Posted in theology

Complementarianism: Or, Being the Help-meet

By Elizabeth Prata

Question from a reader: I’ve heard the word complementarianism talked about a lot, but I’m not sure I fully understand the biblical definition of what it means. I know there are implications for marriage. And what about in the church?

All relationships are in some way hierarchical. Players submit to Coach. Employees submit to Boss. Boss submits to Corporate. Students submit to Teacher. Children submit to Parents. Sailors submit to Captain…who submits to Admiral…who submits to President/Commander in Chief. The President submits to the Constitution, and ultimately, the Voters. Congregants submit to Leaders (Hebrews 13:17).

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Posted in theology

A loud voice told her…She heard a whisper…

By Elizabeth Prata

Ladies, if you hear a disembodied voice talking to you purporting to be God or from God, ignore it and get to your pastor for prayer as soon as possible.

Did you know that most of the cults started in the world were because a voice from the sky directed them or revealed something?

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Posted in theology

The Holy Spirit Changes Everything

By Elizabeth Prata

Before the Spirit came to them:

The Pharisees loved the chief seats (Matthew 23:6)

Diotrephes loved to put himself first. (3 John 1:9)

James and John wanted to sit at Jesus’ right and left hand. Mark 10:37.

Peter denied knowing Christ. (Mark 14:72).

After the Spirit came:

Pharisee Nicodemus donated in today’s dollars $150,000 in spices to bury Christ, publicly.

James and John labored well for Christ all their lives, boldly, courageously, doctrinally.

Peter boldly preached to the Gentiles, Jews, and faced down the Pharisees, accusing them of killing the Messiah. (Acts 5:30).

We never do find out what happened to Diotrephes. Without the Spirit, all his work for Jesus is in vain and will be rejected. The Spirit makes all the difference.

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come. (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We see that new-ness in the above mentioned Bible people (except for Diotrephes). We should see that newness in anyone who converts, repents, and claims Christ. Their life pattern should be ever-upward-conforming to Christ. Conversion is a Triune activity, God set the plan into motion before the foundation of the world, Jesus effected it, and the Spirit applies it.

Posted in theology

Is Beth Moore Possessed?

By Elizabeth Prata**

I’ve been wondering this for a while. I have reasons for thinking it, and I mean the question with absolutely no snark, no sarcasm, and no mal-intent. Is Beth Moore possessed?

The question is sincere, but after I explore it briefly, my question also provides an opportunity to have a larger discussion about demons & possession.

So… if-

The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness! (Matthew 6:22),

Then- what do you see when you see this?

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Posted in theology

Pray for the strong as well as the weak

By Elizabeth Prata

We always pray for the weak and the hurting. That is good. But please also pray for the strong, whom the weak lean on and don’t usually ask to be prayed for. As more people hurt, more people go to the strong. In other words, let’s all pray for each other.

Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,” (Ephesians 6:18).

Posted in theology

Pharisees are everywhere

By Elizabeth Prata

California Governor Newsom has become known as a governor who instituted some of the the most minute and intrusive COVID rules for his people. Though the survival rate from this flu-like illness for the folks in his jurisdiction is 97-99%, he seems to be taking advantage of the time to extend his power and intrude into the lives of his people to a specific and detailed degree. The people under his care are burdened with yet another new lengthy list of rules in advance of the holiday season that are near-impossible to fulfill. Sound familiar?

Gov Gavin Newsom

When I saw some of the new rules for Californians they reminded me immediately of the Pharisaical rules for the Jewish people in Jesus’ time. The Pharisees had taken the original 10 Commandments and added 613 more rules for Jews to live by. Their entire lives were intertwined with some rule in every area of their lives.

Newsom’s rules for indoor gatherings at the holidays include mandates on what people are to wear, how they are to move or not move their bodies, singing & chanting, wind instruments, the level of physical exertion, who they can congregate with, where, and for how long. When I saw Newsom’s rule that said food gatherings should offer food in single serving containers, it reminded me about the dishes the Jews are to use in Kosher eating for milk and meat. The Pharisees instituted these rules because they thought they were ‘helping’ God help the people maintain purity.

The Pharisees developed a tradition of strict interpretation of the Mosaic law, developing an extensive set of oral extensions of the law designed to maintain religious identity and purity.” Source The Lexham Bible Dictionary.

