Posted in encouragement, fearing the Lord, hezekiah, prayer

How to pray: an example in Hezekiah

Prayer is important. I hope you all have a vibrant and active prayer life. I don’t pray as often as I should and I know I don’t pray as I ought, but I do pray and I’m not ashamed to pray at any place at any time for any reason. I just love talking with Jesus.

Very often essays or sermons on prayer focus on the Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:5-13). This is good and reasonable, after all, the Disciples had asked how to pray and Jesus answered them. We have a point-blank lesson from Jesus on how to pray.

But there are other important and wonderful prayers in the bible we can see as a Godly model. Hannah’s prayer, (1 Samuel 1:10-18), Mary’s prayer, (Luke 1:46-55), and Hezekiah’s prayer.

I’m reading 2 Kings. Hezekiah, 13th King of Judah, was a king like no other before him or after him. The LORD was pleased with Hezekiah. In the fourteenth year of Hezekiah’s reign, a situation occurred. In the throes of the situation, Sennacherib king of Assyria sent Hezekiah a letter indicating he was about to invade. Hezekiah’s response and his prayer are recorded both in 2 Kings 19 and in Isaiah 37. Here is the prayer from Isaiah 37:14-20,

Hezekiah’s Prayer for Deliverance

Hezekiah’s Prayer for Deliverance

14Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it; and Hezekiah went up to the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord. 15And Hezekiah prayed to the Lord: 16“O Lord of hosts, God of Israel, enthroned above the cherubim, you are the God, you alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; you have made heaven and earth. 17Incline your ear, O Lord, and hear; open your eyes, O Lord, and see; and hear all the words of Sennacherib, which he has sent to mock the living God. 18Truly, O Lord, the kings of Assyria have laid waste all the nations and their lands, 19and have cast their gods into the fire. For they were no gods, but the work of men’s hands, wood and stone. Therefore they were destroyed. 20So now, O Lord our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are the Lord.”.”

Isn’t that just beautiful! How humble and loving and God-fearing!

I’ll add some comments from the MacArthur study bible.

Verse 14: Godly Hezekiah returned to the House of the Lord as he should have, whereas Ahaz in a similar crisis refused to even as for a sign from the LORD.

Verse 16: The basis for Hezekiah’s plea was God’s role as Sovereign and Creator of the Universe, not Judah’s worthiness to be delivered.

Verse 17: hear…see…hear…- in contrast to the gods of other nations the God of Israel heard and saw all.

Verse 18-19: Hezekiah exploded the Assyrian theory that the LORD was no different from other gods of the other nations that they could not deliver their worshipers.

Verse 20: Hezekiah displayed the highest motivation of all in requesting the salvation of Jerusalem- that the world may know that the LORD alone is God.

I just love that mental scene of Hezekiah spreading out the letter before the LORD. It is so beautiful, such intimate conversation between God and His servant, the LORD being so real and alive to Hezekiah. I love how he went immediately to the Lord for help. We can learn much from Hezekiah’s example.

Please consider these wonderful things as you pray. Remember that God said of Hezekiah,

And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done. … He trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel, so that there was none like him among all the kings of Judah after him, nor among those who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord. He did not depart from following him, but kept the commandments that the Lord commanded Moses. And the Lord was with him…” (2 Kings 18:3, 5-7a)

Posted in foxe's book of martyrs, martyr, persecution, prayer

Sunday Martyr Moment: Seven soldiers in a cave

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, continued

In the year of our Lord 251, the emperor Decius having erected a pagan temple at Ephesus, he commanded all who were in that city to sacrifice to the idols. This order was nobly refused by seven of his own soldiers, viz. Maximianus, Martianus, Joannes, Malchus, Dionysius, Seraion, and Constantinus. The emperor wishing to win these soldiers to renounce their faith by his entreaties, gave them leniency and said that they would be allowed a considerable respite until he returned from an expedition. During the emperor’s absence, they escaped, and hid themselves in a cavern. The soldiers’ hiding place was discovered, and it was ordered sealed up, so that they would die of hunger and thirst.

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

The Voice of the Martyrs blog posted a story recently about how difficult it is for Chinese missionaries who obey God to enter the Tibetan mission field. One of those difficulties is the deep spiritual darkness of the region. It is Buddhist, and idols are everywhere. Here is an excerpt of a wonderful short essay about those difficulties, and the grace of God which strengthens and enables the missionaries to persevere.

The biggest obstacle faced by Chinese missionaries, however, is the intense spiritual warfare being waged in the region. Tibet is a Buddhist stronghold. The vast majority of the Tibetan people adhere to this religion. “The streets are full of idols,” says the Chinese missionary. “All of these people worship these idols.”

“A quick walk through the old part of Lhasa confirms this statement. Everywhere you walk and at all hours of the day, people are ceaselessly mumbling chants, rubbing their prayer beads in calloused fingers and spinning prayer wheels. According to the missionary, penetrating this spiritual darkness is extremely difficult – many of the Chinese Christians in the area, he says, are lazy and weak of faith as a result. Many more go home, disillusioned and discouraged.”

