December, ’09 Blog

Welcome to the December, ’09 Blog!

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First, the Word

“He said to them, ‘Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. They are not just idle words for you—they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess’” (Deuteronomy 32:46,47 NIV).

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Our ROCK

Deuteronomy 32:30-32 – “How could one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, unless their Rock had sold them, and the Lord had given them up? For their rock is not like our Rock, even our enemies concede. Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom; their grapes are filled with poison, and their clusters with bitterness.”

How wonderful to be an evolutionist, to believe that a couple of rocks can bump into each other in space and end up creating a planet with an atmosphere conducive for human life. And those rocks usually do an awesome job creating those humans who have bodies that work perfectly with that ecosystem and heal themselves, reproduce, grow, etc. And rocks are known for their creation of sophisticated brains that think, remember, solve, invent, etc. And rocks never forget to include souls with emotions like laughter, happiness, sadness, joy and love. Thank Rock for ALL of that!

–  (Comments, lightly dipped in sarcasm, adapted from Glenn Beck’s web site.)

Perhaps they are happy with their rock, but I think I will stick with the eternal Rock—“our Rock” as Moses called Him. And shouldn’t we prefer the “true Vine” (John 15:1,5) over the bitter and poisonous “vine of Sodom”?

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We knew that

Bart Ehrman is one of the most published textual critics of the Bible today, albeit a liberal one. I don’t recommend his books, but sometimes he does say some things that are worth passing along. Here are some quotes from his most recent book:

“From the writings of such church fathers of the second and third centuries as Hippolytus and Tertullian, we know that at one time the most popular view among Christian thinkers and church leaders was one that self-consciously and aggressively asserted the oneness of God. This view held that there was only one God and that Jesus is the incarnation of God here on earth. In other words, God the Father and God the Son are not two separate entities. God the Son is God the Father when the latter becomes incarnate [p.256]…In response to the modalists of his day, Tertullian had begun to speak of a trinity [p. 258]…The Trinity is a later Christian invention” [p. 260].
–    Bart Erhman, Jesus, Interrupted, p. 256

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Interpreting the Bible

“So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8).
People love to set aside certain scriptures that negatively affect their preferred lifestyle by saying that “people, even scholars, interpret the Scriptures differently. Some say it means one thing and others say it means something else.” That view seems to give them license to discard the commandments of Scripture and apply liberal interpretation of their own choosing. In other words, if a “scholar” or perceived authority takes issue with an interpretation, then it is automatically open to anyone’s application. Bottom line: everyone must agree on a specific interpretation or the verse may justifiably be ignored. How utterly stupid.

Should we interpret the meaning of scriptures in the Sacred Text according to the prevailing public consensus, or determine as closely as possible what God and the original writers were telling us? Liberal theologians like Bart Erhman seem to love the approach that if there is not unanimity on a verse then it is open to anyone’s guess. Many say, “Well, if the scholars can’t even agree on it, I am not even going to try to understand it.”

Some are interpreting the Bible like political liberals interpret the constitution: “What does it mean to ME—today, now, in my current circumstances?” They think the Constitution is a “living document” to be changed as cultural moods and circumstances change. Al Gore and Barack Obama have stated that position clearly.

Postmodern liberal Christianity seems to be in lockstep with the Obama administration.

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Assemblies of God Seminary: Committed to Spiritual Formation, Contemplative Spirituality and Emergent Ideology

This could never happen in our seminary, could it?

Earl Creps, director of the Doctor of Ministry program and associate professor at AOGTS, the Assemblies of God Theological Seminary, is a heavy proponent of both contemplative spirituality and Emergent theories. In his course syllabi over the last five years, Creps has classes with titles such as “Leading the Emerging Church” and “Models of Ministry in the Emerging Church.” Syllabus reading materials include those from Henri Nouwen, Brian McLaren, Ken Blanchard, Dan Kimball, Erwin McManus, Sally Morgenthaler, Leonard Sweet. A visit to Creps’ “Spiritual Adventures” blog gives a hearty helping of Emergent discussion. In one blog, Creps tries to show how there might be a union between Pentecostalism and the emerging church, saying the relationship is “gaining some traction.”

It is interesting that New Spirituality/Emergent darling, Leonard Sweet, has written an endorsement for Creps new book, Off-Road Disciplines. With Creps influence at AOGTS and his admiration for Leonard Sweet, it looks like Sweet will play a role in the future of many Assemblies of God students.

While Creps ends that discussion with “I am painfully orthodox doctrinally,” resources he offers throughout his blogs and websites would paint another picture. Under Apologetics Resources, Creps recommends Leonard Sweet’s book, Quantum Spirituality. Listen to Sweet, as he describes the New Light in his book: “I have followed those ‘New Light leaders’… [S]ome of those who led [me] into new light are: Matthew Fox, Richard Mouw, Rowan Williams.” Others that Leonard Sweet thanks include: Morton Kelsey, M. Scott Peck, Walter Bruggemann, Ken Wilber, Thomas Berry and many other New Age sympathizers. And then adds: “The first of these five untheorized observations is that New Light embodiment means to be ‘in connection” and ‘in-formation’ with other Christians. Deeper feeling and higher relating go together. The church is fundamentally one being, one person, a communion whose cells are connected to one another within the information network called the Christ consciousness.” —Quantum Spirituality, p. 122

He goes on with more New Age rhetoric: “Energy-fire experiences take us into ourselves only that we might reach outside of ourselves. Metanoia is a de-centering experience of connectedness and community. It is not an exercise in reciting what Jesus has done for me lately. Energy-fire ecstasy, more a buzz than a binge, takes us out of ourselves, literally. That is the meaning of the word ‘ecstatic.’” (Quantum Spirituality, p. 93) This ecstasy Sweet speaks of refers to the New Age ecstasy that occurs in an altered state of consciousness.

