VIDEO The Church’s Sickness Unto Death – The Great Falling Away

Our missional activism threatens to kill us. It doesn’t have to.
MARK GALLI| JUNE 26, 2019

The Church’s Sickness Unto Death

In my last few essays (here, here, and here) I’ve been arguing that American Christianity, and evangelical Christianity particularly, thinks about the church in mostly instrumental ways. The church’s core identity is summed up in what it’s called to do, in most cases, one form of mission activity or another. Without denying the urgency to love our neighbors, I’ve been saying that our horizontal concerns for the neighbor have all but eclipsed our passion for God. It’s like we have an advanced case of Alzheimer’s: We don’t know who we are or what we’re supposed to be about, but we feel driven to get up and walk wherever our legs will take us.

It’s like we have an advanced case of Alzheimer’s: We don’t know who we are or what we’re supposed to be about, but we feel driven to get up and walk wherever our legs will take us.

I’ve tried to show from Scripture that the church is first and foremost—and at its essence and for eternity—about the vertical, brothers and sisters embedded deeply in Christ, glorifying God and enjoying him forever. This is not just what we do but who we are.

All this to me is not a theological construct, a creative way to think about the relationship of the church to the world. Based on my experience as a pastor and member of the mainline, and my three decades as a journalist embedded in American evangelicalism, I think this view of the church is crucial for the very health and survival of American Christianity. This is what I will argue in this essay.

From Excitement to Despair

Here is what I’ve seen happen time and again when the church is conceived primarily as being missional, existing for the sake of the world:

First, it energizes many Christians—let’s acknowledge that. This was one motive of Rauchenbusch as he articulated the social gospel—he wanted to church to get out of the pews and into the streets. And Newbigin’s missional word to self-satisfied British churches woke many people up, no doubt about it. I understand the attraction.

I’ve been in moribund, dying churches that, when they adopt a missional stance, well, it transforms them, at least for a time. When they conceive that the church is to make a difference in the world, the church makes a shift that is exciting. It lights a fire under members, giving them new meaning and purpose. They enthusiastically give themselves ever more deeply to the church, because they now think the church is going to make a difference in the world. Naturally, they imagine, the church is going to shape itself and its organization to transform the world.

What they eventually discover, however, is that churches rarely do this. The church fails to give more to missions. It fails to reorganize itself missionally. It keeps investing in worship and Christian education and discipleship at the expense of reaching out to the surrounding culture. This disappointment is felt in many quarters and felt especially keenly by those who assume a missional call for the church. Book after book and missional conference after missional conference is dedicated to addressing this problem.

The church, from the start, has not actually been designed to be missional.

A handful of churches do, in fact, turn themselves into missional organizations—but usually only for a short period. The missional-minded become very discouraged and angry at this point. They accuse the church of hypocrisy, selfishness, and irrelevance. While such is true of the church in all times and places—we are sinners, after all—what our missional friends fail to recognize is this reality: The church, from the start, has not actually been designed to be missional.

To be clear, let me say what I mean by “the church.” I understand church in a traditional sense, of a concrete body of believers gathered to worship God in Christ, gathered around the preached and taught Word, sacraments/ordinances like the Lord’s Supper and baptism, living together and growing in love. Most of us instinctively understand this as “church,” even though we might acknowledge that parachurches, with their specialized ministries, are composed of members of the family of God and therefore, by extension can be called “the church.” But here, I focus on the concrete reality of the local, worshiping congregation as the preeminent expression of the church.

In light of this, let me give an example that suggests why the church is not designed to be missional at its core.

A church hires a youth minister, and the church and youth minister write up a missional job description: The youth minister’s main job is to reach out to troubled youth in the community and bring them to Christ and to the church. Many church members applaud this missional approach, and they pat him on the back and tell him to get started.

So he goes out to the local high schools and hangs out with various lost souls, inviting them into the church. But the youth minister finds that it takes an extraordinary amount of time and energy to minister to this group. The better he reaches out missionally to lost teens, the less time he has to disciple the youth of the congregation. Naturally, parents of the church’s youth are anxious for their teenagers to grow in Christ, and they thought that in part they had hired the youth minister to help do that. But this youth minister is usually nowhere to be found, because he’s out in the community ministering to un-churched youth.

You see where this is going. It is clear that (a) troubled youth need Christians to reach out to them, and (b) Christian youth need teaching and nurturing, and (c) it is the rare situation in which a youth minister can do both. The church as church is simply not set up to do both, and if my biblical argument is correct, it is not supposed to do both in the same sort of way. The primary purpose of a youth minister in my reading is to help youth become holy and blameless in love, doing so in the context of praising God’s glory in worship.

It turns out that the church is not a very efficient institution for making a difference in the world.

This makes some of us squirm because it feels so selfish, as if the church is deserting the world. But it turns out that the church is not a very efficient institution for making a difference in the world. If you are passionate about feeding the hungry, for example, churches can help here and there. But if you really want to make a difference, really cut the numbers of the hungry and malnourished, it’s better to give your time to a government or nonprofit agency that specializes in such things.

The same is true whether we’re talking about sex trafficking, drug abuse, exploitation of labor, environmental degradation, and so forth. The church as church can make a donation, organize a committee, sponsor a food pantry, but it cannot really make a significant, lasting impact. It is not set up to do that. In fact, it has many other really important jobs to do.

It is called, for example, more than anything, to provide a time and place for the public worship of God and for people to participate in the sacraments/ordinances of baptism and the Lord’s supper—to meet God as we glorify him. It is also called to teach children, youth, and adults about who God is, as well as the shape and nature of the Christian life. It is a place where Christians gather to receive mutual encouragement and prayer. It’s the place where we learn to live into our destiny, to be holy and blameless in love, to the praise of God’s glory.