“As if these challenges weren’t enough, Chinese missionaries are often persecuted by the Chinese government, which maintains very strict control on religion in Tibet. Chinese missionaries have been thrown in prison and even kicked out of the province as a result of their efforts to evangelize the Tibetan. Evangelism in Tibet must be conducted very covertly and on a small scale level in order to avoid the wrath of the authorities.

In Lhasa, everywhere Buddhists are ceaselessly mumbling chants,
rubbing prayer beads in calloused fingers and spinning prayer wheels.(source)

The fingers of the Buddhist are calloused because they pray and pray but no one is listening.

But your iniquities have separated you from your God; And your sins have hidden His face from you, So that He will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).

Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him (John 9:31).

The seven soldiers that the Emperor sealed up in the cave died a horrible death. Though not as painful as some of the Christians who were being actively tortured, the soldiers took a long time to die, in agonizing thirst, alone in the dark. Except … they were not alone.

I am sure that they prayed to our Holy God for comfort and to supplicate to Him. They laid down their lives for His glory. Being a faithful God, would not leave them alone in their moment of truth but accept the sacrifice of their lives and their dying prayers as the glory He deserves and demands. I wonder if the LORD sent an angel to minister to them as they lay dying. I wonder if they heard His voice whisper comfort to them. I wonder if they gained supernatural strength to pray and sing even as their wasted bodies lay shriveled and dying.

Even in death, the loss of the breath in the body is nothing, as long as there exists a blessed supernatural highway of communication between ourselves and our precious Savior. For the Buddhist, spinning wheels and counting beads, there is only blackness, emptiness, and darkness. They have the high altitude sunlight but have hearts of stone and dwell in the dark, while the 7 soldiers had the darkness of a cave, but the Light of glory at the end. No matter your situation today, whether you are in a real cave-like dark prison for the faith, or you are in a metaphorical dark cave of bad circumstances, you always know that you can pray. We are confident in Him.

And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15)

Posted in prayer, sin

Praying for wholesome desires

“Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.” (1 Peter 2:11).

That’s hard to do. My sinful desires are always cropping up, willfully and forcefully. Even Paul had that problem.

“For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” (Romans 7:15).

In a way, it is a comfort to read that Paul struggled with this. He wasn’t a superhero, immune to the sins of the flesh and impervious to the influence of the culture. He was a real guy, and he struggled with putting the ‘old man’ down. We are a new creation in Jesus, but as long as we are in the flesh, we still struggle with the sin that wants to influence us to do evil actions.

“And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13).

Pulpit Commentary sums up that petition contained in the Lord’s Prayer that we are to make: “The words are a cry issuing from a deep sense of our personal weakness against the powers of evil.”

Personal weakness indeed! For me, it is a total helplessness, the only antidote of which is for the Holy Spirit to aid me. For is is the Spirit which reveals the things of Christ and thus, His holy desires for us. (John 16:14).

Do a word search in an online bible for “desires” and see how often the word appears, to the negative. (1 Timothy 6:9, 2 Timothy 4:3, Ephesians 2:3, Acts 15:29, Romans 6:12, and so on)

The good news for those of us who believe is, the death and resurrection of Jesus on the cross means that He broke that domination. (Galatians 5:24). As He gradually sanctifies us, making us a new creation, we will always struggle on this side of the veil, but the Spirit helps us reflect Jesus as He conforms us to His likeness, day by day. (Ezekiel 36:27). The fruits of the Spirit are proof that the new creation in us is growing. (Galatians 5:19-21).

The process isn’t passive. Peter said that this is a war. Sinful desires are waging war in your flesh. They won’t win in the end, because Jesus will perfect us at the resurrection. But meanwhile, these sinful desires have an influence on us because our flesh isn’t glorified yet. So, Peter says to abstain.

A powerful weapon in our arsenal is to pray for wholesome desires. We abstain, or as Joseph did, run. (Genesis 39:11-13). We also submit to the helpful influence of the Holy Spirit by actively praying for Him to substitute the old sinful desires into wholesome ones!

What a great thing, to honor Jesus by praying that He place within our hearts the desires of HIS heart! Doing this glorifies Him. Jonathan Edwards said,

“God’s purpose for my life was that I have a passion for God’s glory and that I have a passion for my joy in that glory, and that these two are one passion.”

Praying for wholesome desires draws us into that happy circle ever tighter, the center of which is our Holy God, the effectual Spirit, and our faithful and true Savior.

His Goodness to us is infinite and a complete delight to continually discover. He helps us in our need and in our weakness. Thank you Father.

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” (Psalm 136:1)

Posted in grace, jesus, prayer, spiritual armor

Put on your armor and cling to the Rock!

Here is some good scripture for you. I hope it motivates and comforts you, as it does me:

“10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”

“16In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, 19and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.” (Ephesians 6:10-20).

