Daily Archives: March 7, 2018

March 7 Denying Yourself

“I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed” (Dan. 9:4).

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God will not respond to self-righteous prayers.

In Luke 18 Jesus told a parable to people who were trusting in their own self-righteousness. He said, “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee, and the other a tax-gatherer. The Pharisee stood and was praying thus to himself, ‘God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people, swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted” (vv. 10–14).

Apart from God’s mercy we cannot enter into God’s presence. The tax-gatherer knew that and pled for forgiveness. The Pharisee missed the point and went away without forgiveness.

Like the tax-gatherer, Daniel approached God with an attitude of confession and self-denial. He could have reminded God of his years of faithful service while in Babylon, but that didn’t enter his mind. He knew that in himself there was nothing to commend him to God. His only thought was for mercy for himself and his people, so God’s purposes could be realized through them.

As a Christian, you have the wonderful privilege of boldly entering into God’s presence “with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith” (Heb. 10:22). That privilege is rooted in God’s grace through Christ’s sacrifice and leaves no room for presumption or self-righteousness. Always guard your attitude in prayer so you don’t unwittingly slip into a Pharisaic mentality.

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Suggestions for Prayer:  Memorize Psalm 117:1–118:1, and recite it often as a hymn of praise to the Lord.

For Further Study: Jesus had much to say about the self-righteous scribes and Pharisees of His day. Read Matthew 23, noting His scathing denunciations of their hypocritical attitudes and practices.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 79). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MARCH 7 THE CHRISTIAN MESSAGE: PROPHETIC, NOT DIPLOMATIC

For Christ sent me…to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

1 CORINTHIANS 1:17

We who witness and proclaim the gospel must not think of ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish goodwill between Christ and the world.

We must not imagine ourselves commissioned to make Christ acceptable to big business, the press, modern education, or the world of sports.

We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum!

God offers life, but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death. It stands always on the far side of the cross. Whoever would possess it must pass under the rod. He must repudiate himself and concur in God’s just sentence against him.

What does this mean to the individual, the condemned man who would find life in Christ Jesus? How can this theology be translated into life?

Simply, he must repent and believe. He must forsake his sins and then go on to forsake himself.

Let him cover nothing, defend nothing, excuse nothing.

Let him not seek to make terms with God, but let him bow his head before the stroke of God’s stern displeasure and acknowledge himself worthy to die.

Having done this, let him gaze with simple trust upon the risen Saviour, and from Him will come life and rebirth and cleansing and power. The cross that ended the earthly life of Jesus now puts an end to the sinner; and the power that raised Christ from the dead now raises him to a new life along with Christ![1]


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

March 7, 2018 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

BLOOMBERG

China’s policy of “strategic composure” in dealing with U.S. President Donald Trump’s America First ethos faces its sternest test yet. Having already absorbed levies on washing machines and solar panels and last week’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum, China awoke Wednesday to news that Trump is mulling a broader clampdown on its investment in the U.S. and tariffs on a range of imports in retaliation for alleged theft of intellectual property.

The U.S. Justice Department sued California, escalating a war over the Trump administration’s crackdown on undocumented immigration. The lawsuit targets three state laws that interfere with federal immigration enforcement and violate the Constitution.

Saudi Arabia’s crown prince said Iran, Turkey and extremist groups represent a “triangle of evil,” and predicted the kingdom’s confrontation with Gulf Arab neighbor Qatar could last for years.

Chinese President Xi Jinping is preparing to extend a sweeping government overhaul that would give the Communist Party greater control over everything from financial services to manufacturing to entertainment in the world’s second-largest economy.

American banks and retailers are sparring over whether financial firms should follow a new national standard to quickly notify consumers when they’ve experienced a data breach. Equifax Inc. said last week that it would notify an additional 2.4 million consumers who were hacked during its massive data breach in 2017 — but a draft of a House bill with bipartisan support would exempt the credit-reporting agency from the new requirements.

Wells Fargo has emerged as the preferred financier for the U.S. gun industry. The bank has helped two of the biggest U.S. firearm and ammunition companies access $431.1 million in loans and bonds since December 2012, when the gun control debate gained steam.

The U.S. trade deficit widened more than forecast in January to a post-recession high, adding to figures cited by President Donald Trump as evidence of American weakness while he brings the nation to the brink of a trade war. The gap increased 5 percent to $56.6 billion, the biggest since October 2008.

Gem Diamonds Ltd.’s latest discovery is a 152-carat, top white color Type IIa diamond from its Letseng mine in Lesotho, Southern Africa, the company said Wednesday. It’s the sixth find bigger than 100 carats this year, including a 910-carat stone that’s the fifth biggest in history.

AP Top Stories

A powerful earthquake that struck Papua New Guinea last week has left at least 55 people dead and authorities fear the toll could exceed 100, as survivors faced more shaking early Wednesday from the strongest aftershock so far.

Nashville has a new mayor. Vice Mayor David Briley was sworn in Tuesday to replace Meg Barry, who resigned hours earlier after she pleaded guilty to stealing thousands of dollars from the city while carrying on an extramarital affair with her bodyguard.

More than a dozen people have been arrested at Michigan State University at a speaking event for Richard Spencer, an avowed white supremacist.

The U.S. Marine Corps has deployed a detachment of Lockheed Martin F-35B Joint Strike Fighters onboard USS Wasp (LHD-1), marking the first time the jet has deployed operationally onboard a large deck amphibious assault ship.

The top U.S. intelligence official insisted on Tuesday that President Donald Trump’s administration is “actively engaged” in countering Russian efforts to influence the November elections, even as he warned of Moscow’s continuing “malign activities.”

A former Russian spy was critically ill after exposure to an “unknown substance,” British media reported in a case that immediately drew parallels to the poisoning of former Russian agent Alexander Litvinenko.

A senior Bangladesh cabinet minister has accused Myanmar of obstructing efforts to repatriate roughly 750,000 Rohingya refugees, saying it was unlikely the displaced Muslims would ever return to their homeland.

Sri Lanka Tuesday declared a nationwide state of emergency to quell anti-Muslim riots that have killed at least two people and damaged dozens of mosques and homes.

France’s foreign minister on Tuesday sidestepped questions on whether his country should end weapons sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates because they were being used in Yemen, saying that Iran also had “lots” of weapons there.

Japan’s financial regulator will slap administrative punishment notices on several cryptocurrency exchanges this week and plans to force some to suspend their business, people with direct knowledge of the matter said on Wednesday.

BBC

Coca-Cola is planning to produce an alcoholic drink for the first time in the company’s 125-year history – with an alcopop-style product in Japan.

The Mississippi state Senate has passed a bill that would ban abortions after 15 weeks – a move that would give it the strictest limits in the US.

Archbishop Óscar Romero, who was killed in 1980 while he was celebrating Mass in El Salvador, will be declared a saint, Pope Francis has announced.

Medics in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta area of Syria say an attack on Sunday initially suspected to have involved chlorine did not use toxic gas.

WND

About 42 percent of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for when they retire, according to a study by GoBankingRates released Tuesday.

Declaring their solidarity with the children of illegal immigrants, a prominent Muslim activist and several leaders of a U.S. front-organization for the Muslim Brotherhood were among the people arrested Monday in a protest outside the office of House Speaker Paul Ryan in which they demanded a meeting to express their concerns.


The Briefing — Wednesday, March 7, 2018

1) What we learn about the moral tenor of our times in the wake of Nashville mayor’s guilty plea and resignation

Tennessean (Joey Garrison, Nate Rau, and Anita Wadhwani) –
Nashville Mayor Megan Barry resigns from office as part of guilty plea to felony theft charge

2) Why it’s important to understand that culture produces politics, not the other way around

New York Times (Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns) –
As Primaries Begin, Divided Voters Weigh What It Means to Be a Democrat

3) As California proves, the further you get from agriculture, the more liberal the social context grows

Orange County Register (Ben Bradford) –
Hey, California: Your red-state roots are showing! How state of Reagan morphed into anti-Trump-land

4) Despite Americans’ claim to rugged individualism, political affiliations are often very predictable

LA Times (Mark Barabak) –
Why the rise of the independent voter is a political myth

Mid-Day Snapshot

Mar. 7, 2018

DOJ Sues California Over Immigration Obstruction

Three state laws directly and deliberately interfere with federal efforts to enforce the law.

The Foundation

“If it be asked, What is the most sacred duty and the greatest source of our security in a Republic? The answer would be, An inviolable respect for the Constitution and Laws — the first growing out of the last.” —Alexander Hamilton (1794)

STUNNING: Facebook Was Losing 50,000,000 User Hours Every Day — Then Decided to Crackdown on Conservative Content

Tech Giants Google and Facebook are currently purging conservative content from Facebook and YouTube — They are hiding conservative stories on Google — They are shadow-banning conservative news on all social media.

In February Facebook launched a new algorithm to ensure that conservative news would not spread on the social media platform.

This was after Facebook announced it was losing 50,000,000 user hours a day in the previous quarter.

The algorithm change caused President Donald Trump’s engagement on Facebook posts to plummet a whopping 45%.

In contrast, Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) do not appear to have suffered a comparable decline in Facebook engagement.

Top conservative Facebook pages with daily traffic in the millions have seen 75% to 95% drop in traffic.
Young Cons, Western Journalism, SarahPalin.com, Independent Journal Review, Right Wing News, and several others have seen dramatic loss in traffic.

The Gateway Pundit does not rely on Facebook for our traffic numbers.
Still, we saw a significant drop in Facebook traffic in the last month.
And this past weekend Facebook shut down our traffic stream from the social media platform.

This is criminal behavior.

Meanwhile, liberal sites are doing fine.

It’s not about the money — It’s about control of the leftist narrative.

Are the Facebook shareholders supportive of the company’s latest moves to lose conservative readers?

USA Today reported:

Mark Zuckerberg warned in January that radical changes he’s making to return Facebook to its roots connecting friends and family would curtail how much time people spend there.

He wasn’t kidding. Those changes that got underway last quarter are already hitting engagement numbers, reducing time users spend on Facebook by 5%, as the giant social network shows people fewer viral videos.

“In total, we made changes that reduced time spent on Facebook by roughly 50 million hours every day,” Zuckerberg said, in announcing the social media company’s fourth-quarter results that topped Wall Street expectations.

Pressure has been building on Facebook and its CEO as the toxic content flowing through Facebook — violent live videos, fabricated news articles and divisive messages from Russian operatives that rocked the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign — has been blamed for social ills. Facebook is also under fire for exploiting vulnerabilities in human psychology to hook people on social media, hijacking their time and attention and undermining their well-being. In recent months, Facebook has admitted that passive use of Facebook — aimless scrolling through the news feed — can be bad for mental health.

The post STUNNING: Facebook Was Losing 50,000,000 User Hours Every Day — Then Decided to Crackdown on Conservative Content appeared first on The Gateway Pundit.


News – 3/7/2018

New leaks show a three-lens AI camera on Huawei’s upcoming P20 flagship
Huawei will want a win from this phone since it’s had a rough time recently in the US. Its Mate 10 Pro phone entered the market with no carrier partnerships, and the company has been accused of spying for the Chinese government, with the FBI, CIA, and NSA all warning American citizens against using its products.

