Scripture Reading: 1 Samuel 15
Key Verses: Psalm 51:3–4
I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight—that You may be found just when You speak, and blameless when You judge.
Saul deliberately disobeyed God, and even worse, he knowingly lied about it to the prophet Samuel. It was then that Samuel had to deliver the dreaded message that God had rejected Saul as king.
Was Saul sorry? Yes, but he never did accept full blame for his actions. You can hear the attempt at justification in his response: “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the people and so I gave in to them” (1 Sam. 15:24 niv).
Now look at the words of King David, whom God appointed to be ruler after Saul. David had sinned grievously as well, but he said this: “I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned” (Ps. 51:3–4 niv).
Can you tell the difference between these two confessions? Saul did not really repent because he refused to acknowledge the sin as his own. But David knew better. He fully acknowledged his sin, and he asked God for forgiveness.
That is the kind of repentance God wants from you. He knows your heart and your weaknesses, and He wants you to admit them. The Lord wants you to experience the relief and peace of being forgiven through Christ.
Master, I know my transgressions. My sin is always before me. Against You, and You only, have I sinned. I repent. Thank You for the blood of Jesus that cleanses my sin.
On this episode of Polemics Report, JD discusses the top 5 news stories of the day and then reads emails of support regarding ShepCon Gate. Listen in!
Scripture reading: John 5:24–38
Key verse: Galatians 5:1
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
Oswald Chambers wrote,
A spiritually minded man or woman will never come to you with the demand, “Believe this and that,” but with the demand that you square your life with the standards of Jesus.
We are not asked to believe the Bible, but to believe the One whom the Bible reveals (John 5:39–40). We are called to present liberty of conscience, not liberty of view. If we are free with the liberty of Christ, others will be brought into that same liberty—the liberty of realizing the dominance of Jesus Christ.
Always keep your life measured by the standards of Jesus. Bow your neck to His yoke alone, and to no other yoke whatever; and be careful to see that you never bind a yoke on others that is not placed by Jesus Christ. It takes God a long time to get us out of the way of thinking that unless everyone sees as we do, they must be wrong. That is never God’s view. There is only one liberty, the liberty of Jesus at work in our conscience enabling us to do what is right.
Don’t get impatient, remember how God dealt with you with patience and with gentleness; but never water down the truth of God. Let it have its way and never apologize for it.
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples,” not “make converts to your opinions.”
Dear Lord, help me make disciples to Your Word rather than converts to my opinions. Set me free through Your Word and then empower me to share that freedom with others.
[Fred Butler | Hip and Thigh] Conspiracy provocateur and vitamin supplement grifter, Brannon Howse, continues his personal campaign of humiliating failure. His latest attempt was a blinding pyre of self-immolation that was wildly entertaining to behold.
In his pursuit to discredit the 50 year ministry of pastor John MacArthur, Howse manufactured a fake scandal that rivals the hacks at Buzzfeed News that involves him misleading Civil Rights icon, Charles Evers, in a phone interview and then dispatching one of his social media toadies to write up a deceptive report about it that was debunked within a matter of hours.
Stay with me, this is gonna be fun!
It went down like this:
Those who are familiar with pastor John MacArthur knows that before he pastored Grace Community Church, he was involved for a few years in the 1960s with revivals and ministry crusades in the segregated south with his friend John Perkins. During the week of Martin Luther King’s assassination, March 31st to April 6th, 1968, John was with Perkins helping with some crusades in Mississippi. While in Jackson, news broke of MLK’s assassination. Listen to John recall the events surrounding that day:
John has recounted that story a number of times over the years. In that particular video, he was with Perkins when he retold it. If there were any details amiss about his version of events, Perkins could have corrected them, because he was on the front row. If not there, at some later point. Moreover, John even asked him to clarify about Evers being the first black mayor in rural Fayette, MS.
Sometime last year, Brannon Howse was able to finagle a phone interview with Charles Evers. In that interview, Howse asked Evers, who is now 96 years old, if John was with him on the night of MLK’s murder. Evers answers that he does not know John, that he was alone when he received the news of MLK, and that whoever John is he needs to stop lying to people. The interview can be heard HERE.
The audio interview was added to a larger fake news report written up by one of Brannon’s social media sycophants and posted on an ad heavy screaming eagle patriot style website. The obvious take away from the entire article is that John MacArthur is a liar who made up his involvement with those men on that night. He is essentially like Ergun Caner, creating a bogus history about his early life.
Once that article went live, all of the woker-than-thou social justice scolds, and other various MacArthur haters from the survivor blogger fever swamps, breathlessly rushed to twitter to link it and grimly shake their heads at how awful John is. The celebrity pastor who was behind that terrible Statement on Social Justice inserted himself into a fraudulent narrative with key Civil Rights era leaders to boost his credibility as to speaking against social justice. This is certainly an explosive story. One that could ruin John’s legacy, that just so happens to have come to light right on the eve of him celebrating his 50th anniversary at Grace Community Church! How convenient! Will he respond?
Now this is where it gets really good
As soon as the web article was circulating and folks were listening to the interview with Evers, a number of people wondered if the interviewer was Howse. Even though the voice didn’t sound like his, the cadence and inflections sure did sound like him. The marvel of the internet is how immediately a story like this can be truly fact checked and then blown up. One resourceful fellow downloaded the audio and then adjusted the pitch to normal.
He discovered this,
Of course the most obvious question that comes to mind is why did Howse mask his voice? What was the point? Typically when a person is interviewed, it is his or her voice that may be masked for personal protection. But masking the voice of the interviewer? Odd.
A doctored interview should immediately raise suspicions of journalistic fraud, but the website hosting the article believes it represents “well-researched journalism.” Seeing how the mainstream media has so tainted actual journalism by turning lies into truth, I understand why they are naive like that.
