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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:

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:

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.

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?
The Doctrine of Election, Part 1

If you listened to the message linked above, it is actually the first in a series by John MacArthur on the subject.
 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 video below really emphasize how unbelievers 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: