Friday, September 29, 2017

Friday Encouragement Interlude

I greet you all with a kiss of peace, and with good news that He loves us and is waiting to call us, His bride, home to Him soon. He is preparing the place in which we will dwell for all eternity, untainted by sin at last. We will gaze at one another through the spotless lens of the Holy One who redeemed us to Himself, and we will love Him and each other perfectly. His light will shine upon us undimmed by clouds, pure as the blazing Light that shines supreme, transcendent, unmatched, our eyes shining as the reflection of His matchless glory. Angels will sing praises to Him and we will join in, love glowing out among all creation in glory, as only He can be! Why He chooses to share Himself with us, I will never know, but that knowledge and fact only makes me love Him all the more. He saved a wretch like me, and changed me from corrupt creature to daughter of God!

I sincerely hope you all are well. If you are not, then I hope that good news of what awaits us revives you, that we have the perfect assurance of the incomparable riches of His grace. O, is grace is sufficient for me, and if I feel this overwhelmed with it now, what will it be like when I get there??!! Think on that brethren. Beloved, these things are true, these things are noble, these things are just, these things are pure, these things are lovely, these things are of good report, there is virtue and they is praiseworthy—meditate on these things. (Phil 4:8-9 paraphrased).


Thursday, September 28, 2017

picture mixture

I've just got two pics tonight. It's been a very long day! :)

Internet find:



Kovels: You never know where a masterpiece might be discovered! A 400-year-old "lost" portrait of the Duke of Buckingham by Peter Paul Rubens was identified by an expert from a British TV series called "Britain’s Lost Masterpieces." It was in the Glasgow Museum collection on public display at the Pollok House, one of the city’s stately homes. The picture had been restored several times, and the over-painting and layers of old dirt led earlier experts to think it was a copy by another artist.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

The exclusivity of Jesus

One of the most hated, if not THE most hated doctrine of Christianity, is the exclusivity of Jesus. This doctrine is the one that states Jesus is the only way to heaven. You cannot get to heaven by your own works, family relations, church attendance, other god, other religion, or any other method except to repent of your sins and believe in the resurrected Jesus by faith alone through grace alone.

I receive some arched eyebrows, heated responses, and hate mail for saying so, some from my own family. "Away with dogma!" my aunt grandly proclaimed, right before she blocked me. Same with other family members. But these responses are no worse than anybody else's experiences and a great deal less hurtful than what others have endured, I'm sure.

But whether the negative response about the exclusivity of Jesus is from a stranger, friend, or family member, the fact is the same, Jesus is the only way to heaven. He is the only God. He is the only source of life. He is the only truth. It is about Him and no other.

Would God the Father have sent His Son to die on a cross, the most horrific and excruciatingly humiliating method of torture and execution ever devised at that time, if there was any other way?

Did God care for Jesus so little that He sent His Son to live a perfect life, and die as the blood sacrifice required, and endure all the wrath for those sins, just so He could allow us to choose from other methods of gaining entrance to heaven just because we felt like it? Is this Let's Make A Deal, the old game show with contestants choosing from Door Number one, Door Number Two, or Door Number Three?

Source: letsmakeadeal.com


Does the Bible lie when it states over and over that there is only one way?

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12).

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. (John 10:9).

I know that people aren't insulted with the idea that Jesus is the only way because they care that there is only one way. There are lots of things that are only one way of achieving things, and people are fine with that. If you want to become a lawyer, you have to pass the bar. If you want to be a doctor you have to get a certificate. If you want to drive certain places, there is only one road to get there. We don't get choices for a lot of things.

People get upset because of the way that Jesus represents. This apoplectic, spittle flying, white of the eyes rolling fits people have over Jesus is because of what is involved with His way. It is spelled with three letters. S-I-N. People absolutely hate to be called sinners. They pillory those who say that they are not qualified for heaven. They attack the concept that we will be judged. They hate Jesus because they hate His way.

This is because satan has blinded their minds, and they are completely under his influence, and satan hates Jesus. (2 Corinthians 4:4). So those who are satan's also hate Jesus.

Why do I believe Jesus is the only way?

I believe Jesus is the only way because He said so.

Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." (John 14:6)


So Jesus is either a liar, or He is telling the truth. I assure you, He is not lying.

Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel." (Mark 1:14-15)

Believe.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Beth Moore is busy calling down fire



This article from Charisma Magazine, published August 2, 2017, was something of an amazement to me. I should not be amazed, but I am. And not in a good way.

Here is an excerpt from J. Lee Grady's article titled How Beth Moore is Calling Down Pentecostal Fire:

I've been in countless Christian meetings over the years, but last week, I witnessed one of the most remarkable spiritual moments of my lifetime.
I was attending a gathering of Pentecostals held at a convention center in Orlando, Florida. When the speaker concluded the sermon, people began to stream to the altar. Many of them—including pastors—lay prostrate on the floor. Many were sobbing uncontrollably. Some people wept and prayed for an hour after the meeting was dismissed. 
You may ask, "What's so remarkable about that?" This meeting, held on July 26, was unique because the speaker was a Southern Baptist—and a woman. Yet her message was so convicting and so saturated in the Holy Spirit that people ran to the stage even though she didn't even invite people to the altar. 
The woman was author and popular women's speaker Beth Moore, and the occasion was the 28th General Conference of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church. Leaders from the Assemblies of God, the Church of God and Nigeria's Redeemed Christian Church of God were in attendance, along with thousands of Pentecostals from all over the world. 
Moore based her message on Jeremiah 12:5: "If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, then how can you contend with horses?" Without a tinge of self-righteousness or condemnation, Moore lamented the powerless state of the modern church and called us back to the raw authenticity of New Testament faith. 
"We are settling for woefully less than what Jesus promised us," said Moore. "I read my New Testament over and over. I'm not seeing what He promised. I'm unsettled and unsatisfied." 
She added: "I want holy fire!"
I don't know what is more fascinating—that a Baptist challenged Pentecostals to embrace Pentecostal fire or that a woman who is not supposed to preach to men in her own denomination brought male pastors to their knees in repentance.
I don't know what is more fascinating, the complete rebelliousness of Moore's preaching, the dangerous and ignorant plea for God to send down fire, or the flat declaration by Moore that she is unsatisfied and unsettled with a lack of fulfillment in God's promises.

Let's look at the Charismatic penchant for wanting fire. We hear about that a lot- teachers, preachers, and lay-people, begging for fire.

In this GotQuestions article we readof the reality of fire from heaven.How many times has God sent fire from heaven? The Bible records six times when He sent fire from heaven.