[Editor’s Note: Posted in accordance with fair use, the original post was written by Fred Butler and can be found at Hip and Thigh.]
A historic interfaith covenant was signed in the Middle East on Monday, and the mainstream media in the United States has been almost entirely silent about it…
A historic interfaith covenant was signed in the Middle East on Monday, and the mainstream media in the United States has been almost entirely silent about it.
Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb is considered to be the most important imam in Sunni Islam, and he arrived at the signing ceremony in Abu Dhabi with Pope Francis “hand-in-hand in a symbol of interfaith brotherhood”. But this wasn’t just a ceremony for Catholics and Muslims. According to a British news source, the signing of this covenant was done “in front of a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths”…
The pope and the grand imam of al-Azhar have signed a historic declaration of fraternity, calling for peace between nations, religions and races, in front of a global audience of religious leaders from Christianity, Islam, Judaism and other faiths.
Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s Catholics, and Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the head of Sunni Islam’s most prestigious seat of learning, arrived at the ceremony in Abu Dhabi hand-in-hand in a symbol of interfaith brotherhood.
In other words, there was a concerted effort to make sure that all of the religions of the world were represented at this gathering.
According to the official Vatican website, a tremendous amount of preparation went in to the drafting of this document, and it encourages believers from all religions “to shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray” with one another…
The document, signed by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, was prepared “with much reflection and prayer”, the Pope said. The one great danger at this moment, he continued, is “destruction, war, hatred between us.” “If we believers are not able to shake hands, embrace one another, kiss one another, and even pray, our faith will be defeated”, he said. The Pope explained that the document “is born of faith in God who is the Father of all and the Father of peace; it condemns all destruction, all terrorism, from the first terrorism in history, that of Cain.”
There is a lot of language about peace in this document, but it goes way beyond just advocating for peace.
Over and over again, the word “God” is used to simultaneously identify Allah and the God of Christianity. Here is just one example…
We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.
On top of that, the document also boldly declares that “the diversity of religions” that we see in the world was “willed by God”…
Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;
In essence, this is saying that it is the will of God that there are hundreds of different religions in the world and that they are all acceptable in His sight.
We know that the elite want a one world religion, but to see the most important clerics from both Catholicism and Islam make such a dramatic public push for it is absolutely stunning.
You can find the full text of the covenant that they signed on the official Vatican website. I have also reproduced the entire document below…
* * *
Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved. Through faith in God, who has created the universe, creatures and all human beings (equal on account of his mercy), believers are called to express this human fraternity by safeguarding creation and the entire universe and supporting all persons, especially the poorest and those most in need.
This transcendental value served as the starting point for several meetings characterized by a friendly and fraternal atmosphere where we shared the joys, sorrows and problems of our contemporary world. We did this by considering scientific and technical progress, therapeutic achievements, the digital era, the mass media and communications. We reflected also on the level of poverty, conflict and suffering of so many brothers and sisters in different parts of the world as a consequence of the arms race, social injustice, corruption, inequality, moral decline, terrorism, discrimination, extremism and many other causes.
From our fraternal and open discussions, and from the meeting that expressed profound hope in a bright future for all human beings, the idea of this Document on Human Fraternity was conceived. It is a text that has been given honest and serious thought so as to be a joint declaration of good and heartfelt aspirations. It is a document that invites all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.
In the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity, and who has called them to live together as brothers and sisters, to fill the earth and make known the values of goodness, love and peace;
In the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill, affirming that whoever kills a person is like one who kills the whole of humanity, and that whoever saves a person is like one who saves the whole of humanity;
In the name of the poor, the destitute, the marginalized and those most in need whom God has commanded us to help as a duty required of all persons, especially the wealthy and of means;
In the name of orphans, widows, refugees and those exiled from their homes and their countries; in the name of all victims of wars, persecution and injustice; in the name of the weak, those who live in fear, prisoners of war and those tortured in any part of the world, without distinction;
In the name of peoples who have lost their security, peace, and the possibility of living together, becoming victims of destruction, calamity and war;
In the name of human fraternity that embraces all human beings, unites them and renders them equal;
In the name of this fraternity torn apart by policies of extremism and division, by systems of unrestrained profit or by hateful ideological tendencies that manipulate the actions and the future of men and women;
In the name of freedom, that God has given to all human beings creating them free and distinguishing them by this gift;
In the name of justice and mercy, the foundations of prosperity and the cornerstone of faith;
In the name of all persons of good will present in every part of the world;
In the name of God and of everything stated thus far; Al-Azhar al-Sharif and the Muslims of the East and West, together with the Catholic Church and the Catholics of the East and West, declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard.
We, who believe in God and in the final meeting with Him and His judgment, on the basis of our religious and moral responsibility, and through this Document, call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing.
We call upon intellectuals, philosophers, religious figures, artists, media professionals and men and women of culture in every part of the world, to rediscover the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity and coexistence in order to confirm the importance of these values as anchors of salvation for all, and to promote them everywhere.
This Declaration, setting out from a profound consideration of our contemporary reality, valuing its successes and in solidarity with its suffering, disasters and calamities, believes firmly that among the most important causes of the crises of the modern world are a desensitized human conscience, a distancing from religious values and a prevailing individualism accompanied by materialistic philosophies that deify the human person and introduce worldly and material values in place of supreme and transcendental principles.
While recognizing the positive steps taken by our modern civilization in the fields of science, technology, medicine, industry and welfare, especially in developed countries, we wish to emphasize that, associated with such historic advancements, great and valued as they are, there exists both a moral deterioration that influences international action and a weakening of spiritual values and responsibility. All this contributes to a general feeling of frustration, isolation and desperation leading many to fall either into a vortex of atheistic, agnostic or religious extremism, or into blind and fanatic extremism, which ultimately encourage forms of dependency and individual or collective self-destruction.
