Daily Archives: February 28, 2018

February 28 Acknowledging the Ultimate Source

“… joyously giving thanks to the Father” (Col. 1:11–12).

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Joyous thanksgiving acknowledges God as the giver of every good gift.

The inseparable link between joy and thanksgiving was a common theme for Paul. In Philippians 4:4–6 he says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!. … Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.” He told the Thessalonians to “rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thess. 5:16–18).

As often as Paul expressed thanks and encouraged others to express theirs, he was careful never to attribute to men the thanks due to God alone. For example, in Romans 1:8 he says, “I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, because your faith is being proclaimed throughout the whole world.” He thanked God, not the Roman believers, because he knew that faith is a gift from God.

That doesn’t mean you can’t thank others for the kindnesses they show, but in doing so you must understand that they are instruments of God’s grace.

Thanking Him shows humility and acknowledges His rightful place as the Sovereign Lord and the giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17). Those who reject His Lordship and refuse to give Him thanks incur His wrath (Rom. 1:21).

Only those who love Christ can truly give thanks because He is the channel through which thanks is expressed to the Father. As Paul says in Colossians 3:17, “And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Hebrews 13:15 adds, “Through [Christ] then let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name.”

As one who is privileged to know the God of all grace, be generous in your praise and thanksgiving today. See everything as a gift from His hand for your joy and edification.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Read aloud Psalm 136 as a prayer of praise to God.

For Further Study: From Psalm 136 list the things that prompted the psalmist’s thanksgiving. How can that psalm serve as a model for your own praise?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 71). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

When Google Met God: Billy Graham’s 1998 TED Talk

Billy Graham, a titan of evangelism and possibly the most well-known evangelical pastor of the 20th century, passed from this life to his reward last week.

While many will rightly mention his crusades, his relationships with many U.S. presidents, or his friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., most probably do not remember the surprising time Billy Graham lectured a group in Silicon Valley about the future, death, technology, and God.

It was 1998, and Graham was speaking at the annual TED Talk conference at Monterey, California. Why Richard Wurman, founder of the conference, had invited Graham is anyone’s guess. Some thought he was parading out a “clown preacher” to fulfill a quota on religious speakers. Whatever the case, Graham had accepted the invitation, and he stood before the young frontiersmen of the internet era.

“You can imagine how out of place I feel,” Graham opened. “I feel like a fish out of water.” Graham knew that his audience was probably either uninterested or outright hostile to his brand of Christianity. Rather than begin his talk by launching into a “call for a decision,” he disarmed his audience with self-deprecating humor and references to the great technological advances of the 20th century. He then pondered why technology wasn’t making us better people:

Have you ever thought about what a contradiction we are? On one hand, we can probe the deepest secrets of the universe and dramatically push back the frontiers of technology, as this conference vividly demonstrates. We’ve seen under the sea, three miles down, or galaxies hundreds of billions of years out in the future.

But on the other hand, something is wrong. Our battleships, our soldiers, are on a frontier now, almost ready to go to war with Iraq. Now, what causes this? Why do we have these wars in every generation, and in every part of the world? And revolutions?

We can’t get along with other people, even in our own families. We find ourselves in the paralyzing grip of self-destructive habits we can’t break. Racism and injustice and violence sweep our world, bringing a tragic harvest of heartache and death. Even the most sophisticated among us seem powerless to break this cycle. I would like to see Oracle take up that, or some other technological geniuses work on this. How do we change man so that he doesn’t lie and cheat and our newspapers are not filled with stories of fraud in business or labor or athletics or wherever?

By the end of his talk, he had given them an answer. Pointing to Pascal, Paul, and ultimately to Jesus Christ, Graham had outlined the solution to human sinfulness.

I don’t want to spoil the power of Graham’s argument, so I recommend that you watch the talk for yourself. Graham shows winsomely and convincingly, as he always did, how Jesus Christ was the answer to all of life’s problems. Hopefully this message, given 20 years before his death, will inspire you to go out and speak courageously from your own platform about “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

The post When Google Met God: Billy Graham’s 1998 TED Talk appeared first on LogosTalk.

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CBS Launches New Show Comedy ‘Living Biblically’ To Mock Christianity And Make Christians Look Like Idiots

It seems with every new television season a show that mocks Jesus Christ and the Christian faith gets a pilot.

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.” 2 Peter 3:3,4 (KJV)

On a regular basis, television studios in Hollywood release pilots that either glorify the Devil, as in the show Lucifer, or mock and belittle Christians and the Bible like we see in this new show, Living Biblically, just released by CBS on February 26, 2018. And of course, the “christian” in the show who goes on a quest to ‘live biblically’ is a New Age, ecumenical, embracing all religions mashup cartoon-like character who is hyper-judgmental and attempts to enact Old Testament justice.

What you do not see in this show, and will not see in this piece of trash, is salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins as the only way to Heaven. But if you read all the way through to the end, we will be happy to show that to you.

This season it is the CBS showLiving Biblically’ – a comedic take on the real life quest of a journalist to live his life “according to the Bible” for one year. From the preview scenes alone, it seems obvious that this show has no intention of representing the Bible accurately or bringing any actual serious discussion about the Christian faith. Instead it seeks cheap laughs and gags all the while mocking The Lord Jesus Christ and those who try their best to follow Him.

“Chip Curry is a modern day man at a crossroads in his life, who decides to live strictly in accordance with the Bible. A film critic for a New York Newspaper and a soon-to-be father, Chip wants to be a better man following the loss of his best friend. He decides to put his slightly obsessive temperament to use and start living his life 100% by the Bible to find direction. His smart, pregnant wife, Leslie, while both skeptical and entertained by her husband’s new passion, supports him completely. Knowing he’ll need some practical advice, Chip forms a “God Squad” with Father Gene, a Catholic Priest who helps Chip translate the rules of the Bible to a modern world; and Father Gene’s best friend, easygoing Rabbi Gil Ableman, who respects Chip’s chutzpah and is glad to serve as a sounding board when they meet at their local bar.

At Chip’s newspaper, he finds support from his no-nonsense boss, Ms. Meadows, who knows Chip’s self-penned story will sell newspapers, and his co-worker and friend, Vince, who is quick with a reality check and likes to wind Chip up for his own amusement. As he begins his sincere spiritual journey toward a more moral life with the help of his wife and friends, Chip wonders if he’ll be able to take a page – or every page – out of the Good Book, and if the effect will be of Biblical proportions.” (source).

From the preview clips alone, the show seems intent on turning the lead character Chip into a walking, breathing negative Christian stereotype. He is judgmental, hyper-critical and even violent, because “the Bible says so.” This attempt to highlight the view of the Old Testament revealing a God who is harsh, violent and lacking compassion is a common argument for critics of the Christian faith.  Living Biblically seeks to make this argument in a more subversive manner by having its lead act out these negative traits all in the name of seeking to live a righteous, holy “Biblical lifestyle.”

When Chip seeks counsel from a Roman Catholic priest and tells him of his plan, the priest laughs in his face – clearly mocking the fact that anyone would take the Bible literally.

“People need to start talking about religion again,” producer Patrick Walsh said. “I don’t buy the idea that we live in a ‘godless society.’ Eighty-four percent of the world aligns themselves with religion, and 9 out of 10 people believe in God, yet religion is never discussed because everyone is too scared to offend. In talking about it, you can erase so many misconceptions about it on either side.” source

Jesus Christ is the only way to Heaven and to have forgiveness of your sin debt, every other way is 100% wrong

The anti-Christian clowns in Hollywood will never, ever give you the truth about the Bible, salvation or Jesus Christ. But we here at NTEB exist to do just that. Want to know how to become born again, and have a home in Heaven? Here it is, share it with a friend.

“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.” Ephesians 2:8,9 (KJV)

Our sins have separated us from a righteous and holy God, but in His Mercy and love towards us He has made a way of escape for all those who seek it. I am talking to you, right here and right now. God has an AMAZING gift for you, it costs you nothing but it caused Him to shed every drop of blood He had so He could purchase it for you. What is it? It’s your salvation.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.” Romans 5: 8-10 (KJV)

There is a penalty for your sins – eternal torment in a place called Hell

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” Romans 6:23 (KJV)

“And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” Hebrews 9:27 (KJV)

Jesus Christ is God’s Provision for Your Sinful Condition.

“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” Romans 5:8 (KJV)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” John 3:16 (KJV)

You Can Be Saved–Right Now. Every Saturday afternoon we go out on the streets in the town where we live, and we preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Just today, a young man named John stopped to listen. We presented him with the exact same gospel that you are reading right now, and asked him if he knew he was a sinner. He was very honest, he said “yes, I do”. We told him that salvation is not a “magic bullet”, a “get out of jail free card”, or some “30 second prayer” someone gets you to pray. Salvation is a legally-binding transaction, as the Bible declares, when you the sinner take your sins to a sinless Saviour – Jesus Christ – and you trade your sins for His Righteousness.

Jesus Christ was crucified, died, was buried and rose again on the THIRD DAY according to the Scriptures. He did all that for YOU, to buy your pardon to SET YOU FREE. All you have to do is accept or reject that FREE GIFT. If you reject it, when you die, you will burn forever in a place called Hell. If you accept it, the Bible says the moment you die you will be with Christ in Heaven never to die again. Which one do YOU want?

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” Romans 10:9-10 (KJV)

Pray and ask the Lord, “Lord Jesus, be merciful to me a sinner, and save me. I now, with a repentant heart, receive you as my personal Saviour”.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” Romans 10:13 (KJV)

The post CBS Launches New Show Comedy ‘Living Biblically’ To Mock Christianity And Make Christians Look Like Idiots appeared first on Now The End Begins.

FEBRUARY 28 RATIONALISM: A DANGER IN TODAY’S CHRISTIANITY

Did not Moses give you the law, and yet none of you keepeth the law? Why go ye about to kill me?

JOHN 7:19

The theological battle line in our day is not necessarily between the fundamentalist and the liberal.

There is a difference between them, of course. The fundamentalist says, “God made the heaven and the earth.” The liberal says, “Well, that is a poetic way of stating it—but actually, it came up by evolution.”

The warfare, the dividing line today, is between evangelical rationalists and evangelical mystics. I will explain what I mean.

There is today an evangelical rationalism which is the same doctrine held by the Jewish religion in the day of Jesus. They said the truth is in the word, and if you want to know truth, go to the rabbi and learn the word. If you get the word, you have the truth.

That is also the view of evangelical rationalism in our day: “If you learn the text you’ve got the truth!”

This evangelical rationalism will kill the truth just as quickly as liberalism will, though in a more subtle way. The evangelical rationalist wears our uniform but he insists that the body of truth is all you need. Believe the body of truth and you are on your way to heaven and you cannot backslide and you will get a crown in the last day!

I believe the Bible is a living book, a revelation from God. But there must be illumination before revelation can get to your soul. It is not enough that I hold an inspired book in my hands—I must have an inspired heart. Truth has a soul as well as a body![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

February 28, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

The Briefing — Wednesday, February 28, 2018

1) Are boys broken? How a basic change in the moral air of American society has led to the systemic devaluation of life

Wall Street Journal (Peggy Noonan) –
The Parkland Massacre and the Air We Breathe

2) Symptoms of the subverted family present themselves on America’s college campuses

New York Times (David Brooks) –
A Generation Emerging From the Wreckage

3) Is there a morality to eating one animal rather than the other?

New York Times (Andrew Keh) –
An Olympic Challenge: Eat All the Korean Food That Visitors Won’t

USA Today (Martin Rogers) –
Inside the grim scene of a Korean dog meat farm, just miles from the Winter Olympics

4) Do dogs feel guilt? What the doctrine of creation tells us about our pets

New York Times (Kelly Whiteside) –
No, That’s Not a Mop. It’s a Puli.

The Atlantic (William Brennan) –
Your Dog Feels No Shame


News – 2/28/2018

Iran to host ‘Hourglass Festival’ to count down to Israel’s destruction
Themes of the festival include Israel, a cancerous tumor; Israel, a fake, racist and colonialist regime; and the Quds-occupier regime (Israel) and terrorism promotion. This coming April, Iran will host its first-ever International Hourglass Festival, dedicated exclusively to counting down to the “imminent collapse of the Zionist regime.”

Jerusalem embassy will bring war, warns grand mufti
A key Palestinian religious leader is warning that there will be war if the United States follows through on its announced plan to open an embassy in Jerusalem, which Washington now formally recognizes as Israel’s capital. The threat, according to Palestinian Media Watch, comes from Sheik Muhammad Hussein, the grand mufti of Jerusalem. Last week, the State Department announced the new U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem will open May 14, 2018, the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948.

Reputed MS-13 defendants laugh, smile as slain teen’s family glares
Three members of the notorious Salvadoran gang MS-13 showed no remorse as they laughed and joked while the family of one the Long Island high school teenage girls they are accused of killing grimly looked on. Enrique Portillo and brothers Alexi Saenz and Jairo Saenz laughed, smiled and joked with each other as prosecutors said they were waiting to hear from the U.S. Justice Department about whether they can pursue the death penalty.

U.S. finds China aluminum foil imports dumped, subsidized
The U.S. Commerce Department said on Tuesday it had made a final determination that imports of aluminum foil from China are being sold in the United States at less than their fair value and producers are benefiting from subsidies from Beijing.

Sweden to host donors’ conference for UNRWA
A donors’ conference will be held next month to help fill a funding gap at the UN agency for “Palestinian refugees” in the wake of the U.S. cutting its aid to the agency, Sweden’s deputy UN ambassador said Tuesday, according to AFP. The U.S. recently announced it would cut some of its funding to UNRWA, citing a need to undertake a fundamental re-examination of the organization, both in the way it operates and the way it is funded.

United States may help expand Saudi nuclear capability
The Trump administration is in talks with Saudi Arabia over a deal that would allow Riyadh to enrich and reprocess uranium domestically in exchange for the US building nuclear reactors there. The negotiations appear pressing, as the White House directed US Energy Secretary Rick Perry to cancel planned travel to India for talks in London with his Saudi counterpart.

U.N. report links North Korea to Syria’s chemical weapons program
North Korea has been shipping materials to the Syrian government that could be used for the production of chemical weapons, according to a secret UN report, the New York Times reported on Tuesday. The report, which was written by a panel of experts, stated that the supplies, which included acid-resistant tiles, valves and thermometers, were part of at least 40 previously unreported shipments to Syria between 2012 and 2017. Additionally, North Korean missile experts were spotted inside Syria, working at known chemical weapons and missile facilities.

Report: Images reveal new Iranian military base outside Damascus
New satellite images of an area near the Syrian capital of Damascus show a new permanent military base which may house missiles capable of striking Israel, Fox News reported Wednesday. The images of the base, some 12 kilometers northwest of Damascus, were taken by ImageSat International (ISI) and shared with Fox. They show two recently constructed hangars which are similar in appearance to Iranian bases in Syria.

How Russia is using Syria as a military ‘guinea pig’
Russia’s deputy defense minister claimed Thursday that Moscow has tested over 600 new weapons and other military equipment in Syria since intervening in the conflict in 2015. “The chance to test in real combat can’t be overestimated,” Yuri Borisov asserted, adding that “customers have started queuing up for the arms that have proven themselves in [battle].”

Iran to host ‘Hourglass Festival’ to count down to Israel’s destruction
This coming April, Iran will host its first-ever International Hourglass Festival, dedicated exclusively to counting down to the “imminent collapse of the Zionist regime.” At a press conference announcing the festival on Tuesday, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, the Secretary General of the International Conference on Supporting Palestinian Intifada, said that “the Islamic Republic won’t allow the Zionists to play with the security” of the Middle East.

Boris Johnson: Irish border row being exploited to stop Brexit
Boris Johnson has said the row over the border in Northern Ireland is being used to frustrate Brexit. The foreign secretary insisted there were “very good solutions” to avoid the need for a hard border. There is a stand-off on the issue with the EU publishing a legal draft of its Brexit withdrawal agreement.

Europe freezes as ‘Beast from the East’ arrives
Much of Europe has been blanketed in snow as cold weather spreads as far south as the Mediterranean coast. The cold spell, nicknamed “the Beast from the East” in the UK, is carrying freezing winds across the continent, and temperatures as low as -30C (-22F). At least 10 people have died since Monday, including many who were sleeping rough in cities.

N Korea ‘providing materials to Syria chemical weapons factories’
North Korea has been sending equipment to Syria that could be used to make chemical weapons, a UN report says. Some 40 previously unreported shipments were made between 2012 and 2017, the report found. Materials included acid-resistant tiles, valves and pipes. The report – yet to be released – said N Korean missile specialists had been seen at Syrian weapon-making centres.

Dow falls 299 points after Powell signals Fed will keep raising rates to contain inflation
U.S. stocks fell for the first time in four days Tuesday after comments from new Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell sent rates higher. The new chair signaled the central bank could hike rates more than three times this year in an effort to keep the economy from overheating, sparking anxiety among equity traders.

Russia Claims It Now Has Lasers To Shoot Satellites
Russian defense companies have created a plane-mounted laser that can hit satellites — at least according to an anonymous source quoted by Russian news agency Interfax. On Saturday, an Interfax report cited the source as saying that weapons maker Almaz-Antey has “completed work on the anti-satellite complex,” which includes the laser and associated ground control gear.

People in Sweden Now at Risk of Losing Access to Notes
People living in the world’s most cashless society may soon lose their access to notes and coins. To avoid that extreme scenario, Swedish cash-handling provider Loomis AB wants authorities to force banks and retailers to continue accepting cash. The warning follows similar calls from the Swedish central bank, which is worried that the rapid disappearance of cash will ultimately…undermine its task to promote a safe and efficient payment system.

Polish delegation heads to Israel for talks on Holocaust Law
A Polish delegation headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Bartosz Cichocki will arrive in Israel Wednesday to attempt to reach an understanding regarding the wording of the controversial Polish Holocaust Law which has sparked a diplomatic crisis between the two countries. The delegation will meet with a team headed by the Director-General of the Foreign Affairs Ministry Yuval Rotem on Thursday.

Oil to edge higher in 2018 as OPEC cuts help offset U.S. supply growth
Oil analysts expect the price of crude to rise steadily this year but remain in a tight band dictated by U.S. shale output growth on one side and OPEC supply restraint on the other, a Reuters poll showed on Wednesday. The survey of 37 economists and analysts forecast Brent crude LCOc1 would average $63 a barrel in 2018, slightly higher than $62.37 projected in the previous month’s poll.

Government now looking to hire pagan priests
Move over Christians, there’s now a demand for pagan priests to help Wiccans and Druids behind bars. The British government is now taking out advertisements looking for seven pagan chaplains to minister across the nation. The part-time job pays the equivalent of up to $40,000 per year.

DEEP Voice AI Can Scan Vocal Cords In Seconds Then Say Anything In Your Voice
Chinese AI titan Baidu announced earlier this month it’s new ‘Deep Voice AI’ was now capable of cloning voices of individuals just by a few seconds of hearing the persons vocal cords in action.

River flooding: Cities brace for more damage after deadly storms
A new storm is expected to bring additional weather misery this week to areas struggling to recover from a relentless series of weekend storms and tornadoes. On Tuesday, downpours and gusty thunderstorms will drench areas from central Texas to central Arkansas and southern Tennessee, AccuWeather said.

Breaking: Possible Chemical Attack, 11 People Treated for Nose Bleeds, Burning Sensations after Suspicious Letter Opened at VA Base
At least 11 people were treated for nose bleeds and burning sensations after a suspicious letter was opened at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington on Tuesday afternoon.

Group Sues PA Over Noncitizen Voters
A conservative legal group is suing Pennsylvania for records that could show thousands of noncitizen residents registered to vote over the last two decades.

United Nations Boss Unveils New Global Mass Migration Policy: ‘No More Borders’
United Nations Secretary General António Guterres has announced new plans for global mass migration in which countries will need to “welcome” foreign migrants.The UN’s new policy is designed to teach people how “migration can benefit the world,” by allowing immigrants to “take jobs” local workers “cannot fill.”

Obama to Skip Billy Graham Memorial Services
Former President Barack Obama is not planning to attend memorial services for the late evangelist Rev. Billy Graham this week.

Norway to Spend $12.7M Upgrading ‘Doomsday’ Seed Vault
Norway plans to spend $12.7 million upgrading its “doomsday” seed vault, which was built 10 years ago to protect the world’s crops and plants from being wiped out in the event of a natural or man-made disaster, such as nuclear war or global warming.

Obama Admin Official Who Helped Anti-Trump Dossier Author Was Exec at Lobbying Firm for Russians Who Bought Uranium One
Jonathan M. Winer, the Obama State Department official who acknowledged regularly interfacing with the author of the controversial, largely discredited 35-page anti-Trump dossier, served as senior vice president of a firm that did lobbying work for Tenex, the U.S. subsidiary of Rosatom, the Russian state corporation headquartered in Moscow.

The Vatican Teams Up With Vogue And Versace To Display Rare Papal Vestments Of Mystery, Babylon The Great
Yahoo News reports that the Vatican’s culture minister joined Donatella Versace and Vogue’s Anna Wintour on Monday to offer sneak peek of ‘gorgeous Vatican liturgical vestments, jeweled miters and historic papal tiaras’ that will star in a spring exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

New Chicago ID Card Created For Illegal Aliens Will Be Accepted For Voter Registration
Leftists normalizing the crime of voting by non-citizens

BREAKING: Ingraham=> Sheriff’s Dept Told Broward Deputies NOT to Enter School Unless Their Body Cameras Were On 
On Monday night, Fox News’ Laura Ingraham revealed sources told her the Sheriff’s Dept instructed the Broward Deputies NOT to enter the school unless their body cameras were on. WOW.

Mid-Day Snapshot

Feb. 28, 2018

Is ObamaCare on Its Last Legal Leg?

A new lawsuit highlights tax reform in an attempt to derail the health care law in its entirety.

The Foundation

“It will be of little avail to the people, that the laws are made by men of their own choice, if the laws … undergo such incessant changes that no man, who knows what the law is today, can guess what it will be tomorrow. Law is defined to be a rule of action; but how can that be a rule, which is little known, and less fixed?” —James Madison (1788)


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: February 28

  • Dick’s Raises Age for Gun Buyers, Won’t Sell Assault Weapons (Read More)
  • How Defective Guns Became the Only Product That Can’t Be Recalled (Read More)
  • The First Day of School After Florida Shooting (Read More)
  • NFL Partners With Pizza Hut After Split With Papa John’s (Read More)
  • Manafort Joined Trump as Ukraine Work Dried Up (Read More)
  • Summers Warns Next U.S. Recession Could Outlast Previous One (Read More)
  • GM Is Raking In the Cash (Read More)
  • Goldman Sachs, Adviser to the Elite, Wants to Be Your Local Bank (Read More)
  • U.S. regulators examine Wall Street’s Volcker rule wish list (Read More)
  • State Health Policies Show Stark Divide Along Party Lines (Read More)
  • In Syria, Foreign Powers’ Scramble for Influence Intensifies (Read More)
  • Mogul Is $13 Billion Richer After Leaving NYC for China (Read More)
  • China’s military flexes muscles for domestic objective: more funding (Read More)
  • Lowe’s Punished by Investors for Not Growing Like Home Depot (Read More)
  • Cyprus’s Anastasiades says no peace talks as natgas standoff persists (Read More)
  • Big Short’s Eisman Says U.S. Bank Outlook Is Best Since 1990s (Read More)
  • Forecasts for Oil Prices Rise for Fifth-Straight Month (Read More)
  • Musk’s Dream of Space-Based Internet Sent Others Crashing to Earth (Read More)
  • Bayer to win EU approval for $62.5 billion Monsanto deal (Read More)

Headlines – 2/28/2018

Jared Kushner said to lose top secret security clearance

Kushner’s security downgrade will hinder but not halt his Mideast peace role

Tillerson, Kelly Reportedly Frustrated With Jared Kushner Running U.S. Foreign Policy In the Middle East

Israeli officials discussed ways to manipulate ‘naive’ Kushner

Haley praises Honduras for backing embassy move to Jerusalem

US team said headed to Israel to coordinate consulate transformation

Entire US Senate calls for Israel to be added to expedited screening program to enable Israeli travelers to quickly enter country, in recognition of Jewish state’s 70th anniversary

Islam Respects Right of Jews to ‘Live in Dignity,’ Muslim World League Chief Muhammad al-Issa Declares

Church of the Holy Sepulchre reopens post Jerusalem tax spat

Ophel excavation director discusses biblical discoveries, Temple Mount

Paris woman’s brutal murder declared anti-Semitic act

Dutch groups cancel speeches by Palestinian ex-terrorist

Shin Bet foils ISIS-inspired attack on Temple Mount

Liberman: Security forces foil 20-30 terror attacks each week

Netanyahu: Zero tolerance for rockets – ‘they get hit immediately’

Senators call for an increase in military aid to Israel

Pro-Assad media accuses opposition of faking child injuries in Ghouta with forged video

N Korea ‘providing materials to Syria chemical weapons factories’

Satellite image said to show new Iranian military base in Syria

Sen. Lindsey Graham returns from Israel: We must ‘stop the Iran-Assad machine’

Fighting resumes in eastern Ghouta despite ‘humanitarian pause’

Syria conflict: Women ‘sexually exploited in return for aid’

Egypt aborts suicide attack in Sinai, 11 terrorists killed

After UN defeat, US and allies condemn Iran over Yemen arms

Trump’s tough talk nudges Europe into eyeing new Iran deal

Iranian minister accused of human rights abuse addresses UN rights body

Blacklisted Iranian Official Stirs Outrage at U.N. Human Rights Council

Why Saudi Arabia Is Suddenly Shaking Up Its Military

Saudi Crown Prince: Anti-corruption campaign was ‘shock therapy’ to kingdom

Saudi Arabia is building a $500 billion mega-city that’s 33 times the size of New York City

Afghanistan’s Ghani offers peace talks with Taliban ‘without condition’

U.S. envoy for North Korea to retire after Trump rejects unconditional talks

Obama Admin Official Who Helped Anti-Trump Dossier Author Was Exec at Lobbying Firm for Russians Who Bought Uranium One

Mueller is reportedly interested in Trump’s Russia business dealings before his presidential run

Judge sides with Trump on challenge to Mexico border wall

Oakland mayor helped criminal illegals escape, ICE chief says

Venezuelan Inmates Eating Rats and Pigeons to Avoid Starvation

Dow falls 299 points after Powell signals Fed will keep raising rates to contain inflation

Home prices surge 6.3% in December amid critical housing shortage

Gas Prices Are Heading Back Toward $3 a Gallon

Bill Gates Says Cryptocurrencies Have Caused Deaths

U.S. congressional Republicans reject new limits on guns

Suspicious mail triggers illness at Virginia military base

US government may have ability to access any iPhone

Moon to get first mobile phone network

Papua New Guinea: at least 16 dead after strongest ever earthquake hits

Papua New Guinea officials say whole villages flattened by deadly quake

6.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

5.9 magnitude earthquake hits West of Macquarie Island

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 11,000ft

Why New Zealand is releasing a rabbit-killing virus

Britain flooded with super-strength cannabis which could be driving mental health problems

Wash. State Bill Would Force Religious Employers to Pay for Drugs That Could Cause an Abortion

Trump is ‘most pro-life president in all of history,’ Pence tells religious broadcasters

‘Bachelor’ hopefuls routinely get rejected for having STDs, new book claims

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Actor Chris Pratt Faces Twitter Storm After Offering This Prayer Request

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 04:31 PM PST

Actor Chris Pratt Faces Twitter Storm After Offering This Prayer RequestThe war against prayer that ignited after politicians began calling for “thoughts and prayers” instead of “taking action” after the Florida school shooting has made its way into Hollywood. Actor Chris Pratt is receiving a massive backlash on Twitter for offering up prayers to a fellow Hollywood star, Director Kevin Smith, who suffered a heart attack on Sunday. Pratt, a Christian, took to Twitter when he got wind

of Smith’s circumstance after the director tweeted that he “could’ve died” from the 100 percent blockage in his heart had he not gone to the hospital. The “Guardians of the Galaxy” star was quick to voice his admiration for Smith tweeting, “I have loved you since Clerks,” and “You inspired me.” Pratt went on to say he would be praying for him. READ MORE

New Orleans secretly tests predictive policing technology

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 04:20 PM PST

New Orleans secretly tests predictive policing technologyIn May and June 2013, when New Orleans’ murder rate was the sixth-highest in the United States, the Orleans Parish district attorney handed down two landmark racketeering indictments against dozens of men accused of membership in two violent Central City drug trafficking gangs, 3NG and the 110ers. Members of both gangs stood accused of committing 25 murders as well as several attempted killings and armed robberies.  Subsequent investigations by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and local agencies produced further RICO indictments,

including that of a 22-year-old man named Evans “Easy” Lewis, a member of a gang called the 39ers who was accused of participating in a drug distribution ring and several murders.  According to Ronal Serpas, the department’s chief at the time, one of the tools used by the New Orleans Police Department to identify members of gangs like 3NG and the 39ers came from the Silicon Valley company Palantir. The company provided software to a secretive NOPD program that traced people’s ties to other gang members, outlined criminal histories, analyzed social media, and predicted the likelihood that individuals would commit violence or become a victim.  READ MORE

DEVELOPING: Marines Hospitalized After Suspicious Letter Opened At Base…

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 04:12 PM PST

DEVELOPING: Marines Hospitalized After Suspicious Letter Opened At Base…Two patients are currently being assessed following a hazmat incident at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall in Arlington Tuesday, according to Arlington County Fire officials. Fire officials report 11 people fell after coming in contact with a suspicious letter in the Consolidated Administration Building on-base.

Three people were transported to the hospital. Their condition is stable. CNN reports a corporal, gunnery sergeant and a colonel “exhibited symptoms of burning hands and face and one person had a nosebleed” when the letter was opened. READ MORE

Dutch Sheets Claims A Turnaround Is Coming That Will Save Billions of Souls

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 06:17 AM PST

Dutch Sheets Claims A Turnaround Is Coming That Will Save Billions of SoulsInternationally-known evangelist Dutch Sheets is bringing word to the nation’s capital that a turnaround is coming that will lead to a worldwide harvest of billions of souls.  “We are about to see the greatest influx of souls in history,” Sheets told CBN News in an exclusive interview. Just before the February 22-24 Turnaround Conference began at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, Sheets explained what’s led to such an audacious prediction.

He said his frequent ministry partner Chuck Pierce prophesied back in April, “10 months of turmoil before the breakthrough came. And then it’d be three years of a turnaround for America.” These last 10 months certainly have seen all sorts of turmoil — political upheaval, hurricanes, fires, floods and more. But Sheets said now’s the time for God’s people to push for the promised turnaround. “There’s another level of intercession, prophetic declaration, kingly intercession, making decrees for Him that is going to now launch us into what we’ve been asking for 25, 30 years: a Third Great Awakening in America, another great awakening around the world. READ MORE

California Could Become First State to Force Universities to Provide Abortion Pill

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 06:13 AM PST

California Could Become First State to Force Universities to Provide Abortion PillAbortion advocates estimate that more than 1,000 pregnant college students in California get an abortion every month. Still, they’re pushing for a new law to make having an abortion easier by requiring campus health centers to provide abortion pills. The state Senate has already approved the bill, known as SB320, and the Assembly is currently considering it. “I firmly believe that all students should be able to decide what to do with their own bodies and when to factor a family into their life,” said Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, the bill’s author.

“After all, women do not lose the constitutional right to end a pregnancy simply because they are a college student.” If the bill passes, California will become the first state to require that its campus health centers offer abortion pills. Currently, very few campus health centers across the country provide the pill. A 2015 survey by the American College Health Association (ACHA) found just two campuses that said they offer it. READ MORE

Deputies were told not to enter Florida High School

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 06:02 AM PST

Deputies were told not to enter Florida High SchoolFox News’ Laura Ingraham reported Monday that Broward Country deputies were told not to go into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School during the mass shooting earlier this month.  The alleged reason? They didn’t have any body cameras with them. “Now, our sources near the Broward County sheriff’s department are telling us that the deputies who arrived at the scene of the shooting were told

not to enter the school unless their body cameras were turned on, and then we found out that the deputies did not have body cameras so they did not enter the building or engage the shooter,” Ingraham said. “Curiously, police also lost radio communications during the parkland shooting. And our source claims that radio communication also went dead during the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting in 2017 that he also got a lot of criticism for.” FULL REPORT

Scriptural Ways to Keep the Devil From Sabotaging Your Mind

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 05:55 AM PST

Scriptural Ways to Keep the Devil From Sabotaging Your Mind(By Selenia Vera) Most of us can relate to this example: You’re doing just fine, heart content, emotions at peace; all in life is seemingly going well. When suddenly, someone says something, an experience or event takes place and in a moment, you feel your peace and joyful resolve leave you.  Before you know it, the warmth of God’s love and goodness seems to be blocked. It happens faster than you can blink. It’s a mystery—your thought life swept up in the seduction of self-talk, your body now paralyzed. You sigh, breathe deeply and welcome regret into your conversation. He whispers, You wish things had been different in your life, your relationships, experiences. You wish you had known better, done differently, everyone around you seems to have what you would like to have—in their relationships, life circumstances—emotionally, materially, spiritually, physically, intellectually, professionally.

They’ve won, and you have lost. You immediately muster up smiles, but no one notices. You cover up so no one suspects. You are silent, and no one relates. Locked away in loneliness, your heart aches. The happiness of others only seems to make your pain feel worse. Social media taunts you: “You are not enough, never will be.” Envy, jealousy, grief, anger—you feel hopeless. You coast along, muttering through emotions now flooded by the slow raindrops of failure. Self-pity, your familiar friend, wraps her arms around you and holds her spoon up, offering it as if it were ice cream. It’s icy alright, just one spoon will freeze you paralyzed. CONTINUE

 

‘Living Biblically’ Producer Says CBS Show Will Inspire People to Talk About Faith Again

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 05:48 AM PST

‘Living Biblically’ Producer Says CBS Show Will Inspire People to Talk About Faith AgainTo encourage Americans to “start talking about faith,” Hollywood producer Patrick Walsh made the largely unprecedented — and admittedly risky — decision to marry religion and comedy with his new show, “Living Biblically.”  “People need to start talking about religion again,” Walsh told The Christian Post in an exclusive interview. “I don’t buy the idea that we live in a ‘godless society.’ Eighty-four percent of the world aligns themselves with religion, and 9 out of 10 people believe in God, yet religion is never discussed because everyone is too scared to offend. In talking about it, you can erase so many misconceptions about it on either side.”

Airing on CBS Feb. 26, “Living Biblically” follows Chip Curry, a modern-day man at a crossroads in his life, who decides to live strictly in accordance with the Bible. A film critic for a New York newspaper and a soon-to-be father, Chip wants to be a better man following the loss of his best friend and decides to live his life 100 percent by the Bible to find direction. Seeking guidance, Chip forms a “God Squad” with Father Gene, a Catholic Priest who helps Chip translate the rules of the Bible to a modern world, and Father Gene’s best friend, easygoing Rabbi Gil Abelman. READ MORE

 

Superbugs set to kill more people than cancer

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 05:35 AM PST

Superbugs set to kill more people than cancerSuperbugs will kill more people than cancer without swift action to stop GPs doling out needless antibiotics, Jeremy Hunt has warned. It came as new research found at least one in five prescriptions by family doctors should never have been issued, fuelling antibiotic resistance. Health officials urged GPs to rein in prescribing of the drugs, amid warnings that routine hospital operations could become too dangerous if common medications become ineffective.

Leading family doctors said the findings were “extremely disappointing,” but said GPs should not be blamed for handing out so many needless drugs. The study by Public Health England (PHE) and Imperial College London found British doctors were twice as likely as those in the Netherlands to prescribe the drugs. Overuse of antibiotics fuels the rise of drug-resistant superbugs, which kill 5,000 a year in the UK. The medication only works against bacterial infections, when the vast majority of coughs, colds and sore throats are caused by viruses. READ MORE

 

South Carolina church vandalized with satanic messages, derogatory comments about Billy Graham

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 05:22 AM PST

South Carolina church vandalized with satanic messages, derogatory comments about Billy GrahamYet another church community in Greenville County went to Sunday service only to be welcomed by satanic messages spray-painted on to the church walls, some of it involving Billy Graham. The vandalism

discovered at Life Spring Community Church in Simpsonville on Sunday was one of four to occur in the County in less than a month. At this time, no suspects have been identified. READ MORE

Purdue University Tells Students to Stop Using Sexist ‘Man’ Words

Posted: 27 Feb 2018 05:17 AM PST

Purdue University Tells Students to Stop Using Sexist ‘Man’ WordsPurdue University is instructing its students to use “non-sexist” language in their writing assignments by making sure they don’t include words that have “man” in them — such as “congressman” or “mailman.” An updated handout produced by the Indiana public research institution’s Online Writing Lab tells students to avoid “using language that is stereotypical or biased in any way.”  Purdue University is

instructing its students to use “non-sexist” language in their writing assignments by making sure they don’t include words that have “man” in them — such as “congressman” or “mailman.” An updated handout produced by the Indiana public research institution’s Online Writing Lab tells students to avoid “using language that is stereotypical or biased in any way.” READ MORE


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70 Prompts for Adoring God

I worship you, my God, because of who you are:

  1. Eternal, immortal, and invisible, you alone are God (Psalm 90:1-2; 1 Timothy 1:17; Isaiah 45:5).
  2. You are Spirit (John 4:24).
  3. You are living (Joshua 3:10).
  4. You are one able to create ex nihilo, or out of nothing (Hebrews 11:3), in six days, and resting on the seventh (Genesis 1).
  5. You are independent of all creation, and have life in and of yourself (John 5:24).
  6. You are known to all (Romans 1:19-20).
  7. As self-existent Yahweh, you are self-revealing to your people (Exodus 3:14-15).
  8. You are omnipresent, or everywhere, always (Psalm 139:7-12).
  9. You are omniscient, knowing everything (Proverbs 15:3).
  10. You are omnipotent, or all-powerful (Matthew 19:26; Hebrews 1:3).
  11. You are omnisapient, or all-wise (Romans 16:27).
  12. You are sovereign (Ephesians 1:11, 20-21).
  13. You are one God in three Persons (Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 8:6).
  14. Each Person of the Trinity is fully and equally God; in appearance and outworking, the Father begets the Son (John 1:18), and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son (John 14:26; 16:7).
  15. Jesus Christ was preexistent before the incarnation (John 6:38; John 17:5).
  16. Jesus Christ humbled himself (Philippians 2:5-7).
  17. Jesus Christ became incarnate in the flesh (John 1:14), conceived by the Holy Spirit without a human father and born from a virgin (Matthew 1:18).
  18. Jesus Christ, with a human nature, experienced the weakness and growth that are a part of the human experience (Mark 2:15; 14:33; 15:34; Luke 2:40; 7:9).
  19. Jesus Christ was tempted and overcame (Luke 4:2); with a divine nature, he could not sin.
  20. Jesus Christ is God—the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15) and the one of whom deity is claimed (Luke 1:43; John 1:1; Matthew 22:44; Hebrews 1:10-12).
  21. Jesus Christ’s omnipotence is displayed through his miracles over nature (Matthew 8:26-27; Matthew 14:19; John 2:1-11).
  22. Jesus Christ’s eternality is known through self-revealing statements (John 8:58; Revelation 22:13).
  23. Jesus Christ’s omniscience is displayed through perceiving hidden thoughts (Mark 2:8; John 1:48), and in knowing all things as attested to by his disciples (John 16:30).
  24. Jesus Christ is omnipresent, as seen in his claim to be with the disciples always (Matthew 28:20).
  25. Jesus Christ is sovereign, as demonstrated in his authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:5-7).
  26. Jesus Christ is worthy to be worshipped and adored (Philippians 2:9-11; Revelation 5:12).
  27. Though not relinquishing any divine attributes, Jesus Christ gave up the outward appearance and radiance of his glory in order to complete the mission of the Father (Philippians 2:7), using his divine attributes only as necessary for his mission and ministry, out of submission to the Father.
  28. Jesus Christ is one Person without separation, including two natures without confusion—human and divine—in hypostatic union (Hebrews 1:3).
  29. The Person of the Holy Spirit has intellect, emotions, and will. With intelligence, he knows the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:10-11); with emotions he can be grieved (Ephesians 4:30), and according to his will, he distributes spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11).
  30. The Holy Spirit is deity with omniscience (1 Corinthians 1:11-12), omnipresence (Psalm 139:7), and involvement in creation (Psalm 104:30); blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is blasphemy against God (Matthew 12:31-32).
  31. Father, Son, and Spirit—one God—you are unity (Deuteronomy 6:4).
  32. You are Elohim, sovereign and transcendent over all the earth (Deuteronomy 2:30; 33; 3:22).
  33. As El-Shaddai, you are God Almighty, powerful and strong (Genesis 17:1).
  34. As El Elyon, you are God Most High who reigns supreme (Genesis 21:33).
  35. As El Olam, you are God Everlasting and changeless forever (Genesis 21:33).
  36. As Yahweh Jireh, you are “The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:14).
  37. As Yahweh Nissi, you are “The Lord Our Banner,” the victorious (Exodus 17:15).
  38. As Yahweh Shalom, you are “The Lord is Peace” (Judges 6:24).
  39. As Yahweh Sabbaoth, you are “The Lord of Hosts,” the commander (1 Samuel 1:3).
  40. As Yahweh Maccaddeshcem, you are “The Lord Thy Sanctifier” (Exodus 31:13).
  41. As Yahweh Tsidkenu, you are “The Lord Our Righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:6).
  42. The way you relate to your creation can be described by many images, like the image of Father (Matthew 6:26; 2 Corinthians 6:18; 1 John 3:1).
  43. The image of Mother (Isaiah 66:13; Isaiah 49:15; Matthew 23:37; Luke 13:34).
  44. The image of Husband (Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:19; Revelation 21:1-7).
  45. The image of Friend (John 15:12-15).
  46. The image of Shepherd (Psalm 23; John 10:11)
  47. The image of Teacher (Psalm 32:8; Isaiah 48:17).
  48. The image of Ruler (Psalm 103:19; 1 Timothy 6:15).
  49. The image of Judge (Isaiah 33:22; 2 Timothy 4:8).
  50. The image of Deliverer (Exodus 6:6; Matthew 1:21).
  51. And the image of Justifier (Romans 3:26).
  52. You are a preserver of all you have made (Nehemiah 9:6; Colossians 1:17).
  53. You are one who gives decrees that are all-encompassing, or inclusive of all creation (Ephesians 1:11).
  54. Your decrees are for your own glory (Psalm 19:1), and they are based upon your sovereign contentment (Daniel 4:35).
  55. Your decrees are best because they are based upon your infinite wisdom (Psalm 147:5; Psalm 104:24).
  56. You are morally pure and set apart (Leviticus 11:44-45).
  57. You are holy (Revelation 4:8).
  58. You hate sin and are angered by it (Joshua 7:1).
  59. You are perfectly wrathful (Romans 1:18; Nahum 1:2).
  60. You are compassionate (Psalm 103:13-14).
  61. You are patient (Romans 2:4).
  62. You are love (1 John 4:8, 16).
  63. You are good (Psalm 25:8).
  64. You are just (Genesis 18:25).
  65. You are righteous and gracious (Psalm 145:17).
  66. You are rich in mercy (Ephesians 2:4).
  67. You are immanent, near and active (Jeremiah 23:23-24; Acts 17:27-28).
  68. You are immutable, or unchangeable (Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17).
  69. You are true (Isaiah 65:16).
  70. You are the blessed and only King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15).