Assemblies of God Theological Seminary has shown its support for Dr. Earl Creps by making available his 1700 Resources on the Emerging Church. Endorsements on the AGTS website for these resources include this by Marcia Ford: “Assemblies of God professor Earl Creps, a man for whom many in the emerging church movement give thanks daily.” Leonard Sweet adds: “I have instructed my web people to link to your marvelous resource. There is truly nothing out there like it. I can’t thank you enough.”

Creps recommends these authors:
Dallas Willard
Leonard Sweet
Richard Foster
Eugene Peterson

Creps adds: “Being on the road and the internet a lot has connected me with…friends like Len Sweet, and numerous Districts of the Assemblies of God, along with other parachurch organizations like Youth Specialties….”

Creps’ required reading to students:

Smith, Chuck, Jr. The End of the World As We Know It: Clear Direction for Bold and Innovative Ministry in a Postmodern World. Waterbrook, 2001.

McLaren, Brian. A New Kind of Christian: A Tale of Two Friends on a Spiritual Journey. John Wiley & Sons, 2001.

Sweet, Leonard. Postmodern Pilgrims: First Century Passion for the 21st Century Church. Broadman & Holman, 2000.

Enrichment Journal, an Assemblies of God publication, has published an article by Richard L. Dresselhaus (Visiting Professor of Preaching, Assemblies of God Theological Seminary) titled: “Three Miles From The Coffee: A Study In Intimacy With God.” Dresselhaus uses Henri Nouwen and Richard Foster as examples of those who know how to help us find “intimacy with God.” Of Nouwen, he says, “Few have developed a theology and practice of solitude more insightfully than Henri Nouwen.”

However, Nouwen’s “insight” led him to make the following comment: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.” —From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen’s last book, page 51, 1998; HC Edition.

Related documentation on AOGTS and Contemplative Spirituality by Googling:

• Assemblies of God Theological School Recommending Henri Nouwen’s Mystical In The Name of Jesus Book
• Assemblies of God Theological School President Promotes Henri Nouwen
• Assemblies of God Theological School and Purpose Driven Life
• For more research on Contemplative Spirituality and its current impact on U. S. Christianity, click below:
http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/contemplativespirituality.htm

It was reported recently that Brian McLaren and other emergent church leaders were celebrating Ramadan with Muslims. WorldnetDaily has an article on this new trend and notes that McLaren was not fasting for the salvation of his Muslim neighbors, but rather to join them in an act of community and solidarity. (Slice of Laodicea) The truth is, when you start down the path of embracing false doctrine and practice it is difficult to ever turn around.

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Clean your ears out with this testimony from a soteric counselor

At the time of this event, John (a real person but not his real name, for obvious reasons) was 23 years of age, the father of three, although the third was still days away from his birth.

As you well know, children of those in ministry are a favorite target of the enemy. A young woman, who was attending our church at the time decided that because she was angry with the parents of this young man, she would get back at them by seducing two of their three sons who were already married. The ones she wanted were married.

This young woman was so brazen that she called the Mother of these young men to “confess” her sins to her. She was in reality getting joy out of seeing this godly mother destroyed. Then, the woman emailed several young people in the church telling them what these guys had done. Neither of the men was aware that his brother was involved with the same person. When the older one found out about his brother, he was devastated and saw himself for the first time. The younger one, John, had no clue about his brother.

The Mother of these young men confronted her children and the whole sordid story came out. These young men did not deny what happened and were not only quick to repent, but both wanted to get up and confess to the church, before God, repenting to Him and asking their wives to forgive them as well as the church. Which we did. We had a special service for this purpose. The boys did repent and the Lord sent us tongues and interpretation to let us know that He had forgiven them.  We then had communion and a time of fellowship, each of us giving these two young men hugs. At first, his wife did not want him to come to the birth of their third child, but after the church service she did allow it.

The older of the two brothers kept his feelings inside, dealing with it as best he could. Though he did tell his Mom that every time he looked in a mirror it made him sick because he saw the word cheater across his face. The younger one did not handle it so well. One day, he called my office, looking for his Mom, who happened to be in my office.  As they talked on the phone, the Lord told me that John had a gun and was going to commit suicide. I asked for the phone and began to talk to him. I asked where he was and if he had a gun. He said he was in his truck, parked in the woods and that he had “borrowed” his brother-in-law’s .357 magnum and had put it to his head several times because he didn’t want to live any longer.

I talked with John for quite some time while his Mother was sending up frantic prayers. Finally, he promised he would not kill himself and that he would come and see me.

A day or so later John did come to see me and just lay his head on my shoulder and cried and cried for a long time. Before this time we were close, but after that we have been as close as Mother and Son. In fact, he calls me Mom.

Both of the wives came to me for counsel for quite some time. I had the opportunity to open Scripture to them about forgiveness. Both had vowed to divorce their husbands, but today both marriages are still intact because of the Word of God and His Spirit. Two more children have been added to John’s family and one more to the older brother’s family. It took several years for the wives to be able to fully trust their husbands again, but God is good and He has made these two families strong and full of faith and still living for and working for the Lord.

The night I received my certification from the Institute of Soteric Counseling (ISC), John was receiving his ministerial license just a few miles from where we were meeting. He is our Youth Minister and is doing a wonderful work for the Lord. He loves people, loves his family more than ever, and gives all that he can to the work of God. His brother works in music ministry although he was called to preach several years ago.

