Posted in faith, foxe's book of martyrs, prosperity gospel

Sunday Martyr Moment: Of pious blood, and prosperity Gospel

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

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

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Text from Foxe’s Book of Martyrs

The Seventh Persecution, Under Decius, A.D. 249

Karitena, municipal seat of ancient Gortyna, Greece

Lucius, the governor of Crete, ordered Cyril, the 84-year-old overseer of the church at Gortyna, to be arrested for refusing to obey the edict to perform sacrifices to the idols. When Cyril appeared before him, Lucius exhorted him to perform the sacrifices and thereby save himself from a horrible death. the godly man replied that he had long taught others the way to eternal life in Christ, and now he must stand firm for the sake of his own soul. He displayed no fear when Lucius condemned him to be burned at the stake, and suffered the flames joyously and with great courage.

The persecution raged in no place more than the Island of Crete; for the governor, being exceedingly active in executing the imperial decrees, that place streamed with pious blood.

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“God wants to increase you financially, by giving you promotions, fresh ideas and creativity.”
“God wants us to have healthy, positive self-images, to see ourselves as priceless treasures.  He wants us to feel good about ourselves.”
“You will often receive preferential treatment simply because your Father is the King of kings, and His glory and honor spill over onto you.” 
“If you develop an image of victory, success, health, abundance, joy, peace, and happiness, nothing on earth will be able to hold those things from you…”
“It’s going to happen… Suddenly, your situation will change for the better…He will bring your dreams to pass.”
~~Joel Osteen

 If Foxe’s Book of Martyrs isn’t enough of a rebuke against the Prosperity Gospel, I don’t know what is.

Posted in contend, faith, false doctrine, jude

False teachers and contending instead of tolerating

Jesus said that one way we will be able to tell it is the end times is that false teachers will come. It has been the end time since He ascended and the latter days will end when He returns, but nonetheless, He also said that the end will come like a flood, and will be like birth pains. In other words, from the beginning of the period to the end, things will get worse and worse:

“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13)

Actually, when the disciples asked about the signs of the end of the age, the first sign Jesus gave was that there will be deception:

photo credit: delete08 via photopin cc

“As he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?” And Jesus answered them, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray.” (Matthew 24:3-5).

When Paul wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:1, Paul said that ‘dangerous times will come’. That was a prophecy. John MacArthur expounds on the verses:

“The word “times” is the word “seasons” or epochs. And the picture here is the idea that during the period of the church age there will be seasons when the church is under great danger in perilous perilous condition. This is primarily due to the encroachment on the church of false teachers and false doctrine. Verse 13 says, “Evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.”

Evil men, impostors who come into the church rising from within become a tremendous danger to the church. False teachers and their product, false doctrine, and their converts, false Christians, are inevitable in the life of the church and exceedingly dangerous. We look at the church today and we know we’re in dangerous times. The church as we speak of it in the largest sense, Christianity or Christendom, is mixed up with all kinds of things. It is literally filled with false teachers propagating false doctrine being believed by false converts or false Christians. The church is filled with men and women who deny Scripture in their theology, who deny Scripture in their living.

The church tolerates that false teaching, tolerates that ungodly living. Even in some cases justifies it quite as it did in Ephesus where Timothy was when he received this letter from Paul. Only today it’s far worse than it was then because evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse and worse as you come closer to the coming of Christ.

We are 2,000 years nearer the coming of our Lord than the church at Ephesus and we then have to suffer the accumulation of deceit and false teaching through all of those centuries that is now encroaching upon the church today.”

The word ‘accumulation’ is a great way to put it. Not only has false teaching accumulated, more is coming in every day, in greater force and in greater number.

photo credit: PhotKing ♛ via photopin cc

Therefore, we know by the word of God that we are living in dangerous times and what is causing the danger is false doctrine. It is causing persecution from without and contentions from within. We usually think of danger as things like machine guns or unbalanced madmen, but in reality false teaching is a machine gun that kills just as surely as bullets do, and it is brought by unbalanced madmen who can’t think straight (Ephesians 4:17 and Romans 1:21).

With the fact of coming flood of false doctrine established, let’s turn to Jude for a moment. Jude 1:3 says says what to do about it,

“Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3)

Jude wrote that though he had other plans for his letter’s content, something had arisen which changed his mind. He used very strong language to indicate that his intent had been changed and he must now address a different topic. Various translations use the word

–necessary
–compelled
–must
–needful

When Jude uses the word compelled or necessary, or must, he is using the Greek word anankēn, a root of anagke. This word means literally to “compress or to press tight. In human terms it indicates a compelling need requiring immediate action, i.e. in a pressing situation. The definition also means it calls for timely help, i.e. strong force needed to accomplish something compulsory or absolutely required.” (Strong’s)

Gills Exposition says of the verse, “by the “faith” is meant the doctrine of faith, in which sense it is used whenever faith is said to be preached, obeyed, departed, or erred from, or denied, or made shipwreck of, or when exhortations are made to stand fast, and continue in it

Jude found it necessary to warn the brethren to take action regarding the existing evils in the Church. Jude used the strongest terms possible to urge them to fight for the faith. By faith, Jude means doctrine.

photo credit: Icky Pic via photopin cc

Yet we are living in strange times. Just as false doctrine is permeating everywhere, we are told to tolerate it. Just as people of the faith are littering the sea of the church in shipwrecks, we are told to step over them as they lay gasping and dying, so as not to offend them.

Jude did not say, “I planned to write to you about our common salvation but I see that false doctrine is coming in. If you think of it, would you address this? If you get a chance? Either way. But if someone makes a charge of intolerance or says that you are not loving by doing this, back off immediately and pray for forgiveness for your offense.”

Jude did not say, “There may be a false thing we need to take care of, but that’s for later. First, witness to the people by your actions, not your words, so they will see you’re not a hypocrite. Then after a few years when you’ve established a relationship based on common interests and mutual trust, mention to them delicately, without naming names! that sometimes false doctrine comes in. If you feel led. Or not.”

Brethren, it is obvious that addressing false doctrine is a must. Jude said to contend. Contending is contentious. That’s a fact. I’m not saying to BE contentious. But there is emotional and spiritual turmoil associated with combating false doctrine.

