Posted in america, christianity, discernment, heresy

The biggest heresy in America

Listening to John MacArthur’s second sermon this morning, on “Why The World Hates Christians, part 2” he mentioned an 11-month-old survey done by Ligonier and LifeWay Research. The research involved identifying the biggest heresy in America. Before MacArthur revealed what it was, I’d thought it might be Prosperity Gospel, or Charismatic errors. Nope.

Here is what Ligonier/LifeWay found: The biggest heresy in America was a denial of human depravity. Human depravity is the concept that after Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden, all humans from that point on are completely unable to see the things of God, to do any righteous deeds pleasing to God, or to respond in any way to God. We are completely unable. Our inability renders us dead in our sins, and being dead in our sins renders us unable. We need God to draw us to Him, to make us see Him, and to be able to respond to Him. This doctrine means, we as humans prior to repentance and justification, cannot “choose God.” As John MacArthur explains complete inability:

This doctrine has been called “Total Depravity,” but I feel that the “total depravity” is a misleading term.  If you look up “depravity” in the dictionary, it’s a synonym for viciousness.  It’s a synonym for being vile.  In fact, to be depraved, according to the dictionary, is to be degraded, debased, immoral to a dangerous degree like rapists and serial killers.  The word “depraved” sort of connotes a level of evil that’s just not applicable to everybody.  To say someone is totally depraved, you know, you think of Jeffrey Dahmers, or Charles Manson, or somebody who has not a vestige of human goodness, and void of all normal affection and restraint.  To call someone “totally depraved” would set them outside normal people as vicious perverts.  

That is not what is meant when theologians refer to total depravity because not everybody is as bad as they could be, and not everybody is as bad as everybody else.  What we’re talking about here is what I’ve chosen to call “absolute inability.”  What is true of everybody is we have no ability to respond to the gospel.  We are completely unable to raise ourselves out of a state of death.  We are completely unable to give our blind hearts sight.  We are completely unable to free ourselves from slavery to sin.  We are completely unable to turn from ignorance to truth.  We are completely unable to stop rebelling against God, stop being hostile to His Word.  

We are not only unable but we are unwilling to do that, unwilling to repent, unwilling to believe.  And if we are to repent and to believe, then it must be like it was for Lazarus, where God who commands the dead to rise has to also give them the power.

The church I used to attend is just such a church, participating in promoting the biggest heresy in America. From the pulpit and in Sunday School the Calvinist-hating pastor used to promote the notion of “free will” and our ability to choose Jesus as Savior. He would talk about our minds having just a ”flawed rationale’ and ‘clouded thinking’, not the fact that the Bible states we are completely blind (2 Corinthians 4:3-4) and totally unable to do anything for God. (Romans 3:10). Five minutes into one Sunday School lesson he explained free will and on that same Sunday in a 20 minute sermon he mentioned it again 5 more times. Talk about indoctrination. And this was just a dinky little Southern Baptist Church in a rural county.

Here is a web page listing all the verses which explain man’s incapability to choose God.

With such indoctrination about the false concept from churches from east to west, and on television and in books and in movies that we have freedom to choose Jesus, it’s no wonder that this heresy has grown so monstrously pervasive. I’m glad Ligonier/LifeWay named it a heresy.

Here is an excerpt from their research conclusions-

Thanks to a recent survey by Ligonier Ministries and Lifeway Research we now know the biggest heresy in America. Pushing errors regarding the trinity and the church into second and third place is the denial of the Bible’s teaching about the doctrine of sin, especially in the related areas of human depravity and human inability. I say “related” because what we believe about human depravity impacts what we believe about human ability; what we are determines what we can or cannot do.

Regarding human depravity, the research showed: 

  • 67% agree “Everyone sins at least a little, but most people are by nature good.”
  • 40% agree “God loves me because of the good I do or have done.” 

Regarding human inability, the statistics were: 

  • Only 16% agree with the doctrine that says “people do not have the ability to turn to God on their own initiative.
  • 71% of Americans agree that “an individual must contribute his/her own effort for personal salvation.”
  • 64% of Americans agree “a person obtains peace with God by first taking the initiative to seek God and then God responds with grace.” 

In summary, the vast majority believe that: 

  • Though we sin a little, by nature we are good.
  • We can do good and God rewards our good deeds by loving us.
  • We have the ability to turn to God on our own initiative.
  • Salvation involves us taking the initiative that God then responds to.

Go to the link above for more information and Ligonier’s infographic. Their conclusion was this:

“The future belongs to Christians with conviction.”

Is that you? Do you stand by what you believe? Are you strong on biblical knowledge and exhibiting a practical holiness? Because now is the time to know what you believe, why you believe it, and be ready to defend it- at all costs. Luke 14:28.

Posted in catholicism, christianity, crusades, inquisition, Obama, pope

Why the Crusades & Inquisition don’t belong in a discussion of Christianity

And why it doesn’t matter what Obama said…

The Battle of Ager Sanguinis, medieval miniature

On February 5, 2015 Obama gave an address at the National Prayer Breakfast. He said of people who seek to “hijack religious for their own murderous ends”,

“Lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the Crusades and the Inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ.”

There was enormous outcry over Obama’s likening of Christianity to terrorist Muslims. There have been many Op-Ed pieces, reaction articles, and blogs published over it.

Even reformed pastor-blogger Tim Challies linked to Professor of Medieval History Thomas Madden’s piece, in which Madden said both the Crusades and the Inquisition

“were initiated by popes, the unquestioned leaders of Western Christianity.”

Kings and popes. Professor Madden set forth a response placing the Crusades in historical context as part of Christianity. Madden said the first Crusade was called in 1095 by Pope Urban II. Remember, Tim Challies linked to the piece in his daily A La Carte segment.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission said Obama’s words were “an unfortunate attempt at a wrongheaded moral comparison,” He continued, “The evil actions that he mentioned were clearly outside the moral parameters of Christianity itself.”

That’s because the evil actions that happened in the Crusades and the Inquisition were not part of Christianity at all. In a CNN interview discussing Obama’s remarks, Russell Moore took issue with Obama’s statement solely on the front of its moral equivalency, saying it was wrong to compare ISIS with Christianity, and it would be the same as if Roosevelt had stood up and said “Pearl Harbor was a day that will live in infamy, except let’s remember we surprised the British at Yorktown too.”

A 19th-century depiction of Galileo before the Holy Office, by Joseph-Nicolas Robert-Fleury

All of this is moot. Wrong. Of no consequence. It. does. not. matter. Why? Of the reactions I’ve read from both political leaders and religious leaders, none have stated the obvious. The Crusades and the Inquisition were Catholic events. The Catholic popes started them and Catholics carried them out.

Catholics are not Christians. The First Crusade was Papal response to Muslim aggression, especially the first crusade which sought to retake Jerusalem from Muslim hands. The First Crusade was followed by the Second to the Ninth Crusades. In all cases, the Catholic popes’ thrust was to forcibly defend against Muslim invasion. The Catholic popes have the Inquisition on their hands also.

Catholics follow a false god and their doctrine is not the saving doctrine of Jesus’ Christianity.

Catholic dogma is not of Jesus and is in fact of satan, just as the Muslim dogma is.

The worst comparison Obama made in his speech was not Christianity to ISIS, but Catholicism to Christianity. If people would take issue with THAT, it would really be doing something for the name of Jesus.

Posted in christianity, encouragement, glory, great apostasy

Being cheerful and confident amid the collapse of cultural Christianity

I read two things today that encouraged me. Though they are on separate topics, they are kind of the same topic.

First up is a great essay at 9Marks. It is titled:

Cheerful Confidence after Christendom

It is apparent to even the most casual observer that cultural Christianity is dying. I’ve used the term “cultural collapse of Christianity” and others speak of ‘post-Christian era’ and 9Marks essay author Timothy Larsen says “dissolution of Christendom” but it all means the same thing, the end of an era. Mr Larsen explains it well and encourages us to relish the time such as this in which the Lord in His plan and wisdom put us. Being joyful and confident and triumphant in a time of evil and darkness and uncertainty will be an anomaly to one and all. Here is a short excerpt from Mr Larsen’s essay:

THANK GOD FOR GRANTING US NOW

God has granted me the privilege to live now—in my own times. To wish otherwise is not only pointless, it is ungrateful. It is also self-defeating. Every season of life has its own joys. Foolishness is to want to have the joys of adulthood when still a teenager or the joys of adolescence when middle aged and so on.

Likewise, there are unique joys, privileges, and opportunities for serving God in each generation. We are called not to hanker after a different age, but rather to jump in with relish to following Christ at this moment. There is an old Puritan saying: “If you would make the greatest success of your life, try to discover what God is doing in your time, and fling yourself into the accomplishment of his purpose and will.”

YES, THERE ARE UNIQUE CHALLENGES

Our times, of course, have unique challenges. We are witnessing the dissolution of Christendom. Christendom was a long period of time in the West when Christian commitments and beliefs were buoyed up by political and cultural supports. In Christendom, there were worldly incentives to at least pretend to believe Christian doctrine and to observe Christian practices. To do so was good for one’s professional and social success.

The other item that was encouraging was another of Phil Johnson’s sermons on the Psalms. It is an exposition of Psalm 122. The sermon is titled “A Foretaste of Glory Divine

So many Christians moan and groan about life, because they either do not study the prophetic scriptures to know what’s coming, or they don’t have an eternal perspective, or both. Mr Johnson expertly and beautifully opens the Psalm to us and eloquently describes the manifold and unspeakable glories to come. Here is but a taste: (and it is much better heard than read, but if you have connection problems a transcription is available.)

What Jerusalem was to David, the church is to you and me. It is the dwelling-place of God. It is a living, breathing, holy convocation of God’s people, who gather to worship Him in unison. It is the very same fellowship of saints that will one day culminate in a heavenly convocation. It is a place of safety from the evils of a decadent world. It is a place where God’s authority is acknowledged and submitted to with gladness. It is an oasis of divine grace in a desert of corruption. It is quite literally a foretaste of glory divine.

The greatest joy in heaven the centerpiece of it all will be the unspeakable glory of God. God’s full glory will be on permanent display, and you will be able to see it with an unhindered view: examine it, and bask in it, and reflect it in all its perfection. You will be able to stand in the resplendence of that glory without any sense of guilt or shame. You will have a pure love for God that exceeds any love you have ever known. And the natural, inevitable, joyous response of your heart will be pure worship.

Please do take these two items as a matched pair. Be encouraged that you were placed here by the wisdom of God for just such a time as this, and that we have unspeakable joys to look forward to…SOON!

Public Domain
Posted in christianity, integrity, missionaries, news, test all things

Christian Martyrs about to be executed, or mind-controlled North Koreans mourning their dictator?

North Korea is the most closed nation on earth. Extracting any reliable information from that closed dictator-led nation is near impossible. Still, reports leak out. Depending on the source, some of them are more reliable than others.

There is a recent report that the new dictator, Kim Jong Un, son of the old dictator, Kim Jong Il, held a mass public execution last November 3. November you say, and we’re just hearing about it now? That is how slowly real news leaves the closed and mysterious country of North Korea. If the reports are true at all.

The reports say that the executions were held publicly with children forced to watch. There was no clear reason why the executions were held, other than for some infractions such as owning a bible or watching a South Korean film.

There are more recent reports that the dictator has ordered the execution of 33 Christians, for the crime of having had contact with a South Korean Baptist missionary. Those reports seem more reliable.  Read more here.

I am extremely saddened by these events. We are told that Christians throughout the Church Age will be persecuted or even killed for the faith. It doesn’t make knowing the fact of them happening in front of our faces any easier to take.

However, something that diminishes the honor due missionaries and martyrs who give their life on earth for the faith in a brutal, lonely death is when undiscerning Christians, well-meaning no doubt, fall for easily discovered ruses. Like this:

Accompanying the recent story about the November executions, often appears this photo of alleged about-to-be killed North Korean Christians-

These are not Christians. These are not believers about to be killed. These are young North Koreans mourning the death of their beloved Kim Jong Il, AKA “Dear Leader”, “Superior Person” and “Father of the People.” The are victims, brainwashed and mind-controlled atheists in a locked country, suddenly bereft of their ‘god.’

How do I know this? A 5 second google search yielded this photo published in Russia Today in December 2011, not March 2014. The headline to the article in which this photo originally appeared states,

Kim Jong-il dead: Grief & mass hysteria in North Korea (VIDEO)

And the caption states, “Pyongyang residents react as they mourn over the death of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang (Kyodo / Reuters)”

Please, if we are to test all things regarding what we are taught by bible teachers and preachers, then let’s extend that to testing Christian news before we pass along information about missionaries and martyrs. Far too often on Facebook, twitter, or other social media and blogs, I find mindlessly repeated hoaxes, false information, and just plain obvious ruses that diminish the credibility of Christians. Let’s stay as pure as we can, on behalf of the One of whom we speak. Check it out before you pass it along. In other words, Google is your friend.

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Now as to some real news about a N. Korean missionary, this is from Voice of the Martyrs-

North Korea: Missionary Released

UPDATE #2
After being detained for two weeks for attempting to distribute gospel tracts in North Korea, John Short, 75, was released by North Korean authorities on March 2. The Australian missionary, who resides in Hong Kong with his wife, had traveled to Pyongyang as part of a regular tour group on Feb. 15. The following day, he was questioned about the gospel tracts and subsequently detained. Upon his release, he was flown to Beijing, where he was met by officials from the Australian embassy. He is expected to return to his home in Hong Kong.

