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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Dangers of Inclusivism & When Does Regeneration Take Place?

After thinking, researching and listening to things regarding two issues, I want to share some conclusions that I've come to.  This is coming from a female writer who does not want to sinfully instruct men.  This is not meant to be authoritative so much as an opinion piece after researching Scripture and other online resources.

Issue One:  When does regeneration take place?  Does it take place right before belief, or can it happen to a baby who doesn't know the Gospel?
Regeneration by definition seems to refer to the new birth of when someone is spiritually transformed from death to life.
There are verses that seem to put this together with the renewing of or being born of the Holy Spirit (Titus 3:5-6; John 3:3-8) and that the preaching of the Word of God is involved as the seed used (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18; Romans 10:17). 
I do not believe that a person could be regenerated years before they actually repent and believe the Gospel except if you are just referring to the future plan of God and His view of what will be as already accomplished.  The idea of years between regeneration rather than immediately before belief would make no sense, since by definition regeneration is a new birth as well as it seems to imply a change of heart .

This leads me to my the other issue that started me off down this path.  I was listening to the Cross Conference and heard Kevin DeYoung mention that there are some Calvinists who believe in inclusivism.  Certainly that is not the majority of us, but I wanted to investigate the subject because of my grave concern after reading in the past someone suggesting that somebody's infant could already be regenerated.  Now, I'm not saying that some people can't hear the Gospel and be saved at a young age, but without a profession of faith there is no reason to think that a baby has had a spiritual birth.  Doubly so when they have not heard the Gospel from anyone.

Many years ago I heard someone who thought that perhaps someone could be saved only responding to what they knew of God (probably thinking of creation) without hearing the Gospel.  Well, that is a dangerous fantasy, and the Bible makes it clear that faith comes by hearing (the Word of Christ - Romans 10:17).  So, while it might make somebody feel good, we have to stick with what we know of Scripture and the truth and not feelings.

Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.  John 14:6 NASB

Fairness would be that we would all face God's just wrath, because we rebel against and suppress the truth that we do know. 
I do believe that every person that God has chosen will be regenerated and repent, so in one sense His salvation work is completed by His divine plan and summoning.  This is accomplished though by the means He decrees which is through the proclamation of the Gospel, His regenerating and sanctifying work, His death and resurrection (satisfying of His just wrath against sin), mercy, grace, and the people that He sends out to be disciple makers in the world.

Inclusivism has also been taught by Catholics, Billy Graham, and many others who stray from Scripture to varying degrees...from unbelievers, heretics, and confused Christians.  It is dangerous!
 


"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."  Acts 4:12 NASB

 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas & Free Bibles & Tracts for Financially Struggling

MERRY CHRISTMAS!



Cross Encounters is offering a FREE BIBLE, GOSPEL of JOHN, & FREE GOSPEL TRACTS for those who cannot afford them (U.S. & Canada).
Please no cheaters!  http://crossencountersmin.com/free-tracts-bibles/

Monday, December 16, 2013

Live-Stream Christmas Concert 12/22/13, The Gospel For Twitter, Should She Preach Book Review by Me & Medical Update

Grace Community Church Live-Streamed Christmas concert update:  It has been announced online that the Sunday evening Christmas concert will be the one streamed online on December 22, 2013.  If you can watch it, it should be a treat.  It begins at 6 PM Pacific time, 8 PM Central U.S. time, 9 PM Eastern time, and 2 AM Monday morning in the U.K.  If you live somewhere else, you can look up time differences online. If you cannot watch it live, you won't have to miss out!  They are going to play the recorded concert on the hour every other hour from December 23-31!!!
On the night of the concert or up until December 31, just visit the following link to watch it!
http://www.gracechurch.org/live/
Grace Community Church's senior pastor is John MacArthur.  Performers may include Jubilant Sykes, Christopher Parkening, Diane Brown, etc.

Cross Encounters New Ministry site:  Tony Miano who is an evangelist that I listen to weekly has a new website resource for evangelism. 
Some of the site's exciting features are:

The Gospel For Twitter

Classic Sermons Shop

Open Air Quick Tips & More!

Should She Preach - Biblical Evangelism for Women - I wrote a review of this book not too long ago.  I wish I had written my review concurrently with my reading time, because my impressions of the first part would have been fresher.  I do recommend the book!  It is both Biblical and practical.  The interviews with the pastors were fascinating to me.  You can read my review here.

Quick Personal Update:  Lord-willing on Thursday I will be having a biopsy surgery during which I will be put to sleep.  I'm hoping I will be able to get it over with, even though I am not feeling well now.  Having dysautonomia makes this extra stressful for me, so I would appreciate Christians praying for me.  Next month I am scheduled to go to Vanderbilt University for tests and evaluation by a neurologist who specializes in dysautonomia.  Please keep my family in your prayers, and I wish you all a wonderful Christmas remembering the Savior who was born to die for the sins of everyone who would ever believe.  God planned every bit of it, and He is still Sovereign today even over my trials.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Christian Killed in Benghazi & 9 Year Old Girl Sings "One Small Child" by David Meece

In Benghazi a Christian teacher from the U.S. was recently murdered (shot while jogging).  Ronnie Smith was an admirer of John Piper (who is known for encouraging people to take risks for the sake of the Gospel).   Ronnie's family was in the U.S. at the time, so I hope that Christians will pray for his wife and kids at this time.

My Dad used to give away Piper's message "Prayer the Work of Missions" and maybe one other, and although that does not have to do with Ronnie Smith in particular that I'm aware of, it is interesting to know that a message by Piper was used in motivating this guy to go.  John Piper in his blog encourages thousands of Christians to take Ronnie's place.