Liberals are furious as Federal judge in Maryland rules Trump had the right to end DACA in win for administration
A federal judge in Maryland has sided with the Trump administration over a lawsuit challenging the Justice Department’s ability to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Judge Roger W. Titus, a Bush appointee, ruled late Monday President Trump acted within his authority in his plan to rescind an executive order former President Barack Obama announced in 2012 as a way to protect illegal immigrants who were brought to the United States as minors.

Farrakhan Speech: ‘Jews Are My Enemy,’ ‘White Folks Are Going Down’
“Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men,” Farrakhan said in his keynote speech. “White folks are going down.

New Malicious AI Report Outlines Biggest Threats of the Next 5 Years
You could easily, today or in the very near future, create a forgery that might be indistinguishable from the real thing. What would that do to politics? Once the internet is flooded with plausible-seeming tapes and recordings of this sort, how are we going to decide what’s real and what isn’t?

Dems to let same-sex couples buy children
“It is literally the most disturbing bill I’ve seen come before the House Chamber since I’ve been in office. The bill essentially allows for the commercialization of a surrogate woman. In layman’s term, I call it ‘rent a womb.’”

Italy Election Aftermath: Renzi Quits, Center-Left ‘Disappears’
With final results in from Sunday’s national elections in Italy, the depth of the defeat for the left can be fully appreciated with the resignation of the leader of the Democratic Party (PD) and the severely diminished presence of the center-left coalition in Parliament.

Kremlin: Putin, Rouhani and Erdoğan to meet for talks in April
Russian President Vladimir Putin, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Turkish President Tayyip Erdoğan will meet for talks in April, the TASS news agency cited the Kremlin as saying on Wednesday.

How China’s Social Credit Score Will Shape the “Perfect” Citizen
Well imagine if there was a social credit system. But it was the government that used it to decide who could travel, or live in certain apartments. Imagine if your social credit was too low to send your kids to a private school, or get a better job. But what kind of behavior would warrant such a score? China is about to answer all our questions. The country has a pilot program for a social credit system. The government will rate citizens based on how loyal they are to the state. Already almost 10 million Chinese citizens have been blacklisted.

Sessions Punches Back: DOJ to Sue California to Strike Down ‘Sanctuary’ Laws as Unconstitutional
Relying on both federal statutes and the U.S. Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, DOJ will ask the U.S. District Court for the District of Eastern California to issue a preliminary injunction blocking the enforcement of these laws intended to protect illegal aliens by preventing cooperation with federal immigration enforcement. DOJ will also seek declaratory judgement that these laws are unconstitutional – “preempted” by federal immigration law – when it files late Tuesday night.

Papua New Guinea Hit by Powerful Aftershock as Quake’s Toll Mounts
Papua New Guinea, which is still recovering from a deadly earthquake last week, was hit by a powerful aftershock Wednesday that left an estimated 18 people dead or injured, adding to a mounting toll from the quakes, officials said. The exact toll from the magnitude 6.7 aftershock that struck just after midnight was not immediately known, Papua New Guinea’s National Disaster Center said.

Rabbi Yehudah Glick Reads Trump Into Bible
Upon being presented with a coin honoring US President Trump, Rabbi Yehudah Glick, a Knesset Member (Likud) and Temple Mount activist, was so overcome with emotion that he began to recite from the Bible. But the verses he recited, describing the President’s activities, don’t really exist. The rabbi’s recitation was intended to graphically illustrate how the political events surrounding the US Embassy move and the president’s actions bear a striking resemblance to King Cyrus’ actions in the days of Ezra the Scribe and the Second Temple.

Hoping For the Best, Preparing for the Worst: IDF Faces Prospect of War in the North
Israel’s goal of peaceful co-existence with its surrounding neighbors has not prevented the IDF from taking the necessary steps to prepare for a potential war. Tensions have been rising on Israel’s northern borders with Syria and Lebanon over the past few weeks. On February 10, the IDF shot down an Iranian drone, which had entered Israeli airspace in a clear violation of Israel’s sovereignty.

Starfish ‘Armageddon’ as thousands wash up on Ramsgate beach after big freeze
Thousands of dead starfish and other sea creatures have been found on British beaches following a week of snow. The macabre scene in Ramsgate, Kent was said to be “like Armageddon” by one wildlife enthusiast.

As yellow fever spreads toward big cities, Brazil struggles to vaccinate millions
Brazil is fighting to stay ahead of one of its worst epidemics of yellow fever, a sometimes-fatal virus transmitted by Hawmagogus and sabethes mosquitoes and named for the yellowing of the skin and eyes of those infected.

Russian military plane crashes in Syria killing all 32 people on board
A RUSSIAN plane has crashed as it was about to land in Syria killing all 32 people on board, Moscow news agencies said citing Russia’s defence ministry.

Satanists Sue To Stop Pro-Life Law
Satanists are fighting to repeal a Missouri law that informs women an abortion kills a “separate, unique, living human being.”

Deep State Panics: America No Longer Believes Us!
Americans waking up to fake news, propaganda, lies and incompetence peddled by intel community

New Bill Will Force Citizens to Pay and Register With Gov’t to View Porn Online
Residents of Rhode Island will have to register with the state and pay a $20 fee to access sexually explicit content online if a recently proposed bill passes the General Assembly.

Mississippi Senate passes nation’s most restrictive abortion ban
After a heated floor debate, the Senate on Tuesday passed a bill 35-14 to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, bringing the state one step closer to enacting the most restrictive abortion ban in the country.

Alarming Advances Made In Digital Media Manipulation
Forget the idea of “seeing is believing.” New technology is making digital media  manipulation easier than ever. The result? Phony videos that are popping up across the web.

World War III Starts In Syria
Be not deceived. World War III is on our collective doorsteps. China is undoubtedly the biggest warmonger nation in the world. China’s neighbors are so distressed, that they are all taking defensive action with the help of the US military. China is literally antagonizing everyone in Asia. However, China will not start World War III, but they will not hesitate to become the primary facilitator of the coming war after it begins in Syria.

Pope Francis In Chile Placed Crown On Statue Of The ‘Virgin Mary’ And Declared Her Queen Of The Universe
The coronation took place during mass at O’Higgins Park in Santiago, where the tens of thousands in attendance watched Pope Francis place a crown on the head of the Christ child, and then also on the head of Mary.

NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS Are Pushing 9-Year-Old Kids to Join in March 14th Anti-Gun Walkout Protests
Radical leftist groups are organizing massive anti-gun walkout protests on March 14th. The protests are part of a nationwide effort by anti-Trump groups to strip Americans of their right to bear arms.

Racist South African Political Leader Julius Malema: “Go After the White Man… We Are Cutting the Throat of Whiteness”
….On Sunday night Julius Malema called on his followers to go after the white man and cut the throat of whiteness. Julius Malema: Go after a white man… We are cutting the throat of whiteness.”

Nation looking to destroy America wants to save it from guns
The supreme leader of Iran’s totalitarian theocracy, which has been unrelenting in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, is lecturing Americans about handguns and rifles, insisting they shouldn’t be allowed to possess them.

Majority of Italian Youngsters Backed Euroskeptic, Anti-Establishment Parties
Youngsters in Italy voted overwhelmingly in favor of Euroskeptic, anti-mass migration parties in the country’s election on Sunday.

Obama’s UN Ambassador Blames Russia For Italian Election Results If there is a European election, and the anti-establishment parties score a stunning victory (as just happened in Italy, and a few months prior, in Austria), who’re you gonna blame? Vladimir Putin (of course)!


Facebook Was Losing 50,000,000 User Hours Every Day — Then Decided to Crackdown on Conservative Content

The Gateway Pundit

Tech Giants Google and Facebook are currently purging conservative content from Facebook and YouTube — They are hiding conservative stories on Google — They are shadow-banning conservative news on all social media.

View Article


ZeroHedge Frontrunning: March 7

  • Cohn’s Exit Leaves Hard-Liners Ascendant in White House (Read More)
  • Trade skeptics gain upper hand in White House as Cohn quits (Read More)
  • Trump Alienates Allies Needed for a Trade Fight With China (Read More)
  • Wall Street Frets About Losing White House Friends as Cohn Exits (Read More)
  • How the House Could Change Hands (Read More)
  • South Korea’s Moon says sanctions on North to stay, too early to be optimistic (Read More)
  • Kushner to visit Mexico after Trump tirades, testy phone call (Read More)
  • Republicans in tight races embrace gun control (Read More)
  • Banks Look to Break Government’s Hold on Student-Loan Market (Read More)
  • Berlusconi pledges to back League’s Salvini as Italy’s next PM (Read More)
  • Something’s Brewing: Coca-Cola Plans Its First Alcoholic Drink (Read More)
  • Goldman puts London staff on notice for German move by June (Read More)
  • Wells Fargo Is the Go-To Bank for Gunmakers and the NRA (Read More)
  • Broadcom Pledges $1.5 Billion U.S. Investment to Ease Regulatory Scrutiny (Read More)
  • America Is Giving Away the $30 Billion Medical Marijuana Industry (Read More)
  • How to Gain Power at Work When You Have None (Read More)
  • Exxon sees earnings doubling by 2025 at current oil prices (Read More)
  • Where Will Apple Put Its Fourth U.S. Campus? (Read More)
  • Sri Lanka blocks social media as Buddhist mobs attack mosques (Read More)

Headlines – 3/7/2018

PM Netanyahu says visiting US now better after Jerusalem recognition

UN Ambassador Haley: ‘Jerusalem will always be capital of Israel’

Palestinians pan Guatemala’s ‘dangerous and provocative’ embassy move

U.N. obstructs Israeli-Palestinian peace, US Ambassador Haley says

‘Dangerous’ to suggest Israel doesn’t want peace, US envoy says in J Street dig

US sees ‘good chance’ for peace between Israelis, Palestinians

Peace ‘requires compromise,’ Pence says at AIPAC

Echoing settler leader, Likud MKs blast AIPAC’s two-state support

AIPAC rekindles old debate: Does Israel seek a two-state solution?

Netanyahu: The two-state idea does not work

As US and Israel move right, settlers reassess relationship with AIPAC

Schumer: Settlements not an obstacle to peace

Zarif says Israeli occupation of Palestine will not last long

Trump pushing Palestinians like cows led to slaughter, top PA official says accusing Palestinians of walking away from negotiating table

Abbas advisor: ‘We did not run away from negotiations’

Who is Mahmoud al-Aloul, touted as Abbas’s possible heir?