This is because people who gravitate to false doctrine are deceived, and no one likes to be told they are being deceived. There is intellectual pride there which must be dealt with by the person, and sometimes they get angry at you for exposing this to them. People who follow false teachers do so because the teacher’s teaching is comforting them in their flesh, and excising the flesh is always painful. (2 Timothy 2:17, Mark 9:47). People cling to false teaching because they like it. No one enjoys being told that something they like is bad for them. They have already invested too much, and their pride, comfort, personal reputation etc.  is now tied into it.

photo credit: remuz [Jack The Ripper] via photopin cc

What does contending look like in practical terms? If you have a conversation with someone and they mention they enjoy watching Joyce Meyer, the person should be told that Joyce Meyer is a false teacher preaching heresy. If you have all the facts at your disposal, perhaps you can tell them this immediately. But more likely it is better to draw back, pray, gather the facts of why she is false and also why it is important to tell the person she is false, and take her aside at another time. This is what Priscilla and Aquila did for Apollos. (Acts 18:24-28). He was a brother, he just had some facts wrong.

John Ed Mathison writes,

They took him aside!
“How do you deal with people when they have made a mistake and obviously you know how to help them? Knowing what to do is sometimes not as important as how we do it. In Acts 18:24 there was an interesting man by the name of Apollos who had become a convert to the Christian faith. He became a fervent disciple. He desired to teach and share his faith. His enthusiasm seemed to outrun the grounding of his intellectual understanding of God’s truth. He began to make a few errors. How do you handle somebody who is in error? It is easy to confront the person in front of a lot of people and make yourself look good by showing them their faults. Sometimes the practice is to go to somebody and tell them what someone else is doing wrong, without confronting the person who is actually making the mistake. Some people simply “pray about it.” Some people criticize the errors in an indirect manner. Priscilla and Aquila did the right thing. The Bible says “They took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately.” (Acts 18:26) They didn’t embarrass him. They didn’t pull rank on him. They took him aside in order to be helpful to him.”

Paul took another tack. When Peter was engaged in false doctrine and had done nothing to refute it, Paul opposed Peter to his face. (Galatians 2:11-14). Paul waded into the fray, willing to take the pain of conflict in contending with Peter, in order to defend the truth of the gospel. You see the emergency portion of the verse, “even Barnabas was led astray.” (Galatians 2:13). Failure to confront false doctrine means others get hurt! In the Galatians situation, Jews and Gentiles were split! Peter was passive, not leading in the authority of his office! Confusion, not unity, reined! And poor Barnabas was being led away by satan.

Roger R. Nicole said of contending for the faith in his article “How to deal with those who differ from me” (.pdf here), “We are called upon by the Lord to contend earnestly for the faith (Jude 3). That does not necessarily involve being contentious; but it does involve avoiding compromise, standing forth for what we believe, standing forth for the truth of God—without welching at any particular moment.”

Ultimately, it is up to you to do your part. This means:

–reading the bible so you know when false doctrine comes in the first place
–staying prayed up so your relationship with Jesus is fresh and alive
–loving others enough to risk emotional turmoil when contending for the faith
–honoring Jesus by being a good soldier and fighting the good fight

It’s up to you also to decide whether to confront privately or publicly. I’ve done both as different cases arose. The bible shows us several ways to contend and therefore all are correct, but not all are equally applicable to each situation. How you contend is between you and the Holy Spirit, but it must be done. Paul and Jude made no bones about that.

Dan Rocha photo

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Further reading:

How to contend for the faith (2-min video)

The Berean Call: What does it mean to earnestly contend for the faith? 

The Christian Courier advises in their article, “Contend Earnestly for the Faith
“Contending Is Not Contentiousness. There are some who have yet to learn the difference between contending for the faith and being contentious for the faith. Contending for the faith is a balanced proclamation and defense of the fundamental elements of gospel truth, whereas contentiousness is a wrangling disposition that generates ill will over inconsequential matters.” More at the link

Posted in examine yourself, faith, false doctrine, false teachers

Why I get so upset at false teachers and false teaching, why I focus on the end time

Someone asked me this week why I focus on the end time. I answered that the end time is the time between Jesus’ ascension and His return, the Age of Grace. I focus on encouragement, discernment and the end time. With Jesus’s return as backdrop, I employ Spiritual gifts to exhort for a higher standard of witness and adherence to doctrine.

The point is, He could return at any time, and those left behind will face Tribulation such as no man has ever seen, no nor will ever again. (Matthew 24:21). This haunts me.

Alternately, lost people could die at any moment, their end time coming instantly and unexpectedly, and the spiritual things they put off will be forever sealed off to them. Their lost state will be the state they remain in for all eternity. This haunts me. Why wouldn’t a person want to continually remind people that this Age will not last forever and the Day prophesied will arrive?

Worse, there are many people who believe they are Christians and are going to heaven. They professed Jesus. They worked in His name. They sang hymns and proclaimed Him and prophesied (preached) in His name. But they fooled themselves. They weren’t saved.

“I Never Knew You: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” (Mathew 7:21-23)

This haunts me greatly.

The Lord sends His Spirit to deliver gifts to believers as He sees fit. (1 Corinthians 12:4). For me, he saw fit to give faith, prophecy, teaching and discernment. I’m extra-sensitive to false doctrines and teaching. I have a super-sensitivity to those who come under its sway. It is like I can see them falling off the cliff as they apostatize. I can see it. It is like this picture, which I haven’t been able to get off my mind since I came across it.

Art by Borislav Sajtinac

I hate false doctrine. I hate with with a holy, righteous passion. False doctrine is from hell. It kills. It destroys. It is a blasphemy against the precious person of Jesus, Savior and King. I hate it every day. I hate it because it sends people to hell. I hate it worst of all when it is tolerated in a false church, making false converts who bring up second generation daughters of hell twice as worse as them. (Matthew 23:15,  Revelation 2:22-23).

When we are glorified and the time comes for Jesus to line up the goats, and the dramatic scene from Matthew plays out, I will hear so many cry out, “Lord, Lord…” Many people will be shocked that they are in the goats line and not the narrow road to heaven following the sheep to eternal glory and rest. They’ll try to convince the Lord to let them in. But He will say “Depart from me, I never knew you…”.