The day the Mother found out about this she talked to me. She had no one else she could turn to because her husband was too distraught and full of grief to help her. Many times in the early morning hours I would receive a telephone call from the Mom or she would show up and want to go on a drive, just to get away from everyone and be able to get her grief and sorrow out. I am thankful that for some reason God has given me a special love for and a ministry to minister’s wives, women ministers and minister’s children. Who will care if I don’t?

All of this is to God’s glory. He did the work. He put the marriages back together. He made these young men who had lost everything able to continue their marriage and later father more children. The whole family is serving the Lord.

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Reaping the whirlwind

“I told you so” are nobody’s favorite words to hear. So I won’t say them.
However, no one can say that they were not warned about the epidemic of prescription drug usage in America. Books, newspaper and magazine articles, conference lectures and Internet information have increasingly validated the grave danger at which we put our people when we encourage their use. Uninformed persons think nothing of recommending that certain discouraged, distraught or disturbed individuals “get medication,” thinking that some pills might solve their problems. Some think they are “effective” because they tend to change one’s moods. They may not realize the risk the individual is taking by going the psych medication route.

Many justify their recommendation by the idea that “if we treat a problem below the neck with meds, what is different about using them above the neck.” How shallow and uninformed. One’s brain through which the mind operates the body is not in his elbow or abdomen or heel.

“But the doctor prescribed them,” others say. Absolutely. The drug companies pour money into the coffers of doctors who prescribe their products. But remember this: thousands of people are taking drugs today that they themselves recommended to their doctor—“Ask your doctor if [name of medication] is right for you,” is the suggestion on virtually every drug advertisement in both the print and electronic media.

“But Joe Blow said his wife was helped by Prozac,” or “Little Junior seems to be less active now that he is on Ritalin,” some declare. If one pays more attention to anecdotal testimonies than objective truth that is evident all around him, he is apt to purchase some oceanfront property in the badlands of South Dakota.

Many choose to disregard the lack of spiritual response from those who grow up taking prescription drugs, their increased tendency to use illegal drugs as adults, and their overall inability to cope with life’s normal problems. The more naïve among us choose to ignore the number of suicides and other forms of strange and abnormal behavior exhibited by prescription drug addicts. They also choose to listen more carefully to those Christian practitioners who they think are “educated in that field” than be impacted by the glaring facts in the lives of their friends, family or church members.

One man who spoke in a service I attended not long ago had taken the psych path in his ministry. He plainly declared that after twenty years his counseling had “not helped anyone.” Amazing.

Shouldn’t our goal as Christian counselors be to help those who are experiencing confusing and troubling circumstances to become aligned with the Word and God’s will? Since God “hath given us all things that pertain unto life and godliness” (II Peter 1:3), we have the necessary tools with which to guide the straying and problem-stricken back to the path of righteousness. Too many parents have substituted drugs for biblical parenting. Too many Christians have abandoned the ministry and the biblical care of souls and turned to psychological counseling. It is just so easy and simple to say, “Here, take this capsule and you will feel better about things.”

Where is the fruit of that labor? Point me to one believer who has been renewed, or brought out of a fallen lifestyle, and returned to be a faithful saint of God because they visited a psychiatrist or doctor who prescribed psychotic meds. We all have known numbers who have taken that path only to never return to God, to church or to pastoral authority.

If we sow to the wind, we will continue to reap the whirlwind. Is anyone listening?

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If you like theology…

you will love Apostolic Theological Forum!

Make plans to join us next month on January 14-15 for the 9th annual meeting of the Apostolic Theological Forum. The purpose of the Forum is to develop written apologetics in support of our traditional, conservative Pentecostal positions on doctrine, holiness and other pertinent issues. The format is symposium style with papers prepared and delivered by some of the outstanding thinkers of our movement.

We will be meeting this year in the beautiful sanctuary of the First United Pentecostal Church of Euless, TX where Brothers McLaughlin and Benson are the pastors. The address is 709 Midway Dr. West. They will set up tables and chairs classroom style. It will be a perfect setting for the Forum. Registration will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday evening, January 14, and the presentations will begin at 7:00 p.m. The registration is only $29, which includes the complete syllabus containing all of the papers that will be presented, plus a free book. The Forum is open to all who are interested in Apostolic doctrine and practice, whether minister or laymember. A time of discussion will follow each presentation.

The theme of the Forum this year is “Apostolics and the Culture”—a timely subject indeed.  Presenters include Carl McLaughlin, Peter Connell of Oakley, CA, Roger Perkins of McComb, MS, Steve Pixler of Ft. Worth, William Chalfant of Easton, KS, George Medina of Pasadena, TX, and yours truly.

Two brand new hotels are nearby—the LaQuinta Inn and Suites (1-817-836-4000) and Comfort Suites (1-817-836-4040). Both have a great rate of only $69. Just mention the church when you make your reservation. For local information or directions, call Sister Leah at the church (817-267-0254) or her cell (817-919-6843).

Plan to join us, and encourage the ministers in your assembly to participate this year—and any laymen who love the Word. Also, call a couple of pastor friends and urge them to attend with you. “The word of the Lord is right, and all his ways are done in truth” (Psalm 33:4).

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The Day the Dollar Dies

A number of years ago I read a little booklet called The Day the Dollar Dies. By now I don’t remember the author’s main points, but I never forgot the title. We may be at that time in history when the American economy goes south, when the dollar loses its value and becomes virtually worthless.

According to Damon Vickers, chief investment officer of Nine Points Capital Partners: “If the global currency crisis unfolds, then inevitably you get an alignment of a global world government. A new global currency and a new world order, so we may be moving towards that.” (I heard him say that on CNBC.)

Should the Obamacare package pass the U.S. Senate, and the Cap and Trade Act become law, we may see the collapse of the economy only to be shored up by international funds. Then, into whose arms do we fall?

What can we do?