This does not mean the church is free to ignore troubled and unchurched youth. Far from it. But the church is not the institution best suited to reach out to them. This is one reason I’ve been a fan, contributor, and board member of my local Young Life ministry—they do a great job at that sort of thing. Parachurches are awfully good at specialized outreach.

But what about those people who have set their hope on the church being missional? What happens when their church hardly budges and their hopes for a church transformed in the image of the missional are dashed? What happens to them, and what happens to the church?

In my experience, what happens is this: Many give up on the church. The church in their view has simply failed, and so they stop coming. Instead, they give more and more of their time to specialty institutions (parachurches and other nonprofits), or they throw themselves into politics—which is about nothing else but making the world a better place. If it’s been ingrained in you that the church was created for the world, that your purpose is to make the world a better place, why bother with the church, because it is clearly not very effective in this respect. Better to give oneself to UNICEF or the Democratic Party.

And this is precisely what so many in the mainline have done over the last many decades. There are many reasons for the numerical decline of mainline Christianity, but to my mind, one of the main ones is this: Somewhere in the 1960s, mainliners became mesmerized by the idea that the church was created for the sake of the world, that the purpose of the church was to make the world a better place. It led to initial enthusiasm, yes, but then despair as it became apparent that, other than making political pronouncements at annual conventions, the church was ill-equipped to make the world a better place. When the children of that generation put two and two together, they saw that they could chuck the church and still go about trying to make a difference without it.

But something else happens when churches recognize how bad they are at being missional. Many of them double down. They see young people leaving the church in droves because it isn’t relevant to the world, because it isn’t making a difference in the world, and these churches panic. Unfortunately, they continue to assume that to be relevant means to make this a better world. And so they shout it even more from the rooftops, and they make more pronouncements about more and more social ills, the more recent the better. The tone of their theology becomes ever more secular. Then you find more and more that the mainline churches look only like the Democratic Party at prayer, and evangelical churches like the Republican Party at worship.

Many of the evangelical left are traveling down the path hewn by the mainline. And the evangelical right have imbided a religion of God and country.

Today it seems clear to me that many of the evangelical left are traveling down the path hewn by the mainline. And the evangelical right—starting with the Jerry Falwell and the rise of the Religious Right—have been on the path hewn by civil religion, a religion of God and country. Both left and right are anxious to make a difference in the world, to make the world a better place according to their own lights, because they both believe that the purpose of the church is to make the world a better place. Instead, in my view, they will end up marginalizing the church left and right even more.

What I predict for evangelicalism in particular is what I’ve seen happen to the mainline. The more we are fascinated with the missional, the more we take this medicine as the malady of church sluggishness, the sicker we are going to become. And the more people in our midst will become frustrated. And that will lead to more people leaving the church. We already see signs of it.

Over ten years ago, Gordon College president Michael Lindsay researched and wrote a now-classic survey of evangelical cultural influencers—Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite. In the course of his research, he discovered that a large number of evangelicals were embedded in key cultural institutions—government, education, entertainment, and so forth—and that they were, in fact, making a difference in the world. But he also noticed how few of them were connected to a local church.

Let me hazard a guess that these cultural leaders found the local church irrelevant, likely both to their own spiritual growth but also because it was not making a difference in the world. Since that book, the number of those who identify as “spiritual but not religious” has only increased, which suggests that the Christians in this group are even less committed to the church, and I suspect for the same reasons.

There is no question that some churches are on life support, and some have become spiritual social clubs. Some churches have hurt, even abused, members physically, psychologically, or spiritually. Those are understandable reasons to leave a church and not come back for years. But I suspect a high percentage of people who leave evangelical churches do so because they do not think the church is doing enough to make a difference in the world.

Where Saints Are Made

I want to give the benefit of the doubt to these missional evangelical elite and the activists who describe themselves as spiritual-but-not-religious. What these Christians do in the world is right and good and truly to be admired. They are indeed loving the neighbor in inspirational ways.

What concerns me is that so many have deserted the one institution that embodies the very purpose of God for the world. And what saddens me is that they have removed themselves from the one place that can teach them about love as can no other.

In Paul’s vision, the church is composed of people of all stripes and sins and persuasions and ethnicities and races and strengths and weaknesses but united in Christ. Given this, I can think of no institution on the planet is better situated to learn to live in love.

One is tempted at this point to paint the ideal picture of the church. But that is precisely what we must not do. We don’t have to wait for the church to live into its ideals to see that it already is the testing ground for the biblical vision. I only have to ask you to think about your own church, and you’ll get the point.

Your church probably has a Max, a legalist who reads the Bible literally and endlessly criticizes everything that isn’t proven from the Bible. Then there’s Marjorie, a woman who works mightily in Sunday school but whose weakness is gossip, some of which you’ve been the subject of. Then there’s that couple, David and Barbara, separated while they try to work things out. On the mission committee, Doris and Jim repeatedly argue, sometimes not charitably, about whether to give more money to evangelistic or social justice causes. You also suspect the associate pastor may have a drinking problem. And you’ve never gotten along with Scott because he’s so fanatical about the environment.

And on it goes. And yet every Sunday, you gather together with this motley crew to worship Jesus Christ. You pray together a prayer of confession, you sing hymns that speak of your unity in Christ, you recite the creed about a God who is one and a church that is holy and one, you pass the peace to one another as a sign of your love. You also sit on committees with these folks and attend Bible studies and serve food at the homeless shelter with some of them. You live with them in something resembling a community centered on Jesus. It’s not pretty. It’s not glorious. But it is a laboratory of love, where God is met, relationships are endured, worked at, and rejoiced in. It’s a place where saints are made.