Netanyahu’s showmanship abroad won’t save him at home

As government crisis mounts, minister said to claim PM wants early elections

Netanyahu denies leveraging draft bill crisis to call elections

Iran: We can resume uranium enrichment in less than 2 days

PM Netanyahu says most pressing danger is ‘radical, tyrannical’ Iran

Netanyahu vows ‘we will stop’ dark Iranian empire

Netanyahu attacks Iran and says Trump still set to abandon nuclear deal

Iran dismisses Netanyahu’s barbs, say ‘Israeli occupation’ behind problems in the Mid-East

GOC Southern Command: Hamas getting closer to Iran, Hezbollah

At Hezbollah event, Fatah official urges dialogue with Iran

Palestinians increase payments to terrorists to $403 million

Israeli Parliament votes to slash PA funds over terror payments

Israeli official bets advances in anti-tunnel technology will secure Gaza border

Caroline Glick: Trump’s Urgent Lebanon Problem

Kremlin: Only int’l body can rule if chemical weapons used in Syria

Russia suspected of using ‘dumb’ bombs to shift blame for Syria war crimes

Russian military plane crash in Syria kills dozens

UN: Russia and US air strikes caused mass civilian deaths in Syria

UN chief urges Syria parties to begin cease-fire

UNICEF: At least 1,000 children killed across Syria this year

Civilian death toll in Syria’s Ghouta rises to 800

80 killed in Syria’s Ghouta; shelling and airstrikes intensify despite UN ceasefire

Syria war: ‘Chlorine attack’ on besieged Eastern Ghouta

‘People are angry’: aid trucks forced to flee eastern Ghouta without unloading

Turkey to set up camps for 170,000 people near Syria’s Idlib

British MPs ask Egypt for access to jailed ex-president over health concerns

Sri Lanka declares state of emergency after increase in attacks against Muslims

US finds North Korea killed Kim’s brother with VX agent

Cautious Trump sees ‘possible progress’ with North Korea

North Korea says it’s willing to hold talks with US and halt nuclear pursuit while negotiations last: South Korea

Is North Korea’s nuclear disarmament offer too good to be true?

Trump credits ‘biting’ U.S. sanctions for progress on North Korea

S. Korea president: ‘Too early to be optimistic’ on North

U.S. plans to continue military drills near North Korea

Belgium distributes iodine pills in case of nuclear accident

China Spends More on Domestic Security as Xi’s Powers Grow

U.S. Considers Broad Curbs on Chinese Imports, Takeovers

Britain Vows Response if Russia Is Behind Ex-Spy’s Collapse

Intelligence boss: US to issue more sanctions on Russia

Trump vows to counteract any Russian meddling in November elections

Porn star Stormy Daniels files lawsuit against Trump, alleging ‘hush’ agreement invalid

Trump DOJ sues California over ‘interference’ with immigration enforcement

Trump on turbulence in the West Wing: ‘I like conflict’

Gary Cohn resigns as Trump’s top economic advisor over tariffs on steel and aluminum imports

Wall Street prepares for ugly sell-off after Cohn’s resignation. It’s about more than trade.

Global stocks slump as key Trump adviser quits, stoking trade war fears

Ron Paul warns that market dangers are ‘bigger than ever,’ even if Trump backs away from tariff threat

42% of Americans are at risk of retiring broke

Trump to meet with video game industry over violence

George Soros denies funding students’ gun control fight

Police: Teen attempted to detonate explosive device at Pine View, researched ISIS

Conspiracy theorists accused of harassing pastor at Texas church where mass shooting occurred

Driverless Cars May Soon Feature This Laser Technology To See Around Corners

White House Wants Agents to Be Able to Down Civilian Drones

White House Drafting Bill Against Hostile Drones

Google Is Helping the Pentagon Build AI for Drones

Google’s military work reverses one of its oldest values – and it could jeopardize the company’s biggest asset

Alarming Advances Made In Digital Media Manipulation

The FCC’s Net Neutrality Repeal: The End Of The Internet Or A Path To A Legislative Compromise?

BlackBerry weaponizes instant messaging patents, sues Facebook

Asteroid that could be as big as Empire State Building will fly past Earth tonight. Here’s how to see it

A Must See Sky Show: Saturn, Mars, And Jupiter To Align This Week

At Least 18 Killed as Second Earthquake Strikes Papua New Guinea

6.7 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

5.8 magnitude earthquake hits near East of the Kuril Islands

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Visokoi Island, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Porgera, Papua New Guinea

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Mendi, Papua New Guinea

Popocatepl volcano in Mexico erupts to 24,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 17,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 13,000ft

Japanese Volcano Erupts, Dozens of Flights Grounded

Puerto Ricans still stranded in hotels 6 months after Hurricane Maria

Huge 30ft Waves Slam Into Puerto Rico, Force Evacuations

Another Nor’easter heads for East Coast, but no one knows precisely where it will hit

Gale-force winds cause airport roof to collapse in China

Heavy rainfall leads to extreme flooding in Queensland, Australia

How dirty politics and attacking Israel worsened South Africa’s dangerous water-shortage crisis

Genetic tweak makes plants use 25% less water

At least 78 dead in Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria

Cheerleaders from 29 states possibly exposed to mumps at NCA competition in Dallas

Common ‘Superbug’ Found to Disguise Resistance to Potent Antibiotic

ER visits for opioid overdose up 30%, CDC study finds

Xanax: The anxiety drug putting lives at risk

Mississippi Senate passes nation’s most restrictive abortion ban, clinic plans to sue

Wednesday 3-7-18 Apostasy Watch Headlines

Take The Catchers Away!

How abandoning Sola Scriptura shipwrecks your faith

‘Pope Francis’ Decrees New Feast Day on Liturgical Calendar for Mary, ‘Mother of the Church’

Conspiracy Theorists Arrested After Threatening Pastor at Texas Church Where Mass Shooting Occurred

Woman who spent $1.1 million of Texas Church’s money on cars, handbags, dog spa, gets 3 plus years

As More Christians Are Killed in Somalia, Number of Orphans Grows

Muslim Mob Injures Christians During Attack on Church Worship Service in Pakistan

Local Pennsylvania Bridal Shop Harassed and Threatened By LGBT Activists After Turning Away Same Sex Couple

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 02:07 PM PST

Local Pennsylvania Bridal Shop Harassed and Threatened By LGBT Activists After Turning Away Same Sex CoupleIn July of 2017, a local bridal shop in Pennsylvania received threatening voicemails from LGBT activists, after a same-sex couple was denied service because it violated the shop owners moral obligation to uphold Christian values.  Similar organizations have fallen victim to the viciousness of the LGBT supposedly tolerant community. Posted on the Bridal shop’s Facebook page were two voicemails

which they received.  According to the description of the encounter, these are not the only voicemails received by the bridal shop, in fact, other, similar threatening voicemails have been received, except they are typically anonymous. The Christian Journal has reached out for commentary, and details of what took place surrounding the incident. READ MORE

Extreme cold results in severe agricultural damage across Europe, food prices rising

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 02:03 PM PST

Extreme cold results in severe agricultural damage across Europe, food prices risingRecord-breaking cold temperatures that hit Europe just before the start of 2018 meteorological spring, claiming lives of at least 50 people, are also responsible for severe agricultural damage. While the full extent of the damage won’t be clear for quite some time, severe damage is already evident and some food prices have already gone up.  A prolonged period of extremely cold temperatures, accompanied by icy rain and snow that hit Europe after unusually warm January and February claimed lives of at least

50 people and caused severe agricultural damage across the continent. While it’s too early to know the full extent of the damage at this time, European farmers say many cultures were almost in bloom and ready for spring before extremely cold temperatures arrived. Prolonged below freezing temperatures were latter accompanied by freezing rain and snow, accumulating damage with each passing day and forcing farmers to increase their food prices. READ MORE

Strong magnitude 6.7 aftershock strikes Papua New Guinea

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 01:58 PM PST

Strong magnitude 6.7 aftershock strikes Papua New GuineaA strong and shallow earthquake registered by the USGS as M6.7 hit Papua New Guinea at 14:13 UTC on March 6, 2018. The agency is reporting a depth of 22.9 km (14.2 miles). Geoscience Australia is reporting M6.8 at a depth of 0 km. This is the strongest aftershock to hit the region since the massive M7.5 earthquake on February 25, 2018.  According to the USGS, the epicenter of today’s M6.7 was located 56.5 km (35.1 miles) SW of Tari (population 8 186), 116.8 km (72.6 miles) W of Mendi

(population 26 252), and 147.4 km (91.6 miles) E of Kiunga (population 11 536). The USGS issued a green alert for shaking-related fatalities and economic losses. There is a low likelihood of casualties and damage. Overall, the population in this region resides in structures that are vulnerable to earthquake shaking, though resistant structures exist. The predominant vulnerable building types are unreinforced brick with concrete floor and precast concrete frame with wall construction. READ MORE

London Closes 500 Churches; Opens 423 New Mosques

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 01:53 PM PST

London Closes 500 Churches; Opens 423 New MosquesThe creeping Islamization of London is almost complete, with hundreds of official sharia courts operating in the capital, and mosques opening where famous Christian churches have stood for many hundreds of years. “London is more Islamic than many Muslim countries put together“, according to Maulana Syed Raza Rizvi, one of the Islamic preachers who now lead “Londonistan“, as the journalist Melanie Phillips has called the English capital. No, Rizvi is not a right-wing extremist.

Nobel Laureate for Literature,Wole Soyinka, was less generous. He called the UK “a cesspit for Islamists“. “Terrorists can not stand London multiculturalism“, London’s mayor Sadiq Khan said after the deadly terror attack at Westminster last year. The opposite is true: British multiculturalists are feeding Islamic fundamentalism. READ MORE

Thousands More Stores Are On The 2018 Retail Apocalypse Death List

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 05:58 AM PST

Thousands More Stores Are On The 2018 Retail Apocalypse Death ListEvery year, it seems like more and more retail outlets are going out of business, resulting in the loss of jobs and local supplies. Last year, hundreds of stores closed, and this year, even more shops are scheduled to shut their doors for good.  The 2018 Death List This year, in an effort to save their businesses, the following retailers will close hundreds of their stores, according to Fox Business.

– Abercrombie & Fitch: 60 more stores are charted to close
– Aerosoles: Only 4 of their 88 stores are definitely remaining open
– American Apparel: They’ve filed for bankruptcy and all their stores have closed (or will soon)
– BCBG: 118 stores have closed
– Bebe: Bebe is history and all 168 stores have closed
– Bon-Ton: They’ve filed for Chapter 11 and will be closing 48 stores.
– The Children’s Place: They plan to close hundreds of stores by 2020 and are going digital.
– CVS: They closed 70 stores but thousands still remain viable.
– Foot Locker: They’re closing 110 underperforming stores shortly.
– Guess: 60 stores will bite the dust this year.
– Gymboree: A whopping 350 stores will close their doors for good this year
– HHGregg: All 220 stores will be closed this year after the company filed for bankruptcy.
– J. Crew: They’ll be closing 50 stores instead of the original 20 they had announced.
– J.C. Penney: They’ve closed 138 stores and plan to turn all the remaining ones into toy stores.
– The Limited: All 250 retail locations have been closed and they’ve gone digital in an effort to remain in business.
– Macy’s: 7 more stores will soon close and more than 5000 employees will be laid off.
– Michael Kors: They’ll close 125 stores this year.
– Payless: They’ll be closing a whopping 800 stores this year after recently filing for bankruptcy.
– Radio Shack: More than 1000 stores have been shut down this year, leaving them with only 70 stores nationwide.
– Rue 21: They’ll be closing 400 stores this year.
– Sears/Kmart: They’ve closed over 300 locations.
– ToysRUs: They’ve filed for bankruptcy but at this point, have not announced store closures, and have in fact, stated their stores will remain open.
– Wet Seal: This place is history – all 171 stores will soon be closed.

And these are just the people who have announced store closures so far. In an environment hostile to brick and mortar businesses, more are sure to come. FULL REPORT

 

 

Has The King Of The East Now Taken His Throne?

