The focus at Christmas
There is no Santa with a big bag of toys atop a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer. Christians should never mislead their children to believe in myths. There are plenty of ways to enjoy Christmas without injecting a mythical jolly old elf into the picture.
That being said, assuming the role of Grinch is not the best alternative. It is a time for reading the story of the first Christmas from the Bible, sharing gifts and hugs with children, renewing appreciation of loved ones, and enjoying a happy meal together.
Have a good time, but don’t forget Jesus. After all, it is His birthday we are celebrating.
Ten signs that you lead or attend a great church
Greg Stier on churchleaders.com recently posted an article listing ten signs that you are attending a great church.
- It is lead by a team of godly leaders not a Lone Ranger pastor who gathers Tonto-type leaders around him to say “Yes, Kemo Sabe” to his each and every idea (Titus 1:5-9).
- The Gospel is central to every sermon, program and meeting (1 Corinthians 15:3,4) and the advancement of it both locally and globally drive strategic initiatives (Acts 1:8).
- People are using their spiritual gifts not just watching the “stage team” exercise theirs (1 Corinthians 12:12-31), resulting in disciples being made and multiplied (2 Timothy 2:2).
- It, like the early church, is integrated, fully representing the demographic of the community in which it resides (Ephesians 2:11-21). By the way, my buddy Derwin Gray has got a lot of great material (blogs, sermons, etc.) on this particular point.
- Love, demonstrating itself in friendliness, generosity, internal/external care programs and community involvement, dominates the atmosphere (1 Corinthians 13:1-8).
- Most likely there is a thriving small group program where members truly can have great biblical conversations, share struggles and pray with/for each other (James 5:16).
- The people are being inspired and equipped to share their faith relationally, resulting in more and more new believers being added to the church (Acts 2:47).
- The teaching/preaching is biblical, theological and immensely practical (2 Timothy 3:16-17; 4:1-4).
- Ministry to children and teenagers are top priorities, not afterthoughts (Titus 2:1-8; Deuteronomy 6:4-9).
- Intercessory prayer fuels everything. It’s the engine, not the caboose, of how the church rolls from top to bottom (1 Timothy 2:1-8).
I invite my readers to suggest their own ten signs that are indicative of a great church.
Will miracles never cease?
Remember all those “missing” emails from former IRS official Lois Lerner the IRS said it was unable to retrieve? According to the IRS inspector general in a Friday afternoon news dump, they’ve now magically reappeared. Via the Washington Examiner: “Up to 30,000 missing emails sent by former Internal Revenue Service official Lois Lerner have been recovered by the IRS inspector general, five months after they were deemed lost forever. The U.S. Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) informed congressional staffers from several committees on Friday that the emails were found among hundreds of ‘disaster recovery tapes’ that were used to back up the IRS email system.” They are now in the process of being “decoded” (edited?).
That reminds me of the missing Whitewater documents that Hillary Clinton “lost” after they had been subpoenaed during her husband’s administration. After months of searching, they were magically found in the White House bedroom in plain sight.
Caliphate to advance on Jerusalem?
The Islamic State (IS) has announced that the Sinai Peninsula is now a caliphate, an Islamic state led by a supreme religious and political leader known as a caliph—i.e., a “successor” to Mohammed. Reports around the Arab world are claiming that the establishment of a caliphate in the Sinai is the first step towards its “advance on Jerusalem.” Tip for IS: Better think twice about that.
Egypt’s most active and notorious terror group, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has sworn allegiance to ISIS in Sinai. “After trusting in Allah, we have decided to swear allegiance to the Emir (leader) of the faithful, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (leader of ISIS), Caliph of the Muslims in Syria and Iraq and in other countries,” the group said in a statement cited by Reuters.
ISIS has in turn called on the Egyptian jihadists to “destroy police checkpoints, fire RPG rockets at their rallying points and to show the world that Allah’s rule must be enforced.”
Read the whole story:
We are seeing a national extortion—“If you don’t do as we say, we will blow you up, or behead you, or harm your children.” That may not be said outright, but that is the message folks are getting. It is the old mobster protection racket resurrected. Daily we see this scenario played out as school boards, city councils and legislators bow to their demands to remove all semblance of Christianity in America. The recent massacre in a Jewish synagogue in Jerusalem proves they will stop at nothing, especially when they know there is a wimp in the White House. Let’s continue to pray for our leaders that they will stand strong against the enemies of Israel and the anti-American forces within our own borders.
