Posted in apostate, biblical resources, edification, GTY, heretic, macarthur, Paul Crouch, TBN

Paul Crouch, Founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN) died

My first thought upon hearing this news was, “I wonder where he is.”

My second thought was, “I wonder if he’s surprised he got there.”

Paul Crouch was one of the world’s biggest heretics, and he used his network to spread the name of a false Jesus throughout the world. It’s amazing to see the outpouring on Twitter of people who are mourning his death and lauding his accomplishment. His “accomplishment,” such as it was, was to bring hell to the lost people of the world, packaged as a Prosperity Jesus, deluding millions and engendering despair and squandered hope. He besmirched the name of Jesus, doing many dark works by using His holy name as cover.

Christian Post wrote the following in August 2013,

10 Crazy Quotes From Televangelists

Paul Crouch made Christian Post’s list twice.

Televangelists have a long history of saying embarrassing things on TV. The Bible teaches that the words we say reflect what is in our heart (Luke 6:45). So let’s take a look at ten of the crazy comments televangelists have made.”

Paul Crouch, Kenneth Copeland and Creflo Dollar teach that we are gods. Bible teacher Justin Peters says these religious leaders “demote God and deify man.”

1. “I am a little god. I have His name. I am one with Him. I’m in covenant relationship. I am a little god. Critics be gone!” says Paul Crouch.

Last year Brittany Koper, the granddaughter of Trinity Broadcasting Network founders Paul and Jan Crouch, sued her former attorneys and released damaging information about the TV network’s leadership. Following her lawsuit, this video was shown on TBN’s program Behind the Scenes. Paul Crouch says that he attended the funerals of two TBN critics.

2. Paul Crouch says: “God help anyone who would try to get in a way of TBN, which was God’s plan. I have attended the funeral of at least two people who tried.”

This next tidbit is from the Museum of Idolatry. It is not a doctored pic.

Paul Crouch flips off in Jerusalem

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But, this picture of Paul Crouch of TBN only brings two words to mind. But, only focusing on the hand gesture and missing the bigger offense is really easy to do and is like missing the forest because of a tree. To make sure that you don’t do that, ask yourself an important question regarding this photo:

What is MORE offensive, the hand gesture or the fact that Paul Crouch, a money grubbing charlatan con man who has made millions upon millions of dollars teaching rank heresy is wearing a clerical collar and broadcasting his flim flam from Jerusalem with the Temple Mount directly behind him?

Before we all go misty-eyed over this man, let’s remember the harm he has done to the name of Jesus, and the harm he has done to the faith, and the harm he has done to the sheep.

Paul & Jan Crouch
celebrating 54 years of marriage. TBN photo

As Paul the Apostle said, “Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.” (2 Timothy 4:14)

“Some have in fact already turned away to follow Satan.” (1 Timothy 5:15)

“Their teaching will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus,” (2 Timothy 2:17)

Let’s keep in perspective the damage that one man can do, his teaching spreading like gangrene across the world to infect the naive and unwary.

NPR has a thorough overview of his life,
Paul Crouch, Co-Founder Of Trinity Broadcasting Network, Dies

Many laud the Crouches for their broadcast network which is global. Paul and Jan Crouch started TBN in 1974 with Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, and it began broadcasting as KTBN-TV in 1977- the same year that John MacArthur’s Grace To You broadcast ministry was born.

Both broadcasters, TBN and GTY, broadcast in a variety of mediums, radio and tv, internet and satellite. Both purport to preach the gospel to the lost and dying world, but only one really does. Through the years, all four of TBN’s founders (Jan & Paul Crouch, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker) have come below reproach, having been exposed as possessing serious moral, ethical and doctrinal sins. As TBN started there was a falling out between the Crouches and the Bakkers and for control over TBN in the first place. It started with a fight for money and control.

John MacArthur and his people have been preaching verse-by-verse since 1969 and to a wider audience since 1977 and not one hint or whisper of any reproach has ever been charged against them. In addition, GTY has started the following resources, mostly free to any and all-

–The GraceLife Pulpit: The preaching of Phil Johnson (GTY Executive Director) and Mike Riccardi.
–The Master’s Academy International: Strategic support for theological and ministry training centers around the world.
–The Master’s College: Doctrinally sound, academically excellent, globally accessible.
–The Master’s Seminary: A seminary dedicated to training pastors and trainers of pastors.
–The Shepherds’ Conference: A conference aimed at equipping pastors and church leaders.
–Theological Resource Center: An organized approach to a wealth of Bible-centered resources.

Most of the resources listed above are freely accessible. Imagine, not even having to send seed money to get access. TBN has spawned nothing except reproach, doctrinal aberrations which confuse the seekers, and lucre-lined pockets for the Crouches, and a decided lack of transparency about where the donations go. (For example, they received $93 million in 2010).

TBN presents and supports a never-ending parade of circus acts in the form of charlatans and wolves fleecing the sheep, while GTY presents a never ending-array of solid, Godly men who lift up Jesus to the highest through biblical preaching and edification of the pure church. And they do it every day, globally; every year, thoughtfully, with no fanfare (and no scandal). What comes out of GTY are men trained through their programs and seminaries, multiplying the powerful word to a lost and dying world; and women and children edified by their teaching. What comes out of TBN is gangrene killing the tare-filled church.

You hadn’t known that GTY was a big as a success as TBN? That is because TBN is about TBN, and GTY is about Jesus.

Ezekiel 33:11 says that God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. If anything this is an opportunity to take stock, to re-assess whether you have TBN on in the background of your home as you do housework, or that you still subscribe to it unthinkingly, or that you watch it at all. There is no good there. I hope that the Crouch family takes this opportunity to re-assess their way, and turn from it. I sincerely hope so.

The lesson here is that heresy comes in all packages. The lesson here is that humility comes in softly, unnoticed. The lesson here is of apostasy, and the damaging evil it brings. The lesson here is to always keep your eye and heart on Jesus, and to stay in the word so one does not go adrift. (Hebrews 2:1). I pray that when we’re called home through death or rapture, we are not surprised where we end up. Jesus prophesied,

“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.’” (Matthew 7:22-23)

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Good resources: (From GTY.org)

Grace Community Church: The church John MacArthur has pastored for more than four decades. Available here is verse-by-verse preaching through the entire New Testament, plus many OT texts.
Grace Advance: Helping develop and establish churches across the US and around the world.
The GraceLife Pulpit: The preaching of Phil Johnson (GTY Executive Director) and Mike Riccardi.
The Master’s Academy International: Strategic support for theological and ministry training centers around the world.
The Master’s College: Doctrinally sound, academically excellent, globally accessible. Many lectures are freely available to non-students
The Master’s Seminary: A seminary dedicated to training pastors and trainers of pastors. Links here for non-students to Web Resources, and Free Journal Resources
The Shepherds’ Conference: A conference aimed at equipping pastors and church leaders.
Strange Fire: a GTY/Truth Matters conference series, evaluates the doctrines, claims, and practices of the modern charismatic movement, and affirms the true Person and ministry of the Holy Spirit. 19 free lectures, audio, video, or download
Theological Resource Center: An organized approach to a wealth of Bible-centered resources.

