A Time of Altars

By Jack Hayford

 

Abram passed through the land to the place of Shechem, as far as the terebinth tree of Moreh. And the Canaanites were then in the land. Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the Lord, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South. – Genesis 12:6-9

…to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the Lord… Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to the Lord. – Genesis 13:4, 18

Altars are a memorial of the places where God meets us

Altars represent the occasion and place where we have had a personal encounter with God. We may not always be able to make a physical altar, but there can be one established in our hearts. When we celebrate communion, we are celebrating the grandest altar of all, the Cross of Calvary. The Son of God was the ultimate sacrifice, and His work on the Cross reconciled all humankind to God, made possible for our lives to be infused with meaning, for our sins to be forgiven and to give us the promise of eternal life.

Altars appear throughout the Bible in many different forms. Some of them are:

A place of encounter – The Lord met Jacob in a crisis and the next day he built an altar at that place (Genesis 28).

A place of forgiveness – The brazen altar of the tabernacle sacrifice was offered as an advance testimony that there would be a once-for-all sacrifice in God’s Son.

A place of worship – The most common altar built by people to acknowledge their praise to God was the altar of incense, the holy place where priests would offer worship to the Lord on behalf of the people and themselves.

A place of covenant – An altar was built where the covenant was made between the Lord and Abraham, and the land was sealed as a timeless promise to Abraham and his offspring (Genesis 15).

A place of intercession – The prophet Joel called for intercession by leaders on behalf of the people and their devastated economy.

God has a place of “altaring” for us

There is a place of “altaring” and a price of altering. Altars have a price–God intends that something be “altered” in us when we come to altars. To receive the promise means we make way for the transformation.

Have you ever felt that the Lord put in your heart an expectation of promise? Such aspirations come from the Lord (Psalm 62:5). You sense anticipation of something God has put in your heart and underwritten by promises in His Word. You look at the promise and begin to picture in your mind what it’s going to be like. The fact is, we often visualize things that have nothing whatsoever to do with what God wants to do with us.

Abraham knew there was a place for him, and God has a “place” for you. There is a longing in every human heart for where we are meant to be, but we get caught up in our notion of how it’s going to be fulfilled. When the Lord told Abraham he had a place for him, Abraham probably imagined a verdant valley, flowing stream, lovely mountains. But the Scripture says he came to a place were Canaanites were living in the land. The Canaanites were the most perverted, corrupt culture in human history. They were the Satanists of that time.

Abraham’s building of the altar represents his saying: “I’m accepting a promise, understanding that this is different than what I thought it was going to be, but it’s also something that I believe God can bring to pass. I trust You, Lord, that You will make it work.”

Be encouraged to let your heart receive the promise and embrace wherever you are right now, even if it seems much different that what you hope for. If the Lord is there with you He can make it work, but it will require the building of an altar on your part to say, I’m willing and to trust that God is greater than your preconception of how it’s supposed to be.

Abraham calls on the Name of the Lord

When the Bible says that Abraham called on the Name of the Lord, it was more than prayer. The word “name” contains the concept of character.

Our perspective of God is on this side of the completion of the Old and New Testaments. But in Abraham’s time, God was just beginning to rework His communication with fallen humanity. Abraham answered a call because he believed in God and sensed Him drawing Abraham’s heart to a promise of something that he could not be or do in himself.

Abraham believed that there was a true and living God in the midst of the pagan culture around him. Now the Lord says to him, “I want to teach you about Me.” Abraham was coming to know the Lord and he called on the name—and character—of the Lord.

Abraham leaves and then returns to where God met him

When a famine strikes, Abraham decides to take matters into his own hands and moves his family to Egypt (Genesis 12:1-12). That only creates a bigger problem than if he’d stayed and remembered the promise the Lord gave him. The Lord met him in Egypt anyway, helped him through, and Abraham returned to altar he’d made and called on the name of the Lord (Genesis 13:4).

We all fall for that. God’s really busy and He may not notice what I need right now. But if God has a place for you and He’s showing you Himself in that place, provision will never ultimately be your problem unless you try to figure out how to make it for yourself.

There are people who launch out on their own and distanced themselves from the place the Lord says He has for them. Our Father says, “You know Me differently from the way you are acting right now.” Just as surely as He met Abraham and brought him back to the altar of promise, so He wants to meet you today. You’ve got to decide to come to that altar, and that altar is the Cross of Jesus.

Whatever you have done to violate trust with God (and that usually constitutes having violated trust with other people or making compromises you knew were not right) the Lord calls you to come back. Abraham wanted to move on in knowing God, so he came back to the altar he had built and called on the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13; Zechariah 13:9).

Redemption means fulfillment of God’s purpose in you

Following the episode of stress between he and Lot over territory, Abraham graciously offers Lot his choice of the land, saying he will take whatever remained beyond it (Genesis 13). Abraham may have wondered if in doing that, he’d given away the store. But the Lord appears to him and says, “I still have the land for you, and I want you to pace it out and see its dimensions.” As a result of that, Abraham built an altar.

Have you ever wondered if what you thought your life was going to be will never be realized to the degree it might have?

I believe it’s a very clear statement from God’s heart saying that ultimately, you don’t need to worry about the things that seem to encroach on the realization of God’s purpose in your life. There are some things that are irrecoverable. You can’t go back and scrape up all the pieces of everything. But our life is not constituted only of those pieces. There are issues over which the Lord promises to bring about the fulfillment of His purpose in you, notwithstanding the thing that’s happened. That’s what redemption is about (Joel 2).

The Lord is telling Abraham that the loss is not irrevocable as far as His purpose in him is concerned, and to that, Abraham built an altar.

There are some who need to come today and say, “Lord, I’m going to decide that You have not called me to lead a second-rate life because I allowed second-rate things to cut in on what was Your first-rate plan.” Let the Lord work His redemption fully and thoroughly as you come to the altar.