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 05:52 AM PST

Has The King Of The East Now Taken His Throne?It was a bland, bureaucratic statement—but its implications could be profound. In late February, China’s Communist Party announced a proposal to abolish term limits for its highest office. The party hasn’t made a final decision, but the news seemed to confirm what many have long suspected: Xi Jinping, the country’s leader, wants to be president for life. The announcement wasn’t surprising, but many didn’t expect it to come so soon. Aside from being president, Xi is also the general secretary of the Communist Party and commander in chief of the country’s armed forces. The term limits on his

presidency effectively constrain his ability to hold the other two jobs. Since Xi took office in March 2013, he’s been consumed with his fight against corruption. This battle is basically a proxy for him and his allies to consolidate control over the highest levels of the party, as well as big state-owned companies. In Chinese politics, personal rivalries and differing agendas are rarely visible to the outside world. So many had assumed Xi’s fight was still ongoing, given how deeply entrenched corruption is in China. If the party does decide to end term limits for president, it could have major implications for the nation—and the world. Domestically, it would rupture what has been a stable system of succession. READ MORE

Guatemala to Celebrate Israel’s 70th Birthday with Jerusalem Embassy Move

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 05:50 AM PST

Guatemala to Celebrate Israel’s 70th Birthday with Jerusalem Embassy MoveGuatemalan President Jimmy Morales announced to thousands of Israel supporters in Washington that his nation will join the United States in moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in May to coincide with Israel’s 70th anniversary. Last year, Morales announced it would follow the U.S. in moving its embassy, and in a speech Sunday before the annual AIPAC Policy Conference, he said the

move will happen as Israel celebrates its founding. “In May of this year, we will celebrate Israel’s 70th anniversary, and under my instructions two days after the US will move its embassy, Guatemala will return and permanently move its embassy to Jerusalem,” Morales said. Morales, an evangelical Christian, thanked President Trump for his leadership in declaring that the US Embassy would move. “His courageous decision has encouraged us to do what is right,” Morales explained. READ MORE

Man declared dead ‘wakes up moments before autopsy’

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 05:46 AM PST

Man declared dead ‘wakes up moments before autopsy’A man who ‘died’ in a car crash in India reportedly woke up just moments before his autopsy.  The autopsy was just about to begin on Himanshu Bharadwaj, who had been pronounced dead by doctors, before a pathologist detected a pulse.  Bharadwaj had been seriously injured in a car accident. After his condition worsened in hospital, he was first declared brain dead and then medically dead. He was kept in the mortuary overnight before the planned post-mortem, reports Daily Bhaskar. Dr C Gedam of the Chhindwara District Hospital said the man continues to be brain dead and still needs treatment, telling News 18:

The man was declared brain dead and upon his arrival at Chhindwara hospital his respiration was dysfunctional and the pulse was also missing. However, his respiratory organs began responding this morning. At times, in brain-dead patients, the heart and the respiratory system stop functioning transiently, which seems to be the case here. Himanshu is still brain dead. Thus, we have referred him to Nagpur due to lack of sufficient facilities locally. READ MORE

DEVELOPING: Yellow fever spreads in Brazil, Government struggles to vaccinate millions…

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 05:41 AM PST

DEVELOPING: Yellow fever spreads in Brazil, Government struggles to vaccinate millions…With air mattresses and beach chairs tucked under their arms, they began arriving as early as midnight, lining up down the sidewalk and around the corner in downtown Sao Paulo, Brazil. “Make sure you have your vaccination card and your number in hand,” a public health clinic worker shouted to those lucky enough to have one of the 300 numbers that would allow them to receive a full dose of the yellow fever vaccine, good for a lifetime. “If you’re not here when your number is called, you’ll lose your place in line!”Brazil is fighting to stay ahead of one of its worst epidemics of yellow fever, a

sometimes-fatal virus transmitted by Haemagogus and Sabethes mosquitoes and named for the yellowing of the skin and eyes of those infected. Though the surge has largely been in rural areas, there is increasing concern that if people don’t get the vaccine, the virus could spread into the country’s biggest cities. Those lined up on the January morning in Sao Paulo were also racing against the clock. The Brazilian government, faced with the task of vaccinating millions as quickly as possible, READ MORE

US deploys missiles just miles from Russia border

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 05:36 AM PST

US deploys missiles just miles from Russia borderUS President Donald Trump deployed the defensive devices just 60 miles away from the border. Head of Russia’s defense committee – Vladimir Shamanov – said the country was set to do the same in response. He said: “This situation is, of course, under control, and mirror measures have been undertaken or would be undertaken without delay.” Shamanov added: “The threats are high. Given the

short flight-in time, they [the US] make us address certain tasks, some of which have been settled, but some are still due. “Of course, it is a difference when they [anti-missiles] were a thousand kilometers away, and it is different when they are hundreds of kilometres away.” At the weekend it emerged the US had deployed more than 400 anti-missiles targeted on Russia. READ MORE

How Amos’ Prophecies Are Springing to Life in Israel Right Now

Posted: 06 Mar 2018 05:31 AM PST

How Amos’ Prophecies Are Springing to Life in Israel Right NowFood, a basic need, holds the essence of who we are as people. Food and drink bring us together, define cultures, engages and inspire us across all spectrums of life. But food indeed goes far beyond our basic needs. It connects us to people, places, experiences and memories and has the power to elevate a mere morsel to a time-honored traditional family dish. Food and wine have always played an important role in the history of mankind; religious elements, celebrations and are even enjoyed for health benefits.

But have you ever thought about the spirituality of food and wine and how they relate to a life of biblical faith? In Christianity, this may be a new thought. In Judaism, there would be no Jewish faith without food and wine, as it plays a central role in the weekly and annual biblical celebrations. Food and wine are spiritual elements first rooted deep in the soil of Israel. From the time of Abraham, food and wine have played an integral role in covenants and Temple offerings. The Bible prophesies about food and wine with the foretaste of what’s to come from Isa. 25:6: “The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on the mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine.” READ MORE


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‘Pope Francis’ Decrees New Feast Day on Liturgical Calendar for Mary, ‘Mother of the Church’

(Christian News Network) Roman Catholic leader Jorge Bergoglio, also known as “Pope Francis,” has decreed that a new feast day be added to the liturgical calendar to honor Mary, called “Mother of the Church.” The announcement has been deemed unbiblical as the Catholic Church continues to place inordinate emphasis on Mary.

The Vatican announced the decree on Saturday, noting that the new Roman Catholic holiday will be observed every year on the Monday after Pentecost. This year, the occasion will fall on May 21.

“Having attentively considered how greatly the promotion of this devotion might encourage the growth of the maternal sense of the Church in the pastors, religious and faithful, as well as a growth of genuine Marian piety, Pope Francis has decreed that the memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, should be inscribed in the Roman Calendar on the Monday after Pentecost and be now celebrated every year,” reads the decree, signed by Robert Sarah, prefect, and Arthur Roche, archbishop.

“This celebration will help us to remember that growth in the Christian life must be anchored to the mystery of the cross, to the oblation of Christ in the eucharistic banquet and to the mother of the Redeemer and mother of the redeemed, the virgin who makes her offering to God,” it states.

The decree outlines that historic Roman Catholic figures—from Augustine to Paul VI—have endowed Mary with various titles, and claims that as Jesus asked his disciple, John, to look after His earthly mother in His physical absence, it signified that Mary was to be a subject of affection for all of Christ’s followers.

“Indeed, the mother standing beneath the cross (Jn. 19:25), accepted her Son’s testament of love and welcomed all people in the person of the beloved disciple as sons and daughters to be reborn unto life eternal. She thus became the tender mother of the Church which Christ begot on the cross handing on the Spirit,” the decree asserts. “Christ, in turn, in the beloved disciple, chose all disciples as ministers of his love towards His mother, entrusting her to them so that they might welcome her with filial affection.” View article →

See our Research Paper on the Roman Catholic Church

Source: ‘Pope Francis’ Decrees New Feast Day on Liturgical Calendar for Mary, ‘Mother of the Church’

Will We Be Finally “Saved” By Faith Alone (Sola Fide)?

The Scriptures simply do not support the inference that there are two stages of salvation and that our putative “future salvation” is contingent upon sanctification. Saying that our future sanctification is “decisively” wrought by God does not alleviate the problem. The whole construct rests on the premise that so long as we assert divine sovereignty we may say, more or less, whatever we please. This is the theological corollary of the “God-of-the-gaps” science or occasionalism. We explain what we can and what we cannot we attribute to God. In his reliance on a “two-stage” construct we see the lingering influence of Daniel Fuller and in this sort of appeal to divine sovereignty we may see the influence of Jonathan Edwards. In any event, it remains unhelpful.

Summary
In a post dated March 2, 2018 one of the principal leaders of the self-described “Young, Restless, and Reformed” movement, John Piper, restates his view that there are two-stages of salvation, that our initial justification is by grace alone (sola gratia) through faith alone (sola fide) on the basis of the imputed righteousness of Christ but that there is yet another stage, a final stage of salvation and to reach that stage faith is not enough. He argues that salvation and justification are distinct, that they should not be confused because salvation refers to a process but justification does not. Further, he reminds us that the Westminster Confession 11.2 says,

2. Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet is it not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, and is no dead faith, but worketh by love.

He quite rightly notes that the Confession alludes here to Galatians 5:6 and further that James 2:17 requires good works of believers, that such good works are necessary and that “without holiness” no one will see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14). He says that “[o]bedience and love are the necessary confirmations” of true faith and union with Christ. He concludes his summary by saying, “We are not justified through sanctification….But we are finally saved through sanctification.”

He rejects the inference that his formulation has made salvation contingent upon our obedience and thus destroyed assurance of faith. For Piper, because God is sovereignly working sanctification in us, because he is the “decisive worker,” we should speak of it as the instrument of final salvation. Our assurance, he concludes rests “on God’s past work by Christ” and “his future work by the Spirit in us.”

Responses
This is better than some things that he has written on this topic but his formulations remain problematic. I have addressed this topic at length and repeatedly and thus will not repeat all that material in this response but here is a resource page.

The first remaining problem is the tw0-stage structure of his soteriology (doctrine of salvation). He is right to say that salvation is a process but his doctrine of “future grace” or future salvation “through sanctification” is mistaken. One notes that he does not engage Ephesians 2:8–10. On this see the resource page. His doctrine of future salvation through sanctification cannot be squared with Ephesians 2. Further, it is at odds with the paradigmatic biblical image of salvation: the salvation of God’s helpless and hopeless people from Egypt. There were not two stages of salvation at the Red Sea—in Belgic Confession art. 34 the Reformed confess that the “Son of God is our Red Sea, through which we must pass to escape the tyranny of Pharaoh, who is the devil, and to enter the spiritual land of Canaan.”

The Scriptures simply do not support the inference that there are two stages of salvation and that our putative “future salvation” is contingent upon sanctification. Saying that our future sanctification is “decisively” wrought by God does not alleviate the problem. The whole construct rests on the premise that so long as we assert divine sovereignty we may say, more or less, whatever we please. This is the theological corollary of the “God-of-the-gaps” science or occasionalism. We explain what we can and what we cannot we attribute to God. In his reliance on a “two-stage” construct we see the lingering influence of Daniel Fuller and in this sort of appeal to divine sovereignty we may see the influence of Jonathan Edwards. In any event, it remains unhelpful.