If the moment when Jesus cried out to the “Father, Father, why have You forsaken me?” is the loneliest moment in the universe for all time…then the moment when the Lord tells those who cry and plead, “Depart from Me, I never knew you” has to be the most devastating.

I will be grateful that by then I’ll be glorified and completely in tune with the mind of Christ and understanding His holiness and justice, otherwise I would explode from grief. As it is at that moment I know I’ll praise Him.

For now on earth in the flesh, I feel grief. Exploding with grief that false teachers entice false converts to believe false doctrines, and they are all on the broad road. I want to cry out, shake them, “No, NO! Come back!” I feel their apostasy acutely. I feel it and I see it. It’s not just an intellectual exercise with me but a heart ministry.

Won’t it be great to be able to discuss true doctrine in the age of eternity.

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35)

“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14)

“They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.” (Isaiah 11:9)

For a prophetic-doctrine lady like me this will be heaven! And if anyone has any questions, they can walk up to Jesus and ask Him! Looking forward to being free from satan’s lies is right up there in my list of ‘things that will be great about heaven.’

“and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. ” (Revelation 20:10)

Good. Torment the bugger.

Back here on earth in this time of grace mixed with apostasy, so many are going away from us. John told us that would happen.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.” (1 John 2:19).

I praise the Lord for telling us ahead of time. It doesn’t make it any easier when I spot one who is going, though. It’s worse when they reject advances and sharing of truth. How devastating knowing that moment is fast approaching for millions who thought they were saved but were not, and will be rejected by Christ. They thought they had accepted Him but they had not! O, false doctrine, you deceiver! There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

“While the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 8:12)

“behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart, but you shall cry out for pain of heart and shall wail for breaking of spirit.” (Isaiah 65:14)

I know that the ones who will be rejected by Christ are not victims. It was because they chose to follow their lusts that they fell into the snare. (2 Timothy 4:3). Still, I feel for them, now and in their moment of shocking eternal condemnation.

People, examine yourselves to make sure of your faith.

“Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Corinthians 13:5)

Examine Yourselves Whether You Be in the Faith, Part 1
Examine Yourselves Whether You Be in the Faith, Part 2
Examine Yourself

 How do we examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith?

What Kind of a Christian Are You?

Posted in faith

Most people don’t believe

In reading the book of Luke through, something jumped out at me.

“And all were astonished at the majesty of God. But while they were all marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples,” (Luke 9:43)

Osteen’s Lakewood in Houston,

Over and over Luke recorded the teachings and miracles of Jesus. Crowds were gathering. The whole thing was like a snowball gathering speed as it hurtled down the mountain. At one point, the crowds were so thick, coming right to the edge of the lake, Jesus had to get into a boat and push off just so he could speak. (Mark 4:1). Thousands and thousands were following Him!

Jesus was huge! Everything was going great! The people were responding!

“and they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.” (Luke 4:32)

“And they were all amazed and said to one another, “What is this word? For with authority and power he commands the unclean spirits, and they come out!” (Luke 4:36)

“He said to them, “Where is your faith?” “and they marveled, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that he commands even winds and water, and they obey him?” (Luke 8:25b)

“Now he was casting out a demon that was mute. When the demon had gone out, the mute man spoke, and the people marveled.” (Luke 11:14)

As you read the book through, it becomes clear that nothing like this had ever happened in the Land, ever. The people were clamoring for Jesus, following him to see what would happen next.

And that is the problem.

Hillsong

They were responding, but not believing. There is a difference.

Do not mistake crowds and accolades and the words we see repeated over and over in this and the other gospels: astonished, marveled, amazed, for conviction of sin and a readiness to submit to the Spirit to be led into a transformed, submissive life before the Lord and Savior. There is a difference between surface interest and deep conviction. The people were going out to see Jesus to see what He would do, and they left chattering and excited, astonished at the show.

It is the same thing we see when crowds leave a blockbuster film, and the people stream out of the theater, chattering about how marvelous the special effects were, and how amazing was the scene where the thing blew up, and how astonished they were that the movie was so good.

Then they go home and forget about it. Till the next movie comes out.

Jesus was a really cool special effect.

Of all the years He spent in the Land, only 120 gathered in the upper room after His crucifixion. (Acts 1:13). Only 500 Galilean believers saw Him. (1 Corinthians 15:6). That is how few believed. Thousands upon thousands responded. Only 620 believed.

“And when all the believers that are in the southern part in Judea, in Jerusalem area, came to gather to meet together in that upper room after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, you remember there were only 120. The ministry of Jesus in Galilee, the ministry of Jesus in Jerusalem, the largest crowd in Galilee is 500 that came together in His name. And the largest one that came together in His name in the south is 120. It’s virtually unimaginable that the Son of God could come and say what He said and do what He did and demonstrate the kind of character that He did and have 620 people in His two-fold congregation. Staggering…staggering.” (source)

In the beginning of this piece I used a verse from Luke and there was a comma at the end of verse 43, indicating that Jesus was about to say something next. What was it that Jesus said to the disciples as the people were marvelling at His power to perform miracles?

A single Passion participant raises their hand
in worship during Passion Conference 2013. Photo by Casey Northcutt

“Let these words sink into your ears: The Son of Man is about to be delivered into the hands of men.” (Luke 9:44)

These same people who marveled, and were astonished and amazed, voted for Barabbas and rejected Jesus. Don’t be fooled by crowds and buzz. Believe a transformed life and fruits of the Spirit.

Jesus is not a spectacle and He is not a show. Jesus is the Holy God of the Universe, and He demands repentance for sins and belief in His resurrected Son. Do not mistake crowds and buzz for belief. As soon as the show was over and the hard work was before them, the crowds left. LOL, how many people ever stay afterwards to fold up the chairs and sweep the auditorium?

“When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?…After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” (John 6:60, 66).

Just remember, most people don’t believe.

“For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Matthew 22:14)

“Many will seek to enter in, and shall not be able” (Luke 13:24)”

“Strive earnestly to enter in by the narrow gate; for few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13, 14).”

If you are feeling giddy that revival seems to be breaking out, just remember, most people don’t believe. If you are despairing because few seem to believe, just remember, none who believe will be snatched out of God’s hand (John 10:29).

