Posted in sin, theology

The Last Day of an Unconverted Man

By Elizabeth Prata

On a fine and bright winter’s day, an unconverted man left his fine and comfortable home, and drove toward town. Where he was going…only God knows. Perhaps to the store to pick up a newspaper or milk. Perhaps to the diner to commune with cronies. Perhaps just to take a nice drive along the shore and admire the day. Continue reading “The Last Day of an Unconverted Man”

Posted in earthquake, ecuador, god's wrath, sin

Powerful 7.8 quake hits Ecuador

7.8 magnitude quake 170 miles WNW of Quito Ecuador.

Screaming shoppers run for their lives as powerful 7.8 earthquake strikes Ecuador

… Ecuador’s Vice President Jorge Glas said in a televised address that the dead were located in the cities of Manta, Guayaquil and Portoviejo. He said the earthquake was the strongest to hit Ecuador in decades. … The major jolt came as rescuers in Japan were racing against the weather and the threat of more landslides to reach people still trapped by two big earthquakes that hit that country’s south.

Deadly earthquake hits Ecuador

A powerful 7.8-magnitude earthquake has killed at least 28 people in Ecuador, Vice-President Jorge Glas says. A state of emergency was declared in six provinces and the National Guard has been mobilised. The quake, centred near the coastal town of Muisne, destroyed an overpass in the city of Guayaquil about 300km (190 miles) away, local media say. The tremor also shook buildings in the capital Quito, forcing residents to flee their homes. “We have 16 people dead in the city of Portoviejo, 10 in Manta and two in the province of Guayas,” Mr Glas said at a news conference.

It has been a busy week for quakes. I’d written yesterday, Powerful series of jolts hits Japan. At that essay you can see the list of powerful earthquakes this week, as well as a short paragraph noting the link between God’s displeasure with sin and earthquakes, from john Newton.

The Lord shakes the earth as He wills, as a token sign of His anger with sin.

Posted in burden, joseph, old testament, sin

Who was the real prisoner?

We know the story of Joseph and his brothers. Genesis 37 to 47 recounts Joseph’s two dreams of superiority over his elder brothers, his coat of many colors, the murderous plot to kill Joseph (Genesis 38:18) and his sale into slavery in Egypt. (Genesis 38:28)

We know that Joseph’s faith was great, and that despite arriving in Egypt as a slave, God was with him. Joseph rose to a place of prominence in Potiphar’s house, (Genesis 39:2), was then unjustly accused of rape and thrown into jail. Even in jail, Joseph’s faith was great and he rose to a place of authority within the jail, (Genesis 39:23) then to a place of prominence in all of Egypt. (Genesis 41:40). Twenty-four years or thereabouts pass before Joseph’s brothers return to Egypt a second time.

Initially the brothers had plotted to kill Joseph. But Judah said “What profit is it if we kill our brother and conceal his blood? Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites…” (Genesis 37:26a).

Indulge your sin of jealousy, conspiracy, fratricide, anger, AND profit from it.

So they did, they waffled on killing their brother, they ended up stuffing Joseph in a pit but then dragged him out when the caravan passed by so they could sell him into slavery. And that seemed to be the end of Joseph for the brothers, for all they knew.

Decades later, the famine had become very severe in all the surrounding region. Unbeknownst to the brothers, Joseph had foreseen the famine coming, thanks to a dream the LORD had sent to Pharaoh, and which Joseph and interpreted by His grace. Facing starvation, the brothers decided to travel to Egypt to buy grain, and they were of course faced with Joseph who had become vizier to Pharaoh, second most powerful man in all of Egypt. The brothers did not recognize Joseph, but Joseph recognized the brothers. Joseph accused the brothers of being spies and held them in custody. He told them to return to Canaan and bring back Benjamin, the youngest, to him. The brothers huddled and said to one another,

In truth we are guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the distress of his soul, when he begged us and we did not listen. That is why this distress has come upon us.” And Reuben answered them, “Did I not tell you not to sin against the boy? But you did not listen. So now there comes a reckoning for his blood.” (Genesis 42:21-22).

Reuben was referring to the death penalty for taking a life, but there is also a spiritual aspect to this.