Other Links

GTY.org disclaimer, GTY.org has provided the links below for your edification, but please understand that a listing here does not equate to a full endorsement by GTY of everything published on a particular website.

Albert Mohler: Commentaries, articles, and radio programs by a leading theologian and cultural commentator.
The Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals: Recovering and proclaiming the great evangelical truths.
Alpha and Omega Ministries: Articles, books, and a bi-weekly webcast from premier Reformed apologist James White.
Answers in Genesis: An apologetic ministry training Christians to defend the faith, primarily against attacks on Genesis.
Banner of Truth Trust: Articles, books, and a monthly magazine–it’s biblical Christianity through literature.
Bible Gateway: Resources to promote and enhance Bible reading.
Biblical Training: Four stages of biblical training, from introductory to seminary level.
Challies.com: Thoughtful articles and book reviews.
Christian Classics Ethereal Library: A digital library of hundreds of classic Christian books.
Christian History Institute: A look at Christian history, starting with Jesus and the apostles.
The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: Defending the biblical teaching about complementary differences between men and women.
Crosswalk.com: Resources to promote and enhance Bible reading.
The Hall of Church History: Giving a voice to those who, being dead, still speak.
The Henry Institute: Devoted to helping evangelicals engage the culture from a biblical worldview.
Institute for Creation Research: Provides scientific evidences of biblical accuracy.
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia: An online Bible encyclopedia that’s free and trustworthy.
JohnOwen.org: The comprehensive repository of John Owen.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones Recordings Trust: The official, online repository of the ministry of David Martyn Lloyd-Jones.
Monergism.com: A repository of resources on Reformed theology.
9 Marks Ministries: Helping pastors and leaders to discover and apply biblical priorities in the local church.
Open Bible: Geocoding all the known locations in the Bible using Google Earth.
Reformation 21: Encouraging a biblical worldview and constructive cultural engagement.
The Spurgeon Archive: The comprehensive repository of C. H. Spurgeon.
The Voice of Calvary: The audio archive of Dr. Jack MacArthur. (John MacArthur’s father)
Way of the Master: Giving Christians a way to share the gospel simply, effectively, and biblically.

Posted in macarthur, mark driscoll, mefferd, plagiarize, reproach

Does the fruit of Mark Driscoll’s works show he is a false pastor and a wolf? (Updated)

Updated to add Carl Trueman quote and link.

Creative Commons

Plagiarism is a serious issue these days in academia, publishing, and journalism. In 2005 Judy Hayden called academic plagiarism a “crisis“. In publishing, both Fareed Zakaria and Doris Kearns Goodwin were exposed as plagiarists when portions of each of their works were shown to be plagiarized. Yet for all that, plagiarism increasingly seems to be brushed off these days as a minor mistake.

Salon.com wrote further, “Goodwin, the elder, is a serial plagiarizer who has been welcomed back with open arms by the TV punditocracy.” As for Zakaria the journalist, last year “Zakaria was suspended … by Time magazine and CNN for lifting several paragraphs from a New Yorker magazine essay and using them in his Time magazine column. Zakaria apologized, calling it a “terrible mistake.”

Academia has plagiarizer checkers, whereupon the Professor submits the student’s paper to a site and software automatically checks for similar language or lifted portions. This is now as much a standard task for Professors to perform as actually grading the papers.

Because plagiarism involves lying and stealing, one would think that plagiarism would have no place in Christian circles. But it does.

Increasingly, pastors are routinely exposed for plagiarizing sermons and failing to give proper attribution, passing them off as their own study and work product. I wrote back in May that our own pastor was asked to leave due to serial plagiarism, among other reasons. It has sadly become a common problem in the pulpit.

With so many pastors attaining celebrity status and writing books, going on tours and giving interviews, the temptation to plagiarize their for-profit work product exists for them as much as it does for secular writers. Just as with any sin, it can creep in, lie in wait, inoculate the bearer to its evil, and then sear the conscience.

In my opinion, that seems to be what happened to Mark Driscoll.

Wikimedia commons,
Mars Hill publicly released photo

Readers might know that he crashed the Grace Community Church Strange Fire conference last month and attempted to pass out his un-vetted books at the conference. Then when he was caught, he spoke falsely about what happened, claiming that his books were confiscated and he was abruptly escorted off the grounds by guards. Photos, eyewitness accounts, and video proved those to be lies, almost immediately.

I chose not to write about it because there has been so much ink already on Driscoll that I thought the event was tawdry and over the years there has been plenty to show that he has engaged in acts which in my opinion at least, bring him below reproach.

This week, Mr Driscoll was interviewed on the Janet Mefferd show regarding Driscoll’s new book, “A Call to Resurgence”. (Interview link below). Mefferd, who is familiar with the work of Dr. Peter Jones, and in preparing for the Driscoll interview, noticed that 14 pages of Driscoll’s book were extremely similar in tone, language and concept to Dr Jones’s, and there was no direct citation nor was there proper attribution. Were the pages plagiarized?

Mefferd asked Driscoll about this. The interview became heated on Driscoll’s part, and unfortunately he began to attack Ms Mefferd. Pastor Driscoll said that Mefferd was being unkind, rude, grumpy, and trying to give Driscoll orders. He said she was unChrist-like, had no experience as an intellectual property attorney or judge.

Then he hung up on her.

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,” (1 Peter 3:15)

Part of Driscoll’s reasoning was that like Zakaria had said, the 14 pages of eerily similar content in his book to Jones’s was “a mistake.”

Later, Ms Mefferd related that her former newspaper editor emailed her after examining the evidence, saying, “He works on the plagiarism issue with the American Copy Editors Society, listened to the interview and said that group would agree with my assessment of plagiarism in the Driscoll case. Just thought you all  would like to know!”

Yet Ms Mefferd is receiving a lion’s share of blow-back simply because she asked Driscoll about the plagiarism, and Driscoll isn’t (yet) repentant about the apparent plagiarism nor his behavior on the interview with toward a woman of the faith.

Pastor Wade Burleson wrote of this issue,

Mark Driscoll is a pastor. He is not a scholar. It could be that he made a “mistake” by not realizing the seriousness of selling a book where he appropriated the thoughts and ideas of another author as his own. It could be that Mark truly didn’t know how to give proper credit to Dr. Jones in his book’s footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography. … Pastor Mark Driscoll might not be clear about the scholarly way to give credit. However, what Pastor Mark Driscoll should know how to do is to treat someone who calls him out on his error.”

In researching this issue, I came across Driscoll’s own FAQ about use of material from his blog, church web pages, and sermons and sermon transcripts. It seems that Pastor Mark Driscoll is perfectly clear about intellectual property, plagiarism, and attribution. When it comes to using his own work-product, that is. After reading Driscoll’s FAQ on plagiarism, I ask us all, at what point do we stop giving benefit of the doubt?

The FAQ states,

“If I use material from one of Pastor Mark’s sermon’s [sic] do I need to cite him as the source of that material?
“Yes. If you don’t cite him, you are plagiarizing. If you use content from one of Pastor Mark’s sermons or from one of his books, you need to attribute the content (whether it is a quote or paraphrase) to Pastor Mark. Also, even though we make transcripts available of our sermons, this does not mean you can take the transcript and deliver the sermon as though it is your own. This too is plagiarism.”