“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out.” (John 6:37).

Posted in discernment, ears tickled, faith, sound doctrine

Why Discernment is important, and what lack of discernment does to the body

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).

Why is sound doctrine important? At the World View Weekend conference in Branson MO, Mike Gendron explained why. A former Catholic for 30 years, Mr Gendron became saved. He left a career as a rocket scientist (really) and evangelizes widely. He is specifically ministers in bringing the Gospel to Catholics. A graduate of Dallas Theological Seminary, he writes at Proclaiming The Gospel. He said at the conference,

“Why there is so little discernment in the church? Preachers preach what the people want instead of what they need. They don’t want sound doctrine, so pastors give feel good messages that tickle their ears build up their self-esteem. So without sound doctrine many in the church today don’t really think it matters what you call a Christian as long as you label it Christianity…they want to feel good, not made good by the preaching of God’s word. … So what’s at stake if we abandon sound doctrine? The glory and honor of our great Lord. The purity of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Ultimately, the eternal destiny of those who are not hearing the truth from pulpits today. … Without discernment we will not know if we are believing and proclaiming the true gospel or a compromised distortion.”

Mr Gendron’s words echo what John MacArthur said, that lack of discernment is a number one problem today. In his sermon, Deliverance: From Sin to Righteousness, Part 2, we read,

“Today, as we’ve been saying, evangelical church and leaders are saying anyone who says he’s a Christian is a Christian. Anybody who says they believe in Jesus is a Christian…liberal, Protestants, charismatic, Roman Catholic, orthodox, sort of free-floating unattached people who believe in Jesus. Anybody who claims to be a Christian can be tested by truth and virtue. This is critical. Real deliverance produces a changed life.”

Remember not everyone who says they are a Christian IS a Christian. The proof is the fruit produced from a Holy Spirit empowered changed life. In order to even see fruit (or lack of fruit) we need to be discerning.

“If there’s any problem that outstrips all other problems in the church, it is this problem of a lack of discernment, the lack of spiritual discrimination because then everybody is vulnerable. And imagine living in a time when not only is the church undiscerning, but sees discernment as a threat to its life and unity. It’s just amazing. Widespread ignorance, shallow understanding of Scripture, superficiality interpreting the Bible, faulty reasoning, bad decisions just bring horrendous agony to the church. How foolish can we be? I mean, the Bible is so consistent in telling us beware of ear-tickling teachers, beware of departing from the faith, beware of heresies, doctrines of demons, destructive myths, perverse teachings, commandments of men, speculations, controversial issues, old wives fables, deceitful spirits, worldly tales, false knowledge, science falsely so-called, empty philosophy, traditions of men, worldly wisdom, adulterations of the Scripture and on and on and on and on.” “The Responsibilities of the Church

“As a result, evangelical Christianity, listen to this, is fighting for its very life. I’ll say that again, evangelical Christianity, in my view, is fighting for its very life. And our time cries out for people with discernment.” “A Call for Discernment, Part 1

You can see it nowadays, can’t you. Christianity is under assault from every direction, every day. The Lord said that His church will not fail, so we can thank Him for stalwart believers. But the assaults to the faith are real and very potent.

AW Tozer wrote, “The healthy soul, like the healthy blood system, has its proper proportion of white and red blood cells. The red corpuscles are like faith: they carry the life giving oxygen to every part of the body. The white cells are like discernment: they pounce upon dead and toxic matter and carry it out to the drain. Thus the two kinds of cells working together keep the tissues in good condition. In the healthy heart there must be provision for keeping dead and poisonous matter out of the life stream.”

It’s a vivid and apt metaphor, isn’t it? I can really picture how faith and discernment works in the body. I’d like to add one more medical metaphor to the situation, Paul’s use of the word gangrene in 2 Timothy.

“But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.” (2 Timothy 2:16-18)

Paul’s use of gangrene is good here. In his time, the smallest cut could render a person dead in days. Even in the twentieth century, blood poisoning was an extreme issue. The Earl of Carnarvon died that way. George Herbert (Earl of Carnarvon) family was of the family that owns Highclere Castle, the setting for the well-known British production of the television show Downton Abbey. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was the chief financial backer on many of Howard Carter’s Egyptian excavations, and sponsored the excavation that discovered King Tut’s tomb. While in Egypt on expedition on March 25, 1923, the Earl Carnarvon/George Herbert got a mosquito bite. He nicked it with his razor when shaving, and the bite became infected. He died on April 5th. It only took ten days for blood poisoning to kill a healthy man.

Gangrene was a worse killer in Paul’s day. It’s important to realize that the white blood cells (the discerning among the body) must leap on the toxic cell. The toxic cell is not there to unite with you, praise Jesus with you, or do good works with you. The toxic cell is there to kill you.

What does gangrene do to a body? Staying with the medical analogy for a moment, put into your mind the Tozer analogy of the white and red blood cells and the blood flowing in your veins. Blood actually flows in your body as it metaphorically flows in the body of Christ.

The medical definition states, “Gangrene is the death of tissue in part of the body.” We know the global born-again church is a body. Jesus uses the metaphor of us being the body and He being the head. (Colossians 1:18). Gangrene is literally the death of some of the living tissue by not allowing the blood to pass through. No blood means death to living tissue.

Gangrene spreads fast. Where the dead tissue exists, it must be cut out, or it will contaminate the adjoining tissue and kill it too. So in continuing the metaphor, if the infectious doctrine is not cut out  immediately, it will spread like a toxic wildfire and consume the flesh of all who come into contact with it and deny the blood. The corrupted flesh must be excised, either by a medical procedure called a debridement, or an amputation.

Jesus said in Matthew 18:8, “And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.”

The word is the answer. The word is always the answer! In order to proclaim it, one must read it and study it. Paul was speaking to Timothy as pastor, and we are all not pastors, but we are all evangelists. We must be ready in season and out of season to know our doctrine. The absence of sound doctrine means you could make a shipwreck of your faith. (1 Timothy 1:20).

When you’re at sea and in a storm, what’s the first thing they do for you? Throw out a life ring.

