Welcome to the DECEMBER blog!
The Word for today
“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. 3 So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. 6 So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. 7 And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn” (Luke 2:1-7 NKJV).
I wonder…were Joseph and Mary aware that a birth in Bethlehem would fulfill the prophecy of Micah 5:2?
Should Christians observe holidays?
Every year about this time the topic of the observance of holidays arises among Christian churches and ministers. Pastors are often confronted with questions about participating in these holidays. We have placed a series of articles under the title “Holidays and Christians” on our web site. Please CLICK HERE to go directly to them. They are published to simply provide information on this topic, not to state the position of this blogger.
Why does the Bible commend the Magi for following the star, when it condemns astrology?
The Bible does indeed condemn astrology (Leviticus 19:26; Deuteronomy 18:10; Isaiah 8:19), yet God blessed the wise men (Magi) for using a star to indicate the birth of Christ.
First, we need to ask what astrology is. Astrology is a belief that the study of the arrangement and movements of the stars can enable one to foretell events—whether they portend good or evil.
Second, the star used in the biblical account was to announce the birth of Christ, not to foretell the event. God gave the star to the Magi as a sign to proclaim to them that the child had already been born. We know the child was already born, because in Matthew 2:16, Herod gives a command to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and vicinity that are two years old or younger in accordance with “the time which he had ascertained from the Magi” (NASB).
Third, there are other cases in the Bible in which the stars and planets are used by God to reveal His desires. Psalm 19: 1-6 affirms that the heavens declare God’s glory, and Romans 1:18-20 teaches that creation reveals God’s existence. Christ refers to what will happen to the sun, moon, and stars in connection with His second coming (Matthew 24:29,30), as did the prophet Joel (2:31,32). The star guiding the Magi was not used to predict, but to proclaim the birth of Christ.
Adapted from Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, The Big Book of Bible Difficulties.
Who is breaking what down?
Barack Obama announced he would “ban the box” of criminal history questions on some government job applications, praising former inmates who had reintegrated with society and saying “it’s not too late” to break the cycles of the American justice system. Now no one will have to admit they have a criminal record to work for the government. Doesn’t that give you the warm fuzzies?
Canada moves toward more anti-Christian socialism
A Christian group has been denied a permit to hold its annual music festival in a downtown square by the City of Toronto, which declares that singing the name of Jesus in a public venue constitutes proselytizing. How is their “no proselytizing” ordinance different from similar laws in Russia and other socialistic/communist countries?
The UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed a resolution that declared the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron & Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as Islamic sites. This is an obvious attempt by the Arab Nations to change history and delegitimize Israel’s holy sites.
Are you tolerating the Jezebel spirit?
How can you tell if a Jezebel spirit is anywhere around?
What is the “Majority Text” of the Bible?
I recently read a packet of brochures advertised in a ministerial magazine that stated: “The King James Bible is the only Bible that uses the ‘Majority Text.’” (The Majority Text is abbreviated herein as MT.) The statement seemed to suggest that the KJV translators used the MT to translate that version. Since there was no MT, as such, in 1611, they could not have used it.
What is the MT? It is nineteenth and twentieth century compilations of the form of the Greek text found in the majority of extant Greek manuscripts. That the Textus Receptus (TR, pictured at right), which was the basic Greek textual source employed by the KJV translators, resembles the MT is not accidental. Erasmus simply referenced about a half dozen late Byzantine manuscripts that were available to him and the Latin Vulgate in compiling the TR. The TR/Byzantine manuscripts would later be used in producing the MT. In developing the MT, some scholars went through most of the Greek manuscripts and picked out words, phrases, and verses that appeared in a majority of the extant TR readings available at the time. Early proponents of the project were convinced that such a compilation would produce the reading closest to the original. At least four volumes have been printed proposing to be the MT. Each takes a slightly different approach to textual criticism. Some used manuscripts that were not available to others.