The price of altering

What it takes to build an altar are rocks, broken things. The geological application is relevant, there are volcanic explosions in our lives, seismic events, the grinding of life. You can take hard things and arrange them before the Lord or you can drag the rocks around and be burdened by them. Or when you’re frustrated at lugging them around, you get mad and throw them at somebody else. The way you build an altar is to bring those hard, broken things before the Lord and put them there.

The price of altering is that you have to pour your life out over it saying, “Lord I come and present myself to You!”

At the altar, the price is paid for renewal when we’ve been at a distance, for securing hope we may have thought was lost and for receiving promise, even if it’s in an unpleasant environment. Come to the ultimate altar and receive the ultimate promise and provision made offered in our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

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The Essence of Evil: Sex with Children Has Become Big Business in America

 

Children are being targeted and sold for sex in America every day.”—John Ryan, National Center for Missing & Exploited Children

Children, young girls—some as young as 9 years old—are being bought and sold for sex in America. The average age for a young woman being sold for sex is now 13 years old.

This is America’s dirty little secret.

Sex trafficking—especially when it comes to the buying and selling of young girls—has become big business in America, the fastest growing business in organized crime and the second most-lucrative commodity traded illegally after drugs and guns.

As investigative journalist Amy Fine Collins notes, “It’s become more lucrative and much safer to sell malleable teens than drugs or guns. A pound of heroin or an AK-47 can be retailed once, but a young girl can be sold 10 to 15 times a day—and a ‘righteous’ pimp confiscates 100 percent of her earnings.”

Consider this: every two minutes, a child is exploited in the sex industry.

According to USA Todayadults purchase children for sex at least 2.5 million times a year in the United States.

Who buys a child for sex? Otherwise ordinary men from all walks of life.

They could be your co-worker, doctor, pastor or spouse,” writes journalist Tim Swarens, who spent more than a year investigating the sex trade in America.

In Georgia alone, it is estimated that 7,200 men (half of them in their 30s) seek to purchase sex with adolescent girls each month, averaging roughly 300 a day.

On average, a child might be raped by 6,000 men during a five-year period of servitude.

It is estimated that at least 100,000 children—girls and boys—are bought and sold for sex in the U.S. every year, with as many as 300,000 children in danger of being trafficked each year. Some of these children are forcefully abducted, others are runaways, and still others are sold into the system by relatives and acquaintances.

“Human trafficking—the commercial sexual exploitation of American children and women, via the Internet, strip clubs, escort services, or street prostitution—is on its way to becoming one of the worst crimes in the U.S.,” said prosecutor Krishna Patel.

This is an industry that revolves around cheap sex on the fly, with young girls and women who are sold to 50 men each day for $25 apiece, while their handlers make $150,000 to $200,000 per child each year.

This is not a problem found only in big cities.

It’s happening everywhere, right under our noses, in suburbs, cities and towns across the nation.

As Ernie Allen of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children points out, “The only way not to find this in any American city is simply not to look for it.”

Don’t fool yourselves into believing that this is merely a concern for lower income communities or immigrants.

It’s not.

It is estimated that there are 100,000 to 150,000 under-aged child sex workers in the U.S. These girls aren’t volunteering to be sex slaves. They’re being lured—forced—trafficked into it. In most cases, they have no choice.

In order to avoid detection (in some cases aided and abetted by the police) and cater to male buyers’ demand for sex with different women, pimps and the gangs and crime syndicates they work for have turned sex trafficking into a highly mobile enterprise, with trafficked girls, boys and women constantly being moved from city to city, state to state, and country to country.

For instance, the Baltimore-Washington area, referred to as The Circuit, with its I-95 corridor dotted with rest stops, bus stations and truck stops, is a hub for the sex trade.

No doubt about it: this is a highly profitable, highly organized and highly sophisticated sex trafficking business that operates in towns large and small, raking in upwards of $9.5 billion a year in the U.S. alone by abducting and selling young girls for sex.

Every year, the girls being bought and sold gets younger and younger.

The average age of those being trafficked is 13. Yet as the head of a group that combats trafficking pointed out, “Let’s think about what average means. That means there are children younger than 13. That means 8-, 9-, 10-year-olds.

“For every 10 women rescued, there are 50 to 100 more women who are brought in by the traffickers. Unfortunately, they’re not 18- or 20-year-olds anymore,” noted a 25-year-old victim of trafficking. “They’re minors as young as 13 who are being trafficked. They’re little girls.”

Where did this appetite for young girls come from?

Look around you.

Young girls have been sexualized for years now in music videos, on billboards, in television ads, and in clothing stores. Marketers have created a demand for young flesh and a ready supply of over-sexualized children.

“All it takes is one look at MySpace photos of teens to see examples—if they aren’t imitating porn they’ve actually seen, they’re imitating the porn-inspired images and poses they’ve absorbed elsewhere,” writes Jessica Bennett for Newsweek. “Latex, corsets and stripper heels, once the fashion of porn stars, have made their way into middle and high school.”

This is what Bennett refers to as the “pornification of a generation.”

“In a market that sells high heels for babies and thongs for tweens, it doesn’t take a genius to see that sex, if not porn, has invaded our lives,” concludes Bennett. “Whether we welcome it or not, television brings it into our living rooms and the Web brings it into our bedrooms. According to a 2007 study from the University of Alberta, as many as 90 percent of boys and 70 percent of girls aged 13 to 14 have accessed sexually explicit content at least once.”

In other words, the culture is grooming these young people to be preyed upon by sexual predators. And then we wonder why our young women are being preyed on, trafficked and abused?

Social media makes it all too easy. As one news center reported, “Finding girls is easy for pimps. They look on MySpace, Facebook, and other social networks. They and their assistants cruise malls, high schools and middle schools. They pick them up at bus stops. On the trolley. Girl-to-girl recruitment sometimes happens.” Foster homes and youth shelters have also become prime targets for traffickers.

Rarely do these girls enter into prostitution voluntarily. Many start out as runaways or throwaways, only to be snatched up by pimps or larger sex rings. Others, persuaded to meet up with a stranger after interacting online through one of the many social networking sites, find themselves quickly initiated into their new lives as sex slaves.