Wikipedia Commons
Source

If you hang on to sound doctrine, you will not be shipwrecked, you will be reeled back in. Knowing your sound doctrine means also that you will be discerning. If you think of it this way- reading your bible and studying sound doctrine is the most loving thing you can do not just for yourself, but for your brother. If you see a fellow sister or brother wandering off to myths and turning away, don’t you want to have the right tools to throw out to them?

Source

If your doctrine is weak, this is your tool-

And that’s just not helpful at all.

“And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:9-11)

Posted in chaos, charismatic, dreams, faith, miracles, pentecostal, strange fire

Charismatic manifestations & excesses of the Pentecostal movement is a global phenomenon

The universe exists so that God will accomplish the redemption of man.

It’s that simple.

“As we read in Colossians, “All things created by Him and for Him.” And what is this grand design? What is this grand purpose? What is God doing? Why did He create this universe? Why did He create the earth? Why did He put on the earth all these creatures? Why did He make man? What is the point of all of this? (Colossians 1:16).

“And the answer is, “The grand design is redemption.” The grand design is the gathering of a redeemed people into eternal glory for the purpose of worshiping Him forever and ever.”
~John MacArthur, “The Theology of Creation

To that end, Jesus commissioned emissaries to go forth with the message of redemption, AKA the Good News AKA the Gospel. Some proclaim it nearby and others go far afield. The ones who go far are missionaries, bringing the good news to every nation, tribe, and tongue. (Matthew 18:16-20; Acts 1:8).

God will sovereignly ensure all will occur as He designed it to occur as He said in Isaiah 46:9. It will happen. He said in Isaiah 46:9. “Remember the former things long passed. I am God, there is no other. I am God, there’s no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done saying, ‘My purpose will be established, I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”

However, that is not to say that from our one-dimensional view down here on earth, that there won’t be heartbreaks, apparent setbacks, and distress among us as His plan is being carried out from above.

I keep up with a couple of missionaries who our denomination supports, via the Southern Baptist Convention and International Mission Board. The couple is in Central America, in the jungle. They have worked with a local man for a year who is a Pastor. This pastor travels over rough jungle roads to reach a family who lives in the jungle who had opened their home to the Pastor. He travels long to reach the place, and does the weekly bible studies. He travels so long he must stay overnight there. They had hopes to plant a church there, eventually. Above, Jungle, Wikipedia commons

This month’s mission report says that though we all expect opposition from without, the missionary couple were blindsided from within.

The local pastor who travels to the jungle there each week, “was told by the head of this family that they will no longer host the Baptist meetings. The reason: they have been led to believe by leaders of their church that Baptists do not believe in the Holy Spirit because we do not speak in tongues and have experiences like being “slain in the Spirit.” This is not the first time we have encountered this attitude from those we call our brothers in Christ.”

Until now, the worst battles had been against shamanism, Mayanism and Catholicism, all of which are so rampant in Central & South America. But now missionaries must also battle the worst examples of Pentecostalism from inside our own Protestant denominations? Sad!

The same is happening in Africa. Pastor Conrad Mbewe of Reformed Baptist Church in Lusaka, Zambia speaks often about evangelical issues in Africa. One of the issues with the decline of the church in his native land, he says, have also been the excesses of Charismatic Pentecostalism. Above, Africa.

This week he wrote,

“A century or two ago, Christian missionaries came from the West and taught us the Bible. As a result of this, we did away with polygamy, cannibalism, tribal feuds, etc. We were taught to put on more clothing to hide our nakedness. We learned to desist from tattooing our bodies, which were now temples of the living God. We even stopped sacrificing our babies to ancestral spirits.”

Yet this is the reality today, he wrote last May

“I am reminded of the many claims to healings that are made by “anointed” Charismatic preachers. Every week, there are tens of thousands of miracle services conducted across the country and the continent. When I say that these are just publicity and fundraising gimmicks, sincere Christians are often horrified at my saying so. When I then ask them to give me the name and address of one person whom they know who was once blind but now sees, or was a cripple (on a wheelchair or on crutches) who now walks, or was deaf and dumb but now speaks, they suddenly sober up and admit that they do not know anyone. “Sources” have told them of many people who have been healed.”

Kenya revival services, healing crusade
and pastors’ conferences.

Clint Archer, one of the team at The Cripplegate, and a pastor in South Africa, interviewed Mr Mbewe a few months ago at the African Pastors’ Conference. Archer asked,

What information would be helpful for Evangelicals in the West to know about the state of the African church?

Pastor Mbewe responded,

The Christians in the economically and educationally challenged areas of Central Africa are in a state of what I call “blessed ignorance.” I find that in general their hearts are with Christ and they are faithful followers of His, but they lack the theological refinement necessary to get all their ducks in a row. The people have “low expectations of their leaders’ educational qualifications to preach.” It is in these areas where rampant health-wealth-prosperity preaching and extreme charismatic practices are most common and leave the church in a state of immaturity.

As for what’s happening in Asia, there is a terrible influence of the healing-miracle-prosperity church there, too, especially in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, thanks to a charismatic South Korean named Pastor Lee at Manmin Church. We read,

“Abundant Fruit of the Holiness Gospel Has Been Borne in Thailand “
“Amazing works of the Holy Spirit unfolded and abundant fruit of the holiness gospel was borne even in Thailand where the 95 % of population is Buddhist. … Additionally, Thai Com 5 satellite TV has broadcast GCN TV programs, such as Dr. Lee’s sermons and the programs on the works of God’s power, nationwide. Since innumerable people watch the programs, the holiness gospel is being spread rapidly. Amazing works took place through the handkerchief prayer on which Dr. Lee had prayed. Even sorcerers and shamans accepted the Lord through the handkerchief prayer (Acts 19:11-12). Pastor Sungchil Lee has given glory to God by holding meetings in many areas of Thailand in September 2009, November 2010, and February 2011. Countless people were healed of their diseases in the meetings.”

The book by Candy Gunther Brown titled Global Pentecostal and Charismatic Healing, was published 2011 by Oxford University Press. The abstract says,

“This book explains why Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity is a rapidly growing global phenomenon. Although often caricatured and reduced to speaking in tongues (glossolalia), prosperity, or snake handling, this volume reveals that the primary appeal of pentecostalism is divine healing and deliverance from demons. Globalization heightens the threat and fear of disease, fueling growth of religions that are centrally concerned with healing. In Latin American, Asian, and African countries where world Christianity is growing most rapidly, as many as 80 to 90 percent of first-generation Christians attribute their conversions primarily to healing for themselves or family members.

