Happy New Year! Welcome to the February 2015 blog!
The Word for today
“Behold, I will bring [Jerusalem] health and cure, and I will cure them, and will reveal unto them the abundance of peace and truth…I will cleanse them from all their iniquity whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities” (Jeremiah 33:6,8 KJV).
If the Lord would do that for the Jerusalem Jews, will He not do it for the Gentiles who will be in attendance at your church next Sunday?
Kudos for Louisiana
Congratulations to Louisiana for having the “five happiest cities in America.” Top five: Lafayette, Houma, Shreveport, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, in that order. [Lots of Apostolics in those cities. Was that a factor?]
It should be noted that 9 out of 10 of the happiest cities are in the South. Most of the unhappiest cites are in the Midwest rust belt. Number one unhappiest: New York City. Anyone surprised?
Excuse us, Abraham and Moses
HarperCollins, one of the world’s largest English-language publishing companies, apologized this week after it was discovered that a new atlas printed for schools in the Middle East omitted the State of Israel.
HarperCollins initially tried to justify the omission by noting that its customers in the Persian Gulf found identifying Israel on the map to be “unacceptable,” and that the Jewish state was therefore erased to suit “local preferences.”
A subsequent outcry from church leaders in the UK accused the publishing house of actually harming the prospects of peace in the Middle East.
“The publication of this atlas will confirm Israel’s belief that there exists a hostility towards their country from parts of the Arab world. It will not help to build up a spirit of trust leading to peaceful co-existence,” Bishop Declan Lang, chairman of the Bishops’ Conference Department of International Affairs, told the British Catholic journal The Tablet.
HarperCollins is not known for conservative values. Perhaps they were anticipating that before the shelf life of the current text is past, Israel will no longer be on the map, thanks to Syria, Iran, and their partners in terror.
A difficulty should not equal a doubt
Are there difficulties in the Bible? Sure, but that should not make us doubt its veracity. There is no future in sticking our heads in the sand when it comes to the parts of the Bible where there are differences in translations or difficulties in the text. We can excoriate those who point to them to discredit the Scriptures, but is that the way to handle the problem or to face it head on and let truth prevail?
According to scholars, there are no more than 40 lines in the Bible about which critics raise questions. According to Dr. Daniel Wallace, a foremost Greek textual scholar, “[O]ur New Testament is over 99% pure. In the entire text of 20,000 lines, only 40 lines are in doubt (about 400 words), and none affects any significant doctrine.”1 Think about it—a book written thousands of years ago that has nearly 6000 Greek manuscripts to back it up, thousands of others in various languages, with innumerable witnesses by the pens of the ancients, and yet only 40 lines that contain mostly insignificant variants—that is incredible! [Footnote: We are not talking about differences in punctuation or spelling, but variation of readings. The variants do not force or even suggest a change in any fundamental doctrine held by Apostolics.]
Of course, we would like to say we have a 66-chapter book Book completed in A.D. 95 and handed word-for-word directly from the apostles to our Christian forebears with no word added or subtracted. But students of biblical history know that is not the case. Early believers had to gather and collate the pieces of Scripture that came from the inspired writers. They had to separate the authentic manuscripts and authors from the false. A lot of pseudipigrapha (pseudo scripture usually with a prominent name attached to it to suggest authenticity) was floating around, sometimes called New Testament apocrypha, that had to culled out and set aside. That was followed by a millennium and a half of hand-made copies by monks and scribes working in the scriptoria of drafty, dank, ill-lighted monasteries. Yet, through it all, we have Bibles with the same message the apostles preached, and the same lessons from the lips of our Lord. That is a miracle of preservation. No classical work of that age can boast of such a record of witnesses.
Geisler and Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible (Chicago: Moody Press, 1986), p 475; quoted by Dr. Daniel Wallace, https://appliedapologetics.wordpress.com/tag/daniel-wallace/
Messages for wives
Ladies, if a man says he will fix it, he will. There is no need to remind him every 6 months about it.
Men have feelings too. For example, we feel hungry.
