Daily Archives: January 31, 2014

The Unequal Distribution of Economic Freedom


At Forbes, Alejandro Chafuen surveys countries that have successfully raised lower incomes and argues that the main causes of income inequality are:

1. Corruption: Defined as those actions by government agents that sell what they do not have a right to sell, such as subsidies, preferential regulations and others, which disproportionally affects the poor.

2. Cronyism: This is similar to corruption but usually “legal.”

3. Regulatory barriers: This is in the form of high capital requirements, mountains of red tape, and exorbitant license fees, especially in the areas where the poor enter the market.

4. Government schools:  In “This Wonderful Tree,” James Tooley, of the E.G. West Centre, documents how in several nations the poor prefer to send their children to humble, but more efficient, private schools. Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, of the Becker Friedman Institute, argues that a big improvement in high school graduation rates would reduce inequality of earnings.

5. Monetary Policy: Ralph Benko, a Forbes.com contributor, recently wrote a column on inequality where he took as a given that major players in the banking sector were being unjustly enriched by the current monetary policy.

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Are Christian Required to Tithe?

Click Here to Download this episode

Program segments:

• Galatians and the Two Covenants
• Christians, Tithing & Malachi 3:7-12
• Sermon Review: The Questions That Have the Potential to Change Everything by Perry Noble

Resource: Are Christians Required to Tithe?

Source

Beware the bookseller pretending to be Christian

Well, the lines are now clearly drawn. Conservatives who have a biblical worldview are now part of the Resistance, I’d say.

Nowhere do we see this more clearly outlined than with what’s happening in Christian media/publishing. Christian book publishing continues to crumble. Witness, for example, the new-and-improved Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Back in the day, with its marketing angle that touted the company’s roots (the company began in Edinburgh, Scotland, in 1798), one got the feeling that its books were trustworthy.

Guess not.

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The White House is trying to impose a Mideast peace deal. Here’s what you need to know.

Joel C. Rosenberg's Blog

(Washington, D.C.) — A fascinating but dicey and possibly dangerous moment is rapidly approaching in the epicenter.

The Obama administration is about to tell the Israelis and Palestinians how to solve their problems. The White House is about to pressure both sides to agree “in principle” to an interim agreement, and then work on a final peace treaty. How the two sides will react is anyone’s bet. Could the dynamic actually lead to a peaceful resolution of an ancient conflict? Seems unlikely. Could it lead to a calm and quiet at least for a while? Sure, theoretically. But to be candid, it could also lead to political chaos, or even to renewed violence.

Let me explain as concisely as I can.

Within days, or at most a few weeks, Secretary of State John Kerry will present both sides with what he calls a “framework agreement.” Essentially, this is an American-crafted peace plan. Yes, it will be based on…

View original post 1,407 more words

Depression, Medication, and Biblical Counseling

 

I’ve collated my four posts related to Depression, Medication, and Biblical Counseling into a free two-dozen-page PDF that you can download here.

Also, if you would like to read the original posts, or send the links to others, you can find them below.

RPM Ministries: Equipping You to Change Lives with Christ’s Changeless Truth

Source

Biblically understanding the prosperity gospel

In a twitter conversation, a friend mentioned to me that the prosperity gospel is simply ancient pagan fertility religion (namely Ba’al worship) in a modern garb…which got me thinking.  In thinking about the Biblical classification of the Prosperity Gospel, I would have to suggest that it is a system of very old false religion, but not necessarily Ba’al worship.

Now, it’s fairly easy to see that the “gospel” of the prosperity gospel isn’t the biblical gospel, regardless of how some try to soft pedal it.  The “good news” isn’t the death/resurrection/ascension of Christ resulting in restoration with God, it’s the death/resurrection of Christ resulting in the restoration of your credit rating.  It’s also fairly easy to get the whole “Balaam” and materialism connection (2 Peter 2:15-16; Jude 1:11), and it’s easy to recognize that those who push the prosperity gospel are false teachers since those who use God as a means to get financial gain are, on the basis of that one characteristic, labelled “false teachers” in the New Testament (1 Tim. 6:3-10; 2 Peter 2:15-16; Jude 1:11).  Nobody gets into ministry to get rich, and those who do aren’t actually “in ministry”.

HowPastorsGetRich_main

Still, the materialism thing isn’t the only error.  I was thinking about something different…something less overtly pagan.