Even in the United States, 62 percent of Pentecostals report healing experiences. Contrary to popular stereotypes of flamboyant, fraudulent, anti-medical “faith healing” televangelists who preach a materialistic, “health-and-wealth gospel” or sensational “exorcism” of demons, this book offers a more nuanced portrait. The chapters illumine local variations, hybridities, and tensions in practices, depict human suffering and powerlessness, and explain the attractiveness to many of a global religious movement that promises material relief and empowerment by invoking “miracles” and spiritual resources. Achieving the twin goals of thick description and comparative analysis of global practices is best achieved by bringing area experts into conversation. Sociologists, anthropologists, historians, political scientists, theologians, and religious studies scholars from the United States, Europe, and Africa write about illness and healing on six continents. Read together, these chapters generate and set the agenda for a new program of scholarly inquiry into some of the largest forces of change reshaping today’s world—globalization, pentecostalism, and healing.”

I’ve striven to show you both personal and widespread examples of the worst excesses of the

Source

Charismatics that are happening in Latin America, Asia and Africa and the devastating impact on the church. The tomfoolery you view each day on TBN is not just contained in American broadcast media and a few churches at the fringes of the faith. It is a widespread, global phenomenon that is killing the church.

“However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”” (Luke 18:8b).

The answer is yes, because God purposes to bring a group He’s selected for His son to redemption as His Son’s bride. It will happen. But the falsity of the false church which abuses the Holy Spirit is daily being revealed and the stain of is is spreading.

When I refer to the excessive charismatic aspects of Pentecostalism, I’ve said “fringe” or “excesses” etc, so it is clear to you that I do not indict an entire denomination. As John MacArthur said in his essay, “Encouragement to Faithful Pentecostals,”
“There are those in charismatic and Pentecostal churches who love Christ, serve His people, and—like John—are disturbed by the sinful excesses they see dominating the charismatic movement.”

He said, however, that they need to speak up against the abuses against the Holy Spirit with the ridiculous excesses of tongues, slain in the spirit falling down, toking the spirit, laughing in the spirit and so-called miracles and alleged healings. Speak. Up.

John MacArthur and colleagues are speaking up. He has organized a conference called Strange Fire. The Strange Fire conference “will boldly and thoroughly deal with prosperity preachers, faith healers, and many of the other familiar charismatic aberrations and blasphemies of the Holy Spirit.”

MacArthur, along with Phil Johnson, RC Sproul, Conrad Mbewe (I mentioned him up above), Tom Pennington, Steve Lawson, Nathan Busenitz, Justin Peters (I refer to him frequently regarding his monumentally helpful series “A Call For Discernment”), Todd Friel, and Joni Eareckson Tada. These speakers’ bios can be read here.

He said,

“If you believe that the baptism of the spirit is subsequent to and separate from salvation, you have now created two classes of believers. If you believe in mystical experience, transcendent esoteric kinds of supernatural things, then what you will do is depreciate study, spiritual discipline, and the means of grace by which you grow. If you exalt feeling you will denigrate reason and open the mind and the spirit, the powers that people cannot understand or deal with. And as long as these kinds of things lie at the core of Pentecostal tradition, the potential for disaster is there, and if you believe that God is still giving revelation of any kind, the lid is off.” (source)

It’s as if satan had said, “Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs of war,” as Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar. “Dog has its ordinary meaning; havoc is a military order permitting the seizure of spoil after a victory, and let slip is to release from the leash.” (Wiki)

The lid is indeed off, and nobody likes what was released. Fortunately, in this long essay for the third time, I refer back to Isaiah 46:9. “Remember the former things long passed. I am God, there is no other. I am God, there’s no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done saying, ‘My purpose will be established, I will accomplish all My good pleasure.’”

His good pleasure is to bring a Bride to His son- us, believers in the resurrected, holy and divine Jesus. As our wedding day approaches, please pray for your own church to withstand this worldwide onslaught of Holy Spirit perverted-charismatic excess, and pray for those who are caught up in it. There are many, and we weep for them as much as we do the lost in Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Mormonism, atheism…

Won’t you be glad when satan is thrown into the Lake of Fire to deceive the nations no more! (Revelation 20:3, 10).

Amen!

——————————
Further reading:

Strange Fire conference website

Charismatic Chaos sermon series

Discerning Angus Buchan’s ‘Faith Like Potatoes’

What is the Charismatic Movement?

Drive By Pneumatology: Correctly Understanding the work of the Holy Spirit (purchase CD lectures)

Justin Peters ‘A Call For Discernment’ Overview, updated

Posted in faith, Luke, martyr

Sunday Martyr Moment: Luke

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

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

From the same link, the book’s purpose was fourfold:

  • Showcase the courage of true believers who have willingly taken a stand for Jesus Christ throughout the ages, even if it meant death,
  • Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith,
  • Expose the ruthlessness of religious and political leaders as they sought to suppress those with differing beliefs,
  • Celebrate the courage of those who risked their lives to translate the Bible into the common language of the people.

Luke

Luke was a Gentile, possibly a Greek. It’s not known as to when or how he was converted. He was a physician in Troas and was probably converted there by Paul, especially since it was at Troas that he attached himself to Paul’s party and started traveling with them. Notice in Acts 16:8-10, that it is at Troas he switches from “they” to “we” in his text-

“So, passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas. 9And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” 10And when Paulc had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them.”

Luke went with Paul to Philippi, but was not imprisoned with him and did not travel with him after his release. He apparently made Philippi his home and stayed for some time. It’s not until Paul’s visit to Philippi (Acts 20:5-6) about seven years later, that we again meet with Luke. From this time he again traveled with Paul and stayed with him during his journey to Jerusalem (Acts 20:6-21:18). But he disappears once more during Paul’s imprisonment at Jerusalem and Caesarea, and only shows up again when Paul starts for Rome (Acts 27:1). He then stayed with Paul through his first imprisonment (Philemon 1:24; Colossians 4:14). Many bible scholars believe Luke write his Gospel and Acts when in Rome with Paul during this time. During Paul’s second imprisonment, Luke apparently stayed nearby or with Paul, but because just before his martyrdom, Paul wrote to Timothy and said, “only Luke is with me.” (2 Timothy 4:11).