It’s also the main place that regularly reminds us to love our neighbors outside our church. Let’s not forget that. The fact that loving the neighbor is not the church’s primary purpose does not mean it is not still the second great commandment for disciples. So the church encourages its members to practice simple acts of hospitality as well as acts of sacrifice for those outside the church. It encourages us to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity and to staff the local food pantry and homeless shelter. Perhaps some church members will run for Congress or join the police force or teach in the inner city. Some will become doctors or lawyers, others grocers and gardeners—all of whom on Monday through Friday work in the Spirit of the Lord in their various vocations to make the world a better place.

If you want to do something that is really hard, if you want to push yourself to the limits, if you want to be constantly tested by love, there is no better place to do that than in the local church.

 

But if you want to do something that is really hard, and if you want to push yourself to the limits, if you want to be constantly tested by love, if you want to live into your ultimate destiny—if you want to learn to be holy and blameless in love before God—there is no better place to do that than in the local church.

Many of us today rightly note the great defects in the church, most of which boil down to its superficiality. Because the church thinks it has to be missional, that it has to be a place where the world feels comfortable, it has dumbed down the preaching and the worship, so that in many quarters we have ended up with a common-denominator Christianity. It goes down easy, which is why it attracts so many and why many churches are growing. But it is a meal designed to stunt the growth of the people of God. And it is a way of church life that eventually burns people out, where people become exhausted trying to make the world a better place.

What if instead the church was a sanctuary, a place of rest and healing and life, where the fellowship of believers lived together in love, where we just learn to be holy and blameless in love before God? And what if, having encountered afresh some sort of beatific vision, we go out from church in our vocations and ministries, serving the unchurched neighbor and, by God’s grace, make a difference in their world?

It’s not that learning to love in the church is all that easy. But learning to love has this self-generating quality: The more we fail, the more we turn to God and the people of God for forgiveness and thus imbibe the life-changing power of grace.

If this biblical vision settles into more and more local churches—and it’s already present in many places—I believe we would see some significant changes. The church would no longer be a place that is anxious and worried about being relevant to the world on the world’s terms; it wouldn’t worry about its inability to make a difference by society’s norms; it wouldn’t think of itself as means to a useful end but God’s end for humanity. That is, a place where we learn to live together in love—Republican and Democratic, rich and poor, male and female, white and Hispanic and black and Asian. Where we would learn to grow up into the stature and fullness of Christ, who is all in all, to the praise of God’s glory.

And more than anything, it would become a place where we learn everything there is to know about praising God’s glory, a place where we learn the fine art of praise, a place that would employ every form of music and word and drama and reading and visual art to praise God for his coming salvation, so that when the nations of the world flood into the New Jerusalem, they will have songs to sing and chants to chant and words to praise the God who has brought them together in love.

Mark Galli is editor in chief of Christianity Today. If you want to be alerted to these essays as they appear, subscribe to The Galli Report.

 

Original here


END TIME CHURCH: The Great Falling Away | David Wilkerson & Paul Washer

TheOnlyWay Apologetics
Mar 4, 2019

The Great Falling Away, we are definitely witnessing bible prophesy being unfolded and fulfilled right before our eyes. Beware of the false pastors, prophets, apostles, and or spiritual masters of this age. The Bible clearly states they will come like ravenous wolves deceiving the sheep after their own lusts and desires.

DISCLAIMER: THIS VIDEO IS BY NO MEANS PORTRAYING OR TRYING TO PROPAGATE FEAR REGARDING THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD, DON’T BE AFRAID OF BEING BAPTIZED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT WHICH JESUS PROMISED & SPOKE ABOUT, DON’T QUENCH THE SPIRIT WHEN HE EMPOWERS YOU, AND GIVES YOU UTTERANCE TO SPEAK IN TONGUES AND TO PROPHESY. READ ACTS 2 & THE WHOLE NEW TESTAMENT TO LEARN HOW THE HOLY SPIRIT WORKS AND HOW TO RECOGNIZE HIM, FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT WILL TESTIFY OF JESUS CHRIST AND THE FATHER IN HEAVEN. THE EXAMPLES USED IN THIS VIDEO ONLY INTEND TO EXPOSE FALSE TEACHERS AND BY NO MEANS GIVES BELIEVERS THE RIGHT TO JUDGE AND/OR QUICKLY REJECT WHAT COULD INDEED BE THE WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT IN A PERSON, INSTEAD, TEST THE SPIRITS, ASK GOD IF YOU DON’T UNDERTAND SOMETHING, READ THE BIBLE, PRAY AND WAIT TILL GOD GIVES YOU THE ANSWER, OR ELSE REMAIN IN SILENCE IF YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND, LEST YOU BLASPHEME HIM. REMEMBER, SPIRITUAL THINGS CANNOT BE UNDERSTOOD WITH THE CARNAL MIND, MAY GOD BLESS YOU!

The Holy Spirit is God and Has His own works & ministry in the trinity:

-The Holy Spirit convicts
-The Holy Spirit Inspires
-The Holy Spirit Illuminates and teaches
-He comforts
-The Holy Spirit gives assurance of salvation
-The Holy Spirit regenerates
-The Holy Spirit gives spiritual gifts and much more.