UPDATE #1
Praise God that North Korean officials deported John Short to Beijing on March 2, 2014.

ORIGINAL STORY
Australian missionary John Short, 75, was questioned and detained by North Korean authorities on Feb. 16., reportedly after police learned of gospel tracts in his possession.

Short, who has lived in Hong Kong with his wife for the past 50 years, traveled to Pyongyang on Feb. 15 with a tour group, and police questioned him at his hotel the next day about the Korean-language gospel tracts that he was carrying. Officials reportedly asked him who translated the material into Korean, who sent him and to what organization he belongs.

Short’s wife was informed of his detention by a member of the tour group who was allowed to leave on Feb. 18. The tour company has made repeated calls to North Korea, but officials have refused to provide any information.

North Korea is considered the worst persecutor of Christians in the world. Although its constitution provides for freedom of religion, the practice of any non-state-sanctioned religious activity is prohibited. Possessing a Bible, praying to God or Jesus, and meeting with other Christians all are punishable by death.

The Australian government is working on Short’s behalf through its embassy in South Korea and has also requested help from Sweden, which has an embassy in Pyongyang.

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Here is one account of a martyr we will meet in heaven, killed under Diocletian’s persecution beginning in 304AD. From Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

Agrape, Chionia, and Irene, three sisters, were seized upon at Thessalonica, when Diocletian’s persecution reached Greece. They were burnt, and received the crown of martyrdom in the flames, March 25, A.D. 304. The governor, finding that he could make no impression on Irene, ordered her to be exposed naked in the streets, which shameful order having been executed, a fire was kindled near the city wall, amidst whose flames her spirit ascended beyond the reach of man’s cruelty. 

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O, for the day when we are all beyond reach of man’s cruelty, under the shelter of the arms of Jesus! When all children will be translated instantly to a place of safety and love. When the aged and infirm receive their resurrected, glorified bodies and can run and leap in joy toward Jesus and kneel without pain at His feet. When persecution is no longer a word in our vocabulary and it has lost all power to instill fear or cause death. That day is coming, brothers and sisters, it is coming.

Posted in christianity, john macarthur, paul washer, tony miano

Ambrose Bierce on the Silent Christian

Our pastor said that we should not be silent Christians. The next day once again I came across Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. His book is a satirical reference book which lampoons hypocrisy in politics, law, religion and culture. I looked up what he had to say on certain religious topics. It has been a few years.

On Religiosity:

Religion, n. A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.
“What is your religion my son?” inquired the Archbishop of Rheims.
“Pardon, monseigneur,” replied Rochebriant; “I am ashamed of it.”
“Then why do you not become an atheist?”
“Impossible! I should be ashamed of atheism.”
“In that case, monsieur, you should join the Protestants.”

On Carnal Christians:

Repentance, n. The faithful attendant and follower of Punishment. It is usually manifest in a degree of reformation that is not inconsistent with continuity of sin.

On our Sinful State:

Man, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.

On Neighbors:

Neighbor, n. One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and who does all he knows how to make us disobedient.

Then I read this Paul Washer quote on Twitter. He has a point, doesn’t he?!

If you notice in the New Testament, the invitation comes in the form of an authoritative command. Repent and believe! ~Paul Washer 

Isn’t it great when we see mature preachers proclaiming the word of God! Who doesn’t thrill in their heart when they see a Paul Washer unapologetically proclaiming his fear of the LORD, his persistence in confronting sin, and his humble explanation of the blood of Jesus!

Who doesn’t love to see Tony Miano’s calm love reaching out to angry people on the street?

Who doesn’t stand in admiration of John MacArthur’s poise while graciously continuing to proclaim Jesus even when heckled during the Christmas concert, never stumbling but even reaching his hand out to the person and asking to speak to him later.

These are mature men of the faith, whom I look up to.

But the proclamation of Jesus and Him crucified (and resurrected!) is not just for mature men. It is for me, too. I exhort us to proclaim Him boldly, but do I? Sometimes I do not. Sometimes I faint in fear or swallow my tongue.

So when I say let’s be bold this year, let’s keep exhorting for His return even though the culture mocks eschatology, let’s not swerve from confronting sin even though the culture eviscerates us for it, let’s vow to know nothing among us but Christ and Him crucified…I mean me too!

