Sunday, June 6, 2010

Why "Good People" Really Aren't As "Good" As They Might Be ..

One of the most perplexing yet predictable foibles of human behavior is to behold seemingly "good" people do some very bad things, and quite often, under the guise of high ethical, moral and religious idealism. This is at the heart of cultic social order as well as the foul springs of human nature itself. People who in all other respects appear to be upright and impeccable in character are often turn out to be characters of a darker nature then ever suspected. This is what true depravity is, the sullied and evil bent within us all that makes all in need of a Savior.

It's what we do in the light of that need of a Savior that makes the difference. False religions, cults and the philosophies of a thousand

It is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ alone that will bring anyone into a position where His Spirit transforms them. Only the righteousness and purity of the sacrifice at the Cross of Christ can ever truly change anyone. Out of such literally saving grace, any man or woman wanting real change in their lives is empowered to actually see it come to pass - as God Himself truly intervenes to do so. Those who seek to live seemingly blameless lives any other way outside of knowing Jesus ultimately find that they are truly, as the old song says, "lost and undone, without God and His Son .."

So it's inevitable in our amoral world that you'll find people who profess to know this grace and who instead are following a code of conduct find themselves in company with completely secularized and irreligious people when it comes to not being as "good" as they seem to be. It's that fallen side of humanity that reigns supreme in the human condition today, that part of us all that is drawn to pursue our self-centered good even if it comes at the expense of others. Being creatures of supreme self-justification, we even rationalize away those troublesome moral dilemmas our selfishness evokes with the pious thought that "it's for their good .. we're just speaking the truth .. they'll learn to appreciate this .."

This is what's behind the mindset that drives people who engage in unethical, immoral and even unspeakable acts of social savagery that can wreak havoc in the hearts and minds of those who are its subjects. Mentioned only briefly in the news, this bit of insight into the darkness of the human condition needs to be considered far more squarely than it is. It says much about the dire state of our society if left to itself when the issues of power, authority and control over people come to the forefront.

You can review a 2008 CNN news video on the research done into this, as well as a CBS "60 Minutes" broadcast from the mid 1990's that provides fascinating and chilling perspective on how "good people" can act out so badly.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Slouching Toward Gommorrah, Part 1,890 - Lesbian Bishop Now Ordained And The Gay Rights Agenda Moves On

Homosexuality is a common human condition. It's same sex attraction, along with all of the culture that supports and condones it are impulses and social constructs that the Bible views as sinful conditions that people choose to embrace out of any one of a thousand reasons. There are those who argue that this is a genetic issue and that homosexuality is a genetic predisposition, and there are those who religiously argue that God made homosexuals to be homosexual, in complete contradiction to the plain Biblical view that God fashioned humanity to follow two sexes.

It took the fall of man in the Garden of Eden and the estrangement of humanity from His Lordship over them to ultimately result in the development of same-sex culture, in which men are attracted to men and women to women and who seek to create a distorted revisioning of what human relationships and sexuality should be.

It's taken the last two hundred years of secular humanism's uber-tolerance for any "alternative lifestyle" as equally valid to the other to fully blossom in human consciousness in the West and the last fifty to see homosexual culture come out of what it calls "the closet" and boldly, shamelessly claim to be just as normative as heterosexuality. Taking cues from the civil rights movement, gay rights activism now engages us with sophisticated, emotional and zealous challenges to view it as a condition that deserves the same kind of legal protection as the rights of women and minorities. Much of Western society has fully embraced this warped mindset that flies in the face of the Bible's teachings on homosexuality and now view narrowly those who feel otherwise as intolerant "homophobes."

Along with this cultural cooption of every known human institution to support and nourish the homosexual lifestyle came a full blown abandonment of Biblical fidelity by a variety of mainstream Protestant denominations, one being the Episcopal Church in America. It's just another sign of the end time apostacy, one that shouldn't surprise anyone, and something that no one today - except the gay friendly press and culture - will take any note of because it's now so common. Today, in Los Angeles, a female Episcopal bishop will ordain another female Episcopal priest to the bishopric, one who is openly gay and has had a partner since 1988. This is the same branch of the Episcopal Church in America whose first openly gay bishop, Gene Robinson, informed us that Paul's condemnation of homosexuality in Romans 1 was not directed at gays, of course. His discussion of this passage resonates with the gay religious agenda today:

We have to understand that the notion of a homosexual sexual orientation is a notion that’s only about 125 years old.“That is to say, St. Paul was talking about people that he understood to be heterosexual engaging in same-sex acts," said Bishop Robinson. "It never occurred to anyone in ancient times that a certain minority of us would be born being affectionally oriented to people of the same sex. So it did seem like against their nature to be doing so.”

With the plain thrust of the Bible thus brushed aside, it's no wonder that such advances that homosexuality has made in the world have achieved the change of public opinion as they have. Such a shift of Western culture wasn't lost on the founder of the largest gay church movement in the U.S., one time Pentecostal preacher Troy Perry. What Biblically-informed Christians would call his "fall" as he fully embraced homosexuality while pastoring a Pentecostal church is seen by him just a bit different than they do. Many Christians ask if he could have been "restored" if only something "different" had been done for him when he openly turned to homosexuality in 1963. Of course he could have .. but as far as Perry was concerned, there wasn't a problem to begin with. He'd embraced the view that God created him to be homosexual. How can you begin to bring restoration to anyone who hasn't even come to any perception of how fallen they are? How do you lift someone up who stands in the muck of their sin and narrowly looks back at you to say "God made me this way and God don't make junk!"

I own an unexpurgated copy of Perry's autobiography and after reading his account of those years, I wanted to take a shower afterwards. Without getting any more lurid than the truth already is, Perry defiantly relates to how he evangelized in Alabama as a Church of God preacher while simultaneously engaging in "pleasant sexual interludes" characterized as "tender exploration" without a glimmer of regret. He continued in his folly even while taking a piano playing wife and dutifully fathering two children. His only regrets seemed to be that he got caught and that he never was "true to himself" and separated from his wife by telling her "The time has come for me stand up and find me. I've got to know who I am." In fact, after drafted into the Army in 1965, the only "fear of God" you see in Perry was his terror that he might be struck dead on the spot in a gay bar in Hollywood for DRINKING BEER. That says much about where his skewed morality had gone.

I will be the first to admit that he very likely was treated like trash by the Church of God overseers who were supposed to help him and who instead gave him the right foot of fellowship. That was very definitely a profound and seriously flawed way to have addressed Perry's problem, but in light of his own self-justifying account, you can see where his heart was. Troy's lust and religiosity were, in his mind, perfectly balanced when he decided God "made him" that way and started to develop his gay theological monstrosity through the founding of the Metropolitan Community Church. I really don't believe he'd have done any differently regardless how the Church of God overseers approached him.

The controversy is endless, much of it generated by gay activists who passionately excoriate and condemn the attempts by the Church today to address the homosexual condition compassionately and Biblically, without immediately resorting to the ferocious hellfire and damnation posturing of past Christian positions. They draw no distinction between those who resist homosexuality on moral grounds and those who just are vicious and hateful people who would torment homosexuals as quickly as anyone else they could bully (painting both groups as "homophobes" guilty of spilling the blood of people like Matthew Shepard). This emotion laden argument easily drowns out those who would still affirm homosexuality to be a perversion of human nature, one no more evil than any other. Gay rights activists now routinely demand the identification and condemnation of these dissenters with a pogram of social, political and personal ostracization as intolerant as the "hating" they want to expose. By pointing out that any and every person with objections to homosexuality use "hate speech" betraying an antisocial "homophobia", the gay rights movement daily advances in culture with little to stop it. With the rise of another clumsily executed pro-gay Presidential agenda foisted upon us by the machinations of the Obama administration and the Democratic control of Washington, things don't appear to be getting any better.