Debbie, a straight-A student who belonged to a close-knit Air Force family living in Phoenix, Ariz., is an example of this trading of flesh. Debbie was 15 when she was snatched from her driveway by an acquaintance-friend. Forced into a car, Debbie was bound and taken to an unknown location, held at gunpoint and raped by multiple men. She was then crammed into a small dog kennel and forced to eat dog biscuits. Debbie’s captors advertised her services on Craigslist. Those who responded were often married with children, and the money that Debbie “earned” for sex was given to her kidnappers. The gang raping continued. After searching the apartment where Debbie was held captive, police finally found Debbie stuffed in a drawer under a bed. Her harrowing ordeal lasted for 40 days.

While Debbie was fortunate enough to be rescued, others are not so lucky. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, nearly 800,000 children go missing every year (roughly 2,185 children a day).

With a growing demand for sexual slavery and an endless supply of girls and women who can be targeted for abduction, this is not a problem that’s going away anytime soon.

For those trafficked, it’s a nightmare from beginning to end.

Those being sold for sex have an average life expectancy of seven years, and those years are a living nightmare of endless rape, forced drugging, humiliation, degradation, threats, disease, pregnancies, abortions, miscarriages, torture, pain, and always the constant fear of being killed or, worse, having those you love hurt or killed.

Peter Landesman paints the full horrors of life for those victims of the sex trade in his New York Times article “The Girls Next Door”:

Andrea told me that she and the other children she was held with were frequently beaten to keep them off-balance and obedient. Sometimes they were videotaped while being forced to have sex with adults or one another. Often, she said, she was asked to play roles: the therapist patient or the obedient daughter. Her cell of sex traffickers offered three age ranges of sex partners–toddler to age 4, 5 to 12 and teens–as well as what she called a “damage group.” “In the damage group, they can hit you or do anything they want to,” she explained. “Though sex always hurts when you are little, so it’s always violent, everything was much more painful once you were placed in the damage group.”

What Andrea described next shows just how depraved some portions of American society have become. “They’d get you hungry then to train you” to have oral sex. “They put honey on a man. For the littlest kids, you had to learn not to gag. And they would push things in you so you would open up better. We learned responses. Like if they wanted us to be sultry or sexy or scared. Most of them wanted you scared. When I got older, I’d teach the younger kids how to float away so things didn’t hurt.”

Immigration and customs enforcement agents at the Cyber Crimes Center in Fairfax, Va., report that when it comes to sex, the appetites of many Americans have now changed. What was once considered abnormal is now the norm. These agents are tracking a clear spike in the demand for harder-core pornography on the Internet. As one agent noted, “We’ve become desensitized by the soft stuff; now we need a harder and harder hit.”

This trend is reflected by the treatment many of the girls receive at the hands of the drug traffickers and the men who purchase them. Peter Landesman interviewed Rosario, a Mexican woman who had been trafficked to New York and held captive for a number of years. She said: “In America, we had ‘special jobs.’ Oral sex, anal sex, often with many men. Sex is now more adventurous, harder.”

A common thread woven through most survivors’ experiences is being forced to go without sleep or food until they have met their sex quota of at least 40 men. One woman recounts how her trafficker made her lie face down on the floor when she was pregnant and then literally jumped on her back, forcing her to miscarry.

Holly Austin Smith was abducted when she was 14 years old, raped, and then forced to prostitute herself. Her pimp, when brought to trial, was only made to serve a year in prison.

Barbara Amaya was repeatedly sold between traffickers, abused, shot, stabbed, raped, kidnapped, trafficked, beaten, and jailed all before she was 18 years old. “I had a quota that I was supposed to fill every night. And if I didn’t have that amount of money, I would get beat, thrown down the stairs. He beat me once with wire coat hangers, the kind you hang up clothes, he straightened it out and my whole back was bleeding.”

As David McSwane recounts in a chilling piece for the Herald-Tribune: “In Oakland Park, an industrial Fort Lauderdale suburb, federal agents in 2011 encountered a brothel operated by a married couple. Inside ‘The Boom Boom Room,’ as it was known, customers paid a fee and were given a condom and a timer and left alone with one of the brothel’s eight teenagers, children as young as 13. A 16-year-old foster child testified that he acted as security, while a 17-year-old girl told a federal judge she was forced to have sex with as many as 20 men a night.”

One particular sex trafficking ring catered specifically to migrant workers employed seasonally on farms throughout the southeastern states, especially the Carolinas and Georgia, although it’s a flourishing business in every state in the country. Traffickers transport the women from farm to farm, where migrant workers would line up outside shacks, as many as 30 at a time, to have sex with them before they were transported to yet another farm where the process would begin all over again.

This growing evil is, for all intents and purposes, out in the open.

Trafficked women and children are advertised on the internet, transported on the interstate, and bought and sold in swanky hotels.

Indeed, as I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, the government’s war on sex trafficking—much like the government’s war on terrorism, drugs and crime—has become a perfect excuse for inflicting more police state tactics (police check points, searches, surveillance, and heightened security) on a vulnerable public, while doing little to make our communities safer.

So what can you do?

Educate yourselves and your children about this growing menace in our communities.

Stop feeding the monster: Sex trafficking is part of a larger continuum in America that runs the gamut from homelessness, poverty, and self-esteem issues to sexualized television, the glorification of a pimp/ho culture—what is often referred to as the pornification of America—and a billion dollar sex industry built on the back of pornography, music, entertainment, etc.

This epidemic is largely one of our own making, especially in a corporate age where the value placed on human life takes a backseat to profit. It is estimated that the porn industry brings in more money than Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple, and Yahoo.

Call on your city councils, elected officials and police departments to make the battle against sex trafficking a top priority, more so even than the so-called war on terror and drugs and the militarization of law enforcement.

Stop prosecuting adults for victimless “crimes” such as growing lettuce in their front yard and focus on putting away the pimps and buyers who victimize these young women.