Source Wikimedia

Joseph had been in actual prison, and no doubt had some dark days. But the LORD was with Joseph, it says so during the recounting of Joseph’s life, many times. (Genesis 39:2, Genesis 39:21, Genesis 39:23…). When the LORD is with you, no matter the circumstance, one can dwell in joy and peace. (Philippians 4:4). Being “in the Lord” brings with it a sphere of peace that is unrelated to the circumstances of this worldly life. Being in the Lord means you possess an unchanging, invincible bubble of joy that none can penetrate. (Philippians 4:7).

Contrast Joseph’s spiritual success with his brothers’. When accused, they crumbled at once under the weight of their collective guilt. They’d been carrying this tremendous burden of guilt since the day they rode off, deaf to the pleas of the teenager they conspired to sell. It was their prison.

The scriptures declare we are all prisoners of sin, release only comes in faith in the Lord Jesus. (Galatians 3:22, John 8:34, Romans 7:14).

That is why Joseph, though imprisoned, was free; and the brothers, though free, were imprisoned. The burden of sin is heavy, but a clean conscience is light.

The solution:

Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin.” (Romans 7:24–25).

Are you like Christian, the man in the allegory Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan? Christian was weighted by a burden on his back of which he could not rid himself and was causing much distress.

Christian: I cannot go as fast as I would, by reason of this burden that is on my back.
Now I saw in my dream, that just as they had ended this talk, they drew nigh to a very miry slough that was in the midst of the plain: and they being heedless, did both fall suddenly into the bog. The name of the slough was Despond. Here, therefore, they wallowed for a time, being grievously bedaubed with the dirt; and Christian, because of the burden that was on his back, began to sink in the mire.

Slough of Despond, Dyer Library, Saco, Maine

Evangelist explained to Christian why the ground was so bad at the Slough of Despond:

‘This miry Slough is such a place as cannot be mended; it is the descent whither the scum and filth that attends conviction for sin doth continually run, and therefore is it called the Slough of Despond: for still as the sinner is awakened about his lost condition, there ariseth in his soul many fears, and doubts, and discouraging apprehensions, which all of them get together, and settle in this place; and this is the reason of the badness of this ground.

Are you sinking deep into guilt and shame, as were Joseph’s brothers, weighted in guilt by their heinous acts? Do you long for freedom from sin and a cleansed heart, forgiven of the sins which are burdening you? Only Jesus can provide that, and He has.

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)

The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” (Mark 1:15).

THE GOSPEL

Posted in curse, ground, restores all things, sin, the fall, throrn

Prickles and briers and thorns, oh my!

Won’t it be a beautiful day when there is nothing on earth or heaven to hurt us? From satan himself destroying people’s souls, down to the smallest thorn, nothing will pain us anymore. Remember, thorns were not part of the original creation. They appeared after the Fall when God cursed the ground.

cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; (Genesis 3:17b-18a)

THORNS AND BRIERS AND BRAMBLES
“All the land shall become briers and thorns.”—ISA. 7:24.

THE Hebrew words atad, koz, chedek, choach, naazuz, shait, shamir, sillon, sirim, sirpad, zinnim, and eight others, have been translated variously “thorns,” “briers,” and “brambles” in the Old Testament; and the word akantha is the “thorn” of the New Testament. It is impossible to say whether or not a particular species of plant was intended by each of these terms. Most of them apply generally to thorny plants, of which there are many in Palestine at the present day. 

Commentators mention among the thorny plants of the Holy Land species of Zizyphus, such as Zizyphus spina-Christi, also Paliurus aculeatus, Acanthus spinosus, Ononis spinosa, Solanum spinosum, Tribulus terrestris, Lycium europæum, and species of Rhamnus, Centaurea, and Astragalus. 

Since man’s fall, thorns of all kinds have come up on the ground, which was cursed (Gen. 3:18); and God in chastening Israel often refers to the curse of thorns. Thus Isaiah says, “Upon the land of my people shall come up thorns and briers” (32:13); and Hosea prophesies that “the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars” (10:8).

Source, Balfour, J. H. (1885). The Plants of the Bible (p. 128). London; Edinburgh; New York: T. Nelson and Sons.

EPrata photo

Posted in bible twisting, jesus, polygamy, sin

"I don’t preach about polygamy but I feel it is a very Christian lifestyle."

When people claim that the Bible is dusty and outdated and its contents are not for us now, they know not of what they speak. Of course we know God’s word is living and active and His precepts are at once fresh and eternal.

But for those who say it is outdated and culture has moved on and the Bible people need to get with the times, they could not be more incorrect. Man’s sinful nature means that since the Fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, man has made the same sinful mistakes he always has. Man is the same, and so is his sin. That means culture is the same, and so are its sins. Exhibit A:

Thom Miller of Mansfield Ohio.

Miller claims to have been an enforcer for the Mafia in Cleveland. He also told a newspaper in 2003 that he had been shot three times, jailed more than 20 times and fathered 12 children with five different women. In 1991, Miller was sent to prison for stabbing a man during a bar fight. (source)

Sounds like a sinful man, a sinner just like the rest of us. However, Mr Miller’s story continues-

While in prison, he stole a bible and found God. … Miller was released from Prison after serving seven years. (source)

A man who is regenerated by the grace of God and living a holy life with the indwelling Holy Spirit is a story that never gets old, it is beautiful every time. How great! I wish his story had a happier ending. But Mr Miller’s story is just beginning and his is the story of sin, which gets old very fast.

Mr Miller married and he became an ordained minister. He has a church in Mansfield, Ohio and runs a prison ministry.

The man apparently has no training or seminary experience, no authority over him to call him to account, or any brotherhood denomination out of which he has been called. He is simply a man who started a church. And this is OK too, though fraught with satanic snares and dangers. We saw that kind of mentality (“I don’t know what to do with my life. I know, I’ll start a church!” with Mr Mark Driscoll. Unattached men who aren’t trained up by the leaders, pastors, or teachers and grown in the faith while submitted to a ministry and laid hands upon, often turn rogue. And that old sin-nature reared up and bit Mr Miller. Mr Miller decided one day that he wanted two wives. And he got a second wife, with the alleged blessing of his current wife. Mr Miller is 60 years of age, and his new wife is a teenager. Miller says,

“I don’t preach about polygamy but I feel it is a very Christian lifestyle.”

Polygamy appears in the Bible but it is not condoned in the bible as an acceptable lifestyle. The reason is that the two partners become one flesh, and it’s hard for two to become one while there are three. Genesis 2:24 depicts the scene where God made Eve, and told Adam and Eve that

Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

This is very interesting because when God made Eve and joined Adam and Eve together in a holy union, there were not any mothers and fathers yet. They didn’t exist. By this verse though, we see that God intended for one man and one woman to marry, have children, and then to repeat the cycle of leaving and cleaving to one another in successive generations of unions. That is the Christian lifestyle, because it is a family structure that is ordained by God.

However that old sin nature reared itself and another man in the long-ago history woke up one day and decided he wanted two wives as well.  This happened n Genesis 4, the chapter immediately after the Fall! See? It is a very old story! Who says the Bible is outdated!

 And Lamech took two wives. The name of the one was Adah, and the name of the other Zillah.

Mr Miller says that of his wives,

There have been arguments in the past and at times there can be flares of jealousy but we manage to make it work.

Rachel and Leah were two wives of the same man- Jacob. The women engaged in a bitter and long-term child-bearing competition, oftentimes with the husband as their “prize.” The envy and jealousy polluted the entire family.

When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she envied her sister. She said to Jacob, “Give me children, or I shall die!” (Genesis 30:1). … When Jacob came from the field in the evening, Leah went out to meet him and said, “You must come in to me, for I have hired you with my son’s mandrakes.” So he lay with her that night. (Genesis 30:16).

Polygamy, envy, jealousy and family “flare-ups” are as old as man himself. Mr Miller’s words nearly identically replicate these scenes from the Bible. All of which describe sin, and do not not a “very Christian lifestyle”. What Miller is doing is living a life of hellish rebellion and picking out biblical things that sort of match how he wants to live. Here, Mr Miller’s words replicate Judges 21:25,

In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.

Miller is just doing right in his own eyes, inventing lifestyles and piggybacking God into it rather than how it’s supposed to be done, read and understand God’s word, and obey it. The worst part of this problem is that Miller claims to be a pastor. Of course he is not, living in flagrant sin as he is, and having no knowledge of the true statutes of God. But he claims to speak for Christianity, which means he is claiming to speak for Jesus. This is a blasphemous perversion of the faith.

Culturally, Miller’s next words replicate Romans 1:32,

Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

Practicing such things as homosexuality, Miller says,

“I have no problem with homosexuals but I think it’s wrong that their marriage is now recognized by the state but my second marriage is not. “I’m going to try and fight the bigotry of that – this is America and my wives and I have the right to live anyway we please – providing we’re not hurting anybody.” (source)

Not hurting anybody? You’re hurting Jesus. His name, His faith, His church. No, we do not have the right to live any way we please. We have the responsibility to live as God demands.