And a Church that should know better slips further into the mud .. just as Jesus said it would.

Seeking to care for and understand homosexual people in a sincere attempt to bring them through reparative therapy is where the best hope for homosexuals lies. The Exodus International movement among others has sought to pioneer this approach, even as radical gay activists try to discredit it by infiltrating ex-gay support groups and programs to do so. They do this, I think, because it has genuinely helped many who sincerely want to know if they can change. Exodus' testimonials of change can't be denied, even if there are those who return to homosexuality itself. Homosexuals can be healed and can be transformed into a uniquely personal new creation, not denying who they themselves are, but by helping them rediscover the connections they need to find to reorienting their passions and drives that have been sexualized by same sex attraction. It's not a wiping out of who they are personally but a healing of the breach within their sexuality that colored their overall direction of life. That is what healing of the homosexual looks like, which Exodus advocates, so courageously champions in the face of an increasingly intolerant culture pro-gay hatred.

What has helped me the most in understanding and trying to deal with how to help homosexuals was the work of Christian therapist Elizabeth Moberly who wrote a great book called "Homosexuality: A New Christian Ethic" that was eye opening. There were 2 talks she gave at the Church of God seminary back in the late 1980's during a conference on the family that I heard that provided profound insights into homosexuality that need to be heard by all Christians desiring to help them. It's changed my views on the subject and I believe her insights, controversial as some may find them, are consistent with Biblical teaching on homosexuality and human nature as well as sound, sensible psychological observation into human behavior. Her book is well worth the find and it is barely even 75 pages long, but outstanding, concise and easy to understand. In short, she advocates the position that "the homosexual condition involves legitimate developmental needs, the fulfillment of which has been blocked by an underlying ambivalence to members of the same sex."

There has been, in her assertion, a trauma or deficit in a homosexual's relationship to their same-sex parent (that can - but not always - involve sexual abuse, emotional distancing, family issues, etc.) that, in their years of puberty and psycho-sexual development, they somehow try to start to work out through sexual and social relationships with the same sex. It's a mind-kinking argument, but I believe it holds the key to helping these tormented men and women.

Sadly, for those who've abandoned whatever restraint they may have had, or who were taught that any concept of such a thing is unhealthy repression, the homosexual culture rolls onward. And the Troy Perrys, Gene Robinsons, Katherine Schoris and Mary Glasspools of the the apostate church of the last days are ready to invoke the Deity in their godspeeds.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Silence Is Golden ... For Cult Groups

The greatest ally of spiritual tyranny is no different then its secular variety - silence.

The spiritual holocaust of cultism that descends upon and consumes so many daily in societal circles is so mundane, so prevalent and so stitched into the fabric of human life that we've come to accept its uniquely authoritarian grip as just "the way it is." I can think of innumerable times throughout my life before, during and after I became a Christian in 1981 of how many times I've beheld some anonymous outrage, family dysfunction, or incident in the lives of people around me which could be directly attributed to some kind of doctrinal or social extremism that cultism itself has seamlessly blended into their life with. As the old commercial goes, it's as American as mom, apple pie and Chevrolet. No one remembers the tragic example of Kitty Genovese any more - it happens daily all over the nation. Does the name of Derrion Albert ring a bell, the boy beaten to death in Mr. Obama and Ms. Oprah's Chicago ring a bell, the boy whose attack was captured on cell phone video by teenagers who said nothing? Nahh, didn't think so. People nowadays, locked into their own little circles of concern, would rather just look the other way .. but take a picture or two on their Droids to email someone around the corner.

With something so common, you'd think American common sense and our commitment to freedom of conscience might have better equipped the body politic. Nahhh. When the kick to the side of one's spiritual head finally lands and rouses the average victim of cultism to a soul-withering perception of what it has cost them, and reaches out to seek solace, understanding, escape and perspective, they fail miserably. It's for this same reason - there's no help easily found because those who might, could and should help are clueless about what the problem even i. It's because those who could speak out, say something, contend with the horror and withstand it were silent.

Listen to a cult survivor, struggling to ground herself in a balanced reality outside the shadowlands of the cult she left, as they discuss what the consequences of this perpetual silence spell out in no uncertain terms for them:

Telling people that I once was in a cult is like telling people I was born with six fingers or I was abducted by aliens. The reaction is about the same. They look a little confused at first, like maybe they didn’t hear me correctly. Then the looks of disgust (at my being such a freak, I suppose), pity (at my probable insanity), and suspicion (that I have just inadvertently criticized their beliefs) flit across their face as they try to quickly put on their game faces. It is unnerving to say the least.

I probably should not bring the subject up. At all. Ever. But, I have not figured out how to avoid the topic yet. That could be because I am only 29 years old and a very large portion of my adult life (age 19-26) was monopolized by the event. So, there are not very many things to refer to in my adult life outside the circumstances of the cult.

It smarts when I see how people can be so blind to cultism's destructive legacy. But it aches worse when I realize that this is not the way it should be. In any one of a hundred different ways, the vicious twist of cultism that emerges from the warpings of the human spirit could have been unwound, corrected compassionately, smoothed out and made something uplifting. That's where it usually begins .. on the road of good intentions exhibited by people of passion, conviction and vision who became sidetracked onto a darker path. And in any one of an infinite number of ways, in too many places throughout the world, it was never addressed. Those who could have intervened, confronted, checked, influenced this misguided flow of human interaction did not do so. They remained silent. Therein lies the misery of human existence when it comes to cultism.

Those who could say something .. stayed silent.

And the progression of cultism through the most benign and noble of vocations like therapy, leadership and religion became a blitzkrieg of abuse with the nicest of intentions. It all reminds me of the famous poem written by a pastor whose opposition to the rise of Nazism in Germany resulted in his imprisonment in Dachau:

When They Came For Me

by Pastor Martin Niemoller

When the Nazis came for the communists
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.
Then they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
I did not protest;
I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews,
I did not speak out;
I was not a Jew.
When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out for me.

People are people .. if they could remain silent for a Hitler's Germany, they will readily keep muzzled for a Munz, a Shamblin, a Jeffs, a Koresh, a Manson or any other false teacher and leader everwhere else who are every inch, heart and soul, true cult leaders. Yahweh alone knows how many people had the opportunity to intervene and never did. Why, this is America, it is said .. everyone has a right to their opinion. Even if those opinions result in the tragic decimation of families, darkening of their souls and crushing of consciences for the sake of some "new truth" that decides everyone not adhering to it is of "Satan's world."
With such silence by those in the position to change for the good, cultism's bright future is assured as we stroll down the avenues of the end times toward an assured Judgment Day. As my old friend and mentor Paul Carden once said so well,

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for God's people to do nothing.

And we have done just that so well for too long.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Visions Of Glory: A Memory Of Jehovah's WItnesses

Most Jehovah's Witnesses today simply wouldn't know who the late Barbara Grizzutti Harrison was. Harrison had been a member of their sect who left the Watchtower after a stint of service at it's Brooklyn, New York headquarters many years ago. As in all cultic movements defectors who leave for any reason at all immediately become personae non gratae among their social circles, unwelcome dissidents whose presence would taint their social circles with intolerable examples of independent thought and noncompliance. Cultism's ability to engage in a purging of its culture's collective mindset guarantees that such people are branded as traitorous non-persons whose views and experiences are painted with scarlet letters and who are people who essentially cease to exist among them.

For many people in movements like the Watchtower, it's easy to turn such people into pariahs whose malcontent alone is proof that they are not to be listened to. This helps guarantee that their troubling insights be no longer heard, let alone believed - and that the control of the sect over the hearts and minds of their people is rendered absolute and complete. Matters of conscience mean nothing at this point. However, Barbara's life - as anyone's - isn't something one can just dismiss at hand, and what she saw and experienced there is a frank testimony to how a sect illegitimately controls and dominates its' own so completely that it can only be called abusive and yes, cultic.

