"All truth passes through three stages: first, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as self-evident." – Arthur Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860). "There is but one straight course, and that is to seek truth and pursue it steadily" – George Washington letter to Edmund Randolph — 1795. Going beyond the MSM idealogical opinion/bias and their low information infotainment tabloid reality show news with a distractional superficial focus on entertainment, sensationalism, emotionalism and partisan activist opinion/commentary reporting – this blogs goal is to, in some small way, put a plug in the broken dam of truth and save as many as possible from the consequences—temporal and eternal. "The further a society drifts from truth, the more it will hate those who speak it." – George Orwell
I wonder what Peter’s face looked like when Jesus gave him this message: “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18). Perhaps the words struck fear in Peter. Maybe he didn’t understand them completely, though his following question about John’s future suggests he had some understanding.
Whatever his emotions might have been, though, they really didn’t matter; Jesus simply told him, “Follow me” (John 21:19). In fact, He repeated the same words in verse 22: “You follow me.”
“Follow me,” Jesus said to Peter, “and you will die.”
If that’s what following Jesus requires of us, we must be willing to die—and not get concerned about the fate of other believers! In the end, the Jesus of whom John wrote, “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written” (John 21:25), is worth it.
PRAYER: “Lord, make my heart willing to die for You.”
Yes, I believe in Him
who is almighty Father, God,
who made all things in heaven, earth,
who made them very good.
Yes, I believe in Jesus Christ,
God’s only Son, our Lord,
begotten by the Spirit
and of Virgin Mary born.
Who under Pontius Pilate’s hand
was scorned and suffered grief;
who then was crucified and, dead,
laid in a borrowed grave;
who from descent to depths of earth
the third day rose again,
ascended into heaven
where He sits at God’s right hand.
From there one day He will return
to judge the souls of men;
the small and great, living and dead,
must all before Him stand.
Yes, I believe the Holy Ghost
is very God who calls
the penitent to His true church,
where each communes with all.
Yes, I believe God does forgive
the sins of those who come
to Him confessing Jesus Lord
and trusting in His name.
Yes, I believe the righteous dead
Christ’s resurrection share,
that blessed life with Him for all
eternity is theirs.
The current hymnal for this series is Hymns to the Living God, published by Religious Affections Ministries. This is such a good hymnal that I’m pretty sure I could happily post every hymn it contains, but I’ll be limiting selections to hymns I have never posted here before, especially those unfamiliar to me (of which there are many). For more information and to purchase this hymnal, visit Religious Affections Ministries.
I know, O Lord, that Your judgments are right, and that in faithfulness You have afflicted me.
Rub some seed corn between your fingers, and instantly you will be struck by its hardness. You can step on it, throw it, or try to crush it, and the seed will remain intact in most instances. An abundant source of life is stored within this rigid outer husk. The potential for thousands of kernels is bound up in one tiny seed corn.
As any farmer or gardener knows, prolific life is released only when the corn is buried several inches beneath the turned soil. There it lies in darkness and seeming oblivion for many days. The rains come, and the seed waits. The sun shines, and the seed waits.
Then one day the waiting is over. A small green shoot thrusts through the earth. In the months to come, the plant will grow, tassel, and produce ample food for man and beast. The joy of harvest would never be realized apart from the breaking of the seed’s protective shell.
There is a corresponding spiritual process at work in Christians. It is brokenness—the principle by which God gloriously works to liberate us for abundant living. It is a hard way, but it is God’s way to blessing, joy, and abundant life.
Precious Lord, thank You for the process of brokenness, which is at work in me. Let me realize that despite its pain, it is the road to blessing.
 Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 181). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
You also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A pilot flying a plane through a massive thunderstorm where the horizon is obscured may experience a sensation known as vertigo. Though he is upside down, he feels as if he is flying upright. Correction depends upon his reliance on his instruments, which indicate otherwise.
Similarly, while we may not feel dead to sin (specifically immorality), the Word of God says we are, and His Word is always accurate, even in the midst of storms of passion. This is what the Scriptures refer to as “reckoning,” counting a fact true apart from any emotion or affection. That is why we are called to reckon ourselves dead to sin and alive to God (Rom. 6:11).