And we knew it was only a matter of time after last June’s Supreme Court opinion stating that any homosexual or lesbian American has the right to marry. Once we drift from the God-ordained definition of marriage, all other definitions are allowed.

But back to the Bible. It is as fresh as the morning dew, recording the age-old sins of man.

If Mr Miller repented of living his NON-Christian lifestyle and of blaspheming Jesus and twisting His faith into a perverse license to sin, he too would go to heaven. Jesus would welcome him with open arms. All sins can be forgiven, except for the one sin that cannot be forgiven- that of dying without repenting and claiming Jesus as Savior before one draws his last breath.

Fortunately the Bible also records the story of redemption, and how Jesus who is God, incarnated into a baby, was birthed as a full human, lived and entirely sinless life, was sacrificed for us for our sins, and was entombed. On the third day He rose again, God being pleased with His Son’s sacrifice. His shed blood means when we repent of our sins and believe on Jesus as Lord and Savior, we have a righteous door through which to enter heaven, possessing no righteousness of our own. Thank the LORD He made a way and sent the Lord to save us sinners!

Posted in demon possession, encouragement, john macarthur, joy, S. Lewis Johnson, salvation, sin

The joy of submitting to Jesus, and the tragedy of rejecting Him: two anecdotes (and a third)

There are two responses to the Gospel, yea or nay. Here is S. Lewis Johnson with an anecdote about a person who said yea.

Paul, His Gospel, and Thomas Jefferson

George Cutting is a man who is best known for the fact that he’s the author of a little pamphlet. You usually find it in tract racks of Christian churches. It’s entitled, “Safety, Certainty, and Enjoyment.” Mr. Cutting was just a simple Christian man who went around preaching the gospel. He was also a business man, as I remember, and one day he was bicycling through Norfolk in England. He was an Englishman. And he said it was early in the morning, and as he was going through, he was a very quiet man, he suddenly gained from the Lord the distinct impression that he should shout out a Bible verse. And so, right in the midst of this small town, there were just a few houses around, he shouted out “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” He said he cycled on a little bit longer, and the Lord seemed to say definitively to him, “Say it again.” So he said he shouted out, “Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.” 

Six months later he was visiting in that little village, and he was doing, as he frequently did, just knocking on door after door. His first question, he said, was always, “Are you saved?” That’s called the direct approach. [Laughter] So a woman opened the door and he said, “Are you saved?” And she said, “Oh yes. About six months ago I was in great distress of soul. I plead with God to help me, and even while I was calling upon him, I heard a voice cry out, ‘Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.’” And she said, “I was startled. I wondered if I had really heard right.” She said, “I prayed again to the Lord, and I said, “Lord if that is the message, repeat it again.” 

[Laughter] And she said, “And I heard it again and I trusted Christ, and I’m saved.” And Mr. Cutting had the joy of telling her that it was he who had called out the verse. That’s preaching. You know, when Paul tells us to be instant in season and out of season. And imagine there were lots of citizens in that little village who thought that it was very much out of season to hear a Bible verse shouted out early in the morning from one of their streets. But it was in season for that lady. 

there is only one response to the message of the apostle, and that is to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ. Does salvation come by praying through? No. Does salvation come by paying the church? No. Does salvation come by good works? No. Does salvation come through religion? No. Does salvation come through some religious ritual which we practice, baptism, or sitting at the Lord’s Table? No. Does salvation come through the organization of the Christian church? No. You must be born again.

Here is John MacArthur with an anecdote on a person who said nay.

The Tragedy of Neglecting Salvation

And so, we believe it is a warning to the intellectually convinced, those who have heard the gospel, know the facts about Jesus Christ, know that He died for them, know that He desires to forgive their sin, know that He can some into their life and change their life but are not willing to receive Christ as Savior. And may I hasten to add that’s the most tragic category of people in existence. And I’ve told you a story once before that points it up as graphically as anything. I’ll never forget on one occasion when a lady came into my office and informed me that she was a prostitute. And she said, “I need help” And I said, “I guess you do.” And she said, “Please, I’m desperate.” 