1. God allowed satan to send fire from heaven to destroy Job's flocks.
2. God sent fire in the form of burning sulfur to Sodom & Gomorrah
3.  God also used fire from heaven to judge the soldiers sent by the wicked king Ahaziah to arrest Elijah
4. & 5. Twice, fire descended from heaven to consume a group of fifty soldiers sent on the king’s business (2 Kings 1:10, 12).
6.  God sent fire from above in order to consume a sacrifice

Fire from heaven is predicted for the future as well. In the end-time Tribulation, the false prophet will cause fire to come down from heaven as a counterfeit miracle designed to deceive people into worshiping the Antichrist (Revelation 13:13).

And, at the end of the millennium, God will instantly destroy the armies of Gog and Magog with fire from heaven (Revelation 20:9).

So, do we really want fire to fall down from heaven? Really? Why do these false teachers constantly ask for fire from heaven? Do they think it makes them look pious? It only reveals their biblical ignorance.

They know not what they ask. Their ends will be as they deserve. They twist the Bible, they deceive the people, they scratch itching ears, and they heap up followers. They blaspheme. Sadly, instead of glory and peace, they will receive fire. They will get the fire they asked for.

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. ... Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, 10 and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority.
(2 Peter 2:1-3; 9-10).

say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the Lord!’ 3 Thus says the Lord God, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! (Ezekiel 13:2b-3).

And you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people, who prophesy out of their own hearts. (Ezekiel 13:17).

Lord, haste the day when lying diviners and deceitful prophetesses will be no more.

Monday, September 25, 2017

"And they crossed on dry ground...

We know about Moses. We love him. We know of his his foibles, his sins, and his great faith. Moses is in the Hebrews Hall of Fame Faith and rightly so. He was used mightily by God.

Moses was the instrument God chose to use to display His salvific power when the Hebrews were pursued by Pharaoh's army at the Red Sea. Read from the word:

Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the LORD drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. (Exodus 14:21-22).

I remember the Indonesian Christmas Tsunami of 2004. I've watched news of other tsunamis since. I've seen the movie The Perfect Storm, with the boat climbing up that 100' tall wave. I saw a video of a Puerto Rican dam break in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. A rushing wall of water is destructive and definitely in the top pantheon of fear-inducing natural disasters.

The Hebrews had lived in Egypt for generations. The Nile floods annually. They were certainly familiar with the deadly properties of wayward water.

We read the Bible and we believe all that is within it. (At least, I hope you do). But let's take the time to really regard that moment. With the Egyptian Army in full pursuit, and with the vast Red Sea in front of them, the escaping Hebrews seemed trapped. Moses had prayed and received an answer. God would allow them to cross the Sea on dry ground. Moses walked down the incline and put his foot on the dry ground, and continued through the wall of water, across the Sea.

It was one thing for Moses to trust God in faith and to step out, but would the grumbling and skittish Hebrews follow?

By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land, but the Egyptians, when they attempted to do the same, were drowned. (Hebrews 11:29).

EPrata photo
They did. But imagine that moment. Imagine it as if it were you. You pick your way down the incline, taking care to step carefully over wet vegetation and slippery rocks. You glance to the left and see a towering wall of water and you glance to the right and see an equally imposing wall of water. You look up. The water goes to the sky a long way. Perhaps you can even see fish swimming in the wall. Does your mind even comprehend what you are seeing? Can you process this? Do you dare walk in between the walls of water, trusting God to uphold them for as long as necessary?

You do.

The biblical record states that when the people of Israel finished walking through, and the Egyptian army went in, the Lord closed the wall of water and the Egyptians were thrown into the sea in the midst. It does not state that any of the people of Israel had turned back, lingered, or hesitated on the shore. It does not say that any of the Hebrews had decided to make camp and think it over first. They crossed. All of them.

We can laud them for their faith, and we should. They saw. It was an incredible moment, filled with tension and fear, both of the water and of the Lord. (Exodus 14:31). But as is said in the New Testament,

Jesus said to him, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20:29).

Friend, you (and I) are blessed. We believe by faith. We step out in minor and major ways, every day. We trust the invisible Lord to lead us across the slippery ground, over the rocks, and onto the dry sand, and He gets the glory. (Exodus 14:17-18).

He leads. We follow. He gets glory, our faith increases, so we can follow Him more, so He gets more glory, and our faith grows...

Praise Him for the cycle of life eternal.



Sunday, September 24, 2017

Jesus, bread of life (Chris Powers animation underway)

Chris Powers, artist, illustrator, and animator, is hard at work creating a new animation. Here, he
share with you a few screenshots from the sketching process for the next animation (the one based on “Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence”).

The one featured above presents Christ as the “heavenly food” given for the life of His people (essentially a visual representation of Jesus’ teaching in the second half of John 6). The other two pictures are of cherubim, both in the heavenly throne room and as represented on the “mercy seat” of the ark of the covenant.....the connection between the heavenly throne, the ark, and the cross will be central in this animation.


You can check out his work at https://www.patreon.com/fullofeyes or at his website fullofeyes.com . His work is free, and study guides have been developed to accompany the animations. They are also translated into Spanish and Portuguese.



Friday, September 22, 2017

Prata Potpourri: Hate watching, Loving our neighbor, Four reasons why, Bible books in 1 word, more

He said He will come, He said to look up when we see these things come to pass, and He IS coming soon. When the rapture happens, the unbelieving world will be left confused, injured, unhinged, and devastated. Now is the time to urge those who do not believe to seek truth. Truth resides in Jesus and in Him alone. And aren't we who know Him blessed with the most wonderful relationship we can possibly conceive of? Even if we do not have opportunity to witness in a particular moment, let us reflect Him in our demeanor and smile. We are rejoicing always!

I always want to remind myself and others that we are temporarily living on this earth as it is. Our lives may seem long, but they are short, but a passing breath. So I always remind us that Jesus may return immediately, in the next few moments of time. Alternately, the breath may leave our nostrils at any moment, our days are numbered.

Therefore, we pray, Lord, Thy kingdom come...but until that moment, Your will be done.

Here are a few reading resources for you. Enjoy!

Musician Dallas Holm muses about God's Will in the hard as well as the easy.

Shane Pruitt at Already Am wonders if the statement 'believe in yourself' does more harm than good.

Jen Oshman discusses parenting when there are so many disasters and fear in the world in her article Fear, My News Feed, and Psalm 46

Samuel James has some thoughts on hate watching the Emmys...

Julia at Steak & A Bible has some suggestions about reading the rest of Romans 6

Nick at Reformation 21 shares deep truths about loving your neighbor as yourself with a reminder that it is the second greatest commandment.

