about him here, where I looked at his plagiarism and other bad fruits, and asked the question, 'Does the fruit of Mark Driscoll's works show he is a false pastor and a wolf?" (Answer, yes). 

In that second essay, I listed many examples of a man in a downward spiral, who clearly does not have the Holy Spirit in him and yet is given pass after pass for wild and ungodly behavior against the church, against his sheep, and against Jesus. I'd queried the interwebs in a non-rhetorical question, 'at what point does the visible church collect its God-given discernment and place a pastor like Mark Driscoll in the wolf category?'

After the initial charge of plagiarism surfaced on the Janet Mefferd show, a second (and third) round surfaced a couple of days later on the same show. Ms Mefferd offered verbal and .pdf proof that there was more plagiarism, this time, not just similar concept, tone, and language, but word-for-word lifting. Mark Driscoll's book "Trial: 8 Witnesses from 1 & 2 Peter" had on pages 7 & 8 whole word-for-word paragraphs from different pages that were published in D.A. Carson et al “1 Peter,” New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, Ed. D. A. Carson, 4th ed. (Downers Grove, Ill.: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), p. 1370. You can see the evidence here.
Janet Mefferd
public Facebook profile

It is plain and clear that the bible says men who are called to pastor should be shepherds after Jesus's own heart (Jeremiah 3:15). It is also plain and clear that they are held to an extremely high standard: they must be above reproach. (Titus 1:6; 1 Timothy 3:2). Above reproach in the Greek word as it's used in the NT means blameless, not convictable when a person is properly scrutinized. GotQuestions explains 'above reproach' in our terms,

"The dictionary defines “reproach” as shame or disgrace or that which brings rebuke or censure upon a person. The Bible speaks of being “above reproach” or “blameless” as one of the distinctive marks of those who aspire to the office of elder or deacon within the church (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6-7). As such, their work for the church, as well as their interactions with others, are to be of such moral quality that they do not bring shame or in any way disgrace the body of Christ or the name of Jesus. This holds true not only within the church, but outside it as well."

In other words, if you were to look closely at a pastor's life, there would be nothing you could accuse him or or call him to account over.

This is obviously not the case with Mark Driscoll. He is almost constantly reproved for some kind of bad behavior or other. There have been moral failings, ethical breaches, spiritual irreverence and doctrinal error. He has been counseled by elders of the faith and has ignored their counsel, demonstrating a refusal to submit to authority. The specifics are at this link. Though the sheep bleat and bleat, Mr Driscoll remains, seemingly impervious to the attempts to lever leviathan from his place.

Of all the perplexing and ruinous behaviors in that list which Mr Driscoll has evidenced, there is one which affronts me greatly. It is the modern blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. That term was created and expounded upon by Dr John MacArthur in his sermon of the same title delivered in 2011. He had become concerned with the modern mystics (of which Driscoll is one) who claim to receive direct visions and revelation from the Holy Spirit, but which in fact are demonic. Here is Dr MacArthur's explanation of how and why the modern blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is so deadly:

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

Wikipedia, Press photo
I’m not here to defend the Holy Spirit, He can defend Himself. But I am here to say that reproaches that are falling on His holy name are falling on me as well, and mostly this comes in the professing church from Pentecostals and Charismatics who feel they have free license to abuse the Holy Spirit and even blaspheme His holy name. And they do it constantly.

How do they do it? By attributing to the Holy Spirit words that He didn’t say, deeds that He didn’t do, and experiences that He didn’t produce, attributing to the Holy Spirit that which is not the work of the Holy Spirit. Endless human experiences, emotional experiences, bizarre experiences and demonic experiences are said to come from the Holy Spirit…visions, revelations, voices from heaven, messages from the Spirit through transcendental means, dreams, speaking in tongues, prophecies, out of body experiences, trips to heaven, anointings, miracles. All false, all lies, all deceptions attributed falsely to the Holy Spirit.

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

Mr Driscoll has famously said "I see things" in which he claims all of the above. He claims that the Holy Spirit allows him to view sexual fornication in graphic detail as it happens, 'like a movie.' I am astounded the entire Church did not come down on his head in resounding reproaches for making that statement, because it is gross, blasphemous and entirely demonic. Pastor Phil Johnson aptly called Driscoll's statement, "pornographic divination."

Yet Driscoll's claim stood, and like all demonic lies, it was not the first time he has made the claim. In researching this week about the claims of his plagiarism, I came across an excerpt from his book, Real Marriage, published at the beginning of 2012. It is a marital advice book in which the Driscolls reveal graphic details about their own marriage and weave those personal revelations with advice for other couples. I do not recommend the book.
Grace Driscoll
Source- Mars Hill Press Kit

In that book, Mr Driscoll reveals the following:

One night, as we approached the birth of our first child, Ashley, and the launch of our church, I had a dream in which I saw some things that shook me to my core. I saw in painful detail Grace sinning sexually during a senior trip she took after high school when we had just started dating. It was so clear it was like watching a film — something I cannot really explain but the kind of revelation I sometimes receive. I awoke, threw up, and spent the rest of the night sitting on our couch, praying, hoping it was untrue, and waiting for her to wake up so I could ask her. I asked her if it was true, fearing the answer. Yes, she confessed, it was. Grace started weeping and trying to apologize for lying to me, but I honestly don’t remember the details of the conversation, as I was shell-shocked. Had I known about this sin, I would not have married her.” (p. 11-12, Real Marriage)

Here is a pastor who claims to have the Holy Spirit inside him and claims this Pure Spirit allows him to view other people engaged in sexual congress 'like a movie." I find his claim makes me want to throw up. It is completely impossible that the Spirit of all holiness would place pornographic pictures in Driscoll's head, and  voyeuristically, of other people no less. How is this any different from simply putting in a real porn movie and watching it? But Driscoll claims this is a gift from the Holy Spirit. His statement is a true and explicit example of the modern blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. This alone should cause enough warrant to remove Driscoll from pastoring. But wait, it gets worse.