There was much that was sound in their creed, yet their system of religion was a form and nothing more. Theirs was a very lax morality (Matt. 5:20; 15:4, 8; 23:3, 14, 23, 25; John 8:7). On the first notice of them in the New Testament (Matt. 3:7), they are ranked by our Lord with the Sadducees as a “generation of vipers.” They were noted for their self-righteousness and their pride (Matt. 9:11; Luke 7:39; 18:11, 12). They were frequently rebuked by our Lord (Matt. 12:39; 16:1–4). From the very beginning of his ministry the Pharisees showed themselves bitter and persistent enemies of our Lord. They could not bear his doctrines, and they sought by every means to destroy his influence among the people.” Source Easton’s Bible dictionary. (1893).

Newsom has developed these rules, I suppose, because he thinks he is ‘helping’ his people maintain health and safety. It is good to remember that the Pharisees were widely seen as hypocrites. They did not practice what they preached. The rules were mainly for other Jews, not so much for themselves. Hypocrisy is an ugly sin. So is power-grabbing and oppressing the people with burdensome rules.

I decided to look up the 613 Pharisaical rules and compare to Newsom’s Covid rules. Keep in mind these rules were developed specifically in advance of Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas in a state where the survival rate is 99% and it’s month 7, then 8 & 9 as Turkey Day approaches. Here is the comparison- (some of these rules were for Levites in the Temple).

Ecclesiastes’ refrain is “There is nothing new under the sun.” Unsaved people will always do as their flesh wants. They have no control over managing their evil desires. People in power given unrestricted access to power will tend to run rampant.

Power tends to corrupt,” said Lord Acton, the 19th-century British historian. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” His maxim has been vividly illustrated in psychological studies, notably the 1971 Stanford Prison Experiment, which was halted when one group of students arbitrarily assigned to serve as “prison guards” over another group began to abuse their wards“. Source

We are all depraved. That isn’t to say that we are all as bad as we could be. It is possible for people to be philanthropic, helpful, kind, and outwardly moral. But none of it pleases God. And the flip side to outward morality is that it doesn’t hold. Eventually, internal desires of the flesh will rear up. For some, more than others.

God instituted all kings, governors, and leaders. He is sovereign and He has His reasons for allowing a Governor of the most populous state in the US to run roughshod over his people. California’s population represents 12% of the entire United States’ population. The people who dwell there are living in a Corinth, a morally polluted, filthy and evil regime lauding the most perverse acts. Now the intrusion into the lives of Gentiles and Christians is made complete by use of these health rules. Keep in mind these were specifically developed in advance of Christmas, one of our most treasured days for worship and fellowship all year nd one that puts Jesus squarely front and center in the public square.

Please pray for our brethren in California, the governor, and the unsaved there. The unsaved are living in a regime of fear which dominates their life, yet they have no hope of the future. They are staggering under heavy burdens of all kinds. Even the Jews of the Pharisees’ day knew the Messiah would come. Simeon looked forward to Him, Mary knew, Anna had hope despite her meager circumstance as a widow. Unsaved Californians don’t. And…Newsom doesn’t know that Jesus will judge him for his time in office.

And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. (Revelation 20:12)

Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, (Revelation 6:15).

What a day that will be for him, if he remains unrepentant. Meanwhile, we are not surprised that a population is staggering under man-made rules that intrude into their lives to the Nth degree. There is nothing new under the sun. But one does hope and pray that the Son appears soon, to part the darkness and shine the rays of purity and justice upon a dishonorable regime.

Posted in review, theology

Short Reviews: Books, Documentaries, and Movies

By Elizabeth Prata

During this short school break I managed to finish my book and watch a couple of movies. Here are some short reviews of them. In my opinion they are clean and good material, safe for Christians. Some of the diseases the explorers in the Amazon had were described – ahem – realistically…and in the three movies I do not remember any language and certainly no sexual situations. In The Booksellers one seller specializes in fringe books and a cover of a salacious book was briefly shown.