In a review of a book by Howard Sugden and Warren Wiersbe called Answers to Pastors; FAQs, Doug Kutilek pulled out several quotes that were deemed worthy of mention:
“When you are called [by God into the ministry], you have an inner conviction that will not permit you to invest your life in any other vocation.” (p. 11)
“Church members sometimes feel that pastors tamper with the church constitution only because they want more power to ‘run the church’ their way. Sometimes this is true [sadly, yes it is—ed.], but it should not be true of your ministry.” (p. 37)
“J. Hudson Taylor was right: When God’s work is done in God’s way, for God’s glory, it never lacks God’s supply. God is not obligated to pay for our selfish schemes. He is obligated to support His ministry.” (p. 50)
“Gilbert K. Chesterton said, ‘Never take down a fence until you know why it was put up.’” (p. 51)
“We improve the preaching by improving the preacher.” (p. 55)
“The Bible is full of spiritual riches, and if a man preached or taught forty times a week instead of four, he could not exhaust it. (He might exhaust himself.)” (p. 86)
“There are people whose only mark of identity is that they live with the same perpetual problem, but if you helped them solve that problem, they’d lose their identity. They probably don’t want the problem solved.”
“The church is so much like the world that we don’t seem to have much influence on the world, and only the Holy Spirit can change this. We’ve substituted promotion for prayer and entertainment for worship and preaching, and we fear that much of our so-called ‘success’ may be shallow and temporary. What was once a sanctuary is today more like a theater, and the glory has departed.” (p. 183)
“Campbell Morgan said, ‘The church did the most for world when the church was the least like the world.’ “ (p. 184)
“We don’t believe that ‘traditional’ and ‘contemporary’ services are biblical or even necessary. The church is a family, and no matter what our ages we must learn to worship together. But the service must be balanced—‘psalms, hymns and spiritual songs’ (Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16). The separated services not only segregate the generations that ought to minister to each other, but they also divide families when children and parents ought to be worshiping together.” (p. 186)
The House of David verified
An extraordinary inscription from Israel referencing the Davidic dynasty is currently on display in New York. Written around 830 B.C.E.—about 150 years after King David would have reigned—the inscription references Ahaziahu, king of “the House of David”—or Judah. (Words in white.) That the nation of Judah is referred to as the “House of David” is significant because it is the only archaeological evidence of a historical David—a belief that had been hotly debated prior to this discovery—thus substantiating part of the biblical narrative.
All you doubters in academia, Hollywood, and the media—get a life. The Bible is accurate. It is your stupid theories that are getting banged around by the facts. Archaeology is solidly on the side of the biblical record. Deal with it.
Words to remember
“Islam isn’t in America to be equal to any other faith, but to become dominant. The Qu’ran should be the highest authority in America and Islam the only accepted religion on earth.” – Omar Ahmad, the chairman of CAIR (Council on American/Islamic Relations).
“[T]o preserve the republican form and principles of our Constitution and cleave to the salutary distribution of powers which that [the Constitution] has established…are the two sheet anchors of our Union. If driven from either, we shall be in danger of foundering.” —Thomas Jefferson, letter to Judge William Johnson, 1823
The purpose of the United States Constitution is to limit the power of the federal government, not the American people. – The Patriot Post
Robin Williams and drugs
Popular actor/comedian Robin Williams’ death made news headlines for weeks after his death by suicide. Prophets, pundits, and pontificators from all walks of life had much to say about his decision to take his life. Why would such a successful man loved by millions do that?
First toxicology reports suggested that no drugs were found in his system at the time of his death. Wrong. They were speaking only of illegal drugs. The medical examiner’s report states that an antidepressant drug was in Williams’ system at the time of his death. The particular antidepressant, Mirtazapine, (also known as Remeron) carries 10 international drug regulatory warnings on causing suicidal ideation. It carries the FDA “Black Box” warning for suicidality. A container of Seroquel, an antipsychotic drug, was also found at the scene and appears to have been taken by Williams. The prescription filled just seven days before had 8 pills missing. Side effects associated with Seroquel include psychosis, paranoid reactions, delusions, depersonalization and suicide attempt.