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 
1 Corinthians 2:2

Posted in christianity, everest, jiro dreams of sushi

Movie Review: "Jiro Dreams of Sushi", and a Christian comment about this secular movie

I watched a foreign film called Jiro Dreams of Sushi. It was the documentary about a Japanese chef who is the world’s premier sushi chef. He is the oldest chef to ever receive three Michelin stars (the most). He has been making sushi for 76 years. He is 86 years old. He was 85 when they made the documentary.

The movie showed Jiro Ono’s work ethic and his attempt to make each and every piece of sushi better than the last. He has spent his life striving for perfection. To that end, he has become world renowned. His sushi dinner costs $300 and diners must make a reservation over a month in advance.

Jiro Ono

The documentary focused on each aspect of running the restaurant and making the food: the rice from purchase to serving; the fish, each kind. For example, the octopus is usually massaged for 30 minutes to tenderize it, but at Jiro’s it is massaged for 50-60 minutes. We were shown the fish market and all that goes into selecting the shrimp, tuna, and eel, among other fish. How Jiro caters to each guest individually. We see his knife skills and he discusses his life philosophy. The documentary also shows him as a man living a life; biking to work, raising children, visiting friends on a rare day off.

Jiro, right with his eldest son, left.

He was abandoned at age 9 by his alcoholic father and his mother kicked him out, saying “You have no home to come back to.” He apprenticed in a sushi restaurant at age 10 and for the next 75 years, this is what he has been doing, 18 hours a day, day in and day out. When he is not doing it, he is thinking about it, and when he is not thinking about it, he is dreaming of it.

The movie itself contains nothing objectionable. There are no profanities, no lascivious women or men, and everyone is dressed appropriately. There was a scene at the Buddhist cemetery, which was sad because it was not a Christian cemetery where there would be hope of reunion one day.

Jiro’s Son Yoshikazu bikes to the Fish Market

Blogger Travis Wagner remarked of the documentary, it is an “endearing reflection on the life of an accomplished and hard-working individual.” Quite true. The film is certainly that.

All in all I enjoyed the movie for seeing slices of modern Japanese life, and for the sushi itself, which was marvellously filmed and poetically presented. The movie is on Netflix and is subtitled.

The Christian comment I’d like to make is about shokunin. Jiro strives after a Japanese philosophy called shokunin. This life philosophy is defined here.

The Japanese word shokunin is defined by both Japanese and Japanese-English dictionaries as ‘craftsman’ or ‘artisan,’ but such a literal description does not fully express the deeper meaning. The Japanese apprentice is taught that shokunin means not only having technical skills, but also implies an attitude and social consciousness. … The shokunin has a social obligation to work his/her best for the general welfare of the people. This obligation is both spiritual and material, in that no matter what it is, the shokunin’s responsibility is to fulfill the requirement.” – Tasio Odate

Another man wrote about shokunin here,

One of the most important things I have learnt about in Japan is the spirit of Shokunin. It means craftsmanship, however it is much more than that. One of the essential things is to make something for the joy of making it, and to do it carefully, beautifully, and to your utmost best of your ability. In Japan one can see this in the incredible delicate designs, or amazing machinery, and even the pride and perfection of even the cleaning staff. Similarly for a student, designer, or technologist, if you can have the Shokunin spirit you can learn to strive for innovation and make something, not only think of something, but make it, to as much as possible perfection.”

Jiro is climbing the mountain of perfection. He said in the movie, “I want to be at the top. Except nobody knows where the top is.”

He admitted that in his pursuit of shokunin, he worked so many hours and was not present in raising his two boys. He left at 5AM and returned at 10PM, departing and returning after they were asleep. Once, his son saw him at home on Sunday and half joked “Mama, there is a strange man sleeping in our house!”

In another scene he and his son went to a different town to perform a ritual at the Buddhist graveyard. They watered the plant of his parents’ grave and they are supposed to say prayers, which the son did. Jiro muttered, “I don’t know why we come here. They didn’t take care of me.” His son stopped his praying and bowing, and responded, “Shhh! Do not say that in front of the ancestors!”

Overall I was saddened by this cinematic peek into the chef Jiro and Japanese life. I thought about the difference in our lives Jesus makes.

I mentioned that he is a shokunin, where he pursues a life philosophy of service through trying to achieve perfection. In Jiro’s case, his love of fish and his culinary talent had driven him toward a life philosophy of perfect service through presentation of perfect dishes to his customers for a perfect culinary experience.