History shows that religious extremism, national extremism and also intolerance have produced in the world, be it in the East or West, what might be referred to as signs of a “third world war being fought piecemeal”. In several parts of the world and in many tragic circumstances these signs have begun to be painfully apparent, as in those situations where the precise number of victims, widows and orphans is unknown. We see, in addition, other regions preparing to become theatres of new conflicts, with outbreaks of tension and a build-up of arms and ammunition, and all this in a global context overshadowed by uncertainty, disillusionment, fear of the future, and controlled by narrow-minded economic interests.
We likewise affirm that major political crises, situations of injustice and lack of equitable distribution of natural resources – which only a rich minority benefit from, to the detriment of the majority of the peoples of the earth – have generated, and continue to generate, vast numbers of poor, infirm and deceased persons. This leads to catastrophic crises that various countries have fallen victim to despite their natural resources and the resourcefulness of young people which characterize these nations. In the face of such crises that result in the deaths of millions of children – wasted away from poverty and hunger – there is an unacceptable silence on the international level.
It is clear in this context how the family as the fundamental nucleus of society and humanity is essential in bringing children into the world, raising them, educating them, and providing them with solid moral formation and domestic security. To attack the institution of the family, to regard it with contempt or to doubt its important role, is one of the most threatening evils of our era.
We affirm also the importance of awakening religious awareness and the need to revive this awareness in the hearts of new generations through sound education and an adherence to moral values and upright religious teachings. In this way we can confront tendencies that are individualistic, selfish, conflicting, and also address radicalism and blind extremism in all its forms and expressions.
The first and most important aim of religions is to believe in God, to honour Him and to invite all men and women to believe that this universe depends on a God who governs it. He is the Creator who has formed us with His divine wisdom and has granted us the gift of life to protect it. It is a gift that no one has the right to take away, threaten or manipulate to suit oneself. Indeed, everyone must safeguard this gift of life from its beginning up to its natural end. We therefore condemn all those practices that are a threat to life such as genocide, acts of terrorism, forced displacement, human trafficking, abortion and euthanasia. We likewise condemn the policies that promote these practices.
Moreover, we resolutely declare that religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood. These tragic realities are the consequence of a deviation from religious teachings. They result from a political manipulation of religions and from interpretations made by religious groups who, in the course of history, have taken advantage of the power of religious sentiment in the hearts of men and women in order to make them act in a way that has nothing to do with the truth of religion. This is done for the purpose of achieving objectives that are political, economic, worldly and short-sighted. We thus call upon all concerned to stop using religions to incite hatred, violence, extremism and blind fanaticism, and to refrain from using the name of God to justify acts of murder, exile, terrorism and oppression. We ask this on the basis of our common belief in God who did not create men and women to be killed or to fight one another, nor to be tortured or humiliated in their lives and circumstances. God, the Almighty, has no need to be defended by anyone and does not want His name to be used to terrorize people.
This Document, in accordance with previous International Documents that have emphasized the importance of the role of religions in the construction of world peace, upholds the following:
– The firm conviction that authentic teachings of religions invite us to remain rooted in the values of peace; to defend the values of mutual understanding,human fraternity and harmonious coexistence; to re-establish wisdom, justice and love; and to reawaken religious awareness among young people so that future generations may be protected from the realm of materialistic thinking and from dangerous policies of unbridled greed and indifference that are based on the law of force and not on the force of law;
– Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action. The pluralism and the diversity of religions, colour, sex, race and language are willed by God in His wisdom, through which He created human beings. This divine wisdom is the source from which the right to freedom of belief and the freedom to be different derives. Therefore, the fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept;
– Justice based on mercy is the path to follow in order to achieve a dignified life to which every human being has a right;
– Dialogue, understanding and the widespread promotion of a culture of tolerance, acceptance of others and of living together peacefully would contribute significantly to reducing many economic, social, political and environmental problems that weigh so heavily on a large part of humanity;
– Dialogue among believers means coming together in the vast space of spiritual, human and shared social values and, from here, transmitting the highest moral virtues that religions aim for. It also means avoiding unproductive discussions;
– The protection of places of worship – synagogues, churches and mosques – is a duty guaranteed by religions, human values, laws and international agreements. Every attempt to attack places of worship or threaten them by violent assaults, bombings or destruction, is a deviation from the teachings of religions as well as a clear violation of international law;
– Terrorism is deplorable and threatens the security of people, be they in the East or the West, the North or the South, and disseminates panic, terror and pessimism, but this is not due to religion, even when terrorists instrumentalize it. It is due, rather, to an accumulation of incorrect interpretations of religious texts and to policies linked to hunger, poverty, injustice, oppression and pride. This is why it is so necessary to stop supporting terrorist movements fuelled by financing, the provision of weapons and strategy, and by attempts to justify these movements even using the media. All these must be regarded as international crimes that threaten security and world peace. Such terrorism must be condemned in all its forms and expressions;
– The concept of citizenship is based on the equality of rights and duties, under which all enjoy justice. It is therefore crucial to establish in our societies the concept of full citizenship and reject the discriminatory use of the term minoritieswhich engenders feelings of isolation and inferiority. Its misuse paves the way for hostility and discord; it undoes any successes and takes away the religious and civil rights of some citizens who are thus discriminated against;
– Good relations between East and West are indisputably necessary for both. They must not be neglected, so that each can be enriched by the other’s culture through fruitful exchange and dialogue. The West can discover in the East remedies for those spiritual and religious maladies that are caused by a prevailing materialism. And the East can find in the West many elements that can help free it from weakness, division, conflict and scientific, technical and cultural decline. It is important to pay attention to religious, cultural and historical differences that are a vital component in shaping the character, culture and civilization of the East. It is likewise important to reinforce the bond of fundamental human rights in order to help ensure a dignified life for all the men and women of East and West, avoiding the politics of double standards;
– It is an essential requirement to recognize the right of women to education and employment, and to recognize their freedom to exercise their own political rights. Moreover, efforts must be made to free women from historical and social conditioning that runs contrary to the principles of their faith and dignity. It is also necessary to protect women from sexual exploitation and from being treated as merchandise or objects of pleasure or financial gain. Accordingly, an end must be brought to all those inhuman and vulgar practices that denigrate the dignity of women. Efforts must be made to modify those laws that prevent women from fully enjoying their rights;
– The protection of the fundamental rights of children to grow up in a family environment, to receive nutrition, education and support, are duties of the family and society. Such duties must be guaranteed and protected so that they are not overlooked or denied to any child in any part of the world. All those practices that violate the dignity and rights of children must be denounced. It is equally important to be vigilant against the dangers that they are exposed to, particularly in the digital world, and to consider as a crime the trafficking of their innocence and all violations of their youth;
– The protection of the rights of the elderly, the weak, the disabled, and the oppressed is a religious and social obligation that must be guaranteed and defended through strict legislation and the implementation of the relevant international agreements.