Look back at the first verse, be strong, this is a command, but do it in HIS might. We know we are not strong, we are weak. Therefore the Spirit helps us in our weakness. (Romans 8:26). The Lord sends ministering angels. (Hebrews 1:14, Hebrews 13:2). He sends armor, as we read above. This support is sent to us because we must never forget we are in a battle. We are not warring against people. The ungodly act the way they do because they cannot help it. The Godly act the way they do because the flesh is weak and we stumble, but we are to love and restore because we stand on the same blood-soaked ground together that Christ died for us. Those are the only classes of people, unsaved and saved. Therefore, we do not war against people. Our battle is spiritual. (Photo- be strong and stand firm, you’re on the Rock! photo credit: Dru! via photopin cc)

In the case of the Spirit, He is in us and we follow His lead. We do nothing except follow. In the case of the angels, we are unaware of how or when they help us, but we trust His word that they do. We do nothing because we don’t know they are there. In the case of the armor, we must do something- put it on and wield it.

Whatever portion or part of the armor you need today, wield it. I am wielding the shield of faith so as to extinguish the darts of the evil one. Barnes Notes explains beautifully why this one is the most important of the suit of armor:

“Faith here is made to occupy a more important place than either of the other Christian graces. It bears, to the whole Christian character, the same relation which the shield does to the other parts of the armor of a soldier. It protects all, and is indispensable to the security of all, as is the case with the shield. The shield was an ingenious device by which blows and arrows might be parried off, and the whole body defended. It could be made to protect the head, or the heart, or thrown behind to meet all attack there. As long as the soldier had his shield, he felt secure; and as long as a Christian has faith, he is safe. It comes to his aid in every attack that is made on him, no matter from what quarter; it is the defense and guardian of every other Christian grace; and it secures the protection which the Christian needs in the whole of the spiritual war.”

Look at the part of the verse which states we are fighting against the “cosmic powers.” Does that make you feel like a superhero? It should, partly! It is Christ in us who overcame and overcomes the cosmic powers, He is THE Superhero. But it is completely amazing that He uses us in the battle! Life on earth is really a long training session in Gladiator School, lol.

When He sends us out as sheep among wolves, He does not leave us alone! (Matthew 10:16). He does not save us just to leave us alone in the middle of the pasture with a pack of wolves out to get us. We are not alone. Oh, the wolves are there, and will try hard to devour the sheep, but those who endure and hold fast will be shown in the end to be the righteous ones. (Matthew 10:26). Meanwhile, we have armor, and help.

The passage above goes on with even more tremendous ammunition- prayer! Verse 18 reminds us of the power of prayer as we do our acts for God. Never feel like you’re ‘bugging God’ with too many petitions. We are told to do so. ‘Make supplication at all times in the Spirit’. Oh, wait, that was another very present help that’s listed in the passage! The Spirit! He is so gracious to send all these helps!

When you have the whole armor on, stand firm. After all, He sent His Son to retrieve us from the clutches of the evil one. He overcame so that we would not be snatched out of His hand. He sends squads of angels. He gives armor. He sent the Spirit to dwell in us. He gave us each other to encourage each other. He encourages prayer, listens, and answers. He sent His word to strengthen us and equip us. Wow!

He sent His grace, which is sufficient. His grace alone is sufficient to win the battle. Yet how much more abundantly does He equip us to withstand these present evil days!

Stand firm. Have faith. Love God and Fear His name. You will be all right 🙂

Posted in john macarthur, prayer, rcc

A note about the brethren who live under the shadow of the Catholic Church

Yesterday, Pastor John MacArthur posted an introduction to a new blog series. It is called, A Timely Critique of the Catholic Church.

He wrote,

“Last week Pope Benedict XVI made the historic and unexpected announcement that he will soon retire … In the coming days and weeks, you’re likely to find yourself in a variety of conversations about the Catholic Church with friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors—each one an opportunity to shed biblical light on a topic that everyone will be talking about. And when the Lord brings those opportunities, I want you to be able to speak with clarity and authority regarding the truth of God’s Word and the corrupt idolatry of Roman Catholicism.”

In the first installation of the series, Pastor MacArthur pulled no punches. He said, “The fact is, the most formidable, relentless, and deceptive enemy in Satan’s long war on the truth has been Roman Catholicism. It’s an apostate, corrupt, heretical, false Christianity—a thinly veiled façade for the kingdom of Satan.”

His blog allows comments and I read them all last night. I came to one comment in particular, and I was just stricken to the heart. I admit, I did get emotional over it, and I prayed. The comment may not strike you the same way as it did me, but I post it here for you to consider. It is from a brother in South America. He opens with blessing Pastor MacArthur:

God bless you. Thank you for this resource. I live in Colombia where Catholicism has a huge influence and evangelical Christians are seen as an apostate sect.

I’m a journalist with a tv show in a secular channel, where I dedicate many programs to spread the truth and present many Christian testimonies. In my Facebook page I’ve had strong debates against many Catholic positions in many topics. The latest was the spiritual significance of the carnival (Mardi Gras) in our city, Barranquilla. It is the world’s second largest after Rio de Janeiro, according to Wikipedia. I’ve been alerting everyone about this, being the son of a carnival queen and the father of a carnival queen, member of the board of the entity which runs the carnival. Opposing to that is the Catholic Church. It’s archbishop and priests give their blessing to this pagan and satanic festival. It’s outrageous!