2010 is an election year for many in the Senate and all of the House of Representatives. It would be nice if congress got the message. The voting taxpayers should send to Congress only those who are committed to a return to constitutional government. It is time to be pro-active. The constitution will be defended only if the people defend it by acting on its provisions. We cannot depend on the government to defend it.

How? Watch this space. The time will come.

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Ft. Hood shooter briefed on Homeland Security

It probably surprised no one to learn from an AP story in the Houston Chronicle on Nov. 6 that Nidal Hasan was a registrant at a Washington, D.C. Task Force Event concerning national and international security conducted earlier this year. He sat alongside Homeland Security agents, foreign representatives, congressmen and State Department officials as the following topic was discussed: Thinking Anew—Security Priorities for the Next Administration. He, along with the others, received a briefing from officials from Homeland Security, National Intelligence, counselors for U.S. Congressional Committees, the Center for Biosecurity, and counterterrorism agencies. Hasan was allowed to speak during the meeting but no one has come forward yet who could remember what he had said.

I also noticed on the list that Waleed Alshahari from the Yemen Embassy was present with Hasan. Yemen is where Hasan’s Al Quida contact is currently living. Coincidental, no doubt.

http://www.gwumc.edu/hspi/old/PTTF_ProceedingsReport_05.19.09.pdf

If that didn’t make you hurl, read on…

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Obama appoints Muslims to Homeland Security

Alikhan was recently appointed to the Obama Administration as the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. In this position, he oversees the coordination and development of DHS policy issues ranging from counter-terrorism efforts and disaster preparedness, to cyber and cargo security. Is a “devout Sunni” Muslim (a Pakistani). His appointment was applauded by the Council on American Islamic Relations and the American Muslim Task Force. (I wonder if we have a Pakistani Christian Relations Council in Pakistan?) Alikhan, as Deputy Mayor in Los Angeles (appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa) he was instrumental in removing the Muslim terror tracking plan in Los Angeles.

You LA area folks ought to be feeling much safer these days. And I am sure if a Christian is appointed to some position in the administration, it will be accompanied by the statement “he is a devout Christian.” Reckon? Here are details:

http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2009/06/obama-appointment-arif-ali-khan-asst-secretary-dhs.html

Another appointment

If you have the stomach for it, read the following press release from Washington, DC, October 15, 2009:

“The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination (ADC) offers its most heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to Kareem Shora, ADC National Executive Director, for his ten years of exceptional service to ADC and to the Arab-American community. Shora, who earlier this year was sworn in by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano as a member of the Homeland Security Advisory Council (HSAC), has been appointed as Senior Policy Adviser for the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).”

Read about it here:  http://www.adc.org/index.php?id=3512

Feeling safer now?

Adolph Hitler could have taken lessons from our President. Obama has done in ten months what it took Hitler three or four years to accomplish.

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Obama favors Islam

Why is this true? Is Obama a closet Muslim? About 19% of Americans think he is. That is almost one out of 5. There must be something that has evoked this conviction. Here is some information that might put you in the 19% group. Click on this web site:

http://www.youtube.com/watch_popup?v=tCAffMSWSzY#t=28

The contributor’s website: http://thevoice.name/

Source: Dr. Billy D. Bates, Th. D.

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9/11 Defendants to “Explain” Actions

NEW YORK (AP 11/23/09) — The five men facing trial in the Sept. 11 attacks will plead not guilty so that they can air their criticisms of U.S. foreign policy, the lawyer for one of the defendants said.

Scott Fenstermaker, the lawyer for accused terrorist Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, said Sunday the men would not deny their role in the 2001 attacks but “would explain what happened and why they did it.”

How redundant. We already know why they did it, and they already told us they were guilty, as well as who they got to help them. The trial was approved by the Obama team to pacify the Muslim world that is blackmailing us with threats unless we yield to their every whim.
Get ready for more of this madness.

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Pelosi: Buy a $15,000 Policy or Go to Jail

On November 6 the Ranking Republican Member of the House Ways and Means Committee, Dave Camp (R-MI), released a letter from the non-partisan Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) confirming that the failure to comply with the individual mandate to buy health insurance contained in the Pelosi health care bill (H.R. 3962, as amended) could land people in jail. The JCT letter makes clear that Americans who do not maintain “acceptable health insurance coverage,” and who choose not to pay the bill’s new individual mandate tax (generally 2.5% of income), are subject to numerous civil and criminal penalties, including criminal fines of up to $250,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.

In response to the JCT letter, Camp said: “This is the ultimate example of the Democrats’ command-and-control style of governing—buy what we tell you or go to jail. It is outrageous and it should be stopped immediately.”

Key excerpts from the JCT letter appear below:
“H.R. 3962 provides that an individual (or a husband and wife in the case of a joint return) who does not, at any time during the taxable year, maintain acceptable health insurance coverage for himself or herself and each of his or her qualifying children is subject to an additional tax.” [page 1]

“If the government determines that the taxpayer’s unpaid tax liability results from willful behavior, the following penalties could apply….” [page 2]

“Criminal penalties: Prosecution is authorized under the Code for a variety of offenses. Depending on the level of the noncompliance, the following penalties could apply to an individual:
• Section 7203 – misdemeanor willful failure to pay is punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and/or imprisonment of up to one year.
• Section 7201 – felony willful evasion is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and/or imprisonment of up to five years.” [page 3]

When confronted with this same issue during its consideration of a similar individual mandate tax, the Senate Finance Committee worked on a bipartisan basis to include language in its bill that shielded Americans from civil and criminal penalties. The Pelosi bill, however, contains no similar language protecting American citizens from civil and criminal tax penalties that could include a $250,000 fine and five years in jail.