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Contentment, the Stealth Prosperity Gospel, and Spiritual Greed

The real devil in the details of the prosperity-type teaching permeating so much of evangelicalism is not really that it skips over the stuff about sin. Sure, it does that too, but the pernicious paradox of this stuff is that it champions “victorious Christian living” yet does not equip believers for sustainable discipleship. It emphasizes feelings and “outlook,” not the power of the Spirit, which is hard for some folks to notice since the latter is often conflated with the former (so that being optimistic or a go-getter is ipso facto being Spirit-empowered). The problem over time is that, going from victory to victory, expecting victory after victory, cultivates a contagious form of spiritual greed. (Is it any wonder that this sort of teaching often goes hand and hand with talk of financial riches and prosperity?) The real stuff of discipleship — what Eugene Peterson calls “a long obedience in the same direction” — involves hard stuff like discipline and the fruit of the Spirit. In pop discipleship discipline is replaced by steps, tips, and amazingsupercolossal breakthroughs.

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Without Love, I Am Nothing: A Word to Bible Students, Seminarians, Disciple-Makers

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” 1 Corinthians 13:1-2

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In light of 1 Corinthians 13, a word to Bible students, seminarians, and disciple-makers:

If I excel in seminary,
master the languages and ace every exam,
associate with notable faculty,
and abound in exegetical skills,
but have not love, I am nothing.

If I affirm biblical inerrancy,
refute the documentary hypothesis,
solve the synoptic problem,
and defeat damnable heresy with air-tight rationale,
but have not love, I am nothing.

If I acquire a biblical worldview,
equip an army of disciples,
champion Christian orthodoxy,
and confront a sin-ridden, God-hating culture,
but have not…

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Do Not Be Surprised… This ‘n’ That (31 January 2014)

  • Credo Magazine offers a tribute to Dr. S. Lewis Johnson.
  • ‘Debacle’ is such a good word. I use it often because, unfortunately, it aptly describes many of the headlines of our day, whether they be purely secular or involve professing Christians. Thus, I now present to you the Dinesh D’Souza Debacle, Part 2 (Part 1 happened here). Those of you who were shocked by this can now raise your hand. Anybody? Yeah, I didn’t think so.
  • Note to doves everywhere: Rome is not your friend.
  • I guess the Grammy’s had to do something to shake things up. It’s not like any of today’s singers have any talent.
  • And while we’re talking about award shows, this certainly is unfortunate.
  • Well, at least they consulted “child development experts.”
  • Oh, BioLogos. I can only shake my head at your functional denial of Scripture.
  • Here’s your weekly dose of adorable.
  • “The Bible doesn’t exist in order to make us feel good about ourselves.”
  • It seems like every morning when I login to Facebook, Paula White is declaring victory of the demonic strongholds of negative thoughts, or some such similar nonsense. Well, it sounds like Steven Furtick’s new book, written to help us “fight against the negative thoughts in our heads…that hold us back,” has taken a page out of the TBN-esque playbook of White and others like her.
  • An addendum to the mysterious story of Tyler Deaton, his now-deceased wife, Bethany, and the larger cult within which Deaton ran his own cult, IHOP.
  • Oh dear. And these are likely the same people who voted for him.
  • Some important thoughts on Ravi Zacharias’ recent appearance at the Mormon Tabernacle.
  • What is your church doing to cater to Super Bowl Sunday? (Yes, I rolled my eyes as I typed that.)

 

  • The pathology of false disciples:

 

Source

http://www.donotbesurprised.com/2014/01/this-n-that_31.html

Bible Summary / Survey: Book of 2 Kings

 

Author: The Book of 2 Kings does not name its author. The tradition is that the prophet Jeremiah was the author of both 1 and 2 Kings.

Date of Writing: The Book of 2 Kings, along with 1 Kings, was likely written between 560 and 540 B.C.

Purpose of Writing: The Book of 2 Kings is a sequel to the Book of 1 Kings. It continues the story of the kings over the divided kingdom (Israel and Judah.) The Book of 2 Kings concludes with the final overthrow and deportation of the people of Israel and Judah to Assyria and Babylon, respectively.

Key Verses: 2 Kings 17:7–8: “All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the LORD their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt. They worshiped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced.”

2 Kings 22:1a–2: “Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and walked in all the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.”

2 Kings 24:2: “The LORD sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against him. He sent them to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by his servants the prophets.”

2 Kings 8:19: “Nevertheless, for the sake of his servant David, the LORD was not willing to destroy Judah. He had promised to maintain a lamp for David and his descendants forever.”

