Daily Archives: December 28, 2018

Be ready for our Lord’s coming

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. 37 For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. 38 For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. 40 Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
42 “Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. Matthew 24:36-42…

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$5,450 Price Tag for Joel Osteen Tickets

The thief steals from himself. The swindler swindles himself. For the real price is knowledge and virtue, whereof wealth and credit are signs. These signs, like paper money, may be counterfeited or stolen, but that which they represent, namely, knowledge and virtue, cannot be counterfeited or stolen.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

In the words of a friend, Andrew Rizko, “What makes one conned by Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland or Bill Johnson, who thinks they’re sowing a seed of $5750, (for the Lord of course) different than the one who is just as willing to spend $5750 to hear a fool spout some mental diarrhea? As the saying goes, a fool and his money are soon parted.”

This is in fact the case. The price tag for a preferred seat on the fourth floor of the BB&T Center in Sunrise, FL for the Joel Osteen appearance? $5,450 ea. In fact, some ticket outlets have shown prices as high as $5,750 ea. or more.

The fact that anyone would be willing to drop this kind of cash simply to hear a hustler hustle for a few hours is beyond all reasonable common sense.

[HT: Andrew Rizko]

Source: $5,450 Price Tag for Joel Osteen Tickets

Massive New Migrant Caravan To Leave Honduras; Overloaded El Paso Faces Imminent “Crisis”

A new, larger migrant caravan is set to leave Honduras on Jan. 15 according to Spanish-language media and migrant rights advocates.

They say they are even bigger and stronger than the last caravan,” according to Irma Garrido of migrant advocacy group Reactiva Tijuana Foundation.

News of the new caravan comes as thousands of Central American migrants from an October caravan remain stranded at various cities along the US-Mexico border as they face wait times of up to several months for the United States to process their asylum requests. What’s more, if migrants cannot justify their asylum claims, they may be denied.

Coordinators who helped direct the migrants on the 2,000-mile trek with bullhorns, arranging for buses and giving advice along the way, have mostly vanished. Many of the migrants say they feel abandoned and unsure where to turn next. Some are ready to return home.

Garrido said this new, larger caravan will probably be joined by more people in El Salvador and in Guatemala, but she said they don’t plan on coming straight to the Tijuana-San Diego border, where resources are already stretched nearly to a breaking point. –LA Times

“They will stay in the south of Mexico in Chiapas and Oaxaca. Their aim is to request work there,” said Garrido.

Meanwhile, an incoming congresswoman of the Texas border city of El Paso has warned of an imminent “crisis” as the city scrambles to accommodate at least 1,600 migrants dumped by federal authorities over the last several days. The issue is that the entire town is packed to the brim with fans attending the Sun Bowl college football game El Paso has hosted since 1935.

“We’re facing a real crisis coming up … to find places for all of these (migrant) families,” said Democratic representative-elect Veronica Escobar.

Escobar said migrants who can’t be housed in shelters have been staying in hotel rooms paid by Annunciation House, the non-profit spearheading the efforts to house and feed them. But, she said, if U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues releasing large numbers of migrants, the El Paso community will struggle to find places for them because many hotels have been booked by people attending Monday’s game.

Escobar added it’s already been “very, very difficult and very challenging” to put up the migrants dropped off by ICE. And, she said, the coming hotel crunch will only make the task tougher. –CBS News

During a Thursday bilingual press conference, Annunciation House Executive Director Ruben Garcia announced that US Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had dropped off over 1,600 migrants in El Paso since Sunday – and that Wednesay’s delivery of 500 migrants was the largest he’s seen. On Thursday, around 320 more were taken to El Paso.

According to ICE, they had to release the migrants due to overcrowding in their holding facilities as well as concerns over laws governing how long families can remain detained by immigration authorities. A spokesman for the agency told CBS that they have been notifying local officials before dropping the groups off, however charities have told the agency that they are having trouble accommodating the migrants.

“We are living through an immigration crisis that is in part driven by a disastrous ruling by a district court judge in the Ninth Circuit that incentives illegal alien adults to put their children in the hands of smugglers and traffickers. The Flores Settlement Agreement has created an immigration loophole that rewards parents for bringing their children with them to the United States,” said Department of Homeland Security (DHS) spokeswoman Katie Waldman in a statement emailed to CBS on Friday.