Book: The Lost City of Z: A Tale of Deadly Obsession in the Amazon, By David Grann

“In 1925, the legendary British explorer Percy Fawcett ventured into the Amazon jungle, in search of a fabled civilization. He never returned. Over the years countless perished trying to find evidence of his party and the place he called “The Lost City of Z.” In this masterpiece of narrative nonfiction, journalist David Grann interweaves the spellbinding stories of Fawcett’s quest for “Z” and his own journey into the deadly jungle, as he unravels the greatest exploration mystery of the twentieth century.” Amazon synopsis

Grann is a superlative writer, and a fantastic researcher. HOW he got access to as many of the hidden, lost, and protected primary materials, I’ll never know. Some non-fiction writers don’t want to let go of all the research they did and cram it in, bogging down the story (as happened with my book on Jesse James). Others leave out too much of the research and the reader deals with gaps of information or lack of context. It’s a delicate balance. Grann nailed it. His engaging style and the wealth of information wrapped in great storytelling made for a rollicking book. I was fascinated from start to the fantastic ending.

He seamlessly switched between Fawcett’s expeditions of the past, and his own research expedition. I was fascinated with Fawcett’s life as well as Grann’s own increasing curiosity about what happened to Fawcett. All the while gaining insight into the beginnings of the Royal Geographic Society and the early expeditions by these brave and sometimes foolhardy men. A good old fashioned story, just the way you like it. Recommended.

Of similar interest: these incidents in the Amazon were mentioned in Grann’s book, Movies Fitzcarraldo, Burden of Dreams (even better than Fitzcarraldo), and Aguirre Wrath of God. Similar adventure books are Out in the Cold: Travels North, by Bill Murray; and book The Lure of the Labrador Wild, by Dillon Wallace.

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Documentary: The Booksellers. A behind-the-scenes look at the rare book world. I enjoyed this documentary so much. The rare book sellers are smart people, they use articulate words to fervently describe their passion, in bookish way, that is. The peek at selling books, fads in book collecting, the passion behind these important social artifacts, the history of book selling…was all touched on but in a personal way, through the eyes of people new to the profession all the way to third generation sellers. Stay on past the end credits, where Fran Liebowitz’s apparent dispassion for books is unwittingly revealed to be just as a heated passion for her books as everyone else’s, lol. Here is a review of the documentary from Variety. On Amazon Prime.

For more on the subject- Bibliostyle: How We Live at Home with Books. (Book)
Midnight In Paris, Movie (must watch).

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Movie: Ride Like a Girl. Based on the true story of Michelle Payne, first woman to win the Melbourne Cup. Beautiful scenery, a good story, Sam Neill as the father was terrific. Michelle’s younger brother Stevie, with whom she is very close, is a Down’s Syndrome child, and he appeared as himself in the film. I think he stole the show. A clean, good, normal movie, made all the better because it is a true story. I hadn’t realized the emotional build-up until the end when the catharsis left me in tears. On Netflix. Hollywood reporter review.

Of similar interest: Walk Ride Rodeo, another film based on true events, and the series Free Rein, all also on Netflix.

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Movie: Enola Holmes. Adding to the ever-present canon and satisfying an apparent audience clamor for more Sherlock Holmes stuff, comes this Netflix original. Adding a younger sister to the known family of Sherlock and Mycroft Holmes, the plucky gal has been raised by her eccentric mother (Helena Bonham Carter) who nurtured Enola’s brilliant brain as well as training her physically for challenges of a life of independence. Which is just as well, because when the mother goes missing, Enola sets off to find her. She outsmarts even her brilliantly deductive brother Sherlock, and saves a Viscount in the process. Aside from the usual feminism (women can do anything a man can do…we can change the world…yadda yadda…) the movie was attractive, interesting, rollicking, and felt Disneyesque (in Disney’s earlier more innocent days). Enola’s rated PG 13 for some mild violence (a man tries to drown Enola, she’s stabbed but survives due to the whalebone corset, etc). There is no language I remember and nothing sexual at all. I enjoyed Enola breaking the 4th wall, and loved all the interstitial slides of Victorian ephemera. It is a visually sumptuous movie. I liked it, and I went into it expecting not to like it. 🙂

Of similar interest: movie The Journey of Natty Gann, series Anne of Green Gables.

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I like working in an elementary school mainly because I love kids, but also because these short breaks come up every so often. I’m looking forward to the week off at Thanksgiving. I hope to put it to good use both with applying myself to spiritual things- I want to finish Saints and Sectaries (About Puritan Anne Hutchinson) and begin a book Blood Work by Anthony J. Carter, about the blood of Christ. And make progress in my The Masters Seminary course The Doctrine of Salvation with Mike Riccardi teaching.