I can’t say enough about the spiritual damage the Catholic Church does in countries like mine where their influence is enormous.

Resources like this one are very helpful for people like me that like to preach the Truth not being a pastor or teacher of the Word of God, and only a disciple of Grace to You and John MacArthur’s teachings and writings. I listen to you daily on the web through KDRY of San Antonio, have your podcasts and read your books.

I just dream that we could have a Grace to You church in my town, dedicated to the teaching of the Truth of Scriptures. That would be a gigantic blessing because we have a lot of Christian Churches of all sizes, but many don’t preach the Gospel as it is and others are preaching the prosperity gospel.

So, there is a ton of work to be done and I just try to contribute from my position as a public figure in journalism to spread the true Gospel of Jesus.

Thank you for all you do and I must say you have been a blessing to me and my understanding of God’s Word “one verse at a time”!

May God bless you and your marvelous ministry.

Manuel De la Rosa; Barranquilla, Colombia, South America

There are two missionaries I know in Guatemala right now. They came and spoke to our church about the deep spiritual darkness of Central and South America, directly due to the Catholic Church. Their talk touched me deeply, and aroused a fervent inclination to oppose the Catholic Church where and when I can.

Mr De la Rosa of Barranquilla, Colombia’s comment was deeply humbling. As I prayed, I envisioned the darkness of so many millions in that place; the delusion of so many Catholic congregants; the wails and gnashing of teeth on the Day of the LORD when they discover to their eternal regret of the horrific ramifications of their spiritual choice.

But more than that, the comment touched in me a joy for our brethren who labor in obscurity in the dark places. In addition to spiritually cold and dead locations like Europe, and dangerous places like in the Muslim nations, the task is monumental for our Christian brethren in South America, as Mr De la Rosa indicated.

It is hard for an ’emotion’ or an ‘attitude’ to bleed through the monitor of the laptop, but this one did. His joy in persevering, his graciousness in accepting the sphere in which the Lord has placed him, and the heartfelt love for Jesus that is obvious from this man all touched me deeply.

Please remember to pray for our brethren who do not enjoy the liberties as we have in the US, and where spiritual warfare is more real and present and in greater force. And please, if you would be so kind, think of Mr De la Rosa, and the people like him, who humbly preach the truth in obscurity in a mature and gracious way.

It was a joy to read a fellow believer’s struggle and to see his servant’s heart. Though the task is daunting, we are one united body, spread all over the world, to be the Light for Jesus and to give Him glory. And…there are brethren who toil tirelessly, UNdaunted by the task, because they know who their Master is.

Pray for each other.

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

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people,” (1 Timothy 2:1)

Posted in buddhism, jesus, prayer, tibet

Tibetans wonder why 100 self-immolations won’t bring about a "Tibetan Spring"

I read the following this morning, and it got me thinking:

As Self-Immolations Near 100, Tibetans Question the Effect
“A crowd of Tibetans came here to India’s capital last week, bearing flags and political banners and a bittersweet mixture of hope and despair. A grim countdown was under way: The number of Tibetans who have set themselves on fire to protest Chinese rule in Tibet had reached 99, one short of an anguished milestone. Yet as that milestone hung over the estimated 5,000 Tibetans who gathered in a small stadium, so did an uncertainty about whether the rest of the world was paying attention at all. In speeches, Tibetan leaders described the self-immolations as the desperate acts of a people left with no other way to draw global attention to Chinese policies in Tibet. … Billed as the Tibetan People’s Solidarity Campaign, the four-day gathering featured protests, marches, Buddhist prayer sessions and political speeches in an attempt to push Tibet back onto a crowded international agenda. If the Arab Spring has inspired hope among some Tibetans that political change is always possible, it has also offered a sobering reminder that no two situations are the same, nor will the international community respond in the same fashion.”

In Tibet prayer is going on most of the time. Tibetans pray in a special way. They believe that when certain sounds and words, called mantras, are said many times, they arouse good vibrations within the person. If a mantra is repeated often enough it can open up the mind to a consciousness which is beyond words and thoughts.

The reference in the article to the Arab Spring was the incident where “the catalyst for the escalation of Muslim protests was the self-immolation of Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi. Unable to find work and selling fruit at a roadside stand, on 17 December 2010, a municipal inspector confiscated his wares. An hour later he doused himself with gasoline and set himself afire. His death on 4 January brought together various groups dissatisfied with the existing government system, including many unemployed, political and human rights activists, labor, trade unionists, students, professors, lawyers, and others to begin the Tunisian revolution” which in turn fueled the rest of the nations that ended up participating in the Arab Spring throughout 2011. You can read about Bouazazi’s story here. When Bouazazi died, protesters filled the streets chanting, “Farewell, Mohammed, we will avenge you. We weep for you today. We will make those who caused your death weep.” And they did. They made the world weep, and it is still weeping, but not in the way they intended.