After Paul’s death, Luke apparently continued to evangelize as he had learned to do with Paul. Exactly when and how he died is unknown. One ancient source states “He served the Lord without distraction, having neither wife nor children and at the age of 84 he fell asleep in Boeatia (Place unknown), full of the Holy Spirit.” Another early source said he went to Greece to evangelize, and was there martyred by being hung from and olive tree in Athens in AD 93.

Posted in faith, mind, reality tv

Famous for being famous, some live unreal life on reality tv

I like reality tv cooking competitions. I don’t watch cooking shows, because I don’t really want to improve my cooking. I need to, but since I live alone, I can easily silence the critic. What I like about these kind of competitions is that I enjoy watching how people behave. The various competitions on other channels incite behavior that is too lustful or vicious. But on a cooking contest on Food Network, you have to be somewhat appealing anyway, if you are to get your own cooking show or have people buy your cookbook, or eat in your restaurant.
For some years now I’ve been watching Masterchef and Next Food Network Star and Chopped. I like that there is no swearing and very little of the worst parts of the culture (though it is creeping in now with many chefs praising their same-sex partner, or seeing the plethora of tattoos…).

But even in these innocuous shows there has been a recent and precipitous downward slide. I noticed this most starkly on the show that premiered this week, “The Next Food Network Star.” (TNFNS). It is season nine of this venerable competition. The premise is, the multi-week competition is a vetting process to unearth raw talent, and the last one standing gets their own show on the network. Who doesn’t like the story of the starlet sitting at a stool at the local drugstore in Hollywood and being discovered? Who doesn’t like the notion overall of discovering treasure? Of turning over a geode to discover the gem inside?

The thought that someone like me could find fulfillment in their dream of sharing their talent with the world is one that is universally shared, I think. The vetting process of TNFNS is one that transforms the roughness of the person into a talent that will yield something worthwhile- good food and time well spent with a nice person (on tv).

I was disappointed this week when the show premiered to see that there was a contestant that had already appeared on Chopped. Danushka Lysek. This seemed somehow…cheating. Then in researching further, I found out that MOST of the contestants on TNFNS had already appeared in other cooking shows, reality competitions, and/or television shows on other networks.

  • Chris Hodgson was on the Great Food Truck Race.
  • Viet Pham was on Extreme Chef.
  • Stacy Poon-Kinney was on Restaurant Impossible.
  • Connie “Lovely” Jackson was on season 6 of Gordon Ramsay’s H-ll’s Kitchen.
  • Russell Jackson was on Iron Chef America.
  • Nikki Dinki is a food blogger and youtuber but has appeared on The Sopranos as Bibi in the episode Johnny Cakes.
  • Rodney Henry was on Paula Deen, Down Home with the Neelys, Throwdown with Bobby Flay and Chopped.
  • Danushka Lysek, was on 24-Hour Restaurant Battle, Chopped, The Bachelor, Models Edition Fear Factor VH1’s Supergroup, Fear Factor and now on TNFNS. (source & source)

So the upshot is, 66% of the contestants have had time on television, and 58% of them on previous cooking reality shows on the same network. Ugh. This is not seeking raw talent for a new show, it is recycling, regifting, and reusing. By any stretch of the imagination, this is bait & switch.

Let’s take a look at the contestant named Danushka, though. The fakery of reality tv is not my main point. It is this: for a large section of the population, the unreal life as presented on reality tv HAS BECOME their life.

Danushka has flitted from show to show, making a life career out of being on tv for the no good reason other than she wants to be on tv. A permanent dweller on reality TV, as it were.

Wikipedia explains this penchant, it is the phenomenon of being famous for being famous, epitomized in the model and celebrity Paris Hilton. “Critics also suggest that Hilton epitomizes the title of famous for being famous; she is an example of the modern phenomenon of the “celebutante”, the celebrity who rises to fame not because of their talent or work but because of their inherited wealth and controversial lifestyle.”

Was there such a thing as a celbutante in eras past? I believe not.

The term ‘celebutante‘ is also explained, “Famous for being famous, or famous for nothing, in popular culture terminology, refers to someone who attains celebrity status for no particular identifiable reason such as acting, music, writing, politics, or modeling, or who achieves fame through association with a true celebrity. The term is a pejorative, suggesting that the individual has no particular talents or abilities. It was coined by historian and social theorist Daniel J. Boorstin. In his book, he defined the celebrity as “a person who is known for his well-knownness”. He further argued that the graphic revolution in journalism and other forms of communication had severed fame from greatness, and that this severance hastened the decay of fame into mere notoriety. “

You’re great, (Lincoln), you’re famous, (Coco Chanel), you’re notorious, (Charles Manson), you’re celebutante (Kim Kardashian). Decay was a good term to use in the decline of whom we exalt in culture. It is actually not just a slide into decline, but is a see-saw, with today’s version of celebrity disappearing from life into into the gaping maw of reality tv.

I’ve said many times on the blog that the media in general and the news media in particular is front and center on the war for your mind. It is the theatre of ideas, and what is presented to us is absorbed into our mind, and it transforms the mind. When we repeatedly see an idea presented as truth, we begin to believe it. If you doubt this process, just think back to Genesis 3 in the garden, and satan’s persistence in introducing poisonous ideas into the mind of Eve. It’s like for many people, reality tv is more real than life, and for some of those, constantly being ON reality tv IS their life. And if they are not, they are thinking about it. They have lost their grip on reality.

“Therefore Sheol has enlarged its throat and opened its mouth without measure; And Jerusalem’s splendor, her multitude, her din of revelry and the jubilant within her, descend into it.” (Isaiah 5:14)

This lure of television (or movies) is so palpable that it was spoofed in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory- the 1971 version. In that movie we get Mike Teavee, a boy who does nothing but watch television and thus, whose reality has been skewed by TV to the point that he always thinks he is on tv, and finally becomes a character who lives inside one, rather than a boy living in the world. And he’s happy about it.