(Also see Galatians 5:22-26 for more details)

We need the HOLY SPIRIT. Praise the Lord!
____________________________________

*CORRECTION* For Steven Furtick:

“Now He DID not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief.”-Matthew 13:58

Immediately the father of the child cried out and said with tears, “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”
-Mark 9:24 NKJV

“Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens.”
-Romans 9:18 NKJV

Jesus can override your unbelief, the apostle Paul is an excellent example.
_____________________________________

Bible References:

-Matthew 7:15-20 (Beware of False Prophets)
-Romans 16:17-18 (Note/Avoid Them)
-Ephesians 5:5-14 (Don’t be partakers/Expose Them)
-Acts 17:11 (Receive the Word/Search the Scriptures DAILY)
-John 7:24 & 1 Cor 5:12-13 (Righteous Judgement)
-Ephesians 4:15 (Speak Truth Out of LOVE)
-Acts 20:28-32 (Shepherd the Church/Savage Wolves will come not sparing the Flock)
-Deut 13:1-18, Deut 18:20-22, we are to “MARK THEM” (NAME NAMES of Deceivers,of which Paul did 8 TIMES in 2nd Tim” (Rom 16:17-18,Titus 1:10-14,1 John 4:1, 1 Cor 14:29,1 Thess 5:21,John 7:24)

***If you have been fooled by these practices and have even participated in these events at church, we ask you to please repent and turn to Jesus, follow him alone, DEAR BRETHREN READ YOUR BIBLE LEST YOU ALSO BE DECEIVED and keep evangelizing to the world doing God’s will.***

Love is NOT merely giving people what they want, Love Warns too of Danger, which is also what this video aims to do.


FALSE TEACHERS EXPOSED: Word of Faith/Prosperity Gospel | Justin Peters/SO4J-TV

 

SO4J-TV
Oct 28, 2015

“So many churches these days Preach a: Worldly Man-centered pragmatic Shallow “gospel” that is focused merely on this life,& is CONTRARY to God’s Word VS the TRUE GOSPEL which is about the Good News of “REPENTANCE & FAITH in JESUS” (Mark 1:15). So many professing Christians lack Biblical Discernment as well. ★Professing Christians should be diligently SEARCHING THE SCRIPTURES DAILY (Acts 17:11),& BE DISCERNING & COMPARE what you are HEARING— from these False Teachers (&anyone, including us) along w/their False Prophecies (that are Mixed w/Truth in their Sermons),& Compare it w/God’s Word. Remember too, it’s not always what False Teachers say, it’s what they DON’T say. MANY seem to ONLY want to talk about “God’s Love” (along w/their: Money-talk,&/or Self-Esteem,or Pragmatic people-pleasing talk,&more)– they are NOT at all preaching like: Jesus, Paul, Peter, etc. did when they would warn people & talk about: Sin, Hell, the Coming Judgment, etc (John 16:8). Love is NOT merely giving people what they want, Love Warns too of Danger, which is also what this video aims to do.

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The Church Should Be More Disturbing

Greg Laurie calls for 1st-century type ‘turning the world upside down

When many of us hear the words “Jesus Movement,” our minds race back to the late 1960s and early 1970s to the last great spiritual awakening in America. It’s amazing, really, because in the middle of the drug revolution and the sexual revolution, God sent a Jesus Revolution. That is what Time magazine dubbed this move of God back then.

We called it the Jesus Movement, and we called ourselves Jesus People. Some people called us Jesus freaks. We didn’t really care, and we still don’t care. But Time came up with this term, and I thought it was a really good description. They recognized it was a revolution, especially among young people.

Revolution is a word that means upheaval and change, but it’s also a word that means to turn around, to rotate, or to return to something. It was returning to the first Jesus Revolution, which was around A.D. 58.

That’s when Jesus showed up and started the revolution. That’s when Jesus began his ministry, died on the cross for our sins, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. That revolution didn’t have bell-bottoms, but there were beards, long hair and sandals.

Mighty Rome was ruling the planet, and they succeeded in killing the very son of God. That doesn’t place responsibility for the death of Jesus on the Romans, though they played a part in it. Nor does it place responsibility for the death of Jesus on the Jewish people or the religious leaders, though they played a part in it.

Technically, if we’re looking for someone to blame for the death of Jesus, let’s look no further than ourselves. It’s our fault because we all sinned against God. God needed an acceptable sacrifice, so he sent his own son, who willingly went to the cross to die for our sins.

The Bible says, “Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him” (Isaiah 53:10 NKJV). God took no delight in putting the punishment for our sins upon his son, but his righteous demands had to be met. And they were met in the death of Jesus.

On the cross Christ said, “It is finished.” Finished were the righteous demands of God.

After the Crucifixion, it was Rome that persecuted the early church, especially under Caesar Nero. Ultimately, Rome fell, but not at the hands another military power. The Romans were defeated by no one in particular. They eventually collapsed beneath their own weight, and the church that Rome persecuted prevailed in the end.

That’s because the early church did not defeat Rome militarily. Rather, the church out-prayed and outlived Rome.

It was said of the early church that they turned the world upside down. And that, by the way, was offered as a criticism – not a compliment. When Paul and Silas were in Thessalonica preaching the gospel, it was said of them critically, “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (Acts 17:6 NKJV).

May God give us more disturbances like this. What concerns me is that we are not making a disturbance anymore. We are so worried about fitting in. We are so worried about relating and being cool that we have forgotten what it is to make a stand for what is true.

Tertullian, an early church father who wrote some 200 years after the birth of the church, made this statement about the impact of the gospel: “We have filled every place among you – cities, islands, fortresses, towns, market-places, the very camp, tribes, companies, palaces, senate, forum – we have left nothing to you but the temples of your gods.”

Basically Tertullian was saying, “There is no stone that has been left unturned. There is no little crevice or corner where the gospel has not gone. We have invaded your culture.”

Today my fear is that instead of the church turning the world upside down, the world is turning the church upside down.

I am all for being contemporary. I am all for being relevant. But at the same time, we must be truthful, we must accurate, and, most importantly, we must be biblical.

In the New Testament book of Acts we find the original template for the church, the blueprint Jesus himself laid down. And we stray from it at our own peril.

This is the church that changed the world through prayer and through preaching. But it seems the opposite is happening in the church today. We have double standards, moral compromise and little to no power. So we need to get back to what the early church experienced as given on the day of Pentecost.