You may wonder why similar reports find their way into this blog. Few others are speaking out on this issue, so someone needs to. 90,000 emergency room visits are attributed to psychiatric drugs each year in the U.S. 23,755 suicides are attributed to psychiatric drugs each year in the U.S. alone. Apostolics are not totally absent from those numbers. But we seem to treat the problem as though silence about it will cause it to go away. As spiritual leaders, the laity often seek our counsel concerning psychotic treatment. Please get the facts on these dangerous drugs many doctors are paid to prescribe before offering advice—either pro or con.
Review of CT article on Pentecostalism
The PhDs still haven’t figured us out. Why do Pentecostals continue to multiply? They keep taking surveys, asking philosophical questions, scratching their heads and doing the theological ballet—toe-dancing around clear biblical revelations.
They are losing members right and left and cry, “The sky is falling!” on Christianity, while we keep planting churches and praying folks through to a biblical experience with God. When you de-emphasize what the Bible emphasizes, you lose. You lose authenticity. You lose reality. You lose passion. You lose legitimacy. Read the article at this site:
The folks in Latin America have us in focus, even if the mainline Protestants and Roman Catholics don’t. They get it.
The birth of Gruberisms
Jonathan Gruber was a highly paid architect (almost six million $ of your tax dollars) of the so-called Affordable Care Act, a misnomer if there ever was one. It is better known as Obamacare. He is a Harvard trained PhD professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology—with tenure. A dangerous combination, indeed. A brilliant man, no doubt. Highly educated. Smart. But his humility and common sense you could hide in a flea’s navel. As Vice President under Nixon, Spiro Agnew, might say, “He is among an effete corps of elitist, impudent snobs who characterize themselves as intellectuals.”
He has even given the current American vocabulary a new series of words: “Gruber, Grubering, Grubered, Gruberism.”
With at least six videos surfacing within the last month with him describing how they developed and passed Obamacare by subterfuge, he has become a national media celebrity of sorts. This swellhead calls the American people stupid, so with the sleight of hand tactics of a card shark he and others in the White House, including the President (he visited the White House 19 times working on O’care), figured out a way to deceive the public about the real nature of Obamacare in order to get it passed. The only ones really fooled were the Democrats in Congress who passed it. No Republican voted for it. The average American voter knew there were some lies and deception involved, perhaps outright fraud.
As you suggested that we would, Nancy, after you passed the bill we are finding out exactly what is in the bill—higher taxes, income redistribution, inferior care, higher deductibles, and more expensive premiums. All was kept hidden from the public by a plethora of falsehoods, including those told by the President.
Now Gruber’s videos and other recently surfacing facts are revealing that what millions knew already in their hearts—Obamacare’s real goal was to create chaos in the health industry that would to collapse into a single-payer system (read: VA system), which would be the means of ultimate population control. After the first video was shown on the news, he tried to walk it back and claim it was merely an off-the-cuff statement that he regretted making. However, five more videos have now shown him making similar disparaging remarks about the misinformed, stupid, and racist Americans. He admits that in order to get it passed, there had to be deception and a lack of transparency.
He simply got caught telling the real truth about his elitist view of ignorant America. “Gruberisms” are thus created when someone “accidentally” and unintentionally reveals the truth about the falsehoods they have perpetrated.
A Sir Walter Scott wrote so long ago: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.”
PS: Gruber suggests O’care passed thanks to voter stupidity. Here are the votes: Democrats – 219; Republicans – 0. I tend to agree with those who say that we have a government of the Grubers, by the Grubers, and for the Grubers in Washington.
Who would know?
A school teacher in a church I know of told a friend, “I am the most educated person in the church.” The friend told her husband that the lady should have let someone else brag on her brilliance. He replied, “Well, I guess she would be the one to say it, because no one else in the church knows it.”
Muslims discovered America in 1178?
During the closing session of the First Summit of Latin American Muslim Religious Leaders in Istanbul, Turkey on 11/15/14, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Muslims discovered the Americas in the 12th century, nearly three centuries before Christopher Columbus set foot there.
“Contacts between Latin America and Islam date back to the 12th century,” the president said Saturday during an Istanbul summit of Latin American Muslim leaders. “Muslims discovered America in 1178, not Christopher Columbus.”
Erdogan added that “Columbus mentioned the existence of a mosque on a hill on the Cuban coast.”
Scholars acknowledge that no pre-Columbian Muslim ruins have ever been found in the Americas. The entry in Columbus’ diary is widely understood to have been a reference to the shape of the landscape.
Source: Drudge Report
Give it up, Erdogan…camels could not have swum that far.