Finally, the police need to do a better job of training, identifying and responding to these issues; communities and social services need to do a better job of protecting runaways, who are the primary targets of traffickers; legislators need to pass legislation aimed at prosecuting traffickers and “johns,” the buyers who drive the demand for sex slaves; and hotels need to stop enabling these traffickers, by providing them with rooms and cover for their dirty deeds.

That so many women and children continue to be victimized, brutalized and treated like human cargo is due to three things: one, a consumer demand that is increasingly lucrative for everyone involved—except the victims; two, a level of corruption so invasive on both a local and international scale that there is little hope of working through established channels for change; and three, an eerie silence from individuals who fail to speak out against such atrocities.

But the truth is that we are all guilty of contributing to this human suffering. The traffickers are guilty. The consumers are guilty. The corrupt law enforcement officials are guilty. The women’s groups who do nothing are guilty. The foreign peacekeepers and aid workers who contribute to the demand for sex slaves are guilty. Most of all, every individual who does not raise a hue and cry over the atrocities being committed against women and children in almost every nation around the globe—including the United States—is guilty.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/the_essence_of_evil_sex_with_children_has_become_big_business_in_america

Symbols of the Holy Spirit

by Jack Hayford

And immediately, coming up from the water, He saw the heavens parting and the Spirit descending upon Him like a dove. (Mark 1:10)

The Holy Spirit doesn’t seek to be mysterious, but He is the most mysterious of the Godhead. We can read in the Word about the Father, and we can read about the Son who came and walked among us. But Jesus tells us that when the Spirit comes, He will not speak of Himself; that “whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come” (John 16:13 KJV).

 

The workings of the Holy Spirit are invisible, glorious, and gentle, and within them, He never tells us about Himself. He comes to glorify Jesus—helping us to see Jesus more, to understand Jesus better, to respond to Jesus more obediently, and to love Jesus with a deeper heart of commitment.

So the symbols of the Holy Spirit become essential to our gaining an understanding of what He’s like, not only in an objective way of analyzing truth, but also in the subjective way that He comes to penetrate our lives—ways in which the reality of the invisible penetrate the visible. When we talk about the Holy Spirit as rain, for example, the purpose isn’t to think, “Oh, the Holy Spirit is like rain.” The purpose is to get wet.

In each of the following seven ways, the Lord desires to move into our realm. Just as the Holy Spirit manifested for a moment in a dove and lighted upon Jesus, He wants to penetrate you and me with the glory of the invisible God that becomes visible in us—to flood His life into ours that we might then overflow it to others.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Rain

Rain has a dual implication. First as refreshing where there has been dryness and barrenness (Joel 2:23-29). Second, as restoration where there has been loss (Isa. 28:11-12).

The “pouring out” Peter refers to at Pentecost (Acts 2:17) is not an abstract use of the word; it has to do with “latter rain” that brought about the hastening of the harvest and fruitful crops. The Lord is saying that He will send rain to fields [people] that are totally barren as a promise of hope.

Needing to be refreshed doesn’t mean that I’ve backslid or sinned. When the lawn endures a hot day, it dries up and needs the refreshing of rain. The Holy Spirit, coming as rain, comes to bring refreshing and restoration.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Rivers

Rivers are channels or conduits to places where the refreshing of water is needed. John pinpoints that the work of the Spirit as “rivers of living water” was to become available after Jesus’ ascension (John 7:37-39). The Holy Spirit is manifest in rivers in order that the rain not only be a refreshing upon you, but also that the Lord would make you an overflowing tributary of His Holy Spirit fullness, life, and love to others.

The Lord wants people to get in touch with who He is, and that takes people who will let the rivers of living water be awakened in them and then gush out of their lives. So the Holy Spirit is manifest in rivers.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Wind

The Holy Spirit, coming as wind, depicts His power and His guidance. When Jesus tells Nicodemus about the new birth experience (John 3:8), He tells him that it is not like a tangible birth where you can see the baby is born and check the clock for its time of arrival. The work of the Spirit breathes into a life, and something transpires that people cannot recognize. There’s a dynamism but also a gentleness, like the wisp of a breeze. You can’t necessarily see where it came from or where it goes, but all of us can attest to times when God has come and dealt with us, and no human being knew how it happened.

At Pentecost (Acts 2:3), it wasn’t a wind that blew in; it was the sound of a rushing wind—like a hurricane. That sound, not the sound of the people speaking in tongues, is what drew the crowd in. The Holy Spirit as sovereign God is dynamic, irresistible, and unstoppable.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Oil

The anointing—the oil of Scripture—is directly related to the Holy Spirit’s work in our life (2 Cor. 1:21-22). The Holy Spirit’s anointing makes us sensitive (1 John 2:20). How many times have you sensed something was wrong, or something was right, but you didn’t know why or how you knew? The Holy Spirit, by His anointing and presence, confirms what He is—the Spirit of Truth, of Holiness, of Wisdom. Obeying the Holy Spirit means that He will give us wisdom when we need it in the practicals of our everyday life.

All the primary offices of Scripture—prophets, priests, and kings—involve anointing. And all of these are offices to which all of us are called. As prophets, we are called to speak the Word of the Lord. There are times when the Holy Spirit will give you words of comfort, exhortation, or sensitive counsel to say to other people. As priests, the Lord wants to anoint us for worship to renew us, so that our worship doesn’t become stale, habitual, or formal. And as kings, we don’t just get anointed once for all. It takes fresh anointing from the Holy Spirit for the dominion of His Kingdom and the authority of His life to happen through us. When it does, we can move in confidence about how to rule our homes and our businesses, and how to deal with our kids and our relationships. God’s not going to anoint us with the ability to rule when we try to manage things our own way.

The Lord also wants to anoint those who have been overcome by the spirit of mourning with the oil of rejoicing. That anointing brings the lifting of our heads with the refreshing of seeing beyond today—not with superficial optimism, but with a deep abiding of hope that has been begotten in us by God.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Wine

Ephesians 5:18 draws an analogy for the symbolism of the Holy Spirit as wine. In the Gospels, Jesus describes the new work of God, conveyed by the ministry of the Spirit, as new wine coming into old vessels. So it’s a perfectly appropriate symbol in light of the Word. Still, let me ask you, what does it take to excite your life? The issue isn’t just alcohol; the issue is, how much of what the world offers does it take to get you going?