The old black and white show, Twilight Zone, made a statement on this theme, too. It was in an episode called, “The 16-Millimeter Shrine”. In this episode, Ida Lupino played an aging, former movie star who lives and dreams in the past, constantly watching her old movies alone in her room. At the end, she walks into the movie, to forever dwell in the made-up world of film.

She dropped the scarf on celluloid but her manager found it on the floor in front of the screen as he watched her blow a kiss and turn to go up the stairs, forever to live in a made-up world.

Advertising executives, Political campaign managers, and Hollywood spend an inordinate amount of money to change your mind. Media has an incredible pull on the mind. For those who pooh-pooh that your behavior can change over time to be transformed to whatever reality it wishes to present, then why do they spend so much money attempting to do just that? We are influenced by what we see. According to an article in the American Psychological Association, “Vance Packard’s 1957 book, ‘The Hidden Persuaders,’ revealed how advertising agencies used psychologists and other behavioral scientists to probe deep into consumers’ minds and build advertising campaigns based on what they found there.”

I think ‘the hidden persuaders’ is a terrific title. It is very apt.

As a matter of fact, many ads are not simply to try and change your behavior from using one brand over another, but make covert and overt promises that if you use their brand you will become like the people they show you using it. “What’s really critical is to identify the beliefs ads should target, says Dr. Fishbein, PhD,” in an article looking at psychology and the bran and how it is manipulated in advertising.” [emphasis mine]

The cultural claim to your mind is big business and has been for over a century. “There are very many advertisements that do not pay. One man has roughly estimated that seventy-five per cent of all advertisements do not pay; yet the other twenty-five per cent pay so well that there is scarcely a business man who is willing to stand idly by and allow his competitors to do the advertising,” noted Walter D. Scott, Assistant Professor of Psychology in Northwestern University, in The Atlantic– in 1904. Fishbein continued,

“The struggle has been too fierce for any but the strongest. The inefficient advertisers are gradually being eliminated, and the survival of the fittest seems to be a law of advertising as it is of everything else that develops. The leaders of the profession feel that their work has grown till it is beyond their control and comprehension. They have been successful, and hardly know how it has all come about.”

He noted the influence of psychology upon advertising, even at that early date-

“The best thought of the advertising world finds expression in the advertising journals and in the addresses delivered by various experts at gatherings of professional advertisers. In 1895 in one of the leading advertising journals appeared the following editorial: “Probably when we are a little more enlightened, the advertisement writer, like the teacher, will study psychology. For, however diverse their occupations may at first sight appear, the advertisement writer and the teacher have one great object in common—to influence the human mind. The teacher has a scientific foundation for his work in that direction, but the advertisement writer is really also a psychologist. Human nature is a great factor in advertising success; and he who writes advertisements without reference to it is apt to find that he has reckoned without his host.”

The advertising of then has morphed into the Reality TV of today- advertising a better life, better people, an entirely new world that is yours for the taking…if you but walk into the TV (metaphorically speaking).

In the magazine Publicity in 1901, we read a quote, “But the future must needs be full of better methods than these to make advertising advance with the same rapidity as it has during the latter part of the last century. And this will come through a closer knowledge of the psychological composition of the mind. The so-called ‘students of human nature’ will then be called successful psychologists, and the successful advertisers will be likewise termed psychological advertisers. The mere mention of psychological terms, habit, self, conception, discrimination, association, memory, imagination and perception, reason, emotion, instinct and will, should create a flood of new thought that should appeal to every advanced consumer of advertising space.”

Source

“…habit, self, conception, discrimination, association, memory, imagination and perception, reason, emotion, instinct and will…” pretty much covers everything, doesn’t it? This sums up an identity. The reality TV of today is branding us with a new identity, and blurring the lines of what is real and what is not.

The culture (that is to say, satan) wants to grab your mind. Jesus, once He elects you, claims your mind also. It is all about the mind. The struggle is not against flesh, but is in the mind, for your identity and youru reality.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)

The mind is the key to Christian life. Rewiring of the brain the mind is the key to Christian life, therefore its corruption in the believer is what satan seeks most.

For a non-believer, things are more dire, because satan already has your brain. (Romans 1:21, Ephesians 4:17). If they absorb enough of the culture, their brain begins to accept that this is what life is. And if they absorb even more, their heart wants what the brain “knows” is real life, and soon they become a recycled person bouncing from ‘reality’ show to ‘reality’ show, thinking that you’re really doing something with your life. An empty mind (devoid of the Holy Spirit) will be filled with the things of satan and will see life through his lens. It really IS all about the mind.

For the believer, remember,

–We capture every thought (2 Corinthians 10:5)
–We have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16)
–And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)
–Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Romans 2:2)
“…to be made new in the attitude of your minds;” (Ephesians 4:23)

God is busy renewing the believers’ mind. He rewires it! He re-knits the synapses of our mind into His likeness, to be conformed to Him and away from the dark wiring of satan’s futility, but each time we allow something gross from the culture into it, we are untying the wires He knit together. Or at least polluting them so they work less efficiently.

It is so sad to see the pull of satan suck people into his vortex through the unreality of reality tv and other false media presentations. It is evident that some people live there permanently now. But that is what happens to the Gentiles who walk in futility of the mind. But the reality is Christ. (Colossians 2:17, Hebrews 11:1)

Posted in faith, grace

Do a mighty work of God!

When we think of a mighty work of God, we often think of the Old Testament. Noah built the equivalent of the Queen Mary! Moses parted the Red Sea! David slew Goliath!

We often think of the New Testament. Peter pointed to Ananias and he dropped dead! Paul exorcised demons from a slave girl! John saw the future!

But did you know that you do mighty works as well? Yes, you do!

If you are raising a child to love the Lord, you are doing a mighty work of God.

If you are suffering in a dread disease with grace, you are doing a mighty work of God.

If you are attending church week in and week out, worshiping in spirit and truth, you are doing a mighty work of God.

If you witness to a stranger, you are doing a mighty work of God.

If you publicly repent of a sin, you are doing a mighty work of God.

The grace of our Risen Lord dwells within us and if we are enjoined in holy living for His sake and on His strength, it is a mighty work of God!

“In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.” (1 John 4:9)

Posted in faith, john wesley, repentance

The isthmus of life

“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 repentance and faith in Jesus.