“The Senate Finance Committee had the good sense to eliminate the extreme penalty of incarceration. Speaker Pelosi’s decision to leave in the jail time provision is a threat to every family who cannot afford the $15,000 premium her plan creates. Fortunately, Republicans have an alternative that will lower health insurance costs without raising taxes or cutting Medicare,” said Camp.

According to the Congressional Budget Office the lowest cost family non-group plan under the Speaker’s bill would cost $15,000 in 2016.

Sources:
http://republicbroadcasting.org/?p=5131
http://republicans.waysandmeans.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=153583

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Quiz

Answers appear below:

1. If Pelosi, Reid and Obama were in a boat and it started to sink, who would be saved?

2. What do you call the US after four years of Obama and the Liberal congress?

3. What’s the difference between Obama and Hitler?

4. What’s another difference between Obama and Hitler?

5. Why doesn’t Obama pray?

6. What’s the difference between Obama’s cabinet and a penitentiary?

7. What’s the difference between Obama and his dog, Bo?

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The “gap”

When the subjects of music, church methodology, evangelism or biblical lifestyle standards surface, one soon hears the words “generation gap,” or some variation of the idea. As though little or nothing that was not introduced by the current crop of musicians or “progressive” pastors is worthy of embracing.

As for the current trends in methodology, avant-garde thinkers are picking up the signals being sent by the radical wing of the Evangelical movement, primarily the Emergents. Why else, all of a sudden, do we see some of our own pastors and youth leaders on their platforms during service with holey jeans, shirttails hanging out, tie-less and smiling while the house rocks with “guitar-driven” bands staffed by weird-looking, bearded personalities backed up by female praise singers wearing pants? The whole scene reeks of carnality.

Let me be clear—there is nothing wrong with guitars, per se. I own one and used it for years in revival services. Nor is there anything innately sinful about being tie-less or having one’s shirttail out, unless he is emulating those who are tossing the message and holiness overboard. My question: Why copy them? Is where they are where you want to be? We have all ministered in casual dress. I just returned from overseas where we preached almost every time without a jacket on. That is beside the point. Surely every thinking person knows what I am saying—that mimicking compromising losers will only make one a loser like them.

Too many are saying to the world, “Look, we are not so different. See, we look and sound just like you. We feature the hammering 7-11s, the colored strobes, the torn jeans, the cool styles. C’mon. Get with us and then you can…well, ummm…well, you can just remain as you are. Just paste Jesus on like a bumper sticker and no real lifestyle change is necessary. We are all on a ‘journey.’ We feature the ‘new spirituality.’ You don’t have to be religious, just spiritual. Enjoy our non-threatening atmosphere and light show while we perform our new theme song: ‘We Are the World.’”

Who is winning whom in such “engagement”? Please be honest. Be real, not just theoretical.

Remember: Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Rob Bell, Erwin McManus, Robert Schuller, Doug Pagitt, Richard Foster, Joel Osteen, Donald Miller—none of these men have ever won a soul to God.

To A-types, engaging the culture sounds like a great idea. A new approach? No. A thousand churches and more ministers than that are in the spiritual graveyards today because they thought they could ignore the elders and take fire into their bosoms and not be burned. Put “relevance” in the thief’s bag. It has been stolen and redefined along with a hundred other words like “gay,” “journey,” “authentic.”

What is really happening—reaching the unchurched, or unchurching the reached? Unchanged “converts” are changing the church.

Change is not bad as long as it takes us in the right direction, so said Winston Churchill. Only a hard-headed few are totally resistant to any change. This may add to the notion that a “generation gap” exists. In the kingdom of God there is no generation gap unless we manufacture one to distance ourselves from our elders in order to follow our peers. As the Bible reveals, that can be disastrous (I Kings 12:1-19).

Why don’t we quit focusing on a perceived gap and pledge to listen to each other and work together? Elders should recognize that nothing is changeless—except God—nor should it be. We need to shake ourselves and move on. But we have to be careful that we don’t fall into the trap of change simply because it sounds like a good idea (as America did in the last election), or to merely follow someone who seems to be drawing a crowd. We have changed and are changing. Everything in nature changes—frogs, snakes and locusts shed their skins. Chickens molt. Men grow bald and women have their own set of changes. We can accept change when it will bring glory to God—when it is for the right reasons and will not harm our testimony, violate our conscience, or lead us down a path toward compromise.

Younger men should vow to listen more closely to Apostolic elders rather than worldly unbelievers who are good at attracting a crowd. Don’t shut your eyes to what is really happening. Acknowledge that you don’t have the historical perspective of your elders. We have seen men and movements come and go. Pursuing spiritual fads is “vanity and vexation of the spirit”—i.e., chasing the wind.

But it’s a new generation, they say. The times they are a’changing, they say. Need to engage (read: embrace) the culture, they say. Gotta look like ’em and sound like ’em to get ’em out, they say. As long as one preaches Acts 2:38 and holds to the doctrine, no problem, they say. Oh, that it were that simple! Alas, it is not.

My question stands: who is winning whom? All one has to do to answer that question is to look around.

If the fundamental salvation doctrine is the only thing that matters, what about the Oneness churches pastored by homosexual ministers affiliated with gay-affirming organizations. They hold to the doctrines of baptism in Jesus name and the Holy Ghost. So is basic doctrine all that really matters?

We must remember that no entity, person, church or organization is totally static and inert. They are moving. They are on their way to a place or a position where others have already gone.