Help me to know you, to love you for who you are, and to value what you value, my God.

Amen.

[Photo Credit: Unsplash]

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GTY: The Goal of Life Is Personal Happiness

Ecclesiastes 2:1-17

Code: B180228

I just don’t believe God wants me to be so unhappy.

I’ll never forget those words. I had just asked a young man—a professing believer—why he thought it was acceptable for him to leave his wife for another woman. And his response was the tragic verbalization of a lie too many people believe—that the goal of life is personal happiness.

While most people don’t articulate it in exactly these terms, they live in a relentless pursuit of their own personal happiness. Theirs is a nonstop quest, because they’re effectively chasing rainbows—where satisfaction constantly beckons just beyond their reach. There’s always another dollar to gain and another pound to lose. There’s always a better car to drive, a nicer place to live, a bigger prize to win, and a more enticing romance to enjoy. For most people, happiness remains an elusive destination.

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

Even those who do possess the means to fulfill all their material desires and personal goals find the happiness of those achievements fleeting and hollow. That’s the nature of worldly happiness—it’s rooted in insatiable lusts and sinful pride. No matter what sinful man achieves and accumulates, his wretched heart only longs for more. For the unrepentant soul, there is no true satisfaction or lasting happiness.

Few people could speak more authoritatively on that subject than King Solomon, a man who indulged the pursuit of happiness in a way most people can only fantasize about.

I said to myself, “Come now, I will test you with pleasure. So enjoy yourself.” And behold, it too was futility. I said of laughter, “It is madness,” and of pleasure, “What does it accomplish?” I explored with my mind how to stimulate my body with wine while my mind was guiding me wisely, and how to take hold of folly, until I could see what good there is for the sons of men to do under heaven the few years of their lives. I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; . . . I possessed flocks and herds larger than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. Also, I collected for myself silver and gold and the treasure of kings and provinces. I provided for myself male and female singers and the pleasures of men—many concubines.

Then I became great and increased more than all who preceded me in Jerusalem. My wisdom also stood by me. All that my eyes desired I did not refuse them. I did not withhold my heart from any pleasure, for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun. . . .

Then I said to myself, “As is the fate of the fool, it will also befall me. Why then have I been extremely wise?” So I said to myself, “This too is vanity.” For there is no lasting remembrance of the wise man as with the fool, inasmuch as in the coming days all will be forgotten. And how the wise man and the fool alike die! So I hated life, for the work which had been done under the sun was grievous to me; because everything is futility and striving after wind. (Ecclesiastes 2:1–57–1115–17)

Solomon dripped with the world’s bounty yet it left him decidedly underwhelmed and despairing. But beneath his philosophical disappointment are great rewards for the thoughtful reader. His lament can potentially spare us from investing our efforts and wasting our lives climbing the wrong mountain. Solomon has already ascended the summit of worldly happiness and sent his report back to us at base camp: It was all “futility and striving after the wind”—an utterly pointless pursuit.

Yet Ecclesiastes closes by pointing us in the right direction when it comes to the true goal of life. Solomon calls us to embark on the only quest worth pursuing.

The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every work into judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13–14)

The Goal of Life Is God’s Glory

Giving glory to the One who will inevitably judge us is the only worthwhile pursuit in life. That very point undergirds the opening lines of the Westminster Catechism.

Question 1: What is the chief and highest end of man? Answer: Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever.

Why are we here? What is the meaning of life? What is the only goal in life worth pursuing? The great seventeenth-century theologians who formulated the Westminster Catechism began their treatise by answering all of those questions in fifteen words. Life is not about pleasing ourselves—we can’t, because our sinful appetites know no satisfaction. Instead, the goal of our lives should be glorifying our Creator.

That is the purpose for which we were created. And we’re confronted every day with the consequences of abandoning that calling, as the culture around us futilely pursues the sinful self-satisfaction it cannot attain.

True happiness is only possible when we lift our eyes off ourselves and pursue the glory of God. The resounding testimony of Scripture is that God is glorious and infinitely worthy of our steadfast devotion. As the psalmist Asaph wrote,

Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. For, behold, those who are far from You will perish; You have destroyed all those who are unfaithful to You. But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works. (Psalm 73:25–28)

The apostle Paul recognized God’s place as the glorious epicenter of the entire universe: “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever” (Romans 11:36). Our response, therefore, should be to glorify God through every facet of our lives. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). Commenting on that verse, John MacArthur reminds us that

God is to be glorified. His glory is to be our life commitment. It is the purpose of our whole life, which now belongs to the Lord because we have been “bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 7:23). Not only when we eat or drink but in whatever we do we should do all to the glory of God. [1]

Scripture offers us many practical ways in which we can glorify God. John MacArthur points to several examples: the confession of sin (Joshua 7:19), trusting God (Romans 4:20), bearing spiritual fruit in our lives (John 15:8), giving thanks (Psalm 50:23), suffering for Christ (1 Peter 4:14–16), contentedness (Philippians 4:10–20), praying (John 14:13), and preaching (2 Thessalonians 3:1). [2] Everything we do and say should be for the sake of bringing God glory.

The highest purpose any individual can have is to be totally absorbed in the person of God, and to view all of life through eyes filled with His wonder and glory. That is the perspective of the true worshiper, the one who truly glorifies God. [3]

The goal of life is not personal happiness. But we shouldn’t ignore the second part of the answer to question one in the Westminster Catechism: “Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy Him forever” (emphasis added). In other words, the only true and lasting joy we can know on this side of heaven is the byproduct of glorifying God. That is the only happiness worth pursuing and proclaiming.

 


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Tips and resources on using Social Media

The End Time

social-media-2636256_960_720 Photo Pixabay ,CC

Do you feel trapped by social media? Does it make you sad, or anxious? Do you waste time? Many people say yes to all of the above.

I like social media. I have an account at Pinterest, Twitter, 2 Facebook pages- (a theological page and a personal page), two blogs (one theological and one personal) and an Instagram. My personal blog is 11 years old, my theological blog is 9 years old. I have 4,325 essays at my theological blog.

I am also on GroupMe, a mass group text messaging service. LOL I obtained my very first cell phone last month, solely for the purposes of calling AAA when my car breaks down (and is always does) and to receive church messages. I have photo accounts at Flickr and Unsplash. My account at Flickr is 11 years old and I have 1,936 pictures there. Unsplash is…

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‘This Nation Is in a Mess’: Why Billy Graham’s Daughter Believes His Death Could ‘Shake the Church’

Anne Graham Lotz, daughter of famed evangelist Billy Graham, believes that her father’s death could help “shake the church” — something that she said is desperately needed in the modern era.

WATCH: Thousands Line the Streets to Pay Respects for Billy Graham

Lotz also revealed why she believes America is in such a “mess,” telling WRAL-TV that she believes the country and the church at large is missing the message of the gospel.

Some churches, she said, have stopped showing people how to pray and read the Bible and, in turn, aren’t bringing people into a relationship with Christ, as the Bible implores.

“That’s why this nation is in a mess. We’ve lost our focus. We’ve lost our message,” she said. “People go to church, but they’re not getting what they’re going for.”

Lotz also lamented the state of division, anger and polarization and concluded “Jesus is the answer.” As for Billy Graham’s life and legacy, she said that his life shows that it is entirely possible to cut across divides.

“Whether it’s a racial divide, a political divide, a social divide. People all across the spectrum love and honor Billy Graham. Why?” Lotz asked. “Because of his message and because he presented Jesus, and Jesus is the one who unifies us and brings us together.”

Watch her comments below:

https://www.wral.com/news/local/video/17375158/?version=embedded_v2&player_options=%257B%2522embedded_autoplay_next%2522%253Atrue%257D

Lotz believes her father’s death is an important reminder for the world to wake up and realize that tomorrow isn’t promised and that each individual has an important decision to make.

“You need to decide now where you’re going to spend eternity,” she said.

(H/T: WRAL-TV)

Source: ‘This Nation Is in a Mess’: Why Billy Graham’s Daughter Believes His Death Could ‘Shake the Church’

Judgement: The Doctrine Lost to the Modern Pulpit

In John Bunyan’s book The Pilgrim’s Progress, the story begins with Christian discovering news which causes him great alarm. Clothed in rags and with a burden upon his back, he is distressed to learn from a book he has been reading that the city he lives in is soon to be destroyed by fire from heaven. He tells his wife and children of their terrible danger. They must immediately try to escape.

But the response of his family is to think he has gone mad! As night is coming on they hasten to put him to bed in the hope that he might recover his senses by morning. However, the next day find him even more troubled. He wanders alone in the fields, sighing and reading from the book in his hands. Occasionally he is heard to cry out: ‘What must I do to be saved?’

In days of great spiritual darkness those called by God to preach the gospel have a sobering task. Our present world is still as Bunyan saw it. It is the City of Destruction. Mankind lies under the same certainty of coming judgement from heaven. Yet tragically, the clear note of warning in preaching has all but disappeared. The truths of final judgement and hell have long been omitted from most modern preaching. Hell has become the forgotten doctrine of the twentieth century.

False Philosophy

This change can be traced back to the late 18th and 19th centuries and the so-called ‘age of enlightenment’. Attacks upon the inspiration of Scripture sprang from claims that human reason was above the Word of God. The outcome of this view was that anything in Scripture which seemed unreasonable or unpalatable to man’s natural mind began to be disputed and rejected.

While the Church from the beginning had taught the certainty of hell and eternal punishment view which denied this teaching began to creep in. Annihilation, conditional immortality and universalism are all deviations which fly in the face of Scripture. As J. I. Packer has pointed out, each it a variation of the theme that either ‘God is too good to damn men’, or that ‘men are too good to be damned’. Such views have made deep inroads into the Church, causing the virtual disappearance of the doctrine of hell in preaching. This omission is far more damaging than most writers realize.

Fiery Preachers

General William Booth, founder of The Salvation Army, was most forthright in preaching the doctrine of hell. His sermons show how often he took up this theme and how lovingly he warned men and women to turn to the only Savior of mankind. Perhaps best known of all his sermons is ‘Who cares?’ (published in The War Cry of June 20, 1885) in which he graphically depicted his vision of a Rock in the midst of a raging sea where men, women and children were everywhere perishing.

Nearly twenty years later, when his life was nearly ended, Booth had not weakened in his preaching of this truth. In 1904 he urged his officers to:

Make people fell the truth as regards judgement, heaven and hell. All around you there is growing up a great peril of unbelief on these questions. You must fight it! … Men sleep on the verge of hell. You must fight to awaken them! You must startle them out of the fatal stupor in which they stand all unheeding on the brink of a burning hell!