To this end, by mutual cooperation, the Catholic Church and Al-Azhar announce and pledge to convey this Document to authorities, influential leaders, persons of religion all over the world, appropriate regional and international organizations, organizations within civil society, religious institutions and leading thinkers. They further pledge to make known the principles contained in this Declaration at all regional and international levels, while requesting that these principles be translated into policies, decisions, legislative texts, courses of study and materials to be circulated.
Al-Azhar and the Catholic Church ask that this Document become the object of research and reflection in all schools, universities and institutes of formation, thus helping to educate new generations to bring goodness and peace to others, and to be defenders everywhere of the rights of the oppressed and of the least of our brothers and sisters.
In conclusion, our aspiration is that:
this Declaration may constitute an invitation to reconciliation and fraternity among all believers, indeed among believers and non-believers, and among all people of good will;
this Declaration may be an appeal to every upright conscience that rejects deplorable violence and blind extremism; an appeal to those who cherish the values of tolerance and fraternity that are promoted and encouraged by religions;
this Declaration may be a witness to the greatness of faith in God that unites divided hearts and elevates the human soul;
this Declaration may be a sign of the closeness between East and West, between North and South, and between all who believe that God has created us to understand one another, cooperate with one another and live as brothers and sisters who love one another.
This is what we hope and seek to achieve with the aim of finding a universal peace that all can enjoy in this life.
— Read on www.zerohedge.com/news/2019-02-07/snyder-one-world-religion-looms-pope-islams-top-imam-sign-historic-covenant
Seven years ago, The Elephant’s Debt was launched amidst mounting concerns about the theological drift at Harvest Bible Chapel. But what began with apprehensions over Trinitarian formulations and prosperity gospel inclinations quickly morphed into something much larger, and far more troubling. Reports from former elders and pastors began to pour in. Harvest was deeply in debt and the campuses were cross-collateralized against one another, tying all of them to the same financial fate if something were to run afoul. As 2012 rolled into 2013 and The Elephant’s Debt continued to publish its’ concerns, Harvest began to experience a precipitous drop in giving. According to the lawsuit MacDonald and the leaders of Harvest filed against TED, more than 2000 congregants left the church, taking their tithes with them. Making matters worse, Harvest was in the midst of the 5G campaign, which was supposed to bring in $30 million between 2012 and 2014. But by the end of the three years, less than $20 million had been raised, and HBC was forced to try to extend the campaign into 2015. All that to say, when The Elephant’s Debt was the sole voice of dissent, Harvest experienced tremendous financial pressure. By the end of 2013, it was averaging 18.5% shortfalls against its projected budget.
Now fast forward to the past 18 months. There have been a series of disastrous decisions and events that include:
- the dismantling of Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF),
- the initiation of a lawsuit against the Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU),
- the initiation of a lawsuit against TED, our wives and Julie Roys,
- the Naples campus debacle and the firing of John Seacrest,
- the publication of the Randy Williams’ text thread
- the publication of Julie Roy’s investigative piece by WORLD magazine
- the publication of MacDonald’s defense of lawsuits in Christianity Today,
- the publication by Julie Roys of MacDonald’s texts and financial admissions to David Wisen
- the widespread coverage of Harvest by The Daily Herald, the Chicago Tribune and Mancow
- the recent submission of detailed accounts of MacDonald’s behavior to the elders by former staff members
Not surprisingly, Harvest is taking another punishing financial blow. But this time, it would appear that the weekly losses may be even worse than 2013. From the first week of October to the fourth week of December 2018, Harvest Bible Chapel did not make budget for 12 straight weeks.  And as a result, the leadership appears to have reduced the planned budget for 2019 by a little over $1 million per year. And it is against that newly reduced budget that Harvest is still coming up short. Over the course of the first four weeks of this year, Harvest is running 31% behind. This is clearly unsustainable over the long term. And perhaps the elders have figured out that Harvest may be better off without the MacDonald family.
Last night, several different sources began to reach out to The Elephant’s Debt suggesting one of two distinct possibilities. Either, MacDonald was set to be fired by the elder board this weekend or, alternatively, he would be given the chance to resign his position. It goes without saying that these reports should be received cautiously, as reports of this nature have come to us on at least two previous occasions including the morning that the HBC elders announced that MacDonald would be placed on an “indefinite sabbatical.”
