December Blog

WELCOME to the December edition of our blog.

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Thankgiving…

…is wonderful but the “hangover” is the part that I don’t like! This seems to be the time of year the cleaners begin using something in their process that shrinks your clothes.

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Leftovers

Have you wondered why Jesus’ disciples picked up all the fragments following His miracle of feeding the 5,000? After all, who needs fragments and scraps after such phenomenal proof of Christ’s ability?

Fragments became a lot when they were gathered together. When we are not careful and conscious of little things, we lose something of value. When we gather the day’s fragments, we are amazed at how much they will feed our souls and strengthen lives.

Jesus is the great Creator, but He does not want us to neglect small things. He takes fragments of men and things to build miracles. So God’s children in turn need to value the seemingly incidental.

What about the fragments of time left over from the major events of the day? Perhaps meditating on a Scripture verse would bring a life-changing truth. Perhaps a phone call to encourage a discouraged friend would be the basis for a new lease on life. Perhaps sending a card to express thanks for a seemingly insignificant favor would bring sunshine into a dull existence.

Who knows what God can do with leftovers if we will let Him through our loving obedience create the recipe?

–       by Charles Crabtree

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Is cremation biblical?

I am often asked about the practice of cremation. The matter is evidently a concern to many people. I am going to introduce the topic by letting someone else give a response to the question and ask for yours. The following is from author Dave Hunt, excerpted from The Berean Call:

In Genesis 50:25 we see that Joseph wanted his bones kept specifically so that he might be buried in the Promised Land when God’s people returned there (Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32). This wasn’t intended as a requirement for everyone but as an assurance to the people that God would be faithful to release them from exile. According to the Scriptures, Joseph commanded the embalming of his father, Jacob. Later, Joseph’s body was also embalmed (Genesis 50:26). For other examples of bones being left intact, see Jeremiah 8:1.

The “dust and ashes” as used in Genesis 18:27 is simply a figure of speech expressing Abraham’s humility and reverence before the Lord. Job 30:19 similarly uses the term.

People in biblical times and lands would sometimes express their sorrow and mourning by throwing ashes over their heads. Or they might speak of being “on the ash heap.” Neither of these has any implications concerning cremation or embalming.

A word study of “bones” and “ashes” might be edifying but may not apply nearly as much as what seems far more important: understanding that God will do what He says He will do, which is to raise us in our glorified bodies at the last day. There is nothing in the Bible to indicate that regardless of how one dies (even if in an explosion or, as in Hebrews 11, sawn in half), the Lord would have any difficulty in resurrecting our bodies. “I am the Lord, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me?” (Jeremiah 32:27).

Yes, pagans often dispose of bodies through burning. They also embalm (the Egyptians, for example) and surround the dead with great wealth. Today, there is a unique argument that “morticians make an idol of our bodies”! Any mortician (or mortician’s client, for that matter) is accountable for his own spiritual condition. Whether someone else (pagan or otherwise) worships his own (or someone else’s) body need not and should not apply to one’s decision; it is
the heart upon which the Lord looks.

“To dust we shall return” doesn’t require or command that we do anything in order to reach that state. The Bible speaks of the body being sown a natural body and raised a spiritual one. We cannot oppose cremation on scriptural grounds; neither does the Bible recommend it. There may be some practical considerations, as, for example, bodies that were burned during the bubonic plague. Although there is plenty of scriptural precedent for embalming the body, there is not for cremation. Insofar as embalming is a practical consideration, we can also see that cremation may on occasion be a practical choice. In New Orleans, the water content of the soil does not allow the burial of coffins,
and above-ground tombs are limited.

Let me encourage you to be at peace about the subject, since the Lord is far more concerned about what you do while you live in your body than after you leave your “earthly tent” to meet Him face to face.

[Please feel free to offer your perspective on this issue that often divides families. We will publish the best responses either over your name or anonymously, as you prefer. – jre]

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The difference in liberals and conservatives

Which are you? Here is a test:

If a Conservative doesn’t like guns, he doesn’t buy one.
If a Liberal doesn’t like guns, he wants all guns outlawed.

If a Conservative is a vegetarian, he doesn’t eat meat.
If a Liberal is a vegetarian, he wants all meat products banned for everyone.

If a Conservative is down-and-out, he thinks about how to better his situation.
A Liberal wonders who is going to take care of him.

If a Conservative doesn’t like a talk show host, he turns the dial.
Liberals demand that those they don’t like be silenced.

If a Conservative is a non-believer, he doesn’t go to church.
A Liberal non-believer wants any mention of God and religion silenced.