I have a concern here about two things mainly.

1. After a pattern of sin has become entrenched in a pastor’s life, without any evidence of repentance, and with bad fruit more constant than good, when do we stop giving benefit of the doubt and saying things like “He is working for the Kingdom of God?” How does it honor Jesus to ignore a pastor’s pattern of a variety of sins where there is no repentance, and when the evidence points to his sin’s entrenchment and a seared conscience?

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” (Matthew 7:5)

Remember, ‘ravenous’ means they are always hungry and they never stop eating. The root of the word ‘ravenous’ in Latin means to plunder, take by force.

2. Why doesn’t the Church take plagiarism seriously? Plagiarism is lying and stealing. Pastors called to shepherd the sheep on behalf of the name of Jesus the Christ should not lie. It seems a moral given. Yet we have become soft on the benchmarks the bible gives on sin in the sheep and especially the pastors, and especially if they are celebrity pastors. Pastors and elders must be above reproach. (1 Timothy 3:2,10; Titus 1:7).
“The Mefferd-Driscoll controversy points to another aspect of celebrity culture: celebrities are routinely allowed to behave in ways which would not be tolerated in ordinary mortals.” Carl Trueman

So I ask again, why do churches put up with lying, unrepentant pastors? Why do they overlook patterns of sin and the bad fruit they produce? It is not about me being mean, or judging another or forgetting I am a sinner too. When a pastor who sins grievously according to the standards outlined in the Word, whether he repents or not, he has violated those standards. If you hired a doctor at a hospital and found out later he never went to medical school, would you keep him on? Of course not, he is not qualified. Pastoring is a matter of qualifications, and those were set by Jesus, the highest authority that exists. Yet there seems to be an easing of standards and more and more avoidance in applying them in discipline when it comes to pastors. Why do we let the wolves gobble us up?

In his 1991 essay titled Should Fallen Pastors Be Restored? John MacArthur wrote, “Gross sin among Christian leaders is a signal that something is seriously wrong with the church. But an even greater problem is the lowering of standards to accommodate a leader’s sin. That the church is so eager to bring these men back into leadership is a symptom of rottenness at the core. … By all means we should be forgiving. But we cannot erase the consequences of sin. I am not advocating that we “shoot our wounded.” I’m simply saying that we shouldn’t rush them back to the front lines, and we should not put them in charge of other soldiers. The church should do everything possible to minister to those who have sinned and repented. But that does not include restoring the mantle of leadership to a man who has disqualified himself and forfeited the right to lead. Doing so is unbiblical and lowers the standard God has set.

Oh, and what happened to the pastor I mentioned who was asked to leave due to 4 years of plagiarizing sermons on a weekly basis, even passing off the original pastor’s personal anecdotes as his own? Within 5 months, he was quickly hired as interim pastor at a nearby church. Yes, the search committee was aware of the reason he had left. They hired him anyway.

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Enough is enough from Mark Driscoll. We should state plainly that his fruits are not from the Lord.

1. Driscoll claims to see visions of congregants in the act of adultery, and claims these pornographic visions are from the Holy Spirit.

2. Driscoll speaks crassly about sex from the pulpit, crossing the line of propriety especially by focusing on adult content in front of congregations and children are present. MacArthur wrote a 4-part series about Driscoll’s Rape of Solomon’s Song preached by Driscoll in Scotland a few years ago. MacArthur stated that Driscoll defended his talks, “It’s frank but not crass,” Mark Driscoll told a Sunday congregation in Scotland just less than 18 months ago. But then he continued by paraphrasing Solomon in a way that was totally crass and not even remotely close to what the Holy Spirit intended. (A CD copy of that shocking message, entitled Sex: A Study of the Good Bits of Song of Solomon was recently sent to me [MacArthur] by some deeply offended and concerned Christians in the UK. It is primarily the reason I’m doing this series.)” Dr MacArthur said that Driscoll engaged in “scurrilous soft-porn” from the pulpit. One should consider that blog series a rebuke by an elder of the faith to Driscoll. And yes, Driscoll was privately contacted by MacArthur before the blog series was published.

2a. It should be noted that the New York Times reported, “Mark Driscoll’s sermons are mostly too racy to post on GodTube, the evangelical Christian “family friendly” video-posting Web site. With titles like “Biblical Oral Sex” and “Pleasuring Your Spouse,” his clips do not stand a chance against the site’s content filters.”

3. Driscoll swears from the pulpit like a longshoreman. “Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” ~James 3:10

4. Driscoll runs roughshod over deacons and employees, engaging in guerrilla-like tactics (Mark & Jonna Petry for example) of firing them when they question his leadership or his doctrine. (John 12:42)

4a. Driscoll does the same with congregants who won’t get aboard his metaphorical vision bus and won’t align themselves unquestioningly with Driscoll’s vision for his own leadership of Mars Hill. He calls it ‘blessed subtraction’ and boasts that it is by ‘God’s grace’ that there will be a ‘mountainous pile of dead bodies under his bus’. More here. (Matthew 6:21).

5. He makes a mockery of the pulpit and ignores rebukes and discipling opportunities from elder men of the faith. “Nevertheless, I have written Mark privately with my concerns. He rejected my counsel. … Mark Driscoll’s response to that admonition and the things he has said since have only magnified my concern.” More here.

6. I mentioned the Strange Fire Conference intrusion in October, where Driscoll and another pastor came uninvited, passed out their books (which were doctrinally opposite to the Conference’s teaching objective) and lied about the incident- we know this because many eyewitness and video testimonies surfaced almost immediately which contradicted what Driscoll had tweeted. (More here)

7. And now this objectively analyzed plagiarism incident where not only the plagiarism is exposed but Driscoll dealt harshly and made ad hominem attacks to a sister of the faith and acted not in grace but in childish pride by hanging up. (1 Peter 3:15; Proverbs 14:17; For the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, James 1:20)

There are more examples of course. I do not like spending time listing these examples. They give me no joy and only engender heartbreak for a man who claims to serve my precious Lord. I am sorrowful for the congregants he is a poor example to. I am saddened that he has given such opportunity to pagans to mock us and our Holy Jesus.

Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone,” (Colossians 4:5-6)

Christianity has standards. We have standards for entry, for behavior once converted, and for pastors who are supposed to be leaders. (Jeremiah 3:15, Proverbs 27:23, James 1:22 , Titus 1:5-9, 1 Peter 3:15)

Is Mark Driscoll a shepherd after Jesus’s own heart? The question must be asked, at what point do you stop saying that a crass, lying, plagiarizing, childish, sex-obsessed, porn-vision pastor who goes rogue, refuses to submit to authority, and sullies the pulpit with profanity is doing Kingdom work? When?

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For Further Reading–

Janet Mefferd’s Interview with Mark Driscoll 

Janet Mefferd Show

Carl Trueman: If the Top Men take over, who will ask the hard questions?

Chris Rosebrough/Fighting for the Faith,”Allegations that Mark Driscoll Plagiarized Dr. Peter Jones

Wiki Classroom: Avoiding Plagiarism

Pastoral Plagiarism: 10 Do’s and Don’ts

What are the biblical qualifications for pastors?