Any doctrine of a “two-stage” salvation necessarily negates his affirmation of justification (in this life) sola gratiaSola fide. It means that we only initially justified by grace alone, through faith alone, but ultimately, finally, saved “through sanctification.” This approach makes Christ, in the words of the Belgic Confession and the Heidelberg Catechism, but half a Savior. It reduces him to a facilitator of salvation. He has not actually accomplished and applied it.

Read More

The post Will We Be Finally “Saved” By Faith Alone (Sola Fide)? appeared first on The Aquila Report.

Five Ways Exercise Can Become an Idol

Last summer I got a gym membership, and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I knew it was good because exercise is good; now I’ve never been stronger or felt better. But in another, more subtle sense, getting a gym membership was dangerous—

It exposed obsessive tendencies in my heart to idolize exercise.

Like food, family, or sex, exercise is a physical, embodied gift from God that should be used to worship him. But just like food, family, and sex, it can be worshiped. What’s the difference? And how do we embrace this gift without elevating it as a god?

Exercise as Worship

Exercise is fundamentally and foundationally good. God created humans to move—to walk, work, run, dance, clap, stomp, skip, jump. And for most of history, exercise and movement were baked into the fabric of human society. Standing desks and 7-minute workouts would have been inconceivable to agrarian or pre-automotive societies.

No one had to be told to exercise. It was simply ingrained.

Of course, our way of life in a technology-advanced, desk-dominated culture is different. We have more freedom to be lazy and undisciplined. For most of us, exercise takes work—hard work. Because we’re focused on its difficulty and lack of fun, we’re often not intentional about worshiping through exercise. But this is missing a critical opportunity for the child of God. If our lives are meant to be marked and motivated by worship, exercise can be an act of joyful surrender and praise to God.

Exercise with Stewardship and Thanksgiving

The central way we worship through exercise is by good stewardship. We recognize that our body is not our own, and then we reflect praise to our Creator by stewarding this body well. The apostle Paul tells us this in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20: “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”

We also worship through exercise by receiving it with thankfulness (1 Timothy 4:4). Many of us take for granted that we can walk 30 minutes or run down the street. As a child, I had severe asthma, which kept me from running or intense exercise. (I still remember having an asthma attack during a school sports day.) By the grace of God, that asthma has almost disappeared, and I’m able to run and exercise more strenuously. That is a blessing. Yet I can often forget this and consider exercise a curse when it’s a marvelous gift.

Five Ways Exercise Can Become an Idol

Like so many good gifts, exercise can reveal ugly, unfaithful tendencies in our hearts that lead to idolatry. Instead of exercising as worship, we begin to worship exercise. Exercise can morph into an altar of false devotion to achieve a personal sense of self-fulfillment. We think that if we sacrifice for and serve it consistently, we’ll get what we want.


Instead of exercising as worship, we begin to worship exercise.
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But the Bible repeatedly warns Christians of the perils of seeking fulfillment and delight in any good gift instead of its Giver. The Bible tells us to flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14) and guard ourselves against it (1 John 5:21). But first we have to understand how and when exercise becomes idolatrous.

1. When exercise is about physical perfection

The contemporary fitness industry has created a system where exercise is motivated by body-shame and self-loathing. Retouched magazine covers, models, and movies all subversively convince us that the goal of exercise is physical perfection, not health. If it doesn’t matter to us if we’re getting stronger and feeling better; if we’re relentlessly dissatisfied with our stomach or arms; if we hate our bodies, and we’re exercising only to achieve cultural standards of beauty, exercise has become an idol.

2. When exercise is about comparison

Body-shame is frequently fueled by comparing ourselves to others (often the beautiful people we see on screens, but also people we meet regularly). We envy them. So we might force ourselves to exercise just to look like them. Sure, being motivated by someone else’s health and fitness accomplishments isn’t bad, but when comparison itself is our motivation, we’ve entered into idolatry.

3. When exercise is about control

Like food or sex, exercise is easy to weaponize and wield over us. Most of us love control, yet realistically feel the painful lack of control we have over the majority of our lives. Exercise is an area we can over-invest in and abuse to feel powerful and trust in our strength. All of us crave sovereignty, and if we exercise to achieve that, we’re seeking to play God over our health: that’s idolatry.

4. When exercise is about punishment

Exercise can also become idolatrous when we use it as punishment instead of self-discipline. Pushing our bodies, denying them, stretching them even when they don’t feel like it can be good. But doing that out of self-hatred and despair is unhealthy and ungodly. If you despise your body, you’re still thinking too much of it and thus, in a twisted way, worshiping it.

5. When exercise is slavery

Ultimately, when you are enslaved to exercise, you are worshiping it. If you feel compelled to exercise every day without rest; if you exercise at the expense of relationships with your family or friends; if you invest outrageous amounts of money in exercise; if exercise is constantly on your mind; if you feel self-righteous because you exercise; if exercise is your life, it’s idolatry.

Jesus Died for Idolaters

I am guilty of idolizing exercise. And I know that idolaters are worthy of the severest punishment: death (Revelation 21:8). But there was One who willingly, lovingly laid down his life for idolaters (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). The One against whom idolatry is an affront died for his idolatrous enemies (Romans 5:10). Jesus Christ, the only human who was perfectly faithful and never idolized, gave his life so that any idolater who repents and trusts in him will receive forgiveness and eternal life.

So when I go the gym this week, I’m going to preach this gospel to myself:

  • Instead of being driven by my physical imperfections, I’m going to be thankful for my body.
  • Instead of comparing myself to the women around me, I’m going to be thankful for the ability to exercise my body.
  • Instead of wielding exercising as a weapon to gain control over my life, I’m going to be thankful for God’s sovereignty and loving care over my circumstances.
  • Instead of using exercise to punish my body in shame, I’m going to be thankful for my eternal identity as a child of God.
  • Instead of giving into the slavery of idolizing exercise, I’m going to be thankful for the freedom I have in Christ.

And I’m going to worship my Savior and Rescuer through it as a gift.

[Photo Credit: Lightstock]

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The post Five Ways Exercise Can Become an Idol appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Paul Washer Nails It on Young, Restless and Reformed

As you know, we at Pulpit & Pen are greatly concerned about the advance of New Calvinism, also known as the Young, Restless an Reformed (YRR). While most, but not all, writers at Pulpit & Pen are Reformed and Calvinistic Baptists, we are very cautious regarding the recent movement of young people to a type or kind of Calvinism that is rather new. I explained the difference between historic Reformed theology and New Calvinism at last year’s Judge Not Conference, and you can see my explanation of New Calvinism here.

Chiefly, New Calvinism is Continuationist in theology and Charismatic in practice, suffers from post-millennial, culture-conquering and social justice mission drift, and is overly concerned with fads and coolness. Finally, New Calvinism shuns piety and devalues personal holiness.

Eight years ago, Paul Washer was asked about the dangers of the YRR Movement (the concept then was still very much new) and he absolutely hit the nail on the head. You can watch the video below.

Rome’s ‘Tyrannical Distortion’ (Murray)

The Reformed Reader

 The Roman Catholic Church neither believes nor teaches that Scripture is the highest authority and only source of inspired and infallible truth for God’s people. In other words, they do not teach or believe “sola Scriptura.”  In fact, at the Second Vatican Council, Rome said that “…it is not from sacred Scripture alone that the Church draws her certainty about everything that has been revealed.  Therefore both sacred tradition and sacred Scripture are to be accepted and venerated with the same sense of devotion and reverence.”  Along with Scripture and Tradition, Rome also says that the decrees of the Pope are infallible and must be revered and obeyed: “In virtue of his office, the Roman Pontiff…enjoys infallibility when he makes a definitive pronouncement of doctrine on faith or morals….”

For those of us in Protestant and Reformation circles, this teaching is absolutely unbiblical and terribly repulsive in many ways.  When…

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Biblical Thoughts on Billy Graham

The Domain for Truth

Billy

The focus of this post is not for the purpose of debating the salvation of Billy Graham or the success he garnered, but a post to bring another perspective concerning the dangerous pitfalls of ecumenism (*[for this context] “an ideology that desires unity among all Christian (and those who claim to be “Christian”) churches or denominations with opposing views) that flew under Biblical scrutiny. The meandering/liberal seductions have caused evangelicals to undermine the authority of Christian belief and practice. The problem is that Graham was charitable to Roman Catholicism (*RCC believes justification by works, sacraments, the idolatry of Mary, mass, purgatory) and liberal (*did not believe all Scripture to be the authoritative Word of God, denied penal, substitutionary atonement) Protestant churches. Let me be clear, it is different when you invite unbelievers to attend the crusade with the intention of being saved. But it is a different story when you…

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March 7, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

14:14 The woman apparently meant to suggest that, like water spilled on the ground, what was past (i.e., the death of Amnon) could not be gathered up again, so why dwell on that. Possibly also, that life is too short to be wasted in a prolonged quarrel. The last part of verse 14 seems to mean that God does not immediately destroy an offender (as David should well know) but … devises means by which the sinner might be forgiven and restored. If God acts in this manner, why should not the king do so too?[1]


14:14For we will surely die: The woman may be referring to Amnon (13:28–33). Amnon was dead, and no amount of punishment against Absalom would bring him back to life. God does not take away a life: God’s will is to forgive sinners. The divine example is set in significant contrast with David, who had refused to forgive his son Absalom.[2]


14:14 like water spilled on the ground. I.e., death is irreversible. God does not take away life. The woman stated that since God acts according to the dictates of mercy, as in David’s own experience (12:13), David was obligated to do likewise.[3]


14:14for a banished person not The woman appeals to God’s actions in order to prompt the king to respond accordingly in the case of Absalom.[4]


14:14 God will not take away life, and he devises means. The woman seems to mean that God does not desire to take away lives, but is ready to see the banishment ended. Some translations read that “God will not take away the life of someone who arranges for a banishment to end.”[5]


14:14 This crafty woman recruited by Joab provided a superb analysis of the brevity of life and the finality of death, representing life as water poured out on the ground. She also reminded David of God’s mercies, which caused God to develop means for the restoration of errant and wayward men. The idea is that the brevity of life makes it important for David to exercise mercy.[6]


14:14 The woman also appealed to God’s grace. The Lord takes sin seriously, but he also tries to restore the one banished from him.[7]


[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 338). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 409). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (2 Sa 14:14). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (2 Sa 14:14). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[5] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 446). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

[6] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., 2 Sa 14:14). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Beyer, B. E. (2017). 2 Samuel. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 480). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

How abandoning Sola Scriptura shipwrecks your faith

(Amy Spreeman – Berean Research) What is the difference between the spiritual transformation that happens through the Holy Spirit, and the Spiritual Formation movement that swept through our churches a few years ago?

The difference is night and day. I remember talking about this with the late Ken Silva in 2012. He helped me understand that the Spiritual Formation movement provided the platform and a channel through which mystical practices began entering many different evangelical and traditional denominations.

Unfortunately, this type of experience has moved many believers into an unbiblical, mystical form of Christianity. It’s based on the premise that if we do certain meditative practices and ancient rituals, we can be more like Jesus and find God within ourselves.