Piper writes in his blog:

"Finally, I call thousands of you to take Ronnie’s place. They will not kill us fast enough. Let the replacements flood the world."

Does that sound crazy to you? 
Now you will want to see the rest of the story from Piper's blog.
Click Here.

I have not shared as many Christmas songs this year, but those who have followed my blog know I enjoy sharing music videos.

"One Small Child" was a Christmas song written by David Meece at the age of 14.  Yes, when you listen you may be thinking about the facts that the wise men didn't show up for a long time after Jesus' birth and that we don't know that they were kings (so I'm not saying the lyrics are perfect).  The lyrics are here.

I think I remember from an interview that David Meece was not yet a believer when he wrote this particular song.  He did become a Christian later though, and many of us have enjoyed much of his music over the years.

The following cover version is not professional and not as good as David Meece himself, but I thought it was cute and natural sounding with a young 9 year old girl named Sage (now 11 years old) singing the song.  Enjoy!

;

Friday, December 6, 2013

Live Christmas Concert, Almost Christmas, Perfectionism, Classic Audio Sermons

Live -Streamed Christmas Concert(s) - Grace Community Church where John MacArthur is pastor holds superb Christmas concerts each year.  Some of you may remember my sharing Jubilant Sykes singing "Mary, Did You Know?" on my blog in the past.  Well, once again they are planning to share one or more live concerts online.  The exact date of the live broadcast has not been shared yet, but you can visit the following link to keep checking. 
Grace Community Church Christmas Concert


"Almost Christmas" - Speaking of Christmas, remember Josh Wilson's Noel Christmas album?
Well, this song is lighthearted and may get you in the mood  for celebrating.
 


Exposing Perfectionism - This post really pegs me in a lot of ways.
It isn't a pleasant picture.  Oh, I don't consider myself a perfectionist in every area of my life, but in far too much.  There is an element of discontent with perfectionism as well, and unfortunately it can spill over into the way I treat others.  It's one thing to try to do your best, but not being satisfied with what is done can make life miserable.   Does anybody else find that this describes you as well?

Classic Sermons -  Tony Miano of Cross Encounters is working on recording some great sermons by dead people.  Jonathan Edwards and Charles Spurgeon are some of the first ones that he's tackling.  Be sure to watch out also for his new website around Christmas!
 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Don't Forget Prayer

You may know that my Dad used to produce Global Minute radio spots to get people to pray for, go & give to missions....especially for the unreached peoples of the world.   The spots were heard on a lot of stations around the country as public service announcements.  The name of the organization was the Mission Vision Network. 

My sister & I also helped out in various ways (computer work, writing, labeling, stuffing envelopes, even to helping be voices on one Christmas Panorama spot), so I still have an interest in missions when I hear about or read things that touch on that.  After all, proclaiming the Gospel is the mission of the church and a great deal of why I believe we are still here on earth. 

So many people (including Christians) are excited these days about movies out in the theater, shopping, music concerts, and about the people immediately around them.  Others are struggling with health issues, depression, difficult relationships, or political issues. 
It is easy to forget that there are many people out there who still do not even have the Gospel in their language. 
Sure, there are people who have access to Bibles who never read them and seek wisdom from the world and false teachers. 
These people certainly need the Gospel as much as those in tribes and other countries, but I was recently encouraged by a video to pray for workers once again for those who have yet to hear.

Although there is little I can do these days physically (as I am not doing well and can't get out much), I can still pray for people even though the noise in my head and my dizziness and headaches make it hard to think to pray sometimes.
I know God hears me....and He can hear all true Christians.
I hope the video will encourage you.
If you are interested in the conference, it is December 27-30, 2013 mostly for students ages 18-25.  Click here to read more.

Please check out the people group of the day beneath the video.


#PrayForWorkers from CROSS on Vimeo.

 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, Hilarious TN Video Ad, Strange Fire Q & A

Happy Thanksgiving week to those who are in the U.S.!

In spite of how I've been feeling, I have much to be thankful for.  I made it through two MRIs this week, we got reservations for a cheaper price on a hotel for tentative appointments next year, and
snow is predicted for the day before Thanksgiving which should be fun to watch.
God has blessed our family with all of our needs and more.
We had friends send home a great Thanksgiving meal recently for those of us who couldn't go to their home, and we will likely have some more special food on the day itself!

One of the funniest ads I've seen here in Tennessee.

One of the reasons it is so funny is because there are people who actually resemble these workers. No, not everybody here is like this!
 
 
John MacArthur answers his critics in a Q & A session with Phil Johnson regarding the Strange Fire conference:

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

When Trials Come - Faith Produces Endurance

This has been a difficult week for us.  There are times when it feels like our house is a convalescent hospital, but where most everyone is a patient!  Thankfully things are improving a little at a time on that score.

Nights are very difficult for me, as my conditions make it difficult for me to sleep.  I don't think you can know what I feel like unless you have been there.  Head shrieking, nausea, burning fire, blood pooling, circulation feeling strange & a fast pulse, pains, dizziness, faintness, etc.  Then I have other symptoms at times that are related to another issue I won't name.  Yes, I do struggle with anxiety and sometimes panic, but thankfully that is not always an issue.  I often need to remind myself to trust God. 

It's so easy for us to play down others conditions without realizing what they are like.  Perhaps that is why it is good when doctors do simulations to at least attempt to understand some of their patients.  That cannot be done for every condition though.

I am so blessed to have family who live with me who are able to help with my care and love me and understand to a degree how I feel.  I have a God who loves me and is patient with me. 
I know He is testing my faith and producing endurance.
What might be a difficult test or trial for you might not seem like a lot to me, and vice versa. 
If I stomp on someone and act uncaring toward suffering, you can remind me of this post.
I want to encourage people and not hurt them.