As a Christian, Driscoll says that this demonically delivered porn vision would have been the reason he would have chosen not to marry his wife. However, we rely on the bible to make decisions, not experiences or visions. Every time someone received a vision and decisively went forward on the basis of that, it turned out to be hell itself (Mormonism, Islam, etc). He is showing the entire church through his published book that it is acceptable and holy to receive porn visions, and worse, that it is proper to make decisions based on those visions, and not the bible.

Third, as a husband, he throws aside the sovereignty of God in making the claim that the sexual visions he claims to have had would be enough reason for him not to marry her. That he did marry her is evidence of the sovereignty of God. If God had not wanted Driscoll to marry his wife Grace, he would not have. That he had been married to her for years by the time this vision entered his brain is evidence that this is the woman God has intended him to marry. It should be noted that Driscoll states he was not a virgin when they married, either. Moreover, it is the worst thing I've even heard a husband say about his wife, made all the worse because it is in print, and online, forever.

Can you picture Christ saying that about a sinning woman? No. Look what Jesus did say to sinning women: John 8:11, John 4:16-25, Luke 8:2. This is why Driscoll is not a shepherd after Jesus's own heart.

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, (Ephesians 5:25) 

Carl Trueman made an interesting statement in between the different claims of alleged Driscoll plagiarism that surfaced over the last week. In his short but pointed essay called Judge for Yourselves, Mr Trueman said,

"This could well prove an interesting test case for the ethical stature of conservative evangelicalism. Is there an evangelical industrial complex out there or is there a morality which transcends and ultimately regulates the evangelical marketplace?"

Ms Mefferd reported that Tyndale, who published Driscoll's A Call to Resurgence, has committed with Driscoll to publish more of his books in a new imprint called Resurgence Publishing. Last February Driscoll announced,

"We’ve reached an agreement with Tyndale House Publishers to publish numerous titles under a new imprint called Resurgence Publishing (the last two books with the Re:Lit name will be released this spring). Tyndale will publish all of my (Pastor Mark’s) work moving forward, in addition to other Resurgence authors whom we’ll announce in the coming months. We’ll kick things off this fall with the launch of my next book."

This week, Driscoll's publisher Tyndale said that they have examined the alleged plagiarism evidence and are fine with everything. Everything is hunky dory, please disperse.

"Tyndale House takes any accusation of plagiarism seriously and has therefore conducted a thorough in-house review of the original material and sources provided by the author. After this review we feel confident that the content in question has been properly cited in the printed book and conforms to market standards." (source)

So we have Mr Trueman's answer. The "evangelical industrial complex" is alive and well, machinery grinding  our doctrine, the sheep, and lucre-seeking pastors and all, in the ever-eternal pursuit of money.

Discerning book buyers have long wondered why LifeWay continues to publish obvious heretics such as Joel Osteen, Joyce Meyers and the like. Offering heretical books to the sheep for money seems a bad trade compared to the treasures Jesus said are stored up for us. And now Publishing House Tyndale's weird response to blatant plagiarism is another head-scratching moment in our apostatizing church. Why?

Because Mark Driscoll as merchandise has become more valuable to the money making church than Mark Driscoll as godly pastor is to the ever sanctifying church.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; (1 Peter 5:2)

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)

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving: Jesus is the horn of plenty

Romans 8:14-17:

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

The Westminster Larger Catechism succinctly explains the verse's benefits of this adoption as sons of God-

What is adoption?
"A. Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are received into the number of his children, have his name put upon them, the Spirit of his Son given to them, are under his fatherly care and dispensations, admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God, made heirs of all the promises, and fellow-heirs with Christ in glory."

Think of that for a moment...how great and bountiful this gift is.

At Thanksgiving we often see the American symbol of the 'horn of plenty' also known as the Cornucopia. The horn is filled to overflowing with harvest items from this time of year, such as this depiction from American Greetings freebies:


Adoption is an act of the free grace of God, in and for his only Son Jesus Christ, whereby all those that are justified are given gifts from HIS harvest of plenty. Picture the overflowing cornucopia of plenty from Jesus with His harvest treasures:

--received into the number of his children,
--have his name put upon them,
--the Spirit of his Son given to them,
--are under his fatherly care and dispensations,
--admitted to all the liberties and privileges of the sons of God,
--made heirs of all the promises, and
--fellow-heirs with Christ in glory.

All Christians have these and so much more to be thankful for. I know I am grateful for the opportunity to be grateful to Jesus forever.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A blog full of visuals for the brain tired of reading

Vacation! Here is blog lite.


I found this cartoon on  twitter, Michael A Nöthem's stream (@mikandynothem)

Below is created by Eric Novak from Chicago, IL. HT Challies Desktop resources.


Below, Elizabeth Prata collage art

Watercolor by EPrata. One Christmas vacation in FL I bought a pack of index cards and a kids' dot paint set for my own amusement. I wanted to see how many different designs I could produce with the same materials, just to challenge my creativity.


Now for some real art: Just gaze at the pretty
Camille, Monet's first wife, is shown with a child in the garden
of their house in Argenteuil, near Paris,
where they lived between 1872 and 1877. Claude Monet
The Ascension, 1305, Giotto


Photographer treks to Siberia to reach unknown village

I look at this website called MyModernMet. My Modern Metropolis "is where art enthusiasts and trendspotters connect over creative ideas." There is some beautiful art, amazing photography, travel photos of exotic places, and interesting and thought-provoking concepts.