The collation revealed that the KJV reads differently from the MT in many places where the translators changed words, added words, and omitted words from the Greek text. Those holding to the Byzantine-based Majority Text must be willing to give up certain verses that are not in the majority of Greek manuscripts, such as Acts 8:37 and I John 5:7b-8a (the Trinitarian Johannine Comma). They would also have to give up all or parts of Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:3; Luke 7:31; 9:1; 17:36; 20:19, Acts 7:37; 9:5,6; Acts 10:6b; 10:21; 15:34; Romans 13:9; Revelation 1:11; 14:5, and many others. There would be no “raise the dead” in Matthew 10:8. They would also have to add back parts of other verses to match the MT. Perhaps that is why no Bibles are being published containing only the MT.
Birth order surprise
Many readers are familiar with certain birth order proponents, like Kevin Leman, et al. It provides conversation fodder and may be an interesting topic, but is it scientific? A study was recently completed that may be of interest those with siblings.
“Birth order has no meaningful effect on personality or IQ, massive study reports. For those who believe that birth order inﬂuences traits like personality and intelligence, a study of 377,000 high school students offers some good news: Yes, the study found, ﬁrst-borns do have higher IQs and consistently different personality traits than those born later in the family chronology. However, researchers say, the differences between ﬁrst-borns and ‘later-borns’ are so small that they have no practical relevance to people’s lives. The analysis is reported in the Journal of Research in Personality. “‘This is a conspicuously large sample size,’ said University of Illinois psychology professor Brent Roberts, who led the analysis with postdoctoral researcher Rodica Damian (now a professor of psychology at the University of Houston). ‘It’s the biggest in history looking at birth order and personality.’ “The analysis found—as a previous large-scale study did—that ﬁrst-borns enjoy a one-IQ-point advantage over later-borns, Damian said. The difference is statistically signiﬁcant but meaningless, she said.
“The analysis also revealed consistent differences in personality traits between ﬁrst-borns and later-borns—ﬁrst-borns tended to be more extroverted, agreeable and conscientious, and had less anxiety than later-borns, for example—but those differences were ‘inﬁnitesimally small, amounting to a correlation of 0.02, Roberts said, “The message of this study is that birth order probably should not inﬂuence your parenting, because it’s not meaningfully related to your kid’s personality or IQ,” Damian said.
Another reason not to look to celebrities for political guidance
UFC champion Ronda Rousey has made an endorsement in the 2016 presidential race: Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.
In a magazine interview, Rousey said she admired the Democratic socialist’s approach to fundraising.
“I’m voting for Bernie Sanders, because he doesn’t take any corporate money,” she said. “I don’t think politicians should be allowed to take money for their campaigns from outside interests.”
The martial arts star suggested she would not vote for Hillary Clinton if Sanders doesn’t win the Democratic nomination.
“If he doesn’t win against Hillary, then I’ll probably vote for a third party again,” she told Maxim. “To be honest, in 2012 I was against both candidates and so I just picked any third party because I thought if more people voted for third parties then they’d have to take third parties seriously.”
“If he doesn’t win against Hillary, then I’ll probably vote for a third party again…I voted for Roseanne [Barr] last time,” she said.
What terrific insight.
Gay marriage hurts no one, right?
The line that it affects no one but the couple, and injures no one else is being parroted by some ministers. What could approval of same sex marriage damage?
The economy—at least the economy of particular businesses. Businesses that cater weddings are being forced to provide those services for gay weddings that are against their religious beliefs. If they refuse, they are fined and some are closing in order not to have to provide those services. Companies are being forced to pay for “diversity and inclusivism” training. Hiring practices have to be adjusted, making it more difficult to find and train good help.
It hurts families. A strain is put on traditional husband-wife families, which represent about 95% of American families. Brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, and others have to adjust and tolerate the weirdness of it. Then there is the fact that no child will be born to them for continuance of the family name and heritage.
It ultimately takes certain freedoms away from the vast majority of citizens to allow tiny minorities to force their views on all others. Churches are being pressured to change their long-held, Scripture-based convictions in order to appease a few who insist of having their way regardless of who it may inconvenience.