The Bible doesn’t say we are disallowed from enjoying a number of the things that come with life, but you can find out how much a person is living the Jesus life by how much they need the stimulants of the world. The separated, holy Christian life is not a call to isolation but to insulation. You live in the world, but His Spirit in you keeps out the world’s pollution.

The Holy Spirit Comes as Fire

At Pentecost, the Bible says that tongues as of fire appeared over the heads of each of those who gathered together (Acts 2:3).  The Holy Spirit comes as fire to work something deep into the substance of our lives that will shape things around us, rather than us taking on the shape of the world. As fire, He works in a dual way: to probe the inner recesses of our life and to refine us as gold or silver is refined in the fire; and to temper our personalities by causing there to be the penetration of fire into our system.

The purifying fire burns out the Adversary. When the three Hebrew children were thrown into the furnace, not only were their lives spared, but also their clothes didn’t burn. But the ropes holding them in bondage burned. The Bible speaks of the Holy Spirit being “a spirit of judgment and burning” (Isa. 4:4). Judgment has to do with deliverance, in the way the judges of Israel led people out of bondage. The Holy Spirit, coming like fire, burns away any binding grip that the Enemy has imposed on us.

The Holy Spirit Comes as a Dove

The Holy Spirit, coming as a dove, is gentle and a symbol of peace. What the dove did is important as well—the dove came and rested on Jesus (Matt. 3:16). The Holy Spirit wants to come and rest upon you and me. Not sweeping throughout the world as a tidal wave of revival, but to come to each of us personally.

Today, I want to ask you to invite Him by saying, “Holy Spirit, come upon me.” In fact, for the next week, take one symbol of the Holy Spirit each day and invite Him to do that freshly in your life. Let Jesus minister the richness of the Holy Spirit to you. The Bible says it is Jesus who baptizes with the Holy Spirit (Mark 1:8), and He will:

  • Pour rain on you
  • Open rivers in you
  • Breathe wind into your life
  • Anoint you with oil
  • Fill you with holy wine
  • Refine and temper you with fire
  • Send the Holy Spirit to come to you
Copyright © 2008, 2010 by Jack W. Hayford, Jack Hayford Ministries

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“True Love Is” Helping People Come Out, Come Home

May 5, 2019 By Arthur Schaper

In the United States, there is growing awareness within churches as well as in the general public that homosexuality, transgenderism, and related paraphilias must be confronted fully. All the talk about seeking “religious liberty” as a point of compromise is not working. But in the church, there are few real ministries  to help individuals, especially Christians, who struggle with same-sex desires. It’s scary enough to be honest with oneself about sexual feelings, intimacy, and identity. How does one “come out” to others, in the hopes of getting not just support, but truth to be set free?

Many churches seem to vacillate among extremes: condemn the behavior; compromise by allowing individuals to identify as “gay”, but instruct the to refrain from same-sex sexual contact; celebrate the entire corrupt LGBT rainbow and highlight such behaviors as normal, even exceptional.

Churches in America are not focusing on what causes these unwanted desires, either. In too many cases, there is no guidance from pastors and parishioners in properly dealing with this contentious issue. The implications of this lack are great, since church attendance is in sharp decline, much of it due to a falling away from the truth on core issues, including marriage and sexuality. Worse yet, compromise and condemnation are both culprits in this matter. What is to be done?

One key ministry which deals effectively with these problems came from Life Site News. They reported the incredibly moving and very personal confession of a young Christian and motivational speaker, Jason Lim, aka Jason Yolt. He travels the world testifying to thousands, telling people that they can—they should strive to—live their lives to the fullest. After all, If You Only Live Twice is the title of his best-selling book.

His spirit to engage others sprang out of his near-death experience while traveling in Cambodia five years ago. That near-tragedy forced him to confront his secret shame, too, which he admits openly:

“I like … men.”

This was a long-lasting struggle, his same-sex desires, compounded by what possible outcomes would result from coming out to his parents. Thankfully, Jason’s parents responded in a gracious manner. Jason relates:

“When I came out to [my parents], they told me that even though they don’t approve of it [acting on my same-sex desires], they loved me because I was their son.”

There’s the Gospel response: “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” In the Body of Christ, one should say “Love the saint, hate the sin.” All our sins have been forgiven, and the sin in the flesh has been condemned. Christians still sin, but we break free when we understand that there is no condemnation in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1-3).

This is the blessings of the Gospel which transforms Christians from glory to glory (2 Corinthians 3:18) Sadly, Paul’s revelation, including his exhortation to the Corinthian Church has not settled in the hearts of many believers:

“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9-11)

We were sinners. Because of Jesus, we become saints, anew identity which causes us to abstain from. Christians will still fail, but we remain Christians still.

God’s love makes us sons, but a lack of revelation will lead us to lusting. John the Beloved writes:

“If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. (1 John 2:16)

If we do not allow “The Love of the Father” into our selves, we will continue to settle for conditional lusts. From his parents Jason Yolt received unconditional love, a love which included not condoning same-sex behaviors. This love helped him break free. This message, is the heart of the Gospel.

Jason’s testimony is not an isolated victory, but is connected to a larger ministry“True Love Is”, which focuses on God’s true love, which helps to break free from same-sex desires. This ministry is accomplishing what same churches in the United States have failed to do: preaching God’s love without permitting sin.

The Gospel is about God’s grace, about God’s undeserved love, favor in our lives. We were still sinners, lost in our fallen state when God the Father sent His Son to die for us (Romans 5:8). Yet for too many Christians, they believe that following our first step into salvation, we are on our own to live upright lives in order to remain accepted by our loving Father. But David writes:

“Blessed is the man unto whom the LORD imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile.” (Psalm 32:2)

The main point is that the Lord does not impute sin, even when man sins; otherwise, there would be no reason to call anyone “blessed.”