Yesterday I learned I have yet another medical test coming that I didn't have any idea would happen.
I felt a little sad and stressed, but thankfully I didn't panic.  In fact we started laughing on the way home.  My life and days are in God's hands.

I thought of a line from a song, and while I'm not sure which song it came from I found the following  video that has the words that came to mind. 
I put the link to the words below the video, because I found it a little difficult to fully understand the lyrics with my imperfect hearing.

This song is encouraging, and I hope that it is a blessing to you as well.



When Trials Come Lyrics

Monday, November 11, 2013

Typhoon Haiyan - How We Can Help

Typhoon Haiyan also known as Yolanda hit the Philippines this past weekend with such enormity that it is uncertain of the death toll.  It has been reported that possibly 10,000 or more people could be dead.

Bodies float with nobody to remove them.  The needs are humongous in the worst hit areas.  Even the evacuation buildings did not survive the storms from the hurricane. 

People there are desperate for help.  The U.S. Marines have already started to bring in some aid, but so much more is needed.  The city of Tacloban is devastated.

What can we do for the people who have survived this storm?

As a Christian, the first thing that I think of is praying. God doesn't always prevent storms from affecting people, but I know He is sovereign in and through them.

The second thing that I thought of was giving to help the people of the Philippines.  They need love and care, and I do care.  Not everybody can afford to give a lot, but I'm sure that the lives of these people are more important than buying music or DVDs or other things that entertain us.
It took some time, but I finally came up with a list of some places that I felt were worth considering to give aid through:

Children's Hunger Fund sent out a Tweet saying, "PLEASE HELP the victims of the typhoon in the Philippines. Text 'HOPE' to 80888 to $10 now thru 11/23"
You can also go to the following page on their website: https://chf.giftfold.com/philippines-typhoon-relief

Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA has missionaries in the Philippines and a man who has offered to fly things in.
https://www.gracechurch.org/support/

Sovereign Grace Church in Pasadena, CA is raising money to help clean up and rebuild in the wake of the typhoon.  They are connected up with Sovereign Grace Ministries churches.
http://sovgracepasadena.org/home/2013/10/philippines-update/

The Southern Baptists are also taking donations:  https://gobgr.org/donate/product-detail/disaster-response

While I haven't seen anything yet about how ACTION International might help out, I am sharing a link to the blog of some missionaries that came to a church we went to many years ago (where their son went). http://jeffmaryann.blogspot.com/
UPDATE: Here is ACTION's information about how they are helping out:
http://news.actioninternational.org/philippinesrelief/

While helping physical needs is great, I also pray that the Gospel will go forth along with the assistance and that God will make Himself known and use even this devastation to bring about salvation for His chosen and that He will bring about His purposes in this.  His mercy sometimes comes through His children, and hopefully these sites I gave you will honor the Lord and His Gospel.
 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tough Questions About Strange Fire, Altar Calls, Seduction of Self -Jovan MacKenzy, Christians Called To Evangelize

  • Tim Challies asked John MacArthur some challenging questions from people about the Strange Fire Conference.  If you or someone you know are skeptical about Strange Fire or wondering why non-cessationists did not speak at the conference or are wondering if MacArthur considers all charismatics unbelievers, you will find some good answers on this blog post (which is just a part one): http://www.challies.com/interviews/john-macarthur-answers-his-critics

  • Altar calls - I recently saw a blog post explaining why altar calls at churches can do more harm than good.  I'm not familiar with the book or curriculum this guy shares, but his explanation of why he doesn't do altar calls is worth reading:  http://www.9marks.org/blog/evangelism-without-altar-call

  • Sunday night on Cross Encounters Radio I heard a couple of new Christian rap songs by Jovan MacKenzy.  The two songs really focus on examining ourselves and our sin and unfaithfulness to Christ.  We are prone to worship idols that we may not even realize are idols.  God's love and grace are amazing and unconditional, and these songs are a reminder of the putting to death the deeds of the flesh and living according to the Spirit. (Romans 8:12-14).  You can get the entire album including "Hosea's Love" and "Amazing Grace"  (the two songs which I have listened to a few times already).  "Mountains" with IV Conerly is an encouragement to trust God.  While I'm not a big time rap fan, I can listen now and then to some rap songs that either cross over with music or have lyrics that are worthwhile.  (This does not mean that I will listen to all of the songs over and over ... but if you like rap you may love all of it!)  http://jovanmackenzy.com/seduction-of-self-released/
 Here is a sample:

  • Are all Christians called to Evangelize?  Tony Miano did a video for CARM that is under 6 minutes that points out that we do what we care about!  He also gives some helpful hints:

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Where Are The Heroes?

It seems that some people now equate someone calling someone a hero as meaning they are worshiped.  Of course, as a Christian I believe that worship of anybody but the Lord is wrong.
Nobody is perfect and everyone except Christ has sinned.  There is a big difference between calling someone a hero and idolatry however.  Hero worship is wrong, but someone being considered a hero is not.

A hero is someone admired who has been exceptionally brave or has especially fine qualities.
Hebrews 11 mentions a lot of people who obeyed God in faith.  That is heroic!  Were these men and women sinners like you and I?  For sure!  Still, God used them, and the world was not worthy of them.

I struggle myself often with feeling my faith is weak.  I realize I suffer physically, but how much have I really suffered for the sake of Christ and the Gospel?  Maybe I've been called some things online, but that is not much.  I hope that all true Christians will go out and influence the sphere that God has given us.