As pastor and author A.W. Tozer once pointed out, if the Holy Spirit were taken away from the New Testament church, 90 percent of what they did would have come to a halt. But if the Holy Spirit were taken away from today’s church, only 10 percent of what it does would cease.

Some would say that we need another Pentecost. I don’t think so. The first was good enough. We don’t need another Pentecost any more than we need another Calvary.

Let’s just appropriate what was made available at the first Pentecost. The power that was given to first-century believers is also available to 21st-century believers as we bring the gospel to our generation.

The first-century church turned their world upside down – or right side up in reality. And in this crazy, topsy-turvy world where wrong is right and right is wrong, we need to do the same.

https://www.wnd.com/2019/06/the-church-should-be-more-disturbing/

Gays Stole The Rainbow, It’s Time to Give It Back

By Bryan Fischer – June 14, 2019

God invented the rainbow. He put it in the heavens following the worldwide flood of Noah’s day to be a sign of His covenant with humanity and his commitment to protect us from another worldwide flood. In other words, the rainbow is a symbol of His grace and mercy and the goodness of His promises.

Now regressives get absolutely outraged when symbols are co-opted and used by people they think have no right to them. This social sin even has a name: cultural appropriation. Here’s the definition:

“Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of the elements of one culture by members of another culture.” (Emphasis in original.)

So wearing blackface is out. Wearing hairstyles that belong to a different culture is out. A white artist was pilloried for painting a portrait of Emmett Till. A British retailer was harpooned for using the checkered pattern of the Palestinian kaffiyeh for a playsuit. Kim Kardashian was once drawn and quartered for wearing a “bobby pin headband,” which is native to Caribbean women. (They call it a “doobie wrap.”)

White fraternities cannot serve tacos at a Cinco de Mayo event, nor may their members wear sombreros to the party. High schools cannot use mascots from Native American history, even if the mascots symbolize bravery, courage, and the spirit of a warrior. (I’ll stop defending the Washington “Redskins” just as soon as the Navajo Code Talkers do.)

So cultural appropriation is a thing now, and it’s supposed to be bad (whatever happened to “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery?”). Regessives also say that when culture appropriation happens, offenders must apologize and give up use of the symbol.

All this brings us to the rainbow flag, now the universal symbol of homosexuality. In history’s worst act of cultural appropriation, homosexuals stole the rainbow from God and turned it into a symbol of sexual perversion rather than hope. Despite a direct order from the president, homosexuals are defiantly flying the rainbow flag at U.S. embassies all over the world.

Now the rainbow is, of course, God’s invention. He placed it in the heavens after the worldwide flood as a sign of his covenant promise to mankind never again to destroy the earth with a flood (which, by the way, ought to be a great encouragement to Al Gore, who wants us to believe he loses sleep over the prospect of rising sea levels inundating the globe, including the $9 million beach-front house he recently bought).

So in the culture in which it originated, the rainbow was (and is) a sign of hope and assurance and a symbol of God’s grace and infinite patience. “I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth” (Genesis 9:13, emphasis mine), a covenant in which God promises that “never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood” (Genesis 9:11).

In the hands of homosexual activists, however, it has become a sign of sexually deviant behavior. It promotes a lifestyle which God says is an “abomination” (Leviticus 18:22) and “contrary to nature,” a lifestyle which consists of “shameless acts” which will come at a terrible cost to those who engage in them (“receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error” (Romans 1:26-27).

All this is a rather stupendous and disturbing reversal. What once was universally regarded as a symbol of God’s providential care has become universally regarded as a symbol of sexual debauchery.

If you have any question about how completely homosexual activists have co-opted this symbol, imagine your reaction if you happened to drive past a church displaying a rainbow banner to promote vacation Bible school. You would naturally assume at first glance that it was a gay-affirming church.

Now maybe all the church wants to do is take kids on a journey through the flood story, with all the animals on the ark, and with doves and ravens and twigs and so forth. But it would almost be a waste of time and energy for the church to try to explain itself. It wouldn’t have enough money in its budget to clarify and explain and persuade. When people today see the rainbow flag, it doesn’t say “God” to them, it says “homosexuality.”

God quite directly and pointedly says it is “my” bow. It belongs to him. If somebody else has it and is prostituting it, then that somebody stole it from its rightful owner. Sounds like cultural appropriation to me. Gays stole the rainbow from God. It’s time to give it back.

Follow me on Twitter: @BryanJFischer, on Facebook at “Focal Point”

Host of “Focal Point” on American Family Radio, 1:05 pm CT, M-F  www.afr.net

 

Original here


God has a sense of humor

 

June 18, 2019 by jc cast

 

Most people I know believe God can be everything from judgmental and vengeful to kind and loving. This includes many non-believers, which is ironic, since they are attributing such traits to a God, they claim to not believe exists. Surprisingly, however, no one seems to bring up God’s sense of humor. After all, we have a sense of humor (at least most of us). Where do you think it came from? Are we not made in His image?

Then God said, “Let us make a man—someone like ourselves… (Genesis 1:26).

Can we find examples of God’s sense of humor in His Word? Absolutely! Just keep in mind that what I find humorous may not be to you, and vice-versa, because each person’s character and life experiences—which contribute to their sense of humor—varies greatly. So, you may not agree with my examples, and I may not agree with all of yours. But the fact that humor can be found in the Bible as a part of God’s character is the point, not whether we agree on each situation. And, while numerous examples my be found, I’m only going to use a few for this post.

My first example takes place soon after God allowed the Philistines to have a victory over His continually rebellious people.