Today I watched this 8-minute video. It is of a photographer named Sasha who spent an inordinate amount of money and incredible amount of time to reach an unreached people group in northern Siberia...so he could take their photograph and give them the picture. Here is the MyModernMet blog entry about it:

Beautifully Rare Portraits of People Living In Remote Siberia
"Camera phones and social media make it quite easy to see photographs of yourself on a daily basis. However, there are some areas that don't have the same advanced technology and Chukotka, a remote region in Siberia, is one of these places. ... Leahovcenco photographed local individuals in their everyday lives and, immediately after taking a photograph, he would make a print and hand it directly to his subjects. For many, this was the very first time they had ever had their photograph taken."

Here is Sasha's explanation about his trip:
Two years ago I had the amazing opportunity to go literally to the end of the earth to photograph people who never had their photo taken. At schools, churches, homes and hospitals I could give people a moment to forget their troubles and just smile for the camera. But while shooting with nomadic reindeer herding families it was me who was most deeply touched by the experience. For although my hosts had few material possessions they shared with me something rare in the world – a sense of peace and satisfaction with life. We hope to engage humanity’s deep rooted fascination with nature and desire to understand humanity. Perhaps by getting a glimpse of this nomadic way of life we will reflect on this modern world and what in our lives is truly important.

We have within us this innate desire to connect. To explore, to find out why. We long for answers as to life's questions, and we love to explore this world and see the unique aspects of this planet which supports our very life. Since after the Fall, we have congregated and collected and tried to find out why and where and who. (Genesis 11:4)

God put in us this desire to know and seek. (Ecclesiastes 3:11). It's a given that His children yearn for Him.

"My soul longs, yes, faints for the courts of the LORD; my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God." (Psalm 84:2)

But does the lost soul also yearn for that which he does not know? Yes, they do. Romans 1:19-20 states it, God's general revelation of Himself is made plain to them through His creation.

"For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse."

Gill's Exposition explains General revelation as opposed to Specific revelation. Specific revelation is hidden from the pagan.

"There are some things which could not be known of God by the light of nature; as a trinity of persons in the Godhead; the knowledge of God in Christ as Mediator; the God-man and Mediator Jesus Christ; his incarnation, sufferings, death, and resurrection; the will of God to save sinners by a crucified Jesus; the several peculiar doctrines of the Gospel, particularly the resurrection of the dead, and the manner of worshipping of God with acceptance: but then there are some things which may be known of God, without a revelation."

General revelation as shown in Romans 1:19-20 is given plainly to every living person on earth just by virtue of being alive on earth and experiencing its majesty. And so they are without excuse. Here is Gill again:

"...even the very Heathens have some notion of him, as that there is a God; and by the light of nature it might be known that there is but one God, who is glorious, full of majesty, and possessed of all perfections, as that he is all powerful, wise, good and righteous: and this is manifest in them, or "to them"; by the light that is given them: it is light by which that which may be known of God is manifest; and this is the light of nature..."

It is this drive which propels explorers to deduce the machinery of the eternal, to peek behind the administration and organization of the world's tribes to examine what connects us in our common humanity. It is God which connects us, but the specifics of that revelation are hidden from most. Yet they seek, scout, search and scrutinize. Even to the uttermost parts of the earth.

If you have specific revelation of Jesus today then that is your Thanksgiving, It is the knowledge of all things, He who is the only important person in the universe, He who is creator and King. He made you and holds your soul in His hand.

If you wonder about the deep things of the world, they whys and wherefores, if you have a seeking yearning heart, then you are alive with general revelation. You can pray to God for more, for the urge to repent of your sins which are the blinders on you preventing you from seeing Jesus in His glorious specific revelation. Humanity is all the same, all one kind in the sense that we are all made in the image of God, (Genesis 1:27) and that we were all made by the same hand-

"For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him." (Colossians 1:16)

When we get there at the conclusion of all things, we will truly be one united humankind, seeing and knowing fully. I am excited to think that in that Day, no distance will separate me from my brother and my neighbor, no harsh snow or inhospitable clime will stop me from visiting with peoples who are made in His image and are glorified into His image. There will be no long trek to find far-flung people in order to connect. We will be connected by the glory of the living and present Jesus. And that will be a Day!




Nanook of the North



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Drudge evokes Chamberlain's "Peace for our time"; Obama and precursor to holocaust?

Today's Drudge web page has a brilliant evocation of the WWII historic moment by Neville Chamberlain.

Obama has returned from Geneva Switzerland claiming to have been a party to brokering a deal to a nuclear deal between Iran and six Western powers. Iran wants nukes, so they can obliterate Israel, and wipe them from the map. (Psalm 83:4). Israel doesn't want Iran to have nukes because they don't want to be obliterated. Israel lost and six Western powers signed a pact to allow Iran to effectively continue making nukes. The powers who signed it were the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council: U.S., UK, France, Russia and China, plus Germany -- and of course Iran. That's the nutshell.

[Israel leaders Denounce Geneva Accord; The US defends it]

Let's take a look back through history so we can see the parallels and treacheries of appeasement, and perhaps why Drudge presented us with this picture. I believe we are wading in deep prophetic waters today. Drudge's deliberate evocation of the dramatic moment of appeasing Hitler prior to the eruption of WWII may indeed be more prescient than he knows:


He named the photo 'onc.jpg' which I assume is short for 'Obama Neville Chamberlain'. Here is the historic photo of Neville Chamberlain, left, which I put next to Drudge's Obama photo manipulation.

So what does it mean?