You may never be well-known on earth or have your name touted about like the famous people of the world or even be written about in a book, but with God's help and the faith He gives - we can do brave and heroic things by obeying and serving the Lord where we are planted.  I am thankful that we have the whole Gospel which the Old Testament people did not.    How many of us proclaim it though to those who will come behind us?

The following song asks a poignant question regarding the people of faith in Biblical times that I think that it is good to think about for all of those who claim Jesus' name.  "The world was not worthy of them.  Is it worthy of me and you?"  Is it?  Thanks be to God for working on perfecting us in the knowledge and wisdom of Him.  I focus so much on myself, but I want to follow the Lord in greater faith and I hope this song will encourage you to as well.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Strange Fire Videos & Summaries

Strange Fire Recap. -  If you missed the Strange Fire Conference live, you can watch videos of the entire conference including the Sunday message following the main conference.

Click Here to see the sessions. 
Alternately you can go Here to see links of the sessions from the Strange Fire media page.

Tim Challies covered the conference and did several blog posts including a summary of his thoughts at the end of the conference.  You can read highlights, and for those who missed a session and don't want to take the time to hear the whole thing I recommend his pages. 

Click Here for the conclusions that Tim Challies came to after hearing the conference.
Click Here to see some of the highlights of different sessions.

My Personal Thoughts & Notes

I have seen a number of negative responses to the conference, but I believe that it was a reminder to many people to wake up to the deceptions going on out there. 

People are being deceived by false signs and wonders and prophecies and many of them are getting a false gospel.   People are so much into loving people and unity, but unity should not be at the cost of truth and the gospel.  In the Bible there are many times when error is addressed and corrected where people were being led astray. 

For instance, there were people requiring physical circumcision of non-Jews even though circumcision is to be of the heart for believers rather than of the flesh.  People were doing things in Jesus' name without being Christians, and people were warned of wolves coming into the churches and doing things for selfish gain.

I thought I'd borrow from some comments I gave on FB to critics of the conference. 

It is edited and added to for this blog.


It is not just the fringe elements that are involved in the prosperity "gospel" and involved in a drug-like high emotionalism which does indeed lead to manipulation and deception. False prophecies are common in charismatic circles and many of the behaviors discussed at the Strange Fire conference are not rare as some may assume. 

MacArthur gave percentages...many Charismatics are Catholics for instance, and there are lots of phony miracles that go on.   I do not believe that MacArthur feels that all charismatics are unbelievers, but that the unbelievers in the movement are a large percentage and will not listen because of that. 

Can we question that God could be doing miracles?

Nobody denies that God can perform miracles when Christians pray, but most of the "faith healers" out there today do not have proof of actual healings that are physical. 
Miracles are not the norm, and anyone who gives a false prophecy has a strict judgment as I see in the OT.   It is not me who is judging, but the Bible is pretty clear.
The Bible even warns of false prophets in sheep's clothing.  Matthew 7:15

 Many years ago my parents met a lady who supposedly had one leg lengthened by one of these miracle doers, but some time later it turned out that it really hadn't been healed as the lady first believed.  

There are unbelievers everywhere and not just among charismatics, but the charismatic movement is huge and the Bethel Redding phenomena is being transported just like the other waves in the past (even into Norway). 

It goes under the name of Christianity and deceives many. 
People in the Pentecostal and charismatic movements sometimes even make decisions or give money based on false prophecies and manipulations, and people who suffer physically are duped and then demoralized when these fakers do not really heal them.  For Christians, God often uses our suffering to bring us closer to Him and to purify and perfect us into the image of Christ.

 My experience with charismatics?

I've been where people were mumbling under their breath disobeying the orderliness of Scripture and giving me the creeps. I remember a teenager who complained about her hair getting messed up with the knocking down supposed "slain in the Spirit" behavior.  Yes, both of her parents were Pentecostal pastors (which is un-Biblical).  I've heard a supposed word of knowledge that really was nothing new or necessary.  Scripture would have sufficed.
My siblings were almost sucked into the movement many years ago and I have a FB friend who was thankfully rescued out of that. 

The lifestyles and fruit of peoples lives will show where hearts are, and people need the true Gospel. Love was expressed in the conference towards continuationists like Piper, Storms, and Grudem....but the warning is that these mainstream leaders give credence to the un-Biblical practices of others.

“Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ Matthew 7:22-23


In summary, I do not have hate for charismatics.  I do not believe any speaker at this conference spoke out of hate or unreasonable fear.  It is loving to remind people to check out everything with Scripture and to study it in depth.  There is a pattern and there is orderliness, and much of what goes on in the charismatic movement does not live up to Biblical practices or standards.  
If you are in a continuationist church that actually focuses on doctrine and Biblical standards then I believe you will welcome the challenge to your thinking and want to be an encouragement to purge the church where it errors.  This can be done by sharing the Strange Fire book with your pastor or if in leadership people can warn people of going beyond Scriptural practices.  The important thing is to stand up against false teaching and practices and study the Bible carefully.

Yes, I'm a cessationist, but I do believe that those who aren't should be just as concerned and sound the alarm on the movement as a whole and distance themselves from those who practice the things that are false. 