Perhaps the most remarkable sermon on hell was preached by Jonathan Edwards at Enfield, North America, in 1741. The sermon was called ‘Sinner in the Hands of an Angry God’ and was based on the text: ‘Their foot shall slip in due time’ (Deut. 32:35). Using most dramatic language, Edwards pictured natural man held by life’s thin thread over the pit of hell. Although many have criticized Edwards for what they consider to be ‘exaggerated descriptions of hell’, his motivation was correct. Edwards recognized the eternal issues at stake. He concluded his sermon by saying:

This is an awful subject! May it be blessed for the awakening of unconverted souls to the conviction of their danger!… Let everyone who is out of Christ now awaken and flee from the wrath to come! The wrath of God is now undoubtedly hanging over this nation, or even over many in church congregations. Heed the angel’s message to Lot in Sodom:’Escape for your life! Do not look behind you. Escape to the mountains, lest you be destroyed.

Bunyan would have approved. Indeed, the one whose approval counts above all others was himself the most awesome preacher of this doctrine. The terrible warnings of hell given by Jesus in the gospels must be forgotten.

In this ‘enlightened age’, all who preach God’s Word are under pressure to adopt wrong attitudes towards the doctrine of final retribution. The fact that this doctrine is so rarely mentioned gives hearers the impression that hell is nothing more than a curious idea from earlier centuries now made irrelevant by modern sophistication. To most preachers, hell has become a subject of embarrassment rather than a terrible and certain reality.

This has led to the doctrine of hell being isolated from all other doctrines. Failure to recognize that Christian doctrine must be viewed as a complete and integrated unit, rather than individual, loosely-related truths, always has a debilitating effect upon preaching. Not to preach and teach the awful reality of hell progressively weakens the doctrines of sin, law, judgement, the wrath of God, and the atoning blood of Christ. Indeed, even the character of God is impugned. Does God not mean what he says?

When the doctrine of hell is omitted, it follows that the terms ‘saved’ and ‘salvation’ become meaningless. This is why modern man neither sees nor feels the slightest need to come to Christ. And why should he? He feels no danger. What has he to fear? Certainly nothing from the ‘God of love’ so blandly promised by many today. Hearers are too easily assured. Many now preach as if all in congregations are assumed to be saved, and emphasis has swung away from need for the powerful inner work of regeneration by God’s Spirit alone to calls for ‘re-dedication’.

On one occasion when George Whitefield was in America, he sat under the thorough preaching of Gilbert Tennant. Whitefield later said: ‘I never before heard such a searching sermon. Hypocrites must soon be converted or enraged at his preaching! I fear I have brought comfort too soon!’

All this is a far cry from much evangelism today. Nowadays the typical example of ‘a successful growing Community church’ boasts of worship styles described as ‘fun!’ Because the goal is numbers, those who attend must always leave feeling good about themselves. This requires that ‘negative words and concepts’, such as law, wrath, judgement and hell must be studiously avoided in the rush for success.

Not surprisingly, modern-day conversions too often lack evidence of deep heart-conviction or mourning over sin. Many now vaguely speak of being ‘saved from their sins’ or even of ‘what Jesus has added to their lifestyle’. Most have no consciousness at all of having been saved from judgement and the awesome finality of eternal hell. It never seems to enter their head. And little wonder, for who has bothered to tell them? If the doctrine of hell is no longer part of the gospel, then surely we must question what the term ‘salvation’ means.

Should God graciously permit true revival to come again in these last days there is one characteristic we may expect to find. It is that men, women and children will all receive a deep sense of the awe and greatness of God. In revival, men realize how dreadful is the nature of sin and how righteous is God. In revival, men begin to see how terrible it is to be eternally lost and how certain is divine judgement. A study of revivals show that ‘the fear of God’ is always present. That there is so little fear and awe of God in the churches today is sobering evidence against the claims of some who seem to confuse revival with noise and numbers.

Entertained by Violence

We should also recognize that our present world has de-sensitized itself against the terrors of hell by creating horrors of its own, both real and in the name of entertainment. Death and violence are shown on television and in films in such horrific ways as to become unreal, particularly to the young. Terrors must become even more shocking to have any impact at all. Those who live in the twentieth century are tending to become increasingly more blase and fearless towards all authority, law and order. In turn this breeds attitudes toward God of either total apathy or open rebellion.

This is not to suggest that we should ‘play the world at its own game’ and try to shock by drawing lurid word-pictures of what we may conceive hell to be like. Nothing less than the powerful conviction of the Holy Spirit working through faithful preaching of his Word will shake men from their present false sense of security. Our preaching needs to regain a proper balance between God’s law, judgement and eternal retribution for sin with the loving offer of God’s gracious pardon through Jesus Christ to hell deserving sinners.

Just as the joys of heaven are quite beyond our present imagination, so hell must be infinitely worse then our minds can grasp. The images of fire, darkness, chains, separation from God, are all suggestive of terrible prospects. Who among us can begin to fathom what an eternity of conscious remorse for sin and refusing Christ must mean? Truly Jesus says: ‘There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matt. 13.50). He warns, ‘ What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ (Mark 8:37). In hell there is simply no respite. The occasional ‘glimpses’ we may catch of it are enough to convince us that this is a place of utter despair.

Thomas Boston, the 18th century Scottish divine, deals movingly with the awful tragedy of those who are still unregenerate, spiritually blind and hell-bent. In his book Human Nature in its Four-Fold State he writes:

If you knew your case, you would cry out: ‘Oh! darkness! darkness! darkness! The face covering is upon you already as condemned persons, so near are you to everlasting darkness. It is only Jesus Christ who can stop the execution, pull the napkin off the face of the condemned malefactor, and put a pardon in his hand.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne felt the urgency of this doctrine. On  one occasion when journeying on his pony he took shelter from the rain in an engine house of a quarry. He simply pointed to the fire of the furnace, and said: What does that remind you of?’ Some time later the man who had been tending the furnace came and told M’Cheyne how God had used that ‘word in season’ to his own salvation.

M’Cheyne would often visit dying parishioners on Saturday afternoons. He said that before preaching he ‘liked to look over the verge!’ He was like Richard Baxter of Kidderminster of whom it was said that ‘he preached as a dying man to dying men’. We need this urgency in preaching today!

A Message for Us Today

Yet what immense difficulties we confront. How may we preach this terrible truth to men? For a start, does the world we live in not seem remote from all this? Do not so many people around us today live in nice homes, wear fashionable clothes, hold educational qualifications and enjoy respectable positions in life? We may more easily envisage heaven. Are we therefore fools to feel concerned that hell is real and judgement will come?

We must remember that Jesus said: ‘As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away’ (Matt. 24:37-39). It is only faith that sees beyond this present world and only faith in God’s Word that holds us in the knowledge that these things are irresistibly certain and will come to pass in the end.

Of all truths we must first preach this to our own hearts. We need to feel and see the utter tragedy of countless multitudes who rush blindly on to perdition. Never will we preach it unless we first believe it ourselves.

But believe it we must, and preach it we must! Not as ranters, but earnestly, lovingly, persuasively, calling young and old alike to escape from God’s righteous anger against sin and to flee to Christ whose blood was spilled to save all who in faith will call upon his name. We must study how we may restore this note of warning into our regular evangelical preaching and to correct the distortion and imbalance brought upon the preaching of the gospel over this past century.

John Bunyan is still true to life in our day and age when he has the family and neighbors of Pilgrim mock his warnings to escape from the City of Destruction. ‘He is mad! Put him to bed’ is the only response they can make. We are likely to receive similar ridicule from many quarters today if we speak of hell.

Yet we should remember that we stand in the best of company — alongside Enoch and Noah, John the Baptist, the apostles — yes, and even in company with our Lord himself. May God raise up faithful preachers of his Word who will courageously and graciously declare this difficult but necessary truth to a careless, dying world.


This article first appeared in the January 1994 edition of the Banner of Truth Magazine.

 

The post Judgement: The Doctrine Lost to the Modern Pulpit appeared first on Banner of Truth USA.

Can the Bible and Transgender both be True?

Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America

In the book of Deuteronomy, it says, “A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD your God.” (Deut. 22:5) But we’re being told some people are born the wrong sex. Does God make mistakes? What’s the truth? 

Truth is under attack. In this fast-paced information age of mass communication, technological advancements, scientific discoveries, and breaking news, people seem less informed, less secure, more distracted, and more confused than ever before. Why? They have rejected the one true God.

Jesus prayed for His followers:

 “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” John 17:17

Revelation 1:8 states,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”

This covers present, past, and future. It’s interesting that according to…

View original post 786 more words

My Protestant Oscar Predictions

(Carl Trueman – First Things) “The red carpet will provide us with a parade of beautiful people. That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another: It will provide us with an endless stream of people who have cheated on spouses, betrayed friends, broken marriage vows, wrecked homes, had abortions.”

I make a point of never watching the Oscars. If I want to waste four hours of my life being alternately patronized and reminded what an abject failure I am according to the criteria contemporary society holds dear, I can always read The New Yorker. But I am sufficiently aware of what goes on at the Oscars to venture a few predictions.

First, I predict that the usual suspects will be there, signaling their virtues and taking heroic stands against wickedness, although #MeToo will have replaced the more traditional #JusticeForRoman.

Second, I predict that the acceptance speeches will be full of the kind of deep political and philosophical analysis which has become de rigueur for those with credentials: the ability to memorize a few lines and pretend to be someone else in front of a camera. Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that I could randomly knock on any door in my neighborhood and find a more intelligent commentary on current events than I would hear from a denizen of Tinseltown. But few of my neighbors are photogenic, so they have nothing of real value to contribute to our political culture.

That brings me to my third prediction: We will once again witness the triumph of aesthetics over ethics, or rather that identification of aesthetics with ethics which is now the default position of Western society.

Think about it: The red carpet will provide us with a parade of beautiful people. That’s one way of looking at it. Here’s another: It will provide us with an endless stream of people who have cheated on spouses, betrayed friends, broken marriage vows, wrecked homes, had abortions. Those who have been exposed as sexual abusers may be less in evidence this year. But other than that, the usual carnival of corruption will be on full display. And it will be attractive, because it is physically beautiful.

In America, for many generations now, beauty has covered a multitude of sins. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that beauty has turned a multitude of sins into an aspirational lifestyle. Of course, most Oscars viewers have about as much chance of attaining that lifestyle as of winning the New Jersey Lottery. Promiscuity can be indulged with relative impunity by the rich and famous, but it is utterly destructive for the poor. If, as Dr. Johnson said, lotteries are taxes on the gullible, then Hollywood sells a lifestyle whose mortgage is paid by the most vulnerable. View article →

Source: My Protestant Oscar Predictions

Herescope: Another God, Another Jesus

GOD CALLING GIVES BIRTH TO JESUS CALLING

“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.”

(1 Corinthians 11:4)
A Report by Barbara Wilhelm

Part 1

I am aware that a great many people have found comfort from the publishing empire of books under the heading of Jesus Calling: Jesus Calling for Little Ones, Jesus Calling Bible for Children, Enjoying Peace in His Presence, Trusting in Christ, etc. In fact, there are well over 350 items listed in the online Christian bookstore site cbd.com under Jesus Calling. Obviously, many are so enthralled with this book that they have incorporated it into various aspects of their lives. Some of them are close friends of mine who have tender hearts, who love the Lord and who have read the books because they have desired a more intimate relationship with Him. I know that this report will, therefore, be difficult for them to read. Please know that it is written in love and deep concern for those who have read it. It took a very long time to write it as I struggled to write the truth in love. It also has taken a very long time to put this report in print. In actuality, this report started almost 20 years ago with a book called God Calling.

If you wonder what God Calling has in common with Jesus Calling, you need only ask Sarah Young herself. In a recent interview Sarah Young, author of the best-seller Jesus Calling, was asked the motivation for her initial dialoguing with God:

Question: How did you learn to “dialogue” with God?
My journey began with a devotional book (God Calling) written in the 1930’s by two women who practiced waiting in God’s Presence, writing the messages they received as they “listened.” About a year after I started reading this book, I began to wonder if I too could receive messages during my times of communing with God…. I knew that God communicates through the Bible (and I treasure His Word), but I wondered what He might say to me personally on a given day. So I decided to “listen” to God with pen in hand, writing down whatever I sensed He was saying. Of course, I wasn’t listening for an audible voice; I was seeking the “still, small voice” of God in my mind/heart. [Emphasis mine]

Question: How awkward was it initially to begin a “dialogue” with God?

It felt a little awkward the first time I tried it, but I did receive a short message. The content was biblical, and it addressed themes that were current in my life: trust, fear, and closeness to God. [Source: http://www.cbn.com/entertainment/books/JesusCallingQA.aspx]

LINK BETWEEN JESUS CALLING AND GOD CALLING
According to Sarah Young, God Calling was the motivating force behind Jesus Calling. For that reason this part of the research paper centers on the problems with God Calling. However, the research goes back even further to the root of God Calling and the leaders of the Buchman Group and the Oxford Group, Frank Buchman and A.J. Russell. Since this information is not of a nature that is normally discussed out in the open when the topic of Jesus Calling/God Calling is spoken of, it may be surprising to the reader. If you will bear with me, all this will come together at the end.

Researcher Marcia Montenegro described how Rev. Geoffrey Allen, a minister at Oxford University who became a leader in the Buchman Group, discussed the topic of “Godly” guidance:

The daily devotions in God Calling, written as though God/Jesus is speaking, came about in 1932 when two anonymous women decided to sit down with pencils and paper and wait to receive words from God. The claim is made in the Foreword by editor A. J. Russell that these two women received messages “from the Living Christ Himself.”

Andrew James Russell, editor of God Calling, had become a follower of Dr. Frank Buchman, who founded the Oxford Group, first started under another name in 1921, but taking the name of Oxford Group in 1931. Meeting in groups, this movement emphasized fellowship and receiving direct guidance from God.

Russell writes that “I learned that it was a practice of the Group to keep a guidance-book and record in it those thoughts which came in periods of quiet listening to God.”

