Wednesday, August 31, 2016

One more reason to avoid Lysa TerKeurst of Elevation Church

Lysa TerKeurst is a ladies Bible study teacher. She has written several best-selling books and is founder of Proverbs 31 ministries. She is attractive, engaging, seems to have a good handle on the Bible, and is very popular with women. Sadly, however, there are numerous issues with the kind of Christianity Mrs TerKeurst promotes. (Her name is pronounced ter--rhymes with sir; keurst--rhymes with burst).

People have written about the concerning issues with Mrs TerKeurst before. Michelle Lesley did a great job on why we should be leaving Lysa, and Aimee Byrd negatively reviewed Mrs TerKeurst's 17th and most famous book, here.

I'd like to add another of the credible discernment concerns with Mrs TerKeurst. Seth Dunn recently spoke of Mrs TerKeurst in his podcast The Christian Commute. I was impressed with how he stated one of the concerns with Mrs TerKeurst and why she should not be followed. I'll transcribe it below. His podcast discussing Mrs TerKeurst is within the broadcast called, Driving Miss Beth to the Bus Stop. In it, Seth addresses how hard is to review women's Bible studies when the "meat" of them are on video. He uses Mrs TerKeurst as one of the examples. Here's Seth Dunn-

Ladies Bible Studies are a mess. Priscilla Shirer, Beth Moore, LifeWay Industry ... they are often shallow, trite or downright hermeutically bad. I think one of the responsibilities as a man, as a husband, as a spiritual leader of my household is to make sure that my wife is being fed in Bible study, good food that doesn’t come from wolves.
Lysa TerKeurst is a member of Elevation Church, that’s Steven Furtick’s church. No matter what Lysa TerKeurst says in her Bible studies, she’s known as the Proverbs 31 woman, I’m sure you’ve seen her little sayings. Sometimes we automatically have guilt by association. It’s not so much guilt by association, it’s guilt by subjugation. She is under the authority of her pastor. Her being at Elevation Church implicitly communicates that she agrees with what goes on there and that she agrees with the teachings of Steven Furtick.
Source Lutheran Layman

Furtick is a narcigete who reads himself into scripture, who uses preacher chords, who has spontaneous baptisms. If you’re not aware of this, at Elevation Church they have young vibrant people get up during invitation time to act like they’re going to respond to the invitation, in order to encourage other people to emotionally respond to the invitation, so they’ll get baptized. That’s how they have such high baptism numbers. They manipulate people. At Elevation Church they have a coloring book they give to the kids, with a picture of Steven Furtick that says, "We are united under the vision that God gave Pastor Steven." …So we know that Lysa TerKeurst is under this bad mojo Elevation Church. So we should already be suspicious of her. 
Why do I bring her up? My wife came home with a Lysa TerKeurst Bible study. It’s called Twelve Women of the Bible, co-authored by Lysa TerKeurst, and my wife said she was given it from one of the ladies at another local church. It’s a Southern Baptist Church, I’ve listened to the preaching there, it’s solid. If you go onto their website and look at their statement of beliefs, it’s solid. You can be lulled into a false sense of security there. You can think ‘surely this solid Southern Baptist Church, with a solid expository preacher, who has a doctorate from a fine seminary, they wouldn’t have bad ladies' teaching there, or any kind of bad bible studies.’ But they do. They’re passing out a Lysa TerKeurst book.
Associations matter. In the secular world, when we apply for a tenure-track professorial position at a College or University, we don't hide the college from which we earned our degree. We don't hide that, because it's important for the hiring committee to know under whom you sat and under whom you learned the stuff that you will in turn be spouting to the students who will be sitting under you.

If a Bible teacher or preacher has been raised in an environment of false teachings, such as Anne Graham Lott, Tullian Tchividijian, and Franklin Graham have been raised by Billy Graham and have been influenced by his ecumenical-universalist notions, then it is a cause for concern that in their formative years they absorbed such doctrines and are more apt to promote them as they grow up and engage in ministry themselves. Another negative association might not be within a family but partnering as adults with other false teachers, such as Beth Moore with the prosperity gospel Osteens, with heretic Joyce Meyer, and with New Age Catholic Roma Downey. And so, TerKeurst sitting under Furtick is cause for severe concern. How can you learn discernment from a Bible teacher who does not possess it herself?

The second lesson here is that if you're looking for a church and you visit and enjoy the pastor, that's good. You've discerned that the pastor preaches rightly, that's good. If you did your diligence and obtained a paper or looked at the website's doctrinal statement from your prospective church and it aligns with the Bible's major tenets, that's good. But don't stop there. What about the women? What about the Library? If the church has a library, go look at what books they allow to circulate among the members. If there is a Ladies' Ministry, look look at the last few studies they completed.

As a matter of fact, if the preaching is very strong and solid, it is more likely that the women's ministry will be weak, which means you need to look twice as hard. Why? Satan always attempts to creep in, and if he is blocked from the pulpit by firm truth, he will re-double his efforts to get in another way. That's what thieves and robbers do. (John 10:1, Jude 1:4). The women's ministry is often overlooked. So is the Library and so is the music. Vigilance is called for on all fronts, north, south, east, and west. No military force worth its salt fails to have a rearguard.

Conclusion:

1. Attachments and background matters.What church does a Bible teacher belong to? What does her husband teach or preach? What does her life look like away from the church? Who does she partner with? These are discerning questions to ask.

2. Church, watch the spokes of the wheel as much as the center. Satan will try to enter at any point. Men's Ministry, home groups, the church library, the music, the youth group, and the women's ministry are all exposed to satan and need guarding as much as the pulpit does.

3. Leave Lysa TerKeurst alone. Seek better Bible study teachers. Women, you don't need to study only from women teachers. As a matter or fact, I  recommend that you don't rely exclusively on female teachers. Mix it up. If there is a Sunday School group at church you feel comfortable joining, join one led by a man. If you do home studies alone or with friends or a more structured group, find one that is either co-ed or is led by a man, or if is led by a women, see if she is using a male-written study. I know that if you're in a co-ed group the Bible admonishes us to remain quiet, and you would not feel as free to comment as when you are with all women. So I understand the need and desire to study with other females. But do mix it up sometimes. :)

4. Please also read the critiques from other ladies as to why you should leave Lysa TerKeurst alone. They explain the doctrinal aspects of why Lysa is weak and  not good food for your soul.

Good online studies I recommend are women's ministries from Grace Community Church, such as Every Woman's Grace.

Michelle Lesley. She goes through books of the Bible including the Old Testament, as well as presents short series on discernment topics.

Jen Wilkin, recommended by Tim Challies.

Books and studies by Elizabeth George and Nancy Leigh DeMoss and older studies by Kay Arthur. Martha Peace and Susan Heck and Erin Benziger at Equipping Eve and Sharon Lareau at Chapter 3 Ministries.

To whom has your favorite female Bible study teacher submitted to? It matters.


*I do not know what "preacher chords" are or why Mr Dunn feels they are a negative.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

East is from the west: cardinal directions in the Bible

People don't refer to cardinal directions of north, south, east, west very much any more. If someone asks for directions and you tell them to go north three blocks, they look at you like you just lapsed into Hindi.

In the days before we were too reliant on GPS, people traveled by using the sun, moon, and stars. They spoke of cardinal directions.