From Zachary Bartels, "I've previously shared with you the best advice I ever got about preaching: my homiletics professor told us, "Gentlemen, when you’ve finished your sermon and think it’s just about ready to preach, read it over and ask yourself this . . . Could this message still be true and make sense if Jesus had not died and risen again for our salvation? If the answer is yes, then throw it out and start over, because it’s not a Christian sermon. It’s self-help or life-coaching or tips for family dynamics, but it’s not a cross-centered message, which is what we are called to proclaim." Read on for the context and the point in The Jets, the Sharks, and Jesus

Housewife Theologian Aimee Byrd explores Four Reasons Why Every Christian Should Study Psalm 110

Garrett Kell at All Things for Good lists Every Book of the Bible in One Word

World Magazine reviews the documentary Fallen
A dangerous duty: Fallen spotlights the risks police officers face—and the sacrifices they make


Enjoy the day! Let's remember this simple, profound timeless, wonderful truth:

EPrata painting


Thursday, September 21, 2017

Thursday Picture Mixture: Baby elephant, Maria, Old postcards, beauty

Photographer Finds Locations Of 1960s Postcards To See How They Look Today, And The Difference Is Unbelievable

Not long ago an old matchbook laying on photographer Pablo Iglesias Maurer's desk caught his eye. Or rather, it was the postcard-like picture on it, of a resort complex built in the 1960s. It got Pablo wondering how the place looked now, and the answer has led him to make an amazing photo series called Abandoned States.

I love how this series is displayed. The old postcard is shown and in that same spot the photo fades to the exact view of the scene today. It is a stark reminder to us that nothing on this earth is permanent, no matter how large, luxe, or solid it looks. The series is wistfully melancholy.

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This baby elephant runs around chasing birds. He slips and falls, and what he does next is so precious. Babies are cute, whether pachyderm or human! 25-second video.

Baby elephant chases birds

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The recent quakes and quake swarms, not to mention hurricanes, remind us that the earth is under a curse. only to be lifted by its Creator, Jesus, in His timing. Below, workers race to find survivors of the 7.1 quake at Mexico City which collapsed a school. Reuters photo




Scientists say recent quake swarm at Rainier is rare but not unprecedented



Rescue teams take to Puerto Rico streets in darkness amid warnings that power could be out for months following devastating hit from Hurricane Maria

Below, damage on Puerto Rico from Hurricane Maria. Our infrastructure, including electrical power, is so tenuous. Only God is power.



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And yet, amid the damage and heartache caused by a restless earth, beauty. Jesus created all the beauty we see in creation in under one week. Wow.



Throwback - Repentance brings blessing

This essay was first published on The End Time in December 2011

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

EPrata photo

I listened to a very good sermon on Sunday afternoon. Don Green is [was] the pastor of the Grace Life section of the Grace Community Church of John MacArthur. Green's preaching Sunday on the "The Call to Repentance" was an eye opener. The verses were from the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5 and also Matthew 4:17.

His theme was not what you might expect. Repent, yes, but the call to repentance always has with it another part to the message, one that is often forgotten. When Jesus calls people to repent, there is always a blessing associated with it.

Pastor Green's point was that we of course should call people to repent, yes, but do not forget to tell them they are blessed if they do! Matthew 4:17 says, "From that time Jesus began to preach and say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” This is the summary statement of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. In the sermon, He is explaining what repentance means. The verse from Matthew 4 is the summation, but the Sermon is Jesus explicitly teaching what He meant regarding repentance. Matthew 5:3-9, for example, is linked to the Matthew 4:17 verse in that Jesus now gets specific about what happens to a person on the inside when they repent.

"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. “Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth. “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God."

Look how many blessings come when a person repents and allows the Holy Spirit to change them on the inside! Jesus ended His sermon with reminding us that it IS an internal change. He said in verse 20:

"For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."  (Matthew 23:13). The scribes and Pharisees were the religious leaders of the day, but they were only righteous on the outside, with what they wore and what they said and how they acted. Their internal state was not one of humble repentance, and as a result they were cursed, not blessed.

The call to repentance is to:
--turn away from sin toward biblical righteousness
--in order to give irrevocable allegiance to Jesus
--and to receive divine blessing

Pastor Green's sermon focused on understanding the third point, that with repentance comes blessing, and this shapes the way we explain the Gospel to people.

We call for repentance and warn of the justice from the Highest Court in the universe, from the most perfect Judge. Punishment for sins is real and must be declared to the unbeliever. This is our duty. But don't leave it there, Pastor Green urged. Because love is part of the equation, too. Jesus blesses His children. He bought us with His blood as pardon from the justice they would likewise receive but instead blesses them when they do repent.

Nine times in Matthew 5 (NASB) Jesus used the word "blessed". Nine blessings are pronounced! Also in Matthew 11, Matthew 13, Matthew 24, more blessedness is offered to those who do not take offense at Jesus, to those upon those who see and hear the message, and on those slaves who are doing the Father's will. The change brought about at repentance comes with is blessings that start there and continue on the growing believer.

When you share the Gospel, love them enough to tell them of the justice for the sins, but also love them enough to tell them of the Lord's blessings waiting upon them if they do repent. This is a good lesson for me, too.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

17 minutes of continual sin

We need a savior. We are evil, evil continually rising from a corrupted heart. Our human nature is depraved, polluted, and thoroughly iniquitous. Don't believe me? Think that Genesis 6:5 is only historical? You imagine I'm being unnecessarily pessimistic? "I haven't murdered anyone," you protest. "I'm not, like, a Nazi war criminal," your mind challenges. Hrm. Read on.

This piece is pretty well-known. It has been floating around the internet ever since it was published in World Magazine in 2005. Our pastor read it to us on a recent Sunday and then it became known to me. Boy, did it ever. I urge you to read it. Better still, read it out loud. Best of all, read it aloud to your spouse or friend, together, with someone. The relentlessness of it picks up steam, and the commensurate heart conviction rate increases also. Or it should. The article deftly illustrates why "good" folks "like us" need a savior. We. Need. A. Savior.

Postscript at the end.

Seventeen minutes
It's the thoughts-ordinary, daily thoughts-that count
By Andree Seu Peterson

These are the thoughts of a woman driving home from the Stop 'N Shop on an ordinary day.

She conjures three comebacks she could've hurled at Ellen if she had not been caught off guard.

She spots the baby shower invitation on the dashboard and schemes a way to be out of town that weekend-then thinks better of it because she has a favor to ask the sender at a later date.

She sizes up a woman standing at the bus stop-and judges her.

She stews over a comment her brother made behind her back, and crafts a letter telling him off-and sounding righteous in the process.

She reviews the morning's argument with her husband, and plans the evening installment.

She imagines how life would have been if she had married X (a well-worn furrow, this).

She magnanimously lets a car merge into traffic, and then is ticked off when she doesn't get her wave.

She resolves to eat less chocolate starting today-well, tomorrow.

She replays memory tapes going back to the '60s, trying to change the endings.