At the end of one of the dinner services, the well-heeled customers were nodding and smiling and bowing as Japanese do, honoring Jiro for his skill and complimenting him on his efforts.

So, absent the Holy Spirit, what is the point of a life striven for perfection, working 18 hour days and dreaming of sushi? When Jiro dies, he will go to hell and what will be his legacy? Nothing. Smoke, disappearing even now as I type this. Do people remember a remarkable meal? Sometimes, for a while. Usually not. It is a fleshly consumption satisfying fleshly appetites, good for nothing except to keep us alive a day longer.

Colossians 3:23 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men”

Sadly, Jiro is working for men.

Jiro’s obvious ability produced nothing, while the fruit of the Spirit shapes our talents for God-given purposes, honing those talents & abilities into a legacy that glorifies the Son, eternally. That is the difference between a non-believer’s talent and a God-given gift.

Jiro unfortunately is the example the Preacher mentioned in Ecclesiastes 2:24-26.

THE VANITY OF TOIL


“There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? For to the one who pleases him God has given wisdom and knowledge and joy, but to the sinner he has given the business of gathering and collecting, only to give to one who pleases God. This also is vanity and a striving after wind.”

1 Peter 4:7-11 is about the speaking gifts and the serving gifts.

“The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins. Show hospitality to one another without grumbling. As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies—in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”

One may ask, “What is the difference between a talent and a gift?”

The difference is Jiro and shokunin. The comment Jiro made in the documentary summed up the non-Christian life. “I want to be at the top. But nobody knows where the top is.”

He understands that the top is- to use a visual example- in the clouds like the summit of Mt Everest, unscalable and hidden. It is unattainable on our own power. The top is not hidden to us Christians, though. And when one is in Christ using His gift of the Spirit for its proper use, the clouds clear and the sun glints off the snow capped top of the peak and you know that someday, you will be up there with the One who is shining that light. Jesus.

Working for Jesus makes all the difference even in the most mundane or boring of jobs. The point of working for Jesus is eternal joy in pleasing the eternal savior, a legacy that extends to heaven, and expansion of the kingdom, and pure joy in serving for His sake.

When his life inevitably ends, Jiro and all who are outside of Jesus will find that a life philosophy of shokunin was wildly off the mark. Being in Jesus, I know where ‘the top’ is, and that makes all the difference.

The Atlantic
Posted in archeology, christianity, cross, discovery

Was part of the cross of Jesus found?

It seems like there have been a slew of archaeological finds related to the bible or Jesus lately. Here is another.

Piece Of Jesus’ Cross Found? Archaeologists Discover ‘Holy Thing’ In Balatlar Church In Turkey
Archaeologists working in Turkey believe they have found a piece of the cross that Jesus was crucified on. While excavating the ancient Balatlar Church, a seventh-century building in Sinop, Turkey, on the shores of the Black Sea, they uncovered a stone chest that contained objects that may be directly connected with Jesus Christ. Excavation head Professor Gülgün Köroğlu definitively stated:

We have found a holy thing in a chest. It is a piece of a cross, and we think it was [part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified]. This stone chest is very important to us. It has a history and is the most important artifact we have unearthed so far.

The stone chest has been taken to a laboratory for further testing. However, the appearance of the chest suggests that it was a repository for the relics of a holy person, according to the team, who showed reporters at the site a stone with crosses carved into it. Many churches claim to possess relics of the so-called “true cross,” though the authenticity of the items is not fully accepted by scholars and scientists. Protestant theologian John Calvin noted that, “if all the pieces that could be found were collected together, they would make a big ship-load,” referring specifically to the cross.

“Ship-load.” Yup. That’s about the size of it. When I traveled through Italy, there was a relic in every church. “Here is a piece of John the Baptist’s finger!” Or “Here is a part of Jesus’ garment!” Or “Look at this shard of the goblet at the last supper!” Or “here is a bone from Saint Peter!” I admit the body parts floating in reliquaries was ghoulish in the extreme.

Turkey is a Muslim state. We often forget that it is the cradle of Christianity. The seven churches were there. Some believe that western Turkey was the location of the Garden of Eden

It is believed that agriculture began in Turkey. Earliest man grew things there. Perhaps Cain? (Genesis 4:2-3).

Two days ago, the site at Laodikeia was added to the UNESCO historical sites

This link has a list of other recent discoveries

This is from last week-
Israeli Archaeologists Claim to Have Found a Palace of King David

We revere the Man-God who was hung on the cross, and we remember the cross, but we do not revere the cross itself. It is a wooden piece, passing away and decomposing, but Jesus will never pass away nor will His word pass away. (Matthew 24:37). Can you imagine the frenzy to “test” this piece of wood for DNA? To “test” it to prove or disprove Christianity?