In the Bible there is a lot of talk about the east and the west. (Of course, north and south is also spoken of but I'm concentrating on east-west today).

East is a major direction in the Bible and not just for the directions, but for the symbolism. Let's look at a few examples.

The Garden of Eden was planted toward the east. (Genesis 2:8).

The scriptures specify the LORD placed cherubim  at the eastern entrance of the Garden, to protect it and the tree of life.

After God drove out the man, He placed a cherubim with flaming sword to protect this eastern entrance. (Genesis 3:24).

The tabernacle faced east. (Numbers 3:38).

When God's glory comes/came to the Temple, it comes/came from the east:

Then he led me to the gate, the gate facing east. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was coming from the east. And the sound of his coming was like the sound of many waters, and the earth shone with his glory. (Ezekiel 43:1-2).

The wise men followed the star which had risen in the east.

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. (Matthew 2:2 KJV)

The Lord will return from the east. (Matthew 24:27).

For as the lightning comes from the east and shines as far as the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

The sun rises in the east and its rays shine from that direction. John 1:5 says God is Light, in Him there is no darkness at all. The west is where the sun sets, bringing darkness. The east is where the Light is.

When the sun rises, the light comes from the east. When the Son returns, His Light comes from the east.

There is much more that can be studied on even so mundane a topic as cardinal directions. The wonder of the Bible is that you can take practically any topic, any word, and explore. And do you know what you will come up with?

Jesus.

That's why the Bible is so great. All scripture points to Jesus.

Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (John 5:39 KJV)

Graphics Fairy







Monday, August 29, 2016

The crooked speech of gossip


Introduction

God hates sin.

Let me say that again.

God hates sin.

Of course, we know that, but sometimes we let our minds pass over it without thinking more deeply about the fact that God hates sin. Really hates it. Why does God hate sin?
God hates sin because it is the very antithesis of His nature. The psalmist describes God’s hatred of sin this way: "For You are not a God who takes pleasure in wickedness; no evil dwells with You" (Psalm 5:4). God hates sin because He is holy; holiness is the most exalted of all His attributes (Isaiah 6:3; Revelation 6:8). His holiness totally saturates His being. His holiness epitomizes His moral perfection and His absolute freedom from blemish of any kind (Psalm 89:35; 92:15; Romans 9:14).
The Bible presents God’s attitude toward sin with strong feelings of hostility, disgust, and utter dislike. For example, sin is described as putrefying sores (Isaiah 1:6, NKJV), a heavy burden (Psalm 38:4), defiling filth (Titus 1:15; 2 Corinthians 7:1), a binding debt (Matthew 6:12-15), darkness (1 John 1:6) and a scarlet stain (Isaiah 1:18).
From: GotQuestions, Why Does God Hate Sin? For the rest of the essay, go to link here
If I let my mind do it, I'd be telling myself what a good person I am. Hey, I'm not a serial killer. I'm not a thief. I'm not a rapist. I'm not queer. Hey, I don't do those big sins! I'm pretty good.

Not so much.

I do the "respectable sins". I sure do. According to Jerry Bridges in his book "Respectable Sins: Confronting the Sins We Tolerate", respectable sins are the ones we don't repent of, and nobody calls us to account for them. These are the sins we all collude over because we all do them, hence, the tolerating. What are some of these respectable sins? Pride, worldiness, anxiety, impatience, selfishness, gossip...

Am I proud? Yes. Am I selfish? Yes. Do I gossip? Yes. I'm a sinner! A disrespectable one!

Part 1: Sins of the Tongue

We can dispense with the obvious first. Some sins of the tongue are so immediately identifiable as inappropriate that we can and do call the speaker on those. Lewd jokes or using the F-word, especially in mixed company, at work, or worse, at church, are not tolerated.

If you ever read any parts of Proverbs at all, you run up against warnings about engaging in various types of bad speech. There are over 60 different verses addressing poor speech/right speech. There are lots of sins of the tongue besides lewdness and profanity, such as gossip, white lies, critical/harsh words, slander, insults, sarcasm/ridicule.

When Isaiah was given the vision of God on His throne, and He saw the majesty and perfection of our God, what did Isaiah say? I am a man of unclean heart? I am a man of unclean mind? No, though he was a man of unclean heart and mind (as are we). He said,

"Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!" (Isaiah 6:5)

Where did the angel cleanse Isaiah with the hot coal from the altar? On his breast to cleanse his heart? On his head to cleanse his mind? No. On his lips. Why? McLaren says
The vision kindled as with a flash Isaiah’s consciousness of sin. He expressed it in regard to his words rather than his works, partly because in one aspect speech is even more accurately an act, as it were, of character, and partly because he could not but feel the difference between the mighty music that burst from these pure and burning lips [of the seraphim] and the words that flowed from and soiled his own.
Though we are saturated through and through with sin, our heart, mind, strength and soul are all drenched with impurity and pollution. However, the mouth gives birth to the sin inside us. James said in James 3:10,

And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right!

Sins of the mouth also include hasty words, flatteries, anger. (Prov 29:5, 11, 20). Proverbs warns against hasty words, and James 1:19 advises us to be slow to speak.

Part 2: Gossip

Let's talk about gossip. It might be a 'respectable sin' on earth but God spoke against "sins of the tongue" many times in scripture. Don't be fooled. Gossip is a big sin.

Proverbs 4:24 says,

Put away from you crooked speech, and put devious talk far from you.

And Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible says of the Proverbs 4:24 verse,
Our hearts being naturally corrupt, out of them a great deal of corrupt communication is apt to come, and therefore we must conceive a great dread and detestation of all manner of evil words, cursing, swearing, lying, slandering, brawling, filthiness, and foolish talking, all which come from a froward mouth and perverse lips, that will not be governed either by reason or religion, but contradict both, and which are as unsightly and ill-favoured before God as a crooked distorted mouth drawn awry is before men. All manner of tongue sins, we must, by constant watchfulness and stedfast resolution, put from us, put far from us, abstaining from all words that have an appearance of evil and fearing to learn any such words.
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (Ephesians 4:29).

Only such as good for building up...how many times do we fail at speech that is solely for the other person's good? How many times even in church do we gossip?

A dishonest man spreads strife, and a whisperer separates close friends. (Proverbs 16:28)

Whisper campaigns can be devastating. Sometimes a Christian doesn't mean to spread tales or doesn't know the tales are untrue. It's still sin. Sadly, other times, people deliberately whisper against others, even those who sit in the same pew. Whisper campaigns are-
-a method of persuasion in which damaging rumors or innuendo are spread about the target, while the source of the rumors seeks to avoid being detected while spreading them. Wikipedia



Part 3: The Solution

In returning to the moment when Isaiah realized the magnitude of his sin, and how it's expressed via his lips, McLaren says,
The next stage in Isaiah’s experience is that sin recognised and confessed is burned away. Cleansing rather than forgiveness is here emphasised. The latter is, of course, included, but the main point is the removal of impurity. It is mediated by one of the seraphim, who is the messenger of God, which is just a symbolical way of saying that God makes penitents ‘partakers of His holiness,’ and that nothing less than a divine communication will make cleansing possible. It is effected by a live coal. Fire is purifying, and the New Testament has taught us that the true cleansing fire is that of the Holy Spirit. But that live coal was taken from the altar. The atoning sacrifice has been offered there, and our cleansing depends on the efficacy of that sacrifice being applied to us. 
We're warned to put to death our sin. (Colossians 3:5). And yet, I don't. I don't regularly kill people, but I readily kill their character, name, or reputation through gossip, thoughtlessness, or hasty words. Daily I pray for strength to speak words that only build up. Every day I fail. Given the numerous verses which warn about gossip or other poor speech it seems that this particular sin is important to God for us not to commit. I continue in my pursuit of good speech.