Escobar called on the Trump administration to help El Paso by undertaking the “short-term” solution of investing in “family-friendly” holding facilities for migrants. “This really is a federal obligation and the federal government needs to step in and build some temporary housing facilities, in the way that they did in 2016,” she said. “That needs to happen immediately.”

The long-term solution, she added, is to invest heavily in the “Northern Triangle” of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to curb the region’s widespread poverty and intensifying gang violence. –CBS News

“We need to work with Central America and make probably some significant investments there and hopefully, through good collaboration, find some solutions to the poverty and crime that are driving thousands and thousands of people from Central America into the United States,” said Escobar.

Source: Massive New Migrant Caravan To Leave Honduras; Overloaded El Paso Faces Imminent “Crisis”

December 28 Fruitful Labor

If I live on in the flesh, this will mean fruit from my labor.

Philippians 1:22

 

The apostle Paul considered that being alive in the physical world is synonymous with fruitful labor for Christ. His use of “labor” refers to his spiritual work for the Lord, which yields spiritual fruit. Spiritual fruit may be seen in people, deeds, and words—whatever is of eternal value. That kind of fruit comes from good hard work, which is the natural activity of the godly on earth.

Paul had a strong desire to bear fruit. He wanted the Philippians to be confident in Christ and strengthened for evangelism (Phil. 1:26–27). He is reminiscent of the psalmist who said, “O God, You have taught me from my youth; and to this day I declare Your wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, do not forsake me, until I declare Your strength to this generation, Your power to everyone who is to come” (Ps. 71:17–18). That elderly man wanted to live long enough to declare God’s strength and power to the next generation. May God grant you that same privilege.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 389). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

December 28 The Inheritance of Christ

“[Christ] is … the first–born of all creation.”

Colossians 1:15

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Christ is the preeminent inheritor over all creation.

Puritan minister Thomas Manton once said, “Heresies revolve as fashions, and in the course of a few years antiquated errors revive again, and that by their means who did not so much as know them by name.” He was right: false doctrines keep repeating themselves through the ages, only to reappear under different names. From the Arians of the early church to the Jehovah’s Witnesses of our own day, cultists have sought to deny our Lord’s deity. One of the favorite verses of such cultists is Colossians 1:15, which refers to Christ as the “first–born.” They argue that it speaks of Christ as a created being and hence He could not be the eternal God. Such an interpretation completely misunderstands the sense of prototokos (“first–born”) and ignores the context.

Although prototokos can mean first–born chronologically (Luke 2:7), it refers primarily to position or rank. In both Greek and Jewish culture, the first–born was the son who had the right of inheritance. He was not necessarily the first one born. Although Esau was born first chronologically, it was Jacob who was the first–born and received the inheritance. Jesus is the One with the right to the inheritance of all creation (cf. Heb. 1:2).

The context of Colossians 1:15 also refutes the idea that “first–born” describes Jesus as a created being. If Paul were here teaching that Christ is a created being, he would be agreeing with the central point of the Colossian false teachers. That would run counter to his purpose in writing Colossians, which was to refute them. Moreover, Paul had just finished describing Christ as the perfect and complete image of God (v. 15). In the following verses he refers to Christ as the Creator of all things (v. 16) and the One who “is before all things” (v. 17). Far from being an emanation descending from God, Christ is the preeminent inheritor over all creation. He existed before the creation and is exalted in rank above it.

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Suggestions for Prayer: Use Psalm 93 as the basis of your prayer to worship Christ, who is preeminent in rank over all creation.

For Further Study: Read Revelation 4:8–11. According to verse 11, what is Christ worthy to receive? Why?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

Baptists Join with Pope for the Sake of “Christian Unity” — Pulpit & Pen

Members of the Baptist-Catholic International Dialogue Joint Commission with Pope Francis. (Photo: L’Osservatore Romano Photographic Service)

[Ethics Daily] The second meeting of the third phase of international ecumenical conversations between the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity took place Dec. 10-14 in Rome at the Domus Internationalis Paulus VI.