Brief Summary: Second Kings depicts the downfall of the divided kingdom. Prophets continue to warn the people that the judgment of God is at hand, but they will not repent. The kingdom of Israel is repeatedly ruled by wicked kings, and even though a few of Judah’s kings are good, the majority of them lead the people away from worship of Jehovah. These few good rulers, along with Elisha and other prophets, cannot stop the nation’s decline. The Northern Kingdom of Israel is eventually destroyed by the Assyrians, and about 136 years later the Southern Kingdom of Judah is destroyed by the Babylonians.

There are three prominent themes present in the Book of 2 Kings. First, the Lord will judge His people when they disobey and turn their backs on Him. The Israelites’ unfaithfulness was reflected in the evil idolatry of the kings and resulted in God exercising His righteous wrath against their rebellion. Second, the word of the true prophets of God always comes to pass. Because the Lord always keeps His word, so too are the words of His prophets always true. Third, the Lord is faithful. He remembered His promise to David (2 Samuel 7:10–13), and, despite the disobedience of the people and the evil kings who ruled them, the Lord did not bring David’s family to an end.

Foreshadowings: Jesus uses the stories of the widow of Zarephath from 1 Kings and Naaman in 2 Kings to illustrate the great truth of God’s compassion toward those the Jews deemed unworthy of God’s grace—the poor, the weak, the oppressed, tax collectors, Samaritans, Gentiles. By citing the examples of a poor widow and a leper, Jesus showed Himself to be the Great Physician who heals and ministers to those in the greatest need of divine sovereign grace. This same truth was the basis of the mystery of the body of Christ, His Church, which would be drawn from all levels of society, male and female, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 3:1–6).

Many of the miracles of Elisha foreshadowed those of Jesus Himself. Elisha raised the Shunammite woman’s son (2 Kings 4:34–35), healed Naaman of leprosy (2 Kings 5:1–19), and multiplied loaves of bread to feed a hundred people with some left over (2 Kings 4:42–44).

Practical Application: God hates sin and He will not allow it to continue indefinitely. If we belong to Him, we can expect His discipline when we disobey Him. A loving Father corrects His children for their benefit and to prove that they indeed belong to Him. God may at times use unbelievers to bring correction to His people, and He gives us warning before delivering judgment. As Christians, we have His Word to guide us and warn us when we go astray from His path. Like the prophets of old, His Word is trustworthy and always speaks truth. God’s faithfulness to His people will never fail, even when we do.

The stories of the widow and the leper are examples for us in regard to the Body of Christ. Just a Elisha had pity on these from the lowest levels of society, we are to welcome all who belong to Christ into our churches. God is no “respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34) and neither should we be.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Cults and Religions: What Is Zoroastrianism?

 

Zoroastrianism is based on the teachings of Zoroaster, a 6th century Iranian prophet and philosopher. Zoroastrianism is almost identical with Mazdaism (the worship of Ahura Mazda, the supreme deity exalted by Zoroaster). Zoroastrianism survives today in isolated areas of the Middle East, primarily Iran, but more prosperously in India, where the descendants of Zoroastrian Persian immigrants are known as Parsis, or Parsees. In India the religion is called Parsiism. As with all false religions, Zoroastrianism is incompatible with Christianity.

For one thing, the claim that Zoroastrianism is perhaps the oldest monotheistic religion and that it had an influence on Judaism, Christianity, or Islam is simply not true. While Zoroastrianism is credited to having its origins in the 6th century BC, it only enters recorded history in the 5th century BC. This is in contrast to the Bible, where most historians and scholars put the writing of the Pentateuch (Genesis-Deuteronomy written by Moses) between 1446–1406 BC during Israel’s wanderings in the desert. This means the Old Testament pre-dates the Avesta (official religious text of Zoroastrianism) by close to 900 years.

While it is not surprising to see antagonists of Christianity on the internet and in books try to discredit Christianity by claiming the Zoroastrian influence on it, it is clear that the concept of one God and the need for a Savior was established much earlier by the Hebrew people. Even the prophet Isaiah spoke of the virgin birth of Christ and recorded it around 701 BC, which still precedes Zoroastrianism by 100 years.

Secondly, Zoroastrianism states that active participation in life through good thoughts, good words, and good deeds is necessary to ensure happiness and to keep chaos at bay. There are various religious rituals that must be observed and a variety of acts and deeds to be performed to ensure salvation. This is in stark contrast to Christianity which teaches that Christ is the only way to salvation (John 14:6) and that our salvation cannot be earned (Ephesians 2:8–9). This is the unique difference between Christianity and all false religions. In Christ, salvation is a free gift from God apart from works which save no one (Romans 3:20, 28). All other religions require works of some kind to appease God. Thankfully, our Bible is crystal clear on salvation, how to receive it, what is true, and what is not.

