Daily Archives: November 3, 2014

Listverse: 10 Secrets Behind Harry Houdini’s Greatest Illusions

There is an unwritten rule among magicians never to reveal how a trick is done. So when a 2004 exhibition explained Harry Houdini’s illusions, magicians around the world were apoplectic. David Copperfield called it a breach of magic protocol, and performers declared that they would boycott the exhibition. Many claimed to still use Houdini’s tricks themselves.

But Harry has been dead nearly 90 years. Despite their claims, few modern illusionists use his dated techniques. And the great magician’s secrets had been revealed decades earlier. He had been in his grave just three years when his team began spilling the beans.

This list is for those who want to know Houdini’s secrets. Those who don’t want to know should stop reading now.

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Most People Cannot Even Imagine That An Economic Collapse Is Coming

The idea that the United States is on the brink of a horrifying economic crash is absolutely inconceivable to most Americans. After all, the economy has been relatively stable for quite a few years and the stock market continues to surge to new heights. On Friday, the Dow and the S&P 500 both closed at brand new all-time record highs. For the year, the S&P 500 is now up 9 percent and the Nasdaq is now up close to 11 percent. And American consumers are getting ready to spend more than 600 billion dollars this Christmas season. That is an amount of money that is larger than the entire economy of Sweden. So how in the world can anyone be talking about economic collapse? Yes, many will concede, we had a few bumps in the road back in 2008 but things have pretty much gotten back to normal since then. Why be concerned about economic collapse when there is so much stability all around us? (Read More….)

10 Examples Of The Extreme Incompetence That Now Pervades The Federal Government

There has always been a substantial level of incompetence at federal agencies, but under the Obama administration incompetence has risen to unprecedented levels. This year the incompetence of the Secret Service, the Veterans Administration, the Department of Homeland Security and the CDC have all made national headlines. And it is hard to forget how the launch of Obamacare was such a failure that it became a global joke. We live at a time when our government officials can’t seem to do anything right. When Americans complain about the government, most of the time they focus on how corrupt and wicked our politicians have become, and that should not be downplayed whatsoever. But just replacing those politicians is not going to fix what ails our government. The quality of the workers throughout the government bureaucracy has fallen so dramatically that our federal agencies can no longer be depended upon to perform even the most basic governmental functions competently. The following are 10 examples of the extreme incompetence that now pervades the federal government… (Read More…)

US caving to Iranians on nuke deal, Israeli official warns

A deal between the US and Iran, or an extension of talks on that contentious issue of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, are both terrible options that would further destabilize the Middle East and allow the Islamic Republic to develop atomic weapons with relative ease, a senior Israeli official said Sunday.

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Trump: ‘Never a greater enemy to Israel than Obama’

‘It’s incredible the way he treats them, the way he’s speaking to them’

The small country of Israel is surrounded by nations that have called for its destruction, but they pale as a threat compared to President Obama, according to Donald Trump.

Appearing on “Justice with Judge Jeanine” on the Fox News Channel, Trump blasted the administration’s “concessions” to Iran and its relationship with the Jewish state.

“Probably, maybe from the beginning, there has never been a greater enemy to Israel than Barack Obama. It’s incredible the way he treats them, the way he’s speaking to them. I think he treats our known enemies much better.” said Trump.

View Stunning 5 minute video

Israel Watch: The Subversives

The other side has no such approach. They are relentless, vicious, and subversive. Brian McLaren, much more in tune with Eastern religion than any evangelicals he purports to move among, agreed with Palestinian propagandist Naim Ateek in claiming that Christian Zionists are a bigger threat to Palestinians than jihadists.

Not a peep from the American evangelical community. The grotesque and malicious charges laid at the feet of Christian Zionists, by those who have “crept in unawares” into the Church, are met with silence by leaders like Bill Hybels. He and his wife, Lynne, have been befriended by Palestinians since the ’70s…why? Because the Palestinians are smart and realize that the quickest way to finish-off pro Israel support in the American Church is to get friendly with the leadership.