As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;   Ephesians 4:14 NASB

Monday, October 14, 2013

Strange Fire Conference Update, God's Wrath, Prayer, Personal Note

Strange Fire Conference - Do not forget that you can watch the conference about the Charismatic movement live on the internet beginning on Wednesday, October 16th, 2013 at 10 AM PST / 1 PM EST / 6 PM in the U.K. /  7 PM in Central Europe, etc.   
The conference will last until Friday the 18th.  
John MacArthur, Todd Friel, Phil Johnson, Conrad Mbewe, Steve Lawson, Tom Pennington, Nathan Busenitz, and Justin Peters will be speaking as well as R.C. Sproul via video and Joni Eareckson giving her testimony.
Languages available will be: Mandarin, Spanish, Portuguese, English, Russian and German.
Just go to the following link:
http://www.tmstrangefire.org/

Wrath Poured Out Like Fire - Phil Johnson gave a sermon the other week that really had a touch of the Living Waters / Tony Miano feel to it.   If you want an idea of how the Gospel should be preached, then this is a good message to hear: http://www.gracechurch.org/media/8135/wrath_poured_out_like_fire/

Persevere in Prayer - Tim Challies did a blog post not long ago that was a reminder of how prayer meetings are fading away in the churches, and it gives a list of some of the things he learned from a meeting with some pastors.
http://www.challies.com/articles/persevere-in-prayer

Many years ago before my pain levels got higher I went regularly for awhile to a prayer meeting in a church in California.  Often we would start with Bible reading and then praise before we would ever get to requests.  It was one of the most blessed times that I had in that church (along with working with and teaching 4-6 year old kids and the great rabbit trail Biblical teaching of Pastor MacDougall).  Not only does prayer make a person feel much closer to God, but corporate praise and prayer gives a much greater sense of family.
One of the men in that group got leukemia and another dear lady died of cancer.  I won't forget how the lady would care about how I was and would give out love and hugs.  I remember the man who got leukemia had a great sense of humor.  Would that every true Christian church had prayer meetings like that where joy and love abounds.

Personal Note - I have not been feeling well lately, and I have been very stressed with my symptoms as well as struggling with panicky thoughts.  I listened to a sermon this week that reminded me once again to look to what God is going to do through this trial no matter how endless it feels.  I need to learn to trust Him more and praise Him for the character that He is producing.  I am not at all where I would like to be yet, and sometimes I don't feel I am going to make it, but I was reminded that my boast is in Christ and not in myself and my ability to get through this.  It is God's strength and love I must trust in.
I appreciate the prayers of the saints, and I am thankful that God is working all things for good and for His glory.  He is always good and I can only cling to my hope in Him now.
 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Doctrine of Election - When Should It Be Introduced?

It is very interesting that in the past couple of weeks two videos and one sermon stood out to me about the doctrine of election and when and if it should be brought up.

The message I've linked on this blog post that was given by John MacArthur in 2004 is quite eye-opening.  I would recommend it for people who are on the fence or question predestination and the doctrines of grace and whether it is truly Biblical.   It was very shocking and surprising to see the vehemence that some have shown towards it, and yet we cannot ignore Scripture as Christians, can we?
http://www.gty.org/MediaPlayer/sermons/90-273

If you listened to the message linked above, it is actually the first in a series by John MacArthur on the subject.
http://www.gty.org/search/doctrine%20of%20election?title=1
 I hope that people will listen openly and consider all of the Scriptures that point to a truly sovereign God.  Many people have presuppositions based on what someone has told them and use certain Scripture verses without looking at the context or at other Scripture verses and passages that give a complete picture of a God that we cannot always fully comprehend.
We want a God who fits into our idea of "fairness.".  Yet we don't really think deeply enough about what really would be fair. 

The videos below really emphasize how unbelievers and new believers can profit from being introduced to the doctrine of election although they may not fully understand until God gives them a new heart and they dig deep into the Scripture.
 

 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

God Told Me?, UPDATE: Should She Preach?, Amazing Video

A lot of Christians like to say, "God told me..." (adding on whatever it is that they felt they were led to do or say).
 This has really troubled me when I have heard it, and I cringe.  I read a blog post not long ago that addressed this subject and wanted to share it with those interested:
 Why Do We Say, 'God Told Me'? 
(I don't know Nancy Guthrie the authoress, so I'm not endorsing her specifically...although this is from a site that has a lot of good teachers and content.  I do recommend the article though!)

UPDATE:  "Should She Preach: Biblical Evangelism for Women
The Kindle edition is available now, and the hard copies should begin being shipped October 8th, 2013.  I'm excited about getting the book and reading it, although I am often a slowpoke in reading non-fiction.  I listen to the author regularly though, and it even has additional content from Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson, etc.)
Tony has helped to teach Open Air preaching/evangelism in the past, but has since had a change of heart and understanding based on Biblical study regarding how women should be involved and the qualifications for preaching even outside a church building.

Jovan MacKenzy did a rap song entitled "Should She Preach" that is free to download online for those interested.  You can get it here.

Amazing Story of Giving & Mercy
The following video has been shared a lot already (even once by me on Facebook), but if you haven't seen it you are in for a treat.   It has a message of mercy and generosity that is rare (although I'm sure the people doing the ad hope to gain from it). 
Justice is needed in this world, but just as God shows mercy in a general way providing things for people and specifically to those He saves for eternity ... it is good from a Christian perspective to show undeserved love and mercy toward others. 
After all, we have received much grace and mercy from our Lord.  Our motive should not be for what man might do for us in return, because we know that people may return evil for good as we find happening in the Psalms. 
Still, this ad is a reminder to love and show mercy. 
The ending is quite amazing, so I will try not to spoil it further:

 


 

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Ted Cruz Spoke Truth About Obamacare

This week Senator Ted Cruz stood up on the floor of the U.S. Senate and kept control for 21 hours to focus on defunding Obamacare.

The mainstream media would have people believe that it was just a "rant," and they seemed to want to focus more on the Dr. Seuss bedtime story for his kids than the main substance of his speech. (Notice they ignored the paraphrase Proverbs he read to the kids as well.)  The media didn't seem to pay much attention to all of the tweets that Senator Cruz read by real people who shared why they didn't want Obamacare.