The gay marriage issue and current “bathroom ordinances” in some cities are high on the LGBTQ agenda.
Sexual predator claiming to be “transgender” is jailed after assault on women in shelter
TORONTO, March 4, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A biological man claiming to be ‘transgender’ so as to gain access to and prey on women at two Toronto shelters was jailed “indefinitely” last week after being declared by a judge a “dangerous offender.”
Pro-family leaders are pointing out that this is exactly the type of incident they warned of as the Ontario government passed its “gender identity” bill, dubbed the “bathroom bill,” in 2012.
Christopher Hambrook, 37, leaned on the ever expanding legal “rights” offered to people who “identify” with the sex opposite their biology. Under the name “Jessica,” he was able to get into the women’s shelters, where he sexually assaulted several women in 2012, the Toronto Sun reported. Hambrook was a former stripper and escort from Quebec before moving to Toronto in 2009 and posing as a woman. While in Montreal he served four years in jail for a 2002 sexual assault of a five-year-old girl who was a family friend and for raping a mentally challenged 27-year-old woman while on bail for the first crime.
Now Dallas city council has passed a bill allowing transgender men in women’s restrooms. The ordinance makes any public restroom open to anyone’s “perceived gender identity as male, female, both, or neither.” It would apply to any facility of “public accommodation.” It lists those places but omitted churches. And what does “neither” mean? Must we lose our liberties in order for a minute few to exercise theirs? The ordinance would include restrooms encompassing showers and locker rooms.
Ladies, it is your turn to speak up on these issues. This weirdness needs to stop. Houston rejected a similar ordinance and Dallas should do the same. You know it won’t stop there. Churches will be on the list in time, and those that refuse to acquiesce to this ordinance will lose tax exemption. So how many genders are there?
Obama told us plainly that his administration would radically change America. He was right…but the voters who put him in were wrong. All this political correctness is coming down from Washington, particularly from the White House.
Dallas area pastors are encouraged to unite in opposition to this egregious ordinance. Let’s cover Dallas with prayer and every legitimate effort to repeal this ordinance.
I dislike publishing these stories…
…but they will eventually affect our churches and our congregations, so get ready. Matt Walsh sez:
“Transgenders” are [usually] men who struggle with mental illness and sexual perversion. Of all the men to permit in a girl’s locker room, one might argue that “transgenders” ought to be last on the list. Remember Lila Perry, the male “transgender” Missouri high school student who demanded, and was granted, the right to change and use the restroom with girls? A look at his own social media postings reveal that he is attracted to females (and males), and enjoys posting crude, explicit pictures of himself. What sort of parent wouldn’t be concerned about a vulgar, hypersexual boy like that using the locker room with their daughter? What sort of government claims that a boy like that has a civil right to infringe on the privacy and security of girls?
It’s really a remarkable thing. Liberalism is the prominent ideology in America, yet it is ultimately dominated by the most quantitatively insignificant group on the planet. Homosexuals are already a relatively rare breed, and “transgenders” are even more scarce. There are a handful of gender-confused people in this country, but their demands and desires trump everyone’s, including even the desires of the feminists who used to rule the liberal roost.
Source: Matt Walsh at http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/with-the-transgender-movement-liberalism-has-finally-descended-into-total-madness/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Firewire%20Morning%20Edition%20Recurring%20v2%202015-11-06&utm_term=Firewire_Morning_Test
A southern Wisconsin elementary school in Mt. Horeb cancelled a planned reading of a children’s book about a transgender girl after a group threatened to sue. The school district released a statement Wednesday saying it will not proceed with its planned reading of the book “I am Jazz,” the Capital Times reported. Parents and pastors: take note…take action. Check your children’s textbooks.
By E. L. Holley
They marveled! A closer observation revealed a lack of the long robes of learning. Such boldness! What was the answer? In the ﬁnal analysis, the critical clerics found the source of the apostolic boldness: “They had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).