There is no better example of God’s transformative, true love than the Parable of the Loving Father (Luke 15: 11-24). His prodigal son squandered everything, shortly after telling his father basically to drop dead by requesting his inheritance right away. When the destitute prodigal returns home, His father lavishes so much love on him, re-establishing his son’s status, which helps him break away from that old life. God’s unconditional love helps people break free of conditional pleasures, including sexual perversion. The “True Love Is” Movement rejects homosexuality and transgenderism as innate identities, but enhances our true selves as children of our Loving Father.

To help those caught in LGBT bondage, it’s time to announce: Come out, so that you can come home to God’s unconditional love, for that is where True Love Is!

Arthur Christopher Schaper is a blogger, writer, and commentator on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow his blogs at The State of the Union and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.

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Twitter: @ArthurCSchaper

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Email: ArthurSchaper@hotmail.com

 

Original here

Nation Stolen By Force

May 9, 2019 by DAVE DAUBENMIRE

Words are powerful.  They can make or break an argument, a relationship, or even a judicial system.  Our entire nation has been captured and we really have no idea how it happened.

Well, let me help you here.  One of the greatest weapons that the Left has used to STEAL this nation is through the power of words.  Just stop and consider for a moment the words that we use today that have nothing to do with the meaning of the words 50 years ago.

Some call it evolution.  I call it destruction.  Devolution is actually a better term.  America hasn’t EVOLVED, it has devolved.  Despite what the academics, the entertainers, and the talking heads have told you, America is not better off today than it was fifty years ago.  We have been lied to.  Snookered would be a better term, by the wordsmiths and their effective, decades-long march through the institutions of America.

Think about how the words have changed.  Gay, tolerant, accepting, love, judgment, are neutral words that have been weaponized.  Heck, masculine, male, man, are all nothing more than identifiers twisted and used for an evil intent.  The altering of the words has turned America upside down.  Today, the children, and those who act like children, are running the world.  How did all this happen?

By force.  That’s how they did it.  But we don’t even understand that process either because we have allowed the word-meisters to miss represent what FORCE even means.  Read carefully this verse out of the book of Matthew.

From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of God has suffered violence and violent men take it by FORCE.”

Is force violence?  Is violence force?  Why is it we always hear from America’s pulpits that we are to avoid “violence” while our entire heritage is being taken from us?  Violence is a result of FORCE.  Let me do a bit of word-excavating with you.

http://webstersdictionary1828.com  is a great place to start if you want to truly understand how the RIGHT has been manipulated by the words that the LEFT has altered.  Can someone explain to me why you find yourself calling homosexuals GAY?  Homosexuals aren’t GAY…happy…they are some of the nastiest people we run into while doing street ministry.  Yet the culture has programmed us to call them by the name that the LEFT has chosen…Gay.  And we dutifully comply.  Why do you call homosexuals gay?

Force is defined by Mr. Webster as “To compel; to constrain to do or to forbear, by the exertion of a power not resistible. Men are forced to submit to conquerorsTo overpower by strength.”

Isn’t that exactly what the LEFT has done to our culture?  Would you like me to rattle off for you the devastating cultural changes that they have FORCED down our throats through the judicial process?  Have they taken over our schools and the education of our children by the use of violence or force?  Has the name of Jesus been stripped from the minds of our children and our government by the use of violence or by force?

You see, violence is what they accuse us of when we choose to push back against the FORCE that they have applied. Like the trained monkeys we all parrot the mantra “don’t get violent.” The LEFT uses FORCE while they accuse us of VIOLENCE.  The two words really aren’t that different.

But even the word “violence” is a sham.  Mr. Webster tells us that to “violate” means  To injure; to hurt; to interrupt; to disturb; To break; to infringe; to transgress;” Don’t you understand how much the average Christian has been violated by the FORCE of the LEFT?  Everything that the LEFT has destroyed in this nation has been done through the use of FORCE…judicial force in particular.  They have perpetrated VIOLENCE on the beliefs of Jesus-fearing Christians for nearly 70 years.

And WE are the ones they accuse of “threats of violence.”  My friends, as difficult as this is for you to swallow, violence comes about as a last result of those who have been FORCED to accept things against their will.  The Left and the courts have FORCED us to violate our conscience while warning us not to get violent.  FORCE by deception IS Violence.

We are at a crossroads in America and if we do not push back WITH FORCE against the Demonic Left, violence awaits us on the horizon.  We must push back NOW with an even greater FORCE to prevent physical VIOLENCE in the streets.

Violence is defined as “unjust force; moral force; vehemence.”  We have lost America through the use of unjust moral vehemence which was FORCED upon us.  We have been violated.  The weapons they have used have been lies and deception.  Those are far more dangerous and destructive than any man-made weapon.

Properly applied moral FORCE will ultimately prevent violence.  Let’s push back NOW before it is too late.

“From the days of John the Baptist until now the Kingdom of God has suffered violence and violent men take it by FORCE.”

Original here


VIDEO Alabama abortion ban means ‘Roe is far from settled law’

‘The time is coming for the Supreme Court’ to act

 

 

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

Lawmakers in Alabama have adopted a law that makes conducting an abortion punishable by up to 99 years in prison.

The governor signed it late Wednesday.

And lawsuits from the American Civil Liberties Union or Planned Parenthood are likely, rulings that inevitably would be appealed.

All of a sudden the fight is before the U.S. Supreme Court and abortion business operators see the possibility of Roe v. Wade vanishing in a 5-4 or even 6-3 vote, with yes votes from the two justices appointed by President Trump.

Supporters of the Alabama bill should thank John Rogers.

He’s the Democratic Alabama state representative who drew national attention when he stated publicly regarding abortion, “You kill them now or you kill them later.’

Rogers then came out, and instead of backtracking, announced that U.S. Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, another Democrat, agrees.

It’s just one incident that will factor into the debate as pro-lifers see a growing opportunity to overturn Roe.

Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, which has fought in court from sea to sea on behalf of life, commended Alabama lawmakers for their work.