Somebody rides up the road shoulder and budges to the head of a traffic jam, and she hates the driver with a perfect hatred.

She passes the house of the contractor who defrauded her and fantasizes blowing it to smithereens.

She passes Audrey working in her garden and waves-but thinks, "If Audrey has chronic fatigue syndrome, I'm a flying Wallenda."

She glares at a driver who runs a red light in front of her, forgetting that she did the same about a mile ago.

She checks her slightly crooked nose compulsively in the rearview mirror, and reassures herself it isn't too bad.

An inner voice tells her to turn off the radio and pray, but she decides that's the voice of legalism.

She brainstorms talking points for her upcoming woman's Bible study lecture on "Ephesians" and considers how she can improve it-and make it better than Alice's talk of last week.

She is angry at God because here she is a Christian and broke, while her good-for-nothing heathen of a brother is rolling in dough.

She thinks how much better her life would be if she were beautiful, and fantasizes all the bungee-jumping, maggot pizza-eating "fear factor" stunts she'd be willing to subject herself to to look like Gwyneth Paltrow.

She wonders how her parents will divvy up the inheritance-and how long she has to wait.

She rehearses two good reasons why her sister and not she should take care of the folks when they're too old. She thinks about her childhood and counts the ways her parents have screwed up her life.

The Johnsons drive by, and she recalls all the meals she made for them 10 years ago when Lydia had toxemia during pregnancy, and bets they don't even remember. Hmm, did they even send a thank-you card?

The word treachery flashes through her mind (Mr. Beaver's succinct epithet for Edmund in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) but leaves no footprints.

An SUV cuts her off, and she decides to punish it by tailgating.

Her heart smites her for this. So she determines to try harder to live righteously from now on. Who knows, God may reward her in some amazing way: Her husband may give her grounds for divorce, and God will lead her to the arms of Mr. Right.

She tries to pray but doesn't get past "Our Father."

There are lots of other people that the woman does not think of while driving home with groceries, people who are not important to her social status, or just not interesting.

She doesn't think about AIDS-ravaged Africa, she doesn't think about the death sentence dangling over millions in Sudan, she doesn't think about missionaries, she doesn't think about martyrs in Kim Jong-il's prisons, she doesn't think about ways she could encourage her children.

She pulls into her driveway. Total driving time: 17 minutes.

And if you were to ask the lady, as she rustles parcels from the car, what she has been thinking about on the drive from town, she would say, "Oh, nothing in particular." And she would not be lying.

Imagine believing that we don't need a Savior.

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

Jesus brought light and cleansing to our blackened hearts.


Hurricane Irma was approaching Georgia on that Sunday. It was due to hit on Monday. Our church service runs from 3:00-4:30. After church, I stopped at the nearby grocery store to pick up a few last minute items. It was packed. Jammed. And a sheen of tension overlay the store. People were in more of a hurry than usual, pumped up from the weather forecasters' predictions of downed trees, lost power, and other dire unknown things that were sure to happen. I got into the self-checkout line, which was not any shorter but I was hoping that I might gain a slight time advantage.

I didn't, and I waited in line without moving, for a long while. As I stood and waited, and my stress levels increased, so did my thoughts. I began having a stream of consciousness, nothing-in-particular thoughts about everyone else in line. I judged their clothes. I judged their slowness of movement. I even judged their purchases. Shocked, I realized that I was the same as the woman in the article, thinking evil thoughts continually. Here, ten minutes after the service ended, still in my church clothes.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Daily repentance is necessary.

Thank you Jesus that You covered us with your blood, cleansed from our sin in Your eyes. Our sin has been erased from our record to be thrown into the vast outer places, as far as the east is from the west. Seeing my sin record before me, I stagger under the weight of carrying it, never mind a lifetime. I would have justly been penalized for it, had You not submitted to the Father's plan of the cross.

You bore the weight of eternity's sin of all the people You have chosen since before the foundation of the world, and their/my punishment. Thank You.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Was Achsah's request too bold?

You do not have, because you do not ask. (James 4:2b)

So if you who are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him! (Luke 11:13)

The second scripture above from Luke is a story Jesus delivered just after teaching the disciples 'The Lord's Prayer', in the section on how to pray.

We know of the more familiar examples of Bible people asking things boldly. David, Jeremiah Habakkuk, Job, Hannah...they all asked for things of the Lord and did so honestly, with raw intensity. There is no doubt that they were sincere believers who felt awe and reverence for God. They feared Him. Yet when it came time to pour out their heart in naked emotion or bold prayer requests, they did.

Here is a less well known example of someone in the Bible asking for something of her (earthly) father, boldly. Achsah. Here she is in scripture, Judges 1:12-15,



And Caleb said, "He who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will give him Achsah my daughter for a wife." 13And Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother, captured it. And he gave him Achsah his daughter for a wife. 14When she came to him, she urged him to ask her father for a field. And she dismounted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, "What do you want?" 15She said to him, "Give me a blessing. Since you have set me in the land of the Negeb, give me also springs of water." And Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs.

Was Achsah too bold? Was she greedy? Was she rebellious in her asking when she should have remained meek and submissive? The Jamieson Fausset Commentary explains it this way
that is, when about to remove from her father's to her husband’s house. She suddenly alighted from her travelling equipage—a mark of respect to her father, and a sign of making some request. She had urged Othniel to broach the matter, but he not wishing to do what appeared like evincing a grasping disposition, she resolved herself to speak out. Taking advantage of the parting scene when a parent's heart was likely to be tender, she begged (as her marriage portion consisted of a field which, having a southern exposure, was comparatively an arid and barren waste) he would add the adjoining one, which abounded in excellent springs. The request being reasonable, it was granted; and the story conveys this important lesson in religion, that if earthly parents are ready to bestow on their children that which is good, much more will our heavenly Father give every necessary blessing to them who ask Him.
The last sentence of the commentary explanation harks back tot he verse from Luke above. And here is another short explanation of this small incident from Judges about Achsah, it is Matthew Henry from his Complete Commentary. The tenth commandment was "Do Not Covet."
From this story we learn, 
1. That it is no breach of the tenth commandment moderately to desire those comforts and conveniences of this life which we see attainable in a fair and regular way. 
2. That husbands and wives should mutually advise, and jointly agree, about that which is for the common good of their family; and much more should they concur in asking of their heavenly Father the best blessings, those of the upper springs.
3. That parents must never think that lost which is bestowed upon their children for their real advantage, but must be free in giving them portions as well as maintenance, especially when they are dutiful. Caleb had sons (1 Chr. 4:15), and yet gave thus liberally to his daughter.
Ye have not because ye ask not! Now, just because we ask, doesn't mean we will get what we ask. God is not a magic genie, bestowing upon us all that we desire. There are conditions to asking boldly of our Father in prayer. First, the rest of the James verse explains that sometimes we do not receive because we ask wrongly. If we are asking in order to indulge our passions, it will not be granted. If we regard iniquity in our heart, prayer will not be heard. (Psalm 66:18). There are other conditions, too, which if in place mean the prayer will not be heard, no matter how bold it is. (source with scriptures here,please look at the list).
Conclusion:

Prayer: Nothing is too great and nothing is too small to commit into the hands of the Lord!
-- A. W. Pink
Our Father who is holy, will give good gifts. Be bold in prayer, be diligent in asking, be sure of the result.