In September 1938, Neville Chamberlain was Britain's Prime Minister. Here is the historical background to the September 1938 Munich Agreement in which Chamberlain famously returned from brokering an agreement with Hitler and said "We have peace for our time." The following is from War History Online:

-------------------begin War History Online-------------------

The nation of Czechoslovakia, created in 1919, had amongst its diverse ethnic groups 3.5 million Germans living on the Czech-German border, the Sudetenland. When the Czechoslovakian president, Eduard Benes, visited Hitler in Germany he was subjected to one of Hitler’s harangues about oppression and the Sudeten German’s right to self-determination. Hitler wanted to use the Sudetenland as a pretext to invade Czechoslovakia despite his generals cautioning him against the idea.
From left to right: Chamberlain, Daladier, Hitler, Mussolini, and Ciano,
before signing the Munich Agreement, which gave the Sudetenland
to Germany. Wikipedia pic
Czechoslovakia: the “last major problem”

On September 15, 1938, Neville Chamberlain (pictured), Britain’s Prime Minister since May 1937, visited Hitler at his home in Berchtesgaden and listened as Hitler proclaimed that Czechoslovakia was the “last major problem to be solved”. Despite his generals’ advice and nervousness, Hitler threatened war unless the Czech and British governments accepted his demands that the Sudetenland be peacefully incorporated into the Reich.

Chamberlain was not unsympathetic. Like many British politicians before him, he felt that the post-WWI treaty signed at Versailles had been unnecessarily unjust against Germany and the French’s determination to impose the Treaty to the letter overly harsh. Furthermore, a strong Germany, the British felt, would act as a useful buffer against the Soviet Union. Therefore, Chamberlain listened to Hitler and purposefully pursued a policy of appeasement.

When Chamberlain relayed Hitler’s demands to Benes, the Czechoslovakian president knew he had no choice. Neither Britain nor France would come to his rescue, despite their alliances, and his country could not face going to war single-handedly against the might of Germany. Reluctantly, Benes agreed to Hitler’s demands.

Chamberlain returned to Hitler, satisfied that, through his diplomacy, he had averted a war. But Hitler was now demanding more, namely the right to the immediate occupation of the Sudetenland.

Chamberlain was again prepared to accept these new demands but his government was not. A stalemate had been reached. Europe seemed on the brink of war until the unlikely figure of Benito Mussolini, the Italian dictator, stepped in as mediator and suggested a meeting between himself, Hitler, Chamberlain and the French Prime Minister, Edouard Daladier. The Czechoslovakian government was not invited.

-------------------end War History Online-------------------

The Zionist leadership in the British Mandate of Palestine wrote in February 1938 that according to "a very reliable private source—one which can be traced back to the highest echelons of the SS leadership," there was "an intention to carry out a genuine and dramatic pogrom in Germany on a large scale in the near future." source
Wikipedia notes of Chamberlain's premature statement,

"It is primarily remembered for its ironic value: less than a year after the agreement, following continued aggression from Germany and its invasion of Poland, Europe was plunged into World War II."

The Holocaust Encyclopedia recounts the dramatic days prior to the eruption of war in Europe and Hitler's abandonment of one agreement and pact after another:

"Britain and France essentially acquiesced to Germany's rearmament (1935-1937), remilitarization of the Rhineland (1936), and annexation of Austria (March 1938). In September 1938, after signing away the Czech border regions, known as the Sudetenland, to Germany at the Munich conference, British and French leaders pressured France's ally, Czechoslovakia, to yield to Germany's demand for the incorporation of those regions. Despite Anglo-French guarantees of the integrity of rump Czechoslovakia, the Germans dismembered the Czechoslovak state in March 1939 in violation of the Munich agreement. Britain and France responded by guaranteeing the integrity of the Polish state. Hitler responded by negotiating a nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union in the summer of 1939. The German-Soviet Pact of August 1939, which stated that Poland was to be partitioned between the two powers, enabled Germany to attack Poland without the fear of Soviet intervention. On September 1, 1939, Germany invaded Poland."

British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain
cheerfully greeted by Adolf Hitler
at the beginning of a meeting on 24 Sept 1938,
where Hitler demanded annexation of Czech
border areas without delay
WWII had begun. Appeasing Hitler did not work. The entire world was thrown into one of the worst wars in history and the near genocide of the Jewish population in Germany.

Just as the bible shows us pictures and types of Christs (Jonah, Mt 12:39-40, or Adam, Rom 5:14) the bible also shows us pictures and types of antichrists (Antiochus, for example). If Hitler was also a picture of the antichrist, and the Holocaust was a picture of the genocide to come in the Tribulation, then what parallels do we see today with what is happening between the US, France, Germany, Britain and Iran, Russia and Saudi Arabia?

Many.

Let's start with what we know and work backward. The bible is truth and we know what we know from it because it is the word of God. Iran and Russia et al will attack Israel. (Ezekiel 38:4-6, 8). We know that there will be a final antichrist who will embody sin fully and completely. (2 Thessalonians 2:3). We know he will go after the Jews and Israel in the worst genocide there shall ever be, or will be again. He will also go after the Christians. (Revelation 12:13-17). We know sometime in the future, people will be clamoring for peace but while they are saying it, sudden destruction will come upon them. (1 Thessalonians 5:3). Kind of like Chamberlain saying we have peace for our time and then sudden destruction came anyway.

Did appeasing Hitler work? No. Will appeasing Iran work? No, the bible shows that Iran is a satanic regime hell-bent on world domination on behalf of their Allah, who is satan. Their hatred of Jews and of the nation Israel (and thus their hatred of God) knows no bounds and will not be stopped. The bible shows this. The LORD will use Iran as a judgment on His people Israel and so that the nations will know that God is alive in the world and holy, and is defending His people (Ezekiel 38:16).

The parallels of the Iran appeasement and the Germany appeasement have many similarities. One difference is that the Gog-Magog war will not break out until Israel believes itself secure. (Ezekiel 38:8). However, the convergence of so many prophetic indicators from a variety of prophetic spheres can't be denied. [Falklands quake largest ever recorded]

Whether this is the moment, or that will be the moment we don't know. (Matthew 25:13). But the similarities between history's appeasing one antichrist type who hated Jews and started a holocaust, and today's appeasing another antichrist type who hates Jews and will start a holocaust, are seen in the dramatic photo that Drudge, either knowingly or unknowingly, presented us today. Read this Wikipedia overview of Hitler's Third Reich and think of the similarities to the coming Antichrist regime:

"Nazi Germany and the Third Reich are common names for Germany during the period from 1933 to 1945, when its government was controlled by Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Workers' Party, commonly known as the Nazi Party. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the state. Nazi Germany ceased to exist after the Allied Forces defeated the Wehrmacht in May 1945, thus ending World War II in Europe."