Our faith rests not on relics but on the living Jesus and His sterling word. The cross won’t be in heaven, but Jesus will be. And that is all that matters. We long to be where He is, resurrected and ruling in perfection and justice.

Posted in carnival triumph, christianity, mocking, MSNBC

MSNBC reporter takes mic from woman who is about to quote the bible

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

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For a long time, America’s stand on religious freedom was a vanguard that allowed Christianity a more full expression than it has been allowed in other countries. It was only in my generation that public prayer was removed from schools (1962) and after that the slow but steadily increasing attacks of public expression of Christianity became common in the masses. I was born in 1960 so I have witnessed the movement of a tipping point from entrenched Christianity in all aspects of public and private life, to one of mocking and marginalization in the extreme. It’s amazing how fast Christianity has become hated in this most ‘Christian’ of nations.

Mocking and marginalization, of course, is not persecution. I am reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs and what American Christians are experiencing is nothing like Christians have endured since the time of the Apostles up until now in other countries. But we are seeing a rapid decline in tolerance for Christianity, and Christians in general, and this will quickly lead to the prophesied persecution that will come upon the whole world. (Revelation 12:17, Revelation 13:7, Revelation 20:4).

I think Americans have been insulated from the very real fact of the verse which speaks to this. In 1 Corinthians 1:18, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”

If you have been a Christian for very long, I know that you have heard a non-Christian either directly tell you or indirectly say that you’re a moron for believing in Christ. That is because it is written that they will say that. The verse above, where is says the cross is ‘foolishness’, comes from a Greek word meaning moron. Here is how Strong’s defines the word moros:

“dull, flat (“without an edge”); mentally inert, dull in understanding; nonsensical (“moronic”), lacking a grip on reality, acting as though “brainless”.

And that is exactly what the non-Christian thinks of us.

I noted on twitter that I believe bible prophecy. That was all I said. The response was this:

“You like most believers have clearly not read the bible. Scrolled to the bottom & clicked I agree like a software agreement.”

It is the usual charge: the non-saved (perishing) world thinks Christians are brainwashed into a kind of opiate-laden stupidity, not sheep, but dull cows, munching mindlessly on cud that pastors force feed us.

The simmering intolerance of Christians is a slow boil that is going to erupt into a fury when the rapture comes. The Restrainer (Holy Spirit who restrains sin) is going to allow sin to have its full measure. What satan has been quietly building in the hearts of the depraved is going to erupt in an indignant, latent ferocious rage that will shock the left-behind fence-sitters who convert early. Non-saved people already think we are too stupid to live. In the Tribulation, they will kill us. What we see in the news reporter is a live reaction to what Paul says is the stumbling block of Christ. (1 Corinthians 18:23).

In the following clip from Newsbusters, originally airing on MSNBC (a very liberal channel) you see an interviewer asking two young ladies of their reactions to once again being on dry land. The two were on the aborted Carnival cruise where the ship had a fire and went powerless for days in the Gulf. The news reporter’s reaction the moment the girl brought up the Lord and the bible is a classic, living example of the Corinthians verse. And, the verse she was trying to get out is above. This blog essay opened with it. Now, isn’t that a comfort and a nice thing to say? Yet the non-saved newscaster was too afraid to even listen to a word of comfort, benign as it was. Below is the transcript, in case you can’t watch a video, and the clip is after that. I have titled the clip:

Aaargh! For the love of Zeus, don’t quote the bible!

“As stranded Carnival Cruise passengers began finally disembarking in Mobile, Alabama, late Thursday evening, MSNBC had NBC News correspondent Mark Potter on the scene to speak with them. One young lady during her over three minute interview tried to cite a Bible verse that helped her get through the ordeal, but Potter pulled his microphone away and quickly ended the discussion (video follows with transcript and commentary):”

http://www.mrctv.org/embed/120006

MARK POTTER, MSNBC REPORTER: It sounded like you guys handled it pretty well. Were there some passengers who seemed to have a really rough time on board?

BRITTANY FERGUSON, RETURNING STRANDED CARNIVAL CRUISE PASSENGER: Oh, absolutely.

POTTER: Tell me about that.

FERGUSON: Well there, it was just really frustrating. There’s rumors going around because we’re completely disconnected. We had no idea if like, “Oh my gosh, do people even miss us? Do people even know about this?”