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Further resources:

Sermon "Pray Boldly", here John MacArthur explains the weird scene from Luke 11
jmac sermon "don't be afraid to ask'

Charles Spurgeon's sermon Have not because ye ask not? exposits the scene with Achsah.

Thomas Watson quotes on prayer, here at Grace Gems

Valley of Vision, The Prayer of Love

Monday, September 18, 2017

Sipping wine in the place where the grape is grown

In the late 1980s I was inspired by the movie Shirley Valentine, a film that depicted a middle-aged London wife unhappy with her boring husband and her dreary life. "I want to sip wine in the place where the grape is grown" Shirley had said. So she chucked her husband and her life and jetted off to sunny Greece, swam topless, had an affair, and decided to stay. I guess she liked the wine better than her husband.

Vineyard in Chiusi, Tuscany, Italy. EPrata photo
I was very much taken with the notion of changing one's life. I was entranced by Shirley's life mantra, of 'sipping wine in the place where the grape is grown'. I had tried a conventional life, but my husband had chucked me, I was saddled with a house in a dreary climate and three jobs to pay for it. I wanted more. Sipping wine in places where it's grown was certainly not the dying mill city of snowy Lewiston Maine. It bespoke of gentle Tuscan hillsides, green California dreams, or Greek whitewashed stucco. What a goal, Shirley, what a goal.

I went to wine places. California, Tuscany, South of France, rolling hills and grape vines abounding. But wine was just wine and the problem was the same. I met my goal. It was empty.

I searched with my heart how to cheer my body with wine—my heart still guiding me with wisdom—and how to lay hold on folly, till I might see what was good for the children of man to do under heaven during the few days of their life. ...

What was the meaning of life? Where was permanence, solidity, something that would not disappear in a breath? Something that would give lasting joy, meaning, and purpose? What is man's chief end??

Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 2:2-4, 11).
Question. 1. What is the chief end of man?
Answer. Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever. Westminster Shorter Catechism
The Puritan Thomas Watson preached on this in his sermon, Man's Chief End is to Glorify God
Here are two ends of life specified. 1. The glorifying of God. 2. The enjoying of God. 
First. The glorifying of God, 1 Pet. 4:11. "That God in all things may be glorified." The glory of God is a silver thread which must run through all our actions. l Cor. 10:31. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." 
Everything works to some end in things natural and artificial; now, man being a rational creature, must propose some end to himself, and that should be, that he may lift up God in the world. He had better lose his life than the end of his living. 
The great truth asserted is that the end of every man's living should be to glorify God. Glorifying God has respect to all the persons in the Trinity; it respects God the Father who gave us life; God the Son, who lost his life for us; and God the Holy Ghost, who produces a new life in us; we must bring glory to the whole Trinity.
Q. What is it to glorify God?
A. Glorifying God consists in four things: 1. Appreciation, 2. Adoration, 3. Affection, 4. Subjection. This is the yearly rent we pay to the crown of heaven.
Watson continued in his sermon to explain what and how to appreciate, adore, love, and submit to God.

King Solomon, who wrote Ecclesiastes concludes with the eternal wisdom:

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of every human being. (Ecclesiastes 12:13).

Wine is vanity, travel is vanity. All we do when we relocate is bring our depravity with us. We are the problem. Godless, we are adrift in a sea of evil, wafting from one vain flurry to another. Drifting as dust motes upon an acid air, we leave evil, bring evil, and expire as evil. We believe ourselves to be maidens of rosy blush and coy innocence, when we are simply mud mounds cast upon miry shores. Godless, we are drenched with corruption.

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And God saw the earth, and behold, it was corrupt, for all flesh had corrupted their way on the earth. (Genesis 6:5,12).

When we are saved by His grace through faith, we are cleansed, our sin nature is given a Helper. We are dressed in white robes and stood on our feet, no longer to crawl in the dust like the serpent. We are given a will and testament that promises eternal peace, treasures, crowns, and dwellings in glory with the Savior. Our goal shifts to one of giving Him glory and enjoying Him forever.

What a goal, what a goal.






Sunday, September 17, 2017

Kay Cude poetry: When We Remember

Kay Cude poetry. Used with permission. Click to enlarge

Artist's Statement:

As I continue to go through them my perspective is reinforced with the fundamental truth: it is necessary that we learn and grow through "issues" and situations we'd rather avoid. They will either drive us deeper into Scripture and prayer, or we will allow them to drive us into despondency, confusion and sorrow. When we experience breath-knocking blows, above all else it is necessary that we "remember" Who our first love is and that He, Christ is our ever-present secure help. He is our All-in-All, our sufficiency, protection, strength and giver of wisdom. We must remember that issues and circumstance have eternal purpose for His beloved redeemed.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Picture Mixture Saturday: Earth predicted to end this month, APOD, thrift stores, outdoors in fall, more


Biblical prophecy claims earth will end on September 23. Good to know.


This is why I love second hand stores. Second hand books! My local store often has good quality Christian material. I buy books to give away. Except for a few volumes that will always stay with me, my Christian bookshelves are revolving.

Here's some reasons why thrift store shopping is cooler than you thought.





This is why I love photo editing software (Pixlr.com, free)




Do you have a quiet place to enjoy God's creation this weekend? 10 Outdoor activities to grow closer to God and each other




If you're not familiar with NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), then this might spark your imagination. "Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer." Photo for September 15, 2017 credit and explanation is below

100 Steps Forward
Image Credit & Copyright: Camilo Jaramillo
Explanation: A beautiful conjunction of Venus and Moon, human, sand, and Milky Way is depicted in this night skyscape from planet Earth. The scene is a panorama of 6 photos taken in a moment near the end of a journey. In the foreground, footsteps along the wind-rippled dunes are close to the Huacachina oasis in the southwestern desert of Peru. An engaging perspective on the world at night, the stunning final image was also chosen as a winner in The World at Night's 2017 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest.


Though the man is standing in a desert in Peru, I think about this being the same universe that Joseph, trapped in a desert well, looked up into. That Job, mourning and grieving, cried under. Habakkuk questioning God at night, the disciples, asleep in Gethsemane with Jesus praying under these same stars. Our God created all those stars...and named them also. What a gracious thing it is, to know Jesus and understand the universe is God's.