"After Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany by the President of the Weimar Republic Paul von Hindenburg on 30 January 1933, the Nazi Party began to eliminate all political opposition and consolidate their power. Hindenburg died on 2 August 1934, and Hitler became dictator of Germany when the powers and offices of the Chancellery and Presidency were merged. A national referendum held 19 August 1934 confirmed Hitler as sole Führer (leader) of Germany. All power was centralised in Hitler's hands, and his word was above all laws."

Keep praying, the Lord our God will propel His events forward until His will is accomplished. But at all moments, He works good on behalf of all those who love Him, no matter the world's circumstances and events.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28.

It is exciting to watch His prophetic word come alive and to think we may be seeing the beginnings of his final prophecies come to pass. It is just as exciting to see His providential outworking in our lives day to day. Either way, and both ways, it's all good. The Lord our God is Holy, His son is Faithful and His Spirit is ministering to us right now. As Christians we are extremely blessed, because we have the great treasure of Jesus, and we have the opportunity for wisdom in knowing the bible through the Spirit's illumination. This means we can pray for the people and events that are shaping our world today. And who knows, tomorrow our world may be in heaven.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
For further reading

Israeli author: “I think this deal makes an Israeli strike inevitable.”

The Futile Search for a Secular Savior

Understanding Gog and Magog

The Coming Man of Sin, part 1

Monday, November 25, 2013

Does the fruit of Mark Driscoll's works show he is a false pastor and a wolf? (Updated)

Updated to add Carl Trueman quote and link.

Creative Commons
Plagiarism is a serious issue these days in academia, publishing, and journalism. In 2005 Judy Hayden called academic plagiarism a "crisis". In publishing, both Fareed Zakaria and Doris Kearns Goodwin were exposed as plagiarists when portions of each of their works were shown to be plagiarized. Yet for all that, plagiarism increasingly seems to be brushed off these days as a minor mistake.

Salon.com wrote further, "Goodwin, the elder, is a serial plagiarizer who has been welcomed back with open arms by the TV punditocracy." As for Zakaria the journalist, last year "Zakaria was suspended ... by Time magazine and CNN for lifting several paragraphs from a New Yorker magazine essay and using them in his Time magazine column. Zakaria apologized, calling it a "terrible mistake."

Academia has plagiarizer checkers, whereupon the Professor submits the student's paper to a site and software automatically checks for similar language or lifted portions. This is now as much a standard task for Professors to perform as actually grading the papers.

Because plagiarism involves lying and stealing, one would think that plagiarism would have no place in Christian circles. But it does.

Increasingly, pastors are routinely exposed for plagiarizing sermons and failing to give proper attribution, passing them off as their own study and work product. I wrote back in May that our own pastor was asked to leave due to serial plagiarism, among other reasons. It has sadly become a common problem in the pulpit.

With so many pastors attaining celebrity status and writing books, going on tours and giving interviews, the temptation to plagiarize their for-profit work product exists for them as much as it does for secular writers. Just as with any sin, it can creep in, lie in wait, inoculate the bearer to its evil, and then sear the conscience.

In my opinion, that seems to be what happened to Mark Driscoll.
Wikimedia commons,
Mars Hill publicly released photo

Readers might know that he crashed the Grace Community Church Strange Fire conference last month and attempted to pass out his un-vetted books at the conference. Then when he was caught, he spoke falsely about what happened, claiming that his books were confiscated and he was abruptly escorted off the grounds by guards. Photos, eyewitness accounts, and video proved those to be lies, almost immediately.

I chose not to write about it because there has been so much ink already on Driscoll that I thought the event was tawdry and over the years there has been plenty to show that he has engaged in acts which in my opinion at least, bring him below reproach.

This week, Mr Driscoll was interviewed on the Janet Mefferd show regarding Driscoll's new book, "A Call to Resurgence". (Interview link below). Mefferd, who is familiar with the work of Dr. Peter Jones, and in preparing for the Driscoll interview, noticed that 14 pages of Driscoll's book were extremely similar in tone, language and concept to Dr Jones's, and there was no direct citation nor was there proper attribution. Were the pages plagiarized?

Mefferd asked Driscoll about this. The interview became heated on Driscoll's part, and unfortunately he began to attack Ms Mefferd. Pastor Driscoll said that Mefferd was being unkind, rude, grumpy, and trying to give Driscoll orders. He said she was unChrist-like, had no experience as an intellectual property attorney or judge.

Then he hung up on her.

"But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect," (1 Peter 3:15)

Part of Driscoll's reasoning was that like Zakaria had said, the 14 pages of eerily similar content in his book to Jones's was "a mistake."

Later, Ms Mefferd related that her former newspaper editor emailed her after examining the evidence, saying, "He works on the plagiarism issue with the American Copy Editors Society, listened to the interview and said that group would agree with my assessment of plagiarism in the Driscoll case. Just thought you all  would like to know!"

Yet Ms Mefferd is receiving a lion's share of blow-back simply because she asked Driscoll about the plagiarism, and Driscoll isn't (yet) repentant about the apparent plagiarism nor his behavior on the interview with toward a woman of the faith.

Pastor Wade Burleson wrote of this issue,

"Mark Driscoll is a pastor. He is not a scholar. It could be that he made a "mistake" by not realizing the seriousness of selling a book where he appropriated the thoughts and ideas of another author as his own. It could be that Mark truly didn't know how to give proper credit to Dr. Jones in his book's footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography. ... Pastor Mark Driscoll might not be clear about the scholarly way to give credit. However, what Pastor Mark Driscoll should know how to do is to treat someone who calls him out on his error."