KENDALL JENKINS, RETURNING STRANDED CARNIVAL CRUISE PASSENGER: They’d be running “extended vacation.” I’d be saying, “Absolutely not.”

FERGUSON: Yeah, not an extended vacation.

POTTER: And would you do this again? Would you take another cruise, or is this it?

JENKINS: No. We’re thinking about teaming up and sell ours. So if anyone is looking for a discounted cruise, we got one.

POTTER: You’re not about to go back?

JENKINS: No, but one thing I do want to say that really made a huge difference in my time versus some other people’s time is we knew where hope was. We knew the Lord was in complete control of the situation. Our verse for the trip was Joshua 1:9 which is…

POTTER: [Takes microphone away] Okay, well thank you both very much. Enjoy your trip home to Houston and enjoy that first warm shower and that warm meal. Thank you very much. Thanks for talking with us.

JENKINS: [Before walking away] Joshua 1:9, look that up.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9)

Posted in christian persecution, christianity, jesus

Anti-Christian hatred is rising

Hatred. Hatred of each other, Hatred toward God. Vicious hatred of Jesus. It is all rising.

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18).

“The righteous detest the dishonest; the wicked detest the upright.” (Proverbs 29:27)

“All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

“Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.” (1 John 3:13)

In Jerusalem, Christianity is increasingly targeted. The Jerusalem Post reports, “Vandals ‘price tag’ Jerusalem monastery
“JERUSALEM, Oct. 2 Assailants vandalized the Franciscan Convent on Jerusalem’s Mount Zion early Tuesday morning, in the third price tag attack against a Christian site this year. According to police, vandals spray-painted the words “price tag” and “Jesus is a bastard” on the door of the convent, located adjacent to the Dormition Abbey cathedral. … Assistant commander Moshe Bareket, chief of the David precinct in Jerusalem, confirmed that police were notified of the incident early Tuesday morning by a priest. “We will do everything we can to get to the bottom of whoever spray-painted these sentences,” Bareket said outside the convent.” (photo source)

It was not the first time that extremists had vandalized the church, and every few months authorities have to deal with some kind of graffiti in the area, the article states. Vandals scrawled “Jesus is a monkey” in large orange letters on the outside of the Latrun monastery. They also burned the wooden door at the monastery entrance. earlier this year, at the Valley of the Cross Monastery in Jerusalem, cars and a fence were covered with anti-Christian graffiti, and cars’ tires were slashed. The vandals wrote “Jesus drop dead,” “Death to Christians” and “Kahane was right.”

Though the hate-vandals are as yet unknown to authorities, the media outlet Russia Today displayed their own bias when they reported on the incident, by blaming Israeli settlers. The reporter wrote:

“Radical Jewish settlers vandalized a Christian church outside of Jerusalem, spray-painting “Jesus is a bastard” and “price tag” on its outer door. Such attacks have been on the rise despite police promises to curb hate crimes in the Holy Land.”

I must make a point. Most of the secular world and much of the Christian world believes Catholicism to be part of the Christian faith. Catholicism is not. It is a false religion. However, idolaters don’t know that and they target Monasteries anyway.

A horrific attack on a church service for children targeted a Christian church in Nairobi, Kenya this week. Worthy News reports, “A grenade attack by suspected Islamist militants rocked an Anglican church in Kenya’s capital Nairobi killing a nine-year-old boy and injuring several others, the church and police said Sunday, September 30. The blast occurred during a Sunday school service for young children at the Anglican Saint Polycarp Church, which lies in the Pangani district on the outskirts of Nairobi.” (photo source)

I read in one comment stream, “nothing a good Interfaith potluck supper won’t solve, eh?”

They hate Jesus.

“But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause.” (John 15:25)

And they hate the faithful. Take heart. If they hate Jesus and they hate us because of Jesus, we are in good company! They may hate us, but we love each other! If you are in a part of the world where grenades are not being lobbed at your kids just for being Christian (hatred without cause) then please pray for those who are. And if you are in a part of the world where just living for Christ is cause for death, take heart. WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU!

Posted in christianity, Jackie Hill, jig-a-boo, slavery

YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS: Jackie Hill performs jig-a-boo

P4CM presents Rhetoric 2012, the largest Christian Poetry event. Featured P4CM Poet Jackie Hill delivered her poem “Jig-A-Boo” in front of an audience of nearly 3,000 people. It’s about complacent Christians who tolerate false teachers, and it is powerful stuff. Powerful, powerful. I found it at Erin Benzinger’s Do not Be Surprised blog, and also at Tim Challies