“Roe v. Wade has already ended the lives of more than 62 million children. While we cannot undo the horrendous damage that decades of legal precedence under Roe have caused, this bill is a significant step toward making the womb a safe place in Alabama again,” he said.

“From conception to natural death, every single human life deserves to be protected by law,” said Americans United for Life President Catherine Glenn Foster.

“The violence of abortion is never the answer to the violence of rape. Like other states that have passed laws concerning when life begins, Alabama has relied upon scientific and medical facts. It has also created the opportunity to implement new, comprehensive policies to ensure the most life-affirming outcomes for both the mother and the child throughout life. Alabama has renewed the essential conversation about the meaning of justice and morality, one that starts with recognizing what abortion is: The extinguishing of a unique human life.”

And Marjorie Dannensfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, said, “The passage of this pro-life law is a landmark victory for the people of Alabama who, like most Americans, overwhelmingly reject the extreme status quo of abortion on demand imposed nationwide by Roe v. Wade.

“Alabamians have made known their will to protect the unborn, first with last year’s successful ballot initiative to recognize the sanctity and right to life of unborn children, and now through the bold action of the legislature to reject abortion,” she said.

“Across the nation there is growing momentum, informed by science and compassion, and spurred on in reaction to abortion extremism in New York and Virginia, to recognize the humanity of the unborn child in the law. It is clearer than ever that Roe is far from being settled law in the eyes and hearts of the American people, and this is increasingly reflected in state legislatures. The American people want a fresh debate and a new direction, achieved by consensus and built on love for both mothers and babies. The time is coming for the Supreme Court to let that debate go forward.”

It was those comments from Rogers that sparked outrage across the nation.

He was advocating for abortion.

“You bring them into the world unwanted, unloved, then you send them to the electric chair. So you kill them now or you kill them later,” he said.

Even pro-abortion businesses and their leaders, like Staci Fox of Planned Parenthood Southeast, gasped in horror.

“Not only were his remarks reprehensible, they are a complete distraction from the real work still left to be done in this state,” she said.

His comments came just weeks after Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, also a Democrat, sparked a firestorm when he appeared to advocate infanticide.

Talk-radio host Rush Limbaugh explained, “What do you expect to happen when the Democrat Party gives standing ovations to legislation permitting the killing of babies who have been born? What do you expect to happen? What does anybody expect? This country has not gone over to the dark side of liberalism, in toto. We haven’t gotten anywhere close to that.”

He said Americans are not in line with the pro-abortion agenda as much as some leftists want.

“So it was only a matter of time and for everybody that thinks what’s going on in Alabama, ‘Well, this is a little over the top, though, Rush. Come on, now. This reaction, this is a little overboard.’ What do you mean, over the top? Where were you when they were giving a standing ovation in the New York state senate, when they passed legislation permitting the killing of babies that had been born?”

Alabama’s HB 314, the Human Life Protection Act,” classifies abortion as a Class A felony, punishable by up to 99 years in jail. It exempts women who receive abortions.

The bills authors and supporters have explained that they want the plan to trigger a court fight that would end up with the revocation of Roe. That would leave decisions about the limits on abortion to the various states.

Just a day ago, James Dobson, president of Dr. James Dobson’s Family Talk and the James Dobson Family Institute, said he’s praying that the Georgia law which is part of the campaign would play a role in overturning the abortion law

However, Fox News reported Pat Robertson, who long has opposed abortion, said Alabama’s move is too “extreme.”

“I think Alabama has gone too far,” Robertson said Wednesday on his long-running TV program, “The 700 Club.” “It’s an extreme law, and they want to challenge Roe vs. Wade, but my humble view is that this is not the case we want to bring to the Supreme Court because I think this one will lose.”

The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision created a right to abortion, allowing business operations through which Planned Parenthood gets tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year.

The author of the majority opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun, acknowledged that the concept of personhood for the unborn was the key to the decision.

At that time, science was unclear about the personhood of the unborn.

Blackmun wrote, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, [the pro-abortion] case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the [14th] Amendment.”

WND reported Rogers’ statement:

 

Mindy Robinson reacted on Twitter: “My adopted friends would bet to differ. Last I checked they were more than happy to be alive and adopted into loving families … and not cut up into pieces and left in a trash can. Explain to me again why Democrats think they’re so morally superior over the rest of us?”

Mitch Fewell credited Rogers with making him feel good about his decision to leave Alabama and move to California, where state officials are prosecuting two pro-life advocates who exposed Planned Parenthood’s sale of the body parts of unborn babies.

“I left Alabama 11 years ago and relocated to California. I want to thank this j—— for making me finally feel like I made the right move,” he tweeted.

https://www.wnd.com/2019/05/alabama-abortion-ban-means-roe-is-far-from-settled-law/


Open your mouth for the speechless, In the cause of all who are appointed to die. Proverbs 32:8 NKJ


 

VIDEO Book Review: The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur

Over the past several decades, Evangelical Christians have been fiercely debating the true nature of saving faith in Christ. Some believe that a person can place their faith in Christ for salvation and yet persist in a sinful lifestyle, even growing more wicked as the years go by. Some call this “easy-believism.” But others believe that true, saving faith in Christ will necessarily result in a lifestyle of growing love for God and man, so that a true believer will grow in holiness, not sinfulness, having submitted his life to the authority of Jesus. This is often called “lordship salvation.” This debate continues, and no end is in sight.

John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus is perhaps the classic book on this issue. He firmly and clearly sets forth the lordship salvation position. His method for proving this is simple: he goes through the teachings of Jesus Himself, as portrayed in the four gospels, and shows how He expects that His true followers will obey Him.

This issue cannot be ignored. If easy-believism is correct, then lordship salvation wrongly places a heavy burden on the “carnal Christians,” telling them that they are still under the wrath of God. But if lordship salvation is true, then many professing Christians are indeed on the road to Hell, for many professing Christians live with complete disregard for the commands of Christ—and easy-believism helps them on to their eternal torment.