The Tibetans keep burning themselves up but the people’s and the government’s reaction is not the same, and they wonder why. In the flesh, one reason is that the Tunisians themselves who reacted to the self-immolation of Bouazazi, protesting the current status and enacting change- mostly through violence. The Tibetans who self-immolate, expect the government to change as the reaction to the act of martyrdom. It won’t happen. In the spirit, though, ultimately all change is brought about by God. He sets up kings and governments and he takes them down. (Daniel 2:21, Psalm 75:7).

What got me thinking was the tragedy of it all. Neither Muslims nor Buddhists are saved. Therefore I think of the horrified reaction of Bouazazi and all 99 of the Tibetan monks who self-immolated. In Bouazazi’s case, he was angry and his act was borne out of frustration and rage against the corrupt government. In his last act of anger and frustration, he self-immolated a mere one hour after the government officials confiscated his fruit vendor scales.

The Tibetans who protest Chinese occupation in their homeland of Tibet also hope to make a positive change in a way that displays just as much frustration but in a non-violent way. Yet in all cases, the self-immolates woke up in hell. How horrible to have performed an ultimate act of self-sacrifice on behalf of your fellow countrymen only to find out to your eternal horror that your benevolent act landed you in hell, enduring God’s wrath forever. Whether Muslim or Buddhist, nice guy or evil one, upon your death it means that you will go to hell.

What do Tibetan Buddhists believe?

Tibetan Buddhism’s goal of spiritual development is to achieve a special enlightenment called Buddhahood in order to best help all other sentient beings attain this same state. Buddahood is a state of perfect omniscience, attained by self effort and/or adherence to teachings. (Omniscience is the state of knowing all things, having total knowledge).

The great mystic Padmasambhava (more commonly known in the region as Guru Rinpoche) merged tantric Buddhism with the local Bön religion to form what is now recognized as Tibetan Buddhism. While there are many forms of Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism adheres to the following as some of its main principles:

–That all existence and manifestation can be found in one’s experience, that that experience is with one’s own mind, and that Mind is the source and the creator of all things.

–That Mind is an infinitely vast, unfathomably deep complex of marvels, its immensity and depth being inaccessible to the uninitiated.

–“Buddha-Mind is a GREAT ILLUMINATING-VOID AWARENESS”. The experience of enlightenment of the void is simple to state. It is the experience of awareness only, awareness that is aware of nothing at all except the existence of awareness itself.

–That the infinite compassion, merit, and marvels will spontaneously forth when this Buddha-Mind is fully unfolded. (source)

& etc. and so on.

When a Buddhist exalts one’s mind as the pinnacle of all experience and knowledge, it is really an exaltation of the self.

When a Tibetan Buddhist prays, they set up a prayer flag. These prayer flags were ones I took a photo of in San Francisco. Wikipedia says, “Prayer flags are used to promote peace, compassion, strength, and wisdom. The flags do not carry prayers to gods, a common misconception; rather, the Tibetans believe the prayers and mantras will be blown by the wind to spread the good will and compassion into all pervading space. Therefore, prayer flags are thought to bring benefit to all.”

So if the wind blows over the flag while you are walking near it, you will derive some benefit as its sacred air then passes over you…

To sum up, Tibetan Buddhism teaches by self-effort to become a little god. No? Yes, because they teach that one can attain by self-effort a perfect omniscience and a perfect compassion. However at the root of that perfect knowledge, is voiding one’s self of all sentience. Being aware of nothing is the goal, so that there are no hindrances to being able to help other people. First I must become perfect by emptying myself of all deisre, so than I can in turn help you, who is not perfect, being filled with desires.

Further, this little god-hood continues in a special level in Arya-bodhisattvas. These are ones who have attained a higher level and are able to escape the cycle of death and rebirth but compassionately choose to remain in this world to assist others in reaching nirvana or buddhahood. Yet no one can choose to escape the cycle of death, (and there is no rebirth, except for being born again in Christ) for God said,

“See now that I myself am He! There is no god besides me. I put to death and I bring to life, I have wounded and I will heal, and no one can deliver out of my hand.” (Deuteronomy 32:39)

There is no way to deny that a Tibetan Buddhist teaches a path through self-effort of becoming a little god. Being perfectly omniscient, perfectly compassionate, being able to create all things by your own self, and conquering death is what a god does. As James Stephens says in Ministry Today Magazine, “Buddhist theology and practice is antithetical to biblical Christianity. For instance, the Buddhist objective in meditation is to empty one’s mind while seeking union with the cosmos, ultimately buying into the Serpent’s ancient lie, “You shall become as gods.”

However the entire exercise is ironic, because though a Buddhist believes that all existence and manifestation can be found in one’s experience, it is ultimately the goal to destroy one’ awareness of one’s experience, and become void. Nothingness is the goal. How hopeless. How futile.

A Buddhist is without hope to begin with, and then spends a lifetime destroying any glimmer of any hope after that to become one big void. I can only see that despair is at the end of the road for a Buddhist.