Following along the wide path away from Sola Sciptura are those who’ve been soaked by the Latter Rain movement, which shape-shifted into the New Apostolic Reformation(NAR), or Prophets and Apostles movement. Like the Emergents, these folks will tell you that the Bible is nice, but God wants you to know Him on a more intimate level. And He wants you focused not on a bloody cross, or sin, or the resurrection, but on living your wild, big, unordinary dreams for Him. View article →

See our Research Paper on Spiritual Formation

Related:

Sola Scripture Our Only Foundation

Source: How abandoning Sola Scriptura shipwrecks your faith

Herescope: Another Jesus Part 3

Read Part 1
Read Part 2

“For many shall come in My name,
saying, 
I am Christ;
and shall deceive many.”
(Matthew 24:5)
A Report by Barbara Wilhelm

JESUS CALLING
SCRIPTURAL BASIS FOR ANALYSIS
As always, the Word of God is to be the foundation of our discussion. In addition, it is often necessary to dig deeper into the essence of a Word in a verse to truly understand what the Lord is trying to convey. Before we can get a fuller grasp of the errors in Jesus Calling we need to first look at the command of “proving” and what it entails.

1 Thessalonians 5:21(KJV):
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. 

Prove is a metallurgical term wherein a test is performed to assay the purity of a stone. Iron pyrite’s metallic luster and pale brass-yellow hue give it a superficial resemblance to gold. But it is not gold; it merely appears to be gold. This brings to mind the saying, “If it looks so good, how can it be deception?” Iron pyrite can look even better than gold because it shimmers and shines so brightly. But it is all superficial. That is the exact reason why we use the Bible to “prove” all things. The Bible does not appeal to our senses and emotions. The only standard of truth is the Word of God. Since the Bible cannot be added to or subtracted from, one of its characteristics is that any time someone proposes any kind of teaching, it must be substantiated by the already written Word of God. Jude 3 stresses the permanence and unchangeableness of God’s Word:

3 Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 

As we continue with our study of both God Calling and Jesus Calling it will become apparent that both these books have extrabiblical meanings; they offer teachings not at all contained in the Word of God.

MY TESTIMONY WITH JESUS CALLING 
My husband John and I did not come to know the Lord until we were in our late thirties and our children Tracy and John were 12 and 10, respectively. For that reason we brought a lot of unclean “baggage” into our Christian walk in the forms of books, games, etc. One night I had a dream of a bathtub seemingly filled with an innocent liquid. It was, however, filled with a caustic solution of lye that would have horribly burned or scarred anyone who put even their “little pinky toe” in it. This seemed to be a personal message to me. I knew that the Lord spoke through dreams in the Bible as He did in the OT and NT (Genesis 15:1; 37:1-11; Luke 1: 5-23; Matthew 1:20; 2:13; Acts 10:1-6). Even though I was a relatively new Christian I was also aware that this dream had to be proved by Scripture before I could accept it as coming from the Lord. The Lord led me to read Deuteronomy 18: 10-12 and Acts 19: 18-20. The first group of verses gave my husband and I direction about what was dangerous. The second group of verses told us what to do before and as we prayed for discernment. We were convicted. It was surprising how large a garbage bag we filled with books, toys and even some costly art objects. We had even received a beautiful and costly signs-of-the-zodiac plate from a relative. Somehow, even though we were new believers, zodiacs and the One True God didn’t seem compatible. We decided to go by that old motto: when in doubt, throw it out. If it offended our eyes, we thought it would offend the Lord’s eyes. An old ouija board was the final item we stashed in the garbage bag. Here are the verses that convicted our hearts about removing the caustic “lye” from our lives:

Deuteronomy 18:10-12 (NIV):
10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, 11 or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; 

Acts 19:18-19 (NIV):
18 Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed what they had done. 19 A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas 

After our family diligently prayed and discovered that we had a lot of physical housecleaning to do, we also went through a period of spiritual housecleaning. Psalm 51was our guide. I remember an old song based on that song: “Cleanse our hearts oh God; make us ever true; cleanse our hearts oh God, let us be like You.” About two years later when we taught a youth group, the Lord helped us realize that the word “lye” has an alternate spelling – “lie.” From that point on we became even more diligent over allowing anyone we loved to come in contact with a lie in case they were horribly burned or scarred.

Another Sarah Young book

PRESENT DAY
In 2014 a series of events began that prompted my doing a great deal of reading. In the space of less than three weeks three different women of my age group at church discussed the book Jesus Calling in my presence. I had ignored the popularity of the book purposely because over 20 years ago I had been repeatedly presented with its predecessor and inspiration God Calling and had not wanted to read that either. Eventually, however, someone gave me God Calling as a gift and I realized the Lord wanted me to review it. I sat down and read it through in its entirety in 3-4 days. It was a book written by two anonymous “listeners” who were in fact being used as “channels” or “mediums” – an occult practice. The book was written in the first person so that the reader was to believe that God Himself was speaking. It did not stand up to any Biblical tests and especially failed the most important test: it did not use Scripture alone as an authority. And now twenty years later a woman named Sarah Young is using God Callingas an inspiration for Jesus Calling and it has become a 15 million copies best seller.

Again, I had no desire to read Jesus Calling. I came home and told my daughter about the latest encounter at church with the women of my age. She told me that quite a few women of her age had asked her to read it also; and then my granddaughter overheard us and relayed the same message. They asked me to read the book. A week after this discussion Warren Smith, a respected discernment minister, published a book titled Another Jesus Calling that shares his concerns about this devotional. Later I learned that Pastor Bob DeWaay had also written a lengthy article titled “Toxic Devotion: A Review of Sarah Young’s-Jesus Calling.” I found it interesting that he would call the book “toxic” recalling that “lye” is also considered toxic. Substantial excerpts from both of these men in their excellent reports will be included later in my analysis.

Yet another Sarah Young book

THE INTRODUCTION
In my reading I first noticed that even in the Introduction to Jesus Calling Sarah Young makes some troubling remarks:

I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more. (Jesus Calling, p. xii)

I knew these writings were not inspired as Scripture is, but they were helping me grow closer to God. (Jesus Calling, p. xii)

I have written them [my writings] from Jesus’ point of view; that is, the first person singular. (“I,” “Me,” “Mine,”) always refers to Christ. “You” refers to you, the reader, so the perspective is that of Jesus speaking to you. (Jesus Calling, p. xiii-xiv)

Yet these comments seem to me to totally contradict these Scriptures:

Hebrews 1:1-2 (NIV):
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days He has spoken to us by his Son, Whom He appointed heir of all things, and through Whom also He made the universe. 

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (NIV):
16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. 

Deuteronomy 4:2 (NIV):
2 Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it, but keep the commands of the Lord your God that I give you. 

Revelation 22:18 (NIV):
18 I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this scroll: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to that person the plagues described in this scroll. Has not Jesus already said everything that He came to say? 

Has He not said in 2Timothy that what He has already given us is all we need and that only those words in the Bible are “God-breathed” and inspired by Him? If He Himself has said in His Word that no more is to be added to what He has said, then isn’t the Jesus of Jesus Calling contradicting Himself? Isn’t this “another Jesus” (2Corinthians 11:4) speaking?

Is not Sarah Young challenging the sufficiency of Scripture?

Sarah Young’s Amazon page

HIS PRESENCE 
Another topic mentioned over 300 times is that of “His Presence.” It implies the presence of the real Jesus Christ, but careful examination proves otherwise (1Thessalonians 5:21: “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good”). The following points are from the website report of noted discernment author, Pastor Bob DeWaay, titled “Toxic Devotion: A Review of Sarah Young’s-Jesus Calling.” This excerpt from Pastor DeWaay’s report begins with a quotation from Jesus Calling:

“Let Me infuse My Presence into your thoughts. As your mind stops racing, your body relaxes and you regain awareness of Me…. There are actually more than four dimensions in this world where you live. In addition to the three dimensions of space and the one of time, there is the dimension of openness to My presence.”(May 24)

Here Young teaches Eastern ideas, claiming their spiritual source as Jesus. This is rather shocking, as is the entire book. The apostle John teaches the tangibility of Jesus who bodily ascended to heaven. John was an apostle who spoke authoritatively for God who had seen “Jesus Christ come in the flesh.” Sarah Young has not. Here is what John said in his first epistle:

What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.(1John 1:1-3)

Jesus Calling portrays a spirit Jesus (Young does not claim to have seen the bodily raised Christ, but rather experienced an encounter with a spirit Jesus through an experience she had with nature) and thus fails the test of spirits. This lack of tangibility that the apostle John describes is fatal to her claims. Anyone can claim to have had a subjective encounter with a metaphysical being and call it “awareness of Presence.” Even [Eckhart] Tolle does that. Yet Young has sold far more than 5 million books. [See Pastor DeWaay’s report: http://www.cicministry.org/commentary/issue125.htm; link added.]

I found myself in full agreement with these statements. Christ sent the promised Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. His presence with us is a promise we already believe and have experienced; it is not an altered state of consciousness. Sarah Young refers to this mystical “Presence” over 300 times in her book. Yet Scripture tells us:

Acts 1:8-11 (NIV):
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. 9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. 10 They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. 11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.” 

Notice that Jesus went up in bodily form and will come back in the same way and not as a spirit presence as Sarah Young presents Him.

Warren Smith has written a book entitled Another Jesus Calling which is devoted to the details of God Calling and Jesus Calling. In his book Warren delves even deeper into the extensive topic of the “Presence” that is so often emphasized in Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling. Warren Smith noticed, “In Jesus Calling ‘Jesus’ promotes the experience of his ‘Presence'” above God’s Word. [Source: https://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=17704]

Warren Smith’s book

On p. 233 Ms. Young incorrectly misquotes Scriptures by adding the words “My Presence”: “My Word is a lamp to your feet; My Presence is a Light for your path.”[Emphasis mine] Additional references may be found on pp. 3, 13, 135, 352, 314 of Jesus Calling.

Yet that is not Biblically correct as we see when we compare it to Psalm 119:105: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” See additional Bible verses: Psalm 119: 103-104; 138:2; Luke 11:35; 2Timothy 3: 16-17. Yet the word “Presence” seems to appear more than the Word “Jesus” in Sarah Young’s writings. Interestingly, Jesus did promise that while his “Presence” would not be with His followers after He left them the Holy Spirit would be forever with them. Pastor Larry DeBruyn makes this clear distinction below in his beautifully titled article “The Present of ‘His Presence’.” Below are selected excerpts. I would encourage you to read the article in its entirety.

God’s Presence – Jesus’ Promise
Jesus promised that He would not leave His disciples to be orphans in the world after He departed. He would not abandon them. He promised to send to them another Comforter to be as equally present with them as He had been; the marvelous difference being that while Jesus had been present with the disciples, the Spirit of God would be present in them! The time of the Spirit’s indwelling presence however, would not come before Jesus’ glorification – that is, until after His resurrection and ascension into Heaven. Then Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter or Paraclete, to be His proxy Presence. Through the Holy Spirit Who proceeded from Him and the Father (John16:26, “whom I will send unto you from the Father”), the Lord Jesus Christ would abundantly infuse His Presence into the lives of those who by faith belonged to Him, both individually and collectively. As Jesus stated and John interpreted:

Pastor Larry’s booklet

“In the last day, that great day of the feast [The Feast of Tabernacles], Jesus stood and cried, saying, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.’ (But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” (John 7:37-39).