Prata's Place/Graceful Garlands 33: Permanent Transience

click to enlarge

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Isthmus of Life

This essay was first published on The End Time on March 9, 2013. I'd like to add to my essay, that you see how narrow an isthmus is. That is life. It is but a breath, a narrow strip whereupon we dwell for only a short time. Then the eternal boundless ocean of either wrath or glory will wash over us adn we will be forever it its depths, either in torment or in peace.

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"I desire to have both heaven and hell ever in my eye, while I stand on this isthmus of this life, between two boundless oceans." ~John Wesley, 1747

An isthmus is a narrow strip of land connecting two larger land areas, usually with water on either side. A tombolo is an isthmus where the strip of land consists of a spit or bar.

The sandy isthmus or tombolo connecting
North and South Bruny Island in Tasmania, Australia
One of my favorite spots on earth is at Lubec Maine, and this shot is of the East Quoddy Lighthouse at Campobello Island, New Brunswick Canada. It is across from Lubec. The famous tides in this area rush in and rise to heights of thirty feet or more. This narrow spit of sand submerges in furious fashion when the tide comes in and covers it up.


If you are standing on the sand when the tide comes in you will find that the current stirs up the sand and pebbles and what you thought was solid to stand on becomes completely unstable. The forces of the water sweep you off your feet and carry you away. Your strength will not able to overcome the strength of the water. Its chilling effect weakens you and hypothermia sets in rapidly. The webpage for the lighthouse warns--
"If you become stranded on the islands by the tide, wait for rescue. Even former keepers of this lighthouse have lost their lives by misjudging the strong, frigid, fast-rising tidal currents, and tide-pressurized unstable pebble ocean floor, while attempting to make this crossing. During a summer in the 1990s, two visitors attempted to swim across this passage. One made it across, but the other was swept away by the current. After a rescue by boat, both had been stricken with hypothermia, were rushed to the hospital -- and luckily, survived."
The page ends with this warning:

DANGER!--TAKE NO RISKS & DO NOT LINGER!

We think of Wesley's notion of life as an isthmus. It is narrow and temporary. The boundless oceans of heaven and hell are on either side, pressing in. Eventually the land gives way and we are carried away by one, or the other.

Which direction you go depends on your attitude toward Jesus. At the moment of your death, the difference in direction will all come down to one point, one only. Jesus. He will lift you from the hopeless, chilling waters of your looming eternity in hell and bring you to the warm bosom of Himself in glorious heaven. The difference in which boundless ocean you will spend your eternity is repentance. Repent and be saved!
What, then, is the connection between repentance and salvation? The Book of Acts seems to especially focus on repentance in regards to salvation (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 11:18; 17:30; 20:21; 26:20). To repent, in relation to salvation, is to change your mind in regard to Jesus Christ. In Peter’s sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2), he concludes with a call for the people to repent (Acts 2:38). Repent from what? Peter is calling the people who rejected Jesus (Acts 2:36) to change their minds about Him, to recognize that He is indeed “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter is calling the people to change their minds from rejection of Christ as the Messiah to faith in Him as both Messiah and Savior.

Repentance and faith can be understood as "two sides of the same coin." It is impossible to place your faith in Jesus Christ as the Savior without first changing your mind about who He is and what He has done. Whether it is repentance from willful rejection or repentance from ignorance or disinterest, it is a change of mind. Biblical repentance, in relation to salvation, is changing your mind from rejection of Christ to faith in Christ.
What is repentance and is it necessary for salvation?

So this is the message: DANGER!--TAKE NO RISKS & DO NOT LINGER! Every day one lives on earth without knowing Jesus is a danger. You are taking risks with your eternity. Do not linger in repenting and placing your faith in Jesus.


Thursday, September 14, 2017

Picture Mixture Thursday: Polaroid is back, New feature called Crypti-tweet, Prototype movie, more

Photos for you today.

Great news! Polaroid is back. Instant, analog photos. Good. Digital photos are fun but do not have the same sense of generational care and personal story that well-worn photo album with analog photos does. And the instant is just a super bonus. No more waiting for film to be developed and returned from the store! The original Polaroid was launched 80 years ago. Wow. You can also buy vintage original Polaroid cameras at the new site for as little as $19. Hmmm.




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As Hurricane Harvey and Irma leave devastation in their wake, we remember the costliest and deadliest hurricane in the US ever, the 1900 Galveston Hurricane. Isaac's Storm was a fantastic non-fiction book recounting the storm, its people, and the result- birth of the modern National Weather Service. Meanwhile, here is an interesting movie project that released today at the Toronto Film Festival. It's called Prototype,

Revisiting a Devastating 1900 Hurricane in an Experimental 3D Filma non-narrative journey through the aftermath of the Great Galveston Hurricane shot in crisp 3D.

I like stereoscopic photographs, and occasionally post one here from an old book called Earthly Footsteps of the Man From Galilee, pictures taken in the stereoscopic format in the late 1800s and compiled into a book. My grandparents had a stereoscope and a library of photos I used to look through. It transported me to foreign lands and sparked my imagination.

The Prototype movie opens by using vintage stereoscope cards, a primitive 3D viewing method popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The stereoscopic cards in question are souvenirs made from photographs of the devastation wrought by the Great Storm of 1900, a hurricane that struck Galveston, Texas, says the movie's synopsis. Here is a review of the movie a critic saw as a sneak peek.



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Unsplash- a repository for high-resolution, creative commons, available-to-use photos. The photography is so outstandingly beautiful and mine just do not belong there! These photos will take your breath away. Just go look, if you want something gorgeous to feast on. Here are just 2. Use Unsplash for your blogs, you can search by photographer or theme.




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Here's a very funny photo publicizing the new study group based on work done by Jess Pickowicz in writing a study guide to go along with the MacArthur & Mayhue tome Biblical Doctrine:



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Here's a new feature I made up called Crypti-tweet. These are tweets from self-professed Bible teachers or Christian leaders which make no sense. I know it's hard to say what you want to say within the confines of 140 characters, and we all flub up sometimes. I'm not talking about those tweets.

I'm also not talking about the poetry we sometimes get carried away with tweeting, tweets that attempt to capture an ephemeral but powerfully real spiritual emotion we might have been feeling at the moment. I'm not talking about those intensely personal and understandable but generally cryptic-to-outsider tweets either.

No, I'm talking about teachers or leaders who are charged with making sense, as in, that is their sole task, (able to teach, 2 Timothy 2:24) but consistently issue tweets that are just insane sounding, ergo, directly contradicting the one and only skill-level command that the Bible insists that teachers possess, which is "making sense". Here is Beth Moore, inaugurating the Crypti-tweet:



Till next time!