I can console myself that several of the heroes of the Bible were caught up in the sin of gossip and complaining and tale-bearing.

Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman. And they said, “Has the LORD indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also?” And the LORD heard it. (Numbers 12:1-2)

But it is no consolation at all. The second part of this verse says, And the LORD heard it. Gulp.

In 1 Timothy 3:3, the passage outlining qualifications of overseers, the candidates are warned not to be quarrelsome. Matthew Henry has explained the word quarrelsome,
He must be patient, and not a brawler, of a mild disposition. Christ, the great Shepherd and Bishop of souls, is so. Not apt to be angry or quarrelsome; as not a striker with his hands, so not a brawler with his tongue; for how shall men teach others to govern their tongues who do not make conscience of keeping them under good government themselves? Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible
Isn't that a good insight? A brawler with the tongue. One who can govern his or her tongue is worthy to lead.

The solution:

--Remember, the LORD hears it.

--Let us confess our sin of gossip and tale-bearing when we do stumble.

--Adhere to the verse which admonishes that we should sanctify our lips by only allowing good speech such as for building up.

--Repeat

The Conclusion

There is an obscure prophecy in Zephaniah. At the end of time at the conversion of all the nations, the Lord promises that,

"For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the LORD and serve him with one accord."

Interpreters are divided as to exactly what this will mean. Does the pure speech refer to one language, as prior to the dividing of the peoples at the Tower of Babel when God confused the languages? Some think that this verse promises a reversal of the confusion of multiple languages and a return to one language, whether that possibly will be Hebrew, or not.

Jamieson, Fausset, Brown Commentary explains,
turn to the people a pure language—that is, changing their impure language I will give to them again a pure language (literally, "lip"). The confusion of languages was of the penalty sin, probably idolatry at Babel ... The full restoration of the earth’s unity of language and of worship is yet future, and is connected with the restoration of the Jews, to be followed by the conversion of the world. Compare Isaiah 19:18; Zechariah 14:9; Romans 15:6, "with one mind and one mouth glorify God." The Gentiles’ lips have been rendered impure through being the instruments of calling on idols and dishonoring God (compare Ps 16:4; Ho 2:17). Whether Hebrew shall be the one universal language or not, the God of the Hebrews shall be the one only object of worship. Until the Holy Ghost purify the lips, we cannot rightly call upon God (Is 6:5–7).
Yet others think the verse in Zephaniah means less the literal 'one language' theory as a pure lips to call upon God once again interpretation. (As Adam and Eve did before the Fall.)
Instead it means the renewal of once-defiled speech. One’s lips represent what he says (the words spoken by his lips), which in turn reflect his inner life (cf. Isa. 6:5–7). The nations, formerly perverted by the blasphemy of serving idols, will be cleansed by God for true worship. As a result the nations, turning to reverential trust in God, will call on the name of the LORD and will evidence their dependence on Him by their united service (shoulder to shoulder). In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures
What a blessing to have only blessing come from our lips! As James said above, blessing and cursing from the same mouth? It is not right! Yet there will be a day when only blessing will emerge from our glorified lips, no inner stain to pollute pure worship and the name of the Lord as we vocally call hallelujah upon Him. And the LORD will hear it.




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Further Reading

The Sin of Talking Too Much


Saturday, August 27, 2016

"Encouragement In Grace" launch day

Forty-three years and thirteen years in the making, seven-and-a-half years of writing and three months of editing & formatting, today my eBook "Encouragement In Grace" launches at Amazon.

For 43 years I was an unsaved rebel enemy of Christ. Hating Him at every turn, I tried ignoring my festering conscience. I was perplexed by the revelation of God to the world through the world, but rejected the solution of Jesus as Creator. Finally I dabbled in almost every other religion I could find to salve my anxious and offended soul. For forty-three years, nothing worked.

After a torturous series of events lasting several years, at long last and in His perfect timing, I was saved by His grace. I did not have an aisle-walking pillow soft Just As I Am salvation. I did not have an easy experience with warm sensuous embraces by an invisible Groom. I did not hear a gentle voice calling me toward clouds. I was dragged kicking and screaming over the threshold of the Door and was given the grace to repent despite my howling objections. At last, I succumbed.

As a result, I value His grace so dearly.

Post-salvation, the Spirit prompted me to begin using my time and writing ability for His glory. I began blogging and exploring theological issues in the topics of discernment, encouragement, and prophecy, the gifts the Spirit had delivered to me. For nine years I blogged, accelerating my writing activity for the last seven years by blogging daily. I wrote on the range of topics in the way I prayed would encourage or convict readers and honor the Lord.

The internet, and blogs in particular, were a gracious addition to the technology the Lord has allowed to be invented. They have been a wonderful relief to me, a writer who has been minimally published, but despaired at the hurdles and gatekeeping of the tightly-knit publishing industry. Blogs allow authors to side-step all that. What a benefit to live in a nation that allows free expression and discussion of Christian topics on self-publishing platforms.

Years later, along came self-publishing platforms such as Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing. Hallelujah! KDP and other programs make self-publishing easier ... but never easy. Writing is not easy. Writing about God and for God is even less easy. Neither is it easy researching among the competing self-publishing platforms, proof-reading, formatting, and marketing. But it makes the process of disseminating material written by people like me more straightforward. For that, I'm grateful for the opportunity to make Jesus known through these means.

The next two books in this series will be published approximately four months apart. As with Encouragement In Grace, the next eBooks will be published through the Kindle Direct Program, Lord willing. They'll be called -

Prophecy In Grace

Discernment In Grace

If you should choose to buy the eBook, I pray that "Encouragement In Grace" convicts, enlightens, or sheds some other aspect of Jesus onto your heart and mind.



Friday, August 26, 2016

Faith of a child

I was in a non-church setting with some 7-year-olds recently. They were drawing a picture to go along with the story about pizza they had just read. When one boy finished his drawing he still had room on the page. He asked if he could draw a cross. I said sure.

Of course then the others wanted to draw a cross too. Most or all of them have been exposed to Jesus. As they drew their crosses they began to talk about Jesus. The original boy said Jesus died on the cross. Another said, isn't He living now? I chimed in and said His is living now, that He walked around on earth for 40 days and talked with His friends.

I explained the section from Acts where Jesus went up in a cloud right in front of some people and the angel came down and said, "Men of Galilee, why do you keep looking for Jesus? Go and spread the Good News of His resurrection!" and so on.

One of the girls breathlessly hung on my words and as I finished, she said with intake gasp,

"Where you there?"

I cracked up, and said "No, I'm not that old!"

"But how do you know?" she asked

"It's in the Bible."

"Ohhh!" she said.

Children are the reverse of adults. She was enthralled with the story of Jesus' ascension, she just hadn't had the wherewithal to know the specifics of the Bible. The faith of this child caused gasps of amazement and her feeling of immediacy within the story, intuitively living it in the now. It sparked questions, and though an ignorance the Bible, an interest in it.