Since the mainstream media and career politicians want to sneer and shut down the discussion like the political machine in Mr. Smith goes to Washington, I thought I would try to highlight some of what I learned both from Senator Cruz and share some of my own observations and comments.

Real people are losing their jobs or having their hours cut.   Yes, a lot of businesses and places are cutting back to avoid paying health insurance costs for their workers due to Obamacare.  This affects young people losing out on wages as well as others who will have to fend for themselves trying to pay for healthcare with reduced incomes.  This is likely to put more people on welfare and onto government healthcare rolls.  Do we want more homeless people and a more bankrupt government?  Forcing people to pay for what they can't afford or don't want is more likely to hurt them than help.  You notice that Congress is not being forced to accept this for themselves.

People are actually losing hospital access and doctors.  A rural Virginia hospital is closing it's doors.  Yes, it is already a victim of Obamacare.  In TN, some people on certain government subsidized plans have lost access to some of the area hospitals.  Obamacare has made the reimbursements too low.  Do not imagine that the insurance plans under Obamacare are going to be great plans with lots of access to great doctors.  As a person on Medicaid, I know the limitations of doctor choices, and I even got a letter that some people under my insurance will have to start paying a sum towards previously covered prescriptions next month. I'm not even certain that next year when I was hoping to see a specialist at Vanderbilt that I will still be eligible to be covered for that out of network doctor.  It's up in the air, but I know God is sovereign.

President Obama said that people who liked their doctor or plan would be able to keep them.  This was fiction.  People at Walgreens are being taken off of the coverage they had and having to go to the "exchange" plans which likely will not be as good as what they had.  A major shipping business is taking spouses off the rolls of being covered.  As I previously mentioned, people are losing hours so that their employers will not have to cover their insurance costs.  Some hospital jobs are being lost.

Insurance companies may get around the Hyde amendment which bans federal money from going for abortions by having a "surcharge" to cover them in some states that haven't banned them.  If you can afford private insurance that doesn't have abortion coverage, it would be better.

While I do care about people with preconditions, it is not necessary to mandate everybody pay for something they don't want in order to help those truly in need.
The U.S. Senate and the mainstream media may mock and ridicule Ted Cruz for fighting for a "lost cause," but to stand up against a disastrous mistake and worse was truly a courageous and worthwhile thing to do.  Whether you are Republican or Democrat, this bill is not what you want.  Even the unions don't like it.

My hope is in God, and I know that He is my strength.  I cannot trust in government or health coverage.  Freedoms are eroding in this country, and this is just one tip of the iceberg.  Some things are worth fighting for, but my main desire is that God will use me for His purpose and to further His Kingdom by sharing the truth with you.  Please read the message on the following link:
ARE YOU READY?

 

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pray for the Persecuted Church Around The Globe

Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
Hebrews 13:3 NASB

In China, people from house churches risk being put into jail, and in Central Asia and other Muslim countries Christians and those who convert from Islam to faith in Christ are often at risk of losing their lives.

Recently I shared about a street evangelist named Tony Miano who was arrested in England, and these arrests are spreading. A pastor named Josh Williamson was arrested in Scotland not long after another street preacher was arrested in the U.K. 
  If you are a Christian, you won't want to miss the interview that Tony Miano did with Josh that I am sharing the link to on this post.

Don't think that America is immune to this. Freedoms get eroded a little at a time and when nobody says anything it can go downhill faster. While Christians are warned in the Bible of persecution, people in western countries may think that will never happen here. Well, the U.K. has been seen as a country of freedom, and now we see the example of when authorities there step out of line and exceed their authority when people don't want to hear the Gospel.
 People are hardened in their rebellion against God and the Gospel as evidenced by the reaction that you will hear about on this hour long program. It's worth your time to listen, so I hope you will make time to hear it!
http://www.blogtalkradio.com/cross-encounters/2013/09/23/cer-monday--christian-profiling-in-the-uk/scrub/97

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Unfinished Painting

 
This is an unfinished painting that I have been working on.  It enters my mind in sharing this that I am an unfinished painting in a way.  Oh, I don't mean literally of course, but God is working on my life and is completely sovereign over it.  He doesn't make mistakes or substitutes like I do.  While I may sin in my life and things may seem out of control with my body doing really strange things that frighten me, even what I do or what the result of this fallen corrupted decaying world entails cannot alter His ultimate design and plan for both me and the world.  One day I will finally see the completed picture.
What looks like chaos in this world will end with a joy for all believers that all our suffering cannot be compared with. 

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18 NASB

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 11, 2001 - Twelve Years Ago

Twelve years ago America was attacked on September 11, 2001.
Many of us will not forget how we heard about it and how we felt.
I turned on the radio while still in bed and made guesses about who had done these things after realizing that it was a real event.
People flooded into church and were ready to acknowledge God for awhile.  Patriotism was high.

I was thinking this afternoon about some of the facts that stand out when events like this take place in the world.