If a Conservative decides he needs health care, he goes about shopping for it, or may choose a job that provides it.                                                                  A Liberal demands that the rest of us pay for his.

If a Conservative reads this, he’ll forward it so his friends can have a good laugh.
A Liberal will delete it because he’s “offended.”

Source: Anonymous

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Where liberal Christianity will take us

H. Richard Niebuhr once said of a crossless Christianity: “A god without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross.” That seems to be the philosophy adopted by the modernists and postmodernists.

Where did we lose the concept of discipleship without cost? Jesus said, “If any man come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). One could even lose the support of his immediate family (Luke 14:26). Does compromise and costless discipleship build churches? That seems to be what the church growth movement thinks.

But what does the record show? Since 1960 the Presbyterians have lost one half of their entire constituency. The United Church of Christ and the Episcopalians have lost one-third of their members. Those are the ones that have led the way toward honoring homosexuals in ministry. Once you do that, there can be no bars to membership and ministry—just “educational requirements” that will provide you with sensitivity training and social justice orientation. Compromising truth and righteousness for the sake of church growth is the height of folly. Increasing the number of those who don’t live for God is not church growth, it is merely abnormal swelling, or perhaps what the doctors used to call “proud flesh.”

As the Apostolic Movement…where do we want to go?

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The Audacity of Nope

The Obama administration was swept into office with a chorus of “Yes, we can!” They thought they had enough political capital to do whatever they wanted without consequences. The voters in the recent election sent a clear message to the Congress and the White House that enough was enough. Unrestrained spending, the circumventing of constitutional processes, and ignoring the will of the people brought forth a shout of “No, you won’t!”

A large segment of the American population had begun to feel their country sinking into the morass of socialism. President Obama, motivated by a conviction that America is largely to blame for much of the world’s troubles, had embarked on a splurge of spending that threatened to overwhelm the system and bankrupt the nation. Seemingly determined to redistribute the wealth of America to the Third World nations, and the possessions of the “haves” taken and given to the “have nots,” he has led us to the brink of national disaster. His desire to right all wrongs viewed as being perpetrated by white American and European “colonialists” had driven him to take the country on a path of revenge against the capitalist free market system.

Wall Street would pay. The “fat cats” in CEO chairs would be leaned down. Big business would become small(er) business. Small business would become no business, with the employees pushed into the ranks of the unemployed who must then depend on government subsidies and handouts. The plan seems to have been to get as many people as possible on the government dole. Earnings would be capped and taxes would be increased to insure that the government would soon the prime provider of all vital services, including health care. It was socialism imposed from the top down, not a violent revolution from the ground up.

But Americans had the audacity to collectively say, “Nope!” on November 2.

The church will ultimately come into Obama’s crosshairs as his anticolonialist views mature and take root in American culture. Missionaries are viewed as part of that system. Christians will show up on his “enemies list.” Christianity is out; Islam is in. Christian ethics and mores must give way to patterns of thought and behavior born of the neo-atheism being promoted in all segments of our culture. Are we prepared for such an attack? “Be strong; quit ye like men” I hear someone from long ago saying. It is a voice from among those who have passed the baton of truth to us and who will not be complete without a winning run from us in the endtime.

On November 2, a light shined into the darkness. May we be reflectors of its hope.

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Marxism in America

I have been convinced even before the 2008 presidential election that an Obama administration would move us toward socialism. But I did not dream it could happen so quickly. Since I am a preacher and not involved in government or the military, please take the word of someone who is considered more of an authority on the matter. Here is the word from Lt. General (Ret.) W. G. Boykin:

http://www.morningstartv.com/oak-initiative/marxism-america

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A chief annoyance

What annoys you most? Perhaps you haven’t actually made a list, but high on my list would be…

…rolling boom boxes.

Recently a low rider pulled up next to my car at a red light. I had heard him coming from some distance away. He had evidently filled the trunk of his vehicle with huge one million watt speakers, armed with bass woofers that could cause a tsunami at the beach. His windows were open—ostensibly to let some of the sound out so his car would not explode, or perhaps to make sure everyone in the next county heard his brand of noise.

The decibles were daunting. My chest vibrated with each beat of the hip-hop rhythm of the low rider’s music (a word not justified as a descriptive term for the sounds emitting from his vehicle). I prayed for the light to change before the metal on my car began to buckle. Would my tires over-inflate? Would the water in my radiator be expelled? Would my wheels now be out of alignment? Would my windows break? Are his ears bleeding? Are mine?