Adults have the advantage of having the wherewithal to obtain a Bible, and to know the Bible. But  so many of them aren't moved by the story anymore. They have full access to it, don't read it, and are too cool to be breathless or show wonderment even at the most momentous events within it.

The faith of children is always so encouraging to me.

A child. c. 1938


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Reprise: The coming darkness

This was first published in October 2009 on this blog.

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

"In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:5)

"Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness." (1 Thessalonians 5:3-5)

I traveled across country in a VW van when I was 32 years old. Off the beaten trail in Arizona is a border town called Bisbee. It is a wealthy town, having been the seat of the most lucrative copper mine in American history, the Queen Mine. The mine closed after a hundred years in 1975 but almost immediately re-opened as a tour attraction. Retired miners give the tours, which start in the changing room. You must don a hard hat, a raincoat and a miner's light.

The miner's light is key.

The tour guide seats you on a train and chug-chug off you go, 1500 feet down into the earth. He talks along the way, which is lit with each tour member's hat, the guide's hat, and lamps on the walls. You see veins of metals and precious things in the walls of the very earth. You look ahead to dark tunnels descending deep. You admire the courage of the miners who extracted material from the earth day after day, living without sunlight as a trade for their pay.

It is pretty exciting and you feel exotic for having chosen this tour. Then the coup de grace comes. At the deep point, the miner tells you about collapses and bad things that happen. He isn't ghoulish about it, nor does he dwell for long on this unfortunate but practical aspect of life under the earth. But he gives a warning, and he says, "I am going to turn off the lights and I ask you to do the same on the count of three." We do and then ... total darkness.

I never forgot the moment the lights went out. We know the dark, it comes once a day. But there is always some light. Even if you work third shift and sleep in the day, there is always a sliver of light coming in, annoying you. The darkness isn't really dark, only dim, even at night, because there are stars. There is always light, somewhere.

Not in a mine. The darkness took me quite by surprise. You would not expect "darkness" to have so many qualities, but it does. First, its totality. The total absence of light was just that, total. There was no difference in opening or closing your eyes, it was the same. You could not see your hand in front of your face. Second, it was oppressive in the sense that it weighed heavily. You felt cloaked in it. It more than surrounded you, it permeated you. You did not know where your 'self' ended and the darkness began. Last, it felt alive. Yes, alive. No, it was not evil or ghostly down there and it didn't feel supernatural. The darkness simply felt more than part of the air, it felt like a thing unto its own.

All that in ten seconds.

The miner did not leave the lights off for long. It is dangerous and it is scary to be in a mine without light, and he just wanted to give us a momentary sense of what it was like for trapped miners.

When John says that "the darkness comprehended it not" he means that Satan is total darkness. So is sin. Satan's dark retreats from God's light. Paltry as the lamps were against the imminent absence of light, the dark retreated from it. As long as the Church exists on earth in her present form, the light will shine because it shines through men directly from the Holy Throne of God, and darkness will retreat.

There will come a time when the darkness will have sway: after the Rapture. God's light will still be present on earth, of course, in the form of the Holy Spirit, though He will not indwell. It will be present in the form of the 144,000 witnesses. But those lights will be like the lights on the miner's lamps in the deep earth, lit, but the darkness encroaching, waiting to pounce.

Then the end will come. Those who have refused the light will be forever plunged into that palpable, total, and horrifying darkness. There will be no light!! Do you understand what that means? The light bulb will be withdrawn for all eternity. Eternity is long to live without the light so many now take for granted.

In the cartoon, the girl complains that it is dark but the light is there, right next to her. She is blind but could see. I pray that you become a child of the light, not of darkness. You, right now, are benefiting from the Light of God on the earth even if you have not chosen to take him inside you through asking forgiveness of your dark sins. Yet, on that Day, comprehension will come too late. And you will have an eternity to comprehend the reasons why you did not reach out for what you now realize could have sustained you: His Light.


Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The Drumbeat Warning of Divine Judgment on the USA

I've been warning of coming judgment for a while. When believers look out over soft pastures, busy and productive streets, viable farms, and thriving factories, they have a hard time seeing a nation under judgment. They think everything is OK if brimstone and 100 lb hailstones aren't falling. But it's not all right. We are crumbling from the inside and rot has set in, permanently.

There are different kinds of judgments. Judgment can be eschatological and very visible, as the coming prophecies and past histories show us. Judgment can be invisible, secret, and deadly, as God said in Hosea 5:12, I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah. Judgment can be an abandonment, as when God simply releases a nation to itself to pursue its sin. (Romans 1:24).

The discerners have been warning, and warning, and warning. We warned judgment would come, we warned it was about to come, and we warn that it is here.

Monergism Books said last week,
It does not take an inspired prophet of God to know that the USA is now under Divine judgment. How so? Well, just look around. - fallen humans have always sinned and there was a time when people understood, even if they sinned, that they had done wrong and felt guilty for it. But no longer - that is being cast off... it is obvious now that not only do we not feel guilt about evil but openly celebrate it, calling good evil, and evil good ... and even give hearty approval of others who do evil (see Rom 1:18 +). According to this passage of Romans, the worst judgement of God takes place (at least in this life) when God gives people over to their sinful "free will" and when onlookers give approval to the evil of others. 
There is little doubt we are already there. But as we consider this it is critical to remember that the problem is not just OUT THERE. Repentance must begin with us, the church. We must repent of the sin and false teaching that permeates our own thinking. We must pray and, by the grace of God, align our thoughts with God and get our own house in order before we remotely expect to have any influence on the world.
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My friend Pastor Phil Andrukaitis of South Portland First Baptist Church said last week,

Good evening my family and friends,
Some of you may recall that I began preaching through the Epistle of 1st Peter on January 10 of this year. Peter's basic theme throughout his letter is, The Christian's Proper Response to Suffering. And the reason why Christians can respond to suffering in a godly manner is this: Christ is our steadfast hope in the midst of painful times. 
As I preached from 1st Peter 4:12-19 this morning, I believe with all my heart that today's sermon was the most important sermon I have ever preached in my 27-years of ministry. Why? I believe our nation is under divine judgment and that persecution of the church is closer than we think 
PRAYER: Oh Heavenly Father, my heart aches for the body of Christ as its wounds have weakened her in many different ways. Local churches and saints lay wounded on the battlefield with so few compassionate saints to help them. Lord, only You can heal and restore Your church. Please bring healing to every wounded saint. Please reconcile Your sons and daughters to one another. Please encourage the members within struggling local churches not to lose heart. Please conform each saint with Your Word and Spirit before all hell breaks out against the body of Christ. After all, there are multitudes of  unbelievers within our nation who will wake up one morning and realize that the "perilous times" are upon them. Father, help us to be strong in the Lord and ready to give them Jesus and His gospel. Christ is their only hope and the church is the means by which hope comes. Amen.
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Pastor-Teacher John MacArthur said recently, Calling the Church to repent
Christ spoke to His church. He spoke to seven churches, specific churches in specific cities in Asia Minor, which is modern Turkey. They were actual churches with actual conditions that He addressed. The uniqueness of His letters to these churches is that they all include an assessment that leads either to a commendation or a threat. I don’t know that we really think much about the Lord threatening the church. We do think a lot about the Lord threatening the world with judgment, threatening unbelievers with judgment. But here in the book of Revelation we have the Lord of the church threatening His church with severe judgment.
So that led me to ask the question, which I asked back at the conference, "Have you ever heard of a church that repented – ever - a church that repented?" Not individuals, but collectively a church that came together and repented. Have you ever been part of a church that repented, that looked at itself and recognized its collective and congregational transgressions, and openly, genuinely, with sadness and brokenness for its sins against its head, the Lord Jesus Christ, came together in a full act of repentance?
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Essays about America under judgment through the years that I've written reflect my concern-