Lot was not the first man in Sodom. Lot pitched his tent toward Sodom, but probably did not intend on going all the way to the city, certainly he didn’t intend on associating with the gays down there. He just wanted to take his “flock” to the greenest-looking pastures, like the modern “progressives.” The easiest way. No climbing up steep mountains. No effort. No lifestyle demands. Just float downstream on Jordan’s current to the Dead Sea. That seemed like the logical thing to do. Lot’s choice of direction, however, made it virtually inevitable that he would eventually wind up in Sodom.

One’s direction determines his destiny.

Sodom was situated near the lowest place on the face of the earth. Abraham had taken his flocks to the heights while Lot had drifted with his into the depths. We had better take stock of what’s ahead before making our choice of direction. Look around. Live with our eyes wide open. Where have those who decided on traveling the well-watered plains of modern culture wound up? What do their churches look like? What do they themselves look like? What do they preach? Only fools say, “It won’t happen to me.” The Bible says, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed” (Proverbs 13:20). Not much room for alternatives there.

Many elders have spent their lifetimes in the effort to convince young men and women to walk wisely and avoid the pitfalls prepared by the enemy of our souls. A significant few have listened well and are following in footsteps of the Father of the Faithful. A few others have been enticed by the green pastures of the lowlands. The spiritual graveyards are rapidly filling up.

Once again—if you don’t want to go to Sodom, don’t pitch your tent in that direction.

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Re-Inventing the Church: Spirit-Led or Purpose-Driven?

by Berit Kjos

“The Church seems afraid to invest in new modes of being the Church, breaking free from antiquated models and irrelevant traditions toward living the gospel in a twenty-first-century context.” – George Barna, Leaders on Leadership

“Our common future will depend on the extent to which people and leaders around the world develop the vision of a better world and the strategies, the institutions, and then will to achieve it.” – The UN Commission on Global Governance

“There is a substantial critical mass of people and churches that are already moving…. While acknowledging that there are still many unhealthy churches, there is a justified change in basic premises, basic attitudes, basic mind set….on the whole, we are on the march….” – “Peter Drucker on the Church and Denominations,” Leadership Network.

But what does God say? “Thus saith the Lord, stand ye in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk therein’” (Jeremiah 6:16).

A strange distortion of truth has spread like a grass fire on a windy day through churches around the world. It calls God’s people not just to understand our changing times from the world’s perspective, but to actually blow with the wind and help fuel the transformation. This Church Growth Movement (CGM) uses familiar old words to persuade the people, but it conforms God’s Word as well as human thinking to politically correct views of unity, community, service and change.

Behavioral laboratories, schools, UNESCO and liberal churches all helped light that fire during the 20th century. Hidden from sight, their subversive efforts seared America’s Biblical foundations and prepared the masses to believe a lie.

Now, at the dawn of the new millennium, “conservative” and “evangelical” churches are following suit. Worldwide “Christian” networks provide trained leadership and management consultants to guide God’s people along this alluring superhighway to a new world order. Forget the old narrow way that leads to life. Today’s “change agents” hope to popularize Christianity so effectively that whole nations will join their crusade.

Forget solid  Bible teaching and “the offense of the cross.” To win the masses “for Christ,” the church must be re-cloaked in a more permissive and appealing image. It must be marketed to the world as “a safe place,” purged of the moral standards that stirred conviction of sin and a longing to separate from the world’s immorality.  So they re-imagined a feel-good church stripped of offense—one the world could love and claim as its own.

Their march to a “better world” is well under way. In this new church, group thinking, compromise, conflict resolution, the dialectic process and facilitated consensus are in.  Uncompromising conviction and resistance to group consensus are out.

(Please read the entire article:  http://www.crossroad.to/articles2/2002/change_agent-1.htm

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Let’s talk trash—I mean TV and movies

(Based on the latest research by David Cloud; edited and annotated by John Poppino)

Even the most sophisticated ‘TV dude’ and his plugged in family should re-consider these things…

1. The situation comedies are almost universally designed to brainwash the audience. As Ken Matto observes in his report entitled “The Dangers of Television”:

“Television programs are designed with the purpose of reprogramming your mind by breaking down your defenses so you will accept a lie as truth. Many of the anti-Christian and immoral precepts are bellowed forth in situation comedies. They get you to laugh, then they put forth their principles and soon you have accepted their teachings without reservation. This is why much reprogramming is done through comedy.”

2. USA Today published an article entitled “PG-13 can lull folks with false security.” It is a warning about the filthiness of PG-13 movies by a humanistic secular newspaper! The article contains the following important statement:

“PG-13 was designed, I believe, to apply the friendly PG symbol to movies that have no business even being considered for viewing by most young teenagers and preteens. The age of assignment for the rating is deceptive, and it lulls parents into a false sense of security” (Joe Zanger, editor of “PG-14,” USA Today, Nov. 22, 1999, p. 2D).

3. A few Christians still say, “We just watch PG-13!!!” The following are typical quotations from reviews of PG-13 movies by professional secular critics:

A CHEF IN LOVE – PG-13: “violence, rape, sex, nudity, profanity—it’s pretty raunchy”

MEN IN BLACK — PG-13: “violence, profanity, gore, vulgarity”

ANACONDA – PG-13: “violence, gore, profanity, vulgarity, sex, nudity”

BIRD ON A WIRE – PG-13: “considerable mayhem, as well as sex, profanity and some nudity.”

BLAME IT ON THE BELLBOY – PG-13: “sadistic, graphic violence, as well as sex, profanity, vulgarity and some partial nudity.”

CLUELESS – PG-13: “violence, vulgarity, profanity and drugs … the film’s cavalier suggestions that casual sex is perfectly acceptable for 15-year-olds and that smoking marijuana is fine as long as it’s at a party are extremely irresponsible.”

PARENTHOOD – PG-13: “sex, profanity, vulgarity, raunchy … Some of the material is so adult that an R-rating doesn’t seem unreasonable.”
RESCUE ME – “Rated PG-13 but has an awful lot of R-rated material, including violence, profanity, sex and nudity.”