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Bookends

An interesting fact came to my attention lately. The first mention of the word “book” in the Old Testament is in the first chapters of Genesis (5:1) and had to do with the generations of Adam. The first mention of book in the NT is in the context of “the generation of Jesus Christ” (Matthew 1:1). Each of those books has an “end” to match. The OT bookend is in Malachi 3:16 where it is recorded that a “book of remembrance” is being recorded for the faithful. The NT bookend is in the last chapter of Revelation where the warning is given for those who would seek to add to or take away from “the prophecies of this book” (22:19).

What nice bookends! The Bible is such a fascinating Book.

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The laying on of hair

Someone wrote me about this new “doctrine.” Here are his words: “Brother Ensey, I am having a hard time understanding a new doctrine. I understand the teaching of laying on of hands, however, I do not understand the teaching of laying of female hair upon the sick. It seems strange and out of order.”

This is a new practice in some circles, not a new doctrine. Just because it is not mentioned in the Bible doesn’t necessarily mean it can’t or shouldn’t be done at all as an act of faith. However, to attach it to a passage like I Corinthians 11:10 and extrapolate such a theory from that verse would be wresting the Scriptures. Someone might say, “Well, I know a lady who laid her long hair on a sick person and they got better, so that must mean that Paul was trying to tell us that there is power in long hair to heal the sick.” That would be extreme eisegesis.

Surely everyone is aware that anecdotal testimony can be obtained to corroborate ANYTHING! Books could be filled with subjective testimonies that seem to confirm everything from capture by space aliens to having been to the fiery hell and back. When are we going to learn that we judge subjective experiences by the Word of truth, not the Word by someone’s experience and anecdotal testimony? I heard of a lady who was healed when she put her hands in a tub of water that had been labeled by an evangelist as “the pool of Bethesda.” Her simple faith was rewarded.

But don’t start bringing tubs of water into the church. It is unwise to build doctrines or theories on one-time miracles or experiences.

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Abortion is murder

By 21 days the baby’s heart begins to beat and the blood flows through its body. At 45 days the tiny baby’s brain waves can be detected. By 8 to 9 weeks the eyelids have begun forming and hair appears. By 9 or 10 weeks it sucks its thumb, jumps, frowns, swallows, and moves its tongue. By 12 or 13 weeks the baby has fingernails and its own unique fingerprints; all arteries are present, vocal chords are complete; the baby can cry and recoils from pain. At 14 weeks the mother begins to feel the baby moving inside of her. At 15 weeks the baby has fully-formed taste buds. At 16 weeks, it has eyebrows and eyelashes, and it can grasp with its hands, kick, and even somersault. At 20 weeks the baby can hear and recognize its mother’s voice.

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Chrislam: A new religion?

On November 14, the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Houston along with Christian communities in Atlanta, Seattle and Detroit initiated a series of sermons that have been designed to produce an ecumenical reconciliation between Christianity and Islam. In addition to the sermons, the Sunday school lessons will center on the inspired teachings of the Prophet Mohammad. Qurans are being placed in the pews next to the Bibles.

The concept of Chrislam, now embraced by such preachers as Rick Warren and Robert Schuller, appears to have emerged from a program on the meaning of “love your neighbor” at Grace Fellowship Church in Atlanta, Georgia. “In 2001, like most Americans, we were pretty awakened to the true Islamic presence in the world and in the United States,” says Jon Stallsmith, the outreach minister at Grace Fellowship. “Jesus says we should love our neighbors. We can’t do that without having a relationship with them.”

Stallsmith maintains that a rapprochement between Muslims and Christians can be achieved by the fact that Jesus is mentioned twenty-five times in the Quran.

The Chrislam movement has gained impetus by statements from President George W. Bush and that Christians, Jews, and Muslims all worship the same God and by Rick Warren’s reference to Isa (the Muslim name for Jesus) in his prayer at the inauguration of President Barack Obama.

Jesus in the Quran is neither the only-begotten Son of God nor the Messiah who was divinely appointed to restore the House of David. He is rather viewed as a prophet who was appointed by Allah to prepare mankind for the coming of Mohammad.

In the Quran, Jesus neither suffers nor dies on the cross but is rather raised alive into heaven: “That they said (in boast), “We killed Christ Jesus the son of Mary, the Messenger of God”; but they killed him not, nor crucified him, but so it was made to appear to them, and those who differ therein are full of doubts, with no (certain) knowledge, but only conjecture to follow, for of a surety they killed him not: Nay, God raised him up unto the himself; and God is Exalted in Power, Wise” (4: 157-158).