In researching this issue, I came across Driscoll's own FAQ about use of material from his blog, church web pages, and sermons and sermon transcripts. It seems that Pastor Mark Driscoll is perfectly clear about intellectual property, plagiarism, and attribution. When it comes to using his own work-product, that is. After reading Driscoll's FAQ on plagiarism, I ask us all, at what point do we stop giving benefit of the doubt?

The FAQ states,

"If I use material from one of Pastor Mark’s sermon’s [sic] do I need to cite him as the source of that material?
"Yes. If you don’t cite him, you are plagiarizing. If you use content from one of Pastor Mark’s sermons or from one of his books, you need to attribute the content (whether it is a quote or paraphrase) to Pastor Mark. Also, even though we make transcripts available of our sermons, this does not mean you can take the transcript and deliver the sermon as though it is your own. This too is plagiarism."

I have a concern here about two things mainly.

1. After a pattern of sin has become entrenched in a pastor's life, without any evidence of repentance, and with bad fruit more constant than good, when do we stop giving benefit of the doubt and saying things like "He is working for the Kingdom of God?" How does it honor Jesus to ignore a pastor's pattern of a variety of sins where there is no repentance, and when the evidence points to his sin's entrenchment and a seared conscience?

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves." (Matthew 7:5)

Remember, 'ravenous' means they are always hungry and they never stop eating. The root of the word 'ravenous' in Latin means to plunder, take by force.

2. Why doesn't the Church take plagiarism seriously? Plagiarism is lying and stealing. Pastors called to shepherd the sheep on behalf of the name of Jesus the Christ should not lie. It seems a moral given. Yet we have become soft on the benchmarks the bible gives on sin in the sheep and especially the pastors, and especially if they are celebrity pastors. Pastors and elders must be above reproach. (1 Timothy 3:2,10; Titus 1:7).
"The Mefferd-Driscoll controversy points to another aspect of celebrity culture: celebrities are routinely allowed to behave in ways which would not be tolerated in ordinary mortals." Carl Trueman

So I ask again, why do churches put up with lying, unrepentant pastors? Why do they overlook patterns of sin and the bad fruit they produce? It is not about me being mean, or judging another or forgetting I am a sinner too. When a pastor who sins grievously according to the standards outlined in the Word, whether he repents or not, he has violated those standards. If you hired a doctor at a hospital and found out later he never went to medical school, would you keep him on? Of course not, he is not qualified. Pastoring is a matter of qualifications, and those were set by Jesus, the highest authority that exists. Yet there seems to be an easing of standards and more and more avoidance in applying them in discipline when it comes to pastors. Why do we let the wolves gobble us up?

In his 1991 essay titled Should Fallen Pastors Be Restored? John MacArthur wrote, "Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong with the church. But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader's sin. That the church is so eager to bring these men back into leadership is a symptom of rottenness at the core. ... By all means we should be forgiving. But we cannot erase the consequences of sin. I am not advocating that we "shoot our wounded." I'm simply saying that we shouldn't rush them back to the front lines, and we should not put them in charge of other soldiers. The church should do everything possible to minister to those who have sinned and repented. But that does not include restoring the mantle of leadership to a man who has disqualified himself and forfeited the right to lead. Doing so is unbiblical and lowers the standard God has set."

Oh, and what happened to the pastor I mentioned who was asked to leave due to 4 years of plagiarizing sermons on a weekly basis, even passing off the original pastor's personal anecdotes as his own? Within 5 months, he was quickly hired as interim pastor at a nearby church. Yes, the search committee was aware of the reason he had left. They hired him anyway.

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

Enough is enough from Mark Driscoll. We should state plainly that his fruits are not from the Lord.

1. Driscoll claims to see visions of congregants in the act of adultery, and claims these pornographic visions are from the Holy Spirit.

2. Driscoll speaks crassly about sex from the pulpit, crossing the line of propriety especially by focusing on adult content in front of congregations and children are present. MacArthur wrote a 4-part series about Driscoll's Rape of Solomon's Song preached by Driscoll in Scotland a few years ago. MacArthur stated that Driscoll defended his talks, "It's frank but not crass," Mark Driscoll told a Sunday congregation in Scotland just less than 18 months ago. But then he continued by paraphrasing Solomon in a way that was totally crass and not even remotely close to what the Holy Spirit intended. (A CD copy of that shocking message, entitled Sex: A Study of the Good Bits of Song of Solomon was recently sent to me [MacArthur] by some deeply offended and concerned Christians in the UK. It is primarily the reason I'm doing this series.)" Dr MacArthur said that Driscoll engaged in "scurrilous soft-porn" from the pulpit. One should consider that blog series a rebuke by an elder of the faith to Driscoll. And yes, Driscoll was privately contacted by MacArthur before the blog series was published.

2a. It should be noted that the New York Times reported, "Mark Driscoll’s sermons are mostly too racy to post on GodTube, the evangelical Christian “family friendly” video-posting Web site. With titles like “Biblical Oral Sex” and “Pleasuring Your Spouse,” his clips do not stand a chance against the site’s content filters."

3. Driscoll swears from the pulpit like a longshoreman. "Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be." ~James 3:10

4. Driscoll runs roughshod over deacons and employees, engaging in guerrilla-like tactics (Mark & Jonna Petry for example) of firing them when they question his leadership or his doctrine. (John 12:42)

4a. Driscoll does the same with congregants who won't get aboard his metaphorical vision bus and won't align themselves unquestioningly with Driscoll's vision for his own leadership of Mars Hill. He calls it 'blessed subtraction' and boasts that it is by 'God's grace' that there will be a 'mountainous pile of dead bodies under his bus'. More here. (Matthew 6:21).