Thom Ranier: 10 Things members desire in a pastor

Posted in charismatic, macarthur, strange fire, tongues

Strange Fire: Final thoughts

John MacArthur/Grace Community Church hosted a major conference last week called Strange Fire. Its title is taken from the verses in Leviticus 10:1-3, where Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu offered strange fire before the LORD and they were killed by the LORD for it.

Strange Fire proclaimed truth
and the truth divides, Luke 12:51

The catalyst for the conference was because the organizers and speakers at Strange Fire had become concerned because of the improper worship offered to the Lord in the Holy Spirit’s name, in the form of the ever-growing Charismatic movement. This is the movement that has an expanding umbrella of false doctrines under it of Prosperity Gospel, miracles, tongues, healings, personal revelation, visions, intuition, and other shenanigans which the Charismatics claim are part of legitimate worship. The conference was held so that the men who were asked to speak could deliberately identify this movement as false and offer biblical reasons why. It was also intended to identify the true body of Christ, so that the body may be educated and the lost in this terrible movement be evangelized. Finally, it was to call out the leaders of both the Charismatic movement and the evangelical movement to step up and stand against it.

The conference was held on Wed-Thu-Fri Oct 16-17-18, and closed Sunday morning Oct 20 with a final message by Dr MacArthur at the Grace Community Church Lord’s Day morning service. I watched some live as it was happening, and some on YouTube when I got home from work each night. I saw the opening and closing sermon by Dr MacArthur, Phil Johnson’s stunning Baby in the Bathwater sermon, Tom Pennington’s case for cessationism, MacArthur’s address regarding the objections to having the conference, and Dr Steve Lawson’s brilliant sermon on the Puritans and cessationism. I also watched two Q&As, and the music worship. It was all great.

And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men. Isaiah 29:13.It’s been two days now since the final address by MacArthur, and my head and heart have had time to settle. The dust is now settling a bit also. The reaction to this conference was extreme. Twitter and blogs lit up with comments of all kinds, from support and thanks to hyperbole and incendiary fury. The Pope got involved. Christian and secular news reported on it. Mark Driscoll and James MacDonald, two men who lead churches, crashed the conference and then whipped up even more anger because they failed to be totally honest about what happened when they arrived. Accusations flew and theological battle lines were drawn. Phew.

It was sad to see such reactions but in another way, it was good. If you’re not taking flak, you’re not over the target, goes the old saying. It’s encouraging because I know that the Spirit was with the men of that conference and Jesus was honored by the truth being proclaimed.

The hyperbole is mostly on the side of people who disagree with the Strange Fire conference, either its existence or the content. The men who spoke at the Strange Fire conference were not hyperbolic, but spoke biblically in clarity, confidence and firmness, in love. Multitudes were edified, and said so.

Strange Fire: drew out men of faith.
It also drew out the faithless. Jo 8:32.

In fact, there is always hyperbole, division, and linguistic ruckus when the truth is proclaimed. Always. The fact that there IS such a ruckus is not indicative of a lack of work via the Holy Spirit, as some claim. To me, it is assurance that the Holy Spirit IS working. If we can take a look at the bible, Jesus spoke “hard sayings” and many left Him. Did He do it wrong? The Pharisees went hyperbolic over what Jesus was teaching, was the Holy Spirit not present?

In all that hullaballoo last week, there was one simple truth that was biblically explained time and again: the miracle sign gifts have ceased. The canon is closed. God is not speaking. Opening one’s self even one millimeter to the possibility of any of those things opens one’s faith to shipwreck, where it is heading for millions who believe they are experiencing visions and healings and miracles and tongues from the Holy Spirit, when it is really the devil.

This assertion inflamed millions, who hold that with half a billion people in the Charismatic movement they all can’t be wrong. LOL, by that standard, numbers, can a billion Muslims be wrong? A billion Catholics? Yes, and yes. And yes that many Charismatic people can be wrong too.

Both the number of heated reactions and the number of people involved in this false movement are staggering. It opened my eyes once again to the unfortunate fact of the proportions in the bible. There are many who are on the broad road, there are few on the narrow. Apostasy is on the rise so fast it is staggering.

CARM.org defines apostasy as “the falling away from the Christian faith. It is a revolt against the truth of God’s word by a believer. It can also describe a group or church organization that has “fallen away” from the truths of Christianity as revealed in the Bible.”

The Charismatics who believe in the things they believe (as discussed at Strange Fire) have fallen away from the truths of Christianity as revealed in the bible. It is depressing to see how many are drawn away.

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,” (1 Timothy 4:1)

“But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3)

I was heartbroken to hear that half a billion people are drawn away from a sincere devotion to Christ and instead are pursuing ecstatic experiences that look and likely are demonic. In Dr MacArthur’s final sermon at the conference, which was Sunday morning, he said that no conference of that sort would be complete without addressing the likely end of people who defect from the faith, these defectors are the ones who don’t know they have defected and they plead with Jesus on His Day. Matthew 7:22 has it–

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?'”

And grievously, the Lord will send them away, saying they are evil workers of iniquity and He never knew them. MacArthur noted that the list of works they use to plead their case are the exact list that the Charismatics insist are a work of the Spirit today: prophesyings, (and visions) demon deliverance, and miracles. The Charismatic movement as described at Strange Fire is indicative of apostasy.

This rising apostasy reminded me of a famous Japanese woodblock print called The Great Wave.

Wikipedia explains, “The Great Wave off Kanagawa is a woodblock print by the Japanese artist Hokusai. An example of ukiyo-e art, it was published sometime between 1830 and 1833 (during the Edo Period). This particular woodblock is one of the most recognized works of Japanese art in the world. It depicts an enormous wave threatening boats near the Japanese prefecture of Kanagawa. While sometimes assumed to be a tsunami, the wave is, as the picture’s title notes, more likely to be a large okinami – literally “wave of the open sea.” (source)

The foam at the top of the wave look like claws, ready to devour the helpless rowers underneath. That is apostasy, the lion prowling with claws ready to devour the helpless and hapless. By its very nature, the Charismatic movement opens scripture to additions, and this make a shipwreck of people and their faith.

In his book Toward An Exegetical Theology, Walter Kaiser wrote 34 years ago,

It is no secret that Christ’s Church is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it, “junk food”; all kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. As a result, theological and Biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its physical health is not damaged by using foods or products that are carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to their physical bodies. Simultaneously a worldwide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publication of the Word of God continues to run wild and almost unabated in most quarters of the Church.

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD, “when I will send a famine on the land— not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD. (Amos 8:11)

There will be a lot of good that will come from the conference, there always is with the Holy Spirit. Men were edified. Truth was taught. Praise and honor to the Lord was given. People clarified their positions, on both sides. And in a seemingly negative good is that it showed just how apostate so many really are. The Lord said that before He returns there will be a rebellion against the faith, a falling away from it.

“Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

“I tell you, he will give justice to them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:8)

“Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man.” (Luke 17:26).

The Lord WILL be glorified. With all the words that have been said and will be said, there is only one goal. Worship the Lord properly. Glorify Him in Spirit and in TRUTH.

“All the nations — and you made each one — will come and bow before you, Lord; they will praise your great and holy name. For you are great and perform great miracles. You alone are God.” (Psalm 86:9-10)

Posted in charismatic, false prophets, macarthur, strange fire

Charismatics be warned: false visions, ecstatic experiences and prophetic proclamations are blasphemous

The highest science, the loftiest speculation, the mightiest philosophy, which can ever engage the attention of a child of God, is the name, the nature, the person, the work, the doings, and the existence of the great God whom he calls his Father. There is something exceedingly improving to the mind in a contemplation of the Divinity. It is a subject so vast, that all our thoughts are lost in its immensity; so deep, that our pride is drowned in its infinity.

~Charles Spurgeon, The Immutability of God

Is your pride drowned in the infinity that is Holy God? I hope so. I hope mine is! What helps dampen down my pride is simply contemplating Him.

I’m reading 1 Kings. I am up to chapter 18, the tremendous chapter where God displays His power over the false prophets of Baal. In the chapters leading up to the climactic moment, the power of the LORD is displayed in many ways, and it builds and builds. He spoke to Elijah and commanded him to go to Zarephath. Yes, that is mighty power, that the Holy God of heaven would speak His word to a man, the prophet Elijah. Don’t let that become mundane. He is LORD over men! Then He fed Elijah by the brook by commanding the ravens. He is LORD over creation!

And Elijah drank from the brook. But the brook dried up. (1 Kings 17:7). Stop there. The LORD had told Elijah that he would feed Him by ravens bringing him bread and that he could drink from the brook. (1 Kings 17:4). I wonder if the brook dried up slowly, and Elijah could see it going, getting smaller by the day until only mud was left. I wonder what he thought. Or did the brook dry up overnight, and when Elijah went to drink from it in the morning, it was gone. I wonder what Elijah thought then. We know Elijah was a mighty man in the LORD, but he was still human. Did he muse aloud, “Aw, man. What now?” The next verse said that “the word of the Lord came to him” (1 Kings 17:8), but it doesn’t say when. Was there a lag between when Elijah spotted the dried up brook and the word came? Was Elijah thirsty? How long did he wait?

Anyway, next was the miracle of the widow’s never-ending jar of flour. He is a LORD of provision! And then came the resurrection of her dead son. He is LORD of life and death!

And then the LORD told Elijah to gather the false prophets of Baal and He manifested His great power over them and their notion of a false god.

“Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” (1 Kings 18:38)

The fire consumed the stones. So great is his power. It consumed the dust. So precise is His power.

The next verse says that the false prophets fell on their faces. And yet we have so-called Christians, one after the other, coming out of the woodwork saying that Mighty Jesus, descends from heaven and pals around with them at the zoo, or while they are shaving, or runs around going ‘woop woop’ with Gumby arms. That THIS Jesus, does those things:

“and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. 14The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, 15his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. 16In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.” (Revelation 1:13-16)

That this Jesus who said He was not coming again until the time, appears to them in visions…

“I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)

“See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.’” ” (Matthew 23:39)

…and they DO NOT FALL ON THEIR FACES, but joke around with a buddy Jesus of their imagination. FALSE is the Charismatic movement. They make up a god of their vain imaginings. He is immutable and His hand is mighty and His Son is coming again in power and glory.

Please take some time to listen to the live stream of the powerful preaching at the Strange Fire conference going on now. And if you are reading this and cannot listen live (as I can’t) or the conference is concluded, then be sure to listen to the uploads which will be on the website when the conference concludes. Dr John MacArthur explains why he and his elders & peers put together the conference:

The conference came about as a result of my escalating concern about the charismatic movement. While claiming to represent a special work of the Holy Spirit, many in charismatic ranks—joined now by many in mainstream evangelicalism—are actually guilty of blaspheming Him. Out of a love for God’s people, and more important, for the sake of His glory, some hard things needed to be said.

I opened with Spurgeon and his sermon on the immutability of God, let’s close with him and another quote from that sermon. We do not need pale and flimsy man-made so-called miracles attributed to the wispy smoke of strange fire, not when we have the Holy Godhead to contemplate in spirit and in truth. We do not need visions and miracles and ridiculous speeches and claims when we have the power and might to contemplate from His word. Spurgeon encourages us:

Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the whole soul of man, as a devout, earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And, whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatary. Oh, there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore. Would you lose your sorrows? Would you drown your cares? Then go, plunge yourself in the Godhead’s deepest sea; be lost in his immensity; and you shall come forth as from a couch of rest, refreshed and invigorated. I know nothing which can so comfort the soul; so calm the swelling billows of grief and sorrow; so speak peace to the winds of trial, as a devout musing upon the subject of the Godhead.

It’s very simple. The Charismatics who claim physical, ecstatic, and visionary experiences diminish their souls and besmirch the Godhead. Pure worship from His pure word expands the soul and honors the Godhead. Listen to the Strange Fire lectures and sermons to learn how to distinguish between the two.

Posted in abendroth, green, johnson, listening, lloyd-jones, macarthur, preachers, sermon

How to listen to a sermon: part 1 "The mechanics of listening"

Part 2 here: “Expository Listening”

As I’m sure you do, I like to listen to sermons. I listen at my laptop, while I am doing dishes or cooking, and in church. The former means I have no visuals to accompany the listening, and the latter does.

The catch is finding a good preacher who treats the scripture with respect, doesn’t promote a false doctrine, and is clear in his preaching. That is hard to do these days! Once you find some pastors like that, phew, it is easy to settle into a routine that contains your favorite few. Mine are John MacArthur, Mike Abendroth, (and also herePhil Johnson, and Don Green.

However, I have an Old Testament prophet’s heart and I LOVE to listen to good exposition on the OT texts. The problem is, pastors who preach those texts are few and far between. Pastor Johnson has a great series on the Psalms, and Dr. MacArthur has a very few on OT texts (his series on Genesis 1 is fantastic) and Pastor Green as a tiny amount, but that’s it.

Martyn Lloyd Jones was a well-known British preacher. He lived from 1899 to 1981. He preached for a long time. Recently, his recorded sermons were combined into a trust and released to the public via the internet. There are 133 sermons on the OT. There are 55 on the great biblical doctrines. There are 1,600 sermons overall. What a treasure trove! I got so excited!

This week, I listened to two of his sermons from Jeremiah and I had a hard time sticking with it. I like Jeremiah a lot, and  was truly interested in the exposition of the text. So why was my mind balking? Lloyd-Jones is an old-fashioned fire and brimstone preacher, which I love. So why was I having a hard time? You know me, I have to analyze everything.

Lloyd-Jones’s voice is upper crust, ‘veddy British’. He rolls his rrrr’s dramatically. He has a high nasal

voice, not helped by older recording equipment from the 40s, 50s, 60s that makes him sound more tinny than likely he was in real life. The vocabulary he uses is slightly different that I’m used to, and it included British words as well as simply a different phraseology than I’ve heard before. All these surface elements of the skill of listening negatively impacted my listening experience.

I thought about it for a while and I came to the conclusion that our ears settle into a comfortable rut. Just as we enjoy living in a routine, so do our ears. People’s voices are like blankets. We become used to how our pastors sound, we know their verbal tics, and go along with their vocal rhythms. Listening is an ability. It needs to be kept in good working order, the wheels of the mind greased and stretched. I was having a hard time not because of the content of Lloyd-Jones’s sermons, which are tremendous, nor because of any spiritual conviction I was experiencing, but simply because my listening ability was being stretched.

I’m sure you’ve experienced this when a guest preacher comes to your church. It takes a while for your mind to settle down and get used to hearing a new tone of voice, an new rhythm, a new way of speaking. All this stretches your listening vocabulary and listening skills. And listening is a skill.

I used to watch foreign films a lot. I don’t like dubbing so I always went for the subtitles, which never bothered me. Foreign films of course show foreign things, contain foreign ideas, use a different approach to story telling, and even the cinematography is different because of different type cameras used in the making of the film. It has been about ten years since I’ve seen a foreign film and I watched one recently. I had a hard time settling down at first because I’d lost the skill of watching them. Same goes for black and white movies, which I’ve recently gotten back into, and the same goes for silent films. I was surprised that the 2011 American/French film “The Artist” won so many Academy Awards (five) because it was a silent film. A silent film hasn’t been made nor an old one released in a long time, and many of us have lost that skill of how to watch one.

It is the same with listening. The mechanics of listening to a sermon are just as important. Keep honing your skills in listening to a wide range of good preachers. Here is a little tutorial on how to keep the mechanics of your listening skills in good shape. In another blog entry, I’ll discuss the spiritual mechanics of biblical listening.

Literacy is reading and writing, listening and speaking. It is via literacy that we create meaning in our lives. The US Air Force has a University called The Air University, or AU. In this good series on Listening Effectively, we read,

“Listening is a complex process—an integral part of the total communication process, albeit a part often ignored. This neglect results largely from two factors.”

“First, speaking and writing (the sending parts of the communication process) are highly visible, and are more easily assessed than listening and reading (the receiving parts). And reading behavior is assessed much more frequently than listening behavior; that is, we are more often tested on what we read than on what we hear. And when we are tested on material presented in a lecture, generally the lecture has been supplemented by readings.”

“Second, many of us aren’t willing to improve our listening skills. Much of this unwillingness results from our incomplete understanding of the process—and understanding the process could help show us how to improve. To understand the listening process, we must first define it.”

The essay goes on to explain that, “The process moves through the first three steps—receiving, attending,

Group of people listening to a sermon.
Coranderrk, c.1860-c.1865
source

understanding—in sequence.” Receiving is what it means, someone transmits a body of information auditorially and your ears receive it. There are many things that can impact receiving. If you’re in a car and driving, of course that impacts you because you get distracted. The speaker is still sending, you’re not receiving. Even if you are in a pew and seated comfortably, receiving can be impacted by the preacher’s speech, any impediments, his rhythm, tone, or distracting verbal tics.

My old pastor used to punctuate every half phrase with “Amen?” as in, “Paul was about to set out in his second missionary journey, amen? And then he got in the boat, amen?” etc. Like that. Drove me nuts. I’m exaggerating a bit on how frequently he said it, but it was frequent enough that it became a distraction to me rather than a pattern of speech unique to him. Sometimes I’d just count the amens rather than listen to what he was saying. That is what I mean by verbal tics. MacArthur repeats a sentence he really wants us to get. He doesn’t do it often within a sermon, but only at the introduction of a new main idea, so it doesn’t distract me. In the former case, it was distracting, in the latter, a comforting vocal blanket to my ears.

In the Air University lecture it stated that “attending” is the second part of the process of listening. Attending is hard when you’re distracted. This impacts receiving. Like I said above, I had a hard time paying attention to the content when the distraction of the amens got in the way.

The AU lecture notes that in the second part of the listening process attending, there is such a thing as–

“Selectivity of attention. We direct attention to certain things to prevent an information overload.”

And alternately, we become distracted by things when they are competing for our attention. This is why listening is active. If there arise any barriers to listening, we must mentally work to overcome them.

“Selectivity of attention explains why you “perk up” or pay attention when something familiar to you, such as your hometown or your favorite hobby, is mentioned. In fact, you may have been listening intently to a conversation when someone in a different conversation mentions your name. Immediately, the focus of your attention shifts to the conversation in which your name was mentioned.” (source)

So in listening to a sermon, you may have a favorite topic. If any preacher mentions anything about eschatology, I am all ears. If the sermon is on marriage (I’m single) I tend to want to tune out.

Strength of attention. Attention is not only selective; it possesses energy, or strength.

Attention requires effort and desire. It is possible to get lazy in listening, that is why I’m writing about listening as a skill that needs honing and practice. We make ourselves literate when we connect the new to the known. If you are listening to a preacher for the first time, you have nothing to connect the new to the known with. In other words, I understand without having to think about it that when MacArthur repeats a sentence it means he is emphasizing a point and getting ready to launch into another verbal paragraph. This barely registers with me now but it is what I am talking about when I say that listening is an active skill. When you tune in to a new preacher you won’t know his patterns and it takes a few listens to acquire them. Stick with it.

Words are verbal symbols. Yet there can exist barriers to understanding even when we all speak the same language.

Barrier #1: The same words mean different things to different people.

I laugh when I remember this example. When I was married, my husband and I used to talk of course. All

my degrees are in literacy and my profession is teaching. I live by words. My husband was a mathematician, his profession was databases and computer software. One time we were having a talk. We were both speaking English. We were at home and undistracted. But we were not connecting verbally. Finally, I asked him, “When you speak what does it look like in your mind?” He said, “Numbers. I think in equations. How do you think?” I answered, “I think in anecdotes.”

In the AU lecture, the professor said, “I may tell my colleague that the temperature in the office is quite comfortable. My “quite comfortable,” however, is her “uncomfortable”: 75 degrees is comfortable for me; 70 degrees is comfortable for her. The same word can mean different things to different people.”

If you listen to a new preacher it takes a while to become familiar with what he means when he says such and such.

“Barrier #2: Different words sometimes mean the same thing”

It took me a while after moving from the north to the south in the US that buggy meant cart, soda meant pop, and tea meant cold and sweet. I remember asking one of my kindergarteners to get the wastebasket and he literally didn’t know what I meant. I said “the trash can” and then he brought it right over.

A new preacher you’re listening to might indeed be speaking English but may be using different words in that present a barrier to understanding. With ongoing listening you absorb his meanings into your mental listening vocabulary.

Barrier #3: Misinterpretation of the voice. The quality, intelligibility, and variety of the voice affect the listener’s understanding. Quality refers to the overall impression the voice makes on others.

There is a preacher I listen to who has a tone that tends to become petulant, even though he is not petulant in the least. I have to work hard while listening not to be distracted by it. I love Pastor Mike Abendroth’s voice on his radio program No Compromise Radio. His voice is so soothing, he speaks slowly and clearly, there are no sound effects or distractions. In fact, when I want to be soothed, I’ll listen to him. His voice is like an oasis in the loudness of life. He makes it easy to receive, attend, and understand.

Well, that was a little lesson on the mechanics of listening. In the next essay I’ll offer some information on how to partner with the preacher via maximized listening so that the Word of God accomplishes its intended purpose. It will be geared to the theology of listening: expanding your capacity for expository listening. Meanwhile I’ll urge you all to keep the mechanics of your listening skills honed by occasionally practicing an deliberate expansion of who you listen to, and how.

Posted in foxe's, macarthur, martyr, persecution

Sunday Martyr Moment: The coming persecution to the west

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.