Successfully handling immorality begins with reckoning yourself dead to its power, but you must continue by reckoning yourself alive to Christ. You put on this new man, this new identity, by faith in God’s Word.
For sexual immorality, the Scripture says, “God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (1 Thess. 4:7). For unethical conduct, the Scripture says we should desire “to live honorably” (Heb. 13:18). You deal with immorality by understanding your new holy nature in Christ and appropriating its transforming truth.
Dear Lord, help me die to sin and come alive to You and Your Word. Let me understand and appropriate the truth of my new nature.
The US State Department’s annual religious freedom report has warned of a “chilling array” of abuses against people of faith worldwide. Countries singled out for criticism in the report included China, Iran and Burma.
Launching the report, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters that 2018 was “far from perfect” and that the US would work to hold countries with poor track records on religious liberty to account.
“As in previous years, our report exposes a chilling array of abuses committed by oppressive regimes, violent extremist groups, and individual citizens,” he said.
“For all those who run roughshod over religious freedom, I’ll just say this: the United States is watching and you will be held to account.”
He added: “History will not be silent about these abuses. But only if voices of liberty like ours record it.”
The religious liberty report is issued each year by the State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom, overseen by Ambassador-at-large for International Religious Freedom Sam Brownback.
Mr Pompeo said there had been some positive steps in Uzbekistan, which this year has dropped off the US State Department’s list of ‘countries of particular concern’, or CPCs.
“For the first time in 13 years, [Uzbekistan] is no longer designated a CPC,” Pompeo said.
Explaining the decision, he said: “This past year, the government released a religious freedom roadmap. Fifteen-hundred religious prisoners have been freed and 16,000 people that were blacklisted for their religious affiliation are now allowed to travel.”
Mr Pompeo said there were also signs of improvement in Pakistan, which was on the CPC list last year.
He noted the 2018 acquittal and release of Asia Bibi, a Christian mother who spent years on death row for blasphemy charges.
However, with dozens of others still in prison on similar charges, Mr Brownback said more work needed to be done on improving religious freedom in the country.
“We hope to get into some key negotiations with Pakistan that will move them forward on protecting their religious minorities,” he said.
“We have a keen eye focus on them to help them get off [the CPC list]. But they are going to have to take action themselves.”
Mr Brownback was scathing about Iran, saying that it “continues to show a blatant disregard for protecting individuals’ religious freedom”.
“Iranian religious minorities including Bahaiis, Christians, Jews, Zoarastains, Sunni and Sufi Muslims faced discrimination, harassment, and unjust imprisonment because of their beliefs,” he said.
“Their religious books are banned. They are denied access to education and their cemeteries are desecrated.”
Turning his attention to China, where Christians have faced arrest and church closures, he accused the country of waging a “war on faith”.
“To this, we say to China, you will not win your war on faith,” he said. “This will have consequences on your standing at home and around the world.”
He strongly criticised China’s detention camps, where it is feared up to two million Uighur Muslims, ethnic Kazakhs, and other Muslims are being held in Xinjiang province.
Mr Brownback said the camps were “designed to strip away the culture, identity, and faith of these religious communities”.
He said that reports of forcible organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including members of the Fulan Gong, Uighurs, Tibetan Buddhists, and underground Christians “should shock everyone’s consciences”.
In Burma, where hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been displaced, he said an international effort was needed to resolve the situation.
“We haven’t seen positive action,” he said.
“We do support what the UN is doing in Burma in dealing with the Rohingya. The world community has to continue to take note of this and see what it is going to take to get something positive in place.”
“There is a good chance your son or daughter will have spent much of his or her free time at college partying, which often means getting drunk, smoking marijuana and hooking up with someone for casual sex.”
(Dennis Prager – Daily Wire) When assessing America’s or any of the Western world’s universities — wondering whether you should send your child to one; whether you should pay for a child to attend one; whether you should go into great debt to attend one; whether you should donate money to one; and related questions — it would seem that the single most important question to be answered is: What type of person does the university produce?
It is hard to imagine any parent — left, right, liberal, conservative or apolitical — who would disagree with asking this question. They would disagree about what constituted a desirable outcome — obviously left-wing parents would want their child’s college to send home a child with left-wing views, and a parent on the right would not be happy if their child returned home with left-wing views — but every parent would agree that the question, “What type of person did college produce?” is an important one.