Several years after leaving the Watchtower and slowly reembracing Roman Catholicism, Harrison penned a personal memoir she wrote of her years growing up within the Watchtower organization after being brought into it at the age of nine by an enthusiastically converted mother. Her book was among the first modern exposes of life as a Jehovah's Witness that deserves to not only be remembered but enthusiastically recommended for personal study.
I first came across this book as Joy and I were starting out in our first forays in countercult ministry back in 1993 and was stunned at how one's view from the outside of something not only misses so much detail and context about it, but can make it appear to be what it is not.

It is gripping, reading and can be read in full at this online version of the book by clicking here: if you want to understand what being part of something larger than yourself when it's giant jackboot heel is poised to come down on your head if you slip up, this is a book you'll never forget:

An excerpt of Harrison's writing ..

There was guilt, and there was glory: I walked a spiritual tightrope.

I feel now that for the twelve years I spent as one of Jehovah's Witnesses, three of them as a member of the Watchtower Society's headquarters staff, I was living out a vivid dream, hallucinating within the closed system of logic and private reality of a religion that relished disaster; rejoiced in the evil of human nature; lusted for certitude; ordered its members to disdain the painful present in exchange for the glorious future; corrupted ritual, ethics, and doctrine into ritualism, legalism, and dogmatism.

I was convinced that 1914 marked "the beginning of the times of the end." So firmly did Jehovah's Witnesses believe this to be true that there were those who, in 1944, refused to get their teeth filled, postponing all care of their bodies until God saw to their regeneration in His New World. (One zealous Witness I knew carried a supply of cloves to alleviate the pain of an aching molar which she did not wish to have treated by her dentist, since the time was so short till Jehovah would provide a new and perfect one. To this day, I associate the fragrance of cloves with the imminence of disaster.) ...

.. I rehearse, I jealously preserve preconversion memories; they flash before my mind like magical slides. I treasure a series of intense, isolated moments. I hoard happy images that are pure, unsullied by values assigned to them by others.

Afterward, there was nothing in the world to which I was permitted to give my own meaning; afterward, when the world began to turn for me on the axis of God’s displeasure, I was obliged to regard all events as part of God’s plan for the universe as understood only by Jehovah’s Witnesses. Afterward, meanings were assigned to all things. The world was flattened out into right and wrong; all experience was sealed into compartments marked Good and Evil. Before my conversion, each beloved object and event had the luminosity and impurity of a thing complete in itself, a thing to which no significance is attributed other than that which it chooses to reveal. ..

After my conversion, I began immediately to have a dream, which recurred until I released myself from bondage to that religion twelve years later, when I was 21. In the dream, I am standing in my grandmother's walled garden. At the far corner of the garden, where the climbing red roses shine like bright blood against the whitewashed wall, stands a creature icy, resplendent, of indeterminate sex. The creature calls to me. In my dream its voice is tactile; I feel it flow through my veins like molten silver. I am rendered bloodless, will-less; the creature extends its arms in a gesture that is at once magisterial and maternal, entreating and commanding. I walk toward its embrace, fearful but glad, unable not to abandon myself to a splendid doom. The creature seizes me in its arms and I am hurled out of the garden, a ravaged Humpty-Dumpty flying through dark and hostile space, alone.

I understand that dream to have been telling me my truest feelings, which my conscious, waking mind censored for long hard years: I understand it to be my soul's perception that my religion had isolated and alienated me from the world, which it perceived as evil and menacing, and which I regarded, at the bedrock level of my being, as imperfect but not un-good; my religion savaged those to whom it offered salvation.

For twelve years I lived in fear.

One remembers the words of Roy Batty as he watched his antagonist Decker losing his grip on a rain-slickened skyscraper's edge in the film "Blade Runner":

Quite an experience to live in fear, isn't it? That's what it is to be a slave.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

When A Guru Behaves Badly: Deepak's Deconstructing Dissing

When Christian truth claims get caught in the crossfire of the culture rejecting them, their opponents (who would hate to be called such) resort to their usual spin doctoring to depict Christianity and its origins as something too far fetched and intolerant for any reasonably intelligent person to consider. It's the standard modus operandi for generations of skeptics from Ingersoll to Bill Maher who typically focus their antagonism towards Christianity along irreverent, probing philosophical lines. The self-centered spirit of secular humanism, which is at the heart of most modern rebellion today, freely imbibes from this well.

In so doing, their ridicule is now acceptable entertainment in our culture today, as gratifying as the religious humor cranked out by the likes of a Tyler Perry or Mel Brooks for the same audience, but with an appeal to the definitely atheistic eye. Such humor lights up the metaphysical boredom of the masses who, in laughing at the predicaments of the targets of their scorn or parody, provides a pop rationale for living any way they choose simply because they saw X or Y do the same. Such is life in our apostate world, a world in which a generation that neither knows nor fears the true God reaches for cultural predominance.

So when the scions of the syncretic New Age philosophy join in the frey, it's always telling to see how their supposedly enlightened spirituality targets Christian truth claims with a vicious malignity no better then the arena-baiting of today's pundits. Such is the example of Hindu ayervedic teacher Deepak Chopra.

A former adherent to the Transcendental Meditation guru Mahareshi Mahesh Yogi (the same one who found fans in the Beatles in the 1960's and who single handedly opened the floodgates for Eastern mysticism in the West that would morph into the New Age movement of the 1970's and beyond), Chopra finally severed his ties with TM and set out on his own path by writing, lecturing and speaking about his version of Ayurvedic wisdom, which is basically a form of Hindu occultism. Chopra's teaching is, like Mahesh Yogi's, a retread of Hinduism made more palatable for Western ears hearing buzzwords like "empowerment workshop", "awakening" and "yoga" and not knowing, or even caring, that they relate to a world religion based on the worship of other gods, including those of the self.

It was when his teaching finally found an audience in New Age-enthralled media goddess Oprah Winfrey in the early 1990's, the champion of all things ticklish to the ear, and who introduced him to the world at large via her TV show that his fortunes soared. Winfrey's highlighting of Chopra on that bully pulpit of daytime television, along with others like Gary Zukav, Marianne Williamson, Shirley MacLaine and Eckhart Tolle, guarantees millions of new disciples for their New Age ideals which in turn further solidifies its fundamentally antichristian worldview and philosophy, hidden behind a supposedly sublime "spirituality."

So in taking cues from the shifting cultural winds they've inspired, and being the pragmatic and sensitive spiritual teacher he is, Chopra's willingness to assail Christianity itself as he lambasts those who embrace it in the political process here in America is to be expected. When he appears on newscasts to recast Jesus as a sage who gained all of his wisdom from the paganism of the East of his day, his colors become quite clear. The sacred fire of "tolerance", of which Chopra and his tribe claim to be guardians, is scrupulously with held by them from those who would be disciples of Christ and who would live their lives practicing their faith. Hugh Hewitt's commentary on how Chopra's targeting of Christianity well argues that his own speech is a hate crime no less onerous or threatening. Click here to read it.

As usual, the purveyors of cultural "transformation" have places for every thing under the sun in their pantheons of the new idolatry of today, except, of course, the notion that Jesus alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Such "hate speech" doesn't fit on their altars.

That's fine with me. I'll preach it and live it out anyway. If that principle alone brings upon me their anathema of being a producer of "hate crime", I'm guilty as charged.

Incidentally, an excellent book on the blasphemous errors of the New Age written by Christian author and activist Vishal Mangalwadi is now available for free download here. Enrich your reading time with his outstanding book "When The New Age Gets Old," available in .PDF file format. And don't forget to visit Vishal's wonderful blog and website for his probing, thoughtful essays and writings on how Eastern thought seeks to eclipse the light of Christ. I had the opportunity to sit under Vishal's eye-opening teaching on the Eastern mindset at a Cornerstone Festival in 1986 and get to meet him as well.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

What Do You Mean By Christian "Apologetics?"