Last Sunday I’d ended the first phase of the persecutions with the death of Apostle John. He was the last of the first generation martyrs. In Foxe’s Book it is described thus: “Chapter One: History of Christian Martyrs to the First General Persecutions Under Nero”.

In the course of that first wave, Paul and Peter were martyred. In summary, Foxe wrote, “To their names may be added, Erastus, chamberlain of Corinth; Aristarchus, the Macedonian, and Trophimus, an Ephesians, converted by St. Paul, and fellow-laborer with him, Joseph, commonly called Barsabas, and Ananias, bishop of Damascus; each of the Seventy.”

Under Nero’s persecution after the Great Fire at Rome of 67AD, the church at Rome was scattered, and this blew the seeds of the Gospel outward toward Asia. (1 Peter 1:1). The 7 Churches of Asia Minor were founded at that time. However, it wasn’t long before persecution followed the Christians at the cities far from Rome, and this is what Peter meant when he wrote, ‘you are being tested in various trials’ in 1 Peter 1:6.

This first wave of the original generation continued under Domitian. Foxe’s summary again, “Nicodemus, a benevolent Christian of some distinction, suffered at Rome during the rage of Domitian’s persecution. Protasius and Gervasius were martyred at Milan. Timothy was the celebrated disciple of Paul, and bishop of Ephesus, where he zealously governed the Church until A.D. 97. At this period, as the pagans were about to celebrate a feast called Catagogion, Timothy, meeting the procession, severely reproved them for their ridiculous idolatry, which so exasperated the people that they fell upon him with their clubs, and beat him in so dreadful a manner that he expired of the bruises two days later.”

After Apostle John died in around 98AD, The Third Persecution, Under Trajan, A.D. 108, began.

“Pliny was a governor of a Roman province at the beginning of the Second Century.  He was monitoring those who identified themselves as Christians in order to make report to the Emperor Trajan.  He wrote to Trajan around 100 AD.” Foxe wrote of Pliny’s letter to Trajan,

“In the third persecution Pliny the Second, a man learned and famous, seeing the lamentable slaughter of Christians, and moved therewith to pity, wrote to Trajan, certifying him that there were many thousands of them daily put to death, of which none did any thing contrary to the Roman laws worthy of persecution. “The whole account they gave of their crime or error (whichever it is to be called) amounted only to this-viz. that they were accustomed on a stated day to meet before daylight, and to repeat together a set form of prayer to Christ as a God, and to bind themselves by an obligation-not indeed to commit wickedness; but, on the contrary-never to commit theft, robbery, or adultery, never to falsify their word, never to defraud any man: after which it was their custom to separate, and reassemble to partake in common of a harmless meal.”

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

Hatred of Christians is coming to America. Persecution is coming. Christians have always suffered horribly in all the world throughout all ages. Christians in America have not. We are the cushiest, most comfortable generation, and as a result have grown casual to the Gospel and irreverent toward Christ. The charge of Jesus to the church at Laodicea could well be taken as a charge against us today:

“‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Revelation 3:15-17).

It is the church at Laodicea which Jesus asks to open the door and let Him in when He knocks. It is the church at Laodicea that has left Jesus off the list of ingredients when they play at church.

Of the true church, Dr. John MacArthur wrote this week to his subscribers, “It’s no surprise that true Christians are feeling pressures we’ve never before experienced. Believers today face open hostility simply for what we believe.”

 [Ed Note: Brings to mind Pliny’s perplexity of the hatred leveled against Christians who were simply praying, vowing to do good and having harmless meals together…]. Continuing MacArthur-

“Our gospel, our values, our priorities, our doctrine, what we love and what we hate what we live for and what we die for- our lives are more permanently and comprehensively at odds with the world. What’s more, the situation can and will still get worse. I’ve commented several times recently that I believe that hostility toward Christians in the West will eventually give way to full-blown persecution, just as it already has in other parts of the world.”

“As the pressure on Christianity has increased, it has been interesting to see so many supposed Christian institutions caving in and surrendering. We’re now finding out what people really believe and who is willing to stand for truth. Christian organizations are having to ask themselves, What are we going to say about immorality, premarital sex, drunkenness, and homosexuality? Sadly, many are waffling.”

Taking a break for a moment from Dr. MacArthur’s letter, here is an exact example of a waffling pastor. Mark Driscoll, who seems so outspoken on everything else, declined to comment on the DOMA ruling. Christian Post reports,

“Outspoken megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll, who has more than 389,000 followers on Twitter, stuck to tweeting paraphrases from the Bible and promoting current Mars Hill Church sermons on Wednesday morning and afternoon. When contacted by CP, spokesperson Justin Dean said that the Seattle-based Mars Hill Church lead pastor would not be commenting on the Supreme Court decisions.” (source)

Dr. MacArthur continued in his letter,

“Our view is that the more heated the battle becomes the clearer we need to become on our biblical convictions. The true church will always embrace persecution when it comes, rather than run from it. Suffering for Christ is a blessing from God with purifying effects for true believers. When suffering comes, the church actually thrives. Of course that doesn’t mean that facing hostility and persecution is easy, or that it doesn’t raise practical questions about the present and the future- no Christians cherish the thought of their children or grandchildren suffering…”

The call for today is to remember the martyrs even as hostility and persecution comes to us in the West. Align yourself with the stance that Dr MacArthur outlined:

“As other organizations seek to evolve with the times, insulate themselves from hostility, and accommodate the culture, our plan is to actively stake out the biblical positions everywhere we can. We are going to articulate biblical truth more clearly and assertively than ever. In fact, as the culture continues to degenerate and biblical standards are challenged, every new attempt to undermine Scripture is going to elicit from us a loving- but clear-confrontation.”

“Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you.” (1 Peter 4:12)

One of the reason above that Foxe stated he wrote his book of martyrs is to “Demonstrate the grace of God in the lives of those martyred for their faith.” I plea for you to become solid in your stance and firm in your conviction to demonstrate that very grace. The Age of Grace is coming to an end, and the people who are not living in Grace need to see it more than ever. They won’t see it if we hide, waffle, or are unclear. Get clear on your convictions and the biblical worldview we need to have. Stand on the rock.

I started these Sunday Martyr Moments on April 14, 2013, several months ago, because I could see the need coming to re-connect with what real persecution is and to take inspiration from those who died for the faith without reneging on their convictions. It is doubtless coming to us in America.

Let us continue in the faith, a long, unbroken line of glory from the first martyr to the last, praising Jesus under all circumstances. Let us gird our loins and stand firm on the Gospel.

Ignatius was a beloved father in the faith in the time of Trajan’s persecution. He said, “Now I begin to be a disciple. I care for nothing, of visible or invisible things, so that I may but win Christ. Let fire and the cross, let the companies of wild beasts, let breaking of bones and tearing of limbs, let the grinding of the whole body, and all the malice of the devil, come upon me; be it so, only may I win Christ Jesus!”

He was eventually convicted and thrown to the lions. Ignatius “heard the lions roaring, saying: “I am the wheat of Christ: I am going to be ground with the teeth of wild beasts, that I may be found pure bread.”

May you be found to be pure bread, with no leaven, for the name of Jesus and His eternal glory.