The victim at Calvary, Islam teaches, was either Simon of Cyrene or Judas Iscariot. The Quran mentions that Jesus was born of the virgin Maryam—not by an immaculate conception but rather the will of Allah and that He performed miracles to show the Jewish people that He was a maseh in the manner of Moses and Ibrahim (Abraham): “In blasphemy indeed are those that say that God is Christ the son of Mary. Nay: “Who then hath the least power against God, if His will were to destroy Christ the son of Mary, his mother, and everyone that is on the earth? For to God belongeth the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all that is between. He createth what He pleaseth. For God hath power over all things” (5:17).

Belief in the divinity of Jesus is condemned in Islam as shirk (filth).

(This information was posted by Rev. Paul Williams. http://www.rapturewatch.net/apps/forums/topics/show/3763718-chrislam-spreads-throughout-america-)

How do YOU feel about the new move toward what is called “Integral Christianity”?

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You go, Tommy!!

December 2, 2009 was a special day for a special young man. Tommy Readout, son of Pastor and Mrs. Clifford Readout of Enfield, CN, preached his first sermon from the pulpit of The Apostolic Church of Enfield. We met Tommy a few years ago and he won our hearts immediately. Although a Down’s Syndrome child, loving parenting has developed him into a dedicated believer.

Go to the website below and watch him preach his first message:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0kyVwNjMXA

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Books make great gifts!

It’s not too late to order for Christmas. How about these titles:

Food For Thought

By  Sylvia Ferrin

Are you fighting a seemingly losing battle with you weight? Have you been disappointed by diets? Is poor health hindering your mobility, preventing you from fulfilling your responsibilities, and keeping you from enjoying life to its fullest? Have you wanted to improve your health but didn’t know how? Filled with biblical and historical evidence, Food For Thought: A Healthy Temple For A Holy God contains keys that you can use to enter a life of vibrant health. The result of countless hours of research, this book will empower and encourage you to implement self-control, proper eating habits, and the consumption of nourishing and wholesome foods into your daily life. The author is the wife of an Apostolic evangelist.
Sister Nona Freeman says, “I sincerely hope that all ailing people can get a copy of this book to understand how poor dietary choices can lead to a plethora of diseases. This is by far the best book I have ever read on this subject.”

AM Price 16.95

Cooking With Wisdom

By  Sylvia Ferrin

Many people want to eat healthier and take better care of their bodies but simply don’t know where to start. This book is designed to accompany Food For Thought and will help you gently transition to a healthier lifestyle.

You’ll discover that cooking nourishing meals can be fun and rewarding. As you replace unhealthy foods with more nutritious options, your conscientious choices will yield gratifying benefits. And you will realize that good-for-you foods can also taste good!

AM Price 11.95

I Always Feel So Righteous When I Eat A Spinach Salad!

By  Marthalee Lyman

This book was created as a gift to those willing to take control of their health. Inside its cover you will find many home remedies and techniques that have stood the test of time. This is not a medical reference book, but rather a compilation of family remedies that have worked. An enjoyable read!

AM Price $15.95

Letters From A Roman Jail

By J. R. Ensey

This book has recently been updated and expanded. It draws themes from the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon. This has been one of our most popular books over the years. Now enlarged, you can find teachable material taken from the pen of Paul to share with your congregation.  AM price only 12.95

Order books and the Into His Marvelous Light Bible study from advanceministries.org or call 936-856-3419.

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“God took our heads out.”

Bible translation is an interesting topic. Subconsciously, Americans seem to think everyone in the world speaks English and that the only Bible is one that is written in English. Eugene Nida, a linguist and former Executive Secretary for Translations for the American Bible Society tells an interesting story of a missionary translating God redeemed us” in Bambara, the language spoken in Mali, West Africa. The literal translation for the phrase in Bambara is “God took our heads out.” The Africans had memories of the Arab slave traders forcing men and women to walk in chains and with heavy iron collars around their neck. If a chief or king saw someone in the line he wanted to free, he would have to pay the slave trader for the person and then take his head out of iron collar. Nida explains, “God saw us in slavery to sin and self, being driven under the lash of Satan, and so He sent His Son to die that men might live. He took our heads out.”

Source: Eugene Nida, God’s Word In Man’s Language (New York: Harper and Row, 1952), pp. 13,14

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Parting shot

I believe God only gives 3 answers to prayer:

1) “Yes!”

2) “Not yet!”

3) “I have something better in mind.”

Source: jesusweptministries.com

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Thanks for visiting. Have a great holiday season with friends and family. Remember the Reason for the season!

JREnsey

Published in: on December 1, 2010 at 2:01 AM  Leave a Comment  

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