That coming of His Presence Jesus did not compare to a well, a creek or a stream, but to “rivers of living water” (plural), the supply of which might be compared to the Mississippi River and all its tributaries. But unlike the Mississippi, His divine presence would not be polluted, but pure – it would be living water.

Questions: Why are Christians seeking a divine presence that Jesus promised would abundantly flow in them? What is it that some Christians are seeking after that the Spirit of Christ does not already supply? Why do they need another voice, another visitation, or another vision? Why are some people unthankfully desirous of “something more” than what in God has already given to us? Why is it that some Christians, in the depth of their souls, are not seemingly at rest? (See Hebrews 4:9-10.)

God’s Presence – Pentecost…. 
This presence is real and abiding. Christ dwells in believers. This is “the hope of glory”(Colossians 1:27). In Christ, the Holy Spirit, who “is the earnest [down payment] of our inheritance,” has “sealed” [stamped] “us until the redemption of the purchased possession[our persons]” (Ephesians 1:13-14). Our eternal destiny involves His Presence until the completion of our redemption. As Jesus told His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:20). Although Jesus would no longer be physically present even with His faithful followers, the Spirit, whom He would send to take His place, would, and by faith we have that presence NOW! The Spirit of Christ is both with us and in us! (Romans 8:9b) Hebrews tells the people of the promise, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee” (Hebrews 13:5)

Question: Of this pledged-permanent presence, I would ask, “How can we meditate or contemplate ourselves into it?” The answer is, “We can’t!” By faith God gives it (Galatians 3:2). For this reason, I never pray for the Lord to be “with” me. He already is!…

His Proactive Presence….
The divine presence descends to us (John 3:13). Unlike Mystic Spirituality, we do not ascend to it. Jesus illustrated that the presence of the Spirit may be compared to a wind which blows upon a human soul (John 3:8), and we can no more control the presence of the Spirit than we can control the wind or the weather. As such, union with Christ cannot be activated or initiated by Mystic disciplines or rituals, but only cultivated. Union with Christ is reactive and interactive. God initiates, we respond. As to this important distinction, A.J. Gordon wrote that,

The method of grace is precisely the reverse of the method of legalism. The latter is holiness in order to union with God; the former, union with God in order to holiness.

We do not get at this union via the legalism of our own works or by engaging in rituals called “spiritual disciplines.” This union with Christ comes to all believers for reason of Holy Spirit baptism whereby they are “union-Ed” with Christ and with one another (1Corinthians 12:13). In the aftermath of the Spirit’s baptism, communion with the indwelling Spirit of Christ can be facilitated via our Bible reading (the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit do testify concerning Christ, John 5:39; 15:26), meditation on Scripture, prayer, witnessing, singing “psalms, hymns and spiritual songs” in our hearts and to each other, being thankful, submitting to one another, corporate worship, observing the Lord’s Table, and so forth (Acts 13: 48-52; Ephesians 5: 18-21)….

Conclusion 
We began this writing by citing evangelical Christians who are in the mood of trying to experience the divine presence. Seemingly, they want to “feel” their way into it. Yet, the Bible teaches that the experience of God’s Presence in our lives depends upon His initiating His work both for us and in us. We can no more experience God’s Presence than we can resurrect ourselves from the dead or seat ourselves with Him in Heaven (Ephesians 2:1-10). This wonderful union can only be appropriated by objective faith, not by subjective feelings. [Source: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/12/the-present-of-his-presence.html]

These thoughts of Pastor DeBruyn warrant our fullest attention not just because we respect his stature as a discernment writer but, more importantly, because they will keep us from spiritual peril.

To be continued. . . . 

Source: Another Jesus Part 3

John Piper Continues to Confuse Followers on Justification

(Pulpit & Pen News) John Piper has been concerning his followers for quite some time when it comes to elaborating upon the Doctrine of Justification and what he, quite uniquely, calls, “final salvation.” Since Piper’s embrace of Douglas Wilson during the height of the Federal Vision controversy (Wilson has since left Federal Vision behind, thankfully), some Reformed Baptists have uneasily eyed Piper with suspicion on the topic.

Federal Vision, for those who don’t know, holds to twenty or so theological errors (so says the Orthodox Presbyterian Church) which make it aberrant. Since the OPC statement against Federal Vision, most Presbyterian denominations have gone on to formally condemn it.

Among the twenty charges against Federal Vision by the OPC, a number specifically relate to how Piper is perceived (at least) to elaborate upon justification himself:

  1. Defining justification exclusively as the forgiveness of sins.
  2. Including works (by use of “faithfulness,” “obedience,” etc.) in the very definition of faith.

Piper stirred up his followers back in September when he made troubling statements about Justification in the post, Does God Really Save Us by Faith Alone? In my opinion, the best and most thorough analysis on Piper’s so-called “Final Salvation” theology was done by Tim Shaughnessy and Timothy Kauffman at Bible Thumping Wingnut, which you can find in their blog post, here.

Shaughnessy and Kauffman’s argument is that there’s enough supporting evidence in previous work from John Piper – for example, his 2009 debate with NT Wright – to substantiate that Piper conflates justification and sanctification.

[Editor’s Note: We know the novice may not understand the controversy. Let me explain. Protestant theology holds to an “Ordo Salutis” – or order of salvation – which, although its chronological order may differ from one school to another, holds that “salvation” is an overreaching concept that includes smaller aspects or parts of salvation, like election, predestination, regeneration, justification, adoption, sanctification, and glorification. So then, when Protestants speak of “salvation” they mean what the Triune God has done to save sinners from divine wrath, and when we speak of any of the categories above, we mean to imply that it is just one part of overall salvation. Shaughnessy and Kauffman provided evidence that Piper was speaking of “salvation” in a way that meant “justification,” which is conflated and sloppy theology at best]  View article →

Source: John Piper Continues to Confuse Followers on Justification

Mark Zuckerberg Finishes Morning Reading Of Favorite Devotional ‘1984’

MENLO PARK, CA—We all have our favorite regular devotionals or Scripture readings that motivate us each morning and kick us in the right mindset to tackle the day. For Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, no morning is complete without reading at last a few pages out of the “uplifting, utopian” novel 1984 by George Orwell. “Oh, […]

The post Mark Zuckerberg Finishes Morning Reading Of Favorite Devotional ‘1984’appeared first on The Babylon Bee.

MARCH 7 THE ETERNAL VERITY

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.

Hebrews 13:8

There is a great deal of discussion now taking place about the lack of spiritual power in our Christian churches. What about the New Testament patterns?

Brethren, the apostolic method was to provide a foundation of good, sound biblical reasons for following the Savior, for our willingness to let the Spirit of God display the great Christian virtues in our lives.

That is why we come in faith and rejoicing to the eternal verity of Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever!” This proclamation gives significance to every other section of teaching and exhortation in the letter to the Hebrews. In this verse is truth that is morally and spiritually dynamic if we will exercise the faith and the will to demonstrate it in our needy world.

I think this fact, this truth that Jesus Christ wants to be known in His church as the ever-living, never-changing Lord of all, could bring back again the power and testimony of the early church!

Lord, I pray for my pastor and my church, that they will comprehend anew the truth that You are ever-living and never-changing.[1]


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

40 Days to the Cross: Week Three – Wednesday

Confession: Psalm 38:16–20

For I said, “Help, lest they rejoice over me,

lest they boast against me when my foot slips.”

For I am ready to stumble,

and my pain is before me continually.

For my iniquity I confess;

I am anxious because of my sin.

And my enemies without cause are numerous,

and those who hate me wrongfully are many.

And those who repay evil in return for good

accuse me in return for my pursuing good.

Reading: Mark 12:18–27

And Sadducees—who say there is no resurrection—came up to him and began to ask him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us that if someone’s brother dies and he leaves behind a wife and does not leave a child, that his brother should take the wife and father descendants for his brother. There were seven brothers, and the first took a wife. And when he died, he did not leave descendants. And the second took her, and he died without leaving descendants. And the third likewise. And the seven did not leave descendants. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection, when they rise, whose wife will she be? For the seven had her as wife.” Jesus said to them, “Are you not deceived because of this, because you do not know the scriptures or the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. Now concerning the dead, that they are raised, have you not read in the book of Moses in the passage about the bush how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are very much mistaken!”

Reflection

Christ’s loved ones are despised and hated, “of whom the world was not worthy, wandering about on deserts and mountains, and in caves and holes in the ground” (Heb 11:38). They have to put up with all kinds of contempt; that’s what Christ’s people have to endure here. And we’ll have to bless God for it all. It keeps us from linking ourselves with this world, from settling all our hopes and desires upon it.

If we are to serve Christ and to reach heaven, we must sail right against the world and its way. It’s an old saying that a dead fish always swims with the current, and we can always tell the living fish when we see it swimming against the current. In like manner, if you are dead, you will very likely be sailing smoothly enough with this world and very well satisfied with yourself. If you are alive in Jesus Christ, you will be struggling against the world, its sins, and its temptations. And you will be seeking to win souls for Christ, regardless of the world’s scoffs, sneers, and frowns.

—Dwight L. Moody

Life Words from Gospel Addresses

Response

It is tempting and often convenient to create a framework within the gospel that is not supported by Scripture, as the Sadduccees did in Mark 12:18–27. Have you taken the focus off what is truly important in any areas of doctrine? How can you center your focus back on Christ?[1]


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

March 7 Purity Is More than Sincerity

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.—Matt. 5:8

Purity of heart is much more than sincerity. A motive can be sincere yet can easily lead to worthless and sinful things. The pagan priests who opposed Elijah demonstrated great sincerity when they lacerated their bodies to induce Baal to send fire down to consume their sacrifices (1 Kings 18:28). But their sincerity did not produce the desired results, and it did not enable them to see the error of their paganism because their sincere trust was in that very paganism.

Even genuinely good deeds that do not come from a genuinely good heart are of no spiritual value. A person may be extremely religious and constantly engaged in doing good things, yet he or she cannot please God unless their heart is right with Him.

The ultimate standard for purity of heart is perfection of heart. Later in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). One hundred percent purity is God’s standard for the heart, which makes God Himself the standard.

You can’t be pleasing to God until you are pure as He is pure—until you are holy as He is holy and perfect as He is perfect. Only purity of heart through Jesus Christ will reconcile people to God. What standard of purity are you following?

ASK YOURSELF

To what extent is your measure of purity defined by culture or others’ opinions or anything other than the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ? Check yourself in this, for if staying a few shades cleaner than current society makes you feel pure by comparison, your standards will do nothing but slip over time.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 75). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 7 What Do You Really Love?

If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear  his cross and come after Me cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:26–27

Apart from God, nothing could have been dearer to Abraham than his son Isaac. But that was the test: to find out whether he loved Isaac more than God. If we love God supremely, we will thank Him for what He is accomplishing through our trials and sufferings. But if we love ourselves more than God, we will question God’s wisdom and become upset and bitter. If anything is dearer to us than God, then He must remove it for us to grow spiritually.