But I also want to read and enjoy good movies and documentaries. My next book will be Out in the Cold, the travel adventure by Bill Murray I mentioned above. I plan to watch My Octopus Teacher soon or during the next school break, as well as The Social Dilemma (if I dare). I’m also interested in Joan Froggatt in Dark Angel, a story of the infamous Victorian poisoner Mary Ann Cotton.

I hope the above suits your entertainment needs and you enjoy!

Posted in theology

The Invisible Civil War

By Elizabeth Prata

Soldiers in the US Civil War (1861 to 1865) fought most frequently in open fields shoulder to shoulder. The tactic might seem stupid to us now, but they didn’t have a death wish. It was the most modern war tactic they had available to them at the time, said Historian Garry Adelman at the American Battlefield Trust.

Hannibal’s Carthaginian army’s defeat of Roman soldiers at the Battle of Lake Trasimeno was the world’s biggest successful surprise ambush. WWI was a horrific advance in war tactics. “World War I accelerated the evolution of warfare, catapulting it out of the Victorian era into nearly the middle of the 20th century. The trouble was that the technology of defense had advanced much more. The combination of machine guns, barbed wire, and increasingly complex systems of concrete-reinforced trenches meant that attacks—and casualties—were bigger than ever before.” (Source).

Of course, WWII had the atomic bomb, forever changing not just the tactics of warfare, but war itself through mutually assured destruction.

War tactics and strategies change. They are always evolving. The catalyst for those changes are advances in weaponry.

American Battlefield Trust

Therefore, wars evolve. However, when one side of the war uses the new tactic, the other side is often slow to catch up. In WWI, “generals persisted with [outdated] mass assaults anyway, justifying them (sometimes after their failure to achieve a hoped-for breakthrough) as a strategy of attrition.” (Source).

Why write an essay about war strategies and tactics on a Christian blog? Because we often forget one important part of our walk as Christians: we are in a war.

We do not war with flesh and blood, as earthly soldiers do. We war with our own sin, but we also war against philosophies and against the powers of this dark world.

Paul used military language often. Here in Philemon 1:2a this greetingto “Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier…” the Greek word for soldier here means “an associate in labors and conflicts for the cause of Christ”, (Strong’s). In 2 Timothy 2:3 Paul wrote, “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” And the same in 1 Timothy 1:18 fight the battle well. 2 Corinthians 10:4 Paul speaks of strongholds.

Ephesians 6:10 is famous for putting on our warlike armor, each piece not for running an enemy through with our sword, but each piece standing for a piece of spiritual armor in which to do battle.

We are in a war.

We as Christians are not unaware of satan’s schemes (2 Corinthians 2:11) but are we to suppose that his tactics never change? That as the battles over eons go forward, that satan never uses the most up-to-date weaponry available to him? He is a crafty and smart opponent. Just think, he dwelled in glory WITH God, but still managed to convince a third of the myriad innumerable angels up there with him to war against God Himself.

Satan used half truths and appeals to flesh with Eve in the garden. (Genesis 3:1b). He used lust with David. (2 Samuel 11:2) He sends demons to indwell humans. (Acts 16:16). He uses money. (Acts 19:24). He used weather with Job. (Job 1:19). He gets a King’s own decrees used against him. (Esther 3:9). He knows how to get people to use their unrighteousness to suppress the truth. (Romans 1:18).

As this long war goes on, as with any war, the tactics evolve. Satan adds to his weaponry as new weapons are invented. Here in the US we are currently engaged in a Civil War. Many people don’t realize it. They are still shoulder to shoulder infantry using outdated methods watching for the enemy, while satan employs up-to-date tactics that are apparently successful.

EPrata photo

The latest tactic satan has included in his arsenal is technology and social media. He is warring against churches and he is warring for the mind of America.

It’s effective because his latest tactic is invisible.

The war we’re in is always one of worldviews. Satan’s aim is to perpetuate sin. He wants to drive, entice, or lead people away from God and His precepts. Our aim is to share the Gospel which creates a new man and a transforming mind into Christ’s likeness.

