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.