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Why are there so many natural disasters?

Irma devastated the island of St Marten. CNN photo

I posted the other day in my essay "Is it the Birth Pangs?" that natural disasters have always been with us. One perspective I had offered was from a John MacArthur sermon. Dr MacArthur had said in his sermon Supernatural Lessons from a Natural Disaster,
We live in a society unlike any in the past, a world of electronic media, a world of mass communication, a world of overexposure to relentless visual images and enhancements.  We see everything and we see it constantly.  In fact, we're not isolated from anything that happens anywhere in the world 
Every catastrophe, every calamity, every cataclysm, every disaster, every tragedy everywhere eventually comes to us through the media and we vicariously experience all the pain and sorrow and suffering and death...
It's true. I know that when I hunch in front of my laptop and watch in real time Houston flooding from Hurricane Harvey and then a few days later watch the news eagle eyed because Hurricane Irma is predicted to pass over my own area, my mind and heart gets beleaguered. The flood surges, drowned animals, missing elderly, lost homes, evacuations...are all so terrible. It's difficult to comprehend the significance. And we do look for significance. Why is there so much disaster in the world?

In that previous essay I wrote that the pangs have been appearing for 2000 years, since Jesus ascended. and that this is just the beginning. (Matthew 24:8). Earthquakes, floods, death, and disasters have always happened, since after the time of Genesis 3. Do you know why? The curse. Sin. The earth groans under it.

I'd focused on the curse from Genesis 3.

Here is another reason why, perhaps, there are disasters like hurricanes in the world:

The scene is Jonah 1. The ship is underway. Jonah is rebelling, and the Lord hurled a great wind upon the sea, which tossed the ship. (Jonah 1:4). In this sermon called Running Away from God's Will, John MacArthur explained

Well, they were praying, and none of their prayers were doing any good, and they figured they ought to get Jonah in on it. Verse 7, "And they said every one to his fellow, 'Come, let us cast lots, throw dice, that we may know for whose cause this evil is upon us.' So they threw the dice and God controlled the dice, and the lot fell on Jonah," and it was Jonah. Isn't it interesting that sin here causes a ...a natural disaster? You know, I really believe that, as we look around our world, we see all the earthquakes and so forth and so on that are going on. You know, there's a...a percentage of earthquakes today that's greater than at any other time in history, and I think it follows right along with the mystery of iniquity unfolding toward the coming of Christ, because natural disaster follows in conjunction with sin. 
Now, if you go back to 2 Chronicles, for example, chapter 7, I think it is, verse 13. "If I shut up heaven that there is no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among the people, if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear...hear from heaven forgive their sin and will...what?...heal their land." 
You see, God responds to sin with very often natural disaster; and so God brought a storm in response to the sin of the prophet Jonah.
In other words, sin again. The creation is cursed and groaning, and the humans are sinners causing drama and disaster.

All this should point us to the Day, the time when Jesus renews the earth and the heavens, and no curse will ever exist. No disaster will ever befall any glorified human or holy angel. No howling rainstorm will flood, only fresh dew will spring from the ground. No screeching wind, but only soft breezes to ruffle the hair and kiss the leaves. No trees toppling, only stately cedars standing strong, giving shade to us and homes for birds of the air.

The Lord is grace itself, His mighty voice upholds the heavens. Some day, the heavens will be fresh and perfect, and no curse of disaster shall ever trouble us again.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In My Seat: a 9/11 Pilot's Story and the Providence of God

God is in sovereign control of every single thing on this earth, in heaven, and throughout the universe. He is at work providentially, invisibly. We would never have known this story until the video was made and the man told of this event. Yet known or unknown, this story of providence is repeated millions of times per day, every day, over and over, by Jesus, so that His plan will come to fruition at any given moment and at every moment.

Do not fear. This same Jesus has your life in His hand. He is orchestrating all things for your good and His glory. Whether His plan had been to put you in that seat, or to take you out of that seat, on any given day, His ministrations and ordination of events will come to pass. He is God, and there is no other.

This 15-minute video is WELL worth your time.

Synopsis:
September 10, 2001, First Officer Steve Scheibner packed his suitcase and waited for the phone call finalizing his assignment to fly American Airlines Flight 11, from Boston to Los Angeles. The call never came. In My Seat recounts the events leading up to Flight 11 and the subsequent death of Tom McGuinness in the seat that should have been filled by Steve Scheibner.




Examples of a spineless gospel presentation



Here are two men, both preachers of God's word, both with church flocks, both well known. One is known for his falsity and prosperity gospel and has a poor reputation among true believers. The other is known for his Reformed stance and is highly thought of by many believers.

Three times the interviewer asked the guest if Jesus is the only way, and three times the guest had the opportunity to state the true answer unequivocally. They didn't. Eerily, both men's responses were similar despite being several years apart and on separate and different forums.

Here are both responses in video plus link to full transcript to interview #1, below.




This summer I was researching Tim Keller. I heard a lot about him but had not personally delved. Well, I delved. In all the product I consumed to do my research, this interview stood out.

As a side note: When I research and I come across things that are grievous to me, I am spiritually pierced. I literally mourn, and I weep literal tears and I pray. I do not take posts like this lightly. I find no joy in them.

My method is journalistically solid. I don't cherry pick to fulfill a pre-conceived agenda. I don't lift one wayward quote from a body of work that is otherwise solid. I look at the person's overall life's work over time. I look at the entire essay, I watch the entire interview- for context. I wait to discern. I observe if the person will repent or course-correct.

That said, MSNBC journalist Martin Bashir interviewed Tim Keller about Christianity, at Columbia University in February 2008, related to his book The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism. This full Veritas Forum interview is quite lengthy, it's 1 hour 24 minutes. I watched the entire program. Here is another blogger's transcript of the 6-min excerpt from the longer interview. There are other problematic answers later int he program to other topics as well.

Here in this 6-min clip from the above full-length interview, I'd like to direct your attention to the fact that the interviewer asks three times if people who aren't Christians are going to hell or not, just as Larry King had pursued the question with Osteen.





In listening to the above 6-minute clip, I was reminded of similar answers from the 2005 interview Larry King did with Joel Osteen. In looking for transcripts of both interviews, I was struck by the similarity in tone, the vagueness of the responses, and the gutless gospel given. I made a chart so as to compare the responses. I tried to go apples-to-apples, comparing similar questions' topics with their individual responses, as closely as possible. I deliberately left off the names of these two gentlemen. See if you can deduce who said what. Click to enlarge it.


Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all men. 27For I did not shrink back from declaring to you the whole will of God. (Acts 20:27)

John MacArthur has always been bold. I remember he explained his tactic when asked to go on a secular interview show. He said that he gets the Gospel out as quickly and succinctly as he can. Oftentimes he is interrupted or time doesn't allow, so he cuts to the chase and presents it. He said that his main responsibility in life as a pastor is to explain and defend the Bible, and whenever he has a national opportunity to speak, he feels obligated to pursue souls quickly, with grace and clarity. Here is MacArthur on Larry King Live in 2003, on a panel that consisted of 4 other men of various faiths. I edited out two responses by a Catholic man so as to keep the focus on MacArthur's answers.

KING: John MacArthur, you believe that Muslim people, the Islamic people are wrong. Their beliefs are wrong.

MACARTHUR: That's right. And this is not some personal belief of mine. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life..."

KING: Yes, but if they don't believe that...

MACARTHUR: If they don't believe that, no man comes to the Father but by me.

KING: He died for the Islamic, too?

KING: You believe that, too, right?

MACARTHUR: Well, I believe God loves his creatures, his creations.

MACARTHUR: But in the end he's going to condemn to an eternal hell all those who reject his son Jesus Christ.

KING: All of them?

MACARTHUR: All who reject his son Jesus Christ, the Bible says, are condemned to eternal punishment.

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If MacArthur is on a panel with 4 other men, speaking under a shorter time frame, with looming commercial interruptions every few minutes, and still managed here and elsewhere in that same interview to get the truth out, what excuse do men like Osteen and Keller have, who were alone on a show with over an hour of leisurely talk time and one of those without any commercials at all?

None.

Our lesson as laypeople is the same. Despite the current trend away from speaking of sin and wrath and judgment, it is important to state the truth - the whole truth - clearly and unflinchingly. We have the truth, as Christians. It's a privilege and responsibility to state it to people & to the world as it is stated to us in the Bible. No shrinking back, no alterations, no equivocations.

During a Q&A at Grace Community Church, Phil Johnson, Moderator, thanked MacArthur for his clear stand on a previous Larry King Live interview session, in this session called Standing Firm in Unstable Times. The more unstable times get, the more we need good men who are clear with the Gospel.

PHIL: I want to say...Thank you, John, for the clear stand you took for Christ and for the way you made the truth of the gospel clear. You don't see that very often on Larry King.
JOHN: Well, it was a pleasure, believe me. It was a great opportunity and, you know, when you get an opportunity like that to give the simple straight-forward gospel to the wide world, it's just a great privilege.

Amen.

Picture Mixture Tuesday: kids' digital footprint, bacon, 9/11, piano, gelato, more

There are lots of people in my area without power from yesterday and into today due to the remnants of Hurricane Irma passing north through the state of Georgia. Thank you, Linemen, for your dangerous but so important work!



Yesterday was the 16th anniversary of 9/11. On waking up that bright fall morning, millions never knew that in a few hours their families would be devastated, and our national security and psychology would never be the same.



A new trend, this precious moon nightlight!

I'm a vegetarian due to taste and preference issues (not philosophy). I rarely eat any meat and I dislike cooking bacon because of the mess. But this is funny. In the south, I hear many wives mourn the fact that they can't get their men to eat vegetables, and salads are practically anathema. This dish would be close to the truth in any proud southern home... ;)



I thought this was pretty. I'm getting set to do a musical instrument series. I shot this after church Sunday. The delicacy and beauty of a well-crafted instrument is wonderful to behold. When it is played skillfully by someone singing hymns to the Lord, it's even better.




Something to think about when posting pics of your kids on Facebook. Are you widening their digital footprint to the degree that their future privacy will be lost? More here.




Where is the best gelato in the world? Well, duh, Italy of course! After three years and many nations competing, one gelateria in Spoleto Italy has won. I'm not an ice cream fan but when you are in Italy tasting real gelato, your world will be rocked. More here on the winner.



Psalm 63:6-8

On my bed I remember you;
I think of you through the watches of the night.
Because you are my help,
I sing in the shadow of your wings.
I cling to you; your right hand upholds me

Have a great day!



Monday, September 11, 2017

Why is it so hard to pray?

We're commanded in many places in scripture to pray. We have the duty of continual communion with Him. And yet, so often we don't pray as we ought. Why is this?

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

It seems so easy. Praying isn't as hard as spreading asphalt in Nevada on a summer day. It isn't battling a five-alarm fire in the canyons. It isn't helping your mother with Alzheimer's. All you do is sit in your air conditioned place, put your hands together, and speak to Jesus, our friend.

But is that all prayer is? No.

David McIntyre in his 1912 book, The Hidden Life of Prayer (free online) explains why praying is so hard sometimes. He tells why we do not do it as we ought. The Hidden Life of Prayer was one of the books that Tim Challies selected for his program "Reading Through the Classics." Challies wrote,
McIntyre was a Scottish preacher who succeeded Andrew Bonar as minister in Finnieston and later served as principal of the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow from 1913 to 1938. His book was first published in 1913.
McIntyre is insightful when he writes this,
Our Lord takes it for granted that His people will pray. And indeed in Scripture generally the outward obligation of prayer is implied rather than asserted. Moved by a divinely-implanted instinct, our natures cry out for God, for the living God. And however this instinct may be crushed by sin, it awakes to power in the consciousness of redemption.
Photo by Anna King on Unsplash

McIntyre is powerful when he writes this,
And yet, instinctive as is our dependence upon God, no duty is more earnestly impressed upon us in Scripture than the duty of continual communion with Him. The main reason for this unceasing insistence is the arduousness of prayer. In its nature it is a laborious undertaking, and in our endeavor to maintain the spirit of prayer we are called to wrestle against principalities and powers of darkness.

We know that we do not wrestle with others, but with powers and principalities of the air. And who is the prince of the power of the air? Satan. (Ephesians 6:12, Ephesians 2:2). But to put the two concepts together as one of the reasons prayer is so arduous, we have a powerful truth.

And lest we think that even if we had an easy life with no problems, or can slack off due to our tight communion with God, McIntyre write this about Jesus:
And this one who sought retirement with so much solitude was the Son of God, having no sin to confess, no shortcoming to deplore, no unbelief to subdue, no languor of love to overcome. Nor are we to imagine that His prayers were merely peaceful meditations, or rapturous acts of communion. They were strenuous and warlike, from that hour in the wilderness when angels came to minister to the prostrate Man of Sorrows, on to that awful "agony" in which His sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood. His prayers were sacrifices, offered up with strong crying and tears.

Photo by Natalie Collins on Unsplash

"Prayer is the key of heaven; the Spirit helps faith to turn this key." ~Thomas Watson.

Prata Potpourri: Women's discipleship, Librarians on horseback, reviving prayer time, more

A selection of links I've come across that you might find edifying, interesting, or amusing! Rachelle Cox at Each Passing Phase wrote...