The Philistines took the captured Ark of God from the battleground at Ebenezer to the temple of their idol Dagon in the city of Ashdod. But when the local citizens went to see it the next morning, Dagon had fallen with his face to the ground before the Ark of Jehovah! They set him up again, but the next morning the same thing happened—the idol had fallen face down before the Ark of the Lord again. This time his head and hands had been cut off and were lying in the doorway; only the trunk of his body was left intact. — 1 Samuel 5:1-4

Can you imagine it from God’s perspective? Puny humans, the Philistines, that God used to punish his rebellious people, get so puffed up with pride that they bring their “captured treasure,” the Ark of God, into the temple of their “god,” Dagon, as an offering. Then, as the people depart for the evening, God takes a look at the lifeless idol, smiles mischievously, and flicks it over with ease. “Oops! Sorry!” And when they lift it up, He does it again, but with additional disrespect and damage.

Let us now look in the twenty-second chapter of the book of Numbers. Here we find the story of Balaam, who was asked by King Balak of Moab to curse the Israelites, so he can drive them out of his land. Although Balaam tells King Balak that he can only tell him what the Lord tells him to say, Balaam’s attitude in the situation angers God, so He sends an angel ahead of Balaam (now riding a donkey) to wait for him on the road.

Balaam cannot see the angel, but the donkey can. The animal attempts to go around the angel, eventually realizes the angel will not allow them to pass, and lays down in the road. During this period Balaam beat the donkey three times.

Instead of letting Balaam see the angel, God chose to have the animal speak. She gives a good account of herself, which Balaam had to accept, and God finally allowed Balaam to see the angel, and he confesses his sin, etc.

The use of a donkey in this situation is both humorous and a heck of a metaphor. After all, Balaam’s stubbornness is at the heart of the matter, not the donkeys.

Now let us look at God’s response to His rebellious people begging Samuel to appoint an earthly king over them, so they can be like other nations. God’s first choice is Saul, a choice more like humans would choose for themselves, for he “was the most handsome man in Israel. And he was head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land!” — 1 Samuel 9:2. And yet, how did this future king respond when Samuel was casting lots before the tribal leaders to show the people God’s choice? When the sacred lot chose Saul, he had disappeared. The handsomest man in Israel that stood head and shoulders above everyone was cowering with the luggage (1 Samuel 10:22). An action God knew would occur before He selected Saul to be the first earthly king over Israel.

The cherry on top of this humorous situation is how God allows His second choice for king to present himself publicly during his first test. After Saul sinned against God, the Lord chose David, the youngest and smallest of Jesse’s eight sons, to take out Goliath—the largest Philistine, who even towered over Saul—after the rest of Israel’s army cowered for forty days unwilling to fight the giant-like enemy. And David did it with a slingshot and a rock!

From the human standpoint the above events occurred during serious situations. A fact not lost on God, considering the eventual outcomes. The Ark of God was returned after much death, Balaam was eventually killed during one of Israel’s attacks, and Saul and his sons perished on Mount Gilboa during a battle with the Philistines. And yet, prior to the final events God chose to reveal a part of His character not often seen—His sense of humor.

Some may consider these odd places to find humor, but is it really so odd? Don’t humans use humor during traumatic periods as a release? As a disabled Vet I can often recall some rather rude humor going on during periods of extreme danger. And are we not made in God’s image, as stated earlier?

Now let us consider God’s sense of humor outside the Bible. Those of us who believe in God can see His sense of humor throughout His creations; especially in mankind and throughout many species in nature.

I’ve spent a lot of time outdoors, and have many fond memories watching the playful antics of otters, cats, squirrels, and other animals, along with the hilarious mating habits of many species. And most of you can probably say the same thing; which, if you’re a Believer, allows you to see a part of God’s humor. And if you’re not, just attribute it to whatever random selection you choose. Oops! Sorry! Selection implies choice, intelligent or otherwise. Just enjoy the humor for the sake of humor.

Have a good day.

 

Original here

“And if I perish, I perish”. A Priceless Virtue.

June 17, 2019

Esther 4:15-17:- “And If I perish, I perish”, A Priceless Virtue.

 

There is something that God put in Esther that was going to turn around her destiny for eternity that will also give glory to Him forever. That thing is “If I perish, I perish”

God put this in her that at the right time He was going to place a demand on it from her. It’s a great virtue, unique spiritual gift, priceless, that was only meant for a very few people. God knew this is one who will be willing to give up her life for her entire nation and for His sake. She had so much love for God and for her people. It takes one with this God kind of love to be sacrificial and selfless. She forsook, pleasure, fame, wealth, position, title and recognition, all for God and for her people. She was ready to die to save an entire Jews. She was ready to forsake the throne for the sake of truth, love, and justice. She brought honor, and glory to God.

A vessel of gratitude:- She was mindful of her humble beginnings, she maintained her relationship with her uncle till the end. Remained respectful and grateful to him. A very loyal and uncompromising vessel, just like her uncle Mordecai.

What a selfless and sacrificial service she truly rendered!

Beloved what is that thing, that part of God, He has put inside of you that He might require of you at His appointed time?

Seek His face fervently and you will surely find and become who He has destined you to be in Jesus Name.

Receive divine revelation and insight to see it in you and may God reveal to you in Jesus Name.

Shalom!

From the table of God’s loving heart.

 

Original here

Spread The Light

June 15, 2019 by Joe Rodriguez

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What does the U.S. motto “E Pluribus Unum,” John Donne’s famous line, “No man is an island entire of itself,” and the High Shcool Musical song “We’re All in This Together” have in common? Hint -The title of this devotion.

Consider this, lighthouses differ in size, shape, and color but so do stars. Yet all the lighthouses in the world and all the stars in the sky have one amazing thing in common, they radiate light. Their light has been used to guide people and illuminate the darkest of nights for centuries/millenniums.