And so I presented the claims of Christ to her from beginning to end and I said, “Would you like to invite Jesus Christ into your life?” And she said yes. She said, “I’ve had it.” She was at the bottom to say the least through the dope scene, the whole bit. So she prayed a prayer and evidently she invited Christ into her life. And I said, “Now,” I said, “I want to ask you to do something.” I said, “Do you have your little book that you have all your contacts in with you?” And she said yes. I said, “Well, let’s just take a match here and we’ll burn it.” And she looked at me and she said, “What do you mean?” I said, “Just what I said. I mean, if you’re really going to live for Jesus Christ and you’ve really accepted His forgiveness and you really met Him as your Savior, let’s burn that book and we’ll just have a little party here and just praise the Lord.” And she said to me, “That’s worth a lot of money.” She said, “That’s worth an awful lot 

Then she said to me, “I don’t want to burn my book.” Put it in her purse and looked at me right in the eye and said, “I guess I don’t really want Jesus, do I?” And she left. 

Now you see, there was somebody who when the..when it really came down to the nitty gritty and counted the cost, she wasn’t ready. I don’t know what the story of that dear girl is. My heart has often ached for her and I’ve often thought about her. But I do know that she knows the facts and she believes them, but she’s not willing to make the sacrifice. And it’s a bad bargain, for what she kept wasn’t worth anything compared to what she could have had in Jesus Christ forever.

These days in 2015 it is not popular nor even accepted to speak of hell or demons. But they exist, they are active in the world, and they still do possess people, just as they did in the time of Luke 4:31-37. That’s the passage John MacArthur was preaching when he related this anecdote:

This is a rare thing. I’ve preached the gospel for a long time and only about three times in my whole life have I ever heard demons speak, been confronted. One of them was a few weeks ago, I told you about last week, right down in the front when a demon-possessed person came running down the aisle after I was preaching the gospel, exalting Christ’s power over the kingdom of darkness, came at me and said, “Why are you attacking me? Why are you trying to hurt me?” Which is exactly what the demon said here.

But it was some years ago when I had first come to Grace. We had built the family center and we were having services there before we built this facility. It was a Sunday night and after the service was over I was over having some food with somebody from the church and I got a call from Jerry Mitchell who was here a few weeks ago. He was on the staff at the time. He said, “You’ve got to come down here, John, I’ve got a…I’ve got a girl in here whose got all kinds of demon voices.” He had never experienced anything like this and I never had either. And I said, “Well I don’t know if I could be much help but I’ll come right down.”

So I came down, I walked in and there was chaos in the office. It was over in the building by the family center, and I walked in and the place was in disarray and it was obvious that she had been terrorizing things. She had overturned the desk and poor Jerry who was a boxer in the Navy was having a hard time defending himself against this girl, and that is characteristic of New Testament accounts where there’s a certain level of strength that’s beyond normal. And I’ll never forget the greeting when I walked in the door. I walked in the door and this…out of this girl’s mouth — whom I had met and with whom I had spoken because she had been coming to the church — came this voice, and I can’t, obviously, replicate it. But in my memory I know what the voice said. It’s something like: “Not him, not him, not him, get him out, get him out, get him out,” to me.

Well my first reaction was, “I’m leaving. I’m not sure I’m up to this.” Wow! And my second reaction was, “They know who I am and they know whose side I’m on, that’s very affirming.” It was affirming. I sort of started feeling apostolic. Paul I know and Jesus I know and John MacArthur, you know? Wow! Amazing!

I don’t think that demon was afraid of me humanly. I don’t have any human power to deal with demons. In fact, Jerry and I didn’t know what to do. We started trying to send the demons away. We sent them everywhere you could think of, the pit, the abyss, Phoenix, anywhere hot, you know. And the bottom…the bottom line is they didn’t go anywhere and so we just were praying and saying, “You know, this isn’t working, this casting out thing isn’t working. I’m not Jesus and we’re not apostles and we don’t have authority over that kingdom.” There’s only one way that this girl will ever be delivered and that is when Christ delivers her in the act of salvation.

So we wrestled, literally physically trying to restrain her and get her in a chair and she was so exhausted physically and finally calmed down and we gave her the gospel. And she confessed her sin. I’ll never forget it, just really gushed out her sin before the Lord and embraced Jesus Christ and then it was just this calm that came everywhere. There was deliverance. Nothing to do with me, nothing to do with a formula, nothing to do with an exorcism, nothing to do with that at all, that…that is not what deals with demons. She needed to be delivered from the kingdom of darkness, you understand that? And she was. She was.