If secular people can see the danger of PG-13 movies, why can’t God’s people?

4. Even many of the old Western movies and TV shows are indecent when weighed by biblical standards. The women typically wear tight, revealing clothing. The likeable heroes drink and gamble and are irreligious. Immoral bargirls are portrayed as innocent, good-hearted people, the salt of the earth, while church-going Christians are depicted as weak hypocrites and fools.

One pastor told David Cloud that he has had the custom, from time to time, of asking his sons if they find anything offensive in the home. One year he took one of his sons fishing and asked that question, and the son immediately brought up a certain John Wayne movie that had put improper images in his mind.

On any particular Saturday night in Any City, USA, members of every conceivable denomination or faith group can be seen leaving out of the movie houses after viewing the latest Hollywood flick. The problem is not the doctrinal statements. It’s the heart. It’s the mind. It’s affections.
As long as this TV/movie hypocrisy goes on, there is a need for the increase of separatist biblical movements. May they be blessed. May they always seek to be pure in heart.

[PS: David Cloud is a Baptist.]

Apostolics…we were right on movies, and we are right on television. Let’s don’t give an inch on these positions or the devil will take a mile.

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Answers to Quiz:

1.    America!

2.    An Obamanation

3.    Hitler wrote his own book.

4.    Hitler got the Olympics to come to his country.

5.    It’s impossible to read the teleprompter with your eyes closed.

6. One is filled with tax evaders, blackmailers and threats to society.
The other is for housing convicted prisoners.

7. Bo has papers.

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Gift ideas

This year, give something that will truly help someone as they enjoy it—give a book!
Go to advanceministries.org and check out the good Apostolic books…and some by other authors, too. Great deals on Bibles!

New book by Nevin Bass!

Stepping Stones: Ten Tests to Prepare You for Glory

God teaches life’s lessons through trials. They are a part of every believer’s experience. Trials are a part of every believer’s life. The good news is that trials are one of the most effective methods that God uses to prepare us for His perfect plan.

• Our trials will either be stepping stones to greatness or stumbling blocks of destruction.

• We will either allow our trials to develop the traits needed to achieve God’s ultimate desire for our life, or we will resist change and find fault with the direction in which God leads us.

• Our tests will either be our servants to minister grace toward us, or they will become our enemies and hinder our progress.

The determining factor is our attitude. We are not allowed to choose our trials, but each of us must choose how we will react to these times of testing. Take a journey through the wilderness with the Hebrew people and learn why God did not lead them in a direct route to the Promised Land. The path on which God led the exodus generation afforded opportunities for the people to grow and be prepared for the eventual conquest of Canaan. See how God provided opportunities for the people to learn to:

• Conquer Fear
• Beat Bitterness
• Cultivate Thankfulness
• Endure Dryness
• Deal with Delays

Order your copy today from advanceministries.org. Only 13.95

Teacher’s Resource on CD only $15. Book and CD combo $25.

Aid To the Scriptures

by William Felt

Here is a little book small enough for your coat pocket or purse to have handy when you are witnessing, or when just need a bit of inspiration. Complete Bible verses on many topics from Abomination to Worship, plus addenda that contains helpful bits of Bible information. They make great gifts, especially as stocking stuffers. Order one for every person you want to make smile! Only 5.95 each from advanceministries.org. Order today!

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My, how nations differ!

Holding out for a common sense approach to immigration evidently cost CNN commentator Lou Dobbs his job. How different it is in America from other countries around the world.

• If you cross the North Korean border illegally you get 12 years hard labor.
• If you cross the Iranian border illegally you are detained indefinitely as a spy.
• If you cross the Afghan border illegally you get shot.
• If you cross the Saudi Arabian border illegally you will be jailed.
• If you cross the Chinese border illegally you may never be heard from again.
• If you cross the Venezuelan border illegally you will be branded a spy and your fate will be sealed.
• If you cross the Cuban border illegally you will be thrown into a political prison to rot.
• If you cross the U.S. border illegally you likely get:

A job
A driver’s license
A social security card
Welfare
Food stamps
Credit cards
Subsidized rent or a loan to buy a house
Free education
Free health care
A lobbyist in Washington
And…in many instances you can vote!

What’s wrong with this picture????

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Book Reviews

Medication Madness

Dr. Peter Breggin
Hardcover; New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2008; 384 pages

Dr. Breggin, an eminent psychiatrist himself, exposes the dangers of mood-altering drugs. There are more than 200 million psychiatric drug prescriptions written annually. Some of them are causing serious harm. Children and adults are being emotionally and physically injured, and sometimes driven mad, by psychiatric medications. Some commit horrible crimes and atrocities while under their control.

Drugs can and do transform the lives of otherwise well-meaning, ethical people, causing them to act in ways they would ordinarily find reprehensible. The many stories in this fine book, plus the accompanying scientific explanations, will make the dangers of psychiatric drugs unmistakable clear. This book will add to your knowledge about how drugs act upon human beings and about human nature itself.

The true stories that are woven throughout the book are there to illustrate the deep truths that Dr. Breggin is setting forth. This book will be a liberal education for every reader. You will find it a wealth of knowledge about the current drug craze in our culture. Arm yourself!
(Find it on half.com or amazon.com)

Spiritual Masters for All Seasons

By Michael Ford
(Softcover; HiddenSpring, 2009; 176 pages; $18.00)

In a blending of the spiritual with the journalistic, author Michael Ford invites four spiritual masters—Thomas Merton, Henri Nouwen, Anthony de Mello, and John O’Donohue—onto the same stage to show how they speak, not only to our own times, but for all seasons. In particular, he examines their legacy against the background of America and the world in recession, showing how their message of nonviolence, compassion, and inner integrity is much needed, not only in the “remaking of America” under Barack Obama, but also through the example the United States’ president has set for the rest of the world.