The term "apologetics" is drawn from a Biblical Greek word "apologia", and doesn't mean one's "apology" for being a Christian! The world literally means to give a reasoned defense, a verbal speech in defense of oneself. Paul the apostle had to resort frequently to this when facing down the rebellious Corinthian Christians who challenged his authority (1 Cor. 9:3): "Mine answer (or apologia) to them that do examine me is this .." An apologetic is a verbal defense, an explanation for one's beliefs and practices. Therefore, Christian "apologetics" is the process of defending the claims and teachings of Christianity.

As Edward John Carnell once put it "Apologetics is that branch of Christian theology which answers the question, Is Christianity rationally defensible?" (emphasis author). Christian apologetics goes beyond simple proclamation of Biblical truths, whether in traditional preaching or systematic theology: it not only seeks to proclaim these truths but provide the answers to whoever might raise critical objections to the Christian faith. Carnell also goes on to explain the two fold purpose of apologetics:

First, to bring glory to God. Just as we would defend the words of our earthly father, so we defend the words of our Father in heaven. Secondly, to remove from critics any excuse for not repenting before God. Men who refuse Christ because of presumed 'logical errors' in Christianity are men with a self-righteousness in the area of knowledge. They are resting on props which must be pulled away.

Christian apologetics, then, is a balanced and reasoned defense of the truth claims of orthodox and historically Biblical Christian faith and practices, with the aim of glorifying God and bringing those objecting to or distorting the faith to see not only their error but their need of a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Flannery O'Connor Country Redux: The Brian Nichols Story Remembered

Five years ago, a desperate man broke out of a Georgian jail where he was facing rape charges and in the process murdered several people in an orgy of calculated rage.

On the run from a massive manhunt, armed, dangerous and with absolutely nothing to lose, something else happened to Brian Nichols as he took a hostage and hid for several hours - and what happened was an uncommon visitation of grace that intervened in his life that deserves to be recounted.

Here's the story by Ashley Smith, the hostage, as told by a Wall Street Journal column writer.

This story needs to be remembered for in the Christian life, the weapons of our warfare, as the Scripture says, are not carnal.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Next Up: The Contention Of Discernment, Brought To You By The Intolerant Jesus And His Bigoted Apostles

.. be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; but speaking the truth in love, .. grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
Ephesians 4:14-15
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples, saying ..
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? .. Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
Matthew 23:3, 24-25

Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord?
Acts 13:9-11

Western civilization's descent into postmodern amorality continues largely unabated. It's now possible to label anyone's criticism of anyone or anything else as hate speech inspired by intolerant bigotry in an effort to deflect or nullify its plain thrust. Such a strategy is employed when attempts are made by the discerning to understand the immoral and/or unethical influences that cults and extremist philosophies exert over the lives of millions of people. This kind of approach increasingly finds cultural traction in the West as it becomes more and more sensitized to the civil liberties of the individual apart from the prevailing social order that it may come into conflict with.

To support this controversial perspective, civil libertarians and social engineers who adhere to it have developed a new generation of social custom that have been popularly called political correctness. A lot of bandwidth over the years has been spent about what this term means, but there's no question that to be politically correct is to be, simply put, profoundly sensitized to avoiding any sort of offense to anyone's personal persuasions. The slowly prevailing trend in Western culture, which is advocated as the highest mark of social convention, is for complete conformity to the prized secular value of inoffensiveness. So things like teaching Biblical absolutes, Judeo Christian values and personal lifestyle choices and expressions of thought based upon them are pretty much fair game in a politically correct culture that views anything smacking of absolutism as bad manners at best and a hate crime at worst.

This is well illustrated in one of my favorite science fiction novels, the classic Dune by Frank Herbert, by the decisions made by the fictional Commission of Ecumenical Translators who are given sway over the known Dune galaxy to advance the rejection of any opposing arguments or critical views between religious faiths claiming "the one and only revelation". The universe's peace and stability, they believed, rested upon suppression and elimination of any belief that there could be just one definitive truth, revelation or faith .. it welcomed all spiritual claims equally as valid, to be fitted into an ultimate cultural mosaic that would advance peace and prosperity on the basis of a harmony that brooked no opposition to alternative perspectives.

This view of political correctness in Herbert's 1960's novelization is a great example of how all encompassing this value-free approach to life wants to make human society. Such an ideal has preoccupied Western society and it is this prevailing wind of cultural thought that sweeps over all expression of personal thought and conscience today in America and beyond, profoundly coloring and affecting human interaction. While I certainly advocate personal freedom of conscience, respect of diversity among people and individual choices of lifestyle they might make, I roundly reject any kind of cultural brinkmanship that demands my compliance to not offend anyone with anything like an opposing view based upon my own convictions. Any intellectually responsible individual should recognize such a perspective as incomparably more inclusive and defensible to those who insist that there are no absolutes at all (a bizarre belief that self-destructs by actually stating an absolute when insisting that there are none).

But it is this kind of warped cultural zeitgeist that Christian discernment in the last days will find itself battling with as well. For when the heat is finally on and the light is brightest in the eyes of false teachers and cultic leaders who don't like it, they resort to knee jerk reactions to valid questions that use this political correctness as their shield against them. When presented with Biblical reasoning and personal testimony that exposes the spiritual emptiness and error of their ways, cults and false teachers find a convienient dodge in the marketplaces of public discourse where their false teaching is confronted by calling criticism "intolerance" and discernment "religious bigotry." It serves to twitch the antennae of the politically correct and summons philosophical unity and support from a variety of parties that wouldn't agree any other way, thus furthering the advance of error, heresy and religious abuse that stems from it.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the very incarnation of God Himself as the Bible says so clearly again and again (John 14:9 and Hebrews 1:3 are just two places you can see this). Jesus is not just loving - He is love itself (1 John 4:8, John 15:9) If you want to see what love looks like, you'll see it in the person, character and attitude of Christ Himself as He strode throughout our sinful world of pain to fulfill the Triune God's steadfast determination to show mercy and love to an evil, gainsaying world that didn't deserve it as John 3:16-17 and 1 John 3:16 beautifully express it. The only reason this world hasn't been plunged into judgment sooner than it has deserved it is because of that unfailing, eternal love that God regards fallen humanity with, through the person of Jesus and manifest in this veil of tears by His Spirit. Thanks be to God for such grace!

The apostles of Jesus gave us the greatest examples of walking out a Christian lifestyle that embodied that same grace of godly charity. They intended on being examples of what they beheld in the Master and lived lives of struggle through which their triumph over adversity by their faith in Christ (1 John 5:4) helped establish the faith of the newborn Church itself. They suffered and endured endless rounds of persecution, deprivation and spiritual assault with delight, cheer, joy and godly love in settings completely unimaginable to most Western believers (1 Corinthians 4:9-16, 2 Corinthians 11:23-30, 1 Peter 4:11-15, Hebrews 6:11-12, 1 Thessalonians 1:5-7, ). Their utter willingness to spend and be spent for others (2 Corinthians 12:15) to advance the Kingdom of God in a world that hates Him and His truth is a sure sign of their apostolic authority and grace.

And these very same divinely inspired examples were also - as Scripture shows - as defiantly confrontational as needed when the message of the Gospel and the truths of God's Word were opposed and distorted by false teachers. The example of Jesus and His apostles was not marked just by their love, endurance and patience but by their resolute willingness to call out the sinful, the deceptive and the injustice that they encountered as they preached the Gospel and called the world to repentance. They fearlessly lifted up their voices to expose, refute and identify those sources of spiritual deception and religious abuse where ever they found it as well as the social institutions that gave it the authority it usurped. This is a dimension of their example that few people know about or admit to, but it is there, nonetheless. "Contending for the faith" isn't just some motivational aphorism, according to their example, but is a Biblical mandate to intentionally engage in a very real, very literal contention for the sake of Christian truth.