The Baptist delegation was led by co-chair Frank Rees, associate professor and chair of the academic board at the University of Divinity in Australia; the Catholic delegation was led by co-chair Bishop Arthur Serratelli, bishop of Paterson, New Jersey.

The meeting took up the theme of the “Context of Common Witness.” This discussion reflected on the global cultural context in which common Christian witness is being conducted today in six continents of the world.

This sub-theme helps to illuminate the overall theme of the third phase of dialogue, “The Dynamic of the Gospel and the Witness of the Church.” The Baptist-Catholic group will meet annually through 2021 for this third phase of conversations.

Included in the week of ecumenical conversations was a meeting with Pope Francis during the general papal audience on Dec. 12. The following day, the participants visited a local Baptist church in Trastevere.

The Baptist-Catholic group will convene for its third round of the current phase of conversations on Dec. 9-13, 2019, in Warsaw, Poland, hosted by the Baptist Union of Poland at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Warsaw.

To continue reading, click here.

[Editor’s Note: This article was written by Steven Harmon and Avelino Gonzalez-Ferrer and first posted at Ethics Daily. This HT is not an endorsement of Ethics Daily]

Baptists Join with Pope for the Sake of “Christian Unity” — Pulpit & Pen

An “Irresistible” Faith and Its “Likeable” Devotees? — Pyromaniacs

The Bible Confronts a Major Modern Misconception

by Colin Eakin

“How do I know if I am a true Christian?”

Have you ever asked yourself that question? God says you should. Paul writes to the Corinthian church, “Examine yourselves, to see whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you not realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you fail to meet the test!” (2 Cor. 13:5). So those who desire to be true followers of Jesus Christ are expected to assess whether Jesus truly lives within. How is this done?

This question was anticipated and answered by the Lord Jesus Himself. He told a group of recent Jewish believers, “If you abide in my Word, you are truly My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31b-32). So according to Jesus, the criterion for knowing who truly belongs to Him is fidelity to His Word, which brings knowledge of truth, which brings everlasting freedom from the sin—its penalty, its power and (one day) its presence altogether.

Well, how hard could that be—staying true to Jesus’ Word? One look at the modern evangelical church would indicate harder than you might think. In fact, one of the most astounding and appalling realities of our present day is how many would-be faithful followers of Christ regularly imbibe teaching that is not only not what Christ taught, but is in fact the exact opposite! And of all the topics where what the Bible teaches and what is commonly taught as true are most at odds, at or near the top is the anticipated response of the world to the Christ-led life.

Take, for example, the latest book from the pastor of one of America’s largest churches. In it, he claims that if Christ-followers were to live out the faith as was originally taught and exampled by Christ, the appeal of that faith would be irresistible to a watching world. Similarly, another American megachurch pastor and popular author this past year exposited Matthew 5:20 for his congregation as follows:

To understand Jesus, we might actually translate Matthew 5, verse 20—a really core statement in the Sermon on the Mount—”Unless your ‘likeability’ surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven.” We think of righteousness as this kind of cliché, pious thing, but really it’s very much . . . to be a likable, caring, loving person.

Is that true? Is the authentically lived, Christ-led life “irresistible” to a watching world? And is “likeability” an anticipated assessment we should expect those outside the Church to attach to the genuine Christ follower? What is the biblical testimony in this regard?

Answer: it would be hard to parody what the Bible has to say more outrageously. The modern evangelical notion that authentic Christianity and its eminently “likeable” Christ-followers should be “irresistible” to the surrounding world could not be further from what the Bible actually says. This would even qualify as outrageous lampoon—such as from the Babylon Bee—were it not for the fact that these teachers are 100% serious. As it is, the only way such evangelical charlatans can get away with this scandalous deception is that their listeners must never bother to open and read the Bible.

Here is how “irresistible” Christianity was at its outset. Nearly two years into Christ’s ministry, the question on the mind of one witness was: “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” (Luke 13:23). And Jesus does not contradict this assessment, but informs His followers that the path to salvation is agonizing! (Agonizing paths, it should be obvious, are not irresistible.) Then, by the end of Christ’s earthly tenure, after thousands upon thousands had heard His message while eating divinely-prepared food and being miraculously healed of every condition imaginable, the sum total of believers was not many more than 120 in an upper room in Jerusalem (Acts 1:15), with 500 more in Galilee (1 Cor. 15:6). Even given generous approximations, the “conversion rate” of Christianity while the Son of God walked the earth seems to have been in the neighborhood of 0.1%—hardly an “irresistible” number.