5. He makes a mockery of the pulpit and ignores rebukes and discipling opportunities from elder men of the faith. "Nevertheless, I have written Mark privately with my concerns. He rejected my counsel. ... Mark Driscoll’s response to that admonition and the things he has said since have only magnified my concern." More here.

6. I mentioned the Strange Fire Conference intrusion in October, where Driscoll and another pastor came uninvited, passed out their books (which were doctrinally opposite to the Conference's teaching objective) and lied about the incident- we know this because many eyewitness and video testimonies surfaced almost immediately which contradicted what Driscoll had tweeted. (More here)

7. And now this objectively analyzed plagiarism incident where not only the plagiarism is exposed but Driscoll dealt harshly and made ad hominem attacks to a sister of the faith and acted not in grace but in childish pride by hanging up. (1 Peter 3:15; Proverbs 14:17; For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, James 1:20)

There are more examples of course. I do not like spending time listing these examples. They give me no joy and only engender heartbreak for a man who claims to serve my precious Lord. I am sorrowful for the congregants he is a poor example to. I am saddened that he has given such opportunity to pagans to mock us and our Holy Jesus.

"Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone," (Colossians 4:5-6)

Christianity has standards. We have standards for entry, for behavior once converted, and for pastors who are supposed to be leaders. (Jeremiah 3:15, Proverbs 27:23, James 1:22 , Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 3:15)

Is Mark Driscoll a shepherd after Jesus's own heart? The question must be asked, at what point do you stop saying that a crass, lying, plagiarizing, childish, sex-obsessed, porn-vision pastor who goes rogue, refuses to submit to authority, and sullies the pulpit with profanity is doing Kingdom work? When?

-----------------------------------
For Further Reading--

Janet Mefferd's Interview with Mark Driscoll 

Janet Mefferd Show

Carl Trueman: If the Top Men take over, who will ask the hard questions?

Chris Rosebrough/Fighting for the Faith,"Allegations that Mark Driscoll Plagiarized Dr. Peter Jones"

Wiki Classroom: Avoiding Plagiarism

Pastoral Plagiarism: 10 Do's and Don'ts

What are the biblical qualifications for pastors?

Thom Ranier: 10 Things members desire in a pastor

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Creation Grace: Build Your House on the Rock


Build Your House on the Rock

“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” 
~Matthew 7:24-27

Sunday Martyr Moment: Martyrs vs. Mark Driscoll - What is real suffering?

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

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

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

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

The Eighth Persecution, Under Valerian, A.D. 257

Began under Valerian, in the month of April, 257, and continued for three years and six months. The martyrs that fell in this persecution were innumerable, and their tortures and deaths as various and painful. The most eminent martyrs were the following, though neither rank, sex, nor age were regarded.

Rufina and Secunda were two beautiful and accomplished ladies, daughters of Asterius, a gentleman of
The Martyrdom of Secunda and Rufina
Collaborative painting by Il Morazzone,
Giulio Procaccini, Giovanni Battista Crespi (1620-1625)
eminence in Rome. Rufina, the elder, was designed in marriage for Armentarius, a young nobleman; Secunda, the younger, for Verinus, a person of rank and opulence. The suitors, at the time of the persecution's commencing, were both Christians; but when danger appeared, to save their fortunes, they renounced their faith. They took great pains to persuade the ladies to do the same, but, disappointed in their purpose, the lovers were base enough to inform against the ladies, who, being apprehended as Christians, were brought before Junius Donatus, governor of Rome, where, A.D. 257, they sealed their martyrdom with their blood.

Stephen, bishop of Rome, was beheaded in the same year, and about that time Saturninus, the pious orthodox bishop of Toulouse, refusing to sacrifice to idols, was treated with all the barbarous indignities imaginable, and fastened by the feet to the tail of a bull. Upon a signal given, the enraged animal was driven down the steps of the temple, by which the worthy martyr's brains were dashed out.

Sextus succeeded Stephen as bishop of Rome. He is supposed to have been a Greek by birth or by extraction, and had for some time served in the capacity of a deacon under Stephen. His great fidelity, singular wisdom, and uncommon courage distinguished him upon many occasions; and the happy conclusion of a controversy with some heretics is generally ascribed to his piety and prudence. In the year 258, Marcianus, who had the management of the Roman government, procured an order from the emperor Valerian, to put to death all the Christian clergy in Rome, and hence the bishop with six of his deacons, suffered martyrdom in 258.

Let us draw near to the fire of martyred Lawrence, that our cold hearts may be warmed thereby. The merciless tyrant, understanding him to be not only a minister of the sacraments, but a distributor also of the Church riches, promised to himself a double prey, by the apprehension of one soul. First, with the rake of avarice to scrape to himself the treasure of poor Christians; then with the fiery fork of tyranny, so to toss and turmoil them, that they should wax weary of their profession.

With furious face and cruel countenance, the greedy wolf demanded where this Lawrence had bestowed the substance of the Church: who, craving three days' respite, promised to declare where the treasure might be had. In the meantime, he caused a good number of poor Christians to be congregated. So, when the day of his answer was come, the persecutor strictly charged him to stand to his promise. Then valiant Lawrence, stretching out his arms over the poor, said: "These are the precious treasure of the Church; these are the treasure indeed, in whom the faith of Christ reigneth, in whom Jesus Christ hath His mansion-place.

What more precious jewels can Christ have, than those in whom He hath promised to dwell? For so it is written, 'I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in.' And again, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' What greater riches can Christ our Master possess, than the poor people in whom He loveth to be seen?"

O, what tongue is able to express the fury and madness of the tyrant's heart! Now he stamped, he stared, he ramped, he fared as one out of his wits: his eyes like fire glowed, his mouth like a boar formed, his teeth like a hellhound grinned. Now, not a reasonable man, but a roaring lion, he might be called.