The verses I cited in the opening lines of this post show that the same loving Jesus who took children into his arms to bless them and laid his hands on dying lepers also did not hesitate to take up a whip to beat covetous merchants who defiled the temple with their crooked dealings and lambast the Pharisees as "snakes" worthy of the fires of hell. The same apostle Paul who wept over the souls of the congregations he cared for also unsparingly gazed upon an occultic magician who opposed his preaching and called him a "child of the devil." They asserted an authority by the power of the Word and Spirit of God that unblinkingly faced down by both word and deed those satanically inspired deceivers who sought to overthrow truth. The stakes are high - the spiritual destinies of those who are audiences to these contests. There are none higher.

Such decisive action effectively flies in the face of the cultural idolatry done in the name of political correctness, but that's never been the concern of Christ or the apostles: read these verses from Scripture and see just how seriously they took this:

Watch the example of Jesus:

And he entered again into the synagogue; and there was a man there which had a withered hand. And they watched him, whether he would heal him on the sabbath day; that they might accuse him. And he saith unto the man which had the withered hand, Stand forth. And he saith unto them, Is it lawful to do good on the sabbath days, or to do evil? to save life, or to kill? But they held their peace. And when he had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other. Mark 3:1-5

Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Mark 7:5-7

The same day there came certain of the Pharisees, saying unto him, Get thee out, and depart hence: for Herod will kill thee. And he said unto them, Go ye, and tell that fox, Behold, I cast out devils, and I do cures to day and to morrow, and the third day I shall be perfected. Luke 13:31-32

Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered. And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things: Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him. In the mean time, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; neither hid, that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light; and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. Luke 12:52-54, 13:1-3

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. Acts 8:19-23

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. Romans 16:17-18

Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear. I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality. Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure. 1 Timothy 5:20-22

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. 2 Timothy 2:15-18

Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and that all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion. 2 Timothy 4:14-17

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself. Titus 3:10-11

Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. 1 John 4:1-3

I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God. 3 John 9-11

If they were physically among us now, in this gainsaying fallen culture of today, it's easy to see how quickly how these mandates and examples of Jesus and the apostles would be quickly labelled as intolerant religious bigotry. They'd be tried immediately by self-anointed cultural elites in their media-driven star chambers and be summarily found guilty of hate crimes and violence.

It remains to those who claim to be disciples of Christ to decide which side of this cultural divide they will choose to identify with - whether contending for the Faith, once delivered to the saints (Jude 3) is something they'll obey or opt out from. The Biblical prophecies about the last days we've been reviewing here in this blog show, sadly, that far more professed Christians will inexplicably embrace darkness as light and jettison confrontational discernment as antisocial and meanspirited traditional thinking that truly enlightened people will reject.

In the meantime, for those whom the discerning contentions of Jesus and the apostles is enough of an example to follow as an act of worship and love of God's truth, the daily prayer of "Uncle Bud" Robinson, a Nazarene preacher from White County, Tennessee (just north of where we live), will resonate like a trumpet call from on high .. may it be as much yours as it is mine ..

"Oh Lord, give me a backbone as big as a sawlog, ribs like the sleepers under the church floor, put iron shoes on me and galvanized breeches, give me a rhinoceros hide for a skin, and hang a wagonload of determination up in the gable-end of my soul, and help me to sign the contract to fight the devil as long as I've got a fist and bite him as long as I have a tooth, then gum him till I die. All this I ask for Christ's sake. Amen."

Sunday, April 4, 2010

You Can't Keep The Only Good Man In History Down!

It was Friday.

The Pharisees thought they'd solved their troublesome religious problem that threatened their authority. The Romans had washed their hands of their part in handling a civil disturbance in one of their conquered provinces. The Jewish mob of easily excitable pilgrims passing through the temple there in Jerusalem assumed another blasphemer had been dealt with. The disciples of Christ all assumed that their Master was gone and struggled with the dark nights of their souls and a shattered faith.

And world history as well as the skeptic, atheist and deconstructor over time tries to rationalize, mock or redefine away the plain facts of the matter, trying to "prove" that this was all a legend, a myth, a delusion.

The Lord Jesus Christ had greater plans. For Sunday was coming!

He AROSE from a grave that wasn't his, taking up again a life He laid down, paying a cost He didn't owe, and proving once and for all that He loved us first even we were and are still yet so unloving. The tears on every face can be dried .. the hurts and pains of humanity's misery can be healed .. and the doors to Heaven opened up once more!

Praised be to God, Jesus is ALIVE!

And because He lives, all who trust Him and Him alone for salvation can live also! It's there He has sealed our every victory, grappled and beaten every enemy, bestowed unspeakable spiritual giftings and authority to walk as He did, and dried every tear

Sing it brother Keith!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Being Mormon Before Being Mormon Was Cool: It's Ok To Be "Mormon" Once More

How the times they are a-changing.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, long before the 1838 adoption of this official title to identify itself, had been called the "Mormon Church" for years by both its members and its detractors from upstate New York to Ohio, Illinois and Missouri. At times embraced as a badge of honor and rejected as a mocking epithet, the term came into popularity from its earliest days when people recognized its unique claims about the alleged visitations of an angel by that same name. This became more the case when Joseph Smith authored and had published a so-called translation of supposedly sacred texts that came to be known as the "Book of Mormon." Ever since late 1800's, the LDS Church has grudgingly sought to educate the "Gentiles" outside of it that they consider themselves to be "Latter Day Saints" and not Mormons. Even while accepting it among their own social circles as part of their identity, the church officially disdains the title still, especially when the church came under greater attention then before in the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic games. An official statement makes no bones about this. In their elitist attempt to distinguish themselves as "The Restoration" unlike any other, the LDS Church's attempt to distance themselves from their popular identity as the "Mormon Church" has been a largely useless attempt to focus their public image on a seemingly innocuous if not long and cumbersome corporate title.

Until now.

With new attention focused on LDS fundamentalist groups scattered across the Western United States, whose emphasis on patriarchal priesthoods that indulge in wholesale sectarian polygamy claim to practice the purest form of Mormonism, the LDS Church's historical twists and turns have become impossible for them to shake. So, it would seem, with the coming of the LDS Church's annual assembly this year, the leadership has now concluded that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. The adoption and usage of the term "Mormon" now appears to be flourishing like never before. This will have enormous implications for those wanting to be discerning when it comes to the claims of the Mormon revelation and its supposed authority. Throughout Salt Lake City, it's now cool to be called "Mormon" once more. Click this link for a story on this strange issue, which as it usually goes, is indeed stranger than before.

Friday, April 2, 2010

The Only Hope For An Apostate And Evil World of Pain

Do you think we've got problems on this planet?

Do you look upon this increasingly filthy and lawless world and wonder how much longer things can go as they are?

Are you filled with pain of secret scars and silent anguish?

Do you wonder how you can go on?

There was a Man two thousand years ago who took upon Himself the pain of you, me and creation across all time itself as He was murdered.

All for our evil, our sin, our rebellion.

All for mine. All for yours.

The greatest argument for the truth of the Good News He came to tell us of can be seen below .. in that He took at the cost of His own life the burden He didn't have to bear, to dry the tears you cry, bring light to darkness, and truth to a world of lies.

Think about that today, Good Friday. This world doesn't care what day it is.