As for the “likeability” of true believers, Jesus says to those He sent out during His ministry, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake” (Mt. 10:22). (Likeability, it should be obvious, does not induce hatred). He says of the future destiny of His followers in His Olivet Discourse, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Mt. 24:9). And in John 15:19, He declares to His Apostles, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, therefore the world hates you.” So, according to Jesus, the faithful life of believers engenders hatred from the world, a far cry from “likeability.”

Well, maybe these were ominous predictions of Christ simply because He knew that His fallible followers would fall so far short of His example. But Christ was “likeable” while here in earthly form, wasn’t He? After all, if we as Christians are to be His “likeable” followers, our Mentor must have epitomized this quality, right? The answer is found in John 7:7, where Jesus says to His brothers (who, at this point, were not yet believers in Him), “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify about it that its works are evil.” And in John 15:18 and 20, Jesus provides clarification to His above warning (John 15:19) to His Apostles: “If the world hates you, know that it hated Me before it hated you . . . Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his Master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will persecute you.”

Wow. Jesus says He wasn’t likeable because of His message, and His Apostles were given the same unpopular message, guaranteed to make them pariahs. So Jesus was hated, as were His Apostles. But maybe that all changes by the time the Church gets off the ground. Doesn’t God want His church to be popular? Isn’t that how it grows, through pragmatic, “seeker-friendly” methods designed to optimize the appeal of Jesus? What is the expectation of the NT writers on this topic?

To this, we find that Peter’s expectation of odium and mistreatment for faithfulness to Christ is no different from Jesus’ day. He informs his readers:

“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when His glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you” (1 Pet. 4:12-14).

Paul, too, anticipates the unpopular nature of Christianity and its converts when he preaches in Lystra that entrance to the kingdom of God is fraught with many tribulations (Acts 14:22). In 2 Cor. 11:23-28, Paul itemizes exactly how “resistible” his message was as he details the litany of imprisonments, beatings, and near-death experiences that it brought. And toward the end of his ministry, he writes to Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12).

So, the anticipation of Jesus and His Apostles is animosity and persecution for the faithful, just as Christ Himself received. They anticipate that most will reject the far-from-irresistible message of repentance for the forgiveness of sins (Luke 24:47), and will turn on those who devotedly proclaim this gospel. In fact, the atrocious interpretation of “righteousness” as “likeability” in Mt. 5:20 is especially egregious, because not only did Jesus teach the exact opposite, but He did so only moments earlier in the same talk! He declares in Matt. 5:10-12:

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on My account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Clearly, Jesus is not on board with the idea that His message is supposed to be “irresistible” to the world and that his followers would be known for their “likeability.” These specious musings are so opposite from what Jesus actually had to say that, again, the natural impulse is to assume it is all meant as satire, except for the dead-serious nature of its exponents.

So if, in reality, the biblically-expected response to gospel presentation is mostly rejection of its message and revilement of its adherents, how then are those adherents to stay faithful? After all, no one in right mind would choose a life of rejection and persecution without some compelling incentive. Without a gripping motivation to remain true, the tendency to defect would be overwhelming. In fact, even during the earthly ministry of Jesus, many of His followers deserted Him as the cost of discipleship began to hit home (cf. John 6:60, 66). As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Cor. 15:19).

But it is not in this life that the believer has hope. Rather, faithful followers of Christ are those who have relinquished all earthly attachments, including their own lives, in hope of the eternal blessing to come (Luke 14:26). They are those who have denied themselves and daily take up the cross of shame and reproach originally intended for Jesus (Luke 9:23). As Paul explains to the Galatians, “But far be it from me to boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” True followers of Christ are those who have already been crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20) and now consider it a small thing to forsake everything for His cause.

Referring back to Matt. 5:12, Jesus actually exhorts the maligned believer to “rejoice and be glad” for such mistreatment. Why? Jesus goes on to link suffering on account of Him with one’s eternal reward. His undeniable implication is that one’s experience of persecution is a barometer for how faithfully one is proclaiming the gospel, which in turn brings greater blessing in heaven. In fact, if one is not experiencing any persecution from the world, one must wonder if he or she is really living a life faithful to the Savior.