These four men are heroes and mentors to the advocates of Contemplative Spirituality and leaders of the Emergent Church Movement. If you want to know the direction of the mystics and the Emergents, you can find it here. I recommend it only for those doing research about the subjects, not for personal inspiration.

Thomas Merton was a Catholic monk who passed away in the late 1970s. He was a prolific writer and his books are treasured by those involved in the spirituality movements and the Emergents.

Catholic lay monk Wayne Teasdale says this of Thomas Merton: “Thomas Merton was perhaps the greatest popularizer of interspirituality. He opened the door for Christians to explore other traditions, notably Taoism (Chinese witchcraft), Hinduism and Buddhism.” (From Mystic Heart: Discovering a Universal Spirituality in the World’s Religions by Wayne Teasdale]

Merton stated, “It is a glorious destiny to be a member of the human race, … now I realize what we all are…. If only they [people] could all see themselves as they really are …I suppose the big problem would be that we would fall down and worship each other…. At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusions, a point of pure truth… This little point…is the pure glory of God in us. It is in everybody.” – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 1989 edition, 157-158. He further said, “I’m deeply impregnated with Sufism.” From The Springs of Contemplation, p. 266

The late Henri Nouwen, also a Catholic mystic and one of the author’s four “spiritual masters,” said: “Today I personally believe that while Jesus came to open the door to God’s house, all human beings can walk through that door, whether they know about Jesus or not. Today I see it as my call to help every person claim his or her own way to God.”
– From Sabbatical Journey, Henri Nouwen’s last book page 51, 1998; Hardcover Edition.

Anthony de Mello published Sadhana: A Way to God. Sadhana,  according the Hindu Dictionary, is “a means of attainment…self-effort, spiritual discipline; the way…embracing religious or spiritual disciplines, such as puja, yoga, meditation, japa, fasting and austerity. The effect of sadhana is the building of willpower, faith and confidence in oneself and in God, Gods and guru.”

According to believers, Sadhana harnesses and transmutes the instinctive-intellectual nature, allowing progressive spiritual unfoldment into the superconscious realizations and innate abilities of the soul. [Got that?]

John O’Donohue was an Irish Catholic philosopher and spiritual mystic who recently passed away.

Please save your money and pass this one by, but understand that these “spiritual masters” are front men for a revival of the New Spirituality, which used to be called the New Age. Some of our Apostolic ministers have taken the bait and been hooked on what sounds like deep spirituality. Don’t be duped. This is the same ol’ gal in a different dress.

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The Rise of the Green Religion

Environmentalism should be regarded on the same level with religion “as the only compelling, value-based narrative available to humanity,” according to a paper written two years ago to influence the future strategy of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), the world’s would-be environmental watchdog.

The purpose of the paper, called “The UNEP That We Want,” put together after an unpublicized day-long session in Switzerland by some of the world’s top environmental bureaucrats: to argue for a new and unprecedented effort to move environmental concerns to “the center of political and economic decision-making” around the world — and perhaps not coincidentally, expand the influence and reach of UNEP at the tables of world power, as a rule-maker and potential supervisor of the New Environmental Order. (Source: George Russell, Fox News)

Al Gore and his green revolution gang have foisted upon the American public the idea that our current lifestyles (e.g., energy producing industries, larger “carbon footprints” of homes and offices, and cooking fires in Asia) are warming the planet to catastrophic levels.

His exaggerations, blatant lies, and wrong-headed ideas could be as threatening to the Western world as the rise of Islam. If adopted by congress, his proposals would weaken our national economy to the level of the European nations at best, and possibly to the level of some third world country. This would “level the playing field” as consistently called for by President Obama. I am convinced that it is the purpose of his administration to bring down the United States, and Obamacare, Cap and Trade, and his other agenda items are designed to accomplish that through the destruction of capitalism.

Back to the bad science of global. Some scientists provide proof that the planet is even cooling. They also shatter the myth that the hottest years in the United States were 1998 and 2006. The hottest year was 1934, and the hottest decade was the 1930s—when there were half as many people and no SUVs or jumbo jets. It is all a political tool to get what they want—POWER and CONTROL!

According to Fox News and other outlets, a thousand or so e-mails sent between scientists and other players in the environmental movement have recently been discovered that show collusion between them to skew the data and foist this economy-killing legislation on our nation. They have hidden data that shows that global warming is a hoax perpetrated by politicians with an agenda.

If we let them get away with it, what fools we be. The do-nothings and say-nothings will wake up tomorrow in a socialist state wondering what happened.

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Parting shots

None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.    – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

G. Campbell Morgan, a pastor and father of four sons in the ministry, was a prolific writer who paid attention to what was going on in the world around him, wrote, “It is never the job of the preacher to catch the spirit of the age but to correct it.”  – Quoted in James R. Gray, “Be Faithful To God’s Truth,” Pulpit Helps, 12/05, p. 8

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Thanks for visiting the blog. Feel free to leave your comments. Have a great day!

JREnsey

Published in: on December 1, 2009 at 10:18 AM  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Bro. Ensey, I would have thought after all this time of publishing your blog, that you would eventually run out of things to say. Not so! Your blog gets better with each issue, more chock full of information that can be life-changing if we but let it.

  2. Bro. Ensey:

    Always so much meat in your blogs. Thank you sincerely for holding to the old paths.

    God bless.

  3. You paint a very scary scenario, Bro. Ensey, but then again when hasn’t it been a scary future?


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