If there was a way to read a woman’s mind, I am not sure I would want to. I hate shoes, shopping, gossip, and I already know I am annoying.
It’s funny when my wife gives me the “silent treatment.” She thinks it is a punishment.
I once won an argument with a woman…in this dream I had.
– Posthumously anonymous, of course.
How he really feels
In a speech before the UN General Assembly on 9/25/2012, our President enumerated several scenarios to which the future should not belong:
“The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.” – President Barack Hussein Obama in a speech before the UN
Could we add that neither should it belong to hooded and masked gunmen who storm publishers’ offices to kill reporters? Or those who fly planes into skyscrapers? Or those who carbomb police stations? Or murder innocent little Christian children in cold blood because they won’t deny the Jesus of the Bible? Or slay our diplomats with virtual immunity?
“The future must not belong to those corrupt few who steal a country’s resources” – President Obama in the same speech. This was apparently a not-so-veiled reference to colonialism where more civilized nations exchanged their technological and societal advancements for better access to the natural resources of particular nations. This is what infuriated Obama’s Kenyan father, and by extension Obama himself, as he explains in his writings. Colonialist nations must pay dearly for their abuses seems to underlie much of his agenda. OK…but civilized thought and the efforts to bring all peoples into the modern age cannot be taken back. No one excuses any abuse of resources that might have occurred, but does anyone from those nations want to return to the lifestyles of the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries? And if every nation had to ceaselessly pay and be economically decimated for some unfairness that may have occurred in the past, perhaps every nation under the sun would be toiling under tyranny forever. Some things can never be fixed or changed. History is irreversible. Let’s go forward.
“Arab and Pakistani Americans…I will stand with them should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.” – Barack Hussein Obama in The Audacity of Hope
How about standing with Christians, or just ordinary Americans of any race or creed since the “political winds” have taken an ugly direction against them?
The Church Is Called To Be Churchy, So Deal With It
By Samuel Kee
I’m sitting in a donut shop. I’ve been here many times and nobody has ever complained about this place, saying, “This donut shop is too donutty.” It’s a donut shop; so you expect it to be donutty.
Yet, I hear all the time, “That church was too churchy.”
But what else should it be? Why the double-standard?
Why do we condemn the church for being about Jesus, your soul, God, spirituality, conviction of sin, heaven, hell, salvation, righteousness, and judgment?
We surely don’t complain that a donut shop offers Boston Crème, cinnamon buns, apple fritters, cream sticks, jelly filled, glazed, and blueberry cake.
Because some churches are listening to this sort of cultural critique, it’s gotten ridiculous. Since some churches actually believe that they should not be churchy, they try to hide their spiritual donuts, if you know what I mean. Participants can attend, be fairly comfortable and entertained, without being confronted with too many spiritual matters. Then, right at the end, a little “Jesus” is slipped in.
But that’s like going to a hospital, only to have the doctors and nurses pal around with you, never addressing your physical condition; but right at the end, when you’re about to go to your car, some nurse’s aid slips a little medicine in your pocket—with an apology!
All this time you needed surgery and an IV, but they were afraid of offending you. They were afraid to tell you how sick you were. They didn’t want to appear intolerant because they were the only ones in town with the cure.
The church does nobody any favors when it refuses to be churchy. The church needs to be churchy and it must stop apologizing for doing so.
I will never convince you of the goodness of something so long as I hide it from you. If I want you to grasp the beauty of Bach’s cello suite No. 1, then I must play it for you.
“But what if non-Christians don’t like us?” If someone doesn’t like us, then that’s no reason to change who you are. Now, if you’re a jerk, then, by all means, stop being a jerk. But, don’t stop being the church. Those who don’t like us must not dictate who we are. That’s like allowing a blind man to lead a seeing man through the gauntlet.
If the church really can see, then she must lead the way. She is to dictate the culture, not the reverse. She is to tell media what’s cool, not the opposite. The church is to set the trends, refusing to be a flea on the back of a dog, that merely sucks life from another organism.