Although Russell writes that criteria were used to measure this “guidance,” some of the criteria were quite subjective. Continually seeking guidance in this fashion, which is no different from automatic writing, is opening the door to false doctrine. [Source: https://ses.edu/jesus-calling-by-sarah-young-a-false-jesus. See also: http://www.christiananswersforthenewage.org/Articles_JesusCalling.html]

I am fully aware how shocking it is to read that statement. It was equally shocking to me. Yet the more I researched, as you will see below, the more information I found that confirmed these facts.

Ed. Note: Automatic writing is an occult practice done by sitting still with a pen or pencil and paper (or at a typewriter or computer) and waiting to hear a message or voice originating from a source beyond the five senses. A friend attempted to practice this when she was in the New Age. This is how channeled books are written. “Automatic writing or psychography is an alleged psychic ability allowing a person to produce written words without consciously writing. The words are claimed to arise from a subconscious, spiritual or supernatural source.” [See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_writing. Also see http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/11/another-jesus-calling.html]

[Source]

PRACTICES AND HISTORY OF THOSE ASSOCIATED WITH GOD CALLING 
These questionable practices caused me to dig even deeper into the members of the Buchman Group and its connection to the two “listeners” of God Calling fame. I found a report in the CRI Journal that stated:

[A. J.] Russell, his book, For Sinners Only and his form of “guidance” are significant here. Louis Talbot stated that one “must examine writers such as A.J. Russell” and his book For Sinners Only to understand the Oxford Group….

In the January 1962 edition of The King’s Business, Talbot wrote of the book:

When Russell’s For Sinners Only was first published, it was denounced by churchmen as “deplorable” and “dangerous,” but to me the worst thing about it was that it was not clear on the way of salvation…. The atonement was scarcely mentioned (p. 14).

The Oxford Group also practiced the guidance method advocated by Russell and used by the Listeners. When William Irvine surveyed the opinions of other evangelical leaders on this method, he found them in one accord in their warnings against it (Heresies Exposed, third edition, p. 49). What was their concern? Pastor Harold T. Commins, who had been a former member of the Oxford Group, gave one response:

Finally, their idea of “guidance” is false to the Scriptures…. Sitting down with paper and pencil in hand and letting the mind go absolutely blank and then writing down whatever flashes across the mind as God’s orders for the day is beyond anything promised or sanctioned in Scripture. Indeed this “passivity” of mind is a very perilous condition to be in for it is precisely at such moments that Satan gains control and does his devilish work (pp. 50.51).” [Source: https://www.iclnet.org/pub/resources/text/cri/cri-jrnl/web/crj0021a.html]

[A partial listing of A.J. Russell books from HERE]

This “guidance” is noted by another discernment author, who also connects this writing to the practice of a medium:

God Calling was supposedly written by two women who remain anonymous. They sat silently with pencils in hand and waited to get “guidance” such as Russell reported in his book For Sinners Only. In the preface of God Calling one of the “Listeners” tells how she was “curiously affected” by Russell’s book. A growing and persistent desire to get similar guidance led her to arrange a quiet time with the friend with whom she was living. Whenever the woman tried to get guidance by herself, her efforts failed; but not so with her friend. She never received “guidance” unless the two were together, and then the messages were always communicated through the friend. Since Russell informs us that “not one woman but two have written this book,” it appears “that the friend must have acted as a medium.” [Florence Bulle, God Wants You Rich and Other Enticing Doctrines, p. 130]

To bring this full circle, A.J. Russell was not only the author of For Sinners Only, the book that inspired the “Two Listeners” who wrote God Calling, but he was also the editor and publisher of God Calling, which went on to become the inspiration for Jesus Calling.

MEDIUMS 
Note the word “medium” in the above description by Bulle. What exactly are mediums? And how does the Bible view them?

A medium is, literally, an “intermediary” between the spirit world and ours. The Bible condemns the practice of mediumship, and attempting to speak to the dead, through séances or other means, is expressly forbidden. Sometimes mediums are called “channelers,” as they allegedly “channel” communication from the dead to the living. A medium might only communicate with one or more specific spirits (called “familiars” or “familiar spirits”), or the communication may be spread across many different spirits. The messages may come audibly, visually, or through physical sensations. [Source: https://www.gotquestions.org/what-is-a-medium.html]

Deuteronomy 18:10-13 (NKJV):
10 There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, 11 or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. 13 You shall be blameless before the LORD your God. 

While the following Scripture may seem like a puzzling one to include in a discussion on God Calling, and subsequently Jesus Calling, it will, sadly, be seen to be very pertinent. As you read the verses, and the accompanying commentary and comments from a well-known discernment writer, Pastor Larry DeBruyn, I think you will understand why I have included the Scriptures. I am including two different Bible versions so that it is apparent that “familiar spirits” and “mediums” are used interchangeably.

Isaiah 8:19-20 King James Version (KJV):
19 And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them. 

Isaiah 8:19-20 New International Version (NIV):
19 When someone tells you to consult mediums and spiritists, who whisper and mutter, should not a people inquire of their God? Why consult the dead on behalf of the living? 20Consult God’s instruction and the testimony of warning. If anyone does not speak according to this word, they have no light of dawn. 

It is wise to consult an established commentary to explain these passages. Each commentary in the website page cited is in agreement with the Barnes Commentary cited below.

That hath familiar spirits – Hebrew, אבות ‘obôth. The word ‘familiar,’ applied to spirit, is… used by our translators to imply that they were attended by an invisible spirit that was subject to their call, or that would inspire them when they sought his direction…. The word is most commonly applied to women; as it was almost entirely confined to women to profess this power; Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; 1 Samuel 28. Barnes Commentary [Source: http://biblehub.com/commentaries/isaiah/8-19.htm]

The following is from world-renowned Bible teacher, Pastor Larry DeBruyn, as he comments on Isaiah 8: 19-20:

Isaiah recommends looking to God and the revealed Word rather than to necromancy.Isaiah returns, in ver. 19, to the consideration of his disciples. In the terrible times impending, they will have recourse to necromancy [ed., communication with the dead or spirit world]; he urges that they should look to God and the Law. Verse 19. – Seek unto them that have familiar spirits. In times of great distress the Israelites seem always to have been tempted to consult those among them who pretended to magic and divination. So Saul in the Philistine war resorted to the witch of Endor in 1Samuel 28.

[M]ost of us never knew the Bible’s explicit warnings that false Christs and false prophets would arise in our midst and seduce us with supernatural signs and wonders to make us think their teachings came from God. Those signs and wonders would be so convincing that “if it were possible” they would fool even the most faithful believers of the real Gospel and the real Christ.

Helen Schucman

Some apparitions even claim to be “Jesus.” Warren Smith’s testimony recounts how he encountered a “false Christ” and “another Jesus” when he was a seeker in the New Age movement. He also relates how Helen Schucman heard an “inner voice” that said, “This is A Course in Miracles. Please take notes.” The voice, which later identified itself as “Jesus,” proceeded to dictate a body of material that completely contradicted the real gospel of Christ and whose oppositional teachings could only be characterized as “another gospel,” “another spirit,” and “another Jesus.” (2Cor 11:4) [Source: http://herescope.blogspot.nl/2012/01/breached.html]

Below is a copy of a letter I sent to a discernment editor I know, and her reply. It is the reason why some information was included in this report.

Dear Gaylene,
In my regular reading in 1 Samuel yesterday I came upon the story of Saul and the witch of Endor. It dawned on me that the practice of communicating with familiar spirits is very similar to what occurs in God Calling/Jesus Calling. I don’t believe the two “listeners” or Sarah Young are communicating with God. So I think the idea of communication with familiar spirits is a distinct possibility.
Barbara

Barbara,
You are spot on. Pastor Larry (DeBruyn) did an in-depth article series a few years ago that touched on many of these things. Below is the conclusion to it. I’ve appended links to all of the parts in case you’d like to read them. Blessings,
Gaylene

Here is Larry DeBruyn’s “Conclusion” that Gaylene had attached to her reply:

Conclusion: 
The warning is plain. There are false voices, impressions, experiences, prophecies, and signs and wonders that cleverly counterfeit themselves to be authentic-experiential encounters with the afterlife. These spiritual experiences can seem genuinely real, perfectly timed and intimately personal as they speak to our needs and comfort our hearts. But even as they may seem to meet our emotional and spiritual needs, we must acknowledge our vulnerability to spiritual deception and therefore measure these experiences by the full counsel of God’s Word, all the while knowing that such encounters are unprecedented in and therefore unsanctioned by Holy Scripture, which reveals to human hearts the true work of the Holy Spirit (See John 5:39; 15:26).

Dr. Harry Ironside, Pastor of Chicago’s Moody Memorial Church from 1930-1948, emphasizes the fact that truth mixed with error results in “all error”:

Error is like leaven, of which we read, “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” Truth mixed with error is equivalent to all error, except that it is more innocent looking and, therefore, more dangerous. God hates such a mixture! Any error, or any truth-and-error mixture, calls for definite exposure and repudiation. To condone such is to be unfaithful to God and His Word and treacherous to imperiled souls for whom Christ died.

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times
some will fall away from the faith,
paying attention to deceitful spirits
and doctrines of demons….” 

1 Timothy 4:1, NAS

This quote above is from Part 6 titled “BREACHED!” This entire article series deals particularly with the topic we are discussing in this report. I have included the remainder of the articles in this series by Pastor DeBruyn, which is titled Have Heart: bridging the gulf between Heaven and earth: A Review and Commentary, for your edification:

Read Herescope’s Introductory Comments
Read Part 1: Normalizing Necromancy 
Read Part 2: The “Canaanization” of the Church
Read Part 3: Spontaneous Spiritualism 
Read Part 4: Interpretation by Imagination
Read Part 5: Spiritualism’s Slippery Slope 
Read Part 6: BREACHED!

While I realize that all the above material is a great deal to take in, the words of Sarah Young herself lend them credence when she admits that the words she receives do not receive their inspiration from the Bible. The question has to be asked, therefore, where does her inspiration come from?

Sarah Young

Realizing (from page xii of Jesus Calling) that she is claiming that God speaks authoritatively through a source other than His Bible, Sarah Young cautiously amended her words: “I knew that my writings were not as inspired as Scripture is, but they were helping me grow closer to God.” However, the Bible itself contradicts her by affirming that only the Words that go forth out of God’s mouth – the Holy Scripture (Isaiah 55:11) – are inspired, and that “additional inspirations” are not even included in Scripture. Scriptures are not insignificant words to be used casually but are “quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow and are a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”(Hebrews 4:12).

Sarah Young cannot have it both ways. Either this is God the Son speaking in which case we had better listen because then these daily “guidances” or “inspirations” are equally as important as His Words in the Bible. Or, on the other hand, if this is not God the Son speaking, even in such a relatively insignificant way as compared to the Bible (which is what her quote implies), then why are we listening to these words at all?

Yet, as all the preceding material has stated, there is one other disturbing premise: what if this is not Jesus at all speaking? What if it is someone/something totally different speaking?

To be continued. . . . 

February 28, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

East, in Eden

Genesis 2:8–17

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. And the Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

The word Eden has almost faded from our vocabularies in these prosaic times, except as a name for honeymoon resorts or cottages. It needs to be revived, because it is a proper and constant reminder of two truths basic to Christianity. First, Christianity is a historical religion. It is not a religion of mere metaphysical concepts and ideas, as many of the non-Christian religions are. It deals with real people who lived in real places and who experienced the very real redemptive acts of God in history. Second, it is the story of man’s fall from perfection and the subsequent redemption of certain men and women by God for their good and the praise of his glory.

Occasionally in my preparation of studies like this I turn to reference books in which the various literary uses of a word such as Eden are recorded. On this occasion I looked up “Eden” in Roget’s International Thesaurus, and was surprised to find it, not under a section dealing with historical names and places, but under the section dealing with “imagination.” It was listed with such terms as “utopia,” “paradise,” “heaven,” “Atlantis,” “Happy Valley,” “fairyland,” “cloudland,” “dreamland,” “Land of Promise,” and “kingdom come.” The quotations, which in Roget accompany each word section, contained such gems as “Imagination rules the world” (Napoleon), “The center of every man’s existence is a dream” (Chesterton), and “All dreams are lies” (French proverb). Apparently, for the compiler of the thesaurus Eden was no more real than fairyland.

Is this the Christian view? Many would like it to be, because if Eden is not real, then the fall is not real and we can all entertain the comfortable secular notions that there is really not much wrong with the human race and that whatever imperfections may be said to exist they are all inevitably being wiped out by time. Unfortunately for secular man, the Bible opposes such optimism and declares instead that man’s state apart from God is desperate.

Names and Places

All along in our study of the opening chapters of Genesis we have insisted that the accounts before us are historical. We asked, “Is Genesis fact or fiction?” We answered that it is clearly fact, defending this from the nature of the material itself as well as from the attitude of the other biblical figures toward Genesis, including that of the Lord Jesus Christ. But if it is true that Genesis 1:1–2:3 is fact—verses that give an account of creation in the briefest possible language—it is many times more evident that Genesis 2:8–17 is fact, for in these verses Moses sets Eden before his Jewish readers as a place they would recognize.

Two features are striking. First, Eden is said to have been located in “the east”—a directional notation. We must remember that Genesis, being the first of the five books of Moses, was initially written to the people of Israel during the days of their wilderness wandering in Sinai. So when Moses says that “God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden” (Gen. 2:8), he is giving the location from the point of view of Sinai. Although the reference is not sharply specific, it means that Eden was located somewhere across the great Arabian desert toward the area we know as the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.

The second feature of this description is the extraordinary collection of place names found in verses 10–14, including the names of the rivers just mentioned. The text says, “A river watering the garden flowed from Eden; from there it was separated into four headwaters. The name of the first is the Pishon; it winds through the entire land of Havilah, where there is gold. (The gold of that land is good; aromatic resin and onyx are also there.) The name of the second river is the Gihon; it winds through the entire land of Cush. The name of the third river is the Tigris; it runs along the east side of Asshur. And the fourth river is the Euphrates.” As we study this we must admit that quite a few of these places are unknown today. It may be, as some have suggested, that the geography of the area of Eden has changed as a result of the flood so that today only two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, are found where four were found originally. Or it may be, as Calvin believed, that the names of the “unknown” rivers have simply changed in time and therefore do actually exist today, though the course of the rivers has undoubtedly changed considerably. Calvin regarded the Pishon and Gihon as ancient names for tributaries to the Tigris and Euphrates and believed, on the basis of the Genesis account, that they all flowed together into one river and then divided again into a delta as they flowed from Eden into the Red Sea.

Whatever the solution to this particular geological problem, there is no doubt that Moses was using names and places at least partially known to his contemporaries. The Tigris and Euphrates were known then and are known to this day. Moses speaks of Havilah as a land of gold, resin, and onyx. He speaks of Cush, generally regarded as a section of Arabia and Ethiopia. Asshur is the land of Assyria. Moses is telling the people that at a specific period in past history and in a place well known to them, God placed the first man and woman and that the fall of man, which has affected all subsequent life so drastically, was as real as the acts they themselves were committing in a different but not totally unrelated environment.

Since Genesis is about to speak of the fall this comparison cuts two ways. On the one hand, it means that the disobedience of Adam and Eve was as real, comprehensible, and evil as the sins the people themselves were committing. On the other hand, it means that their sin was as real, comprehensible, and evil as the sin of our first parents.

Human beings always tend to treat sin lightly, and one way of doing this is to dismiss it to a mystical realm in which it becomes merely part of the human dilemma or, as is sometimes said, a symbol of the fact that things are not as good as they can and may yet be. In this perspective sin is not a particular thing that I do. It is just an old word for a general and blameless imperfection. This is not what Genesis teaches, and at this point Christianity stands radically opposed to the non-Christian view. Sin is rebellion against God. It is “any want of conformity unto, or transgression of, the law of God,” as the Westminster Shorter Catechism states (A. 14). This means that although it is a flaw in the human constitution resulting from Adam’s first sin, it is also nothing less than specific acts, performed by particular persons at particular points and places in history. Therefore the solution to sin must also be a specific act performed by a particular person at a particular point and place in history, namely, the atonement made by the Lord Jesus Christ in Israel in the days of Pontius Pilate.

God’s Garden

A person might argue that the mere historicity of Eden does not in itself prove the historical nature of the fall of man, and that is true. But, of course, this is not all that we are told of Eden. Eden is described as a real place, but in addition to this it is also described as an idyllic place perfectly suited to the man in his unfallen state. Just as Genesis 2:7 describes man’s nature and portrays it as perfect, so does Genesis 2:8–17 describe man’s environment before the fall and portrays it as perfect.

These two things go together and make the fall dreadful. Man could claim some excuse for his sin were he made imperfect, on the one hand, or placed in an imperfect, sinful, or degrading environment, on the other. But neither is the case. His nature was perfect; his environment was perfect. So when he sinned, as we know sadly he did, it was not because of some deficiency either of nature or environment for which God might be thought responsible.

There are three striking things about Eden. First, it was a beautiful place. This is evident throughout the narrative, but it is explicit in the matter of the trees that, the text says, were “pleasing to the eye” (v. 9). This is an understatement, of course. We remember that throughout the account of creation God has been described as making beautiful things and pronouncing the creative acts of each of the days of creation “good” (Gen. 1:3, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25, 31). Outside Eden there was an abundant and exceedingly beautiful world. Yet here, in the place that is to be the abode of the man and woman, God had poured out beauty in a special measure. Calvin says, “No corner of the earth was then barren, nor was there even any which was not exceedingly rich and fertile; but that benediction of God, which was elsewhere comparatively moderate, had in this place poured itself wonderfully forth. For not only was there an abundant supply of food, but with it was added sweetness for the gratification of the palate, and beauty to feast the eyes. Therefore, from such benignant indulgence, it is more than sufficiently evident, how inexplicable had been the cupidity of man.”

God intended that the environment of man be a thing of great beauty, and in many areas the beauty of man’s God-given environment is still evident. On the other hand, we can hardly read this and then turn without weeping to the many distorted and ugly environments that men have made for themselves. God made a garden, but we litter that garden. In our cities we often eliminate the garden entirely. In place of beauty we have the junk, garbage, and sometimes terribly mangled lives of men and women. How terrible sin is! How abnormal is the environment of man today, as we find it!

The second striking thing about Eden is that it was a useful place. It had a utilitarian value to it, for we are told that the trees were not only pleasing to the eye but also “good for food” (v. 9).

Here we must stop for a moment. In recognizing the value of what God had made we must not make the mistake of linking value to the beautiful as if to say that the thing made by God was beautiful only because it had some utilitarian value. We sometimes think that way in our fallen state or, which is much the same thing, fail to recognize that something is beautiful in itself just because it is not immediately useful to us. But these early chapters of Genesis alone should warn us against that kind of thinking. At this point we are in Genesis 2. But we remember that even before the creation of the man and woman God created a beautiful and varied world and pronounced all that he created good. It was good, first of all, because he made it. It had value in itself. But in addition to that, the creation of God was also beautiful, and some parts of it (from the perspective of Adam and Eve) were useful also.

The third striking thing about Eden is that it was perfectly suited to the nature and responsibilities of Adam. In the verse immediately before this section we are told that “God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being” (v. 7). By nature man was related both to the ground, from which he was made, and to God, whose breath gave him both life and God-consciousness. Now he is placed in an environment where his task is to “work [the ground] and take care of it” (2:15). Thus, every day of his life Adam would be reminded of his origin and at the same time of his responsibility, for he would know that he was working the ground at the direction of God and for God’s glory.

God kept these matters before Adam by another device too: the command regarding the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die” (vv. 16–17). The existence of this tree would have reminded Adam that he was not his own god and that he was responsible at all times to his Maker.

Unfortunately, as we know very well, Adam determined to be his own god anyhow and so rebelled by doing what God had commanded him not to do.

Two Gardens

In time we are going to study the fall of man thoroughly. But here we should not overlook the obvious contrast between the situation and conduct of Adam in this garden and the situation and conduct of the second Adam, Jesus Christ, in the Garden of Gethsemane before his arrest and crucifixion.

The first contrast is between the good that stretched out before our first parents in Eden and the evil that lay before Christ. Adam and Eve had entered Eden at the peak of God’s creative activity. Theirs was a world that God declared unequivocally to be good. He had made our first parents vice-regents over this world, giving them dominion over “the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground” (Gen. 1:26). Moreover, he had blessed them, saying, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. … I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food” (Gen. 1:28–30). Adam and Eve had all this before them without even a suggestion of a lessening of God’s great favors. Yet they turned from this overwhelming and delightful prospect and sinned.

By contrast Jesus faced what Adam and Eve could not even begin to conceive: first, physical death in what is probably the most prolonged and excruciating form known to man, and second, spiritual death from which even his highly disciplined and divinely motivated soul shrank in deep horror. The full measure of what was before Christ is seen in his great agony, bloody sweat, and heartbreaking prayer (“My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me,” Matt. 26:39; cf. Mark 14:36; Luke 22:42). Nevertheless, Jesus did not turn from this suffering but rather embraced it willingly for our salvation.

The second contrast between Adam and Eve’s conduct in Eden and Christ’s conduct in Gethsemane is that our first parents spent their time talking to Satan while Jesus spent his time talking with God. The need for prayer was very much on Christ’s mind, for all his actions seemed geared to meeting it. He left Jerusalem to pray (John 18:2). He separated himself from the larger number of his disciples, admonishing them to pray (Luke 22:40). Then he himself earnestly prayed, returning to pray twice, after interrupting himself to encourage the disciples in their own vigil. Jesus clearly felt the need for prayer. But Adam and Eve, though on the brink of that sin that would condemn the race, did not pray. Rather, they seemed oblivious to the danger as they blithely communed with Satan.

The third point of contrast between Adam and Eve on the one hand, and the Lord Jesus Christ on the other, is obvious. They fell while he conquered. How soon did they fall? Almost instantly, it would appear. Satan presented his arguments, and they quickly ate the forbidden fruit. Jesus, on the other hand, wrestled in prayer and only prevailed at the end.

Finally, we notice that by their sin Adam and Eve plunged the race into misery. They fell and carried their descendants over the cliff of sin to destruction. On the other hand, Jesus stood firm. He did not sin, nor did he shrink from the work before him, as a result of which he saved all whom the Father had given him. In Adam all were lost. But Jesus could say, “None has been lost” (John 17:12).

The apostle Paul makes this contrast in that magnificent fifth chapter of the Book of Romans. “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned—for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come. But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man’s sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification. For if, by the trespass of the one man, death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man, Jesus Christ. Consequently, just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (vv. 12–21).

That is precisely it. One writer declares, “Sin, death, and judgment flowed from the act of Adam. Righteousness, life, and kingship flow from the cross of Christ. The sin of Adam was a stone cast into a pool which sent ripples to every inlet. The cross of Christ was the rock of ages cast into the ocean of the love of God, and it is the destiny of all who are in Christ to be carried on the swell of his majestic love and life and power both now and forever.”[1]


16–17 A further confirmation of understanding leʿobdâ ûlešomrâ as “to worship and to obey” is that in v. 16 we read for the first time that “God commanded” (wayeṣaw) the man whom he had created. As in the rest of the Torah, enjoyment of God’s good land is contingent on “keeping” (lišmōr) God’s commandments (miṣwōt; cf. Dt 30:16). The similarity between this condition for enjoying God’s blessing and that laid down for Israel at Sinai and in Deuteronomy is transparent. Indeed, one can hardly fail to hear in these words of God to the first man the words of Moses to Israel:

See, I set before you today life and prosperity [blessing; lit., the good, haṭṭôb], death and destruction [calamity; lit., the evil, hārāʿ]. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, and to keep [lišmōr] his commands [miswôtāyw], decrees and laws; then you will live [ḥyh] and increase [rbh], and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.

But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient … you will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. (Dt 30:15–18)

The inference of God’s commands in 2:16–17 is that only God knows what is good (ṭôb) for humanity and only God knows what is not good (rāʿ) for them. To enjoy the “good,” humankind must trust God and obey him. If they disobey, they will be left to decide for themselves what is good (ṭôb) and what is not good (rāʿ). While to our modern age such a prospect may seem desirable, to the author of Genesis it is the worst fate that could have befallen humankind, for only God knows what is good (ṭôb) for humanity.[2]


2:15–17 / The main story resumes with the repetition of words from verse 8. God assigned Adam to work and take care of (lit. “keep,” shamar) the garden. The meaning of shamar here is “to take care of” something like a member of the flock (30:31). From the beginning God charged man with responsible work.

In addition, God gave the man two specific commandments, one affirmative and one prohibitive. God generously granted man unlimited access to the fruit of all the trees, including the tree of life, which held the possibility of unending life for humans as long as they ate of its fruit. In the tree God provided the opportunity for patterns of obedience. With the second command God prohibited the man from eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil under penalty of death (on the significance of this tree, see 3:5). This penalty takes the form found in threats made by kings, in which the king has discretion as to the manner of enforcing the penalty (20:7; 1 Sam. 14:39, 44; 22:16), not the form found in legal texts, in which the king has no such prerogative (G. Wenham, Genesis 1–15 [WBC 1; Dallas: Word, 1987], p. 67).

Giving these commands conveyed that humans are moral: they could choose either to obey or to disobey God’s commands. Obeying God would lead to abundance and the possibility of endless life, but disobeying God would place them under the death penalty.

By giving humans such a prohibition, God was mercifully providing them a tangible symbol of their moral nature. Some people argue, however, that the presence of this tree made it impossible for humans not to sin, given the human proclivity to do what is prohibited. But those who hold this position fail to consider that the first humans did not yet have any inclination of asserting themselves above God. It is difficult for us on this side of Eden to discern how a limit guards freedom rather than serving as a temptation to do what is forbidden. God was protecting human freedom by setting this restriction.[3]


[1] Boice, J. M. (1998). Genesis: an expositional commentary (pp. 122–128). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Sailhamer, J. H. (2008). Genesis. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Genesis–Leviticus (Revised Edition) (Vol. 1, pp. 79–80). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hartley, J. E. (2012). Genesis. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (pp. 60–61). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

FEBRUARY 28 SOLDIERS OF CHRIST

Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.

2 Timothy 2:3

It is possible to be beaten until you are numb. You can smile and praise the Lord and say, “Jesus, I my cross have taken,” for a while. But then you are slowly beaten until you are numb, and you get into a sort of a rut where you cannot fight back.

Timothy had been with Paul a long time, and Paul had been in so much trouble so much of the time. Timothy was tagging along behind in the same trouble, and Paul had noticed a little temptation to be ashamed of the cross. Essentially, Paul was saying, “Don’t be ashamed of the cross. Don’t shrink from the affliction of the gospel. God has not given us the spirit of fear.” Then in Second Timothy 2:3 Paul said, “Endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” It is as though he might have detected in the young man a little temptation to recoil a bit from the hard life he was called into.

Lord, teach me self-discipline, that I may be a good soldier of Jesus Christ. Help me to be bold for the sake of Your cross.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Two – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 32:1–5

Happy is he whose transgression is taken away,

whose sin is covered.

Happy is a person to whom Yahweh does not impute iniquity

and in whose spirit there is not deceit.

When I kept silent, my bones were worn out

due to my groaning all the day.

For day and night your hand was heavy upon me.

My vigor was changed into the dry heat of summer. Selah

I made known my sin to you, and my iniquity I did not cover.