The prophet Zoroaster supposedly received what he recorded in the Avesta from a vision of Vohu Manah (moral enlightenment, possibly an angel of sorts) while drawing water from the Daiti river. Zoroaster is the sole author. This method of “enlightenment” is similar to the prophet Mohammed of Islam receiving a vision from the angel Gabriel, and passing it down for about three centuries by word of mouth before being recorded by scribes in the Qu’ran. Still, the source is only one man, and a person should question the accuracy of the recitations over a long period such as that.

Compare these “revelations” with Bible: 40 authors of 66 books over a span of 1600 years (55 generations), most of whom were not acquainted with one another, and who came from different backgrounds (judge, prophet, king, priest, shepherd, scribe, soldier, fisherman, physician), different locations (tents, palaces, dungeons, cities, deserts) and written under different circumstances in three different languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) who ALL convey the same common theme about God, and whose writings are accepted as the inerrant, true, and inspired word of God recorded through men (2 Timothy 3:16). The accuracy of the original texts has been verified over and over each time an ancient biblical manuscript has been discovered, the Dead Sea Scrolls being among the most recent.

It is abundantly clear that Zoroastrianism is yet another religion where salvation is works-based. There is no evidence of any divine influence in the religious writings, and it is clearly not impacting the world and changing lives today the way our relevant, living, all-powerful God is doing. The Bible, which could not possibly exist and claim the things it does unless it truly IS the inspired Word of God, has the power to change lives on a massive scale. From a Christian perspective, we hope and pray that the few who still do follow the teachings of Zoroaster would be exposed to the truth of Christ and realize that the salvation they seek to achieve by their good deeds is actually a free gift through Him.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the End Times: What Are the Strengths and Weaknesses of the Pretribulational View of the Rapture (Pretribulationism)?

 

In eschatology, it is important to remember that almost all Christians agree on these three things: 1) there is coming a time of great tribulation such as the world has never seen, 2) after the Tribulation, Christ will return to establish His kingdom on earth, and, 3) there will be a Rapture—a translation from mortality to immortality—for believers (John 14:1–3; 1 Corinthians 15:51–52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17). The question is when does the Rapture occur in relation to the Tribulation and the Second Coming of Christ?

Through the years three main theories have emerged concerning the timing of the Rapture: pretribulationism (the belief that the Rapture will occur before the Tribulation begins), midtribulationism (the belief that the Rapture will occur at the midpoint of the Tribulation), and posttribulationism (the belief that the Rapture will occur at the end of the Tribulation). This article deals specifically with the pretribulational view.

Pretribulationism teaches that the Rapture occurs before the Tribulation starts. At that time, the church will meet Christ in the air, and then sometime after that the Antichrist is revealed and the Tribulation begins. In other words, the Rapture and Christ’s Second Coming (to set up His kingdom) are separated by at least seven years. According to this view, the church does not experience any of the Tribulation.

Scripturally, the pretribulational view has much to commend it. For example, the church is not appointed to wrath (1 Thessalonians 1:9–10, 5:9), and believers will not be overtaken by the Day of the Lord (1 Thessalonians 5:1–9). The church of Philadelphia was promised to be kept from “the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world” (Revelation 3:10). Note that the promise is not preservation through the trial but deliverance from the hour, that is, from the time period of the trial.

Pretribulationism also finds support in what is not found in Scripture. The word “church” appears nineteen times in the first three chapters of Revelation, but, significantly, the word is not used again until chapter 22. In other words, in the entire lengthy description of the Tribulation in Revelation, the word church is noticeably absent. In fact, the Bible never uses the word “church” in a passage relating to the Tribulation.

Pretribulationism is the only theory which clearly maintains the distinction between Israel and the church and God’s separate plans for each. The seventy “sevens” of Daniel 9:24 are decreed upon Daniel’s people (the Jews) and Daniel’s holy city (Jerusalem). This prophecy makes it plain that the seventieth week (the Tribulation) is a time of purging and restoration for Israel and Jerusalem, not for the church.

Also, pretribulationism has historical support. From John 21:22–23, it would seem that the early church viewed Christ’s return as imminent, that He could return at any moment. Otherwise, the rumor would not have persisted that Jesus would return within John’s lifetime. Imminence, which is incompatible with the other two Rapture theories, is a key tenet of pretribulationism.

And the pretribulational view seems to be the most in keeping with God’s character and His desire to deliver the righteous from the judgment of the world. Biblical examples of God’s salvation include Noah, who was delivered from the worldwide flood; Lot, who was delivered from Sodom; and Rahab, who was delivered from Jericho (2 Peter 2:6–9).