Have you endured the cruelty of this world? Have you seen evil face to face? Are you aware of how dark life can get? Have you held a man in his brokenness? Wiped the flood of tears from a tormented woman? Looked into the hopeless eyes of a child? Stop messing around and get to Jesus as fast as possible. Jesus is our only hope. Jesus is the cure, the feast, the joy, the solution, the meaning, the purpose, the hope, the life, and the way.
To display Jesus is to be the church.
So stand firm. Be churchy. Be Jesusy. Be the light of the world.
Gordon’s golden words
Dr. A. J. Gordon (1836-1895) in Great Pulpit Masters, Volume VIII
“Saved by grace and justified by faith, we seem to imagine that this is all. Secular lives, worldly fellowships, conformity to the fashion and show of an evil generation—all this is too easily allowed if only in the end our souls may be saved.” p. 69
“Much of the religion of our day is an adulteration–a mixture of earth and heaven in the same compound. Those who want to popularize Christianity go in for this mixture. They think a religion of mingled secularity and spirituality will be more palatable and will win more disciples. But it is not so. Christ gets the soldiers who are really valuable to Him by proclaiming, ‘If any man will be my disciple, let him take up his cross and follow me.’ Real strength for the church has always come, and always must come, through unworldly conditions and claims. By repentance, faith, and self-denial Christ separates men from the world in order to join them to Himself.” pp. 95-6
“It may seem like a very stupid and stubborn thing not to think with the great thinkers, but we prefer to believe with the great believers.” p. 98
“Our age is going wild over methods. If some Samson has done wonders with the ass’s jaw-bone, straightway everybody adopts the jaw-bone. If some church has succeeded by art and entertainment in getting the crowd, immediately all the churches fall into line. But the Gospel does not depend on any particular mode or fashion. If you have the Spirit He will make his own methods.” p. 175
There is such authority in a godly example–it is so dogmatic in its assertion of the truth of the Gospel, and so persuasive withal! An example does not admit of many interpretations, like a creed; it cannot be evaded like a sermon; it cannot be gainsaid like an argument.” p. 22
“But what will our knowledge avail without warmth and sympathy? And this we shall certainly have if we possess the unction of the Holy One. May God forgive us that we have been so cold and formal in uttering God’s truth, when all our souls should have been on fire with it. People will not believe us unless we feel what we say.” p. 242
We are indebted to Doug Kutilek for sharing these quotes with us.
More words that make sense
“Fathom the hypocrisy of a government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured…but not everyone must prove they are a citizen. And now, any of those who refuse, or are unable, to prove they are citizens will receive free insurance paid for by those who are forced to buy insurance because they are citizens.” – Ben Stein
“They’ve dumbed down the populous to the point that people think 50,000 simultaneous users on a website that costs over $600 million is a great achievement.” – Mark Levin
“To learn who rules over you, simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” – Voltaire
“A government which lays taxes on the people not required by urgent public necessity and sound public policy is not a protector of liberty, but an instrument of tyranny. It condemns the citizen to servitude.” – President Calvin Coolidge
Back to earth
A spate of books detailing someone’s—usually a boy’s—trip to heaven after a near death experience has appeared during the last ten years. Lifeway Christian Bookstores (a Baptist-owned business) have sold them like hotcakes, even after learning of the recantations. Those whose faith is based on something other than God’s Word read them as though they were accurate and truthful.
Along with 90 Minutes in Heaven and Heaven Is For Real, Alex Malarkey’s book The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven was marketed and sold through Lifeway. Alex was the victim of a horrific auto accident at age six. After a two-month coma, he awoke to tell the story of going to heaven, meeting with angels and talking to Jesus. Descriptions of even the devil, sans ears or flesh, was in the book—“moldy teeth…and bony legs.” [I think I saw him at Wal-Mart last week.] And the music they play up there was “terrible.” Even Baptist officials have moved to curb the publishing of such tales. Messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention in 2014 passed a resolution against such books, but SBC-owned Lifeway bookstores continue to proudly display heavenly tourism on its shelves.
Alex, now 16, is wanting to set the record straight. Since April of 2014 he and his mother have been trying to get booksellers to discontinue his book. In an open letter to “Lifeway and other sellers, buyers, and marketers of Heavenly Tourism.” He says: “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven.