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Perhaps you can think of other things that differ in size, shape, and color that also shine. But the featured lighthouse image reminded me that there is something whose diversity and brightness is far more compelling than that of anything in the universe. In fact, its design, purpose, and effectiveness are not only unfathomable but even mysterious to some degree. It is something that came into existence about 2,000 years ago in Jerusalem when thousands of Jews had gathered to celebrate a harvest festival called Pentecost. Some close followers of Jesus expected to participate in the customary yearly festivities, but their plans changed upon receiving instructions from Jesus himself to go into the city and wait for the Father’s promise. On the tenth day after Jesus ascended back to heaven, they obediently gathered together in an upper room near the temple. Suddenly it came to pass. The promised Comforter, the Holy Spirit, came and filled the place where they were staying.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.” – Acts 2:1-4

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What happened next was a spectacular event marked by supernatural signs and a powerful sermon that had an overwhelming response. 120 obedient disciples saw 3,000 new converts added to their group. Immediately thereafter, they began meeting together regularly, experiencing the power of God’s presence, and displaying a beautiful sense of oneness. From that day forward the gathering continued to grow exponentially. This is considered to be the birth of the church of Jesus Christ.

“Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd… Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day…Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” – Acts 2:14a, 41, 46-47.

Approximately 20 years later, the Apostle Paul wrote to the believers in Rome encouraging them to stay humble and to build each other up. It was the first time that Christ’s followers were compared to parts of a human body and referred to as part of the body of Christ.

“Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:27

This ONE body of believers is made of people of all shapes, sizes, and colors. And although they are from every tribe and nation under heaven and belong to different Christian denominations, like lighthouses and stars, they also have one thing in common. Individually and collectively they all shine the glorious light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And this is what I consider to be the most awesome example of diversity and unanimity at the same time.

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Christians everywhere are members of that one body Paul referred to which is also known as Christ’s universal church. But they have also been called to be an extension of that body by gathering, growing, and serving in local church communities.

“And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” – Hebrews 10:25

Local “churches” are formed whenever two or more are gathered in Jesus name to pray, worship, study the Scriptures, fellowship, and serve each other. They then fulfill their call to shine God’s love by sharing the Gospel message and by loving and serving others.

“For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” -Matthew 18:20

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

In order to effectively communicate the message of salvation, there can exist no bickering, pride, sense of theological superiority, selfish motivations, or even religious cliques among those who claim to be part of the body of Christ. What would happen if our body parts were in conflict with each other or fought to operate independently?

“For the body does not consist of one part, but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact, God has arranged the members of the body, every one of them, according to His design. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” -1 Corinthians 12:14-20 [BSB]

To truly be part of that one body, we must put aside our doctrinal and dogmatic differences and realize that just as our physical body is a living organism composed of different parts working together so is the church of Jesus Christ. It relies on the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit and it can only function effectively if/when all of its members work in unity.  For this reason, we must (tangibly) love everyone. We must also do whatever it takes to be at peace with everyone. And not just with the world, but most importantly with each other as Christians. For it is by the love we show one another that the world will know that we are truly disciples of Jesus.

“I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” – 1 Corinthians 1:10

“Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” -Romans12:18 [NLT]

“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” -John 13:35 

One single star can shine on a dark night, but it would not have done much for those (farmers) who used to depend on constellations in order to determine the seasons. Nor could it have helped the travelers who used them as directional aid. One lighthouse can show the way to a lost ship and guide it to safety, but it can only do so in one particular location. It is of no use to the hundreds of ships navigating around the globe.

Likewise, individual Christians can shine for Jesus wherever they may be situated, but imagine what a group of believers (a local church) can accomplish if they join their lights and illuminate their hometown and cities with the message of hope. What would happen if billions of believers around the world (the worldwide church) would join together in one undivided mission to pray for and love the world unconditionally? I believe it is possible and it can start with you and me. Let us show the world that we can be Uniquely Unitedfor the purpose of winning souls for the kingdom of God.

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Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for loving me enough to offer yourself as a ransom for my sins. You did it not only to grant me eternal life but so that I may become part of your church (body) and help others to know you as Lord and Savior. Help me to live in harmony with everyone, especially other believers so that together we may effectively reach the lost for your kingdom and bring glory to your name. Amen.

ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURES
“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” – John 15:8

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 1:8

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” -1 Peter 4:8

-All Scripture is quoted from the NIV except where specified.

CREDITS
The Body Of Christ by Danny Hahlbohm. Beautiful print can be purchased from Lord’s Art

Original here

Politics, Religion, and Globalism

By Dr. Mike Spaulding – June 21, 2019

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
Then I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again[1]

And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many … for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. Mark 13:5-6, 22-23 NASB

There is an eight hundred pound gorilla on the world stage and nearly every political leader in the world, save Trump, Ader of Hungary, and Duda of Poland, plus a few more, refuse to acknowledge its presence. It is getting really awkward for Macron, Merkel, and May. The atrocities that they have allowed to be committed against their citizenry by this gorilla deny reason. Can open revolt In France, Germany, and the United Kingdom be too far off?

Stated simply, world leaders who advocate for the continued freedom of this gorilla to behave in any way it desires are either deceived or being paid to downplay what is clearly a war against Western civilization. I believe it is some of both but mostly deception. Somehow, Western leaders believe they can contain the cancer that is Islam.

What kind of blindness is this? How can political leaders who rise through the cesspool of maneuvering to reach national prominence not understand what Islam is? The message of Islam is simple: convert or die. There is no ambiguity within Islam. This is why I say that the world and especially the leaders of the world’s nations, save a few, are completely deceived. This deception is satanic. Let me explain.

Jesus warned against being deceived. He said, “See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name.” The context is that the time will come when people will attempt to mislead you by advocating for false Christ’s. There have been many people over the years that have done exactly that. They have all been proven to be liars and frauds. The most dangerous deception concerning Jesus – the false Jesus – is found in Islam.