You might say, “Well, the war you’re talking about is political, not religious.” True, but the secular war always creeps into the religious spheres. The feminist revolution of the 1960s and 70s is now full-blown impacting churches. The race wars of the 60s and 70s is now a full blown war inside our churches (Critical Race Theory, Wokeness, White Repentance, etc). We have to recognize the dangers of the secular wars infiltrating the church.

If Christians were covered in tar and set alight as Nero did, we’d say, sure, we’re in a war. We are surely being persecuted. When ISIS lined up Christians on a beach and beheaded them on video, we say sure, that’s war. It’s persecution. That’s hard persecution. But another of satan’s schemes is soft persecution, silent and stealthy. (Jude 1:4, Galatians 2:4, 2 Timothy 3:6).

Covid was a convenient tactic to shut churches down. Many are still to this day, 7 months later, fighting to reopen or stay reopened. A masterstroke to use an invisible virus to stop the in-person preaching of God’s word. Governments aligned with satan’s worldview are savvy in grabbing and keeping their power and advancing their territory via tyranny over an invisible virus.

This week, a bombshell article by the NY Post was published concerning one of the Presidential candidates, Joe Biden. Biden used to be our Vice-President. The story alleges that Biden’s son was given a job with the Ukrainians so that the Ukrainians would have access to Biden. Seeking influence at the highest levels is always a good tactic. Haman did it. The Wise Men who had Nebuchadnezzar’s ear opposed Daniel and his friends.

However, Twitter and Facebook, two of the largest and widely influential social media sites at the present time, banned and/or limited distribution of the story. This was a major blow to distribution, and was cause for upset and outrage. It’s censorship. The Washington Examiner posted an article about the situation. Folks on Twitter posted the suppressed NY Times story line by line, just to get it out there. The outrage was not just in the US, but as far afield as Australia. Sky News called the suppression of this important news a “Disgrace!” And also a threat to democracy.

But the current civil war is bigger than this tip-of-the-iceberg smoking gun. Conservative and Christian sites online have long complained that their content is being limited or outright suppressed. Conservatives – but not liberals – are often sent to what is known as “Twitter jail” for sharing biblical precepts that oppose secular worldviews- particularly views concerning feminism, homosexuality, and abortion. Twitter jail is when Twitter administrators lock out an account and prevent the account holder from sharing its content. Facebook does the same thing.

During the summer when Antifa terrorists were rampaging in major Western US cities, people attempting to get their opinion or news out about them online using various social media sites were often also likewise suppressed in various ways. Facebook decided to “fact-check” facts from the COVID issue. I myself was ‘fact checked’/post denied, on a posting using the Center for Disease Control as a source! But it was opposing satan’s narrative and that is something satan has begun controlling access to in the public square.

Our tactics never change because they are from God and His is highest. He has already gained the victory from His Son who died for sinners, was buried and resurrected on the third day, having lived a sinless life. The Gospel is our war tactic. Satan, however, shifts like a chameleon and we must not be unaware of his schemes. Controlling the print & broadcast media and social media online is a way to transform minds away from Christ. What you think about, see, and absorb is what you become. It’s why Paul urged Christians to stay in the word, so that what we read will keep us on course and we will not drift.

God has kept His word preserved and alive for thousands of years and He will continue to do so. (Matthew 24:35). He helps his people formulate new ways to get the most important news out there. I mean, the Gutenberg printing press! But be aware, Christian, that the foe is formidable and his tactics ingenious. We are in a civil war here in America, not only politically but ultimately of worldviews that preach the Gospel and those opposed to it. What happens politically will drift into churches soon enough. Twitter, Facebook, other social media sites, and the mainstream media are enemies of Christianity and powerfully influential in limiting or suppressing the Good News.

What do we do? Be fervent in speaking truth real life, pray for boldness online amid the cancel culture, and stay in the word. Pray for opportunities to share the Good News as often s possible while we still can. And share it online often, using God’s actual word. Be wary of the political atmosphere but stick to sharing in love and kindness as often as possible from God’s word. The Lord is creative and it’s interesting to see what he is doing and what he is allowing satan to do. I’m at once concerned for us here on earth but also amazed at His ways and how He is orchestrating present history.

Take heart. no matter what, He is on the throne! And, Jesus won the war!