The mark of men who have been with Jesus is boldness! And, in this day of doubt, it is still marvelous to see men who are bold in the Spirit! They do not indulge in weak ambiguities. Their words are decisive and their declarations plain. With a love that shines through their expression, such men use plainness of speech. No stammering of fearful uncertainty, but the clarity of “Thus saith the Lord” is their mark.
Such a boldness is not suggestive of a wild-eyed frenzy in which fear is the object. It isn’t threats or coercion. No, a thousand times, no! Abrasive speech is not indicative of boldness; rather, the very opposite.
Bold men are uninhibited by the paralyzing effects of fear. A visit with Jesus in prayer will enable a disciple to cast out all fear; indeed, perfect love affects this in the heart of a child of God. Presence of mind and freedom of speech and action are true marks of a holy boldness. To saturate the soul with God’s awesome presence is to create this condition. Witnessing is easy in such a state.
And what is the prerequisite for this frame of mind? The answer lies in being “with Jesus.” A spiritual aggressiveness is becoming more evident. A readiness to step out on the promises of God is obvious. It is a very contiguous condition!
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! To spend time in His presence is to stoke the ﬁres of fervency and faith. He wants us to stand up for Him in a world gone astray. He will embolden you.
First, however, you must get in His presence!
From The Best of E. L. Holley
Jesus after the resurrection
If Jesus had the same physical body after His resurrection, why did His disciples not recognize Him? (Luke 24:31b)
The two disciples walked with Jesus, talked with Him, and ate with Him and still did not recognize Him. Other disciples had the same experience (See verses below). If He rose in the same physical body (cf. Luke 24:39; John 20:27), then why didn’t they recognize Him?
Jesus did rise in the numerically same body of flesh and bones in which He died. There were many reasons why He was not immediately recognized by His disciples.
- Dullness – Luke 24:25,26
- Disbelief – John 20:24,25
- Disappointment – John 20:11-15
- Dread – Luke 24:36,37
- Dimness – John 20:1,14,15
- Distance – John 21:4
- Different clothes – John 19:23,24; cf. 20:6-8
Notice, however, two important things: the problem was only temporary, and before the appearance was over they were absolutely convinced that it was the same Jesus in the same physical body of flesh, bones, and scars that he had before the resurrection. And they went out of His presence to turn the world upside down, fearlessly facing death, because they had not the slightest doubt that He had conquered death in the same physical body in which He had experienced it.
Source: Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe in The Big Book of Bible Difficulties.
Many churches are in the throes of leadership transition or soon will be. In some cases, there is not an outright resignation of a pastor, but the matter of bringing in a minister with another title, and/or creating a new title for the current leader to move up, has become common. There are definite opportunities for successful leadership transitions but there are some pitfalls also. If you would like the results of a survey we have done on pastoral leadership transitions, call 936-537-0250 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This month’s “I Don’t Get It” Award
It goes to President Obama, hands down. He declared on Nov. 24 that the current climate change summit in Paris would be a “powerful rebuke” to terrorists. Speaking alongside French President Francois Hollande at a joint news conference, he said: “Next week, I will be joining President Hollande and world leaders in Paris for the global climate conference. What a powerful rebuke to the terrorists it will be, when the world stands as one and shows that we will not be deterred from building a better future for our children.”
The real terrorists in the eyes of this administration are the job-producing industries, factories and workplaces where employment provides a higher standard of living than they wish for Americans. Restricting them or closing them down will give those Islamic terrorists a real rebuking. Biff! Bam! Pow! Take that, you ISIL jihadis!
To further nail down the award, the president spoke of Republicans who were concerned about Islamic terrorists slipping into the country among the Syrian refugees: “Apparently they are scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America,” Obama said of Republicans. “At first, they were too scared of the press being too tough on them in the debates. Now they are scared of three-year old orphans. That doesn’t seem so tough to me.” As you can see in the photo, more widows and orphans are on their way. (Oops…no orphans or widows visible in the photo!)