The End Time:

2010: Has America's point of no return been reached?
God has a limit, you know. God is love but He is no doormat. He doesn't overlook sin, patting you on the head, saying, Aww, that's all right. He does not accept rebellion lightly. He will not accept war against Him under any circumstance.
2011: God gave them over...is America under judgment?
I think anyone with eyes can see that America is in a terrible moral decline, and not only is approving of it, accepting of homosexuality, but laughing at it with a reprobate mind. As MacArthur showed us in the verses from Romans, God gave us over. And we know what comes next: judgment.
2012: Is America Under Judgment?
One question Christians are asking frequently these days is whether America is under a judgment. We know we are at the end of the end of days. We know that God's wrath will pour down upon the rebellious world after the rapture (Rev 6:16). But with all that is going on, are we under a judgment of God now, before the rapture? The answer is yes.
2016: Is America Being Judged?
"America seems ripe for judgment"... The discerners of the church body have been saying 'judgment in America' for a while. I know I have since 2007-2008. In 2010 I'd written that America seemed to have passed the "point of no return. Before the Economic Crash of 2008, all had been going along like it had been in this country. America was strong and mighty and seemingly invincible. Warning that judgment was coming soon was met with strange looks and shaking of heads. No brimstone was falling, after all. Just because we don't see brimstone falling from the sky does not mean we as a nation are not experiencing judgment.
Now that we are cluing in that our section of the world, USA, is under judgment, what can we do? What should we do? First, please refer back to Pastor Andrukaitis' prayer. We pray for the things he wisely prayed himself. For reconciliation among the brethren in local churches. For joy instead of depression and hopelessness. For conforming of each saint to His Word and Spirit before all hell breaks out against the body of Christ.

Strength in churches begins with repentance, John MacArthur taught Revelation 2 and 3 shows us. And church repentance begins with individual repentance. We are strong when we are weak, confessing our sins to Jesus and asking forgiveness. We are strong when we are meek, humbly seeking Him for wisdom...patience...gentleness...self-control.

We should always be in the Bible, gaining wisdom and destroying fortresses by the power of His Word. The more that judgment grows out of the rot, the more the world needs the Light. A nation under judgment is an opportunity

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. ... So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:1,16-18).

Do not lose heart: it is easy not to lose heart when your church is booming ... when everyone loves the pastor, when all ministries seem to be going well. It's hard not to lose heart when things are not going well. It's for when you have been maligned for speaking up about a false teacher. It's for when you have been slandered for urging someone to pursue holiness. It's for when your church is shrinking even though your pastor preaches faithfully and rightly. It's for when more people every week leave the pews for the glittering church down the road with the new playground and huge rock praise band. It's for when congregants fight and fuss and complain and rebel.

Friends, it is our duty to know what we believe and why. It is our duty to stay in the word so as to continually drink of the refreshing, Living Water which sustains us. It is our duty to pray continually in repentance of our sins to our Intercessor, and to petition for the burdens of others.

The Bible tells us to rejoice in all circumstances. (Philippians 4:4). I rejoice that America is under judgment, and I'll tell you why. I'm not happy about America collapsing, nor about the sin that permeates its bones and borders. But rejoicing is not happiness. These two words are not synonyms here.

I'm rejoicing because God is on His throne. I'm rejoicing because He promised to do such things ahead of time and when they come to pass, we can see His promises are true. I'm rejoicing because He still hates sin. He still is in control. He still is working in the world. His Word is true. All these things are worthy of rejoicing. Job knew that no matter the circumstances that our finite eyes can see and our finite brains can process,

And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. (Job 1:21 )

This nation that is being judged is transient. It rises, it falls. Before 1776 there was no USA. After a while there may not be a USA again. All nations are transient. All people are transient. All circumstances are transient. The Church is permanent, because Jesus is eternal. Hell is permanent, too, and the people within it. Job mourned his losses but He rejoiced in the Lord. Job died nearly 3000-4000 years ago, and do you know what? Do you think Job is mourning the loss of his nation? He is certainly rejoicing these past thousands of years in a better country with His King. America is a milkweed seed, here a while, blooming, then wafting away in the wind, gone. Meanwhile we look toward the permanence of New Jerusalem.

Therefore do not lose heart, and pray, witness, study, and live for Christ  while looking for our glorious permanent home.



Tuesday, August 23, 2016

No, Target didn't stop selling Bibles. Why Christians should stop sharing hoaxes

4 Reasons Christians Need to Quit Sharing Hoaxes
"I’ve seen a trend that’s both interesting and troubling: If I find a hoax in my news feed, chances are it will have been shared by an evangelical Christian. I know that sounds like a terrible thing to say, but it’s true. In fact, it’s so typical and intriguing, that I’ve been keeping track of the phenomenon for quite a while." ... 
The Christian message to the world isn’t, “Hey, look how bad things are!” It’s “take heart, He has overcome the world!” We don’t have to share every sensational and scary story—especially when their truth is suspect.
The author above gives 4 good reasons to stop sharing those false stories, especially when checking them out to determine veracity takes only one second. One reason he didn't mention but Sunny Shell did, is that we should promote holiness. Holiness is marginalized to a great degree these days, yet is the primary function of Christians in the world. Our sanctification is the very pursuit of holiness, so that we can be more like Jesus every day.

Why should we be holy? Sunny Shell explains in this essay, The Way of Holiness
"Just as the honor of being assigned as an ambassador of an earthly country should not be taken lightly, so we also, who are in Christ, should not take our high calling as children of the Most High God lightly. An earthly ambassador is chosen to live in a foreign land to represent their country, while maintaining every attribute and character of their homeland. An ambassador does not lose or forget who he/she is merely because they live in another country for a time, rather, they honorably and proudly represent their country and their people."
People have been tricked since the beginning. Hoaxes, forgeries, and spoofs are part of life. Think early last century circuses. Think: archeology. Archeology hoaxes have been fooling people for a long time. The Petrified Man in 1862 and the Cardiff Man in 1869 were especially blush-inducing hoaxes many people fell for. There's the Piltdown Man, (1912) War of the Worlds, (1938), and Paul McCartney is Dead hoax, (1969). Hoaxes have tricked the best of us. In some ways, the Facebook Hoaxes are a bit of a let-down in their clumsy way they try to fool us, compared to the ingenious hoaxes of the past. The Turk Chess Game fooled people for over 100 years and the Surgeon's Photo of the Loch Ness Monster fooled people for 60. At least those lies hoaxes had some elegance to them. Facebook hoaxes are just inelegant and easily proven lies.