Satan, who is known as Allah to Muslims, has constructed a masterful deception and named it Islam. Christians of all people should know better than to believe the lies of Islam but unfortunately that is not the case. This is to their shame and potentially to their destruction. How does Islam present the most clear and present danger to Christians and indeed the world? If you want to understand the barbarity of Islam and why Islamists are blood-thirsty savages, then you must understand their eschatology. Islam has a theology of the end times.

Would it surprise you if I told you that Jesus plays a significant role in Islamic end time’s theology? Of course, when I say Jesus, I’m talking about the Islamic Jesus. There is a difference between the biblical Jesus and the Jesus of Islam and you must understand this pivotal point.

Islam recognizes Jesus as a great prophet. But Islam states that Mohammed is greater. In fact the 12th Imam or Mahdi of Islam is even greater. The Islamic Jesus is a great prophet but:

  • He is not the Son of God.

  • He was not born of a virgin.

  • He was not crucified for the sins of the world.

  • He did not die on a cross.

  • Because He didn’t die He was not resurrected.

  • He was taken to heaven just like Elijah and Mohammed.

  • He is standing with Allah waiting for Allah to allow Him to return to the earth.

Now, some Christians get excited over that last point: Muslims believe Jesus will return to the earth. In their excitement they rush to an ignorant conclusion: We can use that as a starting place for interfaith dialogue.

As Lee Corso likes to say: Not so fast my friends! In Islam, Jesus returns to assist the Mahdi, the Islamic Messiah-Savior figure with several necessary activities. The Islamic Jesus will, according to Islam:

  • Jesus returns as a radicalized Muslim and

  • Jesus will implement Sharia Law across the entire world.

  • Jesus’ testimony as a Muslim will lead many Christians to convert to Islam.

  • Jesus will testify against those Christians who refuse to convert on the Day of Judgment.

  • Jesus will abolish Christianity.

  • Jesus will destroy every cross.

  • Jesus will kill all swine.

  • Jesus will kill the Muslim antichrist and his followers, which in Islamic theology are the Jews.

  • Jesus will marry, have children, and die.

The Islamic Jesus is the exact opposite of the biblical Jesus. In fact, the Islamic Jesus is a near perfect representation of the biblical false prophet. Yet, we have mindless Christians that believe we can dialogue with Islamists and find a common ground.

Let’s consider the Islamic messiah-savior figure, the Mahdi, sometimes referred to as the 12thImam. The name “Mahdi” means “the Guided One.” The Mahdi is also called Sahib Al-Zaman or Al-Mahdi al-Muntadhar, which translated mean “the Lord of the age” and “the Awaited Savior.” The Mahdi is Islam’s savior.

The appearance of the Mahdi on the world stage is to Muslims the equivalent of the return of Jesus Christ to Christians. The Mahdi is:

  • A descendant of Mohammed.

  • The final and longed for Caliph who will establish the Islamic worldwide Caliphate.

  • He will rule the world through a series of holy wars.

  • His rise to power is preceded by an army of black flag carrying warriors.

The black flags these warriors carry are inscribed with the words “There is no God but Allah, and Mohammed is his Messenger” in Arabic. The Mahdi will lead the black flagged warriors to conquer Israel and will reign from the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Muslims believe the Mahdi will be loved by the entire world.

The reason Muslims believe the entire world will love the Mahdi is because they believe the Mahdi will establish world peace. He will negotiate a peace treaty between the Arabs and the Romans, by which is meant Christians.

Let’s contrast what Islam reaches about the Mahdi with whom the Bible says accomplishes these things. The Bible teaches that the antichrist will arrive on the world stage as a political savior. He will bring peace to the world through a treaty between Israel and the Muslim world. The antichrist will appear to be a spiritual leader for the entire world and he will make use of the one world religion.

The biblical antichrist attempts to destroy Jews and Christians. In fact, the biblical antichrist breaks treaty with Israel, demands he be worshipped, and seeks to attack and conquer Jerusalem and establish his headquarters there.

Readers that are even vaguely familiar with the Bible see clearly that the Islamic savior, the Mahdi, is the biblical antichrist. The Islamic Jesus is the biblical false prophet.

Islam is Satanic. It is thoroughly demonic in origin and practice. Indeed, it manifests the spirit of antichrist right before the eyes of the world and yet world leaders turn a blind eye to the horrific evil being unleashed on innocent people.

Jesus warned of the day when false Christs would come onto the world scene, and I remind you of one such passage in Mark.

And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many … for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance. Mark 13:5-6, 22-23

Those days are upon us. Here are characteristics of the spirit of antichrist:

  • and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. 1 John 4:3
  • Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 1 John 2:22-23
  • For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ ascoming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the antichrist. 2 John 1:7

The spirit of antichrist deceives people, and is a liar. Those consumed by the spirit of antichrist deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah of Israel and the world; they deny the Father and the Son and therefore the Trinity; they deny that Jesus Christ came in the flesh, and therefore the incarnation.

Yet, people want to say that the God of the Bible is Allah, that Jesus is revered within Islam, and that if we just keep dialoguing with the Muslims then we can achieve a peaceful co-existence with them. Neville Chamberlain lives again as every modern imbecile who believes Islam is about co-existing.

Those that are pushing a globalist Chrislam one-world religion harlotry should be denounced and shamed. People that want to have conversations for better understanding with jihadi Imams should be denounced in the strongest possible terms.

You want to have a conversation with Islamists? Tell them to confess their sins and receive God’s free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Tell them to renounce the demonic lies of Islam and live as a disciple of Jesus.

Wake up church!

Pastor Mike Spaulding

www.drmikelive.com

www.soarngeagleradio.com

www.thetransformingword.com

www.drmikespaulding.com

[1] The Who, Won’t Get Fooled Again, written by Pete Townsend. From the 1971 album Who’s Next.

 

Original here