If you are a pastor or teacher, it is especially necessary for you to examine this issue, for you have a special care over the souls of the people under you. MacArthur’s book will greatly help you in your investigation. But really, every professing Christian must look into this question, whether or not our teachers do, since in the end we all—individually—must give an account to God.


May 20, 2016 By Douglas R. Kump

I first read John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus in 1990 shortly after it was published. It is not an over-exaggeration when I say the book completely revolutionized my understanding of the message of the good news as proclaimed by Jesus in the Gospels. John MacArthur is one of the greatest influences on my Christian life and ministry. As a very young man and Christian I learned from John MacArthur what the true Gospel is, and I also learned to love the Word of God. Later, in my teaching and pastoral ministry I followed (and still do) his example of expository preaching through the biblical text. John MacArthur’s The Gospel According to Jesus is definitely a contemporary classic and is just as relevant and important today as it was when it first appeared almost 30 years ago.

John MacArthur is the Bible-teacher on the internationally broadcast radio program Grace to You. He is also the pastor-teacher of Grace Community Church and president of the Master’s College and Seminary all in Southern California. He is a prolific author and has written on many subjects in the fields of biblical studies, theology, practical ministry, as well as The MacArthur Study Bible and his massive New Testament commentary series. In 2008 a revised and expanded anniversary edition of The Gospel According to Jesus was released. It is this edition of the book that I will be reviewing in this post. Upon reading The Gospel According to Jesus again after all of those years it still had a profound impact on me and really helped in so many ways, especially given the present assault of the genuine Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The exclusion of the lordship of Jesus Christ from the contemporary Gospel message was the primary catalyst for MacArthur’s writing The Gospel According to Jesus. The message of Jesus in the Gospels was clear in that He called sinners to “a repentant, submissive surrender to the truth—including the truth of His lordship” (p. 11). Some erroneously charged MacArthur with teaching a works-based salvation because of his insistence that the Bible declared obedience to Christ as Lord. However, this false accusation was easily refuted and MacArthur very carefully and correctly shows what the true Gospel entails over and against the unbiblical view of “carnal Christianity” and “easy-believism.” MacArthur begins by asking the question “What is the Gospel?” He then examines the biblical accounts and presents a powerful portrait of the true Gospel as proclaimed by Jesus in contrast to the weak, popular, and false gospel taught by so many today. His goal is to present a “clear and precise understanding of the eternal gospel” (p. 22) and in my estimation he succeeds exceedingly well.

The Gospel According to Jesus is divided into six parts including three appendixes (Part 6). In part one MacArthur explains what it means to follow Jesus as Lord and as slaves of Christ. He then goes on to show how Jesus’ Gospel has been abandoned and gives a historical overview of exactly how it happened. An outstanding presentation of the biblical doctrine of salvation is also provided in this section. In part two the Gospel is shown to be a call for a “new birth” and this necessary regeneration is the only means by which a person can be saved. MacArthur gives an excellent exposition of John 4 and the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. Genuinely converted people will necessarily worship God according to “spirit and truth” (cf. John 4: 24). Jesus came to “seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10) and MacArthur powerfully demonstrates that God saves his elect so that they may in turn repent, exercise faith, submit, and bear fruit. This is indeed taking upon the “yoke of rest” (see chapter 10). Salvation from beginning to end is entirely a work of the triune God.

In part three, the illustrations used by Jesus in his parables to explain the Gospel are explored. MacArthur really brings out the riches of the parables: “the soils” (chapter 11), the wheat and tares (chapter 12), “the treasures of the kingdom” (chapter 13), “the first and the last” (chapter 14), “the lost and found” (chapter 15), and “the vine and branches” (chapter 16). When I first read this book it was this section that really helped me understand the Gospel in a concrete manner and lead me to truly commit myself to the Lordship of Christ. The parables that Jesus taught are just amazing stories that vividly clarify the content of the Gospel and our response to it. In part four MacArthur writes about the critical essence and requirement of repentance as well as the nature of true faith. MacArthur’s section on justification (chapter 19) is crucial to a proper understanding of the Gospel. And, with all the current controversy over the nature of justification this chapter really needs to read and heeded today. The chapter (22) on the “Cost of Discipleship” is a superb and sobering reminder of what it means to authentically “take up the cross” in following the Lord Jesus Christ. In part five it is Jesus who fulfills the Gospel. There is only one chapter in part five but it is a very powerful section because it deals with the death of Jesus and what his death accomplished on our behalf. And, in the end it is the resurrection of Christ that gives us the great hope of salvation for all of eternity.

Part six offers three appendixes. In Appendix 1 the Gospel that Jesus proclaimed is shown to be the same Gospel the apostles would also preach. This was the subject of MacArthur’s subsequent work entitled The Gospel According to the Apostles in which he expands and offers a more detailed account of the Gospel message of the apostles. Appendix 2 gives a brief but solid overview of the Gospel in church history. Appendix 3 provides MacArthur’s answers to questions raised in response to The Gospel According to Jesus.

This book is a much needed corrective to the prevalent weak and corrupted gospel that is being proclaimed in many churches today. MacArthur provides us with a clear and compelling presentation of the Gospel as proclaimed by Jesus Christ. It is my hope and prayer that this book would be read widely and that the Gospel according to Jesus would be believed, obeyed, and taught, all for the glory of God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Douglas R. Kump

Tutor of Theology and Apologetics at Woodstream Christian Academy
Education: B.A., Biblical Studies Washington Bible College 
M. Div., Liberty University 
Location: Odenton, MD 
Pastorate Pastor/Teacher @ Messiah New Covenant Congregation 
Harris Connection: Former student of Dr. Greg Harris at Washington Bible College.

Book Review: The Gospel According to Jesus by John MacArthur


John MacArthur: The Gospel According to Jesus, Singapore

Aug 27, 2017
John MacArthur came to Singapore in the 90s and shared his new book, “The Gospel According to Jesus.”
I have converted from VHS tape to Mp4 video. The video quality is not good but I hope you can enjoy his sermon.