Given our desire to be patient with the process, we elected not to publish last night. However, this morning, Mancow Muller made the following announcement on his radio program. And as has been our practice as of late, we are merely pointing to what another figure is now publicly reporting as fact.
Does money always corrupt? Does power always corrupt? I want to talk about what I believe is the bankrupt soul of a man named James MacDonald, the leader of thousands and thousands of Christians. I count myself as a Christian and a member of that flock; and what I saw behind the curtain sickened me. The amount of lies and deception that I witnessed sickened me. I went public in The Daily Herald. And this weekend, they will announce: James MacDonald is no longer a part of Harvest Bible Chapel. That is what my sources are telling me. There are many locations including the brilliant, beautiful cathedral in Chicago. And this will be the biggest story in religious news on earth today and you’re hearing it here first. I take no joy in this, but I really found him to be just a conman. Would have been a great car salesman. Would have been a great radio salesman. I would’ve liked to offer him a job selling the Mancow show here. My sources tell me he was fired, his assistant Rick will soon be gone and also the boys who I like a great deal, Luke and especially Landon. Again, I take no joy in this, but they also will be gone shortly. Again, I take no joy in this. But half a million dollars here, half a million dollars there, books that weren’t open, really just laughing at these fools – I mean I witnessed it – laughing at the fools around him and the flock that he saw as a bunch of marks – you know, the poor people, the old ladies, whatever that come in that really – I give 10% of my salary to charity, including money to Harvest Bible Church. And I’m not – I’m not – you know people don’t donate to have some guy move this here and that there, pass the buck, and buy himself a $100,000 truck or whatever, half a million dollar deer farm that was supposed to go to plant churches. Whatever it is, I wanted open books. Where’s our money going? Forty-two million dollars in debt … [conversation diverts to other topic] … So this guy, James MacDonald, who will be out this weekend, $42 million dollars in debt … he’s going to walk away – God knows how many millions he has – and he leaves behind $42 million dollars of debt. Wow, what a scammer!
Again, we must stress that this situation is very fluid, and additional meetings may take place that could potentially alter the outcome that Mancow is confidently predicting and was the first to report. Thus, until we hear it clearly from the elders of HBC or MacDonald himself, we will but hope and pray for the elders to have the strength of character to do the hard thing.
In recent days, we have elected to remain silent to give the elders time and space to think, pray and act. Clearly, this story was far too significant to let it pass without comment by TED. But as a continued sign of our good faith and hope for this institution, we will keep the comment section on this post closed.
 The final week of December 2018 was not reported on the website. Instead, the year end numbers were announced in service.
25 Security, faith in the Lord. True security is the result of trusting God and not humans. The contrast is between “trusting” (bôṭēaḥ.) the Lord and “fearing man” (ḥerdat ʾādām). Such fear becomes a snare when it gets to the point of letting others control your life—their opinions and attitudes put subtle pressure on you, even hindering you from speaking the truth or doing what is right (Whybray, 169–70). Release from such bondage comes when people put their faith in the Lord alone (see 10:27; 12:2; and the example of the apostles in Ac 5:29).
29:25 / Antithetic. Fear of man can mean anxiety about oneself or (more probably) worry about what others think. The antidote to this is trust in yhwh (cf. 18:10).
25 “Someone” can be either a subjective or objective genitive. The fear (חרד is the root) does not refer to the common “fear of the Lord”; it designates trembling, and it could be anxiety about one’s own person (self-paralysis) or fear of another. It points to uncertainty and a susceptibility to be easy prey to the desires of oneself or of another. In contrast stands v 25b; at first sight, the “high” post might seem like indomitable self-confidence, but it is rooted in trust in the Lord; cf. 18:10b; 28:25b.
Ver. 25. Fear of man bringeth a snare. Fear of man (for which Hitzig conjectures הֲמֹד לְאָדָם, “desiring or delighting in man”) is strictly “trembling before men;” comp. 1 Sam. 14:15. Such a fear of man “bringeth a snare,” because it easily betrays into a participation in the sinful actions of men. With b comp. 18:10.
29:25–26. The wise should trust God and not fear … man. To fear man is to be anxious about what other people think and what they can do, it is the opposite of trust in God (Fox, Proverbs 10–31, 846–47; cf. Jr 15:5–8; Ps 56:5; Is 51:12–13). Therein lies the snare, for the fear of man easily overwhelms fear of the Lord and so promotes sin and folly (Clifford, Proverbs, 255). The solution is to trust in the Lord, recognizing that human power and opinion are inconsequential in comparison to the Lord. He who puts his trust in the Lord will be exalted, not in the sense of being honored but in the sense of being protected, elevated “beyond man’s reach” (Kidner, Proverbs, 177). Therefore, trusting in God protects a person from human power and from the sin and foolishness that results from fearing human opinion (cf. Ps 37:3–5; Pr 3:5–6; 18:10).
29:25. To fear (“tremble,” not the word for reverence before God; e.g., 1:7; 8:13; 9:10) man ensnares in the sense that one’s actions are controlled or confined by the person who is dreaded. It is far better to trust in the Lord because that brings safety (cf. 18:10; 28:18, 26). The words is kept safe are from the verb śāḡaḇ, “to be inaccessibly high or to be exalted.” Security in the Lord removes intimidation by man.
29:25 The fear of man results in yielding to human pressure to commit evil or to refrain from doing what is right. How many have gone to hell because they were afraid of what their friends would say if they trusted Christ!
The man who trusts in the Lord is safe, come what may. “We fear man so much,” wrote William Gurnall, “because we fear God so little.”
29:25 A snare can be fatal (13:14; 14:27; 18:7). Fear is literally “sheer terror” (1Sm 14:15; Is 21:4; Dn 10:7). A wise person does not fear mortal man. The only One to fear is the Lord, who is able to protect or destroy (18:10; Lk 12:4–5).