My belief is that most of the time, colleges today produce a worse human being or, at the very least, a person who is no better, wiser or more mature than when he or she graduated high school.
During his campaign, Trump said another war in the Middle East would be a mistake – but he assembled a team of people who are known to favour regime change in Iran. In fact, his cabinet appears packed with people who contradict the president’s views.
The world was very close to witnessing yet another US preemptive strike war in the Middle East this week, and though a last minute White House decision to stand down caused a collective sigh of relief, even a minor incident could yet trigger a major conflagration.
Early Saturday a top Iranian general warned Iran is ready to initiate a full retaliation if even “one bullet” is fired at the Islamic Republic. “Firing one bullet towards Iran will set fire to the interests of America and its allies” in the Middle East, armed forces general staff spokesman Brigadier General Abolfazl Shekarchi told Tasnim News Agency.
“The Islamic Republic has never and will never start any wars,” Shekarchi added, and threatened further, “if the enemy commits the smallest of mistakes, it will face the biggest revolutionary reaction from Iran in Central and West Asia, and it will certainly not survive the battle.”
“If the enemy fires one shot in our direction, we will fire ten back,”he said, following the dramatic shoot down of a US military drone, which while Iran said had violated its airspace, US commanders countered that it had been in international airspace the whole time.
On Friday President Trump revealed that “we were cocked and loaded” for an attack on Iran, but explained in an extreme show of transparency why he decided against airstrikes on Iran, saying that he was informed by a general that about 150 would die, and thus had to weigh the consequences. “10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone,” Trump explained to the American public in a tweet.
Meanwhile Russia has slammed Washington decision-makers for escalating tensions to a point where climbing down the escalation ladder will prove increasingly difficult.
Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov responded to the near-miss war in the Persian Gulf by saying “the situation is on the brink of war”, as cited in Russian news agency RIA.
Ryabkov called on Washington to “weigh the possible consequences of conflict with Iran and said a report in the New York Times showed the situation was extremely dangerous,” according to Reuters.
“People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.”
(Joseph E Torres – truthxchange) Stockholm Syndrome can be defined as the “psychological response wherein a captive begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands.”….
Much of the compromise we observe in orthodoxy are a result of what I call cultural and theological Stockholm Syndrome. Contemporary unbelieving culture is our captor. It tells us day in and day out: “Deny your cross, indulge yourself, follow me!” Modern Oneism takes on both spiritual and secular dress to disguise its true allegiance and uses mockery and ostracism to manipulate vulnerable Christians. Finally, Christians buckle, tired of being labeled intolerant, bigoted and closeminded. They are dismissed because they refuse to attempt a definitive explanation of true mystery, yet are smeared as arrogant when they speak with clarity God’s answers to the fundamental questions our culture raises.
Social media has increased the brainwashing efficiency that brings Christians to their knees before the new (really quite old) gods of our time. A simple # plus a “slanderous label” succeeds in humiliating them not only in their own small social group but in the eyes of thousands of people both locally and around the globe. Within minutes, they are under a lasting cloud of public scorn. View article →
Leading faith-based humanitarian agency Gospel for Asia (GFA, http://www.gfa.org<http://www.gfa.org/> ), will provide crucial aid and spiritual support to hundreds of “shunned and shamed” widows to mark International Widows Day, Sunday, June 23.
“In some Asian cultures, when a woman’s husband dies, she is often stripped of her dignity, her worth, and her human rights,” said GFA founder Dr. K.P. Yohannan.
“Many of these widows are deprived of their home, their property, and their possessions – leaving them destitute. Lacking the ability to earn a living, and with no access to savings or credit, millions of widows all across Asia fight every day for their survival, all the while shunned and shamed. We must stand up for these forgotten outcasts and show them they are precious in God’s eyes.”
To honor International Widows Day, GFA-supported ministry teams across Asia will distribute sewing machines, goats, piglets, hygiene supplies, mosquito nets, sarees, and other essential items to help improve widows’ lives. The Sisters of Compassion teams – assembled by indigenous churches – will also bring spiritual encouragement to women who feel worthless and friendless.
“Nobody loves us,” said 50-year-old Yesoda, a widow in South Asia. “Even our own family members hate us and never care for us. But I thank (GFA) who has taken the initiative to honor the widows in our community.”