Over two thousand years ago, He did.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ruminations Coming: In The Meantime, A Public Service Announcement

Maybe the term "naturalism" would be more exact. Still, atheism has a long standing affinity with the form of naturalism described above. It's the belief about the natural world that rejects any notion of any kind of higher power having any influence over the observable processes of the creation around us. They scorn the belief of a Creator who creates and then come up with this cock and bull story to solemnly inform us this is the only "provable" explanation for all of physical natural reality as well as ancient natural history itself.

This kind of scientific "theory" is what many of the best minds in the world are convinced explains how the world came to be. No wonder those who question it are viewed as ignorant and unwashed Neanderthals - to admit that truly critical examination of this bizarre fairy tale might have a point to concede would cause the whole house of naturalism's cards to blow away.

Monday, March 29, 2010

All We Are Is Dust In The Wind? Hardly ..

I cannot stop watching this. I normally wouldn't post this on this kind of blog, but the haunting beauty of this video demands an audience.

The White Mountain from charles on Vimeo.

It's tempting to view this magnificent and compelling video and begin to feel the chill of how seemingly remote, miniscule, and lost we are in a bigger, larger world and universe around us.

And yet, the Word of God is so much clearer on where we fit in .. hear these portions of Psalm 139

O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.

For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it. Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.

If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee. .. How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee. ..

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Discernment Is Discernment When Truth Confronts Error

In the early 1800's, the continuing advance of white Americans into the lands of the Cherokee Indian nation in North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia were among many of the manifold pressures Native Americans had to deal with. Whether they faced unsuccessful negotiations with local governments or armed conflicts with white settlers and militia, the question faced by Native American tribes across the land was always the same - how to respond to the increasingly aggressive dealings of colonial advances that sought to push Indians further west away from their traditional homelands. It became one of the darkest and tragic moments of American history.

The situation almost changed dramatically in 1811. A fervent excitement swept Indian tribes across the East as efforts to form a great alliance among them to drive the whites back began in earnest. Indian shamans and many Indians themselves had long resisted the social seductions to give up their folkways, spirituality and culture for those impressed upon them by contact with white settlers and state governments. It was given a huge surge of support when word of a prophetic vision delivered by Tenskwatawa, the shaman brother of the great Shawnee Chief Tecumseh began to spread as well, emboldening those who favored armed warfare. Many unsettling and inexplicable occurrences that seemed to be supernatural visitations from the Great Spirit began to occur among the tribes, further bolstering the conviction that this alliance should proceed. Had this occurred, it's not hard to see - with the second British invasion of America iminent in 1812 - how American history could have been vastly different. For such a conflict to confront the young American nation on two massive fronts certainly would have changed the course of history itself - and world history as well.

So in May, 1811 the governing council of the Cherokee Indian nation could no longer ignore the issue and had to meet to consider certain visions claimed to have come to three Cherokees that advanced the same point of the Shawnee shaman and chief - the return to their former way of life and rejection of any futher white advances into their lands. The Cherokee were the most dominant and powerful of the Native American tribes of the Eastern United States and were clearly in a position to powerfully influence the smaller ones around them to proceed one way or another. Having almost 150 years of largely peaceful contact and interaction with white America, the Cherokee had come away from it profoundly influenced by many of their practical and cultural innovations from government to agriculture to trade. They were aware that such advances would help their own people grow - and had not yet come to fully believe that the United States would ever engage in the systematic expulsion of their people from the East in the debacle of the Trail of Tears.

But with the pressures at hand, tribal opinion was mixed and decidedly unsettled, and the council would be a place for the Cherokee nation to gather direction. As the accounts of the vision were discussed excitedly in the council at Red Clay in Bradley County, Tennessee (where our ministry is based), one lone Cherokee leader had serious doubts about them. Author John Ehle, in his book "Trail Of Tears" commented that Chief Ridge, a well known and well respected man among his people, listened closely as

the man among the three who had seen the vision closed by saying that if one would deny his message, the Mother of the Cherokees would strike him dead.

Ridge sat stone still as excited commentators roamed about the council house, most of them chiefs who were known opponents of acculturation with the whites; they were celebrating this revelation. Finally, Ridge got to his feet and asked for audience, and when the noise subsided, he made his speech.

"My friends, the talk you have heard is not good. It would lead us to war with the United States, and we should suffer. It is false; it is not a talk fom the Great Spirit. I stand here and defy the threat that he who disbelieves shall die. Let the death come upon me. I offer to test this scheme of impostors."

Even as he finished speaking, angry delegates assaulted him. He struck back at them and several fell; like a great bear he batted off his assailants. Eventually they overcame him, pummeling him, trying to knife him ... Ridge, once on his feet again, continued to defy the nay-sayers and their shamans. Again, furious chiefs assaulted him, but this time elder chiefs demanded order and enforced it.

Ridge, his clothing torn, bleeding from cuts, stood before them all. You see, he told them, I continue to live, so these prophets are deceivers.

"Trail Of Tears" (Anchor 1988), page 98-99

And history continues to change today as the last day deceptions of Satanic and humam design continue to get the P.R. they do as those in the position to confront and correct them utterly fail to do so, even embracing such "new truth" as divine revelation from on High.

What history have you changed today?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Company Heresy Seeks To Keep - Some Thoughts

Acts 20:29-30

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

2 Peter 2:1-3

But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.
Titus 3:10-11

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

2 Corinthians 11:3-4
But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him.
Ephesians 2:8-9

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

I'm going to continue to explore what the Bible says about the end time apostacy and the kind of company that last days that end time heresy likes to keep .. or diss.

Read well, all you RF operatives out there. You believe you're reading this just to serve your ends. God is giving you merciful grace to consider your crooked ways by being allowed by study these. Don't harden your heart further and forget this day of visitation you are reading this under - because in the Judgment, you will be reminded of having been here where you need to be and where this could be your final chance to FREE YOUR MIND.

In my first post this year, I cited the prophecy of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself out of Matthew 24:1-14 detailing his stark warning that in the time preceding His Return to the world. When asked what would the signs be that heralded this, it's important to remember that the first thing He said was "take heed that no man deceive you." He did not point to social utopia or religious revival as a sign of His return but to a world staggering under the advance of deceptive figures he called false prophets and false pretenders claiming to be Him. Among these other signs were plagues, warfare and earthquakes in different places all over the world - all heralds of His coming that are largely being dismissed as "coincedence" by those who are clueless to His warning.

In my second post concerning end time apostasy as Scripture teaches, I spoke of what the Bible speaks about what the word literally means, emphasizing that the sense of the word in Scripture is that an apostasy is an abandonment or rejection of true faith, morality and conviction which God has ordained as acceptable to Him. I wrote that it always leads to immorality as sinful people act out their sinfulness on one another in the absence of any moral constraint and that mankind has suffered from the primal falling away of Adam and Eve from God in their failures in Eden to obey Him.

In this post, I want to share briefly on what the Scriptures say about another side of the Janus face of apostacy - how its unholy offspring that is called heresy routinely stalks and ensnares all manner of people as one of the most cunning devices of Satanic inspiration created to destroy the souls of men.

The word heresy is what we want to focus upon first. The word, coming from the New Testament Greek words hairesis, literally meant "a choosing" and in other contexts "a faction." The sense of the word was to define the act of choosing to divide from what was accepted as the established normalcy. Applied withing the context of the Christian faith, it was given wide usage in the Christian church (as cited in the Scriptures above) as it faced the first great onslaughts of apostasy in the first and second century that arose from within it. The iminent spiritual onslaught against the Body of Christ was what the great apostle Paul wept over with hot tears of agony in Acts 20, seeking to impress upon the Ephesian elders that these trials of strange fire from within would test the infant Christian church after he left, to see them no more:
Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.
Acts 20:31

The Ebionite, Marcionite and Gnostic heresies were among the first spiritual challenges that the first believers had to deal with, issues that the apostles grappled with in the book of Acts and alluded to in their Epistles to the churches. And these issues originated from earnest, passionately spiritual people who looked, acted and spoke just like Christians themselves but who preached "another gospel" setting forth "another Jesus" by the spiritual power of "another spirit" as Paul wrote to the Corinthians. With that kind of deceptive power, major confusion and disruption was poised to turn the Christian church into squabbling sects who would fade into utter obscurity, with the destiny of humanity itself at stake.