In today’s verse, Jesus was not indicating that we’re to hate everyone. Rather He meant that if you do not love God to the degree that you willingly, if necessary, cut yourself off from your father, mother, spouse, children, brother, sister, or even your own life, then you don’t love Him supremely. You must determine to do the will of God first and foremost, no matter what appeals others may make to you.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 80). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

March 7, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

His Perfect Provision

Let us therefore draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and may find grace to help in time of need. (4:16)

The One who understands us perfectly will also provide for us perfectly. “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13). Jesus Christ knows our temptations and will lead us out of them.

Come to God’s Throne of Grace

Again, the Holy Spirit appeals to those who are yet undecided about accepting Christ as their Savior. They should not only keep from going back into Judaism, but they should hold on to their confession of Christ and, finally—and necessarily—go on to draw near with confidence to the throne of grace.

Most ancient rulers were unapproachable by the common people. Some would not even allow their highest-ranking officials to come before them without permission. Queen Esther risked her life in approaching King Ahasuerus without invitation, even though she was his wife (Esther 5:1–2). Yet any penitent person, no matter how sinful and undeserving, may approach God’s throne at any time for forgiveness and salvation—confident that he will be received with mercy and grace.

By Christ’s sacrifice of Himself, God’s throne of judgment is turned into a throne of grace for those who trust in Him. As the Jewish high priests once a year for centuries had sprinkled blood on the mercy seat for the people’s sins, Jesus shed His blood once and for all time for the sins of everyone who believes in Him. That is His perfect provision.

The Bible speaks much of God’s justice. But how terrible for us if He were only just, and not also gracious. Sinful man deserves death, the sentence of justice; but he needs salvation, the gift of grace. It is to the very throne of this grace that any person can now come with confidence and assurance. It is the throne of grace because grace is dispensed there.

How can anyone reject such a High Priest, such a Savior—who not only permits us to come before His throne for grace and help, but pleads with us to come in confidence? His Spirit says, “Come boldly all the way to God’s throne that has been turned into a throne of grace because of Jesus. Come all the way up, receive grace and mercy when you need it—before it is too late and your heart is hard and God’s ‘today’ is over.” The time of need is now.

What a High Priest we have. He sympathizes and He saves. What more could He do?[1]


16 Verses 14–15 have set side by side the two essentials for the perfect high priest: to be in the position of ultimate authority with God in heaven, and yet also to have a personal knowledge of our human condition. No earthly priest could offer the first, and no angel the second, but in Jesus we have both. So there can be no barrier to the parrēsia (GK 4244), “confidence” or lack of inhibition, with which we can approach God (cf. 10:19–22, where the same word parrēsia is used). In the OT, the priests alone were entitled to “approach” the sanctuary, but now through our great high priest all of us can fearlessly approach God himself. Of course we must not forget the absolute holiness and majesty of the God who “lives in unapproachable light” (1 Ti 6:16), but through Jesus we have come to know that the throne of majesty is also a “throne of grace,” a place of welcome, not of rebuff, where “mercy” and “grace” are freely available through the high priest who has gone there to intercede for his people (7:25). This theme of access to the presence of God will be graphically developed in 12:18–24. And its relevance is not only to our ultimate acceptance before God when this earthly life is finished but also to the present crises of life on earth; in such “time of need,” too, effective “help” is there for the asking.[2]


4:16 / If the readers are to “hold firmly to the faith” (v. 14), they will need to avail themselves of the help that comes from the very presence of God. Using imagery drawn from the temple cultus (e.g., approach), the author encourages boldness: with confidence (cf. 10:19). It is no light matter to draw near to the throne of grace. But there the readers will find the mercy and grace they need, and just at the time of need. In keeping with the language of the cultus, this throne of grace is probably analogous in the author’s mind to the mercy-seat in the holy of holies (cf. 9:5). It is assumed rather than stated that the high priest who is able to help is there at the throne (cf. v. 14 and 1:3, etc.).

We have now reached that stage in the author’s argument where he must set forth the qualifications of Jesus as high priest. This he does by first reviewing the role and the nature of the office according to the ot Scriptures, and then by showing how Jesus fulfills the same criteria.[3]


4:16. Given the fact that we have a sinless Savior, what can we do? What should be our response?

First, we must approach. Worshipers used this verb (Heb. 7:25) in describing their movement into God’s presence. We are to come to God with all the reverence and awe which his worship demands.

Second, we come to the throne of grace. This is a reverent reference to God’s presence. It is the place where God gives out his free favor. The term describes an attitude more than a place. The seeking sinner will find this throne of grace (Luke 18:9–14).

Third, we come in an attitude of confidence. Although we must approach God with reverence, we can enter his presence with freedom and without fear. The term describes a boldness based on an awareness that God has all the grace we need. It is the attitude of customers coming to a store seeking an important item which they know is plentifully stocked.

Fourth, we come for the purpose of obtaining mercy and grace. God’s mercy prescribes pardon for our many failures. God’s grace provides strength for the demands of God’s service.[4]


16. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

What encouraging words! The writer throughout his epistle exhorts the readers numerous times, but in this particular verse he has a special word for us. This time he does not exhort believers to rectify their way of life; he commends us for coming in prayer to God and urges us to do so confidently.

  • “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence.” The invitation to approach the throne of grace implies that the readers are already doing this. The author also uses the same verb in Hebrews 10:22 (“let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith”). He later repeats the same invitation in slightly different wording (see Heb. 7:25; 10:1; 11:6; 12:18, 22).

The verb approach may have a religious connotation, because it often referred to the priests who in their cultic service approached God with sacrifices (Lev. 9:7; 21:17, 21; 22:3; Num. 18:3). In Hebrews 4:16 the writer urges us to come near to the throne of grace in prayer, for the only sacrifice a believer can bring is a broken and a contrite heart (Ps. 51:17). The great high priest has brought the supreme sacrifice in offering himself on the cross on behalf of his people. The merciful and faithful high priest invites the weak and tempted sinner to come to the throne of grace.

What is meant by the phrase throne of grace? This is an explicit reference to the kingship of the Son of God (Heb. 1:2–4). Jesus sits at the right hand of God and has been given full authority in heaven and on earth (Matt. 28:18). But the word grace implies that the reference is also to the priesthood of Christ. The sinner who comes to the throne of grace in repentance and faith indeed finds the forgiving grace of Jesus.

Moreover, we are exhorted to come to the throne with confidence; that is, we may come boldly (Heb. 3:6; 10:19, 35), not rashly or in fear of judgment, but “in full confidence, openness to God and in the hope of the fullness of the glory of God.” Jesus invites his people to approach freely, without hesitation. He holds out the golden scepter, as it were, and says, “Come!”

  • “So that we may receive mercy and find grace.” Although the terms mercy and grace are often interpreted as being synonyms, their difference ought to be noted. Westcott makes the distinction succinctly:

Man needs mercy for past failure, and grace for present and future work. There is also a difference as to the mode of attainment in each case. Mercy is to be “taken” as it is extended to man in his weakness; grace is to be “sought” by man according to his necessity.

The mercy of God is directed to sinners in misery or distress; they receive God’s compassion when they approach him. And whereas God’s mercy extends to all his creatures (Ps. 145:9), his grace, as the writer of Hebrews indicates in Hebrews 4:16, extends to all who approach the throne of God. Mercy is characterized as God’s tender compassion; grace, as his goodness and love.

  • “To help us in our time of need.” Help is given at the right moment in the hour of need. The author is not saying that the help is constant, but rather that it alleviates the need of the moment. That need may be material, physical, or spiritual. When we call on the name of the Lord in faith and approach the throne of God, he will hear and answer. He stands ready to help (see Heb. 2:18).

This aid, in the form of grace, comes when temptation seems to sway us. God provides the means to find a way out of our temptations. God is faithful (1 Cor. 10:13).

Doctrinal Considerations in 4:14–16

When the writer states that Jesus “has gone through the heavens” (v. 14), he implies that Jesus has entered the presence of God the Father. The Aaronic high priest, by entering the Most Holy Place once a year, stood in the presence of God. Because Jesus appears before God the Father in heaven, he transcends the Aaronic high priest. Therefore, the author of Hebrews calls him the “great high priest” (italics added).

The use of the plural noun heavens in the original Greek is rather common in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. 1:10 [Ps. 102:25]; 4:14; 7:26; 9:23; 12:23, 25). It is possible that the plural, which is also common in the Septuagint and in the New Testament (especially in Matthew’s Gospel), conveys in the Epistle to the Hebrews the idea of completeness. However, the author uses the word heaven in the singular, too (Heb. 9:24; 11:12; 12:26 [Hag. 2:6]).

In rabbinic writings and in apocryphal literature, the conception of a multilayered heaven is somewhat common. In fact, Paul even speaks of knowing a man “caught up to the third heaven” and “to paradise” (2 Cor. 12:2, 4). It seems that Paradise is located in either the third or the seventh heaven. Speculations about the heavenly Jerusalem, the location of God’s throne, and the heavenly altar are numerous.

Because of the scarcity of information on this point in the Epistle to the Hebrews, we do well to refrain from speculation. In 4:14, it is implied that God’s dwelling place is not in heaven; that is, “not within his creation to which heaven belongs, but above the heavens.” Jesus has transcended the heavens, has come to the throne of God, and has taken his place at God’s right hand as the great high priest.

If Jesus endured temptations during his earthly ministry as the Son of God, how do we understand the author’s teaching that he “has been tempted in every way, just as we are” (v. 15; italics added)? Herman N. Ridderbos, commenting on Jesus’ temptation in the desert, raises this question in a slightly different form: Could Jesus fall into sin or was the temptation imaginary? Although Jesus as God’s Son surpassed Satan and therefore could not fall, Jesus was not necessarily immune to temptation. We admit that for us it is difficult to understand how the Son of God, who could not sin, was tempted just as we are. From our limited perspective, we are unable to explain the difficulty inherent in the biblical teaching about Jesus’ sinlessness and temptation.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1983). Hebrews (pp. 114–115). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] France, R. T. (2006). Hebrews. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 73). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Hagner, D. A. (2011). Hebrews (p. 79). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Lea, T. D. (1999). Hebrews, James (Vol. 10, pp. 74–75). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of Hebrews (Vol. 15, pp. 126–128). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

MARCH 7 THE GARDEN OF GOD

Sing unto the LORD with thanksgiving … who covereth the heaven with clouds, who prepareth rain for the earth, who maketh grass to grow upon the mountains.

—Psalm 147:7-8

The heavens and the earth were intended to be a semitransparent veil through which moral intelligences might see the glory of God (Psalm 19:1-6; Romans 1:19-20), but for sin-blinded men this veil has become opaque. They see the creation but do not see through it to the Creator; or what glimpses they do have are dim and out of focus. It is possible to spend a lifetime admiring God’s handiwork without acknowledging the presence of the God whose handiwork it is….

With what joy the Christian turns from even the purest nature poets to the prophets and psalmists of the Scriptures. These saw God first…. Their love of natural objects was deep and intense, but they loved them not for their own sakes but for the sake of Him who created them. They walked through the world as through the garden of God. Everything reminded them of Him. They saw His power in the stormy wind and tempest; they heard His voice in the thunder; the mountains told them of His strength and the rocks reminded them that He was their hiding place. The sun by day and the moon and stars by night… recited the story of their divine birth. OGM139-140

Lord, may I be reminded of Your role as Creator by every created thing I encounter. Amen. [1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.