Posted in gay, homosexual, macarthur, masterchef, prophecy

Is America under judgment?

One question Christians are asking frequently these days is whether America is under a judgment. We know we are at the end of the end of days. We know that God’s wrath will pour down upon the rebellious world after the rapture (Rev 6:16). But with all that is going on, are we under a judgment of God now, before the rapture?

The answer is yes.

Here is a transcript from a Q&A held between the pastor of Castle View Baptist Church in Indianapolis, IN and Dr. John MacArthur. At 21:50 the question was asked about the then recent news that Obama had declared his support for homosexual marriage. Dr. MacArthur answered in this way:

“I’d go so far to say that what America is experiencing now is divine judgment. You ask me why do I say that, and I say that because of Romans 1. It says ‘The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness…’ verse 18.

“If there has ever been a nation that has suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, it’s America. We’ve had the truth, we’ve had the gospel truth, we were founded on that … there was a Judeo-Christian approach to law, life, and social behavior.”

“The gospel flourished in America and we have suppressed that at this point so the judgment of God falls.”

“How do you know that? Well, Paul goes on in that same chapter, this is what it will look like, “God gave them over. We go to the verse in Romans 24-26-28, ‘God gave them over’,’God gave them over…’ Here is the sequence,”

“Verse 24, God gave them over to sexual immorality. You know the judgment of God falls on a society is when it is consumed by sexual immorality.”

“Verse 26 says, “and women did that which is unseemly with women, and men with men.” Subsequent to heterosexual revolution is homosexual revolution. When you see that, you know the wrath of God is at work. ‘He gave them over’ that’s a legal term for a sentence. You’re turning someone over to the punishment prescribed for the crime.”

“Verse 28, That’s when God gave them over to reprobate mind. That is when the mind is so far gone you can’t find your way back. That is when the president of the nation declares that he supports homosexual marriage. You know that not only is the behavior corrupt but the thinking is corrupt.”

“The thinking is SO corrupt that the man with the most responsibility in the country advocates immorality at a base, perverse level as normal behavior. So when you ask where America is, America is living in the very chapter of Romans 1. We are watching Romans 1 unfold.”

“In connection with Acts 14, God has allowed all the nations to go their own way. This is the cycle of history, the cycle with Romans 1 is repeated again and again.”

In another question asked of Dr. MacArthur about culture, he responded,

“The generation of young people growing up is learning to see homosexuality as normal, because the most lovable, affable, endearing funny person on every sitcom is a homosexual. Or many of them. So they have a completely different view of these people. They are not outraged by it. They think it’s funny, they’re winsome kinds of people, they are overexposed to these kinds of people, they drive the fashion world, they drive the media world, and so this generation is seriously softened up on this. And it is going to be a challenge for parents to embed in their children what a terribly perverse and tragic kind of life this is. And it is tragic, because they have no future.”

When he said that television is saturated with presentations of homosexuality as a normal lifestyle and that the homosexual characters are presented as engaging and winsome, it made me think of not only the scripted shows, but the reality television shows. I enjoy watching cooking shows and competitions, and also the HGTV design shows. Even a few years ago, it seems, there were not as many homosexual and lesbian competitors who stated up front that they were “out.” One supposes that in the design shows as with fashion, there would be many people who have chosen that lifestyle. But few remarked on it. Now, they do, and right away too.

When Dr. MacArthur said the media invariably shows the homosexual characters as winsome, cuddly, lovable, I thought of the kid on Masterchef, Michael. The very first competitor in Masterchef by Gordon Ramsay was a 19 year old boy named Michael. He is Asian, and completely cute. He really was a winsome kid. The show is a reality show so it is not scripted, but the boy is cuddly and engaging! He’s a total doll. This is part of the conversation he and the judges had as Michael was contesting for a spot in the show:

Got a girlfriend? No. I’m gay, actually.
Got a boyfriend?
No, I am 19 and I don’t believe in dating before high school.
You’re very proper aren’t you?
I try to follow the rules most of the time.
Did you tell your dad on the same day I want to be a chef and by the way I’m gay?
I came out to my dad right before I came to Masterchef. I don’t want to hide my true self.
Embrace it!
You’ve got no reason to, either.

It is this relentless message that the homosexual lobby promotes. The contestant Michael went on to win a spot in the competition/show. The same goes for Hell’s Kitchen and Chopped, Top Chef and Food Network Star. These cooking shows all have contestants who are bold in proclaiming their homosexuality, in introducing their partners, or in mentioning their sexual preference. Since when do we need to know who a person sleeps with in order to learn to make soup?

Dr. MacArthur is right. This generation is de-sensitized to the hopelessness and emptiness of the homosexual lifestyle. They think it is OK.

We are under judgment. The utter depravity in our morals these days from the highest levels, to media, to personal spheres is indicative of how far we have fallen. And God is judging that. Read Romans 1.

As much as He judges, he forgives. He died on the cross as the sacrifice to satisfy God’s wrath for all sins, including homosexuality. The Corinthians were a pagan orgiastic culture, and Paul said some of the worshipers there were greedy, drunkards, thieves, slanderers, swindlers, etc, and some were formerly homosexuals (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) but now all were forgiven:

“But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

Allow the Lord to forgive you of your sins, no matter what they are. America is under judgment and we know that there is not a lot of time left. Do not delay. Repent. He is willing to forgive whatever lifestyle you have adopted. Do not remain in it, for it has no future. Jesus is your future!

Posted in challies, macarthur

This and That

Here is some good stuff:

Pastor Jordan Hall’s website, Pulpit & Pen. I enjoy his forthrightness and his humor. A Montanan of the Reformed Southern Baptist variety, this young pastor is incisive and funny. For example, his latest essay as of this writing is titled, Friendship Evangelism: Winning Souls by Your Awesome Personality. LOL! Here is another sardonic romp, “Stupid Church Signs“.

Tim Challies has an excellent essay (when are they ever NOT excellent?) titled “Don’t tweet that sermon“. The piece explores five biblical-ish reasons not to live tweet a sermon. (I added the -ish because the bible doesn’t directly address iPads and tweeting, silly).

John MacArthur’s recent sermon “The startling servant of Jehovah.” Exploring Isaiah 52:13-15, my favorite bible teacher does it again, brings to life the majestic God that is Jesus while at the same time slaying me with the vividness of His personal sacrifice. If you need a great dose of Jesus, this sermon is it.

Erin Benzinger responded to the current issue of people eschewing ‘dry theology’ for live friendship Gospel-evangelizing in a pointed, clear, convicting way in Perry Noble misses the point. Don’t miss.

These are brothers and sisters in the faith, writing about life with Jesus as their backdrop. Their blogs are engaging, loving, and homey. If you want to visit some wonderful Christian people living life and honoring Jesus with their life and words, go to these blogs:

Lin: Backyard In Motion
Tracy: Nothing New Under the Sun
Lydia: Disciple’s Diary
Kelly: The Weeping Prophet 
Barbara: Wingabouts
Linda: Today’s Grace
Sandee: Serve Him In the Waiting
Jean-Louis: The Light Seed
Kim: The Incredible Gift
Child of God: CPR Ezra 8:23

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Revelation 2:29). Pray, read, and listen to Him, our Greatest treasure!