Anjola, a 45-year-old widow, said her family refused to buy her a mosquito net to protect her against malaria – but a GFA-supported women’s group from a local church came to her aid. “I thank God and the church for this wonderful gift,” she said.
GFA says that if all the widows in the world were gathered into one nation, they would make up the fourth-largest country on earth. The United Nations (UN) conservatively estimates one-in-10 of the world’s 250 million-plus widows lives in extreme poverty – facing abuse, discrimination and violence because they have no husband to protect them.
No other social group is affected more by “the sin of omission” than widows, says the UN’s 2018 report on International Widows Day. “They are painfully absent from the statistics of many developing countries, and are rarely mentioned in reports on women’s poverty, development, health or human rights published in the last 25 years,” the UN states, adding that newly-widowed women are even being killed by family members wanting to get their hands on the inheritance.
•Your questions, comments, and conundrums
•Was Jesus an asylum seeker?
•Thomas Brooks’ words for those with chronic illness
•Is it sinful to listen to a female-led Bible podcast?
•What if only Eve ate from the Tree?
•How do I respond when an unbeliever prays for me?
•Does 1 Timothy 2:12 only address wives?
•How did Judas cast out demons?
•Taylor Swift isn’t good enough for LGBT allies
•Christians can’t adopt in Canada
•How do I work with students too busy for ministry?
•Do storefront churches cheapen worship?
•When does a disagreement become heresy?
Another false prophet,Mark Taylor, making a profit off of gullible people who are looking for something from God. Proving himself a wolf, he claims if you call him a false prophet you will incur God’s wrath!
Cue Keys for Kids Ministries’ free summer reading program, “WORD with Zach”. This program not only gets kids excited about reading, but also grows their faith and gets them thinking about how Scripture applies to their lives.
“WORD with Zach” is available in written form and on the radio. Kids follow along with Keys for Kids’ character Zach as he shares a short daily devotional encouraging them to be in God’s Word.
Greg Yoder, executive director of Keys for Kids, says, “We’re hearing from kids,… ‘I don’t really even like to read or I don’t necessarily even do this very often, but I just got so used to doing it last summer, that now [I’m] doing it every day.’ It’s just become a habit for many of these kids.”
This is the second summer Keys for Kids has offered “WORD with Zach” since they were blown away by the response last year.
Hey it’s Saturday and I hope all is well with all of us. Saturday is our preparations for Lord’s Day. But lately my work requires me to do a graveyard shift on a we hours of Sunday. But thank God for giving me strength and my wife’s encouragement to never neglect Sunday morning service.
Anyways, here’s a list of great freebies that are waiting to be downloaded. And if your new here to this post or you missed out other freebie round-ups, check the links to those post at the end of this article.
FREE upcoming webinar- Demystifying Bible Translations features Bill Mounce, Ken Lucas and Melinda Bouma on June 25. For full details and to register for free, click here.
FREE audiobook and e-book– It’s a labor of love by Glenn Wainwright from Trinity Evangel Church this free audiobook & e-book version of Kuyper’s Lecture in Calvinism.
The topic of spotting spiritual abuse has been ricocheting in my heart and head for many years. But recently, I’ve noticed a greater influx of reader email about this topic, so much so that I felt it would be wise to address it. Although I am thankful I haven’t had an extreme experience with spiritual abuse, I have had some incidences that have scarred me and made me leery of churches and ministries that bully.
Some of my spiritual abuse experiences include:
• A leader above me telling me that even though I was burned out and losing my health, I had to stay in the ministry because if I didn’t I would lose all my gifting to do future ministry.
• A church that repeatedly told us they basically had the corner on the market of Jesus and that if we had to go elsewhere, we would miss God’s highest.
• A leader who found ministry to be a vehicle for his great gain, lying and manipulating donors to earn more and more money.
• A ministry that shamed me into throwing away all my evil music (including Lionel Ritchie and Duran Duran…oh the evil!).
• A leader who cornered me, threatened me and yelled because I brought up a concern that others saw. This led to panic attacks.
Perhaps you have a story to tell, too.