Finally, Jesus connects the suffering of His present faithful with the treatment received by His former Old Testament prophets. These “spirits of just men made perfect” (Heb. 12:24) now enjoy the incomparable bliss of holy communion and perfect fellowship with God as they await their promised resurrection (Dan. 12:2; 1 Thess. 4:14-16). Today’s faithful are to look to these heroes of the past, those ” . . . who died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). These prophets of old—“of whom the world was not worthy” (Heb. 11:38)—desired something beyond this world, “a better country, that is, a heavenly one” (Heb. 11:16), the same heavenly dwelling Christ has prepared for all who repent and believe in Him (John 14:3).

So, to review:

  1. Christ’s true followers abide in His Word, a considerable challenge given the abundance of anti-biblical notions in today’s modern evangelical morass;
  2. Christ’s Word promises widespread rejection—not “irresistibility”—of the Christian faith, and widespread persecution—not “likeability”—for Christ’s faithful followers;
  3. One’s experience of persecution is a barometer for how faithfully one is sharing the gospel message of “repentance and the forgiveness of sins” (Luke 24:47);
  4. In like manner, one’s eternal reward will directly depend upon one’s faithfulness in the face of persecution;
  5. Christ’s faithful followers are to endure persecution like the prophets of old by anticipating the glorious reward that awaits them in the coming age.

Dr. Colin L. Eakin Pyromaniac

Dr. Eakin is a sports medicine orthopædic surgeon in the Bay Area and part time teacher at Grace Bible Fellowship Church’s Stanford campus ministry. He is the author of God’s Glorious Story.

An “Irresistible” Faith and Its “Likeable” Devotees? — Pyromaniacs

Celebrity Loves Hillsong Because It Doesn’t Teach “the Book with Moses and all that stuff.” — Pulpit & Pen

Jax Taylor with reality co-star and girlfriend, Brittany Cartwright

Jax Taylor is an actor and model and currently stars in a Bravo reality television series entitled Vanderpump Rules. Taylor has modeled for the cover of Trump Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Esquire, and Cosmo Girl. He’s also done ads for major retailers like Target, Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Old Navy, Nordstrom’s, and Abercrombie and Fitch. Most recently, he’s been known as the boyfriend of Brittany Cartwright, another reality star.

Taylor also attends Hillsong Church in Los Angeles and has some interesting reasons for attending the congregation.

He is just one of many celebrities who are drawn to the lights, glitz and glamor of the Christianity-lite worship experiences of the Charismatic Hillsong, the quickest growing church on the planet. The question is why do so many celebrities – especially those known for their carnality, worldly behavior, and apparent lostness – attend Hillsong?

Taylor told The Daily Dish, a Bravo publication, “Well I’ve been starting to go to church a lot. So when I started [dating] Brittany who’s obviously very Christian and goes to church a lot. And I wasn’t anti-church — I grew up going to church — I just never went. I just felt like I didn’t need to go again.”

Taylor continued, “I don’t really go to a really churchy-type of church … Like the Kardashians always sit in front of me, or Justin Beiber’s next to me all the time. Recently, I took her for the first time and she was just like [‘This is crazy’… ‘Literally there in front of me [is] Hailey Baldwin and Justin’].”

Why are they all there?

Taylor said, “But it’s actually a fun church. It just relates God to today and what you’re going through today. It’s not really in the book with Moses and all that stuff; it’s just kind of dealing with today.”

He continued, “It’s more spiritual; it is a Christian church and we go every Wednesday night. [Judah Smith] flies in from Seattle. He’s just really good. He’s just amazing. He’s funny and I need it. It’s like my recharge for the week. I look forward to it. It’s gotten to the point where it’s like, ‘Brittany, let’s go,’ where she was the church one at first. But now I am.”

Are these celebrities turning to Christ? Are they experiencing worship in Spirit and in Truth? Is it really Chritianity if it doesn’t include “the book with Moses and all that stuff?”

Celebrity Loves Hillsong Because It Doesn’t Teach “the Book with Moses and all that stuff.” — Pulpit & Pen