It's almost virtually impossible for the lukewarm and backslidden Christian church of today to fully appreciate just how much at stake their personal faith itself actually was in those first few years. Few of the self-centered Christians of today's casual Christianity seem to even care that the very shape of what they would believe and trust in concerning their temporal and eternal destinies could have been forever lost. But that is indeed how vital the issue was, and is and always shall be until the Lord Jesus Himself returns. History itself would have been also profoundly altered had the unbiblical truth claims of these groups had found the foothold they desired and therefore spiritually warped the truth of the Gospel itself - and hence the missionary outreach of the Church which transformed the ancient world. Heresy, as shown by the Bible and history, is indeed a pretty big deal then as now.

In his seminal book, Heresies (a book I've got in my list of favorites here on the blog), the late Harold O.J. Brown described heresy best as:

.. (designating) either a doctrine or the party holding the doctrine, a doctrine that was sufficiently intolerable to destroy the unity of the Christian church. In the early church, heresy did not refer to simply any doctrinal disagreement, but to something that seemed to undercut the very basis for Christian existence. (p. 2)

Heresy, then, is not only a teaching that denies orthodox Christian truth but a deceptive trickery claiming to unveil lost or restored truth. It results in the creation of a rogue spirituality that defies the Christian faith and creates division among Christians who were formerly united around apostolic doctrine and practice.

And those individuals who bring about this spiritual baiting and switching that leads to all of this trouble for the church are what the Scriptures we've reviewed above call heretics. The Bible's view of heretics, from the boldness of the occultic Simon Magus in the book of Acts to the seductions of the false prophetess Jezebel in the book of Revelation, shows that they are a bold and driven people. Heretics are both men and women who are brilliant, charming and engaging folks who can tell engaging stories, ooze appealingly earnest passion over their beliefs, and who can quote the Bible better than Jesus could. The Bible says they are driven by an agenda of self-aggrandizement based upon their measure of human nature and mastery of their misguided message. For all of their seemingly meek and humble bearings and origins, we would do well to remember Peter's warning is that such people are stealthy, cunning interlopers - wolves in sheep's clothing (Matthew 7:14) who sneak into the sheepfolds of the church to tell amazing tidings of deeper depths and higher heights they are called of God to lead them into.

As we've seen, heresy is a lonely beast and a social animal. It seeks company, craving a captive audience from people, who, through the best of intentions, end up in an alternate spiritual reality that is a mimicked version of the Christian faith. It can only replicate itself at the cost of Christians who have failed to get their own grip on sound Christian doctrine. So it's qute understandable why today's modern heretics who have a vested interest in posing as orthodox Christians quite obviously don't like being called heretics. It's difficult to pull the wool over the eyes of those they seek to bewitch if they are identified as someone who does just that!

So they do everything they can to prove their self-anointed calling as a lonely voice of truth in the world and convince their flocks that they alone have God's favor. They point to anything they can to find divine verification of their doings and their teachings. They demand complete and total surrender to their authority at the cost of their follower's eternal enlightenment or salvation. They cast a vision of a doomed world outside the social circle of their own sect. They cry aloud how they are being persecuted for "The Truth" when their ultimately corrupt doings are exposed and emotionally whine about how unloving and judgmental their unspiritual critics are, knowing that in this pluralistic day that they'll score points among people just for that evasive comment alone.

Their "Messages" are little more than legalistic busywork they bind to the shoulders of their folowers, a compulsion they impart to their flocks to follow their codes of conduct which involve self-denial or spiritual sacrifice to purify and perfect themselves. They ultimately indoctrinate them with a keen sensitivity to works-based self-righteousness

And they know that there are still enough people left for whom the concept of heresy and the figure of the heretic is still a trumpet call of alarm that hastens deeper discerning of their doings. In the end, the company kept - a host of neophytes forsaking all to become their leader's clones - shows just what kind of a spiritual dead end heretics follow. They are the blind leaders of blind followers who, Jesus said with terrifyingly evocative bluntness shall both "fall into the ditch" (Matthew 15:14).

And the tragedy of it all is that millions of people both within and without the church are being confronted with the siren songs of cultic heresy, voiced by cultic heretics who never fail to find new audiences ever day .. as this video so painfully dramatizes.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Bad Moon Falling - When A Cult's Empire Shows Its Strain

Cultic movements, for all of their allegedly divine commission and exclusive claims to the authority of the Almighty, ultimately are no different then any other humanly organization since they are still populated by human beings filled with frailty, imperfection, sin and the same kind of self-centered drama all of us can fall into.

So when the aging "Reverend" Sun Myung Moon decided to finally start giving up his iron control over his Unification Church, vast business holdings and overall control a few years ago, the internecine squabbles within his "True Family" between factions of sons are of course not surprising. The fighting for ultimate control of the church, its business enterprises and the direction of the Unification movement worldwide - and the billions of dollars that underlay them - has long ago begun. Things have gotten decidedly uglier since Moon's more recent actions to turn over day by day operation to his sons have escalated their war of words and have even launched rival claims to their control.

Check out this link if you'd like to read a bit more.

Unificationists have long been used to having to turn blind eyes when seeing their "True Parents" and the "True Family" exhibit behavior that shows them to be far more subject to sin and falsehood then they would want to be known for. Any authoritarian cult with an elite clique exalted as royalty who exercise complete temporal and spiritual control over their followers will of course do all they can to spin, deny and cover up their failings. But the first salvos of this conflict are seemingly going to open a lot of eyes up within the Moon organization. May God's grace and His Gospel somehow get through to them as well!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

When The Heresy Comes Home - some more thoughts

I've been busy with life in general among other things, so unfortunately, I've not been blogging .. again! I try hard to strike the balance in personal time so as to do this, but alas, things are just too pressing.

As I regather my ruminations, here's a few interesting ones that I thought I'd post on the more memorable things that happen when the sectarian missionaries of error get put into places they don't easily adapt to. I'm not referring to situations involving gun toting Russian gangsters, desperate English housewives with see through negligees, or a Saturday Night Live skit either ..

Here's a link to a blog write up on when two Jehovah's Witnesses are temporarily gotten out of their box by a Christian "householder" .. with something as simple as questions ..

This one will take you to show how well disguised Unificationists (AKA Moonies, disciples of the antichrist Sun Myung Moon) will make themselves when working through their front groups.

The reveries of two former members of an abusive church in Louisiana and the Crossroads movement that became the cultic International Churches of Christ can be read in this bulletin board thread here. Both accounts took place decades and hundreds of miles apart .. but are, as almost always, frighteningly the same ..

And this De Novo article, written by a professedly Hindu agnostic, about the Latter Day Saint's missionary's attempt to sell his religion without revealing much of it, speaks volumes about how deception looks when its cloak falls off ..

Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Prosperity Gospeliers On The Haitian Crisis

I responded to a post on a bulletin board I do most of my online posting on concerning this subject. Most of my online personal commentary on the heresy and false doctrine advanced by Charismatic and Pentecostal extremism is made either on our website, in private emails to those who contact us, or on this blog.

The BB is frequented by many leaders, clergy and laity of my movement, the Church of God (Cleveland) where I am a licensed minister at. The post below piqued my interest concerning the possible reactions of those members of the Word of Faith clergy who might find some uniquely perverse ways to profit from the horrors of the Haitian calamity.