 Walvoord, J. F., & Zuck, R. B., Dallas Theological Seminary. (1985). The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 969). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 866). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
In what has been a long battle between Harvest Church founder, James MacDonald, and ex-church member and blogger, Julie Roys, it seems James MacDonald has lost his battle against free speech and bullying.
Last year, MacDonald sued Roys and other members for defamation, as Roys writes,
Harvest levels more than 100 allegations in its lawsuit, so I would need to write a book to address them all. Most of them are leveled against Ryan Mahoney and Scott Bryant, authors of The Elephant’s Debt. I will not comment on those allegations extensively since they don’t involve me.
However, what’s stunning about many of the allegations against Mahoney and Bryant is not only that they are false, but that James MacDonald—and presumably his elders and top staff—knew they were false.
In a recent subpoenaed text, MacDonald admits he took money from Harvest Bible Fellowship but stopped short of admitting any wrongdoing.
Mancow Muller reports on Twitter,
There has been no official statement from Harvest Bible Chapel at this time. Please check back later for updates.
- God does speak, but He speaks to us through His Word.
- Just who was King Saul?
- Such an interesting biographical sketch of Sarah Miller. Learning of God’s grace to fellow believers throughout Church history is a great encouragement.
- Speaking of author Simonetta Carr (who wrote the above biographical post), this book sounds like an excellent read. It’s now on my to-read list!
- Seek sanctification in the ordinary and that will be radical enough.
- What we do in secret matters.
- Remember Roald Dahl, author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? This letter is heartbreaking.
- Such a gracious reminder of God’s love for His own.
- I recently finished a book that chronicled the story of some fundamentalist Mormon sects. It was a fascinating read and gave great insight, not only into these fundamentalist spin-offs, but into mainline Mormonism, particularly in its early days. With that said, this article is timely, as it explains why one can’t get to Heaven through the Mormon faith.
- Are there seniors in your church? There should be. Embrace them.
•Everything marijuana advocates tell you is a lie
•The link between marijuana and rising rates of societal ills
•Harvard Med laments the destruction of the family
•Pastors replace Jesus with football for the Super Bowl
•How do I regain a love for the Bible?
•Can I ring up Plan B at my cashier job?
•When good kids hit a rebellious phase
Thanks to two Virginia politicians and the President’s state of the union address, the country has fixed its attention on the brutality of late-term abortion. Pro-choice advocates are responding as they usually do by trying to distract everyone from the reality of abortion:
Pro-choicer: “Nothing to see here, move along.”
Casual observer: “But that really seems like a small person being killed in an abortion.”
Pro-choicer: “You sound like you’re against women’s healthcare. And also, science.”
Casual observer: “But the baby…”
Pro-choicer: “Don’t you believe your lying eyes. It’s just a clump of cells… you know, because of science and stuff.”
The problem for pro-choicers is that the later the abortion occurs, the harder it is for them to succeed with the “clump of cells” evasion. Anyone with eyes can see what is happening, and the old dodges fall a little flat.
The recent focus on political leaders who support the right to kill unborn humans at any point up until birth (and in Northam’s case, perhaps even after birth) means that they are having to come up with new evasions—the silliest of which I just read this morning. According to Axios, these are “The Facts” about abortion that should mitigate your concern about late-term abortions:
• In an interview with CNN, Barbara Levy, the vice president of health policy at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said, “The phrase ‘late-term abortion,’ is medically inaccurate and has no clinical meaning.”
• Jennifer Conti, a fellow with the advocacy group Physicians for Reproductive Health, also told CNN: “In obstetrics, we don’t divide pregnancies into terms. ‘Late term’ is an invention of anti-abortion extremists to confuse, mislead and increase stigma.”
Did you catch the argument? It goes like this: Pro-lifers aren’t using the medically correct terms to describe late-term abortion. Therefore, you shouldn’t care that it’s legal to kill unborn human beings at any time up until the point of birth.
If that seems like a non-sequitur to you, that’s because it is. It is also one of the most pedantic and lame evasions that I have ever heard out of the pro-choice side. They are playing semantic games and hoping the casual observer will be too stupid to notice.
To all the casual observers of the abortion debate: Your eyes aren’t lying. Little people are killed in late-term abortions. Some people think it should be legal to kill those little people all the way up to the point of birth. Don’t let anyone distract you from that simple, central truth about abortion—especially those who think you are too stupid to know any better.
J. Gresham Machen, the great Presbyterian theologian from the early decades of the 20th century, brilliantly assessed the state of modern Christianity and the rise of Protestant liberalism. Rather than seeing liberal theology as a variant of the Christian faith, Machen labeled it as some other religion that merely poses as Christianity. For Machen, nothing unified orthodox Christianity with Protestant liberalism—the former pursued theological fidelity to the God of the Bible, while the latter morphed into an entirely new religion altogether.
This dichotomy beamed in a recent article from the New York Times with a shocking yet revealing headline: “This Canadian Preacher Doesn’t Believe in God but Supports Her Church.” The subject of the headline is the Reverend Gretta Vosper, an avowed atheist who serves as a minister in the United Church of Canada (UCC). In November of last year, the UCC almost convened an historic heresy trial against Vosper to determine if an atheist possessed the qualifications of a pastor. The Canadian church, however, capitulated and reached “a settlement” with Vosper—a decision that allowed Vosper to remain a minister in her church despite her atheistic belief.