  1. Evil exists - Sin exists in the hearts of all mankind.  All the world is guilty before God... although events like terrorist attacks stand out to us as a particular threat to our comfort and safety.  It is a symptom of the callousness that some have toward human life.
  2. We should not trust in our own security or in man to be able to protect us.
  3. How am I living my life in a way that will count for what matters for eternity should I die today?
  4. Saving lives is a noble thing, but the saving of souls is what matters most.  God uses people to bring the Truth.  People who are saved from physical death by heroic people will still stand before God one day - either for judgment or resting on the blood of Jesus who died for sins and rose from the dead conquering death and its power.  If someone lives after a terrorist attack or an accident or some medical emergency, what good will it do in the end if they go on in rebellion to God and face an eternal judgment?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Should She Preach, Feminism, Uncertainty, Steven Curtis Chapman

"Should She Preach?  Biblical Evangelism for Women" (New Book) -- What does the Bible say about women and how they evangelize?  Tony Miano's book "Should She Preach?  Biblical Evangelism for Women" deals with the world of street evangelism and what level women should participate from a Biblical perspective.  I have not yet read it, but I have won a copy and am looking forward to seeing what it says.  There are contributions by Steve Lawson, Phil Johnson and others.  It's available for pre-ordering, so if you want to see more about it click on the book cover at the following site: http://tmiano.com/should-she-preach/ 

Feminism and Exegetical Mayhem -  Interestingly there was a blog post by John MacArthur recently about women's role in the church. 
http://www.gty.org/Blog/B130826

You Can Take Heart in Uncertainty - Jon Bloom recently shared a post that is a reminder to me to take heart during the time of uncertainty I am having with my physical condition.  It is hard when you have something that makes you feel awful and is frightening at times.  God does have a purpose for my good even though in my humanness I struggle with endurance.
http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/you-can-take-heart-in-uncertainty

"The Glorious Unfolding"  -Steven Curtis Chapman has a new album coming out September 30, 2013.    It should be interesting to hear what he has done with this new album, and it reminds me of years past when I listened to his music more.  Here is a sample of one song he did about temptation way back when:

 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Is Contemplative Prayer Biblical?

In the past few years the mention of contemplative (or centering) prayer has come up in the Christian community.  It is of great concern to me and here is why:

Contemplative prayer is about emptying your mind and focusing on one word or thing and expecting God to give direction or make His presence felt.  So far some of you might think that sounds okay.
After all, the Bible says to Be still, and know that I am God, right?  Well, it may also be interpreted "Cease striving" which gives a whole other dimension to that verse.  There is nothing mystical about prayer when I read about it in the Bible.  We know God through His Word.  Apart from that, we are putting ourselves in the path of dangerous mysticism.

Just looking at some Scripture verses, I find that the contemplative prayer idea actually does not line up with what Scripture says about the mind.  Romans 12:2 talks about the renewing of the mind, Philippians 4:8 talks about what people should fill their minds with, also Psalm 1:2 mentions "...And in His law he meditates day and night."  1 Peter 1:13 mentions preparing your mind for action.  Yes, that may not be talking about prayer specifically, but the Bible never says to empty your mind.  I remember it talks about treasuring God's words  (Psalm 119:11).  When it talks about praying, it tells me to pray according to His will and with thanksgiving and to let my requests be made known to God.  The disciples' prayer gives one terrific example of prayer as well!

The thing that is frightening about the "contemplative prayer" or "centering prayer" idea is that I remember reading or hearing about transcendental meditation which is a pagan practice that involves ... guess what?  Emptying the mind and focusing on something.  Yes, this whole concept takes off of false religions rather than focusing on the truth of the Word of God.  Matthew 6:7 even talks about not heaping up empty phrases as the pagans do supposing they will be heard for their many words.

Sure, it's good to focus on something like a Bible verse and look at passages of Scripture.   I don't need to empty my mind (although sometimes I struggle to think clearly at all with my NCS).  I do realized that it is good to put past sin behind us and forget what lies behind, but this does not mean that we should not have our minds filled with the things of God from His Truth (from the Bible).   I need to be reminded of God's promises and cast my anxieties on Christ.  I need to remind myself to be thankful and to delight myself in the Lord and in His Word.

Who are some of the people connected to this contemplative prayer movement?  People like Beth Moore, Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, Gary Thomas, etc.
Here is a website that lists some more:
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=8359

Some links that describe "Centering Prayer" or "Contemplative Prayer" are:

http://carm.org/centering-prayer

http://www.gotquestions.org/contemplative-prayer.html

http://www.gty.org/blog/B121015 (This also has a series of posts on Steps To Successful Prayer that looks interesting http://www.gty.org/blog/B120502 .)

Here is one example of how this kind of contemplative stuff is getting into books and Christian circles:
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/blog/?p=1722
 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Free Song, Worship, Lacking Evangelism, Free Master's Seminary Lectures

  • I noticed that Sovereign Grace Music has the song "Nothing In All The Earth" as a free download.  The song is very encouraging to me as someone who is struggling with physical suffering right now.  Check it out here.


  • Why do many Christians not evangelize?  9Marks blog had some interesting points on this subject.  I really can identify with isolation, although not entirely.  Still, people do not have to be "friends" before giving the Gospel to people.  Five Reasons We Don't Evangelize - by Michael McKinley.

  • For those who would like to audit some seminary classes from The Master's Seminary free online, they have made some of the lectures free online.  There are men out there who may not be able to attend seminary, and this is one helpful tool for those interested in ministry.  You can visit the site here.

I am having a lot of difficulty doing this post, but I hope that it will edify some people and is worth the effort.  I pray that God will use it.
 

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Never Forsaken

I was able to get a free song online in the past that has recently become an encouragement to me. It's "Mighty Fortress" by Aaron Shust. It's not the old hymn that you might be thinking of, but it's lyrics remind me of the Scripture that God will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). No matter what I am going through in these difficult days, I need to be reminded that God will not abandon me, He won't fail me, and He keeps His promises. I hope you will be encouraged as well.