One perceived weakness of pretribulationism is its relatively recent development as a church doctrine, not having been formulated in detail until the early 1800s. Another weakness is that pretribulationism splits the return of Jesus Christ into two “phases”—the Rapture and the Second Coming—whereas the Bible does not clearly delineate any such phases.

Another difficulty facing the pretribulational view is the fact that there will obviously be saints in the Tribulation (Revelation 13:7, 20:9). Pretribulationists answer this by distinguishing the saints of the Old Testament and the saints of the Tribulation from the church of the New Testament. Believers alive at the Rapture will be removed before the Tribulation, but there will be those who will come to Christ during the Tribulation.

And a final weakness of the pretribulational view is shared by the other two theories: namely, the Bible does not give an explicit time line concerning future events. Scripture does not expressly teach one view over another, and that is why we have diversity of opinion concerning the end times and some variety on how the related prophecies should be harmonized.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

11-Year-Old Girl BANNED From Selling Cupcakes By Control Freak Government Bureaucrats

America is being suffocated to death by red tape. You are about to read about an 11-year-old girl in Illinois that had her cupcake business brutally shut down by government bureaucrats. Her name is Chloe Stirling and her crime was doing something that we used to applaud young people in America for doing. Instead of sitting on her sofa and watching television all day, she actually started her own business. And it turned out there her little business started thriving. In fact, it started doing so well that a local newspaper took notice of it. Well, that is when the control freaks swooped in and took her business away and banned her from selling any more cupcakes. The really sad thing is that people are being paid to do this with our tax dollars. All over America, little entrepreneurs are having their lemonade stands shut down and are being banned from selling Girl Scout cookies, and our tax dollars are paying the people that are doing it. As I wrote about earlier this month, the level of economic freedom in the United States is at an all-time low, and it gets worse with each passing year. The country that so many of us love is dying, and it is being replaced with something that I like to call “the USSA”.

http://theeconomiccollapseblog.com/archives/11-year-old-girl-banned-from-selling-cupcakes-by-control-freak-government-bureaucrats

Genetically modified monkeys created with cut-and-paste DNA

Researchers have created genetically modified monkeys with a revolutionary new procedure that enables scientists to cut and paste DNA in living organisms. The macaques are the first primates to have their genetic makeup altered with the powerful technology which many scientists believe will lead to a new era of genetic medicine.

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jan/30/genetically-modified-monkeys-cut-and-paste-dna-alzheimers-parkinsons

The Era Of Genetically-Altered Humans Could Begin This Year

By the middle of 2014, the prospect of altering DNA to produce a genetically-modified human could move from science fiction to science reality. At some point between now and July, the UK parliament is likely to vote on whether a new form of in vitro fertilization (IVF)—involving DNA from three parents—becomes legally available to couples. If it passes, the law would be the first to allow pre-birth human-DNA modification, and another door to the future will open.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2014/01/26/the-era-of-genetically-altered-humans-could-begin-this-year/

Sex and Marriage: Christians Choosing Secular Over Scripture

The results are clear that majority of young Christians are open to pre-marital sex and cohabitation. Both of which are heavily discussed throughout the Bible and God gives very clear instructions on how he intends people to live their lives.

http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/2014/January31/315.html

Sorting Out the Message of the Moons

Anytime there is an eclipse of the moon or the sun it seems to stir up a lot of interest, sometimes almost as the time Hailey’s comet came in view from earth a few years ago. To me it looked like a smoky dust ball in our southeastern sky, hardly visible, even with binoculars. Then, it was gone in a few days, never to return in our lifetime.

But four total lunar eclipses in two years, projected by NASA are getting considerable attention among Bible prophecy adherents. There is much more to it in that regard, however, than just four lunar eclipses in two years. It’s their timing, visibility and repetitive appearances on certain days of the years. Here is a list of their salient characteristics:

http://www.raptureready.com/soap/lawley40.html

Media stunned by Christian Oscar swipe

George D. Escobar, who served as a producer, co-director and co-writer on the film “Alone Yet Not Alone,” said ultimately whether the song is considered for an Oscar won’t matter to most of those who will hear it.

“Joni Eareckson Tada’s performance was also heartfelt, personal, and resonant. This decision by the Academy, fraught with politics, will not take away their accomplishment and gift to untold generations,” he said. “People will be singing and be comforted by the song ‘Alone Yet Not Alone’ long after this incident. God’s love and faithfulness will continue to resound in this song,” he said.

http://www.wnd.com/2014/01/media-stunned-by-christian-oscar-swipe/