The controversy between Vosper and the UCC stretches back to 2008 when Vosper’s book, With or Without God, trivialized belief in God. Her own concept of morality and virtue eclipsed faith in God as the primary marks of a Christian. In 2013, Vosper made her atheism public, followed by a 2015 letter that Vosper wrote in which she disparaged God’s presence in the world and activity in historical events. God could not be responsible because God does not exist. Her argument: There is no God, no one’s in charge. Accidents just happen. Belief in God, according to Vosper, belongs to an outdated worldview.
Interestingly, in her zeal to depart from an antiquated, theocentric worldview, Vosper’s congregation dramaticallyshrunk in size. When she discarded the Lord’s Prayer, her church deteriorated from 150 attendees to 50—an exodus of 100 people or two-thirds of the congregation. It turns out that cultural relevance, rather than saving a marginalized church, only hemorrhages to a swift demise.
Her atheism provoked the local jurisdiction of the UCC to conduct what Vosper labeled, a “heresy trial.” The local panel ruled her unsuitable for ministry and almost defrocked the atheist minister. Then, the National Churches conducted its final review of her case and subsequently reached a settlement with Vosper. The UCC explained its decision to end the investigation stating, “This doesn’t alter in any way the belief of the United Church of Canada in God.” In other words, atheism and theism are not incompatible in the view of this church. The requirement that one believe in God does not contradict the reality that one denies the existence of God. This is capitulation of the highest order. The UCC, by legitimizing atheism as a possible expression for its ministers, has actually erased all the lines, safeguards, and convictions that should guide the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing is out of bounds; nothing can cross the line because the line has disappeared. The UCC reduced belief in God to an outdated, outmoded, and inconsequential tenet of the Christian faith.
Vosper celebrated the UCC’s decision, stating, “It’s going to be wonderful. We’ll be out from underneath the heavy cloud, now we’ll be able to really fly.” Indeed, her church members did fly—they flew right out of the church in droves.
Julian Falconer, Vosper’s attorney, explained why the UCC settled rather than conducting a trail: “Both parties took a long look at the cost benefit at running a heresy trial, and whether it was good for anyone, and the results speak for themselves.” This explanation reveals an extremely important and harrowing reality behind this case. The UCC conducted a cost benefit analysis and decided that heresy was the lesser of two evils. The church weighed faith in God against “inclusivity” and valued inclusivism higher than theological fidelity. For the sake of the church, belief in God had to go.
Kevin Flatt’s book After Evangelicalism: The Sixties and the United Church chronicles the theological downgrade of the UCC since the 1960s. Social justice propelled the UCC rather than theological commitments. As such, the UCC became an engine of secularism and liberalism in Canada. It pioneered transgender ministers, supported abortion, and championed same-sex marriage before it became legal in Canada. Flatt’s analysis identified the “keep up or die” trope that drove the UCC’s liberal transformation. Cultural relevance conflicts with supernatural doctrines and theology. The UCC, like so many denominations guided by the “keep up or die” mentality, have surrendered theological conviction for the misguided hope that survival in this secular age hinges on abandoning the doctrines and precious truths of the gospel that have guided the Church since its inception. The results of this idea, however, have devastated liberal churches. It turns out that “keep up ordie” really means “keep up and die.” As Vosper declared, liberal churches do indeed fly; they fly right out of existence. Their members flee, their doors close, and the churches die fast.
Frankly, the number of liberal churches dying just serves to make the point learned from the Scriptures and 2,000 years of church history: A church that refuses to hold a heresy trial when faced with a heretic is no church of Jesus Christ.
This article draws from the February 8th edition of The Briefing. To listen to the full episode, click here. To subscribe to The Briefing–Dr. Mohler’s daily podcast that serves as an analysis of news and events–click here.
Why is it important for a church to subscribe to a confession of faith? From our 2015 National Conference, Sinclair Ferguson explains the role of the confession: to summarize biblical theology for the people of God in every place and every generation.
Message us for clear, concise, and trustworthy answers to your biblical and theological questions at Ask.Ligonier.org.
|scripture reading:||Luke 18:1–8|
|key verse:||Colossians 4:2|
Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.
A ten–year–old boy was asked to take piano lessons during school. Weekly lessons continued for several months until the piano teacher sent a note home recommending that the child drop the lessons because of his disinterest. When asked by his parents to explain his indifference, the boy said the lessons interfered with his recess period.
Similarly most of us are not likely to be devoted to someone or some objective unless we are convinced of its importance. It is not surprising then that Paul’s appeal in today’s passage—for the Christian to be devoted to prayer—is taken so casually. We must first be persuaded of the significance of prayer before we commit ourselves to it.
Prayer is an avenue through which the supernatural power of God is released into your circumstances. Do you have a need for God’s power, for God’s provision today in a relationship or endeavor? Prayer is a God–ordained method through which you can have access to His unlimited resources for your problems.
Prayer is the means by which you come to experience the loving will of God. When you pray, you confess your dependence on your sovereign, mighty God to accomplish His purposes in you and through you; and His will is then done on earth as it is in heaven.
Father, thank You for the privilege of prayer. I confess my dependence on You. Accomplish Your purposes in and through me. Let Your will be done this day.
When anxiety overtakes us, we become bound up in the small stuff of life, the passing, transitory things, when we should be focused on the eternal. Jesus is saying, “Look, God has taken care of the birds and the lilies. He has taken care of the tiny transitory parts of creation. But you’re much more valuable. You take care of his business, and don’t worry about your own.” As mentioned previously, I don’t mean that in some reckless way. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do what you need to do to take care of your family, or that you don’t need to pray, plan, or work. It just means we need to keep our priorities straight.