Buddhism has deities, though Buddha himself is not generally thought of as a god. The Tibetan deities are, the Five Great Buddhas of Wisdom which are able to overcome a particular evil by performing a particular good, the Wrathful Deities, and Tara, the savior goddess.

I feel deep compassion for the Tibetan monks who have a desire to help humanity. Who devote their entire lifetimes to prayer and helps for their fellow man, Who even sacrifice their own lives in hope that their death will make a positive difference. But all their efforts are in vain. God does not listen to sinners. So the Tibetan monk’s prayer is unheard of by the only One who can answer. Tara does not exist. No Buddhist created anything of this earth. No person can become omniscient. Only God is omniscient.

The hubris in believing that man can attain these things on his own is a grave sin in itself.

Tara does not exist. The Wrathful Deities do not exist. They are figments of man’s vain imagination. Of the one true salvation deity, CARM.org describes salvation, “salvation is the state of being saved from God’s judgment upon the sinner. The only way to be saved is to trust Jesus for the forgiveness of one’s sins (John 14:6, Acts 4:12). All who do not trust Jesus alone, by faith (Rom. 5:1; Rom. 6:23; Eph. 2:8-9) are not forgiven and go to hell when they die (Matt. 25:46; John 3:18). When Jesus forgives someone, He forgives all their sins and gives them eternal life and they shall never perish (John 10:28).

When I drop my pencil, I go ‘oops’ When I stub my toe, I go “OOPS!” Those are mistakes that are easily recovered from. When a Muslim or a Tibetan Buddhist self-immolates, dies, and arrives in hell, ‘oops’ doesn’t begin to cover it. Discovering after all that the Christians were right, God does exist and He does require belief in Jesus to attain ‘nirvana’, is a mistake of eternal proportions. It barely is possible to comprehend the horror and fear of a person who hastened their own eternal destruction. It is why I don’t hate the Muslims who flew the planes into the Twin Towers, Pentagon and that Pennsylvania field. What can I possibly say about them that they are not saying themselves for all eternity? That God won’t say to them when they face Him on judgment day? I mourn the futility of the Tibetans’ acts, seeing as they are sinners in the hands of an angry God who will say- ‘I am omniscient, YOU thought you could become like Me?!

“I am the LORD, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isaiah 45:5a)

This blog entry was about the futility of false religions and the compassion Christians should have on people who are in the dark. If you are a Buddhist reading this, and wondering why you’re not further along the “path” to nirvana, please read the following article

I am a Buddhist, why should I consider becoming a Christian?

Unfortunately, Buddhist practices are creeping steadily into Christianity. If you are a Christian who senses that your friend, relative or your church is starting to mix Buddhism with Christian practices (such as “contemplative prayer” or contemplative meditation, yoga, chanting, etc) Matt Slick at CARM.org offers these resources for help:

“Two of the best resources that make a clear distinction between Christianity and world religions such as Buddhism are “Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message,” written by Ravi Zacharias, and “The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog,” by James Sire. Zacharias examines the truth claims of Jesus Christ and the exclusivity of the Christian message against the messages of other faiths, while Sire lays the philosophical foundations that undergird every worldview and then analyses the major religions and the solutions they offer to each worldview category/question.

Ray Yungen, author of “A Time of Departing,” and “For Many Shall Come in My Name,” and Warren Smith, author of “The Light That Was Dark,” and “A Wonderful Deception,” demonstrate that eastern meditative practices are not harmless as many Christians insist but are instead dangerous dabbling with occultism. You also may try such online resources as Probe Ministries, which has several informative pieces on the subject, as well as Leadership U which also has many good articles on Buddhism.”

Probe Ministries article on Buddhism

And this one from Probe, “Can Christians practice Buddhism?

Christians should pray constantly in gratitude that He sent the spirit of repentance upon us and gave us the Light of Jesus in our souls. What a relief I am not in the dark anymore! Despite Buddhists’ attempts at a life of goodness and compassion, non-violence and prayer, Buddhists are still sinners in need of Jesus. Buddhists need witnessing to as well.

Posted in prayer, ravenhill, revival

Why we need revival, according to Leonard Ravenhill

In a Revival conference from 1989, Leonard Ravenhill was asked what is the greatest need in the church in America today?

“for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” (Jeremiah 2:13)

“No matter how big your church is, the Sunday Morning attendance doesn’t matter… everyone goes to church on Sunday morning. Instead, Ravenhill asked, “How many have you got in your prayer meeting? The prayer meeting is almost dead. “I believe the spiritual condition in America at this moment lower than it was during the revival 1700s revival with Jonathan Edwards. We have forsaken God, in particular we have forsaken the prayer meeting.”

Pray!

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” (Philippians 4:6)

Prayer offers access by one Spirit unto the Father through Christ. (Ephesians 2:18)

God hears prayer. He hears it, He will not forsake you!

–“O thou that hearest prayer, unto thee shall all flesh come.” (Psalms 65:2)
–“And when he had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. (Revelation 5:8)

Prayer brings revival. Pray!