Aaron Shust - Mighty Fortress (Lyric Video) + FREE SONG DOWNLOAD from centricitymusic on GodTube.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Dark Valley, Last Call, Don't Give Up

  • I have been going through a dark valley with my P.O.T.S. / NCS (autonomic nervous system dysfunctions). I've been to the ER 4 times in 3 or 4 weeks' time.   Nausea, fast heart rate, near fainting, trouble breathing, dizziness, ringing head, and panic are some things I'm struggling with.  I cannot even walk around much anymore with the worsening symptoms.  I need a lot of assistance from my family.  A cardiologist is trying to get me to be able to see a specialist at Vanderbilt University. I'd appreciate for Christians to pray that I will be accepted to see a doctor there if that is God's will (in spite of Vanderbilt being a seemingly anti-Christian school). Also, please pray for endurance for me and my family and for us all to focus on Christ and not the trial.  If you are curious about what I have, you can visit the link here.

  • Not long ago I shared a video on Facebook that I first saw shared by Tony Miano. It is really amazing to see how God works. You never know when you are going to die, and this video shows that a message from a street preacher was used by God shortly before a man passed on.  Please - if you haven't seen this - Don't miss it!
 


  • Jon Bloom wrote an encouraging blog post that I wanted to share with my blog viewers.  It's about never giving up!  Life can be war and is very exhausting.  It can be tempting to throw in the towel and quit.  If you need encouragement, please click here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

God's View of Sinners, Divorce & Marriage, False Teachers, Unstoppable Kirk Cameron

God loves sinners and hates sinners.  What does that mean and how does that line up with Scripture?
 



  • What do you look for when you try to spot false teachers?   John MacArthur gives some answers to that in anticipation of the Strange Fire conference coming up in October. http://www.gty.org/blog/B130723

  • Kirk Cameron has another documentary-like movie coming out one night only on September 24th, 2013.  It looks to be worth trying out as it deals with why there is suffering in the world.  The title is Unstoppable.


http://kirkcameron.com/unstoppable/
 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Warnings about Common Core, Charismatics, Paul Washer Interview, Don't Give Up

Beware of the Common Core Curriculum that the Obama administration has put out.
It is very invasive into privacy.  Questions are asked that are not only not anyone's business, but I heard an account that a girl was asked a question that reached into her parents' bedroom.  I won't put the exact question, because it makes me uncomfortable.  Also, questions about discipline problems and religious affiliations are asked.  You can read more clicking here.

I have shared about the Strange Fire conference coming up in October.  I've been places where people were mumbling under their breath and speaking supposed words from God or words of knowledge or something.  I learned at an early age the dangers of the charismatic movement, as it had infiltrated a church that we had been going to as well.  Thankfully, we heard MacArthur which helped keep some of my family from getting too sucked into that.  We ended up going to Grace Community Church for awhile after that.  Still, I ended up places and had friends in high school that were of that persuasion which I admit gave me great discomfort.
Tony Miano of Cross Encounters who was arrested in the U.K. in early July wrote a blog post to share his experience with "spiritual heroin addicts" in this movement.
http://www.crossencounters.us/2013/07/spiritual-heroin-and-blasphemy-of-holy.html

Tim Challies did an interview with Paul Washer recently.  You might want to check it out!
Click here to read part one.
Click here to read part two.

Persevering in Evangelism: reflections on a godly stranger - this was worth sharing again for those of you who did not see it before.  When someone responds in a discouraging way to the Gospel, God can still be at work in that person to draw them.
 

My 911 Call & Ambulance Ride

This past Sunday I called 911 as my pulse had gone up to 130 sitting down.  I was having difficulty breathing and was feeling at times like I might lose consciousness.  I prayed for God to slow my heart down and I think for wisdom what to do.   Because I had been having  trouble breathing before my family left for church, my Mom had been concerned and mentioned about calling the church or 911 if I needed to.

I looked for a phone number for the church the rest of my family goes to and wasn't finding it quickly.  Not knowing whether I might faint alone at home or if my pulse was too dangerously high (I knew I was having tachycardia) I finally called emergency.
I was home and had been waiting for my ride to church.  She showed up shortly before the ambulance.  The 911 operator was willing to and stayed on the line until the ambulance guys came.

Before they got to our house I managed to scoot down some steps to the door to unlock and open for the ambulance people.  The guys helped me to a chair and carried me to the ambulance.  The lady from church was very helpful.  I was concerned about my family's reaction and did not really think very much about if I was going to die (perhaps for a short bit) so much as what I was going to experience and was experiencing.  This was my first ride in an ambulance that I can remember and it was pretty smooth.  Apparently my neighbor who drives an ambulance told them where the street is since they couldn't find it.

I wasn't excited about the needle stuck in my hand or having to lean forward to get stickers placed on me so they could get pictures of my heart.  It took a long time before they decided to go to the local hospital.
The lady from church followed us to the hospital and also got ahold of my Dad by phone when they got home.  They ended up allowing her in  and she stayed until my family came.

 I had some different tests done including for congestive heart failure, and finally they used IV fluids.  They felt that that seemed to help, and I was on a clear liquid diet until the next day.

The people in the ambulance did not seem to know what P.O.T.S. and  N.C.S. were, but it turns out that what I experienced was related to that.  They should read up on it!  I hadn't had that fast of a heartbeat before when taking my blood pressure or when I had a 30 day Holter monitor test before, but others have high numbers like that and even higher I have learned since this experience.  Still, my family believes calling 911 was the right thing to do...and so do I since I was alone at the time.

While at the hospital I heard about a 10 year old girl who had a low heart rate and blood pressure or something.  I heard a kid crying and other noises that disturbed me.  The kid cried out something like "Please help me!" and some more I couldn't either understand or don't remember.  I teared up and was praying for that kid.  After a short while it was quiet. 

If you don't know where you are going when you die, please look at the following link and look at or listen to the message "Hell's Best Kept Secret."