It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Hold on a minute, guys. You’ve got mixed-up priorities. You’re worried about what you’re going to eat, drink, and wear? Look, just keep following me. Let’s spread the gospel. Let’s be concerned about lost souls. Let’s expand the borders of the kingdom.” Of course there’ll be a future, earthly kingdom when Jesus returns, but in the present, he rules a spiritual kingdom in the hearts that are being changed by the gospel of God’s grace. If you give yourself to God’s business, he will meet your every need along the way. The other things “shall be added to you.” But if the lesser things become little gods, the true God is displaced, and life becomes a mess. That’s the thought here. When we hold nothing back from God, God will hold back nothing that is necessary to accomplish his will and do his work.
We see an illustration of this principle and promised provision in the Old Testament book of 1 Kings. Following the Lord’s faithful care of his prophet Elijah by ravens, which daily delivered bread and meat, God directed him to go to a town named Zarephath, where he would again be fed, this time by a poor widow. When Elijah arrived, he found the widow gathering sticks at the city gate and asked her for bread and water.
So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’” (1 Kings 17:12–14
The widow did as God’s prophet had directed her. She gave her last meal to him. What happened next? Her flour never ran out, and her oil flask never ran dry again. God provided for her needs. As she trusted the Lord by submitting to his messenger’s message, she experienced what would later be promised in Matthew 6:33 by Jesus. She sought first the kingdom of God, and all her needs were added unto her. So it will be for us. When you and I give God and his work the proper place in our lives, everything else will fall into its proper place.
[Philip De Courcy, HELP! I’m Anxious]
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could utter absolute gibberish and the media would swoon before her and her supporters would declare her a genius.
How do we know? Because Ocasio-Cortez frequently utters gibberish and the media and her supporters swoon before her.
Ocasio-Cortez doesn’t “misspeak.” She doesn’t make gaffes. She doesn’t “err,” get tongue tied, have brain farts, or get mixed up.
She is fundamentally, a monumentally stupid woman who knows so little about so much that she doesn’t even try to hide it.
Her “Green New Deal” was so flawed as both a political document and an exercise in proposing public policy, that
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt,” Abraham Lincoln said. Every time she opens her mouth, she proves Lincoln’s adage.
Is she a capitalist or socialist? The “Democratic Socialist” apparently can’t make up her mind.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: “Well, I think it depends on your interpretation. There are some Democratic socialists that would say absolutely not. There are other people that are Democratic socialists that would say, I think it is possible.”
TODD: “What are you?”
OCASIO-CORTEZ: “I think it is possible.”
TODD: “Do you think I’m a capitalist, but — “
OCASIO-CORTEZ: “No, I don’t say that. If anything, I would say that I believe in a democratic economy, but — but the but is there. So if you’re coming from Elizabeth Warren’s perspective, she says I’m a capitalist, but we need to have hard rules for the game.”
“Hard rules”? Last year, there were 80,000 pages in the Federal Register – regulatory guidance and governance for our capitalist economy. Each and every regulation has the full force and majesty of law behind it. I would say that’s hard enough, thank you.
It is telling that she hasn’t a clue what she, herself, believes. In order to have a personal philosophy – conservative, liberal, socialist – you must have the knack for introspection – the ability to step outside of yourself and examine what you really believe.
But introspection is an intellectual exercise and lacking evidence to the contrary, Ocasio-Cortez has no intellect to exercise.
She doesn’t know what she believes. Does she even know who she is?
Here, she mixes identity politics with a convoluted, factually dubious rundown of her ancestry:
For example, I’m Latina. And Latino Americans have a really interesting identity. Especially for me, as a Puerto Rican woman. My identity is the descendant of many different identities. I am the descendant of African slaves, I am a descendant of indigenous people, I am a descendant of Spanish colonizers, I am descendant of all sorts of folks. That doesn’t mean that I’m black, that doesn’t mean I’m native. But it does mean that I can use that, I can tell the story of my ancestors, that doesn’t mean that I am that. So I think in terms of how we navigate that, I look forward to her modelling a public learning process and uplifting those voices.”
I guess she’s saying that she can lay claim – “use that” – to any oppressed minority she wants to be. Of course, she must soft pedal the Spanish colonizers part of her past, but the media will do that for her so, no worries.
Then there are times that she just can’t help herself.
OCASIO-CORTEZ: “Because we are standing on native land. And Latino people are descendants of native people, and we cannot be told and criminalized simply for our identity or our status.”
“Standing on native land”? Well, at least she’s not advocating a return of California to Mexico.
As for Latinos being “criminalized” for their identity, that’s not even a fantasy. If she knew the Constitution, she’d know you can’t “criminalize” someone based on where they come from. But the Constitution and its principles are not only beyond her understanding, she wouldn’t care about it even if she could grasp its meaning.
I am a sexist, racist, misogynistic pig for saying all this about a Puerto Rican woman. I realize that. I have many shortcomings myself and humbly accept well deserved criticism.
Except there’s one difference; I’m not a member of Congress nor do I have millions of sychophantic followers in the media and on the left who drool at every empty thought that I utter. The damage my looniness does is confined to my own reputation. But the damage done by this intellectually lazy, ignorant, frightening woman will be felt for generations if any of her schemes actually become reality.
Why did so many people vote for communist regimes in the last hundred years? Communist leaders – who had no demonstrated achievements in economic policy – simply promised voters all sorts of free stuff, e.g. – a guaranteed job, free health care, paid retirement, etc. When the expected benefits didn’t appear, the communist leaders blamed others for their failures, and naturally, those others had to die.
Think that couldn’t happen here? Well, a lot of leading Democrats sure sound like communist leaders. Promising to confiscate legally-owned firearms. Promising to abolish private health insurance. Promising to nationalize private retirement accounts. And promising to replace our current energy industry with a new government-controlled green energy industry.
Let’s look at that last one: the new government-controlled energy industry.
The Federalist reports on the Green New Deal plan.
A number of Democratic Party presidential hopefuls — including…
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