Posted in prayer

Pray ceaselessly

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

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

Posted in bible, God, prayer

This made me laugh: Peter and his impetuousness

I’m reading a small pamphlet called “Found: God’s Will.” I plan to donate it to my church library and I’m reading it in advance of that, though I know that the author is solid and the information will be good.

So I am on this part discussing Peter’s experience with Jesus in several settings. In this one, they are on the boat.

“Suddenly one of the men in the boat looked out and said, “Someone is walking on the water!” Sure enough, with robes flowing in the wind, here comes Jesus walking across the whitecaps.

Peter cried out, “Is that You, Lord?”
The Lord answered, “It is I”
Peter said, “Can I come?”

“You may wonder why Peter said that. Why didn’t he wait in the boat until Jesus got there? But that wouldn’t have been like Peter. He said to himself, ‘Jesus is over there. I am over here. That is not good. I must go over there.’ It never entered his mind that normally he was not able to walk on water. That was not even a problem.When he saw Jesus, he had such a desire to be with Him, that he went.”

LOL! ‘It never entered his mind that normally he was not able to walk on water“… Is your desire to be near Jesus that strong, that the impulse to be near to Him overrides all else?

How do we be near Jesus these days? First, we repent of our sins and become saved. If we are not saved, we are outside His body. God does not lead those who have not received Jesus as personal Savior. If you are not with Him, you are against Him. (Matthew 12:30). The first step is to be saved, that brings you so close to Jesus that he sends the Holy Spirit to be inside you! Talk about close!

Next, we have to die to self. It is our flesh and our will that separates us from Jesus. When we are not saved it is our sins that keep us from him, our flesh wanting to say and do things that oppose Him. When we are saved, the fleshly will and lusts do not go away. Unchecked and unrepented fleshly sins do cause us to be distant from Jesus, even if we are saved, (Proverbs 28:13) though we do not lose our salvation. But our lusts can be held in check by submission to the Holy Spirit and He helps us resist sin. We do not have the power or the will to do that but the Spirit does. So Jesus said,

“Luke 9:23-24 (NIV) Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it.”

Also, pray frequently. Colossians 4:2 says to “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” Devote is a strong word, the Greek means to persevere in, to remain steadfastly upon. Don’t become lax in your prayer life, sending up a quickie prayer before bed and falling asleep in the middle of it. The prayers of the saints are heard by the Holy God in His courts!

“The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand.” (Revelation 8:4)

Have you pondered lately what a privilege it is to pray to God and that He promises to hear them? We have a Holy and Loving God on His throne, with Jesus sitting by His side interceding for us. (Romans 8:34) Wow! Get excited over that!

So, to be close to Jesus we are born again, we die to self daily, and we pray devotedly. What else could we do to stay close to Jesus’ side? Read His Word, of course. That is what Peter was doing- propelling himself toward the Word.

When we pray we speak to Him, but when we read His Word, He speaks to us. Everything we need to know about truth, Godly living, prayer, fasting, parenting, working, serving…it is all in there. Does the Word sit on your shelf, gathering dust?. Does it languish in the back seat of your car, fading? Or is it well-worn, spine cracked, pages wrinkled, children familiar? Personally I find the Word fascinating and beautiful. God sent the Word in the flesh to us, (John 1:14) and after that He sent the Word to us in the closed canon of the bible. (Revelation 22:21). He says things like this in it:

“The precepts of the LORD are right, giving joy to the heart. The commands of the LORD are radiant, giving light to the eyes.” (Psalm 19:8)

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.” (Colossians 3:12)

We are dearly loved, by the Holy God! Not just loved, but dearly loved! So dearly love Him back and read what He has to say to us, read about His nature and character as He reveals it. How can we serve a Jesus we don’t know? How can we love Him back if we do not know Whom we are loving?

There are many things we do to stay close to the Lord, but I’ll end with this one. Stay faithful through trials, dear ones. Stay faithful. Trials come, they do to all born again believers. Peter said to rejoice when they come. Why rejoice?

“These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.” (1 Peter 1:7)

The glory of Jesus Christ! And that is what everything we do is all about: the closer we are to Him the more glory we can reflect back on Him! It is all about He who is coming soon to gather His children to His bosom and take us home. (Isaiah 40:11). His glory is so pure, so bright that no one can see it and live. (Exodus 33:20). But when he collects us, we will be transformed, (1 Corinthians 15:51). We will see it! What a sight that will be! (1 John 3:2)

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Posted in board of education campbell county, end time, prayer, prophecy

TN Board of Education members told they could not pray before meetings

A couple of news stories piqued my interest today.

LaFollette Press (TN): TN Board of Education may not pray, it’s against the law
“During the meeting Attorney Cantrell took the opportunity to make the group aware of legislation that impacts their meeting agendas. According to Cantrell, Tennessee falls into the only United States district that does not allow school boards to have prayer after the meeting begins. “As of right now you cannot pray at a board of education meeting,” Cantrell said noting the Tennessee School Board Association is adamant about strictly following the law.”