The demon was terrified of me not because of something I could do in the human. The demon was terrified of me because the demon connected me with the message of the gospel. And the demon knew that if the gospel came to this girl and she believed that he was finished. And that’s exactly what happened. She was as clean as the driven snow after that and never had another occasion of that kind of terrifying experience.

Anyone who is not of Christ and in His sheepfold is under bondage to the god of this world, satan They are serving him, whether they believe it or not. And anyone who has not confessed their sins and submitted to the Gospel is at risk for being possessed by a demon.

Seek the LORD while he may be found; call upon him while he is near” (Isaiah 55:6). Does that means He might be far? Yes. Someday, He might turn a person over to their sin in a hardened heart and salvation might not be possible after that. His grace, peace, mercy, and love is manifold. Having the gentle and lovely Spirit inside of us is a ‘burden’ that is easy. As we saw from the anecdote about the demon, having satan in us is a burden that is harsh and heavy. How many woes lay in the demon direction, and how many blessings there are in Christ. Seek Him while ye may!

Posted in encouragement, japan earthquake, paris, sin, wicked

Paris terror attack, Japan earthquake

At this time Japan is recovering from a 7.0 earthquake at its southern end and Paris is aswarm with sirens and police as multiple apparent ISIS attacks are being carried out. Many are dead and the city is in chaos and lockdown. Days like these, especially coming at the end of a long, draining workweek when emotional levels are at low reserve, make for a trying evening of tears and prayer to the Lord. It’s always hard when many go home not to meet their maker but to be separated from their maker as chaff and goats. Nevertheless, God’s word refuels and restores equilibrium. Peace will reign again in a heart heavy with grief for the world.

Japan earthquake; small tsunami triggered

I read about the terrorist attack and the earthquake and I’m trying to process so much sin in the world. It is very upsetting. I prayed a while then decided to do what comes naturally- take a nap and become unconscious to the world for a bit.

Afterwards, I decided to do my bible reading and opened to the next chapter in Genesis which I’m going through, chapter 24 was next. I prayed and asked the Lord to comfort me in His word. Privately I wondered how a chapter in ancient Genesis would be able to be applied to my mind in comfort to the Paris attacks. But I trusted the Lord to do it.

It was about Abraham’s servant Eliezer being charged by Abraham to go to his homeland to get a bride for Isaac. And Eliezer met Rebekah at the well and Eliezer worshiped the LORD and Rebekah agreed to become Isaac’s bride. It was really beautiful how the providential ordination of events played out. It was a comfort to read how God is SOOO in control, since time immemorial to now, even with the seeming chaos of the current attacks and natural disasters.

The great thing about God’s word is that no matter what you read, the Holy Spirit has a way of energizing our mind with it and comforting our heart. The Word IS living and active and it’s a miracle how He can use God’s word in any situation to instruct, comfort, rebuke, or convict, even using Rebekah’s meeting of Eliezer at the well with camels to comfort this ole lady in Comer GA about a Paris in chaos and Japan under tsunami threat!

Landon Chapman at Entreating Favor wrote the following and it’s good. Please be comforted by it. For the ultimate comfort and re-fueling, pray and read your Bible. It really does help.

When the darkness of the world surrounds us, we need to be the light (Matt 5:14, Eph 5:8). Consider the stars which, during the day, remain in the sky but since there is so much light you cannot see them. However, at night, the stars shine brightly able only to be seen because of the blackness around them. Brethren, be the light for the dark, unbelieving world at all times, and especially in times of great tragedy and crisis.

Terrorism continues to grow throughout the world. We will be faced with times of tragedy and crisis. When your unbelieving friends and family come to you seeking answers, don’t be me 14 years ago. Rather, be prepared to comfort, warn, and share the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ with them.

But the wicked are like the tossing sea, For it cannot be quiet, And its waters toss up refuse and mud. (Isaiah 57:20 NASB)

Posted in encouragement, grace, repentance, salvation, sin

The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do: In which I testify to God’s grace in giving me over to my sin

Last week Tim Challies posted an article titled The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do. It’s a terrifying article. It crushed me reading it and apparently it did for many others as well. I saw this article referred to and re-posted numerous times.