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Challies: Walking the Paths He Has Ordained

Sometimes it is good to have a bit of assistance in praying. Prone to Wander is a wonderful new collection of prayers inspired by The Valley of Vision. Last week I shared a prayer from that book that called upon God to Help Us Pray. Today I want to share a second prayer that calls upon the triune God to help us see his purposes in our trials. Here it is:

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Rainer: Top Ten Ways Churches Drive Away First-time Guests

If you attend a church regularly, you’ve probably noticed the phenomenon. A guest shows up for a worship service, but he or she never returns. It is, unfortunately, a common issue in many churches.

I did a Twitter poll to ask these first-time guests why they chose not to return to a particular church. While some of the responses were anticipated, I admit being a bit surprised with some of them.

Though my poll is not scientific, it is nevertheless fascinating. Here are the top ten responses in order of frequency.

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GTY Blog: The Elephant in the Strange Fire

Code: B141103

by Cameron Buettel

It’s been just over a year since the highly publicized and controversial Strange Fire conference.

As a Grace to You employee with a charismatic background, I watched the buildup to the conference with a considerable amount of interest. I am certainly no stranger to the grievous damage caused by reckless false prophecies in the charismatic church. But since none of that spiritual fallout ever touched me personally, my animosity for the movement did not run deep. In fact, the major gripe I had with my old mainstream Pentecostal church was the same gripe I have with the church growth and emergent movements—a failure to rightly preach the gospel.

But as Strange Fire approached, I had the opportunity to study the charismatic movement with much closer scrutiny than before. In particular, I investigated several influential charismatic leaders, consuming an unhealthy amount of their videos and writing.

That investigation revealed a clear pattern that charismatics follow when engaged in debate. It’s almost a codified playbook of sorts for their self-defense (call it Foxe’s Book of Charismatics With Hurt Feelings), and it goes like this:

  • Dogged insistence that the gifts of prophesy, tongues, and healing continue to the present day.
  • Vague anecdotal evidence in support of the continuation of those gifts.
  • Unshakable confidence that the worst charismatic abusers and charlatans represent only the renegade fringe of the movement, and that they wield limited influence among mainstream charismatics.
  • Staunch refusal to name, criticize, or publically disavow those abusers and offenders at the supposed fringe of the movement.
  • Dire warnings that rejecting anyone who claims to speak on behalf of the Holy Spirit or wield His power is tantamount to rejecting the Spirit Himself.
  • Total disinterest in discussing or debating any doctrinal or ecclesiological issues other than continuationism versus cessationism.
  • Confident assertions about the explosive growth of the charismatic church worldwide, and blithe acceptance that everyone who claims to be a charismatic is an authentic believer.

For many charismatic apologists, their self-defense doesn’t even extend that far. For them, the debate begins and ends with continuationism, so that’s all they ever want to talk about. In fact, most of the responses to Strange Fire have amounted to little more than reviving certain authors’ greatest hits in defense of the continuation of the apostolic gifts.

What’s important about that is this: Strange Fire was not primarily or even significantly about cessationism. Yes, it’s true that one of the keynote sessions made a biblical case for the cessation of the apostolic gifts, while others defended cessationism as the historical position of the church. But it still constituted only one part of a broad response to the charismatic movement as a whole.

In fact, if continuationism was the only issue in the charismatic movement that John MacArthur and the other Strange Fire speakers were concerned about, there likely never would have been a conference or a book to begin with.

Instead, Strange Fire addressed the rampant abuse of the Holy Spirit, the perversion of Scripture, and the danger charismatic teaching and practice represent to hundreds of millions of people around the world. It covered an array of theological and doctrinal issues, and it raised several important questions that charismatics need to address.

And yet a year later, the responses to the conference continue to focus on defending the continuation of the gifts. It makes you wonder whether charismatic leaders are defiant or merely deaf.

So in the interest of advancing the conversation beyond the endless defense of continuationism, let us table that part of the discussion. If it helps, imagine that we’ve conceded that point of debate. (We haven’t, but that’s beside the point at the moment.) There still remains a whole raft of questions and issues that need to be addressed. Questions like:

  • Is there any statistical evidence that proves the so-called “lunatic fringe” of the charismatic world is not actually the mainstream of the movement? Compelling statistics were produced at Strange Fire that indicated the prevalence of prosperity theology in mainstream charismatic churches. Can those numbers be contradicted, or is it time to reconsider who is truly on the fringe?
  • What is the responsibility of charismatic leaders to police their own movement beyond the walls of their individual churches? Who will be willing unequivocally to call out heretics and charlatans? And why are so many charismatics comfortable with false teachers serving as the face of their movement?
  • What constitutes the true, biblical gospel? And what deviations from it qualify as apostasy and heresy? In particular, how do you make sense of the rise of charismatic expressions in the Catholic Church? Is it possible to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit while continuing to reject the biblical gospel?
  • Is Oneness Pentecostalism heresy? Or is perverting the doctrine of the Trinity not really such a big deal after all?
  • How are manufactured experiences—like seeding air conditioning vents with gold flakes and promoting man-made prophecies—helpful or encouraging for true spiritual growth? Why should the proliferation of phonies give anyone confidence that the real thing even exists?
  • Is the prosperity gospel biblical? If not, doesn’t it fall under the curse of Galatians 1:8–9?
  • When it comes to Scripture’s instructions and prohibitions for life in the church—for example, Paul’s clear teaching about female pastors, or his admonition for only one person at a time to speak in tongues—how seriously do we need to take those things today? Again, are these matters worth dividing over?
  • Does the gift of tongues as practiced in charismatic churches today bear any resemblance to the supernatural events on the Day of Pentecost, or any other expression of the gift of tongues found in the book of Acts? If not, why is the dramatic difference acceptable for continuationists?
  • If today’s prophets are not held to the biblical standard of one-hundred percent accuracy, what standard is there for people who make false prophecies? Or is modern prophecy nothing more than a crapshoot?
  • Finally, in the immediate aftermath of Strange Fire, Phil Johnson made an appearance on Dr. Michael Brown’s radio program. Phil issued Brown a challenge—which Brown accepted—to produce any audio of Mike Bickle or someone of similar influence in the charismatic movement making a clear presentation of the gospel. We’re still waiting for that audio.

We want to see someone—anyone—from the charismatic side take up those important issues. Until then, the persistent debate over cessationism and continuationism feels like little more than a deliberate diversion.

If the charismatic movement were truly as vibrant and Spirit-filled as charismatic apologists claim, John MacArthur would never have needed to host the Strange Fire conference or write the book. The issues he and the other speakers raised at Strange Fire should have been dealt with decades ago by charismatics who were faithful to the biblical gospel and recognized the need to address the many perversions that were gaining traction.

Our preference still is for those faithful believers within the movement—who hold fast to Scripture and love the truth—to step up and clean house. Consider these our suggestions about where they might want to start.


Available online at: http://www.gty.org/resources/Blog/B141103
COPYRIGHT ©2014 Grace to You

AFRAID TO COME TO GOD?

Samuel at Gilgal

Bishop J. C. RyleJ. C. Ryle:

Will you say that you are afraid to come to God? Your fear is needless. You shall not be cast out, if you will but come in the way of faith in Christ. Our God is not “austere man.” Our Father in heaven is full of mercy, love, and grace. I yield to none in desire to exalt the love, mercy, and tenderness of God the Father. I will not concede, for one moment, that what is called an Evangelical ministry will not magnify the mercy, love, and compassion of God the Father as much as any ministry on earth. We know that God is holy. We know He is just. We believe that He can be angry with them that go on still in sin. But we also believe that to those who draw near to Him in Christ Jesus, He is most merciful, most loving…

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Daily Special: Free audio and Logos deals

Christian Audio’s free audiobook of the month is The Attributes of God by A.W. Tozer. From Prussia with Love by Carol Purves is the free book of the month for Logos Bible Software. For 99¢, you can also get Clive Anderson’s Gunpowder, Treason and Plot. And finally on the Logos side of things, you can enter to win the 23-volume Day One Christian Biography collection, which includes titles such as 365 Days with Calvin, 365 Days with Wilberforce, A Reluctant Missionary, and 365 Days with Spurgeon (five volumes).

Barnabas Fund: Prayer Focus

 

The bedrock of Christianity is repentance

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 Now on the same occasion there were some present who reported to Him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus said to them, “ Do you suppose that these Galileans were greater sinners than all other Galileans because they suffered this fate? 3 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or do you suppose that those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them were worse culprits than all the men who live in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, no, but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:1-5 NASB)

Several years ago I became involved in discussion on an “emergent blog” that was proclaiming that it is perfectly fine for Christians to use profanity and those who call them on it are being hypocritical and self-righteous. I…

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