“I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible. …
“I want the whole world to know that the Bible is sufficient. Those who market these materials must be called to repent and hold the Bible as enough.”
Yes, Alex, the Bible IS sufficient for our knowledge of truth, especially about the future. Thanks for reminding us.
Epilogue: As of January 15, Lifeway still had not pulled the book. They may have by the time this blog is posted.
Note: We do not judge the Bible’s accuracy and truth by human experiences; we judge human experiences by the Bible.
A TEXAS GOODBYE
A slightly condensed, anonymous report of the funeral services of American veteran Chris Kyle, provided to a retired Navy Commander who personally sent it to me.
Chris Kyle was the armed services number #1 sniper of all time. Not something he was happy about, other than the fact that in so doing, he saved a lot of American lives. Three years ago, his wife Taya asked him to leave the SEAL teams as he had a huge bounty on his head by Al Qaeda. He did and wrote the book The American Sniper. 100% of the proceeds from the book went to two of the SEAL families who had lost their sons in Iraq.
That was the kind of guy Chris was. He formed a company in Dallas to train police and military personnel in protecting themselves in difficult situations. He also formed a foundation to work with veterans suffering from PTSD. Chris was a giver not a taker. He, along with a friend and neighbor, Chad Littlefield, were murdered trying to help a young man that had served six months in Iraq and claimed to have PTSD.
Now I need to tell you about how Texans responded. [To continue reading this inspirational and touching report, CLICK HERE.]
They are coming, Mr. President, for you
On January 27, ISIS fighters beheaded a Kurdish captive in an online video. During his diatribe against the U.S. and our allies, the man with the knife said, “Know, oh Obama, that will reach America…Know also that we will cut off your head in the White House, and transform America into a Muslim Province.” Does that leave any doubt about the designs of the Muslim extremists. So, Mr. President, ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.
Someone has suggested that perhaps all Muslims are extremists, but only those in control express it with actions and boast of it. “Moderates” are those Muslims that haven’t reached a level of strength to be in control yet. Could that be true? We appreciate all Muslims who do not subscribe to terror. We appeal to them to come against those who call themselves Muslim yet commit attrocities in the name of Allah.
See what your kids’ textbooks are saying about Islam:
It also works for Jews
“I just gave the Into His Marvelous Light Bible study to a Jewish man whose wife had already received the Holy Ghost. He ‘saw’ [the truth] and was baptized in the name of Jesus and received the Holy Ghost. Afterward, he said, ‘That is the best Bible study I have ever seen. Everybody in the world needs to see this!’” – VA
Outside of the Bible itself, there is nothing else like it. It is probably the greatest soulwinning tool in the arsenal of the church today. Does your church have them in stock so your folks can give the hungry of the world the Word of the Lord?
How is your stock of Bible studies? Replenish today! Call 936-537-0250.
by J. R. Ensey
This is actually two booklets in one (flip book), presenting a Christian perspective of I Corinthians 11 and Deuteronomy 22:5. Perhaps no passages of biblical literature have been so attacked by modern change agents as these two. There must be a reason why! Inexpensive enough to give a copy to every woman in your congregation.
AM Price $4.95
by J. R. Ensey
No one in your church should get married before asking themselves these twenty-five very important questions. This book has helped countless couples circumvent potential trouble areas in their courtship and marriage. A wedding planner and other extras are included in the book.
AM Price $4.95
Perils of Pluralism
by J. R. Ensey
The pluralistic trends changing the landscape of Christianity can also involve us. This book explores the parallels of pluralism in the world and in the church. The Oneness Pentecostal movement is being pressured toward ecumenism. Here are the positions that will help us overcome the temptation to surrender to that spirit.
AM Price $3.95
by Kelsey Griffin
This book provides a biblical approach to the questions of backsliding, losing the Holy Spirit, and the unpardonable sin.
AM Price $3.25
Have you checked out our books at advanceministries.org/store?
You might find what you have been looking for!
The more things change…