We're all gullible. Christians, however, have the Holy Spirit is us, and so should be wiser and more careful when sharing information. Gossip is a sin, it's impugning someone's reputation. It's the same with hoaxes. They turn out to be untrue but the Company, Organization, or person they focus on has been maligned by your act of hastily sharing unvetted information.

Christians, please do your diligence. If you're not sure if something is a hoax and can't verify it one way or another, please do not press Enter.

Group portrait of the Piltdown skull being examined.
Back row (from left): F. O. Barlow, 
G. Elliot SmithCharles Dawson,Arthur Smith Woodward. Front row: A S Underwood, Arthur KeithW. P. Pycraft,
and 
Ray Lankester. Note the portrait ofCharles Darwin on the wall.
Painting by John Cooke, 1915. Wikipedia


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Further Reading

Best Historical Hoaxes

15 Internet Hoaxes that Fooled All of Us

Why Hoaxes fool us, according to science





Monday, August 22, 2016

Prata Potpourri: The Oculus, Manhood, Closing the Bank of Mom & Dad, free class, more!

Though school has started and it's tiring herding kittens teaching kindergarteners all day, I am getting a steady infusion of sweetness, cuteness, knock knock jokes, and random offbeat kid comments to keep me in laughter all day long.

Gerry Brooks is a Principal of an elementary school in Lexington KY and he is hilarious. He is famous for putting up short clips remarking on the ins and outs of school life. He is always funny, but this short video had me literally doubled over and tears coming out of my eyes. Even if you have no clue what Kindergarten Lunch Duty entails, you will laugh along with the rest of us who agree, the first week of duty with the little ones presents certain, ahem, challenges.



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There seems to be a cottage industry these days promoting a how-to series of lessons on how to hear God's voice. How to be SURE you're hearing God's voice. How to ignite/prompt/activate God's voice. And so on. A google search on "how to hear God's voice" yields the following-


It can be confusing to try and learn how to hear God's voice. This is because you can't. Therefore the 'teachings' on it contradict each other. Of course, these 'methods' also contradict the Bible. Here are two essays explaining the issues with trying to hear God's voice.

Spirit of Error asks, What could be wrong with learning to "hear God's voice?"

Tim Challies asks How Does God Speak to Me Today?

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The economic crash of 2007-08 crushed the dreams of many parents, who in live, hope, and work for their children to exceed their own achievements. That and a host of other reasons, has birthed a generation that unfortunately has come to depend on mom and dad to survive. Here is some advice on how to close that bank, compassionately.

How to Close the Bank of Mom and Dad
The phone rings and you cringe. You feel guilty, but you almost don’t want to answer the call from your own kid. He or she probably isn’t calling just to say hello. Your adult child needs money again. Does your child even realize how much these constant requests upset you emotionally and financially?

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I'm a sucker for anything about the sovereignty of God...

Summary and Outline of J. I. Packer’s “Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God”
Packer’s popular paperback is a succinct, non-technical explanation of how God’s sovereignty and human responsibility affect evangelism. It is not a blueprint for modern evangelistic action (7). The aim is to dispel the suspicion that belief in the absolute sovereignty of God hinders evangelism and to show that it actually strengthens evangelism (8, 10). The book divides logically into four chapters. (See the outline of the book below.)
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Study the Gospel of John with Dallas Theological Seminary – for free.

It's a ten week non-credit course, but you do earn a certificate at the end. I was put off by the introductory video touting 'famous' "theologians" who have graduated from the Institution, including David Jeremiah, Tony Evans, Priscilla Shirer and Jennie Allen. The DTS can't help what students do or say after they graduate, but they can't help touting them when they are obviously in error. The Seminary should have more discernment than that. I took the first unit, it was solid. But my antennae are up.

If you're hankerin' for some learnin', there's always the free lectures on Youtube from The Master's Seminary. I know I'm biased but my own pastor teaches incredibly insightful and theologically packed sermons. He is like Spurgeon on steroids. Every week. We are going through Genesis chapter by chapter, and the sermons are on podcast. Pastor Mark just finished a Men's Conference today with three lectures on Jesus in the Old Testament, and they are all fantastic too. Find them here-

(1) Jesus In The Old Testament: Genesis
Here we are introduced to the idea that Jesus read the Old Testament and saw it as primarily being about Himself (John 5:39-40). What is it like to read the Old Testament with Jesus at the center? Here we get a sense of the whole story of the Bible starting with Genesis.

(2) Jesus In The Old Testament: Exodus & Leviticus
Here we discover how Jesus fulfills the roles of Moses, the Passover Lamb, Israel and the priesthood. Even Leviticus is about Jesus!

(3) Jesus In The Old Testament: The Prophets to Revelation
Here we look at the nation of Israel, Kings David and Solomon, along with the failures of the Old Testament people of God. The Old Testament ends as a cliff hanger. How does the story of Israel reach its climax in the person of Jesus? How does the whole Bible hold together?
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To pastor's wives... you have special combat duty. It's often silent, unforgiving, constant, demanding, and here as Mrs Spurgeon explains, hugely important.

Three pieces of advice from Charles Spurgeon's Mother-in-Law
Charles Spurgeon abandoned his fiancĂ©e on a Sunday afternoon. After lunch, a carriage took the betrothed couple from Susannah’s house in St. Ann’s Terrace to Kennington where Charles would preach. Susannah recounted the event... Susannah left the service and fumed all the way home. Her mother gently "tried to soothe [her] ruffled spirit" and offered some motherly advice about marriage:
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I love travel and all places odd and out of the way. Atlas Obscura is a website that offers lots of odd, quirky, and fun articles about our blue earth. Here are a few of their recent stories

Found: A 300-Year Old Shoe Meant To Ward Off Evil Spirits
It was a men's size 6, and they put it right back where they found it.

Found: Football-Sized Goldfish in an Australian River
Please stop putting pets in the river.

Nobuo Fujita's Sword
As a show of peace, a Japanese naval pilot gifted his 400-year-old Samurai sword to the Oregon town he bombed. 

The New York Public Library is Moving 1.5 Million Books to an Underground Lair
The books will live highly organized lives underneath Bryant Park.

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Don't forget the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood! An oldie but a goodie. Here are a couple of articles to get you started-

Fatherhood and the worlds it creates

The New Household in Christ: How Wives and Husbands are to “Put on the New Self” in Colossians 3:18-19

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And for fun, the always amusing Bad Real Estate Photos

For interest, Inside the Beautiful New Oculus at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub
It is beautiful. But it reminds me of the Contemporary Resort at Disney's EPCOT. Everything old is new again!





Saturday, August 20, 2016

What the devil cannot do

Here is Martyn Lloyd Jones with a few thoughts on something the devil cannot do.

Putting God first…herein lies the stifling of the passions that defeat us. Herein lies the quietness that calms our tumults. Herein lies the peace of knowing that our sins are forgiven and forgotten by God and so they can be forgotten by us. 
When men seek things before they seek God, they throw themselves into what has come to be known as the ‘rat race’. An earlier phrase described it as ‘the pace that kills’. But it was never the pace that killed, it was the fear of tomorrow that made the pace necessary.
The devil has never praised God. He can make people happy. But whisky can make people happy. The fact that a thing can make you happy doesn’t prove it’s right. There are drugs that can make you happy. You see, the devil can come, and he can counterfeit all these things. If a man says “I am happy”, it doesn’t prove he is a Christian. It can be counterfeited. There is only one thing I know of that the devil cannot counterfeit: 
praising God. The devil never does that. Never. The devil has made anybody praise God.
He can counterfeit a belief in God. But that’s a very different thing. The Apostle James tells us in his epistle, ‘the devils also believe, and tremble.’ The devil has never praised God. He can persuade people that they believe in God. If it suits his purpose he can transform himself into an angel of light, and encourage people to believe in God and to be religious. He is doing that to large numbers today. But there’s one thing he’s never done and he can’t do it, and that is to make people praise God. 
He can give you a counterfeit intellectual interest. He can give you a counterfeit interest in God’s people. A counterfeit interest in communion service. A counterfeit interest in prayer, a counterfeit joy and gladness. He has never made anybody praise God. Why? Because he hates God. 
But these people [in Acts 2] were praising God. That is why I say in many senses it is the ultimate test of the profession of the Christian faith - praising God! My friends, are you praising God? I’m not asking if you believe in Him, or if you try to worship Him. I’m not asking if you make requests of Him. I’m asking one thing only. Do you praise God?

It occurred to me that this would apply to a false teacher. Someone who teaches about God but is not saved, (2 Timothy 3:5) and who is the son of the devil will never praise God. Sons of the devil, those who are energized by satan and are in bondage to satan, cannot praise God because the devil cannot praise God. His minions can't either. Use it as a test, as MLJ noted. Not that a false teacher can't say the words, though oftentimes they can't, they choke on them. They might say off handedly, "Praise God that it rained!" but a life lived in praise to Him, sincere, thorough,  zealous praise, will never pass their lips. Look for it...or in this case, the absence of it.

MLJ Sermon: Praising God, Acts 2:46-47


Friday, August 19, 2016

Why fearing the Lord is a good thing; cultivate it

How would you react if you were suddenly face-to-face with God?
That is the question John MacArthur asked in his blog series adapted from his book Worship: The Ultimate Priority. If one relied solely on the anecdotes of the many false teachers who claim to have personally been in in His presence, one would think that coming face-to-face with God was either as normal an occurrence as running into your neighbor at the grocery store, or as casual as a backyard BBQ.

Whatever happened to the fear of God? is the title of MacArthur's blog essay and it is a great question. In the Bible, even those men who were in right standing with God were terrified, cowed, and humbled at meeting Him in person. For example, MacArthur wrote,
in Genesis 18 Abraham confessed in the presence of God that he was dust and ashes. Similarly, Job said after his pilgrimage, "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). Ezra 9 records the high priest’s profound sense of shame as he came before the Lord to worship. Habakkuk had a vision of God’s power and majesty, and his knees began to knock: "I hear, and my body trembles; my lips quiver at the sound; rottenness enters into my bones; my legs tremble beneath me" (Habakkuk 3:16 ESV).
Isaiah said he was "undone", or "I am ruined". The Hebrew word in that verse is damah and it means to cease, cause to cease, cut off, destroy. The flesh of sinful man, even a justified man declared righteous, is immediately reduced to a metaphorical pile of ashes when contrasted in person to the august glory of the Ancient of Days. The Fear of God article gives many more examples of this contrast between man and God, and expands the verses to illustrate the spiritual importance of the fear of God.

Yet in our day, according to so many false teachers who claim direct revelation, we have the sweet and sensitive voice coming out of the celestial realms to envelop women with a warm, misty romance. Moore says He calls her "honey" and "babe", and they go on a play date together to the zoo. They "have a blast". Joanna Gaines said she talked with Jesus in a garden, and she recalls, "I remember hearing God say, 'Joanna, there’s going to come a time when I’m going to say for you to go, and I’m going to need for you to step out and go.'" Jesus has needs? In the Bible He commanded. Gaines' 21st century language is a giveaway the entity she walked and talked in a garden with was not the Jesus of the Bible. According to Kim Walker-Smith, she was personally visited by a Jesus that flailed His arms and ran yelling Woo-hoo! because He is so happy to be in HER presence. Smith said she fell into His lap, and she was so self-absorbed her two questions she asked the LORD OF THE UNIVERSE that were about herself.

Whatever happened to the fear of God? Let MacArthur's question echo in your ears, mind, and heart.

The book by Jerry Bridges called The Joy of Fearing God is a good one for people to read today. The book's synopsis says,
For most of us, fear is something we try to avoid. And fearing God hardly sounds like an occasion for joy. But Jerry Bridges shows how the fear of the Lord is actually the key that opens the door to a life of true knowledge, wisdom, blessing, and joy.
None of the visions of God presented in His own Word present a relaxed disciple sipping lattes at the zoo together or El Elyon running around yelling woo-hoo. Those visions and claims are irreverent in the extreme. The true visions in His word show the majesty, holiness, and power of a God who chooses to love us despite our depraved state. Bridges says,
There are more than 150 references to the fear of God in the Bible. While the majority of these occur in the Old Testament, there are a sufficient number in the New Testament to convince us that fearing God is indeed an attitude of heart we should cultivate today." ― Jerry Bridges, The Joy of Fearing God
That worshipful cultivation is urged in MacArthur's essay as well. He ended his essay by saying,
Peter "fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!'" (Luke 5:8). All he could see was his own sinfulness when confronted with the power and presence of our holy God. We need to cultivate that same attitude, remembering that we not only live our lives before the eyes of a holy God, but that His Holy Spirit dwells within us. Being ever mindful of God’s presence is vital if we’re going to live worshipful lives that glorify Him.
The life of the true disciple who worships in reverent fear is one that is drenched with joy. The irreverent false teachers' attitudes of being relaxed and unconcerned in His 'presence' is a dead giveaway that the personage they are 'meeting' is not our Holy God. MacArthur tells the story of a man who told him that Jesus comes into the bathroom while he is shaving and puts His arm around him, which helps the man's bursitis.
I thought, "Do you keep shaving? If you can keep shaving, then it isn't Jesus. If holy God came into the bathroom while you were shaving, you would fall to the floor so hard that you would kill yourself!" It is an awesome thing to confront an infinitely holy God! 
It is an awesome thing to be confronted by an infinitely holy God, even though we believers are His children! Live worshipful lives that glorify Him, and it begins with a reverential fear of who He is.





Thursday, August 18, 2016

Announcing my new eBook: Encouragement In Grace


I am happy to announce that I have written an eBook which is now for sale at Amazon! It's titled "Encouragement In Grace: Devotions & Inspirations for Christian Women" by Elizabeth Prata. The book is the first in a series of three I've written. The second two, Prophecy In Grace and Discernment In Grace will be published later.

Jesus saved me, in grace. His grace is sufficient, His grace sustains me, and it's His grace that is so amazing. So I named the series In Grace as a tribute to Him who is grace personified.

I pray the essays in the eBook shine His glory back onto Him.

Thanks!

Cover photo by EPrata, cover design by Liliana McAndrew


Children are a reward not just for parents

Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. (Psalm 127:3)

Children are a blessing and the verse above refers to children born to biological parents.

Many verses speak about children. The Bible makes it equally clear that all children (especially orphans) are to be regarded as vulnerable and to treat them kindly. Jesus holds them in high regard. They are to be trained up in the way they should go. They should not be provoked. They should be unhindered in their approach to God and His laws. They are to be protected else a millstone hung around the neck of one who causes them to stumble. They are a crown to the aged and streets full of happy children playing are a sign of God's favor. They are an answer to prayer. Orphans ("the fatherless") are objects of care and concern.