In case you've been under a rock for the past week, a natural disaster of the most horrifically first magnitude has tragically visited that Haiti with a 7.0 earthquake, destruction and the deaths of possibly over a quarter million people in a country where no decent infrastructure to supply food, water, shelter and medical care has ever quite existed. It was tough enough to live in a place like Haiti, but with thousands now dead and dying in the streets, the flow of commodities like food and basic living supplies cut off, hospitals and market destroyed, and no way to get fresh water easily, life just got inconceivable.

We can and should discuss Pat Robertson's ill timed lambasting of the Haiti for it's adherence to voodoo, but now is not that time. These precious people - be they voodoo practitioners or Catholic or anyone else - need our prayers, our giving and our assistance and for the West to dig deep and help out - click on the links following to the American Red Cross and another great relief organization, Operation Compassion, operated as a ministry of the Church of God if you'd like to help.

The post I reference, in a sad, yet inevitable jar from the stark reality of the horror, asked the question:

Are prosperity preachers in Haiti? I was just wondering if they could get a seed offering from some folks so they can get their 100 fold blessing and move to the next level. Maybe they could get some partners to stand in the gap to help their ministry. I hadn't noticed.

I responded ..

Post: A quick ck to see what the prosperity ministries are doing

Kenneth Copeland Ministries - says on their website they support Christian Haitian Outreach—Cares for orphaned and abandoned children in Haiti. They say they have people there, and it's likely these and others. They do point you to a relief fund where they say 100% of everything donated goes to "provide timely assistance to Partners and Friends affected by major disasters."

Not to worry though, you can also donate to Kenneth Copeland Ministries, their Elite CX Team and the KCM Scholarship Fund. It's right there alongside the KCM Relief Fund checkbox, so you can donate to run KCM, help pay for millions of dollars of new HD TV equipment and production, or subsidize the creation of more KCM clones.

Kenneth Hagin Ministries - No record of any ministries they directly support was found in Haiti, although it's possible RBC alumni may be there. But their massive Flash display shows you can follow them on Twitter, apply to RBC and ensure you get registered in their "Winter Bible Seminar."

Haiti is mentioned as a focus for prayer.

Oral Roberts Evangelistic Association - the Online Services website has a massive picture inviting you to offer "Help For Haiti", but by following the links, you get shuttled to a page where you can Sow a Seed to them directly with absolutely no information on what they are going to do to Help Haiti.

Rod - has a similar huge graphic, a link to several articles that make much about the suffering there, and thanks "for RUSHING your Bridge of Hope gift to help provide immediate earthquake relief and help me preach the Gospel to a lost and hurting world through our Breakthrough Television Broadcast."

Minimum suggested donation. $50.

Jesse Duplantis Ministries and Paula - Both Jesse and Paula say in an article they are trying to figure out what organization with boots on the ground they can give to in order will best help the people. In the mean time, you can send in a donations to them.

Once again, the call for help is appealing .. and the help is desperately needed.

But as usual, as in most prosperity preacher mission products, they are cryptic, vague and short on any specifics. Why they have to handle any money at all you might want to donate is certainly open for some serious question. I guess giving to the Red Cross just isn't spiritual enough ...

I just hope people really are going to be helped by this, although HD suites certainly are needed to get the Broadcast out in the clearest way possible. Why, if we don't give for that, who will?

Analog TV ministry and unpaid satellite bills lead to an uncertain sound.

Friday, January 8, 2010

What Is The Tide Of End Time Apostasy? A New Year's Clarification

After arriving home quite late from a Saturday trip up to Middle Tennessee for an ex-cultist support group meeting, I woke up really late this morning and decided to forego church services until tonight at my homechurch, the South Cleveland Church of God, here in the Holy City. I decided to spend a few moments this morning diving in to address the foundational issues concerning the content and scope of this blog, as I discussed in one of our last entries.

Many visit here may not fully understand what I am speaking of when I mention that this blog is dedicated to responding and critiquing what I have repeatedly called an advance of the end time apostasy that the Lord Jesus Christ predicted in Matthew 24. Perhaps a bit of explanation is in hand since so very few people understand what the Bible says about this, even if many of them recognize quite plainly that America and the world can scarcely be described in what we fancy to be "Christian." The issue goes far more deeper than we want to believe, but I want to keep this as easy to understand as possible.

The word apostasy literally means, from the Greek to stand apart, while another form of the word refers to the act of rebellion. The sense of the word in Scripture is that an apostasy is an abandonment or rejection of true faith, morality and conviction which God has ordained as acceptable to Him. The Bible also shows that this kind of spiritual rebellion against His revealed always leads to immorality as sinful people act out their sinfulness on one another in the absence of any moral constraint.

The apostasy of all apostacies that forever changed the course of human history was the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, unflinchingly related in Genesis 3, was an act of disobedient sin (eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil) that in effect was a rebellion from God's revealed will (to eat of any other tree in the Garden except that one tree). It had cataclysmic consequences for us, cutting us off from fellowship from God and imparting unto mankind a sinful depravity that has resulted in several thousand years of tragic history in which violence, oppression, greed and immorality have had a free hand among the tribes of humanity.

The only hope for humanity is Jesus Christ. As a Christian minister and believer, I am called to embrace and preach an obedience and embracing of faith in the person, work and message of Jesus Christ as the literal salvation for us all. His Gospel, as the Christian faith follows it, is the summit of His Father's will for mankind to choose His Lordship over their lives for salvation as well as for responsible social lifestyle and order. Faith in Him and obedience to His commands will deliver us from ourselves.

As a preacher, I call men and women, as Christ did, to repent and believe His Gospel (Mark 1:15) but unlike the coercive religious figures in our world that demand an unholy usage of the power of the state to legislate this kind of obedience, I simply proclaim and admonish .. and leave those same people to make their own choice to do so and then live it out practically in their ethics and morals - in full awareness that God will judge all in light of His revealed will to them (Revelation 20:11-13)

That is all that the advance of Christian faith should ever attempt to do. Jesus did not call upon any earthly government to subsidize the creation of a state church or a divided Christendom to create a social utopia. He calls upon the sinful to embrace His transforming power by repentance from their sin and a faith in Him and to also become responsible members of the great Body of Christ, the "Church invisible" existing across sectarian and temporal divisions , to minister to the needs of a hurting world as well as call it to Christ. When the Church went beyond this mandate, it became a tool of statecraft and ultimately oppression backed by the rule of law, not of the Spirit of God (1 Corinthians 2:12-16) - and became part of the problem itself, becaming the fodder for agnosticism, atheism and the encouragement to explore antichristian spiritualities.

Be that as it may, in those places in the world where the Christian faith in the world has sought to provide a moral example to our fallen culture, and where it has not been embraced for any of the thousand reasons that people reject an active and legitimate faith in Christ, the apostasy of Adam still goes on.

Our blog seeks to show you where the entry points of this rebellion are pulling down whatever truth and relevance the church still has to establish its own rival religiosity and again highlight that what Jesus Christ said in Matthew 24 still has the most powerful urgency today. We seek to warn you to never forget what tidings of these very things imply for us, for it was Christ Himself who said bluntly that when you see these things coming to pass in human history, His Second Coming and Return to the earth to pour out judgment upon sinful mankind was at hand.

Let one of my favorites from the 1960's by none other than Barry McGuire further clarify just how warped and tragic the world is and where we are heading. You can walk out with an entertained shiver from the next blockbuster movie about the end of the world thinking you'll always be able to just go back to a reality where things always go on as they have (2 Peter 3:3-4), where you'll get dinner and go to work the next day and live life as you please.

But it won't ever really impart unto you the truly terrifying reality that the Eve of Destruction is indeed at hand.

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.
1 Peter 4:7

Spiritwatch Ministries seeks to ensure no man deceive you as to the time and the hour. So if you're not sure where you stand, you'd better get ready .. and remember the challenge of Jesus Christ to this big, rebellious, irreverent world:

Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Luke 18:8