I said, “I will confess concerning my transgressions to Yahweh,”

and you took away the guilt of my sin. Selah

Reading: Mark 11:1–11

And when they came near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany at the Mount of Olives, he sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village before you, and right away as you enter into it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. And if anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say ‘The Lord has need of it, and will send it here again at once.’ ” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those who were standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” So they told them, just as Jesus had said, and they allowed them to take it. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks over it, and he sat on it. And many people spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches they had cut from the fields. And those who went ahead and those who were following were shouting,

“Hosanna!

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!

Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David!

Hosanna in the highest heaven!”

And he went into Jerusalem to the temple, and after looking around at everything, because the hour was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve.

Reflection

Consider the great virtues Christ showed us by His human nature in this procession: While He was supreme and rich and powerful above all—as the true Son of God according to the divinity—He did not display the excellence of His majesty before the people by worldly pomp. But with much humility and meekness [He] approached the city, rebellious against Him. This is our king, whom John Baptist proclaimed as the lamb, that was to come into the world: Who for the salvation of the human race drew near to the place of suffering to accomplish the work of our redemption, as it had been revealed to the holy patriarchs and prophets.

He did not turn aside from the face of His enemies, nor dread the holy place because of the malice of the people. Yet, with the greatest charity and compassion, [He] approached the envious and enraged to calm their passions. Moreover, for their coming excesses and evil deeds, He mourned and wept.

—Thomas à Kempis

A Meditation on the Incarnation of Christ

Response

The people of Jerusalem welcomed Jesus into the city with shouts and praise because they believed He was going to be a political savior. Do you turn to God only in times of personal crisis or when you need something from Him?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

February 28 Satisfying Your Spiritual Hunger

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.—Matt. 5:6

The all-important result for any believer hungering and thirsting after righteousness is to “be satisfied.” The verb translated “satisfied” frequently refers to the feeding of animals until they want no more. In a parallel to this, Jesus declares that people who hunger and thirst for righteousness will gain complete satisfaction. This satisfaction comes from God. Our part is to seek; His is to satisfy us.

Paradoxically, Christians continually seek God’s righteousness, always wanting more and never getting their fill in this life. Yet the Lord still satisfies them. Again, we can make the analogy to food. We can eat our fill of our favorite dishes, yet our taste for those foods remains. The satisfaction we derive only makes us want more. Believers who crave God’s righteousness will find it so satisfying that they will always want more.

Psalms speaks repeatedly about God’s satisfying our spiritual hunger. The most well-known psalm opens, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want,” and later says, “You prepare a table before me … my cup overflows” (23:1, 5). A later psalm assures us that God “has satisfied the thirsty soul, and the hungry soul He has filled with what is good” (Ps. 107:9; cf. 34:10).

Jesus on another occasion told the crowds, many of whom were among the five thousand fed, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst” (John 6:35). Our spiritual hunger will always be satisfied (cf. John 4:14).

ASK YOURSELF

It may not happen all at once, but Jesus will always reward your hunger for righteousness with the deep satisfaction reserved for the humbly obedient. How has He satisfied you in the past? Think of a time when you and He celebrated what sanctification was accomplishing in you.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 67). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

February 28 The Accountability Factor

Let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.

Hebrews 10:24

I have found that the closer I am to the godly people around me, the easier it is for me to live a righteous life because they hold me accountable. If something isn’t right in my life, they point it out to me. God has given me a wife and four grown children who expect me to walk a righteous path. If I stray from it, one or sometimes all five of them will inform me that I am out of line.

It’s easy to begin thinking that if you try your best, you can live a spiritual life without being involved in a church or having close, godly friends. This may be possible, but you’ll have a difficult time growing in your faith. Accountability applies a helpful pressure toward godliness. May today’s verse guide you toward stronger spiritual patterns.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 71). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

February 28, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

Uzzah and the Ark

5 And David and all the house of Israel were celebrating before the LORD, with songs and lyres and harps and tambourines and castanets and cymbals. 6 And when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah put out his hand to the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen stumbled. 7 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Uzzah, and God struck him down there because of his error, and he died there beside the ark of God. 8 And David was angry because the LORD had broken out against Uzzah. And that place is called Perez-uzzah to this day. 9 And David was afraid of the LORD that day, and he said, “How can the ark of the LORD come to me?” 10 So David was not willing to take the ark of the LORD into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. 11 And the ark of the LORD remained in the house of Obed-edom the Gittite three months, and the LORD blessed Obed-edom and all his household.
12 And it was told King David, “The LORD has blessed the household of Obed-edom and all that belongs to him, because of the ark of God.” So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obed-edom to the city of David with rejoicing. 13 And when those who bore the ark of the LORD had gone six steps, he sacrificed an ox and a fattened animal. 14 And David danced before the LORD with all his might. And David was wearing a linen ephod. 15 So David and all the house of Israel brought up the ark of the LORD with shouting and with the sound of the horn.

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (2 Sa 6:5–15). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


6:6–11 / After a while the oxen stumbled, and Uzzah naturally took action to prevent the ark from falling, but that action resulted in his death. The Hebrew in verse 7 is unclear, and most translations rely on the parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 13:1–14 to make sense of it. Uzzah’s act was seen as irreverent and deserving of this severe penalty. First Chronicles 15:2, 15 refer to the importance of Levites carrying the ark, and perhaps this is presented as the cause of Uzzah’s death. The Israelites in general and David in particular had been guilty of trying to use the ark for their own purposes—in effect, they were trying to manipulate God. They had rejoiced at the demonstration of God’s power, but they had not taken either his power or his holiness seriously. There is no record of the kind of warning being given here that was given to those Israelites who might have strayed too close to the mountain where God was going to speak to Moses (Exod. 19). Maybe the writers intend to show the ignorance within the Israelite community concerning religious traditions, in particular regarding how they should properly treat the ark.

David’s first reaction to Uzzah’s death was fury, either because his plans for a glorious affirmation of his new capital had been ruined or because he had genuinely been trying to do the right thing and saw God’s action as unfair. However, as he began to realize the enormity of his own behavior his anger was replaced by fear. He realized that the ark—indeed God—was unpredictable and awesome. David abandoned the project and the ark. The ark was given for safe keeping into the hands of Obed-Edom. It remained with him for three months and to his household brought nothing but blessing. This apparently convinced David that not the ark but a wrong attitude and approach to it was a danger—although it could also be that God’s anger had turned to blessing.[1]


6–11 Just as “David and the whole house of Israel” (dāwid wekol-bêt yiśrāʾēl) begins the last verse of the previous section (vv. 1–5), so also “Obed-Edom and his entire household” (ʿōbēd ʾedōm weʾet-kol-bêtô) ends the last verse of the present section (vv. 6–11). The contrast is stark: David and Israel’s house celebrate while the ark is being mishandled, whereas Obed-Edom and his house are blessed because the ark is under his protection.

Since threshing floors were often places of sanctity (cf. 24:16, 18, 21, 24–25; Ge 50:10; 1 Ki 22:10; Hos 9:1), the “threshing floor of Nacon” (v. 6) may also have been a holy site (cf. Porter, 171). Unfortunately, it is mentioned only here (“Nacon” as a proper noun is a secondary reading in 1 Sa 23:23; 26:4; see NIV notes there; see Notes on 1 Sa 23:23), its location is unknown, and even the spelling of its name is uncertain (e.g., 1 Ch 13:9 reads “Kidon” instead of “Nacon”). “Two verbs with which nacon could be connected are kûn, ‘to be fixed or prepared’, or nākâ, ‘to smite’; indeed the latter occurs in verse 7 [‘struck him down’]. The name may have been coined to encapsulate memories of the disaster, witnessed by the great company of worshippers” (Baldwin, 207–8; cf. similarly Carlson, 78).

In any event, the threshing floor is fraught with peril for Uzzah (whose name, ironically, means “Strength,” from the same Heb. root translated “might” in v. 5). Sensing that the oxen pulling the cart were stumbling (v. 6) and might therefore cause the ark to fall to the ground, Uzzah “reached out” (elliptical for “reached out his hand,” as in 1 Ch 13:9, 4QSama, and several ancient versions; cf. Ulrich, 195, and BHS) to steady the ark. In so doing he “took hold of” it, and thus his doom was sealed despite whatever good intentions he may have had.

The wrath of divine judgment fell on Uzzah “because of his irreverent act” (v. 7), a phrase that is unique in the OT (for discussion see Carlson, 79) and that is understood in 1 Chronicles 13:10 to mean in this context, “because he had put his hand on the ark” (cf. also probably 4QSama; Ulrich, 195). Although this act in itself would have been enough to condemn him, (1) Uzzah was transporting the ark in a cart rather than carrying it on his shoulders, and (2) there is no evidence that he was a Kohathite Levite in any event (see Nu 4:15; cf. similarly Terence Kleven [“Hebrew Style in II Samuel vi” (paper presented at the annual meeting of the ETS, New Orleans, La., November 1990), 6], who calls attention as well to such related texts as Ex 25:12–15; Nu 3:29–31; 7:9; Dt 10:8). Just as God had “struck down” and put to death some of the men of Beth Shemesh for looking into the ark (1 Sa 6:19; cf. Nu 4:20), so also God “struck [Uzzah] down” (v. 7) for touching the ark (cf. also 1 Sa 5:6–12).

It is sometimes claimed that the ark, a wooden chest overlaid inside and out with gold (Ex 25:10–11), functioned as a huge Leyden jar that produced enough static electricity while bumping along the rocky road to electrocute Uzzah when he touched it. But it is also conceivable that a member of the ark’s military escort used his spear (one Heb. word for which is kîdōn [cf. Jer 50:42], the name of the threshing floor according to 1 Ch 13:9) to dispatch Uzzah. In any event, the Lord was the ultimate cause of Uzzah’s death, whether or not he used secondary means to accomplish the act of judgment.

As though to emphasize the threshing floor as the locale of Uzzah’s death, the narrator states not only that Uzzah died “there” but also that God struck him down “there” (omitted from the NIV in the interests of English style). An additional irony is that he died “beside” (ʿim, usually “with,” but cf. similarly “near” in 1 Sa 10:2) the ark, which he had been attempting to rescue from real or imagined harm. (“Beside the ark of God” [v. 7] and “with the ark of God” [v. 4] translate the same Heb. phrase.) John Stek, 69, observes that the fate of Uzzah brings to mind “the deaths of Nadab and Abihu, Lev. 10:1, 2; Achan, Josh. 7; and Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1–11; all of whom failed to take Yahweh’s rule seriously—at the dawn of new eras in the history of the kingdom of God.”

The Lord’s anger (v. 7) causes David to react first with anger of his own (v. 8) and then with fear (v. 9). David is understandably indignant that the divine “wrath” (lit., “breaking out,” v. 8) has broken out against Uzzah and resulted in his death, a seemingly harsh penalty for so small an infraction. Indeed, it may have been David himself who named the place of Uzzah’s death Perez Uzzah (v. 8), “The outbreak against Uzzah” (see NIV note; see also comment on Baal Perazim in 5:20).

It is not surprising that David’s anger against God should be mingled with fear of him (v. 9). His fear was experienced “that day” (i.e., the day of Uzzah’s death, as opposed to “this day” [v. 8], the time of the narrator of 2 Samuel; see comment on 1 Sa 6:18), in the light of which he questions whether the ark can “ever” (implied in the context, though not explicitly represented in the MT) come to him. Although written from a different perspective, Blenkinsopp’s observation (151 n. 33) is surely correct: “The question of David … is answered in the liturgy of Ps 24 (vss. 4f.).”

David decides that a cooling-off period is in order before he is willing to give further consideration, if any at all, to taking the ark to be “with him” (remembering what happened when it was with Uzzah) in the “City of David” (v. 10, the new name so recently given to the fortress of Zion; see comment on 5:7). Instead, he gives the ark a temporary home in the house of “Obed-Edom” (“Servant of Edom,” in which “Edom” is probably the name of either a god or a tribe; see Driver, 241) the Gittite.

While it is true that “Gittite” can refer to someone whose hometown was the Philistine city of Gath (cf. Goliath in 1 Sa 17:4, 23; 2 Sa 21:19), it is unlikely that David would entrust the ark to the care of a Philistine. Since gat is the ordinary word for “(wine)press,” the epithet “Gittite” can be used with respect to any activity (cf. the enigmatic feminine form gittît in the titles of Pss 8; 81; 84) or place name (cf. Gath Hepher [Jos 19:13; 2 Ki 14:25]; Gath Rimmon [Jos 19:45; 21:24–25; 1 Ch 6:69]) related to winepresses. Indeed, it is even possible that Obed-Edom was originally from Gittaim (“Two [Wine]presses”; see Notes on 4:3).

In any case, despite the skepticism of some commentators (e.g., McCarter, Smith), Obed-Edom was a Levite (1 Ch 15:17–18, 21, 24–25; 16:4–5, 38; Josephus, Ant. 7.83 [4.2])—in fact, he was a Kohathite Levite if Gath Rimmon in Dan or Manasseh was his hometown (Jos 21:20, 24–26; 1 Ch 6:66, 69; cf. Kirkpatrick). The house of Obed-Edom was probably located “somewhere on the southwestern hill of Jerusalem” (Carlson, 79; on the two-site location of Jebusite Jerusalem see comment on 5:6). There the ark remained for three months (v. 11), during which time the Lord blessed the house of Obed-Edom, as soon to be reflected in the confidence of David that the Lord would bless the house of David forever (7:29). In the case of Obed-Edom, the divine blessing (as often in the OT) would ultimately come in the form of numerous descendants: “62 in all” (1 Ch 26:8; cf. “For God had blessed Obed-Edom,” 1 Ch 26:5).[2]


[1] Evans, M. J. (2012). 1 & 2 Samuel. (W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston, Eds.) (p. 162). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Youngblood, R. F. (2009). 1, 2 Samuel. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 Samuel–2 Kings (Revised Edition) (Vol. 3, pp. 367–369). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.