I woke up last night at 3 in the morning with this burden I couldn’t shake. I sat down and wrote these traits of spiritually abusive ministries and churches. This is not an exhaustive list, but it typifies what happens. Often, you don’t realize you’re in a situation until your health is damaged, your soul is torn or your outside relationships suffer. My heart in sharing this is to simply shed light on unhealthy, manipulative, controlling practices.
Spiritually abusive ministries…
1. Have a distorted view of respect. They forget the simple adage that respect is earned, not granted. Abusive leaders demand respect without having earned it by good, honest living.
2. Demand allegiance as proof of the follower’s allegiance to Christ. It’s either his/her way or no way. And if a follower deviates, he is guilty of deviating from Jesus.
3. Use exclusive language. “We’re the only ministry really following Jesus.” “We have all the right theology.” Believe their way of doing things, thinking theologically, or handling ministry and church is the only correct way. Everyone else is wrong, misguided or stupidly naive.
4. Create a culture of fear and shame. Often, there is no grace for someone who fails to live up to the church’s or ministry’s expectation. And if someone steps outside of the often-unspoken rules, leaders shame them into compliance. Can’t admit failure but often searches out failure in others and uses that knowledge to hold others in fear and captivity.
They often quote Scriptures about not touching God’s anointed or bringing accusations against an elder. Yet they often confront sin in others, particularly ones who bring up legitimate biblical issues. Or they have their circle of influence take on this task, silencing critics.
5. Often have a charismatic leader at the helm who starts off well but slips into arrogance, protectionism and pride. Where a leader might start off being personable and interested in others’ issues, he/she eventually withdraws to a small group of “yes people” and isolates from the needs of others. Harbors a cult of personality, meaning if the central figure of the ministry or church left, the entity would collapse, as it was entirely dependent on one person to hold the place together.
6. Cultivate a dependence on one leader or leaders for spiritual information. Personal discipleship isn’t encouraged. Often the Bible gets pushed away to the fringes unless the main leader is teaching it.
7. Demand servanthood of their followers, but live prestigious, privileged lives. They live aloof from their followers and justify their extravagance as God’s favor and approval on their ministry. Unlike Jesus’ instructions to take the last seat, they often take the first seat at events and court others to grant them privileges.
8. Buffer him/herself from criticism by placing people around themselves whose only allegiance is to the leader. Views those who bring up issues as enemies. Those who were once friends/allies swiftly become enemies once a concern is raised. Sometimes, these folks are banished, told to be silent or shamed into submission.
9. Hold to outward performance but reject authentic spirituality. Places burdens on followers to act a certain way, dress an acceptable way and have an acceptable lifestyle.
10. Use exclusivity for allegiance. Followers close to the leader or leaders feel like insiders. Everyone else is on the outside, though they long to be in that inner circle.
Have you ever experienced this kind of situation? What did you do? How did you heal in the aftermath? And what can we do as responsible Christ followers to expose this kind of abuse? What can we do as leaders to follow in the gentle footsteps of Jesus?
Sadly, there is such a thing as a church bully. He’s the guy who manipulates, pressures, blames, and coerces people to follow his ideas or agenda (for example, see what happened to Peter in Galatians 2:12). This kind of person is very similar to an abusive husband (or wife – but most of the time a husband): he plays mind games on his wife, plays the Bible trump card of submission and patriarchy, and tricks people along the way with his compulsive lies. One big question is, “How do church bullies and abusers deceive us?” The answers to this question are important. Jeff Crippen and Anna Wood have some helpful answers. I’ve listed them below and edited them for length. (Note: Crippen and Wood specifically talk about abusive people, but many of these points could also apply to church bullies.)
1) They create an atmosphere of chaos and confusion…
The Circumstellar Habitable Zone, where liquid water could potentially exist
What is the nature of reality? Is the universe self-existing and eternal or did it coming into being? Can we attribute the the diversity of life to natural processes, or was their a designing agent involved? Whether people have thought deeply about these questions or not, they all live their lives as if one view or another were true. Is there any way to educate these busy people?
I found an article in CNS News about a new series of short videos that challenge the naturalistic view of origins that dominates society today.
A new YouTube series, Science Uprising, challenges the notion that the smart money is on atheism.
I was part of the creative team behind the project. One of our aims was to reach Generation Z, “digital natives” who get much of their impression of the…