“Speaking as a member of the Anderson County Board of Education Cantrell said that board had circumvented the law by gathering 15 minutes prior to the meeting to have prayer and a short devotional given by a member of the local clergy. Board members including J.L. “Sarge” Collins and Josh Parker spoke out in favor of finding a way to protest the law against prayer before board meetings. From the back of the room County Commissioner Rusty Orick stood to offer his opinion on the matter. “I wouldn’t back off from this. This is what has happened to our country,” Orick said of allowing a few to determine the direction of the whole. Parker agreed with Orick’s comments adding “some things are worth fighting for.” Chairman Mike Orick suggested the group follow Anderson County’s lead and meet prior to the start of the next board meeting for a time of prayer.”

1/12/2011 School Board Report By: Boomer Winfrey;
“The Campbell County Board of Education was told Tuesday night that they are going to have to end their tradition of leading off their monthly meetings with a prayer. At a meeting that due to weather and slick roads, was sparsely attended and promised to be both short and routine, this advice from the board attorney had some board members ready to go to war, or at least to court. Attorney Dail Cantrell told board members that the Tennessee School Board Association has notified all local boards that the federal Sixth Judicial District in Cincinnati has ruled that leading public school board meetings with a prayer violates the constitutional separation of church and state.”

“This is not the case nationally, as many federal courts in other areas of the country have allowed prayer at the beginning of meetings, but the Sixth District is one of the most liberal-leaning courts,” Cantrell claimed, adding, “It includes Ohio, which has the largest percentage of atheists of any state in the country.” “You cannot pray immediately before the meeting, the TSBA is adamant that you can’t do it,” Cantrell added. “You can meet before the board meeting begins if you wish but not at the public meeting.” Cantrell, who is also a member of the Anderson County School Board, suggested that Campbell County board members, if they wish, could do what they have decided to do in Anderson County and gather 15 minutes before the meeting for a short prayer. J. L. “Sarge” Collins asked if Congress has passed a law forbidding prayer at board meetings.”

“When told it was a judicial ruling, he asked what would happen if the Campbell County board refused to go along with the ruling. “They could put the board in jail,” Cantrell flatly replied. “There’s a lot of smart people in this room, it seems we could start the protest here in Campbell County,” Collins observed. County Commissioner Rusty Orick, sitting in the audience, told board members, “I wouldn’t back off on this, I’d stand my ground and fight it.” When board members were recognized at the end of the regular agenda, however, Josh Parker insisted, “We should stand our ground on the prayer issue. I’ll go to jail with you. I agree with Sarge, this is worth fighting for.”
————————————-
It IS something worth fighting for. I admire the group of men who are taking a stand for their faith. I ask all of us to pray for these men and to pray for brethren across the country and the world we do not know personally but who may be having their faith infringed upon at this moment.

There is quite a bit of debate these days amongst Christians who are asking if we are going to be persecuted before the Tribulation. It’s a bit myopic to ask that if you are in America, because from the moment Jesus ascended Christians were persecuted. Millions have lost their lives for His name. Christians are being persecuted this minute in Baghdad, Lebanon, Egypt, Indonesia, and many other places. They are being machete’d, burned, hung, and hunted. He said “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.” (John 15:18-20). I still think it is a legitimate question, because we can talk about levels of oppression and persecution. My personal opinion is that I do not think that here in America Christians will be killed for their faith (before the Tribulation begins). But it is increasingly apparent that even in freedom-loving America, Christians are being forced to make hard choices every day.

Our pastor says that we should be ready to make tough choices. The time is now, he says, when we may be faced with that choice. I read these articles and I thought about that statement and I thought about the choices the Board members may indeed have to make within the next few weeks.

They stood firm on their faith and vowed to fight. I applaud that. I applaud the very fact that they get together and have a devotional and a prayer before the meeting,. It is as it should be! They seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance in order to govern well, something that is right and proper. The bible calls for those in power to be wise. “Now therefore, be wise, O kings; Be instructed, you judges of the earth” says Psalm 2:10, and just where are they supposed to get that wisdom? The Holy Spirit of course! And the best way to access the Spirit is through prayer. In Jeremiah 22:16 the LORD says “He [the King] defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?” declares the LORD.” Caring for those who are under you in government with compassion and through the LORD is what it means to be a representative of government.

But when happens when the police come to the next meeting, with warrant and handcuffs, and the Board members must make a choice to pray and face arrest, or succumb to pressure? And make that choice knowing that their family and children depend on his income to eat. Will they still pray? To some people it is given to have a big battle and in that battle the LORD’s name is being erased in big swoops as Christians lose their lives. To other Christians they are given a smaller but still important battle, where the forces of evil are erasing the name of the Lord from public life inch by inch. Defending the Lord means not only dying through a stoning, but it means inch by inch battles in the halls of justice, courts, government, and public life. Whether or not to retreat from that line is a choice we all may have to make. Pray for the Tennessee Board Members named here. I pray that when you and I are faced with that choice, we may stand for Him, unflinchingly, because someone prayed for us.

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