The most terrifying thing God can do is to turn an unsaved person over to his sin. Here is a sample of the scriptural truths the article contains:

We speak often of hell and eternal consequences for sin, but perhaps we give too little attention to God’s action against sin in this world and this life. God’s punishment for sin is sin. His punishment is allowing people to experience the life-stealing, soul-rotting consequences of their sin. He expresses his wrath by allowing them the very thing they want. He does this because when they get the thing they want, it only deepens their destruction. 

In this way, sin is its own punishment. And in all the world I see nothing more terrifying than this: the prospect of God allowing people to experience the full impact and weight of their sinfulness. Nothing is more terrifying than God determining that he will no longer restrain the evil within them.

This is a terrifying thought.

This would be a terrifying event.

For me, the event was not hypothetical. It actually happened. Just before I came to salvation, God turned me over to my sin.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)

I’d lived for 43 years as a sinner, but I had one particular besetting sin that consumed me. After so many decades, the Lord turned me over to it and released restraint. He turned me over to my sin so that I’d choke on it, and by virtue of contrast, thirst for His purity and holiness. After a few mercifully short years, I cried for mercy to the God that I would finally acknowledge and my sin that I would finally admit.

I remember the day when I realized that the sin wasn’t so fun anymore. I realized that my sin had me, I didn’t have it. Like a rabbit in a snare, I tried to shake loose of it, and could not. This perplexed me, because I had always been able to do anything I’d set my mind to. This was different. I was trapped. (Romans 7:14)

Now I know that we are slaves to sin, in bondage to it and to the god of this world, satan. But like quicksand, the more I tried to get out of my sin on my own terms and in my own effort, the more I foundered. I truly felt like I was sinking, forever to be engulfed in a toxic brew of my own making, sinking under the weight of it. My lips were only inches above the water and I felt I had only moments to go, relatively speaking, before I’d sink below the surface to rise no more. And it was cold.

Just prior to salvation, I was attempting to chronicle my experience in art, trying to puzzle out in visuals what words could not express. A spiritual process was happening to me, but I did not understand that it was spiritual. I only knew it was something. I was in a 1 Corinthians 2:14 situation. So I thought that whatever was happening to me I could try and figure it out by making visuals instead of words.

I wrote a little book called “Story of a Fly”. I look back on it now and I see clearly that it is a record of my coming to faith. It contains images and groanings my soul was expressing that words could not convey. As for the title, I think flies are disgusting, and I had no idea why I chose a fly to represent me, the main character in my little book. In retrospect, it was because I was under bondage to satan, also mentioned in the bible as the Lord of the Flies (Baal-zebub or Beelzebul).

In my book, I ‘knew’ there existed a secret kingdom, existing in the midst of and alongside the world I could see. I wanted to go there.

I’d traveled a good deal out in the American West. One of the native mythologies was a trickster god called Kokopelli. He plays the flute and is seen as a spirit of music. He’s also a fertility god and god of agriculture. In my deepest recesses I ‘felt’ that a trickster god was preventing me from obtaining the kingdom, represented below. I called him the ‘fly-wrangler’.

I was searching, seeking, making a long and winding road…but not obtaining this kingdom I wanted to enter so badly.

I felt I was so close and was about to triumphantly enter the kingdom! But there was a barrier. It was insurmountable.

It felt like I was a fly in a jar, captured. I was free to fly around in the jar but not free to get out and go into the kingdom. It was very frustrating. Of course, this feeling I’d had I now know was the weight of sin. Psalm 38:4 is so true! Without repenting no one can ever enter the kingdom of God. I had to deal with my sin.

I could not figure out why I was not enjoying the peace I’d so longed for. I was trying so hard! Yet now I know-

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

All the while, God had given me over to my sin, which I still pursued, though I did not want to anymore. The law of diminishing returns was clearly demonstrating that it was not a worthwhile pursuit.

And that is the last page of the little book. The last page depicts a woman who was well and truly locked in sin. Being given over to sin is truly terrifying. There is a soul-numbing effect that God’s release to sin as punishment has on a person. At least it did to me. The grief is violent, desperate, physical, all-consuming. Spiritual torment! And yet I didn’t know what I was grieving over!

I left many more subsequent pages in the book because I ‘knew’ the story was not going to end there. I did not know what to do next or what would happen next, but the girl was not going to be left in the jar. It just couldn’t end this way…could it? But the grief was an agony.