Reach for the reachable
I was reading Ecclesiastes 4:6 the other morning: “Better one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.” My focus fell on the beginning of the verse and the ending: “Better one handful…[than] chasing after the wind.” Solomon seems to suggest that one handful is reachable and attainable, but one is not likely to catch the wind. Go after something that you can catch appears to be the message.
I wondered—would it be better to succeed in a series of smaller challenges than to fail in a huge one and fall into a depressed funk, as I have seen men do many times as a result of trying to accomplish too much? Don’t set the bar too low, but make it reachable.
I remember when Brother Pugh and I were promoting personal evangelism from the Home Missions Division, we did not try to arouse churches to “go out and win the world.” Rather, go out and reach one or two persons this week. Each one win one. That is not an expression of doubt or negativism but one of realism. The big-sounding ideas that involve “changing the world” overnight are unlikely to be realized.
Seeing some daredevil rock climber reaching the top of Matterhorn is supposed to motivate us to get out to Academy or Sears and get our own climbing gear. Unlikely. That doesn’t mean that history is devoid of one lone person impacting the world by some invention or particular act such as Gutenberg or Edison or the Wright Brothers. Must we all be forced to compare ourselves to Alexander the Great, Madam Curie, Joan of Arc, or Edmund Hillary? Must multitudes be consigned to frustration and fear and embarrassment if they are not operating in that category?
Often when goals are being discussed they are usually exemplified by a photo of some lone person leaping across a mountain chasm eight feet across and a mile deep? Or words against a city skyline with the challenge to “Take the city!” What would they do with it? Few, if any, have truly accomplished that. How about “take your neighbor[hood]”? Or “Teach IHML this week to a friend.”
That does not suggest to avoid setting some long range objectives, but let them be realistic goals that serve as insurance against frustration and discouragement. “Chasing the wind” is a futile endeavor, and catching it is an unattainable objective. Let’s still challenge each other to do that which perhaps hasn’t been done before but can be done by looking beyond our own feet. “Lift up your eyes,” Jesus said, “and look on the fields.” Something or someone is reachable.
Ever wonder why…?
Why will a plastic bag not open from the end on your first try?
Why is there never a day when mattresses are not on sale?
Why will someone quickly believe you when you say there are four billion stars, but will check for themselves when you tell them the paint is wet.
Why do they use sterilized needles for death by lethal injection?
In winter why do we try to keep the house as warm as it was in summer when we complained about the heat?
Why do people constantly return to the refrigerator with hopes that something new to eat will have materialized?
Why do people keep running over a string a dozen times with their vacuum cleaner, then reach down, pick it up, examine it, then put it down to give the vacuum cleaner one more chance?
Why is it that whenever you attempt to catch something that’s falling off the table, you always manage to knock something else over?
“A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men” (Proverbs 18:16 KJV). Most of the time when this verse is quoted the last part is omitted. It is used to focus on an individuals skills, spiritual acumen, and positive traits. Those attributes can open doors for him to minister and be of service. Probably all of us have employed this verse at times to make that point. Although true in a sense, this verse may not be the best one for a proof text for that theory. The thrust here seems to involve giving a gift, not possessing one.
The latter part of the verse lets us know that it is likely that the “gift” spoken of in the first part is a literal one—an actual gift to someone in a position to reward the giver. The Complete Jewish Bible renders the verse this way: “A person’s gift clears his way and gives him access to the great.” Almost all translations clearly reflect this understanding.
In other words, a gift gives him leverage. It gets him in where others who do not have the ability to give significant gifts are left out. This is not something the Bible is indiscriminately advocating, but something that occurs in the real world. It can have positive connotations. Eliezer’s gifts made room for him in Rebekah’s family. (Genesis 24:30-33). Jacob’s gifts made room for him in Esau’s heart (Genesis 33:1-11). Ehud’s gifts made room for his errand (Judges 3:17,18). Gifts were common in Bible times as a tribute of respect (I Samuel 9:7). Wisdom and discernment must accompany proper motives in this activity lest we cross a line that involves corrupting influences (Proverbs 17:23).
The Bible makes other observations of activities that are not necessarily promoted, merely acknowledged as occurring, or perceived to be occurring. Consider Proverbs 19:6; 29:26; 30:14. The Book of Ecclesiastes contains many such observations.
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Laughing with Maxine and others
Someone who calls himself Razor posted this observation: “[Obama] is the first president ever to hear voters that didn’t vote, then take action the very next week to respond to them.”