But the clincher was when he added what we already knew: “What I’m not interested in doing is posing or pursuing some notion of ‘American leadership’ or ‘America winning.’” *
The digital age is wonderful in many ways, but there is still nothing like holding a book in your hand. These make great Christmas gifts for someone in ministry.
New Cyclopedic Theological Dictionary
by J. R. Ensey
The reference volume based on the biblical, apostolic viewpoint! Compiled and written by J. R. Ensey. When you want to know the meaning of a theological term, or the description of a religious movement, or the definition of over a thousand words that are found in reference works and the Bible…turn to The New Cyclopedic Theological Dictionary!
– Over 1000 entries
– Definitions and descriptions of many Bible words, theological
terms, and religious movements
– 486 pages of easy-to-read, easy-to-use information
– The only reference volume of its kind! Written from a conservative, apostolic viewpoint, this classic work has enhanced the study habits of thousands of ministers and laymen.
“This dictionary is far more than a word study; it is replete with the background and history of many doctrinal positions and teachings. It also serves as a standard for testing the validity of different theories. An invaluable tool!”
-Late Dr. Marvin Treece
AM Price $16.95
J. R. Ensey
Some younger men have called for reasons that specific holiness standards appear in the UPCI Manual. They were not around when the issues were debated and passed in conferences. It is easier in today’s cultural climate to give up the fight than to take the time to find out why Pentecostals believe what we do. Here are 224 pages of some common sense, Word-based answers for our apostolic positions.
• Why do Apostolics embrace the Bible as the Word of God?
• Why do Apostolics teach monotheism?
• Why do Apostolics receive the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues?
• Why do Apostolics disengage from a worldly lifestyle?
• Why do Apostolics abandon or avoid harmful personal practices?
• Why do Apostolics choose modest apparel and shun ornamental
• Why do Apostolic ladies refrain from cutting their hair and wearing
• Why do Apostolics live with a blessed hope?
“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (I Peter 3:15,16).
AM Price $12.95
A Hill To Die On
by J. R. Ensey
Is truth worth dying for? This book suggests that there are some things worth risking our reputations, our resources, and perhaps our lives for. A few years ago we would never have thought we would be where we are today as a nation. The Christian faith is rapidly being dismembered and deconstructed to make way for Islam. The rush of endtime prophecy fulfillment should stiffen the backbone of every Christian and make us realize there will be a price to pay for our faith. The nine chapters of this new book include:
– A Hill To Die On
– Truth in an Age of Deception
– Unity in an Age of Division
– Righteousness in an Age of Hedonism
– The Church in an Age of Spirituality
– Absolutes in an Age of Relativism
– God and Government
– Is American Christianity Returning to the Social Gospel?
– Our Finest Hour
AM Price $12.95
Health for the bones
Many churchgoers are like a hitchhiker’s thumb: “You buy the car, pay for repairs and insurance, fill it with gas, & I’ll ride with you. But if things don’t suit me, I’ll bail out. And if you have an accident, I’ll probably sue. This thumb is always out for a better ride.”
You don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. You don’t have to go home to be married either. But your relationship surely works better!
Seen on a Bible cover: “WARNING: Prolonged use of Holy Scripture may result in maturity, wisdom, character, holiness, and eternal life.”
“Some people are very much like old wheelbarrows—half full of dirt, useful only when pushed, and very easily upset.” – Vance Havner
One man said his wife didn’t have much a sense of humor. She told him, “I am going to try to please one person every day. Today is not your day, and it doesn’t look too promising for tomorrow.” Ouch!
The Last Shot
If Islam is a religion of peace, shouldn’t Islamic extremists be extremely peaceful? – Patriot Post
Thanks for visiting. Stop by next month. In the meantime, pray for our nation. And have a merry Christmas…and may it not be the last merry one we have if Jesus tarries.
* We love all of our leaders, including the President. We pray for them. We wish the best for them. Disagreement with statements or policies does not qualify as hate or hate speech.