Not too long after I decided that my sin was the hindrance. I repudiated it. I sought God, who was holy and I repented. Of course the Lord enlivened my spirit and drew me to that point. I had not a clue what to do except wallow in my sin and cry. It was the Lord who was the catalyst.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved… (Ephesians 2:1-5)

Being given over to sin is terrifying. That feeling never left me. It fuels me, it haunts me. Sin is a terrible thing. Even more terrifying is God allowing us to bask in it, wallow in it, then sink in it. Obey the Lord. Be grateful for His grace. He saved us from a ghastly fate.

Posted in beth moore, jared wilson, sharon lareau, sin

6 destructive Church Trends; Pastor’s Wife, Get Real; Beth Moore Simulcast review; Death of PM service; and wearable real-looking wings!

6 Destructive Trends Happening in Your Church by Jared C. Wilson is an excellent article. I love lists, bullet points,and outlines, and this one hits all the points. The article is a synopsis of a longer work,from  Mr Wilson’s book–

The Prodigal Church: A Gentle Manifesto against the Status Quo, by Jared C. Wilson. The book blurb reads:

In The Prodigal Church, Jared Wilson challenges church leaders to reconsider their priorities when it comes to how they “do church” and reach people in their communities, arguing that we too often rely on loud music, flashy lights, and skinny jeans to get people in the door. 

Writing with the grace and kindness of a trusted friend, Wilson encourages readers to reexamine the Bible’s teaching, not simply return to a traditional model for tradition’s sake. He then sets forth an alternative to both the attractional and the traditional models: an explicitly biblical approach that is gospel focused, grace based, and fruit oriented.

My favorite one is #4. Closely followed by #5.

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This next article was published today by Baptist Press. It is titled,

FIRST-PERSON: Pastor’s wife, be real!

HOBBS, N.M. (BP) — It is the loudest silence, a moment so brief it is imperceptible to the untrained ear — that moment between reality and response when faced with the traditional Sunday greeting of “How are you?”
Inside there is a heart crying out to be known. Yet, as we turn up our smiles, we turn down the volume on the voice of truth. I am fine. I am great. My life is in order.
Pastor’s wife, we are facing an epidemic in our churches. It is the epidemic of being “fine.” Somehow we have bought into the lie that if anyone knew our true humanity and all of its nagging sin nature, we would be ostracized.

I love the church assembly. Some assemblies are more genuine than others, and of course none are perfect. At least if they had been perfect, they shine was off the moment I joined. However, one thing bugs me about church.

As much as we complain that church isn’t a show, we put on a show all the time, in pretending we’re fine. We’re not. How do I know we’re not? We’re sinners, (Romans 3:10) and we live on a world whose ‘god’ is currently the author of evil. (2 Cor 4:4) Of course we’re not fine. Get real.

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Mrs Sharon Lareau has taken much time, prayer, and study to present to us women a Living Proof Live Simulcast Review, Part One. She extensively compares what Beth Moore was teaching at this latest simulcast, to the Bible. I recommend her presentation to you, urgently.

In a companion essay to her review, Mrs Lareau examines the main idea Beth Moore so fervently delivered in the simulcast, the message that all women are lacking and need to hear, which is that we need a big romance with Jesus. Mrs Lareau looks at this teaching in her essay Romance with Jesus: The Bigger Picture. This is also an excellent essay that I recommend to you. Good gravy, just go to Mrs Lareau’s page and bookmark it. You will be glad you did. 🙂

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Another good one from Reformation 21, The Death of the Evening Service

When I was first asked about my “vision” for the church, I made the point that I’d like to see better attendance at the evening service. From some outside the church I received a few silly suggestions, but I resolved to do two things: 

1. Not coerce or manipulate people to come to the evening service.
2. Let the gospel do its work.

So why is retaining the evening service a good idea?

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Now’s your chance to see Alexis Noriega’s beautiful pair of human-sized pneumatic articulating feather wings, which she made for Halloween. She will be posting a tutorial soon for people interested in building their own pair. Pretty cool.

Fly Like an Eagle

Posted in grace, poem, sin

The winds of sin: A Poem

The winds of sin blow strong
The hearts of stone weigh heavy
The minds of shadow love darkness
The evil day His will prolongs.

The wicked will not prosper
They answer for their deeds
Their names not found on the roster
They stand before Him, these weeds

The winds of grace blow strong
Sin, death and hell cast out
All is fresh and new in beauty
Jesus reigns in glory over the throng

By EPrata