Wikimedia Commons,
Martyrdom of Lawrence
"Kindle the fire (he cried)--of wood make no spare. Hath this villain deluded the emperor? Away with him, away with him: whip him with scourges, jerk him with rods, buffet him with fists, brain him with clubs. Jesteth the traitor with the emperor? Pinch him with fiery tongs, gird him with burning plates, bring out the strongest chains, and the fire-forks, and the grated bed of iron: on the fire with it; bind the rebel hand and foot; and when the bed is fire-hot, on with him: roast him, broil him, toss him, turn him: on pain of our high displeasure do every man his office, O ye tormentors."

The word was no sooner spoken, but all was done. After many cruel handlings, this meek lamb was laid, I will not say on his fiery bed of iron, but on his soft bed of down. So mightily God wrought with his martyr Lawrence, so miraculously God tempered His element the fire; that it became not a bed of consuming pain, but a pallet of nourishing rest.

 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Consider what the ladies went through. They were young, engaged to be married to handsome, rich suitors. However, when the chips were down, their suitors showed eternally that their brides' worth was less than their fortunes, and the suitors snitched to the government and gave them over. The ladies were killed. I wonder how the sisters felt in prison. They did not renounce, so we know that they were comforted by the Spirit. (Hebrews 13:5). It can't have been easy though, in the dank, dark, rat and maggot infested, slimy prison, awaiting their fate. Were the sisters together? Did they sing? Pray? I'm sure they did. Through it all, they remained faithful to the one true Groom and their eternal reward in heaven will last forever. Moths and rust have already destroyed the two rich suitors and their fortunes. (Luke 17:33; Matthew 6:19).

The bishops of Rome had it hard, too. One after another were killed. When Sextus succeeded Stephen, he knew he was going to be killed at some point, I'm sure. What a job description. "Needed: Leader of church, the people you will lead are skittish and likely will be hunted and persecuted. You will be hunted and likely killed too. Probably tortured. Accepting inquiries from 2-5 PM, in person."

And they lined up, serving Christ with full passion and love. Killed with Sextus were deacons Januarius, Vincentius, Magnus, Stephanus, Felicissimus and Agapitus. (Matthew 10:16).

And dear Lawrence, tortured mercilessly and roasted on a gridiron because he wouldn't give over the church money! His declaration of the Church's treasure being His sheep, priceless!

I think about today's men who call themselves leaders and whine about difficulties of service in ministry. (Jude 1:16). Mark Driscoll of Mars Hill Church claims to have "faced danger" a few times. He wrote a long list of perceived persecutions and troubles he said he's endured, in an essay titled "The hardest part of ministry" with the tag, 'suffering.' It's a lengthy essay about his personal suffering, listing many woes he has faced. Here are a few.
Mark Driscoll, Wiki photo

Once, a man tried to enter his house. Another time a man with a "large knife" walked up the aisle and tried to stab him. Once, a sex offender tried to talk to his family. One time, someone sent Mark a letter telling him to stop preaching. Other times, people would post directions to Mark's house on social media and encourage his critics to come to his home. He even has had to endure gossip! Once, someone even pooped on his porch!!

Yep, in his own humblebragging words, Mr Driscoll has surely been through it. Mr Driscoll wrote, "In general, going out in public has gotten tough. People feel free to interrupt family dinners out to sit at the table..." That's just terrible! It's not like his time is not his own but Jesus's and his service is to Jesus or anything.

Like the two young ladies who lost their family, their fiancé, and their lives in A.D. 257 had been through it, sealing their martyrdom with their blood, some of today's pastors are surely enduring a terrible persecution. Dealing with poop on your porch must surely equate with betrayal, imprisonment, and beheading as a terrible price for your service.

I love reading about the martyrs and writing about them so I can honor them as my forbears in faith. I love to ponder the faithfulness of our Savior who gives a faith so strong these precious martyrs endured torture and death with songs and prayers. I love to praise the Holy Spirit for empowering them with the things to say, like Lawrence bringing the sheep as the treasure, knowing it would mean his fleshly doom. Jesus is worth living for.  Jesus is worth dying for.

I also write about these martyrs so as to give us all a sense of perspective. Mr Driscoll has definitely lost his. When he preaches on suffering, do you truly think he understands biblical suffering for the name of Jesus? I don't.

Driscoll at dinner with family, source: FB
Jesus is hated in this world and that hatred will only grow worse. (John 15:18; Matthew 10:22). Hatred for Him will express itself in physical harm, injustice and death. It already is, in many nations of the world. Complaining because you can't eat supper in a restaurant without interruption from people is not 'suffering.' They are the people whom Lawrence called the most precious treasure of the church. Yet Mr Driscoll considers them a bother and just wants to eat his steak in peace. Perspective-

Being grilled on a gridiron is real suffering. Interruptions at dinner and gossip about you is not.

I think of two evangelists who rode a boat up a river deep into a jungle and trekked three more hours to reach a village of lost people in Laos. They shared about Christ and 178 people were converted and 8 were baptized. Yet the local witch doctor accused several Christians of causing the accidental deaths of three local men, and the Christians were rounded up, tried, told to renounce their faith, threatened with exile, and forced to pay restitution.

This incident was not in some long ago time. It was a news story posted on Voice of the Martyrs on November 18, 2013.

And rich pastors in the US complain that their woes are "cruel and unusual."

Perspective. Keep in your heart what real suffering for the faith and the name of Jesus is so that we can praise His holy name for being so faithful to those who truly suffer. And let us rejoice in our own circumstances that He hasn't ordained us to the same events as yet. Rejoice either way, that we suffer for Him or we live for him. And remember the martyrs.

We're not THAT bad of sinners, are we??

Who goes to heaven? "I'm a pretty good person. I'm going to heaven for sure." "I'm nice. Definitely I'm g...