With all the attention given children, we know that the Lord cares for them. In thinking of kids, we often restrict ourselves to thinking of the family. I propose that anyone who works with children has a God-given privilege to adhere to the Bible's verses regarding them, as well. The children are a heritage for the parents, but also for the teacher, the foster mother, the nanny, the social worker, the nursery school administrator, the playground monitor. Each and every child is a gift from the Lord, to each person the Lord has assigned to watch over them.

Then Esau looked up and saw the women and children. "Who are these with you?" he asked. Jacob answered, "They are the children God has graciously given your servant." (Genesis 33:5).


Children are a gracious gift, If you work with children in any way, you are blessed.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The pro-consul believed in the doctrine, not the miracle

Believe in the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in the miracles.

Miracles happen every day. God is always at work, and even now, Jesus is working. One miracle is that God revives dead hearts and makes new creations out of unbelievers. Another is the miracle of the very earth upon which we stand. (Romans 1:20, Jeremiah 51:15, Job 12:7). Healings by God also occur, as families affected by them can attest.

EPrata photo
In the New Testament days immediately after Jesus' resurrection and ascension, the Apostles were given power to perform miracles. One of these was the miracle that occurred by Paul in front of the pro-consul Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, so says Acts 13:7. Paul confronted a false prophet, a magician called bar-Jesus, and pronounced him false and then the power of God descended and caused the false prophet to go blind on the spot. The pro-consul saw this happen.

The pro-consul was astounded. Acts 13:12 says,

Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord. [underline mine]

Did the pro-consul believe in the miracle? NO. He believed the teaching of Jesus Christ. He understood the miracle was authentic, but it was the teaching in which he was moved.

The MacArthur Commentary says,
The missionaries' victory was not only negative, as seen by the defeat of bar-Jesus, but also positive. Satan's emissary had been defeated and silenced, and now Paul and Barnabas were about to win the battle for Sergius Paulus' soul: ... as so often is related in Acts, God used a miracle to confirm the authenticity of His messengers, and the truth of His word. Significantly, it was the teaching of the Lord, not the miracle he had just witnessed, that prompted the proconsul to believe. He was amazed at the teaching of the Lord, not at the miracle.
Remember, doctrine matters.


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Further Reading

Why Doctrine Matters by Albert Mohler
Doctrine is, quite literally, the teaching of the church–what the church understands to be the substance of its faith. It is no substitute for personal experience
Why Doctrine Matters, by Ligonier
Doctrine is Biblical. Our English word doctrine is derived from a Latin word, doctrina, which means, "that which is taught." In Christian usage, it refers to Christian teaching about Scripture, God, man, Christ, salvation, church, and the end of all things.
Doctrine Matters: Eternal Life Depends on It, by Kevon DeYoung
If you are interested in abiding with Jesus and abiding with the Father, you will care about the truth abiding in you. We will not know God unless we know the truth. Which is another way of saying: You do not get to heaven without theology. The promise of 1 John is that if the truth abides in you, you abide in God and you will receive what is promised to you: namely, eternal life.
A Warning to Miracle-mongers
I abhor miracle-mongers. These are the people who clamor to see or experience a miracle but do not know the first thing about the other attributes of God. These are the people who come to church only in hopes to see a sign. The pray for glory dust to fall down so they can say Jesus showed up. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Beware using Bible Gateway

I have several go-to Bible sites on my laptop. One is BibleHub, which contains the entire Bible, a lexicon, commentaries, maps, Strong's, parallel views of verses, and much more.

I also have in my bookmarks BibleGateway, (BG) which has the Bible of course, devotionals, a helpful list of all the named and unnamed men and women in the Bible with short bios, and much more.

BibleGateway is a favorite of many, and it's a favorite of mine, as well, which is why it's hard to write this. I've noticed both on BibleGateway's Twitter stream and on their website that they are promoting some decidedly UN-Bible-like people.

I grabbed screen shots on BG's Twitter stream and on the BG website to show you what I mean. I did not have to search hard. I did not have to search long. These are not cherry picked screen grabs gathered over years. They are selected grabs gained over the last few weeks. I actually had to delete a few I'd grabbed because the blog essay was getting too long.

1. Bible Gateway promotes Catholic dogma, apps, and Bibles. Christianity is Christianity, Catholicism is Catholicism, and they are at odds with each other. Catholicism is not a Christian faith. If one includes Catholic material on a Christian site one may as well include Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. FMI on why Catholicism is not Christianity, go here.






2. Bible Gateway promotes Charismatic author Sarah Young of Jesus Calling and other mystical devotionals in her ongoing cottage industry of falsity. Young's books undermine the sufficiency of scripture. Young is a huge problem especially for younger undiscerning women who are at risk, and BG is not helping by legitimizing her false works. The Jesus Calling and other Young devotionals were in heavy rotation throughout July/early August. FMI on Sarah Young's serious doctrinal errors, go here.




3. Bible Gateway promotes Bill Hybels. The shot below is of the BG's twitter stream. #GLS16 refers to a Hybel-led conference called Global Leadership Summit of a gathering of false teachers at Hybels' Willow Creek campus plus global leaders, to promote business practices in church leaders. The line-up includes false teachers Hybels and TD Jakes, and lifestyle guru John C. Maxwell, among other secular speakers. FMI on why Hybels' brand of business-driven church growth movement is false, go here.


4. Bible Gateway promotes material by false pastrix Christine Caine, who is also founder of the feminist Propel Women movement. FMI on why Caine is false, go here.





5. Bible Gateway encourages using material by Roman Catholic-dabbler and mystic Dallas Willard, teacher of contemplative prayer, spiritual formation, universalism, and other false disciplines. FMI on why Willard is false, go here.





This one below is only one of many dozens of tweets sent out by BG and retweeted by followers, touting the new Bible search function BG has developed. It seems you can now search the Bible at BibleGateway using...emojis. Just because the culture has made the Emoji Bible a "success" does not mean we need to cave to the culture and create search functions with them. The Bible is the WORD of God, not the rebus pictures of God. Here is a screen shot of the introduction of the BG emoji search function:


Remember when you were in kindergarten, the easy books you were first learning to read? They inserted pictures for some of the words to make it easier to read and have the child feel successful.


The juvenilization of Christianity continues, helped by Bible Gateway.

Promoting Caine, Hybels, Willard, Young, and other false teachers such as CS Lewis, Beth Moore, Proverbs 31 ministries, and Rick Warren, as well as unbiblical conferences such as "Unwrap the Bible" with Roma Downey, displays a tremendous lack of discernment. Worse, it puts unhealthy and undoctrinal doctrines in front of millions of people.

As for myself, sure, I know who to look up and who to avoid, but when I search for a verse or an address, I don't want to be confronted every time by false teachers and deal with the site's excited urgencies to try this or that false teacher's material. It's depressing. It's discouraging. I want Bible, not rebus pictures and a lengthy and constant list of false teachers I have to avert my eyes from on the screen.

My essay today is to just make you aware, that once again, a previously solid ministry has allowed a flood of falsity through its gates, and to beware. As always, be wise and make your own decisions.


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